"This is ridiculous," Rose snaps for what it seemed like the billionth time today.
Beside her, Scorpius sighs. "I don't normally agree with her," he said, "but she's right this time-"
Rose snorts. "This time? I'm right all the time!"
Scorpius rolls his eyes. "There are so many things wrong with that sentence, I don't even know where to start."
"You are an asshole," Rose growls.
"Yeah, but you married me."
"Yeah? I'm going to divorce you now."
"Not if I divorce you first."
Optimus sighs. "Can the both of you do this on your own time?"
Both of them turn their glares to him.
"This is my own time," Scorpius says. "I don't know why you called us here."
"Isn't it obvious?" Rose asks, voice dripping with disdain, "He's trying to fix us."
Optimus rolls his eyes. "To be very fair to me, I did not volunteer myself for this. I would never volunteer myself for this. We're doing this because your mother," he turns to Scorpius and glares at him, "sent me an owl yesterday and told me that your marriage was on the rocks and that you'd listen to me because you always listen to me. Said that Rose was an amazing woman and that you'd be nothing without her-"
"-and also because your mother," Optimus turns to face Rose now, "floo'd me this morning, fixed me with the scariest look she's ever given me and said 'fix them' like I could just wave my wand and the both of you would be lovey dovey like you used to be." He takes a deep breath. "I am suffocating in work and if there's anyone that should be complaining about this, it's me, but I'm not complaining now, so the both of you better sit your arses down and help me to help you or I swear to Salazar that I will do something drastic."
"I refuse to live with him any longer. He's conceited, annoying and a jerk," Rose says firmly. "I don't need marriage counseling. I am very firm in my stand regarding this matter."
Scorpius nods. "There is nothing left to fix in this relationship. I have much better things to do than to sit here and analyze what went wrong in our marriage when I already know that she's the cause of everything."
"Oh no you didn't," Rose growls. "I'm the cause of everything? Me? If you hadn't been sleeping around-"
"I haven't been sleeping around, you bint!" Scorpius yells. "Barbara and I are just friends!"
"I don't know how it is you define friends nowadays," Rose seethes, "but what I saw was definitely not the both of you being just friends."
Optimus frowns. "What did you see?"
"I saw him making out with Barbara Longbottom!"
"It was one kiss!" Scorpius defends. "She'd just broken up with Lorcan and was drunk and emotionally vulnerable and I was just trying to comfort her!"
"By kissing her?" Rose screeches. "You're married! To me!"
"I didn't kiss her! She threw herself at me! I pushed her away! You saw that!"
Optimus purses his lips. "Did you see that?"
Rose nods reluctantly.
Scorpius snorts. "And it's not like you and Robin Wood have been completely platonic."
"Excuse me?" Rose says, uttering each word slowly. "What are you insinuating, Scorpius Malfoy?"
Scorpius' lips curls down in a snarl. "You were out drinking last week with Wood. You didn't come back till three in the morning. And even then, you reeked of his cologne. You do the math."
Rose's jaw drops. "I wasn't out drinking with Robin, I was at his engagement party! He's marrying my cousin!"
"Yeah, well, it wouldn't matter much to you, would it?" Scorpius says meanly. "You always did have the hots for him. Do you regret not choosing him? Do you lie in bed and wonder what life would have been if you'd gone out with him in fifth year instead of choosing me?"
Rose turns to Optimus. "Do you see? This is what I have to put up with! This…this irrational jealousy and complete asshole behaviour!"
"I think the both of you need proper communication. Problem solved. Now can we tell your mothers that the problem is fixed and there will be no upcoming divorce?" Optimus asks brightly.
"You are a horrible marriage counselor," Scorpius and Rose say simultaneously before turning to glare at each other.
"See?" Optimus croons. "There is something to save."
"This is ridiculous," Scorpius mumbles. "Rose is ridiculous. Why the hell did I decide it was a good idea to get hitched to someone so obviously crazy?"
Al snorts. "That's not what you said when you told me you wanted to marry her."
Scorpius scowls. "I was blindly in love. Emphasis on blindly."
"You said, and I quote, 'I think I should marry her! I don't know what life would be without her!'" Al says with a laugh. "I told you it would be a horrible idea, didn't I? I told you that the both of you had explosive tempers and that if you married her and had a fight, it would be possible that your combined wraths would shake Malfoy Manor, didn't I?"
"I was an idiot," Scorpius says with feeling. "I should have listened to you. Why didn't I listen to you? You give the best advices ever."
Al lets out a roar of laughter. "Can you say it again? Can you put that down in writing? Optimus would have a field day if he knew you said that!"
"Screw Optimus! You should be a marriage counselor. You'd save lives."
Al shakes his head in amusement. "But honestly? You two make a smashing couple. And you are fighting over nothing. You don't need a divorce. You need to talk."
"Ugh," Scorpius groans. "Now you are just channeling Optimus to make my head explode."
"I don't need Optimus to fix my marriage, mum," Rose says in lieu of a greeting as she walks into Hermione's office.
Hermione raises an eyebrow. "You don't exactly have a fantastic track record of making wise life decisions. In fact, I think marrying Scorpius was the best idea you've had in a long time."
Rose gapes. "You've been brainwashed. You hate him!"
Hermione frowns. "I never hated him. I thought his father was conceited and his mother was pretentious, but I've always liked Scorpius. He keeps you grounded."
"And you want me to continue being married to him so that he can keep me out of trouble?" Rose asks, incredulous.
"I want you to fix your marriage mostly because I know the both of you still love each other," Hermione tells her. "But, yes, it's partially because he can keep you out of trouble."
"Mum, you can't just let me continue to be married to the world's most annoying man just because you don't want to deal with my trouble!"
Hermione sighs and pinches the bridge of her nose. "You're not listening to me properly."
"Because you're not making sense!" Rose says. "I thought you and dad would be happy that I'm divorcing Scorpius."
"Your father, maybe," Hermione says with a snort, "but also not because he doesn't like Scorpius. He secretly meets Scorpius for lunch every other Sunday. Apparently Scorpius has good Quidditch sense."
"My whole worldview of you two is crumbling, mum," Rose groans. "Crumbling."
"I want the both of you to start writing a journal on how you feel about each other," Optimus tells them primly the next time they go (read: are forced to) to see him. "It will help me better understand how the both of you work, and in turn help me to sort your problems out."
Scorpius snorts. "This is such a bad idea."
Rose nods in agreement. "He's right. Unless you want to read about my fantasies of murdering him in his sleep, you really shouldn't make us do this."
"Murder me in my sleep?" Scorpius asks with a laugh. "You sleep like the dead, darling."
Rose glares at him. "It's a good thing I do, since that is the only reason I'm not kept awake by your ridiculous snores."
"I do not snore!" Scorpius exclaims, affronted.
"ENOUGH!" Optimus yells. "Did we not just do this whole thingamajig once before you got married? Didn't we sort that out? Why is this happening again?"
"You ask him," Rose growls. "He's the one that insists on believing that I'm sleeping with Robin! I have been more than tolerant with his issue with Barbara."
"Tolerant?" Scorpius echoes. "Tolerant? I cannot believe I'm actually listening to this."
Optimus sighs. "Rose, you need to stop overreacting. Scorpius, you need to be more trusting. End of story. Problem solved."
"I can't be trusting when she's going out sneakily every night to meet Wood, can I?" Scorpius reasons. "Trusting is going to lose me my wife."
"I don't go out every night to see Robin!" Rose says, flailing her arms, trying to make her point. "He's engaged to Lily! I go to see Lily! He just happens to be there!"
Scorpius snarls, "Convenient, isn't it?"
"Scorpius, shut up," Optimus says. "If Rose says that she went out to see Lily and you don't actually have physical evidence to prove otherwise, you trust her."
"No gloating, Rose," Optimus continues sharply. "If you saw Scorpius push Barbara away, then it is very likely that he did not initiate the kiss and he was doing everything in his power to stop it. So, believe him."
"But that still leaves the question of why Scorpius was the one Barbara called out when she broke up with Lorcan!"
"And why Rose has to see Lily every night even though they see each other at St. Mungos every day!"
Optimus lets out a groan.
He is definitely not getting paid enough for this.
"Rose," Optimus starts, voice soothing, "do you know why I arranged for us to have a session alone today?"
Rose narrows her eyes. "I don't know, maybe you want to seduce me. Maybe you've always wanted to seduce me and finally decided that this is the right time, seeing as how I am soon to be divorced."
Optimus throw his hands up in exasperation. "You are ridiculous," he concludes. "The both of you. You are both stupid and demented and I don't know how to deal with you."
"Opt, some people get married and have their marriages not work out," Rose tells him. "It happens."
"It happens?" Optimus parrots. "That's the best you can come up with? Before you got married to him, you were here in my office moaning to me about how he doesn't tell you he loves you on a weekly basis. Pro bono."
"You're just sore that I refuse to pay for your services."
"Damn right I am!" He pauses and thinks Rose's words through. "That sounded sordid. Advice. I'm sore that you refuse to pay me for me advice."
Rose grins at him. "If that's what you want to call it."
"Okay, I need you to tell me the truth," Optimus says. "Will you tell me the truth?"
Scorpius frowns. "That depends on the question, doesn't it? That time when you tried to hex me because I told you that your hair looked like a parrot's nest still haunts me."
Optimus glares at him. "Are you absolutely certain that you do not have feelings for Barbara Longbottom?"
"What sort of a question is that?" Scorpius exclaims. "Of course I don't! What has Rose been feeding you now?"
"Nothing," Optimus says, rolling his eyes. "This is one of your biggest problems. You are always suspicious of everything. Why do you have to be suspicious of everything all the time?"
Scorpius shrugs. "Constant vigilance never hurts anyone."
"It does when it makes your wife feel like you don't trust her," Optimus counters, eyes sharp and tone hard. "If she says she's not cheating on you with Robin Wood, I think you should just take that as that and move on with having tons of make up sex."
Scorpius sighs. "Look," he says slowly, like he's still trying to piece the words together in his head, "I trust Rose. I really, really do. It's just… Robin Wood gives me bad feelings. I don't trust him not to seduce my wife."
"Just trust that Rose will not fall prey to his advances," Optimus tells him. "Also, have you seen Wood lately? He's smitten with Lily. He cannot be trying to seduce your wife."
Scorpius frowns. "I still think it's a cover. He's pretending to be in love with Lily so that he can get close to Rose and steal her from under my nose but ha! See if I'll ever let that happen. Not on my watch, mate!"
Optimus rolls his eyes. "You realize that the both of you might be getting a divorce, right? That would make Rose single and Wood would be able to get her and you wouldn't have a say in it at all."
Scorpius' frown deepens. "Right," he says. "Right, no divorce."
Optimus beams. "Yes, no divorce."
"The divorce can wait. I'm going to catch him in his act redhanded first." Scorpius' face is thoughtful. "I think he might be drugging Lily."
Optimus resists the urge to bang his head into the nearest wall.
"I give up," Optimus groans as he throws himself onto the couch, landing an elbow into Albus' stomach as he does so. "Why the hell did I think it would be good to be a psychiatrist? Why the hell didn't you stop me?"
Albus grins and ruffles Optimus' hair. "I did," he says. "You said it was your passion. There was no way I could argue with that."
"You could have physically restrained me from taking my exams. You could have locked me up in some cellar and wiped my memory and whatnot." Optimus pouts. "Why didn't you?"
Albus laughs. "You are ridiculous."
"I am going bonkers," Optimus corrects. "We need new best friends. We need best friends who don't fight every other day and try to drive me crazy with their ridiculous speculations about each other."
"Rose and I are related," Albus reminds him. "I can't ditch a relative."
"You should disown her. And I should close my office. And we should move to the Caribbean's."
"After you fix them," Albus promises, still grinning. "Now, go on, rant."
Optimus closes his eyes and does exactly that.
Rose stares. "What."
"You heard me," Lily says.
"Are you sure it was him?"
Lily rolls her eyes. "He tried to play up a French accent and refused to removed his hands from where they were covering his face, but yes. It was Scorpius."
Rose groans. "I sincerely apologize for his stupidity."
Lily laughs. "It more amusing that it was offensive, don't worry."
"Ugh," Rose groans. "Of all the stupid things-"
"He's only doing this because he loves you," Lily tells Rose gently. "He's really worried about losing you, so that means something. Maybe you should just tell him."
Rose's eyes widen. "Lily."
"I'm just saying," Lily says, raising both hands up in surrender. "It's not something I'd want to keep from Robin, if I were you. It's not even something big."
"He'd worry," Rose says quietly. "He'd make a huge fuss out of it and then he'd decide that we aren't compatible and he'd dump me for Barbara Longbottom."
Lily rolls her eyes. "Don't be ridiculous. He loves you."
"I know," Rose says. "I just… I don't know. I love him so much it makes things really difficult sometimes."
"She's hiding something," Scorpius says, pacing the room. "I'm sure she's hiding something. Lily is bullshit when it comes to lying."
Albus sighs. "Rose isn't stupid, ergo she wouldn't make her keep important secrets. Everyone knows Lily is bullshit at it."
Scorpius ignores him. "Do you think Lily is in on Wood's sinister plan?"
"Sinister plan?" Albus frowns. "What sinister plan?"
"I told Optimus about my theory on Wood getting close to Lily and pretending to be in love with her so that he can steal Rose away from me," Scorpius clarifies. "I thought Opt would have told you about it since he tells you everything even though he's supposed to be bounded by his profession not to."
Albus rolls his eyes. "I understand why he didn't," he says dryly. "It's a ridiculous theory. Also, Opt doesn't tell me everything. He's very hush hush about his patients."
"Alright, except you and Rose," Albus relents. "But it's not his fault. You two drive him batty."
"All the better for you to swoop in to make his day better like the knight in shining armor you are, no?" Scorpius asks, smirking. "How are things?"
"Things are great, thank you for asking," Albus replies. "Things could be greater, though, if you and Rose would stop messing around with this idea of divorce so that Opt would stop stressing over how to make things better for you two."
"We didn't make him do this," Scorpius grumbles.
"No, you didn't. But your mothers did. And you know how Aunt Hermione scares Opt," Albus says with a laugh. "Look, just talk to Rose. Tell her how you feel about her being at Lily's so frequently. She's a rational woman, she'll listen to you."
"Ugh," Scorpius groans. "Are you secretly Optimus in disguise? Isn't it bad enough that the both of you are attached at the hip when you aren't working? Do you have to talk the same way too? Al, come back to me, mate. Come back to me!"
Albus rolls his eyes.
"You were stalking Lily!"
"It was a coincidence!"
"When she caught you, you pretended to put on a French accent!"
"I did not! Lily's hallucinating!"
Rose's glare is unwavering.
Scorpius sighs. "I wasn't stalking Lily," he says petulantly. "I was following her. Gathering intel."
Rose massages the bridge of her nose. "I'm not sleeping with Robin," she says.
Scorpius levels her a long look. "I know," he says finally. "I trust you. But there is something going on that you're not telling me, isn't there?"
Rose blinks. "No."
Scorpius arches an eyebrow. "No?"
"Yes," Rose amends. "Sort of. A bit. But I'm not cheating on you."
"Just keeping secrets from me."
"You've been fooling around with Barbara, you don't get to judge me."
"For Salazar's sake," Scorpius groans. "I'm not fooling around with Barbara."
"That would be a lot more believable if I hadn't seen you with her tongue shoved down your throat," Rose says frostily. "I'm not even going to ask why you were out with her when you told me that there was paperwork to file back in the Ministry."
"There was paperwork to file back in the Ministry!" Scorpius defends. "That was how I came upon Barbara crying her eyes out because she'd just broken up with Lorcan and I couldn't in good conscience just leave her there."
"Oh, so it goes against your conscience to leave Barbara to mope alone, but your conscience doesn't mind you cheating on your wife?" Rose snorts. "Some conscience you have there."
"That's not how it was!" Scorpius growls. "You think I don't know you're trying to make this out to be my fault so that I wouldn't ask you about that secret you're keeping from me."
Rose huffs. "I don't know why I married you."
Scorpius bites back the hurt he can feel welling up and snarls back, "I assure you the feeling is mutual."
"He's ridiculous, he's obnoxious, he says the darnest things ever," Rose lists out. "Why didn't you stop me from marrying him?"
Optimus sighs. "That's not what you said before you married him."
"Yeah, well, marriage opened my eyes up," Rose says stodgily. "I just want all this fighting to be over."
"Rose," Optimus says gently. "A divorce isn't going to make anything better. You're still going to think he's ridiculous and obnoxious, and he's still going to go round saying all the darnest things. What the both of you need is to sit down and talk to each other calmly, be honest with each other, try to work out what's wrong with things."
"I don't know if I really want to fix this marriage," Rose says quietly. "It feels like our relationship is straining."
Optimus looks at Rose for a long moment before he asks, "Do you love him?"
"Then you need to fix this," Optimus concludes. "Look, I know there's something you're not telling Score, and he knows that too. It's making him edgy. He thinks that you and Lily and Wood have consorted and that they're trying to make you divorce him so that you can join them in a threesome."
Rose manages a laugh at that. "I know," she says. "He was stalking Lily."
Optimus makes a face. "He was not."
Rose nods. "She caught him and he faked an accent and covered his face with his hands."
Optimus laughs. "He's ridiculous," he says. "But at least you know he cares a lot about you. That's something to work with. That's a lot more than some couples have."
Rose smiles. "Thanks, Opt. You're a really great friend."
"Yeah, well," Optimus says flippantly. "Don't thank me, pay me."
Astoria stares at Scorpius.
Scorpius groans. "Don't look at me like that, mother."
Astoria arches an eyebrow elegantly and says, "Look at you how? Like you are trying to drive me to an early grave?"
"I'm not trying to drive you to an early grave," Scorpius says with a resigned sigh.
"It feels like you are," Astoria says pointedly, "what with all this troubling news about you and Rose."
"Look, mother, Rose and I have always had our differences," Scorpius tries to reason. "It's not the first time we've fought."
"It's the first time she locked herself in the room and cried."
Scorpius frowns. "What? She didn't lock herself in the room to cry, don't be ridiculous, mother. Where are you getting your intel?"
"I went over to your place two weeks ago," Astoria tells him, "No one answered when I rang the bell so I figured no one was home and let myself in. I heard her crying in the room."
Scorpius stares at her. "We didn't start fighting until a week ago. Two weeks ago we were…fine. I mean, I thought we were fine but now… I can't really be sure."
Astoria is quiet for a long moment. "Oh."
"Is it possible that I didn't notice that something went wrong with us a long time before now? Did I, I don't know, did I screw up somewhere?" Scorpius throws himself on the couch next to Astoria. "Why didn't she tell me she wasn't happy? I could have done something, anything."
Astoria draws him into a hug. "There, there, darling. Everything is going to be fine."
"How do I fix something when I don't even know what is wrong, mother? Are things still fixable?"
"Everything is fixable, Scorpius darling," Astoria says gently. "You just have to try."
"I don't know where to start," Scorpius tells her softly.
"Start by talking to Rose," Astoria advices. "The key to a good marriage is communication. Your father and I didn't always see eye to eye, but we tried, and that's what matters in the end. You both have to put in effort. People think that there's some sort of complicated secret to having a good marriage, but sometimes it's just as simple as knowing never to give up."
Scorpius sighs. "Do you ever think that you're too good for father?"
Astoria smiles. "No one is ever too good for anyone."
"ROSE!" Scorpius yells while banging at the door. "Open the door, Rose! I need to talk to you!"
He hears a shuffle and then silence.
"Rose, I know you are in there," Scorpius continues. "If you don't open this door in ten seconds, I'm going to blast it open."
"Can we talk like this?" Rose shouts back. "With the door closed and everything?"
Scorpius sighs. "Come on, Rose, we are more mature than this."
He hears her snort. "Are we really?"
The lock clicks open and Scorpius lets out a breath he didn't realize he was holding.
"Hey," Rose says when he walks in.
"You wanted to talk," Rose tells him. "Talk."
"My mother came by the house two weeks ago," he blurts out. He hadn't meant to start out that way. "She said, uh. She saw you. Crying in the room."
Rose pinks. "Oh."
Scorpius looks at her. "Was it me? Did I do something?"
"No!" Rose exclaims. "No, it wasn't you. You didn't do anything."
"So it's because I didn't do anything?" Scorpius asks, confused.
"No! No. That was all me. Me crying in the room had nothing to do with you. At all."
Scorpius gives her a look. "So you were crying in the room."
Rose lets out an exasperated sigh. "Yes, I was."
"Would you like to tell me why?"
Rose shrugs. "Not particularly, no."
"You've been keeping things from me," Scorpius says, voice calm and slow, "and I want to fix things but in order to fix things I have to know what is wrong." He runs his hand through his hair. "I don't like it when you're sad and if something happened and it made you cry, I want to know about it. I want to make things better for you. I love you."
Rose stares at him for a long time and then takes two steps forward, burrows herself into his arms and cries. Scorpius holds her through her tears, rubs soft circles into her back and whispers, "We're going to be fine, sweetheart, I love you."
She is lying on Scorpius' lap when she calms down. Scorpius is running his fingers through her hair gently.
She smiles up shakily at him. "Look, Scor, I have something to tell you."
"I'm listening," he tells her.
"You know how your mother has been hinting that we should have a kid?" she asks.
Scorpius nods. "Is that what's bothering you? Because you don't have to listen to her. We have all the time in the world. We don't have to have a kid right now-"
"I can't have children," Rose interjects.
Scorpius stares at her.
"That's why I've been going over to Lily's so often," she tells him. "She's been trying out potions on me, trying to see if there's anything we can do about it."
Scorpius doesn't say anything.
"I know you've always wanted children," Rose continues, tears welling up again, "and I really, really wanted us to have a family of our own together and I didn't want to tell you because I didn't want you to feel bad for me and tell me that it's fine even when you don't actually think it is. I love you."
Scorpius is still silent.
"Say something, Scor," Rose says. "Tell me you hate me or…or scream at me. I can take it. I've been preparing myself for this."
Scorpius look at Rose. "You are the biggest idiot ever," he tells her. "I don't hate you. Why would I hate you over something neither of us has control over?"
"But you want children, I know you do. You've told me before."
"Yeah," Scorpius agrees, "I do want children. We can continue to try out potions. Or we can adopt. It doesn't really matter."
"So you're not going to divorce me over this?" Rose asks in a small voice.
Scorpius rolls his eyes. "You are an idiot," he tells her. "I love you, but you are an idiot."
"So we're good?" she asks.
Scorpius smiles. "We're good."
"They are good now," Albus says cheerily when Optimus comes through the door.
"Who?" Optimus asks. "Scorpius and Rose?"
"Are you kidding me? I work 15 hours a day over them and when they reconcile, they tell you before they tell me," Optimus mutters. "They are, without a doubt, my best clients."
"No thank you cards or flowers, I understand," Optimus continues. "But they won't even tell me in person that they've sorted things out? I wish I could say that I found that unexpected."
Albus shakes his head in amusement. "Stop nagging," he says. "You're happy they've made up."
"Did they say how?" Optimus asks.
Albus shrugs. "Not really. But they did send a cheque."
Optimus snorts. "Scorpius sent a cheque. Rose would never pay for my services."
Albus makes a face. "That sounded sordid."
"Advice," Optimus corrects.
"If that's what you want to call it," Albus sings.
Optimus rolls his eyes but shrugs his jacket off all the same and advances to Albus before growling playfully, "I'll show you advice."