Scorpius surveyed the group before him. The twelve remaining muddy and panting Hufflepuffs stared back in silence. They were waiting for his final decision.
“Right, thank you all for trying out for the team. The new members are as follows; Simon is Chaser, Julian and Greg are beaters, and Angus will be the Seeker.”
No one said anything for a moment. The Beaters looked pleased, the Chaser looked stunned, and the Seeker looked overwhelmed.
Not the most encouraging of beginnings, thought Scorpius.
After a moment’s hesitation the groups began to move. Cornelius joined 5th year’s Julian and Greg on the walk back to the castle. Simon gravitated to Justine trying to talk strategies. She seemed to tolerate him more than normal since the rest of the would-be Quidditch players, all boys, were also following her, trying to get her attention.
Scorpius smiled to himself. It had only been a couple of weeks and Justine still seemed very uncomfortable with the way her looks attracted attention. She spent nearly all of her time with Cornelius and Scorpius. The only girl she was friendly with
was Tarani. All other girls seemed to treat her ill, mostly due to her looks and the unwanted attentions of James Potter.
Involuntarily he grimaced. James still had the ability to cause him some alarm. He hadn’t approached Scorpius since that awful attack during 1st Year. That still didn’t stop Scorpius from cringing internally.
Although, he’d noticed that he now surpassed the prat in height by an inch or two. James was still stronger, but at least he couldn’t look down on him anymore.
Angus and Scorpius were now the only ones still standing in the pitch. The sun was setting and it was nearing dinnertime.
“C’mon,” Scorpius said to a startled Angus, “let’s head back to the castle.”
The boys were silent as they walked. Angus was a slightly-built 2nd year with brown hair and freckles.
“Why’d you pick me?” He asked a puzzled look on his face.
Scorpius paused a moment before answering, “You are agile and fast. It’s just what we need in a Seeker.” He left out the ‘small’ part, not wanting to cause Angus any embarrassment.
Angus brought it up. “I’m so small. Wouldn’t it be better to have an older student?”
“No, I want someone who can move through the pitch quickly. I picked the players with the best aim, who also happened to be the biggest, for beaters so that they can protect you.”
He seemed to ponder that a moment. “Do you think we have a chance at winning?”
Scorpius rubbed his neck a bit sheepishly before answering. “Honestly, we’ve got a long way to go. Last year we did better than in years before. We didn’t lose matches by very much and actually won the match against Ravenclaw last March.” He laughed at the memory. “It was a bit of a shock to all of us.”
He continued on, “I’m trying to build a good team with good skills. We have a range of ages on the team now, starting with you as a 2nd year, Jussy, Cornelius and I as 3rd years, Simon as our 4th year and the Beaters are the 5th Years. I hope with dedication and practice over the next several months we can build up a really good team.”
Mentally he realised it would probably take more time than that but why say anything to discourage Angus now? His face was already glowing with anticipation.
The boys ran into Professor Lupin in the Common Room. “Scorpius, I was looking for you.”
“I need to see you in my office after you change.” Noting the grumbles coming from Scorpius’ stomach he added, “I’ll have some dinner sent up to my office so you don’t starve.”
“Thank you, Professor.”
Fifteen minutes later Scorpius was knocking on the door to Professor Lupin’s office. He was puzzled as to why the Professor had called him in, but as his Head of House, Scorpius knew that nearly anything was possible.
The news that greeted him upon entry was the last thing he expected.
“I’m sorry to inform you that your Uncle Jean-Pierre has died.”
Professor Lupin looked surprised. “Jean-Pierre LaChailles, your mother’s brother-in-law?”
Recognition crossed Scorpius’ face. “Oh, right, Aunt Asteria’s husband.” Professor Lupin was still looking at him oddly. He tried to explain, “I’m sorry to appear rude, Professor, I just never heard of him very often. Mother always referred to him as Jean.” He hoped that explanation would suffice.
“Of course,” he responded amiably. “I’m sorry to hear about your loss. Your mother contacted the Headmistress this morning and asked me to convey the news. I wanted to wait to inform you until after Quidditch tryouts to as not to distract you.”
“Thank you, sir. That’s very kind.”
“You’re welcome, Scorpius. The funeral is set for next Saturday in Paris. There’s an international portkey arranged for you in the Headmistress’ office for Friday at 2:00pm. You are excused from your afternoon classes. You’ll return to Hogwarts on Sunday afternoon.”
He gestured to a side table that Scorpius now noticed was filled with 2 plates containing sandwiches and crisps and two cups bearing Pumpkin Juice. “Are you hungry? Will you join me for a bite?”
“Yes, sir, thank you,” and he sat down with the Professor.
They ate for a while in silence.
“I take it you weren’t very close with your Uncle?” He asked politely.
“No sir, I can’t say that we were. He seemed like an alright guy,” Scorpius lied, now remembering the self-centered snob that mother always described. He was a good match to stuck-up Aunt Asteria.
Wanting to change the subject he noticed a framed photograph on the Professor’s desk. “Is that Victoire Weasley?” He remembered her as the Head Girl his first year.
“Yes it is,” answered Professor Lupin, smiling broadly. “I’m lucky enough to have her as my fiancée.”
“Thank you. She’s finishing up her Healer studies. We hope to be married soon after that.”
Before Scorpius could respond they were interrupted by loud knocking at the door. Professor Lupin opened the door to reveal James and Lily Potter. They both were startled to see Scorpius.
James’ eyes darkened, “We’ve been waiting for you Professor Lupin, you know for the family thing in the Great Hall?”
Scorpius felt an icy chill as James emphasized the word, family.
“I’m sorry James, but some House business came up and I was attending to it with Master Scorpius here. I’ll join you all later.”
Scorpius placed down his half-eaten sandwich. “I’m finished here, Professor, thank you.” He stood up and walked to the door past James and Lily. Turning back to face the Professor, he continued, “I’ll be ready in the Headmistress’ office at 2:00pm on Friday and will give Jussy my essay to turn in to your class since I’ll be missing it.
“Skipping out on class so soon, Malfoy?” James said with a sneer.
Expressionless Scorpius looked back at the boy who stared at him with such anger. “I’ll be attending my Uncle’s funeral.” He heard Lily’s squeak of shock as he swiftly exited the room.
He felt a small tug on his arm when he was a few feet away from the door. It was Lily Potter. Her eyes were misty and she was looking up at him earnestly. “I’m so sorry about your Uncle.”
Immediately Scorpius felt sheepish. This sweet girl, the complete opposite of her prat of a brother, was looking up at him with such sympathy in her warm, brown eyes.
He couldn’t lie. “Thank you for your condolences, but I have to admit I didn’t know him that well. I just said that to get back at your brother, I’m sorry.”
He waited for her anger as she quickly wiped her eyes. “Sorry for weeping a bit” she said with embarrassment. “I get rather emotional over death. My brothers tease me about it endlessly, especially James.”
He didn’t know what to say.
She blushed at his look, “What?” She asked.
He felt more chagrin at her self-consciousness. “Nothing! You are just being very kind to someone who was playing a sympathy card a moment ago.”
She laughed, “Well James has a habit of bringing out the worst in people.”
He looked back towards Professor Lupin’s office door, “I can see that.”
She laughed again. “Well, it’s nice to meet you, Scorpius Malfoy. I’m Lily.”
“It’s nice to meet you too, Lily.”
Six days later, Scorpius was in a guest room at Chateau LaChailles outside of Paris. He was unpacking his knapsack. Astoria was lounging on the bed in the guestroom he was in. She had just informed him that he’d be spending the Christmas holidays at his Grandmother’s.
He didn’t complain, he didn’t moan, he didn’t do or say anything in response because he knew it was hopeless.
He also knew that both of his parents wouldn’t send him there unless there was no other choice.
“It might not be as bad as you expect.”
“Mother, Grandmother Daphne doesn’t like me.”
She sighed, “She doesn’t really like anyone Scorpius. She treats all people the same.”
“Stop right there—there is no need for language.”
“It will be so boring there,” he whined. There will be no one to talk to.”
“Your cousin will be there.”
He stopped and looked at his mother in surprise. “Why will she be there?”
“Asteria is travelling to get over her grief.” Scorpius rolled his eyes. He’d already seen a sample of Aunt Asteria’s ‘grief’. It was revolting. “Your cousin will be starting Hogwarts in the fall.”
“What exactly happened to Uncle Jean?” Scorpius asked. “Professor Lupin didn’t go into any details.”
“He was hit by a bus.”
“How ironic,” Scorpius replied, “Uncle Jean was killed by a Muggle contraption and he hates Muggles.”
“Scorpius,” she said in a warning tone, “don’t be vulgar.”
“Well, mother, you must admit it is hard not to be cynical and sarcastic over the death of someone I don’t really know, whose death I only just now heard about, with an aunt whom I’ve hardly ever seen?”
“Well, our family relationships have never been ordinary.”
“Mother, that’s an understatement, they are dysfunctional.”
“Be fair, Scorpius, you know how I grew up. I’ve told you stories. My family has never been warm and loving. The Malfoys were the most affectionate people I’d ever met by comparison.”
“Yeah,” he mumbled, “we are one fucked up family.”
“What was that?”
“When will father arrive?” He’d been wondering when he’d see Draco again. He actually had some things to discuss with him; with Quidditch and all.
“Draco’s not coming.”
“What do you mean?"
“The property he inherited has suddenly developed a major interest for him. It’s a deserted island with a run-down cabin within the Bailwick of Jersey. “She sighed in aggravation, “He’s found his new diversion.”
Silently Scorpius resumed unpacking, taking all of the information in. He didn’t know what to make of Mother’s frustration. He didn’t know what to make of his father’s behaviour. He couldn’t believe he was actually on the other side of the channel attending the funeral of an unknown uncle, with a cousin he’d never met before. His mother and his Aunt were not close.
“What’s my cousin’s name?” He finally asked. The silence had filled the room for quite some time.
“Her name is Anemone.”
He met her at dinner that evening. Sitting in the formal dining room with his mother, Aunt Asteria, and Nana Daphne, the introduction was made. The windows were swathed in black and everyone was somber. Aunt Asteria was playing her part especially well. A house elf escorted his cousin in.
“My darling, come here.” Aunt Asteria made a big show of embracing the young girl. She didn’t respond. “You must meet your cousin.” Turning the girl around she said, “Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy,may I present my lovely daughter Anemone Corinne Greengrass LaChailles.”
Scorpius held out his hand appropriately. “How you do, Anemone? I’m so sorry for your loss.”
She muttered and limply shook his hand. Her hair was black and smoothed back into a headband. She wore black robes. Her skin was very pale. A light fringe was brushed across her forehead.
Her black eyes had briefly met his before returning to focus on an unknown spot on the table. The group was silent as the food was served.
Eventually the conversation carried on between Aunt Asteria and Nana Daphne, with his mother joining in from time to time. Anemone only spoke in monosyllables to anything her mother said. He noticed that Aunt Asteria only spoke to her in French and she would respond in kind. He had no idea what they were saying.
The actual funeral the next day was worse. The Eulogy was given by some elderly wizard who spoke entirely in French. He wore official looking robes. No one bothered to tell Scorpius who the man was.
Afterwards, hundreds of witches and wizards milled around the manor, offering condolences and general chitchat. He watch as Anemone sat in a stupor next to her mother and grandmother. Aunt Asteria was playing her tragic part well. Nana Daphne was right there with her. He noticed his mother stood slightly off to the side. She was engaged in conversation with someone.
The entire scene was all very depressing. Although, he thought, it’s a funeral it’s not supposed to be happy.
On top of it all he knew that today was the first Hogsmeade weekend at Hogwarts. Cornelius, Justine, and Tarani were probably walking down to the village right now, preparing to explore Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes, Honeyduke’s, and the Three Broomsticks.
“Do you like Hogwarts?”
The voice of Anemone startled him. He hadn’t heard her approach.
“Yes, I do like it, very much.”
“Papa wanted me to go to Beauxbaton. I’ve already received letters from both schools. He and mother would always have a row about it. I suppose she’s won that argument.”
“You might like it, Anemone.” He didn’t know what else to say.
“She turned to him sullenly, “As long as it gets me away from mother I don’t care where I go.” She started to walk away from him, “please don’t call me Anemone. That name is horrid. Mother and Nana Daphne are the only ones who use it. Please call me Corinne.”
Before he could answer she’d walked away. It was the most he’d heard her speak in the last 24 hours.
Back at Hogwarts he filled in Justine and Cornelius about the weekend. Cornelius, in his natural curiosity of all things magical, bombarded him with questions.
“There’s not much I can tell you, Cornelius. With the exception of my family, everyone spoke French.”
“Is your cousin alright?” Justine asked with sympathy.
“As well as can be expected. She’ll be here next year.”
Cornelius started up again only to be interrupted by Scorpius, “Enough! Tell me about Hogsmeade.”
“It was fantastic!”
“We brought you back some chocolate from Honeydukes.”
“Did you know the Shrieking Shack is a museum of the 2nd Wizarding War?”
“Yeah, James Potter was there, pontificating. He such a…”
“Justine,” Cornelius interjected with annoyance, “enough on Potter.”
She sighed as a way of agreement. Cornelius went on, “Kavi and Antonella are an item now.”
“After one date?”
“Yeah,” Justine snorted, “They are rather disgusting with each other. He follows her everywhere.” She paused for a moment, “Can we now start on important conversations like Quidditch practice? What’s your plan, Captain?”
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