Scorpius jogged up the stairs to the third floor, his knapsack slung over one shoulder. It felt light as air, though it held an ungodly amount of painting supplies, thanks to the spells Rose's mum had put on it – including an Undetectable Extension Charm. It was his favourite gift he'd ever received (barring Rose's gifts, which often involved naughty play-acting), and certainly the most useful one as well.
The flat he was headed for was huge by any standards, even to a man who'd grown up in a Wiltshire manor home. He'd grown accustomed to the tiny flat he shared with Rose. Everything else looked unnecessarily oversized now. There was enough room in this particular flat for twenty people to live comfortably. Only two people actually lived here, though.
Gideon Crumb had played the bagpipes for the Weird Sisters, a wizard band from Scorpius's father's teen years that had still managed to remain huge for many years. The band was still together, though all of them were in their fifties now. They didn't tour as much as they had done years ago, but they still put out albums, which Rose sometimes listened to. Scorpius wasn't as interested in rock music.
But a good job was a good job, and Gideon Crumb was paying Scorpius a boatload of gold to paint a portrait of him and his wife, having seen a portrait Scorpius had done for another member of the band. And they could certainly use the money.
They probably should have done something responsible with the money they'd made off that first portrait, which Scorpius had sold to the Weird Sisters' cellist, Merton Graves. They should have put it in the bank, or bought new furniture, paid ahead their rent a few months, or even paid back Rose's brother all the money she'd borrowed off him over the years.
But instead, they'd gone to Majorca.
The money had lasted for three weeks. Three lovely weeks lying on the beach with Rose in a pink glittery bikini that sparkled in the sun, smearing suncream potions on and drinking tropical things with lots of rum. Something about being on the beach meant being served a great deal of rum, for some reason. Scorpius found he preferred the Muggle alcohol to wizard firewhiskey. It certainly went better with sticky fruit drinks.
They'd been back now for almost three months, and Scorpius still dreamed of going back to Majorca with Rose. He wouldn't mind spending the rest of his life lying on a beach with her in that bikini.
Of course, he had to make enough money to make that happen first. He was damn well not going to use his father's money to do it. At least if he provided the money himself, he'd feel he had earned his lying-on-the-beach days.
Scorpius knocked on the door, and a few minutes later the peephole shuddered and then extended, the blue eye blinking at him at the end of a long and skinny tube. It examined him from every angle, and then a tinny voice said, “Are you the painter, what?”
“What? I mean, yes, I am.” Scorpius waved vaguely at the peephole's eye.
The peephole retracted, still blinking, and the door opened. Gideon Crumb waved him inside, and Scorpius blinked at the décor as he stepped into the flat.
Everything was zebra-print. The sheer amount of black and white stripes was disorienting, and Scorpius had the uneasy feeling he was going to have vertigo at any moment. The only spot of colour in the room was a rainbow of bagpipes in a large glass case against one wall.
“Where d'you want to set up, then?” Gideon looked around vaguely. “M'wife is back in our room, putting on makeup. Shall I go and fetch her, what?”
Scorpius had to resist the urge to repeat the what part of his mannerisms. He gave the room a sweep with a critical eye, and nodded. “If we open the drapes all the way, there should be plenty of light in here to get started. Then you can go and, er, fetch Mrs. Crumb.”
A large and rather burly man emerged from out of nowhere and opened the drapes. Scorpius set up his easel and sketching supplies while Gideon disappeared, fetching his wife.
When they reappeared, Scorpius had to stop himself doing a double-take. Mrs. Crumb was wearing the lowest-cut set of robes he'd ever seen, showing off her impressively large bust. Her curvy figure was poured into the white robes, which were at least three sizes too small. Her husband, now dressed in white dragonhide trousers and a white fur vest with no shirt on under it, was carrying a set of bagpipes that he clearly intended to pose with.
They were zebra-print.
Four hours later, Scorpius made good his escape, with an appointment to return for another sitting three days later, and breathed a sigh of relief.
Portraits had never been his favourite to paint, but he hadn't been able to turn down the contracts offered. It was a lot of gold. And to be honest, he was starting to enjoy the acclaim he was receiving since the sale of that portrait of Merton Graves's son. Everyone who saw it thought it was brilliant, and Scorpius had never had this sort of attention for his artwork.
It was extremely satisfying.
Rose was already home when he got there, poking around in kitchen cupboards. She didn't actually know how to cook, so he didn't know what she thought she was doing.
“Hungry?” he asked, setting his knapsack down on the table.
She turned to him with relief, and he gave her a brief kiss as he passed. Her hair was wet; she must've just got out of the shower, which meant she'd probably been up to something she didn't want him to know about. He tried to scan her for injuries or freshly healed wounds surreptitiously. He thought he spied a few singed bits of hair. She appeared to be fine, though, so he let it go. She always liked it better when she thought he didn't know what she was up to.
Rose hopped up onto the countertop while he set about preparing ham and pickle sandwiches. It wasn't much of a dinner, but he'd been out all day painting. “How was your day?” she asked, folding her legs up underneath her.
“Fine. Got a load of progress in that painting of Gideon Crumb.”
He handed her a sandwich. “And yours?”
“Um. It was fine.” She flashed him her 'trustworthy' smile. He shook his head at her. She was adorable when she smiled like that, even though it didn't make her look at all trustworthy.
They ate in silence for a while. Scorpius tried not to watch her too closely – was she favouring her left arm? – and thought of the wedding they'd been to last week. Her cousin Lucy had got married to the Appleby Arrows Seeker. He loved weddings; everyone was so happy during a wedding, all their other cares forgotten, smiling and laughing and dancing and eating far too much rich food. Especially at a Weasley wedding, which was always sure to be a raucous event. But Rose had been skittish throughout the reception, no doubt afraid he was going to come over all mental and propose to her.
He knew better than to do that.
It was nice to think about now and then, though. Rose as his wife.
His father would be livid. He doubted her parents would be much happier. They all lived in hopes of an eventual break-up.
She finished her sandwich and brushed off her hands. “I'd probably better be off. I picked up Parmenter again today-”
No wonder she'd had to take a shower, then.
“-and I'm hoping Lydia's got someone new for me.” She leaned forward to kiss him on the cheek, and then slid down from the counter.
She was halfway out the door when the Floo roared to life and Teddy Lupin's head appeared in their fireplace.
“Oi there,” he called, and Scorpius followed Rose over to crouch in front of the green flames.
“Hi Teddy,” she said. “Everything all right?”
“Victoire's in labour,” Teddy told them. “Hurry up if you don't want to miss it.” And he disappeared again.
Rose looked as if she very much wanted to miss it, but Scorpius made her go. Family was important, even when they were mental.
They made it to St. Mungo's about fifteen minutes later, and by the time they'd got through the welcome area and into the maternity ward, everyone else was already there. The sheer number of gingers milling about the waiting area made Scorpius grin.
Rose's cousin Louis, who was Victoire's younger brother, came over to them. “All right there, you two? Teddy came out a moment ago and said things were progressing well. Shouldn't be too much longer. I didn't think we needed to all be here, I mean it's not her first baby or anything, but-”
“But you should be here for your sister,” Rose's aunt Fleur said severely, giving her son a look.
Rose looked as if she agreed with Louis, but she sat down next to her brother and gave him a gentle slug in the shoulder.
“Oi, Hugo. How come you're not back there delivering the baby?”
“Because I do magical injuries and spell damage, not obstetrics, you git,” he told her, rolling his eyes. “Besides, she's our cousin.”
“Congratulations,” Scorpius said to Fleur Weasley. “Grandbaby number five, must be very exciting.”
She gave him a smile that made him a bit breathless despite himself, even though she was probably thirty years older than he was. Veela blood ran eternal, it seemed.
“I am very happy,” she said, and he could hear a bit more of her French accent with the obvious emotion. “I am hoping for another girl, so they will name her for me.”
Scorpius chuckled. “That would be lovely.”
Victoire's sister was nowhere to be seen, and neither were Victoire's children, so Scorpius assumed the day would be Johnny Lupin-free. The kid was a menace, but he was strangely entertaining as well. He rather reminded Scorpius of Rose, actually.
Teddy burst through the doors then, his face a picture of elation. “The baby's here! They're both safe and healthy. It's a boy!”
Scorpius thought he heard Fleur swear under her breath, but she was all smiles as she hugged her son-in-law. Teddy managed to shrug off the rest of the relatives trying to hug him and went back to his wife and newborn son.
It was another couple of hours before Rose and Scorpius were able to get back to have a peek at the newest Lupin. The Healers didn't seem surprised by the deluge of Weasleys they were receiving; their family's reputation probably preceded them again. Weasleys were like ants at a picnic: there was never just one.
The baby was asleep in his tiny cot next to Victoire's bed. She looked exhausted but happy, and smiled up at them.
“Oh I'm so glad you're here! Look, Rose, isn't he precious?”
He looked a bit squished still, to be honest. Scorpius's experience with newborns was not extensive, but they all seemed to have a rather smushed appearance at first. No doubt he would settle down and start looking like a Weasley soon enough, but for now he looked rather like Teddy Lupin would if Teddy were wearing a stocking over his head.
“Um, yeah he is.” Rose gave the baby a hesitant pat somewhere in his midsection. He was bundled up in a blue blanket. “What are you calling him?”
“We're naming him for Victoire's dad,” Teddy told her proudly. “William.”
Victoire was smiling proudly. “I think it suits him, don't you?”
“It does,” agreed Scorpius, because he knew it was required. Really, it was too soon to tell what would suit the newest Lupin.
Teddy lifted the bundle up. “Would you like to hold him?”
Rose gave him a wide-eyed, frozen stare, so Scorpius took the baby. The little bundle fit nicely into the crook of his arm, and he was suddenly overwhelmed with the desire to have one with Rose.
He wondered what their baby would look like. Weasley genes did seem incredibly dominant. But as he handed the baby back to Teddy a few minutes later, he tried to dismiss the idea.
If she wouldn't even marry him, the chances of a baby seemed slim.
“We'd better go so you can bring in the next lot,” Rose said then. “They ought to just let us all in and get it over with.”
“I think that might be too many Weasleys in too small a space.” Victoire smiled. “Come over next week and see him properly, at home.”
“Yeah, all right.” Rose grabbed Scorpius's arm and they made their escape.
“He looks like Teddy,” Scorpius remarked as they headed back to the waiting area.
“I thought so too,” Rose agreed. “But he'll look like a Weasley soon enough.”
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