Chapter 4 : Malfoy Place
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It was all very confusing. “Scorpius, what’s the problem with your house? I thought –“
“It isn’t my house. My father moved us all to London when I was a baby. They live in Chelsea, where I grew up.” Scorpius’ tone was clipped and his body was tense as he spoke. “Nobody’s lived there for twenty years. Malfoy Manor is nothing but an abandoned old building these days.”
Bridget cut in at this point. “Well, there’s been some activity there in the last couple of months. A Muggle has gone missing near the house, and the Ministry needs to know whether the place needs cordoning off as a dangerous place to wizards and Muggles or not.” Scorpius said nothing in response.
“Who’s the Muggle?” Lily asked. Bridget huffed at the prospect of having to talk to her.
“Tracy Adams, a local Wiltshire cheesemonger. She ran a shop with her husband. They were out walking together when she disappeared, and he came back alone and jabbering on and making no sense. He’s currently in a secure Muggle mental facility.”
The silence that followed hung thick and heavy in the air as the unanswered questions flooded Lily’s brain. She noticed that Bridget had melted away at Scorpius’ dismissal, clearly offended, and was secretly pleased that she had left.
It was at this point Scorpius finally raised his head and met Lily’s inquisitive gaze. The expression on her face told her he was hiding something. “Scorpius, why does Malfoy Manor need investigating? What does it have to do with this Muggle?” she demanded. She would not tolerate being treated like an inferior.
He sighed deeply. “Any information of mine is second-hand, I’m afraid. It’s a load of crap anyway. We moved because there were some… unusual happenings. I suppose Muggles would call it ‘hauntings’. A lot of people were murdered there, after all,” Scorpius added bitterly. Lily’s mind flashed back to the cruel schoolchildren who shouted senselessly vile things about his family. What was worse was knowing that there was some truth to their jibes.
“So… we’re talking ghosts?” she asked as she focused on the task at hand. Scorpius seemed to be regaining control over his emotions once more, but his jaw was still tense with the effort of it. He jerked his head in what she assumed was a shake.
“Not exactly. My father never explained it to me, no matter how many times I asked.” The barely-suppressed frustration was clear in his voice, and Lily frowned. The answer of what to first do seemed obvious, but her work partner’s rigid body and the tension rolling off of him in waves made it clear what the situation was.
Bracing herself for what her father had told about, Lily said what was on her mind. “Scorpius, what we need to do is talk to your parents about why they moved out.”
Scorpius flew up out of his chair and outright growled in anger, making Lily jump and push back slightly. He was running another hand through his hair again in agitation at the prospect.
“Can’t – my father – he – no,” Scorpius spat at Lily’s protests. She fell silent immediately; the intimidation that she felt from Scorpius as a teenager was present once more. A tiny knot of worry started in her stomach, refusing to budge. Not for the first time around him, Lily’s temper began to rise.
“Because nobody deserves a fate worse than talking to my father.”
His frankness startled her. “What’s that supposed to mean?” Was he treating her like a child again? She could have slapped him for being so infuriating.
“It is what it is. It is impossible to talk to Draco Malfoy without an argument breaking out. It’s impossible to talk to him full stop,” he said through gritted teeth. “We’re not going. We can dispatch another investigator to conduct a formal interview of Draco and Astoria Malfoy.” The lack of warmth in his voice at the mention of his parents’ names was unsettling.
“No. I’m not going and neither are you.” He was already walking away from the incredulous Lily. “I don’t want you dealing with a man like that,” he added quietly, so she couldn’t hear.
Lily was fuming. It had been a day since Scorpius had put his foot down about talking to his parents, and since then they’d sat in uneasy silence preparing warrants and initial paperwork. Essentially, Lily thought, they were avoiding actually getting started and refusing to face the inevitable.
It was all well and good to bury their heads in the sand, but Lily had a plan. During their lunch break when Scorpius wasn’t around, she was going to pay Mr and Mrs Malfoy a little visit to find out exactly what the problem with Malfoy Manor was. For now, she just had to make sure Scorpius didn’t find out.
This was proving more difficult than expected. If there was one thing Lily couldn’t do, it was lie. Whenever she got into trouble with her cousins at a child, it was always Lily who gave away the truth just from her face, much to her cousins’ despair. During one summer, Roxanne actually banned her from a midnight Quidditch tournament she had devised because of Lily’s trademark guilty expression, tomato cheeks and looking as if she were about to burst into laughter and tears simultaneously.
Unfortunately, Lily had never outgrown it.
In this particular case Lily felt the guilt rising like the tide as the clock inched slowly towards lunch. As she tried to concentrate on what she was doing and failed miserably as Scorpius eventually peered curiously at her odd behaviour.
“Lily, are you feeling alright? You’ve gone really red,” he asked in concern. The clock rang out as it struck one.
“YesI’mfinethanksseeyouinanhour!” she squeaked out as she grabbed her coat and dashed off, leaving a bewildered Scorpius sat at their desk. Success! Sort of, anyway.
Bolstered by her triumphant equivocating, Lily bundled herself up in gloves and a hat before she set out towards the icy London that awaited her. She smiled as the bustling city greeted her with its frosty pavements and glittering streetlights. Even though Christmas had been and gone, London was still beautiful. She was glad to have a small flat there that she could call home.
She set off as she pulled out a crumpled piece of paper with a hastily scribbled address on it. She’d filched the address from Scorpius’ contact details earlier that morning, before he’d arrived at work. Lily suddenly realised that this was the sneakiest and most covert she’d ever been. This revelation put an extra spring in her step.
She checked the address again before Apparating – Egerton Crescent, Chelsea, one of the richest streets in London. Lily expected no less. She twisted and disappeared into thin air.
When she arrived, Lily gasped. The road was immaculate and beautiful, with stunning Georgian exteriors painted to perfection, their black doors gleaming and glossy. She could imagine the trees in full bloom during the height of summer, fluttering prettily in the warm breeze, but now they were brushed with frost and looking like the height of elegance. She had never seen such beautiful houses.
The extravagant excuse for a house that Lily was looking for was located in the middle of the crescent, and she hurried towards it, boots clacking against the frozen pavement. She could sense the magic as she drew nearer, and kept her hand near her wand in case of any protective enchantments. The air seemed to be pulsing with enchanted energy. From where she was standing, a plaque with ‘Malfoy Place’ emblazoned in gold lettering was proudly attached to the wall.
“Lily!” a voice called out from behind her. She froze and spun round as she spotted Scorpius jogging up to her, cutting a tall and slim figure in his long coat and scarf. Lily felt her stomach drop at the realisation she’d been caught, and thought of how angry he must be at her going.
“Scorpius – I – “
“It’s alright,” he said at her stuttered apologies. He was grinning amusedly at her expression, which must have been her looking like a rabbit caught in headlights. There was a look of resignation in his eyes. “You’re a terrible liar, you know that? I knew you’d come here without me.”
“Oh, I know,” she muttered darkly. “It’s the bane of my life. Was it the imitation of a beetroot or the completely inability to talk that gave me away?”
Scorpius laughed, and she felt a little better about being caught. “Listen, I’m sorry about yesterday. It was just a bit of a shock to find out we’re going to be looking at my family’s house. I know it makes sense to talk to my parents… it’s just that I haven’t spoken to them for three years.”
Lily was unsure whether to comfort Scorpius or not at the pained look on his features, but decided against it and instead stood awkwardly at this quite personal bit of news. It would have been a bit weird for her to touch his arm or something like Bridget did. “Well, I’ll do the talking then,” she joked lightly to lift some of the tension that had settled upon the duo. Scorpius’ expression darkened.
“I meant what I said about my father. He’s a difficult man; Mama thinks he never fully recovered from the war,” he said, stepping in front of the house he grew up in. “I’m sure of it. There’s no way a normal person acts like that.”
He turned to face Lily, who was feeling more and more afraid by the second. Just what kind of man was Draco Malfoy like? Nonetheless, she felt the need to stand her ground. “I can handle your father, Scorpius.”
“You’re the daughter of his old school enemy, Lily,” Scorpius sighed. “You could be the most polite person that was ever born, and he’s still going to hate you.” He looked back at the towering gates surrounding the property. “Besides, you aren’t a pureblood, and that’s all that matters to him.”
Frowning, Lily thought back to the times that she had seen Scorpius’ father at Platform 9 ¾. She remembered him as an unsmiling, balding man whose son took extraordinarily after him, but he was at least courteous to her own dad when their paths crossed.
Scorpius seemed to read her thoughts. “He puts on an act of toleration, but that’s all it is. He’s exactly like his father,” he announced scornfully. Lily wasn’t sure if that was the truth or years of dislike talking, and so said nothing on the matter. “Now, let’s see if they put up the wards against me.”
He seemed surprised when he was able to pass through the gate. “You can come through, too,” he said, and Lily too felt nothing as she crossed the threshold of the Malfoy residence. She thought to herself that perhaps Draco Malfoy was not as bad as Scorpius remembered him to be.
Scorpius rapped sharply on the door, ignoring the huge brass snake head that acted as a knocker. Almost instantly, a small house elf appeared, peering up at the two of them. She gasped at who she saw.
“Master – Master Malfoy!”
Scorpius couldn’t help but smile fondly at the small creature, Lily noticed. “Hello, Bonnie.” He crouched down to her trembling form so that they were eye-to-eye. “Can you do me a favour and tell Mama and Father that two Ministry officials from the Investigations department are here to talk about Malfoy Manor?”
“But – yes of course, Master Malfoy,” Bonnie the house elf squeaked in return. She then disappeared up a sweeping staircase and was gone. Lily and Scorpius waited in silence, their breaths puffing up in front of them until an almighty crash startled them both.
“Bloody Ministry officials!” a voice shouted from the stairs, getting louder as the person descended. “I’m not going to tell you anything about that bloody place!” Scorpius drew himself a little taller at the sight of Draco Malfoy coming downstairs, Astoria Malfoy hot on his heels.
They both stopped dead at the sight of their son, mouths gaping unceremoniously. Astoria seemed to recover her senses first.
She opened her arms and ran towards him, but Scorpius coldly brushed her off when she touched him. Her crestfallen face touched Lily’s heart as she drew back, crossing her arms against her chest tightly and tears gathering in her eyes.
“I’m here on official Ministry business,” said Scorpius with a voice that could cut through glass. Lily fought the urge to instinctively shrink back; Scorpius was kind of scary at times. “Malfoy Manor is under official investigation.”
“I knew you’d turn up sooner or later,” Draco said, ignoring Scorpius’ statement. “I knew you’d come back, begging for forgiveness.”
Scorpius visibly tensed and Lily could sense an argument brewing already. She decided to quickly step in. “Hi! I’m Lily Potter, I’m partnered with Scorpius on this investigation.” She thrust her hand out to Astoria, who was barely paying attention as she took it. Draco, however, took note.
“Potter? You’re part of that brood? I thought you’d start popping up eventually,” he sneered at Lily. She brushed off his stinging comment and fixed on a bright smile which everyone knew was false.
“It’s nice to meet you too, Mr Malfoy,” she replied sarcastically, deciding then that she’d had enough of the childish jibes and tense atmosphere. “Can we come in?”
“Yes, yes of course,” Astoria fawned as Bonnie took their coats at her master’s fingers snapping. “Do come in. Bonnie, fetch us tea and biscuits.”
The house elf vanished as Lily took in the grand surroundings. Amidst the white marble floors and curved ebony staircase were several talking portraits and carefully selected works of art which were clearly worth millions. Astoria led them up the magnificent staircase to an equally gorgeous landing, where a maze of black doors dotted the hallway. Eventually they made it through to a tastefully decorated sitting room, laden with expensive furniture and paintings once more to accompany the huge, wide windows.
“You have a lovely house,” Lily commented as she took it all in. Astoria seemed to notice her for the first time.
“Thank you… Lily, wasn’t it?” she did not wait for an answer as they all sat down. “Scorpius, we’ve been waiting –“
“We’re here to talk about Malfoy Manor and nothing else. It’s hardly my choice to be here,” replied Scorpius curtly, his back rigid in the plush sofa. Astoria’s face fell again and Lily decided that it was best if Scorpius didn’t say much. She gave him a subtle kick as she led the conversation.
“So, Mr and Mrs Malfoy, why did you move out of Malfoy Manor?” Lily began, but Draco ignored her once more.
“I must have forgotten to put the wards up,” he muttered so that everyone could hear. “I wouldn’t have let you in otherwise.” His words spoke of a long and unsettled history, but Lily noticed that there was no real heat behind his voice or eyes.
“Draco,” Astoria reprimanded him sharply. “We knew we’d have to tell him someday. Why he didn’t grow up in Malfoy Manor like he should have.” She gripped her husband’s hand tightly as Lily noticed the premature grey in her hair.
At this point he looked at Lily. “Why should I have to talk to you, anyway? Potter’s offspring can’t be any good at anything useful.”
“Because if you refuse to talk to me, instead I’ll have my father come and interview you himself,” Lily replied coolly. “I’m sure you don’t want the head of the Auror department visiting here, do you? Especially as there’s so much history there.”
He rolled his eyes, and Lily declared a small victory in her head. A flicker of surprised crossed Scorpius’ face.
Draco kept his guard up, but began to speak nonetheless. “We moved out for a number of reasons. The place was too bloody big and there was nobody to fill it with… nobody would visit us after the war.”
Lily made sure to keep a careful eye on their expressions as Draco spoke, to check if either of them were lying. “What Draco means is that there were a lot of bad memories associated with Malfoy Manor. Especially for Draco. A lot… happened there.”
“And by that you’re referring to the scores of people who were murdered,” Scorpius said flippantly. It was Draco’s time to tense up as his jaw line became tight. This was clearly a sticking point between Scorpius and his father.
“Yes,” he finally answered to his son’s scathing remark. “Lord Voldemort killed a lot of people there. Your grandfather agreed to have the Manor as a base for Voldemort and the Death Eaters.”
“Don’t exclude yourself from that group there, Father. You were one too. This whole damn family was one!”
“ENOUGH!” Draco roared, instantly out of his chair and wand out. As quick as a flash Scorpius had his raised too, and the pair looked ready to duel mere moments later.
“Stop!” the two women cried together, and Lily leapt over to drag Scorpius back into his seat. “This isn’t helping, Scorpius. Just shut the hell up and let me ask the questions!” she hissed. Fury pulsed through her at how easily he was letting his emotions lead him.
“Don’t tell me to shut up when it comes to my father,” he growled in response, but conceded all the same. The uneasy party were in their seats again once more, and Bonnie provided a welcome relief with sweet tea, biscuits and delicate little sandwiches that Lily immediately took advantage of.
“Bonnie has brought the ginger snap biscuits that Master Malfoy is so fond of,” Bonnie said, looking terrified at her impertinence but ploughing on all the same. “Master keeps them stocked in the larder.”
“Out, elf!” Draco cursed angrily, but once again Lily noticed no real anger behind his eyes. There was something else... pain? It was almost as if Draco wanted Scorpius to know that he still stocked his favourite biscuits.
“So,” she said after munching on the last of her cucumber sandwich, “Would you say that there are some unusual happenings at Malfoy Manor? Any disturbances?”
Draco and Astoria looked at each other, unsure of what to say. “Malfoy Manor is haunted,” Draco declared, “By the souls that died there during the Second Wizarding War.”
Scorpius snorted at this, and Lily kicked him a lot more sharply so that he winced. Draco glared at him, but said nothing.
“It’s true,” Astoria insisted. She was leaning forward and speaking directly to Lily. “There are ghosts there who refuse to show themselves and cause all sorts of things to happen. They’re violent, too, that’s why we moved out.” She turned her gaze to Scorpius, who was imitating a statue. “We left because they tried to hurt you, Scorpius.”
Draco seemed to delight in his only child’s surprise. “Still don’t believe us now, hmm? You were always so keen to know about the ghosts at the Manor when you were a boy.”
“You were playing on the floor, just in the hall as you always did.” Astoria seemed to be reminiscing of what Lily was sure was a happier time, when their son didn’t hate them. “You were playing with some blocks, and the chandelier fell from the ceiling.”
“I saved you just before it fell on you,” Draco added with what Lily would call a hint of pride in his voice. “You would have died otherwise.”
“It was a freak accident!” Scorpius said disbelievingly. “The place is old, and the chandelier was loose, end of story.”
“I watched a house elf undo that exact chandelier as he rescued Potter’s father here from my aunt torturing his best friend,” Draco replied quietly. In the uncomfortable silence that followed Lily began to understand that the topic which was always so hushed up during their family dinners and why Hermione had a weirdly shaped scar that she covered up. The man sitting before her had watched as her Aunt Hermione was ruthlessly tortured by Death Eaters.
It was at this point Lily began to understand why Scorpius hated his father.
“Why is this coming up now, anyway?” Astoria enquired as Draco was lost in unhappy thought. “Has something happened?”
With a jolt Lily realised she had not even said why they were there, and mentally cursed herself. “Yes, sorry. There’s been a disappearance in the last few weeks, and the Ministry needs to know whether Malfoy Manor needs cordoning off or whether its perimeter is still safe. At the moment, it’s just sitting there with relatively little protection for Muggles.”
Draco tutted. “That’s private land. They shouldn’t have been there anyway, there’re enough bloody signs up.”
“He doesn’t mean that!” Astoria cried immediately, giving Lily a terrified glance. “Of course we’re concerned if disappearances are happening. A wizard or witch can defend themselves from whatever’s in there, but a Muggle can’t.”
“That’s our concern,” Lily agreed. Scorpius was still glaring daggers at his father. “We need to work out what’s happened to this missing person and whether they’re still alive.”
“They won’t be,” Draco casually said in response to Lily’s encouraging smile. “Whatever’s in there, murderous spirits or something else, there’s no way a Muggle would hold up to that.” Draco leaned in towards Lily and gave her an imploring look. “We left Malfoy Manor because they nearly killed us and my son. You have to believe it’s haunted.”
“I do,” Lily replied, surprising both herself and Scorpius.
“Lily, I thought you were a rational woman?” he asked incredulously as Draco and Astoria looked on. “Clearly this isn’t true!”
“Everyone in the wizarding world knows that ghosts exist, and a lot of things happened there which would make sense as to why the souls wouldn’t move on,” she explained. “It’s the most logical explanation.”
“The only ghosts that are there are personal ones,” Scorpius snarled, talking to his parents now. “Just because you couldn’t handle facing up to your past, the rest of us suffered.”
Astoria looked between her husband and her son, her eyes rimmed with tears once more. Draco was shaking with rage. He had reached his limit. “I will not stand to be insulted in my own home about THINGS YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND!” he bellowed, knocking over the forgotten tray of sandwiches in his rage. “Both of you, GET OUT!”
They didn’t need telling twice. Lily could hear Astoria’s sobs as she tried to reason with Draco whilst she practically flew down the stairs with Scorpius, but it was no use. “I do NOT deserve this kind of treatment from anyone, let alone my own SON!” his harsh words echoed through the sea of marble as the two Ministry workers raced through the Chelsea mansion and to the front door.
There, they were greeted by Bonnie whose gigantic eyes were also filled with tears. “Visit me, Bonnie,” he said urgently, giving the crying house elf a quick hug. “I live in Twickenham now.”
“M-Master has forbidden it,” she spluttered through her gasps and tears. Scorpius’ face was hard.
“I’ll see you soon, don’t worry.” With a final boyish smile, they left, leaving the chaos of Astoria’s hysterical sobbing and Draco’s uncontrollable rage.
It wasn’t until that they were safely off the street that Lily finally spoke. “Scorpius,” she moaned, “That couldn’t have gone any worse!”
“You’re telling me,” he muttered, still shaking with anger. He was pulling her along by the arm into the busy hubbub of the London streets as icy rain began to hail down. Lily vaguely thought about how frizzy her hair was going to be. “I… I just need to walk. Come on.”
Half an hour later and after traipsing soddenly through Hyde Park, Lily thought it possible to broach the topic of what had happened. “Scorpius, your father is an angry man, I can see that. But he’s been through things that we’ve never had to deal with. He knows he’s hurt you, and he’s trying to make it up to you, but clearly he doesn’t have the faintest idea how to do that,” she said softly. “I can see it.”
At first Lily thought that he was going to ignore her entirely, but eventually he replied. “Well, he’s got a funny way of showing it.” He was staring deeply into the distance, eyes glazed. “Whenever I think it’ll be okay, he just sets me off again.”
“What happened to you two, if you don’t mind me asking?” Lily figured that after what she’d been put through, she deserved an explanation.
“I didn’t want to be like him, and he couldn’t stand it,” was Scorpius’ simple reply. There was clearly more to the story, but she didn’t press him. He snapped out of his reverie and smiled weakly at Lily. “Sorry you had to see all of that.”
“It’s okay,” she said, smiling back. “Let’s head back to the office.”
Congratulations if you made it to the end of this mammoth chapter! This chapter is dedicated to Katie, Val, Sian, Nadia and Dan for making me smile this week :)