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Chapter 3 : Haunted
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His emerald green eyes watched Ginny closely as she stared unseeingly down at her bowl of cereal that was slowly turning soggy. He cleared his throat, “Ginny? Ginny?”
“Hum?” Ginny looked up, making sure her eyes did not meet his.
“Is everything alright?” Harry asked softly.
“Of course, everything’s fine,” she replied, forcing a smile to her lips. “Don’t you have to be in work early today?”
Harry frowned, “Yes I do. I’m going in a minute.” He rose and put his dishes in the sink. “Don’t forget that you’re taking Lily to play with Hugo later.”
“For goodness sake, Harry!” Ginny snapped impatiently. “I know that, I know what I’m doing, I don’t need to be reminded as if I’m some sort of incompetent fool!”
Harry’s eyebrows rose in surprise, Ginny wasn’t always the happiest person in the morning but she was never short with him and didn’t shout over the smallest thing. “Alright, I was only saying.”
Ginny gave him a sharp nod and picked up her glass of juice, “Have a good day, Harry.”
“You too, Ginny.” Seeming as she wasn’t looking at him any more and had in effect dismissed him from the house, for the first morning since they had started living together Harry stormed off to work without kissing his wife good bye.
As soon as she heard the telltale crack that told her Harry had apparated Ginny let out a long breath and sank back into her seat. She yawned and made a face at the lumpy, soggy mess that was trying to pass itself off as cereal. Collecting the dishes together Ginny began to clean up, her eyes on the horizon waiting for a sign of Pepper, the owl they had bought for Albus to attend Hogwarts with.
Today was his first morning at Hogwarts, he was sure to write to them, wasn’t he? He would want them to know what house he was in and what he had thought of the school.
“Oh please let him write.” Ginny muttered as she manually scrubbed at the plate beneath the frothing bubbles. “He might mention Scorpius.”
“Can I have toast this morning, mummy?” Lily asked, startling Ginny out of her trance as she padded into the kitchen, her dark hair in a knotted mass down her back and her eyes still heavy with sleep.
“What? Oh, yes if you like.” Ginny agreed, pulling the plate from the water and moving around the kitchen, not taking her eyes from the window. “Sleep well, Lily?”
“Yes, I had a dream that daddy and Uncle Ron went flying in our car. Isn’t that funny?” Lily giggled.
“What?” Ginny deposited a plate of toast and jam in front of her daughter. “Yes, it’s lovely, Lily.”
Lily frowned up at her mother but decided against saying anything and concentrated on eating her breakfast instead. She almost jumped out of her skin when she heard her mother give a triumphant yell and rush to the window allowing Pepper access to the room.
Her heart racing wildly in her chest Ginny untied the letter with trembling hands and she hurried from the room to lock herself into the small study Harry used for his auror work. Easing herself into the black leather chair she pressed her hand against her heart for a moment and took a deep breath before tearing at the seal.
Dear Mum, dad and Lily,
Might as well get it all out in the open before you hear about it from James. I’m in Slytherin. Getting sorted was horrible, I had to wait in line for ages and then the headmistress McGonagall called us up one by one. It was the strangest thing, but when she called some of us her voice got all choked up like she was going to start crying or something, it happened when she called me. Anyway, I know I told dad that I didn’t want to be in Slytherin, but I was so nervous with everyone watching me that I forgot to tell the hat that I wanted to be in Gryffindor. James gave me a really horrible look, you know the one mum, when he gives me the evil eyes, all because I ended up in Slytherin, but I remembered what you said about Severus Snape, dad; so I don’t care what he thinks!
It’s not all that bad, when I went to sit at the Slytherin table I ended up sitting by all these older students and there was only one first year at my part of the table, a boy called Scorpius Malfoy….
“Oh thank you! Thank you Merlin,” Ginny whispered clutching her son’s letter tight to her chest. Closing her eyes briefly she allowed herself to get lost in the relief she felt and the strong sense of hope flooding her body. Sighing softly Ginny returned to the letter.
…. He’s very nice, and we got on really well until we left the feast to go to the common room and he realised who I was. His father told him that he wasn’t to be friends with muggle borns, but he actually said the word, you know, the horrible word, or any of the Weasleys or the Potters…….
“Damn! Damn Draco Malfoy to hell!” Ginny seethed, her teeth biting down on her lower lip. She should have guessed that Malfoy would do something like this, drill it into his son’s head that he wasn’t to mix with any of the blood traitors and mudbloods; especially Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley’s children.
What was she going to do now? How could she learn about Scorpius if he wouldn’t befriend Albus?
A scowl creased Ginny’s forehead at the interruption. “Not now, Lily I’m busy.”
“But mummy, we’re supposed to be going to see Hugo today,” Lily reminded her from the door way.
“Not now, Lily! Go away!” Ginny yelled without even sparing her daughter a glance. She heard the slippered feet of her child padding away and she sighed heavily, she’d make it up to her later with hugs and kisses. Now she had more important things to worry about.
Running a hand through her long red hair Ginny dragged her mind back from cursing Malfoy to finish reading the letter, there might be more in it about Scorpius.
…. I know that we’re supposed to listen to our fathers and everything, but neither of us know anyone else in Slytherin, so we thought that we would be friends until we made new ones and we wouldn’t need each other. We share a dormitory and we have beds next to each other and we decided to sit together in class, only until we make new friends. That will be ok won’t it? That’s not really disobeying is it? It’s only for a little while. He has a pet kitten with him, it’s so small, like a ball of black fluff and it has a silver collar; Scorpius really wanted to be in Slytherin. We decided that I could play with Quibbles, that’s his name and Scorpius would use Pepper to send letters to his father. He wrote to his father too so he couldn’t use Pepper today because I’ve used him, but he can borrow him whenever he wants.
I saw Neville sitting at the teachers table and he waved to me, but I don’t have Herbology until Wednesday. I’m looking forward to classes but I’m not giving Neville love so don’t ask me to!
I’m going to finish my letter here because Scoripus and me are going to play a game of chess before bed, he really likes chess too. We’re going to explore a bit tomorrow after class so I’ll have more to say about the school then. I’ll write and let you know if we find anything exciting.
Missing you all already.
Ginny smiled easily, if they were anything like their father’s she was pretty sure that Albus and Scorpius would come across something exciting. Taking a quill from the stand she smoothed out a piece of parchment on the desk and considered her reply with a creased brow. She was going to have to tread very carefully to get around or out wit Draco Malfoy on this.
Silently she prayed that Scorpius would have enough sense not to mention his temporary friendship with Albus in his letter to his father. If Malfoy got even a tiny sniff of the fact that she was beginning to push herself into his sons life she wouldn’t put it past him to whip Scorpius out of Hogwarts quicker than she could blink.
Determination, new and strong moved through her body and Ginny decided she would not allow Draco Malfoy to do that, she would do what she had to do to see Scorpius and make sure nothing got back to Malfoy. She would out wit him, her own dopey brother had managed it in the past; Ginny was sure that she could do it.
Eleven years had gone by while she wondered about him, read the society pages every day for any hint or a snippet of news about Scorpius Malfoy; but the Malfoy heir had been well concealed, kept away from the public eye.
Poorly constructed pictures in her mind, a personality that she knew nothing about had haunted her, it was all she had of Scorpius Malfoy; now the child was in touching distance and Ginny was damned if she would give him up without a fight.
“He has a right. Surely Scorpius has a right to know,” Ginny said to the empty room as she began to write her reply.
* * *
Draco Malfoy sat in his office at Malfoy Hall waiting for the first letter from his son. He had taken the morning off work for this purpose, so that he would be at home when the letter arrived.
He liked his office, polished surfaces, soft carpet and expensive decoration, exactly what befitted a Malfoy. Only himself and Scorpius were allowed in here, and of course the house elf who cleaned it. He had put certain charms and spells on the door to ensure that Astoria was unable to enter the room whether he was there or not. He didn’t want her there, he didn’t want her around him; but he was stuck in this hideous marriage for the duration and there was nothing he could do about it.
“Shouldn’t have been so weak,” he muttered angrily.
But he hadn’t been weak, he had been grieving, his heart had been devastated, his life torn to bits and he hadn’t had the strength to sort things out for himself. His ever devoted father had of course stepped in and made everything worse! “Bloody prison sentence that’s what he’s given me,” Draco complained bitterly to his calculations.
He was currently working on a new formula for a potion; that was what he did. He was a potions expert. He created new potions, he analyzed unidentified potions the aurors confiscated and he created antidotes as needed. Draco liked the neat order of potions, the familiar ingredients and calculations soothed him. After such a tremulous time in his life he now liked order and control.
His lips curled into a smile of anticipation when an unfamiliar owl swooped through the window and landed on his desk, an envelope tied to its leg. Excitedly Draco reached for the letter, his heart lifting at the sight of his son’s neat but still childish hand written in black ink across the creamy paper.
Settling back into his chair Draco unfolded the letter and began to read:
I did it! I got into Slytherin! It was touch and go for a few minutes though, the hat was going on about Ravenclaw, you said I might make that house didn’t you? But I asked to go to Slytherin and the hat agreed with me. The common room is just like you described it. It feels weird being there and knowing you’ve already been there, that you used to hang out in the same room. But good weird. Quibbles is settling in alright too, but I think he misses my room, I do too. I had trouble sleeping last night, it didn’t feel right knowing you weren’t just down the hall, but I suppose I’ll get used to it.
Guess what? One of the prefects, a guy named Pucey says that his father was a year above you in school, he was in Slytherin as well and was on the Quidditch team with you. He says that on the weekend we can go out to the pitch and see if I’m as good a Seeker as you were! He says if I am that I should go for the tryouts when they start. Wouldn’t it be great if I could be a Seeker like you?
I’ve been talking to the boys I share a dormitory with, they seem ok and we had a bit of a chess tournament last night before bed, just to sort of get to know each other a bit. The one of them has an owl so he says I can use his owl Pepper to send letters in future rather than a school owl, and they all like Quibbles.
I’m going to explore the castle a bit tomorrow after class, see what‘s about. I have potions tomorrow, I hope I’m as good as you are at it! That giant you told me about is still teaching here, I hope he’s not as difficult to understand as he was when he taught you. I don’t have him until Tuesday anyway. That Trelawny woman is still here as well, she looks a bit batty, but I can’t wait for divination tomorrow.
I wish that I could just attend Hogwarts as a day school. I know I’ll end up having fun here, but it’s not the same without you, I miss you already! I try not to, Malfoys aren’t weak that way, but I can’t help it. Don’t tell Grandfather Lucius! Dad, you won’t forget to take the flowers everyday will you? I know you’re busy but please try not to forget.
Lots of love and kisses to Grandmother Cissy and Grandfather Lucius. Miss you.
P.S. say hi to mum for me.
Draco read and re-read the letter for ten minutes. His heart ached dully at the forced excitement and the misery hidden between the lines. He knew Hogwarts would be a good experience for Scorpius, that he would make some good friends there and learn a lot; but he couldn’t help wanting his son home again where he could see him. He’d had to put on such a brave face to say goodbye to Scorpius. He couldn’t keep him wrapped up in cotton wool forever; he had to allow him to grow up, make his own decisions, do his own thing. However, there was nothing he could do to suppress the burning urge to have his son home again and keep him close.
His head titled to the side, his eyes resting on the photograph in the gold frame that sat on his desk. He ran a hand through his hair. Placing the letter on the desk he ran both hands through his hair as he stared at the photograph; the familiar punched, gasping feeling materializing in his chest, the same feeling that always hit him when he looked at the photograph for the first time during the day.
A deep terrifying sadness and an overwhelming pain surged through his body, hitting every fiber of his being. He tried to fight it even though he knew it was useless. These were feelings he was used to; although he couldn’t figure out how to deal with them sufficiently even after eleven years.
Taking Scorpius’ letter in his one hand he pushed himself out of the chair and crossed to the open window, the deafening silence of his office hammered against his ears, pulling him down into feelings and memories that did nothing but haunt him.
There was still no sound. No breeze ruffling the leaves of the trees outside his window, no creaking of the house, no birds singing. Nothing except the blood rushing in his veins and a small whimpering sound.
Draco’s eyes scanned the neatly trimmed grass of his garden, over to the right just in the corner of his window he could see the fountain; first clearly, then double then through a film of tears. He heard that whimpering sound again, he gripped the window ledge as hard as he could in an effort to steady his emotions.
He had cried before, of course he had. Draco had cried the night his father went to Azkaban, he had cried the night the great Lord Voldemort had given him his mission, he had cried when he thought he was going to fail his mission. He had cried eleven years ago; burning hot tears that had exhausted him and had never really left him.
Every day Draco carried his pain with him. Some days he got through alright and could enjoy a deep dreamless sleep; other times he felt he would drown in the swirling emotions inside him and he would wake in a cold sweat with weak useless tears leaking down his face.
“You left me.” Draco tried to gasp back his tears. “You left me.” His voice shattered as his body shook uncontrollably.
A low, harsh sound escaped his lips and his tears stung his eyes as he tried to curb his feelings and close his throat. Lowering his head, pressing his son’s letter against his heart Draco’s body went numb and he sank to the floor, tears streaming down his face, pictures of the past flashing behind his eyes as he cried brokenly.
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