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Chapter 4 : Mayhem Manor
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Today, Rose Weasley was meeting Scorpius’s parents at Malfoy Manor, to be introduced to them as his girlfriend of the past year. Their house was incredible, and it was only the pressure of Scorpius’s hand in her sweaty palm which stopped her from turning around and running away. There was nothing in the Gryffindor house qualities which said you had to stick around to meet the parents of your Slytherin boyfriend.
“Come on, Rose,” Scorpius said, smiling reassuringly as he tugged her up the front steps to the house and opened the door for the two of them. Rose’s heart seemed to pick up pace as though she was running a race, and her palms were so sweaty that she pulled her hand from the blond man’s beside her to wipe them on the skirt she was wearing. The skirt had been her mother’s idea; never would Rose Weasley willingly choose to wear one when a comfortable pair of jeans were an option.
“Welcome, welcome,” Mrs Malfoy greeted them, beaming. “It’s so lovely to finally meet you, Rose. We’ve heard so much about you.”
Taking in Mrs Malfoy’s dark hair and kind brown eyes, Rose thought that perhaps today wouldn’t be quite as bad as she thought. Scorpius’s mother seemed just as determined to make her feel comfortable as her own mother had been when she’d introduced Scorpius to her parents for the first time.
“It’s lovely to meet you, too, Mrs Malfoy,” replied Rose, her voice trembling. Scorpius gave her a reassuring squeeze round the waist.
“Call me Astoria, dear,” the woman insisted, still smiling. “And this is my husband, Draco.”
Draco Malfoy was a man whose name, for years, had filled Rose with a sort of dread. Though her parents – her mother especially – had taught her to move on from the past she hadn’t lived through, ever since she had begun to date Scorpius, Rose had known that at some point, she’d have to face Draco Malfoy.
Holding her hand out to each of them in turn to shake, Rose sat down in the seat she was offered and tried to stop herself from fidgeting. She was quiet, and the conversation, led largely by Scorpius and Astoria, washed over her.
“Dinner should be ready soon,” Draco commented. “Sorry it’s taking so long. I’ll just go to the kitchen to find out what’s going on.” He got up, and Rose remembered to pay attention and answer Astoria’s kind questions about her family and her job at the new magical communications firm, which was anything but exciting.
Suddenly, there was a deafening crash of metal and a pair of screams, and footsteps began to race through the house towards them.
“The curse!” squeaked a high-pitched voice, coming from a tiny, trembling house elf. “Masters and Misses, the curse is struck here. You is must be going, Masters and Misses!”
“You can go, Ipsey,” said Astoria, her eyes full of concern for the small creature. There was a crack as Ipsey disapparated from the house, and Rose turned to face Scorpius with a confused expression on her face. If she’d been nervous before, that was nothing compared to how she felt now, meeting her boyfriend’s parents for the first time and the house being struck with a curse which caused humans and house elves fear.
“What is it, Mum?” Scorpius asked urgently. “What’s happening?”
“It’s the curse,” Astoria replied. “There’s no time to explain. We have to find your father and get out of here.”
It was too late. With a bugle-like cry, Draco Malfoy pirouetted into the room, a frilly pink pinafore tied around his waist, balancing two plates of biscuits in his hands. His pale cheeks were burning with embarrassment and Rose bit the inside of her cheeks to stop herself from laughing, but it was too difficult. Luckily, just as the giggle exploded from her, Draco began to boom out a power ballad, dedicated to the fried chicken that they were supposed to be eating for dinner.
“Draco, dear…” Astoria said, but she didn’t have time to finish the sentence before a shudder ran through her body and she lifted up a leg and started to hop around the room, juggling biscuits that she’d grabbed from the plates in Draco’s hands.
Mr Malfoy’s singing – warbling, Rose would have called it, if she hadn’t been too intimidated by her boyfriend’s father, even in this bizarre state – somehow seemed to increase in volume, and she turned to look at Scorpius, only to feel him pull the reassuring hand from her waist and stomp into the middle of the room.
And then Scorpius cried, “I have no time for fried chicken!”
Rose’s hands flew up to cover her mouth. Her boyfriend was behaving like a moody child, and as she stood watching, he dropped to the floor, wailing and drumming his fists on the carpet in a tantrum.
“I don’t want fried chicken again!” he screamed. “We always have fried chicken when guests come to visit!”
“Scorpius,” Rose whispered, torn between laughing and crying as she witnessed the chaos that was ensuing in Malfoy Manor. This certainly hadn’t been what she expected when Scorpius asked her to meet his parents for the first time. She took a few tentative steps towards him, unsure whether he’d recognise her in his tantrum. “What’s going o –“
That was when Rose spotted the unicycle that was propped against the settee, and looked down happily to see that she was wearing a bright red clown costume, complete with a ruffled collar. She clapped her hands and raced over to the unicycle, getting onto it. She’d never been very good at flying on a broom, but that didn’t matter as she started to pedal round the room at lightning pace, narrowly missing the hopping Astoria.
Rose managed to do a wheelie with the unicycle (an extremely impressive and complicated feat, since there was only one wheel) and then, as frustrated as Scorpius apparently was with the constant mention of fried chicken in Draco’s repetitive ballad, cycled towards her boyfriend’s father and took the plates of biscuits from his hands, putting one down on the table and then proceeding to pick individual biscuits up and mush them slowly into Draco’s face, since there were no custard pies available.
And then a unicorn burst into the drawing room and ate everyone’s biscuits.
“Hey!” Rose shouted. “I was using them!”
She cycled backwards, away from Draco, who was pirouetting again, his extended leg almost knocking her to the floor. Turning round, she realised that Scorpius had ceased his tantrum and was now alternating between backwards rolls and scuttling around on his hands and feet sideways, like a crab.
Then Rose found the flower on her lapel, and, with an evil grin, grabbed hold of it and cycled towards Astoria, who was hopping slowly away from Scorpius.
“Astoria,” said Rose. “I brought you a flower!”
“How kind!” her boyfriend’s mother managed to pant in response, trying to hop on one spot as Rose spoke to her. As she leaned in towards the flower that the redhead was proffering, Rose tightened her grip on it and the flower squirted a small fountain of water into Astoria’s face.
“Oops!” Rose exclaimed, cycling away again and giggling loudly like a girl possessed (which, in a way, she was). But before she could get more than two paces away from Mrs Malfoy, she fell backwards over Scorpius, who had backwards-rolled into her unicycle. As she fell, spectacularly, like a tree that had been cut down, Astoria managed to hop into Draco and the four of them suddenly landed in a heap of tangled limbs, the curse having worn off.
“Well,” said Astoria weakly, after a long and awkward silence. “I think that’s probably the most eventful first meeting that’s ever taken place between parents and their son’s girlfriend.”
From the Chocolate Frog Card propped up on the sideboard, Albus Dumbledore watched the chaos merrily, his blue eyes twinkling. He’d never been able to resist watching the expressions on people’s faces as the effects of his ‘curse’ suddenly wore off, and they were left feeling foolish and embarrassed. The wizard – in life, of course, and now in portrait form – had always been thoroughly convinced that a bit of silliness always did people the world of good. Things were far too serious nowadays, and a little enchantment often helped to liven up a situation when it was most needed.
Still chuckling, he returned to his portrait that hung in the Headmaster’s office at Hogwarts. It was the place that he always considered his home, and as he arrived back in the warm glow of the room, a clamour of voices from the other portraits of his fellow headmasters and headmistresses assaulted him.
“Did it happen again, Dumbledore?”
“When is that thing going to wear off?”
“Who were the poor victims this time?”
“Oh,” said Albus calmly, as he settled himself into his armchair and placed his hands beneath his chin in his usual thoughtful pose. “I wouldn’t call them victims, exactly, Armando. They’re always a lot happier to have the memories, afterwards.”
“Yes, Albus,” interjected a sarcastic voice, belonging to Severus Snape. “I’m sure everyone enjoys your little spells. I certainly hold no dearer memory than the time the curse struck at Hogwarts.”
“We both know that’s not true, Severus, but you do remember it, and that’s enough for me. The curse will wear off eventually, but I’m certain that it’s going to strike again and help out a few more people before it does.”
Author's Note: Hi everyone! I know, I know, it's taken me months to finish this short story collection... for some reason I only seem to be able to write ridiculously strange things like this when I'm either really tired or stressed and so this chapter was the product of exams!
To those of you who've been wondering what exactly the prompts for the challenge were, if you take a look at the story and find every sentence or phrase that starts with And then, that should give you an idea. I actually managed to include all twelve in the course of this story! So now it's all finished - did you guess that Dumbledore was the one behind the mysterious curse? I'd love to hear what you think in a review!
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