Albus’ heartbeat. He was pretty sure that was the only thing keeping him going. He thumbed the gemstone around his neck, closing his eyes against the darkness and letting it fill him up. There was a door, but it was locked, and Scorpius didn’t have his wand and for some reason he couldn’t unlock it wandlessly. He’d admitted defeat Merlin knows how long ago.
Time didn’t feel real here. Wherever here was. It’d been merely hours since he’d woken, but it felt like days. On the bright side – because there always had to be a bright side – his head had stopped bleeding. He tried not to let his anxiety run too wild, but it was difficult when he was all alone in the dark. He’d had a panic attack earlier when he started to feel a little claustrophobic combined with the crushing weight of what the fuck was going on?
Albus’ heartbeat, however, was rather elevated. It had started to calm, only within the last few hours which meant he was probably asleep, but knowing he was safe was enough. He would have gotten his letter by now. He would know Scorpius wouldn’t be returning to school and would probably be in the Slytherin dorm. Without him. Scorpius wondered how he was feeling. He wondered what he was thinking after Scorpius’ impromptu love confession. Whether he still wanted to be his friend. Whether he was worried.
Scorpius stood, fed up of sitting around, and blindly walked in the general direction of where he found the door. He went a little dizzy, probably from his head injury, but quickly recovered from his vertigo. Upon finding the door, he pounded on it loudly.
“HELLO?” He called, hoping there was someone around who could… well, he didn’t know what. Help him? Or at least explain what’s going on. “ANYONE?” He pounded on the door again. There was nothing from the other side. Scorpius pounded a few more times, but when there was footsteps the other side of the door followed by the sound of a key in a lock, Scorpius scurried backwards.
The room was emblazoned in a bright light from the corridor which caused Scorpius to cover his eyes, aggravating his already pounding head.
“You’re awake, then?” A voice drawled, a voice Scorpius recognised all too well.
He lowered his arm to look at the person standing in the door way. There, standing in all his glory, cloaked in a tight-fitted black robe was his – “grandfather?”
The next morning found Albus, James and Lily in a wizarding café for breakfast after Teddy showed them a nice place on his way to work. James was funding most of their trip with his wages from being an Auror, but Albus was trying to help with his savings. He’d been allowed access to his own vault once he turned of age which held some money that his parents had been saving for him whilst he grew up.
“You’re going to get fired, you know,” Albus said as he picked up his coffee. He needed it desperately after his less-than ideal amount of sleep last night. He might even need more than one. One for the road maybe.
“Not important,” James said, leaning forward. “What’s important is what we’re going to do next.”
“What are we going to do next?” Lily asked as she slurped her iced frappe.
“You both should go home,” Albus said, ripping the crust off his toast before eating it. “You heard Draco, it’s dangerous.”
“We’re not leaving, Al,” Lily replied.
“No way,” James reiterated. Albus didn’t want them to leave, but he also didn’t want them getting hurt. His mum and dad would really never forgive him then. Not that they’d ever forgive him now. How could he be so stupid to just leave with his siblings without even leaving a note? They’d be beside themselves that James and Lily are missing right now.
“Maybe we should send mum and dad an owl, to let them know we’re safe?” Albus suggested, albeit a little grumpily. “They’d be freaking out by now knowing their precious son and daughter are missing.”
“What’s that supposed to mean, Al?” James asked.
“Well, it’s not like dad will care I’m gone. He’s probably throwing a secret party but you two-”
“Albus, dad loves you. He’ll be worried about all of us!”
As though a higher power had been listening to their conversation, the radio playing in the background said his dad’s name, and all three children stopped their conversation to listen in.
“-the kids were reported missing mid-afternoon yesterday after all three of them disappeared from the Potter house. James Sirius, 19, Albus Severus, 17, and Lily Luna, 15, were all spotted in Diagon Alley last night, but were quickly lost in the crowd. Harry Potter, father to the three teenagers, is yet to make a statement, but will be releasing one later today.
“Their disappearance follows shortly after the sudden disappearance of Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy, also 17, who also didn’t show up at King’s Cross station for his final year at Hogwarts, though he is not suspected to be with the Potter’s despite his close acquaintance to Potter’s middle child, Albus. More to be reported later.”
The three Potters shared a glance before quickly deciding to leave the shop, knowing now they’ll be easily recognised in any wizarding area. Once out the café, James apparated the three of them to a muggle town they’d stayed in once when they were younger.
Surrey was located just outside of London, hidden in the countryside. It was beautifully quaint town, full of a peaceful energy that most town’s failed to achieve. Albus found it much more peaceful than their busy town in Cheshunt that never seemed to sleep due to it being on the brink of the London border. It was nice, but Albus always preferred quieter places. Which is why he always looked forward to their family trips to Cornwall during the summers, because the beach was usually quiet – especially at night.
Albus wished he’d have gotten the chance to take Scorpius there. That was their plan next summer after they’d both graduated – Albus would finally pluck up the courage to ask his dad if his best friend could come on their holiday. Lily and James’ best friends have both been coming for years, but Harry turned down Scorpius in their third year and Albus had been too afraid to ask since. Now, who knows if that will ever get to happen?
Wait. No. Why was he talking about Scorpius as if he was dead? Scorpius was alive.
You have to be alive, Albus thought. I can’t live without you, so I swear you have to be alive. He clung to his necklace, repeating this over and over and over, as though Scorpius would hear it through their heartbeats. Unfortunately, Scorpius’ magic didn’t work those kind of miracles.
James pulled the door open to café and gestured the others inside, the bell ringing as the door closed behind them. They picked a booth in the corner away from the other customers. James disappeared a few moments to order them all a coffee before returning and pulling a notebook from his bag.
“So,” he began, all business and Auror-like, “Draco said Scorpius was arranged to go somewhere with someone he trusts.” He jotted something down in the notebook.
Lily spoke up as he did. “Draco doesn’t trust a whole load of people, maybe a few friends from school. Any ideas, Al?”
Albus sighed. “Scorpius’ grandparents could be an option, I imagine they know exactly how to get off the grid. As for friends, I think maybe Scorpius mentioned Pansy Parkinson a couple of times and someone else, let me think.” Whilst Albus spoke, James jotted down the names of potential people they could visit to enquire on Scorpius’ whereabouts.
“Maybe we need to think bigger,” Lily said. “What if this isn’t just Death Eaters? Scorpius, no offence, wasn’t very well liked.”
“But I highly doubt a bunch of seventeen-year-olds are about to kidnap him,” Albus retorted, running a frustrated hand through his hair. Scorpius had been missing for a whole day – and that was only as long as Albus was aware.
James dropped his pen on the notebook, “I hate to be the one to bring this up, but are we sure he’s even missing? He could be safe.”
“How do we know?”
“Because,” Albus started, “I know, James. He sent me this letter,” he scrambled through his backpack for it and slammed it on the table. “He never writes in anything but perfect handwriting, so it was rushed. He keeps saying he doesn’t know when he’ll next see me but we’re best friends, he would never just abandon me and,” Albus paused, fingers brushing over the final paragraph of the letter.
“He confessed his love for you,” Lily whispered softly, looking at Albus in awe.
“He-” he coughed to clear the lump in his throat. “He was clearly scared.” Albus touched the necklace, finding that Scorpius’ heart rate was more elevated than usual. “And his heart beat has been all over the place. That’s how I know.”
There was a small silence that settled over the group whilst everyone absorbed this new information. It must have been a lot for his siblings, finding out that not only did Albus love Scorpius, but Scorpius loved him back. It seems stupid to Albus now why they never did anything before. Fourth year, that was when Scorpius said he figured it out. What Scorpius didn’t know is that Albus had the same realisation at the same time. Whilst he was busy snorting pumpkin juice over Polly Chapman’s shoes, Scorpius was hunched over with laughter, a beautiful angelic sound echoing throughout the classroom. When Albus looked at him, he was a picture of beauty with a smile that lit up a thousand suns and a spark in his eye that had become rare to find.
“Zabini,” Albus said. “Scorpius said he has an uncle Blaise Zabini, one of his dad’s friends from school. Blaise has a son in our year, Dante, who doesn’t like Scorpius much. Maybe we could start there.”
James jotted down the name. “And what’s the significance of Zabini?”
“Dante’s smart, always been slightly behind Scorpius in school and he never liked it. At the end of last year, he said something to Scorpius that didn’t seem very significant at the time, but Scorpius said, yet again, about how he wasn’t a Death Eater and Dante replied, ‘you won’t be able to say that for much longer,’” – James pulled a face – “but we just ignored it. But, Draco said they want him on their side or not at all.”
“Which means what?” Lily asked.
“It means we need to speak to Blaise Zabini, and hope we have enough time to get to Scorpius. He’ll refuse and who knows what they’ll do it him.”
Finding Blaise Zabini was harder than initially thought. James tried to get in contact with a colleague at work who he insisted wouldn’t give them away to their dad, which was a difficult promise considering their dad was both of their bosses. However, after sending a Patronus and receiving nothing in return, they were at a loss once again.
Lily – ever the one with brilliantly stupid ideas – suggested breaking into the Ministry Archives and finding his address that way, but Albus quickly shot her down with the notion that not only would they get caught, but it’s also highly illegal and would takes weeks of planning. Scorpius didn’t have weeks.
Then, there was Hogwarts. James suggested Albus and Lily going back under a guise and seeking out Dante Zabini to get the address, but once again Albus said they’d get caught. Scorpius didn’t have time for them to get caught or worse: end up in Azkaban for illegal breaking into the Ministry.
They were sent a lifeline, however, when an owl came flying a couple of hours later with a note – an address. It had come from James’ colleague who didn’t want to send a Patronus back with such vital information, but it was unlikely for an owl to get intercepted. It was her personal owl, not a Ministry one, to be even more careful.
That was how they found themselves apparating to a large manor house on the outskirts of Manchester. The building itself was nearly as daunting as Malfoy Manor, though lacked the Death-Eaters-once-lived-here eerie vibe and instead sat like any normal large house. Albus could feel the magic vibrating around it, protection spells clearly meticulously put in place. James and Albus sent each other a wary look, before James cast a spell that disenchanted the charms and allowed the gate to open for them.
Lily, with all the fierceness she had, took the lead, walking with intent down the drive. Albus and James had to jog slightly to catch up, and by the time they did she had already knocked on the door. There was a long wait, and they hadn’t discussed a plan before coming here so were running on pure adrenaline and instinct. However, when the door opened, it wasn’t Blaise Zabini on the other side, but rather, Dante.
Dante looked much like his father with his devilish handsome looks and dark skin. Albus didn’t know much about his mother but assumed from gossip that she was never really around much. Upon seeing who was on the other side, Dante raised a thick eyebrow in their direction, clearly confused at the company.
“And why would Albus Potter be on my doorstep?” He drawled, flicking between the three Potters but landing on Albus.
Albus shrugged before asking, “why aren’t you at school?”
“I could ask you the same thing. The radio’s been going mental with the news of you three missing. I wonder what prize I could get for selling you out.”
“Is your dad in?” James asked before Albus could dig them in a hole – Albus was pretty good at that.
Dante looked at him with a bored expression. “No.”
“Dante -“ Albus started, but Dante interrupted.
“If you must know, dad didn’t want me going back to school this year. Says there are dark times coming and Hogwarts isn’t safe. It wasn’t when he was at school and it isn’t now. Just goes to show really with Scorpius Malfoy going missing. Though I’m not sure anyone cares for his safe return,” Dante rambled, rolling his eyes far too many times throughout. Albus’ ears perked at the sound of Scorpius' name and his anger flared when he suggested that nobody cared for him. Albus did. Albus cared too much.
“I do,” Albus spat. “That’s why we’re here. Your dad, has he been talking or working with Draco more than usual?”
Something in the air made Dante’s shoulder slump slightly – odd behaviour for a high-class pureblood – and he sent a small smile in Albus’ direction. Albus would have missed it if he hadn’t been watching him so carefully, because the smile was gone almost as it appeared.
“I always knew there was something between you two,” he commented, before shaking his head. “Dad hasn’t spoken to Draco in years, I guess they fell apart after focusing on their families. So no, my dad has nothing to do with Scorpius disappearing.”
“What did you mean by dark times coming?” James asked, backtracking a little in the conversation. Albus was, once again, thankful for his level-headed brother. Being an Auror meant James clicked onto the important parts of the conversation.
Dante shrugged. “Dad doesn’t talk about it to me much, but there’s talk of Death Eaters rising around Knockturn Alley and stuff. If I didn’t know any better I’d say Scorpius’ disappearance has something to do with them.”
“Thanks,” Albus said, genuinely. “So, you don’t know anything else?”
“I know that whatever’s coming won’t be good, and if you find Scorpius, be careful.”
“What does that mean?” Albus said, his anger flaring.
“It means that your precious little Malfoy may not be the same person who went missing,” Dante appeared to have gone back to his bored tone, no longer willing to give information.
Lily, however, was not having it. “What do you know, Zabini?” She asked, a fire in her tone and determination in her eyes. She stepped up to him, but she was still considerably smaller.
“Nothing, Potter.” Dante pushed Lily’s shoulders, so she stumbled down the step. Luckily Albus managed to catch her and stop James from sending a hex in his direction at the same time. That wouldn’t help anyone. Clearly, Dante was finished giving out any information, so Albus thanked him for his time and pulled his siblings away from the door. He was halfway down the drive when Dante shouted his name. Albus turned.
“Check out Pansy Parkinson’s, I know she’s fairly close to Draco too. And Albus, I hope you find him.”
Albus’ brow furrowed, confused as to why Dante cared so much. “Why?”
“Losing someone you love is something I’d never wish upon anyone.” With that, Dante closed the door.
They sulked down the drive together, James apparating them away from the manor house before Dante had the chance to call the Aurors on them. They found themselves in an abandoned park in a place that wasn’t all that familiar to Albus. James explained they were in Chester – he visited here on a mission one time.
The day was getting on, the sun slowly lazing to set, igniting the sky in a gentle orange. Albus groaned, throwing himself to the floor in a fit of fury not unlike the fire in the sky. They were no closer to finding Scorpius. No closer to saving him. Albus had only discovered that Scorpius could be in more trouble than he initially thought. Being recruited by Death Eaters. Scorpius would rather die than have that. There was fierce stubbornness in his best friend that Albus admired greatly, but that fierce stubbornness might just get him killed.
Albus reached for the necklace only to find it beating rapidly, feeling like it was about to explode. The pulsing of Scorpius’ heartbeat was overwhelming. He was clearly scared in a way Albus had never felt his heartbeat before. It was deafening, clawing around his body and in his blood.
Albus screamed loudly, pounding his fists hard against the strands of grass, allowing himself a moment of rage and anger and upset. Allowing himself to cry out for his best friend in a way he hasn’t been able to yet. James and Lily never bothered to stop it, so he kept going. He kept punching the floor, punching anything he could find before the energy drained from him and he could do nothing but curl into a ball. It was then Lily and James joined him, sandwiching him between them.
“I know it doesn’t mean anything right now, but we’ll find him, Al. We will,” James spoke, and his words sounded too much like a promise that Albus didn’t want to believe them. He couldn’t.
“Follow me, Scorpius,” his grandfather said in a no-nonsense voice. Scorpius hesitated for only a second before sprinting after him, following him through a few winding halls into they came into a broad living space. There was only one other person present, a young girl with bright silver hair, the ends tinted blue.
Scorpius stood, anxiously twiddling his thumbs, unsure on the proper etiquette of the situation. He swallowed the lump in his throat and willed his heartbeat to slow to a normal rate before speaking up. “Where are we?”
“That doesn’t matter, you won’t be here long,” Lucius drawled, gesturing to the girl to stand up. She did, bouncing on her heels as she bounded over to him.
“I’m Delphi,” she spoke in an awfully cheery tone, practically tearing his hands apart so she could shake one of them. “I’m hoping we can be good friends,” she beamed. Scorpius immediately didn’t trust her. Maybe it was the over-friendliness, or just the faux-smile she was putting on. It was clear her bubbly personality was nothing but an act, Scorpius could see through those kind of things. He’d spent years in training at Hogwarts, seeing through fake personalities and into the ulterior motive behind it.
The problem was, he didn’t know exactly what Delphi’s ulterior motive was.
“Why am I…” he drifted off to take a deep breath. “Why am I here?” His voice trembled, and he cursed himself for sounding weak.
Delphi smiled at him, but this time it wasn’t the bubbly beam, but more of a smirk. There was Scorpius’ suspicions about her confirmed. “We want to recruit you, silly.”
“Be careful of your words Delphini,” Lucius said. Delphi’s façade dropped into a fed-up eye roll she sent only in Scorpius’ direction – as though they were friends and shared the same annoyance. Then the smile returned.
“I will be, uncle.” Scorpius froze. Uncle. Uncle? How could his grandfather be this girls uncle? In what way did that work? How did that work? How was she related to him – to Scorpius in any way? He’d never seen her before, never met her. Surely, he’d know if he had some hidden cousin around. Before he could think much more about it, Delphi turned to back to him. “We need you, Scorpius, for the return of eternal darkness.” She grinned.
Scorpius’ heartbeat went into overdrive, the pounding echoing through his body. He was sure it was so loud that even Delphi and his grandfather could hear it.
“I don’t want that,” he replied weakly, his voice sounding a million miles away.
“I told you,” his grandfather drawled.
Delphi tilted her head to the side, the smile dropping. “Shame.”