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Rose loved him. They'd started talking to each other less than a month ago, gone together less than a week. Was it possible to fall in love so quickly?

He smiled.

Yes.

"I love you," Scorpius said. He kissed her the way he'd wanted to when she'd touched the ring to her lips. It was achingly sweet and so hot, only the thought of Mr. Weasley's reaction if they didn't return soon kept him from carrying her over to the bed. "Espresso," he said between kisses. "Ice cream."

"In a minute," Rose whispered, before doing things to his lower lip that weakened his resolve.

Scorpius had to imagine both her parents, standing in the doorway, wands raised, to take a step back. "We have to go to the kitchen. Now."

"All right," she said softly.

In the kitchen he found there was no pot to brew espresso in, and no ice cream to put espresso on. He should've checked before offering. Scorpius said, "And they claimed this place was fully furnished."

Rose slipped her arms around his waist. "It has everything I need."

Scorpius kissed her, and would have kept kissing her if he hadn't seen their parents heading inside from the terrace. "Let's go break the news about the espresso."

Mr. and Mrs. Weasley didn't question why it had taken them so long to discover the kitchen's deficiencies. Mrs. Weasley thanked his parents for their hospitality and complimented the cooking, which Mr. Weasley seconded. His mother thanked the Weasleys and told Rose it had been a pleasure to see her again. His father said, "Yes, it has," which prompted Rose to say she had enjoyed the visit, too.

Scorpius broke into the circle of politeness. "Are we still going to your Gran's today?"

Rose gave him a "you know we are, why are you asking?" look. "Yes. After I change clothes Dad will drive us."

"I'll meet you there. I have something to pick up first. A surprise."

"You can't," Mr. Weasley said. "The house is Unplottable."

"I'll Apparate to the neighbour's orchard."

Rose nodded. "Send your Patronus when you arrive."

"The White Witch Guest House in Ottery St. Catchpole is on the Floo Network," Mrs. Weasley said. "You wouldn't have far to Apparate."

Her voice was slightly questioning. Scorpius thanked her, but didn't volunteer any information about his range of Apparition. "Let me walk you downstairs," he said to Rose.

"Sounds good," said Mr. Weasley, at the same time Mrs. Weasley said, "We'll take the lift."

Mr. Weasley immediately said, "Right. We'll take the lift." He seemed strangely cheerful to be overruled.

Scorpius was thankful not to have Rose's father breathing down his neck. He escorted her to the stairwell.

After walking down two flights, Rose paused on a landing to ask, "How far can you Apparate?"

"How far do you want to go?" He was a Malfoy, a Slytherin. Determination and deliberation were ingrained. He should be able to take her anywhere she wanted. All he needed was a destination. If Rose picked somewhere exotic, though, he'd suggest they use a Portkey. Scorpius had read dry heaves from Intercontinental Apparation could last for days, unaffected by antinauseant potions. That would take the romance out of any holiday.

She said, "I think we should decide together after NEWTs."

Rose's tone—and her pink cheeks—gave the words a double meaning. Suddenly the stairwell felt stuffy, not properly ventilated. "Agreed," he said, a moment before a spectral Jack Russell terrier bounded toward them.

The terrier barked silently. The message was for Rose.

She said, "Dad, of course you're waiting. We're walking, not running." Rose shook her head as the Patronus vanished. "He's embarrassing."

"He thinks we've been snogging."

"And I know why. Don't ask—I'm repressing the memory." She took his hand as they continued downstairs. When they reached the ground floor, she gave him a quick kiss. "See you soon." Her expression was a mix of concern and promise. Wherever you're going, be careful, and, if I don't hear from you I'll come looking!

"I'll hurry."

In the flat, his mother was lying on the sofa with her bare feet on his father's lap. "I said Mr. Weasley wouldn't bring up the war or any other unpleasantness. Your father bet against me."

Father looked content in his role of masseur. He stroked his thumb across the arch of her foot. "Do you need any help picking up that surprise of yours?"

"No, sir." Scorpius fetched his rucksack.

His parents stood to hug him goodbye.

"We'll be at the train station to see you off," Father said.

Mother said, "Your grandparents—both sets—may be there as well."

Father answered Scorpius' unspoken question. "They're your family. They want to show support."

For him, or for appearances' sake? Scorpius took the lift to the lobby and walked outside. It wasn't far to a station; he could Floo to Salisbury the way he had with Rose. He decided to Apparate. Being confident of his abilities wasn't the same as proving them. He stepped into an alley, concentrated, and moved into nothingness.

When he appeared in front of the manor, Scorpius lurched forward to steady himself against iron bars. He promptly vomited.

The gates opened.

He staggered backward, attempting to cast Evanesco and spit vileness out of his mouth at the same time. The sick disappeared from the gravel and bars. He wasn't as successful getting rid of the foul aftertaste. He conjured a goblet and used Aguamenti to fill it with water to rinse his mouth.

"Need a mint?" asked a dry voice.

Grandfather Lucius strolled toward him, far enough away to have used a Sonorous Charm.

"Yes, thank you," Scorpius said, following suit. A few seconds later, he plucked a brushing/flossing mint out of the air. The peppermint flavour cleared away the lingering nastiness.

"How far did you Apparate?" Grandfather asked when they met halfway down the drive.

"London."

"That's quite impressive."

"Is it? I'm still queasy."

"Next time your body will be more accustomed." Grandfather's lips twitched. "Do carry mints as a precaution."

They walked in silence until they reached the house. "I came to get something from my room," Scorpius said.

"I didn't suppose you popped in for tea."

Scorpius said, "I'll see you tomorrow, though, at the station."

"Unless you'd rather I stay home."

"Of course not. You're my grandfather."

Pale eyebrows rose. "You sound very like Draco sometimes."

"But I'm not him."

An odd expression flickered across Grandfather Lucius' face—almost satisfied. "I know," he said. "It's what gives me hope."

Scorpius went to fetch the surprise from his room. Grandfather liked to put people on tenterhooks, to heighten anxiety with cryptic words. The only way to beat him at his game was not to play.

Grandmother Narcissa, and Mr. and Mrs. Stevens were in the foyer when he returned. Scorpius accepted a picnic basket from Mrs. Stevens and a box of Honeydukes sweets from his grandmother, who said he was naughty for not introducing her to Rose. The fact that she'd been sleeping was brushed off with a wave of manicured fingernails.

Scorpius didn't trust his stomach to handle another long-distance Apparition. He Flooed to Ottery St. Catchpole from Salisbury. Once he Apparated to the orchard, the memory of Rose telling him she loved him sent his Patronus shooting like a rocket through the trees.

And then it hit him. Granny Weasley, Lucy and Molly—whoever was around—would see a ghostly mongoose. He'd have to ask them not to tell or else use Memory Charms.

He trudged onward and came across Rose flying on a broomstick.

She landed beside him. "I was alone in the garden, no one else saw your Patronus."

"Thank Merlin." He wouldn't have to choose between unpleasant options.

Rose dismounted. "Is my surprise in the box, the basket, or the case?"

"The case." He set it on the ground and handed her the box tucked under his arm. "The sweets are from my grandmother." He lifted the basket. "Mrs. Stevens sent the picnic."

"How thoughtful." Rose's eyes were on the metal case. "Do I get my surprise now?"

"Not yet."

"I'll carry it!" Rose grabbed the handle.

Scorpius didn't object. The case was padded and featherlight. She wouldn't gain any clues from it. "Let's walk instead of fly," he said, amused by Rose's knowing glance. She thought the surprise was fragile.

They rambled past the family's makeshift Quidditch pitch to the back garden where Lucy and Lysander race-walked with toads on their heads.

"Hullo, Scorpius!" Lucy waved with the hand not supporting her toad and altered her course.

"You forfeit. I win!" Lysander cried.

"Who cares? I get chocolates!" Lucy beamed at Rose. "That box is from Honeydukes, isn't it?"

"Yes, and you can have a sweet if you explain what you're doing."

Lucy patted her toad. "We tried to race Sigyn and Loki but they wanted to race us instead."

Lysander ambled over. "Loki wants to play in the tree house now."

"Take this to the kitchen first." Scorpius handed Lysander the basket.

Rose gave Lucy the sweets. "Share a few chocolates if you like."

The two resembled a pair of waddling ducks as they sped to the house. Scorpius drew Rose over to the side of the garden. "Hurry. They'll be back any minute."

She climbed the tree house ladder, giving him a view of her legs in shorts that were actually short instead of falsely named and ending below the knees. He appreciated the difference, almost as much as he hoped she'd appreciate his surprise.

It was hard to tell when he unlocked the case and opened the lid. Rose stared at what lay within. "Oh my," she whispered. "Am I the first?"

"Yes."

She bit her lip. "You never wanted to—"

"Not with anyone else."

Rose lifted out a work of art from its custom foam padding. "She's exquisite."

"She's you."

"The Enchantress," Rose murmured, examining the mint-condition, limited edition action figure. She gave Scorpius a sultry look. "This doesn't change anything. I have plans."

He took the Green Knight out of the case. "Break them."

"I'd rather take you down hard and make you like it."

Rose Weasley playing the bad girl. Damn, she was good. "Don't expect me to fight fair," Scorpius said. "I'm not Super Wizard. I don't play by the rules."

"That's why you're my favourite." Rose blew him a kiss.

Lucy's voice rose through the opening in the floor of the tree house. "We want to play too!"

"I hear super-spoilsports. Ciao, bello." Rose put the figure behind her back. "The Enchantress Apparates to her secret lair—as soon as I figure out where that is."

Scorpius pointed to the case. "It's in the second compartment beneath the action figures."

"The second compartment? How much stuff do you have?"

He picked up the figure of Green Knight's business tycoon alter ego. "Millionaires love their toys."

It turned out Head Girls and first years did too. Rose, Lucy, and Lysander exclaimed over the sets and played their roles with fervour. The Enchantress, along with her evil toad minions, stole a fortune in jewels from the wizarding elite. Each time she narrowly eluded capture until the Green Knight, Super Wizard, and Wonder Witch banded together to discover her lair and put an end to the crime spree.

"I saved the Green Knight from being enchanted," Lysander told Mrs. Weasley when she asked about their game during tea. He frowned at Scorpius. "Next time don't kiss her!"

"It was action figures, Gran," Rose said. "Part of the story."

Later at Thornhill Square, Rose stayed downstairs to "say goodnight" and twined her arms around his neck. "You're mine now. No one will save you."

"I don't want to be saved." Scorpius fell willingly into enchantment.




The next morning, Scorpius tried to save Rose from the snobbery of his relatives, every last one of whom appeared gathered on platform nine and three quarters. "I avoid most of these people even at Christmas," he said. "You stay here. They'll probably leave when they find out magical law enforcement's banned journalists from the station and they won't be in the papers."

"I'm not letting go of your hand," Rose replied. "So detach it or bring me with you."

"It's the reattachment that's the tricky part," Scorpius said as they picked their way through the crowd.

Grandmother Narcissa rushed over, white robes fluttering, distaste etched on her features. "No wand use allowed in the station and your Grandmother Phoebe wears the most atrocious perfume. Eau de funeral flowers, I'd swear it. I have a headache worse than the time Minister Fudge ruined the Quidditch World Cup with his ghastly cologne."

Scorpius cast a nonverbal fresh air spell. Grandmother had never learned wandless magic.

"Thank you, dear," she said, turning to Rose. "You must be Miss Weasley."

"Nice to meet you, ma'am. Thank you for the sweets."

"It was nothing. Do I smell D'Orange Vert? Charming."

"I should introduce Rose to the others," Scorpius said, to prevent Grandmother asking how Rose and her grandson came to use the same toiletries.

His parents said hello cordially, his grandfather with a mocking gleam in his eye. Of the Greengrass relations, aside from Aunt Daphne, Uncle Michael, and Cousin David, the majority acknowledged Rose with chilled politeness.

"I had no idea you were related to David Corner," Rose said as they retraced their path so she could tell her parents goodbye.

"I barely know him. Aunt Daphne prefers her Ravenclaw in-laws."

"That's sad." Rose's face brightened. "Maybe you'll see them more now that your parents have their own flat. You and David can become friends."

Because he and his parents now measured up to the Corners' idea of acceptability? Scorpius shrugged. Conditional friendship wasn't worth much to him. He had plenty of that already in Slytherin House.

After they boarded the train and stowed their gear, they went to the Prefect carriage. Scorpius listened to Rose give the patrol assignments. He raised his hand. "Martin took my patrol. I'll take his this time." Rose had assigned Scorpius the last patrol with her. Martin was on the first, patrolling the head of the train—the Slytherin compartments.

"All right." Rose gave him one of her speaking glances. If they hurt you, they'll be sorry!

He didn't anticipate physical violence, but Scorpius had expected to be ignored or given dirty looks. It felt weird to receive curious stares and the occasional amicable greeting. He made his way to the first compartment of the first carriage. Edgar sat on a bench across from Nott and Willoughby, reading a paper.

Nott opened the door. "We were just talking about you!"

"We were laying bets on whether you'd autograph my paper," Edgar said.

Scorpius was riveted by the Intruder headline so large it almost obscured the front-page photograph.

YES! WE'RE DATING!

"It's a decent picture if you want to frame it," Willoughby said.

"Or tear it out and carry it in your wallet." Edgar smirked.

Nott said, "Can't. It's too big. He'd have to shrink it."

Scorpius sat on the bench next to Edgar and conjured a quill. He took the paper. "Do you prefer, 'Thanks a lot, you git', or 'you bastard'?"

Nott's groan drowned out Edgar's rumbling chuckle. "I bet five Galleons you'd say 'arse'."

"I bet two you'd set the paper on fire," Willoughby said.

"I did consider turning it to ash." But Rose's picture was too pretty to destroy. Scorpius folded the paper and handed it to Edgar. "Well, it's obvious how I spent my holiday. What have you three done?"

"We became Knights," Nott said.

"Besides that."

Willoughby said, "Goyle signed a betrothal contract."

"You're taking the piss."

"He isn't," Edgar said. "I'm engaged."

For someone who was smarter than people thought, his best mate certainly acted as if he had excrement for brains. "Not Orna Bletchley."

"No."

Only one other girl came to mind. "Marianne?"

Willoughby banged his fist against the window. "I lose again! How did you guess my sister?"

"They're pen friends."

"You never told us that." Nott's tone was accusing.

Scorpius said, "Did you think every owl was from his mother?"

Nott and Willoughby traded guilty looks.

Edgar asked, "Will you stand with me at the joining ceremony?"

"Not if it's soon." His friend was eighteen, only really knew the girl through letters. It would be mental to rush.

"The betrothal lasts a year," Edgar said.

"And you're sure I'm the best man?" Scorpius had to ask. "Things have changed."

"Doesn't matter. You'll see."

Scorpius wanted to believe it. He didn't want to lose Edgar's friendship, or Willoughby and Nott's. What would he trade it for; being mates with David, who pretended they weren't related until he found out Scorpius' girlfriend was Rose Weasley? "Okay," he said. "We'll see."

 

~*~



A/N: In GoF, Harry described Narcissa as looking as if there were something smelly beneath her nose. I couldn't help think, "What if there was? Literally!"  Next chapter is the last (until the one shot and the sequel ^_~), and if anyone notices a slight gap in updates, it’s because I’m posting a Ron pov one shot that goes along with this chapter. It’s called Love in an Elevator and I hope readers will look for it: even those who get a bit squeamish at the thought of parents talking sexy. :D

 

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