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Chapter 1: Never a road without a turning
My feet are sore and my head is aching as I Apparate outside our home. I always find it tricky to Apparate with my hands full of shopping bags, and today is no exception. I have found a few smart dresses though, even if I almost never find anything suitable in Diagon Alley anymore. It’s easier to find good-looking clothes in Paris or Rome nowadays, I think. I walk up to the entrance and hand my bags to Bibi, our house-elf, before I take care of my sore feet and lie down to rest my poor head. There are probably a couple of hours left until Draco, my husband, will come home from work.
I close my eyes for a while and maybe drift off to sleep before I am interrupted by my owl, Penny. She has a letter for me, and I smile, because I know it is from my son Scorpius. He is seventeen years old and in his last year at Hogwarts. I absent-mindedly strike Penny’s grey feathers before I open the envelope. Every time I think of my son, I feel proud and thankful. As I grew up I always wanted two children, one boy and one girl, but when we got Scorpius I somehow felt like that I was blessed enough. How could I ask for more with a beautiful, gifted son like him? Draco, who was an only-child himself, didn’t want us to have any more children either, and I have not regretted our decision.
Scorpius is everything to me. He is smart and kind, and a really good Quidditch Seeker, although I’m always afraid that he’s going to hurt himself in that awfully dangerous sport. Draco says that I fuss too much about him, and that Quidditch hasn’t ever really hurt anyone. He played Seeker himself during Hogwarts, and I remember how I used to admire him when I was in school. I had a thing for Draco for years, really, before he even noticed me. He is three years older than me, and it wasn’t until after we both had left Hogwarts, a few years after the war, that we met and fell in love.
Sometimes I wonder if there is a girl like me now in the Slytherin audience admiring Scorpius like I admired and dreamt about his father. Scorpius has never mentioned any girl to me, but I guess most teenage boys don’t talk to their mothers about the girls they are dating. I have asked him a few times about that girl Dorinda, whom he has been friends with since his first year at Hogwarts, but I don’t really think that she is anything more than a friend to him. I‘m thankful she isn’t his girlfriend, to be honest, because she is way too loud and unconventional. I hope that the girl Scorpius chooses will be a little more neat and well behaved, and naturally from one of the old pure-blood families. Some people say that blood status doesn’t matter anymore. I guess they are right in some ways, at least in everyday life, but when it comes to marriage it still matters. A marriage is forever, and to be able to live together for a lifetime, it helps greatly if both members of the couple share the same important values.
The letter from Scorpius is short, as usual, and frankly he didn’t tell me very much, except for the date of his next Quidditch game. We always come to watch when Scorpius plays. I really look forward to seeing him at the next game. Last time we went, when they were playing against Gryffindor earlier this autumn, Scorpius disappeared almost right after the game. I guess it is like that for every Quidditch parent. You watch your child play, and hope for his team to win. When they do, however, they sneak away immediately after the game to have some celebration party in the common room... If they lose, they hang around with the parents for a little longer, but who can honestly wish for your child to lose?
The air is crisp and clear, maybe a bit on the chilly side, but it is still a beautiful day. I’m sitting next to Draco and the Quidditch game is just about to begin. Scorpius and the rest of the Slytherin team are playing against Ravenclaw today. Scorpius has told me that Ravenclaw has a really good team this year, but he seemed certain that the Slytherin team is even better.
I like being on the Hogwarts grounds. It brings me so many happy memories from my youth. But I guess it’s like that for almost everyone. The teams are entering the pitch, and I’m as proud as I’m always am when I hear “… and the Seeker, Scorpius Malfoy…” My son, the handsome Quidditch player with a heart of gold…
Scorpius and his team are playing well, and it’s an interesting game. After just half an hour, when the Slytherins are in the lead, I see my son and the Ravenclaw Seeker race after the Snitch at a high speed, both of them flying unusually high above the ground. I feel my heart beat fast and grab my husband’s hand in horror, but Draco just nudges me and tells me not to worry. I relax a bit, but only a moment later, I see a Bludger that is directed right at Scorpius. I squeeze Draco’s hand harder, and this time he squeezes mine, too.
I cannot tell if merely seconds or an eternity passes, but then the Bludger hits Scorpius and he starts falling. A strange sound is coming from my throat as I see him falling through the sky. No sound could be more terrible than the hollow thud of your child hitting the ground. He lies still, and I want to run to him, but I’m paralysed. I can feel how Draco is almost crushing my hand now. Merlin, my son can’t be dead, can he? Scorpius is everything to me; he is my life.
Suddenly, something unexpected happens. A boy in Gryffindor robes is quickly by Scorpius’s side, and he clings to my son’s motionless body. He touches his face, and it looks like he is kissing him. Draco stands up, and he is dragging me by my hand down to the pitch. People move out of our way as we run down to Scorpius. The strange boy doesn’t even look up when we arrive and I’m starting to think that he might be some kind of mentally confused person or something. I try my best to ignore him as I bend down over my son.
The elderly nurse, Madame Pomfrey, is there too, and she is levitating Scorpius up towards the castle. The mad boy still won’t let go of him. I turn to Draco, and I see how his gaze is fixated not on Scorpius but on the Gryffindor boy. Draco’s face is a pale shade of grey, and he has a hard look in his eyes. I suddenly recognize the boy. He is so much like Harry Potter that he has to be one of his sons.
When we finally are at the infirmary, Madame Pomfrey quickly examines Scorpius and tells us that he is alive and that he’ll be fine. I let out a sigh of relief, and I feel how Draco’s grip of my hand relaxes. The strange Potter boy doesn’t appear to have heard or understood the nurse, though. He is still sobbing and holding a tight grip of Scorpius’s hand. His eyes are still locked on my son’s face.
‘He is going to be alright, you know,’ Madame Pomfrey says to him, and he is finally looking up at her. ‘I’ve seen a lot worse. Mind you, your own father used to come here after almost every Quidditch game. I’m going to give him some Skele-Gro as soon as he wakes up. You can stay here with Mr and Mrs Malfoy until then,’ she says, leaving us alone with the odd boy and Scorpius, who is still unconscious.
The Potter boy is suddenly looking up at us. It is like he hadn’t even noticed that we were present before. He doesn’t say anything, though, but resumes staring at Scorpius. I’m getting more and more sure that he isn’t quite like anybody else. I wonder why Madame Pomfrey is letting him stay here.
We are sitting silently by Scorpius’s side for a while, and then I can see him move a little, and his eyelids are fluttering. The boy leans ever closer to him, and I want to shove him away. He is taking my place. I should be the one holding Scorpius’s hand. I should be the one who is sitting close to him as he wakes up, not this strange boy.
Scorpius wakes up, and he looks into the face of the crying boy for a minute before he turns to us and tells us something that makes my heart stop.
‘Mother, Father… I want you to meet Albus Potter, my boyfriend,’ Scorpius says. What he says is so unexpected to me that I can’t even think of anything to say back. Draco gets up immediately, and he leads me out of the infirmary, out through the castle, and outside the Hogwarts gates to the Apparation point. My chocked brain tries to bring order to the chaos I’m experiencing, and I’m stumbling in my high heels as I try to keep up with Draco. I try to digest what just happened. What did he mean by the word boyfriend? Is Scorpius, my only child, my beautiful, clever and precious son really… Oh Merlin, I can’t even say the word… I don’t want to think about it, and I don’t want to know about it. He can’t be one of those, can he? What shall we do? What if people will find out?
Draco drags me close to him as he Apparates us both home, and I immediately get a new shock. There are several reporters outside our home blocking our way.
‘Is it true that your son is gay?’
‘Is Scorpius going to be alright?’
‘Is it true that he is madly in love with the son of Harry Potter?’
Draco is pushing the reporters aside, and he takes me inside. I pour us each a large glass of Firewhiskey. Nothing can take away pain like Firewhiskey, and we sure need it today.
‘Do you think it’s true?’ I ask my husband. He sighs and looks at me, nodding.
‘I’m so confused,’ I say. ‘How could he be… like that? Where did it come from?’
‘Oh, I know where it came from. It must have been that repulsive Potter boy. He’s somehow duped or tricked him into it. None of the Potters or Weasleys are sane.’
‘We should talk to him, don’t you think?’ I plead. Now that I have had half a glass of Firewhiskey and some time to think, it strikes me how it must have felt for Scorpius when we just left him earlier this afternoon.
‘No, Astoria, I’m not going to talk to him, and you’re not going to, either. Not as long he is together with Potter, and not as long he hasn’t said that he is sorry. He is not getting away with this,’ Draco says with coldness in his voice, and I know that there is no use in trying to change his mind.
I walk up to our bedroom, where I spend a few hours crying in the darkness until Draco comes to bed. When he reaches out to me that night, I turn my back to him and pretend to sleep. I’m not letting him touch me tonight, not when he tells me that I can’t talk to my son. I cry silently into the pillow when I realise that I haven’t once in our marriage done anything against Draco’s will, and that I will obey him this time to. I’m not going to talk to Scorpius, even if it’s all that I want to do right now.
Dear Mr and Mrs Malfoy,
I am writing to you because I want you to reconsider your treatment of Scorpius. I know that you don’t like me, and I know that you are not very fond of my family. But please, talk to Scorpius. He needs you. I know that. You can’t change him. Surely you wouldn’t want to lose him rather than accept who he is? I know that you love him too.
Sincerely, Albus Potter
My hand shivers as I fold the parchment and put it back in its envelope. I didn’t expect the Potter boy to write to us. It does seem like he is really in love with my son, and as strange as it is, the thought doesn’t feel as repulsive to me as it first did. Maybe he is right; maybe we can’t change Scorpius. I might have to accept that eventually, even if it still hurts.
It’s not only Potter who has written to us. His friend Dorinda has sent us two rather angry letters. I haven’t even shown them to Draco. That girl is far too outspoken for her own good. Scorpius has also written several letters to us, trying to explain. He writes that he is happy, and that he loves the Potter boy. They have apparently been going out for quite some time. He asks us to understand and forgive him. A part of me is still angry with him, and I’m still disappointed – how could a mother be anything else than disappointed? – but I miss him so badly. I would like to have him here and hold him like when he was a little child. Draco doesn’t want to read the letters, and he has told me not to respond. I do as he says, as I always have done.
Christmas is approaching, and I dread it this year. It will be an awful Christmas this year without Scorpius. There’s also a new coldness between me and Draco. I have tried to talk to him about Scorpius a few times, but he always changes the subject. He doesn’t want to talk about Scorpius, and he never mentions his name. I don’t know how long I can stand this. I think about it for some time, and then make up my mind. On Christmas morning, I’m sending Scorpius a letter and a parcel of his favourite sweets. I know it won’t make up for how we have been treating him, but it is still something.
Christmas Day passes silently. Penny, the owl, returns from Scorpius with a short “Thank you!” note. Nothing else. I would have expected Scorpius to write something more, but I’m also grateful that he responded at all.
A few days after Christmas something strange happens. Draco comes home from his work and seems upset. He is rambling about Potter, and after a while I understand that it is Harry and not Albus he is talking about this time. I don’t know exactly what had happened, but I understand that Harry Potter has been talking with him about the boys. Draco and Harry have never been friendly, but they do sometimes work together, as Draco works at the Ministry and Harry Potter is the Head of the Aurors. Scorpius is staying at the Potter’s, as we already had guessed, and Harry Potter must have felt that he had to tell Draco his opinion on the matter. I don’t get all of it, but I understand that the Potters must have accepted and welcomed Scorpius. I am secretly thankful for that, but Draco is agitated.
Draco is huffing and mumbling for a couple of days, but the day before New Year’s Eve, he suddenly speaks up. ‘We should talk to him.’
‘We should,’ I say, taking his hand. ‘He is still our son, and we can’t afford to lose him.’
‘I’m going to owl him and tell him to be home tomorrow for dinner then,’ Draco says and walks into his study. I’m not sure what to think, but I’m happy that he seems to come around now.
Scorpius responds almost immediately, and Draco is snorting as he reads the letter.
‘He is bringing the Potter boy,’ Draco spits. ‘I wasn’t inviting him too!’
‘It’s not the end of the world, love,’ I reassure him. ‘I do believe that we have to meet him, too, sooner or later. I have a feeling that they are in fact serious.’ I know I’m treading on thin ice here. I can’t afford to upset my husband now. He only mutters something inaudible. I guess that means that he has accepted that Scorpius will bring Albus here tomorrow.
On New Year’s Eve, I’m too nervous all day to even check on Bibi, who is preparing the dinner party. I’m sure the house-elf has everything under control anyway. I can see that Draco is nervous too, because he is pacing back and forth in the living room. When they finally arrive, I almost want to rush forward toward Scorpius to hug and kiss him, but I keep myself together and remain calm but polite.
Scorpius and Albus are holding hands, and they don’t let go of each other’s hands even when Scorpius introduces us to Albus. Albus looks pale and nervous, but Scorpius has put on his cheekiest and most disrespectful smile as he meets his father’s eyes. I feel angry because I know how much this could upset Draco, and Scorpius should be aware that this isn’t a good time to be cheeky to his father. Amazingly enough, Draco doesn’t say anything about it.
The dinner was awkward, but not as awkward as it could have been, I guess. I tried my best to keep the conversation neutral, and we all managed to be polite to each other. Scorpius and Albus didn’t show any more physical affection than the handholding, for which I am grateful. I could tell by the way they look at each other that they care about each other. I guess that they are truly in love. I still find it strange in a way, but I know that I’m going to get used to it. Albus seems to be clever, polite and kind. I do feel guilty for what I thought about him the first time we met.
I know we all will have to speak more open-heartedly to each other sometime soon, but for now, this is enough. We could be a family again, and I’ve got my son back – my son Scorpius, who is the most beautiful, smart and wonderful son that a mother could ever wish for.