“Gen!” Scorpius clapped his hands in delight and reached out for the bauble in his mother’s fingertips. She held it just out of his reach and he obediently clasped his hands together, watching her carefully.
“Ready? Snow!” Astoria very gently shook the glass ornament, causing tiny snowflakes to flutter around the inside. Scorpius pressed his nose up against the bauble and went cross eyed watching the snowflakes.
“So!” Scorpius tried to copy her words, pointing happily at the snowflakes which had now settled.
“That’s right, Scorpius, snow. Clever boy.” Astoria pulled him onto her lap and held the snow globe bauble in front of his face where he continued to gaze at it in wonder. “This is a special kind of magic, Scorpius. It’s muggle magic.”
“Mu mu mack,” Scorpius tried to copy her words in a whisper.
“That’s right, muggle magic. It’s called a snow globe, isn’t it beautiful? Can you say snow globe?”
“So go,” Scorpius replied then his expression changed and he started looking around the room. “Dada?”
“Daddy’s outside, shall we go and find him?”
At the mention of the word outside, Scorpius had wriggled from her lap and toddled over to the door, where he turned back and held his hand out to Astoria. “Ow sa!”
“That’s right, outside. Let’s put your coat on.”
She lead him by the hand to the small room off the hallway which acted as a place to store coats, cloaks and shoes. It didn’t take long for Scorpius to be wrapped up in a warm coat and bobble hat which Astoria had knitted herself while she was pregnant with Scorpius.
“Boots!” Scorpius cried happily, brandishing one red wellington boot in Astoria’s face. With some convincing, he handed the boot over and let her sit him on her lap to put them on.
“Now we can go,” Astoria straightened up with Scorpius, sitting him on her hip to take him outside.
“Duck! Quack!” Scorpius requested loudly the second they set foot onto the winding path which snaked through the grounds of Malfoy Manor. He wriggled to be put down and started to tear off towards the barn-like enclosure the peacocks sheltered inside. Astoria chuckled and followed him.
“I thought we were going to look for Daddy.” She caught up with Scorpius, who’d strode into the peacock’s enclosure and had cornered the only two of them not wandering the grounds.
“Duck!” He pointed at the bird insistently.
Scorpius was of the opinion that every bird he saw was a duck and he wouldn’t be told otherwise, despite Draco’s attempts to bird watch on every walk they took. Astoria wasn’t sure why her husband was surprised their one-year-old son couldn’t say great bustard yet could do an almost perfect imitation of a duck quacking. Draco had been thrilled to inform her that Scorpius was now calling them peacocks after he spent a solid hour practising the word with him; he seemed to have forgotten since.
“Quack quack,” Scorpius said happily, flapping his arms around in excitement and alarming the peacock stood nearest to him. “Duck.”
“ Peacock, Scorpius. Can you say peacock?”
“Duck duck,” was Scorpius’ response.
“ Peacock,” another voice came from behind her and Astoria turned to see Draco striding towards them. He knelt to Scorpius’ level, took his hand and gestured to the unimpressed bird before them. “Remember, Scorpius, this is a peacock.”
“Quack?” Scorpius looked hopeful. “Dada?”
“Peacocks don’t tend to quack,” he said matter of factly.
“What noise do peacocks make then, Daddy?” Astoria knelt down too and smirked at her husband.
“Well… sort of… it’s a distinct call,” Draco looked put out.
Scorpius looked between his parents, then he crouched down too. “Dada,” he said with a shrug.
“We found him.” Astoria adjusted Scorpius’ bobble hat. “Scorpius wanted to come and see how you were getting on with the tree,” she explained.
“Clearly I was the object of this visit.” Draco gestured to their son, who was quacking at the peacocks again and charging around in his red Wellington boots.
“Well? Is it ready?”
Draco straightened up and gave her his hand in such a regal manner, it felt like she was being asked to dance at a ball. “This way.”
At that moment, Scorpius had gotten a little too close to one of the peacocks and it had pecked affectionately at his fingertips. Unfortunately, Scorpius didn’t feel the affection and he backed away quickly from the bird, his face a picture of confusion and hurt. He couldn’t see where he was going and went wobbling backwards over a large pile of straw, landing upside down with his red boots in the air.
“Oh dear,” Astoria said in a sing song voice, going to retrieve her upside down son. But Draco had already rushed over ahead of her.
“Scorpius! Are you alright? Did the peacock bite you?” He held Scorpius to him protectively and inspected his finger tip, but Scorpius’ face was one of utter delight and he giggled at his father’s expression before squirming to be put down.
“Again!” Scorpius insisted, approaching the pile of straw and turning so his back was to it. He tried to recreate his fall, this time just lying back against the straw and laughing his head off.
Astoria laughed to herself while Draco watched Scorpius in complete perplexion. He caught Astoria’s eye. “He’s just like you.”
“He is, isn’t he,” she said airly, watching Scorpius ‘fall’ over the straw a third time. “Scorpius, honey, do you want to see the Christmas tree now?”
Scorpius simply grinned up at his mother from the pile of straw.
“I’ll take that as a yes.” She bent down to pick him up, sitting him on her hip. Scorpius shuddered then laughed and, with a knowing glance back at her husband, Astoria noted that his previously muddy boots were suddenly clean so as not to make footprints on Astoria’s cloak; almost as if someone had cast a quick cleaning charm over them.
Draco smirked and tucked his wand away. “This way.”
He lead them to the back doors of the manor, where the grand patio cascaded down in a short stone staircase onto the frosty lawn. At the top of the staircase, a huge fir tree, at least eight feet high, was floating gently above the ground where Draco had taken it out of the ground and levitated it over to the house. It only had a short way left to go before it was situated in its usual position in the large window of the drawing room.
“I wanted him to see this” Draco explained, holding his wand ready. “Watch this, Scorpius.” Scorpius was still in Astoria’s arms and Draco gently took one of Scorpius’ little hands to direct his attention to the tree. He waved his wand and the tree shrunk down until it was the size of a potted plant.
“Gone,” Scorpius stated, holding his palms up to indicate confusion. “Wa?”
“Where?” Astoria giggled. “It’s still there, it’s just smaller, look. Daddy can pick it up now.”
Scorpius looked sceptical as he appraised the situation and watched his father pick the small tree up with both hands to take it into the house. Astoria followed him inside and Scorpius remained solemnly distrustful of the whole thing, standing very still when Astoria lowered him to the ground and staring at the small tree.
“Duck,” he said, pointing at the tree.
“ Tree , Scorpius. Christmas tree.”
“Stand back.” Draco took his wand out again and Scorpius hurried towards Astoria, clinging to her leg. “ Engorgio!”
The tiny tree grew before their eyes, stretching and expanding to its full size where it fitted perfectly into the space between the two grand staircases. Scorpius leaned back so far to look at the height of the tree that he toppled over and sat down with a bump, but he didn’t take his eyes off the tree.
“That!” he said, pointing at it excitedly. “That! That!”
“Isn’t it wonderful?” Astoria smiled. “I’m sure it’s bigger than last year.”
“I may have helped it along a bit,” Draco smirked cryptically. “Thank Merlin for expansion charms.”
Scorpius reached both his arms up, straining to look up at Draco with an expectant expression. He obliged, picking Scorpius up and sitting him comfortably on his hip to look at the tree. It never got old, the sight of her husband and son together, Scorpius with a softer, more angelic version of Draco’s strong jawline. His chubby cheeks would no doubt grow to mimic his father’s angular cheekbones, but for now he was cherubic.
Astoria thought about Draco’s words while she went to retrieve the chest of Christmas decorations her and Scorpius had been looking at before they’d gone outside. The little snow globe was perched on top and she tucked it safely away, closing the lid of the chest and levitating the heavy object back into the hallway. They really were lucky to be able to use magic for things like this, but the muggles had huge Christmas trees too and they made it work.
Astoria had seen gigantic muggle Christmas trees when they’d taken Scorpius to London and strolled around Covent Garden together the week before. It had been freezing cold, but a few surreptitious warming charms meant they could sit cosily on the upper balcony of The Punch and Judy, feeding Scorpius bites of cake and watching the world go by. Muggle London had a distinct beauty to Astoria; it was one of her favourite places.
She hummed in thought to herself and lowered the wand to the floor with her wand. Pocketing her wand, she grasped the handles on either side of the chest. What was the point of even having handles if they didn’t use them? The chest wasn’t that heavy and the tree wasn’t far away.
Astoria leaned back to balance the weight of the chest and walked slowly back to the tree, thankful to deposit the chest on the floor beside the tree. She straightened up and dusted her hands off.
“What are you doing?” Draco watched her with slight concern. “I could have got that.”
“I’ve had an idea.” Astoria opened the lid of the chest and nodded to herself.
Scorpius toddled over and picked up the snow globe which was resting at the top of all the decorations in the chest. “Mu mu mack,” he said proudly.
“You remembered! Well done, Scorpius.” Astoria clapped her hands.
“What did he say?” Draco asked in confusion.
“Muggle magic.” Astoria held the snow globe up in front of her husband’s eyes. “Look at it.”
“A true phenomenon,” Draco appraised the floating glitter dryly. “We must have him tell my father all about it at dinner on Christmas Day. It’s just his sort of thing. What was your idea?”
Astoria smirked; Draco’s father would despise the idea she was about to suggest, which made her all the more determined to do it. “I was just thinking it would be fun to decorate the tree without magic this year.”
Draco closed his eyes and sighed. “Oh, it’s that sort of idea.” He didn’t sound dismissive, more apprehensive than anything.
“Come on, Draco.” She sidled up to him and leaned against his side. “I’ve never properly decorated a tree before and I’m sure you haven’t either.”
“I was always presented with a fully decorated tree by the elves,” Draco said quietly. “I’ve only ever decorated them with you.”
“Then all the more reason to do it the muggle way this year. What do you think Scorpius?”
They both looked over at Scorpius, who had his head and both arms buried so far into the decorations chest that one leg was hovering off the ground, the other close to joining it. At the sound of his name, Scorpius straightened up and turned to face them, his pale, fluffy hair covered in glitter and an everlasting icicle dangling from his ear. He had an enormous grin on his face.
“Hold on,” Draco withdrew his wand.
“Please,” she pouted.
“Not that.” He waved his wand at an empty space in front of the chest. “We normally conjure garlands. We won’t have any otherwise, then I’ll put my wand away, promise.”
Astoria beamed and joined him in conjuring glittering garlands, some made of bubbles, others shimmering strands of glittery tinsel, more icicles. They lay in long lines across the floor, ready to be hung on the tree by hand.
“Nice,” Scorpius stated, pointing at the piece of silver tinsel closest to him. “Nice, Mama.”
He picked up the end of the tinsel and wandered over to Draco, the tinsel clutched in his hand and dragging along the floor as he walked. Scorpius didn’t notice, presenting the end of the tinsel to Draco proudly.
“Thank you very much,” Draco said, as if Scorpius had congratulated him on a promotion.
“Hat,” Scorpius said insistently, attempting to place the string of tinsel on his head where it immediately fell off and slithered to the floor. “Hat!”
“I think he’d like it to be a hat,” Astoria said, half focusing on conjuring another bubble garland.
“I’d gathered as much,” Draco said dryly, gathering the tinsel up. He used a severing charm to cut off a short length which he looped into a circle, sealing it in place with his wand. Draco placed the tinsel halo on top of Scorpius’ soft hair with a flourish. “There, hat.”
“Hat! Hat, Dada!” Scorpius was so excited, he stamped his little feet on the spot and flapped his arms around.
“Can you say thank you to Dada , Scorpius?”
“Ak-yoo,” Scorpius recited obediently. He picked up the tinsel and trailed it back over to Astoria. “Mama hat?” he asked hopefully, trying to attach the tinsel to her hair.
Astoria laughed, pulled him into a huge giggling hug and set about fashioning two more tinsel crowns which she assisted Scorpius in putting on hers and Draco’s heads. He was thrilled, running around in excited circles and chorusing hat over and over again.
“The tree looks frankly underdressed now,” Draco said in an offhand voice, gesturing between the bare tree and the tinsel on his head. It made him look strangely ethereal with his platinum ponytail and light eyes. Astoria knew that this side of Draco - the loving father who would do anything to make his son smile - was a side not many people would understand.
“We should set about decorating it then.” Astoria clapped her hands briskly and dove into the decorations chest, coming up with a glittering star which slowly revolved on its hanging string. “Scorpius gets the first one.”
As it turned out, Scorpius was far more interested in looping the decorations onto his fingertips and watching them swing when he poked them than he was putting anything on the tree. It took a lot of gentle encouragement to get him to part with each ornament and attach it to a branch of the tree.
“I don’t know what you were worried about, this is easy,” Astoria smiled, hanging an icicle into place and stepping back to admire the effect. Draco was on the other side of the tree with Scorpius, helping him to wrap a bubble garland onto some of the lower branches.
When most of the decorations were on the tree, they stepped back to admire their handiwork.
“It’s certainly… different,” Draco commented diplomatically.
It was a bit of a mess if truth be told. The decorations were in odd clusters where they’d worked on a spot at a time, lots were overlapping where Scorpius had hung them up and nearly all of the tinsel was on one side. The top third of the tree was almost bare where they hadn’t be able to levitate decorations out of their reach.
“A little rearranging here and there, it’ll look lovely!” Astoria said positively.
“How are we going to decorate the top? How do muggles do it?”
“Well,” Astoria hesitated, “they would use a ladder, to stand on and be higher up. We don’t have a ladder.”
“And we can’t conjure or transfigure one without magic.” Draco twirled his wand obnoxiously.
Astoria thought for a second. “Let me climb on your back,” she said, already taking hold of his shoulders.
“Oh, I get it. I have to be the ladder.” Draco rolled his eyes at the same time as allowing her to hop up onto his back.
Astoria kissed the top of his head and pointed at the tree. “This way, please.”
“Mama! Up!” Scorpius stood still, pointing at both his parents in wide eyed wonder, then he burst into delighted giggles at the very sight. He ran over to them both, hugging Draco’s legs and burying his face somewhere above his father’s knee.
From her new vantage point, Astoria unhooked and rearranged the decorations to spread them more evenly up the tree, directing Draco to move by tapping his shoulder. Scorpius remained clinging to Draco’s trousers the entire time, stretching his arms up every time Astoria moved a decoration like he was trying to help. When she was satisfied, Astoria wriggled down and scooped Scorpius up.
“Should we rearrange the tinsel too?” Draco reached for a particularly wonky strand.
“I think we should just… leave it,” Astoria smiled, tucking Scorpius’ soft hair behind his ear. It was ever so slightly curly, just at the ends, and a little ringlet poked out from behind his ear most adorably.
Draco eyed her with a suspicious look. “Our parents, they’ll comment, you’ll tell them we didn’t use any magic, they’ll hate it,” he said in a very knowing tone of voice.
“The thought hadn’t even crossed my mind,” Astoria smirked, “I just want to value Scorpius’ hard work.” She kissed his cheek.
“Kiss!” Scorpius said happily, going to return the favour with one of his signature mouth-wide-open kisses.
“You’re incorrigible,” Draco sighed fondly.
“Hmm?” Astoria pretended not to hear him, nuzzling into Scorpius’ soft hair. “Are you ready to put the star on the tree, Scorpius?”
“Tar!” Scorpius bounced up and down in her arms.
Draco pulled the glittering star from the chest, the one which they’d chosen together their very first Christmas as husband and wife, and brought it over to show Scorpius. He clutched the sparkly star happily to his chest and Astoria lifted him up, sitting him on Draco’s shoulders, which he thought was wonderful. Scorpius giggled but didn’t let go of the star.
“Come on, Scorpius. Let go of the star,” Draco sounded ever so slightly breathless, his shoulders hunched unnaturally to keep Scorpius in place.
“Tar!” Scorpius cuddled it to him tighter.
“Can I just sit him on top of the tree and have done with it?” Draco said dryly.
“Oh, he’d look gorgeous up there,” Astoria sighed, offering no assistance.
“Put the star down, Scorpius,” Draco continued to coax the star from Scorpius’ arms, his eyes trained upwards trying to see what was going on above his head.
And it was ridiculous but it was perfect, Astoria thought to herself. Her little family and their lopsided Christmas tree and their baby squeezing the star between his hands balanced on his father’s shoulders, everyone happy, as it should be.