Monday 15 August 2016

Rose, A Harry Potter fanfic - Chapter Four

[This is a work of ‘fanfiction’, essentially a tribute to the world created by JK Rowling. No infringement of copyright is intended, and neither is any commercial exploitation.]
Previous Chapters

Chapter 4
It wasn't easy being Scorpius Malfoy. For one thing, you had to deal with your grandfather being a raving lunatic. For another, everyone in your school thought it awfully suspicious that you weren't exactly like him, or at the very least, like your father. For that matter, Scorpius found himself terribly confused when it came to his father. He'd read enough to know that his father had done some things in the last war that were pretty despicable, but it didn't square with Draco Malfoy he knew at all. This didn't apply to his grandfather, though – the things he'd allegedly done Scorpius found perfectly believable. Whether it's because of Dad or Old Crazy, I don't know, but it'd certainly be nice if Rose and her whole family didn't act like I had a particularly contagious strain of dragon-pox, he thought as he rode the broom towards Hogsmeade. Not a bad broom at all! In fact it's way smoother than the old “Thunderbird 7” that I use at school! He looked closely at the handle to check for the brand and model number, but to his surprise he found none. If anything, the broom looked rather old, but he was an experienced flyer – best Seeker Slytherin had had in years – and he knew he was sitting on a very fine piece of wood indeed. Should check it out later, he told himself and then his thoughts turned, as they so often did, to Rose again.

What was it about her that he found so fascinating? He had often asked himself that. It shouldn't be that difficult to fathom, after all, Scorpius was firmly convinced that Rose was probably the only person in Hogwarts who didn't realise how unbelievably beautiful she was. But it wasn't just her thick brown hair, delicate features and slender waist that he found irresistible. Wasn't she the first 'friend' he had made back on the Hogwarts Express? Wasn't she the girl who had stood up for him back in their second year when James Potter and his friends had tried to hex him for no better reason than that 'He's a Malfoy'? Hadn't she been the one who always laughed at his jokes in class, who attended all his Quidditch matches and clapped loudest when he caught the snitch (even against Gryffindor)? Wasn't she just the sweetest, gentlest...

His reverie was interrupted by the appearance of the rooftop of the cottage that housed Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes – easily identifiable by the prominent “W” that was emblazoned across it. Socrpius eased into a landing on the tarmac outside the shop, only to be greeted by a “Closed for Business” sign hung on the door.

He dismounted the broom and walked over to the shop-front. A number of products were on display – the classics like the Skiving Snackbox and the Canary Creams jostled for space with the latest innovations like the Mucking Mouse and Stepny Stork.

Bit early to be closed, he thought as he brushed his cloak down, but Rose said I should check in on him, so I guess I should. He knocked on the door, knowing that even if the shop was closed, Mr. Weasley would probably still be inside the shop taking inventory or something. On finding no response for several minutes, Scorpius did what he thought was the most obvious thing in the world – he blasted an “Alohomora!” at the lock, at which it shot open like it had been stung.

The next moment, Scorpius wished he had given up at the first instance and headed off to the Three Broomsticks for a drop of Butterbeer, because he found himself staring down the barrel of what he recognised as a Muggle gun.

            *                      *                      *                      *                      *                     
His first instinct was to run. Scorpius Malfoy had no illusions about being particularly brave. His father had always impressed upon him the importance of minding his own business and he'd largely followed that maxim. The Sorting Hat had detected this as well, of course. Scorpius clearly remembered sitting on that wooden stool and putting on the threadbare hat which said, straight off,

“Ah, another Malfoy – been a while since we had one of you...Slytherin like your father I suppose? Not hard-working enough for Huffflepuff, that I can see and though talented not exactly thirsty for knowledge. How do you feel about Gryffindor?”

“No, my grandfather would slaughter me!” he had said as clearly as he could in his mind.

“Just as I thought. If you're scared of old Lucius I certainly don't think you have any business in the house of the brave at heart. Off to SLYTHERIN with you!”

At some point during this rehashing of his memories Scorpius realised that he would most likely be shot if so much as dared to move.

“Drop that wand,” the man at the other end of the gun shouted.

Scorpius, who had been holding the wand lightly in his right hand, dropped it to the ground without creating a fuss. He allowed himself to get a good look at his captor as he was shoved into the room and the door closed behind him. The man looked old but sprightly and had piercing blue eyes and a thinning head of white hair.

“Wrong time to come breaking and entering, lad,” his assailant said in a mocking tone.

“Was just looking for Mr. Weasley,” said Scorpius. “I'm one of his best customers.”

“Saw a little more than you were looking for, didn't you?” the man said, picking up Scorpius' wand from the floor. “Pretty useless without this little stick, you fellers are. Take your pal Weasley over there – I laid him out cold with a golf club to the head. All the magic in the world ain't no good if you don't have this wand.”

Scorpius looked towards where the man was pointing as he said this, and winced to see George Weasley lying in the corner, a stream of blood trickling down his head from a nasty wound in his left temple. He did appear to be breathing, which was a relief, but Scorpius wondered how much longer.

“I'd just like to...,” he began

“Wondering who I am and how I got here and why I attacked Weasley?”

“No, actually I -”

“I'm not going to tell you, lad, because I will be pumping a bullet through your brain before I put one through Weasley here, just ab-”

He probably didn't have much more to say, given that he had already cocked the gun, but he was prevented from completing even that by the fact that his pants had caught fire.

The effect of feeling one's tender bits do an imitation of popping corn tends to be instantaneous. The gunman screamed, dropped both the gun and Scorpius' wand and fell to the ground in an agony of pain, clutching his crotch.

Scorpius bent to take his wand back and pointed it at the gun, transfiguring it into a screwdriver. This done – and feeling a lot safer for it – he proceeded to cast a binding spell on the man, using magical ropes to tie him up.

“As I was saying, my friend, I'd just like to point out that most wizards can do a little wandless magic, like setting an object on fire. Dashed useful, isn't it? Not a very powerful spell as a rule – the one I lit in your privates is already dying down. Pity – it certainly warmed up the place.”

He walked over to where George Weasley was lying and examined the wound. It didn't look too bad and Scorpius knew a basic healing spell or two, so he was able to stem the flow of blood easily enough. He shook the unconscious man to his senses.

George Weasley was no longer the lissome redhead of two decades earlier. He was quite stout and his hair had begun to thin, but he still had a youthful, smiling face that peeled off years when he gave the trademark Weasley grin. He wasn't exactly grinning when Scorpius helped him to his feet, but that was probably to be expected in the circumstances.

“All right, Mr.W?” asked Scorpius.

“I think so, though I should probably come see Poppy about my head. What on earth's happened here?”

“I think I just happened to come in before this person here shot you with a Muggle gun.”

“A Muggle gun? Most extraordinary! Why in the name of my Uncle Bilius' overcoat would he do that? Did I prank you in a particularly bad way when I was young and didn't know any better, my good man?”

An angry mumble was the only response. Scorpius, always one to do things thoroughly, had ensured that a strand of the magical rope was tightly wound around the man's mouth rendering him speechless.

“I guess I owe you my life, young man,” said George, gently massaging his head. “Wait a minute, aren't you Malfoy's son?”

“I'm Scorpius Malfoy,” was the simple response.

“Well well well, never thought I'd owe a Malfoy anything but a punch in the snooter,” said George, shaking his head as he walked behind the shop counter and reached down, “though I mean no offence to present company, of course. I suppose your father mentioned his rivalry with my family when we were in school together?”

“My father rarely talks about his schooldays, Mr. Weasley,” replied Scorpius. “If that's all, I guess I'll wait outside.”

“Hey, don't get me wrong, kid,” said George earnestly, “I wasn't an angel back then either – we all did and said things I'm sure we find silly now – though I make a living out of encouraging that sort of stuff. Get it out of the system in your school-days and you can be more mature when you're out, I've always felt. Look at that ass Tom Riddle, your grandfather's old friend – was a model student in  his Hogwarts days and broke out into quite a blaze of very opprobrious behaviour in later life. Butterbeer?”

Scorpius couldn't help smiling. He was used to being defensive about his family and their former connections, especially around anyone connected with the Weasleys. But this man seemed to have a knack for taking things in his stride and putting a humorous perspective on them. Scorpius decided George Weasley was his favourite member of the Potter-Weasley clan barring, of course, Rose. Since everyone else he knew from the clan had hexed him at least once, this wasn't a very difficult rating to make.

“Wouldn't mind a sip,” he said, and perched himself on a stool. “What do you intend to do about our friend here?”

“Call the Auror squad I guess. D'you think he's actually a muggle?”

“Or a squib. Don't you know him at all? Why would he come here of all places?”

“Very puzzling, given that I keep all my money in Gringotts. For a non-magical person to risk trying to rob a wizard...well he almost did until you came in, of course. How did you take care of him?”

“Wandless incendio,” replied Scorpius, accepting the bottle that was offered to him. “Lit up his privates quite nicely. Observe the burn marks.”

“Exhibit duly noted. That's not a bad piece of magic there – very good work. He'd have shot me for sure if you hadn't?”

“He'd have shot me first. Do you think we should interrogate him?”

“I'll owl the Auror department. Hope they get here soon.”

Scorpius continued to sip his drink while the older man sent his owl.

“So - Scorpius, did you say your name was?”

“Yes. Don't ask me why. I wasn't consulted.” He smiled wryly.

“The sins of the parents, young man – I have a sister called Ginevra. So while we wait – whatever happened to Draco Malfoy? He completely dropped out of everyone's sight after the war until a few years ago when he resurfaced at the Hogwarts Express platform.”

“Dad pretty much had to drop out of sight. The Ministry confiscated the family property and left us with nothing to live on. I'm told we were rich before the war.”

“Loaded. Lucius Malfoy was one of the richest wizards in Great Britain. The Ministry did sort of extract a heavy price for not putting your family in Azkaban.”

“Well I never knew that life. Dad wasn't likely to get a paying job in the Wizarding World either after that, so he took a house in a Muggle neighbourhood in Surrey with what we got from selling the few artifacts we had left and took a job in a Muggle company selling lawnmowers. It was a struggle – still is. Grandpa lives with us and he's plain off his rocker – can't stop talking about the old days and shouts and yells sometimes to be reunited with the dark lord. Grandmother is mostly just depressed and silent. Dad's rather reserved and distant with all of us, like he's weighed down by the responsibility of caring for us. I almost think he was disappointed I turned out magical and not a squib like Mom, since it meant he had to re-enter the Wizarding world.”

“Your mother is Daphne Greengrass' sister, right? I remember Daphne – very beautiful girl. Never saw Astoria, she being a squib and stuff. Where'd she go to school?”

“King's, Warwick. Mom's pretty much the one who's kept us going – she's been a pillar of strength and support for us through it all.”

“I know the feeling,” said George softly. “Are you going back to Hogwarts now? It's pretty late.”

“I promised to wait for Rose here, so I'll stay if you don't mind – it's very strange but she actually told me to come here and check if you were all right.”

“Rose? Ron's daughter? Did she say any more? Where's she?”

It occurred to Scorpius that he had left Rose very clearly trying to hide from something or someone. This would be a tricky one to get out of.

“I left her back at school, I guess. She couldn't get away because she was playing Wizard's chess with Moose but said she'd be coming along later. Then she seemed to remember something and asked me to check on you – said she'd seen something in Divination and though she was sure it was a load of humbug she thought it best to be safe.”

“Don't tell me the girl is turning out to be a seer. Hermione would be scandalized. Wonder when those damn Aurors will get here. Are you sure you've got our friend bound tight?”

“Quite sure. You can ask your nephews how effective the spell is,” Scorpius responded with a sly smile. “Though I suppose at times like this one wishes telephones worked in Hogsmeade.”

“Tsk tsk...these family feuds...on the other hand, I suppose the Potters give as good as they get?”

“I like to think I have the upper hand, Mr. Weasley.”

George shook his head with a smile and opened another bottle – this time of Firewhiskey.

“Care for a drop?”

“I probably shouldn't.”

“I'll probably regret it too, since this is some of my best stock. So, tell me – what goes on within the noble walls of Hogwarts nowadays? Do they still remember the Weasley twins?”

            *                      *                      *                      *                      *         

Scorpius couldn't remember the last time he had spent as pleasant an evening, despite the fact that he had nearly been killed and the would-be murderer had fixed a baleful glare on them all the time. They put a deafening charm on him and treated him like a piece of furniture. Scorpius had been raised, as he had said, in a Muggle neighbourhood and had little exposure to magic outside his own home. Hearing George Weasley talk about Hogwarts in his day, living under the shadow of the Dark Lord's second coming, about Dumbledore, Umbridge, Snape and all those relics of a bygone era made what he had read in the history books somehow become more alive. His father never spoke about it, though he had a part in it, and Scorpius knew little of what role his family had actually played beyond the fact that his grandmother Narcissa had, at one point of time, held the fate of the war in her hand. This he knew because he had read about it in the Daily Prophet archives in the Hogwarts school library – it was the report on the war trials in which Lucius and Narcissa Malfor had been given a suspended sentence in view of the 'extenuating circumstances put forth by Harry Potter'. He'd read about the heroes of the war as well – about Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. About Neville Longbottom, who had killed Nagini, the Dark Lord's monstrous familiar. About Theodore Nott, the only Slytherin to return with Professor Slughorn to fight on the side of what was right. About Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks, whose son Teddy had been the head boy a couple of years before Scorpius had entered Hogwarts. About the Creevy brothers, only one of whom had survived the war.

Talking to George Weasley was like living a part of that history. Here was someone who had been in it, who had lost a brother and was living with the scars every day – in a way, just like his father who lived with the scars of having chosen the losing side.

They didn't even see the lengthening shadows outside as the darkness crept up and twilight gave way to night. In fact they were both rather surprised when they heard the clock chime for seven in the evening even as a knock sounded on the door.

“Must be the Aurors,” said George walking to the door, which opened to admit Harry Potter.

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