The Weasley and Potter clan stood en masse for the train this year. Most would think it was mirrored to any other year: the Golden Trio and Ginny Potter cuddled into one tight ball, laughing and gossiping. Most would see the throngs of family that always accompanied them and think it no matter. Most would always merely glance over the Malfoys.
For that was the key difference between this year and the last 10 in which the family had shipped their young ones off to Hogwarts. A single entity, remembered for his family's contributions to the War and known for not much more than his past, stood closer than he normally would to the loud and vivacious crowd of past Gryffindors.
"Remind me: why that ferret is standing so close?" Ron Weasley whispered to his wife.
"Oh, Ronald, really," she muttered, exasperated beyond her normal limits. "Stop being so judge mental. Our children are friends for Merlin's sake. Go say hello."
When her husband's eyes widened to close the size of a house elf's, Hermione sighed. She took his hand and gracefully dragged him out of the Weasley bubble. Her family watched her back, quieting quickly to watch the brilliant witch and her struggling counterpart.
Of course, Draco with his intelligence and aptitude for reading people noticed his past classmates coming right at him as soon as they escaped the cloud of family. Being more tactful than most of the people Hermione dealt with on a day-to-day basis, he turned.
"Healer Weasley, how are you?"
"I'm quite well, Draco. Thank you," Hermione never was one to lose her cool. Ron, however, continued to fidget behind her. "How are you feeling about the last train ride from which you'll ever pick up your son?"
The question shouldn't have startled the Malfoy head, but it did. He attended his son's graduation, much like most of the clan who stood a few feet from him, and knew this would be the last one. He knew he would never visit the train again, most likely. Regardless of his inner turmoil, he smiled slightly at her.
"Malfoys are never nostalgic," he calmly replied.
"Oh, come now, Draco. We know you do quite a few things that 'Malfoys never do.'" The witch grinned. Hermione was often in contact with the Malfoys since Draco and his wife were on the board at St. Mungo's. It was his ideas about medical malpractice in expecting mothers that lead to Hermione epiphanies about muggles and magic, at least medically speaking. (But no one was to know he had privately researched for the cause.)
Her small smile led to a smirk of his own, and suddenly, Ron was the only one pouting. He didn't like the interchange. He didn't like that his wife was being chummy with their old rival. He didn't like that no one had come to save him. He didn't like that no one near him thought anything was wrong. He didn't like that he was about to pick his baby girl up from her last train ride, and he definitely didn't like that he was waiting with Malfoy to do so. At this point, Ron Weasley was so sour that he probably didn't like the sun.
The slouching man perked up a little, though, when the great steam whistle was heard from around the bend. His baby was coming home. His Rosie would spend the next few months being with him and her family before she headed off to be a Curse Breaker. They would laugh and read her favorite childhood books and play Quidditch whenever they could. He had it all planned.
The train came to a rumbling stop, and students came pouring out. Hugo and Lily, having inherited the family hair, popped from the crowd like no other family could. The two, finally done with O., could more easily smile.
"Oi!" Ron yelled to them, "Over here!" Hugo rolled his eyes and made his way over to his parents.
"Hello dear. How was the ride? You didn't lose anything, did you?" Hermione asked.
"Mum, really," Hugo cried, "I only saw you three days ago, you don't have to act like this."
Beside the family exchange, Draco chuckled quietly. Of course the greatest witch of his age would coddle her son as much as she did her patients.
"Seen your sister?" Ron asked, his head lifted above the crowd.
"Rose is probably off with Scorpius," Draco said coolly. Ron ignored him. There was no way his baby could be fraternizing with such a—
There she was, rushing off the train. Her bright red hair billowed out behind her as she laughed and squealed, all the while looking behind her. She pushed her robes back higher on her shoulder and stumbled slightly. She had gone a few paces more before a blonde headed boy jumped, quite literally, off the train.
"Rose!" he yelled, a mischievous laugh interlaced with the single syllable. Her laughter gave her away as he chased her, the largest smile that could have ever graced a Malfoy's face firmly in place.
With his long legs, it only took a few strides for him to catch her. He reached, both arms outstretched, and clutched the gasping beauty in his arms, her back to him. Her head snapped back in laughter as she was wrapped in him. She topped his arms with hers as she leaned into the boy, oblivious to her father's jaw lingering by the ground.
Rose turned in her captor's arms, still smiling. Ron understood that they were talking, but did they need to stand so close? He couldn't see a centimeter of light between them! The anxious father watched as their smiles softened. Their heads were bent close, as if discussing a very secret matter. The boy smirked, and they laughed.
Crowds passed them, but they took no notice of the people. The reverse also held true: the lingering lines of Hogwarts students paid the pair not even a glance. Only their families couldn't help but watch as the pair pretended the world didn't exist.
Rose's arms snuck up to the boy's shoulders. She brushed her fingers through the tips of his hair that tickled the back of his neck. He offered a small smile as she leaned against him. He tucked his face into her hair and pulled her closer. After a few moments, he laughed, a wide-open belly laugh that pushed her away from him.
Good, Ron thought, They needed to separate. They needed to back the…
But he couldn't finish his thoughts. His desire for the space to widen was quickly shut down when the blond boy placed his hands on Rose's face. They were talking again, slow words and broad smiles that did nothing to soothe Ron. He watched their foreheads lean together as the boy's hands slipped to her shoulders, shoulders that slumped.
Ron's training as an auror made him excellent as reading people (maybe not as good as Draco), but he watched, baffled into silence, as his daughter turned from the boy.
The blond rushed to her other side. Placing a finger under her chin, he spoke again. She blanched, jumping away from him slightly with wide eyes. And then Scorpius Malfoy did the one thing Ron was not expecting.
He got down on one knee.
The bubble burst. Rose glanced up from the man in front of her to look at her father. Their eyes met, hers pooling slightly. He saw then what his prejudices had kept him from seeing early. He saw eternal happiness, love, hope, and… fear. She was afraid of her father, of hurting him and disappointing him. And in that emotion, Ron knew she would always be his baby above Scorpius Malfoy's wife.
And he nodded as his own tears spilled. Who was he to stop her happiness?
Ron watched through watery eyes as she broke into a world-spinning smile and turned into the man kneeling before her. He smiled, too, and reached for his pocket. He slipped a ring onto her finger. In one swift motion, he then stood and picked Rose up, spinning in pure glee.
The bubble was back. Ron was officially felt excluded from his daughter's life, and he turned to his wife.
"Scorpius asked for that ring at Christmas," Draco narrated. He clapped Ron on the back and smirked, "I guess you'll be seeing a lot more of me, eh Weaslebe?"