He knew it would only be a matter of time before they crossed paths, he the Prince of Slytherin and she, daughter of two of Gryffindor's most famous students. Rose Weasley had never lowered herself to associate with Scorpius and his friends, but he knew she was aware of his presence as well. Every time she raised her hand in class, she sniffed loudly and raised her chin at his whispered taunts. When they neared each other in the halls, she took great pains to direct her gaze elsewhere, creating a berth crackling with tension as she avoided what was so obviously their fate. But she persisted in ignoring his many advances, reportedly burning the letters he penned and gifts he sent until it became a great game: when would the elusive woman-child finally succumb to his love?

Everyone knew it would happen one day. Over the years, the sound of her name and his entwined together had become as common as fireworks before end of year exams. And yet, Scorpius was surprised to learn that Rose had been confiding in Professor McGonagall, of all people. The Headmistress had called him into her office and blathered on about keeping in control and developing other interests. His only interest was Rose and he failed to pay attention to the lecture until her name came into the conversation. She was…intimidated by his very presence, McGonagall had stated, one hand fluttering at her throat. Rose had intimated that she would be hard-pressed to control herself if the two of them were to ever be alone.

Scorpius knew then that their time had finally come. In spite of her previous reluctance and her parent's wishes, she was ready to return his feelings. After assuring McGonagall that he would be on his best behavior, he left her office at a near-run, going directly to the library where he knew Rose was probably inside, hiding her blush as she thought of him behind a towering stack of books. He thought briefly of going inside, but after considering Madam Pince's possible reaction to their first kiss, thought it best he wait in the hall for her, counting the minutes until he could finally hold her in his arms. Minutes passed, then hours. Finally, long after the sun had kissed the horizon, the door opened and Rose stepped into the hallway. Scorpius found he could not move.

She was breathtaking; her sudden presence made Scorpius feel as if he were being blessed with the light of the sun after being trapped in darkness for years. Rose stood in the hall clutching her books to her chest, her head cocked to one side as she listened for sounds in the hall. The only sound was Scorpius struggling for air as he took her in, and then footsteps as he approached her from behind, a small smile curling his lips as she turned to him and her eyes widened.

"You!" Her voice came out in a choked whispered. She dropped her books to the floor and began searching her pockets frantically.

"McGonagall told me what you said," Scorpius began. "I have to say, I'm glad you've finally come around."

"Don't come any closer," Rose shouted, her face flushing. She pulled her wand from inside her sock and brandished it at him, her right arm shaking as she gripped the instrument.

"I'm afraid I can't wait for you any longer," Scorpius stated. Reaching out to Rose, he stepped closer and smiled. It was his last.

Rose shouted a spell Scorpius had never heard—and never would hear—one of her Uncle Harry's invention. As the bright blast of orange light filled the dim hall, Rose turned and ducked, wincing as bits of flesh splattered in her hair and dotted her school uniform. Shuddering and crying, she fell to her knees and hugged herself, grateful that her nightmare was finally over.

Draco paced back and forth outside the Headmistress's office, a frown pulling his mouth down and sharpening his already angular features. They had told him nothing, the idiots from Magical Law Enforcement. Just that there was an urgent matter concerning his son at Hogwarts (again, he'd known that smug bastard McLaggen had wanted to say) and he had better find the nearest Floo connection and meet his wife at the school.

For her part, Astoria merely sat in a chair next to the guarded entrance and rocked slowly back and forth, studying her hands as if she would find something new blooming beneath the skin if she looked hard enough. Draco knew she'd probably taken a few extra doses of her "mild relaxant" when MLE had contacted her—possibly before. The potion could no more fix their distant marriage than give his empty-headed wife the perfect son she liked to imagine they had, but he supposed anything that helped her cope with reality could be ignored. Just as she ignored signs that their son was turning out to be more like her father every day. David Greengrass was one wizard who clearly deserved his exclusive accommodations in the padded room at the end of the Janice Thickey Ward.

Draco stopped pacing as he spotted several familiar figures coming down the hall at a jog. Hermione and Ron Weasley, both agitated and Harry Potter, the determined sneer that had graced many a Wizarding magazine cover distorting his features.

"Do you know what that sick bastard of yours did to our daughter this time?" Ron reached for Draco, only to be stopped as Hermione put up a Shield between the two of them.

"Can we at least hear what Professor McGonagall has to say before we start with the accusations and violence?" Hermione frowned at her husband before turning to the two blondes on the other side of the hall. She nodded politely. "Draco, Astoria."

Draco ignored her and turned to Harry. "What are you doing here?"

He shrugged. "My office isn't normally called in for school matters, but McGonagall says I'm involved."

"How?" Draco pressed. Before he could further interrogate the Head Auror, the stone gargoyle in front of the office entrance moved to one side, revealing a winding set of stairs. Draco felt his wife's small hand cling to his and moved forward, quickly followed by Rose's parents and the Auror. He had scarcely knocked on the door before it swung open and McGonagall's cracking voice beckoned him further.

"No! He's coming for me again!" Rose screamed and raised her wand in Draco's direction, shrinking back into her chair when he turned to her. Ron was at her side in seconds, throwing his arms around his daughter as she collapsed in tears.

"No, sweetheart. It's all right. That bastard is only his father. Scorpius can't hurt you." Ron stood and gathered her to his side. "We'll wait outside," he said, pulling his daughter towards the stairs. Seconds later, he closed the door behind himself.

"What is going on?" Hermione asked. While she had been composed before, she now let panic creep into her voice. It rose in pitch as she repeated her question, frantic as McGonagall avoided her eyes and directed her gaze to the portrait of Albus Dumbledore just behind her desk.

"It seems there was incident with Scorpius just over an hour ago," McGonagall said, turning back to face the parents. "Rose came to me earlier today, concerned that his interest did not seem to disappear after he attended the recommended therapy sessions."

Draco frowned. Recommended, yes, but it had been his wife's idea to simply have a "talking to" with their only child, explaining that he would fare better if he let Rose come to him instead of following her between classes and riding his broom outside her dorm's balcony. He, the ever indulgent fool, had gone along with her denial simply because it was easier.

"When I spoke to Scorpius about it, he seemed…how do I say this? Noncommittal on the idea of leaving her alone altogether, although he promised to be more considerate of her personal space." Minerva McGonagall frowned and began wringing her hands at her waist. "There really is no easy way to say this. Rose has been in hysterics since it happened, but as near as I can make out, Scorpius had begun following her again. She found him waiting outside the library for her. He attacked her."

Hermione gasped. Harry clenched his fist and glared at Draco out of the corner of his eye.

"I'm afraid things got rather messy after that." McGonagall sighed and then reached into the top drawer of her desk. She pulled out a plain wooden box and, with another heavy sigh, thrust the box across the desk to Astoria.

"What's this?" she asked. She clutched the small box in her hand. It was about the size of a shoe box and heavy for its size.

"Your son's remains."

Draco thanked his quick reflexes for being able to catch his wife before she fell to the floor in a faint. The box connected with the pattered rug running beneath McGonagall's desk; he caught sight of the end of one finger and a bloody thatch of once-blonde hair before the top settled over it again. Bile rose thick in the back of his throat. He swallowed hard.

"How—what happened?" Draco asked. He didn't recognize his own voice, thick with emotion. He clutched his sagging wife to his front, not wanting to admit he was grateful when McGonagall lifted her wand and moved Astoria to a sofa on the far side of the office.

"This is where things get murky," Minerva said. "Rose read the spell while going through defense materials. I believe the purpose of that particular spell is to make the victim explode."

"How would a student even have access to that kind of spell?" Draco asked.

Harry raised one hand just past his shoulder before lowering it quickly. "She was using my home office to research spells over Christmas," he said. "She told me she had a paper for class. I suppose she found the notebook of spells I'm developing for the Auror Department and—"

"And used it to murder my son," Draco stated. "She had this planned for months."

"I believe it was self-defense," Hermione said. "Don't forget, he was stalking her."

"I've always doubted that." Draco snorted. "She isn't much to look at." He flinched when Hermione moved to take a swing at him, grateful for Harry Potter's help for the second time in his life when the Auror stepped between them. He turned back to the Headmistress. "Before you ask, yes I want to press charges."

"Are you out of your mind?" Harry asked just as McGonagall said, "I'm afraid that will not be possible."

Draco frowned and crossed his arms. "And why is that?"

"I was just preparing to inform you that Scorpius may have to be removed from Hogwarts when I received the news of this evening's incident. Apparently, he really had taken his fixation with Miss Weasley to a new level. She was right to be frightened of him." McGonagall reached into her desk drawer again and pulled out of a series of photos. "These were taken by one of his roommates earlier today."

Draco walked slowly to the desk, bracing himself as the photos were spread over the smooth wood surface. Dozens of photographs of his son's room covered the desk blotter. Surrounding the bed and plastered to the walls of his corner of the dorm were pictures of Rose Weasley, taken as she moved around the school. A lock of wavy auburn hair was captured in a jar on top of Scorpius's trunk. An unidentifiable brown substance was in another jar. Draco's eyes drifted to another photo. "What are these?"

"Pages ripped from copies of Romeo and Juliet," McGonagall said. The sheets were stuck to the walls between photos of Rose and hanging in the air around the bed. Draco narrowed his eyes. He could just make out his son's initials entwined with the Weasley girl's along with crude drawings on several of the pages. His gazed moved to another shot where Scorpius had written over several passages in his wide, looping scrawl. At the words pictured there, Draco gagged and took a step back as if the picture would taint him.

"She did this," Draco said. He turned to his glance at his wife. "She bought him a copy of that play every fucking Christmas and birthday and told him that if he wanted love, he had to take—" Draco bent over in front of the desk and vomited. Sharp pains ripped through his torso and tears filled his eyes. When he got control of his heaving, he forced himself to stand and came face-to-face with the end of Hermione's wand.

"You think what my daughter did to him was criminal?" Her voice shook and her face was suffused with color. "You created that monster. And I'm going to make you wish you'd never been born."