Lily found Scorpius sitting the the tall grass near the garden wall. She folded herself and joined him, tilting her face to the intermittent rays of sun and closed her eyes, listening to the wind rustle the leaves of the trees. 'If you were seven, instead of seventeen, would it bother you as much that your mum's having a baby?'
Scorpius opened his mouth to tell her of course it would, but found himself saying, 'Probably not. I wouldn't have known what was going on with my parents, if everything else was equal. I probably would have been…' He trailed off and toyed with the laces on his trainers. 'I resent it,' he confessed in a bare murmur. 'The baby.'
A line appeared between Lily's brows. 'Why?
Scorpius stretched his feet out in front of him and leaned back against the wall. 'Aurors watch my father. Every day. There's never a time when they aren't there. When he wants to leave the grounds, he has to tell them. And at least one goes with him. If he was in London and ducked into a public toilet to have a piss, the Auror would go in, too.'
Lily pressed her lips together, and said carefully, 'Sounds like you resent the Aurors.'
Scorpius nudged her with his elbow. 'They're just doing their jobs. I'm sure there are a hundred other things they'd rather do than sit the waiting area of St. Mungo's watching me mime my way through every potion I learned my first year while my father and I waited for news of Mother.'
'So how does that explain the resentment?'
Scorpius sighed, and yanked at a stalk of grass and began to shred it into tiny pieces. 'If there was no baby, Mother could leave. They might not divorce, because it would be too difficult to even try, but she could leave and be free of the restrictions.'
Lily leaned against Scorpius and let her head rest against his shoulder. 'And by extension you?'
'You're too bloody clever for your own good,' Scorpius grumbled. 'But I'm of age now. I never have to go back there if I choose not to. And I don't want to.'
'So you're going to be a stranger to your sibling and be just as much a tosser as your father?'
'That's what you're thinking, isn't it?' Lily said mildly, her voice no less accusing for its lack of heat. 'He or she 's just a baby. It didn't ask to be conceived, much less born.' Lily got to her feet and dusted the seat of her jeans. 'You can't be what you accuse your father of being. That's not who I…' She coughed and blushed. 'Anyway. It's nearly time for you to go.'
'Lily…' Scorpius scrambled to his feet and loped after her. 'It's complicated.'
Lily whirled around. 'I understand that you don't care for your father. Fine. It doesn't follow that your mother finds him distasteful, just because you do. You can either keep wishing for something that isn't going to happen or face reality. Because the reality is, your parents are going to have another child. Soon. You can be the bloke that comes round on Christmas that your brother or sister will barely know. Or you can be a proper older brother. That - that - takes bravery. Hesitating to take your mum to hospital doesn't make you a tosser. It makes you conflicted. Resenting an innocent baby does.' She reached for one of his hands. 'You read all those novels. Have you ever wondered why a character is the way they are when you first see them? Made up a history for them to explain why someone's a git?'
'Sometimes,' he replied cautiously, wondering what point Lily was making, if she even had one.
'Try that with your father sometime.' Lily squeezed his hand. 'Write to me while you're in Nice?'
Scorpius pulled her closer, burying his nose in her hair, inhaling the flowery scent. 'I already sent my owl to my grandmother's.' They stood there for several moments, only jumping apart when Ginny cleared her throat.
'It's time to go,' Ginny informed Scorpius. Lily stepped back, and gave him a tiny fluttering wave.
Scorpius sprinted to the Burrow and retrieved his bag. 'Do we have time to pop by St. Mungo's? I'd like to see my mother.'
Ginny checked her watch. 'You'll have to be quick,' she warned.
'Understood.' Scorpius hefted the bag a little higher on his shoulder. 'I'll meet you outside St. Mungo's.' Once in London outside the seemingly abandoned department store Purge and Dowse, Ltd, he followed Ginny through the enchanted window, grateful for her presence as she led him through the maze of staircases and corridors that led to the hidden maternity floor.
Ginny gestured to the swinging double doors. 'I'll just wait here for you. But no more than five minutes, or you'll miss your Portkey.'
Scorpius nodded and pushed through the doors. His mother's room was just a few doors down, her name neatly printed on a card slipped into an ornate holder next to the doorframe. 'Mother?'
'Hello, darling!' Daphne smiled at the welcome intrusion. Her morning had consisted of flipping through a pile of ragged magazines.
'I wanted to apologize for yesterday.'
Daphne frowned. 'For being a monosyllabic teenager, whose world isn't what it was a couple of weeks ago?' She waved it off. 'Entirely understandable.'
Scorpius opened his mouth to say what he had really come to apologize for, then closed it. It wouldn't do to be that honest with his mother. Not now. Perhaps he never would say. 'I wanted to say goodbye. I'll see you in a couple of weeks.' He shuffled forward and back in a dance of uncertainty, then quickly kissed her forehead with an awkward bob.
Daphne reached out and grasped his hand. 'Have a lovely time with your grandmother. Did Mrs. Potter come with you?' Scorpius nodded. 'Could you ask her to come by later? Perhaps tonight or tomorrow?' At his nod, Daphne let go of his hand. 'And ask her if she wouldn't mind bringing something for me to read. I'm out of my mind with boredom.'
Ginny poked her head through the door of Daphne's room. 'Up for visitors?'
'Merlin, yes. I think I've counted every tile on the ceiling a hundred times in three different languages.'
'Scorpius said you wanted to see me?' Ginny reached into her bag and produced a stack of battered novels that she set on the bedside table. 'I thought you'd like these They're awfully long, but they're quite good. I figured you might need something to pass the time. Especially if they keep you in here for the duration.'
'I hope not, but it might be easier if I were,' Daphne sighed, bitterness coloring her voice.
'Harry's working on that,' Ginny remarked, studying her fingernails, picking at a cuticle.
Daphne snorted. 'The way the Wizengamot works, this one might be sitting their N.E.W.T.s before they change anything.' She shifted in the bed. 'I was wondering if I might ask something of you.'
Daphne toyed with the edge of the blanket on the bed. 'When I go into labor, could you come and be with me?' she asked. 'When Scorpius was born, Draco refused to be in the room, although at the time, I did wonder if was really Draco's preference or his father speaking. Anyway, when I was in labor last time, I had my sister, but Astoria stopped speaking to me when Draco declined to help Ian with Geoffery. And my mother's been dead since I was fourteen, and while Narcissa and I are close, I don't quite fancy begging her to fetch ice chips and cold face cloths, while she encourages me to breathe.'
Ginny laughed. 'What are friends for?'
'This goes above and beyond mere friendship,' Daphne retorted.
Ginny patted Daphne's hand. 'I will be here, whether or not Draco is as well. And if you're to be trapped in here for the next several weeks, I'll come round enough that you'll be sick of the sight of me by the time you give birth.'
'And if they send me home in a day or two?'
'I'll still come round.'
'Is that a promise or a threat?'
'Both? I'll come bearing trashy magazines, nail varnish, and edible food. The last time Harry was in hospital, the food nearly did as much damage as the curse that put him here.' Ginny shuddered. 'Now, let's discuss names…'
Daphne made a face. 'I'm trying to be open-minded, but Draco's family tradition lean toward Greek or Latin names, which isn't terrible in of itself, but…' She leaned closer to Ginny. 'I saw a list of possible names he'd collected.'
'You can say that again.' Daphne's chin lifted. 'My only recourse is to come up with my own list of Malfoy-appropirate names that won't scare small children.'
Narcissa waved her wand at the table, and the dishes stacked themselves on a tray. She drummed her fingers noiselessly on the table, then flicked her wand again. Two glasses and a bottle landed at her elbow. She poured a wine into each glass and pushed one to Scorpius. 'Drink that.'
Scorpius lifted the glass to his nose. 'What is it?'
'A lovely German riesling.' Narcissa sipped her glass. 'After you drink that, you and I are going to have a chat.'
Narcissa didn't reply. She merely continued to tranquilly sip her wine.
Scorpius took a cautious sip. The wine was a bit sweet, and he took a larger sip. He'd rarely had anything harder than butterbeer, and it made his head swim slightly.
Narcissa refilled his glass. 'Scorpius, you've been my only grandchild for years. You're everything I could have wanted in a grandson. You're intelligent, determined, and kind, which is a miracle, considering your ancestry. But my dear, it's time you bloody grew up.'
'I'm talking about your attitude for the last couple years. Especially after you discovered your parents reconciled.' Narcissa ran her fingertip over the rim of her glass. 'When Draco was younger than you, he was forced to shoulder burdens that were placed upon him for things his father failed to do. It damaged him in ways I can only imagine. It wasn't until your grandfather died…' Narcissa's lips thinned. 'Lucius never allowed Draco to heal. Every letter, every conversation, every decision Draco made that Lucius shredded to pieces, served to rip open half-healed scars. And you, my love, have been collateral damage.'
Scorpius took a gulp of his wine. 'And that's supposed to make me feel better?'
Narcissa sighed. 'Nobody is born evil. Your father certainly was not. He was brought up to believe in certain things, as was I. Once we discovered that the… thing Lucius pledged himself to held us with as little regard as one would for the muck one scrapes off their shoes, it became a game, at least with Draco and myself to compartmentalize ourselves. Believing in those things didn't protect us in the end.
'I know your father has hurt you, and you may never forgive him. That is certainly your prerogative. You can hold him at arm's length for the rest of your life, even after you marry and have children of your own. As I said, it's rare that someone is born so warped and twisted they cannot find some sort of redemption for themselves. I only ask that you try to see your father for who is is now.'
'He hates me,' Scorpius countered sullenly.
'He does not. Draco grew up in an environment where he didn't receive any sort of affection from Lucius unless he performed Lucius' standard. He never wanted for anything materially, but he never knew what unconditional love from his father felt like. He didn't know how to raise a child with the sort of unbridled love that your mother was able to give you.'
'I hate him,' Scorpius muttered.
'And I continue to hope that one day you shall change your mind.'
Scorpius took another sip of his wine. 'What about you?'
'What about me?'
'I've read about the war. I've read the trial transcripts. Yours, his, and Grandfather's.' Scorpius blinked rapidly and hastily slurped some wine. 'He had a chance to save you and him. And he didn't do it. Did you know that?' Scorpius demanded.
Narcissa blinked. 'I do.'
'So tell me, Grandmother, have you forgiven him?'
Narcissa exhaled slowly. 'I've been trying.'
'And?' Scorpius challenged.
Narcissa lifted her glass to her lips. 'I've been trying.'
The owl rapping sharply on Lily's bedroom window woke her. She pushed the window open, and fumbled for an Owl Treat from the small jar on her desk. Scorpius' new owl sidled in the open window and held out her leg. 'Thank you, Cassiopeia, Lily whispered, untying the envelope with one hand, holding the Owl Treat out on the palm of her other hand. Cassiopeia delicately picked it up with her beak, and shoved her hand under Lily's hand, so that Lily had to give her a good scratch. Lily yawned and peered at the envelope. 'Are you supposed to wait for a reply?' Cassiopeia hooted softly and turned for the window. 'Very well.' Lily stroked the owl's soft feathers for a moment, then grabbed the glass of water next to her bed. Cassiopeia dipped her beak into the liquid, then hooted at Lily again before winging out of the window.
Lily peered at the envelope, squinting until the writing swam into focus. It wasn't Scorpius' usual simplified Spencerian script, but an angular scrawl she'd never seen before. She climbed back into bed, and switched on the small lamp next to it, then slid her glasses over her nose.
She opened the envelope, eyes widening at the blots liberally dotting the parchment. Lily read the letter, slowly, stopping now and then to frown over a barely legible word. She read it once more, then laid it aside, a line appearing between her brows. Lily turned off the lamp, pulled off her glasses, and slid down. She turned on her side, and stared at the letter, until she went back to sleep.
After breakfast the next morning, Lily rapped softly on the doorframe of the office. 'Dad?'
'Got a mo?'
Harry dropped his quill and nudged his glasses up his nose. 'For you? Always.' He waved Lily to sit in the battered armchair tucked in a corner.
Lily curled into the squishy cushions. 'How well do you know Scorpius' dad?'
Harry leaned back in his chair and sighed. 'Somewhat. But not well. Why?'
Lily twirled a lock of hair around her finger. 'I don't think he does, either.'
Hugo ran a hand down Logan's chest. 'I need to tell you something.' The bedding rustled as Logan sat up. 'Should I get dressed?' he teased.
'If you want.' Hugo stretched, arching his back, completely unconcerned about his own partial nudity. Something in his tone stilled the nascent laughter in Logan's throat. He slid from the bed, and located his jeans, as well as Hugo's. Logan yanked his jeans on, then tossed Hugo's to the bed. 'Put them on. If it's something serious, I can't be distracted by you.'
Hugo did as Logan asked, and thinking of the worst outcome, pulled t-shirt as well. He sat in the edge of the bed, rolling the hem of his shirt between his thumb and forefinger. Hugo took a deep breath and blurted, 'I'm bisexual…'
Logan blinked. 'Is that it?'
'Oh. All right.'
Hugo's shoulders slumped with relief. 'I thought you'd be upset.'
Logan crossed the room. 'Uncle Kenneth always sends me articles from this gay Muggle advice column. It's been educational, to say the least.' He plopped on the bed next to Hugo. 'What does this mean for the two of us?'
'Erm…' Hugo continued to fiddle with the hem of his shirt. 'Nothing, I guess. I really like you, and I like being with you. I don't feel the need to act on my attraction to girls. I just need you to know it's there.' He stole a glance at Logan. 'I'll understand if you want me to leave.' Logan slid an arm around Hugo's waist. 'Stay,' Logan murmured. Logan leaned slightly until his head rested against Hugo's. 'Do you mind if I ask you a question?' Hugo shook his head. 'Have you ever wanted to be with a girl, like you are with me?'
'Blimey…' Hugo sighed. 'Not really. Not other boys, either. It's not that I haven't found other people attractive or fantasized about them, but I've never wanted to bring them round for dinner with my family. I've never really liked anyone enough,' he explained. Logan wound his fingers through Hugo's and squeezed his hand encouragingly. 'I've had crushes on boys and girls. More boys than girls, but still… It's always been about the person, not the gender…'. He let out a breath with a shudder. 'So what does your advice person say about this kind of situation?'
Logan shrugged. 'He says teenagers can't really know they're bi. That it's a convenient cover to hide from homophobia.' Hugo glowered. 'Arse,' he mumbled. Logan pressed a kiss to the back of Hugo's neck. 'Sod him,' Logan declared. 'He doesn't know you.'
Hugo lifted the hem of his shirt to wipe the sweat beading his face. 'I can't wait for one of us to be seventeen,' he sighed. 'So we can charm the room and cool it down.'
'Get you kit off then, you daft git.' Hugo stood and shucked his jeans, then yanked his t-shirt over his head. He looked down at Logan. 'What else does he say?'
Logan stretched out on the bed and kicked off his jeans. He beckoned to Hugo, who quickly joined him, reveling in the sensation of their bare skins touching. 'Mostly he says to be honest about it and set boundaries.'
Hugo delicately licked the spot under Logan's jaw that made his toes curl. 'All right,' Hugo murmured. 'So… boundaries?'
'How do you feel about dating each other?' Logan asked.
Hugo pulled back slightly. 'We're in our pants, in your bed, with no adults related to either of us any nearer than Charing Cross Road. I'm not sure we can get any clearer than that.'
Logan slid a hand over the curve of Hugo's bottom. 'You could just be using me for wanking,' he mused. 'I am rather good at it,' he added smugly. Hugo snorted. 'I don't need you for that,' Hugo retorted. 'I have two perfectly good hands.' Hugo traced the oblong birthmark on Logan's shoulder, and his face grew thoughtful. 'I like hanging out with you. I don't even mind doing my homework when I get to do it with you.'
Logan smirked. 'That's quite the ringing endorsement.' He lightly smacked Hugo's bottom. 'Budge up a bit. I don't know how someone who's practically a stick insect takes up so much bloody room on a bed.' Hugo obligingly scooted over a few inches. 'All right, then. So we're… What would you call it? Going steady sounds like something my gran would say.'
Hugo's head fell back onto the pillow. 'Boyfriend…?' Hugo glanced at Logan from the corner of his eye and repeated it in a bare murmur. 'Boyfriend…' he said slowly. Logan's mouth curved into a smile. 'Boyfriend it is,' Logan replied. He pulled Hugo closer, nuzzling the skin just under Hugo's ear. 'And be honest with me.'
Hugo's head tilted to the side. 'I don't think you could have a decent relationship without honesty.' He grinned bashfully. It's what my granddad would say. He gives us all the same lecture when we we're in our first serious relationship. Vic said he cornered both her and Teddy when they were caught snogging her fourth year. Went on about good, solid relationships, and how they're built on honesty and trust, and not because you're gagging to shag each other.'
Logan's eyes widened. 'Blimey. That was your granddad?' he choked. Hugo grinned. 'Granddad has this curious habit of talking in misty, romantic terms, then ending with something like, "Think with your heads, boys, not your willies!"' He began to chuckle, laughing so hard, he could barely breathe. 'At least that's what my dad says Granddad told him and Uncle Harry when he sat them down for The Talk.' Hugo sighed, as his laughs began to ebb. He turned his wrist to glance at his watch, then sat bolt upright. 'Merlin's y-fronts, is that the time?' Hugo shot off the bed and yanked his jeans on.
Logan glanced at the alarm clock next to his bed. 'You're just barely going to beat your parents home,' he observed. He sat up and watched Hugo jerk his t-shirt over his head, then hop on one foot, then the other as he pulled on his socks and trainers. Hugo gave Logan a hard fast kiss. 'I'll see you on Saturday.' Hugo ran into the sitting room and threw a handful of Floo powder into the fireplace. He stumbled onto the hearth rug with minutes to spare before either Ron or Hermione were due home.
Rose set her book down, studying Hugo. 'You've got something on your neck.' She uncurled herself from the sofa and pushed Hugo's head to the side, tutted disapprovingly, and pointed her wand at him.
Hugo wrenched away and slapped Rose's hand away. 'Summer hols,' he reminded her.
'I'm of age, you twit,' Rose shot back. 'Remember? Have been since February. Or do you want Mum and Dad to ask lots of questions about what you get up to when you go to Logan's?' Just then, Ron's hand in their clock began to move from "Work" to "Home." Hugo threw a glance at it, then nodded once in assent. Rose briskly said, 'Episkey.' She tucked her wand into the knot of hair high on the back of her head. 'You owe me one.'