(Okay, while I was poking at my epilogue for We Danced, I had this idea. It looked really good in my head, and it promises to be quite a bit longer than my first fic, so let's hope it's as well received. This is post-DH, semi-epilogue compliant, about the same as the last one. Please, please review! Your support is what keeps me going!)
"Mother took all our money, didn't she."
Draco glanced up from the papers strewn across the table in front of him, seeing Scorpius standing in the doorway. He sighed. "Why would you think something like that?" Scorpius moved closer, his socks making barely any noise on the carpeted floor. He sat on the edge of the bed, close to where his father sat at his desk.
"Because we had to sell the Manor and move after you and Mother got divorced." It was extremely difficult to look into gray eyes identical to his own and see the painful truth. His son was intelligent, and it was only natural that he had pieced it together. It hadn't exactly been difficult. He and Astoria had been fighting more and more often after Scorpius was born. It hadn't been much of a stretch to file for divorce. Unfortunately, Astoria took advantage of the stereotype against former Death Eaters and managed to spin what should have been a simple open-and-close divorce trial into a war.
Draco had managed to win custody of Scorpius by the skin of his teeth, partly because he was going to turn eleven in about a year, and then he would be going off to Hogwarts. It had helped that Scorpius had expressed complete disinterest in going with his mother, and insisted on remaining with his father. Astoria hadn't taken it well, and had made sure to squeeze every last Galleon out of the settlement. A generous sum had been put away for Scorpius for when he graduated from Hogwarts at seventeen, but it was impossible to touch it until then, so it did them little good for surviving until that time.
Draco had struggled to make ends meet, but in the end the only viable option had been to sell the Manor. Of course, that had generated more than enough for them to get by for a while, but he was going to have to get a job. As much as the Manor and the majority of its contents had been worth, it would not last forever. And with the Dark Mark on his arm, getting a job was going to be difficult. He had been trying not to worry about it too much in front of Scorpius, though. It was bad enough he'd uprooted the boy from the Manor without troubling him further with their future money predicament.
Not that they were living anywhere particularly run down. It was a nice little place, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a full kitchen and a sitting room. But it was just that: little. Two of them could have fit in a single wing of Malfoy Manor. Scorpius had adjusted well, of course. He rarely complained, and he rarely questioned. He trusted his father without any difficulty, something Draco was trying to deserve, unlike Lucius with his twisted ways of supporting his pureblood beliefs. Draco had been raised on those beliefs, and they had led to the downfall of the Malfoy family. He refused to put Scorpius through the same thing.
Draco leaned forward and gently rubbed his hand over Scorpius' head, mussing his blonde hair slightly. "Your mother was a selfish bint that didn't appreciate us." He smiled, and got a small smile in return. "She might've gotten most of the money, but I got you. I'm taking care of us, you worry about going to Hogwarts and being the best there is, all right?"
Scorpius nodded obediently, standing from the bed. "All right. And then one day we'll buy back the Manor, right? Just for you and me?" Draco laughed, and nodded.
"Right, that's our end goal. One day we'll buy back Malfoy Manor, just for you and me."
(Time skip, since dashes don't seem to be working .)
"Father, look." Draco glanced over, and spotted Harry Potter. Merlin, it had been ages since he'd had any contact with the Gryffindor Golden Boy, of all people. If that wasn't enough, there was a whole crew of children with them, and the Weasley-Granger brood was there, as well. He could see the Weasel looking their way, talking to the red-haired girl beside him that was obviously his daughter.
"At?" he asked teasingly, and Scorpius glanced up at him, brow quirked, as if questioning his father's intelligence at such a question. It was so much like looking into a mirror of his own childhood that it nearly hurt. Draco looked up again, and caught Potter's eyes watching him closely. He stared back at the man that had once been his enemy, and nodded to him, just slightly. He received a nod in return, and then they both turned back to their respective families. Despite the fact that prejudice still ran hot against Death Eaters, the war was long over, and Draco wasn't interested in stirring up old battles.
Before Scorpius could answer in what would have obviously been a sarcastic tone, Astoria stepped closer and interrupted. "Are we done here?" she hissed quietly into Draco's ear. "I promised to put in an appearance today, but I have other obligations, unlike you." Draco sent her a scathing look.
"I only asked you to be here for Scorpius. I could care less if I never saw you again. Off with you, if you're in such a hurry. It would make my day that much more pleasant." Astoria huffed, turned, and exited the Platform, which helped a great deal of tension to ease from Draco's shoulders. He glanced back down at Scorpius, and squeezed his shoulder lightly.
"Hey. It's you and me, remember?" Scorpius nodded. "Now, I expect a letter by the end of the week, and no later. I'll see you during the Christmas holidays, all right?" Scorpius smiled briefly and nodded again, glancing toward the train and then back up at his father.
"Goodbye, Father." Draco squeezed his shoulder again and let go. There were no public displays of affection for Malfoys. But his heart ached as he watched Scorpius board the train, knowing it would be months before he saw him again. He turned away, forcing himself to store away the painful emotions. He might regret his father's methods, but he would be eternally grateful that his cold upbringing had taught him how to compartmentalize his emotions, giving himself more control in situations such as this. It might have been what allowed him to be a prejudiced prat in school, but now it would be what got him through these rough times to come.
Draco felt an itch between his shoulder blades, like someone was watching him. He glanced over his shoulder, and met the brilliant green eyes of Harry Potter once again. Their gazes held, and Draco wondered if he imagined the brief emotion flickering behind the emerald gaze before the brunette broke their stare and returned his attention to his own family, and his wife.
Draco turned away, shaking himself slightly. He had more pressing matters to attend to than Harry Potter. He still needed to find a job.
"Hey, mate. Have you heard who's replacing old Arnold yet?" Harry glanced up, judging from the sour tone that it was someone they knew and, worse, someone they didn't like. But then, Ron had a tendency to overreact to things, so perhaps it wasn't really as bad as his best friend was making it out to be.
"Not yet, no. Where'd you find out?" Ron slumped into the chair across the desk from Harry, looking put out.
"I went by to see, of course. Nearly everyone has. And everyone that hasn't has at least heard about it." That explained why Ron had come to see him, at least. He couldn't stand to be out of the loop himself, and couldn't bear the idea of his best mate Harry being out of the loop, either. Not that Harry didn't appreciate it, but he had more on his mind than their newest coworker in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.
Ron was still rambling on, "… can't believe they actually gave him the job, the slimy git. It's completely mental." Harry smiled. Some things never changed, at least.
"Ron. Ron," he said again when he was ignored the first time. "I get it, you hate the guy. Who is it?" Ron huffed, obviously annoyed at having been interrupted mid-rant.
"They've gone and hired the ferret, mate. They hired Draco Malfoy." Harry rolled his eyes.
"Ron, it's been like twenty years. He hasn't done any Dark Magic since the war ended. He's got a son Rose's and Albus' age. Maybe you should give him the benefit of the doubt." Ron looked at him as if he had gone off the deep end for sure.
"Benefit of the doubt? Harry, this is Malfoy! The prat we went to school with? The Death Eater? Remember any of that? He's evil, mate! And now he's working here with us!" Harry sighed and rubbed his forehead.
"Ron, until he does anything wrong, I'm not going to worry about him. I've got bigger problems right now, and so do you. Go focus on some work and forget he's even there. We'll probably never even see him." The idea improved Ron's mood enough that he left to get back to his own office, but Harry was sure he'd get sidetracked along the way. He didn't really mind, though. Just as long as the work got done eventually.
All the rest of the day, Harry heard of nothing else but Draco Malfoy, working right there in their Ministry. As if they had invited Voldemort himself into the Department of Mysteries or something. It really couldn't be as big a deal as everyone made it out to be, could it? Resigned, Harry figured it couldn't hurt to just swing by the blonde's new office before he left work for the day. Ever since the last fight with Ginny last week, now that it was just them and Lily at home, he'd been looking for excuses to work late, anyway. Call it avoidance if you will, but he just wasn't in the mood to argue right now.
Harry peeked into the small office, having wandered all the way around to the Office for the Detection and Confiscation of Counterfeit Defensive Spells and Protective Objects. He remembered being thankful when he'd first arrived that he'd never been stuck in an office like this, cramped as it was. Now, as Head Auror, his office was easily three times the size of the one Malfoy was obviously stuck with. The blonde was seated at his desk, staring at a small, framed photograph that he had apparently brought with him to keep on his desk.
His gray eyes were dark and serious, his wand spinning thoughtfully in his hands. His gaze flew to the door as it creaked open further, and Harry stepped into view. He watched, fascinated, as the emotion bled from the dark gray eyes and left them blank and much lighter in color. "Potter," he said tonelessly. "Come to stare at the freak like everyone else?" Harry's slightly amused expression became confused, and then insulted.
"What? No. I don't think you're a freak, Malfoy. You always used to be a prat, but not a freak." Malfoy's laugh was bitter, as was the smirk that followed.
"You're the only one, then." He whipped the sleeve of his black robes up, exposing his pale forearm and the horrific black tattoo that marred his skin. "I suppose I'm lucky there wasn't much work for me on my first day, I never would have finished with the constant… visitors." He hid his arm, turning his face away. Harry moved further into the small room, almost forgetting that this was Malfoy, Draco Malfoy the ferret and prat and bane of his existence for the duration of his stay at Hogwarts. "I'm going to have to put wards on my office door if it continues. Merlin, I don't know what I was thinking by coming here," he muttered.
"It's probably just because you're new. Anyone would have gotten the same treatment," offered Harry lamely. Gray eyes returned to his face, one brow arched.
"I doubt just anyone would have been hissed at by his new coworkers, or threatened for daring to even step foot here. No, that's especially for me, Potter." Harry watched as his old nemesis glanced to the photo on his desk. From this angle, Harry could now see the picture and he realized it was Malfoy's son, Scorpius. He was sitting on a broom, hovering not far off the ground, grinning proudly at the camera before he zoomed off frame and then returned, his blonde hair mussed by the wind and his expression one of pure joy. "I'll be fine, Potter. No need to rescue me from anyone. As you said, they'll eventually get bored."
Harry bristled slightly. "Who said I was coming to rescue you?" he snapped. "I was just as curious as anyone else." Malfoy smirked, and Harry was annoyed by the sight. Merlin, he was just the same. Same pointed face, same blonde hair, and same self-satisfied air. Here he'd thought the man might have changed or at least grown up since school, but it appeared not.
"You've got a hero complex, Potter. Why else would you become an Auror except to save people all the time?" Harry scowled.
"You're still the same prejudiced prat, Malfoy. Maybe people wouldn't hiss at you if you didn't deserve it." The faint amusement disappeared from the blonde's gray eyes, and Harry cursed himself mentally. He'd come over here to prove a point to Ron, and it was getting all screwed up. The blonde had obviously been kidding; he had no idea why he had taken the innocent and almost complimentary remark, so poorly.
"Well, don't stay any longer, for Merlin's sake," he snarled. "I wouldn't want to contaminate you." The blonde turned back to his desk and pretended that Harry was no longer there. Harry tried several times to get the blonde's attention, but eventually had no choice but to leave, kicking himself for reacting so badly. Malfoy hadn't even said anything all that terrible. Just because Harry didn't like being referred to as a hero didn't make the blonde deserve the horrible treatment he'd described. First thing tomorrow, he would write the man an apology and send it as a memo over to Malfoy's office. The last thing the Ministry needed was warfare between him and Malfoy in their department.
Albus looked around the emptying courtyard and sighed. A bunch of first years had agreed to meet up to work on some homework in the courtyard, since some sixth years had already staked out the Common Room to do the same. Unlike the rest of his new Gryffindor friends, though, he was completely hopeless at Potions and he was the only person left that wasn't done. Albus rubbed at his forehead and scowled with frustration at his book and parchment.
"Having some trouble?" Albus glanced up, his sunlight temporarily blocked by the new arrival.
"Yeah. I'm rubbish at Potions and Professor Slughorn wants this turned in by tomorrow." The other boy sat, and with the sun no longer blinding him he realized who it was. "You're Scorpius Malfoy, right?" The blonde glanced at him, one brow arched.
"Yes. You're Albus Potter. I saw you at Platform 9 ¾." Scorpius leaned a little closer, checking what page Albus' textbook was turned to. "I can help you with this." He leaned down and searched through his own bag quickly, pulling out his own copy of the completed assignment. "I think we're actually in the same class."
Albus waited patiently for the boy to sit back up, frowning slightly as he remembered his Uncle Ron's reaction to seeing the Malfoys at the train. He couldn't see what the big deal could have been. Scorpius seemed like a nice guy, helping him like this. "Thanks a lot," he said. "I'd probably never have finished this on my own."
Scorpius glanced at him, tucking his bag back down at his feet, both parchments in hand. "It's no trouble. Potions has always come naturally to me." He began to scan what little work Albus had already done, his blonde hair falling into his eyes after a moment. He brushed it back and glanced up, amusement quirking the ends of his lips. "You weren't exaggerating," he said simply, and Albus sighed.
"I told you." He paused, looking down at his book and then back up at the Slytherin boy. "Do you mind if I ask you a question?" He could see the blonde tense, immediately on his guard.
"Only if I can return the favor," he finally answered warily. Albus nodded, and Scorpius relaxed slightly. "Well, then. Ask away."
Albus hesitated, and then blurted, "Is it true your father was a Death Eater?" Scorpius' eyes went blank, his entire body stiffening as if he were made of marble, perched on the stone seat beside the Gryffindor boy. "I'm sorry," he said immediately, horrified to have insulted his new almost-friend so quickly after meeting him. "You don't have to answer that. I was just curious. My dad and my uncle talk about your father sometimes and I was wondering if any of what they said was true. I figured you would know better than them."
Scorpius remained frozen, staring at him, and Albus feared something was actually wrong with the blonde until he finally sighed and relaxed. "It's fine. I don't like people talking badly about my father." He glanced away, across the empty courtyard. Albus wondered if the boy would actually answer, and was startled when he did so. "It's true he got the Dark Mark, but he hates it. My grandfather convinced him to do all those awful things people talk about, and then Voldemort scared him into doing the rest. It came down to two choices: obey or die." Gray eyes locked onto Albus' face. "My father did what he had to in order to survive. I'm not ashamed of him, even though he was on the wrong side during the war." This was said fiercely, as if daring the brunette to argue with him.
Albus nodded quickly. "I understand. I don't care about all that. You seem like a really nice guy." He held out his hand, wanting to repair whatever damage his careless question might have caused. Scorpius had offered to help him selflessly. Surely he couldn't be the prat his Uncle Ron thought him to be? "Friends?" Scorpius eyed his hand, and then reached out and shook it. Those gray eyes darkened slightly with emotion, and Albus felt relieved. He didn't like to see them so icy and emotionless as they had been before.
"Friends, then." He dropped Albus' hand and then chuckled softly. "Sorry," he said when Albus looked at him oddly. "It's just that my father will probably have a stroke when I tell him who my new best friend is." Albus grinned.
"Same here. And that goes double for my Uncle Ron." Both boys lapsed into silence for a moment, considering their awkward situation. "So, what's your question? About my father, I mean," he clarified when Scorpius arched a brow at him.
"I –" The blonde cut himself off, glancing up and to the right quickly to see that their privacy was being interrupted by a herd of Hufflepuffs. "I'll ask you later." He stood, shifting his bag onto his shoulder. "I'll meet you right outside the Great Hall before breakfast tomorrow and you can give that back to me," he said, gesturing to his copy of the Potions homework. Albus nodded, shoving his things into his bag, as well.
"Hey," he said, before the Slytherin could disappear. The blonde turned, waiting expectantly. "Err, see you tomorrow," he said lamely, realizing he had stalled the boy's exit with nothing specific to say. He just didn't want to let the blonde go just yet. He had been enjoying himself, oddly enough. Scorpius smiled a little, and Albus watched as the brief show of happiness transformed the other boy's face.
"Tomorrow, then," he said with a nod, and then vanished into one of the corridors branching off from the courtyard. Albus stood there for a moment, staring after him with a silly grin on his face. He now had a best friend. And it was a Slytherin, the son of his father's Hogwarts nemesis. James was going to die of shame. Thrilled by the idea of harassing his annoying older brother, Albus raced off toward the Gryffindor Tower, grinning all the way.
I hope your efforts at finding a job have been successful. Don't allow yourself to become overly stressed about it if you've yet to find a position somewhere. We'll figure something out. After all, Malfoys are resourceful, as you always say.
As for myself, I'm doing well here at Hogwarts. I was sorted into Slytherin, obviously. Thanks to you, I'm ahead of the rest of my class in Potions and in Charms. The homework in these classes is easy compared to what you have already covered with me, and it gives me more free time to focus on more difficult classes or explore the school.
During my exploring, I found someone that doesn't carry a stereotype against the Malfoy name, and we're becoming fast friends. He's absolutely rubbish at Potions, but I'm helping him in class and he's gradually learning under my tutoring. You'll never believe who it is. I'm still rather shocked myself. His name is Albus Severus Potter.
I hope to hear back from you soon.
Being at Hogwarts is great! I got into Gryffindor, just like I hoped I would. I didn't even have to tell the Sorting Hat to put me there; it did it on its own, so I guess that means that's where I really belong. James was relieved. I think he'd have disowned me if I ended up anywhere else. Rose got into Ravenclaw, which isn't that surprising. She's as smart as Aunt Hermione.
I'm as rubbish at Potions as you are, but I'm not half bad at Transfiguration, I think. We haven't really done much yet, but it can't be too hard to apply what we're learning now, can it? I guess I'll just have to find out. Anyway, I got my new friend to help me with Potions. He's a natural at it. I'd probably find some way to completely flunk it if it weren't for him.
Promise you won't be mad, though. And don't let Uncle Ron be mad, either. Scorpius is a really nice guy and he's a first year like me so we have a lot of classes together. A lot of kids don't even give him a chance because of who his dad is, because their parents are a lot like Uncle Ron and they tell their kids not to like the Malfoys. But that's not fair, is it?
Write me back soon, okay?
Harry wasn't sure if Malfoy read his apology memo or not, because he never got a response. For the next four days he waited for some kind of sign from Malfoy, and got nothing. He did hear from Ron that the blatant disgust for the new Ministry employee had died down some, but it seemed like absolutely no one was happy to have the blonde in the office with them.
As much as Harry pitied the friendless blonde, he didn't exactly feel like trying to reach out again. Last time had gotten him slapped back for his troubles, and it just seemed easier to pretend he wasn't even there. Of course, that would require less effort if Ron didn't gripe about it all the time, but Harry had gotten used to ignoring his red-haired friend whenever he got caught up on a subject that no one else was really interested in hearing about.
"You know, if my Dad was still head of that department, he'd never have hired Malfoy," muttered Ron, sitting in the chair across from Harry's desk once again.
"Ron, I could care less that Malfoy's in the Ministry at all, much less that he's on the same floor as we are. I haven't seen him since I went down to his office myself, and he hasn't come to see me. People are making a bigger deal out of this than is necessary, really. The charges against him were dropped when we were younger, and he hasn't done anything sense. Really, it's time to let it go." Ron shot him a look and stalked out of the office to find someone that would agree with him about the fiasco that was Draco Malfoy.
Harry refused to worry about it anymore. He finished his work, gathered his things, and headed down to Level 8 to head home for the day. There was an owl there waiting for him, and he grinned when he recognized it as Albus'. Harry unlocked the door and went inside, bringing the bird along with him. He gave it a treat and relieved it of its message, sending it on its way before he sat down to look it over. Ginny had taken Lily shopping with her and apparently still wasn't home. Though he hated to admit it, he was relieved the girls weren't there. It gave him some time to just relax in his own home without being constantly tensed for some kind of argument with Ginny.
Harry sank into his favorite chair and opened the letter from Albus eagerly, scanning through its contents quickly. He stopped, shook his head, and read it again slowly. And then again. Then he just sat there for a moment and stared down at the simple way his eleven year old son had spelled out the very problem he was dealing with here at the Ministry.
Across town, Draco let himself inside his own home and locked the door behind himself, slumping against the closed portal with a weary sigh. It was terribly lonely, coming home to an empty house every day. But he preferred being alone to being with Astoria, so he couldn't really complain too much. Scorpius' owl was tapping at the window, so he crossed the room to let it in, watching as it landed on the table and watched him haughtily.
Draco took the letter from its talons and gave it a small treat, then watched it fly off and barred the window behind it. He went to his bedroom and sat at his desk, carefully opening the letter and unfolding it to read his son's first report from Hogwarts. He smiled to himself as he read it, until he reached the final paragraph. He stared in surprise at his son's blunt words and read the whole thing again, hardly believing what he was seeing.
Albus Potter, of all people. His son's new friend? Well, it seemed the world might really be coming to an end. A Potter and a Malfoy acting kindly to one another; it was unreal. Draco thought back to Potter's visit to his office at the beginning of the week. He hadn't been trying to insult the man, but he had immediately taken offense, like always, and things had gotten out of hand. He had appreciated the apology, but it just seemed easier to leave things between them exactly as they were. But now…
Well, he was going to have to think things through a little further.
(And I'm going to end this first chapter right there. So tell me, does it sound interesting or am I talking out of my ass here? I'm hoping to have the epilogue to We Danced up soon, and then another chapter of this will be in the works. If you have any ideas for this, or for any different stories, let me know. I'm always open to reader suggestions. ^^ Please review!)