Scorpius liked to think impending fatherhood was agreeing with him. He felt more creative than ever, his paintings flowing effortlessly and the timber of his voice sounding richer. It was probably just the excitement of it all, but he couldn't help it. He felt like cheering, or jumping up and down. Whenever he thought about it, he found himself smiling.
Rose was having a baby. His baby. Unintentionally, yes, but it was just as wonderful.
She wasn't showing yet; it was too early for that, but he couldn't stop touching her belly. Eventually she got tired of it and slapped his hand away, of course, but a few times a day he could get away with giving her belly a little caress and picturing the baby.
Thus far Rose seemed to be taking it in stride rather better than he'd expected. She was only a bit queasy, and a potion (Victoire had given her the recipe; it was surprisingly similar to the Hangover-Curing Potion they were both so familiar with) made that go away quickly enough, so Rose was handling things quite well.
He'd been a bit worried that she was handling it well because it hadn't become real for her yet, but it had been her idea to go ahead with actually having the baby in the first place, so maybe she was all right with it after all.
Since she hadn't freaked out over the thought of impending motherhood, Scorpius felt free to indulge in his elation over having made a baby with her. He wanted to paint a portrait of her, but decided to wait until she was visibly pregnant. She might not want to immortalize the moment, but he did, and he was rather sure this was his only shot at painting a pregnant Rose, at least from life.
She hadn't been to work all week, not since she'd told him about the baby. And since she wasn't going to work or freaking out, he felt safe to broach a subject he was sure she wasn't going to like.
She had to stop working now, at least for the duration of the pregnancy.
Her job was, quite frankly, far too dangerous for her to keep working until the baby was born. There was no option for a desk job there, either, so she was going to have to quit, at least for now. As much as she complained about her job, she did love it, so he knew she wasn't going to be happy and was expecting to have to convince her that it was best.
He cornered her while she was sitting at the foot of their bed one morning, putting her hair in pigtails that made her look very sweet and girlish.
“What are your plans for the day? Going in to the office?”
She shrugged. “I probably should. I haven't been in all week. Lydia's bound to think I'm dead in a ditch somewhere by now. Better go in before Angelo buys a celebratory cigar.”
He smiled briefly at that and then steeled himself for an unpleasant discussion. “I wanted to talk to you about that. I don't think it's a good idea for you to keep working while you're pregnant.”
She looked down at her lap, her face hurt and forlorn. Before she could say anything, though, he knelt down in front of her, his hands on her thighs. She set the brush aside, not meeting his eyes, but he knew he had her full attention. Her body was very still. Rose wasn't often still.
“I know you don't want to quit, Rose, but it's too dangerous. You could get hurt, or take spell damage, anything could happen. We'll be all right without you working, I promise. The painting of Gideon Crumb is going to pay our rent for the next six months. And I can do more portraits – one of the other Weird Sisters has already asked if I'll paint his children next. I can pay the rent and all that, I swear.”
Rose nodded, but she still wasn't looking at him.
“I'll do whatever it takes,” he said sincerely. “I'll go back to the Ministry if I have to. The Misuse of Muggle Artefacts office is bound to have messed up their filing again by now, I could straighten it back out. But you can't do skip-tracing while you're pregnant.”
“I know,” she said quietly. “I already figured that. I was going in today to tell Angelo I need time off until after the baby comes.”
He wanted to breathe a sigh of relief, and he was relieved, but she looked so unhappy that all he could do was wrap his arms around her waist and hold her.
“I'm sorry,” he whispered, and she ran a hand through his hair.
“I'll be bored,” she warned him.
“You might like it after you get used to it. Not working, I mean.”
She threw him a look, and he had to admit, he did know better. She was going to drive him crazy being home – and bored – all the time. It would be wonderful though, and worth it. She was worth everything to him.
When Scorpius had been thirteen, his voice had changed. The baritone register he'd settled into had inspired one of his classmates to introduce him to the world of musical theatre, with which he'd quickly fallen in love. Singing came naturally to him, and he loved it almost as much as painting. He didn't care about school much, or his father's pureblood rhetoric, or a career in anything really, because art and music consumed his soul. And then he'd fallen in love with Rose.
This, all of it, wrapped up in a neat little present exactly why his father was disappointed in him, and when it had all started.
With Muggle showtunes, and Rose Weasley.
Scorpius was well aware of his father's disenchantment with him. Draco Malfoy had never troubled to hide what a failure his only son was in his eyes. Scorpius tried not to let it bother him, but it was his father, after all, and he couldn't help feeling hurt. As much as Scorpius disappointed his father, his father disappointed him. Draco especially suffered by comparison to Rose's father, who was proud of her even when he thought she was mental, and had been known to fish her out of the clutches of serial killers when needed (really, living with Rose was exhausting) without even berating her for it later.
Dinners at the Malfoys' house were always a bit tense because of all this. Between him living with Rose, painting instead of running the Malfoy fortunes, his admiration for Muggle music, and refusing to take any of his family's money to support himself, his father had a wide range of topics upon which to harass his only child.
And now he was about to have one more.
Scorpius had no illusions. Neither of his parents was likely to be happy. They'd never liked Rose. She was a Weasley. And she wasn't a pureblood. Still, it had to be done. They were bound to notice eventually, after all. He was expecting to have to tell his father off about complaining about the baby, as he'd done when his father had openly complained about Rose.
Draco Malfoy could say what he liked about Scorpius's career or lack thereof, and even about Muggle showtunes, but he knew better than to speak rudely about Rose, at least if he ever wanted to see his son again.
They arrived for their monthly dinner at precisely seven o'clock, and followed the house-elf to the drawing room where his parents were waiting.
“Remember, we'll lead into it gently after the pudding,” Scorpius whispered as they entered the room.
“I know, I know.” Rose smiled brightly at his parents, though he could see the smile was forced. She didn't like his parents any better than they liked her. “Hi, Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy.”
“Mother. Father.” Scorpius nodded at them.
His mother managed a small smile, and his father merely nodded back. “Scorpius. Miss Weasley.”
Rose hated these dinners. She didn't fit in here, like a hothouse flower growing in a slab of ice, but her presence was almost the only thing that made these visits tolerable for Scorpius. He always felt better with her beside him.
The house-elf handed her a gillywater. It was what his mother drank, so it was what the elf always made for Rose as well, and although Rose hated the stuff, she never said anything. He appreciated her deeply for that. It was such a small thing, but she could have made an issue of it and didn't, for his sake.
Dinner was strained, as usual. Scorpius was still mentally rehearsing how he was going to break the news to his parents, only half-listening to the small talk his parents made. They disliked having real conversations over the dinner table. It felt strange now, after he'd been to so many Weasley dinners full of noise and chaos and loud debates over everything from politics to Quidditch teams, but at one time he'd been used to it.
It was nice to think he'd be a change for the Malfoy line. He was determined the icy silence would end with him. His child would not sit quietly like this and make the occasional inane remark about the weather. Scorpius was tired of polite and proper.
He wanted chaos.
Chaos currently sat beside him, eating her veal with a silver fork embossed with the Malfoy crest. She caught him looking at her and gave him a wink. He smiled, fancying that she already had that famed pregnancy glow.
Or maybe she'd just always been this beautiful.
The dinner plates were removed, and Scorpius sat back thoughtfully, drinking his wine. He was going to broach the subject as gently as he possibly could, as per the plan. He was fairly certain his parents' reactions would be predictable, but he had a decent plan for redirecting them so no one need shout at each other. He eyed his parents. His mother was wearing the usual expression of distraction; Rose called it her 'dreaming of Majorca' face. His father, though, looked slightly pinched and annoyed. He often did when Rose was at their dinner table.
When the sorbet was served, his father opened his mouth with a look in his eye that said he was about to lecture about his son's shortcomings, and suddenly his mental script seemed stupid. It wasn't going to be pleasant either way, he realized, so he may as well rip the bandage off, so to speak.
Hell with it.
“Rose is pregnant,” Scorpius said before his father could speak.
His mother dropped her spoon. It clattered loudly against the china. His father opened and closed his mouth. Twice. Rose looked at him askance.
“I thought you wanted to lay it on them gently,” she stage-whispered.
“Hell with it,” he told her.
“Pregnant?” his mother echoed faintly.
“You're not going to marry her, are you?” his father demanded. There was nothing faint about his voice.
“Probably not,” Scorpius said cheerfully. “We'll continue living in sin.”
Rose took a sip of her water, looking studiedly innocent. As innocent as a woman whose unwed pregnancy had just been announced could look, that is.
“But... but...” His mother's pale cheeks were turning pink. She stared at him with eyes wide. “Your grandmother-”
Grandmother was going to have heart palpitations when she heard he was having a child with a Weasley. She wouldn't even come out of her room if Rose was in the house. When she spoke to Scorpius, she pretended Rose didn't exist. It was rather horrible, but she still looked on the Weasleys with disdain. They were beneath her, so she would not acknowledge his relationship with Rose. Not only was Rose a Weasley, she wasn't even a pure-blooded Weasley. To his grandmother, that was the end of things. And now, he'd knocked up a half-blooded Weasley.
He supposed he could only be relieved his grandfather hadn't lived to see this. Now there was a reaction he didn't want to think about.
He rolled his eyes. “I know, Mother.”
“Pregnant,” she said again.
“You can't be serious about this, Scorpius,” his father snapped. “You don't actually expect us to-”
Scorpius broke in with a sharp, “Father,” and his father subsided, somewhat to his surprise. They stared at each other for a moment, and Scorpius willed him not to say anything that would require a full-on argument.
“What did her parents say about this... this...” His father fumbled for a moment for the right word, then went on with a vague wave of his hand and his lip pulled back in a sneer, “About this.”
“They said congratulations,” Scorpius said quietly.
His father looked at him for what felt like a very long time, and finally he glanced at Rose and then back to Scorpius and said, “Congratulations. Do you need money?”
“No, Father,” Scorpius replied. “And thank you.”
That seemed to be the end of things for his father, and although his mother kept glancing at Rose all through dinner, Draco Malfoy did not revisit the subject of the baby the rest of the evening.
Two weeks later, however, his mother stopped by to collect Rose, and they returned a few hours later with a roomful of nursery furniture on order. Scorpius knew who was paying for that, and decided to allow the extravagance since it was the closest his father was likely to come to admitting he would be involved with a half-Weasley grandchild, at least to the extent he was involved in Scorpius's life at all.
Rose's parents, who were extremely involved in her life, had been dropping by regularly with gifts for the baby. Her dad favoured more fun and less practical gifts, such as toy broomsticks and small plush dragons, and a miniature model of the Hogwarts Express done all in hand-carved and painted wood. Her mum, on the other hand, brought books. A great deal of books, primarily about pregnancy and child-rearing. Scorpius had to confiscate a number of these when Rose, being Rose, skipped to the end and got herself completely freaked out over the chapter on labour and delivery.
Rose freaked out did no one any good.
And so he sent her to Victoire's to calm down when she read about contractions and transition, and waited another month before broaching the next unpleasant discussion.
They were having rhubarb crumble after dinner. It was a dish that always went well with her father, and was one of Rose's favourites too. He tended to make it when he knew he needed a leg up.
She was sitting on the sofa watching Quidditch on the wireless, and he sat down next to her with a plate of crumble in hand.
“I've been thinking,” he began, and Rose shot him a look.
“Did it hurt?”
He ignored this. In his experience, pregnant Weasleys said whatever they wanted to, even more than they normally did. Victoire was absolutely hilarious when she was pregnant. Dominique had really been a treat. Pregnant Rose was shaping up to be exactly like her cousins.
He knew from long experience that she wasn't going to like what he was about to ask. Even knowing her likely response, however, he felt the question was one worth asking.
“I've been thinking, Rose. Maybe we could, you know, get married?” he asked, struggling to keep his voice neutral so as not to spook her. This was pathetic, he reflected wryly; she was having his child, but he had to carefully negotiate his way through a conversation about marriage in case she freaked out and ran off to Aruba.
Rose's eyes widened. “What, me? Married? Mental enough to think of me as a mother, isn't it?”
“Do you think it would make it better or worse for our parents if we were married before the baby was born?”
She actually stopped to consider that one. He could see the wheels turning; she was thinking so hard there was nearly smoke coming out her ears. He reckoned she was picturing her father's expression if she told him his only daughter was about to become a Malfoy.
“I'm not sure that would help,” she said eventually.
“You don't have to take my name,” Scorpius put in. “I don't care about that, you know. You'd still be Rose Weasley.”
Her eyes were getting wider and wider, and he read the panic in her face and decided they'd had enough marriage talk. He drew a breath, pushed his disappointment aside, and held out the plate of rhubarb crumble. “Second helping?”
She looked relieved, and took some crumble. It was actually her third helping, but who was counting? She'd blame it on the baby anyway. Whenever Rose wanted to overeat these days, it was for the baby, even though the Healers said she didn't actually need to eat for two – more like one and a bit. Convenient, that. He didn't mind, though. She looked adorably soft right now, with her belly just beginning to stretch out the unicorn on her shirt. He wondered if he could get her some maternity shirts with pink unicorns. That would make her happy.
Apparently marriage wouldn't. He hadn't really expected her to say yes, he realized, watching her fork up the crumble.
“I love you,” he said then.
She looked up at him with a smile, her fork in midair. “I love you too.”