Right before transfiguration class was due to start the next Monday, Headmistress McGonagall stormed in, her velvety robes floating behind her. Professor Lindsay Howard looked up from her desk, where she was arranging notes, and adjusted her glasses.
“She sure knows how to make it dramatic,” Scorpius muttered.
“I don’t think she has any other setting.”
Scorpius looked over at Rose and rolled his eyes, catching eye contact with her as he did so.
“So…” Rose rose her eyebrows. “Are you gonna tell me what happened on Saturday?”
“I think Howard is about to start.”
“Class, get out your notes from last week. If you’ll remember, on Friday we were discussing Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfiguration.”
Rose’s parchment was neatly labeled CONJURING SPELLS at the top in purple ink. Her scrawl was occasionally compared to ancient runes, but at least it was organized. Scorpius’ notes, on the other hand, were indecipherable: his perfect handwriting ran across the page, sans margins, in dense, wobbly lines.
From the back of the room: “One day... I’m going to be the first person to conjure food.”
Al leaned against the doorway, his thumb in the pocket of some impossible pants that looked like they belonged in the eighties.
“Mister Potter,” McGonagall began, “I expect that you understand that is theoretically impossible.”
“Nothing is impossible, Headmistress. This is a magic school.”
“Perhaps you should instead be thinking of how to to conjure up the ten house points you lost for being late.”
“Class hasn’t even started yet!”
With one piercing glare, McGonagall shut him up. As he slunk to his seat, he passed by Rose and Scorpius and whispered, “if I'd known McGonagall was observing today, I would have made my entrance more dramatic. Something to make Uncle George proud.”
“Oh, stop pouting, Al. Between the three of you, I have had enough drama from the Potter kids.” Rose glared at him, but then, feeling bad, she gave him a sort of half smile.
“Good morning,” said Professor Howard. “Last week you learned the theory for simple conjurations; today we will begin with bird conjurations. While I encourage you to use your peers if you’re having trouble, I should not hear other conversations. I’ll be walking around to evaluate your progress and offer help, and I’m sure Minerva will be willing to answer any questions as well.”
“Avis,” Rose inflected. It didn’t work, so she tried again and again until she was able to perform the spell successfully.
“How’re you doing?” she asked Scorpius.
A thin layer of sweat was collecting on his hairline. “Oh, yeah, I’m doing well.”
“You look just like you did when I asked you about Saturday a little while ago.” Rose fought a laugh. “I’m not sure I believe you when you say nothing bad happened.”
“Avis.” Unsuccessful. Distracted. “It’s my problem. You were the one so adamant we not get involved in Al’s drama nearly two months ago. What happened to that?”
“I’m curious, that’s all.” Rose shrugged, holding her wand aloft to add to the illusion of productivity. “I read the letter you sent Ly, I know the history he has with you and with James and with Louis, and now I just want to know how it’s ending.”
Instead of replying, Scorpius attempted the spell again. This time, a blue bird appeared, chirping a beautiful melody.
“Tell me, don’t tell me, but just know this, Scorpius: I’m not asking for petty gossip. This affects my family. But if you’re embarrassed or bashful, I guess I understand.”
Scorpius sighed. “It’s a wonder we aren’t the talk of Witch Weekly tabloid columns.”
Figuring she had pushed him far enough, Rose went back to her work.
After a while, the classroom was peppered with little birds of all types. They flew in wide arcs, swooping from the sloping ceiling to the tops of students' heads. By the time Scorpius spoke again, two students had already been pooped on. Sticky white glop rained down, and Rose and Scorpius had to shift over to avoid being hit.
“We almost kissed.”
Rose looked at him for one hard moment, trying to figure this out. She wasn’t embarrassed—this had nothing to do with her—but still she could feel the heat rising up into her ears.
“Ly is really fucked up over James and Louis. He didn’t want me.”
“And you wanted him?”
“I… I wanted a ghost, Rose. From the moment I saw him again all my feelings were back in full swing. And, Merlin, all night I wanted to trust it, but I can’t help but feel like none of it is real.”
“I don’t think any of us are the same people we were a year ago or two years ago or so. And if living in Paris has changed Lysander as much as it’s changed James, your feelings might be for a Lysander that only exists in the past.”
“He’s had a full metamorphosis of thought since he graduated, and I’ve seen it firsthand in his letters.”
“Have you spoken to him since the benefit?”
“I got a letter this morning at breakfast, but I was planning on waiting until I was alone to read it.”
“Read it now.”
Rose felt her gaze travel to Scorpius' arse as he pulled the parchment from his back pocket, and she quickly looked away. He skimmed the letter, and she just stood there, absently waving her wand around to create the illusion of productivity.
“Louis is in Austria; it took even less time for him to get the hell out of dodge than I expected. Supposedly it’s for work, but it’s mighty convenient: come back in time to reclaim Ly, then leave as soon as he’s asserted his dominance.”
“Mr. Malfoy! Are you working hard or hardly working?” Professor Howard called, walking towards them.
Scorpius rolled his eyes at Rose and performed the spell again. A beautiful black bird popped out, black plumage with chartreuse tail feathers and an orange beak. It looked angry, but maybe Scorpius was just projecting.
“In other news,” Scorpius continued, letting his ire go with a deep breath, “Teddy and Victoire are engaged to be married. I hope they’re celebrating a long engagement, otherwise I dunno what Louis will do when he has to return to France for the wedding.”
“Oh! I’ll have to owl them later, then. I always knew they were made to be together…. So is Louis officially out of the picture? It sounds awfully soon for Lysander just to be throwing it all out, after everything.”
“Lysander is usually so easy to read but today… he just seems unsure. Have you talked to James about it?”
“Yeah, actually; he owled me last Thursday to update me on the Weasley family dinner he went to. He seems torn up about it, but he has been in a vulnerable place lately.”
“I just… I know it’s not my fault, not any of it, and I know that their happiness is not my responsibility, but I wish there was something I could do. Maybe we could, I don’t know, arrange for them to get back together somehow?”
Rose pictured herself reaching over and squeezing his hand, or giving him a pat on the back, but it was all so awkward. “Like a party?”
“Yeah…. but I don’t want to play fate like that. Letting them deal with heartbreak on their own would probably be for the best, right? Or… ”
“I think if you’re unsure, it’s best to do nothing.” Rose gave Scorpius a sage little smile.
“Mr. Malfoy and Ms. Weasley! If you two do not stop talking, I’ll have no choice but to give you detention!” Headmistress McGonagall came forward from behind and glared as only McGonagall could. “That is something I never anticipated to say,” she muttered to herself.
“Sorry, Headmistress,” Rose said at once.
“We won’t do it again.”
“I’ll see to that. Now, do go on. I can only assume you had mastered the spell so completely that you were bored.”
With a daunting level of pressure and shame, Scorpius did the spell first, then Rose. They both went without a hitch, to the relief of nearly everyone in the room. A sour Headmistress was not good for anyone.
“Well done, both of you. Ms. Weasley, you seem to have taken after your mother; very bright indeed. And Mr. Malfoy—excellent work. Your father was proficient in this spell.” McGonagall gave a little frown.
No one at Hogwarts ever really mentioned Scorpius’ dad around him anymore. People had moved on, and eventually they noticed how different he was from young Draco. Even if few knew the details of the Battle of the Astronomy Tower that McGonagall was alluding to, there was quite a bit of tension in the room.
“It’s wonderful to see that you are as…hardworking as he was,” she concluded, then turned to leave.
“Lindsay, you have an extraordinary class. I’ll see you at dinner. And the rest of you… keep up the good work.”
With her cloak blowing out behind her, and a million whispers following it, McGonagall sashayed into the corridor.
“Right, then,” said Professor Howard. “There’s not much time left. Let’s gather all these birds in those cages and bring them to Care of Magical Creatures.”
Rose had an divination test right after lunch, so she ate quickly and left to study in the library. It was her easiest class since it wasn’t NEWT level, but she hadn’t yet begun to revise notes that were weeks old. She opened up her periwinkle folder and took out parchment detailing tarot card readings.
A few minutes later, Al came up to her, which was a sight unto itself. He was rarely seen doing any academic activity outside of class, but somehow he seemed to make decent marks. He slid into the chair opposite hers and asked, “Were you at breakfast?”
“No, I overslept—I was up late with Violet. Grabbed an apple from the Gryffindor Commons. Why?”
“I was just in the Owlery, and you got mail. One of them is the invitation, ‘cause I got one too, and Scorpius, but I’m not sure about the other one.”
The invitation was enclosed in an ivory envelope. Edward “Teddy” Lupin and Victoire Weasley welcome you to an engagement reception on Saturday, 11 March. Pasted on the cardstock was a picture of the two arm in arm and twirling around. It rather reminded Rose of the picture of Uncle Harry’s parents that was framed in the Potters’ living room.
“They’re so lovely. I’m probably going to be bawling at their wedding.”
Rose picked up the letter. “It’s from Teddy.” She unfolded it, and Al read over her shoulder.
Something has come up. As I’m sure you’re aware, Louis is back in Paris with Lysander Scamander. However, he had left for business in Austria, and upon returning, he was splinched fairly badly. Vic and Dom and his parents are at the Pendragon Hospital in Paris with him right now.
When I was at the hospital with them earlier today, Lysander told me that their relationship was on the rocks, and Lou’s siblings confirmed it. They were having a row and he tried to apparate, that’s what Lysander said. He’s in stable condition, but he’s pretty banged up.
Right now Louis has asked that only his immediate family visit because he doesn’t want the spectacle that comes with all you Weasleys. They say he should only be in the hospital for a few days so the healers can monitor his vitals and make sure his injuries heal properly.
I do hope your studies are going well. I can’t wait to see you at the engagement party!
“Damn,” Al said. “As if things couldn’t get worse for that lot.”
“He said Louis will only be staying in the hospital for a few days. He’ll be at the engagement party, no doubt about it. Aunt Fleur has probably taken over the planning, and knowing her, I’d bet the Scamanders are being invited.”
“Rose, Louis might be a little pretentious, but he would never start a scene at his sister’s engagement party.”
“I guess we have nothing to worry about, then.” Rose shrugged. “How are things with you?”
“I’ve sworn off girls until graduation.”
“You can’t possibly stick to that. That’s over a year away!”
“You saw how well I handled my last relationship. Gonna try to work on myself and become friends with Emilie and Violet.”
“With Violet, I could see you being close with again, especially considering how often she’s with me,” Rose reasoned. “Emilie, though…it would take a lot for her to forgive you, let alone start any kind of relationship.”
“I’m up for the challenge.” Al grinned, but the smile slipped. “I’ve got to try Rose. I just have to, okay?”
“No, I get it.”
“Speaking of romance, today at breakfast I heard some of the girls in my House saying you and Scorpius would make a good couple.”
“Are you still on that? Don’t you remember the New Years party, when you drunkenly tried to set us up?”
“Hey, I was only tipsy.”
“You were drunk. If something’s gonna happen there, it’ll happen when it wants to. I don’t see the point of speculation.”
“So you admit you’re open to the possibility?”
“Al, I have a divination exam in thirty minutes. Instead of talking up your best friend to me, I’d really appreciate it if you’d let me revise my notes.”
“Okay; I’ve spent too much time in this library as is. Just keep me posted!”
“Yeah, yeah.” Now, back to tarot cards…