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Play the Devil by Lululuna
Chapter 6 : The Burrow (Part I)
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 7

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The Burrow (Part I)
This chapter is dedicated to the incomparable JK Rowling, for creating all these crazy cousins for me to play with.
chapter image by elenia_17 at tda

The house where Dad had grown up was located a small distance from London, on a property overlooking the village of Ottery St. Catchpole. Christened the Burrow, it was a strange and delightful structure adorned with uneven additions and rooms sticking out every which way. I’m sure the place would have fallen apart long ago were it not for the powerful spells my grandmother had cast to hold the house together.

The garden, particularly the vegetable patch, was infested with garden gnomes, and when we cousins were children it was our task to de-gnome the garden by grabbing the little things by their ankles and hurling them over the hedge that bordered the Burrow as they screeched in dismay. This was great fun. Naturally, they soon crept back, daft little things, to Nan’s exasperation and Grandad’s amusement at her annoyance. Grandad often whispered to me that had Nan really had the heart to send the gnomes away for good, she would have had them evicted by pest control long ago.

In anticipation of possibly being tugged back in time when I was least prepared for it, I had paid Hugo three cauldron cakes to complain that he didn’t want to do Side-Along Apparition to the Burrow as it upset his stomach, and badgered Mum into setting up a Portkey for the evening. Dad, who thought quite poorly of Apparition during the best of times, had happily seconded this notion. We could have used the Floo network, but while the cost of Flooeing back and forth from the Ministry was covered by the Ministry for its employees, Floo powder used to travel to other locations was quite pricey and Mum insisted we only use it in emergencies, grumbling about inflation and unnecessary spending.

In typical Hermione Granger organized fashion, our family was the first to arrive. The Burrow was decorated with a large banner reading Welcome Home, Roxanne in flashy blue lettering. The Portkey, a rusty serving fork, deposited us into the field next to the Burrow, and we trod up the hill good-naturedly enough. I had chosen to wear a pretty black dress which showed off my long and blinding white legs, and had my hair down in soft curls around my face. It had been a while since I’d seen some of my female cousins, and we often had silent competitions with each other over who had lost the most weight, had the best boyfriend, and wore the nicest dress, all without breathing a word of resentment or hint of the competition which existed between us.

There were some of my female cousins with whom I got on quite well: Roxanne, for one, who was in the year below Hugo and Lily and who, despite being a Hufflepuff and therefore very involved in her Hufflepuff friends and activities (they stuck together like a pack at school, that lot) always made an effort to catch up with me. I respected her sense of independence and adventure: she had worked weekends and summers at her dad’s shop to earn the money to travel for the first two weeks of the summer this year with her friend’s family, though I suspected Uncle George slipped her a few Galleons on the sly without Auntie Angelina noticing. Mum had explained that since Dad and his siblings all grew up quite poor, they were more inclined to spoil us children and buy us things they couldn’t have afforded when they were young.

Fifteen-year old Roxanne had been traveling with a Hufflepuff friend from her year – minimally supervised by the parents- and by the sounds of the postcards she’d sent me by owl it seemed like they had a wicked time. Roxy was like that: she made things happen, whereas I acted without thinking and dawdled and delayed over my decisions, unsure whether to regret them or not.

Lily was Hugo’s age and the two had been thick as thieves for years. The Potter cousins were over every second day when we were young: Uncle Harry was Mum and Dad’s best friend and spending time together was effortless and necessary for the three of them. We had a running joke in the family that Uncle Harry had only married my Auntie Ginny to officially become a Weasley, as Dad’s family had become a substitute family for him since his parents were killed by the Dark Lord when he was a baby and he had been raised by his horrible Muggle relations. I was eagerly waiting the day when James or Al or Lily would get married and Auntie Ginny would force her husband to invite said relations to the celebrations: from what Al had told me, his Dursley cousins were a laugh and his great-aunt and uncle the worst kind of Muggles imaginable.

I usually quite liked Lily, though I had always gravitated a little closer to Al, and in recent years since becoming a teenager she had started to be moody and whiny, especially around her exasperated parents. Molly, who was a year older than Louis, was constantly at war with Victoire and anyone else who got in her way for who was more successful and influential. For the most part, both drove me mad and I avoided their company whenever possible. Dominique was a wild-card: nobody knew when she would show up and with which beard-sporting, guitar-case carrying boyfriend in tow with odd names like Sven and Jangles and Steak. Yes, “Steak.” Molly’s sister Lucy was in the year below me and a vengeful Slytherin who I preferred not to sit with at family gatherings since she was prone to Confunding people (illegally, since until recently she had been underage) and stealing the best bits of food from their plates.

Nan gave me a warm, welcoming hug when I came in. She had gained weight in my eighteen years of knowing her, and her hair was almost completely gray, but she held me against her soft chest with the same gusto and love I’d always associated with her. Though getting up there in age, she was still extremely busy and involved in the kitchen, causing all the pots and utensils to dance to the tune of her wand like a rather plump symphony conductor, usually adorned in the dragon-embroidered apron Al and I had bought her six years ago as a joint birthday present.

Grandad hollered merrily from the enormous chair in the sitting room: he seemed to disappear into it. While Nan had bourne her love and tenderness and expanded more and more with each grandchild added in quick succession, Grandad seemed to shrink closer and closer to his frail, thin bones. But the old spirit and warmth shone in his eyes as I kissed his cheek then snuggled into the chair next to him.

“You take up more room than I do, Rosie,” he complained good-naturedly as I linked my arm through his thin, delicate one and leaned my head on his shoulder. His trousers were a little too short for him, revealing two brown socks pulled up high over his scrawny shins. He always wore shoes in the house when company was visiting.

“I brought you something, Grandad,” I replied, pulling up the large purse I had brought with me. Tucked into a secret compartment was the potion I had stolen from the Department of Mysteries: I hated leaving the house without it just in case Mum or Hugo went snooping in my room. Fleetingly I wondered what had been here, at the Burrow, in Richard’s day: perhaps a historic dynasty of Weasleys had settled in this area generations ago and were even now cultivating the local fields of the past. Pushing these thoughts aside, I rustled into the depths of the purse and drew out what I’d brought for Grandad: an electric toothbrush powered by magic-resistant batteries, a new innovative technology that adapted use of ingenious Muggle inventions for wizarding use that I’d picked up in the Ministry gift shop. I showed Grandad how to turn it off and on before relinquishing my spot on the chair so that Hugo could give him an awkward, careful hug, as if he was afraid that Grandad would break.

Grandad was getting up in years, and sometimes I worried that he wasn’t always all there. He wasn’t young anymore, and Mum had told me she suspected he had begun down the path to both physical and mental deterioration. Today, he seemed fairly alert, but there had been times when he slipped and called me Ginny or Victoire or Roxy. Once he had called Hugo and Albus by the names ‘Ron and Harry’ and whispered, glancing around furtively to make sure Nan wasn’t listening, and told them that “taking the car was very wrong boys, very wrong indeed, but did it go alright?”

Mum, Uncle Harry and Aunt Angelina had engaged in many fervent and secretive talks discussing what was to be done about Grandad’s condition. Mum insisted that while things were well enough now, all it would take would be one accident where only Nan was there to help and things would quickly take a poor turn. The minute the issue was raised to Dad or any of his siblings they refused to listen to reason, insisting that Grandad and Nan had always made do and that all was well as is. Dad in particular got particularly upset whenever the thought of his father being moved to a home or special care facility was brought up, and quite often after a visit to the Burrow Mum would roll her eyes and shake her head thoughtfully over Dad’s head and give me meaningful looks, and later I would ask her worriedly what she thought was going to happen and she would purse her lips and explain that my father was very stubborn and had trouble accepting that his parents were not young and immortal anymore.

My Granger grandparents had moved into a retirement facility when they were in their late seventies and had been happily living a life of luxury there ever since. Mum thought this was ideal: it set them up in a lovely flat, with people of their own age to chat with about their grandkids and to give consultations to about dentures and flossing. This choice had also given them the chance to clear out and sell their old home on their own terms, so that if in the future they did need special assistance or there was an accident it would not be such a shock and upheaval. Mum hinted quite heavily in front of Dad that there were excellent facilities for elderly wizards with qualified attendants and pretty, safety-conscious flats, and they had even tentatively taken Nan and Grandad round to look at a few, but there was always something wrong: it was too expensive, too roomy, too small, too busy, too lonely, too quiet, too loud, too strange. Too stubborn, Mum had whispered to me after one such visit.

I looked over at Grandad’s chair, where Mum was bending to give her father-in-law a kiss on the well-loved cheek. She stood up and caught my eye: I knew we were both thinking the same thing, how frail and weak he looked, how sunken the cheeks and knotted the hands, still clutching the electric toothbrush I had brought him as a gift. I swallowed carefully to dissolve the small lump gathering in my throat. I wondered what it would have been like to see Grandad and Nan when they were young, and this tippety-toppety house was full of shouting boys. I imagined it would have been quite merry.

Grandad said funny, uncomfortable things sometimes: once, Auntie Fleur had joked at how many grandchildren he had to love, and Grandad had laughed and replied that he always thought they would have far more, having raised seven children to adulthood, but then Uncle Charlie refused to settle down and Uncle Fred had died. He said it so casually that everyone in the room had frozen for a second and exchanged looks before carrying on with the conversation as if it had been nothing.

Another time, Grandad mistook Uncle George for his late twin and asked how Fred’’s OWLs had gone and whether he had “asked out that pretty, dark-haired Chaser to the Yule Ball yet, George told me how you fancied her.” Uncle George had, for once, been completely without a response: Mum had stepped in gently to remind Grandad that his son Fred was dead, had been gone for over twenty years, and that George had been the one to marry that pretty Chaser and that she was sitting right across the room and given Grandad two grandchildren and the Yule Ball where they had danced and laughed had been years and years ago. I hadn’t confided in Grandad about my dating Scorpius because I didn’t trust him to keep it a secret and to get the facts right: for all I knew, he might mistake Scorpius for his father and me for my mother and say they were dating, and even the suggestion of such an idea would have sent Dad into a dark mood for at least an hour.

Nan passed around a plate of cookies and beckoned to Dad to help her in the kitchen. The next to arrive were Auntie Fleur and Uncle Bill with a droopy-eyed Louis in tow: he took a seat next to me on the carpet while Uncle Bill sat and chatted with Grandad about a recent letter he had received from Uncle Charlie.

“The calm before the storm,” Louis muttered to me. “Do you ever wish that we had less relatives, and could just go and be left to our own devices without worrying about whose gotten a raise and who met the Minister and who has captured a new boyfriend?”

“It’s a nice dream,” I yawned. “Are your sisters coming?”

“Vic, for sure,” Louis said thoughtfully. “I bumped into her today at work and she reminded me not to wear blue jeans as I would look frumpy next to James and Fred.” He looked mournfully down at his dark dressy trousers, which slid up above his skinny ankles since he was sitting down cross-legged and stretched uncomfortably tight across his thighs. “Dominique, well, who knows? Maybe she’ll bring Badger and we can have a good laugh while Dad tries to talk to him about Quidditch or something manly and Mum wrings her hands in the corner as she stares at his beard.”

“Badger? That’s one I haven’t heard before,” I said lazily. I looked out the window and spied Uncle Percy’s tall head coming up the hill, Auntie Audrey panting a little yet still succeeding in looking haughty. “Quick, let’s make ourselves scarce, Molly’s coming.” I grabbed Louis’ wrist and dragged him out to the back garden, where a long table was already set with several place settings. I saw a gnome peeking out from behind a rose bush: another appeared to be urinating on the carrots in the vegetable patch.

Louis looked at it with contempt. “I wish they weren’t so bloody adorable, else I’d de-gnome him myself for poisoning Nan’s carrots.”

I giggled. “Shall we make ourselves useful and decorate? What’s Roxanne’s favorite color?”

“I’d hazard a guess at purple,” Lou said thoughtfully. We set ourselves to conjuring streamers in varying shades of purple and violet to decorate the garden, enchanting them to hang in graceful arcs about the hedges, though no streamer seemed to turn out the exact same shade or hang quite symmetrically.

“Oh, lau it,” I muttered, grabbing a streamer which had already fallen off the hedge. I lunged forward and deftly seized a slow, podgy gnome by the ankle, and called to Louis to hold it still for me. I tied the streamer round its head like a turban. Releasing the gnome, which was gnashing his teeth at me, I watched the little creature scurry into the hedge and stare out with large, wondering eyes, sticking the end of the streamer into his mouth and sucking on it.

I sighed. “I hope that’s not poisonous.” I turned to my cousin. “Why did you listen to Victoire and not wear the trousers you wanted to, anyway?”

“Mum,” Louis replied gloomily, scuffing a shiny dress shoe right through the turnip patch. “She’s even worse. I really, really need to move out. Want to get a place together?”

“Cousin-style bachelor pad? I’m in!” I cried. “As long as you don’t mind the girls coming over for nailpolish parties and crying sessions about significant others.”

Louis rolled his eyes. “Someday, in the next ten years, when my training is complete and my salary actually existent… I’m definitely getting my own place. No girls allowed: unless they’re fit, that is. And no Cecelia; she’s fit, but also mad.” He grinned. I pretended to screw up my face in dismissal and disgust. The truth was, I didn’t mind living at home, what with the free food and Floo to the Ministry, the laundry and cleaning services provided and the reasonable degree of freedom, besides Hugo barging into my room uninvited. But he would be back to Hogwarts for his sixth year in less than two months. I hadn’t lived at home for a period longer than the summer for years, and found I was appreciating it more and more and was in no hurry to plunge into a waterfall of adulthood with responsibilities like not leaving the stove on and not washing whites with pinks and making sure Louis wore the right trousers to family get-togethers.

We were soon joined by a giddy Roxy, a few freckles dotting her dark skin and her hair tumbling about her shoulders. She danced over and threw her arms around me, and then Louis.

Bonjour, mes beaux cousins!” Roxy cried in very sloppy French. She glanced behind her into the house. “They’re driving me mad already, they keep asking me about hostels and bed bugs and foreign boys, and Aunt Fleur keeps correcting my French. I mean, we don’t correct her “Eeenglish” now, do we?” She squeezed Louis’ arm to convey that she still loved his mum and there was no need to jump to Auntie Fleur’s defense.

I laughed. Roxanne was such a ray of light that she was impossible not to like. “How was it, traveling with Cynthia?”

“Well enough,” Roxy said easily. “We got on most of the time except for one big fight in Amsterdam, where she wanted to stay home and I wanted to go party with some Australian blokes that we met on our walking tour.”

“Who won?” I asked, bemused.

“Well, she stayed in and played board games with her folks, and I went out and danced all night, and almost fell into a canal,” Roxy said, giggling. “But don’t tell Mum and Dad about that bit. I was going to bring some of the Australians home to England but they had train reservations to Berlin. Shame, they were a riot.”

“Clearly Cynthia’s parents really weren’t paying attention,” I muttered. I wondered if Uncle George had heard about the Australians.

“Did you meet any wizards or just Muggles?” Louis asked her.

“A bit of both, actually. At this one hotel in Paris I noticed an owl hovering around the outside and since I knew it wasn’t for Cynthia or I we figured there must be a witch or wizard staying there. It ended up being this lovely girl from Romania who went to Durmstrang: she invited us to come visit later in the summer if we can possibly afford it. It’d be lovely to see Uncle Charlie as well.”

“I haven’t see Uncle Charlie in months!” I said. “Probably not since Christmas. I stayed at Hogwarts during the Easter hols when he was visiting, and he hasn’t come back this summer yet.”

International Portkeys, even within the continent, were expensive and extremely exhausting. Apparently before WEU (Wizarding European Union) border laws were enforced it used to be far simpler to travel within Europe: Uncle Charlie claimed that when he was younger him and his friends could fly on brooms from Devonshire to Romania in a matter of weeks. He loved to tell the story of how Uncle Harry and Mum had smuggled a baby dragon for Hagrid, the Hogwarts gamekeeper, to the Astronomy tower at the school and given her to Charlie’s mates, who had flown with the dragon suspended between them back to the dragon sanctuary, staying at wizarding inns and pubs all over Europe with an infant dragon. Uncle Charlie liked to grumble that nowadays there would be all sorts of regulations and laws preventing such easy passage, especially with a dangerous creature in tow.

The dragon had grown up and was now a grandmother, or so I heard. When Hagrid drank a little too much he tended to think nostalgically back on Norbert and wonder how wee Norbert was doin’, poor little tyke.’

Roxy hugged Louis and I again and thanked us enthusiastically for putting so much work into decorating the backyard, though she wasn’t sure Nan would approve, and told us more stories about her travels which were inappropriate for parent and uncle ears. Soon, Al slunk out, his messy black hair hanging in his eyes. He sunk his behind to the ground and lay back on the grass of the garden without saying a word, his glasses slightly crooked on his face. Louis and I stared at him.

“Er, you alright, Al?” I asked, kneeling next to him and feeling his forehead with the back of my hand. “You don’t feel hot or anything.” I adjusted his glasses. He opened one green eye and squinted up at me.

“I just hate that I’m going to be the one to tell you this, Rose. Please let me enjoy my few moments of peace and quiet communing with the earth before I ruin your night.”

I raised an eyebrow and stood, nudging him gently in the side with the tip of my shoe. “What’s wrong? Have I been fired, because let me tell you that would be a blessing in disguise. Has Mum discovered the stash of emergency cigarettes in my room? Did I do even more poorly on the NEWTs than I thought and they’ve only now sent out the corrected results? Am I going to have to repeat all seven years at Hogwarts?” My tone was light, but something inside me clenched with worry.

I turned to Louis, who had stuck his head back inside the Burrow, where I could glimpse a large group of people standing and chatting through the open door. He turned back to me, pale and worried.

“What is it, Louis?”

“Erm, well, the thing is, it looks as if Scorpius is here.”

Scorpius Malfoy and I had first caught each other’s eye when we were serving detention together in our sixth year, but I had known about him for several years before that. Once upon a time, my parents and Uncle Harry had hated Scorpius’ dad in school: Dad liked to tell the story, with slightly gritted teeth, of how Draco Malfoy had flounced up to eleven-year old Uncle Harry, who was already quite famous for having defeated Voldemort the first time, to offer his friendship, and how Malfoy snubbed Ron for his second-hand clothes. Grandad and Malfoy’s father had carried on a quiet distaste for the other for years while working at the Ministry, a rivalry and natural dislike which had been inherited by their children.

I had asked Dad when I was quite young and hearing this story why Malfoy had enough power to present a suitable rival. After all, there were seven Weasley siblings and only one of him: where had Uncle Bill, Uncle Charlie, Uncle Percy been when their younger brother had needed their support? My cousins were always there if someone was rude to me, and they were just cousins. Dad had explained that his two eldest and most popular brothers had left school by then- Uncle Bill had been Head Boy in his day and Charlie Quidditch captain and a wicked player to boot. Uncle Percy was a prefect and Head Boy in his time as well, and he was too occupied with his own success to worry about Dad too much. Mum had cut in here and explained that Malfoy had his own friends and supporters in Slytherin: his money bought him loyalty and his arrogant manner was hard to face down: he would never have admitted it even if he was beaten. Mum didn’t talk about it much, but I knew from Dad that Malfoy had bullied her about being a Muggleborn. I think the memories of Malfoy’s cruel taunts to Mum made Dad angrier than anything Malfoy could have said against us Weasleys.

Mum had said fairly that Draco Malfoy was the product of his upbringing: he had been spoiled and raised to be a rotten, entitled twat (Dad’s words) and it was a miracle that he turned his life around and married a nice girl (Mum’s words) and escaped Azkaban. That was Mum trying to be fair and kind. The truth was Draco Malfoy, along with a handful of other young Death Eaters and those who managed to silver-tongue their way out of a life sentence, had begun a quiet career in Gringotts insurance consulting, made money by selling off stocks his imprisoned father had hoarded over the years, paid back the people his father had embezzled and mostly stayed out of Mum and Dad’s way.

Uncle Harry said he felt sorry for Malfoy, though when I was ten I had heard him and Dad laughing about his receding, gelled-down hairline and how he looked more like a ferret than ever after an accidental encounter at the Ministry, which I thought was quite immature and shallow of two grown Aurors. I had walked into the living room and, hands on my hips, reprimanded them for being so childish.

Uncle Harry had laughed and asked me to fetch him and Dad two ciders from the kitchen. He had then sat me down and explained that while they respected Malfoy well enough for turning out to be a decent human being, old habits died hard and they had spent too many years hating him to pass up a chance to chortle at his hair. Then Dad told me a story of how he had once tried to hex Malfoy but instead made himself regurgitate slugs for an hour instead, and I felt a little better. Indeed, soon they had encouraged us kids to detest the very name Malfoy and warned us to watch out for Scorpius, though Mum thought this was immature and ridiculous and put a stop to it whenever she could.

There was one Malfoy whom everyone silently agreed was beyond repair, beyond forgiveness, and that was Draco’s father Lucius. I had never seen him in person: he had grown old and haggard in Azkaban for his role in Voldemort’s inner circle, and was still rotting away there for all I knew. The story went that Lucius had pleaded until he was hoarse at his trial, claiming that he had been coerced into participating with the Dark Lord: his family threatened, his home overrun and infiltrated by the worst of the Death Eaters.

He nearly got off. But my Grandad had the ear of the Minister and the Wizemgamot during old Lucius’ trial, and, voice trembling with suppressed rage, he had told the story of how, when my Auntie Ginny was a little girl of eleven, Lucius Malfoy had planted what was later discovered to be a Horcrux of Lord Voldemort into her collection of books, a highly dark and dangerous object which had controlled and manipulated her into opening the Chamber of Secrets, harming several students, a ghost and a cat, and which had nearly taken her own life.

It was this conviction that had secured Lucius’ fate. Mum told me she had worried this final defeat of a Malfoy by a Weasley would only encourage the blood feud to boil and overflow, but it had instead had the effect of putting an end to it. Once, when talking about this difficult subject of our families’ history with Scorpius, he informed me that he thought having a kid of his own had helped Draco to understand the rage Grandad had felt when his little daughter was hurt, and there was nothing he could have done to protect her. Scorpius himself said that he understood, that his grandfather was probably better kept locked up. He spoke of him without pride, but also without shame.

I had first seen Scorpius at Platform 9 ¾ on our first day at Hogwarts, though I had been mostly preoccupied with saying goodbye to Mum and Dad and trying to keep Aunt Ginny from crying quietly when she said goodbye to Albus. Al and I had joked about how we were going to face off to Malfoy and teach him to respect us Weasleys, but he stayed out of our way for the most part. Scorpius was Sorted into Slytherin and hung out with the other spawn of Salazar. He rarely raised his hand in lessons and we were never partnered together. He was, in short, completely harmless and boring for the first five and a half years of our Hogwarts education. He was good-looking in a wiry, pinched sort of way, and quite resembled a twelve-year old boy until he hit a growth-spurt at age fifteen and actually passed me in height- only by a few inches, mind.

The detention midway through sixth year was actually Maude’s fault, ironically enough. She was in the hospital wing with the flu and had begged me to fetch a book from the Restricted Section that she needed for her Defense Against the Dark Arts essay. Unfortunately, while she had permission to take out the book, I did not -I had a questionable library record and the ancient, withered librarian Madam Pince did not trust me in the slightest. So I had decided the best course of action would be to sneak into the library after lights-out and simply borrow the book and sneak it up to my poor, studious best friend who could not move three steps without depositing her supper on the pristinely polished wooden floors of the hospital wing.

This excursion had ended poorly, as these excursions are often doomed to do. I was spotted by that wretched poltergeist Peeves, who recognized me as Freddie Weasley’s cousin and loudly outed me to Filch, McGonagall, every single portrait surrounding the library and any other student who was sneaking around the corridors after curfew and now had ample time to creep back to their common rooms while I got in trouble. A yawning Nearly Headless Nick had done his best to cover for me by informing Filch that he had seen me sleep-walking, which was very noble of him but to no avail for the grudges of certain Hogwarts denizens. Fred, who although he had graduated several years earlier, had made a particular impression on Peeves after dyeing the poltergeist an obnoxious shade of purple for three weeks in Fred’s seventh year, and Peeves was eager to punish any associated with the ‘evil Weezlebee’ as he called him.

In turn, Scorpius was in detention for trying out a hex of his own invention on one of his mates which was supposed to simply turn the bloke’s head, hands and feet to face in the wrong direction. However, the spell had gone quite wrong and lead to the friend spending the next month in the hospital wing and Scorpius spending the next month in various detentions of varying levels of horridness.

The day we properly met the task was to go out into the Forbidden Forest and collect Moonroot, an herb that only appeared by the light of the full moon and was extremely rare and delicate. Hagrid had allowed us to bring his enormous boarhound, Molar, for the excursion, who licked my hand and provided no reassurance at all that he would offer any protection from vicious centaurs, werewolves, or the colony of enormous spiders which allegedly dwelt somewhere in the forest and haunted my poor Dad’s nightmares to the day.

Long, painfully adorable story short, an encounter with a misleadingly frightening creature rustling in the bushes led Scorpius to literally leap into my arms, terrified, which led to me laughing at him and our eventually snogging next to a large tree which provided shelter from prying eyes, but also turned out to be the Whomping Willow. Molar was no help in warning us about the tree: he was too busy drooling over a bone he had found in Hagrid’s pumpkin patch of a rather suspicious length and shape. Scorpius wasn’t a prime snogger at that point, but we had enough practice over the next year to considerably improve his talents.

Truth be told, a large part of why I liked Scorpius so much was because I knew Dad and Mum would not approve. It made sneaking around all the more fun, and hiding the relationship from all but our closest friends kept it fresh and exciting. Of course, my parents and the Malfoys had eventually found out, some in less graceful ways than others, but for the most part our relationship had been silly, sneaky and comfortable.

Scorpius and I got on quite well, fighting sometimes about pointless things which were often resolved, picking on each other’s weaknesses when we were stressed or irritated, usually helping one other through the pitfalls of our seventh year. Until that night in June, however, when everything had changed and let to an explosive fight in the middle of an emergency Potions revision session. Since the letter I’d received from him after his return from Rome, I hadn’t spoken nor seen hide nor hair of him. Which was why I was so unnerved to find out he had crashed Roxanne’s welcome-back dinner, in the company of my Slytherin cousin Lucy.

Bonjour, mes beaux cousins! French for 'Hello, my lovely cousins'.

Coming Up: Weasley is our Queen, Rose has a drink, and Richard has a strange visitor.

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