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A/N: Hello all! Once again, thank you so much for all of your reviews. Each and every one is appreciated, so thank you very much for all of your kind words. I'm certainly pleased to hear that so many of you are enjoying my story =]

Also, for those of you that enquired, the girl 'playing' Rose Weasley in my banner and chapter headers is the beautiful Indiana Evans (a sixteen year old actress from Australia) I just thought that she was perfect for the part.

Anyway, on to chapter three. I hope you enjoy!






Chapter three.

   “Oi. Look ‘oo it is. Potty little Potter, and his magical ‘wand’. Think he wants to see what the village looks like from the top of this ‘ere tree?”

   Albus had eventually decided to give Scorpius a guided tour of the local muggle village (after several hours of computer gaming and much pestering from his father). They had been making their way back towards the Potter household when three fat fifteen year olds surrounded them, malicious grins adorning their brutish faces, and a cup full of insults ready to be tossed. Scorpius frowned deeply, sensing Albus’s immediate tension as the three boys chortled brusquely.

   “Phil.” The Potter boy said, in an oddly quiet voice. “Chris, Jason-”

   “Who’s yer mate?” the fattest of the three interrupted, pointing a slimy chipolata finger in Scorpius’s direction. “Don’t think we’ve ever seen you out with a mate before, Al.”

   Albus flushed, his eyes dropping to the ground.

   “Normally hangin’ out with his minger of a sister.” One of the other boys agreed. “Or his freak of a brother.”

   “Yeah, freaks. The ‘ole lot of ya.”

   They all nodded in agreement, and Albus turned (if possible) even redder.

   “We’re not freaks.” He said half-heartedly. His declaration was met by silence however, and he looked up in time to see the fattest boy cracking his knuckles against his palm.

   “S’not what I’ve heard.” He said, his voice all of a sudden low and menacing. “You and yer neighbours. Bloody freaks, going off to yer private school every year. Never mixing with the kids from town. And yer parents-“ he shook his head sharply. “Don’t even get me started on yer parents.”

   Albus looked up sharply. “What’s wrong with my parents?” he asked, voice indignant.

   Scorpius groaned, knowing that Albus was playing straight into the other boy’s hands. Unfortunately for him, however, it seemed that Phil was more than a little offended by people groaning in his presence, and instantly, his attention turned to Scorpius.

   His thick lip curled into a sneer of mammoth proportions, and he growled out in a serrated voice, “What’s yer problem, nancy-boy?”

   And just like that, the tension was broken. Any slight intimidation that Scorpius might have been encouraged to feel was squandered the very moment those words left Phil’s mouth.

   “Nancy-boy?” he repeated in an incredulous voice. The three fifteen year olds nodded curtly, and Scorpius actually felt himself begin to grin. He glanced at Albus, noticing the concerned look of fear on his friend’s face, then he grinned even more widely, looking back at the three bullies. “Me?” he said, as if to clarify.

   “You need me ter spell it out for ya?” The fattest asked impatiently, clearly agitated by Scorpius’s lack of reaction.

   “Nah,” he said coolly, shaking his grinning face. “I think I got it. I just find it slightly... Ironic, to be referred to as a ‘Nancy-Boy’ by someone wearing more jewellery than my dear old mum.”

   For a moment there was utter silence as Phil glanced down at the ugly chain around his neck, and the many ridiculous rings adorning his chubby little fingers. Then there was a small hiss, like the sound an inflatable chair makes when the stopper is pulled out. A brief rush of air.

   “Are you alright mate?” Scorpius asked pleasantly. Phil looked up sharply, and there was murder in his blobby eyes.

   “Mate?” he repeated in a violent voice. He took one step forward, and Scorpius grabbed Albus’s arm.

   “C’mon Al,” he said with a sharp tug, “Think we’ve overstayed our welcome here. See you gents later.”

   And with that, the two boys made an abrupt getaway.

   Three minutes later, when they were both bent double and panting outside of the Potter’s household, Albus glanced up at Scorpius with a brilliant look of awe on his face.

   “That was - bloody inspired.” He said between pants. “You just called Phil Busby a Nancy-Boy!”

   “Actually,” Scorpius replied, running a rake of fingers through his blonde hair, “I’m pretty sure it was the other way. But, whatever, I’m sure there’ll be no hard feelings.”

   Albus laughed heavily, shaking his head, “You’re in for it now.”

   Scorpius smirked back. “I’m shaking.” He said, with an overemphasised shiver. “Come on, let’s get in before your dad comes out and asks us what we’re doing.”

   He slapped a friendly hand to Albus’s shoulder, and together the two boys made their way up the garden path.

 

*

 

   “Ginny, how do you feel about this tie?”

   There was a long pause of silence, as Ginny Potter fought an internal battle with her heart, and then she sighed deeply, turning to face her husband.

   “It’s fine Harry.” She said, sitting down on the edge of their double bed, “It’s the same one you wear every week.” Her hands coiled around each other in her lap, and then she said in an oddly strained voice, “Harry, we need to tal-”

   “You’re right, I do wear the same tie every week.” Harry interrupted, shaking his head in strange amusement as he gazed at his own reflection in the full length mirror on the opposite wall, “Perhaps this lunch is time for a change. How about that Chudley Cannons one Ron bought me last Christmas.”

   When his wife failed to respond, Harry turned to glance at her again, “Gin?” he asked, “Are you alright?”

   Ginny sighed deeply once more, then shook her head. “No, Harry.” She said, looking down at her fidgeting hands, “I’m not alright. We’re not alright.”

   The smile on Harry’s face fell, and instantly he sat down beside her on the bed. “Tell me what’s wrong.” He requested, his voice an incarnation of seriousness now.

   Ginny glanced up to meet his eyes, and as she beheld his expression of concern she was met with a slight swelling of gratitude within her chest. It was so wonderful to have a husband who really cared, even if he was a tactless idiot half the time.

   “I just don’t know if we’re doing the right thing.” She confessed. “This boy, this meal with Ron and Hermione. Our kids, and their kids, and him. It all just seems so...”

   Harry cupped her cheek. “You worry too much.”

   She shook her head, and his hand fell. “No,” she told him. “You don’t worry enough. It’s obvious why Ron and Hermione have invited us over.”

   “Because they invite us over every other Sunday?” Harry asked, raising a brow.

   “No.” Ginny replied, shaking her head again. “Because they think we’re doing the wrong thing with the Malfoy boy, and they want to see this mess for themselves. They’re going to tell us that we’re being idiots, and they’re going to be right Harry.”

   Harry frowned, looking at her closely. “I thought you were okay with all of this. I thought you were going to give Scorpius a chance.”

   “Oh, I am.” Ginny sighed, “I just don’t want my brother judging us. You know what he’s like. And when Scorpius messes up-”

   “When?”

   There was another pause, and it seemed as if sparks of electricity were twisting through the air above them.

   Ginny flushed deeply, then said, “Oh Harry, you know what I mean.”

   “No, I really don’t think that I do.” Harry replied, shaking his head hotly, “How can you claim to be giving the boy a chance, when you’ve already passed your judgement on him?”

   “Harry, it’s not like that.”

   “No?” Harry asked, “Then what is it like, huh? Have you even spoken to the boy since Friday night? Have you even been down to see how he’s settling in?”

   “I haven’t found the time-“

   “No, you haven’t wanted to find the time, Ginny.” Harry snapped, suddenly feeling very angry with his wife. “You have no idea how grateful he is to be here instead of the children’s home, and you’ve no idea how well he’s been getting on with Albus. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Albus quite so comfortable with a friend before, and it’s only been two days.”

   Ginny’s head bowed, “If he wasn’t a Malfoy-”

   “Oh Ginny, grow up.” Harry snapped. “He’s the child here, not you.” Suddenly he was standing up again, and Ginny looked up, feeling slightly disconcerted by having him towering above her. “We’re going to this lunch. Scorpius is going to this lunch. And you’ve never given a bloody damn about Ron’s opinion before, so I don’t see why it should start bothering you now.” And with that, Harry turned abruptly and marched back over to the full length mirror. He wrenched off the tie he was wearing and yanked up another from his open drawer. “I think it’s time for a change.” He announced, holding the tie against his chest.

 

*

 

   “Mum, you’ve only set the table for nine.” Hugo Weasley said, pointing at the place settings Hermione had laid out. “Aren’t you forgetting someone?”

   “Oh, of course, of course.” His mother muttered, scurrying back into the kitchen to collect another set of cutlery, leaving Hugo alone in the dining room. The thirteen year old grinned to himself, shaking his head at his mother’s nerves. Wasn’t it her idea to invite the Potters and the Malfoy around anyway? Sometimes, despite her poise and elegance, Hermione Weasley really could be a bit silly.

   “What are you smirking about?”

   Hugo looked up, and he frowned at the sight of his big sister as she ambled into the room, looking unnaturally prettier than usual. He wrinkled his nose in abject distaste, before asking:

   “Rosie, are you wearing make-up?”

   Rose stared at him for a moment or two, before a slight flush of heat crept up over her cheeks, and she furrowed her brow in embarrassment. “Of course not.”

   Hugo strode towards her. “You are.” He stated simply, then he raised his nose into the air. “And perfume too.” He announced, after a brief sniff.

   “No, I’m not!” Rose denied, pushing him away from her as he drew level. “Honestly, as if I’d waste my time on such trivial matters anyway, Hugo.”

  Her brother just smirked knowingly, and Rose could feel that the blush was still present on her cheeks. “Oh, shut up.” She grumbled eventually. “So what if I’m wearing make- up? It’s not like I haven’t done it before. I just-”

   “Rose, he probably likes you anyway.”

   She froze at this statement, turning to her brother in horror. “What?” she demanded, her face becoming an even brighter scarlet than before.

   “That Malfoy boy.” Hugo explained innocently. “I’ve noticed the way my friends look at you Rosie, and if this Scorpius is anything like them then he’s bound to be looking at you t-”

   “Hugo!” Rose practically screeched, “What on earth is wrong with you?” Hugo’s usually composed and controlled sister was suddenly a scatty, nervous mess of a girl, fumbling her fingers through her wavy hair and shaking her head in adamant denial. “Why in Merlin’s name would I want Scorpius Malfoy to be looking at me?! He’s a... A...”

   “I thought you said he seemed nice.” Hugo reminded her, raising an imploring eyebrow, and with an expression on his face which was far too coy for that of a thirteen year old. “Isn’t that what you told Mum and Dad?”

   “I... I... I said he was nice.” Rose confirmed, but with a look of abject horror on her face. “But that doesn’t mean that I...”

   “Oh.” Hugo said simply. Knowingly. “Oh, I see. Fair enough.”

   Rose Weasley regarded that knowing expression rather warily, and with another nervous sniff, she dashed from the room.

 

*

 

   “Hello Harry!” Hermione said, opening the door with a flourish. “Ginny, how are you? Oh, and Lily how you’ve grown!”

   “Hello Aunt Hermione.” The children greeted in various tones. Hermione Weasley beamed at each of them, before reaching the Malfoy boy, who was standing awkwardly behind the rest. Her smile wilted. Harry placed a fatherly hand onto the boy’s shoulder, and said:

   “Hermione, this is Scorpius. I’m sure you’ve been wondering about him.”

   The older woman looked uncomfortable for a moment, her eyes looking everywhere other than in Scorpius’s direction. For a good few seconds it seemed she mightn’t look at him at all. But then she did, and the tension seemed to slip from her face. It was as if, by looking at his vulnerable expression and realising that he really was just a boy, her own maternal instincts were forced to resurface.

   “Hello Scorpius,” she said in a soft voice. “I’ve heard a lot about you, but it will be a pleasure to finally get to know you myself.” She glanced up at Harry, as if to make sure she’d said the right thing. Then she stepped aside, “Please come in. Ron’s in the sitting room. And Hugo is waiting upstairs for you Lily.”

   Scorpius nodded at the woman as he crossed the threshold into her home, but Harry’s hand remained on his shoulder, letting him know that the worst was still yet to come.

   “Come on in to the sitting room Scorpius,” he said in a cheerful voice, and it was then that Scorpius knew that it was Mr Weasley who was going to be the problem. Well, if his sister’s reaction was anything to go by, perhaps it was safe to assume that hot-headedness was a familial Weasley trait.

  “Harry, maybe I should just-”

   “Don’t be silly,” the man said in a lower voice, giving Scorpius a reassuring smile. “Best to get it out of the way. And he’s not that bad. He wouldn’t be my best friend if he was.”

   Scorpius wanted to feel reassured, he really did. But one glance at Albus’s apprehensive face told him that he was really in for it. Albus tried to smile, but it was a pathetic mask for his trepidation. “It’ll be all right mate.” He said. Turns out he was also a pathetic liar.

   Scorpius let Harry lead him into the front room, and the first thing he set eyes on was Rose Weasley, sitting next to the window and gazing out at the back garden. She didn’t even look his way, but somehow he still felt overpowered by her. Like just being close to her was enough to make him feel a bit woozy. Either way, it certainly didn’t bode well for his pending meeting with her father.

   “Hi.” He called out to her, stupidly.

   She glanced at him, then inclined her head marginally in his direction, and her lips lifted into a brief, half-heartedly smile. “Oh. Hey.” She said, disinterestedly.

   Scorpius felt his stomach drop a little at her dismissive attitude. But then his attention turned towards the middle aged man sitting on the sofa, and he felt something clenching inside his gut. Maybe it was the already distasteful curl of the man’s lip, or perhaps it was the way the man was looking between Scorpius and his only daughter. Both made Scorpius feel uncomfortable. More uncomfortable than he could ever remember feeling.

   “You’re him then.” Ron Weasley said eventually. Scorpius nodded, because that’s all he could think of doing.

   “Scorpius Malfoy.” Harry said in an assured voice, giving the boy’s shoulder a little squeeze. “I’m sure you’ve realised that he’ll be staying with us for a while, Ron.”

   The red head gave a forced smile, getting to his feet. Perhaps to shake Scorpius’s hand. Perhaps just to show the boy how much taller than him he was.

   “S’good to meet you, boy.”

   He shook his hand firmly.

   Scorpius tried not to feel intimidated. He tried to understand exactly what this meeting meant to Ron Weasley. Tried to imagine the years of torment his father had put this man through, and he managed to force a smile back. He understood. Or at least, he wanted to, on some level.

   “Come on, I’m about to serve up.” Hermione Weasley called, breaking the tension as she stuck her head in through the doorway.

   Ron dropped Scorpius’s hand, and Rose brushed past them into the dining room.

   “Well done.” Harry said in a low voice, as they made their way after the Weasleys into the dining room. But Scorpius didn’t feel he’d done anything. And somehow he knew that this meal was not going to end well.

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