Chapter 10 : Living In Sin
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by shudder @ tda
As much as I dislike my family at the best of times, there is really nothing better than going home to them at Christmas.
This is for several reasons, the most important being ‘free food in abundance’. This year, however, the most important reason was ‘getting away from a weirdo Scottish village in the back of beyond where there is nothing to do except stare at the ceiling and write smut’.
I’m pretty sure Scorpius was as glad to visit my family as I was. He gets fed a lot better when my mum’s there, seeing as I’m a pisspoor cook and he’s hardly better. Besides, my parents aren’t too stingy to leave the heating off. Navigating the doily collection is difficult, but it’s just an occupational habit of living there.
We turned up just after lunch on Christmas Eve, our undetectably expanded suitcase packed with tartan goodies. The Knight Bus deposited us on the front lawn and sped off with a screech, almost running over a squirrel.
Mum was all smiles when she let us in, enveloping me into a huge, all-encompassing hug the moment I stepped over the threshold. Scorpius got an awkward one-armed embrace a moment later. I could tell she was about to lecture me on how thin he’d got.
‘Molly here yet?’ I asked, before she could say anything.
‘She’s arriving with Desmond later this afternoon,’ Mum beamed. ‘It’s so nice to have a house full of children again!’
I had to bite my tongue to stop myself from reminding her that, seeing as I was twenty two, I was far beyond being a child.
‘Why don’t you take your things upstairs?’ Mum’s smile never once faltered. ‘Scorpius is staying in your old room, and Desmond will be in Molly’s, and we’ve borrowed a couple of camp beds from Ron and Hermione that you and Molly can sleep on in the living room…’
I had to bite my tongue again. I’d been under the impression that I’d have been allowed to share my old room with Scorpius, but, apparently, Mum had other plans. So I did my best to return her unflinching smile and said I’d take him upstairs.
‘Good. Your dad’s in the kitchen…I expect he’s busy. Doesn’t like to be disturbed when he’s working on the parsnips,’ she added, in a stage whisper. Then, she patted me on the shoulder, increased the velocity of her beaming a bit, and went through into the living room.
‘Hasn’t changed much,’ I told Scorpius as we climbed the stairs. The house was, indeed, in its usual colour scheme of beige, beige, beige, with the occasional ornament in a muted shade of ivory or cream or something that was probably called beige with a hint of boring. ‘Funny, cause they redecorated last year.’
‘Ah, I like your house, though,’ he said, as we reached the top of the stairs, looking down fondly at a table on which three doilies were displayed. 'It’s very normal. And it’s comfy. My room at home was, like,’ he stretched his arms out either side of him. ‘This big.’
‘Well,’ I smiled, hand already on the door handle. ‘Mine’s not much better.’ Then, shoving down on the handle, I threw the door open, letting Scorpius and the suitcase into the room I’d occupied for eighteen years. ‘Ta-dah! This is it!’
I paused for dramatic effect as Scorpius surveyed the room, taking in the Pride of Portree posters, the wardrobe covered in graffiti, and the piles and piles of parchment stacked up against one wall.
‘Yeah, dad uses this as an office dumping ground,’ I explained, moving into the room. ‘Make yourself at home.’
He put the suitcase at the foot of the wardrobe and peered up at one of the posters above my bed, eyebrow raised.
‘So you’ve always been Portree,’ he said archly.
‘Yup,’ I crossed the room and knelt on the bed, giving the poster an affectionate pat. ‘These are up with a permanent sticking charm…they’ll never come down!’
To emphasise this last point, I leant forward and gave the bottom of the poster an almighty tug. To my surprise, it was not stuck there with a permanent sticking charm at all, and I went toppling backwards onto the bed with the poster on top of me.
It took a while for Scorpius to stop laughing but, eventually, he lifted the poster off of me.
‘You alright? he said. ‘Any papercuts?’
I lay there, a little dazed, staring up at the multitude of plastic glow-in-the-dark stars I’d stuck to the ceiling when I was six. I was mildly surprised they were still up there, if the poster was anything to go by.
‘I’m fine,’ I said. ‘Now lie next to me like this was my intention all along.’
He complied, shoving me over as we both tried to squeeze onto the narrow single bed. Feeling the effort of travelling and packing catching up with me, I shut my eyes, knowing I could happily fall asleep at that moment.
‘I had stars like that,’ he said, prodding my ankle with his foot to stop me dozing off. ‘I covered my ceiling with them.’
‘Mmm,’ was all I could offer by way of a coherent response. He seemed to sense how tired I was and didn’t say anything more. I put my head on his shoulder, and was just on the verge of asking him to turn off the lights when the door creaked open and someone coughed politely.
I sat up right away – it was my father, looking benignly embarrassed, half-hidden behind the open door.
‘Would you mind giving me a hand in the kitchen, Lucy?’ he said. Before waiting for an answer, he turned, pulling the door shut behind him.
‘Sorry,’ I said, nudging Scorpius aside as I hopped off the bed. ‘I’ll leave you to get unpacked. You can rummage around in my drawers, if you like. Do a bit of snooping.’
‘I always like a rummage around in your drawers,’ he sat up. ‘Anything incriminating?’
‘Oh, just a few old tomes on magick most foul,’ I pulled the door open. ‘See you in a bit.’
Descending the stairs, I had to pinch my arm to wake myself up. I was still exhausted and – come to think of it – I wasn’t sure I’d ever properly cleaned out my room before I’d left home. Not that I owned much in the way of incriminating objects, mind, and, as an artsy type, Scorpius was pretty hard to shock, but I was pretty sure I had a few manky old diaries kicking around, maybe a box full of bottle tops, photographs of old boyfriends and whatnot. Whilst Molly’s room had been cleaned and set up as a guest room, my room had pretty much been seen as a hopeless case and had been left to fester.
Dad was chopping parsnips in the pristine kitchen, the radio blaring out a set of cheery Christmas carols. When I tapped him on the shoulder, he turned the radio down, pointed to a mound of carrots, and handed me a knife.
‘You’re going to do it by hand,’ he said, when I protested. ‘I know what you’re like with a wand.’
A little grudgingly, I set to dividing the small number of large carrots into a large number of small carrots. We both chopped away in contented silence for a few moments, dad occasionally humming along to a carol, until he spoke again.
‘It’s so nice having Scorpius here for Christmas,’ he said. ‘Such a nice boy.’
‘Yeah, it’s nice,’ I nodded.
‘Really, it is,’ dad suddenly set aside the parsnip he was in the midst of chopping, the knife and his wand following suit. ‘Lucy…we’re….we’re so proud of you.’
Honestly. You wait twenty two years for your parents to tell you that, and then it comes when you’re busy trying to chop up carrots.
‘Er, thanks,’ I said. ‘For what?’
He’d gone a little misty-eyed. ‘I think it’s hard for you to understand,’ he said. ‘But the Malfoys and the Weasleys haven’t seen eye-to-eye for decades…centuries, even…and…well, now they get on. And it’s thanks to you.’
I’m sure I’d realised this fact some time ago, and I’m pretty certain that the credit should have gone to Albus, or Rose, or even Scorpius himself for being such an anomaly when it came to his family, but the sentiment still seemed to strike a chord with me. I put down the knife and the carrot I was holding. Typically, the carrot rolled off the worktop and landed on my feet (well, rather the carrot than the knife) as I patted my dad rather awkwardly on the shoulder.
‘Thanks,’ I said.
‘I know we were a little sceptical at first,’ he said. ‘London, art school and everything – but we’re so glad you’re happy, Lucy. It’s so nice seeing the two of you get on so well and…pick up that carrot.’
I complied, feeling a bit silly.
‘And wash it,’ dad said, a hint of his usual stern nature back in his voice.
I ran the carrot under the tap for a bit while he continued.
‘Anyway, we’re very happy for the two of you. The rest of the family, too, they’re so pleased. Well, your grandparents are taking a while to come around to it but, well…you can’t really…expect their generation to…’ his voice became quieter and quieter. ‘I mean…as they see it…living in sin and whatnot…their words, not mine!’ he added, as my hand shot up from out of the sink and I dropped the carrot again. It landed on the tiled floor with a little splatter like a punctuation mark.
‘Living in sin?’ I repeated. ‘It’s not like we’re going around casting dark marks and killing kittens-’
‘They don’t – they don’t mean like that,’ dad said, in a strangled voice. He’d gone slightly pink. ‘And it’s just something they said once-’
He cut off abruptly, grabbing up a parsnip and his wand and resuming his chopping. I didn’t bother to retrieve the carrot.
‘Dad,’ I said. ‘What do they mean?’
He was swiftly turning the colour of a beetroot. ‘You know what I mean.’
‘Funnily enough, I don’t, which is why I’m-’
‘Don’t be smart,’ he snapped.
‘Pfft, I’m not being smart, Dad, I’m just thick, didn’t you ever get that?’
His jaw worked furiously. ‘Lucy. You’re not thick!’
‘Dad, I failed Muggle Studies-’
‘It’s beside the point!’ he roared, with a white-knuckled grip on an unfortunate parsnip. ‘What your grandparents mean – well, for their generation, for people of their age, you are very…unconventional.’
‘I went to art school and dyed my hair blue, Dad, of course I’m unconventional. It's parth of my ethos.’
‘You’re having relations with someone you’re not married to!’ he squeaked.
A deathly silence fell. I could hear Mum humming Celestina Warbeck in the next room. Dad resumed chopping parsnips, calm as ever. I reached down to lift the carrot from the floor.
‘Er,’ I started, eyes fixed on the chopping board. ‘You don’t know if we’re…er…’having relations’.’
Dad’s shoulders were hunched up like he was trying to fold in on himself. ‘Lucy, don’t be daft. Me and your mum have known what your attitude to boys is for some time.’
The aforementioned Mum had stopped humming next door. I felt like I wanted to cry, laugh, and stab something with the knife in my hand all at once.
‘Yeah, but…’ I struggled. ‘That isn’t…wrong. And times are different. I’m not like Nan.’
‘They only disapprove a little bit,’ Dad sounded like he’d been recently strangled. ‘You know what they’re like.’
‘Whatever,’ was the best I could come up with.
Dad finally set down the parsnip and his wand. ‘Look, I didn’t mean to upset you. It was just something they said.’
‘I know, Dad, but it’s only been three years-’
‘I don’t agree with them! Come on, let’s just get on with dinner.’
The conversation effectively terminated there, and chopping resumed in an uncomfortable silence, barring a lengthy anecdote from Dad about a new regulation on the thickness of cauldron bottoms due to come into force in the new year. As little as I cared about bloody cauldron bottoms, at least he wasn’t banging on about me and Scorpius living in sin. Besides, I always got the feeling that Dad listened more than Mum did, and if I’d had to pick one of them to awkwardly bridge the topic with, it would have been him.
‘I’ll go and fetch Scorpius,’ I said, once every root vegetable in the building had been chopped. ‘See if he wants a drink.’ And a bit of premarital relations, a little voice in my head snarked.
When I arrived back in my room, I found Scorpius cross-legged on the bed, flicking through a little box of old photos that was usually kept on the windowsill. I panicked momentarily before realising that, if I’d left them in plain sight, there couldn’t have been anything too incriminating in there.
‘Family cat?’ he asked, holding up a picture of an especially grumpy tabby. I sat beside him, taking the photo from his hands.
‘Weatherby,’ I said. ‘I miss him. Used to lick my face in the mornings. Like a furry alarm clock.’
‘Weatherby,’ Scorpius repeated. ‘That’s a good name for a cat.’
‘It’s alright,’ I said. ‘Dad hated it for some reason. There are better cat names.’
We met each other’s eyes.
‘Socks,’ Scorpius said, quickly, just as I said ‘Andrew.’
I turned my gaze back to the photo, where Weatherby had begun to lick his paw. ‘I miss having a cat.’
‘I bet he misses you too, judging by that face,’ Scorpius jabbed Weatherby’s surly glare.
‘Anyway,’ I set the picture aside. ‘D’you want to come downstairs? Get a drink and whatnot. Although I’m afraid we’ve probably only got ginger beer and elderflower cordial or something.’
‘Suits me fine.’
Molly and Desmond arrived with perfect timing, coming through the front door just as me and Scorpius reached the bottom of the stairs. What with mum flinging out her arms all over the shop to hug everyone, the hallway became quite cramped; I ended up flattened against the coat rack, grinning widely with an umbrella handle jammed into my back.
I’d never much approved of Molly’s taste in men in the past, but Desmond seemed to be an exception to the rule. I’d only met him a few times, but I’d noticed how he always kept his eye on her – not in an overprotective or creepy way, like. It was like, should she fall, he’d be there with his arms out to catch her in record time. And he was one of the few people who hadn’t sneered at my art school qualification. And he was a Portree supporter. That puts anyone in my good books.
Unlike Scorpius, Desmond seemed to have been to the house plenty of times before, and was content to see himself up to Molly’s old room. I went into the sitting room with Molly and Scorpius, only to have mum drag Scorpius away almost instantly to get him a drink from the kitchen, leaving me alone with my little sister.
‘Wow! It’s been ages,’ Molly said, yanking me into a hug. With her heels on, she was a good deal taller, and I ended up with my nose buried in her neck, sniffing her expensive perfume. ‘How have you been?’
‘Oh, just chuffing along,’ I said. She pulled away and grinned.
‘I’ve got a surprise for Mum and Dad.’
‘What is it?’
She winked conspiratorially. ‘You’ll find out later. Has she accused you of underfeeding Scorpius yet?’
‘I’m waiting for the onslaught.’
The aforementioned Mum appeared at this point with a tray of glasses and a bottle of elderflower cordial.
‘So nice to have you all here,’ Mum beamed, and we all took a seat. ‘Shame we couldn’t have more of the family.’
‘Oh, I’m sure they’re having a great time,’ Molly said, and, with that, Mum was off. She felt the need to describe to us, in detail, what every member of the extended Weasley-Potter family was doing this Christmas. How Albus had gone to Romania to see our Uncle Charlie, how his little sister Lily was getting on in her internship at the Ministry, and how Rose would be alone with her parents this year.
‘Such a shame, isn’t it?’ she frowned, and Molly and Scorpius both started nodding solemnly.
I felt like I was missing something. ‘And that’s different from any other year…how?’
Mum shot me a scandalised look. ‘Lucy!’
‘Awkward,’ Molly said.
‘Why? What happened to Rose?’
‘Did you get the letter about the move?’ Molly asked.
‘Did she tell you why?’
I snorted with laughter. ‘We’re not close.’
Mum was shaking her head. ‘After what happened, Lucy…’
‘You know, last August,’ Molly prompted. ‘When she split up with her boyfriend.’
‘Fiancé,’ Mum corrected.
‘Oh,’ I felt a bit deflated. ‘No…I didn’t know about that. Did you know?’ I said, turning to Scorpius.
‘Uh…yeah,’ he said, shifting in his seat. ‘Wrote me a letter.’
I chose to ignore this.
‘Wow,’ I said.
‘A downright shame,’ Mum was still shaking her head. ‘He kept the flat – Hermione was, understandably, livid, but luckily he decided not to press charges.’
I felt a bit stupid and sad about this. I’d never been close to Rose, and the two of us didn’t get on well at all, but I felt an unprecedented wave of sympathy welling up inside me. Poor Rose, nobody could get along with her.
Rose didn’t come up for the rest of our stay, however. I gathered that she was spending Christmas with her parents, but me and Scorpius would be long gone by the time Mum and Dad went to visit Ron and Hermione. Instead, talk lingered on cheerier subjects. Molly had got a part-time job in a shoe shop to supplement her Ministry pay, Desmond was doing something connected to the next Quidditch world cup, still two years away, and both of my parents were pretty keen to hear about Scorpius’ job at Cameraderie.
Scorpius, unused to having to talk so much and still a little fearful of my dad, was a bit twitchy throughout dinner. He was perfectly polite and had decent table manners, but I occasionally had to kick his shin under the table to get him to stop staring at the tablecloth and engage in conversation. I can hardly blame him, though. Scorpius, a sworn vegetarian since the age of seven, couldn’t have been more alarmed than when Dad carried in a huge hunk of roast beef from the kitchen, slammed it down on the table, and the pulled out an enormous knife to carve it with. I could almost see the little cogs whirring in Scorpius’ brain; he was probably picturing my dad holding that knife up at him, saying something along the lines of hurt my daughter and we’ll eat you for our Christmas Eve dinner. But, happily, Mum brought in a little plate of nut roast with trimmings a moment later, and he looked a little more pacified.
It was pretty funny to watch. Dad was evidently struggling to be nice to both boys whilst maintaining the whole these-are-my-daughters-and-thou-shalt-not-harm-them act, and so treated them both with gruff politeness while constantly urging them to call him ‘Percy’ instead of ‘Mr Weasley.’ Desmond handled this fine but, Scorpius, never one for social interaction, slipped up and accidentally called him ‘Mr Percy’ at one point instead.
It was when we were having pudding that Molly dropped her bombshell.
‘Guess it’s now or never,’ she said, out of the blue, setting down her spoon and taking Desmond’s hand. ‘Well…the two of us have decided to get married!’
Absolute silence. Then Mum’s spoon slipped from her hand and hit her bowl with a loud clang. A moment later, Dad burst into tears.
‘That’s awesome, Molly!’ I cried, feeling that she probably needed a voice of encouragement. But Dad had already shot out of his seat and was flailing for her across the table, openly crying, pulling her into an embrace; Scorpius’ hands shot out and grabbed crockery and cutlery alike out of their way.
I was chuffed, over the moon, delighted that my little sister had ended up with someone that, god forbid, both myself and my parents approved of, someone who had that constant look of being ready to catch her if she fell. Someone my grandparents would probably approve of as well.
It was half past eleven before we all turned in for the night. I waited until Mum and Dad had gone upstairs to say goodnight to Scorpius.
‘Well,’ he said. ‘Kind of a hard act for us to follow, huh.’
‘Tell you what, if you meet me at the foot of the stairs at five tomorrow morning, we can elope.’
‘Yeah. That’ll show them.’
I couldn’t help but laugh. ‘I’ll make sure I’m wearing my best dress.’
‘I’ll look my suit out.’
‘Right,’ I stood on tiptoe to kiss him. ‘Goodnight. See you in the morning.’
Molly had already set up the camp beds by the time I arrived back in the living room, changed into my pyjamas. She sat on the edge of hers, idly brushing her hair. Now that the secret was out, she was wearing an engagement ring.
‘Really pleased for you and Desmond,’ I said, sitting on the edge of my own camp bed and kicking off my slippers. ‘Best news I’ve heard in ages.’
‘Thanks,’ she beamed at me. ‘Mum and Dad gone to bed?’
‘Right,’ she stood, sliding her feet into her slippers. ‘I’m off, then.’
‘Where are you going?’
‘Going to go to my room, dopey.’
‘Hey, we’re supposed to be staying in here!’
‘It might reflect badly on him if you stay there instead. Look, I’d only just walked in the door today when Dad started accusing me of living in sin with Scorpius-’
‘I’ll be out before the morning,’ she said, rolling her eyes.
I let her slink away without another word. Feeling a teensy bit resentful, I got into my camp bed and turned the lights out with my wand, trying to settle down on the scratchy canvas.
I probably would have got into more trouble if I’d done the same, though. Molly was, and always had been, the better daughter, the one who’d joined the Ministry straight out of school, the one who had a decent salary and a respectable boyfriend – sorry, fiancé - the one who at least looked and dressed like she was a fully-functioning member of society. Me? I had a degree in photography, a boyfriend from one of the most notorious Pureblood families around, and a budding career in writing bad smut.
If it was any consolation, I wasn’t Rose.
A few minutes after I’d bunked down, the door creaked open and Molly returned looking a little sheepish.
‘Dad caught me,’ she explained, clambering into her own camp bed. ‘Had to pretend I was getting a scrunchie.’
‘Serves you right,’ I said.
‘He’s going to be a wreck when I get married,’ Molly said, yawning on the last word. ‘He’ll probably weep when he leads me down the aisle.’
‘I can’t decide,’ she yawned again. ‘Whether it’ll be a summer wedding or what.’
‘Summer would be nice.’
‘Yeah,’ Molly said, yawning again. ‘Yeah…’
‘I think I’d like to get married someday,’ I said, but Molly had already fallen asleep.
a/n: I don't usually update twice in one day but, when I do, I update with moar filler and a ~sensible~ chapter. Eep, sorry for lumping so much pointless filler on youse all, but there are a lot of plotty things I need to get out the way, like broody Lucy, the mysterious mystery of Mary Sue and her mystery man, Rose's angst and...yes...more discussions about naming cats...
Trust me, there's interesting stuff to come. Well...I hope it'll be interesting. Events to come in later chapters include Lucy's second enounter with Euphemia Flitter and Scorpius finally getting his 'save the world, get the girl moment'. Almost. I promise it's coming.
Aand finally...thank you for reading & I hope you enjoyed it! ♥
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