The Winter Break came around, and that meant I would be going home for two weeks, after so long away. I didn’t want to tell anyone, but being at Hogwarts was my first time sleeping anywhere without my parents sleeping somewhere in the same building. It had been an unexpectedly easy transition to sharing a room with four boys, hundreds of miles from home, but I was eager to spend the holiday with my parents and grandparents again. I was also very
eager to have my own room and a bathroom to myself again. These were the perks of growing up in a small, rich family.
I packed only a few things, and I made sure to hide my plush white ferret friend in a folded shirt. It wasn’t that the other boys would judge me— I knew for a fact that all of them had stuffed animals to sleep with, and Clarence had a living toad
for Merlin’s sake— but I didn’t want Dad to find it. Mum gave it to me as a secret gift for my eleventh birthday, and she said Dad wasn’t allowed to know about it. Maybe it was because I was supposed to be a big kid, now that I was at Hogwarts. Maybe it was because I wasn’t allowed to have any pets, even toy ones, because Grandfather Lucius’s peacock would attack it. But I’d become used to sleeping with it, and I didn’t want to leave it at school, so in my suitcase it went.
“It’s weird, going home.” Albus stuffed a pair of socks in his suitcase.
I looked up from my suitcase. “Why’s that?”
“Well…” He pinched a lock of his hair. “I’ve finally started thinking of Hogwarts as my home now. And now I’m going back to the place where I lived for all my life, but it’s more like I’m having a vacation there. It’s weird.”
“You don’t think so?”
I shrugged. “To me, it feels like I’m going home. I’ve lived there my whole life until now, like you said.”
“That’s true… Oh, wait!” He found a notebook and started writing. He ripped the page out and handed it to me. It was an address. “Does your family have an owl?”
“Uh…” I folded the sheet and tucked it away with my stuffed ferret. I also found some paper to give him my home address. “Not anymore. My grandfather’s peacock killed it a few years ago.”
“A peacock?” He seemed impressed. “Those can fly, right? Does it make deliveries?”
His ignorance was astonishing. “Peacocks don’t fly that well. Neige can’t even make it halfway across the front garden.”
Darius laughed. “Peacock, front garden… Sometimes you just sound so… spoiled
“That’s not my fault,” I countered lightheartedly. “My grandfather likes appearances. He’s always on about how ‘the ancestral manor must always be presentable’.”
Darius shook his head. “Manor
… Well, Scorp, I’d like to visit some time. See for myself how much work your granddad puts into it.”
Next to Darius, Glenn muttered, “Do the Malfoys even have
guests?” His comment was met with one of Darius’s socks in his face, and, judging by the disgust on his face, it was not
clean. “I didn’t mean it that way!” He threw the sock back. “I just—”
“I know,” I interrupted. “We don’t get many visitors. Maybe someday I’ll get to invite you guys.”
Clarence, already petting his toad, replied, “That might be fun.”
I smiled a little at the thought of having classmates over. Mum had always expressed that she wanted me to have friends my age— Dad’s former schoolmates only had children who were older, and when I met them, they had only been interested in my toys, not me. But I wondered what Dad and my grandparents would think about my roommates. Darius would probably be the most well-received, since he was so personable, but the others… Well, it’s pretty obvious that they won’t like the idea of having Albus, a Potter, over.
I wondered whether Glenn would even come, given he didn’t seem to like people. As for Clarence, I wondered whether his nerves would hold up to meeting my family; Grandfather, especially, didn’t usually present himself as an understanding person. It’s probably best that I don’t have any guests this time.
More addresses were exchanged. I wondered whether these boys would send any letters to me. If they did, I could use their owls to reply. If not… Well, I guess I could try using the Muggle post…
I almost laughed at the thought of my family’s reactions if I had to resort to that.
I hadn’t realized how lonely home was until now.
The manor was big enough to host a party for half the school, and it sat on a plot of land large enough to fit the entire Hogwarts Quidditch pitch. The drawing room alone was half the size of the Slytherin Common Room. There was even a dungeon in the basement with enough space to fit a hundred sleeping bags.
But it was all empty. I walked past three unused rooms just to get to the one where the musical instruments were kept (my favorite was the violin). At every meal, my parents, my grandparents, and I would eat at a dining table with enough chairs to seat forty people. My bedroom, which was larger than the room I shared at school, was one of only three occupied bedrooms in the manor, leaving seven more vacant, fully-furnished but collecting dust.
At least something interesting happened.
During dinner on Boxing Day, Neige started screaming a lot outside. “Oh dear.” Mum quickly got up from her seat at the table and left for the front door.
Grandfather stared after where she’d gone with furrowed eyebrows. “He’s distressed,” he said of the peacock, reaching for his wand. “Who’s out there?”
Grandmother touched his shoulder to calm him. “Lucius—”
“It’s probably just an owl,” Dad told us.
Grandfather put his wand away, but he still looked wary. “At this time of day? It must be an emergency. Or a trick.”
“Father, we haven’t been attacked since before Scorpius was born. Nobody’s going to—”
“Scorpius!” Mum returned, wearing a raptor glove with a snowy owl perched on her arm. “It’s for you, sweetheart.”
“Really?” I didn’t think anyone would actually send me mail.
I took the letter from the owl’s beak, already smiling. I never got mail, except for the obligatory birthday cards from Dad’s friends. There’s my name, right there on the envelope.
“I’m going to go find a perch for this owl,” Mum said. “I’ll be right back.” She left the dining room again.
Grandfather adjusted his old-man glasses to get a better look. “Who is it from?”
“It doesn’t say,” I answered, looking at the envelope.
Dad wrinkled his eyebrows. “That owl…”
I started to open it.
“Be careful, Scorpius!”
“Lucius, it’s just a letter!” Grandmother took Grandfather’s hand to prevent him from grabbing his wand again. She looked to me and smiled encouragingly. “Go on, darling.”
I opened the envelope and slid out the letter. The writing drooped at the end of each line, but the handwriting was neat enough.
How is your break so far? I hope your Christmas was good. I got some good presents. My parents got tickets for us to see the next Quidditch World Cup next summer because my sister Lil is big enough now. Do you like Quidditch? My brother Jimmy got into the Gryffindor team this year. He’s a Seeker. My Mum and Dad were Seekers for Gryffindor too. His first game is on the last Saturday of January against Ravenclaw. You can come watch with me if you want. Merry Christmas a day late.
P.S. My Dad says it’s ok for you to reply with the family owl since you said you don’t have one. His name is Plaskitt. You don’t have to reply if you don’t want to.
Albus needed to learn to use commas.
Grandmother asked, “Is it from one of your classmates?”
Before I could answer, Mum returned, looking very excited. She kissed the top of my head. “It’s great to see that you’ve made friends! Who is it from— Oh!” Her eyes instantly flicked to Grandfather.
Dad sighed, massaging his forehead. “I knew it.”
“Who is it!” Grandfather demanded.
I took a breath. “Albus Potter. He’s one of my roommates.”
“Potter?!” Grandfather stood up to reach for the letter, but Mum blocked him with her arm. “What does he want?”
“Father, please.” Mum was firm. “This is Scorpius’s letter from a friend. Don’t go corrupting this.”
Grandmother gently tugged Grandfather back into his seat. “Astoria is right, dear. They’re just children.”
“His father is the reason our reputation is ruined,” he asserted. “The Potters are to be avoided!”
I mustered the courage to speak: “Albus isn’t bad. He gets bullied a lot and he’s very quiet. I’ve been helping him.”
There was a short silence, in which the adults all looked surprised. I understood their pause; nobody expected Albus to be like that. Then, Dad said, “That’s very good of you, Scorpius.”
“Thank you.” I carefully folded the letter back into the envelope. “I’d like to send a reply. He said I could use the owl he sent. May I be excused?”
Dad nodded. “If you’re done eating.”
I stood up from my seat, thanked Grandmother for having prepared the food, and left for my bedroom. On my way, I heard arguments arise again in the dining room. Overall, I hadn’t expected that to go so smoothly. It seemed only Grandfather was against my association with Albus. Even Dad supported me. Does this mean I’m allowed to be his friend? Do I even want him to be my friend?
I pushed the thought off. Friendship wasn’t an immediate thing anyway. There was plenty time to decide. Once I was in my bedroom, I took out a pen and paper.
Thank you for your letter, and to your father for letting me use your family’s owl. My grandfather’s peacock noticed his arrival, but he made his delivery safely without being attacked.
I had a good Christmas, just with my family. Among other things, I got polish for my wand, and sheet music. I don’t think I’ve told you or our other roommates, but I can play a few musical instruments. I’m thinking about bringing my favorite violin back to school with me after the break.
Also, to answer your question, I do like Quidditch. I’m not very good at playing, but it’s fun to watch. If we don’t have too much homework to do, I’d like to watch your brother play on the 27th of January.
~ Scorpius Malfoy
I wondered whether I’d said too much about myself in my letter. I’d never sent anything aside from thank-you letters before. At least I’d done that enough times to not need Mom or Dad’s help posting it. They may not have been opposed, but I wanted them to be involved in as little of this as possible.
I released— What’s his name, again?
I checked Albus’s letter.
I released Plaskitt
from the balcony outside my bedroom. I hoped he would get the hint to come back to this part of the manor if Albus sent another letter. Even if Albus didn’t send another letter, I was glad to have received this one. It was my first non-obligatory letter.