Thanks to illumination. @ TDA for the beautiful CI!
Rose stuck to Albus like a bur on the way down to breakfast the next morning, and when the two sat down with James and Roxanne, Rose made very sure that her back was to the wall.
Albus was clearly amused by her nervousness. “Maybe it would be good for you to get a taste of your own medicine.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said, reaching for one of the platters loaded with what looked like pancakes with some kind of berry in them. “Do you know what he’s talking about?” she asked her cousins.
“Nope,” answered James.
“Haven’t the foggiest,” said Roxanne.
“Whatever,” Albus said, serving himself some sausages. “As I said to Rose last night, I’m not going to challenge anyone’s plausible deniability.”
He said the phrase with what Rose felt was entirely too much distaste. There was nothing wrong with plausible deniability. “I’ve decided to take the approach of just sitting back and laughing while you two jinx each other into oblivion, as long as it’s not in my presence. It’s easier than wishing you would get along.”
Rose shook her head. “I still don’t see what Malfoy’s on about, I was with you all morning yesterday.”
“Yes, well, unfortunately, he’s under the impression that you have cousins who would be happy to stand in for you while you’re off having an alibi,” Albus said dryly.
Roxanne and James looked at each other.
“Do you think he’s talking about us?” she asked.
“Couldn’t be,” James said. “We never break the rules.”
Roxanne’s expression looked at though she intended it to be innocent but couldn’t quite bring herself to fake it. “And besides, we were booking the pitch yesterday morning.”
“And both of you were needed?” Albus asked.
James shrugged. “I wanted a second opinion. I can’t make that sort of life-or-death decision on my own.”
James’s face took on an expression of deepest hurt. “Is my little brother accusing me of being a liar?” he asked.
“Yes. Yes he is.” Albus speared a piece of sausage and popped it in his mouth.
“Tsk, tsk,” Roxanne said, looking very disappointed. “Family should stick together, Albie.”
He swallowed and was opening his mouth to respond when the morning post began to flood in. They all looked up. Rose saw Hazel gliding toward them. She was carrying a package with two other owls. They swooped low and dropped it in front of Rose. The other owls made their exits, and Hazel landed in front of Al, who gave her an owl treat.
from my brother?” Roxanne asked, looking surprised.
“Apparently.” Rose took the envelope attached to the package and opened it.
Hope your first week back went well. Good to hear that you’ve already gotten into some sort of trouble. I was afraid your prefect badge would stop you from having any fun. I’ll want to hear more about it your first Hogsmeade weekend. (Or before.)
Dad’s actually developed a new line of shield charms that will be hitting the shelves in October. There have been a lot of requests for something unobtrusive. I included one for each of you.
I also tossed in a few things in the package that should make your week a little brighter. Share them around with Rox and James and the rest. Make sure to give Al some of the snackboxes.
All my best,
P.S. The practice is good for you. Tell James I approve.
She smirked, pocketed the note, and began to open the package.
James leaned over and called down the table, “Lily! Hugo! Get down here!” They obeyed with alacrity, and some second years scooted down to make room for them. “Someone go get Louis and Lucy, too,” he said, looking as though his birthday had come early. Rose supposed that given the sort of things Fred was likely to send them, it practically had.
“No need,” said a voice from behind him. Rose looked up and saw the two seventh-years approaching them. “We were curious,” Louis explained as he took a seat between James and Hugo. “What’s the package? Who’s it from?”
“Fred,” Rose told him.
Lucy took advantage of the empty space next to Roxanne and slid onto the bench. “Oh, dear. This is going to interfere with my prefect sensibilities horribly, isn’t it?” she asked cheerfully.
“Probably.” Rose pulled a jewelry box out of the package and opened it to find a pendant cradling a bright red stone. Roxanne and Lily found similar necklaces in the boxes labeled with their names, and Lucy had received a bracelet with yellow stones that she immediately fastened around her wrist.
“That’s clever,” she commented. “House colors.” She examined the bracelet. “While I appreciate it, why is Fred sending us jewelry?”
“It’s a new product from the shop,” Rose told her. “Shield charms.”
“Why don’t we get shield charms?” Hugo asked, looking extremely put out.
James had taken another box from the package and opened it. “Apparently we do,” he said, slipping a hemp bracelet over his wrist before handing Hugo, Albus, and Louis similar boxes. When he turned back to the box, a broad grin spread across his face, and he reached in and pulled out a box of fireworks. He tossed them to Roxanne, who looked as though there was nothing at that moment that she wanted more than to set them off.
Lucy eyed the brightly-colored box that Rose had just set down on the table warily. “Don’t let me catch any of you skipping classes.”
“Would you really put us in detention?” Hugo asked incredulously as Rose turned the box upside down and emptied the snackboxes onto the table.
“No,” she told him. “But I’d feel a little guilty for not doing it.” Lucy picked up a few of the brightly wrapped candies to examine them. “They’ve branched out since last time I was there,” she commented, looking impressed. Rose recognized the wrappers as being ‘convulsion cherries’ and ‘seizure syrups.’ She hesitated, and then asked tentatively, “Can I take a few?”
Hugo, Albus, and James all stopped picking out their favorites and gaped at her. Roxanne and Lily looked equally surprised, and Rose was sure a similar expression was on her face.
“Go ahead,” Rose managed to reply after a few moments. Lucy picked out several Sneezing Strawberries and Raspberry Rashes and slipped them into her pocket. By the time Rose had recovered from the surprise enough to turn back to the pile, the only things left were Vertigo Vanillas, Cocoa Chills, and Tearing Truffles. “Come on, really?” she said, feeling thoroughly irritated. “I’m the reason he sent all of this in the first place!”
James groaned. “Fine,” he said, tossing her a few. After a moment, Lily and Hugo offered up a couple Bruising Blueberries, and Albus gave her a Nosebleed Nougat.
There was another box full of trick sweets, which Rose had no interest in. As James, Roxanne, Hugo, and Lily began to divvy them up, she began to examine one of the love potions.
A hand snaked out and grabbed one of the bottles sitting in front of Rose. She looked up in annoyance. It was not until both Lucy and Rose threatened her with detention and James told her that he would write to their parents that Lily relinquished her prize. Rose personally doubted that he would have done anything of the sort, but Lily seemed to think that it wasn’t worth risking it.
“Why do you want love potions, anyway, Lily?” Lucy asked, once Lily had handed them over. “You’re a third-year.”
“I wanted to give them to people and watch them act ridiculous.”
“Just as well they stopped you,” Louis said offhandedly as he poured himself a glass of water.
“Why?” Lily demanded after it became clear that he wasn’t going to elaborate.
“The last people who did ended up with about ten detentions,” he told her.
Roxanne looked wistful. “James, we haven’t done anything that destructive in a long time.”
“And you won’t plan anything while I’m sitting right here,” Lucy told her. “What else is in the box, Rose?” When they’d finished unpacking it, there were a variety of Weasleys Wizarding Wheezes products on the table between them all. Fred had even thrown in some Honeydukes sweets.
“Here, Hugo,” Rose called to her brother. “Have a chocolate frog!”
He caught it. As her was opening it, Louis suddenly grabbed a napkin off the table and spat something into it. As he was lowering his goblet after taking a long drink of water, Rose noticed the open box of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans.
“What did you get?” she asked curiously.
He shook his head, his eyes watering. “I thought it was cranberry,” he rasped. “It was chili.”
“You should be eating bread,” Lucy told him sensibly. “Not drinking water.” She handed him a roll, and he took it.
Lily took advantage of the distraction to inch her hand toward a daydream charm. Roxanne smacked it away. “No,
James looked over, saw the charm in Roxanne’s hand, and looked at his sister. “No,
Lily. They’re for sixteen and up. You’re thirteen.” Lucy and Rose exchanged an amused look; it was very rare to see James and Roxanne defend any rule.
Rose tossed Lily a box of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans and said, “Hey, take a few canary creams and pelican peppermints. It’ll sting less when your friends keep turning into birds.”
“Hey, James, who did you get?” asked Hugo.
James passed him the card. “I got Kingsley Shacklebolt, but I’ve already got two of him, do you want it?”
Roxanne looked over at James, who had begun to pick up trick wands. “Oi! Let’s get going.”
He stuffed a few more things in his bag and they left. Lucy stared after them, frowning.
“Considering putting them in detention after all?” Louis asked her.
She started. “What? No, of course not. I was just wondering how he managed to fit everything in that one bag. It’s not very big, and he’s got to have books in it for today’s classes already.”
“You should see him packing up the car when we go on trips,” Albus said. “What’s that muggle game? Tetrack?”
Rose and Hugo both snorted. “Tetris,” Hugo said. “James is good at car tetris.”
Lucy smiled. “Well, I’m jealous.”
Louis looked more skeptical, but didn’t say anything.
Rose opened her bag. “Al, did you want any daydream charms? This one looks like it’s more you than me.”
He took it. Lily opened her mouth, and he looked at her sharply. “Not one more word.” She sighed, and helped herself to several fizzing whizzbees and trick wands.
Rose put the remaining two daydream charms in her bag. “Let’s divvy up the rest of it, because we should be getting to class.” She grabbed a few more trick sweets before Lily could take the rest, and with difficulty managed to fit them and a handful of chocolate frogs into her bag, which was already bulging with extendable ears, decoy detonators, and a box of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans. Rose checked the box one more time. It was empty, and someone had even claimed the last of the snackboxes. There was nothing left on the table but discarded wrappers.
“We should go,” Louis said. “We have an essay for Arithmancy due tomorrow that neither of us has even started.” He and Lucy rose and made their way to the door. Rose and Albus followed them after waving goodbye to Hugo and Lily, who were talking animatedly about who they could trick into eating the sweets.
“We could use snackboxes to get out of it,” Albus suggested as they walked. “Binns is so boring.”
“I thought you were planning to skive off divination,” Rose said, frowning. “You really shouldn’t do both.”
He grimaced. “Fair point.”
“Cheer up,” she said, patting him on the shoulder as they turned down the corridor that led to their History of Magic classroom. “It’s forty minutes. Use the daydream charm or something.”
“Fair point,” he repeated, looking more cheerful. “Shield charm, huh?” Rose smirked, and to her surprise, he grinned back. “Nice one.”
“I thought so.” Rose pulled a chocolate frog out of her bag and bit off its head. “Hey,” she said, once she’d swallowed. “Look, Al, it’s your namesake.”
Al leaned over and laughed. “Cool. Keep him, though. Everyone always gives me Dumbledore and Snape when they get them.” He touched the necklace he’d fastened around his neck. “This doesn’t look girly, does it?”
“No, of course not,” Rose assured him as they entered the classroom. “It’s hemp. It’s hard to make hemp look girly.” Albus spotted Malfoy, who still sporting bright red hair, and headed over to join him. Rose followed him, feeling that nothing, not even Malfoy, could ruin her good mood. If she was going to try to be nice to him, it might as well be when she was so cheerful.
“Family reunion at breakfast today?” Malfoy called out to them.
Albus grinned. “Fred sent us a package. Good news about Divination.”
He looked confused. “What good news could there ever
be about Divination?”
Albus tossed him a snackbox. “We don’t have it today.”
Malfoy looked down at it, and then at Rose. “Going to tell on us, prefect?”
She shrugged. “What do I care? It’s a rubbish class, and I don’t know why anyone ever signs up for it.” She reached into her bag. “Here, Malfoy, have a chocolate frog.”
He caught it. “Is she okay?” he asked Albus, looking apprehensive.
“She’s just in a good mood,” Albus said distractedly. “Hey, Rosie, did you give that… thing… back to James?” Rose shook her head, and Albus grinned. “Lunchtime?”
“Definitely.” Rose made her way toward the desk she usually shared with Damien and Colleen and slipped in between them.
“How was breakfast?” Damien asked as she took her notebook and quill out.
She shrugged nonchalantly. “Oh, you know. My cousin Fred just sent us a couple things. Trinkets, really.”
“I’m sure.” Binns drifted through the blackboard, and Rose opened her notebook.
The rest of the morning was punctuated with frequent explosions. A particularly loud one occurred just as Albus was exiting their Transfiguration classroom, and he winced. “Come on,” he said, once he was sure she could hear him. “Let’s find a classroom and see what they’re going to be planning this afternoon.” Rose looked at Malfoy, who was standing behind him. Albus scowled. “Rose, he’s my friend, and he can come.”
She decided that getting into an argument about it in the hallway was not going to help anyway, and turned without challenging her cousin. “Today’s such a good day, don’t you think?”
“Maybe your cousin should send a package to her every day,” she heard Malfoy mutter to Albus.
“Remember that part where it’s probably better for all of us if you don’t see this side of her very often?” she could hear Albus mutter back.
“Yeah. I do.” They caught up with her. She was humming an old Weird Sisters song, and found herself unable to stop smiling.
Albus frowned. “Are you sure no one spiked your drink or your food this morning?”
“Am I not allowed to be in a good mood?”
“Rosie, you are always allowed to be in a good mood.” He looked into a classroom. “No one’s in here right now.”
Once the door was closed, Rose crossed her arms and looked at Malfoy. “Will he tell anyone?”
Malfoy’s eyes flickered from her to Albus. “Al, what exactly are you getting me into?” he asked, looking a little apprehensive. “If you have to kill me if you tell me or something like that, please just don’t tell me.”
Al shrugged. “No, he won’t.” He looked at Malfoy. “Will you?”
“I don’t know! I have no idea what you’re talking about!”
Albus looked back at Rose. “Whatever. No, he won’t.”
“Do I not get a say in what I will or won’t do?” Malfoy demanded.
“You won’t,” Albus said. “Come on, Rose. It’s lunch, and I’m sure they’ll be taking advantage of it to put that stuff all over the place. I want to see where.”
“Fair enough.” She pulled the parchment out of her bag, and Albus sat down at one of the tables. After a moment of hesitation, so did Malfoy. Rose pulled out her wand to tap the parchment, but first she looked at Malfoy. “If you tell anyone
about this, it’s war.”
“Look,” he said, seeming distinctly uncomfortable, “I’ll just leave. I don’t need some deep dark Weasley secret to keep.”
“It’s actually a Potter secret,” Albus said, only half-listening. “You’re fine. Ignore Rose.”
“How on earth are you going to see what your family is doing from this classroom?” asked Malfoy.
“If he tells someone and James kills you both, tell him it wasn’t my idea before you croak.” She unfolded the piece of paper. Malfoy was eying the piece of parchment like he was expecting it to explode. Given the morning, Rose couldn’t exactly blame him. She pointed her wand and whispered as she tapped it, “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.”
“What a surprise,” Malfoy muttered, looking at the parchment. Lines began to appear on the paper, and his eyes went wide. “What the—”
Rose looked at Albus expectantly, and Albus sighed. “It’s the Marauder’s Map,” he said.
“What the hell
is a Marauder’s Map?”
“The,” Rose corrected as she rummaged in her bag for a chocolate frog. “There’s only one.”
He rolled his eyes. “What’s the
Marauder’s Map, then?”
“It’s a Potter family secret,” Albus repeated, and looked at Rose. “Go ahead,” he said. “You understand it better than me.” She swallowed the piece of her frog that she’d bitten off. “You keep eating that much chocolate, it’s going to go straight to your hips,” he teased.
“That’s okay, they could use it,” she answered. “I’m too bony there, anyway.”
Malfoy opened his mouth, paused, and repeated, “What is the Marauder’s Map?”
Rose was very sure that that was not what he had initially been planning to say. “It’s a map of Hogwarts.”
He frowned and leaned over to look at it closer. He had apparently been too surprised by the lines appearing on the yellowed parchment to process what those lines were. “Huh.” His eyes widened, and he pointed to a classroom. “Is that…”
Rose leaned over. “Yes, that’s us.”
“What is this?” he asked again, sounding a little more awestruck than he had before.
“It’s the Marauder’s Map,” Rose repeated helpfully. He glared at her, and Albus cleared his throat. “Fine, have it your way,” she said. “It’s a map of Hogwarts. It shows everyone and everything in the castle.”
“Except for the Chamber of Secrets,” Albus pointed out.
Malfoy stared at him. “That’s an actual thing? I mean, it’s real?”
“Yep. My dad told us about it, last New Year’s,” Rose said. You could always manage to convince her parents or her aunt to start telling interesting stories about their time at Hogwarts once they’d had enough to drink, and since it didn’t happen very often, she, Hugo, and her cousins tried to take full advantage of it when it did. “Apparently it was built to house the basilisk your house founder left in the school.”
Malfoy jerked his head around, as if expecting a basilisk to be lurking in the corner of the room. “A basilisk?”
“It’s dead now,” Albus said quickly. “My father killed it in his second year.”
Malfoy’s eyebrows looked as though they were in dangerous of disappearing into his hairline. “Your father
killed a basilisk
in his second year?”
After a moment, he relaxed. “Very funny. You had me going for a minute.”
“I’m not joking. My mother almost died.”
“My mum got petrified,” Rose offered. She’d heard about that particular story two Christmases ago.
Malfoy stared at them. “You’re serious.”
“Yes,” Albus agreed. “We are.”
“So, wait a minute,” Malfoy said slowly, clearly trying to process the information. “There was a basilisk attaching people while our parents were at school?”
Rose studied his face. It seemed to really be the first time he was hearing about it. “Yes,” she said. “Didn’t you know that?”
Malfoy shook his head. “You guys have definitely gotten more interesting stories about Hogwarts from your parents than I have from mine. The most exciting thing my father’s told me is that he got mauled by a hippogriff because he was being an ass.”
“That’s what he said?” Rose asked skeptically.
“Yeah. It was part of his ‘if you’re going to take Care of Magical Creatures, pay attention in it’ lecture.” Malfoy managed a smile. “I get the feeling that most of his most memorable times at Hogwarts don’t exactly fill him with pride.”
Albus looked at Rose. “Is the room of requirement on there? I never checked.” It was a rather transparent attempt to make his friend feel less uncomfortable, but she went along with it.
“No,” she answered. Albus didn’t tend to use the map or the cloak very often; as a student whose rule-breaking was typically limited to occasionally sneaking down to the kitchens at night and using skiving snackboxes, he didn’t have much need for them.
Malfoy looked lost again. “What the hell
is the room of requirement?”
“Well, it’s also known as the come-and-go room,” Rose told him.
He rolled his eyes at her. “Gee, that’s helpful. Thanks, Red.”
“It’s a room that’s… well, it’s complicated. I’ll show you some time,” said Albus.
Malfoy did not look particularly mollified. “And your parents told you about that?”
“No,” Rose said. “One of our cousins did.” She certainly wasn’t going to tell him any more than that. He could probably guess without too much effort that Fred was involved, but she doubted that he would ever guess that Victoire had found it first.
He either sensed that she wasn’t going to go into more detail or decided that he didn’t care. “So, wait a minute,” he said. “It shows everything?”
“Yes,” Albus said.
He frowned. “What if someone was an animagus or something?” he asked, clearly trying to make sense of it.
She shook her head. “They still show up.”
“What about the polyjuice potion?” Rose had the distinct impression that Malfoy was trying to find something that the map could not do.
“You still show up as yourself, not the person you turned into,” she said.
“You’re not going to tell me how you know that, are you,” he said, not really making it a question.
There was a funny story behind her answers to both of his questions, but she would be damned if she was going to share it with him. “Nope.”
She could see the wheels in Malfoy’s head turning. “What about an invisibility cloak?” Rose and Albus looked at each other. Malfoy saw the glance, and said, “What?”
“Don’t ask,” Rose said.
“Seriously,” added Albus.
He looked like he wanted to, but he let it go. “Fair enough.” He glanced at the map again. “It seems damn useful.”
“It is,” Rose and Albus said together.
Rose leaned over to examine the map more carefully, feeling that they had wasted quite enough time on explaining it to Malfoy.
“That’s a pretty necklace,” Malfoy commented.
She looked up at him, and saw his gaze directed toward the pendant. She touched it. “Oh. Thanks. It was a gift.”
“From who?” he asked.
“My cousin.” She looked back at the map to discourage further questions. “Look for Marion and Tyler, too,” she murmured. After a moment, Rose pointed to the dot labeled Marion Thomas
moving around the Gryffindor common room.
Albus grinned. “Excellent. I should have known. No one can very well avoid their own common room.”
Malfoy was studying the map. After a moment, he pointed to the dungeon. Rose followed his gaze, and saw a dot labeled Roxanne Weasley
wandering around the Potions classroom. “What do you want to bet it’s fireworks?” Albus asked.
“Nothing,” Rose replied. “I try not to make bets I know I’m going to lose.”
“She’s putting fireworks in Dorny’s classroom?” Malfoy asked, looking surprised. “I thought she liked Potions.”
“She does,” Albus said. “But she also likes being destructive.” He pointed to a dot labeled Tyler Jordan,
who moving around the hallway she’d heard Albus and Malfoy talking in the day before. “There he is on the fourth floor. What is it about that floor?”
“Sentimental value?” offered Rose. “The swamp was a seriously cool bit of magic.” She pointed to the dot on the first floor labeled James Potter.
Albus grinned. “Oh, I hope that whatever he’s done, it gets us out of Muggle Studies. Then if we use a snackbox to get out of Divination, we’ve got most of our afternoon free.”
take Muggle Studies?” Rose asked Malfoy, surprised.
“Wow, you do
say everything that’s on your mind, don’t you?” he asked. “Yeah. I do.”
Rose pointed to the kitchens. “Three guesses what Hugo and Lily are doing.”
Albus laughed, but Malfoy just shook his head. “What?”
“Let’s put it this way,” Albus said. “Don’t eat anything at dinner. Definitely don’t have any dessert.”
Rose smirked. “I cannot wait for dinner.”
“You going to warn anyone?” asked Albus.
“Are you kidding me? Hell, no.” She frowned. “I do think I’m going to run over to Hogsmeade, though.”
Malfoy stared at her. “Just like that.”
“Oh, well, I’ve got a few free periods,” Rose said breezily. She tapped her wand to the parchment. “Mischief managed.”
When she straightened up, she saw Malfoy’s gaze flick upward.
Albus grabbed his bag. “I’m going to run up to my dormitory to get my books. I’ll meet you at Muggle Studies, Scorpius. Bye, Rose.”
Malfoy got up and left with him.
Rose had just carefully folded the map and put it away when Malfoy walked back in. “Yes?” she asked. Then she saw the wand in his hand, and grabbed hers off the desk.
Before she had a chance to say a spell, he pointed his wand at her. “Expelliarmus!”
Nothing happened. She smirked.
“Yeah,” he said. “I thought so. Real cute. It seemed weird that I somehow managed to miss you on your way to arithmancy and toward transfiguration. By ‘cousin,’ I’m assuming you meant ‘Fred.’”
She shrugged. “It worked, didn’t it?”
“Yeah. It did.” He sat on a desk. “You know, just because you’re in a good mood today doesn’t mean I’m not going to make you pay for this.” He brushed his hair out of his face. “One way or another.”
She sat on a desk, too. “Bring it. I don’t ever have to take this off.”
“Don’t worry,” he said. “The sorting hat seriously considered putting me in Ravenclaw. I’ll find a way.”
“The sorting hat didn’t consider putting me in anything but Gryffindor,” she said, proudly.
He rolled his eyes. “Yeah. Well. What a surprise.”
“So, tell me,” she said. “Were you really just noticing my necklace, or were you staring down my shirt?”
“You know, Red, the world doesn’t actually revolve around you.” The red tinge to his cheeks belied his brush-off, and she smiled smugly.
“Do you think that my hips are just fine the way they are?” she taunted.
He got up. “You know, Red, I was just starting to forget why I hated you quite so much. Thanks for bringing it all back.”
She smiled sweetly. “Well, that’s better for all of us, isn’t it?” His cheeks got redder. She smirked.
He walked toward her, and said, when they were practically nose-to-nose, “Look. You should get this straight,” he snapped. “As you so cleverly deduced by hiding behind portraits and eavesdropping, yeah, unfortunately, I do find you physically attractive. That doesn’t actually mean that I want to be with you. I’d rather kiss the giant squid,” he spat.
“Really?” she asked, licking her lips.
His face got even redder, and he drew back. “God, you are such a tease. Yeah. Really.”
“Poor baby,” she said. “Go cry to Albus. And while you’re at it, explain to him why you’re looking down my shirt to begin with.”
He looked as though he’d been forced to swallow stinksap. When she looked back at the door and turned the knob, he cried, “Stupefy!”
She looked back at him and smirked.
He sneered back. “Just checking. Later, Red,” he said, as opened the door. “Watch your back. I owe you for this ridiculous hair.”