Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, or anything else that may be referenced in this chapter. The bold underline italics texts are direct quotes from the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Book. Google Translate was used for any language other than English.

A/N: I have a new Harry Potter fanfic called To Find a Way that I am able to update more frequently if any of you want to read my newer writing. Ceaseless thank you to yous all for reading, reviewing, following and favouring and I hope you all enjoy this chapter! :)

Twitter: Prof_McGonagal

Chapter 8

Rose rested her head against Blaise's shoulder, feeling her fear of being captured drain out of her as he carried her across the foyer to the sitting room. Her twisted ankle throbbed and was painfully bruised and swollen, yes, but at last, after hours of uncertainty, she finally felt safe.

"…Right then, let's have a look at this," Giselle said, twisting her hair up into a bun with the aid of her wand as Blaise lowered Rose carefully onto one of the two enormous blue and white striped sofas in the sitting room so that her back was against the armrest and sat down beside her, leaning against the armrest, too, slipping his arm comfortingly around her shoulders. Sitting down on the other end of the sofa, Giselle leant over Rose's swollen ankle, eying it critically. "Can you move it?"

"I- I think so," Rose answered rather shakily, trying to do just that and hissing through her teeth as her ankle screamed in protest. "It hurts though."

"Hmm." Giselle pursed her lips and swept her hair over her shoulder. "Bolmey; Peeley!"

"Yes Mistress?" two female-sounding House-Elves apparated into the room, curtseying as they did so.

"Bolmey look at Rose's ankle and her chin, please and tend to it and Peeley take Rose's things to her room, please," Giselle instructed. "…Where are your things, Rose?" she asked, turning to the girl.

"In the box I was carrying- it has an undetectable extension charm on it; Zygmunt and Miss Marple are inside in their cages with my trunk." Rose explained, biting her lip anxiously as she realised. "…The box went flying when I fell."

"They'll be fine- animals are tougher than you think and the cages would have protected them," Blaise said comfortingly, squeezing Rose's shoulder.

"You don't need to worry about anything Miss," Peeley said with a smile. "Peeley will take care of everything. Is that all you need Mistress?" she asked turning to Giselle.

"Thank you, Peeley," Giselle said with a smile. Peeley curtseyed and disapparated.

"If you don't mind my saying so, this is a very unusual outfit choice for you, Rose." Giselle said, as Bolmey reached over to remove Rose's right shoe.

"Yeah," Rose agreed, wincing as her ankle throbbed painfully in protest as Bolmey unbuckled and slipped the wedge heel off her foot, "I, um, I had to disguise myself as Madeline Jones to get out of Godric's Hollow safely; and Fleur said that these are the types of things she wears, so..."

"Madeline Jones?" Giselle repeated, watching Bolmey as the elf continued to examine Rose's ankle. "As in the girl that used to live down the street; who went to Beauxbatons?"

"Yeah." Rose confirmed.

"Why her?" Blaise asked, pulling a face.

Rose poured out the story the Order's top secret plans for her and Harrys escapes, including Madeline's older sister Eleanor, breaking the narrative every so often to draw in a sharp breath or wince as Bolmey moved her foot gently from side to side; then applied a cool, soothing light blue potion to her ankle and the small bruise that formed on her chin and bandaged Rose's ankle with bandages and applied a she summoned with a snap of her fingers.

"… then I came here and, well, you know the rest." Rose finished. "Thank you for having me, Giselle," she added, smiling gratefully at the Blaise's mother as Bolmey lifted her foot and set it on a pillow; summoned a pack of ice wrapped in a cloth and placed it against her bandaged ankle before stepping away from the sofa. "I really appreciate it, especially since you left the Order."

"It's nothing, Rose; really," Giselle replied, smiling back. "You're Blaise's girlfriend; you're like family, and we Zabini's protect each other. Now, Bolmey what's wrong with Rose's ankle?" she turned to the elf.

"Her ankle is lightly sprained Mistress." The elf said, turning and smiling up at Rose. "You will be alright in a few days but you will need to rest."

"Okay." Rose smiled back, despite feeling a slight twinge of dismay at the thought of not being able to move around freely. "Thank you Bolmey."

"You're welcome Miss." Bolmey replied. "Is there anything else you need, Mistress?" she asked, turning to Giselle as Peeley had done.

"No thank you, Bolmey, you may go." Giselle replied.

Bolmey curtseyed and disapparated.

Giselle glanced at the enormous gold watch on her wrist and got to her feet.

"Well, I'm due in my office for a Patronus-call, so I will leave you two to catch up."

"It's Sunday." Blaise pointed out, frowning slightly. "What meetings are you having on Sunday afternoon?"

"I'm trying to order a wand case in the shape of a walking stick for Antonio for his birthday next month; but I'm having to resort to the black market to get exactly what I want. I would normally ask Ollivander for a favour but he is… missing, so Ihave a call with a old friend who might be able to help me." Giselle replied, sweeping her hair back over her shoulder so that it hung down her back and tucking the sides behind her ears. "Now, do you either of you need or want anything before I take my call?"

"No, thank you." Rose and Blaise shook her heads. Giselle nodded and crossed the room to leave.

"Oh, by the way," she said, pausing just short of the door and turning around. "Your bedroom, Rose, is in the same corridor as Blaise's, like it was last time you stayed here. The circumstances are rather different this time, so I trust that you will use your separate bedrooms - I'm far too young to be a grandmother."

Rose felt heat rise to her cheeks and hastened to agree as Giselle raised her eyebrows suggestively. "Yeah, sure."

"Whatever you say." Blaise agreed, flushing slightly, too, as his mother turned to him.

"Thank you." Giselle grinned and left the sitting room, closing the door behind her.

Rose shifted slightly on the sofa, snuggling closer to Blaise as best she could without dislodging the ice pack soothing her ankle as they turned away from the door. As safe and happy as she felt being with Blaise, there was a lot she had to talk to him about and none of it was light-hearted.

"You okay?" Blaise murmured into her hair, kissing her temple as she curled her fingers lightly around the shoulder of his t-shirt.

"…I dunno," Rose answered honestly after a moment, pushing her glasses up her nose as she turned to look at him properly.

"What's wrong?" Blaise asked, looking at her in concern.

"Harry and I had a big conversation at Remus and Tonks' wedding…" Rose began and poured out the whole conversation, everything from Harry's first approaching her to his distrust of Severus and Draco and Severus's school potions textbook and his issues with her choosing to leave and saying they would be proper siblings to her prophecy and her and Harry's not knowing each other before their Hogwarts' days to Harry's mentioning the Dark Lord's Horcruxes to her not being sure if she would trust Draco to the Dark Lord's childhood and back to the Horcruxes- what they were and how Harry planned to find and destroy them- to Harry's arguments for her to leave with him, Ron, and Hermione to her thinking again about going with Harry and Severus's promises to protect her and deciding to stay, finishing with her and Harry's agreement that she would leave if things got dangerous.

Blaise swore softly under his breath as Rose finished speaking, staring at her slightly open-mouthed. "…That is a conversation." He said. "The Dark Lord's a half-blood? And he was orphaned? And his Horcruxes ate made up of stuff from the Hogwarts' founders?"

"Uh-huh." Rose confirmed, nodding.

"Merlin…" Blaise breathed, shaking his head. "…and Potter has no idea how he's going to find or destroy the Horcruxes, he's just going to go off and hope for the best- that is not a good plan."

"I know- and Harry said the same about mine," Rose reminded him. "… Which I actually wanted to talk to you about." She added after a moment.

"…Okay…" Blaise said slowly, gesturing that she continue.

"I'm a bit scared to go back to Hogwarts." Rose admitted. "Because, like I said before, Severus isn't really a match for the Dark Lord- he had no choice but to agree to my staying in the Dark Lord's manor the summer before fifth year."

"That's not going to happen again." Blaise said firmly. "I'm not going to let anyone hurt you."

"It's not me I'm scared for." Rose said. "I mean, I am scared for me, but I'm mostly scared for you."

"Me?" Blaise asked, his eyebrows raising in his surprise. "Why me?"

"Because you're my boyfriend." Rose explained. "People know I care about you a lot and I'm scared that if the Dark Lord thinks I know something about where Harry is, he'll torture you to get me to tell him and he won't believe me when I say I don't know anything; and what with Severus's not being able to stop the Dark Lord from doing whatever he likes there's nothing preventing you from getting hurt. The reality is that if the Dark Lord wants something to happen it's going to, he's used people Harry and I care about to get to us in the past and I'm not going to let you get hurt because of me."

Blaise tensed slightly. "…What- what are you saying exactly?" he asked.

"I'm not breaking up with you; no way." Rose said quickly, hastening to reassure him, continuing as Blaise relaxed. "I really, really don't want you to get hurt but I really, really don't want to end anything either. It's selfish I know and you deserve to feel safe- I- I guess I'm trying to ask if you know a way you can be safe without our having to break up- you must agree that there's a chance the Dark Lord will use you to get to me."

"…Yeah," Blaise nodded after a moment. "And I don't want you to be in a situation where I'm getting hurt because the Dark Lord thinks you know something anymore than I want to be in that situation myself; but I don't want to end anything either."

"So what do we do?" Rose asked quietly, pushing her glasses up her nose. "How do we fix this?"

"… What if we kept it- our relationship- a secret?" Blaise suggested after a moment. "What if we made it so no-one knows? Put it around to everyone that we've decided to end things for whatever reason- to concentrate on NEWTs; or for safety when Potter doesn't come back- and stay friends; but really stay together."

"You mean sneak around?" Rose asked. Blaise nodded. Rose tilted her head to one side, thinking over the idea. "…Okay," she said after a moment. "But what if someone finds out?"

"Then we assess the extent of the situation and go from there," Blaise said. "We don't know for sure that the Dark Lord is going to want anything to do with you, and if what Snape said in his memory about keeping you safe is true and the Dark Lord doesn't want anything to do with you and we know that for certain than we can go public again. If he does want something to do with you, and we get caught, we can either trust whoever finds us- which is risky- or work out how to obliviate them; it's not as though we're noble Gryffindors." He smirked.

Rose grinned. "You know that's not a bad idea," she said. "That could work- if we're careful, there's no reason why it won't."

"So we do it?" Blaise asked. "We sneak around?"

"Yeah." Rose nodded. "…But we don't have to start right away, do we?"

"No," Blaise shook his head with a grin, leaning towards her. "I daresay we can wait a few days… for realism's sake."

"Oh, of course." Rose smirked back, leaning up and closing the gap between them.

"Merlin, I've missed you," Blaise murmured in between kisses, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her closer.

"I've missed you too." Rose murmured back in kind, running her hands through his hair and leaning into him. "Ah!" she hissed as the movement dislodged the ice against her swollen ankle, pressing instead against her foot. Pulling away from Blaise, Rose forced her hair from her face and down her back and pushed her glasses up her nose so she could see without any obstruction and leant down the sofa to get the ice pack off her foot. "Stay." She ordered the ice sternly, setting it back against her ankle. Blaise chuckled lightly, cupping her face and kissing her softly as she returned to leaning against the armrest and snuggled back against him.

"You've been in the wars," He said quietly, lightly tracing the top of the bruise on her chin with his thumb.

"That I have; more than once." Rose agreed, her previous injuries flashed through her mind. She paused as she realised that since her transforming back into herself at Eleanor Jones' house her hair had been covering the scars on her arms and just above her chest; but since she had forced her hair down her back, they were now clearly visible. Heat rose up her neck to her face at the thought- so self-conscious was she about them that she had been making sure to cover them at all times; to the extent that the only other people who had seen them were Madam Pomfrey in the Hospital Wing after the Sectumsempra incident; and Fleur in the guestroom at Remus and Harry's house- but they had gone unremarked upon despite Rose's self-consciousness, for Fleur had no idea where the scars had come from. But before Rose could do anything to cover scars again, she saw Blaise's gaze flicker down her blush on neck and land on her least favourite memory of the Sectumsempra incident; the two rough-skinned, jagged, overlapping scars that looked rather like the smile on a Halloween pumpkin that lay between the bottoms of her collarbones and her chest. Blaise's eyes widened at the sight, and after a moment his gaze flickered to her upper right arm, where two long, thin, rough skinned-scars lay along the width; before returning to Rose's.

"Are- are they from- you know...?" he trailed off meaningfully

"The Sectumsempra thing? Yeah." Rose nodded, flushing further. "Y-you're the first person to see them who knows that- aside from Madam Pomfrey; Fleur saw them in the guestroom at Remus and Harry's house when I was changing into Madeline, but she didn't know what they were so she didn't say anything." Her self-consciousness eclipsed her anew as she spoke and Rose bit her lip, reaching to cover the scar above her chest with her hand.

"Hey." Blaise said softly, catching her hand as her fingers brushed over the scar to cover it. "You don't need to feel embarrassed," he said firmly, looking straight at her. "They're just scars."

"They're- they're really ugly, though." Rose said, tears filling the corners of her eyes despite herself.

"You're beautiful." Blaise countered. "You're bloody gorgeous Rosie and whatever they look like your scars do nothing to detract from that; if anything they accentuate it. Your scars show that you're a survivor; that really nasty things have happened to you, but you've got through them and recovered and picked yourself back up and carried on with your life; and there is nothing embarrassing about that."

"…Is that what you think about your scars?" Rose asked wiping her eyes behind her glasses.

"I've come to, yeah," Blaise nodded. "What with all the modelling stuff I had to do this month I had to think of something that would give me confidence so I could do the jobs properly- though admittedly I only told myself the survival stuff," he grinned. "I don't think of myself as gorgeous."

Rose giggled. "You are though," she said, leaning across and kissing him. "And thank you." She murmured, resting her forehead against his when they broke apart.

"Anytime," Blaise smiled, kissing the tip of her nose, making her giggle again.

For several minutes they simply sat against the armrest of the sofa, stretched out across it, kissing and snuggling. Then a slight breeze floated through the sitting room's open window and such was the thinness of the top of her Madeline costume that Rose couldn't help but shiver slightly.

"Are you cold?" Blaise asked, looking down at her.

"A bit." Rose admitted sheepishly, shifting closer to him.

"Well, that shouldn't be allowed." Blaise shook his head, kissing her forehead softly. "Peeley!" he raised his voice slightly.

CRACK!

"Yes Master?" Peeley apparated into the room with a curtsey.

"Can you get a jumper from my trunk please?" Blaise asked. "They're in the bottom- I haven't unpacked from Italy yet."

"Yes Master," Peeley nodded and disapparated. Seconds later she returned, holding a rolled up dark blue jumper in her arms.

"Tha-" Blaise began, but paused, his smile fading as he caught sight of the jumper the elf was carrying. A split-second later, however, he was smiling again. "Thank you Peeley," he said, taking the jumper.

"You're very welcome, sir." Peeley curtseyed, apparently noticing nothing. "Your pets are now resting comfortably in your room Miss," she added to Rose, "and your trunk has been un-shrunk and is by your bed."

"Thank you," Rose smiled, relieved.

"Is there anything else you need, sir?" Peeley asked Blaise.

"No, thank you," Blaise shook his head. Peeley curtseyed, disapparating with a loud CRACK!

"What's wrong?" Rose asked Blaise, gesturing to the jumper. "You paused when you saw the jumper."

Blaise hesitated slightly, flushing. "…Er, nothing's wrong, exactly," he answered, running a hand through his hair. "Just, er, this jumper, it's, er, cushioning this." He unrolled the jumper as he spoke, and Rose blushed bright read as she saw the familiar thin gold chain holding the elaborate gold filigree heart shaped locket with a small, clear vial inside it. It was the necklace Blaise had given her for their one-year anniversary; that she had given back to him the night they broke up.

"...Oh." she said, looking up from the necklace to Blaise. "… I didn't know you kept this."

Blaise flushed further. "Yeah, well, I'm quite proud of it, honestly." He admitted. "But it doesn't matter, we can forget this- you're cold-"

"Wait," it was Rose's turn to catch Blaise's hand as he made to stow the necklace behind the vase of multi-coloured daisies on the dark wooden end table behind their heads. "You worked really hard on that necklace and it's really beautiful- it shouldn't go to waste." Rose said, squeezing Blaise's hand

"You want it back?" Blaise asked, staring at her in surprise.

"If you'll give it back to me." Rose nodded.

"Yeah, of course- I made it for you," Blaise nodded, too. "D'you want me to put it on for you?"

"Yes please." Rose smiled, turning around. "…But wait," she said, turning back around as a thought occurred to her, "no one will believe we've broken up if I'm wearing the necklace."

"Oh, yeah," Blaise pushed, looking down at the necklace; his expression becoming thoughtful after a moment. "… Maybe they will," he said, taking his wand from his pocket. An expression of great concentration on his face, Blaise raised his wand and waved it over the necklace.

"What are y-" Rose began, breaking off abruptly, her eyes widening as before her very eyes, the entire necklace turned to pure silver, the filigree heart shaped locket became whole, remained the same size but transfigured into a flower; the vial within the heart settling deep into the bud of the flower, which was an open locket.

"It should clip closed," Blaise said, lowering his wand after a few moments, his expression clearing. "No one'll be able to see inside and it shouldn't even be very clear it's a locket when it's closed, except when you look up close, of course. Now you can wear the locket and no one will know its from me- for all anyone will know you bought it in Diagon Alley."

"… Right." Rose nodded, staring at him in amazement. "That was brilliant- how the bloody hell did you do that?"

Blaise grinned. "It's just a spell my mother invented; changes gold jewels to silver- she taught it to Irma and me when we were kids." He explained. "There was once a time my mother didn't have as much money as she does today; and every now and then she feels like upgrading one of her pieces. It's transfiguration- you visualise what you want the jewelry to change into as you cast the incantation: mutatio aurum; and you concentrate on that image until the transformation's complete."

"That's amazing."

"Yeah, it's pretty cool," Blaise agreed. "Shall I?" he asked, clipping the bud of the flower closed and unclasping the necklace's clasp.

"Yes you shall," Rose replied, turning around and lifting up her hair; a smile curling at her lips as she felt the necklace slide around her neck and the clasp click into place. Her smile widened as she let go of her hair, looked down and saw it had fallen exactly the way it had almost a year ago; and the flower shaped locket rested right on her jagged scars.

Rose turned back around to face Blaise, her smile widening as she felt the nice, safe comfortable, yet exciting feeling spread through her once again, increasing as his gaze met hers.

"I love you."

The words fell from her lips before she had time to be nervous; then she didn't, for Blaise smiled back and tucked a lock of hair behind her ear that had fallen over her face as she let go of it.

"I love you too."

Rose's smiled widened further and she leaned across and closed the gap between them passionately. Blaise's hands fell to her waist, as smiling against her lips he kissed her back just as passionately; deepening the kiss and sinking down into the sofa with her as she sank back down into the cushions; smiling against his lips as his fingers traced tiny circles between her waist and hips; she drew him in close, her hands running through his hair and down his neck and shoulders; her previous coldness forgotten.

"… and then, would you believe it Mother, he had me put on the green suit!"

Rose and Blaise broke apart hastily at the sound of Irma's voice coming closer and closer from the foyer outside. Rose ran a hand through her hair, scrambling to sit up and lean back against the arm of the sofa as Blaise rolled off her, sat up and leant back onto the arm of the sofa, too. The cold air prickled at Rose's skin as it had previously and she leaned forwards, pulled Blaise's blue jumper from where it lay squashed in the narrow gap between her and Blaise on the sofa and pulled it on; sliding her arms through the sleeves and pulling them down until she could see her hands as she leant back against the armrest of the sofa again, resting her head on Blaise's shoulder as he slipped his arm around her shoulders; just as the door to the sitting room opened.

"Well, you two look cosy." Irma remarked with a smile, looking around the door into the room.

"What are you doing here?" Blaise asked, frowning.

"Mother called me- I'm helping her prepare for the A.G.W.A.E.D.J."

"The what?" Blaise's asked.

"The Annual, Global, Wizarding Auction of Expensive Diamonds and Jewelry," Irma explained, raising her eyebrows at her brother. "Surely Mother's told you about this."

Blaise's brow furrowed. "… I think she mentioned it at the beginning of last year," he recalled. "Didn't she take stuff from the Room of Requirement?"

"I think so," Irma nodded. "but the point is that she presented the most expensive collection of diamonds and jewels to the board and now she gets to pick the date and host it. She's picked the date- Friday the twentieth of February, but now she has to pick invitations and make a guest list and short out display cabinets and lights and security and food and drinks and tables and chairs and an auctioneer and Merlin knows what else, so she has enlisted me to help her plan everything- but don't worry," Irma grinned. "we won't interrupt your love-fest."

"Molto apprezzato," Blaise replied; Irma grinned.

"Irma!" Giselle called from what sounded like rather a way away, her voice echoing around the foyer.

"That's my cue." Irma said, swinging her hair over her shoulder. "Nice seeing you again, Rose."

"Yeah, you too," Rose smiled back; Irma vanished from sight, the door closing behind her.

"When did your mother take stuff from the Room of Requirement?" Rose asked

"Er- about a week before the Christmas holidays," Blaise answered, frowning slightly in his effort to remember. "…I think it was at the height of my bloody hell I'm doing NEWTs stress, so it must've slipped my mind instantly."

"Bloody hell I'm doing NEWTs stress?" Rose repeated, amused.

"Yes," Blaise nodded, grinning at her expression. "Absolute nightmare it is."

"I remember." Rose nodded, too. "… Real thing this year." She said after a moment. "Actual NEWTs."

"Then we graduate," Blaise went on, stroking her arm and curling the ends of her hair through his fingers, "and start our lives."

"In the middle of a war." Rose pointed out quietly.

"Yeah," Blaise acknowledged, "but we'll be okay, you know: positivity."

Rose smiled, leaning up and kissing him softly. "Positivity." She murmured, snuggling close to Blaise as he slid his arms around her, and kissed her back anew.


With some help from Blaise and a pair of crutches Peeley brought her, Rose was able to join Blaise, Irma, Giselle and Antonio in the dining room for dinner that evening. As happy and safe as she felt and as delicious as the food was, Rose couldn't help but also feel slightly nervous for Harry. He would be leaving Godric's Hollow that night, if he hadn't already, and she hoped that his leaving would be or was as smooth as hers had been.

But just as the lasts of desert were being cleared away by the House-elves, Rose's forehead burned like it was on fire. So bad and sudden was the pain that she drew in a sharp breath, clapping her hands to her head.

"What is it?!" Blaise stared at her in alarm.

Rose could not answer at once- within moments the pain had identified tenfold and she was forced to close her eyes as they watered. Unnervingly, she felt her wand shudder through the pocket of her jeans-

Then, just as suddenly as the pain had come, it receded until it was throbbing and Rose was able to open her eyes, feeling very panicked indeed. Everyone was staring at her, something that did nothing to appease Rose's panic. "T-the Dark Lord," Rose managed, out of breath from the pain in her head. "He- He wasn't angry- I didn't see anything-" Rose scrabbled for an explanation, landing on the only logical conclusion. "I- think he was near Harry."

"What?" Giselle demanded sharply, staring at her. "Are you sure?"

Rose nodded. "Yes." She answered. The pain had been identical to that that had occurred every time she and Harry were near Voldemort.

Within seconds both Giselle and Antonio were on their feet and out of the room; Giselle murmuring the incantation to cast a Patronus Charm as they did so.

"I thought the Order's plans for you and Potter were secret." Blaise said, frowning.

"They were." Rose said, pushing her hair from her face.

"Maybe the Order's got a rat." Irma said darkly, finishing the last of her wine.

Rose flinched at Irma's choice of words, but nodded her agreement. "Maybe." She said, dropping her gaze to the red placemat in front of her. Her forehead was still throbbing; it hadn't seared again nor had she felt any triumph or happiness- maybe Harry was okay; but she hadn't felt any anger either…

Several minutes passed before either Giselle or Antonio returned to the dining room, and when they did, their expressions did little to appease Rose's worry.

"Your brother's okay, Rose." Giselle said; Rose sacredly had time to feel relieved before Giselle went on. "I just got in touch with Remus. The Death Eaters were waiting for them; and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named went after each of the seven Harry's looking for the real one. It's not looking very good for them, though; not all of the Order's made it to the Burrow yet, and one of the Weasley twins- George has lost an ear."

"Lost an ear?" Irma repeated, starting at her mother.

"Yes." Giselle confirmed, grimacing. "Severus was with the Death Eaters- he lost his hood during the fight and Remus saw him cast this spell- Sectumsempra; blasted George's ear off."

"Severus cut off George's ear?" Rose asked slowly, feeling rather sick; her confliction about ho she felt about Severus heightening tenfold.

Giselle nodded uncomfortably. Rose dropped her gaze to her placemat again, oddly embarrassed. Blaise squeezed her hand comfortingly under the table. Rose caught his eye and managed a small smile, not quite sure what to say. In truth, what she felt about Severus was now so very complicated that she didn't really know how best to say it aloud.

… She was still going back to Hogwarts and wanted to talk to Severus ad get her answers, but whether he was fighting with the Death Eaters and needing to keep up appearances or otherwise he had no reason to cut off anyone's ear…

Rose's head hurt anew, but it had nothing to with the Dark Lord. She sank down slightly in her seat, wanting nothing more than to find some kind of peace with regards to how she felt about Severus, but just as sure that she wasn't going to get that peace for a while.

"You alright Rosie?" Blaise asked as he and Rose made their way to the sitting room. It was a quarter of an hour later- Irma had left to return to Italy and Giselle and Antonio had gone to Giselle's office to work on finalising some investments.

Rose shrugged non-committedly, adjusting her hold on her crutches slightly. "Why would Severus use Sectumsempra?" she asked. "He knows what it does, and if he needed to keep up appearances with the Death Eaters he could've thrown spells that don't cut off people's body parts."

Blaise shrugged, looking almost as confused as Rose felt. "I dunno why he did it." He answered. "Maybe he was under pressure or- or he felt like he had to cast extreme spells to keep up appearances and George flew in the path of the spell trying to avoid another one or something."

"Maybe." Rose nodded, not entirely convinced but wanting to believe him.

Blaise sighed, running a hand through his hair. "I'm sorry Rose."

"What are you sorry about?" Rose asked in surprise, leaning her crutches carefully against the side of the sofa as they reached it.

"That you have to deal with all this stuff," Blaise answered, holding Rose's waist as she half-hopped half- flailed over around the side of the sofa; sitting down beside her as she fell into the cushions. "Snape and Draco and Potter leaving and everything... It feels like you haven't had a real, long break with no sort of turmoil since the start of fourth year."

"…Well, yeah," Rose agreed, titling her head to one side, leaning into Blaise's side as he slipped his arm around her shoulders. "But I've had some breaks, of sorts- Irma's wedding; Grimmauld Place; and this summer's been pretty good, even with Harry's deciding to leave. I'm holding out for Norway though," she smiled. "When we go I'm going to be so relaxed I'll forget everything."

Blaise grinned. "When are we going to go?" he asked, curling the ends of her hair through his fingers. "To Norway I mean?"

"When all this is over?" Rose suggested. "When there's no chance of either of us getting hurt or being hunted- or if there comes a point when either of us can't take it anymore and have to get out?"

"Sounds good." Blaise agreed. Rose smiled, leaning up and kissing him lingeringly. As she did so, her forehead ached with pain and she drew away from Blaise sharply, pressing her right hand to her forehead and pressing down hard in a fruitless attempt to relieve it, wincing

"More pain?" Blaise asked, looking at her in concern.

"Y-yeah," Rose managed, her eyes watering slightly from the pain. "Ah!" she hissed loudly through her teeth as the pain intensified, closing her eyes as they watered more than ever.

"Rose...?" Blaise asked concernedly, his fingers moving from her hair to her shoulder.

But Rose couldn't reply. Such was the extent of the pain that for several moments she couldn't even draw breath to speak- then, all at once, her forehead seared like it never had before; and as Rose screwed her eyes shut even more, a voice roared inside her head.

"You told me the problem would be solved by using another's wand!"

And the image of a gaunt old man lying on a smooth stone floor in rags burst into Rose's mind; the man was screaming, a horrifying long scream; full of excruciating anguish...

"No! No! I beg you, I beg you..."

"You lied to Lord Voldemort, Ollivander!"

"I did not... I swear I did not..."

"You sought to help Potter, to help him escape me!"

"I swear I did not... I believed a different wand would work..."

"Explain, then, what happened. Lucius's wand is destroyed!"

"I cannot understand... The connection... exists only… between your two wands..."

"Lies!"

"Please... I beg you..."

Then Rose- and Harry, too, for she could sense he was there- saw the horribly familiar pale hand lift its wand and felt the Dark Lord's rush of venomous fury… the fragile-looking old man laying on the stone floor writhed in pain-

"Rose!"

"Is everything alright?"

The pain was gone as suddenly as it had begun. Rose opened her eyes, flushing red as she realised her left hand was gripping Blaise's t-shirt so tightly her knuckles were white, tears were staining her cheeks from her eyes' watering, Giselle stood behind the sofa and both she and Blaise were staring at her in alarm and concern.

"Sorry," Rose hastened to sit up, let go of Blaise's shirt and wipe her eyes and cheeks. "I just saw- the Dark Lord's got Ollivander…" Rose pushed her glasses up her nose and told tale of everything she had seen.

"Poor bloke." Blaise said when Rose finished speaking, grimacing sympathetically.

Giselle nodded her agreement, her expression becoming thoughtful as she did so. "I wonder how Lucius's wand was destroyed…"

"Harry and the Dark Lord's wands share the same core," Rose said. "Dumbledore said at the end of fourth year- after what happened in the maze- that because they will not work properly against each other; so The Dark Lord must have taken Lucius's wand to try and kill Harry, but Harry destroyed it defending himself or something…"

"Likely," Giselle agreed nodding. "In a similar vein to Potter's escaping He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named," she went on after a moment, her tone and expression becoming very solemn indeed. "… Remus just sent me another Patronus. I thought you should know, Rose- he and Tonks think their house might start being watched at some point so they've moved to their own safe house; and Alastor Moody's dead."

"Dead?!" Rose and Blaise repeated together, staring at Giselle in alarm.

Giselle nodded, leaning against the back of the sofa. "He was one of the protectors in the Order's seven Potters plan," she explained. "He was protecting Mundungus Fletcher, who disapparated the second he caught sight of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named- whose killing curse hit Mad-Eye in the face."

"Merlin," Rose shook her head, sickened. "That's horrible."

"To put it mildly," Blaise agreed, nodding.

"Dung was always a spineless worm but I never thought he'd go that far." Giselle said. "What's strange about the whole thing is that Remus mentioned that it was Dung who put forth the seven Potter's plan in the first place- why would he suggest something dangerous that he wasn't prepared to carry out, especially with his being a particularly spineless, own-life valuing worm?"

"He wasn't expecting He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, was he?" Blaise pointed out. "Do they know who snitched yet?"

"No- but if I find out, I will let you know," Giseele said, stifling a yawn as she straightened up from the back of the sofa.

"I'm going to bed." She said, sweeping her hair over her shoulder. "See you in the morning."

"See you." Blaise raised a hand.

"Goodnight." Rose smiled.

Giselle smiled and waved back and left the room, closing the door behind her.

Rose settled back into the sofa, curling into Blaise's side and toying idly with the sleeve of his t-shirt. Looking down at her as he slipped his arm around her and resumed playing with her hair, Blaise saw she was staring across the room at the low-burning fireplace, her eyes slightly glasslike behind her glasses and her top teeth steadily embedding themselves into her bottom lip. A moment or so passed, then expression returned to her eyes, her teeth slipped from her lip and she looked up at him, a sheepish smile tugging at her lips and a light blush spreading across her nose and cheeks as she saw him looking at her.

"What was that about?" Blaise asked, smiling at the sight.

"Just redoubling my Occlumency wards- trying to close my mind as much as possible and cement it so." Rose explained. "I don't want to see Ollivander get tortured again- or anything else the Dark Lord does for that matter."

"Fair enough." Blaise said reasonably, nodding. "Dumbledore wanted you- and Potter- to stop seeing that stuff, after all."

Rose nodded, too; flinching slightly as Blaise's mentioning Dumbledore brought forth thoughts of Severus, and by extension, Draco and the complicated jumble of emotions tangled up inside her. Severus she knew about thanks to Kreacher; but Draco-

"What?" Blaise asked, catching the flinch.

"Do you think Draco's okay?" Rose asked. "When Kreacher reported to me what I asked him to find out about Severus, he said that Severus was staying at the Dark Lord's manor filling out a load of forms- some of them with the Hogwarts' Crest- and making lists- like he was making plans for Hogwarts; but Kreacher also said that Draco was at the Manor, too- and I don't know if I should care if he's okay or not given everything that's happened but we grew up together so I can't help it even though I feel guilty-"

"Please breathe." Blaise interrupted. "Seriously, it's imperative to human survival." He grinned faintly.

Rose giggled, flushing slightly and taking several deep breaths as she realised that she had indeed forgotten to pause for breath in her efforts to justify her wonderings.

"To answer your question," Blaise went on, titling his head to one side in thought. "…I think Draco's okay physically, but mentally… I think he might regret the choices he made with regards his job; and hopefully planning to try and make amends," Blaise hesitated for a moment; and when he next spoke his tone was quiet and curious. "…are you going to forgive him; if he does try and make amends?"

Rose hesitated, biting her lip anew. She and Draco had always been there for each other; they'd always trusted each other; and she couldn't imagine her life without him. She remembered how strange it felt not to write to him after Lucius and the other Death Eaters broke out of Azkaban; not asking if he was okay… but then she remembered he allowed her to help him with his job, knowing she wouldn't if she knew what it really was; that he had Imperiused Madam Rosmerta when there were other sources, like Borgin, he could have used to get what he needed- things Rose, after all her years growing up with Draco, trusting and loving him like he was her brother, never so much as dreamed he would ever do… Rose pushed her glasses up her nose, meeting Blaise's gaze anew and answering honestly:

"I don't know."


Click!

Severus exhaled with relief inwardly as he closed the lid of his briefcase and then his trunk; having finally finished the lasts of his unpacking and filling out the forms he needed to in order to take over the position of Headmaster at Hogwarts. He, Draco, and the inhabitants and prisoners of the Dark Lord's manor had moved to Malfoy Manor following the escape of the Death Eaters- the Dark Lord wished to be based nearer to the Ministry of Magic, and, Severus suspected, wished to torture Lucius further for his failing to retrieve the prophecy. Having locked his trunk and briefcase and directed them both to rest in the corner of the room with a few waves of his wand, Severus left the room he had been given and went in search of Draco. Though he had made a valiant effort to hide it, Severus could tell that Draco was quite distraught over everything that had happened, and thus he, Severus, had taken to seeking Draco out every few days of late and making sure he was okay and offering to listen if Draco ever needed to talk. So far Draco had remained tight-lipped, returning Severus's offer with an appreciative yet rather strained smile and going on to throw himself studiously into whatever he was doing whenever Severus checked up on him, thereby avoiding a conversation. Nevertheless, with an estimate of how Draco must be feeling what with everything he had done, Severus persisted.

The corridors of Malfoy Mano were unusually cold as Severus made his way towards Draco's bedroom. The Manor had always been an airy sort of place, but such was the lavishness of the décor, the roaring fires in every room and the echo of Draco and Rose's laughter as they played as children had always transformed the place, making it seem warmer and cosier. Now, however, the place would not have felt out of place had it been abandoned; it felt, Severus realised as he reached Draco's bedroom door, exactly like the Dark Lord's own Manor. Wincing slightly at the thought, Severus raised a hand and knocked three times on Draco's bedroom door.

A moment passed in silence, then Severus heard the pad of footsteps on the other side of the door, which opened a slither a moment later. One of Draco's grey eyes looked out at him, the whites slightly bloodshot.

"Hello Sev," Draco said, his voice wavering slightly.

"Hello Draco." Severus replied with a brief smile, eyeing Draco shrewdly. "…Are you alright?"

"Um…" Draco hesitated a moment, then drew away from the door and opened it further, allowing Severus access into the room. Severus raised his eyebrows slightly as he entered the room. Scrunched up pieces of parchment littered the floor and desk; on which two flat sheets of parchment, both of them clearly letters. One of them looked finished, but so far in the corner of the desk was it and so small was the handwriting that Severus couldn't read what was written; the other letter was shorter, heavily crossed out and and, Severus could see, addressed to Rose.

"You're writing to Rose?" Severus asked, turning to face Draco in alarm. "You know you can't send letters yet- it's too dangerous."

"I-I've been trying to w-write to my f-friends; Rose especially." Draco said, closing the bedroom door and hurrying past Severus to the desk, picking up the longer, finished letter and starting to roll it up, his voice trembling slightly with very forcibly suppressed emotion. "I-I know I can't send a-anything in case it's intercepted, but I r-really need to just clear my head and explain; and w-writing it all out helps, e-especially in letter f-form. It's just the more I think over everything I've d-done the more I r-regret not thinking; and the smaller I see the chance of my b-being forgiven, e-especially by Rose; I knew she wouldn't h-help me if she knew my job was to k-kill Dumbledore, but I let her help me a-anyway and I almost crucio'ed her brother and I Imperiused Rosmerta- but I dunno if she's f-found out about that." Draco finished rolling up the letter and slipped it into his desk drawer and turned to face Severus; and for a moment Severus was transported back to the time he had burst into a Muggle boy's garden shed in Spinner's end to rescue Rose and Draco from a Boggart in the summer between their second and third years, and saw Draco's expression as he looked at his Boggart Lucius and then Narcissa, too- sad, anxious and afraid. "Do you think I'll be forgiven?"

Severus hesitated, thinking over everything Draco had done and then looking at everything in the way in which he knew Rose thought. A grimace tugged at his lip but he pushed it away, not wanting to destroy any shred of hope Draco had. Instead he met Draco's gaze anew, and said what he had been telling himself every time he failed to break Rose's Occlumency wards and wondered if she would forgive him; or wondered whether Rose had found his message and discovered the contents of her old pencil case in his office:

"I hope so."

A/N: Please review! :)