Scorpius shifted uncomfortably in his seat, trying not to look as left out as he felt. Beside him Rose chatted animatedly to some second cousin across the table, and Scorpius was left to stare in some confusion at the flocks of people – mostly Weasleys – that milled around the Potters’ kitchen-cross-dining room. Grimmauld Place was properly decked out for Christmas and made for a much cheerier setting than the ones Scorpius had always endured in Malfoy Manor, but he knew full well that he was tolerated here tonight only because he was the boyfriend of Harry and Ginny’s favourite niece.
Gradually all the various relatives found seats and the chatter died down as steaming plates of mouth-watering food floated one by one to the table. Or... were
they floating? Trying inconspicuously for a better view, Scorpius caught a glimpse of an aged house-elf as it scurried away for the next load of Feast.
‘What’s that old thing doing here?’ Scorpius whispered to Rose in surprise. ‘It’s ancient! Surely they could find a more capable servant – this is the Potters’ house, for Salazar's sake!’
Rose shook her head minutely and frantically, but it was too late. In the chewing-filled gap of conversation the first course of food had brought with it Scorpius’s words had traveled half the length of the table, to where Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione sat at the head of it.
‘Actually,’ Ron replied loudly with ill-disguised contempt for his daughter’s choice in boys, ‘Kreacher is a faithful friend of the family, who helped us in our fight against You-Know-Who, which is more than I can say for the parents of some people here. Because of that, he
will always be welcome!’
Scorpius scowled, figuring that now that he had attracted the entire room’s unfavourable attention he may as well keep it.
‘But something that prehistoric would surely be more of a hindrance than a help. We
fire our house-elves when they get to be slower-moving than the rats!’
‘What are they, some kind of cat?’ Hermione sounded affronted, trying though she was to maintain politeness. ‘In any case, Scorpius, your family’s treatment of your servants obviously differs to ours, but I’m afraid that’s not really a topic under discussion here.’ Hermione muttered something under her breath as she turned back to her husband, and Scorpius glowered into his turkey as he caught the general gist of it.
‘I don’t get it,’ he muttered to Rose. ‘They’re just tools, a means to an end – why do your parents act like the house-elf’s a part of the family?’
‘I think,’ Rose chose her words thoughtfully, ‘that they feel that house-elves deserve as much respect as human beings. Both have feelings and can think for themselves, don’t they? Why should elves be treated like slaves?’
Scorpius sat back, stunned. ‘Because... that’s how it’s always been!’
Rose shrugged. ‘Whatever. Pass the salt, will you?’
Scorpius did, watching the bobbing of a head with white-tufted ears as it sped happily around the table.