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Midnight Over Broadway by momotwins
Chapter 12 : The Rock
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 8


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The next morning, we had two messages waiting for us at the hotel's front desk. The first was from my uncle Harry, who'd sent over a sealed packet. This was addressed to Dad with “confidential” stamped all over it, but I read it over his shoulder. He didn't seem to care. I could see why: There wasn't much there. Uncle Harry had two suspects that would fit the description of the Russian, neither of whom was anyone you'd want to meet in a dark alley, both with shadowy reputations for violence and various crimes, everything from smuggling to counterfeiting to assassination. Neither one of them had known identities, only nicknames given by law enforcement in various countries. There was a note at the bottom in Uncle Harry's handwriting that read, “Sorry Ron, this is all I've got. Watch your back.” Dad folded up the sheet of parchment and stuffed it in his pocket.

The second message was from Hatchcock, and much more helpful than what Uncle Harry had sent over. The young Auror had managed to get an official interview with Charles Rocke and was inviting us to assist him – acting as consultants to the New York Department of Aurors, Manhattan Bureau.

“Do we get paid as consultants?” I asked hopefully.

“Don't press your luck, Rose,” said Dad.

The visit to Charles Rocke was scheduled for eleven o'clock, which meant we were going to have to ditch Mum and Scorpius for most of the day. They weren't going to like that. But at least I didn't need to worry about leaving Scorpius and Ramses unprotected. Mum was worth ten regular people when it came to knowing useful spells for every situation.

That didn't mean, of course, that Mum was happy with this plan when we told her about it.

"You're going to what?"

Dad didn't even look embarrassed that Mum had just shouted in the dining room. The other guests were staring at us. Dad continued eating, ignoring all of them as he made steady inroads into the huge pile of eggs and sausages on his plate.

"We're going to Montain to interview Charles Rocke," he said again. "We'll probably be gone well into the afternoon, so you may want to have lunch without us. We'll just grab something off a food truck somewhere."

Dad's idea of food off a truck was sure to be something Mum disapproved of, like questionable curries and pizza mostly made of grease. Dad loved food trucks, probably because Mum didn't like him to eat that sort of food. In fairness, that was because that sort of food usually gave him heartburn, but that didn't stop Dad.

"What you eat for lunch is the last thing I'm concerned about," Mum began ominously.

"That'd be a first," Dad muttered with his mouth full.

Mum eyeballed him. "Ronald. Why are you going to Montain? How are you even getting in there?"

"That young Auror, Hatchcock, is arranging it. I have a few questions and all the leads we've followed so far point to Charles Rocke."

This was true, actually. I'd hoped to get in to talk to him before but hadn't reckoned on getting to do so. Lucky thing Dad was around. Maybe getting arrested hadn't been all bad, since it had brought Dad out. Now I had an ally. I smiled at him fondly. Dad winked at me and bit into a sausage.

"I can't believe I'm hearing this," said Mum. "I thought we came here to get Rose out of trouble. Now you're diving right back into it with her."

"I am helping get her out of trouble." Dad looked a little offended. He pointed his fork at Mum. "We can't just back off and expect Ambrosia won't come after Rose. This is too far gone for that. We have to see it through."

"You don't know that," Mum snarled. "Don't you point that fork at me, Ronald Weasley."

"You're just sore that I'm not doing what you say. You've been bossing me around since I was eleven years old."

Mum's nostrils flared. "If you would have some sense, I wouldn't have to boss you around."

"I have plenty of sense."

Mum let out a loud harrumph. People were openly watching us now. I'd heard the 'you haven't any sense'/'you always boss me around' argument between my parents all my life - I could probably recite the entire thing - so I could tune it out, but these people weren't used to Weasley family arguments. Oh well. I'd never have to see this particular audience again after I went home, so it didn't really matter.

Scorpius had heard my parents argue plenty of times, but he wasn't as used to it as I was. He was determinedly feeding Ramses and pretending he couldn't hear anything. His face was a little red, though.

Mum and Dad were in full swing now. Dad had even stopped eating, which meant they were nearly to the climax of the argument.

"You're not the only one with brains, Hermione. Don't tell me how to do my job."

"You're not doing your job, you're freelancing. I never tell you how to do your job," Mum said, despite years of her telling Dad how to do his job.

Dad snorted. "Yeah right."

"Well then, if you dislike it so much when I speak to you, maybe I'll just stop."

"Oh sure. You haven't managed to not speak to me for more than a few hours since third year."

Mum looked as if she very much wanted to make a rude hand gesture at him. Instead she folded her arms across her chest, sitting back in her chair.

"You're being childish," said Dad.

"If this is the only way to get through to your father, then so be it," Mum said to me.

"I'm not a part of this," I told her.

She attacked me next. "Are you going too? To Montain?"

"Of course she is," Scorpius muttered.

"Of course I am," I said.

Mum looked more annoyed than ever. "Fine. Scorpius, you and I will take the baby and see the sights. I'm sure we can find something educational to do."

"Have fun with that," said Dad. "Rose and I are going to prison."

"Hopefully you'll come back out," Scorpius said, wiping jam off Ramses's chin.

*

Hatchcock was waiting for us in his office, busily writing up some report or other. Aurors were always doing reports. It seemed to be at least half of Dad's job was writing reports, or rather getting some of his underlings to do it for him. The secretaries who had to interpret Dad's chicken scratch ought to receive hazard pay.

"Ah, paperwork," Dad said expansively. "Both the bane of law enforcement and the grease that makes it run."

Hatchcock grinned and dropped his quill. "So true. How are you this morning, sir?"

They spent a few minutes chatting amiably. I put in a few words when I could and smiled prettily, but mostly left Dad to it. He was much better at this than I was. Must be an Auror thing. Dad always enjoyed talking with other law enforcement people. When we'd gone to France when I was a girl, Dad had kept trotting off to chat with the gendarmes when we were supposed to be viewing educational museums and historic sites (Mum had arranged our itinerary).

We set off shortly before noon, running late as always with a civil service. Hatchcock led us to a fireplace and at first I thought we'd be taking a Floo directly to Montain. But instead it let us out at a small boathouse with a pair of guards watching it. There was a single pier behind them with a rather well-used boat moored at the end.

The guards stopped us, wands drawn, and I saw Muggle guns were also clipped to their belts. They weren't joking about security here, I supposed. Hatchcock produced paperwork for the visit and his ID, which were duly recorded in a log book in purple ink. Dad showed them his own Auror identification and they examined it closely. I didn't have anything so official, so I gave them my Apparition license. They didn't seem as impressed by it as they had been by Dad's.

Finally they let us pass, and Hatchcock loaded us into the boat. There was a rusted old outboard engine at the back of the boat (Stern? Port? I wasn't very nautical) and he pointed his wand at it. It coughed blue smoke for a moment, then roared to life. The boat seemed to know where to go without anyone steering it, and we set off into the harbour.

It wasn't easy to hear over the noise of the engine, but Dad managed a bit of conversation anyway. I would've thought he was going to keep Hatchcock as a new best friend if I hadn't known he was only being political. Okay, he probably liked the bloke too, Dad usually got along pretty well with everyone. Product of growing up with six siblings, no doubt. Dad was able to be instant chums with nearly anyone he ran across, if he put his mind to it.

Montain loomed over us as we got closer. It was bloody enormous up close, taller than Azkaban, a black monolith in the middle of the bay. I felt a sizzle across my skin, as if we had passed some sort of invisible barrier.

"That's the security alert spells," Hatchcock shouted over the engine's roaring. "They're set to notify the prison guards when someone approaches. Repels Muggles, too. The dock guards called ahead, so they'll be expecting us. We'll go through the ID process again at the prison entrance."

I was glad they knew we were coming. I didn't fancy being greeted by a passel of guards with wands blazing. Dad only nodded, as if he'd expected no less, which was probably true. I'd never been to Azkaban, so maybe their security was similar.

It took another twenty minutes to get through the prison's security. We had to leave our wands at the desk and sign more log books, but that wasn't what took so long. That was all Dad's fault. One of the guards had heard of him, and they talked for far longer than I thought was normal. Once the first guard had started recounting Dad's history in the defeat of Voldemort, the other guards were far more impressed with him, and were all listening avidly. Dad seemed to be enjoying the attention. He just stood there grinning and making occasional comments on the story.

“Yeah, the bit about the dragon is true... No, that was Harry, not me, I only helped... Yeah, it's how my wife and I got together, actually...”

Eventually Hatchcock coughed discreetly, and Dad took the hint.

“Well, it was nice meeting you blokes.” He gave the guards a wave. “Stay sharp.”

I followed as Hatchcock led the way into the inner corridors of the prison. Dad had his hands in his pocket, whistling quietly as he walked. He seemed very cheerful. I reckoned he had definitely enjoyed the attention.

Most of the time, my parents don't mention their war history. It's not really day-to-day conversation for our family. But sometimes I was strongly reminded that they had done a lot, and that while Uncle Harry was the one who actually defeated Voldemort and usually got all the recognition, he never would've done so without Mum and Dad. This was usually accompanied by the reminder that though Uncle Harry avoided it, Dad loved revelling in the attention his heroism brought. Probably another by-product of growing up with six siblings. Dad rarely passed up an opportunity for a bit of attention.

Charles Rocke's cell was deep inside the prison. It seemed to take forever to get there, down winding corridors and a lift that took us down several levels. Since we'd started at ground level, we had to be under the water by now. Not even a window to attempt to climb out of for the deep security, it seemed.

We passed an open pit at one point, and I looked down and saw a dragon chained at the bottom of it. It looked like a Peruvian Vipertooth, the only dragon native to the Americas, but it was pale and stunted. It must've been here a long time. I could see the barred and burnt doors of a handful of cells around the edges of the pit. Apparently the dragon guarding especially high-security prisoners in Montain wasn't a rumour after all.

Dad had seen the dragon too, but he didn't comment on it, only murmured over his shoulder to me, “Don't tell your mother you saw that, or we'll never hear the end of it.”

“Right,” I said, and with one last glance at the dragon, we turned a corner away from the pit.

Hatchcock walked up to a cell at the end of a short corridor and knocked on the wall beside the bars of the door. “Mr. Rocke, we'd like to ask you a few questions.”

“Sure,” came a deep, gravelly voice. “I don't have anything better to do.”

Hatchcock drew his wand (he hadn't been required to turn his over – perks of having jurisdiction, I supposed) and conjured three wooden chairs. I moved to sit in mine, and finally got a look at Charles Rocke the mob boss.

He was about my dad's age, with salt-and-pepper hair cut short, a large beak of a nose, and a barrel chest. He hadn't got up, so I couldn't tell how tall he was, but I guessed he was a bit shorter than Dad. He didn't look like a crime boss, just like a tough old businessman. The cell was bare but for a bed and toilet. A book dangled from his hand; we'd obviously caught him reading. I could just make out the cover: it was part of a popular series of Auror novels, one of the older titles in the series.

“Good book,” Dad said as he sat down in the centre chair. “Always enjoyed that series, myself. I finished the latest one in two days. Couldn't put it down. Not terribly realistic, but certainly interesting enough.”

“I haven't read the last one.” Mr. Rocke set the book down, open to his page, on the bed next to him. “As you can imagine, getting to the bookstore has been problematic for me of late.”

Dad chuckled. “I'll see if I can arrange to have a copy sent for you.”

I could see wariness creep into Mr. Rocke's eyes, but he thanked Dad anyway. Dad was good at buttering people up, but this was a man who wasn't going to fold to Dad's charm.

“Who are your friends, Hitchcock?” he asked.

Hatchcock didn't correct him. Probably wanted to stay on good footing. “This is Ron Weasley, an Auror with the British Ministry of Magic, and Rose Weasley. She's a private investigator.”

Mr. Rocke nodded. “And what can I do for you folks today?” His voice was pleasant enough, but he was suspicious. I was sure Dad saw it too.

“We have a few questions for you about an ongoing case. What can you tell us about the woman currently known as Anastasia Leatherby?”

Mr. Rocke's eyes flickered briefly. I thought he might be surprised, but he hid it well. “What do you want to know?”

“Her dealings with the Ellery family,” I said. “And anything else you can tell us about her present activities.”

He dodged the first question neatly by answering the second. “I've been in prison the last year. I can tell you what I've heard since I was locked up.”

“Mr. Rocke, did you have dealings with Anastasia Leatherby before your imprisonment?” Hatchcock asked sternly.

“You might say that. She was nibbling at my heels,” he admitted. “Trying to take over small parts of my businesses, get a foothold. I tried to deal with her swiftly, but she's slippery.”

I interpreted that to mean he'd tried to have her killed and been unable to catch her. Definitely a crime boss.

“She's taken over a lot of my old business territory since I've been in here,” Mr. Rocke went on. “I don't get visitors, but things reach me. I hear she's in bed with a few of my old partners,” he added, his eyes hard.

“Partners?” Dad echoed.

“Some of my associates apparently took up with her after I was no longer able to oversee my enterprises. Loyalty is a highly prized virtue in my business. If Ms. Leatherby hasn't figured that out yet, who am I to enlighten her?”

Sounded like Ambrosia's new friends would throw her over the way they had thrown over Charles Rocke, if the opportunity presented itself. That might be good for us.

Mr. Rocke managed to look both impassive and slightly smug. He wanted to name names, I could feel it. I didn't know what to say to get him to spill it, though.

Fortunately Dad was an expert spiller, and even better at making connections. “The son of a prominent judge, the judge who ruled on your trial, was killed last week. Have you heard about that?”

“Noah Ellery's murder?” He nodded. “News like that travels fast. Judge Ellery put a lot of people in here.”

“Heard anything else about Noah Ellery's murder?” Dad asked mildly.

“I'd lay dollars to donuts it was that Leatherby woman,” Charles Rocke said. “But if you're hoping for proof, you're barking up the wrong tree. No proof here. Just rumours.”

A small stab of disappointment went through me, though I'd been expecting this. The man had been locked up, after all, since before the murder. “If you can connect Ms. Leatherby to the Ellery family for us,” I began.

“Well hell, I can do that. Who do you think the first one of my partners to jump ship so easily was? Hitched his star to hers when mine went south.” Mr. Rocke smiled sourly. Clearly he felt he'd been betrayed. “I woulda had him dealt with if I could.”

I had a feeling 'dealt with' meant something very permanent to Charles Rocke.

“Are you saying Greyson Ellery was your business partner?” Hatchcock asked, his voice tinged with shock.

Mr. Rocke snorted. “That old stick? Nah. His brother. Wyn needs a little under-the-table help now and then, and he likes to go to the top dog for everything. Underlings were never good enough for him. We had a few mutual business ventures, loose partnerships. Oral contracts, if you know what I mean. He wouldn't have been able to back out of some of them, and that woman was taking over everything I'd built up, including the partnerships with Wyn Ellery.”

“Did she take over any other business ventures you were working on?” I asked, struck by sudden inspiration. She'd inherited Wyn Ellery and Heckie Shanahan from Charles Rocke – or rather, gotten them in a hostile takeover – so was it possible she'd gotten the contact with the Russian the same way?

For the first time since we'd sat down, Charles Rocke looked at me. I mean really looked at me, examining me closely. It was a little unnerving.

“More than one,” he said finally. “Got something specific in mind, Ms. Weasley?”

“I don't know his name. Heckie Shanahan was working on the deal for Ambrosia – Anastasia, that is. Something at the docks, and a translator. The deal went south when the translator and Heckie were both no-shows. I saw him. Tall and dark and rather handsome, and didn't speak English much. Maybe-”

“Russian? Oh yeah, I know him. That'd be Radoslav Stanis. He's Ukrainian. Speaks four languages, but none of them English. Pain in the ass to deal with.” Mr. Rocke paused then, and looked at me sharply. “Why wasn't Shanahan there?”

“He's dead,” I told him. “I think Anastasia killed him.”

“Damn. Heckie was a damn good accountant. He could get money clean that no one else could. It was like magic.” He chuckled then. “What the hell, I'm in for life anyway. Stanis is an arms dealer. Magical stuff, Muggle stuff, blends of the two. If it goes boom or can kill someone, he can sell it to you. Dangerous stuff. I never wanted his full arsenal, but I was arranging a deal with him a few months before I got sent here. Leatherby took that when she took over my other business. She's thorough, I'll give her that. But Stanis is a skittish piece of work. I'd be willing to bet he was on the defensive just from changing partners in this deal. She probably wanted terms changed from what I had on order. He wouldn't have liked that. Volatile mix there.”

It certainly had been. No wonder the scene at the dock had gone downhill so swiftly. Stanis the arms dealer had been primed for an explosion to begin with, and when Heckie and Anita hadn't been there as planned, it would've been the last straw for him.

I glanced at Dad, who gave me an approving nod. He'd pulled the paper and pencil stub from his pocket and scribbled down Stanis's name at the bottom of the list.

Hatchcock looked very interested as well. He wasn't so practiced at the Auror face as my dad was. “What exactly were you purchasing from Mr. Stanis?”

“Probably not the same thing Leatherby's trying to get. She's got delusions of grandeur. I wanted explosives – mild stuff, for breaking into locks, that kind of thing. There's one that burns so hot, you can burn a body completely inside of fifteen minutes.”

Think of all the wear and tear they would save, not having to travel to dump the bodies at the racetrack. Burning them instead would be much more efficient. Ugh. Dad was frowning. I decided to keep sassy comments to myself.

Hatchcock seemed to consider this for a few minutes in silence, contemplating Charles Rocke through the bars of the cell door. Finally he asked, “Mr. Rocke, were you aware of any Aurors or other law enforcement personnel taking payments from any of your associates?”

Oh, holy Kneazles. Hatchcock's willingness to help, to get us in on a difficult-to-arrange interview, suddenly made a lot more sense. He was here because he thought there was a crooked Auror. Tanny Jack had been right about that. There was at least one dirty cop in New York's magical law enforcement, and Hatchcock knew it. From the look on his face, he already knew or suspected the answer, he just wanted Charles Rocke to confirm it. He'd been careful to phrase his question in a way that would allow Mr. Rocke to answer without incriminating himself.

Charles Rocke gave him a long, assessing gaze, and then said, “There's always a price if you can find the right lever. I employed people who were good at finding the spot to push on.”

Hatchcock nodded. “Auror, or Magical Law Enforcement?”

“Both are useful to have.”

Cryptic conversation aside, I took that to mean there were dirty Aurors and MLEs. That was just great. Mum would have a field day. Lucky for us she couldn't practice law in America. Not that I was aware of, anyway, but I never put anything past Mum.

“Can you give us a name?” I asked. Crypticness was all very well, but if there were crooked Aurors, I wanted to know their names. So that I could avoid them.

Mr. Rocke was silent for a moment, then he said, “Mottershead and Alford were the MLEs. The Auror we were just developing, Mickey Shaw was working on him but he kept quiet. I didn't know a name yet.”

“Thank you, Mr. Rocke,” Hatchcock said, getting to his feet. “I may be back to talk more later.”

“Looking forward to it.” Charles Rocke picked up his book, but he caught my eye as I stood up, and I thought he winked at me. It had to be a trick of the light, though. Crime bosses didn't wink at young ladies, did they?

Dad and Hatchcock were both silent until we were nearly to the guard station. Dad reached out and grabbed Hatchcock's arm, stopping him so suddenly that I bumped into Dad's back.

“How much do you know about these dirty MLEs? And the Auror? Is he in your department?”

“I think so, yes.” Hatchcock seemed to debate whether or not to say more, then he said, “Your daughter's involvement since she first made contact with the Auror Department made me think it was Jessup. He was far too ready to lock her up on evidence that was circumstantial at best. We shouldn't have held her, and he was determined to do so. Her arrest itself was odd, and that made me suspect Mottershead, the MLE who headed the team that arrested her. He said he got an anonymous tip that something was going down at that pier, and the only person he brings back is the one who is getting in the way of the criminals? The one who's making trouble for the newest crime boss in the city? It's too pat.”

“Lucky anonymous tips do happen, but yeah, I see what you're saying.” Dad crossed his arms over his chest thoughtfully. “No proof, though, is there?”

“I don't have anything to hang around Jessup except suspicions. I haven't made a move on it at all. I don't want to spook him if I'm right, and if I'm wrong, I don't want to smear his name. I was brought here from the Washington D.C. office to look for corruption in the department.”

“What about this Mickey Shaw?” Dad asked. “Trying to get an Auror on their payroll.”

“He's dead,” I told them. “I heard about him before. Shot by Muggle police.”

“I need proof it was Jessup before I can make a move on him,” Hatchcock said again. “Hearsay from Charles Rocke won't hold up in court.”

Dad nodded. “Well then, let's see if we can't get something more concrete for you than suspicions and hearsay.”

“How are we going to do that?” I asked. I was all for catching a dirty Auror, especially if it was Jessup, who'd wanted me to serve time when I hadn't done anything, but I didn't know how we were supposed to go about doing it.

“First things first,” Dad said. “We're going to visit Wyn Ellery. Hatchcock, you might want to sit this one out. He'll talk more to us than he will to you.”

Hatchcock nodded reluctantly. “True. Wyn Ellery's got a long reputation in this city. He'll never incriminate himself in front of any sort of law enforcement. I don't think even an off-duty one from another country, sir,” he added to Dad, rather apologetically. “You might want to let your daughter take point.”

“What, me?” I perked up a bit.

“You got Charles Rocke to talk. He gave away more than I've ever seen without a district attorney present holding a possible-parole carrot over his head. You've got a way with criminals.”

“She gets it from her old dad,” Dad said modestly.

“Well, sometimes I've got a way with criminals because they're relatives,” I put in.

“My nephew Louis.” Dad shook his head, giving Hatchcock a knowing look. “He can't seem to help himself. One of my great-uncles spent some time in prison, but no one likes to talk about that. I think Louis must have got a recessive trait or something.”

Hatchcock nodded wisely. “Understandable. A lot of cops' families have those sort of relatives. My brother did time on a misdemeanor while I was in the Academy.”

“Should we go visit Wyn Ellery right now?” I asked hopefully.

Dad checked his watch. “It's after two. We'd better check in with your mum first. We can go visit Wyn Ellery this evening. Besides, you'll want to see your baby. We hardly got a moment with him this morning.”

“Do you have children, then?” Hatchcock asked me as we started walking again.

“Just one.”

We chatted about Ramses while we checked back out with the guards and retrieved our wands, and Dad whipped out a photo from his pocket. The guards all admired him – mostly for Dad's benefit, not mine – and then we began to make out way back to the boat.

One of the guards gave a little cough to get my attention as I followed Dad and Hatchcock out.

“Yeah?” I asked him, since he seemed to have something on his mind.

“Are you related to Dominique Weasley?”

Bloody Dominique. I got out of there as quickly as possible, leaving the guards starstruck by the sheer number of famous relatives I had. Honestly, sometimes I could hardly believe my family myself.

It was nearly three before we made it back to the hotel. Mum and Scorpius were there, and Ramses was napping in his cot.

“He fell asleep while we were at the library,” Scorpius told me as I peeked in at the baby.

“Trust you to go to a library,” Dad said to Mum, and she immediately turned to me.

“How did it go at prison? I see they decided not to keep you after all.”

Dad rolled his eyes and sat down at the table, setting his wand down beside him. “Still not talking to me? Nice. Very mature, Hermione.”

“Would you like tea?” Scorpius piped up. His voice was unnaturally loud. He really didn't like being trapped in a hotel room with my parents in the middle of a fight, I reckoned. “I'll make a pot of tea.” He scrambled to his feet and aimed his wand at the teapot on the sideboard, which boiled immediately, and then set about making the tea. I hoped it would help calm him down. Eventually he would get used to this sort of thing. My parents were always either fighting or sneaking off to snog. Sometimes both simultaneously. Somehow Scorpius never got used to the fighting, though he thought the snogging was hilarious.

“No, Mum,” I told her. “They didn't keep us. We got quite a bit out of Charles Rocke. Ambrosia's been taking over some of his old businesses. Probably rather a lot of them, knowing her.”

“Got a bit about some dirty MLEs as well. An Auror too, but we didn't get a name. Likely one of the blokes who had Rose held overnight.” Dad accepted a cup of tea from Scorpius. “Cheers.”

“And we got a line on who we should speak with next about figuring out what Ambrosia is up to so we can stop her,” I added triumphantly.

“Rose got that,” Dad said proudly. “So this evening, we'll be off to interview a crooked politician who's caught up in this whole thing somehow.”

“A crooked politician?” Mum echoed sharply, accidentally addressing Dad. “Ron, you wouldn't-”

“You should go back to not talking to me, Hermione,” Dad said encouragingly, sipping his tea. “It's doing me ever so much good.”

“Shut up or I'll poison your tea,” Mum told him.

Dad seemed to think this was hilarious, and laughed so hard he nearly choked. My parents were really weird.

Mum was nothing if not tenacious, though, so she went right back to not speaking to Dad again after that. We spent the entire rest of the conversation – mostly Mum monologuing about their day's activities (she gets very talkative when she's embarrassed) – with her asking me to pass things on to Dad even though he was sitting not ten feet from her. He chortled into his tea a few times.

Eventually the noise woke Ramses, and Mum took him off to the bathroom to change his nappy. It really was nice having my parents here. I hated changing nappies.

Scorpius was sitting beside me on the bed, watching Dad grin fondly at the bathroom door with the fatuous smile he always has when he's watching his only grandchild.

“Your dad might be sleeping on the couch tonight,” Scorpius said in an undertone.

Dad heard him. He shot us a grin over his shoulder. “Nah, she can't resist me for long. She may not be speaking to me, but she never throws me out of bed. Besides, I can do all the talking.”

“Ew,” I said.

Scorpius grinned back at Dad. Men are disgusting.
 


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