Hey guys!

I'm only two days late! Major improvement, right?

Okay, I'm super busy this week, so I wouldn't expect an update on Friday. But after that be ready for one!

So, there are two more chapters (I think...) until the time jump. I apologize for the first 14 chapters of this fic being mostly set-up, but hey. I couldn't have really started in their fifth year and explained all of this, I don't think. 'Sides, you needed to meet Fabian and Ayana and they won't be at school after the time jump (although they won't disappear any time soon :D).

So, like I said, this chapter is mostly a filler. But it does set up some good stuff, so...

Disclaimer: Purity - Just like I (unfortunately) don't own Scorpius, she doesn't own Harry Potter (the series or the character).

The sight of Malfoy steaming through his sloppily dyed hair was an image I wanted to remember for the rest of my days. His normally pale face was flushed a blotchy pink and his clothes were haphazardly on, as if he was too rushed to bother. His discomposure nearly brought a smirk to my face, but I restrained myself. There was no solid evidence that it was me, after all.

The girls stood solidly behind me, even though Purity recked of disapproval. The Goyle twins and Zabini backed Malfoy. I felt slight remorse at how I was tearing their little group apart. Shrugging it off, I figured if they were truly as they close as they'd said, they would work through it. It being me, that is.

The rest of the House wasn't bothering being discreet about watching. Knowledge was power, after all, and in a House that relished power, it wasn't even worth it to pretend not to watch.

"May I enquire as to why you are assaulting me at this hour in the morning?" I yawned, smoothing my bed-ruffled waves of hair. I'd slept in a loose tee and plaid cotton shorts, which wasn't the greatest attire for battle, but it would do.

His eyes narrowed, the dark color of storm clouds in his anger. "Don't play innocent, Weasley. Save the nice act for the professors. I know you did this. Now, how the hell do you get it out?"

Sniffing, I rubbed my right foot against my left heel. "I didn't have anything to do with it. Looks more like one of my cousin's work. Too messy for me. It looks like Muggle hair dye. It doesn't come out easy."

He stalked closer, getting in my face, but I didn't back down, jerking my chin higher. "If this is still in my hair tomorrow morning, you are dead. Dead. Understand?" He was about to turn away, but glared behind me first. "And I see you've succumbed to her too, Purity. Shame. I thought better of you." With that last well-placed zinger, he stalked away, cronies trailing after him.

Zabini sent an equally potent glare at Cecilia. "I hope you know this is all your fault. Deal with it, or he will."

I raised my eyebrows and commented, "Forgive me if I'm not too frightened by your ridiculous posturing. The idea of anyone 'dealing with me' is more comical than anything."

"Come on, Rose." Cecilia latched onto my arm, pulling me back towards her dorm. Startled by the sudden tugging, I stumbled, clutching at her arm for balance before I recovered. There were a few scattered snickers, but they ceased as soon as I threw a cold look their way.

As soon as we were back up in the dorm, Cecilia whirled on me, suspicion of betrayal ridding her of her usual elegance. "Was that it, Rose? Was your whole point in coming here to prank Scorp?"

I sighed, delicately setting myself down on Nicola's bed. "That's just nonsensical. I wouldn't go through all the effort just to break in here. There are much simpler ways." Not the least of which was the Marauder's Map. James had it, but it wouldn't be too hard to 'borrow'. I leaned my head to my right shoulder. "My feud with Malfoy has absolutely nothing to do with the friendships I've developed with you. It was unspeakably rude for him to drag anyone else into this."

Purity was biting on her lip to lock down her emotions. "I can't believe he said that to me." I glanced sideways at her. Even though she was distressed, she didn't seem about to make any drastic moves like calling off our friendship-deal. Good. I was more concerned about Cecilia... and I needed to be. She was fuming.

"I wasn't aware you had a feud with him. Or are you just being a good little daddy's girl and following in his footsteps?" She was taunting now, trying to get me to rise to the bait and reveal something. Although her words stung, I'd been prepared to face her antagonism. It was easy to ignore, especially since I knew she didn't mean any of it.

Instead, I just gathered my things, prepared to retreat quickly if things went badly. "He picked a fight with me some time ago. It was either strike first or let him think I was cowed. I'm sure you can understand that reasoning." Straightening up, I looked her dead in the eye. "You chose to befriend me. Now you have to choose to trust me as well. I'll see you tomorrow, and we'll talk then."

Better to let them think on it. No one stopped me as I exited the dorms and then the Common Room, ducking into a nearby broom closet to change my attire before continuing towards Ravenclaw. Of course, it was too much to ask for an easy walk back.

Just as I was taking the stairs up out of the dungeon, my shoelace untied and slipped me up. Anyone with more grace might've kept their feet, but I was not among them. I tripped backwards, falling on my rear down the seven stairs I'd hiked up. Rubbing my elbow as it began to bleed from hitting the hard stone, I examined my shoe and was unsurprised to see that my laces had been replaced with Zonko's Trippin' Shoelaces, guaranteed to make anyone fall on their face. Flipping the white tie over, I glared at the letter S that had been inked on. So the whole confrontation had been a ruse to get to my shoes. Very good.

A bloody grin lit up my face. I'd met a player worth playing with.

Monday morning breakfast with Sarhensi proved interesting. Now that I knew she'd authorized the Polyjuice Potion exploit, I saw her in a whole different light.

"So, the student black market, huh?" I questioned while munching on a muffin. My eyes flickered over the lovely angles of her face, waiting for a hint.

She smiled secretively down at her meal. "It's a time honored tradition, you know. But I'm not a seller, if that's what you mean. I did check their purchase though. Rarely are such things safe."

"Hmmm..." I kept casual, chewing slowly. I did need to find out about this. "Why doesn't the school shut it down, if it can be unsafe?"

"Can't." It was a simple answer, followed with a swallow of tea. Her eyes smiled at me over the patterned cup. "The leader of the black market keeps things too secret for the Headmistress to do anything about the whole operation. He protects his dealers and covers their movements in exchange for share of the profit. And no one knows who he, or she, is. The position shifts often enough that by the time the faculty gets a lead, its useless."

I nodded, considering it. I'd never heard about this from my cousins, parents, uncles, or aunts, but I doubted they were involved as anything more than buyers, if that. While rules weren't something they really bothered with, they wouldn't have the turn of mind necessary to deal with this level of illegality. Unlicensed Polyjuice Potion was a big thing. No, we were looking at someone with a much more pliant mind. Which narrowed it down to two houses, most likely. Another challenge.

A light laugh jerked me out of my thoughts. Sarhensi's silvery hair trembled as she shook her head. "I know what you're thinking. Why don't you focus on adjusting to your first year at Hogwarts before you hunt down the ringleader of an infamous black market?"

I propped my chin on my hand. "But that'd be boring, Professor. And you know how I detest boredom," I drawled, hoping to charm my way out of the conversation. Sure enough, she laughed and left the topic alone.

"I trust your evening with the Slytherin girls went well?" Sometimes I thought her lips were constantly lifted in amusement. I wasn't sure exactly how much gossip had been passed around the school already, but I knew she wouldn't be asking without a specific intent to learn something. If she had such an intent, she'd likely already gathered a certain amount of information. Better to ferret out what she'd already gleaned and work from there.

Shrugging, I leaned back. "I don't know. Depends on who you ask, I guess."

"And if I was asking you?" Fun. She'd moved the verbal equivalent of a rook. I readied my knight.

"I suppose I'd say it proved... entertaining." There. See what she did with that.

"Oh really? Do tell me more. How so?" Drat. She'd evaded my first trap. Time to try something at the next level.

"It was certainly a chance to observe different dynamics in people." I tented my fingers. As soon as I knew her motive, I could be open with her, but before that...

She seemed to understand where I was coming from, for when she smiled next, it was slightly less mischievous. "Rose dear, I simply want to know about what is going on in your life. I do admit that I've heard you and Mr. Malfoy had a little tiff, but I didn't ask you here for idle gossip about such a thing. Just out of the hope that you might trust me enough to confide in me."

Despite her kind words, I felt no qualms about my suspicion. It was natural for me to feel, after all. Still, I smiled and made my apologizes. "'Fraid that I'm bound to lean towards believing everyone has an ulterior motive."

"So I've noticed." Her fingers fluttered over the napkin in her lap, smoothing it down. "What did happen between yourself and Mr. Malfoy?"

I plucked at my pleated school skirt. "A declaration of war, I suppose. Its nothing significant. Just one thing that hasn't changed with this generation versus the last." The clock hanging over door ticked another minute gone. "I should get going. I'm sure you have lessons to set up and such."

A grin lit her face. "You're just trying to evade my questions, Miss Rose. But I'll let you off the hook for now. I'll see you in Potions."

"Yes Professor," I let myself out, trying not to make it too obvious I was hurrying. She was wrong in one way; I wasn't running from her questions. But I was not about to let Malfoy get away with the shoelaces without retaliating. I had to act fast, when he wasn't expecting it, when he wasn't as alert and quick. In other words, the morning.

My father would be proud of this, at least, I reflected. I would never get too chummy with the 'Malfoy boy'.

Unsurprisingly, I was the first person in the Great Hall. It was still too early for most people to drag themselves out of bed. Which made it too simple to pull out a forbidden Charms book and get to work on the tapestries.

A series of slow, dragging footsteps alerted me to the approaching figure. I immediately scrambled to seat myself at the nearest table and pretend to nap. The footsteps stopped as they entered the Hall, no doubt surveying my work.

"Hmmm... Good." I recognized that dreamy voice and relaxed my acting, stretching and getting up. Sure enough, I was greeted by shaggy blonde hair and glazed green eyes.

"Hey Fabian," I greeted the laconic member of my House Quidditch team. "What're you doing up so early?"

He hummed lazily, ignoring my question as his eyes traced my work. "Why?" He tapped the tapestry I'd charmed to look like Malfoy wearing the garb of cherub. " 'S okay. Could be better."

Observing my work, I had to agree. I'd been lazy, not wanting to delve too far into Malfoy's psyche to find out what would really sting. It would be embarrassing, true, but it was a tad immature. I tilted my head critically. "What would you suggest?"

"This." He placed a small cube of pink candy in my hand.

Scoffing, I stared at it. "A Weasley Whirly? Isn't that a forbidden substance here?" He replied with a jerky nod and I frowned. "How'd you get it?"

He gave me a look and I realized behind the glaze, his green eyes were quite shrewd. "You know," he stated and I did.

"You're the leader of the student black market?" I'd meant for it to be a statement, but my uncertainty came out at the end of the sentence. One look at his face confirmed my suspicions. I thought hard, examining the candy he'd handed to me. Why would he tell me this particular secret. "No one else knows?"

Propping himself up on the wall, he nodded. "Just you." His rings caught my eye as he pushed the hair away from his face. "Confused?"

I was adjusting to his choppy way of speaking. "Yes." There was no point in mind games here. He had something he wanted to tell me and that was that. I just had to wait for him to announce it and all would be clear.

Reaching into his right pocket, he pulled out a wrinkled piece of parchment. He shoved it at me. "To explain. Read. Talk later." And with that, he was ambling away, hands lodged in his pockets. I blinked after him, wondering if I left people that bewildered after I talked to them too.

So, I'd been approached by the leader of the black market. Lovely. So much for keeping my head out of trouble. The least I could do was follow his advice. I reverted the tapestry back to its original form. Now, all I had to do was dunk the Weasley Whirly into Malfoy's drink and it would dissolve to work its magic.

Weasley Whirlys were the ultimate happy pill, essentially. It provided instant energy and a sort of consistent joy. It also led people to do and say things they normally wouldn't if they were in their right minds. I'd had a dose at seven and it had proved to be one of the more humiliating experiences of my life. I'd started testing my drinks after that.

The idea of Malfoy high on Weasley Whirly was an almost frightening one, but it was sure to be entertaining and embarrassing for him. I rolled the pink candy over in my fingers. I might as well. What was there to lose? THere was no way to pin it on me, after all.

While I waited for the rest of the students to arrive, I read over the letter from Fabian. It wasn't much of a letter really. It was a sentence:

'Igraduateinthreeyears.'

Such a statement may not have made sense to some people, but I understood instantly and marveled at the implications.

He wanted me to take over the student black market when he graduated.

Bloody hell.

Getting the Weasley Whirly in his drink was obnoxiously easy. I simply pretended to reach over his goblet for the cinnamon buns and discreetly dropped it in. No one appeared to notice a thing.

I watched gleefully as he took sip after sip. It would begin to affect him roughly five minutes after ingestion, with his weight and size.

"Scorp? You feeling alright?" Zabini questioned his best mate between mouthfuls of scrambled egg. Even when he was shoveling food into his mouth like a pig, he still managed to maintain the elegant manner that dominated his and his sister's movements. I supposed the other girls my age would find him good crush material, but I didn't see the appeal.

Malfoy's face was flushed, the Weasley Whirly already beginning its work. Bewildered, he pressed his hand to his cheek and shot a suspicious look at me, which I innocently ignored. "I actually feel rather... energized." He frowned and I detected the beginnings of his thought processes. "Almost as if..." The lightbulb went off in his head. He glared at me, accusingly, the conflicting feelings inside him making him look constipated. "You drugged me."

I blinked at him. Drat. He'd caught on faster than I'd expected. Perhaps he had more intelligence than I'd calculated. "Don't be silly," I replied. "I've nothing to do with whatever's going on with you."

A lie and he knew it. Palms flat on the table, he pushed to his feet. "I'm going to the Infirmary. Hopefully, I'll be back soon."

"Do you want one of us to accompany you, Scorp?" Purity jumped at the chance to spend a little more time with her true love. Her voice edged on desperate. I rolled my eyes.

A flush came to Malfoy's cheeks. So he did know about her little crush. "I'll be fine, thanks." As the drug took more and more effect, he started dashing away. All went smoothly until he ran into some fourth years by the exit. And when I say 'ran into', I mean literally. He slammed straight into one girl, head cushioned by her ample chest. He jumped away from her with loud, hysterical giggle and raced off.

I swallowed down the snickers rising in me. Cecilia sighed. "You promise you're not hanging out with us just to get at him?"

Wrinkling my nose, I sipped some water. Lemon flavored. Yuck. "You're smarter than that, Ceci. It's just an added benefit."

This caused Zane Zabini to hiss in displeasure and scoot far away from me, but Cecilia seemed content with it. "Well then, I should get the added benefit of a little homework help from a certain intelligent witch."

I raised an eyebrow. "We don't even have any real homework yet."

She winked. "Then you owe me, don't you?"

"And me! I'm the one that'll need the help." Nicola stuffed a pumpkin muffin in her mouth. "We all know I'm the brawn, not the brains. Books are so not for me."

"And especially me," Purity pouted. "Scorpius is mad at me because of you."

I held my hands up in surrender. "I never said I wouldn't. Doesn't mean you get to copy, though."

I could tell that 'Hermione Granger' was on the tip of all of their tongues, but they were tactful enough to keep quiet. Instead, they moved on to chatter about teachers while I ate.

The owls arrived right on time. Just as my father had warned, Pig was carrying a massive missive from my mother.

DearRose,

I miss you so much, dear! I can't believe its only been a week or so. As Hugo says, the house is too loud without you to balance us all out. There is a certain amount of peace that you have taken with you. If only I had the time to homeschool you, then I could have my little voice-of-reason back by my side. But Hogwarts is the most incredible experience and I wouldn't want to deprive you of that. Obviously, your father and I count those six years among the best of our life, even with everything that was going on. Meeting your father and Uncle Harry truly shaped my life, and I hope you can find friends that will do that for you.

(I considered for a moment that perhaps she wouldn't be too pleased to find these friends shaping my life. Ah, well.)

Howisschool?We'veallheardaboutyourSortingandeveryoneisveryproudofyou.RavenclawisagoodHouse,andI'msuretherearemanylovelypeopleinit.Don'tworry,noneofusareupsetyouarenotinGryffindor.Well,perhapsyourfatheralittle,butnottruly.Hejustworriesaboutyoubeingoffalonewithoutanyofustheretotakecareofyou.

(More likely worried about my supposed Slytherin associations. Ah, well.)

I'vesentyousomebookstoreadaboutthemorenotablealumniofyourHouse.TheoneregardingtheGreyLadyisespeciallywellwritten,andI'msurewillbeinterestingtoyouconsideringtherelationofthatwomantoTheWar.Ihopeyouenjoythem.Writetomewhenyoufinishthemandletmeknowwhatyouthink.

(Just like my mother to assume I wouldn't have enough to do, what with starting school and making friends and what-not. Ah, well.)

IwanttoknoweverythingaboutyourHogwartsexperience!Makesureandwriteasmuchasyoucan!

Love, Mum

Well, at least it was a relief from the ranting about my dubious choice of friends. One more letter and I might've burst from bottled anger.

"Huh." Cecilia was examining her own letter. I leaned over and caught a glimpse of an elaborate S in the signature before she folded the crisp parchment and tucked it away. Why did that S look so familiar? "I guess word gets around. My mother was asking about you. She's curious."

The clock stated it was ten 'til eight, plenty of time for the conversation I had in mind. I leaned my head on my hand, noticing the upward tilt of the corners of her lips. "What's your mum like?"

A peaceful smile emerged as she studiously refolded her napkin. "She's tiny. Just about the shortest adult you've ever met. Barely five feet. Long, gold, curly hair and eyes just like ine. She's bright, which is why she's with my father. He used to go through girls like socks, but she intrigued him enough to capture his permanent interest. She's not warm, per se, but at least she's there, you know?"

The content caring that she exuded brought a wistful smile to my face. "Sounds like you're pretty close."

"I suppose." She shrugged. "What's your mum really like? We've all heard the stories, but..."

Any sort of relaxation instantly vanished from my body. I turned away from her to fiddle with the silverware. "The stories are pretty accurate. Except for forgetting the fact that she's a human being with faults besides being a worry-wart and having a temper." Looking at Purity, I nudged her foot under the table. "How about you?"

Pursing her lips, Purity rattled out, "She's snotty, frivolous, easily swayed and too money hungry for her own good. Most of the time, I have to take care of things 'cause she's off socializing. But she loves me and she's not entirely dense, so I'm grateful, I guess. Not all of us are that fortunate."

"Poor Scorp," they all chorused, this clearly being a common phrase.

I snorted. "Why?"

"Because his mum has the brains and sense of a twig," Nicola replied harshly. "That woman is the ultimate example of a spouse who's more of an accessory than a wife."

I filed away the information for future use. "Maybe that's where he got it from." I muttered under my breath, even though I knew it wasn't true. How did a boy as smart as Malfoy put up with such a dense mother? Perhaps this was a method of future humiliation. I dwelled on it as we prepared to exit the Great Hall.

I knew something was wrong when the Goyle twins started snickering as I neared the doorway. Another prank? Perhaps- I heard the creaking of a rope shifting and darted to the side as a rain of cold water hit Purity, soaking her and her uniform.

Sputtering and completely drenched, she resembled a drowned guinea pig. "What the HELL?"

I glanced at the floor, and sure enough, a glowing M marked the tiles. "Malfoy," I told her, anticipation rising with glee. "War has officially been declared."

Down in the infirmary, a high-pitched giggle responded.

Well, what'd you think? Let me know and review! I was quite upset by how few reviews I did get last time. Thanks a lot to those of you who did make the effort and I hope to hear from more of you soon!

Thanks and love you all!