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Broken by MajiKat

Format: Novel
Chapters: 14
Word Count: 55,573
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Strong Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse

Genres: Horror/Dark, Mystery, Romance
Characters: Draco, Scorpius, Hugo, Rose, OC, OtherCanon
Pairings: Rose/Scorpius, Other Pairing

First Published: 08/08/2010
Last Chapter: 02/15/2011
Last Updated: 02/15/2011

Summary:








Scorpius Malfoy wants a wife.
There it was, splashed across half a page in the Prophet. It was the stupidest thing Rose had ever heard, so why were Lucy and Roxanne so eager? Why was her boss sending her to investigate the Manor? Why were girls starting to disappear...and someone was painting images of the Once Dark Lord all over town.


Chapter 1: (un)happy birthday
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Chapter 1
(un)Happy Birthday



The setting sun beat down gently. The breeze was cool, kissing the back of her neck and teasing loose pieces of her hair. It really was a glorious day, the way the light stretched across her grandmother’s garden and lit the faces of her family, assembled for her special day. Twenty five was a milestone, according to her grandmother; it was an age that spoke of promise, of truly leaving all the accolades of adolescence behind her. The air was laden with the scent of both flowers and her grandmother’s cooking; why her mother couldn’t cook like grandmother was something Rose did not understand. Not that her mother’s cooking was bad – it just wasn’t this good.

With a mouth full of pie, Rose was trying her best to ignore her brother. She was not speaking to Hugo – again – and this time, everyone agreed that it really was his fault. For once, he had done something out of the ordinary and took Rose out the day before her birthday, promising she would be entertained, excited and very possibly, enchanted. What was not out of the ordinary was Hugo making a mess of everything.

Hugo forgot birthdays, anniversaries, dinner, phone numbers. He ignored owls, texts, knocks on the door. Rose recalled school – he forgot homework, to get dressed properly, where his classes were and on one occasion, the Hogwarts Express. Their mother dismayed; their father assured her he would grow out of it, but at almost twenty-three, it appeared Hugo was not going to change.

So it didn’t really surprise Rose when it slipped her brother’s tiny mind that she hated quidditch. Detested it, really. She could not see the point in it and no matter how many times people (uncles, cousins, her father, brother) sat her down and tried to explain the benefits, she could not see it. It was nothing more than a supercilious waste of time; an excuse for people to show off, for guys to hit one another and for girls to act ridiculous trying to impress them. Rose knew girls played quidditch as well – Lucy was brilliant, much to her father’s dismay. Rose knew from snatches of adult conversation overhead in kitchens and hallways, that Uncle Percy wanted Lucy to choose something “more dignified” to do with her life, like follow him into the Ministry. She was intelligent, quick-witted and could have an illustrious career of her choosing, but Lucy just wanted to play quidditch.

Taking his sister to a quidditch match as a birthday present was the first thing Hugo got wrong. The second, was standing her up. He’d called her the night before, making sure she was still going to meet him in Diagon Alley, and then, once Rose had calmed down and gracefully accepted that her day would entail screaming, sweat and stupid girls, she had settled back in her seat, figuring she may as well try and enjoy (or at least tolerate) the game and trying not to think about her irritating brother. He was attempting to do something nice, thoughtful even, after all.

Hugo went to buy drinks – “I’ll be right back, Rosie; pay attention and tell me if anyone scores” – and, to her absolute mortification, he didn’t come back. Some masochistic part of Rose decided to stay and see the game out, becoming quickly aware of just how fanatical some of the fans could be. A fight broke out a few rows below her; people yelled insults and hurled abuse at both the players and each other. The noise was unbearable, the sweat that dripped down her spine cold on her skin and if one more person bumped her as they jumped out of their seats...

The emotions of the crowd rose and feel like a giant wave; sighs, screams, wails of disappointment; the thoughts of those around her seemed to rise like a living entity and settle around her shoulders, making her feel ill. It had never been this intense at school. Unsettled and sick of waiting, Rose stood up and pushed her way out of the stands using elbows and her fiercest expression and stalked home thinking blood-thirsty thoughts about her useless brother.

What Hugo did all day, and most of the night, was beyond any of them. His circle of friends was not the most auspicious of characters and Rose knew her mother was worried about the sort of influence “those boys” had on Hugo. Rose worried too; worried that one day she’d have to write his name in association with a crime spree, deal gone wrong, or mugging, or worse. Rose loved her brother, but she did not love what he had become lately: self-obsessed, obnoxious, even more unreliable and, there was no other word for it, lazy. She knew why, of course, but also knew there was nothing she could do about it. If Hugo wanted to be friends with...that, then it was his choice.

Now, Hugo sat across the table from her, wearing his best puppy-dog expression. It did not sit well with his bloodshot eyes and sallow skin. Rose had smothered a smirk that morning, when Hugo stumbled into the Burrow, walking straight into a tongue lashing from both mother and grandmother.

“How could you do that to your sister?”

“It was supposed to be for her birthday!”

“I am honestly getting tired of this behaviour, Hugo. You’re an adult now and how you choose to spend your time is up to you but I will not have you breaking promises to your family.”

“What about making a fool of himself in public?” That was James. Smiling broadly, Rose watched with delight as her cousin, his face a mask of fake concern, walked into the kitchen. “He got kicked out of The Hogs Head, him and Malfoy.”

“Hugo! Of all the things...and with Scorpius?”

Hugo spread his fingers in a gesture of defeat. “It wasn’t our fault. There were these trolls, or ogres, or whatever, and they-”

“I don’t care. The Malfoy’s may be able to afford the best possible lawyer but I tell you, we can’t.”

“Lawyer? Who needs a lawyer?” Hugo asked.

“You will, one day,” Rose chimed in, leaning against the bench; her mother shot her an exasperated glance and Rose shrugged.

“You look like shit,” James added.

Hugo scowled and stalked away, snatching up yesterday’s copy of The Prophet on the way.

“Didn’t realise you could read,” James called, and Rose giggled. They were both told off by Grandma Weasley, for ‘teasing’, and ordered out into the garden to wait for lunch. Rose didn’t mind. There was nothing she could do to help in the kitchen, not that she would be allowed to anyway, especially not today. Her birthday. So far, not counting Hugo, it had been a pleasant day. Roxanne and Lucy had come by her flat, bearing gifts. Neither could make lunch, much to the consternation of the rest of the family. Victoire and Teddy would not be there either, off enjoying married life. Rose didn’t mind; there would be enough family there to make it a special event, or give her a headache, or a bit of both.

By the time everyone had arrived, it was later than expected and lunch had become an early dinner. Lanterns floated around the trees, bobbing up and down gracefully, and the long, wooden table was overflowing with food. After the fight, Hugo had spoken to no one except Albus, and now, Rose and her cousins were gathered at one end of the large table and her parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents at the other. Hugo was telling Al, in a loud and important voice, that Scorpius had invited him to the Manor, for “something special.” Rose snorted, having a fair idea of what that might be – more drinking, gambling and acts she would rather not think of her brother engaging in.

Scorpius Malfoy’s reputation was nothing short of embarrassing, if only by association. Rose felt herself blush whenever she overheard stories in a cafe, or at work, and wondered constantly what his parents thought. He wasn’t that terrible a person; he was just supremely confident in himself, a trait Rose found rather pathetic. She’d ignored him at school, done what her father asked and beaten him in nearly every test but she could not, despite her mother’s gentle suggestions that the boy was probably lonely, befriend him.

That task, later in life, fell to Hugo. Rose wasn’t even sure why, or how, they were friends. Knowing he liked to irritate her, she considered the possibility that Scorpius had chosen Hugo as his new chum simply to annoy her. After several years though, she had to admit the friendship between the two men was not going away. The unfortunate thing about it was that Hugo was slowly morphing into Scorpius.

Rose sat watching her brother, wondering what was going on his head. Hugo glanced up, caught her watching and suddenly smiled a sly smile before slinking away to whisper in their mother’s ear. Rose watched him, suspicious and suddenly very apprehensive when Hermione smiled.

“What an excellent idea,” she said, her eyes swinging to Rose, who stopped breathing. “Rose, dear,” she said excitedly. Rose watched as her mother approached, slipping into the chair James vacated and held out for her. “Thank you, James; such a gentleman.”

Lily scoffed into her wine.

Hermione was practically gushing. “Hugo has had a wonderful idea.”

“Really?” Rose asked warily.

“I do have them sometimes,” her brother said indifferently, pulling a now very crumbled Daily Prophet from his back pocket. How Hugo managed to destroy anything made from paper in such a short period of time was beyond Rose’s comprehension. He tossed the paper at her; it landed in her lap, narrowly missing spilling her wine and she scowled. “Go to page three,” Hugo said, smirking again. Rose narrowed her eyes, but did as she was asked. Scanning the page, she frowned, and then burst out laughing.

“Oh you’ve got to be kidding!”

Scorpius Malfoy wants a wife.

Rose snorted. Beyond the first sentence, she did not bother reading the rest of the half page advertisement. There was an extremely large photograph of Scorpius, smiling and preening like a prized beast, and Rose shook her head, shutting the pages on his face, enjoying hearing him squeak with indignation. She couldn’t believe her mother had printed it.

Just one year ago, her mother had decided she was tired of sitting at home and needed a job. Good on her, Rose thought at the time, getting back into the workforce. What she did not anticipate was that her mother would become her new boss. Rose had to admit that The Daily Prophet ran much smoother under Hermione’s leadership; circulation was up, the content of the articles had improved. “If you want to write gossip, go and work at Witch Weekly,” Hermione had told several budding female journalists. “This is a serious paper covering serious topics.”

Rose turned to her mother. “I didn’t think you were going to print…rubbish.”

Hermione had the grace to blush. “Yes, well. We were given a rather…large donation.”

You took a bribe,” Rose stated, shaking her head. “Unbelievable.”

“It was not a bribe. It was a donation, worth much more than any advertising space. Money is money, and the paper needs it,” Hermione said, sitting up straight.

Rose watched as her cousins gathered descended on the paper like vultures over a carcass, fighting over who would read the advertisement first. “The prize is a thousand galleons!” breathed Dominique, the victor. She held the paper close to her chest, blue eyes gleaming in the semi-darkness. She looked too enthusiastic.

“By all means, enter,” Fred was saying. “You scrub up alright. Even Malfoy would be impressed.”

Dominique shook her head importantly. “Dad would kill me and anyway, I’m not that desperate.”

“No, of course not,” Louis muttered. “You didn’t come out of your room for a week after the wedding.”

“You’re not tempted, Rosie?” Al asked, a wicked grin on his face.

“Tempted? You have got to be kidding. Tempted to take part in a…what is it called? Oh yes,” Rose exclaimed, snatching the paper from Dominique and scanning the advertisement, “’competition to win the heart of the proverbial bachelor, Scorpius Malfoy.’ Ha!”

“Apparently, Roxanne and Lucy are going,” Hugo stated. The silence that followed was deep, stretching into the night, until Molly starting coughing.

“They what? Oh dad will kill her.” She was grinning; Molly had always complained that Lucy was the favourite.

Hugo shrugged. “According to Scorpius anyway. You know he still likes Roxanne? He never really got over her.”

“Yeah, because she was the first girl with enough sense to dump him before he ruined her life,” Rose bit back scathingly. She had not forgiven Roxanne for being stupid enough to get involved with the arrogant blonde in the first place. It was a short lived romance, over before it really got going. He was too clingy, Roxanne complained.

“Mum’s going to send you in, get an exclusive. I bet you’d sell more copies if you included a running commentary on the whole thing,” Hugo said, picking up a napkin. He tapped it with his wand, and a small white boat floated on the hair, picking up speed until it almost crashed into Rose’s nose. She swatted it away indifferently. She was used to such things.

“I really don’t think people are that interested in Malfoy’s love life.”

Hermione cleared her throat. “Actually, Rose, darling, that is-”

Rose felt the blood drain from her face. “Oh no. No way. You cannot be serious?”

“Well you always claimed you wanted to be the sort of reporter who got right in there,” Hermione stated, not looking the least bit sorry, or concerned. She had switched into editor mode and Rose blinked at her, shocked and beginning to grow very, very angry.

Slowly, she turned to her brother. Hugo was sitting back in his chair, smiling, while all around him, their cousins wore mixed expressions; Lily was chewing her nails, looking worried: Fred was laughing, Molly was trying not to laugh, Dominique and Louis were bickering between themselves, Albus was grinning and James was frowning.

“I hate you,” Rose hissed at her brother, who yawned.

“You’d better buy a new bikini,” Hugo commented.

“A new what?” Rose screeched, rising to her feet, wand in hand. Her mother stood also, worry starting to creep onto her face.

“Yeah, for the Bikini Contest.” Hugo’s grin was so wide it seemed his face had stretched. Rose wanted to scream; she was thinking violent thoughts again and every single one of them ended with her brother on the ground, bleeding and unconscious.

“You won’t be going in any contests,” her mother was saying, giving Hugo a stern glare. “You will be there as a reporter, not a contestant. And,” Hermione went on, before Rose could protest, “If Roxanne and Lucy are going to be there, it might be a good idea to have you there as well, in case things get…messy. You know how they can be.”

“It’ll be fun, Rosie,” Hugo was saying.

“Who says I’m even going? You need to grow up, Hugo.”

Hugo sighed and rolled his eyes. “Give it a rest. Scorpius is okay.”

“Naturally,” Rose snapped, “If you like vipers, or worms, or other creepy crawly things.”

“Relax,” Hugo said so casually it made Rose suspicious. She narrowed her eyes, fingers clenched tightly into fists as her brother stood up and stretched. “I’m heading home.”

“Remember to thank your grandmother for dinner,” Hermione said. “Rose, we can talk about this more at work tomorrow.”

Rose slowly sank down into her chair. No one said anything. Al went with Hugo, and slowly, people drifted off until it was just Rose and James sitting in the sweltering darkness.

James cleared his throat. “Happy birthday?”

Rose drained a glass of wine and let her head fall into her hands.



Cast List:
Rose Weasley - Lily Cole
Scorpius Malfoy - Alex Pettyfer
Hugo Weasley - Nicolas Bemberg


Chapter 2: Send in the Clowns
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Chapter 2
Send in the Clowns


It had always been up to Rose to be the responsible one. There were no all night, and only one late night, parties at her flat, nor did she attend them anywhere else. She had never been escorted home by both the muggle and wizard police. She didn’t live with their parents anymore. She knew how to work a washing machine, a vacuum cleaner and how to feed herself. She had a job, a career, while her brother sat around by the pool somewhere with Scorpius, went out drinking cocktails with Scorpius, slapped Scorpius on the back when he needed it, wiped his ar…

Rose took a deep calming breath, trying to steady her nerves, and her temper. She was more than annoyed at her mother for taking Hugo’s stupid, crazy, absurd idea into her head and deciding that she, Rose, would be the best choice for the Prophet’s stupid candid daily column direct from Malfoy Manor.

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. She had to admit it; Hugo was right. People were interested. Last week, the Prophet had gotten several Owls asking for more information, even though the ad said to contact Draco Malfoy directly. People couldn’t read, obviously, Rose decided. That, or they were just idiots.

Good idea or not, Rose didn’t understand why it had to be her. Why not one of the other journalists? Well, if it had to be her…she smiled slyly, thinking of all the nasty, horrid things she would be able to write about Scorpius Malfoy, before recalling the first rule of journalism: always remain objective.

“Never stopped Rita Skeeter,” she muttered under her breath.

Rose made a mental list of history’s dictators: Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Lord Voldemort, Hermione Granger…she supposed she was being unfair, including her mother in that list. She did only want the best for the paper, and for Rose, and Rose knew that, irritating or not, this would be a big story, and a chance for her to make a name for herself. The one thing she appreciated about working for her mother was that Hermione never showed her any favours. Rose had to slog it out with the worst of them, ordering coffees, filing, stacking paper, and copping abuse from the cranky old witch who did the photo editing.

Rose checked she had her camera, and sighed again. She’d have to take pictures. She could see it now: Scorpius lounging around poolside while a dozen girls, her cousins included, paraded about in their bikinis. It was all too much; this was definitely going to kill her. Hugo had finally gotten what he wanted – his sister, totally disempowered and in a situation she could not talk her way out of.

Now, a week after her birthday, Rose was standing outside the wrought iron gates of Malfoy Manor. The competition wasn’t due to start for another day, but she was here early to “get some history,” as her mother put it. Rose snorted. She already knew about the Malfoy’s; everyone knew about the Malfoy’s. She didn’t understand why she had to spend even more time with them. But, she knew also that her first article would need quotes, and for that, she had to go directly to the source.

Rose had never met Scorpius’ parents; she had seen them from a distance, on Platform 9 ¾ and at functions, like their end of school feast and graduation, as well as on the street in Diagon Alley, but she had never spoken to them. The idea of doing so was quietly terrifying. Astoria Malfoy looked like a nice woman – tall and slim, with delicate features and fine blonde hair, she had an ethereal quality about her that reminded Rose of the fairies in her muggle story books. Astoria had a nice smile, but then again, Rose had only seen her smile at her son.

She thought then about Draco Malfoy. She knew the stories, from his downfall to his almost redemption all those years ago, and she knew that he had worked tirelessly to make a name for himself in the community – a name other than that his father had carried. The name Malfoy had a different meaning these days, and Rose knew she shouldn’t be concerned, but there was something about him that put Rose on edge. He commanded attention, and she wondered how he would react to her, a Weasley, asking questions about his family’s private life. She hoped he’d be cooperative. She didn’t need much from him, just a nice line to include in her story.

“Well, he did agree to this stupid competition,” Rose said furiously, angry at herself for worrying. “How bad can he be?”

She tried not to think about Scorpius. She supposed the saying, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all, applied to thoughts as well. She wasn’t sure what it was about him exactly that annoyed her so much; perhaps it was his lack of responsibility, his careless spending of his father’s fortune, which would not last forever, and the fact that, whenever he saw her, he felt it necessary to wink at her, like they were sharing some deep and torrid secret.

Rose looked up at the towering black gates. Instead of being imposing, she found them oddly pleasant. A delicate filigree crept between the columns, and the centre of the gate swept upwards, reaching for the branches of the oaks that dangled above. The great trees sat either side of the gate, behind the yew hedge, seeming to hold both tightly in their ancient embrace.

Beyond the gates and the stately oaks, Rose could see row upon row of greenery; different shades mingled together, punctuated occasionally by a burst of colour. She could smell flowers on the air – roses in particular. Clearing her throat, she asked the gates if she was allowed to enter, just as her mother had instructed.

A very bored voice answered. “Business?” it drawled.

“Rose Weasley, here to interview the Malfoy family for The Daily Prophet,” Rose said clearly. She almost heard the gate sigh, before it swung free, making her step back quickly for fear of being knocked over. “Thank you,” she told the iron, stepping hastily inside in case it had no patience. Magical things, she had discovered, often didn’t.

The walk to the Manor was long, but Rose did not mind. She levitated her trunk, shouldered her smaller carry bag and took out her camera, slinging the instrument around her neck, just in case. Soon, though, she forgot about the camera, so enamoured was she with her surroundings. The white gravel of the driveway sparkled and crunched gently under her feet. The garden itself was incredible; yarrow, honeysuckle, lavender, purple coneflower, marigolds – their combined scent was almost overwhelming. Ivy climbed gleefully up the trunks of trees, over wooden arches, creeping along beside her as she walked. Willow trees spread their limbs across the path, trailing leaves, and a hazelnut was almost smothered by climbing roses. There were many other trees – ash, alder and the sharp looking holly – and everywhere were daisies, violets and pansies. The grass was lush and vividly green and Rose smiled, wondering if the Malfoy’s would consent to an interview outdoors. She never wanted to leave this magical garden.

The Manor itself was stunning, a grand statement of architecture. Rose had seen photographs of it, but had to admit, it was more impressive in person. A fountain of white marble sat off the drive to the left, surrounded by flowers. She had heard the Malfoy’s kept peacocks, and had hoped to encounter one on her walk. She made up her mind to see the birds before she left. Ivy and climbing roses consumed one side of the grand house; windows peeked through the greenery, decorated with delicate lace curtains. Rose stood looking up at the house, attempting to count windows, and wondered absently which window would become hers while she was here. She hoped for a view of the gardens; her stay may just be tolerable if she could wake up to such a wonderful sight every morning.

The front door was made of dark timber, contrasting brilliantly with the cream of the walls. A small porch spread before the door, and Rose hesitated before stepping onto it, suddenly nervous and feeling like she should not be here. This house was so different from the one she had grown up in; although a nice home, it was small and comfortable, always having just enough room for everyone. Rose’s flat, on the other hand, was like a box in comparison. She thought she understood part of the reason Scorpius had never left home, and why Hugo liked to hang out here all the time. There was such an old-world atmosphere to the place and Rose found she liked it.

The door was flung open almost instantly at her knock and Rose found herself looking down at a rather immaculately dressed house-elf.

“Hello,” she said kindly. “I’m Rose.”

“Mister Malfoy expected you earlier,” the creature squeaked. “You took your time in coming.”

“I was simply admiring the gardens,” Rose said, rather startled at being scolded by a house-elf. She had never met one before, but had assumed they were, well, nice.

“Master says-”

“Well, if it isn’t the paparazzi.” Appearing from nowhere, Scorpius leant casually against the doorway and winked at her; Rose rolled her eyes. His hair was longer than the last time she had seen him and he was dressed in what looked like jeans and a simple black t-shirt.

“I didn’t know you had a house-elf,” she said, eyebrows raised. It was supposed to be illegal to keep elves these days. Scorpius smiled, seeming to know what she was thinking.

“Before you get all righteous on me, Clara is a free elf who wants to be here, isn’t that right, Clara?” he said, addressing the elf, who was standing at his feet like some sort of loyal hound. She nodded, fixing Rose with an unnerving stare.

“Clara is very happy to serve the Malfoy’s,” she stated firmly. “Come on now. Master is waiting.”

“I think we should let Rose put her things away first,” Scorpius said, and, with another of those infuriating winks, “I’ll show her to her room.”

Clara simply muttered something about master not being pleased and toddled away, saying it was time for master’s tea. Before Rose could say or do anything, Scorpius had reached out and taken her trunk, smiling briefly before turning and walking away down the hall, the trunk floating after him.

“Come on, then. I’ll give you a tour later, after the interview.”

Rose sighed and followed him across a white marbled floor that clicked under her feet, up a grand, sweeping staircase, two flights up, and left into long and wide hallway, with sumptuous carpet that made her want to take her shoes off and run her toes over it. The walls of this hall were deep green, creating an air of darkness and gloom. Portraits hung on the walls; their occupants watched her critically but said nothing.

Scorpius opened a door tucked away at the end of the hall, pushing it wide so Rose could peer inside. “This is your room,” he stated, flicking his wand. The trunk floated in and the curtains sprang wide at the same time, letting light flood in. Rose could not help but smile; it was beautiful. There was a large and comfortable looking bed to one side, a writing desk of dark mahogany and a cream coloured lounge chair. A vase of roses sat diligently on a side table; their scent permeated the air. A closed door on the other side of the room to the bed indicated the bathroom, which Rose assumed would be as elegant as the room.

“Does it meet your approval?” Scorpius asked, eyebrows raised.

“It’ll do,” Rose shrugged, not wanting him to know just how pleased she was by the room, by the house and the garden, by this whole other aspect to his life that she hadn’t really considered before. Scorpius left her alone, saying he’d send Clara up in ten minutes. Rose told him not to bother.

“I can find my own way downstairs, thanks.”

“Fine. Dad’s study is to the right of the entrance hall, down another hall. Make sure you knock first.”

“Wait,” Rose said, “aren’t you going to be there?” The idea of being alone with Draco Malfoy made her nervous again.

“Nope.”

Rose sighed. “Okay, what about your mother?”

“Didn’t anyone tell you? Mother has gone away, until this “whole ridiculous mess”, as she calls it, is finished,” Scorpius answered with a grin. Rose reached for a pen and paper.

“So she doesn’t approve?”

“You’re not quoting me on that,” Scorpius said quickly, looking nervous. “I mean, you should ask father what she thinks.”

Rose put the pen away; as annoying as he was, she wanted him on side. It would make her job a lot easier if the man of the hour was not vexed at her. “You can send Clara up; I don’t mind. But when can I interview you?”

He grinned again. “Eager.”

Rose scowled. “To do my job, yes, and I’m eager for this bloody competition to be over so I can go home.”

“You really need to get a sense of humour,” he sighed, before turning his back and walking away. Rose watched him go, forcing herself to take deep, calming breaths. She did not want to interview Draco Malfoy with her temper so close to the surface. She felt the beginning of a headache and closed the door, dumping her carry bag and letting herself fall face-first on the big bed. It was as soft as it appeared, threatening to swallow her and for a moment, Rose was tempted to let it.

She summoned her carry bag and retrieved her note pad and pen, quickly swapping it for a quill and parchment. When she had gone to see her mother in her office the day before, she had asked how long the articles had to be.

Her mother had furrowed her brow, and turned around in her chair to consider the wall behind her. Tacked there was a page-by-page layout of the paper, showing just how much space there was on each page. Hermione generally stuck to a standard format that followed not only what news was important enough for the first two pages, but how long each article had to be. “I’m thinking of putting these articles on page three, so I would need at least two hundred words, give or take.”

“Two hundred words a day?” Rose had asked wearily. “What if I don’t have two hundred words a day. I’m sure this whole event will be dead boring.”

“Find them,” Hermione had replied, turning back around to fix her daughter with a critical eye. “You are perfectly capable of this assignment, Rose. Don’t let your…animosity for Scorpius Malfoy interfere with your work. Watch everything, talk to the family, talk to the contestants, talk to Scorpius-”

“Must I?”

“Oh Rose, it won’t be so bad.” Hermione had softened at the last moment, which Rose had appreciated then and still appreciated, even as she was lying encased in the softest doona she had ever encountered. Her trunk was where Scorpius had so kindly left it – in the middle of the room, waiting to trip her over. That trunk had sat packed and ready for a week, renting the space by the front door of her flat, a constant reminder of what she was about to undertake. Roxanne, almost beside herself with excitement, had stumbled over it just last night, blustering through the door with her eyes glowing. Her cousin had gushed so much it had made Rose feel like she needed a shower. She did not want to know how good a kisser Scorpius was. What surprised her was that her cousin’s excitement seemed genuine – as far as she knew, Roxanne wasn’t interested any more. Perhaps the lure of a thousand galleons was even too much for her usually level-headed cousin to ignore.

Rose had not had the opportunity to speak with Lucy. That particular cousin was ignoring all forms of communication, and she had not spoken one word to Hugo since her birthday.

Sighing, Rose hauled herself upright, found some cleaner, more appropriately professional, clothing, and sat back and waited for Clara. The little elf came up soon enough, knocking loudly on the door and asking (demanding!) miss to follow her downstairs to see her master.

“Master indeed,” Rose muttered, following at a distance behind the elf. Clara led her back down the hall, the flights of stairs, and back across the marbled floor of the entrance hall. From there, they turned right, following a magnificent length of plush cream carpet down another, smaller hall, before Clara paused at a set of double-doors. The handles were large and foreboding, almost gothic-style, and Rose did not want to touch them. All the furniture she had seen so far was gilded and ornate, obviously expensive. It was another reminder to Rose just how different this world was; she could almost, at a distant stretch, see the temptation in becoming a part of that world.

Draco Malfoy was standing behind his desk, facing the floor-to-ceiling window. The drapes were open; sunlight streamed in, casting shadows and illuminating what dust was present. The walls of the study were lined one side with books, the other, with locked cabinets. Parchment was piled elbow deep on the desk; Rose realised she didn’t actually know what Draco Malfoy did for a living.

Nervously, she cleared her throat, and he turned to look at her. Her first thought was, this is what Scorpius will look like when he is older. Like his son, Draco was tall and very blonde, although his hair was thinner, his forehead higher and more lined. He had a tense look about him, an aura of anxiousness, which made Rose chew her lip. He gestured a chair, and slowly, she sat.

Neither of them spoke for a long moment, until he smiled and sat back.

“You’re very unlike your mother.”

“I am?” Rose asked curiously; everybody always said they were so similar.

He chuckled. “Yes. She would have started talking the moment she stepped through the door, and would still be talking.”

Rose tried not to laugh; as insulting as it was, she found the description aptly fitting. She cleared her throat again. “Thank you for letting me stay for the duration of the competition.” He waved her thanks away so she continued. “Do you mind if I ask you some questions?”

“That is why you are here, isn’t it? Or have you changed your mind and wish to compete?” Draco Malfoy asked smoothly; Rose blushed, cursing her fair skin when he smiled slightly. “What would you like to know?”

Half an hour later, Rose had two sheets of parchment scribbled on, a headache, and a hungry wish to go home. The reasons for staging this competition were, according to Draco Malfoy, because he was sick of his son sleeping around and wasting all his (Draco’s) hard earned money. Also, he was sick of lay-about’s (Rose knew he meant Hugo) sponging off his hospitality and that if Scorpius finally settled down with the ‘right girl’ (he gave no indication what that actually meant and no amount of prodding had helped him elaborate) then perhaps his son would begin to grow up and take responsibility for himself as an adult.

Rose sighed. She could hardly quote him on any of that. As much as she agreed with him about Scorpius, it would not make good reading to have the father bad-mouthing the son in the very first article.

Dinner was a long and drawn out affair. Rose did not eat much, not having the stomach for a three course meal, although she tried everything and picked at her plate. It was nowhere near as good as her grandmother’s cooking, but she smiled and said it was fantastic. Between the main course and the dessert, the questions began about her personal life.

“I doubt that your parents, Rose, would have to resort to such measures to entice you to settle down with a respectable man,” Draco said, leaning across his empty plate to scoop up his wine glass.

“Umm, no, I don’t think so,” Rose answered softly.

“What is it like working for your mother? When I went to see her, she was all fire and business, which I respect. I never thought she’d end up running a business, but then again, she was always determined,” Draco commented.

“I bet you get heaps of perks,” Scorpius put in. Clara bustled around between them, collecting plates and clearly ignoring Rose when she smiled and said thanks.

“Actually, no,” Rose told Scorpius in a firm voice. “I am an employee like anyone else. I have to do my job, as much as I may hate it at times,” she added, unable to keep the venom out of her voice; she noticed Draco raise his eyebrows thoughtfully.

Scorpius shrugged. “Still, must come with some benefits. After dinner, you can interview me.”

“And if I don’t want to?” Rose ground out. She hated the way he sat there and clearly judged her; his eyes moved over her face and hair, which she had worked extra hard to control today, being unfortunately blessed with her mother’s hair. She had her father’s colour, which she actually liked, unlike Lucy, who moaned constantly about being unable to go anywhere and not be recognised as a Weasley.

“I’m sure Rose is tired,” Draco said.

“But the girls will be arriving tomorrow. We won’t have any time then,” Scorpius whined. Rose sighed, saying she’d interview him after dinner and then get started on her article; Draco offered the use of one of their owls, noticing Rose had not brought her own. She did not bother to tell him that tucked in the bottom of her trunk was a laptop (and a spare battery or two) and she would simply be emailing the articles to Hermione.

“Great. By the pool. I hope you brought your bathers.” Scorpius grinned that grin again and Rose wanted to punch him.

“Actually, no, I must have forgotten them,” Rose lied. She had indeed packed them, hoping for the chance to swim in this pool Hugo waxed lyrical about so readily. She was not, however, going to be modelling any form of skimpy clothing for Scorpius Malfoy. Rose finished her dessert, swallowed her wine and begrudgingly followed the bane of her present existence through the house and out to the pool.



Chapter title from the song, Send in the Clowns, credited to Stephen Sondheim.


Chapter 3: Another Girl's Paradise
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Chapter 3
Another Girl’s Paradise


They began arriving at ten. From her second storey window, Rose watched them march like a conquering army down the drive. There were twenty of them, the poor desperate wretches; they walked with their heads held high, in their best clothes, hair immaculate and Rose knew instantly, with that strange sense of intuition that comes from being a woman that this particular show was not for Scorpius – it was for the other competitors. It meant, back off. I’m here to win it and you will not get a look in.

It made her laugh, to see them swanning about on the wide expanse of white gravel before the house. She could hear them talking, exclaiming over the loveliness of the garden and the grandness of the Manor. She scanned the crowd, searching for her cousins, but could only see one with hair the colour of hers. She recognised a few of the girls, but most were strangers.

Rose moved away from the window, letting the curtain fall, and checked her reflection. She didn’t look as fine as any of those creatures outside, but then, she was not on show. Still, she touched a hand to her head to smooth away any loose strands, re-touched her lip gloss and made sure there were no creases in her shorts. She collected her notepad and pen, her camera, and took a deep breath, before flinging open the door and heading downstairs. She may as well go and immerse herself in the atmosphere.

She hoped that the contestants would be more forthcoming, and more eloquent, than Scorpius had been. Rose had sat for three long and frustrating hours with him after dinner last night. He had floated around the pool, splashed water at her and urged her to get in. He had not answered one question with anything worth printing and he seemed to be going out of his way to goad her. It had worked, she was ashamed to admit. The night ended with Rose dumping his dry clothes and towel in the pool and storming inside. She had run into Draco Malfoy in the hall, who took one look at her thunderous face and smiled almost knowingly.

At least, Rose had thought as she descended the grand staircase, he knew his son was an idiot.

According to Scorpius, this competition would lead him to the love of his life. Rose had rolled her eyes, saying she didn’t think that anyone worth anything would search for love in this way. That had caused Scorpius to scowl at her, but she couldn’t bring herself to tell him she meant the contestants, not him. The whole ordeal was not his doing, she knew that and she felt the tiniest bit sorry for him, but if he’d only grow up and start acting like an adult his father wouldn’t see the need to create meaningless competitions and throw away a thousand galleons. Rose had said that to Scorpius; he’d simply laughed, splashed her and swam away.

Scorpius and his father were standing in the entrance hall. The front door was still closed. From the other side of the door came a series of shouts and impatient noises.

“Are you building up suspense?” Rose asked quietly.

“What are you talking about?” Scorpius muttered. He was pale and looked like he wanted to be sick. Rose snickered, hiding her amusement behind her hand.

“I think you should let them in before one of them decides you’re worth cursing instead of kissing,” she quipped, earning a smirk from Draco and a scowl from Scorpius. For a long moment, no one moved, and Rose sighed. “Look, is there a back door or something? I want to go out there, see what’s happening.”

Draco called Clara, who came and lead Rose away. She could hear the Malfoy men arguing softly as she went. Clara was muttering again.

“Silly, silly idea. This is not the way to do things. Master Scorpius is a nice boy, a decent boy. Master Draco is wrong to do this.”

“Clara,” Rose asked gently; the elf turned and glanced at her indifferently. “You like Scorpius, don’t you?”

“Oh yes,” she replied, giving Rose the briefest of smiles. “He is very kind to Clara; Master is kind too, but the young master...it is cruel of Mistress to go away and leave him like this, in the middle of this...”

“Zoo?” Rose supplied. The little elf grunted but said nothing; Rose surmised she did not know what a zoo was. Clara led her through the kitchen to a door tucked away at the side of the house. It was once for the servants, Clara said, a long time ago. The door opened up to a small courtyard, filled with fragrant flowers and herbs. The ground was paved with large cobblestones and Rose stepped outside, enjoying the kiss of the sun.

“This is very pretty,” she said amicably to the elf, who was watching her with what Rose thought was suspicion.

“It is Clara’s favourite place,” she answered eventually, in a soft, small voice. “I like to come here and sit. Master gives me time to myself. Once, it was not always so. Once, elves had to work and work and work with no time.”

“It must be nice, to be here,” Rose said gently. “I like time to myself, too.”

Clara said nothing; just nodded and went back inside, shutting the door firmly behind her. Rose sighed, pulled her notepad and pen from her pocket and snuck around through the garden to the front of the Manor.

The contestants were all cluttered around together, their trunks floating behind them, like strange pets. The atmosphere was electric and she felt a tug of sympathy for Scorpius – if given the chance, this lot would eat him alive. It was easy to imagine it, to see the beautiful faces turn nasty, the fingernails turn into claws.

Rose knew the contestants all had to apply for the competition. She knew, from Scorpius, that he and his father had then chosen the most eligible, narrowing down the list of almost one hundred (Rose had been quietly stunned at hearing that particular piece of information – she didn’t realise there were so many desperate and dateless young women around) to a final twenty girls. She had initially been told it would be twelve, and no one had filled her in on the reason why the number was increased; perhaps Scorpius had been unable to make up his mind. The girls would have to compete in tasks from deportment (as a lady of Malfoy Manor they needed to be skilled in conversation, fine dining and how to walk right!), knowledge and academics, to their magical abilities. There was also their physical appearance; that was the part that made Rose mad. Wasn’t it about what a person was like on the inside?

Rose approached the nearest girl, who studied her from head to toe, decided she was not a threat, and then smiled when Rose said she was from the newspaper. The girl, Melody, was “so excited to be here! The Manor is just amazing! Scorpius is such a hottie, don’t you think?”

Rose did not think but she did not say so, moving away to interview another girl. She could see a familiar head of strawberry blonde hair across the crowd and pushed her way through the giggling melee, camera clutched to her chest lest it be ripped from her body by some Scorpius-loving freak.

“Oh Dominique,” Rose sighed. Her cousin spun around, blushed beet-red, and then sighed.

“A thousand galleons is a thousand galleons. Plus,” she continued before Rose could open her mouth, “I’ve decided I want to be an actress.”

“An actress?”

“Yes, or something just as glamorous. I’m practicing here, see? Trying it all out on Scorpius,” Dominique said off-handedly.

“Right. And Lucy?”

“Not here. I’m not sure why – I think perhaps Roxanne warned her off. Jealously is a horrible thing, don’t you think? Personally, I don’t care about winning, or Scorpius. I just want to be famous. Do you think you could write an expose on me or something? I photograph best from the left, by the way.” Dominique winked and marched away, going to join the other girls, who were now screaming Scorpius’ name. Rose could only stand and stare, until someone bumped into her, knocking her out of her trance.

The front door was suddenly flung wide; the screams intensified and then died down, when the girls realised they were looking at the father, not the son.

“Thank you all for coming. In a moment, you will be shown to your rooms by our Head house elf, Clara. Anything you need, just ask her and you shall have it. The official part of the competition will begin tonight, at six.”

“Where is Scorpius?” one girl asked rather longingly; Rose rolled her eyes, busy scribbling in her note pad.

Draco hesitated briefly, before smiling. “You will see Scorpius tonight. Dinner is a formal affair,” he added, and all around her, Rose heard girls begin whispering what they would wear, and she realised with a jolt she had not brought any formal clothing. Oh well, she decided quickly, she was here to work, not socialise.

Clara appeared and gestured for the girls to follow her; there was much pushing to be the first one to step over the Manor’s threshold. Rose lingered on the gravel, watching them file inside in quite amazement. She had to admit, she admired their courage; she doubted she’d be able to put herself on the line like they had chosen to do. She knew that one girl would be sent home tomorrow, if they failed to please at dinner tonight. Draco had had a copy of the rules of the competition sent to her room last night, which Rose had read before bed.

Perhaps many were here with the same aims as Dominique – fame. They were sure to get that, regardless of what Rose wrote in her articles. She had planned on remaining distant, professional, not wanting her work to look like a gossip column. There would be no mention of hair and who was wearing what – she didn’t consider it important. She didn’t consider anything about the competition important but she was determined to do her job right.

Rose followed the last girl, a tall, statuesque brunette, inside. Draco Malfoy was standing in the hall, not far from his study door. He caught her eye and gave her a brief nod, before turning and disappearing inside his study, the heavy wooden doors closing with finality. Rose wondered where Scorpius was, and wondered quickly if he’d had a change of heart. She had expected him to fling open the doors, smiling and perfectly playing the role he’d been assigned. His absence made her curious and she decided to ask Clara where he might be.

Rose did not go upstairs. She wanted to give the girls’ time to settle in; she would talk to them all in more detail at lunch. She had noticed Clara lead them in the opposite direction to her room; what she assumed was the guest wing. It vexed her for a moment to realise she’d been purposefully set apart from the others, before she relaxed, deciding it was probably better for her sanity.

She went through the house, outside to the pool area. She’d not taken the time to really notice it last night, being too frustrated with a floating Scorpius. Now, Rose paused, her eyes slowly soaking up the greenery that tumbled from pots and trailed their long arms in the water; the ornate stone fountain at one end, spewing water gently from its lips; the natural stone of the base and sides of the pool; the clear, crisp appearance of the water and the flowers that dripped from everywhere. The pool area was covered with a roof of glass – sunlight danced down towards the water, before hitting the surface and pirouetting away into nothing. She crept to the water’s edge and slipped her shoes off, dipping her toe in. The water was cool and smooth and she desperately wanted to go for a swim.

There was a large tree in one corner of the room, a willow that spread its branches protectively over a bench seat and part of the water. The glass of the roof stopped here, letting the tree push through to the open air. It was here that Rose moved, to sit on the seat and enjoy the silence.

“I told you the water was nice.”

Rose spun around, finding no one there. The hair on the back of her neck stood up and she knew he was watching her. She sighed. “Why aren’t you with your fan club?”

His voice came from above her. “They freak me out. One girl I can handle, maybe even two, but not twenty of them.”

Rose glanced up as a pile of leaves descended on her shoulder. A twig fell into her hair and she brushed it out. Scorpius was sitting in the willow; the slender branches were straining under his weight and she snickered. “Of all the places to hide...”

“I like it here,” he declared. “The pool area was mother’s design; she loves flowers.”

Rose watched as he swung himself out of the tree, sliding down the trunk before sneaking onto the seat beside her. He looked scared, and ill. His skin was pale and there was sweat on his forehead. His eyes swung around, scanning the area before he visibly relaxed. Rose said nothing, although she itched to grill him, to reach for her notepad and pen, or to snap a shot of his frightened face, but something stopped her.

“Don’t worry,” she told him, “You can get rid of one tonight, and that will only be nineteen to go.”

He groaned and put his head in his hands. “Are you coming to dinner?” he asked, his voice muffled.

“I wouldn’t miss it,” Rose grinned, and he scowled at her. They sat awhile in silence, looking out at the water, before Rose sighed. “Look, I can call Hugo.”

“Why?”

“Because you look like you need a friend right now, that’s all.”

Scorpius considered this, his lip pulled between his teeth. “Yeah, might be good. You never know, he might find the love of his life while he’s here.”

“Just what we all need,” she sighed, making his lips twitch at the corners. Rose went inside and up to her room, drawing out her laptop and sending her mother an email. Yes, everything was fine, the Malfoy’s had been perfectly pleasant, the contestants had all arrived, Lucy was not here, Dominique was and she hadn’t had a chance to speak with Roxanne. Rose added that her first article was coming along (it really wasn’t) and that she’d email it through tomorrow morning, with news of who had been eliminated first.

Next, she sent Hugo a text. As he usually ignored all forms of communication (especially from his sister), the invitation to come to the Manor was too tempting and his reply was swift and contained only two words: hell yes!

Rose was vaguely surprised to find her muggle technology worked in Malfoy Manor, but then again, she guessed it had never crossed Draco’s mind to block their use. She decided she may as well start working on her article, but did not wish to stay cooped up inside. There was an hour until lunch and the sun was shining brightly outside, so Rose padded downstairs and slipped out through the kitchen, into the small garden Clara was so fond of. Here, she found a quiet spot and sat down, opening her laptop and spreading her notepad, the rules for the competition and the parchment from her interview with Draco on the ground beside it. Chewing her lip, she began sifting through her notes, her fingers tapping away quickly on the keypad.

Malfoy Manor has been besieged. Twenty of the wizarding world’s most eligible young women have arrived to try their luck and their charms on Scorpius Malfoy, the bachelor son of Draco and Astoria. The Manor has put on its finest face for the occasion. The grounds are immaculate, with all manner of trees and flowers, and the...

Here, Rose paused. Someone was watching her again; her muscles tensed, her ears strained and she held perfectly still. When nobody announced themselves, she shrugged, thinking it was probably just a bird, perhaps a peacock, but she could see nothing. Turning back to her laptop, Rose nearly jumped out of her skin when a hand shot out of the bushes behind her and touched the keypad.

“What is this thing?”

“Scorpius! You scared me half to death!”

An arm, then body, followed the hand and he appeared looking mildly guilty. His eyes were still apprehensive and he was looking at her laptop warily. Rose sighed.

“It’s called a laptop; it’s a portable computer.” His expression was still blank. “I don’t have time to explain it properly. I’m using it to write my articles for the paper, and I can send emails to my mother on it.” Hermione had correctly guessed that there would be no wireless connection within miles, so she had charmed the laptop into providing its own, no matter where Rose was.

“Eeee mail?”

“Electronic mail,” she explained. “Get Hugo to tell you all about it.”

Scorpius sat back, still looking at the laptop. “He took me to a movie, once. In London. It was amazing.”

Rose stared, quietly stunned. He sounded genuinely impressed and she wondered what other muggle technology Hugo had exposed him too. “Hugo is coming; I don’t know when but he is coming.”

“Good.”

Rose continued to work on her article, ignoring Scorpius, grateful when he said nothing and left her alone. They sat in companionable silence until Clara opened the secret little door, looking cross. She was wearing an apron and Rose was astonished to notice a string of pearls around her neck.

“There you are, Miss. Master Malfoy needs you in his study. It is almost lunch. Master Scorpius, I will have a plate sent to you...”

“In my room, thanks,” Scorpius said, standing up. “Can you get Heathrow to send it? I feel like seeing him today.”

“Who’s Heathrow?” Rose asked when Clara had gone, reminding her once again that ‘Master Malfoy does not to be kept waiting.’

“Another elf; you didn’t think Clara did everything by herself? And before you ask, he is also a free elf who wants to be here,” Scorpius answered lightly. “You’d better go see father.” With that, he was gone, vanished back into the bushes. Rose heard his footfall as he moved away. She collected her things and soon found herself standing in Draco’s study. He had not opened the drapes and the room was dark and slightly stuffy. He was sitting with his head in his hands but when she came in, he quickly composed himself.

“Lunch will be a good time to interview the contestants,” he said.

“Yes, I know,” Rose replied.

He didn’t say anything else and she shifted her weight from one foot to the other, turning to go when he spoke, sounding tired.

“Does Scorpius seem...alright to you?”

“Me?”

“Is there anyone else here?”

Rose ignored his tone and considered her answer. “He’s scared, I think. Those girls are rather terrifying.”

“Your cousins included?” Draco asked with a raised eyebrow. Rose laughed.

“My cousins in particular,” she said with a grin. “I asked Hugo to come.”

Draco frowned and Rose wondered whether she’d made a mistake, but then he sighed. “Maybe Scorpius will be more himself with your brother here.”

Rose did not bother changing her clothes for lunch. She tidied her hair and cleaned her face, and as soon as she had set foot in the dining room, wished she had gone to a little more effort. All the contestants were so glamorous they sparkled. Dominique was sitting across the table from Roxanne, looking ridiculously radiant, and Roxanne was glaring, her temper ruining her otherwise elegant appearance. Looking around the table, she saw Isobelle Thomas, Melanie Finnigan and Heidi Krum. They were all children of her parent’s friends and therefore sort-of friends of Rose’s. She had believed they all had more sense.

After lunch, the girls retired to the sitting room, where Rose found out all their names. At first, she could get no one to listen to her, until Dominique had stood, yelled at them all to shut up, and if they wanted their names and faces in the paper they had to talk to Rose. She took their names: Melody Baddock, a pretty blonde; Nicole MacMillan, a small, brunette with nervous eyes; Elspeth Avery, tall and willowy, with striking black hair that tumbled down her back and eyes that smouldered; Aurora Abercrombie, a rather plain looking girl who Rose immediately felt sorry for and wondered why she was there; Raven Lestrange, slim, with hair the colour of chocolate and a warm smile; Janis Belby, another blonde with not much sense; Selina Goyle, “close friend of Scorpius’ – our father’s are great friends,”; Elinor Montague, a brunette who also claimed close acquaintance with the Malfoy family; twins Portia and Penelope Nott, both mousey brown with rather large noses; Nia Goldstein and Amila Davies, both also blonde. The only girl not accounted for was very pretty, with large blue eyes and a shock of dark hair that fell over her shoulders like velvet. Her name, she told Rose solemnly, was Lucinda Parker.

All of the surnames, except for Parker, were familiar to Rose but she didn’t have time to ponder it. After the introductions, and after Rose made it plainly clear she was not competing, she took several group photographs, inside the sitting room, out by the pool and out in the garden beneath the trees. She collected quotes from each and every girl, finding out why they were there, what they hoped to achieve (which, as Elspeth Avery so bluntly told her was obvious) and how they would feel if they were the one to be sent home tonight (devastated!). She then decided to take portrait shots of each girl, to be published as they were eliminated. She had to ask them to look sad, choosing to remind them of how they would feel if Scorpius did not pick them.

It was draining. The interviews took over an hour; by the time Rose was finished, she was ready to quit this whole job. Hugo arrived as the last girl went inside to get ready for dinner (it was only two o’clock!) and moaned that he’d missed them.

“They’re not here for you,” Rose unnecessarily reminded her brother, who simply shrugged and went searching for Scorpius. She sighed, rubbing at her temples, hoping to dispel the headache that was beginning to rest there.



Chapter title from the song Another Girl’s Paradise, by Tori Amos.

Edited 18.10 with new chapter image


Chapter 4: The ice is thin, come on dive in
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Chapter 4
The ice is thin, come on dive in



Draco was, unfortunately, correct: with his wing-man once again firmly in place, Scorpius was back to his usual arrogant, egotistical, irritable, selfish, cocksure best. He preened like a prized parrot, with his chest puffed out, and feathers gleaming. He strutted, batted his eye lashes and flexed. Hugo the lap-dog was at his side, hoping to scrape up any left-over’s. The whole thing was sickening. Rose almost felt embarrassed for her brother. Almost.

That night, the contestants glided down the grand staircase at exactly six, ready to meet the man they intended to marry. Scorpius stood with Draco at the bottom of the white carpeted stairs, smiling his best smile. He actually looked respectable, in his dress robes, Rose thought from where she and Hugo, who was bouncing around like a dog in heat, were standing. Rose’s camera clicked and whirred, her brother drooled and Scorpius ruined it all when, as the last girl filed into the dining room, he turned and winked at her. Rose almost dropped her camera. Scorpius waved and Hugo bounded after him, all legs and ginger hair. That was the one consolation Rose had in life – that her brother’s hair was redder than hers and his face was smothered with more freckles.

“You coming, Rose? I’ll save you a seat, next to me. You can help Hugo protect me. I can’t predict what they’ll do to me; I think they’re all in love with me already.”

Scorpius. The smug prat! Rose grit her teeth, snapped the lens cap on and marched stiffly into the dining room, certain her ears were blowing steam. She had a quick moment of regret – without Hugo around, Scorpius had seemed almost human.

Dinner was horrendous. Rose wondered if any of the girls could actually hear correctly, or see. If she caught Scorpius looking at any more well-displayed cleavage she would slap him. She sat on Scorpius’ left side, her brother, the right, at one end of the great mahogany table. Draco Malfoy sat at the other end; Rose had the strong sense that he wanted to throttle his son.

“Anyone would think you were an uneducated tramp,” she hissed at him between courses, after sneaking another look at Draco’s strained face. “You’re being disgusting!”

“I am?”

“Stop staring at their...breasts and ask something intelligent. I do not want to know what their bra sizes are!” Rose picked up her fork, stabbed something on her plate and shovelled it into her mouth simply so she was forced to shut up. There were so many things she wanted to say to him but none were appropriate for a formal dinner.

It was easy to pick who Scorpius was going to send home; poor Aurora Abercrombie. Rose felt sorry for her – she seemed like a nice girl, and Rose knew ‘nice’ was not enough for this particular contest. It didn’t matter that Aurora was a skilled conversationalist, with more wit than the majority of the others put together, or that she came with a small fortune of her own, something that was sure to please Draco. It also did not matter that she was highly educated, and in training to be a Professor of Charms at Hogwarts. In the hour that followed dinner, Aurora impressed Rose with her magical ability, her knowledge of the muggle world and her sweet, shy manner.

Rose felt only anger for Scorpius when the idiotic man wouldn’t even speak to Aurora, choosing instead to let Melody sit in his lap. Rose went to sit by Aurora as the others were all clustering around Scorpius, vying to impress with the art of conversation. Rose watched as Dominique, in a particularly low-cut gown that would have her father’s hair standing on end, flipped her hair over her shoulder, leaned in close to Scorpius and whispered in his ear; Scorpius stroked her arm almost absent-mindedly, completely entranced, while Melody pouted and tried to catch his attention.

“I could never do that,” Aurora said softly, watching the performance also. Rose sighed.

“Most people could never do that,” she answered.

Scopius was now laughing at whatever Dominique had said; Rose noted that Roxanne was not the only one to be snarling like an angry cat and she wondered briefly how long the rule suspending all magic against the other competitors would hold. She experienced a quick daydream, where Roxanne, sharing the famous temper Aunt Ginny possessed, hexed the lot of them into oblivion, Scorpius included.

“Why are you here?” Rose asked Aurora gently, not wanting to offend. “You’re a smart woman.”

Aurora smiled sadly. “Smart does not get you a husband, Rose. Good luck with your articles.” She stood up and walked over to the rest, continuing to play her part, even though she knew, as did everyone else present, that she would be the first one to leave. Rose hated the idea of writing her article, and of putting that poor girl’s face in the paper.

Draco made the announcement, after a short reprieve, nothing more than a quick word in his son’s ear, and Rose watched sadly as Aurora, trunk already packed and floating along behind her, walked through the main doors of the Manor and out into the night. The unfortunate girl had not gone two steps when Roxanne whispered in Rose’s ear.

“One down, seventeen to go.”

“Your sympathy astounds me,” Rose hissed back with more anger than she knew was necessary. It wasn’t Roxanne’s fault; she looked across the hall at Scorpius, despising him for making a fool out of a girl he never had any intention of choosing.

“What’s with you?” Roxanne huffed.

Rose did not bother to explain; she’d apologise later. “Look out; you’ll miss your chance to kiss his feet before bed.” She did not wait for a reply, choosing instead to slip out the back to sit by the pool. It took her a moment to realise she was not alone. Lucinda Parker was sitting on the little bench beneath the willow, looking out over the water. Rose chewed her lip, studying the other woman. No one knew anything about her; she was aloof, haunting and there was an air about her that made Rose uncomfortably curious.

She cleared her throat. “Are you enjoying the competition so far?”

Lucinda smiled; up close, Rose could see that one of her eyes was slightly larger than the other, and that her nose turned up at the end. Rose was mortified to realise she’d even noticed the tiny flaws in the otherwise stunning face, and even more mortified to realise she was pleased about it. She knew she was not unattractive, but Rose was not considered beautiful either. Although she liked her face, liked the long lashes and the splattering of freckles across her nose, she knew there were lines on her forehead (from frowning all the time, according to Hugo, who never failed to point out his sister’s imperfections). Rose knew she should not let Hugo bother her – as her brother, it was part of his job description to drive her mad, but being here, with all the glamour and glitz, made her feel plainer than poor Aurora.

“I love the colour of your hair,” Lucinda was saying. “Is it natural?”

Rose blinked, caught off guard. “Yes; most of my family are redheads, in some form or another.”

“Ahh, yes,” the other woman said, but without the hint of mockery Rose was used to. “Your brother is...interesting.”

“My brother is a prat,” Rose replied.

“I don’t have any brothers, or sisters,” Lucinda went on, ignoring Rose’s angry tone. “It must be nice, to have family.”

Rose’s journalistic senses sprang into life, and she cursed under her breath when she realised she’d left her notepad and pen in the dining room. “Why are you here? You seem different than the rest,” she asked Lucinda quietly. The brunette shrugged.

“My mother’s idea. Scorpius is nice enough, in his way, but...”

“But?” Rose pressed. Lucinda did not reply; she turned her face away and concentrated on stretching out her long leg so she could dip her toe in the water. Rose watched her, curiosity warring with not wanting to be rude, and slowly stood up, saying a quiet goodnight.

“Did you bring your bathers?” Lucinda asked, much the same as Scorpius had the other night at dinner. “We should sneak down and swim later, when the rest are asleep.”

Rose smiled, thoroughly liking the idea. Drowning herself seemed a good way out of this assignment. “Okay.” They arranged a time to meet, and Rose slipped back inside.

Roxanne was waiting outside Rose’s door, still in her expensive cream gown, looking cross, and Rose sighed. “Not now,” she said, pushing the door open. Roxanne followed her in, stamping her pointy shoes on the soft carpet, leaving indents in her anger. Rose slipped her sandals off, shed her shirt and lay back on the bed in her pants and singlet. Black pants and a smart blouse were as dressed up as she was prepared to go for this competition. Her cousin paced the room, muttering, and Rose waited, knowing it was Roxanne’s way to rehearse before berating someone.

“That was unfair,” she said at last, in a quieter voice than Rose was expecting. Usually, Roxanne ranted and raved and everyone sat back and waited for the storm to be over so they could begin collecting the pieces and reassemble some sanity.

“I know.” Rose did not lift her head, or move her arms away from her face. She was being swallowed by the doona again and she liked it.

“If you should be cross at anyone, it should be Dominique,” Roxanne growled.

“Why?”

“She shouldn’t be here; she doesn’t even like Scorpius, let alone want to...”

Rose sat up. “Marry him? I didn’t think you liked him anymore either, Roxie. What’s going on?”

“Nothing; I made a mistake.” There was pain in her cousin’s voice and Rose’s sympathy was stirred. Scorpius may be a prat, but she could tell Roxanne was being serious.

“Why don’t you just tell him you like him still?” she suggested, to be met with Roxanne’s horrified expression. Apparently, that was something you didn’t do; Rose wondered why she didn’t know what. “Look, all you can do is be yourself. If he picks someone else, then he’s obviously not worth it, is he?”

Roxanne sighed, reaching up to tug on a lock of her hair. “You’re right, I suppose, but gosh, Rose, this place! It’s amazing! I don’t ever want to go home!”

Rose pulled a pillow over her head and settled back, only half-listening as Roxanne gushed about both Scorpius, and Malfoy Manor. At least, Rose thought absently as her cousin came up for air, if Roxanne married Scorpius, Rose could come and swim in the pool.

After Roxanne had gone, smiling and no longer cross, and after Rose had spent fifteen minutes reminding her cousin of her virtues, she dug into the bottom of her trunk and found her bathers. Rose held them up, examining them in the light, checking for tears or faded patches. She didn’t get the chance to swim as often as she would like, and her bathers were years old. Inspection complete, Rose swapped her clothes, threw a towel around her shoulders and slipped out her door.

The Manor was silent; Rose felt the skin on the back of her neck pucker as she walked quickly through the long, darkened halls. As beautiful as the place was, there was something eerie about it; so much had happened here. Rose knew her history, knew her parents history and had to wonder why her mother was comfortable sending her here in the first place. Rose knew, that if their roles were reversed, and she was the mother, she would not want her daughter spending time in a place where she had suffered.

Rose sighed lightly; that was the difference between her mother and herself. Hermione left the past where it belonged, but for Rose, that was harder. She could still remember every negative thing anyone ever said to her, every backwards glance, every boy she had had a crush on who had broken her heart by choosing a girl more attractive, more willing to laugh at everything he said and more able to keep her mouth shut. Rose was aware of her own faults – she was blunt, and not comfortable with telling anybody what they wanted to hear.

The pool area was lit by small lights set back in the stone walls. There were lights under the water too, creating a strange glow. There was no sign of Lucinda at first, before Rose noticed her sitting where she had been earlier. Light caught gently on her skin, painting her golden and Rose watched as those long legs unfurled and Lucinda stood up, as graceful as a cat. Feeling shy wearing next to nothing in front of someone so sinuously beautiful, Rose dropped her towel and ducked quickly into the pool.

The water was warm, blood warm and Rose shivered, not really liking the temperature. It felt strange, unnatural; to be swimming in such a sea and she wanted to get out. She had, however, agreed to this clandestine arrangement and so she waited, watching as Lucinda slipped her lithe body into the water, making a face.

“It’s hot,” she said quietly. Rose said nothing, turning to float on her back, looking up at the intersecting branches, cut through with the night sky. There was no moon, only inky blackness above and with the warmth of the water all around her; Rose wondered whether this was what it was like in the womb. Lucinda did not say anymore, and Rose continued to float, feeling oddly serene, as if waiting to be born.

She stayed in the pool long after the other woman had climbed out and went inside, thanking Rose for joining her. Alone in the water, Rose felt suddenly cold, that sense that someone was watching her making her dip her body beneath the surface, finding purchase on the bottom. She stood, eyes scanning the dark places around the water, all feeling of serenity vanished.

“Get a grip,” she hissed to herself. “And get out of this pool. It’s probably against the rules.”

Rose did not bother to dry herself completely; she wrapped her towel around her shoulders and made her way inside, glancing over her shoulder as she went. The water lapped at the edges of the pool, and Rose laughed softly at herself. It was just this place, the atmosphere, the knowing, and the horrible thoughts that had been in her head hours earlier.

At the base of the staircase she stopped, heart pounding. Someone was definitely watching her this time.

“I told you the water was nice.”

Scorpius!

“Where are you?” Rose whispered. She hoped he wasn’t somewhere behind her – she did not need him looking at her rear end, but then again, she didn’t want him looking at her front either. A shape unfurled itself from the top of the staircase and Rose watched with an odd twisting in her stomach as he came slowly down the steps. In the darkness, he looked different; snatches of light played on his face and arms, illuminating the pale skin and golden hair. He appeared older, powerful and it made her nervous. His face was cast half in shadow, the characteristic grin no where in sight.

“Are you okay?” Rose asked on impulse. Water dripped down her back from her hair and she hoped it wasn’t falling onto the carpet.

“What? Oh, yeah,” he murmured and Rose realised with a little jolt that he was looking at her! She hastily covered her body with her towel and his eyes snapped to her face.

“If you...”

“I wouldn’t dream of it,” he smiled. “Hugo would kill me for thinking such thoughts about his sister.”

Rose blushed; she didn’t want to give him the satisfaction but she couldn’t prevent it from happening. Her cheeks, those damned Weasley cheeks, flared into life and she knew she was scarlet from her neck to the roots of her hair. He said nothing, watching her and waiting and she took a deep breath, tossed back her dripping mane and pushed past him.

In her room, Rose showered, standing for what felt like hours under the steady stream of hot water. She was still blushing, she knew it, could feel it on her skin.

“Stupid Scorpius,” she muttered, throwing back the doona and climbing into her bed, not understanding what had rattled her so much. It wasn’t like she hadn’t had guys look at her; it was just that he had never, in all the years they had known one another, said anything like that to her before. It was unnerving, and she cursed him under her breath until she fell asleep.

The following morning, Rose woke with a screaming headache. She was dehydrated, her skin clammy and wondered whether it was possible to catch a cold in a warm swimming pool. She groaned and threw back the doona, freezing in the act of climbing from her bed.

Her dreams came back in a rush, snatches of bizarre things and half-heard conversations. Rose concentrated; she could never truly remember her dreams, just pieces of them and she bit her lip, willing last night’s dream to manifest. In the end, nothing came but sheer frustration, and a sense that she had been watching something unfold, something dangerous, and that she, while not involved, had been concerned for those who were. As she dressed, throwing on merlin-knows-what, Rose had the sudden realisation that the person in her dreams, the one she wanted to warn, was Scorpius.

Shaken, she wandered downstairs to the dining room, not hungry but knowing she needed to show her face. Scorpius was sitting at one end of the long table, his eyes shadowed, looking like he hadn’t slept, or hadn’t slept well. Draco Malfoy looked similarly tired, and no one was speaking. It was a sombre occasion, and as Rose took her place across the table from her brother, Scorpius came to life, passing her a plate of toast that Rose nearly dropped in surprise. She muttered a good morning, he grunted in return, and Hugo watched the interchange with an expression that Rose had seen before and did not like.

Draco cleared his throat and all eyes swung to the tall, still handsome man at the other end of the table. He quickly outlined the days events; things would start with an intense two hours of deportment study, to be conducted by his mother, Narcissa Malfoy. Whispers flew along the table like fire, jumping from one girl to the next. The girl beside Rose, Janis Belby, grabbed her arm in her excitement.

“Oh this will be wonderful,” she said, her eyes shining. “To learn from Narcissa Malfoy, the once Lady of this-”

“Wonderful,” Rose agreed quietly, cutting Janis off before she drowned her in Narcissa-induced praise. Rose had met the older woman before, once or twice, and she knew what Narcissa had done during the war, how she had saved Uncle Harry and thus turned against Voldemort. Rose wondered why Astoria was not here – surely it was more than not liking the competition. She snuck a glance at Scorpius, wondering how she would feel if her mother had abandoned her to a pack of loonies.

He was smiling, a genuine smile and Rose found she was glad. Like her, he obviously loved his grandmother and like her, he would want her involved in such a momentous event in his life. Rose turned her attention back to Draco, who told the girls that after lunch they were free to do as they pleased for two hours, while he and his mother conferred with Scorpius about the deportment training. He then made the shock announcement that two girls would be sent home tomorrow, based on the results of the morning’s activities and the evening’s dinner, where the girls were to put into practise what they had learnt in their lessons with Narcissa.

Rose noticed more than a few, including her cousins, looking nervous. Weasley’s were not known for their deportment; Rose recalled more than one family dinner where food was flung across the room courtesy of Uncle George. As breakfast wound to an end, Hugo kicked Rose under the table.

“What was that about?”

“What?”

Hugo indicated Scorpius, who was escorting two girls through the dining room doors and into the hall beyond. “The toast.”

“Ask him,” Rose snapped, standing up; she was still miffed about the whole thing – since when did Scorpius, lord of the Manor, offer someone breakfast? “I’ve got work to do.”

She left her brother sitting at the long table alone, racing upstairs to grab her camera, email her mother and prepare for the morning.



Chapter title from the song Ice, by Sarah McLachlan.

thanks for all the support on this guys! i really appreciate it!
edited: 19.10 with new chapter image!

Chapter 5: And she Shines just like a Star
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Chapter 5
And She Shines Just Like a Star


By the end of dinner that night, Janis Belby and Nicole MacMillan were gone. Rose sat in her room, tapping away at her keyboard, preparing the next article for her mother. She was struggling with the word count, and found herself sinking so low as to describe their dresses in detail, the food in detail, and Narcissa Malfoy’s deportment training in detail. Rose had found an email from Hermione waiting for her – she was happy with the first article but wanted Rose to include more of a ‘human element’ in her work. Which meant, in plain terms, Rose had to socialise more.

Narcissa did not stay past dinner; once the announcements had been made, she swept from the house. Rose had wondered where she and her husband lived now that Draco and his family occupied the Manor, and it was Hugo who filled her in. Her brother came to her room just as Rose was closing down her laptop.

“Lucius is in St Mungoes,” he said, picking up Rose’s pillow and wedging it under his head. Rose stood near the window while her brother lounged on her bed, putting his dirty feet all over her doona.

“What’s wrong with him?” she asked, coming over and pushing Hugo’s feet away. He rolled his eyes, but did as she indicated and removed his stinky socks from her bed.

“Not sure; all I know is he’s been there a while, and he isn’t getting any better. Narcissa stays with him most of the time, and she has a small house not far from the hospital,” Hugo said. “He’s in a coma, Scorpius says.”

“That’s awful,” Rose whispered. “Poor Draco and Scorpius.”

“Yeah, poor Scorpius,” Hugo repeated. “Regret not competing?”

Rose hit him, scowling as he laughed and jumped off the bed, crossing the room to pick up her bikini top, which was dangling from the back of a chair.

“Did you seriously wear this?” He raised his eyebrows.

“What’s wrong with it?”

“It’s probably a good thing you didn’t decide to compete – these are way out of fashion,” Hugo said seriously. Rose burst out laughing, and was still laughing when she shut the door on his surprised face. The next two days were uneventful – the competition moved along, with Elinor Montague, Melanie Finnigan, Amelia Davies and Nia Goldstein being eliminated. Rose did her job; she photographed, interviewed, observed and wrote her articles. She socialised as much as was possible; it seemed that, with the exception of a few, Scorpius had gotten rid of the most intelligent from the bunch. Rose did not want to have another conversation about fashion, hair, or Scorpius’ body.

At breakfast on the sixth day of the competition, Scorpius looked ill. He did not offer her toast, or speak and during a moment of chatter, Hugo leant close.

“You right?”

“Fine,” the blonde ground out. “Just a little stressed.”

Rose chuckled. “It must be stressful,” she said tartly, “having to spend your day’s sunbaking and looking at women.”

“Shut up,” Scorpius muttered, turning his face away. “You don’t know anything.”

“Hey,” Hugo said firmly, causing Rose to glance at him in surprise. If she didn’t know better, she’d say her brother had just jumped to her defence. She was feeling a little put out. Scorpius had been many things to her throughout school, throughout life so far, but he had never been short with her. Even though he drove her insane with his comments, it was always light-hearted, things designed just to get under her skin.

“Sorry.” His voice was flat; Rose and Hugo exchanged a glance, and she could see her brother was worried about his friend. Scorpius was acting not at all like his usual self and he looked terrible.

“Are you okay?” Rose asked, feeling useless, knowing he’d been asked that question less than two minutes ago.

“Nothing for you to worry about, Rose,” he said quietly.

The biggest piece of news came once their plates had been cleared away. Instead of Draco’s usual announcement at breakfast, about what the day would entail, he cleared his throat and told those still remaining that his wife was returning home (there was a buzz of excited and nervous chatter at this) and that his parents were also returning home to the Manor. Rose glanced up, quill poised above her parchment. She looked from Draco to his son; Scorpius was pale, his eyes shadowed and Rose wasn’t sure which piece of news worried him the most.

Lucius Malfoy was, Draco said in clear and steady voice, very ill and wished to spend his last days in the house where he had forged a life for himself and his family. He would see no one; Lucius and his wife were to be left alone, and would be staying in the family wing. After breakfast had ended and the contestants filed out to prepare for the day’s events (an academic competition, nothing more than standard spells and potions, plus a little bit of history of magic), Draco asked Rose, Scorpius and Hugo to come to him in his study.

The three of them stood waiting outside the study door; Hugo seemed relaxed, his usual carefree and slightly indifferent self, but his eyes kept straying to Scorpius, who Rose noted was paler than he had been half an hour earlier.

“I’m sorry about your grandfather,” Rose told him, feeling completely inadequate and ashamed about what she had said earlier. She would not admit that, not to him, and hoped her vague apology would be enough. Scorpius simply shrugged in acceptance and pushed open the heavy wooden doors.

Draco was, as in the last occasion Rose had entered this room, sitting with his head in his hands. Rose let the boys in first, sinking in to a seat next to her brother. Scorpius remained standing, leaning against one of the many towering bookshelves along the wall. He didn’t speak and kept his eyes on the ground.

“Astoria will be arriving this afternoon,” Draco told them, his eyes flicking to his son before he turned his attention to Rose and Hugo. “We are considering stopping the competition, in light of my father’s condition.”

“Is that necessary?” Scorpius asked, his voice tight.

“It’s for the best,” Draco said firmly.

“No,” Scorpius pushed himself away from the books and moved to stand by his father. “I want to see the end of this.”

Draco sighed irritably. “I hardly think this is the time to be searching for your bride,” he snapped, reaching up to tuck a strand of hair behind his ear.

Scorpius shook his head. “It’s the perfect time; grandfather can know I am happy before he...”

Rose shifted in her seat, feeling incredibly embarrassed. This was not the sort of conversation she and Hugo needed to be privy too – this was family business, and she knew just how sticky and complex that could be. She cleared her throat and stood up; both Malfoy men looked at her in surprise.

“Hugo and I can wait outside,” she said.

Draco shook his head. “Scorpius, you can go. I want to talk to these two alone.”

“But, Dad...”

“Out,” Draco ordered, and with a heavy sigh, his son obeyed, closing the door with finality. Rose felt her palms begin to sweat and she wiped them on her shorts, taking a deep breath. Hugo, she noticed, was sprawled in his chair looking completely at ease. “Hugo, since you are here - often enough - I need you to keep Scorpius occupied. I don’t want him worrying about his grandfather.”

Hugo grinned. “Easy. Have you seen those women?”

Rose groaned at her brother’s lack of tact and respect but Draco merely smiled, as if he knew that was what Hugo would say, before turning to Rose.

“As a member of the press, I have given you full access to the going’s on of this house, but I do not, under any circumstances, want any mention of my father’s illness, or of him being here, ending up in the paper.”

“Of course,” she whispered. “You have my word.”

He nodded, obviously relieved. Rose was stunned that he seemed to think she would argue with him over such a serious matter. “Thank you. Now, I have to make sure everything is ready for my wife’s return, and check that my parent’s rooms are in order.”

Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy arrived within the hour. Rose stood at her window and watched as the tall, still beautiful blonde woman helped the medi-witches adjust the blankets around her husband, smoothing back his long hair and kissing his forehead. As he was carried inside, Rose felt a prickling of tears behind her lids. Lucius Malfoy did not have a glowing reputation amongst her family, even though he and his wife, Draco too, renounced Voldemort in the end, but he was still human and his family were suffering.

“Scorpius has more strength than I give him credit for,” Rose muttered, biting her nails. She knew that if it were her, and Lucius was her grandfather, she would be in her room, howling.

Rose could not help feeling compassion towards the man who tormented her kin, and her Uncle Harry, for so many years. He looked so helpless, laying there, his hair spread out around his head like Sleeping Beauty, the character in a muggle fairytale her mother had read her as a child. Moment later, she heard footsteps and assumed the sleeping Lucius and his escort were passing her door. She waited a moment, before opening it and glancing out.

Scorpius was standing in the hall, his arms folded across his chest, watching as his grandfather was wheeled away. Rose slipped out into the hall and stood beside him.

“What’s wrong with him?” she asked softly, following Scorpius’ gaze down the hall.

“Don’t know. A coma, dad says. Grandfather is trapped in his own head, trapped in his memories and they don’t think he will come out. They can’t wake him up; magic can’t help him, Rose, how absurd is that? He will die in there, in his head. They know that much, but they don’t know when. Might be weeks, might be years.”

“Oh Scorpius,” Rose breathed. “I’m so terribly sorry.”

He flashed her a look filled with quick gratitude, before his father called him and he disappeared down the hall. Rose stood looking after him, until Hugo came racing down the hall, panting. He held up a hand for pause, leaning forward, his other hand clutching his side as he caught his breath.

“Are you really that unfit?” Rose laughed, and he scowled at her through his fringe. “All those cocktails and late nights must be catching up with you.”

Hugo shook his head frantically. “They’re going to kill one another!”

“Who?”

“Roxie and Dom; come on.” He grabbed Rose’s hand and dragged her down the hall, almost pushed her down the staircase and into the drawing room. It was not a pretty sight; Roxanne and Dominique were on the ground, screeching like banshee’s, while the other competitors stood and looked on, not making a single move to intercede; probably didn’t want to ruin their dresses. Rose rolled her eyes, glared at them and turned her attention to her cousins, who were know clawing at each other like feral cats. Roxanne had a nasty welt across one cheek and was doing her best to stay out of reach of Dominique’s talons. Dominique, on the other hand, was showing the first signs of a black eye, and the strap of her sundress was torn. If it hadn’t have been so serious, it would have been hilarious. Rose could see Hugo biting his lip, his eyes shining with suppressed laughter.

“This is ridiculous!” Rose snapped, stepping forward. “You’re family; stop it.”

“She’s stabbed me in the back!” Roxanne hissed, grabbing a handful of Dominique’s hair. Dominique snarled, her beautiful face flushed and blotchy with rage. Rose looked at Hugo, who nodded and pretended to roll up his sleeves. He stepped forward, grabbed Roxanne around the waist and lifted her into the air, swinging her away from Dominique. Rose wrapped her arms around Dominique, who had jumped to her feet and lunged towards Roxanne the moment Hugo set her down.

“Get lost, the rest of you,” Rose shouted at the other girls. Muttering and smiling smugly, they marched out, all but Heidi Krum and Lucinda Parker. “We’re fine; thank you,” Rose panted. Dominique was stronger than she looked.

When the Weasley’s were finally alone, Hugo and Rose released their quarry. “Kill each other for all I care,” Rose said stonily. “You’ve chosen the perfect moment to do it. I’m sure the Malfoy’s would appreciate cleaning up your bodies in the middle of their own problems.”

“She kissed him!” Roxanne bellowed ferociously and Rose looked at her in surprise. Dominique was standing with her arms folded, her chin high, and her expression proud.

“He kissed me,” she retorted.

“Dominique,” Rose groaned. “Don’t mess with him. I know you don’t like him, Roxanne knows you don’t like him so why did you do that?”

“Because she could,” Roxanne spat. She was standing slightly behind Hugo, looking murderous, her face and neck glowing red. “Because she is a low, two-faced cow who always wants what other people have, isn’t that right, Dominique?”

Dominique tossed her head, saying nothing. Rose knew what was coming next but Roxanne spoke before she could intervene.

“Teddy Lupin,” Roxanne stated, and Rose sighed. Not this again. Everyone knew Dominique was in love with Teddy, and everyone knew that she had nursed a broken heart for years. Now that Victoire was Teddy’s wife, the family hoped things would calm down, but the crushed expression on Dominique’s face told Rose nothing had changed for her love-struck cousin. Ever since they were children, Dominique had harboured feelings for Teddy, and Rose had overheard the adults discussing it one night, years ago, when things became serious between Teddy and Victoire. They had all hoped that Dominique would realise it was the other sister he loved; what they did not count on was the fierce competition that existed between the two sisters. At one stage, for almost a year, Victoire and Dominique did not speak, and that standoff only came to an end when Victoire had begged her sister to be her bridesmaid. Dominique had agreed, perhaps hoping to show people she was strong enough to deal with it.

She obviously wasn’t; Rose was worried her cousin was about to cry and Rose did not deal well with tearful women, cousins or not.

“Don’t be mean,” Hugo hissed at Roxanne, who sighed and muttered what Rose knew was a false apology.

“Just what is going on here?”

Rose spun around at the new voice. In the doorway was a slight, dainty woman with fine blonde hair, dressed in rich blue travelling robes. Astoria Malfoy swept into the room, looking cross. Roxanne’s blush deepened and Dominique did her best to hide her shattered expression.

“Perhaps you can shed some light on the matter, Hugo,” Mrs Malfoy said and Hugo rubbed at his face. “Well?”

Hugo’s words tumbled out on top of one another, and within seconds, Astoria had dismissed Roxanne and Dominique, telling them sternly their behaviour was unacceptable and she would need to seriously consider their remaining in the competition. She then marched out of the room, robes swishing, leaving Rose staring after her in shock.

“Mother of the groom,” Hugo said faintly. “She’s something, isn’t she?”

“Something alright,” Rose murmured. She felt sorry for both Roxanne and Dominique if they had to deal with Astoria. The woman radiated power and strength from the tips of her pointed shoes to the top of her well-coiffed head, and Rose knew then with certainty it was the Lady of the Manor who ruled the roost. She sighed. “I should talk to her.”

“For your articles?”

“No,” she snapped, “for our cousins. For Roxanne in particular, who actually wants to be here.”

After checking her cousins were in different parts of the Manor (Dominique was by the pool, sunbaking and acting like nothing had ever happened, and Roxanne was sulking in her room) Rose went looking for Astoria Malfoy. She wasn’t sure where Astoria’s rooms were, and walked slowly along the long halls of the family wing. Scorpius found her lingering outside a door, and she told him quickly what had happened.

“Mother will call the whole thing off,” he said shortly, playing with his hair. If he liked the idea of two women coming to blows over him, he didn't show it, and Rose was quietly impressed. “Darn it.”

“Where can I find her?” Rose asked quietly. “I need to speak with her,” she added, ignoring Scorpius’ raised eyebrows. He directed her to Astoria, muttered a ‘good luck’ and disappeared again.

Astoria’s rooms were down the hall to Rose’s and she took a deep breath before knocking on the door. A cool voice called for her to enter, and Rose found Astoria sitting at her dresser, combing out her long blonde hair. If Rose thought her room was richly furnished, it was nothing compared to Astoria’s. White flowers dripped from every surface and their scent permeated the air. The wall paper was covered in small red flowers with deep green petals and large panels of soft gold. The carpet was rich red, blood-like, and the large four-poster bed was draped in luxurious cream linen, edged with red and gold. A large mahogany wardrobe with claw feet and gold trimming stood to one side of the enormous chamber; a matching dresser, writing desk and chair, and set of draws completed the scene. There was even an antique and elaborately patterned dressing screen in one corner of the room.

Nervous, Rose cleared her throat, aware that Astoria was watching her in the mirror, her blue eyes scraping across Rose’s body, noticing everything, from her crumpled shirt to her hair, which was wild and possessed of a mind of its own following the skirmish with her cousins.

“Rose Weasley,” Astoria said finally, turning sinuously in her seat. Her dressing gown slipped from her knees, showing pale slender legs. She was the most stunning creature Rose had ever seen; those girls downstairs had a long road to travel if they believed they could be one inch the woman Astoria Malfoy was. Her long, slightly curled blonde hair hung down her back and over her slim shoulders, and her sharp eyes pierced through Rose like darts, seeing everything, commenting on nothing. Her skin was as pale and creamy as milk, her fingernails long and painted deep red. “Draco tells me you are doing a good job. I’ve not have a chance to read the paper, being abroad, but he has kept them for me, and I shall read your work after dinner tonight.”

Rose nodded her thanks, shifting her weight from one foot to the other. She wasn’t sure where to begin. “Mrs Malfoy...”

“No need to be so formal,” Astoria smiled quickly, waving a slim hand through the air indifferently. “You are here for your cousins, I am guessing? Sent as their advocate?”

“They didn’t ask me to come,” Rose said quietly.

“Why did you not compete?” Astoria asked mildly. “Is my son not worthy?”

Rose gaped. “I’m sure he is,” she managed to stammer. “But I don’t believe this is the way to find your future...partner.”

Astoria’s laugh was rich and melodious. “My dear, neither do I. This whole contest was my husband’s idea; silly, if you ask me. Scorpius...is still young. There is no hurry for him to settle down with one girl, although I do wish he wouldn’t spend so much time with those...” she sniffed, a gesture of disdain. Rose could find nothing to say; she had not envisaged such a candid conversation. “So what should we do about your cousins?”

“Are you really going to send them home?” Rose asked. “I agree that they behaved...recklessly, but this whole competition...breeds feelings like that. They are hot-headed, and as it is getting near to the end...”

“Yes, yes, I completely agree,” Astoria sighed delicately. “One will have to go then. Which one should stay?”

“Roxanne,” Rose said automatically. “She really likes Scorpius.”

“She shouldn’t have let him go then, should she?” Astoria answered sharply and Rose nodded.

“Possibly not, but everyone makes mistakes.”

Astoria narrowed her eyes, watching Rose carefully. “You’re a sensible woman, Rose Weasley. Very well. Clara!”

Rose nearly fell over in fright as the little house elf apparated into the room with a loud crack.

“Yes, Mistress?” she squeaked, giving a little curtsey.

“Fetch my son for me, please; he has not been to see me yet and I am annoyed.”

With an “of course Mistress,” Clara vanished, and reappeared moments later with a wary looking Scorpius on her arm. His eyes widened at the sight of Rose standing by his mother. Rose waited to be dismissed, but when that didn’t happen she understood she was here to play witness to whatever happened next.

“Scorpius, dear,” Astoria began, holding out her arms. He crossed the room and embraced his mother, kissing the pale, perfumed cheek she offered. She reached up and smoothed his hair from his forehead, saying he needed a hair cut and she could fix it after dinner. Rose shifted, again uncomfortable. Why was she always witness to Malfoy family moments? “Rose has convinced me to let Roxanne stay in the competition. You must choose Dominique to go home tonight.”

“Yes, Mother,” Scorpius muttered, pulling away from her arms. He looked at Rose again, and sighed. “Thanks.”

“No problem; I did it for her,” Rose answered curtly. “For some reason, she likes you.” The words were out of her mouth before she could stop them, fleeing from her lips like prisoners from jail. Astoria laughed in delight and Scorpius scowled, giving Rose a dirty look. Rose was embarrassed; whenever she was uncomfortable, she said the first thing that entered her mind, without pause for thought.

Astoria dismissed them both, and out in the hall, Rose tried to apologise.

“Forget it,” he mumbled. “I have a swimwear contest to judge.” Rose made a face; and he smirked. “Not too late to enter, you know. I rather liked that bikini of yours.”

“Get lost,” she told him, turning and stalking away down the hall to collect her camera, her cheeks burning. Why did he have to say things like that to her? What we he trying to achieve? Rose sighed, knowing it was nothing new. Scorpius had always gotten under her skin, had always known just how to tease her and she had taken the bait every time. Rose shook her head, not understanding why her hackles were still jumping to attention every time he opened his mouth. He’s just irritating, that’s all, she decided, reaching her room.

She chewed her lip, finding her camera and notepad and taking a moment to force her hair to behave itself. First Draco, now Astoria. Rose didn’t understand it – she didn’t believe for a moment that, had she have chosen to enter this stupid contest, she would have gotten past the front door. She was not nearly as pretty as her cousins.

Rose looked at her bikini, still hanging from the back of a chair where she had tossed it. Maybe she should, just to stir. It would be the last thing Scorpius expected of her. She didn’t want to enter the contest – that would be going too far – but perhaps, since they were near the pool, she should look the part.

Taking a deep breath and a moment to check her sanity, Rose shed her clothes.



Chapter title from the song, Closer by Ne-Yo.

big thanks to everyone who has reviewed/read this story so far! thanks for the support - I'm glad this is being so well received!

kate xx

Chapter 6: And So Where Does my Heart, Belong
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Chapter 6
And so where does my heart, belong


By the time Rose walked out into the pool area, the contest was about to start. The competitors were lined up and waiting and Rose thought she’d never seen so much skin on display. Dominique’s swimsuit barely covered her; Rose knew instantly she’d avoid photographing that particular cousin, just in case Uncle Bill saw his daughter in next to nothing and went on the rampage. It had happened before and was not a pretty sight.

Rose tried to sneak in, hating being late. What she did not anticipate was the strange silence that fell when she made an appearance. The girls began whispering, Roxanne looked at her like she was mad and Rose wished she’d brought her towel, or something, to cover herself. She was beginning to regret her decision. She may as well be naked she felt that exposed.

Scorpius and Hugo were sitting on the bench seat beneath the willow and Rose made her way towards them, heart thudding. She was suddenly cold, despite the greenhouse conditions: warmth from the sun was leaking through the glass roof of the pool area and a sultry breeze blew from nowhere. Goosebumps were dancing over her skin and she knew she was white as snow, compared to the tanned goddesses on the other side of the pool. She knew also that if she didn’t get warm soon, she would start to go blotchy on her thighs.

Scorpius was very quiet as she sat down; unusual for him. Hugo moved up to make room for her and raised his eyebrows as she sat.

“Nice legs.”

“That is hardly appropriate – you’re my brother,” Rose snapped. The seat was hard on her backside and she was unnervingly uncomfortable and therefore, irritable.

“I was paying you a compliment,” he shot back in a low voice. “Learn to take one.”

“No, a compliment would be something like, ‘you like nice, Rose,’ not...”

“Fine,” he grumbled, folding his arms and turning his attention to the other girls. “Forget I said anything.”

Rose sighed, unfolding her note pad and testing her pen, scribbling little swirls across the top of her page. Scorpius shifted awkwardly beside her; Rose noticed he was not watching the contest – he was watching her. Her skin tightened; the goosebumps increased and she shivered.

“Are you cold?” he asked.

“No. Pay attention – the hens are parading, although, in the animal world, it’s the males who need to compete for the females,” Rose muttered. “This whole thing goes against the laws of nature.”

“You’re full of useless information sometimes; you know that, don’t you?” Scorpius said simply, nudging her leg with his knee.

Rose nudged back. “And you’re nothing but a puffed up bantam rooster.”

He pinched her sharply; a warning, and while she jumped at the sting, she said nothing, forcing herself to pay attention to what was going on across the pool. She realised, some moments later, that Scorpius’ leg was still pressed against hers, and she also realised, with a little jolt, that she was no longer cold. He was radiating heat, and even though she knew she should push him away, Rose relaxed, enjoying the warmth and odd camaraderie.

Lucinda Parker was declared the winner of the contest. She made her way around the pool on her ridiculously long legs to collect a kiss from Scorpius. She smiled at Rose, winked at Hugo, and walked away, hips swaying, her tiny bikini leaving nothing to the imagination. After the announcement, no one seemed to know what to do next. The girls were milling about on the opposite side of the pool and Scorpius was silent, chewing his lip, his eyes on the ground at his feet. Rose followed his gaze, noticing her own feet and shins next to his. He was almost as pale as she was, and for some reason, that gave her satisfaction.

Hugo stretched luxuriously, a cat in a puddle of sunshine, all sharp angles and leonine features. “I’m bored. Hey girls,” he called, standing up, “anyone care to join me in the water?”

Rose rolled her eyes as he jumped in; she just managed to save her camera and notepad from the tidal wave that flowed over the edge of the pool. Hugo swam around, splashing water at the girls until, one by one, they gave up their shrieking and cackling and slipped into the water, but Scorpius stayed where he was.

“I thought you liked to swim,” Rose said pleasantly, stretching her legs out in front of her to catch the sunlight that snuck through the branches above them. The heat had made her feel lazy and full and although she had many words to describe how she felt about swimwear contests, she found she couldn’t be bothered sharing them with him.

He shook his head. “Normally, yes.”

Again, Rose wondered what was wrong with him. The Scorpius she knew would have been the first one in the water; he would have swam around, grabbing girls, perhaps trying to kiss some of them, laughing and grinning like the child he usually was.

“Not getting in?” he asked her, just as Hugo swam past and saturated them both from the waist down. It was Scorpius’ quick thinking that saved her equipment this time and Rose took her camera and notepad back from him gratefully.

“No need to get in now,” she said waspishly, glaring at Hugo across the pool. He shrugged an apology and swam off after Melody. “I think I’ll go inside and get dry.”

“I’d have picked you, you know, not Lucinda,” Scorpius stated, his voice low.

“You...what?” Rose stammered; her hands were shaking, an involuntary action, and she thrust them in her lap. What was he doing now?

Scorpius nodded, reaching over to poke her in the ribs. “You should have entered, instead of sitting around teasing me.”

Rose opened her mouth but nothing came out except a strangled gasp. Scorpius laughed lightly.

“You’re practically indecent, Weasley, in that thing.” Like a fourteen year old boy, he flicked the strap of her bikini top, jumped up and dove into the water. Rose watched him a moment, stunned, before scooping up her belongings and practically running from the pool area.

Up in her room, Rose’s heart was still pounding ridiculously fast. She could not believe he’d even noticed her when they were surrounded by such beauty. She shook her head, slipping out of her bikini and into dry clothes. Perhaps he didn’t; he was probably just trying to get a rise out of her, as he normally did. And what did she do? Sit there gaping like a fish, her brain unable to conjure up any suitable insults.

“Good one, Rose,” she snapped, flinging herself face down on her bed. “Idiot, idiot, idiot.”

After dinner that night, Scorpius did what his mother asked and eliminated Dominique. Roxanne could not keep the glee from her face, smiling radiantly at her cousin. She was not the only one – Dominique, it appeared, had not been too popular among the contestants. She was a direct threat, Rose could see that. Tall and slender, Dominique looked like she would float away on the lightest breeze. There was an ethereal quality to her features, a fairy face, and her eyes were such a light blue there were almost unnerving. She radiated glamour and sophistication without having to try. Dominique could sit languidly for hours and appear the perfect picture of demure femininity. She looked sweet and innocent, but Rose knew, as did Roxanne, what lurked under the surface. Fiercely possessive, competitive and stubborn, she would be a challenge for whatever man was insane enough to marry her.


Dominique got up from the table graciously, collected her trunk and made her way to the front door, where a car was waiting to take her to the main gates. From there, she would disapparate home.

Rose caught her at the door. “I’m sorry,” she mumbled, feeling guilty. Dominique smiled, reaching up to smooth back her luscious curtain of strawberry blonde hair.

“Don’t feel bad, Rose. You were right, earlier. I don’t want to be here. Scorpius is an immature child; it’s better if I go,” she said, still smiling. Rose knew what it must have cost her to be so composed. Dominique did not like to loose anything, especially a competition over a boy.

“See you soon, then,” Rose said, smiling. Dominique gave her a shrewd look.

“Perhaps; maybe you’ll be Lady of the Manor,” she said simply.

“What!”

Dominique laughed at Rose’s shocked face. “Come on. I saw you two, by the pool, and I’m not the only one. You’d better watch out – some of those girls are nutters, that Melody in particular. She’ll probably put a bubotuber or fanged geranium in your bed. Oh, and Roxanne has a nasty left hook; can you still see my bruise? I think I fixed it up rather well.”

“No, you can’t see it and you’re crazy! I cannot stand Scorpius!” Rose was flabbergasted. She felt hot all over.

Her cousin only grinned. “There’s a fine line between love and hate, Rosie.”

“In this case, it’s a canyon,” Rose snapped, folding her arms. Her cousin didn’t say any more but Rose did not like the smugness of her expression. “Just Owl me when you get home, alright?” she added, always the mother hen.

After Dominique had gone, Rose realised Roxanne’s chances had improved – eight girls had been sent home, and Roxanne, as far as Rose could tell, had been sailing through all the tasks. Rose sighed. She didn’t think she wanted Scorpius Malfoy as a relative and she was pretty certain Uncle George didn’t want it either, although he’d be set for jokes for years to come; family dinners would definitely have more appeal if she got to witness Scorpius being ruthlessly tormented.

Rose rubbed at her eyes, deciding she may as well sleep. It was not late, but there was nothing else to do. The girls were given the evenings to themselves and on those occasions, they usually spent their time in their rooms, alone. This was not the sort of contest that fostered friendships. Rose thought briefly of Lucinda; she’d not had the chance to interview her after she won the swimwear contest but figured she’d take the time to do so tomorrow.

Dressing for bed, Rose found her thoughts straying to Scorpius, and to the ridiculous things Dominique had said. Okay, she had to admit he was alright to look at, but the moment he opened his mouth she wanted to slap him. She was sick of the games he played with her – it may have been cute when they were fourteen, but definitely not now. They were adults; at least, she was. She could not speak for Scorpius. Rose also had to admit she liked Draco and Astoria. Both had surprised her – she was not expecting wit or charm from either of them; Draco was smooth and careful, while Astoria seemed very open and not afraid to say what she was thinking. Rose liked that. It reminded her of her mother.

Rose had almost succumbed to sleep, embraced by the cloud of doona, when her door opened. She grasped her wand, lying beneath her pillow where her father had told her to keep it, especially while in Malfoy Manor. She stopped breathing as a body slid into her room, nothing but a shape that was immediately lost in the darkness. She was about to shoot first and ask questions later, when the shape spoke.

“Rose? You awake?”

She fired a shot at him anyway. “You idiot, Hugo. I could have really hurt you.”

“You nearly did! What are you shooting at me for?”

“What do you want?” Rose hissed, not in the mood for his stupidity. He hesitated, before sighing and illuminating the room with a sharply muttered ‘lumos.’ Uninvited, he climbed onto her bed.

“I’m worried about Scorpius.”

“You woke me up to tell me that? Hugo...” Rose sighed, pulling her legs up to her chest and wrapping her arms around them. In the weird half-light she could see her brother chewing his lip, a sure sign that he was really concerned and not just here to annoy her. “I must admit he looks like death at the moment, and he has been acting...odd, for Scorpius that is. Most people would call his behaviour normal.” Her joke fell on deaf ears; Hugo got up to pace the room.

“He’s not sleeping.”

“Oh for Merlin’s...okay why isn’t he sleeping?”

“Don’t know; bad dreams, or something,” Hugo murmured.

“Bad dreams?” Rose repeated and Hugo nodded. “How bad?”

“He didn’t sleep last night at all; he told me he just walked around his room all night, trying to stay awake,” Hugo answered quietly, his voice not much more than a whisper.

“Did he tell you about these dreams?” Rose asked, curious despite herself. She didn’t care much for Scorpius, but Hugo was her brother and if carefree, happy-go-lucky Hugo was worried then it must be a serious matter.

Hugo hesitated again, before casting Rose a quick, almost skeptical look. “In his dreams, Scorpius is convinced he is his grandfather.”

“Lucius? But that doesn’t make any sense,” Rose murmured, pulling her bottom lip between her teeth.

“I know,” Hugo replied, coming to sit on the edge of the bed once more. “Rose...” he began, in a tone she knew and hated. It meant he wanted something. “You’re smart, right.”

“What?”

“Can you...I don’t know. Put him to sleep?”

“You want me to sing him a lullaby?” she snapped, pushing at her brother with her foot. Hugo caught her toes and squeezed and she pulled her foot free and kicked him harder.

“Ouch! I’d never inflict that sort of torture on a friend. I meant with magic. Please?”

Rose let the insult slide; she was used to them from Hugo. “Why can’t you do it?”

“I offered, but he won’t let me,” Hugo mumbled and Rose sighed. Stupid, stubborn Scorpius. Hugo would probably die for him, and he didn’t realise it. “Do it for me?”

“Only so you go away and let me sleep,” she growled. She had to admit, these dreams of Scorpius’ were intriguing and she wanted to ask him about them herself. She had never heard of such a thing, never come across it in her wide reading and it was certainly never mentioned in any classes at Hogwarts. She recalled the dream she had had, nights earlier. It had not revisited her, and she had not thought about it again, but she remembered now: the horrible sense that something was wrong, and she was powerless to stop it. And Scorpius; why had he been in her dreams in the first place? It seemed too coincidental, but Rose could think of no reason why she would dream of him in danger. She remembered also that Uncle Harry had always told them to listen to their dreams, to not ignore anything, because it might be important. Rose shook off the strange feeling building in her gut and turned her attention back to her brother. “Where is he?”

“His room,” Hugo grinned. “I’ll take you.” He lunged forward, dragged her out of bed and spun them both around, disapparating them across the Manor in an instant. Rose clutched the wall for support, slowly opening her eyes.

“How did you ever pass your tests?” she gasped. The door she was looking at was much the same as the one for her room and she had the sudden suspicion that Hugo had played a joke on her. Hugo hugged her; she pushed him off, struggling for air.

“Thanks, Rosie. See ya,” Hugo winked, and vanished.

“Hugo!” Rose hissed into the darkness. What did he expect her to do? Simply walk in and pull out her wand? “Oh for the love of Merlin, this is ridiculous.” Rose chewed her lip, waiting, hoping that Scorpius would just open the door without her having to knock, and hoping that no one would find her outside his room. It was late; the Manor was silent and Rose guessed all sensible people were sleeping. Not one to break a promise, even to her moronic brother, Rose sighed, reaching for the door handle. It was unlocked, and she slowly pushed it open. If he was sleeping, she didn’t want to be the one to wake him up.

“Scorpius?” she whispered; the room was cast in darkness. Maybe Hugo had gotten it wrong and he was perfectly fine. Rose stepped further into the room warily. “Malfoy?”

There was movement on what Rose assumed was the bed. She blinked, waiting for her eyes to adjust. When they didn’t, her impatience got the better of her and she held out her wand, illuminating the room. It took a minute for Rose to realise what was going on – Scorpius was indeed in bed, and he was not alone. The blood drained from her face; fire shot from her toes to her cheeks and she knew she was blushing already.

“Oh my.”

The figures on the bed disentangled themselves hurriedly. Rose saw the stunned, beautiful face of Lucinda Parker and the equally shocked face of Scorpius. She didn’t hang around, turning and bolting out the door, hoping that in the semi-darkness neither had been able to recognise her. From down the hall, she heard their voices, his angry, hers pleading, and seconds later he was out in the hall.

“Rose, wait.”

“I should have knocked, I’m sorry,” she blustered, turning away as he pulled his shirt over his head. Face burning, Rose hurried from him, not knowing or caring where she was going.

She was going to kill Hugo; that much was certain.

“Where are you going?” Scorpius caught up and grabbed at her arm, his fingers brushing her skin.

“Away from you,” she snapped, not knowing why she was so angry. Her cheeks were hot, her breathing short and she wanted to punch him. She shook herself away from him, folding her arms, realising she was wearing nothing but her pyjamas. She felt naked, exposed and strangely vulnerable.

“What did you want?” he said quietly. His hair was falling into his eyes and sticking up at the back; his lips were plump, his breathing still erratic and Rose closed her eyes momentarily, trying not to think about what he had just been doing. She could sense him waiting, watching her, and she opened her eyes, giving him the glare her mother said would boil water.

“Apparently you’re not sleeping,” Rose snapped; the colour drained from his cheeks. “But it seems like you’re doing just fine to me!”

“Hugo told you?” His voice was low, pained, and she nodded, surprised out of her anger by his reaction. He appeared almost scared, wary, and she suddenly wanted to know why.

“He’s worried about you.”

Scorpius smiled and Rose had the unfathomable sense he was about to say something to infuriate her. “You must be too, to come to my room in the middle of the night.”

“I didn’t realise you had company,” she replied with heavy sarcasm. “Shall I make an appointment next time?”

Scorpius tipped his head on the side, studying her. “Why are you angry? Is this because of what I said -”

“You’ll have to be more specific, Scorpius; you say a lot of things that make me mad.”

His face softened suddenly. “Or you’re jealous.”

Rose backed away a pace. “In your dreams, Malfoy.”

He grinned triumphantly. “You are. You’re actually jealous. I can’t believe it.”

“Believe what you want,” Rose said coolly, not liking the way his words sounded in her head. They sat there, messing with her common sense and taunting her. She bit her lip; he was just teasing her again, that was all. There was no way in Hell she was jealous! He was still grinning and she growled. “Get out of my way.”

Rose stormed past him; he caught her arm this time, swinging her around until her back was pressed against the wall. She experienced a moment of panic when he stepped closer to her, and then, it passed and Rose was aware of something that frightened her even more: he had never been this close to her before, and she liked it. She could see every line, every delicate line, on his face; every eyelash and every tiny speck of colour in his eyes. His hair hung across his forehead and she wanted to reach up and brush it away. He was more real like this, more human, so close and so exposed. Her mouth went dry.

“Rose...” Scorpius inched closer, closer, until his body was touching hers. Rose was hyper aware that his chest was pressed against hers, that his hips were in line with hers, and that his leg was wedged between her knees, pinning her to the wall. He was only an inch or two taller, though he had always seemed more. The hair stood up on her arms and she shivered – he was so close it was painful! She clenched her fists, mortified that her body, of all things, was betraying her so completely. She hoped he couldn’t tell; she’d never hear the end of it.

“You should get back,” she managed to say; it hurt to talk. “It’s not nice to leave a lady waiting.”

“I can always ask her to leave,” he said simply.

“That would be rude,” Rose found herself saying weakly.

“Would it?”

She nodded. “Most definitely. There is nothing worse than a man who doesn’t finish what he started.” The moment the words were out of her mouth, she regretted them. Scorpius gave her an odd look; Rose saw surprise, confusion, contemplation and finally, something she thought could be desire. She had never spoken to him like that before and was horrified she had done so now; especially now. She took a deep breath, lifting both hands and placing them against either side of his heart, feeling the firmness of his muscles and the broad plain of his chest through his shirt. She could feel his heartbeat under her fingertips; so rhythmical and alive and warm and something in her blood stirred, something deep and as equally alive, feral and wild. She swallowed.

His hands tightened on her waist, fingers burning her through her clothing, branding her. “I don’t want her,” Scorpius whispered; there was frustration in his voice now, and his eyes bored holes into Rose’s head. “Don’t you know?”

“Know what?” Rose gave him a little shove and he stepped back. Her body screamed in protest, howled with indignation, and she ignored it, taking a deep breath and racing away down the hall before he could speak again. She knew it was a childish thing to do, but she had to get away from him. She could feel him looking after her, and she bit her lip, the urge to turn back to him so powerful it was like a thing with claws inside her head.

In the morning, she could not look at him, and two girls were absent from breakfast. Elspeth Avery had vanished, leaving all her belongings behind, and Isobelle Thomas was found minutes later, unconscious on the floor of her room.



Chapter title from the song, Undenied, by Portishead.
Thanks for all the reviews and favourites guys - I really appreciate it.
Edited 19.10 for new chapter image and correction of some typos.


Chapter 7: Paranoia is in Bloom
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Chapter 7
Paranoia is in Bloom



Isobelle Thomas, the Medi-Witch concluded, had been Stunned, and possibly repeatedly within a short time frame. The stout woman stood in the hall, talking quietly to Draco and Astoria. Scorpius was standing a little way back from them, his eyes on the front door; Isobelle had been wheeled out the mouth of the Manor less than ten minutes ago, her face pale and her breathing shallow. Rose was lingering near the stairs with Hugo, the other girls clustered together not far away, whispering and wondering. They looked frightened, timid now, all their glamour shrugged away.

Rose could feel shock creeping over her; she was cold, her skin clammy and her head a whirlwind of questions and worry. She knew Isobelle; they were not friends as such, but more acquaintances, children pushed together by their parents. She had not spoken to her in a long time and she experienced a pang of regret at that realisation. Rose chastised herself immediately – Isobelle wasn’t dead; there was no need for such dark regrets.

Astoria came away and led the girls outside into the garden, saying that a nice walk would do them all good and that there was no need to worry, Isobelle would be fine and she was in the best of care at St Mungo’s. Rose chewed her lip, puzzled. No one had come forward and claimed responsibility for the act, but she didn’t really expect them too. She recalled Dominique’s words, before she left, about how seriously some of the girls were taking this competition and Rose began to wonder just who was serious enough to turn their wand on another person in such a way.

“Do you think we should tell mum and dad?” Hugo was saying.

“What for?” Rose muttered. “Draco would have notified Dean by now. And anyway,” Rose added quietly, “there is no need.”

The Weasley siblings watched as their father strode through the front door, the Ministry insignia blazing upon his robes. He had his wand out, clutched in his right hand, as if he expected the culprit to just come marching towards him. Ron acknowledged his children with a nod and a look that Rose knew meant he wanted to speak with them before he left. She watched as her father crossed the hall towards Draco and Scorpius; she was close enough to hear him say all wands would need to be examined.

“All?” Draco’s eyebrows lifted in apparent disdain.

Ron sighed. “Yes, all, Malfoy: yours, your son’s, wife’s, your mother’s, and my children’s...everyone who was in this house in the last twelve hours. We’ll start with the family. An Auror is on their way to St Mungo’s to examine Isobelle. We must rule our Dark magic before anything else.”

Draco sighed, and raised his wand; Ron caught at his hand.

“No magic until I’ve performed-”

“Fine,” Draco said stonily, shaking his arm loose. “I shall fetch my wife the ordinary way then.” He stalked out of the house, his footfall heavy. He looked tired, exhausted even, Scorpius too. Rose had the overwhelming desire to put her arms around Scorpius, to comfort, but she didn’t move. Fragments of her dreams, strange, twisted things, still lurked in her head. It had started out as the same dream as before, with her trying to warn Scorpius, and then, the dream had warped, flying sideways and sending Rose into a tailspin of naked flesh and fierce longing. It left her shaken, and, in light of what had happened in the Manor overnight, she wasn’t sure which aspect of the dream bothered her the most.

She looked over at Scorpius again and sighed. With Draco and Astoria both outdoors, he was standing alone, obviously puzzled and frightened and slowly, she crossed the tiled floor to his side, dragging Hugo with her for good measure.

“Are you alright?” Her voice was soft, tentative and he would not look at her.

She saw him swallow. “Yes, no: not at all, actually. What just happened?”

Rose could only shake her head; Hugo put his hand on Scorpius’ shoulder in that way men did. She supposed it was meant to be a comforting gesture. Draco returned, Astoria in tow, and marched upstairs to collect his mother. No one spoke until they were gathered in Dracos’ study; Rose and Hugo had been ushered through the heavy timber doors by their father, who said he may as well do them now too. Ron had a small frown between his brows.

“Does mum know about this?” Rose whispered.

“Not yet,” Ron answered grimly. They waited patiently as Ron performed prior incantato on each of their wands; Rose blushed when her last spell was revealed as the canary transfiguration hex. Her father raised his eyebrows. “Your uncle would be proud,” he muttered, trying not to smile. “Who was the intended recipient?”

“Hugo,” Rose mumbled, hot in the face.

“Are we done, Weasley?” Draco asked. He was pacing the floor behind his desk like a caged animal, nervous and agitated. There was sweat on his brow and his skin was ashen. Astoria was standing with Narcissa, the two blonde women gripping each other for support. Both looked tired and ill, and Rose felt a stab of pity flood her.

“I need to return to my husband.” Narcissa Malfoy’s voice was high and firm, her face drawn and pinched.

Ron nodded. “Of course,” and Narcissa left the room without another word, dismissing Astoria’s offer to accompany her. Ron sighed, rubbing at his face. “I need the girls now.”

Rose, Hugo and Scorpius were asked to leave; the latter protested but Hugo dragged him out. As the first girl, Heidi Krum, passed through into the study, Roxanne hurried up to them, her face distressed, her fiery hair everywhere.

“Rose, this is awful!” Roxanne was wringing her hands, her bottom lip plump from chewing. She looked like she had been crying; she was pale and her freckles were vivid against her skin, her eyes rimmed with red.

“I know, but dad will sort it out,” Rose promised. There was still no sign of Elspeth Avery, and no one knew where she may be. Her family had been contacted; Rose knew Draco had been sending and receiving Owls throughout the morning. Elspeth’s family had alerted the authorities. It was out of character, they said.

Rose found she could not even recall Elspeth’s face.

Ron ordered the girls to come in one at a time. Nobody spoke – the air was thick with tension, fear and suspicion. There were glances cast askew, eyes shifted sideways and unsaid things swirled around them. Rose took a seat as far away from everyone as she could get, yet near enough to still know what was going on. She accio-ed her writing equipment from the dining room where she had left it after breakfast and settled into the chair, one eye on her page and the other, the doors to Draco Malfoy’s study. She chewed her lip a moment, and started to write.

Tragedy has fallen on Malfoy Manor, as this morning, one contestant was found missing and the other injured. Elspeth Avery, twenty-four, last seen at dinner the previous night, is believed to have left the Manor of her own accord, but no one is ruling out foul play. Isobelle Thomas, also twenty-four, was found unconscious in her room, and Medi-Witches confirmed she...

“What are you doing?”

Rose jumped, flipping the pages of her notepad over, feeling immediately guilty. Scorpius was staring at her, his expression a mixture of anger and sorrow, and he gestured impatiently at the items in Rose’s lap. She swallowed, nervous.

“I’m just...in case mum wants me...it is why I am here,” she finished lamely.

“No, you’re here to report on the competition, which is well and truly over now,” Scorpius snapped in a low voice. “My parents don’t need this, Rose. I don’t need this.”

“I wasn’t going to do anything with it until I had spoken to my mother, and your parents,” she said as gently as she could. “I don’t want to cause scandal for your family, Scorpius; believe me.”

He sighed and rubbed at his face, some of the tension fleeing his body. “I know.”

“I will continue to write my stories, just in case,” Rose warned him and he sighed again, giving her a crooked grin.

“I know.”

They smiled at one another hesitantly, almost pleasantly. Rose opened her mouth to tell him not to worry, that everything will be all right, when a shriek from behind the study doors split the morning. Silence fell, dreadful and heavy, and Rose and Scorpius shared a look filled with alarm. Rose climbed to her feet, stashing her notepad and pushing her way to her brother, who was standing with a terrified Roxanne. Scorpius threw open the doors and charged inside; they swung closed behind him and Rose experienced a moment of sharp fear.

“Who’s in there?” she asked her brother and cousin.

“Portia, or Penelope, both I think - I can’t tell them apart,” Roxanne whispered. She clutched Rose’s arm. “Does this mean one of them did it?”

Rose shook her head. “I don’t know; don’t jump to conclusions, alright?”

Theodore Nott arrived within the hour; he looked ready to murder someone, sweeping into the house with an expression of iron. Such was his anger that those milling outside Draco’s study stepped hastily aside as the tall, dark man tossed the doors open without invitation. Clara was hovering behind him, reminding him sternly to be respectful to master, that this was not master’s fault and Mr Nott would do to remember that.

“What’s the meaning of this, Malfoy? I let my girls come here for your silly competition and this is what happens?” he raged. Rose could see him, standing with his hands on his hips. As she watched through the open doors, Portia and Penelope went to their father, and he put an arm around each of them. One of them, Portia, Rose thought, was sobbing.

Draco sighed deeply, glanced up and Rose jumped as his eyes met hers. Guilt spread through her body; she knew she should not be eavesdropping. Real reporters did not hide around corners or linger outside doors. With a small nod of apology, Rose flicked her wand and the heavy doors swung shut.

“Hey!” Hugo protested. Her brother was standing directly behind her; Rose hadn’t even noticed him there, but now, she dug her elbow into his ribs. Gossip spread like wildfire and soon, everyone was convinced they’d heard Portia talking about how much she disliked Isobelle, and how she was certain she would be the next one sent home. Rose sighed, not bothering to tell them to shut up. Roxanne, she noticed, was in the thick of it and Rose felt a spurt of supreme dislike for her cousin. It was unlike her, to be so catty, and Rose could not help but think the competition was to blame. She had never known Roxanne had so many gowns and dresses in her wardrobe, and that she cared so much about her hair and figure that she had started eating smaller meals. Roxanne was changing, and Rose did not like it. Maybe it had already happened; Rose did not spend a huge amount of time with Roxanne, but she knew that this competition, whether to blame or not, was a contributing factor.

Rose suddenly wanted to go home. She was tired of it all; of Scorpius, of the girls, her brother, the tasks, the reporting...the whole thing. It was foolish, and now, someone was hurt. She could hear shouting from the study, and recognised her father’s voice, as well as Draco’s and then Scorpius’. The doors opened and the latter stalked out, fire splashed across his face. People moved hastily out of his way and Rose realised she’d never seen Scorpius in a temper before. He appeared older, more a man than a boy, as he strode down the hall, his shoulders tight and his back straight. She watched him go and bit her lip.

“Shouldn’t you go and talk to him?” Rose asked her brother quietly after a moment.

“I guess,” Hugo answered and Rose sighed.

“You men have no idea how to conduct a friendship, do you? It’s not always about partying and girls, you know. It’s about compassion and support,” Rose fumed, angry for reasons she couldn’t understand.

“Alright,” Hugo sighed, grabbing Rose by the arm. “Come and show me how it’s done, O Master of Friends. That’s probably why you have so many.” He gestured in the direction Scorpius had gone and Rose glared, shook her arm free and walked away. She noticed Lucinda Parker peel from the group and follow. Rose and the dark-haired girl shared a quick look, and they found a pacing, muttering Scorpius in the entrance hall.

“Come on,” Hugo ordered, linking his arm through Scorpius’. Startled at the onslaught, he allowed himself to be manhandled as Rose threw open the front door. Sunlight streamed across their faces and Rose noted suddenly that their little group now numbered five. Heidi had joined them.

“I can’t stand all that,” she said quietly to Rose. “I don’t think either of those girls did it; they’re too sweet.”

“Just because somebody is sweet is doesn’t mean we should under-estimate them,” Lucinda warned, overhearing. She led the way into the garden, the white of her sundress glowing in the deep shade of the trees. “You don’t know what another person is capable of, not really.”

“Anyway,” Heidi said when they were all seated on the grass beneath the trees. Rose had a clear view of the front door of the Manor. She wanted to see her father before he left. “I’m going to ask dad to come and get me. Sorry, Scorpius, but I want to go home.”

Scorpius was not listening. He was sitting with his back against the trunk of a tree, his eyes fixed firmly on his house, his face still set in lines of anger. Rose noticed that Lucinda was sitting as close to him as she could and the hot spurt of emotion that shot through her chest surprised her. Rose forced it away, taking a deep breath.

“I think its best we all go home, considering,” she said quietly.

Scorpius looked at her then, his eyes shadowed, before shifting his gaze to Hugo. “You staying?” he asked.

Hugo nodded seriously. “Sure.”

No one said anything for a long moment. A peacock called in the distance, lonely and forlorn and Rose shifted, crossing her legs in front of her. “Did anyone see Elspeth go?”

“I didn’t, and her room is next to mine,” Heidi answered, twirling a piece of hair around her fingertip contemplatively. “I didn’t hear anything through the night either. Did you, Lucinda?”

“No, not at all,” the other girl answered. “I went to bed early and must have slept like the dead.”

Rose glanced at her quickly and then away again, floored by how smooth the lie was. She opened her mouth to say she was certain it was just a misunderstanding, that maybe Elspeth just needed some time alone, when Scorpius jumped to his feet. Alarmed, Rose followed suit, noticing the other’s get to their feet also. Hugo had his wand out, and Rose hissed at him to put it away.

Theodore Nott stormed from the Manor, his daughters in tow. “You will see us at the Ministry, Weasley, you can be sure of that! My girls will not be saying anything without representation!”

Portia and Penelope, faces red and streaked with tears, were led down the white gravel path; their father had one hand in the small of each of their backs and was all but pushing them away from the Manor. Their trunks floated behind them, almost struggling to keep up. Scorpius sighed, lifted a hand in a wave, which Penelope tried to return without her father’s knowledge. Theodore Nott glanced over and gave Scorpius a look of such intense anger Rose was surprised.

“This isn’t your fault, you know that, right?” she said quietly to Scorpius, who nodded glumly. Rose wanted to squeeze his hand, or pat him on the shoulder like Hugo did, but she didn’t move until her father appeared on the landing and beckoned his children.

“Well, that was messy,” Ron said when the Weasley’s were alone. Ron had led them away from the front door, were Draco was standing with his arms folded. “Theodore is not very happy with the accusation, although I told him it wasn’t really an accusation and that no one was being charged with anything. We’ll clear it all up at the Ministry. There’s Hit Wizards looking for Elspeth as we speak.”

“Dad, should you be telling us this?” Hugo asked. “Isn’t this confidential or something?”

Ron smiled mildly. “In any case, those girls won’t be returning and Malfoy has called the competition off. You should think about going home, both of you, but I would like it if you’d stay until Roxanne leaves.”

“I’m staying longer,” Hugo announced and Ron nodded.

“Yes, I imagined you would be,” he said. “Just stay out of trouble. Merlin knows, the Malfoy’s have enough going on without you getting in their way. Rose, keep an eye on your cousin.”

“Well come on, Weasley; let’s get this over with.” Draco appeared at Ron’s elbow, and Ron jumped.

“...sneak up on a man...typical Malfoy...” he muttered. “I’ll Owl your mother from work and let her know what’s going on,” Ron told his children, before hurrying to catch up to Draco, who had already started walking off to the left of the Manor, where Rose supposed the car was kept. The protective wards that surrounded the Manor prevented direction apparition from within the grounds to the outside world and vice versa.

Inside, Astoria Malfoy was trying to take charge of the remaining girls, who were all still milling about like lost sheep, frightened and scared. Astoria herself looked worried and her voice lacked the conviction it needed; the girls were not listening to her and Rose watched her face as she gave up, throwing her hands in the air and turning and slipping up the stairs. In the end, it was Hugo who suggested they stay together, and why not join him out in the pool area for a drink? Rose was impressed; she had never known her brother to take charge of any situation, and seeing him stand halfway up the great staircase and speak in such a clear, authoritative voice made her oddly proud.

Rose was left standing in the hall, wondering what to do with herself, when she decided on making sure Astoria and Draco had nothing else to worry about. She squared her shoulders and marched to the kitchen, asking the house elves politely if everything was in order for lunch, and then that evening’s meal. Next, she scooped up the mail that had multiplied in the last half an hour, collecting near the fireplace in the drawing room. Breakfast had been cleared away, so she didn’t have to worry about that, but Rose needed something else to do.

Back in the kitchens, she didn’t want to bother the house elves, who were rushing around cooking and chopping and carrying platters of food towards the dining room, so she set about preparing a tray of food for Astoria, and one for Narcissa, who she knew would be with Lucius.

“Merlin, I’m turning into my mother,” Rose muttered, arranging tea-cakes and sandwiches on a plate that fancy Hermione would have called it ‘decadent’, but Rose could find nothing simple. Whenever things were stressed at home, Hermione cleaned, or fed everyone, filling the kitchen with copious amounts of food that no one would eat.

With the two silver trays floating behind her, Rose descended the staircase, realising her next dilemma. She didn’t know exactly where Narcissa would be, and wasn’t sure if the older woman would appreciate being disturbed. Narcissa had barely spoken to anyone since her arrival at the Manor with her husband, but Rose couldn’t blame her. She had more important things to worry about than a bunch of gold-digging witches.

She turned towards Astoria’s chambers instead, deciding to start there.

“What are you doing?” The question came from behind her and slowly, Rose turned. Scorpius was leaning against the wall, watching her with considerable interest.

Rose sighed. “How do you always find me?”

“Maybe you find me.”

“I don’t think it’s the time for games,” she snapped, suddenly weary, and then she sighed. “I’m sorry.”

“So what are you doing?” he asked again, after nodding in acceptance of her measly apology.

“I thought maybe your mother and grandmother might like something to eat.”

“Possibly, but why are you bringing them food? We have staff, you know,” he replied. Rose pursed her lips.

“Because it’s the sort of thing you do when people have had a shock, or when tragic things happen, Scorpius,” she said impatiently, taking a deep breath and forcing herself not to lash out at him. It would do no good at the moment, and besides, it wasn’t his fault he had no manners. He considered her words, his head tipped to one side, the corner of his bottom lip pulled between his teeth. He pushed himself off the wall and moved to take one of the trays out of the air, holding it firmly between his pale, smooth hands.

“What are you doing?”

“I’ll take grandmothers then,” he said, and before Rose could utter a single word, he turned and walked away, the tray between his hands. Rose blinked, shook her head, and continued on her way to Astoria’s rooms. A tiny smile played at the corners of her mouth and she wondered had she just taught him a lesson. It would be nice, to have him act like a human, to be a little more humble, instead of so...Scorpius.

The rest of the day was uneventful. A deep silence had fallen over everyone in the Manor and there was no silly conversation over lunch. The girls spent the rest of the day in their rooms, whispering and talking to one another, doing as Hugo suggested and not being alone.

Rose slept through the warmth of the afternoon, and when she woke, the sense that something dreadful was about to happen had settled in like a disease.




Chapter title from the song, Uprising, by Muse.



Chapter 8: Black Shadow Hanging Over Your Shoulder
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gorgeous chapter image by Elysium

Chapter 8
Black Shadow hanging over your shoulder



Selina Goyle was absent from dinner, and after a thorough search of the Manor and the grounds, Draco could come to no other conclusion than she’d disappeared, like Elspeth had. Rose sat staring at her untouched plate of food – her appetite had vanished, fled away into the darkness of the night around them. No one spoke. There were no words, nothing to say that would change the fact that something very strange was going on, and everyone knew it.

“We may as well enjoy our meal,” Melody said in a loud voice as Draco and his wife left the room. Scorpius gave her a toxic look that she failed to notice; he scowled into his plate before pushing it away. Rose watched Lucinda reach right across Hugo and touch Scorpius on the back of the hand.

“It will be fine,” she said in a voice made of honey. “She probably changed her mind about the contest, that’s all.”

Scorpius slid his hand out from under Lucinda’s. “I’ve known her my whole life. She would tell me if she was leaving.”

Rose looked slowly around the table, noting the faces of those left. Raven Lestrange looked ill and was pushing food methodically around her plate. Her lips were moving quickly, her voice too low for anyone to hear. Melody was smiling, like nothing was wrong. Perhaps, Rose thought, in her strange little world it wasn’t. Roxanne looked miserable, Heidi grave and Lucinda was staring into her wine glass moodily. Rose wondered whether it was the situation or Scorpius’ rebuke that caused her sudden melancholy.

Sighing, Rose shovelled some food into her mouth, knowing she should eat. She had only just swallowed when Roxanne screamed and Scorpius flew to his feet.

Heidi had collapsed face first onto the table, narrowly missing impaling herself with her fork. Her head rested on her plate, food scattered around her and her eyes were closed.

“Oh Merlin,” Rose whispered, her hands trembling. Heidi’s hand, she noticed, was still curled around her wine glass and a horrible thought occurred. Rose stood up. “Don’t touch her,” she warned and everyone froze.

“We should check if she’s breathing,” Scorpius said, moving around the table to Heidi’s side. Rose pushed back her chair, pulled her wand and practically threw Scorpius across the room with the shield charm she cast around Heidi. Roxanne gasped but did not move. Scorpius slowly climbed to his feet, rubbing at his head. “What the hell did you do that for?”

“I think she’s been poisoned,” Rose said. “Look at her skin, Scorpius, the colour of her lips.” Rose let her shield fall and slowly, he looked, sucking in a breath. They had studied the effects of poisoning at Hogwarts: Rose remembered the subject well, because Scorpius had beaten her in their assignment. Heidi’s skin was tinged with green, her lips bloodless. She was breathing though – Rose could see her back lifting gently as her lungs filled with air.

Draco came rushing into the room, Hugo on his heels. Rose hadn’t even noticed her brother leave. “No one is to go anywhere,” Draco ordered, his eyes sweeping the small group. He moved to stand with his son, leaning over to quickly examine Heidi. It seemed he shared Rose’s opinion. “Don’t touch her and don’t touch anything she held, understand?” He went out again, to contact St Mungo’s and, Rose supposed, the Ministry and Heidi’s father, Viktor Krum.

Like Isobelle, Rose and Hugo had known Heidi since they were children. Hugo sat down slowly, looking at his sister in disbelief. Rose shook her head sadly, and they waited for the authorities.

Ministry officials arrived half an hour later and ordered everyone into the drawing room. Rose made sure her notepad and pen were with her before sitting down next to her brother. Scorpius was standing with his parents, to the side of the Ministry hit wizards.

“This has become a magical law enforcement matter,” one of them was saying. Rose sat scribbling in her notepad, glancing up every now and again to register the looks on people’s faces: Draco Malfoy was looking murderous, his wife, grave and Raven was muttering to herself. Lucinda sat chewing her lip and Roxanne had her head in her hands.

They look scared, Rose thought, pausing. Her eyes met Scorpius’ over Roxanne’s head. He gave her a searing look before turning his attention to the ground. He’s scared, too, Rose realised.

“We will have to seal off the Manor until we work out what is going on,” the hit-wizard continued. “Two girls cannot have just vanished.”

Malfoy Manor has been sealed off, until further notice, due to the mysterious events of the previous two days. She wrote. The culprit is as yet unidentified and the Department of Magical Law Enforcement have declared that no one else is to leave until...

“What?” Rose’s head shot up. She glanced back at her page, making sure she had heard correctly. “Did you say we can’t leave?”

“Yes, miss, none of the remaining contestants-”

“But I’m not a contestant,” she interrupted. “I work for The Daily Prophet. I’m here on assignment.”

“Nonetheless,” the hit-wizard said sternly, “everyone here is at this moment a suspect and is forbidden to leave. We do not know if the culprit acted alone, and we want to ensure that no body else gets hurt.”

Rose stood up and cleared her throat. “I have to get this to my mother and-”

“And no correspondence. Nothing goes in and nothing goes out. I will have to confiscate that,” he indicated her note pad, which Rose clutched protectively to her chest. “I’m sorry, miss.”

“Weasley,” Rose said firmly. “Rose Weasley. I believe you know my father? Ronald? And my Uncle Harry, Head of the Auror Department?”

Rose felt the prickle of shame as she declared herself and her family so openly, but these were desperate times. There was no way she was being locked inside Malfoy Manor for an indefinite period. Choosing to be here was one thing, but being made to stay was another.

“I’m Roxanne Weasley,” her cousin piped up. “Uncle Harry will not be happy to hear of this.”

Uncle Harry would tell you to stay where you were and not hinder an investigation, Miss Weasley’s. Now sit down. I’m sorry but you are staying here like everyone else until things get sorted out.”

With a sigh, Rose sat down. Roxanne flopped into her seat, muttering. Rose caught Scorpius’ eye again and quickly looked away. She could not believe she had embarrassed herself in front of him like that, in front of all of them. Hugo snickered.

“Name dropping. Nice,” he whispered. “Pity it didn’t work.”

“Shut up,” Rose snarled, trying to listen to what the hit-wizard was saying. They were informed that there would be a Ministry presence in the Manor until the matter of the disappearances was sorted out. No one was to go anywhere without prior permission and no one was to be alone, if they could avoid it. The Ministry wanted to conduct a thorough search of the property and re-interview everyone, including the staff.

“Stay in your rooms between meals. Your families are being contacted and you will be able to go home soon. We are going to conduct a thorough search of the house and the grounds,” the older of the two hit wizards said firmly. Everyone was then ordered to return to their rooms to wait for the search to begin, and following that, they were not to leave until someone came and collected them for breakfast. Slowly, people stood and filed out. Rose waited until last, following her brother, trying to recall if anyone had looked guilty.

Scorpius caught her arm at the door, pulling her back into the room. “Rose, wait.”

“Don’t speak to me,” Rose said coolly. “If not for your stupid competition this would not be happening.”

He sighed. “I know.”

The silence lengthened between them. Rose could think of nothing to say.

“Can I ask you something?” Scorpius said after a while.

“I suppose,” Rose answered slowly, cautiously. Scorpius had dragged her to the far corner of the grand room and with a sigh, he sat down on one of the ornate chairs. Rose noticed one of the hit wizards lurking by the door, watching them. She sighed and sat down also.

“Why are you still here? You could have gone home yesterday.”

“Journalistic intrigue?”

“Bullshit, Weasley. You’re worried about me.” The cocky grin was back on his face, but this time, it fell short, not reaching his eyes.

“I’m worried yes, but not only about you, Malfoy.”

“I didn’t sleep with her, you know,” Scorpius said abruptly. “Lucinda. She wanted me too, but I…”

“Why are you telling me this?” Rose asked with mild suspicion. Her heart sped up at the news and she told it to be still – it wasn’t important, not now.

He shrugged. “I don’t know.”

“I don’t understand you one bit, you know that, don’t you?” Rose said furiously.

He looked at her then, almost fiercely. “I wish you would.”

“I’m sorry?”

“I need someone to understand…this isn’t who I am,” Scorpius said so lowly he may have whispered it.

“So who are you?” Rose asked.

He was silent for a long time, before he sighed deeply. “I don’t know; I’m the child of...”

She knew what he was going to say, had thought similar things herself often enough through her life. “Oh Scorpius, you can’t continue to live in your father’s shadow,” Rose said with sympathy, cutting across him.

“I know that, but how do I get away from it?” he asked. When she said nothing, he sighed again. “You don’t understand.”

“But I do,” Rose said gently. “I do understand. You’re not the only one who’s had to break the mould.” When he looked at her sceptically, Rose raised her eyebrows. “You do remember who my parents are, don’t you?”

“Yeah, the good guys,” he mumbled.

She frowned. “That’s a bit old, don’t you think? No one is ever only good or bad; and anyway, your father, and your grandparents, they did the right thing in the end.”

“An eleventh hour reprieve,” Scorpius muttered darkly. Rose looked at him, astonished.

“What matters is they renounced Voldemort,” she said firmly. When he said nothing, she sighed quietly and changed the subject. “I hope Heidi recovers soon.”

“I hope whoever did it burns for it.”

Rose bit her lip and said nothing, although she was inclined to agree.

“It’s my fault,” he said with a soft sigh, turning his face away, “that they are hurt.”

“How could it possibly be your fault?”

Scorpius looked at her then; his eyes were red rimmed and bloodshot and his skin paler than usual. “I knew it would happen; I dreamt it, not in complete detail but it was still there, this feeling that something terrible would happen. My head is a mess, Rose. I have no idea what is going on – what is real and what is a dream. Are you real, or am I dreaming right at this moment?”

“Scorpius, what happens in your dreams?” Rose asked very slowly; he looked at her in surprise and she sighed. “Because I have been dreaming too; strange, bizarre things that I am not a part of but that I am helpless to avoid. The weirdest thing is, I somehow recognise these things. I watch them happening; terrible things and I have no idea who is doing them or to whom but all I know is...” she let her voice trail off, not sure she wanted to tell him the rest.

“What?”

“All I know is that I’m trying to warn someone,” Rose continued quietly. She glanced at him; he was watching her with rapt attention. “You, Scorpius: in my dreams I am trying to warn you, but you don’t hear me.”

“What do I do?” he asked hoarsely.

“I don’t know,” Rose answered, her voice a whisper. “I have no idea.”

He hesitated a moment, before grabbing her hand and hauling her to her feet. “Come with me, now.”

“Where are we going?” Rose whispered as they passed the hit wizard, who nodded, watching them closely as they walked quickly down the hall. “Scorpius?”

He spun her around a corner, out of sight, and pulled her close. “Hang on.”

She felt the world lurch, and when she opened her eyes, dizzy, she was clinging to him, and was in a room she had never been in before. Rose stared around her, trying to get her bearings. The room was cast in shadow, the dark creeping into every corner and pocket of air. It was suffocating; the air was thick and heavy, the room too warm and stuffy in the heat of the season. Rose blinked, forcing her eyes to adjust as Scorpius uncurled her fingers from his shirt. The room swam into focus. A bed occupied the main space, and on it, laid the comatose Lucius Malfoy.

“It’s him; Grandfather,” Scorpius whispered, gesturing. Rose bit her lip in sympathy. Lucius looked so peaceful, lying there. A blanket was tucked up around his neck; Rose was sweating from the heat, droplets sliding down the small of her back to pool against her skin, but she supposed Lucius needed to be kept warm. She had heard that about people who were seriously ill. There were potions and tonics on the table beside his bed. His chest was rising and falling gently and occasionally, as they watched, his eyelids would flicker.

“What do you mean?” Rose asked after a while. “That it’s him?”

“He is in my head, somehow,” Scorpius answered huskily. “I’m dreaming his memories, Rose; at least, I think so. Some of what I dream is most definitely his memories, because they are things I know happened for real, but some of it...is vague and frightening. So much of it is full of death and darkness...”

“Is that really possible?” Rose whispered, looking from Scorpius to Lucius, who she realised, looked very similar, more so than Scorpius and his father. She had not had the chance to speak with Scorpius since that night Hugo came to her room; too much had happened in such a short period of time. It felt like months rather than days - time had raced ahead of her and she was struggling to catch up.

Scorpius shrugged. “I don’t know; why not? All things are possible, right? Come on, let’s get out of here.” He reached for her and Rose shook her head.

“I’ll do it: your apparition is terrible. Where to?”

“Anywhere. I don’t care. The moon, if it pleases you,” Scorpius muttered. Rose put her arm around his middle, turned them around and disapparated them to her room. Hugo was waiting; he jumped up from the bed in fright, and then smiled when he saw them with their arms around one another. Rose scowled and he quickly altered his expression to one of concern.

“How did you get in here?”

He shrugged. “My charm and good looks? I told the hit wizard I wanted to check on my sister. He’s stalking around outside by the way, so you’re lucky you apparated in. What’s going on?”

Scorpius shook his head, at a loss for words and Hugo sighed, flopping back onto the bed.

“Did you dream last night?” Rose asked Scorpius quietly, moving away from him to go and stand by the window. The night sky was carpeted in stars and she sighed a little, before turning back to Scorpius and wondering at the strangeness of everything that was happening. He nodded and sank down onto the edge of the bed next to Hugo.

“A little, but it was a good dream, if being a death eater is a good thing,” Scorpius answered. “He was happy, I was happy...we were happy...Merlin, I sound like a nutter.”

“Go on,” Rose prompted, moving to sit on the other side of him.

“We were in a graveyard, watching as Wormtail brought our master back to us,” Scorpius said in a low voice. Rose felt her eyes widen – she knew all the details of that night; Uncle Harry had told James everything and he in turn, had told Rose.

“The dream before that?” Hugo asked.

“The Battle at The Department of Mysteries, and the one before that was Azkaban, and the dementors and the endless cold; before that it was the murder of Charity Burbage, and before that, it was when Bellatrix tortured...” here Scorpius paused, glancing at Rose and then Hugo with worried eyes; she nodded, and he went on. “...Your mother. The very first dream of Lucius’ memories was the battle at Hogwarts, and the death of Voldemort.”

“The first of his?” Hugo repeated slowly.

Scorpius nodded. “I’ve had other dreams, filled with strange, dark things that I just have to witness and cannot stop. It was horrible, when Isobelle did not come down to breakfast, and then when Heidi...” he whispered.

Rose chewed her lip, thinking. He didn’t need to divulge any details about any of the past events in his dreams. They weren’t necessary – Rose knew the history as well as he did. “Are there any Seers in your family?”

“Not that I am aware of,” Scorpius replied, his expression glum and frightened and suddenly, Rose gasped, grabbing his arm.

“It’s reverse chronological order,” she whispered excitedly. “Your dreams are history playing in reverse: Lucius’ history anyway.”

“You’re right,” Scorpius whispered back.

Hugo frowned. “But what could it mean?”

“I read something once, about a wizard who kept a journal of his dreams in the weeks before he died. Later, it was revealed that the events he dreamt were the major events of his life, but in reverse. I have never heard of a situation like this before though,” Rose answered softly. A terrible thought had occurred to her; perhaps Scorpius had the same thought, because his face fell. “I’m sorry, Scorpius,” Rose said lamely.

“I wonder what his last major event will be?” Scorpius muttered, catching on; he had always been, Rose had to admit, rather intelligent beneath the smart arse attitude.

“Maybe it will be his wedding, or when your father was born,” Rose suggested gently.

“Yeah, perhaps,” Scorpius answered. “Listen, I don’t want anyone to know about this.”

“You need to tell your father,” Hugo said firmly, after a moment of deep silence. Scorpius shook his blonde head.

“I can’t. He can’t know about this – he has enough to worry about; grandfather, those missing girls...”

“You’re his son,” Rose breathed. “He would want to know!”

“And what do you think I should say? That I’m being haunted by the ghost of a man not dead yet?” he asked, his voice bitter and frightened. “That somehow, my grandfather is trying to relive his memories through me?”

No one had an answer, and Hugo and Scorpius left soon after, the latter looking like death on a plate. He was paler than Rose had ever seen him, the circles under his eyes so deep they looked like puddles. His lips were bloodless, and he was so tense she thought he would shatter; she had felt that in his body when she clung to him earlier.

Chewing her lip, she crawled into bed, her thoughts screaming.



Chapter title from the song, Evil Walks, by AC/DC


Chapter 9: Cause the Sky is Breaking
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Chapter 9

Cause the sky is breaking



They were informed in the morning that a bottle of poison had been found. Melody Baddock was taken away, pinned between two hit wizards as they marched her out of the house. Her chin was held high and her face shone with a strange triumph that made Rose feel sick. She watched the front doors of the Manor swing closed, her stomach in knots, her notepad and pen totally forgotten for once.

Things had gotten very strange indeed. There was no logical explanation for Melody attempting to kill Heidi. Rose caught a glimpse of Scorpius before he disappeared upstairs again, breakfast ignored, and she remembered the things he had said to her the previous night. She frowned, unable to prevent herself being worried about him.

Rose went in search of her brother, strangely wanting his company. She had seen a different Hugo these last few days in the Manor. He was still his usual layabout self, but underneath that, there was more and she wondered why she had never seen it before: how much he cared for his friend, how he was able to keep a level head and keep smiling, even when things turned sour. His gentle optimism was what she needed.

He wasn’t by the pool, he wasn’t in his room and he wasn’t in the dining room still stuffing his face, as she thought he would be. The Manor was silent in the ominous chill of the mornings events – the Malfoy’s were all absent from view, and the remaining contestants were in their rooms, where Rose knew she ought to be. Sighing, she ducked into a hallway, intent on climbing the staircase and emailing her mother, when she heard her brother’s voice coming from the drawing room.

She didn’t know what it was, but something stopped her from simply strolling into the room; she pressed herself against the wall in the hall, wedged between two portraits of long-dead Malfoy’s, and closed her eyes and listened.

“Don’t you think you’re being a bit too dramatic, Roxie? Rose isn’t like that.”

“No. Maybe, I don’t know. But you’ve seen the way he looks at her and-”

Hugo laughed. “So you’re going to blame Rose for that? It’s hardly her fault, Rox, and anyway, I don’t think she’s noticed and come on, you know how she feels about Scorpius.”

Roxanne muttered something to low for Rose to hear, and then sighed. “If he likes her no one else has a chance.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because,” she retorted. “She’s Rose. It’s not like she’s pretty or anything, and she certainly isn’t right for Scorpius – she’s too uptight - but if she decides she likes him too then she’ll...”

“She’s not Dominique,” Hugo said harshly after a pause.

“I know!” Roxanne said passionately. “But...”

“Don’t you think you should be having this conversation with Scorpius?” Hugo cut in. “Or maybe you should just ask Rose instead of bitching about her to her brother. I don’t need to hear all this about my sister when she’s done absolutely nothing wrong.”

Rose was startled near to tears at the tone in Hugo’s voice. Never, with the exception of breakfast and Scorpius the other morning, had he defended her like that.

“Why should I talk to her? If she does like him, she’ll just lie to me. I think she’s lying to herself, Hugo. I think she does like him – why else would she be here?”

“That’s a lot of ‘I thinks’ and she’s here to work,” Hugo replied, his voice icy.

“But...”

“I’m not hearing this anymore, Roxanne. There are more important things going on, in case you’d forgotten.” Hugo walked towards the door, his feet angry and a Rose panicked when she heard Roxanne follow him, muttering to herself. She bit her lip, ducking quickly around the nearest corner and flattening herself against the wall, holding her breath as Roxanne and Hugo passed by. With a jolt, she noticed Scorpius across the hall, leaning casually against the wall, not fearing being caught eavesdropping. Before she could move away, he was there, his arms like a cage around her.

“I don’t like being pinned to walls,” Rose said stonily.

He smiled. “Could have fooled me.”

“Are you stalking me?”

“Now why would I do that?”

“Scorpius, what do you want?”

The smile fell and he sighed, his breath fanning her face. “I don’t know.”

“Roxanne...” Rose began but he laughed bitterly.

“Roxanne doesn’t want me,” he said softly. “I don’t know what she wants, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t me.” He paused, rubbing at his face. He was so close Rose could see the tiny hairs that littered his chin and jaw, could hear the sound they made as he dragged his hand over them. “When we were together, I felt like an accessory, an addition to her outfit or something.”

“So Scorpius Malfoy doesn’t like being objectified,” Rose said rather tartly. His eyes flashed.

“I have never treated women as objects, Rose,” he said in a low, hard voice. “It’s not my fault I...attract them, but it’s not me they are after half the time. I asked a girl once would she rather be dating my father, because then she’d have direct access to his money. That relationship didn’t last, like the one before it, and the one before that.”

Rose swallowed, unsure of what to say, and Scorpius smiled sadly.

“So was there any truth to what she was saying? Roxanne?”

“No,” Rose said quickly, watching as his face collapsed a tiny bit. She sighed, fidgeting, shifting her weight from one foot to the other. “I didn’t come here with any intention other than to do my job,” she explained. “But now...”

“Now?”

She sighed. “I don’t know, Scorpius. She’s my cousin, my family, regardless of what she thinks of me.”

“What are you saying?” His voice was almost a whisper, intense and filled with power, with command and she took a deep breath, compelled to tell him the truth.

“You’re not so bad,” she breathed. “When you’re acting like a human being, you’re alright.”

“Just alright?”

“Can’t you be happy with that? I don’t think you’re a complete prat anymore,” Rose said, her voice scratchy. She wanted to say so much more to him but she held her tongue, worried about the things Roxanne had been saying and worried he was just playing her, again.

Scorpius smiled a slow, lazy smile. “I guess I’ll have to be happy with that, for now.” He swooped down and kissed her on the mouth before he walked away, leaving her burning and melting into the wall. Rose touched trembling fingers to her lips, her heart thudding painfully, her blood boiling. She didn’t know how he did it, or what it was about him, but whenever he was that close to her...Rose shook her head. It was just physical, she told herself, nothing more; just nature, biology, hormones, latent brain activity...

She sighed, knowing it was a lie. Roxanne was right – she liked him, and she had no idea what to do about it.

Rose went out to the pool, hoping for some quiet and a space to think, but Roxanne and Lucinda were there, watched over by a hit wizard, so she ducked out before either could notice her. Lucinda was nice enough but she dreaded being anywhere where Roxanne could ask her questions. Rose remembered Clara’s little courtyard so she went and found the little elf, busy ordering her staff around the cave of a kitchen, and asked politely if she could sit out there a while.

Clara narrowed her beady eyes, looked Rose up and down and told her it was alright with her but if anyone came looking for her, she would tell them exactly where she was because she was not supposed to be alone and, “Clara does not approve of hiding.”

Rose was taken aback. “I’m not trying to hide,” she replied but Clara ignored her, turning back to supervise dinner preparations. Outside, the sun kissed the little courtyard gently, forcing Rose to recall the way Scorpius had pressed his lips against hers moments ago. It had not been a passionate kiss by any means but it was more than the sort of kiss you’d give a friend.

Chewing her lip, Rose sat down, folding her legs beneath her. When had it changed? When had she begun to consider him more than a nuisance, an annoying something she had put up with for as long as she could remember? She didn’t know exactly. Perhaps it had been several nights ago, when she found him with Lucinda. Rose recalled the sharp burn of anger she had felt and had to admit it – she had been jealous, fiercely so, and when he had held himself against her in the hall, she had wanted to let him fold her in his arms, to give in to the strange whirl of emotion that had engulfed her.

Or, Rose thought, perhaps it had been more recent than that. She remembered what he had looked like, striding in anger from his father’s study, his expression powerful and strong, his back so straight and proud, such a different picture to the one he usually choose to portray. Perhaps it was the dreams; the way everything arrogant and egotistical was stripped away from him as he allowed himself to appear vulnerable: to be human.

“Too many perhaps’,” Rose mumbled, picking up a stray leaf and shredding it between her fingers. She forced her thoughts away from Scorpius and to the terrible event of the previous day, but, having no answers for that scenario either, Rose sighed. She could feel her mind drifting inexorably to Roxanne when Clara popped her head out.

“Miss, your mother is here. You must come with Clara.”

“My mother?” Rose muttered, climbing to her feet. Clara nodded, and Rose followed her back through the kitchen and into the entrance hall. Hugo was already there, looking puzzled, and Rose thought her mother seemed tense. Before she could speak, Scorpius came down the stairs.

After greeting Hermione, he informed them his father was waiting in his study. Confused, Rose followed, wondering what this was all about. Scorpius pushed open the heavy doors and the memory of every time those doors had opened since she had been in the Manor flooded her mind, leaving her oddly shaken.

“Granger. I was wondering when you’d show up,” Draco intoned. He was leaning against his desk, but for all his casual appearance Rose could see the worry in his eyes. “How’s life as a media mogul?”

“Fine, thank you and like I told you before,” Hermione sighed, “it’s Weasley, now.”

“Whatever. Maybe we should have started calling you that back in third year,” Draco said with no hint of humour.

“This is not a time to joke,” Hermione said firmly. “I want to take my children home.”

“No one is allowed to-”

“I know,” Hermione said tightly. “But an exception has been made.”

“Now who has friends in high places,” Draco muttered, rolling his eyes. He turned to Rose and her sibling, who had both sprung out of their seats at their mother’s suggestion. Rose was stiff with annoyance.

“I’m staying,” she said quietly.

“Me too,” Hugo agreed.

“No.” Hermione shook her head. “We have no idea what we’re dealing with.”

“I don’t care,” Hugo said defiantly. “Scorpius needs me to stay. I’m his friend, mum; I can’t abandon him.”

Rose looked at her brother; that was probably the most mature thing he had ever said, and a quick glance at her mother told her Hermione though the same thing.

“Rose?”

Rose cleared her throat, sneaking a glance at Scorpius. “I want to finish my job.”

“Honey, the competition is over,” Hermione said gently.

“But there is still a story here, a big one,” Rose argued. “You always taught us not to back out of things, to see things through,” she added desperately.

Hermione threw her hands in the air. “Yes, but not when your lives could be at risk!”

“They will be completely safe; I will make sure of it,” Draco said firmly and with authority. “I can have a hit-wizard with them at all time.”

Both Rose and Hugo shook their heads.

“I need to tell you something,” Scorpius said suddenly, cutting across whatever Hermione was going to say. “Maybe I should have told you earlier, Dad, but I was...frightened. Grandfather is dreaming, and I am somehow stuck in his dreams. That’s why Rose and Hugo don’t want to go home – they’ve been helping me try and figure this out.”

Draco paled. “What did you say?”

Rose took a deep breath. “It seems that Lucius, in his coma, is dreaming, or his memories are leaking or something, and those memories are affecting Scorpius.”

“How long?” Draco asked, his voice low.

“Since grandfather was brought home,” Scorpius said quietly. Hermione was frowning, chewing her lip.

“It is possible, Draco,” she said before anyone else could speak. “We know that stored memories can be captured and contained in a pensieve, and with none available, maybe Lucius is releasing them anyway he can.”

“I know all that, Granger,” Draco snapped, his eyes on his son. “Just what are you dreaming?”

Slowly, keeping his voice steady, Scorpius re-told the story he had shared with Rose and Hugo. Hermione gasped, her hand flying to her mouth and she began to fidget, a sure sign she was worried.

Draco shook his head. “That doesn’t prove anything,” he said roughly.

“You don’t believe me?” Scorpius asked incredulously.

“That information could have come from anywhere; it’s public knowledge, printed in books. You’ve probably just read too much,” Draco said firmly, but Rose thought his voice shook. Scorpius shook his head, his expression cold and angry.

“Ask me anything, any detail, about any of those events,” he said, his voice low and deadly. “I know everything; each scene is hyper-real, every word is clear as crystal, every noise like wandfire. Go on, Dad, ask me!”

Draco was silent, and it was Hermione who spoke. “Alright, Scorpius. When Harry, Ron and I were captured and taken here to the Manor, during the war, what did Bellatrix Lestrange say to me when she accused me of stealing from her Gringotts vault? Her exact words, Scorpius. What were they?”

He took a deep breath, his face sickly. “She said, ‘You're a lying, filthy Mudblood, and I know it! You have been inside my vault at Gringotts! Tell the truth, tell the truth! What else did you take? What else have you got? Tell me the truth or, I swear, I shall run you through with this knife! What else...’.”

Hermione held up her hand, and Rose noticed her fingers were trembling. She turned to Draco, who had paled further. “No one else could know that; those words are seared into my memory forever, Draco. Not even you, who was there, would remember that moment as exactly as me. He’s telling the truth,” she added, motioning towards Scorpius.

No one spoke for a long time until Draco sighed, sinking into his chair and putting his head in his hands. “This is my fault.”

“Why do you blame yourself?” Hermione asked. “You have nothing to do with this.”

“Of course I do,” Draco snapped. “I brought...”

“He’s your father,” Hermione said gently. “You did nothing wrong; who’s to say the proximity had anything to do with it anyway. Maybe this would have happened had Lucius remained in St Mungoes.” Hermione sighed and rubbed at her face. “There is something else you need to know, Draco.”

“Please, enlighten me. What malady has befallen me now?”

“Someone has graffitied some shop fronts in Diagon Alley, and in Muggle London, Hogsmeade too,” Hermione said slowly, her eyes swinging around to every person in the room.

“And why is that my problem?” Draco said.

“I’m not sure if it is your problem, but I thought you might be interested to know that whoever is doing this is painting images and slogans,” Hermione paused and swallowed, “of Voldemort.”

“Woah, what?” Hugo said.

“When?” Rose and Scorpius asked as one.

“They appeared last night. The Ministry is dealing with it, but they have no idea who could be responsible,” Hermione said quietly. “Everyone is of course in a complete panic. I have been fielding Owls all day, and it is no different at the Ministry. It doesn’t take long for bad news to spread.”

No body spoke, so Hermione went on, addressing the silence. “Fingers have been pointed, Draco. Your name has been mentioned, as have the names of all those known to have associated with Death Eaters. I thought you might want to know, before the Ministry come knocking on your door.”

“I guess I better roll out the red carpet then,” Draco muttered murderously, his face like thunder.

“I’m sorry,” Hermione said lamely, “but you know how people are.”

“Please don’t make excuses for them,” Scorpius said tightly, his eyes on his father. “We know what some people still think; it wasn’t like I got through school without hearing the occasional whisper.”

Rose blinked, remembering one instance in third year when Scorpius had allegedly punched another boy for spreading a rumour about his grandfather. She had never given the incident another thought, until now.

“So what’s the connection?” Hugo asked. “Scorpius, Lucius, the missing girls, the paintings...”

Hermione took a deep breath, shaking her head a little. “I don’t believe in coincidences, Draco, and I’m pretty sure you don’t either. All the things that have happened here have occurred since Lucius was brought home.”

“But how on earth could my father’s memories be connected to what is going on 100 miles away?”

“I don’t know,” Hermione sighed. “Given Lucius’ history with Voldemort...I can’t explain it, Draco. The Ministry are looking into it.”

“How helpful,” Draco said wearily, reaching up to rub at his temples. “So what do we do about my son, O mighty Gryffindor? Are you going to save us once again?”

Hermione smiled wryly. “We talk to Harry and my husband,” she said; Draco groaned. “We get the Healers to examine your father again, see what they can do about this...leakage. There might be a potion that could help make Scorpius less susceptible to the dreams. I will talk to anyone who might know anything about this.”

“That’s cryptic,” Draco said.

Hemione ignored him. “And as for you three - Scorpius, try and get some sleep, you look like death. Rose, Hugo, please, stay out of trouble.”

Draco sighed, telling her to do whatever, that all he cared about at the moment was making sure his family were safe. At that, he went out, taking Scorpius with him and leaving Rose and Hugo with their mother.

“I guess you are both adults and I can’t make you do anything,” Hermione began softly, “But I really wish you’d both reconsider this. Hugo, you I understand. Scorpius is your friend and you are loyal to him but Rose-”

“I’m staying,” Rose said firmly and her mother opened her mouth to argue. “You can’t really lecture us, mum. We know what you did, during the War. We know how much danger you were in, you and dad and everyone, and yet, you still fought.”

“That was different.”

“Not really,” Hugo said softly. “Uncle Harry needed you, and so you were there. Scorpius needs us, and so we’re going to help him.”

Hermione gave her children a long, intense look, which they both returned equally. Eventually, a small sigh escaped her lips. “Owl, text or email everyday, you understand?” she ordered. “And for the love of Merlin, do not put yourselves in any danger.”

“We won’t,” Hugo promised quickly; Hermione pursed her lips, but she nodded.

“Uncle George is coming to collect Roxanne in the morning,” Hermione said softly. “How has she been?”

Hugo laughed. “She’s a nutter; more like Aunty Audrey every day. She really shouldn’t have gone on that holiday with them.”

“That’s a horrible thing to say, Hugo,” Hermione admonished, but Rose thought she could see a small smile playing on her lips. Everyone knew Audrey and Hermione did not see eye to eye. “Rose, have you been documenting everything that’s happened here?”

Rose nodded. “Everything I can think of. You’re not going to publish it, are you?”

“No but I would like to see what you have written; there may be something in there that will help, something you may not have noticed. Can you keep working?” Hermione asked gently, and Rose nodded again. “Good. Send your notes through tonight. Now, I should get back to the office, to see if -”

Rose felt the hair on the back of her neck stand up before she even heard the scream. In an instant, she was racing out the door, her mother and brother behind her. In the hall, they paused. The screams were louder now, and Rose had never heard a more terrifying sound. Without stopping to think, she raced towards the dining room, ignoring her mother’s voice, her wand out and ready.

She watched Draco pass through the doors before her, his face ashen, his eyes wild. Rose skidded to a halt just inside the doors, Hermione and Hugo coming up behind her; Hugo wrapped his hand around her upper arm, a restraining, protective gesture that made her heart swell for a quick moment.

She wasn’t sure what she was looking at to begin with, until her mother gasped. There, hovering above the dining table, bloated and filling the room, was the Dark Mark.

Rose stared at it with horrified fascination; at the green skull and the serpent that slowly wound its way through the gaping mouth. Hermione pushed her aside, moving into the room and Rose noted that the screams had turned into a low keening, an eerie sound that made her shiver. Her eyes swung left and right, searching for the source of that sound.

On the ground near the fireplace, cowering in her grandson’s arms, was Narcissa Malfoy. Astoria stood beside them, her wand gripped tightly, her expression fierce. Draco, his face tinged with green from the Mark, took out his wand but no amount of spellwork would banish it – it sat proudly above them, its face taunting, mocking them.

“I never thought...not in this house...not again,” Narcissa was muttering.

There was sound in the hall and Rose instinctively spelled the doors closed, locking them tight. Her mother, Astoria and Draco were like statues, their eyes moving between each other and the Mark. The only sound was Narcissa’s quiet sobs, and Scorpius’ murmured words of comfort.

“Who could have done this?”

“I don’t bloody know, Weasley,” Draco snarled. “That spell was known only to Death Eaters. Even I can’t cast it.”

“Right,” Hermione breathed. “I’m contacting the Ministry. This is more serious than we thought, Draco, whatever it is that is going on around here.” Hermione’s otter flew from her wand and disappeared through the wall; no one moved for what felt like an eternity, when what Rose recognised as her Uncle Harry’s stag patronus came charging into the room.

Rose held her breath, waiting, as the stag opened its mouth and spoke with her uncle’s voice. “Stay at the Manor. Don’t let anyone in the room. I will be there as soon as I can.”

Draco moved to the fireplace, leaning down and speaking softly to his mother after checking his wife and son were alright. Slowly, Narcissa let herself be lifted to her feet, her pale, thin face streaked with worry. “I’m taking her upstairs. Potter can talk to her later.”

Hermione nodded compassionately. “I’ll deal with the girls out there.”

With a shaking hand, Rose undid her spell and Hermione slipped out, ordering everyone away. Such was the authority in her tone nobody argued, although Rose could hear whispering. After they had moved away, Draco led his mother out, his arm around her slim shoulders protectively, Astoria following. She paused at the door.

“Scorpius?”

He shook his head. “Look after grandmother.”

“But, darling...”

“I’m fine, mother, really,” Scorpius answered firmly. Astoria nodded, her face worried, and the door closed behind her with a soft click.

“Bloody hell,” Hugo whispered, still staring at the Mark. “Could you imagine seeing this thing all the time? It freaks me out.”

Rose ignored him, her eyes finding Scorpius, who was standing near the fireplace, clinging to the mantle for support. He looked at her, his expression haunted and scared, and not caring about her brother bearing witness, she hurried across the room and flung her arms around him. He stiffened, and then collapsed against her, burying his face in the curve of her neck, his fingers digging into her back.

They stood like that until Hugo said, “I think the Auror’s are here.”

Scorpius pulled away, his eyes glassy, his skin pale. Rose’s neck burnt where his face had been pressed against it and she reached up to rub at the spot absent mindedly. Hugo opened the door a crack, calling that the coast was clear.

“Thank you,” Scorpius whispered. His hands lifted, fluttered to her face and fell to his sides again.

“Come on,” Rose said softly.

Out in the hall, Hermione was waiting. “Scorpius, the Aurors need your father. Rose, Hugo, I’m going to the Ministry. I wish you’d reconsider...”

“No.” It was Rose who spoke and her voice was harsher than she intended it. “No, mum, we’re fine. Tell dad we’re fine.”

Hermione sighed, kissed her children and asked Scorpius where the nearest floo was. Once she was gone down the hall, her still-untameable hair flying behind her, Scorpius rubbed at his face wearily. Minutes passed, and he began pulling at his hair. Rose reached up and gently moved his hands, placing them back by his sides.

“Where’s my father?” Scorpius asked in a harassed voice. “Surely he knows they’re here.”

Rose peered around his shoulder, noticing her Uncle Harry, in full Ministry dress, and two others. She frowned, wondering why three Auror’s felt it necessary to come to the Manor. They were talking amongst themselves, all three with frowns and dark looks. Harry gestured towards the dining room, and the other two Auror’s made their way towards it, crossing the hall. Their eyes slid sideways to where Rose, Hugo and Scorpius stood and Rose was certain there was accusation in their glances. She bristled, folding her arms, thinking how ridiculous prejudice was, especially old prejudice. For the first time, she truly considered what it would be like to be a Malfoy, or a member of any family who had sat on the other side of the fence.

“Scorpius,” Harry called.

“Time to suit up, Malfoy,” Hugo whispered; Scorpius gave him a blank look. “Your dad isn’t here right now: this is up to you.”

“Just tell him what you know,” Rose said in encouragement. “Tell him what you saw. We can back you up, if Uncle Harry needs it. I’m sure your dad will be here soon; he’s probably with your grandmother.”

Scorpius nodded and squared his shoulders. He took a deep breath and slowly, his expression switched from panic to an authoritative calm, and he turned his attention to Harry. His back was straight and he held himself proudly as he crossed the floor. Dressed head to toe in black and radiating strength, he could have passed for his father. Rose watched as Scorpius shook her uncle’s hand, and gestured towards Draco’s study. At the door, he paused, allowing Harry to pass into the room first, before he turned to look at Rose and Hugo over his shoulder. Rose wanted to go with him, to support him and make sure he was okay; she felt her feet moving, and he must have seen because he shook his head slightly, and held up a hand to stop her.

Scorpius went inside and closed the doors behind him, and only then did Rose remember he had kissed her.



Chapter title from the song, The Sky is Broken, by Moby.
Thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed this so far! I really appreciate it!

Chapter 10: Meet Me in the Middle of the Air
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Chapter 10
Meet me in the middle of the air



Draco, Scorpius and Astoria were absent from dinner. There was only Roxanne, Raven and Lucinda remaining, and they knew Rose and Hugo had been involved in whatever had taken place earlier that day. Rose was worried about Raven – the girl was pale, her skin and eyes listless and she was continually murmuring to herself. It was odd, and Rose hoped it was nothing more than stress. Lucinda was as poised as always, her face serene, but her eyes were worried.

Roxanne seemed completely unaffected by everything. She continually pressed for information until Rose stood up and pushed her plate across the table, loosing her temper.

“You’re like a bloody vulture,” she snapped at her cousin. “Dreadful things have happened and all you care about is whether Scorpius likes you? Come on, Roxanne, this is serious – it isn’t a game. It’s not about you and what you want any more.”

Roxanne folded her arms. “So who is it about then, Rose? Is it about you?”

Rose felt her mouth fall open. “What are you talking about?”

“Why are you still here?” her cousin asked rather venomously. “I’m sure your little job is over. Why don’t you go home?”

“Why don’t you?” Hugo bristled. “All of you. The contest is over, finished; none of you get to be his blushing bride so deal with it and leave.”

Roxanne’s scowled. “Grow a spine, Hugo – you’ve spent half your life in your sister’s shadow and now you’re going to defend her? It doesn’t change the fact that she,” Roxanne pointed at Rose, “lied to me!”

“When did I ever lie?”

Lucinda and Raven, recognising this was a family matter, stood up to leave, and Roxanne rounded on them. “This concerns you too,” she said passionately.

“Actually,” Raven said quietly; it was only the second time Rose had heard her speak on her own and not as part of the mob and she was surprised by how deep and melodic her voice was. “I’ve asked my mother to come and collect me, tomorrow. Hugo is right – the contest is over. I’m going home. This has gotten too scary.”

“No,” Roxanne began desperately, wanting back-up.

“If your name was something other than Weasley, like Lestrange, you’d probably think it was frightening, Roxanne. I know things I shouldn’t, have been told things a child should not know.”

The wind went out of Roxanne’s sails as Lucinda nodded in agreement. “I’m leaving too – tomorrow, or as soon as I can. I’m waiting for my mother to contact me. Sorry, Roxanne, but I know when to bow out,” she added, her eyes seeking Rose across the table. Rose felt her mouth go dry as Lucinda gave her a tiny, knowing smile. She turned and followed Raven, closing the door behind her.

“So that just leaves poor pathetic you,” Hugo smiled, lifting his glass in a mockery of a toast to his cousin. Roxanne pursed her lips, strode across the floor and slapped Hugo with such force the sound echoed through the room and he fell off his chair. Rose pulled her wand, sticking it in her cousin’s furious face. They glared at one another over the narrow stick of wood.

“Go on then,” Roxanne muttered mutionously. “That will leave no one in your way.”

“What is wrong with you?” Rose asked in a low voice. “If you like him as much as you say you do, why don’t you do something real about it? Something honest? But I don’t think you do like him, Roxanne, and he knows you don’t want him for the right reasons.”

Roxanne curled her lip. “Oh how sweet; he’s poured his heart out. Was that pillow talk then, Rose? I’m surprised you let him touch you, considering how uptight you are.”

“It isn’t like that!”

Her cousin laughed, tossing her head. “Did he tell you he slept with me? Yes, that was one aspect of our relationship that did work. Does it annoy you to know that I had him first?”

“I don’t know you anymore,” Rose whispered in disbelief. Her wand hand faltered, and slowly, she let it drop. “What happened to you? You used to be nice, Roxanne. A pleasant person and now...I don’t know if it’s the contest or the things that have happened but...”

“You’re a right royal bitch,” Hugo put in, rubbing at his face. “And I happen to know he didn’t sleep with you, so quit lying about it. Your relationship with Scorpius is over, and you’ve got no one to blame for that but yourself because if I remember correctly, you dumped him. Anyway, if you wanted a boy-toy you should have picked someone a little younger – I think Lorcan is still single.”

Roxanne huffed, turned on her heel and strode from the room, slamming the doors on her way out. Rose sighed, sliding her wand away and sitting down. Hugo mirrored her action, conjuring a fresh glass of firewhiskey for her and one for himself. “Cheers,” he said, raising the glass and with a wry smile, Rose followed suit, still worried about Roxanne. It was unlike her cousin to behave so nastily.

“Thank you,” she told her brother quietly. Hugo only smiled and shrugged.

She did not see Scorpius before she went to bed. She had wanted to ask him about the interview, about how his father was, his grandmother and his mother. She wanted to know why he had kissed her. She wanted to ask how he was and she lingered downstairs for a while, spending some time sitting by the pool, her wand clutched tightly just in case, but he did not appear. Her only company was the hit wizard who lurked by the door to the house, watching her. Sighing, Rose took herself off to bed, falling into a fitful sleep.

When someone shook her awake, the images floating through her head were so vivid, the dream so real that she was sweating with fear, her stomach clenched and her throat tight. She wanted to scream, but nothing came out but a strangled sound.

“Woah, Rose,” Hugo whispered as she clung to him, gasping, clawing at his arm.

“Where’s Scorpius?” she whispered back. “Where is he?”

“Here.” Scorpius was standing by the window, his silhouette just visible in the tiny slice of light sneaking through the curtain. His voice was puzzled, low and husky and Rose swallowed, her heart still pounding furiously. “We’re going spying; thought you might like to come.”

“Spying?”

“Get dressed,” Hugo ordered. He and Scorpius slipped into the hall to wait while Rose clambered out and found some clothes, not knowing what she was throwing on in the darkness. All she could think of was the horrible dream she had been in when Hugo woke her, the terrible sense of doom and the festering, foreboding darkness that filled her mind. It had been another dream of Scorpius and this one was clear as day. Rose pushed it aside, flinging open the door, finding the boys in the hall outside. She would think about it later.

“Nice shirt,” Hugo winked. Rose looked down at herself, realising her t-shirt was inside out and back to front.

“Nice face,” she hissed at her brother. “What are we doing exactly?”

“We’re raiding dad’s study,” Scorpius said quietly. “There are things I want to know, like what the hell is going on with my head and how to fix it. There are that many books and scrolls and piles of parchment that surely there must be something in there that would help.”

The Manor was as still and quiet as a grave as they crept along the hall and down the stairs, encountering no hit wizards on the way. Scorpius eased the great wooden doors of the study open, avoiding the usual creak and groan, and it had Rose wondering if he’d done this sort of thing before. Hugo started whispering about some spy movie he and Scorpius had seen.

“Shut the door 007’s,” Rose smiled, taking out her wand and muttering a quick ‘lumos’. The room filled with soft, dim light.

“You can be Moneypenny, Rose,” Hugo said.

“Or the intelligent and beautiful but totally out-of-luck woman who gets herself in a dangerous situation,” Scorpius rejoined. “Then we can rescue you. You’ve got the bikini for the role.”

“I’d rather not think about that,” Hugo whispered.

“I’ll be Bond then,” Scorpius said. “You can be Q.”

“Why can’t I be M? I’m obviously the one in control of this operation,” Rose said quietly, moving to the bookshelves closest to the grand mahogany desk. She heard Scorpius mutter an ‘I don’t think so,’ and smirked. She scanned the titles she could easily see; nothing. Glancing up, Rose saw the shelves disappearing into the darkness. Ever one to do things the hard way, and not wanting to use too much magic lest they were caught, she dragged a chair over and climbed up, attempting to reach the books on the top shelf.

“I doubt you’ll find anything up there; those books belong to mother,” Scorpius mused, startling her. Rose lost her balance, falling sideways into nothingness. She bit down on her scream, braced herself, and the floor when she landed was not as hard as it should have been. It took her a moment to realise she was lying face down on top of Scorpius, who groaned as she shifted her weight.

“I’m sorry,” Rose gasped, attempting to sit up. His arms went around her suddenly, holding her immobile and against her better judgement, she felt her limbs relax.

“This is such a terrible cliché, don’t you think? If you wanted to get me on my back, Weasley, all you had to do was ask,” he said in a low, deep voice. Rose did not like how close their faces were and she did not like being pressed against him, not like this. He raised his eyebrows suggestively and she hit him.

“Why does everything that comes out of your mouth have to be so bloody sexual?”

“I can’t help it if you’ve got a dirty mind.” In the semi-darkness, she watched as his eyes darkened and his lips curled into a smile.

“Scorpius, let me go.” Rose struggled and he gripped her hips so tightly she was certain he’d leave bruises.

“This is rather nice,” he whispered, lifting his head a little, bringing their faces even closer together. Rose closed her eyes. “You know, I have a bed that is much more comfortable than the floor.”

Rose’s eyes snapped open; his mouth was centimetres from hers and she watched, something turning over deep in her stomach, as he licked his lips. She broke out of his arms with more strength than she knew she had, scrambling away from him until her back hit the bookshelf.

“You’re a pig, Scorpius,” she whispered, only because she didn’t know what else to say.

“The body wants what the body wants,” he drawled, sitting up and facing her with burning eyes. “I can’t help it if it wants you.”

“That’s such a typically male thing to say,” Rose growled, climbing to her feet. “I’m out of here,” she announced loudly, heading for the door. Let Draco catch his son, her brother too; let him curse them to Hell where they both belonged. Hugo caught her before she could throw the doors open, dramatically, like she had planned. She fought him, but he was too strong and he dragged her back into the centre of the room, where she huffed and folded her arms.

“I’m telling Draco,” she threatened under her breath. “And mum and dad.”

“Rose, Rose, Rose, please, don’t. We need you,” Hugo begged. “Scorpius, mate, tell her we need her.”

Scorpius was now leaning against his father’s desk; he caught her eye across the room, his expression hot and intense. Shadows coated his face, interspersed with the light from the wand Rose had left lying on the desk. It gave him a sinister appearance, that was, at the same time, intriguing and mysterious. Her muscles clenched.

“I need you,” he said quietly. His words reached over the space between them and slapped Rose in the face, making her tremble. She bit her lip, looked away from him and curled her fists.

I hate him, she told herself, loathe him, and think he’s irritating, arrogant, ridiculous, gorgeous...She took a deep breath and sighed, knowing it was too late to deny it. “Fine; but only because I know you two don’t have half a brain to share.”

She made sure she stayed away from him, as far as the dark room would allow. Twenty minutes later, Hugo called her to the desk where Scorpius was sitting, a piece of parchment between his long fingers. He looked up and wordlessly passed it to her. Rose read it quickly, frowning.

“It’s a list...”

“Of Lucius’ Dark objects, things the Ministry was supposed to take and things dad was supposed to hand over,” Scorpius said bitterly. “I found it under the rug, magicked to the floor.”

“Maybe he just forgot,” Hugo suggested. “Does it say where they are?”

Rose looked at her brother sharply. “Why? You aren’t thinking we should find this stuff, Hugo?”

He shrugged. “Why not? There might be some clues...listen,” he said quickly at Rose’s sceptical look. “We saw Dark Magic today, someone has been injured, people are missing, Scorpius is dreaming the past and future combined and...”

“You’re dreaming too,” Scorpius said, looking at Rose.

“What?” Hugo asked in disbelief. “Rose?”

She sighed, and told her brother the same thing she had told Scorpius. The dream she had experienced before Hugo came to wake her still swirled through her head but she said nothing of it, needing to think about it some more before putting voice to the darkness.

“This is nuts,” Hugo whispered at last. “You should have told mum.”

“She’d have made me go home,” Rose whispered back, “or forced me to go to St Mungo’s.”

“Ssssh,” Scorpius put a finger to his lips, listening. Rose held her breath, ears straining and sure enough, in the hall outside there were footsteps. “Damn, it’s my father,” Scorpius whispered. Rose extinguished her wand, heart thundering. “Get out of here; my room. I’ll bring the...stuff,” he added. Before Rose could say anything, Hugo grabbed her and spun them around and moments later, they were standing in the middle of Scorpius’ bedroom.

Scorpius apparated in half an hour later, looking frazzled. In his hands, he held an ornate wooden box. “I told dad I was looking for a book to read,” he smiled. “I don’t think he brought it, but he left me alone; he’s distracted, and worried...here,” he set the box down on the floor.

“Where was it?”

“Under the drawing room floor – there’s a secret compartment,” he explained. “Dad thinks I don’t know about it, but I found it one day while I was messing about. Clara caught me so I didn’t get a chance to see what was in there. Now I know, I guess.”

Hugo dropped to the floor beside Scorpius, but Rose remained standing. There was something about that box that screamed danger and she didn’t want to go near it. Before she could warn anyone else, Scorpius had used his wand to break the lock and lifted the lid. From where she was standing, Rose could see nothing except the backs of the boy’s heads. Scorpius sat back on his heels.

“Huh.” He slid a hand in and Rose jumped.

“Don’t,” she said quickly. “It could be cursed, or something.”

Scorpius ignored her; Rose strode forward and pulled on his arm, kicking the box out of reach at the same time. Hugo protested but she glared at him, turning her attention to Scorpius. His expression was glazed, his lips slightly parted. She shook him and he blinled. “What the...”

“Dark magic,” Rose reminded him. “Those objects...can’t you feel it, Scorpius? They’re evil. You shouldn’t touch them.”

Scorpius nodded, still dazed and Rose left him to snap the lid shut on the box. Before she did so, she peered inside, unable to prevent herself from doing so. She frowned. “Something is missing.”

“What?” Hugo’s voice rose from behind her. “How do you know?”

“Just a guess; the box looks too empty for its size,” Rose improvised, not knowing how to explain what she had seen in her dream.

Hugo pacing the floor, frowning. “This is all very weird,” he muttered as Scorpius slid the box under his bed.

“Take that thing back,” Rose ordered and Scorpius shook his head.

“I won’t look in there, Rose, I promise. I can’t go back there now – dad is still downstairs.”

Rose elbowed her way past him and slid the box out, spelling it locked with the most complicated charms she could think of. She gave Scorpius a smug look, which he returned with a scowl as she pushed the box back into the dark under the bed.

“You don’t trust me, do you?”

“Not really,” she replied quietly. “But I wouldn’t trust anybody with that.”

“I need sleep,” Hugo announced and before anyone could say anything, he’d disapparated.

“Me too,” Rose said, reaching for her wand. Scorpius caught her arm.

“Rose, I need to talk to you.”

“Later; I really do need to sleep and so do you.”

He sighed dejectedly and let her go.

Rose woke in darkness; someone was tapping on her door. Before she had the chance to answer it, she heard someone disapparate, and then apparate, and Clara the house elf was standing in her room.

“Clara, what is it?” Rose threw back the covers; the elf was distressed, wringing her hands and moaning to herself.

“Miss, you must go with Clara!”

“Okay,” Rose said, climbing out of bed. “But go where?”

“Master Scorpius needs you, miss.”

Rose frowned; her heart began pounding. “Scorpius needs...okay, let me get dressed.”

“No. It is of the utmost importance that you come now.” In her distress, Clara’s voice became shrill and she started rocking back and forth on her heels. Rose chewed her lip, concerned for the little elf.

“Clara, what is...”

“Now, please!” the elf shrieked, reaching forward and grasping Rose’s arm. She felt a dislocation of her senses as she was wrenched away, finding herself standing seconds later in Scorpius’ bedroom, in her pyjamas once again.

The room was dark, but the curtains were flung wide, the moon sneaking in and painting the bed and carpet silver. Scorpius was sitting on his bed, his back to them and she heard him mumble a thank you to Clara, who nodded in relief and vanished with a loud snap. Rose figured he must have ordered rather than asked the little elf to collect her and she was momentarily annoyed. She stood awkwardly, wishing Clara had let her grab a robe, or something. She felt naked and suddenly very shy.

That was forgotten as Scorpius turned to look at her. His face was drawn and pinched and he looked worse than he had earlier. Rose knew he hadn’t slept; she knew he was forcing himself to stay awake. He sighed and looked down at the bedspread, stretching out a long finger and tracing the pattern Rose could see gleaming in the moonlight.

“I...” she began; his head shot up and he beckoned her forward. Drawn like a sleepwalker, Rose went, sinking down beside him, his bed as soft and inviting as the one in her room.

“Do you think someone can do something and not remember it?”

“What do you mean?”

She heard him swallow. “I mean...the Dark Mark, and Heidi.”

“Scorpius, Melody poisoned Heidi, she admitted it,” Rose said firmly, immediately catching on. “And as for the Dark Mark, no, I don’t think you conjured that. How could you? Your father said only a Death Eater knows how to do it.”

“But what about Lucius? He was a Death Eater, and he’s in my head,” Scorpius argued. Rose shook her head.

“So? You couldn’t possibly have done it.”

“How do you know?” he said flatly.

“Look,” Rose said, turning to face him. “It wasn’t you. It’s just everything that has happened, playing on your mind. You haven’t slept properly in over a week.”

He sighed. “What do you think was missing from the box of Lucius’ stuff?”

“His mask,” Rose said without thought.

Scorpius gripped her arm, his fingers digging painfully into her skin. “How do you know that?”

“You’re hurting me, Scorpius. Let go!”

He did, quickly, muttering an apology.

“Before you and Hugo came and woke me, I had a dream, a nightmare,” she explained softly. “I saw you, with the mask in your hands, and then, you put it on and there was nothing but blackness and screams. It was terrible, Scorpius. That’s why I didn’t want you touching that box; I was afraid that what I’d seen...”

“Fuck me,” Scorpius swore.

“It was just a dream,” Rose said shakily. “It doesn’t mean it is going to happen.”

Scorpius said nothing for a long moment, looking at her with an intensity that made Rose tremble. “It’s you, you know,” he said quietly. “I just want you to know, before all this stuff gets...out of hand; before something really bad happens.”

“Nothing else is going to happen. The Auror’s will catch whoever is doing this,” Rose answered. She swallowed, her mouth suddenly dry as she addressed the first part of his speech. “What did you mean, it’s me?”

Scorpius gave her a searing look that almost incinerated her. This was far too intimate. When he was messing with her, it was okay; even the constant sexual innuendo was okay but this, this was not. This was something else and Rose found that she was scared, her own feelings brimming to the surface.

“I should go...” She closed her eyes briefly and when she opened them, his face, his lips, were so close she could almost taste him.

“From the moment this stupid competition started, from the moment you arrived on the doorstep with your camera and your little note pad I knew it was you,” he whispered. His breath fanned her face and Rose could not breathe.

“You knew what?” she forced herself to ask. He dropped his eyes and Rose bit her lip. He was so close to her she was finding it difficult to think rationally. She could feel the heat rising from his body. “Scorpius, answer the question, please. If this is just you being stupid again -”

He kissed her, sweetly and without restraint and Rose kissed him back, her body turning to liquid, not thinking of anything but what has happening at that moment. There was nothing outside of him, and her, and it was frightening to feel so lost, so completely swept away by one person.

“I knew it was you that I wanted,” he said finally, pulling away a fraction before resting his forehead against hers. “Rose...”

“If you’re about to tell me you’ve liked me since we were at school, I think I will hex you because we both know it is not the truth,” Rose whispered, watching as his eyes widened in surprise, before his face relaxed into a grin.

“Actually, I couldn’t stand you.”

“I know,” she replied, pushing him away gently; his face collapsed and she reached over and brushed a length of his hair from his face. “Why did you do that?”

“Kiss you? Because I wanted too,” he answered simply.

Unable to prevent it, Rose scowled. “So what Scorpius wants, Scorpius gets, right?”

“It’s not like that and you know it,” he replied, his voice low and filled with anger.

“I don’t know it. How could I? All I’ve ever seen you do is mess around with girls and...”

He put his fingers on her lips. “I’m not messing around.”

She nudged his hand away. “What about Roxanne? What about Lucinda?”

“I don’t care about them, either of them.” His voice was so solemn, so sincere that Rose held her breath, watching him closely for any sign that he was toying with her. When none came, a sense of complete relief washed through her and without further thought, she pressed her lips on his again, kissing him with a passion she didn’t know she had. She needed him and in an instant, had his shirt over his head and tossed onto the floor. Scorpius groaned and pulled her tightly against him, his hands moving over her body, his lips working the length of her throat. Rose was dizzy, gasping, nothing but want and need and lust in his arms as she let him push her back onto the pillows. When his hands slid under her clothes, fingers tasting her flesh, her brain snapped into focus and she slowly pushed him away.

“We can’t,” she said gently, voice rough and husky. “There are more important things going on. We have to work out how to free you from these dreams, or how to stop Lucius dreaming – anything, before someone gets seriously injured.”

Scorpius groaned loudly. “You are too practical sometimes, you know that?”

“And you think with your...” she sat up and he raised his eyebrows, smirking. “This is serious.”

He sighed. “I know.”

“I need to get back to my room,” Rose muttered, not wanting to leave him.

“Don’t, please.”

“You need sleep, Scorpius; you can’t do that when I’m here. You’re exhausted.”

“What if I said there was nothing worse than a woman who doesn’t finish what she started?” he grinned, but it was a weak grin that did not reach the rest of his face.

“I’d tell you patience is a virtue,” Rose rejoined, making him smile. She climbed off the bed. “I’m sorry, Scorpuis, but I should go.”

“I don’t want to be alone,” he admitted softly. “Once the dreams, nightmares, have hold of me I can’t wake up. It’s like I’m forced to ride them out, all the way to the end, to whatever horrible end there is. I can’t fall asleep – I can’t be alone.” He paused, looking at her, imploring her. “I need you, Rose.”

“Alright,” she whispered. If Scorpius went one more night without sleep he’d start loosing his mind. “I’ll try; if you need waking up, I’ll try, but according to Hugo, you sleep like the dead.”

Scorpius did not smile; he handed her his wand. “Then rennervate me, or something. Just don’t let me sleep through it.”

Rose nodded, grasping the wand tightly. She was prepared to sit vigil, at the foot of the bed or on the chair in the corner, but Scorpius rolled his eyes.

“Weasley, get in.”

“What? No way.”

“Rose, come on, don’t be stupid. I’m tired; I want to sleep. I won’t touch you, I promise.”

Rose sighed as he held the covers back for her. She watched him closely, suspicious and afraid to admit she actually liked the idea of sleeping beside him, but she also knew how much he affected her, how easy it would be to simply give in and just feel. She swallowed, her nerves on fire. “If you dare...”

She saw him smile in the darkness. “Hugo would kill me for doing such things to his sister.”

Before she had the wits to smack him, he’d fallen asleep.

When Rose woke a few hours later, and when her eyes had focused enough to realise she was not in her own bed, she sat up so quickly she felt dizzy. Scorpius’ hand closed around her wrist and she glanced at him almost guiltily.

“I have to go.”

“Good morning to you, too,” he yawned, tugging on her arm until she lay back down beside him. He looked rested, still tired, but not like he had been the day before. There was colour in his cheeks, and the shadows under his eyes were not as prominent.

“I have to go,” Rose repeated, sitting up again. “I’m glad you slept, really, but I can’t stay here.”

“You’re no fun.” Scorpius linked his arms behind his head. Rose looked at him, truly seeing for the first time what all those other girls saw – Scorpius was sexy. She knew it already, had seen it before, but in the honest light of the morning, fresh from sleep, it felt more real and she almost didn’t want to acknowledge it. There was something hypnotic about him, and the more he relaxed around her and stopped playing the silly games she was used to, the more drawn to him she was, and the more that primal, deep part of her pulsed. She scrambled off the bed, feeling that traitorous blush creeping across her skin as she remembered what had almost happened last night.

“Umm, see you at breakfast?” she mumbled, studying the carpet.

“Maybe,” he answered from the bed. Rose stared at him a moment longer, at the lean pale torso, the cheeks rumpled from sleep, at the way his hair fell into his eyes, and at the way the muscles in his arms were exposed. She couldn’t ever remember him turning into a man – he had always been that annoying little boy, worse than any brother, who she wanted to curse into nothingness.

She flung open the door and stepped into the hall before she did something she would come to regret, finding herself face to face with Draco Malfoy. They looked at one another silently; Rose felt her skin scorching, blistering with embarrassment. She swallowed, trying to think of something to say, to explain why she was sneaking out of his son’s room in the early hours of the morning. She opened her mouth and nothing came out.

“Interesting,” Draco murmured, and walked away, leaving Rose dying of shame.



Chapter title from the song In my time of Dying, by Led Zepplin.
There it is, guys, the BIG moment. Hope it was what you were expecting!

Edited 12.12: chapter image added.





Chapter 11: Somebody get me Through this Nightmare
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Chapter 11
Somebody get me through this Nightmare



“If only we could see these marks, this graffiti mum was talking about,” Rose mumbled crossly. They were sitting in Scorpius’ room, talking quietly and trying to decide what to do next. Scorpius was itching to get out of the Manor; he was worried about his parents and the missing girls and had spent the majority of the morning muttering to himself and pacing the floor. No one had eaten breakfast; when Rose went down to the dining room, terrified of running into Draco, the room had been empty, food going cold on the table. There was no sign of Roxanne anywhere, or Raven and Lucinda, and Rose assumed they had all been taken home. She had wanted to see Roxanne before she left, to try and apologise for the previous night. No matter what Roxanne had said, she was still her cousin, her family, and Rose didn’t like being at odds with her.

She had found Hugo with Scorpius, the latter almost tearing his hair out in frustration.

“Maybe we can,” Scorpius said slowly, leaning back against the pillows and stretching out on the bed. Hugo was perched on the edge of a chair, also looking tense and tired.

“How?” Rose snapped. She was irritated and hungry. “Do you have a plan to dispose of that hitwizard lurking downstairs? And how will we get through the wards?”

Scorpius shook his head, smiling. “Clara.”

The house elf shot into the room, apparating in the centre of the floor. She cast baleful eyes at Rose and Hugo, who grinned at her. Rose was mildly pleased to see she was not the only Weasley on the elf’s hate list.

“Clara is here, Master,” she said gently.

Scorpius sat up. “Clara,” he began, “I’m going to ask you to do something you won’t want to do, but I need you to do it anyway.” He paused, watching her before lifting his eyes to Rose. “I need you to take us, all three of us, to Diagon Alley.”

Clara shook her head. “No no no. It is a bad place at the moment, Master. I shall not take you there! You cannot ask Clara to do such a thing.”

“Please, Clara,” Scorpius said softly. “It is very important.”

As a free elf, Rose knew Clara was not bound by the old magic, and had the right to refuse Scorpius’ request. She rocked back and forth, shaking her head and wringing her hands, Scorpius pleading solemnly with her. She would not budge, however, and Rose’s heart sank as she shook her head a final time.

“Then we will have to find another way,” Scorpius said firmly.

“Clara is not happy about this,” she warned, pointing a long finger at him. “If anything should happen to Master...”

“It won’t,” Scorpius assured her; she nodded. He stood up, glancing at Rose and then Hugo. “Any ideas?”

“Apparition from the grounds is out, obviously,” Rose murmured.

Hugo jumped up, knocking the chair to the ground. “The car.”

“What?” Rose asked.

“Can we take the car?” Hugo asked Scorpius.

Scorpius shook his head. “I don’t know where it is. Since the day you tried to teach me how to drive, Father keeps it under a permanent disillusionment charm unless he needs it.”

“Alright,” Hugo said slowly. “We walk.”

“Pardon?” Rose said. “London is at least 100 miles away.”

Hugo shook his head. “On the far corner of the property, past the lagoon, is a tree that hangs over the fence. We can climb over the fence no worries. You should probably tell your dad about that, but not yet.”

“How do you know this?” Scorpius asked.

Hugo grinned. “Didn’t you ever wonder how I just showed up here sometimes?”

“Hugo, that’s practically criminal!” Rose scolded, but Scorpius grinned.

“Let’s go,” he said, cutting across Hugo’s remark.

“You want to go now?” Rose asked, and he nodded. “I just need my bag and...”

Hugo disapperated, returning moments later with her camera and her backpack. He handed them to Rose with a wink.

“...my camera,” she finished.

Clara was given the task of distracting the hit wizards, and she did so with ill grace, agreeing only because Master needed her too and not because Rose had suggested it. With their bodyguards occupied, Rose, Scorpius and Hugo were able to easily escape the house through Clara’s little kitchen door. There was no chance of running into Draco or Astoria. Healers had arrived early that morning and were currently with Lucius, trying to come up with a solution to stop his dreams leaking all over the place.

Once outside, Scorpius disillusioned Rose and Hugo. Rose shivered, feeling like someone emptied a bucket of cold water over her. She had to admire his spellwork; he had always been good at charms. She turned her wand on him and Hugo led the way across the grounds. Undetected, they made their way easily through the garden and past the lagoon. Rose got her wish and saw a peacock, stopping a moment to admire the beauty and colour of the strange bird before Hugo called for her to hurry up.

It was odd climbing a tree without being able to see her feet or hands, and Rose scrambled over the fence quickly, terrified she was going to misjudge and fall to the ground. She felt a strange chill and knew she had passed through the edge of the Manor’s protective wards. With the disillusionment charm undone, they stood in silence a moment, waiting, but no hit wizard came crashing through the greenery behind them and no one called out.

Rose snuck a glance at Scorpius, watching as his brow furrowed and he pulled his bottom lip between his teeth, worrying at it. She wanted to reach across and take his hand, and she imagined those long, pale fingers twisted around hers. She swallowed; her hands remained firmly by her side. This was not the time. Afterwards, she would be able to tell him how she felt; show him how she felt.

After a moment of quick discussion, they agreed to apparate into the bathroom at the Leaky Cauldron, and sneak out of the pub as undetected as possible. It would not take long for Draco to realise they were gone.

“What now?” Hugo asked when the three of them were clustered in the Leaky. He peered out the bathroom door. “Heaps of people; it should be easy to simply walk out with the crowd.” He waited until the barman was not looking, and everyone present seemed lost in their drinks, before pushing the door open. “Do we...”

Rose frowned. “I think it best not to go to Diagon Alley yet; once we’re discovered missing, they might come looking for us.”

“Oh goody,” Hugo moaned. “Draco will tell mum.”

“We’ve got time to kill,” Rose mused, ignoring her brother. They would face the wrath of their respective parents later. “We could go into London.”

Hugo grinned. “Feel like being a tourist for the day, Malfoy?”

“I don’t care if I’m a pygmy puff for the day,” Scorpius answered grimly.

They escaped the Leaky undetected, and Rose felt a surpreme sense of relief wash over her as they stepped out into the brightness of the day. It was late-morning and, not wanting to linger, she led the way down Charing Cross Road. Central London was one of Rose’s favourite places; the smell of the Thames, the noise of the traffic and the beauty of the parks and architecture. They took the train from Charing Cross Station to Waterloo, walked across Westminster Bridge, past the Houses of Parliament and into St James’ Park. They looked at Buckingham Palace, and caught the train from Piccadilly Circus to Oxford Street, where they crossed into Hyde Park. Here, they sat beneath the trees, Hugo immediately lying back with his hands behind his head.

“Honestly, Hugo, you’re like a cat; you sleep anywhere,” Rose said with a shake of her head. Her brother only shrugged.

“I’m hungry. Conjure me some food, Rosie.”

Rose rolled her eyes. “You can’t conjure food, Hugo.”

“Goes against Gamps Law, you dolt,” Scorpius muttered. “But I could eat something as well.”

“I don’t suppose you have any money, Hugo?” Rose asked, narrowing her eyes. He shook his head and she sighed. “Lunch is on me then.” Whenever she went into muggle London, Rose made sure she carried cash; having been at Malfoy Manor meant she was out of money, but she did have her purse stashed in her backpack, and therefore, access to her bank account.

By the time Rose returned with lunch – burgers and chips – Hugo was snoring and Scorpius was ruthlessly breaking twigs. There was a large pile of them on the ground between his knees. Rose smiled sympathetically, handing him a burger, which he took with a raised eyebrow.

“It’s alright to be nervous,” she said softly, kicking Hugo, who woke with a groan, holding out his hand for his food. Rose dumped the burger on his stomach, not caring.

“I’m not nervous,” Scorpius replied, gingerly unwrapping his food. “Ugh. What is this?”

“Food: the best thing ever,” Hugo answered, at the same time as Rose said, “Just eat it.”

“What now?” Rose asked when they had finished lunch. Birds called from the trees above them and muggles and their children were playing in the park. A football landed near them; Hugo jumped up and kicked it back, receiving a wave of thanks from the little boy who had lost it. Rose smiled. Despite their situation, she felt strangely normal sitting in the park.

Back on the street, that changed. Hugo grabbed her and pulled her behind a phone booth; there was such urgency in his movement that Rose felt a thrill of fear. Scorpius was standing behind Hugo, his eyes scanning the crowd around them, trying to work out what was going on.

“Uncle Harry,” Hugo whispered, pointing, and Rose groaned. There, on the street, looking every inch a muggle in jeans and a t-shirt, was Harry Potter. “Brilliant. Now what do we do?”

Rose bit her lip. “Hide. He knows this place better than we do. We have to get out of here.”

Hugo considered this. “Alright. You two get around the corner and keep an eye on our dear Auror over there and I’ll find us a hidey hole.”

Rose watched her brother’s back as he vanished into the crowd behind them. “Come on,” she told Scorpius and the two of them moved away, Rose looking back to check on her uncle. Harry had moved off in the opposite direction but Rose knew he would not go far. He would comb every inch of Central London until he found them.

Hugo returned forty minutes later, and Rose breathed a sigh of relief, not wanting to admit she had been starting to worry about him. “I found us a room, at a motel about two blocks from here.”

They walked quickly, but not too quickly, needing to look normal. Rose hoped Harry wasn’t handing out pictures of them or something like that. With their hair, she and Hugo had no hope of not being remembered. The motel Hugo found was a dump. Even in the daylight, it looked dark and dirty. Set right against the street, garbage was piled high on one side of the front door, which was little more than a slit in the brickwork. Stale cigarette smoke and alcohol assaulted them when they entered and Rose sniffed in distaste.

“Hugo, this place is utterly foul,” she muttered.

Her brother only shrugged. “It’s cheap,” he said. “And no one would think of looking for us here, not even Uncle Harry, Auror Extraordinaire.”

Rose had to admit he had a point. The man behind the front desk – overweight, balding and smelling like he needed a thorough wash – eyed them with an interest Rose knew and did not like. His gaze combed her body, scratching over her face and Rose felt naked and exposed.

“He’s my brother,” she snapped, pointing to Hugo, “And he’s my cousin,” she added, indicating Scorpius. The man smirked knowingly.

“I’ve heard it all before, lass. I’m not here to pass judgement.” He slid a grimy looking key with the number 26 hanging from it across the desk. “Paying with cash, I assume?”

There was muck on the stairs Rose didn’t want to think about, and the room they were given had a strange smell that also warranted no thought. The taps in the tiny bathroom did not work properly, and the one that did spat a stream of brownish water before gurgling to a halt. At least the toilet flushed, and the shower and mini fridge in the kitchenette worked. Everything else – TV, most of the lights and what used to be a white telephone – were broken.

“Interesting,” Scorpius mused, sitting down with extreme care on one of the beds. There were, Rose noted, two single beds.

“Welcome to the prettier side of the world, rich boy,” Hugo said with a smile.

“Shut up,” Scorpius growled, and then sighed. “Try and rest a bit.”

Rose moaned, sliding her backpack from her shoulder and letting it fall to the ground. “Hugo, you get the floor.”

“No way,” he retorted, flinging himself across the room and onto the other bed. Dust rose from the covers as he landed and he coughed. “Yuck.”

Rose sighed. “Fine,” she ground out through clenched teeth. “Give me a pillow.”

“Have this bed,” Scorpius offered, standing up and crossing to the French doors. There was a tiny balcony that provided a view of the city. He pulled back the shabby curtain and pushed the doors open. Fresh air flooded the room. “I don’t think I will be sleeping anyway.”

Rose was about to protest, to tell him he needed more sleep than her and Hugo combined, when her brother, her stupid, loud-mouthed brother, smirked.

“You can always share.”

“Why don’t you two share?” Rose hissed, stealing a sideways glance at Scorpius, wondering suddenly if he’d told Hugo about last night. “I’m the one paying for this shit hole.”

“I meant sleep in shifts,” Hugo said, linking his hands behind his head. “But is there something you’re not telling me, Rosie? Hmmm?”

“Shut it,” she snapped, advancing on him, her wand in her hand.

Hugo scampered to his feet. “Woah, no magic remember?” She moved left, and he feinted right in some stupid Mexican stand-off, the single, scrawny bed the only barrier between them. “Seriously, it was a joke, Rose. A joke. You do know about them, don’t you?”

“How can I not?” she snarled, “When I have a living joke for a brother!”

Hugo’s face twisted and Rose felt the prick of shame deep in her stomach. She didn’t know what had come over her. She felt frenzied, dislocated from her senses and the tension in her body was starting to hurt. All this waiting was driving her mad and now, their uncle was hunting them, probably their father too, and every Auror in the division. They should just give up and go home.

“Calm down, alright,” Hugo said quietly, his voice wounded and Rose knew she should apologise but didn’t. She couldn’t force the words out. She could feel them there, lurking on her tongue, but they stayed where they were, stored for later.

Sighing, Rose reached up to rub at her temples, noticing Scorpius watching them with interest, his expression concerned. “It’s fine,” she mumbled, pushing past him into the dingy little bathroom where she stood and stared at herself in the streaked mirror. She could hear the boys talking in the other room but their words were garbled, shielded by the tiles on the bathroom wall.

When she felt calm enough, Rose snuck back into the darkened room. Hugo was sprawled on his usurped bed, snoring gently and Scorpius was out on the small balcony, leaning against the railing, his back to the room. A breeze blew gently, carrying the sounds of the city to her ears and Rose stood a moment, listening to the hum of traffic and the occasional flare of a car horn, before stepping out into the sultry air of the growing day.

Scorpius glanced at her, and then behind him, checking that Hugo was still sleeping. He gave her a tiny smile and lifted his arm invitingly and Rose slid underneath it, glad of his warmth and the firmness of his body. He placed a kiss on her forehead and Rose laid her head against his chest; they didn’t speak and she was glad. She had no idea what to say to him anyway, no words that could offer reassurance that it would all be okay. She had already said them all.

Rose made to pull away, but he held her face between his hands. “Wait a moment,” he murmured, and proceeded to kiss her, sweetly and without demand. She felt her body melt into his and she gave herself up to the kiss, just needing to feel something real when everything was so dislocated.

“Okay, now I’ve seen everyting.” Hugo’s voice, low and filled with disbelief, floated across the room and Rose jumped, slowly moving away from Scorpius. “Malfoy,” Hugo began, “I don’t know if –”

Rose stormed inside, an irrational anger taking hold of her. Hugo was standing in the middle of the room, shock etched onto his face. “What, Hugo? You don’t know what? Are you about to warn him off? Tell him I’m nothing but an annoying, humourless, pedantic, uptight waste of his time?”

Hugo shook his head, backing up a pace. “Psycho might be the better word. God, what has gotten into you? You’re turning into Roxanne.”

“Rose...” Scorpius began, coming into the room. “That’s unfair.”

She sank down onto one of the beds, her head falling into her hands. “I know, I know. I’m sorry, Hugo. I’m just tired and stressed.”

He sat down opposite her; their knees were almost touching the beds were crammed so close in the tiny room. “Is that what you honestly believe I think about you? Because I don’t, Rose; I care about you. You’re my sister – I’m supposed to annoy the life out of you. It’s my job.”

Rose looked at her brother through the curtain of red that hung before her face. His eyes were worried, his mouth pulled down and she hated him looking like that. She gave him a small smile, which he returned and suddenly, Scorpius laughed.

“I am glad I’m an only child.”

“You ought to see the whole family,” Rose commented softly, smiling at her brother. She lay back on the musty bed, her eyes on the ceiling, enjoying the odd, peaceful silence that descended on the room.

“So anyway,” Hugo said meaningfully after a while.

“I like your sister,” Scorpius stated. “Any objections?”

“Not really.”

“I am in the room,” Rose reminded them stonily, sitting up and glaring. They ignored her.

“Glad I got your permission,” Scorpius replied, grinning.

“You should have come to me first,” Hugo said, also grinning. “We could have arranged a bride price. A thousand galleons is only pocket money for Rose.”

Rose huffed and folded her arms.

“Just treat her right and I’ll be happy with that, becaue I know what you’re like,” Hugo warned, suddenly serious; Scorpius nodded. “Other than that, go for it.”

Rose felt her mouth drop. “You don’t own me, Hugo. I’m not a bloody prized cow.”

Her brother only smiled and lay back on the bed again.

They had an early dinner of some chips and soft drink Hugo found in a vending machine downstairs. “How is it that you have access to Muggle money?” Scorpius asked.

“Mum set up bank accounts for both Hugo and me, when we were children,” Rose explained. “It was a fail safe, a way for her to ensure that if anything should happen, if we needed to disappear from the wizarding world, we would be okay. Having a bank account gives you an identity, something on paper to prove you are who you say you are. The same as a driver’s licence.”

“But what did she think would happen?” Scorpius asked quietly. “You’re the children of war heroes.”

“Exactly,” Hugo said. “Uncle Harry got some threatening letters when James was born – anonymous of course – and it scared mum. She was worried some crazy Voldemort lover – they were still around – would take her or dad out, or try and kidnap us or something. Hey, Rose, do you remember when she told us?”

Rose nodded. “I was eight; Hugo six. Mum called us to her after dinner and explained the whole thing. It was a scary conversation. I was terrified of my own shadow afterwards.”

“Wow,” Scorpius breathed, sitting back against the end of the bed. They had sat on the floor to eat dinner, deciding it was probably cleaner than the table tucked away in the corner. “I’d never thought of that.”

No one spoke for a long moment; they sat and watched the sun sinking in the west. Darkness was slowly cast over the outside world. “We’ll go in a few hours,” Scorpius said quietly. “There won’t be many people around then. It should be easy to get a look at this artwork and get back to the Manor. Dad is going to be furious,” he added with a small smile.

Hugo announced he was going to sleep, and did so promptly, his snoring soon filling the room. “I don’t know how he does that,” Rose murmured, shaking her head. Scorpius smiled, climbed onto the other bed and patted the space next to him. Rose joined him, lying down gingerly. The moment he put his arms around her she relaxed, and soon, drifted into sleep.






Chapter title from the song, Animal I have Become, by Three Days Grace.
I am not a Londener, now have I ever been, so I hope I got the details right.


Chapter 12: It's just your Ghost Passing Through
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Chapter 12
It’s just your Ghost Passing Through


Scorpius was agitated, Rose could see it. His face was tight, his jaw clenched and a nervous tick worked furiously under his eye and in his left temple. “What is it?” she asked him softly as they dodged through the darkened streets. He sighed.

“I had another dream,” he said. Rose stopped and grabbed at his arm, giving Hugo a swift look. “We, I, I mean Lucius, was young in this one. We watched the murder of two red-haired men, brothers I think; twins perhaps, I’m not sure.”

Rose and Hugo glanced at one another again.

“They were taken down like they were nothing. It was so real, so vivid, as real to me as you two are now,” Scorpius whispered. “It frightened me, because where they stood, I kept seeing you, or Roxanne, your aunt Ginny, your father, your uncles...must have been the red hair.”

“That’s because it was our family,” Rose said softly; Scorpius looked at her in surprise. “You saw the Prewett brothers, Gideon and Fabian, grandmother Weasley’s siblings. They died during Voldemort’s first rise to power, murdered by five death eaters.”

“I’m sorry,” Scorpius murmured, looking away. Rose squeezed his hand, and they went on. The Leaky Cauldron was still open, even though it was late and the place was empty. Scorpius went in first and to Rose’s consternation, was immediately recognised.

“Young Master Malfoy,” Sam, the barkeep, called. “Your father has bin in ‘ere, lookin’ for you. In a right temper he was too – scared off half me customers and cost me a night’s takings.”

Scorpius said nothing, fidgeting, and as Rose and Hugo slipped in behind him, the barkeep’s eyes widened.

“An’ you two! Auror’s have bin askin’ questions about you. What ‘ave you done, little Weasley’s?”

“Merlin I hate that,” Hugo muttered. “’Little Weasley’s’.”

“Nothing, everything is fine,” Rose lied smoothly. “We’ve spoken with our father. We’re just heading into Diagon Alley to meet him.”

Sam eyed them suspiciously. “Not much open at this time of night. You need to be careful – bad things ‘ave bin happenin’ lately. Another girl’s gone missin’.”

“Another?” Rose asked, feeling faint.

The barkeep nodded sagely, fingers reaching up to stroke at his whiskery chin. “That Parker girl, Lucy was it? Mr Malfoy was asking had I seen her.”

“And had you?” Hugo asked bluntly.

Sam pointed a long finger in their direction. “I already told your father, boy, that no, I ‘ave not seen her.”

Rose snuck a glance at Scorpius, trying to gauge his reaction, but he simply looked as shocked as she felt. Whatever was happening, they needed to get to the bottom of it.

“Come on.” She marched through the pub, the boys following her and she could feel Sam’s eyes on them as they passed through into Diagon Alley. “We haven’t got much time,” she said, walking quickly. “I expect dad and Uncle Harry, your father as well, Scorpius, will be flooing in any time soon.”

“Lucinda’s missing too; I thought she’d just gone home,” Scorpius murmured; Rose grabbed his arm and shook him gently.

“They’ll find her; they’ll find all of them. Right now though, we need to figure this out.”

“Alright, where is this graffiti?” Hugo asked as they walked. “They’ve probably cleaned most of it off by now.”

“I overheard dad say something to mum about Borgin and Burkes,” Scorpius said.

Rose shivered. “I hate Knockturn Alley: it gives me the creeps.” She suddenly wondered whether this whole expedition was a good idea. Her mother was right – they had no idea who was responsible for any of the graffiti, or the apparent kidnappings, the Dark Mark at the Manor. Rose had the unnerving sense they were walking into danger but it was too late to do anything about it now. She needed to know.

They passed Flourish and Blotts, Madam Malkin’s and Florean Fortescue’s quickly; the streets were deserted and the occasional light shone from one of the shops, the sign of someone working late. Knockturn Alley was black as soot, and eerily quite and still. The three of them paused, stopping in the gaping mouth of the alley and again, Rose felt that horrible sensation of being completely exposed. The other’s must have felt it too, because Scorpius took her hand and led them into the shadows that lined the disused shopfronts. From there, they made their way as silently as possible to Borgin and Burkes.

There, on the dusty front display window of the shop, were the words He is coming painted in green ink. As they stood and studied the work, Rose frowned.

“It looks unfinished, like they left in a hurry. See,” she pointed, “the ‘g’ slops away, like the person ran or disapparated hastily. Didn’t mum say this only appeared last night?”

Hugo nodded. “Which means...”

“They’re probably on their way back,” Scorpius finished, sucking in a breath. “Where are the Aurors? I thought they’d be watching this place, waiting. I don’t understand.”

“Maybe they’re searching elsewhere,” Rose suggested. Footsteps echoed in the distance and they froze, listening as the short, sharp bursts of sound crept closer. Scorpius grabbed Rose and dragged her across the alley into the darkness, pushing her down behind a pile of garbage bins. Hugo appeared beside them, breathing deeply.

“Get down,” Rose hissed, grabbing the back of her brother’s shirt and pulling him onto the rough, dirty ground. Scorpius put his fingers to his lips, gesturing into the alley. Rose held her breath, watching as a figure in a long cape approached the wall. She felt Scorpius’ hand tighten and focused on the black-draped body in front of them, and not how it felt to have her hand held so tightly, so protectively.

As they watched, the person in black took out a common muggle spray can and in a few short bursts, had sprayed the words The Dark Lord is all on the brickwork, beneath the first sentence. They stepped back, head tipped to the side to survey their art, and Rose nearly fell over in fright as another person apparated into the darkness, moving to stand beside the other. They didn’t speak; the first handed the second the spray can and within minutes, a perfect replica of the Dark Mark, much like the one that had been found in the Malfoy’s dining room, joined the words on the wall.

“What are they doing?” Hugo muttered. As Rose watched, the two figures stood looking at the wall, swaying on the spot. They were muttering in low voices, but Rose knew instantly that one, or maybe both, were female. The second tapped the painted Dark Mark with her wand and it began to move, the serpent twisting its way from the skull’s jaws, just like the real thing.

“What do we do?” Rose asked quietly, sucking in a breath as the person with the spray can turned their head towards their hiding place. Scorpius shook his head, his bottom lip between his teeth, before he frowned. His wand was in his hand, the skin around his knuckles slowly turning white.

“She’s coming over,” he warned. “Wait...that’s Elspeth!”

Rose craned her neck to look, certain he must be mistaken, but in the half-light of the moon the figure reached up and removed the hood from her head. Scorpius stood up; Rose lunged for his arm, and missed.

“Elspeth, what are you doing here?”

He’d barely gotten the question out when she fired on him. Hugo shot across Rose’s field of vision, tackling Scorpius to the ground as Rose drew her wand, her shield charm spreading out to protect the three of them. “What do we do? And who is the other one?” she asked breathlessly. The other person had now joined Elspeth and slowly removed her hood.

“Selina!” Hugo groaned. “I liked her; she was hot.”

“Hardly the time,” Rose snapped. Scorpius was looking at both girls in disbelief.

“They’re behind it all,” he said in a harsh voice. “The Dark Mark at the Manor, frightening my grandmother half to death...what are they playing at?” He made to stand but Hugo held him down. Rose flinched as her shield took a battering of spells.

“We have to move. We can worry about the why’s later,” she told Scorpius.

He nodded, his face tight. “Spread out. Drop your shield, Rose, and we split up.”

“No,” Hugo said, and to Rose’s surprise, he was looking at her. “It’s too dangerous.”

“It’s the only way,” she insisted. Rose let her shield fall and immediately disapparated, reappearing a moment later to see Hugo engaged in wand fire with Selina. The other woman noted Rose’s appearance and gave a high bark of hysterical laughter, before vanishing.

“Where’s Scorpius?”

Looking around, they noticed Scorpius and Elspeth. They weren’t fighting; she was standing tall and still and it appeared that he was trying to talk to her. She was shaking her head and muttering and Rose felt the hair stand up on the back of her neck as Elspeth suddenly looked up and smiled a feral, menacing smile.

“Wait,” Scorpius cried as she turned away, reaching out to catch her arm just as Rose yelled a warning; Elspeth disapparated, taking Scorpius with her. Rose and Hugo looked at each other in horror.

“Oh fuck,” Hugo whispered.

Rose’s mouth dropped and she wanted to tear at her hair in frustration and fear. “Think, Rose, think,” she muttered, beginning to pace.

“Oh man, we need to tell Draco. Oh God, he’s going to kill us, oh shit oh shit...”

“Shut it, Hugo,” Rose snapped. “If you were a pseudo-megalomaniac, if you thought you were doing Voldemort’s work, where would you go now?”

“The Ministry of Magic?” Hugo suggested, and she shook her head.

“No. Lucius’ history is playing out in reverse order, remember?” Rose said softly. “If we go by Scorpius’ last dream, time has moved back to Voldemort’s first rise to power, so he wouldn’t have any interest in the Ministry, not yet. Oh God, Hugo, I have no idea where Elspeth would take him and if it has any relation to his dreams at all!”

“Rose,” Hugo breathed, pulling at his hair. “We need help.”

“We haven’t got time,” she answered; Hugo made to argue, but she rounded on him, her expression fierce. “Did he tell you everything then? Scorpius?”

“What do you mean?”

“He believes some of what has happened is his doing, and who’s to say it isn’t? How do we know that what is happening to Elspeth and Selina isn’t happening to him? We don’t know anything for certain,” Rose replied slowly. “He thinks he made the Dark Mark appear at the Manor.”

Hugo gaped. “No. I refuse to believe that. He might be a prat sometimes, Rose, but he isn’t mean.”

“He didn’t do it on purpose, if he did it,” Rose muttered. “You saw those girl’s faces – they weren’t themselves, Hugo. I think they’re compelled, but by whom?”

“Why them?” he asked, puzzled. “I mean, Scorpius I kind of understand. Lucius is his grandfather – they’re family, but those girls have no connection to the Malfoy’s at all.”

Rose shook her head. “But they do,” she whispered, grabbing her brother’s arm. “Selina Goyle – her father is Gregory, who, while not exactly a Death Eater, was involved in the end. And Gregory and Draco, and therefore Selina and Scorpius, share another link – Lucius and Selina’s grandfather were both Death Eaters. We know that they both came to him, to Voldemort, in the graveyard at Little Hangleton, so we know they were both loyal.”

“So it is the same thing with Elspeth? She is an Avery, after all.”

“I don’t think it is that simple though,” Rose said quietly. “We need to find Scorpius. I have a really bad feeling about this, Hugo.”

“Me too. Okay, his last dream: where were Gideon and Fabian murdered? Do you know, Rose, because I don’t have a clue,” Hugo said miserably. Rose chewed her lip.

“Fabian’s home, in Little Hangleton,” she answered slowly. “Grandmother told me. We start there then? I know the street the house was in but not exactly where it is. Come on.”

They used their memory to guide them, their knowledge of the area and the events, described to them by their family and by books. Little Hangleton was a ghost town in the darkness, and Rose was dizzy from apparating across the country; they had stopped several times to get their bearings and she thought Hugo was looking a little peaky but he refused to stop. They hurried along the streets, wands out and ears straining, pushing their way towards the older part of town. They passed the church and the adjoining cemetery, the place of Voldemort’s rebirth and they paused, listening, but there was no sign of either Elspeth or Scorpius. Rose felt sick; that impending sense of doom that had dogged her all day was in full flight and she knew she was close to panicking. She wanted to sit in the street and scream. Everything had, as Hugo would so eloquently put it, gone to shit.

“Rose,” Hugo said quietly, pointing to a street sign. Rose’s heart sped up and together, brother and sister raced down the street, ducking into the shadows as they moved. Fabian Prewett’s house was in ruins; standing alone at the end of the quiet street, it sat slightly on a rise, and its tortured face looked down on them. Rose recalled her grandparents telling them that, after the murders and the Dark Mark being cast above the cottage, no one went near it. In the moonlight, Rose could see what remained: a stone fence, only a few feet high, a shabby garden, overgrown and wild, and the walls of the house. The windows were blackened holes, gaping like mouths and she shivered, forcing calm on herself.

“Can you cast a patronus, Hugo?” she asked in a whisper. He nodded. “We need dad and Uncle Harry.” Rose knew she didn’t have enough happy thoughts in her at present, and hoped her brother did.

Rose kept an eye on the house, listening for the slightest sound as Hugo’s silvery weasel, so much like their grandfather’s, tore off into the blackness.

“So I guess we go and look for him?” Hugo asked quietly and Rose nodded. “Alright. But if anything happens to you, I won’t ever forgive myself.”

“You choose odd moments to be a real brother,” Rose commented with a smile.

“This is a life or death situation, probably. If that isn’t a moment to be a real brother, I don’t know what is,” he whispered back. The sudden and shocking crack of apparition rent the air and Rose grabbed Hugo’s arm in fear. They watched, hidden deep in the shadows, as Selina Goyle pushed open the rusty front gate. The metal protested, screaming into the night and she paused a moment, looking around into moonlight splattered blackness, before she turned and marched up the path, her feet beating out a sharp staccato on the cobblestones.

“We’ll go around the back,” Rose said with a confidence she did not feel. Part of her wanted to wait for her father, but the other part was terrified for Scorpius. Her dream beat at her head, taunting her but she shoved it aside.

In the milky moonlight they moved slowly, wands at the ready and hearts pounding. They stuck to the edge of the building, keeping low. Rose could hear muttering inside: Elspeth and Selina, but she could not hear Scorpius and wondered if he’d been knocked out, or worse. The back of the house was a tangle of plants and debris, and Rose felt her skin tear as it snagged on something. Blood trickled slowly down her leg and she wiped it away with the tips of her fingers, ignoring the sting.

“The back door is gone,” Hugo whispered, peering ahead into the darkness. “Blown off its hinges. It’s the only way in.”

Rose nodded. “I’ll go first.”

“Like hell you will,” Hugo hissed, darting away into the night before Rose could stop him, shaking her head at his moment of chivalry. If he ended up dead, she’d never forgive herself. She took a deep breath and plunged into the darkness after him.

Hugo was crouched just inside what used to be the back door, and Rose joined him. They were in a narrow hall, and she paused, listening to the voices that floated through the dust towards them.

“This way,” she indicated, moving away, Hugo following. Rose couldn’t hear his breathing and wondered if he was holding her breath, like she was. She stopped again in the hall, outside what she imagined must have been a bedroom. She could hear Selina talking again, her voice too low to make out words, and Rose waited until footsteps passed the open doorway before sticking her head around and swiftly withdrawing it.

“Did you see Malfoy?” Hugo mouthed. Rose could just see his lips in the dark and she nodded. Scorpius was pinned against the wall, held there by what Rose assumed were the legs of a chair, or the transfigured metal frame of a bed. All the furniture in the room was broken and tossed around like dolls.

Someone coughed, and then they heard Scorpius’ voice.

“Selina, this is madness.”

“Madness?” she repeated, her laughter light and airy. “Perhaps. But what is madness but one step from the truth?”

“I don’t understand,” Scorpius answered slowly.

“You will; you already do, more than you know. The dreams came to you first, Scorpius Malfoy, before they came to me and the others and yet...” her voice trailed off, dropping too low for Rose to hear, and Rose wondered who the ‘others’ were. Did Selina mean the other girls? Portia and Penelope? All had connections to Death Eaters.

“Maybe I’m just stronger than you,” Scorpius was saying, and Rose pulled herself back to the moment.

“Wrong answer!”

Rose cringed as Scorpius yelped. “That hurt you lunatic!”

“Shut up, Scorpius,” she whispered, willing him to stop talking. His big mouth was about to get him killed.

“What do you want me to say?” Scorpius muttered.

Rose leant forwards, muscles straining as she tried to see what was happening, preying she would go unnoticed. Selina was standing in the far corner of the room, her eyes following Selina’s movements, her face vacant.

“Say you’ll join us,” Selina breathed, reaching over to run her fingers down Scorpius’ face. “Help us revive His will. Here, in this place, in this place where the Dark Lord was reborn we can start again. Together we can bring back the days of old, of power and chaos and order!”

“We can’t,” Scorpius said gently. “The Dark Lord is gone.”

“But not forgotten,” she snapped, standing up and striding around the room. Dust rose as she stomped, feet heavy, on the old wooden floorboards. “We can make those who have renounced him pay and those who triumphed over him...they will die, of course.”

“I thought we were friends,” Scorpius said softly. “We grew up together, Selina.”

“We are friends,” she purred. “That is why you are here: I want you with me. I want you to stand beside me, to share in the glory.”

Scorpius looked at her sadly. “Why are you doing this?”

Rose felt her stomach tighten as Elspeth proffered an ornate wooden box, much like the one still stashed under Scorpius’ bed; in Selina’s long hand materialised a mask. She held it out to Scorpius, who shook his head.

“What power we would have,’ she whispered, her voice a caress, silken and inviting.

“No.”

“This was your grandfather’s,” she said simply. “I took it, from the Manor. It called to me, sang to me, and I had to have it, but not for me. I stole this for you. Your father was weak, too weak to wear it with honour, but you...” she paused, looking at Scorpius with blazing eyes. “You are strong, in mind and spirit. I know you, Scorpius: I know who you really are. I know your doubts, your fears, your desire to be different from your father,” she paused, taking a deep trembling breath. “This is yours now.” Selina released his arms, the metal groaning as it was forced to relinquish its quarry. Again and again, she held out the mask and again and again, Scorpius shook his head.

Selina dropped her voice and took out her wand. Rose watched as Scorpius stiffened, flattening himself against the wall. Selina spoke again and held out the mask once more. This time Scorpius reached for it.

“No,” Rose whispered. Even from the distance, she could see his hands tremble as he lifted the mask and fit it to his face. It was her dream become flesh, the nightmare become real and unable to remain silent, Rose shook off her brother’s hand and stepped into the room. “This is wrong, Selina.”

Selina laughed with delight at the sight of Rose and Hugo, who had come to stand with his sister. “Excellent; target practice. Where better to start than with a pair of filthy half-breeds?” Before Rose could think, she had been disarmed, her brother too, and Elspeth advanced on them, both their wands held in her spare hand. Rose watched as Hugo was bound, ropes shooting from the tip of Elspeth’s wand. He struggled against them but they held firm.

Rose stood her ground, tearing her eyes away from Hugo. “What are you going to do to us?”

Selina turned to Scorpius. “Bring her to me,” she commanded. She flicked her wand and he was free, climbing to his feet on steady legs, his features obscured by the ghastly mask that sat proud and so painfully real on his face.

When he looked at her, Rose sucked in a breath. His eyes behind the mask were wild, deranged, and she felt a spark of fear as he came towards her. She stumbled, falling backwards, her head smashing against the floor. As she blinked the stars from her vision, Scorpius straddled her, binding her hands above her head with a low muttered incarcerous. Rose bucked against his weight but he tightened his knees around her.

“If you hurt her, Malfoy, I’ll kill you, you understand,” Hugo was yelling. Rose heard a yelp and Elspeth’s throaty laugh.

“Scorpius, please, you’re better than this,” Rose whispered.

“Sssh,” he whispered tenderly, stroking the side of her face. His fingers were soft and gentle but Rose was terrified of what they would do to her. He was strong, she knew that, and without her wand, she was completely vulnerable.

“Please, please, don’t,” Rose choked out as his hand moved to her throat. His fingers tightened slightly and she gasped and coughed, her eyes wide.

He smiled. “Such a delicate thing, the neck; so strong and yet so easily broken. I wonder what it would be like, to break your neck, Rose. Should we find out?”

“You don’t want to do this,” she rasped, throat thick.

“Maybe I do,” he said lightly, trailing a finger down her cheek. “Maybe this is what I need to do – to be the man my father couldn’t. To step out of his shadow and have the power he only dreamed of. Wasn’t it you who told me I needed to do that?”

Rose swallowed a sob. “Those days are over. Your father made the right decision and you know it.” She felt a tear leak from her eye and roll silkily down her cheek. “Don’t do this, please.” She repeated her words, continued to murmur them like a mantra until, at last, he shook his head slightly, his eyes clearing. Rose swallowed, trying to sit up, but he pushed her down, holding her firm with a steady hand. “Scorpius...”

He smiled slowly, and winked. Selina was hovering somewhere in the background, and called out to him.

“Trust me,” Scorpius mouthed, and very slightly, Rose nodded. Hugo was bellowing like a wounded bull and she wished she could tell him it was alright, but there was no way of communicating with him. Scorpius climbed to his feet, reaching down to haul Rose upright. He flung her over his shoulder effortlessly; to anyone watching, his treatment of her would have seemed rough, brutal almost, but the hands that lifted her were delicate and soft, and when he dropped her to the ground at Selina’s feet, he made sure he was gentle.

“Excellent,” Selina breathed, chest heaving. She had her hand over her heart and up close, Rose could see her brow was sweaty, her pupils dilated and her eyes blazing with fanatical fire. “You know what to do next. You need to prove your loyalty.”

“How?” Scorpius mused, pretending to consider it.

“Torture her; crucio her,” Selina hissed. Rose whimpered, her eyes on Scorpius. She trusted him, she was certain of that, but she wondered also how far he would have to take things to catch Selina off guard. She wondered how long it would be until the Auror’s arrived; surely they must know they were here by now?

Scorpius smiled. “I’ve never hurt a girl before,” he said softly, his voice caressing, like silk. He stepped closer, his wand at the ready, and Selina followed, drawn forward by her warped desire to see pain and suffering. Hugo was quiet in the background and Rose hoped he was okay. “But I guess there is a first time for everything,” Scorpius continued, his eyes on Rose. She shrank back from him, unable to prevent herself from doing so.

Scorpius twisted so quickly it was frightening: his fist swung through the air and Selina crumpled like paper at his feet, not uttering a sound. Elspeth shrieked with rage and Scorpius turned his wand on her, Stunning her before she could react. He reached up and ripped the mask from his face, tossing it aside like it was a poisonous beast that could bite. Rose breathed a sigh of relief, her muscles turning to liquid, all tension fleeing her body.

He bent and gathered Rose in his arms, kissing her on the mouth, his hands fluttering to her throat and face. “Are you okay? I’m so sorry, Rose. I never meant to -”

“I’m fine,” she said quickly, her voice thick with emotion. Once he had unbound her, they found Hugo, unharmed but unconscious, lying in a heap near Elspeth’s body. Rose lifted her brother’s head into her lap, stroking the hair back from his forehead and together, they waited for the Auror’s.



Chapter title from the song, Putting the Damage On, by Tori Amos

edited 9.1.11 for typos


Chapter 13: In my hand there's a pulse of my beating heart
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Chapter 13
In my hand there’s a pulse of my beating heart



When her father arrived, dawn was breaking and Hugo was conscious. Rose still cradled his head in her lap, her spare hand gripped tightly in Scorpius’. She could see her father was torn between his desire to do his job and to gather both his children in his arms. She managed a weak smile, amazed to realise it was morning.

“We’re okay, Dad.”

Ron bent and looked searchingly at his daughter’s face. His brow furrowed and he reached up to gently touch her throat. “Where did those marks come from?”

Rose swallowed, not knowing what to say. Everything was still a blur, a whirlwind, and it was Scoprius who spoke.

“From me.”

“But he didn’t mean it,” Rose cut in, alarmed at the look that crossed her father’s face. He swore under his breath and Rose cried out as he lunged across her towards Scorpius. Hugo groaned, rolling to one side to avoid being squashed and Rose grabbed at her father’s arm. She vaguely noted Harry was there, his wand held firmly as he examined Selina and Elspeth. Scorpius had kept them unconscious, lying where they had fallen, and tied them tightly with magical rope.

“You’d better explain yourself, Malfoy,” Ron snapped.

“Dad, no. I’m okay; we’re all okay. We’ll explain in a moment,” Rose said firmly.

Ron’s eyes narrowed. “You’re sure?”

“I’m sure. Let him go, please,” she begged and slowly, Ron released the front of Scorpius’ shirt, sitting back on his heels. The sound of apparition split the air and they all tensed; Rose reached for her wand, only to remember that Elspeth had taken it from her. Ron stood up, lifting his wand high as footsteps hurried through the broken house towards them.

“Put that bloody thing down,” Draco Malfoy snapped, stepping into the growing morning. “Where’s my son?”

“How did you know...” Ron began.

“Your wife. It’s nice to know someone cares enough to keep me informed.”

“I’m fine, Dad,” Scorpius said wearily. Draco crossed the room, bending like Ron had done and looked into his son’s face. Without another word, he pulled Scorpius into his arms and held him tightly. Rose felt tears prick her eyes and she realised she still had hold of Scorpius’ hand. She let go and Scorpius’ arms went around his father, like a child seeking comfort.

“I’m so sorry,” Rose heard Draco whisper. She saw Scorpius tremble, saw his shoulders shake as he sucked in a gulp of air. Harry came forward, Lucius’ Death Eater mask held lightly in his hands.

“Where did this come from?” he asked gently. Draco did not release his son; he merely lifted his head, his gaze moving to Harry’s outstretched hand

“That’s my father’s,” he said in a low voice, his eyes red-rimmed and glassy. “It should be in a locked box under the drawing room floor.”

“Selina had it,” Scorpius explained, his voice rough. “She took it from the Manor before she disappeared. She made me wear it...I had that thing on my face.”

“I see,” Harry said slowly.

“She compelled me; she used the Imperius curse,” Scorpius said shakily. “It was horrible – I was aware of what I was doing, but I was powerless to stop it. That’s how Rose...got hurt,” he mumbled. “Selina wanted me to,” he paused, taking a deep breath, “Kill...”

Ron sucked in a breath of anger and Rose gave him a warning look. Hugo mumbled something and Harry turned to him.

“You need to go to St Mungo’s,” he said firmly and Hugo shook his head, wincing. He had a rather large bruise forming on his forehead and Rose wondered what Elspeth had hit him with.

“I’m alright, a bit dizzy, but I’m alright. I just wanted to say that it isn’t Scorpius’ fault, none of it. Selina is crazy. She wants to bring back the days of Voldemort. She believed she was doing -” Hugo broke off into a fit of coughing.

“She wasn’t herself,” Rose said quietly. “Neither was Elspeth. There was something wrong with them; it was like they were Imperiused, but who would do that?”

Harry looked at Lucius’ mask, still nestled in his hands. “I think I know.”

“My father can’t have compelled anyone,” Draco snapped, “He’s comatose.”

“I know that, Malfoy,” Harry replied calmly. “But this,” he held out the mask, “is somehow connected. I want to take it back to the Ministry, have it examined, maybe get a Curse Breaker to look at it.”

“You think it’s cursed?” Ron asked, coming over to look at the mask with critical eyes.

“Perhaps,” Harry conceded. “Malfoy...”

“Destroy the bloody thing for all I care, Potter. I don’t want it back in my house.”

“If Scorpius was Imperiused, how did he break the compulsion?” Rose asked her Uncle. Harry smiled grimly.

“You were lucky,” he said to Scorpius, though perhaps he was speaking to Rose as well. “Selina was obviously not skilled in the Dark Arts. If she was, you’d still be acting out her will. You have to really mean an Unforgiveable Curse, and be strong enough to maintain it.”

Rose frowned. “Where is Lucinda?”

“We don’t know, but there are people looking for her. Raven will be alright though.”

“What happened to her?” Scorpius breathed.

Draco sighed. “She’s in a coma. Clara found her in her room, at the Manor, at lunch time yesterday. Her mother had come to collect her. She was taken to St Mungo’s but they said it’s not serious.”

“She’d been cursed,” Harry put in and Rose shuddered. “We don’t know who is responsible yet.”

“Come on,” Ron ordered gently. “St Mungo’s for the lot of you; these two will have to be placed under guard,” he indicated Elspeth and Selina.

“Can I just go home?” Scorpius asked quietly. “I want to see my mother.”

Ron gave his children a shrewd look and sighed when he saw their expressions. “I suppose you two are going to refuse medical treatment as well?”

Rose and Hugo both nodded. “Can we go back to the Manor?” they asked in unison. Scorpius reached for Rose’s hand again and she let him take it, not caring who saw or what they thought.

“The Healer’s can come to us, Weasley,” Draco said, a small smile playing at his mouth as he looked between his son and Rose. “Do your job, and Astoria and I will make sure your children are looked after.”

Ron sighed. “Hermione will kill me.”

“I’ll Owl you later, Dad,” Rose whispered, feeling strangely like crying again. She was exhausted. The adrenalin that was flying around her body was making her itchy but at the same time, she felt like she could sleep for days. Harry and Ron set about preparing Selina and Elspeth for disapparition to St Mungo’s. Before they left, Harry returned Rose and Hugo their wands.

“I will need to interview you formally,” he said to Scorpius, “Rose and Hugo as well.”

The three of them nodded and Rose watched as Harry, Ron and their prisoners disappeared. “What will happen to them?” she asked softly.

“I hope they lock them up,” Draco muttered, pulling Scorpius to his feet. Rose shook her head, standing up also, reaching her hand out to her brother.

“I don’t think it will be as simple as that,” she replied, her voice rough. Draco merely shrugged and asked who out of Rose and Hugo was strong enough to Apparate back to the Manor. Rose said she’d do it, slinging her arm around her brother, who closed his eyes and let his head drop awkwardly to her shoulder. Rose kissed his forehead, smiling when he smiled, and spun them around.

The Healers arrived at the Manor in moments; Astoria had placed them on alert and when Draco walked through the front door still supporting Scorpius, she raced forward and flung her arms around them both. Rose was momentarily shocked to hear her sob, feeling a tear slip from her own eye. Astoria stepped back, wiped her eyes and turned to Rose and Hugo, moving forward to embrace them, straining to reach her slender arms around the siblings at the same time.

“I’m glad you’re both safe,” she whispered, before moving away to let the Healers in. After being given a clean bill of health, Hugo was ordered to rest. The Healers declared he had a concussion, but other than that, he would be fine. Rose watched as her brother climbed the stairs, his feet heavy, Scorpius going with him. They both paused at the top, turning to look back at her and she smiled, feeling stiff and tense. She was still so adrenalised and wondered had her parents and Uncle Harry felt like this, all those times they were on the run, and fighting Death Eaters, surviving. Her heart was pounding loudly in her ears, and although her breathing had returned to its normal rhythm, her lungs felt tight and stretched.

Exercise, she decided quickly, I need exercise. She knew she would not be able to sleep while feeling so alive, so she dashed up the stairs and into her room, swapping her crumpled and dirty clothing for her swimsuit. There was, Rose noted with annoyance, a hole in the side of her shirt, and a stain on the backside of her shorts. She tossed the clothes in a pile in the corner of the room, deciding to leave them to her mother. Hermione was brilliant at removing stains and mending things.

The pool was just long enough for laps, and Rose swam hard, pushing her body, feeling her muscles burning with each stroke. Gradually, as she ploughed through the water, she felt the tension easing – felt everything begin to melt away. She stopped when she reached the far end of the pool, touching the bottom and leaning against the wall, breathing deeply and feeling suddenly exhausted.

The sun reached down through the branches above her and she lifted her arm, imagining she could grasp the rays with her hand.

“I used to do that.”

Rose froze. She knew that voice well enough by now; would know it in her sleep. Swallowing, she looked towards the other end of the pool. Scorpius was standing with his arms by his sides. Even from where she was, Rose could see that he was tense.

“Mind if I join you?” His voice was deep and low, but she heard it as clearly as if he had whispered in her ear. She nodded, forcing herself to speak, suddenly feeling chilled.

“You should be resting.”

“So should you.” He smiled, a gentle quirking of his lips, and Rose watched with a deep throbbing hunger as he shed his shirt and slipped into the water. Fear and desire mingled inside her, blending together and beating into the very marrow of her bones. Her heart pounded like a drum, her body shaken by that endless rhythm, that carnal spiral of need that grasped hold of her. The water was up to his shoulders now, and the distance between them suddenly became miles, not metres, and slowly, inexorably, he swam towards her. Dappled light from the sun overhead bounced across the surface of both the water and his skin, painting him with golden shadows. Rose held her breath, mesmerised, as he moved closer to her, his arms cutting smoothly through the water. He did not take his eyes from her face and she swallowed, holding his gaze as he stopped, inches from her.

His hands shot out and came to rest on her waist and Rose was no longer cold – she was boiling, her body aflame. Glancing down, she could see his fingers against her skin. Their bodies glowed beneath the water, both pale as ice. “You saved me,” Scorpius whispered.

“You would have broken that compulsion on your own,” Rose replied. “It was never strong enough.”

“Maybe, but you helped.” He smiled and moved closer, bringing their bodies together. Rose thought her skin would explode she was so tense. “Relax,” he murmured, his fingers stroked lightly, just once, against her lower belly and she wanted to scream.

“I can’t.”

He pulled away a fraction to look at her, his expression worried. “Are you frightened of me? I would never hurt you, Rose, you have to know-”

Rose put her fingers against his lips. “I know, Scorpius. It isn’t that.” She wasn’t frightened of him; she was terrified of herself, of what she was allowing to happen. She was scared of being hurt, of giving in so completely to him. “Why me? There were a hundred women willing to be your wife and you could have had any of them, but...”

He smiled rather sadly. “That’s exactly why I didn’t want any of them, Rose. Don’t you understand? I don’t want someone who likes me for my name, for my father’s money and for the lifestyle I could give them. I want, need, someone who wants me for me, without all of those attachments.” He paused, his expression serious. “Had you have entered, or even applied, for that ridiculous competition, we would not be here, right now, because I would have written you off as just another fortune-seeking superficial witch.”

“I do understand that, but I still don’t understand why you want me.” Her voice was a scratchy whisper that she immediately hated. She had wanted to sound confident, sure of her question but her head was a mess and her insides were quickly turning to liquid. She felt she would float away and dissolve.

“Because,” Scorpius answered; he stepped nearer to her. Only the water separated them now: a flimsy barrier. “You don’t care about those things. Because you seem completely unimpressed by that part of my life, and because you are completely willing to tell me when my behaviour is unacceptable.” He laughed lightly and kissed her before she could respond. “And because you won’t kiss my feet. I don’t need to be treated differently to anyone else, and I hate that I am sometimes.”

“I didn’t realise,” Rose said honestly. “You always acted the role so well.”

“All my life,” he replied rather sadly. “Can I ask you something now?”

“Of course,” Rose whispered, her head spinning. She had never known, in all the years they had been acquainted, that he felt like that, and she realised how wrong her opinions had been. She had been prejudiced.

“What do you expect of me? If this is going to go anywhere at all, I need to know.”

Rose swallowed, and glanced down at the water, thinking, before looking up and into his eyes. “I expect honesty, respect, communication and for you to be yourself. You don’t have to pretend with me, Scorpius; I’d rather see your flaws than have you try to be perfect.”

“I can do that,” he said softly. “All of that.”

“I don’t know you at all,” Rose commented quietly, “But I think I have seen glimpses of who you really are; last night, when you...”

“Tried to kill you?” he supplied, his voice low and tortured.

She shook her head. “When you stood up to them, when Selina...you played her, you played her so well. You could have easily given in and done what she wanted, but you didn’t. It brought us time.” She looked at him admiringly, amazed when he blushed. Laughing, Rose kissed him, throwing her arms around his neck and pulling him close.

“I need to tell you something,” he said quietly, pulling away from her.

“Anything; you can tell me anything,” Rose said.

He took a deep breath. “I cast the Dark Mark; I remember doing it, but it’s like it wasn’t me, or something – like I watched myself do it. I don’t even know how I did it, or whose wand I used. It wasn’t mine – I got Hugo to check.”

“Have you told your father?”

“No,” Scorpius said with a sigh. “How do I tell him that? How do I tell grandmother it was me? I scared the life out of her, Rose.”

Rose reached for his hand, squeezing it gently. “I’m sure, considering everything, they will both understand.”

Scorpius walked with her to her room, and at the door, they both paused, unsure of where the moment was headed. He said nothing, resting his head against the doorframe, watching her. There was worry in his eyes that Rose didn’t want to see so she reached for his hand.

“I need to sleep,” she whispered and he nodded. “Will you stay?”

Scorpius smiled, and she stepped back, allowing him access to the room. He swept her into his arms and kicked the door shut dramatically, making Rose giggle. She made him wait while she had a shower and when she came out, he was already asleep, lying curled up in the middle of the large bed. She stood and looked at him, studied him in the gentle light that snuck through the sheer curtains, before climbing slowly onto the bed, sitting by him, her hands fluttering, unsure of what to do. He looked so peaceful she didn’t want to disturb him. There were still shadows under his eyes, identical to the ones she had just witnessed on her own face, but his skin had colour and his breathing was deep and restful.

She lay herself down beside him, propping herself on her elbow, still watching him. His eyelids fluttered, his eyes moving beneath the lids – his skin was almost transparent there and she reached out a finger and touched one lid gently, smiling. She traced the length of his nose, his cheekbones and jaw. Very slowly, Rose trailed her fingertip along his lips, wanting to kiss him again. She moved down his chin and throat and smoothed her hand, palm flat, across the broadness of his chest. He stirred, one arm reaching and she moved closer, stroking the hair from his forehead.

“You are absolutely delicious, you know that?” she whispered, feeling silly for saying it, bending to plant a kiss on his cheek. His arm tightened around her and she rolled over, letting him pull her close to the warmth of his body. There, Rose drifted into sleep.

When she woke, it was the middle of the afternoon, and Scorpius was gone. She lay in bed a moment, staring up at the white ceiling, wondering what to do now. She tried not to take offence at his absence, figuring he slipped out to shower or see his parents and didn’t wish to disturb her, but her stomach niggled and a little voice started whispering in her brain that she’d been a fool.

“Shut it,” Rose hissed, rolling onto her stomach and burying her face in the pillow. It smelt like him and made her smile. The door clicked open and she lifted her head to see Scorpius step inside the room, a silver tray in his hands. Rose laughed lightly.

“I thought you might be hungry,” he said, setting the tray down on the writing desk. Rose smiled, climbing out of bed and stretching.

“Actually, I am. Thank you.”

Scorpius blushed a little and busied himself with the food. Rose watched him, realising how awkward he seemed and she took over gently, nudging his hands away.

“One step at a time,” she said softly. He stepped back, obviously relieved and conjured an extra chair for himself, sitting down. After they had eaten, Rose sat back, contented.

“So,” Scorpius said, pushing his plate to one side.

Rose smiled. “So.”

“Rose, I...”

She surprised herself, standing up and grabbing his hand, dragging him to her. “Shut up, Scorpius.” She wrapped her arms around him, buried her face in his neck, and waited, her breathing heavy and her chest tight. It took him a split second to catch on; he spun her around and walked them backwards, until her legs bumped against the edge of the bed.

He paused, pulling away, his eyes tracing her face. Reading her. Rose sensed him hesitate, so she pushed herself up and onto the tips of her toes, closing the gap between them. Their lips met and as she slipped her hands beneath his shirt, Rose felt a strange rush of power when he sucked in a breath and leaned into her, his back arching as she dragged her nails slowly down his flesh. Her fingers traced his ribs, the curve of muscle that spread across his bones, so very different from hers. Where he was hard, she was soft; she tugged at his shirt and he ripped it over his head, tossing it away onto the floor somewhere.

She wanted him more than she thought possible. This was not her, this passionate, dizzy creature. Rose felt so far from herself, and the more she contemplated that, the more she decided she liked it. She liked this side of herself; the side she had not known existed. She liked that she could be eager and intense and slightly wild. She also liked that someone else seemed to like it.

It was liberating, and Rose pulled away to watch the way Scorpius’ eyes darkened as he reached for her. This was what it meant to be a woman, this power and heat and naked need. Scorpius turned to liquid beneath her hands, amazing her with the sounds that rose from his throat. He allowed her to explore him, to touch her fingers to his chest, to trace the outline of his collar bone and jaw and to simply look at him. He closed his eyes, his chest rising and falling rapidly.

“You’re over-dressed, Weasley,” he mumbled, eyes still closed. Rose hesitated. It was one thing to admit she liked him and that she wanted him, but it was another to get naked with a boy she had known, and despised, for most of her life. His eyes opened and he grinned at her. “What happened to the woman who wanted to eat me alive?”

“I did not say that,” Rose muttered; in truth, she did want to eat him alive.

“You said I was delicious.” The grin grew wider and Rose’s face grew hotter. “That implies eating.”

“I thought you were asleep,” she whispered, looking away, until he slid his finger beneath her chin and tilted her face up. They stared at one another, his eyes dark as swirling storm clouds, his lips slightly parted. His cheeks were flushed, his hair ruffled at the back and there was a tiny bead of sweat resting on his forehead. Rose reached up and brushed it away with the tip of her finger. Slowly, he leant towards her and her eyes fell closed as he kissed her with an intensity that was frightening. Rose felt her belly swoop low, felt her muscles clench and tighten, and she realised she was not breathing.

“We don’t have to do this yet.” His lips were fire on her skin.

“Do you want to?”

“Do you?” He waited, and when she didn’t say anything, when her body went to mush, all muscle pooling together in one relaxed puddle beneath her skin, she folded into him.

Rose wasn’t sure how long they laid there, wrapped around one another, but she didn’t care. She felt like fire in his hands and she didn’t want it to end. She wanted the moment to continue, to burn until she was nothing but ash.

Neither of them heard the door swing open.

“Hey, Rose, mum and dad...woah!”

They both froze. She could hear his heart beating over the roaring in her ears and she slowly turned her head. Hugo stood open-mouthed in the doorway.

“Hugo!” Rose screeched, glad she wasn’t naked. “Don’t you bloody knock? Get out!”

“You have terrible timing,” Scorpius said calmly, tossing a pillow at Hugo, who blinked and backed quickly out of the room. The fire in Rose’s body had morphed from lust to deep embarrassment. She closed her eyes, wanting to disappear.

“Yeah, well, mum and dad are here, so you’d better...hurry up, or finish up, or...whatever, and get downstairs,” Hugo said through the door. “You don’t want them coming looking for you, especially not when-”

“Alright!” Rose shouted. “Just get lost. We’ll be down in ten minutes.”

They heard Hugo sigh from behind the door. “I know I said I was okay with this relationship but I don’t know if I’m okay with you having sex with my sister; that might take a bit of getting used...”

“Go. Away,” Scorpius growled. Rose smiled and nudged him and he sat up, taking his wonderful heat with him. They listened to Hugo’s footsteps fading away.

“I hate my brother,” she said, reaching out to touch a finger to Scorpius’ hip. She stroked slowly from hip to hip, watching as his eyes fell closed and smiling when he groaned. She hooked her finger under the edge of his pants. “He ruins everything.”

“I know,” Scorpius said weakly. “Rose...don’t do that, please.”

She giggled; his eyes snapped open and he winked and climbed off the bed. Rose watched him dress, not wanting to stop looking at him. He held out his hand and she took it, letting him pull her to her feet where he handed her her clothes. “Let’s go see your parents.”

There was something about the way he said it, slightly nervous and hesitant and courageous all at once, that made Rose smile. “What are you thinking?”

“That I need to make an honest woman out of you, Rose Weasley,” he replied, reaching out and buttoning her shirt for her.

The world suddenly dissolved; Rose backed away a step.

He frowned, and then laughed loudly. “I just meant we should enlighten them; before Hugo does, at least.”

Rose cursed, and strode from the room.



Chapter title from the song, UFO by Sneaky Sound System
this is the second last chapter guys!!


Chapter 14: So it ends so it begins
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Chapter 14
So it ends so it begins


Rose found her parents in the drawing room, with Draco and Astoria. Hugo was already there, lounging in one of the Malfoy’s exquisite chairs, a glass of something amber in his hand. He winked and wiggled his eyebrows and Rose burnt from her toes to the top of her head; she wanted to throttle him.

“Should you be drinking when you have a concussion?”

“I’m all better now,” he responded.

“I can fix that,” she threatened.

“Oh Rose, you silly, brave girl.” Hermione raced across the room and folded Rose close to her chest; Rose let her. “You could have been killed, you and Hugo. What were you thinking?”

“I don’t know, mum,” Rose muttered. “I’m sorry.” Rose turned from her mother and hugged her father, who looked at her face searchingly for a long moment, before nodding in satisfaction. His eyes lingered briefly on the marks on her throat – Rose had not thought about removing them – but he said nothing.

“Dinner is ready,” Astoria said with a gentle smile, indicating the table. Rose hadn’t even noticed the house elves bringing in the food, or even smelt it her head was so filled with Scorpius.

Hugo sprang up from his chair. “I’m starving!”

“You always are,” Hermione said tightly, embarrassed, Rose knew, by her son’s trait of consuming everything in sight. It didn’t seem to matter that the Malfoy’s considered Hugo part of the furniture; they were used to him, that was evident. Rose had seen it throughout their stay in the Manor. She moved away from her parents and sat, taking the seat to Scorpius’ right; Hugo took the left.

Rose picked at her food, listening to the conversation flowing around her. Words washed over her ears, and it wasn’t until her mother mentioned Lucinda did Rose choose to listen.

“They found her?”

Ron nodded. “Wandering around Hogsmeade, yesterday. She was dazed and confused and didn’t know where she was. She is in St Mungo’s with the others. Heidi is doing well and Isobelle has been sent home. Raven is still in a coma, but the Healers say she is in no danger – it is just a matter of waiting for her to wake up. Lucinda has claimed responsibility for cursing her, although she can only vaguely remember it, like she was watching it happen from outside her body.”

“Anyway, she isn’t a Parker at all,” Hermione said, sipping her wine. “She’s Parkinson.”

Draco’s eyebrows lifted. “Pansy’s brat? Who’s the father?”

“Some Italian wizard Pansy met through work,” Hermione said. “With no connection to Voldemort, I might add. Apparently, Pansy wanted Lucinda to marry Scorpius for her own means. You know she’s been...rather ostracised...since school and she wanted her way back into society. And, I think, it was a way of getting a small slice of revenge on you, Draco.”

“She was never too bright,” Draco sighed.

“But how is Lucinda linked to the whole episode?” Astoria asked, leaning forward. “I don’t understand how she could be involved – Selina and Elspeth yes, considering their family history, but Lucinda? Pansy was never a Death Eater.”

“No, but she was a sympathiser, right until the end, and after, if rumour is to be believed. That poor girl was probably brought up on a diet of delusion and warped history,” Ron said with a shake of his head.

“You can’t know that,” Rose argued. “Lucinda was a nice person. Maybe, she just got confused about what was right and what was wrong, like so many people do.”

“Perhaps. There will be a hearing – the Wizengamot will examine her, and Selina and Elspeth too, and we will see what proceeds from there,” Hermione said gently. “Elspeth has admitted to Stunning Isobelle, but she can’t remember why she did it. She claims she dreamt it, which, considering what has happened with Scorpius, is highly possible. Selina has a little memory of what happened last night, in Little Hangleton, but neither of them remembers the graffiti.”

“What about the Mark?” Hugo asked between mouthfuls. Rose snuck a glance at Scorpius, but before he could say anything, Ron was speaking again.

“It seems it was cast from Raven’s wand, but as the girl is unconscious, we can’t-”

“It was me,” Scorpius announced in a firm voice. “I remember it now, but vaguely – it’s just like Selina said: it’s like watching a dream.” He glanced quickly around the table, settling on his parents. Rose watched curiously as Draco rubbed absently at his forearm. She saw Scorpius swallow, his eyes following his father’s action. “I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“It wasn’t your fault, sweetheart,” Astoria said, reaching over to grab his hand. “And it’s over now. We can get on with our lives.”

Draco gave his son a fond look, before frowning. “Did Potter discover anything about my father’s mask?”

“It seems it was just a mask, Malfoy. Just a relic of the past, nothing more. There is so much associated with it I suppose that is a curse in itself,” Ron said. “In the end, the mask was nothing but a prop – it was Selina’s compulsion of Scorpius that made him act like he did in the end, nothing more. Lucius’ dreams were obviously involved, of course but I’m buggered if I know how.”

Hermione sighed. “I don’t think we will fully understand what happened here. We don’t know how the old magic works properly. If Lucius wanted to reach his grandson, perhaps the only way was through Scorpius’ dreams.”

“Maybe he was trying to tell you something,” Hugo said to Scorpius.

“Wish he’d written me a letter,” Scorpius muttered.

“Maybe he wanted to show you what it was like, so that his mistakes are not repeated, in any form,” Rose said softly. “But there was so much to share that it affected others as well, others like you, with horrible things in their family history. They chose to hear the message differently, that’s all.”

Draco looked at her in surprise and Rose wondered if she’d spoken out of line. He sipped his wine, his eyes appraising her over the rim of his glass. “That is quite possible, Rose. My father was indeed remorseful for his past acts.”

“What about Melody?” Astoria asked.

Ron laughed. “Melody. That girl has no connection to Death Eaters – she is, to put it simply, a nutter. She was that intent on winning this contest she was willing to do whatever it took. She had plans to bump everyone off one by one. She will be charged with attempted murder, and will no doubt spend some time locked up.” He looked at Scorpius, eyebrows raised. “You must be something, mate, if a girl is willing to go that far.”

“It appears so,” Scorpius muttered, looking at his plate.

Astoria shook her blonde head delicately. “I told you it was a bad idea, Draco.”

“At least I get to keep my thousand galleons and don’t have to pay for an over-the-top wedding,” Draco said.

Scorpius cleared his throat. “Actually, now that everyone is here, I want to tell you I’ve chosen a winner.”

“Darling, you don’t have to,” Astoria said, turning to her husband. “There is no pressure, is there, Draco?”

“None at all,” Draco replied. “I don’t think I could have handled having any of that lot in my house a moment longer. Were they really the best on offer, Scorpius?”

Scorpius smiled. “The best didn’t even apply.”

Rose swallowed nervously as he reached for her fingers, lying limp beside her glass. Every set of eyes in the room watched as Scorpius lifted her hand to his lips and kissed it; Rose heard her mother’s intake of breath, heard her father drop his fork, heard Hugo’s gagging noise, Astoria’s knowing chuckle and Draco’s sigh.

“Just what I need: another Weasley moving in.”

Everyone ignored him. Rose lifted her eyes from her plate, and glanced at her parents. Hermione was pale, shocked; her father was so still he may have been Petrified.

“Someone, say something, please,” she tried to joke, but her voice was strangled. She felt Scorpius’ hand tighten on hers and she knew he was as nervous as she was. Not that she thought her parents would object and tell her the relationship was forbidden – she was an adult and that was not their right – but she didn’t wish for things to be uneasy. She was already dreading facing Roxanne.

Hermione cleared her throat awkwardly. “Well,” she breathed, blinking away her shock. “This is a surprise...”

“Are you kidding?” Hugo laughed. “I knew this would happen.”

“You did not!” Rose remarked, leaning across Scorpius to glare at her brother, who shrugged.

“Well, okay, not exactly, but I knew once you two stopped snarling at one another and actually talked a bit you’d work it out,” Hugo replied. “And what’s a near death experience for but to bring people together?”

A strange sound came from the other side of the table. Rose looked at her father, worried he was choking on something; anger perhaps. His mouth was still open and his eyes wide. He pointed his knife in Scorpius’ direction and then at Rose. “You’re pregnant, aren’t you?” he accused. Thick silence fell and Rose could think of nothing to say in the face of such a left-field allegation. Hugo started laughing, doing absolutely nothing to cover up his amusement. Rose let her eyes travel the length of the table. Draco and Astoria were watching her, the latter with her hand over her mouth to suppress her mirth.

“No I am not,” Rose said firmly, turning back to her unfortunate father. Her cheeks were blazing. “In case you’ve forgotten, dad, you need to have sex to get pregnant and we have not been having any sex!”

“Not yet,” Hugo said, “You’re lucky you didn’t see what...”

“Shut up!” Rose snarled. She was absolutely mortified. Scorpius was trying not to laugh but Draco wasn’t even trying. Rose had never heard him laugh, but now, he was sitting back in his chair casually, mouth open, his eyes alight, and his hands over his stomach.

“Please, by all means, continue,” he snickered. “I’ve not been this amused in a long time. Are meals with your family always this exciting? Granger, I’m waiting for a dinner invitation because we should do this more often.”

“Draco,” Astoria warned. “Don’t be rude.”

Rose glared at her father, whose face had turned a deep red. “I was just checking,” Ron mumbled. Hermione sighed and shook her head, a long suffering action that Rose knew that came from having a husband who spoke first and thought later.

“Are you sure this is what you want?” Astoria asked, her eyes bright, her question addressed to Rose and Scorpius.

“Yes,” Scorpius said.

“Rose?” Hermione asked softly.

Rose looked at Scorpius, sitting so pale and still beside her. There was a little frown between his eyes and she reached across and smoothed it away with her spare hand. He smiled and Rose smiled in return.

“I’m sure,” she said.





3 months later


“France or Spain, Rose?”

“Why?” Rose smiled. “Is Hugo moving?”

“Funny,” her brother snapped. He had, Rose noticed, been feeling a little put out and Rose didn’t really blame him. She had, after all, stolen Scorpius from him. To make up for it, she included her little brother in as many things as possible. Scorpius also sensed that Hugo was sulking and had found himself stretched on occasion, between spending time with Rose and making time for Hugo.

“No, we’re going on holiday.” Scorpius stretched, sliding his arm around her shoulder. Rose could not help but feel the animosity of Roxanne’s gaze and did her best to ignore it. Generally, the family had been pleased, stunned but pleased, happy that she was happy, but Rose knew there was still a major bridge to be mended. A week after Roxanne left the Manor Rose had gone to see her at her home in Hogsmeade. She had been greeted with a frosty glare and had barely gotten the words, ‘Scorpius and I,’ out before Roxanne had slammed the door in her face.

Fred told her not to worry about it, his sister was just sulking and she’ll get over it. Rose wasn’t too sure. Today, the monthly Weasley family luncheon, was the first time she had seen Roxanne in almost five weeks, and they hadn’t spoken much since their argument at Malfoy Manor.

Louis laughed at Hugo’s face. “Do you really want to be tagging along, Hugo? I’m sure they’ll just be making eyes at one another and snogging all the time. I’ve seen enough of that sort of behaviour to last me a lifetime.”

“We do not make eyes,” Rose said. Lucy and Lily dissolved into fits of giggles.

“You do,” they said in unison. “All the time.”

“It’s rather sickening, actually,” Albus put in. “No offence, Scorpius.”

“None taken,” Scorpius replied with a grin. She supposed hanging around with Hugo for so long had prepared him for her family.

It was almost Autumn – the leaves would start to turn from green to yellow, deepening later in the season to oranges and reds and finally, to brown, when they would tumble haphazardly from their branches to litter the ground. Rose did not like the cold and had complained to Scorpius, whose solution, it seemed, was to go somewhere sunny. Not that Rose minded – being with Scorpius did indeed have its perks. She had never eaten at so many up-market restaurants, or owned so much jewellery. Astoria seemed to insist on buying Rose jewellery, even though she barely wore any. Scorpius told her to just accept it and let his mother spoil her. Buying people things was Astoria’s way of showing affection, he said.

Rose had also managed, in the months they had been together, to teach Scorpius how to cook and how to drive. The cooking he didn’t really care about but the driving he loved. He also loved her flat – he loved that it was just big enough and that no space was wasted. He liked the view of the city from her window and the early morning sounds of the street below. Rose had been nervous about him seeing her flat for the first time but he had simply smiled and declared it must feel like freedom.

Scorpius, in turn, had taught Rose how to relax. She no longer worried if she was one minute late getting to work, or if she hadn’t gotten out of bed by eight on a weekend morning. She didn’t care if there were dishes in the sink at night or if she left a towel on the bathroom floor. She laughed more, she smiled more and she had him to thank for that.

Lucius Malfoy had passed away a month earlier; Rose and her immediate family had attended the funeral, which was small and dignified. Teddy and his elderly grandmother, Andromeda, had also attended, the latter supporting her younger sister through the service. Rose had almost forgotten Teddy and Scorpius were cousins; they’d never had much of a relationship, but she hoped that would change.

Selina, Elspeth and Lucinda had all faced the Wizengamot and had all been let off without charge. Rose was glad – none of them were malicious people, and she was pleased they were not going to have their lives turned inside out for something they had no control over. Melody, on the other hand, was due for a stay in Azkhaban.

Rose looked down the table, shading her eyes from the sun and watched Teddy and Victoire. They had announced on their arrival that Victoire was pregnant, and now all near them were bathed in her impending motherhood. She glowed, her face radiant and her hair gleaming. Dominique had received the news well, and Rose supposed she was finally taking steps to rid herself of her love for Teddy. She had brought a date to lunch, some quidditch player who was remotely famous. Rose had forgotten his name already.

“Anyway,” Hugo said, his voice bringing her back to the present moment. “I couldn’t go on holiday at the moment. I’m going to be much too busy.”

“Doing what?” James remarked. “Your hair?”

“I got a job,” Hugo said, loud enough for those at the other end of the table to hear. Hugo smiled his cat-like smile, now that he had everyone’s attention. “Yes, it’s a very important position. I’m going to be working in publicity. Seems my employer thinks I have a way with words.”

Rose just stared at him, open-mouthed, as did most of the family.

“Who on earth was mad enough to give you a job?” Fred asked. “They must be a complete nutter.”

“He’s a very important man, actually,” Hugo replied. “He runs his own charity business, and sits on the board of many organisations.”

“Who?” everyone asked, voices ringing. “Where?”

“The Alabastor Peacock Foundation.” Hugo sat up straight, puffing out his chest.

Scorpius burst out laughing, startling everyone. “You’re working for my father?

“Yeah, well, he decided he may as well put me to work,” Hugo said with a shrug. “He called it bed and board money.”

After the laughter had died down, Rose went inside to offer her help to her grandmother, who shooed her out of the kitchen immediately. Dismissed, Rose wandered around the lower floor of the house for a bit, looking at the photographs that were crammed on every surface possible and tacked to every spare part of wall. She loved looking at the ones of her father and his siblings when they were children. There was such innocence in their eyes, which had gone now, due to the war and the simple act of growing up.

She headed down the hall towards the kitchen, when the closet under the stairs opened and an arm shot out. She was dragged quickly into the darkness and folded in a familiar pair of arms.

“Scorpius, what are we, fifteen?” she giggled as he kissed her throat. Rose was amazed at how much her body still burned and her blood sang when she was with him. When they first declared themselves a couple, they were glued together so much people gave up trying to find either of them alone. Victoire had called it the honeymoon period, warning Rose that it would fade and they would see each other’s ugly sides soon enough. So Rose waited, expected it, and when it didn’t happen, when her desire and her need to simply be with him didn’t slip away, she told Victoire she was wrong. Scorpius had done as she asked and not tried to hide any of himself from her. She knew him completely.

Several quick minutes later Rose was partially undressed and slick with sweat. He had always known how to touch her, like his hands were made for her body, his lips made for hers and never had they had an awkward moment. Everything just worked. It was effortless.

Someone tapped lightly on the door as she was removing Scorpius’ shirt.

“Rose?”

“Oh god, its Uncle Bill,” she whispered, scrambling for her clothes.

“I know you’re in there; everyone does. You’re not the first people to duck in for a quick snog. Listen, lunch will be on the table in ten minutes,” he said through the door. Rose could hear the laughter in his voice and her face burned.

“Okay,” she managed to squeak, mortally embarrassed.

“And Scorpius, a word of advice,” Bill went on, snickering openly now. “Make sure your shirt is the right way around and your trousers are done up properly. You need to keep some propriety about you in these moments. And do your hair. You don’t want to make it too obvious.”

“Sure thing,” Scorpius grinned. Rose buried her face in his chest, listening as Bill walked away. “I like your uncle,” Scorpius whispered, tipping her face up and finding her lips in the darkness. “We’ve still got ten minutes.”




Chapter title from the song, Father’s Son, by Tori Amos.

There it is. The end. What started as a short story quickly morphed into a novel. I have no idea how that happened. Thank you for reading and I really hope you all enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I am overwhelmed at how much support this fic got – I could never have predicted that so thank you all again!!

Title credit for The Alabastor Peacock Foundation goes to Tydeman’s on TGS. Thank you!


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