Questions and Answers


Story Summary:
What happens when the past collides with the present and threatens to cast the Potters' and Weasleys' lives into disarray...

Chapter 71 - Unpleasant Discoveries


Scorpius pushed his plate away. 'May I go to Al's?' he asked Daphne stonily, keeping his eyes firmly fixed to the cold eggs left uneaten on the plate.

'Will either of his parents be at home?' she responded, frowning. Scorpius had been more than a bit touchy since she'd called him down for breakfast.

'Mrs. Potter is,' he replied shortly.

'Very well, but...' Whatever Daphne was going to say was lost in her son's haste to leave the table. 'Be home by dinner...' she finished.

Scorpius couldn't get away from the table fast enough. He stopped in the foyer and grabbed his coat from a cupboard and darted into the sitting room, pausing long enough to grab a handful of Floo powder and throw it into the fireplace. He arrived in Godric's Hollow, tumbling out of the fireplace. Al lounged on the sofa, with the morning paper, poring over the Quidditch scores, still in his pajamas. 'You're a bit early,' Al observed. 'Didn't expect you until after lunch...' He trailed off, as Scorpius threw a glare at him, then began to pace the length of the sitting room, his head shaking every few paces. Al watched him for several minutes, brows rising the longer the other boy paced, his fair skin darkening ominously. 'What's your damage, Heather?' he asked lightly.

Scorpius stopped and stared at Al. 'They were... they were snogging!' he ground out between clenched teeth.

'Who?' Al asked, perplexed.

'My parents.'

Al shrugged thoughtlessly. 'So? My parents snog all the time...'

Scorpius whirled around. 'My parents don't even sleep in the same bedroom!' he shouted. 'They hardly bother to pretend the other exists and all of a sudden, they're in the kitchen before breakfast, snogging like Maddie and that Ravenclaw prefect she's so thick with!'


'Exactly!' Scorpius flopped to the sofa next to Al, his arms folded tightly over his chest. 'Why would she do that?'

'Who...? Maddie or your mum?'

'My mother,' Scorpius said, glowering.

'Maybe she likes it?' Al suggested.

'Please...' Scorpius muttered dismissively. 'She's probably been charmed or hexed or something. Or he's been slipping something into her morning tea...'

'You think he's that underhanded?'

Scorpius shrugged with one shoulder. 'I wouldn't put it past him.'

'It could be genuine affection,' Al ventured. 'Maybe...'

'My parents' marriage was arranged,' Scorpius snorted. 'There is no such thing as affection in an arranged marriage.'

'Things can change.'

'Whose side are you on, Al?' Scorpius demanded.


'Brilliant. Then stop trying to make this into something nice and pleasant, which it most certainly is not.'

'Will it be so terrible if they do end up, you know, actually liking each other?' Al wondered.

Scorpius' lips pressed together into a thin line. 'Yes.' He wrapped his arms tightly around his ribs. 'What if he makes her see me the way he does?'

'What if she gets him to come round and see you the way she does?' Al shot back.

Scorpius stared into the fireplace until his eyes watered. 'I'd rather not think about it just now,' he murmured. Al bit back his retort that Scorpius was behaving like a spoiled child, and settled back into the sofa, rearranging the newspaper, so it folded back into its original lines. 'So, have your parents talked to you about playing for England?' Scorpius blurted, in an attempt to veer the conversation away from the foibles of his parents.

Al sighed softly in relief. Scorpius could be as immovable as Gibraltar, if he so chose, in regards to how he felt about people. Perhaps it was for the best to leave the topic of his parents aside for now. 'We were supposed to last night, but well...' He ran a hand through his hair. 'This long-lost cousin of Mum's shows up out of nowhere. Grew up in America,' he added with more than a bit of awe. Al peered at Scorpius. 'You know...' he said thoughtfully. 'He does sort of resemble you...' Al gestured across his face. 'Like you've got the same shape...'

'That's odd.'

Al's face cleared and he laughed. 'Ah, it's probably nothing. Dad says all the old wizarding families are all related somehow. That's probably it.'

'Probably,' Scorpius agreed. 'Wouldn't it be funny?' he mused. 'If he did end up related to me somehow, too? I'd hate to try and pick that family tree apart.'

'Hey, Scorp?'


'What if...?' Al hesitated. 'You know how I said I didn't think I was ready to play professionally?'


'What if I changed my mind?' Al said so quietly, Scorpius didn't quite catch what he'd said.

'Did you say...?'

'What if I've changed my mind?' Al repeated, just a bit louder.


Al shifted a little, picking at the burgeoning hole in the knee of his pajama bottoms. 'I mean, it's sort of wicked to think I might be that good. And it's not like I'd train with England during school, except for a few Saturdays or Sundays a month... I know Mum and Dad have to sign off on the whole thing, but maybe I could get them to agree to a trial during the summer hols... Do you think they'd go for that?' he asked eagerly. Almost too eagerly.

Scorpius burrowed deeper into the sofa, picking up a small throw pillow. 'I dunno,' he said. 'I wouldn't do it, but that's just me, isn't it?' He gave Al a sidelong glance. 'But I'm not some sort of Quidditch superstar, so maybe I'm not the one you ought to ask,' he said soberly.

'I know they're going to say no...' Al sighed.

'Probably.' Scorpius chewed the inside of his cheek for a moment. 'Look, Al, what I know about Quidditch fits on the tip of a quill, but even I know that Seekers win or lose games. There are exceptions, I know,' he said, holding up a hand to forestall Al's protests. 'Even I unbent enough to read Krum's book. But how often does that happen? Once in a lifetime or so? And playing professionally's much different from playing at school, or with us. You miss a Snitch with us, who cares? You miss a Snitch with England? You'll get all sorts of nasty mail, at the very least. And you remember how people at school stared at you when we got Sorted? Or how everybody followed Krum around when he came to do that bit with your Quidditch class? Do you really think you're ready for that?'

'I don't know. What if I am? What am I supposed to do, then? Wait until I'm seventeen? That's years before the next World Cup!' Al protested.

'Maybe... Maybe if you agree to wait a year? Then prove that you can handle it?'


'Honestly? I haven't the slightest idea,' Scorpius admitted, his brow furrowed a little. 'Al? Who in the name of Merlin is Heather? And why did you call me that?'


Lavinia approached the older man sitting at the miniscule table at the tiny café. 'Excusez-moi?' she asked, wincing at her rusty French.


'I'm looking for the Maison d'Heron,' she continued in French, grimacing a little at how much her once-flawless command of the language had deteriorated.

'Eets down by zhe edge of zhe cleef,' he told her, in heavily-accented English. 'Eet haz a bleu door. Et many fleurs enn zhe front.'

'Merci beaucoup.' Lavinia set off down the cobbled street, her hands icy cold. She was quite uncertain of the reception she'd receive from Narcissa, especially after she'd asked Harry to all but lie to Narcissa and say she couldn't be found. She hoped Narcissa wouldn't be too put out with him - it wasn't Harry's fault Lavinia had wanted to keep her whereabouts secret. He'd only done what she'd begged him to do. If he had, in fact, told Narcissa he hadn't managed to find her.

Lavinia shook herself slightly. Stop thinking! She ordered herself sternly. What's the worst Narcissa could do to me? She can't possibly top what Lucius managed to do. A riot of flowers spilled over a neatly painted white fence and she saw Narcissa kneeling amongst them, up to her elbows in soil. She wore a wide-brimmed straw hat against the sun. It made Lavinia smile in remembrance, because it always seemed as if Narcissa's skin burned in mere minutes if she wasn't slathered in sun block and wearing a hat such as the one she wore now. Even more shocking, than the sight of Narcissa actually getting dirt under her fingernails, was what she wore. A pair of dark trousers and a jumper suited to the rigors of the garden, enveloped Narcissa's frame. She even wore a battered pair of plimsolls. As if in a trance, Lavinia tiptoed to the tiny gate and pushed it open. It creaked softly.

Narcissa glanced up irritably toward the gate. Bloody Americans, she thought, recognizing what seemed to be the classic American tourist uniform of jeans and trainers. At least she's wearing a nice jumper and not some extraordinary eyesore of a sweatshirt... Many people mistook her front garden for some sort of public square, but only the Americans were brazen enough to walk through the gate and poke through the haphazard array of flowers and herbs that she grew. 'Excuse me!' she called. 'This is private property.'

'You don't remember me, do you?' Lavinia asked, feeling somewhat amused by the complete ridiculousness of the situation.


'You ought to.' Lavinia could almost physically feel her speech patterns revert to the formal syntax of her childhood. After forty years of living in America and hearing the plummy tones of her voice modulate into something less posh, the sensation was rather jarring. Even when Harry had been in San Francisco, she hadn't quite reverted to the admittedly snooty way of speaking she'd been taught as a girl. 'I understand you managed to expend a great deal of effort and time into searching for me. Well, you had someone else expend a great deal of time and effort,' she amended.

Narcissa surged to her feet. 'I don't know who you are, but...' Her voice died as she swept the hat from her head and stared at the woman standing just inside the gate. The lines that webbed the corners of her eyes and bracketed her mouth shifted and blurred until the image of a woman decades younger superimposed over her face. 'This must be a joke,' she muttered. 'It's not very funny, and I find it to be quite sickening.'

'I rather suppose I deserve that,' Lavinia murmured. She looked around the meandering flowerbeds. 'It's not a joke, and I guess it's not very funny.' She searched her memory for something only she and Narcissa would know. 'You spent your wedding night with me, in my bedroom, working our way through the leftover hors d'oeuvres.' Narcissa's eyes narrowed suspiciously. 'Because Lucius overindulged in drink at the reception, and when he joined you in the master suite, he rather unceremoniously pushed you out of the bed just prior to passing out.'

Narcissa's knees gave out and she crumpled to the edge of a stone bench on the edge of the garden path. 'Nobody knows that,' she whispered, her breathing shallow and harsh.

'Nobody but me. And you.' Lavinia joined Narcissa on the bench.

Narcissa gently touched the back of Lavinia's hand. 'You're real...' Lavinia nodded. Narcissa ran a shaking hand through her hair. 'Might I ask you something?'

'Of course.'

'Where have you been?' Narcissa asked, her voice cracking with strain. 'And how did you know where to find me?'

'It's quite a long story,' Lavinia began. 'Do you think we might go inside?'

'Yes, how thoughtless of me...' Automatically, Narcissa stood and brushed her hands over the knees of her trousers, and led Lavinia into the villa.


'I hope you're not terribly upset with Harry Potter,' Lavinia said quietly, her hands wrapped around a cup of tea, inhaling the fragrant steam.

'I knew he was lying when he said he hadn't found you,' Narcissa said pointedly, waving her wand at a pear. It sliced itself into quarters. 'The boy's too honorable for his own good,' she snorted. 'And while he might be able to lie to most people...'

'One cannot lie to a Black and believe it will pass unnoticed,' Lavinia finished, chuckling a little. 'He's rather earnest, isn't he?' She traced the grain of the scuffed kitchen table with a fingernail. 'I never intended to come back to England or France... Or Europe for that matter. And not because Lucius threatened me. I was, in fact, done with any and everything about England and Europe.' She leaned back in the chair. 'That Potter boy is quite manipulative, you know.'

'He hides it well under that innocent schoolboy expression.'

'Yes... He left a stack of photographs to persuade me my son ought to know the rest of his family. And Ben found them, and when he said he wanted to visit England, I thought I should at least make sure he managed to find Devon.'

'You wanted to be caught,' Narcissa murmured.

'I did not,' protested Lavinia.

'Where did... Benjamin, is it?... Where did he find the photographs?'

'They were on the kitchen table of my flat.'

'See? You took the easy way out. You made it to where he had to confront you. You didn't have to tell him directly.' Narcissa nibbled a section from the pear she'd sliced earlier.

'Why did you look for me now?' Lavinia asked bluntly. 'Forty years is a long time.'

'I thought you were dead,' Narcissa said, looking down at the table. She blinked and tears began to slip down her cheeks. 'He brought the pieces of your wand to me. I hid them inside a book that very day. We never talked about you. It was as if you had never existed.' Mortified, she Summoned a tea towel and covered her face with it. 'Then, I kept seeing you,' she told Lavinia, her voice muffled by the towel. 'Or what I thought was you. I saw you everywhere. I had to try...' She rubbed the towel over her cheeks. 'So when Harry told me he could trace you only as far as Italy, I was more grateful than I let on. You had managed to leave England alive. It was something,' Narcissa sniffled.


'Al?' Ginny poked her head into Al's bedroom. 'Could you come downstairs, please? Your dad and I need to have a quick word...'

Al felt his pulse begin to race. 'Yeah, sure, Mum,' he said easily, scrambling off his bed and padding after Ginny. He followed her into the office and Ginny closed the door behind them. Harry gestured to the vacant armchair, looking slightly worried. Al perched on the edge of the seat cushion, leaning forward in anticipation.

Ginny joined Harry, sitting on the arm of the chair he occupied. He reached up and gripped her hand, his fingers icy. He glanced up at her, a line appearing between his brows. Neither of them missed the light on their younger son's face. Harry held up the dark blue envelope. 'It seems that the English team wants to sign you to practice with them this summer.'

'Really?' Al tried to sound surprised, but he failed miserably.

'Did they write to you already?' Ginny asked gently.

Al's mouth opened. 'Erm... no...' he admitted. 'They had Izzy evaluate my scouting report. She told me. It was part of her job interview. She said they'd removed the page with my name and all that, so she didn't really know at first.'

'What did she tell them?' Harry asked.

'That I wasn't ready, and I was too young,' Al recited tonelessly.

'And what do you think?' Harry continued.

'I thought she was right when she told me,' Al said.

'And now?' Ginny asked, in what she hoped was an encouraging tone.

'I think I'd like to try it,' Al said recklessly.

Harry's throat tightened. 'Absolutely not.'

'But, Dad!' Al protested. 'I want to do this!'

'You're not even fourteen yet,' Harry retorted. He brandished the envelope. 'Do you know what they want, Albus? They want to make you - all thirteen years of you - into the English Seeker. Not the reserve, not even the practice squad. They want you to be part of the team, before you're even able to do magic outside of school!' His voice rose and echoed around the small room. He lunged out of the chair and stood in front of the fireplace. 'You can't do this without our permission.'

Al's round eyes flew toward Ginny. She bit her lip at his painfully hopeful expression. 'Not right now,' she told him. 'You need to focus on school. And you are only thirteen years old.'

'It's not fair!' Al hissed. 'What about all those things you did when you were thirteen?' he said to Harry accusingly. 'And before you were my age!'

'That's different,' Harry snapped. 'I did it because I had to. I didn't have a choice.'

'But I do!' Al shouted. 'And what if I want to choose this?'

'The answer is still no,' Harry said stiffly. 'I want you to have a normal life.'

'What if this is my normal?' Al pleaded.

'Al, please...' Ginny laid a placating hand on her son's arm. 'We just want what's best for you.'

'Yeah, by making my decisions,' Al scoffed.

'The discussion's over,' Harry cut in. 'You're not doing it.'

Al flung himself from the chair. 'Fine,' he muttered darkly, stomping from the room, slamming the door behind him.

Harry let the letter from the English team drop from his fingertips and fall into the flames of the fireplace, where he watched the edges curl and blacken before it burst into flames. It flared for a moment, brighter than the heart of the fire, before it faded and dissolved into ash. 'Did we do the right thing?' he whispered.

'It's not the same game he's used to at school,' Ginny said quietly. 'He might think he's ready, but mentally, physically, he's not.' Ginny slid into the seat of the chair, and slumped against the cushions. 'I've been involved in Quidditch a long time, love. And I've seen what happens when there's some young kid who plays really well - almost supernaturally well - and all sorts of expectations are placed on them, and they nearly drown under them.' She rubbed her face with her hands. 'It even happens with the Muggles,' she sighed. 'He'll get over it. And in a couple of years, if England still wants him, then we can talk again... It won't kill him to wait. He'll be all right.'

'Are you sure?' Harry asked hoarsely, meeting Ginny's eyes for the first time since Al stormed out. It was one of the few times in their marriage he didn't see reassurance in them.


'Hugo, come on! I'm going to be late!' Ron roared.

Hugo strolled into the sitting room, pulling his coat over his arms. 'Keep your hair on, Dad,' he said mildly, dipping a hand into the urn on the mantle and tossing the Floo powder into the fireplace. He smiled sweetly at Ron before stepping into the emerald flames, leaving Ron to gape after him, dumbfounded.

Ron shook himself a little, then followed Hugo through the Floo to the shop. Hugo was already busily rearranging the products by the till. 'Can I ask you something?' Ron began, as he pulled on his magenta robes.

'You really ought to get a different color,' Hugo observed. 'The magenta clashes horribly with your hair. Uncle George's too.'

'I think that was the point when he and your uncle Fred picked out this color,' Ron chuckled. 'It's mostly about what you were reading after Jane's funeral,' he said lightly. 'I mean, your mother and I aren't particularly religious, but if it's something you find that you like, it's all right, I suppose...' Ron stammered.

'When was the last time you dusted down here?' Hugo wondered, flicking a feather duster over the bottoms shelves.


Hugo turned to his father. 'It's just the one bit. I've heard Aunt Ginny say it, or something like it a few times. I like it. It's all very cyclical. Balanced. That everything has to have its opposite in order to survive.' He shrugged and resumed his meticulous dusting of the shelves.

Ron stared at his son's curly head, speechless. If Hugo didn't have his nose, Ron might have wondered whose son he really was. Neither he, nor Hermione were nearly as serene as Hugo seemed to be. Things didn't seem to ruffle Hugo; he merely processed it, and got on with his life. Still waters, Ron mused. It wasn't that Hugo didn't feel things. On the contrary, Ron could see that he had felt his grandmother's death keenly, but Hugo wasn't controlled by his emotions. His mind went to the Deluminator, tucked into a corner of his sock drawer. Somehow, Ron knew Hugo would never need it.


Benjamin's eyes flew open. The room was dark, except for a small lamp burning on the bureau. He reached for his watch, and tilted it toward the light. It was only three in the morning, but in San Francisco, it was seven the previous evening. He swung his fee to the floor and dug his mobile from the battered knapsack that sat in the chair in the corner. He crept from the room, and stole down the stairs, slipping out of the back door. He grabbed one of the old day loungers that leaned against the wall of the ramshackle broom shed and carried it just past the fence that ringed the back garden. Once outside the perimeter of the Burrow, he dialed the number of April's mobile. 'Hi, Dad!'

Benjamin smiled. 'Hi, Marissa.'

'How's England?'

'It's fine. They have weird names for things, though,' he told her.

'Do they talk like Grannie?'

'Yes, they do,' Benjamin chuckled. 'Is your mom around?'


'Can I talk to her?'

'She's fussing at Leo,' Marissa said.

'What did he do?'

'Failed a math test. He told Mom that he didn't see the point of trying, especially when he's going to Salem in August,' Marissa informed her father, matter-of-factly. 'And he skipped his tutoring session after school. Mom threatened to show up at the school, and take him by the hand and march him to the math tutorial. She even threatened to show up in her ratty bathrobe and slippers.'

'Going for humiliation, huh?'


'Listen, Marissa, can you tell...'

'Here she is!' Marissa chirped. 'It's Dad.'

'What time is it over there?' April asked.

'Little after three in the morning.' Benjamin leaned back and stretched his feet out. 'Couldn't sleep. Still sort of on California time.'

'So, did you meet your dad's family?'


April shooed Marissa to her room and retreated into the kitchen. 'What is it?'

'What makes you think something's wrong?'

'You don't sound thrilled to be there.'

'I had lunch with them on yesterday,' Benjamin said softly. 'Do you know how many people were here?'

'Wait, where are you?'

'At Molly and Arthur's house. I had a room at a pub in London, but Arthur said I could stay with them.' Benjamin's mouth twisted a little. 'There's a photo of Dad outside my room. It's Dad with all of Molly and Arthur's kids and his twin. Molly says it was taken just after Ginny was born.' He rubbed his forehead with his free hand. 'There were...' Benjamin began to count. 'Sixteen adults, eighteen grandchildren, well, nineteen if you count a godson who's marrying one of the granddaughters. And they do this every Sunday. Every. Sunday. Well, the grandchildren who are in school come when they're on a school vacation. But the rest - every week.'

'Sonia's family does that on Saturday for dinner,' April reminded him.

'Yeah, but at least Dalia assumes you know when you're full and doesn't keep putting food on your plate,' Benjamin objected. 'Molly? I had to foist my third helping to one of the kids.'

'You sound disillusioned,' April said.

'No, I'm not...' Benjamin sighed. 'It's just a lot to deal with. And I don't think Molly knows what to make of me. Everyone else seems to be all right with me and who I am, she seems to have accepted that my dad was her brother, but there's something else...'

'Like...?' April prompted.

'I don't know,' Benjamin confessed. 'Everybody else has been just fantastic. Especially Arthur. But Molly... She's a little... Standoffish, I guess. Like she doesn't really want to get to know me.'

'Ben, honey?'


'Did your mom ever tell you why she didn't go to Molly and Arthur for help when your dad was killed?'


'Is Livvy with you?'

Ben shook his head. 'No. She's gone to France.'


'She wouldn't say. Just said she didn't want to stay in England, and she had something to do in France, and she'd meet me in London on Friday.'

April heaved a sigh. 'Just give Molly some time, okay? This isn't very easy for her, either. And if she won't tell you what's bothering her, maybe your mom can. She's not like that with the rest of her family, is she?'

'Not at all,' Benjamin exclaimed. 'That's why it's kind of like a disappointment...'

'Ah.' April propped her feet into one of the other chairs at the kitchen table. 'Call me tomorrow... Uh, your tomorrow... And let me know how it goes. Okay?'


'Go get some sleep.' April paused. 'Love you...'

'I love you, too...' Benjamin disconnected the call and stared up at the starry sky