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The Big Reveal

 

Louis’ Soho townhouse was a who’s who of magical royalty. Scorpius wasn’t exactly a stranger to fame himself thanks to his family’s notoriety, but he’d still never seen so many celebrities under one roof. That being said, he was much more content standing on the periphery of the party with Albus, sipping iced water through a straw and wishing he was anywhere else.

 

“Remind me – why are you here again?” Albus asked, glaring across the room at Louis, who had recently decided to start plaiting his goatee and still manage to pull it off. “You know - seeing as you actually had the choice to come?”

 

“I guess I thought I’d spend all the time I could with you before I bugger off again.” Scorpius took another long sip of his drink with a sigh. “Well – that, and your fiancée threatened me.”

 

“Sorry?”

 

A crack resounded through the low-lit living room and an immaculate Victoire and dishevelled Teddy appeared, saving Scorpius from retelling the story of that morning’s rude awakening.

 

Victoire immediately swept Louis into her arms, kissed him on his forehead, and proceeded to shriek at maximum volume about how shocked she was that her little brother was so grown up. Teddy, on the other hand, looked on silently and awkwardly. They were an odd pair, really, and that was probably why it hadn’t worked out when they were younger. Victoire was a vibrant exhibitionist, whilst Teddy was a serious, silent, socially-awkward type. Teddy and Rose - who’d always shied away from the fame that Victoire embraced - made a much better match. Scorpius wondered how long it would be before Teddy realised he’d made a horrible mistake.

 

“Could they not just, like, walk through the front door like everyone else?” Albus muttered.

 

“It’s Victoire,” Lily said angrily. She had reappeared from the kitchen with Monique, and a glass of wine in each hand. “She’s always got to make a grand entrance. Merlin forbid the attention be on someone other than her.”

 

“I hope Rose is still coming tonight.” Monique said wistfully, as Teddy and Victoire disappeared off to the kitchen.

 

“Oh. Yeah, she’ll be here.” Lily said.

 

Scorpius tried not to make any visible reaction to the prospect of seeing Rose again after the awkwardness of the night before, so he held his breath - and proceeded to choke on his ice-water. Albus frowned at him, but the girls didn’t notice.

 

“What makes you so sure?” Monique asked, dubiously.

 

Lily acknowledged that she wasn’t a very good liar, but she couldn’t fall at the first hurdle. Rose’s plan might have been crazy, and very stupid, but it was her own weird way of dealing with things and Lily couldn’t let herself betray her. Ahead of the party, Lily had decided that she would keep a drink in her hand all night. That way, if somebody asked her a question she was uncomfortable answering, she could just have a drink instead. She drained both glasses of wine without pausing, held up a hand – and promptly ran to the toilet. Monique, Albus and Scorpius shared the same puzzled expression.

 

“What do you suppose that was about?” Monique wondered. She didn’t have to wait very long to find out because Hermione, Ron, Rose and Hugo walked through the front door seconds later, and they weren’t alone. A tall, handsome, wiry-haired stranger was with them. And he and Rose were holding hands.

 

*

 

As Rose suspected, her family members were hard to convince of her new relationship.

 

“Boyfriend?” her Grandma Molly repeated confusedly upon introduction to the muggle. “But at your Grandpa’s hip-bone replacement party last week, you told me you were so sick of men that you were considering dating broomsticks instead.”

 

“How do you have a boyfriend? It was only at mine and George’s anniversary last weekend that you snuck into the kitchen, ate the whole cake, cried for three hours about how lonely you were, and vomited all over yourself.” Her Aunt Angelina said sourly.

James just laughed in her face.

 

“Thanks for that, Rosie,” he grinned, pinching her cheek as she scowled at him, “I was having a really bad time at this shitfest of a party, but you’ve really cheered me up.”

 

He wandered off, still chuckling. Monique, Albus and Scorpius stood a little way off. Albus and Monique’s mouths were very slightly open.

 

Scorpius, on the other hand, wasn’t looking at Rose and Arlo at all. His eyes were fixed instead on a particularly scantily-clad woman drunkenly gyrating on top of the coffee table. Rose fought the overwhelming urge to slap him. Or the stupid woman.

 

What was so special about her, anyway? Aside from a magically-enhanced chest, the woman had as much sex appeal as a flobberworm.

 

“Blink three times if you’re being coerced into this,” Albus said by way of greeting, pointing at the couple’s intertwined hands and grinning at Arlo “unless, of course, you’ve been confounded…”

 

“You’re hurting me,” Arlo hissed. Rose realised her nails were digging into his palm. She tore her eyes from Scorpius and the vapid witch who had piqued his interest and let go of Arlo’s hand.

 

“This is Arlo.” she said, trying to keep the contempt from her voice.

 

Albus took Arlo’s outstretched hand.

 

“Nice to meet you, mate,” he said, “I’m Albus Potter.”

 

“Yes, I know who you are, of course,” Arlo said, shaking Albus’s hand excitedly, “it’s great to finally meet you.”

 

“Hi,” Monique said brusquely, turning her eyes to Rose, “can I speak to you for a second?”

 

“I…” Rose stopped abruptly, because Teddy and Victoire had just come back into the room with their drinks, “…just – wait. One moment, I… have to, erm…”

 

She didn’t finish the sentence, because she’d already yanked Arlo’s arm towards her cousin and her ex-husband. Arlo put a hand up apologetically and as they made their way over, Scorpius’s gaze shifted to Rose’s retreating head. Seeing her with another man brought the same feeling it always had. He tried to look quizzical rather than pained, but it was hard to combat the dull ache of envy somewhere deep in his chest.

 

*

 

It was as if in slow motion that Teddy dropped his careless eyes from Rose's face to her fingers, threaded through Arlo’s. The moment he realised what the intertwined hands represented was the same moment his face changed. The dark shadows beneath his eyes seemed to darken to the iris, passing shadows across all of his features.

 

Rose opened her mouth to speak.

 

Nothing came out.

 

Victoire turned her head of glossy blonde locks and saw them standing there. A huge, genuine beam lit up her features. Rose opened her mouth again, but something between her throat and her tongue malfunctioned, and all that came out was a quiet croak. But Arlo saved the day.

 

“Hello, you must be Victoire. Just as beautiful as I remember from Hogwarts.” Arlo said, as calm as Rose was nervous. He squeezed Rose’s shaking hand to comfort her, and in his free hand he swept up Victoire’s dainty fingers and kissed the underside of her palm. Rose swallowed away the bubble in her throat.

 

“And – and this is, erm…” Rose managed shakily, motioning her ex-husband without daring to look at him.

“… Terry, right?” Arlo finished for her.

 

Rose stifled nervous laughter. Whether Arlo had actually forgotten Teddy’s name, or was pulling the typical, “new lover meets old lover and calls him the wrong name to frustrate him” move was irrelevant. It had the desired effect.

 

“It’s Teddy.” Her ex snapped. Arlo squeezed her hand again. Rose managed another breath.

 

“You said you went to Hogwarts,” Victoire said, shooting Arlo a very dazzling smile, “what house were you in?”

 

 “Hufflepuff,” Arlo answered automatically, “I was four years above Rose – and I was fairly quiet, got on with my studies – you probably never noticed me.”

 

“Four years above Rose makes you… four years below me. I was a Hufflepuff, and I don’t recognise you,” Teddy replied, sourly, “what did you say your second name was?”

 

“I didn’t,” Arlo said. A house elf drifted past with a tray of Firewhiskey and Arlo reached for one, betraying nothing of his shock at the sight of the creature. Rose wondered if he’d seen so many strange things in the last twenty-four hours that nothing surprised him anymore.

 

“Where did you two meet?” Victoire asked pleasantly, as Teddy continued to furrow his brows.

 

“Well, we met at Hogwarts initially, of course, then again a few months ago, online.” Arlo replied instantly, studying the Firewhiskey bottle with too much fascination and hesitancy.

 

“And what do you do for work?” she implored.

 

Rose elbowed Arlo and he quickly looked up and added, “I’m on the research team for The Daily Prophet.”

 

“Research?” Teddy interjected. “What does that involve, exactly?”

 

“It involves… well, lots of - research.” Rose said, nervously. Victoire laughed, but Teddy looked unamused.

 

“I mean what sort of stuff do you need to research for a newspaper?” He asked bitterly.

 

“Well – specific dates, names, locations, events – otherwise, well, the newspaper would be full of all sorts of factual errors,” Arlo said, sounding completely as if he knew what he was on about, “it’s a boring job, really, but – it pays the bills, as they say!”

 

“Who says?” Teddy replied, suspiciously.

 

“Well – I – it’s a muggle phrase, I suppose. I’m muggle-born. Grew up hearing that sort of thing a lot.” Arlo said quickly, looking back down at his drink. “What is it you do, erm – Terry, was it?”

 

Teddy.” He interjected, even more furious now. Rose hid her snort with a cough. “I’m on The Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures.”

 

Teddy took a sip of his own drink, his eyes slipping momentarily over to Rose for the first time.

 

“Magical crea…?!” Arlo started, and promptly stopped. More casually, he added, “That sounds – cool. I’ve always had an interest in – in magical creatures.”

 

“They’re interesting until they’re a nuisance.”

 

“Oh, yes,” Victoire grinned, her eyes lighting up, “tell Rose and Arlo about that dragon egg that was sold as a Game of Thrones prop today. A very fiery situation, I must say!”

 

Arlo, who was taking his first sip of firewhiskey, chose that moment to choke – which was perhaps a culmination of the strange burning sensation the stuff left behind, and the confirmation that dragons existed. Luckily, this didn’t arouse too much suspicion, because at almost the exact same time, Louis pranged his wine glass with a spoon and the room fell silent.

 

“Fellows and females, family and friends,” he announced in his droll tone, holding up his hands by way of greeting, “I thank you very kindly for joining me on this, my 21st birthday party.”

 

Albus pretended to vomit; Monique elbowed him and he let out a little yelp, drawing stares.

 

“In lieu of presents, I requested that donations be made, in my name, to a charity that is very close to my heart. Children of Fame helps those born to the celebrity deal with the fame and fortune that the lifestyle brings, but in a healthier, more holistic way.”

This revelation was met with a few sniggers, namely from Louis’ cousins.

 

“I thank you for your contributions. I shall stop talking now. I hope you enjoy the rest of your night. Remain kind and compassionate. Peace out.”

 

The partygoers started to resume their conversations, but Victoire reached for Louis’ glass and tapped it gently.

 

“Vic, what are you doing?” Teddy whispered urgently, grabbing her arm. She wrestled from her fiance’s grip.

 

“Hellooo, everyone - sorry to interrupt you again. Excuse me,” she said graciously, “I’d just like to thank my little brother Lous-Lous for that beautiful speech.”

 

Lily, who had finally reappeared with another bottle of wine, booed. Rose wasn’t the only one to stare. Was her largely teetotal, sensible, drug opposed cousin actually – drunk?

 

“Erm – yes, I, erm… would just like to say that, erm…” Was Victoire actually nervous? “… Teddy and I would like to thank you all for allowing us to come tonight.”

 

“It wasn’t up to us though, was it?” Rose’s Aunt Ginny said, darkly. Rose could have ran over and kissed her. Instead, she beamed over and Ginny returned it with a nod of the head that said ‘I’ve got your back’. 

 

“We are, of course, under no illusions that we’re very well-liked by – well, rather a lot of people in this room, and for that, I’d, erm, like to apologise for the hurt we’ve caused, and…”

 

 “Teddy and Victoire, ladies and gentlemen!” Lily interrupted, swaying on the spot. She fiddled for her wand in the lining of her dress and attempted to make her way over. “Making parties about themselves since 2032!”

 

She finally managed to retrieve her wand and point it at them, but whatever she was going to do, they never found out – because she promptly passed out.

 

*

 

“Well – that must’ve made a nice change of events for you,” James joked to Rose.

 

They’d just said goodbye to Rose’s Aunt Ginny and Uncle Harry, who’d disapparated to care for an unconscious Lily, and the group of them – Rose, Arlo, James, Hugo, Monique and Albus – had dashed for the solitude of the kitchen, where small talk with distant and disliked relatives was less of a possibility.

 

Scorpius had disappeared under the guise of having a cigarette, but Rose was sure he was trying to cop off with that stupid witch he’d been leering at when she arrived. Not that she cared. She wasn’t even going to think about him. He didn’t want her and she didn’t want him, so what was the point?

 

“Shove off, James,” Rose said, lightly, “although I must say – it’s strange being the drunkee, rather than the drunk.”

 

Drunkee?” Albus repeated.

 

“You know,” Rose replied, flapping her arms, “the – drunk attendant.”

 

“Are – are you speaking actual words?” Al asked, bewildered.

 

“Of course I am. Are you drunk, too?”

 

Albus laughed and shook his head at Arlo.

 

“Are you sure you’ve not been confounded?”

 

“No - I confounded her.” Arlo grinned, wrapping an arm around Rose and drawing her close.

James’, Albus’ and Hugo’s faces changed and they all reached for their wands at the same time, but Rose was quicker. She snatched from Arlo and pushed him back, shielding him from her idiotic cousins and brother.

 

“He’s joking, you bloody imbeciles,” she snapped.

 

They all poked their wands back into their clothes, looking embarrassed.

 

“Sorry,” they said in unison.

 

“Erm – yeah. Fine,” Arlo said, visibly shaken. An uneasy silence passed over them, broken only by Monique popping open a bottle of extra-strength wizard champagne. She conjured some glasses and handed them out.

 

“To Rose and Arlo,” she said, although there was a certain sense of sarcasm to her tone, as if she was onto them, “the happy couple.”

 

They all took a sip apart from Arlo, who took a questionable sniff instead and quickly decided against it.

 

“So,” Monique said cynically, taking a large breath after a big sip of her drink, “how long have you two been together, then?”

 

“Not long.” Arlo said, cryptically. They hadn’t really discussed the ins and outs of the relationship because Rose had spent the last day telling him everything she possibly could about the wizarding world, but Monique wasn’t going to stop there.

 

“Not long? Well, come on – that’s not really answering my question, is it?” Neither Rose or Arlo offered an answer, so Monique downed her whole glass of champagne angrily and smacked it down onto the worktop. “It’s obviously been long enough that you felt ready to introduce him to your whole family.”

 

She glared at Rose and stormed off. Rose cursed and made after her; at the door, she turned to her brother, cousins and a bewildered Arlo and muttered, “I won’t be long – don’t curse Arlo, alright?”

 

She caught Monique at the bottom of the stairs. Light chatter from the garden and an acoustic ballad from a muggle stereo drifted through the French doors, but it was empty in the hallway, ideal for a private conversation. Rose decided to just tell Monique the truth about Arlo. She’d find Rose’s plan ridiculous and she’d probably even worry about her sanity, but she’d still be supportive. However, Monique turned on her before she had the chance.

 

“I can’t believe you didn’t tell me you had a boyfriend!” she snapped, “you’re supposed to be my best friend.”

 

“I…” Rose spluttered.

 

“You told Lily though, didn’t you?” Monique continued, glaring at Rose.

 

“Oh – Monique…” Rose trailed off, helplessly, “… look…” she glanced around quickly to check that nobody had come in and was listening, and she said, quietly, “… erm… we haven’t been together long. A couple of weeks, maybe. And… I sort of brought him tonight mainly because I… well – I wanted to make Teddy jealous. I thought you’d try to talk me out of it, to be honest.”

 

“Oh, of course. I'm always there for you - I've been by your side throughout your breakdown - but you still think so little of me, don’t you? You're so unbelievably selfish."

 

“No – Monique,” Rose called, desperately, as her best friend stormed off in the direction of the kitchen, “wait…”

 

As Rose attempted to follow her, Scorpius clambered through the back door and almost knocked her to the floor.

 

“Sorry,” he said quickly, steadying her. The stench of cigarette smoke on his breath was overpowering. His palms were warm, but her shoulders were covered in goosebumps as she pushed them away. Her argument with Monique had left her in a state of anger, and she decided that Scorpius was the perfect person to take it out on. He had, after all, done nothing at all – except lust after somebody who was not Rose, and that was something she just wasn’t used to.

 

“Yeah right.” she snapped.

 

 “Are you okay?” He asked concernedly. She snorted.

 

“Dunno. Is that slag you were leering at earlier okay?”

 

It was a very cheap shot and she was aware that she sounded immature. Scorpius just stared back at her, brows furrowed.

 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Rose.”

 

“Just leave it, Malfoy. You stink, by the way.”

 

He caught her arm as she tried to leave the conversation. His eyes were thin and confused.

 

“What have I done? Is – is this about last night?”

 

“No.” She snapped, wrenching again from his grip. “Believe it or not, I haven’t lost any sleep over the fact that for the first time in history, you rejected me.”

 

“Right.” He said firmly. “Well. There’s not really any need to be…”

 

He trailed off. She glared at him.

 

“What?”

 

He shook his head.

 

Say it.” She retorted.

 

“Fine. Fine. I was going to say – well, there’s no need to be a - a bitch about it.”

 

She clutched at her heart with a sarcastic gasp.

 

“You just called me a bitch. How, possibly, can I go on?” She cried, snidely.

 

“There’s plenty of other things I could call you.” He said sharply. Oh good, he was finally biting.

 

“Go on, then.” She snorted. “I’ve probably heard worse.”

 

“Stop being so childish. You haven’t changed a bit, have you?”

 

“Meaning?” She said, crossing her arms irritably.

 

“Meaning…”

 

She realised that she’d never seen his eyes filled with so much anger, and she knew that what would follow was something he’d been waiting to get off his chest for a while. Bottled up and shaken – and now she’d unscrewed the lid. She waited for the explosion.

 

“After how you treated me - all those years you strung me along, using heartbreak as an excuse whilst knowing full well how I felt about you – humiliating me at your wedding by turning me down in front of all your family and friends, making me look like the bad guy when you were the one who told me that you were confused about marrying Teddy because you loved me too… I thought, naively, that you might feel some sort of remorse. I was wrong. Thank you for showing me that you’re still the same bitter, insecure, twisted cow you’ve always been. Excuse me.”

 

Rose watched him storm away. Tears filled her narrowed eyes, warm until they spilled over their lids and left cold trails on her cheeks. She pushed into the downstairs toilet and collapsed into the basin, where she choked on her sobs, helplessly and dramatically, wondering over and over again how much people would miss her if she were to just disappear. Maybe she could disapparate to some obscure country and live out her days disguised as a muggle. Why did she act the way she did? Why did she let her emotions become her? And when was she going to stop being such a big, bloody, raving, mess?

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