Three days later . . . .
A small article in the Thursday edition of the Daily Prophet announced Mr. and Mrs. Draco Malfoy were the new owners of a Mayfair penthouse, bought fully furnished. The official story was that the second home would be used to entertain friends and business associates. Unofficially, the purchase was a declaration of intent. If Lucius broke his agreement to respect Scorpius' decisions, Draco and Astoria would move to London permanently.
Rose understood when Scorpius said he felt he should spend a night at the flat. She was happy for him. He and his parents had every right to want to be together and celebrate. Besides, she'd see him the next morning. Mum and Dad had accepted the Malfoys' invitation to brunch.
That didn't stop her from being restless and moody. She went to bed early with the most angst-filled romance she could find in the library.
Propped against bed pillows, Jane Eyre braced against upraised knees, Rose flipped to chapter where Jane met Mr. Rochester. The magic of words transported her to a moonlit lane where a girl assisted a fallen "traveller" whose horse slipped on a patch of ice. As Jane picked up her muff and walked on, her thoughts struck an odd chord. Rose reread the passage.
The incident had occurred and was gone for me: it was an incident of no moment, no romance, no interest, in a sense; yet it marked with change one single hour of a monotonous life.
The day Scorpius switched labels on their potions he offered an apple. The incident had occurred and was gone. Rose had pretended it didn't mean anything. She hadn't realised it was the moment of change in her life.
She tried to concentrate on reading, but like Jane, Rose was hesitant to re-enter the world of Thornfield Hall. Her mind was distracted. What was Scorpius doing? Did he and his parents play card games? Perhaps they listened to music, something classical, while they lounged elegantly and admired the city lights beyond glass walls. She dreamily pictured his face. Was he thinking about her?
With effort, Rose returned her attention to the novel, but Jane's banter with Mr. Rochester reminded her of the conversations she'd had with Scorpius. Had her feelings been as obvious as Jane's? She gladly set aside the book when Scorpius' Patronus appeared.
I wanted to say goodnight.
"Goodnight," Rose said, expecting the silvery mongoose to take her reply back to Scorpius. Instead, it paced back and forth on her duvet cover and then turned its small face up to hers.
I left a gift on the shelf of the wardrobe. It's only a token, you don't have to accept it, but I'd like you to. Sleep well.
Rose hurried over to her wardrobe the second the mongoose vanished. She saw nothing except tidily folded jumpers. She rolled her eyes.
Not my wardrobe. His.
Her dad called her name before she reached the dining room. "Why aren't you in bed, pumpkin?"
"I can't sleep," she said. "I'm going to have some hot chocolate."
"Make some for me too."
"Sure." What else could she say? I lied about the chocolate and I'd prefer you leave so I can find my present? In the kitchen, illumination orbs revealed her dad wore his old school robe and slippers. She asked, "Did you think I was trying to sneak out?"
"Or let Scorpius in. I couldn't decide." Dad grabbed a bottle of milk from the coolant cupboard and used a WWW coffee mug for a measuring cup.
While he poured the milk into a saucepan and lit the cooker, Rose found the chocolate. Scorpius said his mum added a vanilla pod and stick of cinnamon. She'd like to try that. "I'm seeing him in a few hours," she said. "You thought I couldn't wait?"
Dad helped her break the chocolate bar into pieces. "There were times when I couldn't, and that was after a kiss and cuddle on the front doorstep." He added the chocolate to the milk while she stirred. "Luckily for me, the Grangers didn't have a security system," he said. "I only had to use Confundo on a few neighbours."
Oh, Merlin, the mental image was enough to make Rose want to grab the Bailey's Irish Cream hidden behind the cooking sherry. Instead, she found caster sugar and a whisk. Once the hot chocolate was frothy, she poured it into three mugs. "Mum's still awake, isn't she? Tell her I'm going right to sleep and if she comes into my room I'll have nightmares."
Her dad grinned, and then sobered as though realising she wasn't joking. "I'll do the clearing up," he said. "Sweet dreams."
Rose went upstairs, resigned to waiting a bit longer to discover the "token" Scorpius left for her. She set down her mug to pick up her book and let it fall open in impromptu divination. She looked down and read the first words on the page.
I regained my couch, but never thought of sleep. Till morning dawned I was tossed on a buoyant but unquiet sea, where billows of trouble rolled under surges of joy.
The buoyant sea gave Rose an idea. Once settled in bed, she closed her eyes and envisioned the private cove near Shell Cottage where the sea was tranquil and saltwater gillyweed allowed her to kiss Scorpius without coming up for air. Yesterday's visit was so fresh in her mind, she could almost feel his leg slide between hers as they floated, and shivered as his webbed fingers caressed her skin.
In the morning, Rose woke before the alarm. The kitchen smelled of coffee, so Mum and Dad were up. She wouldn't have to jump on their bed like a child on Christmas morning. Not that it wasn't fun to bounce on the mattress and chant, "Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!" but she was getting too old for it.
The sight of the empty bed in the guest room was wrenching. It was silly to miss Scorpius' physical presence when he'd only left for one night, but her heart didn't care about logic. Rose looked at the pillows. There wasn't a stray hair to reveal which side he slept on. She stretched out a hand and let it drop. She was not going to sniff to find out which pillow smelled of his shampoo.
To resist temptation, she marched over to the wardrobe. There was a tiny red origami box on the empty shelf above the clothes rail. Rose reached for the box with trembling fingers. A tingle ran up her arm when she touched the lid. The paper refolded into a lotus flower. In the centre lay a ring of white gold.
"Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy," she whispered, tracing the engraved letters. He'd given her his signet ring! She slid it onto her finger and cast a Patronus Charm with record speed.
In her room, Rose dug through the jewellery box for a necklace. Scorpius' ring became a pendant. She searched for an outfit to show it off and found a square necked, sleeveless dress, one of Lily's cast-offs. The espresso-coloured jersey fit itself to her curves as if tailored by hand—proof of a sizing charm woven into the fabric.
"Didn't fit, my arse," Rose muttered, appraising her reflection in the wardrobe's full-length mirror. She glanced over at family photo on her chest of drawers. Standing next to Hugo, Lily's image beamed with satisfaction. Rose laughed. "Okay, it fits my arse perfectly, thanks to you." She put up her hair to see what an updo would look like and decided to wear it down, informal. Touchable.
When she joined her parents in the lounge, they were talking in a hushed, don't-want-the-children-to-overhear, tone. She figured they were going over all the subjects not to talk about during brunch. Both were dressed nicely, Dad in a striped shirt and khaki trousers, Mum in a belted shirtdress. Rose said, "Everybody ready to go?"
Dad saw her and frowned. "You're wearing that?"
"Obviously she is," Mum said. "And it's a lovely dress."
"Too clingy." Dad held up his wand. "I'll take care of that."
"A potato sack would gape at the bodice," Mum said, "so quit while you're ahead." She stood. "Is that a new necklace, Rose? The pendant looks like a ring."
"Scorpius gave it to me." There. It was out in the open.
"What?" Dad surged to his feet.
"We're not engaged," Rose said quickly. "It isn't that kind of ring."
"What kind is it?" he asked with a growl in his voice.
Mum was at her side, closely examining. "A signet ring, I'd say. Goblin crafted."
Dad snorted. "Barmy gift. Doesn't even look her size."
"It's a token," Rose said, at the same time her mother said, "It's Scorpius' ring."
Her dad's eyes narrowed. "A token of what?"
"Just . . . you know." Rose shrugged and changed the subject. "Hugo still not coming with us?"
"No, he went to help in the shop."
They Apparated, and then walked. The Malfoys' penthouse was on the top floor of a historic mansion. Rose thought the private lift was romantic with its fine panelling and mirror insert. She checked her reflection.
Dad said in an aside to Mum, "I'll bet they don't use this like we would."
"You think they prefer the stairs?"
"I don't give a rat's arse what they prefer." Dad lowered his voice. "I only care about you."
Mum whispered, "I adore our stairs."
Rose thought whoever first put mirrors in lifts to distract and give the illusion of greater speed didn't factor in parents who acted like they might start snogging any second. It seemed an eternity before the lift reached the fifth floor.
She saw Scorpius waiting in the entrance foyer and almost pressed the button to send Mum and Dad to the lobby. Scorpius had on jeans and a shirt that matched the colour of the jumper he'd worn on the train. Their outfits coordinated. She sighed. "Did you think I was mental, sending a Patronus to say I wanted to tell you in person?"
Rose walked toward him. "I love it," she said, kissing the engraved initials.
Scorpius' eyes were hot smoke.
She moved closer.
Dad cleared his throat.
Scorpius didn't seem the least embarrassed. "Good morning, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, my parents are setting things up on the terrace." He led them into a reception room decorated in honey and cream colours, through French doors, and onto a terrace with a dazzling view.
Mrs. Malfoy greeted them warmly, her husband with polite reserve. Like Scorpius, they were casually dressed. Mrs. Malfoy, wearing a halterneck kaftan, looked perfectly at ease. Mr. Malfoy, who wore a long sleeved t-shirt and jeans, did not.
Rose's dad said, "You're a Harpies fan, Malfoy?" There was a distinctive talon logo on the shirt.
"I married into it."
"There was a Greengrass on the first team and we've supported the club since," Mrs. Malfoy said. She smiled at her husband. "Fortunately green's your colour."
Rose's mum said, "I married into the Cannons. I don't think orange is anyone's colour."
"Is too," Dad said. "But uniforms don't matter. It's the team."
"Your nephew's Chaser stats have improved in his second season with Puddlemere United," Mr. Malfoy said.
The talk of James' goals and assists broke the ice and gave the men something to talk about while they helped themselves to food from the buffet. Rose's Mum and Mrs. Malfoy chatted about favourite Quidditch stadiums, which ones were the cleanest and served the best food. By the time everyone was seated on one of the three curved, high-backed dining benches around a glass-topped wicker table, the silence that came with eating seemed natural instead of awkward.
"Are you saving room for afters?" Scorpius asked watching her pick at a strawberry, raspberry, and rhubarb fruit salad.
He'd chosen scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and buttered crumpets alongside: a quarter of the food on her father's plate. Rose asked, "Are you?"
"Yes. Have you ever had espresso poured over vanilla ice cream?" He arched a brow when she shook her head. "Would you like to help me make it?"
She nodded, trying hard not to blush. There was no shame in wanting to kiss him.
Scorpius made their excuses.
Inside, he escorted her past the kitchen to a room that contained sleek, modern furnishings and his rucksack on a chair. The bed was enormous, and looked incredibly comfortable, but if they made out on it and her dad caught them . . . . "This isn't the best place to snog," she said. "Not with my parents here."
Scorpius' palm felt cool against her cheek. His lips brushed hers. "Thank you."
Her insides transformed into butterflies. "It isn't that I don't want to—"
He interrupted her with a kiss that lingered long enough for her to twine her arms around his neck.
"Thank you for accepting my ring," Scorpius said. "A signet is more than a seal, or a tradition. It's a symbol of identity."
"I know," Rose said. "That's why I love it." She looked into his eyes and bared her soul. "I love you."
A/N: The Charlotte Bronte Jane Eyre quotes are from chapter 12 and chapter 15. I decided to leave the style of engraving on the ring up to reader imagination. Either block style initials or script monogram would look nice.
I have to say a special thanks to the readers who read the Draco pov one-shot What's Done is Done that shows what happened when he and Astoria left to confront Lucius. Anyone who hasn't had the chance to read or didn't even know I posted it is eagerly invited to go see Draco finally take a stand.
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