At the warehouse, Scorpius opened jars and removed stoppers from vials, sniffing and shaking and swirling the contents, much as Dom had done in Doughal’s shop. Lucy watched him from under her lashes and remembered hearing once that Scorpius Malfoy, while a complete prat and useless at most things, was a genius when it came to potions. She wondered absently who told her that – possibly Rose, in one of her fits of jealousy. Rose was rather prone to those, Lucy realised, thinking that her cousin only possessed three human responses to life – anger, jealousy and undisguised snobbery.
“Well,” Scorpius said brightly, putting the rubber stopper back into a vial marked Ashwinder eggs. “Thanks for that. Dougal and I don’t really see eye to eye. My Aunt is his, um, legal competition and he refuses to serve me.”
Lucy nodded, indicating the vial of Ashwinder eggs and all the other ingredients Dom had coaxed out of Dougal. “What are all these for then?” she asked, taking a step closer to the bench and picking up a jar of Jobberknoll feathers.
Scorpius gave her a mysterious look before sighing and spreading his hands in a gesture of compliance. “I’m experimenting.”
“Yes, me. Potions are what I’m good at, among other things,” he added with a sly grin.
“Like what?” Lucy demanded, surprising herself. She was not usually a demanding person – maybe Dom had rubbed off on her. Maybe it was Scorpius and his swarmy ‘I’m-not-telling face’ that made her speak up. She didn’t know, and didn’t take the time to speculate on it for long, folding her arms and giving Malfoy the most challenging look she could muster.
He laughed. “Been taking lessons off Rose have you?”
Lucy faltered in her glare. “What do you mean?”
“Rose...has a certain way of getting things out of people. Plus, she wears that look better than you I’m afraid – no offence.”
Silence hung in the air while Lucy chewed her lip and Scorpius hummed under his breath, flicking his wand and organising the potions ingredients. Lucy watched as they floated around the benches, settling themselves into piles.
“It’s alright,” she said eventually; Scorpius gave her a confused glance over his shoulder. “The Rose thing – I wasn’t offended.”
He nodded and turned back to the bench, surveying the line of cauldrons. “I really wish people would clean up after themselves. This place is such a mess!”
Lucy hesitated. “I could help, if you want.”
He raised an eyebrow. “Don’t you have something better you could be doing on your day off?”
She shrugged. “Not really; I mean, I don’t have any hobbies to speak of and Dom is at work so...” She stopped, appalled she was revealing the mundane details of her life to Scorpius Malfoy, of all people, who had probably already decided she was boring and not worth much of his time, unless he needed favours from naive women. Lucy sighed and made to turn away, mumbling that she should just go.
“I’d love the help,” Scorpius said quickly, watching her and Lucy wondered if he could see any of the bitter self-rejection she felt on her face. “If you want to take that bench over there,” he added, indicating with a swish of his hand a long table adjacent to the one he was standing near, “I’ll take this one.”
He gave her a sunny smile and her stomach flopped. She really couldn’t see what Dom was talking about at all – he looked nothing like a rodent. He was, she had to admit, gorgeous. Lucy licked her lips, dry-mouthed and turned away, wondering what on earth was wrong with her. Scorpius Malfoy was, firstly, completely out of her league and secondly, most definitely not interested in her. He went for girls like Willow, ridiculously beautiful with legs up to their armpits and a pocket full of gold. She pulled a hand self-consciously through her hair, took out her wand and set to work, wanting desperately to leave, but since she had made the offer, she was stuck now.
Scorpius seemed oblivious to her humiliation. He hummed and muttered to himself as he flicked his wand and executed exceptional cleaning charms. Lucy doubled her efforts to do as good a job as he was and before long, the potions benches were clean, the cauldrons sparkling and the jars and vials of ingredients free of dust.
“That’s better,” Scorpius said jubilantly, sliding his wand back into his pocket.
“I didn’t realise you were such a...clean freak,” Lucy said, grinning at the blissful expression on his face.
“Comes from growing up in a very clean and very organised home,” he explained with a shrug. “Plus, mother is a little OCD about these sorts of things. I guess it rubbed off.”
“I don’t like mess either,” Lucy said, leaning back against the bench and surveying the warehouse. It was a large building and Scorpius’ operations only took up one end of it. “Do you own this place?” she asked.
“No; Daniel rents it – well, I pay for it, but he rents it from a...what are they called? Real estate agent?”
Lucy blinked. “This is a Muggle building?”
“Seemed easier,” Scorpius replied. “Cheaper too; do you know how much a wizard would charge for this? Too much,” he went on, shaking his head in what Lucy thought was mock concern. “Especially for me. Just because I am Malfoy doesn’t automatically mean I have cash to burn.”
Lucy cleared her throat. “So, those other things you mentioned?”
Scorpius gave her a long look. “I bet you’re a good journalist,” he remarked.
“What? No, I’m actually pretty rubbish at it to be honest.”
He laughed. “I find that hard to believe. I bet you’ve had heaps of front pages stories.”
Lucy narrowed her eyes. “Now you’re making fun of me,” she said, “and stop changing the subject. I want to know what you’re cooking up in here.”
“Fine,” he said neutrally, his shoulders lifting in a light shrug. “I guess you’ll find out anyway – Dom is bound to work it out. I hear she is rather good at what she does. Makes me kind of jealous actually. Did you know I wanted that apprenticeship, but father decided that working in potions was beneath me?”
“Scorpius,” Lucy warned, “you’re doing it again!”
He held up his hands, grinning shamelessly. “Habit, I assure you. We Malfoy’s are known for our slippery words, weren’t you aware of that?”
“Yes, and if you want an honest answer about anything, a Malfoy is not the one to ask,” a new voice chimed in. Lucy groaned, reaching up to rub at her temples. Rose and Teddy appeared in her peripheral vision, the latter looking rather pale, like he’d had too little sleep or too many late nights. Rose was wearing her superior expression, the one that Lucy hated to see as it always heralded trouble of some sort, usually a lecture.
“What are you doing here anyway?” Rose demanded, giving Lucy a suspicious glare.
“I was just...”
“Helping me clean up, seeing as though none of you lot ever do it,” Scorpius cut in. Lucy flashed him a grateful smile, hidden quickly from Rose, who was still watching them both with distrustful eyes.
“Did you get everything?” she asked Scorpius, turning away and ignoring Lucy.
“Thanks to your cousin, yes, I did. You should say thank you.”
Lucy saw Rose’s back stiffen and she knew just how much it cost her proud, stubborn cousin to turn and mutter a ‘thank you’ through clenched teeth. It was a small victory; one that Lucy couldn’t help enjoying but as she glanced at Teddy her smile fell. “Are you okay?” she asked him in a whisper, moving closer to his side. Up close, there were bags under his eyes and his mouth was turned down, his lips colourless.
He nodded and ran a long fingered hand through his hair, which promptly turned a sickly shade of green. “Bad sleep.”
“You know, Dom makes a great sleeping draught,” Lucy found herself saying.
“Teddy doesn’t need any of that,” Rose jumped in rather quickly, abandoning Scorpius and turning back to Teddy. “He’s fine, aren’t you, Ted?”
“Yeah, fine,” Teddy mumbled.
Scorpius cleared his throat just as Lucy was starting to feel really uncomfortable. “Listen, Lucy, thanks for all your help this morning but we have work to get on with and, well...anyway,” he added with another of his quick smiles. “Why don’t you join us later tonight, you and Dom, at the Hogs Head.”
Rose glared but Scorpius ignored her, all his attention focused on Lucy, who felt her cheeks colouring. “Um, yeah, okay. I’ll see what Dom is doing.”
Without another word, Scorpius, Rose and Teddy turned and moved away towards the sparkling clean benches and vials of potions ingredients, and Lucy snuck out the door, wishing fervently that Rose would get something terrible on her skin, boils perhaps.
Dom glared. “The last thing I want to do tonight is sit there making conversation with Rose!”
“Teddy will be there,” Lucy reminded her cousin, who narrowed her eyes. “Please, Dom. Just for a little while.”
“You don’t need me there to hold your hand,” Dom said neutrally and then sighed. “Fine. Give me a minute to find something to wear. You know, you could make more of an effort, Luce.”
Lucy looked down at herself. “What’s wrong?”
“Baggy old jeans and a blouse are perfectly okay for sitting around at home but we’re going out,” Dom said with a shake of her head. “What if you meet someone?”
“We’re going to the Hogs Head,” Lucy answered. “Who could I possible meet in the Hogs Head? Your fascination with my love life is kind of scary, Dom.”
“I am merely concerned about your lack of love life, dear,” Dom replied with a smile. “Now, wear this, and these,” she added, tossing an armful of clothing at Lucy, who stared at them in disbelief. She held up the scrap of material that passed for a shirt and shook her head.
“No way. My father would kill me if he ever saw me in this.”
“Your father is not likely to be in the Hogs Head tonight, is he?”
Lucy sighed, giving up the fight before she had started. There was absolutely no point arguing with Dom when it came to clothes, men, drinking or social occasions. After changing her outfit and letting Dom mess with her hair, Lucy found herself standing outside the Hogs Head self-consciously tugging at her shirt.
“Stop that!” Dom hissed, batting her hands away. “You’ll stretch it.”
“I hate you so much,” Lucy hissed in return, glaring at the bit of midriff that was showing above her (Dom’s) very tight jeans. “So very much.”
Dom laughed, kissed her cousin’s cheek and sauntered through the doors like she owned the place, hips swinging in that seductive walk that Lucy had never been able to master, even after practising for hours in front of Dom’s full length mirror. Ducking her head to hide her face and possibly her shame, Lucy snuck inside, hoping no one would notice her. She followed Dom to the bar, lifting her eyes and surveying the room. She spotted Scorpius instantly, his blonde hair glowing in the murk and gloom of the pub. Rose and Teddy sat across from him making eyes at each other and squished into the corner of the booth was Louis and whatever-her-name was, also making eyes at one another.
Lucy squared her shoulders. If anything, Scorpius needed saving. “Come on,” she said, picking up her drink and moving across the pub, Dom waltzing along behind her.
Scorpius gave them both grateful smiles, patting the space next to him so Lucy could sit. Dom squeezed in beside Teddy, all but pushing Rose into the corner so she could sit down.
It was an awkward moment. No one spoke for several minutes. Dom and Louis exchanged a nasty look, Teddy stared at the table, Rose glowered into her water and Arabella, draped over Louis’ lap, pouted prettily and whispered something in her boyfriend’s ear. Lucy nearly jumped out of her skin when Scorpius draped an arm around her shoulder.
“Well,” he declared, lifting his glass in a toast. “Here’s to new friends and obscene profits.”
“Yes,” Dom agreed, clinking her very purple drink to Scorpius’. “Profits are good. I hope all your supplies were satisfactory?”
Scorpius nodded. “Indeed. Thanks again for dealing with Doughal.”
“Anytime,” Dom said smoothly, leaning across the table towards Scorpius. Lucy narrowed her eyes, not sure what her cousin was up to. Rose was also watching Dom carefully, her expression critical. “I’d be more than happy to help out, that is, when you tell me exactly what it is you are brewing in that warehouse of yours, Malfoy.”
Scorpius laughed silkily, his hand on Lucy’s shoulder tightening. “I’m merely trying to expand the market, that’s all. Aunty Daphne has nothing to worry about. How is the apprenticeship working out anyway?”
“It’s going well,” Dom replied. “Keep your secrets then, Malfoy,” she said after a pause. “I’ll work it out in time.”
“Just cut her in and be done with it,” Louis drawled, surprising everyone. Scorpius raised an eyebrow. “If there is one thing that my sister does well, it’s annoys people until they spill their guts, so you may as well tell her everything. If you don’t, she’ll stalk you, harass you and go through your rubbish until you do.”
“I take offence to the rubbish part, brother dearest,” Dom said with a smile. “But he is right, Malfoy.”
Scorpius sighed, his eyes moving to Rose and Teddy. The latter nodded while Rose shook her head. “Out voted, Weasley. Alright,” he switched his attention back to Dom. “One of the main things we’re working on is enhancing the Wolfsbane potion.”
“Why?” Dom asked, sipping at her drink. “It works fine as it is. There have been no complaints.”
“We’re not trying to fix it; just modify it somewhat,” Scorpius said. Dom frowned. “See, there are those, like Teddy, with a werewolf parent who, well, wish to be more in touch with their, ah, animalistic side.”
Lucy looked quickly at Teddy. “I thought you were unique.”
He shook his head. “It appears I’m not. My father was not the only one of his kind to breed with a human. I started hearing rumours a while back and then I started investigating those rumours and found that I was not the only one.”
“Yes but you aren’t like the others,” Rose put in, laying her hand on Teddy’s arm. “You don’t want to be an actual werewolf.”
“But other’s do,” Dom surmised. When Teddy nodded, she whistled, sitting back in her chair and closing her eyes a moment. “You’re playing such a dangerous game; you all know that, don’t you?”
“We’re aware of the risks,” Scorpius said firmly.
“Are you aware that if someone dies as a result of your modifications you’ll be charged with manslaughter?” Dom snapped, shaking her head. She looked at her brother. “Dad will kill you.”
“He’ll kill you too, once I tell him you’re involved,” Louis replied smugly.
Lucy was looking at Teddy. “And you’re the test subject? How long has this been going on? Did Victoire know? Is that why she -”
“No and no,” Teddy said quietly. “At least, I don’t think so.”
“Cheer up,” Scorpius said brightly. “The next round is on me. Don’t look so worried,” he added in a whisper to Lucy, his mouth close to her ear. “No one is going to get hurt.”
She could only nod and try not to think about how warm his breath was on her skin.
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