"You can just put those in the back for now," the contractor said as Scorpius poured over the construction schedule he'd just been handed. The worker nodded and levitated three boxes of empty jars that had just arrived at the new store.
"So we can still open at the end of the month?" Scorpius asked. The burly wizard nodded, observing the progress his crew had made in just the last few weeks.
"Should be good to. I just need your okay on some of the changes and it'll hopefully be smooth sailing from there."
Scorpius nodded as he finished reading through the list he'd been handed earlier.
"Looks good, Mr. Richards," he said as he put his signature at the bottom of the page. "If anything else pops up, let me know."
With a nod, Mr. Richards took the newly signed parchment before going back to his work. Scorpius took in the half finished store.
It had come such a long way in the past few weeks. Once the doxy infestation had been taken care of, the progress taking place seemed to double. Before he knew it, the construction crew would be out, leaving room for them to start moving in products and displays and actually getting the place customer ready.
He wasn't sure he was prepared for that yet, but it was happening anyway. They had it narrowed down to only a few candidates for the manager and assistant manager positions, who would then assist in hiring the other support staff. Everything they would need to stock the shelves was on order. All it would take was a note and all the merchandise and supplies would be delivered.
He could hardly believe today was the first day of February. Six months ago, he wouldn't have thought his life would look anything close to the way it did now. The good and the not so pleasant. He couldn't say what he had anticipated, but no one in their right mind would predict they'd one day be in love with the last person they ever expected to fall for. But Scorpius had, and it was bloody painful to deal with the aftermath, even if he had felt a weight lift when the truth was finally laid bare. There were plenty of things he knew he could gripe about if he wanted, but he found himself unable to. Despite everything, he felt a strange sense of peace.
Still, he'd been trying not to think about it all week, but it was proving difficult. It had helped on Saturday that Archie had needed his assistance. He'd shown up at Scorpius' flat extremely determined, but had needed a bit of coaching and encouragement before they actually left for the Burrow. Scorpius had done his best to ignore the fact that he wished he could march over there and do the same thing Archie was, but he'd said his piece. The rest was up to Rose.
They'd stayed for drinks and dessert at the Burrow before he was able to slip out with almost no one noticing. But Al had. He'd shown up at Scorpius' flat later that night and Scorpius had finally broken down and told him everything. Al seemed to think that it was just about the best he could expect under the circumstances.
"At least she didn't curse you," he'd said. "And she seemed to not hate you enough to result to old tactics tonight."
"She ignored me, Al," he'd argued. "Other than looking at me as if she didn't even know who I was anymore."
"Give her time, mate," Al had encouraged him. "It took you awhile to come around, and she's more stubborn than you are."
So he decided to be patient, and he'd spent the week doing his best to not get excited every time someone knocked on his door or an owl showed up at his window. How long had it taken him to come around to the idea? A month? She'd barely had more than a week. And she might not even come around at all. That was the hardest thing for him to realize. This silence could be all he ever had. He hoped she'd at least say something, especially since he laid himself bare in the letter he'd written.
But he was doing his best to not expect much. He could be understanding if she chose not to respond. If she thought that was best for her. This whole being selfless thing was getting more difficult each and every day.
He moved through the store, coming to a stop by the front windows as some crates were levitated through the door. His mind flashed to the night Rose and Jane had come to snoop on the shop and he couldn't help but smile at the memory. Her flustered state after being thrown to the floor stood out vividly in his mind, her red hair tumbling out from under the hat she wore to try and cover it up.
He shook away the memory, looking out the window into the busy midday foot traffic as the last of the crates were brought in. As he made to move outside, he stopped, wondering if his eyes were playing trick on him when they landed on that same familiar mass of hair.
Rose Weasley was standing across the street as traffic moved around her, a warm beverage in her hand as she looked at the semi constructed shop. He vaguely heard Mr. Richards call for a lunch break before all of the workers began to file out of the building, Scorpius still standing by the window and staring out at Rose.
"Anything else before we head to lunch, Mr. Malfoy?" Mr. Richards asked, coming to a stop in the doorway before following his crew out.
"That's all, thank you," he managed to say before Richards left the shop. She was still standing there, watching as the workers began to head down the street to various destinations for their lunch break. Before he could fully decide what he wanted to do, Scorpius found himself slowly moving to the doorway, stepping out into the abnormally sunny February day. He stopped on the front step and stared at her curiously.
Rose's eyes were trained up on the signage that was still being installed, and he watched as she sighed and her eyes drifted downward. He could see her breath catch in her throat the moment her eyes met his, her cheeks turning even pinker than the cold had already made them.
Should he say something? Go over and talk to her? What would he even say?
Before he could make a decision, she'd given him an awkward smile before turning and hurriedly making her way down the street in the direction of her own shop. He cursed under his breath, feeling helpless.
What exactly did that mean? Had she been merely checking out the competition? Or had she stopped because the shop made her think of him and she couldn't help being interested and curious.
Whatever her reasoning was, it was comforting to know that she'd at least been thinking about him, even if it was in a competitive sense. He'd take what he could get at the moment. Patience's. That's what this would take on his part.
He made his way back to his office, thinking over the final conversation he'd had with Archie when he stopped by before heading to meet Molly at the portkey office.
"She's gone ahead to secure me a spot," he explained, his smile never leaving his face from the moment he'd shown up on Scorpius' doorstep. "I told her I had a few goodbyes to make first."
"Did you see your mum?"
"I floo called her last night. She hasn't cared too much what I do for awhile now. And it's not like I'll be gone forever. We'll be back for the wedding and after that, who knows? We've got a few weeks to figure it out."
Archie's joy was infectious and Scorpius had a hard time not grinning right back at his friend. He'd been unable to shut up about how unbelievable it all was and that he couldn't wrap his head around the fact that this was all happening. Molly had gone over to Archie's flat the night before they left and they'd talked through just about everything; from their previous relationship to the years between then and now.
"Not gonna lie, it was bloody difficult at times," Archie had said, "but I feel like it was all worth it, you know? If all it took was a little patience on both our parts for us to be even better than we were before, I can't complain about that."
This was the part of the conversation that had stuck out most to Scorpius. In a way, he'd been waiting on Rose for years. He'd never fully developed feelings for her until recently, but would he have if she'd opened up to him sooner? The closest he'd ever gotten was during seventh year, but the presence of her boyfriend and the cold turn around that happened towards the end of the year had squashed any feelings he might have considered developing.
He could continue to be patient he resolved as he walked back to his office. No matter the outcome, it would be worth the wait.
Rose entered her shop feeling rather flustered after the accidental encounter she'd just had with Scorpius Malfoy. She'd merely gone out to have lunch and was on her way back when she couldn't help but stop in front of the future location of his shop.
There was something about it that was more aesthetically pleasing than the one in Hogsmeade, and it looked like it would be ready very soon. She remembered Scorpius saying it probably wouldn't be till March, but at the rate it looked like they were going, she wouldn't be surprised if it were sooner.
She hadn't expected him to be there, though. Her assumption was that he'd be hard at work in his office or in his research lab, not having time for something like visiting a construction sight.
This was just another way she'd been wrong about Scorpius Malfoy. It was obvious that he took great care in the things he did and took responsibility for his endeavors. Even if it meant going down to a noisy construction site during his lunch break. He'd invested a lot of time and effort into that store; of course he'd want to see it through. The things he'd said the night of the Christmas Party at the Potter's were proving to be right; it wasn't about her. He took pride in what he did and worked hard for his accomplishments. Each and every time she saw him, he gave her one more reason to want to give him a chance.
Ever since the night of Molly's party, she'd been determined to figure out what exactly she wanted. One thing she'd realized was that she had a difficult time imagining not having him in her life. Whether she was thinking of Leo or Scorpius she wasn't sure anymore. She'd made a great effort to try and blend one with the other, and it really hadn't been all that difficult. There were times throughout the week when she'd read through some of his old letters again, and every now and then she'd see a glimpse of the Scorpius she'd known since she was young peeking though. There were many ways that Scorpius Malfoy was a part of her life, and she found she didn't want to let that go.
So why had she bolted when she saw him today? It's not like she couldn't have said hello and asked how things were going. That would have been perfectly acceptable. She didn't have to give him any type of answer yet, but what if he had asked? She wouldn't have known what to say.
And Rose very much wanted to know what she wanted the next time she talked to him. If she went into the conversation with only a half formed idea, it could make things even messier. She'd probably say one thing and then contradict herself and they'd never get anywhere. Did she want him in her life? Yes. Did she know in what way? No. Would she ever? Who knows.
She hadn't talked to anyone about what she now knew. Her first choice would have been Molly, but she'd been a little too caught up in other things the last twenty-four hours she'd spent in the country. Rose had said goodbye to her at the party, and she had no time or desire to mess with the state of joy her cousin had been in. Maybe she'd write to her, or wait to tell her the week of the wedding. But she needed advice. From someone who knew her and knew Scorpius and was as unbiased as possible. Was there even such a person?
Al and Abigail wouldn't work. They were too close to both of them and would mean well, but Rose didn't trust them to not just want to see her and Scorpius together and forget the rest. Lily would likely blow her lid and be too caught up in the drama and romanticism of it all. Same with Jane. Dom tended to be too harsh in her judgments and Rose didn't feel like dealing with that. Hugo would likely be a sensible choice, but she didn't particularly feel like going to her younger brother for relationship advice. She worked her way through the rest of her cousins in her head, and couldn't for the life of her figure out who her best option was.
The rest of the work day dragged by - Jane flitting around the store with nervous energy. She had plans to hang out with Hugo, Louis, Lily, and Carter that night.
"It's like he's test driving me in front of his friends before he take definitive action," she explained when Rose asked why she was so nervous. "If this goes well, it might mean he's ready to actually take that next step."
Rose had simply chuckled and rolled her eyes in amusement, even though Jane was probably right. It had been more amusing than anything to watch Jane become more and more smitten with Hugo. At first, she'd seemed hesitant when they were just spending time together as friends, but soon even Jane couldn't deny that he was different around her than anyone else.
The day had been busy and business had been growing as word continued to spread about Rose's new burn paste. As she locked up, Rose thought about going by Al and Abigail's or maybe Dom and Ben's, but she knew she was in too much of a funk to fool them. Jane was sufficiently distracted by her own life, but at least Al had to know by now that she knew Scorpius was Leo. And Dom might not be very perceptive at times, but Ben was.
Instead, she found herself going into Sam's rather than walking past it on her way home. It was a Tuesday night so it wasn't that crowded, and she thankfully didn't recognize any of the patrons. She sat at the bar, leaning heavily on it as Sam approached her.
"Wotcher, Rose. White wine?"
"Something stronger," she grumbled. He looked at her with a raised brow before pulling a bottle of firewhiskey out from under the bar.
"Rough day?" he asked, pouring her a glass of the amber beverage.
"You could say that," she said with a shrug. "More like a rough week, to be honest."
She sipped the beverage, feeling a sense of relief as the burning liquid hit the back of her throat.
"No Jane tonight?" asked Sam. Rose shook her head.
"Nope. She's out with my brother."
"Really?" he asked in surprise. Rose just nodded.
"That the reason for your foul mood?"
"No," Rose assured him. "No, that's not it. I'm fine with all that."
"Well, I've got time and not a lot of customers," said Sam, leaning on the bar. "What's up?"
Rose sighed, looking at the bartender's open and curious face. Maybe this was someone she could talk to. He knew both of them well enough in school, seeing as they had all been prefects together, and he saw them at the bar all the time. Sometimes even together. And bartenders were supposed to be good at advice, right? It wouldn't hurt to at least tell him a bit of the truth.
"Sam, what do you think of Scorpius Malfoy?"
This didn't appear to be the topic Sam expected. He looked at her in surprise for a second before turning thoughtful.
"All around decent bloke, I'd say. Did well in school, hung around good people, helps run a successful and legitimate business. Not to mention he's easy on the eyes, from what I hear."
Rose let out a snort of laughter at Sam's smirk and eyeroll. He chuckled along with her.
"There a reason you're asking?"
She concentrated hard for a moment on the proper way to phrase things before responding.
"He and I… well… we've never exactly gotten along."
Sam's expression showed he clearly believed this to be an understatement. Rose ignored him and continued.
"But that sort of started to change."
He looked very intrigued now, and Rose found herself wanting to just spill everything. So she did. Starting with how she might have once fancied Scorpius in school, then going through the whole anonymous pen pal development, to where she was today. She'd been able to put away three glasses of fire whiskey by the time she'd finished.
"So now, I've got no fucking clue what to do because yes he lied to me but I probably would have done the same thing or worse and he really is charming and handsome and there are just so many things about him that make him almost too bloody perfect."
She knew she should probably stop now, seeing as she most likely wouldn't be saying any of this without the added help of the alcohol. But she couldn't. There was something so freeing about finally getting every little thing off her chest.
"And I know we 'hated' each other or whatever, but we didn't really. I think we were both just too much in denial about how we could actually feel about each other and all the potential there. At least I was. Scared the shit out of me when I was seventeen, to be honest."
She finished off her fourth glass before continuing.
"It was all my fault, really. And now it'll be all my fault again if I run away from everything. Have you ever been in love, Sam?"
He was doing his best not to laugh at her ramblings as he vanished her glass and placed the bottle back under the counter.
"It's possible. Why? Are you in love with Malfoy?"
Rose shrugged helplessly. "Don't know. Maybe. I thought I was falling in love with Leo, which, as it turns out, is Malfoy. I started taking a fancy to him too before I found out the truth. Felt kind of bad about it, since I knew I still harbored feelings for Leo. Feels weird now, knowing I was developing feelings for two people when it was actually the same person. It's all rather confusing."
She was feeling dizzy, and gave Sam a grateful smile when a glass of water and a plate of chips appeared in front of her.
"What does love even feel like?" she asked through a mouth full of potato.
"What is it that people always say?" said Sam, looking contemplative. "'You know it when you feel it?'"
"And those smarmy gits who are in love go 'when you know, you know.' Gits. That's not helpful at all."
Sam chuckled as she chugged her water, her senses sharpening just a bit thanks to the cool liquid and the plate of food.
"You'll probably say the same one of these days."
Rose rolled her eyes at him in annoyance, quickly finishing off the last of her food.
"What should I do, though? Should I say something to him?"
"Do you even know what you would say?"
That had been her issue all week. It wasn't like they could go from enemies, to something similar to friends, to revealing the truth that they actually had fallen for each other, and then to suddenly being together just like that. Not with their history. But she didn't feel like she could go to him and just offer friendship either. That would be misleading. Because she knew she would probably want more eventually, even if she didn't feel ready for it now.
"My advice?" he said, and she nodded in appreciation. "Just be honest. I know that might not sound helpful, but at least figure out how you feel, and then tell him. Even if it's complicated and not entirely black and white. Blokes may like the chase, but some of us actually appreciate it when girls are up front rather than playing games."
It was almost embarrassing that this hadn't exactly occured to Rose. No, she hadn't been planning on being dishonest, but she was trying to come up with some type of calculated response that would get the point across but wouldn't reveal too much too soon. She was trying to protect herself.
But hadn't Scorpius done the exact opposite in writing her that letter? She doubted he could have possibly been more honest. Unless he had completely laid out exactly how he felt about her. That had been the one thing he purposely failed to do. At first, she'd used this as an excuse to do the same, but maybe him holding back meant she shouldn't. He was right; if she thought about it, it was rather obvious how he felt, but he had no way of knowing how much she actually had grown to care for him. As Leo and as Scorpius. As himself.
"Bloody hell I'm going to have to tell him how I feel, aren't I?" she asked Sam with a pout. He just smiled at her.
"That's the ticket, Rose."
She gave a moan, resting her head on the bar as she let it all sink in.
"Fuck, I'm drunk," she mumbled into the wooden surface.
"Then might I suggest making your confession another night?"
She lifted her head enough to glare up at his smirking face before pushing herself off the bar and getting unsteadily to her feet.
"I sent a note for someone to come get you," said Sam nonchalantly. Her eyes snapped to him in a glare.
"I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself. And when did you have the time to do that?"
He gave her a pointed look. "I can multitask very well when drunk people ramble."
Rose flushed slightly at his comment.
"Fine. Who did you-?"
Rose didn't need to finish the question, because at that moment, someone walked through the door and looked around the bar before his eyes landed on her. Scorpius glanced uncertainly between Rose and Sam before slowly beginning to approach them. She quickly looked back at Sam in panic only to see him thoroughly enjoying her predicament.
"I thought you said I should do this another night!" she hissed at him.
"And you should," he assured her. "But I assumed you didn't want your family to know about this and with Jane out of the picture he was our best option."
Rose settled for scowling at Sam as Scorpius reached them.
"I got your note," he said to Sam in a steady voice. "Were you talking about-?"
He gestured to Rose, his eyes staying on Sam, who nodded.
"I'd take her myself but I can't exactly leave. You mind? Next meal's on me."
Scorpius looked at her uncertainly, and Rose knew she was staring rather unashamedly at him, willing herself to be just a bit more sober. Eventually, he nodded.
Rose sighed, accepting her fate and pulling some money out of her bag.
"Chips are on me," said Sam, returning a few coins to her with a smile. She returned it and was able to walk rather steadily out of the bar, Scorpius trailing behind her.
"So, I don't actually know where you live," he stated awkwardly when they reached the street. "I can walk you or you can floo from mine."
He gestured across the street to his building, and Rose suddenly remembered from the last time she'd been there that he lived across the street.
"That's how come he asked you?" she asked, looking over at his building rather than at him, but she saw him nod out of the corner of her eye.
"He's asked before, if I know the person," he said, shrugging as if it were no big deal.
Rose nodded, her face scrunched up in pain at how damn chivalrous he was. "That's nice of you."
They stood awkwardly beside each other for a few moments before Rose took a deep calming breath of the cold, fresh air, hoping to clear her head a little more. It only made her feel sick.
"I don't live much farther that way," she said, gesturing down the street, "and I think apparition and the floo would make me sick right now."
Rose only paused long enough to see him nod in understanding before she set off down the street, wishing she'd stopped at three drinks, or maybe even two. This was definitely not the way she'd seen her night going.
They walked down the street in silence, Rose only occasionally stumbling and immediately regaining her footing. He reached an arm out to steady her a few times, but never touched her. Not a word was said as they finally reached her building. Rose took a deep breath at the front door, hating the fact that she didn't live on the first floor.
"How far up?" he asked, finally breaking the silence.
"Just two flights. I think I can make it from here," she forced out, refusing to look at him. She could sense his nervous energy as he stood somewhat behind her.
"Yes, I'm sure," she snapped, turning to glare at him. He looked taken aback by her harsh tone for a moment, before his face turned to a very familiar one of frustration.
"I'm just trying to help, Weasley."
"And I didn't ask for your help."
"I don't bloody care!" said Scorpius. "Merlin, Weasley. Do you have to do everything on your own?"
Rose wasn't sure why she'd snapped at him, and everything in her brain was slightly fuzzy, but she knew she was frustrated by this whole thing and here he was; butting into her life again. And the response that made the most sense in her addled state was to have a go at him. It was either that or snog him, which didn't seem like the wisest choice given the circumstances.
"I certainly don't need you to do things for me, Malfoy," she practically growled at him.
The fight seemed to go out of Scorpius as he heaved a heavy sigh. She could see his warm breath as he shoved his hands in the pockets of his coat, his eyes flickering over her face for a moment.
"I know. Can't blame a bloke for trying, right?"
He gave a hopeless shrug and Rose started to feel herself panic, knowing he was about to walk away and desperately not wanting him to.
"Take care, Weas-"
He'd turned to leave, but slowly moved back to face Rose at her outburst, a questioning look in his eyes. He almost looked hopeful.
"I'm drunk," she stated matter of factly. His eyes widened in surprise and confusion.
"Okay?" he said hesitantly.
"I'm drunk, so we're not talking about this right now," Rose continued, gesturing animatedly between the two of them.
"Right," Scorpius said, looking uncomfortable. "Well then, goodnight-"
"If you could change anything; how everything happened or the choices you made or I made or even the bloody fact that I play a central role, would you?"
Her question came out so readily, she realized it must have been in the back of her mind for awhile. His expression turned contemplative and he stared at her for a few moments before shaking his head and looking down at his feet. Rose thought she could make out the ghost of a smile on his downturned face, and her assumption was proved correct when he looked up at her - his smile somewhat hopeful, but guarded.
"Honestly? I don't think I'd change a thing."
His answer shocked her, and he chuckled at what she assumed was the wide eyed look on her face.
"Why?" she managed to ask. He shrugged, smiling at her. It was incredible to note the difference between his current expression and any way he'd ever looked at her before. It was more open and honest. He had nothing to hide and nothing to lose.
"Because I wouldn't want to change a thing about you."
When she didn't respond, he gave her a nod, wished her goodnight, and headed back in the direction they'd come. In a state of confusion, Rose made her way up the stairs to her flat, managing to stay upright the whole time. It wasn't until she'd flopped down on her bed, dreading the headache that would come tomorrow, that she let herself think about what he'd said.
What the hell did that mean?
The next morning, Rose woke with a headache and a desire to do nothing but go back to sleep. Thankfully, she'd been taking more and more closing shifts and letting Jane open, so she still had a few hours before she had to be at the shop. It took a few moments for the night before to come back to her, and when it did, she groaned in pain and buried her face in her pillow, embarrassed by her actions.
Had she really gotten drunk and needed someone to escort her home? And had that someone really turned out to be Scorpius Malfoy? She'd probably looked like such an idiot. And what had she even said to him? Something about doing things differently?
She managed to pull herself out of bed and prepare for the day. It wasn't till she'd fed Rhea and was making her own breakfast that she remembered what had been said the night before.
"If you could change anything; how everything happened or the choices you made or I made or even the bloody fact that I play a central role, would you?"
"Honestly, I don't think I'd change a thing."
"Because I wouldn't want to change anything about you."
It didn't make any more sense to her in the light of day, but that might have partly been due to her lingering headache. She checked the clock to see that it was just after nine, and she didn't have to be at the shop till ten. That gave her just enough time to make a quick stop by the Ministry before heading to work.
As she walked down the street ten minutes later, the day frightfully cold and dreary, Rose did her best to actively formulate a way to articulate her current predicament and how she felt about it. If she was going to talk to her mother, she needed to have her bases covered.
Rose made her way through the familiar halls of the Ministry of Magic to her mother's office. She and Hugo used to come visit their parents often when they were younger and Rose had taken to coming to see them on a regular basis once she left Hogwarts, but it had been awhile. She saw her brother before she managed to make it to her mother's office.
"Hey, what brings you here?" Hugo asked when he saw Rose. He turned in his chair to face her as she approached his cubicle.
"Just something I wanted to talk to Mum about. How'd it go last night?"
Hugo's face immediately lit up in a grin and he averted his gaze from his sister shyly.
"It went well," he said with a pleased nod. "I know they all know her already, but it was a different type of situation so I'm glad it didn't feel uncomfortable or anything. At least not to me."
Rose looked at Hugo with her brow arched in surprise. She'd been expecting little more than his initial statement that it had gone well.
"Wow. This is really more than friendship, isn't it?" said Rose. Hugo turned back to his desk with a small smile on his face.
"We'll see," he said. "Mum should be just about done with her morning briefing."
Rose rolled her eyes at her brother's evasive behavior and dismissal of her, but she smiled as she made her way through the cubicles to the large wooden double doors that led to her mother's office.
"Morning, Rose," Mrs. Richards said pleasantly. The middle aged witch had been working for Hermione Weasley since she'd been made the Head of the Department of Magical Law.
"Is she still in meeting?" Rose asked.
"Just about done," Mrs. Richards assured her, and the door swung open a moment later.
"Can't thank you enough for cooperating," Rose heard her uncle say as he led the way through the double doors.
"No problem," came the sound of an unfamiliar voice, and Rose knew her face gave away how shocked she was to see the blond hair and sharp features she was more accustomed to seeing on a much younger man appear behind her uncle.
"We've got a meeting room all set up. Won't take too much of your time. Oh. Hello, Rosie."
Rose tried to return the smile her uncle gave her as he moved to kiss her cheek in greeting. Draco Malfoy was shaking her mother's hand, and he gave Rose a friendly nod of recognition, stopping only to say something to Mrs. Richards who smiled warmly at him before he followed after the Head of the Auror Department.
"Let me know when my ten o'clock is here, Valerie," Hermione said to her assistant before smiling at her still stunned daughter and inviting her into the office.
"You alright?" the older witch asked as she moved towards the table in her office that housed a kettle and tea things.
"Why was Draco Malfoy meeting with you and Uncle Harry?" Rose couldn't help but ask. Hermione gave her daughter a quizzical look as she poured them each a cup of tea.
"That's somewhat confidential, but we're working on the case of a Death Eater that's been on the run for years and we only managed to catch a few months ago. Draco's giving testimony on some of his actions during the war."
"Oh," Rose said with a nod, doing her best to regain her footing. It had been such a shock to see Scorpius' father so unexpectedly. She couldn't remember a time when she'd actually exchanged pleasantries with the man.
"It's not the first time it's happened and he's always eager enough to help," her mother said as Rose accepted a cup of tea. "You seem a little put off by it, though."
"No," Rose assured her mother. "I've got nothing against him. I've seen him from a distance at parties and such, but I'm just not sure I've ever actually met him before and his resemblance to Scorpius… it's quite striking."
Except Scorpius was more attractive than his father, in Rose's humble opinion. Then again, he was younger and didn't have the receding hairline and there was a warmth to his eyes that didn't seem to be as present in the older Malfoy. As he'd walked past her, Rose gauged that he was roughly the same height as his son. It was a good height, Rose thought to herself. She had to tilt her head back to look at Scorpius, but it wasn't a strain, and she could imagine herself staying in that position for awhile and being comfortable, whether they were talking or doing other enjoyable things…
"Rose, are you listening to me?"
The cup rattled on the saucer in Rose's hand as her mother grabbed her attention. Hermione appeared a mix between amused and concerned as she looked at her daughter.
"Sorry," said Rose, attempting and failing to remember what her mother had apparently been saying to her. Hermione seemed to realize her daughter hadn't heard her, and patiently repeated herself.
"I said, since when is he 'Scorpius'? He's been 'Malfoy' for as long as you've known him."
Rose felt her cheeks grow warm under her mother's questioning gaze.
"We've been...er...getting along better. Lately."
Hermione's brow rose in surprise at this news.
"Really? How'd that happen?"
She moved to sit in one of the two chairs facing her desk and Rose joined her somewhat reluctantly, taking the other seat.
"Believe it or not, that's actually why I came to see you. I need some advice."
Hermione seemed even more surprised at this, and Rose couldn't blame her. Getting advice from her mother wasn't something Rose did often, and it was usually begrudgingly done on the occasions it happened. Humbly approaching her mother for help was new territory.
"I have to be at the shop soon so I'll just get straight to the point," began Rose, fortifying herself with a few gulps of tea before continuing. "Scorp - Malfoy and I have been sort of communicating with each other for months now without even realizing. It was professional and anonymous at first. You remember the article I wrote about sixth months ago? Well, since he's obviously in the potions world, he took interest and we got to writing back and forth and eventually we really started to get to know each other and became invested emotionally. He figured out it was me a few months ago, but I only just found out, right after we'd started to get along in person."
Rose paused for breath, her mother watching her calmly but obviously a bit overwhelmed by the sudden information.
"I was upset that he'd kept the truth from me, obviously, but he wrote me this letter explaining his side of things and Mum, it was beautiful, truly. I haven't been able to come up with any type of response and I hadn't even seen him since then. Until last night."
Her mother still patiently hanging on her every word, Rose flushed with embarrassment at having to admit her drunken state of the previous night.
"I'd been at Sam's and I was… a little worse for wear. So Sam got Scorpius to come to the pub and see me home since he lives right across the street. From the pub, not me. Anyway, I tried not to say anything since I knew I'd had too much to drink and it would be a bad idea, but right before he left, I asked him if he would have changed how any of it had happened. The way we'd acted and the fact that it even had anything to do with me. Everything, basically. And he said he wouldn't, because he wouldn't change a thing about me. And I've been racking my brain all morning to try and figure out what the hell he meant."
She collapsed back into her chair and drank more of her tea and waited as her mother stirred her own tea, watching Rose closely. It was a few moments before an almost mischievous smile appeared on Hermione's face.
"Has he told you he loves you yet?"
Rose couldn't help it. Her jaw dropped open and her eyes widened in astonishment at her mother's question. She was also certain her face was bright red.
"What? No, of course he hasn't. Who says he actually does?"
"Rose, when your father and I were in school, I did everything I could to get him to grow up," Hermione began. "And it wasn't until I stopped and actually started appreciating him for exactly who he is that I realized how much I loved him."
Rose tried not to be annoyed by the fact that her mother was comparing her current situation to her parent's, but she'd come to her mother for a reason, right?
"I know every relationship is different," said Hermione, showing how well she knew her daughter, "but the fact is, until you learn to accept someone for everything about them, you can't truly love them. Yes, you can want them to grow and encourage them to better themselves, but never, ever expect anyone to change for you. You wouldn't want to be forced to change for them, right?"
Rose nodded, still unsure what point her mother was trying to make.
"What I'm saying," Hermione continued patiently, "is that I know you and Scorpius Malfoy have had a relationship riddled with contempt and insults and a notable lack of warmth. For him to say that he would change the way it all happened would be almost the same as saying he would change you. Because I know you and believe it or not, I know Scorpius as well. The two of you might not get along, but your father and I have had the chance to actually have remarkably amicable conversations with him. It gives me enough insight to guess that any animosity between you is likely more your doing than his. Am I right?"
The stern yet warm way her mother was talking to her made Rose vividly remember the many talking tos she'd been given as she grew up. She could only nod in shock at the accuracy of her mother's assessment.
"Then, Rose," Hermione continued, her voice softer as she placed her tea on the desk, taking Rose's and placing it beside her own before she reached out to grip her daughter's now free hands. "If he were to change anything about what's happened between you up to this point - the bickering and the teasing and everything else - he'd be changing you. Because whether you like it or not, you're stubborn and spirited and you've never been afraid to speak your mind or let people know exactly how you feel. Look at the way you handled things with Dom when she and Ben were having problems. And Molly and Archie? I know you had to have something to do with that."
Rose couldn't help but smile as her mother looked at her somewhat reproachfully, but proud all the same. Her grip on Rose's hands tightened slightly, and Rose knew this was the important part.
"If he changed anything that happened, he'd be changing you. And I know that would be a shame, because I love everything about my headstrong and independent daughter. And I suppose he feels the same."
It made perfect sense. Of course it did. His letter had made it as clear as possible how he felt about her without fully expressing it. It was just something she'd been struggling to come to terms with. Until her mother had said it, Rose hadn't realized how much she needed to hear someone else confirm the truth she thought his words had shown.
And he'd been so forbearing last night. She hadn't exactly been the picture of grace in multiple senses of the word. But he'd been kind and considerate and when she'd given him a chance to make it clear how unhappy he was with their current predicament, he'd surprised her with his answer. And now, fully acknowledging what it all meant, she felt warmth and joy and fear seep through her every cell.
"As barking as it sounds," Rose began quietly, unable to keep a grin from forming on her surely bright red face, "I might feel the same way about him."
Hermione smiled brightly and Rose let out a laugh of amused disbelief.
"I take it you already knew all this and just needed someone to tell you?" said Hermione. Rose couldn't help but roll her eyes.
"Why do you have to be so damn smart?"
Hermione laughed. "It's not always as fun as it seems. So what's the real reason you came to see me? Other than having the truth confirmed."
Rose sighed, annoyed yet thankful for her mother's perceptiveness.
"I know I should say something to him, seeing as he's already been honest about how he feels. I'm just not sure how. Or even when. And after last night I'm so bloody embarrassed I'm not sure I can speak to him again."
She buried her face in her hands for a moment and took a deep breath. Looking back up at her mother, Rose was surprised to see she was being watched with amusement.
"What?" she asked her mother. Hermione smiled at her.
"I've just never seen you like this before. It's quite shocking, actually."
Rose looked at her mother in annoyance.
"This isn't helping."
"Right, sorry. You said you got to know each other through writing letters?"
"And he told you everything through a letter as well?"
She nodded again.
"Well, you could always do the same," Hermione suggested, "but might I recommend a slight difference?"
"Yes, please. Just tell me what to do," Rose said impatiently. Hermione smiled, her eyes filled with mirth.
"You're not going to like it."
A/N: Hello all! Hope you enjoy the update and I'm not killing you too much by making you wait patiently for them to get their act together. Happy Reading!