White Flag

There was a time of dreaming, but there was also a time of a very peaceful silence. Rose enjoyed them both, dreaming of hot chocolate and rainy afternoons, losing the notion of time.

One dream turned into the other. One moment she was tranquil, laying on the grass, she was then winning a match of Quidditch against the Chudley Cannons and her father was crying from the thrill. Soon she got off the broom, relieved that the game was over, she found herself looking for someone. She looked, among the crowd that was vanishing just in front of her. Soon she found herself barefoot, her feet sinking deeply in mud. She recognized the place, dark and humid. The lake was tranquil and wonderfully quiet. She turned around and wondered how long she had to wait for him. Suddenly she hated the silence and the peaceful state of mind.

"She's moving," a voice said.

"She's moved before," a second voice recalled, this one came from further; she could barely make it out.

"Not like this, she hasn't," the first voice spoke again.

Rose tried to move her neck, but an uncomfortable pain stroke her head. She opened her eyes, aching from the rays of light. As the first blur passed, she knew who it was that had spoken first. His green eyes held an effusive expression she had seen only a couple of times in her life.

"Hey," she whispered weakly.

Albus smiled, he was sitting at the corner of her bed, in what was clearly the Hospital Wing. "That proves it. You're alive," he spoke. Rose chuckled weakly, her back hurting from the small effort.

"My head hurts," she frowned.

"Might hurt for a while," Albus said, looking at her face. She recognized the sensation of an unpleasant pressure on her forehead that spread all the way down to her neck.

"How long has it been?"

"You've been out a couple of days," he said, "It was because of the healing potions, we knew you were going to wake up sometime this afternoon. "Glad you're back, took you long enough," he reproached.

Rose swallowed with difficulty, her throat awfully dry. "I don't even want to ask," she expressed.

"Sure you don't want to know? It's quite the story," someone else said. This time she did recognize the second voice instantly. Her heart did stop, of course, but then ran so rapidly again that it soon began to hurt. She turned her eyes at him. He was standing only steps away from the bed, his hands inside the pockets of his black pants. He smiled the moment her eyes found him, but said nothing. It was a warm, yet very small smile.

She opened her lips, a sudden rash of impulse, but remembered that her cousin was there and controlled her will.

She swallowed hard. "What happened?"

Albus exhaled softly, looked at Scorpius, who returned the glance and then gazed back at her. She frowned discreetly, at their new complicity.

It was Albus who spoke first. "You went off like crazy to Hogs—"

"—I know what I did," she interrupted, her head hurt when she raised her voice. "I'm talking about—what happened there? Where's Gerard? Who found me?" she asked, looking at Scorpius momentarily.

"Rose, when you left the school, you were not quite yourself," Scorpius explained. Rose noted that he hadn't moved from his spot, like he didn't want to get any closer to her. Her heart shrunk impressively, she felt blood running up her head from the pressure. "You stormed off alone, I had no idea where you went. At first I was going to let you go, but a while later I ran into Albus, he was looking for you, and suddenly something didn't quite fit."

"Rose, you and I were supposed to go to Hogsmade together," Albus intervened. "I didn't get what it was that made you disappear like that. Then, I found Scorpius instead. He told me about the letters, and that you were furious about something, and then it all made sense once he explained it to me."

"I know. You weren't writing," she said, suddenly submerged in confusion again. Nothing was clear to Rose. Gerard's confessions and Scorpius' reaction were all a very big blur of events. Albus looked at Scorpius briefly, then back at her.

"Well," Albus continued. "He told me everything, and when he told me his version and I realized you had gone off by yourself, I thought you might end up getting into trouble. So I went looking for you, Scorpius came with me. When you weren't at school we went to that owlery. I told him about the plans we had made, and Scorpius insisted you were there," he finished. Rose looked at Scorpius, who still hadn't moved.

"I had a hunch," he said softly.

"We went inside, we didn't find anyone other than a man guarding the place, but Scorpius saw your wand on the floor, behind the door."

"Did you attack him?" she asked to Albus, frowning in concern.

"It wasn't hard, two against one after all," Albus smiled proudly. "Knocked him on the floor quite fast. Scorpius here has got some pretty great tricks."

Scorpius laughed quietly, shaking his head. Rose raised her eyebrow. She could not believe how quickly they had bonded. Two days and an incident had been enough.

"And then?" she asked, but her eyes were focused on Scorpius all of a sudden.

"We found the room you were in, when we went inside you had passed out," Scorpius stopped, focusing his hard eyes on hers. "He had a knife against your throat."

"I remember that," she said, lowering her eyes.

"You were bleeding," Albus said. She looked at her cousin again, apologizing with her eyes for displaying that scene. "And so was he! Did you break that oil lamp on his head?" He asked, amused all of a sudden.

"Yes," she answered weakly, biting her lower lip.

"It worked. He was in pain, struggling. We got there just in time."

"What happened to him?"

Albus looked at Scorpius momentarily, then back at her. "He got away, we tried to stun him. But he's quick, and when Scorpius went to help you, we duelled until he found the moment to disapparate."

"He ran off?" Rose asked, her mind swelling with the possibilities that fact could bring.

"Sorry, Rose," Scorpius whispered. She breathed in at the sound of his low voice.

"Sorry for what? You two are the only reason I'm alive. And it's my entire fault! I shouldn't have gone to that place, I shouldn't have paid so little importance to the fact that a stranger was writing me obsessive notes, I—did everything wrong."

Albus shrugged. "Hey, don't be so hard on yourself."

"My dad, my mum? Do they know?"

"Of course, Rose! They haven't moved from the castle in two days. Uncle Ron assigned a team to look for that guy. They investigated him and all. My dad is leading the Aurors, but they haven't found him yet."

"He's a Lestrange, he's Rabastan's son, do they know that?"

"Yes, and do you know who found that information? Victoire! She researched his life from beginning to end and found that his mother was married to Rabastan. But she never used the Lestrange's family name, and neither did their son. Hancock was the family name he has lived with all these years. Aunt Hermione says it's because after the war many descendants preferred to clean their names, so no Auror would ever look for them, or use them as witnesses. I guess it pays off to have your family working at the ministry."

"How did you even know who he was?"

"Well, he looked familiar to me when I first saw him, and it took me a while but I remembered he was your mum's intern, and aunt Hermione took it from there. Remember that we went to the Ministry a few times last summer?"

"Yes."

"It's creepy, innit? To think he was watching you the entire time."

"It was revenge," she intervened. "He wanted to get back at my dad for killing his father."

"Yes, aunt Hermione figured that one out too."

Rose closed her eyes tightly, thinking of her dad, how worried he must have felt, and how guilty, even."

"Al…" she said, a half smile spreading in her mouth. "If it weren't for you I'd be—"

"Don't bring the party down, don't say that, alright?" Albus said, placing his hand on her knee, which was covered with a clean, white sheet.

"It's true," her voice broke. "And after the things I said. I'm so sorry, I was upset with you but that didn't give me the right to meddle in your relationship. Our cases were different," she said, and looked at Scorpius for a second, he had straightened himself.

"Hey, it's fine. Somebody had to say it, huh?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, about Annemarie…she wasn't good for me, and I knew it from the very beginning. I let the good things cover for that, and I hoped she could change. But yes, I knew I couldn't trust her, just like you knew you could trust Scorpius." Rose smiled at her cousin, even when the muscles of her face ached. She was certain that Scorpius was becoming awkward with their conversation. "It's over now. Saturday morning. I talked to her."

"I'm sorry," she whispered and tried to push herself up, but discovered that her arms weren't strong enough. The effort made her abdomen ache, and she gasped. "What are you moving for? Stop," he ordered.

"Right...then, can you come closer please?" she asked him. Albus frowned.

"What?" he asked, leaning down towards her.

"A little bit more," she said. He reached the level of her face with his, his eyes oblivious. Rose raised her head only a few inches and kissed his cheek softly, but meaningfully. Her head hit the pillow again, and Albus frowned even more.

Albus frowned. "That was unnecessary. You're being weird lately," he declared. "I'll leave before you get even more emotional. Look, people sent you presents," Albus pointed out as he stood up. Rose turned her head over softly, and saw that the nightstand on her left had a substantial amount of chocolate frogs, muggle chocolates, and bags of drops of heaven on it.

"Chocolate!"

"Your grandparents, Aunt Audrey, Uncle George, Teddy, our grandparents, and I can keep going. Do you know what Uncle George said when he came here yesterday afternoon?"

"What?"

"He told our dads that they should be proud of us. He said James may be the trouble maker, but you and I were following their steps, so they should be prepared for the headaches we'll bring."

Rose chuckled, it hurt her chest. "That's silly."

"I know, but Uncle Ron didn't find it silly or amusing." Albus said, and cleared his throat dramatically. "Alright, then! I guess I'll go and tell uncles Ron and Hermione that you are back to life."

"Wait, Al," Rose said impulsively, but when Albus turned to see her, Rose's cheeks went red, and she muted herself. Albus glanced at Scorpius in complicity.

"Don't worry," he said. "It'll take me a while to find them, big castle, you know," he said plainly through a whisper, and walked away from the bed and out the lonely Hospital wing.

Rose's eyes didn't hesitate, they wondered into Scorpius the very moment she realized they were alone in the room. His hands still tucked tightly inside his pockets, he walked slowly towards the bed, from which Rose felt like jumping out of. He stopped, just when he was close enough to her.

"I'm so sorry," she said. "It was me, I ruined everything. That guy is still out there because I was stupid enough to—and the way I behaved with you, I was stupid. I don't know what—it just got so confusing at one point that—"she silenced, and Scorpius' solemn face contemplated her, like waiting for her to speak again. A shiver travelled up her body once she felt his silence.

"Are you done?" Scorpius asked, softly, but Rose felt it strict. She frowned at him. "Stop apologizing," he said then, and his face spoke with a painful expression. She breathed in.

"I don't even know what you're doing here."

"You have no idea? Rose Weasley?" he pierced with his eyes, like he had done many times before.

"You're upset, I get it, and you should be. You have all the reasons in the world to—"

"I'm not upset," he said again. Her heart rose to the level of her throat.

"Then, you're disappointed," she bit her lip. "I turned out to be like everybody else."

Scorpius, standing as he was, took her chin with the fingers of his right hand, placing his thumb firmly on her lips, sealing them. She silenced, and he sat on the spare side of the bed, closer to her than the place Albus had been sitting. Her heart was begging for permission to jump out of her chest. She wanted to tell him what he meant to her, how lost she would be if he didn't forgive her, ever. "You're never like everyone else. Don't say that. I bit mental, yes, but I have to admit I fancy that side of you."

"What?" she murmured, beneath his thumb, he rubbed his finger over her lips softly, patiently.

"You thought I was setting you up, you thought I was threatening you through anonymous letters, and you still went out with me," he shook his head, Rose stared at him blankly. That had been Albus statement only a few days ago. Her eyes widened in surprise. She thought he would feel indifferent, she thought he wouldn't want to even look at her after the way she had treated him. She thought the breakup was tacit.

"I wanted so bad to be wrong," she admitted, as her words came out of her mouth so firmly, she felt entirely exposed, naked. She was becoming vulnerable because of him.

He gave her a half smile. "You weren't entirely wrong."

"But you're innocent."

"Of all this I am," he nodded. "I'm just not the most innocent person out there," he confessed, his grey eyes dark, his hand caressing her face softly.

"I don't get it Scorpius. I asked you about the letters and your reaction made me so positive that it had been you! At one point I thought I had two writers, I even though you were working for Gerard." Scorpius laughed quietly, shaking his head. "I know. I'm a thick head," she concluded.

Scorpius sighed strongly, he lowered his eyes. "This is embarrassing," he sighed. He then turned his head towards the nightstand next to Rose. "Let me take one of those," he pointed at the chocolate frogs, and Rose frowned in astonishment. She shrugged, and he extended his arm and opened a treat. As Rose observed him with amusement, she discovered that in the table also ruled paper geese and dragons, along with a few jumping origami frogs. She was impressed when she saw one of the dragons guarding a paper egg. Her brother was becoming a master in origami. He bit one leg of the animal, and wrinkled his face to the taste, she smile at the sight of him eating chocolate.

"I was writing to you. I'm responsible for some of those notes," he said, a hot sensation invaded her chest violently. She was overwhelmed, but attentive again. "Rose, I can't tell you how long it has been since I first…" he sighed, "Saw you. You got stuck in my mind, my will. At first, when it was mere attraction I liked to play with the thought of it. You and I weren't the ideal couple, our family history and our life styles complicate everything. So, it became safe, because you were distant, we weren't friends, and we weren't right. It was amusing to fancy you. It felt like a game. But I let it grow on me, I never fought it but I never found it serious either."

Scorpius swallowed softly for a moment. He grabbed the remaining frog with his left hand and he set his right arm on her left side of the bed. He leaned down, and she felt momentarily trapped beneath him.

"I underestimated myself, you. I discovered at one point that you were the only thing I wanted, and I wanted you fully."

Rose tried to breathe air in, her lips and chest trembled in the process.

"I guess I'm no different than him," Scorpius said, she shook her head, silently, denying his last statement. "I didn't know where to begin. Everything I knew about you suddenly felt so intangible. We had barely spoken to each other, and if anything we shared rivalry during classes. And then, one day, I guess I must have been ridiculously obvious, because your cousin Lily Potter walked up to me after dinner and said something like: So, you fancy my cousin, planning to do anything about it?"

"What?" Rose chuckled. "Lily did what?"

"More than that. I denied it, and ignored her for the following week. But, hell, that girl can be persistent! She became my shadow, she didn't leave me until I listened to what she had to say. So, one day I had to ask her what it was that made her believe that you and I had a chance to make it as a couple."

"And what did she answer?"

"She said she had a hunch, and she was good with hunches. I think I laughed when I heard that. Found it kind of stupid, actually. But then she said something I couldn't deny. She said she was the best chance I had to reach you," he smirked. Rose shook her head.

"You didn't need Lily."

"Maybe, but I have to admit she knows you, and she told me a few things that turned out to come in handy. One: you're stubborn, and a little full of yourself, but that fades quickly—"

"She said that?—"

"Two," he continued. "You are competitive, so if I ever felt assaulted by you in any way, I shouldn't take it personally. It's just your way to start a good competition," he grinned. She shook her head slowly. "Three," he said, leaning down towards her, his mouth reaching her ear slowly. "And my personal favourite, you hate losing," he whispered, her skin shivered. "And that makes you insufferable during a class if you don't have the final word. So I had to be patient because, I'm not a great loser myself," he finished, and leaned back to his original position.

"Sounds like Lily pointed out the worst of me," Rose raised her eyebrow, Scorpius laughed softly.

"I needed to break you in, and that's when Lily suggested the notes. I found it childish, but again that cousin of yours is too persistent for her small size. She insisted, and the idea grew into me. I figured they had to be anonymous, and if my plan of slowly breaking into you didn't work, then I had the notes, maybe that would catch your attention."

"But who wrote them?" Rose inquired.

"Me, that explains why they're so awful," he said, taking the chocolate that was on his left hand towards Rose's mouth. She bit it, savoured it and swallowed it.

"You make me smile, that was you wasn't it?" She said, trying to remember the handwriting of each of the letters to identify which ones were his, but it became impossible, that moment had been too emotional to remember any part of it clearly.

He grinned.

"What else was you?" She asked softly, and heard her voice come out sweetly.

"The lousy ones," he said, taking the remaining piece of frog to his mouth.

"Don't be ridiculous. There weren't lousy ones," she said, her heart freezing as she waited for his reaction. To her pleasure, he smirked.

"Is that so?" he raised his eyebrow. "You tell me the ones you remember and I'll tell you if I wrote them.

"Don't do that," she feared, and bit her lip, but she accepted the challenge. "Alright...I think you fell from the sky," she said, he smiled widely.

"Mine."

"Ok, that one was sweet," she admitted.

"I blame that on your Shakespeare," Scorpius said. "He has an impressive concept of death, heaven, hell, angels. It's amazing the thought Muggles put into that."

"Come on, tell me. What else was you?" Rose pleaded with a string of voice.

Scorpius smiled, poorly. He looked down at the white sheet that covered Rose. "How I wish you could see the potential of you and me. It's like a book elegantly bound, but in a language that you can't read." Rose smiled, widely, too pleased to fake anything. "And that was it," Scorpius continued. "I chickened out, I didn't want to write to you indefinitely, so I decided to stop. Besides, it was bringing me too much trouble. I couldn't write to you during the Christmas Holidays because you would identify the handwriting, and I had to make sure you didn't see any of my school papers. I stopped for good. Your cousin wasn't glad about that."

"But why didn't you tell me?"

"I postponed it, one week at a time, until I felt like an idiot for postponing it too long," he explained. But I scared you, and now that I think of it, it was stupid."

"It wasn't," she said quietly. Scorpius smiled pleasantly. "I have one question, is that the only reason you didn't write during the Holidays? Because, it seems to me like you had a lot more going in your head and your house back then," she said straight at him. Scorpius breathed in, and pressed his forehead against hers for a few seconds. "I'll tell you but do we have to get into that right now?"

She closed her eyes tightly, she wanted to know everything that disturbed her, but trust overruled her. "We can talk about that later. I still have a lot to know about you, though."

"You'll have the time...but you won't like parts of it" he confessed, separating himself from her.

"I'll manage," she said.

Scorpius smiled softly, and his hand rubbed the skin of her face, travelling down to her neck, where she felt a small bother as he touched her.

"It's healing fast. But he left you serious injuries. Rose, when I saw you...for a moment I thought the knife had stabbed your neck."

"You were the one who was calling my name, weren't you? You were the one who asked me to open my eyes."

He smiled. "You heard. I though, I thought it was too late."

"Nothing grave happened," she said. "I'm beginning to think that he wasn't going to do it. He looked so confused."

"Psychopathic is the term," Scorpius grunted.

"I guess," she whispered, resting her head on the pillow. "But it's over now."

"It won't be over until he's dea—"

"Don't!" Rose intervened, loudly enough to surprise him. "Don't say that word." She frowned, suddenly feeling painful about everything that had happened. The reality and gravity of the situation was sinking inside of her. She was in a good deal of danger. "Can we talk about something else?" she wondered hastily. She looked at the opened box that once belonged to the frog they had just shared. "You didn't check it out to see who you got."

Scorpius looked at her, and then took the box to withdraw the card that was inside.

"Huh," he said, his expression plain. "I got your father again," he raised his eyebrow, and Rose stared at the small, enchanted figure of her dad.

"That's hilarious," she said, with poor enthusiasm. "Oh, my dad," she shut her eyes tightly. I'm so stupid!"

"Why?"

"Half of my family are either Aurors or former members of the Order of the Phoenix, and I chose to unfold the matter myself. My dad is going to kill me."

"Well, yeah, that was a bit stupid. But it wouldn't be you if you didn't take care of the problem with your own hands, would it?" once she caught his eyes again she maintained her smiled and glance firm, he did just the same.

"You know that much about me?"

He shrugged plainly. "It's been years, but I still remember you trying to reverse the effect you caused in that healing potion. Remember? The one you exploded because you didn't allow Professor Maddock to help you?"

"Um, vaguely," she said, turning red.

"He hates me, doesn't he?" Scorpius asked, his eyes studying the card again.

"What—no! Why would he? He barely knows you. Well, if it's of any consolation, my dad hates any man who dares to breathe next to me." He smiled poorly, and Rose regretted the comment as soon as it left her mouth. "Why would you assume he hates you?"

"Do I have to spell it out for you?" He asked directly. Rose stared at him in silence for a moment.

"He might have some trouble understanding. He—it's complicated, Scorpius."

His glance had never been so firm. He nodded. "I know exactly how complicated this can be," his voice was steady and deep as he spoke.

"And we are the ones who are going to make this even more complicated for them," Rose said. Out of a sudden urgency that was born in her chest she held Scorpius' face with both of her hands, feeling his skin, wishing to have the rest of the day with him only.

Scorpius sighed. "My father will have to lighten up," he said. "But to be honest, he's not the one who worries me."

"My dad might have a heart attack," she whispered. "I told him we were friends, and nothing more, though."

"Then there's nothing wrong, is there? We're friends," Scorpius said, leaning his head once again. She tightened her grip on him, while he brushed her jaw line with his lips."

"I believe we're past that stage," she whispered, as she bit her lip softly.

"Really?" Scorpius hummed, his lips travelled to brush hers. But my intentions are friendly like. I just want to feed you chocolate drops all day long. Is that too bad?" He questioned, and she could feel a smirk in his voice.

"You do not."

"That's it, really."

"That's all you want from me," she said plainly.

"That's all."

"Swear on it," Rose dared. Scorpius pulled away, smiling widely. She returned the smile, and used her index to draw an imaginary line that went from his forehead, to his nose, to his lips. Their eyes got caught within seconds. If the circumstances were different she would have pulled him towards her by now, but she controlled those impulses, and played to draw lines over his face for the next minutes.

"Careful Weasley. I told you I'm not innocent, try not to tempt much."

Rose chuckled softly. "Yet, you won't tell me why you keep saying that," she scolded, softly but she knew the message had come across. Scorpius shortened the distance imposed by himself and kissed her forehead. An uncomfortable feeling invaded her stomach. How much longer would she have to wait for an explanation?

"Chocolate," he murmured. Rose frowned.

"What?" she asked in amusement.

He chuckled softly. "That's the third thing I smelled with the Armotentia potion. Salty breeze, leather gloves and chocolate. I had read and memorized the ingredients to that potion a long time ago, but I never brew it in my life. My first time was this year, like you. Crazy thing is that I was prepared to smell...your skin, your hair, your perfume, but I never thought I would smell chocolate."

Rose smiled, an unexplainable thrill invading her vanes.

"Wet soil, burning wood and...the essence of warm spices with soft critics," she lowered her eyes. "It's weird, I know, but the last one is new to me." She paused, raising her eyes at him. "And that's what your perfume smells like," she said. She had not finished speaking when he kissed her, and she was grateful for it. Her fingers dared to hold his hair tightly, pressing him against her. His hand found the space to caress her face, for as long as he wanted.

"I'm not letting you go," his rough voice murmured to her ear only minutes later. She closed her eyes, her chest had expanded infinitely. Words crossed her head, her soul. She wanted to explain so many things in such little time.

"I'm not going anywhere," was all she whispered back, and moved to press her lips against his jaw line. The mere movement made her uncomfortable, so she rested her head back on the pillow.

"It's hurting isn't it?" he asked her.

"It's just—very uncomfortable."

"Do you still have the slug ointment I prepared? It will erase that scar fast," he suggested. She nodded. "Any luck finding what was in it?"

Rose rolled her eyes at him. "Be quiet," she murmured. "I'll figure it out, don't worry." She heard the door to the Hospital wing opening. Scorpius stood up so fast, she didn't see him move at all. Again, he tucked his hands inside his pockets and drew distance between him and the bed.

When Rose turned around she saw her parents walking towards her. Her heart, which had already suffered enough emotions during the past days, stopped cold. She tried not to glance at Scorpius, just to avoid being too obvious.

They walked towards her with a smile on their faces. Hermione the bed in a fast move and kissed her forehead, sitting on the now popular empty side of the bed. "How do you feel?" she asked sweetly. Rose answered to calm her mum's worries, but she didn't miss Scorpius and her dad's greeting. She figured they had seen each other quite a lot during the past two days, because there wasn't any introduction involved.

"Mr. Weasley," he said, and stretched his arm to offer his hand to Rose's father. Ron stood still for a moment, staring at Scorpius, like studying his matters. Scorpius' behaviour was probable the most formal out there. Something he must have learned from his prestigious family.

"Scorpius," Ron ended up saying, as he shook the boy's hand tightly. "Seems like you spend a lot of time at the hospital wing lately."

"Ron!" Hermione scolded. "Scorpius was worried," Hermione explained. Rose looked at her mother, smiling shyly.

"I just wanted to make sure she was alright," Scorpius explained. "I'll leave you now, you must have a lot to talk about," Scorpius said. "Nice seeing you again Mrs. Weasley. See you later Rose," he said, directing her a warm smile. "Mr. Weasley," Scorpius shook Ron's hand one more time and left the room. Rose's dad stood still, looking at the man as he walked out.

"I'm so glad you're better," Hermione said, caressing the girl's face with the back of her hand. Rose smiled, but her eyes went straight to her dad, whose face was a complicated mixture of relief and sternness.

"I'm really sorry about the way I handled things. It was all a huge mistake."

"It doesn't really matter anymore, Rose. The important thing is that you are fine."

"I owe it all to Al and Scorpius."

"Since when are those two friends?" Ron asked her, turning his distraction into pure concentration.

"Ron," Hermione interrupted. "Albus already explained that. They bonded recently."

"Right," he sighed.

Rose bit her lips, clearly Hermione was trying to make the situation lighter for everybody, but it wasn't quite working, the tension in the environment was thick. Still, she acted like nothing was going wrong, and turned to look at Rose's neck, and the scar Scorpius had been staring at. She was beginning to think it was rather notorious, and at the moment she preferred not to look at it.

"I never thought you would have one of those," Hermione said sadly.

"It's alright. It'll heal soon. I'll put some slug ointment on it. You know, like the one you put on dad's wounds when he was injured during the Holidays.

"Oh," Hermione said, a wide smile spread on her lips. "Scorpius' medicine."

"What?" Ron asked sternly. Hermione turned to him.

"That's right honey, Rose's friend is quite the potion maker. That slug ointment is a miracle worker. You said so yourself."

Ron's expression was plain, while Hermione's was cheerful. "Listen, Rose, your dad wants to talk to you, so I'll leave you two alone," she explained, patting Rose's hand softly. "I'll bring you something to eat. Oh, and Hugo has been asking about you, so I'll tell him to come by later," she said, and leaned forward to kiss Rose's forehead again. "You and I can talk later," she smiled, and before she walked out of the room she stroked Ron's cheek sweetly. They exchanged quick glances, and Rose wondered if it was all a way to advice Ron to be calm about what he had to say. She became impatient within seconds.

Ron walked up to her, and contrary to what everybody else had done, he grabbed a chair and sat on it, close to the bed. Her heart shrunk to the size of a peanut. Indifference was the worst he could do to her. She knew it well, it was the same tool she used when she was angry at him.

She lowered her eyes, looking at the white sheets instead of him. She remained silent, it was better to let him speak first, for she had nothing good to say for herself. Ron pressed his fingers against his forehead, closing his eyes, massaging the tired skin of his face. Suddenly she noticed how tired he looked.

"So, you two are friends," he asked sharply. Rose nodded.

"We are. Scorpius is a good person," she explained. Ron looked at her. "If it weren't for him and Albus, I wouldn't even be here, dad."

"I'm aware of the fact, Rose," he said with a plain tone in his voice, examining the boxes of chocolates that were on the nightstand. "If there's something I'm aware of...is that I've never owed anything to a Malfoy, ever. It's always been the other way around," he said, directing a softer look this time. She understood then how hard it was for him.

"This isn't that kind of Malfoy, dad. He's different than them."

Ron chuckled, shaking his head. "Rose, he may seem that to you now but—"

"Wait. I know what you're going to say. You're going to tell me that I don't know him enough to trust him."

"I'm only suggesting you pick your friends wisely," he strictly said.

"Well, I have, dad. I trust him. He's not what you think of him. And I know I screwed up. I know I made a stupid mistake that almost cost me my own life, but it isn't his fault. You can be sure of that."

Ron remained silent. He then shook his head, and his eyes gave her a level of worry that broke what was left of her heart that day.

"You have a way of cracking my temper like no one else, you know that, Rose Weasley?"

"I know," she murmured. "I don't even know what drove me to that owlery. I just—"

"You went on your own looking for something you knew could be dangerous, that's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. You were lucky they found you," he took his right hand to his face.

"Dad," she whispered with a small voice.

"You know, I always knew you'd inherit your mother's character. I'm proud of that, but you forgot to take her prudence with you as you did so."

Her eyes widened, and she bit her lips.

"Don't ever do that again, Rose Weasley." She nodded softly, her heart filled with relief. If that was the end of it she wouldn't complain. Ron leaned forward, to take her face inside his hand. "We're going to get that guy, I'm making sure of it."

"He's very disturbed dad, I could see it. He's completely lost."

"That only means he's even more dangerous for you."

"And he's very resentful of what happened between you and his father," she said, lowering her eyes. She couldn't get herself to be direct about it.

"Rose, it was an accident. It was him or me."

"I know. You wouldn't do that unless you had no other choice. I just—wished I had known about it, so it didn't take me by surprise like it did."

"Do you think the tales of a former Auror are of any good? You don't always have to know everything about everyone. Sometimes, it's actually best not to find out certain things," he wisely said, and Rose looked at him quickly. That was probably the strongest advice she had received from her father, knowing too much could become harmful. She had admitted herself to be hopelessly in love with Scorpius Malfoy, even if her lips couldn't still whisper it out. Maybe his dark details didn't matter. Of course, her father wasn't talking about Scorpius at all, but he didn't know the lengths his advice covered.

"I guess you're right," she agreed. Her father smiled pleased. "Still, dad, you're not joining the Auror department again, are you?"

Ron looked at her for a moment, his hand still held her face softly. "Do you know why I left the Auror department in the first place?"

"Yes, the shop was going through a crisis," she explained plainly. "You knew it was time to focus in the family business."

"That was one excuse," he smiled. "Everybody understood the Importance of that. But…I missed one of your birthdays that year, didn't I?"

"You did."

"It took me weeks after that to make the final decision, but I realized I never wanted you or Hugo to go through that again. I wanted more time with him, with your mum, and with you. You were growing up too fast. You were severe, proud, and sensible. I didn't even saw it until that day, and I realized I was missing the best part of your childhood. I wasn't going to let that happen, with you or Hugo." Rose's covered her father's hands with hers. "Being an Auror didn't mean as much as being your father," he continued. "But right now my family's safety comes first."

"What does mum think of this?"

"She knows why I'm doing it."

"But dad, you don't have to go back. There's people trained for that. Uncle Harry is perfectly capable of—"

"Rose, I'm not going to sit and wait until that man is in Azkaban. I'm going to put him there myself. The Auror department has enough to deal with right now, they are not going to attend this the way I am. Besides, Harry could use some help."

"They're conspiring," she remembered. Her conversation with Gerard came back to her. "There's a group of people conspiring against the Ministry."

"I know. We've known for months. And Gerard Hancock is only a small part of it."

"But I don't want you to get hurt again," she confessed. He laughed.

"Hurt? Me? No way that's going to happen."

She smiled, at her father's security. "Dad…"

"It's not!" he shrugged uninterestedly.

"Please, be careful."

Ron laughed softly, shaking his head at his daughter. "Look at you, I can't let anything like this happen to you again."

Rose's smile was small. She kissed the palm of his hand. She was aware of his overprotective behaviour, just like she was aware that she was the one responsible for her current condition. No one had to take the blame, and yet everyone seemed to be taking responsibility for it. Not Albus, not her dad, not even Scorpius had to feel at all guilty. She wondered, how long it would be until he found Gerard, or how long it would be until Gerard found her. Her smile faded, worried that it would be months, years even. Gerard was a patient man, he could hide himself until the right moment came. After all, this technique had worked for him the last time. She had gone to him. Rose closed her eyes tightly, a headache spreading rapidly. She wanted her mind to go blank again.

"Any big plans for these chocolate frogs?" Ron asked, taking a package and opening it.

"I love you dad," she whispered.

Artist: Dido

Lyrics:

I know you think that I shouldn't still love you,
Or tell you that.
But if I didn't say it, well I'd still have felt it
where's the sense in that?

I promise I'm not trying to make your life harder
Or return to where we were

I will go down with this ship
And I won't put my hands up and surrender
There will be no white flag above my door
I'm in love and always will be

I know I left too much mess and
destruction to come back again
And I caused nothing but trouble
I understand if you can't talk to me again
And if you live by the rules of "it's over"
then I'm sure that that makes sense

I will go down with this ship
And I won't put my hands up and surrender
There will be no white flag above my door
I'm in love and always will be

And when we meet
Which I'm sure we will
All that was there
Will be there still
I'll let it pass
And hold my tongue
And you will think
That I've moved on...

I will go down with this ship
And I won't put my hands up and surrender
There will be no white flag above my door
I'm in love and always will be

I will go down with this ship
And I won't put my hands up and surrender
There will be no white flag above my door
I'm in love and always will be

I will go down with this ship
And I won't put my hands up and surrender
There will be no white flag above my door
I'm in love and always will be