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Next Midnight by momotwins
Format: Short story
Chapter 1: Wedding Disasters
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A/N: Hello! Welcome to another installment in Rose Weasley's life. The timeline of this will be apparent once you start reading, but if you skipped “Sparks”, this takes place about 4 months after the end of “A Weirder Shade of Midnight”. This story is going to run quite differently than the usual Rose stories, both in plot and point of view. Think of it as an interlude. The next novel will be back to business as usual, once this story is completed. Hope you enjoy!
Weasleys are very weird.
This isn't really a new observation. I've noticed it before, but sometimes it just really stares you in the face.
Like today, for example. I was at my cousin Lucy's wedding, at the reception, watching her dance with her new husband. They seemed very happy.
Here's the weird part: Lucy's new husband was the guy my cousin Roxanne had been obsessed with (despite not having actually met him) for the last year or so, a famously good-looking Quidditch player named Hilarion Winston-Fisher, the Seeker for the Appleby Arrows. Roxanne's crush on Hilarion had been so well-known in the family (at least, among my female cousins anyway) that it had become something of a joke. So when she started actually dating him, everyone (well, all my female cousins anyway) had been rather surprised.
Everyone had been even more surprised when Roxanne chucked him a few weeks later and ran off with his best friend, and Lucy promptly ran off with Hilarion. The four of them all seemed totally fine with this. Roxanne had even been Lucy's bridesmaid.
I had no idea how any of that had happened. It sounded rather like the plot of one of those dramatic plays on the Wizarding Wireless Network's morning programming. On the whole, it seemed best not to be involved, so I just smiled nicely during the wedding, danced with Scorpius at the reception, and ignored the Weasley weirdness.
Scorpius was sitting next to me now, watching Lucy and Hilarion dance, holding my hand in both of his. He always got a little choked up at weddings. I tried to dodge going to them because of this. I'd been dating Scorpius Malfoy since our sixth year at school – over ten years now – but we hadn't really talked about getting married. Any time we went to a wedding, he got a look in his eye like he might want to ask me, but apparently he knew me well enough to hold off.
I did move in with him about two years ago, surely that was enough commitment for anyone? I mean, I do love him, but I'm too young to get married.
“Lucy looks beautiful,” Scorpius said, giving me a smile. I tried to ignore the misty-eyed look.
“Yeah, she does.”
“And happy,” he added.
“Uh-huh.” I slid a look at him sideways. I knew where this was going.
Scorpius opened his mouth, probably to say how happy we'd be if we were getting married or something equally silly, but fortunately we were saved by my cousin Victoire Lupin (formerly Weasley) plopping down into the seat next to us.
Normally when someone says that someone 'plopped into a chair', it's figurative, but Victoire was nine months pregnant with her fourth child. She was absolutely enormous, and plopping was about all she could manage.
“Oi there, Rose.” She rubbed a hand over her huge belly and then burped a little. “Sorry. Heartburn's awful with this one.”
“Hi Victoire,” I said, trying to disguise my relief. I reckoned I hadn't done that well enough, because Scorpius threw me a look.
“My feet are killing me,” Victoire said, kicking off her shoes. “Teddy wanted to dance, but I foisted him off on Lily.”
I glanced over at the dance floor. Victoire's husband was dancing with our cousin Lily Potter. Lily didn't seem to mind. Teddy Lupin loved to dance, and Victoire wasn't the best dancer even when she wasn't the size of a small whale, so he often wound up dancing with our cousins at various family events.
“I could really do for a drink,” Victoire said then, and Scorpius, ever the gentleman, took this as a cue.
“I'll go get you some punch.”
“Do me a favour and check it first,” she told him. “I saw James and Fred hanging round the punch bowl a few minutes ago.”
Scorpius rolled his eyes at this, and set off. Once he was gone, Victoire leaned closer as best she could around her belly (it looked very uncomfortable), giving me a significant look.
“You looked like you could use a rescue.”
I breathed a long-suffering sigh. “He means well. Weddings make him a little sentimental, that's all.”
“You should marry him and get it over with,” remarked Victoire, trying to reach down around her gigantic belly to rub her foot, “but I know you won't. You're such a twit about that.”
“Thanks a lot,” I said, pulling a face at her. “I'm just not ready, that's all.”
“You've been going out with him since you were what, sixteen?” she pointed out. “And you've lived together for two years. How can you not be ready?”
I glanced around, hoping someone else would come rescue me. Victoire was even worse than Scorpius, because late pregnancy always removed her normal filters, and she said whatever came into her head, no matter how horrible it was.
She was still talking. “Getting married never killed anyone, Rose. Teddy and I have been married for years and I'm just fine, you know that.”
“Can we talk about something else?”
She rolled her eyes and set her feet down. “I'm not putting these bloody shoes back on. My feet are that swollen. Oof, here he comes now, the idiot.”
Teddy Lupin danced over, alone now. Lily had run off with one of Hilarion's teammates; I could see them over at the punchbowl. She was doing her flirtatious giggle. Lily was really good at the flirtatious giggle.
“Hey sweetheart,” Teddy said, still dancing in front of us. He looked like a twit, but Victoire was smiling fondly at him, so apparently she wasn't bothered that she'd married an idiot. “Want to dance with me now?”
“Not a bloody chance,” she told him, still smiling. “Come here and rub my feet.”
Teddy sat down and hauled one of his wife's feet into his lap. She wobbled a bit in her chair but managed to stay upright. I wasn't certain how. Scorpius appeared behind Teddy, empty-handed.
“Sorry Victoire,” he said apologetically. “I was too late. The punch is all spiked. Molly said she'd fetch you something non-alcoholic, though.”
“That's all right.” Victoire nudged Teddy's hand with her foot, and he picked it up and started rubbing. Her eyes practically rolled back into her head, but she managed to say to Scorpius, “I just wanted you to go away so I could talk to Rose for a minute.”
I couldn't wait until Victoire's pregnancy-blabbermouth went away.
Scorpius didn't look surprised, though. He was grinning at Victoire. Strange bloke that he was, he found Victoire hilarious when she was pregnant. I mostly found her annoying. With any luck, she'd go into labour soon and then go back to her normal self.
Lucy came over with Hilarion then, and she sat on his lap in the chair next to mine. Lucy had never been the type to sit in a boyfriend's lap, even if he was her husband now. Marriage was changing her already. Or maybe she'd had some of the spiked punch.
“You lot look cozy over here.” She noticed Teddy still rubbing Victoire's feet. “Oh aren't you sweet, Teddy!”
He rolled his eyes, but he didn't stop what he was doing, which was lucky because Victoire might have killed him. He must've hit a good spot then, because Victoire let out a long, low moan that sounded wildly inappropriate coming from a woman with a planetoid for a belly, in the middle of a wedding. Teddy and Scorpius both started grinning, and Hilarion turned red. I don't know how he did it, but he still looked completely fit while turning red. Definitely not a Weasley.
“Oh, it's better than sex,” Victoire murmured.
Lucy put a hand to her mouth with a horrified giggle. “Victoire!”
She was completely unapologetic. “What? I've been so sick with this one, I can hardly even remember sex.”
“Same here,” said Teddy, not quite under his breath.
And then Johnny Lupin ran past us with streaks of frosting across his cheeks and his grandmother puffing after him. Aunt Fleur looked as if she might kill him when she got hold of him.
Victoire's second son was notorious in the family, and normally required all of Victoire's energy to corral. She was, and had always been, one of the most motherly people I had ever met, with endless patience for her children, siblings, and cousins. It was amazing she hadn't sold Johnny to the circus yet. It only went to show what a dedicated mother she was. Well, normally.
Teddy and Victoire watched their middle child go past and completely failed to react. Neither of them seemed to have any intention of moving. Scorpius and I exchanged a look.
“Um, Victoire-” I began.
Lucy had twisted round to look over at the cake, which bore evidence of small fingers in it. “Was he eating the cake? We haven't cut it yet!”
“I just can't,” Victoire said. “Teddy?”
He grunted and kept rubbing her feet.
“Mum will catch him,” Victoire added. “Eventually.”
“Not to be rude or anything,” Hilarion said, “but why did you bring him?”
“Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a sitter for Johnny?” Teddy asked rhetorically. I think it was rhetorical, anyway. Maybe Hilarion really didn't have any idea. He was new here, after all. His exposure to Johnny must have been limited, or he never would've agreed to join this family.
Victoire closed her eyes and set her other foot in her husband's lap, holding onto the table for balance. He switched feet and she made another inappropriate moan, then said, “Only relatives will watch him. And all our relatives are here. Besides, Lucy said it was all right.”
We all looked at Lucy, who turned bright red. It was not as pretty on her as it was on her husband.
“I didn't really realize,” she started in a high-pitched voice. Hilarion pressed a kiss to her bare shoulder. It seemed to comfort her a bit, because she managed to go on, “I thought he'd be asleep by now.”
“Should've had your wedding later in the day,” Victoire told her placidly.
Lucy and Hilarion looked at each other wide-eyed. I sipped my champagne and pretended I was in Majorca. Scorpius, on the other hand, was chuckling again. Maybe it was something about being a Malfoy and not a Weasley, but he found Johnny Lupin rather entertaining, at least in small doses. Probably there was a correlation between his ability to put up with Johnny Lupin and his ability to date me for over ten years, but I liked to think they were unrelated.
“Dance, Rose?” Scorpius asked, and I escaped gladly. Everyone I'm related to is completely mental.
Once we were safely away from the newlyweds and the burned-out parents, Scorpius wrapped an arm around my waist and led me through a little turn. He's a better dancer than I am. I just try to keep up and hope I don't step on his toes, but he never seems to mind.
“I sort of feel like we dodged a Stunner there, don't you?” Scorpius said, grinning at me.
I glanced over my shoulder. Lucy was over at the cake now, examining it, with Hilarion hovering over her shoulder. Victoire and Teddy hadn't moved. “I think we did.”
Johnny Lupin dashed past again, and Aunt Fleur nearly barrelled into us trying to catch him. People on the dance floor jumped out of her way. Johnny skidded on all fours between my cousin Albus's legs, crawled at high-speed under a table, and slid full-out into the punch table. The spiked punch cascaded to the floor in a wave, soaking everyone around it to the knee. Johnny somehow contrived to be the only one to escape the deluge and was completely dry in his little dress robes. Aunt Fleur grabbed for him with murder in her eyes, but Johnny was slipperier than an eel. He was off like a shot, shrieking with laughter, before she could splash through the fallen punch.
“How much longer do you think we have to stay?” I asked Scorpius.
He was staring at the path of carnage Johnny had made. “I really don't think anyone will notice if we leave at this point, honestly.”
Chapter 2: Number Five
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Scorpius jogged up the stairs to the third floor, his knapsack slung over one shoulder. It felt light as air, though it held an ungodly amount of painting supplies, thanks to the spells Rose's mum had put on it – including an Undetectable Extension Charm. It was his favourite gift he'd ever received (barring Rose's gifts, which often involved naughty play-acting), and certainly the most useful one as well.
The flat he was headed for was huge by any standards, even to a man who'd grown up in a Wiltshire manor home. He'd grown accustomed to the tiny flat he shared with Rose. Everything else looked unnecessarily oversized now. There was enough room in this particular flat for twenty people to live comfortably. Only two people actually lived here, though.
Gideon Crumb had played the bagpipes for the Weird Sisters, a wizard band from Scorpius's father's teen years that had still managed to remain huge for many years. The band was still together, though all of them were in their fifties now. They didn't tour as much as they had done years ago, but they still put out albums, which Rose sometimes listened to. Scorpius wasn't as interested in rock music.
But a good job was a good job, and Gideon Crumb was paying Scorpius a boatload of gold to paint a portrait of him and his wife, having seen a portrait Scorpius had done for another member of the band. And they could certainly use the money.
They probably should have done something responsible with the money they'd made off that first portrait, which Scorpius had sold to the Weird Sisters' cellist, Merton Graves. They should have put it in the bank, or bought new furniture, paid ahead their rent a few months, or even paid back Rose's brother all the money she'd borrowed off him over the years.
But instead, they'd gone to Majorca.
The money had lasted for three weeks. Three lovely weeks lying on the beach with Rose in a pink glittery bikini that sparkled in the sun, smearing suncream potions on and drinking tropical things with lots of rum. Something about being on the beach meant being served a great deal of rum, for some reason. Scorpius found he preferred the Muggle alcohol to wizard firewhiskey. It certainly went better with sticky fruit drinks.
They'd been back now for almost three months, and Scorpius still dreamed of going back to Majorca with Rose. He wouldn't mind spending the rest of his life lying on a beach with her in that bikini.
Of course, he had to make enough money to make that happen first. He was damn well not going to use his father's money to do it. At least if he provided the money himself, he'd feel he had earned his lying-on-the-beach days.
Scorpius knocked on the door, and a few minutes later the peephole shuddered and then extended, the blue eye blinking at him at the end of a long and skinny tube. It examined him from every angle, and then a tinny voice said, “Are you the painter, what?”
“What? I mean, yes, I am.” Scorpius waved vaguely at the peephole's eye.
The peephole retracted, still blinking, and the door opened. Gideon Crumb waved him inside, and Scorpius blinked at the décor as he stepped into the flat.
Everything was zebra-print. The sheer amount of black and white stripes was disorienting, and Scorpius had the uneasy feeling he was going to have vertigo at any moment. The only spot of colour in the room was a rainbow of bagpipes in a large glass case against one wall.
“Where d'you want to set up, then?” Gideon looked around vaguely. “M'wife is back in our room, putting on makeup. Shall I go and fetch her, what?”
Scorpius had to resist the urge to repeat the what part of his mannerisms. He gave the room a sweep with a critical eye, and nodded. “If we open the drapes all the way, there should be plenty of light in here to get started. Then you can go and, er, fetch Mrs. Crumb.”
A large and rather burly man emerged from out of nowhere and opened the drapes. Scorpius set up his easel and sketching supplies while Gideon disappeared, fetching his wife.
When they reappeared, Scorpius had to stop himself doing a double-take. Mrs. Crumb was wearing the lowest-cut set of robes he'd ever seen, showing off her impressively large bust. Her curvy figure was poured into the white robes, which were at least three sizes too small. Her husband, now dressed in white dragonhide trousers and a white fur vest with no shirt on under it, was carrying a set of bagpipes that he clearly intended to pose with.
They were zebra-print.
Four hours later, Scorpius made good his escape, with an appointment to return for another sitting three days later, and breathed a sigh of relief.
Portraits had never been his favourite to paint, but he hadn't been able to turn down the contracts offered. It was a lot of gold. And to be honest, he was starting to enjoy the acclaim he was receiving since the sale of that portrait of Merton Graves's son. Everyone who saw it thought it was brilliant, and Scorpius had never had this sort of attention for his artwork.
It was extremely satisfying.
Rose was already home when he got there, poking around in kitchen cupboards. She didn't actually know how to cook, so he didn't know what she thought she was doing.
“Hungry?” he asked, setting his knapsack down on the table.
She turned to him with relief, and he gave her a brief kiss as he passed. Her hair was wet; she must've just got out of the shower, which meant she'd probably been up to something she didn't want him to know about. He tried to scan her for injuries or freshly healed wounds surreptitiously. He thought he spied a few singed bits of hair. She appeared to be fine, though, so he let it go. She always liked it better when she thought he didn't know what she was up to.
Rose hopped up onto the countertop while he set about preparing ham and pickle sandwiches. It wasn't much of a dinner, but he'd been out all day painting. “How was your day?” she asked, folding her legs up underneath her.
“Fine. Got a load of progress in that painting of Gideon Crumb.”
He handed her a sandwich. “And yours?”
“Um. It was fine.” She flashed him her 'trustworthy' smile. He shook his head at her. She was adorable when she smiled like that, even though it didn't make her look at all trustworthy.
They ate in silence for a while. Scorpius tried not to watch her too closely – was she favouring her left arm? – and thought of the wedding they'd been to last week. Her cousin Lucy had got married to the Appleby Arrows Seeker. He loved weddings; everyone was so happy during a wedding, all their other cares forgotten, smiling and laughing and dancing and eating far too much rich food. Especially at a Weasley wedding, which was always sure to be a raucous event. But Rose had been skittish throughout the reception, no doubt afraid he was going to come over all mental and propose to her.
He knew better than to do that.
It was nice to think about now and then, though. Rose as his wife.
His father would be livid. He doubted her parents would be much happier. They all lived in hopes of an eventual break-up.
She finished her sandwich and brushed off her hands. “I'd probably better be off. I picked up Parmenter again today-”
No wonder she'd had to take a shower, then.
“-and I'm hoping Lydia's got someone new for me.” She leaned forward to kiss him on the cheek, and then slid down from the counter.
She was halfway out the door when the Floo roared to life and Teddy Lupin's head appeared in their fireplace.
“Oi there,” he called, and Scorpius followed Rose over to crouch in front of the green flames.
“Hi Teddy,” she said. “Everything all right?”
“Victoire's in labour,” Teddy told them. “Hurry up if you don't want to miss it.” And he disappeared again.
Rose looked as if she very much wanted to miss it, but Scorpius made her go. Family was important, even when they were mental.
They made it to St. Mungo's about fifteen minutes later, and by the time they'd got through the welcome area and into the maternity ward, everyone else was already there. The sheer number of gingers milling about the waiting area made Scorpius grin.
Rose's cousin Louis, who was Victoire's younger brother, came over to them. “All right there, you two? Teddy came out a moment ago and said things were progressing well. Shouldn't be too much longer. I didn't think we needed to all be here, I mean it's not her first baby or anything, but-”
“But you should be here for your sister,” Rose's aunt Fleur said severely, giving her son a look.
Rose looked as if she agreed with Louis, but she sat down next to her brother and gave him a gentle slug in the shoulder.
“Oi, Hugo. How come you're not back there delivering the baby?”
“Because I do magical injuries and spell damage, not obstetrics, you git,” he told her, rolling his eyes. “Besides, she's our cousin.”
“Congratulations,” Scorpius said to Fleur Weasley. “Grandbaby number five, must be very exciting.”
She gave him a smile that made him a bit breathless despite himself, even though she was probably thirty years older than he was. Veela blood ran eternal, it seemed.
“I am very happy,” she said, and he could hear a bit more of her French accent with the obvious emotion. “I am hoping for another girl, so they will name her for me.”
Scorpius chuckled. “That would be lovely.”
Victoire's sister was nowhere to be seen, and neither were Victoire's children, so Scorpius assumed the day would be Johnny Lupin-free. The kid was a menace, but he was strangely entertaining as well. He rather reminded Scorpius of Rose, actually.
Teddy burst through the doors then, his face a picture of elation. “The baby's here! They're both safe and healthy. It's a boy!”
Scorpius thought he heard Fleur swear under her breath, but she was all smiles as she hugged her son-in-law. Teddy managed to shrug off the rest of the relatives trying to hug him and went back to his wife and newborn son.
It was another couple of hours before Rose and Scorpius were able to get back to have a peek at the newest Lupin. The Healers didn't seem surprised by the deluge of Weasleys they were receiving; their family's reputation probably preceded them again. Weasleys were like ants at a picnic: there was never just one.
The baby was asleep in his tiny cot next to Victoire's bed. She looked exhausted but happy, and smiled up at them.
“Oh I'm so glad you're here! Look, Rose, isn't he precious?”
He looked a bit squished still, to be honest. Scorpius's experience with newborns was not extensive, but they all seemed to have a rather smushed appearance at first. No doubt he would settle down and start looking like a Weasley soon enough, but for now he looked rather like Teddy Lupin would if Teddy were wearing a stocking over his head.
“Um, yeah he is.” Rose gave the baby a hesitant pat somewhere in his midsection. He was bundled up in a blue blanket. “What are you calling him?”
“We're naming him for Victoire's dad,” Teddy told her proudly. “William.”
Victoire was smiling proudly. “I think it suits him, don't you?”
“It does,” agreed Scorpius, because he knew it was required. Really, it was too soon to tell what would suit the newest Lupin.
Teddy lifted the bundle up. “Would you like to hold him?”
Rose gave him a wide-eyed, frozen stare, so Scorpius took the baby. The little bundle fit nicely into the crook of his arm, and he was suddenly overwhelmed with the desire to have one with Rose.
He wondered what their baby would look like. Weasley genes did seem incredibly dominant. But as he handed the baby back to Teddy a few minutes later, he tried to dismiss the idea.
If she wouldn't even marry him, the chances of a baby seemed slim.
“We'd better go so you can bring in the next lot,” Rose said then. “They ought to just let us all in and get it over with.”
“I think that might be too many Weasleys in too small a space.” Victoire smiled. “Come over next week and see him properly, at home.”
“Yeah, all right.” Rose grabbed Scorpius's arm and they made their escape.
“He looks like Teddy,” Scorpius remarked as they headed back to the waiting area.
“I thought so too,” Rose agreed. “But he'll look like a Weasley soon enough.”
Chapter 3: Contagious
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My cousin Dominique threw a party that next weekend. Not to celebrate the birth of her new nephew (because she didn't often throw parties for anyone but herself), but because she'd sold her book.
Dominique had never been much of a writer, so we'd all been a bit surprised when she told us she was shopping around a manuscript she'd written. This had particularly come as a surprise to my cousin Roxanne, who actually was a writer, and had never sold a book of her own.
The manuscript had sold, and would be published soon apparently, and Dominique wanted to celebrate, by which she usually meant show off and rub it in to the rest of us. Dominique was like that.
I couldn't entirely fault her for the book – she was capitalizing on the horrible time she'd had recently, and really if one's husband is going to run off with another woman and then be Obliviated so he doesn't remember what he'd done and expect one to take him back and pretend it never happened, one might as well make some money off the bastard by selling the story to a publisher. Since he'd lost his job at the Ministry, she wasn't getting any other kind of money out of her ex.
Dominique answered the door dressed in purple robes cut low at the chest, her hair curled in red-gold waves down her back and her makeup perfectly done. Sometimes it was hard being related to her.
“Rose, Scorpius!” she exclaimed, as if she were surprised and humbled to see us. She was really good at that. She should've been a politician.
“Hi Dommie,” I said as we came inside. Scorpius smiled at her a little vaguely. He didn't like her much; thought she was too fake. Smart man.
“There are drinks at the bar,” Dominique told us, waving to indicate the small corner set-up. There was a uniformed man behind the counter preparing drinks.
“She hired a bartender?” Scorpius muttered as we left Dominique to welcome more guests.
I shook my head in exasperation. Really, you couldn't put anything past Dominique.
Most of the guests were Dominique's friends, but there was a healthy scattering of Weasleys who'd been unable to plead previous engagements. Victoire hadn't made the party, of course, since she'd got the perfect excuse by having a baby only a week ago, but my brother was there, standing at the bar with our cousin Albus Potter, and Molly Weasley was on the couch with the accordionist she was dating. Her mohawk was notable for its absence today – I wondered if Dominique had told her not to do it, or if it was still styled au naturel from her sister's wedding.
Lucy the newlywed was also missing, not surprisingly since she was probably still on her honeymoon (and had always been really good at dodging annoying family get-togethers anyway), but I didn't see Roxanne anywhere either. I wondered if she was busy or if she'd been so annoyed that a non-writer cousin published a book before she did that she hadn't wanted to come.
“It's your turn to be designated Apparator,” Scorpius reminded me as we made our way to the bar.
I groaned. A Dominique party without the comforting haze of booze? It was only fair, yeah, since he was the D.A. way more often than I was, but it still sucked. I pulled a face at him. “All right.”
Hugo and Albus must have already been a bit liquored up, because they greeted Scorpius's order of firewhiskey and soda with a resounding cheer.
“Men's night!” Hugo crowed. Albus clapped my boyfriend on the shoulder. Scorpius looked very pleased with himself. They were such idiots.
“Rose's turn to be designated Apparator!” Albus added, and they all cheered again and toasted me.
“Where's James? James!” Hugo looked around. My cousin James Potter popped up out of nowhere. He has a habit of doing this at the worst times.
“Are we drinking? Oi! Firewhiskey and soda here as well!” James called to the bartender.
I could see Dominique giving us a frown from the opposite side of the room and led the boys off to the side, behind a group of Ministry warlocks. “Dommie's going to kick us out if you lot don't shut up, all right?”
“Scorpius, you're drinking?” James clinked glasses with him. “It must be Rose's turn to be sober.”
“Rose's turn!” they all chorused loudly, holding up their glasses at me and then drinking deeply.
I rolled my eyes and looked for an escape. “Stay here while I go and talk to Molly a bit, all right?”
They gave another cheer, this time saluting Molly, who looked up at the sound of her name and gave them a little wave. I left.
“They can't help themselves, can they?” she asked as I sat down next to her, nodding her head at the lot of them.
“I don't think so.”
Fred had turned up now, drink in hand. I was going to have to get all five of them home at this rate. All they needed was Louis to make the nightmare complete. Fortunately Louis's mojo was running strong as ever, and he was in a darkened corner of the dining room with two skinny blondes giggling at him.
“I think you should leave them here,” Molly suggested. “Wouldn't it be fun to see how Dominique dealt with that lot passing out on her expensive rugs?”
I actually considered it for a moment. It would only be fun if I got to see how she reacted, and that meant waking up far too early. “I have a better idea. I'll call their mums to come fetch them later.”
Molly looked impressed.
I woke up the next morning (and by morning of course I mean noon) feeling sick to my stomach, which was utterly unfair when I hadn't even been the one drinking. Scorpius was already puttering around the kitchen looking bleary-eyed when I emerged from the bathroom. He looked up at me, squinting a bit against the bright sunlight.
“Were you throwing up, Rose?”
“No.” I sat down at the table and put a hand to my head. “Nearly, but no.”
“You didn't drink, or I'd offer to share this Hangover-Curing Potion with you.” He sat down at the table, sipping at the cup of minty-smelling potion. “Coming down with something?”
“Apparently. Let me have a sip, see if it helps.” I drank a bit of the potion, and it did clear up the last remnants of queasiness. “Maybe the rum is still seeping out of my pores from Majorca.”
“I doubt it. We've been back for over two months. Nobody could drink that much.” He seemed to reconsider. “Although we did give it a bloody good run-up.”
I left him to finish up the potion and went to Victoire's house.
Having promised her to come visit the new baby this week, I had dodged actually doing so long enough for her to send me an owl reminding me that I hadn't even held baby William yet. Apparently I wasn't going to be able to avoid this. Not that I dislike babies – although they do make me a bit nervous – it's just that Johnny Lupin is enough to make anyone wary.
William was only a week old though. Probably he hadn't learned to headbutt yet.
She was making lunch when I got there, and I grabbed one of the sandwiches.
“Oh good, you're here,” Victoire said cheerfully. “Liam is asleep right now, but he'll be up any minute wanting a feed. You can hold him after.”
I sat and ate the sandwich and watched her bustle around the kitchen. She seemed quite back to her usual self, even though the baby was only about a week old. The thought of no more Victoire-saying-the-first-thing-that-popped-into-her-head was quite cheerful.
Of course, now I was going to have to hold the baby. Generally I avoided holding babies, partly because I was afraid I'd drop them and partly because it always made me wish a little bit that I had one as well. This sort of conflicting crap makes me hand babies right back over and dodge offers to hold them again.
Liam woke after I finished my sandwich, doing that high-pitched newborn cry that I remembered from Victoire's previous three children and seemed designed to screw straight into your brain and down every nerve ending. Victoire went to fetch the baby, and I followed her into the living room.
Victoire always looked very motherly, but she did look particularly motherly when she was nursing a baby. She just did the entire motherhood thing so effortlessly. Of course, this was her fourth, so she was probably quite used to it now. Still, I didn't watch too closely. I didn't need to see that much of my cousin, and Victoire is not shy at all when she's nursing.
My aunt Fleur came in while we sat there, with little Dora (Victoire's third child and only daughter) on her hip. She smiled at me and sat down in the chair beside us, shifting Dora to her lap. Dora was a year and a half old, I think. I have a hard time keeping track of how old Victoire's kids were.
“Hello Rose.” Aunt Fleur bounced Dora on her lap a bit, and Dora snuggled into her. Dora was adjusting remarkably well to being displaced as the baby, probably because her grandmother was staying with her and babying the hell out of her. Aunt Fleur didn't noticeably play favourites or anything, but I was pretty sure Dora was her favourite. Maybe because she was a girl, or maybe because any kid looks good after Johnny Lupin.
“Hi Aunt Fleur. Are you staying with Victoire?”
“Mum's going to stay a few weeks to help out,” Victoire put in. “Isn't that lovely?”
Voluntarily staying for weeks to help take care of Johnny Lupin? She ought to receive hazard pay. I made a murmur of agreement, and Aunt Fleur caught my eye and winked.
Victoire's oldest popped his head in the room. Remus was, as many oldest kids are, quite responsible and well-behaved. Of course, this was probably only by comparison to his younger brother, who often believed himself a manticore.
“Mummy,” Remus announced. “Three times twelve is thirty-six.”
“That's correct,” she agreed.
Remus beamed, and then went on, “Also, Johnny punched me in the stomach so I kicked him. Now he says he'll never be my friend again. Make him be my friend again.”
Victoire didn't even blink. “Ask Mémé to talk to Johnny for you.”
Remus turned to his grandmother. “Mémé-”
Aunt Fleur hefted Dora, who clung to her neck, and followed Remus out of the room.
I watched them go, and then glanced at Victoire. She was shifting the baby, and when she saw me looking, she handed him over and started rearranging her clothing.
Liam was already asleep again, and I took him gingerly, cradling him in both arms. At least sitting down I knew I wouldn't drop him. The little bits of fine hair he had appeared to be quite red. It was probably too early to tell yet, but I didn't think she'd managed to produce a Metamorphmagus like her husband. Again. Weasley genes seemed to overpower whatever gene Teddy might have passed on, although Liam did resemble Teddy.
He opened his eyes a bit, and we stared at each other.
The little blue eyes met mine, and a feeling crept over me that something was missing in my life. No, not the ineffable joy of motherhood.
I hadn't had my monthly for a while.
I stared, unseeing, at Liam and did the math in my head. Well, I tried to. Maths aren't my strong suit. I was pretty sure I hadn't seen it since we'd been to Majorca. That couldn't be normal. It certainly wasn't normal for me. What with one thing or another, I hadn't been paying attention this month. Or last month, apparently. I hadn't noticed how late I was.
“Victoire, are babies contagious?”
“What? Is he sick? He's not sick.” She snatched Liam out of my arms and examined him.
I was feeling kind of sick myself. “Um, no, that's not what I meant.”
“Don't scare me like that,” she scolded me, hefting Liam up onto her shoulder. He was asleep again.
I stared at him blankly for a moment. His face scrunched up and his lips wiggled a bit in his sleep, as if he might be dreaming of food. The kid definitely had Weasley genes.
“Victoire? Do you know how to do a pregnancy test?”
She gave me a look. “Are you kidding?”
I went home rather shell-shocked. Scorpius was sitting on the kitchen counter when I got to our flat, eating a bowl of cereal and paging through some sort of art magazine. He looked up when I came in, but his smile faded when he saw my expression.
I dropped my handbag on the floor and stared at him. I really had no idea how to break this gently. “I'm pregnant,” I said. Best to just get it out there, really.
The bowl slipped in his hands, and he fumbled with it for a moment, slopping milk all over the kitchen tile. He set the bowl carefully on the counter next to him and we stared at each other in silence.
“Um,” he said eventually, looking utterly stunned. “What?”
“That's pretty much what I said too,” I told him heavily, collapsing into a chair.
He slid down from the counter and came over to sit next to me. “Are you sure?”
“Victoire did the test.”
He nodded, accepting Victoire's expertise in that area without question. We sat in silence for a while, and he looked rather as if he'd been hit in the head with a Bludger. I was feeling that way myself, so I couldn't entirely blame him. It didn't feel real. I didn't think I was really taking it in yet.
Eventually I asked, feeling hesitant, “Do we want to do this?”
He gave a helpless shrug. “I don't know, Rose. Do you want to?”
“I don't know. But...” I bit my lip. I had a weird feeling, sort of like I'd missed the train to Hogwarts and sort of like I was about to go after a really dangerous felon. That sort of thing had never stopped me before, though. “I don't want to not do this.”
He looked nonplussed. “So what you're saying is, you want to have the baby?”
I did the same helpless shrug he'd just done. “We're twenty-seven. Maybe it's time. Maybe this is a sign.”
“Pregnancy is often a sign that one is going to have a baby,” he said dryly, and I punched him in the arm. He reached over, put his hands on my cheeks, cradling my face gently, and gave me a long kiss.
“Your dad's going to kill me,” he said when we broke apart.
“Probably.” I kissed him again.
Chapter 4: Maternal
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Scorpius spent the next day working on his painting, no doubt also secretly congratulating himself on his procreative powers (I was only guessing, but from the smug look on his face, I thought it was probably about right). I spent it sitting on a bench in Diagon Alley, avoiding going into work. I'd never done that before, but I was sort of afraid now.
I'd picked up Pyxis Parmenter not long ago – he was a longtime client of mine, I'd taken him into custody any number of times – and another bloke right afterwards who'd been arrested for magical assault. He'd almost hexed me, but I'd Disapparated before the spell hit its mark. And Parmenter always pulled something ridiculous when I picked him up. Now I was a bundle of nerves over it. I mean, not that I didn't get scared when it happened, because I often spent half the day afraid when picking up skips, at least when I wasn't annoyed, but now I kept wondering what would have happened if I'd actually been hexed. I looked down at my belly.
There was a baby in there. An actual baby. It still didn't seem real. I couldn't feel anything, didn't feel any different – maybe a little queasy again – and it was hard to know what to think. I sort of felt like I was on a merry-go-round that had stopped but left me still feeling like I was spinning. I didn't like it.
The baby might not feel real just yet, but it was real, at least according to Victoire's test. I trusted her, because she'd had loads of babies herself and was far better at charms and spells than I was, really. Since there was a baby, I probably ought to start acting like it.
Oh hell, what if you weren't even supposed to Apparate when you're pregnant? I didn't know any of the rules for this. I had no idea what to do.
So I went to Victoire's. Mrs. Longbottom in the Leaky Cauldron let me use her Floo, since now I was afraid of Apparating, my one actual job skill.
Victoire looked surprised to see me stepping out of her fireplace. “Rose! Is something wrong? Why are you Flooing over?”
“Are you allowed to Apparate when you're pregnant?” I blurted out, and she laughed.
Teddy Lupin stuck his head in from the kitchen. Apparently he wasn't working today either. His eyes were huge. “Rose, you're pregnant?”
“You didn't tell him?” I asked Victoire.
“Of course not. Teddy, go away.” She waved her husband off with a shooing gesture.
Teddy, eyes still wide as saucers, went back into the kitchen.
“You can Apparate when you're pregnant,” Victoire told me with a smile. “It's perfectly safe in the first and second trimesters if you know what you're doing, and you've always been very good at Apparating. Your Healer will tell you to stop toward the end of your pregnancy, but you won't want to by then anyway.”
“Oh. Okay.” I chewed my lip a little, and Victoire gave me a sympathetic look.
“D'you want to talk, Rose?”
I had no idea what I wanted. Probably I should talk to her, though. Victoire was rather an authority on pregnancy at this point, after all. “Um. Yeah, I suppose.”
She looped her arm through mine and led me to the kitchen.
Teddy was still sitting at the table, eating a cinnamon scone, but since he'd already found out, I didn't much care if we talked in front of him. Maybe he'd have something to contribute. Victoire made tea, and we sat around the table. Teddy kept his eyes on the Daily Prophet in front of him and his mouth shut. Smart man.
“I don't know how to do this,” I told Victoire, feeling rather sorry for myself.
“You'll figure it out,” she told me calmly. She didn't look at all concerned. Apparently she had never met me before.
“What exactly are you worried about, Rose?” she asked, sipping her tea. “You can learn about pregnancy and childbirth. There are classes you can take, and loads of books about it. Frankly, if you carry on eating as usual and avoid any dangerous magic, you'll pretty much be perfectly fine. It's not really all that complicated. Witches have been having babies for thousands and thousands of years.”
“I'm not sure I even like children,” I said worriedly.
“Neither am I,” muttered Teddy, who had once declared his intentions of having enough children to field his own Quidditch team.
“Children are beasts,” Victoire said briskly. “They break everything you own, they're always sticky or smelly, often loud as well, and they never leave you alone. That's the truth of it. But you'll love your baby and you won't care about any of that.”
“Other people's children are dreadful,” Teddy agreed. “I only like ours. Most of the time.”
“Shut it, Teddy,” Victoire said, and he went back to his newspaper. She turned back to me and patted my hand. “Rose, you get along just fine with Remus and Johnny. You play Quidditch with them in the backyard almost every time you come over. And you admitted ages ago that you'd thought about having a baby of your own.”
That was true, but mostly what I liked about Remus and Johnny was that I could play with them and then go home and leave them to their parents for all the bits that required being responsible. “But I don't know anything about this. I didn't even know if you're supposed to Apparate or not. I mean, what if I'm a crappy mum? I'm not very maternal, you know,” I admitted, feeling stupid.
Teddy looked up again at that. “Uh, Rose,” he said, giving me a look. “Don't take this the wrong way or anything, but... Scorpius is.”
“What?” I glanced at Victoire, who had that look on her face that said she agreed with her husband but was too nice to say it out loud.
“Rose dear,” she began, and her voice went up a bit in pitch, almost to her mummy-voice, and took on a conciliatory tone. I knew that tone – it was the one she used when someone was being ridiculous and she had to talk them down. “Maybe you aren't the most maternal, but Scorpius is very, er, paternal. He'll be a wonderful father, you know. Any shortcomings you might feel you have, I'm sure he can more than make up for them.”
“I know.” I didn't know, but now she said it, it made sense. Scorpius was bound to be much better at this than I was. It was much more his sort of thing. I cheered up a bit. Scorpius was very responsible. He did the washing-up every day, and kept house plants alive.
“Scorpius will be a great mum,” Teddy said, and his wife kicked him sharply. I probably wasn't supposed to see that, but she hadn't been subtle about it. “Er, I mean dad,” Teddy added.
“Besides,” added Victoire, “it's all different when it's your own baby.”
I'd heard that before, and I still didn't entirely believe it.
She seemed to see the skepticism in my eyes, because she insisted, “It's true. You wait and see. Anyway, everyone has to learn on the job with their firstborn. Do you know, Teddy put Remus's nappies on backward until he was almost two months old?”
I looked at Teddy, who shrugged unabashedly.
“Looked the same to me,” he said.
“It will come to you,” Victoire assured me. “There's nothing to worry about. How's Scorpius doing?”
“Happy as a clam.” I rolled my eyes. “He wants to make an appointment with the Healers, but I told him we have to tell our parents first. You know how gossip gets around. If my mum finds out I'm pregnant from some Healer, she'll murder me in my bed.”
“That's probably true,” Teddy mumbled.
“You can't go trotting off to tell Uncle Harry, either,” I warned him. “You always tell him everything.”
“He won't,” Victoire promised, giving her husband a stern look.
Teddy rolled his eyes and turned the page of his newspaper. “All right, all right, I'll keep my mouth shut. But after you tell them, can I say I knew first?”
“Victoire knew first,” I said. “And then Scorpius. And then you. But not on purpose.”
“Still, I knew before Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione,” he said, and went back to his newspaper.
I wasn't sure how well I could trust Teddy Lupin to keep his mouth shut. He had a long history of telling my uncle Harry everything I was up to, and when Uncle Harry knew something, my dad knew it immediately afterwards. Those two were practically joined at the hip.
It didn't take much convincing for Scorpius to realize this as well.
“Teddy knows?” He groaned loudly. “We'd better go to your parents' house tonight and tell them. He won't be able to hold it in long before he trots off to your uncle's house and tells him everything.”
We didn't bother to Floo first. My parents pretty much have a standing invitation that I can come by any time I like. We turned up just before they normally ate dinner, and announced ourselves at the door.
“Mum? Are you home?” I called.
Dad popped out from the living room and grinned at me. “Rose! Are you all right? Blow up anyone's house today?”
Scorpius chuckled, and I shook my head. “It was a slow day.”
“Hi Rose,” Mum called as we made our way into the dining room. She waved her wand to set two extra places for us. “There's plenty of food. We're doing Indian tonight. Your father ordered enough to feed an army.”
Dad kissed her on the cheek as he passed, heading into the kitchen. My parents ordered take-out rather a lot, since my mother wasn't the world's best cook. She used to at least make an attempt, but recently she'd decided being an empty-nester meant she could give up entirely and survive on take-out and Dad's fry-ups.
Scorpius was already peeking at the food, and it did smell tempting, but now I was faced with my mum bustling around the dining room, setting out cartons of Indian food, I didn't think I could hold in the news any longer. We could always eat afterwards. Food is a good celebration, right?
“Dad, can you come in here a moment?” I called, and Scorpius came to attention. I could practically see his ears perking up.
Dad came back from the kitchen with a couple of bottles of butterbeer, and set them on the table. “What?”
Mum had already realized something was up. She was watching me closely. Dad looked at her and then at me and Scorpius and seemed to cotton on. He raised an eyebrow at me.
“Um.” I had no idea how one was supposed to make announcements of this sort. Dominique had sent out singing letters in iambic pentameter as a birth announcement, but that was Dominique for you. Oh hell, I figured, I might as well just say it. “I'm pregnant.”
Dad's mouth fell open. Mum looked a bit stunned as well. Neither one of them managed to say anything.
“It wasn't my fault,” I told them nervously, filling in the silence. “It wasn't Scorpius's fault either, actually. It just... happened.”
“Oh, Rose,” Mum said then. She'd gone all misty-eyed.
Mum's voice seemed to jar Dad out of his speechlessness.
“We always thought Hugo would be first with the child-out-of-wedlock, all those girlfriends he has,” he said. “I'm glad you beat him to it, Rose.” He held out his arms, and I stepped closer, wrapping my arms around his waist as he pulled me into a tight hug. There's nothing like being hugged by your dad for feeling safe and warm.
I heard Mum say “Congratulations,” and glanced over to see she was smiling at Scorpius. His cheeks were a little flushed, but he was smiling too.
“Thanks, Mrs. Weasley.”
“You're not angry?” I whispered in Dad's ear.
“You've been dating him for over ten years,” Dad mumbled gruffly. “Not exactly a huge surprise after all that time. We reckoned it was bound to happen eventually. You're a Weasley.”
“This means you'll be quitting your job, right?” Mum asked hopefully. She'd been after me to quit my job at Agnelli's for years.
“We haven't really talked about it yet,” I told her, pulling away from Dad. He kept one hand on my shoulder, giving me a little squeeze.
She frowned a bit, but she didn't press me further, thankfully, and gave me a hug instead. “Well, it's wonderful. We need to celebrate.”
Dad turned to Scorpius and pressed his lips together briefly, then held out a hand. Scorpius looked distinctly relieved and shook my dad's hand.
“Congratulations to you both. Told ol' Draco yet?” Dad added in a voice that was almost but not quite a grumble.
Scorpius shook his head. “We only just found out. We haven't told my parents.”
Dad looked quite chuffed that he knew before Scorpius's dad. “Bet he won't like it.”
“Ronald,” Mum said. The warning was clearly audible in her voice. I was sort of glad for it, actually, because I didn't want to think about what Scorpius's parents were going to say. Dad returned to the original subject as if he hadn't said a word about Scorpius's dad.
“You're right, Hermione, we do need to celebrate. Maybe I'll pop over to George's and pick up a box of fireworks. We could set off a huge display and have ice cream in the backyard.”
“That sounds perfect,” Mum agreed. “Pick up ice cream on your way home, because you ate the last of it this morning.”
Chapter 5: Chaos
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Scorpius liked to think impending fatherhood was agreeing with him. He felt more creative than ever, his paintings flowing effortlessly and the timber of his voice sounding richer. It was probably just the excitement of it all, but he couldn't help it. He felt like cheering, or jumping up and down. Whenever he thought about it, he found himself smiling.
Rose was having a baby. His baby. Unintentionally, yes, but it was just as wonderful.
She wasn't showing yet; it was too early for that, but he couldn't stop touching her belly. Eventually she got tired of it and slapped his hand away, of course, but a few times a day he could get away with giving her belly a little caress and picturing the baby.
Thus far Rose seemed to be taking it in stride rather better than he'd expected. She was only a bit queasy, and a potion (Victoire had given her the recipe; it was surprisingly similar to the Hangover-Curing Potion they were both so familiar with) made that go away quickly enough, so Rose was handling things quite well.
He'd been a bit worried that she was handling it well because it hadn't become real for her yet, but it had been her idea to go ahead with actually having the baby in the first place, so maybe she was all right with it after all.
Since she hadn't freaked out over the thought of impending motherhood, Scorpius felt free to indulge in his elation over having made a baby with her. He wanted to paint a portrait of her, but decided to wait until she was visibly pregnant. She might not want to immortalize the moment, but he did, and he was rather sure this was his only shot at painting a pregnant Rose, at least from life.
She hadn't been to work all week, not since she'd told him about the baby. And since she wasn't going to work or freaking out, he felt safe to broach a subject he was sure she wasn't going to like.
She had to stop working now, at least for the duration of the pregnancy.
Her job was, quite frankly, far too dangerous for her to keep working until the baby was born. There was no option for a desk job there, either, so she was going to have to quit, at least for now. As much as she complained about her job, she did love it, so he knew she wasn't going to be happy and was expecting to have to convince her that it was best.
He cornered her while she was sitting at the foot of their bed one morning, putting her hair in pigtails that made her look very sweet and girlish.
“What are your plans for the day? Going in to the office?”
She shrugged. “I probably should. I haven't been in all week. Lydia's bound to think I'm dead in a ditch somewhere by now. Better go in before Angelo buys a celebratory cigar.”
He smiled briefly at that and then steeled himself for an unpleasant discussion. “I wanted to talk to you about that. I don't think it's a good idea for you to keep working while you're pregnant.”
She looked down at her lap, her face hurt and forlorn. Before she could say anything, though, he knelt down in front of her, his hands on her thighs. She set the brush aside, not meeting his eyes, but he knew he had her full attention. Her body was very still. Rose wasn't often still.
“I know you don't want to quit, Rose, but it's too dangerous. You could get hurt, or take spell damage, anything could happen. We'll be all right without you working, I promise. The painting of Gideon Crumb is going to pay our rent for the next six months. And I can do more portraits – one of the other Weird Sisters has already asked if I'll paint his children next. I can pay the rent and all that, I swear.”
Rose nodded, but she still wasn't looking at him.
“I'll do whatever it takes,” he said sincerely. “I'll go back to the Ministry if I have to. The Misuse of Muggle Artefacts office is bound to have messed up their filing again by now, I could straighten it back out. But you can't do skip-tracing while you're pregnant.”
“I know,” she said quietly. “I already figured that. I was going in today to tell Angelo I need time off until after the baby comes.”
He wanted to breathe a sigh of relief, and he was relieved, but she looked so unhappy that all he could do was wrap his arms around her waist and hold her.
“I'm sorry,” he whispered, and she ran a hand through his hair.
“I'll be bored,” she warned him.
“You might like it after you get used to it. Not working, I mean.”
She threw him a look, and he had to admit, he did know better. She was going to drive him crazy being home – and bored – all the time. It would be wonderful though, and worth it. She was worth everything to him.
When Scorpius had been thirteen, his voice had changed. The baritone register he'd settled into had inspired one of his classmates to introduce him to the world of musical theatre, with which he'd quickly fallen in love. Singing came naturally to him, and he loved it almost as much as painting. He didn't care about school much, or his father's pureblood rhetoric, or a career in anything really, because art and music consumed his soul. And then he'd fallen in love with Rose.
This, all of it, wrapped up in a neat little present exactly why his father was disappointed in him, and when it had all started.
With Muggle showtunes, and Rose Weasley.
Scorpius was well aware of his father's disenchantment with him. Draco Malfoy had never troubled to hide what a failure his only son was in his eyes. Scorpius tried not to let it bother him, but it was his father, after all, and he couldn't help feeling hurt. As much as Scorpius disappointed his father, his father disappointed him. Draco especially suffered by comparison to Rose's father, who was proud of her even when he thought she was mental, and had been known to fish her out of the clutches of serial killers when needed (really, living with Rose was exhausting) without even berating her for it later.
Dinners at the Malfoys' house were always a bit tense because of all this. Between him living with Rose, painting instead of running the Malfoy fortunes, his admiration for Muggle music, and refusing to take any of his family's money to support himself, his father had a wide range of topics upon which to harass his only child.
And now he was about to have one more.
Scorpius had no illusions. Neither of his parents was likely to be happy. They'd never liked Rose. She was a Weasley. And she wasn't a pureblood. Still, it had to be done. They were bound to notice eventually, after all. He was expecting to have to tell his father off about complaining about the baby, as he'd done when his father had openly complained about Rose.
Draco Malfoy could say what he liked about Scorpius's career or lack thereof, and even about Muggle showtunes, but he knew better than to speak rudely about Rose, at least if he ever wanted to see his son again.
They arrived for their monthly dinner at precisely seven o'clock, and followed the house-elf to the drawing room where his parents were waiting.
“Remember, we'll lead into it gently after the pudding,” Scorpius whispered as they entered the room.
“I know, I know.” Rose smiled brightly at his parents, though he could see the smile was forced. She didn't like his parents any better than they liked her. “Hi, Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy.”
“Mother. Father.” Scorpius nodded at them.
His mother managed a small smile, and his father merely nodded back. “Scorpius. Miss Weasley.”
Rose hated these dinners. She didn't fit in here, like a hothouse flower growing in a slab of ice, but her presence was almost the only thing that made these visits tolerable for Scorpius. He always felt better with her beside him.
The house-elf handed her a gillywater. It was what his mother drank, so it was what the elf always made for Rose as well, and although Rose hated the stuff, she never said anything. He appreciated her deeply for that. It was such a small thing, but she could have made an issue of it and didn't, for his sake.
Dinner was strained, as usual. Scorpius was still mentally rehearsing how he was going to break the news to his parents, only half-listening to the small talk his parents made. They disliked having real conversations over the dinner table. It felt strange now, after he'd been to so many Weasley dinners full of noise and chaos and loud debates over everything from politics to Quidditch teams, but at one time he'd been used to it.
It was nice to think he'd be a change for the Malfoy line. He was determined the icy silence would end with him. His child would not sit quietly like this and make the occasional inane remark about the weather. Scorpius was tired of polite and proper.
He wanted chaos.
Chaos currently sat beside him, eating her veal with a silver fork embossed with the Malfoy crest. She caught him looking at her and gave him a wink. He smiled, fancying that she already had that famed pregnancy glow.
Or maybe she'd just always been this beautiful.
The dinner plates were removed, and Scorpius sat back thoughtfully, drinking his wine. He was going to broach the subject as gently as he possibly could, as per the plan. He was fairly certain his parents' reactions would be predictable, but he had a decent plan for redirecting them so no one need shout at each other. He eyed his parents. His mother was wearing the usual expression of distraction; Rose called it her 'dreaming of Majorca' face. His father, though, looked slightly pinched and annoyed. He often did when Rose was at their dinner table.
When the sorbet was served, his father opened his mouth with a look in his eye that said he was about to lecture about his son's shortcomings, and suddenly his mental script seemed stupid. It wasn't going to be pleasant either way, he realized, so he may as well rip the bandage off, so to speak.
Hell with it.
“Rose is pregnant,” Scorpius said before his father could speak.
His mother dropped her spoon. It clattered loudly against the china. His father opened and closed his mouth. Twice. Rose looked at him askance.
“I thought you wanted to lay it on them gently,” she stage-whispered.
“Hell with it,” he told her.
“Pregnant?” his mother echoed faintly.
“You're not going to marry her, are you?” his father demanded. There was nothing faint about his voice.
“Probably not,” Scorpius said cheerfully. “We'll continue living in sin.”
Rose took a sip of her water, looking studiedly innocent. As innocent as a woman whose unwed pregnancy had just been announced could look, that is.
“But... but...” His mother's pale cheeks were turning pink. She stared at him with eyes wide. “Your grandmother-”
Grandmother was going to have heart palpitations when she heard he was having a child with a Weasley. She wouldn't even come out of her room if Rose was in the house. When she spoke to Scorpius, she pretended Rose didn't exist. It was rather horrible, but she still looked on the Weasleys with disdain. They were beneath her, so she would not acknowledge his relationship with Rose. Not only was Rose a Weasley, she wasn't even a pure-blooded Weasley. To his grandmother, that was the end of things. And now, he'd knocked up a half-blooded Weasley.
He supposed he could only be relieved his grandfather hadn't lived to see this. Now there was a reaction he didn't want to think about.
He rolled his eyes. “I know, Mother.”
“Pregnant,” she said again.
“You can't be serious about this, Scorpius,” his father snapped. “You don't actually expect us to-”
Scorpius broke in with a sharp, “Father,” and his father subsided, somewhat to his surprise. They stared at each other for a moment, and Scorpius willed him not to say anything that would require a full-on argument.
“What did her parents say about this... this...” His father fumbled for a moment for the right word, then went on with a vague wave of his hand and his lip pulled back in a sneer, “About this.”
“They said congratulations,” Scorpius said quietly.
His father looked at him for what felt like a very long time, and finally he glanced at Rose and then back to Scorpius and said, “Congratulations. Do you need money?”
“No, Father,” Scorpius replied. “And thank you.”
That seemed to be the end of things for his father, and although his mother kept glancing at Rose all through dinner, Draco Malfoy did not revisit the subject of the baby the rest of the evening.
Two weeks later, however, his mother stopped by to collect Rose, and they returned a few hours later with a roomful of nursery furniture on order. Scorpius knew who was paying for that, and decided to allow the extravagance since it was the closest his father was likely to come to admitting he would be involved with a half-Weasley grandchild, at least to the extent he was involved in Scorpius's life at all.
Rose's parents, who were extremely involved in her life, had been dropping by regularly with gifts for the baby. Her dad favoured more fun and less practical gifts, such as toy broomsticks and small plush dragons, and a miniature model of the Hogwarts Express done all in hand-carved and painted wood. Her mum, on the other hand, brought books. A great deal of books, primarily about pregnancy and child-rearing. Scorpius had to confiscate a number of these when Rose, being Rose, skipped to the end and got herself completely freaked out over the chapter on labour and delivery.
Rose freaked out did no one any good.
And so he sent her to Victoire's to calm down when she read about contractions and transition, and waited another month before broaching the next unpleasant discussion.
They were having rhubarb crumble after dinner. It was a dish that always went well with her father, and was one of Rose's favourites too. He tended to make it when he knew he needed a leg up.
She was sitting on the sofa watching Quidditch on the wireless, and he sat down next to her with a plate of crumble in hand.
“I've been thinking,” he began, and Rose shot him a look.
“Did it hurt?”
He ignored this. In his experience, pregnant Weasleys said whatever they wanted to, even more than they normally did. Victoire was absolutely hilarious when she was pregnant. Dominique had really been a treat. Pregnant Rose was shaping up to be exactly like her cousins.
He knew from long experience that she wasn't going to like what he was about to ask. Even knowing her likely response, however, he felt the question was one worth asking.
“I've been thinking, Rose. Maybe we could, you know, get married?” he asked, struggling to keep his voice neutral so as not to spook her. This was pathetic, he reflected wryly; she was having his child, but he had to carefully negotiate his way through a conversation about marriage in case she freaked out and ran off to Aruba.
Rose's eyes widened. “What, me? Married? Mental enough to think of me as a mother, isn't it?”
“Do you think it would make it better or worse for our parents if we were married before the baby was born?”
She actually stopped to consider that one. He could see the wheels turning; she was thinking so hard there was nearly smoke coming out her ears. He reckoned she was picturing her father's expression if she told him his only daughter was about to become a Malfoy.
“I'm not sure that would help,” she said eventually.
“You don't have to take my name,” Scorpius put in. “I don't care about that, you know. You'd still be Rose Weasley.”
Her eyes were getting wider and wider, and he read the panic in her face and decided they'd had enough marriage talk. He drew a breath, pushed his disappointment aside, and held out the plate of rhubarb crumble. “Second helping?”
She looked relieved, and took some crumble. It was actually her third helping, but who was counting? She'd blame it on the baby anyway. Whenever Rose wanted to overeat these days, it was for the baby, even though the Healers said she didn't actually need to eat for two – more like one and a bit. Convenient, that. He didn't mind, though. She looked adorably soft right now, with her belly just beginning to stretch out the unicorn on her shirt. He wondered if he could get her some maternity shirts with pink unicorns. That would make her happy.
Apparently marriage wouldn't. He hadn't really expected her to say yes, he realized, watching her fork up the crumble.
“I love you,” he said then.
She looked up at him with a smile, her fork in midair. “I love you too.”
And that was enough.
Chapter 6: Delivery
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Scorpius finished the painting of Gideon Crumb, and then one of Heathcote Barbary's children. Kirley Duke was slated for a Christmas portrait of his family. He seemed to have become the official portrait painter for the Weird Sisters. Apparently when Rose had agreed to help Lenny Graves with his murder charges, she'd inadvertently set off Scorpius's career as well. The portraits made them enough money to keep Rose home for the duration of her pregnancy, and probably a while after that.
But as predicted, she was bored.
And when Rose was bored, she was rather unpleasant. Especially since she'd developed that Weasley pregnancy habit of saying whatever was on her mind. She really needed a case to work on, to keep her occupied, but that was impossible. Auror novels helped a bit, but she read really fast. Rose simply wasn't made to sit idle.
The baby began to move, which distracted her for a time but then they both got used to the baby kicking and there was nothing new to capture Rose's attention except reading novels, complaining about her relatives and everything else she caught sight of, and waiting for the birth.
By the time she was eight months along, tempers were rather strained indeed.
Her mother was still stopping by with pregnancy and childbirth books, but much to Scorpius's relief, Rose had stopped trying to read them, having decided she knew quite enough about pregnancy to be getting on with, thank you very much, and was stacking them in the back of the closet in the baby's room.
He'd read most of them, though, just in case she'd missed something she did need to know. He could see why she'd freaked out. Some of those chapters on delivery were terrifying, and he wasn't even the one who had to actually do it.
Fortunately, the debut of Dominique's book arrived in Rose's thirty-fifth week of pregnancy to distract her from her pregnancy-mandated boredom at home. It got her out of the house, at least for an afternoon, and kept her busy with a running monologue about how annoying Dominique was since she'd become a celebrated author. Dominique's appearance on a morning Wizarding Wireless Network talk show had been fodder for Rose's grumbling for two days.
They went to Flourish and Blotts for the book signing, at Dominique's invitation. It was quite crowded with witches of all ages, waiting to meet Dominique Weasley and have her sign their copies of her book. It seemed her plight had struck a chord with witches everywhere who had also felt – as the title of her book said – Bewitched and Betrayed. There were very few men in the crowd.
This was not really a place Scorpius cared to be, but it was occupying Rose so she wasn't complaining of being bored or demanding that he entertain her, and that was enough reason to go.
They made their way through the crowd, heading toward Dominique, and ran into Rose's cousin Roxanne with her musician husband/boyfriend (no one seemed sure if they were actually married or not), Perry Chilcott.
“Oh hi you lot,” Roxanne said breezily as she caught sight of them. Her eyes fell on Rose's belly, or maybe on the pink unicorn t-shirt. Scorpius was still congratulating himself on having found one in a maternity size. “Nice shirt, Rose.”
Rose managed not to make a face at Roxanne. “Hi Roxy. Hi Perry.”
Perry waved to them. Despite both Roxanne and Rose looking rather annoyed, he seemed to be amused. He often did, from what Scorpius had seen. Perry's ability to find the quirks of the Weasleys entertaining probably boded well for his joining the family successfully. They could drive anyone mad.
“We've just come from bloody Dominique,” Roxanne said, glancing over her shoulder. “Can't believe she got her book out before mine.”
“Are you writing a book, Roxanne?” Scorpius asked in surprise.
The two Weasley women looked at him as if he'd grown a second head.
“She's been writing it for months,” Rose told him, as if he should have known this all along.
“Dommie had to go and get the jump on me and get hers out first,” Roxanne added. “Typical, isn't it. Well, I can't take any more, I'm leaving. See you later.”
She tugged on Perry's arm and they disappeared into the crowd. Scorpius turned to Rose, who was rubbing her breastbone with a small grimace on her face.
“Bloody heartburn,” she said.
“Probably guilt,” he needled her. “Didn't tell me about Roxanne's book?”
Rose burped delicately behind her hand. “Oh, stuff it. I've been busy, you know. I'm growing an actual person in here.”
He grinned and kissed her on the temple. “Let's go say hi to Dominique so we can get the hell out of here.”
Dominique was sitting behind a table loaded down with copies of her book, a large silver quill in hand ready to sign autographs. There was a large poster behind her of the book cover, with Bewitched and Betrayed in red letters above a photo of her face. In the photo, she wore an expression obviously meant to be tragically brave but seemed a bit smug to Scorpius. Rose looked at the poster askance and opened her mouth, so Scorpius headed her off before she could say something offensive to her cousin.
“Congratulations on the book, Dominique,” he said loudly.
Rose gave him a look.
Her cousin smiled widely at him. There were always a lot of teeth when Dominique smiled. “Thank you. Did you get the copy I sent to you?”
He nodded. “Yes, of course. Thanks for that.” Rose had used it to prop up their uneven coffee table, but there was no need to tell her cousin that.
Rose opened her mouth again, probably to tell her cousin the book had been the perfect height to repair the wobbly table, and Scorpius jumped in before she could speak. “We'll let you get back to your fans. Congratulations again.”
“Bye Dommie,” Rose added, looking disgruntled.
Dominique waved to them with her fingertips.
“You never let me have any fun,” Rose told him as he led her away.
They bumped into Rose's cousin Lucy then as she bustled past with an armload of books. Lucy was the assistant manager at Flourish and Blotts. Out of all of Rose's cousins, Lucy kept the most to herself, so Scorpius knew her the least well. She was friendly enough, though.
“All right there, you two? Can you believe this?” Lucy waved her free hand to indicate the crowd. “Honestly. It's almost as bad as when Hilarion's manager did that book about him. At least Dommie actually wrote her book, I suppose.”
Scorpius had nearly forgotten that Lucy's husband had a book of his own. Well, a book of photos of him, anyway. From the look on Rose's face, she hadn't forgotten. Lucy's husband was almost as famous for his looks as he was for his Quidditch skill. Normally Scorpius would have felt a bit jealous, but since Rose was currently hugely pregnant with his child, he didn't care if she thought her cousin's husband was good-looking.
“You look well, Rose,” Lucy added with an encouraging smile.
“I look bloody enormous,” Rose corrected her. “Go on, you can say it. Huge. Like a planet.”
Scorpius grinned. “But a very pretty planet.”
“Know what you're having yet?” Lucy asked.
“A planet,” Rose muttered. “Or an elephant.”
“We're keeping it a surprise,” Scorpius told her cousin.
Lucy rolled her eyes. “You and Victoire, honestly. I'd find out straight off. I like to know things.”
Normally Rose did as well, but she didn't want to know whether the baby was a boy or girl. So long as there was only one, she'd said, but the Healers assured them it wasn't twins. This was something of a relief for Scorpius. Rose's family had a history of twins, but apparently identical twins weren't genetic. One never knew with Weasley genes, though.
“I've got to get back to work. See you later.” Lucy was off then, and Scorpius decided it was safe to leave, before someone in the crowd bumped into Rose and she told them off.
Rose's due date was fast approaching. She was counting down the days, though Victoire had said several times that a due date was only a vague guess at best and not a contractual obligation for delivery. Rose hadn't listened, of course. Heavily advanced pregnancy seemed to be making her more mental than ever.
At twenty days remaining, Rose ate nothing but bacon for an entire day.
At seventeen days, she sat on the couch all day crying over advertisements on the WWN.
At twelve days, she woke at dawn all in a panic to count nappies in the nursery and then slept all afternoon.
At nine days, she came in their room and announced she was having contractions in the same tone of voice she generally used to inform him he ought to do the washing-up.
She'd had contractions before – or thought she had, anyway – so at first he didn't take it too seriously, which seemed to annoy her. He went back to reading his book while she ranted about everything from how often he swept the kitchen to the state of his paintbrushes. Rose's version of the infamous pregnancy 'nesting' seemed to be telling him what he ought to clean next.
She was in mid-lecture when her water broke.
“Dammit,” Rose said in heartfelt tones, looking down. “I really liked these shoes.”
Scorpius stared at her as another contraction took hold and she scowled, both hands on her belly.
This was for real. She was actually having the actual baby. Now.
“You're in labour. Rose. Rose, what do I do?” he asked, feeling a bit panicky as he jumped out of bed. There were things he was supposed to be doing, weren't there? He couldn't remember. His brain wasn't working. Things seemed strangely out of focus. He wondered if he was about to faint.
Rose slapped him on the back of the head. The world sharpened abruptly, and the buzzing in his ears quieted.
“Thanks,” he told her.
“Get the bag and take me to St. Mungo's, you idiot,” she said.
He got the bag.
As they were leaving their flat, Rose remarked in a voice that sounded halfway between a whinge and a complaint, “It's supposed to be my job to get all freaked out. You're the responsible one.”
“Sorry. Lost my head for a moment there.”
The Healers got Rose situated in a comfortable room with plenty of potions for the pain, so she was happy for the first nine hours, if a little impatient for it to be over. They even let her watch a Quidditch match on the WWN, and the suggestions on how to play that Rose yelled to the teams were particularly violent.
But then she went into transition.
When her contractions returned, they were far stronger than before, and this time the Healers told her it was too dangerous to take the stronger pain potions and offered her a milder version. Two of them left when she threw it at their heads.
Scorpius wasn't entirely certain what to do, and Rose wasn't helping things. One moment she was clinging to his hand, and the next she was telling him to go away because the sound of his breathing was annoying her.
But as soon as he made for the door, she yelled out, “And where the hell d'you think you're going? Come hold my hand!”
He was almost as eager for labour to be over as she was. But he stayed beside her, and held her hand when she told him to, and tried to hold his breath when she told him to stop breathing so loudly.
Fourteen hours in, her contractions began to come hard and fast, and Scorpius started feeling a bit panicky. No one else in the room seemed concerned, so he tried to relax, but his heart was beating much too fast, and anxiety was making him breathe fast and shallow.
Rose's hair was plastered to her face with sweat, and her chest and face were flushed. “This is awful,” she told him as one contraction let her go from its grip. “I don't want to do this after all. I want my mum. I want to go home.”
“Um, Rose, I'm pretty sure that's not an option any longer-”
Another deep contraction began then, and she hunched forward, squeezing his hand until he thought he heard a bone creak. Her lips pulled back on a snarl. “You bastard!”
“They all say that sort of thing,” the Healer assured him, still looking rather gloriously unconcerned by the proceedings. “Miss Weasley, you can push now.”
Rose let out a blood-curdling scream, the pitch and volume rising as she bore down, and Scorpius looked down at the Healer and saw blood, and then the world seemed to recede, tunneling into nothing but the blood and the scream, and then blackness.
“That's the third fainting father today,” was the last thing he heard as he went down, falling backward into the blackness.
Chapter 7: Weasley-Malfoy
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I leaned back against the pillows, trying to fluff one up behind my head without moving my lower body. “Well, that was the suckiest thing I've ever done.”
Victoire nodded agreement. She was sitting beside me, flipping channels on the wireless with a wave of her wand. “Yeah, it does suck, doesn't it?”
“I can't believe you did it four times,” I told her. “Are you mental?”
“Gran did it seven times,” she pointed out. “Two right in a row – she says Uncle George and Uncle Fred were only five minutes apart. In a few months, you'll look back and it won't seem that bad.”
I regarded her doubtfully. This seemed highly unlikely; on the other hand, it would explain how any woman had more than one of these bloody things. Kids, that is.
It had only been a few hours since I'd had the baby, who was off being weighed and washed and whatever it was they did to newborns in the nursery. Scorpius was following the baby around while the Healers did their thing, hovering annoyingly at everyone's elbows. At least he wasn't hovering at mine any more. I had gone back and forth during labour between wanting him next to me and wanting never to see him again. The Healer had assured me that was completely normal. Then Scorpius had fainted at the sight of a little blood, which the Healer also assured me was normal.
It was strange, now the baby was out of me, I felt back to my old self. It was like a spell had been lifted, and things no longer seemed so overwhelmingly emotional and awful and uncomfortable all over. Well, I was still feeling a little uncomfortable in a few places, but apparently that was normal too.
Giving birth was a really weird process normally, it seemed.
My parents had already been in, and were probably now off hovering round the nursery with Scorpius. They were over the moon about their new grandbaby – Mum had cried the entire time she was in my room, and Dad was grinning ear to ear. My brother had come by as well. He'd been extraordinarily cheerful about being Uncle Hugo, probably because it required no work on his part, and I'd sent him off with instructions to get rid of everyone else related to us who'd turned up. No doubt Scorpius would show off the baby soon enough, but I was too tired to socialize with relatives.
None of Scorpius's relatives had shown up, of course, unless you counted Teddy Lupin, who was technically Scorpius's second cousin, though neither of them ever mentioned it.
Victoire had slipped in, and no one seemed to notice. The Healers were probably so used to her by now they just assumed she lived here. I didn't mind her being there, though. Victoire was quite restful to visit with, unlike my mother, who'd given me another book, this one about parenting during the first year of the baby's life. Victoire just chatted quietly, still fiddling with the wireless and enjoying being nowhere near any of her four children. She seemed entirely too accustomed to the maternity floor of St. Mungo's. I had no intention of getting used to this place.
Scorpius came in then with the baby bundled in his arms. “Sound asleep,” he said, nodding down at the bundle. He was smiling, a rather stupid smile that hadn't left his face since he'd come round from his faint. I kind of liked that smile.
“Oh, Rose,” Victoire sighed. She was wearing a similar smile. I wondered if I looked as idiotic, and glanced at my reflection in the window.
Right, we were all idiots.
“I can't believe you had a baby,” Victoire added. She sniffed a bit. “It's so wonderful. I'm so happy for you both.” She kissed my forehead, went over to Scorpius and kissed his cheek, then reached down to stroke the baby's face. “I'll leave you to it, then. Family time.”
I waved to her as she left. Scorpius came over to sit next to me on the bed, still cradling the baby.
“We still don't have a name,” he said.
“What should we do about a surname?” I asked, feeling rather nervous. We weren't married, so by rights the baby would probably have my name, but I didn't want to discount Scorpius that way (although really, I had done all the work). “Maybe a hyphenate?”
“The only thing I can think of that would annoy my father more than the fact I had a child with a Weasley is giving that child a hyphenated surname,” Scorpius said, smiling beatifically down at the baby. “So I think we should do it.”
“Weasley-Malfoy? Malfoy-Weasley?” Neither one of them had a nice ring to it, to be honest. Maybe we should scrap both our surnames and pick something entirely new. But I liked being a Weasley. I would probably still be a Weasley even if I did marry Scorpius. Rose Malfoy just doesn't sound as good. Maybe if we ever got married, he'd take my name. Scorpius Weasley?
“Weasley-Malfoy, I suppose.” He was still smiling at the baby, apparently unconcerned by the awkwardness of the hyphenated surname. “So? What about a first name?”
I had put very little thought into what to call the baby. I was pretty sure I'd be calling the poor thing 'the baby' until it was time for Hogwarts. “I don't know. Something astronomic, for Malfoy tradition? Or after a relative, for Weasley tradition?”
Scorpius grinned at me. “You and I have never followed tradition, Rose. How do you feel about Egyptian?”
A/N: Thank you for reading! See you on the flip flop!
... just kidding. :p The first chapter of "Midnight Over Broadway", the next Rose the Bounty Hunter novel, will be posted next week, so keep an eye out for that and learn all about the baby there. Thank you for reading and reviewing! (and for not throwing things at me!) Love you all!