Chapter 35 : Epilogue
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“Aidan, you seem a bit...distant.”
I’m sitting, glaring out the window of the Hogwarts Express as it comes closer and closer to Kings Cross Station. Remus is sitting in another compartment, trying his best to chat up some Ravenclaw girl in his year (sixth). I don’t expect to see him for this whole train journey.
It’s snowing this year. This is the first Christmas in ages that it’s snowed. I remember it used to snow a bit when I was a kid, but since I’ve started at Hogwarts, we barely get more than sleet at home. Hogwarts itself always gets covered in snow, of course, but by the time you get to London it’s gone without a trace. It’ll be nice to have a white Christmas, I suppose.
My girlfriend, Kate, is looking concerned for me. Really, she should be more concerned for herself with what she’s about to endure.
What the hell was I thinking inviting her to my house for Christmas?
Fuck, Aidan, you really dropped the ball there.
Most families have that weird uncle, or aunt, or mother or granny...
And then there’s my family. Just one big bunch of weirdo’s under the one roof. Bit like Hufflepuff house.
I’m definitely going to get dumped this Christmas. I met Kate’s family last summer. They’re Muggles; her Dad’s an accountant. Her Mum paints and works as a pharmacist. They’re normal.
“Um, Kate, just so you know, my family aren’t like normal families,” I begin to explain to her. The train is slowing down now.
“Aidan, stop,” she smiles at me. She’s really hot. She’s way out of my league, and I’m just pushing my luck by introducing her to my family. I mean, she’s really hot. Fuck, Dom’s going to get territorial and try to claw her eyes out. Dom likes to be the prettiest person in any room. “I’m sure I’ll love your family. I just hope they like me!”
I smile, or at least I try to smile at her, but I’m not sure how comforting it is. Truth is, my family will probably hate her as much as she’s going to hate them. Because they’re not even nice weirdo’s. They’re judgemental and gossiping and sometimes just plain rude. I heard Dom once shot a rat with an actual Muggle gun.
Dom’s going to shoot my girlfriend, isn’t she.
“You’re doing that thing again,” Kate tells me.
“That thing where you live inside your own head and don’t say anything.”
Fuck. My mother does that and it’s really annoying.
The train finally pulls into the station and comes to a complete stop. I make no attempt to get up.
“Come on, we have to get off,” Kate says. “Oh lighten up, Aidan!”
Kate and I charm our trunks to follow us off the train and on to platform 9 and ¾. We both passed our apparition tests, and yet my Dad insisted on picking us up because he recently got a new car, and because my younger brother and sisters like to visit the platform as often as possible. None of them are old enough to go to Hogwarts yet. The twins, Ellie and Michael, will be going the year after next, but thankfully I’ll be well out of there before those two demons – also, definite Slytherins – take over the place.
And Anna is only seven. She is actually the most normal of my entire family, mainly because she has yet to grow into her weirdness. She looks an awful lot like Mum though, so I’m guessing it’s buried deep inside somewhere.
Remus rushes past us to where his mother is waiting for him. He always rushes when Victoire is picking him up at the station so all the other lads don’t eye her up. I hear him shout something like “see you later!” at us, but I can’t imagine why we’ll be seeing him later.
I spot Dad, and am thankful to see that Mum hasn’t come with him. Dad’s, I suppose, normal too, except he can go a bit weird from time to time. He’s holding Anna’s hand, who waves excitedly when she sees me approaching. I look just like my Dad. He’s not even that much older than me (they had me when they were at Hogwarts, and yet they call me irresponsible when I leave the lid of the butter), so some people actually find it a bit creepy just how alike we are.
“He must be your dad,” Kate says straight away when she sees him, before I even point him out.
“Yeah,” I reply.
“He seems normal,” she says brightly.
“I’m just easing you in gently,” I tell her.
When we approach Dad, the twins come into view too. To be perfectly honest, if I didn’t remember Mum being pregnant with them (which I can safely say was the most terrifying nine months of my entire life), I’d say they were adopted. They both have jet black hair and dark eyes, and are pure evil. I’m telling you, they don’t need the Sorting Hat, they’re Slytherins through and through. Apparently they look like my Dad’s Mum, who died when I was six, but I don’t remember her looking like the devil incarnate.
“Aidan!” Dad greets me with a handshake. We stopped hugging when I was twelve. “And you must be Kate, really nice to meet you.”
“Nice to meet you too, Mr Malfoy,” Kate says politely, and shakes his hand too.
“Stop, call me Scorpius,” Dad says. Kate gives me a look. So, I never really told her Dad’s name. That’s probably the weirdest thing about him. Really, who the fuck is called Scorpius?
“Hi Aidan!” Anna jumps on me, and I hug her back. She’s my favourite sibling. I know you’re not supposed to have favourites, but it’s not hard to pick her over the evil twins. “I missed you!”
“Missed you too Anna,” I tell her. “This is Kate.”
“Hi Kate, I’m Anna!” she exclaims loudly.
Dad has expanded the back seat of the car so that we can all fit in. I’ve put Kate in the front seat so she doesn't have to sit with the kids, and Dad talks to her about broomsticks the whole way home. He’s really bad at making conversation, so he just talks about brooms and Quidditch all the time.
“Your Nana Molly is cooking dinner in The Burrow, so we’re just going straight there,” Dad slips into the conversation. Firstly, she’s not my Nana Molly, she’s my mother’s Nana Molly, and secondly, why are they doing this to me?
“James is going to be there, he said he’d teach me how to use fireworks,” Michael says, one of the first things he’s actually said. He can be quite broody, and he was always the quietest of the lot of us.
“Not happening, mate,” Dad tells him firmly, causing Michael to scowl for the rest of the journey.
We arrive at The Burrow, and already I’m feeling embarrassed. I mean, I love The Burrow, but it’s the most rundown looking house in the world. It’s not actually rundown on the inside, because it’s been renovated by magic so many times. Kate, however, seems to find it fascinating, which is good, because from the outside it reads more like ‘Death Trap’ than ‘Nice Place To Be’.
“Dad, Michael has matches!” Ellie squeals as we all pour out of the car; Ellie tells on everyone, that’s her thing. Michael hasn’t even been allowed a training wand since he managed to set our garden shed on fire, so it’s probably a good thing this time that she’s told on him.
Yeah, Michael sets things on fire. That’s his thing.
“Michael! Matches!” Dad shouts.
“C’mon, we’ll go on ahead,” I say to Kate and leave Dad to give out to Michael. Anna skips along happily after us, while Ellie stays to watch her twin brother get shouted at. She’s sadistic like that. I think Anna might be a bit simple or something, because she’s always happy.
Grandad Ron is sitting on the bench outside the house, smoking a pipe. The pipe is a completely new development. He thinks it makes him look more Grandfatherly, but he’s forced to smoke it outside and he has to hide it from Nana Hermione. Great man, my Grandfather.
“Hey Grandad,” I greet him.
“Aidan, m’boy!” Oh, yeah ‘m’boy’ is another new development. “How’s school going? You’re bringing the Quidditch Cup home to Gryffindor again I presume?”
“You know it,” I grin proudly. Since I became captain of the Gryffindor team, we haven’t lost the cup. James and Dom are so proud of me, they have come to every final match. Al teaches at Hogwarts so he’s always there for them anyway, but as Head of Slytherin house, I’m fairly sure he’s trying to curse me off my broom. Still, me and Bob have never lost a match together.
Oh, Bob’s my Quaffle. I suppose that’s my weird thing.
“That’s m’boy!” Grandad chirps. Fucking hell. This m’boy thing has to fade out at some point.
“This is my girlfriend, Kate,” I introduce her. She had been standing back a bit, which was a wise move on her part, as Grandad doesn't really know how to smoke the pipe yet and there’s ash going everywhere.
“Lovely to meet you, Kate.”
“You too, Mr Malfoy.”
Oh fuck. Oh shit, I really should have run through the family tree with her. I told her that every red head is a Weasley, but Grandad’s hair is completely white now, so she couldn’t have known. This is the problem with her being Muggleborn. She never really heard of the Potters or the Weasleys or the Malfoys before she went to Hogwarts, and she never really takes much notice of Magical politics or news. In turn, she also doesn't get how bad it is to have called Ron Weasley ‘Mr Malfoy’...
“Erm, Kate this is my Grandad Weasley,” I tell her. Grandad looks angry. His ears have gone red. Oh Grandad, please don’t punch my girlfriend...
“So sorry Mr Weasley!” Kate apologises. “I...I’m sorry, I don’t know why I assumed –”
“Oh don’t worry about it, Kate,” Grandad says kindly, but I can tell he has taken a dislike to my girlfriend already. Brilliant.
We head inside The Burrow, with Kate whispering furiously to me. “I knew he was Weasley, Malfoy just came out because I was so nervous! You’re Malfoy and your Dad is Malfoy...oh Aidan, I’m so sorry!”
“Stop worrying about it!” I laugh. “It was pretty funny actually...”
In the kitchen is Nana Molly and Nana Hermione. Kate knows who Nana Hermione is, given that she only recently retired as Minister for Magic. Nana Hermione is good at acting normal, even if she isn’t. She has this weird obsession with House Elves. I don’t really want to get into it. She gives Kate a hug and welcomes her, and Nana Molly does likewise, insisting she has a scone and a cup of tea. Nana Molly likes feeding people.
And then there’s Great-Grandad Arthur. Sometimes I think we should just get him a Muggle for Christmas, one that he has to answer every question that he can possibly think of about the Muggle world. My personal favourite question he has about Muggles is the rather philosophical “Why electricity?” to which I say “Why not electricity?” Because really, how the hell else are you supposed to answer that?
Anyway, when I introduce Kate he mishears her name and calls her Kayla, and thus she will be known as such to him forever. He still calls Anna Amy.
Kate becomes astounded by the amount of people in my family. Not only are there my great grandparents, my grandparents, my parents, my uncle, my mother’s cousins, but there are also my mother’s cousins’ spouses and children.
There is literally a shit load of people here.
She knows Al from being a Hogwarts Professor, and Jenny is nice to her too, although she has like six kids hanging off her, so the conversation is quite brief. Okay, six is an exaggeration. Al and Jenny only have three kids, but it always seems like more.
The house becomes even more crowded when Remus arrives with his Mum and Dad and his little sister Dorie. She’s fourteen, and she’s going through this really dark phase where she wears a lot of black. Mum says she never saw that one coming with Dorie.
“Aidan, I snogged Tammy Walcott on the train home!” Remus tells me, grinning.
“You snogged her on the train?” Kate laughs. “In front of all her friends?”
Remus has a ridiculous amount of confidence. He’s in the year below me, but in Gryffindor too, and he’s been with nearly all the girls in my year, except for Kate. Well, as far as I know. It probably isn’t the best idea to ask the question you don’t really want the answer to. I put Remus’s amazing luck with women down to the fact that he’s a metamorphmagus and can control his level of attractiveness. He also went through a phase of morphing himself to look like me, and then went around telling all of the girls in Hogwarts that I was gay. How I actually ever got Kate to go out with me I’ll never really know.
Unless she’s secretly a bloke. That would be just my luck.
Remus scurries off to talk to more of our relatives. The house is so crowded, and the whole family isn’t even here. I haven’t seen Mum yet. Maybe I can get through the whole Christmas season without Kate and Mum ever having to meet.
“Harry Potter!” Kate gasps, and luckily I’m the only one who’s heard her. So, she has this weird crush on my Great Uncle Harry. She confessed it to me after a few too many Firewhiskeys at the last Gryffindor victory party. Maybe she is weird enough to fit in with my family.
“Steady on, Kate. He’s married with kids. And grandkids.”
“Shut up!” she hisses.
She actually giggles when I introduce her to Harry. The man is pushing sixty. I mean he looks younger than that and everything, but it’s still super weird of her to have a crush on him. If she fancied Al, or even James I’d understand it, because they’re in their thirties and not drawing the pension any time soon. Then again, they never saved the wizarding world.
“I’VE LOCKED THE BABY IN THE CAR!”
Speaking of James, he’s just run in claiming to have locked his baby in a car. Harry Potter might be good at saving the world, but he did a rather awful job of procreating.
“James, how did you lock her in the car?” James’s sister Lily asks him tiredly. Nobody is in the least bit surprised by this.
“I left my fucking wand in the car and it auto-locks itself when I get out! SOMEBODY HELP ME!”
“Calm down, mate,” Dad says, and follows James outside to the car to help. We follow to see how this plays out. James’s parenting is always good for amusement. I mean, he’s only been a parent for six months, but it’s really been hilarious. He picked up the wrong baby from the nursery the day they were bringing her home from the hospital. He was almost arrested for it too.
“How did you leave your wand in the car, wasn’t it in your pocket?” Lily chastises him.
“Sophie was playing with it!” he says.
“You let a six month old play with a wand?!”
“SHUT UP LILY YOU’RE NOT HELPING!”
“What spell do you have on it to auto lock?” Dad asks an increasingly panicked James.
“I don’t remember, Laura did the spell!” he splutters. “She’s going to fucking kill me...”
Sophie is laughing away to herself in the car, clutching to James’s wand. Merlin that man is stupid.
“We have to get her out of there!” James practically screams. “She could die!!”
“Yeah, it’s looking really life threatening, she’s been in there for what, sixty seconds?” Dad says sarcastically.
“SHUT UP MALFOY, YOU DON’T KNOW!”
“Oh come on, Aidan used to lock himself in places all the time when he was a kid,” Dad says casually. “Found him in Rose’s knickers drawer once because he didn’t want to go to school. Full hour he was in there.”
“Cheers for that Dad.”
“What’s going on here?”
Dad and James jump in fright at the sound of my mother’s voice. Thankfully there’s a bit of a crowd forming, so she hasn’t noticed me or Kate yet. She’s holding bags of groceries.
“James locked Sophie in the car,” Dad explains.
“Be cool!” James hisses to him.
“You locked your baby...in the car,” Mum says flatly and not in the least bit surprised.
“He left his wand with her too,” Dad adds. “He’s really taking to the whole fatherhood thing.”
“Of course he did. Step aside you morons,” Mum sighs, and flicks her wand at the door. It flies open immediately, to reveal a perfectly safe Sophie, who is still laughing at the whole situation. I feel sorry for that poor girl. I can’t imagine what she’s going to turn out like.
“Thank you, Red, THANK YOU!”
Mum rolls her eyes and hurries into the house with the groceries.
“So that was my Mum,” I explain to Kate.
“Are you going to introduce me?”
“I hadn’t planned on it...”
She nudges me playfully. Oh, she thinks I’m joking. She takes my hand and leads me back into the house. I’ve never been so nervous in my life. I can’t even predict how Mum is going to act around her. She could be bitchy, or maybe try to be funny, or just be cold and sarcastic, or be ridiculously nosey about every aspect of Kate’s life.
Most likely, she’ll be all of the above.
Mum is chatting to Nana Hermione while unloading the groceries she’s just bought. Nana Hermione winks at me when she sees me and Kate approaching, and clears away to let me introduce Kate privately. Not that there’s anything private in this house.
“Hi Mum,” I say.
“Sweetheart!” she cries happily, and pulls me into a huge hug. Seven years I’ve been at Hogwarts, and she still gets emotional every time I go and come back. “I’ve missed you so much, have you been eating? How’s Quidditch? Why don’t you write more often?!”
“Erm this is Kate,” I say when she finally lets me go.
Kate smiles nervously and waves. “Hello Mrs Malfoy,” she says meekly.
“It’s Rose,” Mum says nicely. Like actually in a nice voice. I didn’t think she could do nice.
And then she actually hugs Kate.
So this clearly isn’t my mother. Dad has obviously gone and got someone else to take Polyjuice Potion and pretend to be Mum for the day. Or maybe Mum has been taking Nice Lessons from Jenny. That is indeed plausible.
“You’re very welcome, Kate! Did you have a nice trip?”
“Oh yes, it was lovely,” Kate says politely.
They have some more polite conversation. Mum comments that she likes Kate’s shoes, and Kate tells her she got them half price in a sale. Kate then says she’s heard so much about Mum and is so glad to finally meet her. And yet, there is something extremely unsettling about this whole thing. Although I’m hearing all of the polite things Mum is saying, I can nearly see her mind going five billion miles a second. I know she’s formed a snap opinion of Kate already. I bet she hates her.
Dad approaches to see how we’re getting on with the introduction, and looks quite surprised by Mum’s behaviour too.
“This is weird,” Dad whispers to me.
“I know,” I whisper back.
“So Kate, would you like a mini-quiche or a mince pie?” Mum asks sweetly, picking up a plate of tiny appetisers.
“Oh yes, please,” Kate answers, and chooses a mince pie.
“Just so you know, there’s an ingredient in the mince pies that doesn't react well with medication and certain potions,” Mum says seriously. Dad and I look at each other, confused. “You know, so if you’re on medication or a potion, you shouldn’t eat it.”
“Oh...okay, thank you,” Kate says and goes to take a bite.
“Not on any medication then?” Mum asks, a manic look in her eye. Oh fucking hell. Here she comes, my real mother, asking strangers if they’re on medication.
“No birth control pill or potion then? Because you could get very sick if you eat that and you’re on the pill, so you’d best just tell me now –”
“Okay Rose, let’s see who else wants a mini quiche!” Dad says quickly, putting an arm around her shoulders and steering her away from us. Mum keeps her manic eyes on Kate as Dad practically drags her into the living room.
And that is the reason why I’ve never before introduced a girl to my mother.
Kate’s mouth is literally hanging open in shock. She doesn't even attempt to eat the mince pie, just throws it in the bin.
“I always thought you were exaggerating about your mother,” she says, shaking her head.
Yeah, I’m definitely getting dumped. At least I know if in future I’m going out with someone I don’t really like, I have a sure way to get rid of her.
In the last few years, the dining room in The Burrow had to be expanded even further to facilitate the ever growing family. Dad sits Mum at the very opposite end of the table to us, thankfully, so I don’t need to worry about any ridiculously embarrassing incidents with her throughout dinner. Michael and Ellie are next to me, and I’ve been instructed to make sure he doesn't get his hands on anything even remotely flammable.
Just as we are about to eat, Dom arrives with her twenty-one year old boyfriend. Yeah, he’s thirteen years younger than her. He refers to himself as ‘The Flash’, and I’m not sure I want to know why. I remember him being in Hogwarts a few years back. Dom’s made a pact that she will never again go out with anyone over the age of twenty-one, which is going to make for hugely uncomfortable Christmases when she’s fifty.
“So...” I say quietly to Kate during dinner, “Are you going to dump me?”
“Why would I dump you?”
“Well...you know,” I gesture to the people around me.
James is feeding baby Sophie, with more of her dinner going onto his jumper than into her mouth. She’s chewing on the bottom of his wand instead. Similarly, Dom is feeding her twenty-one year old baby; she’s spooning mashed spuds into his mouth. Al and Jenny are trying to control their three boys, who have initiated a food fight with Remus, who is retaliating. Michael is pinching Ellie, who is screaming up the table to Dad that Michael is bullying her. Grandad Arthur has fallen asleep at the table, and we can hear his snores over everybody’s loud voices. Grandad Ron is literally shovelling food into his mouth like a huge famine is about to hit the house, and Nana Hermione is scolding him and telling him to slow down or he’ll give himself heart burn again.
And Mum is staring down the table at Kate with those seriously manic eyes of hers.
“To be honest Aidan,” Kate sighs, “I love your family.”
“You do?!” I cry incredulously.
“They really are one of a kind,” she smiles.
I kiss her. Nobody notices; well, Mum probably does, but I don’t bother looking at her.
“Brilliant,” I grin. “But you should probably hold off judgement until you meet the Malfoy side of the family...”
It really is just my luck that I wouldn’t have one normal side of the family. Grandad Draco collects silver knives and talks to his pet owl, which he named Lucifer, as per my mother’s suggestion. Michael tried to set Lucifer on fire once. He also tried to mate one of Mum’s cousin Molly’s seventeen cats with a badger. See, this is what happens when a mental family marries into a sinister one; they breed criminally insane children.
And still, I wouldn’t trade any of them for anything in the world.
Except maybe Mum’s cousin Molly.
A/N: DONE! FINISHED! NO MORE! I never thought this day would come; thank you all so much for your supports. To all my readers, the ones who have been there since Delicate and all of the newcomers, I love you so much. Thank you for making this story the success it has become. I'm so proud of it, I can't believe it's all over! I've started work on new projects, including a new Rose story, but it will be completely different to Delicate & Still Delicate - keep an eye on my author page!
Thank you to the wonderful staff at HPFF for all of their validating and patience, particularly WeasleyTwinMom who I bugged with questions so many times, I may have driven her to insanity. She is a rockstar.
Thank you a million times over for all the INCREDIBLE support, I look forward to reading the last reviews for this story!
PS: My new James/Lily has been published on my author page now! :)