Chapter 1 : The Art of Good Hygiene
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AN I just want to thank everyone at the forums for their plethora of suggestions of things guys should and shouldn't do if they want to win over a girl. You guys were so helpful in writing this story! So, here's chapter one. General feedback/comments/concerns/suggestions/criticism is welcome!
edit//: thanks to everyone's helpful insight on the chapter, I went back and revised the action, characters, plot development - everything. Everything is still pretty much the same, just (hopefull) a bit clearer.
My family needs to stop multiplying. Seriously.
By now, with so many redheads (and blondes, in Louis, Dom, and Victoire's case,) running around all over the Burrow we could probably pass as a small country. Everyone had come to the Burrow for our annual last week of summer reunion (with a lot of insisting from Grandma Weasley) and by everyone, I meant all however many of us there were And no, I do not mean all of them at once. Don’t get me wrong, I love my ridiculously large family, but if one more person pops a baby out in the next century, we’re gonna have problems.
“Rose, I’m pregnant.”
I nearly choked on my perfectly good, homemade iced tea for two reasons. One, my dear cousin had peacocks growing out of her eyelids. Like, huge, furry things. Two, she'd somehow managed to accomplish the impossible. I set down my glass, drag her out of her chair, and away from the long table in the center of the yard, looking her in the eye which, mind you, was very, very hard to do with a straight face.
“Molls” - I take her hand very gingerly in both of mine - “you do realize that you have to actually shag someone to get pregnant, right?” I say this in all seriousness but she gets all offended.
“It can’t honestly be that hard to believe!” It doesn’t help that she blinks rapidly as she says this, making her feathery peacocks flutter distractingly. I can't take her seriously with those things on. I try squinting a bit, deciding that maybe that would help. It didn't, but at least it kept the glaring sunlight out of my eyes.
“Then whose is it?”
Her reply came too quickly. “You don’t know him.”
“Aha! That’s because you’re lying to me.” I pointed an accusing finger at her as my five year old cousin Freddie ran through the space between us (which was only about a foot in width, but he had found a way), trying desperately to catch a gnome that had escaped from the garden. “You know we don’t need anymore children in this family! We're already on the verge of small country status as it is!” I only realized I had said too much a moment too late.
Molly fails miserably at suppressing her laughter. I roll my eyes, my cheeks burning. “What?”
“That’s not…” - I close my eyes and exhale, composing myself - “that’s not what’s important right now.” I sigh. “I am beginning to think there‘s some sort of curse on all the women in this family.” I look down at myself, praying to God, Merlin, and every higher deity there is that I’m not next.
Two broomsticks zip over our heads, nearly decapitating us where we stood. Each was ridden by a shirtless, dirt-ridden boy - one my skinny brother Hugo, and the other his best friend, Scorpius Malfoy. Molly’s legs all but went to jelly in his presence. For Merlin’s sake, the bloke was at least two years younger than her!
She's nearly eighteen, and Scorp is fifteen. That's illegal somewhere, isn't it?
Not that he'd ever go for her or anything.
At least, I didn't think he would.
And, quelle surprise, she sees my expression and says quickly, “I read in Witch Weekly that women who go for the younger men are called cougars.”
My cheeks burned.
I might have slapped her, if she had not been branded fragile cargo about ten minutes ago and someone had not wrapped his arms around my waist and picked me up about thirty feet off the ground. Okay, so that was obviously an exaggeration, but it seemed that far up. I managed to quite literally squeal - yes, I admit like a pig - “Scorpiuuuuus!”
Speaking of pigs, Scorpius was really sweaty and filthy and gross like one, but his arms felt kind of nice. I wondered how much he’d had to practice for Quidditch to get them that way…
He put me back on my feet, (thankfully,) shaking me from my disturbing reverie before it got any further. I spun on my heel to face him, brushing my hair out of my face in irritation. “Must you do that every time you see me?” I complain. Molly stands behind us, looking totally jealous.
Molly's face scrunches up and she pinches her nose dramatically. She takes a step away from the boys. That includes me as well, given that I'd just been hugged by one of them. "Must the two of you smell so horrid?" She counters, grimacing.
Scorpius and Hugo exhanged a look, sniffing the air.
"What do you expect? We've just come from a very physically demanding one-on-one match of Quidditch, which I won by a landslide." Hugo grins, triggering a heated back and forth argument between him and Scorp about the specifics of it. I shake my head, turning away from them.
Grandma Weasley emerges from the kitchen with a large pot levitating its way to the table a few feet before her, urging people to move out of the way unless they wanted to be on the recieving end of a soup-shower. At the promise of food, Molly scurries away, leaving me on my own in the vast backyard.
Freddie was now hanging from a branch upside down in a tree, swinging back and forth as his mum frantically tried to talk him out of it. He just laughed and swung out of her reach, quickly making her frustrated. Aunt Angie stomped her foot and put her hands on her hips, finding her husband conversing with Grandpa Weasley by the shed across the yard.
"George! Your son's at it again!" She called, trying not to sound desperate. Aunt Angie never liked to openly show weakness. Soon, Uncle George was loping over to her rescue.
Dom and Lily were seated over at the table, gushing over the latest edition of Witch Weekly and whatever male celebrity that had adorned the cover this month. Louis was feeding some gnomes Bertie Bott's Every-Flavour Beans in the garden. Near the edge of the garden Teddy and Victoire were watching the sun set. They'd always been so perfect for eachother, from the day that they fell in love to the day they said I do (I'm not usually one to brag, but I was a bridesmaid at their wedding). And then there was Lysander who, though he wasn't actually a part of the family, ambled past me with a very long face.
"Hey Rose," He says without stopping, raising a hand in a feeble attempt at a wave. I hurry after him.
"Hey, Ly, wait a second." I insist, going to stand infront of him and blocking his intended path of travel. "You look sadder than two sad clowns in Sad City. What's up?"
He looked up at me slowly, his face blank and his amber eyes slightly duller than usual. He didn't look like he wanted to be here at all. "I have been having a bit of... girl trouble lately." His eyes rose gradually, focusing on something over my shoulder. I turn to see what he's looking at. Dom and Lily are giggling over something they'd just read in their magazine. Dominique took a sip from her glass of tea, her eyes focusing on Lysander for a split second before returning to her cousin.
When I looked back at Lysander, his ears were red.
"Dom? Since when do you like her?" I demand, trying to tone down my level of surprise when he shoots me a look. I'm not the biggest fan of his cousin of choice, but if he likes her, there's not much I can do for him.
Except maybe pray.
"I need your help."
I blink, not quite comprehending. "What?"
Lysander looks me right in the eyes, letting me know he means 100 percent serious-business. "I want you to help me win her over,"
"Well," I pause, glancing at where Scorpius and Hugo stood a few feet away. "Tip number one is: never, ever smell like that lot" - I gesture to them with my thumb - "if you want to keep any girl around for more than a few seconds. Good hygiene is absolutely essential."
"Aguamenti!" Someone shouted from behind us, and I spin around, watching as Scorpius and Hugo chase eachother around the yard with their wands held aloft, attempting to spray eachother with their streams of water.
"Really?" Lysander asks, coming to stand next to me as we watched the chaos develop. Scorpius had somehow managed to drench Victoire with his wand, who responded with a loud, unpleasant-sounding screech. Teddy was now chasing the lanky blonde and his redhaired accomplice around the lawn, slipping precariously in the mud all the while. Eventually, Teddy lost his footing and fell, thick mud splashing up around him and onto anybody in the immediate vicinity. Dom screamed in horror as the slimy substance ran down her face and back.
She jumped out of her seat, ignoring Uncle Bill's offers to help her clean it off. "Dom, wait let me -" Uncle Bill tried to call after her, but she was already storming across the yard, passing where Lysander and I stood near the backdoor. I promptly shoved him after her.
"Go offer to help her and comfort her!" I hiss in his ear quickly. "Girls love it when guys pay extra attention to 'em, but if she starts yelling and threatening you with her wand, you might want to abort the mission."
"That doesn't seem like a very good idea -"
I roll my eyes and laugh, "Just go already."
Once he was gone, I looked back up at the craziness my brother and his best mate had caused, just in time to see them get apprehended by my parents. Mum lowered her shield and snatched their wands out of their hands, looking quite irritated. She pointed toward the house, one hand on her forehead in exasperation. "Go and take a proper shower before I make you do something you'll regret!"
Their laughter ceased immediately.
"Alright, mum." They told her, before hurrying away, their heads hanging in shame.
I folded my arms across my chest, smirking at both of them as they approach the house, passing me on their way inside. Hugo stuck his tongue out at me, in that way only thirteen year olds like him did. Scorpius, however, decided that it'd be a marvelous idea to shake his sopping wet hair, getting me wet as well.
"Bloody tosser!" I shout after him.
He looked at me over his shoulder once he got to the top of the stairs. "Didn't know you had such a dirty mouth, Weasley. Remind me to wash it out when I get back," Scorpius smirks, and then he winks, before disappearing inside.
I fold my arms and pout, trying to figure out what he meant by that.