Chapter 17 : XVII - Merry Christmas
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“Scorpius,” she breathed happily in his ear, “Scorpius, it’s over, it’s alright. There is nothing standing in the way now, we can be together until the day we die.” When they broke apart he took her hand and they followed the mourning party away into Hogsmeade, ready to begin their life together.
Scorpius snapped his eyes open. His head was throbbing; it was yet another one of his stupid dreams. They tended to go round in circles. The first was the strangest as Scorpius could not for the life of him tell what it meant. There was Rose, gazing at a crowd of people and talking to them, her family watching her and crying. The second depicted Mercutio’s death by a powerful dark curse and it caused Scorpius so much pain when he was forced to see it replayed in his mind. The third was the greatest and by far the most enjoyable; Rose saying that they could be together.
Suddenly there was a loud knock on Scorpius’ bedroom door at which Scorpius began to slowly lift himself from the bed, causing it to creak violently. By the time the second knock sounded Scorpius had reached the door and groggily began to unlock it. Behind the door stood Frank a miserable look on his face. It seemed he had gone for his Christmas Eve drinking session as he stunk of beer and he looked hung-over.
“Master Scorpius,” he groaned, wiping his pallid brow with his hand, “your father, mother and brother are awaiting you in the parlour to open your presents.” Scorpius raised his eyebrows in surprise. For the last five years Draco Malfoy had used every excuse in the book to get out of Christmas with his family but this year it seemed he would make the effort. The hopeful little boy within Scorpius made him walk over to his table, pick up his dressing gown, put it on and make his way downstairs to see his father.
There was an icy silence in the parlour. His father sat in his favourite expensive silk pyjamas and dressing gown on his favourite leather sofa and he smiled at Scorpius in an almost friendly manner. But he was not looking at his wife. Astoria sat in a huge flannel night gown, her greying hair trickling down her back, her eyes filled with tears.
“Scorpius,” began Draco as he stood up and walked casually towards his son, extended out his pale hand for his son to shake. This seemed so formal a greeting between father and son but Scorpius shook his hand bemusedly. Astoria gave her son a weak little smile as Orion came bounding in the room, his arms laden with piles of neatly wrapped presents.
“Most of these are for you sir,” said Orion, handing his father the piles of gold wrapped presents, “from work colleagues, from admirers, those who think your stance on not changing too much the perfect way to go.” Draco placed the presents under the tree and then turned to his sons. Orion and Scorpius were almost identical, one of the only differences being that Scorpius had inherited his mother’s nose, therefore making the contrast quite stark in Draco’s eyes.
“Of course, before you two open your presents your mother and I must unwrap each others.” He turned back to Astoria who began to dig around under the tree until she pulled out a large box adorned with a bright red ribbon. She moved it gently towards Draco, but did not look at him as he greedily ripped off the packaging, searching for the contents. The box was filled with several sets of incredibly expensive dress robes, “I can wear one of these to the Ball,” he said half heartedly.
Astoria was not looking at her husband as he pulled a long thin package from under the tree and gently placed it in her hands. Her fingers undid the wrapping at a very slow pace but her endeavour finally revealed a long black box. She opened it, her eyes showing how little she cared for this peace offering but that changed the second she caught a glimpse of what was inside.
“Oh Draco!” she gushed as she pulled out the long diamond encrusted necklace, “it must have cost you a fortune!” Astoria turned to her husband and flung her arms around her husband’s neck. Astoria had always been easily bought by expensive things. Draco kissed his wife’s flushed cheeks and when she broke away he drawled,
“My love, you are worth it!” Scorpius could have thrown up. He had always held love and affection for his mother with his heart, and it had seemed that for years his father had been playing with his mother’s essentially good heart and using it to advantage. Scorpius was not blind, he had seen the whispered conversations on Platform Nine and Three Quarters between Marie’s mother and Scorpius’ father and so had his mother, but she had always forgiven her treacherous husband. Scorpius knew he would never do that to Rose.
“Well,” said Astoria cheerily after carefully putting the cold necklace on, “open your present Orion from Daddy and I” She always called her husband ‘daddy’ when she had a renewed sense of her love for him, and it just made Scorpius’ blood boil. Orion however was oblivious to it all and began ripping open his present which was revealed to be an expensive new Wizard Chess set. After many squeals of delight from Orion the attention turned to Scorpius as his father passed him a small, square box.
Scorpius eyed it suspiciously. He had not been thinking about what he wanted for Christmas because of all the wedding arrangements but he opened the little box in anticipation. The second he saw what was inside his heart fell. His parents Christmas present to him was a little bronze knut. Scorpius had to hold back tears – was this the extent for his parents love for him?
“It’s not just an ordinary knut,” said Draco, taking the small coin off his son. Holding it in the palm of his hand he flipped it into the air; and on the moment he caught it he was gone. Scorpius could not believe what he had seen; nobody could apparate in and out of Malfoy Manor. How had his father managed it? In one second Scorpius felt a cold hand on his shoulder and he turned round to see his father’s icy grey eyes.
“It can make you apparate anywhere, from anywhere,” he said triumphantly, “it took me a lot of time and money to get you that. The Ministry only made fifty and this one was the last one they had in stock.” Scorpius gazed down at the coin and then pocketed it quickly. He was sure it would come in useful someday.
After that Scorpius moved on to his presents from his friends. He had received a large box of Honeydukes chocolates from Marie and a letter detailing information about a really good looking boy she had met at her grandmother’s dress shop in Paris, a handmade woollen scarf from Isabelle and a bit of juicy gossip about Marie and her adventures with a really ugly Parisian and finally two tickets too a karaoke night at Madame Puddifoot’s for next year from Rose “Red” Weasley.
There was one thing that concerned Scorpius. He had had no present from Mercutio. Every year he sent Scorpius a present without fail and kept up a stream of correspondence, but this year nothing. Scorpius had not been paying attention to Mercutio the day before as it had been his wedding day, but Scorpius was sure something was troubling his friend and Scorpius was now more determined than ever to discover what it was.
“Rose!” came Dominique’s abrasive voice, perforating Rose’s ears, “it’s Christmas! Get your lazy bum out of bed!” Rose woke up instantly. Christmas would give her a chance to relax with her family before she finally told them what she had truly been up to at Hogwarts with Scorpius. She had hidden her ring under one of the loose floorboards in a small silk bag and she was sure no one would find it.
“You’ve got to go and unwrap your presents. Lucy’s already got her broom, you might get something good.” Rose groggily got up and let Dominique lead her down the stairs and into the living room which was filled with piles of presents being unwrapped by various Weasley cousins and wrapping paper flying through the air. Rose quietly found her pile of presents and managing to hide within the crowd she began to slowly rip the paper off.
The first was a handsome stationary set from her mother and father. While the present was useful, it seemed cold and impersonal to Rose as the set was a bright green, her least favourite colour. She had a pygmy puff from Julia and Cecelia as a joint present and then a large box of chocolates from Uther. They were expensive Belgian Truffles and they came with a letter from Uther.
Merry Christmas and I’ll see you before I get to say Happy New Year so I’ll tell you then. I hope you like your presents and are having a great Christmas. As I got up at two in the morning to send you this I can tell you that mine will be pretty dull, my dad’s at the Ministry working and my mum will be moping around because dad isn’t here.
Your family’s Christmas Eve Party was great as usual. I also got to dance with you which was a bit of a shock to be honest with you. Cecelia and Julia have told me you’ve been a bit unhappy recently, so I want you to know that you can always tell me. But it was great to see you so happy last night.
I’ve also got to write about the Ministry Ball. I just wanted to know what colour you were wearing so I can get a matching corsage. My dad told me that I’ve got to look really handsome, more than usual because he has a surprise for me. It’s worrying me a bit if I’m honest with you!
Well anyway, I hope you have a Merry Christmas and I’ll see you at the Ball. I’m sure it’s going to be great!
Lots of Love, Uther
Rose gazed down at his spindly writing. It would not be long until she would tell him the truth and they could both freely live their lives the way they wanted to. She put aside the letter and Uther’s present with the growing mound of gifts she was receiving and turned to a grubby brown package tied up with string. Picking it up, she examined it curiously and then pulled off the card attached, taking the words in with relish.
Merry Christmas. Even though it’s all been so hectic concerning us I got you a present. I couldn’t forget you at Christmas Time. I’ll book a dance at the ball with you – we’ve just got to remember to look as disdainful as possible! Hope you like the gift.
Rose chuckled in spite of herself. Scorpius’ humour was just about toeing the invisible line. If his father or mother had seen this they would have burnt it. If Rose’s own parents saw it they would burn it, thinking she was being stalked by a Nuevo-Deatheater. Being as secret as she could she slipped the card in her pyjama pocket, avoiding the stares of her cousins.
She then turned to Scorpius’ present. Rose had spent an awful lot of money on her gift for him, so she hoped he was going to give her something meaningful, after all it was their first Christmas as Husband and Wife. Pulling the paper off she saw one of the most amazing fashion items she had ever seen: an invisibility scarf. They were all the rage in Hogwarts, people bought cheap cast offs that did not make you totally invisible, but this was the real thing.
Her cousin’s gasped in jealousy and begged her to tell them who it was from but she kept her lips firmly shut; telling them it had come without a card or a name tag. Picking up her presents she scurried upstairs and in the quiet of the room she drew out the silk bag that held her wedding ring in and wrapped it firmly in the scarf hoping that ring would not be seen until Rose found the ideal time to reveal it.
Through the whole of Christmas Dinner Scorpius wanted to be sick all over his vegetables. His mother had forgiven his father so quickly and it just made him so angry. His father had managed yet again to regain Astoria’s affections by spending money. In Scorpius’ opinion, money could not buy love. Orion was oblivious to Scorpius’ displeasure and he was tucking into his food hungrily, and talking about his time with Bulstrode Family.
“’n ‘m so gla’ ‘m home,” he spluttered finally. Scorpius had no idea what that meant and continued to shoot daggers at his parents who were being extraordinarily affectionate towards each other. It was such a surprise what one necklace could do. Draco looked away from Astoria however and began to gaze at Scorpius, a smile on his face,
“I’ve talked to Mr Zabini,” said Draco, even though the whole family knew Blaise extremely well they always had to keep up pretences, “and he’s agreed that you Scorpius are the ideal person to escort young Marie to the Ministerial Ball!” Scorpius knew he should have expected it and he did not react in the way his mother did. She spluttered Brussell Sprouts all over the table.
“Right,” said Scorpius, knowing that Marie would not be exactly overjoyed by this little plan, “I don’t have to spend all evening with her do I?” Draco looked positively outraged at this statement and then squared himself and stared at Scorpius was all the determination he could muster, as the identical grey eyes met each other.
“Marie is the ideal girl to be around, she’s much more acceptable than that Isabelle girl you like hanging round with so much!” Scorpius rolled his eyes and laid back in his seat. If his father thought Isabelle was the worse that Scorpius could do, he was wrong. Scorpius was suddenly bursting to reveal every single detail about his relationship with Rose to his old fashioned father, but he kept silent and began to eat again.
“I’ve arranged,” said Draco impatiently, “for you and Marie to go by carriage to the Ministry. Please try to be on your best behaviour, influencing the Minister’s policies is hard enough without a disrespectful son being involved.” Draco turned to his younger son, who was still stuffing himself with food.
“And Orion, if you happen to see one of the Potter’s or Weasley’s please don’t resort to petty violence,” said Draco, turning back to his food. While he was distracted by his roasted potatoes, Scorpius shot a look at his mother, who gave him a pathetic smile. He loved his mother, but sometimes she could be the weakest woman in the whole world.
“It really does work!” squawked Roxanne as she pulled Dominique’s empty mug from her. Roxanne had become so enthralled by Divination that this Christmas she had decided that she was going to read everyone’s tea leaves, something which she claimed she never got wrong. Dominique had been sceptical to the whole thing, but Roxanne was so enthused because she was actually good at her subject that you just had to let her tell your future.
Roxanne gazed down into the murky depths of Dominique’s empty cup avidly watched by Rose, James, Lucy and Dominique herself. She stuck out her tongue through her concentration and it looked slightly comical, so much so that Lucy had burst into a fit of giggles causing Rose to shush her. After much deliberation it seemed as if Roxanne had actually come up with something.
“I predict,” she said dramatically, “that you will soon be taking remedial potions after you messed up that test at the end of last term!” Dominique had gone a shocking white and mumbled something like, “I didn’t do that badly!” and then snatched her mug back off Roxanne saying loudly, “it looks more like a blob to me.” Roxanne however ignored her and turned to Rose who was laughing at Dominique’s anger.
“Your turn!” shrieked Roxanne childishly, holding out her small hand for Rose’s cup. Rose rolled her eyes in response and then handed the white china teacup over the Roxanne, who gazed into it in almost a mystic way. Rose wasn’t worried in the slightest, she thought divination was a load of rubbish and Roxanne had always been a good guess and Rose thought she had covered her tracks enough for them to be invisible.
“Well, well, well Rosie,” began Roxanne a chuckle hiding under her voice, “what have you been hiding from us all?” Each pair of eyes turned to Rose who began to laugh nervously. There was no way that Roxanne could actually read the future. Rose bit her lip as Roxanne began to speak again, “Rose, soon the plans you have about revealing this deep dark secret of yours will go astray. You will have to rethink after other people become involved.” Rose gulped nervously but then smiled,
“Well, the one about remedial potions might be true but this one certainly isn’t!” Rose snatched the cup back off Roxanne who turned expectantly to James who was sitting back lazily in his chair, eyeing Rose with suspicion. In turn, he handed his mug over to Roxanne slowly before saying, “it’s just going to tell you that I will be Minister of Magic soon, doesn’t it?”
Roxanne gave a little chuckle and then peered into the depths of the cup, her brow furrowed. Then her eyes widened and she opened her mouth. The four of them tried to push their heads forward the see what was in the cup but Roxanne moved it tighter towards her chest, “no, it can’t be!” she muttered. Tears were welling in her eyes and at this moment Dominique stood up, a stony look on her face as she glared at Roxanne.
“What is it Roxy? What do you see?” Roxanne looked at each of them in turn as the tears began to roll down her cheeks. Rose had never done Divination so she did not know what could be that bad to warrant this type of reaction. Roxanne gulped; she had forgotten the display of amateur dramatics she had put on earlier, now her performance was totally honest.
“It’s the Grim,” she whispered, “James, I’m sorry but it’s the Grim!” They were all resolutely staring at James who had a shocked expression on his face, but then he laughed it off nervously, telling Roxanne to stop being silly. It was at this point as the tears turned to tears of rage and she stood up to her full height, staring at James.
“It was the Grim James!” The cup had rolled off her lap and smashed loudly on the floor, at which point she fled from the room, covering her eyes. The four that were left turned to each other horrified and then Rose looked at James and for the first time in her whole life she saw fear in her brave cousin’s eyes.
Thank you for reading, hope you enjoyed it. Please Review! Next chapter...The Annual Ministerial Ball comes around and the Minister of Magic drops a bombshell for Scorpius and Rose...
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