On the train ride back to Hogwarts, Terry and Severus chattered about Quidditch as they played wizarding chess. As usual, Rowan was left alone to her own thoughts. With her eyes closed, she pretended to be asleep but was rather meditating on the events that had transpired over winter break.
It had been a rude awakening to find out Christmas morning what had transpired at the Christmas Ball. Not only was Abraxas Malfoy now public enemy number one to the Death Eaters, but without a doubt, he didn't have Riddle's diary. In which case, the whereabouts of the diary were unknown nor the identity of whom it had been given to.
This was the second Horcrux that had a new owner as Rowan still could safely assume that Bellatrix had been given the cup, but with her death had been passed down int the hands of her husband, Rodolphus Lestrange. Now whether or not the cup had been moved from Bellatrix's vault that was an entirely different story.
Thankfully for small mercies, her grandfather and Aunt Georgine had returned safely from the ball. And from what the Daily Prophet said, the true heroes of the day. Not only saving most of the guests but Abraxas Malfoy himself. Rowan later confirmed that was the case from Aunt Georgine as her grandfather was rather reluctant to speak about the event.
Sighing Rowan's mind recalled their conversation that had strayed away from that point. While in the study, Rowan had asked, "Grandfather, will Severus and I be forced to marry?"
Visibly startled, Reginald glanced up from his desk. "Of course not! Wherever did you get an idea like that?"
"One of my friends has a betrothal contract, but we're only twelve years old!" Rowan exclaimed.
Feeling that much more relief, Reginald explained, "A betrothal contract is not a guarantee of marriage, Rowan. Both parties can still break the contract. And even if they were to be formally betrothed in public, there are still ways to break said recognized betrothal. Now, there might be penalties to doing so, but there is always an option."
"Did you and grandmother marry that way?"
"No, I met your grandmother after she returned from attending at Beauxbaton's."
"Eh? Did our grandmother not attend Hogwarts?"
"Well, her grandmother was French."
"Ah, that does explain her rather debonair conduct."
After a long pause, Rowan tactfully asked, "And what of our mother? Would you have arranged for a marriage candidate after her graduating Hogwarts?"
"Yes, I would have proposed one in mind, but I'd never had gone ahead without Eileen's consent," Reginald truthfully replied. "I loved my daughter even if I wasn't always good at showing it."
"Who did you have in mind?" Rowan curiously asked.
"Yes," Reginald admitted. "I do not like any of the Blacks, but unlike the rest of his ill-mannered relatives, I found him to be kind and most gracious. He would have been good to her, I believe."
"I think so too," Rowan mused as she thought about the gentle, but tired looking Unspeakable. He certainly was a far cry better than Tobias Snape. And most certainly far better looking for that matter.
"But I suppose your mother would have not been so against it if not for the fact that he was three years younger than her," Reginald confessed. "That's hardly anything in wizarding years, but I suppose for a young woman, it must have felt like a terribly large gap impossible to bridge."
Rowan was interrupted out of her recollection as the compartment door slid open by the lady with the food cart. Opening her eyes, she stretches as the two boys ordered before her. Quickly giving her own order, Rowan is given her own tasty snacks as the compartment door once more closes.
The compartment is silent for a bit as they eat before Terry says with a mouth full of food. "So, did you enjoy winter break, Rowan?"
"Yes, it was fine," Rowan mumbled back as Terry exchanged a glance with Severus, who only shrugged.
"Right then," Terry muttered to himself as he stuffed himself with food again.
The silence didn't last long as the compartment door slid open as Sirius in a loud booming voice said, "We've been looking you everywhere!"
Rowan merely stuffed her mouth with another pastie as Severus arched an eyebrow, while Terry grumbled, "What for?"
"Your grandfather and aunt are incredible!" Sirius breathed in awe. "Do you think I could have him sign one my Defense Against the Dark Art's textbook?"
"I'm sure he'd be delighted," Severus drily said as Sirius clapped his hands in glee.
"Move over, Siri," James complained as he stepped inside.
Sirius moved to the side to make room for James, who held a large book full of FUN spells. "Here Rowan, we've found three spells in here that might just work," James said as he held out the book.
Quickly reading the title, Severus turns to narrow his eyes at Rowan. "Why do you need a book full of FUN spells?"
"Who knows," Rowan cunningly said as she took the book from James with a nod of thanks.
"Wait, you're not still mad about that are you?" Severus quickly asked as the temperature in the compartment suddenly plummeted several degrees.
"Now what would I still be mad about, hmm, Sev?" Rowan said with a blank face. Terry rapidly shakes his head at Severus to not speak lest he triggers that bobby trap. Severus wisely snaps his mouth shut as Rowan climbs to her feet.
"I'm going for a walk," Rowan said as she tucked the book under her arm and made her way past them.
The compartment door slams shut behind her as the four boys stare at each other. "What did you do?" Terry gulped.
"Nothing!" Severus stammered, a rather terrible liar.
"You must have done something, mate," Sirius ventured to say, "Even I know that look." Sirius shuddered visibly at recalling that same look on his female cousin's faces specifically that of Narcissa as she was the closest to his age.
Severus's eyes dart away as he mutters, "I may have, err, placed a snake in her bed over the summer."
"And did she scream?" James inquisitively asked as the other two boys gazed on with equal curiosity.
"No, she didn't scream," Severus admitted. "But it was as though she'd seen a ghost."
"Wait, then she's scared of snakes?" Terry intrigued at having a weak spot of Rowan's.
Severus regretfully shook his head. "No, Rowan merely hummed to the snake and it became rather docile. She then took the snake outside and released it back onto the grounds."
"And then what happened?" Terry pointedly arched his brow.
"She punched me in the gut and wouldn't talk to me for the rest of the week," Severus reluctantly admitted as he rubbed his ribs remembering the painful ache.
"That seems more like her," Terry nodded his head sagely.
"Wait, why?" James said rather bewildered.
"My sisters never go for the face as that would leave a visible proof to my parents," Terry wisely pronounced.
"They always go for your soft organs." Terry begins to tick off the places with his fingers. "Toes, forearms, ribs, buttocks, upper thighs, and last but not least-." Terry's voice trails off to a whisper, "The family jewels."
The three other boys instantly wince as they clamp their legs shut. Sirius privately sighs in relief at only having a younger brother, while James suddenly finds that being an only child isn't so bad at all.
"And that is why women are scary," Terry wisely proclaimed as he clapped his hand against Severus's back. "Good luck, mate. You're going to need it."
Severus groans as he glances up at Sirius and James. "Just how bad are the spells you gave her?"
"On a scale of one to ten?" Sirius paused, "About 3 or 4."
"That's not too bad," Severus muttered out loud.
James snorted in disbelief. "That's pain-wise, Sirius. Humiliation wise they've got to be at least be a 7."
Severus pales as Terry begins to hum a funeral march. Sirius and James quickly joined in as Severus merely glared at them, before proceeding to eat his emotions. It was a terrible habit, yes, but at least it was one shared with his twin.