Chapter 1 : Take Your Places
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Mr. and Mrs. William Arthur Weasley
request the pleasure of your company
on the occasion of the marriage of their daughter
Baron Reinolt Greville Hendrik Van Laren
at Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam
on Saturday, June 10th at 2 p.m.
Please RSVP via owl at your earliest convenience
And please, no wands at the wedding
“Contract your deltoids- these muscles-” Hugo Weasley poked at his patient’s back to demonstrate “-while you raise the dumbbell. Like so.” He guided the path up to maximum height and then sat on the floor to watch while the patient completed the exercise. Hugo ran a hand through his close-cropped red curls as he settled on the purple carpet. It had been a long day, and his acid green Healer's robes felt rather as if they were melting onto his body, he'd been wearing them that long.
“Did you get your invitation from Dominique yet?” His cousin Molly, sitting beside him on the floor, rolled her eyes theatrically. Molly had recently shaved her dreadlocks off, and the bare growth of red stubble emphasized her blue eyes, especially when she rolled them like that. “She slipped in a note telling me to make my hair normal again. And there was actual gilt on that bloody invitation. Real gold. Honestly, I’m only surprised it took her this long to use it. Probably it'll be on all her Christmas cards now.”
“Well, she’s marrying a title. I'm sure appearances have to be kept and all that rot. And Dominique turning bridezilla shouldn't come as a surprise. She's been a bridezilla since she was twelve.” Hugo kept his eyes on his patient. “If you can take it a bit higher-”
A low groan sounded. “Kiss my arse, Hugo.”
“He’s very rich, according to Roxanne,” Molly said to Hugo, then added encouragingly, “You’re doing very well, you know.”
This was greeted by a profane mumbling that made her grin. Hugo didn’t comment about Dominique’s impending leap to extreme wealth, instead watching his patient closely. This particular patient had been one of his more difficult cases, with each gain hard-won through gritted teeth and determination and a strong resolve not to punch anyone in the jaw, and that was just on Hugo's part.
“Two more. Good. And on this final raise, let’s hold the contraction and try to raise up just another inch-”
The patient grunted, and the dumbbell went up half an inch higher. Molly and Hugo cheered in unison. The dumbbell hit the floor, and Riordan Fitzroy rolled onto his back and gave them the finger.
“You’re both goddamn sadists,” he told them, and began to rub his shoulder. “Are we done? This is worse than spell treatment.”
Molly sat up onto her knees and leaned forward to kiss him. “Well done.”
“You should be very proud of your progress,” Hugo added.
“Bugger off. Which one is Dominique?” Fitz asked.
“Long reddish-blonde hair, big blue eyes, smiles like she wants to eat your soul,” Molly told him.
“Oh, that one.” Fitz didn’t offer an opinion about their cousin, but since most people either completely fawned over or didn’t much care for Dominique, Hugo took this to mean he didn’t like her. With Dominique, it was always one or the other: few people were neutral about her. They loved her or hated her. Except her cousins, who managed both simultaneously.
Of course because she was his cousin, Hugo dutifully loved her. And avoided her whenever possible. “Any chance of ditching her wedding?” he asked wistfully.
Molly gave him a look. “Hugo, you know what Aunt Hermione would say.”
Hugo contemplated his mother’s likely reaction if he didn’t turn up at Dominique’s second wedding and pulled a face. She would kill him, then revive him so she could kill him again. “It’s not fair. I went to the first one. I was well-behaved. Why am I being punished?”
“Is she likely to have hot friends as her bridesmaids?” Fitz asked.
“Instead of her cousins? Of course.” Molly grinned at him. “Want to be my date? I’ll let you ogle the bridesmaids if you let me ogle the groomsmen.”
“Deal,” Fitz said, and leaned over to kiss her. “Where is this wedding?”
“Amsterdam. She’s marrying a baron in some bloody gigantic church.”
“A Dutch baron. That sounds about par for the course for her. I’ve never been to Amsterdam,” Fitz said thoughtfully. “I heard you can buy powdered dragon claw in the supermarkets there.”
“You can buy all sorts of stuff there,” said Hugo, who had been to Amsterdam several years back. “All kinds of illegal substances. And as your primary care Healer, I cannot recommend that you ingest, inhale, or otherwise use substances not approved by the Ministry of Magic. But as your girlfriend’s cousin, I’ll give you a list of recreational stuff the League doesn’t test for.”
“The League doesn’t test coaches,” Fitz pointed out.
“Oh, so you think you’ll be going around smoking things without me?” Molly winked at him. “Hugo, you have to come to the wedding. It’ll be miserable if we’re not all there. Roxanne says Fred is going, and where Fred goes, James goes, and if James is going, Albus will go.”
“It’s like a domino effect for Weasleys,” Fitz quipped.
Molly rolled her eyes at him. “My point is, you’ll miss out on the craziness if you’re not there. Besides, Louis will be there too. Dominique can’t avoid inviting him, he’s her baby brother. Someone has to be able to revive him when he inevitably overdoses on powdered whatever because some witch talked him into it.”
Hugo groaned. This was entirely true. His cousin Louis had infamously bad taste in women and an incredible ability to attract them in droves. He’d been arrested any number of times, hexed, stuffed in a car boot, thrown into a river, and on one memorable occasion, shot in the arse by a Muggle husband while climbing out a bedroom window. Louis, of course, claimed he hadn’t known the woman was married, and that he’d been in love. Louis was always in love. Louis was perfectly capable of falling in love within five minutes of meeting a woman.
“He would overdose, wouldn’t he,” Hugo said glumly. “That’d be right up his alley.”
“It’s only a matter of time. You should be on hand just in case. You’re the only one with real medical training.”
“Your cousin Louis makes for a good cautionary tale,” Fitz remarked. “We ought to do a training film about him for the Beaters. I’d call it 'The Benefits of Sobriety'.”
“Good luck getting that lot to stop drinking,” said Molly. “They're professionals.”
“Professional athletes or professional drunks?”
“Isn't that the same thing?”
“What about that note at the end?” Hugo put in, attempting to return to the original topic. “No wands at the wedding.”
“That’s likely,” Molly retorted. “Imagine telling Uncle Harry he can’t bring his wand anywhere he likes.”
The thing was, Dominique had the balls to do exactly that. Hugo was fairly sure what his father would do - sneak his wand in anyway - and wasn’t even so sure his mother would abide by that rule. Uncle Harry, of course, would bring his anyway and not give a damn what anyone said.
“Will you leave your wand at home?” Fitz asked, aiming this question at his girlfriend.
Molly made a tchah! sound. “Absolutely not. I'm bringing it along. I'll leave it in the hotel room or something for the actual ceremony so Dommie can be happy. And you leave yours as well.”
“What about the powdered dragon claw? Do we have to leave that in the hotel room?”
Hugo left them to it after that. Molly was one of his favourite cousins, but Hugo didn't want to know if she was planning to violate any Quidditch League rules while she was in Amsterdam. As one of the League's Healers, he had a duty to report such things. Fortunately, Molly was unlikely to actually misbehave. She had, after all, been Head Girl in her day. She was more likely to play designated Apparator while Fitz smoked mysterious plants and drank dodgy potions, and steer him away from the addictive items.
Molly was a rule-abider. Hugo did his best to be one as well. He'd had his moments in Hogwarts, but he was an adult now, despite his best efforts to the contrary, and an authority figure as a Healer.
Besides, he was the good child.
His flat was quiet when he unlocked the door, sweeping his wand across the locks and listening to them click and clatter open. No one waited for him behind the locked door, only an empty flat with an assemblage of comfortable but unfashionable furniture. Several paintings by his sister's boyfriend were the only décor on the walls. A book on the coffee table contained an assortment of family photos, because while he was a bachelor, he was still a Weasley.
And family was important.
Groaning, Hugo flopped down onto the red plaid sofa. He was going to have to be a responsible grown-up as usual, a dutiful family member, and go to the damn wedding, whether he wanted to or not.
Lily Potter hurried up the garden path to her grandmother's house, picking her way through the puddles from the afternoon rain. Her bright pink dragonskin boots almost glowed in their reflections on the wet flagstones as she dodged the puddles. Lily pushed her cat's eye glasses back into place. They didn't fit her properly so they always slid down her nose, but she didn't care because they looked adorable.
Travails of being the fashionista in the family.
There was no need to knock. Lily went in through the kitchen door and brushed some raindrops off her purple houndstooth coat. Her parents were sitting at the table, drinking tea and laughing with her uncle Ron. Aunt Hermione sat beside them at the head of the table, a mug of tea forgotten in front of her while she pored over a large stack of parchment.
They greeted her with smiles and invitations for tea, except Aunt Hermione, who did not appear to have noticed her arrival.
Ginny Potter slid a mug in front of her daughter and reached for the teapot. “I didn't know you were coming by, dear.”
Lily had been bored at home, with no one to talk to, but she didn't want to admit that to her mother. It would only result in more parental check-ins than she already received. “Thought I'd check in on you, but you weren't at home.”
Her father smiled at her, eyes twinkling. “Good of you to keep tabs on your aging parents.”
Lily rolled her eyes and sat down. “What's that Aunt Hermione's looking at?” she asked as she wrapped her hands around the deliciously warm mug of tea.
“Dominique's pre-nup,” Uncle Ron told her, giving the pile of parchment in front of his wife a sidelong glance. “Can't believe she's actually going to sign that bloody thing.”
“Not until Hermione's been through it with a fine-tooth comb,” Harry said smugly.
“Your uncle Bill asked if she'd mind,” Ginny added, directing her comment at Lily.
Aunt Hermione blinked and looked up suddenly. “Hand me that notepad, Ron.”
He grabbed a small notepad from beside the teapot and handed it over.
“I just thought of a few more clauses for Dominique's protection to add. They've got the usual stuff about how much for sons and daughters and all that, infidelity, sterility, et cetera, but I don't see anything about indictments or criminal activity. Better make sure something is included for that.”
Lily tried unsuccessfully to suppress a grin. “Considering how her first husband turned out...”
“Lily,” her mother said severely.
“Well, she's not wrong,” chuckled Uncle Ron.
Dominique's first husband had been arrested in a corruption scandal with a woman later arrested for international crimes ranging from illegal weapons trade to murder. Lily winked at Uncle Ron and took her mug off to the parlor to see if her grandparents were around.
Dominique herself was in the parlor, in an expensive-looking tea gown, a confection of silk chiffon in a pale aqua that flattered Dominique's red-gold hair and pale complexion. Lily recognized the design from Paris Fashion Week and tried not to hate her cousin a bit because she owned that dress and Lily didn't. Dominique was pacing around in her gold leather heels, tossing off wedding reception instructions to a Quick-Quotes Quill floating in the air near her. The quill matched her dress. Lily sighed.
Dominique's much less intimidating older sister was sitting on a sofa nearby, wearing a battered set of burgundy robes that set off her flaming-red curls in an interesting, if probably unintended, way. Victoire Lupin hoisted herself from the couch and came over to give Lily a hug. “Didn't know you'd be here. Don't mind the bride-to-be, she's in planning mode.”
Lily patted Victoire's shoulder a bit awkwardly until her cousin let go. Victoire was pregnant, again, and when she hugged you, the hard mound of baby bump pressed rather uncomfortably. “Just popping by. Is Gran about?”
“Upstairs having a nap.” Victoire winked conspiratorially, then added in a whisper, “Dommie was giving her a headache.”
“Good morning, Lily,” Dominique said, drawing their attention. Dominique's articulation was picture-perfect, like a Muggle newscaster. Her vowels were rounded perfectly, her consonants flawlessly enunciated.
Dominique was exhausting.
“Oi,” Lily returned, giving her cousin a determined smile. “Where's the little one?”
“At Victoire's, playing with Dora.”
Victoire pursed her lips. Lily assumed this meant Dora Lupin was terrorizing Thornton Campbell in some way, and resolved once again not to visit Victoire unless she was sure all of Victoire's children were asleep. All the Lupin children were proper terrors, and Dora in particular was a tiny tyrant dressed perpetually in pink tutus, a sparkly pink toy wand clutched determinedly in one fist, rather like a truncheon.
“I haven't received RSVPs from everyone yet,” Dominique remarked, obviously eager to get the focus back on her wedding. She'd been the same way the first time she'd got married, Lily reflected.
“I'm sure everyone is coming,” Victoire said soothingly. Her sister did not look soothed, and fired off a few more instructions for the wedding dinner to the Quick-Quotes Quill while Victoire returned to her seat on the sofa. Lily sat down beside her, glad for Victoire's presence. As the eldest of the Weasley grandchildren, she had been their leader by both default and inclination for as long as Lily could remember. Victoire was a mother hen.
“Albus wasn't going to come,” Lily told her under her breath. “Mum told him he had to.”
“Teddy doesn't want to go either,” Victoire whispered. “He was hoping to use the pregnancy and the children as an excuse. Unfortunately, Dominique arranged a sitter for the children during the ceremony.”
“Lily, who are you bringing?” Dominique asked then, interrupting their muffled conversation. “I can set you up with someone appropriate so you don't have to be alone.”
Lily bristled. “I don't need a fix-up, Dommie.”
“I'm just looking out for you. I know what a hard time you have finding a boyfriend. Especially one who's appropriate to bring to a family wedding. Oh,” Dominique added in a different tone, turning to her sister, “and did we get an RSVP from Hilarion yet?”
“Lucy and her husband are coming, yes.” Victoire was starting to look rather annoyed.
Lily glared at Dominique as she paced in those gold heels and that silk dress, and fingered her wand. One little hex, no one but Victoire would know...
Instead she picked up the book of wedding plans lying on the table and paged through it. Dominique was a snob, but she was a snob with excellent taste and an extensive budget, thanks to her affianced husband. Everything in the book was tasteful and elegant. Lily sighed inwardly. There were four pages of options for bridesmaid dresses, each more beautiful than the last.
“Aren't those lovely?” Victoire asked, seeing Lily stop on one of the pages featuring a cobalt blue gown shot with gold threads ending in starbursts on the skirts.
“Gorgeous,” Lily said enviously.
“They're going to look beautiful on my bridesmaids,” Dominique said with satisfaction, peering down at the image of the dress. “All six of them have blonde hair almost the exact shade of gold on that embroidery, it's going to be gorgeous in the photos.”
Though she'd guessed she wasn't serving as bridesmaid since Dominique had failed to mention it until now, it still stung a bit not to be asked. Lily pursed her lips and tried not to think about how well she wore cobalt blue. “I'm sure they'll be wonderful.”
“I selected the bridesmaids very specifically. I wanted a matched set – oh, look here, see the shoes I've chosen for them-” Dominique flipped a page, and behind her Lily saw Victoire pulling a face.
She tried not to laugh. “The shoes are gorgeous too, Dommie.”
“Everything will be so coordinated. Obviously I couldn't have you lot, I mean Victoire will be nearly to term so she can't stand up for me, and Molly, well, have you seen her hair lately?” Dominique rolled her eyes theatrically. “I mean, really.”
“You know Molly would happily regrow her hair and style it however you liked if you only asked her to,” Victoire said steadily. She did not look pleased with her sister.
“I just want everything to be perfect so we can have the best start possible.” Dominique flipped another page and showed Lily a photo of an elegant and antique-styled sapphire and gold parure. “I'll be wearing this. It belongs to Reinolt's mother, the dowager baroness. I planned the bridesmaid colours around it.”
There was even a tiara in the parure. Lily had to make an effort not to hate her cousin a little bit.
“I don't see why you couldn't have your cousins as your bridesmaids, even if you don't want my fat pregnant belly up there beside you.” Victoire was eyeing her sister again. “If you wanted matching hair, you'd have it. And gingers look lovely in that shade of blue.”
“It's one of my best colours,” Lily murmured, grateful that Victoire was willing to stand up to her sister.
Dominique sniffed. “I just can't be sure of everyone's good behavior. Obviously Lucy would act like a lady, but, well, she wouldn't fit the dress. Lily, I'm sure you could learn-”
Lily gave her a look, and Dominique went on as if she had no idea what she was saying was rude.
“-and Molly could probably manage it if she would only put her hair right and take out some piercings, but she's got that tattoo all over her back and the dresses are strapless. Then Rose, well, obviously I couldn't ask her. I couldn't even invite her without making sure there was a sitter for all the children.”
“Rose knows better than to bring her son to a wedding,” Victoire said evenly.
“You brought Johnny to Lucy's wedding, and look what happened,” her sister reminded her.
Lily pictured the tidal wave of spilled punch soaking half the guests at Lucy's wedding thanks to Johnny Lupin, and wondered if she could bribe Teddy into setting his son loose at Dominique's wedding as well.
Victoire's ginger eyebrows drew together. “Lucy said I could bring the children. And most of those stains came out-”
“Well, you're actually a good mother, though, and look what happened anyway. If that's what can be expected-”
Victoire scowled. “What are you saying, Dommie?”
“I'm only saying, if you couldn't manage to adequately watch your children at a wedding, of course Rose isn't going to be able to.” Dominique rolled her perfectly mascaraed eyes theatrically. “I mean, honestly. She's not a very good mother, is she?”
Lily's eyes were wide with horror that she was actually related Dominique, and then a noise behind them made all three women turn toward the front door.
Rose Weasley was standing in the doorway. From her expression, it was clear she'd overheard everything. Standing behind her was her boyfriend, Scorpius Malfoy, holding their son in his arms and wearing an expression of deep loathing as he regarded Dominique.
“Rose-” Victoire exclaimed, struggling to get up from her chair.
Rose turned on her heel, snatched her son out of Scorpius's arms, and stalked off through the parlor. Scorpius looked at Dominique as if he'd like to hex her, but he turned and followed Rose without a word. Lily could hear Rose stomping up the stairs and the faint murmur of Scorpius's voice.
“Dominique,” Victoire said sharply. “You should go and apologize at once.”
Dominique affected an expression of hurt. “I'm only being honest. It's a real concern for me as the bride.”
Lily mimed throwing up, then slid out of her chair and left. Maybe not being invited to the bridal party was best; at least this way, her involvement with Dominique was limited to attending the wedding and maybe wishing her well at the reception.
Or wishing her something at the reception, anyway. Well might be too strong a word.
In the kitchen, Lily's mother looked up when she came in and took in Lily's expression. “Oh dear,” she said. “What happened?”
“Dominique, eh?” asked her father rhetorically.
Rose came storming through then, her son still clutched in her arms and Scorpius trailing behind her. Uncle Ron moved to stand up, but Rose was out the door before he could get to his feet. Scorpius flashed an apologetic smile over his shoulder as he jogged after his girlfriend.
“What happened?” Ginny repeated warily.
Lily relayed what Dominique had said about Rose, and Ginny and Aunt Hermione exchanged a glance. Harry didn't look surprised. None of them did, really. Dominique being a bit of a bitch was not really news in the Weasley family.
Uncle Ron rubbed a hand over his face. “Reckon we ought to talk to Bill?” he asked his wife.
“They're not children. We don't need to go tattle to her father, even if he is your brother. Rose will deal with Dominique in her own way,” Aunt Hermione said wisely.
Lily and her mother snorted in unison.
“Oh, I'll just bet,” Lily chuckled. “Dommie's lucky she didn't get hexed.”
Victoire stuck her head in the room. “Did Rose leave?”
“Yes.” Uncle Ron eyed her. “Your sister-”
“I know, Uncle Ron.” Victoire disappeared back into the parlor.
Uncle Ron huffed over this and stuffed a biscuit in his mouth, mumbling about Dominique under his breath. Aunt Hermione rolled her eyes at him and went back to scribbling notes on Dominique's pre-nup.
“Staying for dinner?” Ginny asked.
Dominique didn't seem to be going anywhere, so Lily decided she was. “No, I'll pass. I just wanted to check in on you lot, make sure no one's gone senile yet.”
“I'm going to start wearing my underpants on my head just to see what you do,” her father informed her gravely.
“I'll put you in a very nice facility, Dad,” Lily assured him.
Her dad grinned widely at her. “I knew I could count on my only daughter to take care of me in my dotage.”
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