Let it be known that the Weasleys loved parties. And how could they not, with so many branches and extensions connecting them all into one? They had beach parties, pool parties, house parties, holiday parties of every sort, you name it. Trust Rose Weasley to throw their first boat party.
Rose had been in the water at a very young age, compelling her parents in her three-year-old way to take trips to the nearest beaches as often as possible. She was canoeing and kayaking by six, despite the fact that Teddy and Victoire always beat her in races due to their age-bred superior muscles. Back then, she gained a powerful ally in Al Potter, her cousin, who always paired up with her despite the fact that they always lost.
Rose could have been a swimming prodigy, and she was, but she lacked the interest. Where was the fun if she couldn't do it with her plethora of cousins? She spent more and more of her swimming time playing Quidditch with the family until it replaced swimming altogether. Her speed, quite a remarkable thing, made her a shoo-in for the chaser position, though she enjoyed keeping more.
All of which was to say that Rose loved the water. She felt at home in both salt and chlorine, waves and diving boards. It wasn't at all surprising that she had been looking forward to New Years more than Christmas for her hostess debut.
The waves rolled up and down, away from the boat. The sunset sky colored the sea in shades of red and orange and purple, contrasted by the white froth closest to the boat.
“So where, exactly, did you learn to sail?” asked one of the Scamander twins. Rose never could tell them apart without their Hogwarts uniforms; Lorcan had always worn his Prefect badge on his robes while Lysander was never seen without his yellow and black scarf, even on the most humid of hot summer days.
“A Muggle summer camp that my Grandpa Arthur read about. That was the year James ran away for ten months. It wasn’t pretty when he returned, so I got as far away as possible. Al stayed with Malfoy for the summer, I think.”
“So none of this is done by magic?”
“I’m not seventeen yet,” she laughed. “That would be illegal. I like doing it the Muggle way.”
Scamander nodded. An overhead light turned on unexpectedly, followed by a cry of “Sorry!” coming from Rose’s good friend Violet.
A Muggle-born, Violet had been heavily influenced by her actor parents growing up. Her mom had even participated in a Tony Award-winning production. Violet spent nearly all of her free time as a child involved with her community theatre, but the onset of an anxiety disorder had caused her to gravitate to the more technical side of theatre. These days, she was obsessed with it, often taking trips down to her community theater's rehearsals to help out; when they got the boat, the lighting and sound control room had been her first stop.
“It’s fine,” Rose called back as Violet chose a lighting selection at a less ridiculous level of brightness.
In the light, Rose could see that Scamander had light freckles dancing across his nose. Only one of the twins had them, and Rose thought it was Lorcan, but it could have been Lysander—
“Is this boat yours?” Maybe-Lorcan asked.
“No, no,” she answered, explaining, “James was trying to convince my dad to buy me one for my birthday, probably so he can borrow it for parties. Dad isn’t budging though. He spent many years with not more than a roof over his head and a Chudley Cannons poster on his bedroom wall, and just because we’ve got money now doesn’t mean he’s going to spend it lavishly.” Rose shrugged. She didn’t have a problem mentioning her family’s wealth because people already expected it. Her parents were Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger; having money was implied in the name, now recognizable in any household of the Wizarding World, near and far alike.
“It’s not too important to me,” she continued, “but having my own boat would be nice. Between you and me, I think Dad’s gonna crack. After all, I am his ‘baby girl.’”
As she talked, Rose moved around the boat, setting up the food table. She set out sodas, Butterbeer, and a few bottles of Firewhiskey and mead snatched from her parents’ liquor cupboard. Scamander helped her arrange cheese and crackers, fruit, chips, cupcakes, and the best assortment of candies from Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes on the table as well.
Rose looked around, surveying her work. The decorations were minimal since the boat was rented, but they were enough. Her parents, Aunt Ginny and Uncle Harry, Luna and Rolf, Uncle George and Aunt Angelina, and Uncle Charlie were upstairs, laughing and talking. It was an extension of the large Christmas party they’d had not a week before. The rest of them, all teens and twentysomethings, took over the deck, milling around and spiking their sodas.
Molly and Lucy and their parents had yet to show up, but that was normal since Uncle Percy insisted upon being fashionably late to any occasion. Albus, on the other hand, was unusually late. He usually came early because, even though they had classes together and saw each other all the time, he never turned down an opportunity to pay Rose a visit.
(Some of the adults liked to call them siblings even though they weren’t; others called them partners in crime, which didn't work because neither of them fit the bill. Rose never got in trouble, and Al was unusually tame for a Potter. His antics usually had something to do with playing dirty in Quidditch or planning mild pranks against his cousins with Malfoy.)
The sun had just disappeared beneath the horizon when the the Percy and Audrey gang arrived, followed directly by Al and...Scorpius Malfoy. Rose had left to undock the boat and set sail, so when she returned (Fred, who’d attended the camp with her, at the wheel), she had to do a double take. There weren’t many blondes at a Weasley gathering, and those were usually only Fleur and Bill’s children.
Frowning, she addressed her cousin. “You know, Al, when I said you could bring a plus one, I meant your girlfriend. Where’s Emilie?”
“Oh. We broke up,” he told her flatly. They would talk about it later, Rose was sure, but this was not the time.
“I’m sorry.” Maybe it wouldn’t have surprised her if she hadn’t seen Al and Emilie acting perfectly normal at Christmas. It hadn't seemed like anything was wrong, but things were always different behind closed doors. Growing up in a family as large as hers taught Rose that quickly.
To cheer him up, she added, “Is this your way of telling me you’re dating Malfoy now? How Romeo and Romeo of you.”
Al barked out a laugh. “You can check my porn collection if you don’t believe that I don’t swing that way.” Rose rolled her eyes at that obvious ‘no homo.’ “Can’t say the same about Scorp here, though.” Al pulled Malfoy into a friendly side-hug.
“If this is where the conversation is heading, I need to be more drunk than I am for this.” He walked over to the refreshments stand, somehow still looking polite as he grabbed a shot glass.
“You’re not drunk, Scorp,” Al stated.
“Exactly,” he called back and downed the Firewhiskey.
As the favorite cousin of Malfoy’s best friend, Rose knew he was bisexual. It wasn’t really that much of a touchy subject, from what she had been told, but he didn’t like to talk about it. Not surprising that Scorpius’ status-obsessed family had expressed disappointment, much as Draco had apparently straightened out.
“Is James here?” asked Al as Scorpius grabbed a Butterbeer and made his way back to them. Rose had hoped he wouldn’t ask that; she knew how close the two brothers had been.
“I didn’t invite him.”
Al’s face fell. “Oh. Right.”
James was the resident black sheep of the Potter-Weasley extended family. It was the fame, they said, the special attention. From the second he was born, the world expected so much from him, especially as Harry Potter’s first born child. When he became captain and star player of the Gryffindor Quidditch team, the world held its breath, waiting for James to either hit it big or crash and burn like one of those Muggle Hollywood stars.
James was a fantastic chaser, as good an athlete as his parents had been, but he wasn’t interested in playing professionally. He cracked from the pressure and ran away as soon as he graduated from Hogwarts.
James’ relationship with his parents had been destroyed, but Al and Lily still held hope that their brother would figure himself out. Rose pitied them, and she was thankful Hugo had a good head on his shoulders.
Rose heard stiletto heels approaching, and when she turned around, Violet was pulling Rose off to the side.
“What is Malfoy doing here? I thought this was a friends and family-only party!”
“He came with Al,” Rose answered. “I can’t kick him out. He’s Al’s friend, there, that works.”
“I’d expect the daughter of Hermione Granger not to be prejudice against Malfoys just because of the name,” Teddy Lupin said, sneaking up close.
“Teddy!” Rose gave him a giant bear hug worthy of Grandma Molly. “You made it!”
“I came with Victore and her family. She’s getting us drinks.” He leaned in. “So why do you hate that pretty face over there?”
“Scorpius is obnoxious. He’s arrogant like his father and think’s he’s charming in a gentlemanly way, but—”
“—and he makes perfect scores on pretty much every assignment he touches. He and Rosie Red are the smartest in the school, excluding Ravenclaws of course.That’s the real reason she hates him,” Al added, joining Rose and Teddy.
Scorpius followed and said, “You talking about me, Weasley? Only good things, I hope.”
“You can only put the words ‘good’ and ‘Scorpius Malfoy’ together if there’s a negation in the sentence,” Rose retorted.
Scorpius rolled his eyes and smirked. He was used to this coming from Rose. She was just jealous of his test scores. It was amusing, really.
Hours later, the party was still going strong as midnight creeped upon them. Al had disappeared with Violet, so the two people she most wanted weren’t around.
Rose wasn’t much of a partier, anyway. She always enjoyed Teddy’s parties, but maybe that was just because she just enjoyed his company. And his music taste. And it didn’t help that his girlfriend was excellent at mixing drinks.
Rose stirred her Butterbeer. Victore had added something—strawberry and rose, specially for her—that made her drink so delectable Rose almost didn’t want to drink it.
Rose had taken a shift of steering the boat. Fred deserved a break, and she didn’t have anything better to do.
It was a bit chilly out there; the wind had a bite to it. Luna was currently based in the southern United States, so it was hot, much more so than Rose was used to it being in the winter. They set sail from South Carolina as the last leg of their holiday in America. Rose was dressed for winter, yes, but she had naively left her cloak and Gryffindor scarf on land.
“Need this?” a voice quietly asked in the darkness. Rose tore her gaze from the waves to see Scorpius offering a fluffy mint green blanket to her.
“There’s a pile of them inside,” he explained.
Rose wordlessly took the blanket, blushing from the cold.
Uninvited, Scorpius took a seat next to Rose. The plush bench was damp from the sea spray. He took a sip of his drink and made a sour expression.
“Americans make tea weirdly.”
“Al gave it to me. He’s quite good at looking after me, actually. I’ve got to apparate back home to England soon and I can’t have Mum seeing me drunk, can I?”
“Didn’t you turn seventeen a month ago?” They didn’t talk about his belated party, in which everyone got wasted and trashed the Slytherin common room the last night before Christmas holiday. They were all nearly forced to stay at Hogwarts instead of departing to their respective homes, but, you know, Potters and Weasleys and a Malfoy. Sometimes powerful surnames came in handy. “How come you can apparate so well already?”
“Did you forget who you were taking to?”
“Right,” she said, matching his smirk. “Mr. Overachiever. Why do you care so much?”
“I’ve got to make my own way. The Malfoy name has a hefty reputation. I’ve got to prove them wrong. You?”
“I like learning—guess that's thanks to my mum. But, yeah, it's nice to know that whatever my future is, at least I'll earn it and not have it handed to me on a silver platter."
“Sure. As long as you don’t take what you have for granted.”
Rose peered at him, eyes narrowed and curious. “Are you calling me ungrateful?”
“No, not at all,” Scorpius languidly corrected.
“—because that would be James, who stole 25,000 galleons and double that in Muggle money from his parents when he ran away.”
“How can you talk about that so easily? He’s your family.”
“James made his message clear when he left everything and everyone he loved, twice. He doesn't want anything to do with 'family.'"
“Will things ever be able to go back to normal?”
Rose sighed. She wasn’t really up to this kind of heavy conversation, and she didn’t know why Malfoy was interested, but she continued nonetheless. “Maybe, but it’s between James and his parents. You know, he taught me most everything I know about Quidditch. I love him, but I don’t want to involve myself in any drama.”
“I understand. At my party, your cousin Louis tried to get Lily to mediate his fight with Lysander Scamander. Al and I were hanging out with her. She did her best, but you Weasleys are difficult. I don’t even remember what they were fighting about anymore, but Louis was unbelievably stubborn. Must be a Weasley trait.”
Rose’s mouth quirked. She remembered arguments between her parents that were more amusing than anything else because they were always about something stupid and both her mum and dad were unrelenting. “Must be why we’re all so good at Quidditch.”
“I’d wager that the Potters are better. And you cannot forget how good my father was.”
“Maybe this is just Weasley propaganda, but from what I’ve been told, your dad bought his way onto the team, and all of his wins were because he could afford better brooms."
"Alright, you got me there. He’s honest about his accomplishments now, if that helps. Not the same person he was when he was young, you know.”
Rose nodded. “I know.” After a pause, she asked, “Do you know why Al and Emilie broke up?”
“He cheated on her.” Scorpius’ voice was thick and heavy.
Rose let out a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding and sat back. “With Violet.”
Scorpius looked up at her, his head tilted the slightest degree. “How did you know about that?”
Rose groaned. It all made sense now. “Violet spent most of Christmas with her family, but she popped in for a few hours to give out presents to me and Al and some of our other cousins. Then she stayed over on Boxing Day and both of them were acting strange. They’re both weird people, so I thought it was nothing.” Rose seethed. “Fuck, they’re probably shagging right now.”
“And here I thought Al was smarter than that. Slytherin revenge bites. I’ve been on the receiving end of Em’s vengeance before, and I would not wish that on anyone."
“Maybe Al inherited my dad’s impulsiveness,” Rose suggested, rubbing her face. “I don’t know what he was thinking. He’s been in love with Emilie for a year. Violet’s great, but she doesn’t make his face light up everytime he sees her.”
They heard sloshy footsteps approach. “Hey, guys,” Al said, slurring only slightly. He sat on a bench opposite Rose and Scorpius. “It’s going to be midnight soon.”
“Yeah, I can hear,” Rose said tiredly. She heard loud Weasley shouts and softer ones (Molly, Lucy, Louis, Roxanne) trying to arrange everyone. Hugo, no doubt, was probably setting up the countdown. Soon enough the noise pollution increased in volume…
Ten! Nine! Eight!
"Are you crazy?"
“Me and Malfoy?!”
“Yeah! You two would be so cute together. Like, a Romeo and Juliet romance.”
“He’s drunker than I thought,” Rose muttered to Scorpius. Then, to her cousin: “First of all, if you’re going to reference Shakespeare, do it right. There is nothing romantic about that story. It lasted for four days and six people died.”
Four! Three! Two!
“They still loved each other,” Albus mused.
“Second, is that really what you want? Your two best friends, dating?”
“Guess not...you guys would argue too much.”
Scorpius snorted. “He’s not wrong.”