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Chapter 8: Licorice Wands.
Rose added a cup of belladonna juice to the cauldron and sighed deeply.
“I think that was a bit too much.” Scorpius said quietly, breaking their usual silence. They’d gone back to not talking the day that Scorpius saw Rose and Mark kissing.
“What?” Rose asked distractedly.
“Too much juice. You’re going to make it boil over.”
“It was a perfect amount.” Rose replied.
“No, I’m serious. I really think that was too much. The directions call for a ‘lean cup of belladonna juice’. You measured it in a dry measuring cup instead of a liquid one.”
“No—I—“ Rose began, but found she didn’t have an excuse.
“What’s up with you?” Scorpius asked frankly. “You know liquid measurements are different from dry ones.”
“Nothing’s the matter with me.” Rose replied quickly. “I’m fine.”
“Whatever you say.”
“I can’t wait for Christmas break.” Rose muttered.
The snow was falling softly as Lily pulled her backpack through the snow.
“What’s in there?” Finn asked curiously.
“Everything, it feels like.”
“You know they put your stuff on the train for you.”
Lily sighed. “Yeah, I know. This is just the essentials, you know? The stuff I need for the train ride.”
Finn laughed. “What could you possibly need that doesn’t fit in your pockets? It’s only half a day.”
“Psh. You boys are so simple.”
“Boys?” Finn asked. “I think you mean ‘men’.”
Lily rolled her eyes. “Nothing about you is a man.” But even as she said it, her eyes rolled over his newly formed biceps and acne-free skin.
“Oh!” Lily said, looking in her backpack to see if she’d brought everything she would need for the train ride. She found the little blue box and pulled it out, snapping it open. Inside was a thick silver band with a large deep blue and very fake sapphire on it. She slipped it over her sigged finger and took a look. “Taking a page out of Dom’s book.” She said. “Can’t let mum and dad know I got sigged.”
“Dom’s sigged too?” Finn asked.
“Yeah. Old news. Try to keep up.”
Lily watched the shadows of the trees cast over Finn’s face as he slept against the window. The speed of the train made it look like marquee of tree-trunk stripes. He looked so peaceful, like he was dreaming of a world without complications.
“So, Scorpius, you ready for a Potter Christmas?” She asked, turning to face the blonde boy.
“Not really sure that I’m not going to change my mind and make a break for it when we get to King’s Cross.” Scorpius replied with a grin.
“So you’re a smart one, too.” Lily said with a smile. “What is Rose thinking?”
Scorpius’ eyes clouded a little, and his brows knitted. “I’m still trying to figure that out.”
“You’re not dating anybody then?”
Scorpius shook his head. “Nope. Thought about it, but no. Rose and I agreed to be friends, but I kind of thought that we weren’t going to date other people until we figured things out. So I’m trying to keep up my side of the bargain.”
“Even if she isn’t?” Lily asked. Scorpius nodded.
“Rose will come around.” Al said, sitting up from his corner of the compartment, munching on a bag of crisps.
“Where is she, anyway?” Scorpius asked.
“With Mark.” Lily answered.
“Yeah. We think he’s a douche. Did Al mention that?” Lily asked, looking to Al.
“Several times.” Scorpius said with a laugh. “I’m glad I get the family vote.”
“Well, does this mean you like her?”
“Everything about her but her boyfriend.” Scorpius replied easily. It amazed him how easy it was to admit now.
“Good. We’re working for you now.” Lily said. “We think Rose is being thick.”
“It’s her choice. You guys should let her date who she wants. Obviously I’m not what she wants right now.”
“That’s chivalrous.” Lily remarked.
“That’s stupid.” Al countered.
“What’s stupid?” Finn said, sitting up and stretching his arms out.
“Scorp here thinks that he’s not what Rose wants. Rose doesn’t know what she wants.”
“You two are getting involved, aren’t you?” Finn asked, pointing to Lily and Al, who both nodded vigorously.
“Mark’s an idiot.” Lily said.
“Well that we know.” Finn said. “But you two have a knack for making a mess of things.
“Who, us?” Al asked, brushing the crisp bits off of his robes and tossing the empty bag under the seat.
“I rest my case. You two make messes both figuratively and physically.”
“So you don’t think we should?” Lily asked.
“Oh no, I’m not saying that.” Finn said quickly. “I agree. Something needs to be done about Mark. I’m just asking to be included so that I know you guys are proceeding with caution.”
“I have to ask not to be included here.” Scorpius said. “I hate him just as much as you guys but I think it would look pretty bad to get involved with this.”
“Does that mean you don’t want us to tell you our master plan?” Al asked.
“You guys have a master plan?” Scorpius replied.
“Well. Not yet.” Al said. “But I’m working on it up here.” He added, tapping a finger to the side of his head.
“I don’t think Mark is the only one who should be concerned.” Scorpius said, rolling his eyes and munching into a licorice wand.
The train arrived at King’s Cross exactly on schedule—7pm. As Lily and Finn struggled with Lily’s pile of trunks, Scorpius and Al found Harry, Ginny, Hermione, and Ron.
“Scorpius! It’s so great to meet you!” Ginny said, coming forward to give him a hug—and giving Ron a pointed looked as she did. “We’re all really excited to have you coming to stay with us.”
“Better him than this Mark kid, I guess.” Ron said.
Ginny smiled. “Not fancying having Rose’s boyfriend over for the break?”
“Not at all—Rosie!” Ron said, turning to see the redhead stride up with Mark in tow. “So excited to meet, you Mark. I’m sure you’re going to have a great break with us.”
“What?” Lily asked, dropping her trunk on Al’s foot. “He’s staying with you for the break?”
Rose nodded. “I’m so glad, because you guys haven’t gotten a chance to really get to know him yet!”
“Yeah, he’s been much too busy trying to suck your soul out with his tongue.” Al muttered.
“D’you say something?” Rose asked confusedly, brushing a strand of hair out of her face.
“Not really. But we better get going. I want to show Scorpius the pitch we built in the back yard.”
“Oh—Scorpius is staying with you guys this break?” Rose asked, suddenly feeling a little weird.
“Yes ma’am.” Al said. “Is that a problem?”
“Not at all.” Rose replied, lacing her fingers through Mark’s again. “Let’s get moving then.”
“Right then.” Harry said, looking to his wife and friends with a questioning look. What were their kids up to? “Let’s go.”
The group piled their trunks up onto several trolleys and headed out of the station. They piled the cargo into an ever-expanding boot of a large SUV and then fought over who got window seats. Lily and Al took charge of who would sit where and Rose found herself sandwiched in between Scorpius and her brother Hugo, Mark three magical rows behind her.
“So you and Al are friends now?” Rose asked into Scorpius’ ear.
“Apparently. He’s pretty cool, you know.”
“Okay then.” Rose said with another of her long sighs. “Where are your parents? Why don’t they want you home for Christmas?”
“Dad’s busy. Mum’s dead.” Scorpius replied.
“Oh. I- I’m sorry.” Rose replied quickly. She’d never asked. Then again, they hadn’t really talked much without fighting.
“S’not a big deal.” Scorpius replied.
“It was a long time ago?” Rose asked.
“No. Last year.”
“Maybe not the best time to bring this up?” Scorpius asked, looking around the packed car that had now fallen silent.
“So you all live together?” Finn whispered to Lily as the SUV pulled up in front of a massive house.
Lily shrugged. “It’s kind of complicated. We have a smaller house in London, where I grew up, but Grandmum’s house—the burrow, didn’t fit everyone for Christmas anymore, so Dad bought this place when I was ten. It’s got this house—“ she said, gesturing to the large brick building they stood in front of—“and out back there’s a bunch of smaller cottages. Rose’s family stays in one of those, and all my uncles and aunts and their kids show up a little closer to Christmas and fill up all the other cottages and most of the rooms in the house.”
“There’s enough room for everyone in your family?” Finn asked in disbelief, thinking of the mass of redheaded cousins that went to Hogwarts.
“Some people have to bunk up, but the rooms are big. You’re going to be sharing Al’s room with him and Scorpius.”
“And Mark.” Ron muttered with a death glance towards his daughter and her boyfriend, who were making googly eyes at each other. “He’s not staying in our house.”
“Oh goodness.” Lily said. “At least it’s a big room.”
‘A big room’ was an understatement, Finn thought as he set his bags down. It was an almost exact replica of the room Finn shared with five boys at Hogwarts. Al’s bed had a gold bedspread, and as Scoprius tossed his bag onto the bed near the window, the gray bedspread turned a violent shade of green.
“Housist blankets?” Scorpius asked rhetorically. “Classy.”
Al laughed. “Mum’s idea. She made the room in Hufflepuff colors and I complained, telling her she was going to make people from other houses uncomfortable.”
“Well it’s going to be a very even sampling of houses.” Finn said. “Mark’s staying with us.”
“That tosser can bloody well sleep in the pond before he sleeps in here.” Al said. “He gave one of Hufflepuff’s second years detention for saying ‘seen’ instead of ‘saw’.”
Finn snorted. “No wonder Roses likes him. No offense.” He added, looking towards Scorpius.
“None taken. I know better than anyone what a stickler she can be for getting things done right. Makes sense that she’d pick someone similar.”
“Well Ron says he’s staying in here. Don’t shoot the messenger.”
“We will just see about that.” Al said striding out of the room.
“Mum’s just going to tell him to deal with it.” Lily said, standing in the doorway with a grin.
So after some yelling and screaming behind closed doors, Mark was ushered into Al’s room as Al sat pouting on his yellow bed. Mark’s bedspread turned a vibrant blue as he set his stuff down and looked around the room. “Going to be a good break, yeah?” Mark asked, oblivious to the room’s collective hatred towards him.
Silence lasted for a few long moments, and then Scorpius spoke up. “Yeah. It’s going to be nice to get to know you. Me, you, and Finn here haven’t ever experienced a Weasley Christmas before. It’s going to be pretty interesting.”
“Yeah.” Said Finn, trying to be amicable. “Going to be lots of fun, huh Al?” he asked, turning towards Al.
Al rolled his eyes and threw his head back onto the pillows. “At least you’ve all got girls to deal with. I’m related to everyone involved.”
“So you’re with Lily, then, Finn?” Mark asked.
“Not—not really. No.”
“Yeah, right.” Al said. “You two are just too afraid to admit it.”
“She’s sigged, Al. There’s no me and your sister.”
“Lily’s sigged?” Mark asked. “That’s so weird to think about. I don’t know anyone who is.”
Silence rang over the room, and then, after another several quiet moments, Al facepalmed himself.
“There was a fly. Sorry.” Al explained when Mark looked at him confusedly. Mark shook his head and turned to Scorpius. “And who are you here for?” he asked genially.
“Dom.” Al said quickly, supplying for Scorpius. “He and Dom are secretly dating, but her dad is really strict, so for all intents and purposes, he is here with me.”
“Oh.” Mark said. “Nice. She’s pretty fit. Great boobs.”
“Hey now! You’re with my other cousin Rose.” Al said. “Party foul.”
“I’m in a relationship, not blind.” Mark said with a chuckle. “You blokes know how it is.”
“I’m going to go find Lily.” Finn said.
“Good plan. I’m going to go find—Dom.” Scorpius said. “Secret meeting, y’know.” He added, feeling awkwarder by the moment.
“And I’m going to go stick my head in the pond and count to a thousand.” Al said, sitting up and striding out of the room.