Pansy apparated into Hogsmeade, relieved she hadn't splinched herself. Her mind was racing, unable to process the past few hours. Her son had nearly died, his father waltzed back into their lives, and now, she had come to the realization Albus wasn't the only Potter boy self-medicating.
She patiently listened to James blame himself for introducing Albus to the finer points of herbal remedies and how it helped him cope while he was in school.
"Pans, I promise. It was just herbs. I swear I had no idea Al was doing harder drugs. Fuck, he's my little brother," she heard the young man sob on the other end of the phone, riddled with guilt. "I just wanted to make things easier for him. I didn't know this would happen."
Pansy clenched her teeth and shut her eyes tightly as she breathed in deeply to calm herself. In her heart, she couldn't blame James. Then who was to blame? Was anyone at all to blame?
Drugs, alcohol, sex, theft, deception, and the multitude of temptations that await the curious and the susceptible; she had experienced the exhilaration of their seduction in her time. A taste of these vices wasn't enough to fuel an addiction. They were merely distractions. Flights of fancy that take you away from reality and the root of the problem.
She grappled with the fact that there was no way to keep her son safe. Pansy now doubted her transparent approach to parenting; honestly telling Albus of her own experimentation and exploits while at school. Should she have been more guarded? Given him precautions, warnings, guidance?
Walking towards the Hogwarts gates in her flurry of what-ifs, the aroma of freshly roasted coffee filled her lungs. She spotted a new coffee shop, with its freshly varnished wood trim and matte black paint. Its warm light on the gloomy mid-morning beckoned her.
She walked up to the barista and placed her order. "A large dark roast, please."
"Room for cream?"
"No, thank you."
"Anything else I can get you?" the young woman asked.
Pansy eyed the delectable pastries. She gravitated toward all the decadent chocolate treats. A smile quirked across her face as a memory from third-year Defense Against the Dark Arts recalled itself. There were no Dementors around, but she sure as hell felt like someone sucked part of her soul out. "I change my mind. Two large cafe mochas, extra shot of espresso and two pain au chocolat."
The girl quickly made the drinks, handing them in a drink carrier along with a paper bag containing her treats.
Unable to resist, she took a sip of the warm frothy beverage. Her body felt soothed by the effects of caffeine, cocoa, and milk. Instantly, she felt like she could brave the day ahead.
Pansy strolled into the hospital wing with far less dramatics than she had the night before. Her mind was still clouded but could feel the rays of clarity slowly shining through. When she reached Albus, he was still sleeping, and so was Harry—in the same uncomfortable chair she had fallen asleep in earlier. She unconsciously smiled at the sight. They looked so similar when they slept. It was really the first time she'd seen them side-by-side in their slumber. She never had the opportunity to watch Harry fall asleep with Albus in his arms, or observe as they took adorable mid-day naps with their toddler. Her heart yearned for something she never knew she wanted. Pansy thought she had moved past every moment that could have been. The moments of lamenting, wishing Harry was there. He missed out on so much. She pushed him away. Then blamed him for staying away. But he was here. Before her. Ready to be a father, by their boy's side.
For the first time in a long time, she approached him without malice or bitterness. Gently, she ran her hand down his arm to wake him from his slumber
"I'm up! I'm up!" he exclaimed with a jolt.
"Oh my god!" Pansy cackled. "Relax, you spaz. It's just me."
Harry laughed at himself as he straightened his skewed glasses.
She handed him the coffee cup and pastry, and then pulled a seat next to him.
Harry deeply inhaled the scent of his breakfast. "Mmm. This smells so good."
"They say chocolate heals the soul," she remarked, wishing she hadn't drunk her own mocha so quickly on the carriage ride up to the school."
Harry was about to put the cup to his lips when Pansy remembered to cast a quick warming charm.
"Thanks," he said with a smile. Carefully, he sipped the chocolatey coffee. "Mmm. You're right. This is just what I needed."
"Wait until you try the pain au chocolat. I practically inhaled it," Pansy remarked, noticing the friendlier tone in her voice. Perhaps there was something magical about the chocolate.
She looked over to Albus, and his drip was almost ready to be changed. Like clockwork, Madame Nightingale had another mixture of nutrients and potions prepared for him.
"Hello, Ms Parkinson. Mr Potter," she said with a yawn. It was clear that the mediwitch also had a rough night caring for her charge. "Just one more round to help him flush things out, then we'll let him wake up so we can assess his situation. I'm sorry, but can I ask you to move for a moment?"
"Of course," Pansy responded. She and Harry stood to move out of her way.
"Also, I need to check his catheter and his urine," the mediwitch further explained. "After I empty it, I'll be running tests to see how much is left in his system."
"Thank you," said Harry. He escorted Pansy to the bed on the other side of the curtain, where they sat and waited.
"So," Pansy began, "I talked to Hermione and Theo."
"Theo will be here for moral support soon, but I may have him go to my parents later after we know more about what's going on with Al."
"It'll be good to have him around. What about Hermione?" Harry asked.
"Oh, you know, her mind thinking about a million solutions at once," Pansy smiled fondly. "She's going to try to come here, to be here for us, but I imagine she wants to talk to McGonagall about everything—student mental health counseling services, school-life balance, better staffing, and mentoring programs, changing the curriculum, reclassify what is acceptable and age-appropriate, and god knows what else."
"Those are all great ideas," Harry added.
"They are." Pansy nodded in agreement, but also to remind herself they were steps in the right direction. "But I have been thinking about a plan to get us through the end of school."
"And that would be?"
"I have the girls at work pulling some additional information for me before I make any final decision, but I have been thinking about staying here in Hogsmeade until the end of term. And with McGonagall's permission, I'll have Albus stay with me in the evenings." Pansy sighed, overwhelmed by the daunting task ahead of her. "If he's to take his exams and graduate, he has to be here, but there is no way he can wait weeks for treatment."
"No, he can't," Harry added, "but you think it's necessary to stay here in Hogsmeade?"
"Before you say anything about opening up a secure Floo connection between here and home, I thought about that. It would just stir up controversy. We'd be scrutinized for weakening school security, you'd be torn apart for abusing your authority as head of the DMLE, and if anyone sees Albus in London before the end of term, the press will get wind, and blow things out of proportion before he can even start recovering."
"I see your point. Having a seventh-year Hogwarts student in Hogsmeade won't raise too many suspicions. They'll just think he snuck out of the castle or is on an errand for a professor." Harry said. "Have you had a chance to look at any counselors or family counselors nearby?"
Pansy shook her head in response. "I was hoping that Sonia would have some referrals in her research for me. The hard thing would be to find someone willing to come here or a private home."
"I'm sure we could find someone to accommodate us and be discreet about it," Harry said confidently.
Pansy gave him a weak smile, happy they were on the same page. "Thank you. Also, I've been thinking."
"It's probably important that family counseling is part of his treatment." Pansy's voice trembled. In her mind, she knew that she and Harry were Albus's parents. To say they were a family, even in an unconventional way, always tasted bittersweet on her tongue. "I'd like James to be there, too. If he's around."
Harry's face warmed and reached for Pansy's hand. His hand was rough and calloused against her smooth, meticulously manicured one. "I think it's long overdue," he said with a croak in his voice. "You got in touch with James then? Was he even awake?"
She lowered her eyes, not wanting to see his reaction when she revealed yet another secret kept by his sons. "He's distraught and is trying to come home as soon as possible. He...he blames himself for Al. James said he introduced drugs to Al—just herbs. He didn't go into specifics, but I would imagine it may have been liverwort, echinacea, or Jimsonweed—rather innocuous things you could find in the greenhouses and far easier to score at school than marijuana."
"You sound like you're speaking from experience, Parkinson."
Pansy lifted her head to find Harry quirking a brow in her direction. "Did you know James was smoking?"
Harry nodded his head in response. "It just never seemed that bad, you know? Just a teenager doing normal teenage things." He gave a humorless laugh. "I guess I overlooked it because I wanted 'normal' for him. Not being branded as the world's savior or anything."
"So what did you do?" Pansy asked.
"Nothing. Just told him if his grades slip or he gets kicked off the team, we're pulling him out of Hogwarts and he'd be stuck at home with a tutor—"
"—and his mother."
"Yeah," Harry sighed defeatedly. "None of that stuff ever happened. He graduated, got drafted, and went on to being on his own."
"We're sort of fuck-ups as parents," Pansy joked, not realizing she had intertwined her fingers with his. Tears threatened to fall again, the salt stinging her eyes.
"You're not a fuck-up. I'm the only one who deserves that title. You're brilliant and Al's amazing. He just...needs help." He wrapped his arms around her and whispered in her ear, "It's going to be okay."
She was tired of fighting him. All these years of fighting and self-preservation only led to their current situation. His embrace. His comfort. His smell. It was overwhelming. It was a piece of home she hadn't felt in so long.
"I'll take care of our boy. We'll figure this out. We'll go to family counseling. I'll take a hiatus from work if I have to. I promise to be there."
"But you break your promises," she said with the weight of all of her previous disappointment.
"No more." He kissed her temple. "No more letting you, Albus, and James down. I'm done with putting you all to the side."
Today was the day.
They had gotten everything off the list at Diagon over a week ago. Albus had his brand new wand—cherry, phoenix feather, eleven and a quarter inches, slightly yielding. Pansy had the good sense of buying Albus two sets of uniforms and shoes to fit now, and to grow into. She had checked and rechecked the list, ensuring that all the supplies were packed.
Everyone had imparted wisdom to Albus in some form or another. Pansy had remembered being so overwhelmed by the size of the school. She reviewed Hogwarts: A History to show him the layout of the school, and places to make sure he knew how to get to, and places to avoid. Harry and James had also done the same, but with a slightly altered map that Pansy hadn't known about. Hermione and Theo bombarded him with study tips, arguing over methodology and where was the best place in the library to study. Albus's grandfather gave him sound advice on how to navigate school politics and powerful allies, while his grandmother gave him a sack full of pocket money.
All that was left now was to send him off.
A wizarding car service arrived to pick them up. The driver easily accommodated the trunk as the boot had an undetectable extension charm.
Sitting quietly in the back, Pansy tried so desperately to be happy and excited for Albus. Boarding the Hogwarts Express for the first time was such a hugely momentous day in a young wizard's life. She remembered her own first time; timidly boarding the carriage, looking for a place to sit and find people she knew. Terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. Ready to make memories that would last her a lifetime.
This time, she was the parent and not the student. It hurt like hell. She knew neither of them wanted him to go.
Why is this the standard of Wizarding education? Pansy had asked herself on more than one occasion. Separating children from their parents during their formative years. She thanked the heavens she didn't have a daughter, remembering how traumatizing it was getting her first period without her mother to turn to, and having to go to Madame Pomfrey. It was such an awkward, clinical situation, when all she wanted was a hug from her mother. While her son's changes wouldn't be the same as hers, he'd be going through all of it with only other teenage boys to guide him. Internally she groaned recalling the disgusting things she heard in the common room, such as a seventh-year Marcus Flint telling third years how to properly finger a girl.
She tried not to think about losing a good deal of involvement in her child's life during the short drive from their home in Hyde Park Gardens to Kings Cross station.
Albus stared longingly out the window at the passing surroundings.
"I'm going to miss home," he said casually as they passed his favorite Thai restaurant. "What's the food like at Hogwarts?"
"Very, very traditional and very rich," she laughed. "We did have French that one time."
"No pizza? Sushi?"
"Perhaps. The student population has gotten a bit more diverse, and maybe the elves have learned to shake it up a bit." Pansy thought wistfully, "I just remember a lot of roasts, stews, and pies. Delicious, but not the variety you're used to. Honestly, I didn't have the palette you have now until I became an adult, so I didn't really mind."
"Will you send me food?" he asked. "The first spell I'll learn is a warming charm."
She mussed his hair. "I'll see what I can do. I think curry and pizza could travel well. Not sure how well sushi or falafel will, though."
He counted the weeks on his hand until the Christmas holidays. "It will be forever until I'm home."
"I promise you that all of this, and maybe more will be waiting for you when you return," she reassured him. "As long as you write to me, I'll make sure that you'll have something to tide you over."
"I can't believe I can't bring my phone or a tablet or laptop," Albus groaned. "Why does magic have to be so old fashioned?"
"It's so you can truly find out what you're capable of," she answered, despite being torn on the subject herself. "As much as I love instant communication, patience, and longing are important values to learn. The same goes for reading, writing, and learning in a distraction-free environment. Al, I know it sounds primitive compared to the life you live now—but magic. Feeling it flow in and out of you, surrounded by it, radiating off of the people around you, and the old building," she said, beaming, "It's remarkable. That castle, it's special."
"Didn't a bunch of people die in it? Didn't Dad actually die there? And didn't he have to kill people in self-defense? As a kid? Are you sure you're sending me to a safe place?" he questioned his mother.
Pansy's face paled, not sure how to answer his questions. Part of her believed he wasn't genuinely fearful for his life and was trying to worry her to the point that she would keep him home. He was tricky like that. If they had other options, she might just let him stay home. Before she could respond, the grand station came into view, and she could easily change the subject. "Oh look. We're here."
The driver loaded the trunk and his backpack onto the trolley. No owl, toad, or cat. He knew the family owl would be flying back and forth regularly, so no need for a second. He thought toads were foul and had no place anywhere, especially anywhere near him. And cats. Well, he was more of a dog person.
As they made their way through the station, they saw more and more wizarding families filter in. Pansy scoffed at their ridiculous interpretation of Muggle attire. "For Merlin's sake. How do people still not know how to dress in public?" She herself wore slim, black cigarette trousers, crisp white shirt, houndstooth wool capelet, and stilettos. Even her son was dressed stylishly in a pair of black jeans, graphic tee, bomber jacket, and gleaming white trainers. Albus had been slowly gravitating toward streetwear, but Pansy made sure it was always put together—and designer.
"When do I have to change into robes?" He asked, looking even more forlorn at another freedom he would be giving up.
"The prefects will come around and let you know," she said reassuringly. "Don't worry, you can still wear whatever you want around the common room and the weekends."
"Is it like that for all the common rooms?" he asked, "I mean, in case I'm not a Slytherin."
Pansy looked personally affronted. "I'm sorry, my son, but I can't possibly imagine you anywhere else."
"Well, you know, Dad wasn't, and I thought it might be kind of nice to actually live with my brother. You know, in the same house." He shrugged, attempting to not look so affected.
"Oh, darling," she said affectionately. Her heart ached at this little admission. Now she wanted that for him. Someone he knew and loved to watch over him while he was away. But, Albus and James had such different personalities and goals. The Hat sending Albus to Gryffindor seemed like such a long shot, but telling him anything otherwise would be absolutely defeating. Instead, she said, "You know, The Hat is mysterious and does see where you're meant to be. It could be possible."
Albus's smile spread broadly, and he gained a pep in his step as they speedily head toward Platform 9 ¾.
After dropping off his trunk, they set off to find friends, family, and say their goodbyes.
As Pansy looked around at all the students, Albus looked so small beside these young men and women. Was she really this small when she was a first-year? Her chest tightened, wondering if they would be kind to him, bully him, or just ignore him completely.
The Malfoys were the first set of friendly faces. Scorpius and Albus hugged each other and talked excitedly about what sweets they had packed and how much pocket money they had for the trolley. Eager to board, Scorpius got onto the train and promised to save him a seat.
Pansy regretted the awkward encounter she had with Cormac, who was sending his son, Declan, off for his first year as well. The small talk was dry and uncomfortable, and she just wanted it to end. She still can't believe she dated the man for three months. He was a great shag, but a complete neanderthal.
Hermione and Theo stopped by, despite Marina still being a year away from her first year. They knew how much it would mean to Albus to wish him off.
In a completely unexpected turn of events, Pansy's parents even showed.
It was almost time to go, and Pansy saw Albus look around anxiously for James and Harry.
"Where are they?" he muttered nervously.
"They should be here shortly," Pansy tried to reassure her son, when in actuality, she was fuming. This wasn't the day for his excuses and lack of punctuality.
That's when she saw the lanky strawberry-haired teen charge through the gate, his father running behind him, and surprisingly, no Ginny.
Continuing to speed, James deposited his trunk with the others. We waved to his cousins who were already boarding, and hollered, "I'll see you on the train." He made a beeline to Albus and gave him a big bear hug and ruffled his hair. "You ready?"
"Not really," he laughed, squirming out of his brother's embrace. "Got sweets and a couple of Galleons, though."
"Brilliant!" James turned to Pansy and gave her a hug too, then Hermione and Theo, and politely greeted the elder Parkinsons. Whereas Albus could be reserved and cooly observed a situation before engaging with people, James was warm and friendly, an extrovert in every way.
The loud whistle of the steam train alerted bystanders departure was only moments away.
"Come on, Al! It's time to go," James said excitedly.
"Go ahead," Harry said, putting his hand on Albus's shoulder. "I want to talk to your brother real quick."
James gave his father a quick hug and hopped onto the train.
Hermione looked down at her watch. "We're going to go, too."
"But Mum!" Marina pouted. "I want to see the train pull away."
"Sweetheart, we have lunch with Granny and PopPop," Theo reminded. "Let's give Al a hug, and we'll be off."
The Notts each bid Albus farewell in their own way. Hermione gave him a big hug with more words of advice, Theo and Albus did their signature handshake, and Marina punched him in the shoulder and threatened him if he didn't write.
Harry fidgeted waiting for his turn with Albus.
Mr and Mrs Parkinson could see that father and son needed a private moment.
"Pansy, dear," her mother said, "we'll wait for you over there. Maybe we can get a spot of lunch as well."
Mr Parkinson followed his wife but made sure to look back and throw a scowl in Harry's direction.
Pansy stepped to the side while staying within eavesdropping range.
Harry bent down to meet Albus's eyes. "How are you?"
"Scared, I guess," he responded in earnest.
"And that's okay," Harry said comfortingly. "Did you pack the cloak?"
The boy smiled and tapped his backpack. "It's safe."
"Good. I'll let you be the judge of when would be the best time to use it." He gave a wink.
"Dad. You and James are Gryffindor. What if I'm in Slytherin?"
Pansy suddenly understood that there was even more to this. Albus was already so much like her. All he was looking for was to have something to have in common with his father and brother.
"Albus Severus," Harry beamed proudly, at the boy, "You were named for two headmasters of Hogwarts. One of them was a Slytherin and he was probably the bravest man I ever knew."
"But just say—"
"—Then Slytherin House will have gained an excellent student, won't it? It doesn't matter to me, Al. But if it matters to you, you'll be able to choose Gryffindor over Slytherin. The Sorting Hat takes your choice into account."
"It did for me," said Harry. "And besides, your mum was a Slytherin, and she's one of the most resourceful, brilliant, bold, and driven people I know. She embraces the best of what Slytherin has to offer."
Pansy blushed, not having expected a compliment or having her House praised in that way.
The whistle sounded one last time. Scorpius banged on the window waving Albus onto the train and opened the window.
"Come on, Al!" the fair-haired boy hollered.
Albus only had a chance for a quick group hug sandwiched between his parents.
Pansy squeezed in a few parting words. "Shower daily, brush your teeth twice a day, floss nightly, and do not wear dirty uniforms or underwear."
"Gross, mum," he replied. "Who do you think I am?"
"A boy," Harry chuckled. "Listen to your mother, or I'll have the elves spy on you and make sure you're actually washing up."
"Get on the train, boy!" the conductor called.
He quickly clamored onto the train and found the cabin Scorpius saved for them. Albus hung out of the window and waved goodbye to his loved ones on the platform. He yelled as loudly as he could over the rumble of the steam engine. "I'll write to you. I promise."
"Oh, my beautiful boy," Pansy began to sob as the train pulled out of the station. It was real and even harder than she imagined. She was sending her little boy off to raise himself, with only her letters to guide him.
Harry draped his arm around her shoulders. "He's going to be okay."
She shrugged him off, clearly still upset with Harry's tardiness in spite of his sweet words. "You almost missed this."
"Better late than never," Harry attempted to joke.
Pansy gave him a scowl, unimpressed.
Trying to diffuse the tension, he said, "Pans, come on. I made it. You know I wouldn't miss this. We even had a good talk."
"Yes, and the train almost left him." She pointed in the direction of where the steamer was just moments ago. "I told you to get here earlier."
"James and I ran into problems at home and—"
"Save it." She closed her eyes, calming herself, not wanting to cause a scene. "One day Albus is going to realize your excuses are just bullshit and he deserves better. When that happens, he won't forgive you." She stormed away towards her parents, not bothering to look back.
You were right. I got sorted into Slytherin with Scorpius. (This is where I would spam you with snake emojis if I was allowed my phone.) James seemed sad at first but joined me for breakfast, so looks like I'll still get to hang out with him.
Dinner was pretty good. Especially the sticky toffee pudding.
You'll never believe this. There's a Muggle-born girl in Slytherin in my year. There are like only 3 in the whole house. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's actually pretty cool.
I hate the common room. It's dark and smells like mildew. I miss my sunny room and the view of the park.
Writing with quills sucks. Can you send me felt tip pens? I will write you longer letters if you do. (Insert kissing emojis).
Miss you already.
Pansy put down the letter and cackled to herself. She had truly pampered her son. Day one, and he was already moaning.
Since Albus received his letter, she had become nostalgic, and countless memories flooded in. She remembered her first night in the dungeons, and didn't care for it much either; homesickness taking hold. Her poor parents. They must have had letters just like this, full of whinging and the odd observations of a spoiled child.
She reached into her desk and pulled out a parchment and quill, and began to pen her response.
My Darling Albus,
Welcome to the long legacy of Parkinson Slytherins. I am so proud of you and am confident you are in the right place. The friends you make there will only push you to become your best. I'll let you in on a little secret. I also hated the dungeons at first. I missed my house in the country. I missed the grassy hills and the sea and the little farmhouses. I missed my mum and dad and our elves. But little by little, Slytherin became my home. The sloshing of the lake across the windows lulled me to sleep. My housemates became like family. Sometimes I miss that musty smell. Just give it time.
A Muggle-born in Slytherin, you say, and three of them? Well, times are changing. Looks like someone has talked some sense into that hat. With as many difficulties that await muggle-borns in the wizarding world, I would imagine that a fair share of them have the ambition and resourcefulness to succeed in Slytherin.
Enjoy your time, darling. Study hard and enjoy the process of learning. And if anyone gives you shit, remember who you are and where you came from. No matter what people say, you are the best of us.
I love you, my beautiful boy. I look forward to your next letter. Don't forget to send letters to everyone else.
I'm so proud of you.
P.S. No, I will not send you pens. You will learn the art of letter writing and work on your penmanship and calligraphy.
I'm glad you got the letter and aren't disappointed. I had my first Herbology and Potions classes today. I really liked them. It was weird seeing Neville as a teacher. I just know him as your friend. He was really nice to all the kids and made us feel really welcome. He also talks to us like kids, but not babies. It's really annoying when grownups don't know how to talk to kids.
James wants me to join him for dinner at the Gryffindor table, but I'm kind of scared to. I'm not like him. He can just plop down next to me at the Slytherin table and not care what people think. I guess that kind of courage is why I didn't end up in Gryffindor. Also, his cousins are pretty mean to me, but he promised we would sit with his friends. I don't know why a bunch of fourth years would want to hang out with a little kid like me. I guess it's pretty cool.
I know you must have some super important case to work on. I'll write to you again soon. Stay safe!
Harry drummed his fingers on his desk, reading his son's letter for the third time. It just hit him how lonely he was with both of his boys away at school. He had so little time with them as it was, and now they were both in Scotland, so very far away. What was worse is that he had the chance to be there for them.
Next to the letters from Albus and James was a letter from McGonagall he received a few months prior.
Professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts.
The woman he respected the most in this world, who had taught and guided him, wanted him to teach and mentor the next generation. It would have been perfect. He'd take a job that was less dangerous and would allow him to see both of his boys every day. It was just too good to be true.
He told Ginny he wanted to take it. It was a sign—an opportunity—and he had to take it.
Her response: And what about me?
Harry attempted to explain that he'd make it work. That there was enough money in savings, and their investments would cover everything. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. Once he looked at the salary, his current holdings and the less than fruitful dividends the past few quarters, the trusts he set up for the kids, and cost of Ginny's ongoing care, he couldn't make it work financially. Not on a professor's salary.
Declining McGonagall's offer was one of the hardest things he ever had to do. She was one person he still couldn't stand disappointing. Minerva was the closest thing he had to a mother, especially with his relationship with Molly permanently fractured.
Why he had kept the letter all these months, he wasn't sure. Now looking at it beside his children's letters, it was another painful reminder of how his wife continuously stood in the way of his happiness.
Harry swiped open his phone and looked at the photos he took from the Platform. He had been so secretive. There was Al, waving from the carriage, Hermione hugging him, and of course, Her. Aging gracefully was an understatement. Her elegance and confidence only adding to her beauty; never wavering in her convictions or how the world perceived her. But he knew her. The vulnerable side of her that only the most trusted knew. The Pansy Parkinson that laughed at corny jokes and cried when she was sentimental. The Pansy Parkinson who loved fiercely and protected what was hers. And he'd taken it for granted.
"I'll never stop paying for my mistake, will I?" he said to photo Pansy. "I could have had it all."
He balled up McGonagall's letter and threw it in the fire, burning way the reminder of what could have been. He knew his and Pansy's time had long since passed, but being a real father to his boys was so close, yet so far away. Seeing their faces every day, watching them learn and grow, making friends, and maybe even fall in love. He would have just loved to see them figure out who they were and their abilities. As he lamented on an alternate reality, he carefully tucked away the letters in the top drawer.
At least they had each other. Despite all his failings, their relationship was the one thing that gave him solace.
"Albus," James whispered, "You here?" He crept behind the greenhouses with his wand dimly lit.
"Over here," a disembodied voice called from a few feet away.
"Not fair," James laughed as he watched his little brother pull off the invisibility cloak.
"You've got the map and know disillusionment charms. I'm just a wee baby fourth year who knows nothing." Albus jutted out his bottom lip mocking a pouty toddler. "I stopped by the kitchens and got bacon butties and pumpkin juice."
"Brilliant," James said as he pulled a blanket out of his rucksack. "I brought mead and liverwort."
"What in the bloody hell are we going to do with liverwort?" He questioned, "Brew a tonic for your dicky tummy?"
Albus's ears perked up at that. He'd only ever used the moss as a potions ingredient and picked it on scavenging trips for Herbology.
Sensing his brother's confusion, James said, "It's calming, and it also makes you feel fun."
"'Makes you feel fun'? James, you need to read a book or something. Your vocabulary is abysmal."
"Shush you posh wanker," he chided, "now sit your arse down, and let's enjoy my next to last night at Hogwarts."
Albus sat down cross-legged and said, "Thank you so much for fitting me into your busy schedule, Mr Potter. I'm sorry I don't compete with wild Gryffindor House parties."
"Oh, shut up. Tomorrow is obligatory." He poured the mead into two glasses. "Tonight is about family. Cheers."
"Cheers." Albus clinked his glass against James's. The mead was sweeter than he had expected. He had snuck a taste of his grandfather's Ogden's at Christmas, but he didn't see what the big deal was. This stuff, on the other hand, was great.
"Like it?" James asked.
"Yeah." Albus loved this spot. The greenhouses were on a bluff overlooking the lake. Everything smelled so fresh and crisp; the multitude of exotic plants, the surrounding forest, and the breeze coming off the lake. His mother was right. He would eventually find his place at Hogwarts, and it would become more special and magical than he could have ever imagined.
"I'm gonna miss it," James said sadly. "You know, we moan about classes and homework, but this school, it shapes you."
Albus laughed, "Yeah, I was just thinking the same thing. You ready for graduation?"
"Trunk is pretty much packed, N.E.W.T.s are over, and I head to training the moment I arrive in London. Like, I literally get off the Hogwarts Express and apparate to Falmouth. Dad already had all my things sent to my new place. Gran's pretty pissed that I'm not having a graduation party. I really don't fucking want one." He took another sip of mead. "Every gathering is the same. My family tries to be normal even though my parents obviously fucking hate each other."
James reached into his pocket and pulled out a pre-rolled joint containing the herb Albus had only known as a moss to treat inflammation and digestive problems. He watched his brother light it with the tip of his wand, take a few short puffs, drawing out the smoke. Coughing, he smiled, letting the effects hit him immediately. "Here, take a few hits."
Albus took it between his fingers and examined it. It smelled fine. What was the harm in trying something that came from the greenhouses? He mimicked the same actions his brother took, rather unsuccessfully. He gagged and coughed so much, he swore it was going trigger his gag reflex and would end up throwing up everywhere. "Oh, god. I'm going to spew."
Laughing hysterically, James just said, "No, you're not. Just calm down and sip your drink."
He did what his older brother instructed. Breathing deeply through his nose, he focused on relaxing. The mead had started to tingle and warm his insides. That feeling he knew. But the liverwort, he wasn't quite sure how that was supposed to feel. "I don't know if I smoked enough."
James took a few more puffs of his own before passing it back to Albus. This time he would be more cautious—drawing in the smoke, tasting the burning herbs, filling his lungs. He focused on the exhale, pushing it out slowly. Suddenly, he felt it hit. The slowness. The heaviness. He wasn't sure he liked it. He started to panic.
"Al. Al!" His brother snapped to get his attention. "Are you okay?"
"I feel like mud. This does not feel like fun," he said worriedly.
"No, no. That's good," James tried to reassure him. "Lay down. Look at the stars. Everything will make sense when things go slowly."
Albus leaned back on the blanket and looked up to the night sky. There were so many twinkling lights. He loved that about Hogwarts. There was far too much light pollution in London to see anything other than the passing airplanes and helicopters. Staring at the celestial bodies, he began to understand the slowness. His body sank into the earth, and all the worries and everyday details disappeared. "James?"
"Yeah. You think Professor Nebula is hot?"
James cracked up at how quickly Albus went from panicking to mumbling about fancying his teacher. "She's pretty fit for a professor."
"I think I'm rubbish in her class because I stare at her tits and arse the whole time. My mum would hate to hear this, you know with her raising a feminist and all. Whoo-hoo gender equality. But it's like, I know Professor Nebula is saying words, but I don't care. My stupid boy brain sees boobs, and it just wants to sexually objectify her. I mean, I just finished my fourth year of that bloody class, and I think I know like two constellations." Albus pointed to the sky. "That's Scorpio, and that's Orion."
"Actually," James corrected, grabbing his brother's hand and pointing toward the correct direction. "That's Scorpio, and that's Orion. See the three stars of his belt? And that is Sirius."
"Oh, fuck. I suck at that class. At least I only have one year left. Then I can stop creepily lusting over my teacher," Albus admitted.
"Hey, admission that you're a creep is the first step to recovery. You feeling better?" James asked, puffing on the last of the joint.
"Yeah," he said with a laugh. "It feels fun."
Suddenly the boys went into hysterics unable to control their laughter.
James fought through his bout of giggles, "I'm going to miss you, Al."
"You're just graduating, James. Not like you're terminally ill or anything," Albus said as he reached for his rucksack. "Where are those butties?"
"Munchies," James pointed out. "Hand me one."
Albus took a bite. "Mmm...Ohmyfuckingod this is like the best sandwich I've ever had." He then took another enthusiastic bite.
"Merlin, this is fucking good," James added. "I hope I can afford an elf on a player's salary."
"If you ask my mum, I'm sure she'd get you one for a graduation gift," Albus said nonchalantly.
James just shook his head. "You seriously have no concept of money, do you? How much is that hoodie?"
"Um, we had to buy it in pounds, so I'm not sure what that is in galleons. About a thousand pounds. Is that a lot?" he asked.
"You're joking? For a red hoodie that says, 'Supreme' and has little Ls and Vs on it?" James questioned, astounded.
"Actually, it was a steal. See, it was a limited edition, and it's a couple of years old. Saw it going for over three grand. Got this from a stylist, Muggle-born, that works with the new men's magazine. Said it was so small and didn't know anyone who could fit it." Albus said, proud of himself.
"Al, your hoodie could pay for a caregiver for my mum for over a month," James exasperated, then took another sip of his mead. "Do you ever run out of money?"
"Not to my knowledge," Albus shrugged. "Grandpapa explained we have investments that just sit and make us money. Mum's just keeps growing the media company. She's got her eye on a few smaller magazines in Singapore, Japan, Albania, and I forget where else."
"Out of the two of us, you definitely got the better deal," James groaned.
Albus remained quiet. He'd never thought of it that way. "But your family are the 'good guys.' War heroes and the lot. And there are so many Weasleys. I thought it would be fun all the time, and you always have someone at your back."
James laughed humorlessly, "Yeah, there's all that, but it means shite if your dad doesn't love your mum and is just there for you and to pay for her care."
Not knowing how to respond, Albus sat and listened.
"You know, Aunt Hermione told me that before you were born, Dad and Pansy were happy. Really happy," James smiled, "I sort of remember it. I was confused at first, but I must have really liked your mum to not care that Dad moved out. You know they wanted to get married?"
"No," Albus answered in earnest. This fact sobered him slightly.
"Yeah, Dad filed divorce papers and everything. Then Mum had her accident," James grew quiet. "Dad had the choice of staying with my Mum to take care of her, or sending her to my grandparents, and taking me to be with you and Pansy. Can you imagine that, Al? We could have grown up in the same house. Dad and Pansy could have been happy. Hell, I could have been wearing overpriced hoodies, just like you."
"Really? Hermione told you that?"
"Unbelievable, yeah? Sometimes I hate my parents. I really fucking hate them. My mum for being a bitch and taking her disability out on everyone. You ever read stories about people with prosthetics or learning disabilities, and they go onto amazing things?" James questioned.
"Yeah. Shit's inspiring. Makes me feel spoilt and lazy," Albus said, "which I am."
James pushed him teasingly, "Yeah, you are, you prat. But mum. She's just bitter and has never been able to move past her accident. It's like I don't even have a mum. I have Dad, but...I don't fucking know. He's never really around. Says it's his job and his responsibilities, but I really think he just works to escape how unhappy he is."
"Possibly." Albus sat up and started picking at the grass. "Have you heard from him lately?"
James shook his head. "Maybe about a month ago."
"I got a package a few days after my birthday," Albus mentioned, "but nothing since."
"Me neither. He said something in a sort of cryptic note about going out for pasta. I think he might be on a case in Italy." James shrugged. "I'm not even sure that he'll be at the graduation."
"He'll be there," Albus said assertively. "He'll be late, though."
They both laughed, recalling their father's perpetual tardiness.
"Don't lose that, Al," James told his brother.
"Optimism in people. Also, the sooner you realize our parents are people and not gods, the more you'll come to terms with their flaws. Even Dad."
"Does this herb make you smarter? Because that is some of the most reverent shit I've ever heard you say. Usually, it's just dick jokes and wondering when we're going to eat."
"Oh shove off, smart arse," James laughed. "Here, have another smoke."
Albus smiled and took the joint from his brother. "So, what else is hiding in the greenhouses that I don't know about?"
She looked up between swollen lids to find an exhausted and still worried Eva, clutching books while carrying a heavy rucksack on her shoulder.
Pansy looked down at her watch to see that it was nearly lunchtime. In her emotional state, she hadn't realized how much time had passed, or how long she had been crying in Harry's arms, all she knew was her eyes hurt like hell, and his scent surrounded her, even as she pulled away.
"Eva. Sit," Harry invited.
He and Pansy scooted down to make room on the bed.
"How is he?" she asked, hopefully, setting down her belongings.
Pansy sighed, "Still sedated. Nightingale has some tests. She wants to try and run some other examinations while he's awake, but that's all we really know."
"Oh," the girl said as the anxiety edged into her voice. "He didn't miss any class, by the way. It's his free period. Al sometimes assists for Professor Apostol when he isn't studying."
"Does he know?" Harry asked.
"I don't know," she responded, "I'm sure McGonagall told him. He's his favorite student."
"I'm going to want to talk to him some time by the end of the day," Pansy stated, sounding perturbed. The Potions Master must have known something. He must have had a clue that his star pupil had put his gifts to other use.
"Can I see him?" Eva tried to peek around the curtains. She could hear Nightingale muttering spells and clanking around metal and glass.
"Miss Teller," the mediwitch called from behind the curtain, "Mister Potter is resting, and you need to be off to lunch soon."
Eva protested, "But—"
Emerging from behind the fabric barrier, the mediwitch sternly said, "Go to lunch. When you get back, I will be ready to wake him."
Harry and Pansy looked at the woman with interest.
She continued, "I must warn you. He may not be in the best mood or want to see anyone. Everyone coming down from substance use reacts differently."
"Oh. Okay," the girl replied, looking like someone had given her a sack of Bertie Bott's but they were all earwax flavored. The peaks and valleys of hope.
"Go now," Madame Nightingale said with a softer, more encouraging voice. "We'll see you soon enough."
The girl nodded in understanding before turning to Albus's parents. "Would you like to come to lunch with me? I—I haven't had the heart to tell Scorp and Marina the full story. I snuck in and out of the dorms last night, and have been avoiding them all day."
"I think a hot meal would do us good," Harry said, "what do you think, Pans?"
"Yeah." She turned her head in Albus's direction quickly, and then back to Eva. "That sounds lovely. Marina's father will be here soon, as well. Maybe you two can go ahead, and I'll wait for Theo."
"Are you sure?" Harry placed a hand on her shoulder.
She placed a hand on top of his, acknowledging the gesture. "Yes, I told him I would be here. Just save me a seat."
Just then, a set of hurried steps clacked toward their direction. Theo was dressed in a sharp gray suit with lavender accents, all which to compliment the plum Wizengamot robes. He was out of breath and pulled a paisley silk handkerchief from his pocket to dab the sweat off his brow. "Oh, good. I caught you."
Pansy gave him a bewildered look. "What are you on about?"
"As I walked into the castle, two owls dropped dossiers into my hands." He held them out for display. "One was addressed to you, and the other is for Nightingale. I'm assuming they are both about Al. You know I love my mobile, but those clever birds. Can't put anything past them."
Excitedly, she grabbed both envelopes and ran into the mediwitch's office, hoping to the information contained in those documents would have some answers on how to proceed.
"Do you happen to know if there will be sticky toffee pudding, would you?" Theo asked Eva.
She shook her head, "Sorry, Mister Nott. Lunches have gotten quite healthy. There were some complaints that the students weren't getting enough fruit and veg, and too many sweets."
"Hermione," he grumbled his wife's name. "She reads one Muggle article about fat muggle teens, and she thinks all teens need to be on a diet and growing their own food."
Harry snorted, "Are you complaining about the Minister's policies, Chief Warlock? Are we starting a policy row?"
"No, I'm complaining about my wife and not having any carbs for weeks!" He huffed. "Beauregard!"
An ancient elf appeared before them. Liver spots dotted his wrinkled skin from his droopy ears to cracked toenails. His eyes hazy with glaucoma desperately tried to focus. Harry imagined that this elf must have been here since his parents were school children.
"Mister Nott!" The elf chirped cheerfully, realizing who had summoned him. "I hasn't seen you since you was a lad. How may I be of service?"
"It's good to see you, too." Theo smiled. "I'd like for you to prepare lunch for six of us in the governor's boardroom. Warm, comforting dishes. Stew, pies, maybe a bit of bubble and squeak, and an absolute must, pudding."
"Banoffee pie," Harry added.
"Yes, sirs," the elf bowed. "Anything for you miss?"
"Well, I'd love a Coke, but I don't know if an elf could just pop 'round a Tesco and pick up a two-litre," Eva smirked.
"Beauregard could try. What is Tesco?" the elf asked sincerely.
"Don't worry about it," Harry snickered. "She's having a laugh."
"Very cheeky, Miss," the elf scolded in a sweet, grandfatherly way. "Anything else Beauregard can arrange?"
Theo added, "Please find my daughter and Mister Malfoy, and tell them to meet us in the boardroom."
"Very well, sir." With a loud pop, the elf was gone.
Pansy and Nightingale walked out, looking hopeful and determined.
"Good news?" Harry inquired.
"I don't know if it's good," Pansy started, "but we know more of what to expect and what our next steps should be. Let's grab lunch and I'll tell you more about it."
The warm meal was exactly what they needed. Every nostalgic bite brought a smile to the faces of the alumni. The adults had to admit neither of them had eaten this rich or decadent since hitting their forties. Indulging in copious amounts of potatoes, cheese, and roast meats was by far an exercise in eating their feelings.
They weren't the only ones enjoying the comfort classics. Eva, Scorpius, and Marina looked like they hadn't eaten in ages.
"We've eaten nothing but fucking cauliflower and grain bowls," Scorpius muttered between bites, feeling the adults' eyes on him. "I understand the Minister's stance, but for crying out loud, did she forget how big this school is and how quickly we burn it off."
"Speak for yourself," Marina pouted. "Boys have the most absurd metabolisms."
"Especially Albus. I swear, he could eat an entire cow," Eva added.
Pansy's fork clattered onto her plate, silencing the room. She clenched her hand around her napkin, reminded that this jovial luncheon had a purpose. A purpose they hadn't yet discussed. Her eyes darted around the room, noticing the concerned stares. She couldn't believe that an off-handed comment about her son was enough to set her spiraling. There was no more putting it off.
"You kids know we're here about Albus," she began. "He overdosed last night, and Eva had to use a Muggle technique to keep his heart beating."
"CPR," Eva explained, "a series of chest compressions to keep his heart pumping. I was so panicked, and we had only touched on first aid spells briefly. I—I couldn't remember any."
Marina put her hand reassuringly on her friend's shoulder. "You saved him. It doesn't matter how. Using Muggle techniques doesn't make it any less heroic."
"Thanks," Eva responded.
Because of the year age gap, the girls hadn't become close until Marina's fifth year, when she had become a prefect and trained under Eva. Coincidentally, it was also the year Albus and Eva became a couple.
"Absolutely," Pansy said warmly. "But there is still a lot we don't know. Madame Nightingale has him sedated so he can rest and flush the potion out of his system. She ran some tests and wants to run a few more after he wakes."
"Can we see him then?" Eva asked eagerly.
Harry shook his head sadly, "It's too dangerous."
The teens looked at him, confused.
Pansy placed documents in the center of the table and said, "Research says detoxification could take up to 72 hours. Since we don't know how long he's been taking the drug, his dependency may affect the control of his magic."
"So, it's best we know what we're dealing with before he receives any visitors," Harry said with an authoritative presence that clearly came from his years in law enforcement. "I don't want to get any of you into trouble, but do you know how long he's been doing this, and have you done any of it with him."
They all grew quiet and uncomfortable with the question and simultaneously hung their heads. Marina was the first to speak.
"I smoked a few times at parties, but that's about it."
"Is that all?" Theo asked with concern, urging his daughter to be forthcoming.
"Yeah, Dad," she responded. "I don't really like that out-of-control feeling. It's not for me."
He exhaled deeply, relieved, thankful his daughter was as much of a control freak as her mother. Hermione also never enjoyed anything more than a few glasses of wine.
"I also just smoked a few times, and the one time last night," Eva replied. She attempted to be factual and direct with the adults, but no matter how tightly she clenched her jaw, her true emotions shone through as droplets trailed down her face. Her voice quavered as she burst out, "I can't believe he hid it from me. I thought I knew him, and thought he would have told me how bad it was or that he was on this sooner. He didn't need to go through any of this alone."
"But what would you have done with this information? Would you have brought him to therapy, or gotten him to quit, or do you think you would have followed him down this path? You tried it last night. What if you liked it? What if you loved it? Would we have another brilliant student addicted to Euphorus? Another overdose? Possibly dead? Tell me, Eva, what do you think you would have done? Because I can tell you, love makes you blind and do stupid things." Pansy's rapid-fire interrogation of the girl came as a shock to the students, but not to Theo or Harry. She knew how to ask all the hard questions that no one was ready to answer and point out the obvious even if it stung like daggers.
"I—I only tried it last night because he wanted me to," she said sadly, and truthfully. "Drugs just aren't something I've looked to try. But he was reaching out to me and—"
"There you go," Pansy affirmed, "he didn't tell you before because he wasn't ready. But he was last night, and you wanted to make him happy."
"Pansy…" Harry interrupted her, sensing she could be redirecting her frustrations at the wrong person.
She took a breath to calm herself. "Eva, I'm sorry, but you can't blame yourself for not noticing, and don't think he didn't love you enough to tell you. We are his parents, and he didn't come to us, either."
"Sometimes, secrets exist to protect those we love. Other times, secrets exist because of shame." Harry spoke from experience. "We hide these things that make us feel...wonderful, maybe even complete, because deep in our hearts, we know we shouldn't be doing it."
Pansy felt Harry's hand reach for hers under the table; seeking an apology for his truthful words. Her hand stilled, not wanting to return his affections, but not wanting to pull away either.
Between stifled sobs, Eva gave a heartfelt confession that resonated with everyone in the room. "I love him, and I feel like I failed him somehow. That I'm not enough."
"We all feel like that. His parents, most of all," Harry said somberly, watching a choked-up Pansy struggle for control. His attention turned toward the young man that had looked so much like Harry's childhood nemesis, only with warm brown eyes and a softer jawline. A much younger Harry would have been oblivious to body language and vocal inflections. This was not the bumbling Harry Potter of his youth. He had honed keen senses of observation, noticing how Scorpius bounced his leg on the ball of his foot nervously and refused to meet anyone's eyes. "Scorpius, you've been quiet. Is there something you want to tell us? Anything that could help us develop a plan for Al?"
The lanky boy with pale hair shrugged his shoulders and clenched his jaw.
"Scorp," Pansy pushed, "You two have been best friends since birth. You must know something. How bad is this?"
He raised his head to meet their eyes. Immediately, they noticed he wore the same dark circles under his eyes that Albus did. Feeling trapped, Scorpius reached inside his robes and removed a glass vial tied to a leather cord, and placed it on the table. "Here. An achievement in potioneering combined with Muggle chemistry. Two years in the making; Euphorus in powder form."
Harry summoned the glass vial and inspected it curiously. He tapped a little on the table to get a better look. The powder was as fine as cornstarch with an opalescent sheen. "Scorpius, what would that amount do to you?"
"If you're just starting out," he answered, thoughtfully, "maybe keep you blissed for maybe twelve hours. For a while, it's more like six, but I am back up to around ten. I quit for a while until I found out Mum's illness came back, and just the stress of school got so bad."
Pansy asked, "What about Albus? Did he ever quit and start back up? What is his tolerance like?"
Scorpius looked away, feeling like this was a betrayal of their friendship.
Sensing this, Pansy said, "The more we know, the better we can help him, and you if you need it."
He shook his head, agreeing to comply. "Al's tolerance is about three or four hours. Ever since he figured out the formula, he hasn't really slowed down."
"And how long ago did he perfect this technique?" Theo asked, mentally tracking the timeline. "Potions are a tricky thing. You said that it took two years to develop this. So you're saying that you were experimenting with Euphorus for even longer?"
Before Scorpius could answer, a little elf wearing white healer robes appeared in the board room.
"Sorry to interrupt," the elf said politely. "Prozie is here from St. Mungo's to help Madame Nightingale. She has asked for Ms Parkinson and Mister Potter. Albus Potter is waking."
Without haste, they stood up and walked toward the elf.
"I'll continue speaking to the kids," Theo said, with an almost judicial tone in his voice.
"You going to write me a brief too, Nott?" Harry joked.
"What's the point? The D.M.L.E. is notorious for losing evidence." Theo gave him a wink. Leave it to the Wizengamot and Department of Magical Law Enforcement heads to keep up their friendly rivalry, even when out of the court system.
Pansy and Harry took the elf's hands, quickly disappearing from the board room and reappearing in the hospital wing. Both parents tread the waters carefully, torn between wanting to be by their son's side and staying cautious. Harry was the first to draw out his wand.
"Do you think that is necessary?" Pansy huffed, "he's weak and not fully awake."
"Or he's a ticking time bomb," Harry responded.
She rolled her eyes and left the auror's side to see her son. He was surrounded by Madame Nightingale and two other healers.
"Ms Parkinson, Mr Potter, this is Healer Alder and Healer Valiant from St. Mungo's, and you've met Prozie." Nightingale kept her niceties to a minimum. "They have more experience with substance abuse and its long term effects on wizards."
Adler was a woman only a few years older than Pansy and even shorter in stature than she was. She had a warm face and was pretty in a natural, unfussed way. Her makeup was minimal and made no attempt to hide the bags under her eyes or her graying hair. "We administered a potion that should wake him momentarily. Hopefully, if he is calm, we can quickly run a battery of tests and help the lot of you plan the next steps."
"Oh, thank goodness," Pansy put her hand on her chest, thankful for that small bit of good news. She looked down to see her son's lashes fluttering, eyes struggling to open. His jaw was tight, and the look of anguish from hours before had returned. Without any regard to the warnings she was given about his instability, she took the seat next to him and gripped his hand. "Albus, darling. Mummy's here. You can wake up now. We're here to help you."
His voice was hoarse and dry, and his breath smelled of death. Pansy didn't mind, Albus was returning to the land of the living.
"Mum…" He croaked again as his eyes opened to tiny slits, letting his mother come into focus. "What...what are you doing here? Where am I?"
"Al, don't you remember?" She asked hesitantly, "You—"
"Allow me," the tall, stern-looking wizard interrupted. "Mr Potter, Hello. I'm Healer Valiant. What is the last thing you remember?"
"Who the hell are you? Where am I?" Albus was coming to much more quickly than expected. He looked around frantically and could sense the tubes connected to his arm and out of his penis.
"Albus, look at me," his mother insisted. "You're in the school hospital. These healers are specialists."
"Specialists, why the fuck do I need a specialist? I'm fine. Just needed to sleep it off." He shook his mother's grasp from his hand.
"You had an overdose," Adler said in calm, soothing tones. "Do you remember that? Do you remember blacking out and your girlfriend saving you?"
"She what? Where is she?" He became angry and frantic, like a caged animal. "What time is it? Where's my wand? Where's Eva?"
Pansy urged, "Allie, please settle down. She's not allowed to see you unless we know you can stay calm."
"Don't call me that. I'm not a toddler," he spat. "I'm fine. Just let me go and get to class. I'll see you in a few weeks when term is over."
Angrily he attempted to yank out the IV from his arm. The healers jumped into action and pinned his arms to his sides, pushing Pansy out of the way. She stumbled to the foot of the bed as the three healers wrestled the teen with his superhuman strength. Even after reading about it, she didn't think it was true. How could one person, so completely depleted of muscle mass still have so much strength? Neither of the three healers could cast a single spell.
"LET ME GO!" Albus hollered at the top of his lungs.
Pansy began to walk backward. She was terrified. The first time she was ever scared of her son. She could feel the rage and magic radiating off of him. The one thing that was stronger than her fear was her love of him. "Albus, please. You have to listen. You have to relax."
"MUM!" he cried out with tears streaming down his face as he continued to fight the three adults; his rage manifesting a myriad of motions. "Make them stop. Please."
"They'll stop when you stop struggling, son." Harry stepped beside Pansy.
"What are YOU doing here?" Albus grew more enraged to see his father.
The little elf held out his hand ready to intervene, but Harry motioned for the elf to give him a moment.
Harry pleaded over his son's screams and wails. "Albus, we both love you very much, and we want to help. We all want to help. Theo is here too. He's with Eva, Scorpius, and Marina. Please, just listen—"
The sound that emanated from Albus came deep from his magical core. The scream was powerful. Deafening. It shook the walls and the ground beneath their feet. His magic was out of control. His body levitated out of the grasp of the healers as winds swirled around them. Plastic tubing that had been attached to his body vanished.
Harry was reminded of the times when he was younger, and rage-fueled his accidental magic, but this. This was far more intense than anything he had subconsciously conjured.
Albus was nearly four feet over the bed, sobbing and erratic. Then it happened. A shock of blinding light projected from his aura, and with it, a release of the pent up magic they had all feared.
The healers were thrown into different directions. Harry was lucky enough to have fallen onto an empty bed. But where was Pansy? He frantically stood up, his ears ringing and eyes struggling to focus. Harry found her on the ground, blood trickling down her forehead. Harry turned to see his son shocked and frightened, but still out of control of his magic. He knew Pansy wouldn't forgive him for this, but he had no choice. "I'm sorry, Al. Stupefy."
His son fell like a ragdoll onto the mattress. Adler was the first healer up and immediately began attending to Albus. She looked up for a split second and said, "Thank you, Mr Potter," and went back to her patient.
He scooped Pansy off the ground, and she woke in his arms, "What—"
"Albus sort of blew up," he tried to explain, "lost control. How's your head?"
"Hurts like hell," she replied, "you can put me down now."
Gently, Harry laid her down on the bed opposite of their son's. "Don't kill me, but I had to Stupefy him."
Instead of hitting him or screaming or even turning the same curse back on him, Pansy covered her face and tried not to cry. "We're nowhere close to figuring this out, are we?"
Harry, took her hand and kissed it tenderly. "We will."