"Head girl!" Rose squealed loud enough for the entire house (and probably most of the neighbors) to hear her. In an instant, she had apparated before her mother, the brand new silver badge already attached to her pajamas. "Mum? Did you hear me?"

"I think your cousins could hear you," Hermione smirked, "but I'm very proud of you. I told you not to worry about it."

"Yeah, yeah, easy for you to say," Rose rolled her eyes at her mother's plain tone. "You didn't even go back to school the year you were supposed to be a 7th year." And without waiting for a response, Rose flew back up the stairs and into her bedroom to look through her book list for the year.

Hugo appeared at the door a moment later, a red badge in his hand. "You always have to up me, don't you?" He was shaking his head in annoyance, but was obviously hiding a wide smile as he twirled his own badge on two fingers.

"Hugh!" Rose squealed again with a delighted smile, "you got prefect?"

Hugo shrugged, but smiled as his sister jumped up to hug him. "Looks like you'll be my boss, though."

"Don't worry," Rose laughed, giving her brother a small dutch rub, "I won't be too much harder on you than the rest of the little newbie prefects."

Her brother rolled his eyes. "Oh, thanks so much."

Rose suddenly gasped. "Did you tell Mum?" But before he could answer, Rose was screaming again, "Mum! Hugo's a prefect!"

"All right," Rose turned to her brother as they approached the express, "you go put your things down. I'm going to go straight to the prefect carriage and find out whom they made Head Boy. Come join me for the meeting before the train starts moving."

"Yes, ma'am," Hugo retorted with the same sarcasm he had been using for the past month. Rose didn't understand why he was acting that way. She was just trying to make sure he knew what he was doing. She watched her brother kiss his parents goodbye and sulk off toward a back car.

Rolling her eyes at her brother's immaturity, Rose turned to her parents with a smile. "Bye, Dad. Mum."

"Bye, sweetie. You will be brilliant." She kissed Rose's forehead. "Don't let your new responsibilities affect your studies, and just ignore—"

"Bloody hell, who did Malfoy pay off this time?" Rose looked up at her father, who was staring a few yards behind her. Scorpius Malfoy was walking toward the train, his parents a step behind. Pinned to his chest was a badge matching Rose's, Head Boy glaring in what little light was on the platform.

Without a word, though her badge must have been gleaming just as much as his, the family walked past her own, toward the train. She watched as Scorpius's mother kissed the top of his head, just as Rose's had just done, but it somehow looked forced. His father, on the other hand, just looked at him. Rose couldn't tell what he was saying, but he kept glancing down at Scorpius's blue and bronze striped tie. Whatever he was saying, it was clearly strained and lost on his son, who just nodded absentmindedly and stepped into the first car of the express, where the prefect carriage was.

"Well, bye, then," Rose said to her parents, leaning toward her father for a small hug before turning and walking toward the train.

"Don't let him bother you!" Her mum whisper-shouted to her as she walked away.

"Give out more detentions than him!" her dad shouted. Rose smirked as she approached the train and threw her trunk aboard, "but not to your brother or cousins!" he added. Rose shook her head and laughed, stepping onto the train, lifting her trunk, and moving into the prefects' carriage.

Scorpius Malfoy was sitting in the Head Boy's chair looking far too comfortable. He smirked as Rose entered the carriage. "Why am I not surprised?" she glared, dropping her trunk to the ground at her feet.

"Same to you," he stood from his seat and approached her so quickly she barely saw him move. In an instant, he had her around the waist, pulled into his body, his lips against hers.

As soon as she realized what had just happened, she pushed him away. "Are you crazy?" she scolded, barely above a whisper. "My parents are right there," she pointed out the window, " and my brother will be joining with Albus in here any second. He's made Prefect this year."

Scorpius's arms dropped to his sides, defeated. "Looks like the Prefect bathroom's not even safe this year." Rose ignored this remark, moving toward the chart in the back of the carriage, on which they would be writing the prefects' first duties. "I thought the secrecy would end now that James is gone."

"Please," Rose was looking through the list of prefects, now, making sure she knew everyone's strengths and weaknesses, "Hugh will write to my Mum the moment he finds out. Dad will have you killed."

"Lily and Albus haven't told anyone," Scorpius pointed out, as if this proved some unnamed point.

"Lily knows when to keep her mouth shut," Rose stated, plainly, "and Albus wouldn't dare tell anyone. He's afraid of me." She knew all of the new prefects' names in passing, though she would have to learn more about Annie Matthews from Hufflepuff and Dorfin Carrow from Slytherin before she knew how to assign them.

"So," Rose glanced at the Head Boy, realizing he was speaking from the same chair he had occupied when she first entered the compartment, "you're never going to tell anyone else?"

"What do you expect, Scorpius?" Hugo and Lily had some classes with Annie and Dorfin. She could ask them a bit about them—find out who they were friends with, at least. "Think we're going to be together after Hogwarts? Get married some day?"

She expected a quick retort, or at least a laugh. When he said nothing, she couldn't help but look up at him. But he wasn't looking back at her. He stared at the floor, brow wrinkled as if in thought. After a moment, he must have noticed her looking at him out of the corner of his eye. He broke into a forced smile and laugh.

Something in her stomach leapt to her throat. She put down the papers about the new prefects and stepped toward him, studying his every movement. "Scorp, I—"

The door to the compartment opened only slightly and Albus's voice rang through the compartment, "Everything PG in here?" He must have been trying to stop Hugo from looking inside, but opened the door the rest of the way a moment later and Hugo showed up by his side.

"Yeah," Hugo agreed and Rose twirled around at once. Did Hugo know, after all? "you two haven't gone unforgivable on each other yet, have you?" He followed Al into the compartment, pulling the leg off a chocolate frog and stuffing it in his mouth. "I wouldn't want to miss that." He tossed a card at her as he took her Head Girl seat next to Scorpius. "Got Dad again."

She glanced down at the card in her hand, her head spinning. Her father was smiling up at her—the same wide smile he gave her whenever she made him proud. It was an old picture, taken a couple years after the war ended, when he and Uncle Harry were new Aurors. He was so proud to be asked to be on a Chocolate Frog card—it had always been a secret dream of his. Rose had found the huge stack he kept of his cards in his office when she was seven. He had every card of himself he had come across, several of Mum, and a few of Uncle Harry. After her first year, Rose had given him a large pile she had collected over the year to add to his own. This had become a tradition ever since.

"Up," Rose demanded of her brother as another small group of prefects entered the carriage. When he just laughed and stayed immobile, she warned, "don't make me give you Hogsmeade duty all year."

"You wouldn't dare," Hugo stated, but stood from her seat, nonetheless. "Uncle George would slip U-No-Poo into your butterbeer if you stopped his favorite nephew from visiting. He plans his schedule between the shops on our Hogsmeade visits."

"Favorite nephew? Please," she let out a soft chuckle at the thought, "James had that role ever since he melted down a puking pastille with his toy wand and put it in Albus's bottle when he was three weeks old. Sorry, Al," she added with a glance at her cousin.

Albus shrugged. "He's done worse."

"Anyway," Rose looked around, realizing the carriage was now full of students wearing colored badges, "looks like it's about time to get started." She avoided looking toward the Head Boy chair as she began explaining the prefects' goals for the year.

"Well, if there aren't any more questions and Scorpius has nothing left to add," she glanced his way just to see him shake his head slightly and she struggled not to roll her eyes, "then you know your duties. Go patrol."

As the prefects filed out, Rose turned to her fellow Head. "What is your problem?" she demanded. "You couldn't say a single word that entire meeting?"

And for the first time since the prefects had entered the carriage, Scorpius looked directly at Rose. His eyes were narrowed and slightly puffy. "Oh, so now you care what I have to say?"

She could not avoid rolling her eyes this time. He was being such a drama queen. "And what's that supposed to mean?"

He looked like he was fighting with himself—resisting the urge to explode. "You never asked me if I wanted to keep us a secret. Never asked me if I was okay lying to everyone about where I disappeared to at the same time nearly every day. Never asked if I was okay with you going on dates with Roger Newt so nobody would suspect you were hiding something." It was clear he had been holding this back for nearly two yearsover a year. "But I didn't care," he was close to tears now, "because I knew you looked up to James. You didn't want to disappoint him. And, blimey, at least, Albus, Lily, and Mona knew." He glanced up at her at last. She wanted to respond, but had no idea what to say. "I get it," he stated, reading her, "we're supposed to be enemies. Fighting for top marks and head spots and now valedictorian . . . "

"You think that's what this is about?" She stared at him, amazed by the shock on his face. "Our parents hate each other—like absolutely despise everything about each other. Your father's best friend tried to kill both of my parents. Your grandfather almost had my aunt killed, tried to bring my uncle to his death and stood by with your father as my mother was tortured and almost killed. I don't give a shit about the competition. I don't want my parents to think I've turned on them—forgotten what they've been through."

"But I'm not—"

"Your father, I know." It was Rose's turn to be close to tears. "You don't even get along with your father. I know that, and so do Lily and Al. It's how I can stand you, and why they don't really mind you. But old prejudices don't die easily."

"You can stand me?"

"Oh, come on, Scorpius. You know this whole thing started out of the heat of competition. So yes, I can stand you and your snarky remarks and slick hair and scrawny arms and hollow grey eyes and…" he looked up at her, meeting her eyes with a slight grin, and her stomach floated into her chest, "mischievous smirk and nearly equal intelligence…"

He stepped toward her, his eyes locked on hers and his smirk only growing stronger. "Like you're any more pleasant? That red bushy hair and know-it-all attitude and…" he placed a hand on her waist and yanked at her sweater, "perfectly altered uniforms and—"

"Oh, shut up," and they were kissing more intensely than they had since they first started sneaking around. They were enemies again—caught in a moment that neither of them expected but were unable to resist. Scorpius made his way into Rose's back pocket. She could feel him smiling as he pulled some Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder from it and the room was suddenly pitch-black.

Moments later, they heard the door slide open and sprang apart. "Rose?" Hugo's voice came from the doorway and a small ray of light fell into the room. "Are you still in here?"

"Yeah," Rose struggled to brush through her hair with her left hand as she searched the ground for her wand with her right, "we were just going through some papers when some of Uncle George's powder fell out of my pocket and I dropped my wand." She hoped he could not tell how breathless she felt, though he could also relate it the fright of being stuck in the dark.

Scorpius grabbed her hand and placed her wand into it. He must have found hers while searching for his own. She whispered a quick "thanks" as she made her way to the door, doing a silent spell to fix her appearance before entering into the light of the next train. The darkness powder was just starting to lift and she got a glimpse of Scorpius's messy hair and sideways tie as she slid the door closed behind her. As she turned toward her brother, she prayed he could not see the blush filling her face. Luckily, he had already started walking toward their usual compartment, where Lily, Mona, and some other friends were waiting to see her.

"So what are you going to do?" Mona asked as she turned down the covers on her bed.

"Be even more careful, I guess," Rose replied with a sigh. "It was probably always a bad idea to use the prefect bathroom, anyway."

"But that tub!" Mona moaned in awe, making Rose blush as she climbed into her bed. There was a moment's silence. "Do you—" she stopped, suddenly, seeming nervous to speak.

Rose looked toward her friend from her bed. "What?"

"I just—" she took a breath before continuing, "maybe Scorpius is right."

"Scorpius? Right?" She said it as if it was a very strange concept, forcing Mona to let out a small chuckle.

"But really," Rose noticed her friend's forehead was scrunched. She must have been really concentrating on something. "If you just told people…"

"You know I can't do that." Why did everyone suddenly have a problem with keeping secrets?

"You never know," Mona argued. "Maybe your family won't mind as much as you think. Your mum is always saying that everybody's equal, no matter what, and—"

"But this isn't about blood status or creature rights. It's history and betrayal and—"

"A person being judged based in his family history. Several members of your own family came from families that were known for being dark, and they were accepted without another thought. Isn't James named after somebody like that?"

"Middle name. But it's not the same."

"Yes, actually, it is."

"Just drop it, okay?" Mona did not respond, leaving Rose to turn over in her bed and fall into her own thoughts. Was she being ridiculous? No. Her parents hated Draco Malfoy. Her whole life, her dad was pushing her to be better and smarter than Scorpius. She was supposed to be better than him—too good for him. Any sign of anything else, and her father would be heartbroken and disappointed. She was doing the right thing in keeping this from him and her mother. She was saving the whole family from drama and heartache. It was best this way.

"And who can tell me the difference between Human Transfiguration and Animagism?" Professor Caltermon asked the class one day a couple weeks into the term. Rose threw her hand into the air, confident that she was the first to do so. "Very well, then, Mr. Malfoy?" Rose sighed and turned around to look at Scorpius. Indeed, he was letting his hand fall from above him, where it had also been anxiously awaiting notice.

A small grin surfaced on his face as he opened his mouth to speak. He loved showing off to professors. "An Animagus can only transform into one designated animal, but can do so at will, without the use of the wand. The process of becoming an Animagus often takes years and is therefore very rarely done. The animal form a person takes on becomes a part of the person and thoughts and memories can transform with the Animagus. However, an Animagus can only partially communicate with other animals when in animal form, as they are still primarily human. Animals can often tell the difference and do not trust Animagi."

He paused and glanced at Rose, his smile growing slightly larger when he saw her narrowed eyes focused on him. "With Human Transfiguration, on the other hand, a wand is necessary, but a human can become whatever the caster wishes. When transformed, an animal can fully communicate with other animals. They cannot tell the difference between a transfigured person and another animal."

Professor Caltermon was nodding as Scorpius finished. "Very good," he stated, "ten points for Ravenclaw." He turned back to the class and looked vaguely surprised to see Rose's hand in the air once again. His surprise fell into a grin, however, as he said, "Miss Weasley, do you have something to add?"

"Yes, Professor." She fought the urge to turn and look at Scorpius as she spoke, determined to face forward and speak directly to her professor. "While Mr. Malfoy is correct in his assertions, he forgets a crucial aspect of Human Transfiguration." She paused, wondering if it was appropriate to go on. Professor Caltermon, however, waved his hand, motioning her to continue. "The reason animals cannot tell the difference between a human transfiguration and another animal is because there is, for all purposes, no difference. A transfigured human has no memory of his life prior to the transfiguration and no human abilities. Another must transfigure them again before they can regain powers or human thoughts. For this reason, most people prefer partial transfiguration, which is much more obvious than an Animagus would be, but allows the transfigured to maintain human aspects and power."

"And for this reason," Professor Caltermon responded, again nodding as she finished her correction, "I implore you not to try these spells outside of the classroom from this point forward. Like Miss Weasley so intelligently stated, you will not be able to undo a full human transfiguration on your own." He stepped toward his desk and picked up the textbook for the term. "And ten points to Gryffindor, of course," he added as he opened his book.

While the rest of the class was distracted, she took the chance to turn and look at Scorpius. His mouth hung slightly open, his eyes narrowed at her. She caught his eye and returned the grin he had given her moments before. His mouth shut tight as he shook his head slightly, tearing his eyes from her and toward his own book, which already lay open on his desk.

Rose took her time gathering her things at the end of class. She was hoping Professor Caltermon would mention something about her corrections during class. To her disappointment, he left without so much as a word to her, leaving her alone in the room with just Mona and Albus waiting by the door. With a sigh, she finally stepped toward them and led the way out the door.

"Good class today," Mona said as the door shut behind them. "It's a shame nobody managed to transfigure themselves.

"Scorpius had a pig's nose at one point," Albus stated, "and I thought I saw Marly change a shade more yellow."

Rose rolled her eyes. "Marly was trying to transform into a bluebird," she informed them, "and Scorpius's nose only changed after I shrunk my eyes to a lemur's size." They just walked on, without responding. "Besides, nobody's expected to get it first class. It's very difficult magic. That's why it is not taught until seventh year."

"Yes, Rose," Mona sounded annoyed, "we know. You've told us at least ten times."

Rose thought she saw a door just ahead of them open slightly but nobody walked in or out. She stared at it for a minute, but there was no further movement. She turned back to Mona and Albus as they passed the door. "I'm sorry. I just think—"

An arm stretched out of the door and grabbed hers, pulling her into the room. She caught a glimpse of blond hair before the door shut behind her and she was engulfed in darkness. "Lumos," a voice spoke just in front of her and a light sprang from the end of a wand. Scorpius's face lit up in the light from his wand, a mischievous smile on his face. "You just had to correct me."

Rose listened to the hallway for a moment, curious if Mona and Albus reacted to her sudden disappearance. She heard their laughter that she knows so well getting softer as they continued and guessed they had caught the same glimpse of blond as she had. She turned her attention to the boy in front of her and reached out to straighten his tie. "Well, that was risky," she returned his smile.

He took a step toward her and Rose took a step back ad bumped into the door behind her. Scorpius stretched his arms out on either side of her, pinning her against the door, his lit wand resting just above her head. "I thought you left the class late on purpose."

"I did." Her eyes fell to his lips as her hand traced the lining of his sweater. "I was hoping for some recognition for fixing your mistake." She watched his lips curve again as he let out one small chuckle.

His arms bent slightly as he took another small step toward her. "Always jumping at the chance to show me up, aren't you?"

"Well," she clenched his sweater in her fist, "clearly one of us has to do the jumping." The last thing she saw before closing her eyes was Scorpius's smile widen as she tugged on his sweater, closing the space between them.

He responded immediately, dropping his wandless hand behind her head and pulling her further into the kiss. He pulled away a moment later, whispered a soft "Nox," and dropped his wand as the little light there was in the room fell into darkness and his lips found hers again. His newly-freed hand found its way to Rose's back and he pulled her toward him even more, as if he never wanted to let her out of his grip.

Rose woke one morning with three weeks left before Christmas break to find a new notice posted in the common room. The second Hogsmeade visit of the year would take place the weekend before the break. Rose had spent the first Hogsmeade weekend in The Three Broomsticks with Mona, Albus, Hugo, and Lily after visiting her Uncle George at Weasley's Wizard Wheezes. Scorpius had decided to stay at school on Prefect Duty. They would have to stay with their separate group of friends during this trip, as well.

"I was thinking," Mona began as they walked with Albus to Potions that morning, "we should visit the Shrieking Shack again. We haven't been there since our fourth year."

"I don't know," Albus's eyes were narrowed nervously, "that place gives me the willies."

"Oh, come on, Al," Mona pleaded, "you know it's not haunted. Your father—"

"—watched my namesake get murdered in there."

"Middle name," Rose reminded him, rolling her eyes. They had reached the dungeon, where their fellow NEWT-level Potions students were standing outside their classroom, waiting for Professor Norwing to arrive. "And I think we should—"

"Hey, Rose." Danny Macmillon was standing next to Rose, hands folded nervously around the books in his hands. "I didn't mean to cut you off. You can finish your conversation." He looked regretful.

Rose gave him a reassuring smile. "Don't worry about it, Danny. What can I do you for?"

"Well, the date for the next Hogsmeade weekend was posted today," he began, watching the floor as he spoke, "and I was wondering if, maybe, you'd like to go with me?"

"I, er," she looked around him to Scorpius, who had been watching, but turned away when he saw her glance; clearly, he had been listening. She looked back to Danny, unsure of what to say. "I might already have plans for that weekend." His face fell as the rejection hit him. Rose felt forced to add, "Can I give you my answer later?"

"Yeah." A small grin appeared on his face. She had made him feel like he had a chance—maybe she really did just have other plans that she would try to cancel. "No problem." And he stumbled away toward Scorpius, who was trying, with difficulty, to welcome him without detestation. Rose watched them for a moment, unsure of how she was going to handle this situation.

"So," Mona interrupted her thoughts, "is that a no to the Shrieking Shack idea, then?"

She tore her eyes away from Scorpius and Danny to look at her friend. "I'm not sure."

"After all that complaining about secrets," Albus said, watching Scorpius and Danny, "he didn't even tell one of his best friends."

"They aren't that close," Rose replied, resisting the urge to look in their direction again. "At least, Scorpius doesn't think they are."

"So, you two actually talk, then?" Mona asked, sounding surprised. "I thought it was just a lot of physical…"

"Yeah," Rose sighed, "we do."

"So," she sounded skeptical now, "what are you going to do?"

But before Rose could answer her, Professor Norwing rushed into the dungeon, ushering the students inside. "Sorry for the delay. Inside, inside. Turn to page three hundred and ninety-four."

Rose sat in an empty classroom with Scorpius, going over the duties for the remainder of time before Christmas break and evaluations from the past few weeks. She threw a paper toward the blond boy, "you do Hugo's. I can't evaluate my brother." He took the evaluation without complaint, but a moment later, she was throwing a second at him. "Albus, too."

"Fine," Scorpius retorted spitefully, "then take two of mine." He took two random papers from the pile and tossed them to her. "So," he began as he started on Hugo's evaluation, "who's taking Hogsmeade duty this time? I was thinking—"

"You're not doing it twice in a row," Rose responded, without looking up at him. "You need to have a little fun." She put the evaluation she had just finished aside and pulled out the next.

"No," Scorpius said, "I was going to ask if you wanted to take it this time."

"I can't." It came out more definite than she had intended. "I already made plans." She chanced a look up at Scorpius, who had completely abandoned his evaluations and was studying her. She looked back down at her papers, pretending not to have noticed his watchful eyes. "Can't we just give it to the two prefects with the worst evaluations or something?"

He let out a forced laugh. "I guess that could work."

They worked in silence for a couple of minutes.

"So," Scorpius began with uncertainty, "what are your plans for Hogsmeade, then?"

Rose had known this question was coming. Still, she was unsure of how to answer it. She knew what he was really asking her. But she had not decided if she would meet Danny yet. But if she said this, it would seem as if she was asking him what she should do. That was definitely a power she did not want him to have. "Well, Mona wanted to visit the shrieking shack, but I might just leave her to force Al into that one."

"You have other plans, then?"

She didn't think she could avoid it any longer. She could either make up her mind or explain her uncertainty. "I'm not sure."

This seemed to confirm his fears just as much as an affirmative answer would have. His face fell into a contorted sort of grin, as if he was struggling to show any emotion but pain. "What's not to know?"

"Oh, come off it!" She was not sure what had come over her, but she could not help raising her voice. She was the one considering seeing someone else, yet somehow his pretending not to know about it seemed to hurt just as much. "I saw you listening when Danny asked me to meet him. You can't just sit here and pretend to know nothing of my possible plans."

Her outburst seemed to have lit a fire under Scorpius, as well. His contorted grin had transformed into a scowl. "But why so unsure?" He was practically screaming at her. "Why not just run and tell him you'd love to go out with him? Not like there's anything holding you back."

Her rage deflated as quickly as it had come. She stared, dumbstruck, at the boy in front of her—the boy who, just a few days before, had pulled her into an empty classroom much like the one they were in now, only to resurface an hour later, hair messy and clothes askew. "You want me to go out with him?"

His features seemed strangely blank. There was no sign of any type of emotion on his face anymore. "If that's what you want to do, then yes."

"You know that's not what I want to do." She was handing him the power she had swore she wouldn't give him. But he wasn't taking it. "I just can't think of an excuse not to go…" She had realized that she wanted Scorpius to tell her not to go. She wanted him to reason with her—beg her to turn Danny down.

"Then, go." His emotionless face remained in tact, making each word sting even more.

Rose struggled to keep her eyes from tearing, though they were putting up a good fight against her. "Fine, then." She passed her finished pile of evaluations to her co-Head, stood up, and strolled out of the room without another word.

Only after the door had closed tightly behind her did she let her eyes win their fight. She leaned against the wall, letting the tears fall down her cheeks, soaking her robes. She stayed there for several minutes, unable to move. With a sniff, she pushed away from the wall and hurried down the hall toward the Gryffindor common room. The last thing she needed was for Scorpius to walk out of the room and find her in this condition.

"You're sure you want to go through with this?" Mona asked for what felt like the hundredth time as they approached the entrance hall, where Rose was about to meet Danny.

"Leave it alone, Mona," Hugo replied for his sister. "You act as if one Hogsmeade trip without Rose is the end of the world."

Mona gave him a look that would make anyone thankful she was not a basilisk. After a moment, she directed a similar look to Lily, who took the hint immediately. "Hey, Hugh," she started, being a bit too obvious about the subject change, "did you ever get that new permission slip? They almost didn't let you go last time."

"What?" The switch seemed to have confused him. "Yeah, I have it right—" he reached into his pocket. His hand resurfaced, empty. "Blimey, I must have left it in my trunk." And he took off, trotting, toward his dormitory.

With a sly grin, Lily, raised her hand to show Hugo's signed permission slip. "He didn't even feel it rising out of his pocket. I swear he's getting thicker every day," she said to the laughter that greeted her from the others. "But, really, Rose," her tone was suddenly serious, and Rose stopped laughing immediately, "you can still say you changed your mind. Come with us, instead."

"Yeah," Albus agreed, "Danny will be fine. And Scorpius—"

"Scorpius," Rose retorted with a snort, "has barely even talked to me in two weeks. He has nothing to do with this." But even as she said it, she knew it was a lie. In fact, Scorpius was the reason she could not back out. She could not let him affect her like this. He did not have this power over her. "This is just about Danny and me."

She did not have a chance to take in her friend and cousins' skeptical looks; they had just reached the entrance hall, where a line was formed for approval for the trip. In front of it stood Danny Macmillon, smiling and holding a hand out for Rose to take. She stepped toward him, careful not to take his hand but also not to awkwardly avoid it, as the others joined the line. Danny must have assumed she had not noticed his hand, and placed it on the small of her back as he turned to face the line and gestured toward it with his other hand. "Shall we?"

And suddenly, despite how sure she had been moments before that this was the right choice, she realized she could not go through with it.

Two hours later, Rose found herself sitting alone on the floor of the same empty classroom she and Scorpius had worked in a two weeks before, looking over the upcoming week's assignments for the fifth time. She was not sure why she was still sitting in this room, pretending to be busy. She could probably make far better use of her time by going up to the Gryffindor common room and starting homework. But somehow, a room deserted except for the first and second year students who were still too young to attend Hogsmeade visits did not sound very appealing to her.

Rose jumped when she heard a voice come from the open doorway that she was sure she had closed. "Thought you'd be in Hogsmeade with Danny." She looked up to find Scorpius standing there, leaning against the doorway with a victorious grin.

Rolling her eyes, she went back to rechecking the assignment sheets in her hands. "Thought you didn't care."

He disregarded this. "Imagine my surprise when I made my way into the Three Broomsticks to find him in there, alone, claiming you had too much Head Girl work to do before the break to go to Hogsmeade with him." He glanced at the papers in her hands. "So, what's all this work you have to do before break?"

She sighed, throwing her papers aside in frustration. "I just changed my mind, all right?"

He disregarded this, as well. "Trying to beat me to the new duty chart, are you? I'm not taking morning duty." His grin was starting to irritate her.

"Yes, exactly." She pulled one of the papers back toward her, determined to distract herself from this conversation. "I deserted my date to make sure you had early morning duty."

"Typical." His sly grin had only grown larger. "Unless, of course, there's another reason."

"Nope," she stated, without looking up from the papers in her hands. "That's pretty much it." She made a random mark on the top paper. "You caught me."

"Oh, just say it."

She glanced up at him. His grin had faded slightly as he waited urgently for her to respond. But as she went back to the papers, she responded, "I have no idea what you're talking about."

He pushed off the wall and took a couple steps toward where she sat in the center of the room. "You know you want to say it." He sat on the floor beside her and removed the papers she had been pretending to work on from her loose grip, pushing them to the side without a glance at what they even were.

She glared at him. What if she really had been working on something important? "Ok, fine," she glanced down at his blue and bronze striped tie and tried to hide the small grin that was trying to creep onto her face, "Scorpius, I—I just- you see—" She couldn't hold the grin anymore. "It's because he's a Ravenclaw."

Scorpius looked dumbstruck. "A Ravenclaw?"

Her smile just widened as she clarified, "I could never, ever date a Ravenclaw."

After a moment of confusion, he let out a chuckle and a grin fell onto his face again. "You're really something else, Weasley."

She smiled up at him, her eyes daring. "So what are you going to do about it?"

He reached toward her, holding her chin as he inched closer. "Just this," and he finished the action, locking their lips in a kiss as he transferred his hands to her back. Her arm found their spot around his neck as he pulled her body toward his and she wrapped her legs around his waist.

All thoughts of Danny Macmillon and the fact that she had not spoken to Scorpius in two weeks were gone from her mind. This felt right. And right now, that was all that mattered.

"The way you eat, the house-elves will be running out of food any moment now," Rose informed her brother as he reached for his fourth helping of ribs a couple nights later.

"Com' o' it," he responded through a full mouth, accidently spitting some sauce onto the table in the process. He quickly chewed and swallowed, wiping his mouth on the sleeve of his robes. "You know they have an unlimited supply."

"Seemingly unlimited," Lily said, taking Rose's side at once, "but not if you keep this up."

Hugo rolled his eyes. "The house-elves want us to eat as much as possible. Dad said he used to go down to the kitchen and they would just load him with treats and anything he wanted."

"My point," Rose retorted with a sigh. "is you're going to burst if you don't—"

She was cut off by an elbow to the ribs from Mona. "Leave it alone, Rose." Rose looked at her friend, prepared to scold her for cutting her off and getting involved, but she was not looking back a Rose, or even at Hugo. She was looking toward the end of the Gryffindor table, where Scorpius Malfoy was making his way through the isle toward their spot. Mona forced her eyes back toward Hugo and ordered him to "eat whatever you'd like."

And Rose could not argue because a moment later, Scorpius was standing there, staring down at her and all she could think about was her urge to smack him. This was not laying low.

"Hey, Rose?" he started nervously, glancing around at the group. And they were not the only ones staring at him. It seemed like half of the Great Hall had stopped what they were doing to see what Scorpius wanted to see Rose about. Or maybe that was just in her head. "Could you meet me in the Trophy Room after supper? We need to—err—" What was he doing? He was about to ruin everything.

Luckily, Albus took it upon himself to be Rose's savior this time. "You two still haven't figured out that communication during break thing you were telling me about? You've been working on it for days." Rose could have kissed him if it wouldn't make the situation all the more obvious.

Instead, she gave him a quick smile that she hoped showed her gratitude and changed to a scowl as she faced Scorpius. He needed to know she did not appreciate the situation he had just put her in. "Fine. I'll see you then." It was a dismissal and Scorpius caught on. He left the group without another word and trotted to the table where his fellow Ravenclaws sat.

Rose looked at her brother, who seemed to be studying her, hard. "Weird," was all he said after a moment of this.

"What's weird?" She didn't mean for it to come out so nastily. She needed to control her temper, especially when it had to do with this secret.

"That's the most upset you've been with Scorpius all year," he stated, still watching her, "and I'm not even sure what you're upset about, to be honest."

"Trust me," she stated with a huff, "I've been angry with him plenty this year. You're not around me all the time little brother." It was the truth. She had been angry with Scorpius multiple times already this year. Just not in the way she was trying to imply.

"Well I think he's growing on you, RoseyRosie." There was silence for a moment before Hugo started laughing. The rest joined in, and Rose prayed her brother did not notice how forced everyone's but his own laughter really sounded.

The topic of Scorpius did not arise again for the rest of the meal. And as they stood to leave, nobody was surprised when Rose announced she would meet them in the common room later that evening.

"Careful, Rose," Hugo warned with a grin as he stood from his spot, wiping his mouth one last time, "don't let him pull you in."

"Oh, Hugo," Lily spat back at him, rolling her eyes, "grow up." She stormed off out of the room, Hugo following behind, looking confused. Albus and Mona stayed behind for a moment until Rose gave a small reassuring smile. Then they followed the others and Rose left through the opposite exit, heading toward the trophy room.

Scorpius was already in the room when Rose pulled the door open and let herself in. He smiled and reached forward, but she held out her arms to hold him back. "Hugo's catching on," she warned.

Scorpius's arms fell to his side and he took a step back, defeated. After a moment, he spun around and ran a hand through his hair. Rose listened to him let out a long sigh and thought she heard a hidden "good" under his breath.

"Excuse me?" She had to have heard wrong. Maybe she was imagining it, because she was sure he had agreed keeping this a secret was for the best.

But as Scorpius turned to face her again, his face was full, not of nerves as she had expected, but of defiance. "I said, 'good'." She stood, shocked, but daring him to continue. "How many times do I have to tell you I'm sick of the secrets? I deal with it because I'd rather be with you like this than—" he let himself fade out as he took another deep breath. "Maybe if your brother knew, everything would be different."

"Yeah," Rose was shouting again. How did it always end up this way? "it would be different," she agreed. "We wouldn't be able to have—" she paused, unsure of how to continue, "—whatever we have going on here, because my father would have me watched to make sure I stayed away from you. And your grandfather would probably try to have me killed."

"You don't know that."

"Oh, yeah?" It was Rose's turn to look stern and defiant. "Let's see you do something about it, then."

Scorpius looked dumbstruck. He clearly had no idea what she meant by that. "What are you—"

But Rose was not going to let him get a full sentence in now. "All this talk about how terrible I am for keeping this a secret. All you want to do is be open and honest. I don't see you running around and telling anyone, either."

And suddenly, it was as if they were competing to see who could scream louder. "Because you always said—"

"Oh, come on, Scorpius." She was close to tears now, but she would not let them fall. She knew this scene only too well at this point. "If you had really wanted to tell anyone, you would have. At least my best friends know. You've told no one."

He took another step back and lowered his voice, but his eyes were narrowed now. "Well, excuse me for following your orders."

"Since when did you ever listen to anything I asked?" Rose was not going to back down. All year, he had made her feel like the bad guy—like she was trying to keep him a secret when he just wanted to shout it to the world. It was a complete lie. Everything was a complete lie. "You've been just as scared to tell anyone as I have." She paused, watching as his composure faltered at the words. "Maybe more."

"Yeah," he was staring at the ground, hands shoved deep into his pockets, "well maybe I'm ready to let the secret out." He looked up at her. She was studying him.

"If that were true," she stepped back toward the door, opening it just enough to fit her body through, "you wouldn't let me stop you." And she squeezed out of the door and marched toward Gryffindor tower, unsure of where this left them or what would happen in the coming days. Were they over? She supposed only time would tell.

Rose woke early the next morning, though she was not sure she could consider it waking, as she had not really been able to sleep during the night. There was just under a week left until Christmas break. She would only have to deal with Scorpius for a week—seeing him in classes, on patrol duty, roaming the halls, in the great hall. Then, she would have a vacation free from the drama that Scorpius always seemed to bring with him.

Luckily, Mona woke early that morning, as well, so the pair could go down to breakfast before most of their classmates would be there. Away from prying ears, Rose told Mona about her encounter with Scorpius the previous day and the confusion it brought her.

"So," Mona began as Rose finished her story, "where does that leave the two of you?"

Rose was about to respond that she could not answer that question when the doors flew open and Scorpius Malfoy entered the room. He searched for a moment before his eyes landed on the pair of Gryffindors and he made his way over. He seemed to have gained a new strut in his walk during the night.

"Hello, ladies," he said cheerily as he reached them. Rose could not speak. She had no idea what was happening.

"You're quite springy for someone awake this early," Mona said before Rose was required to speak.

"Just back from the owlery, actually," he was practically singing for how joyous he sounded. "Needed to send a letter to my mum and dad."

Rose froze. She registered Mona's eyes on her, but could not even force herself to make any response. Scorpius was watching her, as well, but she could not move. She had to be misunderstanding him. He couldn't mean—

"Needed some new robes or something?" Rose was so thankful for Mona at that moment. She knew exactly what Rose needed to know, and knew the best way to get it.

"Oh, nothing like that." He seemed so calm—so happy. This was not the same boy from the night before. "Just something I've been meaning to talk to them about for a while now," he stated, grabbing a croissant from the table, ripping off the end and stuffing it in his mouth. "I just didn't really realize it until last night."

This confirmed it, and Mona knew it, too. She looked at Rose again and all she could say was a small, "is that right?"

"Yeah, well," he looked around the room, "I'd better go." He stuffed another piece of the croissant into his mouth. Rose still found herself unable to move or even really think. "Wouldn't want anyone to get the wrong idea." And he took off, strutting just as he had walked over to them.

The next moment, Albus was sitting at the table with them. He must have walked over just as Scorpius was leaving. "Was that Scorpius? He seemed happy. I guess last night was—" he must have just noticed that Rose was still frozen. "Is everything okay?"

"So," Mona was speaking to Rose, completely ignoring Albus's late arrival, "you're okay with this?"

"Okay with what?" Albus asked, looking from Mona to Rose and back again.

"I guess I have to be." It had only been a couple minutes, but it felt like the first time Rose had spoken in hours, maybe days. "I just can't believe—"

"What?" Albus begged.

"I know," Mona replied. She let out a sigh with a small grin.

"Will someone please tell me what is going on?" Albus was growing frustrated. Rose was not sure she could ignore him any longer.

"I'm not sure," Rose responded, trying to decide if she should smile or throw up, "but I think the secret might be coming out." This did not seem to help Albus at all. He still looked lost and confused, but Rose did not have the strength to elaborate at that moment. She could not believe the events of the past several hours. Events from the night before really had completely turned around. Once again, she had no idea what the future would bring. And now, she did not know if she should be excited, nervous, or downright frightened.

"CAN'T YOU EVER JUST LEAVE ME ALONE?" Rose heard the scream as she walked through the fifth floor corridor two days before Christmas break was set to begin. It seemed to have come from the prefects' bathroom. She ran forward and was about to whisper the password when the door flew open. Scorpius Malfoy was standing before her, looking worn out and distant.

"I heard screaming," she breathed, studying him.

He shrugged. "Caught Moaning Myrtle spying again." And without another word, he shrugged past her and walked down the corridor in the direction from which she had just come. She stepped through the door, determined to find out what had gotten him so angry. He had never yelled at Myrtle before, no matter how many times she'd snuck up on them...

It did not take long for Rose to find the broken mirror that littered the floor with broken glass. "Reparo," she said, though it came out as more of a question. At once, the shards rose off the floor and reformed into a perfectly whole mirror. On the floor sat a crumbled piece of parchment that had been hidden by the rubble. Rose leaned out and picked it up. It was filled with cramped writing. It was messy, as if the writer had been rushing to finish it.

I am glad to hear that you are enjoying yourself this year. We will be spending the holidays at your grandfather's manor, as usual. He feels that you might find Hogwarts most accommodating this year. We will send our presents by owl. We hope it is not too late to sign up to stay at school. Your father stayed one year and says they decorate quite well for those students who remain. If your circumstances change before the holidays your father and I would be delighted to see you.
All the best,

Rose's heart sank as she reached the end of the letter. No wonder Scorpius was so irritated. She reread it twice to see if it became more pleasant after multiple times. Each time, it just seemed colder and more disdainful. As terrified as Rose had been to tell her parents that she saw Scorpius as anything but an enemy, she doubted they would act this strongly. Upset, of course. Disappointed, sure. But to tell him not to come home for Christmas?

She wasn't sure whether this made her more confident that no matter what, her parents would react better than his or if it made her afraid they wouldn't. Scorpius couldn't have been expecting this reaction or he wouldn't have told his. What if her parents disowned her? One thing was for sure: if Scorpius was willing to risk it all to stop the secrets, she would need to find a way to do the same.

She spent the walk up to Gryffindor tower wondering how to possibly tell her parents about Scorpius. She could just send them an owl, but that hadn't worked out so well for Scorpius. She could just tell them over the Christmas vacation, which was only two days away, now. She wondered what Scorpius was going to do about Christmas. She supposed it would be good to have the Head Boy in the school over the holidays, but wished he hadn't been forced into it.

She was so lost in her own thoughts that she barely noticed the small group of third years running past her, attempting to hide something from view. By the time she realized she probably should have stopped them to see what banned object they were sneaking around with, they were too far away for her to respond.

Before she knew it, Rose was standing in front of the portrait of the Fat Lady. "Integrity," she sighed, still having no idea how to go about safely telling the truth. They'd been hiding it for so long.

"Right you are," and the portrait flew forward, allowing Rose to pass through and into the common room, where Albus and Mona sat, doing their Potions homework.

"Oh, good, you're back!" Mona seemed relieved as she noticed Rose enter the room. "Maybe you can tell me what you get when you mix—"

"It's Polyjuice," she responded without even letting her friend finish, "Al, can I see your map?"

"Map?" He didn't look up from his paper, on which he had just crossed something out. "Yeah, let me just—"

"Please, Al." Now, he looked up and seemed to soften at the pleading look on Rose's face.

"Yeah, sure." He stood and headed to the staircase up to the boys' dormitories, Rose following close behind. Once in his room, he reached into his trunk and pulled out an old, wrinkled piece of parchment that had been passed through the family for quite a while—though unintentionally between the different generations. James had found it in Uncle Harry's desk and got Uncle George to tell him how it worked. He passed it on to Albus over the summer, since he did not have much use for it anymore after graduation. Albus held his wand up to the parchment and whispered, "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good," and the map of Hogwarts appeared as he added, "or, I guess Rose is…" and he passed the map to her.

She studied it for a moment before finding what she had been looking for. "What are you looking for?" Rose hadn't even realized Mona had followed them upstairs until she spoke.

"I found him, look," she pointed to a floating name. Scorpius Malfoy was sitting alone by the lake. "I have to go. Thanks, Al."

She walked slowly through the building, extending the time Scorpius had on his own. He needed time to think and reflect and she couldn't blame him for sitting off by himself on the grounds. By the time he was within view, Rose hoped enough time had past that he wouldn't mind her company. He was staring out into the lake, sitting next to his favorite tree. But to Rose's surprise, he was not alone. Tracy Williamson, a sixth year Ravenclaw, had approached him at some point while she was walking through the castle. Rose wondered up beside the tree silently, unable to think of what to possibly say to him and curious what Tracy was saying.

"—just tell me what's wrong, maybe I can help." She was sitting too close to him, leaning even closer, with a hand on his shoulder. Scorpius just shook his head silently, continuing to stare into the lake. "Well, maybe you'd like to take a walk?"

He didn't even shake his head this time. Tracy stared at him, frustration with his silence growing evident.

"At least let me take you somewhere next Hogsmeade trip." Who did this girl think she was? He was clearly upset about something, and she was just hitting on him. How thick could you get? "We could meet and—"

"'m sorta' seeing someone." It was barely audible and Rose was not sure she even heard correctly. It was not until Tracy's hand fell from Scorpius's shoulder and she automatically backed away a few centimeters that Rose was sure he'd actually said it. "Though I probably shouldn't have told you that."

She took a short, angry breath, hands now crossed in front of her chest. "Who?" It came out as more of a demand than a question.

But before Scorpius had a chance to respond, Rose found herself jumping out from behind the tree. "Me."

They both turned to look at her. Tracy looked bewildered. Scorpius wore a blank face, though Rose swore she saw the edge of histhe lips twitch into a smile very slightly.

"You?" Tracy laughed. "You hate each other." She looked from Rose's defiant look to Scorpius, who was staring into the lake again, clearly deep in thought. "There's no way."

Rose took a step toward her. "You don't hear him denying it, do you?" Tracy glanced at Scorpius and back to Rose again, now completely scandalized—as if this had been some elaborate plan to make her look bad. "Now," Rose began, pulling her off the ground, "go run along and find someone else to irritate before you make yourself look even more pathetic."

She scoffed but left, nonetheless. Rose looked toward Scorpius but saw no reaction from him. He looked like he had completely missed that whole exchange. She watched him for what felt like several minutes, but he did not move.

"I'm sorry." He remained looking toward the lake as he said it. Rose was thrown off guard by the apology. What was he sorry about? "I shouldn't have yelled at Myrtle. Or ignored you. I—"

"I saw the letter." It was not how she had intended to bring it up.

He sighed. "I knew I shouldn't have left it there."

"Are you okay?" It was a stupid question. How could he possibly be okay? His mother basically just told him he was no longer welcome in his own family. Not even Scorpius, who had never been completely thrilled with his family's background, could possibly be okay with that.

"Bloody brilliant." She couldn't blame him for sounding sour. "At least I can keep up my Head Boy duties over the break."

She considered telling him that she had thought the same thing, but decided it was a bad idea. Instead, she thought she should take a bit of a different path. "I'm going to tell my parents."

"Don't be stupid." He looked at her for the first time. His eyes were slightly puffed, though any tears that might have been present were long since dried by now. "If I learned anything today, it's that you were right. Telling people was a bad idea."

"And if I learned anything today, it's that some things are worth the risk." She sat on the grass beside him, wrapping her arm around his elbow and leaning her head on his shoulder, no longer caring that the grounds around them were filled with students unaware of their secret romance. "I love you, Scorpius."

She heard his breathing stop suddenly. She had clearly caught him by surprise. When she looked over into his grey eyes, she was surprised to see a small smirk in his face. "You're bonkers." He rested his head on hers, looking back out into the lake. "But I love you, too."

They sat there, together, for longer than either of them knew, unaware and not caring how many fellow students were walking by and learning the secret they had kept so quiet for for two years. The secret was about to come out, and they were not only forced to accept it, but actually found themselves excited. Nervous as hell, but excited, nonetheless.

Harry Potter was teaching one of his special Defense Against the Dark Arts lessons the next day. Every year right before Christmas vacation, he would come teach the Defense Against the Dark Arts class. He always claimed he was just using his experiences to help teach the students, but everyone knew he was really trying to scout for new possible aurors. Even though he taught every age for the day, it was rumored he always paid special attention to the seventh year NEWT students. Now that it was Rose's turn to be in that category, she thought her uncle should have been a bit less obvious about his real intentions.

He stood in front of the class trying, as usual, to pretend he didn't notice Albus and Rose sitting at the desks directly in front of him. Scorpius sat in his usual spot across the room from Rose. They might not have been trying quite so hard to keep their relationship quiet, but that didn't mean they needed to put it on display.

Harry was giving a speech about the few times using an unforgivable curse can, in fact, be forgiven, when Malvin Pulfer raised his hand from the back row. "Sir," he began, seeming nervous, "is it true you produced a full-body patronus in your third year at Hogwarts?"

Harry blinked at the change of subject, but being used to the question, he took it in stride, "Yes, but I had been personally trained by a fantastic teacher throughout the year. It was just a fog for my first several lessons."

"But it was your third year!" a kid shouted from somewhere in the classroom.

"Could you do that, Albus?" another shouted over the whispers now echoing throughout the room.

Albus just turned a deep shade of red as his father saved him from answering, "Thankfully, none of my family members have had a reason to need such training since the war ended." For the first time, he glanced at his son and gave a reassuring smile. "But since you all seem so determined to discuss patronuses, who can tell me the uses of a patronus?"

Rose's hand was the first in the air and her uncle could not ignore it. After a quick nod, Rose was in her zone- answering questions was her greatest comfort. "Patronuses are used as protection against magical creatures or fields. They are most commonly used to ward off dementors, who try to bring despair and hopelessness to anyone they come across. During the second wizarding war, Albus Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts and head of the Order of the Phoenix, created a use of patronuses as a means of communicating between Order members. This was ideal, as patronuses are impossible to intercept or destroy in transmission." She finished, wondering if there was anything else she should add. But she was sure those were the only two uses for patronuses. She could, of course, have said more about dementors, or the Order, but that seemed unnecessary.

She looked up at her uncle, who seemed trying to hide a large grin from his face. Eventually, it broke through as he watched her. "You really are just like your mother," he said finally, and Rose found it difficult to hide her own smile now. "And since the patronus started to be used to communicate, there have been-" He stopped due to pure curiosity, for Scorpius Malfoy had just raised his hand. "Yes?"

"Mr. Potter, Sir, I've heard you were close to Professor Dumbledore. Do you know how he could go about inventing his own use of patronuses? Do you think they can be used for other things?" It was clear he was truly interested. There was sincere curiosity, even admiration, both in his voice and on his face.

Harry seemed to study Scorpius for a minute, trying to decide if he could trust his sincerity. At last, he let out a small sigh before responding, "It is very possible that, some day, more uses for the patronus will be discovered. It is an extraordinary piece of magic that I highly doubt has been fully developed. As for the first part of your question, I do not pretend to understand the genius of Albus Dumbledore—a genius, it seems, you appreciate, as well." He smiled- smiled- at Scorpius Malfoy.

For the rest of the class, Harry gave a reassuring smile every time he looked at Scorpius. Whether he saw a future auror in him or was just glad he was not like his father, Rose had no idea, but she found herself wondering if these positive feelings would change once her father announced his hatred of her boyfriend. She found herself almost wishing Harry was her father, though he had not been particularly cheery when Lily got her first boyfriend the year before, either. She could not imagine if that had been the son of one of his prior enemies.

"It looks like my time's about up," Harry said finally. The class stood in discussions about the different things Harry had said and who they thought would be joining his auror department next year. "Scorpius, could I speak with you for a moment?" This just made more whispers break out amongst the crowd. He turned toward where Albus and Rose were just standing from their seats. "Al, I'll expect my normal tour during lunch." Albus nodded and Rose continued packing her books.

Rose and Hugo usually gave Harry his tour with James, Albus, and Lily. Why had Harry not asked her for the tour, too? Did he know something? Was he disappointed that she had not spoken very much in the class? She knew she should have said more, but they were mostly discussing what Harry said all the time at home. He already knew her opinions and ambitions. But that had to be it—she should have spoken more. Now, she would never be an auror.

She barely even noticed the room was now empty except for Harry, Scorpius, and Albus. Rose walked toward them, heading to the door, but found herself walking a bit closer to the group than she needed to on her way to the doorway. "—very happy to see the changes the years have brought. Keep up the good work." He had a hand on Scorpius's shoulder, warmly.

"Thank you, sir," he gave a small grin. "Should I tell my father you say 'hello'?"

Harry stared at him for a moment, but seemed to find the humor in his eyes. "Yes," he answered with a small chuckle, "please do."

Rose must have stopped walking to listen to the end of their conversation. When Scorpius turned to leave, she swore she saw him give her a small wink before strutting out of the room. She gaped after him, not even sure what was so surprising to her.

"Well," Harry turned to his son, not noticing that Rose was still there, "shall we, then?" Without another word, the Potters turned and walked out of the room, leaving Rose alone and a bit lost.

But suddenly, Rose knew exactly what she had to do. Everything fit together so perfectly that she could not believe it had taken her this long to realize. "Uncle Harry!" She shouted as she ran out of the room.

She caught up with her uncle and cousin only a few steps out of the room. "There, you are, Rose. I thought you left. We were just about to—"

"I need your help," she pleaded, before he could finish. "It's about me and—" she paused, taking a deep breath, "and Scorpius Malfoy."

"—so when Dad sees us get off the train, Scorpius should be—"

"Calm down," Harry laughed from across the compartment. "Shouldn't you two be coaching the prefects or something?"

"They know what to do," she responded definitively. She glanced at Scorpius and couldn't help but laugh at the skeptical look he was giving from beside her, "or they'll find us if they need us."

Scorpius was not going to stay at Hogwarts for Christmas break, but he was also not returning home to his parents. He would be staying with Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny. So when they broke the news to Rose's parents, they at least had the satisfaction of seeing him leave their view, though this meant he would be attending the annual Christmas celebration at the burrow. Harry had invited Scorpius to stay as soon as Rose had finished explaining the whole story. She must admit she was surprised. After all, Harry might have seen that Scorpius was not like his father and grandfather, but he was still a Malfoy.

"What about James?" It was probably the fourth time Rose had asked the same question. But out of all of the children, James definitely hated Scorpius the most. And now he would be spending his Christmas living with him.

"Let me deal with James," Harry answered, as he had each time before. But this response wasn't easing Rose's fears. She looked up to James. If he hated her—or worse, was disappointed in her—she was not sure she could handle that idea.

Scorpius must have noticed her discomfort because the next thing she knew, she was being pulled onto his laplifting her hand and entwining her fingers with his own. He leaned toward her, whispered, "calm down," so only she could hear him and lightly kissed the hand he was now holdingHis head found its way through her thick red hair and he was kissing her neck. As he reached her ear, he whispered a quiet, "calm down," and continued kissing her.

She had chills running down her spine and couldn't help but obey. Still, but with a new sense of confidence, she askedwhispered back, "how are you so calm?"

She could feel his warm breakwatched his face carefully as he chuckled, trying to discover his secret into her neck. "The train hasn't even left Hogsmeade yet." He pulled her hair aside and she felt the cool air against her bare neckrested their entwined hands on the edge of his lap. "Give me an hour or two, and I'll be just as much a wreck as you."

She rolled her eyes. "Comforting." But it really was. She leaned back against himher head on his shoulder, a knew calmness filling her body, then laughed when she finally realized her uncle, best friend, and two cousins had been watching this entire interaction, all smiling for their various reasons.

The compartment door flew open as the train finally started to move. "Oh, there you all are—" Hugo stopped dead as he spotted his sister, perched head resting on her supposed enemy's lap shoulder and looking quite comfortable there. Rose was far past this fear—she had moved on to bigger Weasley's with smaller tempers. "What—" his mouth hung open in shock, "when did this happen?"

"About twoa years ago," Lily answered brightly. Everyone looked at her with similar looks of surprise, "What? No point lying anymore. He's about to find out everything, anyway."

Hugo looked around the compartment and something seemed to register with him. He was the only one that seemed even vaguely surprised by this situation. "So," he looks around at the group, "everyone has known this whole time."

"Only Mona and Lily at first," Albus stated from the opposite corner as Rose and Scorpius sat in. "I followed them into the prefect's bathroom after Potions class one day last Marcha few months in—" he paled a bit and Rose was forced into a blush and Scorpius buried his face into her bare neck again "—haven't been able to look at them quite the same since." Hugo retched and Rose forced herself to look towards her uncle, who seemed to be trying very hard not to laugh. "Then Dad just found out yesterday."

"You're just behind with the times, Hugh," Lily mocked him. She was leaning back into her seat, obviously thrilled with Hugo's discontent. "Surprising how easy it was to hide from you, really. You're quite thick, you know."

Hugo's eyes narrowed on the only cousin that was also his classmate, and Rose was tempted to jump up and shield her younger cousin from her brother. But before she could stop him, a small smirk had spread over his face and he asked, "Does Kenny know, too?"

Lily's eyes opened wide in shock and she sat up slowly, staring at her cousin with a look of pure loathing.

"Kenny?" Harry asked, eyebrows raised. "Kenny Logan?" He was staring at his daughter now. "Why would Kenny Logan know about any of this?"

"He wouldn't." Lily stated, without meeting her father's eyes.

"You didn't tell your boyfriend—?" Hugo was walking a very fine line now. Lily looked like she was just about ready to duel him right there on the train.

"Boyfriend?" Harry demanded. Again, Rose felt the urge to shield her cousin that had kept her secret so safe for the past two years.

"Just for a month!" Lily finally looked up at her father. "We broke up two weeks ago. And you don't even know—you're okay with Rose dating a Malfoy, but not me dating a boy you don't even know anything about?" She glanced at Rose in short remorse, but was now just trying to save herself. "And just because Hugo can't find a girl willing to snog him…" she muttered, trailing off.

"Scorpius here does not have a the record with young witches that this Kenny does," Harry stated, clearly upset by this news, "as I'm sure you know about."

"How do you—"

"Professor Longbottom hears about pretty much everything that happens at that school." Harry stated, still staring down at his daughter. "Though how he managed to keep this from me, I'm not sure. Though he does tend to glide over my own family in conversation…"

"Mr. Potter?" Mona spoke from across from Rose and Scorpius, who had almost forgotten she was there at all in the family drama. "Do you think I'd be able to come to Christmas, too? I'd like to be there to support Rose and Scorpius."

Rose was not sure how Mona always seemed to fix these situations, but Harry just blinked and a smile slowly crept onto his face. "Of course. It shouldn't be a problem at all." Mona just smiled back and fell back into her silent spot. Her question had worked—Harry looked back toward the newly-public couple, both of whom sat up a bit in their seatspot. "Now," he began. Rose made an attempt to remove her handself from Scorpius's lap, but he just held hers in placetighter, as if reluctant to ever let her movelet go. Harry continued with the same smile he had been wearing earlier when Scorpius had calmed Rose down, "once we arrive at King's Cross Station, you lot will get off first. Scorpius, stay back behind me."

"Can I—" Hugo almost leapt with excitement, but was cut off by Harry.

"You better stay back with me too, actually." Hugo's excitement died instantly and the others couldn't contain their chuckles. "Rose, after Ron welcomes you home, you need to tell him you will be having a guest for Christmas. Then I will come over with Scorpius." Rose nodded, the nerves growing in her stomach again. This time, Scorpius seemed just as tense as she felt. The time was getting closer…

"Well," Rose stared at the doors that would put her in view of the platform. She squeezed Scorpius's hand to relieve her nerves, "here we go."

Scorpius pushed her hair behind her ear, pecked her lips and whispered "I'll be right behind you" into her ear.

She grabbed his face and kissed him one last time before turning to her best friend and cousins. "All right. Let's go."

They stepped out onto the platform, squinting from the light the met their eyes. It took a moment for Rose's eyes to adjust to the light, but quickly found the group she had been searching for once they did. Her parents stood side by side, smiling widely and waving enthusiastically. Beside her mum stood Aunt Ginny, a welcoming smile and much smaller wave. On her dad's side were Mona's parents, all smiles, as well. And finally there was James—clearly glad to see the group, but trying to seem too cool to care. Albus sped up when he spotted the family. Lily seemed determined to stay close to Rose—she wanted to be where the action was. Rose paused and Mona stood beside her. "It'll be fine, Rosie," she said, making Rose chuckle a bit. Together, they moved forward to the group.

"Hey, Rosie," her father said brightly, but then looked around as if confused. "Where's your brother?"

"He's with Dad," Albus answered for her. He had already pulled himself loose of his mother's tight embrace and was fixing his glasses as she pulled Lily toward her.

"Where is Harry, anyway?" Hermione asked, kissing Rose on the cheek and guiding her toward her father. "Didn't he take the train back with you?"

"Probably lecturing some poor first years about Unforgivable curses," Ginny said as Lily escaped her grasp, too.

"Actually," Rose began, pulling out of a giant hug from her father and feeling the nerves in her stomach strengthen, "he's doing me a favor." Everyone seemed to be looking at her now. She avoided looking into her father's warm eyes. She couldn't bear to see the change. "I'm—sort of—seeing someone."

There was a moment of silence, but then it seemed to break. "Blimey, Rose, not like it's the first time," James was laughing now. "You scared us."

She was not sure what to say. Suddenly all of the planning on the train seemed insufficient. "Yeah, but it's different. It's—"

"Is it serious, honey?" her mum looked sincerely interested.

"Bloody hell, I hope not. You're too young for a serious boyfriend."

"Well yeah, I guess," she was looking down now, scared to look at anybody, "but it's not that. He's—"

"They're coming!" Lily shouted. The whole group turned to see Harry and Hugo approaching, a faceless pair of feet following behind Harry. Harry had a hand on Hugo's shoulder, as if holding him back from running ahead.

When they finally reached the group, Harry held his arms open in welcome, but Rose had a strange feeling he was trying to hide the boy behind him as long as possible. Hugo was strangely silent, and again, Rose had a feeling Harry had put a spell on him to keep him from spilling the secret too early. "How is everyone doing here?"

"I'm not sure, Mate," Ron said, only glancing at Harry as he spoke, but concentrating on his daughter. "Rose was just telling us about her new boyfriend."

"Well," Again, Rose found herself doing whatever she could to avoid her father's eyes, "I wouldn't exactly call him 'new'." And, deciding what she had to do, Rose reached behind Harry, and pulled Scorpius by the hand until he was standing next to her for everyone to see, fingers locked with hers. "It's actually been a while, really."

The silence was deafening. She tried to concentrate on the feel of Scorpius's hands in hers. They were clammy and sweaty, or maybe that was from her own palms. It was tough to tell the difference.

Ginny started laughing. "We were joking about this on your first day," she breathed. Harry chuckled with her, but nobody else seemed to even hear her. "Come on James, Al, Lily," she said once the laughter subsided. "We should go—"

"I'm not missing this!" Lily argued, pleading with her mother.

"Lily, I said—" but she stopped immediately when she heard another voice.

"Is this a joke?" Rose forced herself to look up at her father. He wore a blank face, but his eyes looking like they could have shot lasers at the pair of them.

Scorpius took a small step toward him, showing far more bravery than Rose would have expected. "Mr. Weasley, I—"

"I wasn't speaking to you, Malfoy," he spat, making Scorpius take a larger step backward. Rose squeezed his hand tighter and placed her other hand on his forearm. Her mum kept looking from her to her husband, obviously not sure what to say. Ginny seemed nervous, but had the remnants of a small smirk on her face. "I was speaking to my daughter."

"His name is Scorpius," Harry said sternly. "And he's really nothing like his family."

"So you knew about this," he was looking angrily at Harry now, disbelief all over his face. "Did everyone know?" His eyes narrowed on his son, who lifted his hands in a demonstration of innocence.

"Hey," he defended himself, finally able to speak, "I just found out on the train."

"And I found out yesterday," Harry reasoned, "but I don't see any problem with it."

"Of course not," Ron scowled, making his wife and daughter jump slightly, "it's not your bloody daughter we're talking about."

"It's still my family," Harry reminded him, "and he's really a nice boy. Just give him—"

"Can we discuss this later?" Hermione spoke for the first time, hand resting on her husband's shoulder in an attempt to keep him calm. "The kids just got home and I'm sure Scorpius's parents are waiting for him."

"Actually, " Rose began with a breath, but Scorpius pulled her back slightly, taking a small step forward himself and showing he wanted to respond to this, himself.

"Sir, my parents asked me not to come home for Christmas this year." Rose was amazed how strong, yet calm, he was staying. She could feel every bit of herself shaking.

"So, what?" Ron was red with anger now, and was staring at Scorpius with eyes that could kill. "You decide to take advantage of my daughter? Let her take pity on you? Don't expect me to open my house to you. I'd turn around and get back on the train if I were you."

"Actually," Harry began, but Rose didn't let him finish.

"You know why he can't go home?" she was practically shrieking. All of the students and most of the families that had not left the platform yet were now staring at the group. "He was trying to prove to me that we can't keep it a secret anymore. He sacrificed everything for me and I thought he deserved the same from me. I've been the coward. And clearly I was right: you're no better than them."

"Rose," Hermione attempted to grab her attention, but she was not listening.

Instead, she turned to Harry now, who was holding Ginny's hand tightly. "Actually, can I stay with you this year, too? I'm clearly not wanted at home, either."

Harry's eyes widened in shock, but Hermione's stern voice broke through before he had to respond. "Rose Weasley." Though reluctant, Rose turned toward her mother, every muscle in her body now tense with anger. "Don't you ever act like there is anything that you could do that could make you unwelcome in your home." Ron's features seemed a bit softer now. His daughter's words had clearly stung him. He stared at her as his wife continued, "You know we love you and nothing could change that. Your father and I might not always agree with you, but we will never desert you. And if you don't know that, we clearly failed as parents."

The tears were falling to the ground before Rose even realized she was crying. She rushed toward her parents, burying herself in the small space between them, whispering a series of "I'm sorry!" and "I love you".

Her mother immediately embraced her, holding her tight. After a moment, her father took a short breath and did the same, kissing the top of her head and responding, "we love you too, Rosie."

"So," James spoke for the first time a few moments later, "Scorpius is staying with us, then?" Rose pulled out of her parents' embrace to look at her cousin as his father nodded. He locked eyes with her, and she could see the anger behind his falsely blank face. "Brilliant." The sarcasm stung more than any sincere insult could have. "Can we go?" And without a response, he turned and left the platform, storming through the wall into King's Cross Station.

"Well, let's go, then," Harry agreed, and followed in the direction that his son had just gone, his wife at his side. Mona's parents walked just behind them, looking like they just witnessed something they had not wanted to see. Albus and Lily gave Rose and Scorpius a reassuring look before following their parents. Now only Rose, Scorpius, Mona, and Rose's family remained in their spot.

"We'll discuss this at home," Ron said. "I expect you inside the station in one minute." He took his wife's hand and kissed it as he moveled hers toward the wall to the station. When Hugo didn't follow, he flicked his wand in his son's direction. Hugo obediently trotted after his father, looking disappointed. They disappeared through the wall after the others.

Mona hugged Rose tighter than ever before. "I'm so proud of you!" she whispered in her ear. As she pulled away, she placed her hands reassuringly on her best friend's shoulders. "Everything will be okay, you'll see." Rose just smiled as Mona turned to Scorpius. She gave him a small smirk. "You better be worth all of this," she said mockingly. Scorpius let out a small chuckle. Without another word, Mona turned and pranced through the wall to where the rest of the group waited on the other side, leaving Rose and Scorpius alone.

Rose turned to look at Scorpius to find he was already watching her. They stared at each other for a moment and an instant later her arms were thrown over his shoulders and she was crying again, into his neck this time. His held her close to him, one hand holding her head steady, the other on her back, pulling her ever closer. He smiled, despite himself. "It's okay, Rose," he whispered into her ear, "it's all okay."

"I'm sorry," she was saying through tears, again.

"For what?" he asked, pushing her hair to one side.

"For everything!" He could feel her warm breath on his neck as she spoke, tears soaking his shirt. "For lying, for trying to hide you, for your family—"

He pulled out of her grasp so quickly she looked momentarily dumbfounded. She stopped crying as he held her at arm's length with one hand and held her face to look into his with the other. "That's not your fault, Rose." She rolled her eyes, but he just pulled her face to look at him again. "Listen to me. I mean it." They locked eyes. Her tears had started again but his eyes were stern. He needed her to really understand what he was saying. "You were right about me. I was pressuring you to do the very thing I was afraid of, because I knew my parents weren't like yours. My parents don't care who your parents are, just what they are. For me to love you is to accept your blood status and that's what they couldn't accept. Your parents' problem is what my family has done. And that's why you will be okay."

"But I still made you—"

"No." Her eyes widened, but his remained determined. "I don't regret telling them. Maybe they will come around, maybe they won't, but I can't regret anything that has brought us here. Rose, look how far we've come."

She stared at him, tear stains down her cheeks, searching for a sign of insincerity in his eyes. After a moment without finding a falter, she closed her eyes and inhaled deeply, trying to absorb some of Scorpius's confidence in her exhale. "We should probably go find everyone," she spoke softly, removing her shoulders from his grip and taking his hand instead. Together, they approached the wall separating platform 9 ¾ from the rest of King's Cross station.

The pair approached Rose's family in silence. Though not sure how or why, Rose seemed to be feeling stronger and more confident with every step. Mona and her parents had already left, leaving Rose's parents, aunt and uncle in a small group and her brother and cousins gossiping feel away. James stood a bit apart from the rest, watching her and Scorpius as they walked. "Come on, Ron," Rose heard her aunt's voice as they reached the elder group, "they remind me of Teddy and Victoire and of Harry and me."

"Wasn't too thrilled with that one either, now, was I?" He still sounded sulky, but at least less angry.

"I seem to recall you saying it was better Harry than a lot of others," she teased, arms wrapped tightly around her husband's waist.

"Yeah," Uncle Harry agreed with a small grin, "we have the best friend's sister, the twin's ex girlfriend and the practical cousins. We were bound to have the enemies at some point."

Rose decided it was time to make her presence known before her father had a chance to respond. He did not seem pleased with the comparison to the other atypical situations in the family. "So, are we going, then?"

The group turned to look at her. "Right. Let's go, " her father said and immediately started walking toward the exit. The rest trailed behind, Rose's mother just behind her father, Rose and Scorpius even with Harry and Ginny behind her, and the cousins following behind.

"Rose," Harry started, "I thought you might like to join Scorpius and my family for dinner tonight. You could—"

"I would like to have dinner with my family on the kids' first night back," Rose flinched at her father's tone. He hadn't even turned around to speak, but led on with determination in his step. Rose wondered what the conversation that was about to occur would really entail.

"But maybe," her mother added, "she could join you for dessert? After all," she glanced back at Rose before continuing, "now that she can apparate, she wouldn't have to even be gone for long." It was not meant to be a simple comment—it was a warning. She would need to be back with her parents as soon as dessert was finished, probably more for her father's peace of mind than her mother's.

"That sounds lovely," Ginny smiled. "Of course, we'd love to have you." Unlike her parents at the moment, her aunt and uncle were speaking directly to Rose, and she felt undying gratitude toward them for it.

When they finally reached the cars which, as normal, were parked beside each other, the group began their final goodbyes. Rose gave Scorpius's hand a tight squeeze, fully aware that her father's eyes had found her again, and pulled out of his grip. She hugged her cousins and whispered a "thank you" as she hugged her aunt and uncle.

"We'll see you later then, Rose," Ginny stated as she stepped into the passenger seat of her car. Rose nodded, watching as Scorpius cautiously stepped into the back seat next to Albus. Her own family got into their car in silence and her father started the engine the moment her door closed. This would be a long ride home.

"Can somebody pass me the salt?"

Rose threw her arm toward it before anyone else could reach it and handed it to her father. "Here it is, Dad." He gave one small nod of acknowledgement, taking the salt from her, pouring far too much on his potatoes, and continuing his meal in silence.

This continued for five more minutes before Hugo cleared his throat. "So, are we going to just pretend Rose isn't running around snogging a Malfoy forever, then?" Rose kicked him under the table and couldn't hear her mum's warning words or even take joy in the loud groan Hugo let out—she was too busy watching her father, who was shifting uncomfortably and looking like he was about to speak.

"Well, I guess it's time, then," he said, his teeth clenched. "So, how did it begin."

Rose didn't know what to say. How could she explain the past two years to him? She couldn't explain the competition turning to passion—the hatred turning to love. She looked down at her fork, pushing peas slowly around her mostly empty plate. "We were on prefect duty after Charms class one day. We had jut gotten our first practice OWL's back," she paused, closing her eyes and inhaling deeply. "It just happened."

There was silence. She knew she had to open her eyes and look at him. He looked confused; he had no idea how that story followed. "What do you mean 'it just happened'?"

She could almost see that day over two over years ago—Scorpius's shock as she demanded he tell her how he beat her score, his insistence he didn't do anything different, chasing him down the hallway, his sudden turn to kiss her, starting to push him but finding herself incapable of pulling away—"I," she began, unsure how to speak, "he got an 'O'." This did not seem to have any influence on her father, but she swore she saw understanding creep onto her mother's face.

"What are you talking about?" he asked, looking almost concerned now. What did he think this relationship really meant?

She just stared. There was no better way to explain it. "He got an 'O'," she repeated, more forcefully this time. Her dad still didn't seem to understand.

Her mum looked over. "Kids, why don't you go do the dishes?" she asked and smiled lightly at them. Ron looked like he was about to object, when she added, "I'd like to speak to your father, alone."

Rose did not have to be told twice. She stood up from the table immediately and practically ran into the kitchen, dishes in hand. She heard her mother repeat the instructions to Hugo, who must have decided he would rather hear his parents' conversation than leave the room. A moment later, however, he was in the kitchen with her, his plate and their parents' piled in his arms.

"Toss them in the sink," she ordered him, motioning toward the sink she was standing by, already heating the water to clean.

He obeyed, throwing the dishes in the sink before reminding her, "You know you can do it with magic now, right?" She ignored him. Using muggle methods meant she couldn't be listening to he conversation taking place in the next room. "Don't you want to know what she's saying?" Rose looked up at his brother, he was staring at the door to the next room. She could almost see his longing for the extendable ears their mum had thrown away in August.

"I'd rather not." It was partly true. Of course she was curious—they were talking about her and Scorpius. But she did not want to hear it. She was not sure she could bear to hear it. "And don't even think about eavesdropping. You know Mum put a charm on the door."

Still, he stepped closer to the door, placing his ear against it. After a moment's silence, he pulled away with a sigh, defeated, and slumped over to the table across the room from Rose. He sat, resting his legs on the chair beside his and leaning into the backrest, arms folded behind his head, staring at his sister. "How are you going to get out of his one?"

She sighed, concentrating on the pile of dishes she was working on. "'Get out of' it?" she repeated, exasperated, "I'm not trying to 'get out of' anything."

Hugo's arms fell onto his lap. "What do you think is going to happen, then? Dad will just allow to and Malfoy to—"

"His name is Scorpius," she reminded him, an edge in her voice, "and I'm not really expecting anything. Just… waiting." Her brother let out a disbelieving chuckle. "You know, not everything I do is—"

The door opened. In an instant, Hugo was next to Rose, dipping his arms in the soapy water in an attempt to appear like he had been busy washing dishes. "Rose?" her mum spoke to her, "could you join us in here? I think Hugo can handle the dishes for a bit—he's clearly been working hard, already." She was smirking slightly. Rose couldn't tell if it was from her discussion with her father or her remark on Hugo's deception.

Rose stepped through the door her mother had just abandoned, glancing one last time at her brother. He was watching her leave, wonder on his face. Finally she stepped through the door, closed it tightly behind her, and turned to face the table, by which her mother was not standing and her father was still seated.

"We want you home at a decent hour tonight," her Mum said, placing a supportive hand on her husband's shoulder.

She apparated onto the front step of Number 12, Grimmauld Place. Taking a deep breath, she knocked twice, a bit harder than she meant to.

The door swung open and her aunt stood, smiling at her. "RoseyRosie, come in! We were just wondering when you'd arrive." She motioned for Rose to step into the house and shut the door behind her. "Harry was about ready send an owl demanding Ron untie you." Rose couldn't help but laugh. "Harry, Al, Lily, and Scorpius are down in the kitchen." She glanced at the stairs leading to the second floor as she led Rose toward the other staircase leading downstairs. "James won't be joining us." There was a definite note of sourness in her tone. Something must have happened, and Rose was fairly confident that it had something to do with Scorpius's presence.

In an attempt to distract herself from the thoughts running through her mind about everything that could have happened to end with James hauled up in his room while everyone else has dessert and just how stupid it was to have Scorpius stay here, in hindsight, Rose looked around the house as she walked. This house had always been her second home—the burrow her third and Hogwarts her fourth. Everything from the portraits to he smell to the drapes felt so welcoming. She always found it hard to imagine the description everyone gave of this house before Uncle Harry moved in. Of course, there was still that portrait of Sirius Black's mother that nobody seemed to be able to remove, no matter how hard they tried. But it now sat next to a portrait of Sirius, who would step into her portrait and cover her mouth whenever the drapes in front of her flew open. Around Sirius's portrait were portraits of Uncle Harry's parents, Remus Lupin, and many other members of the Order from back during the war. Uncle Harry had found a lot of the portraits in the cellar—Granddad Weasley said the Order had made them so they could continue serving even after death. The portraits of Harry's parents were the least active, as they had been painted long after their deaths. Still, all three children often told Rose and her brother about finding Uncle Harry in the room, staring at the portraits and talking with them.

She reached the bottom of the stairs to the kitchen. "Rose," Harry smiled from his spot at from the table, "I was starting to think I'd have to use the Imperius curse to make Ron let you out." Ginny chuckled behind Rose, following her into the room and taking her seat next to Harry. "Well, sit down." He motioned to the seat between Scorpius and an empty chair that at one point must have been James's.

Just as Rose sat in the seat that she had been pointed toward, Ginny flicked her wand toward the kitchen counter and a large chocolate cake levitated to the table, landing in the center. The smell made all thoughts of the empty seat beside her fade from Rose's mind.

"Rose," Ginny was watching her eye the cake, "would you like to start us off?" She did not need to be asked twice. Rose took a slice of the cake and dug right in. It tasted even better than it had smelled.

"So," Rose whispered to Scorpius while Albus took his slice, "what happened with James?"

"He was a prat," Lily responded before Scorpius had a chance to even react, though he seemed to pale a moment later.

"Lily," Ginny warned, "I'd appreciate you not calling your brother names."

"But he was!" she glanced at Albus for support, but he seemed determined to stay out of the conversation, so she turned back to Rose, instead. "He kept ignoring Scorpius and acting like he wasn't here. Then he gave up on that and started insulting him every time he spoke and then he even called him a-"

"We already lived through it once," Ginny interrupted her, clearly frustrated. "You can spare Rose the details."

Lily sighed but decided not to disobey her mother. "Anyway, Dad said he couldn't go out tonight. And James said, as he's being treated like he's ten, why not just send him to his room? And Dad said that sounded like a mighty good idea, so he went upstairs," she finished in a rush before her mother could cut her off again.

By now, everyone was enjoying their dessert. Rose ate slowly. She was not sure what to think. The rest of the Potters clearly thought James was out of line for talking to Scorpius the way he had, but she had always looked up to her older cousin. She did not know what she would do if he could never accept her boyfriend.

Rose turned to Scorpius, who she was surprised to see was watching her carefully. "Are you all right?" she asked him, softly. This time, nobody seemed to overhear—or if they had, they pretended they hadn't.

Scorpius attempted to smile, though it came off as more of a grimace. "I was about to ask you the same thing." When Rose did not answer, he sighed, "I'm fine. I wasn't expecting anything more from him just yet." This did not make Rose feel any better. Scorpius sat up a bit in his chair and added, as an afterthought, "he'll just take a bit of convincing, that's all." And Rose nodded, attempting a smile, but she thought it probably came off just as Scorpius's had a moment before.

"Oh, I meant to tell you," Albus looked back and forth between Rose and Scorpius. Rose was thankful for the interruption, "when I was patrolling the halls the other day, Dimitri Watkins walked by. "I had to confiscate his fanged Frisbee, but he told me that Danny has a new girlfriend."

"Good for him," Rose responded, sarcastically. Why would she care who Danny was or was not seeing?

Scorpius, however, had more sincere interest in the subject. After all, they were housemates. "Elena?" Albus shrugged. "I knew they had started hanging out, but I wasn't sure if they were actually dating."

"Seamus's Danny?" Harry asked, looking interested, as well. "How's he doing? Any word about his parents?"

Rose tried to concentrate as the conversation continued, but she found herself staring at the ceiling, wondering what James was doing and, more importantly, how Scorpius planned to get him to come around.

Rose and Scorpius sat in the sitting room, alone. Her aunt and uncle had gone up to bed two hours ago, her cousins just a half hour ago. Rose was quite glad to be alone with Scorpius for the first time since the secret had come out. Not that they would fool around in her uncle's house after he had been so kind as to keep Scorpius, but it was nice just to sit close to him, without needing to explain themselves. They just sat in silence, enjoying being together.

They heard a popping noise just outside the door, which swung open to reveal a high-tempered James. Without a word, he stepped straight toward the stairs. But there was another pair of angry footsteps heading down them—Harry's. "Where were you? Did I just hear you apparate?" Rose could not remember him ever looking so furious. "I said you were to stay in your room tonight."

"Hide," Scorpius whispered in Rose's ear, making her jump slightly.

"What?" She asked, confused. They weren't the ones in trouble.

"I'm eighteen!" James reminded him, staring defiantly at his father.

"Hide," Scorpius repeated in Rose's ear, now pointing toward the edge of the couch. She stood and ducked behind the couch, still unaware of what she has doing or why she needed to hide.

"You can't tell me what—" James was arguing, but Scorpius cut him off as soon as Rose was out of sight.

"That was Rose you heard disapparating." He was standing, walking toward the others. "James was saying goodbye." James looked momentarily shocked, but tried to recover quickly before his father looked his way. "He wanted to apologize to her." James stood silently, trying not to let out any sort of emotions.

Harry seemed taken aback. Whether he believed Scorpius or not, Rose could not tell. He glanced at the couch behind which Rose was hiding. She ducked down a bit lower to avoid his gaze, but thought she saw a small grin on his face—one he seemed to be trying to hide. Rose had a feeling he knew the truth but did not mind in the least. "Why didn't she come up and say goodbye?"

"My fault," Scorpius stated quickly. He seemed to be expecting this question. "I thought you might have already fallen asleep—told her not to disturb you." He paused. "Didn't want you to lose sleep on my account."

He didn't seem to know how to respond. "All right, then." He turned and walked slowly up the stairs. "I'll just see her tomorrow, then." He disappeared at the top.

James turned to face Scorpius as Rose stood from her hiding place. "You didn't have to do that," James stated, his eyes narrowing on Scorpius.

Scorpius shrugged as Rose joined them. "It's my fault you're not supposed to go out. I shouldn't have intruded in your house—with your family."

"Yeah, well," he seemed to be thinking rather hard about something, "I'm going to head to bed, then. Long day with the family tomorrow." Rose pushed her arms through Scorpius's arms, pulling him toward her. James stopped halfway up the steps and turned slightly toward them, keeping his eyes unfocused, "I'll see you tomorrow, Rose." He climbed the rest of the stairs and disappeared at the top, like his father.

Rose rested her head on Scorpius's shoulder, smiling into this neck. They stayed in silence for a moment, before Scorpius reluctantly whispered, "You should probably leave." She pulled away to look at him. "If Harry comes down and sees you're still here—"

"I think he knows you were—"

"I'd still rather not be caught in a lie. Not after everything he's done for me—everything he's doing for me." He pulled out of her embrace, but entwined his fingers with hers, pulling her slowly toward the door.

They stepped through the doorway and onto the top step, leaving the door open behind them. Scorpius pulled her toward him into a kiss, holding her firmly to him. Even after breaking apart, he held her close. She wished they could stay like that forever. She had no inclination to go home—just wanted to stay in his arms. "I love you."

She could feel the smile form on his face. He turned and kissed the top of her head. "I love you, too."

They finally separated. With one last glance at him, she spun on the spot and disapparated, trying as hard as she could to concentrate on her house. A splinching was the last thing she needed tonight.

She felt a pang of pain as she landed in front of her house, alone. Why did she have to leave? She stepped into the house, praying everyone was already asleep and she could just fall into dreams without the conversations to come. To her surprise, the house was dark as she entered. She closed the door behind her and snuck up the stairs silently. She could deal with the rest tomorrow.

"Rose, if you're not down here in five minutes—"

Rose sighed into her eye shadow. "I'm almost finished, Dad!" He didn't understand. Today was the first day that she and Scorpius would be together without any secrets or lies. Everyone would know. She couldn't just throw on her Christmas dress without a care like most years. She needed to look good.

She emerged at the top of the staircase two minutes later in a hunter green, sleeveless, form-fitting dress that fell to just above her knees. She had charmed her hair to hang only slightly wavy around her face. She tried to contain her chuckles as her father's ears turned red at the sight of her. "Isn't it a bit cold for that dress?" he asked, though it seemed like more of an order than a question.

"I'll be wearing a coat when I'm outsidte, Dad," she responded dismissively.

"Will you tell her," he was looking at her mother now, "to wear something else?"

"I bought her that dress," she spoke as if this settled things, slipping on her second heel, "and I seem to recall you telling her she could go naked this Christmas when she was complaining about her dress last year." She glanced at Rose, then back to her husband. "I'd say this more appropriate than your idea."

There was a knock on the door. Ron turned to answer it, and Rose heard a mumbled, "—didn't think she actually would go practically naked…" as he pulled open the door.

Lily was the first to step inside, before the door was even fully open, clearly annoyed about something. Just behmind her, Albus entered, talking animatedly with Scorpius. "But do you think they will be designed like the OWLS, with the written test then the practical? James said—"

"Haven't you learned by now," Lily retorted, clearly unable to put up with the conversation any further as her parents stepped into the house, "not to listen to James? I stopped when I was four."

Albus turned to Scorpius for sympathy, but he was not paying attention. He was staring up at Rose, who was now taking her time walking down the steps toward the entryway. His mouth hung slightly open as if he had stopped midway through a silent "wow". Rose tried to hide the smile and blush that was threatening to take over her face as she looked at him.

Ron, however, had grown even more red and annoyed by this obviously breathless response. He stared sourly at the blond boy until he regained control of himself and settled his words on, "you look brilliant."

Rose smiled, paused a few steps from the bottom, then glanced at her family who had accompanied Scorpius inside, immediately realizing that one family member was missing from the group. "Where's James?" Was he so angry that he would rather stay home for Christmas? She did not think she could barebear knowing that he hated her that much.

But Harry grinned at the fear on her face. "James offered to go fetch Mona and meet us at the Burrow." He paused and gave another, more inward grin, "he hasn't seen her since the summer and did not give a proper greeting a Kings' Cross, did he?"

Despite her uncle's light tone, this was not much better as far as Rose was concerned. Her cousin and best friend had dated during her sixth year and managed to stay good friends, but there were two weeks after they broke up that made Rose quite keen to not have to go through it again.

"Don't worry," Lily whispered as Rose reached the bottom of the stairs, Scorpius taking her hand on the last two, "Mona won't waste time with James before she knows how you're doing." Rose gave her cousin a tight hug. She had no idea how Lily always seemed to know exactly what she was thinking, but was extremely thankful for her at this moment.

She greeted the rest of her family with hugs, thanking her aunt and uncle again for letting Scorpius stay with them during the break. She finally greeted everyone, landing next to Scorpius again. "Any word from your parents?"

"No," he responded with a shrug as Hermione began shuffling everyone out the door, "but I wasn't holding my breath." She could not tell if he was being truthful or not.

They reached the edge of the property and Hermione cleared her throat. "As almost all of us are of age now, we will be apparating," she explained for probably the seventh time. "Now, who is taking Hugo and Lily by side-along apparition?"

"I've got Hugo," Ron replied, placing a hand on his son's shoulder.

"Lily's here," Ginny was already holding her daughter's hand and clearly wondering why they had not already disapparated.

"Well, then," Hermione continued with an air of importance, "one the count of three. One—" Ginny disapparated early, carrying Lily along with her. Rose followed suit, spinning on her heel just after he aunt. She landed a moment later in front of the Burrow. There was a pop and Scorpius landed beside her. Then many more pops surrounded her as everyone arrived.

Ginny and Lily were already stepping into the house, without knocking. Harry and Albus followed once they gained their balance. Ron let go of Hugo, who also ran towards the door into his grandparents' house. Ron seemed expectant—as if he was waiting for Rose to say something to him. But as she stepped toward her father, Rose heard two more pops and turned around to see James and Mona finding their ground feet away.

Mona ran immediately toward Rose. "Oh, good, you didn't go in yet. James kept telling me you've been here for hours." She sent James a fiery look as she hugged Rose. "Of course, I'm used to his lies by now."

"Oh, so that's why you were so worried, then," he joked as he stepped closer to his cousin.

She gave him a sarcastic smile and turned back to Rose. "I'll see you inside, then," and she hurried off toward the house, leaving James, Rose, Scorpius, and Rose's parents outside, alone.

James approached Rose slowly. She took one step toward him, away from Scorpius, as if protecting the latter. "Hope you're well, Rosie," he said with a warm smile. He glanced at Ron and lowered his voice slightly. "I'll save you a firewhiskey." Rose smiled back. James chanced a glance at Scorpius, who had taken a step closer to Rose. James caught his eye, and his smile on faded slightly. He nodded. Scorpius returned the nod, a small smile now landing on his face, too.

Without another word, James turned and marched into the house after the others. Ron walked toward his daughter. Scorpius, clearly not wanting to intrude on this moment, stepped toward the house, not wanting to enter without Rose, but attempting not to eavesdrop on this private moment.

Ron cleared his throat. "You know I'm still not thrilled about all of this," he stated, glancing at Scorpius but focusing on Rose, who took a breath and nodded, sadly. "Still, if anyone gives you trouble in there," he nodded toward the Burrow, "you know I will always stand by you, no matter what." Rose stood in shock for a moment. She soon gained control and rushed in for a deep hug.

Ron pulled away and stepped back toward his wife as Scorpius approached Rose once again. Ron took Hermione's hand into his and, together, they walked into the house the others had already disappeared into.

Rose and Scorpius now stood outside, alone. "Well," Rose took Scorpius's hand and led him toward the house, "here goes nothing." They reached the door. Rose reached out to open the door, but stopped.

A grey owl was flying toward them, clutching something in his claws. It did not seem to have plans of landing as it approached the house. They ducked, expecting a crash as the owl flew into the wall of the Burrow. But at the last moment, he made a sharp turn, dropping something into Scorpius's hand as he turned and headed back in the directions from which he came.

"A tulip?" Rose asked, staring down at the flower Scorpius now seemed mesmerized by.

He was smiling, and his eyes seemed to fill with tears. "Mum's Christmas tradition." Rose smiled, too, as he carefully tucked the tulip into his robes. She reached for the doorknob again. "You know," Scorpius placed a hand over Rose's, stopping her from opening the door just yet. "Even if everyone's okay with it—even if my parents come around, we still have one problem, Rose."

Rose looked at him, surprised. In the unlikely situation that every single member of both of their families was somehow okay with this pairing, she did not understand what could go wrong. "And what's that?"

But to Rose's surprise, Scorpius was smiling. In fact, he seemed to be holding back laughter. "You said you could never date a Ravenclaw."

That first day they spoke after weeks without communication flooded back to her, and she let out a chuckle. "Yeah, well," she looked up at him and shrugged, "I guess even I'm wrong once in a while."

Now more relaxed, Rose reached toward the handle once more. She took a deep breath, turned the knob, and stepped into the house, pulling her boyfriend in behind her, ready to face the world.

The End.

This took me over a year to write, but I'm really proud of it. It is the longest story I have actually finished. Please let mw know what you think, even if you think it is terrible. Thanks!