“Ugh, what is she doing here?” Dom hissed, as scathing as a cat with its tail stepped on.
“Probably here to pick up Teddy or something,” Lucy hissed back, watching as Rose ran a hand through her dark hair.
“In that outfit? It looks like she just crawled out of bed, which is possible because we all know she has no social life,” Dom said with a scowl.
“You are such a cow,” Lucy whispered, rolling her eyes. Dom poked her in the ribs and straightened up. “What are you doing?”
“Going to say hi; come on.”
Before Lucy could do a thing about it, Dom had stepped into the light, shook back her mane of hair and started walking towards the little group. Lucy bit her lip then raced to catch up, preying she didn’t fall over her feet or crash into a lamp post or anything. Running in the dark had its dangers.
“Nice night for it,” Dom called cheerfully and Lucy groaned. Subtlety was not Dom’s thing; she wasn’t sure what Dom’s thing was but it usually landed her in trouble, Lucy too, being unfortunate or stupid enough to get caught up in it. Rose raised an eyebrow and put her hands on her hips in that oh-so-challenging way she had. Louis was scowling, Teddy looking at the ground and Daniel looked guilty.
Lucy narrowed her eyes. It was all a little too weird.
“Go away,” Louis drawled when nobody spoke. “I can’t believe you’re my sister.”
“And I can’t believe you’re my brother. You are seriously demented, Louis. What sort of person lurks on street corners?”
“What sort of person stalks people lurking on street corners?” Louis shot back, annoyed.
“So you admit there was lurking?” Dom pressed. Lucy wrapped her hand around her cousin’s arm.
“Let’s just go,” she whispered.
“Great idea,” Daniel enthused, and before anyone could do or say anything, he had disapparated, the night split in half with the sound.
Louis started laughing. “Do you always have that effect on men, Luce?”
“Oh get lost,” Lucy sighed. “We’re not together.” She folded her arms, unable to help feeling a little put-out, especially since Daniel had spent the better part of the night staring at her, according to Dom anyway. Maybe she should have gone back to his house and watched that DV-whatever it was. There weren’t many men on the horizon, as both her mother and sister were prone to point out.
“I didn’t realise this was such a family affair,” said a new voice, and Lucy spun around, dragging Dom with her, as Scorpius Malfoy sauntered into view. Willow Zabini was clinging gracefully to his arm, her wide brown eyes so vacant Lucy would swear she was on something. Lucy could think of nothing to say and, for the first time ever it seemed, neither could Dominique. Scorpius stopped next to Teddy and the two men shared a glance. “Gatecrashers or participants?”
“Gatecrashers,” Rose said quickly, turning to Lucy and Dom. “I think it best if you two go home now.”
“You think it best? Please,” Dom snorted. “You can’t tell me what to do.”
“Dom...” Teddy warned. Lucy took a quick look around the little group, noting their faces and the expressions they wore and again, it struck her how odd it was that these five people, six including the vanished Daniel, would be spending any sort of social time together. She chewed her lip, sneaking a look at a glowering Dominique, and laid a hand on Teddy’s arm before she could second guess herself.
“Participants,” she said. “We want to be participants.” It was too weird not to volunteer herself for whatever it was that was going on. She was curious; perhaps some latent aspect of the journalist inside her had sprung to life, albeit a bit too late, because Rose was looking furious.
“Lucy, I don’t think you understand,” Teddy began seriously as Scorpius rolled his eyes and Rose shook her head, a dangerous expression dancing across her face. “Don’t you want to know what -”
“No, we’re in,” Dom interrupted, sharing a quick look with Lucy, who could tell her cousin was thinking the same thing she was – whatever was going on was mighty suspicious.
“Great,” Scorpius clapped his hands. “It’s a ten galleon buy in.”
“Ten galleons?” Lucy and Dom echoed, eyeing each other in disbelief.
“You didn’t think it was free did you?” Scorpius said evenly, paying undue attention to the state of his fingernails.
“Well, no,” Lucy said shakily. What was it, and why did it cost money?
There was a moment where no body said anything – all eyes were on Dom and Lucy, and Lucy felt her cheeks burn under the attention. At last, Dom sighed and began rummaging in her purse.
“This had better be worth it,” she muttered. “Like seriously worth it – I’m talking diamonds, gold, Gringotts, something big, Malfoy.”
Scorpius laughed. “Oh I promise, it’s worth it. Just wait and see what we -”
“Malfoy,” Teddy snapped, making Lucy jump. “Shut up. They aren’t getting involved.” He turned to Dom and Lucy, and his voice took on a more pleading quality. “Go home, both of you.”
Lucy narrowed her eyes, wondering why he was so obviously trying to protect them, or turn them off the scent. “Why?”
“None of your darn business,” Louis said petulantly, folding his arms.
“It’s not like we need the cash,” Teddy added in an aside to Scorpius.
“Whatever; you’re so boring,” the blonde sighed, slinging an arm around Willow, who gave everyone a look of complete disdain.
“I have other things I could be doing tonight,” she said pointedly to no one in particular, flicking a length of dark hair over her stylish shoulder in a well-practised manner. “Are we doing this or not?”
Dom looked up from the deep recesses of her purse. “I have two galleons on me, Malfoy. That’ll have to do.”
Scorpius took the money and pocketed it before anyone could do anything about it. He shrugged, seeing Rose’s look. “It’s not like I was born with a silver spoon between my teeth,” he said to collective incredulous looks. “Okay maybe I was, but as your financial backer I have control over the finances. I’ll take what I can get.” He paused, his pale eyes swinging from Teddy to Rose to Louis. “They’re in,” he announced.
Teddy groaned, grabbed Rose’s arm and disapparated.
“Hey!” Dom shouted indignantly.
“Don’t worry,” Scorpius said with a smile. “Louis, take your sister and I’ll take Lucy.”
Louis gave Dom the sort of look that would incinerate a weaker person, but she merely offered her brother her arm, nodded to Lucy and was gone in an instant. Scorpius let go of Willow, who yawned, kissed his cheek and disapparated.
Lucy stared at Scorpius. “What exactly is going on?” she asked quietly. “What will my ten galleons get me, beside trouble?”
“You think there’ll be trouble?”
“I don’t doubt it actually,” she replied swiftly, and then sighed. “But seeing as a large portion of my family is involved in said trouble, I guess I’d better...”
“Make sure they’re okay,” Scorpius finished, flashing a grin as he took a step closer. “Don’t worry, I’m not about to rip them off or anything.”
“You’d better not,” Lucy warned, letting him slip an arm around her middle. She was certain, absolutely certain, that he did not need to hold her so closely for a simple side-along apparition, but she suddenly found she couldn’t speak.
Daniel was okay to look at, Teddy was cute but Scorpius Malfoy was, and there was no other word for it, hot. He had a girlfriend, or whatever Willow Zabini was, but that didn’t stop Lucy enjoying the ride, and when he let her go moments later, she couldn’t help the small pang of regret or the tiny sigh that escaped her lips. He raised an eyebrow, gave her a knowing look and sauntered away from her, leaving her with burning cheeks and a singeing desire to go home.
Swallowing, Lucy stood up straight, shook Scorpius from her head and took a look around.
Before she had a moment to register anything, Rose was standing directly in front of her, eyes blazing. Lucy resisted the urge to step away from the undeniable anger in her cousin’s face. She didn’t think Rose would hex her or anything but she wasn’t too sure how much control Rose had over her fists in that moment.
“If you screw this up, I will personally kill you, understand?”
Lucy could only nod, watching as Rose scowled and stalked away to stand at Teddy’s side, where she began whispering in a furious undertone. Lucy blinked, looking away from Rose and the strangely pained look that was painted on Teddy’s face to survey the room properly.
The first thing she noticed was the lack of windows, and those that did exist had been covered in heavy black cloth or boarded up. Next, it was the height of the ceiling – she craned her neck, tilting her head back to look up at the tiny skylight in the roof. The room or building or whatever was huge – Lucy’s footsteps echoed as she moved, turning in a complete circle. It was dark: small lamps and magical balls of light hovered around the walls and what she saw were rows of long tables. Lucy moved closer, wanting to get a better look.
All three tables looked like they had been fenced straight out of the potions classroom at Hogwarts. On each were rows of cauldrons and potions bottles, tools and jars of ingredients Lucy knew you could not just go and buy at the corner shop.
She lifted the lid of one cauldron and took a breath, only to pinch her nose and back hastily away.
“Careful,” said a voice near her ear and she turned to see Daniel watching her, his expression unreadable.
“What is this place? And what is that stuff?” she asked, pointing at the cauldron and its offending smell. “And what are you doing here?”
“What did they tell you?”
“Nothing,” she said as Dom joined her, eyes wide and suspicions fully roused.
“What we have here, ladies and gentlemen,” said Scorpius, appearing from nowhere and looking ridiculously smug, “is my latest business venture.” He tucked his hands into his pockets and rocked back and forth on his heels, his smile growing. He seemed too pleased with himself, when no one else was.
“Business venture?” Dom echoed mockingly. “You’re running a potions lab, Malfoy, and an illegal one at that,” she paused, seeing Scorpius’ surprised look. “I work for your aunt, remember? I know what all these ingredients are and where they have probably come from. Are you well known on the black market or do you just associate with people in low places?”
Scorpius recovered himself, waving a hand in front of his face indifferently. “Whatever; anyway, it’s about time the potions market opened up a little, don’t you think? Dom, with your help I’m sure we can really shake things up, make changes that are long overdue.”
Dom blinked, folding her arms. “I didn’t know you were so interested in modernising the potions business, Malfoy.”
“If there’s money in it, Scorpius is very interested,” Teddy spoke for the first time since Lucy had arrived. He was standing a little to the side of everything, watching them all with his dark brooding expression.
“I’m hurt,” Scorpius said, his hand over his heart.
“I think I want my money back,” Dom mumbled. Lucy bit her lip. What Scorpius and her cousins were doing was highly illegal – if the Ministry found out they would all be in loads of trouble, although Malfoy would probably find some way to get off, and Rose would simply bully her parents into hiring the best possible lawyer. Lucy sighed: it would probably be better to forget what was going on and go back to her boring life and her horrible job.
It would be the sensible thing to do, she knew that, so when the next words left her mouth she almost gasped at herself. “How can I help?”
Scorpius smiled and slung an arm around her shoulder. “Weasley, just stand there and look good. No, seriously, how are you at potions?”
“Not brilliant,” Lucy admitted, face burning.
“It would be a little strange for me to keep showing up in potions suppliers all over the country, wouldn’t it? And Rose here has some hostile take-over of the paper planned so she can hardly do it. Louis is too busy looking pretty -”
“Bite me,” Louis scowled.
“I mean, too busy with...what do you do again? Willow and Arabella have other things to do and Teddy, well Teddy can’t show his face in as many places as you surely can,” Scorpius finished.
“Why?” Lucy asked. “Teddy, I mean,” she added, glancing across the room at Teddy, whose hair suddenly turned a rather violent shade of green.
“Oh,” Scorpius laughed, ignoring the warning glares of his cousin. “Such large quantities of Wolfsbane draw attention. I’ve already left the continent to get some more.”
“Wolfsbane?” Dom said sharply, her eyes moving to Teddy. There was a deep silence and something, some understanding, slowly passed between the two. “Did Vic know?”
Teddy nodded. Lucy pushed Scorpius away, taking a step towards Teddy, whose hair faded as she watched, the colour leeching out until it was black.
“Know what?” she asked quietly. Rose would not look at her; her cousin couldn’t even manage a glare.
“He’s a werewolf,” Dom whispered.
Scorpius laughed. “No one’s a werewolf; not yet, anyway,” he added.
“We’re hoping to stop that from ever happening,” Rose said quietly. “That’s what we’re doing here.”
“Partly,” Willow mumbled, and Lucy jumped, having forgotten about the tall, olive skinned girl lingering in the shadows. She had her wand out and a thrill of fear danced along Lucy’s spine. Willow looked at her with interest, her head titled to one side, hair falling majestically over one slim shoulder. “Are you in?”
Slowly, Lucy nodded and with a smile, Willow put the wand away.
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