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This Old House

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Every Sunday, for as long as he could remember, Scorpius Malfoy had been accompanying his father to Malfoy Manor to visit his grandparents. Over the years the routine had changed very little, aside from the fact that he was now a grown man himself.

At eleven am sharp, they would sit for tea in the sunroom with his grandmother, which was always his favorite part of the visit. Narcissa’s hugs were unrivaled and her chocolate biscuits, unmatched. Sometimes he wondered if his grandmother was lonely, in that big old house, but she always eased his mind with kind words and soft assurances.

After they’d had their fill of tea and cakes, they’d take a walk around the grounds, Scorpius carefully leading his grandmother down the well-worn path of her gardens while his father trailed slightly behind, lost in his own thoughts. Sometimes they would sit a while, Narcissa needing a rest and Scorpius happy to pass the time listening to her tell him about the countless exotic blooms that she had been curating for too many years to count now. The garden was her pride and joy and her second greatest accomplishment. Scorpius loved her even more for the simplicity of her joys and the ease with which she smiled. She was a beautiful woman, his grandmother, and she would always be one of the most cherished people in his life.

At five pm sharp they would sit for dinner in the formal dining room, Draco taking his usual spot to the left of the head, Narcissa the right, and Scorpius beside her. The meal was always elaborate, far more so than Scorpius was used to the rest of the week, but he always ate as much as he could because he refused to allow his grandmother to feel like he wasn’t appreciative of her efforts.

By six pm, after Narcissa had retired to the library, Scorpius would head upstairs with his father to visit with his grandfather. Lucius Malfoy was someone that Scorpius had always feared, especially as a small child. He was the foreboding presence always lurking in the background, watching him with an eerily alert, icy gaze. As he’d gotten older, Scorpius had learned to accept his grandfather for who he was, and over time that fear had melted into something closer to respect.

He entered Lucius’ private study slightly behind his father, closing the door quietly behind them and taking in the intimidating space. No matter how many times Scorpius stepped foot into that room or how much time he spent there, he always felt infinitely small. The centerpiece of the room was a massive mahogany desk sat square in the middle, polished to a deep, gleaming shine. The scent of oil soap hung in the air as he crossed the room, taking his seat beside his father on the opposite side of the desk. At one corner sat a cut glass tray, a stoppered crystal bottle, and two glasses set atop. Draco reached for the bottle and uncorked it, pouring out two generous fingers in each of the glasses, one of which he set in front of Scorpius.

Scorpius glanced up at the large portrait hanging on the wall behind his grandfather’s desk for a moment and smiled, his attention drawn back to his father, who was handing him a cigar from the wooden humidor sat beside the tray. Lucius watched them in silence from his high-backed chair, a softly furling cigar in one hand and a tumbler of fire whiskey in the other.

“I trust your visit with your mother went well,” Lucius said to Draco – it wasn’t a question.

Draco had just gotten his cigar lit when he glanced up at his father and pressed his lips together in a thin line. “Of course, father,” he replied with, Scorpius noticed, the slightest nod of his head.

Scorpius was always fascinated with the slightly stilted relationship between his father and grandfather. It was as if Draco had reverted to the child he used to be whenever he was in Lucius’ presence. There was respect there, undoubtedly, but Scorpius sensed there was much more to it than that – he never asked.

“We took her out to the gardens,” Draco supplied eagerly, as if hoping to gain his father’s approval.

Lucius’ gaze remained on Draco for a long moment before he moved at all, and even then, it was merely a slow and drawn out raise of his glass. “Very good,” he said quietly, the faintest hint of a smirk seen in the curl at the corner of his mouth.

“It was a really good day,” Scorpius added with a smile, speaking for the first time and instantly gaining his grandfather’s intense gaze.

“She does look forward to your visits quite a bit.” Lucius circled his tumbler of whiskey as he spoke, the amber liquid swirling lazily about inside. His grandfather’s gaze was heavy and all encompassing, and at one time, made him feel terribly insignificant. “I do too,” he replied honestly as he puffed on his cigar to keep it lit.

His father intervened then, pulling Lucius’ attention back to him again. The time would usually pass like this, father and son taking turns jumping through hoops. It was a small price to pay to see his grandmother smile.

The unspoken rule between them was that they would stay long enough to burn through a cigar each and one glass of whiskey, but tonight Draco seemed to have different plans. Scorpius had nearly powered through his drink when his father leaned over, refilling it back to where it had been before. His gaze shot quickly in Draco’s direction, brows knitting together in confusion.

“I need to talk to you about something,” his father said in a dry tone that sounded very little like his own. Draco’s gaze slid off of Scorpius and over to Lucius, who had a fresh cigar pressed between his lips.

“That doesn’t sound ominous at all,” Lucius replied casually and Scorpius could hear the nervousness in his father’s laugh.

“Drink up; you’re going to need it,” Draco added, a bit thinly, raising his own full glass to his lips and gulping several large, messy swallows down.

Scorpius’ gaze flicked from his father to his grandfather, wondering what news Draco could possibly have that was making him visibly shaken. “Dad?” he said curiously, his gaze cutting back to his father and remaining with him.

Draco, who must have realized how strange he was behaving, smiled and held up a hand, which he waved dismissively. “I’m fine, it’s nothing like that.” He said quickly, his gaze on Scorpius alone.

Scorpius nodded once, firmly, and understanding passed between father and son.

“What have you done now?” Lucius’ voice penetrated the moment like a pin in a balloon.

Draco pursed his lips and Scorpius smiled thinly and reached for his whiskey.

Draco huffed out a breath. “I haven’t done anything,” he said, looking vaguely offended, although Scorpius could still see the nervousness hiding behind it. He was sure Lucius could too. “But I am getting remarried.” This last part was added on all in a jumbled rush of words; as if Draco had to visibly spit them from his mouth and they sort of all just fell out.

Scorpius couldn’t help but smirk, he really couldn’t. For a minute there, he’d thought his father was about to drop some dark news on them, but it wasn’t that at all. Draco had been putting off telling Lucius this news for weeks and it really was about time. He glanced over at his grandfather, who was sitting silently in his chair, puffing on his cigar for a long moment, his gaze fixed on his only son. Scorpius felt a little bad for his father just then because the weight of that stare was oppressively heavy. The silence grew between them and the back of Scorpius’ neck prickled with anticipation and just the tiniest bit of fear.

Lucius raised his glass slowly, too slowly, sipping silently from it, still gazing at Draco over the lip of it. Scorpius watched as he swallowed once, twice, and then brought his arm back down on the rest, glass still held between his fingers. The anticipation was so thick now you could have cut it with a knife, and when Lucius opened his mouth to speak, both Draco and Scorpius held their breath and waited for the drop.

“It seems I owe your mother a game of chess.” Lucius’ tone was calm, amused even, and Scorpius’ brows shot clear up to his hairline – Draco was still holding his breath.

His grandfather looked eerily serene, and after studying him for a long moment, Scorpius’ mouth slowly curved into a grin. “You already knew,” he said, and Lucius smiled slowly as he gazed over at his grandson.

“Of course I already knew.” Lucius said matter-of-factly, his smile twisting into more of a smirk. A smug one.

“Ho—How?” Draco had finally found his voice, although it didn’t much sound like his voice at all.

Lucius turned his smug expression on his son and arched a brow. “If you’re going to attempt to keep a secret from me, you should at least try harder.”

Draco swallowed thickly and seemed to regain feeling in his limbs as he reached out for his tumbler of whiskey with a slightly shaky hand. “I’ve been absolutely dreading this for weeks and you already fucking knew.” Draco sounded personally affronted and Scorpius just sat back and watched them both, puffing away on his cigar and enjoying the show.

For a long while neither father nor son spoke a word, although Scorpius imagined there was entirely different unspoken conversation happening between them as they gazed at one another – each far too stubborn to look away first.

In the end, it was Lucius who broke first.

“I knew you’d come out with it, when you were ready.” He shrugged a casual shoulder and lifted his hand, wrapping his lips around his cigar and puffing silently. Scorpius watched as soft tendrils of white smoke furled from the end of the cigar, utterly fascinated.

Draco wasn’t nearly as fascinated as his son, apparently. “But you could have saved me the trouble,” he muttered petulantly.

Lucius just smiled. “Don’t you feel better now, after spilling your big secret?” There was just a hint of mockery in the tone of his grandfather’s voice, but Scorpius suspected it was lighthearted. He hoped, anyway.

“No, I don’t,” Draco added sourly, then he gulped down the rest of his whiskey and quickly refilled it.

Lucius just laughed – a soft chuckle that seemed oddly out of character for him. “You’re pouting now,” he said, and Scorpius quirked a brow and wondered exactly how much fire whiskey his grandfather had consumed today.

“I am not,” Draco said, and it was a complete lie that fooled no one in the room. Not even a little bit.

Lucius raised his glass and tipped it slightly in Draco’s direction. “Ah, let an old man have his fun.” Both Scorpius and his father’s gaze cut to Lucius at exactly the same moment. Scorpius had never heard his grandfather sound so…normal, and Draco had never heard him sound so mortal. “Would it make you feel better if I spilt a secret too?” he asked, and Draco’s eyes only widened in response.

“I’d love to hear your secrets,” Scorpius blurted out without thinking and when two sets of eyes turned on him he could only grin and shrug helplessly. “What? I mean, I’ve heard stories but I bet he’s got some wicked secrets. No offense, grandfather.,” he said, offering Lucius a somewhat apologetic smile.

Lucius’ mouth curved into a smile as well, but where Scorpius’ was soft, his was calculated. “You first,” was all he said, and the tone of the words was enough for them all to know that this wasn’t merely a suggestion.

Scorpius swallowed thickly and the tips of his ears burned scarlet and suddenly it was very hot in the room, wasn’t it? He tugged at the collar of his shirt and cleared his throat, his gaze moving between Draco and Lucius. “Okay, fine,” he said with a determination he didn’t quite feel, then he reached for his drink and gulped down a couple of large, messy swallows, just as his father before him.

They wanted a secret; Scorpius had a few big ones. “I’m never getting married,” he said defiantly, glancing between the two older men once again. When neither of them seemed moved by his bold statement he rolled his eyes and sighed. Old people. He added slowly, sounding out each syllable with an overdramatic flair. “To a woman.” Still, he got nothing from them. Okay this was getting ridiculous. “Don’t you two get it? I’m never going to marry. I’ll never have children and there will be no more heirs. I’m it. The last of us. Malfoys out.” Scorpius threw up his hands in frustration. “Have you two gone deaf or something? I’m gay alright?! And I’m in love with my best friend!”

Scorpius’ face was red with exasperation and he could only gape as Draco glanced over to Lucius and they both cracked a smile and…laughed.

Scorpius heaved a cleansing sigh and shook his head. “How could you two possibly already know all of that?” he asked, his gaze downward, as if the contents of his glass were suddenly terribly interesting.

It was Lucius who spoke first, and when he did, both son and grandson listened attentively. “Secrets have always been this family’s business, for as long as I can remember. My father before me kept, perhaps, the biggest secret of us all, and I in turn, carried on in his footsteps with secrets of my own. It has always been our way Scorpius, but it shouldn’t be our only way.”

Scorpius glanced up at his grandfather, brows drawn together in confusion. Never in his life had he ever heard Lucius speak to him so freely, so open. It was jarring, to say the least.

“You are the first of us to grow up without the burden of living a life filled with secrets and I think,” he paused here to smile fondly at his grandson, “that it is fitting that you are also the last. You are the best possible representation this family could ever hope for.”

Scorpius was shocked into silence and he was suddenly reminded how easy it was to be humbled in his grandfather’s presence sometimes. Lucius didn’t often show this side of himself, so when he did, it was truly shocking to those around him.

A silence grew between the three men, each sitting in their seats, contemplating everything that had been said and so much more that had not.

It was Draco who finally broke the silence, and when he did, it was with his usual flair. “Also, you’re absolute shit at secrets.”

Scorpius laughed at that and was quickly joined by Draco and finally, Lucius too. It had taken them a long time and some might even say they’d taken the scenic route, but the three generations of Malfoy men had finally managed to fully understand one another, and that was a far greater reward than any secret would, or could, ever be.

Later, after they’d said their goodbyes and cleared away their messes, Scorpius followed Draco out of the study. He paused in the doorway and turned back, gazing at the portrait of his grandfather, who was still watching him serenely. “See you next week,” he said, and the smile that passed between them said so much more.