The carpet ride back home was awkward, to say the least.
“...and I can’t believe you said that to my mother!” I fumed at the sullen middle-aged prat beside me, who sat wearing a sulky frown as I laid into him. “She only asked what you thought of the mutton – you didn’t have to look directly at her and say “I wish it didn’t dress as lamb”! What the hell were you thinking, you bloody idiot?”
Scorpius snickered behind us, and alerted to my son’s presence, I rounded on him. “Oh, you think that’s funny? Well, what I want to know is why you thought telling my parents that you plan on marrying a Weasley was a good idea! Poor Mother, you know she has problems with her heart – and for you to spring that on her! You little – ” Unable to phrase my anger into child-friendly terms, I settled for strangling the air in front of him.
Draco quietly took control of the carpet, for once apparently having the sense to keep quiet.
Who am I kidding? He was just enjoying hearing me have a go at Scorpius.
“Mum, are those heart problems genetic?” Scorpius asked nervously as I continued to slaughter the air in front of him.
“Don’t ‘mum’ me!” I half-shrieked in rage. “What kind of son are you? No, scratch that, what kind of Malfoy are you?”
“A vaguely human one,” he muttered, a scowl painting itself on his face.
“I’ve told you not to scowl before, Scorpius, you don’t want wrinkles like your father,” I reprimanded him, earning a mumbled curse from my husband. “And a Weasley? A Weasley?!” Feeling my point hadn’t been hammered home enough, I repeated it one last time. “A WEASLEY?!”
“I was aware of my girlfriend’s surname.”
“Then why are you dating her?” Draco asked, sounding entirely too curious and not infuriated enough for my liking.
Scorpius shrugged. “She’s hot.”
Draco’s smirk spread across his face, replicated exactly on our son’s. “Nice.”
I threw my hands up in the air in frustration and gave up.
Casting a Silencing charm on them both, just daring either of them to attempt to remove it with a furious scowl, I directed the carpet to spiral down towards our lawn with instructions so razor-sharp that it made Draco cringe each time I spoke. When we landed, I stood up and grabbed each 'man' (ahahaha) by the ear, dragging them inside. I had reason to believe the words they were mouthing were so foul that my ears would have been burned off, and thanked Merlin I’d had the foresight to cast that Silencing charm.
Once we were in the dining room, I let go of them. They both stood there, looking frighteningly similar in the fading sunlight as they both rubbed their ears and scowled at me.
“Sit.” Draco was the first to crack, and slid into one of the chairs facing me. I smiled grimly, then fixed my gaze on Scorpius. “Sit.”
He paled and dropped into the seat beside his father so fast that I was surprised the chair stayed intact.
“Alright,” I began calmly, knowing that this was at odds with my appearance. In the sideboard on the other side of the dining room, I could see my cheeks were flushed through with red, like I’d been badly sunburnt, and my hair was frizzy from where I’d run my hands through it. You know, I’d look several years younger and no doubt be much happier if I’d never got married. “Let’s just...draw a veil over this afternoon. I think I’d just like to pretend it never happened.”
If I could somehow pretend that about the last eighteen years...well, let’s just say I don’t need a Mirror of Erised to know my heart’s desire.
“On the girlfriend front,” I said, turning to Scorpius, who wore that oh-shit-she’s-talking-to-me look I’d seen so many times before, “I will meet the sodding girl, on the basis that you swear you’ll never, ever call Priscillia a “high-class whore” at a family dinner again.” Considering this point, I grudgingly added, “However, behind her back...we Malfoys value the truth.” Scorpius seemed frozen to the spot, seemingly surprised at my great generosity. I rolled my eyes. Draco was the unreasonable one, not me. Mostly. (Alright, but I was only unreasonable about that blasted girlfriend. So jinx me.)
“Draco.” I twisted to meet my husband’s gaze. He flinched and looked away, like the spineless coward he really was at heart. “We are going to meet the Weasley family tomorrow – and no, you may not call it a harem, that is just insulting – so I will not tolerate any sulkiness, moodiness, prattiness, idiocy – ”
Scorpius snorted, and I had the feeling that if he could speak, he’d say something along the lines of “Good luck with that.”
Merlin, would I need it.
“ – blood prejudice, references to torture, kidnap or murder, and lastly, if you even dare try to piss off Harry by hitting on Ginny – well, what Bellatrix did to her ‘lickle fwiendies’ will be nothing to the torture I’ll put you through,” I promised fervently. When Scorpius looked mildly confused, I informed him carelessly, “Your Great-Aunt Bellatrix. Lieutenant of the most evil wizard of all time, mass-murderer and torture-fanatic. She tortured your Headmaster’s parents and Hermione Weasley.”
I let him stew in fear for a minute before continuing, “She’s dead. Pity, really. She used to be a real hoot at the big society balls. Once, she brought along the liver of one unfortunate muggle. It was...memorable.”
Draco was scowling at me, and I realised I’d gone from being a ruthless dictator to insulting his dead Aunt, and flushed scarlet. Covering up the sticky moment with a peace offering, I gave him a weak smile and mumbled, “You don’t have to sleep in the spare bedroom?” When his scowl deepened, I realised that in my rage, I’d forgotten to inform him of our sleeping arrangements tonight, and I corrected myself hastily. “Not that you ever were going to sleep in the spare bedroom.” I coughed uncomfortably.
Brushing over that little...misunderstanding, I turned to Scorpius. “Lily and Albus are coming back with us after the gathering tomorrow for two weeks. Apparently Lily expressed an interest in bringing the Scamander twins, which I don’t have an issue with...?” He nodded enthusiastically. “Good, then they can stay as well.” Then, grimacing as if I was in great pain, I managed to drag the words “...and your...girlfriend...too.”
Draco’s mouth dropped open.
It was worth sacrificing my pride like that, just to get that who-are-you-and-what-have-you-done-with-my-wife expression on his face. Also, his distaste for Weasleys, Potters and Scamanders (“non-Slytherin blood traitors, the lot of ‘em, with skrewts for fathers – actually, worse than skrewts”) meant that this painful manoeuvre would piss him off.
I did actually consider inviting the whole Weasley family, but I didn’t fancy becoming a widow quite so soon. Or becoming dead. Either way, I doubted highly that both of us would survive if I went through with that decision.
Scorpius, as he couldn’t have a verbal celebration, was expressing his gratitude by waving his arms around excitedly. One arm whacked Draco around the back of the head, and I hastily full-body bound my husband before my knowledge of the limb-reattaching spell could be tested.
When I returned my attention to my son, his actions had become more purposeful, and he was flapping them by his side, making a strange O-shape with his mouth like a goldfish, but in slow motion. When I simply frowned at him, he made the gestures more frantic.
“Oh, for Merlin’s sake!” Draco had clearly had enough, and while I was distracted, had managed to remove both the body-bind and the silencing charm. I scowled at him, but he seemed annoyed enough to not care. Wow, I’d really pissed him off. “Stop treating me like I’m a bloody naughty child, Astoria!” he fumed angrily, face contorted in rage. A mottled pink rose to his cheeks. “By all means, treat Scorpius like the idiot he is – but goddamn it, I’m older – ”
“It shows,” I interjected.
“ – and more mature – ”
“ – so don’t treat me like a complete imbecile,” he finished, scowling at me. There was a short silence, which Scorpius took as invitation to continue his ridiculous mime. Draco turned to him and sneered. “I removed your Silencing charm too, idiot.”
Scorpius glowered at his father, then turned back to me and said in a butter-wouldn’t-melt voice, “Mummy, was that what the owl at Grandmother’s was about?”
“Yes, sweetheart,” I smiled sweetly at him. An irritated huff came from Draco, and I fixed my eyes on him and said in my steeliest tone, “Don’t call Scorpius an idiot, Draco. Admittedly, he is on some levels – but he got that from your side of the family, anyway.” When I saw Draco puffing up in anger, I decided I was bored of this argument, and started the quickest strategy for ending an argument with Draco Malfoy. “And may I just say, we’ve been married for eighteen years, but I still can’t get over how cute you look when you’re pissed off.” I winked at him, knowing his one-track mind would immediately turn that passionate anger into passionate...something else.
“Okay, you’re gross,” Scorpius announced, and stood up from the table, wearing a nauseated expression as he looked at us. “I’m going to owl – ”
“Piss off, idiot,” Draco spoke over his shoulder, but his eyes didn’t leave mine. I smirked slightly.
“I told you not to do that, Draco,” I said coyly. “And you know what happens to rule-breakers?”
“If you say ‘punishment’, I’m going to gag,” Scorpius interrupted. I shot him a vaguely annoyed look, then returned to smirking at my husband.
“Puni – ”
“I’ll see you in the morning!” our son said abruptly, and excessively loudly. With his hands jammed into his ears, he sprinted from the room, knocking a chair over on his exit but not pausing to pick it up.
Poor boy. If my parents had been like me and Draco, I would not have turned out this normal.
My husband stood up and leant across the table towards me, a twisted smile on his face as I mirrored his actions. Our lips were nearly touching as he murmured hoarsely, “Now that the idiot is gone...” I kissed the tip of his chin, making him suck in a breath. “What were you going to say?”
I gave him a fast, hard kiss, then drew back a few inches. “If you ever, ever invite Daphne to investigate your wand again – especially in front of me, Scorpius, her husband, her kids and my parents – then you won’t have a wand for her to investigate. Understand?” With that, I winked at him and walked towards the doorway, where I paused. “The spare bedroom is all set up, although we haven’t fixed the leaky ceiling yet. The other bedrooms have all mysteriously lost their furniture.”
I turned to see him stood there, staring at me with a shocked, surprisingly hurt and somewhat awed expression, and blew him a sparkling kiss. “I love you, sweetheart.”
He groaned. “You’re a fiendish bitch.”
“And doesn’t it just turn you on?” I purred, and without waiting for an answer, headed off to the empty King-sized bed that was waiting for me. Ah, sweet, sweet luxury.
The sun was shining again, and, like a teenager with a hangover (not that my Scorpius would ever have gotten drunk, Merlin forbid) Draco groaned and tried to go back to sleep. I shook him, digging my recently-manicured nails into his shoulder until he opened a bleary eye and glared at me.
“What?” he snapped, the annoyed tone ruined by the pillow muffling his voice.
I continued shaking him, increasingly violently, as I told him in my cheeriest voice, “We’re going to the Potters’ in about twenty minutes. Wake up.” When he didn’t move, I whipped out my wand and soaked him to the skin with a blast of icy water. A hissed profanity escaped him, and he rolled over and fixed me with his best cold-hearted Malfoy stare, narrowed eyes and pressed lips and all.
“Astoria,” he said slowly, “I want a divorce.”
“Whatever,” I said breezily, “you wouldn’t last ten minutes without me.” I ripped the sopping duvet off him, and when he tried to pull it back over himself, I Vanished it.
“I beg to differ,” he snapped, and gave me his best sulky-child pout (although he thinks it makes him look terrifyingly manly).
“ASTORIA! WHERE’S MY WAND?”
“In your trousers, last time I saw it,” I called back cheekily as I rootled through the wardrobe in search of a few more hairclips. In the mirror, I saw him emerge from the bathroom wearing nothing but a pair of boxers and a scowl.
“You’re hilarious,” he hissed, and I simply winked at him. “Where’s my wand?”
I checked my watch very ostentatiously and then smirked at him. “It’s only been eight minutes, and you’re struggling.”
His face flickered between annoyed, sulky and thoughtful, and finally settled on that last one. I eyed him curiously as he crossed the room towards me, then stopped less than a metre away. His hands untangled mine from where I’d been messing with my hair, and he pushed my back up against the wardrobe mirror, fixing my hands above my head. A slow smirk played across his lips. “You’re right,” he murmured. “I wouldn’t be able to live without you.”
When his lips pressed against my jaw, I suppressed the urge to roll my eyes and simply shoved him off me. “The romantic seduction technique stopped working eighteen years and a wedding ring ago,” I informed him. As his sulky pout settled into place, I tugged my wrists free and stood on tiptoe to kiss his cheek. “However, because you look so pitiful, I’ll tell you where your wand is.”
“It’s in my boxers,” he shot straight back, looking irritated at the idea of being ‘pitiful’. “But it’s not going to stay there for long.” He winked slowly and suggestively at me in the way he does when he’s under the impression he’s a fabulously gorgeous specimen of a man (ahahaha).
This time, I did roll my eyes. “It’s in your jacket pocket, ready for when we leave in about – ten minutes.” Looking at his current state of undress, I sighed world-wearily and turned back to the wardrobe. I tossed him a clean blue shirt and trousers and Vanished all the pots of gel I could see. “You’re not wearing robes, you’d look like an idiot,” I inform him, seeing his scowl in the mirror. Then I paused, and corrected myself. “More of an idiot.”
A cocky grin graced his lips. “Surely, if I’m as ridiculous and moronic as you make me out to be, you would be the idiot, seeing as you married me.”
“Don’t be silly, Draco. We both know I only married you because I felt sorry for you.”
“Mum, are we going yet?” Scorpius was stood in the doorway, watching me bicker with his father with a mildly amused smile on his face. I briefly wondered how, considering how disgusted he’d been to walk in on Draco and myself yesterday, he managed to summon up the courage to walk in on us again today, and concluded that he was an idiot. Like father, like son.
“Excuse me!” Draco ignored Scorpius’ arrival (surprise, surprise). He looked affronted as he continued, “I was the most eligible bachelor in all of Wizarding Britain! I had girls falling at my feet and a manor!”
“You also had a criminal record, a striking resemblance to a ferret and a long-running vendetta with the greatest man in Wizarding history – and let’s not even bring up Dumbledore.” I walked over to Scorpius and fussed with his annoyingly floppy hair while he tried to hit my hands away feebly. “We’ll be going in a few minutes, once your father manages to put on some bloody clothes.”
“Harry bloody Potter is not the greatest man in Wizarding history!” Draco snapped, and scowled as the mirror sang ‘denial’ in a deliberately annoying tone. Scorpius and I both hid grins as Draco slammed the wardrobe door shut and angrily pulled his shirt and trousers on.
“I don’t know...those glasses he wears are pretty damn good-looking.” I grinned as both of them made disgusted faces.
“That’s my friends’ Dad, Mum.” Scorpius wrinkled his nose in distaste. “And just say hot, you don’t have to be so uptight.” I pretended he hadn’t spoken.
“I wear reading glasses!”
“Yeah, but you don’t have green eyes, dear,” I reminded my husband with a poker-straight face.
I distinctly heard him mutter, “Piss is green.” When I raised an eyebrow at him, he finished buttoning up his shirt in angry silence. After half a minute, he burst out angrily, “Grey is much less common than green!”
“Besides Harry Potter’s foxy eyes, you know what – who – else is green, Draco?” I said loudly, grabbing his elbow as soon as he’d done up his belt and dragging him from the room, Scorpius following in our wake. I gave him a meaningful look, and his scowl deepened. Teasingly, I added, “Jealousy is not a good look on you.”
“Nor is ‘nosy, manipulative hag’ a good look for you, yet you still persist,” he muttered, earning a sharp elbow to the ribs.
“Astoria! You look lovely – where did you get that blouse, it’s beautiful!”
I’d barely stepped out of the fireplace before Audrey Weasley had suddenly flung her arms around me. I smiled at her enthusiasm (she loved fashion, girl talk, politics and Percy – in that order) but before I could answer, Ginny had elbowed her sister-in-law out of the way and hugged me as well. “Ignore Audrey, she’s just happy because she’s escaped Percy for a little while.” She rolled her eyes, grinning at me. “Anyway, where’s Draco?”
I shrugged, knowing he valued living too much to not show up. “I don’t – ”
“Here – unfortunately,” my husband drawled as he stepped from the grate behind me, taking in the Potters’ decent-sized, monochrome-schemed kitchen with an air of superiority.
Ginny chuckled and pinched his pale cheek, earning her a scowl. I hid a smile – she was about the only other woman I knew of who could put up with his infuriating attitude, besides myself, of course.
“You look inordinately happy to be here,” she reflected dryly, taking in his sullen expression and hands-in-pockets body language. The grate flared up behind us again, and Scorpius stepped out, ‘fixing’ his hair as he did so. “Scorpius – the others are in the garden, go have fun,” Ginny told him, smiling. He hurried off as if there were a horde of angry centaurs on his tail.
Draco was watching her in awe. It had always surprised him that there was someone besides me that liked our son. I elbowed him sharply. “If you don’t stop gawping, Harry’ll take your head off.”
At the mention of Harry, he scowled again.
“The men are by the barbeque,” Ginny informed him as she bustled back to the countertop and carried on kneading dough. I decided to leave casting aspersions on Draco’s status as a supposed ‘man’ until later in the evening.
Draco sent me that look that showed he had no idea what she was talking about. I rolled my eyes. “A barbeque – as in an outside oven.” When he still looked a little confused, I clarified, “What the house-elves cook your food in.” His eyes widened slightly in realisation, but I felt the need to continue anyway. “Like a very controlled fire.”
“I understand. I did take Muggle Studies for five years,” he reminded me, adding an almost inaudible “unfortunately” on the end.
“Harry and Ron are there, actually,” Ginny continued, then winked at me. “They said the fire has a life of its own. Bill said it was being fiendish today. Apparently if you look really closely, you can almost see animals in it – ”
“I think I’m alright here,” Draco interrupted hastily, his face slightly paler than usual.
“Harry and Ron are there to save you,” I teased him, and he glared at me.
“I told you about that fiendfyre incident because I trusted you,” he muttered angrily.
“No, you told me about it after I drugged you up on Veritaserum and demanded to know all your weaknesses,” I said cheerily, and both Audrey and Ginny hid their laughter. What a fun third date that was. “Now – go to the bloody barbeque and try not to piss anyone off too much.”
I distinctly heard Ginny mutter a “yeah, good luck with that.”
I shoved my irritating-beyond-belief husband towards the kitchen door, then turned back to Audrey as if we’d never been interrupted. “I got it from the new boutique on Diagon Alley, actually. We should go there soon.”
Her face lit up. “Yes! After the Ministry gala next week? Percy’s got a promotion, so I’m of course planning to spend some of that hard-earned cash.”
Ginny and I both winced. “He got a promotion?” Well, I thought sadly, there go my hopes of an interesting conversation at lunch.
Audrey shrugged. “Yeah, but it’s pretty dull. Seriously, all he does is file a few more reports and chat to a few more Goblins – or maybe it was mer-people? I forget – ”
“Astoria! I guessed you had to be here when I saw your milk-faced prat of a husband in the garden!”
I turned to see the dark figure of Angelina Weasley stood in the doorway, her eyes twinkling. I sighed, playing along. “Don’t tease Draco about his complexion, he’s very sensitive about it.”
“Sensitive to sunlight?” Ginny asked innocently. “Because I have several spare bottles of sun cream – I’m sure I could ask Harry to get them for him – ”
We all chuckled at that, although I winced. “If you want me to suffer death by sulky prat, then by all means do. Anyway,” I changed the subject, glancing around the kitchen, “is there anything I can do to help?”
Ginny hesitated, looking around the kitchen with a frown. “No, I think we’re alright. Hang on - actually, if you could help levitate some of the salads, that’d be brilliant.” I nodded and we all pitched in with the levitation. At least twenty bowls of various foods rose into the air and began to float through the door towards the garden.
“Glorious weather, isn’t it?” Audrey said conversationally as we passed through the Potters’ large house towards their equally large garden. “Percy’s rather irritated about it, actually. Says no one can take a Weasley with sunburn seriously.”
All of us except Ginny giggled at that. The ex-Weasley simply frowned. “He has a point, you know. When your face matches your hair –well, it’s not exactly attractive.” Then she giggled as well, and added, “Although, Percy always looks like he’s about to combust when he goes red.” She flicked her mess of red hair out of her face, and I decided not to mention the flour on her cheek. “Mind the step,” she added, and we all carefully navigated our way onto the patio.
The noise of chatter swept over us, mixed in with the buzzing of various insects and the sizzling of meat on the barbeque. The Potters’ garden was huge, stretching out in a sea of slightly yellow grass to a sparkling blue lake at the bottom. On the dock, I could just about make out my son, sat with Lily and Albus Potter, Rose and Dominique Weasley and the Scamander twins, and scowled slightly.
“Something wrong, Astoria?” Ginny asked as she walked beside me, skilfully levitating her set of plates as Hugo Weasley sprinted past us in hot pursuit of some other redhaired cousin of his.
“Yeah,” I admitted. “Scorpius is dating a Weasley.”
She mimed being shocked, looking highly amused. “You have an issue with Scorpius dating a Weasley, but have no apparent issue with spending a whole day with the family?”
I smiled ruefully. “Much as I like your family – well, it’s one of those things, you know?” I gestured a little, feeling frustrated. “Nothing personal, but a Weasley will never be worthy of my son.”
Instead of looking offended, Ginny just laughed. “I had the same issue when James brought back his first girlfriend. And then when he brought back his second. And the third. By the time he brought back his sixth girl, I began to realise maybe he wasn’t worthy of them.” Her dry humour had me struggling to hold back my laughter.
“What about Albus?” I asked, still unsure. “I mean, he’s more like Scorpius. Did you have the same issue with his first girlfriend?”
Ginny snorted. “Albus? I’m starting to wonder if that boy’s asexual. Sixteen years old and he’s not had a girlfriend yet? Merlin, I was dating when I was fourteen – and I’m not a hormonal teenage boy. Even Harry had a girlfriend when he was fifteen.” We both chuckled as we stopped at the huge table and let the plates arrange themselves. Audrey and Angelina joined the crowd of adults near the barbeque, but Ginny and I hung back a little bit, preferring to talk a little more. “Out of – let’s call it morbid curiosity,” she asked, wearing that amused smile again, “which Weasley is Scorpius dating?”
My mouth popped open.
Dear sweet Merlin, how could I not know that? What kind of mother was I that I couldn’t even remember which Weasley my son was dating?
I quickly consoled myself that it wasn’t my fault – every time he’d mentioned his girlfriend, I’d gone off on some murderous rampage inside my head, so it was hardly my fault I’d missed the sodding she-devil’s first name. I was innocent here.
Realising I was still stood there, gaping like I was hoping to catch one of the wasps floating near the edge of the insect-repellent charms, I shook my head slightly to clear my thoughts. Mortified that I didn’t know the girl’s name, I said the first Weasley girl I could think of. “Victoire.”
Ginny laughed, and I felt my cheeks go pink as I realised my mistake. “Victoire is twenty-three years old, pregnant by someone who I certainly hope is not Scorpius, and she’s not even a Weasley anymore. You were there when she married Teddy, remember?” As I bit my lip and looked away, Ginny gasped. “You don’t know her name?!”
“Shush!” I hissed, glancing over at the nearest crowd of people – I recognised them as Roxane and Molly Weasley, sunbathing. I wondered if Scorpius would go for the highly tanned Roxane, the pale and freckled Molly – or someone else altogether? “Keep your voice down!”
Ginny was choking on her laughter, tears actually sparkling in her twinkling eyes. I cast a few more frantic glances around, then smiled as I caught Bill’s curious stare. “She swallowed some saliva the wrong way,” I called cheerily, then whacked his sister a little harder than necessary on the back. “Clumsy, clumsy Ginevra,” I hissed under my breath as she continued to laugh.
Finally, she got a grip on herself and turned to face me fully, her face beaming like the sun. “Well – let’s see. There’s Dominique, Molly, Lucy, Roxane, Rose and Lily – ” at the mention of this last one, her face darkened and I gulped. If Harry was overprotective of his daughter – well, Merlin forbid what Ginny would do to my son (no matter how much she liked him). “Lily’s not a Weasley, she’s a Potter,” Ginny said sharply, her face relaxing slightly, “So that’s six girls it could be.”
I gulped. “Shit, I’m a bad mother.”
“Swearing doesn’t exactly help your case,” Ginny chuckled, ignoring the scowl I sent her. “Are you sure Draco doesn’t know the name?”
I sent her a look that questioned her sanity. “If I tuned out when Scorpius mentioned Weasleys, what the hell do you think Draco would do?”
She nodded, conceding that point. “And are you sure Scorpius said it was a girl?”
“Normally, the term ‘girlfriend’ implies someone female,” I said, a little snidely. I couldn’t help it – I was stressed.
Ginny shrugged. “Hey, I was just checking. I always thought Hugo had a bit of a crush on him.”
“Really?” I asked, momentarily caught up in the idea. “I would’ve thought Albus – they’re closer in age, plus they share a dormitory at school. Plenty of opportunities for developing a crush there.”
The red-haired woman’s expression darkened in the same way it had when the idea of Scorpius and Lily had been broached. “My son and your son?” She snorted with laughter. “I’m sorry, Albus has way too much class for that.”
“What’s this about Albus?”
We both stopped laughing as we realised the presence of someone else. I blinked a little stupidly as I realised Harry Potter stood there, his famous emerald eyes twinkling at us. Ginny was the first to get over the surprise of being interrupted and kissed his cheek in welcome. “We were just discussing Albus and Scorpius and their possible relationship. No big deal.”
He was clearly trying not to laugh as he said, “Oh.” He wrapped an arm around his wife’s waist and kissed the top of her hair affectionately. “The food looks lovely, Gin.” His smile grew as he continued, “But not as lovely as you.”
“You’d better not be talking to my wife there, Potter.”
Cue the arrival of the (metaphorically) green-eyed monster. I felt an arm slip around my waist in a mirror image of Harry and Ginny, and the familiar cologne Draco wore enveloped me. I suppressed the urge to roll my eyes and elbowed the prat lightly. “Oh, piss off and go wear your reading glasses.” That earned me a scowl from him and a confused look from Ginny.
“Nice to see you again, Draco,” Harry said politely.
I pinched Draco’s side through his shirt.
“Likewise, Potter,” he forced out through gritted teeth.
Ginny was laughing. “You’ve got him well-trained, Astoria,” she chuckled, and I could see Harry hiding a smirk. What a sweet, polite man.
“Don’t look at my wife like that, Malfoy,” the sweet, polite man suddenly snapped. “She’s only joking.”
“Relax, Harry,” I said easily, leaning my head against Draco’s shoulder to try and show how ‘tame’ he was. “He gives out murderous glances like that all the time, but he’s too much of a coward to do anything more.” Draco turned his head to glower at me, and I went with my sweetest smile and whispered, “I love you?” There. It felt like I’d disarmed a Death Eater when his scowl dissolved slightly.
“Anyway,” Ginny chirped happily, and the three of us turned our attention to her. “You wouldn’t happen to know which Weasley Scorpius is dating, would you?” Her gaze was directed towards our respective husbands, who both gave identical shrugs.
“Nah, Gin, I don’t listen to the gossip,” Harry shrugged, running a hand through his hand and giving her a rueful smile. “Sorry.”
“No,” Draco said shortly. “It’s a Weasley, does it matter which?”
“Yours is much better trained than mine,” I observed to Ginny, after a short pause.
We both laughed at the affronted looks they wore, and I refrained from commenting on how similar they looked in that instant. I, for all my complaints, was pretty fond of my life, and didn’t plan on having it cut short.
“How’s the barbeque?” Ginny asked. “Ron set fire to anything?”
“Only the oven gloves,” Harry grinned, and we all (excluding my misery-guts of a spouse) chuckled. “There was a close call with his wand at one point as well. George thought it was kindling and nearly chucked it in. Not even sellotape would’ve fixed that.” He made an effort to smile at Draco, who was still looking sullen. “You remember when Ron broke his wand in second-year, right?”
I elbowed him again. My elbows were pointy – they hurt. Draco was a coward. Therefore, he reluctantly continued, “Yes, I do.” Another jab of my elbow. “One of the funniest moments of my life was watching him belch slugs.” A small smirk broke the mask of sulkiness on his face, and I rolled my eyes again.
Luckily, Harry didn’t seem to be offended by Draco’s great amusement at his friend’s bad luck. “Yeah, definitely something I’ll remember for a long time,” he laughed. “Just like I’ll never forget when Hermione punched you – remember that?”
I eyed Draco with interest as his face lapsed back into a scowl. “What’s this about you getting beaten up by a girl?”
He ignored me and drawled, “Yeah, I remember that. Just like I remember that time in sixth-year when you nearly killed me.” There was a short silence in which Ginny gave a quiet exasperated sigh and Harry’s good-natured smile froze. Draco’s own smile was almost feral as he said, “Good times.”
There was another short silence where Harry looked uncomfortable, Ginny looked mildly amused and I felt my irritation overflowing. I turned to face Draco and poked him sharply in the shoulder. “You,” I snapped, “are such a prick. Are you incapable of being nice? Or polite? Merlin. Why did I marry you?”
He lowered his lips to my ear and murmured in a soft growl, “Because I’m extraordinarily handsome and the idea of being mine for eternity was too much to resist?”
I decided to ignore the prat. Partly because he was being obnoxious, and partly because he was right. Merlin, they say love is blind. I think Draco and I are living proof of that.
Harry seemed to have gathered his wits together again, and that gormless look had disappeared by the time I’d returned my attention to them. “Yeah, I remember that,” he said sheepishly, scratching his head awkwardly. “Sorry ‘bout that, mate. Mind you, your house-elf tried to get me expelled from the Wizarding world and set a bloodthirsty bludger on me.”
“Dobby was not acting on our orders,” Draco said sourly, looking as if he dearly wished Dobby had succeeded. “Anyway, what about the time you and your minions attacked us in Umbridge’s office?”
“You were holding us prisoner,” Ginny chipped in helpfully, earning herself an annoyed look from my darling husband.
“Yeah, and you went on to imprison my father in Azkaban,” Draco continued, his expression impassive.
“He tried to kill us,” Harry pointed out reasonably. “It wasn’t really our fault. And anyway, you’re forgetting that time when you set that snake on me in Duelling Club, remember? Woah,” he said, shaking his head slightly. “You really were out to get me in second-year.”
“That snake didn’t even attack you,” my husband sneered. Underneath the friendly banter, I guessed that just because the snake hadn’t attacked Harry – well, it wasn’t difficult to work out that the snake wasn’t entirely innocent. “Then there were all the times you cheated in Quidditch – ”
“I never cheated in Quidditch!”
“ – and you broke into our common room in second-year because you mistakenly assumed me to be a murderer – ”
“Because you worked so hard to look innocent in that affair,” Harry muttered angrily. “Besides, what about when you told on Norbert, and when you started the ‘Potter Stinks’ club, and when you broke my nose – ”
Deciding to let our husbands bond fondly over their old school memories, Ginny and I detached ourselves from them gently. They didn’t even notice. They were too busy discussing their past in a thought-provoking and calm manner which set an example to the children around us.
“ – publicly humiliated me – ”
“ – called her a mudblood!”
“And you tricked me!”
“Then that bloody trip jinx...!”
I figured that the rational and intelligent conversation would occupy the two men for the rest of the afternoon, leaving me free to work out the mystery of Scorpius’ girlfriend.
But as it turned out, I didn’t have to work it out. The crowd of teenagers who’d been loitering on the dock had all dawdled their way up the garden as the scent of frying sausages permeated the air, and were approaching Ginny and I at a rapid pace. I could almost smell Scorpius’ nerves as he looked at me.
“...and then he said, well, that’s really put the cauldron in the fire!” Percy was guffawing heartily at his own joke, although the only other person who seemed to find it amusing was Mrs Weasley. Which, I thought, was rather sad, considering she had to laugh, seeing as she was his mother and all that. But when I saw Scorpius approaching, I forced a laugh as well and turned my back on the group of teenagers.
As I laughed, Luna Scamander looked up at me and with that ethereal tone to her voice, said curiously, “You’re weird, Astoria.”
Ignoring the irony of that sentence with a real Malfoy-like disdain, I simply smiled sweetly back at her. “People have differing senses of humour, Luna.”
“And some people just have plain weird ones,” I could hear Angelina mutter. When I looked at her, she simply echoed my sweet smile, her eyes twinkling in with unspoken glee.
I let the conversation drift onto new topics, trying to pull together what little courage I had to face my son, who I knew would ambush me the minute I turned around. I glanced hopefully over at Draco, but apparently my moral support was still involved in his heated argument with the Boy Who Lived. Apparently, Ronald Weasley had decided his friend could use some help, and now the three of them stood there, bickering away like three-year-olds over a toy.
Sighing inwardly, I clenched my fists, then turned around.
I jumped as I realised Scorpius was stood right there, reaching out to tap my shoulder, and pressed a hand to my heart in shock. He looked as surprised as I did, but then cleared his throat.
Panicking slightly, I did the only thing a mother can do. I fussed. “Scorpius! What on earth have you done with your hair?” I frowned as I licked my thumb and then wiped at a smudge of dust on his cheek. He ducked away, his cheeks flaming red in embarrassment. “Honestly, I – ”
“Mum, I’d like you to meet my new girlfriend.” A rustle of clothes to his left indicated the cow who was stealing my son was stood there.
I stared at him for a moment, then continued, “I do despair of you sometimes, sweetheart. I really do. You ought to care more about your appearance. You may not resemble a ferret to the same extent as your father, seeing as you inherited my good genes and all, but I don’t see why you can’t just cut it a few more inches – ”
“Mum, this is my girlfriend – remember, the one I told you about?” He was scarlet now, and I vaguely realised I was mortifying him, just like my parents had when I started dating Draco. I still cringed at the memories of her patting Draco’s arse and telling me “you’ve picked a keeper here, Astoria”.
My memories of my past humiliation managed to give me the courage to finally zone out of mother-hen mode and back into my vaguely-sane-or-at-least-attempting-to-appear-so mindset. He gestured to his left again, clearly wanting me to switch on the Malfoy charm (ahahaha) and astound her. I steeled myself.
For a moment, I couldn’t look to the side, preferring to stare at my beautiful, handsome son and wonder how a bloody Weasley could dare to corrupt some masculine perfection. Merlin had blessed me indeed to have such a beacon of light and joy spring from my womb.
...and that was one thought I was never going to say out loud. I’d humiliated Scorpius enough for one day. Maybe tomorrow.
Finally, I managed to drag my gaze to the girl stood beside him.
She was a little shorter than him – so just below my height – and she was barefoot (oh, the things you notice when your world is falling apart!). Clearly, she’d made an effort for this meeting with her precious boyfriend’s parents, because she was wearing a modest blue skirt and well-fitted floral blouse, while the other teenagers stood about were just in shorts and t-shirts.
Desperate. She’s clearly desperate for you to like her. Merlin, what a harpy.
Neatly curled red hair, a little bit bushy, but more fluffy than anything else, framed a heart-shaped face. With relief, I noticed she didn’t have the common Weasley freckles, and her blue eyes were wide with nerves as she held out a hand for me to shake.
“Nice to meet you, Ast – Mrs Malfoy,” she said nervously, ignoring the fact we’d (sort of) known each other for several years now. “I’m Dominique Weasley.”
expecting that? no? good ^^
i’m assuming most of you believed it would be Rose (reviews gave that away!), especially as there’s that pairing mentioned in the information of this story. i’m saying nothing. but my guess is that most of you won’t be able to work out how that pairing fits into this story :D i’d love to hear your theories, though! go wild!