A/N: Hello readers! This is the sequel to Deceptive Natures, but you don't really need to read the first one to understand this one.
Sorry I was away for a while, I just wasn't in the mood for typing anything I'd already started. I half wrote a bunch of things I'll probably never publish though. Anyway, novel writing month has me back in the typing habit, so you're going to be seeing a lot more of me.
This isn't betaed, so any mistakes are entirely my fault.
Rose woke up to quiet voices filtering up the stairs. It sounded like Scorpius had company in the middle of the night. Without telling her. That probably didn't bode well. Frowning, Rose felt the covers beside her. They were cold.
She put on a robe, grabbed her wand and padded down the stairs. From almost two years of practice, she knew which steps creaked and where to put her feet to walk soundlessly. She and Scorpius had a game of always trying to sneak up on one another, a game that both had them more alert at all times and taught them how to move with complete silence in their own home.
"You can't tell Rose about this."
Her eyebrows rose at the whispered plea. It wasn't Scorpius speaking and it was hard to tell from just a whisper, but Rose was pretty sure she knew the identity of their late-night visitor. What she didn't know was why in the world her brother was visiting Scorpius in wee hours of the morning and begging him to keep something from her. Sure, the two occasionally had a beer and a chat, but Scorpius just wasn't the type to entertain all that often and Rose wasn't overly close with her younger brother.
Hugo was the dependable child, the one their mum was always praising for his accomplishments. He was responsible and studious, studying his way towards a career as a Healer. In a few years, Rose was confident that he'd be known around the world for some medical advance or another once he started applying all of his new learning to actual diseases. Already he had quietly discovered a treatment of hay fever that was doing wonders for allergy sufferers everywhere. He was the responsible, law abiding one that was going places.
So it was particularly startling for her to see her brother sitting on her sofa wearing a bed sheet toga that was stained with what looked like blood down the side. One of his eyes was blackened and his lips were split, but from what Rose could see, most of the blood wasn't his.
"I'm afraid she already knows," Scorpius said. He turned around and raised his eyebrows at his lurking girlfriend. "Are you going to join us or just peek around the corner trying to gather information that we'd willingly tell you?"
Hugo paled. "I didn't say that I was willing to tell her. I just asked you not to tell Rose."
"And I didn't tell her anything. You were here; she overheard it on her own."
Rose sat down beside Scorpius and lifted one of his arms to snuggle into his side. There was a fire in the grate that warmed the room somewhat, but Rose had caught a chill sleeping in their bed all on her own in the middle of the coldest winter that she could remember.
"I think one of you needs to start talking," she said once she was settled and feeling a little warmer.
While he had been large when he was fifteen, Hugo was absolutely massive now that he was fully grown. Scorpius was tall, but Hugo was much taller and almost twice as wide. Upon first glance, people often assumed that he was someone who spent their time wrangling dragons like their Uncle Charlie had until one of his dragons bit off his arm and he was forced to retire.
These people were horribly wrong. Hugo was a gentle giant, preferring to spend his time using his brain to help people instead of his strength and size to intimidate. This made his injuries all the more baffling. He just didn't fight, even when provoked.
It was Scorpius who answered her question; Hugo seemed pretty content to just stare miserably at his feet in silence.
"It seems that Hugo here and his friends got up to a little gambling last night."
"Is that all?" Rose asked, impatient to get back to her nice warm bed. "So give him the money he lost and we can work on something to take the winner down a few pegs tomorrow, once the sun comes up and I've had at least one cup of coffee."
Both Rose and Scorpius had more than enough disposable income to their names. Some of the money came from Scorpius' job at Gringotts, where he specialized in helping other people make good investment choices, but he did that to give himself something to do and because he liked numbers, not to make money. Some of it was obtained by less than legal means, but nothing too horrible. Mostly, it was Scorpius' knowledge of clever investments that led to their high net worth.
Hugo groaned and put his head in his hands. "It's not that simple."
"Then explain it to me."
"As a wedding present, he bought the farmhouse Henrietta's grandparents used to own," Scorpius said when Hugo seemed content to wallow in his own carelessness. "Hugo used the house as a bet."
Rose whacked her brother on the head. "That wasn't smart," she admonished. "But I still don't see what the problem is. I'll pay them a visit in the morning and offer them an obscene amount of money for the house."
"The establishment Hugo and his friends chose for their evening of lawlessness wasn't one that the Aurors would approve of," Scorpius said. "It's very possible they're not going to be amendable to any reasonable propositions."
Eyebrows raised, Rose sat back and looked her brother over a second time. She wasn't sure she wanted to know where the toga portion of his night had come into play, but she was impressed with what little she knew. Hugo was always the good child, and now he wouldn't be able to shoot Rose disappointed looks when their mum mentioned how Rose should get a job for herself instead of living off of the "fruits of her lawbreaking."
"When you decide to start breaking rules, you really go all out."
Hugo didn't seem to appreciate her admiration. He hunched up his shoulders and sunk down into the sofa, trying unsuccessfully to make himself seem smaller. For someone so large, it was a futile effort. Amusing to watch, though.
All three of them jumped when there was a booming knock at the door.
Scorpius looked down at Rose. "Are we expecting someone at-" he glanced at the clock on the mantelpiece "- five in the morning?"
"Nope." Rose extracted himself from under his arm. "I'll get the door, you make the coffee. This is going to be one of those busy days."
If she'd known how right she was, Rose would never have dragged herself from their bed.
The floors were cold on her bare feet and Rose had a scowl on her face by the time she reached the door. Whoever was on the other side wasn't very patient. They hadn't stopped banging even once during Rose's short walk.
"What?" Rose demanded as she ripped open the door.
Hyacinth was on the other side with snowflakes clinging in her hair. Despite the early hour, she was fully dressed for a day at the office, complete with flawless makeup and heels. How she managed to walk in heels on ice, Rose would never know.
"Let me in," Hy said, pushing past her friend. "Looking this good doesn't exactly keep me warm."
"What's so important that it couldn't wait a few hours?"
Hy handed Rose the rolled up paper she'd been carrying under her arm. "You're going to want to read this."
A natural gossip, Hyacinth had realized her dream of her own column in the Daily Prophet very recently. It meant that she saw the paper before almost everyone else, and it was never good when she paid Rose a special visit just to deliver a copy. Either something horrible had happened and Hy wanted to be there to comfort Rose when she read it, or something horrible had happened and Hy wanted to be there to laugh while Rose desperately tried to come up with a new plan.
"Is that coffee I smell?" Hy asked while Rose opened up the paper and started reading.
Both women made their way back to the fire where it was warm. Hy even popped off her heels and sat them beside the fire so they would be nice and warm when she had to leave again.
Hy grinned as she took in Hugo and his partially hung over misery. "Nice toga."
"I don't want to talk about it."
Her grin widened. "That's a shame, because I'm sure you're going to have a few questions to answer."
"What do you mean?"
Rose looked up from the paper, not sure whether to laugh hysterically or be concerned. "Hugo, do you remember doing anything last night that you haven't told me?"
She turned the paper around so he could see the large, moving picture that took up most of the second page. In it, Hugo and a few young men who must be his fellow Healer trainees were weaving down the street, all of them wearing bed sheet togas. One of them realized that there was a camera pointed in their direction and told his fellows. With admirable synchronization, they all bent over and lifted up the back of their togas to reveal that none of them were wearing anything under their bed sheets.
Hyacinth cackled as Hugo turned as red as his bright hair.
"What does it say?" Hugo asked in a small voice, not able to make eye contact with anyone. He was trying to shrink into the cushions again, but Rose had more amusing things to occupy her.
"Just that it seems some of our finest young medical minds can be a little irresponsible at times," Rose said. "Overall, it isn't nearly as bad as it could have been. They presented it as youth having a night out instead of questioning your competency as future Healers."
Hy cleared her throat with her eyes widened pointedly, prompting Rose to take a second look at the article, this time checking the author. Hyacinth Goyle.
"Congratulations, you got an article on the second page," Rose said while Hy beamed.
"Don't congratulate her! Mum's going to kill me for that article, not to mention what Henrietta's going to do!"
Scorpius came in with a tray of coffee cups and a frown for Hy. He passed around the coffee and settled back beside Rose, who passed him the paper so he could catch up with the rest of them. When Scorpius saw the picture, he snorted and shook his head at Hugo.
"Rose, can I talk to you alone for a minute?" Hy asked, all her earlier glee gone.
After sharing a confused glance with Scorpius, Rose followed her friend into the kitchen. There was an owl outside the window there, pecking at the glass to get their attention.
"What did you want to talk about?" Rose asked as she opened the window and untied the letter from the nippy owl carrying it.
"You remember how the Terrible Tortoises are my favourite band?"
Rose made an absent sound of assent as she opened the letter.
"I kind of slept with the lead singer and then got angry when he tried to leave without even finding out my name so I locked him in the bedroom so we could get to know each other a little better because I knew he'd like me if he just had the chance and now he's saying he's going to press charges for forcible confinement and kidnapping." Hyacinth said it all in one breath and had to spend a moment settling her breathing back into a normal rhythm.
Rose stopped in the middle of opening her letter. Clearly her friend was needed her full attention. "Just to be clear, you have a rock star trapped in your bedroom."
"Well he's not in my bedroom now, I moved him to the linen closet when he started threatening to press charges."
"Of course." Rose started turning the problem around in her head, too tired to really enjoy all of the plotting she was going to get to do. "Go to work like normal, I'll see what I can do about this."
Hy nodded gratefully and threw herself at Rose before gathering her shoes and prancing out into the snow without any hesitation. She was completely confident in Rose's ability to make the problem go away.
Clearly Rose spoiled her friends.