Chapter 6 : Rose. --- Lunch With Narcissa.
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If it’s okay with you, Sunday is probably better. I got my squad assignment today, and I might want to keep you up all night Friday to celebrate.
She rolled the note up and handed it off to her owl. “Take this to Scorpius, okay?”
Godric nipped at her finger before taking flight through the open window, and Rose settled in to read for a bit before going to sleep. She was just switching off the light when her owl swooped back in through her partially ajar window, landed on her nightstand, and held out his leg.
She extracted the note attached to it and ruffled his feathers. He flew back into the night to hunt, and she held her wand over the small piece of parchment.
All night, huh?
Rose felt a shiver run through her, and she carefully put it down on her bedside table. Yes, she was definitely going to stop by his place the following evening.
She had never met anyone else who had the power to get her heart racing with three short words the way he could. There weren’t many things that Rose thought that she would be unable to handle, but losing her boyfriend was definitely one of them.
The next day at work saw Rose looking down at a very different piece of parchment that had been handed to her as soon as she’d walked in. “What’s this?”
“Just a precaution.” Dedworth leaned back against his desk. “You know how it goes. Sooner or later you’re going to end up in St. Mungo’s. Everyone in the division has. I doubt it’ll happen tomorrow, but...” He shrugged.
She looked back down at the form. The words “Emergency Contact” leapt out at her, and she started to jot down her mother’s name without even thinking about it. Then something occurred to her.
“Er - my emergency contact doesn’t need to be a relative, right?” Dedworth shook his head, and she crossed out Herm- and etched in Scorpius Malfoy instead. It was entirely possible that her parents would kill her when they found out, but Rose figured that they’d hear about any accident pretty quickly through James, Victoire, or Teddy, anyway, and... well, it was her emergency contact, and after all, she’d been going out with Scorpius for three and a half years. It was her business.
She handed the parchment over a few minutes later, and Dedworth scanned it. “Who’s Scorpius Malfoy?” he asked as he bent down to put it in one of his drawers.
“My boyfriend.” The glance he sent her way made her fidget. “He works in St. Mungo’s.”
“Huh.” Dedworth collapsed into his chair. “Lucky you. Wish I had my own personal Healer.”
“He’s still in training.” What James had told her about Dedworth and Lavender the evening before had her feeling even more awkward around him than she had before, and Victoire was uncharacteristically late. “But - I dunno. My parents will find out through someone. I don’t know if anyone but my cousin Albus would think to tell him, not at first, and if something happens...” She trailed off.
“You want him there?” She nodded. “Yeah, that’s fair. When’d you start going out?”
“Beginning of fifth year.” Rose leaned back and wrapped her arms around herself. “He’s really great.”
As soon as she said that, she felt her face get hot again. “He’s really great” made her sound like she was fifteen again, and they were at the very beginning of their relationship.
Dedworth didn’t comment on it, though. “Good for you,” he said instead. “Malfoy. Hold on, he’s not related to Johanna Greengrass, is he?”
“Er - yes, actually. She’s his cousin. Why?”
“She’s been bragging about her ‘baby cousins’ going into Healing and the Department of Mysteries. I think it made up for her sister taking ‘the most boring option imaginable’ by working as a governess.”
“Who?” Victoire asked from the doorway. “Jo?” Dedworth nodded. “What about her?”
“We were just talking about your cousin’s boyfriend. He’s her emergency contact, apparently.”
Victoire glanced over at Rose, who immediately looked down at the desk in front of her. “Oh. Well, speaking of Jo, she and Micah and Fred are coming by Saturday, if you want to join us.”
Dedworth stretched. “Yeah, I should be able to make it,” he said after a moment of very put-on consideration. “I mean, I might have to cancel a hot date -”
Victoire threw a glove at him. “As if she’d give you a date.” He made a face, and they started to chat about other things. Rose watched them without trying to get involved in the conversation - Victoire had been working with Dedworth for years, and it showed in the easy, relaxed way they interacted. She wondered what they’d be like in the field.
She also wondered whether she’d ever feel comfortable enough to tease either of them the way they teased each other. Victoire was her cousin, of course, and Rose felt comfortable talking to her, but she couldn’t imagine making the sort of off-colour comments about her cousin’s sex life that Dedworth was currently making.
She killed time hanging out with James and Albus for a couple hours after work let out that day before heading to Scorpius’s place - his hours tended to be longer than hers, and she knew he liked a little quiet time at the end of a long week. She knocked on the door when she got there, and the door swung open almost immediately. “You know, you really could just let yourself in,” Scorpius said. “I’ve told you what the spell is.”
“I just feel weird doing it.” She stepped inside the flat and closed the door behind her. “And anyway, what if you decided to go off and have a hot wild affair with some other girl? I could walk in on you, and then that would lead to all sorts of trouble.”
“Yeah, that’s me. I’ve actually got three other girls on the side. I’m just really sneaky about it.” He collapsed onto his couch. “You know, if you were planning to stop by, you didn’t need to owl me back last night.”
“I know.” She curled up against him. “But I wanted to, in case I - er - forgot to bring it up today.”
The smile on his face said that he saw through her excuse, but he didn’t challenge her. “Well, my grandmother’s looking forward to it. I told her we’d meet her at noon on Sunday.”
“Just her, right?” He nodded. “Why’s she so keen on meeting me, anyway?”
“Well, you’ve been going out with her only grandchild for three and a half years. That might have something to do with it.” He slipped an arm around her. “I guess at this point she figures you’ll probably be around forever.”
His tone was casual, but there was something in the way he said that that made Rose feel a little uncomfortable, though she had a hard time placing what it was. Maybe it was his using the word “figures” - it made her feel like maybe he didn’t feel very confident about it.
There was no way to bring it up without coming off as ridiculous, though, especially since there was nothing else in his behavior to suggest that he had any plans to break up with her, and quite a lot to suggest that he didn’t.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah.” She smiled at him. “I’m just thinking about you with your clothes off. I got distracted.”
He flexed an arm. “Yeah, I’m quite the catch, with my bulging Healer muscles and all. I can see why you’d get distracted.”
“It’s why I stay with you despite your many affairs with other girls.”
He threw his head back and laughed. She ran a finger lightly up his chest, and the laugh ended in a strangled sort of yelp. “Rose -”
She slung her leg over his and kissed his neck. “I missed you,” she breathed into his ear.
His arms came up to encircle her, and she smiled as she pressed her lips against his. When she pulled away, he brought a hand up to stroke her hair. “Merlin, I love you.”
He leaned in for another kiss, and Rose felt herself relax. She was just starting to think about dragging him into his bedroom when he cleared his throat. “You said you got your squad assignment?”
“Oh!” She hadn’t realized that she hadn’t brought it up yet. “Yeah, they put me with Vic and Van Dedworth. Hopefully I’ll be getting out into the field soon.”
When she got up the nerve to look back at him, he surprised her with a smile. “Congratulations.” He even sounded sincere. “I’m sure you’ll be great.”
She didn’t know why it hit her so strongly just then - it wasn’t like Scorpius wasn’t usually supportive - but there was something about his reaction that she found extremely comforting. Maybe she was just being paranoid.
“Rose, I don’t mean to be repetitive, but are you okay?”
She blinked to refocus on him. “What? Oh, yeah. I was just thinking.”
She leaned forward and kissed him. “I love you.”
His face relaxed a little. “You’ve mentioned.”
She didn’t end up keeping Scorpius up for the entire night, but it had stretched in the early morning hours by the time they finally fell asleep. As he started to snore quietly beside her, she stretched her arms up above her head and stared up at the ceiling, feeling as light as a feather. She was finally starting work for real, Scorpius didn’t seem to be turning into an insane overprotective jerk about it, and the lunch was actually set up. She was even starting to feel reasonably optimistic about the whole thing. He was right; his grandmother was hardly going to be anything other than pleasant, considering that if she was rude to Rose, she was going to seriously harm her relationship with her grandson.
They slept in the next day, and by the time Rose got home, it was early evening. She spent a couple hours talking to Lucy, who got home around the same time she did, before turning in.
By the time Scorpius arrived on Sunday, the optimism she’d had on Friday night had been replaced by nervousness. She resisted the urge to pretend to be sick - this was going to be difficult, but it was something that she knew she had to do.
Besides, every time she started to consider trying to get out of it, she could remember Scorpius accusing her of cowardice. He hadn’t said anything along those lines in years, but before they started going out, he’d made a few remarks along those lines to her just to get under her skin, and she’d never quite gotten over them.
“Just imagine she’s a manticore,” Rose muttered to herself as she scrutinised her appearance in the mirror. “She could eat you.”
This felt oddly comforting, and kept her feeling relatively calm right up until Scorpius pulled the door to the restaurant open and Rose saw his grandmother look up.
She’d seen Narcissa Malfoy in photographs, of course, but even if she hadn’t, there would have been no mistaking the resemblance.
“She’s just a manticore,” she said under her breath.
Scorpius looked at her curiously. “What?”
As they neared the table, his grandmother smoothed her deep green robes before pushing the chair back and getting to her feet. She had greying blonde hair, and Rose’s immediate impression was that she was meeting some sort of minor royalty.
“Hey, Gran.” Scorpius hugged her, and Rose saw a tense sort of smile spread across Narcissa Malfoy’s face. She murmured something that Rose couldn’t quite make out, and Scorpius stepped back and slid an arm around Rose’s waist. “Rose, this is my grandmother, Narcissa Malfoy. Gran, this is Rose.”
Rose stuck out her hand, and Scorpius’s grandmother took it gingerly. “It’s nice to meet you, Mrs. Malfoy.”
When she’d first greeted Scorpius’s mother in that manner, she’d been immediately told to call her Astoria. The contrast between the two was stark; where Astoria had immediately tried to put her at ease, Narcissa Malfoy seemed to take the formality for granted. She wasn’t cold – she just wasn’t really warm, either.
“It’s nice to meet you, too, Rose.” She sounded genuine, at least, and Rose didn’t miss the look she shot Scorpius that seemed to scream, “It’s about time.”
Rose forced a smile that she hoped looked genuine, too, and turned toward the chairs on their side of the table. Before she could get to the one diagonal from Mrs. Malfoy, however, Scorpius pulled it out.
She had to smother the urge to kill him - she didn’t really want to be sitting across from his grandmother. Rather than sink into it, however, he looked at her expectantly, and after a moment, she realised that he had pulled it out for her to sit in.
“I - er - thanks.”
As he sank into the seat next to her, his grandmother asked in a clipped tone, “Scorpius, don’t you usually pull Rose’s chair out for her?”
“Sure I do.”
“Then why does she look so confused?”
He nudged Rose’s chair with his foot, and she tried to wipe the confusion off her face. “Oh, no, Mrs. Malfoy, he’s a perfect - um - gentleman.”
She resisted the urge to add, ‘or something.’ She doubted Narcissa Malfoy would appreciate that as much as Scorpius’s parents probably would.
Mrs. Malfoy did not seem convinced, but she did drop it, which was good enough. Rose was fairly certain that starting lunch off with an explanation of why she was glad that Scorpius didn’t do that sort of thing - ever - would not have been ideal.
“Scorpius tells me you work with the Ministry.”
“Yes, I - I do.” Rose glanced around the room - surely it was high time for a waiter to come by to take their order? She shifted uncomfortably as she looked back at Mrs. Malfoy. “Manticores.”
Mrs. Malfoy raised her eyebrows. “I beg your pardon?”
“That’s - that’s what my department does. We deal with manticores, I mean. And other magical creatures.”
Rose was starting to sound like a complete simpleton, and she knew it. She was therefore more than a little grateful when she heard the waiter’s voice.
“Would you like to start with something to drink?”
Her relief was short-lived, however, when she realised that she didn’t actually know who would be paying for the lunch. Typically, when her parents (or aunts, or uncles, or grandparents) invited her out to eat, they paid for lunch. Scorpius’s parents had always waved aside her attempts to pay them for what she’d ordered.
Scorpius’s grandmother, however, lived in a different world. Maybe in her world, women never paid for anything. Maybe she thought that she was gracing Rose with her presence. Maybe -
“Rose?” Scorpius nudged her. All three of them were staring expectantly at her.
“Just water. Thanks.”
The waiter nodded, gave a pleasant smile, and walked off. Scorpius leaned over to her to murmur, “Don’t worry about paying.”
She blinked at him, and he grinned. “Come on,” he said, still keeping his voice low. “I’ve been with you for how long?” He reached over and squeezed her hand, and she felt herself relax a little.
“I love you,” she said without thinking, and then the sound of someone clearing their throat brought her back to reality in a very unpleasant way.
When she looked over at Scorpius’s grandmother, however, Mrs. Malfoy seemed to be trying to suppress a small smile.
“You work with magical creatures?” she prompted.
“Oh.” Rose shook herself. “Yes. I do. I’m just a trainee, though, I haven’t even been out in the field yet. I just got assigned this a squad this week.”
“But what exactly do you do with them?”
“Capture them. Kill them. I mean, it depends on whether we’re talking about a kelpie or a nest of acromantulas, you know?”
Mrs. Malfoy’s eyebrows rose again, and Rose slumped back in her seat. This was going to be a long lunch.
A/N: Hello, wonderful readers!
Oh, Narcissa. I'm really interested to know what you guys thought of her - did I get her right? Was there something you think I could have done better with her, or should keep in mind for next time? (She may show up again in this story... and I'm toying with Lucius showing up as well, though that will go less smoothly for all involved.)
If you've got a moment, I'd love it if you could leave a review. Thank you so much for reading regardless, and I hope you enjoyed it!
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