Christmas. His birthday. School holidays. Scorpius Malfoy had never looked forward to anything the way he looked forward to leaving Hogwarts. He'd dreamed about it and made plans so intensively, rumours spread that he was actually swotting for N.E.W.T.s. His friends—the ones who deluded themselves Rose Weasley's "spell" over him would fade once they became lovers—believed he intended to avoid his grandfather by apprenticing to a Potions Master in Wales shortly after returning to London. Scorpius didn't correct anyone's mistaken impression. They helped conceal his true plans.
He had arranged a holiday.
Somewhere he and Rose could be alone. No friends. No family. Nothing to do but be together.
Scorpius resisted the urge to mark the days off his calendar, but was unable to keep from holding a private countdown each evening when he and Rose finished their patrol. He gave her a kiss for each day that remained, making up for the lack of quantity with increased intensity. Imagination gave him loads of ideas that he supplemented with educational reading in the library. Several texts were in the Restricted Section, which made him grateful for his friendship with Irma Filch's son Phineas and his eidetic memory. The books weren't the kind students were allowed to check out.
The escalating "intensity" never overreached the bounds of student conduct, yet as time went on the thought of where their kisses were leading heightened sensuality to an uncomfortable level—not that Scorpius complained.
Two days before N.E.W.T.s, Rose halted in front of Bertha's statue. She raked a hand through long auburn hair that looked dark red in the torchlight. "Maybe we should just say goodnight and go back to our Houses."
"If that's what you want."
Her eyes flashed with blue fire. "Of course it isn't. But it's hard to revise when my brain's melted."
Nice to know he wasn't the only one on edge. "Cold showers work for me."
"The water is from the mountains. It's glacial!"
"That's why it works."
Her lips curved. "Kiss me and I'll try it."
The next day, Rose said the cold shower worked brilliantly, and on the morning of the first exam, she glowed with confidence.
"Aren't you going to follow and give her a kiss for good luck?" Orna Bletchley asked when he stopped eating to watch Rose leave the hall. She'd hounded Scorpius for most of seventh year, yet her tone was more curious than sarcastic. It was a mark of her contentment with her new boyfriend, Guy Willoughby.
Scorpius sliced off a bite of melon wrapped in prosciutto. "She doesn't need luck."
Next to Scorpius, his best mate Edgar Goyle set an empty cup down beside his cleared plate. "What about you? Word's gone round you've been revising like a fiend."
"Rumour wasn't specific."
Scorpius curled his lip. "Hufflepuffs must have started it. They lack imagination."
Edgar sniggered. "Ravenclaws would've called you an elemental fiend."
"A Dark one," Orna said.
"The best kind." Guy lifted his goblet.
On the other side of Guy, Nathanial Nott scratched his bony chin. "What about Gryffindors?"
"They rank slightly above Hufflepuffs," Guy said.
Over Orna's piercing laughter, Nathanial said, "No, what would they call Scorpius?"
"Depends on the Gryffindor," Edgar said.
Scorpius took a last bite and rose from the table.
In the entry, he heard, "Psst! Malfoy! Over here!"
Lily Potter's voice came from the direction of the room first-years waited in to be Sorted. Scorpius entered and found a wand pointed at his throat.
"Tell me the truth," Lily said. "Have you been swotting for N.E.W.T.s?"
She lowered her wand. "Are you planning to sweep my cousin away someplace wildly romantic when you leave Hogwarts?"
"Yes!" Lily's brown eyes sparkled. "I'm glad I don't have to hex you."
"So am I."
A few hours later, Scorpius earned a perfect score on his Transfiguration N.E.W.T. and exited to find Albus Potter waiting. "I can't give you tips," Scorpius said. "It isn't allowed."
Albus straightened from propping up the wall. "We need to talk."
They left the corridor and went downstairs. Albus led the way to a side courtyard where he said, "Rose tells me you're keeping your plans a secret. I need to know what they are."
"You? Or your aunt and uncle?"
"Both. And my parents," Albus said wryly. "Only my sister is content that you've picked someplace romantic."
"That isn't enough for everyone else?"
"It might be," Albus said, "If we knew it was somewhere safe and, erm, had protection." His green gaze was apologetic. "You've only been with Rose since Easter holiday. That isn't long enough for the family to give you their complete trust."
"She'll be protected." He was taking care of the travel arrangements, Rose, the birth control potion.
Albus checked his watch. "Right, well, I don't want to keep the examiners waiting."
"If you want to impress, make whatever they ask you to conjure the biggest you can in as many multiples possible." Scorpius shrugged. "That isn't a tip, just an observation."
"A helpful one. Thanks."
That evening, Rose shared the triumphs of her day and then gave Scorpius a mock glare. "You breezed through every test, didn't you? No stress, no worries."
He held up his hand with the back facing her. "Look at my fingernails and say that."
Rose's sympathetic expression quickly faded. "You clipped your nails, you didn't bite them!"
Scorpius's grin became a full out laugh when her fingers poked his sides, ruthlessly tickling. "I admit it," he said, "I'm sorry. Ab imo pectore. From the bottom of my heart." He captured her hands and kissed them. "Have mercy."
"Oh, all right, since you asked nicely."
They held hands during their patrol, and afterward shared long, deep kisses.
On the morning the Hogwarts Express was due to take them to London, Scorpius got up early to meet Rose behind their favourite statue. "We're going to the station, but we're not getting on the train."
"What are we going to do?"
"Use a Portkey."
"I have to tell Lily," she said. "Otherwise Albus and Hugo will stop the train."
"Good idea." He explained that Phineas Filch would owl their parents his letters explaining why they wouldn't be at King's Cross.
Her cheeks flushed pink. "This is really happening."
"Any second thoughts?"
At the station, concealed by a Disillusionment Charm, he felt Rose's hand tremble in his as the Express vanished in the distance. "This way," he whispered, guiding her down the path toward the village. A few metres in, he stopped and became visible. Rose did the same.
Scorpius took the Portkey out of his rucksack. It was a bracelet of braided tin thread and black leather.
"You hold one side, I'll take the other," Scorpius said. Their knuckles rubbed against each other.
"The clasp button, what's it made of?" Rose asked.
He checked his watch. "I'll tell you in few minutes."
"The Portkey's timed, then?"
Before he could answer, the Portkey activated, sweeping them up into a whirlwind of magic.
They landed on a cushion of sand—Scorpius's first hint they were far from the intended destination. The sun's warmth and a tang of salt in the air confirmed it.
Rose's hand still clutched the bracelet. "Where are we?" she asked.
"Not in Lapland." He touched the button. "This is reindeer horn. We're supposed to stay with the tribe that made this, go river rafting, hike a mountain, and sleep in an Ice House the Sami wizards created just for us."
"The Christmas memory you use to cast a Patronus."
"I wanted you to share it." He flung out an arm to encompass the palm-fringed beach and crystalline water. "Not this."
"What do you think happened?"
Scorpius admired her calm. He'd lost his the instant reality sank in. "Grandfather discovered what I was up to and paid the slimy git running the Portkey Office more than I did." He dragged off his rucksack and knelt in the sand.
Rose looked over his shoulder. "Do you have a return Portkey in there?"
"No. Our guide, Lars Balto, was arranging that. I'm looking for the letter Edgar probably hid while I was taking a shower." Lucius Malfoy was too Slytherin not to gloat. After checking the hidden pockets, Scorpius removed a Quidditch Illustrated magazine and shook the pages. An envelope fluttered out.
Scorpius damned his grandfather and broke the seal.
A/N: I'd never watched more than an episode or two of the show Lost, but while sitting in a doctor's office, an Entertainment Weekly magazine with cast members on the cover gave me the idea for the holiday switch. Elemental fiends are from Final Fantasy, and Lars Balto is a mosh of two Sami explorers, Samuel Balto and Lars Monsen. If anyone who reads this hasn't read Our Little Secret, I hope I introduced the characters and plot in a way that makes this fic stand on its own while making you want to read the first story. : )