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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!

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