Chapter 5 : Cavemen
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Lily awoke three days before the wedding to the sound of an owl tapping at her window. Pushing her hair out of her face, she stumbled out of bed to open the window. The owl did not look familiar, and she frowned a bit as she unrolled it.
The frown deepened to a scowl once she'd started reading.
Bloody Dominique could ruin anything, even clothes. Lily loved clothes. What Lily did not love was dress codes. The parchment Dominique had sent over included a long list of bullet points of appropriate clothing to wear to the wedding. Avoiding drawing attention from the Muggles present was one thing; Dominique, however, wanted to control how all of her relatives presented themselves. Given that the letter included examples and instructions for both male and female dress, Lily could only assume everyone had gotten this. It seemed par for the course for Dominique.
Fully awake now, Lily headed for her living room and the Floo grate. Her brother Albus was first on the list.
“Did you get a list from Dommie?” she demanded as soon as he spun into view, sitting at his breakfast table.
Albus waved a sheet of parchment at her. “She doesn't trust us at all. First no wands, and now we've got dress instructions?”
“Bloody ridiculous. I know how to dress appropriately for a wedding.”
“I hope she didn't send this to Rose,” Albus remarked. “She'll see it as a challenge. Between her and Scorpius, they ought to be able to tick off every item on that list.”
Lily shook her head. “He'd never let her do it.”
Albus tapped the parchment and it burst into pink flames, smoldering quickly into ash on his plate. Lily watched this with satisfaction. She didn't want to burn hers yet, though.
“Who's your date, Albus?”
He assumed a serene expression that she found rather annoying. “No one you've met.”
She wrinkled her nose at him. “Loser.”
Lily pulled her head out of the fireplace and watched as the green flames died out, pursing her lips as she looked down at the letter from Dominique again.
All women must have natural hair color, with hair put up. No one may have unusual haircuts.
Makeup should be conservative, and lip color only in neutral shades of pink. Do not wear dark lipstick.
No smokey eyes or false lashes.
“Don't look prettier than the bride,” Lily muttered. “Don't have better makeup.”
As if Dominique wasn't hiring a professional to do her hair and makeup. Why did she have to make so many rules? If she'd just asked them all not to draw attention to themselves, to blend in with the Muggles, no one would mind. They were all already making the effort to do that, with approval by Aunt Hermione and Aunt Audrey, who were both Muggle-born and knew all about how Muggles dressed. Hell, Lily's father had been raised Muggle. He knew how to look like a Muggle when he wanted to.
Lily scanned the list of acceptable perfumes, dress lengths and fabrics, and color schemes. Mentally she compared these to her chosen dress. It fit all the criteria except length, since the skirt was above the knee. She wasn't about to change it now, though. The dress was perfect.
If Dominique tried to make her change it, she'd tell her mother. In fact, telling her mother now sounded like a bloody brilliant idea.
She rushed back to her room to get dressed.
When she arrived at her parents' house, Dominique's letter in hand, her mother was in the kitchen with Granny Weasley, both of them holding teacups as if they were shields and looking a little huffy.
Ginny poured a cup of tea and handed it to Lily. “Morning, dear.”
“Mum, look what Dominique sent.” Lily took the teacup and handed over the letter.
“Oh dear,” said Granny. “What's she done now?”
Ginny was scanning the letter with brows raised. “I can't say I'm surprised. You know she sent something to us last week asking your dad if he could hide his scar for the wedding?”
Granny Weasley looked horrified. “She didn't!”
Lily rolled her eyes. “Unbelievable. Dad isn't going to do it, is he?”
“He said he'd talk to Bill about it first. Why hide his scar when Bill can't possibly hide his?”
Explaining Uncle Bill's ruined face would be much harder than explaining Dad's scar, Lily reflected.
“The best he could do is some sort of Muggle-repelling variant,” Lily said thoughtfully. “So they forget his scars after they see them. Dad wouldn't have to go that far. His is much smaller.”
Ginny shrugged. “If Dominique insists, Bill will do it, but he won't be happy. And your auntie Fleur will have a few words for your cousin about it.”
“Your poor brother,” Granny sighed, sipping her tea. “Bless him, he does spoil that girl.”
“He spoiled Victoire just as much and look how well she turned out,” Ginny pointed out.
“True. And then there's Louis.”
All three of them heaved a sigh in unison for Louis.
“Well, don't worry about this,” Ginny told her daughter, tapping the letter. “You have excellent taste in clothing, and I'm sure whatever you're wearing will be lovely. Now, drink up. We're going shopping for your granny.”
Lily's eyes widened. “Dominique didn't make a rule for Gran, did she? She wouldn't dare.”
“Oh, I'll bet she would,” Ginny said briskly. “But she didn't. Gran needs new dress robes, that's all.”
Her grandmother huffed into her teacup. “We don't need to shop. It's a dreadful waste of money.”
“Mum, you're not going to wear those same robes to Dominique's wedding. You wore them to her first wedding, and to Lucy's as well.”
Lily eyed her grandmother worriedly. It was true, Granny had worn the same set of dress robes to both Dommie's and Lucy's weddings, and Victoire's as well, and every other fancy occasion that Lily could remember in the past ten years. Lily had never been sure if her grandmother simply loved those robes or if she didn't want to buy new ones. Granny Weasley was sometimes overly frugal with money, having spent a large portion of her adult life living in poverty, and now living on Granddad's pension, they didn't have much extra each month. It wasn't exactly something anyone discussed much, but Lily was aware that her parents (and her uncles) had been assisting her grandparents with money for years.
“It's just silly,” Granny muttered. “There's no need for it. I'm eighty-six years old, what do I need brand new robes for?”
“You've got a bit thinner lately, Mum. And this wedding is very fancy. We all need something new to wear.”
“Oh, pish.” Granny set her teacup down on the counter beside the kettle. Lily took her in, examining the familiar, sturdy little figure of her grandmother. She had got a bit thinner through the shoulders lately, and her limbs were starting to get that spindly look of very old age. It gave Lily a pang to notice it, and she reached over to give her grandmother a pat on the hand. Granny Weasley clasped Lily's hand for a moment, and her hand was reassuringly strong under the papery skin.
Ginny heaved a long-suffering sigh. Clearly Lily had interrupted an ongoing argument about the shopping. “Mother. I'm buying myself a dress. Let me buy you a dress as well.”
“I don't want you to spend your money on me. I can wear my old robes, they're perfectly good still-”
“Don't worry, Mum,” Ginny said cheerfully. “I'm spending Harry's money. You wouldn't want to disappoint him when he thinks we're buying you some lovely new robes for the wedding, would you?”
Granny frowned a bit and patted her white curls. She had a well-known soft spot for Lily's father. Lily could see it overriding Granny's determination not to spend money on fripperies. “Well...”
“We'll use my discount at Madame Malkin's,” Lily put in, throwing in her support. “And Dad can buy me a new dress as well.”
Her mother looked triumphant but hid it quickly. Having a discount was sure to sway Granny in their favor. As a purchaser for the robe shop, Lily had a significant employee discount. She was well accustomed to various cousins and aunts asking her to shop with them in order to take advantage of it, but she didn't mind. They almost always bought her lunch afterward.
“Come on, Mum.” Ginny put an arm around her mother's shoulders. “Let's go shopping.”
“Oh, I suppose so...”
Granny Weasley put up another fuss about the shopping once they were pawing through the racks at Madame Malkin's, but it seemed only a token effort now. Her eyes began to gleam as they looked through dozens of robes in watercolor pastels with embroidered floral designs. Lily selected a few with chiffon capelets in shades of blue, while her mother picked out greens and pinks.
“Oh, I've never cared for pink-” Granny began, but Ginny only shook her head.
“Mum, you haven't been a redhead in years. Try the pink.”
Once Granny was safely ensconced in a dressing room with a selection of gowns, Ginny and Lily collapsed onto one of the velvet-upholstered sofas nearby to wait for her.
“You'd think she hadn't been shopping since the nineties,” Ginny grumbled. “The way she carries on about the prices, honestly.”
Lily pulled her feet up underneath her, curling up on the sofa and making herself at home. She'd worked at Madame Malkin's for five years now, so it felt like home. The sales girls didn't even bother to try to make a sale, just let Lily have the run of the shop.
“Who are you bringing to the wedding, dear?” her mother asked while they waited.
“James's friend Hob.”
Ginny looked at her askance. “Really? Didn't he once jump off the roof and break his leg?”
Lily had forgotten about that particular story. “That was Hob?”
Ginny sighed. “Well, he's not the sharpest quill on the knarl, but he should be a laugh, anyway.”
“Fred set us up,” Lily admitted. “I didn't have a date on my own.”
“You could have just come with me and your father. Or I could've set you up with someone.”
Lily didn't want to know who her mother would've chosen for her. She didn't think a parental setup was good anyway. If she liked the bloke, she'd always have it in the back of her mind that her mother had picked him out. Like when she was a child and her mother picked out her clothes.
Ginny appeared to sense her reluctance. “Well, never mind. I'm sure you'll have fun with Hob. Did your brothers try to scare him off yet?”
“Of course. Idiots.”
“Hob knows those two, he won't be bothered.”
Lily didn't really care if he was bothered or not, so long as he showed up. James and Albus, on the other hand... “I wish they would stop doing that. It was one thing at school but we're too old for it now.”
“Think of it this way. Anyone you'd want to keep around will have to be able to stand up to your brothers. Those two behaving like cavemen ahead of time screens out the ones who wouldn't make it.”
“They are cavemen,” Lily muttered.
Ginny was warming to her topic. “And it's nice that they look out for you. My brothers did the same. Though your uncle Ron got pretty judgey about my boyfriends at school. He was jealous since he hardly had any girlfriends, just pined after Hermione most of the time. Anyway, James and Albus would always protect you if you needed it. Anything from a stern talking-to up to trussing a bloke up like a suckling pig, they'd do it.”
“It's when I don't need it and they do it anyway that annoys me,” said Lily.
“Ah, well,” Ginny said philosophically. “Brothers. They mean well, mostly. I'll talk to them and remind them you're not thirteen anymore.”
It seemed unlikely to do any good, but it was a nice thought. “Thanks, Mum.”
“Think of it this way,” Ginny added. “You've only got two brothers. I had six.”
Lily shook her head sympathetically. “It's a wonder you ever got together with Dad at all.”
Granny poked her head out of the dressing room. “I don't know about the color on these, Ginny dear.”
Ginny bustled off to assist her mother, and Lily heaved a sigh as she watched them fussing over the robes. Maybe her mother was right. Hob would be fun, once he settled down from being nervous that James and Albus would hex him, but she wasn't attracted to him in any case. After the wedding, she'd drop Hob and look for someone she was attracted to. She did want someone who could stand up to her brothers, that was true. Someone tough enough to not care what those two idiots said, but not so macho that Lily wouldn't like him.
Too macho was not her type.
She started making a mental list of what she wanted. Funny, sure. Smart. Able to fend off her brothers. Not overwhelmed by her dad. Not put off by Louis, or Rose, or Johnny Lupin, or any of her other mental relatives.
Maybe she ought to put out an ad in the Daily Prophet for some sort of cowboy. That sounded about right.
“Oh, forget it,” Lily muttered to herself, and went to talk Granny Weasley into something in a flattering blue.
The British and Irish Quidditch League normally only kept two Healers on call during a game. When the Falmouth Falcons were playing, they staffed five Healers. Hugo had his acid green leather bag slung across his chest, filled with the most commonly used potions and a few other sundries that might come in handy, as he relaxed in the coaches' box, waiting for the game to start.
Two of his fellow Healers were already in the box beside him. Dabney and Nutting were leaning against the wall at the back of the box, chatting quietly. Ottwell was always late, but Gwyneira ought to have been here by now. Among her few good qualities was punctuality.
But when Harvey Ottwell finally strolled in, it wasn't Gwyneira Griffiths beside him. It was Matty Chesebrough.
“Where's Gwen?” Hugo asked as Ottwell and Chesebrough joined him.
“She's got dragon pox,” Chesebrough told him. “I'm covering for her.”
“You're joking. Dragon pox?”
Chesebrough shook her head, her blonde curls bouncing around her shoulders. “She said she didn't get vaccinated as a child. Parents were a little nutty, I take it. Explains a lot, I thought. How're the teams looking?”
Hugo let the others answer that, more concerned with Gwen's illness. Dragon pox could take anywhere from three weeks to two months to run its course. Even if Gwyneira recovered on the faster end of that scale, it would be too late.
He was out a date for the wedding.
Groaning inwardly, Hugo turned back to the group to join in the plans of attack for the game. He was assigned to be the watchdog, sitting in the stand with the coaches for Falmouth and Puddlemere, to keep an eye on the game and play early triage. Having a trained witness was often vital when the Falcons were around, for identification of the injury source. Their team motto was even painted across the door of their infirmary.
Let us win, but if we cannot win, let us break a few heads.
Once the game was over and Falmouth had defeated Puddlemere (and broken a few of their arms, if not their heads), Hugo headed for Gwyneira's flat.
She took her time answering his knock, and once again didn't open the door.
“What the hell are you doing here?” she demanded, barely visible through the crack in the door. The bit of skin he could see was green and bumpy. “I've got-”
“Dragon pox. I heard. Can't believe you weren't inoculated when you were little.”
“Blame my parents. I do.”
Hugo tried to look sympathetic, since she was probably rather miserable (though how one could tell, he wasn't sure, given her usual state of being). “Hope it's a mild bout of it.”
She sneezed, shooting a few purple sparks out of her nose. “Yeah right.”
“Anything I can do?”
“You can leave me the hell alone.”
Hugo had a great deal of practice holding his temper. He considered it one of his finest achievements, in fact, considering what his sister and cousins were like. He breathed slowly through his nose to a count of three, then said calmly, “I was just trying to be polite.”
She snorted and rubbed her nose. A single spark rolled down the back of her hand, and she shook it off. “Don't bother. Look, if you're worried about losing your date for that wedding, don't bother with that, either. I've covered it.”
Hugo's stomach flipped. “You did? Who?”
“My cousin. She's nicer than me,” Gwyneira said disparagingly. “I told her the objective is pissing off your cousin, but I doubt she can manage it. I already passed on your owl with all the details, so she'll meet you at the international portkeys. I'm going back to bed now.”
The door closed, and he heard her sneeze again behind it, then her footsteps shuffled off.
Hugo gently banged his head against the putrid yellow paint of her front door. Gwyneira's cousin. God help him.
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