Scorpius sighed at the tedium of it all. "Grandmother, I'm sure the measurement was correct the first two times," he said dully. "You don't have to measure it again… so what if one sleeve is slightly longer than the other?"

Narcissa Malfoy sighed in return. "Scorpius, aren't you taking any pride in his arrangement? The whole pureblood community will be there, everything must be perfect. So what indeed…"

Scorpius shrugged passively. "If you say so,"

Aubrey was in the kitchen making everyone a light snack while his grandmother fussed over his wedding robes, which was evidently beginning to wear on the nerves of Madam Malkin; Scorpius felt her pain. As far as he was concerned they looked perfectly fine, with no need of alteration at all.

His mother, meanwhile, was observing the proceedings from her favourite armchair, a faint crease between her eyebrows. She got up from her chair and walked over to her pernickety mother-in-law. "Narcissa, I'm quite sure the measurements are accurate. You wouldn't want Madam Malkin to miss her next appointment, would you?"

Madam Malkin nodded ferverently, looking with gratitude at Astoria before quickly packing up her equipment and leaving the Manor. Thank goodness that's over, Scorpius thought to himself.

"Narcissa, would you be so kind as to allow me a moment alone with my son? I'm sure you can offer some of your expertise to Aubrey in the kitchen,"

Behind his mother, Scorpius was trying hard not to smirk. First of all, both he and his mother were fully aware that Narcissa Malfoy had never made a meal for herself in her life; his grandparents had house-elves for that. Second of all, he knew that Aubrey would be anything but thankful of her 'expertise'.

"If I must," she replied, pursing her lips and sweeping from the room toward the kitchen.

"Muffliato," whispered Astoria, flicking her wand in the direction of the door to ensure they would not be overheard. She then turned to her son. "Scorpius, is something wrong? I don't think I've seen you smile once this afternoon. In fact I don't think I've seen you smile once in the past week. If you're unhappy, tell me, please."

Scorpius took this moment to inspect the new shoes he had on, his wedding shoes; his nose wrinkled. These are hideous. He was aware that his mother was attempting to look him in the eye.

"Scorpius, don't do that to me. Don't avoid me like that. You are happy with this arrangement… you do love her? Scorpius, I'll be proud of you whatever the answer. I just want you to be happy."

Scorpius met her eyes. "I'm fine with it."

"Fine with it? What sort of answer…" she looked down at the floor for a second, considering before drawing herself up to full height. "Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy, don't you evade my questions. Do you love her or not?"

Scorpius sighed. "No…" he replied honestly, "but I can learn to,"

"Learn to? Scorpius, no… no you can't… why would you consent to such a thing if you are not in love with her?"

"Because-"

He was interrupted by the sound of a knock at the front door. Astoria looked at Scorpius with immense concern. "That'll be Aubrey's parents. Scorpius, listen to me. I want you to go and have a serious talk to her. You need to decide whether this is really what you want to do, both of you. Don't think of what your father or grandparents will think; decide what your heart wants. It will change nothing if you wish to call the wedding off. Now I don't wish to pressure you, but you need to make this decision immediately. Send your grandmother back here to greet them. Go,"

Scorpius understood the seriousness of the situation, and had never been more grateful to his mother in his life; she was offering him a way out. He practically flew across the room into the kitchen, flinging the door open. His grandmother was standing at one side of the room and Aubrey at the other. "Grandmother, Aubrey's parents are here. Mother requested that you go to greet them with her."

"Very well," said Narcissa, leaving the room.

"Aubrey, is this- what's the matter? Why are you crying?"

Aubrey was red-faced, her cheeks were tear-streaked and she was sobbing.

"What happened… tell me," said Scorpius gently, embracing her softly.

Aubrey attempted to wipe the tears away. "It's alright, I'm fine, I just… I hate her Scorpius, I really do."

He stepped back and observed her sympathetically. "In that case, we need to think about what we're going to do," he began. Aubrey looked up at him, bemused. "Is this really what you want? Aubrey, you're a lovely girl, and you should be everything I've ever wanted… but I don't love you. And there's someone else you'd rather be with, isn't there?"

Aubrey sniffed to herself, nodding at him silently. "What will we do?"

"We call off the wedding," he replied simply.

"But our parents... and what about your grandparents, they'll be furious,"

"Well, first there's the fact that we'll outlive them," he began jokingly, Aubrey snorting and grinning at this suggestion, "And second, their anger will wear off eventually. But you have to understand, Aubrey… if we go through with this we're going to be miserable forever."

"But my parents… you don't know how much this will hurt them,"

"No more than it will to see you suffering for the rest of their lives. They love you, Aubrey, they may not like it but they'll come to terms with it. If they disown you for following your heart, then perhaps they really aren't very good parents after all."

Aubrey smiled brightly at him, surprising him with a strong hug. "Thank you… and Scorpius, I hope you know that you're a great person. Lily will be lucky to have you… I'm sure she'll make you happier than I ever could."

Scorpius was astounded. "How did you know about Lily?"

Aubrey grinned. "A friend," she replied teasingly, wiping any residual tears or signs thereof from her face. "Now, I suppose we'd better get it over and done with eh? The blow-up isn't going to be pretty…"

--

The blow up was, indeed, substantial. Scorpius was quite sure his grandmother had almost had a coronary, while his grandfather looked absolutely furious. His father looked most displeased, and Aubrey's parents were horrified.

Astoria, however, was beaming at him, quite understanding of the fact that he had also decided to move out, though she would be sad to see him leave. She had come up to him after Aubrey's parents had left with their daughter and his grandparents were in another room, his grandmother undoubtedly searching for the smelling salts, and hugged him warmly. "I'm so proud of you, Scorpius. You did the right thing. Now, I see you looking at your watch every two minutes, so go wherever you have to be. Maybe it would be best if you didn't return for a couple of hours, give me time to work on your father's temper, alright?"

Scorpius hugged her tightly. "Thankyou. I love you, mum." He stepped back, giving his father a nod (which, to his astonishment, was returned) before disappearing from the atrium with a pop.

--

He reappeared in the reception of St. Mungo's, reflecting that perhaps talking to his parents and grandparents was the easy part. After all, he had yelled at Lily, not trusting her enough to even hear out her point of view, insulted her quite on patrol duty, called her a slut, threatened to hex her brother… in his mind, the list carried on. What if she hated him after all he had said, and that was why she hadn't tried to see him? Perhaps he had been the one to mess things up in the end.

The nauseous feeling in his stomach only confirmed that this was perhaps to be his biggest challenge yet.

Scorpius reflected on the oddity of his situation; at the beginning of the year he would never have had the courage, the daring to even think of what he was about to do. But she had given him courage, the ability to stand up for himself and be assertive. And now, for the first time in years, Scorpius was going to go for what he wanted, risking rejection from the girl he now realised he should never have let go.

What would happen if Lily said no? He wouldn't allow himself to think of it; if he did he would end up talking himself out of it. Scorpius wanted to get this over with while the adrenaline of standing up to his family (if they didn't disown him after today) was still pumping through his veins.

Luckily he didn't need to go to the welcome witch to ask where the potions department was. He'd been to St. Mungo's when he was younger to visit his grandmother and wound up getting lost; instead of Spell Damage he had wound up in the Potions department. He walked quickly up the flights of stairs, determined upon his destination and purpose. For one of the first times in his life, Scorpius Malfoy was not going to back down.

There was however, the slight problem of his not having any idea where Lily was in the ward. The best place for him to ask someone, he figured, would be the office. It didn't seem too busy today, so hopefully no one would mind if he took away a few minutes of her time. He knocked on the door apprehensively, relieved when he realised the voice that called for him to come in was Rose's.

"Hi Rose," he said with false cheer, hiding the feelings of anxiety.

"Hello, Scorpius, how can I help you?" she asked, looking up from her work, though the look in her eyes told him she knew all too well why he was here.

"You remember what we talked about before, and, well, I was just wondering if you could tell me where Lily is?"

"Room 425, I believe," she replied matter-of-factly. "Would you like me to take you there?"

Scorpius waved her words away, shaking his head. "No, that won't be necessary, I'll find it. Oh, and Rose? Thanks." She grinned at him as he left the room, his heart pounding rhythmically.

Room 425 was only a few rooms away. Scorpius took a deep breath to steel himself, and without a second thought, walked up to the open door. There she was, her back to him, attempting to open a window so the patient could get some fresh air; Lily, having inherited her mother's body structure, wasn't quite tall enough to reach the latch of the high window. Her hair was black again, he noticed, and wondered why she had once again decided to abandon her bright, natural red.

Taking a deep breath, he stepped forward.


Author's Note: I'm sorry! I couldn't waste the opportunity to use my most evil cliffhanger ever... but don't worry, in the next chapter things really are resolved, and our story comes to an end. For now, please leave a review, and don't throw rotten fruits at me :)

Disclaimer: I own Riley Archer and Aubrey Harper, however everything else belongs to JKRowling.