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stop the presses! by MajiKat

Format: Novella
Chapters: 5
Word Count: 13,063
Status: Abandoned

Rating: 15+
Warnings: Contains profanity, Mild violence, Scenes of a mild sexual nature, Substance abuse

Genres: Humor, Mystery, Romance
Characters: Rose, Scorpius, Teddy, Victoire, OC, OtherCanon
Pairings: Other Pairing

First Published: 04/26/2011
Last Chapter: 01/06/2012
Last Updated: 01/06/2012

Summary:
absolutely stunning PERFECT banner by justonemorefic at TDA!!






Lucy Weasley's life is rubbish. Her boss is a psycho and her love-life is non-existent. Her family is messed up - one cousin is acting weird, one cousin's ex-fiance is seeing another cousin, and the rest of the Potter-Weasley's are a bunch of perfectly ridiculous over-achievers. Things need to change.


Chapter 1: 1
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stop the presses!
1




From inside the café, Lucy watched the rain slide down the window. It was the third consecutive day of rain and she was beginning to feel more depressed than usual. Already that morning she’d stepped in a puddle, drenched her ankles and splashed mud on the hem of her new coat. It was nothing a quick drying charm couldn’t fix but a simple error like apparating directly into a puddle was enough of a reminder that life really stunk.

If you were Lucy that was: somehow, while the rest of her extended family spread their wings and soared, Lucy was left floundering on the ground like a fish in a puddle, gasping for air and trying to work out how, at the very least, to get through a day without something ridiculous happening to her.

Yesterday it was spilling coffee on her boss’s desk. The day before it was missing her second deadline in a row and before that…she didn’t even want to think about the disaster date she had been on with Daniel. She knew she should have cancelled when her hair refused to do what it was told, even with the assistance of a charm, and she tore a hole in her stocking on the way out her front door. Showing up for a dinner with a man she wasn’t even sure she actually liked with a bird’s nest on her head and a ladder from ankle to knee was a definite sign the night was not going to bode well.

It didn’t, and when he ducked into the loo, she bolted, leaving him with the bill and possibly a huge sense of relief.

Dominique was late, as usual. Out of her multitude of cousins, Dom was the one Lucy felt the most relaxed around. Unlike the rest of the family, Dom did not work for the Ministry, was not a successful-anything and most importantly, did not choose to remind Lucy at every possible occasion that she needed to do something more with her life, as her mother had done just that morning.

Lucy gulped at her coffee; it burnt the back of her throat and she gasped, feeling tiny blisters spring to life on her tongue.

“Fantastic,” she grumbled, dapping at her mouth with a napkin as Dom dropped into the seat opposite, scowling.

“I hate my life.”

“You and me both,” Lucy said, feeling instantly less miserable. “What did she do now?”

“Oh just the usual; if I have to clean one more jar of bubotuber puss I think I will kill someone. Did you order?”

“Waiting for you,” Lucy replied, signalling the waitress. Dom made a face at the salads and went straight for cake.

“I deserve it,” she argued.

“We can’t all rely on being part Veela you know,” Lucy muttered when Dom made her order cake as well, saying she looked like she needed it. While they waited for their chocolate gateau and the guilt that accompanied it, Dom asked after Daniel.

“I don’t think I will be seeing him again,” Lucy sighed. “It doesn’t matter – I don’t think I liked him. He talked way too much and I don’t even know what a computer does let alone a what did he call it? Oh yeah, a DVD, which I assume is something you can watch because he asked me to go back to his flat to watch one.”

“He asked you home? On the first date?” Dom looked scandalised.

“He has a flatmate.”

“Still, what a creep.”

“He was actually kind of nice,” Lucy said, feeling the need to defend the hapless Daniel, even though part of her agreed with her cousin. The waitress dumped two of the biggest pieces of chocolate cake Lucy had ever seen on their table. Dom’s mouth went slack and she started salivating, picking up a fork and attacking the mountain of chocolate.

“I saw Louis yesterday.” She popped a piece of cake into her mouth. “Oh my god that’s good!” She swallowed and licked her lips. “Anyway, he came into the shop to order some wolfsbane, and he looked terrible – his outfit was complete rubbish and his hair was hideous. I think he’s forgotten about mirrors.”

“That’s weird,” Lucy answered slowly. “About the wolfsbane I mean.” The last anyone had heard of Louis, she remembered, he was living in a dingy flat in London somewhere with a bunch ‘bohemian types,’ as her father had called them. What he meant were artists, Lucy thought, although she didn’t know for certain. She had never been particularly close to Louis, finding him a little odd and overly fond of snapping photographs of her looking her worst.

“I know, right? I mean, it’s not something people generally order,” Dom said, flicking a length of pale blonde hair over her shoulder.

“Did he say anything to you?” Lucy asked tentatively.

Dom shook her head. “I was stacking shelves – I don’t think he knew I was there. Naturally, I was curious, so the moment he left I took myself to lunch and I followed him.” Dom had been working at the apothecary in Diagon Alley for about a year and she constantly complained that all she did was stack shelves and fetch coffee for her boss.

Lucy groaned. “Oh Dom, you didn’t?”

“I did and good thing I thought of it,” her cousin answered, as if stalking was the most common thing in the world, even if it was stalking family members. “Did you know he has a girlfriend?”

“Who?”

Dom made a face that had nothing to do with the cake. “Arabella Greengrass.”

“They could just be friends,” Lucy said neutrally, fiddling with her spoon. Even though Dom hated her boss and barely spoke to her brother, Lucy knew she’d detest the idea of her boss’s daughter and her brother seeing each other.

“Do you snog your friends on street corners?”

“Eww, no.”

“There you go then,” Dom said smugly, sitting back in her chair. “Dad is going to go mental when he finds out.”

“You’re not going to tell him?”

“Of course I am,” Dom replied with a smirk and Lucy groaned. “Don’t look at me like that – Louis deserves it. It doesn’t matter what he does he is still the golden child; well, second to Victoire anyway.”

“I’ve got to get back to work,” Lucy cut in, not wanting to sit through one of Dom’s ‘why-I-hate-my-siblings’ speeches. “Rose has called a meeting for this afternoon and I can’t be late.”

Dominique rolled her eyes. “I don’t know how you put up with that cow.”

“You just hate her because of Teddy.”

“No, I don’t, I hate her because she is horrid and vile and has terrible hair and yes, okay, why did he have to pick her?”

Lucy smiled, picking up her bag. “Did Vic tell you why they split up?”

“No, but I always knew he had a wandering eye,” Dom said.

“You hoped,” Lucy amended.

“Lucy! Do you really think I’d steal my sister’s boyfriend?”

“You did try though.”

“True, but I was thirteen. Listen, I have to go back to work too – Deadly Daphne will kill me if I’m late – lunch tomorrow?”

Lucy grinned. “Sure.” Lunch with Dom was the highlight of her week and as she slung her bag over her shoulder and made her way outside to stand under the miserable London sky the familiar sensation of failure started to sink into her stomach.

Rose was going to ask her what she’d been working on and she was going to say, as she always did, nothing. Rose would then ask why Lucy even bothered getting out of bed in the morning if all she could manage to do was nothing and Lucy would lower her eyes, mutter an apology and promise she’d try harder. That would result in Rose taking her into her grand, master-of-the-universe style office and saying that even though Lucy was family she had to pull her weight.

Lucy scowled, looking up at the sky. She never wanted to be a journalist anyway.

Academically disabled, she could get no other job and in utter dismay, her father had called on their over-achieving super-successful extended family for help. The only one to put their hand up was Rose, taking Lucy under her wing like she might a lost puppy. Lucy soon learnt though that Rose was anything but the sort to care for lost puppies, preferring to kick them out of the way with her high-heeled boots.

The woman was a nightmare and if she wasn’t family and if Lucy didn’t so desperately need a job, she would have run screaming into the street on the first day. Though not the editor, it was no secret at the Prophet that Rose wanted the top job and that she would step on people to get it. Somewhere deep inside it irked Lucy that not only was she working for her cousin, she was working for her younger cousin.

Lucy sighed, turned her coat up against the rain that was starting to fall and made her way back to the office, hurrying upstairs to the conference room. She was late and briefly considered not going to the stupid meeting but she needed this job and the money that went with it. It wasn’t much, but it was more than she would see if she found herself unemployed. She took a deep breath and pushed at the door, tripping over her feet as she went.

All eyes swung towards the walking accident that was Lucy and Rose, seated at the head of the table, sighed.

“Do be on time,” she said simply.

Ears burning, Lucy slunk into a seat as far down the table from Rose as possible, and as close to the door as possible. Plans for a quick and easy escape were doused when Rose gave her ‘the look’ – the one that meant, ‘I am terribly disappointed in you and I want to see you in my office after everyone has gone.’

As predicted, Rose asked her staff what they had for the next edition. There was a scheduled interview with the Minster for Magic; a photo session with the ladies of the Harpies and a possible interview with Ginny Potter, now retired; and someone wanted to interview Draco Malfoy.

Rose raised her eyebrows. “Reason?”

“Well,” spluttered Herbert Smith, the youngest of the editorial team, “he’s made such a success of himself. Malfoy Industries has -”

“Fine, do it, if he’ll talk to you,” Rose cut in. “But I don’t want a gushing article on how great the Malfoy’s are, got it?” Herbert nodded, and Rose turned her attention to Lucy. “Anything?”

Lucy cleared her throat. “Not yet, but I was thinking that maybe we could interview the Head Boy and Girl of Hogwarts, to see what their plans are for the future, that sort of thing.”

“It’s been done before,” Rose said with a sigh and Lucy slumped in her chair. “But that’s not to say we can’t do it again. Find out when the next Hogsmeade weekend is and organise to speak to them there.”

“Really?” Lucy whispered.

“Yes,” Rose snapped, irritated, and Lucy barely paid attention for the remainder of the meeting, which was taken up with talk of the layout and what headings to use, as well as the usual office gossip. Lucy was still sitting in her seat as the meeting wound up; she glanced at Rose as the last of her co-workers filed out.

Her cousin gave her a long look down the length of the table and Lucy swallowed, determined to be strong. Rose wouldn’t fire her; she had actually managed to come up with something mildly interesting and surely that made up for being late and for the last month of lacklustre work.

“Lucy,” Rose began as the door nudged open. Her face changed instantly from stern editorial director – gone was the frown and the tight brow and in its place was the sort of look a woman gives a man she is completely nuts over.

“Hey.”

Lucy twisted in her seat. Teddy Lupin was leaning casually in the door, hair everywhere and rumpled from head to toe. It looked like he hadn’t changed his clothes for days, had possibly slept in them, but he still managed to look undeniably sexy. He winked at Lucy and ran a hand through his hair – it rippled and changed from brown to blonde, and back to brown, his customary colour.

Teddy and Victoire had been inseparable since they were teenagers, and no one really understood where and why it all went wrong. One moment they were together, just moved into a flat, with plans to marry – Victoire had announced their engagement at Christmas only last year – and the next, Teddy was out on the street and Victoire refused to say a word about it, only that it was over.

It had been no secret that Dom wanted Teddy, but what confused everyone was when he showed up for James’ birthday with Rose.

Needless to say, Rose and Victoire didn’t speak anymore.

Lucy glanced back at Rose. “I’m sorry that I -”

“It doesn’t matter,” her cousin said quickly, not looking at her.

“But...”

“Go home, Lucy, and make sure you’re here on time tomorrow.” Rose indicated the door with a tilt of her head and Lucy scampered out, Teddy stepping aside so she could pass. In the hall, she lingered a moment, listening, but their voices were low and she couldn’t make out anything. There was no obvious reason why she was snooping, only that she was. Dom would want to know, in any case, if anything interesting was happening.

Lucy chewed her lip, and then scowled as she caught her sleeve on a doorknob on the way out of the office. It was almost dark; the sun was dropping beneath the line of buildings and she pulled her coat close around her body, turning and glancing up at the row of windows. They were all dark except one and as she watched she saw Teddy’s silhouette pass across it, and the back again. He was pacing, Lucy realised, and she also realised, as she prepared to apparate home, that despite the usual grin, he had looked worried.

That was something she could tell Dom.



Chapter 2: 2
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2



Lucy was exactly two minutes early for work the next morning. She had sacrificed doing her hair in order to keep Rose happy and now she sat in her cubicle, furiously running a brush over her head. She had her father’s colour and her mother’s texture – thick, with curls that refused to do what they were told. Giving up and accepting she would have to spend the day looking like she’d been dragged through a hedge, Lucy tossed the brush onto her desk, where it bounced once, collided with her mug of take-away latte and knocked over her ink bottle.

She watched in dismay as the puddle of black seeped quickly across her desk. “No, no, no,” she hissed at it but the ink ignored her, inching towards the edge. Lucy took out her wand and was just about to Vanish the mess when it disappeared on its own. Startled, she glanced up in time to see Teddy slide his wand back into his jacket.

He had blue hair today, and a blue shirt. His hair matched his shirt exactly and Lucy stared at him a moment, trying to figure out why someone would match their hair to their shirt, or their shirt to their hair. She didn’t know which had come first – had he dressed and then changed his hair, or had he woken up, decided blue was the order of the day, and then found a shirt.

“Lucy? Are you okay?”

“Blue.”

“What?”

She felt her cheeks singeing. “Blue...it looks good on...”

“Oh. Thanks?”

“Oh no, thank you, for, you know...the ink,” Lucy gushed, her words tumbling over one another as her feet were often want to. She was mortally embarrassed and certain her face resembled a terrified tomato. Teddy flashed a strained grin.

“Rose in?”

“I would assume so – she’s probably been in since dawn, you know, just in case,” Lucy quipped and then slapped a hand over her mouth. She probably shouldn’t say things like that about her boss to her boss’s boyfriend, if that was indeed what Teddy was. She’d never even seen them kiss, or touch, or anything.

Maybe that was just Rose’s style – public displays of affection were well and truly messy and therefore not suitable for someone with Rose’s reputation.

Cut it out, Lucy told herself, you sound like Dom.

“Try her office,” Lucy suggested weakly, but Teddy was already walking away. She sighed and decided she’d better do something productive with the day, so she Owled Hogwarts and outlined her wish to speak with their Head students. She then spent half an hour at her desk looking busy, getting up twice to sneak past Rose’s office. The door was closed and by the time she had received a reply from the school – the Hogsmeade weekend was two days away – Teddy had left and Rose was shouting at Herbert about his Malfoy Industries article.

“Cow,” Herbert muttered as Rose stalked away. He caught Lucy’s eye over the top of the partition and gave her a watery, apologetic smile. She smiled back, hoping to illicit some sort of conversation, but he would not look at her again. Annoyed, she sat back and put her feet up on her desk, hating the fact that she was related to the boss. It meant no one in the office wanted anything to do with her, or so she told herself.

In reality, it was possibly the fact that she was a walking disaster. If a tsunami hit the coast it would be her fault.

All Dom could do at lunch was theorise about why Teddy had seemed worried the previous night.

“Perhaps he’s realised how completely wretched Rose is and is trying to work out how to break up with her.”

“I really don’t think it’s that, Dom – he was in the office this morning,” Lucy said, sipping at her coffee.

Dom scowled. “Well, I’ve got nothing else.”

“Don’t you think it’s time you found someone else to lust after?” Lucy asked tentatively. As much as she loved Dom, her cousin scared her sometimes, especially when it came to men. To say Dom was a stalker was going a bit far, but she did possess stalker-ish tendencies, if lurking outside a guy’s house for most of the night could be called stalker-ish. She had been, she assured Lucy, just making sure Teddy was okay after he broke up with Victoire.

“Oh my god,” Dom whispered suddenly. “Don’t look.”

Lucy, of course, twisted in her seat, peering around and trying to see what had caused Dom to look so excited suddenly. She didn’t have to look far – Teddy, with his blue hair, was unmistakable and was sitting only a few tables away, near the window. He was alone and he kept glancing out the glass.

“Do you think he’s meeting someone?” Dom asked in a low, scornful voice.

“Unless he dines alone I would say that he is,” Lucy answered, still watching Teddy. They didn’t have to speculate for long – the door opened and Scorpius Malfoy strode into the cafe, a look of disdain on his pale face. Lucy felt oddly offended – the cafe was her favourite and had been for years. It wasn’t posh or up-market like anything Malfoy would be used to, but it was still nice. The food was good, the cake better and the coffee to die for. She turned back to Dom and scowled.

“That’s odd,” Dom said, chewing her lip. “Why is he meeting Malfoy?”

“They are related, remember?” Lucy said. “They might just be catching up or something.”

“Okay, but what is he doing here then?” Dom hissed. Lucy shrugged, still annoyed.

“Maybe he’s decided to slum it.”

Dom shook her blonde head so fast her face blurred. “No, not Malfoy, Louis!”

Lucy spun around so fast so felt something in her neck pinch. Scorpius had sat down next to Teddy, still with that slightly appalled look on his face, and now Louis was lounging in a chair, his strawberry blonde hair everywhere and his clothes looking rumbled and careworn.

“That is odd,” Lucy agreed. She moved her chair around to Dom’s side of the table so she could watch the three men. “Louis looks -”

“Terrible. He is not my brother until he finds a brush and washes his clothes,” Dom declared in a whisper, picking up her coffee and taking a long sip. “Why is he hanging out with Malfoy?”

“Why is he hanging out with Teddy? I thought he punched Teddy in the mouth when he left Vic,” Lucy whispered.

Dom stood up, startling Lucy. “I’m going to find out,” she announced. Lucy pulled her back down.

“Leave it, have another piece of cake, just don’t make a scene.”

Dom rolled her eyes but did as she was told. “Fine, but when my brother leaves, I’m following him and you can’t talk me out of it. You’ll have to disillusion me though – the last time I tried to cast that spell on myself I ended up a floating head and one foot.”

“I am not enabling your strange obsessions,” Lucy muttered, but she knew she’d do it. She was such a pushover. Maybe Rose and her father were right – she would never make it in the world.

Teddy glanced up and caught Lucy’s eye. For a moment, she thought he was going to ignore her but he gave her a weak smile – the sort of smile people give when they realise they’ve been seen but don’t want to encourage any form of communication. Louis turned his head, saw his sister and cousin and rolled his eyes in a very Dom-like way, before he scowled. A second later, Scorpius had given the girls the sort of look Lucy wanted to scratch off his face before he turned his nose up and blatantly ignored them.

Dom opened her mouth, possibly to yell something at Scorpius, but her jaw snapped shut and her eyes narrowed as the door swung open. Lucy glanced across the room almost fearfully, expecting to see Rose coming to rain hell on her head for something or another. It had happened before so it was perfectly logical that it should happen again, and in a public place nonetheless.

Lucy watched as Arabella Greengrass sauntered into the cafe. Like Scorpius, she wore an unimpressed expression as her eyes slid around the little shop. She saw Lucy and Dom and made a show of running her fingers through Louis’ messy hair. Her blue eyes touched on Dom’s face briefly before she bent and gave Louis a lingering kiss.

“Cow,” Dom hissed.

“She might actually like him,” Lucy said softly, watching as Arabella, tall and ridiculously slim, folded herself into a chair, flicking a length of black hair over her very stylish shoulder. Lucy knew Madam Malkin’s tailor-made everything for people like Arabella Greengrass, who would never buy off the rack.

Arabella laughed happily, resting a slim hand on Louis’ knee.

“We’re going,” Dom announced. She shovelled the last of her cake into her mouth, wiped the crumbs from her lips and threw some money on the table, slinging her bag over one shoulder. She stood up, hauling Lucy to her feet roughly and marched towards the door, one hand wrapped dangerously tight around Lucy’s forearm. As they passed Teddy’s table, Dom gave everyone a glower.

Scorpius raised an eyebrow. “Something wrong with your face, Weasley?”

Dom reached into her bag and Lucy panicked; she lunged across at Dom, tripping over her feet in her haste and crashing into Louis’ chair. He yelled, jumped up and she found herself falling, the table, mugs of coffee and mountains of chocolate rising to meet her. She groaned and closed her eyes, thinking how typical it was that she would spend the next twenty minutes pulling cake from her hair and picking icing from her eyelashes.

A pair of arms closed around her and she opened her eyes with a squeak. Her nose was touching the top of a piece of chocolate cake and the end of her ponytail was dangling in someone’s coffee.

“You okay?”

Lucy nodded, letting Teddy set her on her feet.

“You have icing on your nose,” he said, and handed her a napkin.

“Thanks,” she muttered, wiping her face furiously, not looking at anyone. She could hear Arabella snickering and Scorpius was doing nothing to hide his amusement. Without another word, Lucy turned and left the cafe, grabbing Dom on the way and dragging her into the street outside.

The two girls looked at each other.

“You should have let me curse him,” Dom said eventually. Lucy sighed and shook her head.

“Your parents would hate for you to get arrested again,” she mumbled.

“I guess,” Dom said with a frown. “Hey, let’s go out tonight.”

“I have to work tomorrow,” Lucy muttered, attempting to tidy her hair. Dom took out her wand and did it for her, smiling broadly – the sort of smile that meant she wanted something. Lucy groaned.

“So do I, but who cares right? Come on, just a few drinks and that’s it – no painting the town red or anything.”

Lucy narrowed her eyes, searching her cousin’s face critically for any signs of ulterior motives or sneaky plans. Dom’s eyes widened and her expression became so imploring Lucy wondered had she been taking lessons from Victoire’s new puppy.

“Fine.”

Dom hugged her, barked out a time and location and disapparated, leaving Lucy standing on the street corner. She sighed and glanced back at the cafe in time to see Teddy step outside. He met her gaze and she had a moment to register the slightly harassed expression on his face before he disapparated.

Frowning and chewing her lip, Lucy trudged back to work.




“I do not need another drink.”

“Trust me, with a face like that, drinking is the best option for you at the moment,” Dom said, sitting back and slurping her very pink, very potent plum daiquiri.

“Ugh,” Lucy groaned, letting her head fall into her hand. “I feel terrible. My head hurts.”

Dom looked personally wounded. “It’s only nine o’clock. You cannot be pulling out on me now.”

Lucy sighed and shook her head. “Why are we here again?” She looked around. The Hogs Head was full of the usual clientele – a vampire sat in the far corner chatting to what Lucy thought was an ogre, while at the bar, a group of very drunk young jut-out-of-Hogwarts wizards were arguing with a group of equally drunk Ministry employees, and Lucy was certain she’d seen a werewolf lurking around outside, although Dom told her she was being ridiculous.

“Because,” Dom answered swiftly. “I am spying on my brother.”

Lucy blinked. “Louis isn’t even here,” she hissed. “I’ve got a killer headache for no reason!”

Dom rolled her eyes and pushed her ponytail back over her shoulder. “Fine, but Daniel hasn’t stopped looking over here since we walked in,” she added meaningfully. Lucy scowled, her eyes moving towards the bar against her will. Daniel, her hapless DVD-loving date from the weekend, was looking harassed as he tried to mediate the loud alcohol fuelled debate unfolding in front of him. As she watched, he glanced at her and she blushed, turning her eyes away and glaring at her cousin.

“I’m going home,” Lucy announced.

“No, wait,” Dom pleaded.

“Fine, I’m going to the loo and then I’m going home.” Lucy picked up her bag and edged her way through tables and bodies towards what passed as the women’s loo. She tried not to touch anything while in there, not liking the grime that covered every surface, and fixed her hair slowly, giving herself a moment to think. Her brain was bubbling away like something Dom cooked up at work and her skin was paler than usual. She pinched her cheeks, gasped at the pain and shouldered her bag, thinking she should just leave and not bother saying goodbye to Dom.

She was too nice though, and picked her way back to their table, only to find Dom standing waiting for her, practically hopping on the spot. “Louis is here, with Teddy,” she whispered, dragging Lucy to the front door.

“Then why are we leaving?”

“Because they came in, grabbed your boyfriend and left again. Come on!”

Outside, the night was cold and Lucy shivered, feeling immediately less intoxicated. She wrapped her arms around herself and blinked, letting her eyes adjust. Dom pulled her along the street a little, keeping them both pinned to the shadows like spies in an old muggle film. Lucy wanted to giggle as Dom put her finger to her lips dramatically, her eyes wide as she pointed with her spare hand.

In a puddle of light from a streetlamp on the other side of the street were Louis, Teddy and Daniel. They were talking in low voices but it seemed like they were arguing. Teddy looked worried, Louis bored and Daniel panicky.

“What are they -”

Lucy paused as a fourth person joined the group, and Dom gasped, digging her nails into Lucy’s wrist.










Chapter 3: 3
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3



“Ugh, what is she doing here?” Dom hissed, as scathing as a cat with its tail stepped on.

“Probably here to pick up Teddy or something,” Lucy hissed back, watching as Rose ran a hand through her dark hair.

“In that outfit? It looks like she just crawled out of bed, which is possible because we all know she has no social life,” Dom said with a scowl.

“You are such a cow,” Lucy whispered, rolling her eyes. Dom poked her in the ribs and straightened up. “What are you doing?”

“Going to say hi; come on.”

Before Lucy could do a thing about it, Dom had stepped into the light, shook back her mane of hair and started walking towards the little group. Lucy bit her lip then raced to catch up, preying she didn’t fall over her feet or crash into a lamp post or anything. Running in the dark had its dangers.

“Nice night for it,” Dom called cheerfully and Lucy groaned. Subtlety was not Dom’s thing; she wasn’t sure what Dom’s thing was but it usually landed her in trouble, Lucy too, being unfortunate or stupid enough to get caught up in it. Rose raised an eyebrow and put her hands on her hips in that oh-so-challenging way she had. Louis was scowling, Teddy looking at the ground and Daniel looked guilty.

Lucy narrowed her eyes. It was all a little too weird.

“Go away,” Louis drawled when nobody spoke. “I can’t believe you’re my sister.”

“And I can’t believe you’re my brother. You are seriously demented, Louis. What sort of person lurks on street corners?”

“What sort of person stalks people lurking on street corners?” Louis shot back, annoyed.

“So you admit there was lurking?” Dom pressed. Lucy wrapped her hand around her cousin’s arm.

“Let’s just go,” she whispered.

“Great idea,” Daniel enthused, and before anyone could do or say anything, he had disapparated, the night split in half with the sound.

Louis started laughing. “Do you always have that effect on men, Luce?”

“Oh get lost,” Lucy sighed. “We’re not together.” She folded her arms, unable to help feeling a little put-out, especially since Daniel had spent the better part of the night staring at her, according to Dom anyway. Maybe she should have gone back to his house and watched that DV-whatever it was. There weren’t many men on the horizon, as both her mother and sister were prone to point out.

“I didn’t realise this was such a family affair,” said a new voice, and Lucy spun around, dragging Dom with her, as Scorpius Malfoy sauntered into view. Willow Zabini was clinging gracefully to his arm, her wide brown eyes so vacant Lucy would swear she was on something. Lucy could think of nothing to say and, for the first time ever it seemed, neither could Dominique. Scorpius stopped next to Teddy and the two men shared a glance. “Gatecrashers or participants?”

“Gatecrashers,” Rose said quickly, turning to Lucy and Dom. “I think it best if you two go home now.”

“You think it best? Please,” Dom snorted. “You can’t tell me what to do.”

“Dom...” Teddy warned. Lucy took a quick look around the little group, noting their faces and the expressions they wore and again, it struck her how odd it was that these five people, six including the vanished Daniel, would be spending any sort of social time together. She chewed her lip, sneaking a look at a glowering Dominique, and laid a hand on Teddy’s arm before she could second guess herself.

“Participants,” she said. “We want to be participants.” It was too weird not to volunteer herself for whatever it was that was going on. She was curious; perhaps some latent aspect of the journalist inside her had sprung to life, albeit a bit too late, because Rose was looking furious.

“Lucy, I don’t think you understand,” Teddy began seriously as Scorpius rolled his eyes and Rose shook her head, a dangerous expression dancing across her face. “Don’t you want to know what -”

“No, we’re in,” Dom interrupted, sharing a quick look with Lucy, who could tell her cousin was thinking the same thing she was – whatever was going on was mighty suspicious.

“Great,” Scorpius clapped his hands. “It’s a ten galleon buy in.”

“Ten galleons?” Lucy and Dom echoed, eyeing each other in disbelief.

“You didn’t think it was free did you?” Scorpius said evenly, paying undue attention to the state of his fingernails.

“Well, no,” Lucy said shakily. What was it, and why did it cost money?

There was a moment where no body said anything – all eyes were on Dom and Lucy, and Lucy felt her cheeks burn under the attention. At last, Dom sighed and began rummaging in her purse.

“This had better be worth it,” she muttered. “Like seriously worth it – I’m talking diamonds, gold, Gringotts, something big, Malfoy.”

Scorpius laughed. “Oh I promise, it’s worth it. Just wait and see what we -”

“Malfoy,” Teddy snapped, making Lucy jump. “Shut up. They aren’t getting involved.” He turned to Dom and Lucy, and his voice took on a more pleading quality. “Go home, both of you.”

Lucy narrowed her eyes, wondering why he was so obviously trying to protect them, or turn them off the scent. “Why?”

“None of your darn business,” Louis said petulantly, folding his arms.

“It’s not like we need the cash,” Teddy added in an aside to Scorpius.

“Whatever; you’re so boring,” the blonde sighed, slinging an arm around Willow, who gave everyone a look of complete disdain.

“I have other things I could be doing tonight,” she said pointedly to no one in particular, flicking a length of dark hair over her stylish shoulder in a well-practised manner. “Are we doing this or not?”

Dom looked up from the deep recesses of her purse. “I have two galleons on me, Malfoy. That’ll have to do.”

Scorpius took the money and pocketed it before anyone could do anything about it. He shrugged, seeing Rose’s look. “It’s not like I was born with a silver spoon between my teeth,” he said to collective incredulous looks. “Okay maybe I was, but as your financial backer I have control over the finances. I’ll take what I can get.” He paused, his pale eyes swinging from Teddy to Rose to Louis. “They’re in,” he announced.

Teddy groaned, grabbed Rose’s arm and disapparated.

“Hey!” Dom shouted indignantly.

“Don’t worry,” Scorpius said with a smile. “Louis, take your sister and I’ll take Lucy.”

Louis gave Dom the sort of look that would incinerate a weaker person, but she merely offered her brother her arm, nodded to Lucy and was gone in an instant. Scorpius let go of Willow, who yawned, kissed his cheek and disapparated.

Lucy stared at Scorpius. “What exactly is going on?” she asked quietly. “What will my ten galleons get me, beside trouble?”

“You think there’ll be trouble?”

“I don’t doubt it actually,” she replied swiftly, and then sighed. “But seeing as a large portion of my family is involved in said trouble, I guess I’d better...”

“Make sure they’re okay,” Scorpius finished, flashing a grin as he took a step closer. “Don’t worry, I’m not about to rip them off or anything.”

“You’d better not,” Lucy warned, letting him slip an arm around her middle. She was certain, absolutely certain, that he did not need to hold her so closely for a simple side-along apparition, but she suddenly found she couldn’t speak.

Daniel was okay to look at, Teddy was cute but Scorpius Malfoy was, and there was no other word for it, hot. He had a girlfriend, or whatever Willow Zabini was, but that didn’t stop Lucy enjoying the ride, and when he let her go moments later, she couldn’t help the small pang of regret or the tiny sigh that escaped her lips. He raised an eyebrow, gave her a knowing look and sauntered away from her, leaving her with burning cheeks and a singeing desire to go home.

Swallowing, Lucy stood up straight, shook Scorpius from her head and took a look around.

Before she had a moment to register anything, Rose was standing directly in front of her, eyes blazing. Lucy resisted the urge to step away from the undeniable anger in her cousin’s face. She didn’t think Rose would hex her or anything but she wasn’t too sure how much control Rose had over her fists in that moment.

“If you screw this up, I will personally kill you, understand?”

Lucy could only nod, watching as Rose scowled and stalked away to stand at Teddy’s side, where she began whispering in a furious undertone. Lucy blinked, looking away from Rose and the strangely pained look that was painted on Teddy’s face to survey the room properly.

The first thing she noticed was the lack of windows, and those that did exist had been covered in heavy black cloth or boarded up. Next, it was the height of the ceiling – she craned her neck, tilting her head back to look up at the tiny skylight in the roof. The room or building or whatever was huge – Lucy’s footsteps echoed as she moved, turning in a complete circle. It was dark: small lamps and magical balls of light hovered around the walls and what she saw were rows of long tables. Lucy moved closer, wanting to get a better look.

All three tables looked like they had been fenced straight out of the potions classroom at Hogwarts. On each were rows of cauldrons and potions bottles, tools and jars of ingredients Lucy knew you could not just go and buy at the corner shop.

She lifted the lid of one cauldron and took a breath, only to pinch her nose and back hastily away.

“Careful,” said a voice near her ear and she turned to see Daniel watching her, his expression unreadable.

“What is this place? And what is that stuff?” she asked, pointing at the cauldron and its offending smell. “And what are you doing here?”

“What did they tell you?”

“Nothing,” she said as Dom joined her, eyes wide and suspicions fully roused.

“What we have here, ladies and gentlemen,” said Scorpius, appearing from nowhere and looking ridiculously smug, “is my latest business venture.” He tucked his hands into his pockets and rocked back and forth on his heels, his smile growing. He seemed too pleased with himself, when no one else was.

“Business venture?” Dom echoed mockingly. “You’re running a potions lab, Malfoy, and an illegal one at that,” she paused, seeing Scorpius’ surprised look. “I work for your aunt, remember? I know what all these ingredients are and where they have probably come from. Are you well known on the black market or do you just associate with people in low places?”

Scorpius recovered himself, waving a hand in front of his face indifferently. “Whatever; anyway, it’s about time the potions market opened up a little, don’t you think? Dom, with your help I’m sure we can really shake things up, make changes that are long overdue.”

Dom blinked, folding her arms. “I didn’t know you were so interested in modernising the potions business, Malfoy.”

“If there’s money in it, Scorpius is very interested,” Teddy spoke for the first time since Lucy had arrived. He was standing a little to the side of everything, watching them all with his dark brooding expression.

“I’m hurt,” Scorpius said, his hand over his heart.

“I think I want my money back,” Dom mumbled. Lucy bit her lip. What Scorpius and her cousins were doing was highly illegal – if the Ministry found out they would all be in loads of trouble, although Malfoy would probably find some way to get off, and Rose would simply bully her parents into hiring the best possible lawyer. Lucy sighed: it would probably be better to forget what was going on and go back to her boring life and her horrible job.

It would be the sensible thing to do, she knew that, so when the next words left her mouth she almost gasped at herself. “How can I help?”

Scorpius smiled and slung an arm around her shoulder. “Weasley, just stand there and look good. No, seriously, how are you at potions?”

“Not brilliant,” Lucy admitted, face burning.

“Shopping then?”

“Erm...”

“It would be a little strange for me to keep showing up in potions suppliers all over the country, wouldn’t it? And Rose here has some hostile take-over of the paper planned so she can hardly do it. Louis is too busy looking pretty -”

“Bite me,” Louis scowled.

“I mean, too busy with...what do you do again? Willow and Arabella have other things to do and Teddy, well Teddy can’t show his face in as many places as you surely can,” Scorpius finished.

“Why?” Lucy asked. “Teddy, I mean,” she added, glancing across the room at Teddy, whose hair suddenly turned a rather violent shade of green.

“Oh,” Scorpius laughed, ignoring the warning glares of his cousin. “Such large quantities of Wolfsbane draw attention. I’ve already left the continent to get some more.”

“Wolfsbane?” Dom said sharply, her eyes moving to Teddy. There was a deep silence and something, some understanding, slowly passed between the two. “Did Vic know?”

Teddy nodded. Lucy pushed Scorpius away, taking a step towards Teddy, whose hair faded as she watched, the colour leeching out until it was black.

“Know what?” she asked quietly. Rose would not look at her; her cousin couldn’t even manage a glare.

“He’s a werewolf,” Dom whispered.

Scorpius laughed. “No one’s a werewolf; not yet, anyway,” he added.

“We’re hoping to stop that from ever happening,” Rose said quietly. “That’s what we’re doing here.”

“Partly,” Willow mumbled, and Lucy jumped, having forgotten about the tall, olive skinned girl lingering in the shadows. She had her wand out and a thrill of fear danced along Lucy’s spine. Willow looked at her with interest, her head titled to one side, hair falling majestically over one slim shoulder. “Are you in?”

Slowly, Lucy nodded and with a smile, Willow put the wand away.


Chapter 4: 4
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4



Dom slammed her cake fork down. The sugar bowl, salt and pepper and plates containing chocolate cake jumped to attention like rookie soldiers before their sergeant. Lucy managed to rescue her coffee, scooping the cup off the saucer and holding it in the air. They were in their usual cafe, as much a part of the furniture as anything these days. Lucy figured she should probably take a break on the coffee, but since the warehouse, she was certain she had mainlined the stuff.

“How could I not know? How?” Dom growled. “I mean, the man was practically married to my sister. He was practically living in my house for most of my teenage years, sneaking into Vic’s room when dad thought he was sleeping in the spare bed.”

“He’s not a werewolf,” Lucy said timidly, and Dom gave her an exasperated look.

“I know that,” she said softly. “I always wondered though, if it would happen, you know, because of his father. Everyone knows werewolves shouldn’t have kids. Teddy is rather unique – I think he might be one of the only half-werewolves in existence.”

“He’s not a werewolf, Dom,” Lucy repeated. She was beginning to feel rather annoyed. It had been two days since the discovery in the warehouse and two days since Lucy had rather uncharacteristically agreed to ‘help’ in illegal potions making. She still had no idea what that meant – no idea what they were actually cooking up, although Dom was certain, considering the quantities of boomslang and flobberworm mucus, that it was more than just an emergency supply of Wolfsbane Potion for Teddy, who may or may not be an almost-werewolf.

“And anyway,” she continued, adding her third teaspoon of sugar to her coffee. “Even if he was it doesn’t change him. He’s still human – just a little different on the full moon.”

Dom sighed. “I know. I should probably call my sister.”

“Do you think that’s why...”

“No, I don’t think so. I mean it would make Vic a big fat hypocrite, considering dad’s rather obvious bestial tendencies. For someone who is not a werewolf he growls way too much,” Dom replied. “What are you doing tomorrow? Please say you’ll come shopping with me – I really need new shoes and I have no one else to go with.”

“I have to pick up some supplies for Scorpius,” Lucy said, wondering how her cousin could think about new shoes at a time like this.

Dom sipped her coffee. “Where?”

Lucy dug in her bag, pulling out the list Scorpius had Owled her that morning. At the top, above the rather long inventory of potions ingredients, was a name. “Some place called Doughal’s. I’ve never heard of it.”

“I have,” Dom said with a frown. “It’s in Knockturn Alley. Right,” she said dramatically, putting her cup down and pushing the hair from her forehead. “I’m coming with you.”

“You don’t have to,” Lucy began, but Dom shook her head.

“Doughal is a sleaze, plus, he’ll try and rip you off. It’ll be better if you have someone who knows what they are looking for.”

“Why are you helping me?” Lucy said after a while. “I thought you didn’t want to be involved.”

“I don’t,” Dom said sternly, her tone reminding Lucy of the rather enthusiastic display she had put on two nights ago, ranting and raving for what seemed like hours about how stupid they all were and that she was not having a bar of it. “But, someone has to make sure that git Malfoy doesn’t take advantage of you.”

“Scorpius is okay,” Lucy mumbled. Dom frowned again.

“If you like rodents; personally, I’ve always thought he looked like a rat,” she answered simply, and then paused to study Lucy critically. “Why are you getting involved with all this?”

“Because,” Lucy said loudly, making Dom’s eyes widen and the couple at the next table look over curiously. “My life is so rubbish I can’t stand it.”

“Your life isn’t rubbish,” Dom said kindly, reaching for her cake. Lucy watched as she shovelled a mouthful and brushed the crumbs from her fingers.

She snorted. “Name one thing in my life that isn’t rubbish.”

“Well, you’ve got me,” Dom answered with a grin. When it failed to get a smile, she sighed. “Look, I know sometimes things seem rubbish but they’re really not. You work for Rose, Luce – and you survive. I have a shrine dedicated to you in my flat.”

“You do not.”

“Well not actually but I’ve been planning to make one for ages. Listen,” Dom said, leaning forward and lowering her voice. “Getting messed up with something illegal is not the way to get some excitement in your life. Take it from one who knows – having your prints taken and your photo on file is not all that glamorous. Besides, Grandma Weasley will have a big enough heart attack when stupid Rose, Louis and Teddy get arrested and sent to Azkaban.”

“Remind me again why you threw a brick through that guy’s window and cursed his car?” Lucy said, a smile beginning to stretch across her face.

“I hardly cursed his car,” Dom said with a roll of her eyes. “Like I told the Hitwizard who unfairly arrested me – the car grew tentacles and tried to kill its owner by chance. It was pure coincidence that the guy in question had been seeing not one but two other girls at the same time as me.”

Lucy laughed, enjoying the feeling of the muscles in her face tightening and then relaxing. It felt like an age since she had last had a good laugh, and Dom’s antics, both past and present, always brought a smile to her face.

They said their goodbyes not long after, both returning to their jobs. Lucy thought that now that she was in on the big act Rose would be nicer to her. She was sadly mistaken. Rose was just as frosty as ever, if not more, and Lucy was forcibly reminded of the fact that Rose did not want her involved. Lucy wasn’t sure how she spent the remainder of the day – she never was, in fact, sure of what she was supposed to be doing while all the other journalists were rushing about and waving pieces of paper in the air. She watched absently as Herbert raced down the corridor, a trail of memo’s floating behind him.

All Lucy had to go on was the Hogsmeade weekend and the interview with the Head Boy and Girl. With her shopping for Scorpius and Dom’s shoes, she figured she could still make the interview tomorrow. She was due to meet the Heads at ten and the interview would probably take twenty minutes at the most. She just hoped they had something interesting to say or Rose would probably fire her.






“It’s just so amazing to be Head Girl. I never imagined I would be chosen. I always figured it would be someone else – someone more popular.”

Lucy sat and tried to appear interested as Ruby Searle, the Hogwarts Head Girl, gushed continually about how awesome a job it was. Personally, Lucy could not see the attraction. Rose had been Head Girl, and Victoire before her, while James had enjoyed Head Boy status. Even Hugo had gotten a look-in, being a Prefect for several years in a row, and Molly had been a Prefect as well.

It was a blatant reminder of just how pathetic Lucy really was. She had not even managed Prefect – and she had been a Hufflepuff at that, something certain members of the extended family continued to remind her of.

“Uh huh,” Lucy said, nibbling on the end of her quill and trying to avoid glancing at the giant clock on the wall. It was already ten thirty; she was due to meet Dom back in Diagon Alley at eleven. Her cousin had been called in to work. Lucy had received a rather pissed off Owl at seven that morning. “So, Ruby, what are your plans once you leave school?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Ruby said in her high-pitched voice. “I think I would like to work for the Ministry.”

Of course you would, Lucy thought. Everyone wants to work for the blasted Ministry.

The Head Boy, a Ravenclaw named Brian Jordan, was too busy making eyes at a girl across the Three Broomsticks to pay much attention to the interview. Lucy didn’t really care – she figured there was nothing she could do to make her article interesting in the slightest. She would get a small section at the back of the paper – nothing new really.

At ten to eleven, Lucy stepped out of the Three Broomsticks and apparated to the Leaky Cauldron. She ducked through the crowd quickly, passing through the portal and into Diagon Alley. Dom was waiting for her outside Gringotts, looking thoroughly annoyed.

“Sorry,” Lucy panted. She asked Dom to wait while she ducked into Gringotts to collect the gold Scorpius had told her would be waiting. He had apparently arranged it with the goblins – all she had to do was prove her identity and the gold would be handed over. Inside, Lucy tried not to be nervous – the Gringotts goblins had always frightened her just a little. When the bag containing Scorpius’ gold was passed over she could not help her eyes from widening. She had never held so much money in her life, not being overly skilled in savings. Lucy’s vault had a little over a handful of galleons and some sickles.

Money in hand, Lucy hurried back outside to find Dom tapping her foot impatiently. “I’ve got half an hour,” she informed Lucy as they made their way across the street towards the entrance to Knockturn Alley. Lucy swallowed nervously, clutching the money bag tightly to her chest and followed Dom through the mouth of the alley. No one paid them any heed, and part way along the dusty street Dom turned to Lucy.

“Show me that list,” she demanded and Lucy passed it over without question. “Acromantula venom, Ashwinder eggs, dragon blood, fluxweed, Jobberknoll feathers, wormwood, valerian, Re’em blood, Runespoor eggs...” Dom muttered, eyes swinging over the list.

“What are they making?” Lucy asked in a whisper, almost afraid of the answer.

“I would guess Polyjuice, from what I saw in the warehouse, possibly Memory Potions, Truth Serums and Draught of the Living Dead, among other things. They’re experimenting, Luce, that much was certain. I’m not sure what with but there were ingredients lying around on those tables that are not usually combined. They’ll be lucky if they don’t blow the roof off that building, although, I hate to admit it, Rose knows what she is doing.”

Lucy blinked, unsure of what to say or think. Potions were not her forte – she had only just scraped an Acceptable in her OWL’s and didn’t take Potions at NEWT level, the potions master telling her in no uncertain terms that she would be better off choosing another class. Dom said no more and Lucy chewed her lip the rest of the way to Doughal’s.

Doughal had a small shop tucked away in the deepest darkest corner of Knockturn Alley. “Naturally,” Dom mumbled as she pushed the door open, trying in vain to avoid the large spread of dust and grime that covered the glass. “I know this is a dodgy place but seriously, has he not heard of cleaning charms?”

Lucy followed her in timidly, suddenly very glad of her cousin’s presence. Dom was tough where she was not, strong where Lucy was weak and she knew that without her, she would never have had the courage to take one step into Knockturn Alley, let alone go visit a reputed black market potions supplier.

Inside it was dark and dank. A foul stench floated on the air and made Lucy want to gag; from the potions, she imagined, or hoped. She stepped around a large display case filled with jars and bags of she didn’t know what and made her way to the service counter, where Dom was impatiently drumming her fingernails against the glass.

A rather fat wizard with greying hair appeared from the back of the shop, wiping his hands on a grimy rag.

“Ladies,” he said, performing a mock little bow. “How can I help you on this fine day?”

Dom wrinkled her nose. “Are you Doughal?”

“I am, sweetheart,” he said silkily, reaching across to shake Dom’s hand. Lucy heard her cousin make a small gagging noise in the back of her throat, but like the true professional she was, Dom accepted the large sweaty hand offered to her and shook it firmly. She spread the list out on the counter, giving Doughal a challenging look.

“We need this, in the quantities mentioned, and for a reasonable price,” she said, her tone all business-like.

Doughal mopped at his brow with the rag. “Well, I don’t know if I can -”

Dom sighed and leant back. “Our business partner will not be happy, I can assure you.”

“And which business partner is that, darling?” Doughal asked, his voice oozing about as much charm as his shop.

“Scorpius Malfoy,” Lucy piped up, finding her voice at last. She reached into her bag and pulled out the large bag of gold Scorpius had left at Gringotts for her. The bag jingled when she placed it on the counter, and the sound must have been music to Doughal’s ears, because the big man suddenly smiled and stood up straight, his hand reaching automatically for the bag.

Dom slid it out of the way of his tubby fingers. “Merchandise first, Doughal my dear. And don’t think you can trick us – I happen to know exactly what I’m buying and I will check everything closely before I hand over any money.”

He gave them both a mistrustful look before stalking away out the back. Lucy heard him a moment later mumbling to himself. Dom didn’t say another word until he returned fifteen minutes later, at least a dozen glass jars and bottles with rubber stoppers floating along behind him. Lucy and Doughal both waited while Dom meticulously checked the ingredients, opening bottles and sniffing the contents and holding jars up to the meagre light that filtered through a slice in the dust that coated the window.

At last, she nodded, withdrawing the small bag she had stashed in her pocket. Lucy watched as she cast an anti-breaking charm on the ingredients and then tossed all the bottles and jars into the bag, which Lucy quickly realised had an Extension Charm on it. Dom slipped the bag back into her pocket and turned to Doughal.

The big man was watching her with a mixture of suspicion and eagerness. “My payment?” he asked, and Dom rolled her eyes, sliding the bag full of Malfoy gold across the glass counter. Doughal snatched it up and stashed it beneath the counter before Dom had a chance to change her mind.

“Pleasure doing business with you,” Dom said, meaning none of it.

Doughal smiled. “If you ever get sick of working for Daphne, you will always have a job here, darling,” he told Dom, who scowled, grabbed Lucy and strode from the shop.

“Damn,” she said once they were outside. “He knows who I am; probably guessed who you are, or belong to at least. Stupid Scorpius,” she added in an aside, before sighing. She slipped her hand into her pocket and withdrew the little bag, passing it to Lucy. “Give this to his Lordship.”

“Thank you,” Lucy said quietly as they made their way back along Knockturn Alley and out into Diagon Alley. Dom only nodded, saying she had to get back to work. Lucy offered to walk with her, knowing Dom hated working on a Saturday and hated last minute call-in’s even more.

“Hey,” called a voice and Lucy jumped, startled to find Scorpius waiting for them, the blonde of his hair glowing in the bright sunlight. He was leaning casually against the wall out the front of Florean Fortescue’s and he smiled broadly when he saw them.

“Get lost,” Dom snarled at him, stalking away back towards the apothecary. “The shoes can wait,” she shouted to Lucy. “You owe me.”

“Say hi to my aunt for me,” Scorpius called after her, grinning like the Cheshire Cat. He turned to Lucy, his face eager. “Did you get it all?”

“Yes,” she said quietly, looking down the street at Dom, who was still striding away in a right foul mood. “You should thank her, you know. If it wasn’t for Dom, you’d have nothing.”

Scorpius only nodded. “Doughal can be uncooperative at the best of times. I knew Dominique would be able to handle him.”

“So why didn’t you ask her to do this job for you, instead of me?” Lucy asked. He shrugged.

“I knew she’d help you out; plus, I get the impression she doesn’t like me much.” He paused. “Come on. I want to see what you’ve got.”

Lucy let him take hold of her waist and apparate them away.


Chapter 5: 5
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5



At the warehouse, Scorpius opened jars and removed stoppers from vials, sniffing and shaking and swirling the contents, much as Dom had done in Doughal’s shop. Lucy watched him from under her lashes and remembered hearing once that Scorpius Malfoy, while a complete prat and useless at most things, was a genius when it came to potions. She wondered absently who told her that – possibly Rose, in one of her fits of jealousy. Rose was rather prone to those, Lucy realised, thinking that her cousin only possessed three human responses to life – anger, jealousy and undisguised snobbery.

“Well,” Scorpius said brightly, putting the rubber stopper back into a vial marked Ashwinder eggs. “Thanks for that. Dougal and I don’t really see eye to eye. My Aunt is his, um, legal competition and he refuses to serve me.”

Lucy nodded, indicating the vial of Ashwinder eggs and all the other ingredients Dom had coaxed out of Dougal. “What are all these for then?” she asked, taking a step closer to the bench and picking up a jar of Jobberknoll feathers.

Scorpius gave her a mysterious look before sighing and spreading his hands in a gesture of compliance. “I’m experimenting.”

“You?”

“Yes, me. Potions are what I’m good at, among other things,” he added with a sly grin.

“Like what?” Lucy demanded, surprising herself. She was not usually a demanding person – maybe Dom had rubbed off on her. Maybe it was Scorpius and his swarmy ‘I’m-not-telling face’ that made her speak up. She didn’t know, and didn’t take the time to speculate on it for long, folding her arms and giving Malfoy the most challenging look she could muster.

He laughed. “Been taking lessons off Rose have you?”

Lucy faltered in her glare. “What do you mean?”

“Rose...has a certain way of getting things out of people. Plus, she wears that look better than you I’m afraid – no offence.”

Silence hung in the air while Lucy chewed her lip and Scorpius hummed under his breath, flicking his wand and organising the potions ingredients. Lucy watched as they floated around the benches, settling themselves into piles.

“It’s alright,” she said eventually; Scorpius gave her a confused glance over his shoulder. “The Rose thing – I wasn’t offended.”

He nodded and turned back to the bench, surveying the line of cauldrons. “I really wish people would clean up after themselves. This place is such a mess!”

Lucy hesitated. “I could help, if you want.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Don’t you have something better you could be doing on your day off?”

She shrugged. “Not really; I mean, I don’t have any hobbies to speak of and Dom is at work so...” She stopped, appalled she was revealing the mundane details of her life to Scorpius Malfoy, of all people, who had probably already decided she was boring and not worth much of his time, unless he needed favours from naive women. Lucy sighed and made to turn away, mumbling that she should just go.

“I’d love the help,” Scorpius said quickly, watching her and Lucy wondered if he could see any of the bitter self-rejection she felt on her face. “If you want to take that bench over there,” he added, indicating with a swish of his hand a long table adjacent to the one he was standing near, “I’ll take this one.”

He gave her a sunny smile and her stomach flopped. She really couldn’t see what Dom was talking about at all – he looked nothing like a rodent. He was, she had to admit, gorgeous. Lucy licked her lips, dry-mouthed and turned away, wondering what on earth was wrong with her. Scorpius Malfoy was, firstly, completely out of her league and secondly, most definitely not interested in her. He went for girls like Willow, ridiculously beautiful with legs up to their armpits and a pocket full of gold. She pulled a hand self-consciously through her hair, took out her wand and set to work, wanting desperately to leave, but since she had made the offer, she was stuck now.

Scorpius seemed oblivious to her humiliation. He hummed and muttered to himself as he flicked his wand and executed exceptional cleaning charms. Lucy doubled her efforts to do as good a job as he was and before long, the potions benches were clean, the cauldrons sparkling and the jars and vials of ingredients free of dust.

“That’s better,” Scorpius said jubilantly, sliding his wand back into his pocket.

“I didn’t realise you were such a...clean freak,” Lucy said, grinning at the blissful expression on his face.

“Comes from growing up in a very clean and very organised home,” he explained with a shrug. “Plus, mother is a little OCD about these sorts of things. I guess it rubbed off.”

“I don’t like mess either,” Lucy said, leaning back against the bench and surveying the warehouse. It was a large building and Scorpius’ operations only took up one end of it. “Do you own this place?” she asked.

“No; Daniel rents it – well, I pay for it, but he rents it from a...what are they called? Real estate agent?”

Lucy blinked. “This is a Muggle building?”

“Seemed easier,” Scorpius replied. “Cheaper too; do you know how much a wizard would charge for this? Too much,” he went on, shaking his head in what Lucy thought was mock concern. “Especially for me. Just because I am Malfoy doesn’t automatically mean I have cash to burn.”

Lucy cleared her throat. “So, those other things you mentioned?”

Scorpius gave her a long look. “I bet you’re a good journalist,” he remarked.

“What? No, I’m actually pretty rubbish at it to be honest.”

He laughed. “I find that hard to believe. I bet you’ve had heaps of front pages stories.”

Lucy narrowed her eyes. “Now you’re making fun of me,” she said, “and stop changing the subject. I want to know what you’re cooking up in here.”

“Fine,” he said neutrally, his shoulders lifting in a light shrug. “I guess you’ll find out anyway – Dom is bound to work it out. I hear she is rather good at what she does. Makes me kind of jealous actually. Did you know I wanted that apprenticeship, but father decided that working in potions was beneath me?”

“Scorpius,” Lucy warned, “you’re doing it again!”

He held up his hands, grinning shamelessly. “Habit, I assure you. We Malfoy’s are known for our slippery words, weren’t you aware of that?”

“Yes, and if you want an honest answer about anything, a Malfoy is not the one to ask,” a new voice chimed in. Lucy groaned, reaching up to rub at her temples. Rose and Teddy appeared in her peripheral vision, the latter looking rather pale, like he’d had too little sleep or too many late nights. Rose was wearing her superior expression, the one that Lucy hated to see as it always heralded trouble of some sort, usually a lecture.

“What are you doing here anyway?” Rose demanded, giving Lucy a suspicious glare.

“I was just...”

“Helping me clean up, seeing as though none of you lot ever do it,” Scorpius cut in. Lucy flashed him a grateful smile, hidden quickly from Rose, who was still watching them both with distrustful eyes.

“Did you get everything?” she asked Scorpius, turning away and ignoring Lucy.

“Thanks to your cousin, yes, I did. You should say thank you.”

Lucy saw Rose’s back stiffen and she knew just how much it cost her proud, stubborn cousin to turn and mutter a ‘thank you’ through clenched teeth. It was a small victory; one that Lucy couldn’t help enjoying but as she glanced at Teddy her smile fell. “Are you okay?” she asked him in a whisper, moving closer to his side. Up close, there were bags under his eyes and his mouth was turned down, his lips colourless.

He nodded and ran a long fingered hand through his hair, which promptly turned a sickly shade of green. “Bad sleep.”

“You know, Dom makes a great sleeping draught,” Lucy found herself saying.

“Teddy doesn’t need any of that,” Rose jumped in rather quickly, abandoning Scorpius and turning back to Teddy. “He’s fine, aren’t you, Ted?”

“Yeah, fine,” Teddy mumbled.

Scorpius cleared his throat just as Lucy was starting to feel really uncomfortable. “Listen, Lucy, thanks for all your help this morning but we have work to get on with and, well...anyway,” he added with another of his quick smiles. “Why don’t you join us later tonight, you and Dom, at the Hogs Head.”

Rose glared but Scorpius ignored her, all his attention focused on Lucy, who felt her cheeks colouring. “Um, yeah, okay. I’ll see what Dom is doing.”

Without another word, Scorpius, Rose and Teddy turned and moved away towards the sparkling clean benches and vials of potions ingredients, and Lucy snuck out the door, wishing fervently that Rose would get something terrible on her skin, boils perhaps.






Dom glared. “The last thing I want to do tonight is sit there making conversation with Rose!”

“Teddy will be there,” Lucy reminded her cousin, who narrowed her eyes. “Please, Dom. Just for a little while.”

“You don’t need me there to hold your hand,” Dom said neutrally and then sighed. “Fine. Give me a minute to find something to wear. You know, you could make more of an effort, Luce.”

Lucy looked down at herself. “What’s wrong?”

“Baggy old jeans and a blouse are perfectly okay for sitting around at home but we’re going out,” Dom said with a shake of her head. “What if you meet someone?”

“We’re going to the Hogs Head,” Lucy answered. “Who could I possible meet in the Hogs Head? Your fascination with my love life is kind of scary, Dom.”

“I am merely concerned about your lack of love life, dear,” Dom replied with a smile. “Now, wear this, and these,” she added, tossing an armful of clothing at Lucy, who stared at them in disbelief. She held up the scrap of material that passed for a shirt and shook her head.

“No way. My father would kill me if he ever saw me in this.”

“Your father is not likely to be in the Hogs Head tonight, is he?”

Lucy sighed, giving up the fight before she had started. There was absolutely no point arguing with Dom when it came to clothes, men, drinking or social occasions. After changing her outfit and letting Dom mess with her hair, Lucy found herself standing outside the Hogs Head self-consciously tugging at her shirt.

“Stop that!” Dom hissed, batting her hands away. “You’ll stretch it.”

“I hate you so much,” Lucy hissed in return, glaring at the bit of midriff that was showing above her (Dom’s) very tight jeans. “So very much.”

Dom laughed, kissed her cousin’s cheek and sauntered through the doors like she owned the place, hips swinging in that seductive walk that Lucy had never been able to master, even after practising for hours in front of Dom’s full length mirror. Ducking her head to hide her face and possibly her shame, Lucy snuck inside, hoping no one would notice her. She followed Dom to the bar, lifting her eyes and surveying the room. She spotted Scorpius instantly, his blonde hair glowing in the murk and gloom of the pub. Rose and Teddy sat across from him making eyes at each other and squished into the corner of the booth was Louis and whatever-her-name was, also making eyes at one another.

Lucy squared her shoulders. If anything, Scorpius needed saving. “Come on,” she said, picking up her drink and moving across the pub, Dom waltzing along behind her.

Scorpius gave them both grateful smiles, patting the space next to him so Lucy could sit. Dom squeezed in beside Teddy, all but pushing Rose into the corner so she could sit down.

It was an awkward moment. No one spoke for several minutes. Dom and Louis exchanged a nasty look, Teddy stared at the table, Rose glowered into her water and Arabella, draped over Louis’ lap, pouted prettily and whispered something in her boyfriend’s ear. Lucy nearly jumped out of her skin when Scorpius draped an arm around her shoulder.

“Well,” he declared, lifting his glass in a toast. “Here’s to new friends and obscene profits.”

“Yes,” Dom agreed, clinking her very purple drink to Scorpius’. “Profits are good. I hope all your supplies were satisfactory?”

Scorpius nodded. “Indeed. Thanks again for dealing with Doughal.”

“Anytime,” Dom said smoothly, leaning across the table towards Scorpius. Lucy narrowed her eyes, not sure what her cousin was up to. Rose was also watching Dom carefully, her expression critical. “I’d be more than happy to help out, that is, when you tell me exactly what it is you are brewing in that warehouse of yours, Malfoy.”

Scorpius laughed silkily, his hand on Lucy’s shoulder tightening. “I’m merely trying to expand the market, that’s all. Aunty Daphne has nothing to worry about. How is the apprenticeship working out anyway?”

“It’s going well,” Dom replied. “Keep your secrets then, Malfoy,” she said after a pause. “I’ll work it out in time.”

“Just cut her in and be done with it,” Louis drawled, surprising everyone. Scorpius raised an eyebrow. “If there is one thing that my sister does well, it’s annoys people until they spill their guts, so you may as well tell her everything. If you don’t, she’ll stalk you, harass you and go through your rubbish until you do.”

“I take offence to the rubbish part, brother dearest,” Dom said with a smile. “But he is right, Malfoy.”

Scorpius sighed, his eyes moving to Rose and Teddy. The latter nodded while Rose shook her head. “Out voted, Weasley. Alright,” he switched his attention back to Dom. “One of the main things we’re working on is enhancing the Wolfsbane potion.”

“Why?” Dom asked, sipping at her drink. “It works fine as it is. There have been no complaints.”

“We’re not trying to fix it; just modify it somewhat,” Scorpius said. Dom frowned. “See, there are those, like Teddy, with a werewolf parent who, well, wish to be more in touch with their, ah, animalistic side.”

Lucy looked quickly at Teddy. “I thought you were unique.”

He shook his head. “It appears I’m not. My father was not the only one of his kind to breed with a human. I started hearing rumours a while back and then I started investigating those rumours and found that I was not the only one.”

“Yes but you aren’t like the others,” Rose put in, laying her hand on Teddy’s arm. “You don’t want to be an actual werewolf.”

“But other’s do,” Dom surmised. When Teddy nodded, she whistled, sitting back in her chair and closing her eyes a moment. “You’re playing such a dangerous game; you all know that, don’t you?”

“We’re aware of the risks,” Scorpius said firmly.

“Are you aware that if someone dies as a result of your modifications you’ll be charged with manslaughter?” Dom snapped, shaking her head. She looked at her brother. “Dad will kill you.”

“He’ll kill you too, once I tell him you’re involved,” Louis replied smugly.

Lucy was looking at Teddy. “And you’re the test subject? How long has this been going on? Did Victoire know? Is that why she -”

“No and no,” Teddy said quietly. “At least, I don’t think so.”

“Cheer up,” Scorpius said brightly. “The next round is on me. Don’t look so worried,” he added in a whisper to Lucy, his mouth close to her ear. “No one is going to get hurt.”

She could only nod and try not to think about how warm his breath was on her skin.


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