Chapter Ten: Malfoy
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter
A/N: Poor Scorpius is having a bit of a hard time adjusting to these novel feelings. Luckily for him his father knows all about adjusting…Interesting chapter up ahead. Only a couple of my reviewers have seen this coming – I've tried to be subtle.
I'm standing at the threshold of the train compartment looking in on my son like he's some sort of exotic beast on display in his natural habitat. I'm not going to lie. He looks horrible. There is no safe place on his body to rest my eyes. He's hideous. I wrap my black scarf around my mouth and nose and now I look like a rather dashing, rather English bandit. He's lying on a cot, breathing shallowly; his eyes lidded. There are huge lime-sized buboes, throbbing dangerously on his face and more than likely his underarms and groin which may account for the reason he's in pyjamas lying spread-eagled on the cot.
"Do you have a fever?"
He jumps a bit when he hears my voice and looks at me with grateful eyes and as shameful as it is I'd have given him Spattergroit myself if I'd known that my son would look at me like that again – like he's happy to see me. He nods subtly.
"Are you dizzy? Do you have a headache? Muscle pain? Nausea? Ear aches?" He nods again. "Sore throat? Has the disease spread to your throat so that you can't speak?"
"I can speak."
"Good. You're lucky I was carrying a sample from earlier today. I have the help you need right here." I pull out from my robes a thin vial filled with a bright pink coloured liquid. I step into the room and conjure a leather armchair for me to sit on. It takes up quite a bit of space in the tiny compartment serving as a quarantine station.
"Aren't you going to give it to me?"
"They want me to give some to Albus Potter." I say, not bothering to answer his question as yet. He looks at me quizzically. "Albus Potter claims that he may be infected with Spattergroit as well because he has been in 'contact' with you in the last two days, which as you know, is when the virus is most contagious, before the boils show up suddenly. Strange, because you would think that they'd call Rose Weasley's name in this mess since she's close to Albus as well. Why are they only concerned about you and Albus?"
His eyes open wide and he turns his head away from me to stare at the ceiling. "I'm really glad that the virus hasn't spread to your throat because now it means that you can tell me what's going on."
He doesn't say anything, only continues to stare at the ceiling like it'll hopefully fall on him, killing him instantly and thus, offering a way out of this unavoidable conversation.
"I don't know what he's talking about." He says after a while, still staring up at that bloody ceiling.
"Okay, listen. You never knew your Aunt Bella –"
"Thank Merlin for that." He mutters. I ignore him.
" – but I should let you know that I spent a lot of time with her. She taught me a lot of things. One of the things she taught me was that I should have respect for my family members. If she asked me a question, I knew it was in my best interest to answer her and to answer her right then and there truthfully." (I don't bother to tell him that the one time that I did not answer her truthfully was the most definitive moment in my life – the night I saved Potter, Weasley-that-idiot and Hermione). Still he stares at the roof. Annoyance ripples through me. "Scorpius, look at me. Look at me!"
He turns to me with his eyes wide with shock. He's probably forgotten that I can raise my voice at him. "I've been letting you get away with disrespecting me and being rude to me and ignoring me. This ends today. When I ask you a question, you answer me and you answer me truthfully. I don't want to have to do to you what my mother did to me – tie me down and force Veritaserum down my throat. I don't care if it's illegal. You are my son and you will do as I tell you. Do you understand me?"
He nods dumbly and I feel horrible. I can practically hear Father telling me the same speech eons ago when I was a teenager like Scorpius. That's not the memory of Father that I want to have. This is not the memory of me that I want Scorpius to take away, but I must do what I must.
"What's going on with you and Albus? I thought that you weren't talking to Rose and Albus anymore."
"We made up. At Ms. Luna's wedding." He says sulkily. His tone is bordering on rude.
"Is that why you befriended Lily Potter?"
He turns his head to me again, his eyes wide like saucers.
"What? You think I didn't know that you had no interest in that girl?"
"Don't make it sound like that. She's alright. She's my friend." He says with all the passion of sawdust.
"She's a friend of convenience."
"Like how Mrs. Weasley is your friend of convenience?" He snarls at me.
"Watch it! Know your place, child." His lips tighten at my tone, but I soften a bit. I take a deep breath and tamp down my anger. "I'm not going to lie to you because I want you to be honest with me as well. Initially, I did start speaking to Mrs. Weasley with the intention that she could be useful to me. I know her soft spot. I came to the Boxing Day lunch last year with the intention that maybe I could use her. I was angry with her when I left on Boxing Day, but I wasn't that angry. I left you there on purpose. I knew that she would check out your grandfather to see if it was true that he had truly changed. I knew that she would feel sorry for me because of what was going on with your grandfather, with you, with how your mother died. I knew that she would want to help me. It's what she does."
"You…you…you used me and Mother to gain her sympathy? You manipulated her?"
"I didn't have to do anything to gain her sympathy. I simply showed her my life. She offered to help me, to become friends with me. I just didn't push her away." He's wearing an expression of extreme contempt. It's nothing that I'm not used to. "However, it's not like that now. I genuinely like her. I…I love her."
"I love your mother very much. In fact I know that I can never stop loving her. You're still young and I know what you're thinking. Everything for a teenager is extreme. You have a crush, an infatuation and you find it hard to even think that you might 'love' another person. You are convinced that the world will end if you and this person go your separate ways. The truth is though, that the world doesn't end. It only feels that way. I'm not being callous. My world stopped when your mother died. The world didn't stop. But now I love Hermione a lot. I plan on marrying her. I know it's going to be tough for a lot of individuals involved especially Rose and Hugo and you, but sometimes you can't help the one you fall for. It was…it was very difficult for me to finally come to that understanding and accept it. Do you…do you understand what I mean by that?"
"Do you really?"
"Yes. I do. Rose and Hugo aren't stupid. They've seen it coming. Their parents weren't happy, she told me. They're not stupid though. They noticed a marked difference in Mrs. Weasley when you started to talk to her. They saw it coming. The letters, the kindness, the attention, the friendship. They've seen it coming, they don't like it, but they'll understand I suppose. It's like you said; you can't help the one you fall for."
"Is it because you feel that way about a particular person?" I don't say the name. I don't need to.
Reluctantly and slowly he nods and I feel like someone just kicked me in the chest. I've been in denial for so long that when he finally admits it, it still comes as a shock and I already knew. He's crying now; the tear tracks like a meandering river over the huge buboes on his face. He looks horrid. He always had an ugly cry-face and this Spattergroit is not helping the situation.
"I just...I-I…" He's stuttering and sniffling and trying to regulate his tone, but now more than ever he's just a child. I want to hug him and tell him it's alright, but I can't. I can't touch him right now and the irony is that even at his ugliest, this is the one time that I know for sure he'd let me. "I just hate him so much."
Okay. I was not expecting that.
"Um…I'm sorry, but…what?"
"Do you know what he told me? He told me that dealing with me is like dealing with a terrorist because apparently I just don't give a shit. That's not true! He thinks I don't care about him at all. That's not true. I take so much flak for being friends with him."
"Why? Why? Father…a lot of people suspect that he might be a particular way. And I talk to him. For them it's like walk like a unicorn, talk like a unicorn, you're a unicorn."
Could he have chosen a worse animal in this analogy? How stereotypical. It's not exactly supporting his point…or maybe it is.
"I take flak for him. I hit a fellow Slytherin for him. Do you know how they treated me after that? I was an outcast. They drew pictures on the toilet walls of me with a pink Death Mark prancing around with a broom shoved... For Quidditch practice they sent me out of the locker rooms for fear that I'd try to––I don't even know what they thought. And then he stops talking to me. I had to listen to Lily blather on about whatever the heck she blathers on about just so that I could get a chance to see him, to talk to him and explain why this is so difficult for me. I've begged him, Father. I've literally begged him to understand. I push him away, I pull him back. I push him again. I pull him back. He just doesn't understand. I won't have it as easy as him. He's Harry Potter's son and me? I'm yours."
Apparently the insult was built in and he needed no further exposition that his birthright was inherently bad lucky. I've accepted it. To be born with a Malfoy name now makes you little more than basement-dwelling critters. I've done this to him. This is the legacy I've left him – a good deal of money, but a name that's dirtier than drain water. I suppose he thinks the universe has personally invested her time in trying to make his life a living hell by adding to the mix this situation with Harry Potter's son. The only thing worse than that is…well, contracting Spattergroit.
"I wish…I wish…Father I wish I didn't feel this way. I really do. It would have been so much easier if I had just fancied Rose. I spoke to Mrs. Weasley –"
"Wait! Hermione knew about this?!"
"You…you're not…you weren't the easiest person to talk to after Mother got sick and then you completely shut everyone out when she died. In your mind it may look like you were trying, but in reality you were doing a bang up job of pushing me away."
I am shocked. Words cannot reach me as I mentally review the last four years with my son. Did I really push him away? Yes, yes I did. I was always quick to send him away. But I'm not the only one to blame. I may have pushed, but he pulled away too.
"I've tried, but still I can't be different. I still feel the same way. I feel…dirty. Why can't I just not feel this way? Do you know what it feels like to feel so ashamed, like the whole world will judge you negatively?"
I hope that's a rhetorical question. If not, it's quite clear then that the virus has spread to his brain and he's forgotten who he's talking to. Rhetorical or not, I answer him.
"Of course I know that feeling. Every time that I'm with Hermione I have that feeling and I'm positive that she feels the same way too. It's not something that goes away just like that – the feeling of shame, feeling like you're doing something wrong, that you're going against everything that you were taught to be right and wrong. Of course I know what that feels like. But at the end of the day it'll take a lot of bravery to be with that someone that makes you happy. It's not something us Slytherins are known for, but at some point in time you'll have to move through your own terror and that's the definition of bravery. It doesn't involve swords and dragons or even Dark Lords all the time. It can come in very every day moments like choosing to be a toerag to the person you admire the most or choosing to respect them and show them that you're willing, willing to do what it takes. I don't expect you to get that now. You're only fourteen. It took me years and I've been known to break records – youngest Death Eater in history, you know."
I smile at him and then I remember he can't see it because of my scarf tied around my face. He offers me a poor attempt at a smirk, like he wanted to but got tired halfway through. We sit silently for a few moments. I hope he's taking in what I just said.
"Did you see him?"
"No, not as yet. He's with his father. I suppose he's having a similar conversation. He thinks he's been infected. Does he…does he have basis for that belief?" I ask cautiously.
He doesn't say anything, only looks at me with a schooled blank expression.
He's looking for my reaction. Honestly, I feel highly uncomfortable. Prison has made me very adverse to the idea. I suppose it's because I've only seen a violent version. I know that my son could never do something like that to someone he cares about, not like what those cowards in prison did to a few unfortunate wizards. I forcibly school my face into blankness. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how I feel; this is my son.
"You know, someone once told me that the people who are the most judgemental are often the people who are the most terrified of being judged."
"You're not disgusted? You're not disappointed?"
"I'd be lying if I said no." I can see in his eyes his own disappointment at my words. "But this is something that I need to move through as well. Why didn't you come to me? Is that the reason you've been treating me like you have? We used to be close. Why didn't you tell me?" He turns his head to the ceiling again and his face hardens. Whatever little understanding we may have been getting is slipping away. I must tread carefully.
"The rumours you heard, they're just that: rumours, but I don't like them. And I admit that my reaction to them may be…off putting for someone like you, but at the end of the day you're my son and I'd always choose you. I'd always choose my family. I'd support you. Our family has a history of not being accepting, but I'm trying to change that. Hermione, Mrs. Weasley, has taught me that I don't have to hate another just to carve out an identity for myself and I hope that you can reach that level of understanding one day."
He takes a while to respond while I sit and wonder if I'm pushing him even further from me.
"I wanted to speak to you. I really did, but you were cut off from me. Mother got ill and you became mean and stony-faced and dismissive. You turned into everything they were saying about you at school. I know I didn't help matters with the way I'd been acting, but…I don't know. When Al told me who you really were I was angrier at the fact that I hadn't seen all the signs before. I was angry at you for hiding it from me. And it all fell into place that the reason Mother got ill was because of you." His words feel like an ice-pick to my heart and I already knew how he felt. Still, the pain of it never dulls. "And then Mother died and I didn't know if you…if you had…"
The moment has come.
"You didn't know if I what?"
"I saw you, Father."
"What did you see?"
"I'm not sure. I saw you standing over her in the tub. I saw you with the razor in your hand, but I'm not sure…I'm not sure." The tears have started rolling down his cheeks again and I don't know what to say.
"I…I didn't do anything wrong." I finally say. I must choose my words carefully. I look him in the eye and repeat what I've been saying to myself from the moment that Astoria died. "You should believe me when I say that I didn't do anything wrong. I loved your mother and I still do. I never wanted to hurt her. Everything I did, I did it for her. I loved your mother. I didn't do anything wrong. Do you believe me?"
He stares at me for a long time before he nods and I feel a wave of relief. I get up and unscrew the vial as I walk over to him. He gulps the potion and drops back down on the bed like a stone because that one act of lifting his head to drink has him dizzy and fatigued. He looks up at me confused.
"Come on, drink up. That's only a half-dose. I don't have enough on me for the full dose."
"That's the only one on you now? Why'd you give it to me then? You should have given Al the full dose."
My son looks like the visual representation of pain. There are teenaged, pimply-faced Blast-ended Skrewts that look better than him right now and still he's willing to give up his chance at relief to Albus Potter. He's a better man than I am.
"You'll feel a little more relief: less pain in your muscles and no more dizziness, but you need to get the full dosage of two potions a day for the next week in order for those boils to disappear and not leave any marks. This amount will only slightly reduce the pain of them."
"Give the rest to him. He might really have the Spattergroit."
"Okay. I um…I want you to think about what we talked about very closely. Also, I'm sorry if I haven't been the person that you wanted me to be, but I'm trying."
"I'm trying too, Father. I never meant to disappoint you or Mother."
I don't know what to say. I don't trust myself to speak. I might end up crying so I nod stiffly and turn to walk out when I catch a brief glimpse of brown hair. My entire body stiffens. How long was she there? How much did she hear? When I step out into the corridor, no one is there, but I know that she is here. I can smell her perfume. I keep right on walking to the compartment three doors down.
Potter is in the compartment with his son. He too has a scarf tied around his face. It's the same scarf that Lovegood had on earlier – a beautiful bright green.
"Mr. Malfoy," Albus jumps up nervously. He doesn't have any boils on his skin, but I know that if he is infected this is the time that he'd be the most contagious. Prevention is better than cure in any case.
"Drink this. It's only a half-dose, but I'll get you some more later if a Healer checks out that you really do have Spattergroit."
"It's alright, I'll see to it." Potter says as Albus gulps down the rest of the potion. I turn to look at him and his expression looks resigned. I bet that never in a million years would he think that things could ever be like this – Hermione is with me and his son is… I can barely complete the thought. It's a tripped-up other world is what it's like. I turn to leave, but when I reach the door I hear him say,
"Thank you, Malfoy. I appreciate it. Thanks for being there and for…understanding." His words hold a lot of meaning and my mind wonders briefly if we could ever be friends.
Probably not…but one never knows. I mean, look at Hermione and me.
He follows me outside and I have a brief conversation with that bitch: the chief of on-board services, plus Hermione, Lovegood, Potter and Weasley-that-idiot, where I tell them that Scorpius and Albus can be removed to the hospital for further check-ups. The Express however, needs to get back to Hogwarts.
I don't have a car, nor can I drive and Scorpius can barely walk let alone hold onto me to apparate to the hospital. The result: Potter and I will get in his car and we'll take Scorpius and Albus to the hospital. Hermione'll tag along in case Potter and I decided to hex each other to death for old times' sake. Lovegood will travel with us because she's pregnant and can't or rather shouldn't apparate like that anyway. The other children will squeeze into Hermione's car with Weasley-that-idiot driving and they'll travel home from there. But then Rose and Hugo insist they want to come along. We spent a good ten minutes arguing over seating arrangements. Luckily, we're not too far from St. Mungo's.
This is the most awkward car ride yet. With our scarves wrapped around faces as precaution against pathogens from Scorpius and Albus, we all look like we're going to stylishly bomb some government building. The good news? Rose is being marginally nicer to me now that she knows I didn't kill Scorpius once I found out about his indiscretion. The bad news? My future stepson has the subtlety of an anvil.
"Are you going to divorce Dad and marry Mr. Malfoy, Mum?"
And people say children aren't evil. Potter, Merlin bless him, mashes a hard brake and we all pelt forward. His left hand shoots out to block Lovegood from going through the windscreen, but his protective instinct still doesn't stop Hermione from ripping him a new pair. I know she's trying a distraction technique and I have never been more grateful for her having that self-righteous stick lodged up her arse. She manages to turn a slight tsk tsk into a five minute tirade and by the time she's done everyone has forgotten about Hugo's question, focussing instead on the benefits of not throwing ourselves from the car just to get away from her nagging.
We reach the hospital and the Healers insist that Scorpius stay overnight for observation; Albus too. By the time we've finished up the paperwork Ginny Weasley has arrived and Potter now has the awkward task of explaining exactly how if one is unknowingly infected with Spattergroit one can give it to another through innocent close contact, such as shaking hands or kissing. I see her look over at me and her beady eyes narrow even further as she no doubts concocts a reason as to why I am to blame. I decide to make myself scarce.
"Love," I pull Hermione aside quickly from her position at the nurses' station, "I have to go. I know the children will be here and you'll be busy for Christmas with them, so you let me know when you have the time to see me."
"Umm…" She starts up unsure. Her eyes look uncertain; her smile fake. "I was thinking that maybe I can come up to your house some day over the holidays."
Something is wrong. Hermione never wants to come to my house and for good reason. She was tortured there, literally.
"You want to come over some time?"
"Yes." Her mouth says one thing, but I can see the unwillingness in her eyes. She heard Scorpius and me talking. She knows something is up. I have to fix this. I cannot let her find out what I did.
"Sure. Let me know when you're ready." I smile and look around before I kiss her briefly on the forehead. She only gives me a watery smile in return.
I leave the hallway and head to the lift where I see Lovegood. She holds it for me. It amazes me that she has yet to attempt to use an Unforgivable curse on me. She's a better person that I am.
"Do you always have Spattergroit potions on you?" She asks me in that cool, calm voice that makes me think she sniffs glue or something.
"Yes." I don't bother to elaborate that I created the damned thing and it's therefore not as odd an occurrence as she might think. Not that she could give anybody any talk for being odd.
"Hmm. Hermione was telling me that she heard that the venom of the Sweet Temptation snake is used in it, but I know that the venom of those snakes is used in memory charms. Theodore Nott, the Director of MIA Potions confirmed it himself."
"You told her that?"
"Mmhmm. She seemed shocked at the idea. I admit that the venom of…" She continues speaking, but I don't hear her. The lift dings open and I walk out on her, leaving her in the background with a few quick strides.
Hermione knows that I lied to her. She was listening in on my conversation with Scorpius. How much did she hear? I bet she heard enough to suddenly want to come over to my house, not to spend quality time, but because she's starting to investigate me.
I leave the hospital and apparate to my house with one intention on my mind. I must clean that house from top to bottom and get rid of any evidence.
A/N: This story is more character-driven with a few bits of twists than it is a focus on romance (I'm not that good at writing romance), though there is romance. Two more chapters left. But anyway, what are your thoughts on this chapter?