A/N: I finally finished it!


Seventh Year, Part IV


For the next couple of days, he throws himself into NEWTs revision. It's already March, and his exams start in April, so it's a perfect excuse to not see or talk to anyone for a while.

(And, if he's being honest, to stop himself from bloody thinking about her.)

So Scorpius holes himself up in the Common Room, hiding behind thick stacks of textbooks and scrolls of parchment. He knows he should at least try to reach out to Molly, but somehow he just can't bring himself to do it.

He's sitting in some far corner in the library one day, going over some notes about Hinkypunks, when he feels something poking him in the forehead. He looks up, and it's a floating paper airplane. Peeking out from behind a bookshelf is Molly with her wand out.

"So…" Molly walks over tentatively with her hands in her pockets. "Haven't seen you in a few days."

(He feels like the biggest arsehole in the world.)

Scorpius lets out a giant sigh. "Hey, Mol. I'm really, really sorry. I've just been… caught up."

"Don't tell me — NEWTs?"

"Yeah."

(No.)

"That's alright, just wanted to see how you were doing, is all," Molly slips into the chair opposite, grinning at him. "No pressure."

(Now he feels like the biggest twat in the world.)

"No, no, I should've at least told you, or tried to reach out," he admits, because it's true. Molly deserves at least that.

"Scor, seriously. It's fine," she reaches over and puts her hand over his. "I just missed you."

Guilt floods him in waves. He gives Molly's hand a squeeze. "I'm horrible. Let me make it up to you somehow."

"Well," she perks up. "You've got your birthday coming up. You're turning eighteen soon, imagine that."

He's confused for a second, until he realises that she's right. "Merlin, that totally slipped my mind."

She taps her temple. "Someone's losing it a bit, I think. Must be old age. I'm dating a senior."

"Oh? You gonna dump me for some sweet young thing?"

"I just might, you know. I've got options. Long line of men are queuing up outside my door," she winks.

(He doesn't doubt it — he knows Molly's a catch.)

"As if — I'm the best you're ever going to get," he says, smiling, and he realises he does miss the ease that comes with being with Molly. It's always so simple and effortless.

She rolls her eyes playfully. "I'll see if I can come up with some birthday surprise for you, alright?"

"Please — it's just a stupid birthday, it's no big deal, really."

"Are you kidding? You're turning eighteen! Well-deserving of some kind of celebration."

"Nothing too elaborate, please," the thought of having to attend some crazy house party kind of makes him nauseous.

"Well, there's that boozy kegger I planned out the window. Joking!" she quickly adds, when his face falls in horror. "It'll be something small, I promise."

He looks at her and is overcome with guilt again.

(Honestly? He thinks she deserves someone better.)

-.-.-

He's in the middle of practicing Summoning Spells in an empty classroom when he realises that it's his day to feed Rob the Moke. And he's totally forgotten.

"Fuck fuck fuck…" he curses under his breath, slamming a book shut. It's just before dinner, but he's supposed to feed Rob once every morning. If he fucks this assignment up, Rose will never let him forget it.

He gets down to the Hogwarts grounds at lightning speed, making a beeline for Hagrid's hut. He's a couple of feet away when he realises that Rose is standing by their crate, slipping Rob some wood chips. His heart sinks.

(Shit.)

"Hey," he says, trying to catch his breath. "Sorry, Weasley, I totally blanked today."

She looks up, flustered. "Oh! Scorpius. No no, it's alright, I usually — I usually do a check in every evening, anyway…" she trails off, looking embarrassed. Scorpius is kind of puzzled, and then he suddenly clocks.

"Wait. Are you telling me… you check in every evening, even on my days? Just to make sure I've done my part of the assignment?"

(He almost wants to laugh, it's such a Classic Rose move.)

"I'm sorry!" she throws her hands up in the air. "Look, you've known me for years, please don't make me feel bad for being me."

Scorpius chuckles, shaking his head. "Okay, okay. I won't. I hope Rob's up to par? Am I being a good partner?"

She lifts up the crate lid to show him. Rob blinks its red eyes back at them, nibbling on a wood chip. "He's looking quite healthy, I think. Good job, you passed the test."

He feigns wiping sweat off his brow. "Merlin, I've never been kept on my toes like this before. You saw the way I ran down here, yeah? I hope that's proof enough that I'm committed to this, Weasley."

She laughs out loud (he really likes hearing that) and says, "Thanks Scorpius. I'm very lucky."

Something about the way she says the last sentence makes him pause for a bit. She clears her throat and averts her eyes.

"Weasley! Malfoy!" he hears Professor Hagrid come out of his hut. "I thought I heard yer voices. How's the Moke doing, eh?"

"Good, Professor," Rose nods, and she looks relieved at the distraction. "You want to have a look?"

Professor Hagrid peers over their crate and nods approvingly. "Bless 'is little heart, he looks fine and healthy. Reckon that's an O fer the both you!"

Rose looks delighted. "Thank you, Professor!"

"The two of yer make a good team, yer know that?"

"I think we do, Professor," Scorpius says, shooting Rose a quick grin. His heart twists fiercely at the look on her face — it's something like a cross between surprise and sadness.

"Good on yer. Best be headin' to dinner now."

They walk together quietly, trudging through the darkening grounds. He looks over occasionally, but he can barely make out her features in the fading light. Rose is the first to break the silence. "You really think we make a good team?"

"Yeah, I think so. You?"

She smiles hesitantly. "I think so, too."

They stroll along without speaking for a bit longer, but this time the silence feels a lot less tense.

"How's your revision going?" Scorpius asks, genuinely curious.

She lets out a breath. "Stressful. Exhausting. Draining. But I'm certain it's the same for you too."

"Hasn't been easy, that's for sure."

"It's my fifth time going over the entire syllabus, but I still don't feel close to being ready yet," she says, anxious. "For some reason, I keep feeling like I'm missing something. Some crucial bit of information I've overlooked. It's driving me up the wall."

They're coming up to the castle now, and in the distance he can see other students heading towards the Great Hall.

"Have you tried revising with someone else?" he suggests.

"No," she frowns. "Do you really think it'll help?"

"You never know."

"I might try it out. Maybe get someone to quiz me, or something," her face is thrown into sharp relief when she steps into the illuminated castle. "I'll see you around, Scorpius," she shoots him a half-smile as she turns to walk away. "Enjoy your dinner."

"You too," he says, so quietly he's not sure if she hears. She's already a few feet away from him when he gets a really, really bad idea. He knows he shouldn't — god knows he shouldn't — but he blurts it out before he can stop himself. "Want to go over some Astronomy notes together?"

Her head jerks around in surprise, and her eyes are wide.

(He doesn't realise how nervously he's anticipating her answer until he feels his heart pounding.)

"That would be nice," Rose answers, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. There's a strange look on her face, a look that he can't quite decipher.

"Cool, I'll see you in the library tomorrow at noon?" he says, trying to sound casual.

She nods wordlessly, and gives him a grin so genuine that he can't help but return it. "I'll see you," she says, and then she disappears into the Great Hall.

(God, he's so fucked.)

-.-.-

She's already there by the time he arrives, curled up in her corner of the library, poring over some scrolls of parchment. He just kind of stands there for a moment, looking at her, thinking you can still turn back now, Scorpius. If you think of yourself as a decent person, you'd turn and walk away right now

"Scorpius?" she calls him out of his reverie, and he pushes those thoughts out of his head.

(You're just friends. You're just friends.)

"So, what are we doing today?" Scorpius sits in the armchair opposite, putting down stacks of his own notes.

"We're doing Astronomy, right? Let me see your charts."

Scorpius unfurls his star chart on Jupiter's moons. He's actually pretty proud of this one — he thinks it's one of his better works.

Rose takes one look and tsks. "You've got Ganymede in the wrong orbit."

He grabs his chart. "What? You're kidding me."

"And Callisto is too big."

"I spent two bloody hours on this!"

Rose giggles at his outraged expression. "Here — let me help you."

She spends the next twenty minutes going over his chart in minute detail, and it kind of just feels like they're falling right back into their old routine again. It's so quick it almost feels jarring, like two magnets snapping into place. Something about sitting in the library with Rose feels comforting and familiar, and he doesn't even realise how much time has passed until Madam Pince comes over to tell them she's closing up in ten minutes.

"Same time, same place?" Rose asks, before Scorpius can ask the same question.

(Say no.)

"Same time, same place," he hears himself saying.

(Yeah, he's probably going to hell for this.)

-.-.-

He spends every day next week in the library with Rose. They cover Arithmancy, Defense Against The Dark Arts, and Care of Magical Creatures, then move on to History of Magic. He quizzes her on the Great Gargoyle Strike of 1911, and she makes him practice his Disarming jinx.

When he's not revising with her, he's constantly stewing in guilt and self-loathing. He still makes every effort to avoid other people. But when he's with Rose, all of that kind of melts away, and it's like all he can focus on is her. He's enjoying his time with her too much to call the sessions off, and he hates himself for it.

Well, we're just studying, he tries to tell himself. Or, I'm just trying to help her out. Sometimes he even thinks, I just want to get good grades. But he knows all of that isn't true in the slightest. Not when his heart starts pounding whenever he comes in and sees her in her armchair, or when he finds himself glancing at her surreptitiously every few minutes over the top of his books.

The realisation that he's past the point of no return doesn't come immediately — rather, it's something in the back of his mind that keeps growing the more time he spends with Rose.

She's going through some Herbology notes with him when he's forced to confront the fact that he simply can't ignore it anymore. Something about the way her coppery hair falls forward when she's bent over his scrolls, scribbling out some revisions, makes his breath catch in his throat.

"This is an easier way of labelling a Shrivelfig's anatomy," she explains, pointing with her quill. She looks at him and smiles. "I think you'll like this better."

He nods, looking at her warm brown eyes. "Thanks, Weasley."

(Yup, he's totally fucking in love with Rose. And he knows what he has to do with Molly now.)

-.-.-

"Happy eighteenth birthday, mate," Albus tosses him a package the next morning when Scorpius gets up from his bed, stretching groggily.

It takes him a second to register the clumsily wrapped present. "It's my birthday?"

"Don't tell me you forgot?" he snorts.

Dazed, Scorpius unwraps his present and picks up the beautiful black leather case. He pushes back his messy white-blond hair, squinting at the gold lettering on its surface. "Broomstick Servicing Kit? Al, you legend. Thanks."

In the back of his mind, he remembers Molly's promise to surprise him with a celebration. He closes his eyes and slumps back into bed, wishing he could just fall back into sleep and never wake up again.

(He's a total piece of shit for forgetting.)

"You alright?" Albus pokes his head above his bed curiously. "You look awful."

For a moment he's tempted to just say something about NEWTs, just to avoid talking about it with Albus, but then Scorpius decides as his best mate of seven years, he probably deserves to know.

"I'm telling Molly we shouldn't see each other anymore today," he mumbles.

"And why is that?" Albus's voice is a little sharp, his protective familial instincts kicking in.

"I'm not pulling a fast one, or anything. It just — it just isn't working out, that's all," he explains weakly.

"I thought it was going fine?"

"It was… but then I realised that it just didn't feel right."

"It's Rose, isn't it?"

Scorpius is taken by surprise. "How—?"

"Seen you two in the library together a couple of times."

"Nothing's happened between us," he says quickly, feeling awful.

Albus sighs, and sits on his bed to face him. "Look, Scor. You're my best mate. I know you're a decent guy, and I know you wouldn't do anything to hurt either of them… but be careful. I just hope you sort your shit out, mate."

(So does he.)

"If it makes you happier… I say go for it."

Albus leaves the room, and Scorpius just lies there for a while, thinking about Molly. He knows what he's going to do — what he has to do — but he finds himself absolutely dreading it. It's just about the worst circumstances he has to work with, considering that she's planned something for his birthday, but he knows it can't wait any longer.

-.-.-

He goes looking for her in the Great Hall during breakfast, ignoring stares from curious onlookers as he walks over to Gryffindor's table. Scorpius finds Molly sitting at the far end, chatting animatedly with a friend. She spots him from the distance, perks up, and waves him over.

"Happy birthday, you!" she greets, looking happy.

"Thanks," he says, fully aware that her friend is gawping. "Hey, can we go somewhere a little more… private?"

Molly blushes a little and her friend nudges her side, winking conspiratorially. She clearly has the wrong idea about what Scorpius is here to do.

(This is excruciating.)

"Sure, let's go," Molly shushes her friend and gets up from the table.

She fills the silence with some school work-related chatter as they make their way towards the Black Lake. It's a gorgeous, warm spring day, which makes him feel about ten times worse.

"So, what did you want to talk about?" Molly asks, setting herself down on a gentle grassy slope. "If you're gonna ask me what I've got planned for today, you're not getting a peep out of me."

He sits down beside her, feeling like he wants to disappear. He takes a deep breath, and forces himself to say it before he chickens out. His words come out in a jumbled mess. "I-think-we-should-stop-seeing-each-other."

Molly's brow knits. "You what?"

"I think we should stop seeing each other," he repeats.

"Oh," she says, and adds nothing else.

"I'm really, really, really sorry, Mol."

(She has no idea how sorry he is.)

She looks out at the lake, silent. He has no clue how she might be feeling now, and a ball of panic begins to rise in his chest.

"You're really cool, and I like you a lot. Honestly, you haven't done anything wrong — you've been nothing but the nicest, loveliest, best person ever. I just — I just don't think this is right for me."

"Wow," Molly lets out a long sigh. "I can't say I'm surprised, really. You've been pretty distant for a while."

He pulls her in for a hug — partly because he doesn't know what to say, and partly because the look on her face is killing him. He knew this was going to be painful, but he didn't anticipate just how gut-wrenching the experience would be. For all the girls that he's dated in the past, he thinks this might be the first time he's ever had to properly break up with someone.

"I'm sorry I'm such a piece of shit. There's definitely going to be other people out there that will treat you better than I did," he murmurs into her hair, rubbing circles on her back. "Line of men queueing up outside your door, right?"

He takes a big chance by attempting a joke, and to his relief Molly lets out a weak laugh.

"Oh yeah, I'm highly sought after, as you know," she says, smiling sadly. Her eyes are dry, so at least there's that.

"I hope you meet someone great. Merlin knows you deserve it, Mol," he says, and he's being fully and completely sincere.

"There goes that birthday celebration I was planning," she muses.

"Really sorry about that too. I thought maybe it would be less awkward if I did this before instead of after that happened."

"True. It's just as well, really," she crosses her arms and shrugs. "It was a pretty stupid surprise, to be honest."

"I'm sure that's not true," he says gently, and the pangs of guilt increase in intensity.

"It really was. I was planning on… well, I was planning on getting you back in the kitchens again for a nice dinner. Except I'd cook the meal instead of the elves. As a throwback to that time we had that romantic candlelit date in there."

(He feels a lump forming in the back of his throat.)

"Well, for what it's worth, that would've been a really nice surprise."

"Not really, I'm pretty shite at cooking. It would have been a disaster."

Despite himself, he snorts out loud. She joins in the laughter briefly, and for a second it kind of feels like they're back to normal.

"I've got Charms soon, I'd better get going," she says quietly, and rests her hand on his for a brief moment. "See you around, Scor."

He gives her one final, lingering hug, and watches her get up to leave. She's only taken a few steps when she turns back around again.

"Is there someone else?"

There's a beat of silence, and then Scorpius admits, "There is."

(He thinks lying would probably be worse.)

She smiles wistfully, and to his alarm he can see some moisture in her eyes. "Well, whoever it is, she's a lucky girl."

Before he can respond, she turns around and heads back towards the castle, leaving him alone by the Black Lake.

He imagines Molly going back to the Great Hall and having to tell her friend what actually happened, and the idea makes him feel sick. But as he sits there alone, watching the surface of the lake waters ripple in the wind, he feels like there's a significant weight off his shoulders. Sure, he's definitely the worst person in the world, but at least that nagging feeling of knowing he's unfairly stringing Molly along has disappeared.

(Honestly? The worst part about this whole thing is losing Molly as a friend.)

-.-.-

News of their breakup travels fast — by the time he gets to the library for his usual revision appointment with Rose, he can feel eyes and whispers following him as he walks through the shelves. It doesn't really bother him — he knows people will think whatever they want to think — so he just ignores them.

When Scorpius sees Rose's face, he immediately knows that she's heard.

"Are you okay?"

"Who told you?" he groans, sitting down in his chair.

"Just some other Gryffindors," she reaches out and holds Scorpius's hand. "Hey. You don't have to revise today, if you're not feeling up to it."

(He doesn't know how to tell Rose that being with her in the library is probably the only thing that can cheer him up.)

"I appreciate it, Weasley," he says, and he really does. "But I'm doing fine, honestly."

"Why did you… why did you break up? You don't have to tell me if you don't want to," she adds the last sentence hastily. "I don't mean to pry."

"It's alright. I just don't think I was right for her. Thought she should be seeing someone else better."

She looks surprised. "Better? What do you mean?"

"I mean, like…" he sighs, unsure of how to say it. "Like she should be seeing someone that likes her as much as she likes him."

"Oh," Rose says slowly, a look of understanding coming over her face. "Oh. I see what you mean."

"Yeah."

"Hearing the news was… unexpected. I always thought you two looked very happy together."

He nods, feeling a little uncomfortable. "We were. I mean, I was. Or at least, I thought I was. But I decided breaking it off would be the best for the both of us."

"I'm sorry about what happened. On your birthday, too."

He's startled. "How do you know it's my birthday?"

She giggles a little. "Albus was asking me what to get you. And on that note…" she bends down and Accios something out of her satchel. "I got you something."

She hands him a small wrapped present, looking almost embarrassed. "I feel like it's a little inappropriate now, considering what just happened to you. But I hope you like it."

Scorpius unwraps the present, overcome with speechless gratitude. A Golden Snitch falls out of the brown paper and into his lap.

"It's the Snitch you caught at your first Quidditch match," she explains, watching his face tentatively. "I had to pull some strings with Madam Saltzman to get it but… she eventually got persuaded."

He picks it up, and the Snitch unfurled its silver wings feebly, as though waking up from a long slumber. Upon his touch, a small line of engraved writing materialises. Happy 18th birthday. From your friend, Rose Weasley.

"Weasley… you really didn't have to. It's a brilliant present. Thank you so much," he reaches over and squeezes her hand, unable to say anything more.

(He's feeling a lot of emotions, none of which he knows how to put into words.)

"It's nothing," she shrugs, trying to hide her pleasure.

"No, really," Scorpius lets go of the Snitch and it starts to zip around their heads, exploring its new environment. "It's… you've definitely made me feel better."

"That's good. Seeing you happy makes me happy," she says, and a blush slowly creeps up her neck when he looks at her.

(Merlin, she has no idea what he's doing to him.)

-.-.-

After that, revising with Rose turns into something akin to slow, arduous torture. Occasionally, Albus or Caitlyn joins their study sessions, but for the most part it's just the two of them. Every brush of her skin against his, every time her eyes flick up to meet his, every flash of exposed thigh under her robes… all of it is absolutely killing him inside. She's so close yet so far — he sits opposite her everyday, but he always feels like he wants to be closer, closer. When she leans back in her chair to crack open a book, he thinks about pulling her into his lap and slipping his hands under her robes.

It's like he's stuck between this limbo of wanting her so bad he can hardly think of anything else, and between wondering if it's the right thing to do. Here he is, barely a week out of a break up with Molly, thinking about dating her cousin. It's awful, and he feels awful, but there's no way to turn it off.

So he just tries to get through the day, willing himself to stay focused on his NEWTs and to not allow his thoughts to stray too far.

(It doesn't work so well, but it's the thought that counts, right?)

-.-.-

Somehow, he miraculously makes it to April without losing his mind, and the one week countdown to his NEWTs begins.

The library starts getting more and more crowded each day, and in a weird way, it's kind of interesting to see the variation in how people are dealing with the insane pressure. Some people are pulling all-nighters in the Common Room. Others walk around with their eyes glued to their notes, muttering spells under their breath. He's even heard of some students resorting to crazy hacks like Know-It-All amulets, or undetectable Remembralls — something that made Rose roll her eyes and shake her head in exasperation.

Tammy Lim from Hufflepuff is the first seventh year to crack, and she cracks in a spectacularly theatrical fashion. In the Great Hall during breakfast, Tammy bursts into hysterical tears and sprints out of the room, screaming bloody murder.

Scorpius and Albus are at the Gryffindor table, having cereal with Caitlyn and Rose, when they witness the display.

"Poor Tammy," Caitlyn says, watching Tammy disappear.

"You know what? I totally get it," Albus says. "That's how I feel inside everyday, to be honest."

"One more week to go, mate," Scorpius claps him on the back. "We're almost there."

"I've never been this stressed in my life," he says, and the dark circles under his eyes back up his claim. "Keep having nightmares of getting a Troll on every paper…"

Rose looks up from her Runes textbook. "I had the same dream last night!"

Caitlyn rolls her eyes, playfully flicking some dry cereal at her. "Come off it — since when have you ever gotten anything less than an O for anything?"

Scorpius is in the middle of carefully making himself a breakfast sandwich. "You'll get straight Os without even trying," he reassures her.

"Don't say that!" Rose cries. "You'll jinx it. Besides, getting complacent would be even worse."

"Stop making us feel bad," Albus says sourly. "One week away, and I still can't remember all twelve uses of dragon's blood…" he suddenly drops his tone and leans in, weirdly conspiratorial. "Speaking of which, have you guys heard this rumour going around about drinking dragon's blood for NEWTs? Apparently it gives you a photographic memory—"

Scorpius already knows how Rose is going to react, but he still finds it fucking hilarious when she lets out a frustrated groan. "How many times do I have to say it? No student has been able to cheat on a NEWTs exam since 1865. It's impossible to get past all the anti-cheating and lying enchantments! Besides, where on earth are you meant to get your hands on dragon's blood?"

Albus deflates glumly. "I was figuring it out. Thought it might be worth a shot."

"There's no shortcut to getting good results, Albus," Rose advises, looking more sympathetic. "Here, let me give you my notes for dragon's blood."

(He realises he's subconsciously looking at Rose with a smile on his face, so he quickly turns back to his breakfast sandwich before anyone notices.)

-.-.-

They're in the library again in their usual corner, going over their books in comfortable silence. It's the night before their first NEWT paper, and the tension in the air is unmistakable. The entire library is filled to the brim with other students, but everyone is deep into their last-minute revision. Scorpius is in the middle of going over his notes on Engorgement Charms when he hears some sniffling. He looks up, and Rose has abandoned her books, choosing instead to curl up in a ball on her armchair.

"Weasley?"

Her head snaps up, and he can see that her cheeks are wet.

(Shit.)

"What's wrong?" he quickly puts down his parchment. "You… you alright?"

He's not gonna lie, crying girls still make him really uncomfortable. But honestly, he's more concerned than anything.

"Sorry," she manages, and rubs her eyes. "I was trying to be quiet," she says, and lets out a shaky laugh.

He kneels on the floor next to her, so he can get closer. "Tell me what's going on."

She lets out a big breath. "I think I'm having a little bit of a panic attack."

"Exams?"

"Yeah."

He wraps his arms around her, trying not to make too much noise. "You should step away from the books for a while. Let's go somewhere. Where do you want to go?"

She bites her lip and two big, fat tears roll down her cheeks. "Where do I want to go?" her breath hitches. "To be perfectly frank, I just want to go home. But that's not possible now, so I'm just being silly."

(A lightbulb goes off in his head.)

"It's totally possible," he says. "Room of Requirement!"

She stares, uncomprehending. "What?"

"You've never heard of the Room of Requirement?"

Rose shakes her head, and Scorpius breaks out in a huge grin. She's going to love this.

"Come on, I'll show you."

-.-.-

They walk silently through the empty hallways, passing by the occasional student. It's nine o' clock, so not quite curfew yet, but it still feels like they're breaking the rules.

When they get to the seventh floor, Scorpius gestures towards a stretch of nondescript brick wall. "This is it!"

"I don't think I understand…" she says slowly.

"We're gonna walk past this bit of wall three times. When we're doing that, I want you to think really hard of home. Trust me," he adds, grinning at Rose's bewildered expression.

"Are you sure exams aren't getting to you too?"

He waves off her question — and on their third lap, sure enough, a door materializes in front of them.

"You open it," he tells her. He's kind of excited, but he's not exactly sure why.

She shoots him another skeptical look, then opens the door. Her eyes widen and she lets out a little gasp.

Scorpius peeks inside too, and sees a small, modest room with sky blue wallpaper. It's meticulously neat and tidy, with a giant bookshelf in the far corner, and a cozy-looking armchair under a lamp. One the walls is plastered with dozens of moving photographs. A four poster bed sits by a bay window, moonlight spilling onto the smooth sheets. It takes a while to register that this must be Rose's bedroom.

She seems lost for words as she takes a few steps in. He follows her, hands tucked into his pockets. He's a little hesitant — this almost feels a bit too personal, a bit too private, like he's not meant to be here.

Rose turns around and he sees that her eyes are brimming with tears again.

"Fuck," he says, heart sinking. "This was supposed to cheer you up—"

"No no no," she hugs him tightly. "This is amazing. This is perfect. It's an exact replica of my bedroom, it's incredible. Thank you. Thank you so much."

(Phew.)

He shuts the door behind them, the sounds of Hogwarts falling away. "Can I — can I look around?"

"Sure," Rose says, looking a little shy.

He goes over to the wall of photographs, and he can't help but smile when he sees a photo of him and Albus among the collection. There's tons of other family pictures, and also some seriously adorable baby photos. She's hung up some Hogwarts achievements and memorabilia on another side of the wall — Prefect badges, examination results slips, Hogwarts letters. On a chest of drawers, he can see a half-open, well-used journal. The books in her bookcase are a mix of magical texts and Muggle stories.

Rose is nervously watching him from across the room, not saying a word.

Scorpius turns around. "Sorry, is this weird for you? Me seeing your room, I mean?"

"A little weird. But in a good way. I like that you're here," and after she says it, she blushes.

He nods, smiling. "It's kinda cool. Being here, I mean. It's very… it's very you."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, like… I like being able to see more of you. A different side of you, not just the Hogwarts you. If that makes sense."

"I think so," she looks around. "It's funny how immediate the effect is — I definitely feel much better."

"Why do you think that is?"

"Well… my room is my sanctuary. It's where I feel safe, I think. I guess I was just feeling a little bit homesick from the stress."

Scorpius can feel something unsaid in the air, something hanging thick in the space between them. Neither of them are acknowledging it, but it's definitely there. He's acutely, painfully aware of the fact that it's just the two of them together in this quiet room. This quiet bedroom.

(There's all sorts of thoughts running through his head now.)

He takes a moment to look at her, standing in the middle of the room with her arms clasped. He can tell she's as nervous as he is, but all he can think about is how beautiful she looks in the soft glow of the moonlight. God, he really wants to kiss her.

(I mean, would it be so bad if he did? There isn't really a reason not to, right?)

He's about to ask her some stupid, inane question to break the unbearable tension, when she quietly takes her shoes and robes off, and slides into her bed.

(His heart starts to pound.)

He goes over to the other side of the bed and looks at her, a question in his eyes. Is this okay?

She nods, blushing wildly, and Scorpius slips in between the sheets.

They're lying on their sides, facing each other. Rose's coppery hair spills onto her pillow, gleaming in the faint light. Their bodies are barely touching — a brush of her calf here, a nudge of her toes there. Yet, somehow this feels like one of the most intimate situations he's ever been in.

"You know, I've never been in a girl's bedroom before," his voice is barely above a whisper, even though it's just the two of them in the room and nobody can possibly overhear them.

"Really?" her brow lifts in surprise.

"Yeah. Thanks for letting me come in. It feels like… it feels like a big deal," Scorpius shifts his body to his right.

(A little bit closer.)

"It is a big deal. I've never had a boy in my room either," Rose admits, and she readjusts her legs.

(Closer still.)

He grins a little playfully. "Whatever would your parents say?"

"They'd be very disapproving."

He raises himself up on his arms, so he's looking over her. His head casts a shadow over her face, but he can still see her eyes. "I hope I don't get you in trouble."

Her legs slip in between his, and a bolt of electric shoots through him.

(It's kind of insane, what she's doing to him. He can't remember the last time he felt like this.)

"I probably will. You might have to make it up to me."

"I've got a few ideas," he murmurs.

He's not sure who leans in first, him or her, but suddenly they're kissing, they're finally kissing, and it's almost a relief to be able to touch her.

(He's been wanting this for so long.)

It starts off slow and tentative, then Rose wraps her arms around his neck and his mind kind of goes blank a little. She tastes so good, so fucking good, and he feels like he can't get enough. He's so hungry for this — before he realises, his hands have slipped under her linen shirt. He hears her let out a little moan when he touches the smooth skin of her waist, and he groans because this? So fucking hot.

She gets on top of him, straddling his lap. The look in her eyes in the soft glow of the moon is driving him crazy. He pulls her face back down and kisses her roughly, his head spinning. He's never felt like this before, never felt like his heart is going to beat out of his chest, like he can barely catch his breath. It's almost intoxicating.

He doesn't know when she undoes her buttons, but when Rose slips her shirt off and pulls back, he takes a second to drink it all in — her hair is messy, her breathing is uneven, and she looks so beautiful he's actually struck dumb for a moment.

(He knows he's staring, and he feels like an idiot.)

"What?" she whispers, suddenly self-conscious.

"Nothing," he swallows, mouth dry. He feels like he's suddenly unable to formulate a coherent sentence. "It's just… wow."

She smiles shyly, and leans forward to give him a deep, long kiss.

And suddenly it feels urgent, feels like he has to feel her skin against his. He takes off his own shirt, and her body feels so soft and warm, so familiar yet new. He manoeuvres Rose under him, propping himself up on his arms. Her legs snake around him to pull him closer, closer, until there isn't an inch of space left between them.

He allows his hands to explore her body, to caress her skin, memorising and committing every inch to memory. Then when he gets to the soft curve of her thighs, Scorpius pulls away from her lips and looks at her with a question in his eyes.

"Is this okay?"

She bites her swollen lips, hesitant.

"We don't have to, you know," he says softly.

"I'm sorry," she covers her face with her hands. "I just don't — I don't think I'm ready just yet."

"Hey. Rose. Really, it's okay," he carefully pries open her hands, so he can give her another kiss on the lips. "Seriously. No big deal."

Her eyes widen. "You called me Rose."

"What?"

"You called me Rose!" she repeats. "I don't think I've ever heard you call me Rose before."

"I can always go back to Weasley…"

"No! Rose is good. Rose is fine," she grins widely. "I like it much, much better."

She looks so cute he has to smile. "Fine. Rose, we don't have to do anything you don't want to do."

(He's kind of disappointed, for sure, and Merlin knows there's nothing he'd love more, but he hates the idea of pressuring her into a decision she's not ready to make.)

"You sure?"

"Positive," he reassures her.

"We can always continue kissing," she suggests, touching his arm in a way that makes his heart race.

"I think I can work with that," he grins, covering his mouth with hers.

-.-.-

Afterwards, they lie together in Rose's bed, limbs intertwined, talking and laughing softly. He's stroking the crown of her head, brushing through strands of her hair, and she's resting her head on his chest. It feels so foreign, to be able to just reach out and touch her, touch her in a way that he's thought about in his head a million times. It's hard to describe, but it feels right, like this is exactly how things are supposed to be.

It's sometime around midnight — way beyond curfew, and the both of them have their first NEWT paper tomorrow — but he doesn't ever feel like leaving the room.

"Should we talk about what just happened?" Rose asks him, voice barely above a whisper.

"If you want," he murmurs into her hair.

"I really like you, you know," Rose says it like she's telling him a secret. Hearing the words makes him feel so fucking happy, it's unbelievable. He feels like he's been wanting to hear it since he was, like, fourteen.

"Since when?"

She shakes her head. "I can't really pinpoint when... maybe sometime last year? It was towards the end of my relationship with Toby."

"I've got you beat, then. I've known since we were like fourteen or fifteen."

She's utterly shocked. "What?"

"Good, that means I hid it well," he laughs.

"I had absolutely no idea."

"To be fair, I didn't know back then either. I was already feeling it, I just didn't know what it was," Scorpius kisses her lightly on her temple.

He can see the gears in her head turning furiously. "So all those times we kissed when we were younger... you actually meant it? I thought you were just doing it to mess me around!"

He grins at her. "Talk about a complicated history, eh?"

"We have a lot to discuss, Scorpius," she jabs him in the chest, almost accusingly.

"I'm an open book," he spreads his arms, then tucks them behind his head. She falls silent, presumably flipping through pages of memories in her head.

He listens to the steady sound of her breathing, and without thinking, he says, "I think I love you."

(Fuck.)

The moment he says it, he knows, he knows it's true, and it's probably been the truth for the past two or three years. It almost feels like a weight off his shoulders to say it out loud, to finally admit to her that this is what he'd been feeling for so damn long. His words hang in the air between them for a few seconds before Rose picks herself up and looks at him.

"You love me?" she says, taken aback.

"Yeah. I mean, I think that's what it is. I've never been in love before," he admits. The expression on Rose's face is starting to make him feel nervous.

"Wow."

(He thinks this might be the first time he's ever seen Rose lost for words.)

"You don't have to say it back," Scorpius says quietly.

"I like you a lot, I know that," she says slowly, choosing her words with care. "And I like what's happening between us."

"And that's enough for me for now."

"Really?"

"Yeah, really. We can take it slow and see where it goes."

"What about — Molly?"

"That part's a little complicated," he admits.

"You two just broke up."

"We're not seeing each other anymore, but... I can understand if you think it's too weird. Or if it's too soon," he says.

She chews on her lip. "You don't still… have feelings for her?"

(Is it bad to say no?)

He shakes his head. "I just want you," he says bluntly, because fuck it. He's rewarded with a quiet, pleased laugh and a lingering kiss that he hungrily savors.

She pulls away after a moment. "I think I just feel a little guilty about it. Especially because we're cousins — even if we're not close."

He nods, feeling a pang of regret. "I know. I get it. But please don't feel guilty — that's my burden to bear. It's not your fault, what happened between us."

Rose nods in understanding, rubbing her thumb in a comforting circle on the back of his neck. "So… what happens now?" she asks.

"I'd like to start seeing you. If that's alright," he says, hesitant.

(He knows for sure he doesn't want this to be the last time this happens.)

For a moment she doesn't say anything, and Scorpius is suddenly terrified she'll say no. But then she starts smiling from ear to ear, and he nearly sags in relief.

"I think that sounds really nice."

-.-.-

He makes it to his Charms NEWT paper the next day with barely five minutes to spare, clutching a piece of toast in his teeth as he sprints towards a line of students silently queueing up outside the Great Hall.

"Scor!" he sees Albus and Caitlyn somewhere in the middle, waving him over.

"Mate, I didn't see you in your bed when you woke up. Merlin, I thought you were going to miss the paper," Albus says.

"We were about to send out a search party," Caitlyn admonishes.

"Sorry, sorry, I just got caught up," even now as he says it, the memory of last night makes him break into a subconscious grin.

Albus eyes him suspiciously. "Where were you?"

"I was… busy?"

"Fess up."

"I was with Rose," he admits, and the way Albus's eyes nearly bug out of his head makes him choke on his toast. Caitlyn's eyes widen, then she smiles in a very knowing, aha-I-knew-it way.

"What the fuck? Rose?" Albus shout-whispers. "What happened?"

At that moment, the doors to the Great Hall open and everyone starts filing inside to their examination desks. Scorpius, Caitlyn, and Albus follow suit.

"I'll tell you later—"

"No, tell me now."

"No time — my desk's all the way there," Scorpius starts making his way over to the far side of the hall.

"I swear Scor, if you make me take this paper before you give me an answer — Scor! Scor!" he whisper-shouts the last word at his back, and Scorpius is still laughing to himself when he sits down at his table. His eyes immediately search around for a head of red hair, and he finds her sitting a few rows ahead, somewhere near the front.

"Your time starts — now!" the examiner declares, and a giant hourglass filled with purple sand materialises at the front of the hall. "You have two hours."

Rose turns around like she can feel him staring at her back, and their eyes meet briefly. She looks almost shy, but she gives him a smile so wide, he can't help but mirror it. She mouths good luck, and turns back.

He takes a deep breath, turns over the first page of his exam paper, and starts writing.

-.-.-

The next week of exams pass in a blur of parchment, ink, and quills. Scorpius does alright with his Transfiguration practical, aces his Defense Against the Dark Arts written paper, and completely flubs Astronomy. At some point, he messes up his Muffliato charm and accidentally removes his examiner's ears — much to the examiner's chagrin.

But, all in all, he thinks he's coming along decently.

(He'd never admit this to anyone, but seeing the back of her head in the exam hall has the really weird effect of helping him calm down and focus better.)

-.-.-

The last Potions paper flies by. Scorpius is literally scribbling the last word on his essay when Professor Slughorn announces that time's up. Scrolls of parchment fly up into the air, and his Anti-Cheating Quill disappears.

And just like that, his NEWTs are finally, blissfully, over. He walks out of the exam hall, feeling kind of dazed, blending into the gaggle of other seventh years that are excitedly filing into the grounds. Scorpius looks around, searching for a certain redhead in the crowd.

"Scor!" he hears Albus yell his name, and Scorpius turns around. He grins from ear to ear when he sees Albus whooping and punching the air with his fist.

"We fucking — made — it!" he hollers, grabbing him around the shoulders.

"I can't believe it," Scorpius says, shaking his head.

"Me neither," Albus lets out another cry of triumph. Scorpius sees Rose in a corner, anxiously looking over her notes.

"Rose!" he calls out.

She looks up, worried. "What did you think about the second essay question about the Sleeping Draught? I wrote down twelve uses instead of six, I wasn't sure how detailed I wanted to go."

Scorpius pulls her into a hug. "I'm sure you did fine," he says, and kisses the top of her head.

"Yeah, I never want to talk about bezoars or lacewing flies again," Albus pulls a face. "Merlin, I feel so good! You know what? it's time to celebrate."

"Honestly, I kind of just want to lie down and never do anything again." Scorpius admits.

They settle for something in between — Albus nicks some bottles of Butterbeer from the kitchen, and they make their way into the sunny grounds. They find Caitlyn along the way, and the four of them spend the rest of the late April afternoon lazing under a shady tree.

He's listening to Albus and Caitlyn jokingly argue about something stupid, when he sees Toby walking a few yards away from them. He's talking to some Ravenclaw seventh years that he doesn't recognise. Scorpius tenses up, acutely aware that Rose is lying down on his chest reading a Muggle story book.

Toby looks up and glances over, expression unreadable. For a second Scorpius groans internally and thinks that he's going to come over, remembering that Albus and Caitlyn are still friends with him. But, to his surprise, Toby just looks away and ignores them.

"Yeah, bog off, tosser," Albus mutters under his breath, glaring at Toby's retreating back.

"Cheers to that," Caitlyn raises her bottle.

"Wait, I thought you lot were still on good terms?"

"Are you kidding? After what he did to you on the Quidditch Pitch?" Caitlyn says incredulously. "No way."

It kind of makes sense, considering he hasn't actually seen them interact for a good couple of weeks now. But honestly, he kind of thought they were still talking and hanging out, just not while Scorpius was around.

"But you — you said you still…" Scorpius trails off, remembering Caitlyn's drunken profession of love for Toby at the start of Seventh Year.

"Oh, you mean still being in love with him?" Caitlyn laughs. "That definitely disappeared after he went nuts on you. Trust me, that's ancient history."

"You should've seen Caitlyn, man. Chewed him out, didn't she? Right in the middle of Transfiguration, too," Albus says, almost proudly, and Caitlyn bows her head in deference. "Wasn't even her lesson — she just marched right in and gave it to him good. Never seen anything like it."

"I would've paid good money to see that!" Rose's eyes are as wide as saucers.

Scorpius is speechless, then he's suddenly filled with a deep, profound gratitude for his friends.

"Thanks, you two. Seriously — means a lot to me."

Albus shrugs. "Not a big loss, to be honest."

Albus and Caitlyn go back to their argument, but Scorpius looks around for Toby again. He's sitting in a circle with the Ravenclaws, talking about something he can't hear.

For a moment, he remembers when Toby was a genuine friend, the good times they had when they were younger. All the lessons, late-night dorm chats, and Quidditch practices.

(Sure, he still thinks Toby's kind of an arsehole, but… maybe if things had turned out differently, he might be sitting with them under this tree right now.)

Then the moment passes, and he goes back to being with Rose, Albus, and Caitlyn. As he looks up at the swaying branches, and listens to the rustle of each turn of Rose's pages, he realises he hasn't felt this happy in a long time.

-.-.-

His last few days at Hogwarts are mostly spent with Rose. They revisit some of their favourite spots for the last time — the Black Lake, the library, the Room of Requirement. There are no more lessons, so they have all the time in the world.

There's a sense of wistfulness as he looks around the familiar stone walls and hallways. He's glad he's finally done with school, but at the same time this was his home for so many years of his life.

"Do you think you'll miss this place?" he asks Rose, as they're quietly nestled in a window alcove in the Astronomy tower. The Quidditch Pitch is in clear view and they're watching several third years play an impromptu end-of-year game from a distance.

"I think so," she nods. "It feels really strange, doesn't it? To be leaving."

"Yeah. It's weird to think that we won't be coming back here again next year."

"What are you going to do for the summer?"

He shrugs. "Might try and get an internship at Gringotts, or get into the Graduate program for Aurors. Who knows? Definitely just going to relax for a bit first, though."

"Don't forget Ted and Vic's wedding — that's next Saturday. I'm a bridesmaid."

(Yeah, he definitely totally forgot about that.)

"I guess I'll be coming round The Burrow again," he sighs. "Just when I thought I could get away from you for a bit—"

"Scorpius!" Rose gently shoves him, half-indignant and half-amused.

"Sometimes I just need some time to myself, you know," he rolls his eyes.

She tilts her head and looks at him, a gentle pink flush slowly creeping up her cheeks. Something glimmers in her eyes, something that makes him catch his breath a little. "If you come a day earlier... I could try and sneak you into my room at night."

(Now there's an offer he can't refuse.)

-.-.-

Before he knows it, he's aboard the Hogwarts Express, watching Hogwarts get smaller and smaller in the distance as they pull away from the station.

(It's hard to admit, but it's making him feel really disgusting and sentimental.)

It's their last ride on the train, and their compartment is fuller than ever. Nearly every single member of the Weasley-Potter clan currently in attendance at Hogwarts is crammed inside, and the small space is filled with excited chatter. Some of them are even spilling out into the corridor, as there's too many people for the compartment door to close properly. The lack of room means that Rose is cradled on his lap, and this he does not entirely hate.

He kind of just sits back and watches everybody talk, listening to snippets of conversation, observing rounds of Exploding Snap. Roxy and Lorcan are trying to chase down a stray Chocolate Frog, Hugo is chatting up some Hufflepuff Sixth Year by the door, and some tawny owl he doesn't recognise is flitting around above their heads, hooting loudly. There's so much going on, it's almost overwhelming. But something about the atmosphere makes him feel really, really happy.

(He might be leaving his home, but at least he'll have his family with him.)

-.-.-

Scorpius has never liked saying goodbyes, so leaving Rose at Kings Cross is a particularly hard task. It's stupid, he knows — especially considering the fact that he's going to see her again in barely a week's time for the wedding.

(Merlin, he's one of those people now, isn't he?)

The rest of the Weasley-Potters tactfully give them a little space as they slip behind a pillar to hug. He's watching her leave with the rest of her family when she suddenly stops, leaves her luggage, and runs back to him.

"Forgot to say — I love you," she stammers, looking up at him nervously. He's not sure why she's nervous when he's the one that already said it first.

(As much as he hates to admit it, hearing those words makes him feel really warm and fuzzy inside.)

He plants one last kiss on her forehead, and pulls her in for a hug. "I love you too, Rose. I really do. Don't miss me too much."

"I'll try," she says, slipping away. "No promises, though."

(He doesn't take his eyes off her retreating back until she's completely gone.)

-.-.-

The spends the first couple of days at the Malfoy Manor trying to occupy his time, pretending he isn't counting down the days till he can see her again.

"The wedding's this Saturday, isn't it, dear?" his mother asks him over dinner one night.

"Is it?" he shrugs casually, like he doesn't know. "They told me to show up one day earlier, so I guess I'll be leaving tomorrow."

"We'll see you at the wedding then," his mother clears her throat, shooting a look at his father across the table. "Correct?"

His father sighs, a wry smile on his face. "Yes, darling. We will be there."

He shows up at The Burrow the evening before, just as the Weasleys are about to start dinner. Grandma Molly welcomes him at the door warmly, pulling him in for a hug. Over her shoulder, Scorpius spots Rose sitting at the end of the dinner table, staring at him with a beautiful, radiant smile.

"Come in, come in, help yourself to some dinner, dear," Grandma Molly ushers him inside and hands him a plate.

All he wants to do is sweep Rose up into his arms, but Scorpius is suddenly very aware that Rose's mother and father are currently present in the same room.

He takes an empty chair a few seats away from Rose, and the entire dinner is pure torture. Sure, the food is delicious, but he can only focus on the fact that Rose is so close, yet so far. He knows he's being ridiculous, and that all he needs to do is wait until night falls, but every minute that passes without being able to properly be with her feels like it's a waste. Then after dinner, everyone gathers around the hearth for drinks, and it's impossible to slip away without attracting too much attention.

When the clock strikes eleven, Grandma Molly shoos everyone upstairs, telling the crowd to get a good night's sleep in preparation for tomorrow's festivities. As he's going up the stairs, Rose looks back at him and shoots him a look that he understands — wait till everyone's asleep.

-.-.-

The house finally falls quiet, save for the occasional floorboard creak from the ghoul in the attic above. He's wondering if he should try and sneak over to Rose's room (a fairly daunting task, considering she shares a room with Hugo) when he hears his door quietly creak open. Rose peeks around the frame, and Scorpius can't help but grin. He puts a finger to his lips, gesturing at the Albus-shaped snoring lump on the other side of the wall. Rose nods, and she gently tip-toes across the room, slipping into his bed. The sheets rustle and his bed frame creaks, but Albus doesn't stir.

They settle into his sheets and for a moment he just lies there, smiling at her, while she smiles back. They're so close they're sharing breaths. Scorpius takes this opportunity to study her features in the dim moonlight. Without thinking, he reaches out to gently touch a freckle on her right shoulder.

(He's definitely wide awake now. His heart is jack-hammering inside his chest — everything feels so fucking intense, it's almost making him light-headed.)

"I missed you," she touches his hand on her shoulder, and their fingers interlace.

(This makes him so happy it almost hurts. It's kind of scary how much power she has over him. He doesn't ever want this feeling to go away.)

He pulls her closer, and she burrows her face into the crook of his neck. He can feel the entire length of her body against his now, and it just feels so fucking good. Scorpius wraps his arms around her, fits his chin over the curve of her head, and she sighs contentedly. "I missed you too," he says quietly into her hair. Somehow he can feel Rose's smile grow wider. "Always do."

"Who would've thought Scorpius Malfoy was such a softie at heart?"

"I blame you."

"I'm definitely not apologising for that," she pulls away from his neck to look at him. "I like this version of you."

He absent-mindedly combs his fingers lightly through her coppery hair. "I like it too."

She smiles, but it quickly goes away. Scorpius frowns. "What's wrong?"

"I'm just thinking… we could've had so much more time together. If we'd figured it out earlier. If I'd figured it out earlier. I feel like I wasted so much time and hurt so many people in the process."

He shrugs. "I know what you mean. Merlin knows it wasn't easy. But we got there in the end."

She laughs a little, eyes sad. "Yeah. We almost didn't."

He tucks a strand of her hair back into place behind her ear. "Whatever happened is in the past. I'm just glad we did anyway."

"Same," she whispers, and tilts her head up to meet his mouth softly.

(They don't talk much after that.)

-.-.-

He wakes up when he realises that Rose is gone. He doesn't know how, or why he knows, but he just does. And sure enough, when he groggily opens his eyes, the bed is empty. His arms are still splayed, hugging the shadow of her.

For a moment, he's disappointed — but then he remembers that they're seeing each other now. They're dating. And there will be many more nights like these to come. They have all the time in the world. The idea feels foreign but strangely comfortable, and it almost makes Scorpius break into a goofy grin.

(Look, he knows he's being disgusting. But he's a lovestruck teenager, okay? And he's tired of denying it anymore. So, he's just going to embrace it.)

He hears distant shouts coming from the window, so he hobbles out of bed and looks out. It's barely nine in the morning (isn't the wedding meant to start at seven?) but there's already several Weasleys outside helping to set up a gigantic purple and gold marquee.

"On your left!"

"No, on your left!"

He sees Albus and James Levitating two tables in crosshairs, and Albus' table nearly collides into James. In the matter of moments, chaos erupts.

"Watch out, you twat!" James roars, and stumbles to his left to steady himself. Unfortunately, he steps straight into Grandma Molly's path, who's also Levitating a stack of plates. Grandma Molly almost trips over, and her floating plates go soaring in ten different directions.

Albus' head whips up. "Scor, careful!"

One of them comes whizzing his way, and he quickly retreats into his window before the plates smashes into the wall, dangerously close to where his head was a few seconds ago.

(Holy fucking shit.)

-.-.-

He makes his way downstairs and very nearly turns around to head back up again.

It's a pretty terrifying sight — people are running around everywhere, everyone's shouting over each other, and he has no idea what the fuck is going on. It's kind of claustrophobic, to be honest, so he quickly tries to make his way out of the chaos and into the garden. He walks past Mrs Potter and Uncle Ron in the kitchen furiously icing a cake with magic, Lily Potter wailing something about her bridesmaid's dress being too small, and the Scamander twins hopelessly trying to chase down a loose gnome.

Scorpius wanders into the garden, dazed. The marquees are standing proudly underneath an oak tree, the canvas rippling gently in the wind. Inside, Grandma Molly and Dom Weasley are enchanting streams of colourful ribbons. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Albus zip by.

"Scor!" Albus says breathlessly.

"Hey Al — have you seen Rose?"

"Never mind that — we need your help!" he holds up a fantastically ugly gnome by the hair. Scorpius flinches at its indignant squeals. "The gnomes have gone rogue."

It takes them nearly an hour to lob all of the gnomes beyond the gate. By the end, the both of them are covered in a thick layer of dirt and his arm is aching something fierce. He's just about to step back into The Burrow when he bumps into Mr Potter, who gets him to help him set up chairs for the marquee. Then, while he's walking out of the tent, he bumps into a hysterical Aunt Fleur, and he spends another hour consoling her.

"I can't believe my leetle Vic eez getting married!" she howls, and Scorpius offers her another tissue. "Why eez my baby leaving me?"

"I don't know, Aunt Fleur," he says dutifully.

(Look, he feels really bad for Aunt Fleur and everything, but he doesn't think he can do this any longer.)

"Why do zey 'ave to grow up so fast?" she implores, eyes brimming over with tears.

"I don't know, Aunt Fleur," he repeats, feeling like he wants to stab his eyes out.

"Look!" she shows him a photo. "Look at leetle Victoire!"

Just as he's about to lean over the photograph, someone behind him says, "She looks adorable."

Molly takes another chair and sits down on the other side of Aunt Fleur. They both exchange looks — this is the first time they've been in the same room together since he kind of, sort of broke up with her. It's not awkward, not exactly, but it's not comfortable either. He still feels guilty about everything that happened, and he's not sure when he'll ever stop feeling guilty. Aunt Fleur, of course, has no idea the two of them even know each other.

"Ah, dear Molly," Aunt Fleur sniffs, and shows her the photograph instead. "Isn't she cute? Si belle!"

She takes the photo from her, and gives Scorpius a pointed look. I got this.

He hesitates for a moment and raises his eyebrows. You sure?

She nods her head and gives him a small smile. He mouths a quick thank you and slips away before Aunt Fleur notices.

(Maybe it's a good thing that they ended up not working out, because Molly is a fucking saint. He'd probably never deserve someone like her.)

-.-.-

Scorpius heads back to The Burrow, fully intending to go back to his room to change out of his dirty clothes. It's nearly five, and he knows that guests are about to start arriving soon. He still hasn't seen a glimpse of Rose, so after he cleans himself up and puts on his dress robes, he goes around trying to look for her.

"Have you seen Rose?" he puts his head around Lily's door. She turns around, in the midst of putting on some earrings. Caitlyn is also getting ready with her, powdering something on her face.

"Dunno, I might have seen her outside?"

He tries Hugo's room next. "Oy, you seen your sister?"

Hugo shrugs and continues to adjust his dress robes. "Not since this morning."

Scorpius goes downstairs into the kitchen. "Mrs Potter, do you know where Rose is?"

"Oh, sorry dear, I've been so busy in the kitchen all day I haven't had the time," she apologises. "Maybe try she's with Vic? Rose is a bridesmaid, right?"

He thanks her, defeated, and heads to the marquee. He's thinking at this point he might have to wait until the wedding is over until he sees her again. It's close to dusk now, and he takes a second to marvel at the wedding decorations. The garden is entirely transformed. In the distance, he can see a steady stream of guests making their way towards the glowing tent. Enchanted lanterns illuminate a path to the marquee, while paper cranes float in mid-air.

(And not a gnome in sight, thank Merlin.)

-.-.-

At precisely 7 o' clock, the lanterns in the marquee dim. Scorpius is sitting somewhere near the back with his parents (quite possibly the first time in history a Malfoy has ever been present at a Weasley wedding), the band starts playing a dreamy lullaby, and a hush falls over the huge swath of guests. Everybody stands up, and Scorpius follows suit.

Victoire enters the tent, a vision in floaty white lace and pearly silk. She almost looks like she's glowing, and Scorpius is positive that her Veela blood has something to do with it. Everyone sighs and marvels at the sight of the beautiful bride, but honestly? Scorpius only has eyes for one person. Rose glides in, and he feels like he literally can't look away.

She's wearing a demure forest green dress, holding a bouquet of lilies. Her hair is swept up into a messy bun, with a few lilies tucked into the crown of her head. Tendrils of red frame her face. His mouth goes dry and he can feel his heart racing.

(Holy shit.)

He's standing by the aisle, so when she walks past and smiles at him, he has to resist the urge to reach out for her hand. Then, the wedding procession is over, and everyone is gathered at the altar. There's a wizened old wizard officiating the ceremony, and he motions for everyone to take their seat.

"We are gathered here today to celebrate the joyous union of Theodore Remus Lupin and Victoire Apolline Weasley. May I have the rings?"

James, the best man, steps forward to pass the officiant a small box.

"I promise you, Victoire Apolline Weasley, that I will be your loving and loyal husband from now on. I will share with you all of life's joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, until death parts us," Teddy slides the wedding band on Victoire's fourth finger, smiling.

(Scorpius swears he sees James tearing up — something he denies vehemently later on.)

"I promise you, Theodore Remus Lupin, that I will be your loving and loyal wife from now on. I will share with you all of life's joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, until death parts us," Vic's voice is steady as she slips Teddy's ring on.

The officiant clears his throat and continues. "As a ceaseless reminder of this hour, and of the promise you have made to each other, these rings also speak of the oneness you now experience as husband and wife.

Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter to the other.

Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other.

Now you will feel no loneliness, for each of you will be a companion to the other.

Now you are two bodies, but there is only one life before you.

Go now to your dwelling place, to enter the days of your life together.

And may your days be good, and long upon the earth."

There isn't a dry eye in the house now, and even Scorpius is feeling a little emotional. He glances over in Rose's direction, but he finds that she's looking right at him already. Their eyes meet across the marquee, and he feels something pass between them, something unsaid and impalpable. It almost feels electric.

"You may kiss the bride," the officiant announces. Ted and Victoire grin at each other and he sweeps her into a theatrical kiss. The tent explodes with applause, everyone hooting and whistling to cheer on the newlyweds. Scorpius rises and claps along with everyone else. Ted's hair turns a brilliant shade of red as he waves to the crowd. Vic smiles from ear to ear and tosses her bouquet into the air, which bursts into a flock of white doves.

(Okay, that might be a little over the top.)

And just like that, Ted and Victoire are married. The chairs disappear, and a dance floor materialises. The band starts playing some upbeat jazzy tune, and Ted and Vic take the floor for their first dance. Other people gradually begin to shuffle onto the floor, swaying to the music. Scorpius isn't big on dancing himself, but he thinks maybe it would be nice to have a song with Rose.

(Shut up, okay?)

He scans the crowd for her and sees that she's already started dancing with her dad. She smiles at him over Uncle Ron's shoulder and mouths, soon.

He sighs a little and settles back down on a table. The dance floor starts filling up with more people, and pretty soon the party is in full swing. At the far end of the marquee, he catches sight of Molly and one of the Scamander twins (Lorcan, maybe?) getting up for a dance. Molly shimmies to the music, smiling, but her expression quickly turns to one of abject horror when Lorcan starts flailing his arms around in weird, jerky movements. Several people around him have to duck to avoid getting hit. Knowing Lorcan, he's probably performing some sort of traditional Yellow-Bellied Plimpy mating dance. Molly looks as though she'd want nothing more than to sink into the floor and disappear.

(It's absolutely fucking hilarious.)

Somehow — as if she knows he's looking — Molly looks over to him, and for a second the eye contact feels strange and awkward.

Then the both of them simultaneously burst into uncontrollable laughter, and for a moment it feels that maybe, just maybe, there's a possibility Molly and him might be friends again someday.

-.-.-

He's in the middle of a conversation with his mother when he catches sight of Rose (finally) detaching herself from the crowd. She meets his eyes, tilting her head towards the marquee exit. He nods, and stands up.

"Sorry mum, gotta go."

His mum looks around and sees Rose. She looks at Scorpius knowingly. "Girlfriend?"

He shrugs, smiling. "I think so. Maybe."

"Introduce me someday. Go on, then."

He squeezes his mum's hand and meets Rose at the exit. Without saying anything to each other, they steal away from the hustle and bustle of the festivities and slip into the warm summer night.

It's almost a relief to be with her, just her, after a whole day of being apart.

(Is it stupid? Yes. Is he apologising for it? No.)

They don't say anything for a while — they just walk in companionable silence. The enchanted lanterns are floating low, almost grazing the grass. It's just about enough light for them to see. At first he's not sure exactly where they're going, but eventually he realises they're heading for their spot, their spot by the pond.

Rose picks up her dress and sits down on the soft grass, and Scorpius follows suit. She starts pulling off her heels to dip her toes in the glistening water.

"You look beautiful," he says, breaking the silence.

"You don't look too bad yourself," she returns the compliment shyly. "Glad we finally got some time to ourselves. I'm absolutely exhausted."

"Same. Don't think I've ever seen this many red-heads under one roof."

She giggles. "I've given up trying to keep track of which Weasley cousin is which."

"Doesn't matter. I've already got the best one anyway."

He knows it's cheesy and kind of stupid, but Rose seems to like it anyway. She laughs a little, and says, "Don't let Al hear you say that."

"He'll understand."

He lies down on the dewy grass, and Rose gently lays her head on his chest. They both stare up at the violet night sky for a while, listening to faint, muffled music in the distance. The sky is scattered with twinkling stars, and crickets are chirping in the reeds around them.

"You know, when I was up there on the altar earlier… it suddenly hit me."

"What?"

She looks over, biting her lip. "I'm scared."

He doesn't think he's ever heard her say that before. "Of what?"

"I'm not sure exactly. I think seeing Ted and Vic get married just made me realise that… that I'm not a student anymore. And I have no idea what's next."

"None of us do."

"No, but—" she picks her head up a little and looks at Scorpius. "I've always had a plan. It's always been… first year, second year, third year…" she drifts off, a faraway look in her eye. "...and now that we've graduated, I suppose I just feel a little lost. Like a buoy that's drifted too far out into the ocean. Do you — do you know what I mean?"

He contemplates this for a while, absent-mindedly brushing his fingers through her hair. "I think I do."

"I'm just so used to knowing what's next. After OWLs, then NEWTs. Make Prefect, then aim for Head Girl. I've never told you this but… when we were doing those career counselling sessions with Professor McGonagall? I totally froze up. That was when I realised that — that for all the Os I got in exams, I had no clue what I was actually aiming for," she closes her eyes, looking frustrated. "I spent so many years of my life studying my arse off, not even knowing or thinking about what it was for! And now I feel like I'm doomed and I've peaked in life and everything's downhill from here—"

"Hey," Scorpius interrupts and sits upright. He pulls Rose in for a tight hug. She falls silent, breathing rapidly. She looks as though she might burst into tears at any moment.

"Rose. Listen to me," he looks at Rose steadily. "You're the most brilliant witch in our year. You're smart, determined, confident, and I've never seen you give up on anything. You're the most persistent person I know. I've seen you accomplish fucking everything you've set your mind to. Sometimes I think you might even be insane."

Her eyes are wide, and she's hanging onto his every word.

"But I've known you for years, and I can tell you this — you're going to do amazing things, Rose. It's not even a matter of if, just when. I know it."

She nods wordlessly, and they go back to lying down and staring at the stars.

"Thanks for that," she says softly, palming at her eyes. "I needed it."

"I wasn't just saying it. I meant it."

"So, what's next, then?" Rose asks, her voice filled with uncertainty.

"Dunno. Think of it as... going on an adventure," he suggests.

She smiles at this idea. "Will you be with me?"

He turns over to look at her, and he knows. He knows he'd follow her anywhere, and it wouldn't even be a choice. He pulls her closer and kisses her temple, the lily petals on her head tickling his nose.

"I don't know what's going to happen. But I'll have you. And I think we'll figure it out."

Rose interlaces her fingers with his, and he strokes his thumb on hers gently. "That's a comforting thought."

"I know you like to overthink things… but here's an idea — how about just sitting back and seeing where life takes you?" he knows as soon as he's said it that he's basically suggested something that might be impossible for Rose Weasley to do. But surprisingly enough, she seems to consider it.

"Sounds terrifying," she eventually says, and he laughs because it is. Who fucking knows what the future has in store for them? It's scary, it's unknown… and it's exciting. He looks at her, really looks at her, and all of a sudden he knows everything's going to be okay.

"It's just you and me, Rose," he says earnestly. There's so much more he wants to say, but he has no idea how to say it. So, he squeezes her hand tightly instead, trying to tell her everything he's feeling. She returns the gesture, and looks up at him with something that looks like hope in her eyes.

"You promise?"

"I promise," he says, and he thinks he's never meant anything more in his life.


The End


A/N: Thank you so much to everyone who continued leaving reviews long after my last update (nearly 7 years ago now!). It's amazing that people are still reading after all this time, and re-reading all the reviews you guys left gave me the inspiration to continue writing. I hope you enjoyed the last chapter. It's an awesome feeling to finish this story that I've left incomplete for so long, and I feel really emotional about it!