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Chapter 37: Curious Cousins
Rose still hadn’t quite decided what to do about Scorpius the next morning, so she ate breakfast in subdued silence. Albus sent her several curious looks, but to his credit, decided to wait until it was just the two of them and Hugo heading toward the village to question her about it.
“Are you introducing Scorpius to everyone today?” he asked as a cool breeze rustled through their hair.
Hugo whirled around and looked at Rose expectantly. Since he’d heard several days earlier that she had ‘officially’ decided to start calling Scorpius her boyfriend, he’d been very put out that she hadn’t found the time to “put the two of us in a room” (as her brother had put it). When she’d pointed out that Hugo had spent plenty of time with Scorpius over the past several years, given how much time they spent with the Potters during holidays, he’d told her - with the wisdom of his vast thirteen years of life experience - that it simply wasn’t the same.
“I don’t know,” she muttered, shoving her hands further into her jacket pockets. “I don’t want anyone to scare him off.”
Albus outright laughed at her. “Rosie, if you haven’t managed to do that - don’t look at me like that, you know what I mean - I don’t see them doing it.”
“Hey, there they are!” her brother exclaimed, jolting her back into the present. Three figures were waving to them from their position near the entrance to the village.
“Good morning!” Victoire called out as they approached. “I feel like I haven’t seen all of you in ages.”
“It’s only been a few months,” Dominique pointed out. She’d been leaning on the sign denoting the village’s name.
Victoire smiled, and Rose could have sworn that a dreamy look appeared in her eyes. “But so much can happen in a few months, can’t it?”
Dominique straightened up and rolled her eyes at Rose. “They’re -” she started, gesturing to Victoire and Teddy, who had his arm around the redhead, “ - getting married next summer. I suppose you’re going to have to get dressed up, too. They’ll have a time finding a color that suits all of us that isn’t black or white.”
Rose had never been to a wedding before, and while it wasn’t particularly surprising that Teddy and Victoire would decide to take that final step - they’d been living together for years - she wasn’t quite sure how to respond. She was happy for them, but she had absolutely no idea how to express it. She managed to stumble through a congratulations while Albus and Hugo exchanged hugs with the two.
“Wow, Teddy, now you really will be part of the family, and I don’t even have to live with James.”
Teddy laughed and hugged his godbrother again. He didn’t seem able to stop smiling. “Didn’t your father quash that idea every time James brought it up?”
Dominique caught Rose’s eye and seemed to understand her predicament. “I know,” she said dryly. “Can you believe we’re letting that rabble into the family?”
Rose grinned, and Victoire shoved her sister gently. “Shut up,” she said as Hugo threw his arms around her again.
Dominique winked at Rose, who felt herself begin to relax. “Congratulations,” she said again. “Really, guys. That’s great.”
Victoire peered into the groups of students streaming by. “Where’s my brother? Have you seen him yet today?”
Just as they were shaking their heads, however, Louis emerged from one of the groups approaching them.
“Louis!” Victoire and Dominique cried simultaneously. Before he could do more than exchange a hug with them each, though, Victoire blurted out, “I’m getting married.”
His eyes widened. “Right now?”
“Yes, right now,” she said sarcastically. “No, you idiot, next summer.”
He looked at Teddy. “You mean he’s actually going to be my brother-in-law?”
“Hey, Lou. Nice to see you too.”
Louis grinned. “No, really, congratulations.” He hugged Victoire again before moving on to Teddy. “It’ll be nice to call you my brother without using a qualifier.”
This process was repeated three more times in the next fifteen minutes, with first the appearance of Lucy, then Lily, and finally James and Roxanne. By the time everyone had congratulated them and they’d begun to wander through the village, it was just after ten.
It was a perfectly enjoyable morning. Rose looked for an opening to mention Scorpius, but she couldn’t find a way to work him into the conversation - though admittedly, she wasn’t trying very hard - and her cousins were too distracted with talk of the upcoming wedding and generally catching up with Teddy, Victoire, and Dominique to do it for her.
By the time they entered the Three Broomsticks that afternoon, she’d essentially given up. She’d tell them next visit. As a group of them enjoyed their butterbeers (or, in Teddy’s and Dominique’s case, firewhiskey) at a table by one of the windows, Fred seemed to appear from nowhere and pulled a chair up to their table.
“Hey. I thought I might find you here. I can’t be away for too long, but Dad sends a few of their people to help on days that the Hogwarts students come in, so I ducked out for a bit. We’re making a killing. The new swamps are already sold out. What did you do with them?” Lily and Roxanne grinned at each other over their butterbeers, and Fred laughed. “Well, keep doing it every time we have a new product.” He turned to Victoire and Teddy. “Sorry I couldn’t properly congratulate you earlier. That’s terrific, really. I’m happy for you both.” He laughed. “I can’t say I’m surprised, but I’m happy.”
As Teddy talked about his most recent trip to France, which had apparently involved the catacombs, Rose saw Charlotte Finnigan walk into the Three Broomsticks with Evelyn and Noah’s brother, Andrew. She nudged Dominique and jerked her head toward them. Dominique looked over, stiffened a little, and turned determinately back to Teddy.
Charlotte, Evelyn, and Andrew sat down at a table near them. Lucy leaned over and began talking to Andrew about an astronomy assignment. After a moment of hesitation, Charlotte called over, “Hi, Dominique.”
Dominique turned. “Oh, I didn’t see you come in,” she said breezily. “How are you?”
Charlotte shrugged. “A little busy. You know how seventh year is. How’s training?” she asked, her gaze lingering on Dominique’s newly-shorn hair and the bandage on her arm.
Dominique laughed gaily and tucked her hair behind her ears. “Terrific. No regrets at all.” She noticed Charlotte looking at her arm, and gestured toward the bandage. “Got a burn off a Welsh Green on Tuesday.”
“Looks nasty,” Charlotte commented.
“It’ll be mostly healed by next week.” Dominique shrugged. “Really, this is nothing. You should see the burn Piper got three weeks ago, she was in St. Mungo’s for days.”
Rose resisted the urge to sigh. From the way Dominique was addressing Charlotte, you would think that they were nothing more than casual acquaintances. In reality, they’d spent half of the previous year going out.
Victoire had stepped in and seemed to be trying to smooth everything over, which was funny in and of itself. Victoire could be quite blunt; if she was trying to play the peacemaker, Rose clearly wasn’t the only one who thought that Dominique was being a bit unreasonable.
Charlotte hesitated for a moment before asking, “Would you like to take a walk? We should catch up. I haven’t talked to you in months.”
Dominique shrugged, as though it didn’t make any difference to her at all. Rose was fairly sure she didn’t believe the show of apathy, so she wasn’t surprised when Dominique answered, “I suppose. It’s nice out. The fresh air would be nice.”
James had apparently been listening in on their conversation, too, because as Dominique got up, he said, “Right, because you never get fresh air, since dragons are really indoor creatures at heart.” As she walked past him, Dominique smacked the back of his head lightly. “Hey!” She looked over her shoulder and stuck her tongue out at him. He grinned back. After the door had closed behind them, he leaned over to Rose and whispered, “Don’t you wish we had the cloak with us?”
“Yes,” she admitted.
Victoire leaned over to them both and hissed, “If she doesn’t tell you, she doesn’t want you to know. Leave her be.”
Rose frowned as a thought occurred to her. “Do you spy on me?”
“Nah.” James took a drink of his butterbeer. “Your relationship isn’t interesting enough. And unlike Dominique, you’re willing to tell me about it.”
“What relationship?” Victoire asked.
“Nothing,” Rose said quickly, wishing that she could kick James without anyone else noticing. “James has got a girlfriend, though, he’s going out with Marion Thomas. You should ask him all about it.”
Victoire, Teddy, Fred, and Lucy all looked at James with interest. “So that’s worked out, then?” Fred asked.
James, however, unlike Rose, was very difficult to phase. “Seems like that."
Louis did not seem nearly as interested by this. “Have you finally, then? It’s about time. Hasn’t she fancied you for years?”
This clearly did take James by surprise. “Has she?” He furrowed his brow. “How would you know?”
Louis shrugged. “You just need to pay more attention.” He took a sip of his butterbeer and added, “But you shouldn’t let Rose distract you from her relationship.”
Albus grinned. “Yeah, we shouldn’t. She has got a boyfriend.”
“I - well - oh, shut up.” Albus raised his eyebrows, and she felt her face start to burn. “You know, you’re not helping.”
“Were we meant to?” asked Roxanne. “I thought we were meant to embarrass you. My mistake.”
“Who?” asked Victoire quickly.
“Scorpius,” Albus said before she could reply. When she turned her gaze to glare at him, he was still grinning.
“Scorpius Malfoy?” asked Victoire, looking a little surprised. “Your friend?”
Albus nodded. Rose was starting to feel rather like a cornered rabbit. She was starting to wonder whether it would be worth it to jinx a cousin or two to make an escape when James shook his head.
“Rosie, you can’t jinx us.” He held up his arm. An innocent-looking charm was dangling off the cord around his wrist.
She scowled and glanced around the Three Broomsticks. She didn't see anyone who might have rescued her from the conversation, and Lucy had gotten distracted and was now chatting with Evelyn. This was quite unfortunate, as she was probably the only cousin who might have been willing to help Rose change the subject.
“Leave me alone,” she mumbled. It would be just her luck if Scorpius walked into the Three Broomsticks just then.
“Hey, Scorpius!” Albus called. She jerked her head up and looked toward the door. There was no one there. She glared at Albus, and he laughed. She had just put her head back down onto the table when he called out again, and this time, she heard Scorpius’ voice calling back.
She groaned and picked her head up off the table just in time to see Scorpius separating from Noah and Claire and made his way toward them. “Hey, Al. Rose.” He paused. “The rest of you. It’d take half the afternoon to name all of you. No Dominique?”
“She’ll be back at some point.” Louis pulled a chair over to their table. “Sit down and let us interrogate you, I haven’t had the chance to do it properly.”
Scorpius hesitated. “Only if Rose is okay with it, since I assume that’s why I’m being interrogated.”
Rose sighed, deciding that it was probably best to just get it over with. If he wasn’t going to break up with her for eavesdropping on him telling his cousin that he was in love with her, he probably wouldn’t do so for this. “Yes, it’s fine.”
“All right.” He sat down. “It’s only that it looks like you could fry an egg on your face, and that’s usually not a good thing.”
“You’re Johanna’s cousin, right?” Teddy asked, and Scorpius nodded. Rose saw a small smirk and Teddy’s face, and she realized that if Scorpius’s cousin Johanna was really as close with Teddy as Scorpius seemed to think, her soon-to-be cousin probably already knew at least half of the story. “Who’s your team?”
That was such an abrupt change of subject that it took Scorpius a few moments to process it. “Pride of Portree,” he said at last. He looked apprehensive; he clearly knew that one’s Quidditch team could be a major factor in getting a person’s approval. This was especially true in Rose’s family, but she didn’t see how he could know that, unless he was drawing his conclusions from the number of them who had played Quidditch in school.
Teddy’s expression cleared. “Oh, good.” Teddy had been raised on Pride of Portree - not even Rose’s aunt’s time on the Harpies had been able to sway him from his grandmother’s favorite team. “I’m a big Portree fan myself.” He made a face. “No matter how much I hate McDonnell. I’ve heard they’re getting tired of him, though; did you see that they started Cooper instead yesterday?”
Scorpius shook his head. “No. How’d he do?”
“Scored a hundred points,” Teddy said. “Though I think Anderson and Grant both passed when they could have shot, to make him look even better. They’re tired of McDonnell, too.”
“Hold on,” Fred said loudly. “Maybe Portree makes him acceptable to you, but it just makes it worse for me. Portree aren’t willing to play rough. They’re always whining about being hit or fouled—”
“So says the Falcons fan,” Teddy said scornfully. “No, seriously, Scorpius, don’t listen to Fred. He doesn’t matter.”
Rose had to admit to some amusement when, fifteen minutes later, they were all still bickering about Quidditch teams. Quidditch really was a good ice-breaker. Scorpius had clearly relaxed a fair amount: he was arguing with Louis about whether the Tornadoes’ inconsistency was due to simple bad luck when Dominique returned.
“Hello, Scorpius Malfoy,” she said, sitting down.
He looked at her. “Hi,” he said, rubbing the back of his head. Her reappearance had clearly made him feel a little more awkward, and Rose had a brief moment of jealousy and insecurity before she realised that it was probably Dominique’s slightly discomforting appraisal that was putting him on edge, not her looks.
Rose knew the feeling.
“We’ve been arguing about Quidditch teams,” Fred told her, grinning.
“Who’s your team?” Scorpius asked. Rose had to stop herself from groaning.
Dominique leaned back in her seat and folded her arms. “Arsenal.”
Scorpius frowned. “Come again?”
“I said, Arsenal.”
“Football,” Rose said quickly. “Dominique thinks that football is better than Quidditch.”
Scorpius opened his mouth, looking confused, and closed it again.
Teddy laughed. “Yeah, we all think she’s mad, too. Don’t worry.”
Rose expected Dominique to begin reciting her list of all of the reasons why football was better than Quidditch, so she was surprised when her cousin led Teddy’s comment go and instead asked, “What do you want to do when you leave Hogwarts, Scorpius?”
Despite the initial appraisal, Dominique was clearly on her best behavior. Rose made a mental note to thank her later.
“I’m thinking about being a Healer,” he said tentatively.
She nodded. “Worthy profession. I hope you can patch me up when they wheel me in covered in hideous burns.”
Well, maybe not her best behavior.
Scorpius glanced at Rose. “It really does run in your family, doesn’t it?” She shrugged.
Louis rapped on the table to get Scorpius’s attention. “So, Scorpius, how long have you liked Rosie for?”
Rose couldn’t quite manage to stop herself from giggling at Scorpius’s expression. Now that the Quidditch banter was over, he was the one starting to look trapped.
“I’ve changed my mind,” Scorpius said abruptly. “I don’t like Louis. Andrew and Evy are clearly delusional.”
Louis snorted. “Is the question really that hard to answer?”
“With all of you breathing down my neck? Let me think about it.” He paused. “Yes. Next question?”
Three uncomfortable questions later - Rose’s cousins were clearly getting into the spirit of it - Scorpius said pointedly, “You know, I’d really appreciate it if you all made an effort to remember that there are eight of you and one of me. I didn’t have to sit down and get interrogated. I’m doing it because your cousin adores all of you and I really like your cousin.”
Albus wasn’t doing a very good job of hiding his smile.
Fred was the first to react to Scorpius’s speech. “Oh, I guess you’re okay. I still don’t really like you, but don’t take it personally.”
“Thanks. I’ll try not to take that personally.”
The corner of Fred’s mouth twitched. “I’ve got to get back to the shop - I’ll see you all later. And V, Teddy, congratulations again.”
“We just got engaged,” Victoire said in response to the confusion on Scorpius’ face.
“Oh,” he said. “Congratulations.”
Teddy stretched. “I’m tired of sitting around. Lou, do you want to go find Hugo and wander up to the shrieking shack? Scorpius, ignore Fred, you’re fine in my book. Portree fans are very rarely bad people, and you’re clearly a real fan.”
“As opposed to what, Teddy?” asked Victoire. She looked as though she was trying to hide a laugh.
“As opposed to a fake fan. You know, the kind of person who just becomes a fan when the team starts winning and can’t actually name most of the players.”
Dominique smirked. “I’m a real fan. I can name every Arsenal player who’s been registered with the team since 1998.”
“Well, bully for you,” Teddy, Louis, and Lucy said at the same time. They rolled their eyes at each other.
“At any rate,” Teddy said, reaching out a hand, “it was nice to see you again.”
Scorpius shook his hand. “You, too.”
Teddy looked at the rest of them and said, “It was good to see you all. Don’t feel too compelled to behave yourselves. That’s never fun.” After he and Louis had departed, Dominique looked at Rose. “Rosie, can I have a word?”
“Sure,” Rose said, getting up. She followed Dominique to a corner.
Dominique sighed and tucked her short blonde hair behind her ears. “Rosie, he really does seem perfectly nice. Just don’t get too caught up in the relationship. It’s clear that he likes you a lot, and that’s terrific and all, but there are so many more important things than boys. Don’t give up anything just because of him. He really shouldn’t enter into any of your decisions about your future. If he can’t adjust, he can find someone else.”
Rose had known that this was exactly what Dominique was going to say. At least she was consistent.
Rose leaned against the wall. “So what did you and Charlotte talk about?”
She was pleased to see a faint tinge of pink in Dominique’s cheeks. “Nothing,” she said levelly.
“Oh, so you weren’t talking, then?” Rose teased.
Dominique smiled. “We also walked.” After a moment, she relented. “We were mostly talking. Honestly, I’m not going to get too fussed about it. I need somebody a bit more adventurous.” She jerked her head toward the table. “We should get back.”
Not long after that, Dominique and Victoire regretfully got up, saying that they had to get going. After bidding them goodbye, Rose, the rest of her cousins, and Scorpius joined the students who were starting to head back up to the castle. After a few minutes, she realised that the rest of them had melted away, leaving her alone with Scorpius.
“It’s probably my turn to apologise, huh?” she asked.
Scorpius looked at her sharply. “Why would you have to?”
“My cousins…” Rose trailed off, not sure how to finish the sentence.
He laughed. “Oh, that wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it might be.”
“How bad did you think it was going to be?”
“Worse than that,” he said vaguely. “Look, don’t worry about it. Most of them were perfectly nice.” She gave him a skeptical look. “No, I’m serious. Don’t worry about it. When you meet my cousin Johanna, we’ll be even. She’s… well, she’s something. Though, if I’d known I was going to get interrogated, I might not have bothered to get you a birthday present.”
“You got me a birthday present?”
He grinned. “It is next week, right?”
She tightened her grip on his hand and leaned over to kiss his cheek. A few passing third years let out loud giggles, and she shot a glare at them.
“You haven’t thought the better of going out with me, then?” he asked. She shook her head, and he pulled her off the path and into the covering of trees. Her heart began to beat faster as he let go of her hand, and he sank his fingers into her hair as he gave her a deep kiss. “Good.”
A/N: So this used to be the end.
It is not the end any longer. I'm not going to add an enormous amount to it, but I am going to add another chapter about their fathers prying into their business a little more (because come on, we all love that - and yes, Draco is going to be a characteristic twit in his a new, especially annoying way - and also probably a mention of how they're going to meet each other's families for the first time, though I likely won't actually depict it.
After that, I'm going to move onto editing the sequel to this: "The Wrinkles of the Road," which focuses on them in the year after they leave Hogwarts. It'll be my Camp Nano project, so I'm hoping to get a lot done on it. It's going to remain about Rose and Scorpius, of course, but I'm thinking I'll include more of Scorpius's pov than just when Rose gets knocked unconscious (aha, are you interested yet?), and potentially make Albus and James pov characters as well. If you have any serious thoughts about where you want me to go with that, I'm pretty malleable with it at the moment, so now is the time to share them. ;) I can't promise I'll do what you ask, of course, but I'll certainly take it under advisement.
Oh my god, guys. It might not seem it, but this was a ridiculous amount of editing. Two or three weeks of super concentrated work... but I'm really, really glad I did it, because now my muse is back. (Though my graphics muse is still around - I'm abhorsen. and was visenya. on TDA, so you may have seen my graphics floating around here sometimes. That's what I've been doing rather than write. :P But I'm ready to balance them now!
This has been a super long A/N, and this isn't even the last chapter. Sorry!
Anyway. Reviews are loved, you guys are great, I hope you've enjoyed the edits.