Five Years Later…
"Can I get you anything else, sir?" I asked, sincerely hoping the answer was no. My boss glanced up from his book he was reading and boomed an answer in his American drawl.
"No, you run along now, Malfoy. Go do some paperwork or something."
I gritted my teeth, but refrained from making a comment. I was really good at that these days. An associate in a Wizarding law firm had to be good at keeping their mouths shut when in the company of their superiors. Even if said superiors were patronizing bastards.
"Yes, sir." I sighed and made my way out of his office, closing the door quietly behind me.
I half-ran back to my own office, grateful when I was shut inside it. I preferred life when nobody was around me – it just seemed easier that way.
No sooner had I sat down in my leather chair than my door opened again, and a paper plane steered itself directly into my 'In' tray. I picked it up and unfolded it, glancing at the message before sighing.
Your mother called again. She wants to know if you booked that vacation off work so that you could come to your sister's prize-giving ceremony for her OWLs. And she said in a pretty snippy tone that she would appreciate it if YOU could call her back this time.
That woman scares the crap out of me.
Oh, and Emily called for the seventh time. She's determined to stalk you until you ask her out again. Us New York girls are crazy like that.
And Paige called.
Do me a favor will you, and only date girls with the same name, like Beth or something? It's way easier for me to blow them off for you if I can pretend like I have a clue who they are.
I smiled at my secretary's phrasing. She was always a good laugh, hence why I hired her. But the contents of my message…
I sighed again, pinching the bridge of my nose between my thumb and forefinger. I had already tried to tell her that I just couldn't manage to take the time off. She had argued, obviously, but she seemed determined to harass me until I caved in. I wouldn't back down though. I hadn't set foot in England since the worst day of my life, five years ago. I hadn't gone back to get my NEWT results. I hadn't even gone back for my Grandfather's funeral. I had apparated from an alleyway somewhere in London to an alleyway somewhere in New York, and I refused to go back across the pond.
Though, if I'm honest, it was only because I was terrified of seeing her again.
It was cowardly to run away from my fears, but I hated admitting to myself that I still loved the woman who murdered my Grandfather. I didn't know what she looked like anymore. I didn't know what she acted like. I hadn't laid eyes on her for five years, two months and a day. Not that I was counting, or anything.
My father had told me that she was there at Grandfather's funeral. Her whole family showed up to pay their respects. She had begged Dad's forgiveness, had told him it was an accident, a dreadful mistake, that she thought he was trying to kill me. All of that was true, of course, but it didn't make it any easier that my grandfather was gone.
All the same, I could never bring myself to hate her.
My door opened again, and Darla poked her blonde head around the door. "Hey."
"Hey," I replied, not glancing up from the note. "What's up?"
"Some girl's outside to see you. I dunno whether she's a client or a date," she shrugged, grinning in spite of herself. "You change them both at the same lightning pace. I can't keep track."
I screwed up the memo and chucked it in the wastepaper bin on the other side of the room, making the shot easily.
"Send her in," I replied, waving one hand lazily.
Darla disappeared behind the door again, and I glanced down at my notes again, scanning them and trying to commit them to memory before trial this afternoon. I didn't glance up again until I heard the lock click.
"Hello, Scorpius," a nervous voice greeted me, and my head snapped up so quickly I almost got whiplash.
She had changed, but in the best way imaginable. Her hair was longer, and her curls were looser; she wore it down so that it tumbled to the middle of her back. Her eyes were the same blue as ever, although they looked slightly less innocent. Her general demeanour was less childish.
She stood self-consciously in the middle of the room, dithering and fiddling with the hem of her skirt.
I scrubbed one hand down my face, feeling my own stubble snagging the skin of my palm. I had forgotten to shave last night – I'd been too busy.
A tentative smile graced her features, and my heart jumped at how beautiful she was. I couldn't control the reaction any more at twenty three than I had been able to at eighteen, which was a little bit disheartening.
"You look fantastic," she told me, and then blushed and bit her lip, wondering, no doubt, if she'd overstepped the mark.
"I'm overworked," I replied in a soft tone, and she nodded.
"You do seem a bit tired."
"You look a damn sight nicer than I do, anyway," I remarked honestly, and then resisted the urge to slap one hand to my forehead. This was the biggest slippery slope I could possibly fall down.
"I'm sorry for just showing up like this. I was in New York for Molly's wedding tonight, and I picked up a copy of the New York Owl Post, and there you were, staring out at me from the front page. I just had to come and see you."
I nodded, feeling a little shell-shocked. I kept expecting her to disappear every time I blinked.
She gave me a sheepish look, and her feet twitched towards the door. "I'm disturbing you. I'm so sorry, I just… I'll go."
She started towards the door, but I was out of my seat with one hand extended towards her before she could take more than two steps. "No!" I protested. "Please, don't go."
"Okay," she replied, smiling slightly. "I'll stay."
She walked forwards and settled into one of the chairs facing my desk as I sank back into my desk chair.
"How have you been?" I asked, feeling that the question was slightly inadequate.
"I've… Scorpius, I'm so sorry. Words can't even begin to describe… when you left, after I… I couldn't live with myself. I tried to jump off the Astronomy tower, but I was rushed to St Mungo's and… well, I survived. But I didn't want to live, knowing what I did. Every day, all I wanted was to make it all stop. But I didn't, because I was desperately trying to find some way to eventually allow you to forgive me. I knew you would never love me again, but I still…"
"I forgive you, Rose. I forgave you the second you'd done it. I've never hated you. I left because… because I couldn't deal with my own life anymore. I didn't want to be Scorpius anymore, because he's the guy that fucks everything up. I was so tired of being that guy, Rose."
She stared at me with wide eyes, her mouth hanging open in utter disbelief.
"I still love you," she told me. My breath caught in my throat. "I always will."
I just stared at her, speechless and numb. I had no idea how to process her words. Five years apart hadn't changed the way I felt about her, but I had always assumed she would have moved on.
I was wrong.
She mistook my silence for something more hostile, as she clapped a hand to her mouth and stood up abruptly.
"Oh Merlin! You don't want to hear that, of course you don't!" she wailed, jumping out of her seat. "Scorpius, I… I'm such an idiot. I…" She didn't wait for me to respond, though in fairness I wasn't able to, before she turned around and fled from my office. I tried to get out of my seat, but my legs didn't want to work. My body was in a shut down mode of surprise.
Darla's head poked around the door again.
"Bad breakup?" she guessed. "That one was hot, Scor, maybe you should reconsider."
I just stared at her, slack-jawed, eyes bulging.
She laughed. "You look like you could use a drink."
I finally found my voice, and the words that came out were exactly the right ones. They didn't follow my head at all, but something much better. My heart.
"Darla, I need you to find me an address for tonight. A British woman called Molly Weasley is getting married. Find me where."
She nodded. "Have you taken to crashing weddings in the hopes of getting laid now? Whatever you do don't screw the girl who catches the bouquet."
I managed a smirk. "No. I'm more concerned about a single Rose."
I checked the address in my hand for the umpteenth time. The name matched the address of this yacht, I was sure. The music was soft and intimate, and great swells of people were milling around on the deck, some dancing, others drinking. It seemed like a wedding to me.
Someone was pulling back the ramp to let people on as I arrived.
"Excuse me!" I called, running up to the man in question. "I'm a guest, I'm meant to be on this."
He took one look at the tuxedo and seemed to need no further proof. "On you go, sir."
I made my way onto the boat nervously, wondering whether I would be welcome or not. I would rather not be tossed into the Hudson wearing a tuxedo… it would be highly embarrassing.
I spotted a girl standing over by the champagne table, and a smirk twisted the corner of my mouth upwards. As pretty as ever, with long, dark hair and big green eyes, there stood Sophie Avery, chugging down a glass of champagne as quickly as possible.
I made my way over to her slowly.
"Hey Sophie, long time, no see."
She spun around, and her eyes lit up in astonished wonder. "Scorpius!" She held out her arms for a hug, which I gladly returned.
"You look beautiful, Miss Avery."
She drew back from me with a rueful smile. "I think you'll find it's Mrs Potter now, thank you very much."
My jaw dropped. "You married Albus?"
She laughed. "Yeah, that's why I'm drinking like a fish. It's the only way I can put up with my brother-in-law."
I grinned. "James is still a pain in the arse?"
"Oh, of course he is. I think Lysander and Albus are plotting to dump him in the Hudson."
I was just thankful that it wasn't me going head-first into the river. "So are Scamander and Lily still an item?"
"No, Lily's with Rowan Flint now. Lysander is dating Samantha Longbottom."
"Wow…" I let out a low whistle. "That's kind of unexpected."
"Well, yeah… but only because you've been away so long." Sophie's smile faltered slightly, but she managed to recover herself impeccably.
"I'm making my way in the American Wizarding World," I informed her, sweeping a glass of champagne off the table and taking a sip.
"Where's the bride gone to?" Sophie asked, changing the subject entirely. She craned her neck over the crowd. "Ted was looking for her a couple of minutes ago."
"Lupin… how is he?"
"He's grand. Vicky is pregnant again; she's about ready to pop. That's the third one, now."
"And… how is Rose?"
Sophie's expression darkened slightly. "She's never really been the same. She's not dated, not really, not since you guys… she didn't forgive herself. And I kept telling her that you'd forgive her… it was me who persuaded her to come and find you today. I figured she'd invite you here."
She took another sip of wine and grinned at me. I pursed my lips.
"Well, she didn't exactly invite me…"
She snorted. "You're crashing?"
"She tells me she's still in love with me and storms out of my office. What was I meant to do?"
Sophie choked on her champagne. "What the hell are you doing talking to me, then? Go and find Rose!"
I nodded obediently, draining my glass and setting it down on the table. "Wish me luck," I said.
"Good luck," she responded, her eyes alight with hope. Sophie really was too nice to have ever been sorted into Slytherin.
I disappeared into the crowd, scanning every redhead in sight to see if the one I was after was there. I had no luck whatsoever – she could have been swallowed up by a giant fish biblical style and I wouldn't have had a clue.
Just then, there was a pause, and the unmistakeable sound of someone banging a piece of silverware on a glass. "Ladies and gents, it's time for the speeches," I glanced towards the small stage area to see none other than a virtually all-bald Arthur Weasley, an ear to ear grin on his face. "We'll start with the best man…"
I was struck by sudden inspiration. What if I…?
Pushing my way through the crowd, I jumped up the step onto the podium, standing beside Arthur. He looked at me in astonishment.
"You aren't the best man!" he accused, and I could tell by the red hue of his cheeks that he'd had a little too much champagne.
"No, I'm not." My voice blared out through the sound system – muggle, thanks to Arthur, no doubt – and everyone on the boat stopped to stare, falling silent immediately.
I seized the mic from the stand, praying that Rose was listening somewhere.
"I wasn't even invited today. I'm sorry for hijacking the evening, but I have something I really need someone to hear. See, when I was twelve, I somehow worked up the nerve to kiss this girl I liked, and ever since then… well, I haven't been able to stop thinking about her. I tried to forget her, believe me, I did, but the thing about her is that she refuses to be forgotten. She's like that one really good Christmas you have when you're a kid, and it sticks in your mind forever.
"She doesn't know this, but she really should know, especially before she goes home thinking that I don't feel anything for her, because that's just a lie." I took a deep breath, staring around the crowd at every face, each one turned towards me with a ridiculously soppy expression. "Rose Weasley… I've been in love with you since pretty much the first second I met you… and I always will be." I broke off, blushing furiously as I realised what an exhibition I had just made of myself. "And… well, that's all. You can have your speeches now. I just wanted Rose to… know that."
I climbed down and began to push my way through the crowd again, my cheeks burning, desperate for a place to hide. I wished the ground would open up and devour me whole. Hell, I wished someone would throw me overboard.
Rose's soft, surprised voice broke through my embarrassed reverie, and I glanced upwards to find her staring at me. She looked beyond beautiful, her long, fitted blue dress the exact same shade as her eyes.
"Hello, Rosie," I muttered. She smiled incredulously.
"Did you really mean that?" she asked. I nodded, unable to trust myself to speak.
"I… I don't know what to say. That's the single most amazing thing anyone has ever done for me."
I bowed my head, unable to meet her gaze. "I love you. It had to be said."
"I'm glad you said it." My eyes met hers again, and I was lost in them. But even when I was drowning in her gaze, I felt safe. I was home.
"Will you marry me?" I blurted, unable to stop myself. As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I realised I didn't want to stop myself. I meant it.
"What?" she gasped, taken aback.
"I love you. I'm tired of fucking it up. Will you marry me?"
A single tear rolled down her cheek, and she raised one hand to shakily wipe it away before replying, "Yes."
Tentatively, I opened my arms to her, and she ran forwards, throwing herself into my embrace. Her hand found my cheek, and she pulled my face around, down to meet hers. Her lips touched mine, just as soft and sweet as I remembered, and when I pulled away she wasn't the only one crying anymore.
Slowly, all around us, the soft sound of applause reached my ears, as the guests began to clap.
"Don't cry, silly," I whispered, and she laughed thickly through her tears.
"I can't help it," she replied. "I've just found my pot of gold."
I frowned at her in confusion. "What?"
"At the end of the rainbow," she explained.
I smirked. "I've had enough of the rain."
"Me too," she murmured, and I pressed my lips to hers again. The band suddenly struck up a song, and I burst out laughing as I recognised the introduction.
"What's so funny?" Rose asked, leaning her head against mine.
"The song…" I explained. "It's called Walking on Sunshine."
Rosie laughed, and the sound was music to my ears. I wrapped my arms around her tightly, fixing her to me, knowing deep in my heart that I would never, ever let her go again.
I truly was walking on sunshine.
And don't it feel good.
A/N: So this is it. The end. *Sniff* It's been a long long long journey, but now we're finally here. And Rose and Scorpius do live happily ever after. Yay.
Thank you all so much, those loyal people who have stuck with me.
Love to you all!