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Starving Artists by peppersweet
Chapter 10: Operation Hippogriff is Go!
Chapter Ten - Operation Hippogriff is Go!
Gwendolyn/Raven was wearing pink. This instantly struck me as quite strange, given that she was the sort of person who habitually lived in black and things with spikes on them. We sat side by side on the common room sofa, an elaborate tea set on the table before us, macaroons and finger sandwiches stacked high on a cake stand.
‘Macaroon, Lucy?’ she asked, gesturing to the stand. I took a violently blue macaroon and bit into it, but it dissolved instantly. Confused, I looked at my hand, but the macaroon had gone; instead my hand was stained entirely blue.
‘Yes, they have a tendency to do that,’ Gwendolyn/Raven said. ‘The sandwiches are a little more polite.’
‘I see,’ I said.
‘Lucy,’ she repeated, staring blankly at the cake stand.
Only then was I aware of a sudden sharp prodding in the small of my back.
‘Ouch, stop it.’
‘Lucy,’ Gwendolyn/Raven said again.
‘I know, I can hear you, stop it-’
‘I’m right here,’ I waved a hand in front of her face. ‘I’m listening!’
But something was strange. My hand moved slowly, as if it moved through water and not air. The persistent prodding continued.
‘I’m right here!’ I yelled, sitting up poker-straight and smacking at the source of the jabbing. ‘Stop shouting!’
‘Lucy…’ Gwendolyn/Raven said, in a very quiet and considerably more masculine voice. ‘It’s you that’s shouting.’
That was when I properly open my eyes and realised where I was: Scorpius’ bed, the duvet the wrong way round, leaving my feet exposed to the cold air. And what I’d thought was Gwendolyn/Raven was actually Scorpius, standing over me, cradling his face in his hands.
‘Sorry,’ he said, voice muffled through his fingers. ‘Couldn’t figure out how to wake you up.’
‘There were macaroons,’ I dithered, trying to cover my embarrassment at having just clobbered him in the face whilst half-asleep. ‘I was having a macaroon…’
‘It’s nearly eleven,’ he said, rubbing the bridge of his nose. ‘I’m about to make lunch.’
‘Nothing,’ I said, rubbing my eyes. ‘Did I break your nose?’
‘Just about,’ he replied. ‘Look, I found some potion in the bathroom cabinet that’ll fix our hair, shall we use it this afternoon?’
‘Ace,’ I said. ‘Of course.’
‘Also,’ Scorpius held up a scrap of parchment. ‘Al sent an owl round, he’s back in London and he wanted to know if you were up for a drink the day after tomorrow.’
‘Yeah, that should be good.’
‘And, er…’ Scorpius gazed down at me before hurriedly turning away to the door. ‘I’ll give you a chance to get sorted.’
‘Sorted? Huh?’ I said, sitting up sharply. It was then that I remembered that I was in my pyjamas and, well, in his bed, and from the state of my hair it was probably clear that I hadn’t had a chance to wash it in three days.
‘Right you are,’ I said, shimmying out from beneath the duvet and reaching into one of my cardboard boxes for some clean clothes. ‘Don’t run any water, I’m going to have a shower…that applies to you too, Tarquin,’ I added, as the two of us entered the kitchen and I noticed him sitting at the table, busily tying his hair up with a vividly orange scrunchie.
‘I won’t be an inconvenience, I’m off,’ Tarquin said. ‘They’re doing a sale on spray paint somewhere in town, I need fresh stock.’
I’d gathered since the start of the year that Tarquin only painted in two ways: with a paintballing gun, or with a can. This, I think, contributed to the heavy cloud of fumes that seemed to hang around his bedroom door and also around several of the studios at the Art School, not to mention around Gwendolyn/Raven herself, who seemed to also be fair game as a painting material.
I shrugged. ‘Alright. See you later then.’
Clothes and washbag tucked under one arm, I stepped into the bathroom. For a couple of boys and specifically art students living on their own, it was surprisingly clean. Not Rose Weasley clean, perhaps, but clean and tidy none the less. Given the state of Scorpius’ hair, I more put this down to an actual lack of use than simple good habits. The flat had obviously been built and decorated in the nineteen seventies and not been touched since – the bathroom walls were a particularly garish shade of pink with pastel-green curtains tacked up over the windows and a yellow suite. The shower curtain looked as if it had once been a painting experiment of Tarquin’s, or perhaps had been accidentally dropped on the floor and trampled on a bit. I suspected the latter.
Not that any of this bothered me. The more I spent time in London away from my family and in a close proximity with the likes of Rose, the more I realised how unlike my Dad or my cousins I’d turned out to be. Fair enough, I’d inherited the Weasley sense of fun and ability to keep down drink, but I certainly hadn’t inherited the obsessive cleanliness and nitpicking of my parents, and I was certainly at the other end of the ‘tidy’ spectrum from Rose. Then again, I was an art student. It was all part of my ethos. Old habits die hard anyway. Back when I was a Hufflepuff and had to share a dormitory, I was notorious for leaving things lying around where they would be tripped over. Luckily Rose turned out to be a Ravenclaw, so any serious meltdowns common-room wise were easily avoided.
And usually it was me who tripped over the stuff anyway.
I managed to survive using the shower. After five minutes of it being on anyway. It seemed to have a life of its own, and for a while I was warding it off with a bottle of shampoo whilst trying not to drench myself in freezing water. Eventually, I managed to coax it into actually staying fixed to the wall; it shuddered out a few pitiful jets of lukewarm water and then went cold again. I did manage to get used to it, after a fashion, but met some difficulty in actually trying to turn it off afterwards. It took me at least a good ten minutes, by which time I’d almost managed to skin my hands raw wrenching at the temperature dial.
Art student life, you know. Just an occupational hazard.
Finally, I emerged back into the sitting room, dressed in clean clothes and with a large, tie-dyed towel wrapped around my hair. Scorpius looked up from his place at the piano, a clanging chord echoing into silence.
‘Er, that’s Tarquin’s towel,’ he said.
‘Oh, right.’ I pulled the towel free of my head and tossed it back through the bathroom door. Scorpius was trying hard not to grin, toying with the piano keys. In an effort to regain composure, I busied myself in pointing my wand at my head to dry my hair. Quick, but with alarmingly frizzy results.
‘You have to use the potion stuff when you hair’s dry,’ Scorpius explained. ‘It takes ten minutes or something, just lifts the colour off, apparently. You know, pow, colour gone.’
‘Good. Er, what are you playing, by the way?’ I said, indicating the score, which looked like a mass of scribbled lines.
The doorbell rang, cutting him off. ‘That’s probably Tarquin back,’ I said, crossing over to the front door. ‘I’ll get it.’
Humming under my breath, I unlatched the front door. But it wasn’t Tarquin on the doorstep. It was a tall, pale man with one finger hovering over the doorbell, a hairline that seemed to have chased itself all the way to the back of his head, and a killer sneer that brought colour to my face.
‘Erm,’ I said.
‘Is Scorpius in?’ the man demanded. He looked quite scary. I wasn’t sure whether to let him in or not – one head injury in forty-eight hours was probably too much for Scorpius, and this man looked like he meant mean business – so instead I kept one hand on the doorframe and asked who he was.
‘I,’ he said imperiously. ‘Am Scorpius’ father.’
‘Lucy Weasley,’ I held out a hand. ‘Pleased to meet you.’
He grimaced down at my hand, then shook it for the briefest of moments. ‘Charmed.’
At that moment Scorpius managed to struggle free from his piano stool and, looking alarmed, shot over to the door, prising my fingers from the frame. ‘I’ll…er…thanks, Lucy, I’ll…handle this…’
I stepped back from the door, letting Scorpius’ Dad sweep into the hallway. His disdainful gaze fell on the traffic cone and the collection of muddy shoes by the door before rising to the wall, where, beside the poster of the melting clock, Tarquin had pinned up a poster with a rather rude limerick he’d written about Scorpius. His eyes widened slightly; I cast my eyes to the floor in embarrassment, but saw that he was clenching his fists as if he was ready for a fight.
‘Lucy…er…do you want to…’
‘Go somewhere else?’ I offered. ‘Yeah, no problem.’
Glad to be excused from the intense hurricane of tension that was whirling through the hallway, I hurried through into the kitchen/sitting room then down the narrow corridor where the bathroom and bedrooms were. I contemplated dashing into the bathroom – but then what would Scorpius’ Dad think if he stayed there for hours and the whole time I was locked in the loo?
So instead I made a beeline for Tarquin’s room, but upon opening the door an immense cloud of paint fumes drifted out and I jumped back, coughing, reaching for the next door, which happened to be Scorpius’ room again.
Given how apparently sensitive and caring Scorpius seemed to be, I’d expected his room to be quite orderly, maybe a little on the eccentric side, but probably quite well tidied. He was, after all, often seen tidying up after the tornado that was Tarquin and Gwendolyn/Raven. His room was, in reality, a total mess. I’m not even kidding. I hadn’t really had a chance to look at it much when I’d staggered in blind drunk and claimed the bed the night before, but, in the clear daylight, I could see how well it justified the use of the phrase ‘this room is like a bombsite’. It was even worse than mine had been. Stuff was everywhere, and the thin curtain that had been pulled back over the open window looked like it was made of several curtains. I didn’t know what colour the walls were; there weren’t actually any walls left. They were just covered in…stuff.
After a minute of slack-jawed staring, I picked my way around the room a bit. I began to see a sort of order to the chaos. Clothes – mostly knitted jumpers and cardigans – were definitely confined to a heap in a corner. There was a clear distinction between stacks of photographs and stacks of paper. The desk was obviously a dumping ground for what looked like a half-finished piece of embroidery, although my Mum as an embroidery fan probably would have fainted at the sight of it. I don’t know how talented you really have to be to bring cat vomit to life through the medium of embroidery, but Scorpius obviously had that talent.
A number of drawings and posters had been tacked to the walls, all done on varying qualities of paper. A few confined to the left of the door looked like sketches for the cat vomit embroidery, whereas a group of sketches on the opposite wall were in fact quite tasteful drawings of Tower Bridge. Over the bed, a large poster of a band in frilly shirts, mopey gazes and floppy fringes was hung beside another of the melting clock prints. Not a poem in sight, although I recognised the notebook that had been tossed unceremoniously onto a chair.
I was quite happily making my way around the room, treating it as a sort of mini-gallery, when I realised how silent it had actually become in the flat. For a second I thought Scorpius’ Dad might have left and put my hand on the door handle, ready to leave, but then raised voices came from the kitchen and I let go. I was busily examining a sheaf of photographs from the Christmas party when I heard Scorpius shout ‘IT’S A METAPHOR, DAD!’
‘Oh dear,’ I muttered to myself, putting the photos back down again.
Half an hour later it occurred to me that Scorpius’ Dad was probably planning to visit for a long time, and I’d run out of things to look at in the room. I didn’t much fancy reading anything out of the poetry notebook – I felt I’d heard enough already and, besides, it was likely to just depress me – so instead I pushed the cat vomit embroidery aside and took a seat on the edge of the bed, trying not to wrinkle the duvet cover seeing as I’d just made the bed out of absolute boredom. That’s when my eyes fell on another notebook, tucked under the poetry one on the chair. I thought maybe it was poetry notebook the second, but slid it out anyway, thinking that as I was probably going to be stuck there for a while I may as well find some reading material.
It wasn’t, however, a writing notebook. It was a photo album. Perhaps he’d been using it as inspiration for his latest bucketload of tortured, rhyming outpourings. The first picture confirmed this in that it contained Rose. It wasn’t exclusively a photograph of her – Al seemed to be the focal point, and a few other people hung around the edges of the picture, smiling, cast into sallow light in what was unmistakeably the Slytherin common room. I did a bit of a double-take – Rose was, after all, a Ravenclaw through-and-through – but then as the people in the photo continued to blink and smile up at me I remembered that in the last few years of school she’d hung around with Al and Scorpius anyway, so she was probably bound to have been in the Slytherin common room sometimes. I, after all, had been to the Gryffindor and Ravenclaw towers plenty of times, and had made occasional visits to the dungeons, mostly on my ill-fated Firewhiskey smuggling business of fifth year.
So I continued to turn the pages, looking at photos of various people in Slytherin robes I didn’t know and my two cousins. It got a little boring after a while, especially when it came to the fourth shot of the Slytherin Quidditch team looking cold and uncomfortable, a grim-faced Al at the helm. But, then, halfway through the book, I found a happier photograph of a party and a very recognisable blonde girl making an idiot of herself in the background. The party in question being the end-of-O.W.Ls Hufflepuff house party, and the girl in question being me. It was supposed to be a photo of Al and Scorpius, but I think the picture was kind of stolen by me shimmying past in the background and then tripping over, pulling several other fifth years down with me.
I turned another page. Here was a picture that made me do a bit of a double-take; Rose and Scorpius. Side by side. In a park. Both smiling. A picture about as rare as a Dodo and twice as strange to look at. I flipped past that page quickly, slighty unnerved by Rose’s grin. It just wasn’t…right.
After that there weren’t really any more pictures of note, just a few holiday snaps of a pretty beach and an especially goofy shot of Scorpius in oversized sunglasses, moping beneath a bright sun. Then the album finished. I turned it back to the first page, ignoring the raised voices from the kitchen, looking down at my cousin’s rare smile.
‘You miss her, don’t you?’ I said to nobody in particular. The voices outside fell silent. I clapped my hand over my mouth, thinking that Scorpius and his Dad were probably a little bemused after hearing my disembodied voice float through the walls. But then the arguing resumed, just as loud as it had been before – Scorpius leading with an anguished cry of ‘You just don’t appreciate my art!’
Sighing, I put the photo album aside, and reflected that I was probably there for the long run.
Scorpius finally let me out of his room an hour and a half later, by which time I was amusing myself by sitting upside down on the bed and trying to figure out if his drawings made any more sense when viewed the wrong way up (they didn’t). He opened the door, gave me a funny look, then turned the colour of a beetroot with bad sunburn and muttered something about it being alright to come out now. I followed him out, taking care to stretch my legs, which had gone dead in my spate of upside-down picture viewing.
His Dad hadn’t left yet, however. He was standing in the middle of the kitchen, pulling on a pair of gloves with such ferocity it seemed each mitt had done him great personal harm. When I entered the room he looked up with that killer sneer he’d given me on the threshold, but didn’t say a word. Somehow I felt the sneer communicated his feelings about me enough. Scorpius stood between the two of us, playing with his fringe and looking increasingly uncomfortable.
‘Have you heard from your mother?’ Scorpius’ Dad asked him, sounding very bitter indeed. In the split second before Scorpius answered I managed to capture the scene; one hell of a bitter father, one hell of a family background – and for a moment fully understood why Scorpius presented himself as such a tortured soul.
‘I stayed with her at Christmas,’ Scorpius said, shuffling from foot to foot. ‘She was asking after you.’
‘Right,’ his Dad said. ‘Right. Okay.’
‘But she asked me to tell you to stop sending her owl post, because she gets the message.’
‘She also said to tell you that in no way has she forgotten the year before and-’
‘I’m just passing on the message-’
‘You are leaving, aren’t you?’ Scorpius asked, sounding a little hopeful.
‘Yes, I have business to attend to in-’
Without further ado, Scorpius stopped playing with his fringe and marched over to the front door, unlatching it and letting it swing wide open. His Dad looked affronted, but made for the door anyway, taking extra care to kick aside one of my cardboard boxes as he passed. I caught Scorpius’ eye – he rolled his eyes and mouthed an apology, making to shut the door – but then his Dad turned on the doorstep for one last dig at his son.
‘You’re-’ he said, but then Scorpius slammed the door in his face. A huge awkward silence ensued. The phrase ‘elephant in the room’ wouldn’t have been appropriate enough. It was more like ‘safari park in the room’.
‘I think your Dad was about to say something.’
Scorpius made a face. ‘Eek, I didn’t realise. I thought he’d gone.’
‘Ooh, he’s really horrible-’
‘You try being brought up by him.’
‘How did he end up spawning you?’
‘Spawning me? We’re not frogs, Lucy-’
‘No, of course not, we’re ducks.’
The safari park in the room slowly decreased back to the size of an elephant. Scorpius sighed, did one of his token anguished running-of-hands-through-hair, and then moved back into the sitting room, finally flopping down on the sofa. I took a seat in the armchair.
‘Er, that was some argument you had,’ I said, addressing the problem of the elephant in the room.
‘Are you alright?’
‘Fine and dandy.’
The elephant still lingered in the room.
‘Um – hope you don’t mind me asking – what were you actually arguing about?’
‘Various things,’ Scorpius said, vaguely. I was about to ask him to elaborate when he read my mind and spoke again. ‘Quite a lot, actually. Er, he had a bit of a rant about the flat, says he can’t understand why I’m sharing with a ‘waster’ and a Weasley.’
‘Nothing personal, I think he just kind of hates your family…which is kind of weird, because there are a lot of you.’
‘You don’t say.’
‘And another thing,’ Scorpius continued, ‘is apparently I take my mum’s side too much and I should be a bit more impartial…kind of hard to take the side of an idiot, though.’
‘I see what you mean.’
‘And…well, he said he’s never sending me money for food again. Ergo I have to get a job. Quickly. Or I’ll starve.’
This last phrase reminded me of something. ‘Lunch,’ I said. ‘It’s lunchtime, right?’
Scorpius glanced at his watch – the glow-in-the-dark one, naturally – and nodded, before getting up off the sofa and making his way over to the kitchen cupboards. He opened one and had a good look inside before withdrawing his head and saying ‘well, you can have noodles or beans, or both.’
A few minutes later the two of us sat at opposite ends of the sofa, tucking into noodles with a bean garnish. Scorpius, evidently not pleased, was shaking a small heap of pepper onto his dish. I didn’t blame him; my noodles were a solid lump with a few half-hearted cold beans chucked on the top. I wasn’t sure Scorpius actually knew how to work the cooker, but at that moment in time, given the state of him, I was too polite to ask.
‘Right,’ he said, brusquely, after he’d dumped the pots and bowls in the sink and made a promise to deal with them later (translation: made a promise to let me take care of them the next morning when I wanted to make breakfast and couldn’t find anything to eat it off). ‘On to the hair un-dye, then.’
We decamped to the bathroom. I sat on the edge of the bath, twiddling my thumbs, while Scorpius leant against the wall and tried to decipher the mostly foreign instructions on the back of the bottle.
‘This is worse than Runes,’ he said. ‘It’s in Russian.’
‘Can you read Russian?’
‘Of course not. There is a translation in German...’
‘Can you read German, then?’
‘Not at all, but I think the general gist is you put it on your head, leave it there for about five minutes and then…woosh, dye gone. Seems a bit simple…’
‘Whatever,’ I took the bottle from his hands; he was staring at the label, possibly getting ready to critique the design and artistic qualities of the logo. ‘Let’s get cracking.’
That’s how we ended up honouring the resolution. Simple as. It gave Al a bit of a fright when we turned up at The Hornet, a favourite pub for Al and his Healing student friends. Unlike the usual sort of hovels I was used to hanging around with Scorpius in, The Hornet was a smart, elegantly decorated pub, with proper cushions on the seat and warm, complimentary lighting throughout. The bartender even had a walrus moustache.
I had to tap Al on the shoulder before he noticed us. He looked up, pulled a face, did a double take, and then smiled.
‘It’s been ages since I’ve seen you two blonde,’ he grinned. ‘What’s the occasion?’
‘Me and Scorpius are getting married. No, it’s just general hair maintenance.’
I took the seat next to Al – incidentally the one with the plumpest cushions and the armrests – and Scorpius sat opposite, looking quite mopey and out of place in the warmly-lit, upmarket pub surroundings. Al had chosen a seat right at the back, as far away from the bar as possible, half-hidden behind a wall. A large pair of antlers hung on the wall behind Scorpius. If I squinted and tilted my head back enough, it actually looked like he was half-stag.
‘Right,’ Al said. ‘I’ll go and-’
But I cut him off by kicking him under the table. See, I had a plan. A plan that concerned Scorpius, and therefore not for Scorpius’ ears.
‘Al went up last time and I did the time before, Scorpius, it’s your turn to get the first round,’ I lied. Scorpius looked a little baffled, but shrugged and sloped off to the bar anyway.
I turned to Al instantly, flattening my hands on the table. ‘I have a plan,’ I said, ‘but I’ll have to tell you really quickly before Scorpius comes back-’
‘Does it involve the antlers? I was thinking it might involve the antlers-’
‘No, not the antlers – Al, have you ever noticed how mopey and miserable Scorpius is?’
‘Do bears crap in the woods?’
‘Yeah, I know. See, I was in his room the other day – long story,’ I added, at Al’s inquisitive look. ‘And I found this photo album, see, and you’re in it with all these other Slytherins, but then Rose is in it too, and there’s all these photos of her and Scorpius looking all happy and nice together, and then when I was at our Nan’s for Christmas I walked in on Rose having this total crying fit in the kitchen, and from her mumblings I gleaned that she ‘misses’ a certain ‘him’ and, well, I was just thinking-’
‘We should kick some sense into Rose and burn Scorpius’ photographs?’
‘Not quite. See, I was thinking, we should-’
At that moment Scorpius wandered back over, two pints and a glass of cider for me in hand. He sat back in front of the antlers, blissfully unaware of the conversation I’d just been having with Al and also his likeliness to a stag. Al and I took our drinks and busied ourselves in sipping from them, trying to look inconspicuous. Of course, as soon as you make a conscious effort to look inconspicuous, you suddenly become very conspicuously inconspicuous indeed. Try saying that repeatedly, but seven times as fast.
Scorpius seemed to notice our consciously conspicuous inconspicuousness. (Actually, try saying that seven times as fast). He put his pint down and looked at us suspiciously, the frothy moustache he’d got from his drink giving him the appearance of a shrewd detective.
‘What?’ he asked. ‘Did you…is there soap in my drink? Have you done something to my chair?’
‘Er, no,’ I said, thinking on the spot. ‘It’s just you kind of look like a stag.’
‘The antlers,’ I said, gesturing wildly to the wall behind him. ‘They’re kind of…behind your head, and you…’
Scorpius slunk low in his seat, wiping away his froth moustache with the back of his hand. Somehow some paint or ink residue was left there and the froth was swiftly replaced by a bright blue smudge of a moustache. He didn’t seem to notice and I don’t think Al and I had the heart to tell him.
Conversation began to flow, with Al launching into a lengthy anecdote about one of his posh Healer mates. I wasn’t listening, however – I was busily figuring out how to get Al on his own again and tell him every single detail of my master plan. Details of which are to follow for reasons of suspense.
Five minutes later I had an epiphany. I thought, suddenly, that an easy way to get Scorpius to push off and leave me and Al alone for a few minutes was to feed some line about seeing Rose walk through the door – but in my moment of startled epiphany I managed to knock over his drink and send about half a pint of beer cascading onto him. Typically. Forget Carol, clumsy should have been my middle name. Or my first name, for that matter.
Most people would react to this sort of situation by shouting, or perhaps by punching me in the face. You would expect, at the very least, for someone to have a bit of a moan. But, no, Scorpius sat there, looking dejected and sodden, and murmured a single sound.
Just when I was blushing bright scarlet and mentally slapping myself around the fact for being so clumsy, epiphany number two came hurtling out of nowhere, warded off the mental incarnation of myself that was busy doing the slapping, and then-
‘Scorpius!’ I hissed, as he dug in his pockets for his wand. ‘There are muggles here, you can’t! But if you go off to the loo then-’
Al gave me a look that suggested he knew exactly what I was up to. And also that he knew there weren’t actually any muggles in the pub at all, this being Diagon Alley.
‘Really?’ Scorpius said. ‘I thought-’
‘No, no, you can’t do magic, the barman told us when we came in, he’s got a big party of muggles in here today…strictly no magic, international statute of secrecy and all, hush-hush.’
Bemused, Scorpius plodded in the direction of the loos, plucking at his soaked shirt with a miserable grimace. Al raised his eyebrows at me.
‘You’ve never been very good at making stuff up, Lucy. Come on, what’s your plan?’
‘Right, well, we should,’ I spread my arms wide for dramatic effect. ‘Get Rose and Scorpius back together.’
Al’s jaw nearly hit the floor. He blinked at me, blinked again, and then said, a little disbelievingly, ‘Lucy – when they broke up…she hit me! She’ll kill him if she sees him!’
‘No, that’s the thing – see, we drop them into each other’s lives really casually, really carefully – mention them briefly, tell each of them how awesome the other is…and then, bam, one day they’ll see each other again and it’ll all be peachy! Al, the photos! They both looked so happy together!’
‘I don’t know,’ Al shook his head. ‘Rose is fairly stubborn…’
‘But she obviously still fancies him, and he obviously still fancies her, they just need to accept the fact that she wants to be a Ministry thingy and he wants to be an artist and, wow, sorted!’ I explained. ‘Trust me, it’ll be fine! I even thought of a name – Operation Hippogriff! See, I’ll keep casually mentioning Rose to Scorpius, and then you can deal with Rose-’
‘I’m not seeing her alone, I’m terrified of her!’
‘Okay, fine, we’ll see Rose together – I thought maybe if we went and explained to her calmly that we know Scorpius, you know, bring it out into the open, be honest, she might take to the idea…isn’t a year enough time to cool down?’
Al was still looking at me incredulously. ‘Operation Hippogriff? Why?’
‘Because Rose has the temper of one and Scorpius runs like one. Why not?’
‘It’s funny,’ he said, a smile twitching at the corner of his lips. ‘They only got together in the first place because of a sort of…scheme.’
‘Yeah,’ he said. ‘In sixth year, I think…I don’t even know how it started. He was a loser – look, you have no idea how lame he was – and she was, as you know too well, this neurotic rule freak that nobody could stand, so someone just…decided to throw them together. And it worked really well to start with, but…she kind of stole him, you know? Stopped him seeing us. And so he went a bit weird in his last few months of school, did whatever he did to break the rules and piss her off. It really backfired, because it only made her hang on tighter and, well…they just ended up unhappy.’
‘That’s backfiring in a big way, I’d say.’
‘Yeah, I know, it was pretty…weird.’
‘So.’ I said, brusquely, aware of how little time we had before Scorpius returned. ‘What say you to Operation Hippogriff? Come on, Al, they’re both really down in the dumps and we have a duty of care towards our fellow artists and cousins…’
Al thought about it for a moment. ‘Okay, why not?’ he said, finally. ‘Who do we start with?’
I considered it. ‘Rose? She might need a bit more persuading…and, I mean, based on her reaction we can judge whether our scheme is schemey enough to go through with.’
‘Good plan. Then we can start on Scorpius…’
‘Yeah, and we’ll make an effort to see Rose every week…’
‘How long do we plan to take with this?’
‘I dunno, I was thinking as long as it takes…’
Al looked ponderous again. ‘June,’ he said, suddenly. ‘My parents' wedding anniversary – there’s a huge party, I know you’re invited because your mum and Dad are – we’re all allowed plus ones, aren’t we? If you bring Scorpius…’
‘…then we put him in the same room as Rose…’
‘…and if they haven’t cursed each other within five minutes we’ll know it’s gone well.’
‘Genius plan.’ I said. ‘We’ve outdone ourselves.’
A/N: finally the actual plot turns up to the party!
& edit 22/04/2011
The line 'IT'S A METAPHOR, DAD!' comes from Nar, who, in the frenzy of the forum thread from which this story actually came, suggested this for a Scorpius & Draco argument. So I used it. It is so brilliant I still love it, even after all this time.