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02 August 2007 @ 06:32 pm
HP fic: The Fifth Road Less Travelled  
HP fic: The Fifth Road Less Travelled
This part: 5411 words, PG-13, ships but foreshadowed for now
Warning: contains spoilers for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows



Be in me as the eternal moods
of the bleak wind, and not
As transient things are –
gaiety of flowers.
Have in me the strong loneliness
of sunless cliffs
And of grey waters.
Let the gods speak softly of us
In days hereafter.

(Ezra Pound)

Albus had been banging his hands together all the way up from the Entrance Hall, but the snow hadn’t fallen off his gloves yet. Albus wouldn’t have been even a little surprised to learn that it was enchanted snow, designed to stick to everything it touched in general and to the sponge-like robes of detention students specifically.

His teeth were chattering like castanets by the time he found the safe haven of the Clubhouse. All four of his friends were relaxing inside, enjoying their last evening at Hogwarts for 2016. Norma was the first to look up, and she frowned at the puddles Albus was dripping into the floor.

“You look like a dirty icicle,” she said, and scooted over so he could take her place nearest the fire.

“I may look like an icicle, but I feel like a glacier.” Albus hissed at the pain as he held out his freezing hands to the fire.

“Here’s your wand.” Rambo closed Twenty Amazing Things You Can Do With Twigs, If You Have Enough of Them. He pulled Albus’ wand out of his robes’ pocket. “Scorpius stopped me from sitting on it twice, but I think it’s okay.”

Albus pointed his wand at the fire, which sparked blue for a second. “Yeah, it’s fine. Besides, it has some pretty powerful anti-breakage charms on it.”

“Ollivander doesn’t use anti-breakage charms,” said Scorpius from a darkened hammock. “I read somewhere that he considers that they interfere with the caster’s magic.”

“Well, this isn’t an Ollivander – it’s a Lovegood,” said Albus. “She’s noted for experimenting with her wands, so whatever she learned from Ollivander she probably improved on.”

Scorpius snorted. “I wouldn’t trust a Lovegood wand as far as I could spit it.”

“Then it’s a good thing you don’t have to,” said Albus. He caught Titania’s eye and they both shared a long-suffering look. Scorpius had been extremely antsy all week, snapping at the least provocation and inventing arguments out of the air.

Everyone else in their group, as well as the rest of the castle, was delighted at the thought of going home. Even those staying behind anticipated a good time. Professor Longbottom had instituted a new tradition for dressing the Hogwarts Christmas trees: each House got to decorate three. Albus was quite proud of the tree he and the three youngest years of Hufflepuff had decorated. With the aid of the Charms Club members, they’d transformed ordinary gravel into sparkling amber teardrops the size of Albus’ head. These they’d all helped to hang in the branches. Albus had been the one to come up with the idea of enchanting snow to fall continuously in little showers, although he hadn’t created the magic. He’d been far better disposed towards snow before he’d been forced to spend three hours outside shovelling it.

Albus gathered that, in Slytherin House, there’d been a lottery to decide who got to decorate the Slytherin trees. Scorpius had failed to make the cut, but most of the first-years hadn’t, Norma included – and she wasn’t remotely in the doldrums about it. Albus was ready to admit that their system worked on one level, for the Slytherin trees were surely the most magnificent of all (no matter how many denied it). He personally preferred the Hufflepuff way of doing things, but that was why he’d been Sorted there.

The decorating exclusion wasn’t the root of Scorpius’ bad mood, Albus was sure of it. He hadn’t dared to probe since he’d asked Scorpius if he was all right, and Scorpius had said, “Of course I’m bloody all right, you idiot – do I look like I have anything wrong with me?” before storming off. That had been four days ago, and by now everyone was heartily sick of him.

“So, what did Penwyn make you do this time?” asked Norma, after an uncomfortable little silence had passed.

“Handed me over to Goyle,” said Albus. Titania and Rambo shuddered in tandem. The scowling, foul-tempered caretaker was loathed by all except the Slytherins, to whom he displayed a small measure of fondness. And even the Slytherins merely tolerated him, most of them having a greater regard for personal hygiene than Goyle. “He made me shovel paths through the snow by hand. It wouldn’t have been so bad if they actually went anywhere, but he just took me to one of the rooftop courtyards where no one ever goes. As soon as I’d shovelled from one end to the other, he filled it in and made me do it again.” Albus sighed, looking down at his bright red fingers. “Still, he seemed to enjoy it, which made one of us.”

“Penwyn and Raymond can’t keep this up forever,” said Titania comfortingly.

“No – just until they leave school next June,” said Albus. “Hey, can one of you do a Drying Charm on my robes? I don’t want to catch a cold.”

They all waited a moment to see if Scorpius, the acknowledged proficient at Charms, would offer. But Scorpius remained obstinately silent, his face turned to the wall. Rambo volunteered instead, so Albus stood up and held out his arms. The resulting blast from Rambo’s wand made Albus feel like he’d just been transported to the surface of the sun. He put a hand up to his hair and felt it crackle.

Norma giggled. “You look like you’ve just been electrocuted.”

“What’s that?” said Albus. He smoothed down his robe, trying not to betray his horror as sparks leapt between his fingers.

“I’m sorry.” Rambo wore a penitent look that, after four months of classes with him, Albus knew very well. Every teacher swung between amazement at Rambo’s raw power and worry at his total incapability of controlling it. “I tried to make my magic as small as possible, but obviously it didn’t work.”

“Obviously,” came Scorpius’ scathing voice from the shadows. “Albus, get back from the fire. If you go any redder the house elves will turn you into tomato soup.”

Albus grit his teeth to restrain himself from beating Scorpius around the ear with his wand. “It’s okay, Rambo. I feel a lot warmer now.” He cast about for another topic of conversation. “Ti, did you remember to get The Dragon’s Gullet out of the library for me?”

Titania clapped her hands to her mouth. “I forgot! Oh no.”

“I’ll get it out in the morning.” Albus waved his hand to shush her. “Besides, I asked Mum and Dad to buy it as a Christmas present.”

“What are you getting, Norma?” asked Rambo. Norma looked thoughtful.

“Well, I asked for a Poisoner’s Starter Kit, but I’ve asked for that the last three years running and never got it,” she said. “Mum and Dad think I’m joking. So maybe a new broomstick for next year.”

“Our old ones are getting rather small,” Titania agreed. “Maybe Aunt Hannah –”

“I have to finish packing,” announced Scorpius. He kicked back the hammock so hard all the pillows fell on the floor and stalked out. The door slammed behind him, shaking the windows in their frames.

Albus felt the tension drain out of his shoulders. “Okay, does anyone have any idea what’s wrong with that boy?”

“We thought you’d know,” said Norma. “You are his best friend.”

“You live with him,” Albus pointed out.

“Only nominally – we spend more time here than in our common room, and we don’t exactly share dormitories. Slytherin may be insubordinate, but it’s not that insubordinate.”

“I’ve got nothing,” said Albus. “You don’t suppose he ... doesn’t want to go home?”

He saw his own concern echoed in the fire-lit faces around him. Each and every one of them was greatly looking forward to seeing their families, celebrating the year’s end and mostly opening presents. The only fly in Albus’ soup was the prospect of being cooped up in the same house as James once more, and the others didn’t even have that to mar their enjoyment.

“He could always stay here,” said Titania at last. “Lots of people do ... the OWL and NEWT students especially ...”

“It wouldn’t be much fun unless we were there,” said Albus. “I’d stay to keep him company, but I really want to go home, too.”

“I’ve been looking forward to going home for weeks,” admitted Rambo, and Norma nodded.

“Listen, we can all write to him lots,” she said. “Rambo, you could borrow a school owl for the holidays. We’ll get his address tomorrow morning, before we leave. It’s the best we can do at short notice.”

Albus agreed. He wanted to feel sorrier for Scorpius than he did, but Scorpius’ recent behaviour had tested his patience to the limits. If only Scorpius would just talk to him. As Albus sat by the fire, trying to pretend he wasn’t sniffling with the beginnings of a cold, his resolution grew. Tomorrow he would corner Scorpius and demand to know what was wrong with him. It was the very least Scorpius owed him, as a friend.

The Guardian shelf rang out for curfew. Albus patted Mouse as he was leaving. Mouse would be safer here than at home, within reach of James’ wiles.

“Hey, look,” said Titania, picking up a book from the shelf under the Guardian’s. “It’s Scorpius’ copy of The Dragon’s Gullet. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind if you borrowed it – I’ve never even seen him open it.”

As Albus took the book from her, he saw that it was true. The spine was smooth as cream, the pages as fresh as if they’d come straight from a printer’s. Albus had his own doubts about Scorpius’ willingness to let him borrow the book, even if he had shown about as much interest in it as a dead insect, but he took it anyway.

“I’ll ask him tomorrow,” he promised himself.

He didn’t linger in the Hufflepuff common room once he’d arrived. In the last few weeks, Penwyn and Raymond had made it their aim to accost him at every opportunity and lumber him with pointless detentions. He’d already accrued six, in addition to the two he’d previously served. He was dreading having to explain that to his parents, especially as James had doubtless already informed them.

Since Titania had knocked Raymond out, the two seventh-years had been on the warpath. Albus was given to understand that a stern talking-to from the Headmistress had put a definitive end to their conversations on the Never-ending Parchment. This had come about before Raymond apologised to Scorpius, if he was ever intending to. Not realising that Titania had been involved, and not having easy access to Scorpius, the brunt of their ire fell on Albus. Titania and Rambo had both offered to confess to their complicity, but Albus saw no reason why they should all suffer. Besides, the whole thing had been his idea from the beginning.

Albus made it to his dormitory detention-free. Rambo was in the bathroom, cleaning his teeth. Conan and Eoghan were already abed, exhausted from the festivities that had been raging in the common room and beyond since classes ended. Eoghan was snoring like a hippopotamus, as always. Albus once more reminded himself to get a Sound-Proofing Spell from Aunt Hermione at the first opportunity.

He flicked through The Dragon’s Gullet once before laying it in his trunk. His eye was caught by a handwritten dedication on the fly-page. Under the printed inscription, Another one for my son, which appeared in every book, were the words:

Dear Scorpius: here is your advance copy, as always. I hope that you will enjoy it. I miss you every day, as does your mother. This book carries both our love. Stay safe. Father.

The cogs in Albus’ brain began to whir. An advance copy from Scorpius’ father could only mean one thing: either that he worked with VD Wallflower, or that he was VD Wallflower.

Albus’ delight at the discovery was promptly quenched when he recalled Scorpius’ attitude towards the book. Never even opened it, Titania had said; and not one mention of his father’s literary achievements had passed Scorpius’ lips. Albus could understand the need for famous people to keep their privacy – Dad had fought in the last Great War and for some reason people were always pestering him about it. But for Scorpius not to confide in his closest friends – that was almost cruel.

Resolutely, Albus folded the book in a spare robe. Tomorrow, he vowed. Tomorrow.

+_+_+

Albus galloped down the stairs to the Entrance Hall, his trunk thumping behind him on every step. His robes were askew, his hair was unspeakable, and he was late.

The Entrance Hall was awash with people of all sizes, from teachers vainly trying to maintain order and parents in robes of every hue, to small siblings come to welcome their brothers and sisters home. Albus caught a glimpse of Lily’s beflowered pumps and hared after them.

His parents were standing near the door, Dad’s hand resting lightly on Mum’s back. Albus’ face broke into a huge smile. “Dad!” he yelled. Despite the roar of noise, Dad’s head turned towards Albus. When he spotted his son, Dad left Mum’s side and held out his arms.

“You’re not too grown-up for a hug, are you?” he asked.

“Of course not,” said Albus joyfully, and buried his head in Dad’s chest. He could feel Mum’s hand in his hair, smell her lilac perfume. After a minute he wriggled away – it was hard to talk into Dad’s robes.

“Sorry I’m late,” he said. “My dorm-mate Eoghan turned off all the alarms last night because he’s not leaving till four o’clock and he wanted to sleep in –”

“Don’t worry about it, love,” laughed Mum. “We’re still waiting for James to show. We caught Rose and she told us he’s saying goodbye to hordes of admirers.”

Albus rolled his eyes. Of course James couldn’t have bid farewell to his friends last night, like a normal person. “In that case, I have one more person to say goodbye to. Can I?”

“Make it quick,” Dad advised. “You know James’ll want to be off the moment he’s finished. And if you see your little sister and Hugo, please tell them to come find us. I don’t trust James not to forget about them.” He smiled at Mum as if it were a joke, although Albus knew it wasn’t.

“I will,” said Albus, so Dad heard. He left his trunk with them and wriggled back through the crowd.

His search for Scorpius proved fruitless and, as the minutes ticked away, Albus started to worry about keeping Mum and Dad waiting. He didn’t care so much about James, although he knew James would whine about it all the way home.

He was on the point of turning back for the door when he spotted a tall blonde man deep in conversation with a wizened house elf. Many parents had brought their servants with them to help with the luggage, so it was not that which made Albus stop and stare. Rather, it was the man’s remarkable similarity to Scorpius. Just so did Scorpius stand when he was impatient, with his arms crossed and his mouth tightened. Their bone structure matched exactly, down to the long, narrow nose and triangular chin. Although this man’s hair was straight and somewhat faded, he couldn’t but be Scorpius’ father.

Fingering Scorpius’ copy of The Dragon’s Gullet, which reposed in his pocket, Albus quickly smoothed down his hair and walked over to the man. He waited politely for the man to finish chastising his house elf and notice Albus, which he did in due course.

“May I do something for you, young man?” asked the blonde wizard. His narrowed eyes were stormcloud grey to Scorpius’ midnight blue, but otherwise identical in expression.

“Yes – I couldn’t help noticing – are you Scorpius’ dad?” Albus cursed his fumbling words. There was something disapproving, even hateful, in the man’s gaze.

“I am Draco Malfoy, yes. You’re a Potter.”

“Albus Potter.” Albus remembered his manners and held out his hand to shake. “Pleased to meet you, Mr Malfoy.”

Albus watched in astonishment as Mr Malfoy’s face worked rapidly, a variety of strange expressions flickering over it. At last, Mr Malfoy briefly touched palms with Albus and snatched his hand away as if it had been burned.

“I was hoping to say goodbye to Scorpius,” said Albus. “Is he here?”

“I’m afraid not,” said Mr Malfoy. “He has already started the journey home with my wife. Mopsy and I stayed behind to sort out his luggage, which it appears he has not even packed.”

“That’s odd,” said Albus, frowning. “He said last night he was going to finish it off.”

“Last night – forgive me, Po – Albus, but are you friends with my son?”

“Oh, yes.” Albus smiled, a trifle confused. Scorpius’ letters home must be incredibly uninformative. “We’re best friends, although Rambo Dursley is also my best friend. My other best friend. Um.” He slipped The Dragon’s Gullet out of his pocket. “I borrowed this from Scorpius. I was wondering if you’d return it to him for me.”

“Of course.” Mr Malfoy took the book from Albus and made to turn away.

“Please, Mr Malfoy – I couldn’t help reading the inscription. Are you VD Wallflower? Or do you know him? I’m such a big fan.”

“You are a fan of VD Wallflower?”

Albus nodded enthusiastically. “He’s awesome! I used to pretend I was Berto Blastnoggin all the time. In Bearding the Lion, when he faces down a griffin with just a net of Billywig leaves –”

“Albus, there you are. We’ve been looking for you every –” Dad’s voice trailed off, and when he spoke again he sounded like he was choking on something. “Malfoy.”

“Potter.” Mr Malfoy looked over Albus’ head, staring at Dad. James was hanging off Mum’s arm, complaining that he was hungry, but for once Mum paid him no mind. A small hand found its way into Albus’. He looked down at Lily’s worried face.

“We thought you’d got lost,” she whispered.

“Don’t worry, I can’t get lost in Hogwarts,” he said. “And neither will you, when you come here.”

Lily smiled and snuggled against his side. Mr Malfoy had turned back to his house elf and Dad and Mum were sharing one of their Grown-Ups Only looks. James had already started to move Mum towards the door. Albus reached out and tugged Mr Malfoy’s sleeve. Lily hid her face in Albus’ arm when Mr Malfoy glared down at him.

“Yes?”

“I hope Scorpius will write to me,” said Albus. He fished out a scrap of parchment and pressed it into Mr Malfoy’s hand. “He never gave me his address, but here’s mine.”

“I’ll see that he gets it.”

“Thanks.” Albus smiled jubilantly. “Merry Christmas!”

“Merry Christmas,” echoed Mr Malfoy.

Albus led Lily to the courtyard, where Dad’s green Buick was waiting. Lily climbed into Mum’s lap in the front seat, where Hugo was already ensconced. Rose and James were deep in conversation in the back seat.

Dad’s eyes were troubled. He put a hand on Albus’ shoulder to stop him getting in the car. He opened his mouth to say something, but appeared to change his mind. He shook his head instead.

“You’re a good boy,” he said at last. “Brave, too.”

“Not really. Hufflepuffs are loyal, not brave. And there’s all the detentions I got...”

“We’ll discuss those when we get home,” said Dad. He paused. “That – Scorpius. He didn’t get you into trouble, did he? He’s not why you got so many detentions?”

“No,” said Albus. “Actually, I was the one getting him into trouble. But I didn’t mean to, I swear. I can explain.”

“I hope so.” Dad still looked confused, but his eyes were warm. “It sounds like an explanation well worth hearing.”

+_+_+

Albus tugged at the itchy collar of his new dress robes. Beside him, James did the same, and Albus instantly desisted. Lily was the only one who took pleasure in the new clothes, but even for her they were not without hazard. She’d been spinning around so often to make her skirt twirl that she’d nearly got sick.

Mum’s delight had been unalloyed. They all wore versions of the same robes: peacock blue with gold leaves stitched around the hems, with sashes of pale blue for the girls, and belts of interlocking hands for the boys. “We look like a family,” she’d gushed. Albus had longed to ask what they’d looked like before – a group of unrelated monkeys? But it was an unspoken rule that there was to be no fighting on Christmas Day. Even he and James maintained an uneasy truce, helped by the fact that Christmas dinner was always a lavish affair that provided plenty of distraction.

The location of the Christmas feast varied from year to year, depending on which Weasley sibling’s turn it was to host it. This year, it was the Potters’. At the very least, they expected Bill and Fleur Weasley with their two daughters; Percy and Penelope Weasley with their sons, Telemachus and Wulfric; Ron and Hermione Weasley with their two children; George and Charlie Weasley with whatever guests they chose to bring; Teddy Lupin with his grandmother; Grandma and Grandpa Weasley; the Delacours; the Grangers; and the Clearwaters. Most often friends of the hosts’ would come as well, to flesh out an already full-bodied celebration. Mum and Dad had been working flat out all week to prepare. The house was spotless, the decorations were suitably splendid, and the magically extended dining table was groaning with all manner of good things. James had already sneaked three cheese puffs, a crime he was sure to lay at Albus’ door unless Albus tattled on him first.

A hundred guests seemed to arrive at once, chattering loudly and shaking snow off their cloaks. The three junior Potters, whose job it was to collect these cloaks and hang them in the closet, scampered to and fro like rabbits. James soon sloped off with Rose and the Percy Weasleys. Lily trotted around like a little trooper, but she was starting to look tired and grouchy. Albus sent her off to find Hugo and Teddy, with whom she was an especial favourite, before she threw a tantrum.

Albus remained at his post, even as the sounds of conversation and the smell of hors d’oeurves beckoned to him from the sitting room. At last the flow of people slowed to a trickle. Albus opened the door to what he hoped would be the last guest, and saw Uncle George on the doorstep.

“Merry Christmas!” said Albus. “Come in. May I take your cloak?”

“You certainly may.” Uncle George smiled. The movement tugged at the ugly red scar tissue around his ear. James and Rose thought it was disgusting, and Lily was a little frightened of it. Albus couldn’t say he thought the scar beautiful, but there was something fascinating in its very revoltingness. And if you bothered to look past it, you saw that Uncle George had very sad eyes.

Albus hung Uncle George’s cloak in the closet. When he returned to the front door, Uncle George was still there, hovering near the entrance to the sitting room.

“Do you want to get some hors d’oeurves with me?” asked Albus encouragingly. “If we’re lucky James won’t have scoffed all the cheese puffs.”

“I’d like that,” said Uncle George. He ruffled Albus’ hair, which Albus hated because it meant a scolding from Mum for not brushing it properly. But he didn’t mind, especially when Uncle George’s longer reach secured the last tray of cheese puffs and pulled them away from James’ grasping fingers.

They took a seat in an armchair tucked away from the bustle of the main party. Uncle George cast a quick Engorgement Charm so that the armchair easily fit the two of them. Albus was pleased to have company. He always felt a bit left out at family gatherings. Marie-Jeanette, Victoire, Teddy and Telemachus formed one group; James, Rose and Wulfric another. Lily and Hugo were best friends. Usually Uncle George was monopolised by either Aunt Fleur or Aunt Hermione, demanding to know why he hadn’t brought a date. It was a treat for Albus to have someone all to himself.

“Tell me about school,” said Uncle George. “Are you friends with Rose?”

Albus shook his head. “Nope. We’re ... we don’t have much in common.”

Uncle George chuckled. “I’m not surprised. She’s as bossy as her mother, and she’s picked up snobbery from Ron like a virus. Still, she might grow out of it.”

“I hope so.” Albus liked the way Uncle George talked to him like an equal. “I’m sure she’d be a nice girl if she didn’t have so many airs and graces. But that’s why she and James get on so well. My friends aren’t like that.”

“And whose kids are in Hufflepuff these days?”

“Rambo Dursley and Titania Abbott are my friends in Hufflepuff. Rambo sent me some pictures.” Albus pulled out a sheaf of Muggle photographs from within his robes. He showed them to Uncle George. One was of Rambo with his parents: a burly man with a broken nose and a thatch of yellow hair, and a painfully thin woman with the faded face of what had once been great beauty. They were standing outside a handsome white house with a spectacular garden and beaming down at their son. Another picture captured Rambo with his dog, an iron-grey Great Dane called Boxer.

“Dursley ... that sounds familiar,” mused Uncle George.

“Yeah, see Rambo’s dad, there?” Albus pointed. “He’s Dad’s cousin. Dad never told me about him.”

Uncle George’s eyes widened. “I’m not surprised. Dudley Dursley? And you say you’re friends with his son?”

“I am. Why, is that wrong? Do you know why didn’t Dad tell me about his cousin?”

“He lived with the Dursleys when he was young,” said Uncle George, “and he didn’t have a great time there. Rambo’s grandparents were not very nice people. But it’s not really my story to tell. What about this Rambo chap? What’s he like?”

“He’s terribly powerful,” said Albus proudly. “Professor McGonagall says she hasn’t seen such strong magic in all her years of teaching. He’s terrible at Herbology, though, ‘cause he hates getting his hands dirty.”

“Curiouser and curiouser,” murmured Uncle George.

“Titania and Norma sent me that card.” Albus waved his hand at a huge creation taking pride of place on the mantelpiece. It was three inches thick in feathers that the twins had collected from their mother’s aviary – some, Albus suspected, by force. Inside, Norma had written: Here’s hoping for that poisoner’s kit at last! “And Scorpius sent me –”

“Scorpius?” said Uncle George sharply. “As in Draco Malfoy’s son?”

Albus was getting very tired of this reaction. “Yes,” he snapped. “As in Scorpius Malfoy, Draco Malfoy’s son and my very best friend.”

“Isn’t he –”

“Yes, he’s a Slytherin,” said Albus. “And so is Norma. Guess what? Having friends in other Houses isn’t against the law!” He clenched his hand around Scorpius’ gift. “I expected a better reaction from you.”

“And why’s that?” A thunderous expression chased the kindness from Uncle George’s face.

Albus scowled. “You know what? I don’t know! I just thought you’d be different.”

He stomped off to a shadowy alcove by the stairs. He felt hot and irritable, and not all of that was due to his constricting collar. He brushed Scorpius’ bookmark against the tips of his fingers. It had helped to calm him down before; the touch of the soft leather had a strangely soothing effect.

Although Albus had been in regular contact with Rambo and the twins since the holidays began, none of them had heard hide nor hair from Scorpius until his tawny owl tapped at Albus’ window. It carried nothing but the hand-tooled bookmark wrapped in silver tissue paper – not even a note to go with it. The bookmark itself was a treasure, milk-white leather covered over in an intricate design Albus recognised as Scorpius’ own. It looked as if it had been carefully scorched into the leather. The owl had taken flight as soon as Albus retrieved the package, so Albus couldn’t even send a thank-you note. The Christmas card he’d sent to Scorpius had come back with an ‘Unable to Locate’ stamp from the Owl Office.

He was so absorbed in his thoughts that he didn’t notice Uncle George’s approach. He startled when Uncle George sat down on the floor beside him, his long legs incongruously sprawled in front of him.

“The wizarding world’s a small place,” he said. “Prejudices have a long time to fester and nowhere to go. You spent so long in France that maybe you haven’t realised yet just how small England really is, and how miniscule the wizarding community. Draco Malfoy was one of my enemies, but it doesn’t mean Scorpius Malfoy must be one of yours.”

“I should hope not,” sniffed Albus. “The Great War ended nearly twenty years ago. You’re allowed to stop fighting it.”

“That’s easier said than done,” sighed Uncle George. “I wanted to give you something, to make up for earlier.”

“I’d rather you stopped judging people just because of their names,” said Albus stubbornly.

“Take it anyway, to make me feel better.” Uncle George tipped a lacquered box into Albus’ lap. “I was going to give this to James, but ... anyway, you might need it more. Open it.”

Albus obeyed. The lid was screwed on tight and he struggled for a moment before it popped off. Inside were hundreds of tiny, quivering blobs. Albus touched one and it morphed before his eyes, turning the same peacock-blue as his robes and extending little pseudopodia.

“They’re Dysentery Drops,” said Uncle George. “Designed to give any enemy severe digestive discomfort for six hours or more. All you have to do is touch one with your wand, whisper the name of the victim and ‘Run’, and it’ll find them. Provided they’re within a hundred feet of you,” he added. “I’m still working on extending their movement capabilities.”

Albus balanced one in his palm. It instantly became the exact shade of his skin, right down to a dark-brown freckle or two. “They’re cool.”

“I like to think so,” said Uncle George. “I’m developing a new range of sickening sweets. The Lunchbox line needs jazzing up.”

“Thank you, Uncle George.” Albus popped the Drop back in its box and gave Uncle George an impulsive hug. Uncle George laughed in surprise and hugged back.

The doorbell rang. “Gosh, they’re late,” said Albus. “I’d better get their cloaks.”

“I’ll fetch us some more snacks, eh?”

“Great idea!” Albus sprinted for the door and yanked it open, breathless. “Welcome and Merry Christmas!”

“Thanks,” slurred the sandy-haired man standing on the doorstep. He had his arm slung around a buxom witch in low-cut pink robes. Most of her lipstick was on the man’s mouth. “Cherry Mistmas to you too, son.”

“Seamus, you’re drunk!” giggled the witch.

“So are you, me love.” Seamus kissed her soundly on the mouth and Albus drew back, revolted. Dad appeared at the door to the sitting room.

“You made it!” Dad said. Albus didn’t miss how he winced at the fumes on Seamus’ breath when they shook hands. “And who’s this lovely lady?”

“Amanda something,” said Seamus.

“Annette Wilcox,” said the giggly witch. She kissed Dad on both cheeks, leaving behind stripes of war paint.

“You’re very welcome,” said Dad. Albus recognised the tone. Dad used it on such phrases as ‘Your room is such a haven of cleanliness’ and ‘Pulling hair is the best way to resolve an argument,’ in a way that meant the exact opposite. He spotted Albus. “Take Seamus and Annette’s cloaks to the closet, please.”

Albus nodded mutely and let his arms be filled with the sodden wool. He didn’t leave for the closet straightaway; instead he remained, and watched Seamus until he was out of sight. There was something familiar about Seamus’ face. Albus remembered the picture of his mother Conan kept on his trunk. She was a mousy-haired, sweet-faced little woman – barely pretty despite her loving expression. Albus compared her to Annette’s brazen good looks and felt his blood boil.

“Ah, there’s Seamus and his latest squeeze,” said Uncle George, a snarl in his voice. “I wonder if he’ll knock her up too, or have ten bastards taught him the value of a Contraceptive Charm?”

“My dorm-mate, Conan – he looks like –”

Uncle George shook his head. “A very small place, Albus. The wizarding world’s a very small place.”
 
 
Current Mood: surprisedsurprised
Current Music: is this love? (alison moyet)
 
 
 
naggawikkanaggawikka on August 2nd, 2007 05:57 pm (UTC)
Before reading, I have to ay that I've read this fic since you posted the first chapter and I'm defenitively hooked. It's very impressive how you can create so many characters or use the little information we have from the book to make them three dimensionnal and, well, alive. i can't wait to know more about Albus' sickness or his relationship with his brothers, and to see glimpses from Ablus' and Scorpius relationships with their fathers and omg RAMBO! Everyday I come back from work and I come to see if maybe you posted something, and when you did, it makes my day. Thank you!
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: ASS: I want somescoradh on August 2nd, 2007 08:45 pm (UTC)
use the little information we have from the book

That little information, while a hindrance to others, is a boon to me. It means I can do whatever I want without having to go to the effort of world-building. I don't have to break up any homes or change sexual orientations convincingly - it's great!

I'm glad you enjoy it so much, it makes writing it worthwhile. :D
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every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Candy lipsscoradh on August 2nd, 2007 08:47 pm (UTC)
My plots are simplistic, to say the least. ;D But I can haz plans for Seamus, methinks. Wouldn't Albus make a fine matchmaker? He could coerce Seamus into going to Lisdoonvarna...

Sometimes I think ahead. Mostly, though, these things are just coincidence. I don't know who's writing the stories most of the time - but I'm glad you're liking it!
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every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Because the Irish do it betterscoradh on August 2nd, 2007 08:52 pm (UTC)
Is that because you've already figured out what happened, or you just can't be bothered? ;D Obviously I am teh awesome. But not when it comes to icons - I really should just make my own, I guess. *trudes off to delete*
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every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Comic stripscoradh on August 2nd, 2007 08:54 pm (UTC)
At least you didn't spell 'trudges' as 'trudes'. I wonder what truding is? Is it related to prudishness? *headdesk*
ang \\callmeang on August 2nd, 2007 06:18 pm (UTC)
I still love Rambo the mostest. I can't wait to see what will happen next!
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: I'd tap that ♥scoradh on August 2nd, 2007 08:56 pm (UTC)
If I had a No. 1 Rambo fan badge, it would be yours this instant. :D
(no subject) - callmeang on August 3rd, 2007 12:03 am (UTC) (Expand)
wildestranger on August 2nd, 2007 06:19 pm (UTC)
Stiil loving this. Poor little Albus and his Hufflepuff earnestness. Also, I very much enjoyed his encounter with Draco.

And Rambo's name will never stop being funny. :)
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Death of Ratsscoradh on August 2nd, 2007 08:58 pm (UTC)
Considering how much Albus is supposed to look like the young Harry, I imagine that would have been a whole lot of fun for Draco. ;D

It won't. It really won't.
Snakelingsnakeling on August 2nd, 2007 06:36 pm (UTC)
Telemachus and Wulfric? Do they hate their kids or something? :D

I love your Albus and I can completely believe it's a 11-year-old kid. Seeing everything from his perspective is great, too.

Thank you for writing this; I look forward to each instalment :)
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Atobe: So awesomescoradh on August 2nd, 2007 08:59 pm (UTC)
No more than Harry or Draco, to be fair!

Thank you for commenting! It's great that you like it, especially if you think I pull off the eleven-year-old brain. ♥
(no subject) - (Anonymous) on August 12th, 2007 08:06 am (UTC) (Expand)
ura_hdura_hd on August 2nd, 2007 06:44 pm (UTC)
Cool fic! Great chapter!

Somebody should teach Seamus a lesson.

I wonder what the deal is with Scorpius.

I wish Albus and James were better to each other. May be when they are older?


every Starbucks should have a polar bear: SGA: Two of usscoradh on August 2nd, 2007 09:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

All will be revealed in time. *is Dumbledoreish*
queen of pain: harry potter: harry & draco on a broomn_isfor_neville on August 2nd, 2007 06:57 pm (UTC)
I have to wonder if Draco said anything to Scorpius about being friends with a Potter. :)

What a lovely thing to read before I have to go to class!
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Inui: Earphonesscoradh on August 2nd, 2007 09:07 pm (UTC)
I think this Draco's been pretty close-mouthed since the war. Harry, too. :D

Thank you! ♥
Gin: Dean is bashful.backinblack on August 2nd, 2007 07:19 pm (UTC)
The Draco interaction was awesome, and the George, and gosh I just love this story.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Ponder Stibbonsscoradh on August 2nd, 2007 09:17 pm (UTC)
I intend to write George's marriage into this, to make it interview-compliant. Heads-up. Otherwise, thanks! :D
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every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Entourage: Eric/Vincescoradh on August 2nd, 2007 09:19 pm (UTC)
I think you've just summed up the personalities I've given them perfectly! Thank you for reading, and replying. :D
belmanoir: hp so tightly it hurtbelmanoir on August 2nd, 2007 07:31 pm (UTC)
Another chapter! Oh, Rambo, how I love thee. And I adored the bits about the family's matching dress robes---there was just something so Weasley about it. I can't believe George was going to give Dysentery Drops to JAMES, though. I mean, I guess I can, but that is just a disaster waiting to happen!
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: I'm a tigerscoradh on August 2nd, 2007 09:23 pm (UTC)
I love the idea of peacock blue robes, so I totally just shoved them in to satisfy my base desires! :D I suppose George sees James as more like himself, or like Fred; but considering Albus is the only one who has time for him - maybe he realised that.

Er, I should know this, shouldn't I? I mean, I'm WRITING it...

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!
xanphibian on August 2nd, 2007 07:56 pm (UTC)
*smacks Seamus*

I wanted to tell you how much I am enjoying this fic, but ... *smacks Seamus again*

I loved Albus meeting Draco for the first time! That was fabulous. <3 I'm curious about the books, though, and the reason behind the secrecy. (well, I have theories, but I'm eagerly looking forward to seeing the story play out)

Another wonderful chapter!
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art thou a witch?scoradh on August 2nd, 2007 09:35 pm (UTC)
I imagine that for Seamus, it's a common reaction (that or TAKE ME NOW, I guess).

I hope you'll tell me your theories once mine have played out, and we'll see how well they correlate! :D

emma_maelstrom on August 2nd, 2007 09:00 pm (UTC)
UNCLE GEORGE IS THE BESTEST! What a sweetie pie. The part about his "sad eyes" made me sad, too. Poor George...

I wish that Rambo would visit, that would be awesome!
I also wish that Seamus wasn't such a d-bag.

Can't wait for the next part!
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Recyclingscoradh on August 2nd, 2007 09:39 pm (UTC)
I think I'd be sad too - down an ear and a twin. D:

The summer is the time for visiting, hey nonny nonny! *iz lame*

Thanks for readin'!
focus and we'll be flyingfiredraygon97 on August 2nd, 2007 09:31 pm (UTC)
Scorpius' temper tantrum is so...bratty of him, haha. I'm surprised Al never mentioned Scorpius in the letters he writes home or that James never wrote to complain or something. Anyway, great chapter. I'm looking forward to the next update!
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Entourage: star flowersscoradh on August 2nd, 2007 09:40 pm (UTC)
I'm sure Albus did mention Scorpius - and Rambo, and Titania, and Norma - in between detentions - but I don't think his parents quite believed him until he spoke of it. ;D

Thanks!