A Plan Comes Together
Lily Potter’s selflessness was her most endearing feature, but it was also her fatal flaw. Sometimes she simply cared beyond all reason, like the time she sought out a mountain troll that had escaped close to her family's alpine retreat and nearly got clubbed to death, all because she couldn't bear the thought of it being killed by trained hunters. Then there was the string of relationships she'd had with saps she felt desperately sorry for – like Malcolm Macmillan, who asked her out so many times that she felt too bad to keep saying no, and Xander Zabini, who used sex addiction as an excuse to cheat on her for two years. She’d always had what Hugo called her charity cases, outcasts and addicts and generally hopeless people she would take under her wing and nurse back to an acceptable state.
Lily’s latest focus was Rose, but ensuring that her cousin was kept happy and sober was proving near impossible. Rose's devastation at the disintegration of her marriage was understandable, but she'd always been so strong. It was hard to believe that, just six months ago, Rose had been a highly committed auror who’d seen countless bodies mutilated by dark magic and ancient curses; who'd come close to death at the hands of a Voldemort fanatic, but still gone back to work the next day.
So why had this – out of everything, this, the breakdown of a relationship – sent Rose absolutely loopy?
Now Rose was Merlin knows where, drinking Merlin knows what with Merlin knows who, whilst her parents were frantically owling everybody they knew in case someone, anyone, had seen her. Lily had been trying to sleep for well over an hour now but every time she felt close to dropping off, an image of Rose face down in a ditch crept into her subconscious.
And now there was somebody in the kitchen.
Cautiously, Lily slid her wand from beneath her pillow and crept down the corridor towards the sound of clanging pots and a woman’s voice. She kicked open the kitchen door, wand outstretched, and rifling through the alcohol cupboard beneath the sink - hair bedraggled, make-up smudged - was-
“Rose!” Lily hissed. She flicked her wand at the cupboard door and Rose snatched back her fingers as the door slammed shut. “Where the bloody hell have you been? We’ve all been so worried. You can’t just disappear off the face of the earth when you’re so vulnerable.” Lily’s angry eyes fell onto the stranger standing beside her cousin. “And who the bloody hell is that?”
Arlo was still stiff with bewilderment. What with finding out magic was real, breaking his arm, and apparating for the first time, Rose was impressed that his heart hadn’t given out with the shock.
“This is my new friend, Arlo.” Rose said proudly.
“Oh, Merlin.” Lily groaned, looking from Rose to the man, and back again, “don’t tell me you’ve brought him here to shag.”
“Of course not,” Rose wrinkled her nose in disgust, “he’s my f-r-i-e-n-d. And his arm is broken. I thought you might be able to help.”
“Why not just take him to St. Mungos?” Lily replied irritably, although she’d already crouched at his side and angled her wand at his elbow. She uttered the spell casually. On a slow day at the hospital, Lily would heal hundreds of broken bones. The process that was beyond Rose’s basic first-aid auror capabilities was as simple to a healer like Lily as putting a plaster over a graze. “There. All better.”
Arlo gaped down at his elbow, shifted it slightly, and let out a little squeak. Lily stared at him, then looked over at Rose, who was making every attempt to avoid eye contact.
“Oh-kay.” Lily said slowly, “what the bloody hell's wrong with him?”
“I dunno.” Rose said, sounding as if she very much did know.
“Rose?” Lily repeated, firmly.
“Oh – alright.” Rose sighed. “I suspect he’s a bit shocked. You see… Arlo’s sort of - a muggle.”
“Rose!” Lily snapped, “how could you be so careless? You need to obliviate him!”
“Yes, mum.” Rose said irritably. She raised her wand to Arlo’s agape face – but Lily was quicker. She slapped Rose’s forearm and the wand clattered to the floor.
“You’re too drunk.” Lily said sternly. Rose rubbed her arm furiously.
“I’m fine. Besides, you just told me to do it.”
“Yes, well, it’s a very intricate spell that you must do right.”
“No shit, Lily. Do you not think I don’t know what I’m doing?”
“That makes no sense, which doesn’t exactly fill me with optimism.”
“I can do it,” Rose said furiously, “I do stuff like this every day.”
“Every day?” Lily repeated with a snort, “Rose, every day you lie in bed and smear chocolate all over your sheets and drink yourself into a stupor because the man you love is happier with somebody else.”
“I’m depressed, alright?” Rose said dramatically.
“Is that what you’re calling it?!” Lily laughed almost maniacally, snatching her cousin’s wand, “you’re pathetic, Rose.”
“I’m pathetic?!” Rose shrieked, diving for her wand and missing. “Yes, well, at least I’m not married to my job.”
Lily ignored the sting of these words. It was true that she spent long hours at the hospital, which had taken a toll on her personal life – old friends had fallen out of touch and her last relationship had ended two years ago, shortly after her residency at St. Mungo’s began – but that was what happened when you were a committed employee. Unlike some people. Lily opened her mouth to say something she’d have probably regretted. Luckily, Arlo spared her the effort. He bent over and vomited.
“It’s alright,” Lily said carefully, as Rose heaved at the sight and smell of it. Lily vanished the mess and patted Arlo’s back. He retched once more, then he straightened up and looked at her. His lips shook as if he was trying to speak, but nothing came out. Men tended to go like this around Lily, who had inherited her mother’s beautiful elfin features and slight frame.
“Don’t worry,” Lily said sympathetically, “apparation tends to do that to the stomach the first few times. You get used to it. Here,” she conjured a glass. It filled itself up at the sink and floated towards him, “drink.”
He reached for it uncertainly, unnerved by the sight of it. Lily smiled encouragingly, and he drained the whole thing in one large swallow.
“Thank you.” He swallowed. His voice was rough. “I’m Arlo.”
“Lily.” She held out a hand, which he took without hesitation and shook vigorously. “I’m Rose’s cousin, unfortunately.”
“You – don’t look… much alike, apart from – from the hair,” he nodded at Rose’s wild locks, which had become windswept on their short journey, “…although, yours isn’t, quite like – that, Lily. I mean, not that yours is… you know, bad…” he added, gesturing Rose.
“Someone needs to obliviate him.” Rose snapped. She turned to Lily. “And if I’m not allowed to do it, you can. You’ve got my wand, after all.”
“Might I remind you what happened the last time I tried to obliviate someone?” Lily asked sourly. Lily’s best friend Sara split from her boyfriend during sixth year and begged Lily to obliviate any trace of their relationship. What actually happened was that Sara’s head nearly exploded, and Lily narrowly avoided getting expelled. It was the first and last time she ever got on her mother’s bad side.
Shivering, Lily turned to Rose and snapped, “you’re intoxicated – as usual – so you’re going to have to take it to someone else. Who better than the minister herself?”
“Sorry…” Arlo said quickly, looking a lot less peaky now that he’d expelled the contents of his stomach, “…what is it you’re doing to me?”
“Wiping your memory.” Rose said matter-of-factly. “I can’t take him to my parents, Lily. They’ll kill me.”
“Wiping my…?” Arlo repeated, “…b – but what if I don’t want you to wipe my memory? Surely I at least get a say?”
“I’m sorry, it’s customary.” Lily said in the same careful, clinical way she delivered bad news to a patient.
“But you can’t just… just… drag me into all this and then… and then make me forget about it. I mean – I mean…” without the ache of his broken limb and the shock and nausea that followed his first apparation, Arlo was getting very excitable again, “…magic is real. Tonight I’ve – I’ve teleported, and I’ve seen things float through the air, and – and you fixed my broken arm, in, like, 2 seconds. That would revolutionise modern medicine by the way, I mean, why would you want to keep something like this a secret?”
“Because we’d all be very much in demand.” Lily said firmly. “And we don’t need that sort of hassle.”
“All? How many of you is there?”
“Thousands. All living amongst you.” Rose said mysteriously.
“Wait – there’s thousands of wizards and witches… and you all just go around wiping memories?” Arlo asked, sounding both astounded and disgusted.
“Look, Rose, you’ve done much worse. Your mum will understand.” Lily said.
Rose looked at Arlo dubiously, and shook her head.
“This is too much. Mum will genuinely throw me out. I mean – she’s been threatening to do it for months, and – this, after running off from Al and Monique’s – is as good a reason as any for her to follow through. Merlin I’m pathetic,” Rose sighed dramatically, leant up against the kitchen counters and dropped her head in her hands, “I’m a sad, pathetic, drunken, boyfriend-less twat. No wonder I’m alone.”
Lily opened her mouth to interject, but Arlo was quicker.
“Stop a sad, pathetic, drunken and boyfriend-less twat, then. Get yourself out there. Socialise. Meet people. Get a new boyfriend. If you don’t wipe my memory, I can help you. I mean, I have single friends I’m sure would like to take you out… and in return you could – tell me all about magic.”
“He’s right, Rose.” Lily replied, nodding vigorously, “I mean – you’re still getting obliviated,” she motioned Arlo, “but – the muggle talks some sense, Rose, I’ll give him that.”
“Hm… I do think you’re onto something, Arlo…” Rose said, frowning thoughtfully.
“Hallelujah!” Lily shrieked. But Rose was watching Arlo with an odd, contemplative look on her face that made Lily promptly regret her premature cheer of celebration. A thoughtful and drunk Rose was a disastrous combination.
“What if I allowed him to keep his memory and pretend to be my boyfriend?!”
“No.” Lily said blankly.
“It’s perfect,” Rose continued, “I could say I left to see Arlo because I was feeling upset. And then I’d look like I was finally getting my shit together, and… and it would make Teddy so jealous, to see me with someone else. I bet that would really get to him, and to Victoire too, to see me happier without him. I could be all like – you’re welcome to him – and then Teddy will come begging for me back. What do you think?”
She looked triumphant, but Arlo seemed wary and Lily snorted.
“I think you’ve finally gone completely bat-shit insane.”
"I think it’s perfect.” Rose said, defensively.
“In what world is it perfect?” Lily laughed in disbelief, “right – I know, let’s entertain the notion of you going home, right now, and introducing Arlo as your boyfriend. How are you supposed to have met him when you’ve spent the last six months holed up in your childhood bedroom?”
“Easy. I met him on ye olde wizarding world web.”
“Erm, in case you haven’t noticed, Arlo is a muggle.”
“I hadn’t noticed. Have you noticed that you’re a non-magical person, Arlo?” Rose said, sarcastically.
“How did you meet him on the wizarding world web when he’s a muggle?” Lily sighed, “and you know I don’t have anything against muggles, but I don’t feel like you parading a muggle around is going to make Teddy jealous. More than anything, it’s just going to make you look desperate. No offence.” She added to Arlo, who looked quite offended.
“He can be a wizard then.” Rose shrugged.
“That solves nothing. For starters, he’s going to have to be a damn good actor to fool some of the most talented witches and wizards alive into thinking that he’s magical. And I think you’re also forgetting how easy it would be for your mother, the minister for magic, to do a quick search in the archives for Arlo’s name and find no matches.”
“It would be easy for her to do that, but she wouldn’t. This is my mother you’re talking about. She has more important stuff to worry about like, erm, I don’t know, running wizarding UK.”
Lily looked lost for anything else to say, so she looked to Arlo instead and folded her arms.
“Please tell her she’s lost it.”
Arlo bit his lip and glanced at the floor.
“I mean – it’s not completely ridiculous. It means I don’t have to lose my memory - and it would get me out of the house, so… I’ll do it.”
“Yay!” Rose grinned, throwing her arms around her new friend. Lily sighed derisively.
“You know this is just going to end badly. I really don’t want to have to say I told you so, Rose, because it’s so cliché.”
Rose let go of Arlo, grinned widely at her cousin, and pulled her into a hug.
“I know you’re trying to look out for me, Lil. I appreciate it. But I have to make Teddy realise that he wants me back, and I feel like this is the only way.”
There were so many things Lily should have said in that moment. Rose, you’re worth so much more than the prick who broke your heart. You’re a thousand times better than our whore of a cousin who stole him away from you. There are hundreds of ways you can make him see what he’s missing, but in the end none of them matter, because you deserve somebody who would never treat you like he has.
But Lily let the selflessness of her heart reign over the logic of her mind as she had done so many times before, and what she said instead was-
“Fine. I’m here for you. We’ll make that bastard see what he’s missing.”
“So you have a boyfriend?” Hermione repeated dubiously, turning from the kettle to stare at the handsome newcomer sat at the kitchen table, “and this is him?”
Arlo smiled grimly. He was still a bit pale from the shock of seeing Rose’s parents’ house spring up from nowhere. On approach he could have sworn it had been the same as the other white-brick terraces on the unassuming Westminster street, and then all of a sudden the neighbouring houses had jumped a couple of hundred feet sideways to accommodate a large manor complete with columns and sprawling, well-manicured grounds.
“Yes, mum,” Rose sighed for the fourth time.
“Why didn’t you tell us you had a boyfriend?” Ron replied, eyeing Arlo suspiciously.
“I didn’t want to jinx it.”
Hermione frowned and looked like she might have another question, but Hugo chose that moment to enter the kitchen in nothing but a tiny pair of boxers, and they all gaped in horror at his furry ginger pot belly and man boobs.
“What’s going on? What’s all the noise about?” he asked irritably, scratching his stomach. His eyes fell on Arlo and flashed with recognition, “wait – I know you from somewhere…”
“No you don’t.” Rose snapped, “this is my boyfriend, Arlo,” she stood up and seized Arlo’s arm, “Arlo, this is my brother, Hugo.”
“How have you got a boyfriend when you’ve barely left your room in months?” Hugo frowned, tearing open a yoghurt and sniffing it questionably.
“He has got a point, Rose.” Her mother replied, folding her arms dubiously.
“Well, what are you suggesting? That I’m – like – desperate enough to just – like – make up a boyfriend?” Rose said irritably.
“Yes.” Hugo confirmed.
“If you must know, we met in Hogwarts, but there’s this thing called the worldwide wizarding web, and we reconnected on it.” Rose snapped, sarcastically.
“You went to Hogwarts?”
Arlo looked at him blankly. “I – I don’t know where that…”
“Of course he did, and that’s why you recognise him!” Rose said quickly.
“But you said…”
“Arlo!” Rose shrieked impatiently, cutting straight across her brother and yanking the muggle by the arm, “a word?!”
A very confused Arlo let Rose pull him viciously into the garden room. She locked the door behind them, and pulled the curtains to a close so that her family couldn’t watch them.
“You know how wizardry and witchcraft is real, and stuff?” Rose asked. Arlo nodded eagerly, and Rose continued. “Well, there’s a few things you should know.”
“Like what Hog’s warts is?”
“Hogwarts. It’s a school.”
“A school for witches and wizards?”
“Awesome! Where is it?!”
“I – somewhere in Scotland, I think, but…”
“You think? Didn’t you go there?!”
“Yes, every witch or wizard…”
“And what sort of magic do you learn? Could I go there? Just to have a look round?”
“No, don’t be stupid,” Rose replied impatiently, “muggles can’t even see it.”
“And a muggle is a non-magical person, right? So how do I learn magic?”
“Learn? You’re either born with magic or you’re not. It’s not something you can learn. But…” Rose added quickly, because Arlo suddenly looked very sad, “… I can tell you all about it, and you'll see plenty of it whilst you're here. I just need you to know some things about my family if we’re going to be a fake couple. Things that may – erm – be quite – necessary to hear. Basically, in the wizarding world, my parents are famous…”
“That explains the massive house. What do they do?”
“Well – my Uncle Harry, he – sort of defeated a really evil, really powerful wizard. And my parents helped. This wizard almost killed him multiple times, and there was this huge wizarding war in the late nineteen-nineties, and then when that was all over, they revolutionised the Ministry of Magic and passed all sorts of helpful laws…”
“There was a wizarding war? And you have a ministry of magic? Christ! How do you people keep all this stuff secret?!”
“We’re magical,” Rose reminded him, trying not to sound irritated, “we can basically do anything we want.”
“Of course, of course…” he gabbled, “so – this ministry, is it – I guess it’s like parliament, is it, and you have a prime-minister and that sort of thing?”
“Well, my mum’s the Minister for Magic, yes.”
“So – you’re like – you’re really important and really famous, like – you’re a sort of – wizarding royal family?”
“Not exactly, we just…”
“Wait, so what sort of jobs do normal wizards have?”
“We do all sorts. Healing, shop work, ministry work…”
“What do you do?
“I’m an auror. Sort of like a – police officer, but you don’t need to know anything about me. I just need you to know more about our world, if you've got any chance of passing as a wizard - okay?”
He looked at her doubtfully.
“But if they think I’m a wizard, they’ll probably ask me to do some magic, won’t they? What do I do then?”
“They won’t ask you,” Rose assured him, “and even if they do, I’ll do it for you. I’m quite good at wordless incantations.”
“I don’t know…” he replied quickly, shaking his head, “… I…I don’t know if I can pass off being a proper wizard…”
“You call yourself an actor,” she retorted, “isn’t this just a test of your abilities?”
“I – I suppose, but… I don’t know, it’s a lot to take in… and – and you say I don’t need to know anything about you, but surely if we’re allegedly in a relationship, I’d know you quite well, especially considering you’re a part of this really famous family…”
Annoyingly, he had a point.
“…And what am I supposed to do, as a wizard? And did I go to this Hogwarts?”
“I don’t know, we can make a backstory. And yes, you went there, but they won’t recognise you because your name won’t be one they’ve heard, so we’ll have to make you muggle-born.”
“A wizard, born to muggle parents.”
“Wait…” he replied quickly, shaking his head, “that can happen?!”
“Yes. And no, I don’t know how,” Rose interjected quickly and impatiently, because he’d opened his mouth again, “and yes, you did go to Hogwarts because it’s the only British wizarding school and everybody magical is invited to attend there. And let’s say you were four years above me, and that you were a Hufflepuff.”
“Huffle… is that some sort of wizarding insult?” he muttered, looking offended.
“No.” Rose didn’t know how she’d lasted this long without hexing the guy. Why couldn’t she have chosen an actual wizard to be her fake boyfriend?
“Hufflepuff is a house at Hogwarts.”
“Were you in Hufflepuff too?”
“No,” Rose accidentally snorted. Rearranging her features, she continued. “I was in Gryffindor, like the rest of my family. Well, my cousin Albus was sorted into Slytherin, but that's still a bit of a sore subject. There’s also Ravenclaw.”
“Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Gryffindor and… Slithering.” He repeated, ticking them off with his fingers.
“Right. And we met in Hogs warts.”
“What do I do for work?”
“Oh, I don’t know… I guess you can work for The Daily Prophet. It’s a popular wizarding newspaper, but my Aunt Ginny writes for the sports column, so I suppose you’d have to be behind the scenes – in research, or something – which is why she’s never heard of you. Do you think you’ll remember all this?”
“I think so,” he nodded, looking a little terrified.
“Good. Anything else you need to know…?” He opened his mouth, eyes large and eager, “…that isn’t about the wizarding world?”
He sighed and shook his head, reminding Rose remarkably of a sour child. She smiled.
“Great. Let’s go and get some sleep,” she pulled back the curtains to reveal her parents and brother, staring suspiciously at them through the glass doors.
Rose turned away from their gazes. "Just let me know if there’s anything I forgot to tell you.”
“There is one thing,” he replied, casually, “what’s your name again?”
Author's Note: Another late update, sorry. I'm so happy people are enjoying this - thanks for reading and reviewing. It means so much :)
I'm not loving this chapter - there's not much action and definitely not enough Scorpius - but hopefully the next one will make up for it ;)
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