Chapter 25 : Epilogue
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“MacDougald, could you catch a goddamn reverse pass just once?” Fitz was shouting at the top of his voice.
Molly watched as Beathan called out an apology to him, but the Chaser looked hurt as she flew off. Beathan always took it a little bit personally when Fitz yelled at her, even though she'd been working through it with her therapist for months.
“Sign of affection, Beathan!” called Jinks from fifty feet above her.
Beathan seemed to ignore that, but Molly grinned up at their Seeker. The distraction made her not notice the Bludger coming right at her until the last minute. She ducked aside with a Sloth-Grip Roll, avoiding closed head injury by inches.
“Mrs. Fitzroy! Get focused before you get your effing head smashed in!” yelled Fitz.
She stuck her tongue out at him and then yelled back, “I didn't take your name, you git!”
He looked ready to smash another broom. He'd already broken two this season. “Get back to the goddamn hoops!”
“See?” said Jinks above her. “Sign of affection. Honestly, I think the word 'goddamn' is nearly ninety percent of his vocabulary.”
“True,” Molly agreed cheerfully.
“All right, all right.” Jinks flew off, leaving Molly alone at the hoops. She wiggled her fingers in a wave to her husband, and though he was still red-faced with rage, nostrils flaring, he managed to wink at her.
After training, he gathered the team round to shout at them some more. No one, in Fitz's opinion, was working like they should be, which he attributed to the week of downtime they'd had while their coach and captain were honeymooning. The Chasers hadn't flown the pattern they'd been assigned, the Beaters were clearly hung over, the Seeker was as useless as ever, and the Keeper was distracted.
Molly rolled her eyes at this. They'd been back from their honeymoon for less than a week. Of course she was easily distracted. Her brain was still in Fiji. Apparently whatever the team had been up to during their coach's absence had them all distracted as well.
“He should be more relaxed than this,” quipped Sid when Fitz took a breath between rants. “Clearly you have honeymooned incorrectly.”
“Bugger off, Sid,” Fitz said.
Molly grinned at Sid. “Don't look at me, he was relaxed when we left the South Pacific.”
“You should go back and repeat the experience until he can stay relaxed,” Jinks put in. “Or we could get him a drink. Do you need a drink, Coach?”
Fitz tossed his clipboard on the ground so he could throw his hands in the air theatrically. “You're all going to turn me into an alcoholic.”
“You'd match the Beaters, then,” said Jinks. “Functioning alcoholics.”
Duff made a rude hand gesture at him.
“Functioning,” Declan stressed. “That's the important bit.”
“Can we please work?” Fitz demanded. “Jesus Christ on a pogo stick, you lot-”
“What's a pogo stick?” Beathan asked in a stage whisper.
Sid shrugged. “It's one of those big round things Muggles jump on, isn't it?”
“That's a trampoline,” Zara stated.
“Then what the hell is a pogo stick?”
Since it was clear no one was going to listen to any further rants, Fitz dismissed them all. Molly blew him a kiss as she headed for the locker room. He rolled his eyes at her and then waved as he bent to retrieve his clipboard.
The boxes weren't entirely unpacked from combining their two flats into their new home. They'd bought a brick bungalow with a large garden that Molly was planning to transform into geometric designs in the plantings and perfectly symmetrical pathways. The house had plenty of guest rooms for the inevitable visits from family, whether intentional from Fitz's parents, or too-drunk-to-Apparate-home from Molly's cousins.
Molly was poring through training notes for the team, the sheets of parchment scattered over the coffee table, while Fitz stretched out on the sofa to watch the Appleby Arrows soundly thrashing the Ballycastle Bats. Molly tuned out his commentary on the two teams' performances, focusing on the word on the page so that she didn't even hear the doorbell.
“Look who's here,” Fitz called, and Molly looked up to see Roxanne standing at their front door with her arms full of notepads and books. She hadn't even noticed him getting up to answer the door, she thought ruefully. His writing style in his notes was very much like his speaking style, so it always drew her in.
Roxanne slid past Fitz and dashed in, setting everything on the coffee table as she plopped down on the sofa with Molly. She seemed very excited. Molly set aside the training notes she'd been reading over and gave her cousin a wary look.
“What's going on, Roxy?”
“I'm writing a new book,” Roxanne told her cheerfully, and began rummaging through her large orange tote bag. “About great romances among Quidditch players. So of course I want to do a chapter on you and Fitz. Aha, here it is.” And she whipped out a neon pink Quick Quotes Quill.
Molly had a feeling of dread as she stared at the quill. “What the hell-? Roxanne, absolutely not-”
Roxanne brushed off her refusal with her usual efficient and deadly single-mindedness. “Lie back and think of the book sales, dear.”
“Sure, your book sales.”
Fitz was frowning as he sat down in his favourite armchair beside the couch. “Roxanne, please don't. I don't want our personal life dredged up for display for the entire wizarding world.”
“Oh don't worry, I'll leave out mention of your ex-wife. Makes the love story better, and I don't have to worry about implying anything salacious.” She gave him a bright smile.
Molly's brows drew together. “Since when do you care about implying anything salacious?”
“Since my editor said it was actionable,” Roxanne admitted. “So, care to give any statements now? I haven't time for a complete interview but I was in the neighbourhood talking to that husband and wife Beaters team at Wigtown-”
“Wigtown is nowhere near here,” Fitz told her sternly.
“Nothing is anywhere near here,” retorted Roxanne. “You lot are in the middle of nowhere up here. I have to Apparate in three legs, it's so far out up here.”
Roxanne felt anything more than ten minutes outside of London was the middle of nowhere, reflected Molly, watching the Quick-Quotes Quill writing down everything her cousin said. In Roxanne's lexicon, however, 'in the neighbourhood' actually translated into 'I wanted to see you'.
Fitz was watching the quill as well, frowning. “I'll break that damn quill if you don't put it away.”
Roxanne snatched the quill out of the air and hugged it to her chest. “I love this quill. It cost me twenty Galleons. Perry will yell at you if you break it.”
Fitz rolled his eyes at her. “Perry told me he broke your last one himself.”
Roxanne gasped. “He didn't. Ooh, I'll get him for that-”
“Roxanne,” Molly began pleadingly.
“Don't be a twat, Molly,” Roxanne said as she tucked the quill away and pulled out a pencil stub instead.
“Please don't call my wife a twat,” Fitz said, looking pained.
“You called me a twat earlier today,” Molly pointed out.
“Yes, well, you'd let in four penalties in a row-”
Roxanne waved them both silent. “Look, I won't publish anything without you reading it first, I promise. It'll be brilliant, you'll love it.”
Molly doubted this very much. Most of what Roxanne wrote was carefully calculated to get more readers. Sensationalism sells, she always said. However, she wrote positive articles often enough that McCormack hadn't banned her from the Prides altogether, though only by the skin of her teeth, so Molly tried to think positively about her book idea. “How much of this book will be about us?”
Roxanne gave them an encouraging smile. “A few chapters. Everyone will love it. I won't write anything invasive, and like I said, you can read it first. It's the perfect time for this. Now you're married, it's a better story, and we want to capitalize on the timing. Everyone is interested in you two right now because you just got married. In a few months, no one will care any more.”
“One can only hope,” said Fitz.
Molly frowned. “Hang on, why is it a better story now?”
Roxanne rolled her eyes impatiently. “Because now there's wedding photos, you twat. Readers love wedding photos.”
“You are not publishing our wedding photos in your book.” Fitz was scowling at her cousin now as well.
“I'll pick flattering ones.” Roxanne was back to scribbling notes.
“Can't you do something about her?” Fitz asked Molly.
She shrugged helplessly. “You know what she's like.”
“So, can I interview you now or would you want to wait until the weekend?” Roxanne picked up a different notepad and flipped a few pages, apparently looking for something. “You can come to dinner on Friday, Perry's making curry. You'll love it, he's brilliant at it.”
“Can't on Friday,” Fitz informed her. “Parole, then dinner at Percy and Audrey's.”
Roxanne rolled her eyes. “Oh, right. Can't believe they might let him out. Also can't believe no press is allowed. Tell me everything?”
“Absolutely not,” Molly told her, but Fitz's lips quirked at the corners. Molly rolled her eyes at him. He was going to tell Roxanne everything about the hearing, because he loved to discuss Rakes's conviction for magical assault and causing permanent spell damage. It had been the highlight of last year, and Roxanne had managed three articles about it (Aunt Ginny had written one as well, not to be outdone by her niece).
Roxanne smiled at them, obviously interpreting his expression as a victory. “All right then, curry on Saturday, and you can tell me everything about how Rakes is staying in Azkaban for his full sentence. And give me that interview for the book.”
Fitz shook his head. “Look, I'll come over for curry, but I'm not doing any interviews.”
Roxanne set her pencil down and clasped her hands together, giving him a serious look. “Fitz, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but you're an arsehole.”
“That's not news,” Fitz assured her. “My wife tells me I'm an arsehole at least once a week.”
“Once a day, more like,” Molly said dryly.
“Come on, be a lamb,” Roxanne wheedled. “Let me interview you. If you don't give me any quotes, I'll just have to make something up.”
“She really will,” Molly told him with mock regret. “She has no class.”
“Class doesn't sell papers.” Roxanne grabbed her pencil and scribbled something down. “Come round on Saturday, you can eat curry and see how enormous Athena is now, and we'll do the interview.”
“We saw Athena last month, she can't have grown that much,” Molly remarked. Her goddaughter was tall for her age, but willowy thin. Enormous was not really the right word for her.
“There better be booze with this curry,” Fitz said suspiciously.
Roxanne left in a flurry of assurances that she'd only write good things, and after she'd gone, Molly slumped back into the couch cushions. Fitz sat down beside her and heaved a sigh.
“There's going to be a book about us whether we like it or not, isn't there?”
“A few chapters of one, anyway,” Molly agreed. “Knowing her, she's probably already got most of it written and only wants the interview to add flavour.”
On Friday evening, they went to dinner at Molly's parents' house. Lucy was already up on the hill around back when they arrived, so Molly headed straight for her sister while Fitz went to say hello to his in-laws. Stretching out beside her sister in the overgrown grass, Molly stacked her hands on her abdomen and stared up at the pale blue sky. It was unseasonably warm, reminding her of the hazy warm skies of Fiji. As much as she'd enjoyed her honeymoon, she'd been glad to get back to the bracing chill of Scotland.
“I told Fitz to join us up here after he says hello to Dad,” Molly remarked to her sister.
“That'll be nice,” Lucy said calmly. “Hilarion will come up, too.”
Fitz had always left them to it before, and Hilarion only rarely joined them, but Molly wanted to expand their little sisterly twosome to include their husbands, at least some of the time. Today seemed like a good day for it.
They lay in companionable silence beside each other as they had done since they'd been little girls, staring up at the sky, until footsteps drew her attention. Molly lifted her head enough to see her husband jogging up the hill toward then.
Fitz sat down beside her and leaned down to drop a brief kiss on the tip of her nose. “Your dad needs to mow the lawn, it's a foot high up here. Hilarion says he's on his way, as soon as Flora settles down. She was screaming her head off. I don't know what it was about, couldn't make out a word.”
“She's jealous because Mum and Dad pay attention to Josephine so much,” Lucy said without opening her eyes. “She asked us if we could take the baby back and get a new dolly instead.”
Molly grinned. “Ooh, she's terrible. Could be worse, though. Remember Uncle Harry said that James used to try to wrap Albus up like a parcel and send him away by owl?”
Lucy was chuckling, nodding her head, and Fitz let out a loud laugh. “You're joking.”
“You're lucky you're an only child,” Lucy told him.
Fitz was still sitting up, arms propped on his knees, and so he was the first to notice their new addition. “Here he comes. Guess Flora got over herself.”
Hilarion trudged up to them and collapsed next to his wife. “She fell asleep in mid-tantrum. Your mum thought it was sweet.”
“Mum is completely mental now she's a grandmother,” Molly remarked.
Lucy eyed Fitz. “Lie down, Fitz, you're doing it wrong.”
He rolled his eyes at his sister-in-law but lay back on the grass anyway, flat on his back beside Molly. “There, happy now?”
“Now you're getting the hang of the hill. Give us a confession,” Molly encouraged him.
“I already tell you everything, I don't have any confessions.”
“Not confessions, but we do have news,” Molly said, turning to face her sister now. “We went to the parole hearing today at the Wizengamot, for Rakes.”
“Back in Azkaban, is he?” Lucy didn't look at all surprised.
“How'd you know?” Fitz asked.
“Because you're not completely ballistic right now.”
He grinned widely. “Well, you're not wrong. He's got to finish the full four years.”
Lucy punched the air in victory, and Fitz gave his sister-in-law a fond smile. Lucy had followed Rakes's trial avidly, both because she wanted to see him put away for what he'd done to Fitz, and because she never wanted her husband playing on the same pitch as Rakes again.
“That's fantastic,” she was saying. “I knew they wouldn't let him out if you turned up and trotted out your injury.”
“Trotted out, eh.” Fitz turned to Molly. “It's always the quiet ones.”
“No such thing as a quiet Weasley,” she said. “Lucy just hides it better than the rest of us.”
That made him chuckle. Out of all the Weasleys he'd met since he'd known Molly, he had yet to meet one that was truly quiet. He'd thought Lucy was at first, until he got to know her better. Comparatively speaking, she was the most normal of the lot, but that wasn't saying much when you were comparing Weasleys. “Which reminds me, Roxanne is completely round the twist. I thought you should know.”
“What did she do now?” Lucy asked, stacking her hands on her abdomen. She didn't sound at all surprised that Roxanne had finally lost it.
“She wants to write a book about Quidditch love stories, and feature us,” Fitz told her.
Lucy looked delighted. “Oh, that's sweet.”
Molly pulled a face. “It's not sweet, it's annoying. She wants to interview us. You're lucky you're not a Quidditch player or she'd be coming after you and Hilarion too.”
“She already knows how we got together,” Hilarion pointed out. “She wouldn't even need an interview to write about it.”
“True,” Molly agreed. “I hate when she gets like this. I never like doing press interviews, they always take you out of context. It's worse when it's your cousin doing it.”
“Roxanne just needs a book to out-sell Dominique's, and then she'll relax,” Lucy remarked optimistically.
“I dunno,” Molly said doubtfully. “She's always been a bit mental. And I say that with love, cause she's my best friend. Totally bonkers, though.”
“So is this what you do out here, complain about your cousins?” Fitz asked. He turned his head in time to catch his wife nodding her agreement.
“Well, you brought it up, and we do that everywhere, but yeah. And share secrets and confessions.”
Lucy nodded at this as well. “Secret confessions are traditional on the hill.”
“I have one,” Hilarion volunteered. “I think we should have another baby.”
Lucy groaned loudly. “Already? I only just had Josie-”
“Maybe you should wait and see if Flora kills this one first,” Molly suggested.
“Maybe we should wait and see if I get thin again first,” Lucy added.
Fitz pursed his lips, staring at the sky. Admittedly, he didn't really remember meeting Lucy before her wedding and before she'd had her first child, but since he'd known her, she'd always been pleasantly rounded. He hesitated to say chubby, since Lucy took offense to that word when the press used it, but he'd never seen her actually thin.
Hilarion leaned closer to his wife. “I think you're beautiful. Fat, thin, pregnant, all the time, you're beautiful.”
“You think I'm fat,” she responded in annoyance.
“Stop talking, Hilarion,” Fitz advised him.
“Victoire is fat and Teddy doesn't care,” Hilarion pointed out despite this sound advice.
Lucy huffed loudly. “Are you saying I'm as fat as Victoire? She's had five and I've only had two. She weighs at least two stone more than I do.”
“Well, you only just had the second one. You've still got pregnancy weight around your middle.” He gestured vaguely at her belly.
“Seriously, shut up,” Molly told her brother-in-law.
“He thinks I'm fat,” Lucy exclaimed to the world in general.
“That's not what I meant to say,” Hilarion said, frustration evident in his voice, but then he finally saw the light and stopped talking.
“Kick him,” Molly suggested to her sister. “It'll make you feel better.”
Lucy punched her husband in the arm instead. “I can't help it if I'm not thin instantly like Dominique after I have a baby. I didn't get that gene.”
“She did lose that baby weight in a hot second,” Molly said thoughtfully. “I wonder if she saw a cosmetic Healer for that.”
“Probably,” Fitz agreed. He wouldn't be at all surprised if Molly's least favourite cousin had cosmetic enchantments done.
Lucy was frowning bad-temperedly. “No, you know Dominique. She probably just skipped pudding for a fortnight and lost it all. She's always got the luck. It's not fair. Everything works out for her. Everyone loves her.”
“I don't,” Fitz and Hilarion said in unison.
“No one likes Dominique, not really. They obsessively love her, like a celebrity. She doesn't have friends, she has admirers. Dominique has followers and minions. And people who hate her.” Molly let out a dramatic gasp. “Oh my God, she's Johnny Lupin.”
“Are you sure you want to combine your genes with this family again?” Fitz asked conversationally.
He blinked owlishly. “Well, yes.”
Lucy reached over to punch Fitz in the arm. “Don't tease him.”
“Notice she didn't actually defend Weasley genes,” Molly remarked.
“Was he teasing me?” Hilarion asked, sounding bewildered.
Lucy scooted closer to her husband, cuddling up against his side and murmuring something Fitz couldn't make out. Beside him, Molly tilted her head closer, so he leaned in.
“Want to chance combining your genes with the Weasleys?” she whispered.
“What, mixing a horrible temper with insanity and a double dose of poor self-control? That sounds like a recipe for success.” He winked at her and then answered with perfect honesty, “Yes. But not yet. I want a little longer of just us.”
Molly grinned and kissed him.
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