Dom slammed her cake fork down. The sugar bowl, salt and pepper and plates containing chocolate cake jumped to attention like rookie soldiers before their sergeant. Lucy managed to rescue her coffee, scooping the cup off the saucer and holding it in the air. They were in their usual cafe, as much a part of the furniture as anything these days. Lucy figured she should probably take a break on the coffee, but since the warehouse, she was certain she had mainlined the stuff.
“How could I not know? How?” Dom growled. “I mean, the man was practically married to my sister. He was practically living in my house for most of my teenage years, sneaking into Vic’s room when dad thought he was sleeping in the spare bed.”
“He’s not a werewolf,” Lucy said timidly, and Dom gave her an exasperated look.
“I know that,” she said softly. “I always wondered though, if it would happen, you know, because of his father. Everyone knows werewolves shouldn’t have kids. Teddy is rather unique – I think he might be one of the only half-werewolves in existence.”
“He’s not a werewolf, Dom,” Lucy repeated. She was beginning to feel rather annoyed. It had been two days since the discovery in the warehouse and two days since Lucy had rather uncharacteristically agreed to ‘help’ in illegal potions making. She still had no idea what that meant – no idea what they were actually cooking up, although Dom was certain, considering the quantities of boomslang and flobberworm mucus, that it was more than just an emergency supply of Wolfsbane Potion for Teddy, who may or may not be an almost-werewolf.
“And anyway,” she continued, adding her third teaspoon of sugar to her coffee. “Even if he was it doesn’t change him. He’s still human – just a little different on the full moon.”
Dom sighed. “I know. I should probably call my sister.”
“Do you think that’s why...”
“No, I don’t think so. I mean it would make Vic a big fat hypocrite, considering dad’s rather obvious bestial tendencies. For someone who is not a werewolf he growls way too much,” Dom replied. “What are you doing tomorrow? Please say you’ll come shopping with me – I really need new shoes and I have no one else to go with.”
“I have to pick up some supplies for Scorpius,” Lucy said, wondering how her cousin could think about new shoes at a time like this.
Dom sipped her coffee. “Where?”
Lucy dug in her bag, pulling out the list Scorpius had Owled her that morning. At the top, above the rather long inventory of potions ingredients, was a name. “Some place called Doughal’s. I’ve never heard of it.”
“I have,” Dom said with a frown. “It’s in Knockturn Alley. Right,” she said dramatically, putting her cup down and pushing the hair from her forehead. “I’m coming with you.”
“You don’t have to,” Lucy began, but Dom shook her head.
“Doughal is a sleaze, plus, he’ll try and rip you off. It’ll be better if you have someone who knows what they are looking for.”
“Why are you helping me?” Lucy said after a while. “I thought you didn’t want to be involved.”
“I don’t,” Dom said sternly, her tone reminding Lucy of the rather enthusiastic display she had put on two nights ago, ranting and raving for what seemed like hours about how stupid they all were and that she was not having a bar of it. “But, someone has to make sure that git Malfoy doesn’t take advantage of you.”
“Scorpius is okay,” Lucy mumbled. Dom frowned again.
“If you like rodents; personally, I’ve always thought he looked like a rat,” she answered simply, and then paused to study Lucy critically. “Why are you getting involved with all this?”
“Because,” Lucy said loudly, making Dom’s eyes widen and the couple at the next table look over curiously. “My life is so rubbish I can’t stand it.”
“Your life isn’t rubbish,” Dom said kindly, reaching for her cake. Lucy watched as she shovelled a mouthful and brushed the crumbs from her fingers.
She snorted. “Name one thing in my life that isn’t rubbish.”
“Well, you’ve got me,” Dom answered with a grin. When it failed to get a smile, she sighed. “Look, I know sometimes things seem rubbish but they’re really not. You work for Rose, Luce – and you survive. I have a shrine dedicated to you in my flat.”
“You do not.”
“Well not actually but I’ve been planning to make one for ages. Listen,” Dom said, leaning forward and lowering her voice. “Getting messed up with something illegal is not the way to get some excitement in your life. Take it from one who knows – having your prints taken and your photo on file is not all that glamorous. Besides, Grandma Weasley will have a big enough heart attack when stupid Rose, Louis and Teddy get arrested and sent to Azkaban.”
“Remind me again why you threw a brick through that guy’s window and cursed his car?” Lucy said, a smile beginning to stretch across her face.
“I hardly cursed his car,” Dom said with a roll of her eyes. “Like I told the Hitwizard who unfairly arrested me – the car grew tentacles and tried to kill its owner by chance. It was pure coincidence that the guy in question had been seeing not one but two other girls at the same time as me.”
Lucy laughed, enjoying the feeling of the muscles in her face tightening and then relaxing. It felt like an age since she had last had a good laugh, and Dom’s antics, both past and present, always brought a smile to her face.
They said their goodbyes not long after, both returning to their jobs. Lucy thought that now that she was in on the big act Rose would be nicer to her. She was sadly mistaken. Rose was just as frosty as ever, if not more, and Lucy was forcibly reminded of the fact that Rose did not want her involved. Lucy wasn’t sure how she spent the remainder of the day – she never was, in fact, sure of what she was supposed to be doing while all the other journalists were rushing about and waving pieces of paper in the air. She watched absently as Herbert raced down the corridor, a trail of memo’s floating behind him.
All Lucy had to go on was the Hogsmeade weekend and the interview with the Head Boy and Girl. With her shopping for Scorpius and Dom’s shoes, she figured she could still make the interview tomorrow. She was due to meet the Heads at ten and the interview would probably take twenty minutes at the most. She just hoped they had something interesting to say or Rose would probably fire her.
“It’s just so amazing to be Head Girl. I never imagined I would be chosen. I always figured it would be someone else – someone more popular.”
Lucy sat and tried to appear interested as Ruby Searle, the Hogwarts Head Girl, gushed continually about how awesome a job it was. Personally, Lucy could not see the attraction. Rose had been Head Girl, and Victoire before her, while James had enjoyed Head Boy status. Even Hugo had gotten a look-in, being a Prefect for several years in a row, and Molly had been a Prefect as well.
It was a blatant reminder of just how pathetic Lucy really was. She had not even managed Prefect – and she had been a Hufflepuff at that, something certain members of the extended family continued to remind her of.
“Uh huh,” Lucy said, nibbling on the end of her quill and trying to avoid glancing at the giant clock on the wall. It was already ten thirty; she was due to meet Dom back in Diagon Alley at eleven. Her cousin had been called in to work. Lucy had received a rather pissed off Owl at seven that morning. “So, Ruby, what are your plans once you leave school?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” Ruby said in her high-pitched voice. “I think I would like to work for the Ministry.”
Of course you would, Lucy thought. Everyone wants to work for the blasted Ministry.
The Head Boy, a Ravenclaw named Brian Jordan, was too busy making eyes at a girl across the Three Broomsticks to pay much attention to the interview. Lucy didn’t really care – she figured there was nothing she could do to make her article interesting in the slightest. She would get a small section at the back of the paper – nothing new really.
At ten to eleven, Lucy stepped out of the Three Broomsticks and apparated to the Leaky Cauldron. She ducked through the crowd quickly, passing through the portal and into Diagon Alley. Dom was waiting for her outside Gringotts, looking thoroughly annoyed.
“Sorry,” Lucy panted. She asked Dom to wait while she ducked into Gringotts to collect the gold Scorpius had told her would be waiting. He had apparently arranged it with the goblins – all she had to do was prove her identity and the gold would be handed over. Inside, Lucy tried not to be nervous – the Gringotts goblins had always frightened her just a little. When the bag containing Scorpius’ gold was passed over she could not help her eyes from widening. She had never held so much money in her life, not being overly skilled in savings. Lucy’s vault had a little over a handful of galleons and some sickles.
Money in hand, Lucy hurried back outside to find Dom tapping her foot impatiently. “I’ve got half an hour,” she informed Lucy as they made their way across the street towards the entrance to Knockturn Alley. Lucy swallowed nervously, clutching the money bag tightly to her chest and followed Dom through the mouth of the alley. No one paid them any heed, and part way along the dusty street Dom turned to Lucy.
“Show me that list,” she demanded and Lucy passed it over without question. “Acromantula venom, Ashwinder eggs, dragon blood, fluxweed, Jobberknoll feathers, wormwood, valerian, Re’em blood, Runespoor eggs...” Dom muttered, eyes swinging over the list.
“What are they making?” Lucy asked in a whisper, almost afraid of the answer.
“I would guess Polyjuice, from what I saw in the warehouse, possibly Memory Potions, Truth Serums and Draught of the Living Dead, among other things. They’re experimenting, Luce, that much was certain. I’m not sure what with but there were ingredients lying around on those tables that are not usually combined. They’ll be lucky if they don’t blow the roof off that building, although, I hate to admit it, Rose knows what she is doing.”
Lucy blinked, unsure of what to say or think. Potions were not her forte – she had only just scraped an Acceptable in her OWL’s and didn’t take Potions at NEWT level, the potions master telling her in no uncertain terms that she would be better off choosing another class. Dom said no more and Lucy chewed her lip the rest of the way to Doughal’s.
Doughal had a small shop tucked away in the deepest darkest corner of Knockturn Alley. “Naturally,” Dom mumbled as she pushed the door open, trying in vain to avoid the large spread of dust and grime that covered the glass. “I know this is a dodgy place but seriously, has he not heard of cleaning charms?”
Lucy followed her in timidly, suddenly very glad of her cousin’s presence. Dom was tough where she was not, strong where Lucy was weak and she knew that without her, she would never have had the courage to take one step into Knockturn Alley, let alone go visit a reputed black market potions supplier.
Inside it was dark and dank. A foul stench floated on the air and made Lucy want to gag; from the potions, she imagined, or hoped. She stepped around a large display case filled with jars and bags of she didn’t know what and made her way to the service counter, where Dom was impatiently drumming her fingernails against the glass.
A rather fat wizard with greying hair appeared from the back of the shop, wiping his hands on a grimy rag.
“Ladies,” he said, performing a mock little bow. “How can I help you on this fine day?”
Dom wrinkled her nose. “Are you Doughal?”
“I am, sweetheart,” he said silkily, reaching across to shake Dom’s hand. Lucy heard her cousin make a small gagging noise in the back of her throat, but like the true professional she was, Dom accepted the large sweaty hand offered to her and shook it firmly. She spread the list out on the counter, giving Doughal a challenging look.
“We need this, in the quantities mentioned, and for a reasonable price,” she said, her tone all business-like.
Doughal mopped at his brow with the rag. “Well, I don’t know if I can -”
Dom sighed and leant back. “Our business partner will not be happy, I can assure you.”
“And which business partner is that, darling?” Doughal asked, his voice oozing about as much charm as his shop.
“Scorpius Malfoy,” Lucy piped up, finding her voice at last. She reached into her bag and pulled out the large bag of gold Scorpius had left at Gringotts for her. The bag jingled when she placed it on the counter, and the sound must have been music to Doughal’s ears, because the big man suddenly smiled and stood up straight, his hand reaching automatically for the bag.
Dom slid it out of the way of his tubby fingers. “Merchandise first, Doughal my dear. And don’t think you can trick us – I happen to know exactly what I’m buying and I will check everything closely before I hand over any money.”
He gave them both a mistrustful look before stalking away out the back. Lucy heard him a moment later mumbling to himself. Dom didn’t say another word until he returned fifteen minutes later, at least a dozen glass jars and bottles with rubber stoppers floating along behind him. Lucy and Doughal both waited while Dom meticulously checked the ingredients, opening bottles and sniffing the contents and holding jars up to the meagre light that filtered through a slice in the dust that coated the window.
At last, she nodded, withdrawing the small bag she had stashed in her pocket. Lucy watched as she cast an anti-breaking charm on the ingredients and then tossed all the bottles and jars into the bag, which Lucy quickly realised had an Extension Charm on it. Dom slipped the bag back into her pocket and turned to Doughal.
The big man was watching her with a mixture of suspicion and eagerness. “My payment?” he asked, and Dom rolled her eyes, sliding the bag full of Malfoy gold across the glass counter. Doughal snatched it up and stashed it beneath the counter before Dom had a chance to change her mind.
“Pleasure doing business with you,” Dom said, meaning none of it.
Doughal smiled. “If you ever get sick of working for Daphne, you will always have a job here, darling,” he told Dom, who scowled, grabbed Lucy and strode from the shop.
“Damn,” she said once they were outside. “He knows who I am; probably guessed who you are, or belong to at least. Stupid Scorpius,” she added in an aside, before sighing. She slipped her hand into her pocket and withdrew the little bag, passing it to Lucy. “Give this to his Lordship.”
“Thank you,” Lucy said quietly as they made their way back along Knockturn Alley and out into Diagon Alley. Dom only nodded, saying she had to get back to work. Lucy offered to walk with her, knowing Dom hated working on a Saturday and hated last minute call-in’s even more.
“Hey,” called a voice and Lucy jumped, startled to find Scorpius waiting for them, the blonde of his hair glowing in the bright sunlight. He was leaning casually against the wall out the front of Florean Fortescue’s and he smiled broadly when he saw them.
“Get lost,” Dom snarled at him, stalking away back towards the apothecary. “The shoes can wait,” she shouted to Lucy. “You owe me.”
“Say hi to my aunt for me,” Scorpius called after her, grinning like the Cheshire Cat. He turned to Lucy, his face eager. “Did you get it all?”
“Yes,” she said quietly, looking down the street at Dom, who was still striding away in a right foul mood. “You should thank her, you know. If it wasn’t for Dom, you’d have nothing.”
Scorpius only nodded. “Doughal can be uncooperative at the best of times. I knew Dominique would be able to handle him.”
“So why didn’t you ask her to do this job for you, instead of me?” Lucy asked. He shrugged.
“I knew she’d help you out; plus, I get the impression she doesn’t like me much.” He paused. “Come on. I want to see what you’ve got.”
Lucy let him take hold of her waist and apparate them away.
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