Probably not a very common pairing, but maybe I'll start a trend. This was origonally going to be a Jigsaw Pieces chapter, but it just kept getting longer and longer...

Count On It

She laughed, loudly. It could never have been described as delicate or girly; in the same way, Lorcan supposed, no one would describe her as beautiful. Rose Weasley's hair curled loosely half-way down her back, the same bright-red as her father's. Her eyes were blue – she had, once or twice, commented that they were too small, too ordinary, but Lorcan saw no flaw in them. Her facial features favoured her mother, though the resemblance had grown less pronounced as she'd grown older.

No, Rose would never be described as beautiful, but Lorcan found something captivating about her, and couldn't tear his eyes away from her face as it sparkled with laughter.

She sobered somewhat, though her eyes were still lit. "OK, you have to stop now." She told him, laughter still touching her voice. "I need to work."

"Ah yes, Rosie Weasley, future Minister of Magic." Lorcan said, his voice teasing. It was a sentence she'd heard a million times before, but Lorcan was one of the few who said it in a good way; with affection, amusement, and the belief that it would really happen. Far too many times, it had been said to her sarcastically, jealously, with an underlying meanness.

"Count on it." Rose nodded. "But first of all I've gotta make my way up the Law Enforcement office." She patted his leg, then stood. "I'll see you soon?"

"Count on it." He replied, re-using her words to make her smile.

She hugged him quickly, then darted towards her mother. He watched her make her goodbyes, then walk around the house to apparate from the front garden. He suppressed a sigh, wondering why no one talked her into spending the full day here, at her grandparents' house with the family.

They were all crazily proud of Rose, he knew, and none of them would stand in the way of her dreams. But making her take a day off once in a while would do no damage.

"So. You didn't tell her, then?" Lily Potter, a year older than him and one of his best friends in the world, threw herself in the chair beside him.

"Shh." He looked quickly around, then relaxed slightly. "No, I didn't. You mind not talking about it? Not here, anyway."

"Uh-huh. Lorcan, half the family's figured it out now anyway." Lily shrugged at him, pushing her own fire-engine red hair back from her face. "I think it's about time you told her."

"I can't." He said it wistfully, and was aware of it. Clearing his throat in an attempt to alter his tone, he looked away from her. "She's never going to...and I don't want things to be awkward with us."

"She might surprise you. And doesn't she have a right to know?"

"I have a right to not humiliate myself." He said, his tone somewhat sharp. It didn't faze Lily, and he hadn't expected it to. They'd grown up together, and he knew her as well as he knew himself.

"Lorcan, when are you going to listen to me?" She stretched her legs out, crossed them, and raised her eyebrows at him. "You know I'm right. Go to her, and tell her."

He studied the grass and didn't answer.

------------------

He knocked on the door, but simply turned the handle and walked in when there was no sound from within, too used to Rose absorbing herself in her work. An earthquake would struggle to get a reaction out of her, he knew.

She was hunched over her desk, frowned at whatever paperwork she was dealing with. A pair of glasses sat on her face. He'd seen her this way countless times over the years, and it always made him smile. "Rose?"

It took three times before she heard him, jumping slightly as she looked up. "Oh. Sorry. What's wrong?"

"Nothing. I need to talk to you." He said it nervously, and she noticed.

"Sure. Sit down." She gestured to the sofa, and he nodded and sat. "What's wrong, Lorcan?"

He looked around the room as he tried to choose his words. How was he supposed to explain himself to her, to talk her round?

"I...I sort of...ah, I guess I came here to...ask you...to tell you..."

"Lorcan – you're not making any sense." She smiled at him, shook her head a little. "You want me to give you some time to work this out in your head?"

"I like you." He blurted it, and then couldn't stop. "I like you a lot – maybe I even love you – or – or I could. I think we should give it a shot – me and you – as, you know, as a couple..." Her smile had faded, her mouth had opened slightly in what he guessed was surprise. "I know there's the – the age difference thing, but it doesn't bother me and it shouldn't bother you."

"Lorcan." She sighed it, pulled off the glasses and pressed her finger-tips to her left temple. "I'm sorry...I...I had no idea you felt that way." She stood, walked over to the window. "You're barely seventeen, Lorcan -"

"I'm not a kid!" He said quickly, then cursed himself for sounding like one. "You're only, what, three years older than me?"

"You're still at Hogwarts -"

"I'm in my last year -"

She smiled at him, shook her head. "Not till the end of summer you're not. Lorcan, I'm really flattered, but by the time you're back at school you'll have forgotten all about me."

"And you? You don't feel anything for me?"

She looked at him for what felt like a long time. "I've known you your entire life, Lorcan. You're part of my family and I love you."

"But not like that." He finished, and stood. She looked at him, guilt stinging at the sight of his face. He looked heartbroken, she thought. And with the purple hair falling into his eyes, the scrawny build and the devastated look, he seemed impossibly young and vulnerable. "I guess I'll see you around, then." He started towards the door, then turned back and looked at her. "Just think about it a bit, will you? No one thinks things through like you do."

He stormed out; and for a long time she simply sat in silence.

--------------------

He tried again. She'd known he would, and prepared herself for it. He started off rational – trying, she supposed, to show maturity – and then descended into anger.

He stormed out again.

The third time, it was she who stormed off in anger, after yelling at him for making her feel like a bitch.

He stayed away from her for the last two weeks of summer, annoying her because she missed him. Hurting her because she thought he'd given up on her.

"You're stupid and spoilt, Rose." She told herself as she screwed up a piece of paper. She'd planned to write to him, to make sure they were OK, and been unable to think of a single word. "You don't want him, remember? He's just a kid, and you have no right..."

"Rose?" She jumped violently at her mother's voice, then blushed when she turned to see Hermione in her doorway.

"Hi. Guess I didn't hear the door again, huh?"

"It wasn't even locked, Rose." Hermione said, giving her a look.

"Sorry. I'll remember one day, I promise."

"Sure. And I won't tell your father. Now, are you going to tell me why you were sat here talking to yourself?" Hermione crossed the room, sat on the sofa and waited.

"Lorcan."

"Our Lorcan?"

"How many do you know?" She almost snapped it, then quickly apologised.

"It's OK. He's finally told you, then?"

"Yes, he – you knew?"

"Most of us did. Your father and uncles excluded, of course."

"Of course." Rose murmured. "He said he might love me. He's not sure. How can he not be sure?"

Hermione laughed a little, then stopped at her daughter's look. "Rose...It took me years to realise how I felt about your father. It took him leaving -"

"You and Uncle Harry alone for you to realise. I know, you told me."

"Yes. Before that, I'd thought I might love him. It's not always so easy to tell. How do you feel about him?"

She looked at the floor. "He's family. I love him. But I've never even thought about him like that. Not until he brought it up." She laughed, without any humour. "Not until the second time he brought it up, when he called me stupid and yelled at me. Then I started thinking."

"And?"

"And...And I can see it. God. He's always been there, and I've never seen it before. But I could see it then, see us together, see it working. And the next time, I had to walk away, because I could see it clearer, and I was so tempted to just back down. I...Now he's gone, he never even said goodbye before he went back to Hogwarts, and I miss him. I keep remembering stupid stuff – the time he argued with Lysander and got all upset, nearly cried and refused to admit it. The time I was in a ridiculous mood and he laughed with me, at the stupidest things. When he dyed his hair and was so proud of himself, even though it was a backfired spell. And – and three days before I left Hogwarts, when I cried and he – he was just there. He didn't try to joke me out of it, didn't try to cheer me up, he was just there for me, because that's what I needed. He knows me, mum, he understands me."

"So why...?"

"He's three years younger than me."

"So? Victoire's two years younger than Teddy and they're onto their third child now."

"I known, but...It's different."

"Why? Because you're a girl?"

"No. Yes. I don't know. Besides, it's a whole extra year. And he's still at school, and I'm so busy with work all the time..."

"Rose. Look at me." Hermione waited until her daughter lifted her gaze and met her eyes. "I want you to be happy. More than anything. And I want you to have everything that will make you happy. Will Lorcan make you happy?"

Rose closed her eyes. "Yes. You know he will."

Hermione nodded. "I happen to know there's a Hogsmeade weekend this Saturday. That gives you six days to think it over." Hermione stood, smiled down at her. "Let me know how it goes, will you?"

Though she felt close to tears, Rose laughed and nodded.

--

She hadn't been to Hogsmeade since she'd left Hogwarts, but it hadn't changed a bit. She'd forgotten how much she liked the little village, and vowed to visit it more often.

Then suppressed a nervous giggle as she thought that if things went well today, she'd be coming back more often.

She looked nervously around, seeing many Hogwarts students but none with Lorcan's purple hair. She had no idea where he was, no idea where to start. And so Rose did what any smart person would, and began a systematic search.

She found him in Zonko's, stood with his brother and Lydia Longbottom.

"Come on, Lorcan, stop looking so miserable." She heard Zander say, as she watched them, wondering how to start, what to say. "Buy something. Or at least look."

"I've looked." Lorcan replied. "You forced me out of the castle, didn't you? Now you're trying to force me into spending money on stuff I don't even want."

"Lorcan, you can't spend all your time shut up in your dorm." Lydia told him. "We're worried about you. We -" She turned, saw Rose. And smiled widely. "Well it's about time. Hey, Lorcan, turn around."

"What? Why?" He asked flatly, even as he turned. And then he froze when he saw her. She walked towards him, because she wouldn't have a conversation across a crowded shop.

"Hi." She said quietly.

"Hey."

"I need to talk to you. Can we go somewhere...?"

His eyes narrowed slightly. "No. We can talk right here, Rose."

She frowned at him in confusion. "I'd rather talk in private -"

"Unless you're ashamed of what you're going to say, we can talk here." He shrugged. "What is this about?"

She glared at him. "You left without saying goodbye."

"So you came all this way? No, I don't think so somehow." He replied. "Did you come to apologise? Or have you finally stopped being stupid?"

"That's the second time you've called me stupid." She said coolly. "I don't care for it."

"Then stop acting it." He snapped. He couldn't help himself – seeing her made all his anger and humiliation come flooding back. And suddenly, everyone seemed to be looking at him, and it was too warm, too crowded.

He moved past her swiftly, was outside before he'd even decided to run.

"Hey!" She shouted it, almost screeched. "Get back here!"

"I'm not a child." He called, without turning around. "You can't order me around."

"Damn it Lorcan, don't play games."

He stopped, spun. She was a few feet behind him.

"Play games? I'm not the one playing games here. Three times you sent me away, and now what? What is this?"

She was still walking towards him. It seemed to talk forever for her to reach him.

"This is me wondering what the hell I'm doing here. Wondering what made me think you were anything but a stupid little kid, having a tantrum because he didn't get what he wanted. This is me feeling like an idiot because I came here to tell you -" She stopped abruptly.

"Tell me what?"

"Nothing." She started to turn away; he grabbed her arm.

"Come on, Rose. Tell me what?"

"Tell you that you were right." She snapped, then looked at into his eyes. Her anger faded, and though a part of her was scared she was too late, she had to tell him."That I – that we – that I think we should give it a shot – me and you – as a couple – and – and everything else you said. I..."

"You're not going to change your mind?" He asked, trying to keep his voice steady.

"Have you ever known me to?" She replied.

"And you're not going to get stupid -"

"Again with the stupid. Will you stop that? I'm not going to get stupid, or ashamed, or – or anything. This is it, OK?" He looked at her for several long seconds, then grinned.

"OK."

Several feet away, Lydia Longbottom held her hand out to Lysander.

"I believe that's five galleons you owe me, boyo."

"Nu-uh you have no proof that they're together – they haven't even kissed – oh, wait, there it goes." He sighed and dug into his pocket. "Don't remind Lily, will you? I'm low on gold right now." He dropped the coins into her palm.

"Your own fault. Never bet against the girls, Zand."

"Yeah, yeah. Come on." He grabbed her arm, pulled her forwards.

"Hey, Lorcan, you gonna stop eating her face there and come back to the castle any time soon?"

Without breaking the kiss, Lorcan gave his brother the finger, making him laugh.

"OK, see you later." Still laughing, Lysander started walking. "I'm gonna go write home and let them know 'bout this, just so you know." He called over his shoulder, smirking.

"Leave him alone." Lydia smiled. "Lorcan's in love..."

They broke apart several seconds later, grinning stupidly at each other.

"I heard a rumour that you're in love, Lorcan." Rose told him. It thrilled her and terrified her, all at once.

"Oh yeah?" He was only slightly worried about that. "Well, I'll give it a month before you feel the same." Lorcan said lightly.

"Oh, you think so, huh?" She replied, her eyebrows raised.

"Count on it."