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I’ve come to the conclusion that hospital food, whether made by House Elves or Muggles, sucks. It was brown, it was lumpy, it was mushy, and just generally made me want to gag. And I wasn’t even a patient. If I was sick and dying and had to eat this crap as my last meal, I think I would have wished that death come quickly.  

Scorpius told me that I was being a masochist – that no one had ever told me that I had to stay at St. Mungo’s 24 hours a day for the past three days – but I couldn’t bring myself to leave. All of the Healers had assured me that my father was in a stable condition and that there was no need for me to stay. They said the chances of him relapsing were almost zero. But every time I tried to take the few steps down the stairs at the end of the ward, I found myself frozen, my limbs acting of their own accord, no matter how many times I tried to convince myself to just go.

Maybe it was guilt. Maybe it was fear. Maybe it was love. It was probably a combination of all three. Whatever the case, I found myself sleeping on the spring-filled couch in the waiting room every night and spending most of my day’s sitting at my father’s bedside while he slept and reading old Prophets.

The only time I got to see my father was when he slept, which was often. Dr. Abbott had told me on one of the occasions in which he tried to persuade me to go home that they were giving my father potions to help clear the plaque from his arteries, and that it was working, but that one of the side effects was that he would sleep for most of the day. I didn’t really mind; actually, I seemed to prefer my father when he was sleeping. He snored loudly, but his face was serene and smiling, almost like his old self. That and I could observe him without having to talk to him. Of course, the moment I heard him stirring I quickly left the room.

He still hadn’t called me in to talk to him or visit him. Practically everyone in my family had been in there while he was talking and awake. Nana Molly came every morning at nine and stayed with him and me until five when she went home to make supper. Hugo usually came with her, along with Granddad and sometimes a few of the Potter children. Of all my Uncles and Aunts, Uncle Harry and Uncle George came by most often, with Aunt Ginny and Aunt Audrey in a close second. No one really wanted Aunt Audrey there – she was pretty much a female version of my Uncle Percy, but more uptight and more stuck up – but my father even requested her presence. 

On more than one occasion I had debated just marching in there when I knew he was awake and demanding to know what his problem was. To tell him that he was being unfair and that I wanted to see him awake and smiling and alive just as much as everyone else. But I couldn’t and wouldn’t do that. As much as he made me angry and hurt me, I was terrified that if we got into an argument, he would have another heart attack. 

I’d already almost killed my father once; I didn’t want to do it again.

“Here you are.”

I grimaced down at the plate of mush that the witch had placed down on the end table next to me, setting down the Witch Weekly I had been skimming and picked up my silver fork. I poked the blob of mush that kind of resembled mashed potatoes and gravy gingerly, trying to hide my disgust when it jiggled, and smiled up at the witch.

“Thanks Greta,” I told her, trying to sound sincere, but not really managing it.

She just grunted and placed another plate of ‘slop’, as I’d taken to calling it, down on the table that was attached to my sleeping father’s bed. I waited until she wheeled her trolley out of the door and then picked up my fork again. I scooped up a bite of my food, watching it wiggle on the end of my fork and brought it to my lips.

“Knock, knock,” a voice called quietly from the doorway and I gratefully dropped the fork with a relieved sigh, turning to see a familiar head of platinum hair poking through the door frame.

“You’re a lifesaver.”

“Just doing my job,” Scorpius replied, grinning cockily and stepping fully into the room. I just rolled my eyes at him. “Still not talking to you, I take it?”

We both looked over at my heavily sleeping father. According to Hugo, he had gained a lot of color since the first night, but he still looked ghostly pale to me. His bright red hair was disheveled and looked greasy and his freshly shaven stubble had grown back in, making him look like a rather grubby lumberjack. Every once in a while, his loud snores were interrupted by one of his large, shuddering breaths that never failed to make me jump out of my seat and hurry to his side in worry.

I felt myself flush and I turned my face down towards the white tiles. “No, he still isn’t talking to me,” I replied. 

Scorpius didn’t say anything else, but I heard the distinct scraping of a chair being pulled up next to mine and then the sound of his jeans against the plastic cushion. I heard the soft chink of metal against ceramic and looked over to see Scorpius poking gingerly at the meal I had been given, his expression a mixture of curiosity and disgust.

“Don’t you get tired of eating hospital food?” he asked, and I couldn’t help the chuckle that escaped me.

“Oh yes,” I agreed, my nose wrinkling at the sight of my almost-meal. “I’m surprised I’ve actually been able to stomach this crap for so long.”

“Don’t you get hungry for real food?”

Unwillingly, the image of a bowl of tomato soup and cheese toast floated into my mind. My stomach let out an audible rumble and I flushed bright red, quickly covering the offending body part with my hands.

I heard Scorpius laugh and then felt one of his large hands over my own. “Sounds like it,” he chuckled. “Why don’t we go get some real food in you? There’s a café down the street that makes the best omelettes.”

“No,” I told him flatly, pushing his hand away and reaching around him to pick up my fork and a scoop of mush.

“C’mon, Rosie,” he pleaded, prying the utensil from my grip before I could put it in my mouth. “You’ve been in this hospital for three days straight. You need to get out and get some fresh air in your lungs. It’s a beautiful day outside. Please.”

“I can’t,” I insisted, turning to face the wall so that I didn’t have to look at him. I knew that if I saw his stupid, sad puppy dog face I’d give in. And I was adamant that I was not going to give in this time. “I really can’t. You don’t understand-“

“You’re right, I don’t understand,” Scorpius spat, sounding angry as he always did when he thought I was being ridiculous. “I don’t understand how you can be so compassionate towards a man who has been nothing but downright horrible to you for years now. I don’t understand how you can sit here day in and day out and watch him sleep, knowing that he has forbidden you from coming into his room and visiting him while he’s awake. I don’t understand how even after all this time you don’t think that you deserve better than this, Rose.”

“Of course I think I deserve better than this,” I replied shrilly, feeling slightly stung. “I just know I’m never going to get better than this. So I’m going to make the best of a bad situation.”  

“This isn’t making the best of a bad situation,” he pointed out. “It’s called wallowing in self-pity.”

“I am not wallowing in self-pity,” I insisted rather loudly, turning around sharply to glare at him.

“Prove it then,” he smirked. “Take a break for the day. Leave the hospital.” 

Suddenly, my father let out a groan and rolled onto his other side. Scorpius and I both held our breath as we turned to look at him. Sheer terror ran down my spine and as soon as the thought to run had entered my mind I was bolting towards the door.

Scorpius, the stupid git, somehow managed to get to the door before I did and using his long limbs to his advantage blocked off my only escape route.

“Move!” I hissed as quietly as I could, wincing as I heard my father mutter incoherently in his quickly diminishing slumber.

“Look, Rose,” Scorpius said, and I could tell that if he hadn’t been trying to block my way he would have been dragging his hand through his hair in frustration. “I didn’t want to tell you this, but I’ve been threatened, bodily harm being the nicest of options, by your psychotic family. Neither of us are to leave this room until you have agreed to get your sorry bum out of this hospital for the day.”

I glared up at him, not sure whether to believe him or not, but as if on cue, James and Al appeared in the hall beyond the door, both flexing their muscles as if to prove that they were willing to use force. Lily and Hugo appeared at their sides a moment later and I glared at my traitorous brother who just smirked back at me. 

I glanced up at Scorpius pleadingly. “Please,” I begged and he just shook his head unhelpfully. Feeling frustrated I pounded my fist rather hard against his chest and I saw him wince, guilt washing over me for a moment before instantly stopping when I saw Nana Molly and Uncle Harry take up rather menacing positions besides their offspring and grandchildren. 

My family and boyfriend were trying to bloody kill me.  

I glanced at the determined stances of my family in the hall and then back at my father, whose incoherent mumblings were becoming louder and more frequent by the second. This really wasn’t fair! They had cornered me, coerced me. Wasn’t that illegal? My mother was the bleeding Minister though – surely she would stand up for me. A moment of rational thought had me realizing that no, she definitely would not and I came to the sad conclusion that there was no way out of this.

“Fine,” I whispered just as my father rolled over so that he was looking directly at Scorpius and me. I saw his eyelids flicker slightly and not waiting for Scorpius to move his arms, ducked down under them and sprinted out into the hallway.  

I didn’t make it very far though, because apparently the troops that they had assembled to threaten me into the leaving the room weren’t enough – Freddie, Molly, Dom, and Aunt Ginny were standing guard at the end of the hallway. They closed into a tight knit line formation, their elbows locked, trying to prevent me from escaping.

“It’s okay,” Scorpius told them, sauntering up from behind me and wrapping his arm around my waist. “She agreed.”

“I was coerced,” I reminded him, but this did nothing but make them all laugh.  

Their line was broken to let the two of us through and I let myself be led down the rest of the corridor and through the waiting room that I had called home for the past three days. Inside though, I was fuming. Where did they get off? Bunch of bloody arses. They had better watch it, or I’d have Greta poison their nasty hospital food.

Before I knew it, we were standing at the top of the stairs that would lead to the ground floor. 

“Aren’t you going to talk to me?” Scorpius asked, pulling up short of the stairs and pushing me over to the side so that I had my back pressed up against the white wall. I forced myself to keep looking straightforward at his chest because I knew if I looked up into his eyes I’d lose my resolve. Although, this probably wasn’t a good idea either. Scorpius’s navy t-shirt was rather tight today and I’d be a liar if I said he wasn’t fit.

“Come on, Rosie,” he pleaded, sounding rather exasperated. “I know you’re mad – you have every right to be – but you said earlier that you wanted to make the best of a bad situation, right? I’m taking you out for a day of fun. The least you could do is pretend to want to be with me.”

Damn him. Damn him and his knowing exactly how to make me feel guilty. 

“You’re right,” I admitted rather ruefully, looking up at him and feeling and unwilling smile tug at the corners of my mouth. “I’m sorry. I’m just being a brat. I’m hungry, I’m tired, I’m overwhelmed, and I’ve read more articles on how to use blush to accentuate my cheekbones that I seriously dreamed about dancing with a makeup brush last night. I need a break.”

Scorpius roared with laughter and I rested my head against his chest, listening to his laugh come from deep inside him and smiling. “That’s what I’m here for,” he told me, tugging lightly on the end of my long hair. “And I’m so wonderful that I’m going to let you pick where we go.”

I scoffed but chuckled, scooting away from him again so that I could think without becoming distracted by the scent of his cologne. We were in London. There was more to do in this city than probably anywhere else in the country. I would have thought that would make the decision easier, but it really didn’t.

The idea struck me like a bolt of lightning. It was perfect.

“Did you decide?” Scorpius asked and I smirked up at him.

“Do you know how to catch a Muggle taxi?”  

 

 




 

“Please tell me where we’re going,” Scorpius pleaded thirty minutes later after we had successfully hailed a Muggle taxi, although it was more of my doing and Scorpius standing there, telling me how barmy Muggles were.

The driver smirked at me in the rearview mirror and I grinned smugly back up at him. Then I turned to Scorpius and answered, “It’s a surprise.” 

He glared at me for a moment but when he saw my resolve wasn’t going to waver sighed loudly like a little child and wrapped his arm around my shoulder. I leaned against him, letting my head rest in the crook of his shoulder. I had to admit, Scorpius made a much more comfortable bed than the couch in the waiting room.

The driver had some loud Muggle rock music playing in the background, but it didn’t stop my eyelids from drooping. I tried to force myself to stay awake, but my eyes seemed to have a mind of their own, because the next thing I knew, I was being gently shaken awake by a very happy looking Scorpius and a rather impatient looking driver.

“Rosie, c’mon, wake up,” Scorpius insisted, shaking me a little bit harder and I let my eyelids flutter open, instantly blinded by the bright sun. I blinked rapidly a few times, trying to get my sight back and opened my eyes slowly this time, sitting up properly and gazing around confusedly.

“Where are we?”

“You are at your destination,” the driver told me and I instantly felt more awake. A glance out the window told me that we definitely were.

“Right, yes, thank you,” I said rather giddily, stretching and then opening the door and standing up, basking in the feeling of the warm sun on my skin. Scorpius slid out after me and the driver rolled down his window. I paid him with some of the Muggle money that my mum always insisted I carry with me “in case of emergencies” and then took off, leaving us standing on the sidewalk, surrounded by bright colors and loud, shrieking children.

“I cannot believe you remembered,” Scorpius breathed as he took in the sight before him and I smiled as I watched him.

“Of course I remembered,” I told him. “It’s kind of hard to forget your boyfriend telling you that he dreams of going to Antarctica to see the penguins.” 

“This isn’t Antarctica,” he pointed out and I elbowed him in the ribs. He just chuckled, pulling me to him and planting a kiss on the top of my head.

“Second best,” I insisted and he laughed.

I twined my hand through his and together we walked under the wrought iron arch with the words “The London Zoo” written on a sign attached to it. We followed the crowd of harassed looking mothers with little children over to the tellers’ booths and I quickly bought us two tickets. The bored looking girl behind the register gave Scorpius a once over and smiled, before turning to me and giving me a look that obviously read ‘what-would-a-good-looking-bloke-like-that-be-doing-with-a-girl-like-you?’. 

I just scowled at her as she handed me the tickets and a map and I pulled Scorpius along quickly. “You girls are bloody vicious, you know that?”  I didn’t dignify his observation with a response and he laughed and I couldn’t help but grin. 

“You’re mine,” I insisted, coming to a stop and causing him to stop too. “People have a hard time believing and accepting that.” 

He just smirked down at me before pulling me to him and pressing his lips against mine. I reacted instinctively, pulling him closer to me, and I could hear a few disgusted huffs and whispers of “obnoxious teenagers” coming from disgruntled mothers, but it really didn’t bother me. Scorpius pulled away faster than I really would have liked and chuckled when he saw my put out expression.

“Later,” he assured me and before I could say anything else, snatched the map from my hands. “For now, we have some penguins to see.”

I laced my hand through his as we strolled through the crowded paths of the zoo towards the pool where the penguins lived. For a London spring day, the weather couldn’t have been better. The sun was out and the temperature was mild enough for me not to feel cold in my jeans and t-shirt. A light breeze blew through the budding trees along the sides of the paths and the grassy areas for picnics were bright green and alive with color. I inhaled deeply, enjoying the feel of the cool, fresh spring air tumbling about in my lungs instead of the musty hospital air and I think Scorpius noticed, because he squeezed my hand.

It seemed that the penguins were the farthest exhibit from the front gate, so we decided to check out a few of the other animals along the way. Much to my chagrin and Scorpius’s amusement, one of the lionesses at the lion exhibit we stopped at was named Rose. A helpful zookeeper had pointed out which one she was and I was actually rather delighted to see that she was little more than a cub, with soft looking cream fur and wise looking eyes. 

“I want to keep her,” I told Scorpius as we wandered towards the other wild cats. He just shook his head and muttered something that sounded like “bloody Gryffindor pride” and I beamed. 

I reluctantly allowed Scorpius to drag me into the Reptile House and stood a few feet back from their glass display cases as Scorpius went right up to the front to look at the scaly, slimy beasts. He had teased me about being scared, but had agreed to get out of there once he saw how pale I became as I watched a zookeeper feed a live rat to a python.

I could tell that Scorpius was becoming impatient to see the penguins while we looked in the Bird House, but we both agreed that lunch was necessary before walking any farther. I gave Scorpius the last of my Muggle money and he bought us both slices of pizza and some bottled water from a vendor. We ate on a small, warped picnic table beneath a giant tree in one of the green areas, and I swear to Merlin, it was the best slice of pizza I’d ever had.

When we’d finished and thrown our trash away we continued on our way towards the penguins. From the way there seemed to be a bounce in his step, I could tell Scorpius was enjoying this like a kid in a candy shop. And when he set his eyes on the small building that housed the penguins, he really did look like a five year old. His eyes grew wide and he looked at it like I’d imagine I’d look in a room of Cannons memorabilia.

“Come on,” I insisted, pulling him forward and he happily complied. 

We slipped inside and the first thing I noticed was that if was fricking freezing. I shivered and Scorpius ran his hands up and down my bare arms in an attempt to warm me up before shuffling me awkwardly forward. The entire wall in front of us was made of glass and showed the inside of a giant pool. I walked forward and pressed my palms flat against the frosty glass, jumping back slightly in fright when a penguin swooped forward right in front of the glass. Scorpius and I leaned forward and watched as it broke the surface of the water and then it disappeared from sight up onto the floating ice that obscured half the pool.

“This is awesome,” Scorpius breathed as we watched another one go zooming past the glass, chasing around one of the little fish that would be its dinner. I stepped away from the glass and wrapped my arms around his waist, hugging him to me and leaning my head against his chest as we watched the penguins swim.

After a while, we discovered that there was a staircase that lead up to and upper floor where you could observe the penguins on the ice and I happily followed Scorpius up there, beaming the entire time. In all honesty, I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been so happy. It was ridiculous for me to think now that I had had to be coerced into leaving the hospital. I was such an idiot sometimes.

We watched the penguins up on the ice for probably another hour, Scorpius leaning against the ice cold railing and observing them carefully, pointing out things that I would never have noticed, like the fact that one of the penguins was cradling an egg in between its feet or the fact that the tiny little ball of fluff that I had just thought was some molted feathers was actually a super cute baby penguin. One of the zookeepers came over after a while, obviously noticing Scorpius’s interest in the birds and began talking about their diets and natural habitats. Scorpius listened intently, but after a while I found myself zoning out, instead choosing to watch Scorpius.

I really was a lucky, lucky girl. For starters, it was obvious to anyone with eyes that Scorpius was gorgeous. The way his long blonde hair fell into his eyes and the way he twitched his head every now and then to get it out made me want to laugh and tell him to invest in some elastics, but I knew I’d miss it if he ever got rid of it. His entire persona, even while engrossed in listening to a Muggle man tell him about the molting patterns of penguins, exuded an aura of confidence and sophistication that I knew I would never be able to pull off. He was smart, Merlin so smart, and he listened carefully, nodding along to the zookeeper’s lecture and asking questions that I wouldn’t have even thought of asking. He had the patience of a saint – he’d have to, to have put up with me for all of these months – but at the same time never hesitated to tell me when I was being ridiculous. He understood things that I couldn’t even understand about myself half the time and always knew what to say and do to make me feel better. Even now, he had one of his tucked comfortably into the back pocket of my jeans, keeping me close to him and also proclaiming to all of those around us who probably wondered what someone like him was doing with someone like me that he didn’t give a damn what they thought.

Merlin, I loved him.

And he was Scorpius blood Malfoy. Who would have thought that we’d ever end up here? Not me, that’s for sure. Never me. A Malfoy and a Weasley? Most had been sure it was the seventh sign of the apocalypse. But even if I could have, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

 

 




 

“That was amazing Rosie,” Scorpius told me for what felt like the seven hundredth time as we strolled hand in hand down Diagon Alley a few hours later, each of us doing our best to finish up the cones of ice cream we’d gotten at Fortescue’s. After we had finished at the penguin exhibit, we’d decided we’d both had enough of the zoo for the day. Dusk was setting, but I had not wanted to go back to the hospital yet, so we’d hopped on the Knight Bus and come over to get some ice cream. Now I just felt like we were procrastinating against the inevitable.

“I’m glad you enjoyed yourself,” I told him again for the seven hundredth time. “Thank you for convincing me to go out.”

He just smirked down at me and then, lifting his ice cream so that he didn’t get it in my hair, leaned down and kissed me. He tasted like mint and chocolate. “See, I told you that you would enjoy yourself,” he reminded me as he pulled away.

“I definitely needed this,” I agreed, taking a bite out of my cone now that I’d finished all of my strawberry ice cream. “And the food.”

He laughed and wrapped his arm around my waist. We walked around rather aimlessly for a while and both finished our ice cream and cones and I could feel my feet beginning to throb from walking all day. 

“Ouch,” I sighed as I stepped awkwardly on a cobblestone wrong and twisted my ankle.

“You okay?” he asked, looking down at me.

“Bloody feet fricking hurt,” I whined, flexing my toes experimentally in my trainers and feeling the dull ache in the arches of my feet screaming in protest. “Carry me?” I asked rather pathetically and he laughed but crouched down so that I could I could jump up on his back.

“Are you serious?” I asked and he nodded. “I was just being whiny is all.”

“Just climb on,” he sighed and I grinned before following orders.

I grinned like a child as I clung to Scorpius’s back like one of the koalas we had seen at the zoo do to a eucalyptus tree today. I hadn’t gotten a piggy back ride since before I went to Hogwarts. Ever since my father had injured himself on the job, he had refused to give me them, claiming that I was getting too heavy and that he didn’t want to hurt himself again. I made James give me them for a while, but then he would start sitting on me when he got tired and I quickly decided I’d had enough of that. 

“Having fun back there?” Scorpius called.

“Uh huh!”

He chuckled and I giggled and pressed a kiss to the side of his neck.  

“Are you ready to go back to St. Mungo’s yet?” he asked and I thought of my father, and my couch, and my slop and I shuddered.

“No, not quite.”

He just laughed and then suddenly came to a halt.

“What?” I asked, feeling perplexed, looking around the relatively empty alley to see what would have caused him to stop.

“Look,” he said, pointing straight ahead. I squinted against the dim light of the alley to read the sign on the shop in front of us. Toad’s Tattoo Parlor.

“Are you serious?” I said laughing and I slid off of his back to stand next to him.

“Why not?” he asked, sounding slightly hurt. “We’re here. It’s open. We’ve got nothing better to do.”

“You know what you want?” I asked suspiciously and he grinned triumphantly.

“I’ve know what I want since I was 11,” he told me and I had to admit, I was impressed.

“Do you have your certificate with you?”

Scorpius dug around in his pocket for a moment before pulling out his money purse. I heard the jingle of coins before his hand came out again, holding the black, slightly wrinkled certificate. “Right here.”

“Okay,” I agreed, doing my best to swallow the sudden lump that had grown in my throat. Scorpius just put his hand bracingly on my shoulder and steered me towards the rather dingy looking building.

A bell jingled as we walked through and I was immediately surprised at the appearance of the place. It looked more like a museum than a tattoo parlor. Small end tables were everywhere, covered with books that I assumed contained images of the various tattoos that were offered. A few doors that I assumed led to the rooms where it was actually done were along the wall furthest from us, and to my left was a dark counter upon which sat a register and a calendar. The ceiling was rather low and the place had a musty smell, but it was surprisingly well lit and clean.

“What can I help you with today?” a pleasant voice said from my right and I turned to see a large man with a round stomach emerging from behind a bookshelf. He was probably in his fifties with no hair on the top of his head, but thinning patches around his ears and the back. He had watery eyes, but they were kind, and he had a pipe stuck between his lips, although from the looks of it, it didn’t have anything in it.

“Well,” he said when he saw Scorpius and me standing there, never taking the pipe from his lips. “A couple of young ‘uns today. Good to see you, good to see you. Are you lot just looking round or do you have something in mind?”

“I have something in mind,” Scorpius told him, stepping forward and dragging me with him.

“And anything for the lady?” the man asked, eyeing me from where I was trying to hide behind Scorpius. I wasn’t really sure why. Something about this place made me uncomfortable.

“No thank you,” I squeaked and the man threw his head back with a loud, booming laugh.

“Come out from behind your beau little missy,” he told me. “I don’t bite.”

I felt myself blush bright red and then I took a few steps to the left so that I was standing next to Scorpius instead of behind him. Scorpius shot me a bemused grin and I hoped the look I shot him back read, ‘I-must-really-love-you-if-I’m-here” and not “I’m-constipated-and-want-to-leave”.

“Blimey,” the man said as he looked at me. “You’re a Weasley.”

The flush I felt color my cheeks was as good a consent as any. “Yes, I am,” I admitted. 

“Who’re your parents?” he asked, studying me closer as if he was going to see one of my parents in me.

“Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley,” I told him, deciding it was better to probably just be honest.

His mouth dropped open in surprise as he stared at me and then he stared at Scorpius and then looked furiously back and forth between the two of us. Suddenly he burst out in loud hoots that I was sure shook the foundation of the building. I exchanged a quizzical look with Scorpius, but he just shrugged, obviously as confused as I was.

“Merlin, you must be Rose then,” he said when he had stopped, wiping at the tears of laughter that ran down his cheeks. I nodded. “And that must make you Scorpius Malfoy. The two of you have been in the papers a lot lately. I hope the amount of trouble they claim you lot get up to isn’t true. But if it is, good for you. Kids are only young once.”

I just nodded, unsure of what else to do and Scorpius did the same. The man seemed to sense how uncomfortable we were because he quickly sobered up. “Well, I’m Melvin Toad, the owner of this shop, pleased to make your acquaintance. Let’s get to business, shall we?”

Melvin lead Scorpius over to the register and they talked quietly about what Scorpius wanted while Melvin validated his certificate and I leaned heavily against a pole that I assumed supported the ceiling a few yards away from them. My feet really, really hurt.

“Well, Rosie,” Melvin said as if he had known me for my whole life, not just ten minutes, “I’m going to take Scorpius here back to one of the rooms and get the prep work done. If you want, once I’m ready to do the actual work, you can come in and watch.”

“Yeah, I’ll watch,” I agreed, even though the idea slightly frightened me. Were Wizarding tattoos like Muggle tattoos? With all of the pain and needles? Because if it was, then I might pass out. I’d never been good with handling stuff like that. “What should I do in the meantime?”

“Why not look at some of the designs we’ve got here?” Melvin suggested, a gleam coming into his eyes. “I know you said you don’t want one, but you never know. You could change your mind.”

I highly doubted that, but I just nodded and Scorpius squeezed my hip as he followed Melvin into the furthest right room. I watched the door shut behind him and then sighed. How could he be so calm? This was a huge decision. Colossal. His parents were going to kill him.

I sighed again and pushed off of the pole, deciding that I had nothing better to do. Besides, maybe then I could get a better idea of how this whole tattoo thing was done. A book ahead of me and a little to my right caught my eye and I hurried forward. The book was so old that I wasn’t able to make out the title but I flipped it open anyway, immediately taken aback at the fact that the pictures of the tattoos were moving.

Yes, in the Wizarding World, pictures moved all the time. But these pictures represented tattoos. Did that mean that the tattoo would move too? I’d never really seen many Wizards with tattoos before. If we could get photographs to move though, why couldn’t we get tattoos to move?

Getting over my initial shock, I flipped through the book, ignoring the frolicking dolphins and the winking quarter moon. There were some tribal signs that danced and what looked like ancient lettering of some sort that faded in and out. There was an elephant that reared up on its hind legs and stuck its trunk up in the air and a snake that slithered. One page was entirely filled with the image of a hunter chasing after a deer and brandishing his wand at it. I watched, entranced, as the hunter shot a green light at the deer and then it collapsed to the ground, dead.

Who would want a tattoo of that?

I turned the page again and was instantly entranced by four little flower buds that adorned the page. As I watched, they grew and their petals folded out, forming a daisy, a rose, a violet, and a lily. I stared at the rose one in particular. The petals were a delicate pink color and the little bud was a pretty forest green.

That was really, really pretty. I could see why someone would want something like that. I stared down at the page at the little rose folding in on itself again and then glanced down at my body. Where would I have even gotten a tattoo?

Obviously, it would have to be somewhere that my parents would not find it. So anywhere on my arms or legs or feet or face was out. And I would want it to be somewhere that I could see it, so my back and bum were out too. Getting a tattoo on my breasts was just a no as was anywhere else unmentionable. I glanced down at my flat stomach. On my stomach? Where?

I looked around the shop furtively, and seeing no one, I quickly folded my t-shirt up, looking down at the dull white skin there. Not anywhere near my navel, I decided. If I wore my bathing suit, my mum would definitely see that. My hips? I looked down at the flat bits of skin where my stomach and hip connected. The right side just seemed better. It had a better vibe, if hips could give off vibes.

I heard the sound of the door to Scorpius’s room opening and I instantly jerked my shirt down. Melvin was staring at me expectantly and I hurried forward into the little room. It was very plain, save for the table draped with a white cloth in the middle and two small wooden chairs. Scorpius sat on the table, his t-shirt draped over the chair furthest from him and a white square of tape on his right upper arm. I stared at his chest for a moment before he cleared his throat bemusedly and I flushed. The door closed again and Melvin came in again, smiling broadly.

“Okay, are you ready?” he asked, and we both nodded. I sat carefully on the table next to Scorpius, hooking one of my fingers around the belt loop at the back of his jeans. I looked around for the needles and dye and such, but Melvin just pulled out his wand.

I watched as he pressed the tip into the middle of the little square Scorpius’s skin and then started to mutter an incantation in what sounded like Latin, or maybe Arabic. I watched in amazement as a faint black rather curly line started to show up there and the longer Melvin chanted, the darker the lines became. I started to realize they were words and I could almost feel Scorpius grinning beside me. Finally, after about five minutes Melvin stopped chanting and Scorpius let out an audible hiss. The area that was surrounded by the tape glowed bright red and then returned to its normal pale white. Melvin stripped the tape from Scorpius’s arm and then I looked at his new tattoo.

What is done is done, it read.

He beamed down at me and I grinned up at him, leaning forward and pressing my lips quickly to his. Honestly, I couldn’t have thought of a better tattoo for him to get. It really summed up so much about his life – trying to life down his father’s notoriety, trying to live up to people’s expectations of him, how he was coming to realize that he wasn’t perfect and that he made mistakes. My thoughts strayed to Anna but I quickly pushed those out of my mind. 

“It’s perfect,” I told him quietly.

“I hope so,” he replied. “Thank you.”

He kissed my temple and I heard Melvin clear his throat uncomfortably.

“Well, I’m happy you are pleased with it, Mr. Malfoy,” Melvin said, grinning from behind his pipe. “Did you see anything you liked Miss Weasley?”

“Oh, uh,” I stuttered, looking down at the ground and feeling my cheeks flush. I saw Scorpius glance at me quizzically out of the corner of my eye.

“I thought I saw you looking at the book of our moving tattoos,” Melvin said, as if he already knew my answer. “Those are quite popular you know, very nice. I’ll give you half price on one – a special treat for a special young lady. What do you say?”

“I, uh, well, my mother would kill me,” I blurted out before I could stop myself. Scorpius and Melvin both laughed.

“Your mum doesn’t have to know,” Scorpius pointed out and I wanted to kill him. I was even sure that I wanted one. Yes, I had definitely admired that pretty little rose tattoo. If I was going to get one, it would be that.  

“Yeah, okay,” I conceded, feeling all of my resolve waver. I was technically an adult now. It was definitely legal for me to be able to get a tattoo. And my mother didn’t rule my life. It was my body, right? It was my right for me to be able to choose what to do with it. “I’ll get one.”

Scorpius squeezed my shoulder supportively and Melvin let out an appreciative whistle. Scorpius threw on his t-shirt and then went to go stand outside while Melvin prepped me and I felt my stomach twist into knots. This was a good idea, right?

“Where do you want it?” Melvin asked me and I blushed again.

“On my hip,” I muttered and he craned his neck forward, trying to hear me. “On my hip,” I repeated louder, hiding my face in my hands.

“Which one?” Melvin asked kindly and I peeked from between my fingers to see that he wasn’t look at me like I was mental.

“The right one,” I told him, pointing at it for extra measure.

He had me lay back and roll up my shirt and I did as I was told, feeling like I was going to retch as I did so. Oh, if my father could see me now. I rolled my shirt up to right where the bottom of my bra was and was very grateful when he didn’t ask me to unbutton my jeans or anything. He put the same white tape I had seen on Scorpius’s arm on the area I had indicated, although this one was smaller. He pointed his wand at the area and I felt a distinct chill run through that area, and that area only and then as quickly as it had come it disappeared.

“Okay, we’re ready,” Melvin told me, patting my knee comfortingly, and I felt my heart jump up into my throat. I tried to swallow it back down, but I just managed to choke and I coughed rather violently for a moment before he opened the door and called Scorpius back in.

Scorpius came and sat in one of the small wooden chairs and as if he knew how sick I was feeling right now, laced his fingers through mine and I squeezed his hand tightly. I heard him wince and I loosened my grip, smiling down at him apologetically. He just smiled supportively up at me and squeezed my hand right back.

“The moment of truth,” Melvin announced and I felt like I had just about died. I felt Scorpius reach up and brush a piece of hair back from my face and then I felt Melvin press his wand tip into my skin.

I expected there to be pain. I expected there to be burning and uncomfortable pinching. But there wasn’t any of that at all. As Melvin started up a new chant, all I felt was a definite tingle in the spot marked off by the tape. I tried to look down to see what he was doing but I didn’t want to move in case I ruined it or something so I just contented myself with the idea that Scorpius would tell me if something was going horribly wrong. I was just starting to really relax when all of a sudden there was a horrible burning in that section and I cried out in pain for a second and then like how the cold had gone away before, it was gone.

“There you go,” Melvin told me proudly, stripping off the tape. “All done.”

I sat up gingerly, noticing the definite ache to that area that hadn’t been there before but glancing down at my hip. It was small – smaller than it had been in the book – but it was just as pretty, if not prettier. I watched as it transformed from a bud into a beautiful, full flower and grinned. Yes, this was perfect.

“Wow,” was all I could say, tracing my finger carefully over it. It didn’t hurt at all. “It’s beautiful.”  

Scorpius grinned and kissed me on the temple. “Just like you,” he whispered in my ear and I blushed, but felt butterflies swoop in my stomach.

“Thank you,” I told Melvin, tugging my shirt back down as we walked back to the main part of the shop.

“Anytime, Miss Weasley,” he told me, walking round behind the register. He rang up the total – 15 Galleons, not really bad at all and I fished in my pockets for my money purse but Scorpius swatted my hand away and handed Melvin over the money. 

“Thanks again,” Scorpius said as we walked towards the door five minutes later, Melvin following us. “You did a great job.”

“You’re welcome,” Melvin replied. “Stop by anytime.”

“You won’t tell anyone about this?” I asked suspiciously and I heard Scorpius take sharp intake of breath. He hadn’t thought of that. “Not the press, not our parents, not anyone.”

“Not a soul,” he agreed, grinning around his pipe. I reached into my pocket and pulled out three extra Galleons, thrusting them at him.

He knew exactly what they were and what they were for, but didn’t say anything. I just turned on my heel and followed Scorpius out of the shop.  

 

 




 

We ended up back at Scorpius’s house. By the time we got back to the Leaky Cauldron, it was after ten o’clock, and no new visitors were allowed at St. Mungo’s, unless a patient had just recently been brought in. I didn’t really mind the fact that I wouldn’t be going back though – after the day I’d had, sleeping on that couch did not seem appealing.

“Mum?” Scorpius called as he stepped out of the fireplace after me, brushing himself off. I did the same, not wanting to get ash on Astoria’s immaculate white carpet and looked around the familiar living room. It seemed more spacious, with the Christmas tree gone, and in its place was a bookshelf. 

“Mum?” Scorpius called again. “Dad?”

There was no answer. Wordlessly, Scorpius pulled me through the living room and across the hallway into the kitchen. It was just as I’d remembered it and still smelled like the wonderful coffee they brewed in the mornings. I leaned against the counter as Scorpius read a note that had been left for him on the table.

It was odd, being here again. The last time I was here, I had run away from my family at Christmas. The Malfoys, of all people, had opened up their home to me and treated me fairly and almost lovingly for people who were supposed to be my parents’ sworn enemies. It was strange how different it was now, and odd feelings of nostalgia washed through me. I had practically been forced away from my family today. I had come to the Malfoy’s by choice, no necessity this time. I think I liked it better this way. 

“So, we have the house to ourselves tonight,” Scorpius told me, dropping the note back down onto the table. “Apparently, my grandfather got himself into some trouble again today, nothing major, but technically he’s not allowed in the Ministry of Magic and he sort of violated that restraint. He’s not in jail, but he’s rather distraught and my father and mother have opted to spend the night at the Manor with them to console my grandmother and to coax my grandfather out of the library.”

“And I thought my family was messed up,” I commented cheekily and he shot me a glare.

“My grandfather’s been rather off his rocker since his stint in Azkaban.”

I just nodded, not really sure what to say. My mother had been the one who’d put his grandfather in Azkaban.

“Anyway,” Scorpius said, obviously wanting to change the subject and dragging his hand across his face, “what do you want to do?”

“Just lay down for a while,” I admitted. “My feet are killing me.”

“Not go to sleep?”

“No,” I shook my head. “I’m not tired enough yet. Just in pain.”

He nodded understandingly and held out his hand for mine. I laced my fingers through his and he led me over to his bedroom. I felt my stomach churn nervously as he opened the door, but was rather relived when I saw messy clothes on the floor and general teenage junk scattered over almost every surface.

I crawled up onto his bed without an invitation to do so and he sat down next to me. I leaned back against his pillows, kicking off my trainers and relishing in the feeling of freedom that my toes now experienced. I heard Scorpius kick of his shoes after me and then he sank down next to me. I snuggled my head into his shoulder and he draped his arm around my waist, his thumb snaking up under my shirt to trace circles over the little rose there now.

“I’m proud of you, Shorty,” he said suddenly and I looked up at him in surprise.

“Why?”

“I didn’t think you were going to do it,” he replied, nodding towards my hip. “I thought you were going to chicken out.”

“I’m a Gryffindor,” I shot back pompously, puffing up my chest proudly. “I’m not afraid of anything.”

He just laughed and his thumb circled lower, gently tracing the top of my jeans. I felt a shudder run through me and I blushed but continued to look straight at him instead of looking away like I usually would have. I grinned down at him and then leaned in, pressing my lips gently to his and then pressing them harder to his as he gripped the back of my head. Somehow, he rolled us over so that I was on the bottom and I felt him tug my t-shirt up over my head. His shirt came off sometime soon after and before I knew it, his fingers were at the back of my bra. Normally I would have stopped him at this point, but tonight, there was something different here. No fear of being caught. No fear of judgment. No fear that he didn’t love me. 

I felt slightly lightheaded and my stomach was doing cartwheels in my abdomen. My lips moved over his, only stopping when I paused for air or to kiss his neck or collarbone. I felt hot, feverish, and my fingertips tingled. What was I doing? Where was this going? Was I going to be able to stop? Did I want to stop? 

I thought about that for a moment as I lay there, trying to catch my breath. Scorpius was still on top of me, breathing heavily as well but with a faint grin on his lips. He kissed the side of my neck and along my jaw and I decided that no, I most definitely did not want to stop.  

I felt Scorpius’s hand on the button of my jeans and my breath hitched in my throat. He obviously noticed and looked down at me worriedly and also inquisitively. I just licked my lips and nodded. His eyes widened and he beamed down at me before kissing me hard on the lips.

In one go, I had just confirmed the reputation that had followed me all year long. After this, I’d never be able to cling to that small defense that I had – still being completely virginal.

Bollocks. I decided. That excuse was getting old anyway.

 




 
A/N: Well, there's another chapter finished. I know a lot of you were hoping to see some more Ron action, but hopefully this Scorpius-centric chapter makes up for it.  

What did you think of it? Like it? Dislike it? I really hope you liked it.  

Oh, and just in case anyone doesn't know this, I don't own the London Zoo. I don't know anything much about it really - I just did enough research to make sure they had penguins and that there really was a zoo. So if you have been there before and my perception of it is totally off, I'm sorry.  

So yeah, 2 more chapters left. Scary, huh? So sad. 

Anyway, thank you all for reading and please, PLEASE review. :)

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