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Hopeless Romantics by Magishan

Format: Novel
Chapters: 7
Word Count: 28,853
Status: WIP

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

Genres: Drama, Humor, Romance
Characters: Albus, Hugo, James (II), Lily (II), Rose, Scorpius, Teddy, Victoire, OC
Pairings: Teddy/Victoire, Other Pairing

First Published: 03/04/2019
Last Chapter: 08/16/2019
Last Updated: 08/17/2019

Summary:

Ever since Teddy Lupin left her for her cousin Victoire, Rose Weasley's days have comprised mainly of drinking copious amounts of firewhiskey, eating chocolate frogs by the tonne, and watching old movies with unhappy endings. When Teddy and Victoire crash Albus's engagement party to announce their own nuptials, however, Rose takes action. 

 

No, she doesn't return to work.

 

And she doesn't focus all her efforts on losing weight.

 

Nor does she find a buff new boyfriend, like Scorpius Malfoy, who's returned from cursebreaking across the globe with actual muscle definition.

 

She finds a fake, muggle boyfriend to make Teddy jealous... as you do.

 



Chapter 1: other people's happiness
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Rose Weasley hated romantic films. Perhaps she was just a cynic, or maybe shed had her heart broken one too many times, but she just found them so cliched and predictable. Female protagonists were always beautiful but never knew it, possessive and persistent traits in men were usually glamorised and, all too often, the main couple loathed one another before bonding slowly and falling madly in love. What she detested most of all about romantic films, though, was the fact that they threw around silly words like fate and destiny, as if there was only one specific person out there for everyone.

 

Rose had spent years thinking that person was Teddy Lupin, but that was before he left her for her cousin Victoire. He’d dated Vic long before Rose was in the picture and decided he didnt see a future with her. Now, though, they were soulmates who simply belonged together. Which somehow excused them from the crappy thing they’d done. Teddy kept the flat that he and Rose had shared for six years and the car she’d bought him for his thirtieth birthday, and he and Victoire were currently enjoying the round-the-world trip that he and Rose had planned together.

 

Rose, on the other hand, was quickly forgotten about nobody really empathised with the jilted ex, whose days consisted mainly of drinking copious amounts of firewhiskey, eating chocolate frogs by the tonne, and watching old movies with unhappy endings. Her boss and uncle, Harry, had long since stopped asking if she felt up to coming back to the ministry and even her mother had given up trying to get her out of bed. There was one person more persistent than Hermione Granger, however, and that was Roses cousin Lily, who had just forced herself into Roses childhood bedroom.

 

Get up, she snapped, in a sharp tone scarily reminiscent of their grandmother Mollys, 'get up, now, or so help me god, I will imperius curse your arse up.

 

Ive already told you. Im ill. Rose replied weakly, pulling the covers over her head. Her younger brother Hugo snorted from somewhere near the doorway. Rose launched a pillow across the room with surprising speed and force. The deep groan that followed suggested that she had aimed perfectly.

 

 Bollocks. Lily snapped, flinging back her cousins duvet to reveal a mattress littered with crumbs and chocolate smears, Rose, I mean it. Get up.

 

Rose tried to grapple for the duvet that her cousin was still holding, but Lily dragged it away with ease. Lily may have had the petite frame and pretty, porcelain doe-eyed features of her Evans predecessors, but she had the sort of strength that was gained by having older brothers and countless male cousins. Rose felt oddly exposed without her covers, even if she was wearing quite conservative (although very faded and stained) PJs. She pulled her knees to her chin like a sad child.

 

Please, Lily you know why I cant come, not after what happened the last times.

 

A large family like Roses, with so many various cousins and uncles and aunts, always seemed to be celebrating something. In recent months thered been births and birthdays, wedding anniversaries, graduation celebrations, a party in aid of her mother’s fourth term as minister for magic, a welcome-home-from-Hogwarts-for-the-summer bash... Rose’s relatives made an occasion out of anything, which meant that shed had numerous chances to go too heavy on the booze and make a complete arse out of herself. At her Grandpa Granger’s birthday party, for instance, shed hogged the karaoke and made tearful renditions of I Will Always Love You, My Heart Will Go On and Justin Bieber’s Baby for three straight hours, before her mother finally decided it was time to take her home. At her parents wedding anniversary celebration, shed been tasked with delivering a toast, and spent the entire time musing about whether shed ever have sex again instead. She’d even somehow gotten drunk at her cousin Molly’s very sober, mid-morning baby shower not that there was any somehow about it, considering that shed smuggled a miniature bottle of firewhiskey in her underwear and she’d proceeded to strip almost entirely naked and lie across a bassinette, pretending to be a baby.

 

This isnt about you, Lily said sharply, its about the happiness of my brother and your best bloody friend who he happens to be marrying in less than two weeks.

 

Best bloody friend? Hugo piped up. Did Monique have an accident or something?

 

Why dont you make yourself useful and come and help me get her up? Lily asked sourly.

 

What do you mean, get me up? Rose repeated. Hugo did as he was told, sauntering into the room with a stupid grin. He was already in his best shirt and tie picked out, paid-for, washed and ironed by their mother.

 

Ill get her arms and you get her legs. Lily instructed him.

 

Youre not seriously? Rose groaned.

 

“…Three…” Lily grabbed her wrists, “…two…” Hugo took her ankles, “…one…”

 

Fine! Rose snapped, wrestling free and getting to her feet, Im up. See?

 

And youll come with us to Als engagement party? Lily replied sternly.

 

If it will get you off my back. Rose replied, blandly.

 

This isnt for me, Lily snapped, its for…”

 

Yes, the happiness of my cousin and my best friend, I get it, god, Rose said dismissively, not that other peoples happiness really appealed to her, when she herself was so miserable, just let me get changed, okay?

 

I hope youre having a wash first. Lily said bluntly, motioning her cousins general vulgarity; there was orange dust around her mouth from the multipack of Wotsits shed eaten three days before, and her hair had solidified with grease.

 

Rose started to protest but ultimately decided against it at her cousins glare; muttering under her breath, she sloped out of the room, already longing to be back in the solitude of her bed.

 

  • *

 

It wasnt that Scorpius Malfoy had any real trouble attracting girls - it was keeping them that was the problem. He’d been dumped for being too sensitive and not sensitive enough; for being too clingy, and too detached; he’d even been left without any explanation, although this was much better than when an ex broke up with him by leaving a list of his failings on the kitchen table (flat hair, lack of muscle definition, the odd noises he made when he slept…)

 

He was embittered by his romantic shortcomings and had long since resolved to focus on building an illustrious career, making peace with the fact that he would die alone. At twenty-six his parents had already gotten married and conceived him. At that same age, Scorpius was still single, but he had seen more than most people saw in a lifetime. His job as a freelance cursebreaker had taken him trekking through the rainforests of Central America to find and exorcise an Ancient Mayan temple; he had deciphered thousand-year-old runes on the walls of the Great Pyramids of Egypt, and he’d freed a town in Benin from the wrath of an army of cursed voodoo dolls. It was much more rewarding than following the norm. He didnt want to buy a house and be forced to settle down in one place. He certainly didnt want children, because hed only pass down his various insecurities and idiosyncrasies - and marriage, of course, was entirely futile and outdated. That was why he'd only begrudgingly agreed to be Als best man. In the end he felt he had to, since he hadnt made the effort to come back and visit his best and oldest friend in so long.

 

Four years, Al repeated, going in for another hug, four bloody years, Scorp, can you believe it? Come on, Ill show you through. Were all dying to see you.

 

Scorpius wiped his shoes on the frayed welcome mat and followed Albus through to the back door of The Burrow and down towards the orchard. Als grandparents house was a place hed always felt so at home, and it was surreal to be back here after all the unfamiliar places hed been over the last four years. Memories came flooding back of the summers hed spent playing quidditch with Al and his cousins until it got too dark to see the balls; of feeding aggressive chickens on the farmyard and tossing gnomes from the enclosed garden into neighbouring fields; of tucking into one of Grandma Weasleys delicious homemade pies in the bright, warm kitchen.

 

There was a long marquee set up and the sounds of hundreds of eager voices. Scorpius didnt recognise more than half the guests Albus had too many relatives to count, which Scorpius had always found unfair, considering it had only been himself and his father since the death of his mother thirteen years before. Albus pooled together his relatives and Scorpius found himself being hugged and clapped on the back. Harry Potter shook his hand and Albuss brother James ruffled his hair (which Scorpius let him have, considering James was a good foot taller than him although Scorpius was much better built now). Al’s bride-to-be, Monique - an attractive, slender girl with pretty, hazel eyes and caramel features - kissed him on both cheeks; Als uncle Ron, potbellied and balding, gave Scorpius a quick nod with a set jaw, never able to let his old animosity with Scorpiuss father Draco die. Hermione Granger-Weasley, Rons wife and fourth-term minister for magic, was an entirely different story however - she greeted Scorpius as she would an old and dear friend, squeezing his hands and questioning him about his adventures abroad. He was friendly to Mrs Granger-Weasley, but too exhausted to converse in the intelligent manner he always felt required to adopt in her presence. Luckily, Als sister Lily rescued him by leaping on him from behind and throwing her arms around his neck.

 

Scor! she shrieked happily, jumping down and giving him a once over, youre almost unrecognisable. I mean youve got colour! And some facial hair. And do you actually have muscle definition?!

 

She squeezed his arm, testing, and nodded approvingly.

 

Hey, Lils,” he grinned, “howve you been?

 

Great! she sounded breathlessly positive, but something in her pretty, pixie features suggested the opposite, do you want some food?

 

Just a water would be fine.

 

Ill get you some firewhiskey. Why dont you go and say hi to Rose?

 

She motioned a table in the corner and his heart sprung immediately to life. Trying to remain as calm as possible and wishing that hed already had a few shots of something strong, he made his way over. Hed readied his mind for the very certain possibility that Rose would be here at her cousins and best friends belated engagement party, but his body apparently hadnt got the memo. Hands shaking, he pulled out the chair next to her and sat down.

 

Is anyone sitting here? he asked, as casually as he could muster. She looked at him and he hoped the redness of the blood rushing to his cheeks was lessened by his tan.

 

“Well… you are.”

 

Scorpius laughed nervously. She hadnt changed at all. Her hair was the same consistency as her mothers and the same shade of red as her fathers, but whilst Hermione wore hers short and well-trimmed, Roses had been left to grow to her mid-waist. Shed pulled it back tonight, likely with the aid of various hair-care spells and muggle products, but it was already escaping in tangles from the thick bun. Her skin was fair but heavily freckled, a smattering of gold across her button nose and her arms and cheeks. Her eyes were the deep brown-gilded of her mothers, but the weighted shadows beneath them were new.

 

They were both getting older, he reminded himself.

 

Youre back, then. Although the wording was nonchalant, there was a slight tremor to her voice.

 

Scorpius nodded, quickly.

 

You look different. She said slowly, not actually looking at him, less pointed, and certainly less pale.

 

You look the same. Maybe more freckled. She had freckles everywhere, he remembered – the thought conjured an image that made his cheeks and ears even hotter. How have you been?

 

Good. You?

 

Good. He agreed, tapping his fingers on the table, wishing Lily would hurry up with his drink. “Wheres Teddy?

 

The question was meant to be a casual means to fill the painful silence, but Rose suddenly looked sad. Scorpius opened his mouth but what he would have said became lost in the almighty crack that suddenly resounded through the marquee. By reflex Scorpius was on his feet with his wand pointed at the newcomers, and in a tent full of Gryffindors, he wasnt the only one. Harry and Hermione were, of course, the first to spring to action - Ron followed suit but knocked over an entire table in his haste, and its contents were dumped exclusively on Percy Weasley and his shrewd wife Audrey, which would have pleased Scorpius greatly had he not been otherwise preoccupied with kicking black magic arse.

 

But theyd all been a bit hasty; rather than neo-death-eaters or dark sorcerers, the newcomers were a lanky man in his early-thirties with lopped blue-black hair and tired handsome features, and a strikingly beautiful blonde woman. They glanced around somewhat awkwardly, as if they hadn’t realised that apparating directly into a party would draw so much attention. Victoire, svelte and graceful in a figure-hugging red dress, took a step forwards and smiled widely.

 

Hi, everyone. Sorry were late. Her eyes skimmed the chorus of party-goers and she found Albus, short and shocked, and Monique, furious and frowning. Congratulations, you two. Teddy and I actually have some news of our own.

 

Roses glass exploded, drawing gasps. Her hand was bleeding, but she didnt care. She was clearly too focused on the large shiny diamond ring on her cousins engagement finger.



Chapter 2: a night to forget
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2. A Night to Forget     

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I dont believe them, Lily snapped for the fifth time, who does that? Todays supposed to be about Albus and Monique. Who the fuck turns up to someones engagement party announcing their own engagement?

 

Probably the same sort of person who runs off with his wife’s cousin. James offered, in a tone that suggested he was trying to be helpful. Lily punched him, hard, in the shoulder.

 

Youre a dick. Men are all dicks.

 

The Burrow’s kitchen was full of men alongside scrawny James was Hugo, as well as Albus and Scorpius, but not one of them bothered to contradict her. Scorpius was a bit too preoccupied tending to Roses wounds by the sink. His fingers moved gently over her palms he was careful and precise, muttering incantations as the glass was pricked from the deep indents. He clicked his fingers and the wounds snapped shut, leaving nothing behind but a smooth and slightly shiny palm. Rose opened her mouth to say thank you, but she got caught in his colourless gaze. The sharp grey of his irises had turned translucent set in his sun-tanned flesh. She wondered if hed moved on, or if hed thought about her as often as shed thought about him.

 

Then the door flew open and Rose’s cousin Roxy - a sable-eyed girl with pigtails and a mischievous smile - burst into the kitchen, and the moment between them was lost. Scorpius dropped Rose’s hand and tore from her eyes.

 

That was honestly awesome, guys. I thought Aunt Ginny and Aunt Mione were gonna to deck Fleur. Roxy grinned. At fifteen, she was the youngest of the next-generation Weasley clan, but like the Aunt Ginny she idolised, she had an affinity for jinxes and a no-nonsense attitude that made people look past her youth. Fleur came in like, she stuck her chest out, flicked back her hair, and in a cruel but accurate impression of their French aunt, cried, ooooooh, sacre bleu. Mi petite fille engaged! And then, aunt Mione was like shup bitch…”

 

You know we were all there, right, and we saw what really happened? Hugo interrupted, plus my mum isnt an American gangster.

 

Fine.” Roxy replied, sourly, “but Aunt Ginny - oh my god. Aunt Ginny just deadass said You two need to leave! Seriously. I have new levels of respect for the women in my family. First they helped defeat the darkest wizard that ever lived, and now this?

 

Defeating a mass-murdering lunatic hell-bent on taking over the world and standing up to a woman in her early thirties – such similar accomplishments. Albus replied sarcastically, have they left yet?

 

Roxy, who had opened the fridge and was now rifling through its contents, shook her head.

 

Nope. After you guys all left wrong decision, seriously, because it was just getting good Aunt Ginny called Aunt Fleur a bitch and told Bill he was an idiot for marrying her, and Fleur tried to slap her, but then Nana Molly got involved and played the old Fred card, she adopted a withered old-lady voice and cried, “if my Freddy could see you all now hed be rolling in his grave family, acting like enemies!’ I didnt know Uncle Fred, but if he was anything like my dad, hed have been proper into it. Anyway, everyone then felt guilty and made amends, and now Teddys eating cake and Vics telling everyone who will listen about some modelling contract shes come back for. She broke off a piece of cheese from a block and stuffed it into her mouth.

 

I should go. Rose said, standing up.

 

No, you shouldnt, Lily said sternly, Get back out there. Show him what he’s missing.

 

Shes right, Monique said, wrapping an arm around her best friend, hell realise what a mistake hes made. You just need to show him youre not bothered.

 

I am bothered, though. She said, hopelessly.

 

She clearly is. James offered pointedly, earning another painful shoulder punch from Lily.

 

Act like youre not, then. Monique said kindly. Rose looked at her friend and suddenly felt awful. It was supposed to be Monique’s night, but as was the tendency just lately, Rose was the centre of attention instead.

 

Im sorry, Monique. Im sorry about all of this. Ive ruined your night - I shouldnt have come.

 

Its not your fault, she said, fiercely, and besides, the night isnt ruined, because my maid of honour’s still here.”

 

She looked at Rose meaningfully, and Rose gaped at her.

 

“Me? But I thought you were going to choose one of your sisters?

 

I can change my mind cant I? Monique grinned, and besides, I have four sisters. How was I supposed to choose?

 

Rose laughed through her tears.

 

“Well I guess I have to stay now, dont I?

 

Dont sound too thrilled, Rose. Albus smirked. Everybody laughed except James, who looked offended.

 

If Id said something that sarcastic, Lily would have punched me again.

 

Thats because youre my least favourite brother, she fired back.

 

Yes, well, you were an accident.

 

I was an accident? James, mum and dad only got married because they found out she was pregnant with you. I was conceived legitimately, from a place of love. You were made from a quick fumble and a forgotten contraception potion.

 

The group burst into laughter, which dissolved immediately when Teddy stumbled in through the open door. He looked around nervously and his eyes found Rose, who still had wet, mascara-stained cheeks.

 

Erm hello, everyone, long time no see, I just wanted to talk to Rose, if thats alright.

 

He looked around the room. James, Lily and Albus were glaring at him and Hugo had removed his wand from his pocket and was polishing it with his shirt, in the same sort of menacing manner a hunter might polish his shotgun.

 

I dont think weve got anything to talk about. Rose shrugged, not even looking at him. Her tone was surprisingly casual, considering that her face was still shiny with tears.

 

You dont owe me anything, I know. he said quickly, trying not to look at the other people in the kitchen.

 

Lily snorted scathingly, and Monique, who was usually gentle and understanding even at the worst of times, rolled her eyes derisively. Teddy found Roses eyes at last. His untidy brows were pulled together into a pained expression, emphasising the deep lines on his forehead. Can we go outside?

 

Rose avoided Lilys steely gaze. She knew her cousin would be shaking her head furiously, urging her not to heed to his demands. They werent married anymore and it wasn’t like there was anything left to salvage - so what was the point in making amends? But Rose just couldn’t help it. Shed been in love with Teddy for years before hed finally noticed her as more than one of many redheaded cousins of the Potter clan, and for the six years since then shed shared her life with him. That sort of devotion didnt go away within a matter of months; she had to hear him out, so she nodded.

 

Rose…” Lily and Albus groaned at the same time.

 

I wont be long. Rose said brightly, following Teddy back to the door. Ill see you back here in a minute. Okay?

 

**

It was one of those pretty midsummer nights, half past eight and the light was just waning, the setting sun painting the clouds pink. Rose followed Teddy down the overgrown garden path and towards the pond. They stopped by the filmy green water; she watched as a large, bright orange fish weaved through the stillness of its depths.

 

How have you been? he asked, quietly.

 

Fine. She shrugged. What are you doing back early? The trip was supposed to be six months long. I should know. I planned it.

 

He took a deep breath and stared down at his feet.

 

I just I want to explain myself, Rose. I I want to make you see you know, my point of v…” he cut off and, choosing his words a little more slowly and carefully, sighed “…Ill always love you, Rosie…”

 

Dont call me that. She interrupted.

 

There just wasnt any passion between us by the end. Not really.

 

Are you seriously trying to tell me that Victoires a better shag?

 

No. he emphasised the word angrily, then closed his eyes and rolled his temple with his middle and index finger, Rose, we never what you need to know is that we never did anything while I was with you. I promise.

 

You promised you would spend the rest of your life with me, so your promises clearly don’t mean anything.” She spat.

 

I meant it at the time, he said furiously, but please dont try to pretend that everything was perfect between us. We werent happy.

 

He reached for her hand, probably as a force of habit, but she was quicker. She pulled the wand from her dress robes lining and held it to his jaw, the tip pushing an indent into his flesh. He didnt move away he just stared down at her sadly.

 

We werent happy, but Victoire and I are…”

 

Much happier, right? she interrupted, irritably, Youre soulmates. You belong together. You complete each other. Yeah. Youve already told me. Are we done?

 

No. I want to make this okay.

 

Okay? she repeated, almost laughing through her disbelief, were you always this arrogant? Things between us will never be okay, because you left me for my cousin. I dont give a shit if if we were having problems or if you fell madly in love with her but you. Left. Me. For. My. Cousin. Get your head out of your abnormally large arse-hole, Teddy Lupin.

 

She retrieved her wand and stalked back towards the house. He didnt follow her.

 

**

Teddy and Victoire left shortly after they’d arrived and Rose and her cousins (and Scorpius) went back to the marquee, although there wasnt much of a party to go back to. Most of the other guests had gone too. A drunken Neville Longbottom was singing an old Weird Sisters ballad to an audience comprised only of his wife Hannah, one of the Lovegood’s eight-year-old twins was bawling his eyes out, and Roses mother was tiredly clearing plates and emptying bottles of alcohol without the aid of magic.

 

Its only half nine. Where is everyone? Lily asked incredulously. Her uncle Ron, who was probably on his tenth or eleventh course, licked his fingers.

 

Dunno. He said, it all got a bit confrontational. Then when I tried to hex Teddys balls off missed, by the way, cause Mione got in the way, told me it wasnt worth it people just sort of -left.

 

I wonder why. Hermione snapped, dropping a whole wine glass into the bin bag.

 

Dont tell me he didnt deserve it. Ron retorted.

 

Oh, he very much deserved it, Hermione said, wiping the sweat from her cheek with the back of her hand, I just dont think hes worth getting locked up in Azkaban for the rest of your life.

 

Ah, Im a celebrity. Id get two years, tops.

 

They all laughed.

 

Getting locked up in Azkaban for the rest of my life would be a small price to pay, Ginny added, I cant believe they came here tonight. Ive never been so angry.

 

Thats hard to believe, James interjected, youve almost killed me several times.

 

The point is, Ginny continued, I would never actually kill you. Fleur, I would kill. I never liked her, did I?

 

You used to call her Phlegm. Harry agreed. They all continued to laugh and talk, unaware that Rose had snagged a bottle of firewhiskey and slipped out of the tent. Scorpius saw her leave, though – he checked that nobody was watching, and followed her into the night.

 

**

Are you alright?

 

He was a bit behind her - about twenty feet or so - and the sounds of the muffled voices from the tent penetrated the fast-approaching silent blackness of the night, but he knew that she had heard him by the sudden stiffness of her frame. She took another swig of the firewhiskey, accustomed now to the burning sensation it left in her throat. He jogged to meet her; he could almost see her face and the sadness in her eyes.

 

Yeah. She managed. Just needed to get away from all that.

 

He rifled through his breast pocket and pulled out a packet of cigarettes. Want one?

 

I have something much better, thanks, she replied, holding up the half-empty bottle of firewhiskey as gracefully as possible, I would have never pegged you as a smoker.

 

Well, Ive erm, changed, in the last four years.

 

Clearly. She motioned his appearance and took another large gulp of the muddy liquid in her bottle, then held it outstretched. “Want some?

 

No, thank-you. I prefer to always be sound of mind. It alleviates the possibility of being unprepared for risks.

 

He lit the cigarette with the end of his wand; the flame threw shadows over his face, emphasising the hollow spaces beneath his protruding cheekbones and the black crescents cast by his long, light eyelashes. Rose snorted.

 

That sounds like something the old Scorpius Malfoy would say.

 

She glanced up at the sky, where a faint, speckled whole moon burnt amber with the last light of the sun. They didnt speak for a few seconds; a thoughtful sadness was etched in her soft features, crumpling into various ravines between her brows. She wasnt looking at him when she murmured, Why do I always get my heart broken, Scor?

 

He hadnt been aware of how close their bodies had become, without either of them consciously moving together, and the scent of the alcohol on her breath was making him dizzy. She took another gulp and her dark eyes met his. He exhaled a long steady line of silver and looked quickly down at his feet, heart hammering.

 

Every man Ive ever loved, or thought I loved, has hurt me. Why is that?

 

The truth was that shed always picked the wrong sort of men. At Hogwarts shed exclusively dated burly Gryffindor quidditch players who dropped her as soon as someone more willing came along; then thered been the ministry co-worker who had neglected to tell her he was married, and the column writer for Witch Weekly who published the most intimate details of their relationship when they broke up. Teddy, on the other hand, was polite, well-respected and historically monogamous, so it was ironic that he turned out to be the worst of them all.

 

I dont know. Scorpius said instead, not lifting his eyes. “You’ve just been very unlucky.”

 

She drained the bottle and dropped it into the grass, where it fell with a soft bumph and rolled away.

 

“What about you?” she asked, hiccuping.

 

“What about me?” he replied, inhaling deeply and glancing across the expanse of fields that were quickly being engulfed by the stars.

 

“Have you been unlucky, too?”

 

He looked across at her and nodded. She looked as if she was about to cry – but, to his surprise, she laughed instead, the humour lighting her eyes and loosening the slight wrinkles around them.

 

“What’s so funny?”

 

“It’s just like before, that’s all.” And with that she reached over, prised the cigarette from his teeth and leaned in to kiss him. The taste of the firewhiskey was overwhelming enough to make him nauseous and her lips were rough and scratchy. He tore away with a sharp breath, wiping the wetness from his mouth as if it was poison. He couldn’t look at her; ignoring the thudding in his chest, he looked at the ground instead. Rose, on the other hand, clutched at her own lips, staring at him – dumbstruck, by what he could only assume was embarrassment. He waited for her to speak. When she did, the words were quiet and hoarse.

 

“I thought… I thought that you followed me out here, because… this was what you wanted…”

 

“I followed you because I wanted to make sure you were alright. Look, if you want, I can help you apparate home, and…”

 

“What’s going on?” Lily interrupted. She hadn’t been there long enough to see the kiss, but her tone was accusatory, and her narrowed eyes drifted from a red-faced Rose to a breathless Scorpius.

 

“Nothing.” Scorpius managed. Rose wasn’t looking at him anymore; she took a step to the side and felt for the wand tucked in in the lining of her summer dress.

 

“I was just leaving.”

 

Lily had already started to move towards her cousin to heed the disapparation before it happened, signalled by the tell-tale gunshot crack. Lily swore and swept around to glare at Scorpius, eyes narrowed and cheeks pink with fury.

 

“What the bloody hell did you do?”

 

Nothing.” He repeated, unable to keep the irritability from his voice, “she just – she tried to kiss me, and I pulled away. That’s it.”

 

That’s it?” Lily imitated, sourly, “oh, well, that’s just bloody brilliant. Why couldn’t you have just kissed her back?!”

 

“Kissed her back?! Merlin, Lily, I didn’t want to,” Scorpius replied, exasperatedly, “and even I had wanted to, I’d have been taking serious advantage of her.”

 

“Oh, come on, Scorpius. Like that’s ever stopped you before.”

 

“What are you on about?” He asked stupidly, although he had an idea about what she might say.

 

“The amount of times she broke up with someone and ended up in your bed,” Lily snarled. She was small but ferocious like a wolverine. He recoiled from her baring teeth as she continued, “it might’ve been four years since you left, and you might look very different, but you’re the same creep who pined after her throughout Hogwarts, who was always very conveniently there whenever her love-life took another turn. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to find my cousin.”

 

She shoved past him and stormed back into the tent. He looked down at his cigarette, eyes burning like the tiny flame, and with a crack he was gone too.

 

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Author's Note:

I don’t know if I’m being really dim because I’m new to the site, but I can’t seem to be able to reply to reviews, so I’d just like to say here that I’m really thankful for those two lovely reviewers who left me such kind words on the first chapter of this story. It means a lot. Hope you continue to enjoy!!! 

😊



Chapter 3: arlo to you too
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3. Arlo to you too

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Rose’s night couldn’t have ended any worse, really. It wasn’t enough that Teddy and Victoire had announced their engagement before the ink had even dried on Rose and Teddy’s divorce papers, but she had also been rejected by Scorpius Malfoy. At Hogwarts, Malfoy’s persistent proclamations of his romantic feelings for her had been the one constant in her life. After Hogwarts, she’d used these feelings to her advantage a couple of times, usually when she was feeling low after a break-up. Now she wasn’t even good enough for him.

 

The look of pity in his eyes when he’d broken the kiss was haunting. She’d given him an identical look when he’d asked her out in fifth year, when he’d drunkenly told her he loved after the first time they’d slept together, and when he’d begged her not to marry Teddy minutes before she was due to walk down the aisle. She supposed this was her punishment for the way she’d treated him. If this were a romantic film, she’d be the selfish, self-centred girl who broke Scorpius’s heart, and him coming back all buff and confident to give her that very same look of pity would be his revenge.

 

She needed a drink. Her initial thought upon disapparating was that she would go back to the Westiminster home she was currently sharing with her parents, where she would attempt to sleep off her despair. Then she remembered that she hadn’t technically informed anyone that she was leaving the party, which meant that her mother would meet her at the house, frantic with worry and anger. Besides, she didn't have any alcohol left.

 

With that in mind, she apparated into the nearby Ottery-St-Catchpole instead. The ‘village’ comprised mainly of a single cobblestone street lined by stooped Tudor panelled cottages and a post office, a Co-op, and a pub with peeling shutters called St Catchpole’s Tavern. The brickwork was untidy and some of the roof tiles were missing, but Rose peeked through the window and was comforted by the warm, orange glow of traditional wooden back-splashes and old lamps. A handful of customers were inside, dotted sparsely on bar stools and booths, mainly on their own, and when she pushed through the door, nobody even took any notice of the sudden creak. She made her way over to the bar, where the keeper was polishing a glass with a ragged cloth.

 

“What can I get you?” he asked tiredly, in his West Country accent. Her mind went completely blank. What did muggles even drink? She racked her brains. Didn’t her mum sometimes buy that stuff that tasted like warm cat piss? Not that she knew what warm cat piss tasted like of course, but if it tasted like anything… god, what was it called?

 

“A Stella Tortoise, please!” she said, triumphantly. The bar-man looked at her for a few seconds, blankly, then burst out laughing.

 

"Don't you mean a Stella Artois?”

 

She felt her cheeks heating up.

 

“Sorry. Yes. I’m new to this.”

 

“Right.” He suddenly looked serious. “Have you got any ID?”

 

“Erm…” she tore her bag from her shoulder and emptied it out on the bar. Out came owl treats, a half-melted Honeydukes’ Best Chocolate Bar, her ancient and defunct mobile phone, some dirty robes, several broken biscuits and a bulging purse. He stared, agape, at the mess.

 

“How did all that fit in there?”

 

Her bag, after all, wasn’t much bigger than an envelope. She shrugged and handed over her muggle driving license. Her mother had made her learn in case of emergencies the summer after she turned seventeen. She hadn’t been behind the wheel since and still couldn’t think of any reason why she should ever have to.

 

The barkeeper checked Rose’s license, handed her a pint of the frothy honey-coloured liquid, and told her it would be £3.50. She popped open her purse and stared at the contents - two sickles, a single bronze knut, and a button with a piece of thread still hanging from it. She was wondering whether it was acceptable to confound the barkeeper (what Hermione Granger didn’t know wouldn’t have hurt her) when she realised that she was being watched. There was a man a couple of stools across – tall and pleasant-looking, about Rose’s age, with black hair that fell in waves to his chin and a hint of stubble that dotted the curves of his jaw. He shifted his gaze, but their eyes had already met.

 

“I don’t suppose you can buy me a drink?” She pointed to his wallet, sat on the bar, “I wouldn’t ask, but I forgot to bring money out with me.”

 

“And yet you apparently brought out everything else you own.” The barman said, very impatiently.

 

“Please?” she added, trying to catch her fellow customer’s eye, “I’ll repay you.”

 

Still not looking at her, or speaking, the man opened his wallet and dropped a few coins on the bar. The barkeep gave him a very sceptical look but accepted the payment anyway. Rose looked across at her new friend, sidled across a stool so that she was right beside him, and held out a hand.

 

“It’s very nice to meet you. I’m Rose.” It took the man a few seconds to realise who was talking, and he dragged his gaze from his glass to Rose’s face, to Rose’s glass, and back to her face again. He ignored the hand entirely.

 

“My name’s Arlo.”

 

Then he went back to his drink. Rose blinked.

 

“Well – thank you. You really helped me out there."

 

He shrugged.

 

"Are you from around here?” Rose continued, her alcoholic haze masking the fact that she was fighting a losing battle. He nodded, curtly. Rose decided to continue regardless of his blatant disinterest. “I’m not. I’m here visiting from London, for my cousin’s wedding. My grandparents live here though. Just over the hill. Do you know them? The Weasleys?”

 

He didn’t look at her, but he did sigh.

 

“It would be quite difficult to miss them.”

 

“Are you having a bad night too?” Rose asked quickly, taking a swig of her drink and wincing at the rancid taste. Without waiting for him to reply, she added, “mine's the worst. My ex-husband left me for my cousin, and tonight I found out they’re engaged. Also, Scorpius Malfoy doesn’t find me attractive anymore.”

 

“Scorpion what?” he repeated, furrowing his brows.

 

“It’s a person. Well, a boy. Except not a boy, a man. He and I have sort of a past, you see, and he’s just rejected me, so, I’m drowning in my sorrows. Also, my cousin copped off with my husband and now they’re engaged, in case you missed that.”

 

“Right." 

 

“What’s your story? Why are you on your own in a dead pub at ten pm on a Friday night?”

 

He glanced down at his half-empty pint and shrugged.

 

“Bad week, I s’pose.”

 

“Bad week how?”

 

He looked at her and sighed heavily.

 

“I’d rather not talk about this now, what with you being a stranger, and all. I'm not being funny, or anything, it's just - I came out for a bit of peace and quiet that's all.”

 

“Well you came to the wrong place! Didn’t you know that pubs are for getting drunk and sharing your woes with strangers?”

 

“I didn't know that." he said heavily.

 

“Well, now you do.” Rose took a large gulp of her drink and winced at its bitterness. “So, what’s your story, Ardo?”

 

“Arlo.”

 

“Oh, are we starting over? Arlo to you, too.” Rose held out a hand. Arlo glared at it.

 

“Arlo is my name.”

 

“I know.” She put her head in her palm and frowned at him in an attempt to appear concerned, but she succeeded only in looking cross-eyed. “So, what is it that’s troubling you? You can tell me. I am a very good listener.”

 

“If you were a very good listener, you wouldn’t still be talking to me. Can you not take a hint?”

 

“I can’t. I’m very persistent. If I wasn’t persistent, Teddy and I would’ve never even started dating. Come to think of it, I definitely forced him into marriage. Although it certainly didn’t take Victoire long to get him to propose, maybe because she’s about a gazillion times better-looking than me.” She took another swig of her pint, ignoring the nausea building in her stomach.

 

“Wow. And I thought I was pathetic,” Arlo sighed, “I quit a decent job to become an actor, only to find that I'm really not very good - I’ve had five failed auditions just this week, in fact. I have no savings, because my ex burnt through them all and then buggered off with my best friend. I lost my flat because I couldn’t keep up with the rent, so I'm living back with my mum and her Portuguese toyboy who insists I call him dad, despite the fact he's only two years older than me. And just when I thought things couldn't possibly get any worse, I catch your attention."

 

He rolled his eyes at her, swiped his pint glass, and sat down at a nearby table. Rose watched him go through heavy lidded eyes, drained her drink, then turned back to the barkeeper. 

 

"Two more of the same, please."

 

 

“You don’t have any money.” The bartender replied. Rose fiddled for her wand inside the seam of her dress, pointed the end at the tender’s face from beneath the material, and muttered the confounding spell. He immediately got to work, pulling out two more glasses and filling them at the tap. Arlo glared at her when she sat down across from him. 

 

"Fine. You win," she said, pushing the pint over to him and folding her arms.

 

"It's not a competition." He said sourly, eyeing the new drink suspiciously. 

 

"No. But if it was, you'd win. And your prize is free drinks all night, courtesy of yours truly."

 

"I thought you didn't even have any money."

 

"I found some." She shrugged, taking a huge gulp of her pint and grinning. "So, what do you say?"

 

"That you're the most irritating woman I've ever met, and there's no wonder you have to bribe people for company with free drinks." His tone was dry, but he was trying hard not to smile.

 

"Does that mean you're effectively bribed?" She grinned. He looked down at the drink Rose was offering, then back up at her face. It wasn't just the prospect of free alcohol that made him take the sip - there was just something altogether enchanting about this woman, strange but oddly comforting, and he decided it couldn't hurt spending his evening with her. 

 

How very wrong he was.

 

*

 

By the time of twelve o'clock close, Rose and Arlo were the last to leave the pub, although neither of them was able to make the journey out to the street without clinging to the other for support.

 

“Let me take you home,” Arlo slurred, “my car’s there. On the street. I’ll drive you.”

 

“You’re driving me home to London?” Rose gasped.

 

“No. No!” Arlo snorted, digging through his trousers for his keys, “London’s like – like hundreds of miles away isn’t it? Your granny lives just over the hill. She’s a Weasley.”

 

The name set him off laughing, and Rose joined in.

 

“D-do you think – maybe – that you’re possibly – too drunk to drive?” Rose wheezed through her laughter.

 

“Erm…” Arlo had found his keys but seemed to be having some trouble locating the automatic unlock button. “…y-yeah, maybe. Dunno. Otherwise it’s a lo-ong walk to your grandparents.”

 

Rose opened her mouth to respond, but she tripped over the pavement. The wing mirror of the car beside her broke her fall – but it also broke clean off with her weight, shattering on the concrete. They both stared at it on the ground.

 

“That’s my car!” Arlo cried. He snatched the wing-mirror up and tried to re-attach the it to the jagged plastic and wires that were now sticking out of the side of his car. It fell back onto the pavement, echoing awkwardly in the emptiness of the street.

 

“I can help,” Rose said happily, rummaging through the lining of her dress for her wand and tripping back over. This time, the bonnet broke her fall – but her weight landed on the trim, and a huge chunk of metal came clean off beneath her bum.

 

“Jesus!” Arlo shrieked, as it clanged on the cobblestones. Rose finally retrieved her wand.

 

“You’re not supposed to know,” Rose said confidently, brandishing the polished elmwood, “but I am magical.”

 

“Magical?” Arlo repeated. He spotted the wand and his eyes lit up. “Oh! You’re a magician!”

 

“Isn't that one of those dumb muggles who play card tricks?” Rose replied scathingly.

 

“One of those dumb what?”

 

“Muggles. Non-magi… never mind. Anyway,” she raised her wand, “don’t tell anybody about this, I could get in trouble. Reparo!”

 

The bonnet and wing-mirror snapped back into place with fervour, expelling dust from their parts. Arlo’s face went from careless to utterly bewildered in a matter of seconds, and all colour drained from his cheeks.

 

“Wh…wha…?” was all the poor man could manage. He took a hold of the wing mirror to steady himself. It supported his weight firmly. “What just… happened?”

 

“Just…forget that. Forget everything you just saw.” Rose declared, sprawling herself across the pavement and closing her eyes, “You’re not s’posed to know.”

 

“You – I just – that was – the wing mirror was there…” he pointed desperately at the pavement, “and now it’s… you just…” he made a desperate noise that was somewhere between a groan and a gasp, and stared down at her exasperatedly, “h-how… how drunk am I?”

 

“You’re not drunk,” Rose sighed, rolling sideways, “I’m just magical, you see.”

 

“You - you're a witch.” He managed, as if she hadn’t even spoken, “I just – I just witnessed r-real magic, I mean… I mean I’m quite a… a rational man, b…but you – just defied the… the laws of physics, and…” his words suddenly became very close together and excited, as he exclaimed, “…is there anything else you can do? What else can you do with that… is that a wand?”

 

He moved to touch it before Rose could stop him. There was a burst of orange light, and Arlo was propelled backwards, landing in a crumpled and groaning heap in the middle of the street. Rose approached him hesitantly and took his shoulder, but as she rolled him over, she found that he was grinning in spite of the odd angle his arm was sticking out at.

 

“That was amazing!” he raved, “that thing must’ve just thrown me twenty feet! Listen, you’ve got to show me more. You’ve got to teach me.”

 

“You might need to get your arm fixed first.”

 

“There’s nothing wrong with my…” Arlo glanced down at his twisted limb and instantly went green.

 

“I’m no healer.” Rose said, collapsing to his side in exhaustion, “I wouldn’t attempt to fix a broken bone even if I wasn’t a bit drunk. We’re going to have to take you to someone else who’s a bit more qualified. Hold tightly to my arm.” He was still staring at himself in horror and shock. “Fine. I’ll hold onto your arm. Brace yourself – the first time always feels very weird. Heh – that’s what she said. Anyway…”

 

She raised her wand again, and they disappeared with a crack.

 

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A/N: Sorry it's been a while since I last updated - I've been really busy with work and uni assignments.

I hope this chapter was okay. I've written quite a bit of this already so the next one will be out as soon as I've edited it :)

Thanks so much for reading!

- Magishan



Chapter 4: a plan comes together
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A Plan Comes Together 

 

Lily Potter’s selflessness was her most endearing feature, but it was also her fatal flaw. Sometimes she simply cared beyond all reason, like the time she sought out a mountain troll that had escaped close to her family's alpine retreat and nearly got clubbed to death, all because she couldn't bear the thought of it being killed by trained hunters. Then there was the string of relationships she'd had with saps she felt desperately sorry for – like Malcolm Macmillan, who asked her out so many times that she felt too bad to keep saying no, and Xander Zabini, who used sex addiction as an excuse to cheat on her for two years. She’d always had what Hugo called her charity cases, outcasts and addicts and generally hopeless people she would take under her wing and nurse back to an acceptable state.

 

Lily’s latest focus was Rose, but ensuring that her cousin was kept happy and sober was proving near impossible. Rose's devastation at the disintegration of her marriage was understandable, but she'd always been so strong. It was hard to believe that, just six months ago, Rose had been a highly committed auror who’d seen countless bodies mutilated by dark magic and ancient curses; who'd come close to death at the hands of a Voldemort fanatic, but still gone back to work the next day. 

 

So why had this – out of everything, this, the breakdown of a relationship – sent Rose absolutely loopy?

 

Now Rose was Merlin knows where, drinking Merlin knows what with Merlin knows who, whilst her parents were frantically owling everybody they knew in case someone, anyone, had seen her. Lily had been trying to sleep for well over an hour now but every time she felt close to dropping off, an image of Rose face down in a ditch crept into her subconscious.

 

And now there was somebody in the kitchen.

 

Cautiously, Lily slid her wand from beneath her pillow and crept down the corridor towards the sound of clanging pots and a woman’s voice. She kicked open the kitchen door, wand outstretched, and rifling through the alcohol cupboard beneath the sink - hair bedraggled, make-up smudged - was-

 

“Rose!” Lily hissed. She flicked her wand at the cupboard door and Rose snatched back her fingers as the door slammed shut. “Where the bloody hell have you been? We’ve all been so worried. You can’t just disappear off the face of the earth when you’re so vulnerable.” Lily’s angry eyes fell onto the stranger standing beside her cousin. “And who the bloody hell is that?”

 

Arlo was still stiff with bewilderment. What with finding out magic was real, breaking his arm, and apparating for the first time, Rose was impressed that his heart hadn’t given out with the shock.

 

“This is my new friend, Arlo.” Rose said proudly.

 

“Oh, Merlin.” Lily groaned, looking from Rose to the man, and back again, “don’t tell me you’ve brought him here to shag.”

 

“Of course not,” Rose wrinkled her nose in disgust, “he’s my f-r-i-e-n-d. And his arm is broken. I thought you might be able to help.”

 

“Why not just take him to St. Mungos?” Lily replied irritably, although she’d already crouched at his side and angled her wand at his elbow. She uttered the spell casually. On a slow day at the hospital, Lily would heal hundreds of broken bones. The process that was beyond Rose’s basic first-aid auror capabilities was as simple to a healer like Lily as putting a plaster over a graze. “There. All better.”

 

Arlo gaped down at his elbow, shifted it slightly, and let out a little squeak. Lily stared at him, then looked over at Rose, who was making every attempt to avoid eye contact.

 

“Oh-kay.” Lily said slowly, “what the bloody hell's wrong with him?”

 

“I dunno.” Rose said, sounding as if she very much did know.

 

“Rose?” Lily repeated, firmly.

 

“Oh – alright.” Rose sighed. “I suspect he’s a bit shocked. You see… Arlo’s sort of - a muggle.”

 

Rose!” Lily snapped, “how could you be so careless? You need to obliviate him!”

 

“Yes, mum.” Rose said irritably. She raised her wand to Arlo’s agape face – but Lily was quicker. She slapped Rose’s forearm and the wand clattered to the floor.

 

“You’re too drunk.” Lily said sternly. Rose rubbed her arm furiously.

 

“I’m fine. Besides, you just told me to do it.”

 

“Yes, well, it’s a very intricate spell that you must do right.”

 

“No shit, Lily. Do you not think I don’t know what I’m doing?”

 

“That makes no sense, which doesn’t exactly fill me with optimism.”

 

“I can do it,” Rose said furiously, “I do stuff like this every day.”

 

Every day?” Lily repeated with a snort, “Rose, every day you lie in bed and smear chocolate all over your sheets and drink yourself into a stupor because the man you love is happier with somebody else.”

 

“I’m depressed, alright?” Rose said dramatically.

 

“Is that what you’re calling it?!” Lily laughed almost maniacally, snatching her cousin’s wand, “you’re pathetic, Rose.”

 

I’m pathetic?!” Rose shrieked, diving for her wand and missing. “Yes, well, at least I’m not married to my job.”

 

Lily ignored the sting of these words. It was true that she spent long hours at the hospital, which had taken a toll on her personal life – old friends had fallen out of touch and her last relationship had ended two years ago, shortly after her residency at St. Mungo’s began – but that was what happened when you were a committed employee. Unlike some people. Lily opened her mouth to say something she’d have probably regretted. Luckily, Arlo spared her the effort. He bent over and vomited.

 

“It’s alright,” Lily said carefully, as Rose heaved at the sight and smell of it. Lily vanished the mess and patted Arlo’s back. He retched once more, then he straightened up and looked at her. His lips shook as if he was trying to speak, but nothing came out. Men tended to go like this around Lily, who had inherited her mother’s beautiful elfin features and slight frame.

 

“Don’t worry,” Lily said sympathetically, “apparation tends to do that to the stomach the first few times. You get used to it. Here,” she conjured a glass. It filled itself up at the sink and floated towards him, “drink.”

 

He reached for it uncertainly, unnerved by the sight of it. Lily smiled encouragingly, and he drained the whole thing in one large swallow.

 

“Thank you.” He swallowed. His voice was rough. “I’m Arlo.”

 

“Lily.” She held out a hand, which he took without hesitation and shook vigorously. “I’m Rose’s cousin, unfortunately.”

 

“You – don’t look… much alike, apart from – from the hair,” he nodded at Rose’s wild locks, which had become windswept on their short journey, “…although, yours isn’t, quite like – that, Lily. I mean, not that yours is… you know, bad…” he added, gesturing Rose.

 

“Someone needs to obliviate him.” Rose snapped. She turned to Lily. “And if I’m not allowed to do it, you can. You’ve got my wand, after all.”

 

“Might I remind you what happened the last time I tried to obliviate someone?” Lily asked sourly. Lily’s best friend Sara split from her boyfriend during sixth year and begged Lily to obliviate any trace of their relationship. What actually happened was that Sara’s head nearly exploded, and Lily narrowly avoided getting expelled. It was the first and last time she ever got on her mother’s bad side.

 

Shivering, Lily turned to Rose and snapped, “you’re intoxicated – as usual – so you’re going to have to take it to someone else. Who better than the minister herself?”

 

“Sorry…” Arlo said quickly, looking a lot less peaky now that he’d expelled the contents of his stomach, “…what is it you’re doing to me?”

 

“Wiping your memory.” Rose said matter-of-factly. “I can’t take him to my parents, Lily. They’ll kill me.”

 

“Wiping my…?” Arlo repeated, “…b – but what if I don’t want you to wipe my memory? Surely I at least get a say?”

 

“I’m sorry, it’s customary.” Lily said in the same careful, clinical way she delivered bad news to a patient.

 

“But you can’t just… just… drag me into all this and then… and then make me forget about it. I mean – I mean…” without the ache of his broken limb and the shock and nausea that followed his first apparation, Arlo was getting very excitable again, “…magic is real. Tonight I’ve – I’ve teleported, and I’ve seen things float through the air, and – and you fixed my broken arm, in, like, 2 seconds. That would revolutionise modern medicine by the way, I mean, why would you want to keep something like this a secret?”

 

“Because we’d all be very much in demand.” Lily said firmly. “And we don’t need that sort of hassle.”

 

All? How many of you is there?”

 

“Thousands. All living amongst you.” Rose said mysteriously.

 

“Wait – there’s thousands of wizards and witches… and you all just go around wiping memories?” Arlo asked, sounding both astounded and disgusted.

 

“Look, Rose, you’ve done much worse. Your mum will understand.” Lily said.

 

Rose looked at Arlo dubiously, and shook her head.

 

“This is too much. Mum will genuinely throw me out. I mean – she’s been threatening to do it for months, and – this, after running off from Al and Monique’s – is as good a reason as any for her to follow through. Merlin I’m pathetic,” Rose sighed dramatically, leant up against the kitchen counters and dropped her head in her hands, “I’m a sad, pathetic, drunken, boyfriend-less twat. No wonder I’m alone.”

 

Lily opened her mouth to interject, but Arlo was quicker.

 

“Stop a sad, pathetic, drunken and boyfriend-less twat, then. Get yourself out there. Socialise. Meet people. Get a new boyfriend. If you don’t wipe my memory, I can help you. I mean, I have single friends I’m sure would like to take you out… and in return you could – tell me all about magic.”

 

“He’s right, Rose.” Lily replied, nodding vigorously, “I mean – you’re still getting obliviated,” she motioned Arlo, “but – the muggle talks some sense, Rose, I’ll give him that.”

 

“Hm… I do think you’re onto something, Arlo…” Rose said, frowning thoughtfully.

 

“Hallelujah!” Lily shrieked. But Rose was watching Arlo with an odd, contemplative look on her face that made Lily promptly regret her premature cheer of celebration. A thoughtful and drunk Rose was a disastrous combination.

 

“What if I allowed him to keep his memory and pretend to be my boyfriend?!”

 

“No.” Lily said blankly.

 

“It’s perfect,” Rose continued, “I could say I left to see Arlo because I was feeling upset. And then I’d look like I was finally getting my shit together, and… and it would make Teddy so jealous, to see me with someone else. I bet that would really get to him, and to Victoire too, to see me happier without him. I could be all like – you’re welcome to him – and then Teddy will come begging for me back. What do you think?”

 

She looked triumphant, but Arlo seemed wary and Lily snorted.

 

“I think you’ve finally gone completely bat-shit insane.”

 

"I think it’s perfect.” Rose said, defensively.

 

“In what world is it perfect?” Lily laughed in disbelief, “right – I know, let’s entertain the notion of you going home, right now, and introducing Arlo as your boyfriend. How are you supposed to have met him when you’ve spent the last six months holed up in your childhood bedroom?”

 

“Easy. I met him on ye olde wizarding world web.”

 

“Erm, in case you haven’t noticed, Arlo is a muggle.”

 

“I hadn’t noticed. Have you noticed that you’re a non-magical person, Arlo?” Rose said, sarcastically.

 

“How did you meet him on the wizarding world web when he’s a muggle?” Lily sighed, “and you know I don’t have anything against muggles, but I don’t feel like you parading a muggle around is going to make Teddy jealous. More than anything, it’s just going to make you look desperate. No offence.” She added to Arlo, who looked quite offended.

 

“He can be a wizard then.” Rose shrugged.

 

“That solves nothing. For starters, he’s going to have to be a damn good actor to fool some of the most talented witches and wizards alive into thinking that he’s magical. And I think you’re also forgetting how easy it would be for your mother, the minister for magic, to do a quick search in the archives for Arlo’s name and find no matches.”

 

“It would be easy for her to do that, but she wouldn’t. This is my mother you’re talking about. She has more important stuff to worry about like, erm, I don’t know, running wizarding UK.”

 

Lily looked lost for anything else to say, so she looked to Arlo instead and folded her arms.

 

“Please tell her she’s lost it.”

 

Arlo bit his lip and glanced at the floor.

 

“I mean – it’s not completely ridiculous. It means I don’t have to lose my memory - and it would get me out of the house, so… I’ll do it.”

 

“Yay!” Rose grinned, throwing her arms around her new friend. Lily sighed derisively.

 

“You know this is just going to end badly. I really don’t want to have to say I told you so, Rose, because it’s so cliché.”

 

Rose let go of Arlo, grinned widely at her cousin, and pulled her into a hug.

 

“I know you’re trying to look out for me, Lil. I appreciate it. But I have to make Teddy realise that he wants me back, and I feel like this is the only way.”

 

There were so many things Lily should have said in that moment. Rose, you’re worth so much more than the prick who broke your heart. You’re a thousand times better than our whore of a cousin who stole him away from you. There are hundreds of ways you can make him see what he’s missing, but in the end none of them matter, because you deserve somebody who would never treat you like he has.

 

But Lily let the selflessness of her heart reign over the logic of her mind as she had done so many times before, and what she said instead was-

 

“Fine. I’m here for you. We’ll make that bastard see what he’s missing.”

 

*

 

“So you have a boyfriend?” Hermione repeated dubiously, turning from the kettle to stare at the handsome newcomer sat at the kitchen table, “and this is him?”

 

Arlo smiled grimly. He was still a bit pale from the shock of seeing Rose’s parents’ house spring up from nowhere. On approach he could have sworn it had been the same as the other white-brick terraces on the unassuming Westminster street, and then all of a sudden the neighbouring houses had jumped a couple of hundred feet sideways to accommodate a large manor complete with columns and sprawling, well-manicured grounds.

 

“Yes, mum,” Rose sighed for the fourth time.

 

“Why didn’t you tell us you had a boyfriend?” Ron replied, eyeing Arlo suspiciously.

 

“I didn’t want to jinx it.”

 

Hermione frowned and looked like she might have another question, but Hugo chose that moment to enter the kitchen in nothing but a tiny pair of boxers, and they all gaped in horror at his furry ginger pot belly and man boobs.

 

“What’s going on? What’s all the noise about?” he asked irritably, scratching his stomach. His eyes fell on Arlo and flashed with recognition, “wait – I know you from somewhere…”

 

“No you don’t.” Rose snapped, “this is my boyfriend, Arlo,” she stood up and seized Arlo’s arm, “Arlo, this is my brother, Hugo.”

 

“How have you got a boyfriend when you’ve barely left your room in months?” Hugo frowned, tearing open a yoghurt and sniffing it questionably.

 

“He has got a point, Rose.” Her mother replied, folding her arms dubiously.

 

“Well, what are you suggesting? That I’m – like – desperate enough to just – like – make up a boyfriend?” Rose said irritably.

 

“Yes.” Hugo confirmed.

 

“If you must know, we met in Hogwarts, but there’s this thing called the worldwide wizarding web, and we reconnected on it.” Rose snapped, sarcastically.

 

“You went to Hogwarts?”

 

Arlo looked at him blankly. “I – I don’t know where that…”

 

“Of course he did, and that’s why you recognise him!” Rose said quickly.

 

“But you said…”

 

“Arlo!” Rose shrieked impatiently, cutting straight across her brother and yanking the muggle by the arm, “a word?!”

 

A very confused Arlo let Rose pull him viciously into the garden room. She locked the door behind them, and pulled the curtains to a close so that her family couldn’t watch them.

 

“You know how wizardry and witchcraft is real, and stuff?” Rose asked. Arlo nodded eagerly, and Rose continued. “Well, there’s a few things you should know.”

 

“Like what Hog’s warts is?”

 

Hogwarts. It’s a school.”

 

“A school for witches and wizards?”

 

“Yes…”    

                                

“Awesome! Where is it?!”

 

“I – somewhere in Scotland, I think, but…”

 

“You think? Didn’t you go there?!”

 

“Yes, every witch or wizard…”

 

“And what sort of magic do you learn? Could I go there? Just to have a look round?”

 

“No, don’t be stupid,” Rose replied impatiently, “muggles can’t even see it.”

 

“And a muggle is a non-magical person, right? So how do I learn magic?”

 

“Learn? You’re either born with magic or you’re not. It’s not something you can learn. But…” Rose added quickly, because Arlo suddenly looked very sad, “… I can tell you all about it, and you'll see plenty of it whilst you're here. I just need you to know some things about my family if we’re going to be a fake couple. Things that may – erm – be quite – necessary to hear. Basically, in the wizarding world, my parents are famous…”

 

“That explains the massive house. What do they do?”

 

“Well – my Uncle Harry, he – sort of defeated a really evil, really powerful wizard. And my parents helped. This wizard almost killed him multiple times, and there was this huge wizarding war in the late nineteen-nineties, and then when that was all over, they revolutionised the Ministry of Magic and passed all sorts of helpful laws…”

 

“There was a wizarding war? And you have a ministry of magic? Christ! How do you people keep all this stuff secret?!”

 

“We’re magical,” Rose reminded him, trying not to sound irritated, “we can basically do anything we want.”

 

“Of course, of course…” he gabbled, “so – this ministry, is it – I guess it’s like parliament, is it, and you have a prime-minister and that sort of thing?”

 

“Well, my mum’s the Minister for Magic, yes.”

 

“So – you’re like – you’re really important and really famous, like – you’re a sort of – wizarding royal family?”

 

“Not exactly, we just…”

 

“Wait, so what sort of jobs do normal wizards have?”

 

“We do all sorts. Healing, shop work, ministry work…”

 

“What do you do?

 

“I’m an auror. Sort of like a – police officer, but you don’t need to know anything about me. I just need you to know more about our world, if you've got any chance of passing as a wizard - okay?”

 

He looked at her doubtfully.

 

“But if they think I’m a wizard, they’ll probably ask me to do some magic, won’t they? What do I do then?”

 

“They won’t ask you,” Rose assured him, “and even if they do, I’ll do it for you. I’m quite good at wordless incantations.”

 

“I don’t know…” he replied quickly, shaking his head, “… I…I don’t know if I can pass off being a proper wizard…”

 

“You call yourself an actor,” she retorted, “isn’t this just a test of your abilities?”

 

“I – I suppose, but… I don’t know, it’s a lot to take in… and – and you say I don’t need to know anything about you, but surely if we’re allegedly in a relationship, I’d know you quite well, especially considering you’re a part of this really famous family…”

 

Annoyingly, he had a point.

 

“…And what am I supposed to do, as a wizard? And did I go to this Hogwarts?”

 

“I don’t know, we can make a backstory. And yes, you went there, but they won’t recognise you because your name won’t be one they’ve heard, so we’ll have to make you muggle-born.”

 

“Muggle what?”

 

“A wizard, born to muggle parents.”

 

“Wait…” he replied quickly, shaking his head, “that can happen?!”

 

“Yes. And no, I don’t know how,” Rose interjected quickly and impatiently, because he’d opened his mouth again, “and yes, you did go to Hogwarts because it’s the only British wizarding school and everybody magical is invited to attend there. And let’s say you were four years above me, and that you were a Hufflepuff.”

 

“Huffle… is that some sort of wizarding insult?” he muttered, looking offended.

 

“No.” Rose didn’t know how she’d lasted this long without hexing the guy. Why couldn’t she have chosen an actual wizard to be her fake boyfriend?

“Hufflepuff is a house at Hogwarts.”

 

“Were you in Hufflepuff too?”

 

“No,” Rose accidentally snorted. Rearranging her features, she continued. “I was in Gryffindor, like the rest of my family. Well, my cousin Albus was sorted into Slytherin, but that's still a bit of a sore subject. There’s also Ravenclaw.”

 

“Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Gryffindor and… Slithering.” He repeated, ticking them off with his fingers.

 

“Slytherin.”

 

“Right. And we met in Hogs warts.”

 

“Hogwarts, yes.”

 

“What do I do for work?”

 

“Oh, I don’t know… I guess you can work for The Daily Prophet. It’s a popular wizarding newspaper, but my Aunt Ginny writes for the sports column, so I suppose you’d have to be behind the scenes – in research, or something – which is why she’s never heard of you. Do you think you’ll remember all this?”

“I think so,” he nodded, looking a little terrified.

 

“Good. Anything else you need to know…?” He opened his mouth, eyes large and eager, “…that isn’t about the wizarding world?”

 

He sighed and shook his head, reminding Rose remarkably of a sour child. She smiled.

 

“Great. Let’s go and get some sleep,” she pulled back the curtains to reveal her parents and brother, staring suspiciously at them through the glass doors.

 

Rose turned away from their gazes. "Just let me know if there’s anything I forgot to tell you.”

 

“There is one thing,” he replied, casually, “what’s your name again?”

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Author's Note: Another late update, sorry. I'm so happy people are enjoying this - thanks for reading and reviewing. It means so much :)

I'm not loving this chapter - there's not much action and definitely not enough Scorpius - but hopefully the next one will make up for it ;)

Magishan



Chapter 5: hopeless romantics
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Hopeless Romantics

 

Ten years ago

Being intoxicated was not the enjoyable experience that Scorpius had been led to believe. The effects of the firewhiskey that James had stolen from his parents’ alcohol cabinet could be seen throughout the house - Albus was doing knee-skids across the living room hard-wood, Lily was shrieking into her grandfather’s karaoke machine in the dining room (it had been magically modified to critique the singers’ performance, and the camp, disembodied voice within was trying and failing to shout over her), and James’s older cousins Freddie and Dominique were dancing on the kitchen table, which was squeaking dangerously with their weight.

 

Scorpius, on the other hand, felt like he was going to be sick from the dizziness and his head felt all wrong, and his tongue was floppy, and he just wanted to go somewhere very quiet and sleep it all off. Also, he needed to get away from Albus’s younger cousin Lucy, who had been following him around even more than usual, and kept offering him drinks he was sure were laced with love potion.

 

He settled for the barnyard. It was far enough away that the sounds from the house were muffled to the occasional shout of laughter and the bass of the karaoke. The stables rose from the darkness of the seasonably chilly night, and hens clucked from their pens as Scorpius stumbled across the cobblestones, searching for a comfortable space he could collapse into. The barn was a welcome solitude from the cold, even if it smelt like horse dung and ancient straw, and he felt his way across the wall for a bale of hay he could melt into. His hands connected with something warm and fleshy, and his confused mind thought it would make a very good seat. The person to whom this warm flesh belonged didn’t seem to share this opinion; a very girlish shriek pierced the darkness, and all of a sudden Scorpius was flat on his back. Green light filled the barn.

 

“Scorpius, what’s the matter with you?!” Rose cried, retrieving her wand. She turned her head, but just before the bounce of her curls and a short sniffle, Scorpius spotted the glittery trail of tears on her cheeks.

 

“S-sorry, I… I didn’t mean to uspet you. Upstet. Ups… I didn’t mean to make you cry.”

 

 “I’d like to be left alone.” Rose muttered, grappling furiously at her tears with the sides of her palms. Ordinarily, Scorpius would have apologised profusely and shut the door behind him – but tonight he felt like he could say just about anything and there would be no consequences.

 

“Why?” he asked stubbornly, “it’s New Year’s Eve. You shouldn’t be alone on New Year’s Eve. Nobody should be alone on New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Eve is a time for family and new beginnings. I don’t have any family. You have lots of family. I had to get away from them actually, because I felt very strange, and sort-of like I might be sick, and sort of as if my limbs were falling off or at least ceasing to exist, also, there’s something very wrong with my tongue, like it might levitate away.”

 

Rose stared at him for a few seconds, dumbfounded. Then she started to laugh.

 

“How much have you had to drink?”

 

“Too much.” He said blankly, and this made Rose giggle even harder. He felt very confident. “Why’re you crying? It’s New Yea…”

 

“New Year’s Eve. I know,” she shot him a little smile that didn’t meet her eyes, and sat back down on the cold, hard concrete, back resting against the wall. He copied her, collapsing into place at her side, heart hammering with anticipation and drunkenness.

 

“So why’re you sad? You don’t need to be sad.”

 

She laughed, wearily, and rested her head into the side of the barn, closing her eyes to the comfort of it.

 

“I know. I don’t really know why I’m still so sad about it all.”

 

“About what?” he asked pleasantly, admiring how the wand-light reflected in the darkness of her eyes.

 

“Atticus.”

 

The name was still a gut punch to Scorpius, even though Rose had broken up with the burly sixth-year Gryffindor a month before. She must have seen a change in his features, because she suddenly sat up straight and said, calmly, “of course I don’t really care about him, I mean… he was an arse. I just keep thinking about what he said to me when I broke up with him, and…”

 

“What did he say?” Scorpius interrupted bravely, narrowing his eyes to combat the strange feelings of complete intoxication. Rose sighed.

 

“He…” Rose trailed off. She was trying to smile, but the tears overwhelmed her. She batted at them uselessly, “… he said that people only like me because of who my parents are. And it’s… it’s stupid to get this worked up over it, especially when at my age mum and dad and my uncle Harry had much worse to worry about… but it’s something I’ve panicked about ever since I started at Hogwarts, and… urgh, I hate that he can get to me like this, but… it’s true. The most interesting thing about me is the fact that I am a child of two-thirds of the famous golden trio.”

 

“Well, I think you’re the most interesting person I’ve ever met, and it has nothing to do with who your family are.” He said this carefully, which was difficult considering that his tongue was trying to run away again.

 

“That would be sincerer if you were sober.” Rose sniffed, with a grin.

 

“A sober heart speaks a drunk mind.” He said, very confidently.

 

“Oh, Scor,” Rose giggled, “that was very wrong, but I understand the sentiment. Thank you.”

 

Shouting from the house broke the silence around them – dozens of shrieking voices counting down from ten. Rose looked down at her watch.

 

“Midnight, in four… three… two… one…” Fireworks exploded from far off, but the eruption of cheers from Rose’s family was louder.

 

“Happy new year,” Scorpius said, happily.

 

“Happy new year, Scorpius.” She pulled herself to her feet and dusted off her dress, then held out a hand, “c’mon. We best get back inside.”

 

“People usually kiss on new year’s, don’t they?” He asked contemplatively, letting her pull him up.

 

Wow,” Rose chuckled, “Alcohol makes you very forward, doesn’t it?”

 

“No - no - I just - feel like your cousin Lucy might - use the excuse that it’s new year’s to - sort of - ambush my lips.”

 

“What would be so awful about that?” Rose giggled, wrapping an arm around his back to steady him as he stumbled with drunkenness.

 

“Well, I want my first kiss to be with someone I can actually stand.”

 

“Your first?” Rose paused in the doorway to the barn, “Scorpius, have you never kissed anyone before?”

 

“No.” He stumbled slightly, but Rose pulled him towards her more firmly and he grimaced at her. “It’s pathetic. Sixteen and never been kissed. I know.”

 

“No, it’s not,” she replied kindly. She looked at him, contemplatively, as the floating lanterns from the courtyard threw a halo of light around the brightness of his locks, “it’s just surprising. You’re lovely, Scor. Any girl would be lucky to kiss you.”

 

“You’re lovely too.” He blurted. She smiled at him, shyly. They were breathlessly close. He could see the thin veil of tears on her cheeks; he could probably count every freckle, if he had the time, or each thick curved lash around the almond of her eyes. There were centimetres, if that, between their lips – and that’s when his body made the unconscious decision to close the gap.

 

She didn’t pull away. His lips fit into the soft creases of hers, and they both found a rhythm, and, cautiously, he lifted his hands and rested his palms on the soft undersides of her jaw, wanting to capture every part and feeling of a moment he couldn’t bear to end…

 

Present day

Scorpius woke up in a pool of drool, uncomfortably cold and sticky on his lower cheek.

 

For a few delirious seconds, he didn’t know where he was, but the sun-light filtering dust through a thin crack in the curtains revealed his grand childhood room. Two large white columns split his bed chambers from his personal library, to large walls that were covered by bookcases that groaned beneath the weight of the thousands of volumes that had been Scorpius’s only friends as a child. His childhood prior to Hogwarts had been happy but very lonely.

He quickly realised that it was a light rapping at the door that had roused him. He opened it to reveal his father’s house elf, Tildy – and, for some reason, Monique Thomas. The manor, with its black chasmic corridors and empty soulless rooms, was no place for her beauty.

 

“Tildy much apologises for this intrusion, Mr Malfoy, sir, but Miss Thomas would not leave and insisted I bring her to you, sir. She says it’s a matter of life or death, sir.”

 

“Right,” Scorpius said quickly, rubbing the sleep from his eyes, “erm…”

 

“Can I come in?” Al’s fiancé interrupted. Without waiting for him to reply, she slipped past Scorpius into his room.

 

“Erm… it’s fine, Tildy,” Scorpius told the admonished house-elf, “thanks.”

 

She bowed and disappeared with a static crack. Scorpius turned back into his room. Monique had pulled back the curtains, to the protest of his eyes, and was in the process of making his bed, smoothing the silk emerald duvet and tucking it into his mattress.

 

“Sorry, but - do you mind telling me what you’re doing here, in my room, making my bed?” Scorpius asked lightly. Monique sat down on the freshly-made duvet and looked interestedly around his room.

 

“Do you mind telling me where you disappeared off to last night?”

 

The events of the previous night came flooding back. Scorpius grimaced at the memory.

 

“Well, it’s a bit… of a long story, erm…” he trailed off at Monique’s glare.

 

“Do you realise that we were going to throw a party to celebrate our engagement three months ago when Al first proposed? We ended up putting it off until yesterday – a week before the wedding - because Al wanted you to be there.”

 

“I… I didn’t know that.” Scorpius replied, biting his lip, guiltily.

 

“He hasn’t seen you for five years. It’s been very hard for him, because he’s closer to you than anyone else in the world. Has it been hard for you?” She asked in an accusatory tone.

 

“Yes, it has. Look – I get it. I shouldn’t have left without saying goodbye. I’m sorry.”

 

“I’m not the one you should be apologising to.” She snapped. “You need to make it up to him.”

 

“You’re right.” She was still glaring at him so he added, weakly, “I’ll  - take him for a drink tonight.”

 

“No, you won’t.”

 

“Okay. Well… what about tomorrow night?”

 

“Our wedding is in a week, Scorpius. Between final plans and preparations, family events, and the two days for our joint hen and stag getaway in the Lake District… why are you looking at me like that’s new information…?”

 

Scorpius quickly rearranged his features into something less resembling confusion, even though the fact that he’d agreed to join the bridal and groom party in a cabin in the arse end of nowhere for two days had completely slipped his mind.

 

“… between all of the other stuff we’ve got going on, do you seriously think Albus has time to bugger off to the pub with you?”

 

“Erm – no?”

 

“Is that a question or an answer?”

 

“Erm… answer?”

 

“Don’t think I won’t smack you. Because I will.” Monique snapped.

 

Scorpius didn’t doubt it. Monique was usually easy-going and even-tempered, but when it came to fighting for the justice of those she loved, Scorpius wouldn’t have put anything past her. Although not particularly academic, she’d always been gifted with curses; Corbin McLaggen was probably still limping to this day after she hexed him for coming onto Rose and finding it difficult to take no for an answer, whilst she single-handedly took down three sixth-year Slytherins in her third year, because they’d jumped Scorpius and Albus in an unprovoked attack. If you got on Monique’s bad side, you were quite lucky to be able to stay alive to tell the tale. That was why Scorpius quickly closed his mouth and nodded vigorously at nothing in particular.

 

“Tonight it’s Louis’ birthday party. You’re coming.”

 

Scorpius fought the urge to groan. Louis Weasley was a dangerous combination of handsome and hipster. It meant that people listened when he spouted off about bullshit super potions and the carbon footprint of apparation. The party would be full of scary-looking models and painfully thin girls hanging onto him in adoration. It was Scorpius’s idea of hell. But he’d take it over whatever punishment he’d receive from Monique if he didn’t go. And he did owe Albus.

 

“Fine.”

 

Monique pursed her lips.

 

“Settled. I’ll tell Albus you’ll be there. He’ll be thrilled. He’ll need the support - you know how much he can’t stand Louis.”

 

“Him and me both.” Scorpius said, under his breath. Monique stood up and considered him for a few seconds. He flinched in expectation of a jibe or hex, but it never came – in fact, Monique did something remarkable. She grinned.

 

“For what it’s worth, Scor – I really, really hope it works out this time.”

 

He stared at her, blankly, but she obviously knew something he didn’t, because her smile was very meaningful.

 

“Am I missing something?” he asked, hesitantly. Monique rolled her eyes, but her grin didn't shift.

 

“Oh come off it, Scorpius. Yours and Rose’s little disappearing act last night wasn’t exactly conspicuous, was it?”

 

“No - we didn’t – that wasn’t…”

 

“You really didn’t waste any time getting reacquainted with each other, did you?”

 

“No, Rose and I – that’s not what happened,” he said desperately, “we argued a bit, I guess – then she disapparated, and Lily – Lily blamed me for it, and – I disapparated, too.”

 

“Oh.” She looked a bit disheartened. “Well. I’m sure it’ll happen for you. I mean – you spent all your years at Hogwarts hopelessly in love with her, and you tried to stop her wedding. Then when she married Teddy anyway, you were so heartbroken that you left… and now she’s divorced, and you’re single, so…”

 

 He let out a short, sad laugh and shook his head desperately.

 

“Not happening, Monique.”

 

“Why not?!”

 

“Because…” he sighed, “the day Rose married Teddy was a turning point for me, because it was the day I stopped believing that we were ever meant to be together.”

 

“Scorpius, she was getting married. You couldn’t really have expected her to run away from the altar with you – that might happen in those romantic muggle films you used to love so much, but it’s not exactly realistic, is it?”

 

“Yes, well, it wasn’t just Teddy she chose, alright? Time and time again, she picked someone else over me - and I was always there when it failed – I was always available. She took advantage of that, and I can’t blame her for it because she was vulnerable, and I was such an easy form of comfort – but I won’t make that mistake again. I can’t, Monique.”

 

“Don’t you think Rose might’ve been the one making mistakes?” Monique asked, “I mean, I love her to bits, she’s my best friend in the whole world, and she’s a brilliant witch and just as intelligent as her mother, but when it comes to romance, she just doesn’t tend to think with her head. But she deserves someone who won’t break her heart.”

 

“And don’t I?”

 

Monique paused in the doorway without turning.

 

“I suppose. I just think you could be good together.” She considered.

 

“I don’t think I’m good for anyone. And Rose is certainly no good for me.”

 

“I don’t think that’s true. I know that hopeless romantic I knew at Hogwarts is still in there somewhere.”

 

“If by hopeless romantic you mean hopeless at romance, then yes, you’re probably right.” Scorpius grimaced.

 

*

 

“Al-buss S-ever-russ Potter,” Arlo told his reflection as he straightened his tie in the mirror that night, “Al-buss. Al…”

 

The day had gone without any major bumps in the road, even if Rose’s parents evidently didn’t believe that Arlo was her real boyfriend. Rose had told them that Arlo only performed magic when absolutely necessary and, when Hugo and dad asked him if he wanted to play quidditch with them in the orchard, she announced that he’d had a really nasty accident involving skinned testicles and was sworn off the sport – and they had said nothing else on the matter.

“Don’t put so much emphasis on the bus and the rus,” Rose replied casually, patting at her unruly curls in a vain attempt to control them. Arlo sighed heavily and flopped down on the bed beside her.

 

“It’s no use. Albus is a terrible enough name, without the Severus. His mother must have had a really difficult pregnancy or something, to call him something so awful.”

 

Merlin,” Rose hissed, eyes darting around the room as if it was bugged, “don’t go saying stuff like that around the family, okay? Al is named after Albus Dumbledore and Severus Snape, two great wizards who ultimately both died for my Uncle Harry. It’s stuff like this you need to know, because if you went around insulting wizards like that you’d completely alienate yourself…”

 

“I might be a muggle,” Arlo interrupted derisively, folding his arms tightly across his stomach and furrowing his brows, “but that doesn’t mean I’m socially backwards. And you didn’t even tell me about Albus and Severus until just now, so how was I supposed to know?”

 

Merlin. He actually had a point. There was so much he didn’t know. Could they really, honestly pull this off? Could they really fool some of the cleverest witches and wizards of their age into thinking a man – and one who probably didn’t even know what a niffler was – could be a wizard?

 

Shit. Shit. Shit

 

“Are you okay?” Arlo asked nervously, as Rose paced the room. She suddenly felt very hot. Of course they couldn’t do this.

 

“We have to call the whole thing off,” Rose said desperately, fanning herself with her hand, “it isn’t going to work.”

 

“What? Rose, you said so yourself – this is what I’m good at, I’m an actor…”

 

“That doesn’t matter!” She cried, running a hand through her wild locks, “it doesn’t matter if you can act, you don’t know enough, I mean… how are you going to keep up with general conversation when… oh Merlin, oh…”

 

Rose shook her head worriedly, threw herself across her bed and leaned her face over the side, trying to labour her breathing as Arlo stared on, bemused.

“We’ll say we had an argument. A really bad one. You… you cheated. Yes, yes, that’ll get me some sympathy, and…”

 

No.” Arlo said firmly, kneeling on the floor at the edge of the bed and clasping her wrists, “this is happening. You’re going take me out there, and you’re going to parade me around and make this Teddy rue the day he ever left you for your stupid cousin.”

 

“She is stupid,” Rose reasoned, narrowing her eyes into his wooded brown ones, “I just – do you think it’ll work? Do you think people will really believe you’re a wizard? Or that we’re together?”

 

The door creaked open as if on cue, and Rose’s mother peeked her head around the frame. Her eyes fell upon Rose, sat at the edge of the bed, and Arlo, kneeling before her, tenderly grasping her wrists and gazing up into her eyes. Hermione tried to hide her knowing smile but failed.

 

“Sorry for bursting in, I can see you’re having a bit of a moment…”

 

Rose snatched her wrists from Arlo.

 

“…I just wanted to let you know that we’re going to be leaving for Louis’ party a little bit later than planned. There’s been a bit of an incident at the shop – something to do with a pigmy puff and an engorgement charm – so your father’s had to go and sort it.”

 

Hermione rolled her eyes at Arlo as if to say you know how it is. Arlo nodded like he knew precisely what she was talking about. She looked from Arlo to Rose, and sighed happily.

 

“I’m so glad you’re on the mend, darling. I’ve been so worried about you. Thank you, Arlo,” she said, considering her fake sort-of son-in-law, “I finally feel like I might get my little girl back.”

 

She closed the door to before Rose could reply.

 

“Does that answer your question?” Arlo grinned.



Chapter 6: the big reveal
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The Big Reveal

 

Louis’ Soho townhouse was a who’s who of magical royalty. Scorpius wasn’t exactly a stranger to fame himself thanks to his family’s notoriety, but he’d still never seen so many celebrities under one roof. That being said, he was much more content standing on the periphery of the party with Albus, sipping iced water through a straw and wishing he was anywhere else.

 

“Remind me – why are you here again?” Albus asked, glaring across the room at Louis, who had recently decided to start plaiting his goatee and still manage to pull it off. “You know - seeing as you actually had the choice to come?”

 

“I guess I thought I’d spend all the time I could with you before I bugger off again.” Scorpius took another long sip of his drink with a sigh. “Well – that, and your fiancée threatened me.”

 

“Sorry?”

 

A crack resounded through the low-lit living room and an immaculate Victoire and dishevelled Teddy appeared, saving Scorpius from retelling the story of that morning’s rude awakening.

 

Victoire immediately swept Louis into her arms, kissed him on his forehead, and proceeded to shriek at maximum volume about how shocked she was that her little brother was so grown up. Teddy, on the other hand, looked on silently and awkwardly. They were an odd pair, really, and that was probably why it hadn’t worked out when they were younger. Victoire was a vibrant exhibitionist, whilst Teddy was a serious, silent, socially-awkward type. Teddy and Rose - who’d always shied away from the fame that Victoire embraced - made a much better match. Scorpius wondered how long it would be before Teddy realised he’d made a horrible mistake.

 

“Could they not just, like, walk through the front door like everyone else?” Albus muttered.

 

“It’s Victoire,” Lily said angrily. She had reappeared from the kitchen with Monique, and a glass of wine in each hand. “She’s always got to make a grand entrance. Merlin forbid the attention be on someone other than her.”

 

“I hope Rose is still coming tonight.” Monique said wistfully, as Teddy and Victoire disappeared off to the kitchen.

 

“Oh. Yeah, she’ll be here.” Lily said.

 

Scorpius tried not to make any visible reaction to the prospect of seeing Rose again after the awkwardness of the night before, so he held his breath - and proceeded to choke on his ice-water. Albus frowned at him, but the girls didn’t notice.

 

“What makes you so sure?” Monique asked, dubiously.

 

Lily acknowledged that she wasn’t a very good liar, but she couldn’t fall at the first hurdle. Rose’s plan might have been crazy, and very stupid, but it was her own weird way of dealing with things and Lily couldn’t let herself betray her. Ahead of the party, Lily had decided that she would keep a drink in her hand all night. That way, if somebody asked her a question she was uncomfortable answering, she could just have a drink instead. She drained both glasses of wine without pausing, held up a hand – and promptly ran to the toilet. Monique, Albus and Scorpius shared the same puzzled expression.

 

“What do you suppose that was about?” Monique wondered. She didn’t have to wait very long to find out because Hermione, Ron, Rose and Hugo walked through the front door seconds later, and they weren’t alone. A tall, handsome, wiry-haired stranger was with them. And he and Rose were holding hands.

 

*

 

As Rose suspected, her family members were hard to convince of her new relationship.

 

“Boyfriend?” her Grandma Molly repeated confusedly upon introduction to the muggle. “But at your Grandpa’s hip-bone replacement party last week, you told me you were so sick of men that you were considering dating broomsticks instead.”

 

“How do you have a boyfriend? It was only at mine and George’s anniversary last weekend that you snuck into the kitchen, ate the whole cake, cried for three hours about how lonely you were, and vomited all over yourself.” Her Aunt Angelina said sourly.

James just laughed in her face.

 

“Thanks for that, Rosie,” he grinned, pinching her cheek as she scowled at him, “I was having a really bad time at this shitfest of a party, but you’ve really cheered me up.”

 

He wandered off, still chuckling. Monique, Albus and Scorpius stood a little way off. Albus and Monique’s mouths were very slightly open.

 

Scorpius, on the other hand, wasn’t looking at Rose and Arlo at all. His eyes were fixed instead on a particularly scantily-clad woman drunkenly gyrating on top of the coffee table. Rose fought the overwhelming urge to slap him. Or the stupid woman.

 

What was so special about her, anyway? Aside from a magically-enhanced chest, the woman had as much sex appeal as a flobberworm.

 

“Blink three times if you’re being coerced into this,” Albus said by way of greeting, pointing at the couple’s intertwined hands and grinning at Arlo “unless, of course, you’ve been confounded…”

 

“You’re hurting me,” Arlo hissed. Rose realised her nails were digging into his palm. She tore her eyes from Scorpius and the vapid witch who had piqued his interest and let go of Arlo’s hand.

 

“This is Arlo.” she said, trying to keep the contempt from her voice.

 

Albus took Arlo’s outstretched hand.

 

“Nice to meet you, mate,” he said, “I’m Albus Potter.”

 

“Yes, I know who you are, of course,” Arlo said, shaking Albus’s hand excitedly, “it’s great to finally meet you.”

 

“Hi,” Monique said brusquely, turning her eyes to Rose, “can I speak to you for a second?”

 

“I…” Rose stopped abruptly, because Teddy and Victoire had just come back into the room with their drinks, “…just – wait. One moment, I… have to, erm…”

 

She didn’t finish the sentence, because she’d already yanked Arlo’s arm towards her cousin and her ex-husband. Arlo put a hand up apologetically and as they made their way over, Scorpius’s gaze shifted to Rose’s retreating head. Seeing her with another man brought the same feeling it always had. He tried to look quizzical rather than pained, but it was hard to combat the dull ache of envy somewhere deep in his chest.

 

*

 

It was as if in slow motion that Teddy dropped his careless eyes from Rose's face to her fingers, threaded through Arlo’s. The moment he realised what the intertwined hands represented was the same moment his face changed. The dark shadows beneath his eyes seemed to darken to the iris, passing shadows across all of his features.

 

Rose opened her mouth to speak.

 

Nothing came out.

 

Victoire turned her head of glossy blonde locks and saw them standing there. A huge, genuine beam lit up her features. Rose opened her mouth again, but something between her throat and her tongue malfunctioned, and all that came out was a quiet croak. But Arlo saved the day.

 

“Hello, you must be Victoire. Just as beautiful as I remember from Hogwarts.” Arlo said, as calm as Rose was nervous. He squeezed Rose’s shaking hand to comfort her, and in his free hand he swept up Victoire’s dainty fingers and kissed the underside of her palm. Rose swallowed away the bubble in her throat.

 

“And – and this is, erm…” Rose managed shakily, motioning her ex-husband without daring to look at him.

“… Terry, right?” Arlo finished for her.

 

Rose stifled nervous laughter. Whether Arlo had actually forgotten Teddy’s name, or was pulling the typical, “new lover meets old lover and calls him the wrong name to frustrate him” move was irrelevant. It had the desired effect.

 

“It’s Teddy.” Her ex snapped. Arlo squeezed her hand again. Rose managed another breath.

 

“You said you went to Hogwarts,” Victoire said, shooting Arlo a very dazzling smile, “what house were you in?”

 

 “Hufflepuff,” Arlo answered automatically, “I was four years above Rose – and I was fairly quiet, got on with my studies – you probably never noticed me.”

 

“Four years above Rose makes you… four years below me. I was a Hufflepuff, and I don’t recognise you,” Teddy replied, sourly, “what did you say your second name was?”

 

“I didn’t,” Arlo said. A house elf drifted past with a tray of Firewhiskey and Arlo reached for one, betraying nothing of his shock at the sight of the creature. Rose wondered if he’d seen so many strange things in the last twenty-four hours that nothing surprised him anymore.

 

“Where did you two meet?” Victoire asked pleasantly, as Teddy continued to furrow his brows.

 

“Well, we met at Hogwarts initially, of course, then again a few months ago, online.” Arlo replied instantly, studying the Firewhiskey bottle with too much fascination and hesitancy.

 

“And what do you do for work?” she implored.

 

Rose elbowed Arlo and he quickly looked up and added, “I’m on the research team for The Daily Prophet.”

 

“Research?” Teddy interjected. “What does that involve, exactly?”

 

“It involves… well, lots of - research.” Rose said, nervously. Victoire laughed, but Teddy looked unamused.

 

“I mean what sort of stuff do you need to research for a newspaper?” He asked bitterly.

 

“Well – specific dates, names, locations, events – otherwise, well, the newspaper would be full of all sorts of factual errors,” Arlo said, sounding completely as if he knew what he was on about, “it’s a boring job, really, but – it pays the bills, as they say!”

 

“Who says?” Teddy replied, suspiciously.

 

“Well – I – it’s a muggle phrase, I suppose. I’m muggle-born. Grew up hearing that sort of thing a lot.” Arlo said quickly, looking back down at his drink. “What is it you do, erm – Terry, was it?”

 

Teddy.” He interjected, even more furious now. Rose hid her snort with a cough. “I’m on The Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures.”

 

Teddy took a sip of his own drink, his eyes slipping momentarily over to Rose for the first time.

 

“Magical crea…?!” Arlo started, and promptly stopped. More casually, he added, “That sounds – cool. I’ve always had an interest in – in magical creatures.”

 

“They’re interesting until they’re a nuisance.”

 

“Oh, yes,” Victoire grinned, her eyes lighting up, “tell Rose and Arlo about that dragon egg that was sold as a Game of Thrones prop today. A very fiery situation, I must say!”

 

Arlo, who was taking his first sip of firewhiskey, chose that moment to choke – which was perhaps a culmination of the strange burning sensation the stuff left behind, and the confirmation that dragons existed. Luckily, this didn’t arouse too much suspicion, because at almost the exact same time, Louis pranged his wine glass with a spoon and the room fell silent.

 

“Fellows and females, family and friends,” he announced in his droll tone, holding up his hands by way of greeting, “I thank you very kindly for joining me on this, my 21st birthday party.”

 

Albus pretended to vomit; Monique elbowed him and he let out a little yelp, drawing stares.

 

“In lieu of presents, I requested that donations be made, in my name, to a charity that is very close to my heart. Children of Fame helps those born to the celebrity deal with the fame and fortune that the lifestyle brings, but in a healthier, more holistic way.”

This revelation was met with a few sniggers, namely from Louis’ cousins.

 

“I thank you for your contributions. I shall stop talking now. I hope you enjoy the rest of your night. Remain kind and compassionate. Peace out.”

 

The partygoers started to resume their conversations, but Victoire reached for Louis’ glass and tapped it gently.

 

“Vic, what are you doing?” Teddy whispered urgently, grabbing her arm. She wrestled from her fiance’s grip.

 

“Hellooo, everyone - sorry to interrupt you again. Excuse me,” she said graciously, “I’d just like to thank my little brother Lous-Lous for that beautiful speech.”

 

Lily, who had finally reappeared with another bottle of wine, booed. Rose wasn’t the only one to stare. Was her largely teetotal, sensible, drug opposed cousin actually – drunk?

 

“Erm – yes, I, erm… would just like to say that, erm…” Was Victoire actually nervous? “… Teddy and I would like to thank you all for allowing us to come tonight.”

 

“It wasn’t up to us though, was it?” Rose’s Aunt Ginny said, darkly. Rose could have ran over and kissed her. Instead, she beamed over and Ginny returned it with a nod of the head that said ‘I’ve got your back’. 

 

“We are, of course, under no illusions that we’re very well-liked by – well, rather a lot of people in this room, and for that, I’d, erm, like to apologise for the hurt we’ve caused, and…”

 

 “Teddy and Victoire, ladies and gentlemen!” Lily interrupted, swaying on the spot. She fiddled for her wand in the lining of her dress and attempted to make her way over. “Making parties about themselves since 2032!”

 

She finally managed to retrieve her wand and point it at them, but whatever she was going to do, they never found out – because she promptly passed out.

 

*

 

“Well – that must’ve made a nice change of events for you,” James joked to Rose.

 

They’d just said goodbye to Rose’s Aunt Ginny and Uncle Harry, who’d disapparated to care for an unconscious Lily, and the group of them – Rose, Arlo, James, Hugo, Monique and Albus – had dashed for the solitude of the kitchen, where small talk with distant and disliked relatives was less of a possibility.

 

Scorpius had disappeared under the guise of having a cigarette, but Rose was sure he was trying to cop off with that stupid witch he’d been leering at when she arrived. Not that she cared. She wasn’t even going to think about him. He didn’t want her and she didn’t want him, so what was the point?

 

“Shove off, James,” Rose said, lightly, “although I must say – it’s strange being the drunkee, rather than the drunk.”

 

Drunkee?” Albus repeated.

 

“You know,” Rose replied, flapping her arms, “the – drunk attendant.”

 

“Are – are you speaking actual words?” Al asked, bewildered.

 

“Of course I am. Are you drunk, too?”

 

Albus laughed and shook his head at Arlo.

 

“Are you sure you’ve not been confounded?”

 

“No - I confounded her.” Arlo grinned, wrapping an arm around Rose and drawing her close.

James’, Albus’ and Hugo’s faces changed and they all reached for their wands at the same time, but Rose was quicker. She snatched from Arlo and pushed him back, shielding him from her idiotic cousins and brother.

 

“He’s joking, you bloody imbeciles,” she snapped.

 

They all poked their wands back into their clothes, looking embarrassed.

 

“Sorry,” they said in unison.

 

“Erm – yeah. Fine,” Arlo said, visibly shaken. An uneasy silence passed over them, broken only by Monique popping open a bottle of extra-strength wizard champagne. She conjured some glasses and handed them out.

 

“To Rose and Arlo,” she said, although there was a certain sense of sarcasm to her tone, as if she was onto them, “the happy couple.”

 

They all took a sip apart from Arlo, who took a questionable sniff instead and quickly decided against it.

 

“So,” Monique said cynically, taking a large breath after a big sip of her drink, “how long have you two been together, then?”

 

“Not long.” Arlo said, cryptically. They hadn’t really discussed the ins and outs of the relationship because Rose had spent the last day telling him everything she possibly could about the wizarding world, but Monique wasn’t going to stop there.

 

“Not long? Well, come on – that’s not really answering my question, is it?” Neither Rose or Arlo offered an answer, so Monique downed her whole glass of champagne angrily and smacked it down onto the worktop. “It’s obviously been long enough that you felt ready to introduce him to your whole family.”

 

She glared at Rose and stormed off. Rose cursed and made after her; at the door, she turned to her brother, cousins and a bewildered Arlo and muttered, “I won’t be long – don’t curse Arlo, alright?”

 

She caught Monique at the bottom of the stairs. Light chatter from the garden and an acoustic ballad from a muggle stereo drifted through the French doors, but it was empty in the hallway, ideal for a private conversation. Rose decided to just tell Monique the truth about Arlo. She’d find Rose’s plan ridiculous and she’d probably even worry about her sanity, but she’d still be supportive. However, Monique turned on her before she had the chance.

 

“I can’t believe you didn’t tell me you had a boyfriend!” she snapped, “you’re supposed to be my best friend.”

 

“I…” Rose spluttered.

 

“You told Lily though, didn’t you?” Monique continued, glaring at Rose.

 

“Oh – Monique…” Rose trailed off, helplessly, “… look…” she glanced around quickly to check that nobody had come in and was listening, and she said, quietly, “… erm… we haven’t been together long. A couple of weeks, maybe. And… I sort of brought him tonight mainly because I… well – I wanted to make Teddy jealous. I thought you’d try to talk me out of it, to be honest.”

 

“Oh, of course. I'm always there for you - I've been by your side throughout your breakdown - but you still think so little of me, don’t you? You're so unbelievably selfish."

 

“No – Monique,” Rose called, desperately, as her best friend stormed off in the direction of the kitchen, “wait…”

 

As Rose attempted to follow her, Scorpius clambered through the back door and almost knocked her to the floor.

 

“Sorry,” he said quickly, steadying her. The stench of cigarette smoke on his breath was overpowering. His palms were warm, but her shoulders were covered in goosebumps as she pushed them away. Her argument with Monique had left her in a state of anger, and she decided that Scorpius was the perfect person to take it out on. He had, after all, done nothing at all – except lust after somebody who was not Rose, and that was something she just wasn’t used to.

 

“Yeah right.” she snapped.

 

 “Are you okay?” He asked concernedly. She snorted.

 

“Dunno. Is that slag you were leering at earlier okay?”

 

It was a very cheap shot and she was aware that she sounded immature. Scorpius just stared back at her, brows furrowed.

 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Rose.”

 

“Just leave it, Malfoy. You stink, by the way.”

 

He caught her arm as she tried to leave the conversation. His eyes were thin and confused.

 

“What have I done? Is – is this about last night?”

 

“No.” She snapped, wrenching again from his grip. “Believe it or not, I haven’t lost any sleep over the fact that for the first time in history, you rejected me.”

 

“Right.” He said firmly. “Well. There’s not really any need to be…”

 

He trailed off. She glared at him.

 

“What?”

 

He shook his head.

 

Say it.” She retorted.

 

“Fine. Fine. I was going to say – well, there’s no need to be a - a bitch about it.”

 

She clutched at her heart with a sarcastic gasp.

 

“You just called me a bitch. How, possibly, can I go on?” She cried, snidely.

 

“There’s plenty of other things I could call you.” He said sharply. Oh good, he was finally biting.

 

“Go on, then.” She snorted. “I’ve probably heard worse.”

 

“Stop being so childish. You haven’t changed a bit, have you?”

 

“Meaning?” She said, crossing her arms irritably.

 

“Meaning…”

 

She realised that she’d never seen his eyes filled with so much anger, and she knew that what would follow was something he’d been waiting to get off his chest for a while. Bottled up and shaken – and now she’d unscrewed the lid. She waited for the explosion.

 

“After how you treated me - all those years you strung me along, using heartbreak as an excuse whilst knowing full well how I felt about you – humiliating me at your wedding by turning me down in front of all your family and friends, making me look like the bad guy when you were the one who told me that you were confused about marrying Teddy because you loved me too… I thought, naively, that you might feel some sort of remorse. I was wrong. Thank you for showing me that you’re still the same bitter, insecure, twisted cow you’ve always been. Excuse me.”

 

Rose watched him storm away. Tears filled her narrowed eyes, warm until they spilled over their lids and left cold trails on her cheeks. She pushed into the downstairs toilet and collapsed into the basin, where she choked on her sobs, helplessly and dramatically, wondering over and over again how much people would miss her if she were to just disappear. Maybe she could disapparate to some obscure country and live out her days disguised as a muggle. Why did she act the way she did? Why did she let her emotions become her? And when was she going to stop being such a big, bloody, raving, mess?



Chapter 7: forgiveness and felonies
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Forgiveness and Felonies 

Rose woke the next morning to the sound of Arlo retching in the bathroom. She didn’t feel like she’d slept – her eyes were heavy and painful, and her cheeks and throat ached with exhaustion. She wondered how much she’d drank last night – then she remembered the crying, and realised why she felt so much like death. She’d stayed in Louis’ downstairs loo most of the evening, contemplating the sorry state of her life and hanging onto the possibility that Teddy might realise what a massive mistake he’d made and burst in, begging for her back. That never happened, of course.

 

Arlo flushed the toilet and crept back into Rose’s room. He was pale and baggy eyed, but he looked very pleased with himself. His cheerful demeanour made Rose nauseous – and the stench of vomit didn’t exactly help the matter. Arlo noticed she was awake and dropped himself on the bed next to her, taking care not to make any exaggerated movements.

 

“Well – all in all, I think last night went well.” He said, pleasantly.

 

Rose glowered at the memory. By the time she’d eventually dragged herself away from the toilet seat, Albus, Monique, Scorpius, Teddy, and Victoire had left, and she’d entered the sitting room to the sickening sight of party guests taking it in turns to take shots of firewhiskey from Arlo’s bellybutton.

She spent the next few hours of her life in some sort of parallel universe, glaring about soberly as her family members got progressively more drunk. At one point a Weird Sisters ballad prompted Rose’s mother loudly revealed to the entire room that it was the song she lost her virginity to. A sickened Rose had fled to the kitchen, where she discovered Hugo all but having sex on the kitchen counter with the witch that Scorpius had been eyeing up earlier that night, and if all that wasn’t bad enough, James then drunkenly informed her that bagging Arlo was her greatest accomplishment to date.

 

She rolled over and glared at him.

 

“You’re supposed to be helping me make Teddy want me back,” she said irritably, snatching the covers as he tried to pull them over him, “so far, all you’ve managed to do is get my family to fall in love with you.”

 

“You think they like me?”

 

“They like you more than they like me,” she said, darkly, “but that’s not the focus here.”

 

“Wow, seriously…?”

 

Rose scowled at him, and he quickly hid his beam.

 

“… I mean – look, I think – I think we made really good progress last night,” he said optimistically, “for starters, I convinced everybody that we’re in an actual relationship. Plus, didn’t you see Teddy’s face, or hear the things he was saying? He was so jealous of me. And – FYI – Victoire is not as pretty as I thought she’d be.”

 

Rose knew he was just trying to butter her up, but she couldn’t fight the smile that crept across her features. She smoothed the covers back over Arlo’s chest and leaned into the open arm he was offering to her, dropping her head into his shoulder. She stared up at the patterns on the ceiling, contemplatively.

 

“Do you really think he was bothered?”

 

He chuckled.

 

“Definitely. When I called him Terry, he wanted to punch me. Plus, he belittled my job and he made a massive point of not being able to remember me. Those are the actions of a very jealous man.”

 

Rose sat up and grinned at him.

 

“Thanks, Arlo. You’ve - surpassed my expectations.”

 

“Up to now, that’s the nicest thing you’ve said to me.”

 

Somebody knocked on the door.

 

“Come in!” Arlo called, pleasantly.

 

Rose rolled over as the wood creaked open. Monique entered the room sheepishly. A huge slice of chocolate cake and a cup of iced coffee floated after her.

 

“Erm – sorry. I brought you this, Rose,” she motioned the coffee and cake, levitating patiently beside her, “I wasn’t aware you’d be here, Arlo, otherwise I’d have got you something too.”

 

“No problem. I’m nursing the hangover from hell, so…” he trailed off, rubbing his belly.

 

“Oh – are you allergic to hangover potion or something?” She frowned.

 

“Hangov…?” he stopped himself, “…erm, no. Rose?”

 

“Bathroom cabinet, top drawer. Go crazy.”

 

He shifted his weight delicately from the mattress and disappeared off into the bathroom.

 

“What’s this for?” Rose asked, motioning the treats. Monique flicked them towards her with a wave of her wand and Rose clutched them from the air. The coffee was laced with pepperup potion; after just one sip, Rose’s chest filled with a familiar warmth and she suddenly felt much more alert.

 

“It’s an apology.” Monique said, as Rose took a huge bite of the chocolate cake. “I acted terribly last night.”

 

“No – it’s my fault,” Rose said between mouthfuls. “I should’ve told you about Arlo.”

 

“No. Don’t blame yourself. I completely over-reacted. I’m sorry.”

 

Rose grinned widely and opened her arms – Monique leant across the bed and hugged her, despite being a little put off by the chocolate between Rose’s teeth and the brown smears around her mouth. She pulled away gently, and patted Rose’s unruly curls.

 

“Are you ready for your first duty as my maid of honour?”

 

“I’m still maid of honour?” Rose asked, wiping her lips with the back of her hand.

 

“Of course! I’ve got an appointment to get my dress fitted at Madam Malkin’s – do you think you can be ready in ten minutes?”

 

“Well…” Rose said, motioning the lugs in her hair and her pale, puffy features, “… I can have a go.”

 

Arlo threw open the bathroom door and strode back in, looking immensely pleased with himself.

 

“I feel absolutely fantastic, I can’t believe you people actually have…” he shut his mouth quickly as Monique stared bemusedly. “I mean – I’m feeling the same way I always feel after I take hangover potion, because I’ve taken it many, many times before, and I – you know when you sort of, forget, how good a feeling is, like when you haven’t had sex for a while and then you have sex, and…?”

 

“Arlo?” Rose interrupted, shooting a sideways glance at Monique. He shut his mouth with a snap of his teeth. “Monique and I are going out. Maybe you should go - home?”

 

“Nah, I’m fine here,” he replied, flopping on Rose’s bed and clambering for the TV remote on the bedside table, “besides, I’m going out with James and some of his mates later.”

 

“You and James? Since when?”

 

“Since he asked me. We owled a bit this morning while you were snoring your head off.”

 

“Y – you’ve… been owling?” Rose choked.

 

“Yep. Is that – alright, with you?” Arlo asked, looking at her like she’d gone mad. Rose caught Monique staring at her bewilderedly, and she snorted and nodded profusely.

 

“O-of course,” she said, “I’m really happy that you’re getting on so well with my family. Ecstatic. I’m just going to – go and get ready.”

 

This was not part of the plan – and the dread in Rose’s stomach told her that it was not going to end well.

 

*

“Arlo seems nice,” Monique called from behind the curtain, where the seamstress was putting the finishing touches to her dress. Rose sipped her mulled wine, searching for a response.

 

“Yeah. He’s, erm… something.”

 

“How serious is it?” Monique pondered. “Have you invited him on Friday?”

 

“Nice try,” Rose called back, pouting in the mirror like Victoire did in every photo shoot, “I know the wedding is on Tuesday, not Friday. But yeah – he’ll be there.”

 

Wherever Teddy and Victoire showed up, Rose and Arlo would follow. They had both been invited to the wedding just before they ran off with each other and Rose had no doubt they’d still show up, because they were clearly eager to dangle their relationship in her face as much as possible.

 

“I’m not talking about the wedding,” Monique replied, “I’m talking about our hen slash bachelor weekend in the Lake District.”

 

“Oh, shit.”

 

“You forgot, didn’t you?”

 

“I don’t know, Monique, does oh, shit sound like the words of someone who remembered?”

 

“You’re such a sarcastic cow,” she answered, lightly, “but you’re still coming, aren’t you?”

 

“Well, I don’t have anything else to do. And it’s free, so…”

 

“It’s not free, Rose. I booked and paid and you were supposed to pay me back. That was three months ago now.”

 

“Oh. Well, I’m a little bit jobless at the minute, so…”

 

“Hm.” Monique replied, sounding unconvinced. “I tell you what, I’ll cover the cost if you bring Arlo. I should get to know him, if he’s the guy who’s going to get you out of your funk. It’s the least I can do, really, after being so unsupportive last night. You better have got me one hell of a wedding present, though.”

 

Rose decided not to disclose the fact that buying a present for Monique and Albus hadn’t even crossed her mind.

 

“Arlo can’t come,” Rose said decidedly, lifting her glass and gracelessly downing the burning contents, “he has to work this weekend.”

 

“Well, get him out of it!” Monique said, simply. “Your mother’s the minister for magic, so it shouldn’t be that difficult.”

 

“I don’t like using my family connections to get stuff,” Rose declared, pouring herself another glass of wine. Monique snorted.

 

“So all the times you’ve bagged the best table in restaurants, got us into VIP rooms in clubs, let yourself be waited on in bars, allowed people to give you free drinks and food – that wasn’t you using your family connections to get stuff?”

 

“I’m a changed woman now.” Rose replied delicately.

 

“I don’t buy it,” Monique called, “he’s coming, Rose, if I have to march over to The Daily Prophet and drag him out myself.”

 

“Well – well don’t do that,” Rose spluttered, “I – I suppose I can see what I can do, if it’s that important to you.”

 

“It is. He could be my future brother-in-law.”

 

How could he?” Rose laughed.

 

“Oh, yeah,” she said contemplatively, as the curtain pulled back of its own accord and she stepped out, “I always forget Al isn’t your brother.”

Monique’s dress was beautiful. It fitted her perfectly, running tightly to the shape of her hourglass figure. She spun around with her arms wide, so the bell sleeves fell smoothly around her hips. The laced bodice was open at the back, revealing her soft caramel flesh and the curve of her spine; it hugged her round bottom, and then the fabric fell smoothly, as silky as water, down to the floor and in a train a few feet behind her.

 

Rose welled up, feeling simultaneously happy and envious.

 

“You look amazing.” She managed. Monique grinned prettily and opened her mouth to reply, but Albus beat her to it.

 

“I am definitely punching,” he said, from over by the door to the dressing room, beaming like a child in a sweet shop.

 

Rose squealed. They hadn’t even heard anybody come in.

 

“Get out!” Rose shrieked, running towards Albus and shoving him back a little too aggressively, “it’s bad luck to see the bride in her dress before the wedding, everyone knows that!”

 

“Rose, I think the damage is done.” Monique called, but she was smiling. To Albus, she added, “do you really think it looks alright?”

 

Alright?” Albus repeated, in disbelief. He took a few steps towards her, blinking at the sight. “It looks spectacular. I’m – I’m speechless, Mo. You’re absolutely stunning.” He met her with a stride, and took her in his arms. He leaned in and kissed her, then pulled back and quietly murmured, “I can’t wait to marry you. I love you."

 

“I love you too, Al.”

 

Rose realised Scorpius was hovering awkwardly in the doorway – she met his gaze, and quickly looked away. He was half-smiling and half-frowning, and she knew immediately how he was feeling, because she felt the same way. She was happy for Monique and Albus, of course - they’d been together forever it seemed, and their relationship had lasted longer than all of Rose’s efforts at love put together – but she couldn’t help being very envious, too, and a little sick to her stomach. It was so easy for them; there was never a question of whether they would stay together or not, never the possibility that somebody else might suit them better. Rose had never had that security. But still, she was happy. Her tears were joyous ones - on the whole.

 

“Fancy joining Scorpius and me for a couple at The Leaky Cauldron?” Al asked, wrapping an arm around Monique and directing the question at Rose, who quickly concealed her tears with a fake yawn. “We’ve got our suits from Drax’s, bought the centre-pieces, and been and sorted out the wedding cake – and Scor’s not set foot in The Cauldron since that fateful night four years ago when James dared him to perform a strip routine to the whole pub.”

 

“Wasn’t that the night before Rose’s…?” Monique very quickly stopped herself, cheeks pink.

 

The night before Rose’s wedding, she was going to say – when Scorpius had turned up at Rose’s, half-naked and completely unannounced. Rose had been really stressed because she’d just found out that the venue had somehow been double-booked, and the caterers had dropped out, and she and Teddy had had this massive bust-up over where they were going to live once they were married, and she wasn’t even sure there was going to be a wedding anymore…

 

She let Scorpius in, of course.

 

“Yeah, fine.” Rose said. Her ears were very hot; she was glad they were hidden so well by her hair. She had the very sudden desire for a proper drink.

 

*

It had been a while since Rose had been inside The Leaky Cauldron. She practically lived there in her youth; it was the only place she could get served alcohol prior to her seventeenth birthday (Hannah Abbott was very easy to manipulate) and the drinks were free (Neville nor his wife would ever hear of payment, not from a Weasley). She was hit by a wave of nostalgia as they walked through the back door; that familiar smell of home-made food, mixed with ancient spilt alcohol, dust, and old wood.

 

“I’ll go and get the drinks,” Rose told them, mainly because she knew she wouldn't be expected to pay for them. Hannah, a robust, rosy-cheeked woman, beamed at her as she approached and, as Rose had anticipated, refused her money. The four pints levitated behind her as she made her way back to the table, where the conversation abruptly ended.

 

“Talking about me?” She asked jokingly. Nobody spoke, and she realised that she’d probably been right. She dropped Monique’s wine, Al’s brandy, and Scorpius’s butterbeer clumsily in front of them. Scorpius shifted quickly to let her sit down and stared at his drink.

 

“What’s this?”

 

“A peace offering?” Monique asked, hopefully. Rose and Scorpius both looked at her, and she coughed very obviously. “You know, I am just desperate for a wee. Join me, Al?”

 

“Yeah, I’m alright th…” he choked on his pint; Monique had kicked him underneath the table. “…yeah. Yeah, I’ll come with you, for a 'wee.'"

 

Albus watched his pint longingly until they turned into the corridor that led to the loos and disappeared from sight. Rose leaned across the table, but Scorpius wasn’t looking at her.

 

“Aren’t you going to have a drink?” She asked, pointedly.

 

“I don’t drink anymore.”

 

“It’s butterbeer.” She said, having a sip of her own firewhiskey and coke.

 

He had some, hesitantly, and came away with froth on his top lip. Rose resisted the strange urge to wipe it with her sleeve.

 

“Lip.”

 

“Oh.” He rubbed his mouth. “Cheers.”

 

Monique’s transparent attempt to make them reconcile after last night’s events had worked. She stared at her drink, contemplating how best to broach the subject.

 

“I…” she said, at the same Scorpius muttered, “…so…”

 

“Sorry,” Rose added, at the same time Scorpius said, “you go.”

 

“Last night, eh?” Rose said nervously.

 

“The night that we had last.” Scorpius said, in agreement, taking another gulp of his drink to avoid her eyes.

 

Rose fought her laughter. This needed to be a serious conversation.

 

“I was horrible.” She added.

 

“Yeah.”

 

“You’re not supposed to say yeah.”

 

He shot her a clumsy grin, and she returned it and added, “I’m just all over the place at the minute – not that I’m excusing myself, it’s just – you are the last person I should take it out on. Anyway, I’m sorry. You didn’t deserve it.”

 

He looked at her steadily as he sipped the remainder of his butterbeer and, not for the first time, she wondered what thoughts were ticking away behind those steely grey eyes. He coughed uncomfortably, and Rose realised she was staring a little too intently.

 

“Yeah,” he said quickly, staring down at the long slim fingers around his glass, “Well, I lost my cool a bit last night, and you didn’t deserve that, either, so…” he lifted his eyes, briefly, and added, “I’m sorry, too.”

 

She grinned at him and he shot her a reserved smile back.

 

“Another butterbeer? Or something a little bit stronger?”

 

He hadn’t realised that he’d drained the half-pint glass. He ran the tip of his index finger through the froth around the rim, a bit hesitantly.

 

“Erm… I don't know...”

 

“Oh, come on! This is probably the last chance we’ll get to hang out at The Leaky Cauldron as just the four of us. Monique and Al are getting married – you’re leaving the day after the wedding… and you know that by the time you finally decide to come home again they’ll probably have a couple of kids, and by that point their social life will be non-existent.”

 

She could tell from his awkward smile that he was contemplating it.

 

“It’ll be just like old times,” she said encouragingly, “you can get absolutely off your face and perform some old musical number to a street full of confused muggles…”

 

“That happened one time,” he interjected, trying and failing to look disapproving. 

 

“And I’ll illegally apparate you home and try to convince your father that we’re both completely sober, whilst you come up behind him and try to get him to give you a piggy back ride…”

 

She and Scorpius both laughed out loud at the memory of the usually refined Draco Malfoy, red-faced and trying and failing to get his son off his back, as the sixteen-year-old Scorpius made horse noises and told his father to giddy up. The giggling ceased when their eyes met. His gaze was a lot softer than before, eyes warm despite their icy appearance.

 

Rose drained her drink, shot Scorpius a wink, and ordered two more. By the time Monique and Albus finally made a reappearance, they were on their third round, and Mo and Al ordered enough to catch up. The rest of their time at The Leaky Cauldron that afternoon, and well into the evening, was filled with drunken reminiscence, raucous laughter and, for Rose at least, the long-since felt warmth that came with having a decent night out with fantastic friends.

 

*

“Well,” Al announced drunkenly, as the four of them stepped out onto the swiftly darkening muggle street on the other side of The Leaky Cauldron, “I suppose I’ll see you both on Friday.”

 

“What’s happening on Friday?” Rose joked. Monique dragged her into a hug that almost suffocated her. With a hand still tight on her best friend’s shoulder, Mo pulled away and stared at her, hard in the eyes.

 

“Eight a.m. portkey,” Mo said sternly, her gaze a little tired and bloodshot from the booze, “don’t you dare miss it. And don’t you dare arrive without that loverboy of yours.”

 

Albus and Scorpius shared a very unsteady hug and Al muttered something in Scorpius’s ear; Rose thought she caught her name, but she was too high on alcohol and happiness to care. Al pulled her into his arms and told her to stay safe; his very James-like grin disappeared into the throng of muggles moving towards her and Scorpius, who were now alone and drunk – a perilous combination.

 

“I should – get going, I s’pose,” Scorpius said, his usual eloquence lost to a slight slur, “what’re you doing now? Guess you’ve got to get back to your boyfriend, right?”

 

“Boyfriend?” Rose repeated thoughtlessly. The afternoon’s events had made her forget all about her little set-up with Arlo. “Oh! Yeah! Him! Nah. He’s, erm – out with James and his mates, actually,” she remembered. The fact that Arlo might fail to keep up the act didn’t actually bother her as much as it would have done any other night. "So, yeah, I've got nowhere to go, really. What about you?”

 

“Just a night in at Malfoy Manor for me,” he said, slowly, “I s’pose I should find somewhere to disapparate from.”

 

“I’m not sure,” Rose said quickly, “I mean, it would be quite irresponsible to disapparate in your state. You know, my parents' house isn't too far. Maybe you could floo home from there?”

 

“Or I could just go back in the pub and floo it from there?” He replied, dumbly. It took him a few seconds to catch the meaning of Rose’s pursed lips and loaded stare. He backtracked. “Or – you know – I could, like, walk you home? And then floo it from your house?”

 

“What a great idea,” Rose teased, as they set off left without a moment’s thought, “how did you think of that all by yourself?”

 

“How did you not think of it? You were, after all, voted Hogwarts' class of 2024’s most likely to succeed.”

 

“How can you still be so bitter about that?!” Rose giggled, nudging him with her shoulder as they dodged down an alley and came out onto another identical London street.

 

“I’m not bitter – I just think it was a conspiracy. I was easily better than you at – well – everything.”

 

“Hm. Tell that to my NEWT results, which spelt OOOOO. What did yours spell, Malfoy?”

 

“Oeooo.” He said, quietly.

 

“Hm. What was that?”

 

“OEOOO!” He shrieked. A group of passing muggle youths copied him and started cheering. Rose burst out laughing. Scorpius tried to keep up the sour act, but was finding it difficult not to smile. “I was only 2 marks off an O in Defence, though.”

 

“Doesn’t change the fact I beat you.” Rose smirked. “Fat lot of good my grades did me anyway. Look at me now – twenty-six, divorced, practically unemployed, and living with my parents.”

 

Scorpius searched for a way to comfort her.

 

“When people ask for my home address, I have to tell them I’m of no fixed abode.” He said, a bit weakly.

 

“That’s only because you don’t stay in one place long enough to live there,” Rose snorted. She sighed. “Going from country to country, meeting all sorts of interesting people, uncovering ancient history and breaking age-old curses… it’s hardly the worst job in the world, is it?”

 

“It’s very lonely,” Scorpius said contemplatively, as they found themselves on a quiet residential street lined with five-storey grey terraces, “I meet a lot of people, yes, but then I move on. I don’t have any friends, and I leave every new place as I come - alone.”

 

Rose smiled at him sadly. Their eyes met, and she carefully slid her fingers through his, her heart beating rapidly. She fought the urge to tell him how much she’d missed him – how frequently she’d thought of him over the last four years; how many times she’d started writing to him and ripped up her efforts, unable to find the right words. She breathed sharply in an attempt to fight the heavy thudding in her chest.

 

“Still – I bet you get to stay in some of the most gorgeous hotels.” She managed instead, quickly slipping her hand from his and staring hard down the street.

 

“Sometimes I do,” Scorpius murmured, glancing down at the place Rose’s fingers had just been, “other times – not so much.”

 

“What’s the weirdest place you’ve stayed in?” Rose challenged him. She didn’t dare look him in the face; she had the desire to take it in his hands, run her palms along the lengths of his bristled jaw-line, and pull his lips to hers. The scent of his aftershave took her back to their sixth-year lesson on amortentia.

 

She hadn’t been able to meet his eye back then, either.

 

“Inside a whale carcass,” Scorpius offered. Rose burst out laughing, happy for the distraction.

 

“I wondered what that smell was!” Rose giggled. He laughed, and she added, “I don’t know if I want to know the answer, but – how did you end up sleeping inside a whale carcass?”

 

“I got ambushed by mermaids, hid out in the whale carcass, and fell asleep. Whales have a tendency to steal and eat mermaid young, and as a result, mermaids don’t even go near the dead ones. Maybe it’s because they’re very superstitious, but – and it's strange, really, and not a lot of people know this, but… Rose?”

 

They’d stepped out onto another residential muggle street, this one filled with straight, brown-bricked terraces with identical white doors, garages, and curved Juliet balconies. Whilst Scorpius had continued to walk and chat, Rose had fallen behind, and it was clear that she wasn’t listening. Instead she was staring up, a little open-mouthed, at the black-lettered street sign hammered to the first house. Scorpius took a few bewildered steps towards her – and then realised where he was. It had been just over four years since he’d been here last; still, he followed the curb, counting the house numbers as he passed, until he reached number 23, with its lion doorknocker. Rose appeared at his side, and glanced up at the second-floor window, which was yellow with the warmth of light.

 

“My first flat,” Rose muttered, frowning up at where her ex and the cousin he left her for must have been sitting, “this was my favourite place in the world when I bought it. And then they tainted it.”

 

“What do you mean?” Scorpius asked. He suddenly felt much more sober, and sombre.

 

Rose took a deep breath. She still couldn’t look at him.

 

“I told Victoire she could come and stay with us for a bit. Her modelling work had dried up, she was struggling to pay her bills and too proud to ask the family for help… I felt sorry for her. I was just trying to be nice.”

 

“And she repaid you by nicking your husband?” Scorpius replied, bitterly. Rose shrugged, but didn’t reply. “But if it was your flat, why didn’t you stay?”

 

“They ruined its memory,” she said quickly, taking a few steps forward and tenderly running her hands over the brickwork, “I couldn’t bear to remain living there after what they did. So, he got the house, and he got the car I bought, and he got to be happy. And I got to be… well…”

 

She trailed off and shook her head quickly, voice thick with tears. Scorpius cursed quietly, and carefully wrapped an arm around her back, pulling her head into his shoulder so that her hair tickled his lips. As he squeezed her upper-arm, tenderly, Rose sighed and her eyes fell upon the garage. Scorpius watched her eyes narrow determinedly, as the plan formed in her head. She pulled carefully away and took a few steps towards the square door.

 

“What are you doing?” He asked her, concernedly, although he was sure he already knew. She ruffled through the pocket of her jeans and retrieved her wand.

 

“Taking what’s mine.” She said, firmly. She muttered the silencing spell and, with a flick of the wand, the door to the garage moved soundlessly up and inwards.

 

Rose,” he hissed, as she stepped inside and the garage filled with brilliant green light from the end of her wand, “if you’re doing what I think you’re doing, it’s a very bad idea…”

 

She ran her fingers over the sleek gun grey surface of the sports car’s roof, and peered in through the tinted windows at the familiar interior. She could almost smell the leather of the low-slung seats and hear the eager thrum of the engine. She’d never driven it – it had been Teddy’s gift from her, after all – and she had never really had any desire to drive it either, until now. Why should he get the house, the happy ending and the car Rose had dumped a large part of her savings into?

 

“Keep a look out, okay?” Rose murmured to Scorpius, as she murmured alohomora and slipped into the driver’s seat. Scorpius groaned, made sure the street was empty, and ducked into the garage.

 

“Rose, please, let’s go…”

 

“Do you have any idea how to magically hotwire a car?” She interrupted, frowning down at the steering wheel as if it would give her all the answers.

 

“I don’t… I don’t even know what you’re talking about.” He said, shooting another worried glance into the street.

 

“If only my Grandpa Weasley was here right now… do you think he’d come by if I asked him?”

 

“No, Rose. I don’t think your Granddad would travel from Devon to London, at almost eleven p.m., to help you steal your ex-husband’s car.”

 

“You’re right,” she said thoughtfully, “I suppose it is quite late…”

 

“No!” Scorpius hissed, “you’re just being mental. Please, Rose – let’s go, before he hears you…”

 

“I’m going to have to go into the house and get the keys,” she interrupted, clearly not listening, “can you help me break down the wards?”

 

“No!” His protest was a little louder than he’d intended – a cat burst from a nearby bush at the sound, screeching fearfully. Rose stared up at him, dumbfounded. He sighed. “Rose, this is madness."

 

He sighed and dropped to a crouch, so that the two were at eye-level with one another. “Look – I get why you want to do this, but he’s just not worth getting in trouble for. Neither of them are.”

 

“But it’s not fair.” She breathed, staring hard at her feet on the pedals. “I need to do something, I – I can’t stand it, Scor, knowing that they won.”

 

“And what was their prize?” He murmured kindly, “he cheated on you with your own cousin. Their whole relationship is meaningless. Nobody will ever value that. They haven’t won anything, Rose, and thank Merlin you found out what he was really like before you wasted your life being married to him.”

 

Rose stared at him, breathlessly. He was right, of course he was. Scorpius had always had a miraculous ability to influence other people to see the truth in a situation – alongside his aptitude with magical creatures and spell-work, it was what she admired most about him. She looked back at the steering wheel, and was almost convinced, when she remembered what was inside her handbag.

 

“Of course!” she cried excitedly. She yanked at the zip and tipped the bag’s contents onto the passenger seat. She pulled the keys from a mountain of biscuit crumbs, owl treats and old shreds of paper, and held them up triumphantly. “I’m so glad I never empty that bag. Come on, Scor.”

 

He groaned. Rose fumbled for the ignition, poking the key about randomly until it slipped easily into the lock. She turned it, and the engine rumbled to life. She grinned at Scorpius.

 

“Get in!”

 

“I…” he shook his head. He knew he’d be fighting a lost battle if he tried to protest any further. If he couldn’t stop her, he supposed he’d have to join her.

 

“Do you even know how to drive?” Scorpius asked nervously, as Rose stared down at the pedals and tried to remember which was which.

 

“Course. Got a license and everything.” She neglected to add that she hadn’t driven since her test nine years before. She was sure it would be like getting back on a bike. A 1.5 tonne bike, that was, with an engine powerful enough to reach speeds of sixty miles an hour in less than three seconds.

 

Begrudgingly, Scorpius swept the passenger seat of the contents of Rose’s handbag and slipped in beside her. Rose revved the engine. The sound was deafening – any moment now, Teddy would come bursting in and catch them in the act.

 

“If we’re going, we need to go now!” Scorpius cried, in a panicked tone.

 

“It’s not moving,” Rose said calmly, “I keep putting my foot on the go-pedal, but it’s not going anywhere. Oh – the trigger thing. Silly me.”

 

She released the handbrake and the car shot forwards much more quickly than she had anticipated, tyres squealing on the tarmac. Rose veered the wheel to the right, very narrowly missing the houses opposite, and the vehicle spun on the spot, dragging up bits of dust and stone. Scorpius glanced back over at the house; the light from the hallway illuminated Teddy’s figure in the doorway as he scrambled through his pockets for his wand.

 

“Bloody drive!” Scorpius screamed, adrenaline bursting through his veins. “Merlin’s gaping arsehole, Rose, put your foot down!”

 

She floored it and the car hurtled down the street and straight through oncoming traffic, just missing a bus that came to a stop mere inches from the side of the sports car, which was now heading for a collision with a telephone box. Swearing, she yanked the wheel sideways and they teared into the path of more traffic. This time, they weren’t as lucky; a car clipped their back wheel and sent them careering through an assortment of bollards and traffic cones and towards Wellington Arch, as shocked civilians leapt out of the way. Scorpius grabbed the wheel and managed to swerve; Rose finally found the brake, and the car slowed but skidded towards the Equestrian Statue of the Duke of Wellington. The bonnet didn’t make contact with the memorial stone at any great speed, but the brunt of the force was enough to deploy Rose’s airbag and send the Duke’s groaning statue hurtling to the ground. Before a crowd could gather, quick-thinking Scorpius yanked Rose’s hand and disapparated; their feet connected with the ground outside of Rose’s parents’ house, and they both fell to their bottoms on the pavement, gasping for breath.

 

It was at least a minute before either of them could speak, and another good thirty seconds before Scorpius could even find the words to express his fury, now that the panic and then the relief had both subsided. Just as he was about to start yelling, Rose began to giggle.  

 

“Oh – my – god,” she gasped, “that - was – amazing!”

 

Amazing?!”  Scorpius repeated furiously, “we nearly bloody died!”

 

“Don’t be so dramatic,” she grinned. He glared at her, cheeks bright red and wet with the thin sheen of sweat. “Goodness! Look at you, Scor – anyone would think you’d just been in a car crash!”

 

“You’re not funny.” He pulled himself to his feet and dusted off his skinny jeans. “That was so irresponsible. So immature. I mean for Merlin’s sake, you’re twenty-six, not sixteen.”

 

“Hold on,” she said, his words like a whip across her chest. She stood up too; he was only a couple of centimetres taller than her, and their eyes were on a level as she moved in closer, a frown contorting her features. “You didn’t have to get in the car with me. But I forget that you’re incapable of saying no.”

 

“Are you out of your mind?!” He yelled; they were so close that she could feel the heat of his breath on her lips. “If I hadn’t been there to take the steering wheel off you back then, you’d have hit the Duke of Wellington Arch doing near enough sixty miles an hour, flown through the car windscreen, and fucking died.”

 

“Erm, how do you work that out, genius?!” Rose retorted, leaning in even closer, “I’d have been rushed to St Mungo’s and let out again with a full bill of health ten minutes later.”

 

“How – how is that the point?!” He shrieked, clasping at his forehead, “why would you risk it? Why would you…?”

 

She kissed him. Partly to shut him up, but largely because she couldn’t stop herself from doing it any longer. He grabbed her shoulders with the intent of pushing her away, but his lips acted of their own accord, moving eagerly against hers. She tightened her grip around his forearms and he lifted her into him, grabbing onto her bottom as her legs fell around his sides and her hands draped around his neck. She could feel his heart, beating uncontrollably in the cage of his ribs, against her own furiously pounding chest. She dropped her lips to the hot, tender skin of his neck, and he sighed at the touch, moving his nose to the crook of her neck.

 

“Rose…” he muttered, as her hands moved across his stomach and lower, “… I can’t…”

 

“Yes, you can…” she whispered confidently, lifting her lips to his again.

 

This time, he pulled away, easing her feet gently to the floor. His cheeks were flushed and eyes dark with lust. She stared at him, heart still thudding with the heat of the moment. He seemed to be struggling to find his voice again and when he did finally speak, the words were slow and dumb.

 

“It’s hard enough not to when I’m sober, Rose.”

 

She stared at him, face hot. “What do you mean?”

 

He took a step back from her and shook his head.

 

“Nothing. See you Friday.”

 

“Wait…”

 

He disapparated. Trembling, Rose reached for her bag – and swore. She’d left it in Teddy’s car. Along with her wand. And her muggle ID.

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Sorry for the long absence to those of you still keeping up with this story - I've been staying with relatives in Greece for the last month, because I decided I'd earned the break after finally finishing my teaching degree in July! 

 

I got a little bit carried away with this chapter - it's almost twice as long as usual - but I hope that's a good thing :)

 

Until next time,

Magishan <3

 

 



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