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A Weirder Shade of Midnight by momotwins
Chapter 8 : Royal Hippogriff
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 11


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Victoire popped open the tin of cashews and offered it to me. “Hungry?”

“You're eating cashews? No éclairs?” I peered into her handbag.

Victoire was my favourite person on surveillance, because she always brought pastries, and she was fantastically good at the Disillusionment Charm. You were practically invisible when Victoire Disillusioned you. A few weeks ago, I saw her cast the charm on her new puppy so her kids would let the poor creature have a break for a little while. I hadn't even been sure where the puppy was until it barked.

Today she was letting me down, though. Cashews? That was practically healthy. Proper surveillance food included only things coated in chocolate, in my opinion.

“I've been in the mood for cashews all week. Can't get enough of them. I have pastries in there somewhere though,” Victoire said, taking her bag from me and rummaging around inside it. “Aha!” She pulled out a white paper bag with the logo of her favourite patisserie printed on it.

I took them gratefully and pulled out a crème puff. It just wasn't surveillance without food you oughtn't be eating.

We were sitting outside Archie Cullip's row house, on the pavement across the street. We had a pretty good view through the front window, and we'd be able to see if anyone came in or out. No sign of Cullip yet. I wasn't entirely sure what I was looking for, to be honest, but at least I felt productive. I was doing something, even if it was only eating pastries with my cousin.

We had taken the usual precautions for staying hidden: Disillusionment Charms and Muffliato so no one could hear us chatting. Victoire had cast a Cushioning Charm on the pavement, so my feet weren't even falling asleep. I was actually quite comfortable. I really loved doing surveillance with Victoire, it was so much better than going alone.

“Are you coming to Dominique's party this weekend?” Victoire asked, popping a cashew into her mouth.

“I don't know. It depends on if Lenny's still at my house or not, I guess. Do you know why she's doing this?”

My cousin Dominique, Victoire's younger sister, had sent out word to all the cousins that she was having a dinner party this Saturday evening and particularly wanted all of us to be there. I'd agreed, because there seemed to be no other choice, even though Dominique and I didn't socialize much. If she'd ever had a dinner party before, I certainly hadn't been invited. I didn't know what she wanted with me this time.

Victoire shrugged. “She didn't say. My guess is she's pregnant again and wants to make a big announcement to tell everyone.”

I had to suppress a groan. Dominique had spent her first pregnancy completely miserable, and had taken it out on everyone else. I really hoped she wasn't pregnant again. If she was, I was avoiding her until Christmas.

“I'm going to bring a bottle of wine,” said Victoire. “What are you bringing her as a hostess gift?”

Oh, man. I didn't have any money for hostess gifts. “Do I have to bring something? She's my cousin.”

Victoire gave me a look. “She's my sister, and I'm bringing a gift. Besides, you know Dommie. She's Little Miss Proper about manners. If you don't bring her one, she'll tell our mum about it, and Mum will mention it to Aunt Hermione.”

Crap. She was right. Dominique would blow it out of proportion, and next thing you knew, my mother would be saying, Your aunt Flooed me... “Um, I'm broke.”

“I figured. I'll cover you. I can pick up a second bottle, it'll be from you.” Victoire elbowed me in the ribs. “With all those cousins there, we're going to need plenty to drink, am I right?”

This was very true. No one can drive you to drink quite like family. “Thanks, Victoire. I'll pay you back later.”

She grinned. “I'll add it to your tab.”

I elbowed her back, and we ate in silence for a while, watching Cullip's house. Nothing happened. Nobody came by to see him, and he didn't go out. It was very boring. I could see a telly on through the window; Cullip must have been watching it. I wished I could see it better, so I could watch it too.

“So what did Uncle Ron tell you about Gormly's murder?” Victoire asked eventually, brushing some cashew salt off her fingertips.

“Nothing. He said he would look into it for me, though.”

Victoire made a face. She looked strikingly like her son Remus when she did that. Sorry, I meant Gerald. “Nothing at all? Uncle Ron usually does better than that for you.”

“Actually, we had a really great chat about the case. I didn't tell him Lenny was with me, though.”

“Smart move,” she agreed.

“He thought the whole thing sounded fishy. They shouldn't have offered Lenny a manslaughter plea, you know,” I told her. “Anyone who uses an Unforgivable Curse is supposed to be put in Azkaban for life.”

“That's weird. Why would they let him off with a lesser charge?”

“That's what Dad's going to find out,” I told her. “He did suggest that maybe the blonde woman was another bounty hunter.”

“Who, that Ambrosia person you told me about?” Victoire asked, looking rather startled. “I thought you said she went to Hogwarts with you.”

“No, not her. The woman looking for Gormly at the Grinning Troll, I mean. Skone said she was blonde, blue eyes, kind of pretty.”

“Do you know a bounty hunter who looks like that?”

I shook my head. “Nope. There's only one other female bounty hunter that I know of. She works for Highland Magical Bonds, but she's Senegalese. Could be a new freelancer, though. We get them occasionally.”

“Maybe the blonde from the bar and Ambrosia are the same person,” Victoire suggested. “The description Skone gave you fits Ambrosia, doesn't it? Maybe Ambrosia is the blonde who questioned him.”

I stared blindly at Cullip's open window, feeling as if a light were dawning, and not in a pleasant way. It couldn't be the same woman. The wandmaker had been a little off, almost like he'd been Confunded, but wandmakers were naturally a little off, so it was hard to tell. Maybe he was just like that. Or maybe she'd modified his memory. And then no one knew who she was, even though she said she'd gone to Hogwarts with me. And she did fit Skone's description, Victoire was right. Not that it had been a terribly detailed description. A lot of people fit it.

Were we following a false trail with Cullip? I didn't like the thought that I'd just wasted four hours here, although the crème puffs had been delicious. I had to admit, it had been a tenuous sort of lead, but it had seemed the next best thing to do. Besides, a lead being crappy had never stopped me from following it before.

What if Cullip was the killer? He could have murdered Gormly, or Gormly and Annable. But then, what if Cullip wasn't involved at all? What if it had all been Ambrosia Heggs? What if Ambrosia had killed Gormly and Annable?

It was a lot of what-ifs. I was quite accustomed to leaping merrily to conclusions, but this was a lot of what-ifs even for me.

“Crap,” I said aloud. I didn't know what to do.

“Sounds like this Ambrosia person is a better lead,” Victoire said, picking at the chocolate coating on one of the crème puffs. “If she is the blonde who was asking questions at the Grinning Troll and then you saw her at the wand shop, then she's a step ahead of you. And the man you were both looking for turned up dead. I think you should find out what she's doing now, and what she plans to do next.”

I was starting to feel a little sick. If I had gotten to Gormly first, would he still have been murdered? If I hadn't gone to pick up Parmenter... If Parmenter had come along quietly for once... If Lydia had gotten that address for me a little more quickly... Could I have stopped Gormly's murder? Or would I have been dead by shovel too? If Gormly hadn't been killed by another drug dealer, why had he been killed?

“This is speculation, though,” I said uneasily. “We don't know it's the same woman.”

“I reckon we ought to stake her out,” said Victoire.

“I'll have Lydia look into her, get a background and an address. Then I can figure out what to do next.”

“Okay, but if you do stake her out, I'm coming along.”

“It's a deal,” I said. We linked pinkies and shook on it.

*

Scorpius went out first thing the next morning to his agent, while Lenny and I were both still asleep. I woke up late morning (okay, it was noon), and found Lenny cooking omelettes. Wow, having Lenny around was kind of nice. Normally if Scorpius wasn't home to feed me, the most complicated thing I could manage was oatmeal. The instant kind, that is. I could pour hot water like nobody's business.

Lenny and I ate omelettes and drank breakfast tea, and he told me about a song he was writing about his arrest and false accusations of murder. It was going to be punk-metal. I couldn't wait to hear it, I had to admit. It sounded hilariously bad.

Scorpius arrived home in a bubbly sort of mood. I could hear him singing from down the hall. He swept inside, obviously very pleased with himself, and Lenny handed him an omelette.

“Mr. Barnes says my paintings are really brilliant,” he said excitedly, forking up some of the eggs. “Hey, this is really good, Lenny.”

“Thanks, man. I like your paintings, too,” Lenny said.

“That's great, babe.” I was glad things were going so well for him. It was about time. He was really a brilliant artist, and I thought it was about time someone recognized this about him. Not to mention the getting paid aspect of being a real artist, that was definitely a plus.

“Mr. Barnes says they just need a professional appraisal before he can start looking for a gallery for them,” Scorpius went on.

I wasn't sure what to make of that. “I thought he was appraising them? Isn't that what he does?”

“No, he takes them to the gallery and talks people into buying them. But they need an appraisal first, he says.”

A warning bell was going off in my head. “How much is that going to cost?” I asked suspiciously.

“Three hundred pounds. Um, about fifty-five Galleons, I think?” Scorpius didn't look concerned, but I wasn't pleased.

I tried to hide it, because again, I wasn't going to be the one to crush his dreams, but holy Kneazles, another bloody fee? All I had was the bounty on Parmenter, and it wasn't even half the amount needed. Was this really how artists got started? It seemed like a lot of initial outlay. I thought the painting was supposed to be the finished product, and once you had that, it was just a matter of a buyer. Now there were fees and appraisals... Well, it was his dream, I thought determinedly. We would just have to find the money somehow.

“How are we supposed to come up with the money for this?” I asked Scorpius in a low voice as Lenny took his empty plate to the sink. “We're already almost broke, and rent is going to be due in two weeks. You know how Mrs. Kochel feels about us being late with the rent.”

“I have to pay the fees to get started, Rose,” Scorpius said sharply. “Once the paintings get in a gallery, Mr. Barnes says he can sell them each for thousands of pounds. We'll be set. And we can pay rent with Lenny's gold. You'll find something to clear him by then.”

His confidence in me was nice, but I wasn't feeling so confident. I wasn't any closer to getting evidence to clear Lenny. We had to eat, and feed Lenny, and pay rent. And now we had to give everything we had left, plus more, to this agent? Again?

“Maybe I can borrow it from Hugo,” I suggested, though I didn't want to. I already owed Victoire for the hostess gift for Dominique. Now I was going to owe my brother as well, and a whole lot more than a bottle of wine.

Scorpius hates borrowing money from anyone. I thought it spoke pretty clearly about how badly he wanted this agent thing to work out that he was willing to agree to borrow money so easily. He nodded, his face a little pinched. “I don't think we have much choice.”

“When do you need the money by?” I asked quickly. Lenny was coming back.

“As soon as possible,” Scorpius admitted.

Crap. “I guess I'll go over to Hugo's, then.” I finished my omelette first, though. I wasn't going to go pan-handling from my brother for money on an empty stomach.

*

My younger brother lived in a small but rather nice flat right near St. Mungo's, where he worked as a trainee Healer. He was far more responsible than I was, paid his rent on time every month, often because he had a roommate, and never had to steal food from our parents or borrow money off anyone. He and I were still pretty close, though, even though he was now the Good Child and I was the one my mother said gave her heart palpitations when she thought about my job. Probably because he was my only sibling. We had a long history of him trying to decapitate my dolls while I told our parents he was the one who carved 'Rose' into the dining room table. That really brings you close.

Hugo answered the door still wearing his lime-green uniform robes. They looked absolutely horrific with his ginger curls.

“Hi Hugo,” I said cheerfully as I stepped inside, giving him a quick hug as I passed. That was probably going to tip him off that I wanted something, since I was generally only affectionate with him like that when I was about to borrow money or tell him I'd been evicted and needed to stay at his place. That only happened once, though, honestly. “Do you have-” I stopped short. There was a girl on Hugo's couch.

She was also wearing lime-green robes, and appeared to be about Hugo's age. She was pretty, with curly brown hair and dark eyes. She had on far too much eye makeup for someone who had obviously just come from work.

She looked up at me with an expression like she'd just stepped on a dungbomb. “Hugo?” she said.

“Um, Chastity, this is Rose,” Hugo said, waving at me. “She's my sister.”

I had to cover my mouth for a second. Chastity? Oh, Hugo.

Chastity's face lost most of the curdled-milk expression, and she repeated, “Your sister?”

“Yeah, I'm his sister,” I said. I didn't like her. I tried not to let it worry me, though, because knowing Hugo, she'd be gone in a fortnight.

“Did you need something, Rose?” Hugo asked, clearly eager to shuffle me out of his flat so he could be alone with his new little girlfriend.

“Yeah. Come in here.” I grabbed his sleeve and towed him into the kitchen, where hopefully we wouldn't be overheard.

“What do you want?” he demanded in a whisper once we were alone, shaking my hand off. “Can't you see I'm busy? Bugger off.”

“I need to borrow forty Galleons,” I said.

He frowned at me. “Forty Galleons? Come on, Rose.”

“Scorpius needs it. He's got this agent, and maybe they can sell his paintings in a gallery, or something like that. We'll pay you back,” I added, although I almost never paid Hugo back when I borrowed money off him.

“All right, fine. Just a minute. Try to be nice to Chastity, okay?”

I stuck my tongue out at him, and he went off to his room. I returned to the living room and sat on the armchair across from his girlfriend.

“So, how long have you and Hugo been going out?” I asked, trying to be nice to her.

“This is our second date,” she said.

Second date and she was already at his place? She definitely would not be getting an introduction to Mum and Dad. “That's nice,” I said.

“He's a really great guy,” Chastity told me.

“Sure.” If she said so. Oh, all right, Hugo was a great guy. He was loaning me forty Galleons, wasn't he? And he almost never told Mum and Dad what I was up to these days.

“I really like him,” she confessed.

I restrained myself from rolling my eyes. “Okay.”

Clearly she needed validation, because she was still talking. “I think he likes me too. Do you think he likes me too?”

“I have no idea,” I told her, maybe a little too honestly.

Hugo came back in and handed me a small bag. “Here, Rose. Bye, Rose.”

“Okay, I'm leaving. It was, um, nice to meet you, Chastity,” I added, waving to her.

“You too,” she said, waving back.

“Oh, hey, Hugo,” I said, stopping in the middle of the doorway. I'd almost forgotten, I'd been meaning to ask him about Ambrosia. If she was just his ex-girlfriend, I'd know she wasn't a murderer. Well, probably. “Did you ever go out with someone named Ambrosia Heggs?”

“What? No, I didn't,” he said, with a glance over his shoulder at Chastity. The stepped-on-a-dungbomb expression had returned to her face. Whoops. Guess I shouldn't have asked that in front of her.

“Bye,” I said to my brother. He gave me a little shove out the door. Nice. But he had given me the money, so I went home in triumph to give it to Scorpius.

When I got home, Scorpius was reading a letter while an owl waited at the open window. He looked up when he heard me come in.

“Oh, just in time.” He handed me the letter. “She wants an answer by return owl.”

I scanned the letter, noting the signature at the bottom first. My cousin Molly. No wonder she wanted an immediate RSVP. Molly was extremely organized. She was inviting us to a victory party. Apparently her team had won the league this year, and she'd actually gotten to play in the last game. Molly was the reserve Keeper for the Holyhead Harpies.

“Do you want to go?” I asked Scorpius, glancing significantly at Lenny.

“Actually, I'd rather finish this painting,” he said, nodding at the half-completed portrait of Lenny and his guitar. “You go ahead. But I do need to run over and pay the appraisal fee before you go.”

I dashed off a note to my cousin confirming that I would be there but Scorpius would not, and he dashed off to hand over my hard-earned (well, hard-borrowed) money to the agent. I went and changed clothes and put on some makeup while he was gone. Might as well look nice at Molly's. It was bound to be huge. Molly rarely threw parties, probably because she was so compulsive about keeping her flat clean, but I had a feeling she'd invited literally everyone she knew to this one.

I was ready for the party by the time Scorpius came back an hour later, and I gave him a quick kiss before heading out to the hall to Disapparate.

Molly lived in a little town in Wales, in a building with very modern architecture and beautiful but minimalist gardens outside. She loved it. It was a little too stark for me. I preferred my gardens overflowing and chaotic, in classic English cottage style. Molly was very minimalist and modern herself, though, so it suited her.

As I'd expected, the place was packed. I could see my cousin Fred standing over in a corner with my cousin James, and dodged behind a large man in purple robes so they didn't see me. Fred liked to think he was my sidekick or bounty hunter apprentice or something because I'd taken him along on a job or two. Really his only useful skill was the ability to pick almost any lock, Muggle or magical. I was rubbish at both. If I hung out with him tonight, he'd want to tag along on my next job. I'd much rather take Victoire. James I was avoiding because he was trouble. I hoped Molly remembered to keep an eye on him; the last time he'd come to a party at my flat, he'd thrown a lamp out the window without opening it first and put a large hole in the wall trying to hex an apple off Fred's head.

I made my way over to Molly, since it was probably proper to say hello to the hostess first, and she was standing in front of the booze.

“Hi Rose!” she said, hugging me. “Scorpius couldn't make it tonight?”

“He was feeling the muse, so he stayed home to paint,” I said, grinning at her. Molly's hair was done in the green and gold of her team, as usual, and pushed up into a six-inch mohawk. She pulled it off brilliantly, probably because her normal style of dress included a great deal of black leather and cleavage.

“Well, have fun. And if you have a drink, make sure you go home by Floo or have a Designated Apparator,” she added sternly. I rolled my eyes. Molly was, I admit, a very cool person, but she had been Head Girl in her day, and sometimes she still acted as if she were in charge of the lot of us.

After I'd gotten a drink of firewhiskey and soda, I went over to the sofa, where I could see my cousin Roxanne, Fred's older sister, sitting with a butterbeer and looking a little morose.

“Hi Roxy,” I said, sitting down next to her. I hadn't seen Roxanne for a while. We didn't hang out much, really. She was always with Molly; they were best friends, I suppose. They certainly spent their every waking moment together, it seemed, talking Quidditch. Roxanne didn't play herself, but she loved the sport, and wanted to be a Quidditch correspondent on the Wizarding Wireless Network, the way my aunt Ginny was for the newspaper. That was something else Roxanne and Molly had in common: they both adored Aunt Ginny.

Don't get me wrong, I like Aunt Ginny too. I just don't spend all my free time admiring her and her career. Molly wanted to be Aunt Ginny twenty-five years ago, when she had played for the Harpies (and not as a reserve player). Roxanne wanted to be Aunt Ginny now, lead Quidditch correspondent for the Daily Prophet.

Both of them were mental. But Roxanne was particularly mental, because she also had a long-standing crush on a professional Quidditch player she'd never actually met, Hilarion Winston-Fisher. He was very good-looking, in a vacant sort of way, and I was pretty sure if Roxanne ever actually met him, she'd probably faint. Or fake it, right into his arms.

“The Arrows lost their last two games,” Roxanne said. “Hilarion was in the papers talking about how sad he was over it, the poor dear.”

“Shouldn't you be happy for Molly?” I asked delicately.

“I am.” Roxanne shot a furtive glance over at our cousin. “I'm just also sad for Hilarion.”

“You don't even know him,” I pointed out.

“He's a lovely person,” she said.

Like I said, she'd never actually met him. “Molly said he was a twit with a monosyllabic vocabulary.”

Roxanne shook her finger at me. “When I marry Hilarion, you'll be sorry you said that.”

“You've never even met him,” I exclaimed. Why is everyone I'm related to completely mental?

“I will next week,” Roxanne said triumphantly. “He's coming to Flourish and Blotts to sign copies of his book, and I'm going to meet him when he autographs my book, and then he's going to fall in love with me.”

I gave her a wary look. Somehow I didn't think this was likely, but Roxanne had been delusional about Hilarion Winston-Fisher for a long time now. “He wrote a book?”

“Yes. Well, sort of. It's a photography book. Pictures of him. Shut up, Rose,” she added. I reckoned I hadn't chortled quietly enough.

“You're not worried that it will take him longer than the space of an autograph to fall in love with you?” I asked, hoping to divert her attention before she kicked me. Roxanne often tried to kick people she was annoyed with.

Roxanne frowned. “What are you trying to say? I'm not lovable?”

Well, she was totally mental... “No, not that,” I assured her. “I just think, since this may be your only shot at meeting him, you might want to give yourself more time with him.”

“Hmm.”

“I mean, your entire future happiness could be resting on this moment.” I was on a roll. I couldn't stop talking. “You want to give it every chance you've got, don't you?”

“Yeah,” Roxanne agreed loudly. “You're right, Rose!”

“I'm just saying. Hey, doesn't Lucy work at Flourish and Blotts?” Yeah, I was throwing our cousin Lucy to the wolves here, and she would probably kill me, but I really did not want to hear Roxanne moaning about how Hilarion Winston-Fisher would have fallen in love with her, if only she'd had more time. At least this way if he turned her down, she might finally get over him. It was really annoying, and probably unhealthy. She was too old to fixate on a celebrity this way. I used to think she was only joking, but the possibility of meeting him seemed to have made her snap. Or maybe she'd been serious all along. My family is so weird.

“Yeah, she does,” Roxanne said, then a moment later she stood up. “I've got to go.”

I watched her leave, and hoped she didn't tell Lucy this was all my idea. Lucy was Molly's younger sister, so she was probably well aware of Roxanne's crazy about Hilarion. Oh well. I was sure I would hear about it if Lucy was annoyed with me, probably through the parental grapevine. Yet another opportunity for my mum to begin the ominous statement, 'Your aunt just Flooed me...'

My cousin Fred plopped down on the couch next to me on one side, and James on the other. Great. I drank my whiskey and soda quickly, before James could tamper with it like he'd done the last time I went drinking with him. He'd thought it was hilarious until I'd thrown up on his shoes. Changing the proof of alcohol was very difficult magic. I'd never actually heard of anyone but James who could do it. He was quite good at magic, actually, it was just a shame he didn't use his powers for good. The world was all a big joke to James, which was fun sometimes and annoying at others.

“Hi Rose,” James said cheerfully. “Were you trying to avoid us? I saw you come in, but you didn't say hi. Not very friendly of you. Want another drink?”

“No,” I said, covering my empty glass with one hand. “Hi James. Hi Fred.”

“Hi Rose,” Fred said. “Have you got any skips? Do you need help picking anyone up?”

“Nope, no skips,” I told him. All right, maybe I don't mind lying so much, if the occasion called for it. Fred was like a puppy, though, all wide eager eyes and bouncy enthusiasm. It was very annoying at times.

“Really?” James said innocently. “Because I heard you were supposed to be arresting Lenny Graves.”

“I don't arrest anyone,” I said, but neither of them listened.

“Why would you pick up Lenny Graves?” Fred asked. “Lenny is awesome. Do you need help? I can help you.”

Oh, holy Kneazles. “Go away, James,” I said, annoyed with him now for putting Fred on my case.

“Lenny is awesome,” James agreed with Fred, ignoring me completely. “So what did he do, Rose? Louis didn't know.”

“He killed someone,” I told them.

Fred and James both reared back in unison.

“What, Lenny?” Fred said, echoing what seemed to be the universal reaction to the charges against Lenny. “Lenny wouldn't kill anyone.”

“No way,” agreed James.

“It's not up to me. There's a warrant out for him, and he broke his bond agreement by missing his court date.” I was so not going to tell Fred or James that Lenny was staying with me. No one in my family could keep a secret except Victoire. And maybe Lucy, but I didn't really talk to Lucy much.

“Wow. Poor Lenny.” James shook his head. “I can't picture Lenny killing anybody. Who did he kill?”

“None of your business,” I said.

“You're no fun, Rose. You used to be fun.” James sighed dramatically, putting his hand to his chest.

“Yeah, Rose,” put in Fred. “You suck royal hippogriff.” The two of them exchanged a complicated hand slap in front of me and then left.

They both sucked royal hippogriff.

I left the couch. It was obviously bad luck. I threaded through the crowd, looking for familiar faces. I waved at my cousin Lily, who was standing near a man I recognized as a Chaser for the Wigtown Wanderers. She was looking very cute and flirty, as only Lily could, in a short skirt and cat's eye glasses. She gave me a finger waggle back, but went right back to giggling at her companion, so I left her alone. Clearly she was busy.

I hit the bathroom, and while washing my hands I did my usual nosy-cousin peek around and realized that Molly had colour-coded her bathroom.

I opened the medicine cabinet. More colour-coding. Under the sink. More colour-coding. Blue for hair potions, red for face and skin potions, green for makeup. Even her eyeshadow palettes were arranged in alphabetical order by name.

I got out of there as quickly as I could, but stopped before returning to the party. I had to see how far this went.

I ducked into Molly's bedroom and opened the wardrobe. It had always been frighteningly neat, but now she had colour-coded it as well. Shirts on green hangars, spaced evenly apart, trousers on pink, and so forth. Wow. How was she related to me? How did she have boyfriends? Oh right, low-cut leather vests.

Still, it was quite freakish. I backed slowly away from the wardrobe and left the room quietly.

I bumped into Victoire in the hall, just coming out of the bathroom.

“Oh hi, Rose,” she said. “I'm glad you're here. It's a madhouse.”

“I need another drink,” I agreed.

She linked her arm through mine. “I'll be your Designated Apparator for the night, then.”

“Okay,” I said. This was fine by me. I always hated having to be the designated sober person for the night. I'd rather do my drinking, thank you. Fortunately Scorpius was always willing to stay sober and carry me home if necessary. “I'll drink your half, too.”

“Thanks, Rose, you're a peach.”

“Where's Teddy?” I asked as we got to the bar.

“Home with the kids. He's still sick,” Victoire added with relish. “I can be out all night. The baby's night-weaned, you know.”

No, I didn't, and I would have preferred not to, either. Why did motherhood make women think they should overshare every detail of their children's lives? Ugh. “Shouldn't you be worried about Teddy?”

She gave me a look. “No.”

Okay then. I went back to drinking. Victoire had to levitate me home.




A/N: "That sucks royal hippogriff" = AVPM. Oh, Goyle rules!


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