AUTHOR'S NOTES:

This story is dedicated to Nejna, whom it was originally destined for. I'm thrilled you love it!

Summary: A Scorpius Malfoy x Rose Weasley 'first love' story (a little Dramione implied, as well). Post-Epilogue (novel compliant).

Timeline: April, 2024 to July, 2025.

Rating: NC-17 (sexual situations, language)

Challenge Requirements: Integrating three of five quotes from the original requestor into the story. Those quotes were:

1. "I love you! So what? Days are passing still, and the dawns are red as always. Everything is the same. Everything except me, because I love you..."

2. "I'll promise you everything, everything you want - my skin, my bones, and the face you wish..."

3. "It may be elaborate fantasy, but it's the perfect place to start…"

Music listened to when writing this fic (and suggested as background when reading the story) were: "Kiss the Rain" and "First Love" by Yiruma, and "Two Is Better Than One" by Boys Like Girls.

Go to my Photobucket site to see Rose's ring and dress: http:/ s905 . photobucket . com / albums / ac260 / RZZMG / (click on the album "TWO IS BETTER THAN ONE" on the lower left side of the screen).


TWO IS BETTER THAN ONE

BY RZZMG

It was the second rainy Sunday in April when Scorpius Malfoy was finally willing to admit that he'd crashed hard and had truly lost his heart to a woman. And not just any woman – to her, the bane of his high school years. The icy, biting truth was irrevocable and undeniable no matter which way he tried to turn it about in his overly analytical head, and it was as chilling as the spring downpour under which he now unmindfully stood. He felt so utterly cold inside and out.

That fuckwad Marcus Zabini had been right, he absently mused: love simply crushed you into submission, didn't it?

When had it happened that he'd come to feel this way for the overly ambitious, sometimes arrogant, infuriating know-it-all Rose Weasley anyway?

If he really thought about it, he knew he could pinpoint the exact moment: Fourth Year, when she'd caught the Snitch during the first game of the season against Slytherin. It was his second season playing, her first, and an hour and ten minutes into the game, before he could block the attempt, she'd snatched the golden flittering object right out of the air in front of his broom's nose with a daring, dangerous swoop and a snap of her long, thin fingers. As they'd both come to a screeching halt immediately thereafter, and the announcer proclaimed Ravenclaw's victory, she'd thrown Scorpius a lazy 'better luck next time' smirk over her shoulder and flew off at top speed to celebrate her first triumph by buzzing the four House Towers around the pitch, holding her prize up for everyone in the universe to see. The sunlight had reflected off her fiery gold locks, offsetting her sapphire blue robes – the uniform belonging to the Screaming Eagles – and she had laughed honestly as she swooped around the stadium, rapturously elated by the close win, her smile brilliantly open and real. In those minutes, she was wild and passionate and… free to feel… and Scorpius admired Rose Weasley for such transparency and independence. He was simultaneously jealous, too.

He'd gone back to his dorm room infuriated that afternoon, of course, vowing a Seeker's vengeance, knowing his chance to go head-to-head with her could occur off the sand trap and in classes instead, not limiting their rivalry (which had been a mocking, pale shade previously) to sports. It was then that their competitiveness had been taken to a whole new level, which had concluded with his taking the Valedictorian spot she'd so furiously craved last year during graduation (considering it all now, though, he realized that, in general, they'd come out even, if one was petty enough to keep score).

Watching her through the window of Flourish and Blotts now, Scorpius knew without a creeping doubt that he was in love with his long-term (seven years!) adversary. He knew because for the first time in his life, his heart was palpitating like mad under his chest as he watched a woman, enchanted by something as innocent as the way she smiled as she flipped through her intended purchase while standing in line. He knew because his mouth dried out like the Sahara when he contemplated going into the store and talking to her. He knew because his mind screamed at him to keep walking instead and not look back, and yet, his body stubbornly ignored his mental commands. He knew because he could actually visualize wrapping his own pale hands through that glossy, wavy hair of hers and plunging his body into her depths at the same time as tasting those sweet, pink lips that were currently pursed in thought. And he knew it wasn't just lust because when he looked at Rose Weasley, he thought with some strange measure of unfamiliar hope it might be possible for him to have a future of his own determination after all.

So, I love you! he thought as he obsessed over her every angle and curve. So what? Days are passing still, and the dawns are red as always. Everything is the same. Everything except me, because I love you...

He was so utterly fucked.

"Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy!" his mother admonished, approaching from the direction of Madam Malkin's, his father and grandparents in tow. "What do you think you're doing allowing yourself to become such a mess?"

"Really, Scorpius," his grandfather's smooth, snide voice hissed, coming along to his other side, trying not to make a scene, but as always, needing to make his opinion known. "Have you no sense of decorum, boy? What do you do standing out here without an umbrella or charm to keep your robes dry?"

"Father, leave him be," he heard his father weakly jump to his defense (again). "He's only…"

As quickly as they'd all begun the debate, however, the voices of his family suddenly stopped, silenced as if bespelled from the very air - or stolen from their shocked throats.

He knew they had seen the object of his fascination and were quickly putting two and two together in their depraved little minds, but try as he might, Scorpius couldn't seem to pull his eyes away from the vision before him, enslaved as he was by Rose's finger absently twirling around and around a lock of her auburn tresses as she continued to peruse her selection. She took one small step forward as the line moved closer to the register, never looking up, doing that thing she was always so good at – multitasking by intuition.

"Oh, dear gods above, no," Lucius moaned. "You must be joking, boy."

He didn't condescend to reply, just continued to watch forlornly, knowing he'd never be allowed this opportunity again. He stole what he could during those minutes, though, captured every detail – the way the inside candlelight reflected in those intense, sincere aqua-blue eyes, the tiny upward curve of her pert nose with its sprinkling of freckles, the creamy skin of her cheek and the back of her hand as she coiled that wisp of hair over and over again - etching it all onto his bleeding, pounding heart.

If only she would turn her head! Maybe then she'd see him; would see the clawing, agonized desperation he knew was reflected on his foolish, angled face. Maybe then she'd do something uncharacteristic, like wave, or come to the exit and meet him at the door, and ask him how he'd been since the previous June, the last time they'd seen each other, when they'd stood on the wooden platform in Hogsmeade in front of the train and tentatively shook hands and said 'good luck, good life' to each other in the formal, ritual wizarding farewell. They could have a conversation then, maybe over tea and biscuits (or a Butterbeer or two), about where their lives had taken them, and he'd tell her then that he actually missed their daily verbal sparring, and the way she'd look over her reading glasses at him with frustration whenever he'd pick on her bookwormish ways, or how he'd look forward to facing off against her across the Quidditch pitch. He'd tell her how lonely he'd been since leaving his childhood behind, how he'd drifted around without purpose, looking for an idea of what he wanted to do with the rest of his life, and how living in that fucking hollowed-out mansion in the interim was sucking his soul away day by day. He'd tell her he'd always thought her interesting, and ask her on a real date. And then maybe… maybe…

But he knew without even being rejected outright (because she would rebuff his attempts for a more intimate meeting, no doubt) that none of that would ever happen. What he felt would always be a one-sided thing, most likely, since it was an undeniable fact that the Malfoys had always had enmity with the Weasleys. His grandfather despised their patriarch, Arthur, from their days in school together, his father still carried about a personal, biting grudge for the son, Ronald (although Scorpius had never understood why), and it had been positively expected from the time he'd received his letter from Hogwarts at the age of eleven that Scorpius would carry on the tradition and have nothing but abhorrence for little, vivacious Rose Weasley (not to mention her little brother Hugo). No, regardless of how he may wish circumstances otherwise, it was odds-on that nothing would ever come of these feelings.

With a sigh, shoulders slumped, he moved away, heading back up the street towards the opening into Diagon Alley, unconcerned with how rudely he was treating his family by ignoring them, uncaring of the drenching he was receiving by still not covering up against the weather. At this point, he thought he'd gladly welcome a case of terminal pneumonia.

Behind him, the bell above the entrance of the bookstore rang, signifying a patron was either coming in or going out through the door. Scorpius didn't bother to look, too depressed to wonder.

"Hey, Scor!"

With a groan, Scorpius reluctantly turned. "Albus," he nodded at the young man in greeting, not really in the mood for discussion at the moment, but realizing how rude it would be not to greet his former Housemate (Green and Silver, loyal to the core... whatever).

The boy with the messy bi-colored hair (an ace blending of both his parents – red streaks on inky black), extended his umbrella and stepped out into the cobbled street. He totally ignored the Malfoy elders and approached his former classmate, raising his dark grey shield several centimeters higher to accommodate the taller Scorpius as they came into range, covering him politely up against the storm. "How've you been, mate?"

Albus "call me Al" Potter was probably the only exuberant Slytherin ever to grace its roles in the history of Hogwarts. Scorpius used to wonder how in the hell someone like him had ever been sorted into the infamous Snake's Club… only to realize by Third Year just how deviously disarming the boy's cheeky grin and casual interface really were. For starters, Potter played a mean game of Wizard Chess, especially when galleons were on the line, and then there was the fact that he could hold a stare longer than anyone Scorpius knew – even more so than his Mahmen Malfoy, his father's mother. In many ways, the youngest son of the famous 'Chosen One' was a lot like his father, whom Scorpius had only run across a handful of times at various school functions; there was a calculating intelligence behind both sets of emerald green eyes - those belonging to the father and the son. The Sorting Hat had obvious taken a lot more into account than was visible above the surface, even against Al's initial protest when his House had been announced that first day.

Scorpius shrugged, deciding to answer the question posed in the least amount of syllables possible just to be a right bastard. "Breathing. You?"

It seemed only polite to ask the question back, after all. Scorpius didn't dislike Potter; quite the opposite actually. But he had learned a long time ago – at the continual 'lessons' instilled upon him by his grandfather – that it wouldn't do well to get too close to others outside of the family. It was one of the reasons Scorpius had no real friends, and why he was suffocating slowly inside that awful house he lived in, unable to find an excuse to escape, even for a weekend.

A dark, curious eyebrow shot up into Al's hairline, covered by his long, rakish bangs. Clearly, he'd sensed something disquieting about Scorpius' answer, a double meaning behind the words – as was his freakish, innate gift. That queer, uncanny instinct to just know when someone was hiding the truth or what their next three moves would undoubtedly be had been the reason the kid had been able to play chess and cards so damned well. Worse, with a pointed look or a well-considered turn of phrase, he could also manage to usually get that person to disclose their deepest secrets to him with little difficulty (he was like his namesake in that way, or so Scorpius had been told). "Working," he replied easily. "At the Ministry, with Rose's mother in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. I'm apprenticing to the Lead Prosecutor of the High Wizengamot for the next two years."

"Good for you."

Scorpius hadn't meant that to come out as bitter as it had, but his heart was honestly covetous of everything his former Housemate had ever been able to accomplish in his short lifespan. Al was the anti-Scorpius in almost every way that counted; he was well-liked by almost everyone he met, and he was trusted – that, despite being a Slytherin (as if people just forgot that little fact, or overlooked it as a sorting mistake), he'd been very popular with the girls since he'd grown out of that coltish little frame he'd carried himself about in all through First and Second Years, he'd done well academically, and now he was working alongside Rose's mother, preparing for a life of excitement and prestige. He was so 'in like Flynn' with the Weasleys, his father married to one, that it was practically a foregone conclusion that he and Rose were destined for the altar one day. After all, it's not like it was at all uncommon for first cousins to marry in the wizarding world (as the Malfoys, Blacks and Greengrasses well knew). Hell, Al and Rose were probably dating already, in fact - which was why he'd been in the bookstore, in all likelihood.

Potter just stared at him for a second, weighing him carefully with those enigmatic, bright green eyes of his. "Rose is here with me, you know."

Scorpius took a deep breath as his worst fears were verbally confirmed and he mentally made plans to stab himself in the chest a dozen times when he got home. "Is she?" He swallowed his disappointment back, perfecting that mask of indifference he'd often worn as a younger teenager. "So, you two are…?" He left it open-ended, too cowardly to know the truth of the matter after all, it seemed.

A slow smirk wound its way up Al's handsome face then. "Is that what this is all about? You're jealous."

Fuck. How did the prat always know?

"What are you driveling on about, Potter?" Scorpius affected nonchalance. It was one of his better acts, he knew, especially when he shoved his hands in his pockets, as he just had, and stood up straighter, looking about with an air of cold disinterest, as he now was.

Shaking his head, Albus chuckled, and Scorpius didn't care for that jibing sound one bit. "Scor, Rose is not for me. I knew that years ago. And it has nothing to do with being cousins. She wouldn't have me even if I begged."

To say Scorpius was amazed to hear such an admission from the popular, handsome Potter was the understatement of the decade. He'd always assumed Rose and Al were destined for great things together, being best friends all through school and practically inseparable. "Tough luck, ol' chum," he tried now not to sound too happy. If he couldn't be jovial by his own good fortune, at least he could enjoy a moment of schadenfreude at someone else's expense, right? Sure, it was petty, but Scorpius was feeling a little small-minded at that moment.

"Well, I'd love to say this was an experience…" he began, nodded his head in preparation for goodbyes.

Potter cut him off smoothly. "Aren't you in the least bit interested as to why Rose wouldn't date me, especially given how close she and I are?" he asked bluntly, that chirpy smile tugging at his twit, smug face.

Scorpius grit his teeth. He didn't need to be reminded that he didn't even play second fiddle to Potter's first chair in Weasley's eyes. "I suppose you're going to tell me whether I want to know or not," he sourly predicted, and Potter nodded in enthusiastic accord.

"Oh, absolutely. Because being the bearer of this news to someone as usually condescendingly self-assured in his exemplary astuteness will make my decade," Al grinned.

"Taken up with a thesaurus at last, I see," Scorpius sneered, feeling particularly vicious today. Something about the foul weather combined with the savaging of that hateful organ under his ribs ruined his mood.

Potter actually laughed, not in the least bit insulted. The guy never seemed affected by slights, now that Scorpius thought about it. "Okay, well, here it is, Scor, in plain English: the reason Rose won't touch me with a ten meter cattle prod is because she's been in love with you since she was twelve."

For the first time in his life, Scorpius let someone other than his family and the house elves see a gods-honest expression on his face: fear. He was terrified – not of the news itself, but of actually believing it.

It took him three tries before he could speak coherently again. "You're lying," he choked out pathetically, looking up and locking gazes with his former Housemate. Those eyes… Gods, Scorpius hated Potter's all-knowing, soul penetrating eyes! And he despised that inane, winsome beam of straight, white, fucking perfect teeth, too!

"Nope, 'fraid not," the other guy confirmed with a shake of his head.

There was a solid minute of genuine disbelief and then it went away, and Scorpius knew that what the other man had said was the bona fide truth. Potter may be Slytherin, and sometimes manipulative, but Scorpius knew after rooming with the guy for seven straight years that Al would never, ever do anything to hurt his best girl, Rose Weasley, especially spread untrue rumors about her feelings. "Why are you telling me this?" he asked, unable to help his suspicious nature, clenching his fists at his side, trying to stop the trembling in his suddenly uncontrollable limbs.

With a very deep inhale and exhale, Albus Potter looked at him then – really, really looked – and Scorpius knew the answer to his question, solving the mystery: because his former Housemate, too, was in love with Rose, but unlike Scorpius, Al was a good enough man to let her go in the direction her heart truly called.

There was an understanding then between them that freed Scorpius in a way like nothing else ever had. For the first time in his life, he was being given permission to have what he truly wanted. He felt the alluring taste of freedom.

As if magically summoned by Fate, Rose exited Flourish and Blotts at that exact moment, pulling the hood of her dark green woolen robes up and over that bouncy, crimson halo of hair. Albus turned to take in the beauty, and she quickly spied him, waving.

Scorpius' heart fell out of him when she turned that smile on him next, and watched as it actually bloomed wider. Then, she did the impossible and waved at him, too. And he saw it… he finally saw it all - the truth he'd been so blind to for so many years was right there in the way her eyes shimmered with laughter at him, and in the pinkish blush that covered her cheeks.

He was moving, before he was even aware of doing so, uncaring of the harsh rain settling into his bones once more as he fell under the full force of the squall once again. He felt the eyes of his parents and his grandparents on him now; they had not moved from the front of the window, having entered some sort of deep discussion soon after he'd moved away from them earlier. He ignored them, disregarded the stare that seemed to burn into the back of his head coming from Potter. With eyes and purpose firmly fixed on a pair of shiny aqua gems, he hurried to reach her, driven by a need so complete that he was helpless but to surrender to its whim.

"Fancy seeing you here, Scor," she teased, clutching her brown paper-wrapped purchase tightly against her front with both arms. "How have you…?" She never got the rest out. With a passion that belied everything he'd ever been trained to repress, he grabbed Rose Weasley about the waist, sealed her against his chest, and lowered his mouth to hers.

It was the sweetest heaven he'd ever tasted, flavored of strawberries and spiced tea. Scorpius groaned, pulled her hood away and thrust his fingers into that delectable hair that he'd fantasized about touching while watching her through the window earlier. Slytherin's soul, it was so soft, and it gleamed like metallic Rosso corsa thread between his hands.

There had only been a moment's hesitation on her part before the book his crimson angel had been holding dropped to the ground at her feet, bouncing off the stair and spilling out into the street, and then her arms worked their way up and over his shoulders to wrap about his neck, her fingers tangling in his platinum-blonde hair, releasing it from the thong that traditionally held it back, letting it free for the first time in public. She kissed him with sunshine and hope and yearning and he took it all, let it fill him up and banish the shadow that had lain too long over his soul.

After several centuries, he pulled away, sanity returning. They were in the middle of Diagon Alley. He was a Malfoy, she a Weasley. His family was tied to darkness, hers to light. Everyone would have seen what they'd just done and he was worried for her reputation. Resting his forehead on hers, he closed his eyes tightly. "Sorry," he whispered, unable to find the right way to express his concerns, reverting to one-word sentences like some pitiable simpleton.

She sighed. "I'm not."

His lids flew open in astonishment and they locked gazes. Words flew from his head like scattering doxies in wand light. "No?"

That smile – the one he'd always assumed meant she was thinking him the daftest creature on the planet – made its appearance and she shook her head firmly. "No. I want you to do it again, in fact. If you don't mind, that is?" There was challenge in her tone and in that imperious look she gave him. "Now would be nice, yes?"

Blinking stupidly, feeling elation explode from his chest, he laughed aloud. It was the first time he'd ever done so since he was a very small child. "You're always so bossy, Weasley," he grinned impudently, then leaned back in and kissed her again, and it was delicious sweetness.

I'll promise you everything, everything you want - my skin, my bones, and the face you wish, he thought with real joy. Just let me keep kissing you forever, Rose. And don't stop kissing back. Gods, please, don't stop.

The sound of a throat clearing nearby alerted both teenagers to the fact that they still had an audience. Scorpius turned to find his father politely holding out Rose's drenched purchase in one hand. "You dropped this I believe, Miss Weasley," he intoned more courteously that Scorpius could ever recall hearing the man speak.

Blushing furiously, Rose reached out and retrieved her item. "Yes, um, thank you, Mr. Malfoy," she stuttered, pressing her book back against her chest protectively.

Scorpius watched his father nod genteelly, and then turned those ashen, somber eyes on him. "We should be going, son," he murmured civilly. "We have a dinner appointment at six to make, and you're going to need to change your robes."

Now it was Scorpius' turn to blush. "Yes, of course, father," he automatically replied with respect. He turned back to Rose apprehensively. "May I see you again - for tea or whatever?"

Ravenclaw's undisputed princess nodded her lovely head eagerly. "Owl me. The Burrow."

Not knowing why he did so, Scorpius reached out and touched her cheek lightly, feathering his fingertips over her smooth skin gently. His chest felt tight, but his feet were several centimeters off the ground, he imagined. It may be elaborate fantasy, but it's the perfect place to start – a real date, he thought nervously.

"I will," he murmured with an earnest smile, which she genuinely returned.

With that, he turned, gave Potter a sincere, deep nod in thanks (which the wanker had the audacity to grin superciliously about), then walked at his father's side back to his family further up the way, pointedly ignoring the looks he knew his grandfather and mother would have plastered to their ugly, scornful faces. Nothing - absolutely nothing - was going to ruin this moment for him, he decided as his grandmother, uncaring of his sopping condition, laced her arm through his. With a wave of her wand, they Apparated back to the Manor House.

"Come to my study, darling," his Mahmen interceded smoothly on his behalf as soon as they crossed the barriers and entered the foyer, tugging on his arm towards the main hall, tossing a hooded glare at her husband on the way past to silence the commentary that was already beginning to spill from his hate-filled mouth. "You have a young lady to write, and I have the perfect paper stock for such a task."

X~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~X

Two months later…

Love, desire and nervousness intermingled as Scorpius slowly slid into Rose's tight, velvety channel, joining their sweating, straining bodies in a beautiful, breathless moment, connecting them in the most intimate of dances ever conceived. He'd watched her face, locked onto it so he could commit and retain every second of this first coupling, burning it indelibly upon his memory, then he stilled, buried to the hilt in his lover's rich, silken depths, letting her adjust to his size, locking his arms about her shoulders and holding her cradled against him with as much gentleness as he could offer. It was extremely difficult not to lose himself in her right then, but with intense discipline, Scorpius held back his climax, locking his jaw and trying to remind himself that Rose's pain was far more important a concern than his own pleasure just then.

"Thank you," he whispered against the delicate shell of her ear, pressing a small, sweet kiss to the skin. "For giving me this."

After more than an hour of eager touching, licking, nipping, sucking and feasting upon each other's bodies, Rose's innocence had finally been surrendered up to him with a moaning shudder into his damp neck, and his own virginity taken away by her warm, pulsing heat with a groan of pure hungry desire. They hadn't planned on doing this today, but he knew that they were both more than ready to take this step, having spent practically every day together over the intervening months since their kiss that afternoon in the rain.

Theirs had been a fast romance, with some small amount of rose-tint to it, but even knowing how rushed they'd appeared to the rest of the world, between the two of them, they'd both felt that their relearning of each other had gone at a perfect pace. Without outside competition to fuel them this time, it had been lazy and tender and beautiful the way that they'd opened up to each other, both in the telling of their frightening, shameful secrets, and in the sharing of their new, exciting discoveries. Rose had battered away a lifetime of Scorpius' hang-ups and fears with simple touches, teasing smiles and wild kisses, and he'd calmed her anxious heart with the assurance of his fixed devotion. She made him feel truly wanted and worthy, something he'd never felt in the entirety of his life (always falling short of his grandfather's and mother's commanding, severe expectations of him), and he gave her understanding and stability (her parents – the unshakable 'Golden Duo' - were on the verge of divorce, he'd discovered, having fallen out of love years ago, and living together merely for the sake of their children). The physical touches they shared were something they'd both craved from pretty much the beginning anyway.

He stroked the back of her head now, running fingers through the soft curtain of her hair. "Are you okay, angel?" he asked, adjusting so he lay her head back into the mattress, freeing his arms from about her and leaning on his elbows. He continued to pet her, unable to prevent himself from this small, but important contact.

Her eyelids fluttering, her cheeks stained with blood, Rose nodded bravely. "I'll be all right," she tried to reassure him, relaxing her grip on his flesh and moving her fingers up to touch his lips instead, her aqua orbs shimmering with wonder. "I can feel all of you inside me, Scor. It's so wonderful. So right."

They shared a special smile – the one they only gave to each other. He pressed his forehead to hers and looked at her through the fringe of his golden eyelashes. "You're so tight and so wet… gods above, Rose, you make me ache for you." He nipped at her fingertips, moving them aside and ate at her mouth again. "I'm going to start moving, okay?" he panted, feeling his control slipping. "Let me know if it hurts too much, though, and we'll stop. I want this to be good for you."

She grinned, suddenly frisky. "So I'll want to do it again with you, you mean?"

Most of the time, Rose Weasley knew him better than Scorpius knew himself. To be fair, she had been watching him very closely and carefully for seven years, however (and he'd been utterly clueless, of course). Scorpius chuckled, then adjusted his hips and began retreating from her body gently, pulling out from that sultry, liquid sheath torturously slow, biting his own tongue against the unbelievable, pleasurable rippling of her internal muscles. He let his fingers stroke her face as a means to keep his concentration and took deep breaths in an attempt to slow his erratic pulse. This felt so blasted good!

Rose closed her eyes and inhaled in pace with him, and he could see she was in pain by the tiny wrinkle in her brow that appeared, but she never asked him to stop, and, in fact, her hands urged him on.

"You're so beautiful, angel," he whispered against her cheek, nuzzling her throat with his nose. "You feel so perfect."

With such calming words, Rose began to relax, the fierce grip she'd maintained on him loosened, making it easier to move. With long, thick, slow strokes, they found a rhythm together through trial and error, and too soon, it was as if they'd been doing this for years, meeting and retreating together in harmony and fire. They stared at each other at one point, their breaths shared as they kissed. Her hips gyrated fiercely as their tempo increased, meeting him on every down stroke, increasing the pressure. "Oh, Scor," she sighed against his mouth. "So good! Don't stop."

He gave her everything she wanted, holding back his own pleasure, sinking into her bones and heat, melding their hearts with every thrust. "Close?" he breathed, feeling his impending zenith, fighting against it, wanting to wait for her. "Please say you're close."

Blue-green, shimmering pools lighted with lustful urgency as she nodded. "Push a little harder against the top of me," she begged. He adjusted so his abdomen stimulated that tiny bundle of nerves at the apex of her cleft as they rubbed their lower bodies together, even as he plunged mindlessly into her grasping, eager body. Her long, thin legs wrapped about the back of his thighs, pulling him in deeper with every reconnection.

It didn't take long before the pressure became too great, and Rose's body was drawing Scorpius up into her depths, exploding in joy around him as she cried out his name, milking his seed as he came in great spurts at the same time within her. He felt his semen coat her moist canal thickly, pulled from his body with fiery bursts to fill her up even as a rush of warm, liquid heat from her quivering folds bathed him, drenched them both in a shower of musky sex. Their mingled cries for each other touched his spirit even as he reached Heaven.

With warm, glowing feelings, he took Rose back into his arms, wanting to connect every centimeter of his flesh to hers. "I love you," he murmured against her soft, pillow lips as they shared nipping kisses, sated, comforted by the fact that they'd both achieved orgasm together, that she'd given this to him of all the men in the world she could have chosen, and that she'd obviously enjoyed their first time making love as much as he had.

X~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~X

Four months later…

"Mahmen says it was her mother, Druella Black's, ring," he offered, slipping the engagement piece onto his girlfriend – fiancée's - finger. "It's been in the family for generations. She gives it with her blessing."

Rose's fingers were shaking so badly he had to physically grip her left hand to steady it enough to get the antique white gold ring with the four carat center emerald and two carats worth of baguette-cut diamonds into its proper position.

Tears streamed down his lover's excited, jubilant face, and she threw her arms about him. "Yes! Yes! Yes!" she practically screamed in excitement. "I'm going to be Mrs. Rose Malfoy!"

"Yeah, angel, you are," he laughed in true happiness. Picking his beautiful girl up and whirling her about in carefree euphoria, Scorpius was never so happy in his entire fucking life.

He immediately Apparated them to his bedroom, careful not to splinch, where he spent the rest of the day worshipping the woman of his dreams.

X~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~X

One week later…

She stared at him with hard, fury-glazed eyes, and Scorpius knew something was up, and not just any small thing, obviously. What had he done? It was silent between them, as he shifted his weight and nervously hid his hands once more in his pants pockets. "What's wrong, angel? Why'd you ask me to come here?"

Sitting at the wooden table in the The Burrow's kitchen (instead of the one at her own flat), she said nothing, merely stared across the hushed distance, clutching a handkerchief in one hand, her other laid limply across a folded piece of paper before her, tracks of salty sorrow trailing her rose-colored cheeks. To her right was the grandmother Weasley, Molly, and on the other side, Rose's mother, Hermione Granger-Weasley. Leaning against the counter nearby was her father, Ronald Weasley, arms crossed and his face filled with dark fury. The normally riotous home was eerily quiet, despite the fact that Scorpius knew this place was usually a noisy, bustling household, filled with bodies. He could only deduce, then, that this was something serious and that Rose had asked everyone else to either clear out or remain silent and give them what limited privacy there was to be had.

With an adroit movement, she shoved the paper across the polished, flat surface between them, indicating he needed to read something important contained within the correspondence. A pit in his stomach opened up as he stared at the familiar cream-colored stock. He recognized it as belonging to his grandmother's personal cache of stationery, which she neatly kept on her desk in her sitting room, next to her ink quill and bottle. It was the same paper that he'd first owl'd her with months ago, asking for their first date.

Reaching for it, he took the now vacant seat next to her, as the elder Mrs. Weasley stood and moved over to the sink, wanting to give them their space. "I love you, Rose," he told her bluntly, attempting to head off whatever damage the note may have (obviously had) caused. "No matter what this says, I love you. You're my everything, and nothing's going to change that."

A bitter sniff and smirk. "Read it."

What the hell had his family done this time to make her this upset? He was almost too afraid to open the note now. With trembling fingers, he unfolded the crease and read…

…and shot to his feet in a torrent of swearing, the likes of which had never passed his lips so fervently or violently before. He should have been appalled by such language in the company of ladies, but under the circumstances…

Shoving the note in his pocket, he pleaded his case. "I knew nothing about this, I swear to you. It's my grandfather's machinations, I'm sure, and most likely my mother's. My father would never do something like this to me, or my grandmother." His mind whirled a mile a minute as he quickly gathered his cloak and donned it again, knowing he had things to do immediately to rectify this mess. He reached down and yanked Rose to her feet by her arms, forcing her to face him. "I'm going to straighten this out right now. Don't you dare give up on me, angel, do you hear me? I'll fix this!" He kissed her passionately, uncaring of his audience, and then gripped her left hand as he relinquished his grip on her upper arms, kissing their engagement ring and stroking her knuckles. "Don't take this off! Please, just don't, Rose. I'll owl you soon. I promise."

With that, he stepped back, raised his wand, and Apparated back to the Manor House, unsure as to how he'd kept himself from having an accident during travel given how furious he felt.

X~~~~~X

"How dare you!" he hissed venomously at his grandfather, who sat calmly in his leather-backed reading chair in his private study, watching Scorpius like a shark moving in for the kill. Beside him stood his mother, Astoria, her arms crossed primly over her chest, her face set for a battle. "Call the whole thing off or I swear on Merlin's soul…"

"You'll do what exactly?" Lucius drawled supremely confident, smirking arrogantly. He knew he held all the power in the room like a bloody King across a parquet chessboard; knew his grandson was helpless to his influence and might and money.

But Scorpius had one gamble left. He threw it down now. "I'll disavow you and this whole fucking family," he threatened, meaning it to his core, uncaring about the use of profanities. His grandfather was out for blood, and this was a no-holds-barred fight for his very independence, so fuck him, Scorpius could say whatever the hell he felt like! "I'll petition the Ministry directly to change my name permanently," he continued. "I'll ask for a financial and legal emancipation from all familial obligations – including prearranged marriage contracts that were made without my consent."

His mother's pasty face turned a shade or two paler at the threat, then immediately flushed purple-red as she sucked in her breath, looking like she'd just been delivered a surprising slap. Lucius' eyes narrowed, but his leer grew more pronounced. "I think not, dear boy. First, it was perfectly within our rights as your guardians to secure a future for you, our family's wealth and the continuance of our Pureblood tradition while you were still under our guardianship. The prenuptial engagement to Katerina Yaxley was made when you were fifteen, and is legally binding." The man twirled his wand between his two hands, holding it trapped in between, staring at Scorpius like a cat who bats about a mouse for shites and giggles. "Second, you forget who it is that makes such generous donations to the Ministry so they may continue funding their pet projects. I own them all now. No one will grant you what you wish without my say-so."

Scorpius grit his teeth. "Just because you can move the rest of the world around like pawns doesn't mean you can do the same to me!" he shouted, his temper hitting the roof as his helplessness levels did likewise.

The toothy grin positively gleamed in the firelight from the hearth nearby. "On the contrary, grandson, I can." He flicked his wand to the side absently, tossing it down onto his large desk negligently. "You are going to marry the Yaxley girl. There's nothing you can do about it. End of discussion."

Despairing, Scorpius looked about for support, only to recall that his two staunchest allies were out of town at the moment. Draco Malfoy may not be one to counterman his father's influence on most decisions, but where his son was concerned, the man had played interference more than once in the games his grandfather and mother liked to play (if not for his father's insistence, in fact, he'd have been shipped off to Durmstrang instead of attending Hogwarts, and ironically, he'd never have met Rose). But his sire was currently away on a business trip in Paris and wouldn't be back for days. And his grandmother was off on one of her horticultural society's plant safaris to harvest wildly growing Aconite. This time, he was on his own.

Despite standing alone against one of the most powerful men in the wizarding world, still, Scorpius wouldn't give in. Eighteen years old he may only be, but he was a Malfoy, and he had been bred to be venomous, cunning and haughty. He stared down his mother first, giving her the most disgusted look in his arsenal, knowing she'd been the one to make the suggested alliance to begin with (he could see the triumph in her face). "You and I are finished, mother," he promised her. "I want nothing more to do with you from this second onward. Not ever again." Before she could respond, he turned cold, nasty eyes on his grandfather. "And as for you… we'll see, old man."

With that, he turned on his heel and left, not even bothering to shut the door behind him. He immediately Disapparated over to the Ministry, determined to seek out the only person he could think of that might know the laws better than he – Albus Potter, his last-ditch savior.

X~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~X

Two weeks later…

The five of them Floo'd into the Manor's Drawing Room, stopping just long enough to re-establish their conviction in the plan, and to bespell the soot from their clothes. They then turned together to head out into the main hallway.

At the door, however, Hermione Granger-Weasley (in another week to be just Hermione Granger again, as her own divorce proceedings were in the final stage of being approved by a judge) stopped and turned back, fixating on a space in the room against the far wall. In her distant gaze, Scorpius could tell that she was reliving some sort of memory, and it definitely wasn't pleasant by the shudder and the dark look that came into the angles of her pretty face. To his surprise, his father stepped up next to her and tentatively, his fingers brushed against hers down by their sides. Rose's mother turned her head and looked up at the man who, Scorpius had heard rumored, had once been her childhood rival – much as he had been for Rose. His father met the woman's stare passively, and there was a moment… something that sparked between them, an unspoken understanding. It passed quickly, but he'd seen it fleetingly and recognized it instantly as it was an emotion he'd become well-acquainted with over the past six-almost seven months.

The relatively recent pattern of strange behavior from his father – leaving in the middle of the day to head over to the Ministry (for "meetings" he'd said), the two weekends he'd taken "business trips" to Paris, the uncharacteristic whistling that would abruptly stop as soon as someone walked in the room, the almost unnoticeable (unless you were paying close attention, as Scorpius often did where his father was concerned) spring in his step – now made sense.

He turned a surprised glance on his grandmother and Rose, both of whom stood at his side, watching the events unfolding before them in silence. Both women had very small smiles that turned up the corners of their faces, and eyes that shimmered with knowledge and acceptance.

Taking Rose's hand firmly in his, Scorpius turned the three of them about to give his father and his witch their privacy. He cleared his throat after a minute or so, however, feeling pressed for time. "Ready?" he asked, and there was a chorus of affirmatives. With that, the group headed off to the study where they knew Lucius Malfoy would be.

X~~~~~X

"What is this?" his grandfather asked, affronted by the five intruders to his sanctuary. He was currently having drinks with Scorpius' maternal grandfather, Duglas Greengrass, who sat up on the couch and looked over in interest as soon as the door burst open. "How dare you come here without invitation and in such a manner?"

"Can it, father," Draco drawled, clearly not in any mood to be guffed back, and Scorpius was hard pressed not to be awed with his father's sudden hard line stance towards Lucius, to whom he'd almost always deferred. "We're here to discuss family business." His arctic grey eyes glided over to his father-in-law, impassive, not in the least bit doubtful that his requests would be honored. "Duglas, if you'll excuse us?" He clapped his hands once. "Sikes, please come here."

In an instant, their majordomo house elf appeared. "How may we serves the Master?" the creature intoned in a deep, nearly deadened voice.

"Please escort Mr. Greengrass here to the Floo and see him off at once," his father instructed their servant firmly. "Then, be so good as to find Lady Astoria and bring her here immediately."

The elf bowed low. "As you commands us, Master."

His grandfather's eyes practically bulged with indignation at being treated in such a manner, but he wisely kept his mouth closed, noting the rest of the company he was facing off against – particularly his wife. He knew why they were there with the inclusion of Rose, and it was clear to Scorpius from the man's body language, that he didn't care to discuss the issue of his forced arrangements for his grandson in front of his hawkish marital relation (so as to keep the rumors to a minimum, Scorpius was sure).

"Well, Lucius, we'll pick this up later, shall we?" his other grandfather took the direct hint. He pulled that bulk of his up off the settee, placed his half-filled crystal glass on the nearby side table, and shook hands with his contemporary. "Owl me when you have time. Perhaps we can meet at my house next time, where it's quieter."

The slight was clear, Lucius went with the flow as smoothly and coldly as the snake he was, though. "Of course, Duglas. I'd welcome the chance to have dinner with you and Marsha again soon." Scorpius noted that the acceptance of the invite significantly didn't include his grandmother, Narcissa – most likely as a result of the fact that the woman was clearly standing against him in the effort to come, given her approximation to the group that faced off against him. Scorpius could practically feel Mahmen's burning anger at the intentional snub.

Sikes waited for the rather portly Duglas to waddle towards the door, and then followed behind the man to make sure his assignment would not attempt to veer off course through the Manor House (the elf would certainly 'correct' the fat man if he attempted; their head house elf was deceptively vicious in personality - a product of his grandfather's treatment for too many years).

When it was obvious from the sound of fading footfalls that Duglas Greengrass was well out of earshot, Scorpius' grandfather turned his attention to the group, sneering at all of them. He then finished off his glass of Firewhiskey, set it down on his desk and resumed his seat in his favorite chair, staring at all of them with malice.

"How many times must I tell you, darling, that your face is going to freeze like that someday and then you'll be as ugly on the outside as you are on the inside," Narcissa stated humorlessly.

Sending a mental high-five to his grandmum, Scorpius fought to control his twitching lips. Lucius' attention swung from his wife to his grandson in seconds, his sharp eyes catching the movement. "You find her funny, boy?" he asked grimly. "Considering your predicament, I'd say you don't have much to laugh over anymore, do you?"

Rose squeezed his hand, reminding him not to rise to the bait. Scorpius stared impassively back at his paternal maestro and said nothing, waiting as they'd all agreed, until all parties were available. Thankfully, the insufferable silence didn't last more than a few minutes, and then Sikes popped back in with a snap, releasing his hold on Scorpius' mother's skirt. "What is the meaning of this?" his mother screeched indignantly, and then looked about, noting the group congregated about her. She immediately clamped her mouth shut and moved to stand closer to Lucius' massive oak desk, as if taking courage from her proximity to the man who shared her ideas of Pureblood fanaticism and who enjoyed manipulating people and situations equally as much as she. There's strength in sickness, Scorpius mockingly thought of the old proverb.

"Thank you, Sikes, that will be all for now," Draco dismissed the house elf, who bowed and with a snap of his fingers, left his masters and mistresses to their plotting, returning to the solace of the kitchens below.

With a deep inhalation of breath, Lucius attempted to assume control of the proceedings immediately, but it was Scorpius whom they had all agreed would be the one to lead this charge, and so he cut off his grandfather before the man could utter a single word. "I'll ask you one more time, Pepere: release me from the marriage obligation immediately. Allow me my freedom and don't interfere in my life. Please."

An acidic laugh barked loudly in the high ceilinged room. "Why don't you just show me what you think you have lording over me that can twist my arm in this matter, boy."

He sounded so self-assured that for a second – just a teensy, tiny one – Scorpius felt his stomach twist in fear and doubt. Rose's warm palm and her caressing fingers reminded him, however, what was on the line and his resolve instantly strengthened. Turning his head over his shoulder, he sighed heavily and nodded. He really hadn't wanted to do this, but it seemed there was no choice now. His grandfather would not be swayed; it was time to take out 'the big guns,' as Marcus used to be so fond of saying.

Hermione stepped forward with a thick envelope that was sealed with red wax and officially stamped by the Minister of Magic, himself. "Lucius Abraxas Malfoy," she began in her official magistrate voice, "You should know that in my hand I hold an Order for Malfoy Investments – of which you are currently the Head of the Board of Directors and C.E.O. - to Cease and Desist all Business and Commerce, pursuant to Section X, under the Department of Commerce's Rules and Regulation and under Title IV of the Gump Act. Should I serve these papers on you, Malfoy Investments, all of its institution-affiliated parties, and its successors and assigns, would be immediately ordered to cease and desist from conducting all securities and trade commerce, including the selling, trading or gifting of stocks, bonds, commodities, real properties, magical properties, and the issuance of credit to third parties. You and your corporate officers would then be required by law to appear before the High Court at the date set herein to answer the Order's charges before a judge of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement's London Office." She tapped the envelope against one palm and stared him down without flinching or fear, as calm as a summer day, secure in the fact that this time, the Ministry had this cat by the tail, balls and ears all at once.

"What madness is this?" Lucius shouted, shooting to his feet and reaching over the desk quickly to grab at the envelope. Hermione, however, stepped back once, continuing to tap the envelope in the same, slow, precise manner, undaunted. "How dare you falsely accuse…!" his grandfather pressed.

The tapping stopped and the Lead Prosecutor of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement held up her free hand to staunch the false tirade before it could launch itself off the ground. "The charges are related to your poor internal operating procedures, Mr. Malfoy. Specifically: the operating of a financial institution with a board of directors which has failed to provide adequate supervision over and direction to the executive management of the financial institution to prevent unsafe or unsound banking practices and violations of laws, rules and regulations; the operating of a financial institution with an ineffective system of internal controls to ensure ongoing compliance; and operating of a financial institution in violation of the Department of Commerce's Financial Recordkeeping Regulations." She cleared her throat. "In short, Mr. Malfoy, you and your company…" Here she paused and turned to Scorpius' mother. "Including its Board of Directors - of which I believe your father, Astoria, is a prominent member…" She turned back to Lucius. "Have committed acts that could be prosecuted under the law as willfully engaging in financial fraud. If convicted of all charges, it's an immediate ten year sentence in Azkaban - for each charge, per board member."

If it was possible for a Malfoy's face to become even whiter than genetics allowed, Scorpius' grandfather would have been as pale as a ghost – as translucent as The Bloody Baron, himself - at that moment. Very quickly, however, his eyes regained their shrewd light and narrowed. "And what proof do you or your Department have of such obviously erroneous charges, Mrs. Weasley?" he asked with politely crafted maneuvering, attempting sweet over vinegar now. It was an old ploy, and very obvious.

From his vantage point, Scorpius could see Rose's mother's profile, and the malicious smirk that drew upon her face would have made any Slytherin proud. He understood now why his father was smitten by this woman of such obvious greatness: the stories told of her facing down Death Eaters without flinching before, and Scorpius knew his family's history well enough by now to know that Lucius was included in that category many times over. "Aside from seizing your company's accounting books this evening before coming here, you mean?" she asked slyly. "There's also the written testimony from two inside traders, and a promise by another individual in upper management to testify against all of you in exchange for a lighter sentence if we go to trial."

She began tapping again as both Lucius and Astoria sat down almost simultaneously. The vindictive duo knew they were on the losing side this time; the proof was in their terrified expressions.

"Of course," Draco stepped forward, intervening, "You being served those papers, and those records being returned without further investigation is predicated on how cooperative you plan to be tonight, father." He turned towards his wife. "And your cooperation as well, wife of mine… to keep your own father out of prison."

Even disavowing her previously, Scorpius almost felt sorry for his mother then, seeing her stricken features. But then he recalled that she had never been a particularly nice woman and his sympathies lost significance quickly. Really, he felt no sincere love for the woman who had birthed him; he'd realized this truth in a moment of sad, strange enlightenment. Her affection towards him had always been one of passing interest. Astoria Greengrass-Malfoy had never taken an active concern with her only child, except as a situation affected the family status (her status) in society. She'd never nurtured him with cuddles or kisses. She'd never stood up for him against his grandfather's dominance. She'd only noticed him, in fact, when he was doing something she considered inappropriate that might bring embarrassment down on her head. She was a cold fish for a mother - more so than any piscine on the planet, incapable of even the most basic of biologic caretaking of her progeny.

As for how she'd treated his father… Scorpius felt doubly sorry for Draco Malfoy. Nineteen years ago, Astoria Greengrass had gotten all she had ever wanted – a marriage proposal from a wealthy Pureblood, and guaranteed financial security. According to his Mahmen (who had revealed everything to him this morning when he'd cornered her and asked for the whole truth about his dysfunctional family), his mother had tricked her way to the Malfoy altar by intentionally not taking her contraceptive potion and 'forgetting' to tell Draco that little fact; getting pregnant with Scorpius had been nothing but a means to an end for her. She had then barred her husband from her bed chambers for the last eighteen years to avoid having any further intimate relations with him (which explained Scorpius being an only child), and proceeded to cuckold him in a series of extramarital affairs over the years to give her the relief she needed. She'd denied his father everything that made a marriage good - her respect, her honesty, her love and her body (which explained the excessive drinking the man used to do when Scorpius was a young child, and later the resigned acceptance in his demeanor).

So, as he considered everything now, Scorpius knew that he didn't feel a lick of sorry for this plan of theirs. Karma was such a bitch, and his mother was on the receiving end of that well-deserved bite now.

And as for his grandfather… The man was a poisonous spider who deserved his miserable fate equally as much - probably more so if Scorpius was to believe half of the things attributed to the man. He almost wished Rose's mother would serve him with the papers so they could see him in jail, too. Indubitably, he deserved to rot away in a damp cell on the island that housed the worst wizarding prisoners in the world.

"What are you proposing?" Lucius finally yielded, albeit hesitantly. He hadn't fully committed to a course of action, that much was obvious from his face, but he didn't have any intention of not having an option out of the oh-so-obvious trouble that was staring him in the face, either.

It was Scorpius' turn again. He stepped forward with his own bundle of papers – official documents he and his father and grandmother, with Hermione's help, had requested a specialist lawyer in marriage and family issues write up and secure for him. He tossed the papers onto the desk now, watched the packet land with a thump into the middle of that dark walnut-stained executive surface and spoke in a no-nonsense, brook-no-backtalk tone. "The first one cancels the marriage contract you made on my behalf when I was a child. The second one insures my inheritance – including my right to the family titles, the ancestral homes and all tangible properties upon your and dad's passing, or upon my passing to my children. It stipulates my right to live here in the Manor for as long as I wish, as well as any spouse and children I want to bring in, making me a three way shareholder in this property's ownership effective immediately – the other two parts being you and my father. You won't be able to kick us out, boss us around, or sell the house out from under us. You also won't be able to do any major remodeling or landscaping, allow anyone else to live here, change the wards around the place, or even receive guests without the agreement of my father and I in advance. You will sign them both."

His father, in the meantime, turned and walked across to his wife, his own bundle of papers in hand. "I want you out of my hair, sweetness," he drawled menacingly, holding up his own packet of papers. "This is a nice, quiet, very final divorce agreement. You'll receive no reparations and no settlements. You came into this marriage with nothing, so you'll leave with nothing. And in return, I promise not to rake you and your family over the coals."

Astoria's eyes were wide with astonishment that turned quickly to fury. "Either way, you will ruin your reputation as well!"

Scorpius could just imagine his father's smirk – probably a mirror to the one his father's witch had donned earlier. "Like I care anything about the Malfoy name anymore. In fact, I'm thinking it might be high time for Scorpius and me to change ourselves over to 'Black' instead. What do you think, dad?" He gave his father a pointed look, letting him know that if the last two Malfoy men of an appropriate breeding age were to revert to his maternal grandmother's maiden name, there would be no heir and the Malfoy line would die out permanently – something Lucius would never abide by. His eyes widened in something akin to horror at that.

Narcissa was the last to step forward, her own divorce papers held out, almost reluctantly, but with eventual conviction. "All I ever wanted from you was love, Lucius, but you were never willing to give that to me. And now I'm old, and I've given up too many of my years hoping and praying for you to come to your senses. It's time I had my freedom from this pain. Let me live out the rest of my years with my plants and in peace."

To Scorpius' surprise, there was real regret and a touch of pain in Lucius' face at his wife's pronouncement. He didn't reach for her papers, but instead, watched in a sort of sad acceptance as Narcissa slid them across his desk to him, leaving them front and center so he could see everything he had lost by being such a hard, unbending, dishonest person throughout most of his seventy years of existence.

"The choice is yours, Mr. Malfoy, Astoria," Hermione offered, her voice never wavering from that brusque, business-like tone. "Sign these, and I'll make it all go away. Or, I'll serve you the Orders, and we'll watch you and Mr. Greengrass crash and burn happily… and then we'll still get our way in the end once you're in prison. We're giving you a choice to do the honorable thing here, though. I suggest you take us up on these generous offers - the both of you."

Thank Slytherin the Minister of Magic was a long-time ally of Hermione's from the war days. The man had agreed to this crazy scheme of theirs out of respect for their decades old friendship (and for the rebuilding of the wizarding world to which she, her soon-to-be ex-husband and her best friend, Harry Potter, had dedicated their lives). Without his agreement, none of this could have even been possible... because the papers were legit and carried the true weight of their threat fully. And, as the Minister promised, if Lucius wasn't served with the Order by tonight – if the eldest Malfoy and his daughter-in-law agreed to sign the other sets of papers right away - Shacklebolt would simply tear the Cease and Desist writ up and call off the investigation. Technically, that was illegal, but when you're the Minister of Magic, and a famous war hero, and you're good friends with every Department Head and judge, well honestly, who's not going to let you slip through the cracks every once in a while? Political clout was everything in the game of life, as Scorpius well knew, and having Kingsley Shacklebolt on their side was the equivalent of holding the Queen of England and the Muggle Prime Minister in your pocket.

As he stood grasping Rose's hand tightly in his, excited to see that their plan was actually going to work – his grandfather and mother both reached for quills and ink almost immediately – Scorpius realized just how lucky he was to have figured out in time how important love (love of friends, love of your mate, love of yourself, and love of your family) really was in the grand scheme of things. His grandfather and mother had missed that memo somewhere along the line, it seemed.

That arsehole Marcus had been totally wrong: love didn't crush you into submission - it freed your soul like a pair of honest-to-gods angel's wings, so you could find your inherent true potential and worth, and so you could pick a life path that was worth living… one without regret and filled with happiness.

When the last of the ink dried on the papers, he, Rose, his father, Hermione and his grandmother all filed out, taking their documents with them. Draco threw a parting shot over his shoulder to the two remaining bodies in the study, informing them that the solicitors would come to speak to them all on the morrow to assure that the terms of the divorce decrees and emancipation terms were carried out to the letter as soon as possible (which meant Astoria would be sent packing with pretty much only the clothes on her back, and Lucius' terrorizing reign of control over this family would finally end).

As they all Floo'd out to their separate destinations – Narcissa to stay with her long-time widowed sister, Andromeda, Draco and Hermione to… wherever they went for privacy, and Scorpius went with Rose to the flat she'd rented a few months before - it was a joyous, gratifying moment for all of them, as they were now all finally free.

X~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~X

Epilogue: Eight months later…

"Stop fidgeting!" Al scolded him in a whisper for the millionth time, throwing him that annoying fucking grin that made Scorpius want to bash in his best friend's teeth. "She's coming this way," the guy had the unmitigated audacity to point out.

Scorpius didn't bother with the "well, yeah, of course she is – duh!" that popped into his head, because at that exact moment, Rose looked up at him with those captivating aqua eyes of hers and his heart just stopped. He tugged at the collar of his dress robes one more time, trying to free up some space so he could actually breathe.

I love you! So what? Days are passing still, and the dawns are red as always. Everything is the same. Everything except me, because I love you...

To his right, his father nudged him hard, fiddling anxiously with his own new wedding band on his left hand. "Breathe, son. Just breathe. And don't lock your knees."

Right, right… locking the knees was bad, because you could faint if you did that. And how lame would that look, seriously? Especially with that obnoxious fuckwad of a former Housemate of his, Marcus Zabini, watching from the third row. Why had his father invited his best friend, Blaise, and the guy's huge family (who has nine kids anymore?) to the ceremony again? At the time of the drawing up of the guest list, Scorpius hadn't cared about who came or what they ate or what flowers they used for decoration. All he'd cared about was getting the ring Rose wanted, making sure he looked nice for her, and that the officiant was legit. But now, with Marcus grinning as queerly as Albus at him, he wondered if the two weren't his karmic 'reward' for having picked on Rose for so many years back in school.

He was locking his knees. Shit, he could feel it. But it was easy to get tense when you were staring down a seemingly never-ending aisle and all you wanted was your woman right there next to you NOW and to JUST GET ON WITH THE VOW THING. Keeping his weight lightly balanced was an easy trick for a former Seeker, however, who simply put the pressure on his toes instead. But the breathing part… Scorpius was still finding that to be a little difficult.

I'll promise you everything, everything you want, my skin, my bones, and the face you wish...

As his stunning, smiling bride was given over to him by her father, Scorpius took Rose's left hand in his and kissed the center of her palm gently. "Hi, angel," he murmured, his eyes roaming over every square inch of his beautiful fiancée, feeling like a man who'd been starved for too long (well, she had enforced the pre-wedding week of separation, which had nearly killed him with want!). "Shall we?" he asked cheekily, indicating the officiant standing in front of them waiting patiently for them to begin.

Rose nodded and her lips turned up in that special smile just for him once more. "Now would be nice, yes."

As one, they turned, they spoke the required words, they swapped rings, and within minutes (and to the tune of much clapping and cheering), Scorpius was finally warm and whole as he sealed their promise with yet another kiss. And it was raining again, only this time, they were soaked by magical, multi-colored bubbles exploding in the air all around them.

It may be elaborate fantasy, but it's the perfect place to start…

~FIN~