“I mean it, kiddo. You better get your grades up or your dad is going to send you a Howler!”
“Oh, don’t listen to George. I couldn’t be prouder of you than I am already.”
Rose beamed and stuck her tongue out at her uncle. “So there,” she teased.
Ron and Harry were away on an important Auror mission, so Uncle George and Aunt Angelina offered to send the four of them back to school along with his own children.
Lily was reapplying her berry-colored lip gloss—she had to be picture-perfect to see her boyfriend again, after all—and explaining to Hugo the benefits of her new high-end nail varnish. (The color was all wrong on her and she would give it to him free of charge if he did her laundry for the next month. The poor bloke was actually considering it.)
Al, having already said his goodbyes to his mum and the other adults, had boarded the train to find Scorpius before his best friend had to report to the prefect meeting.
“I think I’ll send dad and Uncle Harry a letter later this week. They’re in Singapore, right?”
Hermione nodded. “Yes. Just be sure to give Andy some extra love and attention when he returns from the trip.” She ruffled her daughter’s owl’s feathers through the cage Rose was holding.
“I will. I love you, mum.” They hugged tightly, and Rose was thankful to have a good relationship with her parents. Rose then hugged her uncle and aunts and joined her cousins and classmates on the Hogwarts Express.
Rose wandered through the train, wheeled trunk dragging from one hand, owl in the other. Violet poked her head out of a compartment, waving to Rose, who maneuvered her luggage into the small room quickly so as to prevent corridor traffic.
Roxanne, who was currently playing with her cat, Clara, was in the compartment as well. Al’s stuff was there too, but he was nowhere to be seen. Thankfully, only Roxanne had taken a seat by the window, so Rose moved to sit across from her.
Rose people-watched for a few minutes, gazing at the kids who barely got to the platform in time to make the train and first years saying goodbye to their families, parents going back for second and third and fourth hugs.
Al entered the compartment, chocolate frog in hand, and stepped over various pieces of luggage to sit down. “Rosie, you should probably head over now.” He snapped off the chocolate leg and handed it over to her. “For the dementors, just in case.”
“Thanks.” Rose oozed sarcasm but ate the chocolate. She smoothed her (unsmoothable) curly red hair and glanced down at her robes to double-check that her Prefect badge was still securely fastened to it.
When she had maneuvered around rushing students and arrived at the meeting room, she stood with the other Gryffindor Prefects: Will Wood, Thomas Brown, Anderson Hughes, and the two Longbottom sisters, Alice and Abby. She smiled, thinking back on patrols with Alice during first term.
Carl Baker, Hufflepuff, and Ruthie Marling, Ravenclaw, called roll, noting that everyone was present. It was refreshing that the neither of the heads this year were in Gryffindor or Slytherin for the first time since Rose’s second year; Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs were generally tamer as a whole.
Marling and Baker zipped through protocol, welcoming everyone back from break and explaining the house switch for first-time Prefects. Rose zoned out a bit before they started reading off the pairs.
“Scorpius Malfoy and Rose Weasley.” Marling’s light voice rang through the room. It was unexpected to hear those surnames assigned together. They had worked together a few times throughout their schooling, but it wasn’t often. Professors usually waited to see how they interacted around each other, and when the barely-tolerable dynamic was observed, they were seated as far away as possible from each other. It was only occasionally when a teacher would notice that Malfoy’s best mate was a Potter, and this name game was forgotten.
Rose somehow wasn’t shocked, though she thought she should have been. They rarely got along, but they did work well together, each of them picking up on something the other missed.
Malfoy caught Rose’s eyes from across the room and nodded. Rose nodded back.
“We still alternate on a night-to-night basis. Tonight, I believe, is the 6th years’ night. I have schedules that go through the end of the month,” Baker announced when all pairs were called. He and Marling handed them out, and Rose folded hers up small and stuck it in an inside pocket of her robes.
“I missed this,” Rose breathed as the Sorting ended and the food appeared on the tables. “I don’t know what their secret ingredient is, but the elves in the kitchen make the best pumpkin juice I’ve ever had.” She took another sip and nodded.
Just like first term, Rose ate meals with Violet, Lily, Hugo, and Fred. Lucy was really the only Gryffindor cousin who didn’t eat with them, but that’s because she always skipped lunch to smoke her Muggle cigarettes and spent breakfast and dinner with her stoner Hufflepuff friends.
As Rose chased a rather overly-frosted bite of cake with the last of her goblet of pumpkin juice, Fred commented wryly, “Well, we all know what Rose wants for her birthday.”
Rose beamed. “If any of you ever have an overabundance of the stuff, you can let me take it off your hands.”
“Take what off their hands? Drugs?” Malfoy asked, appearing out of nowhere right next to her.
“Yes, Malfoy. My cousins and I run an illegal potion-popping business. I’m in charge since no one ever suspects the Prefect. We even talk about it out in the open at dinner!” As if her her tone wasn’t enough, Rose sent him a scathing look.
Malfoy made a face. “Ok, look, I just came to tell you to meet me in the Slytherin dorms when it’s time for patrols. We can work bottom up.”
Having delivered his message, Scorpius began to leave. Rose called, “But how will I get in?”
“You’re smart; figure it out!” he called back with the trademark Malfoy smirk and sat back down at the Slytherin table.
Having been on the Gryffindor Quidditch team for four years going strong, Rose was in pretty good shape. Sure, Quidditch wasn’t the most cardio-intensive sport, but flying required strong leg muscles and balance. Not to mention all the laps they ran around the pitch every practice.
But that did not mean she enjoyed walking all the way from the tower to the dungeons. Frequent trips to the Burrow probably should have gotten her used to it long before she even started school at Hogwarts, but Rose was fond of complaining.
Rose counted the steps, using the portraits hanging in the corridors as a guide. The last thing she wanted was for the moving stairs to lead her to the other side of Hogwarts.
“Oh, hey, Rose!” Emilie called. She was approaching from the opposite direction. “You headed to the dungeons?”
Rose nodded. “Malfoy and I have patrols.” She twisted her prefect badge, the robes tangling up in the pin. Rose pulled the fabric free. They walked down Dungeon Corridor together, Emilie telling her lavish tales from back home. Her bright voice sounded out of place in the gloomy hallway.
“Parseltongue,” Emilie said after they tiptoed down the last set of stairs.
“That is the most stereotypical Slytherin password I have ever heard,” Rose stated.
“If you want something creative, go ask the Ravenclaws for submissions. I’ll see you whenever,” she grumbled to Rose with a smile as they walked into the common rooms.
“Yeah,” she agreed, and took a seat on a cold leather couch. Even though she chose a seat away from the other students in the commons, she wasn’t afraid of the Slytherins. She didn’t feel the need to hide her Gryffindor tie. The world had moved past the rivalry and animosity, she liked to think. Rose watched Emilie disappear into her dorm, and when she was out of sight, Rose’s eyes wandered.
The Slytherin common room was the same as it had been the last time Rose had been there the night of Malfoy’s party and all the other times she’d been there over the years. Rose had always liked the atmosphere of the room. It was cold, since it was beneath a lake, but that underground, closed-in feeling also made it cozy.
Rose took a worn paperback book out from the inner pockets of her robes. She was about halfway into Coraline and was really enjoying the Muggle novel.
Scorpius walked in, laughing with Zambini. He noticed Rose and jogged over to her. “I’ll be just a minute,” he said. “It’s great to see you found a way in here.”
Rose shook her head. “Just go get ready, Malfoy.”
A few minutes later when they were exiting the common room, Scorpius asked, “How did you get in? Run into a Slytherin on the way down?”
Rose nodded. “Emilie, actually.”
Scorpius looked up. “Did she say anything about Al?”
“No. It was weird. She talked about the holiday pleasantly, as if nothing happened.”
“Do you think maybe she doesn’t know?”
“And what? He broke up with her because of a guilty conscious or because he wanted to be with Violet?”
“Could be either. I can talk to him, if you like.”
“If you want to. I really don’t care. I just don’t want anyone to get hurt because Al’s being an idiot.”
“And what about Violet? She can’t be okay being the other woman, right? That doesn't sound like her."
"Can't we just forget it? This is Al's business, not ours. He'll figure it out in his own time."
They made their way back up the stairs and turned a corner. Scorpius opened a broom closet on the left and whispered, "Lumos." When they saw good and well that the only inhabitants were cleaning supplies, he muttered, "Nox," and closed the door. They moved on.
"Weasley, I know you don't want to meddle. But if we don't get involved this could hurt a lot of people. This is your best mate we're talking about, and my childhood friend."
Rose peered down a dead-end corridor. "I just think we'd make it worse. I'll keep my eyes on Violet and Al and tell you about any suspicious behavior, but Emilie and Al have broken up. There's nothing we can do."
"I suppose I'm just glad Al didn't inherit the Weasley stubbornness," Scorpius mumbled as Rose waved to Alice Longbottom, who was patrolling with a Hufflepuff.
“Hey, he has more in common with you than with me.”
Malfoy shook his head. “Like what?”
Rose could think of a number of things. “You’re both annoying, but Al is fun, so I guess that doesn’t really count.” She thought for a minute. “Well, for one, you both have stupid middle names, Mr. Scorpius Hyperion.”
“Okay, Al’s name isn’t stupid. Severus Snape was a Slytherin and a headmaster. Get some respect.”
As they walked up a set of moving stairs, Rose retorted, “He was also a Death Eater and he treated my family terribly when he was the Potions Master. He was best friends with my grandmum when they were young and later became horrible to her, all because he was jealous. I’m not going to respect him just because he was on Dumbledore’s side for fifteen minutes.”
Malfoy held up his hands in defeat. “Alright, alright, we won’t have this argument. My first name translates to scorpion and my surname means unfaithful, so my middle name had to be just as interesting. It’s a Malfoy tradition, having strange names. Dad’s name means dragon and his father’s was derived from the Muggle Christian devil, Lucifer, which came from the Latin word lux, meaning light. That’s where we get lumos from.”
“I shouldn’t be surprised you know so much etymology."
“What about you? Aren’t you a writer?”
“Point taken. What does Hyperion mean? Because if it means hyper, it’s not very accurate. Scorpion, on the other hand, is very accurate.”
Scorpius ignored Rose’s jab. She was just trying to get a rise out of him.“Clearly you don’t know your Greek mythology. Hyperion was the Titan of the sun and light.” He grinned cheekily. “I suppose you could say I’m your sun.”
Rose grimaced. “Gross.”
They finished their patrols with relative ease. Most students were too busy settling back into their dorms to sneak around the school. At any rate, patrols were a breeze. Rose could’ve almost said it was peaceful, walking through the dark school with a silent Malfoy by her side.