Lucy was exactly two minutes early for work the next morning. She had sacrificed doing her hair in order to keep Rose happy and now she sat in her cubicle, furiously running a brush over her head. She had her father’s colour and her mother’s texture – thick, with curls that refused to do what they were told. Giving up and accepting she would have to spend the day looking like she’d been dragged through a hedge, Lucy tossed the brush onto her desk, where it bounced once, collided with her mug of take-away latte and knocked over her ink bottle.
She watched in dismay as the puddle of black seeped quickly across her desk. “No, no, no,” she hissed at it but the ink ignored her, inching towards the edge. Lucy took out her wand and was just about to Vanish the mess when it disappeared on its own. Startled, she glanced up in time to see Teddy slide his wand back into his jacket.
He had blue hair today, and a blue shirt. His hair matched his shirt exactly and Lucy stared at him a moment, trying to figure out why someone would match their hair to their shirt, or their shirt to their hair. She didn’t know which had come first – had he dressed and then changed his hair, or had he woken up, decided blue was the order of the day, and then found a shirt.
“Lucy? Are you okay?”
She felt her cheeks singeing. “Blue...it looks good on...”
“Oh no, thank you, for, you know...the ink,” Lucy gushed, her words tumbling over one another as her feet were often want to. She was mortally embarrassed and certain her face resembled a terrified tomato. Teddy flashed a strained grin.
“I would assume so – she’s probably been in since dawn, you know, just in case,” Lucy quipped and then slapped a hand over her mouth. She probably shouldn’t say things like that about her boss to her boss’s boyfriend, if that was indeed what Teddy was. She’d never even seen them kiss, or touch, or anything.
Maybe that was just Rose’s style – public displays of affection were well and truly messy and therefore not suitable for someone with Rose’s reputation.
Cut it out, Lucy told herself, you sound like Dom.
“Try her office,” Lucy suggested weakly, but Teddy was already walking away. She sighed and decided she’d better do something productive with the day, so she Owled Hogwarts and outlined her wish to speak with their Head students. She then spent half an hour at her desk looking busy, getting up twice to sneak past Rose’s office. The door was closed and by the time she had received a reply from the school – the Hogsmeade weekend was two days away – Teddy had left and Rose was shouting at Herbert about his Malfoy Industries article.
“Cow,” Herbert muttered as Rose stalked away. He caught Lucy’s eye over the top of the partition and gave her a watery, apologetic smile. She smiled back, hoping to illicit some sort of conversation, but he would not look at her again. Annoyed, she sat back and put her feet up on her desk, hating the fact that she was related to the boss. It meant no one in the office wanted anything to do with her, or so she told herself.
In reality, it was possibly the fact that she was a walking disaster. If a tsunami hit the coast it would be her fault.
All Dom could do at lunch was theorise about why Teddy had seemed worried the previous night.
“Perhaps he’s realised how completely wretched Rose is and is trying to work out how to break up with her.”
“I really don’t think it’s that, Dom – he was in the office this morning,” Lucy said, sipping at her coffee.
Dom scowled. “Well, I’ve got nothing else.”
“Don’t you think it’s time you found someone else to lust after?” Lucy asked tentatively. As much as she loved Dom, her cousin scared her sometimes, especially when it came to men. To say Dom was a stalker was going a bit far, but she did possess stalker-ish tendencies, if lurking outside a guy’s house for most of the night could be called stalker-ish. She had been, she assured Lucy, just making sure Teddy was okay after he broke up with Victoire.
“Oh my god,” Dom whispered suddenly. “Don’t look.”
Lucy, of course, twisted in her seat, peering around and trying to see what had caused Dom to look so excited suddenly. She didn’t have to look far – Teddy, with his blue hair, was unmistakable and was sitting only a few tables away, near the window. He was alone and he kept glancing out the glass.
“Do you think he’s meeting someone?” Dom asked in a low, scornful voice.
“Unless he dines alone I would say that he is,” Lucy answered, still watching Teddy. They didn’t have to speculate for long – the door opened and Scorpius Malfoy strode into the cafe, a look of disdain on his pale face. Lucy felt oddly offended – the cafe was her favourite and had been for years. It wasn’t posh or up-market like anything Malfoy would be used to, but it was still nice. The food was good, the cake better and the coffee to die for. She turned back to Dom and scowled.
“That’s odd,” Dom said, chewing her lip. “Why is he meeting Malfoy?”
“They are related, remember?” Lucy said. “They might just be catching up or something.”
“Okay, but what is he doing here then?” Dom hissed. Lucy shrugged, still annoyed.
“Maybe he’s decided to slum it.”
Dom shook her blonde head so fast her face blurred. “No, not Malfoy, Louis!”
Lucy spun around so fast so felt something in her neck pinch. Scorpius had sat down next to Teddy, still with that slightly appalled look on his face, and now Louis was lounging in a chair, his strawberry blonde hair everywhere and his clothes looking rumbled and careworn.
“That is odd,” Lucy agreed. She moved her chair around to Dom’s side of the table so she could watch the three men. “Louis looks -”
“Terrible. He is not my brother until he finds a brush and washes his clothes,” Dom declared in a whisper, picking up her coffee and taking a long sip. “Why is he hanging out with Malfoy?”
“Why is he hanging out with Teddy? I thought he punched Teddy in the mouth when he left Vic,” Lucy whispered.
Dom stood up, startling Lucy. “I’m going to find out,” she announced. Lucy pulled her back down.
“Leave it, have another piece of cake, just don’t make a scene.”
Dom rolled her eyes but did as she was told. “Fine, but when my brother leaves, I’m following him and you can’t talk me out of it. You’ll have to disillusion me though – the last time I tried to cast that spell on myself I ended up a floating head and one foot.”
“I am not enabling your strange obsessions,” Lucy muttered, but she knew she’d do it. She was such a pushover. Maybe Rose and her father were right – she would never make it in the world.
Teddy glanced up and caught Lucy’s eye. For a moment, she thought he was going to ignore her but he gave her a weak smile – the sort of smile people give when they realise they’ve been seen but don’t want to encourage any form of communication. Louis turned his head, saw his sister and cousin and rolled his eyes in a very Dom-like way, before he scowled. A second later, Scorpius had given the girls the sort of look Lucy wanted to scratch off his face before he turned his nose up and blatantly ignored them.
Dom opened her mouth, possibly to yell something at Scorpius, but her jaw snapped shut and her eyes narrowed as the door swung open. Lucy glanced across the room almost fearfully, expecting to see Rose coming to rain hell on her head for something or another. It had happened before so it was perfectly logical that it should happen again, and in a public place nonetheless.
Lucy watched as Arabella Greengrass sauntered into the cafe. Like Scorpius, she wore an unimpressed expression as her eyes slid around the little shop. She saw Lucy and Dom and made a show of running her fingers through Louis’ messy hair. Her blue eyes touched on Dom’s face briefly before she bent and gave Louis a lingering kiss.
“Cow,” Dom hissed.
“She might actually like him,” Lucy said softly, watching as Arabella, tall and ridiculously slim, folded herself into a chair, flicking a length of black hair over her very stylish shoulder. Lucy knew Madam Malkin’s tailor-made everything for people like Arabella Greengrass, who would never buy off the rack.
Arabella laughed happily, resting a slim hand on Louis’ knee.
“We’re going,” Dom announced. She shovelled the last of her cake into her mouth, wiped the crumbs from her lips and threw some money on the table, slinging her bag over one shoulder. She stood up, hauling Lucy to her feet roughly and marched towards the door, one hand wrapped dangerously tight around Lucy’s forearm. As they passed Teddy’s table, Dom gave everyone a glower.
Scorpius raised an eyebrow. “Something wrong with your face, Weasley?”
Dom reached into her bag and Lucy panicked; she lunged across at Dom, tripping over her feet in her haste and crashing into Louis’ chair. He yelled, jumped up and she found herself falling, the table, mugs of coffee and mountains of chocolate rising to meet her. She groaned and closed her eyes, thinking how typical it was that she would spend the next twenty minutes pulling cake from her hair and picking icing from her eyelashes.
A pair of arms closed around her and she opened her eyes with a squeak. Her nose was touching the top of a piece of chocolate cake and the end of her ponytail was dangling in someone’s coffee.
Lucy nodded, letting Teddy set her on her feet.
“You have icing on your nose,” he said, and handed her a napkin.
“Thanks,” she muttered, wiping her face furiously, not looking at anyone. She could hear Arabella snickering and Scorpius was doing nothing to hide his amusement. Without another word, Lucy turned and left the cafe, grabbing Dom on the way and dragging her into the street outside.
The two girls looked at each other.
“You should have let me curse him,” Dom said eventually. Lucy sighed and shook her head.
“Your parents would hate for you to get arrested again,” she mumbled.
“I guess,” Dom said with a frown. “Hey, let’s go out tonight.”
“I have to work tomorrow,” Lucy muttered, attempting to tidy her hair. Dom took out her wand and did it for her, smiling broadly – the sort of smile that meant she wanted something. Lucy groaned.
“So do I, but who cares right? Come on, just a few drinks and that’s it – no painting the town red or anything.”
Lucy narrowed her eyes, searching her cousin’s face critically for any signs of ulterior motives or sneaky plans. Dom’s eyes widened and her expression became so imploring Lucy wondered had she been taking lessons from Victoire’s new puppy.
Dom hugged her, barked out a time and location and disapparated, leaving Lucy standing on the street corner. She sighed and glanced back at the cafe in time to see Teddy step outside. He met her gaze and she had a moment to register the slightly harassed expression on his face before he disapparated.
Frowning and chewing her lip, Lucy trudged back to work.
“I do not need another drink.”
“Trust me, with a face like that, drinking is the best option for you at the moment,” Dom said, sitting back and slurping her very pink, very potent plum daiquiri.
“Ugh,” Lucy groaned, letting her head fall into her hand. “I feel terrible. My head hurts.”
Dom looked personally wounded. “It’s only nine o’clock. You cannot be pulling out on me now.”
Lucy sighed and shook her head. “Why are we here again?” She looked around. The Hogs Head was full of the usual clientele – a vampire sat in the far corner chatting to what Lucy thought was an ogre, while at the bar, a group of very drunk young jut-out-of-Hogwarts wizards were arguing with a group of equally drunk Ministry employees, and Lucy was certain she’d seen a werewolf lurking around outside, although Dom told her she was being ridiculous.
“Because,” Dom answered swiftly. “I am spying on my brother.”
Lucy blinked. “Louis isn’t even here,” she hissed. “I’ve got a killer headache for no reason!”
Dom rolled her eyes and pushed her ponytail back over her shoulder. “Fine, but Daniel hasn’t stopped looking over here since we walked in,” she added meaningfully. Lucy scowled, her eyes moving towards the bar against her will. Daniel, her hapless DVD-loving date from the weekend, was looking harassed as he tried to mediate the loud alcohol fuelled debate unfolding in front of him. As she watched, he glanced at her and she blushed, turning her eyes away and glaring at her cousin.
“I’m going home,” Lucy announced.
“No, wait,” Dom pleaded.
“Fine, I’m going to the loo and then I’m going home.” Lucy picked up her bag and edged her way through tables and bodies towards what passed as the women’s loo. She tried not to touch anything while in there, not liking the grime that covered every surface, and fixed her hair slowly, giving herself a moment to think. Her brain was bubbling away like something Dom cooked up at work and her skin was paler than usual. She pinched her cheeks, gasped at the pain and shouldered her bag, thinking she should just leave and not bother saying goodbye to Dom.
She was too nice though, and picked her way back to their table, only to find Dom standing waiting for her, practically hopping on the spot. “Louis is here, with Teddy,” she whispered, dragging Lucy to the front door.
“Then why are we leaving?”
“Because they came in, grabbed your boyfriend and left again. Come on!”
Outside, the night was cold and Lucy shivered, feeling immediately less intoxicated. She wrapped her arms around herself and blinked, letting her eyes adjust. Dom pulled her along the street a little, keeping them both pinned to the shadows like spies in an old muggle film. Lucy wanted to giggle as Dom put her finger to her lips dramatically, her eyes wide as she pointed with her spare hand.
In a puddle of light from a streetlamp on the other side of the street were Louis, Teddy and Daniel. They were talking in low voices but it seemed like they were arguing. Teddy looked worried, Louis bored and Daniel panicky.
“What are they -”
Lucy paused as a fourth person joined the group, and Dom gasped, digging her nails into Lucy’s wrist.
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