Actions

Work Header

Mischief, Mayhem, and Malice

Chapter Text

The table looked veeerrryyy interesting this morning, apparently.  Wonder why that is...  It could have something to do with the beat down a la Kanda night before last (before he and Allen left on their mission).  Or perhaps the running-in-terror-from-Kaumlin-the-nth at about three in the morning.  “Why the hell was that guy allowed near the sodding lab?”

Scorpius looked up from where he was poking at his eggs.  “Mm?”  But when his friend didn’t lift his head from the table, the Malfoy’s brows furrowed.  “Alright, what is it now?” he asked.  It was a cold day in hell that Albus Potter didn’t try to out-eat Allen (though he never would succeed, Scorpius hoped).

“Mmf,” was the only reply the pale-haired youth got in answer to his question.

Luckily - for Albus - they were interrupted before the younger male could continue his line of questioning.  His mouth snapped shut as a familiar, smiling female came over to sit down next to Albus (who had learned day one to keep his hands to himself).

“Hello, Lenalee,” the Malfoy said politely.

“Good morning, Scorpius-kun!” The cheerful girl set her tray down by them. After three months of daily interaction, the female exorcist had finally been convinced to stop asking for an invite. “Um, is something wrong with Albus-kun?”

“Mmfmffmmf,” Albus replied.

Scorpius sighed.  “He’s depressed because Miranda still won’t go out with him.”  He glared at his friend.  “She’s way older than you anyway!”

Albus’ head jerked up, and he scowled back at the Malfoy.  “What?!  Did you get into Grouchy’s pot?”

“I sincerely doubt he has any,” Scorpius retorted, frowning at him.

“Arg.”  Albus sat up fully and picked up his fork, offering Lenalee a hopeful grin.  “Don’t suppose you’d care to get lunch sometime, eh?”

A brilliant smile bloomed across Lenalee’s features. “That’s a fantastic idea! I--”

As if summoned by the almost acceptance (or perhaps the offer itself), a hand slammed down on the back of Albus’ skull, sending it crashing into the table forehead first.  “LENALEEEEEEE!” Komui cried ecstatically.  “Ooooh, fancy seeing you here!  I missed you sooooo much!”  And he latched onto her with a happy giggle.

Scorpius blinked.  “Hello, Mr. Lee,” he greeted, inwardly amused.  I suppose that’s turn down number fifteen.

“Hello, Scorpius-san!” the borderline-insane Chief added, and beamed.  “How are you this morning?”

Albus’ head got three inches off the table before Komui’s hand returned to it, slamming it down again.  Scorpius resisted sinister cackles like a pro.  “I am quite fine, thank you for asking.  Will you be joining us for breakfast?”

By that time, Lenalee had managed to pop her head up from the suffocating embrace. “Brother!” The girl really had the cutest frowns imaginable. “You’re hurting Albus-kun!”

“Oh he’s quite capable of managing it, right, Albus-kun?” Komui asked with a disgustingly happy smile.

Albus flipped him the bird, and Komui ground his face into the table.  Scorpius sighed.  “You know, you’re going to kill him, and then Mrs. Potter would not be happy.”  Not to mention, they’d be short an exorcist, which he gathered wasn’t an ideal situation.

Komui stiffened, smile frozen in place.  “Ah.”  He lifted his hand and Albus sat up, gasping for air.  “Oh look at the time!  Lenalee!  You should come with me!  I need your heeeeelllppp with something!” he said, clinging to her arm.

Scorpius stepped on his best friend’s foot when the shorter male reached for his wand.

Giving the two boys a helpless smile, Lenalee sighed. “Okay, okay. I’ll go with you, brother. Maybe later Albus-kun? And bring Scorpius-kun!” The mere slip of a girl turned murmuring, “You can’t keep doing that! He’s just being nice!”

“Whaaat?  Oh, you’re so innocent, Lenalee!  So perfect!” Komui sobbed, and promptly dragged her off.  As far from that lecherous hooligan as he could manage.

Scorpius sighed and opened his mouth, but- well, the snickers that he had been hearing had loosened out into a gut twisting guffaw.

The one redhead on the earth who wasn’t related to the Weasleys rolled out from under the table clutching stomach and head alike in the throes of merry laughter. “What was that? The third time this month?” Lavi was in tears. “I swear, Komui is setting up the next robot just for you Albus!”

“I told you!  It doesn’t soddin’ count if it’s her brother turning me down!” the Potter roared, drawing the looks of several people nearby.  “I wasn’t askin’ him!”

“Technically,” Scorpius inserted quietly.

Down on the floor, Lavi blinked. Choked. Gagged. And started up again. “Gyeeahaahahaa!” And rolled back under the table... “Because he’s Komui! And she’s Lenalee!” Then... “Aaaauuuggghhh! Scorpius! My brain!”

Scorpius leaned over slightly to peer at the older boy, expression flat.  “Serves you right, for rolling around on the floor like that.  Get up before Albus realizes he can step on you,” he replied, and straightened.

“Oh, there’s an idea!”

“Yeee!” Grinning full out, the apprentice bookman skidded out and popped up to stand by Albus’ shoulder. “Awww, you really are too cute when you do that you know? You keep asking... Lenalee always just starts to accept, because we both know she’d accept... and then Komui shows up.” Lavi plopped down on the bench and shook his finger at Albus. “And you’re asking Miranda for dates too. What’s that about? Heeeh?”

“None of your damn business!” Albus retorted, sitting down again.  Across from them, Scorpius did his evil Dark Lord smile.  “Don’t you even!  Or Ameli gets it!”

“It would be a worthy sacrifice,” Scorpius replied, expression similar to that of a mischievous cat.

The redhead on the other hand had a smile like edged glass. “Hey, Lenalee can handle herself. Or Komui will do it. But Miranda isn’t so cheerful.” One ginger brow rose. “She doesn’t know you’re asking Lenalee, does she?”

The dark-haired boy sighed and stabbed his fork into a piece of sausage.  “No, and before you get all huffy, stop acting like I’m an evil villain.  Miranda turned me down flat.”  Not that he blamed her.  “Arggg.  It’s frustrating!  I swear, every time Kanda returns to base, it’s like doe eyes!  EVERYWHERE!”  He gestured with a strawberry.  “And I share a soddin’ room with one of the damn deer!”

Chuckling, Lavi shared a look with the blond wizard-turned exorcist. “Does he always whine this much?”

“No,” Scorpius replied, giving his best friend an odd look.

The Potter frowned back at him.  “What?”

“So, he used to whine less or more?” Lavi prompted, glancing between the stoic Slytherin and the confused Gryffindor. “Heey?”

Albus frowned when further silence ensued from his friend, and got up.  “I’m going to go see if I can’t find a sparring partner,” he said, and took his dishes away.

Scorpius’ brow furrowed as they watched the dark haired teen stomp off.  “That is very odd.  Perhaps he really is upset that Miranda turned him down?” he mused thoughtfully, eyes narrowed.

“Oooh? You don’t know?” Lavi rested his chin on his crossed arms. Green eyes slanted towards the other. “That is interesting. Well!” The bookman jr sprang up to his feet. “I’m gonna go see if Krory is awake! Matron said that he should be coming out of the medical ward today. Wanna come along?”

“Krory?  Oh...”  Scorpius nodded, recalling the vampire-like fellow he’d only met perhaps twice.  “Sure.  Let me put up my dishes first, please.”  He got up and quickly stacked them before scooping them up and hurrying off toward the drop-off area.  He set them down with barely a glance at the woman that was taking care of them, then returned to Lavi.  “Alright.”

“Fantastic!” Lavi threw an arm across the blond’s shoulders. “Let’s go see Fang-chan!”

Fang-chan?  Scorpius gave the hand hanging off his shoulder an icy look and ducked out from underneath it.  “Of course,” he said, and made a mental note to keep out of reach.

xXx

Now, for the past decade, every year, on this day, James was extra diligent. He watched the shadows, he checked every door, he tested every water feature in his bathroom, and he shook out his sheets and clothes before relaxing in or on them.

Somehow, and he blamed Uncle George for this, over the years, every Potter learned to be very aware of his or her surroundings once a year. Because it seemed like the rest of the world wanted to see them covered in purple dye from head to toe. It wasn’t just dye. Sometimes it was green spots. Other times the pitch of the voice might be altered to sound like the opposite sex. Once even Mum was given a rabbit’s nose (Dad had quickly removed the hex and had disappeared until dinner) (Albus said he had been hiding under the cloak in the garden shed).

The pranks were endless (unless it was Mum, then she only let them get away with four).

But then, what better way to spend a birthday than dodging traps?

I think I can name a few activities, James thought, gingerly removing a carefully perched can of something above the open door. What is this?

‘This’ looked like typical neon green jelly. James poked a finger at it. It wobbled. It also tried to suck the rest of his hand in.

Ugh!

With a very wet sucking sound, he twisted his hand free. Out it came... along with the fresh scent of Granny Smith Apples.

How thoughtful.

“Now what do I do with this?” he wondered out loud looking down at the two gallon pail with wobbling jelly. “Komui maybe?” Say it’s a gift from my brother?

Shrugging, he put the bucket down and turned to survey his room. Even from here, he could see the itching spell on the bed sheets.

Albus must have placed the pranks while I was in the shower. Not bad.

The good thing though, was that James only had to worry about one Potter, his younger brother at that. When it was Mum, Dad, and the Weasleys combined... Thank Merlin, it only happened once a year!

Letting out a sigh, James leaned back against the wall. It was just him and Albus.

It had been a shock in a way, seeing the one present on his bed this morning. He knew in his mind that it was his birthday, but seeing the cheerful wrapping drove home the point that, well, this wasn’t home. He would see his brother later today, thank him, and maybe request a slice of cake at the cafeteria. But there wouldn’t be the mob of family and friends downstairs.

Gah, I’m being ridiculous. James snorted and pushed off the wall. All that, and before breakfast. Maybe Jeri could do something with this jelly, he mused, picking up the pail.

Chin up, shoulders back, James stepped out into the hall... and nearly ran into someone. “Oof! I’m sorry!”

Russell smiled, taking a step back.  “It’s alright.  My fault.  I was looking for Albus.  Haven’t seen him, have you?” he asked.  “I wanted to see if he wouldn’t mind testing something with me... well, actually, the Chief wanted him to test it...”

Readjusting his grip, James shook his head. “You just missed him. I think he left our rooms maybe five minutes ago.” He perked up a bit. “Did the Chief say whether it was a job for an exorcist or a wizard? Because if it’s the latter, maybe I could help?”

The scientist barely suppressed his victorious grin as he eyed the youth up and down.  “Actually, yeah, you just might be able to help us out.”  He smiled.  “If, uh, you don’t mind putting that... uh...”  He eyed the tin.  “Ooze down and coming with me?”

James smirked. “What? You don’t like green slime?” Chuckling at Russell’s expression, the wizard casually left the pail by the door. “Don’t mind at all! Lead on, good sir.”

Russell grinned and obliged, leading the elder Potter boy through the long halls until they came to Komui’s main office.  He paused and knocked.  “Sir?  Still there?  I found him.”

The door was jerked open and Komui grinned widely at them both.  “Oh, fantastic!  So quickly~  I knew you could do it!  Soooo, James!  Happy birthday!”

Taking one quick step back, James eyed both of them. “Thanks, Komui. Um, I thought you said you were looking for Albus,” he said slowly.

“You know, Mr. Komui, moving out of the way would help,” a soft, feminine voice pointed out.

Komui grinned sheepishly and stepped aside so James could see into his office.

Mum?” The teenager gaped, blinking at the doorway. Then he was striding in, arms outstretched. “Mum!”

Ginny Potter grinned excitedly and all but tackled her eldest in a hug.  “Jimmy!” she chirped happily, hugging him tightly.  “Dad’s here too.”

The eldest Potter waved a hand from where he was sitting on the couch. “Oh no, don’t mind me. I’m just chopped gilly weed,” he drawled.

James looked over to protest, but ended up grinning when he saw that his dad was half covered in parcels. “You look more like a shopping cart than a plant, Dad.”

“It’s his own fault,” Ginny quipped, stepping back.  She wasn’t at all surprised that Komui had made the wise decision and left to give them a moment.  “He insisted.  I think he’s being secretive.  Between you and me, I saw him at your uncle George’s shop last week, so be careful.”

“Mum,” James smirked at her, “it’s my birthday. I have to be careful of everyone now, it seems. Oh, but it’s good to see you!” And James glomped on her again.

Huffing a bit in mock offence, Harry rolled his eyes at his wife who was giving him an amused grin over their son’s shoulder. “I see I will have to get up to receive a hug.”

Ginny sniffed.  “As it should be.”  She stood up on tip toe to kiss her son on the cheek, beaming.  “You’ve gotten taller!  My goodness!”

“Have I?” He really hadn’t noticed. “I guess so... Oh. Hi Dad,” he added as his father reached over and dragged him into a bear hug. “Gack! I think the desk job is really agreeing with you!”

“Desk job,” Harry scoffed, and scrubbed a hand through his eldest’s hair. “Happy birthday, James. You alright then?”

Nodding, James patted his Dad’s back. “I’m good. It’s been interesting. Very different. Oh!” The two of them parted as James shoved a hand into his pocket. There had been something wriggling in... A howler? Only, it looked different...

Harry started to laugh. “I’m stepping back for this one,” he said, pulling Ginny along with him.

She let him, looking very curious.  “Oooh, a performance!”

“You’re kidding me,” James muttered eying the seal. Feeling a sense of doom, he sighed and tore open the paper envelope.

It fluttered up into the air taking on the usual malicious semblance of a mouth and...

“HAPPY BIIIIIRRRTHHHDAAAAAYYY!!! TOOOOOO YOOOOUUUUU!!”

“Oh Merlin...”

“Haaaaaappyyyyy BIIIIRRRRRTTTTHHHDAAAAYYY TOOOO YOOOOUUUU!!”

“He really can’t sing can he?”

His mother chuckled.  “Gets it from me, I’m afraid.”

“HAAAAAAAPPYYYYYY BIIIIRRRTHDAAAAAYYY, deeeaaarrr JAAAAAAAAA-AAAAMES!”

James winced, half the castle could probably hear this.

“Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaappyyy Biiiiirrthdaay tooooooo yooooooouuuu--uuuuuu!”

The letter then promptly wrinkled itself up in a tight little ball mid air and exploded in a small shower of fireworks.

“Wow.”

James looked over at his Dad.

“What?” Harry asked with a grin.

Ginny squealed, breaking the moment, and hugged her eldest again.  “Happy birthday!  Again!  Ohh, my baby’s a man!”

There was a hesitant tap tap on the door.  “... mummy?”

She winked at James and nodded for him to go ahead and answer the door.

Waving a hand at them to stand to the side, James cracked open the door and peeked out. “Hello? There is a private meeting in session. Come back later.”

Albus pulled an overly dramatic sad face.  “But she’s my mummy too,” he said, lip trembling.

“Baby,” James teased and stepped aside as Ginny shoved her way past.

“Aah, my Alby!” she cried, throwing her arms around his shoulders and squeezing.  “Look at you!  Oh, both of you have gotten taller!  I swear!  It’s like you’re being fed Miracle Gro!”

Albus snickered and hugged her back, going so far as to pick her up and spin in a tight circle.  “Yup.  That’s what they feed us, Mum.  Miracle Gro.  Yummy!”

“Uh huh, come here.” And both Albus and Ginny were dragged into a hug from Harry, who waved a hand at James. “Get over here boy!”

Shaking his head and grinning, James sauntered over. “I don’t think there’s enough--” And three pairs of arms opened and a space beckoned. “Right, can’t say no to that.”

xXx

Pale eyes peered at the taller man curiously.  The man was currently speaking with Lavi about something, but Scorpius had already stopped listening since it seemed to have nothing to do with him.  Of course, when they’d walked into the medical ward, and Lavi had refreshed Krory’s memory as to Scorpius’ identity, the boy had been paying close attention.  Mostly so he could avoid the inevitable attempt for physical contact (in this case, a thwarted choke-hold).

That was a strange quirk of Lavi’s, the pale boy had noticed.  Touching, of any sort.  Ruffling hair, patting a back, throwing an arm comradely around unsuspecting shoulders...  Scorpius almost wondered if the older boy was purposely trying to piss him off.

This very well may have been the case, too, the Malfoy thought irritably.  He sidestepped the redhead’s hand when he tried to reach out and swat Scorpius’ shoulder, grey eyes darting up to glance at Lavi’s face.  But Lavi carried right on with whatever he was jabbering about, not noticing the miss.

Malfoy’s eyes narrowed slightly at the apparently oblivious man.  Yes, it certainly did seem like the Bookman’s apprentice was trying to get a rise out of Scorpius.  However, after living half his life around the Potters and the Weasleys - among others - Scorpius had developed a stern mask that no one could crack.

And, that in mind, he drew a silent deep breath and let calm wash over him.  Which was just as well, because Lavi was speaking to him.  “I’m fine,” he answered the concerned query, blank-faced.

After he seemed to realize Scorpius wouldn’t say anything more, Krory spoke.  “Well, good,” he said slowly.  “You were just so quiet.”

With an exaggerated sigh, Lavi tilted his head and regarded Scorpius. “I think he’s shy,” he proclaimed, then aimed a wink at the bedridden exorcist, “even more than you when we first brought you in!”

Krory looked at Lavi in surprise, then at Scorpius.  “Oh!  I see!  Well, Scorpius, there’s nothing to be shy about-”

“I’m not shy,” the blond deadpanned, slanting an annoyed look at Lavi.

Blink blink.  “You’re not?”  Krory looked at Lavi, then at Scorpius.  “Oh.”

Irritating...  Scorpius shrugged.  “I apologize if I was being rude.  I was just... erm... lost in thought, that’s all.”

For anyone else, the deflection would have worked, but this was Lavi. “Lost in thought hmm?” The redhead leaned toward him. “What about?” he chirped.

Scorpius leaned back slightly, expression going downright chilly.  “The purpose of a thought is that it is inside one’s head, and so not known to others,” he said softly.  “Why does it matter?”  Like hell he was going to tell the redhead that he’d been thinking about... well... him.  Lavi was definitely the sort of person that would intentionally take that the wrong way.

“Ah ah,” the annoying teen shook his finger at Scorpius. “Thoughts are vocalized through words, and what better way to get to know each other than through conversation? Only those who are shy avoid conversation.” Pause. “Unless you’re Yuu-chan. Then it’s a clear case of social constipation.” Lavi nodded with authority.

Scorpius blinked at that.  “‘Yuu-chan’?” he echoed bemusedly.  “Who is... oh.  That’s Kanda’s first name isn’t it?”  He frowned.  “Doesn’t he say he doesn’t like being called that?”  Clearly, Lavi was the sort that also ignored one’s wishes.  It would figure.

“There! See?” Lavi beamed at him. “You just spoke your thoughts out loud! Didn’t that feel good? You clearly want to talk to us. So!” The obnoxious twit propped both hands on his hips, both brows literally lost up in his red bangs. “What were you thinking about?”

Grey eyes had narrowed.  “Why do you want to know?” he retorted, a little annoyed.  It was so much easier dealing with a curious Albus, because all one had to do was hex him and walk away.  Scorpius didn’t know how Lavi would react (and a part of him was pretty sure that it would just doom him to eternal torment), so that wasn’t currently an option.  So how do I shake this idiot-  … Oh.  His eyes moved to look beyond Lavi’s shoulder, at Krory.  Whom was watching them both with avid, patient curiosity.  “You’re being rude, you know,” he said to the redhead.

“Oh, I don’t mind!” Krory protested, smiling.  “Please, go ahead and continue.”

Snrk! Lavi slapped a hand over his mouth, barely concealing his wide grin. “Fang-chan,” he squeaked out, “I love you, man.”

Krory blinked.  “Uh... Thank you?” he said, confused.  “Did I do something?”

Lowering his hand uncovered a surprisingly soft smile. “Aw, no. You’re just being yourself.” He reached out and patted the fanged exorcist on the shoulder. “Don’t worry about it.” Lavi twisted around to give Scorpius a smug grin. “I want to know because you’re far too quiet like Fang-chan said. We’re all here for the long run, so it’s good to get to know each other. And about Yuu-chan...” Lavi shrugged. “Sometimes, I think he’d forget his own name if I didn’t remind him of it.”

The Malfoy stared at the older boy in surprise.  Does he really think that way? he wondered.  “I... see...  That’s very kind of you, Lavi,” he said, brows lifting just so slightly.

“Bookman’s apprentice,” Lavi said, the smirk melting into a more sober expression. “In a way, I’m here to get to know people.” Hopping up onto the bed, he brought back his happy smile. “And that’s why I was asking. So, if you won’t say what you were thinking... How about telling me and Fang-chan about Hogwarts?”

Oddly, the younger boy’s own expression seemed to melt a bit.  Rather than it’s normal ice, though, it was... almost wistful.  “Hogwarts is...”  He frowned, eyes lowering as if to look at himself.  The exorcist uniform was so very different on him than the robes he’d worn for years.  “It’s a school, like any other, I suppose.  We had ghosts, which is something rare, I’ve realized.”

“Ghosts?  Really?” Krory asked, surprised.  “How is that possible?”

“I don’t know.  Violent deaths, I’ve been told,” Scorpius replied, looking at the vampire-like man.

A thoughtful Lavi tilted his head back, green gaze unfocused in thought. “Yuu said something about being able to see them. Even more, talk to one or two of them.” His eyebrows were up again. “Lucid, somewhat friendly spectres.” In a war with akuma, friendly ghosts were unexpected.

“Well, some of them were ‘somewhat friendly’.  Ah, but the Bloody Baron was quite stern!” Malfoy said, nodding almost as if to confirm it.  “He always got upset when people interrupted his ‘rest’.  Except we kept trying to tell him that he didn’t actually sleep.”

Krory smiled.  “You sound like you liked him.”

“The Baron?  Oh, I suppose, well enough,” Scorpius replied thoughtfully.  “You can say we had an understanding.  He was my House’s ghost.”

“Oh! That’s what I wanted to ask you,” Lavi’s attention snapped down onto the wizard. “What is the purpose of the sorting into the different Houses? And has the hat ever made a bad decision?”

Scorpius stuffed his hands into his pockets, adopting a very thoughtful expression... well, for him.  “Ah, well, actually, to begin with the reasoning was very petty and selfish.  It still is, to an extent.  In the beginning, the four wizards of Hogwarts each sought to accept only certain types of people into the school.  They could not agree on what kind, however, so they came up with the Housing system.

“Salazar Slytherin wanted the cunning and ruthless, with only the purest blood.  Godric Gryffindor wished for those students with pure hearts and bravery, and didn’t care for things like blood status.  Rowena Ravenclaw sought out the children with the most brilliant minds, and the intent only to further their knowledge for the sake of all wizard-kind.  As for Helga Hufflepuff, she was a very accepting witch, and believed that any witch or wizard should be able to learn their talents no matter their status, purity or personality.”

He seemed to come back to himself then, realizing he’d gone off on a tangent, and fought the urge to flush.  “Erm... as for your other question... No, the hat has never made an incorrect assessment.”

Lavi looked at him with wide eyes. Blinked. “You just quoted that whole thing, didn’t you?” At Scorpius’ jerky nod, the redhead grinned. “I don’t suppose you have textbooks on wizard history? Maybe I can take a look?”

Lowering his gaze to stare intently at his feet, Scorpius shrugged.  “All I have is a book on the school...  But you’re welcome to it,” he said softly.  “I... don’t need it anymore.”

“Oh, don’t say that,” Lavi said warmly. “It’s always good to have a bit of history with you. Alright! Fang-chan! I’m heading off. I’ll see you when you’re out, neh?”

The Malfoy gave the redhead a startled look.  Now?!

Krory nodded, brows lifting.  “Yes, of course.  Thank you for visiting.  I hope to see you again later, Scorpius.”

“Erm... yeah.  Later, sure,” the blond replied a bit distractedly.

“Good luck on your studies, Lavi!” Krory chirped.

And the hyper-active idiot dragged Scorpius out into the hall. “So do all wizards get their wands on their first year at school? Do they get them earlier? Are any of the wands made of metal, or are all of them made of wood? Do you use spells for everything? Are ghosts affected by spells? Are brooms the only thing you use to fly? What about...” Lavi trailed off. “Erm... Sorry.”

Scorpius gave him an icy glare.  He’d almost hexed the idiot silent.  “Some get them sooner, depending on the situation.  Wands are only wood, there are spells for everything, yes, but I don’t know them all so please don’t ask.  Ghosts are not affected by magic, no.  And flying is an enchantment, so in theory, it could be applied to anything.  Did I miss any of those questions?  Also, can you stop asking at least until we get the bloody book?”

Were eyes supposed to get that shiny? It’s not like the man was tearing up, but there was definitely something up with Lavi’s expression. Because the man was positively giddy. “No, you didn’t miss any questions and you said that the book was only on the school; not on everyday culture.” Lavi beamed at him. “But... I suppose I can save my questions until we get there. Speaking of,” he skipped ahead a bit, then turned around, “are we there yet?”

Must resist the urge to hex...  Maybe I should just escape now... arg, but I already said I’d let him have the book.  Right, then I’ll escape.  Perhaps I can catch Albus’ eye... no.  Bloody hell.  Scorpius glared at him.  “How old are you?  Eighteen?  Nineteen?  You need to learn some patience,” he scolded.

Lavi laughed, bringing his arms up to clasp behind his head. “Eighteen,” he chirped. “And patience is overrated.” Then the exorcist sighed and rolled his eye. “But I guess in this case, I will have to be. Since I’m not sure what you’ve done to your room’s door.”

So he does use that brain, Scorpius thought uncharitably, and wordlessly lengthened his stride, stalking ahead of the other.  Fortunately, it wouldn’t be a long walk, since the rooms (or at least, his) were just one level down.  They drew to a stop outside of his room, and he waved his hand over the door.  It pulsed with a faint brown light, and the light faded.  The blond pushed open the door and stuck his head in.  Good, he hasn’t figured out how to break the spell yet.

Satisfied that Albus hadn’t laid any traps, he stepped inside, leaving the door open for Lavi as he headed toward the wooden box in the corner.  “It’s in my trunk,” he said with as much calm as he could muster.

For once the bookman didn’t just bounce into the room. Instead Lavi peered at the door, the door frame, the threshold, even going so far as pressing the pads of his fingers to the wood frame. Finally, Lavi walked in, glanced at the box in question, then raised a brow at Scorpius. “No booby-traps?” he asked, brows raised.

The blond clicked open the lock and pocketed the key, pushing up the lid of the trunk.  “Ah, well, unless one is myself or my father, and they try to open it, they’ll get sucked inside and left there until I decide to let them out.”  He shrugged and smiled at Lavi.  It was that Dark Lord smile he’d used that morning.  “Oh, that reminds me, I think I left someone in there... ah well.”

Lavi blinked once, then peered into the trunk. “Hmm, well, it looks clean. No juices. And there’s just enough room...” Humming, he shot a look at Scorpius. “So, the book?”

Grey eyes narrowed suspiciously, but Scorpius turned his gaze back to the trunk.  He shifted aside a pile of neatly folded robes, and what looked like a jewelry box, before picking up a particular book.  Satisfied, Scorpius shifted it to one arm and closed the trunk, locking it again before getting up.  He held out the book.  “This is it.”

“Thanks!” The redhead took the text with careful fingers, and grinned. “About that trap... If someone were holding on to you, would they still get sucked in? Or say holding on to... maybe the bed or a chair? Is there air?”

“Just the person would be sucked in.  I would not be.  And yes, there’s air.” I think.

“Hmm... Would their clothing be left behind?”

Scorpius frowned at him.  He had a niggling suspicion about this line of questioning.  “No.”

Lavi grinned a little wider. “Okay! I’ll see you for lunch? Dinner?” He pouted. “At least, by dinner please.”

Frowning further, Scorpius shrugged.  “If you’re in the cafeteria.”

One side of the redhead’s mouth quirked up. “Aw. You’re so hard to pin down! Dinner date it is!” And the idiot reached down, fingers grabbing at the handle of the locked trunk.

The Malfoy blinked as he watched the other male vanish into the trunk.  He actually tried it?  He looked down at the floor, where Hogwarts: A History sat innocently on the carpet.  “Moron,” he muttered, and left him there after setting the book on the night stand.

Meanwhile, in the dark confines of the wooden box, Lavi activated his hammer and looked around in the cheerful glow. Oh drat, I dropped the book. Glancing about, Lavi realized he was tiny and indeed in the trunk. This is AWESOME!

Jumping up and down, he tested the ground, er, cloth that he stood on. It was stable, if wobbly.

“Alright!” He extended the handle of the hammer and sailed off to the far side of the trunk. If Scorpius was going to leave him in here, he may as well look at the things in here with him.

I wonder if that jewelry box is trapped as well?

Chapter Text

“Of course it was a trap, Komui,” Kanda said flatly. “When is it ever not a trap?” Sadly, now a days, that was the truth. “There never was any Innocence here, just Road.”

The golem dipped in the air, almost transmitting the distress from the Chief.  “So many...  You said she even took out the finders?  That’s the third massacre this year.”  Which was saying a lot, since the year wasn’t even close to halfway through yet.  “What about Allen?  Is he at least conscious?

The youth in question looked up from the chair he was resting in.

“He’s awake.” Kanda shot the injured exorcist a glare. He shouldn’t be, but he is. “Hold on.” And he gestured at the golem to hover over Walker.

‘Massacre’ was an apt description. Half the town dead, the other half converted into akuma. Walker had nearly walked into a wall when his eye started up. Somehow Road had hidden the damn things behind one of her doors. Once the two exorcists had wandered into the deserted town, the akuma had been turned loose. And in the flood of level ones were three level twos and a smug Noah. They had only found the ashes and uniforms of the two finders after the battle, when Road had blown a kiss at Walker and skipped through her red-padded door. Kanda was getting tired of their ‘dates’.

Allen blinked and waved, smiling wanly.  “Hi, Chief,” he said.  “I’m alright.  Be good as new soon.”

Good to hear,” Komui said, relieved.  “How soon can we expect the both of you back?

Shrugging, Kanda answered, “Three days. We can probably reach a train station in the next town.” He grimaced. “Provided that one is still intact.” With their luck, Road was waiting there too. Or Tyki.

Alright.  Good luck, and be careful.  Oh!  Also, pick up a belated present for James’ birthday!  You wouldn’t want him to think you’re-

Allen was grinning when Kanda slammed the phone into its cradle.  “James’ birthday... that’s right, he’s eighteen now.  Hey, Kanda, that means he’s legal...” He was still grinning as he leaned to the side, dodging the golem as Kanda pelted it at him.

“You shut the fuck up.”

The other male stuck his tongue out in answer.

Kanda sat down and glared out across the wreckage of the school they sat in, broken chairs and crushed desks scattered in shards of wood. Fuck. “I don’t even know what he would want,” he admitted softly, then hit himself in the head as Walker snickered. “Well what are you getting him?” Kanda demanded.

“I was going to give him a photo book,” Allen replied, grin softening.  “He kind of seems like the sort that would want the thoughtful things, so I figured he could take pictures and stuff... maybe you should get him the camera.”

Kanda was already nodding. Wait. “You got him an album, and you know he doesn’t have a camera.”

The pale-haired exorcist gave Kanda an innocent look.  “Must have slipped my mind,” he replied.

“Fucker.” Kanda turned and went back to gazing over the shells of former shops.

A calculating look settled over Allen’s face, lips pulling upwards into a grin that was probably far too sinister for Kanda’s good.  Luckily (for Allen), the Japanese exorcist didn’t notice, since he was looking the other way.  “Oh, you know... I know exactly what you should get him.  I think it’s something he’ll really like!”  The smile turned kindly as soon as Kanda looked at him.

Skeptical, but still willing to go along (the camera wasn’t a bad idea), the other exorcist narrowed his eyes and asked anyway. “What?”

The beatific smile didn’t change one iota.  “You should give him your body.”

Two minutes later, Kanda was again scowling out at the scenery, only this time he felt a little better.

Moyashi on the other hand was only looking at the inside of his eyelids and would be for a few hours yet.

xXx

A little bit after lunch, Albus went off in search of Scorpius.  He found his friend sitting on his bed, reading a book.  While it wasn’t out of the ordinary for Scorpius to want alone time, it was a bit strange for him to do so in his room.  The place was all but bare, and Scorpius liked to actually do things.  Albus wouldn’t have been surprised if the Malfoy were... say, in the library, for instance.  He just rarely ever shut himself up in his room.

Still, the Potter shrugged it off, spying the pile of books beside his friend.  “Ah, socializing getting to be too much for the snakey Malfoy?” he asked, grinning in the doorway.

Scorpius gave his contented cat smile.  “No, I’m socializing,” he replied calmly.

His friend frowned at him suspiciously.  “With who?”  He glanced around just in case he’d missed anyone, but there was no one else present.

“It’s a secret,” the blond replied.  “Did you need something?”

That reminded him of his mission, and he promptly forgot all about the weird conversation.  “Oh!  Right, my mum and dad are here.  C’mon, they want you to join us for a little bit.”

Getting up and closing the book, his friend nodded.  The mask settled on his face once more.  “Of course.  I’ll have to stop by here before dinner, though.”

“Huh?  Why?”

But his friend didn’t answer and shoo’d Albus from the room, before closing the door.  “Alright.”

Albus huffed and grabbed him by the wrist - Scorpius knew better than to fight it - and dragged him off to meet up with the others in the lounge.  “Mum!  Dad!  I got ‘im!”

Looking up, Harry smiled as he watched his youngest pulled the smaller version of Draco into the room. “I see what you mean,” he said to James, and the two shared a grin. In a way, getting the two young wizards out of Hogwarts was a good thing. They seemed much more at ease without the expectations from the wizarding world.

Grey eyes narrowed thoughtfully at him, but Scorpius offered a nod.  “Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Potter,” he greeted.

Albus smirked.  “Don’t mind him.  He still likes to pretend he’s Mr. Snakey Slytherin.”

“I will always be a Slytherin,” was the predictable retort.

There was a chuckle from the elder Potter. “And Draco thanks Merlin for that every day,” Harry assured the Slytherin, “especially after you met first James and then Albus. How have you been Scorpius? Your father and mother send their regards.”

“Please return them.  I will send a letter as soon as I am able,” Scorpius replied.  “I am well.  I have been... ah, experimenting with some spells lately.  Wards on the door and one or two on my trunk...”

Ginny grinned.  “Are you enjoying yourself here?  Albus tells us that you’ve fit in since day one!”

“Ah, I suppose.  The people are nice enough,” Scorpius said, then added mentally, even if a few lack basic common sense.

Over on the couch, James coughed. “Most people are nice enough,” he corrected, thinking of course of certain people. “The exorcists are definitely eccentric. Even by wizarding standards.”

Harry turned to regard his oldest. “What about the finders? Or the science division?” The letters from Albus were full of details and ramblings of the day’s events. James’ in contrast were far more subdued.

“Finders make a point of being able to blend into muggle populations,” James said with a shrug, “and the science department... well, they have their own oddballs.” The Chief being king of them all.

“Like that pain in the ass Komui!” Albus growled, grimacing.  “He’s been-”

Scorpius “accidentally” stepped on his foot, Not Smirking when his friend yelped.  “Oh, apologies.  You should watch where you’re standing,” he said flatly, and offered the elder Potters a smile.

Ginny’s smile twitched.  She knew exactly what that boy had done.  But she decided to let it go.  “Alby, sit down.”

Glaring mutinously at his friend, the youngest Potter obeyed.

“He’s been our host for the past three months? Given us a place to train and learn and feel accepted for all that we are or have been?” James asked archly, head canted to the side. “Granted, he did poke and prod when we first arrived.” Not to mention, slap them into quarantine and ran several tests on their wands before dragging them out to the next available akuma sighting to judge the effect the spells had on the abominations. I don’t blame the man though.

Scorpius finally sat down, thoughtful.  “Well, I’ll admit that Chief Komui is a bit... unorthodox,” he said slowly.  “But he’s an effective leader.  It’s thanks to him that things run so smoothly.”  Though, from what he’d gathered by listening to candid conversations around him, that was stretching things a bit.  Still, Komui did what he could, and Malfoy couldn’t really fault him for that.

“Anyway, how have you been?  What’s the local news from the wizarding world?” he asked, deciding it was prudent to change the subject before Ginny found out about Albus’ multiple turn-downs.

Sitting back in his seat, James listened with half an ear as the talk turned to the various mysteries that the Aurors were dealing with now: a few disappearances, some odd break-ins, the occasional family heirloom gone missing. There was some happy news with weddings that had happened or were in the planning stages. Unsurprisingly, George’s business was doing rather well. In short, after a few minutes of letting the updates flow by, James was a little alarmed to realize that his father was just a bit... bored... with his current lifestyle. Oh dear.

“--and then that was it,” Dad muttered, shrugging. “Ron locked the fellow behind bars, Gringotts was appeased, and I didn’t even... er... no one needed to lift a wand.”

“Oh, I see,” Scorpius murmured thoughtfully.  “Well I’m glad the matter was closed so... cleanly.”

Albus looked bored too, though in a bit of a different way.  “Hey...  Dad, can I have a word?  It’s uh... important.  Yeah.”

Curiosity piqued, James watched as Dad merely nodded and excused the two of them from the room. He glanced at Mum and raised an eyebrow. “Is it just me, or did Dad sound restless?”

Ginny sighed.  “No, it’s not just you,” she murmured.  “I think he misses the old days... just a bit.  And now that you three are out here fighting, he can’t even protect you like he used to.”

“He does seem to have gotten rather good at his job,” Scorpius said, brows lifting.  “It’s to be expected that things would get peaceful.”

The birthday boy shifted uneasily. “He can’t jump into this one, Mum. Curses work on the lowest levels of akuma, it’s proven, but Komui won’t even try us on anything higher unless he has absolutely no choice. You know Dad would crash headlong into any fight, even if he’s told to stay behind. Maybe later, much later, Kumoi would allow Aurors to join. Just, right now, things are almost changing on the exorcists on a weekly basis.”

It felt so weird to be the one to tell Mum that Dad was safer at home. It was strange and worrying. It wasn’t that Dad was old in any sense of the word, the man was still fit as a fiddle. No, it was that any non-exorcist was in danger. One scratch, one too many breaths of poison, and that was all it took.

Brown eyes lifted to meet green, and Ginny swallowed.  “War is always dangerous, James,” she murmured.  “You’re right.  I’ll try my best to keep him idle a while longer, but...  you know as well as I do that your father won’t be appeased by that for long.  As soon as he figures out a way that he can help...”  She grimaced.  “Well, he knows magic works, but for now that isn’t enough and he knows it.”

Scorpius frowned as he looked between the worried two.  “I ask that you please excuse me for saying so...”  He waited until the attention shifted to him.  “But Mr. Potter’s presence on the field would only endanger James and Albus, both of which would undoubtedly risk their lives for him.  Not only that, but if he died...”  Scorpius’ eyes narrowed.  “Albus isn’t strong enough yet to resist the Earl, not if his father is involved.”

Distressed now, James shook his head. “But he knows what the Earl offers. We all do.” It didn’t matter though, knowing or not. Losing Dad... He shook his head harder and chafed his arms. “In any case, he has to stay away. Maybe there’s something else besides fighting he can help with. I can ask the science division. A lot of the times, I don’t have the answers to their questions. Maybe Dad will?”

Ginny looked relieved.  “We’ll see,” she said with a faint smile.  “Thank you both for your concern.”

Before either of them could reply, the door opened and Albus trounced back in, followed by his father.  “Presents, James!  All for you!” he chirped, and paused.  “Eh?  Where’s the funeral?”

Scorpius rolled his eyes.  “James, perhaps you should make sure those aren’t hexed before you open them,” he said, nodding to the parcels that both newly returned men carried.

Barely with-holding the flinch that his younger brother had induced, James snorted and glanced at his mother. She only smiled. No help there. “Alright, put them down here,” he patted the empty spot on the couch beside him. I’ll just deal with my challenges one at a time.

And the cheerful presents tumbled down.

xXx

A rumble fit enough to rival Allen’s echoed through the shadowy space inside Malfoy’s trunk. Lavi didn’t even bother to blush. There wasn’t anyone around to notice anyway. Besides, the family album he had dragged up was fascinating.

The pictures move! Lavi was beside himself with glee. If only there was a way to take pictures like this out of the wizarding world. Brief snippets of personality. The few flickers of lightning over the mountains. The clash of armies, swords, words. The people in these pictures frowned, scowled, smiled, turned their heads, gestured, twitched, shrugged, or stubbornly stayed still. Actually, most of them took on the icy demeanour of Kanda two seconds before Mugen cleared its saya. Family trait for sure.

Straightening up from the last page, Lavi chuckled and gazed down at two pages dedicated to the second youngest Malfoy. “Awww, look at those chubby cheeks!”

That was when there was the sudden sound of metal clanking on metal, followed by the tumble of a lock.  The lid was lifted, and before he knew it, Lavi was tumbling out onto the carpet.  “Enjoy yourself?” a voice demanded flatly.  Pause.  “Snoop.”  The trunk slammed closed.

Blinking up at the stone slabs that made up the ceiling, Lavi felt the world settle in place. Then smiled. “Immensely. You could have left me a book,” he said smoothly, “or taken me out of there immediately.” Tilting his head from his position on the floor, he grinned at Scorpius. “Your pictures move!”

Scorpius looked surprised for a moment before his usual mask returned.  He held out his hand for Lavi.  “Yours don’t?” he asked curiously.

Somehow, Lavi managed to look tragic even while sprawled upside down, legs half propped up on the bedside stand. “No,” he sniffed, grasping the wizard’s hand. “Just still images. Wait! Do you have a magic camera?” he asked as soon as Scorpius half-pulled him up to stand.

“What do I look like?” Scorpius snapped icily, turning away from him to lock up the trunk.  “Of course I don’t.”

“Hmm...” Lavi paused. Looked at Scorpius, head to toe, and back again. “Like a Malfoy.” Family traits after all. The teen really did resemble the family: blond hair, pale skin, pride and glory, and a slice of icy contempt for idiots.

The blond stood, frowning suspiciously at the other exorcist.  After a beat, he decided to take the words at face value.  “We should hurry to dinner,” he said.  “It’s going to start in a few minutes.”

A wide smile split the exorcist’s face. “You did let me out for our date!”

“Uhg,” Scorpius said in response, and stalked to the door.  “Out.  Now.  Or I will hex you.”

Lavi wilted. “Aww. Um, well, can I take the book with me? I didn’t get a chance to... read it...” Cue the puppy eyes. Big shiny emerald eyes. With a hint of tears.

Grey eyes narrowed, and the blond snatched the book in question off the bedside table.  “I said you can have it, didn’t I?  I have no use for that anymore,” he said, holding it out impatiently.  “Keep it.”

Once again, Lavi took the book reverently. “Thanks Scorpius,” he said. And then as he walked out of the room, “I’ll return it later!”

Scorpius huffed.  “Fine, do what you want,” he said, and closed the door behind him, having also stepped out.  He took out his wand and quickly cast the warding spell, before heaving a sigh.  Stupid, frustrating, irresponsible...  Potters.  Uhg, and that Lavi too!  The lot of them.  And the worry on Mrs. Potter’s face...  He swallowed, eyes narrowing on the door.  He clenched his fists, then lifted his right hand.

The sight of the ring calmed him somewhat.  He let the irritation seep out of his expression, and turned.  Scowled instantly.  So much for calming.  “Didn’t you leave already?” he demanded.

The non-Weasley redhead was standing just a yard away, nose buried in the first two pages of the textbook. He waved a hand. “Waiting for you,” he murmured. “This is great!” And miracles of miracles, didn’t say anything else.

Oh Merlin, give me patience please.  Obviously I don’t have enough on my own to deal with this twit.  Without a single word - he just knew he was liable to just hex the older boy - Scorpius stalked down the hall toward the stairs.  However, rather than continuing down four levels to reach the dining hall, he only went two and headed toward the lounge.

Two minutes down the hall and he stopped.  Turned.  Glared.  “The dining hall is that way,” he said, pointing at the stairs.

Even with all his attention seemingly on the historical text, Lavi nodded. “Waiting for you.” And glanced up only long enough to grace Scorpius with an absent-minded smile.

“I’m not going to the dining hall,” Scorpius replied flatly.

That’s when they were spotted.  “Oh!  Scorpius!  There you are!” Albus called, hurrying over.  He’d been on his way to see what was taking his friend so long.  “Hurry up!  You should see the- oh, hi, Lavi.  You coming too?  So that’s where you went, Scorpius.”

“Hum?” Lavi blinked, glancing from one wizard to the other. “Uh, yes! I’m along for the party!”

Scorpius’ face had gone very, very blank.  “I really don’t-”

“Great, the more the merrier!  Jeri made a lot of food,” Albus said, grabbing Scorpius and dragging him along down the hall.  “Mum gave him the recipe for pumpkin juice!  He made it!”

Standing in the middle of hall, dazed and alone, Lavi gaped after them. “Pumpkin juice? Oh, this I gotta try!” Snapping the book closed on one finger, the bookman chased after them.

Once they’d entered the lounge - which was decorated with streamers and balloons and a big banner saying ‘Happy Birthday James!’ - the two wizards were all but pounced on by an excited Ginny.  “There you are, Scorpius!  Ohh, who’s this?” she asked, eyes focusing on Lavi.  “A friend?  Hullo!  I’m Ginny Potter, Albus and Jimmy’s mum!”  She held her hand out.

“Hello Mrs Potter!” Lavi shook her hand enthusiastically. “Lavi, Bookman clan. I heard there was pumpkin juice! But first, I gotta say hi to Jimmy.” He grinned all the wider. “Nice to meet you!”

She beamed, releasing his hand.  “Nice to meet you too.  Jimmy’s over there with his father and Miss Lenalee.”  The ginger lady motioned toward her eldest, whom sported bright fuschia hair and turquoise skin.  “Scorpius, introduce him to Harry, please?  I have to get a few things from the fridge.  Alby, come give Mummy a hand!”

“Erm!  Okay, mum,” Albus said with wide eyes.  He let his mother haul him off for the corner of the room, where two long tables of food sat, accompanied by the lounge refrigerator.

Scorpius’ expression was downright chilly.  “This way,” he grumbled.  If he shoo’d Lavi out now, Mrs. Potter would just ask questions.

Thankfully, Lavi’s attention was completely taken up by the sight of James under the influence of a few hexes and one or two beers. Though the redhead did ask, “What’s written across his forehead?”

Scorpius squinted, stopped mid-step, and lowered his head.  A moment passed.  “‘Albus was here’,” he said finally, voice strained.

Satisfied all around, Lavi grinned as he stood by the Slytherin. “Oh, wait, wait.” Leaning a bit to the side, he gestured at Scorpius to follow. They circled around to the back of James instead of his the front. Lavi raised an eyebrow. There was another word shaved into the back of the birthday boy’s head.

The blond snorted softly and covered his mouth, turning away with shaking shoulders.  My best friend is amazing, he thought, hiding his grin.  There on James’ head for everyone to see, Albus had put the word ‘Beef’.

Noting his companion’s smug and struggling expression, Lavi smirked. “I can go say hi to Mr. Beef and he can introduce me to Harry if you need a moment.”

As if he’d been doused with ice water, Scorpius snapped straight, amusement vanishing.  “One does not disobey Mrs. Potter,” he replied cryptically, and lead the way back around.  He waited for Harry to finish speaking to Lenalee before clearing his throat and stepping forward.  “Mr. Potter?  This is another associate of ours, Lavi.  He’s an exorcist as well.”

Suppressing an inner sigh, Lavi had said he could wait (and was ignored), the exorcist smiled and offered his hand. “Hello Mr. Potter. Pleased to meet you. I swear, your son was not those colours yesterday.”

Smirking, Harry grasped the redhead’s hand. “Pleasure is mine.” He chuckled. “It’s a family tradition to see how many colours we can turn the birthday prey into. I’m looking forward to seeing what the science division can come up with.”

Beside the Potter patriarch, Lenalee giggled. “You should go say hi to James-kun, Lavi. Take a good look at his eyes!”

Red eyebrows uplifted, Lavi grinned. “I think I will! Oh Mr. Beef-cakes!” he called out, bouncing off to the blue and pink man.

Lenalee dissolved into laughter as Harry shook his head smiling.

Scorpius grimaced.  That idiot would fit right in, wouldn’t he?  My life is never going to be easy again.  I hope they don’t try to adopt him.  He was the right coloring...  Oh Merlin, please no.  Get these thoughts out of my damn head!

After a moment, Lenalee excused herself and went to help Ginny with the place settings on the various tables. With Scorpius bringing in an unexpected guest, Ginny was shifting the seats around. Of course, Lavi would be sitting next to Malfoy...

Harry noticed with bemused curiosity as the slim Chinese girl left, a bright grin on her face.

Scorpius turned his attention to the eldest Potter.  “I suppose you’re still plotting out your own pranks?” he asked suspiciously.

“Of course. Not sundown yet,” Harry replied, “though I have to admit, James has deflected a good number of them. How has he been?”

Grey eyes lifted to take in Harry’s expression, and Scorpius shrugged.  “Much better than I had hoped,” he admitted.  “He gets along with most everyone, even some that don’t play well with others.”  He looked over as Albus joined Lavi and James, pouncing his brother with a sticky note.  “I’m not worried about James.”

Humming, Harry nodded. “I heard about Mr. Kanda. Minerva was rather vocal. Merlin, the boy would get along with Moody if the man were still with us.” He rolled his shoulders once, then slanted a look at the Slytherin. “Has Albus given you cause to worry?”

Scorpius scoffed.  “Albus always worries me,” he replied, and sighed.  He knew what Harry meant.  “Not in so much... sometimes he still treats this like a prison sentence.  He’s gotten better of course, and before you ask, no he wouldn’t leave even if given the chance.  I just wish he’d actually try to make attachments.  He hasn’t been trying at all, except for myself and James.”

“So Miss Lenalee and Lavi are here for who? Only James?” Harry frowned. “And what about Mr. Walker?”

Scorpius nodded as he looked at Harry.  “Allen?  Well, I think Allen is fine with Albus, but there isn’t an attachment, no.  Don’t get me wrong, Albus talks to everyone, and hits on the girls a lot.  But he’s just doing it like it’s a game.  He knows no one will accept and as long as he keeps his hands to himself, no one minds him asking.”

With a soft sigh, Harry seemed to deflate slightly. “I was afraid of that,” he muttered. “Maybe if...” he trailed off before rallying. “Thank you, Scorpius. Please, don’t mind me. I shouldn’t be digging for sour news like this while at a birthday party. My son’s no less. Anyway, my wife is flapping her hands at me. I think it’s time to sit down.”

The youth snorted and walked over to the tables.  Frowned at the arrangement of name cards.  Or, to be slightly more specific, the seats ‘Lavi’ and ‘Scorpius’ right next to each other.  He snatched up Lavi’s card and switched it out with Lenalee’s, then took his seat.  So there.

“I saw that,” Albus said as he sat next to his friend, grinning.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Scorpius replied stonily.

There was a light laugh from his other side as Lenalee spotted Lavi’s card. “Lavi!” she called. “Your seat is here!” And directed the exorcist to sit in his newly appointed seat. The girl ignored the pout from the redhead and ruffled his wavy hair as she leaned down to whisper something in his ear. Giggling, she left him to take her own spot.

“I haven’t seen him all day!” Lenalee exclaimed to the blond wizard as she sat down. “How did he end up following you in here?”

Bloody-  Scorpius’ brow twitched.  “I haven’t the faintest.”

Albus blinked as a thought occurred to him, and he eyed his friend.  “Yeah, how did he end up following y-EEE!”  He jerked his foot out from under Scorpius’ heel and glared at the frosty-faced bastard.

Ginny blinked at them as she sat.  “Alby?” Thankfully, she didn’t notice the sudden sputtering from the redhead several seats down.

“M’fine,” the youngest Potter whimpered, leaning down to rub his foot.

The other girl at the table frowned slightly, gaze shifting between the two friends. Finally, she turned to look at Lavi who sat on her other side. “What is up with you guys?” she asked exasperatedly.

In turn, Lavi gave her an innocent wide eyed look, which was somewhat spoiled by him half covered in pumpkin juice. “‘Alby’,” he deadpanned.

Albus leaned forward and scowled at him.  “If you tell anyone, I will hex you so bad you won’t even remember your own name,” he growled.

“Albus Potter!  That’s no way to speak to your friends!” Ginny scolded.

“But Mum-!”

“No buts, sir!  If you don’t knock it off right now...” she said slowly, and left the rest up to his over-active imagination.  Because, like mother like son, apparently.  “Apologize this instant!”

The youth in question suppressed a full-body twitch.  “I-am-so-sorry-Lavi,” he said quickly.

“Where I can hear you!”

“I’m sorry Lavi, won’t happen again!” Albus squeaked.

Scorpius suppressed a vindictive smirk.

Wide eyed for now a completely different reason, Lavi quailed under the demanding gaze of one Mrs. Potter. Holy Mother! Not even Ojiji could faze her! “Uh, apology accepted, Albus. No worries. None at all. None whatsoever.” Whatever words it took to get Ginny to look somewhere else, he’d say it!

“Ginny, darling,” Harry grinned as he stood behind his wife and rested both hands on her shoulders. He leaned down to kiss her brow. “I think they get the point.”

Ginny twisted around, expression relaxing.  “I hope so!” she replied.  “Mr. Komui was so kind, he even gave me a map to Alby’s room!”

Oh dear Merlin, save me, Albus thought, paling.

Scorpius coughed lightly into his hand.  “At any rate...  Mrs. Potter...  How’s your Quidditch team doing?”

One seat over, Lenalee blinked and turned to face Lavi again. “Quidditch?”

Lavi shrugged. Then brightened. He pulled out the book he had tucked into his jacket, safely away from juice that splashed. He rifled through some of the pages, grinning at Lenalee’s startled gasp at the fleeting pictures. Aha!

Leaning right over the book, both exorcists immersed themselves in the chapter about a game on broomsticks and half-sentient flying balls (most of which were as nasty as Kanda).

At the head of the table, James looked over the spread of food, drink, family, and friends. Not bad for my eighteenth. Though, if he could wish...

Chapter Text

“Oh man, it is so unbelievably good to be back home,” Allen said as he straightened his shirt-sleeves.  They had just been looked over by the medical staff, and he was friggin’ starving.  “Let’s go get something to eat, Ka-”  He stopped, as Kanda was already walking out.  “Arg, wait up!”  He snatched his jacket off the bed, waved at the medic and hurried after the Japanese male.  “Did you decide what to give him?  We might catch him in the cafeteria, you know.”

But Kanda only sent him a narrow-eyed glare and marched on. Moyashi could go eat, he wanted a bath. Now.

“Oh fine, be that way you gir-”

“WATCH OUT!”

Neither had a chance to do anything but whip around as something came sailing at them.  Or, rather, someone.  Two someones.  Both Potter boys, and guess whom of the two crashed into Kanda?

Stupify!” a voice cried, accompanied by the sound of sneakers squeaking on tile.

The ball that had been headed toward the heap-that-was-James-and-Kanda froze mid-air and fell with a solid thunk.  Albus hurried over.  “James!  Are you alright?  Did you get hurt?!” he demanded, eyes wide with panic.

Squinting to see past the black dots that danced across his vision, Kanda huffed. Funny enough, because of Quidditch practice, this was almost nostalgic. “James?”

The teenager sprawled on top of him groaned. “You’re kidding me."

“You’re fine then,” Kanda grunted, then snarled, “What the FUCK is a bludger doing here?”

Allen blinked as Albus flushed bright red.  “Uh...”

“Sorry,” the younger Potter muttered.  “My fault.  Sort of.  I asked Lenalee out, and apparently Lavi and Komui have been plotting things together...”

“What.” Actually... “KOMUI!!”

Laughing half-hysterically, James quickly rolled off the agitated Japanese and they all watched as the man sprinted up the halls. “I know you’re supposed to report to the Chief once you arrive... but I don’t think Kanda has ever shown that much enthusiasm before.”

“Does that mean he isn’t going to beat me up?” Albus asked dazedly, eyes wide.

Allen snorted.  “I’m hungry,” he said instead of answering, and started for the cafeteria.

Albus held a hand out for his brother, bemused.  “... I kind of want to watch.  I know you want to watch.  Let’s follow Kanda,” he said, grinning widely.

“Hell yes. Just keep an eye on that thing,” his brother gasped out, taking Albus’ hand and heaving himself to his feet. “We don’t know how fast they’ve set the recovery on it. Who knows if it can move again before a minute is up.”

The younger nodded and scooped the ball up.  “Alright, let’s go,” he said, and hurried off after Kanda.

Several halls ahead and already at the stairs... Kanda was busy envisioning all the painful things he could do and still not kill the idiot Chief. Obviously, there were things Kanda could live through that Komui couldn’t, but anyone would be surprised at how much a human body could survive. And the bastard really didn’t need his legs, did he? If he didn’t need his legs, then Kanda would be happy to start at his toes and ankles and then just work his way up. Yes, envisioning your goals was a good practice. It gave you focus and a clear direction to go...

And as long as Lenalee didn’t put in an appearance, or that damned robot, then everything should go according to Kanda’s plans.

Two more flights of stairs. Almost there. People were even being sensible and scrambling out of the way well before he needed to pass them. Some common sense after all. If Kanda hadn’t been so focused on taking Komui’s lower limbs off at the hip sockets, he would have noticed that he was accumulating quite the following. What wasn’t clear was whom of his followers were there to stop him… or merely watch the carnage.

However, when he finally got to Komui’s office, it was deserted... except for Scorpius, who was tied up and left on the floor.  He looked livid.

Almost as pissed as Kanda. Growling, Kanda took the three steps into the office and flipped out the knife Albus had given him month before. One quick snk! and the gag over Scorpius’ mouth was free to be spat out.

“Where is he?” Kanda demanded.

Scorpius scowled darkly.  “He went with Lavi to the labs.  Please make him scream.”

Albus skidded into the room.  Blinked.  Burst into laughter.

His older brother made it into the room just in time to see Kanda draw Mugen and slice through Malfoy’s bindings. Then the Japanese man charged right back out of the room and through the gasping crowd at the door... leaving a newly freed, and ticked, Scorpius.

Hmm, I think I’ll follow Kanda... It looked like Albus was going to be dealing with his own beat down. “Good luck, Albus!”

His brother just gave him a cheeky grin, a jaunty wave, and turned to point and laugh at Scorpius.  The Malfoy lunged like a grade-schooler.

With barely a breath left to laugh, James sprinted after his ex-roommate. Oh, what in Merlin’s name am I doing? he thought disgustedly and grabbed a nearby chair. May as well do this in style.

Three seconds later, James was sitting, quite comfortably, as he, and the chair he was on, sailed through the halls. Ah, that’s better. He was getting a few disgusted looks from his former fellow runners, but a few grins as well. I think I’m getting used to this place.

Meanwhile, in the labs...

“I’m getting a very uneasy feeling,” Komui said thoughtfully, frowning at Lavi across from him.  “Like...  You know, that feeling you get when someone’s walked on your grave...”  He frowned further.  “Except I don’t have a grave...”

His accomplice tilted his head. “Hmm...” Lavi closed his eyes, listened to the sounds of the universe, felt the vibrations of the world around him, and nodded. “Yuu-chan is back,” he said with complete conviction. His green eyes blinked open just a moment before he frowned. “I think he’s pissed.”

Komui’s eyes widened, and he looked around.  “What?  Why?  Why ever could he be-”  He paused, frowning thoughtfully.  “I seem to recall there was a disturbance earlier...  an unpleasant moment where my dear Lenalee was threatened...  But the details escape me.”

“Hide anyway?” Lavi suggested.

“This is a very good point, Lavi, however...”  He smiled, the lenses of his glasses glinting despite the darkness of the room.  “I am no coward!”  Pause.  “I shall defend myself!”  He turned to a huge, shadowy lump near the back of the room.  “Kaumlin!  Defend your master!” he cried dramatically.

Green eyes glowed to life immediately, and Komui quickly inserted, “Guard the door!  If anyone but my dear, sweet Lenalee tries to enter, destroy them like vermin!”

The robot immediately left, and Komui beamed at his redheaded cohort.  “Anyway, so the snitch!  I had this idea for the internal workings...”

“KOMUI.”

Lavi lifted a hand and waved. “Yuu-chan! Welcome home!”

Looming by the door, the robot waited, hulking and silent; the exorcist had yet to cross the threshold.

Kanda twitched.

“Yes, Kanda?  Was there something you required?” Komui asked with beguiling sweetness.  “Glad to see you’re as healthy as always, by the way.”

“Why is there a fucking bludger in the halls?”

“Oh, did it hit you?  My apologies!  That sinister Albus was attempting to steal away my dearest sister, so I had to punish him brutally.”  Komui beamed.  “Hope it didn’t do you any damage!”

“It almost hit James.”

Komui blinked.  Oh.  “O-oh, really... it was programed to go after Albus... DNA locating... perhaps it was the wrong toothbrush...”

“Toothbrush...”

“Erm... Yes...”  Komui coughed.  If only that heathen hadn’t gone after my Lenalee!  Oh forget this!  “KAUMLIN!  ATTACK KANDA!”  And he raced for the escape door.

Kanda drew Mugen, again, as the giant contraption shuddered to life and angled its head down to face him. He narrowed his eyes on it. It flashed its green eyes at him.

“Fine. You first,” he told the bot. “Lavi, you’re next.”

“Eep?”

There was a whooshing noise behind him, and James coasted to a halt. Kanda muttered, “And you can chase down Komui and take your own grievances out on him.”

The Potter grinned, tipped an imaginary hat, and sailed off, past the robot and the slack-jawed idiot.

“Mugen, activate.”

Kanda stood glaring at the bot. Stress relief. This didn’t have to be salvaged. “You have fifteen seconds, Lavi.”

“Not my idea?”

“Bullshit.”

xXx

Half an hour later...

“Brother.” Lenalee shook her head as she gazed down at her self-proclaimed protector who was now sporting elephant ears, green and orange striped skin, and frog eyes. He also spoke in a woman’s voice, shockingly similar to her own.

He sniffled.  “I was only concerned!  That hooligan is a real problem!” he whined.

“Hooli-”

Scorpius yanked on Albus’ hair to shut him up, getting a yelp and a glare for his trouble.  “The altercation is over now.  Shut up.”  He glanced around, eyes narrowed, but Lavi was nowhere in sight.  The sneaky redhead must have escaped.

“A toothbrush?” Lenalee asked her brother, disappointment in her tone. “After all those tests and those samples, and their own blood supply. You used a toothbrush? The wrong one?” She sighed.

Across the room, sitting by his brother’s hospital bed, James shrugged. “To be honest, we should have been able to stop it before anyone got hurt. In fact, only I suffered any harm. Kanda was healed by the time he made it down to the labs.” But if it had been anyone else, like a finder, or someone from the science division, it could have been bad. He sighed. “Look, I can take the hexes off...”

Komui perked.  “Really?  Oh, you’re so kind, James!”  Standing over him, Lenalee smiled and echoed her brother’s sentiment.

Scorpius blinked, and then smirked inwardly.

“... and this time, I won’t tell Mum. In turn, you won’t tell her about my hexes either.” Really, the whole thing had escalated to ridiculous proportions. It was hard not to get caught up in Kanda’s energy.

The Chief gulped.  “Deal,” he said, going pale.

Nodding, James rose up from his chair and brought out his wand.

A few minutes later, when the head nurse had finally authorized both Albus’ and Komui’s release, James held the door open for the Chief. “Goodnight, sorry for the trouble.”

Komui nodded and hurried out with his sister, and Albus frowned, eying his brother worriedly.  “Are you okay, James?”

Jaw cracking on a yawn, James waved a hand. “Fine, m’fine. You?”

Albus walked over and touched his shoulder gently.  “I’m alright.  Well, got a few bruises, but that’s the snake’s fault.  He’s got a pretty decent left hook,” he said with a faintly fond grin.  Then it faded.  “Erm, so you’ll be alright for a bit?  I have to go... talk to someone about something.”

Bleary eyes narrowed on him. “Just not Lenalee,” the older Potter brother said, before grinning. “But next time, I’ll be ready. Sorry, talking out of my ass here. I’ll be fine. I’m just gonna go to bed. Merlin, I didn’t realize I’d be this tired.”

“Sorry,” Albus murmured.  “I’ll see you later, then, alright?  Be careful on your way back.”

James ruffled a hand through his brother’s hair. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll see you later.” And he slipped out of the medical ward and off to their shared room.

Albus waited until his brother had left the hall before following after, though he headed in another direction once he got to the dorms.  And finally, he stood before a door he’d only ever visited once (and that was to prank the occupant).  He hesitated, fist raised to knock.

A moment passed before he finally did, though.  “Kanda?”

There was a whisper of sound inside, and then the door unlocked and opened on silent hinges. “Albus.” The Japanese exorcist was dressed down in his usual sleeping yukata and was clearly not pleased at being roused.

Wincing, the youth rubbed his jaw sheepishly.  “Sorry, didn’t mean to wake you... Um, I’ll make this quick, I guess.”  He paused, and Kanda’s eyes narrowed, so he hurried on.  “Thanks.  For uh... y’know, that stuff... and... Uh... Yeah.”

One of Kanda’s eyebrows had lifted during the younger man’s stumbling speech. “You’re welcome,” he said. The door was already half closing before Kanda hesitated. “James is alright?”

“... honestly?  I don’t even know.  He’s doing that thing where he thinks he can protect me from everything,” Albus replied, frowning.  “Anyway, it can’t be too bad, since he was walking.”  He shrugged uncomfortably.  “Well, he headed back to the room, so I’m gonna go grab something to eat before going to bed.  G’night.”

Kanda nodded once. “Good night.” And the door closed, the lock thrown.

Albus sighed and hurried off, relieved that was over.  Bloody awkward.

Inside his room, Kanda frowned. Fuck it. He poked at the golem sitting on his desk. “Wake up.”

The little contraption fluttered for a moment before blinking its eye at him...

Bzzt!

What?

Bzzt!

Oh. James reached over and poked at the golem hovering over his head. “What? I mean, hello?”

James?

“Nggrrr... No, this is the answering machine. Call later...” His head dropped forward.

These things don’t take messages.

“Huh?” James wrenched open his eyes and shook his head. “Sorry... Kanda?”

Yes. Sorry, I woke you?

Wincing, he realized that he hadn’t even made it to the bed. Half-slouched over in a chair. Wow. I’m not even drunk. “Yeah, but that’s okay. What’s up?” He waved the golem back a bit and started to strip.

Matron cleared you? No injuries?

James waited until his shirt was completely off over his head before speaking. “I’m fine, Kanda. Running into you is nothing compared to getting hit by a bludger.” Brrr, it’s cold!

True. I’ll let you sleep then. Good night.

He smiled as he wrapped the warm yukata around himself and tied the belt. “Thanks, Kanda. Good night.”

Click.

And the bed and his pillow were the last things James knew before sleep took him again.

xXx

Inhale...  “Invoke,” he hissed, “Ghost Step!”

The Innocence obeyed, a light flashing over the room, and he stepped forward as the ring emitted a “bubble” around him.  Grey eyes flickered over the area outside his bubble, and he blinked.  “What’s he doing here?” he wondered, watching Krory close the door and say something.

The Vampire’s dark eyes glanced over the dojo, and Scorpius sighed.  Did I forget to put up the sign?  No... I’m sure I did.  Then perhaps Krory was looking for him?

The youth moved forward and around as Krory walked through the training area cautiously, waving a hand around.  Yes, he did seem to know that Scorpius was supposed to be here.

Exhaling, the wizard deactivated his Innocence.  “What is it?”

Krory jumped and whipped around, eyes going almost comically wide.  “Oh!  Scorpius!  So it was you...”  He smiled at the younger boy.  “Were you using your Innocence?”

The Malfoy nodded stoically.  “Yes.  Did you want to see?”

“Oh, very much so!  So long as it’s okay?”

Another nod was the answer, before Scorpius obligingly activated again, and walked around to stand behind where the man stood, looking around.  He deactivated.  “Boo.”

Krory turned.  “Wow!  You were invisible!” he gasped, delighted.

“Not quite,” Scorpius replied.  “But... it’s difficult to understand, so I suppose that’s the best way.  I can’t keep it up for long, though...”

“What do you mean?” the older male asked curiously.

“It kind of takes it out of me,” the youth muttered with a sigh.  “Especially if I bring other people... I always get tired...” That was why he’d been practicing during the night, so he could sleep after.

Krory blinked, and nodded thoughtfully.  “Oh, I’d wondered why you were here so late...  How long have you been practicing?”

“It’s about time for me to stop,” Scorpius muttered, instead of really answering.  He was starting to feel light-headed.  He reached over to cover his mouth as a yawn forced its way out.  “Uhg...”

“Oh!”  Krory jumped forward and steadied him before he fell over.  “Scorpius?  Are you okay?”

Brow furrowing, the Malfoy righted himself and stepped back.  “Sorry, Mr. Krory,” he muttered.  “I’ve been practicing... but I guess I forgot the time limit again.  Just gotta sleep a bit...”

Krory sighed.  “Alright, let’s get you back to your room, then.  Let me help?” he asked with a hopeful smile.

Scorpius frowned at him, and surreptitiously pinched his own arm in an attempt to wake up a bit.  “No, I can manage,” he muttered, and when Krory’s face fell, he reluctantly added, “but you can walk me there if you want.”

The older man nodded quickly.  “Yes!  Please let me help.”

“Well, alright, then.”  I hope no one sees...  Albus would never let me live it down.  “Let’s go.”

xXx

Scorpius clenched his teeth against a yawn as he shuffled over to the table his best friend sat at.  “G’mornin’,” he mumbled, sitting with his tray of food.

“Mornin’!” Albus chirped cheerfully.  “Ain’t it lovely?  Got a letter from Rose this morning, wanna see?"

Bloody morning people can all die, the blond thought with a wince as someone sat beside him.  He bit back another yawn, muttering, “Later.”

“Better drink your coffee, Malfoy,” a familiar voice said. “You look like you’re still half asleep.” James smiled back at the scowl Scorpius turned on him. “Just saying.”

The glare remained for a moment before Scorpius carefully pronounced the words, “Sod off,” before beginning to poke at his eggs.

Albus snickered.  “I’ll read it, then!”

“Uhn?”

“The letter, snake, keep up.”

“Hmph.”

“Ahem.”  Albus lifted a sheet of parchment, focusing on the words.

“‘Dear Albus,’ (She scratched out ‘dear’ and wrote ‘hello’ instead)
James tells me you’re still being an awful flirt’-  James, you rat!”

The older brother smirked. “Gotta have at least one fault,” he said, shrugging.

Albus huffed and continued.  “‘But I’d be worried if you were any other way.  Anyways, Lily and Hugo say hi to both you and James, and Ameli informs me that Scorpius has not written in five whole days and had better soon or she’ll sic ‘Meeky’ on him.’  Who the hell is Meeky?”

Scorpius, realizing the other boy was talking to him, blinked.  “Huh?  Oh.  Her... pet.  You honestly don’t want to know.”

The Gryffindor gave him a pained grimace and went on.  “Right.  ‘How are things there?  Have you made any friends?  I assume you’re going to pester the others with this, so to James and Scorpius, hello and eat all of your breakfast or else.  Also, play nice with others, drink plenty of liquids’- Okay, sorry, I’m going to skip to the end of this stupidly long list of nagging.  ‘Lily wants to know if Albus has lost that bracelet yet, and says he’d better look under his bed if he has.  Really, I didn’t know she knew you that well.  My love to you all, and write back soon,

Sincerely,
Rose Weasley.
’”

Fork poised inches from his mouth, James arched a brow at his brother. “Bracelet?”

Albus lifted his other hand, revealing the homemade bracelet Lily had made with Ginny over their last Summer break, decorated in yellow and red with a little black mixed in.  “Lily gave it to me as a goodbye present before we left,” he explained, and folded the letter up carefully.  He tucked it away, then continued with his breakfast.

James idly studied the woven bracelet, what little he could see of it with Scorpius between them and Albus eating. Gryffindor colours, he noted with a smile. A little bit of home went a long ways here. I wonder if the yarn is from her scarf?

“Hoooy! Wiz-chan!” bellowed a happy voice from across the room.

Because he was looking in his direction at the time, James had a front row seat to the twitch that Malfoy gave. “I see you finally have a nickname,” he murmured, and hid his snickers into his elbow.

“‘Wiz-chan’?” Albus echoed, brows lifting as Lavi bounded over.  He grinned at Scorpius, whose eyes had closed.  “I didn’t know you and he were pals, snake.”

There was a brief pause, before Scorpius’ arm moved, he swallowed his food, and muttered, “Langlock.”  Albus’ mouth snapped shut, prompting a glare.  Scorpius could feel it.  So much better.  “Good morning, Mr. Lavi,” he added flatly, and continued poking at his breakfast.

“Morning, Wiz-chan!” Lavi said cheerfully, and barely took the time to set his tray down before leaning over the table to look Albus straight in the face. “Ooooo... is that a spell? A hex? What did it do?”

If this is the way Lavi greets the morning, I’m glad I only have to deal with Albus most of the time, James thought, watching as the redheaded exorcist poked his brother on the cheek.

Albus growled threateningly, as Scorpius gave a faint smile.  “Glues the tongue to the roof of one’s mouth,” he answered smugly.  “It was invented by one of the most famous Slytherins in recent history.”  He paused, and smirked at Albus.  “Actually, the idiot here is named after him.”

The ‘idiot’ in question snatched away Scorpius’ pudding sulkily.

Stealing the desert didn’t provide much of a victory though, because as soon as Albus had settled back down, Lavi was in his personal space once again. “So... The tongue is immobilized. Can the mouth still open?”

James chuckled. Lavi reminded him of a certain tiny first year who had attached himself to Kanda. Just bigger, louder, and stronger. I wonder how Adam is doing. If he’s still writing letters to Kanda?

Albus waved his fist in Lavi’s face pointedly, which wasn’t hard since they were inches apart.  Scorpius snorted, but agreed (it also put the twit within touching distance of him).  “Sit down,” he snapped.  “Or I won’t stop him from punching your eye out.”

Pouting, the exorcist turned his patented puppy eye on the Slytherin. “Awww. He won’t use a spell?” As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Lavi blinked and shook his head, thankfully sitting down. “No, he can’t speak... Do all spells require a word component?”

The boy in question was giving Scorpius a look.  The blond shrugged in mute answer, gaze shifting to Lavi.  “Some have managed to cast spells inaudibly.  Thinking the incantation instead of speaking it.  However, luckily for you, Albus is no such master.  James is, though.”  He nodded toward the elder Potter.

Like an obedient student, Lavi focused on James. “Really? Is that a skill that comes through age or practice?”

Blinking, James swallowed his mouthful of eggs. Is that question for me, or Professor Malfoy? “Er...”

Scorpius rolled his eyes.  “It’s rare.  I’ve only seen he and his father manage it.  Sit down and eat, your food is getting cold.”  I feel like Rose.

Albus prodded his friend and frowned at him.  The blond heaved a sigh and lifted his wand.  “Finite Incantatem.  Now eat, and don’t you dare mention it or I will throw you into a bog.”

The other snickered but obeyed, digging into his now cold food.

Grinning widely, James winked at the redhead. “Now, thank the Professor for the lecture, Lavi. It’s only good manners.”

“Thanks Wiz-chan!”

The two Potters ducked as Scorpius whipped out his wand and pointed it in Lavi’s face.  “Do you really want me to show you my favorite spell?  You’ll turn into a girl for five days, complete with all the urges and hormones.  Also, I might add on a spell that makes you fall in love with every guy you come across and ask them to impregnate you.  If you ever call me that again, I swear I’ll do it.  And leave you in a muggle bar.”

A distinctly considerate look settled on Lavi’s face. Lifting one finger to his lips, he tilted his head. “While being a girl would be interesting, the instant love issue might be... complicated. Though!” Lavi beamed at Malfoy. “I’m sure it won’t be that bad since the first person I’ll be looking at is you, Wiz-chan!”

By now, all of the surrounding people were watching them, and several of them edged away at the chilly look Scorpius aimed at Lavi.  Silence fell for almost a minute before Scorpius got up.  “Im-” was as far as he got, though, before Albus stuffed a roll in his mouth.

Barely able to see from the tears murking his vision, James waved at Lavi. “Get out of here, you crazy idiot.” I can’t tell if he has balls of steel or just... Oh right. He pranks Kanda. Balls of steel it is.

Abandoning all pretense of innocence, Lavi waved at the wizards and grabbed his tray, disappearing out one of the many entrances of the hall. There was a shout of surprise at the door and a clatter. “Yuu-chan!”

Merlin, does that man ever stop? James pillowed his face on his crossed arms and gave in to the laughter.

Scorpius abruptly got to his feet and stalked off in the opposite direction from Lavi.  Albus joined his brother’s cackling after he’d left, clutching his mid-section.  “Oh man, we’re all dead, you know,” he wheezed to his brother.

Taking a few breaths to reign it in, James managed to get out, “So worth it.”

A growling Kanda stalked into the hall a minute later to discover Albus giggling over bacon and James smacking his brother as they were both set off snickering once more. “What the hell is wrong with you two?”

Albus almost fell out of his seat with howling laughter, but clung to the table instead.  “Snake... Lavi... girl!” he wheezed out between half-smothered snickers, and rested his head against the table.

The older brother was no better. “Impregnation!” Which set both of them off cackling again.

What the fuck? Kanda scowled at the Potters. “I changed my mind. I don’t want to know.” He left for the ordering line.

Wiping his eyes, James pushed back shaggy hair (he needed a haircut) and nudged his brother. “Think we need to write Wills? Send them off to Rose to officiate? Tie up loose ends and all? I figure we have at least a week until Scorpius has Lavi hogtied and delusional in muggle prison.”

A horrible thought drained all mirth from the younger male, and he sat up straight, face paling.  “Or worse... what if he gets Lavi... you know...  Can you imagine?  The mental scarring?”  He shuddered.

Smirking, James asked, “Can you imagine if Lavi seduces Scorpius? What the children would look like?” Then it was his turn to sit up straight. “Can you imagine Draco’s reaction?”

“I’m torn between horrified nausea and the urge to giggle like Komui on crack,” Albus admitted, frowning at his plate.  “I think it’s time to change the subject before our minds break.”

His older brother nodded. “Good idea.” Lavi in a skirt is a terrible thought. “Oof, my stomach hurts something bad now. Too much laughing.”

Albus smirked and picked up a piece of bacon.  “Oh the expression on- Oh, hi Kanda!”  He grinned innocently up at the samurai.  “How are you this morning?”

Some day, Kanda will walk around without a scowl and the world will fall to pieces, James mused as he saw the familiar frown. “Joining us then?”

“Fine,” the katana wielder grunted as he sat down in Lavi’s abandoned spot. “You’re flushed.”

Blinking, James traded glances with his brother. “Um, we were laughing just now.” Inside, he sighed. Of course Kanda would notice. Shaking his head slightly, he added, “We’re fine.”

Kanda’s scowl went darker.

The younger Potter snorted.  “Besides... the snake was redder than us...”  He grinned.  “Oooh, man, if he doesn’t kill us, I’m definitely hanging that one over his head forever.  Oh!  Kanda!  You’ll get a kick out of it, I bet.”  He paused.  “Or maybe not.”

The Japanese man wasn’t paying attention to Albus though, his attention was still on James.

James frowned back. I’m just a little sluggish. Yesterday’s was a late night. He barely remembered anything past parting ways with Albus at the medical ward. At least, he had made it to bed though.

The younger male, meanwhile, was giving his own frown as he looked back and forth between the two.  Dammit.  The second Kanda sits down...  Why am I even surprised?  Letting out a huff of a laugh, he picked up a piece of bacon and stuffed it in his mouth, then spoke around it like a pig.  “Anyway, gonna go cheer Scorpius up and try to get him to play a game or train or something.  You two kids have fun.”  He grinned at them and stacked his dishes on his tray.  “No biting!”  His piece said, he hurried off before Kanda’s glare could turn into Mugen.

Chapter Text

Eeny, meeny... Miny, moe . A redheaded exorcist with far too much time and curiosity on his hands considered the door in front of him. Or where a door ought to have been, if not for the bricks seamlessly covering the area in question. He’s not making knocking very easy.

First, he leaned forward and peered at the bricks. He sniffed. Looks like brick. Smells like brick . Second, he poked it. Feels like brick . Third, he leaned back, closed his eyes and declared, “I choose to disbelieve.”

Fourth, he cracked open on eye. No change. Stubborn like brick .

Finally, he sighed and looked at the few others in the hall that were standing about staring at him and the wall of bricks. “Well, they are bricks,” he decided, adding, “And like bricks,” he hefted his hammer, “I don’t think there will be a problem.”

There were a few wide eyes to the last proclamation as the three geeks from the Science Department realized what he had concluded and took several steps back. Being sent to investigate a disappearing door was not worth getting hit by flying masonry.

And there was flying masonry. And mortar. And a LOT of dust. Choking white billowing clouds of powdered rock filled the hall and lungs of the more unfortunate bystanders.

In the middle of all that, Lavi stood blinking. “Huh. I thought it was just a sensory illusion. Ah well. We have a door again!”

Scarf lifted to cover his mouth and nose, the exorcist strode into the large practice room. The empty large practice room.

“Aw.” Green eyes swept the room. Dust was settling everywhere. “Maybe... Well! On to the next room!” Spinning around, Lavi marched back out. “Alright everyone! Demolitions is now over!”

“Mr. Lavi,” a flat voice said from not even five feet away.  Scorpius dropped the charm.  “That was entirely unnecessary.”

“Eeee!” Lavi jumped two feet straight up. “Wiz-chan! You were here?” Looking from the icy demeanor of the dusty blond in front of him to the only clean spot on the floor... “You were right there?” He pointed a suddenly trembling finger at the bare spot not even ten feet from the new hole in the wall.

The blond regarded him without any discernable expression, but internally he was wincing.   Good thing I’m good at dodging, I guess.  “Yes,” he answered softly.  “What of it?”  A pause, reconsideration, then, “It’s not a problem.”

Wide green eyes quickly scanned the Slytherin from head to toe. Shit. “Ah, I--” Abruptly, Lavi bowed. “I am so sorry. I could have hurt you.”

Scorpius blinked.  “Forgiven,” he muttered, taken aback.  “Besides, if I was truly in danger, I have my Innocence and a few spells.  Please don’t worry about it.”  This kind of situation made him extremely uncomfortable.  He didn’t like having people act that way, even though he’d dealt with it most of his life.  Perhaps because he’d dealt with it most of his life.

The smile that Lavi gave him when the exorcist straightened was dim and strained. “You’re really too nice, Scorpius,” he said. “Excuse me, but I need to tell Komui about the door.” Lavi flashed another empty smile and dashed out.

The blond’s eyes widened.  “W-wait!  Lavi!” he yelped, hurrying after.  “I can fix it!”

At the end of the hall, Lavi slowed to a jog and stopped. He turned his head, looking at the wall beside him, ignoring the dust that was getting into his eyes. “You can?”

The younger boy nodded slowly.  “Yes...  I’ll show you,” he said hesitantly.   Just don’t run away.

The redhead let out a shaky laugh and rubbed the back of his neck with his free hand. “Nah, if you can fix it, then that’s enough. I think...” He waved his hand and started forward again. “I’ve taken up enough of your time, yeah? Thanks!”

Three steps.  That was as far as Lavi got while Scorpius was exhaling the incantation necessary for the paralysis charm.  Purely from panic, of course.  The redhead froze in place, and the blond stiffened.  A beat of silence followed, before he uncertainly turned toward the wall and cleared his throat.  “ Reparo !”


Immediately, the pieces of broken wall jumped back into place.  Cracks that spider-webbed from the point of impact sealed again, the damage completely reversed sans a few layers of brick-chalk.  It was almost like the brick surface had never been shattered at all.

Taking a deep breath, the Malfoy turned and walked slowly over to the silent redhead.  “I... I said...  Well, I said I’d show you,” he muttered, swallowing.  And then he eyed the other boy in silence, unsure what else to say.  Or even if he should say anything more in the first place.

Dammit, now what? jumped to the fore of his mind, followed by, Oh bloody- he’s definitely going to run away now, and then a dejected, What the hell can I expect?  His shoulders slumped.  “If... if I remove it, you have to stay.”  Pause, then a less certain, “Please?”  Of course he got no reaction, so he flicked his wand and removed the spell.

Stumbling a step forward, Lavi took in a deep breath. And then let it out. That had been... and right after he had done that... and now... Licking his lips, Lavi tasted dust. “Let’s see it then!” he said brightly, turning around, smile in place.

The blond nodded, looking at the wall now standing between them and the training room.  He waved his wand again, muttering the reversal spell, and then a scourgify to tidy up the wall upon further consideration.  He lowered his wand.  “So... yeah.”

He forced himself to look at the redhead, teeth clenched.  It was obvious (at least to him) that Lavi wasn’t nearly as cheerful as he was pretending to be.  He was a bit too pale in the face, eyes a little too wide for the norm, a tremor in his hand that was too pronounced to go unnoticed...  This is all my fault, the younger male thought in dismay.  If he hadn’t put up the wall, then none of this would have even happened!

There’s not even any dust in the air , Lavi thought absently and licked his lips again. Nor there . “Impressive,” he said, softly. Could wounds be fixed just as easily? Gashes, shattered bones... destroyed trust? I knew he was in this room... and I just... If all you have is a hammer.

The exorcist winced. “I made a mess of things; sorry to make you clean it up.”

Scorpius shook his head quickly.  “It’s okay,” he reassured the older boy.  He wracked his brain for any sort of way to make Lavi relax, or at least something to stall him with.  Then inspiration struck, and a faint grin curved the corners of his mouth up.  “You can make it up to me, if you want?”

“Huh?” Lavi blinked wide eyes at him.

Amusement lurked in grey eyes, and the wizard shrugged.  “I can use help practicing my spells.”

“Uh...” the exorcist said with great articulation before coughing. “What would I need to do?”

“Stand still,” Scorpius said, grinning his evil grin.

Lavi cut his eyes to the re-appeared door, then back to the blond. Maybe things can be fixed... or at least patched up. “Can... I ask questions?”

“Of course!” Scorpius said, hoping his relief wasn’t showing (though he suspected it was).  “C’mon, let’s go into the room so we don’t accidently turn someone into a newt.”  He spun away and walked back to the room he’d been using, silently telling Lavi to follow.

“A newt ?” the redhead obligingly repeated, drifting after the wizard. “Does that mean I’d be able to climb walls?”

On either side of the hall, the forgotten team of scientists breathed a collective sigh of relief. A moping Lavi didn’t happen often, but when it did, nothing seemed to go right.

“Oh probably not,” Scorpius replied blithely.  “I’ve never done it right before...”

There was two seconds of thoughtful silence, then: “What happened?”

“It blew up.”

Later, Lavi would claim it as self-preservation finally kicking in. “I... think I left something out in the hall!”

Scorpius was smiling as the redhead fled the scene.  Then it occurred to him that he could have gotten rid of the idiot.   Oh dammit.

xXx

It was two minutes after they’d sat down that Albus realized his brother wasn’t eating his food.  In fact, the older Potter was just sort of poking at his plate in a broody daze.  Scorpius caught his friend’s eye, and Albus shrugged in confusion.

However, upon further inspection, he realized that his brother really didn’t look so good.  His cheeks were flushed lightly, eyes unfocused as he prodded at the macaroni before him.  His brow was furrowed slightly in what the younger had long since associated with pain...

“James?  Are you okay?” Albus asked, leaning across the table to wave his hand in his brother’s face.

“Hmm? Oh yeah, I’m fine. Just a sore throat,” James murmured. “Getting water. Be right back.” And the older brother rose to his feet with a small half-hearted wave.

The boys watched him go, one frowning, the other visibly puzzled.  Eventually, they exchanged a look.  “Don’t suppose you have any Pepper Up Potion?” Albus asked hopefully.


Scorpius shook his head.  “No, used the last of it last month.”  He’d had a mild cold, then, but had gotten rid of it quickly because he couldn’t bare the thought of anyone getting on him about it.

His friend sighed.  “I was afraid of that...  Hopefully it’s gone by morning...  I think, if it isn’t, I’ll convince him to see Matron...”

Up by the ordering counter, there was a confrontation going on. Of all people, it was between James... and Kanda.

“Now Potter.”

“No. All I need is water, then I’m...” James trailed off and gestured to the table where he had left his brother.

“You. Are. Sick,” the shorter man ground out. “Matron has medicine. Why is that not an obvious solution to you?”

“It’s nothing.”

Kanda shook his head and waved a hand, much like Albus had done earlier, in front of the wizard’s eyes. “Go to bed then.”

“Middle of dinner,” the other protested weakly.

Narrowing his eyes on his ex-roommate, Kanda wheeled around and stalked across to the table where Albus and Scorpius sat.

The two looked up, Albus blinking in surprise.  “Kanda?”  He glanced over to see his brother following, a frown fixed on his face.   Ohhh, I think I know what this is...

“I am telling you this now, out of respect of you and to stop any stupidity you may start otherwise,” Kanda told him flat out. “James is going to sleep. Now. He is sick.”

Behind him, the other Potter opened his mouth in protest, but the exorcist barrelled on. “Matron would be better, but the idiot is refusing.” Kanda’s dark eyes flickered back to James. “So, he’s going to bed instead of the infirmary.”

The boys exchanged a look, before Albus nodded.  “Good idea.  I can make sure he sees Matron in the morning if he isn’t feeling better,” he said, eying his brother worriedly.

Scorpius met James’ gaze.  “That is, of course, non-negotiable.  Resistance will not be tolerated.”  He arched a brow in a very Malfoy-like move that seemed to convey imminent threat should that be the case.

Being a Potter, it was almost in his blood to object to any kind of Malfoy-esque behaviour. James opened his mouth. “I’m not that sick!”

Kanda twitched.

“I’m fine. Just need to sit down and eat.” James scowled.

Despite being the shorter of the two, Kanda was still the stronger. One hand went up and grabbed James’ collar, the other grabbed the wand that immediately came up. “Don’t you fucking dare ,” he snarled as he bent down over the now prone wizard. Leg sweeps had so many practical uses.

Scorpius put a hand on Albus’ shoulder when the younger Potter moved to get up, forcing him back into his seat.  This was necessary, knowing James.  He wasn’t likely to get the picture otherwise.

Thankfully, Kanda had kept a hold of his collar; hitting his head on the floor would have been the cherry to the evening. “Let go, Kanda,” James said, glaring as best as he could.

The Japanese man snorted. “No.” And then proceeded to drag the wizard from the hall.

“Kanda!”

“Just let him,” Scorpius muttered.  “I’ll see about Pepper Up ingredients, just in case.”

“But...”

“Albus, which is more important, James or the fact that Kanda’s manhandling him?”  Silence was the only answer, but it was enough.  “Good.  Finish your food.”

After a moment, the youngest Potter realized that Scorpius had left... and not eaten his own .  “ Ah, Merlin’s Beard ,” he grumbled, and set to picking up the dishes.

xXx

By midnight, James was brought to the infirmary, though Matron hardly seemed surprised by their arrival.  Albus took that to mean that either Scorpius or Kanda (perhaps both) had already notified her that James might be coming in by morning.

The reason the younger Potter hadn’t waited until morning (and James hadn’t fought his eventual decision) was that his brother had lost his dinner steadily over the course of the last hour.  It was very gross and very worrisome, and Albus was panicked when he hurried in.  He waited until Matron set James up before bombarding her with details and questions.

Shortly after that, he was forced to wait outside.  An hour passed before she let him come back in, saying he had better be quiet and let James sleep, because the older boy had finally drifted off.

It was then that the dividing curtain between James’ bed and the next was shifted aside, drawing Albus’ attention, and he blinked.  “Allen?”  He’d been wondering where the other exorcist was.  “Why are you in here?”  Hadn’t he seen him yesterday?  He’d seemed fine then...

Dark silver eyes took in the sad unhappy mess that was James Potter. “That was what this is about,” Allen muttered, grimacing. “Hi Albus. Did your brother fall sick sometime during dinner last night?”

Albus opened his mouth, then closed it.   Oh no!  “No... oh crap, it was probably this morning... yesterday morning...”   Kanda said he looked red!  Knowing James, he just assumed it was nothing...  I can’t believe I didn’t notice...  A gloom had quickly settled over the room as the boy stared ashamedly down at his hands.  He was such an idiot.  “We found out around dinner, though...  Why?” he asked, looking up at the other boy.

Gesturing to his black eye and split lip, Allen tried to smile. “Because I met Kanda for a impromptu sparring session last night. I thought he was just being a bastard, but... Now, I think he was actually worried,” he said, wrinkling his nose. “Anyway, I’m sure James will be fine. Matron is fantastic.”

Albus groaned.  “But what if it’s really serious??  Like maybe he has cancer!  Or worse, he’s dying!  He could be mutating into a puddle!” he said, getting up and starting to pace.  “Or someone cursed him!  Oh no, don’t tell me He’s back!  I bet he did it as revenge against my dad...”  He reached up and pulled at his hair.  “He’s going to die!”

Matron stopped within sight and glared at him until he meekly sat down again.  Then she walked off.

“If you don’t be quiet,” Allen said carefully, “even if James was dying, Matron will make sure you go before him!” Wincing, he shifted around onto his side. “Did she say what’s wrong with him? Matron must have said something.”

“She said she has a couple “theories” and she’s doing bloodwork, I guess,” Albus muttered, looking at his brother.  Then he looked at Allen.  “You think he’ll die?”

The other boy gave him a calm flat look. “No.”

Albus opened his mouth, but an unimpressed-looking Matron appeared.  “Alright, you, out.  Mr. Malfoy’s waiting outside the ward for you.  It seems that James has the flu, but I have to do a few more tests.  I’ll get back to you on it.”

The youth hesitated, and at another glare from her, hurried out to find Scorpius.  “Hey...”

“So he’s been checked in?” the blond demanded, frowning.

Nodding, Albus looked him over.  “You look tired.  Why are you up?”  He was going to wait until morning to tell Scorpius and Kanda (and only the latter because he was certain Kanda would kill him if he didn’t).

“Couldn’t sleep,” Scorpius replied dismissively.  “So?  Does she know what’s going on?  I’m pretty sure we’re both wondering.”

“We?”  Albus glanced around, and started when he realized he was being stared at.  Barely ten feet away, Kanda leaned against a wall.  It was no wonder the youth hadn’t spied him; he was half hidden in the shadows of the hall.  “Oh... hi...”

“Answer the question,” the older man said, impatience radiating off his lean figure.

Obstinacy reared its head at the command, but Scorpius was already two steps ahead.  “Albus, is he okay?  He’s not...”

“It’s the flu, I think,” Albus reluctantly admitted.  “Well, Matron thinks.  She’s doing a couple tests to make sure.  I think my fretting got me kicked out...  But Scorpius-”

“He’s not going to die, you idiot,” Scorpius muttered.

Kanda didn’t even say a word. In two steps he was off the wall and behind Scorpius. Before the wizards could twitch, he was already knocking softly at the door.

There was a brief pause before the door opened. “I have patients that need rest,” Matron began, an edge to her voice that promised pain.

Kanda looked at her.

She looked at him. “Two minutes,” the older woman caved and stepped aside, allowing the silent Japanese male to slip by her with a nod. Before she closed the door though, she narrowed her eyes on Albus. “And you. No more talk about dying.” With that final word, the door shut with a quiet click.

“Told you, idiot,” Scorpius muttered as Albus wilted.  “C’mon, you should try to get some sleep...”

“But I can’t...”

“I’ll knock you out if that helps?”

Albus gaped, and gulped.  “You’re so cruel.”

An offhanded shrug was his answer.  “Family trait.”

Figures .  But Albus let his friend herd him back down the hall.  The blond would return later for more definitive news.

Inside the medical ward, Kanda was frowning as Allen filled him in on all that he had heard from the other side of the cloth barrier.

“You know BaKanda, if you wanted me here when James was admitted, you didn’t have to break my arm.”

“You’ll heal.”

The injured exorcist rolled his eyes. “He’ll be fine.”

Kanda turned from his partner to stare down at the sick man in the other bed. He only nodded, and then he was gone.

Probably to stalk the halls until morning , Allen thought, sighing. Maybe it was safer inside the infirmary for tonight. Or the rest of the week. James, get well soon !

Chapter Text

“It’s the flu, Albus.” James was exasperated enough that he didn’t try to lower his voice. “Not leprosy, not cancer, not the West Nile virus. A flu.” Though, he had to admit, the sight of the intravenous drip attached to his arm would send any of his friends into a panic. Thank Merlin, Mom isn’t here!

“I am not going to die or go blind or lose any of my limbs. Nor am I under a curse... Yes, I heard about that theory; you should be ashamed of yourself. Voldemort is dead and--Did you just flinch?” James stared at his cringing brother before throwing his hands up in the air. “This, see this? This is why I don’t want you to know when I’m sick.”

It wasn’t only a matter of keeping Albus away from depressing, and increasingly morbid, thoughts, but it was ridiculously embarrassing how many people were dropping by to see him. Most of them also went on to chat with Allen who was there for a broken arm, which he would not say how he got it. But still... he was just a little sick!

It had already been half a day since he had been admitted into Matron’s iron-knuckled custody, now being the early afternoon. Albus was still worrying. Scorpius was still dropping by occasionally, and from what he heard from his visitors, Kanda was prowling the halls like a tiger whose whiskers had been pulled.

There must be something in the water. Which didn’t make sense, because Matron wasn’t being affected. No, Komui was panicking enough for both head-figures.

Sighing, James stared at the latest present; something large and bulky. Not even Albus would touch it.

“I’m just worried,” his little brother mumbled.  “It’s... just us, you know?  I don’t... I mean...”  He gulped, glancing around to check Matron’s location before lowering his voice.  “Uncle Ron said You-Know-Who has a bad habit of coming back!”

“Well, if all Voldemort is doing since his return is giving me a rather annoying flu bug then I think we have nothing to worry about.” And Uncle Ron is going to be getting a phone call as soon as I get out of here!

Grimacing, Albus looked around again, eyes wide.  “Don’t say it!”

“Say what?”

“YEEK!”

Scorpius frowned at his friend.  “What has you all riled up?  Sorry Matron, my fault.  We’ll quiet down!” he added quickly.

Groaning, James picked up his pillow and hid under it. The shame. The shame.

Scorpius frowned even more.  “Don’t smother yourself,” he said mildly.  “Anyway, it looks like I won’t be able to get the ingredients to make Pepper Up for a while, so that idea is out.  You’ll be staying here for as long as it takes to heal without a potion.”

His friend sighed.  “Well, it was worth a try...”

“Don’t think Matron would have appreciated it anyway,” James added, partially muffled by the pillow. “But thanks for the thought.”

Albus suddenly looked around, brow furrowed.  “Hey, where’s...”

“Hm?”  Scorpius blinked at him.  He blinked again at the poorly veiled glance his friend shot him.  “Albus...”

“Nothing, nothing, sorry,” Albus said, and ignored the glare on him.  “James, do you need anything?  I mean, like... a drink or a book or something?”

Lifting the pillow, James gave his brother a relieved smile. “I’m good on liquids,” he quipped, “but if you could get me the book I have on my nightstand?"

“Kama Sutra?” Albus asked with wide-eyed innocence, and ducked beneath the pillow as it sailed his way.  He grinned.  “I’ll go get it!”  He snatched up the pillow and gave it back before Matron noticed, and hurried out.

Scorpius shook his head.  “What an idiot.”

James growled, then finally let himself wince. That had been a lot of talking and his throat was now reminding him that it wasn’t completely up to standards. Reaching out, he tried to steal a sip of water from the convenient mug without being noticed.

Grey eyes narrowed at him.  “You’re still hurting, aren’t you?” he asked softly.

“Still on the mend.” The other wizard shrugged and sighed after a sip. For a moment, he wondered if the Matron had spiked it with painkillers. It certainly helped. “Albus worries too much.”

Despite that earlier he had not answered to Albus’ claim that it was only the two of them, it was very true. Well, family-wise; Scorpius was definitely a stalwart friend. But, James worried about Albus; Albus worried about James. It was... normal.

“I see,” the younger boy murmured.  “I’m sorry I can’t do more...  I’ll keep looking if you’d like...”  His gaze swept over James’ face, and while his expression said nothing to his inner emotions, those eyes did.

So James hit him with a pillow.

The Malfoy bit back a yelp, stumbling back, eyes going wide.  “W-what was that for, you irritating Gryffindor?” he demanded automatically.

The senior grinned back. “Thank you for your efforts, Slytherin. I do appreciate them. Keep looking for the ingredients if you want, but do it for yourself. Not just for me.” Shaking his head, James wagged a finger at the other boy from a different house and a different family. “Don’t worry about me. Matron knows how to deal with a flu, I’m sure.”

The corners of the blond’s mouth turned down, and he straightened.  Thin arms crossed, eyes narrowed; he was every inch an offended Malfoy.  “Well then, fine.  I won’t have the time anyway, so I’ll leave the task to your obnoxious brother.”

“Oh Merlin, save me,” James moaned. “That would be true torture.”

A huff was his answer, before Scorpius changed the subject.  “Anyway, I may as well tell you, so you are better prepared for Albus’ whining later.  I’m leaving on my first official mission tomorrow morning, with Lavi and Miss Miranda.”

The slightly unfocused green eyes of James Potter immediately snapped to attention. “Any idea where or how long?” Thinking of it now, it had been foolish to assume that Scorpius and Albus would be sent out together. Malfoy had a better grasp of his Innocence than his brother.

The younger boy shrugged indifferently.  “We’re heading to some town in Russia.  I don’t know for how long, though,” he replied.  “Komui said it really depends on how long it takes to find the innocence we’ll be searching for... and you know how long it can take.”

Truly troubled now, James stared up at his brother’s best friend. “And it’s just you and Lavi and Miranda?” Will you be safe enough?

“There’s no need for anyone else,” Scorpius replied.  We’ll be fine.

James nodded. “Thank you then, Malfoy, for the warning. Travel safe.” He held out his hand.

Malfoy sneered but took the hand.  “Idiot.  It’s Scorpius,” he said, and offered a faint smile before releasing the other boy.  “I have to finish packing.  I’ll tell Albus in the morning.”

Giving the other wizard a pained look, James said, “Just tell him before he finds out through Lavi’s big mouth.”

“Uhg,” Scorpius replied.  “Dinner, then.  And if Lavi tells him before that, I’m going to turn him into a newt.”  He smirked.  “Then feed him to Meeky.”

The Potter boy chuckled. “I really don’t want to know what Meeky is.” There had been hints, sly phrases... but really, if it was something that ate newts, he was okay with not knowing Lavi’s final fate.

xXx

It had taken an hour longer than they had anticipated to leave base.  That, of course, had been a combination of Albus’ and Lavi’s faults.  The latter had gotten caught up in the former’s trap, which had been meant for Scorpius.  As punishment for delaying them, Scorpius hexed Albus silent and left Lavi in the form of a ferret for the next three hours.

Oddly enough, Miranda - whom Scorpius had only had very few dealings with in the past - didn’t seem to mind.  In fact, she looked quite taken with Ferret-Lavi, which amused the Malfoy to no end.  However, after they got off the first train to transfer to another, Scorpius decided enough was enough (and Lavi could carry his own damn shit), so he removed the hex from his temporary partner.

Then ignored him.  “Our train should be here in thirty minutes, correct, Miss Miranda?” he asked, looking at her.  She held the tickets, after all.

After a brief, then prolonged moment of minor panic, Miranda found the tickets in one of the outer pockets of her bag. “Ah, yes. That is right, Mr. Malfoy.” She studied the palm sized papers for the second dozenth time. “It looks like we’ll be sharing the booth with one other person. They needed to fill all the seats to capacity.” The timid woman looked over at the two boys. “That is alright, right?"

Scorpius shrugged, looking bored.  “It’s fine.  It matters little, in the end.  It’s only a five hour trip.”

“Good, good,” she said softly, slipping the tickets back into the bag. “Does anyone need refreshments? Snacks?” The only other teenagers she had ever travelled with were Allen, Kanda and Lenalee. So, what to expect from--

“Er... Wiz-chan?”

“What?” was the cool response, perhaps even chillier than he’d used with Miranda.

The redhead gave him a strained smile. “Ano... You forgot something.” He turned around. A long, thick, furry, red tail twitched. “I don’t think sitting on a train would be comfortable with this...”

Scorpius blinked, face going strangely blank.  He cleared his throat.  “Finite Incantatem,” he said, waving his wand.  The tail vanished with a pop, and he looked around.  “Excuse me.”  Off to the bathroom he went, to laugh himself sick in private.

Still a bit in shock, Miranda stared at Lavi. “How... how can you be so... so calm about having a tail?”

Lavi chuckled. “How were you so calm about petting me while I was curled up in your lap?”

“Oh...”

“See?”

Oh!

“Okay, no wait. It’s not like that. Really!” Lavi waved his hands frantically as Miranda turned an alarming shade of pink. “Er... Um... I was just really very comfy!”

All in all, Miranda still didn’t know what to expect from these two teenagers.

xXx

Albus was waiting for Allen.  After the slightly older boy had got his arm OK’d for duty, the Potter had tracked him down and asked if he could help Albus out.  Allen had agreed, looking curious, but said he needed some food first.  And so Albus was waiting.

He was a bit antsy, actually.  Usually, he practiced with Scorpius, or riled up Kanda, or just did things on his own when everyone assumed he was hiding from Komui.  The point was, he’d never actually practiced with Allen, and he sure as hell wasn’t going to go rile Kanda right now.  Not with James in the hospital.

Hospital.  And I didn’t even notice.  Hell, if Kanda beat me up, I’d deserve it.  Kanda had noticed, after all.  Noticed immediately when James was only just starting to get sick.  Aw man.

The youth started to pace around the dojo, arms crossed and mouth pulled down into a frown.  He really did seem to be fucking up a lot, didn’t he?  I can’t help it.  He just... reacted to the situation, usually, and opened his big mouth.  It’s the Weasley blood.  That’s what Uncle Ron said...

Huffing as he reached the opposite wall, he turned around and started pacing back the other way.  Right, we’re not going to think about stupid shit today, man.  Think about training.  He had to focus.  For James.  If he didn’t get strong enough, and focused enough, he wouldn’t be able to do missions.  Even Scorpius was on the roster now!  It would figure that damn snake would get on it first.

He scowled, stopping in the middle of the room.  “Right.  I’m not gonna let him beat me!” he declared to the empty room.  A hand thrust into his pocket, pulling out the coin.  Two sides, head, tails...  Why does it only ever land on heads?

Shaking his head, he flicked it up in the air.  “Invoke,” he muttered, and the coin dropped to the mat like a dead weight.  Up sprang the javelin, his hand already moving to catch it mid-air.  That’s where he paused, simply standing there staring at it.

The sound of a throat clearing made him jump. “Careful, Albus,” Allen said with a smile. “A weapon is not much use if you don’t pay attention to your surroundings.” The white-haired exorcist stood just inside the room, his normal hand pushing the door closed. “So. What did you need help with?”

“Oh, hi,” Albus said, turning toward the other male and lowering the javelin.  “Erm, well I haven’t had much practice with close-range fighters.  Kanda never willingly practices with me unless I rile him up first, and then it’s closer to a beat-down than anything...”  He coughed.  “And Scorpius is a long-range fighter- wands and all.  For that matter, so is James.  So I was wondering if you’d be willing to spar?”

Stripping off his outer coat as he walked in, Allen was already nodding. “Sounds good to me.” He draped the garment over one of the various sparring dummies and rolled his shoulders. “Just to warn you though, I’m used to sparring with Kanda. Innocence won’t hurt you, but the rest of me might.”

Albus grinned.  “That’s alright.  I’m used to it, remember?” he replied, and moved the javelin to his left hand.  A week prior, while talking with James, it had been pointed out that the javelin was technically long enough that he could use it as a staff.  It would definitely be handy in a close-range fight, at least.

He shifted his feet so his right was back to brace his weight, and loosened the tension in his knees.  “I’m ready when you are,” he added.

The other boy gave a deferential half bow and as he straightened, his dark-skinned arm stretching out in a flash of light. Shiny-silver claws flexed for a second before Allen grinned. “Point goes to first blood; stop at knock out or lunch, whichever is first?”

The younger boy blinked.  “Erm, sure,” he said.  “Sounds good to me.”

“Great!” Allen chirped and launched himself at Albus.

Albus’ eyes widened and he jerked his weapon up, swinging the end to cross his chest.  His right hand grabbed it, bracing it as Allen’s hand made contact.  Oh shit, the dark-haired boy thought, a second before he got an elbow to his face.

Aww, no crunch. Allen smirked and snuck a peek as he ducked down and swept the floor with his right leg. No point either. Dang. “I think all those beatings of Kanda’s has actually toughened you up,” he said, as Albus rammed the javelin into the mats to block his leg.

“Well ‘there’s a silver lining in every cloud’, or something like that,” Albus retorted, flipping his left hand over to grip the javelin more comfortably.  Then he snapped the other end forward towards Allen’s face, unsurprised when the other’s transformed hand came up to block it.  His left leg snapped out- and was blocked by Allen’s other arm.  Damn, he’s almost as fast as Kanda.

Holding on to the leg, Allen grinned and twisted it up and out from Albus’ hip. “You need to think ahead,” he chided as he ducked a swing from the glowing javelin. Allen took a step back and his captive was forced to take an awkward hop to keep his balance.

“Not so good at that,” Albus admitted.  “But I’m alright at improvisation.”  He slid his right foot forward, dropped down with the motion, and heaved Allen over him.  The other boy was forced to release him in order to roll, and Albus took the opportunity to scramble back to his feet.

The exorcist shook his head as he stood. “You need to work at thinking then. We’re exorcists, sent out in pairs or teams. Teamwork is very important.” Albus had a split second warning before Allen threw a jab straight at his midsection.

Albus yelped, left hand releasing the javelin to block.  “Teamwork?” he asked, thrusting the javelin forward with his right hand.  Allen smacked it away, sending it clattering to the ground, and Albus jumped back.  In a shimmer of light, the javelin had returned to its coin form.  “Well, I guess,” he muttered, hurrying over to the coin and snatching it up.

He shrugged as they circled.  “I’ve just never really had occasion.  You’re right, though.”

Tilting his head, Allen frowned slightly. “Are there no courses in Hogwarts that focuses on joint spells?” There were lab assignments and shared school projects, but as far as Allen had experienced, no physical teamwork classes other than... “Think of Quidditch,” he suggested, stepping in to dodge a punch and give one in return. “The team won’t get far without some strategy.”

Albus moved back again, eyes narrowed.  “Yeah, I guess,” he repeated.  “I was only on the team for second year, but I see what you mean.”  He judged their distance far enough and flicked the coin.  “Invoke!”

“Almost thinking!” Allen crowed, covering the gap far faster than expected. He knew the coin had to hit the floor and only then transformed. What happens if I grab it before it touches the mat? His armoured hand reached out...

Reacting instantly, Albus’ hand flashed forward, grabbing the coin.  Immediately, it glowed, creating a wide, pale golden, rectangular shield about three feet long and two and a half wide.

“Oh!”  Albus jumped back, hefting it.  It wasn’t too heavy, though definitely more so than the javelin.  “It’s never done this before...”

And the boy had to grit his teeth as Allen’s claws drove the shield and him back a foot as metal connected in a deafening screech. “Oh? Fancy that,” the exorcist quipped, twisting his outstretched hand around to hook under the golden edge. “Think faster!” And Allen pulled.

The straps didn’t budge (luckily for Albus), so he was dragged along.  His left hand - the one not covered in a shield - snapped out, finally connecting with Allen’s jaw.  “I know!  It’s not my strong suit!” he retorted loudly.

But Allen let out a laugh even as he tested the blow. “Laziness is not an excuse, Albus.” He let go of the tower shield and considered his opponent. “Okay, time-out,” he declared, allowing his arm to revert to its natural form. “Any idea how to turn that back?”

“Uh.”  Albus lowered the shield slightly, eying the other for a second before turning his attention to the form his Innocence had taken.  Now that he was paying more attention, he could see that the corners were rounded, and the front was decorated with the group of foot soldiers from the tail’s side of the coin form.

He shook his head and hopefully willed it to return to its stand-by state.  To his surprise, the Innocence shield glowed immediately, and when the glow faded, he held the coin.  “Guess that answers that,” he said.

Allen hummed. “So, hits the floor, javelin; gets caught, shield?” He grimaced, remembering how fast Albus’ invoked coin plummeted to the floor. “That’s a fast grab. What if you invoke while holding it?”

Blink.  “Good question,” he said, brows lifting.  He held out his hand.  “Invoke.”  As he’d half expected, the shield returned, covering his arm.

“Looks like you have a split second chance to change your mind from spear and shield... but not from shield to spear,” Allen noted. “Unless... Can you toss it after saying ‘invoke’?”

Albus shrugged and willed the shield to return to normal.  Once it was in the standby state, he tensed his arm.  “Invoke,” he said, and threw it.  As soon as it left his hand, it glowed, stretching out into the javelin.  He grabbed it since it hadn’t really moved much more than an inch from his hand.

Hefting it, he mimed throwing it, but then relaxed.  “Well, guess I don’t have to do the coin toss thing,” he said thoughtfully.  It’s still cooler that way, though.

Allen snickered. “I can think of a few people whose feet deserve having that coin land on them. The glowing stick shoved up their noses would be a nice perk too.”

Komui comes to mind, Albus thought with a faint grin.  He would not be happy about that.  “Yep,” he agreed.  “Oh!  Hey, can we try something?”

“What do you have in mind?”

The javelin was already reverting to coin form.  “Invoke,” he muttered, and the shield reappeared.  “Well, just out of curiosity...  I wanted to know if the shield would block your bullets, if you don’t mind giving it a try.”

Allen chuckled. “It blocked my claws,” he agreed and morphed his arm into the bulky firearm. “Thinking that you’ll have something to hide behind when Kanda draws Mugen?” He took a few steps back and took aim.

The Potter lifted his shield and braced himself.  “Now that you mention it, that’s a very comforting thought,” he replied, grinning.

He ducked when Allen fired... and the bullets ricocheted.

There was a yelp from the other exorcist and a whump, several dozen crashes, and a few sizzles.

The shield was lowered, revealing wide green eyes.  “Allen!?  Are you okay?”

“Heh... Yeah, I’m fine,” Allen replied, sheepishly looking up from his prone position on the mats. “I know, I know. Innocence doesn’t hurt... But gut instincts just scream ‘Duck!’”

The shield reverted, Albus’ brow furrowing as he walked over.  “Ah.  Alright.  Just so long as you’re okay,” he muttered, and held out a hand.

Grinning, Allen accepted the help and clambered up to his feet. “All good. So! Shall we resume the spar?”

Albus moved back, grin wide, and switched back to the staff.  “Yep.”

Chapter Text

It was a rare day when Bookman Jr had anything against the Black Order’s facilities: the food was top notch; Matron was a wonderful, if terrifying Nazi of a woman; the Chief was crazy enough to be interesting and keen enough to be truly reliable; and besides, the halls of the castle were wide, twisty, and numerous, which made running after or away from Yuu simplicity in itself. But today... today, Lavi had a doubt.

“This bed is amazing!” the redhead enthused, grinning as he bounced onto the king-sized bed and flopped back. “You could fit like five people onto this monster!” Well... technically it was possible. “No, I take that back. Just me. This one is all mine!”

“That was the general idea,” his blond temporary roommate deadpanned as he walked past him.  He was heading from the door (he’d been peering out the window beside it), toward the back of the cozy room, where he fully intended on taking up the sole chair for the night.  To read.

One of them had to keep watch (because he was completely paranoid), and he honestly doubted that ADHD idiot would be able to do so without getting distracted by peeling paint.  Well wasn’t that a kindly thought?

And then, you’re just ticked that you didn’t get to use your Innocence.  Pause.  Dear Merlin, what is wrong with me?

“Aww... Even if it is mine, I’ll let you try it,” Lavi said, lifting his head to give the other boy wide innocent eyes.

For all his boisterous actions, inside Lavi felt like staring at the ceiling and thanking several deities and possibly a spirit or two for the mission just completed. Not a single problem. The townspeople were alive, which was sadly only part of his worries. The town itself was still standing when they returned to the hotel.

Granted, their rooms had unexpectedly been shifted around, but he wasn’t going to complain. The two double beds were nothing compared to this luxury. Of course, Miranda had jumped on the chance of having her own room and her single unit was now nextdoor, connected by an unassuming fold back screen.

Poor Miranda just didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry at me and Scorpius last night. Wiz-chan was so focused on doing everything perfectly that Lavi had to remind him several times that Lavi was the senior on this fieldtrip. All Scorpius had to do was listen and follow directions. That hadn’t gone over well... and he’s still pissed about it.

Any efforts to cheer the sullen blond up had been met with frosty--no--a whole arctic ice shelf worth of cold shoulder. It’s not like his father is getting a detailed report or anything!

Forcing on a pout wasn’t as hard as Lavi thought it would be. He sat up, scooted off to the far edge of the bed. “Come on, Wiz-chan! Don’t be shy!” He bounced once in invitation. “Super comfy!”

Sometimes, when Scorpius was particularly irked, his already neutral grey eyes would lighten in color to a steely ice.  When he glared with eyes like those, it wasn’t at all hard to imagine oneself freezing in place.  “Didn’t I tell you not to call me that?” came the soft demand.

“And I’m telling you not to be shy,” Lavi replied, pout falling away. “Your first mission with the Black Order was a success: Innocence acquired, no casualties or injuries other than a scrape or two. We even finished earlier than anyone expected us to.” Leaning forward, the exorcist ignored the glacial anti-social vibe and spread his hands palm up on his knees in a gesture of supplication. “Was following my orders really that bad?”

Scorpius blinked at him, some of the chill vanishing.  “I’ll adjust,” he said flatly.  Really, it had just been one more embarrassment added onto the rest.  Scorpius sighed and looked away.  “It’s fine.”

Sighing as well, Lavi lifted one hand and dropped his face into it. He waved the other in the air. “Four words. Four.” Indeed, four fingers were held up with the waving hand. “I ask you nicely, and you give me a four word response. I call you ‘Wiz-chan’, and I get nine.” The hand dropped. “And you wonder why I call you that.”

A startled look was directed onto the redhead, and Malfoy could only stare for a beat.  Then he shook his head, looking baffled.  “You’re keeping count?” he asked.  A part of him wondered if he should be worried about that.

Lavi lifted his head and blinked at Scorpius. “Just started, I swear.” Relatively. Maybe he made a game out of prying more than two dozen words out of the boy since the start of the mission... but he didn’t need to know that! The Bookman Jr held no grudge against their third party member, but when Miranda was around, Scorpius clammed up tighter than Yuu.

The younger male looked far from convinced.  “You disturb me,” he said slowly.  “Greatly.”

“Really? Honestly, I was trying for harassing, but I guess I can work with that.” Lavi seemed completely earnest. Hoooyeah! Past the twenty-four word mark!

Scorpius just sighed, in a manner that seemed at once world-weary and vexed beyond imagination, and picked up the book he’d brought out to read.  “Perhaps you should see about procuring food,” he said, deliberately changing the subject.

“Haaai!” Lavi sang out and bounced off the bed. “Try the bed!” And then the redhead jauntily marched out of the room and down the hall to the built in restaurant on the ground floor.

The blond rolled his eyes as soon as his mission partner was out of sight.  What an idiot.  He got to his feet, setting the book down, and started toward the door with the intention of telling Miranda that Lavi went after food.

He paused midway through the room, eying the bed.  It does look comfortable, he thought.  Almost as comfortable as his bed back in the Malfoy Manor.

He shook his head, turning toward the bed and just standing there for a moment.  His eyes darted towards the door, but Lavi would be gone for another couple of minutes at least, right?  He wasn’t going to see.

Grey eyes narrowed, darted to the door again, and finally the youth decided he may as well.  So he sat; it was every bit as comfortable as Lavi had insisted.  At least he has good taste, the youth grumbled mentally, feeling homesick.

There was a clatter out of the room, and the blond jumped to his feet.  He wasn’t about to let that idiot see him!  He’d never let me live it down!

“Ooooh nooo!” a familiar soft wail emanated from the common area before there was a frantic knock on the door. “M-mr. Malfoy?”

Scorpius darted to the door and jerked it open, eyes sweeping over the woman briefly.  He didn’t see any injuries...  “Are you alright, Miss Miranda?” he asked, eyes wide.

“Me? Oh, I’m fine--but the vase! Oh dear. I was just walking by, Lavi mentioned dinner, and... and...” Poor Miranda was wringing her hands as she stepped to the side, revealing the shattered remains of a rather mediocre blue and purple vase.  It didn’t match the decor, which made the Malfoy in him twitch.

Relaxing, the youth nodded, peering down at the scattered porcelain bits in question.  “It’s alright, Miss Miranda.  So long as you didn’t hurt yourself,” he said, pulling out his wand.  “Reparo.”

The vase not only repaired itself, the water and flowers returned to it, and it jumped right back up onto the table it had been sitting on.  He gave her a faint smile.  “There, all fixed.”

“Th-thank you!” She returned his smile with a more relieved one. “I’m always breaking things; I wish I could do spells.” She cast a wistful glance back to the now repaired item. “All I can do is reverse time for a while. It all has to change back eventually though.”

“Oh... but...”  Scorpius fidgeted at the admission, and finally decided he’d actually try taking Lavi’s advice.  “I think... it’s nice,” he murmured.  “That you can do that.  You’re able to help when help is needed the most.”

Wide brown eyes blinked at him in confusion. “I--um... Thank you?”

And for one... two... three... horrifying seconds the two of them stood fretting there at the doorway.

“Would you like some tea?” Miranda blurted out.

“Maybe I should see-” Scorpius started at the same time, and stopped.  He blinked at her, the request registering.  “Ah... it doesn’t matter.  Tea sounds nice.”  He gave her another small smile.  “Is there sugar?”

The relieved smile that was spreading across Miranda’s lips abruptly dropped away. “Oh! I’m not sure. There should be... I haven’t used any.” Absently nibbling on her lip, she frowned slightly. “I can call down for more...”

But the youth was already shaking his head.  “No, it’s alright.  I don’t mind drinking it without.  Sometimes my father and I would do that, when he was home.  So...”  He shrugged and gestured vaguely.  “Let’s just drink some tea.”

Miranda nodded. “Um... The tea is in my suite, should I bring it here?”

“Oh!”  Scorpius nodded quickly.  “Yes, right.  That’s fine!” he said.  “We have a table in the corner...  I’ll clear it off while you get the tea.”  He gave her a quick smile and turned to go do that.  It wasn’t a particularly difficult task, since the only things on the table were his book and Lavi’s shoulder-bag.  He carefully placed the bag to one side of the bed and tucked his book away into his own, and looked up as Miranda entered the room.

What was hilarious or alarming was that she had managed to balance teapot, three cups with saucers, a plate of crackers, a tiny carafe of cream, a bowl of sugar, and a large packet of wax wrapped sandwiches on the small tray. Thankfully, she was using both hands.

“Thank goodness you left the door open!” she said, edging in with extreme caution.

Scorpius blinked at her, and quickly moved the chair out of her path.  “Apparently,” he replied mildly as she set the tray down.  “Was the food necessary?”  Pause.  “Nevermind.”

The woman let out an embarrassed giggle. “I’m sorry. I’m just used to travelling with Allen. If you’ll excuse me? I left my door open, I’ll be right back.” And the waif-thin Mirana darted back into the hall.

Shaking his head, the youth carefully moved the items out onto the table (mostly so they weren’t stacked and thus in danger of falling).  “There’s sugar,” he noted aloud, and gave her a smile as she returned.

“Yes,” Miranda said softly as she closed the door, “so you can have your tea as you’d like.” The timid exorcist walked over to stand across the table and took a breath. “I don’t like sugar in mine... but I won’t drink it without milk added,” she added, gaze down.

He reached out and picked up the teapot.  “Milk is good,” he agreed.  “It’s good for your bones, you know?  Please sit.”  He smiled again at her and started to pour for them both.

Almost an hour later, Lavi stood outside the room staring at the door number. I’m sure that’s our room. I’m sure I’m not in some parallel dimension. But... I’m sure I’m hearing Scorpius talking. And I’m sure that’s Miranda laughing.

Once again, his hand drifted to the doorknob and, once again, it stalled as the amused tones of the blond wizard seeped out from under the door. I wanna know what they’re talking about! That decided it.

Straightening his back, Lavi rapped sharply on the door. “Room service!” he called out smirking. If I’m going to make an entrance, I’ll do it in style!

“Come in!” Scorpius called, still amused by the story he’d been telling the woman.  Albus, New Years and Ted’s favorite prank.  Who knew she’d find it so funny?  Then again, Albus is a nimrod.

Of all the things Lavi had expected walking into his shared room, seeing Wiz-chan sipping tea with a wicked smirk on his lips while dear Miranda pressed fingers to her mouth to stem the giggles that had her near tears... Well! There was only one explanation. At least, Lavi was sure there was one. At the moment, he was too busy picking his jaw up off the carpet to care.

To his credit, Scorpius’ smile didn’t dim at all when he looked up.  “Welcome back, Lavi,” he said.  “Did you bring the food?”

Ehh? “Who--what? Uh...”

Miranda wiped at her eyes. “Lavi? Are you okay?”

For the sake of his sanity, Lavi decided to just go with the flow. “Perfectly chipper, Miranda. And one moment, Scorpius...” Also in the spirit of not disturbing this miracle... No saying Wiz-chan while this lasts! Lavi leaned back out into the hall and reeled in the full dinner cart.

“Wasn’t sure what everyone wanted, so... select your wishes!” the redhead said, gesturing to the various dishes that sat on the three levels of the steel buggy.

Scorpius eyed the cart as he got up.  “Salad?” he asked, almost hopefully.  “And... lasagna?”

“Ding!” Lavi congratulated him. “We have chicken caesar there on the bottom level over on Miranda’s side and a beef lasagna... here!” The grinning impromptu waiter uncovered the steaming plate and handed it over.

“Thank you,” the blond said, taking the lasagna and the salad and retreating back to his seat to eat.

Miranda took the lamb stew and rice, smiling and shaking her head as Lavi lifted his eyebrows and cut his eyes at the other boy and back in question. “Our conversations are private, Lavi,” she admonished gently.

“Fine! Keep your secrets!” the redhead huffed, but grinned anyway. Taking the plate stacked high with pizza, he sat down on the edge of the bed. “Man, this place is nice,” he said, then inhaled half a slice in one bite.

Nodding, Scorpius swallowed the food in his mouth.  “Yes... but I’m anxious to get home,” he replied, thinking of James.  “Best to make sure Kanda hasn’t killed Albus yet...”

“I’m sure Kanda wouldn’t really murder Albus,” Miranda protested. “Right Lavi?” Pause. “Lavi?”

Scorpius looked up in concern, and blinked at the brilliant smile the redhead was directing at him.  “What?” he asked warily, eying the other boy.

Noting how the wizard was unconsciously putting down his knife, Lavi shook his head and once again took the path of least antagonism for the sake of the event unfolding around him. Wiz-chan called headquarters ‘home’! “I wouldn’t worry about Albus. Yuu hasn’t been able to off me yet, and I’ve been around for years.”

The youngest in the room snorted at that, relaxing.  He turned back to his lasagna and started to cut into it.  “Yes, but you have a great deal more common sense, and are less likely to turn Kanda into a ferret.”

It didn’t escape Lavi’s notice that Scorpius could still very well turn him into a ferret if he spoiled this. Wait... “I have more common sense?”

There was a muffled giggle from Miranda and Lavi swung an astonished stare her way. That didn’t sound malicious, but it didn’t sound completely innocent either. More... conspiratorial.

Waving a hand, almost to stop the questions, Miranda sealed her lips with a shy motion of fingers sliding across her mouth.

“What have you done to her?” Lavi exclaimed with a delighted grin. “Miss Miranda is being cheeky!”

“Lavi!” The normally quiet woman burst out laughing.

The Dark Lord grin - as he’d heard Albus referring to it - had made a reappearance on Scorpius’ face, and it might have been Lavi’s imagination, but there seemed to be a bit of smug satisfaction to the look too.  “Done?  I’ve done nothing at all,” the blond said, looking up at Lavi.  “Eat, before your dinner gets cold, mm?”

Lavi laughed. “Yes, Ma.” And ducked the bread roll the wizard lobbed at his head.

Chapter Text

Late that night, the silence and darkness were all but complete.  The exorcists had all drifted off (though Lavi had not succeeded in getting Scorpius to use the bed, much to his dismay), and eventually all things had settled to rest until the morning light.

Except not all was as it seemed.  Scorpius, who had dozed off in the big comfortable chair, suddenly startled awake with a soft, distressed cry.  The sound of him falling out of the chair followed.  For that first moment, between sleep and waking, he was uncertain where he was.

It was so dark... but then memory returned as it does, like the world snapping into alignment within his head.  He exhaled.  Just a bad dream, he thought, reaching up and running a hand through his short hair.  Calm down...  just a nightmare...

A light clicked on then, and he flinched, shielding his face.

For the first time that he had ever known Lavi, there was a dark frown across the boy’s brow. “That was...” The redhead crossed the space between the bedside lamp and the folding doors in moments. “Miranda? Are you alright?” He called out, rapping on the flimsy barrier. Tilting his head, he listened for a response.

Scorpius climbed quickly to his feet and hurried over to Lavi.  There was a pause as they listened.  And then a clatter, like something falling over within her room.  The blond paled.

Beside him, the older boy tensed. “Fuck it. I’ll pay for the damages,” he hissed, promptly stepping back and kicking in the latch. The wood splintered and Lavi shoved the doors wide open.

Avada,” as soon as the first word was uttered, Scorpius was dragging Lavi down out of the way, “Kedavra!”

There was a shower of green sparks above and behind them as the curse passed over their heads, and more and more, the sick feeling in the Malfoy’s stomach was growing.

“Miranda!” Lavi shouted, then snarled. “Activate!” The hammer held in his hand burst out into its full size and the redhead swung it up and forward as another barrier. One of the curses ricocheted off and buried itself smoldering in the wall. Lavi looked at Scorpius. “Ready?”

Icy eyes met his.  “Yes,” was the simple, soft reply.  Scorpius was quite obviously livid.

“Good.” And Lavi jumped up from their hiding spot behind the overturned dinner cart. Swinging the hammer at the curses that flew at him, Lavi batted them aside like Akuma bullets.

A robed figure stood by Miranda’s bed, one arm wrapped around Miranda’s pale throat. Her frightened stare locked with Lavi’s even as her fingers reached for her assailant’s eyes.

“Let her go!” Lavi howled as he lunged across the room.

All that was visible of the stranger’s face was a cocky grin.  “Do svidaniya, maggly.”

Stupefy!” Scorpius hissed, wand pointing at the man.

However, the man was already vanishing, as if being sucked into nothing and out of sight.  The brief look of surprise on the stranger’s face was little consolation for Scorpius.

“DAMMIT!” the blond yelled.

“Can you follow?” Lavi demanded as he swung around. Dishevelled from sleep, dressed only in flannel pants and a loose sleeveless top, the redhead still looked ready to take a certain wizard’s head off. Messily.

Scorpius shook his head.  “No, I don’t know how to Apparate,” he muttered.  If only James were here, they could have...  but the elder Potter was back at base, hopefully sleeping like a child in the hospital ward.  “But hopefully that won’t be necessary.  He knew what he wanted, and he was obviously Russian.  We can narrow it down from there.  Since he took her, it’s safe to say he doesn’t want her dead yet.”

The twitch at the last word was reminiscent of Kanda’s. It was unnerving seeing Lavi react like that. “Right. Maybe...” Breaking off, Lavi jogged back into their room and began searching through his bag. “Just maybe...” Snatching a sleeping golem from its nest in his shirts, Lavi flicked it awake. “Track Miranda Lotto’s golem.“

There was one placid blink, and then both boys watched as the mechanical flying eye floated up out of Lavi’s hand and through the wreckage into Miranda’s room... only to stop hovering over her nightstand.

“Shit,” Lavi spat. “No good there. She wasn’t able to grab it.”

Meanwhile, the blond had gone over to his bag and was shifting through it.  He pulled out a book, face expressionless.  “Why would he take her?” he asked slowly, mostly to himself.  “For what purpose...  Steal a muggle?”  He stared at the cover, thinking.  “Lavi... is there any sort of black market in this area?”

Chewing the inside of his cheek, Lavi frowned at the shards of wood on the carpet. “There are always brothels, but this is too much trouble for just a new girl. I could tell you near anything from a ‘muggle’s’ perspective. A black market for wizards though? That’s more your area than mine.”

“Yes,” Scorpius replied coolly.  “It is.”  He set the book down and turned toward the redhead.  “I can only come up with one reason that he would go to so much trouble to capture her.  For the same reason that a slave-merchant is out, so is grabbing her for spell components.  Grabbing another girl would be easier.

“He must have been after her Innocence.  An item like that, of such rarity and obvious magical abilities, would bring in quite a bit of fare.  Add in the woman - the Innocence’s user - and they would have twice the profit.”

Cool grey eyes shifted to look at the entrance to her room.  “Which brings me to another conclusion.  He could not have known about us for long, or he would have moved sooner.  Anyway, she’s only used her ability within the last twenty four hours.  He saw her use it, or a minion of his did.”

“Or he could have been the minion himself,” Lavi pointed out. “But that doesn’t matter. Any idea how we find the black market?”

Scorpius’ gaze returned to the redhead.  “No.  But I believe I know how to find out.  Do you know where there’s a fireplace nearby?  That we can use in privacy?”

“Remember the house near the cemetery? I’m pretty sure--” Lavi blinked at the loud hard knock on Miranda’s door.

“Hello? Mr. Malfoy? Are you alright in there? I’m with hotel security,” a rough tenor from the hall called out. “There’s been complaints of noise.”

“--that it’s abandoned...” the redhead finished. “Scorpius?”

The blond waved his wand.  “Accio Miranda Lotto’s traveling belongings,” he said dispassionately, and added to his companion, “Catch,” as the redhead was all but pelted by her bags and the golem.  Satisfied he’d retrieved it all, Scorpius flicked the wand again.  “Reparo.”

“Err...” Lavi looked up from clutching various dark bags. “What are you doing?”

Scorpius ignored him, stepping up to the repaired - and now locked - door.  “Alohamora,” he muttered with another wave of the wand.  Then he passed into the other room as the knocking repeated, closing the connecting door behind him.  He jerked open the front door of the room.  “What?”

There was a cough from the potbellied, but still robust looking man in the hall. “Just checking that everything is alright. There was shouting heard.” The ginger-haired man leaned forward slightly, trying unobtrusively to scan the room behind Scorpius.

The tall youth leaned to the side.  “Merely an argument.  I apologize.  We will quiet down.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I must return to my conversation.”

“Hmm, alright then. But keep in mind, another complaint and we will have to escort you and your party out.” So said, the security man nodded. “Goodnight.” And Scorpius shut the door as the older man turned away.

He paused a moment to collect himself before going to join Lavi in the other room.  “Pack.  We’re going to that house,” he said, stuffing the hand not holding his wand into his pocket.

The redhead nodded and quickly changed into his street clothing. Halfway through buttoning his shirt, Lavi suddenly smirked. “And there I was, about to ask how wizards explained disappearing people to muggles.”

“We don’t,” Scorpius replied coldly, pulling the drawstring on his own bag closed.  “And if it’s necessary to do so anyway, we make up lies or erase memories.”

“Ah...” The boy buttoned up two more before throwing his signature orange scarf around his neck. “So, are we going somewhere besides the house?” Lavi asked as he pulled on his boots.

“That remains to be seen,” Scorpius replied.  He shrunk Miranda’s things and put them in his bag as well, before glancing around to make sure they’d gotten everything.  Satisfied, he nodded.  “Let’s go.”

xXx

As far as cemeteries went, this was well kept and peaceful. Thankfully, both traits made traversing the expanse of green and stone that much easier. There were no hidden roots or tilted angels or grass-hidden shin-height slabs of marble. No random casket-sized holes in front of looming bare headstones. Just nice evenly cut grass and the properly arranged plots with their humble little markers. Lavi would kill himself before he was ever buried in such a bland place like this.

“There’s no character to it, you know?” He glanced at the blond following behind him. “Don’t look at me like that, I know you wouldn’t want to be buried here either. Your family cemetery probably has a mono? Moza? That building with the family corpses all laid out inside it.”

“Mausoleum,” Scorpius said softly.  “And yes, the Malfoy family does indeed have one.  As do the Blacks, and the Greengrass.  Should I die, and my body be recovered, I could be buried in any one of them.  Personally, I hope I burn.”

There must have been a hidden root, because Lavi stumbled. I did start this... True, but hearing Scorpius say something like that still kicked something inside that protested. Fiercely. “Uh, why?”

Grey eyes flickered briefly over the redhead’s face.  “Why?  Because I have no interest in letting my body slowly bloat and rot away beneath the soil,” he said coolly.  “Nor am I interested in anyone possibly using my remains for dark magic.  My flesh would be especially potent, since I am a pureblood wizard, and the heir to boot.  The true line.”

The two travelled in silence for a few heartbeats... “There has always been a Bookman,” Lavi said softly as he stepped around a plain grey stone. “There is the clan of Bookman, but that’s different from the Bookman. But anyway. We don’t always have a choice where we are buried.” The redhead chuckled. “Frankly, I would be amazed if there was anything of me to be buried in the end. Other than ash I mean.”

Scorpius exhaled slowly as they neared the house.  “I suppose it doesn’t matter,” he murmured.  “My father once told me that he learned something, back in the days of the war...  He said that he saw so many of those he had considered friends and allies die...  He’d watched his best friend burn, and was saved by his worst enemy.”  He looked at the redhead.  “He told me that once you’re dead, the body doesn’t matter at all, because you’re gone.”

A soft smile appeared briefly, and then it was gone.  “Of course, he didn’t know about the Earl...”

“Well, I wish he didn’t have to,” Lavi said grimacing. “Then again, in that case, you wouldn’t be here with me helping me find Miranda.” He flashed a quick mirthless smile at Scorpius before stepping up to the back door of the house and testing the knob. Locked. Very carefully, he slid his hand through the door’s shattered window, felt around for the latch and unlocked it. “And we’re in,” he said, gingerly retrieving his arm.

“You realize I can unlock it without you risking your arm, right?” Scorpius pointed out flatly.  It was the second time that night, after all.  He shook his head and didn’t wait for an answer, entering the house ahead of the other boy.  He headed in the direction of the main rooms where the fireplace would be.

Sheepish, Lavi hung his head and closed the door after them. And yes, he locked it again. I hope Miranda’s okay... He shoved the thought aside and hurried after Scorpius. I’ll call the Chief right after, whether the wizards have a solution, the Black Order needs to know.

By the time Lavi caught up, Scorpius had found the fireplace, and a single whispered spell set a blaze into it.  No wood needed.  Then the boy pulled out a small black leather satchel from his bag, and opened it.  Inside was a curious green powder, which he took a handful of and tossed it into the flames.  “The fireplace of Viktor Krum, Durmstrang Institute’s Headmaster!” he demanded sharply, and stuck his head into the fire.

Which left Lavi gaping at the rear end of the last of his party... What... the hell? “Seriously, that’s a really awkward way of making a phone call.”

“Shut up,” was Scorpius’ impatient response, his voice echoing oddly.  “Ah, finally, headmaster.”

There was the faint, deep sound of another voice, though Lavi couldn’t see the source.  Scorpius frowned at the large, muscular man that approached the fireplace, dressed in only a pair of pants.  “Who disturbs my rest?” the man demanded.

Holy shit, there’s a guy in the fire! Lavi’s thoughts scrambled between awe and glee. It took him another second to realize that Scorpius was answering.

“The heir of Malfoy.  I wish to ask your assistance,” Scorpius replied.  “An associate... no, a friend of mine has been taken, but I am incapable of finding them myself, and there is no one else I can turn to.”

Those dark, green-tinted eyes took him in, before Krum nodded.  “How long has your friend been gone, young master Malfoy?

“An hour, roughly,” Scorpius replied.

Very vell.  I vill be there vithin fifteen minutes, to assist in the search.

A wave of relief washed over the blond, and briefly he dropped the Malfoy-heir mask.  “Really?”

Krum gave him a sharp nod.  “Yes!

And the youth jerked out of the fire, letting it fade to its regular color.  Help...  It’s a relief...

“That... was awesome!”

Scorpius glared at Lavi.  “You are to treat Headmaster Krum with the deepest respect, Lavi,” he snapped.  “He is a great man.”

A guileless green eye blinked at him. “So are you,” Lavi shrugged and turned to head over to the kitchen. “I’m calling the Chief. Be back in ten... or however long it takes for Komui to chew me out for this.” He waved over his shoulder. “Later.”

The blond jerked.  “Wa- Lavi!  Be careful!” he said, fighting against the panic.

“Huh?” The redhead half-turned, looking back. “I’m just going over there,” he said, gesturing at the dusty sink and dirty cracked tiles.

There was a brief pause before Scorpius turned away.  “Okay,” he said stonily.

This time, the exorcist turned all the way around and rubbed the back of his head. “Aah man. What did I say this time?” With a shake of his head, Lavi began walking back. “No, wrong question. What do I do to make it right?”

Scorpius looked back at him.  “You didn’t do anything wrong,” he replied softly.  “It’s fine.  You should contact Mr. Lee.”

The redhead kept on coming until he was standing right in front of Scorpius. “I’ll make you a deal,” he said just as quietly. “I stop calling you Wiz-chan,” Scorpius’ eyes went a little wide, “if you stop saying, ‘it’s fine’.”

The younger boy stared at him silently for a beat, before he looked away.  “What do you want?” he muttered, and sighed.  “Fine.”

“What I want is you to talk to me,” Lavi answered with a huff, one hand coming up to rest on his hip as he leaned back and looked at the fireplace. “Obviously not now, but later.”

Turning back, the older boy tilted his head, clear green eye gazing straight at silver. “You care; I heard,” Lavi smiled, “and I promise, I’ll be careful. Okay?”

The blond gave him a tiny smile.  “Yeah,” he said, and the fire flared high suddenly.  His attention snapped to it as it darkened to an emerald color.  Blink.  He went stiff.  That was not fifteen minutes!

And out stepped... a girl?  Bright blue eyes lifted and darted around the immediate area, settling first on Scorpius - and lingering a bit too long - and then shifting to Lavi.  She grinned, but before she could say a word, a familiar male arrived as well.  The grin softened into a happy smile.

“Malfoy,” Krum boomed, nodding to him.  “This is my heir and vard, Natalia Aliyeva.  She is joining us for training purposes.”

Training?  “O-of course, Master Krum,” Scorpius said, inclining his head.  “This is my partner, Lavi of the Bookman Clan.”

Watching as Natalia’s features seemed to shift depending on where she thought her father was watching, Lavi felt his heart sinking as she again settled her eyes on Scorpius. Ah, History. Are you here to repeat again? They were both heirs to great families after all. Record history, Lavi. Not take part.

Bowing low, the Bookman greeted the two arrivals. “Thank you for your assistance, Headmaster Krum, Miss Natalia. If you excuse me, I need to notify my own superiors of tonight’s events.” Rising, he nodded to all and marched off for the back door. Somethings, the wizarding world did not need to hear.

Scorpius managed to not watch him go, though he was concerned.  Still, he had to think of Miranda, now, and Lavi was plenty capable of handling himself.  “Master Krum.  It seems my friend has been taken by a local dark wizard...  I do not know his identity, or what he looks like....”

Krum’s brow furrowed.  “I see.  Vell then,” he said, taking out his wand.  “Do you have a personal item that belongs to your friend?”

“I do,” Scorpius murmured, grabbing his bag off the floor and searching out one of Miranda’s travel bags.

The Durmstrang Headmaster took it and studied it briefly, before setting it down and muttering a spell.  Above their heads, several multicolored lights burst into view.  “I vill try to find this friend.  Answer my questions.”

“Yes, Master Krum.”

Outside in the yard... “Lenalee? Where--Is everything alright?”

Lavi! Oh, we’re fine.” The Bookman could almost envision Lenalee waving her hands. “Brother just left to get coffee. He’ll be right back. How about you? Wait... Lavi! It’s in the middle of the night over there! What are you doing up? A report can wait until morning, silly!

Oh hell... “Lenalee, I’m really sorry, but can you see if Komui is available? This is really urgent. Please?”

Lavi... Alright. I’ll go get him, but you are telling me everything as soon as you can okay?”

“Sure. Thanks Lenalee-chan.”

Okay. Bye then.”

“Later.” Blowing out a sigh, Lavi stared up at the dark sky; the stars were hidden from view by the thick clouds.

A few minutes passed before, “Lavi?  Lenalee said you needed to talk to me.  It’s Komui.

“Hi Chief. I’ve got some good news, and some bad.” He closed his eye. “As you know the mission was successful, I have the Innocence on my person. The bad news is that an hour ago, Miranda was taken by force by a wizard. The man spoke Russian, so we are assuming that he is local.” The exorcist took another breath and plowed on. “Malfoy has procured the assistance from the local wizarding school. The Headmaster Viktor Krum and his daughter Natalia Aliyeva,” Bookmans prided themselves on remembering names, “have come forth to assist personally. The plan is to track Miranda and rescue her. If that fails... we will bring back her body and Innocence.”

There was a brief pause before Komui sighed.  “See that you do everything you can to make sure that doesn’t happen.  We have so few exorcists as it is; losing one isn’t something we can afford.  Are you and Scorpius alright?  No injuries?

Lavi was surprised he had to unclench his jaw to reply. “No injuries, sir,” he said, shaking out his clenched fists. I lost Miranda, Komui... Not just another exorcist... Her wide eyes would haunt him for years if he lost her for good. But, we’ve got to keep going. And he understood why Komui wasn’t acting like a human being right now... Leaders didn’t have much of that luxury.

Good,” Komui replied.  “Update me again as soon as you have her back, and good luck.”

“Yes, sir. Thank you.”

Lavi held out his hand and the golem disconnected and tumbled into his palm. It wasn’t as affectionate as Timcampy, but he could swear that it liked to ride in his pocket when he was depressed. “You’re an odd thing,” he said to it. He received a slow sleepy blink and Lavi tucked it into his inner jacket pocket.

Right, let’s see what the wizards have come up with.

When he returned, the lights had dwindled down to a small cluster, and Scorpius was reaching out toward it.  “You’re sure?” he was asking the much bigger male.

“Yes,” Krum replied firmly.  “There is no doubt.”

Good,” Scorpius said, dropping his hand.  “I’ll go find Lavi and tell him.”

“You know where Miranda is?” Lavi stepped forward immediately. “Is she far?”

Were he any other person, Krum might have jumped at the redhead’s sudden appearance.  He made a mental note to watch that one, and shrugged.  “Belovo, Russia.  Natalia and I can Apparate you both there vith us.”

“I’ll help Master Scorpius,” Natalia put in instantly, stepping up next to the blond with a sweet smile.  “It’ll be good practice!”

With a smooth pivot on the ball of his foot, Lavi turned and gave the Headmaster a shallow bow. “Then by your leave, Headmaster Krum.” When he straightened, he was frowning slightly. “Er, do I need to do anything to make this easy? Never done this before,” he said to Krum with a wry smile.

The Bulgarian man nodded jerkily.  “Yes.  Think of staying in vun piece,” he said, reaching out and clamping a hand onto the Bookman’s shoulder.

Scorpius grabbed Lavi’s bag and handed it over before snatching up his own, even as the female slid her arm through his.  “Good luck!” he managed to get out, before they both vanished with a loud pop.

Looking over at the stocky older man, Lavi raised one eyebrow. “How much does luck really have to do with Apparating?”

With a straight face, Krum replied, “Very little, but you don’t vant to be unlucky.”

Lavi had to crack a smile. “I like you. Okay, thinking of being one piece. One me. Not like... say a dozen Lavis. Though, that would be awesome. Nope. Just one. One.”

There was a pop, and the sudden sensation like he were being dragged a million different places at once, stretched and twisted, pulled and yanked- and then it stopped just as abruptly as it had started.  Krum didn’t let go of him immediately.  “Can you stand?”

It took two tries for Lavi to cough hard enough to see if he could gag up a lung, but eventually he was able to speak. “Don’t let go just yet, please.”

“Hmph,” was the bored response, but Krum continued to hold him upright.

“There you are!” a familiar voice called.  Scorpius and Natalia approached from off to their left, the former looking vaguely queasy.

The redhead managed to lift a hand in a half wave. “So... how many times until you get used to that?” he asked Krum.

“It varies,” Krum replied.  “Natalia!”

The duo stopped before them, the girl beaming and the boy edging away from her.  “Yes, Master Krum!”

“Vere did you put that jerky?”

“Oh!”  She patted her pockets briefly before pulling out a cloth-wrapped bundle, and held it out to Lavi.  “Venison jerky.  Eating helps.”

Lavi blinked. You can’t be serious! But he took the offering anyway. After chewing for a moment, he was amazed that while it didn’t deal with all his issues, it helped his legs. Maybe in a minute his balance would come back too.

“Okay... I think I can stand now,” he said after swallowing.

Krum released him slowly, as Scorpius glanced over him.  “You’re alright?” the blond asked.  “Not missing any toes?”

In response, it was quite obvious that Lavi really was doing an inventory of everything. He even rolled his eye. “Yep, all here. Well, wait, let me test something.” He took one cautious step forward. Then two. And turned back beaming. “Yeah, my balance is back!”

Stepping back, Krum pulled out his wand with a nod.  “Good, then ve should get moving.  Every moment is precious.”

Scorpius sobered abruptly, face falling into its icy mask.  “You’re right, Master Krum,” he said softly, and lifted his own wand.

Looking around, the redhead took into the night-lit city just a few hundred feet away. It was pretty big. “How are we going to find Miranda again?”

“Tracking spell,” Natalia replied.  “May I do it, Master Krum?”  At the permissive nod, she beamed and pulled out her own wand, waving it.  “Collocare: Miranda Lotto!” she chirped.  Her wand-tip lit up, shining a dim burgundy.  She turned until it brightened beyond pink to white.  “This way!”

Jogging after the brunette heir, Lavi glanced over at Scorpius. “You wizards really have a spell for everything, huh?”

“Even walking,” Scorpius replied flatly.  He glanced toward the others, and edged closer to the redhead.  “You wanted me to talk more.  I thought perhaps I should share my thoughts on this...”

Lavi raised his eyebrows. “I am all yours. Talk away.”

The youth nodded.  “You... you know how my Innocence works?” he asked softly.  “Or at least the general idea?”  He was pretty sure that only Komui knew the entirety of it.

“Er... kinda. You disappear, and walk around. Allen says you can walk across sand without leaving footprints.” Which was pretty cool and boggled the mind.

Another nod.  “Basically.  Anyway, I can make other people disappear with me.  I’ve done it before.  Meaning I can get to Miranda and then take her away...”  He eyed his partner.  “However, that won’t work if the enemy is allowed to move her, or knows what I’m up to.”

“And your plan for me is...?”

“I need you to distract him,” Scorpius replied flatly.  “Piss him off.  Keep him focused completely on you, Krum and Miss Aliyeva.”

Lavi gave him a doubtful look. “You know how much I attract attention. What kind of attention. Maybe you need to warn your fellow wizards before I start singing.”

Scorpius blinked at him.  “Singing...?”  He frowned at the other.  “I’ll tell them.”

“Singing, hollering, boasting, cursing,” the redhead gave the other boy a shit-eating grin, “and then there was one time where I stole Yuu’s hair tie. Then it was running, dodging, and some splashing when we ended up in the bathing pools. Yep, that was fun.”

Scorpius rolled his eyes and hurried to catch up with Krum and Natalia, relaying things to them as well.  Moments later, Natalia grinned.  “Bingo!”  Her wand was glowing blue as it pointed at a store-front.  “She is within fifty meters of our location.”

“Activate.” Lavi cocked a brow at the heiress. “Can you tell if she’s alive?”  Please be okay!

She smiled at him.  “I can probably figure it out, yeah,” she said sweetly.

The blond beside her was frowning thoughtfully.  “Really?  How?”  He somehow missed how hard Krum was rolling his eyes.

“Walk through the front door,” Natalia supplied.

Lavi tilted his head and considered it. Dead or alive, we are going in. “I better make a decent doorway then,” he said, bringing his hammer back in a slow swing. “Ready?”

Natalia skittered to the side, eyes widening.  Scorpius stepped backwards, vanishing behind Krum.  Krum himself stayed put.  “Do it.”

“With pleasure, sir!” Lavi stepped forward and brought the hammer around in a whistling arc. With a smirk, he watched in satisfaction as the blow took out half the front wall. “Door’s open, good luck!”

Scorpius smirked as the dust settled.  “Invoke, Ghost Step,” he whispered, and his Innocence activated.  Then he was gone, darting through the newly made entrance.  He stepped back as three men barrelled past his “bubble”, and smirked.  “From where they came...”  He hurried down the stairs toward the basement.

It was musty and dank down there, with an abandoned card-table and three locked doors.  In front of one waited a tall, sleekly built wizard with greying brown hair and dark brown eyes.  He leaned against the wall, eyes watching.  Scorpius frowned.  He isn’t supposed to be here!

The man pushed away from the wall, starting to pace before the door, and turned.  He did this twice more before Scorpius uninvoked and stupify’d the man when his back was turned.  He hurried to the door, grabbed the knob and jerked it opened.

And there he stopped, breath caught in his throat.  Miranda...  Relief surged as he looked the woman over.  Her eyes were closed, her Innocence nowhere in sight, but she was alive.

He walked over to her and knelt.  “Miranda?”

It took a few more tries, but eventually her eyelids fluttered. “S-scorpius?” she gasped, worry flashing across her features. “Are you alright?”

The relief was so strong he had to sit down.  “Me?  What about you!” he hissed.  “I’m gonna get rid of the ropes, okay?  Don’t move.”  He held up his wand and muttered the appropriate spell, watching them slither to the ground.  “Are you okay?  Did they hurt you?  We’re going to bring you home now, Miranda, I promise.”

“I-I’m...” She broke off and began to shiver all over. “They didn’t hurt me, but he took me away, when...” Thin arms, streaked with bright red marks from her bindings, came up as she curled in on herself. “It was horrible! And he acted like he travelled like that all the time!”

Scorpius grimaced and got up onto his knees.  “It’s called Apparation, and chances are, he does,” he murmured.  “Can you stand?  We need to find your Innocence and get out quickly.  Lavi and my friends are distracting them right now...”

Slowly, ever so slowly, Miranda’s arms loosened. She let out a breath and focused on her knees for a moment. When she looked up, Scorpius swore he could see the steel that made her an exorcist. “Help me up, please.”

He nodded and got up quickly, then hooked his arm under hers to help her to her feet.  “Just wait, when we get home, we can have actual food and I bet I can get Albus to wait on you hand and foot,” he said, giving her a tiny smile.  “Just like with Ted, eh?”

“That would be just... odd, Scorpius,” Miranda retorted as she found her balance, “but I would like that.” She wavered for a few steps, but each one forward strengthened her, until he was barely holding her upright at all. Which brought them to the doorway where he had left the wizard.

“Is he dead?” she asked.

Shaking his head, Scorpius stared down at the man.  “No,” he replied softly.  “Just stunned.”

“Good,” Miranda breathed out, “because he knows where my Innocence is.”

The youth swallowed.  “Alright.  I guess we have to ask him, then...”  His eyes scanned the room, darting from shadowy shape to shadowy shape until he saw a chair.  

“Scorpius,” her soft voice interrupted. When he turned to her, she was smiling slightly. “Do your friends speak Russian? I don’t.”

Blink.  It may have been a trick of the light... but it almost seemed as if Scorpius’ face turned faintly red.  “No,” he said slowly.  “I mean... yes...  My friends do, I mean...”  He cleared his throat.  “Let’s tie him to the chair first, then I’ll get my friends.”

Taking another breath, the female exorcist nodded and between the two of them, they heaved the gangly man onto the chair. Miranda went to get the rope while Scorpius stayed to keep their captive from falling off.

And although he was tempted to “accidentally” let the man fall, the youth somehow refrained in the few minutes his friend was gone.  He gave her a faint smile when she returned, wondering if his father would have done the same.  No, probably not...

They tied the man securely to the chair before Scorpius darted upstairs.  The last of the other wizards had either fled from Krum, Natalia and Lavi, or were sprawled on the ground.  Scorpius didn’t care enough to find out if ‘sprawled’ meant ‘still alive’.  “Lavi!”  He smiled when the other whipped toward him.  “She’s okay!” The upright figure he had been addressing abruptly slumped back a step in apparent relief.

“Thank you!” Lavi whispered straight to the dark heavens. Then his attention snapped back to earth. “Where is she?” he asked as he ran over the various bodies.

“Watching our prisoner,” Scorpius replied.

“Prisoner?” a feminine voice piped up, almost hopefully.  She was standing several feet to the blond’s right.

Krum approached more slowly than Natalia and Lavi.  “Vere?” he demanded.  “Vy a prisoner?”

Scorpius rolled his shoulders in something that was more stretch than shrug.  “He knows where her Innocence is.  The thing is, I don’t know Russian, and neither does Miranda... and as far as we know, the guy doesn’t know English...”

The redhead glanced at Krum. “I’m going to check on Miranda. I don’t know much Russian either other than some insults in an old dialect.” With a nod, and a quick hand on the shoulder for Scorpius, Lavi vanished into the building.

The Durmstrang Headmaster followed without another word, and thus so did Natalia and Scorpius.  “Was it dangerous?” the girl whispered to the boy.

He blinked at her and shrugged.  “No, not really.”

She grinned.

The calm of the evening was shattered by a sudden stream of garbled words that sounded like it would have been an angry Hagrid... in Lavi’s voice.

When Lavi had entered the room, he was not all that surprised to see the prisoner awake and sporting the bright mark of a slap. What made him snap, however, was the spit stain on the front of Miranda’s navy blue pyjama top.

He was still spitting out curses that would take out the man’s fifth generation of donkey half-breeds when the three wizards came charging in.

Miranda who was currently trying to both wriggle out of his protective embrace and cover his mouth blinked at the newcomers. “Help?”

The tallest of the group looked mildly impressed.  “... vell, that is telling,” Krum said, bushy eyebrows arched up his head at the language.

Scorpius just didn’t want to know, and though he was just as angry about the abuse of his friend, he had a better check on his mouth at least.  “Lavi, let’s bring her upstairs, okay?  Make sure she’s alright while Krum negotiates with our new friend.”

Lavi’s furious green gaze locked with Krum’s amused one. Mercifully, the redhead’s mouth stopped spewing out epithets. He gave Miranda one last squeeze. “Alright.” That one word came out far gravellier than usual. Shaking his head, Lavi let her go and twisted to cough to the side. “I need air too.”

Unfortunately, turning Miranda loose also let the others see her top. Body heat could only evaporate so much liquid. But the woman tilted her chin up, and led the way back upstairs while Lavi trailed behind like a scowling Kanda.

“Natalia, go vith them,” Krum ordered, satisfied when he heard the retreating sound of her footsteps, and switched languages.  “To yest’ ne tak, kak vy otnosites’ kzhenshchine,” his voice was growling as the others hurried upstairs.

Natalia was the last up, and eyed the trio as they settled on some rubble outside of the building.  “Vill she be okay?” she asked, brows lifting as she approached them.

Scorpius looked up briefly, but dismissed her coolly; he was searching through his bag for Miranda’s bags.

Sitting in Miranda’s other side, Lavi tilted his head down to knock foreheads with his fellow exorcist. “Miranda Lotto, meet Natalia Aliyeva heir of Krum. Krum was the big guy. Miss Natalia, my dear friend Miranda Lotto, exorcist of the Black Order.”

Raising her pale face, Miranda nodded to the other woman. “I hear that you helped find me. Thank you,” she said, a small smile bravely held in place.

Privet,” Natalia replied with a small wave.  “You’re velcome.”

“Ah!”  Scorpius had found the bags, and quickly returned them to normal size.  He frowned.  “I wonder if there’s a room still intact...”

Lavi nudged Miranda. “Wanna go look for a bathroom?”

She shot him a look that was almost playful. “We’ll need to find a place to wash out your mouth.”

He blinked. “I wasn’t that bad...”

Scorpius rolled his eyes.  “Yes, and Master Krum looked impressed because of your usage of polite language.”  He held the bag out to Miranda.  “Here...”

“Oh!  I could help you find a vashroom, if you like,” Natalia inserted.  “Just us girls.  Vithout the boys trying to peek.”

Miranda took her bag back with a genuine smile. When she stood up, she held out a hand to Lavi. “Thank you, Natalia, but I know Lavi is a gentleman.”

Lavi popped up off his seat with a smug grin.

“And I need to find soap for his mouth anyway.”

The grin slid straight off. “Miranda!”

The two had gone not but three steps before the rescued exorcist turned around. “Sorry Natalia, but I’m going to have to bring Scorpius along as well. Someone needs to hold Bookman down.”

“Ehhh?!”

Scorpius’ Dark Lord grin was back, while Natalia just laughed.  “Alright!  If you need anything, feel free to ask me or Master Krum.  I’ll be around,” she told them, smiling widely.

Giving the young woman a thankful nod, Miranda then turned to Scorpius. “If you would take Lavi’s other side?” A rare smirk flashed across her features, hidden from the redhead’s view. “I don’t want him to ‘book’ it.”

The blond gave a startled half-choked giggle, and bowed briefly before going over to the redhead’s other side.  “As you wish,” he said to her.  Grey eyes were almost dancing as he peered at Lavi.

The Bookman scrunched his nose as he looked at the two exorcists flanking him before rolling his eyes. “Hai, hai. But I’m warning you two.” Grinning, Lavi wrapped one arm around Miranda’s slim waist and the other across Scorpius’ shoulders. “If you think I’m just going to lie down and take it, then you got another thing coming.”

The three of them wheeled around and shambled off towards ground zero. Lavi wondering out loud if Miranda’s top would stay opaque in cold water, the woman in question laughing as she shook her head and Scorpius giving his male companion a reproachful frown.

He made a mental note to study up on his transfiguration.

Chapter Text

Albus exhaled slowly as he waited, trying to keep calm.  Matron had said that James might be good to go today, and she was apparently doing one last check before she decided.  Naturally, Albus wasn’t allowed inside while she was doing so.  He was pretty sure he’d managed to get on her last nerve (not that he’d really tried to).  Now all he could do was wait.

And pace.  And wait some more with a bit more pacing.  And-

Was nearly taken out by a chair that flew across his path, inches from his shins. It continued to skitter over the flagstones, until finally crashing into the wall. Miraculously, it didn’t break.

“Sit the fuck down.”

Ah yes, the other waiting exorcist.

Albus, as always, was less intimidated than Kanda intended, and scowled at him.  Though, he did stop pacing.  “I don’t even understand how you can just stand there like a wall ornament,” he retorted.

Snorting, the other man scowled right back. “James is fine.” Kanda turned his focus back to the door. “Why can’t you stand still?”

The answer came in the form of soft grumbling while Albus crossed his arms.  “I hate waiting.”  He, too, directed his attention toward the door, as if by merely staring he could coerce James to walk through it.

A few moments went by with only the sounds of muffled clinking coming from the ward. Then, Kanda shifted at his post.

“It’s like watching paint dry,” the Japanese young man muttered.

“See?”  Albus’ frown had quickly turned into a rather childish pout.  “It’s so frustrating.”  And not even Scorpius is here to talk to.  Of course, Kanda didn’t count as a ‘conversationalist’.  Ever.

Settling back against the wall, Kanda closed his eyes and to all appearances fell asleep standing up.

Albus started making faces at him.

He was ignored.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the doors...

“So... I’m good to go then?” James prompted the bustling Matron who was marking various parts of a chart. He craned his neck to peer at the paper, but couldn’t make heads or tails of the various check boxes. Medical school probably has a year dedicated to those abbreviations...

The nurse’s lips quirked up into a smile as she made another notation. “Yes, I am releasing you from my custody, but just a few things before you leave.”

Straightening up even further in his sitting position on the bed, James raised his eyebrows. “As in?”

A bottle of pills appeared as if by magic in front of his nose. “Take those at every meal until I tell you to stop.” A small notepad landed in his lap. “I want you to drink eight glasses of water a day, same condition. I want you to write down how many you take a day, even if you don’t drink all eight.” Matron paused, grimacing. “And spar once every three days to start.”

“Spar?”

“Regular exercise, Mr Potter.” She lifted a finger. “I don’t mean to say, allow yourself to be injured and sent back into my care, but you need to keep up your body’s physical strength. Exercise will help you both mentally and physically.”

James cringed. She had seen that? Loafing around, feeling like a randomly placed spell component was an obvious sign of depression. Rallying, he nodded and met her gaze. “Right, sparring.” He blinked. “With who?”

Matron rolled her eyes. “Pick one of them.”

James blinked again. Smirked. Frowned. Blushed. “Both of them are out there?”

“I advise choosing the older one for a sparring partner,” Matron replied smoothly, packing away her clipboard and various implements. “He’s more experienced and he has perfect control of his movements.”

The Potter boy sputtered. “W-wait! What if he doesn’t have time?” Sure, James was now rather used to ogling his former roommate, but that didn’t mean he was ready to wrestle with the man!

“Do you really think Kanda would say ‘No’?” Opening one of the cabinets by the bed, Matron took out James’ personal clothing. “Get changed, Mr Potter. I’m discharging you.”

“Um, maybe I’m not quite ready...”

Matron raised one thin eyebrow.

“... Could you please draw the curtains?”

The curtains billowed as the nurse pulled them around the bed. Resigned, James pulled off his hospital gown as Matron headed for the doors.

And back out in the hall...

The younger of the Potter brothers was fidgeting, about to give up and start pacing again despite the looming threat of disembowelment, when the door opened.  He opened his mouth, caught sight of the woman’s expression, and covered it with both hands.  A whimper was all that escaped, and a questioning look from puppy-like green eyes.

Closing the ward door behind her, Matron swung her gaze to Kanda who had opened his eyes. “Mr Potter is free to return to his quarters. He will be out as soon as he finishes changing,” she told them both. “He is on medication until further notice and he will need a sparring partner.”

Kanda traded glances with Albus.  The Potter lowered his hands.  “A sparring partner?” he asked, as baffled as his brother had been.

Now the woman focused entirely on Albus. “How active was your brother in Hogwarts? He practiced a sport, didn’t he?”

Albus nodded.  “Sure.  He played Quidditch.  He was the Seeker,” he replied, brows furrowing.  “Kanda played with him for a little while, till we left.”  He shook his head.  “But uh... what’s that...  Wait, has he not been getting enough exercise or something?” he asked with sudden realization.

“Correct,” she replied brusquely. “James is to come back for a re-evaluation in two weeks. Do I make myself clear?”

Kanda nodded for them both.

“Good. You may come in.” That said, Matron turned and swung open the door, waiting for the two teenagers to step through.

Grinning, Albus made it through before Kanda (and got a glare for his trouble), hurrying over to James’ bed just as his brother opened the curtains.  “James!” he cried happily, and hugged his brother.  “C’mon!  We’re here to break you out.”  He grinned.

The older brother laughed, hugging his sibling back. “Good thing I’m already cleared to leave then. Ten minutes earlier and Komui would have had to send out the bludgers again.” He gathered his belongings, diligently pocketing the pills and the notepad, and smiled at the watching nurse. “Thank you, Matron. I’ll... think about your suggestion.”

She nodded regally. “Do that. Now out! I don’t need healthy boys making my medical ward noisy.”

Ignored for the most part, Kanda snorted and turned on his heel, leading the way. James grinned as he followed, one arm slung over his brother’s shoulders. “So, what have you been up to while I’ve been locked up?” he asked Albus.

“Uh... well, Allen and I were experimenting with my Innocence,” the younger boy offered.  “And then he mopped the floor with me, but that’s not really anything new.”  He gave a sheepish laugh.  “You know what we should do, now that you’re able to appreciate freedom?  If you’re up to it, we should go visit Jeri.”

A beatific expression settled on the older brother’s face. “Pumpkin juice.”

“Water,” Kanda said from ahead of them.

James winked at Albus before adopting a confused tone. “With pumpkin juice? But it’s not very good diluted, Kanda.”

The Japanese male didn’t rise to the bait though. “Separately, James.” The long black tail swept to the side as Kanda looked back over his shoulder. “Matron told you to drink water. Eight cups.”

Buh? “How do you know that?” The older Potter gaped at the exorcist.

Smirking, Kanda turned to face them, lifting a hand to snap his fingers. As the two brothers stood frowning at the smug man, a soft flapping of wings came from back the way they had come. A standard black golem, yellow eye blinking, fluttered up the hall and stopped, hovering over Kanda’s right shoulder.

Kanda pointed at the golem. “Surveillance,” he said, then removed a tiny listening device from his left ear.

Albus and James exchanged a look, before the younger of the two grinned widely.  “So... you’ve been peeking on my brother?” he asked, obviously delighted with this new development.  Scorpius would turn blue, he thought.

Kanda blinked once. Very slowly.

James on the other hand turned beet red.

And then...

“Mugen unsheathe; Innocence activate.”

“Oh shit.” James threw up his hands. “Sick man!” he declared.

Letting out a sound that was half strangled laugh, half yelp, Albus took off.  He was still grinning by the time Kanda caught up.

xXx

As soon as their boat came to a stop, Scorpius was climbing onto the cement alongside the water.  He turned around and held out a hand for Miranda.  “Here, let me help?” he offered.

“Thank you,” she replied with a smile. Placing a hand in his, she blinked as another boy took her other hand.

Beside her, Lavi grinned. “Can’t be too careful with you, now can we, Miranda?”

Scorpius smiled back and they helped her climb out before the pale youth accepted the bags from Lavi.  “It’s good to be back,” he said thoughtfully once they were all unpacked and the boat tied up.

He glanced around curiously; he’d half expected that idiot Komui to be waiting, or to have sent someone else to do so for him.  However, they were alone.

As if sensing his unease, Lavi hopped up onto the docks next to Scorpius on silent feet. The tall redhead leaned over. “Think Kanda snapped and killed everyone?”

Blinking blue eyes lifted to meet a single green.  “I don’t know,” he admitted, seriously considering it.  “Perhaps Albus pushed one too many buttons...”

Shaking her head, Miranda huffed. “You two! Mr. Kanda is not that bad!”

The Bookman heir paused, turned to look at her, both eyebrows shooting up.

“He isn’t?” Miranda tried again.

He shook his head.

She frowned. “He wouldn’t...”

“Actually,” Scorpius said slowly as he leaned down and picked up his bags, “Maybe you’re onto something.  After all, James is still here, and he’s capable of calming anyone down when he puts his mind to it...”

Tilting his head, Lavi hummed. “Then maybe not Kanda, but Komui. Albus was still asking Lenalee out after all. Maybe Komui made another Kaumlin.”

“Oh.”  The former Slytherin blinked for a second before shrugging and starting toward the doors into the base proper.  “Well, nothing for it but to find out ourselves,” he decided.

Chuckling, the redhead shouldered his bags and snagged the two others that belonged to the female of their group. “We’re off to see the zombies!” he cheered, passing Scorpius and shouldering open the doors.

It didn’t escape either of the other’s notice that Lavi was also holding his hammer at ready.

Scorpius waited for Miranda to enter before following, peering curiously beyond both of his companions.  However, he stopped worrying when he spotted Reever approaching from down the hall.

“Sorry!  Sorry, Komui got literally buried and only just told anyone that you guys were almost home,” the scientist said, brow twitching. “Welcome home!”

As Miranda moved forward with a earnest query of Komui’s health, Scorpius noticed the crestfallen expression on the redhead’s face.

“Ah well,” Lavi was muttering, “probably better this way.”

“Disappointed?” Scorpius murmured, brow lifting fractionally.  He didn’t wait for an answer and just started ahead with barely a nod in Reever’s direction.  Buried or not, the three of them had to go speak with Komui and then get checked out by Matron.

With Scorpius leading the way, and Lavi dogging his heels, Miranda continued talking to the scientist as they proceeded to Komui’s office. “Have we missed anything while we were gone?”

“Er... not much.  It’s been pretty quiet,” Reever admitted thoughtfully.  “Even Albus has been mostly keeping out of trouble- well, except for pissing off Kanda the other day somehow.”  It went without saying that this was to be expected.  “Let’s see...  Oh, right!  Scorpius, what’s Quidditch?  I keep trying to get the chief to tell me, but he just giggles and runs away.”

Scorpius blinked and glanced over at the overly curious scientist as they walked.  “What...?  Quidditch?” he echoed, and frowned.  “Mr. Lee?”  Those things combined could not be a good thing for the health of everyone else.  Particularly the Potter brothers.

Sighing, the pale boy shook his head.  “It’s... a game,” he muttered.  “A wizarding game.  Erm, I’m not really all that sure how to explain it properly...”

“If it’s a game,” Miranda inserted, “why do you seem so worried?” Someone was learning to read him startlingly well.

On the other hand, he could almost see the Bookman light up with curiosity. “Quidditch? Involving flying on broomsticks and self-propelling balls of various size and purpose?”

Reever gave Lavi an alarmed look.  “Flying balls?” he echoed.  And then, “Flying broomsticks?”

“And that is why I’m worried,” Scorpius said to Miranda.  “Quidditch and Mr. Lee is not a good combination.”

“Am I right? Did I remember it correctly?” Lavi was bouncing in glee. Glee of all things. “I wonder if you have to be a wizard to fly the brooms? Where did you pack yours, Scorpius?”

“You want to fly on a broom?” Poor Miranda was utterly baffled. “Wouldn’t that be... uncomfortable? For--I mean... “ Blushing she trailed off, fluttering her hands.

Scorpius shot her a startled look and pressed his lips together.  Think of something unfunny.  Ginny Potter on a war-path.  … yep, that did it.  He resisted the urge to cringe.  “Yes, you got it right, Lavi.  And no, I don’t think you can.  In either case, I don’t have a broom, and trust me when I say you don’t want to borrow either Potters’.”

Puppy eyes should be illegal on men. And it should at least be restricted to half-efficiency on single-eyed users. Lavi put his lower lip into this one too. “But then, I can’t play,” the redhead whined.

“Play?” Scorpius echoed dumbly.

Red eyebrows quirked. Turning to Reever, Lavi asked, “Why are you asking about Quidditch again?”

“The Chief was talking about it with Albus,” Reever replied.  “I walked in on them in the middle of it.  But Albus left and then the Chief wouldn’t give me a straight answer.”

“Albus?”  Scorpius appeared to have degraded into one-word mimicry.

So Lavi filled in the rest. “Talking. With Komui. About Quidditch.” That hammer of his came up to rest over his shoulder as he smirked. “And Komui is as curious as I am. You don’t think he wants to play?”

“There was that accident with the... the ‘bludging ball of doom #14’,” Miranda murmured, eyes flickering between the three men. “Is that part of this game?”

Shrugging in confusion, Reever looked towards the wizard for an answer.  Scorpius gave a full-body twitch.  “Yes,” he gritted out, brain catching up with reality.  I swear living here is like living in a circus.  Next thing we know, Kanda will be juggling swords and swallowing fire.  He picked up his pace, wanting to get the report over with so he could grill Albus for details.

“What happened to your broom?” Lavi wanted to know as they passed through another set of doors. This time the redhead was keeping his voice down to a murmur.

The pale youth frowned faintly.  “I left it at home.  I never used it much, aside from tryouts,” he replied just as softly.  “Saw no sense in bringing it along.”

“Aa.” Shifting his grip on the luggage bags, Lavi shrugged at the inquisitive look the wizard shot him. “I wouldn’t be able to let go of my hammer,” he said, his fingers flexing around the mentioned item. “Thought the broom and the wand would be the same for wizards.”

Shaking his head, Scorpius looked ahead again.  “Just wands.  I mean, for natural fliers like James, sure.  A broom is second nature as well as the wand.  But not me.  I’m not much of a flier, to be honest.”

For a few steps the two travelled in peace, until Lavi piped up with another question. “Are you more of a reader then?”

The pale boy thought about that, and shrugged.  “I like reading,” he agreed after a beat.  “It’s preferable than participating in inane babble, at least.”

One of Lavi’s eyebrows had gone up. “Favourite subject?”

Another pause followed.  “... History of Magic,” Scorpius replied almost sheepishly.

“Any particular area?” the redhead asked, not missing a beat. “As in certain locales, age, and so on?”

“I like tales of the Caribbean,” Scorpius answered, smiling faintly.  “Some of the witches and wizards from there were really fantastical.  Oh!  There was this one witch named Sasmarta that cursed every single person in her village to start seeing things if they approached a member of the opposite sex.  She thought it was hysterical to watch, apparently, but the technique itself is amazing.”

Humming, Lavi nodded in thanks as the wizard held a door open and in turn waited with Scorpius as the other two passed through. “Is there a wizarding school there?”

The blond nodded.  “Yes.  Well, sort of.  Actually, it’s in Brazil, and there are a couple in North America as well,” he explained.  “I can’t remember the names off the top of my head, though.”

“Brazil, hm?” And the Bookman heir seemed to file that away somewhere in that confusing mind of his.

Pale eyes narrowed.  “Why the interest?” he asked suspiciously.

That was when Albus found them, saving the redhead from having to answer.  “SCORPIUS!!!  THANK MERLIN!” the boy yelled, and all but tackled his friend.  “I missed you so badly!”

Watching from the side, Miranda giggled and shook her head as Lavi added his two cents. “Dog pile!”

“Don’t you dare,” Scorpius snarled, shoving Albus away as quickly as he could.

The Potter blinked between the three of them, brows doing this funny little dance before he brightened up.  “Hey, snake!  You’re blushing.”

“Am not,” the boy hissed frigidly, and one hand went up to rub his cheek.

To his horror, Lavi edged in next to Albus, studying the blond’s expression. “Is that what he looks like when he blushes?” The redhead turned to the Potter boy. “What does it mean when he does this?” And the Bookman must have made some kind of face, but Scorpius couldn’t see...

Albus blinked, then snickered.  “Oh, that’s ‘I found this hilarious but I cannot show it because I am a prissy Malfoy’,” he said, beaming.

Behind the redhead, Scorpius twitched.

“Aa!” said Lavi. “Oh!” said Miranda. Reever mercifully said nothing.

Scorpius drew in a deep, silent breath in order to calm himself as Albus laughed.  “Oh, have you come across this one?”  And he made another face that had the blond in question twitching some more.

Reever started edging away.

In front of him, Lavi had stilled. “Oh yes. A few times,” he replied lightly. “Usually along with ‘Yuu-grade Mach 2’ glare. Like the one I’m feeling right now.” The twit then threw a glance over his shoulder at the blond wizard. “Ooo... that one might be a Mach 3.”

“Lavi!” Miranda scolded, one hand over her mouth. Which was failing to hide the wide grin beneath.

Somehow, the mere sound of the woman’s voice seemed to snap Scorpius out of his ire.  “We need to make our report and go check in with Matron.  You, Albus, are going to return to whatever you were doing before we arrived and I will find you later.”  The ‘or else’ was implied.  “I will find you later.”

Frowning, Reever watched on as Albus puffed up.  Was it necessary to repeat that?  Then again, it was Albus, so it just possibly might have been.

“Where d’you get off ordering me around, snake?” Albus snapped.

The blond bit back a smile and sneered instead.  “The answer is obvious.  I am a Malfoy and you are only a Potter.  Goodbye.”  With that, he walked around the dark-haired boy and stalked ahead.

Albus laughed.  “Oooh, he’s mad.  I should go hide.  Nice to see you, Lavi, Miranda!”

The two exorcists, one frowning in worried confusion and the other watching with his head canted to the side, waved and called out their farewells.

Moving over to the concerned Miranda, Lavi sighed. “Don’t even try to unravel that one,” he advised, dropping an arm over her shoulders. “At least they aren’t as bad as Allen and Yuu.”

“Mr Kanda is not--” Was about as far as Miranda got in her protest before Lavi grinned suddenly.

“And that,” he announced, dropping both bags to the floor, “is a grade ten!”

Miranda blinked. “What?”

“Lavi...” Uh oh. When did Kanda get here?

“Yes, Yuu?”

“Mugen...”

Scorpius, who had stopped at the end of the hall, just smiled.

xXx

After threatening the idiot with both verbal and physical reasons, this was the conversation that Kanda walked into once Lavi had been buried halfway through a wall.

“--and now all we need to do is get me shot with an akuma bullet.”

“I think you’ve lost your bloody mind!” Albus half-shouted, arms flailing a bit.  “There’s no way you’ll convince anybody to let that happen, and anyway- YOU’VE LOST YOUR BLOODY MIND!”

Later, Kanda would blame the earlier beating of the Bookman for his mellow response. “What the fuck are you talking about?”

His words caused James to jump, and as the older Potter turned to face him, Kanda watched as James’ features paled. “Er... I better not. Um, welcome home, Kanda?”

Albus, as usual, had automatically shifted closer to James at the interruption.  However, he quickly relaxed when he realized who it was.  “He wants to test his stupid theory!  You should try talking him out of it.  He’s not listening to me.”

“Akuma bullets,” Kanda repeated. “You want to stand in front of an akuma... and ‘test’.”

Rubbing one hand on an arm, James nodded. “I can’t ask anyone else to be a test subject,” he said. “Everyone else is...” Waving a hand, he trailed off, shrugging.

“Fuck no.” That was an easy decision. The Japanese man crossed his arms and glared.

“Kanda...”

“See?” Albus burst out.  “Even Kanda agrees that you’ve lost your bloody mind!  There’s no way that-”

Shaking his head, James shot a pleading look at his brother. “It needs to be done! Or else what is the point of researching a serum? Medicine needs to be tested. I could try cats and other animals, but I don’t have an inoculation--or the time to create one--that is genetically focused on animals. I only have humans.”

Kanda snarled and stalked forward, the Potter boy only realizing his proximity when he grabbed the wizard’s shoulders. “You are insane! Test it on the finders. What is the point in you dying to test a serum if, when you are dead, there is no one to continue your work?”

As far as the swordsman knew, from James’ rambling monologues for the past few weeks, the Black Order’s one pure wizard was the only one working on a cure. He thought James had realized that. It was obvious. Evidently the man was a fucking moron.

“I’ve got notes!” James sputtered, hands coming up to wave in the air on either side of Kanda’s arms. “Clear scientific journals.”

The idiot wasn’t even denying that he could die.

His grip tightened. “No.”

Albus cleared his throat.  “You could always do it to Komui...” he offered, half joking.  At least Komui was better than James.

“I can’t ask that of him!” James protested, twisting around to his brother. “I can’t--”

“The finders,” Kanda interrupted, “die as fast as Moyashi inhales his fucking noodles. You’re giving them a chance to at least last longer. Use them.”

His brother was nodding.  “Yeah, he’s got a point!  I mean, it’s technically their job anyway, right?” he added.

Under his hands, James had stilled. “You shouldn’t say that,” he murmured. The wizard glanced once up into Kanda’s face and then looked away. “If Komui hadn’t given me this project, I was going to volunteer as a finder.”

Albus paled.  “... what?” he breathed, eyes widening.  Had he heard that right?

“You imbecile.” Kanda growled and shoved James away from him before he did... something. “It’s bullshit. Stay in the fuckng lab.”

Spinning on his heel, Kanda stalked for the exit.

And that was when the younger Potter’s brain restarted.  With a furious yell, Albus lunged at James, and they both tumbled to the floor.  “STUPID!  MORON!!!  IIIDDDIOTTT!!”

“Bloody hell, Albus!” The older boy yelped as his head bounced off the mat. “I have reasons!”

The slamming of the dojo door was Kanda’s clear opinion of those reasons.

“THEY SUCK!” Albus yelled, and bashed his brother upside the head with his fist.  “YOU suck!  You’re a BLOODY IDIOT!”

James grabbed hold of one rising fist and twisted, the two of them rolling again. “I’m getting somewhere with this serum, Albus,” he panted, once he was sitting across his brother’s stomach. “I don’t want to risk anyone else.”

Wincing at the blow the younger Potter got in on his ribs, the lab tech pinned that flailing arm too. “This is something I can do!” he added. “I can help!”

“Not at the cost of your life!” Albus snarled.  “Idiot!  I promised Mum!”

Sighing, James thumped his brother’s wrists against the mats. “I am not trying to get myself killed, Albus. I’m trying to keep people alive.” Frowning at the growl this induced, he tried again. “What if this will save Dad when he gets involved? Mum? All the innocents dragged into this war?”

Albus scowled at him furiously.  “Don’t you dare.  Don’t you bloody dare!”

“Dare what?” James snarled back, his temper fraying. “Save people I care about? We care about? And what promise did you give Mum? You can’t even promise you won’t die.” His head hanging down, James let out a frustrated yell. “You’re my brother... I can’t... I won’t let you go out there alone. Don’t you see?”

The younger boy was glaring still.  “I’m not alone!  I have Scorpius!  And anyway, what the hell do you think’ll happen if you end up dying trying to create this stupid thing?”

James stilled, blinking, as something in his chest twinged. Am I so useless that he won’t consider me by his side? Nodding slowly, he let go of Albus. “Right,” he sighed. “You’re right.”

Albus had Scorpius.

Staggering to his feet, he forced himself to smile. “I’ll... talk things over with Komui.”

The younger boy looked a bit lost as he stumbled to his feet.  “What?” he said, face lax with his confusion at James’ sudden capitulation.

“Kanda had a good idea,” James said, waving off his sibling’s question. “I should have listened.” And right now, he needed to think. Calm down. I’m not replaced... just... not as protected out there.

His brother was still staring at him in that hopelessly confused manner, but he finally nodded.  “Okay...  I’ll... see you later, then?” he asked.

“Of course.”  Because he wasn’t going to leave Albus’ side. All James needed to do was remind Albus of that.

Chapter Text

Hm.  Interesting...  “So everything was tidied up, then?”

The blond before him inclined his head.  “Yes, Mr. Lee,” Scorpius replied calmly.  “They arrested them.  Surprisingly, none of the enemy had died when we left.  They were all transported off for trial and, likely, Azkaban.”

“And Mr. Krum?” Komui asked, steepling his fingers as he considered the rather worrisome news.  If dark witches and wizards began to take a vested interest in Innocence...  They can’t use it, but... they could very easily band together with the Noah.  Or worse.  I still don’t know enough about how magic works.

Before him, Scorpius was tilting his head slightly.  “Master Krum?” he said.  “He and his ward were unharmed.  I’m not sure I understand your interest, Mr. Lee.”

The Chinese man blinked and shook off his thoughts.  “Oh, I’m just curious!  Such a supposedly famous wizard came to help you, after all!  And he and his ward saw a lot...”  He smiled at the youth.

Blue eyes shifted away.  “Yes...  Well.  I...”  He seemed to fumble for a moment before peeking up again, as if unsure how to respond to that.

Komui took pity on the boy and lowered his hands to lay flat against the desk.  “Calm down.  You’re not in trouble.  I just find it interesting, is all.  You wizards are a fascinating lot!”  He waved a hand and sobered.  “Thank you for doing so much to rescue Miranda.”

“O-of course,” Scorpius said, shoulders stiffening.  “She’s a comrade.  It’s my duty.”

Oh is that so?  Komui bit back the urge to cackle at the obvious fudging of the truth.  He’d initially thought that it would take Scorpius Malfoy the most time to get accustomed to the thought of living here.  However, it seemed he was wrong; Scorpius appeared to be the most comfortable with the situation.  I wonder why?

“Well then!  You should check in with Matron!” Komui said cheerfully.

Scorpius opened his mouth, but the door slammed open at that moment, revealing an annoyed looking Kanda.  Oh now what have I done? Komui internally grumbled.  The blond before him apparently decided that was his cue, nodded towards the chief, and slipped out as Kanda stalked in.

“James is never to be a finder.”

Well that was straight to the point.  “Ah, yes...”  The Chief gave Kanda his best smile.  “What brought this about, I wonder...”

One dark blue brow twitched. “Just agree with me, Komui,” the exorcist snarled, shoving the door closed. “Then you can babble.”

With a starter like that, how can I even resist?  “That reminds me!  Can you please not beat Lavi up so badly right after he returns from a mission?  I realize he pokes at you, but I’d hoped you’d have attained more restraint than that over the years...”

“I did,” Kanda said flatly. “He’s only bruised.” Striding up to Komui’s desk, he placed his hands down on the paperwork, leaning over the entire mess. Black eyes narrowed. “James was going to be a finder. He was going to volunteer. You knew that.”

Komui nodded slowly, reluctantly giving up on being annoying.  Now was not the time, it would seem.  "I did know that," he agreed mildly.  "Why do you think he has his current job, Kanda?"

Scowling, the exorcist straightened. “Did he tell you he wants to be shot?”

Paling, Komui stared up at the samurai.  "He what?" he blurted.  No wonder he's so upset!  "Why?  How?  Why?"

“You’re the fucking scientist,” Kanda replied caustically. “Why would a lab tech want to be shot with an akuma bullet? His fucking serum, Komui. He wants to test.”

Reaching up, Komui pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes.  "Dear god," he breathed, and shook his head. He dropped his hand, sighing.  "I apologize, Kanda.  I will speak with him."  He grimaced.  "Thank you for notifying me."  Of all the stupid, reckless-!  Those Potters will be the death of me...

Kanda’s scowl eased a fraction as he huffed. “No fucking point in saving him from enlisting if he puts himself in front of a cannon anyway. Apology accepted.” Giving a short bow, the Japanese man muttered a quick ‘goodbye’ and strode out of the room.

Damn.  One more worry on top of the rest, the remaining man thought, and got up.  He had to go find James, and check on Miranda.

As he stepped out of his office, another thought occurred to him, prompting a grin.  And see my dear sweet Lenaleeeeee~

xXx

“Thanks Jeri! You’re the best!” Beaming at the blushing chef, Allen stepped to the side to wait for his order. Beside him, Krory was smiling in that hesitant way of his. “What?” the white-haired boy asked, playfully tilting his head. “He is!”

The vampire-like man shook his head, still smiling.  "No, you're right."

Nodding, Allen turned to survey the mess hall. “Separate tables again or do you think we both can fit on one?” The last time the two had sat side by side, the great oak table had collapsed...

"Ohh...  Hm."  Krory considered the rows of tables.  "Perhaps separate.  I am reluctant to have to fix it again..."  Since Komui had made them do that the last time.  "Maybe if we're lucky, we can find two near each other!"

It went without saying that they would be offered whichever tables they picked to themselves.  People had a tendency to steer clear during meals.

All those months at Hogwarts, and Allen was beginning to think that one of the teachers had spelled his plates not to fall. Because when he came back to the Order, the stacks had crashed to the side on the first night. Of course, he had been careful since then... and it had been months... Surely the others would forgive him for breaking a few plates. He had gotten the knack of it again. Just not perfectly; his ceramic towers wobbled now.

“I really should find out if there was a spell for that,” Allen mused, grey eyes scanning over the packed room.

“Oh, that reminds me, Allen...  Could I ask you a question?” Krory asked, turning his full attention on his companion as they waited.  Hopeful.

Blinking, the white-haired exorcist nodded. “Of course. Go ahead.”

The older man grinned brightly.  “What was it like?” he asked, eyes wide.  “I heard there were ghosts and all manner of other strange creatures!”  He paused, then clarified at Allen’s blank look.  “Oh, I apologize.  I meant... Hogwarts.  I mean, I tried asking Kanda, but he just... erm... glared at me and walked off.  And the wizard boys were more or less upfront about it, but they were wizards first, not exorcists.  I rather think your viewpoint would be fascinating and...”  He paused, realizing he was rambling excitedly, and smiled sheepishly.  “Yes.  That.”

Laughing at the sheer number of words that had just spilled from the otherwise reticent vampire, Allen grinned. “What was it like? Wow, um... First of all, there was a lot to do about presentation. Like you know how certain people like to make sure everything is precisely in place for a banquet? Picture that, add several years of ‘oh, I can place this between that’, and you would have Hogwarts. There’s stuff everywhere for every occasion.”

“Kanda hated it.” Allen had to snicker. “They also liked to use magic whenever they could. Like, the mail would sometimes be spelled to scold people. In an actual voice. Complete with teeth and angry gestures.” Shaking his head, the boy chuckled. “And yes, there were ghosts. Somehow wizard ghosts don’t die or change like the ones we’re used to. One named Voldemort had the entire community scared spitless for twenty years or so until James’ Dad finally killed him off.”

At that moment, the bell rang and Allen waited while Krory collected his meals. “Go ahead and find a table,” he offered. “I’ll come over when Jeri is done.”

“Of course!” Krory chirped, pausing to beam at his friend.  “Thank you!”  That said, he gathered up the rest of his food and quickly set about finding a table.  Considering he was Krory, and most of those present in the cafeteria had spotted him with Allen, this was accomplished fairly quickly.

Ten minutes later, Allen arrived and took the table right behind him, so that they were sitting more or less back to back.  Krory swallowed the food in his mouth and waved, grinning, before continuing.

The food was somewhat more important than satisfying his curiosity.

Quite a time later, with plates stacked all around, Allen gave a burp and a sigh. “I love Jeri’s cooking,” he said smiling widely.

Krory, whom was finishing off his last plate of food, nodded in complete agreement.  “He’s a bit of a genius, isn’t he?”  He shook his head and finally put down his fork.

“Oooh, yes.” Looking over the modest stacks of cookery, Allen tilted his head. “Let’s see... maybe partial levitation?” Throwing a wink at his fellow parasitic-innocence user, he dug his wand out of a pocket and made tight little wrist movements. “Wingardium Leviosa!”

Watching as the spell took hold, he mused,  “Maybe a bit of glue would help?”

The plates had at least stopped wobbling every time he breathed. Now they just seemed to... float.

Definitely glue. Or else when he moved the bottom the top would stay aloft. Would that be a binding spell? Hmm...

Staring at the display in undisguised, childish awe, Krory reached out to poke one of the plates.  “Amazing!” he breathed ecstatically.

Allen could only shrug. A little sheepishly. “They do things like this all the time. You get desensitized to it after a while.” Like a few months give or take. Wrinkling his pale brows, he tapped his wand against his sleeve. “How to get them to stay together?”

Wasn’t there a sticking charm? He didn’t really remember how it went but it should be...

Thirty seconds later, Allen was beaming up at the floating and securely stuck together plates. “Perfect!”

“Fantastic,” Krory said in awe, and poked them again.  “Wow!  Was it hard to learn how to do these things?”  Dark grey eyes shifted to peer at the white-haired exorcist imploringly.

Grimacing, Allen waffled, tucking the wand away. “I think it was much easier for the wizards than for us. They were used to thinking of magic, we weren’t. It took forever to get a wand that would agree with me.” Standing, he cautiously took hold of one of the bobbing stacks. It behaved and he breathed a sigh of relief.

And was instantly incredibly thankful that they floated on their own when a chuckle came from right beside him. “I hope you know the dispelling charm, Allen. Else Jeri is going to be having a hard time washing those plates.”

Krory jerked and looked over, eyes widening.  “Oh!  Mr. Potter!” he gasped, and smiled.  “Good afternoon!  We were just... uh...”  His gaze shifted to Allen, not sure how to continue that.  “Hm.”

But the hybrid exorcist-wizard was giving James a worried look. “Dispelling?”

“Hi Krory. Call me James.” The Potter boy waved off any concerns. “You cemented them together,” he pointed out to Allen. “You need to unstick them later, right?”

Blink. Blink. Cringe. “Uh...”

Rolling his eyes, James grinned. “Finite incantatem.”

“Oh. Right.” Allen hung his head. “Thank you.”

Krory smiled at the exchange.  “Lucky for us James was here,” he said cheerfully, ever the optimist.  “How goes your day, James?  Well, I hope?”  He got to his feet and began to stack his plates in the cart he’d used to bring them over.

The wizard paused. “Er... It goes,” he hedged. The morning’s conversation between the brothers was still rather raw. Reaching out, he snagged a few stacks of dishes from Allen’s cache and tugged them along by his fingertips. “You?”

Between the two older men, Allen was sheepishly herding up his remaining dishes.

“I’m doing well today!” Krory replied.  “Actually, I’ve been considering on starting a garden...  I shall talk to Komui about it...  Hm.  Maybe some very rare flowers, what do you think, Allen?”

Stiff-backed and a little wide-eyed, Allen fumbled one of the stacks and it floated a few inches on its own before stopping. “What kind of rare flowers do you have in mind?” he asked warily.

Glancing between the two, James let his eyebrows speak for him. This was interesting.

“Well,” Krory began, seemingly oblivious to Allen’s distress, “I must admit, I miss the garden I used to have.”

Allen started to pale.

xXx

Deep within the stacks and shelves of books, the common place quiet settling through the muted lighting of the library, Scorpius was tucked into a corner.  With a book, naturally.  He’d been poking through things when he came upon this particular book, and it was like his first trip to Honeydukes.  Or at least, that was how excited he was.

This book was a very old tome, so old it was handwritten and slightly faded.  It was entitled ‘The Modern History of Camelot’.  Modern.  History.  It was an old history book of the kingdom of Albion!

The lost kingdom of Albion.

With a grin that never quite faded as the hours passed, Scorpius poured over the book eagerly.  Occasionally, he’d get up to search out another book either referenced in his current tome, or to help explain something he didn’t quite understand.  For the most part though, he remained in his little corner.

Until he heard the soft sound of someone walking nearby.  Not his aisle, but close.  The footsteps stopped, and there was the shifting of books.  A thunk, followed by a muttered oath in a familiar voice.

Blinking, Scorpius tilted his head.  “Lavi?” he called out, brows furrowing.

There was a very long pause, a softer thunk, and then a sigh. “Er, yeah. Sorry. Just dropped a book on my foot.” A rustle of fabric, and the soft scrape of a leather-bound cover on wood. “Bugger was heavy.”

“Oh.”  Scorpius climbed to his feet and rounded the nearby corner of the bookshelf, smiling at his friend when the redhead came into view.  “Guess what I found?”  He was sure to cover the title so Lavi couldn’t cheat.

Kneeling on the floor, one hand rubbing the top of his booted foot, the other boy scrutinized the cover. “I don’t think I’ve seen that one,” he muttered at last. “I give up. What is it?”

Moving his fingers off the title, the blond’s smile widened.  “The Modern History of Camelot,” he said excitedly.  “It talks all about the lost kingdom of Albion!  And it’s handwritten!”

“Oh yeah?” Lavi lit up like a light and stood up. One step later, he was bouncing right in front of the wizard’s nose. “Well, let me see!”

The blond obligingly held it out for his friend, beaming.  “Here.  Er...”  He glanced around, blinking.  “I think there was a table in here... I saw one earlier,” he muttered.  “We can go sit there.”

Lavi let out a cough. “No, just let me take a look at the inside; I’ll borrow it after you’re done.” Waving to the stack of books that were resting on the floor where he had been kneeling, the redhead grinned. “I’ve got enough to keep me busy for a while anyway.”

“Oh.”  Scorpius gave him a sheepish look.  “Right.”  He let Lavi take the book, tilting his head as he considered the other boy.

It was strange.  He hadn’t realized it, but in the last day and a half or so that they’d been back, he hadn’t seen Lavi at all.  Then again, Headquarters was rather large, so he supposed it wasn’t unreasonable to think that Lavi had just been busy.

Well, that was probably it, anyway.  “Isn’t it fantastic?” he asked after a moment of watching Lavi turn through the pages curiously.

Giving an absent-minded hum, the Bookman reverently traced a finger over the lines of an illustrated letter. “They really don’t make books like they used to,” he replied, carefully closing the tome. Flashing the blond a smile, Lavi passed the book back. “Thanks! I’ll look for this sometime later. For now, those beauties have me reserved.”

Scorpius nodded.  “Alright.  Um...”  He pulled the book in his hands closer, brow furrowed slightly.  “Well... then I’ll see you at dinner?  Or something...”

“Or something,” Lavi agreed, nodding. Stooping down, he scooped up the small mountain of texts--something about Aztecs. The sheer weight of the books caused him to list to the right a little, but he seemed to be okay as he balanced the lot on his shoulder. “Jaa ne!”

Scorpius frowned as he watched the redhead go, that answer echoing behind him.  ‘Or something’.  But it didn’t mean anything.  Maybe Lavi was just too busy to make it to dinner.  That was a lot of reading, after all, so it made sense.  Right?

Yes.  That’s it.  There’s no reason for you to be thinking otherwise.  He was just being a bit silly, and so with that in mind, he shoved the thoughts away and went back to his spot.  Back to his reading.

Even if, every now and then over the next few hours, Scorpius caught himself wondering.

Chapter Text

“No.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“No.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Fuck you. I said no!”

 

Throwing his hands up in the air, James turned from Kanda. “You shouldn’t even have a say on this!”

 

“And I thought Komui made this pretty fucking clear!” Kanda snarled at his back. “You are not going out there to get yourself shot!”

 

Letting out a frustrated sound, the wizard whirled around and growled. “What Komui said is between me and--Wait. You are the one who told him?!”

 

Instead of looking even the slightest bit guilty, the black-haired man tilted his chin up. “Of course. You were being an idiot.”

 

“You!” Really, there were no words. Shoving both hands up into his hair, James stalked over to the bookcase and grabbed his notes. He needed to get away from the exorcist before more than just words went flying. Bloody hell, Kanda would still win that fight too.

 

A hand slammed into the wooden shelves and James winced as several nicknacks rattled and fell from their perch. Thank goodness for hardening charms. “Where are you going?”

 

Glaring up the line of muscle from the hand to the shoulder to head, James scowled at Kanda. “I’ve got research to do.”

 

Dark eyes narrowed. “You gave samples out to the finders already.” That wasn’t a question.

 

Grudgingly, James nodded. The vials had been passed out last night. The test group had been cautiously hopeful, though only he seemed to be willing to truly test it.

 

“So be a good scientist and wait for the fucking results,” Kanda insisted. “That’s what scientists do, don’t they? Sit around and fucking observe.”

 

James blinked at that. That was... bitter. He couldn’t tell if the derision was aimed at himself or the field in general. The strange thing was... the words were bitter, the tone wasn’t.

 

“Hold on...” Shaking his head, he repeated his plea as Kanda’s scowl went darker. “No, no, ‘hold on’ as in--Look, I’m not fighting you.” The exorcist snorted. “Okay, now, I’m not arguing.” To make his point, James put his notes down.

 

The other man backed off a few feet, giving the wizard a wary glare.

 

Sighing, the wizard sank down onto his bed, one hand snapping out to stop the folder of notes from sliding off the covers. “Merlin, you’re touchy,” he muttered as Kanda’s eyes narrowed when his fingers touched paper. With exaggerated movements, James opened the nightstand drawer and dropped the file in. The drawer closed with a thunk.

 

It was almost amusing the way the exorcist eased down.

 

“Look,” James began, “you go out to fight Akuma. You rely on your own senses; your instincts and experience to tell you what to do. Right?”

 

The tension was back. “Yes,” Kanda said, “but I’m an exorcist. I’m... It’s what I am. My purpose.”

 

“Like saying a wizard is about casting spells or seeing ghosts,” James added. “It’s what we do. Born to, infact.”

 

“Where are you going with this,” the other man demanded, frown already in place.

 

Grimacing, James held up his hands. “Only that I am not a natural scientist. What I learn or observe is strictly from first hand experience. If I were more experienced then maybe I would be more inclined to take reports from the field, but I’d still be missing the details even if I could translate and extract the applicable information.”

 

Yep, that scowl was really going dark.

 

“Even if the finders were the only ones with the serum in them--” The swordsman blinked once. Twice. And then all expression smoothed away. James rushed his next few words. “--I’d still want to be out there with them. Though, I will endeavor to stay out of the way.”

 

Pale hands fisted and the exorcist advanced on the wizard. “What the fuck do you mean, ‘if’, James? ‘Even if the finders were the only ones’,” Kanda snarled into James’ face. “Who else would have it?”

 

Oops... “I can’t bloody well tell someone else to take the serum if I can’t safely say there are no side effects.” Really. Some scientists had no morals; James still had his.

 

“Idiot!” One hand shot out, grabbing his left wrist and yanking it forward. James winced, then sighed as his sleeve was shoved up, exposing his forearm and elbow.

 

He had never held a needle in that position before; it had required a bit of practice to hit the perfect angle. The track marks along the vein of his inner elbow showed dark blue and purple in the light.

 

With another sigh, James looked back up at Kanda. “Looks worse than it is,” he muttered. Mostly because I’m not breaking out in sores anymore. Thank Merlin for illusion charms. Those had hurt.

 

The exorcist was silent, fingers of his free hand ghosting up to touch each puncture. A few were a week old, others just in the past forty-eight hours.

 

Uneasy, the wizard tentatively pulled on his trapped wrist, but Kanda only tightened his hold. “Kanda?” James prompted. “I’m fine.”

 

“No, you’re not,” was the low reply as a cool finger skirted the pink flesh of a round scar.

 

Er, right... that reaction had not been... good. As in tissue that died in a matter of seconds. A particularly nasty shock that had been. He hadn’t even touched the plunger before the burn had begun.

 

Shifting his eyes away, James stared down at the colourful quilt he had gotten just a few months ago. “Alright, I’m fine now,” he admitted softly.

 

Two fingertips bracketing the two and a half inch scar, Kanda shook his head. “You’re not fine, James. You’re insane.” He finally let go of James’ wrist, but only to bring both hands up to hold the wizard by the shoulders. “Komui did not mean this!”

 

Which was obvious... but... “I can’t test on anyone else!” James insisted, gaze still locked on the waving fronds of a stitched fern. The quilt was made up in a forest theme. Somewhere, there was a deer.

 

“You could have died!” This was punctuated with a few hard shakes.

 

Glancing at the marks on his arm, James grimaced. “I realize that, Kanda. However, it’s my project, so it’s my responsibility to make it as safe as possible for others--”

 

But Kanda wasn’t listening. Still gripping the wizard’s shoulders, the swordsman let his head hang down. “And I wouldn’t even know why.”

 

Slumping a little, James gave up. “You shouldn’t worry,” he said, his right hand coming up to rest on Kanda’s left wrist.

 

Sinew flexed under his fingers as Kanda’s fingers tightened. “I do what I want,” the exorcist snarled as he straightened.

 

Huffing a weak laugh, James shook his head and looked up at him. “So, why can’t I do what I want?”

 

“You want a reason?”

 

Blink. “Yeah, I do.”

 

And James had one moment of pure astonishment as Kanda leaned in. What? The pale man’s lips were chapped and dry, but warm. And they mashed against his in an abrupt movement that nearly bruised.

 

The ‘kiss’ lasted for all of two seconds, and then Kanda pulled away, expression as black as before. “There’s your fucking reason.”

 

Blinking, James barely felt the exorcist let go of his shoulders. “Ah... okay.”

 

“Tch.”

 

Maybe first-hand observations aren’t as dependable as I thought, James thought muzzily as he blinked again a few moments later. When did Kanda leave?

 

Because the exorcist had indeed left the room.

 

Wait.

 

Suspicion building, James leaned over and wrenched open the nightstand’s one and only drawer.

 

He took the notes!

 

xXx

 

Scorpius was wandering down a hallway, nose buried in his book, when he heard voices from around the corner.  He recognized one; he would forever recognize that voice.  The other was deeper, more gravelly, and wholly unfamiliar.

 

For some reason, Scorpius’ heart jumped into his throat, and he ducked into a nearby room as they grew closer.  He leaned against the wall, the door opened a crack, and listened, fingers clutching at his chest.

 

“... to understand,” the unfamiliar male was saying.  “It’s their job.”

 

“All I wanted was the current up to date dictionary!” Lavi burst out. “I do not need a pair of breasts attempting to teach me spoken Spanish!”

 

The stranger snorted.  “Really,” he deadpanned.

 

Breasts?  Scorpius’ brow furrowed slightly.  Really, Lavi.  That’s rude.

 

There was an impatient huff from the redhead. “Hey, maybe you haven’t been flirted with for the past hundred years, gramps, but I know the difference between honest earnestness and ‘Hello I’d like you to be introduced to my two mountains’.” There was a pause. “And yes, I had better things to do than get smothered.”

 

“Like learn Spanish,” ‘gramps’ offered.  The two of them were very close now, just about to pass by, when the man changed the subject.  “Which reminds me.  Have you managed to learn much about the Wizards’ culture?  Komui mentioned you’ve been speaking with them a lot.”

 

“That’s why I was trying to study,” Lavi shot back sullenly. “I’ve found a few books that I think are from the academy in Brazil, but they’re in Portuguese. Spanish is the closest language the Black Order has in their library.”

 

Scorpius blinked, and smiled slightly, recalling the conversation he’d had with Lavi.  The old man sighed.  “I see.  Why don’t you just ask one of them if they know how to read it?”

 

What is that note in his voice? the blond wondered.

 

“Er...” If he could see Lavi, the redhead was probably wrinkling his nose and rubbing a hand through the mess of hair at the back of his head. Scorpius had heard that tone often enough to know Lavi didn’t want to answer. Though why the boy didn’t want to, escaped his understanding. “... I don’t want to take up his time.”

 

There was a brief moment of silence, and the note Scorpius had heard before was still present.  “His?”

 

“Eh? Uh--All the wizards are guys, gramps. Did you not notice? Man! Your eyes must be really going!” Lavi laughed. “You do still know Yuu is male right?”

 

Scorpius blinked, brow furrowing slightly as he heard a soft thunk.  “My eyes are just fine, boy!” the older man yelled.

 

… they’re all so very needlessly violent, the eavesdropper thought bemusedly.  And suddenly realized that the two outside the door weren’t moving on.  Now what are they waiting for??

 

“Ow! You know what?” He could hear the pout in the boy’s voice. “Next time, when you can’t tell the difference between red and green--” The stomping of Lavi’s boots rang out clear on the hard stone floor. And they were coming closer. “--I won’t tell you!”

 

Oh no.  He’s going to come in here, isn’t he? Scorpius thought, panicking as he glanced around the room briefly.  Panic surged further when he finally noted a few things that he knew belonged to the redhead.  Oh Merlin, I’m in his room!

 

Walking quickly over the carpeted floor, Scorpius sat down onto the bed and opened the book to his saved spot- approximately a dozen pages from the end.  And then the door was being shoved open.  By habit, the blond’s icy mask fell into place as blue eyes lifted from his book.

 

Lavi’s head was still turned back as he continued mouthing off to his companion. “And don’t even start about security,” the redhead grumbled as he stopped on the threshold, the door thudding against the wall. “You’ve left your room wide open for all to see before. I don’t have anything in my room that isn’t locked down. Besides, who would want to come into my room?”

 

Now the blond had a view of the other man, barely.  Those dark eyes shifted beyond Lavi, meeting Scorpius’ own.  “Besides him?” he replied flatly.

 

Willing his expression not to change as his friend whipped around, the wizard merely waited.

 

“Who--Oh, Holy Mother of God!” That was a good foot at least. Lavi could certainly jump when he wanted to. Or didn’t. Whichever. The exorcist had also dropped the book he was holding.

 

Landing almost on the book, Lavi grabbed at the doorway for balance. “Scorpius! What the hell!”

 

Willing his heart to stop pounding so loudly-can he hear it?-Scorpius quirked a single brow.  “I apologize for startling you,” he replied coolly, half amused and half annoyed.  Really, it wasn’t like he’d jumped out at the older boy.  He was just sitting.  “I’m almost done with the book.”

 

In the meantime, Lavi was still gulping air. “I thought, I said I’d go look for it!” he wheezed out. “I did, didn’t I? Um, well. Thanks?”

 

Scorpius stood as casually as he could manage.  “You did.  I thought I would save you the trouble.”  He paused, that brow settling in its proper place again.  “Who is your friend?”

 

Blinking, the redhead spun around to face the man still out in the hall, paused, then: “You knew!”

 

“Of course I knew, you idiot.  You should pay more attention to your surroundings,” the small old man replied, brow twitching.

 

Lifting his hands from the doorjamb, Lavi reached out as if to strangle the other male, but dropped them with a huff. Half turning back, Lavi waved a hand between the two on either side of him. “Scorpius, this is Bookman, head of the Bookman clan, historian, and exorcist; Old Panda, Scorpius Malfoy, heir to the Malfoy family, wizard of Hogwarts, and former Slytherin.”

 

“Oh!”  Scorpius’ eyes widened briefly before he forced his non-expression once again.  He bowed.  “It is an honor to meet you.”

 

The old man lifted both brows before returning the gesture.  “Likewise, Master Malfoy.”

 

Ruffling a hand through his hair, Lavi picked the book up and marched into his room. “If he was that honourable, he would have said something,” he said, placing the abused paperback on top of a few other thicker books. The desk there was developing quite the pile.

 

And Scorpius wasn’t quite sure which ‘he’ Lavi was muttering about.

 

“Hmph.  Well I’d best be going,” Bookman declared, frowning at Lavi’s back.  “I hope you and I might talk later, Master Malfoy?”

 

… why?  “Of course,” Scorpius replied calmly.

 

“Wait--What do you mean ‘going’?” squawked the redhead. “You and I need to talk!” Striding back to the door, Lavi paused there to glance at Scorpius. “Thanks for bringing the book; leave it there when you’re done. Much appreciated.”

 

The old man huffed.  “Stop following me around like a lost duckling!” he yelled, and there was a soft thwap before Lavi stumbled backwards into the room.  “I have things to do!  And you have business with Master Malfoy.”  That said, the man in the doorway reached in, grabbed the handle, and slammed said door shut in his wake.

 

Scorpius blinked after the man, then looked at Lavi, concerned.  “Are you alright?”

 

Rubbing his chest, the redhead was still facing the exit. “Yeah... for an old man, Panda still strikes hard. Still,” Lavi shrugged as he turned, his hand dropping into his pants pocket, “the hit could have been harder.” He offered a small smile. “So! How’s the book?”

 

“... it’s fine,” the blond responded, eying his friend.  He shrugged.  “... I’m almost done with it.  Only a few pages to the end.  I expected you to take longer.”

 

With a small frown, Lavi looked around at the mess his room was in. “You were going to read in here?”

 

Brow quirking, Scorpius fought the urge to swallow nervously.  “Yes.”  He shrugged, unable to think of what else to say.  Why do I suddenly feel as if one-word answers are too short?  He’d been giving Lavi one-word answers last week.

 

Some strange emotion flickered across Lavi’s features and then it was gone. “Why?” Apparently, Lavi was still asking questions. Using single words too.

 

Why?  Scorpius blinked at him, tilting his head.  “I apologize if it’s a problem.  I didn’t mean to invade your privacy.”

 

“No, no. I--That’s not the question. I would just like to know, why here? You and I see each other in the library more often than here.” Lavi gestured at their surroundings, most of which Scorpius still hadn’t had time to examine.

 

Annoyance flared at that.  “Actually, we haven’t been, except once,” the blond replied without thinking, then cringed inwardly.  In an attempt to correct his folly, he added quickly, “You’re probably busy, I thought, so... I came here...”

 

The redhead was staring at the floor. “Ah... well... I see you at the library... I guess you didn’t see me.” Shifting his weight, Lavi continued to talk to the carpet. “Sorry, I’ve just been... Well, didn’t think you’d notice if I was busy.” Green eyes flashed up through red bangs to meet blue. “Sorry.”

 

Feeling a bit guilty, Scorpius shook his head.  “No... don’t apologize.  It’s okay.  I understand,” he replied with a smile that was probably more hopeful than it should be.  “People get busy.”

 

Lavi sighed. Then chuckled weakly. “I guess I shouldn’t try ignoring you. I might get hexed instead of just getting the shit scared out of me.” So saying, the exorcist walked over to the chair by his desk, turned it to face his guest, and flopped down in it. “What have you been up to lately, Master Malfoy?” he asked with a wide grin.

 

The blond gave him an annoyed look.  He was avoiding me!  “Reading,” he said flatly.  “And you are quite correct.  I will hex you if you do that again.”  Eyes like ice narrowed.  “And now I know the signs.”

 

“Whoa. Do what?” Lavi straightened in his chair, hands up in front of him. “What signs? I didn’t do anything!”

 

The younger boy frowned at him.  “You were avoiding me.  I thought I was just being paranoid.  You just said otherwise.”

 

Blinking rapidly, Lavi waved his hands. “No.... no. See, what I said was... Er, huh. Okay, I can see how it could be taken that way, but...  Um... Aw, crap. Sorry. Won’t do it again.” The last was said with the most hangdog expression Scorpius have ever seen Lavi pull yet.

 

The anger ebbed away, and Scorpius sighed.  “I forgive you,” he replied, and then gave his friend a worried look.  “But I don’t understand.  Why were you avoiding me?”

 

“Er... Awwww...” Lavi rubbed both hands down over his face. Once his eye was clear, he peered up at Scorpius. “Promise you won’t get mad?”

 

The blond didn’t even have to consider that one, and nodded.  “I promise,” he replied sincerely.

 

Heaving in a deep breath, the Bookman heir folded his hands into his lap and straightened his back. “Alright. Here goes. I realize that this might come as a shock to you. And I am not going to make any demands of you. Now, or... I guess ever. If you so wish.” Shifting a bit, Lavi grimaced. “I do value our friendship, and I realize I am risking it...”

 

Pale brows furrowed in bemusement.  What is he getting at?

 

Some of his impatience had been obvious enough for Lavi to pick up, because the redhead smiled. Albeit nervously. “I was avoiding you, well, for two reasons. One because... I like you. Really like you. And two, because I believe it to be one sided.”

 

Scorpius almost opened his mouth and told Lavi he was an idiot for the second reason.  Then the first reason actually sank in as Lavi had meant it, and the Malfoy blinked.  “Oh,” was what he managed, after several attempts to so much as open his mouth.  “Wait... you like me?”  He couldn’t help it.  He had to be misunderstanding (and if he was, he was probably already a lost cause in the first place).  “Like...  um...”  How does one clarify that?

 

He had no answer for that question.

 

“Like, as in romantically,” Lavi supplied, his cheeks staining a bright red. “Which I understand is a shock. So, just--Anyway! That’s the reason for the avoidance.” Waving his hands, the boy looked away. “I was trying to... well, I can’t lie to you. And I was afraid you’d notice... and then--well--this would happen. And now I don’t know what to say, so I’m babbling, and I’m going to shut up now. Though, maybe I should give you some time to think. And maybe I’ll see you around--or not! No demands remember? Oh God.... I think I need to leave. Or breathe. Maybe both.”

 

Scorpius... wasn’t exactly listening.  At least, not until the words ‘I need to leave’.  “If you stopped talking, you would have an easier time breathing,” he suggested, staring at the redhead like he was something very new.  “Also, please recall what happened last time you tried to run away from me.”

 

Caught in the very act of rising from the chair, Lavi snapped his mouth shut and dropped back down. Thankfully, the Bookman did start breathing, even if it was a little heavily. Seeming far too flushed, he nodded, but didn’t try to move again. Or talk.

 

“Thank you,” the blond said, and shifted his weight back onto his heels.  He eyed the boy sitting before him, head canted slightly to the side.  Truthfully, this was new.  In so very many ways.  He just hadn’t ever thought of things in that manner before.  Hell, he’d so very rarely ever thought of girls in that manner- and that was only once when he was little and she was very pretty.

 

… then Rose had punched him in the nose and he’d never thought about it again.

 

Now here he was, and Lavi was so anxious and nervous... but Scorpius knew very well that deciding simply out of kindness wouldn’t be kind at all.  Not when the redhead was wearing that expression.

 

Finally, the pale wizard shook his head.  “Do we have to change?” he asked.  “How we act?”

 

Shaking his head violently, Lavi answered. “Not at all! No. How you are... is just fine.” Giving the blond the most earnest face in the history of... Scorpius’ personal history, Lavi added, “Stay the way you are; I’m... happy with that.”

 

The blond relaxed at that and smiled at his... well, were they still friends?  Yes.  Just... possibly more too?  “Oh good.”  His smile softened as he stepped forward.  “In that case...”  And leaned down, pressing a quick, chaste kiss to the redhead’s cheek.  “I don’t mind.”

 

Stunned would be a modest description for Lavi’s expression. Pole-axed would be closer. It was when Lavi blinked and half-lifted a hand, that the Bookman seemed to finally come alive.

 

A truly dopey grin took over, and Lavi let out a small chuckle. “That’s great,” he said softly and let out a laugh. “I was really worried there!”

 

“That’s because you’re an idiot that over-thinks things and then makes decisions based on half-collected information,” the blond retorted, frowning at him a beat.  But he couldn’t help dissolving into a smile again.  “Stupid.”

 

Shrugging helplessly, the redhead looked up at him. “Can’t help it. You can be intimidating sometimes.”

 

Oh.  Scorpius felt silly at that.  “Sorry.”

 

Smiling even wider, Lavi shook his head. “Don’t be. You’re awesome.” Ducking his head, Lavi choked out another laugh. “Oh God, I am hopeless. Uh... So, how’s the book? No, wait, I asked that already. Um...”

 

You really are an idiot, Scorpius thought with a fond smile as he resumed his seat on the bed.  “I’m going to sit here and finish reading it, if you don’t mind.  Then you can see for yourself,” he declared, and pointedly opened the tome.

 

“Excellent idea!” Lavi blurted, then slapped a hand over his mouth. “Fucking gag me,” he muttered. Reaching out, he snagged the first book that came to his fingertips. Bringing it around, he blinked at it. “I guess I’m gonna... try to study.”

 

Making sure he had complete control of his expression before he opened his mouth, Scorpius gave a dismissive shrug.  “If I am too distracting, I could go...”

 

Falling hook, line, and sinker, Lavi sprang up. “No! I didn’t mean--Oh... Oh, you’re evil.” Slumping back, the redhead wiped a hand down his face. “In that case, you stay right there!”

 

Lifting blue eyes to peer back at the other boy, Scorpius smiled again.  “If you say so,” he replied, and looked back down at his book.  “Luckily for you, I never intended on going.”  Not even if the idiot had demanded he do so.


Not now.