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Unhinged by Hyenni

Format: Novella
Chapters: 6
Word Count: 31,682
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Scenes of a Mild Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse, Contains Spoilers

Genres: Fluff, Humor, Romance
Characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Draco, Ginny, Blaise (M), Scorpius, Lily (II), Rose, OC
Pairings: Draco/OC, Harry/Ginny, Ron/Hermione, Rose/Scorpius, Other Pairing

First Published: 03/05/2011
Last Chapter: 10/05/2011
Last Updated: 10/05/2011

Summary:
{banner> bellatrixx at TDA}



For Astoria Malfoy, it's not enough to have a moody, sulky brat of a husband(why did she listen to her mother and marry that idiot?). Apparently, she was crazy enough to give birth to a child (regrettably, her husband's) that is also a moody, sulky brat. A moody, sulky brat who dates Weasleys.

It's little wonder if Astoria feels a little unhinged.


Chapter 1: Biased
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The bed beside me depressed as my husband kicked off his slippers and slid underneath the covers. He unhooked the reading glasses from the end of his nose, settled back ostentatiously on his pillows, then looked at me expectantly. I stared back at him in confusion. “What?”

 
“Well, this is usually the part of the evening where you tell me what bothers you and I pretend that I actually care,” he said in a voice that suggested he expected no less. I glowered at him.

 
“That’s ridiculous!” I gasped, affronted at his perception of me, and a little irritated that he found me so shallow. “What a completely unjust accusation, especially considering how tough everything’s been lately with Scorpius’ developing relationship with that Weasley girl – ”

 
“And here we go....” Draco muttered with a sarcastic joy to his tone. It was in his best interests that I pretended not to hear him.

 
“ – honestly,” I continued, not put off by his snarky interjection in the slightest, “she’s a Weasley, and no doubt a trampy little slut. She’s not good for our boy, Draco, you know she isn’t!”

 
“Aren’t you a little biased?” he asked me, running a hand through his platinum hair (a mark of our wealth, clearly, that one can have hair coloured the same as platinum) and fixing me with his ‘I-know-more-than-you-so-shut-up-you-imbecile’ stare. This stare was not reserved only for me; the only person I was aware of who did not receive this look on a regular basis was his mother, and that was because he was terrified of her. “All mothers are discriminatory against their son’s girlfriends, it’s only natural.”

 
“Your mother was perfectly lovely to me,” I pointed out.

 
He burst out laughing. “You should have heard what she called you after that first dinner!” Seeing the look on my face, he backtracked quickly. “You should not have heard what she said. You should never hear what she said. She said nothing.” He gave me his best attempt at a winning smile (pathetic, honestly. Married for eighteen years and he still thinks he can get away with stuff) and shuffled as far away from me as he could.

 
“Regardless,” I snapped it out, making him flinch, “this Weasley child is probably going to be a bad influence on our poor Scorpius – ”

 
Poor Scorpius?” Draco interjected incredulously. He felt the need to repeat this phrase several times to try and somehow get a grip on what I was saying. Moron. “For Merlin’s sake, Astoria, I asked him yesterday whether we should spend two weeks or three weeks in Barcelona and he told me to retire so I could move there permanently because he’s “always wanted to be an orphan”!” He paused for dramatic effect, and then added, “That’s a direct quote, by the way.”

 
I waved that off. “He was quite clearly joking, you idiot.” At this insult, Draco seemed about to protest, but I slipped him my signature death-threat-glare and he closed his mouth sharply. “He does have quite the sense of humour though, don’t you think? Rhetorical,” I quickly informed him. “That was not an invitation for you to speak rubbish again.”

 
“I don’t understand the point of me even being here during these little complaining sessions you do. It’s not like you listen to me,” he complained, and extinguished the main light with a wave of his wand. I kicked him under the covers in annoyance and lit up my own wand. He sat up sharply and scowled at me. “Put the light out, I want to sleep,” he growled.

 
“You’re so sexy when you growl,” I whispered mischievously, and his eyes lit up for a moment; he shuffled closer to me and encircled my waist with his arms. I let him kiss my neck a few times before whacking him on the back of the head. “Are all men lead by their balls?” I demanded to know, then made a face. “Rhetorical again. Anyway, I wasn’t finished talking, actually.”

 
He groaned and let go of me, leaning back and hitting the back of his head against the wall. “Well, I was.”

 
“Don’t be a smartarse unless you’d like fried testicle for breakfast tomorrow,” I said acidly, and he shut up pronto. It was easy to see who wore the trousers in this marriage, I reflected, and smiled. “Anyway, where did your prejudice for the Weasleys disappear to?” I was highly disappointed Draco had yet to exhibit this in our conversation, as I’d been relying on it.

 
“Probably the same place as my happiness,” he mumbled, and I reached out to swat him again; he dodged it neatly and caught my wrist, that seven-times-winner-of-the-Witch-Weekly-best-evil-smirk-awards appearing as I scowled at him, enraged. “You want my honest opinion?” he asked, and I considered this.

 
“No.”

 
“Tough, you’re going to get it.” He caught my other wrist as I attempted to free myself from his grip, and shushed me. “I think that the Weasleys are a bunch of freckle-faced, ginger-headed blood traitors who’ve fallen on money. However, I have no reason to be particularly prejudiced against this Weasley girl as she is, from what I’ve heard, quite a looker.” I made a disgusted noise and tried to free myself uselessly from the man’s iron fists. My wand lay uselessly on the bedside table behind me. “As far as I’m concerned, my son should have the best-looking girl in the school.”

 
Slightly mollified, I considered this point before conceding grudgingly, “Uh.”

 
“I still dislike Weasleys,” he hastened to clarify, looking nauseated at the mere mention of their name. “I’m just being the rational one here.”

 
I burst into laughter, at which he looked insulted. As the first uncontrollable round of laughter faded, I managed to choke out, “You think –haha – that you’re – ha – the rational one?” I subsided into giggles again.

 
“I’m not the one laughing like a madwoman,” he pointed out, and I shut myself up immediately. “Astoria, you’re all but sitting here and plotting the death of our son’s new girlfriend. Remind me to keep you away from all kitchen implements.”

 
“You’re just being ridiculous now,” I informed him. “I would never use a kitchen knife, not even the house-elves would get the stains out of the carpet. Throttling would work much better.”

 
His mouth twitched in amusement before he quashed the urge to laugh and turned his frown on me again. “Astoria, can we go to sleep now? I’m exhausted and it’s a Monday tomorrow, I’ve got to be up early.”

 
“No, you don’t,” I pointed out without a hint of doubt. I knew what he was doing tomorrow. “You’re planning to sleep in until at least ten, I know. It’s the first week of the summer holidays, Scorpius is home for the next month and a half, and you’ve taken the next fortnight off, remember?”

 
He scowled at me as I spoke, clearly annoyed that his attempt to shut me up had failed miserably. My thoughts turned to my son’s budding relationship, which he had seen fit to inform us about when he arrived home yesterday morning.

 
“...I wonder if this Weasley girl used a love potion?” I mused, blowing a piece of hair out of my face as it itched at my nose. I tugged half-heartedly at my caught wrists, eliciting a smirk from my prat of a husband, then settled for scowling at him.

 
“I’ll make you a deal,” he said in a smooth, professional voice that usually only came out around clients. But there was a distinct twitch at the corner of his mouth again that betrayed the fact he wasn’t serious. “I will check Scorpius’ blood for anything which should not be there, and you will let me sleep. Do we have a deal?”

 
I chewed on the bottom of my lip as I mulled his proposition over. The urge to continue whining about life’s unfairness was battling with the need to discover what was in my son’s blood, and the choice was impossible. I settled for trying to stall. “Is there any small print?” I asked.

 
He knew what I was doing straight away, and his smirk reappeared. “Look, Astoria, I’ve got your arms trapped and I could just turn your wand out, if I didn’t think you’d continue whining in the dark anyway. But you get your arms back and an opportunity to pry into our son’s private business, while I only get a bit of sleep. I’m being the bigger man here, see?” He looked immensely proud of himself. Imbecile.

 
“...fine,” I acquiesced in a grumpy, sullen voice, and let him tug me into his arms. As I reached for my wand and murmured “Nox”, plunging us into almost total darkness, a thought occurred to me. “Draco, do you think we should have another baby?”

 
I felt him freeze against me and imagined his hands wrapping themselves around my throat in a fit of anxiety. Before that could happen for real, I added hastily, “Rhetorical, rhetorical!”

 

*

 

It was a bright morning, not exactly unusual for July, but it irritated me almost as much as Draco did. I’d already bought an outfit for our visit to my parents that afternoon, and it only looked good on me in dim lighting. My sister, Daphne, would have great fun poking fun at me if my blouse was slightly see-through (not that she could talk, bloody cow).

 
“Cup of tea,” I said to Tokie, who squeaked an affirmative in that annoyingly perky house-elf way, and disappeared with a crack. I sat down at the antique table and drummed my fingers against the old wood impatiently until Tokie reappeared with a steaming cup and set it down in front of me.

 
“You are allowed to eat, you know, Astoria,” Draco drawled as he slid into the seat next to me, eying my king-sized cuppa with disdain. “You’re middle-aged, no one cares what you look like.”

 
I scowled at him. “Shut up,” I snapped, a little more waspishly than usual. “At least I still have a semblance of beauty to look after. You’re as ugly as the day I met you.”

 
His mouth twitched in amusement. “Then I’m sorry you didn’t have better taste.” I couldn’t hide a small smile at that, and he smirked in triumph. “What’s made you even more unpleasant than usual today, then?” he asked as he reached for the stack of French toast in the middle of the table and gave himself a hefty helping.

 
“Do you ever pay attention to me?” I demanded, more irritated by him than anything I had yet encountered this morning. “I told you last week, we’re going to visit my parents this afternoon.”

 
The French toast currently making its way to his plate slid off his fork and onto the table.

 
“We what?” he spluttered, looking completely shocked. “You never mentioned this to me! Oh, Merlin...” he groaned, dropping his head into his hands.

 
“I did mention it to you!” I exclaimed hotly, irritated immensely by the implication that his inability to listen was somehow my fault. “You told me you were planning to discuss some business with Blaise today and I told you that wouldn’t be possible because you’d both be at our little family gathering!” His face remained blank and I resisted the urge to practise my favourite wart-growing curse. I scowled at him and turned back to my cup of tea, muttering angrily, “Men.”

 
“I resent that, Mum!”

 
A blond teenager with a cheeky – what Draco would call idiotic – grin on his face walked through the door and plopped himself down in the chair opposite us. With great willpower, I summoned up some of my irritation with his choice in girlfriends, sniffed haughtily, and turned my head away from him.

 
It was a stupid thing to do, really. All I ended up doing was staring at the wall.

 
“Scorpius,” Draco said, and I knew despite where my eyes were situated, that he’d given Scorpius that nod that men give each other to say I am a man, and I recognise that you, also, are a man. Good morning. I also knew that Scorpius’ response to that would just be his endearing – what Draco would call moronic – grin again.

 
“What’s up with Mum?” he asked. I heard the distinct creak of his chair as he leant forwards to grab himself a stack of French toast, and took a loud sip of my tea to make sure neither of them forgot I was there (happened many times before).

 
“She’s menopausal,” Draco said with no hesitation.

 
I choked and Scorpius looked nauseated. I tried to reprimand – in other words, scream at and whack around the head – Draco, but I exploded into a fit of coughing that meant I was so incapacitated that I couldn’t even hit him.

 
“Can’t you help her?” Scorpius asked my darling husband.

 
“I would,” Draco said carefully, and I saw him shift towards the far side of his chair, “but then she’d be able to hit me, and I don’t particularly fancy that.” At moments like this, I would realise that he knew me surprisingly well.

 
Scorpius rolled his eyes and pulled his wand out of pocket, pointing it at me and muttering, “Finite.” My coughing ceased and I promptly took the opportunity to elbow Draco sharply in the ribs. He sent Scorpius a glare.


“See what you did?”

 
“I saw what he did,” I cut in before Scorpius could make a retort. “Underage magic.” I glared at my son, who immediately put on his ‘who, me?’ face that he patented in his childhood. “You know you aren’t seventeen for another two weeks!”

 
“That’s the last time I help you out,” he muttered mutinously, and to emphasise his point, took an extra large mouthful of French toast.

 
I glared at his bent head for a minute, then turned my gaze to Draco, who had also lost all semblance of table manners. I always found it incredible that someone so well-spoken and proper in public could be such a Neanderthal behind closed doors.


Feeling a little disgusted at the sight of the feeding males around me, I spoke up abruptly. “We’re leaving for my parents’ at half past twelve, so don’t pretend you don’t know. If you feel you might forget that time – “ this was aimed at Scorpius “ – I will quite happily spell it out in boils across your forehead.”

 
“That’s not much use, he wouldn’t be able to see it,” Draco interrupted, but was silenced by my scowl. He returned to eating, but discarded his cutlery.

 
“Scorpius, don’t wear jeans, you know your Grandmother hates them,” I informed him, then at Draco’s pointed look, added, “as does your father. He also hates your football t-shirt, so I would hide it before he tries to burn it.”

 
“I would not!” Draco exclaimed through a mouthful of food. I raised an eyebrow; he swallowed hastily and then said just as hotly, “I would not burn it!”

 
“There are two issues with what you just said,” I informed him calmly, and saw him roll his eyes across the table at Scorpius, who was wearing a smirk identical to Draco’s usual one. “Firstly, must you eat like a starving hippogriff every mealtime? If you must, then I will insist on having acquaintances over every meal, because it’s only in front of them that you actually chew your food. And secondly,” I continue, allowing a smirk to grace my own lips, “You do burn things, actually. You burnt those last dress robes I wore, remember?”

 
“They were too low-cut,” he mumbled defensively. “That bartender was looking at you.”

 
Sometimes, Draco acted like he was a dog and I was a lamppost. That’s not a reference to our sex life – that’s private, and also that would just be completely weird – but to the fact that he took possessive to an entirely new level. Once, he tattooed ‘property of Draco Malfoy’ across my forehead and neglected to inform me of this until we’d returned home from a dinner party. He’d slept in the guest bedroom for the rest of the night for that little misdemeanour.

 
“No jeans, hide football t-shirt from Dad, got it,” Scorpius listed them off on his fingers. “Anything else?”

 
I thought it through. “Send an owl to Ginny saying that we’ll have Albus and Lily to stay for a few weeks if she wants, and that they can bring a friend if they want,” I decided. I liked having a full house. I always wanted lots of children, but there was just too much to cope with when Scorpius was growing up – Draco and I climbing careers and social ladders while trying to bring up a kid was no easy matter. Albus and Lily were always courteous and a hell of a lot more appreciative of me than my fabulous husband and son.

 
Draco groaned and put his face in his hands next to me, his fork discarded on the table by my elbow. “First Weasleys, now Potters?” he moaned. “What kind of friends are those? Are you trying to kill me, Scorpius?” This was said completely and utterly seriously.

 
“If I killed you, who would I have to irritate?” Scorpius smirked again, looking entirely amused by Draco’s actions.

 
“Your mother!” he said instantly, then backtracked at the scowl he received from me at that. “Well, I suppose you could always try arguing with your mirror. Although, Merlin knows you manage to get on with that beastly thing...” After one particular dinner between us and the Potters, the mirror managed to overhear Harry’s comment on old school nicknames and ever since then, regularly insulted Draco with ‘oi, ferretboy!’ when he walked past it.

 
On the contrary, whenever Scorpius or I looked at our reflections, comments like ‘not in all my 500 years have I seen such beauty’ were not uncommon.

 
One might say that Draco was jealous, although he would never admit that, not even under the Cruciatus.

 
I glanced at the time as the two idiots at the table with me bantered on, and interrupted a heated argument regarding the new line up of the Chudley Cannons with a sharp, “Shut up.”

 
They complied immediately, turning their heads to look straight at me.

 
“We have an hour and a half until we have to leave, so I want you in the shower within the next twenty minutes. Scorpius, pick out a clean shirt and some of those trousers Grandma Greengrass got you last Christmas. Draco – oh, Circe, let me pick you out something.” He looked set to complain at this, and truth be told, he wasn’t incapable of dressing smartly. However, he had a history of deliberately showing up at my parents’ in disarray to antagonise them. “You will wear what I give you, make no alterations and if you complain, I will castrate you. Understand?”

 
They nodded. I looked at them both, Scorpius in a holey t-shirt and boxers, Draco in a mismatched pair of green and grey pyjamas, their platinum hair sticking in every direction and their cheeks stubbly, and sighed in despair. I got up, vanished the pieces of French toast littering the table, and repeated pointedly, “Castration.” With a glare at both of them, I walked out of the room.

 
If I castrate Scorpius, I won’t get grandchildren, I thought absently.

 
Then again, if he’s dating a Weasley, I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing after all. 

 














welcome, welcome, to my newest little baby! this was inspired after watching several episodes of the British sitcom 'My Family' (look it up, it's amazing) so i hope you liked it :) It's a little short, but the chapters will get longer, I promise. this is just an intro :D

so. what did you think? leave me a comment, please, and thanks for reading this far :P ^^



Chapter 2: Irritated
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 I stared into the mirror, tugging desperately at my blouse and flicking my wand so that the lights in the room dimmed and brightened repeatedly. I spun around, analysing my appearance from every angle possible and wondering if I actually looked okay or I’d just gotten used to the less-than-perfectness over time.

 
“What on earth are you doing?”

 
The answer to this question was that I was pulling my blouse tight against my chest and scrutinising it closely in the mirror. The answer I gave my bemused husband was: “Nothing!”

 
From the look on his face, it was clear he did not believe me. To be honest, I’d have been an idiot to believe he would, and if he had believed me, then he would have been the idiot. Put simply, I was full of shit, and he knew it.

 
“Tell me,” he commanded imperiously, leaning against the doorway. I stared back at him, deliberately lingering on his bare chest and grey pyjama trousers, and he sighed in mild exasperation. “I will get ready to go to hell – “ he corrected himself hastily at the look on my face “ – I meant, to your parents’, when you tell me what on earth you’re doing.”

 
“Fine,” I huffed, and turned to face him properly, pulling my shirt tightly against my chest again. “Can you see my bra through this blouse?” I demanded to know, and he stared at my chest for longer than necessary.

 
“...no,” he said at last, and I sighed in relief, already turning back to the mirror to analyse the rest of my outfit. “Which is a pity, because you have great taste in lingerie.” In the reflection, I could see him wearing his familiar smirk, and unable to think of a better comeback, I stuck my tongue out at the mirror. “Careful, Astoria, we don’t know where that tongue’s been,” he teased lightly, crossing the room to slip his arms around my waist. I liked the way our reflection in the mirror looked – his chin resting on my head, his fingers already fiddling with the bottom buttons of my blouse – and thought that it was no surprise that Scorpius had turned out so good-looking when he had such beautiful parents.

 
“You know exactly where my tongue has been,” I said out loud, the words layered with more innuendo than I had intended – he pulled me round to face him and undid several more buttons of my blouse, his lips brushing against mine.

 
“Well, now I can see your bra,” he murmured hoarsely, and I couldn’t hide a smile as I slid my arms around his waist and brought his mouth crashing down onto mine.

 
“Mum, is this shirt – oh Merlin, my eyes!”

 
I broke away from Draco like a guilty teenager, skittering back several paces until I collided with the mirror. Various profanities raced through my mind as I fumbled hopelessly with my mostly-open blouse. Draco was wearing an expression like a rabbit caught in the headlights as we both turned to see our son standing in the doorway, his hands pressed so hard into his skull that I suspected they were in danger of getting wedged there.

 
“What the hell is wrong with you?” he half-yelled, then moaned again, “my eyes, my poor, innocent eyes...”

 
“Language!” I scolded him automatically. Draco picked his wand up off the bedside table and pointed it at me; the buttons on my shirt did themselves up.

 
“You’re scolding me for being inappropriate?” Scorpius snorted, his eyes still covered. “I mean – God! Get a bloody room!”

 
“This is our bedroom,” Draco pointed out, not unreasonably. “And you were conceived somehow, you know, however regretful than conception may be,” he continued, considerably less reasonably. I narrowed my eyes at him, but he was still wearing a disgruntled expression that no doubt meant he was silently lamenting the return of my common sense and the departure of his plans for the morning.

 
Scorpius could not handle this information – he turned and fled down the corridor, only random words and phrases such as “gross” and “you’re bloody old” reaching us. Draco turned back to me half-expectantly, but I was back in my right mind this time and instead opened his wardrobe and chucked a clean shirt and pair of trousers to him.

 
“Put some bloody clothes on,” I muttered. I heard him take a few steps towards me anyway, no doubt to push his luck again, and snapped my head up. He stumbled back a few paces as I snarled, “Do you have a death wish?”

 
Distinctly I heard him mumble, “Yeah, I wish for yours,” as he turned around and headed into the en suite bathroom. I turned back to the mirror again. Just before the sound of the bathroom door shutting reached me, I heard him yell, “I lied. Your bra is the defining part of that outfit.”

 
There were many days when I wondered what the hell I was thinking when I agreed to marry that prick. Then I remember that he had a manor and good genes, and all becomes clear to me.


*

 
“Scorpius, can’t you do something about your hair?”


“Mum, shut up, there’s nothing wrong with my hair – ”

 
“Don’t talk to your mother like that, you little piece of – “

 
“Draco!”

 
“Sorry, dear.”

 
“What is your problem with my hair? You’re my Mum, you’re meant to love me regardless of how I look – “

 
“Well, there are limits to how much a parent can love their child – “

 
“Draco!”

 
“Sorry, dear.”

 
“Anyway, Scorpius, ignore your father,” I said in a business-like tone, ignoring Draco’s annoyed mutter of “he already does”. “He’s just in a bad mood because we got an owl inviting us to the next Weasley-Potter gathering.”

 
“Awesome, when is it?” I frowned at Scorpius’ slightly too-eager tone of voice and tried to banish any thoughts of his stupid Weasley girlfriend from my head. Normally when images of this sodding girlfriend ended up in my thoughts, they became very unpleasant indeed. Voldemort would have learnt a lot about torture if he’d ever learnt of these thoughts.

 
“...tomorrow morning,” I said dubiously, and decided to ignore the whoop of delight Scorpius gave at that. It occurred to me at this point that I seemed to spend half my life ignoring the words and actions of the men around me, and decided to keep it that way. Merlin only knew what would happen if I actually started paying attention to them.

 
“Kill me now,” Draco despaired.

 
“With pleasure,” I said grimly, already envisioning the sullen, sulky monster I would be dragging to the gathering tomorrow and feeling the first tendrils of mortification wrapping themselves around me. I snapped myself out of it and said in a brighter tone of voice, “Anyway, let’s go. Mother and Father will be irritated if we’re late.” I neglected to mention that normally just the sight of anything not plated with gold and diamonds was enough to irritate my darling parents, and scrutinised my little family one last time.

 
Draco wore a bored expression that clashed with his pristine white shirt and smart black trousers. He’d deliberately left the top button of the shirt open to annoy me and his tie was slightly too short to be considered proper. He’d also gone and picked out the most battered pair of smart shoes he could find and then wasted twenty minutes of his time throwing them out of the top floor of the manor to try and injure them a bit more. Purposely, he’d plastered his hair with gel until it was dripping onto the floor and his hair was no longer even remotely blond.

 
Scorpius, after nearly half an hour’s nagging from me, consented to wear the disgusting green-and-purple-checked shirt my mother had given him for his birthday last year with the pair of cream trousers she’d given him for Christmas.

 
In short, I was the only one who looked vaguely presentable/sane. It would have to do; after all, it couldn’t be any worse than that time when Draco cast that semi-permanent moustache hex on me that lasted for the entire weekend we spent with my family.

 
“Right,” I began, although everything was pretty damn wrong, “have we got everything? Wands, bottle of wine...?”

 
“Yeah,” Draco muttered obstinately, looking like he wished we didn’t.

 
“You look like you’re about three years old when you pull that face,” I informed him, referring to his sulky pout that looked oh-so-charming on his middle-aged visage. Scorpius mumbled something about it being an “accurate representation, then”. I shot him a ‘shut-up-or-die’ look that had its intended effect. “Anyway, I got Theo – “ I saw Draco scowl at the revelation I had spoken to a male other than himself or Scorpius (and he was barely happy about that last one, either) “ – to lend me the flying carpet he got a few months ago.”

 
“...or, we could take the Floo network like an ordinary person,” Scorpius suggested, already taking several steps towards the fireplace. I flicked my wand and glued his feet to the floor and then continued:

 
“We would take the Floo, if I wasn’t sure that you’d try to make a break for it and then pretend you “got the wrong grate”,” I said, giving them both a very hard stare that made them shift guiltily. It happened last time my parents invited us around for brunch. We ended up having dinner there instead. “It’s in the East Gardens, not far from the stable.” When no one moved, I muttered the counter-curse for Scorpius, then grabbed both their hands and dragged them away from the fireplace.

 
It was exactly where I’d said it would be, a green and silver (Theo is very house-proud) large rectangle of carpet spread out on the slightly yellowed grass. I made a mental note to get the house-elves to sort out the lawns and then sat down at the front (I think) of the carpet. Unwillingly, they sat down behind me.

 
It occurred to me that to any muggle – and indeed, some wizards – we would look completely mad, but this didn’t bother me. In my mind, ‘mad’ was actually a step up from ‘insane’.

 
“Up,” I commanded it, a little doubtfully. When I was at Beauxbatons, I played Quidditch (Captain in my sixth-year onwards, lead chaser), but this was very different. The carpet seemed to ripple underneath us, and it took me a moment to realise that the ground was suddenly further away than it had been a minute ago. “Okay,” I said, surprised it was actually working. “Straight on.”

 
“Won’t the muggles see us?” Scorpius asked, and it wasn’t difficult to deduce from his tone that he was praying no one saw us. Particularly not his girlfriend.

 
“No,” I snapped with perhaps a mite too much venom. “Only people who see us will have magical blood. Merlin, Scorpius, do you really think I’m stupid enough to use something that’s not muggle-proofed?”

 
He seemed to decide not to answer that, and I scowled at hm.

 
Merlin!” Draco was saying excitedly (for him, anyway – this means he was wearing an actual smile). “This is brilliant, Astoria – oh Circe, pay attention to the bloody sky!” he suddenly yelled and I realised with a jolt that we were coasting straight towards the steeple of the local church, and with a few hurried instructions, rectified our course. “Let me drive,” he ordered, shuffling forward and nudging me impatiently.

 
“No, I’m fine,” I said pointedly, nudging him right back. “Do you even know the way to my parents’ house?”

 
“Well, no,” he admitted, then his lips twisted into a smirk again. “But that’s even more reason to let me drive.”

 
“Ah, you make a very good point.” I bit off each word with a sharp sarcasm, then mumbled “faster” to the carpet. We were passing over a muggle neighbourhood at the present moment, and it was amazing to see the houses splayed out across the ground in a mish-mash of colours and sizes beneath us. We were going even faster than the ant-sized cars racing along on their little grey tracks. I allowed myself to feel superior for a few moments, then urged the carpet on.

 
It took another fifteen minutes before we entered the wizarding neighbourhood. Scorpius and Draco had resumed their argument about the Chudley Cannons line-up, and although I was pretty interested in what could have caused a rising star like James Potter to abandon his cushy Beater position at the Tornadoes for the Chudley Cannons, I decided this was some good father/son bonding time, and kept quiet so that they could really connect.

 
“You’re such an idiot, Dad – I already explained it to you – “

 
“Oh, and what do you know about professional Quidditch?”

 
“Quite a lot, seeing as I’m friends with James’ younger siblings!”

 
Draco shook his head sadly at our son. “You’re a sorry excuse for a Malfoy, Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy.”

 
I could tell without looking around that Scorpius was giving his father a two-fingered salute. I was also pretty sure he was looking at me for help. I obliged. “Draco Abraxus Malfoy, that was uncalled for,” I scolded him lightly, grinning as Scorpius laughed behind me. “Apologise to Scorpius.”

 
Draco switched from glaring at my back to laughter.

 
“I’m serious.”

 
He sobered up immediately. “You can’t be.” I turned my head to see him giving me a look that suggested he’d never seen me before in this light. I rolled my eyes at him. “I won’t.”


“You will.”

 
“Yeah, Dad,” Scorpius chipped in, looking extremely amused at the prospect of humiliating his father. “Apologise to Scorpius.”

 
Draco gave me a dark look, then in a motion that demonstrated his immense fear of me, turned to Scorpius and mumbled something unintelligible. I quickly adjusted the course of the carpet to begin the descent, then turned back in time to see Scorpius say, “Either my hearing is faulty or you’re unable to speak proper English. Fancy correcting yourself there?”

 
“Leave it, Scorpius,” I warned him, then smiled sweetly at Draco, who was looking at me in mild disbelief. Scorpius looked entirely distraught as I continued, “I don’t fancy giving your father murderous intent right before we arrive at my parents’. Merlin knows, he’d try even harder to mess it up.” I looked pointedly at Draco’s dull, gel-filled hair, and my prat of a husband smirked. I returned my attention to settling into the descent into my parents’ gardens, saying casually, “Take that look off your face before it occurs to me how good your intestines would look as an art exhibit.” I didn’t have to look to know his smirk had dissolved into nothingness.

 
*

 
“Well...that was certainly unorthodox,” Mother Greengrass said as we entered manor of my childhood. Her face was a mixture of derisive amusement and mortified disdain, and I knew that the neighbours could expect a memory charm coming their way soon enough.

 
Personally, I thought that the carpet was a lot classier than the Floo system, although it was apparent that I was the only one who thought this way. I shrugged it off with a “it’s the latest fashion, Mama” which seemed to persuade my Mother to leave the matter until later to investigate.

 
“Is Daphne here yet?” I asked as we all took seats in the parlour. Scorpius and Draco both made a beeline for the most secluded chair, furthest away from my parents. Draco put on a burst of speed and slid into the chair only seconds before Scorpius arrived, his smirk sliding into place easily as our son scowled and headed for the next most removed chair in the room.

 
“No, dear, she and Blaise should be arriving any moment soon,” Mother said, then exclaimed, “Why, Scorpius! You look positively charming in that shirt, just like I knew you would! Darius, didn’t I say that green and purple really suit him?”

 
My father grunted in assent, mumbling something that sounded a lot like “not right now, Agnes”. I decided not to mention that my mother’s name was Katrina and said quickly before Scorpius could speak, “Yes, it really is his colour. We must go shopping soon, Mother.”

 
“Yes, yes, dear,” she said, flapping me off as if I were an annoying nargle (Ginny introduced me to Luna Lovegood a few years back). “Draco, how lovely to see you again.”

 
“I wish I could say the same for you,” he said, clearly irritated that getting the secluded armchair did not exclude him from conversation. At my furious scowl, he rolled his eyes and continued, “Thankfully, I can. How are you, Katrina?”

 
“Dear, I told you to call me mother,” she gushed, and I winced slightly. For years, she’d tried to convince him of this, and for years, he’d politely refused. It had gotten to the point where the following conversation could be recited from memory.

 
“I wouldn’t want Astoria to feel like I’m eclipsing her place in the family,” he said calmly, that blank mask he always put on to hide his murderous intent firmly in place.

 
“Oh, dear, don’t be ridiculous, Astoria is happy for you to be so deep in the bosom of the family,” my mother smiled, her own bosom wobbling precariously as she stood up and brushed herself down, no doubt to go and enfold him in her loving arms.

 
As usual, his face paled at the sight of her looming embrace and he said quickly, “Have you heard about Scorpius’ new girlfriend?”

 
Mother paused in her attack of motherly love and turned towards her youngest grandson, head cocked in curiousity. “Did you hear that, Darius?” she cooed, seemingly oblivious to the death stares Scorpius was sending Draco. “Our only grandson has a girlfriend!”

 
Side note about my mother: she cares a lot about name, reputation and wealth. So while Daphne married into the highly respectable Zabini family, well – lucky me – I somehow married the only Malfoy heir and bore him the perfect offspring – one of them, and a male. The estate was entirely entailed to Scorpius, so of course, mother loved him to pieces.

 
Although, clearly, this did not come across in her gifts to him.

 
“It’s nothing special,” Scorpius muttered uncomfortably as she tottered across the room and squashed his face into her aforementioned bosom. When she released him, he immediately attempted to head over towards his grinning father, fists clenched and thinly veiled anger in his face. “Dad, it was supposed to be a secret,” he spat through gritted teeth.

 
Deciding it was time for an intervention, I said in a forced calm voice, “It’s only a childhood fling, mother. Scorpius is most definitely not serious about this girl, right?” When he averted his gaze from mine, my heart thudded ominously. “Right?”

 
“Uh...yeah,” he said, clearing his throat awkwardly.

 
Note to self: for a Malfoy, that boy is a terrible liar. Get Draco to fix that.

 
On second thoughts, hire a personal tutor. The only thing Draco can lie successfully about - well, he’s been successful about it, so I wouldn’t know. But I very much doubt he’s managed to keep anything hidden from me. I knew about the surprise 30th birthday party he was throwing for me the day after my 29th.

 
I turned to Draco, completely stricken down with grief. If he loves her...I could see the same disgust and shock reflected in my husband’s gaze, and realised with a jolt that we were actually in agreement on something. What shocked me more was that he moved from the coveted armchair to slot onto the sofa next to me and put his arm around me, glaring at our son. “We’ll deal with you later, Scorpius,” he warned in a low voice, patting my shoulder awkwardly.

 
Ah, so that’s what that was about. A show of parental teamwork to demonstrate our authority.

 
Circe, I married a tactical mastermind.

 
Mother, entirely clueless to the family drama going on around her, jumped at the sound of raised voices from several rooms away and said brightly, “Daphne’s arrived!”

 
“Oh, joy,” Draco mumbled, and I elbowed him sharply. Damn parental teamwork, that was my sister. Admittedly, she was a bit of a stuck-up, snobby, superior, full-of-herself, smug little cow, but reason be damned, decorum was to be maintained.

 
“We’re through here, darling!” my mother trilled, and when there was no audible response, frowned and left the room, leaving my father, husband and son with me in silence.

 
I alternated between feeling uncomfortable and shooting Scorpius teary-eyed, betrayed looks until I realised that I might ruin my make-up and settled for simply looking distraught.

 
Draco was clearly not feeling awkward – perhaps those years of learning how to be a perfect Malfoy actually paid off – and was sat back casually, one arm still around me, the other toying with a piece of his gel-filled hair. Scorpius was deliberately avoiding looking at us, and appeared to be very interested in the Persian carpet under his feet.

 
Finally, my father cleared his throat, apparently having realised that he was supposed to be entertaining us. “So, Draco, how’s the business?”


“Fine,” Draco said coolly, and I knew he would leave it at that (rude bloody bastard) if I didn’t intervene – which was why I dug the heel of my shoe into his toes. He gave a mixture of a yelp and a squawk that almost dragged a laugh out of me, then turned to glower at me furiously, clearly pissed at his image being ruined.

 
My father seemed oblivious. He, like Scorpius, seemed engrossed in the carpet.

 
After a quick, silent battle of wits, Draco scowled again and continued, “We’re planning on opening another office in Newcastle, actually. Turns out the north is a hotspot for insurance against magical misdemeanours.”

 
“Ah,” my father replied. I waited for him to say something more, but he simply frowned at his feet and stayed silent.

 
After a moment of prolonged silence, I nudged Draco – he winced like the pansy he really was – and hissed, “Say something.”

 
“Why should I?” he returned sharply, in a hushed voice. “He’s your father.”


"And it’s your life,” I responded just as quickly. “It’s also your choice on whether you want to keep it.”

 
I could see him flicking through possible comebacks behind his eyes, but he simply narrowed them at me and finally said lazily, “How’s the gardening going, Darius?”

 
This lit my father up like a lumos charm. “Oh, brilliant,” he said with enthusiasm, straightening up and sorting his little beard into a vaguely neat arrangement. Shot through with silver, his black hair bobbed up and down as he said fondly, “I only got the new mimblus mimbletonia settled in last weekend, funny little things, they are. Had stinksap everywhere – your mother was very upset about that, Astoria, but she just doesn’t understand gardening, you know – ”

 
“Darius, silly, don’t bore them with that,” my mother trilled as she entered the room, stalking proudly across the no doubt inexorably expensive carpet to sit down beside him. She fluffed her shiny hair (dyed blonde, of course – no grey for my mother) and fussed with her skirt pointlessly as the voices outside in the corridor grew louder.

 
Blaise was the first one in, and his face brightened up when he saw that the secluded armchair was vacant – he made a beeline for it. Draco made an almost inaudible hmmph noise of annoyance at that, and I mumbled something quietly about how it was his choice to move chairs that earned another hmmph.

 
Behind Blaise came the rest of them – the oldest, eighteen-year-old Priscillia (I know, my sister is cruel) walking like a professional in the ridiculously high heels she was wearing, and judging by the pout on her scarlet lips, already sick of being there. The second youngest, Wilhelmina, fifteen-years-old – I had a mental panic as I tried to remember if I’d forgotten a birthday or not – swanned in after her, clad in denim and a low-cut t-shirt. Then the child prodigy (due to him being male more than anything else) himself strolled through the door – ten-year-old Drinian, decked in a designer shirt and his black hair slicked back neatly.

 
Finally, Daphne – my darling sister – herself walked into the living room. The pretentious bitch looked the same as ever – nose pointed in the air, expression permanently disapproving. It surprised me that she was able to look like even more of a cow each time I saw her, but I supposed magic did exist, after all.

 
I may have been a tiny bit biased in this assessment of her. It wasn’t my fault, exactly. There just happened to be an instance before she met Blaise where she tried it on with Draco whilst I was searching for my favourite lip gloss (she’d tossed it to our father’s Venomous Tentacula) which I’d never really forgotten.

 
“Daphne,” my husband greeted her politely, before he even looked at Blaise. I scowled at him. He knew my insecurities about my sister and him, and did everything he could to drive me up the wall with it. Bastard. “You look lovely today, as always.”

 
She sat down in a nearby armchair and gave him a cold, ice-queen version of a smile. “Only the best for you, Draco,” she grinned wolfishly at him, making me feel hot and cold all over from rage.


“You’re angry,” he murmured in my ear, his breath tickling the loose hairs framing my face. I ignored him. “You’ve got that look on your face that would make the Dark Lord piss himself if he was here.”

 
“Then just be grateful I’m not looking you in the eye,” I muttered, annoyed beyond belief at my stupid know-it-all flirt of a husband. “You wouldn’t want to piss yourself in front of Daphne.”

 
He laughed softly. “Jealous, Greengrass?” The surname hissed on a little longer than it should have done, making him sound like a demented snake (so not far from the truth, then).

 
“I love your shirt, Daphne,” I said loudly, hoping that the strength of my voice might wipe the smug, self-righteous smirk off Draco’s face. “Where did you get it?”

 
“It’s a part of the Brown Boutique’s new line-up for the summer.” Daphne replied so quickly it was like she’d been expecting the question – which no doubt she had, seeing as the shirt in question was so see-through that she might as well have worn a piece of clingfilm instead. Of course, my sister had to pair it with an annoyingly tasteful plain vest underneath so that she didn’t look like a slut, but still – she’d always be a slut to me.

 
What a bitchy yet strangely affectionate sentiment.

 
“Oh, it’s wonderful,” I say cheerily, wondering if anyone would care if I was to stab something sharp into Draco’s duodenum and wiggle it around a bit. His hand was playing with the back of my blouse, wrapping it in tiny knots around his fingers and occasionally brushing against my back with feather-light touches. Annoyingly sensual and completely inappropriate. “You’ll have to – uh – ” his freezing cold hand suddenly pressed against my back and made me jump “ – introduce me to Lavender sometime.”

 
“Are you alright, Astoria?” my mother asked, frowning slightly at me. “You look a little...flushed.”

 
Draco stifled a laugh at that, and continued tracing circles against the base of my spine with his freezing fingers. Bastard. Bastard, bastard, fiendish bastard.

 
“Actually, mother, I’m not feeling too great,” I said, putting on a slightly morose expression and slumping my shoulders. That took a lot of effort, considering how tense my muscles were.

 
His knuckles suddenly dug into my spine again, and they were so cold I had to stifle a squeak of shock. “I think it’s probably a cold or something small like that,” I invented quickly, then stood up sharply, breaking all contact with Draco. “I don’t want you to catch anything, honey,” I told him sweetly, sending him death threats with my eyes, and with that loving sentiment, removed myself to the other side of the room.

 
A stupid move on my part.

 
“Well, it’s lovely to see you, Draco,” Daphne smiled at him in that simpering, bitchy way she always did, flashing her bitchy perfect teeth at him in that bitchy flirty way she had. “I love what you’ve done with your hair.” I stared at her back incredulously, wondering just how she could find his sopping-gel-streaked hair attractive. I always knew she was mental, and here was the nail in the coffin – metaphorically speaking, although if she continued flirting with him, perhaps it would take on a literal meaning too. I wasn’t fussy.

 
Blaise was sat on the sofa beside me, having been ripped from the secluded armchair by a pissy Priscillia, looking mildly amused as Draco flashed me a small, triumphant smirk and replied, “I’m glad you appreciate it. Astoria said it was overkill, but it’s nice to see at least one Greengrass with class, isn’t it?”

 
My mother looked affronted, whilst I simply simmered in anger. My father was too absorbed in tracing patterns on his knee to pay attention.

 
She giggled –

 
...and that was when I decided that screw it, I was not going to sit and watch my husband flirt with my (married) sister. God damn it, if he was going to try and ruin this trip to my parents, then I would do the same.

 
“Blaise,” I began, eying the dark-haired man who my husband claimed to be ‘the second most brilliant man in the world’ – after himself, of course – with a critical eye, “would you – ”

 
He creased up with laughter, as if I’d just told him the funniest joke in the world, and placed a hand on my shoulder. “Astoria, you’re just too funny!” he gasped between chuckles. Knowing that the others were looking in our direction, I too started laughing as if the joke I’d told was so funny that it even cracked me up.

 
He stopped laughing after a moment and then rested his head against my shoulder. His mutter of “it’s pissing me off, too” was inaudible to nearly anyone but me, but it sent me off into paroxysms of laughter – this time for real. After a brief pause, he also started laughing again.

 
I felt a bit like a hyena, what with my moronic laughter, but judging by the irritated look on Draco’s face he was very possessive of wild desert scavengers, and did not like them cavorting with other hyenas.

 
“You don’t look very unwell, Astoria,” he called across the room, interrupting our giggle-fest and sending me a scowl once all attention in the room had been turned back to me (excluding Scorpius and the Zabini kids).

 
“Blaise made me feel better,” I said innocently, then stood up and gave my sister’s husband a deliberately slow smile, which he answered with a playful wink. Draco and Daphne both frowned at us as I took the seat beside Draco again, placing myself as far away as the seat would allow.

 
“Children, please,” mother said placatingly, smiling at us as if we were all seven-years-old again, “no silly mind games. You know that we never indulge in such activities before dinnertime.”

 
Draco ignored her and shuffled up the sofa so that we were so close that our legs were touching, and whispered triumphantly, “I’m not an idiot – ”

 
Really?”

 
He shot me a dirty look (of the non-sexual kind) and continued, “I know what you and Blaise were doing.”

 
I shrugged my shoulders and grinned at Blaise, who suddenly had a slightly miffed Daphne sat almost in his lap. “Don’t know what you’re talking about.”

 
“We’re married, Astoria,” he reminded me with a roll of his eyes.

 
“Unfortunately,” I quipped with a quick grin.

 
“That means the mind games should be behind us.” He ignored my interjection and added, “That also means your maturity level should have aged with your face.”

 
I scowled at him, my good mood disappearing. “At least my hair’s still blonde naturally.”

 
“As is mine.”

 
“Only because you can’t see the grey hairs against the rest of it yet.”

 
“Regardless,” he stressed the word, looking extremely irritated – his first few greys hairs were a touchy subject – as he clearly tried not to throttle me, “I’m not oblivious. You and Blaise were clearly just trying to annoy Daphne and myself.”

 
“Of course not,” I blew him off with a dismissive tone of voice. Then I let my version of his smirk play across my face as I lowered my voice further and whispered, “Why, are you jealous, Malfoy?”

 
Disgruntled, he ignored me and turned his attention to the conversation, tossing in his opinion on dragon-smuggling without even glancing at me. It was a pity; I’d been practising the triumphant look I was currently wearing.

 
“So, Draco,” my mother said excitedly, “how’s your mother? Has she actually warmed up to Astoria yet?”

 
He threw me a smirk, and said in a voice that suggested he was deeply sorry, “Sadly, she hasn’t. She still believes Astoria to be a money-grabbing, pathetic attention-whore.” He adopted a sorrowful look that jarred with his words. “I’ve tried to persuade her otherwise, but she is simply adamant.” In a lower tone of voice, he mumbled so that only I could hear, “but I don’t try particularly hard. My mother is simply intuitive about these things.”

 
I used to wonder what my Prince Charming would be like – you know, would he have blonde hair, grey eyes, ferret-like features and too-pale skin, things like that – but now, I know exactly what he’s like.


And it’s nothing like Draco bloody (oh, I wish) Malfoy.

 

 





there you go. i'm sorry it's not as good as the first (in my opinion, anyway), but hey, it's a biggun and it was updated (sorta ^^) on time! so scooore for me! :P

thank you so much for the feedback on the last chapter, and to all you silent readers out there - I love you. marry me (don't, that would be weird. seriously ^^). <3

but seriously, cheers. and review? i'll give you Draco (terms and conditions apply).


Chapter 3: Silenced
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 The carpet ride back home was awkward, to say the least.


“...and I can’t believe you said that to my mother!” I fumed at the sullen middle-aged prat beside me, who sat wearing a sulky frown as I laid into him. “She only asked what you thought of the mutton – you didn’t have to look directly at her and say “I wish it didn’t dress as lamb”! What the hell were you thinking, you bloody idiot?”

 
Scorpius snickered behind us, and alerted to my son’s presence, I rounded on him. “Oh, you think that’s funny? Well, what I want to know is why you thought telling my parents that you plan on marrying a Weasley was a good idea! Poor Mother, you know she has problems with her heart – and for you to spring that on her! You little – ” Unable to phrase my anger into child-friendly terms, I settled for strangling the air in front of him.

 
Draco quietly took control of the carpet, for once apparently having the sense to keep quiet.

 
Who am I kidding? He was just enjoying hearing me have a go at Scorpius.

 
“Mum, are those heart problems genetic?” Scorpius asked nervously as I continued to slaughter the air in front of him.

 
“Don’t ‘mum’ me!” I half-shrieked in rage. “What kind of son are you? No, scratch that, what kind of Malfoy are you?”

 
“A vaguely human one,” he muttered, a scowl painting itself on his face.


“I’ve told you not to scowl before, Scorpius, you don’t want wrinkles like your father,” I reprimanded him, earning a mumbled curse from my husband. “And a Weasley? A Weasley?!” Feeling my point hadn’t been hammered home enough, I repeated it one last time. “A WEASLEY?!”

 
“I was aware of my girlfriend’s surname.”

 
“Then why are you dating her?” Draco asked, sounding entirely too curious and not infuriated enough for my liking.

 
Scorpius shrugged. “She’s hot.”

 
Draco’s smirk spread across his face, replicated exactly on our son’s.  “Nice.”

 
I threw my hands up in the air in frustration and gave up.

 
Casting a Silencing charm on them both, just daring either of them to attempt to remove it with a furious scowl, I directed the carpet to spiral down towards our lawn with instructions so razor-sharp that it made Draco cringe each time I spoke. When we landed, I stood up and grabbed each 'man' (ahahaha) by the ear, dragging them inside. I had reason to believe the words they were mouthing were so foul that my ears would have been burned off, and thanked Merlin I’d had the foresight to cast that Silencing charm.

 
Once we were in the dining room, I let go of them. They both stood there, looking frighteningly similar in the fading sunlight as they both rubbed their ears and scowled at me.

 
“Sit.” Draco was the first to crack, and slid into one of the chairs facing me. I smiled grimly, then fixed my gaze on Scorpius. “Sit.”

 
He paled and dropped into the seat beside his father so fast that I was surprised the chair stayed intact.

 
“Alright,” I began calmly, knowing that this was at odds with my appearance. In the sideboard on the other side of the dining room, I could see my cheeks were flushed through with red, like I’d been badly sunburnt, and my hair was frizzy from where I’d run my hands through it. You know, I’d look several years younger and no doubt be much happier if I’d never got married. “Let’s just...draw a veil over this afternoon. I think I’d just like to pretend it never happened.”

 
If I could somehow pretend that about the last eighteen years...well, let’s just say I don’t need a Mirror of Erised to know my heart’s desire.

 
“On the girlfriend front,” I said, turning to Scorpius, who wore that oh-shit-she’s-talking-to-me look I’d seen so many times before, “I will meet the sodding girl, on the basis that you swear you’ll never, ever call Priscillia a “high-class whore” at a family dinner again.” Considering this point, I grudgingly added, “However, behind her back...we Malfoys value the truth.” Scorpius seemed frozen to the spot, seemingly surprised at my great generosity. I rolled my eyes. Draco was the unreasonable one, not me. Mostly. (Alright, but I was only unreasonable about that blasted girlfriend. So jinx me.)

 
“Draco.” I twisted to meet my husband’s gaze. He flinched and looked away, like the spineless coward he really was at heart. “We are going to meet the Weasley family tomorrow – and no, you may not call it a harem, that is just insulting – so I will not tolerate any sulkiness, moodiness, prattiness, idiocy – ”

 
Scorpius snorted, and I had the feeling that if he could speak, he’d say something along the lines of “Good luck with that.”

 
Merlin, would I need it.

 
“ – blood prejudice, references to torture, kidnap or murder, and lastly, if you even dare try to piss off Harry by hitting on Ginny – well, what Bellatrix did to her ‘lickle fwiendies’ will be nothing to the torture I’ll put you through,” I promised fervently. When Scorpius looked mildly confused, I informed him carelessly, “Your Great-Aunt Bellatrix. Lieutenant of the most evil wizard of all time, mass-murderer and torture-fanatic. She tortured your Headmaster’s parents and Hermione Weasley.”

 
I let him stew in fear for a minute before continuing, “She’s dead. Pity, really. She used to be a real hoot at the big society balls. Once, she brought along the liver of one unfortunate muggle. It was...memorable.”

 
Draco was scowling at me, and I realised I’d gone from being a ruthless dictator to insulting his dead Aunt, and flushed scarlet. Covering up the sticky moment with a peace offering, I gave him a weak smile and mumbled, “You don’t have to sleep in the spare bedroom?” When his scowl deepened, I realised that in my rage, I’d forgotten to inform him of our sleeping arrangements tonight, and I corrected myself hastily. “Not that you ever were going to sleep in the spare bedroom.” I coughed uncomfortably.

 
Brushing over that little...misunderstanding, I turned to Scorpius. “Lily and Albus are coming back with us after the gathering tomorrow for two weeks. Apparently Lily expressed an interest in bringing the Scamander twins, which I don’t have an issue with...?” He nodded enthusiastically. “Good, then they can stay as well.” Then, grimacing as if I was in great pain, I managed to drag the words “...and your...girlfriend...too.”

 
Draco’s mouth dropped open.

 
It was worth sacrificing my pride like that, just to get that who-are-you-and-what-have-you-done-with-my-wife expression on his face. Also, his distaste for Weasleys, Potters and Scamanders (“non-Slytherin blood traitors, the lot of ‘em, with skrewts for fathers – actually, worse than skrewts”) meant that this painful manoeuvre would piss him off.

 
I did actually consider inviting the whole Weasley family, but I didn’t fancy becoming a widow quite so soon. Or becoming dead. Either way, I doubted highly that both of us would survive if I went through with that decision.

 
Scorpius, as he couldn’t have a verbal celebration, was expressing his gratitude by waving his arms around excitedly. One arm whacked Draco around the back of the head, and I hastily full-body bound my husband before my knowledge of the limb-reattaching spell could be tested.

 
When I returned my attention to my son, his actions had become more purposeful, and he was flapping them by his side, making a strange O-shape with his mouth like a goldfish, but in slow motion. When I simply frowned at him, he made the gestures more frantic.

 
“Oh, for Merlin’s sake!” Draco had clearly had enough, and while I was distracted, had managed to remove both the body-bind and the silencing charm. I scowled at him, but he seemed annoyed enough to not care. Wow, I’d really pissed him off. “Stop treating me like I’m a bloody naughty child, Astoria!” he fumed angrily, face contorted in rage. A mottled pink rose to his cheeks. “By all means, treat Scorpius like the idiot he is – but goddamn it, I’m older – ”

 
“It shows,” I interjected.

 
“ – and more mature – ”

 
I laughed.

 
“ – so don’t treat me like a complete imbecile,” he finished, scowling at me. There was a short silence, which Scorpius took as invitation to continue his ridiculous mime. Draco turned to him and sneered. “I removed your Silencing charm too, idiot.”

 
Scorpius glowered at his father, then turned back to me and said in a butter-wouldn’t-melt voice, “Mummy, was that what the owl at Grandmother’s was about?”

 
“Yes, sweetheart,” I smiled sweetly at him. An irritated huff came from Draco, and I fixed my eyes on him and said in my steeliest tone, “Don’t call Scorpius an idiot, Draco. Admittedly, he is on some levels – but he got that from your side of the family, anyway.” When I saw Draco puffing up in anger, I decided I was bored of this argument, and started the quickest strategy for ending an argument with Draco Malfoy. “And may I just say, we’ve been married for eighteen years, but I still can’t get over how cute you look when you’re pissed off.” I winked at him, knowing his one-track mind would immediately turn that passionate anger into passionate...something else.


“Okay, you’re gross,” Scorpius announced, and stood up from the table, wearing a nauseated expression as he looked at us. “I’m going to owl – ”

 
“Piss off, idiot,” Draco spoke over his shoulder, but his eyes didn’t leave mine. I smirked slightly.

 
“I told you not to do that, Draco,” I said coyly. “And you know what happens to rule-breakers?”

 
“If you say ‘punishment’, I’m going to gag,” Scorpius interrupted. I shot him a vaguely annoyed look, then returned to smirking at my husband.

 
“Puni – ”

 
“I’ll see you in the morning!” our son said abruptly, and excessively loudly. With his hands jammed into his ears, he sprinted from the room, knocking a chair over on his exit but not pausing to pick it up.

 
Poor boy. If my parents had been like me and Draco, I would not have turned out this normal.

 
My husband stood up and leant across the table towards me, a twisted smile on his face as I mirrored his actions. Our lips were nearly touching as he murmured hoarsely, “Now that the idiot is gone...” I kissed the tip of his chin, making him suck in a breath. “What were you going to say?”

 
I gave him a fast, hard kiss, then drew back a few inches. “If you ever, ever invite Daphne to investigate your wand again – especially in front of me, Scorpius, her husband, her kids and my parents – then you won’t have a wand for her to investigate. Understand?” With that, I winked at him and walked towards the doorway, where I paused. “The spare bedroom is all set up, although we haven’t fixed the leaky ceiling yet. The other bedrooms have all mysteriously lost their furniture.”

 
I turned to see him stood there, staring at me with a shocked, surprisingly hurt and somewhat awed expression, and blew him a sparkling kiss. “I love you, sweetheart.”

 
He groaned. “You’re a fiendish bitch.”

 
“And doesn’t it just turn you on?” I purred, and without waiting for an answer, headed off to the empty King-sized bed that was waiting for me. Ah, sweet, sweet luxury.

 

*

 

The sun was shining again, and, like a teenager with a hangover (not that my Scorpius would ever have gotten drunk, Merlin forbid) Draco groaned and tried to go back to sleep. I shook him, digging my recently-manicured nails into his shoulder until he opened a bleary eye and glared at me.

 
“What?” he snapped, the annoyed tone ruined by the pillow muffling his voice.

 
I continued shaking him, increasingly violently, as I told him in my cheeriest voice, “We’re going to the Potters’ in about twenty minutes. Wake up.” When he didn’t move, I whipped out my wand and soaked him to the skin with a blast of icy water. A hissed profanity escaped him, and he rolled over and fixed me with his best cold-hearted Malfoy stare, narrowed eyes and pressed lips and all.

 
“Astoria,” he said slowly, “I want a divorce.”

 
“Whatever,” I said breezily, “you wouldn’t last ten minutes without me.” I ripped the sopping duvet off him, and when he tried to pull it back over himself, I Vanished it.

 
“I beg to differ,” he snapped, and gave me his best sulky-child pout (although he thinks it makes him look terrifyingly manly).

 

*

 

“ASTORIA! WHERE’S MY WAND?”

 
“In your trousers, last time I saw it,” I called back cheekily as I rootled through the wardrobe in search of a few more hairclips. In the mirror, I saw him emerge from the bathroom wearing nothing but a pair of boxers and a scowl.

 
“You’re hilarious,” he hissed, and I simply winked at him. “Where’s my wand?”

 
I checked my watch very ostentatiously and then smirked at him. “It’s only been eight minutes, and you’re struggling.”

 
His face flickered between annoyed, sulky and thoughtful, and finally settled on that last one. I eyed him curiously as he crossed the room towards me, then stopped less than a metre away. His hands untangled mine from where I’d been messing with my hair, and he pushed my back up against the wardrobe mirror, fixing my hands above my head. A slow smirk played across his lips. “You’re right,” he murmured. “I wouldn’t be able to live without you.”

 
When his lips pressed against my jaw, I suppressed the urge to roll my eyes and simply shoved him off me. “The romantic seduction technique stopped working eighteen years and a wedding ring ago,” I informed him. As his sulky pout settled into place, I tugged my wrists free and stood on tiptoe to kiss his cheek. “However, because you look so pitiful, I’ll tell you where your wand is.”


“It’s in my boxers,” he shot straight back, looking irritated at the idea of being ‘pitiful’. “But it’s not going to stay there for long.” He winked slowly and suggestively at me in the way he does when he’s under the impression he’s a fabulously gorgeous specimen of a man (ahahaha).

 
This time, I did roll my eyes. “It’s in your jacket pocket, ready for when we leave in about – ten minutes.” Looking at his current state of undress, I sighed world-wearily and turned back to the wardrobe. I tossed him a clean blue shirt and trousers and Vanished all the pots of gel I could see. “You’re not wearing robes, you’d look like an idiot,” I inform him, seeing his scowl in the mirror. Then I paused, and corrected myself. “More of an idiot.”

 
A cocky grin graced his lips. “Surely, if I’m as ridiculous and moronic as you make me out to be, you would be the idiot, seeing as you married me.”

 
“Don’t be silly, Draco. We both know I only married you because I felt sorry for you.”

 
“Mum, are we going yet?” Scorpius was stood in the doorway, watching me bicker with his father with a mildly amused smile on his face. I briefly wondered how, considering how disgusted he’d been to walk in on Draco and myself yesterday, he managed to summon up the courage to walk in on us again today, and concluded that he was an idiot. Like father, like son.

 
“Excuse me!” Draco ignored Scorpius’ arrival (surprise, surprise). He looked affronted as he continued, “I was the most eligible bachelor in all of Wizarding Britain! I had girls falling at my feet and a manor!”

 
“You also had a criminal record, a striking resemblance to a ferret and a long-running vendetta with the greatest man in Wizarding history – and let’s not even bring up Dumbledore.” I walked over to Scorpius and fussed with his annoyingly floppy hair while he tried to hit my hands away feebly. “We’ll be going in a few minutes, once your father manages to put on some bloody clothes.”

 
“Harry bloody Potter is not the greatest man in Wizarding history!” Draco snapped, and scowled as the mirror sang ‘denial’ in a deliberately annoying tone. Scorpius and I both hid grins as Draco slammed the wardrobe door shut and angrily pulled his shirt and trousers on.

 
“I don’t know...those glasses he wears are pretty damn good-looking.” I grinned as both of them made disgusted faces.

 
“That’s my friends’ Dad, Mum.” Scorpius wrinkled his nose in distaste. “And just say hot, you don’t have to be so uptight.” I pretended he hadn’t spoken.

 
“I wear reading glasses!”

 
“Yeah, but you don’t have green eyes, dear,” I reminded my husband with a poker-straight face.

 
I distinctly heard him mutter, “Piss is green.” When I raised an eyebrow at him, he finished buttoning up his shirt in angry silence. After half a minute, he burst out angrily, “Grey is much less common than green!”

 
“Besides Harry Potter’s foxy eyes, you know what – who – else is green, Draco?” I said loudly, grabbing his elbow as soon as he’d done up his belt and dragging him from the room, Scorpius following in our wake. I gave him a meaningful look, and his scowl deepened. Teasingly, I added, “Jealousy is not a good look on you.”

 
“Nor is ‘nosy, manipulative hag’ a good look for you, yet you still persist,” he muttered, earning a sharp elbow to the ribs.

 
Prat.

 

*

 

“Astoria! You look lovely – where did you get that blouse, it’s beautiful!”

 
I’d barely stepped out of the fireplace before Audrey Weasley had suddenly flung her arms around me. I smiled at her enthusiasm (she loved fashion, girl talk, politics and Percy – in that order) but before I could answer, Ginny had elbowed her sister-in-law out of the way and hugged me as well. “Ignore Audrey, she’s just happy because she’s escaped Percy for a little while.” She rolled her eyes, grinning at me. “Anyway, where’s Draco?”

 
I shrugged, knowing he valued living too much to not show up. “I don’t – ”

 
“Here – unfortunately,” my husband drawled as he stepped from the grate behind me, taking in the Potters’ decent-sized, monochrome-schemed kitchen with an air of superiority.

 
Ginny chuckled and pinched his pale cheek, earning her a scowl. I hid a smile – she was about the only other woman I knew of who could put up with his infuriating attitude, besides myself, of course.

 
“You look inordinately happy to be here,” she reflected dryly, taking in his sullen expression and hands-in-pockets body language. The grate flared up behind us again, and Scorpius stepped out, ‘fixing’ his hair as he did so. “Scorpius – the others are in the garden, go have fun,” Ginny told him, smiling. He hurried off as if there were a horde of angry centaurs on his tail.

 
Draco was watching her in awe. It had always surprised him that there was someone besides me that liked our son. I elbowed him sharply. “If you don’t stop gawping, Harry’ll take your head off.”

 
At the mention of Harry, he scowled again.

 
“The men are by the barbeque,” Ginny informed him as she bustled back to the countertop and carried on kneading dough. I decided to leave casting aspersions on Draco’s status as a supposed ‘man’ until later in the evening.

 
Draco sent me that look that showed he had no idea what she was talking about. I rolled my eyes. “A barbeque – as in an outside oven.” When he still looked a little confused, I clarified, “What the house-elves cook your food in.” His eyes widened slightly in realisation, but I felt the need to continue anyway. “Like a very controlled fire.”

 
“I understand. I did take Muggle Studies for five years,” he reminded me, adding an almost inaudible “unfortunately” on the end.

 
“Harry and Ron are there, actually,” Ginny continued, then winked at me. “They said the fire has a life of its own. Bill said it was being fiendish today. Apparently if you look really closely, you can almost see animals in it – ”

 
“I think I’m alright here,” Draco interrupted hastily, his face slightly paler than usual.

 
“Harry and Ron are there to save you,” I teased him, and he glared at me.

 
“I told you about that fiendfyre incident because I trusted you,” he muttered angrily.

 
“No, you told me about it after I drugged you up on Veritaserum and demanded to know all your weaknesses,” I said cheerily, and both Audrey and Ginny hid their laughter. What a fun third date that was. “Now – go to the bloody barbeque and try not to piss anyone off too much.”

 
I distinctly heard Ginny mutter a “yeah, good luck with that.”

 
I shoved my irritating-beyond-belief husband towards the kitchen door, then turned back to Audrey as if we’d never been interrupted. “I got it from the new boutique on Diagon Alley, actually. We should go there soon.”

 
Her face lit up. “Yes! After the Ministry gala next week? Percy’s got a promotion, so I’m of course planning to spend some of that hard-earned cash.”

 
Ginny and I both winced. “He got a promotion?” Well, I thought sadly, there go my hopes of an interesting conversation at lunch.

 
Audrey shrugged. “Yeah, but it’s pretty dull. Seriously, all he does is file a few more reports and chat to a few more Goblins – or maybe it was mer-people? I forget – ”

 
“Astoria! I guessed you had to be here when I saw your milk-faced prat of a husband in the garden!”

 
I turned to see the dark figure of Angelina Weasley stood in the doorway, her eyes twinkling. I sighed, playing along. “Don’t tease Draco about his complexion, he’s very sensitive about it.”

 
“Sensitive to sunlight?” Ginny asked innocently. “Because I have several spare bottles of sun cream – I’m sure I could ask Harry to get them for him – ”

 
We all chuckled at that, although I winced. “If you want me to suffer death by sulky prat, then by all means do. Anyway,” I changed the subject, glancing around the kitchen, “is there anything I can do to help?”

 
Ginny hesitated, looking around the kitchen with a frown. “No, I think we’re alright. Hang on - actually, if you could help levitate some of the salads, that’d be brilliant.” I nodded and we all pitched in with the levitation. At least twenty bowls of various foods rose into the air and began to float through the door towards the garden.

 
“Glorious weather, isn’t it?” Audrey said conversationally as we passed through the Potters’ large house towards their equally large garden. “Percy’s rather irritated about it, actually. Says no one can take a Weasley with sunburn seriously.”

 
All of us except Ginny giggled at that. The ex-Weasley simply frowned. “He has a point, you know. When your face matches your hair –well, it’s not exactly attractive.” Then she giggled as well, and added, “Although, Percy always looks like he’s about to combust when he goes red.” She flicked her mess of red hair out of her face, and I decided not to mention the flour on her cheek. “Mind the step,” she added, and we all carefully navigated our way onto the patio.

 
The noise of chatter swept over us, mixed in with the buzzing of various insects and the sizzling of meat on the barbeque. The Potters’ garden was huge, stretching out in a sea of slightly yellow grass to a sparkling blue lake at the bottom. On the dock, I could just about make out my son, sat with Lily and Albus Potter, Rose and Dominique Weasley and the Scamander twins, and scowled slightly.

 
“Something wrong, Astoria?” Ginny asked as she walked beside me, skilfully levitating her set of plates as Hugo Weasley sprinted past us in hot pursuit of some other redhaired cousin of his.

 
“Yeah,” I admitted. “Scorpius is dating a Weasley.”

 
She mimed being shocked, looking highly amused. “You have an issue with Scorpius dating a Weasley, but have no apparent issue with spending a whole day with the family?”

 
I smiled ruefully. “Much as I like your family – well, it’s one of those things, you know?” I gestured a little, feeling frustrated. “Nothing personal, but a Weasley will never be worthy of my son.”

 
Instead of looking offended, Ginny just laughed. “I had the same issue when James brought back his first girlfriend. And then when he brought back his second. And the third. By the time he brought back his sixth girl, I began to realise maybe he wasn’t worthy of them.” Her dry humour had me struggling to hold back my laughter.

 
“What about Albus?” I asked, still unsure. “I mean, he’s more like Scorpius. Did you have the same issue with his first girlfriend?”

 
Ginny snorted. “Albus? I’m starting to wonder if that boy’s asexual. Sixteen years old and he’s not had a girlfriend yet? Merlin, I was dating when I was fourteen – and I’m not a hormonal teenage boy. Even Harry had a girlfriend when he was fifteen.” We both chuckled as we stopped at the huge table and let the plates arrange themselves. Audrey and Angelina joined the crowd of adults near the barbeque, but Ginny and I hung back a little bit, preferring to talk a little more. “Out of – let’s call it morbid curiosity,” she asked, wearing that amused smile again, “which Weasley is Scorpius dating?”

 
My mouth popped open.

 
Dear sweet Merlin, how could I not know that? What kind of mother was I that I couldn’t even remember which Weasley my son was dating?

 
I quickly consoled myself that it wasn’t my fault – every time he’d mentioned his girlfriend, I’d gone off on some murderous rampage inside my head, so it was hardly my fault I’d missed the sodding she-devil’s first name. I was innocent here.

 
Realising I was still stood there, gaping like I was hoping to catch one of the wasps floating near the edge of the insect-repellent charms, I shook my head slightly to clear my thoughts. Mortified that I didn’t know the girl’s name, I said the first Weasley girl I could think of. “Victoire.”

 
Ginny laughed, and I felt my cheeks go pink as I realised my mistake. “Victoire is twenty-three years old, pregnant by someone who I certainly hope is not Scorpius, and she’s not even a Weasley anymore. You were there when she married Teddy, remember?” As I bit my lip and looked away, Ginny gasped. “You don’t know her name?!”

 
“Shush!” I hissed, glancing over at the nearest crowd of people – I recognised them as Roxane and Molly Weasley, sunbathing. I wondered if Scorpius would go for the highly tanned Roxane, the pale and freckled Molly – or someone else altogether? “Keep your voice down!”

 
Ginny was choking on her laughter, tears actually sparkling in her twinkling eyes. I cast a few more frantic glances around, then smiled as I caught Bill’s curious stare. “She swallowed some saliva the wrong way,” I called cheerily, then whacked his sister a little harder than necessary on the back. “Clumsy, clumsy Ginevra,” I hissed under my breath as she continued to laugh.

 
Finally, she got a grip on herself and turned to face me fully, her face beaming like the sun. “Well – let’s see. There’s Dominique, Molly, Lucy, Roxane, Rose and Lily – ” at the mention of this last one, her face darkened and I gulped. If Harry was overprotective of his daughter – well, Merlin forbid what Ginny would do to my son (no matter how much she liked him). “Lily’s not a Weasley, she’s a Potter,” Ginny said sharply, her face relaxing slightly, “So that’s six girls it could be.”

 
I gulped. “Shit, I’m a bad mother.”

 
“Swearing doesn’t exactly help your case,” Ginny chuckled, ignoring the scowl I sent her. “Are you sure Draco doesn’t know the name?”

 
I sent her a look that questioned her sanity. “If I tuned out when Scorpius mentioned Weasleys, what the hell do you think Draco would do?”

 
She nodded, conceding that point. “And are you sure Scorpius said it was a girl?”

 
“Normally, the term ‘girlfriend’ implies someone female,” I said, a little snidely. I couldn’t help it – I was stressed.

 
Ginny shrugged. “Hey, I was just checking. I always thought Hugo had a bit of a crush on him.”

 
“Really?” I asked, momentarily caught up in the idea. “I would’ve thought Albus – they’re closer in age, plus they share a dormitory at school. Plenty of opportunities for developing a crush there.”

 
The red-haired woman’s expression darkened in the same way it had when the idea of Scorpius and Lily had been broached. “My son and your son?” She snorted with laughter. “I’m sorry, Albus has way too much class for that.”

 
“What’s this about Albus?”

 
We both stopped laughing as we realised the presence of someone else. I blinked a little stupidly as I realised Harry Potter stood there, his famous emerald eyes twinkling at us. Ginny was the first to get over the surprise of being interrupted and kissed his cheek in welcome. “We were just discussing Albus and Scorpius and their possible relationship. No big deal.”

 
He was clearly trying not to laugh as he said, “Oh.” He wrapped an arm around his wife’s waist and kissed the top of her hair affectionately. “The food looks lovely, Gin.” His smile grew as he continued, “But not as lovely as you.”

 
“You’d better not be talking to my wife there, Potter.”

 
Cue the arrival of the (metaphorically) green-eyed monster. I felt an arm slip around my waist in a mirror image of Harry and Ginny, and the familiar cologne Draco wore enveloped me. I suppressed the urge to roll my eyes and elbowed the prat lightly. “Oh, piss off and go wear your reading glasses.” That earned me a scowl from him and a confused look from Ginny.

 
“Nice to see you again, Draco,” Harry said politely.

 
I pinched Draco’s side through his shirt.

 
“Likewise, Potter,” he forced out through gritted teeth.

 
Ginny was laughing. “You’ve got him well-trained, Astoria,” she chuckled, and I could see Harry hiding a smirk. What a sweet, polite man.

 
“Don’t look at my wife like that, Malfoy,” the sweet, polite man suddenly snapped. “She’s only joking.”

 
“Relax, Harry,” I said easily, leaning my head against Draco’s shoulder to try and show how ‘tame’ he was. “He gives out murderous glances like that all the time, but he’s too much of a coward to do anything more.” Draco turned his head to glower at me, and I went with my sweetest smile and whispered, “I love you?” There. It felt like I’d disarmed a Death Eater when his scowl dissolved slightly.

 
“Anyway,” Ginny chirped happily, and the three of us turned our attention to her. “You wouldn’t happen to know which Weasley Scorpius is dating, would you?” Her gaze was directed towards our respective husbands, who both gave identical shrugs.

 
“Nah, Gin, I don’t listen to the gossip,” Harry shrugged, running a hand through his hand and giving her a rueful smile. “Sorry.”

 
“No,” Draco said shortly. “It’s a Weasley, does it matter which?”

 
“Yours is much better trained than mine,” I observed to Ginny, after a short pause.

 
We both laughed at the affronted looks they wore, and I refrained from commenting on how similar they looked in that instant. I, for all my complaints, was pretty fond of my life, and didn’t plan on having it cut short.

 
“How’s the barbeque?” Ginny asked. “Ron set fire to anything?”

 
“Only the oven gloves,” Harry grinned, and we all (excluding my misery-guts of a spouse) chuckled. “There was a close call with his wand at one point as well. George thought it was kindling and nearly chucked it in. Not even sellotape would’ve fixed that.” He made an effort to smile at Draco, who was still looking sullen. “You remember when Ron broke his wand in second-year, right?”

 
“Yes.”

 
I elbowed him again. My elbows were pointy – they hurt. Draco was a coward. Therefore, he reluctantly continued, “Yes, I do.” Another jab of my elbow. “One of the funniest moments of my life was watching him belch slugs.” A small smirk broke the mask of sulkiness on his face, and I rolled my eyes again.

 
Luckily, Harry didn’t seem to be offended by Draco’s great amusement at his friend’s bad luck. “Yeah, definitely something I’ll remember for a long time,” he laughed. “Just like I’ll never forget when Hermione punched you – remember that?”

 
I eyed Draco with interest as his face lapsed back into a scowl. “What’s this about you getting beaten up by a girl?”

 
He ignored me and drawled, “Yeah, I remember that. Just like I remember that time in sixth-year when you nearly killed me.” There was a short silence in which Ginny gave a quiet exasperated sigh and Harry’s good-natured smile froze. Draco’s own smile was almost feral as he said, “Good times.”

 
There was another short silence where Harry looked uncomfortable, Ginny looked mildly amused and I felt my irritation overflowing. I turned to face Draco and poked him sharply in the shoulder. “You,” I snapped, “are such a prick. Are you incapable of being nice? Or polite? Merlin. Why did I marry you?”

 
He lowered his lips to my ear and murmured in a soft growl, “Because I’m extraordinarily handsome and the idea of being mine for eternity was too much to resist?”

 
I decided to ignore the prat. Partly because he was being obnoxious, and partly because he was right. Merlin, they say love is blind. I think Draco and I are living proof of that.

 
Harry seemed to have gathered his wits together again, and that gormless look had disappeared by the time I’d returned my attention to them. “Yeah, I remember that,” he said sheepishly, scratching his head awkwardly. “Sorry ‘bout that, mate. Mind you, your house-elf tried to get me expelled from the Wizarding world and set a bloodthirsty bludger on me.”

 
“Dobby was not acting on our orders,” Draco said sourly, looking as if he dearly wished Dobby had succeeded. “Anyway, what about the time you and your minions attacked us in Umbridge’s office?”

 
“You were holding us prisoner,” Ginny chipped in helpfully, earning herself an annoyed look from my darling husband.

 
“Yeah, and you went on to imprison my father in Azkaban,” Draco continued, his expression impassive.

 
“He tried to kill us,” Harry pointed out reasonably. “It wasn’t really our fault. And anyway, you’re forgetting that time when you set that snake on me in Duelling Club, remember? Woah,” he said, shaking his head slightly. “You really were out to get me in second-year.”

 
“That snake didn’t even attack you,” my husband sneered. Underneath the friendly banter, I guessed that just because the snake hadn’t attacked Harry – well, it wasn’t difficult to work out that the snake wasn’t entirely innocent. “Then there were all the times you cheated in Quidditch – ”

 
“I never cheated in Quidditch!”

 
“ – and you broke into our common room in second-year because you mistakenly assumed me to be a murderer – ”

 
“Because you worked so hard to look innocent in that affair,” Harry muttered angrily. “Besides, what about when you told on Norbert, and when you started the ‘Potter Stinks’ club, and when you broke my nose – ”

 
Deciding to let our husbands bond fondly over their old school memories, Ginny and I detached ourselves from them gently. They didn’t even notice. They were too busy discussing their past in a thought-provoking and calm manner which set an example to the children around us.

 
“ – publicly humiliated me – ”

 
“ – called her a mudblood!”

 
“And you tricked me!”

 
“Then that bloody trip jinx...!”

 
I figured that the rational and intelligent conversation would occupy the two men for the rest of the afternoon, leaving me free to work out the mystery of Scorpius’ girlfriend.

 
But as it turned out, I didn’t have to work it out. The crowd of teenagers who’d been loitering on the dock had all dawdled their way up the garden as the scent of frying sausages permeated the air, and were approaching Ginny and I at a rapid pace. I could almost smell Scorpius’ nerves as he looked at me.

 
“...and then he said, well, that’s really put the cauldron in the fire!” Percy was guffawing heartily at his own joke, although the only other person who seemed to find it amusing was Mrs Weasley. Which, I thought, was rather sad, considering she had to laugh, seeing as she was his mother and all that. But when I saw Scorpius approaching, I forced a laugh as well and turned my back on the group of teenagers.

 
As I laughed, Luna Scamander looked up at me and with that ethereal tone to her voice, said curiously, “You’re weird, Astoria.”

 
Ignoring the irony of that sentence with a real Malfoy-like disdain, I simply smiled sweetly back at her. “People have differing senses of humour, Luna.”

 
“And some people just have plain weird ones,” I could hear Angelina mutter. When I looked at her, she simply echoed my sweet smile, her eyes twinkling in with unspoken glee.

 
I let the conversation drift onto new topics, trying to pull together what little courage I had to face my son, who I knew would ambush me the minute I turned around. I glanced hopefully over at Draco, but apparently my moral support was still involved in his heated argument with the Boy Who Lived. Apparently, Ronald Weasley had decided his friend could use some help, and now the three of them stood there, bickering away like three-year-olds over a toy.

 
Sighing inwardly, I clenched my fists, then turned around.

 
I jumped as I realised Scorpius was stood right there, reaching out to tap my shoulder, and pressed a hand to my heart in shock. He looked as surprised as I did, but then cleared his throat.

 
Panicking slightly, I did the only thing a mother can do. I fussed. “Scorpius! What on earth have you done with your hair?” I frowned as I licked my thumb and then wiped at a smudge of dust on his cheek. He ducked away, his cheeks flaming red in embarrassment. “Honestly, I – ”

 
“Mum, I’d like you to meet my new girlfriend.” A rustle of clothes to his left indicated the cow who was stealing my son was stood there.

 
I stared at him for a moment, then continued, “I do despair of you sometimes, sweetheart. I really do. You ought to care more about your appearance. You may not resemble a ferret to the same extent as your father, seeing as you inherited my good genes and all, but I don’t see why you can’t just cut it a few more inches – ”

 
“Mum, this is my girlfriend – remember, the one I told you about?” He was scarlet now, and I vaguely realised I was mortifying him, just like my parents had when I started dating Draco. I still cringed at the memories of her patting Draco’s arse and telling me “you’ve picked a keeper here, Astoria”.


My memories of my past humiliation managed to give me the courage to finally zone out of mother-hen mode and back into my vaguely-sane-or-at-least-attempting-to-appear-so mindset. He gestured to his left again, clearly wanting me to switch on the Malfoy charm (ahahaha) and astound her. I steeled myself.

 
For a moment, I couldn’t look to the side, preferring to stare at my beautiful, handsome son and wonder how a bloody Weasley could dare to corrupt some masculine perfection. Merlin had blessed me indeed to have such a beacon of light and joy spring from my womb.

 
...and that was one thought I was never going to say out loud. I’d humiliated Scorpius enough for one day. Maybe tomorrow.

 
Finally, I managed to drag my gaze to the girl stood beside him.

 
She was a little shorter than him – so just below my height – and she was barefoot (oh, the things you notice when your world is falling apart!). Clearly, she’d made an effort for this meeting with her precious boyfriend’s parents, because she was wearing a modest blue skirt and well-fitted floral blouse, while the other teenagers stood about were just in shorts and t-shirts.


Desperate. She’s clearly desperate for you to like her. Merlin, what a harpy.

 
Neatly curled red hair, a little bit bushy, but more fluffy than anything else, framed a heart-shaped face. With relief, I noticed she didn’t have the common Weasley freckles, and her blue eyes were wide with nerves as she held out a hand for me to shake.


“Nice to meet you, Ast – Mrs Malfoy,” she said nervously, ignoring the fact we’d (sort of) known each other for several years now. “I’m Dominique Weasley.”

 

 


expecting that? no? good ^^ 

i’m assuming most of you believed it would be Rose (reviews gave that away!), especially as there’s that pairing mentioned in the information of this story. i’m saying nothing. but my guess is that most of you won’t be able to work out how that pairing fits into this story :D i’d love to hear your theories, though! go wild!

cheers!



Chapter 4: Judged
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“Lookin’ good, Mrs M!”

 
“Thank you, James,” I said primly, after resolving the issue of whether to blush at the eighteen-year-old’s compliments or not. I decided not to, because Draco already look murderous and I doubted Scorpius would thank me for accidentally killing his (ugh) girlfriend’s cousin.

 
He blew a strand of his black hair out of his eyes and wolf-whistled at me as I leant over to help myself to some salad. I could almost feel Draco’s intense irritation, and smirked inwardly. “I hear you’re having my brother and sister to stay for the next two weeks?” James asked politely.

 
I smiled at him. “Yes, I am.”

 
“Are you an angel?”

 
“Don’t be fooled by appearances,” Draco said silkily, and made James jump and look up at him.

 
I bit my lip to hide a smile at the shell-shocked expression James wore as he realised he’d angered the Malfoy patriarch, and had to go all out just to stop a laugh escaping as the same flirtatious expression crossed his face. “Don’t you look dashing today, Mr M?”

 
And there was Draco Malfoy, completely out of words.

 
“That’s enough, James,” I said sternly – or at least, I tried to. My words were slightly muffled by the hand I had pressed to my mouth to stop the laughter. “Draco’s not used to being found attractive, so don’t rib him too much.”

 
James chuckled and winked a brown eye slowly at me, biting his bottom lip in what was clearly meant to be a seductive fashion. Suddenly terrified I would be witnessing a homicide, I snatched at Draco’s hand to try and tether him in one place. “Let me know if you ever get bored of him, Mrs Malfoy,” he purred, putting on that so-called ‘fit’ look that the fashion magazines swooned over (Yes, I read fashion magazines. When the choice is between that and talking to Draco, you’d be surprised how much your opinions are widened).

 
“James,” I began, highly amused, “I’m not into crable-robbing. If Draco hadn’t pissed about for so long with the proposal, Scorpius might’ve been your age.”

 
“But is it really robbing if this cradle wants to be stolen?” James persisted, running a hand through his hair in a way that seemed extremely characteristic of Potter males. Maybe it was a shampoo.

 
I stared at him for a moment, and shook my head slowly. “You’re incorrigible.” He seemed set to make another smart remark, so I cut him off sharply. “Draco is about ten seconds away from removing your head from your shoulders, so if you quite like living, you’d back off.”

 
“Piss off, James.” At first, I thought it was Draco who’d said that, but it then occurred to me (an embarrassingly long time later) that he would not have reacted in such a muted fashion, nor did he sound like a teenage girl (mostly).

 
“Aw, Rose!” he complained, turning to face the girl who’d appeared at his elbow. “I was having fun!”

 
“It’s all fun until someone ends up murdered by Draco Malfoy,” she scolded him.

 
She had a striking resemblance to her cousin (that bitch) Dominique, in that they both looked like the quintessential Weasley. Thick red hair, their fathers’ blue eyes, a similar thin gangliness – however, Dominique was more slender than skinny, and this Weasley had more than just a smattering of freckles. She was an average girl, I supposed, who clearly spent too long reading, judging by the glasses tucked into her shirt pocket, rather than straightening her mess of hair.

 
“You’re such a killjoy,” James muttered, shooting his cousin a scowl.

 
She ignored him and turned to me, extending a hand. “Rose Weasley,” she introduced herself, much more brazenly than Dominique. “And of course, you’re Astoria Greengrass.”

 
“Yes,” I agreed, unsure of what she wanted me to say to that statement, then hastily corrected her, “Uh, Malfoy. Astoria Malfoy, sadly enough.” I shook her offered hand and said politely, “It’s lovely to meet you, Rose. I think we met once or twice before, when you were littler.” When that thought occurred to me, I turned back to James. “The same goes for you. I first met you when you were about six-years-old. I was married with a kid then, too. So this flirting...that’s just...wrong.”

 
Draco’s hand was clenched around mine so tightly I was beginning to envision life without a functioning left hand.

 
“I have matured – ” James declared impressively.

 
Rose laughed.

 
Before he could pursue that thought, there was a loud yell, accompanied by an ear-piercing shriek from behind us. We all turned around to see the other two Potter children dropping their paper plates of barbeque food and sprinting at top speed across the lawn towards their brother, wildly excited expressions on their faces.


Lily was the first to smack into her eldest brother, and he barely managed to keep his balance as she leapt at him, arms and legs flying wildly. Less than a second later, Albus smashed into them, sending all three of them falling to the ground in a mass of writhing limbs and half-muffled yells and shrieks.

 
Rose dodged neatly to the side as one of James’ legs flailed near her, wearing a disapproving expression. “Sorry ‘bout that,” she said to me. “They’ve done it since they were all able to walk.”

 
“Looks like it hurts,” Draco observed, sounding like he hoped it did. I refrained from digging my nails into his palm because I was proud of him for overcoming his annoyance at James so quickly.

 
“It does,” Rose laughed. “Last summer, they spent the first family barbeque in Saint Mungo’s after they greeted each other on the cliff near my Uncle Bill’s cottage.”

 
“Cottage,” I heard Draco scoff disdainfully under his breath, and rolled my eyes.

 
The other adults had – of course – heard and seen the exchange between the Potter siblings, but clearly it was a rather normal event, as they all turned back to eating and talking loudly as if they hadn’t been interrupted. I sighed exasperatedly and whipped my wand out, walking away from the food table and approaching the now-groaning teenagers. Draco seemed reluctant to let go of my hand, so I dragged him with me.

 
Albus was the closest, and had his eyes scrunched up in pain as I knelt down awkwardly, Draco refusing to squat and make it easier for me. “Alright, where does it hurt?” I asked gently. I worked as a Healer at St Mungo’s, in the children’s ward, but that was only in term-time.

 
Despite his apparent agony, he smiled at me (he grimaced) and said cheerfully (in a pained groan), “Afternoon, Mrs Malfoy!”

 
“Yes, yes, good afternoon,” I said distractedly, yanking my hand from Draco’s violently as I inspected a cut the idiot boy had received just underneath his hairline. With a few muttered incantations, I’d healed most of his injuries and warned him, “Next time you feel like jumping on your brother, do it where there’s less concrete, alright?”


“Gotcha,” he agreed. I loved Albus. He was so easy-going. Picture Draco (it might be painful at first, but bear with me). Now, picture the opposite of him, and that’s pretty much Albus. A fairly well-built but scrawny kid with his father’s eyes and hair and his mother’s sense of humour and honesty.

 
I turned to Lily next, who was sat up and making no effort to hide the fact she wasn’t feeling particularly brilliant at that moment. “Piss, piss, piss,” she was muttering, looking entirely hacked off.

 
“Where did you get hurt?” I asked, and she looked up at me as I knelt beside her.

 
“Oh, hi, Mrs Malfoy!” she smiled at me, in an eerily similar fashion to her brother. “Did you do something with your hair?”


“No, actually,” I smiled at her. Lily was the charmer of the family – all the smooth-talking of James, the combined beauty and charisma of her parents, and the easy-going, brutally honest nature of Albus. Draco would kill me if I ever told anyone, but he adored Lily (in secret, of course. You couldn’t have Draco Malfoy feeling fatherly about a Potter). My theory for his surprising friendliness towards her was they were both similar – stubborn and convinced of their own looks and popularity. The only difference between them in this was that Lily’s ego was built on truth. “Where’d you hurt yourself?”








“Ah, my hip, and – ouch, yeah, my stomach and pretty much all my back,” she muttered. As I worked some magic, I could hear Draco shifting behind me, torn between checking the baby Potter was alright, and retaining the aloof, up-himself attitude he liked to present.

 
“Got squashed between James and Albus?” I asked sympathetically, and she nodded, sighing in relief as the grazes melted from sight. She held up a piece of her now-gritty dark red hair and grimaced.

 
“Alright, I’m gonna go clean myself up,” she decided out loud. “Cheers, Astoria.” With that, she jumped to her feet and headed inside, trailing behind Albus like she’d done since they were tiny.

 
I stood up and eyed James, who was clearly waiting for me to come and heal him, a grin emblazoned on his face. “Draco – ” I started, before deciding that asking Draco to heal James Potter would be like asking Voldemort to host a tea party. It was unlikely to happen, and if it did happen, someone was bound to end up poisoned.

Screw it, I decided, and turned my back on James. I’m married to a Slytherin. I’m allowed to be a bitch.

 
“How’s the barbeque for you, Draco?” I asked, turning to face my husband with a smile. “Enjoying yourself?”

 
My breath caught at the look on his face. He looked entirely pissed off, and his anger was directed at the eldest Potter child. When I turned around, I caught James miming some entirely inappropriate things before he hastily stopped. A redhaired cousin flopped down beside him, roaring with laughter.

 
“Draco,” I said again, rolling my eyes inwardly. Bloody prat. Feeling threatened by an eighteen-year-old? Merlin, what a high opinion he held of me.

 
“Astoria,” he managed to get out, between hissed teeth. “Mind telling me why there’s a teenager convinced that you’re good between the sheets?”

 
I blinked stupidly at him for a moment before breaking into hysterical laughter.

 
His scowl deepened.

 
“Two things,” I said, once I’d managed to get a grip on myself and stopped cackling like a rabid hyena, “firstly, I would never cheat on you, let alone with James Potter – perhaps his father –” at the look on Draco’s face, I realised joking was not helping the situation, and continued hastily, “no, not even then. And secondly, if you keep scowling like that, you’re going to get wrinkles, and Merlin knows, you’re ugly enough as it is.”

 
I pecked his cheek, then took his hand again and dragged him back towards the crowd of adults.

 
“I could never look wrinkled when I’m next to you,” he muttered.


“Then I guess you’ll just have to stick with me,” I returned cheerily, and sat down in one of the deckchairs near Angelina.

 
“I don’t know how you do it, you know,” she said as I nodded to the chair beside me and Draco sat down like a sulky child. “Sure, he’s not exactly hard on the eyes – ”

 
I could hear Draco’s ego inflating.

 
“ – at least, he wasn’t – age is a bit of a kicker there,” she continued, her eyes laughing silently as Draco’s moody expression settled back into place. “But honestly, he’s a total prat – why did you even get married?”

 
“I ask myself the same question everyday,” I said, and Draco nodded wholeheartedly in agreement, muttering a “hear, hear” under his breath.

 
At his acknowledgement of my words, Angelina’s eyes sparked with amusement. “Ah,” she smirked. “So you do have some things in common, then?”


“No!” we both protested, scowling more deeply at each other.

 
She sighed and popped a tomato into her mouth, still smirking away at us. “Then I conclude you got married because you deserved each other.”

 
“I don’t like you,” Draco said to her, no hint of regret to his tone. I reached out and smacked his shoulder, rolling my eyes at Angelina, who was choking on the tomato as she tried to control her laughter.

 
Anyway,” I cut in, feeling it had gone far enough, “Draco, Scorpius introduced me to his girlfriend.”

 
Draco gave me a blank stare which clearly suggested he didn’t care.

 
Girlfriend?” Angelina spoke up in surprise, having cleared her airways and gotten over her fit of laughter. “No offence, but he is a bit of a pretty-boy – ”

 
“Spitting image of Draco,” I agreed, earning a scowl from Draco.

Apparently, having aspersions cast on Scorpius’ stud status was enough to make the news of Scorpius’s new pet interesting to my husband, who said with a slight sneer, “I assume she’s good-looking enough for our boy? Although – she is a Weasley.”

 
Angelina’s face contorted into a scowl, but she managed to control herself enough to turn her back on us and join in the conversation with the Scamanders on her other side.

 
Draco was wearing a smug smirk as he looked at me, and I sighed in exasperation. “This is why we never go out anymore,” I muttered to myself, then raised my voice slightly and said, “She’s not pretty. She has that horrible tarty ginger hair – ” one of the Weasley horde overheard this and scowled at me “ – and she’s exceedingly overweight, and she has the worst personality of anyone I’ve ever met – ”

 
“Astoria,” he drawled, his smirk widening, “you’re lying to me.”

 
We held eye contact for a few short minutes before I buckled. “Alright. I am.” Then, out of curiosity, I asked, “How did you know?”

 
“If Scorpius looks anything like I did at that age...”

 
I hit his arm again, causing him to choke on the mouthful of butterbeer he’d just taken. “Egotistical prat,” I murmured under my breath, although I couldn’t help but agree. My son was fantastically handsome. Honestly, I didn’t know where he’d gotten those good genes from – Merlin knew, it wasn’t from Draco.

 

*

 

“...Dominique Weasley.”

 
Draco was studying the girl who was stood in front of him through cold, calculating eyes. She looked about ready to piss herself, which was making me exceedingly proud of Draco. Scorpius was scowling at his father, clearly aware of his goal to make this ‘Dominique’ – such a stripper name, no class whatsoever – as uncomfortable as possible.

 
“And you already met Mum,” he said to the girl, who reached out for his hand to comfort herself. I gave her a piercing stare, and she stepped away from my son hastily. Scorpius seemed unsure of whom he was most annoyed at, Draco or myself.

 
“Lovely to see you again, Mrs Malfoy,” she said, a little unsteadily. I felt a rise of triumph inside me. Scared? She should be. At a sideways glance from Scorpius, the little cow stood up straighter and asked, “May I call you Astoria?”


“No,” I replied. “I love your blouse, Dominic. Where did you get it?”

 
Dominique.”

 
“That’s what I said, Scorpius,” I waved him off, then gave the son-stealing thief a cold smile. “Your blouse?”

 
She tugged at the blue floral thing between her fingers and straightened it. “It was my sister’s,” she said, with a small, nervous grin.

 
“Ah, a hand-me-down,” I said, then nudged Draco, who released her from his cold stare and gave me a small, almost invisible smirk. Circe, we were a good team. “Isn’t that just precious, Draco?”


“Very,” he agreed in that cold drawl of his, eying the blouse with great disdain. “Real family spirit.”

 
“I’ve always admired your family’s great sense of charity.” I watched her cringe, and felt my great sense of victory increase. “When we’re done with Scorpius’s old clothes, we like to pass them along to the children’s ward in St. Mungo’s, you know.” I waved a hand dismissively, then smiled slowly, “One must always get the most use out of clothing, after all. Don’t you agree, Dominic?”

 
“Quite,” she managed to get out, her cheeks a bright pink that clashed disgustingly with her hair.


“Mother,” Scorpius cut across, and that’s when I knew how annoyed he was with me. It was always ‘Mum’. His cheeks too were tinted pink, but while she was flushed with humiliation, he was just angry. It actually made me rather proud of him – and they said Slytherins didn’t have a backbone? “Dominique was hoping to introduce you properly to her parents.”

 
Draco’s smirk didn’t falter as he said smoothly, “By all means, go ahead. We’d love to see where such a – ah, interesting person as yourself came from.”

 
Her face looked like it was hotter than the sun. I wondered how much embarrassment it would take until she either combusted or broke up with my son. Then, he would be so emotionally scarred, he might never date again.

 
Perhaps him having a girlfriend wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

 
“Of c-course,” she said after a short pause where she clearly was struggling for words. “I-I’ll just go get them.”

 
She all but ran from us. I wondered if she could hear Draco’s next comment of, “Does she have a speech impediment? Maybe he feels sorry for her.” I would have felt guilty, but she was dating my son. Collateral damage and all that.

 
Scorpius rounded on us as soon as she was out of earshot. “What are you doing?” he hissed, his ears scarlet with a mixture of embarrassment and fury. “Mum, her name is Dominique. Call her Dominic one more time and I’ll be forced to prove that she’s female.” I winced at that. Draco didn’t seem particularly fazed by that threat, funnily enough. “Dad – stop looking at her like she’s something you want to Crucio.”

 
Draco ‘s smirk slipped from his face and he winked slowly at our son in a rather inappropriate fashion which he received an elbow in the ribs from me for. “Well done,” he said approvingly. “Her face is symmetrical.”

 
I rolled my eyes and shifted so that I was stood mostly in Draco’s shadow, the sun irritating me. We were stood a little way from the main group of talking Weasleys, who had taken shelter under a gazebo which Ronald had made rather a hash of putting up until his wife’s irritated growl of “Are you a wizard or what?!” The little cow my son was dating had slipped into the midst of the rabble.

 
“Please, try and be nice,” Scorpius pleaded, widening his grey eyes at me in a way that reminded me of a starving niffler – desperate for a shiny treat. I sighed inwardly, trying to choose between my son’s wishes and his best interests.

 
“Stay strong, Astoria,” Draco murmured in my ear, and looped an arm around my waist as the little hag reappeared from the midst of the Weasleys, two adults trailing behind her, looking rather unenthusiastic.

 
It surprised me when I saw the old Head Girl of Beauxbatons, flicking her silvery hair over her shoulder and walking towards us with an unreadable expression on her face. I didn’t go to many Weasley-Potter gatherings (the reason for which stood with his arm around me) so to find her married into the Weasley clan – well, I was a little surprised. I’d always thought Fleur whatever-her-name-was had some class.

 
The man beside her had a dark scowl on his face as he fixed his gaze on my son, and automatically, I disliked him. Besides the urge to kill my son that he was so obviously flaunting, he had long ginger hair which was swept back into a ponytail and an earring. Need I say more? I didn’t think so.

 
“Mr and Mrs Malfoy, I’d like you to meet my mother and father, Bill and Fleur Weasley,” Dominic said breathily, sharing a terrified look with my son.

 
“Fleur,” I said politely, and crossed the gap to kiss her on both cheeks. “Ca va?”

 
She squinted at me, then her face lit up. “Astoria!” she exclaimed. “Zees eez a surprise!” Clearly, surprise brought out a more pronounced accent.

 
At the blank looks on our children’s faces, I explained slowly – I wasn’t sure how educated Dominic was, and I’m nothing if not generous to the dim-witted – “Fleur was the Head Girl at Beauxbatons while I was in my third year. She used to tutor me for Arithmancy.”

 
“A small world,” Draco said coolly, eying the part-Veela woman with a mixture of disdain and appreciation that made me scowl. “You might remember me from Hogwarts, Miss Delacour.”

 
“Mrs Weasley,” she corrected him. “And, oui, I think I do! You were zee annoying one who was following Viktor, no?”

 
I bit my lip to stop from smiling at the affronted expression on my husband’s face, and Scorpius snorted quietly, drawing our attention back to the matter in hand. The slaggy cow next to him paled and this time summoned up the nerve to actually grip my son’s hand. The nerve of her! Right in front of me, as well!

 
“So, my daughter and your son, hmm?” Fleur frowned. “I suppose eet could be worse.”

 
“Quite,” I agreed, thinking that it could only have been worse if Scorpius was dating the Giant Squid. Or, Merlin forbid, one of the Golden Trio’s children.

 
“You should come over for dinner thees summer,” she decided, smiling at me. “We can deescuss the old days over some coffee – I can’t stand tea, I think eet is disgusting Engleesh stuff.”

 
“We should,” I nodded politely, not wanting to appear completely rude. Besides, it was alright for me to appear friendly with Dominic’s mother – Draco had the hostility covered with his staring match with the fang-eared freak. If Scorpius was to make that man somehow related to me...I shuddered at the thought and reassured myself that I had the next two weeks to make sure that never happened.

 
“I ‘ear you have invited Dominique to stay wiz you for zee next fortnight?” Fleur said, clearly thinking something similar to me – I could see the mistrustful glare she was giving Draco out of the corner of her eye, and smiled slightly to myself. “Zat is very generous of you.”

 
“It would be our pleasure,” I replied calmly. Inside I was not calm – generous? Was she so desperate to get precious little Dominic out of her hair? Oh, Merlin. My son was dating the spawn of Satan. Or worse – the spawn of Bill Weasley.

 
“Out of interest – ‘oo else eez staying wiz you?” Fleur asked after a short pause, clearly because there was nothing else to keep the awkward conversation afloat. The teenagers were both petrified with nerves, and the two men were both absorbed in a fierce stare-down.

 
“Scorpius ‘as informed me,” I accidentally mimicked her slight accent and winced inwardly as her eyes narrowed, “that Lily, Albus, Dominic – que, the Scamander boys and Rose, apparently – ” I had been informed of this last one approximately ten minutes before “ – are staying for the next two weeks.”

 
“I see,” she said, then narrowed her eyes further. “There will be proper – ah – supervision? Zey will not be left alone?”

 
“Of course not,” I hastened to reassure her, slightly insulted that she would consider me that irresponsible. Like I would leave six teenagers on their own in a manor. Merlin knows what they would get up to.

 
She appeared to relax. “Then eet will be okay, I think.”

 
There was an awkward silence again, and I finally nudged Draco gently to try and reawaken him. He glanced away from the glaring ginger man in front of him to frown at me. “What, Astoria?” he hissed. “I was winning!”

 
I realised I rolled my eyes far too much to be healthy as I suppressed the urge to do just that, and just muttered, “You’re being antisocial.”


“You have a lovely daughter, Fleur,” he said almost before I’d finished, suddenly charming and refined. He ran a hand through his mop of platinum hair and smiled alluringly at her. I blinked a little, shocked at the change and already missing the sullen prat I was used to. “She’s already told us about your charitable natures, and was so very eager to introduce us.” The hag in question flushed a dark red, and Scorpius sent a look that could have killed at his father. Pride blossomed in my chest, quite possibly for the first time, at Draco’s cold smooth-talking.

 
The man beside Fleur finally stirred, and spoke for the first time in a dark, angry growl. “If your son hurts my little girl, Malfoy, then Merlin save me, I will kill you.” There were faint scars on the man’s face and it suddenly occurred to me exactly where I’d heard the name ‘Bill Weasley’ before – at Teddy Lupin’s wedding, Ginny had explained the story of Fenrir Greyback’s attack on her brother to me. And the man responsible for letting that werewolf into the school in the first place?

 
“Please, Weasley,” my husband drawled lazily, a mildly amused expression playing across his face, “I highly doubt you know which end of your wand the spell would come from.”

 
“Who needs a wand to kill a ferret?” the eldest Weasley asked. Draco’s expression tightened, as did his grip around my waist. “You wring their necks, with your bare hands.”

 
“Watch who you insult,” Draco half-snarled, his eyes leaping to life as a dangerous light flickered in them.

 
Bill looked set to reply, but I decided it had gone far enough. As much as I loved to hate my husband, no one should have the joy of murdering him but me. “You are insulting your daughter’s choice in boyfriend,” I reminded the tall redhead calmly. “And we are not judging your daughter on any of the crimes your family has committed against ours – so please, do us the same courtesy.”

 
He looked set to argue, but the look on either mine or Draco’s faces must have stopped him. It surprised me that the supposed victors of the War could be so naive – surely they knew their victories came at a cost?

 
Fleur was fuming. “WILLIAM WEASLEY!” she yelled at her spouse, who winced. “How dare you insult zee family of Dominique’s petit ami! I am ashamed of you!” Her accent was becoming more pronounced as she continued to yell, until half of it was in garbled French. But the last sentence was uncomfortably clear – “SCORPIUS EEZ A PART OF ZEES FAMILY WHILE HE EEZ DATING OUR DAUGHTER!”

 
Like one beast, the heads of every Weasley snapped towards our little group, zoning in on Scorpius. My son had gone pale, and Dominic had also gone the colour of a pasty cheese (how unattractive. What on earth did he see in her?), and I could see his eyes darting from side to side, testing to see if it was worth making a run for it.

 
He tried – and didn’t get very far. A jinx flew from the end of Teddy Lupin’s wand which hit him between the shoulder blades, locking his limbs together and bringing my poor baby boy to the ground. As one, various cousins and siblings closed in on Scorpius, all wearing some form of evil smirk or scowl, and most with wands drawn. Several colourful threats were already being issued by a certain Louis Weasley as he passed us to join the crowd around our son.

 
I hadn’t realised that Draco’s arm around my waist had become a vice to stop me whipping out my wand and cursing the whole lot of them to smithereens.

 
Well, apparently Draco did know enough about social niceties to know hexing your host’s family wasn’t...ideal.

 
A load of cursing came from the group of teenagers, then it fell silent and I watched with baited breath as Scorpius got to his feet – there was soil in his blond hair and again, I felt Draco restraining me. Bloody bastard.

 
“This is for dating my sister in secret!” Louis yelled suddenly, and then a fist smashed into my son’s face. Several gasps, and a few cheers rose up from the group around him – one particular cheer came from Ronald Weasley, but a hissed “sit down and take that smirk off your face, Ronald!” from his wife had him silenced.


Draco was still holding me in place as I watched my son pinch the bridge of his bleeding nose. “I knew we shouldn’t have let him date a Weasley,” I breathed, ignoring the fact that we hadn’t let him do anything.

 
My husband chuckled, sounding genuinely amused for the first time that day. “Are you joking?” he asked, still watching our poor, sweet boy try to mop up the scarlet fountain erupting from his nose. “If I get to watch Scorpius be humiliated like this everyday, he can date every bloody Weasley he wants.”

 






okay, i have a few things to blather about and i pray *fingers crossed* that this little author's note will not be too long.

last chapter, i dropped the Dominique bomb on you all. first off, thank you (<3) for the response i got on the chapter. and also, to all you worried Rose/Scorpius 'shippers - that pairing is listed for a reason. i would not lie to you about that. :D

(edit: just wrote a ScoRose scene. feeling comforted yet? ;D)



Chapter 5: Poisoned
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 I slid in between the silk sheets and stretched luxuriously, settling myself down comfortably on the plush pillows. Draco was still stood by the wardrobe, running a comb through his hair as if the blond locks were more precious to him than anything in the world (knowing him, they probably were). I watched him lazily for a moment, before growing bored.

 
“Draco, get your arse to bed.”

 
He spared me a disparaging look and said dryly, “With a bedfellow as charming as yourself, how could I resist?” I rolled my eyes at him as he carefully placed the comb on the wardrobe shelf and then crawled into the bed beside me.

 
There was a short silence as he settled himself next to me, sighing loudly as he relaxed completely. I waited until his eyes were closed before –

 
“She’s a bitch.”

 
A groan escaped him. “Circe, Astoria, can’t we go for one night without your incessant whining? I just want to sleep.”

 
“Honestly, how could she even think she’s worthy of him? It’s quite clear from one look that’s she not his type. How many people actually like gingers?”

 
“As valid as your points may be,” Draco snapped, shuffling around with a rustle of sheets so he was facing away from me, “keep them to yourself, please. I’m tired, I’ve had a bad day full of bloody Weasleys and I just want to be comatose before hell sets in again tomorrow.”

 
I stared at him for a moment.

 
“I put an Incendio charm on her doorway so she can’t try to sneak out. Stupid little sneaky cow, it would probably be exactly what she’d try to do.” I ignored the inconsequential fact that I knew nothing about this girl. I knew her type – the slaggy, son-stealing type. No doubt she was planning to get get pregnant and snatch a hefty chunk of the Malfoy fortune. Bitch. “I won’t allow her to deflower my son, I won’t!”

 
My husband sat up abruptly, and when he turned to face me, his nose was wrinkled in distaste. “Thank you for that mental image, dear,” he bit out the words with venom, looking completely disgusted at the thought.

 
“You’re welcome,” I said absent-mindedly. “Anyway – ”

 
“Hang on – you put an incendio charm on her doorway?!”

 
I gave him a confused glance. “Of course I did, dear. Keep up.”

 
His expression as he gazed at me was a mixture of wonder, fear and lust. “You’re a homicidal bitch,” he breathed. Judging by the suggestive smirk he then gave me, this was no bad thing.

 
I could feel my eyebrows furrowing as I ignored him completely, still deep in thought. “The charm I put on the door should hold, right? Maybe I should strengthen it too, yes – and put it on the windows, too – oh, Circe, the windows!” I sat bolt upright, my mouth popping open. I scrambled for the edge of the bed, mind already on the various ways I would gut Dominic, when I was pulled back with a jerk. I turned around to give Draco a scowl, and detached his hand from my silky nightdress with a frown. “Get off me, you prat. I need to protect my son’s innocence.”

 
He had that facial expression – that one where his eyes were puffing outwards like his face was being squashed because he was struggling not to roll his eyes. He always looked like a prat when he made that face. No, scratch that – he looked like more of a prat.

 
“I’m sure that is a very virtuous mission and no doubt he would be very pleased if you were to save him from possibly losing his ‘innocence’.” Draco’s voice was dripping with sarcasm, and his sketched air quotation marks added fuel to my growing temper. “However, I don’t think I’m going to let you.” His voice lowered into a darkly amused, clearly-meant-to-be-seductive tone as he tugged me back towards him.

 
I raised an eyebrow at him and moved away again. “We’re not having sex tonight.”

 
Had he completely forgotten that our son’s innocence was on the line, or was he just stupid enough to believe I could forget about it?

 
“If Scorpius isn’t, someone’s got to,” he muttered angrily, shooting me a murderous glare.

 
“If you wanted sex with no strings attached, then you shouldn’t have gotten married,” I informed him. His scowl grew as I continued, “Trust me, we’d all have been a lot happier.”

 
He looked mutinous for a moment before his expression suddenly brightened up and he settled back on his pillows with a contented grin on his lips. “Yeah, and Scorpius wouldn’t exist.”

 
“Don’t be a bitch,” I scolded him. Without waiting for him to reply, I shuffled to the edge of the bed and picked up my wand, summoning my comfy, battered old slippers and tugging them on. “Where’s my mohair dressing gown?”

 
“I don’t know,” he said sullenly.

 
“You’re such a grump.” I summoned it as well; it flew from the bathroom and I caught it neatly, tugging my arms through the sleeves.

 
When I stood up, I heard a rustle of bedsheets; I turned around to see Draco shrugging on his ‘business-man sleep-suit’ (his dressing gown) and standing up as well. When I tilted my head at him in curiosity, he blinked stupidly for a moment before shaking his own head firmly. “No – no, I’m not helping you. I’m actually trying to stop you.”

 
“Still no sex.”

 
He scowled at me for a moment, that sulky pout he wore so often settling into its familiar place. “I’m trying to do the right thing.”

 
It was like someone had poured me an overdose of Essence of Euphoria; I could feel the tears beading up in my eyes and threatening to overflow. I tried several times to speak, but my words were too choked up on giggles. His folded arms and irritated huffiness just added to my hysteria.

 
After an eternity, I managed to pull myself together. “You’re not scared about Scorpius’ innocence, are you? You’re worried about what Bill Weasley will do to you if our son knocks up his daughter.” His lack of response (besides tying his dressing gown shut with unnecessary force) just confirmed my suspicions, and I couldn’t stop the huge grin from spreading over my face.

 
“Shut up,” he snapped, and his obvious touchiness was just confirmation. Deciding that his mind would torment him better with the torture Bill Weasley would put him through than I ever could, I actually obeyed him and stayed silent as I linked my arm through his and Disapparated.

 

*

 

“Levitate me.”

 
“What – no. Astoria, for fuck’s sake – ” He gave a girlish shriek as I flicked my wand at him and he was dragged into the air by his ankle. Always came in useful, that charm. “Put me down!” he ordered, glaring at me.

 
“Shut up and put the damn charm on her window already,” I hissed at him. “You’ll wake her up.”

 
At those last few words, any anger in his expression dissolved and a triumphant sneer slid into place. I knew what he was planning almost before he did, and with a jerk of my wand, dropped him to the floor in a crumpled heap and then silenced him.

 
Stupid sod.

 
I watched him, sadistically amused by his slow and painful movements to his feet. We were in the winter courtyard of the manor, a fairly large expanse of various winter plants (both magical and muggle) currently hibernating through the summer around us. Just Draco’s luck, really, that I’d been levitating him above one of the marble paths leading around the courtyard.

 
Dominic’s window was two floors above us; Lily’s was on the right and Rose to the left. On the opposite side of the courtyard, Albus and those two freakishly similar worms, the Scamanders, had their own bedrooms. I, of course, had been forced to stop Draco from rubbing the size of our home in their faces when we showed them to their rooms for the next fortnight. I hadn’t been able to resist, however, pointing out that Dominic’s room was probably big enough to house the whole Weasley harem.

 
I was still unsure as to how clear I was being about my blatant dislike for her. She was a stupid cow after all; how long would it take for the message to sink in? I made up my mind to be a bitch at breakfast as well.

 
Maybe I’d slip some comments in about how my bitchiness genes would almost certainly show up in Scorpius’ offspring. Or mention Scorpius’ penchant for knitting magazines.

 
Not that that last one was true. Trust me, considering how often I searched my son’s room (and I mean searched – not just rifled through. Top to bottom, side to side, inside out), there was no way he could hide anything from me.

 
I made a mental note to make sure Scorpius never found out about those searches. He’d be embarrassed if he knew I’d found his Playwizard magazines and those incriminating pink boxers he found so comfortable.

 
Draco’s muttered cursewords ripped me from my musings on the oddness that was my son, and I turned to face the wincing, messy-haired, bruised husband of mine with a small smile. “Changed your mind on levitating me yet?”

 
How could I trust him to levitate me? Easily. I knew Draco valued his broomstick (take that as an innuendo if you feel so inclined – it makes sense either way) too much to risk letting me fall.

 
“Fine,” he groaned, and swished and flicked his wand as he non-verbally levitated me.

 
As I rose into the air, I grabbed the skirt of my nightdress and inwardly cursed. “Draco, don’t you dare – ”

 
“Too late,” he said, and without looking, I could tell he was smirking. Git. If I wasn’t worried it would distract him from levitating me, he’d have been covered all over (all over) with purple boils by now.

 
He moved me slightly closer to the wall, and as I reached the white windowframe, I gripped it tightly in my fingers. My husband wasn’t known for his brilliant attention span and fabulous spell-casting.

 
The room was dark; the bed in the centre of the room contained one sleeping figure, and I nodded to myself with satisfaction as I recognised Dominic’s disgustingly common red hair. It wouldn’t be too upsetting if she did try to sneak out of her room now, actually; it might burn that hideous ginger mop off her head. A great service to the world.

 
I slashed my wand in an X and murmured “Incendio” under my breath. A red-tinted sheen floated in front of the glass for a moment before fading from sight at a few muttered incantations.

 
Barely a second after I’d done this, I was suddenly falling through the air. Unable to help myself, I let out a scream which stopped abruptly as I landed in the Flutterby bush under the window. The leaves were as soft as the salesman had told me when I’d bought it, but that didn’t diminish my anger.

 
“Draco fucking Malfoy,” I hissed, struggling to roll out of the bush – part of my nightdress was caught on a branch. “I hope you enjoy celibacy, you stupid git.”

 
He was stood on the marble path, one pale eyebrow arched at me and possibly the widest smirk I’d ever seen stretched across his thin lips (he looked like a complete idiot. I say this as an impartial bystander, of course). If it hadn’t been beneath him, he would probably have laughed.

 
With a flick of his wand and the mutter of a counter-curse, my painstakingly-applied Incendio charms were gone.

 
“I hate you.”

 
He ignored me, wearing a disdainful expression as he surveyed me. I pulled a Flutterby leaf out of my hair and threw it at him – it floated pathetically in the air before whirring to life and flying upwards and out of sight. Making a mental note to throw stones at him next time, I hissed again, “I hate you, you slimy bastard.”

 
“And I hate you,” he drawled easily, crossing the gap between us and plucking another twig out of my mess of hair, looking disgusted as he did so, “for putting me in the situation where I have to save a Weasley.”

 
At his words, I could feel myself brightening up and I pecked him quickly on the cheek – his disgusted expression didn’t fade – before saying cheerily, “Maybe this evening hasn’t been a complete waste of my time after all.”

 

*

 

“Sort out breakfast, please,  Tokie – selection of the best we’ve got, Scorpius has his friends over for the fortnight.” The little elf bobbed her head up and down before vanishing into thin air with a sharp crack which I barely noticed – I was too busy surveying the large breakfast room with a critical eye.

 
The honey-coloured table was neatly set with gleaming silver crockery and the best teapot we owned was hidden underneath a clean tea cosy with the Slytherin emblem emblazoned on it (the Christmas present I’d received from Scorpius this year). Even as I watched, the centre of the table began filling up with dishes of various breakfast foods.

 
Not quite satisfied, I turned to the windows along the left hand side of the room, which overlooked the large ornamental gardens. In the distance, I could see the small Quidditch pitch. With a muttered “Scourgify” the windows were glistening and a few of them opened to let the scent of my prized honeysuckle drift in.

 
The sound of footsteps alerted me to my husband’s presence and without bothering to turn around, I snapped, “For Merlin’s sake, Draco, put some bloody clothes on.”

 
“I have clothes on.”

 
I spun around and was greeted with the sight of a scowling, sleepy-looking Draco Malfoy wearing a pair of boxers and nothing else. “No, Draco,” I said sweetly and slowly, as if talking to a small child (which, in everything but physical appearance, he was), “that’s what goes under your clothes.”

 
He shrugged, sliding into his usual chair at the head of the table, apparently impervious to my baleful glare, and didn’t bother to give me a retort.

 
“You know,” I said casually, “I heard Albus was plotting to poison you at breakfast.” The toast he’d just picked up dropped onto the table cloth and my imagination was overwhelmed with the horrifying images of the greasy mark it would leave.

 
There was a moment’s silence where he looked at me, eyes narrowed as he tried to work out if I was messing with him.

 
He ignored the dropped toast and reached out for the teapot.

 
“Wouldn’t touch that if I were you,” I said helpfully, struggling to hide my smirk as he glanced back at me with confused, sleep-filled eyes.

 
Suspicion clouded his voice as he asked, “And why not?”

 
“Heard Albus was going to put dragon blood in your tea.”

 
Draco’s hand dropped back to his side and his attempt to glower at me as if it was my fault that Albus was planning to poison him (which, technically, it was – seeing as I’d made the whole thing up) was ruined by another yawn.

 
“Tell you what,” I said kindly, moving across the room to kiss the top of his head and subtly smooth his hair into something ressembling neat, “I’ll summon you some clothes, get you some non-poisoned tea and toast, then we can really shock Albus when you’re still alive and kicking, alright?” He seemed dubious, but his sleep-addled brain seemed to see the sense in what I was saying, and he nodded.

 
If only he was this stupid all the time.

 
A blue shirt flew through the doorway and began tugging itself onto his arms, shortly followed by a pair of grey trousers which also helped him put them on. By the time he was dressed fairly respectably, I’d made up a plate of toast and marmalade and handed it to him with a cup of steaming hot tea (lots of milk, no sugar – no matter how many times I tell him he’s bitter enough as it is).

 
He grunted something through his mouthful of toast. In my optimistic mindset, I liked to think it was a thank-you.

 
By the time I’d vanished the dropped toast and fretted anxiously for several minutes, the sound of teenagers trooping their way up the corridor could be heard.

 
“Brace yourself,” I muttered to Draco, who looked far more awake and like his bastard self after that cup of tea.

 
Lily Potter was the first through the door, smiling airily as she plopped herself into the seat next to Draco – who was so surprised that someone was sitting next to him willingly that his scowl actually faltered. Those identical worms, Lorcan and Lysander (ridiculous names, if you ask me. ‘Scorpius’ is so much classier) trailed in her wake, looking decidedly less awake than her.

 
A moment later and Albus stumbled in, hair resembling a lightning-struck Niffler and wearing scarlet pyjamas. Draco’s head snapped up and he shot the middle Potter child the filthiest glare he was capable of. I couldn’t keep the smirk off my face as Albus carefully avoided getting within a five metre radius of my husband, a bewildered look on his face.

 
“Sleep well?” I asked Lily as I sat down on the other side of Draco, opposite her. She paused in sipping her tea – which, I noticed, was extremely milky and the sugar hadn’t been touched – to smile at me politely.

 
“Oh, yes, Mrs. Malfoy” – Draco sent me a smug look at that, like he always did, knowing how much I regretted taking his name when we married (after all, who’d actually want to be linked to him?) – “it was lovely.”

 
“Good, good. Do you have any plans for today?”

 
Lily elbowed the twin next to her, who jumped about a mile into the air before scowling at her. “Oi, Lysander – ”

 
Lorcan.”

 
“...yeah, yeah. What are we doing today?”

 
He lapsed into thought, staying quiet for so long that I believed he might have fallen asleep with his eyes wide open. Lily sat there patiently, twirling a dark red curl around her fingers idly.

 
Finally, he replied with a shrug of his shoulders and a curt, “Dunno.”

 
Lily made a face at him, then turned back to me. “I don’t know what we’re doing today.”

 
Draco snorted with derisive laughter to himself, something I felt inclined to join in with. A grin was twitching at Lily’s lips as well as Lorcan eyed us all with vague interest before turning back to his twin and engrossing himself in a conversation about the best location to fish for freshwater plimpies.

 
I found myself wondering for the first time if I was actually lucky to have Scorpius.

 
“So I found out you bought shares in some Romanian dragon sanctuary,” Lily said conversationally, turning to Draco, who seemed positively aghast at being addressed by someone in a friendly way. His gaze slid from me to Lily as if asking if this was some kind of wind-up. I grinned at him and turned my attention to the mug of tea in front of me.

 
“Yes,” he said coolly, running a hand through his hair and slicking it back a little. “I heard from an insider at Gringotts that the Norwegian Ridgeback is on the verge of extinction, so prices are rocketing up.”

 
“Yeah, my Uncle Charlie works at that sanctuary, actually.” I could see Draco rethinking his business plan almost before she’d finished her sentence. “But I heard it was the Chinese Fireball which was endangered. And that one is a hell of a lot more valuable – you know, its scales are used in – ”

 
“- most Blood Replenishing Potions,” Draco cut her off with a slightly smug grin, although his eyes were critically examining the teenage girl in front of him.

 
“Yeah. Anyway, Charlie’s never wrong about this kind of thing, so you might want to rethink your plans,” Lily said carelessly as she helped herself to a pile of fried mushrooms. Draco’s expression was priceless – mouth wide enough to fit a bludger in and eyes rounder than gobstones – as he watched her.

 
In that second, it didn’t matter what Lily’s surname was – he’d have happily exchanged her for Scorpius any day.

 
There was a bustle in the corridor and the final three teenagers burst through the door into the breakfast room. Rose was the first in, brushing her frizzy ginger mess behind her ears and wearing what looked like one of her cousin’s shirts and boxers. She gave me a polite smile as she dropped into the seat beside Albus a little down the table, reaching immediately for the pot of chocolate spread and toast.

 
Scorpius met my gaze with a smug grin which was eerily reminiscent of his father’s, then deliberately reached out and took Dominic’s hand. I could feel my eyes narrowing and instinctively, my hand twitched towards my wand pocket. Anything to get that bloody harpy off my baby.

 
“Morning, Mum,” he said in an annoyingly chirpy voice, daring to kiss my cheek whilst still touching that little cow beside him.

 
I gritted my teeth and forced out a, “Morning, dear.”

 
“Good morning, Mrs. Malfoy,” Dominic said nervously, tugging at the end of her ridiculously casual t-shirt and generally looking the opposite of the bitchy heartbreaker I already knew she was.

 
“Is it?” I said sharply, looking pointedly at their joined hands. Dominic jumped and disentangled herself from my son with a slightly fearful expression on her face.

 
No backbone whatsoever. Judging by her pathetic need to please and attempts to be friendly, she was a Hufflepuff. This irked me further. At least if she was a Gryffindor, Draco would be even more eager than me to get rid of her.

 
“I think we’re going to go into town for the day,” Scorpius said to me. His previously smug expression had completely disappeared and he was glowering at me. “That okay with you?”


“That’s fine with me.” I bit off each word sharply. “I’ll get the house elves to make you some lunch. How many sandwiches – ” I began to count the teenagers clustering around the breakfast table.

 
“Actually, Mum,” Scorpius interrupted me, “it’s just me and Dom.”

 
The table was suddenly quiet except for the discussion between Draco and Lily behind me.

 
“That sounds just lovely,” I managed to lie through my teeth, although the lie was so big even I couldn’t make it sound convincing. Scorpius gave me a hard stare whilst Dominic just winced. Wuss. Scorpius was braver than her, and he’d long since nursed a fear of butterflies (Draco’s fault, obviously).

 
“Oh!”

 
The exclamation came from none other than Rose Weasley, who had suddenly and inexplicably gone bright red.

 
“I’d love to see the village!” she said with a tad too much excitement. From what I knew of her, it seemed wildly out of character. What happened to the blunt, serious bookworm I’d met at the barbeque yesterday? “I’ve read all about, uh – um, this village!”

 
“Salazar’s Creek,” Albus said quietly. Rose glared at him for a long moment before he sighed and said with a distinct lack of enthusiasm, “Yes. I’d love to see the village too. Yeah.”

 
I clapped my hands together briskly and smiled widely and triumphantly at a disappointed Dominic and a weirdly red-faced Scorpius, who was now staring at the floor and refusing to meet Rose’s penetrating glare, Dominic’s consoling smile and my gloating smirk. “That’s settled, then! I’ll just tell Tokie to pack you up some lunch!”

 
Not even the sight of Dominic and Scorpius once again linking hands could tarnish my good mood.

 

*

 

The girls eventually trailed off back to their rooms to get dressed for the day. Albus and the twins stayed at the table a little longer, chatting with Scorpius, but after several heavy hints from my son, they got the message and cleared out, leaving Draco, Scorpius and I.

 
There was a long silence where I stared at my empty teacup to avoid meeting Scorpius’ annoyed stare.

 
“Mum,” he said finally. I debated looking up before sighing inwardly and meeting his gaze. “Please, just leave Dominique alone.”

 
I arched a soon-to-be-plucked-perfectly eyebrow at him. “And why would I do that?”

 
“Because you love me.”

 
Draco snorted derisively, then broke into laughter at our son’s words. I haughtily pretended he didn’t exist (oh, if only).

 
“Scorpius, I did not bring you forth from my womb” – he cringed visibly – “so that you would date such a – a – a banshee. Really, Scorpius, you might have had more class than to date a girl who talks with her mouth full.”

 
“She’s nervous!” he protested, looking righteously indignant. “You don’t even know her!”


“And a good thing too,” I said decisively, giving him that look that said simply this subject is closed. When he ignored the look, opening his mouth to no doubt spout some more rubbish about Dominic's 'nervousness', I spoke again. “Draco, back me up here.”

 
My husband looked up from where he was studying his newspaper and glanced between me and Scorpius, coolly assessing the situation. “Your mother might be a raving lunatic, Scorpius, but she is your mother – no matter how regrettable that circumstance is.” His attention returned to his newspaper for a few seconds; then he glanced up again and said to Scorpius, “Date Lily. I like her.”

 
“You like someone?”

 
My exclamation was loud but completely justified. The unsocial bastard hated everyone we came into contact with, so this was the equivalent of Ronald Weasley declaring the Malfoys to be ‘super-duper’. Completely unlikely, even with the threat of prolonged torture.

 
Draco gave me a dirty look. “Close your mouth, Astoria, you look gormless.”

 
I snapped my agape jaw shut and glowered back at him. Scorpius shifted uncomfortably and coughed to alert us to his presence. “You can bicker when me, Dom and the other five go on our date,” he said loudly, brushing a piece of his blond hair out of his eyes. It fell straight back into them a second later. “I’m just asking for you to please give her a chance.”

 
Scorpius and I stared at each other coolly for a moment.

 
“I think you should date Rose.”

 
My son’s mouth dropped open whilst Draco made a show of folding up the Prophet before simply saying, “Rose? No, no. Lily is clearly much more suitable.”

 
“Lily is two years younger,” I pointed out somewhat reasonably, although the annoyed, high-pitched tone of my voice might have detracted from the general rationality of the statement. “Rose is his own age, it would work out.”

 
“Dom is my age too,” Scorpius chipped in helpfully. We ignored him.

 
“Age means nothing.” Draco smirked at me in that annoyingly familiar way as he added, “I stick with you despite how old you look.”

 
“To a teenager, age is important,” I argued, tactfully ignoring his latest jibe. “Besides, Rose is clearly intelligent, if her glasses are anything to go by – ”

 
“Glasses mean nothing!” At this outburst, I vaguely remembered how touchy Draco got about anyone who wore them – particularly if a lightning-shaped scar accompanied the glasses in question. His annoyed expression only deepened as he said in a calmer tone, “Besides, Lily is prettier.”

 
“Looks aren’t everything! I mean, I married you, didn’t I?”

 
“Dom is pretty.”

 
“Shut up, Scorpius.” Draco and I both snapped it at the same time. Our son looked highly offended and huffed to signify his exasperation. Not that Draco or I were even paying that much attention to him.

 
My dear husband shot me a filthy scowl. “What, personality is more important to you?” he jeered. There was a red flush slowly running up his neck and his easy-going smirk was replaced with infuriated sneers and glares.

 
“Rose has a nice personality!” I half-shrieked back at him. “Which is more than I can say for you!”

 
“Lily is clearly much nicer, prettier and far more superior in every way to your silly little Rose,” Draco hissed back at me, sounding like a bragging child. I rolled my eyes at him.

 
“Dom’s beautiful, inside and out,” Scorpius proclaimed to whoever was listening.


If he wasn’t talking about that bloody harpy of his, I’d have almost been proud of my little boy. Instead, I greeted his statement with “Oh, shut up with your stupid soppy crap and date Rose already.”

 
“I gave your mother roses on the day she got pregnant with you,” Draco said to our son with a lewd wink and that manly waggle of the eyebrows to add a filthy undertone to the sentence.

 
Scorpius seemed to struggle to swallow for a few moments before forcing out in a croaky voice, “I’m never going to look at roses the same way again, Dad.”

 
Which was exactly what Draco had intended, I didn’t doubt. Sneaky, devious prat.

 
“That’s not true, Draco,” I reminded him with a sweet smirk. “They were lilies.” Actually, they were carnations. And they weren’t for me, they were from me to his mother as a ‘get well soon’ present. Draco was simply bringing them back after his mother refused to even touch the card I’d attached.


At that moment, it occurred to me that Narcissa acted towards me the way I acted towards Dominic. She’d even called me Asterix for several months before a muggle-born acquaintance enlightened us both.

 
Men really do marry women like their mothers.

 

 







honestly? i'm not too pleased with this chapter, but i figured it's been waaay too long since my last chapter, so here you are! hopefully you enjoyed it! (:

thank you so much to Snitchsista and Strings on the forums for looking this over for me! and thank you to all of you for all the amaaazing feedback! <3



Chapter 6: Shocked
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The fire flared emerald green as the last teenager left the manor. I sighed in relief – if I’d had to put up with Dominic and Scorpius rubbing their relationship in my face (they looked at each other! It was one of those ridiculous soppy looks as well – it made me want to rip someone’s guts out) for much longer, someone would have ended up dead. And I hated to imagine what Draco would do to the house if I was sent to Azkaban.


I sighed and ran a hand through my hair, absent-mindedly smoothing down my skirt (demure, grey, knee-length – not even Narcissa could disapprove) and straightening out my blouse. A small rust-coloured stain was prominent in the middle of it, from when I’d heard Scorpius murmuring soppy romantic crap to Dominic and the ornament I’d been repositioning had exploded in my hand. With a scowl, I stomped along to the bedroom and ripped the blouse off, searching through one of the many closets around the room for a decent blouse.

 
“You look beautiful, Astoria.”

 
“Piss off, Draco.”

 
“If only you were as beautiful on the inside,” he drawled, although there was a definite hint of huffiness to his expression as he exited the en suite and headed towards the mirror, where he began destroying his hair with a comb, as usual.

 
“I’m not in the mood for your rubbish today,” I snapped at him, snatching a cream blouse off a hanger and pulling it on. His reflection in the mirror looked affronted – I wasn’t usually quite so bitchy with him (believe it or not).

 
“You need to cheer up,” he said slowly, turning to watch me. I began fiddling with the buttons on my blouse, although my fingers were shaking with annoyance and the buttons weren’t bloody working.

 
“You think?” It was a flat, sharp tone of voice that made him raise his eyebrows. I could see in the mirror that the cogs of his mind were whirring sharply to work out why I was so wound up.

 
It sank in a moment later. “Scorpius and his little toy are bugging you.” Maybe it didn’t make me a particularly nice person (but who wants to be one of those, anyway?), but his reference to Dominic gave me a slightly warm glow in the pit of my stomach. We might have been a less-than-functioning married couple, but we’d at least succeed in our parenting. We’d successfully break Scorpius’ heart, together.

 
Whatever my parents say, family counselling is highly overrated.

 
“You’re a genius.”

 
The sarcastic remark was ruined by the lack of motivation behind it. My bad mood was already fading as I grinned at Draco in the mirror. He seemed positively frightened by my sudden mood swing. No doubt it reminded him of those bloodstained days of my pregnancy. We both still referred to those days as the ‘Dark Ages’.  When interviewed by Witch Weekly several years ago and asked for the most terrifying experience of his life, Draco had quickly and unhesitatingly named the birth of Scorpius as the worst moment of his life.

 
No wonder my change of mood had made him take several steps back.

 
I finished buttoning up my blouse, then held my hand out to Draco. He stared at it as if it was a tentacle (I had to check that it wasn’t – Dominic was just the type to jinx her hostess, I could tell). Rolling my eyes, I grabbed his wrist. “Let’s go out.”

 
I reran that sentence in my head to make sure I was speaking English – or French, whichever – because judging by Draco’s expression, he couldn’t comprehend what I was saying.

 
“Yes, yes,” I assured him. “I’m willing to be seen with you in public today.”

 
That was something he understood more. His smirk crawled across his face as slowly as a flesh-eating slug (and as unattractively as one, too) and he said lazily, “What make you think that I’d want to go out with you?”

 
We exchanged various insults, curses (both verbal and magical) and suggestive comments for another ten minutes before he caved into my superior authority and traipsed along behind me to the fireplace. I honestly didn’t know why he even bothered to argue with me anymore, considering his track record.

 
The first and only argument he’d won was the loud and furious disagreement which ensued when he proposed to me. I’d learnt from my mistakes since then.

 

*

 

“Malfoy table, please,” I said pleasantly to the waiter, who had blanched at my approach. He gulped, tugged at his ridiculously oversized white collar and cleared his throat several times.

 
“Mrs. Malfoy, a lovely surprise,” he managed to force out. I shrewdly guessed that his voice wasn’t usually that high. If it was, then I pitied him.

 
I studied him for a moment, taking in the suddenly damp forehead and his several gulps of air. With a scowl which made him cringe, I cursed Draco. The last waiter here had complimented my new haircut. And promptly been fired for ‘inappropriate behaviour’ – which, Draco had assured me, was nothing to do with him. No doubt this poor young man was terrified for his livelihood. And his life.

 
After a moment of silence, where the waiter stared at me through fear-glazed eyes, I coughed delicately. “I’d like to meet my husband now,” I pressed gently, worried the waiter would bolt for it if I scared him too much.

 
“Of course,” he quavered, then led me across the busy restaurant full of peasants who were no doubt blowing all their wages on this one meal. I put on my pitying-with-a-dash-of-superiority smile on and followed the waiter, my shopping bags floating through the air after me.

 
He opened the smooth cream door into the quaint, more private area where only an elderly (pureblood) couple and Draco were sat on opposite sides of the room, separated by gauzy curtains which floated in a lavender-scented breeze. The waiter paused in the doorway and pointed a shaking arm at my husband, clearly too frightened to move any closer. I rolled my eyes at how pathetic he was, then shoved past him and moved towards Draco.

 
“Estelle will be your waitress for today.” The snivelling waiter shoved two pieces of parchment – menus – at me and then scarpered out of the room to no doubt wet himself somewhere more private.

 
As I approached the table, Draco was eyeing the large collection of shopping bags behind me with something akin to anger on his face. I say ‘akin to’ – he’d never have the balls to actually get angry at me. He just liked to pretend, for the sake of his masculine pride.

 
“I’ve been shopping,” I announced, somewhat unnecessarily, as I dropped into the seat opposite him, which tucked itself in as soon I sat still and thrust one of the menus at him. He arched a pale eyebrow at me.

 
“I noticed.” He appraised the collection of shopping bags which were tucking themselves away neatly beneath the table cloth with narrowed eyes and a displeased twist to his mouth. I pretended not to notice his mood and picked up the menu idly.

 
We both stared at the pristine sheets of parchment in a frosty silence that lasted several moments.

 
“For Merlin’s sake, Astoria!” he burst out suddenly, looking intensely aggravated (the closest to angry he’d ever dare get). His infuriated expression amused me highly. “This is ridiculous!” He waved a hand towards the barely visible shopping bags at my feet. “Honestly, we’re Malfoys!” I decided not to point out the irony of that sentence and adopted my well-practised ‘of-course-I’m-listening-to-you-and-care-what-you-have-to-say’ face. “Have some dignity.”

 
Although throughout his short but impassioned burst of irritation, I’d been untouched, this last, quiet sentence managed to ruffle my feathers (and I’m clearly a well-balanced, easy-going person, which makes that quite an achievement).

 
“Draco, you’re being ridiculous – ”

 
He fished a receipt out of the nearest bag, skim-read it and then brandished my face as if I was entirely clueless as to what I’d bought. “76 galleons on a pair of shoes?” he said disbelievingly. “I’m not the ridiculous one here.”

 
“76 galleons and 3 knuts.”

 
Knuts were clearly unimportant to him as he dropped the receipt in front of me and said coolly, “I give you my full permission to clean out my Aunt’s Gringotts vault, and this is what you come back with? A pair of ridiculously cheap, no doubt diseased and terrible quality shoes. Piteous,” he said contemptuously, leaning back in his seat and wearing his smug, I’m better than you face. “A Weasley could have done better.”

 
Ouch.

 
“Is this a bad time?”

 
Draco and I looked away from each other and glanced towards the doorway, where a young waitress was standing. At least, I assumed she was a waitress. She looked to me like she was no older than twelve, with clumsy blonde pigtails, petite stature and a mouse-like voice. It occurred to me that she was much too young to be working, even for a summer job, but I disregarded that thought. Child labour stopped being my problem the moment I grew up.

 
“No, not at all,” was my answer. A curt “Yes” was Draco’s. We locked gazes again.

 
“I’ll come back in a minute,” the waitress said uncertainly as she turned to leave.

 
“Two Cupid’s Cocktails,” I called after her. Draco’s already annoyed expression became filthier.

 
Cupid’s Cocktails were a mixture of Merlin-knows-what; the only certain ingredient in them was magic. They were so full of colour-changing spells and sweetening spells that the magical residue was strong enough to taste – which of course, didn’t leave the drinker unaffected. For a woman, it increased her attractiveness to males. For a man, it was rather less glamorous. I’d once heard Scorpius describe it as a “magical Viagra”, although where he’d even heard of a Cupid’s Cocktail, much less learnt its effects, I didn’t know.


The most obvious thing about this Cupid’s Cocktail, besides it normally being only for the ladies, was that it was neon pink.

 
Funnily enough, Draco did not appreciate my sense of humour.

 
“That’s the fifth time you’ve ordered me that drink in the last month,” he hissed at me, looking remarkably like a territorial ferret.

 
I idly toyed with a corner of the menu. “Got the hint yet?”

 
His face was a picture.

 
Pretending the whole drinks episode hadn’t happened, I switched back to our previous polite topic of conversation. “Fuck’s sake, Draco, 72 galleons a pair of shoes is bloody expensive!”

 
“Not expensive enough,” he said stiltedly – clearly uncertain about whether to continue this argument or start another about the drinks. Apparently, he decided to forget all about the drinks and continued with a somewhat haughty tone to his voice, “72 galleons per shoe would be more acceptable.”

 
“Draco, not even the Notts spend 144 galleons on a pair of shoes, and you know what Pansy’s like.” He winced ever-so-slightly at the name of his ex-girlfriend, making me smile vindictively. He always wondered why Pansy got an invite to his birthday party each year, when he made it so clear he didn’t like her.

 
It was because he so blatantly didn’t like her that I even sent the invitation each year. (Well, that and Theo was a close friend of the family, and not inviting his wife would be a rather undiplomatic move on our part. But I mostly invited Pansy for the fun of watching Draco cringe, rather than diplomacy.)

 
“Unfortunately, I do know what Pansy is like,” he drawled, looking positively horrified by the memory of her.

 
The twelve-year-old waitress appeared in the doorway again, two glowing pink glasses floating ahead of her. I frowned slightly at that – she was much too young to be using magic outside of Hogwarts. But I didn’t say anything. It wasn’t my concern. Besides, saying something would just have ruined the delightful moment when Draco’s glass landed in front of him.

 
“Thank you,” I said gleefully, not even bothering to look at the waitress. She muttered something about “being back soon for food orders” but I wasn’t paying her any attention. The aghast look on Draco’s face was one thing I would quite happily spend the contents of his Aunt’s Gringotts vault on – he just looked horrified. And it was rare for any kind of emotion beyond annoyed, arrogant, lustful or derisive to even touch his expression – let alone for it to be displayed so openly.

 
I leisurely took a sip of my own cocktail, watching as he finally got a grip on himself and restored his facial expression to cool and aloof, placing the offensive drink in question beneath his notice and steadily ignoring it.

 
“Apparently Theo is banning Pansy from shopping for the next month,” I said conversationally. “Why can’t you be a stingy bastard like Theo, huh?”

 
“Theo’s a stingy bastard?” Draco queried, raising his eyebrows. “And how would you know that?”

 
“Pansy told me. And I don’t see how Theo’s personal finances are any of your business.”

 
“In all honesty, Astoria, I don’t see how they’re any of your business either.”

 
I flapped that annoying little piece of truth aside and searched my mind for a new conversation topic that wouldn’t have us bickering. After an exhaustingly long search of my mind, I settled for bitching about Dominic, which Draco seemed amenable to – “Weasley trash, polluting our manor and your son” – particularly when I brought up the horrifying suggestion that Dominic could actually end up being our daughter-in-law.

 
“No.” Draco shook his head, his eyes as hard as flint and a voice as cold as his heart. “I’ll kill her before she marries Scorpius.”

 
“Careful, dear,” I cautioned him, “people will take you seriously.”

 
He simply exhaled loudly and gave an ambivalent shrug of his shoulders. But his jaw was tight and his eyes hadn’t softened in the slightest – it made me realise just how protective he was of the Malfoy name. And possibly of the actual Malfoys, too.

 
The lunch was over surprisingly quickly, and it came as a shock to me when I realised how much I’d enjoyed spending time with my husband. Not that I told him this, of course. His arrogant smirk would fall off his face if it got much bigger.

 
The waitress flitted into the room after our dishes had magically disappeared from sight, holding out a bill to us. Draco took it from her silently, without a single “thank-you” (I despaired of him, I really did), but she didn’t move away.

 
“Sorry, are you Scorpius Malfoy’s parents?” she asked, twirling one of her chunky plaits around her finger nervously.

 
“Unfortunately,” Draco drawled, earning himself a scowl from me and a wide-eyed stare from the waitress as she decided whether he was joking or not. Giving a half-hearted laugh, she shuffled herself around on the spot awkwardly for a moment.

 
“I’m Estelle,” she said suddenly, making me jump slightly. She held out a slightly sticky hand for me to shake, which I did gingerly. She didn’t try to shake Draco’s – which was a good thing. Judging by the distance she kept between herself and him, she’d have pissed herself with fear if he came even close to touching her. “Estelle Langham. I go to Hogwarts too.”

 
“Oh,” I said politely, wondering if she expected me to care. “How nice.”

 
Apparently she had expected me to recognise her name, because her face fell. “I’m in the year below Scorpius.”

 
I choked on the remainders of my cocktail in shock, whilst Draco simply surveyed the young waitress with a newfound curiosity. She definitely didn’t look fifteen. Poor, underdeveloped child.

 
“Oh,” I said hoarsely after a pause where I tried to clear my windpipe. “How nice.”

 
Apparently I was supposed to have connected something between her age and her name, because her face fell further. A short silence fell before she said in a small voice, “Scorpius never said anything about me?”

 
“Why would he?” I asked, frowning slightly.

 
Her bottom lip wobbled and I could tell already that Scorpius was set to receive a tearstained furious letter that afternoon. “Because Scorpius and I dated all summer term.”

 
My jaw literally dropped open and I could feel my eyes bugging out. Draco seemed impassive, although his stilted movements belied his shock. He muttered under his breath, “I didn’t know Scorpius was into cradle-robbing.” I kicked him under the table, jerking my head towards the teary-eyed girl in front of us, and a sneer settled into place. But he stayed quiet. No matter how irritated he was by her presence, he wouldn’t start her off crying. He hated touchy-feely emotional stuff like that.

 
“Oh. How nice.” My vocabulary was fast becoming limited. My voice, on the other hand, had slipped from polished and polite to shaky and robotic. Scorpius was going to be slaughtered for keeping this from me.

 
“It was,” Estelle said quietly, and I watched in horror as tears beaded up and began to drip down her face. I cast a helpless look at Draco, who simply averted his gaze and pretended the sobbing girl and I didn’t exist. Stupid, useless sod. “But then I f-found him, k-kissing Rose, and then we end-ded it.”

 
Rose?!”

 
“Rose?” Draco echoed me a second later. His sneer had evaporated; it was replaced by a triumphant, proud expression as he muttered, “Well done, Scorpius.”

 
“Draco!” I reprimanded him sharply. “Infidelity is a sin.”

 
“Yet I dream about it all the time,” he said in a mock-wistful tone. Clearly, the few sips of the Cupid’s cocktail that he’d dared to drink had vastly improved his mood. A smile was twitching at the corner of his lips, and I resisted the urge to curse it off his face. Of course Draco would be pleased if Scorpius became a heartbreaker. Obviously, Scorpius had the looks and the brains – he was my son, after all – but I’d assumed he’d also inherited my kind, generous nature.

 
Judging by the snivelling wreck that was Estelle, he unfortunately took after his father in more ways than I’d first thought.

 

*

 

Fuming, I stepped out of the fireplace into our sitting room. I was shaking, not only from the horror of using economy-Floo powder, but from the pure shock and anger that was rolling around in my stomach at the very thought of Estelle Langham.

 
Draco was sat back on the sofa (having ignored that oldest of social laments, ‘ladies first’, when it came to using the Floo), eying me in the same way one might have viewed a hormonal Bellatrix Lestrange. His feet were propped up on the coffee table, but I barely had to glance in his direction for him to stumble over himself to stop defiling my priceless antiques.

 
“Astoria,” he ventured, sounding oddly unsure of himself.

 
I shrieked wordlessly at him and threw my shopping bags down at my feet with excessive violence. When one became stuck on my wrist, I hurled it across the room, where it hit the portrait of his sneering mother. Narcissa’s painted self (even more repulsive than its living counterpart) flipped me off with a vulgar word that Narcissa herself would never have even heard before. I made a mental note to change the Malfoy painter at some point.

 
“He’s such a two-faced little prick!” I yelled at Draco, who flinched from each word with a distasteful expression on his face. I was knotting my fingers through my hair in aggravation and I knew I would be red in the face in anger. “Betrayer – he stabbed me, his mother, in the back! In the back!”

 
“Remember to breathe,” my husband advised me, clearly trying to cling to his cold-faced-bastard persona despite how pale with fear he’d gone. “If you explode, the bloodstains might upset the house-elves.”

 
“ – complete arsehole, just like his father, can’t think how he even managed to survive in the wholesome and angelic conditions of my womb. Sixteen years...! Sixteen years of tender love and nurturing, and this is what I get?! A harem of desperate whores and a house invaded by Weasleys?!”

 
I was pacing up and down in front of the fireplace, my vision tinged at the edges with red-hot rage. The same colour as Dominique’s hair. Rose-red.

 
“They’re leaving now! I won’t let them stay, knowing they’re screwing my son under the same roof as me – I knew the Weasleys were no good. This is your entire fault!” I directed this at Draco, who cringed back into the sofa. He was whiter than a ghost – and if he handled this situation badly, that would be what he would become.

 
“My fault?” he queried, raising two pale eyebrows at me and attempting to look blameless – an impossible feat. He looked constipated. “My fault? Of course. I forgot that I was the one buddying up to the Weasleys at that bloody barbeque!”

 
“Oh, shove off,” I snapped viciously at him. “Ginny was born into that family as a cruel twist of fate; she can’t help being related to those vicious little harpies. She’s just as conniving and bitchy as I am, deep down.”

 
“Impossible,” he scoffed.

 
I had my wand out of my robes and in his face in a moment. “Take that back, you bastard.”

 
For the first time in our conversation, he looked perfectly at ease. “Hex me.” A smirk began tugging at his lips as he stared me down with those stupid grey eyes he was so proud of. “I dare you.”

 
A long moment passed as I stared at him, cursing him to hell and back. Of course he knew that I wouldn’t hex him now. Not now he’d ordered me to. The devious prat knew me too well.

 
I pocketed my wand and sat down beside him instead, ignoring his growing smirk with great poise and dignity. There was only one way to respond to his audibly inflating ego.

 
I laid my head against his shoulder – he jumped at the contact – and slid my arms around his waist, murmuring in my best broken voice, “I just don’t understand why Scorpius would do this to me. Am I a bad mother? Is that why?” I added a heart-wrenched-out-of-chest sniffle and hid my face in his shirt.

 
His entire body had tensed up and he was exuding discomfort from every pore.

 
I relished it.

 
“You’ve been an adequate mother.” His usual polished manner of speech was broken and disjointed. I smiled into his now-wrinkled white shirt.

 
“Adequate?”

 
He shifted uncomfortably, then said in an attempt at a cool, collected manner, “Above average, I suppose.”

 
“So why does Scorpius hide these girls from me? Am I not good enough to know about them? Don’t I deserve to know about the life I brought into the world?”

 
“I suppose.” Draco’s arms wrapped carefully around me without even touching me – there were at least three inches between my back and his arms. In stilted movements, he managed to lower them onto my back and then patted my shoulder-blade awkwardly.

 
I’d started this little charade to prove to him that I was in charge – that he might have won one little argument, but I was still the dominant half of our marriage. But now, with his weak attempt at being an understanding husband, I was oddly touched.

 
And I’d never admit it to him, but perhaps there was a layer of truth to my charade. Maybe, just maybe, the idea of Scorpius leaving me behind was having a bigger impact on me than I’d first thought. I wasn’t a major part of my son’s life anymore – I didn’t know what made him tick or what he wanted anymore, and I almost certainly couldn’t give him whatever it was that he did want, but maybe I would be okay with that, one day.

 
Living with Draco for the rest of my life – well, that was harder to wrap my head around.

 
“You stupid bastard,” I said scornfully, pulling away from him and unleashing a forced smirk on him. “I can’t believe you fell for that.”

 
The humiliated expression I’d been hoping for failed to materialise on his face. Instead, a matching smirk was on his lips and he smoothed his gel-drenched hair carefully with one hand, barely sparing me a look. “Don’t mess around, Astoria,” he said smugly. “We both know I only did that for one reason, and one reason alone.” A lewd wink was tossed my way, along with “You owe me.”

 
“You know what I found the other day, Draco? Your virginity. Don’t worry. I’ll make sure you don’t lose it again.”

 

*

It was silent at the dinner table.

 
Completely, utterly silent.

 
I was viciously ripping Scorpius to pieces (in my mind only, sadly). Draco was staring morosely at his now empty glass of firewhiskey. Those gangly-looking twins with the matching vacant expressions on their faces were frowning at the air between them - now and again, one of the twins would flap a hand through the gap as if swatting away a fly, although I couldn't see anything. Lily had a bored expression on her face, toying with the edge of the tablecloth, Albus had his mouth slightly agape as he stared blankly at the salt shaker and Rose was watching Scorpius with a hawk-like edge to her posture.

 
Not even the fact that Dominic and Scorpius seemed to be slightly frostier with each other than usual could ease my agitation.

 
The icy silence was shattered after several painfully awkward moments.

 
"Astoria, where have you hidden the firewhiskey?" Draco was staring at me, his mouth in a hard line and an accusing tone to his voice.

 
"It should be in the cabinet with the rest of alcohol," I said lightly. I wasn't going to tell anyone at that table that I'd had the elves bury it at the end of the west gardens, just in case Scorpius tried to impress his friends. Drunk idiots make drunken, idiotic mistakes. I wasn't about to let Dominic become one of those. "Surely you know where the cabinet is."

 
Six feet under in the back garden with all the alcohol we owned, all potions and ingredients and even Scorpius' wand. I wasn't taking any risks.

 
He sent me a scathing look. "It's in the other dining room, of course. I'm not stupid, Astoria."

 
I bit back several sharp retorts and simply smiled blandly at him. He eyed me suspiciously for a moment and I could see him slotting the puzzle pieces together - my less-than-murderous behaviour, light-hearted tone of voice and lack of nagging - behind his equally bland expression. A few seconds later and he rolled his eyes at me, clearly having worked out that I'd done something he wouldn't consider rational with the alcohol. That familiar expression of disdain settled into place.

 
Food began popping onto plates all of a sudden, and the teenagers around me broke their silence to exclaim various profanities of delight. I studiously ignored the "Holy fucking Merlin" that came from Scorpius' lips as he spotted his favourite dish of spaghetti bolognese and instead envisioned the shade of puce he would be when I next humiliated him.

 
“So, Dominique,” I said pleasantly, cutting across one of those freakish twin’s enlightening story of an encounter with a Swizzling Barbantuan (which sounded oddly like a butterfly – although he was insisting it wasn’t one). The entire table went silent. I could almost feel the vindictive, satisfied smirk settling onto Draco’s face. “How did you and Scorpius get together? I must confess I have a morbid curiosity.”

 
Scorpius’ face was contorted in a scowl, whilst Dominique had gone so red that her freckles were almost completely obscured. It was a mild improvement.

 
“Mum, right now?” Scorpius was all but hurling killing curses at me with his eyes.

 
I brushed him off like he was an irritating fly. “Sweetheart, I wasn’t talking to you.” Draco’s eyes sparked in amusement at my slightly venomous tone. “Dominique,” I stressed the ‘name’ with a pointed look at my son, “please, tell me how you and my son became so enamoured with one another. I’m just dying to know.”

 
“Er,” Dominique began, then hesitated.

 
“Excuse me?” I asked, giving her a curious look. “What did you just say?”

 
She audibly gulped and said quietly, “I didn’t say anything.”

 
“That’s a little rude, don’t you think, Draco?” I turned my shocked expression to my husband, whose smirk was almost a separate entity right now. “I asked her a reasonable question, and she doesn’t answer me. Honestly.”

 
“Quite disrespectful,” he said coldly. I saw Dominique nearly faint with shock as he spared her his best disparaging look. “Scorpius, I would have expected a more...literate choice from you.”

 
Our son seemed uncertain of who to be scowling at. He settled for glaring at the space between his father and I, saying coolly, “I believe she was about to answer you before you so rudely interrupted her, Mother.”

 
My grip tightened on my glass. I had to force myself to slacken my hold before it shattered.

 
Albus had a blank expression on his face as he watched the exchange, whilst his little sister was wearing a small smirk as she quietly speared a carrot with her fork. One of the twins was staring vacantly at the chandelier above our heads with a mildly curious look on his face, while his duplicate was staring at Dominique wide-eyed.

 
“Scorpius, please don’t lecture me on my manners,” I said sharply, then placed a benign smile on my lips again. “Dominique. Continue, please.”

 
“Er, well, we met in his second-year,” she said uncertainly. “He showed me around the school when my sister Victoire dumped me for Teddy. Er, then this year, uh, he was tutoring me for my O.W.L.s and I guess – ”

 
“How did you do in your exams, may I ask?” I cut across her smoothly, baring my teeth at her in an attempt at a friendly smile.

 
“I haven’t got the results back yet.”

 
“Well, don’t get your hopes up,” I said warmly, although Draco clearly picked up on the hard edge to my tone and almost died of malicious glee.

 
“I tutored her for a few weeks and I guess we fell in love,” Scorpius tossed in his uninvited input. “So I asked her out for the last Hogsmeade weekend and it went from there.”

 
“Oh! Isn’t that clichéd!” I clapped my hands together in delight and beamed at my son, who clearly wasn’t fooled in the slightest by my act. He was going to end up looking as bitter as his father if he kept scowling like that. “Unoriginal romance is the best, don’t you think?” I directed this question at Draco, who dropped his smirk immediately and assumed a disdainful expression.

 
“Indeed.” His lips twisted in a sneer.

 
It was at times like this that I realised just why I’d agreed to marry the stupid prat.

 
The conversation died at that point – clearly, Scorpius realised he would actually like to remain on the Malfoy family tree, and Dominic was probably still trying to process the insults I’d thrown at her. Albus started up some meaningless conversation about their trip to the village earlier that day which I paid no attention to, preferring to stew in my triumph-filled yet highly irritated thoughts.

 
The image of Dominic’s scarlet face and quivering bottom lip kept surfacing throughout the evening, bringing a strong sense of accomplishment with it. But then again, the complete silence and pink-stained cheeks of Rose throughout the conversation at dinner wouldn’t leave me alone either.

 
I began to consider whether slaughtering the life I brought into this world (that, unfortunately, would be Scorpius) actually counted as murder.


As I stood up from the dinner table and moved towards the kitchens with the intent of venting my fury on the house-elves, Scorpius spoke again (vicious images of repainting his room with his blood fought bitterly with mothering instinct and lost by a slim - oh, so slim - margin).


"Mum, have you seen my wand?"

 

 




i'm wondering right now how many of you will have to read the past few chapters to remember what happened in this story so far (don't tell me if you did have to. i'll just feel TERRIBLE).

Draco/Astoria fans, this chapter is for you. Scorpius fans, the next will be for you. ScoRose fans, hopefully this vaguely satisfied you. (:

thanks for reading & please don't hesitate to review!

(seriously. the worse you make me feel about not updating, the harder i work on the chapters. so guilt is good. mostly.

MOSTLY.)



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