The lights in Greenhouse Five at this hour of evening were enough out of place to give Neville Longbottom pause, trying to remember which of his students he'd given permission to work late. Unable to recall giving such permission, he sighed, stepped back into his shoes, and strode back out into the brisk October air.
As he came closer to the greenhouse, he could clearly hear raucous laughter. Probably not two sweethearts looking for a likely place for a tryst, then—and if they had been, Greenhouse Five was not the place for it, he smirked. Brush up against the wrong plant there and you'd have hives for weeks, despite the best efforts of Madam Pomfrey. It wasn't until he had his hand on the doorknob that he heard the whimpering underneath the laughter, and all hint of a smile dropped from his face as he drew his wand and pushed the door open.
The scene froze as though to give Neville plenty of time to take it in. Three fifth year boys stared at him with wide eyes, the bluish lights of the greenhouse bleeding color from their scarves so the green and silver looked black and gray. They were all pointing wands at a cowering first year with shockingly blond hair who was in a state of inexplicable undress, trying to pull tatters of his robes around him to put some sort of barrier between him and the icenettle he had clearly been knocked and held against. His lips were turning blue against the cold; Neville could only hazard a guess, but he put the boy's exposure to the icenettle at around five minutes, possibly more. Fury stoked within his chest as he glared at the older boys. How dare they use his greenhouse and his plants to torment first years.
The shortest of the older boys swore and tried to duck under one of his comrade's arms, supposedly to make a run for it. Wishing dearly that he was allowed to use magic against students—at least these students—he jabbed his wand at what for all the world seemed to be a lattice of unassuming ivy, save for that it was kept in Greenhouse Five. With a squeal, the ivy shot out black tendrils and caught the escaping boy around the ankles, knocking his feet from under him and landing him on the ground with a gasp and a thud. His wand bounced uselessly under a potting bench.
"Anyone else want to try and run?" Neville asked in a low, even voice. The other two Slytherin boys shook their heads. "Wands. Now." Neville held out a hand and the two boys sullenly placed their wands into his hand; he pocketed them. "And Mr. Bale, I'd advise you against struggling. Gladys doesn't much like having her thorns stripped." The boy on the ground stopped scrabbling against the vines wrapping tightly around his ankles and winding their way up his legs to his knees, though he watched the plant's progress with progressively widening eyes.
Keeping one eye on the older boys, Neville pulled on a dragon-hide glove and pulled the first year from the icenettle bed. "Do you know where my office is?" he asked softly. The boy nodded, shivering uncontrollably. "Here. Take my cloak. I will meet you there." He removed his cloak from his shoulders and settled it around the boy's; the last foot or so trailed on the ground as the boy turned and fled. That taken care of, Neville turned a steely gaze to the three fifth years.
"Your behavior is deplorable and inexcusable," he said sharply. "You are out of bounds after hours, and you've done irreparable damage to a very rare herb—which, it may interest you to know, was to be part of your O.W.L. studies this term and likely on the O.W.L. exams themselves. To say nothing of your abhorrent treatment of a fellow student. I don't particularly care to hear you explain yourselves. I will be informing your Head of House and the Headmistress and you can make excuses to them. Twenty points from Slytherin, each of you, and count yourself lucky that I'm not setting you detentions on top of it." He wordlessly summoned Bale's wand from beneath the potting bench; the three boys, who had not yet even begun to study nonverbal magic, goggled just slightly. "You can retrieve these from Professor Thatcher tomorrow morning. I think you've done enough with them tonight." A negligent flick of his wand and the ivy released the boy on the ground, who scrambled to his feet. "You are dismissed. Straight to your dormitories. If you're not out of my sight by my count of ten you'll see what I look like when I'm truly vexed."
The three Slytherin boys filed out of the greenhouse, and were Neville not barely in control of his rage, he may have felt a small twinge of amusement as they quickened their steps, casting glances over their shoulders at him to see if he was still watching. The last boy's robe finally swished out of view around a corner and Neville unclenched his jaw and turned to stride purposefully back to his office.
He paused, taking a deep breath to calm himself. Anger wasn't going to help him here; this was going to require some rather delicate conversation if he didn't intend to make the situation worse. He'd need his wits about him, not his sharp tongue or keen desire for vengeance.
The boy was pale and shivering, standing in the middle of the office with Neville's cloak wrapped tightly about him. It was not cold in the office, but the boy's breath still made little puffs in front of his lips as he gasped in what felt to him like Arctic temperatures.
"Heavens, Malfoy, take a seat. By the stove, yes, that's a good lad. Some heartroot tea, that'll do you, let me just brew some up...best when it's hot anyway, you know, but even better for the chills from an icenettle..."
He kept up the patter as he brewed the tea, as though he were attempting to train a flitterbloom to become accustomed to his presence. It had a similar effect on Scorpius Malfoy; presently his posture became less stiff and frightened and he slouched just slightly more in the chair, leaning over to warm his hands at the potbellied stove in the corner.
The first sip of the tea that Neville gave him returned a flush of pink to his cheeks and lips, and he stopped shivering almost immediately. Neville watched the boy carefully as he sipped his own tea—not heartroot, it was far too warm in his office for that—and when he began to fidget in the silence, Neville set his teacup down.
"I'm not interested in why you were in my greenhouses at this hour," he said, and Scorpius jumped at his voice. Flighty boy, he was; he acted much the same in class. Was he this way at home, too? "Nor, as a member of the faculty, am I interested in hearing you tell tales on your fellow Slytherins. The proper thing for me to do would be to ensure you have recovered from your bout with my icenettle and send you off to the hospital wing. By all accounts, I should be sending you off now." Scorpius was studying his bare feet; Neville tamped down a whirl of anger. They'd taken his shoes? To what purpose? What would that prove? "However." Neville paused until Scorpius looked up in trepidation. "As a human being, I cannot just ignore what I saw tonight. It was cruel, it was despicable, and it was wrong. You know that as well as I, I hope."
Scorpius licked his lips, but didn't say anything. A tiny spark of dread lit in Neville's chest.
"You do know that, yes? That what they were doing was wrong? Not just against school rules, but wrong on a fundamental level?"
"They said I don't belong in Slytherin," the boy said in a very small voice. "That...that I'd tricked the Sorting Hat, or bribed it, and that...they were going to weed me out, leave me with the other weeds…"
"Weeds?" Neville said, trying to keep his voice mild. "There's never been a weed in my greenhouses, human nor plant. Clearly they need additional work in classification, if they could mistake you or my charges as such. As for not belonging in Slytherin, well. The Sorting Hat has never been wrong yet, even when it seemed it had made a blatantly obvious mistake." He leaned forward slightly with a small conspiratorial smile. "Trust me, I've reason to know."
Scorpius did not return the smile. "But what if...what if it only put me in Slytherin 'cause of my dad? 'Cause every Malfoy's been in Slytherin?"
"Funny, last I checked, your name was Scorpius, not Draco. That would suggest to me that you are not your father." Neville leaned back in his chair. "The Sorting Hat judges you on yourself, not whose blood you have. If you're in Slytherin—or Ravenclaw, or Gryffindor, or Hufflepuff—then you've earned the right to use that name next to yours. No one else can earn that for you."
"The Potters are in Gryffindor," Scorpius muttered. "Both of them."
"Yes, and Miss Weasley is in Ravenclaw. I will say it again, Scorpius: blood has nothing to do with Houses. You are who you are, not who your father was."
"I wish I was!" Scorpius blurted suddenly. Neville arched a questioning eyebrow. "I wish I was my father! He'd never let those berks grab him out of bed, he'd never be sniveling in some teacher's office..."
Neville bit back some rather choice words about why Draco would never have been in this situation. Insulting Scorpius's father would do very little good here. "I didn't notice you sniveling," he said instead, "but you're right in one aspect. Your father was...quite assured of his self-worth." Neville suppressed a sigh. "It's a trait I tend to see among most Slytherins, among many older students, actually, and they tend to try and punish those who lack it. What you've got to remember is, they're trying to punish you to make themselves feel bigger. But you don't need to make others feel small to know what you're worth. You've just got to remember, when they try to get you riled up, try to get you on the defensive..." He nearly laughed at himself then; he could not believe he was going to say these words to this particular boy. "You're worth twelve of any one of them."
"Yeah, right," Scorpius said, with a grimace. "I'm an effing coward, that's what I am. How else did...that...happen tonight?"
"A coward?" Neville asked. "Who had to have two other fifth years next to him to take on one wandless first year? If you're a coward, don't you think that was a bit of overkill?"
"But I didn't do anything. I couldn't do anything."
"Quite right. You were in over your head, and so you did the only thing you could do: bear what you could."
"Until a teacher came to rescue me," Scorpius spat.
"Accepting help when your back is against the wall doesn't make you a coward. It makes you prudent. It makes you well versed in the art of self-preservation. If I'm not mistaken, those are two qualities very much in evidence on the list one could attribute to a Slytherin." He snorted. "Gryffindor certainly isn't that big on the self-preservation one, I can tell you that." That won a very small, fleeting smile that ghosted across Scorpius's face briefly. "Will you accept, for the time being, that perhaps the Sorting Hat knew what it was doing when it placed you in Slytherin?"
Scorpius nodded uncertainly.
"Then let's move on to what we can do to prevent this happening again. I do mean it when I say you're worth twelve of any of your special friends, but I mean that metaphorically. Don't make my mistake and try to take them on. It's rather...counterproductive."
"Your mistake?" Scorpius asked, wrinkling his brow. Neville offered a small, twisted smile.
"Your dad ever mention me at home?"
Scorpius nodded hesitantly. "Not in a...flattering way."
"I don't doubt it," Neville said wryly. "We got on slightly less as well as a house on fire. Let me try to guess at the words he used...worthless, perhaps? Talentless? Oh, how about 'Potter's mewling sycophant,' I always quite liked that one." He bit his tongue before he said something to damage the rapport he'd managed to cobble together. "Suffice it to say, Scorpius, I've been where you are. And I won't tolerate anyone being kept there. Not if it's within my power to stop it."
"My dad," Scorpius said, realization dawning on his face. "He was...he was like them. He treated you like they..." The misery this revelation caused the boy was plain; he looked physically ill and pulled Neville's cloak more tightly about himself.
"No," Neville said firmly, surprised to hear himself say it. "Draco Malfoy was an overconfident young man with little regard for those he saw to be talentless losers, which unfortunately encompassed most of the school. But not once did he physically torment someone weaker than him for the fun of it." He stopped there, astonished that what he was saying was absolutely true. Had his memories really been that colored by his own misery? True, Draco Malfoy's constant unending digs had made him wary of ever leaving Gryffindor tower, but he had at least had his dormitory to retreat to, and his house to rally around him. Well, most of his house. Some of it, anyway. Scorpius did not even have safe haven in his own dormitory, and as far as Neville could tell, had no friends either among the Slytherins or the rest of the houses. Even a good two decades after the war, the Malfoy name was still mud among most of wizarding Britain, even among those families with Darker leanings.
Alone, friendless, bearing a name that made him a pariah and with his own House turning against him. Neville hadn't thought it possible to have a worse school life than he'd had himself, but the evidence was hunched over on his chair next to the stove, wrapped in his cloak and staring with haunted eyes into the coals behind the glass door.
"You've got your back against a wall, Scorpius," he said finally, "through no doing of your own. If you'll accept my help, I'll do what I can. It's got to be done slowly—carefully—else it'll all just get worse, but I refuse to just let it this go on if I can do something about it."
"Didn't you say the proper thing to do would be to send me on my way, and ignore it all?"
"You're Head of Gryffindor House. Won't you get guff for helping some loser Slytherin?"
"Likely," Neville said affably. He raised himself from his chair, rummaged around in one of his trunks before pulling out a pair of work robes a student had left behind a few years back. They'd be large on Scorpius, but they'd get him to the Slytherin common room without occasioning much comment, unlike his cloak would. "But as Head of Gryffindor House, I find myself seized by the urge to do noble acts of selflessness on a regular basis. Ask your dad about the story of the sword and the snake sometime. That's a good example of how little self-preservation a true Gryffindor has." He handed the robes to Scorpius and politely turned his back so that he could wriggle his way into them.
"I know about the sword and the snake already," came Scorpius's muffled voice. "Why else do you think all the Slytherins are terrified of you?"
"Is that why?" Neville asked mildly. "I thought it was because my detentions are stuff of legend. If you're decent, we're going to stop at Professor Thatcher's office on the way to your common room. If we're going to start the ball rolling, it needs to start by you feeling safe in your own bed."
"Professor," Scorpius asked as Neville turned, sounding bewildered and a little timid. "Why are you doing this? My father wouldn't raise a finger to help you. He won't even raise a finger to help me."
"It's really very simple, Mr. Malfoy," Neville said as he opened his office door and gestured Scorpius through. "You're not your father."
And, he added silently as he locked the door behind him, I'm worth twelve of him anyway.
Tycho Thatcher's office was not the sort of office one would expect the Head of Slytherin House to occupy.
This was not Neville's first time inside, of course, but it did tend to startle him each time. Where the other Heads of House often had decorated with their House colors to some degree, Thatcher's office remained the same austere dark wood and bronze trim, varicolored leather-bound books lining the shelves, and tapestries depicting constellations and planetary movements that it had been when he had just been Astronomy professor. The bronze armillary sphere in the corner was quite handsome, and Neville had to admit he'd coveted it for years, despite never having had any more than a passing interest in Astronomy.
Professor Thatcher himself also seemed ill-fitted as Head of Slytherin House. Tall and gangly, his mousey hair tended toward unruliness and his square spectacles were nearly always smudged, probably due to the bushy eyebrows above them. His closely trimmed beard was beginning to show some gray. He looked much more like a kindly shopkeeper than the strict, no-nonsense professor and Head of House that he was—except for his incredibly intimidating demeanor.
Even in his dressing gown (again, not conceding to Slytherin colors but instead a deep gold), he loomed and exuded the aura of being in command. He did not sit behind his desk, instead standing behind his chair, arms resting across the top, as Scorpius sat and squirmed slightly in the chair in front of the desk. Three wands lay upon the desk, silently reflecting the lamplight.
"I did not set them detentions, though I should have," Neville said in an even tone as he slowly paced in the space behind Scorpius's chair. "I will leave that to you. However, I will not tolerate any more after-hour dalliances in my greenhouses, particularly if there's a better-than-good chance they'll end with the corpse of a first year."
Thatcher bowed his head. "Rest assured that their indiscretion will be dealt with in an appropriate manner." He looked sharply down at Scorpius. "I assume you had reason to bring Mr. Malfoy here."
Neville drew in a silent breath. This was where he would have to tread carefully. "Without my intervention, Mr. Malfoy would likely have suffered from severe frostbite, if not frozen to death, due to the actions of your upperclassmen." He looked squarely at Thatcher, who held his gaze without changing his expression. "I realize that establishing a pecking order is a rite of passage in your House, but from what I have observed, Mr. Malfoy's position in that pecking order is well established. I trust that any further attempts to remind him of his current standing will be...dissuaded."
Thatcher's eyes bored into his own; Neville tried not to blink. He could not decipher what the other professor was thinking, but he knew that his request was a severe breach of territory. Professors had always turned a blind eye to the casual hazing that occurred in Slytherin house. Even Dumbledore, a score of years ago, had pointedly ignored the various petty tortures the students inflicted upon each other, provided it did not come to permanent harm.
Thatcher finally took a breath. "I cannot guarantee that," he said levelly. "Much of it depends on Mr. Malfoy here."
A polite way of indicating that unless Scorpius's place in the hierarchy improved, his situation would not either. Neither of them would find any open assistance here.
Neville switched to plan B.
"Very well then," he said stiffly. "In that case, can we discuss Mr. Malfoy's punishment?"
Scorpius twisted in his chair to look incredulously at Neville, who did not meet the boy's eyes. Thatcher, however, arched an eyebrow in an expression that almost seemed to say, well played. "Certainly. I understand he did considerable damage to a rare plant of yours."
"It was mostly accidental, but yes. He was also in a restricted greenhouse after grounds curfew. I should say that a detention every Friday until the end of the month will do nicely."
"What?" Scorpius choked. He stared wildly at Neville with an intense expression of betrayal. Neville set his jaw.
"That seems fair," Thatcher said steadily, reaching for a folio on his desk to jot down the punishment.
"But I—" Scorpius seemed torn between complaining to Neville and staying quiet under the cold gaze of Thatcher. Neville regretted the necessity.
"I will see you at five-thirty Friday evening, Mr. Malfoy. You'll want gloves."
Scorpius's jaw was slack at the injustice of it all. Neville nodded a quick farewell to Thatcher, who nodded in return before turning to Scorpius.
"I suggest you return to your dormitory," he was saying as Neville slipped out the door. "You'll need a decent amount of rest the next two nights. Professor Longbottom's detentions tend to be exhausting."
Neville was not entirely surprised when there was a commanding knock at his office door during lunch hour the next day, nor was he surprised when the door opened without waiting for a response. He also was not surprised at the sudden plummet his stomach took when, out of the corner of his eye, he confirmed who had invaded his office.
He'd gone over this moment in his head. He hoped Draco would be gracious enough to adhere to the script, though he very likely had no idea that there was one.
"A month of detention, because of your stupid plants?" The tone of his voice was deeper, had grown slightly richer with age, but still held that curled edge of a sneer. Neville forced himself to calmly dip his quill in the ink bottle, not lifting his eyes.
"Please have a seat, Mr. Malfoy."
"Don't take that tone with me, Longbottom."
"I'll take whichever tone I choose in my own office, Mr. Malfoy," Neville said crisply, looking up with eyes that he hoped were stern. "And as we clearly are not on a first-name basis, I have grown accustomed to being addressed by my honorific, if you please."
He was satisfied to see astonishment flit briefly across Draco's face before it composed itself into something resembling civility and slowly lowered himself into the chair before Neville's desk. "My apologies... Professor." It was clear the word tasted bad, and the phrase was dripping in sarcasm, but Neville allowed himself to relax just slightly. Even though the room still boiled with animosity, he'd scored the first point by establishing that this was his office, and he was in control. For the moment, anyway.
"Accepted, Mr. Malfoy." He returned his gaze to the stack of essays in front of him long enough to make a notation on the topmost, then placed his quill to the side and looked up again. "You have a complaint about the punishment I have set for Scorpius?"
"It's asinine," Draco said heatedly. "And an obvious and disgraceful abuse of power."
"Your son was out of bounds, after hours, in a restricted greenhouse," Neville pointed out calmly. "Additionally, he damaged a very rare plant that was to be a focus of fifth-year studies this year."
"So give him one detention and be done with it." Draco's eyes narrowed slightly. "Do not take for granted that you can use your position to punish me by punishing my son."
His predictions were correct. Draco wasn't here for his son; he was here because Neville was embarrassing him personally. Neville picked up his quill again. Thus far, Draco had been following the script masterfully. Here was the part where it could all fall to shambles.
"Did your son tell you why he was in my greenhouses at that hour?" he asked, flipping down to the next essay. He clicked his tongue and underlined a factual error.
"I'm not interested," Draco said dismissively.
"Oh, but I am," Neville said. He looked up at Draco, who sat stiffly in the chair, looking with distaste across the desk at him. Neville met Draco's stare evenly. He knew where the distaste came from: in school, Draco had not thought highly enough of him for them to even be rivals, and now Neville was, seemingly, waving a flag of authority as he rode out on a crusade of revenge, and there was little Draco could do about it. "You see, he was brought there against his will. The plant he damaged did quite a bit more damage to him, and would likely have killed him had the situation been allowed to continue to its inevitable conclusion." He met Draco's eyes and matched his stare. "I'm not impressed with the way Slytherin House determines the pecking order of its students. A boy like Scorpius has little to draw upon to improve his position." He leaned forward slightly, and tried to put gravity into his next words. "It takes a great deal for me to lose my temper and give a whole series of detentions. If Scorpius is not careful, he may begin to gain a reputation for being a thorn in my side." He raised his eyebrows slightly.
A tiny light of realization lit behind Draco's eyes. "Your detentions are ghastly, I'm led to believe."
Neville nodded. "I think they are tough, but fair. The students, however, tend to look with some awe on those lucky enough to finish them unscathed." Neville allowed a very small smile to play on his lips. "You send one student to the hospital wing and suddenly rumor grants your detentions mythical proportions."
Draco nodded slowly. "I imagine a student set a month of such detentions would be looked upon with some... grudging respect."
"Caught on, have you?" Neville said in a very low voice. He turned his eyes back down to the essay in front of him and he crossed out another incorrect statement, noting the correction in the margins.
"Bit devious to be coming from you, Longbottom," Draco said after a moment of silence. Neville glanced up with an arched eyebrow. Draco met his gaze stubbornly, but Neville did not back down. Backing down would be admitting defeat. Finally, Draco sighed. "Professor," he amended. Neville gave a tiny nod in satisfaction.
"I've become rather adept at getting students to think the way I want them to," he said mildly. "It's a good skill for a teacher to have."
"Why my son?" Draco asked baldly. "You loathe me." Neville put down his quill again, taking his time.
"You know, Scorpius asked the same question. I think both of you fail to realize that he's not just the son of Draco Malfoy." Neville corked his ink bottle. "He deserves a chance to be just Scorpius." He rose from his chair, and Draco mirrored him across the desk. He took a deep breath. It had been twenty years since they were students together. It was time to bury the hatchet. "I'm going to the teacher's lounge for a bit of lunch. Would you care to join me?"
The words hung heavily in the air between them. Draco's eyebrows had gone up slightly in surprise for a moment.
"I have another appointment." Draco turned to leave Neville's office, but paused at the door. He looked as though he were fighting with himself. "Your position suits you, Professor," he said reluctantly. A smile tugged at the corner of Neville's mouth as Draco closed the door behind him. It wasn't a peace offering. But it was something.
Scorpius looked extremely sullen as he stumped into Neville's office Friday evening. He set his gloves forcefully on the arm of the chair he'd sat in last night and threw himself down heavily. Neville closed the grade ledger he'd been writing in and stood up.
"Good evening, Mr. Malfoy."
"Evening, Professor," Scorpius said sulkily.
"We'll be in Greenhouse Three tonight," Neville said briskly. "I've got a bale of peat that needs mixing with compost and fertilizer. That will be your job."
The look of disgust and despair that Scorpius threw him was almost enough to make him laugh, if it hadn't also been tinged with the same accusation of betrayal that had nearly cut him to the quick a few nights before.
"Unless you'd rather prune the Thorned Ground Creeper," Neville offered. "It's mostly trained now, and I have a few Blood Replenishing potions at the ready if a strange handler makes it shirty."
Scorpius swallowed. "No, sir," he said dully.
It was much warmer in the greenhouse than outside, and the warm moist air collected on the glass panes of the building and dripped, causing a constant patter against the leaves and ground. Neville inhaled deeply as he stepped into the greenhouse, the smell of green and growing things an instant release of the stress that had been settling between his shoulder blades all day.
Scorpius, however, wrinkled his nose. "It smells in here," he said petulantly.
"Are you planning on being difficult all evening?" Neville asked in a conversational tone.
"You said you were going to help me," Scorpius returned, his small, pale face pinching slightly in anger as he glared at his feet. "And then you went and gave me half a dozen detentions for something that wasn't even my fault."
Neville ignored the accusation. "How many people tripped you in the hallways today?" he asked calmly. Scorpius looked up in confusion. "Spilled ink on your textbooks? Stole your bookbag?" Neville nodded as Scorpius's eyes turned inward as he recalled his day. "Uneventful today, wasn't it?"
"How did you know?" Scorpius asked, his anger seemingly melting away.
"I'm not the only teacher concerned about your well-being," Neville said seriously. He hefted a pair of pruning shears, squinting at their cutting edges to ensure they were sharp enough. "Just the only one with enough clout to dare to do anything." He looked over at Scorpius, who had frozen and was looking at Neville with something close to awe. Neville waved a hand at him dismissively. "Gossip, Mr. Malfoy. You'd be surprised at what some well-placed gossip will do. According to the school, you've gotten on my bad side. That's an... impressive place to be, according to some."
"But... I'm not, really. ...Right?" Scorpius asked in a small voice. Neville shrugged, then winked, keeping his face completely straight.
"You'll be mixing the soil in those three beds. One part peat and fertilizer to two parts compost. Your father visited me yesterday."
There was a soft flopping sound as Scorpius dropped his gloves. "He did?"
Neville nodded as he approached the bed that contained the dark green, writhing plant that was beginning to overgrow its boundaries. He could hear Scorpius scramble to pick up his gloves behind him. "I told him much the same thing I'm telling you: that if you continue on your path as troublemaker, you might end up known as the bane of Professor Longbottom's existence." A precise movement clipped one tendril of the Creeper; it hissed slightly and withdrew itself into the bed. "And as I recall, a certain disregard for authority is another one of those traits that Slytherins value."
The expression on Scorpius's face had shifted from angry to thoughtful as he pulled on his gloves and moved toward the three empty planting beds.
"My dad really came to see you?"
The question was almost timid. Neville glanced over; Scorpius had not actually begun his work, though he'd ripped open the bags in preparation.
"He did," Neville said simply.
"About my detentions?"
There was no more conversation that evening until Neville dismissed Scorpius to enjoy his weekend. It may have been Neville's imagination, but he thought it possible that as he left, Scorpius's shoulders were held just slightly more solidly, his chin slightly higher.