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Chapter 15 : XV - Christmas Letters
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Draco had tried to quell the thoughts in Astoria’s head by going into discussions with Blaise Zabini the possibility of Scorpius and his only daughter with Pansy, Marie, marrying. Astoria thought it was a pretty good match. Above all things she wanted her son to be happy and Marie was a good friend of his, so maybe they could achieve wedded bliss together. Ever since the birth of her son Astoria had wanted her son to be content and she wanted his marriage to be a good one filled with love and respect. She knew what it was like to love someone with all your heart and not get a grain of affection back and that was no way to live.
Astoria sat on a bench in the sprawling garden of the Malfoy Manor. She was wrapped in a thick fur coat to protect herself from the bitter winter weather. Even though it was frightfully cold it was better out here than in the restricting atmosphere of the house. Scorpius kept himself locked inside his room; Orion was spending the first half of the Christmas Holidays around his girlfriend Esmeralda’s house and the house elves and Frank the butler were always working so it seemed as if she was entirely alone most days. Her only company was the long dark shadow she cast against the bitter snow. She longed for Scorpius to come out of his room, just so she could have some civilised conversation.
A brown tawny owl fluttered across the fluted roof of the house, its long wings held aloft. Astoria immediately recognised it as Knight, Scorpius’ owl. It seemed to have just left his room and was flying on its way to deliver its message. On spotting Astoria, he swooped down to perch next to her on the arm of the bench. The owl had always liked her best of anyone in the house and he always came to see her. Astoria patted the owl, enjoying the bird’s company, noting the letter tied to the owl’s leg. Shifting its weights slightly, and Astoria caught sight of the name written on the envelope in Scorpius’ thin handwriting; “Rose Weasley”.
Astoria instantly snatched the letter from the owl’s leg. Why was her son conversing with Rose Weasley of all people? They were not in the same house, they did not move in the same circle of people so there was no connection there. But they were both prefects, maybe they both had to do a duty or something, yes that would explain it. But Astoria’s curiosity still ate away at her, and forgetting her morals she ripped open the letter, feeling the butter coloured parchment in her dark hands.
My Dearest Rose,
As I have promised you I will arrange the whole thing. For the venue I have found a charming little place by Hogwarts in Hogsmeade Village that will be easy for both of us to get to. It’s a wonderful place, with ivy climbing up the wall and brilliant stained glass windows of the Hogwarts Founders. I think it sounds perfect!
I feel I will be able to get my dress robes quite easily from Madam Malkin’s or somewhere like that. I was thinking about going somewhere a little more upmarket and try Zabini’s but Blaise is one of my father’s old friends and I’m sure he will instantly report it to him. I’m not going to go for anything that will stick out too much; we don’t want to get caught do we?
There is only one problem however. Standard wizard law states we need TWO witnesses. I’ve asked Mercutio, and while he’s a little worried about the whole plan he’s kindly agreed to be the first witness and the best man. We will however need another witness. I was thinking about your friend Julia Goshawk; I’ve always taken her as a trustworthy person. What do you think?
If we can sort the witness problem out in time I was thinking Christmas Eve as a perfect time for the wedding. After all, my father always goes out for a drink with his friends of Christmas Eve, and my mother always goes to visit Aunt Daphne. Orion is with Esmeralda in Cornwall so there will be no trouble from him. Frank can also be relied on to keep quiet. I know your grandparents always have a massive party on Christmas Eve so maybe you can dissolve into the crowds and disappear for a while. I have finally achieved side along apparition so we will be able to travel that way. I have spoken to the priest and he has a free slot at 10pm. Write back and tell me what you think.
Lots of love, Scorpius
PS. I’m so glad that in a few weeks I am going to be married to you, I can’t wait.
Astoria’s heart had stopped. Her mind was blank she was in so much shock. She barely noticed that her feet were directing her in the direction of Scorpius’ room. Astoria marched past Frank and ignored his useless questions and dashed towards her son’s room with all the speed she could manage, the letter still clutched in her trembling hand. On finally reached his room she realised she had been prepared to kick down the ancient oak door and demand things, but she suddenly felt calm. Throwing off her coat she gave a gentle knock on the old wood.
“Scorpius,” she said sweetly in the most motherly tone she could manage, “it’s only me, can I come in?” Scorpius immediately allowed her entry and came and opened the door for her like the polite gentleman he was, a second too late to see her stuff the letter in the pocket of her stylish new jacket. Scooting across the room, she sat down in a very ladylike manner and surveyed her son. He was acting as if a Queen had just appeared, showing her the utmost respect which was very unlike him.
“Is there anything you wish to tell me Scorpius?” asked Astoria, slipping across the bed to sit nearer her son, her voice as smooth as her expensive silk jacket. He had always been such a good liar, and he didn’t even look awkward as he lied through his teeth smiling gently and explaining that everything was perfectly fine. Reaching into her pocket she gave him a smile that used to grace the pages of ‘Witch Weekly’ advertising everything from high fashion to perfume.
“Would you care to tell me what this is then?” as his grey eyes that he had inherited from his father flicked across the letter in her hand. It was like a light had been switched off as he turned as white as a sheet, his grey eyes wide. There was a pregnant pause and Scorpius closed his eyes, breathing in deeply.
“Mother...I...” he began, his voice quivering, “why have you been reading my letters?” he said recovering confidence. His face was stony, masking any real emotion that hid under those silvery eyes. Astoria felt quite guilty for a brief moment, even tearing her piercing eyes away from him for a moment, but then returned to glare at him for his insolence and secrecy.
“Knight came and sat next to me, I saw the letter and it piqued my interest. As you have not spoken two words to me since you returned home from school I wanted to know what was going on in your life,” Scorpius looked away, he thought he now had to suffer, Astoria could see it in her eldest’s eyes. When he looked back his eyes were blazing with fire and anger that seemed to have suddenly ripped from his heart and coursed through his body at an immense speed.
“I don’t care what you say mother! I don’t care what father says either! I love Rose and she loves me, I don’t care for purebloods and half bloods anymore!” His usually pale face was alight with rage and Astoria watched her son, a sense of envy in her heart. He was willing to defy his father, his family and everything he supposedly believed in for Rose Weasley. Astoria wished she had that. She wished her husband would do anything for her, but all he ever did was go out with his friends and see that little bitch Pansy. What a wicked mother she would be to take everything she had ever craved from her son?
“You really love her don’t you?” said Astoria, pondering what made her son tick for the first time. Maybe she had not seen the real him all these years, maybe she had only seen what he had expected she wanted to see; a handsome, talented and prejudiced young man, scarred with the injuries of centuries of rivalry, war and death. But no, now he seemed a dreamer searching for an idyllic world, like she had been when she had been young. She thought she had found perfection in her husband, but now she realised she had been wrong.
“Yes,” he groaned, kneeling at her feet. His eyes were now lit up imploringly and she leant towards him, kissing his blonde head, taking in his adolescent aftershave and the softness of his hair. Standing up, Astoria turned away from him and glided out of the window, looking out at everything beyond the ice cold sheet of glass that she rested her prematurely wrinkled forehead upon.
“You should have told me,” Astoria said, her eyes welling with tears realising that she was just about to betray the man she had pledged her devotion and life to, “I’m going to help you Scorpius.” Turning to face her son, she caught the sense of his true happiness in his bright eyes as he ran towards her, enveloping her in his strong arms.
“Thank you,” he said breathlessly, “thank you so much!” Astoria was crushed into her son’s chest, she couldn’t believe how tall he had grown, he was now a man, not the little boy that used to play with his brother in the winding gardens of the Malfoy Manor. When he broke away, Astoria knew he wanted to talk about the logistics of the whole event, and he eyed her intensely.
“Will you be the second witness?” Astoria nodded carefully. Signing her name would be risky, but she would do it for her little boy. “And I suppose I will be Miss Weasley’s bridesmaid and maid of honour.” She could not help the hint of disgust that crept into her voice at the mention of the name Weasley, but Scorpius did not seem to notice. Scorpius nodded at this suggestion, and then took the letter from his mother’s hand, scribbling the change of plan on the bottom of the letter. He then rewrote an envelope and at that exact moment Knight appeared at the window so he tied the tan brown letter to Knight’s leg, gave the owl a friendly pat on the head and watched the bird as he flew away into the greying afternoon sky until he was a little black dot in the distance.
“I’ve written to the priest, the wedding will be at 10pm on Christmas Eve. You can wear whatever you want, nothing to fancy, you can’t look prettier than the bride!” Astoria gave her son a sad little smile; her wedding had been loud, lavish and had been splashed on the front page of ‘Witch Weekly’. Scorpius’ would be the opposite, a quiet, secret event, but Astoria was confident that Scorpius would not have the feeling of impending doom that Astoria guessed his father had had on his wedding day.
“You’ll love Rose,” Scorpius smiled drawing his mother into a bear hug, “she’s so wonderful. She’s very quiet and bookish, but she’s perfect for me!” From this brief description Astoria thought that Rose Weasley sounded the polar opposite to her Scorpius, but Astoria supposed opposites attracted. She also thought that the old saying “the forbidden fruit is always the sweetest” applied adeptly to this situation.
“Thank you mother,” Scorpius said gently kissing both of her cheeks, “I have to go down to the village, there’s a little orchard I can practice side along apparition in. I need to be able to get Rose and I to the church.” Astoria shook her head at this suggestion. Throwing underage magic into the mix of a secret wedding would not bode well for anyone.
“I’ll take you to your wedding,” she said, but at that moment the conversation fell silent. There was a loud knock on the door that reverberated through the room. Both Astoria and Scorpius’ head turned to the door in anticipation until Scorpius said a shaky “Come in.” The door opened to reveal the butler, Frank, his large face sweating and his eyes wide with anxiety.
“Madam,” he said breathlessly, he had clearly just run up the stairs, “Master Draco had returned home and wishes to have your company in the parlour this minute.” Scorpius dropped his mother’s hands and she turned away from him to follow Frank, leaving her son in the happiest state she’s seen him in years. As the door closed she picked up the fur coat she had discarded on the floor and began to descend down the stairs, preparing to meet her husband.
Teetering on the edge of the plush coach Astoria sipped the cold tea from her hand painted periwinkle teacup, her eyes firmly on her husband. The thing was that no matter how much he deceived her or concealed himself from her, she still loved him as much as when she was a fresh graduate and he a man who had been changed by a war that had blighted his life. To her he had seemed someone more mature than herself, a suave sophisticated man who had seen his share of the world. Astoria knew now that Draco had just seen her as a beautiful young daughter of a rich Pureblood family; perfect to have as a trophy wife.
After their wedding he had become cold and aloof, preferring to dive into his work at the Ministry than spend time with his young lonely wife. Amongst the few liaisons they did have the two boys were conceived, and after Orion was born Draco almost seemed faintly repelled by Astoria, and she knew full well that he had returned to his old girlfriend Pansy. But Astoria was rich, she was upper class and she was a Pureblood, so she did not mention these things.
“My love,” began Draco, the insincerity shining through with every word, “these are dark times,” he said, throwing her a copy of ‘The Daily Prophet’. The front cover for once did not have some gossip about the tension in Astoria and Draco’s marriage or that Harry Potter had just bought a yacht in the Caribbean but it held a real news story “ABADDON AND PANDORA AVERY ESCAPE FROM AZKABAN PRISON” Astoria gulped slightly, this would probably mean more endless questions from the Ministry as Draco’s father was an old friend to the Avery’s.
“They say,” continued Draco not noticing his wife’s concerned expression, “that the Avery’s are some of the biggest supporters of the Dark Lord’s Heir.” Astoria threw the paper to the side and looked up at her husband. Something had suddenly made her snap. Maybe it was Scorpius’ new found happiness and herself craving a share of joy in her marriage but in one moment she went ballistic.
“HOW CAN YOU WALTZ IN HERE ACTING AS IF NOTHING HAS EVER HAPPENED WHEN I KNOW WHERE YOU’VE BEEN?” The chandelier seemed to shake menacingly at the force of her voice and Draco looked at his wife, his pale brow furrowed and a curious expression flit across his handsome features. When he finally spoke his voice was thin and terse, the irritation at what he thought was he well kept secret being discovered clear.
“So you know about Pansy do you?” Astoria composed herself, brushing down her blue dress and gazing down at her neatly manicured hands. She could not stop the tears welling in her eyes; nothing would ever make him love her without him really wanting to with his whole mind and body. Astoria wondered what Rose had done to entrance a man who looked so similar to Astoria’s own husband who was sitting here in front of her.
“Of course I know about Pansy, how could I not?” she said a sense of irritation in her voice. Looking up at him she saw the guilt drawn across his pointed features and felt a pang of sympathy for him, but then composed herself. He was the one being an infidel and the traitor, not her. Crying in front of him, she felt like he had been destroying her heart for years and now it was here for all to see. Maybe he could change if he saw her pain, maybe he could be the man that Astoria had always he could be.
“What do you want me to do?” he asked almost sheepishly, “do you want me to leave?” Astoria could not believe her husband. She was not about to lose a high ranking rich husband to Pansy Parkinson, not after years of fighting for him. Standing up she walked towards him knowing she looked more intimidating than ever before as she glared down at him, her eyes shining with the anger and jealousy that had been burning inside her for years.
“First of all you are never to see Ms. Pansy Parkinson again,” he blinked rather nervously as she said this, but said nothing and let her continue, “and second of all I want you to love me as well as you promised to do all those years ago when you said those wedding vows in that fancy little ceremony.”
Placing her periwinkle teacup on the coffee table for a house elf to clean up, she rose up off the coach like a column, turning away from her treacherous husband with one wish in her heart. In a week Scorpius was going to marry Rose Weasley and she hoped with all her heart that Scorpius would not end up like his father. Her one wish for her future daughter-in-law was that little, innocent Rose Weasley would not become so entangled in the mess that was the Malfoy’s world and that she would not become another Astoria Malfoy.
What did you think? PLEASE REVIEW thanks! Next time...Rose and Scorpius prepare to tie the knot, but can Rose lie to her family and friends?
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