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Scorpius watched the retreating backs of Robyn and Al before turning back to Rose. “I’m sorry.”

Rose, still fuming at Robyn, was at a loss for why Scorpius would be sorry so she asked “What are you sorry for?”

Scorpius looked sad when he said “I have either said something or done something to upset you.”

“You have not done anything wrong; why would you say that.”

“Observation 101” Scorpius said feeling a little better “Before you came over to see me you were happy and smiling. Then after you met me you became stiff, nervous and you have to admit you do wear your feelings on your face.” Rose blushed even harder, proving Scorpius’s point.

“I can honestly say that any stiffness or nervousness was not your fault. When you read about a blonde Hogwarts student found murdered just remember it was justified.” Rose said glaring at Robyn dancing with Al. Scorpius was about to say something when Rose seemed to gag. Scorpius looked back at Robyn and Al under the mistletoe and whistled. Rose also noted a couple of flashes going off and smiled; Robyn and Al would not live that down anytime in the future. She knew it would make the social pages of tomorrow’s Prophet. If it was a slow news day, it may even make the front page. Rose smiled at Scorpius and said “Suddenly I feel much better.”

“That is good” said Scorpius “Because I have a big favour to ask of you.”

Rose waited for several seconds but Scorpius didn’t seem inclined to talk. “You know you have to actually ask me the favour before I can answer.”

Scorpius would not meet her eyes when he said “I want you to come over and meet my parents and I want to meet yours.” Rose immediately knew what Scorpius meant. In all the years they had been friends they had never been formally introduced to each others parents. This morning was a perfect example; Rose had been in the same room as Scorpius’s parents and they had spoken about her but never to her. Rose looked over at Draco, Astoria and her father standing near each other in strained silence. Rose scanned the floor and soon found her mother still standing where they had left her. Rose waved her over as she and Scorpius turned to face his parents. When Hermione arrived Scorpius said “Mother, father I would like to introduce Rose Weasley; my very good friend from Hogwarts.”

Not to be out done Rose continued Scorpius’s introduction without waiting for Draco and Astoria to acknowledge the introduction “And mum and dad this is my knight in shining armour, Scorpius Malfoy.”

Ron approached Scorpius and held out his hand. When Scorpius took it Ron said “I don’t believe that I have actually told you directly how thankful I am towards you. You did a brave and noble thing for which I will forever be in your debt. If you ever need any thing from me all you need to do is ask.”

At the same time Draco had stridden over to Rose took her hand, bowed slightly and kissed the back of her hand. “I have already told Scorpius that I am happy to accept you as a friend of my son and you are welcome at my house anytime you wish. I do, however, apologize that your father and I will never be anything more adversaries; there is too much antipathy for us to change.”

Ron had let go of Scorpius’s hand and turned to face Draco. “Actually that is what I am trying to change. Hermione has been trying to showing me different ways of thinking so I can change the way I see people.” Glancing at Hermione Ron continued “I will probable say this wrong but the meaning is clear; you are a mirror to me; what I dislike in you is actually what I dislike in myself. I hate your pureblood ideas, they caused you to do things I don’t like but that just means that I dislike the fact that I also am guilty of judging people like you based on their family heritage. Realizing this and asking Scorpius to be a friend is my first small step to changing myself.” Ron now had a real smile for Draco, “You Draco will be a much bigger second step.” 

Astoria turned to Hermione “What are these different ways of thinking Ron was talking about.” Hermione was now in her element, answering questions and sharing knowledge. “Well it was the Minister who started me thinking about different ways of looking at a situation so I looked at the various philosophies. I started with western ideas like Eckhart Tolle but soon included some of the eastern way of thinking. The reference Ron tried to quote is a concept I come across in my study of Tao.”

Draco interrupted “What! Weas . . . Ron is becoming a Taoist monk.”

“Actually that is a common mistake” Hermione replied; “Taoism is a religion that follows the teachings of Tao. Just as Buddhism and other eastern religions also follow the same Tao teachings. But Tao it self is not a religion; it is hard to explain but Tao is more a life style or a way of living your life that will help you find your true self or your true heart. It is a bit like behaving as a good Christian should with out believing in Christ.” Astoria’s Ravenclaw thirst for knowledge and Hermione desire to teach soon had the ladies moving towards one of the tables to continue their discussion. Draco took the disruption as a chance to mingle with the others at the party to increase and improve his contact network. Ron feeling like a third wheel also excused himself and walked over to where Harry and Ginny were standing.

Scorpius bowed to Rose “Would you care to dance?” They moved out on to the crowded dance floor and started to dance. All the while Scorpius kept an eye out for the floating mistletoe; the last thing he needed at this time was to be forced, by tradition, to kiss Rose. In a similar fashion Rose also was avoiding the mistletoe; she wanted to be kissed but deep down inside her she did not think she was ready to be kissed like Al and Robyn were kissing. The end result was that Rose and Scorpius would be dancing until one or the other would suddenly change direction forcing the other to follow. In this way; whether consciously or subconsciously they moved each other so that they never found themselves under the mistletoe. During one of the slow dances, where Rose and Scorpius were just standing together swaying to the music, Robyn and Al came over and suggested they sit and have something to eat. Reluctantly Rose and Scorpius moved apart and followed Al over to one of the tables. Almost immediately the four of them fell into easy conversations. Scorpius looked around at the group and smiled; something Rose noted.

“What so amusing” she asked drawing the others attention to Scorpius.

Still smiling Scorpius said “I was just thinking that if CL was here then we would have every house sitting at one table as friends and talking. We might as well be all in one house.”

Rose felt a very cold shiver run down her back, in a far away voice she said “You fit into all houses yet you fit into none.”

Now they all looked at Rose. Al spoke first “What did you say?”

Rose seemed to realize where she was and said “Oh! I was just remembering something I heard once. It’s not important.” Too distract them all Rose stood up and grabbed Robyn’s hand. “Come on I need to go to the loo.” Al and Scorpius exchanged looks and chattered between them about girl’s inability to use a toilet by themselves. They always seemed to go as a group.

When Rose and Robyn got to the toilet together Robyn made comment on the fact that Rose and Scorpius never got caught under the mistletoe. Rose said “I am not sure what I want. I know it irritated me when he did not kiss me just before Christmas but I am not sure what I would do if he did.”

Robyn tried to lighten the mood by jokingly reminding Rose she didn’t know what she wanted when Scorpius didn’t kiss her the last time. It didn’t work Rose just got more stressed.

“That’s exactly what I mean. I want it and I don’t want it at the same time. Intellectual I know what I want, in my mind I am ready to move on but emotional I just aren’t sure if I am ready to commit to another relationship. I want to be kissed but in a gentle chaste way not in a hot passionate way.”

Rose thought she was sounding pathetic so she tried to laugh it off. “Besides I don’t want to compete with you for the front page of the Prophet.”

When Robyn look confused Rose took great pleasure in telling her that everyone had seen the very hot kiss she and Al had shared. “I even saw a few photos being taken. So I am sure that you will be the talk of Hogwarts by the time we get back.”

The look on Robyn’s face was priceless; it was a cross between delight and anguish. Rose could not resist one last dig at Robyn. “Though I bet Al will be strutting around the halls boasting about his irresistible animal magnetism and his abilities at attracting formally unreachable girls.”

They both laughed at the image as they were returning to where they left the boys. Rose had also decided that she needed to talk to Cate about her . . . fear, yes that was the right word; of being passionately kissed.

When they had reseated themselves Robyn reached across the table and took Al’s hand in hers. She then very seriously said “Al I think you have gotten me into trouble.”

“I couldn’t have . . . we never . . . You know.” At the scared look on Al’s face both the girls lost all composure and burst out laughing.

Eventually Robyn was able to explain, “Sorry I did not mean it that way. I meant that photographers from the Profit have pictures of us kissing on the dance floor and by the time we get back to school everyone is going to have seen it.” After the shock Al had just suffered this did not seem like anything to worry about.

“So what? It’s not like we have been trying to keep anything secret. I am sure most of them know we have kissed before.”

Rose saw that Al didn’t realized the full implications so she turned to Scorpius and said “You tell him what you thought when you saw them kissing.”

Scorpius tried to get out of the conversation with the old line “A gentleman does not discuss those types of things.” Unfortunately for him Rose wouldn’t allow that.

Finally Scorpius said “Al that wasn’t just a kiss; it was mind blowing. Everyone who saw you were completely stunned.” Scorpius searched around for the right words “It was sex with clothes on.”

Al still did not seem too concerned so Rose played her trump card “Just think what your life will be like once James sees the photo.”

Now Al went white “Oh shit!”

As there was nothing they could do about the past the four friends spent the rest of the night enjoying then selves. They were either dancing or sit at the table talking.  On one occasion Robyn had them all circulate around the party introducing them selves to all the important looking people there. As she had pointed out, they were in their second last year at school and it would not hurt to make a few contacts within the Ministry. Besides it was good practice at socializing and network building. At midnight Scorpius asked Rose if they could sit for a moment. He then called out for Al and Robyn to join them. Scorpius stood while the rest of the group sat. “It may have escaped your notice that as of ten minutes ago it is officially Christmas.” Scorpius stated in a very formal voice. “And as such it is my duty and pleasure to bestow the first presents upon these most beautiful maidens that have been my companions this evening.”

All three started to talk at once but it was Al’s voice that was the loudest. “Ewww, Scorpius that was the most sickening suck up I have ever heard.”

Both Robyn and Rose turned to Al and hit him. Robyn added “If that’s what you think then you won’t be getting another kiss from me.” Scorpius produced the two presents with a wave of his wand and offered them to Rose and Robyn. Rose immediately tore away the paper and opened the box.

When she saw the necklace she threw her arms around Scorpius and said into his ear “It is absolutely beautiful. Thank you.” As she lifted it out of the box the hands holding the pearl open as if presenting it to Rose as a gift. Rose gave the necklace to Scorpius and turned around “Please put it on for me.” With trembling hands Scorpius undid the clasp and placed the pendant around her neck before refastening it for her.

In the mean time Robyn had slowly and deliberately opened her present; savouring the moment. Robyn did not normally get presents so wanted to make the warm fuzzy feeling last as long as possible. Finally she got the box open and saw the sapphire and gold necklace inside. She thought that this was the prettiest thing she had ever owned. Robyn was smart enough to know that this was given to her to so she would not be excluded when Scorpius gave Rose her present but that only made it more special. Scorpius thought enough of her to not want to hurt her feelings. If Rose had not been there Robyn knew she would have given Scorpius a kiss that would have made the one Al got pale into insignificance.  But she was there so she handed her necklace to Al and asked him to put it on her instead. Looking at the blue and yellow sparkle between her breasts was such a mesmerizing sight that Robyn knew she had to say thank you to Scorpius in her own way. She reached across the table and squeezed Rose’s hand before turning to Scorpius. Robyn placed her hands on either side of his face and gave him a kiss. It was neither deep nor passionate but it was a lot more than a peck on the cheek. As Robyn withdrew she said “Thank you Scorpius”

Al’s mind seemed to be working outside his body. It was like looking down on a table of four strangers. Scorpius was embarrassed and had no idea of what to do or how to respond to the kiss. Rose was angry but it was impossible to say at what. She was definitely not angry at Scorpius or Robyn for the kiss. Robyn was just happy, so happy she could not contain herself when she had to kiss Scorpius. Al, himself, was just jealous. He understood why Robyn kissed Scorpius but that did not stop the beast within him from rearing it ugly head. Rose grabbed Robyn’s hand and dragged her over to her mum so they could show off their presents. Al looked at Scorpius and said half jokingly “I’m glad you are only interested in Rose or I would be extremely jealous right now.”

Scorpius assured him he had not interest in Robyn but could not help adding “Now I know why you enjoy kissing her so much.” A low growl escaped Al’s throat.

When the girls returned to the table Rose announced “We have to be leaving soon and Scorpius, you still needed to talk to Uncle Harry.”  Leaving Al and Robyn at the table to say their good byes Rose led Scorpius over to Harry. When they found him, Harry was surrounded by three wizards all trying to attach themselves to him. Rose decided to just barge in “Uncle Harry can I talk to you in private, it is urgent.”

Harry smiled and said “Of course, let’s go to my office, it is just down the hall.” As soon as they were out of earshot of all the hangers on he added “Thanks I owe you one for getting me out of there.” Once in his office Harry sat behind his desk and motioned Rose and Scorpius to sit. While he was warm and friendly towards Rose Harry was still a bit cold towards Scorpius. “What is this all about?”

Rose explained how when she was attacked the first thing that Zabini did was to gag her so she could not call out. When they had threatened to hurt her she had tried to scream but she had made virtually no sound.

Scorpius finished the tale “I heard Rose silently scream out my name and I felt her terror. After that I got images and knew that she were in great danger and was in the potions lab.” 

Rose looked at Harry, “Was that what it was like with you and Voldermort?”

Harry was shaken. “Yes it was. But I don’t think that your connection is based on the same situation. This will need some looking into.” Harry’s eyes lost focus as he stared at the wall behind Rose. “I will call you in a couple of days. We will need to talk more about this soon. For now I think it is time we all went home.”

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