It was a little old and drafty, but the storefront held promise. Scorpius took in the smell of sawdust and mildew with a giant grin.
"It's going to be perfect. Obviously it needs a little work, but it's just what I pictured."
He stopped taking in his surroundings and turned towards his father, who was kicking at some of the exposed studs in the wall. He faced his son with a deep frown on his face, but Scorpius knew this meant he was thinking things over, weighing the options, and coming up with a plan.
"Definitely has potential. I'll set up a meeting with the contractor next week."
He gave Scorpius a smile, which didn't consist of much more than a twitch of his upper lip.
"Well, I'd love to take a look at whatever plans you come up with," Scorpius said, taking one last look around the place. "I know this isn't really part of my job, but I'm invested in this now. I want to see it through."
"Trust me, you will," Draco said, jerking his head towards the door, signalling it was time they get going. "I know how excited you are about all of this, and I'm willing to discuss options."
"Options?" Scorpius asked as they made their way out of the empty shop and back towards their office.
The shop was located in Diagon Alley, just past Eeylops Owl Emporium. It had previously been the home of Gambol and Japes Wizarding Joke Shop before the Weasleys had driven them out of business. Being only a block from their office building made things rather convenient. The complex they now worked in was one of a handful of buildings that had been erected in Diagon Alley since the war. The past few decades had seen a lot of rebuilding and growth in the wizarding world, and the name of Malfoy had been repaired as well. Draco had done everything he could to restore a good reputation to his family name, or maybe even develop one for the first time. Malfoy Enterprises had boomed over the last decade. It had grown from buying and selling magical objects - dark ones during Scorpius's grandfather's time - into primarily supplying ingredients and potions. It was Draco's passion, and a way he remembered and honored his godfather.
The hard work and dedication Draco had shown throughout Scorpius's life made him proud of his father. There were still times when they would get nasty looks in public, but Draco Malfoy handled it with grace and dignity. And now their business was heading in a direction that allowed Scorpius to really sink his teeth into the business and make part of it his own. He enjoyed the potions aspect, but he'd always wanted their business to be more interactive - like it was finally becoming. And by the way his father was talking, it looked like he was about to get the opportunity he'd always wanted.
"I know how excited you were when we started this process," Draco said. "And with Hogsmeade about to open up and the excellent work you did behind the scenes, I was wondering if you wanted to discuss a possible change."
Draco watched Scorpius to make sure he was following, and Scorpius nodded his head to signal he was listening closely.
"Your work in the research area is phenomenal and you've really come a long way. But I know you've always wanted to be more active in the business side of things and involved at the store level once we got to that point. I want you to be in charge of development for the new store."
Scorpius stopped in his tracks. He was shocked. His dad had always shown confidence in him, and he'd even been able to help a few times with the development of their flagship store that was set to open in the next few weeks, but he hadn't expected to be given even more responsibility this time around.
Fully smiling this time, Draco nodded, clapping his son on the arm.
"You've earned it, Scorpius."
It had been a whirlwind of a week, and Scorpius couldn't believe how it was ending. They approached the building that housed their offices and headed inside to wrap up some last minute business before heading home for the weekend. They'd managed to work out the paperwork that allowed them to make an offer on the property on Monday, talked to the bank on Tuesday, and due to Mr. Malfoy's impeccable financial track record and business history, they'd closed by Friday morning. Scorpius had been excited about the Hogsmeade branch, but his elation over being allowed to oversee the Diagon Alley project far surpassed that. As he headed to his office, packed up some of his work, and headed home, his mind was on everything he would need to start planning. A manager would need to be hired, a floor plan would need to be drawn up, maybe some opening day shebang put together. Starting next week, he would need to do some on the ground research on the dos and don'ts of running a shop. And he knew just the place to start.
"Thank you and have a wonderful day."
Rose handed the middle-aged witch her purchase and gave her a warm smile. It was an exceptionally clear day and Rose's spirits were high. She had rested up on Sunday after her lackluster date with Able, and had developed a positive outlook on the whole thing. At least she wasn't being pulled around like Jane had been. And at least he wasn't emotionally manipulative like Lily's ex-boyfriend Rick had been. Abel really did treat her well. She was even starting to consider taking things a step further, if only her emotions could catch up with her relationship.
Still, the beautiful day and the steady stream of customers helped to push most of the thoughts that had plagued her all weekend from her mind. She was downright jolly as she helped measure out six ounces of lacewing flies for a rather elderly wizard who was rambling on about his most recent grandchild in delight.
"I think she looks more like my dear Matilda's side than mine." He chuckled at his own comment and Rose gave him a small smile as the bell that hung over the door gave its usual trill, signalling the entrance of a new customer.
"I'm sure she's beautiful," Rose said, packaging his purchase and taking his payment.
"Oh yes, just like her grandmother and mother. Well, have a wonderful day, and thank you for your help."
Rose waved him goodbye with a smile as he hobbled towards the front door. It wasn't until she heard the bell signalling his departure that she noticed who her new customer was.
"Is there something I can do for you?" She tried to remain professional when she asked the question, but seeing Scorpius Malfoy in her store wasn't something she'd been prepared for or particularly wanted to experience, so her tone had been slightly harsh. He only gave her a slight grin and continued to wander around the store, taking in his surroundings.
"How long have you been open?" he asked, looking up at the rafters and resting his hand on one of the shelves that lined the wall.
Rose gave him a disbelieving look.
"A few years. What concern is it to you?"
He merely shrugged and stuck his hands in his pockets as he continued to make his way around the shop. Rose mentally pleaded with whomever might be listening that Jane would come out from her hiding place in the back room. She was brewing their new batch of Pepper-Up Potion and hadn't made an appearance all day, so it was doubtful she would immerge. Johnny had run out for his lunch break and wouldn't be back for at least another twenty minutes. Backup was looking highly unlikely.
"Do you own or rent?" he asked.
"Own. What's with the third degree? Don't you have your own business to run?" She crossed her arms and gave him a challenging look.
"I do, in fact," Malfoy said as he began to move towards the counter. He pulled his hands from his pockets and picked up the copy of The Potioneer's Periodical that was lying by the register. Flipping through it, he realized it was a rather old copy and the one that happened to contain Daisy's article, before she snatched it from his hands. He'd read that article so many times, he'd be able to recognize that issue anywhere.
"You have good taste in literature, Weasley. Although it's slightly out of date."
She ignored his comment.
"What do you want, Malfoy?"
He leaned on the counter, his palms pressed flat against the smooth, wooden surface.
"So, how's business? You here all by yourself? Can't be that busy if you can handle it all on your own."
Rose's eyebrow twitched and she let out a deep breath to try and calm herself.
"My partner happens to be in the back. And I have another employee out for lunch."
She stashed the magazine and grabbed a rag from behind the counter and started to wipe it down, effectively forcing him to remove his hands and take a step back.
"Not that it's any of your concern, but I've been in this business long enough to know the ins and outs. We typically slow down right around one-thirty, and we don't pick back up again til around three. So I know when to send my employees on their lunch breaks."
Scorpius glanced at the clock behind her, which she knew read somewhere close to two o'clock. He seemed slightly impressed with her response and she couldn't help the prideful smirk that grew on her face.
"Seems I could learn a thing or two from you."
Rose started to laugh before she took in his serious expression.
"You're joking, right?"
He merely shook his head. Rose looked at him in confusion.
"What could you possibly need to learn from me? Our businesses function completely differently. You don't need to know anything about running a shop."
"That's what you think." He smirked and his eyes started to wander around the shop again as Rose's widened in shock.
He looked back at her, failing to contain a grin.
"Haven't you heard? We have a shop opening in Hogsmeade at the end of the month."
Rose's jaw dropped as the bell above the door rang and another customer entered. While she helped the man who'd wandered in looking for some porcupine quills, she had no choice but to let Scorpius wander around the store, picking up and examining random items as he went.
"Right, let's get something straight." Her customer was gone and she moved around the counter and approached him, a hard glare on her face.
"I refuse to help you run your business. You want it to succeed, figure out a way to do it yourself. I won't be a part of it."
Malfoy rolled his eyes at her dramatics, sitting on one of the display tables, earning a glare from Rose as he did.
"Come on, Weasley. Just let me ask you a few questions, poke that highly intelligent brain of yours. It's the least you can do for a colleague."
Rose let out a bark of laughter.
"We," she emphasised, pointing back and forth between the two of them, "are not colleagues. I'll give you competitors, sure. But we will not work together. Ever. Am I clear?"
Scorpius now looked quite put out. He gave a huff before crossing his arms and giving her a studying look.
"What's so awful about me, Weasley? I've been wracking my brain trying to figure out what I ever did to you to make you treat me as if I'm an awful person."
Rose's eyes widened in disbelief.
"You've never been nice to me. Maybe you're not a total bastard, but you've never been a saint either."
A twinge of guilt hit Scorpius as a rather vivid memory of Rose having a near panic attack in seventh year came to his mind. She couldn't find a Charms essay that Scorpius had stolen. He'd felt guilty after she'd been forced to tell their professor that she'd lost her essay, so he'd returned it as soon as they'd left the classroom. She'd yelled at him and told him to stay out of her life. At the time he didn't make much of it; it was just homework after all. But she'd become even more standoffish from that point on. And here she was, demanding he treat her in a way she hadn't given him much of a chance to.
"A saint? You want perfection?" he couldn't help but snap at her. "That's a pretty steep order for someone who doesn't mean all that much to you."
"Give it a rest, Malfoy. Can't two people just not get along on a fundamental level?"
Silence reigned between them for a few moments as Scorpius considered her words. He might agree that some people just had personalities that clashed and had a hard time getting on, but he didn't think they were those people. He'd always wanted to get to know Rose when they were in school, and he knew they had a lot in common, but she'd constantly pushed him away. He never knew why and it drove him crazy. Keeping him at arm's length had caused him to do all he could to get her to pay attention to him. And that meant annoying the hell out of her. But even as they spoke, it was never harsh. Their words had a slight joking edge to them. It seemed to be reasonably playful banter. The only exception being the time he'd stolen her homework. But no matter how hard he tried, he could never get her to talk to him like a normal human being. So sure, some people had a hard time getting along on a fundamental level, but as he responded, he felt strongly that in this case, she was wrong.
He heaved a sigh in resignation.
"I suppose so," he said without a hint of jest in his voice. "But I never thought that was us."
He rapped his knuckles on the table before he quickly stood and left the shop, the chiming of the bell putting an exclamation mark on his departure.
Rose stood perplexed at his parting words. Did he think they could actually get along? She supposed they never really tried, but she'd never thought it was worth the effort. Maybe he had? She shook off her conflicting thoughts and got back to work. Allowing Scorpius Malfoy to mess with her head was not on her agenda for the day.
"First batch is done!" Jane announced as she emerged from the back room, a box filled with bottles of the newly made potion in her arms. She dropped it rather unceremoniously on the counter and flashed Rose a grin.
Rose merely hummed in response, the thought that Scorpius Malfoy might actually want to be friends with her occupying all her brain power.
"Hey, you alright?"
Pulling herself out of her head, she gave Jane an apologetic grin.
"Yes, sorry. How'd it go?"
"Splendidly, as always. I'm a masterful potioneer."
Jane planted her hands on her hips and stood with a very proud look on her face, causing Rose to laugh at her friend's antics.
"Good to see you're in such good spirits."
"Yes, well, I don't have anything sucking the life out of me anymore, do I?"
Jane was grinning widely at Rose, but she still saw the less than happy look that her eyes gave away.
"Feeling lonely?" Rose asked.
Jane's shoulders dropped and she moved towards the counter, leaning against it and resting her chin in her hand.
"A little. It's not that I miss Andrew, but it's nice to have someone."
Rose patted Jane's arm in sympathy, not surprised that she had admitted the truth so easily. She wasn't the toughest nut to crack.
"So," Jane drawled, bouncing back immediately and giving Rose a sly look. "How was your date yesterday? Anything...happen?"
Rose laughed as her friend wiggled her eyebrows.
"No, nothing like that. I stopped him before we got that far."
"What? Why?" Jane asked in outrage.
"I'm just not ready, that's all. I feel like I should, I don't know, maybe love him or something?" Rose said, her tone dripping with sarcasm.
"Oh please. You're just scared and hiding behind your excuses." Jane said with a scoff. "Just put the poor bloke out of his misery."
"I will do no such thing," Rose said. "If he really wants to be with me, he can respect my wishes."
Jane rolled her eyes as Rose began to pull vials from the box and place them on the shelf behind her.
"Or maybe, you're holding out hope that this mystery bloke of yours will make a move and you can leave that Mr. Jordan for him before you're in too deep."
Rose looked at her friend in outrage as a blush rose to her cheeks.
"I'm doing no such thing! I just want to be sure, that's all."
"Sure of what, exactly?" Jane challenged.
"Well, certain that he cares for me, I suppose. That we have a solid relationship beforehand so it isn't ruined by sex complicating it." Rose fumbled over her words so badly she hardly believed them herself.
"Or perhaps you're waiting til you're certain there's no other bloke you could possibly fancy?"
Jane no longer looked quite as teasing as before. There was a hint of understanding in her expression. However, Rose still wasn't keen on continuing the conversation. She found the subject matter to be more uncomfortable than she wanted to endure. Probably because Jane was more correct than Rose cared to admit.
"You just missed Scorpius Malfoy, by the way," she said as a way of trying to distract her friend. However, she didn't see the unfortunate backfire that it would cause.
"Ah, Scorpius Malfoy," Jane said with a dreamy look on her face. "Now there's someone I would still hold out hope for if I were you."
"What?" Rose asked, hardly believing what she was hearing. "There was never any hope to begin with. We've talked about how silly this is. You're being ridiculous, Jane."
Jane pursed her lips at Rose's harsh tone.
"There's no need to talk down to me like that. I'm a lot smarter and far more observant than you're giving me credit for."
Immediately feeling chastised, Rose quickly moved around the counter to stand in front of Jane, who continued to have a sour look on her face as she stood with her arms crossed.
"I'm sorry. I know I can be a little harsh. You're entitled to your own opinions. Even if I think they're wrong."
Jane rolled her eyes at the lackluster apology, but gave Rose a small grin all the same.
"I guess if that's the best you can do. Now, what did Malfoy want?"
"Oh! He's opening up his own shop and wanted to spy. Can you believe that?" Rose scoffed as she removed the box from the counter and moved to place it behind it.
"His own shop? In Diagon Alley?" Jane asked.
"No, thank God. Hogsmeade. Bloody hell, can you imagine if it were?" Rose and Jane shared a laugh at the implication as the bell above the door rang once again and Dominique Weasley entered Thistle and Thorn. Rose moved to greet her cousin.
"Dom! This is a nice-"
She cut herself short when she noticed the tear stains on her cousin's face as she continued to cry. Rushing around the counter, she pulled her now sobbing cousin into her arms.
"What's wrong? What happened?"
Dom let out a heartbreaking sob before pulling back and composing herself enough to speak.
"Rose, I need a favor."
A/N: Wow, that took awhile. Hope it was worth the wait! It won't be quite as long next time. This one was a struggle but I flew once I got through it so more is in the works! Follow, favorite, and REVIEW! Love hearing from you guys.
One question was raised by a guest reviewer about the believability of them not knowing each other based on the size of the potions world. Great question! In the first chapter, we see that Rose doesn't even know where he is. They haven't talked about where they live. He could work in a tiny shop in Paris for all she knows. This is brought up again next chapter, but I wanted to go ahead and clarify that now.