Scorpius Malfoy sat at the long breakfast table eight feet from each of his parents and sipped his morning coffee peacefully, the strong scent of cocoa beans wafting around him. His father, Draco, was reading The Daily Prophet; his mother, Astoria, fiddled with the butter dish as she stared out the high, mullioned windows, her thoughts seemingly far away as she watched the sparrows flutter around the apple trees in the garden.
The Malfoys had perfected their morning routine in the twenty years of Scorpius’s life. None of them were morning-people, and they knew better than to try to strike up conversation before everyone was fully awake. So Scorpius drank his heavily-sugared coffee before it grew cold, and his parents occupied themselves in silence, and all was very, very good…
…until Draco Malfoy set down the paper.
“Al’s coming for tea this afternoon, correct?” Scorpius’s father asked, jolting his son from his wandering thoughts.
“Mmhmm,” Scorpius replied, a smile sliding onto his face at the thought of his boyfriend, Albus Potter.
“Good,” Draco continued, looking back down at his paper absentmindedly, “he’ll finally be able to meet my parents.”
At his father’s words, Scorpius’s smile slid off his face, and his mouth popped open in horror. He gaped for several long moments before gasping out: “Grandad and Grandma are coming to tea?”
Draco had continued reading the paper, but looked up at his son’s question. His pale eyebrows pulled together on his forehead. “That isn’t a problem, is it?” he asked. “You like your grandparents.”
Astoria sighed loudly from her end of the table. She had followed the conversation between her husband and son with her lips pursed in consternation. “Draco, you know very well that we haven’t told Lucius and Narcissa about Scorpius’s boyfriend,” she said, her voice teetering on the edge of rudeness. Scorpius watched his mother carefully. She was usually a very calm woman, not often letting her temper get the best of her, but even Scorpius could see the annoyance on her face as she continued to address her husband. “How inconsiderate of you to spring this on him.”
Scorpius’s eyebrows shot up towards his blond hairline. His parents had a very solid marriage and almost never fought. He could only remember one other time when they had been at odds—over Scorpius dating Albus, in fact—and Astoria had put her foot down, despite Draco’s protests.
“But he’s Harry Potter’s son,” Draco had said, a slight whine entering his voice as sixteen-year-old Scorpius nervously watched his parents argue in the sitting room. It was the beginning of the summer holidays before seventh year, and he had just told them about his boyfriend of five months, Albus Potter. Astoria had smiled and asked when they could meet Al. Draco had pouted and complained about his son’s choice in a significant other.
“Scorpius likes him, and that’s all that matters,” Astoria said bluntly, putting her hands on her narrow hips and staring her husband down like an angry hippogriff.
“Couldn’t you date someone from one of our friends’ families?” Draco asked his son. “Paul Nott is single, isn’t he?”
Scorpius fought the urge to roll his eyes. “Paul’s straight, Dad,” he said calmly, “and I don’t like Paul like that. I like Al.”
Astoria smiled fondly at her only child and turned back to Draco with fire in her eyes. “Scorpius and Albus are together,” she said firmly, “and that’s the last we’ll hear of it.” She turned back to her son. “Please invite him to lunch or dinner this summer, Scorpius. I—we—would love to meet him.”
Now, Scorpius watched as his father gaped at his mother.
“I didn’t think I needed to say every time my parents want to come by for tea!” Draco said indignantly. His long fingers were splayed on the table in front of him, as if he might push himself to his feet and storm out any minute.
“You don’t!” Astoria replied hotly. “But when you know Al is coming over, and you know the conversation we’ll have to have with your parents…you should have warned us, Draco!”
Scorpius began to stand from the table as his parents glared one another down from sixteen feet apart. At his sudden movement, they both looked at him.
“I’m gonna Floo Al and let him know,” Scorpius said with a sigh. “Might as well get this whole day over with.”
And with that, leaving the rest of his coffee to grow cold on the table, Scorpius walked out of the dining room and towards the fireplace in the salon. His footsteps echoed on the tile floor in the entryway, and he sighed again. It was going to be a long day.
“Your…grandparents,” Al said hollowly as he stared at Scorpius’s floating head in the flames of the fireplace. “I’m going to meet your grandparents.”
Scorpius nodded, careful not to smack his forehead on the hearth stones with the movement. “I know we were trying to avoid this, but…well, it doesn’t seem like we can anymore. I’m sorry, Al. I didn’t want to spring it on you. My dad just told us a few minutes ago.”
Albus brushed his dark hair away from his face and squeezed his eyes shut, his mouth pulling into an awkward smile. “And you’re sure I can’t just pretend to be ill?”
Scorpius rolled his eyes. “No, Al, you can’t just pretend to be ill,” he said flatly. Albus was always the one with a flair for dramatics.
Albus sighed and nodded. “I knew you’d say that.”
“It’ll just be a couple of hours, and then we’re free,” Scorpius said. “And I’ll go with you to the Quidditch supply store like you’ve been wanting, and I won’t even complain while you look at boring sports stuff.”
Albus smiled. Scorpius was the scholar of the two of them, best grades in Ravenclaw house while they were at Hogwarts and totally inept when it came to Quidditch and athletics in general. Albus had been captain of the Ravenclaw Quidditch team for four seasons and now played Beater for the Tutshill Tornados. He always had to prod and beg Scorpius to come with him to buy Quidditch supplies. If Scorpius was offering, that meant that this tea was important to him.
Albus took a deep breath. “Okay,” he finally said.
“Okay?” Scorpius asked, his blue eyes lighting up.
“I’ll be there,” Albus said. He smiled because Scorpius was smiling and waved goodbye as his boyfriend ended the Floo call. Now he just had to figure out what was appropriate to wear to meet the conservative grandparents of his boyfriend of four years.
Scorpius didn’t know how they had avoided this moment for so long. He and Albus had been together for years; they had gone to countless events together; almost all of their family and friends knew about their relationship and their plans for the future—Scorpius would be moving into Albus’s flat in the coming months—so how, how had they never told Lucius and Narcissa?
Because you were scared to, a tiny voice said in Scorpius’s ear as he rifled through his wardrobe, trying to find the pale blue robes Albus’s sister Lily had given him for his birthday the year before.
“Oh shut up,” he muttered to himself.
“Scorpius?” A knock at his bedroom door distracted him from his search.
“Come in!” he called.
His mother let herself into the room. Astoria’s brown hair was cropped short, and she had styled it into a smooth coif for today. Her blue eyes, a few shades darker than Scorpius’s, surveyed him closely.
Scorpius knew that he didn’t look calm. He knew Malfoys were supposed to look calm, but he knew his blond hair was standing on end and his robes from the morning had the sleeves shoved up to his elbows. He tried to smile, but knew it looked painfully unnatural.
“Come sit, dear one,” Astoria said, taking a seat on the foot of Scorpius’s bed and patting the blue comforter beside her. Her small smile was genuine, and it calmed Scorpius as he sighed and did as he was told. Astoria was quiet for several minutes as she sat beside her son and looked around the room. It was neat, in a cluttered sort of way. Stacks of books stood in piles in front of packed bookcases; papers and quills were piled on the desktop; but the floor, at least, was clean. Scorpius had lived at home since he had finished Hogwarts, working at a Muggle publishing agency, then a magical bookshop, then a magical agency for the underprivileged. He would finally leave his parents’ home in just a few weeks to go live with Albus and be closer to his current job in a magical teaching center for young children.
“I’ll miss you when you go,” Astoria said after several long minutes of silence, letting her eyes drift to her son.
Scorpius smiled. “You know I’ll visit, Mama,” he said. “And you can come see me and Albus whenever you’d like.”
Astoria smiled at him. “I know how important Albus is to you,” she said. It wasn’t a question, but Scorpius nodded all the same. “You don’t need to worry about what your grandparents will say,” she said. “If you love him, and your father and I know that you do, then your grandparents’ opinions will be nothing more than that—opinions.”
“I don’t want them to hate him,” Scorpius said quietly, taking a deep breath that filled his nose with his mother’s flowery perfume. Sometimes he was too much like his father, struggling to say when he was scared or needed help, but right now, he knew his mother’s advice would calm him.
“I can’t say that they’ll love Al like we do,” Astoria said honestly. “I can’t even say for sure if they’ll like him. Your father’s parents are…difficult; you know that. But they do love you. You’re their only grandson. I think even surly old Lucius will recognize that he doesn’t want to lose you.”
Scorpius smiled. In that, his mother had a point. Lucius and Narcissa had always doted on him.
“I think you should wear the blue robes that Lily bought you,” Astoria said as she stood to leave. “And breathe, Scorpius. You can do this.”
The door closed behind her, and Scorpius smiled. With a little more confidence, he found the robes he had planned to wear and changed into them. He was a Malfoy. He could do this.
Albus arrived before Lucius and Narcissa, and Draco met him at the door.
“Good to see you,” Draco said, extending a hand which Albus shook. It was their habit—meet at the door, exchange pleasantries, let Scorpius and Astoria do the rest of the talking. Albus had once asked his father, Harry, if Albus’s attitude resembled Draco Malfoy’s. Harry had grinned and shrugged, but Albus had taken that as a “yes.” He and Draco were both stoic when it came to small talk, but they got excited over their hobbies. The only real conversations they had ever had had been about Quidditch.
Draco stepped aside and let Albus enter the foyer. If he noticed that his son’s boyfriend was nervous, he didn’t say anything. Instead, he turned back to the sitting room and walked away, leaving Albus standing on the highly-polished white tiles under the vaulted ceiling of the Malfoys’ spacious home.
“I heard the bell, but Dad could have at least told me you were here,” an echoey voice said from somewhere above Albus.
Al looked up and smiled. Scorpius stood on a small balcony overlooking the entrance hall. He was magnificent in pale blue summer robes, his blond hair combed just-so. He grinned at Albus and left the balcony, making his way to a staircase which let out down a nearby hallway. Albus’s grey robes billowing around him, he walked down the hall to meet Scorpius and smiled when his boyfriend reached him.
“Are you ready for this?” Albus asked, trying to play it cool. He had to look up slightly into Scorpius’s blue eyes, and he worried that his own brown ones were showing his nerves.
Scorpius smiled again and leaned down to peck Al on the lips. “It’s going to be fine,” he said, but Albus knew him well enough to hear that Scorpius was trying to convince himself of his words just as much as he was trying to convince Albus. “Let’s go find my mother.”
Albus let him change the subject and, out of habit, reached for his hand as they walked towards the kitchen. Scorpius’s smooth palm pressed against Albus’s callused one, and there was no hiding the clamminess on both of them. They two young men glanced at each other and smiled. At least they were in this together.
“Mama?” Scorpius called as they entered the large kitchen.
Astoria was a proper pureblood lady in many ways, but she was also (as Grandpa Lucius would say) a “progressive.” She held equal ground with her husband and didn’t commit to pureblood ideals like the concepts of blood purity and house elf enslavement. Therefore, she did all the cooking and cleaning herself—with help from her grumbling husband and deferential son. Scorpius had grown up knowing better than to complain about chores, so when he and Albus walked into the kitchen and a tea kettle soared past his face, Scorpius knew he was about to have tasks to complete.
“Wave your wand over the oven, there’s a good lad,” Astoria said from behind a mountain of baking ingredients.
Scorpius dropped Albus’s hand and went to monitor the biscuits in the large appliance against the east wall. Albus pulled his own wand out and waved it towards the ingredients that Astoria was finished with. They danced through the air to return to their cupboards, and a rag printed with twirling fairies followed in their wake, wiping the countertops clean once more.
“Thank you, boys,” Astoria said as she tapped the still-floating tea kettle with her wand. It settled onto the stovetop and whistled quietly as Scorpius took the biscuits out of the oven.
“They’ll be here any minute,” he said, his pale face stark white.
“Shush,” Astoria told her son. “We’ll take this one minute at a time, and it will be over before you know it. You have nothing to worry about.”
Albus smiled at his boyfriend’s mother. He didn’t know if Astoria believed her own words, but he had to appreciate the effort she was making to calm Scorpius down. It might not be working, but at least she tried.
As if on cue, a loud bell tolled throughout the house: Lucius and Narcissa had arrived.
The elder Malfoys said very little as they made their way to the terrace for tea. Draco engaged his father in a discussion of the latest Ministry bills, and Narcissa quietly observed Albus following in Scorpius’s wake towards the French doors which led outside.
On the terrace, Astoria had arranged six chairs around a large, circular glass table. She waved her wand as they stepped outside, and the branches of the tallest tree in the yard bent slightly to shade them from the sun. Narcissa nodded approvingly.
Lucius pulled out his wife’s chair, but Astoria sat herself as the companies took their seats in silence. As Draco and Lucius continued their conversation from the foyer, Astoria waved her wand again, and the biscuits and tea she had prepared soared through a nearby door that opened onto the kitchen. Everything arranged itself nicely on the table, and with a pretentious inclination of his head, Lucius indicated that they should begin.
Albus sat to Scorpius’s right and Draco’s left, and he was certain that they could both hear his heart beating. He allowed the kettle to pour tea into his cup, and moved his trembling hands off the table so that the biscuits could settle themselves onto his small, white china plate. As Draco and Lucius’s conversation drifted to an end, an awkward silence fell over the table. Finally, Narcissa broke it:
“Are you going to introduce us to your friend, Scorpius?” she asked. “It’s rude not to at least give us his name.”
This is it, Albus thought.
Having no idea what Scorpius would say, he just smiled awkwardly and looked to his left at his boyfriend. Scorpius grinned at the gathered group.
“Mother and Father already know him, but this is Albus Potter,” he said. Albus was proud to hear that Scorpius’s voice didn’t shake. “Al, these are my grandparents, Lucius and Narcissa.”
Albus didn’t miss the sneer that crossed Lucius’s weathered face. His white eyebrows pulled together in disgust, and he leaned back slightly. “Potter?” he asked coldly. “Surely not.”
“Harry Potter’s son,” Scorpius clarified, “yes. And my boyfriend of four years.” He reached over and slipped his fingers into Albus’s hand, holding it tightly and maintaining a wide smile which Albus was almost sure was hurting Scorpius’s cheeks.
Albus thought it might have been possible, had they been inside, to hear a bowtruckle scamper across the ground. The silence that fell over the table was palpable. In one of the apple trees, a sparrow chirped a song totally inappropriate for the tense moment.
“Yes, we would have told you sooner,” Astoria said lightly, “but there never seemed to be a good time. Albus has been a wonderful addition to Scorpius’s life. They’re moving in together this summer, in fact.”
Scorpius flinched at his mother’s words. He knew full disclosure would probably be best now, but it was still painfully awkward to hear the explanation of his love life voiced for his pureblood elitist grandparents.
“Well,” Narcissa said, lifting her teacup in a long-nailed hand, “it’s too bad we couldn’t meet him sooner then.”
Albus actually sighed at her words and smiled broadly. “It’s truly an honor, Mrs. Malfoy,” he said. “My dad says you saved his life once.”
At that, Narcissa smiled too. “Yes,” she said airily, “I suppose I did.”
With the tension broken, the afternoon air felt lighter than ever. They smiled and laughed and talked about life and work and—to Scorpius’s disdain—Quidditch. And just like that, Albus Potter was accepted by the Malfoys.