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05 August 2007 @ 12:32 am
HP fic: The Sixth Road Less Travelled  
HP fic: The Sixth Road Less Travelled
This part: 5489 words, PG-13, ships but foreshadowed for now
Warning: contains spoilers for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

a/n: Just for the record, I ain't leaving. I am not a child molester because I write fanfiction. Here's the proof. If it's not good enough - if I'm going down because imagination has become a crime - I'm going down swinging.



Never love unless you can
Bear with all the faults of man:
Men sometimes will jealous be
Though but little cause they see;
And hang the head as discontent,
And speak what straight they will repent.

(Thomas Campion)

Valentine’s Day 2017 dawned suspiciously bright and sunny. Albus was not the only one to be woken by a probing ray of light on his eyelids. Rambo muttered all the way through breakfast about the harmful effects of greenhouse gases on the planet’s delicate ecosystems. Albus listened with half an ear, squinting as the sky in the Great Hall bounced light off the glassware and melted the butter.

The older years were terribly giddy. Disgruntled owls bedecked with ribbons flew through the corridors all day, bearing everything from simple cards to huge heart-shaped packages. Albus privately thought he’d die of mortification if something like that dropped on his desk.

Few owls found their way into the first-year Slytherin/Hufflepuff classrooms. Titania reported that the prettiest girl in first-year, Ravenclaw Christine Ohtori, had received a winning total of three cards. However, all these were reputed to come from the same source: Gerrold Boot, who was Christine’s ‘boyfriend.’ As far as Albus knew, their relationship consisted of sharing the same desk and sitting beside each other at mealtimes. He found the idea of wasting time and energy on sending some girl a card totally baffling.

James walked around with his pockets stuffed full of sweets in red cellophane bags. Albus couldn’t decide if he’d bought them himself, to either show off or distribute, or if he’d been given them. The idea that girls wanted to shower James with red cellophane sweets was even more baffling. In the end Albus concentrated on his classes with a singular devotion to duty that earned him a concerned ‘Are you feeling all right?’ from Professor Longbottom.

Scorpius walked into the Clubhouse that evening sporting a small, darkening bruise on his cheek. It was almost perfectly round. Albus decided to brave Scorpius’ now near-permanent vindictiveness and inquire about it.

“I banged into a shelf,” was Scorpius’ mumbled reply.

“A circular shelf?”

Scorpius hesitated, and said, “Yeah.” Even more surprisingly, he climbed into the hammock with Albus – something he hadn’t done in months – and hugged a pillow to his chest.

A few moments later Norma arrived, looking disgustingly pleased with herself. Her parents had finally relented and given her a Poisoner’s Starter Kit for Christmas, on the proviso that she wasn’t to use it to actually poison anyone. She’d already worked out the kinks in the Dysentery Drops, by adding more magic and a simple tagging system. She’d figured out that giving the Drops a personal item belonging to the victim – hair, quills, leftover food – allowed them to track the person far more efficiently. Uncle George had been ecstatic and wanted to put Norma on staff immediately, until he realised she was eleven, at which point he said he’d hold her job open for a few years.

Titania raised her eyebrows at her twin. Although they couldn’t read each other’s thoughts – much to Rambo’s disappointment – they did intuit hints in each other’s behaviour that no one else did, until it was too late. Ignoring her sister, Norma sashayed over to Rambo.

“I got you a Valentine’s card,” she said. A quick flick of her wand sent an identical lime green envelope winging into Albus’ lap.

“Thanks,” said Rambo, puzzled.

A press against his elbow prevented Albus from opening his card straight away, but Rambo had no such warning. While Albus nudged Scorpius in return, hoping for a more detailed admonition, Rambo tore across the envelope flap and opened the card. The front was adorned with a scratchy heart in plain black ink, but none of them had time to appreciate Norma’s complete paucity of drawing skills. A round ball on a spring popped out of the middle of the card, hitting Rambo in the face so hard he fell over backwards.

“That wasn’t funny!” bawled Titania, rushing over to Rambo to offer aid and succour. Aside from a slightly dazed expression and a red mark on his cheek, Rambo appeared unhurt.

“Yes it was,” said Norma, entirely unrepentant. “I got Scorpius earlier. I don’t suppose you’re going to open yours?”

“Not a chance,” said Albus hastily. He tossed his unopened envelope into the fire where, with an ominous sizzle, it imploded.

Rubbing at his cheek, Rambo said, “Why’d you destroy it? I would have liked the chance to inspect the spring mechanism more closely.” He turned to Norma. “What spell did you use to power it?”

“How about I show you?” said Norma. “I’ve got half a dozen more in my backpack.”

Rambo scampered across to her, heartlessly abandoning his research into locking enchantments. The two of them were soon huddled over a pile of green envelopes. It appeared Rambo was giving Norma tips on how to improve the force of the spring.

“Boy’s a glutton for punishment,” declared Titania. “I don’t suppose either of you is up for Exploding Snap?”

Scorpius shook his head mutely. “I’m still growing my eyebrows back from last time,” said Albus.

“Didn’t think so,” said Titania. “I guess this is a sign from the universe that I’m supposed to go back to the common room and finish my Charms essay.”

“Gosh, Ti,” said Albus, amused, “even I’ve finished that.”

“Thanks, I really needed to feel more guilty.” Titania got to her feet. “I’ll see you later. G’night, Scorpius.”

Scorpius said nothing, but at this point neither Titania nor anyone else expected him to. Scorpius had accelerated from plain grumpy to incapable of polite interaction and disappeared into the wastelands beyond. Albus was the only one who persevered in trying to get him to open up, and even his determination was fraying at the edges.

Albus would have been quite content to spend his last hour before bedtime in quiet contemplation, starting at the fire-pictures and listening to the low hum of Norma and Rambo’s plans for world domination. But the fact that Scorpius had willingly sat beside him was an opportunity too good to miss.

“Have you finished the Charms essay?” he asked, bracing himself for a scathing reply.

“The day after it was assigned,” said Scorpius. “I ... like Charms.”

This addendum encouraged Albus further. “What charm did you use on my bookmark?”

Scorpius’ mouth quirked. “I didn’t use a charm on it.”

“Oh.”

They sat in silence for a few moments while Albus drummed his fingers on his knee. Asking outright about what was bothering Scorpius had yielded precisely nothing in the past. Albus decided to try a subtler approach.

“Are your parents okay?” he said. Scorpius started, his elbow jabbing Albus’ side rather painfully.

“They’re fine. Why?”

Albus shrugged. “I just wondered if they’re why you’ve been so bloody lately. I know that when my parents fight, everyone in the house gets upset.”

“My parents never fight,” said Scorpius.

“Seriously? Never ever?”

“I’ve never seen them do it.”

“Behind closed doors then,” said Albus. “It’s not normal not to argue. Look at the five of us.”

“Oh, they argue,” said Scorpius. “About curtains and how flowers drop their petals because the house elves forget to put an Ever Fresh charm on them and what kind of soup to have at parties. But that’s not fighting.”

“No,” Albus agreed. He probably would have agreed if Scorpius said his parents were trolls who roasted house elves over spits, he was so pleased to hear Scorpius speak in more than monosyllables. At least he could rule out familial discord as a cause of Scorpius’ problems.

Norma gave a silvery laugh from her corner – always a portent of coming evil.

“She got you too, then?” Albus swiped his fingers over Scorpius’ cheek. “I can’t believe you trusted her!”

“I didn’t realise the card was from her,” said Scorpius, and he was – blushing? “It was stuffed into my desk with a couple of others.”

“A couple of other what?” Albus wrinkled his forehead. “A couple of other cards? Holy cow, from who?”

“Some of them were anonymous,” said Scorpius, blushing deeper. “One of them was from Christine.”

“Christine Ohtori? Holy cow.” Albus searched for a better way to express his astonishment. “I mean, holy cow.”

“Stop saying that,” complained Scorpius. “What are you, a Hindu?”

Albus stared at his friend, who scowled and avoided his gaze. Valentine’s Day had seemed utterly pointless two minutes ago, but now Albus felt curiously left out. A card from Norma – even one without a violent attacking mechanism – didn’t count; it was like getting a card from your mother.

Albus didn’t usually think about his friend’s appearances. Objectively, of course, he knew what they looked like: the twins with their pigtails sticking out like jug handles and eyes gleaming behind thick glasses, and Rambo who resembled a bleached hot dog. Albus could see that Scorpius had ash-blonde curls and large, thickly lashed blue eyes, set deep in his pale face, but he’d never put all that visual information together before in a way that spelled out the facts. The fact that girls thought Scorpius was cute. The fact that Scorpius got Valentine’s cards from pretty girls and secret admirers. The fact that there was more than one way to get around a prejudice against your House and name, if you were good-looking.

“Does it hurt?” he asked, lamely, after the information had sunk in.

“What, this?” Scorpius touched his bruise. “No, I have a few bottles of Pain-Away Potion in my trunk. Don’t know how to get rid of the bruise, though.”

“I do. Hold still.” Albus touched his wand to Scorpius’ face. “Contundum abitum. There, all gone.”

“Where’d you learn that?”

Albus shrugged. “Mum. She was forever patching up me and James after fights.”

Scorpius’ fingers threaded together nervously. “Do you fight with him a lot?”

“Yeah, all brothers and sisters do,” said Albus. He didn’t particularly want to go into this now, not when he had so much else to think about. Fortunately Scorpius didn’t probe any further.

They passed away the rest of the hour quietly, both lost in thought. Albus was wrestling with the new and strange idea that Scorpius liked girls – that girls liked him – not for friends, but for other things James hinted at and his parents promised to disclose in A Talk.

Albus wondered if Scorpius had sent a card of his own. Was he planning to abandon their little group and hang out with a girl instead, to carry her books and wear matching unicorn hair wristlets, like Christine and Gerrold? It was a disquieting thought.

When the Guardian shelf rang out, Norma groaned in annoyance. Rambo looked as if he’d spent a season in hell with a notebook. Albus rolled his eyes and left them to snatch a last few minutes of caballing before curfew. Scorpius followed him out, a strange expression on his face.

“I’m sorry,” he said, and ran off.

“For what?” called Albus, but Scorpius was already gone.

+_+_+

The next day began a flurry of owls at their usual time. It reminded Albus that he hadn’t written home in over a week. Coming back to Hogwarts after Christmas had been a wrench, but he was settled in now even better than before. The fight he’d had with Dad had finally blown itself out a fortnight ago, so he’d stopped ignoring Dad’s part of the letters. Dad’s apology was vague, but it had been enough. Albus was too tired of the fight to demand specifics. It was enough of a relief to stop carrying the anger around with him everywhere he went.

+_+_+

Two days before the holidays ended, Albus finally confronted his father about withholding the existence of Albus’ cousin. He hadn’t intended to; the topic had come up when Dad called Albus to his study to ‘discuss’ his numerous detentions. In Grown-Up speech this meant ‘chastise with extreme prejudice.’

“So how many detentions does this make it?” Dad asked, steepling his fingers.

Sitting across the desk from him, with nothing to do but stare, Albus realised that Dad’s hair was more grey than black at the temples, and that a spiderweb of fine lines radiated out from the corners of his eyes. It was weird to think of Dad getting older. He’d seemed to stay the same age to Albus as long as he’d lived, but going away for a few months had changed his perspective.

“Six,” replied Albus. He tactfully declined to mention that Penwyn had issued him a detention slip on the last morning for kicking up ash as he rushed through the common room. It would come into effect when term re-started, but as far as Albus was concerned it didn’t yet count.

“Will you explain to me why you’ve had so many? I know you’re not rude. You’re hardworking and polite. Neville hasn’t mentioned that any teacher has a grudge against you. Why so many detentions?”

“The first one was for being out of bed at night,” Albus began to explain. “My friend Titania wanted to see her twin sister, who’d been Sorted into Slytherin. They’d never been apart a night before. She asked Rambo and me to come along because she didn’t like the idea of creeping around a dark castle by herself.”

“That is perhaps pushing the bounds of chivalry a little too far,” said Dad dryly, “but it’s still understandable.”

“The second you know about, because James got one too. He insulted my friend Rambo –” Albus’ face darkened at the memory “– and when I told him Rambo is our cousin, James called me a liar and hit me.”

“Not a Kodak moment either,” said Dad. “I know you and James have had your differences, and you’re so alike you’ll always rub each other the wrong way –”

“I am nothing like James!” Albus retorted hotly.

“Not at first glance, no,” Dad amended, “but you both have rather quick tempers – the combination of both mine and your mother’s, I’m afraid – and both of you refuse to back down. Two strong personalities in one family always makes for friction. In any case, I already know about this detention. Tell me about the others.”

“But Dad, why didn’t you tell us about Rambo?” Before Dad could make a protest about changing the subject, Albus said, “It’s the reason why James and I got into a fight. So that detention was kind of your fault.”

“Oh really?” Dad snorted. “It’s like this. I lived with Rambo’s grandparents as a child. They loved their own son – Rambo’s dad – very much, but they hated me. This was because Rambo’s grandmother, Petunia, was jealous of my mother, Lily. Lily had magical talent and Petunia didn’t. Imagine if you didn’t have magic while James did – it doesn’t make for family harmony. My parents were killed in the first Great War, so Dumbledore left me with my aunt. They treated me like a servant and tried to stop me going to Hogwarts. During the second Great War the Ministry helped them to go into hiding. To be honest, I wasn’t keen on trying to find them afterwards. The fact is, I didn’t even know Dudley had a son.”

“They knew about us, though,” said Albus. “The Ministry kept them informed.”

“I’m sure there was protocol about that – to allow them to come out of hiding at all, for instance. I didn’t keep this a secret on purpose. I honestly didn’t know.”

“All right,” said Albus grudgingly.

“Don’t think you’ve put me off the scent,” said Dad. “I still want to know why you got four other detentions, and I want to know it all. Even I only managed one my first term at Hogwarts.”

“One...” Albus stared at him, aghast. “You got detentions?”

“Loads,” said Dad airily. “I even have scars to show for it.” He waved the hand with the white lines on it. Albus had never thought to ask about them before – it was just Dad’s hand, after all. Nothing special.

“But – but you always told us you and Mum never got detentions!” accused Albus. “You said you expected us to do the same!”

“Of course we told you that,” said Dad. He sounded impatient. “We didn’t want you lot to think getting in trouble is okay.”

“So you lied.” Albus’ voice was trembling.

“Yes, but it was only to show a good example –”

“You still lied!” yelled Albus. He leapt to his feet. “You broke your word! You – dishonourable –”

Dad frowned. “Albus, that’s enough. Don’t raise your voice to me.” He waved his wand and Albus sat back down with a thump. Albus glared at the floor, feeling utterly betrayed. His own father had lied to him, made him feel guilty as hell for getting detentions – even though they weren’t his fault – but all along Dad was just the same as him. Worse, because he’d lied about it.

“Now tell me about the other detentions.” There was a pause. “Speak, or I’ll keep you here until you do.”

Dad carried through on threats, unlike Mum, who was too soft-hearted. Albus knew he would keep his word. Sullenly, Albus said, “Penwyn Jones and Raymond Cresswell-Skeeter keep giving them to me. It’s payback because of what I did to the Never-ending Parchment.”

“What did you do to the Never-ending Parchment?” prompted Dad.

“Me, Rambo and Scorpius altered it so we could add to their conversations. They used to mock people. I didn’t like it. Then, after I got sick, they accused Scorpius of poisoning me. They didn’t know or didn’t care that Scorpius is my best friend. We tried to get back at them. It didn’t work – they just got meaner and meaner. They’re both Animagi and Scorpius caught Raymond snooping in his dorm. We threatened to report them for selling stories to the Prophet if they didn’t apologise for what they’d said. But McGonagall made them stop first. Ever since they’ve been getting revenge on me. They don’t see Scorpius as much, but they’ve given him a detention as well, for coughing in the library.”

“So.” Dad sounded grim. “This Scorpius boy is the reason you’ve been getting into trouble. I knew he’d be a bad influence on you – the Malfoy taint is too strong.”

Albus stared at his father, his lip curled in an unconscious imitation of Scorpius. “Didn’t you hear a word I said?”

“Don’t take that tone with me!”

“It was my idea!” Albus could feel his voice getting louder again. “I wanted to stop them, I wanted to hurt them because they hurt my friend. Scorpius is my friend. I don’t care what happened with you and his dad –”

“Draco Malfoy was a Death Eater,” said Dad.

“No he wasn’t!” Albus felt frustrated tears sting his eyes. “He wasn’t, Scorpius said so. And even if he was it doesn’t matter. Scorpius isn’t a Death Eater. There aren’t any more Death Eaters.”

“There will always be Death Eaters, or people like them,” said Dad. “I worked as an Auror for fifteen years; I know. The Malfoys have been blood supremacists since time immemorial. There is not a single chance that Draco Malfoy hasn’t brought his son up to be the same – a Muggle-hater and a potential follower of any new cult leader.”

“You haven’t even met Scorpius,” said Albus in freezing tones. “How dare you judge him like that?”

“I’d say I dare,” snapped Dad. “I fought in the last War –”

“And that makes you an expert on leaders of Dark Magic cults, does it?” Albus rolled his eyes.

“I only killed the last one.” Dad rubbed his forehead agitatedly. “So maybe just a little bit.”

“Wait, wait. You’re telling me you – you were the Chosen One?” said Albus, his eyes so wide he felt sure they’d pop out of his head. “You ...”

“Yes. I meant to wait until you were older to tell you. I asked the historians and journalists to use that name so my family could grow up free from the hysteria. You have no idea what it was like after the Great War ended. The publicity would have ruined our lives.”

“And you didn’t think we had a right to know our father was the Chosen One?”

“You knew I was an major player in the War,” said Dad. “Wasn’t that important enough?”

“Important? Important?” spat Albus. “Who do you think I am – James? I don’t care what you did or who you killed – I care that you lied to me, again!”

“Albus –”

“No.” Albus turned his face away, ignoring Dad’s beseeching expression. “You can keep me here as long as you like, I’m not talking to you.”

“Well, fine.” Dad’s own temper flared. “Do what you like!”

Albus stayed in the study until midnight, when Mum came and helped him to bed with tears in her eyes.

+_+_+

Albus sat back, his temples crunching as he relived that particular memory. Across the Hall, he spotted a midnight-black owl bearing down on Scorpius. Albus recognised it as the one that brought Scorpius parcels from home. The look on Scorpius’ face made Albus’ heart turn over in his chest: it was one part loathing, three parts fear, and made Scorpius blanch so white he appeared almost blue. Albus abandoned his toast and hurried over to the Slytherin table. He barely noticed the odd looks shot in his direction. His sole focus was getting to Scorpius before he threw up all over the table, a likelihood that grew all the stronger as Scorpius read the letter the owl had delivered.

“Are you okay?” whispered Albus as soon as he reached Scorpius’ side. An elfin girl with cascading brown curls reluctantly made room for him on the bench.

Scorpius gazed at him vacantly. “What are you doing here?”

“You look ill,” said Albus.

“I’m fine,” said Scorpius, looking anything but.

Breakfast ended while Albus remained by Scorpius’ side. Everyone but a few stragglers and slow eaters had drifted off to class when Professor Longbottom entered the Great Hall through a door behind the head table. He scanned the hall and latched on to Scorpius. As he made for them, Scorpius’ hand found Albus’ under the table and squeezed so tight Albus winced in pain.

“Ah, there you are, Mr Malfoy,” said Professor Longbottom. “Lucky for me! I was hoping to catch you before class. You have a special visitor this morning. The Headmistress has already informed your teachers that you will be missing the first three classes. Now, if you’ll follow me –”

Scorpius squeezed Albus’ hand to the point of bone damage. “I want Albus to come with me.”

Professor Longbottom coughed. If he wasn’t so distracted Albus might have thought he was concealing a laugh. “Certainly, Scorpius, if that’s what you want.”

Scorpius nodded. Rising from his seat like a zombie, he followed Professor Longbottom as he walked back towards the head table. He kept hold of Albus’ hand, so Albus nearly fell over the bench. He wasn’t about to ask Scorpius to let go, however; not when Scorpius looked like that.

They entered the door behind the head table and found themselves in a small, well-appointed chamber. Two people were standing beside the fire, which blazed more for beauty than function, as the room was uncomfortably close. One of the figures Albus recognised as Draco Malfoy. He appeared taller and thinner than ever in severe bottle-green robes, his hair slicked so tight to his scalp he looked like an albino seal.

The woman with him Albus guessed to be his wife, Scorpius’ mother. She was shorter than her husband, although not by much. The lush curves of her body were swathed in filmy grey robes, her cheeks pink from the fire. The blue eyes that Scorpius could turn so cold were open and laughing in her oval face. Albus felt his heart thump loudly and painfully in his chest.

“Hello, Scorpius,” said Mr Malfoy. “And Albus too, I see.”

“Oh, you’ve met?” said Professor Longbottom. “That’s good. Scorpius asked for Albus to come with him, and I didn’t see any problem with it.”

“Doubtlessly,” said Mr Malfoy, ice chips floating in his voice. “If that is all, Neville, I would appreciate some time alone with my family and its associated hangers-on.”

“Of course.” Professor Longbottom coughed again. “I’ll see myself out.”

“Do that,” said Mr Malfoy. “And fetch yourself a cough drop. You don’t want to give your pupils colds.”

Professor Longbottom inclined his head and withdrew. Scorpius had dropped Albus’ hand on entering the room, but he remained close by Albus’ side – close enough for Albus to feel him shaking.

“Say hello to your dad,” hissed Albus. It came out louder than intended in the quiet room. Mrs Malfoy smiled at him, and Albus felt his insides turn to liquid.

“Hello, Father,” intoned Scorpius.

“Who is your friend?” asked Mrs Malfoy, advancing on Albus with her hand outstretched. Several large rings glittered and sparkled in the firelight. “I’m Serena Malfoy, Scorpius’ mother.”

Albus shook her hand carefully, fearing it might shatter if he touched her too hard. “Albus Potter, Scorpius’ best friend.”

“Indeed.” Mrs Malfoy raised her perfect eyebrows. “Delighted to make your acquaintance. I believe you’ve already met my husband, Draco?”

“Yes, before Christmas, Mrs Malfoy.”

“Enough of these pleasantries.” Mr Malfoy waved a hand. “Scorpius, you know why we are here. A very happy event has come to pass, at long last. We wanted you to be the first to know.”

“We’ve brought someone very special here to meet you,” said Mrs Malfoy. She stepped back to the fire and reached down into a Moses basket that was rocking gently by magic.

“No!” Scorpius suddenly shouted. “I don’t want to!” He tore away from Albus’ side and dashed out of the room.

Mr Malfoy sighed and Mrs Malfoy’s face crumpled. The lacy bundle in her arms began to squirm, and then to gurgle. “Shh,” said Mrs Malfoy absently.

“Is that –” Albus’ eyes widened.

“Our new daughter, Celerity.” Mr Malfoy’s voice was painfully proud. “Born just yesterday at four o’clock.”

“She was born on Valentine’s Day?” Albus grinned.

“In my family it is accounted very lucky to be born on a feast-day.” Mrs Malfoy kissed the top of her daughter’s head. “For some reason it is quite common, and all those born on such days are blessed with great luck.”

“Well, congratulations!” said Albus. “I’m, er, sorry about Scorpius. I don’t know what’s got into him.”

“He’s been like this ever since we told him about the pregnancy,” said Mrs Malfoy.

“Serena, the boy doesn’t need to –”

“He’s our son’s best friend!” said Mrs Malfoy. “Perhaps he knows why.” She turned pleading eyes on Albus.

“He hasn’t told me anything,” said Albus, “but I have a pretty good idea where to go and find him.”

“I’ll come with you,” said Mr Malfoy. Mrs Malfoy put a restraining hand on his arm.

“Let Albus do it, Draco,” she said.

Albus sent Mr Malfoy a quick smile before dashing to the seventh floor. He missed the curious expression of regret that graced Draco Malfoy’s features for an instant as he watched him go.

+_+_+

Albus yanked on the door of the Clubhouse. He wouldn’t have been surprised to find it locked, but the Clubhouse yielded to his urgent need to find Scorpius.

The room inside was utterly unlike anything Albus had ever seen before. It was tiny, both in proportions and height – the ceiling brushed the top of Albus’ head. Gauzy hangings in pastel hues criss-crossed the floor, turning the room into a warren of silk tunnels. When Albus found Scorpius, it was on a bed of cream satin cushions. Each was embroidered with fantastical scenes of knights and dragons, centaurs and unicorns. An ornate birch shelf held a row of books with gorgeous gilt covers. Albus itched to investigate them, but Scorpius’ reddened eyes were more worthy of scrutiny.

Albus sat down amongst the cushions, which were heavenly soft and scented with a woody smell he couldn’t name. Scorpius hid his face in one.

“I don’t remember Lily being born,” said Albus. “But I was glad she was a girl. Little sisters are more fun than big brothers.”

“No siblings at all are the most fun of all,” sniffed Scorpius.

“Yeah, but you can’t give ‘em back once they arrive,” Albus pointed out.

“I just don’t understand.” Tears trickled out of Scorpius’ eyes. “Why did they want another baby? Wasn’t I enough? Don’t they love me any more?”

Albus stared at his friend. Scorpius had started crying in earnest as he spoke, sobs wracking his frame.

Albus couldn’t help it. He began to laugh.

“Some friend you are!”

At the indignation in Scorpius’ tone Albus only laughed more, nearly crying himself.

“Fine, if you think it’s so funny, go away and laugh yourself to death!” snarled Scorpius. He already sounded more angry than pathetic.

“I’m sorry,” choked Albus, “but listen to yourself! You get top marks in nearly everything and you think your parents had a baby because they don’t love you any more?”

“What have my marks got to do with anything?”

“They suggest you have the intelligence God gave a pea, that’s what,” said Albus. He calmed down slightly. “For crying out loud, Scorpius. There are five hundred million reasons why people have babies. I don’t think your parents used one of the nasty ones. Maybe you weren’t enough – maybe they always planned to have more than one kid. Maybe, just maybe, they thought you’d like to have a little brother or sister.”

“Well, I don’t.” Scorpius set his lip mutinously.

“Or maybe they thought you needed someone to share the attention,” suggested Albus wickedly. “Stop you being so selfish.”

“I’m not selfish!” Scorpius gaped inelegantly. “How dare you!”

“You are very very selfish,” said Albus, “but you’re still my friend. You’re a great person and you’re going to make a great big brother, I can tell. Why don’t you give yourself a chance?”

“It’s not like I have much choice,” muttered Scorpius.

“No, you don’t. That’s why it’s even more important to do the right thing,” said Albus. “C’mon. Lighten up. Celerity’ll take years to catch up on you.”

“Celerity?”

“Your sister’s name,” said Albus gently.

“Celerity.” Scorpius took a shaky breath. “That’s pretty.”

“It really is,” said Albus. “I’m sure your mum would love it if you went and told her so.” He stood up and helped Scorpius to his feet. “Your parents are still in the room behind the Great Hall.”

“They waited for me?”

“Of course they waited for you, idiot,” said Albus. “They’re your parents. It’s their job. They’ll always wait for you.”

Scorpius dashed the tears from his face. Albus loaned him a handkerchief and directed him to the spots he’d missed. “Thanks,” muttered Scorpius. “For the handkerchief, I mean.”

“And the rest,” laughed Albus. Scorpius scowled at him – a sure sign he was feeling better – and walked away quickly.

Professor Longbottom caught Albus dawdling along the hallway to Potions. Professor Slughorn detested tardiness and Albus was already looking down the barrel of another detention – his third that week, Penwyn and Raymond having accounted for two already.

“Hello, Albus,” said Professor Longbottom. “Here’s your note.”

“My note?”

“Excusing your lateness,” said Longbottom. He looked at Albus as if he were a particularly odd plant specimen. “Draco Malfoy insisted that I write you one.”

“Thanks, Professor!” Relieved, Albus pocketed the note. “Was there anything else?”

“I did have a question,” said Longbottom slowly, “but if you think it’s rude, you don’t have to answer it.”

“Okay,” said Albus.

“I was merely wondering,” said Professor Longbottom, “if the Sorting Hat tried to place you in any other House but Hufflepuff.”

“Is that all? I thought you were going to give me a lecture on getting so many detentions.” Albus scratched his chin. “The Hat? Yeah, it said I’d fit in any House.” He carefully neglected to mention that he’d asked not to be put in Gryffindor; he was well aware Professor Longbottom was an alumni of that House.

“Any House,” repeated Longbottom. “I see. Thank you.”

“No problem, Professor. I’d better get to class. See you in Herbology!”

As Albus continued down the corridor to the dungeons, he was aware that Professor Longbottom was still there, watching him. But by the time Albus turned the corner, he was gone.

+_+_+

Scorpius was a little later than usual in turning up to the Clubhouse that night. Albus was worried, but he didn’t dare confide in his friends. He didn’t think Scorpius would appreciate it if he spread the word about his earlier break-down.

When Scorpius eventually came through the door, Albus stared in shock. Scorpius was smiling – actually grinning.

“You’ve obviously been doing something naughty,” said Norma.

“Not really, just writing home,” said Scorpius. “Speaking of which, I have something to show you all.”

“Is it poisonous?” asked Norma eagerly, as they clustered round. Albus peered over Scorpius’ shoulder as he drew out a slim brown package.

“Not especially,” said Scorpius. “It’s pictures of my little sister.”
 
 
Current Mood: angryangry
Current Music: I can see for miles (the who)
 
 
 
emma_maelstrom on August 4th, 2007 11:55 pm (UTC)
Goodness, I love these super long fics! Will recomment once I read this glorious chapter.

...yes, it's glorious already.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Candy lipsscoradh on August 4th, 2007 11:58 pm (UTC)
Oh dear. Hope that's a self-fulfilling prophecy!
(no subject) - emma_maelstrom on August 5th, 2007 12:24 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - scoradh on August 5th, 2007 01:01 am (UTC) (Expand)
she's not a girl who misses muchmaudlinrose on August 5th, 2007 12:03 am (UTC)
:D Awwwww. I want to feed Albus cupcakes so ridiculously much.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Entourage: star flowersscoradh on August 5th, 2007 12:05 am (UTC)
*thoughful*

Now I want cupcakes.

And all I have is brioche.

Woe.
(no subject) - maudlinrose on August 5th, 2007 12:52 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - scoradh on August 5th, 2007 12:59 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - boxofdelights on August 9th, 2007 03:14 am (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Blue kissscoradh on August 5th, 2007 12:46 am (UTC)
Thanks for reading!
queen of pain: harry potter: puff draco and harryn_isfor_neville on August 5th, 2007 12:18 am (UTC)
haha, I love that Albus called Scorpius out on being selfish.

so adorable!
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Bellescoradh on August 5th, 2007 12:47 am (UTC)
Sometimes, you just gotta do what you gotta do. :D
upon video review, a do-oversociofemme on August 5th, 2007 12:18 am (UTC)
Aww, adorable! I continue to love the scenes with Draco, and I love that Albus fought with his father like that. So cute!

One thing, though, you might want to go and look up that spell for reducing bruises. ;)
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Blue haired boy w/ phonescoradh on August 5th, 2007 12:49 am (UTC)
omg I'm just a total ditz. D:

Thanks though!
fat girl rules the worldfatgirlrules on August 5th, 2007 12:19 am (UTC)
Awesome. Totally awesome.

I also read both your original fics today, BTW, and I think I am in love with you. Just so you know.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Jesus the Puffscoradh on August 5th, 2007 12:50 am (UTC)
Okay that's cool, especially if you read the ofics. :D
karadin on August 5th, 2007 12:26 am (UTC)
Yay for Albus again! I like him so much more than his father! Thanks for another sparkling chapter.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Atobe: So awesomescoradh on August 5th, 2007 12:51 am (UTC)
Ooh, sparkling. I do so like that word. *twirls*
Bellebelleamant on August 5th, 2007 12:29 am (UTC)
I ended this chapter saying, "awwwww". That's adorable, and hey, maybe Scorp's parents understand how lonely it can be as an only child. -Belle
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Death of Ratsscoradh on August 5th, 2007 12:53 am (UTC)
I loved being an only child for the seven years that I was one, but others have told me that it's quite tough. Scorpius has done his time, anyway. :D
Remus Buttplug Face: harry sevietlazy_daze on August 5th, 2007 12:32 am (UTC)
OMG, Albus. I want to adopt him. <3
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Kitties: hammockscoradh on August 5th, 2007 12:53 am (UTC)
Don't know how fun he'd be IRL, though - he comes off as a bit of a pontificating ass. :P But you're welcome!
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(no subject) - scoradh on August 5th, 2007 12:55 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - scoradh on August 5th, 2007 12:54 am (UTC) (Expand)
mrsquizzical: harryronholdinghandsmrsquizzical on August 5th, 2007 12:45 am (UTC)
love albus. love the dealing with prejudice etc.

i found harry's parenting style a little difficult to 'believe', but adored everything else about this chapter.

i'm looking forward to more.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Bookishscoradh on August 5th, 2007 12:56 am (UTC)
Hmm, interesting - in what sense unbelievable? If you mean the lying part, I've always found that parents lie to their children. Everyone lies. I remember the 'lies to wizards' part of The Science of Discworld (it was about the only thing I understood). Anyway, do tell! I'm a little worried. :D
(no subject) - mrsquizzical on August 5th, 2007 01:03 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - scoradh on August 5th, 2007 01:13 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - mrsquizzical on August 5th, 2007 01:20 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - entr0ki on August 10th, 2007 01:42 am (UTC) (Expand)
The Rec Ho...ravenqueen55 on August 5th, 2007 12:51 am (UTC)
Lovely. Very, very lovely. This fic is fantastic!
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Silver Pair: painfully cutescoradh on August 5th, 2007 12:57 am (UTC)
Thank you ver' much!
Octoroks: cheese happy joy milkoctoroks on August 5th, 2007 01:17 am (UTC)
I enjoyed this chapter greatly; Scorpius' response to Celerity was hysterical, but I think it was very in-character for a child who'd grown content with a life of undivided attention and abundant affection. Poor Scorpius, but not really. ;)

I too was going to point out the Editor's Note thing, but I see someone beat me to it. I thought it was kind of funny, actually-- Albus had a generic robot moment.

Really, there's nothing I don't love about this fic, at this point. You're a brilliant writer, well on par with professional works (as I've mentioned before) and your language choices work beautifully for the situations at hand:

"Scorpius squeezed Albus’ hand to the point of bone damage."

I still love this line. It's a great way to say, "IT REALLY HURT" without saying, "It really hurt," which is what 80% of writers would do. Not to say that I'm not guilty of a lack of literary creativity (Considering that I have to pull my own teeth to finish a fic at all, I ought to have no say on the prowess of fanfiction writers) but really, the way you spin sentences, and the words you use to make them, (Draco as an "albino seal"? Hilarious.) impress me greatly.

It's stories like this that made me wish I knew more synonyms, because you describe things in one word that would take me a sentence and a half to write. Curse you, English language, for being so damn big!

(I also noticed, in another comment, that you are a Terry Pratchett fan. Is he not le amazing?)
Octoroks: ludo dumb idiot duroctoroks on August 5th, 2007 01:19 am (UTC)
I just realized how many grammatic mistakes I made in that last post. This is why I need to preview things before I post them. Bad comma key, BAD.
(no subject) - scoradh on August 5th, 2007 03:24 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - scoradh on August 5th, 2007 11:51 am (UTC) (Expand)
ura_hdura_hd on August 5th, 2007 01:20 am (UTC)
Love this chapter.

I remember how upset I was when my younger brother was born. And I was only two! I love my brother a lot. I guess jealously at that age is common.

Very cute chapter!

Harry seems a bit out of character. I cannot see him remaining so prejudiced.

every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Bookishscoradh on August 5th, 2007 07:45 pm (UTC)
I reckon jealousy between siblings is the standard rather than otherwise. I hate nothing more than 'I WUV U 4EVER' blood-is-thicker-than-water stuff.

JK did say that he and Draco could never be friends, EVER. (In interviews.) I'm putting out one reason why they're not - that Harry never did like Draco, IRL, and that he doesn't trust him. Harry has good reason not to trust him as well, as does Draco in reverse. If I step outside of the H/D mindset, that's what I see.
nwfairy: ASSnwfairy on August 5th, 2007 01:26 am (UTC)
I think the fight between Harry and Albus was the best! way to show off his charater.

Love Scorp. LOVE LOVE

And Rambo eats away at my heart!
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Death of Ratsscoradh on August 5th, 2007 07:50 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I needed to get it in somewhere.

I hope it tastes of candy, for his sake. :D
(Deleted comment)
every Starbucks should have a polar bearscoradh on August 5th, 2007 07:51 pm (UTC)
Glad you're liking it! Your icon is so colourful; I ♥ it!
Redapplesgreen2 on August 5th, 2007 01:50 am (UTC)
"Albus stared at his father, his lip curled in an unconscious imitation of Scorpius." - Yeah,well,that was a brilliant one! Must be really hard for Harry to see his own son's face having an undoubtedly Malfoyish expression!! But,come to think of it,it wasn't any better for Draco to see Harry's face on HIS son's best friend.. And,yeah,I fully understand you aren't planning anything even remotedly *romantic* for H/D but they still have a huge history of their own,right? And it still..cute and heart-melting.
Never liked WIP stories before-coz I'm extremely impatient,see-but now I think maybe that makes the pleasure last..
And it's indeed a pleasure reading your story,thank you!Don't make the waiting too long though,please!
every Starbucks should have a polar bearscoradh on August 5th, 2007 07:55 pm (UTC)
At this point, when my romantic interests are centred on the new generation, I think it would be more poignant to bring Harry and Draco to some kind of rapprochement. Not even a close friendship, but just an acknowledgement of their past.

Yes, hunger is the best sauce, or something. :D I'll do my best to at least get first-year finished up soon.
Camden: AS/SPicabusing_sarcasm on August 5th, 2007 01:59 am (UTC)
Lovelovelove this! I love that Scorpius was jealous of his little sister, but then managed to turn into the proud big brother. So cute!
every Starbucks should have a polar bearscoradh on August 5th, 2007 07:57 pm (UTC)
Once he worked out his Issues sure he was fine. Like Albus said, Celerity will take years to come anywhere close to rivalling him. At which point he'll probably beat off her admirers with sticks, or something. @D
shamelesslyrori on August 5th, 2007 02:16 am (UTC)
I'm really enjoying this story. I like that you continued the magic in the Dursley family with Rambo. I can't wait to see more!
every Starbucks should have a polar bearscoradh on August 5th, 2007 08:01 pm (UTC)
I've thought for years that Petunia deserved a wizard/witch in her bloodline. Besides, it would drive Vernon absolutely bananas! And when is that ever a bad thing? :D
Racey Lacey: socuteklasie on August 5th, 2007 02:17 am (UTC)
You hinted at Malory Towers and INSTANTLY I knew the Malfoys were having another kid. But reading it was even better than guessing. And Celerity is is such a pretty name, even if it does remind me of celery. In fact, when I first read it, that's what I thought the poor kid's name was, Celery, and I spit my cinnamon Life out on my step-sister. She wasn't pleased, so I'm blaming you.

Seriously though, that was lovely. Very in keeping with 11 year olds. And I love Norma's punching card.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Such a teasescoradh on August 5th, 2007 08:04 pm (UTC)
I love the way people know about Malory Towers! One of my favourite series as a kid. (Not that the boarding school I went to was remotely like it. Woe). It reminds me of celery too, but at the same time has a nice ring to it. It means something nice as well (which unfortunately has slipped my mind).

Ooh, cinnamon life? That sounds very sci-fi. :D

I don't think her victims would share your enthusiasm...!
Grand High Supreme and Mighty Empress Connieconuly on August 5th, 2007 02:27 am (UTC)
Love it! Every last little bit.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Adoredscoradh on August 5th, 2007 08:07 pm (UTC)
I'm impressed! Thank you.
Scarletscarletscarlet on August 5th, 2007 02:30 am (UTC)
Oh, wow, this fic is completely marvellous! And you're updating so quickly, hurrah! The kids interact beautifully; it all feels so natural and fluid. A complete dream to read, I'm really loving it :-).
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Death of Ratsscoradh on August 5th, 2007 08:10 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Your icon makes me want to age them up really quickly so they can have wild hot monkey sex in the Clubhouse. :DDD

Alexisjapanimecrazed on August 5th, 2007 02:41 am (UTC)
Great chapter! The tension between Albus and Harry is nicely done. I can't wait to see where you go with this!
every Starbucks should have a polar bearscoradh on August 5th, 2007 08:12 pm (UTC)
Like Harry says, Albus has his temper x2. Plus, he's 11 - Harry ain't gonna take him seriously for at least a decade. :D
Rik: Whoa.returnofwolf on August 5th, 2007 02:42 am (UTC)
that was precious!

So... I'm getting the feeling you really weren't a fan of Harry Potter's character :-P

For a kid with not father to speak of while growing up, he's doin' a real bang up job of giving his kids what he didn't have... Though from a writing perspective, I think your depictions are at least realistic. ;)

Though I don't know about his feelings on Draco... Draco, who never actually followed through on ANY Death Eater orders, and Harry was a direct witness to all of his defiances and failures. I'm not saying he would like him, per se, but I'm not convinced he would hate him so much this far down the line. Especially since Draco seems to be at least civil with not only Neville, but Harry's own child.

Maybe I'm just babbling... And don't think I don't like the story, 'cause damn I do! Just kinda thinkin' "out loud"...

Anyway, I think you should find someone to draw some depictions of the gang. It'd be pretty cool :)

Keep it up!


-Z
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Nanjiroh: youngscoradh on August 5th, 2007 08:20 pm (UTC)
TBH, I've never thought about it one way or another. The only character I really liked was Luna, and she was an underused side character if ever there was one. I took the rest of the characters as they came. I think I found Harry useful, in that shipping him with Draco, Neville or George came in handy. He's interesting in the sense that he's the reluctant hero with a nasty temper and a short-sightedness not merely visual. I wouldn't say I don't like him, but trying to make him out to be a perfect superhero? Not my game.

I didn't intend to present Harry as hating Draco. He never saw Draco as a person, imo; he saw him as an example of all that was wrong with wizarding society. Whatever Draco's better attributes, his redeeming qualities, we never saw them through Harry's eyes. Bravery and honesty are important to Harry; survival and cunning to Draco. In a sense JK is right in saying ne'er the twain shall meet.

That Draco is civil to his old classmates is something I did, not JK. It's OOC, really, while Harry's behaviour is less so. I know it sounds kind of bogus, because I guess we both have fandom opinions clouding our judgement; but Harry does have a brooding and resentful temper. In the end, he's worried for his kid, and that's not going to help him retain his slim hold on rationality.

And I hope this doesn't come across as an 'OMG DON'T CRITICISE MY WORK PEON!' I need to hear people's concerns, but I also need to justify my decisions. :D

I'd like some artses too! I'll have to keep my fingers crossed.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) on August 5th, 2007 11:18 pm (UTC) (Expand)
i'd kiss you if you weren't so damn ugly: It's okay here...takewing on August 5th, 2007 02:47 am (UTC)
They are so adorably eleven years old in this chapter, all of them, and it makes me so happy. :D

Oh, and Christine Ohtori? Do I sense a Prince of Tennis name reference there? Can't be anything ELSE, so I must!
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Silver Pair: painfully cutescoradh on August 5th, 2007 08:24 pm (UTC)
GOD I WISH I KNEW HOW I ACHIEVED THAT. I mean, what if the knack just goes away? >.>

Yes you do! (Oh, Choutarou.) Personally I find the Asian physiognomy quite attractive, so all the first-years do too!