Divorce. An ugly word. Nothing positive about it. It heralded a new beginning, but that beginning wasn't something exciting or something to be happy about. It meant everything was changing; lives completely disrupted.
It was a word eight year old Scorpius had thought never to hear from the mouths of his parents.
It turned out he had made a grave error with that expectation.
"So Scorpius will stay with you for this week and then next week, I'll have him stay over at Malfoy Manor," Father said coolly once they had left the room of the solicitor, who dealt with the private matters of the Malfoy family. Scorpius suddenly felt so much smaller in the large building and he couldn't wait to get out of it.
"Will your partner be living in the manor?" Mother asked snidely and her hand on Scorpius' shoulder tightened for a fraction.
Instead of sneering, father gazed at her calmly. "Yes, the move in will happen this week." He glanced at Scorpius and offered him a small smile. "I will see you next week, all right, Scorpius?"
Scorpius nodded mutely and watched how his father turned around and disappeared through the doors. Was that some sort of spring to his steps or was the boy merely imagining it?
"Come on, Scorpius. It's time we get you settled into our new home," Mother murmured and guided him gently towards the doors. He held onto her hand a little tighter than usual; he had already been left by his father, so it felt like, and he didn't want his mother to suddenly change her mind and leave him behind as well. He felt his stomach do a flip as they left the building.
A black coach led by one majestic looking white horse was waiting for them to take them to their new home. Not Malfoy Manor. A new house where only he and his mother would live from now on. Such a strange thought.
He was seated next to his mother and looked out of the window; the heavy atmosphere pressing down on him and making him wish the window could be opened.
A quick flash of blond made him turn his head so that he could take a proper look. His hands clenched around the fabric of his trousers.
Father was standing on the corner, his arms around a black haired person who waved some kind of paper around in the air, obviously very excited.
Was this the mysterious person for whom father had left mother? The one for whom father had willingly disrupted his marriage? The one who had made certain that Scorpius would never live in one house with both his father and mother again?
Did that person know what he or she had done?
"Scorpius?" Mother gazed at him with her cool, blue eyes. "Did you see something, darling?"
Scorpius swallowed and slowly shook his head. "No, nothing, mother."
The next week father picked him up on Friday at eight a.m.
The young boy wasn't good at waking up early, no matter how early he went to sleep, so he was still drowsy when mother pulled him into the hallway and helped him put his jacket.
"Do you have everything, Scorpius?" Mother asked; her mouth a thin line as she wound the scarf around his neck and made certain his soft, grey hat was nestled properly on his blond hair.
Scorpius glanced down at his suitcase, in which he had packed some clothes, some books and his homework which he had to finish by Monday. Father had the rest of his needed stuff – like his toiletries and the rest of his clothes – in Malfoy Manor. At least that place would still feel familiar. He was still trying to adjust to sleeping in a completely new bedroom and navigate through an entire new house.
"Yes, mother," he murmured and blinked sleepily.
Mother took a deep breath and studied him intensely, making him shuffle his feet; uncomfortable underneath the deep scrutiny.
"Look, Scorpius, your father has told me that you will meet his … new partner today," she said slowly; her voice carrying a trace of disgust at the words 'new partner'. "If you feel uncomfortable at any time, just send me a letter and I will come pick you up, all right? You don't have to stay there for the week if you don't want to."
She seemed to want some sign that he had heard her, so he nodded silently. So he would meet father's new partner today – no wonder mother was so tense.
Despite knowing that father wouldn't pick him up through the Floo – mother had promptly disabled any communication through Floo with Malfoy Manor – he still started when the doorbell rung loud and clear.
Mother stilled and closed her eyes for a few seconds. She released her breath slowly. With a quick snap of her fingers, a house elf appeared to open the front door; revealing his father in simple, grey robes.
Father remained standing on the doorstep – probably understanding that he wasn't welcomed inside. "Good morning, Scorpius," he greeted his son with a small smile. He utterly ignored his ex-wife, who was glaring at him through narrowed eyes. "Are you ready to come with me?"
"Yes, father," Scorpius said softly.
Mother gave him a quick hug; a light tremble going through slim frame. "I will see you next Friday, Scorpius." She rose up again and addressed father coldly, "Eight a.m. at my doorstep. Not a minute later. Bring him here on your own."
Father pursed his lips together, but gave a single nod. He held his hand out to Scorpius. "Come, Scorpius."
"Are we going with a coach?" Scorpius asked curiously once he was walking next to father; the wheels of his suitcase creating a soft rustle sound over the smooth stones.
Father shook his head. "No, I'm going to Apparate with you. It's the quickest way to get back to the Manor." He looked down at Scorpius and startled the boy by giving him a warm, joyful smile. "We are going to have a fun week, okay, Scorpius?"
Scorpius nodded and inwardly wondered where that smile had been for eight years.
Scorpius had foolishly thought Malfoy Manor wouldn't change. After all, why would it change when he had lived here for eight years? There was no reason for it to change even without his mother's presence.
Yet it had.
Scorpius wasn't sure how he felt about that.
It started when two house elves opened the front door for him and father. While one house elf had taken his suitcase away to unpack it in his room, another house elf was attending to his father: putting away his robes and shoes. A third house elf was helping Scorpius with his shoes when he happened to look up absentmindedly.
An unfamiliar brown jacket hung up on a peg; a pair of white, slightly scuffed sneakers was placed neatly against the wall.
Father didn't wear those – they were too Muggle for him.
"Where is he, Hinskey?" Father murmured curiously and stepped forwards.
Hinskey seemed to understand immediately about whom father was talking.
"New Master is decorating his new room, Master Draco," Hinskey squeaked.
Father frowned. "Didn't I tell him he should be requesting your help?"
Hinskey squeaked nervously. "Master Draco tells new Master, yes, but new Master insisting no help needed."
Father sighed and rolled his eyes exasperatedly. "Please tell me at least that the idiot hasn't been lifting something heavy?"
Hinskey shook her head – her large, floppy ears bopping up and down. "New Master using magic to hang pictures on wall, Master Draco."
"Well, that's something, I suppose," Father muttered darkly. "Tell him he needs to meet me in the living room. I have someone I want to introduce him to."
Hinskey nodded eagerly and disappeared in a flash.
Father turned his attention to Scorpius. "Let's go to the living room, Scorpius. I want to introduce you to someone."
Even without the small, but warm smile lingering on his face, Scorpius could have guessed that this new person – a man, apparently – was father's new partner.
A swarm of butterflies seemed to take residence in his stomach.
In just a short moment, he would be meeting the person for whom his father had decided to end his marriage. What kind of person would this man be?
Scorpius dearly hoped it wouldn't be someone who would try to suck up to him. Merlin, he couldn't stand it when people acted friendly to him, just because of who his father was.
A tray with rosehip tea and a plate of vanilla biscuits topped with a dollop of chocolate was already waiting for them when they entered the spacious living room.
At least here nothing had changed. It was a small comfort, but one that Scorpius was eager to take now.
He and father had barely settled themselves on the comfortable couch when footsteps descended the staircase.
Taking a deep, controlled breath, Scorpius watched how the door slowly opened and a black haired man – so father had met up with him on the day of the finalization of the divorce – with startling, bright green eyes entered the room. Some strands of black hair shifted a bit, allowing Scorpius to take a peek at the scar hidden behind it.
He couldn't supress the surprised intake of breath.
Father smiled. "You probably have already guessed it, but Scorpius, this is Harry Potter. Harry, my son Scorpius."
Mister Potter approached him and with a friendly smile offered his hand. "Hello, Scorpius. It's nice to meet you. Your dad has told me a lot about you. All good things of course," he chuckled.
On automatic pilot, Scorpius accepted the hand and shook it. His slender, small hand seemed to disappear in the slightly rough, bigger hand of Mister Potter.
"It is nice to meet you too, Mister Potter," Scorpius murmured and blinked when something warm travelled around his hand.
Was that Mister Potter's magic? At least one story he had heard about the famous war hero had been true then: Mister Potter had a lot of magic.
"You can call me Harry," Mister Potter smiled reassuringly and then took a seat next to father.
"What have you been doing upstairs?" Father asked with a slight frown.
Mister Potter glanced at him quickly, before he leant forwards and grabbed the last remaining cup. "I've been putting up pictures – like the house elves already told you," he pointed out mildly and sipped from his tea.
"You didn't do anything more than that?"
"I did a lot of things – like rearranging the bookcase and putting my files in the right place," Mister Potter answered calmly and before father could interject, he continued, "And no, I didn't lift up anything heavy." He sounded slightly exasperated, as if he had heard that question too much already.
Father huffed and narrowed his eyes. "Excuse me for being concerned about you," he retorted, slightly grouchy.
Scorpius could only watch the interaction with wide eyes. Nobody – not even mother or Uncle Blaise – had ever dared to take that tone with his father. One simply didn't do that if one knew what was best for him.
Yet Mister Potter seemed to get away with it without any repercussion.
What was happening?
"No need for that. I'm perfectly fine," Mister Potter said calmly and then his deep green eyes were suddenly focused on Scorpius – who felt like a rabbit in front of a hungry wolf. "Draco told me that you are taking duelling lessons. What do you think of them?"
Scorpius blinked surprised and floundered for a few seconds. He hadn't anticipated being questioned all of a sudden. "Eh, I like it, I suppose," he said slowly. "My tutor is very strict, but it is interesting to learn the history behind duelling and the theory."
Mister Potter grimaced. "He teaches you the history behind duelling?" He sounded slightly horrified.
Scorpius nodded hesitatingly, wondering whether he had said something wrong.
Father rolled his eyes and snorted. "Harry, that is a necessary part of my son's education," he remarked amused.
Mister Potter looked at him aghast. "Why on earth would he need to learn the history behind it? A fat lot of good that is going to do him if he needs to duel someone."
"It is not because you are a barbarian when it comes to history, that I will let my son grow up to be one," Father remarked mildly; his eyes glittering faintly.
Scorpius could barely supress letting his jaw drop in shock. Father was always so polite and collected – he only used insults for the lowest of the low and even then Scorpius had only heard him utter an insult twice in his entire life.
Mister Potter didn't seem ruffled or even hurt by being called a barbarian. He simply smirked and leant back against the couch. "Yet this barbarian kicked your arse every time in school, Draco," he said gleefully.
"Language, Potter!" Father snapped, but there wasn't any serious heat behind it.
Scorpius' eyes widened even more; father had lost every time against Mister Potter? He had never mentioned anything like that.
"And I did not lose every time," Father pointed out and sounded slightly insulted.
"Hm, but of course," Mister Potter mused and a devious glint appeared in his eyes. "Let me rephrase myself: in every fair fight, I kicked your arse."
"Are you implying that I cheated?" Father asked snootily.
"I'm not implying it," Mister Potter smiled impishly and stretched out his left leg before he brought it over his right one. Then he grew solemn again and returned his attention to Scorpius. "Have you only learnt the history and the theory so far? No practice at all?"
"Ah no; my tutor says we will start practicing in two months," Scorpius said softly.
"Two more months of history and theory?" Mister Potter murmured to himself. "Can't understand how you can stand that without being driven insane."
"Not all of us have a small brain capacity like you," Father remarked dryly. "How did you even manage to pass the theoretical exams?"
Mister Potter grinned. "A lot of luck," he replied cheerily.
"What did you study?" Scorpius couldn't help but ask. For all that Mister Potter was famous, he didn't know much about him. The few history books he had read all mentioned the same information: how he had defeated the Dark Wizard Voldemort when he was a baby – although that part was still mostly speculation – and how he had defeated him for the final time when he was seventeen. They mentioned a couple of other instances when Mister Potter duelled with Voldemort, but aside from that, there wasn't much known about the man.
Scorpius had never understood how it could be possible that a big shroud of mystery still clung to Mister Potter while he was probably the most famous man alive now.
"I studied to be an Auror," Mister Potter replied calmly. "But I quit after a year of working."
Mister Potter shrugged casually. "I had some … issues with keeping my temper and with obeying certain rules." The smile he offered was rather thin and made Scorpius uncomfortable. After a couple of tense seconds, his smile warmed again and his eyes started to glitter. "So I decided to be a duel instructor. I also occasionally take over the Defence Against the Dark Arts class in Hogwarts."
"You never knew when to slow down," Father murmured and Mister Potter threw him an exasperated look.
"It's not like I'm busy twenty-four seven," the other man retorted impatiently.
"You wouldn't even have to dare doing that," Father warned him and placed his cup with a soft 'ting' back on the table.
"Worrywart," the dark haired man murmured teasingly, but he threw father a soft look.
Scorpius felt his cheeks heating up at witnessing that particular look and hastily glanced away, feeling as if he was intruding on a private moment.
A house elf popped into the room, which made Mister Potter yelp in surprise.
"Bixy is sorry for startle new Master," the house elf squeaked and his huge eyes stared guiltily at the dark haired wizard, who waved his hand impatiently.
"Don't worry; I'm just not used to house elves," Mister Potter muttered and scratched the back of his head bashfully.
"That won't last long," Father reassured him and ignoring the sceptical look of the other man, he addressed Bixy, "Is something the matter?"
"Floo calling. Missus Granger insisting on talking to new Master," Bixy sniffed, obviously not fond of this particular woman.
Scorpius wondered who this Miss Granger was. Was she a friend of Mister Potter?
"I'll better go ask what she wants before she decides to come through," Mister Potter murmured and stood up. "Keep the house elves out of the room, Draco. I don't need her being distracted by them."
Father rolled his eyes and sneered. "Perhaps it is time she becomes used to this particular aspect of our world," he replied and his voice sounded cool.
"Don't start this again, Draco. I'm not in the mood," Mister Potter warned and then disappeared; presumably going upstairs to accept the Floo call.
Father sighed and rolled his shoulders. "You heard Harry, Bixy. Keep the house elves out of the room while he conducts his call."
"Yes, Master Draco," Bixy squeaked and disappeared.
Scorpius bit the inside of his cheek; he dearly wanted to know who this woman was and why she was against house elves, but he didn't dare to ask. Father looked quite annoyed and didn't appear willing to elaborate.
"Do you have a lot of homework, Scorpius?" Father asked abruptly and looked at him imploringly.
"Two one page essays; one about the new chapter of Transfiguration and one about the comparison of two potions I studied the previous two weeks," Scorpius answered after a short moment of going through his mental list. "I also need to read the new chapter for Charms, but that is it."
He had been working on his homework whenever he could. Despite being only eight years old, his tutors were very strict and saw no need to mollycoddle him, assigning essays and reading material every week.
"Hm. Well, before you start on those, why don't we go outside and play some Quidditch?" Father proposed with a small smile. "I doubt you have had much time to go flying."
Scorpius was speechless; it was true that he loved flying and Quidditch and since the day he had been informed about the impending divorce, he barely had gone outside to fly as he was not in the mood for it. Not to mention that the only one who had always been willing to fly with him – his father – had been very busy with his work and with the divorce and so the blond boy had nobody to join him outside. Mother had never taken a liking to flying and she would constantly curl her upper lip slightly whenever he mentioned Quidditch or flying.
Honestly, he had given up on ever playing Quidditch again in the manor; he had expected to not being able to fly until at least the first year of Hogwarts.
Discreetly he pinched his thigh, just to make certain he wasn't dreaming. Ouch, that stung. So, apparently he wasn't dreaming and father had really suggested playing Quidditch again – just like before this whole mess had started.
"Scorpius? If you think you won't be able to complete your homework on time, we could always …"
"NO!" Scorpius blurted out before he could stop himself. "No, I would love to play Quidditch!" He slapped his hand before his mouth and blushed furiously; he hadn't meant to sound so childish.
Instead of scolding him, however, father stood up, beckoning him. "All right, come on then. Let's see whether your skills have rusted already."
And then he laughed gently.
For a moment, Scorpius felt too dazed to stand up and he seemed glued to the couch; a strange warmth swirling around in his chest. Father had never laughed like that before. Smiled faintly, yes; smirking, yes; chuckling, rarely. But a real laugh?
That was something the boy had never heard before and it made him silent in his fluster.
Yes, things were definitely changing in his life and he started to wonder what kind of impact they would have.
Three days later, Sunday evening, Scorpius was preparing himself for bed. He had brushed his teeth, washed his face and had exchanged his clothes for a white, soft pyjama shirt and trousers. He had to meet his tutors early tomorrow morning, so he had to make certain he went to bed on time.
While a house elf was flitting around in his room, closing the curtains and making certain that the candles didn't go out, Scorpius was putting the books for tomorrow's courses in his bag, together with some parchment, quills and ink. The whole time his mind was mulling about the events of the weekend.
He and father had had a short Quidditch match on Friday and he had enjoyed himself immensely. They had ceased flying after two hours, as lunch was ready by then and they needed to make themselves presentable. It hadn't taken too long to change out of their muddy clothes, but father had wanted to look 'his best'. Lunch with Mister Potter had been awkward, as Scorpius was uncertain how to behave around the strange man.
Luckily for the boy, both adults had been discussing Mister Potter's conversation with Miss Granger and hadn't forced him to participate.
Saturday was mostly spent writing his essays and reading the new chapter for Charms, while holed up in his room. He didn't know what Mister Potter had been doing throughout the day; the boy figured he had been still setting up his room, as he had occasionally picked up some soft stumble and noise which sounded suspiciously like heavy furniture banging against the wall.
The only times he had seen Mister Potter was during breakfast, lunch and dinner, as the man had skipped their evening tea-time in the front parlour for some reason.
Today had been mostly spent reading a history book he had uncovered from the Malfoy library during the morning and in the afternoon he had played Exploding Snap with Mister Potter and father – well, father had been a spectator mostly, egging on both Mister Potter and him.
Throughout the entire weekend, Scorpius had tried to figure out what exactly he thought of Mister Potter. The man was nice to him, no doubt about that, but Scorpius couldn't find it in him to relax around him. This was still the man who had caused his parents to divorce each other and he didn't know whether to be angry at him or let it rest. Because really, in the end, the divorce was between his parents, so he had no right to interfere. It wasn't polite after all for a child to interfere in matters which only concerned adults.
It would help, however, if he could make up his mind about Mister Potter.
Eyebrows furrowing, he stared at his open bag, eyeing the books he had put in it. He was missing something, right?
Books of transfiguration, charms, potions and duelling? Check. Quill? Check. Spare quills in case the first one broke? Check. Enough ink? Also check.
What could possibly be …
He could smack himself for being stupid once he realised what exactly was missing in his bag. His homework! His two completed essays hadn't been put in his bag yet and he couldn't leave without them – his tutors would be angry if he didn't hand them in tomorrow.
Shaking his head at his own carelessness, he left his room and hurried towards his father's office, where he had last seen his essays. He had given them to father, so that he could look over them and point out possible mistakes, so that he could fix them on time.
He opened the door with some slightly difficulty – this particular door was heavier than most ones in the manor and it had always given him trouble. Normally he wasn't allowed to be here on his own – a rule set in place after he had accidentally lit an important paper on fire with his accidental magic at four years old – but he figured father wouldn't mind it if he quickly grabbed his essays.
Knowing himself, he would be too tired to remember them tomorrow morning and he could do without the embarrassment of not having his homework with him.
Letting out a triumphant noise, Scorpius snatched his papers from the tall desk and looked at them. There were a couple of spelling mistakes, but they weren't major and he could easily fix them tomorrow morning after he'd eaten his breakfast; especially if he woke up early enough.
Cradling the papers against his chest, he quickly exited father's office and closed the door carefully, so that it wouldn't slam shut.
Making his way back to his bedroom, he halted when he passed by the only bathroom in this particular corridor. It was one of the smaller ones and generally ignored, but this time someone was inside.
Light was shining through the small crack and a strange noise drifted out of the room.
Biting his lip, he debated whether he should investigate or not. It could only be father or Mister Potter after all, but he was reluctant to find out who it was exactly.
Gathering his nerves, he approached the bathroom and slowly pushed the door open. The sound was louder now and easy to identify, making him grimace in sympathy.
Mister Potter was kneeling on the floor; the knuckles of his hands white as a sheet due to the strong grip he had on the toilet seat. His head was hanging over the bowl while he was throwing up his dinner.
When he pulled back with a rough gasp and some coughing, Scorpius noticed how sweaty his forehead was and how pale he looked now.
"Are you all right?" Scorpius could smack himself for the stupid question. Of course Mister Potter wasn't all right! Who would be when they were throwing up so violently?
Green eyes looked at him in surprise while the owner of them sunk against the wall, leaning his head back against the white tiles with a soft groan. "Don't worry about it," Mister Potter murmured exhausted, but his hands were trembling.
Before he fully comprehended what he was doing, Scorpius had already filled a glass with water and approached the older man, holding it out to him. He hadn't thrown up a lot, but he could remember being ordered to drink water.
"Thanks," Mister Potter said gruffly and took a sip, grimacing. "Eugh, need to brush my teeth."
"Should I call father?" Scorpius asked and hovered next to the sink uncertainly.
"No need for that. I …" Mister Potter groaned and waved his hand at the notion.
Whatever he wanted to say, Scorpius would never know for at that moment father entered the bathroom with a queer look in his face.
"Nauseous again?" Father inquired softly and helped Mister Potter stand up.
Mister Potter nodded, taking deep breaths. "Thought I was done with it," he said in a rough voice as he stood up on his somewhat shaky legs.
"Well, they did mention three to four months," Father murmured and glanced at Scorpius. "Scorpius, you can go to bed."
There was something important he was missing. He was still a child, but he wasn't that stupid. There was something happening to Mister Potter and it didn't seem to faze either man – which meant whatever this was, was happening frequently.
Leaving the two men behind, Scorpius hurried back to his room, where he shoved his homework in his bag and practically jumped into his bed. The light of the candles cast strange shadows against the walls and he stared at them, while his heart was beating madly.
He couldn't wrap his head around the scene he had just witnessed. Mister Potter throwing up shouldn't unsettle him this much; maybe the man was a bit ill. He could have a stomach bug of some sorts.
But what did father mean when he asked "Nauseous again?" That implied that it had happened before and Mister Potter hadn't looked particularly ill during the day. And then there was that comment of three to four months. What was the meaning of that? Why would Mister Potter be sick for three to four months?
He was still mulling over these thoughts, trying to find an answer for his questions, when the door opened half an hour later.
"I see you haven't gone to sleep yet," Father murmured and the door closed behind him with a soft 'click'.
Scorpius' eyes shot towards the only clock in his room and he winced; pulling the blanket further over his chest. Nine thirty already. He was supposed to go to sleep at nine o'clock at the latest.
"Sorry, father," he murmured and glanced down; his hands burying themselves in the soft cotton.
The mattress sunk down a bit when father sat down and Scorpius stared at him, wondering what father wanted at this late hour. Scolding him for going to sleep late would be rather counterproductive.
Father looked tired and somewhat nervous – it wasn't a look he carried well and it only made the boy nervous and quite on edge. What could possibly make his calm father nervous? The man was always so composed, collected … He never was flustered, embarrassed or nervous.
"Scorpius, there is something I need to tell you," Father began and hesitated. Silver grey eyes looked at him solemnly. "I would have talked about this sooner, but I didn't find the right moment."
Scorpius kept quiet, not knowing what to say.
Father glanced away for a few seconds, before he turned his gaze back to his son. "I don't want to overwhelm you this soon after meeting Harry, but we figured it was best if I told you sooner than later. You probably would start noticing it very soon, anyway, but well …" he trailed off and looked down at the floor.
"Father?" Scorpius asked softly, becoming worried. What would he start noticing soon? What was going on?
"It's … There is no easy way to tell you this, but Scorpius, you are going to be a big brother soon," Father answered.
His heart seemed not only intent on hammering straight through his chest, but it was also blocking his ears, making the other sounds muted. He opened his mouth to say something and closed it again, becoming quite confused.
A big brother? He was going to be a big brother? How was that even possible? Was mother …
"Harry is pregnant, Scorpius," Father murmured and he looked at Scorpius apprehensively. "In six months, you'll have a sister or a brother."
"Is that why he was throwing up?" Scorpius asked stupefied. His brain seemed to have stopped working; he was having a hard time comprehending what he was hearing.
"Yes, the morning sickness hasn't stopped yet," Father answered and grimaced. "We thought he was over it, but well …"
"How …" Scorpius furrowed his eyebrows and bit his lip. Weren't it normally girls who carried a baby?
Father's cheeks flushed suspiciously and he cleared his throat, coughing delicately. "Eh well, it has something to do with my magic working well with his magic," he muttered and seemed rather fascinated by the design on Scorpius' sheets. "We discovered a month ago that he's pregnant."
A month ago was when father had told him that he and mother would get a divorce. Was it coincidence?
"Oh," Scorpius uttered blankly. What was he supposed to say to that?
A baby. He would be getting a half-brother or half-sister soon. It was such a strange concept and he didn't know what to think about it. He was going to be a big brother? Such a strange thought.
Certainly not something he had ever thought he would be.
"Scorpius? What do you think of it?" Father sounded apprehensive and uncharacteristically subdued at the same time.
Scorpius wetted his lips and gazed at his father. He wasn't very good at reading people – certainly not as good as mother or father was or even Aunt Daphne – but he thought he could see something that resembled hope in his father's eyes. Hope for what?
"I … I guess it's good?" It came out as a question and Scorpius winced, fearing he had offended father. But what else could he say? He wasn't exactly jumping in joy, but on the other hand he couldn't think of an immediate reason as to why he would be against it.
What could he do, though? The baby was already there. It wasn't like it was going away, even if he despised it.
Father smiled weakly and suddenly leaned forwards, catching Scorpius off guard by hugging him tightly. "I love you, you know that, right?"
Slightly confused and thrown off balance by that particular question, Scorpius nodded and hugged him back. "I love you too," he murmured; the words feeling strange in his mouth.
Of course he loved father, but he had never stated it out loud – not as far as he could remember. It simply wasn't something that a Malfoy did.
"Good," Father murmured and then slowly released him. He coughed and stood up. "I'll let you go to sleep now. You have an early morning tomorrow."
Scorpius nodded and after exchanging a soft "Good night", father left the room silently.
After staring at the ceiling in the dark for a while, he turned to his side and closed his eyes.
Bit by bit, Malfoy Manor was starting to feel like a stranger's house and he wondered how that was possible. It was his home after all – out of all the things in his life, his home wasn't allowed to change.
And yet, it was doing that.
Was this what books meant when they said that a character's life was uprooted?
Mister Potter was the one bringing him to his class on Monday morning. Father had wanted to bring him, but he had been called away by an associate as there were some issues with a potential client. Scorpius hadn't understood much of it; only that father was in quite a hurry and that instead of him, Mister Potter would be bringing him to class. He didn't take it to heart, though. He knew father was busy and that there were times he had no other choice but to rush away.
Yet he couldn't help but admit in some small part of his mind that he would have liked father bringing him.
The tutors teaching Pureblood children all taught in the same building. There were no real classes and so the building couldn't be classified as a school. It was merely a building wherein Pureblood children met with their tutors in separate rooms and were taught important subjects. The building wasn't that far from Malfoy Manor actually. Father always Apparated with him there, but this time he had to walk.
"Why are we not Apparating?" Scorpius asked curiously as Mister Potter stepped outside. Two house elves were bidding them goodbye and they closed the heavy doors behind them.
Mister Potter glanced at him and offered him an embarrassed smile. "We normally would, but the Healer said it was best if I don't Apparate in my condition," he replied lightly.
"Oh." Scorpius blinked surprised and his hand tightened around the strap of his bag.
They walked in strained silence to the building; an awkward atmosphere hanging heavily between them. It wasn't like Scorpius was ignoring Mister Potter on purpose or even trying to snub him, but he honestly didn't know what to say to the man.
They were essentially two strangers with only one thing in common: father.
Scorpius couldn't help but ask himself whether this situation would last between him and Mister Potter for as long as the man stayed together with father.
They were almost at the entrance of the tutor building – as some children had taken to calling it – when Mister Potter turned towards him and knelt down.
Scorpius looked at him questioningly.
"Look, I know this whole situation isn't easy for you," Mister Potter started and he bit his lip. "Meeting the new partner of your dad and then getting to hear that you'll be getting a sibling soon … It isn't easy. And I'm not asking for your acceptance or so – though of course I'd prefer if we get along – but I just want you to know that I'm not going to come between your dad and you. You don't have to be afraid that I'm going to demand all his time and even when this baby arrives, he won't stop loving you, you can be sure of that."
"I know," Scorpius muttered awkwardly and shuffled with his feet. He wasn't a small child; he wouldn't start throwing tantrums, just because his father would have to divide his attention now.
"Good," Mister Potter smiled relieved. He then stuck out his hand. "I hope we can become friends soon."
Scorpius didn't know what to say to that, so he just accepted the hand and shook it weakly.
"I'll let you go now," Mister Potter smiled friendly and rose up. "Have a good day with your tutors."
"Thank you," Scorpius murmured and turned around. Right when the glass doors swung shut behind him, he caught a glimpse of Mister Potter turning around and walking back to the manor.
A strange flutter in his chest made him grab his jacket; Mister Potter had waited for him to enter the building before returning home. Mother had never done that before.
What did that mean exactly?
The week passed by fairly quickly after that. After Monday when Mister Potter had both brought him to his classes and picked him up again after they were finished, father took over and made sure he was on time for his lessons. Father seemed more relaxed now and it made Scorpius question what had happened to cause such a switch. Mister Potter was often absent – either in his room or visiting friends or going to his work, but he did try his best to engage Scorpius in a conversation about his lessons and what he liked to do in his free time.
The young boy still felt incredibly awkward around the older man, but was always polite to him; that was easier when he didn't think of the baby. It wasn't that he hated the baby, but the thought of having a sibling unnerved him and made him jittery – which made him wonder whether he only felt like that because it wasn't his mother expecting the baby or because he was just in general kind of spooked by the prospect of becoming an older brother.
On Friday morning, at exactly eight a.m., Scorpius was standing on the doorstep of his mother's house, saying goodbye to his father.
Mother was waiting in the hallway with her mouth pursed as if she had tasted a sour lemon.
"See you next week, Scorpius," Father smiled and after waving for the last time, he disappeared.
Scorpius entered his house, breathing in the faint scent of orange blossoms. "Good morning, mother," he said softly and led a house elf help him getting rid of his jacket and shoes.
"Good morning, Scorpius," Mother murmured and stepped forwards, bending down swiftly to give him a kiss on his forehead. She put a hand on his shoulder and softly urged him to follow her to the living room. "How was your week?"
"Good," Scorpius answered after a pause and sat down on the pure white couch. "Father and I played Quidditch and Exploding Snap," he continued; it seemed important to announce that for some reason.
Mother smiled thinly. "And what do you think of his new partner?" she asked rather tightly; her expression looking rather haughty. He wasn't certain he liked it.
The atmosphere in the room seemed to cool down with several degrees and Scorpius suppressed the urge to shiver. "Mister Potter seems nice," he answered offhandedly.
"Did they tell you the other news?"
"You mean that Mister Potter is having a baby?" Scorpius asked confused. It was the only news he could think of that his mother wanted to know.
Mother inclined her head and crossed her legs; her long gown rustling softly over the carpet. "What do you think about that?"
He shrugged. "Not much. I think it's nice?"
Mother narrowed her eyes and looked at him contemplatively, as if she was trying to figure out whether there was a deeper meaning behind his answer.
"Why don't you go upstairs and get your books ready for your class this afternoon?" she suggested with a soft smile and he nodded automatically, caught off guard by the sudden switch in topic.
He was nearly out of the living room when mother called him.
He turned around to look at her expectantly. "Yes, mother?"
"If you feel uncomfortable around Potter and his … offspring, you can always tell me, you know. I won't force you to go back if you don't want to," she told him softly.
All he could do was nod silently and leave. It was clear as day that mother didn't like Mister Potter and he supposed that wasn't surprising. He just hoped that he wouldn't have to choose between mother and father.
He didn't think he would be able to handle it if his life unravelled even further. His parents divorcing was painful, but it seemed that instead of resolving the problems and diluting the tension, problems were only started to pop up and grow all around him and he didn't know whether they would stop.
And the young child seemed to be caught in the midst of everything. He sighed and closed the door to his room; he hoped things would be better soon.