Note from the Author: Hello! As promised, the companion to Among Thorns! If you haven't read that one, don't worry. This story stands on its own. For anyone who might be concerned that this will essentially be Among Thorns all over again, don't worry. Some of the scenes will be the same, from a different POV, but there are mostly brand new scenes.

For anyone who followed Among Thorns and was very proud of how quickly it was updated, I'm warning you now not to expect the same thing. That story was already completely written prior to posting -- this one isn't. I won't be updating every day. I'm going to try and update every week, but I am making absolutely no promises on that front -- because then I won't feel bad if life springs up and I have to break them. :)

That being said, I hope you enjoy this story!

Scenes in italics are scenes from the past.

DISCLAIMER: Don't own any of it, never have, and most likely never will.

Fighting Briars

With a determined and resolute sigh, the man pressed the ring bearing his family's crest against the molten wax onto the back of the parchment envelope. Once the message had been safely attached to the leg of the family owl, he hesitated only a moment before releasing the bird into the morning sky. With a tap of his wand, he cleaned the ring of the waxy residue and put it away in its case, then closed it once more in the old writing desk until some other loathsome or troubling task required that level of formality.

With another sigh, more troubled and pensive this time, he stood in front of the open window of his study, watching the bird fly away to the west until it was little more than a black speck on the horizon. It was done.

"Draco?" Draco Malfoy turned to see his wife Astoria standing in the doorway.

"It's done," he said quietly to her.

"The Ridgetons agreed?" she asked, knowing immediately what he meant. Draco nodded, turning back to the window.

"I just sent our reply."

"Then what troubles you?" she asked quietly, crossing to him, laying a hand on his arm. He did not respond. Following his gaze, she looked out the window to where their two-year-old son was playing in the garden with his nurse. As they watched, the nurse shot a number of brightly colored bubbles out of the end of her wand. Scorpius' gurgling laughter filtered through the open window. "You did right, Draco," Astoria said, her voice still soft.

"I did to him exactly what my father did to me," Draco said in a tight voice, subconsciously rubbing his left forearm. Gently, Astoria took his hand in her own, looking up at him coyly.

"Are you complaining?" The remark earned a real smile from her husband.

"Of course not," he said, giving her hand a squeeze.

"It's not as if you've signed his life away," she said softly then. "He can negate the arrangement at any time, and, by the way, so can she. This is just a back-up. So he'll have someone. The Ridgetons are a good family, and completely unconnected with the nonsense of the past. You made the right choice in asking them."

"I know," Draco said, but he sounded still slightly unsure. "I only wonder if he'll understand that."

"He will," she said with conviction, watching now as young Scorpius toddled awkwardly on his chubby legs, trying to chase the bubbles that refused to be caught. "You are not the man your father was, Draco. Neither are you the man you were during the war. You have worked to distance yourself from your actions. He will not have to face the battles you did."

"He will have battles enough because of me, though," Draco said bitterly. "He will have to fight through briars his entire life because of me and the things I did."

"Then be glad that today you have ensured that at the end of it, he might have a wife who will not judge him for the things you did," she said with finality. "Come. Let us go celebrate the deal that has been made. For Scorpius and Honoria."

"For Scorpius and Honoria," Draco repeated quietly before following his wife out into the garden.

"And who can tell me the three main reasons given by Death Eaters under questioning for their involvement in the Second Dark War?"

Twenty-year-old Scorpius Malfoy let the other members of his class provide the answer to the question – fear, power, or pureblood mania – then raised his own hand into the air just as his instructor was turning his back to tap some writing onto the chalkboard. Auror Ron Weasley froze when he saw whose hand was in the hand and gave Scorpius a calculating look. "Yes, Mr. Malfoy?" he said in a guarded tone.

"It is important to note, sir, that while those may be the three main reasons, they are by no means all of the reasons. Many or even most of Lord Voldemort's Death Eaters may have been in the war for reasons of fear, power, or pureblood mania, as my esteemed classmates have suggested, but there were Death Eaters involved for reasons more noble, such as a desire to protect their families or loved ones' lives."

"Such a desire would fall under the category of 'fear,' would it not, Mr. Malfoy?" Auror Weasley asked, crossing his arms.

"To a certain extent, yes, sir," Scorpius conceded. "But we are talking about fear for one's own well-being as opposed to fear for the well-being of others. I think the distinction is an important one."

"Then we shall make it," Auror Weasley said. "Yes, Mr. Malfoy has a valid, if somewhat irrelevant, point. Some became Death Eaters out of necessity, believing such actions to be the only ways to keep their loved ones safe. Voldemort gathered support using any and every method available to him, including the politics of fear, a topic you will all need to be familiar with for next week's examination." A murmur of laughter echoed through the room, making Auror Weasley smile. "Very well, you're all dismissed until after lunch, when you'll report to your training squads."

There was a great uproar then as the twenty or so third-year Auror students hurried to make their way out of the room, all talking and laughing. A few shouted to Scorpius, but he merely exchanged smiles with them and hung back.

When Auror Weasley looked up from cleaning the board to see the classroom empty but for Scorpius Malfoy, he did not seem surprised. "You like to do that, don't you?" he asked, sitting on the edge of his desk.

"Sir?" Scorpius questioned, his tone carefully puzzled but innocent. But Auror Weasley wasn't fooled.

"Throw your father in my face to see if I flinch," he said, a smile playing on his lips. At that, Scorpius could no longer hide the grin that had been threatening to spill out since he had raised his hand to speak.

"And you never do," he said, mimicking his mentor's position. "It's really very disappointing, you know." When Auror Weasley raised an eyebrow, he explained. "Everyone's always talking about this intense hatred between you and my father, yet I can't get you to say a single word against him, though I have been trying for nearly three years."

"I wonder what Draco Malfoy has to say about that," Auror Weasley muttered. Scorpius grinned again.

"He is quite irritated by it because it renders him completely unable to say anything against you." Auror Weasley smiled then.

"That's almost worth it," he said, earning a laugh from his student. "Go on! Out with you!" he said then, flapping his hands toward the door. "You've got an hour for lunch, and then you need to be back here, promptly!"

"Aye, sir!" Scorpius said, giving his mentor a mock salute and slipping out the door.

Three years ago, when he'd been admitted to the program, he'd been assigned to Auror Ron Weasley's squad of four Aurors-in-training. At the time, he'd had a strong aversion to the assignment for a variety of reasons, strong enough to go to the Head Auror, Harry Potter, and request a change. Luckily, Auror Potter had convinced him to stick with Auror Weasley, and indeed, partially through his determination to succeed on his own merit and partly through his dedication and hard work, he had won the Auror's respect, and the two of them had even begun to develop a kind of friendship, born out of the strong mentor/student relationship they shared.

Scorpius mused on all of this as he headed out of the Auror's Wing. Lost in thought, he was only jerked out of his musings when, upon rounding a corner, he ran straight into someone coming around from the other side.

In a flurry of parchment scrolls and the clatter of a wand on the hallway floor, a young lady went flying to the floor. Mortified, Scorpius immediately knelt and began picking up scrolls, offering a hasty apology, even as she did the same.

"Merlin, I'm so sorry, I –"

"No, it was my fault, I –"

"– wasn't watching where I was going –"

"– wasn't really paying attention –"

"– just in a hurry, it's my first day –"

"– hope you're all right?"

"Yes, thank you," she said softly. There were two scrolls left on the ground. He picked one up and reached for the other, at the same time that the girl did, but Scorpius got there first. Picking it up, he handed it to her with a smile, really getting a good look at her for the first time.

He almost dropped the scroll. There, kneeling on the ground beside him, staring up at him, was Rose Weasley. He felt the smile slide off his face, and some detached corner of his mind wondering what must be showing across his face.

"Scorpius . . ." she whispered. She looked stunned to see him. Wordlessly, he stood and offered her his free hand and helped her to her feet.

Realizing belatedly that he should probably say something, he cast around desperately for something to say. Unfortunately, their last meeting was all that rose to the front of his mind, and he was hardly going to mention that. "Rose Weasley," he said, carefully guarding his tone. "Of all the people to . . . it's been –"

"Three years," she finished for him. He stared at her, trying to sort out his thoughts. He knew she wasn't supposed to be here.

"Al said you were traveling the world?" he said by way of asking her what she was doing down the corridor to the Auror classrooms and offices.

"Oh, I, uh, yes," was her less than coherent reply. She looked very flustered, and didn't seem to want to meet his eye. "With Ivanna Krum, a friend of mine. We, uh, took an extended World Tour."

"And now you're working at the Ministry?" he asked. He needed to know if running into her was going to be a common occurrence.

She swallowed and nodded. "In the International Liaison's Office," she said. "I'm interning there."

He shook his head, a small grin springing up on his face before he could stop it. Some things, it seemed, never changed. "That's a competitive program. You always did have to be the best, yeah?" Then he remembered their last meeting again and why things could never be the way they had been before, because of what she'd done. His grin halted on his face before it had truly formed. The moment grew awkward. One glance at her told him that she was remembering the same things he was. Though not, he thought bitterly, that she's showing much regret. "Well," he said with a clearing of his throat. "You're obviously headed somewhere, so I'll let you –"

"What are you doing down here?" The question came out in a rush, as if she hadn't really meant to say it. It was followed immediately by a reddening of her face. His eyebrows shot up, though since she wasn't making eye contact, she probably didn't see.

"I'm, uh, in the Auror program," he said. "Just finishing my final year. I'm surprised Al didn't tell you." Or your dad, for that matter, he finished in his head. She really hadn't known?

"Oh, well, I, uh, haven't really had a lot of time to chat in the past three years," she muttered toward the floor. His eyes narrowed. 'Chatting' aside, this was big enough news to have made it to her. Something else was afoot here, and Scorpius felt a lump of anger rise in his throat at what had happened the last time something concerning Rose had been 'afoot.'

"I understand," he said, not quite managing to keep the edge out of his voice.

"Well, I should get back to work," she said softly after a pause.

"Yeah," he said, the edge not going away. "Yeah, me too." He realized his still had one of her scrolls. Awkwardly, he held it out to her. She took it from him, meeting his eyes for one fleeting moment.

And suddenly, he needed to get away from her, to get out of her presence. He stepped to the side to let her pass just as she stepped to the same side. Once again, they danced around each other before he managed to slip past her with a tight smile and disappear around the corner.

He hurried up a small flight of stairs, not realizing until he had reached the top that his hands were clenched into fists. With one deep breath, he forced himself to relax and attempted to release the anger that had welled up rapidly in him at the sight of her.

It seemed three years away from her hadn't really done a thing.

Eleven-year-old Scorpius sat quietly, resting his head against the velvet covered wall of the train compartment, watching the countryside stream past. For nearly the first time since the train ride had started hours before, the compartment was silent. His companions were as silent and lost in thought as he himself was.

Two days ago, he would have been hard pressed to believe that this was how this day would be ending. Two days ago, his father had taken him aside "to explain some things." If Scorpius had been hoping that this talk would include some helpful advice or some real explanations about some of the questions he had – like why they never saw Grandfather Lucius anymore or why his father never seemed to like being in public – he was sorely disappointed. The explanation from his father had mostly only talked about the Swearing Ceremony he and Honoria had undergone a few days before and its importance, which was followed by a short and somewhat cryptic warning that he might encounter some people at Hogwarts who would be unfriendly to him, and that he was advised to simply avoid these people if at all possible.

His father had never mentioned the Potters or the Weasleys by name, but it didn't take much beyond the tightening of his father's hands on his shoulders at the station for Scorpius to know who he had been talking about. The only other thing like advice he had received had come just before he climbed onto the train when he father said, very quietly into his ear, "Always remember, Scorpius. You are a Malfoy. You know what it means. You are a Malfoy." That was it.

So when a Potter and a Weasley had shown up in his compartment, asking to share it, Scorpius' shock had been great indeed. It had grown even greater when he had been shown very forcefully by Rose Weasley that his father's suggestion of trying to avoid unpleasantries wasn't going to work.

But the greatest surprise of all had come in realizing how well he was able to talk to Rose and Al, how well the three of them got along, and how much they had in common. Scorpius hadn't spent much time around kids his own age, except for Honoria, and even her he only saw once or twice a year. His father had wanted to keep him away from the children of his former acquaintances – another question Scorpius had never gotten answered.

You are a Malfoy. You know what it means.

But he didn't. Not really. He'd thought, as he'd boarded the train, that it didn't matter, that he didn't have to think about it or puzzle it out now. But that had changed the minute Al and Rose had appeared and decided to be his friends.

His friends. He had friends. And they weren't even at Hogwarts yet. But they presented a problem. They were a Potter and a Weasley, shoe-ins for Gryffindor if he'd ever met any. And he was Malfoy. He may not have known exactly what that meant, but one thing he knew for sure was that it meant Slytherin. And he also knew that while the animosity that had existed between those two houses while his father was at school was nowhere near as intense now, it was still relatively unlikely that people Sorted into those two Houses would retain a close friendship.

It was only a few moments later that Rose, as if she'd been reading his mind, spoke up softly. "Where do you think you'll end up?"

Though he'd heard the words, looking across the compartment at her, he couldn't be completely sure she'd actually spoken. She hadn't changed her position at all. She was still sitting cross-legged on the seat across from him, her eyes downcast, her hands playing with the end of her long dark red plait.

Quickly, Scorpius glanced at Al, who was sitting beside him, but Al's attention never wavered from his book. He looked back to Rose, and now she was watching him, meeting his eyes, and her hands had stilled, the braid slipping through her fingers to rest against her shoulder. She held his gaze and waited for her answer, looking as hesitant and uneasy as he felt.

Shrugging hesitantly, his insides squirming uncomfortably, he broke her gaze and stared resolutely at the carpet. "Slytherin, I expect," he said quietly. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Al's book lower the slightest fraction.

"Why?" Rose asked, and he risked glancing up. She had her head tilted to one side, considering him.

"I'm a Malfoy," he said simply. She looked down, looking disappointed and a little upset.

"Yes," she said softly. "And I'm a Weasley." There was silence for a long time."So . . . what does that mean for us?" Rose asked hesitantly. Scorpius felt the question settle heavily in his stomach. Al had returned to his book, but eyes weren't moving, and there was a frown on his face.

"I don't know," he said helplessly.

"What if it wasn't about that?" Al said, speaking for the first time. Scorpius and Rose both turned to look at him.

"What do you mean?" Scorpius asked, confused.

"Forget tradition and family and all that," Al said. "If you could choose. Where would you go?" The question caught Scorpius off-guard. He'd never really thought about it. He'd spent so long assuming he'd automatically go into the House of his family. He'd always been uncomfortable with the idea, but he'd always assumed that was just something he'd have to live with. Al's attention was focused on his cousin. "I know you, Rose. You wouldn't choose Gryffindor."

"No," she said, almost impatiently. "But what does it matter, Al, what I would choose? I'm a Weasley. That means I'm a Gryffindor. Scorpius is a Malfoy. That means he's a Slytherin."

"Just answer the question, Rose," Al insisted. She rolled her eyes, but uneasily answered the question.

"I guess . . . I wouldn't mind Ravenclaw," she said carefully, and once the words were out of her mouth, Scorpius knew he agreed with her. He had never been confident in his ambition or his bravery or his loyalty, but he had always been confident in his mind and his ability to think through a problem.

"Ravenclaw's where I'd want to end up," Al said with conviction, which gave Scorpius enough confidence to nod and say, "Me, too."

"See?" Al said with a grin. "We could all end up in the same place, and then it'd be easy to keep being friends." But Rose wasn't convinced.

"But it doesn't matter what we want, Al," she pointed out, frowning. "No Weasley, or Potter for that matter, has been anywhere besides Gryffindor for generations."

"Same with the Malfoys and Slytherin," Scorpius added, but Al dismissed their protests with an impatient wave of his hand, then leaned in conspiratorially, beckoning each of them closer with a finger. With a bemused look shared with Rose, they complied.

"My dad said the Hat takes your choice into consideration," Al whispered as if with this piece of knowledge, he had just solved all their problems. Rose fixed her cousin with a withering gaze.

"Al, why should the Hat care what we want? We're eleven years old." Scorpius thought she had a rather good point.

"Why shouldn't it?" Al shot back. "What are you going to do? Just let it put you in Gryffindor? You're terrified of Gryffindor!"

"I am not!" Rose yelled, crossing her arms angrily. "I just think it would be the easier choice in the long run."

"So you would choose Gryffindor?" Al challenged. Rose colored angrily.

"I didn't say that," she said pointedly.

"Well, I don't see what it can hurt to at least try," Al said to both of them. Rose didn't say anything in response, but Scorpius could tell she was upset by the idea, and he knew that it was likely both the thought of being in her family's House and not being there.

"I just want to be in the same House with one or both of you," Scorpius said quietly. "I don't much care where that is."

And for the remainder of the trip, he tried to believe that. By the time the train reached it's destination, though, all he was convinced of was that he, whatever he personally might want, was headed for Slytherin. Rose was right. It would just be easier.

It was with that calming thought that he walked to the front of the Great Hall a few hours later and sat on the stool as the Hat slid down over his eyes.

I am a Malfoy, he thought as the Hat muttered into his ear. And tonight I'll be able to write to Father and tell him I was Sorted into –


Frowning deeply, Scorpius squinted against the bright sunlight and scanned the crowd of people eating outside The Leaky Cauldron, looking for his best friend. Last night, he'd gotten an owl from Al, inviting him to lunch today, but now that he was here, Al was nowhere to be seen.

There was, however, someone that Scorpius knew present outside the pub. Rose Weasley was sitting at a table by herself, reading a book. There was only a glass of lemonade on the table in front of her. As Scorpius watched, she looked up from her book, scanned the crowd, then sighed and checked her watch. Then, a look of annoyance on her face, she went back to her reading.

Just then someone jostled against Scorpius' shoulder, and he realized belatedly that he'd been standing without moving in the middle of the street. Looking once more at Rose, he sighed heavily and realized there was no help for it. He would have to approach her. She and Al were close; she might have some idea where he was.

He hadn't seen her since their encounter at the Ministry at the beginning of the week, but he hadn't been able to forget about her, and he had been more aware than ever that his trainer was her father and his supervisor was her uncle and his best friend was her cousin. It didn't matter where he went. Since she had come back from her Tour, he hadn't seemed to be able to escape her.

He unclenched his fists, not remembering when he had tensed them in the first place. Cursing silently, he forced himself to relax, irritated that the prospect of approaching her had such an affect on him. He was determined to get past this. He would be polite, he would be civil, he would be detached. He was making a simple inquiry; that was all.

He squeezed through the crowd until he came up behind her chair. "Rose," he said calmly. She jumped in surprise and managed to shut her finger in her book. Scorpius deliberately ignored this.

"Scorpius," she said, turning to look up at him. "To what do I owe the pleasure?" Her tone rankled somewhere in the back of his mind. She sound stiff, like she was determined to be civil and polite, trying not to be angry with him. In Scorpius' mind, she had given up the right to be angry with him three years ago.

Polite. Detached, he reminded himself before he spoke. "I'm supposed to be meeting Al for lunch," he said formally. "He said to meet him here, but I haven't seen any sign of him." Much to Scorpius' bewilderment, her eyes narrowed in irritation.

Her next words cleared up his confusion. "That's odd, because Al also told me to meet him here." She glared then, in the direction of St. Mungo's, and Scorpius understood. Fighting rising irritation of his own, he slipped into the vacant seat beside her.

"Ah, so, he isn't late, but rather, 'late,'" he said, punctuating his last word with air quotes.

She nodded, her eyes blazing. "My cousin is doing what he does best," she growled. "Meddling." For a moment, Scorpius pitied Al. He and Rose had often sighed in mutual irritation over Al's escapades. For a moment, they might have been back there again. How many times during school had he seen that look on Rose's face, knowing what would follow . . .

But the moment soon passed as Scorpius painfully remembered that this Rose was not that Rose, that something had changed in her, and she was not the person he had thought he knew.

The silence that descended on them then was, at first, awkward, but within a few moments, it had grown heavy and oppressive. As he glanced sidelong at her, Scorpius could see that Rose looked as uncomfortable as he felt. For a moment, he allowed himself to gain vindictive pleasure from her discomfort, but then his conscious kicked in. It was he who had inflicted this particular discomfort on the both of him.

Feeling the need to break the silence, Scorpius said the first thing that came to mind. "So, how was your first week?"

"Good," she said shortly. "I'm – really enjoying it."

"Good, that's, uh . . . that's good," was his response, and then he was out of things to say. He would kill Al for this, he really would. It was bad enough simply knowing she was back in England, for it meant that he was suddenly unable to keep himself from thinking of her every day instead of every week. Now Al was going out of his way to push them together, not knowing anything of the circumstances that had forced them apart in the first place.

He was on the verge of excusing himself, as much to get away from his conflicting emotions as anything else, when she spoke.

"Tell me about your fiancé," she said. The question caught him off guard.

"What?" he asked dumbly, shocked.

"Your fiancé," she repeated carefully. "Al said you were getting married."

"I'm not," was his immediate response. Rose arched an eyebrow.

"So there isn't going to be a Bonding Ceremony this summer?" Scorpius colored and looked away.

"Oh, that. Well, yes, there is, I suppose," he said awkwardly. He cursed Al mentally. His best friend would be receiving a serious piece of his mind the next time Scorpius encountered him.

"So, tell me about the girl. What's her name?" Rose asked. There was nothing Scorpius could do except answer as simply as possible.

"Honoria," he said carefully. "Honoria Ridgeton."

"She's from England?" was the next question.

"Wales," Scorpius answered, watching her somewhat warily. There was an edge to her voice that he couldn't make sense of. She didn't sound irritated or angry, but he knew there was something behind these questions.

"Ah, so she didn't go to Hogwarts then."

"No, she was – educated at a small school in Wales," Scorpius said, frowning slightly. "You should meet her though; you'd like her." He almost flinched. The last thing he wanted to do was introduce Rose and Honoria.

But clearly, for other reasons, that had been the wrong thing to say.

"It's a wonder I've never heard you mention her before," she said, and the edge was definitely there this time. "I mean, since this has been something you've known about for at least eighteen years, and I've known you ten of those." Scorpius cleared his throat, obviously uncomfortable. I told Rose about Honoria at some point, didn't I? he thought sheepishly.

The look on her face brought him back to the moment. She looked angry now, and he couldn't understand it. He met her eyes with a mixture of bewilderment and anger of his own. This had been her choice, not his!

"Rose, is there a problem?" he asked her, setting his face in a hard line. She looked away, all traces of anger gone now, replaced by embarrassment.

"Sorry," she muttered. "It just . . . it came as a real shock," she muttered, and it galled him that she was actually sitting there being irritated with him for not telling her about Honoria when she was the one who had been responsible for what had happened between them, and she was the one who had left on a trip around the world.

"Well, you've been a little out of touch for the past three years," he pointed out. "A few things here and there were bound to escape your notice."

"This wasn't just the past three years, though, Scorpius," she said, her voice coming out a little strained. She looked up to meet his gaze. "I should have found out from you," she said quietly. "Not Al." For just a moment, she was the old Rose again, and he was the old Scorpius, and in that moment, he knew that, about this, she was right. He should have told her, and Al, about Honoria and the Bonding years ago. She didn't give him much time to dwell on this, though, before speaking again, changing the subject. "He wanted to know what had ever happened between – you and me," she said.

Scorpius stiffened in his seat at that, his mind spinning, on edge and wary. Why was she bringing this up now?

"He didn't believe me when I told him nothing had," she said, looking away. "Probably what today is all about. You know Al." She glanced up at him, trying to smile but not quite succeeding. He regarded her silently, carefully keeping his face guarded, considering what to say very carefully.

"You said no, Rose," Scorpius said very softly, keeping his voice as guarded as his face. He didn't want to accuse her of anything out here in the open, but it sounded like she needed reminding of that afternoon. "That's what happened."

The tension between them was almost tangible when she raised her eyes and met his. Everything seemed to freeze, and Scorpius was taunt, every muscle tense, as he waited for her to speak. He had an inexplicable feeling that they were precariously balanced on the edge of something drastically important. He wondered vaguely which way things were about to fall.

He never got the chance to find out. "Ah, good! You're both here," called an overly enthusiastic voice from the street. Scorpius closed his eyes in irritation before turning in the direction of his best friend. "Sorry I'm late," Al was saying. "Things got backed up at Mungo's." Scorpius had a hard time holding back a look of disgusted disbelief. Al didn't really think they were that stupid, did he? "Shall we order, then?"

"Actually, no," he said quickly, getting to his feet. He didn't quite trust himself to stick around. "I don't get a very long lunch break, Al, and I need to be getting back. We'll have to do this some other time." And with a tight smile, he walked away from them without a glance back.

He cursed Al twice over as he walked away. First for arranging that horrible meeting in the first place, and the second for having such awful timing at the end of it.

Rose had been on the verge of saying something big, he knew. Whether it would have been some sort of apology or explanation or something completely unimportant, he would know probably never know.

He wasn't saying that he would have forgiven her – some things went past forgiveness – but he might at least have been able to regain the peace of mind that her reappearance had robbed from him.

To be continued . . .

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