Chapter 1 : The Lucky Girls
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“I like the dollhouses, ladies,” he said to his daughter and niece, admiring the intricate device of purple packaging boxes from Weasleys Wizarding Wheezes which had been emptied of their magical contents and glued and stuck together to create two little cottages complete with cardboard furnishings. “Who lives here?”
“Matilda and Wilhelm, they’re married,” Rox said importantly, holding up two orange players in one hand. The orange-clad figures, clearly getting invested in the game, began to passionately kiss in the little girl’s hands. Nicky and Rox giggled and squealed, while Bill winced internally. He would have to have a word with the toymaker’s for what enchantments were age-appropriate.
“And in my cottage, it’s Alexandra and Ursula,” Bill’s daughter chimed in, pointing to her cottage, where two female figures were bustling about the cardboard home. She smiled up at him – his middle child, the happy one, showing three tooth-gaps and spaghetti sauce on her cheek. “They’re married too, Daddy.”
“They’re always competing with Matilda and Wilhelm for being the cutest couple,” Rox explained, grinning at Nicky. The two girls could not look more different, despite sharing one set of grandparents. While Rox’s corkscrew curls floated wildly about her face, Nicky’s red hair was very straight and orderly, though Merlin knew the girl liked to get grubby. Nicky’s skin was very pale, almost translucent, giving her more the look of a fairy child than a creature of flesh and blood, while Rox’s skin was warm as brown cocoa, and her brown eyes shone with an unassuming, bold confidence.
The girls were unusually reasonable when it came to little kids resolving their differences: if Rox and Nicky both wanted the blue popsicle, they would each offer it to the other one until one came up with the brilliant idea of splitting it in half and sharing. They had a joint collection of chocolate frog cards and painstakingly wrote letters – with their parents’ help – to each other every night by owl, just in case something interesting had happened. When Nicky had fallen off her broom and broken her arm, Rox had insisted in going to London to sit up with her cousin and read to her from Beedle the Bard while her family was nodding off in the other chairs.
Bill knew his daughter was lucky to have a friend like Rox.
Ten Years Later
Gracie pulled her lips away from Nicky Weasley, laughing as the redhead poked her in the ribs. The two had spent a quiet afternoon kissing and talking in the fifth year Gryffindor girls’ dormitory while Nicky’s dorm-mates were out enjoying the fresh spring weather by the Black Lake and avoiding Peeves, who had taken it upon himself to pelt Rox Weasley with unicorn dung filched from the forest. The poltergeist had special interest spot for the prankster’s daughter, who at that moment burst into the dormitory, giggling.
“Oh, hey, Gracie,” Rox said, pulling back the curtains on Nicky’s four-poster and perching on the side of the bed. Gracie smiled shyly and leaned back against Nicky’s pillows.
Nicky shoved Rox with her foot. “Gross, what’s in your hair? Get off my bed, poopy.”
“Peeves got the best of me this time,” Rox said with exaggerated grandeur. “What have you two been up to? Gracie, I told Nicky of my disappointment in having our weekly sleepovers cut short by your presence in my cousin’s bed.”
Gracie felt her face glowing red. Her relationship with Dominique was new and kept under the radar, since both girls were not quite ready to reveal the nature of their closeness to the entire student body. Noticing her girlfriend’s discomfort, Nicky nudged Rox with her foot again.
“Aw, Gracie,” Rox said, smiling at the other girl as she stood up, grabbing her towel from where it was draped over her four-poster. “I know not everybody is used to how detailed we talk-”
“More like how raunchy we talk,” Nicky interrupted, flinging back a strand of long hair. Her long legs were bare, and she stretched them up towards the ceiling, trying to touch her toes to the back wall of the bed in one a weird stretch.
“It’s fine, really,” Gracie laughed, putting her hand on Dominique’s thigh. “And you should teach your cousin how to properly shave her legs.”
“You mean without missing large strips like some sort of hairless skunk?” Rox smirked.
“You’re one to be talking about skunks considering the smell of your robes right now,” Nicky shot back, tickling Gracie’s ribs in retaliation for her comment. Rox winked across the room, and Gracie considered how lucky Nicky was to have such a wonderful cousin. When Gracie herself had come out to her own dorm-mates, the first question was if she watched them when they came out of the shower, but when Nicky had told her cousin she might be gay when they were twelve, Rox had only laughed and tugged the red hair and said of course, she already knew all of that. Rox had sat with Nicky and her family as the taller girl explained to them that she loved girls, she had always loved girls, and Rox was the one who explained to Nicky’s confused siblings that love was love was love, no matter what.
Things came to a head later that evening, when Gracie and Nicky were sitting in the Gryffindor common room, legs touching on the couch while Rox was sprawled with rolls of parchment covered in Potions notes.
“Bloody Dad didn’t even finish his N.E.W.Ts, it is not fair how Mum is making me take Potions,” Rox grumbled.
“But you’re almost done and then we can play Exploding Snap,” Nicky offered. Rox raised an eyebrow at her cousin, who nodded encouragingly.
“I’m going to run upstairs and grab a jumper,” Gracie said, leaning her hand on Nicky’s knee to prop herself up. She bounced out of the common room, but paused at the foot of the stairs when the sound of Nicky’s worried voice – her defensive voice, when she was upset or nervous about something – rang out. A couple of the boys had seen the gesture of affection between the two girls, and were standing over Nicky on the couch.
Gracie hesitated, unsure of what to do. But as she watched, Rox jumped to her feet, holding her wand loosely.
“People like you make me sick,” the dark-haired girl said powerfully, and her voice rang out over the silenced room. “If you can’t find anything better to do than pester my wonderful cousin, then I’ll be thrilled to give you something more interesting to stare at.”
Rox flicked her wand, pulling Nicky by the arm and marching her towards Gracie. Behind her retreating back, the three boys screamed as their robes flew open and their trousers and pants fell about their ankles. The boys cursed and turned bright red, trying to shield themselves from the laughter and shrieks in the common room. Gracie was both shocked and amused at Rox’s daring.
“You probably didn’t need to go that far,” Nicky said reproachfully, but she rested her head against her cousin’s curly head of hair for a moment, hugging her.
Rox grinned. “Figured you two should see at least one of those,” – she gestured in the direction of the half-naked blokes – “in your lifetimes.”
“Once was enough for me,” Nicky countered back, giggling.
Sixty Years Later
In the corner of the lobby which showed the most sunshine, two old women had their heads bent closely together. One had soft, silver hair curling at the back of her neck, while the other’s tight curls showed signs of their former volume. As the receptionist watched, the taller of the ladies wiped a tear from her eyes, then leaned her head against the other’s. A wedding band glittered from her finger.
“I loved her for so many years, you know,” the widow said, her words drifting across the flowers and the picture frames and the solemn marble floors. “I don’t know if I can go in there – in front of all our friends, and family-” she gulped on her tears. Both women were dressed in mourning black.
“Of course you can, because I’ll be right there,” the woman called Rox told her best friend. She stood up, leaning heavily on the couch, and balancing on her cane, she held out her hands. “And any time you feel you need a break, we’ll come out here and laugh about Lily’s frilly skirt. We’ve got this.”
The receptionist watched, compassion in her gaze, as the two aged cousins shuffled into the room where the casket and guests were waiting.
How lucky she is, the receptionist thought, to have such a friend.
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