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Nineteen Minutes

 

Chapter One- Good People

 

 

Friday, August 12th

 

   Scorpius sat down in the hard-backed chair, his lip curled in disgust as he drummed his fingers against the pockmarked table in front of him. This was pointless. Some kind of scare tactic to get him back on the straight and narrow, right? Obviously another of his mum's hair brained schemes, which she dreamt up with absolutely no regard for his well-being. For the fact that he had very little interest in having his pathetic Uncle lecture him on the woes of a life of crime, from within his own Azkaban cuffs.

 

   Scorpius heaved an exaggerated sigh, then glanced over at the clock above the door. Almost twenty minutes before he could get out of this place. Merlin, it gave him the creeps just to be here.

 

   The hands of the clock were ticking in slow motion, his arms were itching. And then the door scraped open, and Scorpius let his eyes drop to the man being marched through. There was an Auror on either side of him, holding his cuffed arms in a tight grip, both with similar looks of disdain upon their scarred faces. Their robes were red, but his were brown, old and ragged. His blonde hair was shaved close to the scalp and there was a long scar running down through the middle of his left eyebrow. He was... An unfamiliar creature: mythology. But Scorpius avoided the eyes. He'd heard that the prisoner's eyes were always the hardest part to look at.

 

   "Sit." One of the Aurors grunted as he kicked a chair aside for Malfoy. The man sat down heavily in front of his nephew, and Scorpius ignored the way his cuffs clinked as he lowered them into his lap. Head bowed.

 

   "Nineteen minutes." The other Auror said in a stern voice, "And don't think we'll be making any more exceptions for you Malfoy."

 

   "Appreciate it, boss." The man said out of the corner of his mouth.

 

   The two Aurors nodded, then left. The door was locked behind them with a resounding click and finally, Draco Malfoy raised his cuffed wrists and set them on the table which stood between them. Slowly, he lifted his piercing blue eyes, and Scorpius met his gaze, unwavering. It wouldn't do to show his Uncle that he was feeling slightly intimidated. That wouldn't do at all.

 

   "Hello."

 

   Scorpius didn't reply. He didn't even raise his brows.

 

   Malfoy stared at him for a moment or two, as if hoping he might react. But then he sighed, scraping his feet back over the concrete floor as he resettled himself higher up in the seat. "Your mother tells me you got in trouble last week." he muttered in a deep, gruff voice. "Stealing, and underage magic." his eyes were unnaturally dark as they searched the boy's face. "Do you realise what kind of path you are carving for yourself here, Scorpius?" 

 

   The boy just shrugged nonchalantly, looking away.

 

   But with his eyes averted, Malfoy saw his chance and reached forward, clamping his grip around Scorpius's hands. "Look at me." he said imploringly, as Scorpius glanced back again, eyes wide with alarm. "I'm thirty three years old, Scorpius. Do you really want to be here when you're my age?"

 

   The kid snatched his hands back, rubbing them as if infected. "No," he snapped, "No, I don't want to be stuck in Azkaban like you. But I don't see what your mistakes have to do with me."

 

   Malfoy smirked, or at least, he tried to. It seemed an expression that had once been completely at home on the man's face, but to Scorpius now, it simply appeared forced. "You don't understand anything, boy." he said, shaking his head, almost wisely. "The state of this place: this country. The Ministry are looking for any reason to convict you, and you're playing straight into their hands."

 

   Scorpius frowned, staring at his Uncle with disregard. "The state of the country?" he repeated, arching a brow. "I don't know what you mean."

 

   "I mean the Ministry," Malfoy snapped, glaring at the boy, "I mean the massive void that's been standing unfilled for fifteen years now, since Voldemort's demise. I mean-"

 

   "You really think somebody out there could be stupid enough to try and follow in the "Dark Lord's" footsteps?" Scorpius asked, his tone almost mocking. "Everyone's heard the stories. And everyone's seen what happened to the idiots who followed last time. They all ended up here, just like you did. Pathetic, and swept under the rug. D'you actually have any idea how humiliating it is to have an Uncle in prison?"

 

   Malfoy closed his eyes tightly, clenching his fingers together, before stating "I very much doubt that anyone is looking to follow in Voldemort's footsteps, but that doesn't change the fact that the Ministry are terrified, and they have been for fifteen years now. Why do you think I'm even here, Scorpius?"

 

   The boy frowned, glancing down at his Uncle's covered arm, as if expecting the Dark Mark to be shining through the thin fabric of his robes.

 

   "Exactly," Malfoy said, wrenching his sleeve up, "This."

 

   Scorpius flinched only slightly, but then he got a hold on himself. "You fought on the side of the Dark Lord." He said in a much smaller voice, "You fought to kill all Muggle borns, and Harry Potter, and anyone else who got in your master's way. You-"

 

   "Wrong." Malfoy murmured quietly, but it was enough to silence Scorpius in an instant. The kid wrinkled his brow, staring at his Uncle with confusion.

 

   "Wrong?"

 

   "Scorpius, I didn't fight at all. I cowered, and I ran, and I hid, and I begged for my life from both sides, but I didn't fight. I am here because," he glanced back down at the Mark on his arm again, then he lifted his eyes to meet the boy's, "Because after the war the Ministry got scared. I told you, however unlikely it may be, the Ministry are terrified about having to face another uprising. When the war ended they rounded up every single Death Eater who was known to have fought and killed in the war. But that... That wasn't enough. That didn't abate the fears of the country. So after that..."

 

   "They took anyone branded with the Mark." Scorpius finished in an incredulous half whisper. And Draco Malfoy nodded. Scorpius stared down at the scarred table top, trying to digest this information quietly, but still something was tugging at the back of his mind. "So you're saying that the Ministry is corrupt? That you shouldn't really be here?"

 

   He looked up quickly, arching a sceptical brow as if he'd made some important point. As if he'd uncovered his Uncle's true intent.

 

   "Sure." He added, his tone derisive once more, "And I bet that's what they all say."

 

   Malfoy just slammed his cuffs down on the table, causing the boy to jump. "No," he growled, glaring at his Nephew with a barely concealed rage, "You're not listening to me, boy. The Ministry are terrified of something like this happening again, and the fear is making them irrational. If you give them even the slightest opportunity they'll have you locked up in here for the rest of your life. Do you even understand what I'm saying?"

 

   "Oh, I think you'll find I understand perfectly." Scorpius sneered, pushing his chair back and standing up abruptly. "Mum tells you that your Nephew's been getting himself into trouble, and together you decide it'd be a good idea to scare him back onto the right path. I'm not an idiot, Malfoy, I know you're in here for your crimes, and I know there's no Ministry conspiricy to get me locked up in the cell beside yours. I don't even know who you are, and I don't care either. This is ridiculous. I'm leav-"

 

   "Sit down."

 

   Malfoy had dropped his head again, and he was staring at the hands he had grasped before him. They were large, strong hands, and Scorpius sighed as he watched his Uncle's pathetic display of hopelessness.

 

   "Fine." He took the seat again, glaring at the older man disdainfully, "But only because you're such a useless mess."

 

   Malfoy looked up with an odd half-grin on his face then, and he said in a strained voice, "Thanks for the compassion." he looked down again after that, his voice becomming gritty. "You know, this isn't how I ever inagined our first meeting would go, Scorpius. I must admit, I had hoped the circumstances might be a little more favourable."

 

   "I don't see why mum is putting me through all this anyway. She's never cared before."

 

   "Your mother loves you very much." Malfoy conceded, and Scorpius almost laughed aloud.

 

   "Did she tell you that herself?" He asked, his voice contorted by his snigger, "Or did you infer it from her constant loving treatment of me."

 

   "Scorpius, she does love-"

 

   "Oh sure," he said sarcastically, "She loves me a lot. She loves me so much that she can hardly stand to look at me. You know, she spends more time with Zerin and Rhea in one day, than she's spent with me my whole life. I swear, she only ever looks my way when I'm in trouble for something."

 

   "She has a lot to do, and a lot to think about." Malfoy defended, then he closed his eyes very tightly, "Besides," he said, softly. "Your father loves you, too."

 

   "Yeah, right. When he's not talking about how much he's looking forward to Hogwarts term restarting, or having me placed into foster care during the holidays. He's a joke, and I'm fairly certain that he doesn't love me at all."

 

   "Look," Malfoy sighed, "I know it might seem that life isn't perfect right now, but it's a downsight better than a life spent in-"

 

   "What would you know anyway?" Scorpius snapped. "What are you? My mum's dead sister's husband? We're not even blood related, and still I'm stuck with the humilliation of being known as "The Death Eater's Nephew". Do you know what that's like? Do you even care?"

 

   "Scorpius-"

 

   "No!" the kid protested, "Everyone's always looking at me like I'm about to slip up. As if they expect me to turn as bad as you at any moment, no matter how hard I try to show them I can be good. I don't know what mum wants from me half the time, and it's driving me completely crazy."

 

   "She just wants you to be happy, Scorpius." His Uncle said in a ridiculously patient tone. As if he had the slightest idea. "And she wants you to be safe. She's just as scared as I am that the Ministry are going to pounce on you the second that you step out of line again. She begged me to talk some sense into you today, and she's coutning on you to understand, kid."

 

   "And what about you then?" Scorpius asked abruptly, setting his Uncle with a hard glare. "Why do you even care? It's not like you've got anything to gain from this. You're never going to see me again, and I'm going to go my own way anyway. Why even bother?"

 

   "Because I don't want to see you ending up where I am now." Malfoy said, suddenly unable to look at Scorpius. "I don't know what you think of me, but that doesn't really matter anyway. I just don't want to see you wasting your life like I have, it'd be the same for... anyone else."

 

   Scorpius crossed his arms. "Well," he smiled coldly, "You can sleep easy tonight, Draco. You've done your bit."

 

   "Scorpius," he shook his head, "Please don't be like that. You... You don't know what it's like. I gave my life up the day I let the Dark Lord brand me, and I was only fifteen years old. I was the same age you are now, but the difference is, I had no choice. I didn't have people who cared about keeping me out of Azkaban, not like you do. Not like-"

 

   "Shut up." Scorpius thundered abruptly, turning his head away, "Just... Shut up! Stop talking as if you know the slightest thing about me. You don't, and I'm not interested in what you have to say. I want out." He stood up, stalking over to the door which the Auror's had locked and knocking loudly, "Hey! Let me out!"

 

   "Scorpius-" Malfoy said in a reasonable voice, "Please don't be ridiculous. Just sit back down and I'll-"

 

   The door snapped open and the two Aurors reappeared, "You're ready to leave?"

 

   "Yeah, sure."

 

   "Scorpius-"

 

   "No, we're done here." Scorpius pointed at his Uncle, "We're done. I didn't need your help anyway. I don't need you."

 

   Draco Malfoy struggled to his feet, but one of the Aurors started towards him. "Stay in your seat, Malfoy." he growled, grasping his shoulder and forcing him back down.

 

   "Scorpius-"

 

   "Keep your mouth shut, Malfoy."

 

   The kid glanced back before the door closed behind him, and for the briefest moment, Draco thought he saw a flicker of something strange in his expression. Like real, genuine regret. But then the door slammed, and he was gone.

 

   "Come on Malfoy. Let's go: back to your cell."

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, August 11th

 

   Draco stooped in to the cold room, coming to an abrupt stop, his eyebrows raised with surprise, when he saw Pansy sitting at the table and staring down intensely at her finely manicured nails.

 

   "Keep it moving, Malfoy." Snapped Ballick, Draco's least favourite guard. He'd come to understand the man as one of the most blood-thirsty bastards in the whole of Azkaban. "Don't know about you, but I aint got all day to waste."

 

   Draco stuttered forwards, finding his way to the seat opposite Pansy and sitting down quietly. Ballick nodded to her, and then told her he'd be just outside if there were any disturbances.

 

   "Thank you." she said in a small voice, and then she looked down at the tabletop, waiting for the guard to leave.

 

   "What's wrong?" Draco asked, as soon as the door clicked shut. "Is it my son? Is he in trouble? Is he alright?"

 

   "Oh, Draco." Pansy said, looking up at him with eyes that shimmered strangely, and shaking her head. "What can I say to you? No. He's not alright, but I don't know what to do with him anymore."

 

   "What do you mean?" Draco asked, his face dropping into a frown. "Is it Hogwarts? I thought he was getting on well with his studies. And you said that he'd been making lots of friends-"

 

   "Friends." Pansy repeated in a scoffing voice, "Yes, that's just the trouble. Those horrible little Slytherin boys, trying to recruit him into their Dark Arts club. Oh," she threw her hands up, "Then there's the stealing- did you know he's been caught, more than once, stealing from the Muggle shops in town? Then this morning I recieve an owl from the Ministry, telling me he's been caught using Under Age magic, outside of school. He's already on his final warning, Draco, and he hadn't even thought to tell me about it. Just carried on, the little monster, as if butter wouldn't melt in his mouth. He looks more like you everyday, and, to be quite honest, I'm terrified for him."

 

   Draco flinched. "What can I do?"

 

   "I don't know Draco; maybe nothing. Maybe I'm just being an overprotective mother, but I think of how the Ministry convicted you, and I get scared."

 

   "Pansy..." Draco tried, reaching out for her with his cuffed hands. But she moved herself away from his touch.

 

   "Please don't," she said, in a voice that was very little more than a whisper. "Sometimes it's still hard, Draco, no matter how much time passes."

 

   He nodded, as if he could understand what she meant. Then he sighed. "The Ministry don't know that he's my son," he said softly, "And he hasn't done anything too awful, yet. You just need to... Wake him up, before his troublemaking starts to snowball."

 

   "But I've tried." Pansy whimpered, closing her eyes, "Too often I find myself begging with him to just be good, but sometimes it feels like he's doing all of this just to spite me. The more I beg him to stop, the more he acts up. And I have... I have my daughters to think about, too. I know that he resents them, just as much as he resents his father--" she froze, her eyes lifting quickly to meet Draco's, and then she flushed before quickly amending herself, "Just as much as he resents Steven."

 

   Draco didn't say anything. He wanted to moan, and weep, and protest the unfairness of another man being known as 'Dad' by his only son. But he didn't. How could he? He'd put himself into Azkaban, and he'd requested Pansy find Scorpius another father. How could he despise her for it now? How could he make her feel rotten, when she'd done nothing but her best for their baby.

 

   "How is Steven?" He asked at last, but Pansy just shook her head angrilly.

 

   "Oh Draco, don't." she said hotly, "This isn't about him. I came here hoping you might be able to help me- that you might have some advice about what I should do next with our son, considering he's subconciously chosen to follow the exact same path of destruction that you set yourself upon at his age."

 

   "Hey," Draco said gently, "It'll be different for him. He has you, Pansy, and no matter how much I might dislike the situation, he has Steven too. A whole family. He wouldn't forsake that."

 

   "How would you know?" Pansy asked nastilly. Regretting it the moment it fell beyond her lips. Her stormy expression evaporated in a second, and she went from angry to sorry in a heartbeat. "Draco, I... I didn't mean-"

 

   "No." he shook his head heavily, "No, you're right. How would I know? I don't know anything about the boy, beyond the basics: his height, his eye colour, his favourite subject, his..." But Draco trailed off, because he could think of nothing else. "I don't know why you came to me Pansy." He said, his voice sounding almost defeated against the silence. "I'm sorry, but I can't help you."

 

   "I think..." Pansy said eventually, "That perhaps it might be time that you and Scorpius met. I think it would be for the best, to... To help him understand-"

 

   "What'll happen?" Draco asked, feeling suddenly hurt. "I can't be the boy's father, but I can be the screw-up Uncle. The one who shows him what'll happen if he ends up just like me. Pansy-"

 

   "No, Draco, not just for him." She protested, "I know how much you've always loved him, and it isn't fair for me to have kept him from you for so long. Even if he is just your Nephew, you have... You have the right to meet him. To see who he is."

 

   "I..." Draco faltered. There was nothing else he wanted in this world, but it took a moment to untangle his own desires from the practicality of the situation. "I wouldn't know what to say to him. How could I lecture someone for making the same mistakes I've made? It would be hypocrasy, and he'd hate me for it."

 

   But it was then that he realised what mattered, and what did not.

 

   Having the boy hate him paled in comparison to having the boy safe. It would be inhumanely selfish to place his own feelings above the value of his son's freedom. Scorpius deserved all the chances that Draco had never been given- he deserved to choose his own destiny, and not have it thrust upon his forearm in a hasty midnight branding.

 

   If having the boy hate him was all that it took... Well, then it was a small price to pay.

 

   "Okay." He said, before Pansy could respond to his earlier protests. "Okay, I'll meet with him. I'll... I'll do whatever it takes."

 

   Pansy's face relaxed into a smile of relief. "Thank you, Draco." She said, "Thank you so much. You don't know what this means to me." And then she leaned forwards very abruptly, and placed an impromtu kiss upon his startled lips. "Don't give up." she said, in an added whisper. "He's a stubborn boy, just like his dad, but he isn't bad." she sighed then, and touched his face lightly, before admitting, "Just like his dad."

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fifteen years ago

 

   The baby was crying again. Howling, even, blasting his little lungs out as if he had no reason to keep quiet.

 

   Pansy was asleep in the next room, exhausted from her labour and the months she and Draco had already spent on the run. It was over a whole day since she had pushed the screaming boy out into the world, and she'd done nothing but sleep since then. She must be sleeping heavy, the father of her baby thought, because the little boy had done nothing but scream.

 

   Draco was just lying on the dirty sofa, left arm and leg brushing the floor as he stared at his son's tiny, screwed up face. His bleary eyes were just the same colour as Narcissa's had been, before she was hunted down by the Ministry. She was killed for running, just like her husband was, just as her only son could be. They were listed as public enemies, for the Marks branded into their arms. But Draco wasn't thinking about that for now. He was thinking about how quickly his son had gone from being a silent bump in Pansy's midsection, to a real, minature person who could scream for England if that was what he wanted. He could do anything he wanted, for that matter, and Draco knew he'd be damned before he saw his son held down.

 

   The little boy was still belting bloody murder, so Draco lumbered to his feet at last, sauntering over to the squirming infant and crouching down beside him. "Hello, little son." he said in an unnaturally gentle voice, reaching down to lift him up and hold him against his chest, "Shh, shh." he murmured softly, giving his back a soft rub.

 

   "Oh, you'll be the death of me boy." he grinned, rising back up to his feet and keeping his son in his arms. The boy's screams had lessened only slightly, so Draco nestled him into the crook of his neck, soothing him quietly as he moved in a slow, rhythmic motion. "Come on, come on now son. Your mum is sleeping. She's tired, kid."

 

   The baby, perfect as he was, did not relent in his yelling.

 

   Draco frowned. For the first time since his son's birth, he felt a stirring of worry in his bones. "Here, here..." He muttered, setting the child down on the sofa and encompassing him in his own large hands, "Sshh, what's wrong? Are you hungry? Wet? Cold?"

 

   The baby just screwed his face up again, and howled like a little monster.

 

   But through it all, Draco Malfoy smiled. His son was a wonderful monster, and he was a miracle. Something which would belong to him, and he alone, forever. There was no one that could take that from him, and there was sweet comfort in that fact.

 

   "Come here, boy," he said, sweeping him back up into his arms and feeling the boy's howls drop a little as his hands cupped safely around him, "You're mine." he whispered, stroking the creature soothingly, "My baby. My son. Mine."

 

   Nineteen minutes later, the world changed.

 

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