Albus sent an owl to his dad that night of the radio report explaining that Draco Malfoy was not responsible their disappearance, that the three kids had chosen to run away, that to release him, to not look for them, that they were safe and well (as well as one can be when trapped in a burning building) and that they should be home soon. He didn’t know if Harry would get it, or if he would even listen to anything Albus had said, but it was worth a shot. They couldn’t save Scorpius only for him to find out his dad had gone to Azkaban for a crime he didn’t commit.
It was a long night for all three of them. Albus never slept at all, rallying the information over and over in his head and figuring out where to go next. James woke often in pain, screaming so loudly that eventually Albus had to put a silencing charm on their room to avoid suspicion. Every time James woke, so did Lily. Albus did his best to treat James’ wounds, but they were rapidly running out of supplies.
When the sun rose the next morning, Albus left a note for his siblings telling them he was venturing into Diagon Alley for more potion supplies. He pulled on a beanie hat to cover his relentless curls and coloured his eyes a murky brown in hop es he would go unrecognised. He apparated to the Leaky Cauldron and walked through to the other side with his head down. He made it to the potion shop and back undetected with enough to hopefully keep them going for a few weeks.
As he opened the door to the hotel room, juggling a bag of potions and a bag from the local café, as well as three coffees in a holder, he was tackled in a hug and a mouthful of fiery red hair. Albus nearly dropped all the contents, but luckily, over the years, he’d become Lily-Proof and knew she popped up at random times to tackle them in hugs.
“Albus, what the hell? Why did you go on your own? You could have been caught, or recognised, you’re so bloody stupid!” She was scolding him, dragging him into the hotel room and slamming the door behind him. Albus cringed at the bang, it was still early in the morning.
“I’m sorry, Lulu,” he said, sincerely, pulling her back into a hug. “I’m here now, okay? James needed more potions that we didn’t have. And, I bought breakfast,” he said, pu tting the coffees on the dresser and pulling the breakfast muffins out of his bag with a sheepish smile.
Lily narrowed her eyes at him then sighed, “fine, you’re forgiven this one time but only because you brought breakfast.”
Albus laughed, but it trailed off as James groaned, attempting to sit up . Lily and Albus were both watching him with pity eyes and James forced a smile and rolled his eyes.
“ Wipe those looks o f f your faces, I’m not bloody dead,” James quipped, then winced slightly. Albus picked up a muffin and coffee for him and walked over. He placed the coffee on the side and handed the muffin to James who took it gratefully.
“How are you feeling?” Albus asked, kneeling down by the side of the bed. He spilled the potions bag over the floor, analysing what he’d bought, and which one would be best to help James presently.
“Honestly, burnt to a crisp,” he joked, a smile on his face. Albus chuckled. James joking meant James was okay and that was a relief to Albus.
Lily, however, frowned, “that’s not funny, Jamie.”
“You’re right, sorry, I’m a little sore and my skin feels like it’s on fire, but I’m okay,” he replied sincerely .
“Well,” Albus said, picking up a potion meant to ease burns and turning to James. “This might hurt,” he warned before applying the potions to his arms . Somehow, he managed to emerge with his face intact, aside from a few lacerations. Really, he was incredibly lucky. “I owled dad . He's trying to interrogate Draco on our whereabouts, so I told him that Draco had nothing to do with it.”
“Albus!” James and Lily scolded at the same time.
“I know! But I had to! And besides, we aren’t staying here anyway, dad couldn’t track where the owl came from. Which brings me to my next point. They said they’re holding him in an old manor that belonged to the Rowle’s up north, I say that’s where we head.”
“You are aware of how big the north is, don’t you Albus?" James said, eyebrows raised. "We’re in London, pretty much everywhere is north!”
“Do you have a better idea?” Albus snapped.
“ Find out where the Rowle Manor is?” Lily asked, picking up a burn salve that Albus had purchased and started tending to her own leg.
“We can do that, but we need to head up there. James can’t apparate us in this state and I don’t want to go too far with all three of us because I don’t want to…” he trailed off, gesturing vaguely to Lily’s arm, where he had splinched her. The potion he'd used yesterday had more or less healed it completely, but he'd bought something extra just in case.
Lily looked at it then rolled her eyes. “Al, you apparated us in a heightened state of anxiety, that’s why it went wrong. This time you’ll be more focused,” she assured. Albus didn’t believe her, but he nodded either way.
Once Albus had tended to all of James’ wounds, he wrapped them up and packed the potions up into his backpack. Fiendfyre burns were unpredictable and savage. They usually needed the treatment of professionals, but it had been James who said no to going to St Mungos. Albus hoped that his treatments were enough and that he wouldn’t scar t o o badly.
They spent a few days laying low in the hotel in order for James to make enough of a recovery to be on the move. It was a slow few days in which they couldn't do much. Albus kept the radio playing but there was little news on anything, whether it be on themselves, Scorpius or Draco. It seemed even the Death Eater activity had taken a break whilst they waited for James to recuperate. Albus treated him as much as he could, as well as Lily. Mostly, it was spent hoping and praying that when they do eventually make it up North, Scorpius would still be where they were. Albus hadn't seen what happened to Nott in the fire, but he secretly hoped it was bad enough that he couldn't get a message to his captors.
On the third day after James and Lily were well enough to travel, the three siblings left the hotel behind and headed for the nearest train station. With Albus being as tired as he was (he had not been sleeping much at all), they agreed that apparating was too risky, and James wouldn’t be able to with his injuries either, he was still in a little bit of pain. Besides, they wouldn’t be expected to be found in a muggle train station.
They got tickets to the first train out of London going north and settled down in seats with a table between them. James winced slightly as he pulled the notebook from his backpack and a pang of guilt surged through Albus. James was injured because of him, pretty badly. And Albus was the only one who could help him, and he was even rubbish at that. It was a good job, he thought, that he had been friends with Scorpius for so long. Scorpius was a natural-born healer, from his impressive spell work to his impeccable bedside manner.
Albus missed him.
He more than missed him, if that was even possible. His heart felt heavy, weighing him down like an anchor and pulling him under. Without Scorpius, he couldn’t breathe. For a long time, Scorpius has been his life line; the one person he could always rely on. His constant. With Scorpius, things in life were easier: breathing, talking, walking, existing. Albus needed him like a plant needed water, like the sun needed the moon, like humans needed air.
He looked out the window, the noise of Lily and James discussing plans going to the back of his mind. His mind drifted to Scorpius, his bright smile and intelligent eyes that danced with the afternoon sun. He and Scorpius had shared many train journeys in the past to and from Hogwarts, talking about their summers or reading each other books. Sometimes they wouldn’t even need to talk, sometimes they would just sit and be in each other’s presence. Share their aura and exist together as one. Just as they always had.
Albus’ mind drifted off to the last time he saw Scorpius, on the train on the way back from Hogwarts after finishing their sixth year.
“This one’s free, Al,” he spoke, gesturing to the compartment with his head. He opened it, shoving his carry-on in the space above before taking Albus’ and putting it next to him. Albus slumped down, waiting for Scorpius to sit next to him so he could rest his head on his shoulder. Scorpius did, his latest book in his hands, and Albus instantly slumped against him. Scorpius chuckled, “tired?”
“Shattered,” Albus said, eyes closed and already nearly asleep.
“Guessing you didn’t sleep much?” Scorpius said, running a hand through Albus’ hair.
“Slept fine,” he mumbled. “It’s too early.”
“It’s eleven in the morning, Al! We wake up earlier for classes!” He protested.
Albus lifted his head only to send him a look of contempt. Scorpius laughed at him, booping him on the nose. Albus rolled his eyes and fell back against him, but this time lying down fully with his head in his lap. “Are you going to read to me or what?”
Scorpius gaped, “not with that attitude, Potter.”
“You’re so cute when you’re whiney,” Scorpius said, causing Albus to blush bright red. “I mean – er – yeah, whatever,” Scorpius coughed to cover up his awkwardness. Albus narrowed his eyes at him , but Scorpius never saw before he opened his book and covered his face with it. He began reading before Albus could say anything about Scorpius calling him cute. As Albus drifted off into sleep, however, he couldn’t help but thi nk about it.
“Albus?” James’ voice and Lily’s hand on his shoulder snapped him from his reverie . He didn’t realise there were tears falling down his face until they dripped onto his hands. He wiped them quickly, sniffling slightly and forcing a smile onto his face. “ There’s a wizarding l ibrary in Hatfield where they’ll have articles and stuff, we’re hoping we can find something about the Rowle Manor being abandoned. ”
“Won’t we be recognised in a wizarding library?”
“ Possibly, again we’ll have to try and be as discrete as possible . I’m hoping it’ll be quiet .”
Albus nodded absentmindedly, “you and Lily go in under the cloak until we get to the archives and then we could look together?”
James smiled. “Yeah, good idea, Al.”
They’d taken three separate trains to Hatfield to avoid suspicion of any kind in case anyone recognised them. Albus tried not to get irritated that this search was taking far too long, that anything could be happening to Scorpius right now, and instead focused on the task at hand.
The library was quiet just as James hoped. He and Lily stood just behind him as Albus asked the librarian for direction to the archives section, to which she happily pointed him towards. They settled down at a table hidden out the way – much like he and Scorpius would do at school – and grabbed as many old newspapers as possible dating back as far as the war.
The guess was that the manor went abandoned after the war when the Rowle’s associated with Voldemort were sent to Azkaban along with the rest of his followers. They searched more obscure newspapers that preferred to report news of the darker side of the war, rather than the hero Harry Potter.
They’d been there hours, searching through each of the papers individually . James had scanned some of them using a word-finding charm he’d learn ed in Auror training but was too complicated to teach to Albus and Lily was too young to use magic. Albus was about to give up when an article caught his eye. There was a picture of Bellatrix LeStrange – a known associate of Voldemort who was killed in the war by his grandmother.
In the picture, s he was holding a baby whilst coming out of Malfoy Manor, clearly trying to hide from view. The headline read: Baby LeStrange makes her first appearance. Albus furrowed his brows as he read on. The article only speculated that the baby belonged to Bellatrix , as she had n’t been seen for a suspicious nine months, and when she did show up, suddenly a baby was in mix. But, if Bellatrix had a baby, then what happened to her after the war?
Albus mentioned it to James and Lily, but both of them brushed it off as they were deep into their own research . Albus decided to put the information to one side, keeping it at the forefront of his brain. If this kid had survived, could they have something to do with the new rise in Death Eater activity?
“I’ve got something,” Lily said, a little louder than intended. She covered her mouth with her hand and looked around, but she didn’t seem to have attracted any attention. “Here, look. ‘The Rowle Manor was a bandoned shortly after the war when Aurors tried to arrest them and take them to Azkaban . The Rowle’s living there were all arrested, aside from Euphemia Rowle who managed to escape with a young baby. She never returned the Manor, which stood on the hills of West Yorkshire, and it has been abandoned ever since. It suffered some structural damages from a small battle against the Aurors, but otherwise still stands. ’”
“So, West Yorkshire is where we’ll go,” Albus said.
“Is there an address?” James asked. Lily nodded, pointing to the bottom of the page where the address for the Rowle Manor was written. They shared a smile before James and Lily disappeared under the cloak and back out into the open.
It took them a little over two weeks to reach West Yorkshire. They didn’t have enough muggle money to keep boarding different trains as they had to use it to put a roof over their heads every night, which meant Albus had taken to apparating short distances and walking. James was slowly getting better; his wounds weren’t as severe as when they first appeared, and he was in less pain every day thanks to Albus and his healing work.
They kept up to date with the news on a portable radio they purchased from an antique shop which James then tinkered with to get the wizarding channels. Draco had been released from Ministry custody, which meant that Harry had received Albus’ letter and had stopped the ridiculous investigation. Albus contemplated sending Draco a letter, but he was so broken up over Scorpius being missing that he doubted he’d be much help to them.
Over the past two weeks, the rise in Death Eater activity seemed to increase. There were a few deaths of muggle-borns across the country linked to dark activity that the Aurors were investigating according to the news. They didn’t, however, mention anything about Scorpius again. It seemed that they figured he’d just dropped off the face of the Earth and no one cared enough to continue looking for him. No one but Albus, James and Lily.
They arrived in West Yorkshire rather late at night, apparating into Castleford at 11p.m. Figuring one more night wouldn’t harm him (against Albus’ protests who said they should storm the house now) they found a run down hotel that was cheap enough. As they lay down for the night, Albus’ mind was running wild.
Scorpius was close. He could feel it. This was the place they were supposedly keeping him, the place he was probably being hurt. He knew in his heart that he was here and hoped beyond all hope they hadn’t moved him.
Again, they shared the double bed, Lily between James and Albus. The other two fell asleep rather quickly, knowing it had been a long day . Albus, however, lay awake fiddling with his and Scorpius’ matching necklace. He let the heartbeat fill him up, the only knowledge that Scorpius was alive. The thump, thump, thump, kept him going. It made the dark days seem a little brighter because no matter where he was, he was alive. His heart was beating.
Albus sat up when the beating sensation stopped.
Overwhelmed with panic, Albus held on tight to the necklace, hoping, praying, that the charm had worn off. But this was Scorpius – the greatest wizard of his generation – there was no way his magic would just stop working. Not unless… not unless his heart did.
“NO!” Albus screamed, waking Lily and James. “NO, HE CAN’T BE!” Albus began pacing, tears streaming down his cheeks and his heart pounding so rapidly it was sure to fall out of his chest. James had his arms around him in a second but Albus pushed him off, sinking to the floor and giving in to his panic attack. James was talking but Albus couldn’t hear him, all he could hear was his own heartbeat. Not Scorpius’.
“We’re going now,” Albus spoke, standing up and grabbing his wand.
“Scorpius is DEAD! ” He screamed at his siblings before the words processed properly in his ear. “I can’t… I can’t feel him anymore. He’s gone, Jamie.” Albus fell into his brother, wrapping his arms around him and letting out his sobs freely. Lily joined in the hug, her own tears falling down her face. “We need to find him,” Albus said, because finding his body was better than finding nothing. At least with his body, Albus and Draco could say goodbye.
“We will,” James assured, stroking his brothers hair. Albus sobbed until his lungs hurt and his throat was sore. In a shitty hotel room , the Potter siblings mourned for their best friend .