Two weeks later . . . .
Paris. Zanzibar. The South Pacific. Of all the places in all the world, Muggle or wizarding, Rose chose the one guaranteed to hinder romance, limit privacy, and ensure his fantasy of making love on a beach continued to remain a dream for the future.
She chose Cornwall.
Her family had talked for months about gathering at Shell Cottage to camp and enjoy a week's holiday together. Rose thought it was the perfect opportunity for everyone to get used to them being a couple. Scorpius doubted that would happen, but since he'd promised "anyplace" he showed up on Rose's doorstep, rucksack in hand, at the appointed date and time.
Hugo answered the door, a sullen figure in a blaze orange Cannons t-shirt. "Don't see why Teryn can't come along if you're going."
Good afternoon to you, too. "I believe she and Roxanne are minding the shop for your Uncle George this weekend."
"Have you seen her?"
Scorpius raised an eyebrow. Two days prior, Hugo had helped Rose and Scorpius move Teryn into a flat near The Leaky Cauldron.
"Guess it hasn't been that long." Hugo continued to block the doorway. "You never said how you found a place with a safe room for a werewolf that Teryn can afford on a shop assistant's wages. Her father didn't send any money."
"I hired a realtor." That Tracey Nott had facilitated the purchase of Teryn's building as well as his new flat in central London was none of Hugo's concern. Scorpius saw Rose's mum walk into the entry from the lounge, clipboard in hand and called out, "Good afternoon, Mrs. Weasley."
"Good afternoon." Her distracted smile became a frown. "Hugo, don't keep a guest on the doorstep. Let him in and go bring your bag downstairs, please." She checked something off a list and went into the dining room, presumably en route to the kitchen.
Hugo backed into the entry and stumbled over a capacious bag placed next to a mound of luggage. He glared accusingly.
"If I'd cast a trip jinx you'd be on your arse," Scorpius said.
Hugo tromped upstairs.
Before Scorpius could shut the front door, Rose's dad pulled up to the kerb in the family's enchanted Bentley. A window slid down. "Why is the front door open? Are you trying to Coolant Charm the whole world?"
"No, sir." Scorpius closed the door.
Mr. Weasley entered seconds later, wearing sunglasses that gave him the air of an off-duty Auror about to arrest a suspect. He grabbed the handle of a suitcase and tossed a bag to Scorpius. "Help me load the car."
Outside, Mr. Weasley opened the Bentley's storage compartment. "Did you pack a tent?" he asked when Scorpius put his rucksack in with the other luggage.
Scorpius nodded. Stevens had assured him it was top-of-the-line but not ostentatious.
Mr. Weasley lowered his sunglasses to stare Scorpius in the eye. "No matter how big it is, it's a one-man tent. Do I make myself clear?"
"Yes, sir," he said, although, technically, if Rose shared it with him it would still be a one-man tent.
"Don't forget it." Mr. Weasley strode into the house. "Rose! Hugo! Make it snappy. I don't want to end up with a pitch near the cottage." His voice lowered, yet Scorpius heard him clearly. "Someplace ridden with spiders."
Scorpius decided to wait on the pavement beside the Bentley. He heard a clatter and then Rose came out of the house wearing a strapless dress that left a lot of leg on show. He admired the contrast of golden skin and cream-coloured cotton printed with tropical flowers.
She manoeuvred carefully down the steps in high-heeled sandals. "If I twist an ankle I'm going to hex Lily. She made me buy these to match the dress."
"Remind me to thank her."
Mr. and Mrs. Weasley exited the house, followed by Hugo. Mr. Weasley carried Rose's green-striped capacious bag, Mrs. Weasley carried a picnic basket, and Hugo dragged a lumpy black duffle.
"He always brings Quidditch gear," Rose said.
Scorpius opened the car door.
Rose scooted to the middle of the backseat and giggled when he strolled around to the passenger side of the car and climbed in. "Hugo's going to pout. He always sits behind Mum. There's more legroom."
Rose was still laughing when Hugo plopped down beside her and complained that she'd let her boyfriend take the best spot.
Mrs. Weasley twisted in her seat to give Hugo a reproving look.
"Yeah, yeah," he said. "He's our guest."
Mr. Weasley started the Bentley and turned on the radio. Wizard rock made the silence less awkward as they zoomed through traffic, magically squeezing between and around slower vehicles. When they reached the onramp to the M4, Mr. Weasley hit the Invisibility Booster and the Bentley gained speed and altitude, flying to Cornwall as the crow flies.
Scorpius reached for Rose's hand and closed around her wrist instead. Something rasped against his skin. "Are you wearing a bracelet?"
"Hair band. Dad yelled and I forgot to put my hair in a ponytail."
He used their entwined fingers as a starting point and trailed his free hand up her arm. "Allow me."
"How can you fix her hair? You can't see her," Hugo said.
"In my mind I can."
Rose turned slightly; her hip pressed Scorpius' thigh. He gathered her hair in one hand and bent to kiss the curve of her left shoulder.
Rose sighed. "Other side."
"I'm going to be carsick," Hugo muttered.
Scorpius kissed her right shoulder and felt the hair band tap his nose.
"That's not what I meant," Rose whispered.
He imagined the blush on her cheeks as he swept her hair into a ponytail. "Isn't it?"
"Merlin's twisted knickers," Hugo said.
The music volume suddenly lowered.
"What was that?" Mr. Weasley asked.
Hugo said, "Are we there yet?"
By the time they reached Shell Cottage, Scorpius decided riding in an enchanted car was the equivalent of lounging on a flying sofa. Not that sitting next to Rose with a bird's eye view of the countryside lacked charm, but if he ever bought a Muggle vehicle it would be something faster and sleeker, like a flying motorbike.
"Look, Fleur conjured up a lawn," Mrs. Weasley said. "That's a relief. There's nothing worse than sand in a tent."
"Except spiders in a tent," Mr. Weasley replied.
Scorpius leaned forward to see the cottage. "Interesting architecture."
"Instead of stone, the walls are oyster shells," Rose said, "and large scallop shells shed water far better than ordinary roofing tiles."
Mr. Weasley turned off the Invisibility Booster, so Scorpius could see Rose's affection for the cottage in her eyes as well as hear it in her voice. "I'm not questioning the builder's logic," he said.
"What?" Rose asked.
"Nothing." He smirked at Scorpius. "Don't ask me to nominate you for a hairdressing award."
Rose lifted a hand to feel the ponytail that was high but off-centre.
"I'll do it again," Scorpius said.
"No. It's fine. Can't be improved." Hugo jumped out of the car as soon as the Bentley landed on a stretch of golden sand.
On the lawn next to the cottage, five tents formed an almost complete circle.
"Harry and Ginny saved us a spot next to theirs," Rose's mum said. "Away from the house."
"Ace. Let's make camp before the sun goes down." Rose's dad used a Locomotor spell to send their baggage floating.
Scorpius grabbed his rucksack when it drifted by. "Where do I set up my tent?"
Rose's dad said, "In the centre."
The family pouring out of the tents and the house to greet them diverted attention and allowed Scorpius a moment to regain composure. He would prefer a pitch on a sand dune over the middle of the camp site.
"Come on," Rose said. "It doesn't have to be dead centre."
Scorpius pretended not to notice the stares as he and Rose ambled across the lawn. Lucy and Lysander raced over to say hello. They had pink cheeks and wind-tousled hair.
"Where are your toads?" he asked them.
"Holidaying in Granddad's pond," Lucy said. "They don't like salt water."
Lysander said, "And the crabs in the rock pools might pinch them."
"You'll come rock pooling with us, won't you?" Lucy asked. She looked at him sorrowfully. "Our mums and dads don't want to."
"They know low tide is at the crack of dawn." Rose tickled her cousin. "You've been taking conniving lessons from Lily, haven't you?"
"Did I hear my name taken in vain?" Lily walked up and hugged Rose. She grinned at Scorpius. "I love what you've done with Rose's hair. What kind of tent did you bring? Ours is the khaki boring one that looks like a Muggle Eurotent. I bet yours is swish."
"All I know is it expands from a box," Scorpius said. He looked at Rose. "Tell me where to set it up."
She led him to a spot near her family's tent. "Where's Albus?" she asked Lily.
"Saying goodbye to the girlfriend. Merry's going to play cello with her dad on the Weird Sisters' summer tour, leaving tomorrow."
Scorpius dug into his rucksack and pulled out a small storage box. He set it on the ground and pointed his wand at the lid. "Aperio!"
The box opened and white canvas sprang upward and outward to form a tent shaped like an enormous white trumpet flower placed on a gigantic fairy cake.
"Ruddy hell," someone said.
Scorpius' thought exactly. He opened the French doors. "Who wants a tour?"
Lily tugged Rose inside. Lucy and Lysander dashed after them. Scorpius took one look at the pale wood floors and white furnishings accented with blue and realised Grandmother Narcissa had "helped" Stevens choose the tent.
In the bedroom, Lily cried, "Mossie nets! Chandeliers! This isn't camping, it's glamping. I'm horridly jealous."
"I think it's lovely," Lucy said.
Rose sat on the four poster bed. "Would we have had one of these in Lapland?"
If they'd gone on a simple romantic holiday instead of one that changed their lives? "A Mongolian tent, I should think."
"It probably wouldn't have had a hammock."
Rose ran a hand over the duvet. "I'm glad we went to the island."
"So am I."
Lily put her arms around Lucy and Lysander. "All right, cousin dears, time to help me search for the chocolate Aunt Fleur hides in a kitchen cupboard."
Once he was alone with Rose, Scorpius said, "I wouldn't change the time we spent together, trade the good that came from what happened, but if I could do one thing over, I wouldn't run after Edgar. I'd stay with you."
Only a rising murmur of voices prevented him from kissing her.
One of the voices yelled out, "Scorpius? It's Dominique. Maman and the aunts want to see your tent. Is all the family welcome to have a tour?"
He asked Rose, "Do you want to stay here or take a walk?"
Scorpius used a voice projection charm to tell the women to come in.
Rose slipped her arm through his. "Hold on."
Magic squeezed the air out of his lungs, pulled him into darkness, and then thrust him onto a beach. "Where are we?"
"Somewhere we can enjoy the sunset without interruption."
Scorpius glanced at the terra cotta and pink sky before concentrating on what he truly enjoyed: kissing Rose. The cool breeze gave him an excuse to pull her closer and keep her warm by caressing her bared skin.
The sun had almost slipped beneath the horizon when they returned to the cottage. Enchanted torches and fairy lights strung from one tent to another illuminated picnic tables grouped together within the grassy circle.
Lily waved for them to join her, Hugo, Lucy, and the Scamander brothers at a table near Scorpius' tent.
After a dinner of chicken and herb roasted potatoes, everyone packed into the kitchen to make coffee, chat, and clear away the dishes. Scorpius, overwhelmed by the family togetherness, retreated to the dining room to cast dry cleaning spells on the linen serviettes.
Halfway through the stack, Rose's Aunt Luna drifted into the room. "You were awfully brave to leave the protection of the group," she said. "Pixies abducted a witch in Cornwall once. Dymphna Furmage was her name."
"When was this?"
"The seventeenth century," she said as if it had happened the week before.
Scorpius doubted that pixies got the urge to abduct a witch or wizard every four hundred years like clockwork. "I'll remember," he said.
"Yes, I've heard that about you." Aunt Luna meandered out of the room.
Scorpius finished cleaning the serviettes and went to the kitchen to find Rose.
Granny Weasley said, "Hugo, Fred, and Teddy carried her off to the lounge."
"She probably bribed them to get out of polishing the cutlery," Lily said. She tossed a fork onto a velvet-lined tray. "Wish I'd thought of it."
In the lounge, Rose sat on the sofa surrounded by her brother, male cousins, honorary cousins, and soon-to-be cousin by marriage. Lupin, sprawled next to Rose, was the first to notice Scorpius. "We were discussing a few of the week's activities. Rock climbing, cliff jumping, surfing, kayaking, and gorge walking."
"Sounds athletic," Scorpius said. "Does everyone participate?"
"Most of us," Lupin said. "You in?"
"I'll try to keep up."
Hugo said, "Told you he wouldn't want to laze around building sandcastles, Rosie."
"So you did."
Scorpius asked dryly, "Does that mean there's no sandcastle competition?"
Rose said, "There's always a sandcastle competition, and a kite flying competition, and family Quidditch matches, and family charades."
"Never a dull moment," Lupin said.
Rose stood up. "I'm really tired. I'm going to turn in early."
Scorpius said, "I'll walk you to your tent."
"Are you going to come back and play Exploding Snap with us?" Lysander asked.
"Another time. I need to rest up for all the adventure ahead."
They walked through the empty kitchen and said goodnight to her parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles chatting around the fire pit on the patio. As they strode across the torch lit lawn, Rose pointed to a tent that glowed brightly with illumination orbs. "Dominique and Victoire volunteered to give all the girls French manicures."
"Nice of them."
"Yes, it is. They're all nice—even when they're overprotective and managing. Everyone's nice except me." She halted in the shadows next to his tent. "I went to the apothecary for birth control potion a week ago. I should have told you. I shouldn't have waited to prove to my family how wonderful you are. It shouldn't matter what they think. I love you, and if they don't approve, that's too bloody damn bad."
The tip of her wand glowed, revealing the tears on her cheeks. "I'm sorry I made you come to Cornwall when you don't want to be here, kayaking, and cliff jumping, and sleeping in separate tents."
His heart thudded against his chest. "What are you saying?"
"I want to be with you. Anyplace you want to go."
"Tonight?" His mind raced with the possibilities. "I can Apparate us to London."
"I'll get my bag and leave a note."
One hour later . . . .
The tent fit into the lounge of his empty penthouse flat with room to spare.
"White canvas, dark wood floors. You could start a design trend."
Rose's voice sounded nervous. Scorpius felt a bit tense, himself, with anticipation and all that. He said, "I prefer standard furniture, although I'm in no hurry to shop."
"The view's amazing."
She could see the city lights better if she moved further into the lounge. Scorpius searched for a way to put her at ease. "You should see the skylight in my en suite bath. It isn't the same view as our outdoor shower, but—"
"Show me." The breathy demand in Rose's voice had nothing to do with nervousness.
A smile spread across his face. "Now?"
Her eyes sparkled like starlight. "Now."
A/N: Chapter fourteen is where Rose had her "daydream" about Scorpius' shower, and although her mother would be skeptical about it being a vision, I leave it to readers to decide whether it was Sight or serendipity. (:
Thanks to everyone who has encouraged me through all the months of this story. A Chocolate Frog, alix33, BellaCullen1789, Calenmarwen, Carnivalgirl, cinroc, Il'Diko, Itsa Mia, Loslote, Marina Del Pilar, MollyCoddles, Moontime, Nocturna Mae, roni2010, Rose of the West, stark40763, tambrathegreat, Valmarian, and VandyFNP.
*ETA on July 17, 2012* I've taken time off from fan fiction to write original stories, but with The Dark Knight Rises due to release in a few days, I'm going to do my best to have the first chapter of The Green Knight Rises, post on (or before) that date. Wish me luck!