Chapter 5 : Chapter five.
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“You think you’ve still got it, old man?” James Potter taunted, tossing the ball from hand to hand, and causing Harry to grin broadly.
“Oh, I know I’ve still got it, son.” The middle aged father announced, tapping the bat boldly against the grass, “Who exactly do you think gave it to you in the first place? Your mother?”
“Oi!” Called Ginny from the other end of the garden, “You’re asking for it, you know that Potter?”
Harry ignored her, with a mischievous grin. Then he nodded to his eldest son, indicating that he was ready for the ball to be pitched. Lily was standing behind her father, hands cupped, certain to catch the ball if he should miss, while Albus was loafing at the other end of the garden, shifting his weight from foot to foot, and looking about as out of place as Professor Trelawney sipping tea with the muggle Queen of England.
Rose watched keenly as James reared up, winding back his arm ready for the throw, then she noticed Scorpius sitting against the fence, leaning back and watching the family’s antics with a grin on his face. He glanced at her, as if sensing her gaze, and then he waved a hand in offer of a welcome.
Rose smiled, heading over to him. “Hello.”
“Hi.” He said, grinning as he looked away. At once she could tell that events of the previous evening were to be swept immediately beneath the proverbial rug. To look at him now, one would never be inclined to believe that this was the same boy who had been so very lost in her presence, just yesterday.
She wanted to say How are you? or perhaps What happened after I left you yesterday? But the boyish grin on his face kept her from asking either question, and instead she found herself leaning back beside him, her arms crossed and her brow furrowing as she followed his line of vision out towards the game at hand.
Harry had just given the ball such a whacking that Aunt Ginny was now crawling on her hands and knees through the shrubbery at the other end of the garden, attempting to retrieve it. Rose bit her lip to keep from grinning.
“What’s the score?” she asked, glancing nonchalantly in Scorpius’s direction.
The boy laughed, then raised his hands, “Don’t ask me,” he exclaimed, shaking his head. “This Muggle sport eludes me entirely. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite so primitive!”
“Primitive?” Harry called out, catching the end of the conversation. He shook his bat at Scorpius. “You want to play, don’t you boy?”
Scorpius gave a grand shrug, and then James was in front of them, pulling both kids to their feet.
“No no no!” Rose protested, but James Potter wouldn’t hear of it.
“C’mon,” he insisted, dragging her up by the arm and grinning at Scorpius as he followed. “It’s the summer, Rosie, let yourself have some fun.”
“I’ve told you before, James Potter, I don’t play sports!” Rose protested, and with that, she wrenched her arm free, glaring at him good naturedly. “Now, if you don’t mind-”
“Help me out here, Malfoy.” James interrupted, raising his brows at Scorpius, “We’re loosing the girl to books and premeditated homework!”
“Just like her mother, that one!” her Uncle Harry called out as he dashed over to join them.
“C’mon Rosie,” Lily added with an imploring smile, “You can’t be any worse than Albus.”
“Hey!” Came a protest from the other end of the garden. Albus had now joined his mother in her hunt for the lost ball. “I’m not that bad!” he shot over his left shoulder.
Rose looked around at the family, feeling affronted. “Fine.” She finally grimaced in admission, as she took the bat from Harry, “But I’m not being on James’s team.”
“Fine.” James agreed, sticking his chest out haughtily, “Then you can have Albus.”
“Good.” Rose responded, fighting the urge to stick her tongue out at her irritating older cousin. “Then I’ll have Lily and Aunt Ginny, too.”
James frowned. “I get Dad then.” He said, crossing his arms. “And Scorpius.”
Scorpius grinned, looking between the two, while Harry raised his eyebrows and asked “Why do I get the feeling this is going to end in a fist fight between Rosie and my eldest?”
James grinned at his father. “Relax dad.” He said, “I would never hurt sweet, helpless little Rosie.” He patted her innocently atop her dark blonde curls, causing her cheeks to puff out in annoyance.
Harry laughed again. “It’s not you that I’m worried about, son.”
Scorpius followed James as he led him to the centre of the garden and tossed the ball at him without warning. “You can pitch, Malfoy.” He said, nodding at Rose who was standing a couple of metres in front of him, holding the bat menacingly in her slender hands. “Dad,” he called to Harry, “You’d better be back-stop. Rosie’s bound to miss.”
“Shuttup James!” She called out, but he ignored her, backing away towards the first stump.
“Go on then, Malfoy.” Rose said, giving the bat a few practice swings, before jutting her chin out at him menacingly. “Do your worst.”
Scorpius glanced around as Lily and Mrs Potter flexed their fingers, little grins on their faces. And Albus just stared up at the sky, uninterested.
He rolled his arm back in the same way he’d seen James do it, then he propelled his body forward, letting the heavy ball whoosh! out into the space that separated himself and the beautiful Weasley girl. She had an expression of grim determination upon her face, and as the ball whizzed towards her, she brought the bat forwards, meeting the flying object with a loud crack, and sending it all the way across the garden, curving in a magnificent arc as it disappeared around the front of the house. There was a moment of silence while the Potters all looked at each other in surprise at her achievement, then a sickeningly loud ‘bang’, followed by an even louder howl of pain as the ball met an unintended target.
Rose dropped the bat, looking horrified, and Harry instantly dashed forwards, leaving the others all frozen in various states of alarm, before James shook it off and followed after his dad.
“It’s okay!” Came the call from the front of the house, and a moment later James and Harry reappeared holding an arm each of the young man between them. The man’s hair was a startlingly bright blue, but it slowly faded to a sandy blonde as the dazed look on his face relented, and he seemed to return to his senses. Scorpius just gawped at him, but the others rushed forwards.
“Oh, Teddy!” Mrs Potter was gushing as she inspected the rather large bruise on his forehead. “Here.” She conjured a pack of ice from thin air, then held it up against his temple. “That better?”
“Much, thanks Ginny.” He said, releasing himself from Harry and James’s grip, and taking the ice pack from the woman’s hand. He pressed it gingerly against his ugly looking wound, then glanced around at the various worried looking faces. A grin split out over his expression. “Come on, you lot.” He said, shaking his head, “What do you take me for? Some sort of nancy-boy? Takes more than a rounders ball to hurt me.”
Rose gave a rather loud sniff, and his attention turned to her. “You’ve been practicing that swing of yours, cutie.” He said, giving her a friendly smile. “James,” he added, turning to the eldest Potter boy. “You should see about having your cousin instated as a beater on the Gryffindor team. She’s bloody impressive.”
Rose’s dismayed expression turned slowly into an impish smile.
Scorpius continued to stare at the young man, and it became instantly apparent to him that this man was incredibly loved by the Potter family. Harry and Ginny were both smiling at him with genuine concern and affection, while the kids- and James in particular- were all gazing up at him as if he were some kind of idol. The man, Teddy- as Ginny had called him, looked perfectly at ease with this affection, and for another tiny instant, Scorpius felt jealous.
“And who’s this?” Teddy asked, his eyes meeting Scorpius’s over Lily Potter’s head. He smiled warmly, and Scorpius smiled sheepishly back.
“Ted, this is Scorpius Malfoy.” Harry said without reservation. It seemed apparent that he believed this man would accept Scorpius without any trepidation. “He’s come to stay with us for the holidays.”
Teddy stepped forward, “Nice to meet you, kid.” He said, holding out his hand in friendly welcome. “Never met a Malfoy before. S’a pleasure.”
Scorpius didn’t know what to say, so he just nodded curtly, shaking the other man’s hand.
“What’re you doing here, Teddy?” asked Lily eventually, giving him a wry grin, “It’s not lunchtime yet.”
Teddy laughed, ruffling her hair and causing her to protest. “Don’t just come here for the food, Lily.” He grinned. “As it happens, I have a bit of news.”
“Ooh,” murmured Lily, with a smirk, “Vicky’s pregnant? Or you’re moving in together? Or you’re-“
“I proposed to her last night, and she said yes.” Teddy beamed.
“Oh,” Harry grinned, clapping a hand to the younger man’s shoulder, “Ted, that’s fantastic news!”
“Your parents would be so proud.” Ginny added, taking his other shoulder, and pressing a kiss to his smooth cheek. “I bet Bill and Fleur are over the moon for you both!”
“Naturally.” Teddy grinned.
“This is perfect!” Lily zipped, throwing her arms around Teddy’s midsection.
“Finally, a fully-fledged member of the Potter-Weasley family tree.” James added, giving his life-long idol a big grin. “It’s brilliant, mate.”
“She’s not pregnant, is she?” Albus asked. Everyone laughed.
“No.” Teddy conceded, “I’m a traditionalist.” He grinned, “I actually came over to invite you all to our engagement party. We’ve decided that the end of summer will be the perfect time for us to be married, but we want a big family get together this weekend. What d’you say?”
“Of course!” Ginny gushed, kissing his cheek again. “At the Burrow? With mum, and dad, and food?”
“Only the best.”
“Brilliant!” James punched the air, and Lily whooped.
“You’ll come too, won’t you Scorpius?”
Half an hour until they had to leave, and Scorpius still hadn’t decided between his two smartest sets of dress robes. He shuddered as he held them up against himself again, but a voice in the back of his head insisted that he had to be as formal as possible. Something told him that the Weasley Family reaction to him could be just as volatile as the initial reaction of their daughter and youngest son.
Now, Scorpius didn’t like to fret about things before they had occurred, but Albus had already warned them that the Weasleys were a big family. A very big family.
He held the more formal of the two robes against himself for the twentieth time, and he raised his chin slightly, trying to look a little smarter. Both were black, the first embroidered with emerald, and the other with silver. They reminded him of his father, and though it had been a while since he’d allowed himself to think of his dad, this time he couldn’t help himself. When he eventually decided on the black and green robes, he found his dad staring back at him through the mirror, and as much as it unnerved him, it also hurt.
His dad had brought him up alone, and they had been close friends, as well as family. With dad, there was no need to hide who he was, and there was no disdain for his surname. There was just kinship, and unity, loyalty, and love.
And now all of that was gone. Eviscerated, in one tragic night. And he was never going to get that back.
As wonderful as Harry Potter and his family had been, (and they really had been wonderful), it would still be a very long time before this hurt stopped... Hurting.
Scorpius sighed again, doing the buttons up to his neck, and then smoothing his hands down over his flat chest and stomach. He turned slowly to see himself from the side, and he felt his dad’s eyes follow.
Scorpius turned sharply to see Harry standing in the doorway, wearing bright scarlet robes, embellished all over with yellow swirls and patterns. The older man regarded Scorpius’s own attire with an almost cautious look in his eye, then he stepped silently into the room, closing the door quietly behind him.
“I’m wearing the wrong thing, aren’t I?” Scorpius asked with a sigh, glaring down at his outfit for the umpteenth time. “I don’t think I’m cut out for all this, Mr Potter.”
“Harry.” The man emphasised, again. And then he came to stand behind Scorpius, framing himself in the mirror with him, and placing a paternal hand upon his small shoulder. “You know, you look exactly as your father did at this age. I think that he’d be very proud to see you now.”
Scorpius looked down. “He’d be the only one.” He mumbled, almost bitterly.
Harry frowned. “Of course he wouldn’t.” He countered, giving the shoulder a squeeze. “You have to start believing in yourself sometime, Scorpius. Your father wouldn’t want to see you wallowing in self-pity.”
This, Scorpius knew, was actually true. He looked up, meeting Harry’s eyes in the mirror and recognising the affection there. He recognised it, because it was the same look he’d seen the man give to Teddy Lupin. It astounded him that he could have earned it for himself so quickly, but he didn’t question it. He didn’t want to risk losing it.
“Do you have something else that I could wear?” He asked eventually, looking again at Harry’s outfit and instinctively knowing that all of the Potters and Weasleys would be dressed just as brightly. He scorned himself for not assuming so in the first place.
“Oh, I don’t know,” Harry shook his head, “I’m fairly fond of the robes you have on. Did you get them from Madame Malkins?”
“Yeah,” Scorpius said, tilting his head slightly, “Dad took me to Diagon Alley a couple of weeks before he... And...and these were what he needed to pick up. It was a surprise.”
“Well, they’re magnificent.” Harry smiled. “Draco Malfoy’s tastes must have improved in recent years.”
Scorpius grinned ruefully. “Only in recent years.” He confessed, causing Harry to chuckle.
“Well,” Harry said eventually, “How about this? I know that domestic charms are among my wife’s many talents, so how about I have her temporarily exchange the colour of the embroidery for the colour of the robes. How do green robes sound?”
Scorpius searched his own eyes in the mirror for a moment, and then he smiled. “Sounds good.” He said. “Sounds perfect.”
Harry smiled, giving Scorpius’s shoulder another warm squeeze. “I’d better get right to it, then.” He said, “We have to be off soon.”
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