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Chapter 52: The Platform
They hadn’t heard the great, scarlet steam engine in nearly twenty years. The distant memories of leaving their families for school hit them all at once nostalgically as they scrambled down the cobblestone pathway. Students and their families rushed around them, Ashley bulldozing through the crowds to try and find a less populated boarding door on the train.
“Mummy!” She heard familiar whining behind her.
Ashley turned, her long, white-blond hair billowing in her face in the breeze. Transferring her eighteen month older daughter to her other hip to see her eldest daughter dragging her feet and groaning loudly.
“How much longer?” She whined, trudging slowly between her mother.
“Valora Gabrielle!” She scolded, “Stop your whining! I swear, I should have named you after Fleur. You are more a diva than she!”
Valora stuck her tongue out as her mother turned her back, emitting a yelp of surprise as she felt strong fingers squeeze the back of her neck in warning.
“You better not.” Draco scolded, letting go and pushing her towards her mother.
“Yes, papa.” She sulked, picking up her pace to be nearest the parent who didn’t have the time to scold her further.
“Draco!” His wife whined at him, turning around once more, “You have to hurry!”
“We have plenty of time!” He shot back at her, shaking his head, looking down to his son, who was obviously nervous, his face blank and demeanor quiet.
Draco pushed at him playfully, “Scorp?”
His son looked up at him at the sound of his name. Draco gave him a soft smile, as if looking in the mirror at his former eleven year old self: white-blond hair, blue eyes, a pompous yet vulnerable attitude, although he would never admit it. Scorpius had inherited his father’s pride.
“I’m fine.” He said quickly, picking his head up.
Draco pushed him playfully again, “You’re it.”
Scorpius looked up at him, a grin spreading across his face. He reached for Draco, who lunged away, knocking himself into an older witch, who frowned darkly at their horseplay. He turned to Scorpius, who laughed with his father so hard that the couple stumbled towards Ashley.
“Now you’re it!” Scorpius chided, dashing away as Draco grabbed for him.
Ashley turned around once more, sensing the horseplay. “Boys, come on!”
Ashley stood there, waiting for her husband and son to catch up. Although she had a rather hard look on her face, Draco knew her too well to know she was trying to suppress a smile.
“If you’re late, it won’t be my fault.” She looked down to Scorpius.
“Yes, mother.” He gave her a small smile, walking closer to her side, brushing the side of her coat for her arm, but realizing that they were both around his younger sister. Draco hung a few steps behind, relishing in the view of his wife with his three children, all clamoring after her, vying for her attention. Scorpius had a tender place for Ashley, just as Draco did for Narcissa at his age.
He watched as Ashley exclaimed something excitedly, hurrying forward to a crowd of people. Draco knew it was the Potter’s and the Weasley’s when Scorpius had slyly wormed his way out of the crowd, heading back towards his father.
Scorpius huffed, rolling his eyes.
“What?” Draco asked, “Don’t you want to see if Albus wants to sit with you, or something?”
“Yah, I suppose.” Scorpius shrugged, “But you know how Mum gets whenever she sees everyone.”
Draco looked to his wife, who handed Emmi off to Hermione, which in turn snuggled into the crook of her godmother’s neck, then proceeded to hug everyone else, laughing at the awkwardness of her growing belly.
“C’mon.” He ruffled his hair, “I’ll go with you.”
Father and son made their way over to the crowd, nodding curtly as somewhat forced greetings from the other couples reached them. Draco knew the tension would never completely dissipate, but was secretly grateful for the acceptance they had given him, even if it had taken years into their marriage to gain.
It was a flurry of hugs, kisses and excited conversation about sending their children off to school, either for the first time or another year. The expected whines of the younger children wanting to go filled the air, Valora’s included, as she was quickly distracted by her Aunt Fleur’s kisses and attention, lost in a rapid conversation in French.
A young Veela stepped through all the chaos, tall and thin, a replica of her mother and aunt, beamed up at him as she kissed him on the cheek, “Hi, Uncle.”
“Victorie.” He greeted her, looking down to Scorpius for his hello, “Say hello to your cousin.”
“Hello.” He said stiffly, staring up at her.
“Are you excited for your first year?” She asked, flashing perfect, white teeth at him.
He couldn’t answer her, but was unable to look away from that flawless face.
“He’s very excited.” Draco frowned at his son, “Just nervous.”
Victorie nodded, shifting her weight uncomfortably, gesturing to the train, saying, “Well, I better get on, I have friends waiting for me.”
Draco nodded and Victorie added, “See you at Christmas.”
He nodded her off and when he looked down to see Scorpius’ gaze trailing after her, he bent down, whispering, “Don’t go after those Veela’s. They’re trouble.”
Scorpius turned back to him, giving him a puzzled look, “Mum’s a Veela.”
“And see how much trouble she gets me in?” Draco asked sarcastically, looking up to see Ashley gazing at him, giving him that same sort of look she had given him when they caught each other’s eyes across the Great Hall or in Potions class so many years ago. It set his heart a flutter all over again.
“Don’t you think she’s a little old for you?” Draco turned back to him, “She just turned seventeen and she won’t be there next year.”
Scorpius shrugged, staring at the door where she had entered moments before.
“She’s also your first cousin.” Draco reminded him, “You’re going to have to find someone else, lad.”
“I know.” Scorpius sighed. “Besides, she likes that Lupin bloke anyway.”
Draco was about to comment on his choice of language when Ashley turned to them, smiling softly, “Are you nervous?”
Ashley winced as she tried to bend down; Draco gave her a rather panicked look as he told her, “Don’t!”
Ashley waved him off, grabbing for Scorpius’ shoulders to steady herself. She smoothed his hair from his face, looking into his light blue eyes.
“You’re going to do just fine.” She choked, tears welling in her eyes. “Mum has lots of friends there, like Professor Longbottom.”
“Herbology?” Scorpius frowned, “Yuck.”
Ashley rolled her eyes, “Yes, Herbology. Everyone has to take it. And you’re going to have to do well if you want to be an Auror.”
“Dad didn’t have to!” Scorpius objected.
“Yes, but your father had a heavier mark to bear.” Ashley reminded him, “I would rather you be good at Herbology than become a Death Eater.”
Scorpius looked up to his father, who nodded in agreement with his mother.
“Let me see it again!” Scorpius asked excitedly.
Draco rolled his eyes, “I’m wondering if I should be worried about your fascination with this.”
“It’s research.” Scorpius corrected, “How am I going to be a good Auror if I don’t study the enemy?”
“Right.” Draco dismissed, rolling up his left shirt sleeve. They all leaned in to look at it, as if the black ink should once more appear. But it had been gone for almost eighteen years, when Harry had finally defeated Voldemort a few years after they graduated. It had been dark times and Draco still remembered the fear that he would have to leave Ashley again only after two years of marriage, in order to protect her and fight with the Order. But Ashley reminded him of his promise that he wouldn’t leave and decided to fight with the rest of everyone, even if that meant death parting them. He couldn’t remember a time when he had loved her more than looking to his side, the cheering and roaring of victory ringing in his ears, seeing the tears run down her face as she clasped him tightly.
“We won.” He could hear her say vividly as she held him close.
Scorpius fingered the faded scar, its indistinct form discoloring the skin around his father’s mark.
“Soon enough, I’ll let you watch the memories.” Draco told him darkly, “Dark times like that should never be forgotten. But for now, follow your mother’s advice.”
The three looked up to see Hermione squirming with Emmi, who was growing fussy, “I think you better take her back!”
Ashley rose quickly, walking over to Hermione.
The train whistled, a puff of white steam spewing from its smoke stack.
Scorpius took a deep breath, looking hesitantly to the scarlet engine that was ripping him apart from the only world he had known, suspicious of all the years of stories of splendor and adventure he’d heard about were really enough to pull him away.
Draco grabbed his shoulder gently, turning to face him. It was his chance now, to communicate all the admiration and love that his father had failed to tell him when he was first leaving for Hogwarts. But after eleven years, Draco knew he could never communicate that, not because he didn’t want to, but because he didn’t know how to explain to the young boy how much he meant to him.
“You’ll be fine.” Draco’s voice got rather dry as he rubbed at his throat in exasperation. “Our family practically takes up a whole house. You won’t be alone.”
“You won’t be there.” He whispered quietly. Scorpius was hardly sentimental, least of all in public, and the confession not only caught Draco off guard, but sent a knife through his heart.
“But we’ll write you all the time and see you at Christmas.” Draco nudged his cheek, trying to make light of the situation for the sake of them both.
Scorpius frowned, shuffling his shoes. “What if-what if…I’m in Hufflepuff?”
He looked rather petrified by the idea.
“I’ll disown you.” Draco stared at him.
Just when he thought Scorpius might faint, Draco cracked a smile, saying, “I’m joking, I won’t. I suppose I’ll still like you…but seriously, you better not be in Hufflepuff.”
Scorpius returned his father’s grin.
He felt Ashley return to his side, feeling her gentle squeeze on his shoulder. Draco rose, looking down at his only son.
“Well, I better get going.” Scorpius straightened his robes, trying to brush off the words that had just been exchanged, their tenderness only communicable between father and son.
“Well…good day.” Scorpius extended his hand to Ashley, who shook it with amusement. He turned to Draco, giving him a rather firm handshake as well.
Draco shoved his hands in his pockets as he watched Scorpius turn and head towards the train, where students were saying their last goodbyes and hurrying aboard.
He hadn’t gotten very far when he stopped and slowly turned around. In a last ditch effort, Scorpius bolted back to Draco, who quickly entrapped him in a constricting squeeze.
“That wasn’t a very proper goodbye.” Scorpius said quietly in his ear.
“I’m glad you realized that.” Draco whispered back to him. Scorpius rubbed his cheek into his father’s light beard, secretly relishing in the familiar feeling one last time.
He let go to look at his mother, who handed Emmi to Draco, wrapping Scorpius in a bear hug.
“It’s okay to love your parents.” She teased him softly.
“I know.” He squeezed her hard, taking a deep breath of her vanilla scent.
Ashley pulled from him, smoothing his hair one last time, something she knew she wouldn’t be allowed to do in the years to come. He was growing up painfully fast.
“Be nice to your cousins.” Ashley told him, “All of them, whether Potter, Weasly or Delacour.”
“Yes, mother.” He nodded.
“I’ll know if you don’t.” She warned
“Never underestimate your mother’s ways of knowing.” Draco warned, looking to Ashley, who reached out to stroke his beard playfully.
“Are you going to say goodbye to your sister?” She asked, looking over to Valora, who was still busy talking to Fleur.
“Nah.” Scorpius shook his head.
“What about this one?” Ashley motioned to her stomach.
“You mean his brother!” Draco corrected.
Ashley shook her head, “No, sister!”
“Two and two!” Draco argued.
Scorpius rolled his eyes, starting to inch away from them as Albus called his name.
“Bye, love!” Ashley waved after him as he followed his cousin onto the train. Scorpius stuck his head out, waving despite the movement of the train, screeching out of the train tracks.
“Bye mum, bye dad!” He waved, ducking inside the compartments. “Tell Grandma Cissy I said bye! And write when the baby comes!”
It seemed like mere seconds as they watched the train pick up speed, Scorpius disappearing as the steam engine moved into the dark tunnel.
Ashley sighed heavily, reaching for Draco’s hand in comfort. An aching feeling had already started to settle in.
Draco shook her hand, “He’ll be back.”
“I know.” Ashley answered absent mindedly, looking to Valora, “And then it’ll be that one.”
Ashley turned to Emmi, who was looking at her in her father’s arms. Ashley nuzzled her daughter, making her squeal with laughter. “And then this one!”
“And then our second son.” Draco added.
“I hope not.” Ashley answered. “For Scorpius’ sake.”
Draco frowned at her meaning.
“That would kill him, you know.” Ashley told him, “To have to share his father’s attention with another boy. Little girls have special places in their father’s hearts, but boys are always competing.”
Draco was rather struck by the thought, unknowing in his lack of siblings.
“A girl, then.” Draco nodded in agreement, “Sounds about right.”
“Valora, let’s go!” Ashley called exasperatedly.
Valora gave Fleur a peck on the cheek, jumping up into Bill’s arms for one last hug, quickly moving down the line of Hermione, Ron, Ginny and Harry, giving one last quick hug to Fleur.
“We’ll see you all tonight for dinner!” Ashley called to them, waving at the three couples as Valora bounded up to them.
Ashley offered Valora her hand, who accepted, waving back to her aunts and uncles once more as Draco and Ashley turned to head in the opposite direction.
It was silent for a moment, Ashley’s heels clicking loudly on the emptying platform. She watched as families started exiting the wall back into the London platforms, heading back to their quiet homes, empty of their children.
“We didn’t do too bad, for twenty years.” Draco offered, rubbing the soft silk of her shirt on her belly.
Ashley smiled, kissing him on the corner of his mouth, “No, we didn’t. Not bad at all.”
A/N: Well...that's the end! I would like to extend a heartfelt "Thank You" to all of those you read, it meant absolutely the world to me to know that you enjoyed the story. I would espically like to give my gratitude to all of those who reviewed, you have no idea how awesome it was to get feedback on my writing. It took me four years to write this story, and I can't thank you all enough for sticking with it from begining to end (I DO realize how long the whole thing was! :) ). I would like to give a special shout at to Leslie, who really gave me some awesome feedback and was such a dedicated reivewer and reader for my first piece of writing that I sumbitted on this site. You all are so wonderful, and I hope to see you all come back and read my future peices! Thank you!