Myrtle Harris had a fresh, unadorned prettiness that dovetailed nicely with her frank friendliness of manner; Scorpius Malfoy quite liked that about her, Severus knew, because Malfoy had told Harry about it, and Harry had told him. Petunia Parkinson-Frye, on the other hand, did not like Harris. Parkinson-Frye liked Malfoy, and because he was frequently in Harris' company—he tended to walk her back to the Gryffindor common room after they studied together, and Harris often sat with Malfoy and his friends at the Slytherin table at breakfast—Parkinson-Frye was jealous of her. It wasn't, therefore, as much of a surprise as it might have been when, just before the Valentine's Day Ball, Parkinson-Frye gave Harris a faceful of Wartcap Powder.
"Now he'll have to ask you!" squealed Annie Flint.
Scorpius narrowed his eyes and drew his wand, but Ambrose Nott stopped him from leaving the alcove in which they were standing with a hissed, "Headmaster's coming."
Trembling with fury, Scorpius watched the giggling girls enter the Great Hall with Snape in their wake.
"She's right, you know," Ambrose murmured. "Harris won't go anywhere with you, now, not in her condition."
Scorpius squared his shoulders and sheathed his wand. "We'll just see about that."
"Hmm?" Harry asked, turning from the chalkboard towards the door to the Defence classroom to find Scorpius standing in it.
"Sorry to disturb you, sir. I was just wondering if you could spare some Wartcap Powder."
Surprised, Harry said, "That depends on what you're planning to do with it."
He was sceptical when he heard about Myrtle's "accident," and astonished when he heard Scorpius' plan.
"Wouldn't it be better to take her some flowers and spend the ball with her in the Infirmary?"
"No, sir, of course it wouldn't be! She'll never see me unless—please, professor? This is Myrtle we're talking about!"
Young love for sure, then, Harry thought, repressing an indulgent smile. "If the Headmaster learns that I helped you," he said, Summoning a phial of Wartcap Powder and handing it to Scorpius, "I'll make your temporary solution permanent, understand?"
Scorpius grinned, leaving Harry wondering just how he was going to deal with Petunia, whom he strongly suspected was responsible for Myrtle's injury.
"You want me to leave it alone."
"At least for now. Scorpius deserves to have his moment, and I imagine that it's almost punishment enough for Petunia to watch him dancing with another girl."
"Parkinson-Frye's not crying over Malfoy. She's crying because I've assigned her detention until the end of the year."
"Working with caustic potions?" Harry asked, relieved to know that it wouldn't fall to him to discipline Petunia.
"Indeed, and without gloves."
"Don't you think that's a bit—"
"Better than being expelled?" Severus interrupted. "Besides, I think the girl's been 'protected' enough. She hasn't been taught to consider the consequences of her actions, and as her Head of House, it's my duty to correct that defect in loco parentis."
"Well, all right then."
"Tell me," said Severus, "is Harris familiar with anti-conception charms?"
"She's a Seventh Year, of course she is. I have Poppy give the Talk to all my Fifth Years."
"You wait so long?"
Harry turned towards Severus. "When do you have Poppy in?"
"I don't. I speak to my Fourth Years about avoiding procreation and copulary complications after the Welcome Feast every year."
"You do? Thank Merlin I didn't Sort Slyth—wait a minute!" Harry exclaimed, his eyes searching the Great Hall for his daughter, whom he saw dancing with a Sixth Year boy. "Lily Luna's fourteen!"
Severus snorted. "And rather popular, I see."
"Bastard," Harry muttered, rising.
"Where are you going?"
Severus smirked. He enjoyed winding Harry up—it made their off hours more exciting—and he wasn't worried about his step-daughter.
Any boy who touches her before she leaves Hogwarts will find it impossible to wield his wand.
He settled back into his chair feeling smug—until he observed Lily Luna begin dancing with Lucy Longbottom, who, unlike her father, knew her way around a cauldron as well as a wand.
Shite. Chaperoning it is!