Rose tried to listen to Lily and Meredith's conversation about which shops had the best sales in Diagon Alley, but she didn't give a rat's arse, as her dad would say. Scorpius was at the other end of the train. Shouldn't she be nearby? She was Head Girl. She didn't need an excuse to leave the compartment.
Hugo said, "Staring at the door won't make Malfoy appear."
Lily rolled her eyes. "Look who's talking. The one who stared holes in the back of Chou Davies' head hoping she'd turn around and wave."
"And she did."
"But was she waving at you or Lorcan?"
Hugo cocked an eyebrow. "Why? Worried he's changed his mind about her?"
"I'll tell Lorcan you asked."
"Don't you dare!"
Rose couldn't take the squabbling anymore. She left before anyone could try to talk her out of it or offer to go with her. She was determined to find Scorpius.
She recognised Lucy's voice and turned to see the girl's hand sticking into the corridor waving a note.
"Is this for me?" Rose asked.
Rose heard Lucy sniff. "Are you all right?"
"No, she's mental," Molly said loudly.
"Shut up!" Lucy sniffled again. "Will you deliver the note, Rosie?"
"Why don't you come with me?"
"Go. Please," Molly said.
"I will." Lucy stuck her tongue out at her sister.
"Why were you quarrelling?" Rose asked. She checked through glass doors for Lysander.
"Molly started it, calling me a liar. I can too talk to Sigyn. I'm not pretending."
"I'm sure it's very real."
"It is. Lysander says I'm a Bufomouth or a Bufotongue."
Bufo, Latin for toad. Whether Lucy communicated through actual language or empathy, she was a sweet girl. Rose hugged her.
"Here," Lucy said. "You can read the note."
Rose unfolded the parchment. Beneath drawings of tiny black blobs was a message:
I miss our babies.
Merlin. The blobs were tadpoles. "I'm sure they're fine," Rose said, "and by the time school lets out they'll be toadlets, even more fun to play with." She spied Lysander in a compartment and drew her cousin over to it. She had a boyfriend to see and possibly rescue. Toad separation anxiety would have to be resolved without her.
Albus was in the next carriage refereeing a spat between Ravenclaw girls who each claimed ownership of a Paris Wizard Review literary magazine. Rose slipped past with a wave to Albus.
She became aware that schoolmates looked at her differently. Usually, they smiled—if they weren't rushing to hide something she might confiscate. Today, they stared as if she'd grown an extra head.
It was a relief to reach the last carriage. Slytherins looked at her the same way they always had. Warily.
A door jerked open. Orna Bletchley stood glowering at her. "What are you doing here? You don't have patrol."
"My boyfriend does."
Orna's scowled deepened. Her blue-black lipstick heightened her resemblance to a pug. "You're one of those clingy girls who can't let a bloke out of their sight, aren't you? You're afraid Scorpius will find someone else."
Considering the source, the accusation was funny. Rose said, "I'm not afraid of anything," and walked away.
She found Scorpius in the last compartment. "I realised I've never met your friends," she said when he invited her in. She sat next to Edgar. "Hullo, I'm Rose."
He had a firm, warm handshake. "Edgar Goyle."
The dark-haired boy across from Edgar said, "I'm Willoughby."
"I'm Nott," said the other boy. "That's my name. I know you know I'm not Willoughby." He flushed to the tips of his large ears.
Rose said, "Pleased to meet you—all of you."
"Charmed," Willoughby drawled.
Nott said, "You're prettier than I thought."
"Thanks." I think.
Willoughby said, "Goyle has a picture he'd love you to autograph."
Edgar showed her a copy of the Intruder.
Was it some kind of test? If they thought she'd be angry or upset, she wasn't. Rose said, "Do you want me to write 'To my new friend, Ed'?' or 'Eddie'?"
Nott brayed with laughter. "You sound like Malfoy."
"Do I?" She smiled at Scorpius.
"I'll walk you out," he said. "I need to finish my patrol."
The boys didn't say goodbye. Rose didn't mind. That they were polite, more or less, was enough. She didn't want Scorpius to lose his friends. In the corridor, she said, "I'm—"
"Wait," Scorpius said. He escorted her to the next carriage and into a storage compartment filled by a tea trolley, a glass and chrome cupboard with trays of pastries inside, and boxes marked Drooble's and Bertie Bott's. "I don't want to be overheard."
Who did he think would try to eavesdrop? His friends? Girls like Orna Bletchley? "I was only going to say I'm sorry I barged in. I should've waited."
Scorpius put his arms around her waist. "You didn't think I'd be able to protect myself?"
"Not if they used a Body-Bind. Uncle Harry got his nose broken that way. He dropped his guard and—" She didn't want to tell him it was his father who crunched her uncle's nose beneath his heel.
Scorpius pulled her closer. "I only let my guard down with you."
The kiss they shared was sweet and growing passionate when the door handle rattled. Rose whispered, "It's the Trolley Witch."
Scorpius opened the door and said, "No evidence of tampering, ma'am. The rumour that someone nicked liquorice wands was unfounded."
The woman gasped.
"It was a prank, I'm sure," Rose said. "Although it might be best to lock the door in future."
Rose waited until she and Scorpius were in the next carriage to ask, "Liquorice wands? Why not pumpkin pasties or every flavour beans?"
"I like liquorice."
He did? She needed to add that to the list she'd recently titled Fascinating Facts About Scorpius Malfoy. "All kinds?"
"Red. I've never cared for black."
It was a matter of taste, not a telling detail. She couldn't start analysing everything he said and did for hidden meaning. She'd drive herself mad—or to a career in psychoanalysis.
The Ravenclaw girls were still arguing the ownership of the Paris Wizard Review. Albus threatened to go get Verisimilitude Potion.
Rose had a different solution. She marched up to him and took the magazine. "There's only one way to resolve this," she said. "I'll rip it in two and they can each have half."
"No, give it to her, don't tear it," said one girl.
"Half is fair," the second girl said.
Rose handed the magazine to the first girl. "You are the true owner."
The moment she and Scorpius were out of hearing range, Rose said, "I took that from a king named Solomon who determined a baby's true mother by ordering his men to cut the boy in half. The false mother approved."
"What if the biological mother agreed because she was an evil hag?"
Rose answered without qualm, "Her son was happy she lost custody."
"So if the girl you gave the Review didn't buy it—"
"She got the magazine for respecting literature." His approving smile gave her a warm, fluttery feeling that couldn't be acted on in a train corridor. Rose had to be satisfied with holding Scorpius' hand.
Hours later, she forced herself to be content with doing the right thing, telling Scorpius to go ahead and ride in a carriage with his friends. She would meet him in the Restricted Section after dinner. There were duties to attend, clothes to unpack. Surely, the time would fly by.
It didn't. No one misplaced luggage or accidentally let a pet loose in the castle. In the dorm, unpacking only took a few minutes. She reorganised her jewellery box to look busy while her roommates put their things away.
All the girls said hullo and Charlotte asked if she'd had a good holiday, but none asked personal questions. Rose was reminded of what Scorpius said to her earlier. If she had been as truthful, she would have admitted her cousins were her closest friends, and outside her family, she only let her guard down with him. She trusted her roommates not to harm her—with spells at least. She didn't trust them not to gossip about her.
Uncomfortable with her thoughts and the girls' whispers, Rose left the dorm. Her fabricated excuse of patrol duties triggered guilt about another lie, one she had to make right.
Winky was delighted to help, using the elf inter-Floo system to make a request on "Miss Rosie's" behalf. "The answer is yes!" Winky exclaimed on her return to the kitchen.
Rose said, "Le hannon. Thank you."
"I researched a few phrases, I don't speak Elvish." Rose gave a bow of respect. "No in elenath hîlar nan hâd gîn. May all stars shine upon your path."
Winky bowed solemnly in return. "Calo anor na ven. May the sun shine upon your road."
Rose appreciated the sentiment, although her destination was far from sunny. Enchanted torchlight threw ominous shadows against dungeon walls. She put up her hands to create a bunny rabbit hopping.
The head of a Grim appeared on the wall.
The bunny fell apart. "Professor Blackwell! Beg pardon. I shouldn't have kept you waiting."
The professor repositioned her elegant hands. The dog became a tortoise. "I understand the allure of shadow puppets." The tortoise shifted into a bird that "flew" away. The professor gestured to her office door. "You wished to speak with me about an assignment?"
"Yes, ma'am." Rose squared her shoulders and went inside.
The lack of ill will displayed by his housemates surprised Scorpius. He received curious looks, but few glares of accusation. Of course, it was early yet. There was plenty of time before dinner for someone to call him a blood traitor or make a snide remark about his girlfriend.
Edgar suggested playing darts in the common room. Starting at 501, the four of them individually subtracted the points obtained each round to reach zero. Scorpius usually hit whatever he aimed for, but tension put him off his game. He missed the double sixteen he needed to close the match, allowing Edgar to win with a double twenty.
"What'll we play now?" Nott asked.
"Killer," Edgar said. He handed a green dart to Scorpius.
Scorpius threw left-handed, the traditional way to choose a number. He hit the nine slice.
Nott's dart landed in the three slice. "Bottom middle of the dartboard. I have the worst luck."
"Nothing new there," said Willoughby, hitting a six.
Edgar said, "Left, right, and bottom are taken, leaving me the top." He threw. "I'm number one." He looked at Scorpius. "That should be you."
"I don't want it." Scorpius' next throw was a bulls-eye. He was the only one to hit dead centre so he went first, aiming for the strip of green at the wide end of the nine slice. Once he hit his double and became a "killer", he used his last two darts to aim for the doubles of his opponents. Edgar and Willoughby each lost one of their three "lives".
"We should've made you go for triples," Willoughby said.
Behind Scorpius, a girl laughed. "Guy, you'll never be the poster boy of good sportsmanship." Orna Bletchley sashayed over to plant a liplock on Willoughby. "I like it when you play dirty." She asked Scorpius, "Did Guy tell you he's been offered a vice-presidency with Bletchley Imports?"
Of specialised services, no doubt. "Congratulations."
"Thank you." Willoughby picked up his darts and stepped up to the line. "I still think you should have to hit triples, you jammy git." It took three tries for him to hit a double six.
"I'm distracting you, poor darling. I'll go talk to Magaera and let you concentrate." Orna bestowed another mauling kiss on Guy.
Once left in peace, Scorpius said, "The salary Bletchley's offering must be generous."
Willoughby smirked. "The benefits are excellent."
Scorpius looked at Edgar. His friend's expression was carefully blank.
Nott went to the line and missed the double three each throw. "Why do I bother?" he asked. "I'm doomed."
"Not yet," Edgar said. He became a killer on the second try. His third dart scored a double six.
"Bloody hell, Goyle!" Willoughby said. "Why mine?"
Scorpius could think of a motive. Edgar didn't like Orna's preference for Willoughby rubbed in his face.
Edgar said, "You whinged."
"So did Nott."
"He had reason."
The two appeared ready to wizard duel. Scorpius took action. He stepped up to the line, threw two double ones and a double six. "You're both dead."
Edgar grinned. "Willoughby bet you'd play nice. I knew you hadn't lost your killer instinct." His tone was eerily like Grandfather Lucius' when he said Scorpius gave him hope.
Nott asked, "Does this mean I came in second?"
"We'll call it a draw. I'm going on patrol." Scorpius wasn't assigned patrol duty. He wanted to leave the House without anyone tagging along.
On the other side of the Slytherin entrance, he found Rose sitting against the wall.
She scrambled to her feet. "I've been waiting for someone to leave so I could have them go get you."
"A few minutes. I was about to send my Patronus." She worried her lower lip between her teeth. "There's something I need to tell you. In private."
Scorpius brought her to the room off the entry where the first-years waited before Sorting. "What's wrong?" he asked. In the better light, it was easy to read the distress in her eyes.
She said, "I made the same mistake twice in one day. I didn't wait. I told Professor Blackwell I cheated and asked for another try."
Damn. "What did she say?"
"She'll decide whether to allow me to brew Pepperup Potion again after she talks to you. I'm sorry."
So was he. If Rose came to him, he would have talked her out of confessing. It wasn't just their first-class marks at stake. She could lose her Head Girl Badge. And for what? The potion didn't count toward N.E.W.T.s. She could have volunteered to make it to give an extra boost to the hospital wing stores; because it was a potion she wouldn't brew again. Any reason other than Gryffindor guilt. "Blackwell's in her office?"
He was tempted to leave without another word. He asked curtly, "Are you going to wait here?"
"Not if you're still going to be angry."
He could make no promises. "Fine," he said. "I'll send a note."
Professor Blackwell's door was open. She asked Scorpius to close it and waved him to the seat in front of her desk. "I have one question, Mr. Malfoy. Why did you switch labels?"
Rose was upset. She'd botched her second try. "I liked her," he said. "I thought it would be our secret."
"Secrets have a way of being found out."
Blackwell smiled. "Miss Weasley may brew the potion on Saturday in Dungeon Five."
"You will be in my classroom, tutoring a group in need of additional preparation for the O.W.L. exam."
The price he had to pay to keep Rose and himself out of trouble. "What time?"
"I appreciate it, ma'am." Not every teacher would allow students who cheated to make amends privately.
Scorpius went to the library to find a novel. After a quick read-through for a suitable passage, he shelved the book and asked the hovering aide for a quill and parchment. Phineas Filch cheerfully nicked the items from his mother's desk.
"What are you writing?" Phineas asked, peering over Scorpius' shoulder. His long blond fringe gave him the look of a sheepdog.
"A coded message. The uppercase letters spell a word."
mr. darcy had at first Scarcely Allowed her To be pretty; he had looked at her without admiration at the ball; and when they next met, he looked at her only to criticise. but no sooner had he made it clear to himself and his friends that she had hardly a good feature in her face, than he began to find it was rendered Uncommonly intelligent by the beautiful expression of heR dark eyes. to this Discovery succeeded some others equally mortifying. though he had detected with A critical eye more than one failure of perfect symmetry in her form, he was forced to acknowledge her figure to be light and pleasing; and in spite of his asserting that her manners were not those of the fashionable world, he was caught by their easy playfulness. of this she was perfectlY unaware.
"Is it some kind of love note?"
Scorpius folded the parchment. "I could tell you, but then I'd have to jinx you." He handed Phineas the quill. "Return this or face your mother's awful consequences."
In the deserted library corridor, he called out, "Slinky."
The house-elf with a fervent devotion to Slytherins appeared. "Young sir is in need of assistance?"
"Please deliver this message to Rose Weasley."
"Is Slinky to wait for an answer?"
"No, thank you."
Slinky bowed so low the tip of his carrot-like nose almost grazed the floor. "I is honoured."
Scorpius returned to his dorm to make a list of O.W.L. standard potions and their ingredients. The Draught of Peace ranked highest in level of complexity. If he talked them through the steps, the students should be able to brew it and any other potion.
At the dinner hour, he strolled into the Great Hall. Edgar's bulk prevented all but a glimpse of Rose. He sat down and turned to look. Half the Gryffindor Quidditch team obstructed his view.
He ate as swiftly as was mannerly possible.
Rose beat him to the Restricted Section. She sat on the window seat, holding his note. He asked, "Did you break the code?"
"Blackwell's allowing me to retry the potion on Saturday."
"While I tutor students to pass their O.W.L. exam."
Rose looked properly guilt-stricken. "Oh. I am sorry. Not that I told, but that I didn't tell you first. I'll try hard not to do that again."
He sat down next to her. "I'll try to be more understanding."
She lifted the parchment. "On the train home, I didn't have the nerve to ask what you liked about me fifth-year."
"I liked everything," he said. "It was very annoying."
Her lips curved. "If it makes you feel better, I was always irritated by how smart and handsome you are."
"It does, and for the record, there are no failures of perfect symmetry in your form."
Rose giggled. She said, "I love you, and I hated fighting. I'm glad we made up."
"We're not done yet." He lowered his head to hers.
There was a first-time feeling to their kiss, a gentle exploration. He touched Rose's cheek and smoothed her hair away from her face.
She twined her arms around his neck. "Your eyes were storm cloud grey when you were angry." Her lips brushed his. "I prefer the colour they are now. Molten silver."
If his eyes reflected the way he felt, molten was the right word. The teasing glide of her tongue between deep kisses was making him hot. Scorpius resisted the temptation to lie back against the cushions. He was satisfied with kissing the girl he loved.
During the next few days, aside from walking Rose to classes and spending most of his free hours with her, Scorpius' life remained much the same, only better. His friends were polite to his girlfriend, his housemates reasonably accepting.
On Saturday, the five students who needed tutoring—Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors—demonstrated adequate basic skills that improved with his personalised instruction. Each brewed the Draught of Peace successfully.
Scorpius left them cleaning their worktables.
Professor Blackwell didn't appear startled by his entrance or his blunt question. She said, "There's no catch, Mr. Malfoy. If your assignment seemed easy, it's because you're that talented. So talented, in fact, I'd like to offer you an apprenticeship."
He hadn't considered becoming a Potions Master. His grandfather expected him to join Malfoy Enterprises.
"Mordred Ap Meurig is the finest Potions Master in Britain. He was my master and former Headmaster Severus Snape's before me." Pride rang in her voice.
"What about Potter?" Scorpius asked.
"Mr. Potter has chosen Auror Training." Her lips thinned. She didn't have to say that she thought Albus Potter was wasting his gift.
Rose had the second highest marks in class. She excelled due to intellect, not natural facility. Whatever career path she chose—Magical Law or advocate for Magical Beings—it would not be Potions. That left Scorpius. "I'll consider it," he said.
"Do that." Professor Blackwell stood. "I'm interested to hear the students' feedback and examine their Draughts of Peace."
Scorpius asked, "Has Rose finished brewing her potion?
"Yes. Miss Weasley is delivering the flagons to the hospital wing."
He could catch up. "I'll assist her if I may be excused."
Scorpius took the dungeon stairs two at a time and jogged down the corridor to the main staircase. "Prefect business, move aside," he said to anyone who got in his way. He dashed into the hospital wing corridor and yelled, "Wait!" to the girl heading toward the other end. "I'm here to assist you." He strolled past her and opened the double doors.
Rose's laughter echoed merrily. "Yes, that's very helpful. How can I repay you?"
"Ask Winky to make us a lunch."
"A picnic?" She handed him the basket to carry. "Sounds wonderful."
In the weeks that followed, he and Rose revised together and patrolled together. They snogged behind statues, in empty classrooms, at the top of the astronomy tower, and in a linen cupboard near the Gryffindor common room. Twice, they used Freshwater Gillyweed to snog underwater in the Prefects' Bath.
Scorpius ignored his cynical inner voice that said his life was too good to be true until April turned into May and too many things began to ring false. His friends never complained about the time he spent with Rose. Grandfather Lucius' letters were suddenly grandfatherly, asking about his studies and hoping he was well, with no allusions to the Knights or his future. Edgar, Nott, and Willoughby started revising in the library until curfew—or so they said when they returned the dorm.
On a Friday night that Lily and Rose had designated "girl time," a ritual consisting of manicures and Cosmo Teen Witch quizzes, Scorpius went to the library to check on his friends.
They weren't there.
Scorpius tracked down Phineas Filch. He was on the second floor pushing a loaded book trolley toward Muggle Fiction. Phineas' robes dragged the ground. "Why don't you have those tailored?" Scorpius asked.
"Dad's a skinflint. He wants them to last."
"Until seventh year? You won't reach it if you trip and break your neck." Scorpius had heard more than a few tailoring charms over the years. He cast one to raise the hem of Phineas' robes.
Scorpius shrugged. "There's a reason why I want you alive. I need information. The location of my friends."
"I'll call Myrtle." Phineas ducked behind a bookshelf and took a whistle out of his pocket. "It's for dogs," he said. "There are none at Hogwarts so Myrtle knows it's me." He blew on the whistle.
The ghost of a teenaged girl floated down through the ceiling, moaning.
"Stop, you'll disturb the patrons," Phineas said.
"What about me?" Myrtle demanded. "Shove off, I want to use this toilet. Get out of my bathtub, you perv. No one cares about disturbing ugly, fat Myrtle!"
"I care," Scorpius said. "I need your help."
Myrtle's petulant expression turned flirtatious. "Like your father. I listened when Draco had no one else to talk to, no one who understood his feelings." She batted her eyelashes behind thick spectral glasses. "We were very close."
Scorpius didn't want to think about it. "I need you to locate Goyle, Willoughby, and Nott. Find out what they're up to without them knowing."
"I'll peek through the wall the way I do in the Prefects' bathroom." Myrtle zoomed away.
To pass the time, Scorpius offered to shelve books. It turned into a contest. Novels floated in air and slid into place with the aid of magic. At the end, Phineas won by crouching down to shelve his last book by hand.
Myrtle returned while Scorpius was transfiguring a white handkerchief into a half mask to honour their bet. He gave the mask to Phineas. "You're officially Phantom of the Prefects. Go hide it somewhere."
"Now?" Phineas looked from Myrtle to Scorpius. "Right," he said. "See you later."
Myrtle broke her silence as soon as they had privacy. "Your friends were in a chamber beneath the castle." She glided over to hover beside him.
"What were they doing?"
"Talking. They said very mean things about your girlfriend." She looked sympathetic, yet gleeful to be the bearer of bad news.
He had to ask. "Even Goyle?"
Myrtle floated nearer. "He said when you get a leg over, you'll realise Rose Weasley's nothing special."
Distantly, Scorpius was aware of ghostly arms encircling him, Myrtle whispering, "I know it hurts. You can cry if you want, I won't tell. I never tell." He focused on sorting the pieces of a puzzle and putting them together. "Did anything else happen?" he asked.
"They left. I followed them down the passageway."
He moved out of her chilly embrace. "Show me."
Myrtle sighed. "Go out the library doors and turn left instead of right. Walk to the end. I'll show you the way from there." She floated through a shelf of books.
He strode to the exit and followed her directions. Myrtle was waiting.
"Put your hand on my heart," she said coyly.
Scorpius reached through her to press against stone. A narrow corridor opened inward. He stepped through Myrtle and kept walking.
The downward-sloped passageway led to a door that opened into a chamber whose torches flared to life ten times more brightly than those outside. The light illumined a finely woven tapestry depicting a giant red snake on a black background. The sight took Scorpius back to his eighth birthday.
The Knights of Walpurgis formed centuries before the Dark Lord was born, and they will continue as long as wizards draw breath.
None of the "historical accounts" in Grandfather Lucius' book told of a secret meeting place at Hogwarts. Who created it? Salazar himself? Marks around the tapestry caught his eye. He walked across the chamber.
The markings were initials carved into granite.
Thousands of them.
"Fateor Salazar Slytherin," Scorpius said. On the wall, two interlocking initials glowed green. "Fateor Lucius Malfoy." A spot on the far left side of the tapestry shimmered, revealing LM. "Fateor Draco Malfoy. Fateor Edgar Goyle." He traced each set of letters with a fingertip. Next to EG were letters that made his skin crawl.
His initials were carved as if he was one of them, proud to leave his mark alongside fellow Knights. There was only one thing to do.
Myrtle was still hovering in the library corridor. He asked her to go to Gryffindor Tower.
A short while later he heard footsteps. A ghostly figure in a white towelling robe barrelled toward him. He swept Rose into his arms. He couldn't hold her tight enough.
"Myrtle said you needed me desperately," Rose said. "Lily thought she was being melodramatic, but I ran as fast as I could."
It took willpower to loosen his hold. "She wasn't exaggerating." Scorpius swallowed to ease the tightness in his throat. "There's something I have to show you." He led the way through the secret corridor.
"This isn't mentioned in Hogwarts, A History," Rose said as she entered the chamber. "The tapestry looks medieval."
"It's the banner of the Knights of Walpurgis. They gathered here, made their plans, and left their mark." He cast the Fateor spell.
Two iridescent green letters stood out among the pale carvings in dark grey granite.
Rose said, "I don't understand. You didn't join the Knights. You're not one of them."
He smiled mirthlessly. "Edgar thought he was doing me a favour. This way, after we leave school and I get over my infatuation, one day our pure-blood sons can look for our initials and find Malfoy and Goyle side by side." Anger and sorrow burned through his veins. "He's been humouring me—they all have. They've pretended to accept my decisions, but really—"
"They're waiting for you to come to your senses."
"And I knew it."
Rose wrapped her arms around his waist and rested her head on his shoulder. "You hoped if they pretended long enough it would become real. So did I."
He brushed his lips across her hair. "We can keep up the pretence, act like we've never seen this room. Avoid confrontation."
"The way you did with your grandfather?"
Scorpius kissed her cheek for being cheeky. "Or we can go to Plan B."
"I blast my initials off the wall, tell Edgar, and deal with the consequences." He'd infuriate his grandfather, lose his friends, have most of his housemates turn against him. He and Rose would spend the rest of term watching each other's backs and keeping a Foe Glass handy. After they sat their exams . . . . "I've been offered an apprenticeship," he said. "I could go to Wales, let the dust settle."
"I'd owl every day," Rose said. "Visit every weekend." She blushed. "You might not break Snape's record for youngest Potions Master with me hanging round."
"He can keep it. I only want you." Scorpius cradled Rose's face in his hands and kissed her with all the tenderness in his heart. "I love you. My vote's for Plan B."
She nodded with shining eyes. "Mine too."
Scorpius raised his wand and sent a ball of fire hurtling toward the wall.
A/N: This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But, it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
I hear Cate Blanchett as Galadrial when I read that quote instead of Winston Churchill, who actually said it, but regardless of tone, it summed up this chapter for me. It's the end of the beginning days of their relationship, but there's so much more ahead. I don't know exactly what, yet. I have a few ideas and the rest will come to me. Until the next story, I'll miss the readers who have encouraged and inspired—literally!—during the months this fic's posted.
I'm thankful to everyone who's reviewed, even if it was only once, to tell me about something you liked. You didn't have to, it isn't mandatory, but it is appreciated. Special thanks go to those who reviewed the last chapter. I know this is a crazy time of year, with school, holidays, and jobs. That you took the time means a lot. Thanks to A Chocolate Frog, alix33, Aminatsu032, bealen, BirdG, BittersweetSummer, bizinhaviera, Boogum, Calenmarwen, Carnivalgirl, Coniwi-pops, CrazyTuesday2, drcjsnider , Elizabeth-nightwatchman, ElspethBates, excessivelyperky, GingerMarauderette, gracie, Hazelmist, HPobsessssssed7, Itsa Mia, kavii, Lady Livia, Lee21323, Little Creature, Loverofallthingsliterary, MissCorker, Missdagane, midorimouse7, MollyCoddles, Moontime, MyDearestObsession, Nightylilly, Once Upon An End, Ophelia Skinner, Paperback28, Randomisation, respitechristopher, ronandhermy, Rose of the West, rubydo9592, Sakimi1014, Saoirse Darkwind, scoop, SeraphimeRising, siriuslycrazy4snuffles, Siriusmunchkin, SmileLikeYooMeanIt, sophia666, sukanya, sunny9847, Takin' Me On, tambrathegreat, theessenceofmurtlap, TilTheLastRoseDies, Twinsmom, vernalequinox135, WeasleyWeakness, WishingHeart, xxPrincessOfTheOceanxx, yorushihe, and ysysse.
D'oh! Almost forgot. I went Tolkien for the Elvish phrases, and used the name of a fury (Magaera) for Orna's friend. I wanted to use a harpy name, but none of them worked. I don't think even Millicent Bulstrode would name her daughter "Podarge" or the like. The Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice quote came from chapter six; the evening at Sir William's when Darcy "began to wish to know more of (Elizabeth)." The secret passage/underground chamber and Mordred Ap Meurig were borrowed from one of my Marauder Era stories, More Than a Feeling.
To quote a bit more Elvish, rim hennaid, many thanks, for reading, and cuio vae, fare well. :)