At the Station (Father and Son)
Title: At the Station, Playing What If?'
"Father, what if-what if no one there befriends me? What if I'm sorted to Slytherin and they all despise me because of what Grandfather did?"
Draco looked down from his six foot plus height and bent his shoulders down immediately, curling them as an eagle does her folded wings, curved protectively-instinctively-over the much smaller body of his only child-his son, his precious heir.
No, simply his son. What if? Draco thought, and struggled to come up with a reasonable response. His son was no slouch, mentally. He'd inherited all the Malfoy acumen and a good deal of the Black and Greengrass common sense, something Draco's father, Lucius, had been sadly lacking. It would not do to lie, nor treat this question lightly. And yet...
"Then you'll make certain to try a bit harder, Scorpius," Draco replied, having drawn a deep breath. "Buck up, make an effort and you'll see-they'll come 'round." It was he who attempted to sound solidly certain, assured and bracing, but even Draco Malfoy needed something of a crutch to rely on in these trying times. Sending one's child-the very heart of him-off to Hogwarts was an infinitely difficult endeavour. He wasn't sure if he'd survive it, truly. "And, don't forget, son, you'll meet straight up with the Potters; in fact, I've no doubt you'll see them first thing on the Express if we don't trip over them right here at the station. They'll be arriving any moment."
"You're certain?" His son darted a curious look about them, but no distinctive heads of wild black or curling ginger hair were to be seen yet in the vaporous clouds of steam leaking from the waiting Express train. There were only the two of them and a few other scattered families standing about, having arrived horribly early at a destination Draco really had no wish to have arrived at. Platform 9 ¾'s was as yet deserted.
"I'm absolutely sure," Draco smiled, and patted his son's thin, boney shoulder. "You mustn't fret, Scorpius; it will be alright."
Such a positive message; such a crying pity Draco hadn't received the same, nearly twenty years ago, this same day.
"F-Father, Mother, I will be Sorted directly into Slytherin House, won't I? There'll be no delay?"
Draco had looked straight up-and up-to Lucius Malfoy, towering above him, and then to his mother, still terribly imposing in smart heels though she was more than a head shorter than Draco's sire. He didn't really require the reassurance from his parents; would've done perfectly well without it, as he was a Malfoy and a Malfoy was the epitome of assured and confident. But it wouldn't hurt to hear it again, especially after that rather disappointing run-in with the little black-haired boy.
"Of course, son," Lucius allowed himself a pleased curl of his thin lips, a sign he had everything under control on that front, at least. "Every Malfoy born has been a Slytherin. Do not trouble yourself over such trivial concerns."
Draco's mother nodded, and then couldn't seem to prevent herself from resting a hand on his spindly eleven-year-old shoulder. She disguised the familiar touch-Father had an utter abhorrence of any outward show of affection in public places such as this-by brushing the brand-new fabric into smoothness and straightening a non-existent wrinkle in Draco's school robes.
"And the new broom you've promised me? It will be sent?"
Draco dared push his limits as heir a bit; he'd no doubt his parents would ensure that their son received the best of everything, including that new broom, as he'd had a minor growth spurt over the summer and his old one was now far too short. Besides, he wished to impress that odd boy with his flying and a too short broom wouldn't do: the one in the robe shop, that was. A very odd boy, he'd been. A know-nothing, really.
But Lucius didn't smile more widely, as Draco hoped. He snorted, though, and the barely-there smile disappeared for a moment. "Perhaps. If you demonstrate that your flying skills are worthy, son. We shall see if Madame Hooch recommends it. First Years normally don't have their own brooms, not to my recollection."
Narcissa stepped in, perhaps to cover the uncomfortable silence and head off Draco's rising tantrum.
"Now, Draco. You've remembered the extra supply of parchment and quills? The tonic I've brewed?"
"Yes, Mother," he'd answered dutifully. He wasn't accustomed to such unvarnished directives to provide proof of his worthiness. Certainly, he'd been expected to live up his illustrious name and that was a given, but Father had never withheld a necessity such as a new broom from him. He needed that broom! That boy-so raggedy, really, and with such unkempt hair-his eyes had lit up a bit at the mention of Quidditch. Or at least Draco thought they had; he'd seemed so singularly unimpressed with everything else Draco had had to say. Draco would certainly need a new broom in order to properly show off his innate talent at flying. That would convince the boy he'd made a serious mistake, not instantly seeking to impress a Malfoy. Everyone sought to impress Malfoys.
"And you've all your texts, darling?"
"Yes, Mother." Of course he had! His mother had checked over his shiny new trunk herself after the elves had packed it. All his new wardrobe was in there, along with every requirement, plus a good deal more. He'd heard the Slytherin dungeons were rather Spartan in accommodations; hopefully the elves would find enough room for all the many items of clothing he was positive his mother had ordered packed.
Well, if not, he'd demand it. A Malfoy deserved to have access to their things, at least.
"You will remember to write, will you not?" She took her hand away and Draco rocked back on his heels for a moment, shaking off the lingering touch. He hadn't realized it was such an anchor, cleaving him to safe shores; he'd thought it more of a tether, preventing him from properly soaring. As a Malfoy should. And he'd make sure to think of it that way from now on; he was off to school, was he not? No mothers at school. Mothers were for crybabies and girls and Draco was emphatically neither of those.
Speaking of soaring, he'd no doubt see that boy on the train. He'd make sure to let him know his new broom was on its way from the shop, arriving any day now. Perhaps they might go for a spin on it. The boy had looked rather stunned at the thought of flying; Draco had no doubt he was an utter novice.
Still, Draco was sure it would be fitting to have a firm friend in hand, other than Vince and Greg, of course, before they arrived. A bit of a one-up on all those other Firsties, right? His own group all set, and ready to move into Slytherin territory with confidence.
Scorpius ceased to examine his shiny new loafers and looked up, finally, so that grey eyes met grey squarely. His lower lip, though, had the slightest hint of a tremble to it, and Draco's heart jumped in his chest. Oh, so small! So fragile! How could Scorpius be eleven so quickly? And how was he to survive this? Rattling around in Manor like a lone pea in a pod.
"You're sure, Papa?" Scorpius referred to Draco as 'Papa' or sometimes 'Daddy' when his inner pendulum swung in the direction of not-so-long ago babyhood. Draco was 'Father' when Scorpius was before his little playmates from the local Wizarding day school or the sons and daughters of Draco's and Astoria's circle of acquaintance.
"I'm certain," Draco smiled, and slid his hand 'round the childishly slumped shoulders of his son, the apple of his eye. The cuff of his robe and Scorpius's velvet collar rumpled together and Draco allowed himself a manly little squeeze instead of the full-body hug he longed to bestow.
Where was Astoria? She'd promised she'd be here and though they were few minutes early, Draco would've thought she'd show on time. Astoria, for all her faults, was a decent mum; Draco had not doubt she'd give her life for Scorp, just as his mother would've gladly laid down her life for him.
But still, Tory was congenitally late to appointments; had always been. Scorp had been born two weeks past his due date-two weeks Draco had spent gnashing his teeth and chewing his fingernails to the bloody nubs, blaming her-and it was always 'Oh! Something happened; sorry, darling!' or 'You'll never guess who I came across on my way!'
He was certain his own mother had never been tardy in her life; most definitely she was not now. It had to be the Greengrass bloodlines. He'd been informed there were Mystics in their background, and likely HedgeWizards, too. But it did mean that Scorp wasn't as likely as he'd been to succumb to childhood illnesses, which was a blessing in disguise. Strong breeding stock, the Greengrasses.
And where were those lousy Potters? Draco had been expecting them, and the Weasley lot as well. Scorp would never be comfortable on the train if they didn't make their appearance soon.
"Papa?" Scorp was asking, just exactly as Draco was fervently wishing he wouldn't, "Where's Mum? Where're the Potters and Rose and Hugh?"
Draco swallowed and went down on one knee, ostensibly to check the catch on the Scorpius's new owl's cage; ensure it was secure. In reality, the movement hid the hectic flush that had risen-part embarrassment, part knuckle-cracking anxiety-on his cheeks. Damn their eyes, the lot of them, to worry a child!
"Mother, do cease fussing," Draco shifted uncomfortably. His robes fit perfectly, yet they felt over-large on him. He supposed it was the charms woven into the fabric, or simply that they were new. New things-experiences-were often uncomfortable. One only had to recall his meeting with that boy. That had been...interesting. He'd not met a commoner before. But the boy himself had been intriguing.
"Where are the Crabbes and the Goyles, Father? Aren't you expecting them?" Draco asked, to turn his father's attention back to him. This was 'his' day, after all, almost more than any other short of his actual birthday, and he wished to ensure that both of his parents stay focused as they should be: on him.
The thin, almost-smile returned to Lucius's lips. "They'll be along, boy. Don't fret."
"Then I shall look forward to it," Draco replied, formally. He inclined his fair head, neatly combed and styled by Dobby that morning. "We'll sit together, I assume."
"Of course," his father replied shortly. "The Crabbes and the Goyles have always been allied with the Malfoys. If you are worrying needlessly about friends at Hogwarts, Draco, may I remind you that has been dealt with. You'll find more than sufficient persons concerned with making your acquaintance, I'm sure."
"Not at all, Father," Draco replied. He knew that. That boy had been the very first Draco had ever met who didn't seem to know who he was-and that would be rectified, soon enough. Draco, in fact, was rather looking forward to gaining a friend on his own, without his father's and mother's long-armed influence. But he knew enough not to bring that topic up.
He'd learned a great deal, really. His governess had said he was a 'born student'. He would impress his future fellow Slytherins with his brainpower alone; give those bookish Ravenclaws a run for their Galleons.
"We are very early," he observed, and stared about him. A pair of look-alike ginger boys-a year or so his elder--were just popping through the barrier, their luggage trolley wheels squeaking madly as they veered out of the way. With a soft 'plop' the Crabbes appeared, their son Vince sedately driving his trolley before him.
"Crabbe, Mrs. Crabbe," Lucius nodded royally at the trio approaching and Draco aped him, putting out his hand to Vince, Jr. as was proper and at the same time implicitly implying it was barely acceptable to him to allow the other boy to shake it, just as he'd been taught. He withdrew his hand immediately after and tucked it into his pocket, discreetly rubbing it against a pocket handkerchief. The boy had been slicked and spiffed, same as he-no doubt by Mrs. Crabbe, who had a reputation for worrying about appearances-but Vince's hand was still as sticky as ever. Toffee, probably. Vince had a thing for sweets, especially toffee. One only had to look at him to know that.
"Vince." His tone was just as cool as his father's. One did not show excitement in public places; one made sure to be reserved at all times. People would be watching: they were Malfoy's.
"D-Draco," Vince stuttered. "H-How are y-you, mate?" Hah! Draco thought derisively. The great git was already nervous-he wasn't; no, not at all. Hogwarts would be a lark; just a larger pond to swim in, and he (with his father behind him) would be a very big fish indeed.
"Darlings!" Astoria-thank Merlin!-had finally arrived. Scorpius rushed to her, wrapping his thin wiry arms 'round her fashionably narrow waist, his face alight with happiness.
"Mum! I knew you'd come!"
"Of course I would come, my little love. Papa told you I would, did he not?" Astoria went down on her haunches, teetering on three-inch lavender heels, and hugged her little boy fiercely. Draco hid a relieved smile behind a discreet robe sleeve as he regained his own feet. Ah! There was Nott, Astoria's long-time lover-and Pansy nče Parkinson, Theo's wife. They travelled in a group these days, as both Pans and Astoria were newly pregnant. Theo's by-blow would be well settled; Draco had already agreed to install him on one the French estates in due time.
Potter, however, had never quite gotten the hang of how the Upper One Thousand did these things, but that was alright. Blood heirs were no longer an issue-for either of them.
"Yes..." Scorpius admitted, his voice muffled by Astoria's deep violet travelling robe. Her ensemble was fresh from the Wizarding Dior Autumn Collection; Draco winced inwardly at the expected bank draught. "I did, Mum," he allowed, "but you were so late coming! We've been waiting absolute ages! It's boring!"
"Oh, darling!" Astoria protested.
"Not ages, Scorpius," Draco simply had to interject a bit of fact. "The Express was due at 8:45 precisely and we were here at twenty to. Hardly ages." And where were the Potters, damn it? Draco cast a casual glance round the station whilst Scorp was busy being made much of by his mother and Pans. Pansy's little girl had also received her Hogwarts letter; it would be quite old home week at his alma mater, Draco decided ruefully.
But there were no Potters yet, only pesky Weasleys.
"Can I go over, Father? Rose and Hugo are here!" Scorpius demanded excitedly and his parents shared a meaningful glance between them. Better to wait for the train, they agreed.
Draco spared a brief moment worrying about 'what if': what if Potter were on an important case and didn't manage to make it? What if they'd decided last minute to Apparate to Hogsmeade directly? He knew the Weasleyette had a crucial match scheduled for the morning in Norway. What if...?
But no; Potter wouldn't miss this for the world-not Potter, the sentimental sap. Just think of the names he'd inflicted on his poor unfortunate offspring! Silly git!
The Goyles arrived, with Greg. They and the Crabbes stood a little apart, as if terribly conscious the Malfoy family deserved their personal space. Draco appreciated that on one hand-certainly, he disliked being hemmed in needlessly-and regretted it with the other. It would've been pleasant to be standing with his mates when that boy showed up. Demonstrate nicely that he, at least, was already quite in demand, even if the boy was friends with a frightening half-Giant.
And very likely a murderer, too. Lucius had told him to steer clear of a person called Hagrid, and Draco, after quizzing his mother gently, had figured out that the huge man with the ice creams waiting for the green-eyed boy had indeed been he. Hagrid, his parents said, was a Bad Man. Draco noted that silently, for future reference. He'd make sure to snub him as soon as he'd the opportunity.
But where was that boy? He'd miss the train if he didn't take care!
Draco glanced about him as his father finally decided to impart a bit more worldly advice, only half listening to the familiar harangue about the 'right sort' of people and the importance of excellent marks.
He didn't want the boy to miss the train. That would be a shame.
Idiot Potter! Idiot Weasleys, for not coming over first thing! Scorpius was waiting!
They looked as though they were hanging back, for some reason, standing in a tight little group of their own, a little ways away. There was Granger-Draco would nod politely as soon she looked over; they worked together in the Ministry's DOM, and Draco was hardly not going to greet his fellow Unspeakable. The Weasel kept glancing constantly back over his shoulder, as if impatiently awaiting someone important, and Draco could hazard a solid, fool-proof guess as to exactly who that might be: Harry, perpetually laggard as always. The man was simply never on time.
Not that it would make much difference. They were at the platform and there was a significant crowd gathered; hardly the opportune time to broadcast their close acquaintance, even if everyone who was anyone already knew. But that was not how it was done, not in Draco's world, and not in the world that was now Harry's.
But no matter how often he furtively sneaked glances, or gave himself over to the game of What If? (what if the boy missed the train altogether? How would he get to Hogwarts? What if he were injured or otherwise unable? Would he arrive at all? What if Draco didn't manage to accidentally on purpose 'run into' him on the Express? What if...what if the boy didn't recall meeting him? It had only really been a few, brief moments and then they'd both been off to other matters. What, then?) there were no answers. And still, there was no black-haired, green-eyed boy to be seen.
"Remember, Draco, to make us proud," his father directed. "We will expect it."
"Take care of your health, Draco," his mother warned, her voice soft as the flower petals she adored so much. Draco would miss her gardens; he'd miss the Manor, for that matter, but he was nearly an adult now, travelling off to school on his own. In a few short years his father would be requiring his counsel at all those important Ministry meetings he attended so assiduously and his mother would be introducing him 'round to the all the young debs at soirees.
No, he'd vastly more important things to look forward to-a whole bright future spread out before him-than making a friend of one mere grubby, raggedy, ill-mannered commoner, who was horribly tardy, and likely poor as a churchmouse as well, and even more likely lacked the innate courtesy required to come find Draco on the train and reacquaint himself with someone who was sure to be a mover and a shaker in Slytherin House-if not Hogwarts in general.
But Draco would take care to show him what he'd missed...whenever he stumbled over the annoying boy in the future. He'd most definitely make sure.
Draco sneered to cover his sense of ill-usage as he finally boarded the Express-in the best Malfoy manner, of course. He'd learnt the expression from his father, and there was no better teacher in all the world.
One nod was all the acknowledgement he got when the famous Harry Potter finally showed, the entire family in tow, the Weasleyette clinging to his hand like a bloody limpet as the flashbulbs went off. Merlin be praised Draco knew better or he'd have sharp words for Potter later, making his stomach twist in knots like that.
He nodded sedately back, and just refrained from glaring. Astoria smiled.
"Daddy! Daddy, hug me quick! Papa-there's Al! And James! Oh-and Lily, too! Oh, we're late, Father; we're late! The doors are opening!" Even his calm Scorpius could be unsettled on occasion. Draco grinned like a besotted fool, and made sure the elves had a good grip on Scorp's magically lightened trunk and the owl's cage. They'd be waiting for him at Hogwarts, no matter what House he slept in that night.
"See? Didn't I tell you so, son? They're all here, just as promised." His fatherly duty completed, Draco swept Scorpius into an embrace, one last one before his little boy went off on the journey to manhood. He squeezed him tight and tighter and Theo and Pans did the same to their little girl, as did all the other parents-Draco's old schoolmates, nearly twenty years older, and hopefully twenty years wiser-and not one word was said about 'proper comportment' or 'dignity'.
"Go along with you now, darling," Astoria directed, giving Scorp a little push and a kiss. "Have fun, do!"
"Make me proud, son." Draco smiled reassuringly and thought sadly of the huge empty nest that the Manor would be when he returned this evening, devoid and deprived of childish laughter and an ever-growing collection of lively amphibians, now removed to a more suitable location.
"Don't forget to write, Scorpius!" he reminded his suddenly heedless son, who was already off, racing for the train doors that had just swept open; racing to catch up to a straggling group of ginger and black and brunet children, with whom his unmistakably white-blond head would stand out like a beacon.
And they all waited for him, the whole brood of Potters and Weasleys and other obnoxiously up-and-coming folk; companionably bumping shoulders and making space and asking 'Where've you been all summer, Scorp?' and 'How's your Mum?' and "You'll never guess what we did!' and then swept him along to bowels of the compartments. A bustle of elves followed, handling luggage.
"Make certain you write, Scorpius!" Draco shouted out at the very last moment, which was terribly unseemly and horribly ill-bred. This was a public place, after all. Malfoys didn't raise their voices in such environs.
Scorpius's face popped out of a nearby compartment window.
"This evening, Papa-I promise!" came his son's last words faintly before the shriek of the Hogwarts Express whistle deafened them all. "I promise!"
"I love you," Draco whispered, and raised his hand to wave. There were so many waving, he wasn't sure if his son would see. "I love you, oh, so much. Be careful. Be strong. Be safe, Scorp."
"That was fucking difficult, Draco!" Potter shucked his soiled Auror robes and disreputable Muggle garb all over the floor of Draco's vast bedroom, preparing for his ritual evening shower. "I thought it would be easier after James went off, but Merlin! It's not easy at all!"
"I know," Draco replied, but the bathroom door had already slammed shut. Potter was late arriving-no surprise there-and had already dined with Granger and the Ginger Contingent, little Lily and the Weasleyette, before showing his viz at Draco's door. Draco had dined in solitary splendour at a table a mile long, and decided there and then he'd-they'd-be eating the remainder of their meals in the Breakfast Parlour until Scorp was back home for the Christmas hols.
Potter popped his head back out of the lushly appointed lav.
"You coming?" he asked, and then he grinned mischievously. "No, wait; I want to make certain you do come, Draco-let me put it that way, instead."
"Well, you owe me that, don't you?" Draco asked, reasonably enough, dropping his dressing gown across the bed and rising. "Since you heartlessly abandoned me to Pans and Astoria for the remainder of the day."
Potter's grin was very sly. "All the better; a dose of 'Happy Famblies' a day keeps the Skeeter at bay, Draco, and you know it. Come on-I can't wait much longer."
"And I'm not the one making you wait, Potter," Draco replied tartly-and then gasped as he was swept into an ungainly fireman's hold, his naked arse exposed to Potter's lewd spank. "Oh! Fuck, Potter-put me the fuck down!" He kicked wildly at Potter's shins. "You can't carry me; I'm too heavy! Stupid Scarhead!"
"Shut it, Malfoy," Potter returned fondly, and then closed the bathroom door equally smartly on their post-Platform 9 ¾'s celebration.
It was the first day of yet another 'new' phase for Draco Malfoy. He looked forward to it, as he had to every day since the moment Potter had stumbled back into his world.