Chapter 7 : The New Year
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“Scorpius, your father and I are leaving.” Scorpius re-entered the living room from the balcony to say farewell. Astoria stood in the entrance, lavishly decked out in black silk and the goblin-made jewels from Draco. Her fur coat was draped over her arm. She looked devastatingly beautiful.
“Mum, you’re gorgeous,” Scorpius complimented.
“Thank you, love,” she said with a smile. “Now you have your gift for the Fairbothams?”
“Yes, Mum. I’ve got it right here.” He patted his coat pocket.
In response to the Fairbotham’s invitation, Astoria had made matching leather ID cases for Scorpius to take to them. “I think they’ll like them very much, mother,” he said with some certainty.
Draco entered the room, resplendent in his dress robes. “Have fun tonight, Scorpius.” Scorpius could see his father’s eyes glowing at the sight of Astoria.
“Thank you, Father. I know you and Mother will have a wonderful evening.” Astoria gave her son a wink as they walked out the door.
“Is Master Scorpius ready to go?” Billie inquired, as she entered the room.
“Yes, Billie, I am ready. Thank you.” Taking Billie’s hand she apparated them with a ‘pop’.
They arrived in a darkened area at the side of Cornelius’ house. Scorpius looked up at the all-brick, modest, 2-story residence. “I guess I will meet you here, Billie, at 12:30 in the morning.”
“Yes Master Scorpius, that is correct.” She pulled a gold chain from off her neck. A small charm in the shape of a snitch dangled in the moonlight. “Put this on, Master Scorpius. If you need me before the appointed time, all you have to do is hold the snitch in your hand and say, ‘home’. I will immediately come for you.”
Scorpius realized the sense of this. Since he was underage, he had left his wand at home. Should there be a problem he’d have no way of contacting her. Now it appeared the problem was solved.
“Thanks, Billie. You are fantastic.”
She actually blushed at him before apparating.
Scorpius made his way around the house. White Christmas lights adorned the front door and the outline of the roof. He could hear the faint noise of Jazzy Christmas music coming from inside. He firmly knocked.
Both Cornelius and Justine greeted him at the door.
“Scorpius!” They cried in unison. Justine hugged him tightly, while Cornelius thumped him on the back.
“Welcome, mate! Please come in,” Cornelius gestured. Justine simply dragged him by the arm. “It’s so good to see you,” she gushed.
Scorpius flushed with pleasure. It felt right to be with them again.
In the entranceway, Cornelius took Scorpius’ coat and hung it in the closet. He let out a whistle.
“You didn’t have to dress up for me, mate! Although, mum will be impressed.”
Scorpius looked down at his gray slacks, white shirt, dark tie, and navy v-neck jumper.
“Well, mum has definite ideas on fashion,” he admitted sheepishly. He contrasted sharply with Cornelius’ jeans and Manchester United sweatshirt. Justine was dressed similarly to Cornelius, only in jeans and a bright orange Chudley Cannons sweatshirt. Her long, dark hair tumbled down her shoulders.
“Come and meet my parents.”
Gary and Gemma Fairbotham greeted Scorpius with open arms. Gemma was short, with blonde curly hair and Cornelius’ countenance. Gary was tall and thin with the same hair colour as Cornelius, although flecked with gray, and Cornelius’ sparkling eyes. Mr. & Mrs. Fairbotham wore matching black sweaters with a large, silver snowflake embroidered in the center.
“We are so delighted to meet you,” Gary said with enthusiasm, shaking Scorpius’ hand.
“Cornelius has talked about you so much,” Gemma interjected. “You’ve been such a help to him getting adjusted to Magic.”
“Meeting Cornelius has been a boon to me as well.” Jussy lightly punched him in the shoulder. “Jussy, too,” he added with a smile.
Gemma beamed at him. “Cornelius, why don’t you take your friends upstairs? We’ll call you when it is time to make Pizza.”
“Right, mum,” Cornelius answered. Looking at Jussy and Scorpius he said, “Shall we?”
“One moment,” Scorpius said and he went to retrieve the package from his coat pocket. Presenting the gold-wrapped package to Gemma he said, “Happy New Year, Mr. & Mrs. Fairbotham. Thank you so much for the invitation.”
Gemma exclaimed over the leather ID cases. “Oh my goodness, Scorpius, these are gorgeous! There was no need for this!” She looked at him in astonishment while lovingly fingering the leather.
“It’s just a little something to say, thank you. My mum made them.”
“She is quite the artist,” Gary observed.
Scorpius smiled broadly, “that she is.”
Gemma raised her eyebrows at her son. “A young man with manners and he knows how to dress? You could learn a lot from this one, Cornelius.”
The trio headed up to Cornelius’ room.
“So, how was your Christmas?” Justine asked, once they were upstairs in Cornelius' room. There was a twin bunk bed set, a small desk and a small dresser all done in solid maple. Cornelius’ school trunk was in the corner.
“It was very nice, Jussy, thanks.” He told them about the broom and the Quidditch camp.
“Wicked,” was her response. “I wish we could go with you!”
“Why can’t we?” Cornelius asked.
Jussy and Scorpius were silent for a moment.
“Seriously,” he asked, looking from Scorpius to Justine and then back at Scorpius again, “why can’t Jussy and I go to? Is it that insanely expensive?”
Scorpius responded, “I honestly don’t know. I think my dad receives a huge discount.” He gave them the information he had about the camp.
“Brilliant,” Jussy said. “We will see what we can do.”
“How was your Christmas, Jussy?” Scorpius asked, conversationally.
“Oh, you know, the usual.”
“No, actually we don’t know, the usual.” Cornelius emphasized.
“Ok, Ok,” she said with exasperation. “We spent Christmas Day at my muggle grandparents’ house. Dad gave me a broom, not as nice as yours,” she said, looking at Scorpius, “but a nice one, nonetheless, “and my Chudley Cannons sweatshirt.”
“Where’s you mum,” ask Scorpius. He had noticed her omission.
“Mum died when I was 3.” She looked up at the shocked faces of her best friends. “It’s alright, I don’t really remember her. I just have a few vague pictures in my head.”
Scorpius was in appalled. “I had no idea, Jussy.”
“I don't talk about it much, so no dramatics, guys, please. Dad’s been pretty blown up about it all these years. He never goes out. It’s just work at the Ministry of Magic and caring for me.” She nodded at Cornelius. “Cornelius offered me the guest room tonight and I was hoping Dad would actually go out.” She sighed. “I’m afraid all he’s doing is having the guys over for Wizard’s poker and firewhiskey. But at least it’s a start.”
“Cornelius, Justine, and Scorpius! Come on down for food!” Gemma called from the foot of the stairs.
The somber moment was broken at the mention of food.
Scorpius had never seen anything like it. The Fairbothams’ kitchen island was set up as a series of stations. On one end were perfectly rolled out circles of personal pizza crusts, next to them were bowls containing different sauces. There were also bowls of pizza toppings including pepperoni, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, etc, and then finally bowls of cheese. Gary was staffing the grill.
“We’ve always done a ‘make your own pizza’ night for New Years,” Gemma explained. “Cornelius, show them how it’s done.”
Cornelius took the lead and Scorpius and Justine followed suit.
“Does your family do anything like this?”
Before Scorpius could answer Cornelius intervened, “Mum,” he groaned, “they have a house elf—I told you.”
Scorpius didn’t want to appear like a snob, “My mum is not much of a cook,” he explained.
“No need to explain, Scorpius.” She slapped Cornelius upside the head.
“Mind your manners!”
The dinner was absolutely delicious. After Pizza, they all enjoyed a generous helping of Gemma’s trifle and mugs of hot chocolate. Then, out came the scrabble board.
“No magical terms,” Gary said sternly. “This game will be played muggle-style.”
In the end, Gary was the winner. He refused to allow Cornelius to use the word ‘snitch’ even though there was a muggle definition as well as the magical one.
“Oh no,” Gemma cried. “We missed the New Year countdown!” They all noticed that the clock read 12:15am.
“Oh, no matter, darling,” Gary said as he kissed her. Scorpius, Justine, and Cornelius hugged each other.
They all worked together to pick up the pieces of the game until Gary reminded Cornelius if the time. Cornelius then walked Scorpius to the side of the house, with a couple of minutes to spare.
“Thanks again, Cornelius, for the invitation. I had a wonderful time.” Scorpius was stuffed full of food and laughter.
“You’re welcome, I’ll see you in a few days at King’s Cross.” They shook hands cordially as Billie appeared. With one last wave of his hand, Scorpius was gone.
It was dark back at the flat in Prague. The fire burned low in the living room and moonlight flooded the windows. His parents hadn’t returned yet and probably wouldn’t be back for a few more hours. They weren’t due at the Krums’ until noon.
Scorpius glanced around as he walked to his room. Everything was very formal and elegant in contrast to the casual comfort of the Fairbothams. Priceless antiques were artfully placed everywhere; they were the last remnants of Malfoy Manor. Original muggle art adorned the walls. There weren’t any wizard portraits anywhere. His father had insisted on that.
Entering his room, he yawned widely. Quickly he changed into his pajamas, crawled into bed and fell sound asleep.
At 11:45 the next morning, the Malfoy’s were all set to attend the New Year’s brunch at the Krums. All were arrayed in their dress robes. Draco wore black, Astoria wore white, and Scorpius wore gray. They donned on their winter coats for the short walk to the Krums.
The Malfoy’s flat was located near Wenceslas Square in Old Town. It was nice, but it was nothing compared to the Krum mansion. Victor Krum had done well for himself after a successful Quidditch career. His marriage into one of the most notable magical families in Czechoslovakia cemented his fortune.
The mansion was unplottable, so muggles couldn’t see it. As the Malfoys walked closer to its location, it suddenly appeared as they drew closer. Even though he’d grown up with magic, it always amazed him to see its appearance without any of the nearby muggles noticing.
Inside the house soft music played in the background. House elves carried trays of hors d’oeuvres, Moldavian Mead and Bulgarian Butterbeer. An enormous stone table in the grand hall overflowed with food. The twittering of soft conversation accompanied the music.
Viktor Krum eagerly greeted them. “Happy New Year!” He said with glee, his voice still stilted with his Bulgarian accent. His wife, Galina, stood by his side. “Draco, it is good to see you, Astoria, Scorpius,..” he nodded to them as he said each name.
Draco immediately began some small talk with their host. Astoria smiled benignly and Scorpius stood a little way from the group.
“Good afternoon, Scorpius, and a Happy New Year to you,” greeted Damien Krum, Viktor and Galina’s only child. He was a burley boy, very similar to his father. Scorpius responded to him in kind.
“Are you enjoying your break?” Scorpius asked, politely. He didn’t quite know what else to say to him. He knew Damien was in Slytherin and was probably friends with the Notts, Zabinis, and the Parkinson-Jones’, all of whom stopped speaking to Scorpius the moment the sorting hat put him in Hufflepuff.
“Yes, I am, thank you. Mother is glad to hav me home. I think she still vishes I was sent to Durmstrang.”
Scorpius smiled in understanding, his own father wished his son was attending Durmstrang instead of Hogwarts.
“But, I am happy at Hogwarts. I will see you at school, yes?”
“Oh, yes, I’ll see you later.” Scorpius watched as Damien joined his parents in greeting the other guests. Most of the guests were arriving by floo. The Malfoys were one of the few families who chose to walk.
Scorpius could see families of the Slytherins congregated near one side of the buffet. His Father was now chatting with Theodore Nott, while Mother was still held close to Draco’s side. Scorpius made a point of loading his plate from the opposite end and then found a secluded table off to the side.
While he was eating, one of the conversations caught his attention.
“…it’s a shame, really. So much was riding on his success at Hogwarts. But what kind of success can he hope to possibly achieve now?” Scorpius recognized the whiny voice of Pansy Parkinson-Jones.
“I’m really surprised as well,” contributed Blaise Zabini. “I would have pulled my son out immediately if something disastrous like that happened. Better he should be at Durmstrang or even Beauxbaton, than where he is now.”
Pansy wasn’t finished, yet. “Why is it that he’s always right by Astoria’s side? It’s rather indecent how he’s all over her.”
“I don’t know, darling,” Peter said, “if you looked like that, I’d be doing the same thing.” Blaise laughed at Pansy’s expense.
“It is a disappointment, really, this whole thing about Scorpius,” Blaise continued. “I wonder if it will affect his father’s business?”
Peter answered, “His business will be fine, it’s just that his son will never amount to anything, now.”
Scorpius stopped eating. He looked around to see exactly where that group was located. They were over to his right. Blaise Zabini and Peter Jones had their backs to Scorpius, but Pansy locked eyes with him. She sneered.
His face pink, Scorpius stood up from his chair and walked away. In the quiet and dark library, located far from the guests, he sat down in one of the leather chairs and buried his face in his hands.
“It doesn’t matter what they say,” he whispered to himself. “They are all a bunch of prats, the whole lot of them.”
He concentrated on one image. He visualized his wall calendar in his bedroom. The calendar that showed he only had 2 more days until taking the Hogwart’s Express back to school.
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