Scorpius’ legs gave way beneath him as he ran down the moving staircases. He crashed to the floor, tumbling the last few steps down, twisting his ankle and aggravating the still-healing wound on his stomach. Groaning in pain, he pulled himself into a sitting position and let himself catch his breath.
But there was no air for him to catch his breath. The walls of the castle were closing in on him, suffocating him, trapping him. It was sucking the air from his lungs, taking it away and giving it to someone much more deserving than him.
Delphi was right.
He brings darkness and chaos everywhere he goes. His very existence puts people in trouble. He can’t even perform a simple spell that he’s been able to perform since fourth year without destroying a few things first.
“Scorpius!” A familiar voice called, followed by footsteps bounding down the stairs. Scorpius ignored it, struggling to breathe as he brought his hands in front of his face and watched them shake relentlessly. They wouldn’t stop. There were constantly trembling, like they were scared of him or his magic.
Two hands wrapped around his own that were warm and comforting, sending a spark of hope through him. The whole world isn’t cold, there is some warmth buried in the heart of Albus Potter, he thought.
Those hands helped settle his breathing, as did the soft voice talking to him about things he could barely comprehend. Only once he calmed down and the room let air back into his lungs did he flick his eyes up to meet a dazzling pair of green ones staring right back at him. He became aware of the wetness of his cheeks, the tears of his pent-up frustration.
Albus was staring at him, a softness in his expression, one full of love and sadness rolled into a ball. He hated that he put that look on Albus’ face. That he was hurting him just because he couldn’t get over what happened. Because he couldn’t eat properly, or sleep at all. Because he couldn’t perform magic because his hands shake too much. Because he’s a walking disaster. A grenade ticking down to its final moments before it explodes and wounds everyone close enough. He wasn’t ready for Albus to become even more of a victim to his wounds.
“Hey,” Albus said softly, taking his cheeks in his hands. He gently stroked away the tears. “You’re okay, you know that, right?”
Scorpius shook his head, more tears pouring down. “I don’t feel it.”
“What do you feel?”
“I feel...” the truth was, he didn’t know. He didn’t know how to describe it. It felt like there was a part of him missing. Like a part of him had been left to Delphi. And it had, hadn’t it? She’d manipulated his memories and tortured him and marked him and tried to take away what was left of his humanity and his sanity. She’d taken away Albus because the Albus he knew in his head was different from the one in his heart, different from the boy sitting in front of him now. “I feel... sort of... disconnected.”
“From what?” He asked, eyes wide with curiosity.
Scorpius shrugged. “Myself, I guess. From you.”
Albus opened his mouth to speak and closed it again, clearly unsure on what to say. Scorpius couldn’t blame him. He, also, was at a loss for words. To save them both, Scorpius simply whispered, “we should get back to class.”
Albus looked like he wanted to fight it, but decided against it. Instead he stood up and offered a hand to Scorpius, who took it gratefully and pulled himself up off the floor. His ankle throbbed, but he tried not to show how much pain he was really in. It was easier said than done when he near collapsed again after putting too much pressure on it.
“I’m fine,” he said before Albus could ask a question.
Albus stopped and turned to him, a look of hurt on his face. “What happened?”
“I fell down the stairs. That’s why I was on the floor.”
“Do we need to go to the hospital wing?”
Scorpius had never shaken his head so fast. Albus studied him for a moment before nodding his head, putting his arm around his back to support him up the stairs. He didn’t need the help, but he was just glad for the closeness of Albus and the faint smell of his cologne.
By the time they’d reached the Charms classroom, the bell had rung signalling the end of glass. They stuck to the back of the room waiting for the classroom to empty completely before going to collect their things. Albus went to get them whilst Scorpius approached Professor Flitwick.
“I’m sorry, Professor,” he spoke. The smaller man looked up from his desk, taking his glasses off and resting them on top of a bunch of assignments he was marking.
“No need to apologise, Scorpius. It’s your first day back, I can’t imagine it’s easy.” Scorpius shook his head in response. “You may not be a member of my house – despite how well I believe you may fit – but you can always come to me to talk, you know? I know a thing or two about surviving trauma.”
Despite himself, Scorpius smiled slightly. “Thank you. My head’s just a little messy right now,” he explained.
“That’s understandable. You can take more time, if you need it,” he reminded.
“I don’t. I need to be here; I need something normal.”
“As long as you’re looking after yourself. And others,” he gestured behind him to where Scorpius knew Albus would now be standing with their bags ready to leave and head to lunch.
“I will. Thank you, Professor.” Professor Flitwick smiled up at him and nodded. Scorpius turned to joined Albus at the door, placing his bag on his shoulder. It wasn’t as heavy as it normally was and Scorpius guessed he’d forgotten more books that he needed for class.
They held hands all the way to the Great Hall where they quickly scanned the Slytherin table for somewhere to sit. They chose a seat at the end of the table far from the other members of their house for a little bit of privacy. As usual, they sat shoulder to shoulder – a progression that happened even before they started dated – almost as if the world would fall apart if they stopped touching.
Scorpius was sure his definitely would.
The first thing Scorpius did was make a cup of tea, the only thing he could for sure stomach right now. He was basically living off the stuff. His hands shook as he poured it, but they got worse when he went to lift his mug to his mouth, knowing it would probably burn his tongue. It didn’t make it that far, however, because some of it spilt down his shirt and cardigan, scolding the skin underneath.
He slammed the tea back on the table, making it spill more over his hands and he let out a pained, “fuck!”
Albus was faster on his reflexes and already had his wand out, cooling Scorpius’ skin and making the burning sensation disappear in a moment. He thanked Albus as he dried his uniform for him. His uniform that was a little too big for him due to all the weight he’s lost. His shirt didn’t fit right anymore, his cardigan hung loose. His robes were too heavy for him to wear at the moment, so he had left them back at the dorm, despite the chill of the castle as they approached the end of October.
“I can’t even drink a bloody tea,” he muttered in frustration, about to get his wand out to conjure a straw but thinking better of it after his performance in class.
“Your hands, have you considered speaking to a healer about it?” Albus asked. Scorpius sighed internally; it was time to be a little more open with him.
“I already have at my check-up yesterday. They said a calming draught would help, but they’re addicting and are reluctant to prescribe it to me.”
“Will it go away?”
“Maybe, with time. It’s a side effect,” he took a deep breath, knowing he didn’t want to tell Albus what it was a side effect to, simply because he didn’t want to see the heartbroken look on his face.
“To what?” He pushed. He knew he would push.
“The... the Cruciatus curse.” Albus gasped. Scorpius took a deep breath and looked at him, forcing a smile. “It was her favourite spell to use.”
Albus blinked. “How - how many times?”
Scorpius shrugged, keeping his voice a low whisper when he said, “I lost count.”
“Hey!” A loud, female voice interrupted them, causing Scorpius to jump a mile. Lily looked at him sheepishly. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you,” she bit down on her bottom lip. She flicked her gaze between both boys. “Am I interrupting something?”
Albus coughed. “No, you’re fine. How was class?”
Lily waved her hand and rolled her eyes, “people kept asking me questions about what happened and if Scorpius really is an evil Death Eater.” Scorpius pulled the sleeve of his cardigan over his hands, subconsciously covering the mark put there by Delphi. It wasn’t a Dark Mark, but it was still a scar that matched hers. It was still her intention to join them in her own twisted way.
“What did you say?” Albus asked.
“I told them that if they say another bad word about him, I’m going to take their wands and shove them where the sun doesn’t shine.” She looked up at them and smiled mischievously. Scorpius instinctively smiled back. It was nice to know Lily had his back.
“Remind me not to get on your bad side,” Scorpius joked, winking at her.
Lily giggled. “As if you could ever get on my bad side. You’re the human embodiment of a unicorn.”
“You know, pure, wholesome, lovely. And then you’re over here dating a bitter black cat.”
“Hey!” Albus said, affronted. Scorpius couldn’t help but laugh a little at Albus’ mouth agape and eyes wide.
Scorpius took his hand. “Bitter black cat or not, I still love you,” he spoke, planting a kiss on his cheek. Albus instantly melted, a goofy smile appearing on his lips. Lily scoffed and rolled her eyes, but Scorpius could tell she meant it fondly.
“Are you guys going to be in the library after dinner?” Lily asked, taking a bite of her sandwich. Scorpius just now realised he hasn’t eaten anything yet. He looked at the array of sandwiches before him and picked which one’s looked best, avoiding anything with fish in it. He almost threw up at the sight of the tuna sandwiches, a bitter reminder of those days in the Manor. He quickly pushed the platter of tuna sandwiches away from him, covering his mouth slightly to overcome a wave of nausea.
“We probably will be,” Albus answered, “got a lot to catch up on.”
“Mind if I join you?”
“Of course not.”
The two were continuing their conversation, unaware of the inner battle of Scorpius’ mind. He watched Lily pick up one of the tuna sandwiches and take a bite. The nausea returned at full force.
He stood up quickly. “Be back in a minute.”
He stormed out of the Great Hall and down the corridor to the nearest bathroom. He was thankful to see that it was unoccupied as he collapsed to the floor in a bathroom stall and starting retching into the toilet. Due to his lack of food, there was no physical vomit. He just coughed and spluttered for a few moments before collapsing backwards and curling his knees to his chest.
How had he ended up on the floor twice today?
He stayed there for a few more moments until he heard someone else enter and he stood quickly to close the door and hide. The group of boys lingered for a few minutes before heading back out, which was when Scorpius decided it was time to leave. He exited the cubicle, taking a quick glance in the mirror and nearly gasped.
Looking in the mirror was something he'd tried to avoid for days. He looked awful, with big black bags under his eyes, his skin a pale grey rather than the white it usually was. His hair lay flat as he never had the energy to style it anymore, and occasionally he ran a hand through it, making it embarrassingly messy. There was a faint bruising on his lips from the amount of times he chewed on them.
He splashed some water on his face, hoping it would somehow wipe away the black from under his eyes. He was worried they’d become a permanent fixture. As he looked at himself, he struggled to see how Albus Potter had ever fallen in love with him. He was a mess, in his looks and in his head.
Though he supposed it didn’t matter how Albus had fallen in love with him, just that he had. Despite all his doubts, he was loved, and Scorpius would never throw that away.
He took a slow walk back to the Great Hall, preparing himself for the questions. Surprisingly, though, when he sat down, Albus and Lily remained quiet. Scorpius poured himself a glass of water with his shaky hands and took a sip before turning to Albus.
“Would you mind conjuring me a straw and heating my tea up?”
“Of course, honey.” He pulled his wand out and did as Scorpius asked. He thanked him with a smile and took a thankful sip of the hot liquid through the straw. Albus had warmed it up to the perfect temperature. Taking a deep breath, he tore the crusts off his sandwich and took a small bite. He didn’t do it for himself. He did it for Albus.
He did it for the boy sitting next to him that smiled proudly when he did. He would do everything for him. He would force himself to eat; he would try his best to sleep; he would work hard at his studies and he would help Albus with his. He would do it all for Albus because Albus crossed the country to save him. He put himself in terrible danger for him. It wouldn’t be fair for Albus to watch him slowly fade away. He owed Albus so much more than that.
An abundance of owls swept into the Hall, one landing in front of Scorpius that he didn’t recognise. It shuffled across to Albus, holding it’s leg out. Albus took the letter, stroking the bird and letting it take a few bites of the crust of his sandwich – Scorpius wondered at which point they both started eating sandwiches without the crust. The bird flew off as Albus opened the letter.
“It’s from dad,” he spoke, eyes skimming the words quickly. “He said Delphi and Lucius have been sentenced to Azkaban.”
“But dad said I may have needed to go to the trial,” Scorpius spoke, a little confused.
“They didn’t need you; they had all the evidence they needed finding you there with your injuries, and they watched what she did to me. They’ve been put away, Scorpius! You’re safe.”
He should have felt safer than he did. They were gone and were never going to hurt him again. But he couldn’t let himself fully relax. Not just yet. There were others – he knew that. He could never fully feel safe as long as there were still people out there trying to ‘bring back eternal darkness’. Still, he smiled at Albus. That was the expected reaction, and he’d promised himself he wouldn’t hurt Albus anymore.
“I think I’m gonna go for a quick nap before Herbology,” Albus said, finished with his food. Scorpius was about to argue that they should use their free period to catch up on work, but found himself feeling rather weary as well. “You coming?”
Scorpius nodded, finishing off his tea. Lily waved them goodbye, moaning about them being lucky that they have a free period whilst she’s stuck going to Divination. Albus and Scorpius walked hand in hand to the Slytherin dormitories. Once there, Albus shrugged off his robes and kicked off his shoes, collapsing onto his bed. He shuffled around onto his back and held his arms out, making grabbing motions with his hands.
Scorpius laughed, kicking his own shoes off and placing his wand from his trouser pocket on Albus’ bedside table. Then he climbed onto the bed and snuggled himself up in Albus’ chest.
“Do you remember that song I used to play on guitar?” Scorpius asked, shuffling slightly and wrapping his arms around him.
“The one your mum used to sing to you?” He nodded. “I remember.”
“Can you sing it to me?”
Albus chuckled, kissing the crown of his head. He then broke into a soft song, one Scorpius’ mother sung whenever he had a bad dream as a child. Scorpius sometimes sang it to Albus after their fourth-year, when he would have bad days. It was a simple song. It didn’t stop the thunder storms and it didn’t create rainbows, it didn’t stop their hearts from breaking. But it was a song that they both loved, a song held dear to their hearts.
Scorpius joined in a couple of lines in and Albus faded out, drifting off into a gentle sleep. He closed his own eyes, humming softly and waiting for the sweet release of sleep.
It would take a while for Scorpius to feel alright again. For him to go back to the carefree young lad he once was – if that was even possible. But for now, he had Albus. One boy who was his soul protector, shielding him with every ounce of his being. Without Albus, Scorpius would have died down there in the cold dungeon of Rowle Manor and maybe never would have been found. But because of the boy he loved, he was found. He could never thank him enough for that.
So, he would work towards a full recovery and thank his lucky stars for the person who sent him his army of angels.