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Army of Angels

Chapter Text

This world's a war zone

And I've got a shield

And I won't surrender

'Cause your love feels like an army of angels

[The Script, 'Army of Angels']

 

#

 

“Scorpius,” his father said, voice slightly panicked hidden beneath his cool exterior. “You have to go.”

Scorpius blinked away the tears forming so he could stare properly at the blank piece of parchment with only one word written across the top: Albus. He’d been trying to write the letter for forty-five minutes and so far nothing has come of it. What was he even supposed to say? How could he tell his best friend – the boy he’d loved for seven years – that he wasn’t returning to Hogwarts to complete their seventh year? Scorpius sniffed as the tears welled in his eyes again.

“Scorpius,” his father barked. Scorpius jumped.

“I don’t want to go,” he mumbled, not for the first time. He rarely argued with his dad, but this had been one of the biggest.

 

“I’ll be safe at Hogwarts!” Scorpius shouted, flailing his arms like a stubborn child.

“Nowhere is safe for you, anymore. Not even Hogwarts. Scorpius," his dad placed a hand on his shoulder and looked at him with water in his eyes, "if they find you, there’s nothing I can do.”

“So, you’re just shipping me off? Forcing me into hiding and leaving me there? What good is that? I won’t go, I refuse to go. I can't leave you! I can’t leave him.”

“Will you forget about your silly little crush for one bloody moment and focus on yourself. They’ll kill you, son.”

“Let them.”

“Scorpius.”

“Draco.”

“Don’t pull that tone with me. Go and get some stuff packed, write to Albus if you must, but your portkey leaves in sixty minutes.”

 

Scorpius spent 10 of those minutes throwing his belongings around his room in a strop before hastily picking them up and packing enough to fit into a backpack. Pack light, his father had told him. He tried, at least. The next forty-minutes were spent staring at the parchment wondering exactly how he was going to tell his best – and only – friend that he’d probably never see him again.

When the threat on his life surfaced a few weeks ago, Scorpius assumed his dad would ignore it like he had for the other seventeen years of his life. But somehow, Draco had convinced himself that this one was real. There were things he was hiding from Scorpius, the truths about what was about to come.

“Scorpius, don’t make me ask you again.”

“I’m trying!” He shouted, resisting the urge to throw himself out of the chair and onto the floor in a childlike tantrum. It’s what he wanted to do. It’s what would have given him what he wanted when he was a child. But, he wasn’t a child anymore. Little tricks like that would no longer work.

“Three minutes,” his father reminded. If Scorpius listened closely enough, he could hear the pain in his voice. The pain he was feeling sending away his only son. Then, he started making his way over. Hastily, Scorpius jotted down the only thing he could think of. The letter was short, and maybe slightly panicky. He tried to not make Albus worry, but he knew Albus. Albus would worry no matter what; Scorpius not returning to school was enough to make him worry in the first place.

His father spoke another warning, so Scorpius folded the parchment, placed it inside an envelope and messily jotted Albus’ address down (another thing that would make Albus worry was Scorpius’ less-than perfect handwriting). He held his arm out for his owl to hop onto and gave her the letter and a quick goodbye stroke; he’d probably never see her again. After another verbal warning from his father, he opened the window, watching her fly off into the clouds.

That was when he dad seized his arm and started dragging him downstairs. Scorpius just about managed to pick up his bag.

“Dad, please, dad don’t make me go. Can’t we face this together, why do I have to run?”

“I’m trying to protect you,” he murmured, coming to a halt in the hallway. He grabbed Scorpius’ Slytherin scarf off the coat rack and wrapped it around his neck – that was the portkey that was taking Scorpius Merlin knows where. He didn’t even know when he’d see his dad again, and he didn’t want to leave on bad terms.

“I’ll be okay, won’t I?” Scorpius asked, the weight of the situation finally hitting him.

Draco opened his mouth but quickly closed it again, reconsidering his words. Then he firmly nodded and said, “I love you, son.”

Scorpius never got the chance to reply, because he was ripped away by the portkey.

 

#

 

Albus,

I don’t know where I’ll be when you get this, and even if I did know I couldn’t tell you anyway. I’m not coming back to school. It’s a long story and one I can’t disclose. Just know I’m alive and safe. I’m so sorry, Albus. I hate that I can’t see you right now. A lot has happened, and I could really do with an Albus hug.

One more thing and I’m sorry for the awfully timed confession but I don’t know when I’ll next see you. I love you, Albus. I’m in love with you. I have been since 4th year when you snorted pumpkin juice all over Polly Chapman’s shoes during Gobstones club. I’m sorry, truly.

Scorpius.

 

Chapter Text

There had always been one consistency in Albus’ life. One person, one heart, one brain, there from the day he stumbled upon Scorpius Malfoy’s compartment on September 1st, 2017. Scorpius has been there every day, whether in person or in letters. Through the sorting, the bullies, arguments with his dad, his fluctuating mental health. Everything. There wasn’t a day since Albus was eleven that he’s been without his best friend.

Until now.

Six years. Six years Scorpius Malfoy has been by his side. Now, the day before their seventh anniversary of their meeting and their seventh year at Hogwarts, Scorpius wasn’t returning to school. Scorpius wasn’t his constant.

Albus read over the beginning of the letter again, ignoring the ending just for now – that was a whole other story.

I don’t know where I’ll be when you get this, and even if I did know I couldn’t tell you anyway. I’m not coming back to school. It’s a long story and one I can’t disclose. Just know I’m alive and safe. I’m so sorry, Albus. I hate that I can’t see you right now. A lot has happened, and I could really do with an Albus hug.

There wasn’t anything necessarily alarming about it. But something was wrong. Albus knew it. Scorpius doesn’t just disappear for no reason. Scorpius doesn’t hide anything from him. And Scorpius – the person who hates nearly all kind of physical contact (apart from occasionally from Albus) - was requesting a hug. Yes, something was wrong.

Then there was the impromptu declaration of love. Love. Scorpius Malfoy was in love with him. Since fourth year. And Albus had loved him since fourth year. And they’ve been dancing around each other for this long. For nearly two years. The fact that Scorpius hadn’t told him until now means something may be threatening his life. Albus couldn’t think of anything else.

Scorpius was in danger.

His best friend. The love of his life. Was in danger.

Just to make sure he wasn’t being overdramatic, Albus read the letter once more.

The panic had been there since that morning when the owl arrived – they were heading to Hogwarts tomorrow, Scorpius wouldn’t write that late in case it never reached him. Upon finishing the letter for the twelfth time, Albus scrambled from his desk chair and out the room, leaving behind his half-packed suitcase.

He all but flew down the stairs. “DAD! MUM?” He called. He could hear the panic in his voice, like his rapidly beating heart was coming up through his throat.

“Shush, Al!” James called from the living room. Albus whacked him on the head as he ran through and into the kitchen.

“Mum! Where’s dad?” He asked. Ginny was sat at the table writing her latest article for The Daily Prophet. She always took the day before Hogwarts off school, so she could help her kids pack. As did Harry.

“Garden, what’s up honey?” She looked up at him. She clearly saw his panic in a second and got up rapidly out her chair. She embraced him quickly and all the emotions he had been holding in came pouring out. He hugged his mum tightly, gently sobbing in her arms because even if Scorpius wasn’t in danger, he’d still have to face Hogwarts without him.

He’d still have to face the bullies, the teases, the taunts, all without his right arm. Because Scorpius was exactly that – his right arm. A part of him. The best part of him. His better half. And if he was in danger, then what did that mean? Would he ever see him again? Would the next time he hear about him be in The Daily Prophet with a giant headline: Scorpius Malfoy found dead.

Another large sob erupted from him at that thought. Scorpius could not be dead. Albus would not let him be dead.

“Honey, what’s wrong?” His mum said, pulling out of the embrace and cupping his cheeks, wiping the tears away. A part of him wished he’d never grown taller than her, because he so desperately wanted to curl into her lap and cry like he did when he was a child. He finished his sobbing, wiping the rest of his tears away, before answering.

His breathing was still slightly fractured when he spoke, “something’s wrong. Scorpius – I – he – I don’t know. But there’s something wrong.”

“What’s Al crying about?” James said, strolling into the kitchen. Albus sent him a pair of his best daggers in response.

“James, go upstairs,” his mum said.

“Why?”

“Because I said so. Go.”

“Ugh, fine.”

“Why isn’t he at work?” Albus asked.

Ginny shrugged. “He thinks because me and dad booked it off, he should too. It’s James, we didn’t question it.” She rubbed his shoulder and squeezed it. “So, Scorpius?”

Albus went to hand over the letter, then remembered his little confession on the bottom of the page. He didn’t want his parents to see that… that was outing Scorpius. And maybe, by extension, outing himself too. That wasn’t fair.

“He sent me a letter. He’s not coming back to Hogwarts and – and – and – something else is wrong. I don’t know what but it’s not like him, mum, and I’m scared, and I need to speak to him and make sure he’s okay-”

“MUUUUM!” Lily’s shout cut off Albus’ ramble and growing anxiety. “I NEED HELP PACKING!”

“ASK JAMES!” Ginny shouted back, leading Albus over to the table and sitting him down.

“REALLY, MUM?” James replied.

“JAMES.”

“FINE.”

“Why is everyone shouting?” Harry said, opening the back door and shaking his boots off before stepping into the kitchen. He looked quickly at Albus, not really registering his youngest son was there – as bloody usual – and directing the question at Ginny.

“It’s nothing. Al, you wanted to speak to us both?” Ginny sat next to Albus, taking his hand.

Harry, finally looking at him, raised his eyebrows. “What’s up, little snake?” Albus huffed out a breath at the insult. It was supposed to be a term of endearment, but Albus really just found it insulting. He always called Lily his “little lion” with a fond voice, but the word ‘snake’ just never sat right on his tongue. Albus brushed it off for now.

“Scorpius is in danger,” he spoke, nowhere near as confident in front of his dad as he was in front of his mum.

“That’s a big – er – accusation there, kid.”

“It’s the truth. I need to go to Malfoy Manor. I need to check if he’s okay. That’s if he’s even still there.”

“Why wouldn’t he be there?” Ginny asked.

“And what makes you think this? Are you sure you’re not just being over-dramatic, Al?”

Albus stood up, anger flaring through him. They should just believe him. They’d believe James or Lily if it was one of their friends. But no. This was because it was Albus, and Albus’ friend. Because it was Scorpius Malfoy. Scorpius may have been everything to Albus, but he was nothing to the rest of the world.

“I’m NOT! Read this!” He said, pulling the letter out. It was his only option. He muttered a silent apology to Scorpius as Harry snatched it from him. His heart pounded against his ribcage as his father read the letter.

Harry was silent for a long time. So long that Albus was worried he was dwelling way too much on the last paragraph and not the real problem. The fact that his best friend was disappearing off the face of the Earth.

Harry finally sighed, pulling his glasses off to rub his eyes with one hand and putting them back on. When he spoke, Albus could hear the boredom in his tone. “This means nothing. He’s not returning to school, big deal.”

“Scorpius loves school and-”

“Albus, enough. I’m sure he’s fine.”

“Dad – I – ”

“Albus, what did I just say?”

“YOU NEVER LISTEN TO ME!” Albus screamed, unsure of where the anger soared from. Arguments with his dad were common. In fact, they’d hardly had any conversations at all that didn’t turn into a screaming match between them. “He’s in danger. Can’t you at least talk to Draco? Or do something at work? Scorpius loves school, he wouldn’t just not come back one day!”

“And you never listen to me! I’m sure Scorpius is fine. And besides, it’s not the end of the world if-”

“If what?” Albus scorned with a scarily cool anger. Fire burned in his eyes, daring his dad to say something – anything – bad about his best friend or his family.

“Scorpius is a Malfoy. The world could do with less of them.”

It took all of Albus’ strength not to launch himself at his dad in that moment. Every ounce of him was desperate for a fight, his magic swirling through his veins ready to attack. He could do it. He could withdraw his wand and hex his dad. He was old enough. But he’d be disowned, most probably. Instead, he took a step back.

“You’re a fucking hypocrite,” Albus scolded. “You preach unity and peace, you place yourself on a pedestal as though you’re the most innocent person in the world. You’re not. Scorpius Malfoy is. That boy is sweet and kind, he’s twice the person you are and deserves so much better than you’ve given him. Fuck you, dad. I’ll do it on my own.”

Albus held his hand out for the letter which Harry handed back reluctantly. He then sent a brief smile to his mum – a silent thank you – and left the kitchen. It was no surprise to find James and Lily on the stairs listening in on the conversation. Albus stormed past them and into his room, ignoring their protests.

Inside his room, Albus picked up a backpack and started shoving in a few essentials. A couple of changes of clothes, a bottle of water, some muggle and wizarding money. He shrunk his broom down and put in there as well, they he hated flying - that would be a last resort. It was the end of summer, so Albus put a hoody on and checked his wand was tucked safely inside the pocket of his jeans. Finally, he opened his drawer and pulled out Scorpius’ letters he’d wrote to him over years and put them in his bag.

Just as he was about to leave his room, he caught sight of a grey gemstone on his desk. A necklace. Scorpius had given it to him in their fourth year. Scorpius had a matching one – a green gemstone. He’d picked them up from Hogsmeade one weekend when Albus was too sick to go down. The gemstones were carved from the same stone, then later coloured differently. Albus picked the grey one because it reminded him of Scorpius’ eyes.

They weren’t just normal necklaces though. Scorpius – the brilliant wizard he was – had invented a spell which charmed the two necklaces, so it would pick up on the heartbeat of the wearer and send it to its twin necklace. Scorpius never took his off, but Albus had that morning for his shower and forgotten to put it back on. He quickly picked it up and slipped it over his head, pressing his fingers to the gem and breathing slightly when he was overwhelmed with the gentle beat of Scorpius’ heart.

He was alive.

At least Albus would always know that.

Scorpius had the idea for whenever they were overwhelmed with anxiety. It allowed them to reach out to the other and let them know they were okay and alive. Some people called them co-dependent. It’s not their fault. They’d been through a lot.

In their fourth year, a terrible tragedy happened. A sixth-year in their house stood on top of the Astronomy Tower and threatened to take his own life. Albus and Scorpius found Craig Bowker Junior when they were sneaking up there for a night of watching the stars. He was crying rapidly, his chest rising and falling heavily with his sobs. Scorpius tried to talk him down. He was good at that sort of thing – talking. But Craig wouldn’t listen.

Half an hour later, after a useless amount of talking, Craig jumped from the top of Astronomy Tower. Albus and Scorpius ran down, Scorpius carried on as Albus ran to get a teacher. When they were reunited, Scorpius was sobbing over the dead body of their fellow Slytherin, surrounded by many students accusing him of pushing him. Albus saved him from the crowd and managed to get him back to the dorm.

Neither of them were ever really the same after that.

And so they grew closer than ever before. Scorpius started getting nightmares of it being Albus who jumped from the tower – especially after Albus was diagnosed with depression a few months later. Albus slept in Scorpius’ bed for months to make sure Scorpius knew he was there whenever he woke up from a nightmare. The anxiety of them being separated for whatever reason grew considerably, so Scorpius made the necklaces. They’ve been better since. And it makes being at home easier.

Albus waited for his pounding heart to calm before opening the door, finding James on the other side.

“Where are you going?”

“Nowhere.”

“Can I come?”

“Absolutely not.” Albus tried to push past him, but James stopped him.

“I’m not letting you go on your own. Besides, if he is in danger, I want to make sure he’s okay too. I like him, Al. He makes you happy.”

Albus huffed. “I don’t need your help, James.”

“Well, I’m coming.”

“James.”

“Albus.”

They held eye contact, Albus’ fierce daggers against James’ baby brown ones. He may be nearly twenty, but he still looked twelve sometimes. James raised his eyebrows, concern written all over his face. And he was right, James wouldn’t let him go on his own anyway. Albus softened, dropping his stance.

“Fine.”

James held up a backpack. “Let’s go.”

The two boys snuck downstairs. It was fairly easy, seeing as Harry and Ginny were arguing in the kitchen over what they always argued over – Albus. Albus rolled his eyes, opening the front door slowly and stepping out into the fresh air. It was a warm day, barely a cloud in the sky. It was sunny and happy, and Albus couldn’t help but wonder if the sun was playing some sort of trick on him – it should be miserable. Everything else was.

James closed the door behind him silently. They walked to the end of the drive and slightly down the road, out of the wards of the house.

“Where to?” James asked, grabbing Albus’ arm.

“Malfoy Manor. We should see if he’s there, and if not then maybe try and talk to Draco or… Merlin forbid, Narcissa or Lucius.” Albus shuddered at the idea of Scorpius’ grandparents. He’d met them once, a couple of years ago at Scorpius’ mothers funeral, and he desperately wished he’d never have to come into contact with them again.

“I’ll do it, long distances can be tricky when you’re new,” James said. Albus tried not to be offended. James had a point. Besides, Albus was lousy at apparition; he’d barely gotten his license.

“Sure.” There was a weight on his other arm, but Albus never got chance to question it before they disappeared with a pop. When they reappeared outside Malfoy Manor, Albus shook off the weight on his arm and backed up, scrambling for his wand and pointing it in that particular direction.

“Albus?”

“Something touched me,” he explained, waving his wand frantically. A giggle erupted from where Albus had previously been standing. A giggle he knew all too well.

“Lily Luna Potter, what the bloody hell are you doing?” James said, clearly catching on too.

Lily appeared out from the invisibility cloak with a wide grin on her face. “I wanted to help, too. Scorpius is the only person who can do my hair in good French plaits.” It was more than that. Scorpius and Lily were really close in their friendship. He tutored her in both potions and herbology when she began struggling her third year. He also hexed her ex-boyfriend last year when he cheated on her with her best friend. Scorpius loved Lily like a little sister, and Lily always referred to him as “the brother she never had,” much to Albus’ and James’ dismay.

“There’s no way we’re getting you to go home, is there?”

“None at all.”

“Fine.” Albus said, looking at James who also nodded. James took his invisibility cloak off her and shoved it in his backpack. Albus grabbed her hand – which she happily held without protest – and together, the Potter siblings made their way up the drive of Malfoy Manor.

Chapter Text

The feet of a thousand elephants pounded through his head: thump, thump, thump, thump. Over and over like a stampede running rampage through a deserted landscape. He slowly opened his eyes, only to be met with a distinct darkness surrounding him. He took a deep breath through the pain, reaching his hand up to his head and wincing. He’d found the source of his headache – an open gash on the back of his head.

Scorpius tried to ignore the pounding and instead swallow his panic to look for his wand. Where was he? He was supposed to be at a safe house. This certainly didn’t feel like a safe house.

He came up empty on his wand. He knew he’d left with it, it was in his pocket where he always kept it. He blindly searched around the dark room, his eyes only adjusting slightly to the unnecessary blackness. He came up empty. No wand. Not even his bag. Nothing.

He was completely alone.

Finally relenting to the panic soaring through his veins, his beating heart now matching the pounding in his head, Scorpius blindly stood and frantically searched the room for a door. All rooms have doors. There must be one somewhere.

 

#

 

“Is Draco nice? He always scared me a little,” Lily said as they approached the front door of Malfoy Manor. Albus would love to say that Draco was a lovely person, but he was a little scared of him himself. Not because he was scary per se, but more because he was intimidating. Draco loved Scorpius more than anything, there was a fierceness to it, and if Scorpius was in danger, then Albus would hate to see the state his father would be in.

Albus squeezed her hand. “I’ve only met him a couple of times,” he said, pathetically avoiding the question. Lily shot him a look. “Fine, he’s… intense.”

James smirked, “way to help calm us, Al.”

“Hey, I’m probably more scared than any of you. That’s my best friend’s dad who is potentially dealing with a… with a… m-missing…” Albus trailed off, the lump in his throat making it difficult to speak.

“He’ll be okay, Albus,” James assured, sending his younger brother a small smile. “Scorpius is the bravest person I’ve ever met.”

It was true. Scorpius was incredibly brave. He faced everyday with a smile on his face even when he wanted to cry. That’s the beauty of his bravery. And his smile was captivating. A bright, enchanting view, especially when combined with a laugh that was like music. His best friend was beautiful. That smile never failed to light up his eyes, a spark appearing inside grey orbs. No, not grey. Grey was a too dull adjective to describe such a twinkle. Silver, but even that never did them justice. Alive; that’s better. They were alive, swirls of smoke mixing with the soft flow of the ocean blue toward the centre, always full of happiness. Always full of light.

His heart dropped: what if he never got to see those eyes again?

He barely heard James knock the large, brooding door using the golden metal knocker. He never heard the door open either, so when someone that wasn’t his siblings said his name, it made Albus jump.

“Albus?” Draco said, his voice surprisingly small.

“Mr. Malfoy – Draco, sir – er, hi,” he finished, lamely.

Draco seemed to recover from his previous surprise and drawled, “three mini Potters show up on my doorstep, to what do I owe the pleasure?”

Albus somehow managed to find his voice properly. “I’m worried about Scorpius, sir. Is he here?

Draco faltered in his façade. “Scorpius? No. He’s not.” Draco went to slam the door, but Albus stepped forward quickly, stopping it with his shoulder.

“Mr. Malfoy, please. If he’s not here then where is he?” Albus begged, pushing his shoulder against Draco’s force on the other side. “I’m worried he’s in danger. Tell me he’s safe.”

“He’s…” Draco stopped pushing on the door, opening it instead causing Albus to stumble in and fall over. James and Lily took that as an invitation to enter as well. James held Lily’s hand whilst she looked at the grand entrance in awe. Lily had a strange obsession with old and large houses.

Draco disappeared into the kitchen, gesturing vaguely for them all the follow. Albus did, hearing James whisper, “don’t touch anything,” to Lily before dragging her after them. Albus was beginning to get frustrated at Draco for not cutting to the chase. The longer he kept him waiting, the more worried about Scorpius he became.

In the kitchen, Draco had put the kettle on. Albus clenched his fists, trying to keep himself calm. “Mr. Malfoy?”

“Do your parents know you’re here?” He asked, fumbling in the cupboards.

“Mr. Malfoy?” Albus said again, louder.

“They’ll be worried you kn-”

“Mr. Malfoy. With all due respect, can you please tell me where the fuck Scorpius is?” James appeared next to Albus, placing a hand on his shoulder in an attempt to calm him.

Draco paused, looking anywhere but Albus. “I don’t know. That’s the truth.”

“You… you don’t know?”

If Draco didn’t know, then that couldn’t be good. Draco Malfoy was a lot of things, but he was a dad before anything. Albus had never seen anyone love their son as fiercely as Draco loved Scorpius. All he ever wanted was for him to be happy, even if he struggled to show that sometimes. So then where the hell was Scorpius? And why didn’t Draco know where he was?

“It’s complicated,” Draco sighed.

“How complicated?”

“I can’t tell you.”

“BULLSHIT!” Albus screamed, finally losing his budding temper. “He is my best friend, I deserve to know what’s going on? How can you and my parents and everyone just expect me to go back to school, expect me to believe that everything is okay when I know he’s not. How am I supposed to live a normal life when my best friend – the boy that I… that I…” he looked to James and Lily, deciding to swallow his pride. “… that I love. The boy that I love with every ounce of my being… is missing. If you don’t know where he is, then he’s missing. I can’t just pretend that everything is okay.”

Silence rang throughout the manor, suffocating them all. Albus fiddled with his fingers, looking at Lily and only Lily. Her face was one of sorrow and love, pure sympathy for her older brother who was clearly hurting. Albus was slightly worried for James’ reaction, until James squeezed his shoulder and sent him a reassuring smile and Albus knew his siblings would always be there for him.

Draco was looking at a picture frame on the kitchen table, tears welling in his eyes. “You didn’t hear this from me, but Scorpius’ life has been threatened. There’s talk of a rise of Death Eaters attempting to bring back Voldemort’s legacy. They either want Scorpius on their side or not at all. He’s gone into hiding under the protection of some people I know, but I wasn’t allowed to know where in case they questioned me.”

Albus took a moment to take all this information in. Death Eaters, coming back, wanting Scorpius, Voldemort’s legacy. All of it was too damn much. Scorpius could be in a lot of danger and he wasn’t there to protect him. That was something he vowed to do all the time.

When they were eleven and starting school for the first time, he and Scorpius met on the train after Scorpius stumbled into his compartment sporting a bruising eye and a bloody nose. He begged Albus to help him, to hide him before they found him again. Albus didn’t even hesitate to help. He threw his school cloak over Scorpius – who was only a tiny boy at the time – and had him sit on the compartment seat as though he was a bundle of Albus’ bags. Albus pretended to read whilst the boys who had assaulted him ran past, only briefly checking the compartment.

Following that, Albus locked the compartment door and closed the curtain. Scorpius thanked him softly, apologising for getting blood from his nose everywhere. Albus told him it was fine and dug deep for some tissues his mum had packed in his backpack. He helped clean Scorpius up the best he could and once the adrenaline settled and Scorpius burst into tears, Albus just held him until he stopped.

They’d been inseparable ever since. They were sorted into Slytherin together and had shared a dorm since that very first night. They were both bullied, but Scorpius seemed to get the brunt of the taunts. Albus became his bodyguard of sorts, protecting him in the best way he could. He’d promised him one morning in their third year after a group of students had locked him in a broom cupboard for the evening and took his wand. He was found by the Slytherin Quidditch captain before they all started training and trudged back up to the dorm, hungry, exhausted and on the verge of a breakdown.

“Scorpius?” Albus said as he entered the dorm, clothing slightly torn and damp. “Where have you been, I’ve been worried sick!” He continued, running over to him and checking him over. There were a couple of cuts across his lip and cheek, arms scratched like he’d been struggling. Albus assumed he was in the library and fell asleep before he came back, but when he woke in the middle of the night and Scorpius hadn’t returned, the worry truly settled in.

“I- I’m done, Albus,” he whimpered, clearly talking around the lump in his throat. “They win. I’m done.” He pulled off his robe and dumped it by his bed – a sure sign that he was exasperated, he always folded his clothes.

“What happened?” Albus said, following him over to his bed. It was a Saturday, so there were no classes, though the two were supposed to be hitting up Hogsmeade for the first time. Scorpius stripped off the rest of his clothes and changed into pyjamas before crawling underneath the covers.

“Fifth-years, Gryffindors,” he murmured. “They cornered me and forced me out to the Quidditch grounds. Then they -” he took a deep breath, “they h-hit me whilst one of them held me back, kept drenching me with the Augamenti spell and then they stole my wand and locked me in the broom cupboard.” Another sob broke out before he buried his head in his pillow. “I want my mum,” he whimpered.

That was the worst thing that could have left his mouth, because his mum had died that summer.

Albus, unsure on how else to help, just simply climbed into his bed and hugged him tight, whispering over and over that he’ll never let anyone hurt him again. That wasn’t particularly strange for them, they’d always had a closer-than-normal friendship. Scorpius cried until he fell asleep, and Albus stayed the entire time, just making sure he was okay and safe.

“What could they possibly want with Scorpius?” James asked, bringing Albus from his reverie. It’s a good job he brought James along, he would ask the important questions.

“He’s powerful,” Albus answered for Draco.

“Powerful?” Lily asked.

“He’s the best wizard in the school. He was doing wandless magic our fifth-year. He’s top of his class in every subject and he has ties to dark wizards whether he likes it or not. If I was raising an army of Death Eaters, I’d want Scorpius on my side too,” Albus explained, whilst Draco nodded along.

James seemed to agree too. “Not to mention his close ties to you, Albus.” Albus sent him a confused look. “Being a Potter and all.” Albus nodded in realisation.

Lily stepped forward, “so Scorpius could be in real danger?” There was a quiver in her voice that told Albus she really cared for him. Albus already knew his siblings liked him, but he never thought they cared for him.

“Who’s they?” James asked, once again asking the important questions. There was a reason he followed in their dad’s footsteps as an Auror.

Draco shrugged. “Could be any former Death Eater or ally. My best guess is the Carrows, maybe the Rowles, but it’s all very uncertain.”

“Mum has horror stories about the Carrows,” Lily said.

“As does uncle Neville,” Albus recalled, remembering the one evening his Godfather babysat them when they were younger and begged for a horror story. It was later revealed that horror ‘story’ was more than a piece of fiction.

Draco began shooing them all out of the kitchen. “Anyway, you must go. Scorpius, I’m sure, is completely safe where he is.”

“Wait, wait, wait, Draco?” Albus said as he was ushered away. “Aren’t you going to help?”

“No, and I suggest you all go home. Intruding in this could get you all killed, or worse, it could get my son killed.”

With that, Draco promptly shut the door on them.

Lily slumped on the doorstep, defeatedly huffing and putting her chin in her hands. “Now what?”

“We need to get out of here,” James said, grabbing both their hands and pulling them down the driveway and out of the grounds. Once out, he apparated them to Diagon Alley. Albus resisted the urge to make a sarcastic comment along the lines of ‘great choice, James, they definitely won’t find us here,’ when James took them through the Leaky Cauldron and out onto the muggle side.

It was starting to get a little dark and Lily kept moaning about being hungry as they walked side by side, never letting go of each other’s hands. James said they’d find a takeaway and a cheap place to stay for the night. The problem is they were in London and that wasn’t usually cheap.

They picked up some food for them at a grungy-looking takeaway and then James was leading them down some backstreets to get out of the busier side of London. Albus assumed he knew where he was going and was proved correct when he stopped outside a flat.

“James?” Albus asked, looking it up and down. “This isn’t a hotel.”

“It’s better, and we don’t have to pay.” James pressed a button on the side and two seconds later, the door opened with a buzz. James let Lily and Albus in first, gesturing to the grimy staircase. It didn’t look like a place anyone should really live, but Albus trusted James.

Three floors later, they came to a stop outside one of the apartments and James knocked on the door. There was a while before the door opened, in which Lily opened the takeaway bag and started eating some of the chips before Albus swatted at her hand.

“Teddy!” James exclaimed when the door swung open, engulfing their godbrother in a hug. Lily squealed and hugged him next, however, Albus directed his daggers at James.

“You brought us to Teddy’s?” Albus deadpanned. James rolled his eyes, grabbing his brother and pulling him inside.

“Relax, Al,” Teddy said, “I won’t tell Harry where you are.”

“Isn’t this your old place, Ted?” Lily asked, sitting on the sofa and pulling her food out the bag. James joined her, clearly starving too. Albus, even though he wanted to stand his ground, caved when the smell of takeaway flooded his nostrils. He had to eat too.

“Yeah, my friend lives here now but she’s away so I’m looking after the place until she’s back. Vic’s not happy, but we both needed a little space.”

“Trouble in paradise?” James asked, smirking slightly.

“We’re fine, Jamie.” Teddy looked at Albus and frowned. “So, what’s going on? You look like you’ve seen a ghost, Al.”

“A ghost would be so much easier to explain,” he muttered, reaching for his drink.

“What was that?”

“Nothing. I can’t explain right now.”

“Should I be worried?” The three Potter’s exchanged a glance. Teddy caught on before any of them could respond. “I guess that’s a yes, then.”

It was Lily who decided to explain, finishing her food in record time before diving into a brief run-through of the past few hours. Hours. How has it merely been hours since Albus had received the letter that destroyed his entire world. Hours since the letter that both confessed Scorpius’ love for him and suggested he was in danger at the same time.

Albus, suddenly nauseous, offered the last of his food to Teddy who took it gratefully. He pulled his legs up onto the sofa and wrapped his arms around them. Scorpius would often sit like this. It seemed near impossible with his long limbs, yet he somehow always managed to get himself into the smallest ball. It was rather sad to see such a bright spark fade so quickly. To see someone as brave and kind revert to a sad, lonely boy.

Albus needed a distraction, something to stop his thoughts bordering on dangerous. He would get carried away, picturing Scorpius dead somewhere if he let himself think too much. He placed his hand on his necklace, feeling the gentle thump of Scorpius’ heartbeat vibrate through him, but for the first time ever it didn’t calm him. Just because he was alive, it didn’t mean he was safe.

“Can I shower?” Albus asked, suddenly cutting off the banter between his other siblings.

“Sure, just down the hall.”

Albus dived up, picking his bag up and practically racing through the hall. Once in the bathroom, he locked the door and turned the shower on, stripping down and getting in as fast as possible. He cranked the dial up to full heat, letting it scold his back and letting the pain take over his dangerous thoughts. He kept his hand on the necklace, feeling Scorpius’ heartbeat against the sear on his back.

When he’d stopped picturing the awful state his best friend could be in, he turned the shower down, cooling his back whilst doing so. The small relief was enough for now, but Albus knew it could get worse. He’d drifted down that path once before and Scorpius was there to pull him back on track… but now he wasn’t.

Albus had to remind himself that Scorpius wasn’t dead – he had a heartbeat to prove it – and that heartbeat had to be his anchor. He couldn’t afford to lose himself before he found Scorpius.

When he returned to the living room, Lily was fast asleep curled up on the armchair. James was still up but Teddy had also gone to bed. James was sat on a blow-up mattress and he gestured to the other sofa for Albus to sleep on, which had been set up with pillows and a couple of blankets.

“Are you okay, Albus?” James asked. “For real?”

Albus didn’t want to lie to his brother. He was so good to him when Albus first spiralled down a path of darkness and depression. “No,” he admitted. “Not really. But, let’s find Scorpius and then we can worry about me.”

James slightly smiled. “Be brave, little brother,” was all he said, flicking the flights off with his wand once Albus was settled.

He didn’t sleep. He knew he should, and maybe he caught a few hours, but mostly his thoughts were clouded with his best friend and the knowledge he was in danger. They had to find him. Scorpius’ life depended on it.

 

Chapter Text

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.

Alive.

Alive.

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.”

“He’s not.”

“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.”

“Recruit me?”

“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.”

 

Chapter Text

“Yesterday, it was reported that the three Potter siblings – James, Albus and Lily – disappeared from their home in the mid-afternoon the previous day. There have been no sightings since and it’s fair to say the entire Wizarding world is holding their breath for their safe return. Harry Potter, father of three young Wizards and Head of Magical Law Enforcement, has something to say.

“We are waiting anxiously for every sighting or any slight bit of news about the kids,” Harry said on the little radio in their hotel room, James had charmed it for the Wizarding channels. “Both Ginny and I are doing everything we can, and we have sent Aurors out looking as well. Please, if you have our children, please send them back to us. We miss them deeply.”

“They think we’ve been kidnapped?” Albus asked in disbelief as Harry’s voice faded and the presenter continued with another story.

“It’s probably the only answer they’re willing to accept. Plus, what would the media say if all three of Harry Potter’s kids ran away, they’d have a field day,” James said, turning it down slightly.

Lily sat up, rubbing her eyes. “I couldn’t sleep last night,” she mumbled, deciding to change the subject. Albus guessed it was because she didn’t want him going on a rant about their dad again. “I’m so worried about him and if this whole thing about Death Eaters is true then does Scorpius really stand a chance? What if we don’t get to him in time?”

James – being the great older brother he was – wrapped Lily up in a hug. “Scorpius is a lot stronger than any of us believe him to be, he can carry his own. I know it’s scary, but I believe he can be brave enough until we find him,” James said, and once again, Albus nearly believed him. Lily, it seemed, did too.

She sighed, taking a shaky breath. “He doesn’t deserve it,” she mumbled. She was right. Scorpius was the least deserving person for this to happen to. Scorpius was kind and caring. He never pushed anyone aside and would always help if needed. He’s been ridiculed and taunted his entire life, pushed aside for not being good enough or for being too much like his father. No one ever stopped long enough to see him for who he really is: a kind, bright, intelligence spark.

The problem with sparks is that they often fizzle out.

Scorpius’ did. A long time ago. There was only so long one could pretend to be okay. His spark returned often, and his kindness never left him, but that didn’t take away the sheer sadness that was deep within him. Albus could only hope his spark was lit long enough for him to get out of whatever he was in alive.

“Lily,” Albus said, a fierce need to protect his sibling coming out. “Here,” he took the necklace from around his neck and placed it over Lily’s head. “Touch it.” Lily did. There was a slight look of awe on her face as she looked at Albus through tear-filled eyes. “That’s Scorpius – his heartbeat. It’s slightly fast right now but it’s there. He’s still alive, Lils. He could still get out of this. That’s what I’ve been focusing on.”

Albus leaned over and touched the gemstone over Lily’s hand. He couldn’t feel it, only the wearer could, but the look on Lily’s face showed it was working for her the way it worked for Albus. It helped calm her down, knowing he was safe – or at least alive – and finally having some proof of that. Albus was glad he could provide that for her.

Lily took off the necklace, handing it back to Albus who put it back around his neck. “Let me guess, Scorpius?” She asked.

Albus smiled fondly, “how did you guess?”

She returned the fond smile, but hers had a mixture of pride in it too. “He’s always been brilliant like that.”

“He made them in fourth-year, after the incident with Craig when his anxiety grew worse and I was diagnosed. Around the time we both realised we couldn’t live without each other,” Albus smiled to himself, a small sad smile that wished for his best friend to be there next to him. He fiddled with the necklace, hearing his heartbeat, but it wasn’t enough. Scorpius wasn’t there.

There was a short silence and then James quipped, “and you’ve only now just confessed your love for each other?” All three of them laughed; a sad laugh, one of solidarity. They were all there, together, and missing a boy they all loved in three different ways.

“Scorpius doesn’t even know,” Albus whispered. “He must be so scared, and he confessed his love in that letter probably thinking it’s the last thing he’d do. What if he thinks I hate him? I know I never confessed because I’ve always been too scared to ruin what we had, what if he’s the same? What if dies thinking I hate him and what if-”

“Albus.” James said, sharp enough to cut through his spiral. “Stop. Scorpius isn’t dead. No more what-ifs or maybes. That boy is making it out alive even if it kills me. So, where to next? Pansy?”

“That’s what Dante says,” Albus confirmed.

“Now, I don’t know where she lives, but I know where she works, and it won’t be easy to blend in there. Lily can go under the cloak, but me and you, Al, are going to have to change our appearances.”

“How much?”

“A fair amount. She works in Borgin and Burkes, and we will be recognised in Diagon and Knockturn Alley.”

“Maybe we could get Teddy to get us some appearance changing products from uncle Ron’s shop? And then we could charm our eyes a different colour, you could take off the glasses, I’ll put some on? Change our clothes, too, transfigure them into something better.”

James was nodding along. “I’ll contact Teddy and hopefully he can help us out.”

 

#

 

After meeting Delphi – his so-called cousin – Scorpius was escorted by her to the eerily dark room for Merlin knows how long. He tried to sleep, but the constant anxious energy that flared through him kept him from closing his eyes for longer than twenty minutes. It was a long night – or what he assumed was night. But, when Delphi showed up the next morning with her wand pointed at him and a wicked grin on her face, he wished morning had never come.

He didn’t dare be defiant, and instead listened when she demanded him to stand and follow her. Scorpius’ eyes took some adjusting to with the light and it was a while before he could process where he was. Which didn’t even matter because he had no clue anyway. All he knew was that the halls were long and winding, it was cold where he was staying and there was a faint musky smell that suggested the place hadn’t been used in a long, long time.

They came to a stop inside a study-like room, not majorly big but was once probably filled with books and a desk. Now, however, it was empty save for a stone pensieve in the middle of the room. Scorpius furrowed his brows in confusion, and looked to Delphi, seeing that Lucius was standing just behind her.

“What’s going on?” He asked.

“Did you have time to think about it?” Delphi asked, stealthily avoiding his question.

“I told you,” Scorpius said, “I want no part in any of it. I just want to go home.”

“Scorpius, Scorpius, Scorpius,” Delphi said, her voice leaking disappointment. “That was the wrong answer.” She tapped her wand against his cheek a couple of times before tapping it against her own palm threateningly. He gulped, fear growing throughout his body, terrified of not knowing what’s going to happen next. “I was really hoping I wouldn’t have to persuade you, that you would have seen that this is what the world truly needs.”

“Why would I want that?” He asked, his voice quiet.

“You were born in darkness, from the moment you entered this world you’ve been ridiculed and bullied by the very people who think they own the light! If that’s the light, then surely the dark can’t be much worse.”

“So, what’s your plan? You speak of bringing back eternal darkness, but what does that mean?”

Delphi smiled, drawing her wand along his neck in a cut-throat gesture. “Oh honey, I can’t tell you until I know you’re on board. Is it still a no?”

“Of course it is.”

She scoffed, light and airy and brought her wand to his forehead. Scorpius winced and closed his eyes, ready for an attack of some kind, but nothing came. There was a pulling in his brain, like she was searching for something. When she pulled her wand away he opened his eyes to find a blue light emitting from the end of it: a memory. One of his memories. Delphi walked over to the pensieve and deposited his memory inside, before dragging him back to the circular stone basin and pulling him inside the memory.

He didn’t even have chance to fight against it – fight against her seeing his memories – before he was pulled deep into his own brain. He landed awkwardly on the floor, whereas Delphi seemed to simply float into view. She dragged him up, pulling him to his feet and kept a firm hand on his arm. It was wrapped so tight around him that he was sure it would bruise.

Scorpius looked around, finding himself standing in the Astronomy Tower in Hogwarts. It was a memory, he knew it was, but part of him wanted to run to the Slytherin dorm room to find Albus. He was prevented from doing so, not only by Delphi’s arm but by the sound of Albus’ voice.

“Why are we going up to the Astronomy Tower after curfew again?” Albus said, a hint of amusement in his voice.

Shit. Scorpius knew what this day was. He knew how it ended. He had spent so long trying to forget about it, but here it was, right in front of him. He was going to have to relive the worst day of his life… and Delphi – a girl he clearly could not trust – was also going to witness it.

“Because, Albus, I want to see the stars. I miss them,” memory-Scorpius was saying, but quickly froze when he reached the top of the stairs to see the Astronomy Tower wasn’t empty.

Scorpius spun around as memory-Scorpius pointed, and there, was his worst fear. Craig Bowker Jr was sat on the railing, chest breathing heavily and emitting soft sobs.

“Why are we here?” Scorpius asked Delphi, willing to get out, to run away and not witness it even though he knew he was trapped.

“To show you that you bring darkness everywhere you go. You can’t save anyone, Scorpius. You couldn’t even stop poor little Craig jumping to his death. You probably pushed him over the edge,” she replied, not even bothering to look at him, too intrigued on the scene playing out. His memory-self and Albus had made their way over to Craig. It was strange to watch himself stood there, trembling on the spot. He remembered the day so vividly, yet from this perspective it was so different.

“Craig?” That was Albus, stepping forward. Memory-Scorpius reached out to take Albus’ wrist, a small warning not to approach too fast. Craig was in a much too vulnerable position.

“Get lost,” Craig near-screamed, his voice full of pure sadness.

“Craig,” memory-Scorpius said, now taking a small step forward himself. “Craig, can you please get down?”

“Which way?” He laughed, self-deprecatingly. “I don’t suppose it really matters.”

“It does matter,” memory-Scorpius replied, a fierceness to his tone. “Your life matters, of course it does.”

“To who?”

“Everyone! Your friends, your family. Craig, is whatever you’re going through right now worth ending your life?” Scorpius watched himself let go of Albus and walked slowly towards Craig. Craig had turned around now to look at himself and Albus, eyes bloodshot red and tear marks still staining his cheeks.

“You don’t even care, you don’t even know me,” Craig sobbed.

Albus stepped forward, “we may not know you, but we know what it’s like to not feel wanted. Craig, please, please get down and come over here.”

“You can’t even imagine what happens up here,” he said, pulling one hand off the railing and pointing at his head. Both Scorpius and memory-Scorpius flinched, both ready to jump forward and catch him. Beside him, Delphi laughed at his reaction.

“Get me out of here,” Scorpius begged.

“Sorry Scorpius, but we’re just getting to the good bit,” she giggled.

“Good bit? A boy jumps off the tower. He dies, Delphi.”

“I’m well aware of what happens, I read the papers, that’s not what I’m interested in.”

Behind them, the scene was still unfolding. Scorpius and Albus both begging Craig to get down, begging him not to jump. Memory-Scorpius was in tears and Scorpius remembers the feeling. The feeling of hopelessness, or worthlessness, knowing he wasn’t enough to save his life. Scorpius looked away from the scene, unable to watch it.

Delphi looked at him, rolling her eyes. She turned him around, kicking the back of his knees to make him crash to the floor. “Watch it, Scorpius. Watch what a failure you are,” she muttered in his ear, forcing his head in the direction of Craig. It was the longest few minutes of his life, struggling against her grip. Whenever he closed his eyes, she kneed him harshly in the back.

He was forced to watch that awful event all over again. The event that traumatised both of them. Watching him jump from the top of the Astronomy Tower like his life never even mattered, like he wouldn’t make an imprint on anyone. Little did Craig know that he was so dearly loved. When he jumped, Scorpius closed his eyes, hearing the screams of all three boys but not willing to look, no matter how much Delphi kicked him.

When he opened his eyes again, he was on the floor of the courtyard, looking over Craig’s body and watching himself sob his heart out. It was when others heard the commotion and students started filling out onto the courtyard that things really got bad for Scorpius. Albus had gone to fetch Professor McGonagall, and Scorpius had no idea how the news spread but it had.

A boy – a sixth-year Gryffindor – pulled memory-Scorpius from Craig viciously, throwing him away like he weighed nothing. “Get away from him, Malfoy,” he spat, coming up and kicking him in the stomach. “You probably pushed him like the psycho Death-Eater you are.”

The crowd around him got bigger, people screaming and shouting at him, accusing him of an awful crime he never committed.

“Get me out of here,” Scorpius begged Delphi, tears now streaming down his cheeks.

“Look at you,” she said, her voice distant. “You’re so tiny, so weak. Aren’t you tired of being weak, Scorpius?”

“No.” Delphi looked at him, to realise he wasn’t look at the scene. She seized his chin, harshly turning his face towards the scene.

“Look at you. A failure, pathetic. Everywhere you go, you wreak havoc. You’re a born disaster, destined to bring darkness everywhere you go.”

Delphi gripped his arm, pulling him from the memory and back into real life. He fell to the floor when they landed, still shaking and tears still streaming. That memory was still burned into the back of his mind, and seeing it again meant it was fresh. Scorpius sobbed, over and over, yet he couldn’t calm his beating heart.

“Don’t you see, Scorpius?” Delphi screamed, using her wand to lift his chin. “Don’t you see that this, bringing back eternal darkness, this is what you were born for?”

Scorpius folded his legs up, wrapping his arms around them and shook his head. “I’m not. I’m not!”

“CRUCIO!” The pain was sudden and unexpected, ripping through him like a thousand knives penetrating his body. He screamed, collapsing onto his back and screaming through the pain. It was excruciating and prominent, soaring through every ounce of his body. His lungs burned from screaming, his heart pounding to the point where he thought it would explode, but the pain was the worst.

The pain coursed through him, a lightening bolt igniting his bones, zapping him into a state of pure agony and panic. There were heavy beads of sweat pouring down his forehead, yet his body shook as though he’d been left in the snow overnight. Scorpius struggled to catch his breath through his constant screams, his throat dry and raw.

I’m going to die, he thought.

So, when the pain stopped and the flashes of red from Delphi’s wand disappeared, he felt relief. He wasn’t dead. Not yet. But a small part of him wished he was.

 

Chapter Text

Teddy, it seems, was a very good point of call for  all their disguising needs. He agreed to pick up a hair colour changing potion for the two of them from W easleys Wizard Wheezes  and bring them to a meeting point he and James arranged. James picked them up alone, leaving Lily and Albus back in a grungy hotel room they’d  moved to during the day.  

James was gone for the better half o f  an hour , clearly using the time to catch Teddy up on their situation knowing he’d protect them no matter what. He returned with two WWW potions, a handy new spell he’d learned for  safe eye-colour changing  charm that should last a couple of hours and some old clothes of Teddy’s that should fit them both – though Albus had always been a little on the short side and  had to roll up the jeans and shirt sleeves.  

Even in just the clothes, Albus looked different. They were smarter than what he’d usually wear – which was a hoody and  loose jeans on a good day – and the clothes were slightly uncomfortable. James wore them better, but James always wore clothes better than Albus.  

When James emerged from the bathroom with the two potions, he held them up with a n awkward smile. “Teddy could only get black and blond, and as you have black hair already, I’ll have to take that one.”  

“Blond,” Albus deadpanned. “ Is Teddy playing some cruel trick? I would never suit blond.” Albus snatched the blond potion box from him and opened it up, emptying the contents onto the bed.  

Relax, Al, i t’ s not Scorpius-blond, it’s a little darker. It ’s more of a dirty-blond ,” he patted Albus’ hair , ruffling it up slightly then mumbling something about how he needs to start styling it better. Not that Albus had time for styling his hair when his best friend was missing.  

Together, they drank the potion, and Albus stared in the mirror for a whole five minutes watching as the strands of black slowly transformed into a dark-blond colour . By the time the potion had took full effect, Albus wasn’t even sure he was staring at himself anymore. Sure, he had the same green eyes, the same painted freckles across his tanned cheeks, the  pink lips and same slightly crooked nose from being punched one too many times by his bullies.  

He was still Albus, yet the hair made a drastic difference  to  his appearance.    

Behind him, James grimaced, “you should leave the blond-ness to Scorpius.”  

“Piss off,” Albus said, turning back to him.  James passed him an ageing potion, wish would only add a couple years, but it would make both Albus and James look in their twenties, rather than a  couple of teenagers. Albus took it, watching his features changes slightly as he aged.  “And the eyes?”  

“I was thinking a blue for myself, and a brown for you. It’s your appearance that means the most, considering how much you look like dad,” James stood, his hair now  black as midnight – as Albus’ usually was – and waving his wand.  

Albus scoffed, “don’t remind me.” James shook his head fondly, waving his wand and muttering an incantation on Albus’ eyes. It stung for a split moment, water welling up in his eyes. He’d thought James had done it all wrong, but then when he blinked the water away, James was smiling proudly.    

“Perfect, if I do say so myself. Think you can do mine?” Albus blinked,  looking up at his older brother with a concerned expression.  

“Me? You want me to do it?”  

“Come on, Al, you’re not exactly the Slytherin Squib anymore, are you? I trust you.” Albus was only slightly flattered by the words. James pulled his glasses off as Albus got his wand out, going over the incantation in his head over and over  before verbally casting the spell. James blinked away the water quicker than Albus .  Albus scrunched his face once he’d realised what he’d done. “What?” James asked.  

“Nothing, it’s just… they’re t w o different colours.  You have one blue eye, and one half brown and blue … like that heterochromia thing,” he awkwardly smiled, hoping James wouldn’t be too annoyed that he fudged the spell up. However, when James looked in the mirror behind him, he smiled.  

“Looks kind of cool actually .” He grinned down at Albus, pulling him in for a brief hug.  “Ooh, before I forget, Teddy gave us these too.” James  went back to the bag that Teddy had given him and pulled out  a  box. He opened it revealing two bracelets inside and a pair of earrings. “Teddy went to Draco and asked for something of Lucius’ for us to sell. These are apparently cursed, though I’m not sure in what way. Teddy reckons they  belonged to a man who would gift these to his wife, and they would eventually kill  her,  and he would gain all her possessions.  So, no touching.”   

He swatted Lily’s hand away, smirking at her. She grinned back, feigning innocence  by batting her eyelids.  

“Right, Potters, let’s go!” James said, grabbing the invisibility cloak and throwing it over Lily.  Lily protested  for a while at having to be hidden under the cloak, but neither boy was willing to let their fifteen-year-old sister stay at the hotel alone, and the three of them together was too  risky.  James pocketed the box with the cursed possessions  safely inside his robes  and beckoned them out.  

From where they were staying, it was short walk to the Leaky Cauldron, so they began their walk there. James made Lily keep close and cling onto his  arm,  so he knew she was there.   

“How good are you at accents?”  James a sked Albus, lightly taking his arm  as well as he guided them across the road.  “I can do a decent Scottish, clearly spent too much time around  Millie,” he chuckled. Millie was James’ best friend back when he was in Hogwarts, and the two are still fairly close even now, despite living hours away from each other.  

“I can do a decent Welsh,” Albus said, slipping into the  dialect  fairly easily.  He and Scorpius played a game at school sometimes where they had to see how many different accents they could do. Scorpius, having the strong posh accent that he did, was fairly awful at the game . It was the only thing Scorpius was ever bad at. Albus, however, was fairly decent at many different accents . He tended to pick up on things like that easy – audible things. It’s why he liked Scorpius to read out loud when doing their reading for classes, it was easier for him to remember.  

“Great, you do that then .  

They were pretty much silent on their travels to the Leaky Cauldron . In his head, Albus played over the back ground story they’d come up with. Albus was Lincoln Colbert,  a half-blood wizard from Wales who met James – or rather,  Rhys  Yardley    in their Hogwarts days. Lincoln and Rhys both  specialised in dark artefacts, owning a personal business in which they collected  items and  sold them on.  Sometimes, when they couldn’t find someone to buy their products, they sold them to places like Borgin and Burkes  – which is what they were trying to do now.  

As they made their way through Diagon Alley, Albus couldn’t stop his thoughts from drifting to Scorpius. They would meet here every year about a week before school  to get their school books together. They didn’t have the chance this year as the Potter-Weasley’s decided to drag their children on a family holiday, so Albus had to cancel his meeting. Meaning he hadn’t seen Scorpius since the end of term last year. That could have been the last time.  

No. Stop that, Albus ,  he scolded himself.  

The closer to Knockturn Alley they came, the more nervous Albus grew. Scorpius’ life depended on this moment – on ever y  moment. James made them walk closer , so they were practically tripping over each other’s feet . Knockturn Alley had always been out of bounds for them  due to the reputation it served.  This is where darker and dodgier wizards frequented, not three Potters.  

He couldn’t help but think about Scorpius, about how right now he would be terrified  if he was here , yet still somehow listing off  facts about each of the shops and the frequent flyers of the Alley.  There were very few things Scorpius Malfoy didn’t know  and listing off random facts was Albus’ favourite thing about him.  If Albus ever found  himself  anxious or down, he would ask Scorpius  to tell him something new, and every time he managed to tell Albus a fact he’d never heard before. His best friend,  the  love of his life, truly was brilliant. He was a wonder. He was Albus’ anchor. He was…  

Gone.  

Without so much as a trace.  As though he was nothing more than a speck of dust who was simply brushed aside. Like he didn’t matter. But he does. He matters more than anything in this entire world. He matters to Albus.  So, someone had to know where he was. Someone had to have some kind of information and if Albus had to torture it out of them, then so be it. He was done with not getting answers.  His best friends life was on the line.  

James simply nodded to him when they reached Borgin and Burkes  and upon receiving a nod in return, James opened the door. He let Lily and Albus in first. Albus quickly whispered to Lily not to touch anything – no one knew how any of these objects were possessed. Albus – deciding it was best for James to do the talking – decided to nonchalantly nose around the shop whilst James approached the counter.  

James arrogantly rang the bell, coughing  and rolling his eyes, as though they’d been waiting for a long time. Luckily, Pansy Parkinson came in from the back room, looking just as bored as James. Age hadn’t done her well . Her black hair looked like it hadn’t seen a brush in a while, the bags under her eyes deep  as though she hadn’t slept a wink since the war. The war had been tough on her – as it had been on most  Slytherin’s or those who had been on the wrong side. Even though Pansy never fought, she was never exactly on the right side of the war.  

Albus guessed a job here was the only one she could get.   

“How can I help?” She drawled, clearly displeased with her job.   

“Looking to sell,” James said in a thick, fake Scottish accent. He pulled the box out and settled it on the counter.  In the background the wizarding radio was playing, the news reporter was reciting the latest wizarding news.  Albus joined James at the counter, leaning on it casually.  

Pansy took the box, opening it up and waving her wand over the  contents. At that moment, the news about Albus, James and Lily going missing was being recited. James took it as an opportunity  to spark up a conversation.  

“Shame about those Potter kids, ay?” He said. Pansy looked up for a moment, squinting her eyes at him before smirking slightly.  

“Who cares about the Potter kids?” She mumbled, dropping her wand and closing the box, clearly done with her inspections. “It’s Malfoy I’m worried about .”  

“Scorpius Malfoy?” Albus asked, shocked that  this  is where the conversation led them.  

She glanced at him and nodded. “Despite what people think, he’s a good kid .”  

James took over again. “Any idea what happened to him? Rumour has it there’s a rise in Death Eater activity,” he said, feigning  simple  curio sity.  Albus, pretending he wasn’t all that interested, pushed himself off the counter and began wandering around again.  

He could feel Pansy’s eyes on him as she spoke. “That’s the rumour, and I think they have him if I’m honest.  From what I heard, Draco Malfoy asked Theodore Nott to take Scorpius to a safe house when the rumour sparked to keep him from harm. Well, I haven’t spoken to Nott since school, but he always was a bit of snake. I reckon he betrayed Draco and Scorpius and sold him out, hence why there’s not a trace of the boy anywhere.”  

Albus almost laughed – it was so easy to get people to gossip.  

What would Nott benefit from that?” James asked.  

Pansy shrugged carelessly. “Money probably . Nott will do anything for it, even if it means putting a young boys life on the line.”  

James pushed his luck, “and Nott? Where is he now? Surely if Draco thought he’d betrayed him then the Aurors would be doing some about it?”  

“That would mean the Aurors care. Malfoy’s the son of a Death Eater, they don’t even try to pretend they care what happens with those who associated themselves with Voldemort in the war. As for Draco, he probably doesn’t know. Why are you so interested anyway?”  

James flashed her a small smile, “curious, I guess.”  

Pansy  narrowed her eyes. “Curiosity killed the cat .”  

“But satisfaction brought it back,” James quipped, winking.  Albus tried to see where Lily was in the  sh o p , but he guessed she was standing next to James. Albus turned to  an artefact, almost tempt ed  to touch it but refrained himself.  

“Where’s good to eat ‘round here?” Albus asked, not bothering to turn around and instead moving onto another object. “We don’t often venture  to  this part of London , but I’m starving.  

Pansy squinted again, leaning forward on her elbows on the counter. “Why are you two really here?”  

Albus stopped, turning to face her. “What do you mean?”  

“You both seem far too interested in the Malfoys and Nott ,” she spoke, feigning curiosity herself.  

“Knew him in school is all,” Albus said. “He was  only in his first year back then, but he seemed like a good kid.  

Pansy eyed him for a moment, before nodding. “He was.”  

Was .  Albus’ heart seemed to stop, that one word swirling around his brain. She knew something. Something more than she was telling them.  Was.  What did that mean? Scorpius wasn’t dead, but just to make sure Albus felt for his necklace underneath his robes. Sure enough, there was Scorpius’ heartbeat.  

“There’s a decent pub down the road, known as  The Unicorns Tail , there’s often regulars there,” she paused, jotting down the price for the object that James had brought in. She then  counted the money up, handing it over to him. “You might even find Nott there.”  

Pansy disappeared back into the shop's backroom and Albus’ shoulders drooped. He  let out a breath he didn’t realise he was holding . He stumbled backwards, knocking slightly into a shelf, causing an artefact to fall on the floor. Luckily, James had his wand at the ready and caught the object before it smashed  to pieces over t he floor.  

“Watch it, mate,” James said, still in the Scottish accent just in case  Pansy could hear them.  Albus weakly smiled as James levitated the object back into place. Albus decided to get out the shop, welcoming the fresh air outside. The air seemed to smell faintly of stale smoke, but it was still better than the suffocating air inside.  

Pansy had suggested she knew that Scorpius was going to die.  Albus ran a shaky hand through his now-blond hair, bending down because standing up seemed a little hard on his shaky knees.  There were thousands of thoughts spinning through his mind, from Scorpius to Pansy to Nott. To his older brother and little sister, people he was putting in danger to save his best friend. His best friend who they may not even be able to save.  

Albus stumbled, crashing to his knees from his squatting position , his hands and knees bumping on the  concrete.  Though he didn’t care, he barely felt it. His chest became tight  as his breaths became shorter, despite the fresh air there was no  oxygen  entering his lungs. His mind was a mess of emotions and thoughts.  

Scorpius gone.  

Scorpius dead.  

What if they found him,  but he wasn’t alive? What if they found him and he wasn’t the same? What if they never found him?  

No.   

He couldn’t think like that. He couldn’t live without him, he wouldn’t. He refused to. The world was not worth living in if Scorpius Malfoy wasn’t alive.  Albus dug his palms into the stony concrete, willing the little stones to pierce his skin, if only that could keep him from spiralling.  

Then there were arms around his shoulders and someone calling his  name,  but he  couldn’t hear them, not really. He could barely hear anything over his pounding heart and short, rapid breaths.  There were hands on his cheeks, and he was staring into blue and brown eyes and James’ mouth was moving but he couldn’t hear him.  

“I- I can’t,” Albus choked, his own voice sounding foreign. “I- I need him,”  he collapsed into James. James held him tightly, whispering in his  ear  and stroking his hair.  It was supposed to comfort him, but Albus didn’t want James or Lily. He wanted Scorpius. He wanted his best friend. And what was the point in going on if he’ll never get to him?  

 

#  

 

Scorpius lay in the dark in agony, his bones aching and heart weary, feeling sorry for himself and wanting nothing more than to cry in Albus’ arms. Wanting nothing more than to see his dad. Though, wasn’t he her e  because of his dad? His dad sent him away, and was this his plan? To sign him up to the Death Eaters, to lose what little of his sanity he had left.   

Scorpius felt the necklace around his neck, feeling it beating rapidly. Albus was panicking, worse than he ever had before. They were both prone to anxiety and panic attacks  and knew the perfect remedy to get them to calm down. Albus liked Scorpius to read to him , he says his voice was soothing enough to calm his beating heart.  

Knowing Albus was panicking somewhere and he couldn’t help, Scorpius let out a shaky breath. He curled into a  ball, keeping the necklace pressed firmly in his palm. To himself in the dark, wishing Albus could hear the words, he started reciting his favourite passage from his favourite book  out loud, the words filling the empty, dark room . He’d read it so many times the words were like second  nature to him, and when he knew Albus liked the book too and this was how he could calm him down, the words were burned into his memory.  

He lay, reciting the words to the greatest length he could remember, until Albus’ heartbeat returned to normal.  

And when the door opened, once again, to reveal his grandfather and cousin, Scorpius tried his best not to burst into tears.  

Chapter Text

Al? Albus?” It was Lily’s voice cutting through his haze. She had come from under the cloak and Albus was about to scold when he realised James had taken him into a back alley away from wandering ears – though this was Knockturn Alley, they couldn’t be too careful.  “He’s here, right?” Lily had dug the necklace out from under his robes, now holding it loose around his neck. “Scorpius is here, listen to him,” she instructed.  

Albus did as he was told, wrapping his fist around the silver gemstone and  feeling instantly relaxed when Scorpius’ surprisingly steady heartbeat overwhelmed his senses.   It was slightly faster than usual, but that was almost a given. But it was steady – steadier than it has been in a while. Albus relaxed out of James’ arms  and against the building wall .  

It felt like Scorpius was trying to steady his own heartbeat , like he knew Albus was panicking and was trying to keep calm for him.   Albus could almost picture him curled up in a ball, holding tight onto the necklace and breathing steadily, hoping that  it was enough to calm Albus down. If he was alone, he’d probably be reciting Albus’ favourite book passage, knowing that if he were here, that would get Albus to calm down.  If Albus closed his eyes, he could hear him talking.  

Scorpius’ voice was like honey, dripping with sugar  and  syrup.  Smooth like the  ripples of the ocean waves on a calm summers day, birds chirping as the sun rises along with the world.  The gentle breeze whistling through the beach umbrellas , children laughing whilst building sand castles. It was perfect, calm,  beautiful.  He could paint a picture with just his words and that picture was the  most beautiful painting  in this entire universe.  

When Albus’ heartbeat returned to normal, finally beating in sync with Scorpius’, he opened his eyes. His siblings  were staring wide eyed at him, two pairs of big brown eyes boring into his green. They had both inherited  their mothers baby browns,  though James had a green circle around his inner eye –  a small inheritance from their father. Albus forced a smile onto his face  and he looked at his siblings, then slowly nodded.  

“Your eyes,” Albus said to James, pulling his wand out his pocket and performing the spell again . This time he managed it a little better, but James still had the slight brown of his mothers’  eye  just as he had before. James performed the same spell on Albus, turning his  green eyes back to brown.  

So, The Unicorn Tail?” Albus asked, voice slightly shaky.   

Lily returned the half-smile. “Are you okay, Al?”  

Albus stood, brushing  the dirt from his borrowed jeans , feeling a slight sting on his palms from colliding with the floor , but he ignored it. “I’ll be better when we find Scorpius.”    

Albus pulled the cloak back over Lily, covering her from the eyes of others and walking back into the streets of Knockturn  Alley No one batted an eyelid as the two boys appeared out of nowhere and walked off in the direction of the so-called popular pub made for the locals.  

The pub sat between too dark and gloomy shops, one selling  illegal magical creatures that Albus would have secretly loved to have a gander around, the other  looking like some kind of divination shop. The pub was fairly obscure, the bricks painted black  and the windows boarded up. Albus wondered if it was even open until a couple walked out, leaning on each other for support. He tried not to think about the fact that it was  barely   midday.  

James opened the door for them, gesturing Albus and Lily through.  Inside was just as grungy, a faint smoky smell in the air Albus assumed there was some sort of d ru g den  upstairs  but hoped they’d be able to steer clear of that.  They took a seat at  a booth , Lily closest to the wall . Albus only knew she was there due to her hand on his elbow.   

“Doesn’t look like a great place for food,” James commented, a slight smirk on his face.  

Albus smiled, “ Not unless we want food poisoning.”  

“Can I help you lads?”  The  burly voice of the owner made Albus jump slightly, but he quickly  recovered .  

“Just two butterbeers please, mate,” James replied in his forced Scottish accent, smiling up at him.  He gave a  blunt nod before scuttling away  

Albus took a moment to take in the occupants of the pub. It was fairly busy considering the time of da y and most of the customers seemed to be drinking rather than eating.  A man in the corner  was stirring his coffee with his wand, the other hand deep into some wizarding  newspaper . From here, Albus could just make out the words:  MISSING: POTTER  KIDS.    

Albus quickly averted his eyes, seeing a man and a woman talking in the far corner. They were whispering in hushed voices, the man brooding over the woman  and talking furiously.  The man had a scruffy beard longer than his actual hair . Albus wasn’t entirely sure, but  he thought  that man had been in the papers back in Albus’ fourth-year . He had a time-turner of some kind and was sent to Azkaban. That man went by the name of  Theodore Nott and  had been released within the past few months  for reasons Albus didn’t know. That was the man they were looking for.  

Albus excused himself, walking through the pub and stopping  behind a pillar where the man was talking.  He pulled his wand out and cast an enhancement charm on his ears, the whispers sound ing  clearer in his head.  

They’re moving him?” He asked, voice annoyed.  

“He’s not  cooperating, I think they’re going to give up,” the girl snapped, sounding just as furious as he.  

“After everything I risked? Malfoy trusted me , he’s going to suspect something soon.” Albus’ ears perked  at the sound of  his best friends last name. Finally, they could be on to something, and Albus wouldn’t have to confront Nott himself.  

“Forget about Malfoy , he was stupid to trust you in the first place. You’ve been in Azkaban, no one comes out of there without Death Eater connections.”  

“Say it louder, why don’t you?” He spat.  There was a slight squeal, and Albus wished he could see   what was going on . “Where are they taking him?”  

“As if they’d tell me? All I know is that he’s  being held in  one of the Rowle’s old manors, somewhere up north.  But I don’t know how long he’ll be there .”  

Scorpius.  They know where he is.  

“That’s where I took him.  

Nott was the one who took him. Nott knows where Scorpius is.   He took him from whatever safe place he was supposed to be in . And if Albus knew anything about  Nott, he wouldn’t have taken Scorpius nicely.  Nott was anything but soft. Then there was Scorpius, the softest and kindest person Albus had ever had the pleasure of meeting.   He killed people with kindness, not hatred.   There was bravery in being soft , a bravery that Scorpius wore so well.  

Albus  snapped.   

He pulled his wand out  quickly and  rounded the pillar, grabbing Nott and pushing him against the wall, his wand held firmly against his throat. Before Albus had the chance to speak, Nott let out a vicious laugh , showing off some golden teeth, and tilted his head to the side.  

“Where is he?” Albus spat,  attempting to cut through the  laughter.  

Why do you care?” He asked,  amusement  leaking in his tone.  

Albus pushed his wand further against him, “I said, where is he?”  He used his best threatening tone, but deep down, Albus knew he was still just a seventeen-year-old desperate to find the love of his life.  

Nott’s smile  dropped,  and a hand wrapped around Albus’ neck.  Albus tried not to panic, but all spells went out of his head, the wand in his hand useless to him. The hand tightened , Albus let out a slightly strangled sound as he was pushed up against the opposite wall.  

“I don’t know who you are, or what right you think you had threatening me, but I warn you, boy, you might want to watch where you wave that wand ,” Nott  threatened .  

“And you might want to watch who you threaten,”  the new voice was James, holding his wand up to  Nott with a slight smirk on his face. “Hands off my brother, mate.” Nott never moved, of course. He squinted his eyes at them, flicking between both he and James before smirking.  

“Brothers?  Aye? ”  Fuck.  

James never wavered and instead bellowed, “stupefy!”  Albus was released from Nott’s firm hand  as he was thrown against the other side of the room, landing harshly on the floor . He groaned slightly  as he rolled onto his knees  then shakily onto his feet. There was a pulling on Albus’ elbow, a small reassurance that Lily was still there.  

“You stupid little fucker,” Nott said, brandishing his wand and sending James flying in the other direction without muttering a word.  Albus heard Lily  gasp but  pushed her behind him. Albus stepped in front of Nott as he  attempted to make his way to James, blocking his view.  Nott was quicker, however, and pushed Albus out of the way  causing him to fall to the floor. “Look, don’t stick your nose in where it doesn’t belong.   Bombarda!”  

A white light and an explosion, but luckily James tumbled out the way of the spells. “ Expelliarmus!” He cried, disarming Not t. Albus lost sight of his wand.  James scrambled to his feet , briefly  pressing his free hand to the back of his head. Albus noticed his hand come away with blood. Taking a deep breath, Albus turned to Nott , unarmed and holding his hands up.  

“Look, kids, I don’t know what Scorpius Malfoy means to you, but I’ve no longer got anything to do with him,” Nott said, eyeing them both.   

“But you know where he is?” Albus pressed, waving his wand in what he hoped was a threatening manner.  

“What’s in it for me if I tell ya?”  

“Saving the life of a young boy,” James said,  limping forward. Clearly Nott’s two spells hit him harder than it looked.  

“I don’t give a damn what happens to that boy.”  

“Wrong answ-”  

“ALBUS!” Before Albus could process Lily’s cry behind him, Nott’s wand was thrown back into his hand  and fire was escaping out the end of it  and heading straight for James.  James cried out, a piercing shout that  sounded through the crackle of the fire.  

The fiendfyre took shape of a large bird, wings flapping as it fell out of Nott’s control. Albus grabbed Lily, pulling the cloak from her to make sure he could see her. He dived to the floor, sheltering her from the ever-growing smoke . She heard him say his name, but Albus ignored in attempt to find James through the haze.  

Nott was gone too  

The fire was out of control, soaring through the building. Screams of regular pub-goers were barely a background noise as they ran for the door  to escape onto the streets. It was every man for themselves as they dived over Albus and Lily on the floor, a few of them kicking him as they went.   

“JAMES?” Albus called, coughing as he inhaled a large bout of smoke. He crawled along the floor, keeping Lily against his chest . He tried clearing the smoke with his  wand,  but it proved difficult. The flaming bird  headed for the bar, smashing glasses off the shelf as it branded the wooden bar in flames,  bright orange glowing from all corners.  

Albus  attempted to douse the fire with water from his wand, but it only appeared to make it angrier.  It roared, crackling in his ear and shooting towards him.  Lily yelped out in pain.  He collapsed down on top of Lily, sheltering her as that was the most important thing.  He used the cloak as a shelter for himself, but it didn’t do much to help.  

Sweat beaded down his forehead, his throat dry as he battled against the smoke and flames. His lungs were on fire , burning and begging for some fresh air. Albus threw the cloak over he and Lily, pulling her up to her feet and running with her to the exit. Out in the fresh air, he searched quickly for James hoping he’d somehow made it out.  

“Lily,” he choked,  smoke clogging his throat. “Stay out here, hide under this.”  

“Wait, Albus! No, you can’t go back in there!” She begged . There were tears down her ash-stained face  as she clutched the top of her leg.   

“It got you?” Albus asked, looking down to see a burnt hole in her jeans and a nasty , angry burn  scorching her skin. She nodded quickly, clearly trying to hold the tears back. Albus got his wand out, muttering a few healing incantations that Scorpius had taught him in attempts to  cool the burning. He conjured a bandage and wrapped it around her leg, deciding that’ll have to do for now.  

“Albus-”  

“I need to find James,” Albus said .  

“Albus, please!”  

“Lily, you’ll be fine. Hide under here and I’ll be back as-”  

“Albus! L ook!” Albus turned to where Lily was pointing, seeing James – black-haired and blue-eyed James – but still James, leaning against a wall  with his head titled and eyes closed.   

“Shit!” Albus cried, grabbing Lily’s hand and pulling her across the cobbled street. Other pub-goers were  crowding around, as well as other owners of shops and shoppers.  James had managed to pull a himself away from the crowd but seemed to have collapsed as soon as he did. Albus and Lily collapsed next him, Lily crying his name over and over.  

“James?” Albus asked,  holding his face with his hands. He slapped him a little, hoping it would wake him up. “Jamie, hey! Jamie, come on!”  Albus let out a vicious cough, the smoke still clogging up his lungs. Albus  picked up his wand which he’d dropped on the floor. “Rennervate,” he muttered, and James let out a small moan.   

“Al?” He mumbled. Albus let out a deep breath . James was alive. That’s all that mattered right now. He heard Lily release a sigh too.  

“Yeah, it’s me,” Albus smiled the best he could as James’ eyes flickered open.  

“THAT’S THEM! The little rascals that set my pub on fire!” A voice was saying, pointing in their direction.   

“Shit, hold on,” Albus said, grabbing both James and Lily and Disapparating.  

They landed just outside their hotel, but Lily let out a  cry as she clutched her arm.  Albus looked at her, angry red blood spilling out her arm.  No, no, no, no,  he thought, tears welling up in his eyes.   

“Lily, I am so sorry!” He cried. He’d splinched her. He’d fucked up the mission by confronting Nott and now he’s splinched his little sister and everything was falling apart.  He managed to pick James up and carry him inside the hotel. Lily, despite being in clear pain, was able to walk on her own and was just ahead  of them. They’d somehow managed to avoid the receptionist on the desk.  

Lily opened the door and Albus dragged James in, lying him down on the bed. He rifled through the  bag of healing potions James had managed to pack, finding the potion to cure Lily's splinch and  placing a few drops over  the large gash as it quickly healed. Luckily, it wasn’t too bad and Albus let out a yet another breath.   

“James?” He said, falling to his brothers side.  

“I’m fine, Al,” he mumbled, coughing as h e spoke. “ I just need to sleep.”  

“Jamie-”  

“Albus, his leg,” Lily said, eyed wide  with horror.   

Albus looked down, noting his seared leg, throbbing with blisters already. Fiendfyre was a nasty type of fire, uncontrollable and brutal.  

As Albus did his best to heal his brothers wounds with what little resources they had, he tried to ignore James’ cries of pain and  thrashing about. Lily helped the best he could, but she was better at holding his hand and whispering encouraging words in his ear. It took hours until Albus felt like he could finally leave James to sleep, knowing that a good nights rest would do him good. Lily curled up next to him, her owns wounds throbbing .  

Albus lay down next to them on his back feeling utterly useless and hopeless, but mostly: guilty. He d hurt his siblings, he still only knew the general direction of where Scorpius was being held, and  his parents would never, ever forgive him for letting them get hurt.  

Albus turned his back to James and Lily, coughin g slightly as the last of the smoke cleared from his lungs. He turned on the radio and listened to the news, perking only when his dad’s name was mentioned.  

"It’s been  nearly four days since Harry Potter’s children went missing from their home. There has been no word as of yet about the whereabouts, but  there is now a suspect in the case. Harry Potter released a statement earlier today stating that Draco Malfoy was reportedly the last person to see all three teenagers alive. Draco has been arrested and is currently in Ministry care as they attempt to figure it out.  

In other news, there is  has been an increase in Death Eater activity around Knockturn Alley, reports flying in about dark marks and  strange activity. A pub in Knockturn Alley was set of fire earlier today, reportedly by two men who were in and around the Alley questioning people on the whereabouts of Scorpius Malfoy – another young boy who has been missing for fo ur days as well.  It is suspected that Scorpius has been recruited into the Death Eaters and that his disappearance is not a coincidence. More to be reported later. Thank you.”  

Albus groaned in frustration, resisting the urge to throw the  radio across the room. Albus let sobs overcome him as he curled into a ball, hot tears streaming down his ash-burnt face. He wished for his siblings to be okay, for his mum to hug him. But mostly, he wished for his best friends safe return.  

 

Chapter Text

Minutes turned to hours that then turned to days. Scorpius was unsure of how long exactly he’d been trapped in the dark, dank dungeon, coughing on the damp air and shivering until his bones hurt. His entire body ached, his lungs suffered, his throat dry. He hadn’t eaten either, they hadn’t offered him anything. 

The last time Delphi and Lucius entered, they sat talking to him for a bit, Delphi’s wand playing idly in her fingers. She laughed every time she sent a nasty hex his way, most that weren’t too dangerous but enough to make him hurt or feel uncomfortable. The odd  crucio  was sent his way, but they never lasted as long as the first, and soon he was sure the shorter bursts were going to drive him crazy. He never knew when they were coming or when he’d be allowed out. 

His eyes began playing tricks on him, seeing things that weren’t there, and soon he would feel them, hear them. They’d reach out to him, whispers in the dark, until he cut them off with a scream. He spent time in and out of consciousness – not sleep, never sleep. His exhaustion practically knocked him out.  

Mostly, he spent the hours wishing for Albus, despite knowing his best friend probably wanted nothing to do with him anymore. His heart longed for him, for a hug, for the comfort of his arms. He’d grown too used to Albus being there all the time, and the longer he went without him, the heavier his heart weighed. 

When the door opened, blinding Scorpius with the bright light from the corridor, he scattered into the corner, using his knees as a shield. Lucius rolled his eyes before putting a plate on the floor and pushing it towards him. Scorpius eyed it for a moment, unsure whether he should actually touch it or not. 

“Eat,” Lucius said, filling up and glass with water and levitating it over to him. Scorpius plucked it from the air, thankful for a drop of water and downed the whole thing in one. “Slowly,” Lucius said. “You’ll make yourself sick.”  As though you care , Scorpius thought. Some grandfather he was. When Scorpius refused to pick up the food, Lucius muttered something that sounded like, ‘suit yourself,’ before stalking back out and leaving him in the dark. 

Blinded once again – though sometimes his eyes adjusted to the dark – Scorpius fiddled around for the food. It was just a sandwich with some bland filling and he picked it up, bringing it to his lips for a bite. Tuna. The one thing Scorpius couldn’t eat was fish, it just never agreed with him. Still, he shovelled it down. He was way too hungry to think about that right now. 

He regretted it, when ten minutes later there was a pool of his sick in the corner, the retching drying his throat and causing his back to ache more. Once he’d emptied his stomach, he weakly crawled to the other side of the room, collapsing when his limbs gave way and falling into unconsciousness. 

When he woke, he was no longer in the dark, cold room. He was no longer cold, he felt slightly better and a part of him wondered if this entire thing had been a dream. For that split second, everything seemed okay. Then Delphi’s bright silver-hair swam into view, silver eyes bore into his as she smiled. 

“Morning, sunshine. You’ve been out for quite a while,” she giggled. Scorpius groaned, rolling over so she was out of view and closing his eyes, hoping it would ease his headache a little. It didn’t. “Come on, Scorpy, we’ve got work to do.” 

There was a pulling on his brain, like claws reaching inside him, digging hard for whatever it was looking for. Scorpius groaned, willing the feeling to go away, knowing someone was inside his head but being too weak, too tired, to do anything about it. When it stopped, his body relaxed. He felt Delphi press her wand to his temple, felt the tug of a memory be pulled out, but it wasn’t until she savagely pulled him to his feet, like he was nothing more than a rag doll, did his panic settle in. 

Once again, he found himself swirling into the pensieve, landing ungracefully on his pride. Delphi’s hand was wrapped firmly around his wrist, aggravating the bruise she’d put there previously – how long ago was that now? It felt like months. 

“Stand up, Scorpius,” she said, pulling his arm. He dragged himself up, trying to ignore the wave of vertigo.  

“Where are we?” He mumbled, his throat raw and scratchy. 

Delphi shrugged, “it’s your memory, you tell me.” 

It was then that the location clicked as the Slytherin dungeons, where Albus was sat in the corner working on some kind of essay. He looked about twelve, which meant Delphi had dug further into his brain, maybe that’s what the tugging was earlier.  

A cry sounded from the other side of the room, and then a blond-haired child was running  through  Scorpius with a slight limp, tears down his face and a gut-wrenching cry. Scorpius followed him – the mini-version of himself – and watched him throw himself at Albus. Scorpius remembered the day clearly; the pain he was in at the time and the heaviness of his heart. 

A group of bullies had been playing catch with one his books and when Scorpius confronted them, they made him jump for it. Just as he jumped, one of them kicked his ankle, so he crashed back down on it at an awkward angle. Once on the floor, they threw the books they’d stolen at him, before emptying his ink pot all over his books and Scorpius’ robes. 

But wait… Scorpius watched Albus and memory-Scorpius, something not feeling quite right. In order to hear the conversation, he stumbled closer to them. 

“Go away, will you?” Albus spat, pushing memory-Scorpius away from him. Scorpius scrunched his nose, confusion spreading through him. Why was Albus acting strange? 

“But… Al!” Memory-Scorpius cried, still sniffling. “My foot hurts,” at this point, Scorpius’ mini me was hopping on one foot, in clear pain. 

Albus pushed him again, this time pushing Scorpius to the floor. “I said go away, you freak.” 

“Wha… what’s going on?” Scorpius asked Delphi, who was watching in pure delight.  

Though she frowned. “What do you mean? This is your memory, Malfoy.” 

Scorpius shook his head. Something wasn’t right. Albus had never been horrible to him like that, but for the life of him, Scorpius couldn’t remember what really happened. He was sure that this was different when it actually happened because Albus was his best friend. They never fought, and even if they did, he would never push Scorpius away when he was hurting. He would never  further  hurt him. 

“Get me out of here,” he demanded, pulling his eyes away from his sobbing self on the floor and Albus’ cold stare. 

Delphi rolled her eyes but nodded, pulling Scorpius from the memory. Again, he landed on his backside, but he quickly scrambled to his feet. 

“What was that?” He demanded, stepping up to her. She immediately pulled her wand up to threaten him, and Scorpius faltered only slightly. “What have you done?” 

“Honestly, Scorpius,” she giggled, “I have no idea. Clearly you and Albus aren’t as close as you thought you were.” 

“We’re best friends,” he protested. 

“Let’s see about that shall we?” Delphi said, waving her wand threateningly at him. Scorpius stepped back, all the way until he backed into his grandfather who seized his arms. 

“Don’t be stupid, Scorpius,” he scolded in his ear as Scorpius fought against him. His grandfather – despite getting on a bit in age – was still stronger than Scorpius – who was not only skinny and weak normally, but also severely undernourished and sleep deprived. He didn’t stand much of a chance, but he tried to shake his grip as much as possible. 

Eventually, Lucius gave in and released him, letting Scorpius crash to the floor with an ungraceful  bang!   

“Petrificus Totalus!” Delphi sang, and Scorpius felt his body seize up, his arms forced to his side, trapped. He’d landed on his side, so Delphi pushed him onto his back with the toe of her boot. She bent down, pressing the tip of her wand forcibly against his neck, very quickly cutting off his breathing supply. “You should have listened to your grandfather,” she said with a wicked smirk. 

She loosened her wand, letting the air back into his lungs. “Stop messing with my head,” Scorpius muttered, struggling behind his raspy breathing. 

“You know, Scorpius, no ones coming for you,” she said, fiddling idly with her wand in an oddly threatening way. 

Scorpius swallowed, “I know.” 

“Not Albus, because why would he? Not your dad, again that would mean he cared. So, why are you protesting? Why not just join the cause? You’ll not only have people who care for you then, but people who will worship you,” she whispered, her voice full of a lust. Scorpius knew then that she didn’t want that for him, she wanted it for herself. 

“I don’t want that, I never have.” 

“Come on, I’m not done yet.” She pulled another memory from him before releasing the binding spell and dragged him back over to the pensieve.  

This time, Scorpius was a little more prepared and landed on his feet, only stumbling a little. He knew this moment before it even fully fell into place. Gobstones club, fourth year. Two months after the death of Craig Bowker Jr, Scorpius managed to get Albus out of bed for the first time all week. Albus had been feeling down for a long time, struggling to get out of bed most days unless Scorpius dragged him up and forced him down to breakfast. 

For the first time in a few weeks, Albus was smiling as he won yet another round of Gobstones against Yann Fredricks (the only time the other boy had been civil with him). Things went a little downhill, however, when Polly Chapman threw her Gobstones balls at Scorpius in frustration when he won again.  

Scorpius watched fourteen-year old Albus stand and storm over, ready to clearly give her a talking to, but randomly stopped and smiled at her. Scorpius furrowed his brows, wondering why Albus had suddenly changed his tune. Then he high-fived Polly –  high-fived her!  Memory-Scorpius took a step back, clearly hurt at Albus’ change in behaviour. 

“Albus?” Memory-Scorpius said, voice leaking with hurt. 

“Serves you right,” Albus said before stalking off in the opposite direction  with  Polly. 

That wasn’t how that day went. It can’t have been. Something was missing, something in his heart knew that. His head maybe playing out the scene differently, but that Albus wasn’t  his  Albus. 

There was a pair of hands seizing his shoulders harshly, nails digging in and breaking skin. The world blurred as the memory faded and reality returned. Delphi was talking, her voice an irritating background noise, but Scorpius couldn’t even begin to focus on that. His mind was on Albus, on the boy he loved more than anything in this entire world, the boy who stuck by his side through thick and thin and who never –  ever  – hurt him. 

A pain surged through his bones, a fire searing throughout his body. His scream burned his throat as he dropped to the floor, landing on his shoulder with a  crack . His body jerked as he tried to lessen the pain, trying to cradle himself as it the fire inside him grew.  

Then it stopped. 

And Delphi was in his face screaming, “NOW MAYBE YOU’LL LISTEN TO ME.” 

Scorpius rolled onto his back, his body aching and trembling. His eyes blurred with tears as he tried to process the sheer agony he was in. Delphi had a fire in her eyes that caused the grey to sparkle. She’d be a great leader, Scorpius thought, if only she had a better heart. 

“I don’t even know what they want out of you, you’re useless. I should just kill you now.” 

Scorpius turned over and brought himself up onto his knees with a fair amount of trouble. A wave of dizziness hit, his vision blurring as he fought against the sickness. Once it had passed, he wiped his nose with his forearm, smudges of blood coming away with it. He lifted his head, despite how heavy it felt, to look at her. “Then why don’t you?” 

She turned to look at him and when she caught sight of the small bout of bravery in his stance, she smiled. “Maybe you’re not so useless after all.” 

Delphi flicked her wand, extinguishing the lights in the room and walked out with a grace fit for a queen. A queen that had long killed the king and had begun raising her own army. Lucius escorted Scorpius back to his dungeon, giving his shoulder a forceful shove causing him to collide with the floor. He’d spent so much time on the floor recently it’s a wonder they weren’t better acquainted. 

There was a part of him missing. Like those memories that Delphi had tampered with had changed the course of time and suddenly, Scorpius felt more alone than ever. Not even the gentle thump of Albus’ heartbeat – the only that had been getting him through – managed to make him feel better. He was alone. The Albus in his memories wasn’t the Albus he knew in his heart. It wasn’t the Albus he was in love with. 

Days passed – weeks maybe, he didn’t know. The routine was the same, they’d give him a small amount of food and a glass of water; just enough to keep him alive. They’d take him to the pensieve even though he could barely walk, they’d tamper with his memories and force him to watch Albus hate him. Delphi stopped using cruel spells on him the moment she realised one more would probably kill him.  

Then, they’d leave him to rot down in the dungeon, in the damp and dark, where he couldn’t even cry because his body was so deprived. He would spend hours with an excruciating headache trying to remember the Albus he knew he loved, putting together the memories they hadn’t touched to try and figure out the person he knew he was – in his heart. 

He wasn’t sure at which point he gave up. 

He wasn’t sure how long he’d been enduring torture before he found himself begging Delphi to kill him. 

One day, when they returned him to his room, he lay on the floor and he wished for death. And he closed his eyes, never knowing if he would truly wake up. Not knowing if he even wanted to. 

 

He followed the  sound of pure joy, a laughter as bright as the sun itself. He eyes stung against the bright yellow orb in the sky, enlightening the world in a storm of happiness. Scorpius smiled when he saw the source of the laughter: his mum. She  was  swinging back and forth on the swing  that had been built for  Scorpius when he was a child. Out here being pushed by his mum was his favourite place in the world when he was young. 

“Mum?” He asked  as he approached. He never startled her, she just smiled softly. She looked different from when he last saw her. When he last saw her she was on her death bed, and now she had never looked more alive. Her hair had returned to the voluminous  shade of chocolate brown, her eyes bright and full of life and love .  

“Scorpius, honey,” she jumped gracefully from the swing and embraced him in a hug. Scorpius immediately melted into her,  taking in her lavender  scent that she always carried around with her. When she pulled away, it was too soon.  

“Mum? Where am I?” Scorpius asked, looking around. Everything seemed bright, like every  colour in the world had been replaced by purity. He turned back to his mum when she took his hand in hers.  

“You’ve grown so much ,” she spoke, tears full in her eyes. “Where do you think you are, my boy?”  

“Am I dreaming?”  

“Not exactly .”  

“Am I dead?”  

“Not exactly.”  

“Mum, could you stop being so cryptic,” he spoke, a smile appearing on h is  face. His mum loved a good riddle or puzzle to figure out.   

Astoria smiled too,  brightening up the entire world. “Think, Scorpius. You’re smart enough to figure this out.”  

His smile faded. He dropped the floor, sitting crossed legged. His mum followed , pushing her long curly hair behind her shoulder before taking his hands again. Scorpius looked at her and a feeling of longing overwhelmed him. He had missed her so terribly . The best thing in his life was ripped away from him way too soon.  

“I’m dying, aren’t I?”  

She reached up to stroke his cheek and nodded. “You  don’t have to though. You’re strong enough to go back.”  

Scorpius was shaking his head. “I’m not, mummy. ” He choked, tears he hadn’t been able to cry for ages finally escaping down his face. “I’m not strong enough.”  

“Scorpius, you are  my  son.  That makes you a fighter.”  

“Can’t I stay, with you?”  

There was a silence where Astoria didn’t know what to say. She smiled at him sadly, her thumb still stroking  his cheek. It was the gentlest touch he’d had in what… weeks? No one had been this kind to him in a while ,  no one since… Albus.  

Albus.  

What happens to Albus if Scorpius stayed?  Would he care? Would he fall apart? Scorpius knows that if he lost Albus, he wouldn’t want to carry on in that world. Does Albus feel the same?  

“You’re thinking about Albus,” his mum said.  

Scorpius nodded. “I love him.”  

“Then go to him. Go back, baby, you’re allowed.”  

“I don’t want to choose between you or him,” Scorpius sobbed.  

Astoria pulled him in for a hug. “I’m not asking for you to choose .”  

Maybe not. But it’s still there. His mum – his mum who he had missed so much. Who had been taken from him at such a young age; for them both. Who he wanted longer with.  Or Albus – his best friend; the love of his life; his light in the dark ness .  

His mum wasn’t asking him to choose. But Scorpius still had the choice to make.  

Astoria or Albus.  

His mum or his best friend.  

Death or life.  

 

Chapter Text

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.”  

Scoooooooooorrrr!”   

“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.  

Thump.  

Thump-thump.  

Thump.  

Thump-thump.  

Thump.  

Nothing.  

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.  

“What?”  

“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 .  


Chapter Text

“Why are we still here?” Albus spoke rather harshly, pulling out of the hug. “We have to go, Scorpius is… Scorpius is… We need to go now.” Albus picked up his wand and headed for the door, not bothering to check if his siblings were following. 

There were, of course. As if they’d let Albus wander into an abandoned building where some dangerous people may or may not be torturing or just killed a young boy. Albus broke out into a sprint once out in the open. He kept his wand in one hand and the other on the necklace, hoping beyond all hope that it was simply a malfunction in the magic. 

His legs burned as he picked up the pace, rounding a corner. The manor was about a ten minute walk, and there was no way Albus could run that far. He slowed to a fast-pace walk, trying to catch his breath whilst his siblings caught up. His mind was running rapid with dangerous thoughts, but the one that stood out the most was:  I can’t do this without you .  

He couldn’t. Scorpius was his whole entire world. A part of Albus that he didn’t even know he was missing until he met Scorpius, and he fit into him like a puzzle piece. They were meant to be together; they were meant to share this world. Without him, Albus… Albus wasn’t Albus. He couldn’t be happy; he couldn’t be excited; he couldn’t be a good sibling, or even a good son. Scorpius was all the best parts of him, he brought out Albus’ better half. Albus didn’t want to live in a world without Scorpius Malfoy. It wasn’t a world worth living in. 

James and Lily caught up eventually. Albus barely noticed. James was rambling about coming up with a plan, but he wasn’t listening, he couldn’t listen. Sadness, anger and pain all fired through him, riling him up for a fight. Whoever it was that hurt Scorpius, Albus was going to kill them. 

The Rowle Manor stood tall and brooding, the moonlight shining down and illuminating all the dank, dark corners of a building on the verge of falling apart. The garden grass loomed tall, most of it dead or decayed from years of neglect, the trees barren with fallen leaves at its foot. The gate was rusted, an old padlock keeping it closed, but it broke off easily when James pulled it. The gate creaked open, further adding to the creepy demeanour. 

Albus’ heart stopped, paralysed with fear of what he might find buried deep within the grounds. Any and all confidence he developed on the way here was washed away as the potential nightmares came to creep around his brain. There was a hand on his shoulder and another on his arm and on slow, careful steps, they walked towards the front door. 

The drive was long and painful. Albus could have sworn he’d seen shadows lurking behind bushes and statues of the past Rowle’s looming in the garden. He tried a tunnel vision approach, but every slight noise left his senses on edge. Before James tried the door, Albus felt the necklace once again with a small ounce of hope. 

Thump.  

Thump-thump.  

Thump.  

He let out a sigh upon feeling the faint – very faint – heartbeat of his best friend soaring through his veins. He was  alive .  With every passing second, the heartbeat grew stronger. It took all his strength not to collapse on James in relief. 

 

 

His head throbbed as he waved back into consciousness, opening his eyes to find a bright silver pair staring back at him with a wicked smile. He was too tired to panic, too in pain; too weak.  

“Didn’t think we’d let you slip away that easily, did you?” Delphi said in a chirpy voice that cut painfully through his headache. He blinked away the water in his eyes, struggling to find his voice. He felt – for want of a better word – like living death. “For a moment I didn’t think I’d be able to bring you back, but I should know better than to doubt my own abilities.” 

Scorpius groaned as he half sat up and shuffled away from her, even though his body felt weighed down with a tonne of bricks. “Why didn’t you just let me die?” He croaked. 

Delphi rolled her eyes, her wand twiddling precariously between her two fingers in an oddly threatening way. “I’m not done with you, yet. I’ll admit you’ve been a hard one to break, but I know you’re very close to submitting. And when you do, I’ll be one step closer to my goal.” 

Scorpius, with all the energy he had, scoffed. “To bring back eternal darkness. Funny how you can’t do that without me.” 

It was the wrong thing to say. Her eyes became icy cold, shooting daggers in his direction. A chill ran down his spine as those dark eyes bore into his soul. Scorpius felt vulnerable, like she was searching through his memories again, but this time she wasn’t. The familiar tug wasn’t there. But under her gaze, he wanted nothing more than to fall into the centre of the Earth. 

“I don’t need  you. To me, you’re worthless, but you’re not to those who follow me.  You see, Scorpius,  I   am the answer this world has been looking for.” Delphi stood, pacing back and forth and making Scorpius feel like the size of an ant. 

“The world doesn’t need an answer, that question was solved years ago when Voldemort was killed in the war,” Scorpius spoke, wanting to put fight into his words but unable to find the strength. He wished she'd just let him die, at least then he'd be with his mum. 

Delphi paused in her pacing to look at him, ire firing through her. “My father didn’t deserve that.” 

“You’re…” Scorpius faltered, his mind whirring trying to calculate exactly what that meant. His head throbbed harder as he came to a conclusion, one that never made much sense in his haze. “Voldemort… you’re his daughter?” Scorpius knew he had ties to Death Eaters and finding out how close his grandparents were to Voldemort was one of the most harrowing things of his childhood but finding out now he was somehow related to his  daughter .  Scorpius’ heart was about to give way again. 

“Yes,” she spoke proudly. “And I will bring a world that he envisioned. With a Malfoy at my side, just like him.” 

With the last of his strength, Scorpius pulled himself up, so he was sitting properly. “My grandfather abandoned your father in the war. I have no idea how you have him bowing down to you now because he’s a coward. He’s flees the fight when the fight gets hard. And when you  fail , he’ll abandon you too.” 

“I’m not interested in him, Scorpius. I’m interested in you.” 

She whipped an object out of her pocket, the silver of a blade catching the light and she dove towards him. He couldn’t fight, even if he wanted to: he was too weak. He tried to squirm, but she pinned him to the floor easily. One knee dug into his chest whilst her foot pinned his wrist to the floor. She smiled wickedly down at him before eyeing his pale forearm. 

“Ever wondered what it’s like to have a Dark Mark?” She asked, briefly pulling her sleeve up to reveal a jagged pink scar going down it. “It may not be like my fathers, but it will show that we are one, Scorpius. That together, we will bring back eternal darkness.” 

“No,” he managed despite the crushing weight on his chest. She laughed and shook her head, before bringing the blade to his forearm and dragging it across his pale skin, cutting deep and drawing blood. Scorpius let out a scream that scratched his throat, his eyes squeezed shut in agony. When the sensation stopped and all that remained was a throbbing pain, he looked down to his arm to see the blood pouring onto the tiled floor. 

“Too late,” she giggled. 

“Delphi,” said a voice from the door. They both looked and standing there was a man Scorpius hadn’t seen before. He’d been isolated to his room, or the room with the pensieve, with just Delphi and Lucius. He didn’t realise others were here as well.  

Delphi got off and him and spoke to the man in a low voice. He watched her face turn from annoyance, to concern, to delight in the space of a moment. She then ushered him away and turned to Scorpius and sang, “gotta go, someone’s at the door for you.” 

 

 

Albus, James and Lily stepped into the entrance hall after finding the door very easy to pick open. They all had their wands brandished at their sides – even Lily, despite it being against the law. Albus and James told her not to use magic, but she argued that surely their Aunt Hermione wouldn’t expel her from school given the circumstances. Besides, Lily was insanely gifted in Defence Against the Dark Arts and they could use her. 

“Albuuuuuus,” came a voice emerging from the dark, high-pitched and slightly manic. Emerging from the shadows like a phoenix from the ash was a girl, older than James, with dark silver hair tinted blue at the tips. She already had her wand in her hand and she was smiling, almost like she was expecting them. 

“Who are you?” James asked before Albus had the chance. “And how do you know my brother?” 

“Delphi. And he never shuts up about you, of course. Starting to get on my last nerve.” She spoke rather eloquently, a hint of bitterness to her otherwise chirpy tone. She leaned up against the doorway in a bored manner, observing the three Potters before her. 

“Where is he?” Albus asked. He felt Lily slip behind him and then over to James, where she unzipped his backpack. Albus didn’t even realise James had brought it with him. 

Delphi shrugged. “Who says he’s even here?” 

“I do.” Albus stepped forward, threatening her with his wand. She looked at it before letting out an intimidating giggle, pushing herself off the wall.  

“You don’t want to talk about this? Are you sure you want to fight a powerful witch such as myself?” 

“If you hurt him -” Delphi’s lips twitched into a smile “- then yes.  Bombarda!”  He screamed, watching as the wall around her tumbled down. Delphi threw up her shield, protecting herself from the falling debris and simply walked away from the chaos. 

“Silly, pathetic little boy,” she scolded, her tone now harsh and cruel as opposed to her previous. She threw another spell Albus’ way, but James blocked it for him, causing the spell to bounce off the statue in the corner. Others emerged from various rooms, circling the two boys – boys, wait, where was Lily? 

“James?” Albus asked as James threw up a shield around the two of them. “Where’s Lily?” 

“Trust her,” James said, putting his back against Albus’ so together they had a full view of the others. There was maybe six, including Scorpius' grandfather Lucius, with Delphi commanding their every move.  

“Where is she?” 

“Trust her, she’s fine.” 

“James.” 

“Trust me.” 

Albus did, and because he did, he decided to drop it.  

Albus looked up, seeing a chandelier above two members of Delphi’s Death Eater gang and smiled. “Drop the shield in 3…2…1.” James dropped the shield whilst Albus shot a spell at the chandelier, causing it to rain down crystals on a man and a woman underneath it. They didn’t react quick enough to save themselves, and by the time anyone could shoot at James and Albus, the shield was back in place. 

Though they couldn’t work like that forever. They were outnumbered. They had no choice but to head into the fight without so much as a plan. Delphi and her troops got fed up of them hiding behind a shield and started throwing spells at it to break it. Eventually, James dropped it and the two went separate ways, throwing spell after spell and hoping it hit a target. 

Albus jumped behind a sofa with his back against a wall, out of breath and growing tired from the constant fight. He couldn’t spot James from here and assumed he was also hiding somewhere. Delphi’s voice rang through the entrance hall, high pitched and manic, “boooyyssssss, come out to play,” she said, her voice rising in octave as she spoke. 

“ Expelliarmus! ”  Albus shouted from his spot, disarming another random man but he wasn’t good enough at the spell to get the wand himself. He jumped out from the sofa, throwing another spell at Delphi who quickly blocked it with barely the wave of her wand. 

The world tumbled under him as another spell came his way from behind. Albus greeted the floor like an old friend, letting out a strangled  “ oof, ”  as he did. He rolled over, coughing as dust entered his lungs from the crumbling framework of the house. It was sure to collapse at any moment. James found him, pulling him up to his feet. They were down to Delphi – by some miracle – and were both still fairly uninjured, despite James’ previous state. 

But Delphi was no easy task, not even for an Auror and his little brother; not even for the children of Harry James Potter. 

 

 

Above him, Scorpius could hear the sounds of a fight. Spells were being thrown carelessly and he could have  sworn  he heard Albus’ voice. He quickly convinced himself it was the same delusion that had been playing tricks on him since he arrived. Instead, he focused on himself and stopping the blood pouring out of his arm. It had clotted mostly, but still there. Scorpius used the bottom of his t-shirt to apply pressure. 

There was a scuffling from the other side of the door before it was pushed wide open. Scorpius pulled his knees to his chest and peered round, but no one was there. Until Lily Potter popped up from behind an invisibility cloak. 

Scorpius gasped. 

“Lily?” He spoke, for sure his mind was playing tricks. Surely, it couldn’t be  that  cruel to him. 

“Scorpius! She almost shouted, just as shocked to see him. “There were so many doors I was worried I wouldn’t find you,” she walked carefully over to him, but he didn’t move. He couldn’t. The shock paralysed him. 

“You’re… are you real?” His jaw trembled with oncoming tears that he blinked away to look at Lily properly. Her fiery red hair and baby brown eyes, looking fierce yet defeated all at the same time. That was the Lily he knew. The Lily who let him braid her hair, who stood up for him against the bullies, who ate with him at the Slytherin table when Albus was sick. The Lily he thought of as the little sister he never had. 

Lily nodded furiously, dropping down to her knees in front of him. “Look at you. What the bloody hell have they done?” 

Scorpius scrambled up, the pain in his body forgotten on adrenaline, as he tackled Lily in a hug so tight he could break her. She was real. And if she was here, then maybe Albus was to. She held him back just as fiercely. 

“You came for me?” He asked, a sob erupting from him. She pulled away, looking in his eyes and mentally searching for injuries.  You’ll be looking for a while ,  Scorpius thought, knowing his body was on the verge of shutting down once again. 

“Of course we did. Now let’s go,” she encouraged. Scorpius was weak on his legs, but he managed to hold himself enough with Lily supporting him.  

She guided him up the stairs from the dungeons, the hand that wasn’t holding his waist was armed with her wand. He tried to stay quiet on the ascend up the stairs, but the pain was blinding. They kept stopping so he could catch his breath, willing away the dizziness he was feeling. It was hearing Albus’ voice above them, shouting spells, that made him keep going. 

“ALBUS! JAMES!” Was that… 

“Dad?” Lily asked out loud, confusion laced in her tone. 

“Your dad is here?” Scorpius whispered. 

“Get away from my sons!” He bellowed, no doubt towards Delphi. 

Lily and Scorpius hurried up the rest of the stairs as quick as Scorpius’ legs would take him. They emerged into complete chaos. The building was on the verge of collapsing, dust, glass and debris everywhere from fallen structures or explosions. Albus was on the floor next to James, who was standing weakly in front of him. Harry Potter and a group of Aurors were by the door, wands brandished and pointed straight at Lucius and Delphi, who did not look like they were about to surrender at any point. 

Delphi turned to them and smiled, shaking her head at the clear betrayal of Scorpius, even though he had never agreed to join her. 

“Scorpius, I thought we had a deal?” 

“We never.” 

“You’re going to wish we did.  Diffindo!”  She screamed, directing her spell at Lily. Scorpius  reacted before the spell hit her, pushing her out the w ay . The  spell collid ed  with his stomach , a  large gash  opening  across his abdomen . Lily landed on the floor with a  crack , screaming out about her shoulder. Scorpius collapsed to the floor as Albus screamed, scrambling to his feet and pushing James aside. 

“Oh be quiet,” Delphi said, brandishing her wand towards Albus. She waved her wand, nonverbally casting a spell that Scorpius had never seen before. A purple flame emerged from her wand, slashing across Albus’ chest, who barely had time to react to anything before crumpling to the floor. The Aurors immediately attacked. 

Scorpius let out a scream so loud it tore through the room, breaking up the sounds of the building crumbling and spells being shouted. A scream that ripped apart his already dry throat and severed his vocal chords. A scream that contained only one word. A name. A name that meant the entire universe to him. A name that could rip his heart in two if it wanted. A name that did just that as he was hit with the end of a dangerous spell.

“ALBUS!” 

 

Chapter Text

He woke to the blare of a bright light  shining in his eye, which clicked off as soon as he opened both his eyes As he adjusted to the blinding light around him – his eyes not being used to something so bright – the headache pounded in his brain  and a shiver ran down his spine.  His heart pounded as he tried to familiarise himself with the  room, unsure on whether he was safe or not.  

“Ah, Mr. Malfoy, nice of you to join us,” someone said next to him. Scorpius jumped, not expecting  anyone to talk.  

“Scorpius?” That was his dad.  And if his dad was here that meant he would be okay.  He looked to the side of him, where Draco was standing next to hi s  bed, a hand in Scorpius’ that he hadn’t felt till now.   

“How are you feeling, Scorpius?” A woman, the same as before, asked. Scorpius looked at her, she was donned in lime green healer robes and had a patient smile on her face.   

“Where’s Albus?” Was the first thing he asked, remembering that the last words he’d spoken was Albus’ name . Or screamed.  His throat was dry, his voice weak  and barely audible. It had been neglected for what… weeks? Months? Scorpius had no idea. He had no idea how long he’d spent down there subject to torture and pain, with little food and water to keep him going.  

“We’re more worried about how you feel,” the healer said, kindly .  

“Where is he?” He asked. Behind his eyes, he saw Albus crumple to the floor  after  a purple flame ripp ed  across his chest. He didn’t recall any blood, aside from his own, as he went lightheaded and passed out on the floor himself.  

“Scorpiu”-  

“WHERE IS HE?” He asked as loud as his voice would let him. Why wouldn’t they tell him? Something must have happened to him, something must be stopping them telling him where he is. Scorpius sat up, crying out in pain as he did. His stomach throbbed, his back ache d , his head  pounded,  and his shoulder felt weak ; his legs  wobbled,  and his arm tingled but none of that mattered because Albus was so much more important.  

“Lie back down, please.”  

Scorpius did not. He sat up quickly, but his dad’s arms were around him to stop him from going anywhere. “ WHERE IS HE? I NEED TO SEE HIM!” He was screaming, begging , thrashing his body around in attempt to get free.  “PLEASE. PLEASE. LET ME SEE HIM!” He managed to scramble out of his dad’s grip  and jump out of bed, but his legs didn’t catch him, and he tumbled to the floor.  

He was too weak to stand, but he was adamant to see him, even though they weren’t telling him where he was. But then there were another set of arms around him  and someone whispering in his ear in a voice that sounded like Albus’ and it calmed him down slightly.  

“He’s okay, he’s fine, Scorpius.”  It was James, hugging him tight and telling him Albus was okay and he had no reason not to believe him.  Scorpius collapsed into him , letting himself relax in the arms of someone he trusted, because James had come to save him. James had been with Albus when they arrived and James he could trust.  

“Where is he?” He asked again, now calmer .  

“He’s next door. He’s… well, he’s unconscious, Scorpius.  The healers say he’ll wake up, but we don’t know when.”  Scorpius pulled out of James’ embrace to look at him.    

James looked extremely tired, dark circles surrounding his eyes accompanied by heavy bags. They were bloodshot red, as though he’d been crying . He was skinnier than the last time he saw him, his cheekbones sharp . There were a few lacerations across his face which had been healed, but no doubt will leave a couple of small scars, one on his eyebrow and the other across his cheek.  His arms were covered in burn scars  that looked only recently on the mend, some still angrily red.  

Scorpius gulped as he looked over him . His throat burned as he swallowed a lu mp whilst he tried his best to gather his thoughts, but they were jumbled and all over the place.  James held his hand up to the healer behind Scorpius, telling her to wait.   

“Wha- what happened to you?  Are you okay? ” He finally asked.   

James  half-smiled , letting out a little laugh. “You always have amazed me at how self-less you are. You’re here , barely able to stand after just going through Merlin knows what, and the first thing you ask is about  Albus or me.” James expected Scorpius to smile, but smiling was the furthest thing from his mind right now. James sighed. “We went through a lot, but we got you back alive, that’s what matters.”  

“And Lily?”  

She’s good, a few minor injuries too. She broke her shoulder  -” Scorpius winced, that was his fault when he pushed her. He remembers hearing it crack . “- but she’s doing okay. Right now we were all just waiting for you and Albus to wake up, and you have.”  James smiled  again. “Will you let me help you get back into bed?”  

Scorpius shook his head. “I want to see Albus.”  

“Albus isn’t  any good to you if you can barely stand. Let the healers help you both ,” James reasoned, rubbing Scorpius’ back.  Scorpius relented, nodding slightly. James stood and helped him up, holding and helping him back into bed. “I’ll go check on Al, come give you an update okay?” Scorpius nodded because it was the only thing he could think of doing.  

The healers began checking him over and his dad’s hand was in his once again.  He never spoke much to him, and when he did Scorpius couldn’t reply. Simply because he didn’t want to. After she’d finished her checks, she left Draco and Scorpius to it, mumbling something about getting them both something to eat.  

Draco pulled a chair up and sat down, squeezing Scorpius’ hand. “I’m so sorry, Scorpius. You were right, I shouldn’t have sent you away. I  thought I could trust the person who was going to look after you, and I thought I could trust your grandfather, but it turns out I can’t.  And you suffered for it.”  

All Scorpius could do was squeeze his hand, a small reassurance that he forgave him, that he still loved him. Scorpius knew everything Draco did was for him and his protection, even if his decision was a little  misguided. His dad smiled at him, standing up to wrap him in a quick hug. Hugs were rare between the Malfoy boys, and this one was short and sweet, but Scorpius relished in it either way.  

Hours passed in a blur. Healers came and went , checking him over and making sure he’d taken the correct potions. They explained his  injuries,  but Scorpius couldn’t tune into real life long enough to listen.  His dad stayed with him most the time, apart from once when he’d slipped out for a coffee. James came another time but again, Scorpius couldn’t comprehend he was there.  

Nothing made sense.  It was over – whatever  it  was. He didn’t know what happened after he passed out, but he was safe. Even if he didn’t feel it. A part of him expected it to all be a cruel joke, for the memory to fade to  black and he wake up in the dark room, coughing his lungs up of dust and retching in the corner.  Fighting everyday to stay alive even if he didn’t want to because of the beating heart that he felt when he touched the necklace.   

He couldn’t feel it now. James told him they’d taken it off Albus  and he was currently looking after it for him. It meant that Scorpius couldn’t tell whether Albus was alive or dead – he was alive. They told him as much. But that could change at any minute.  

If there was one thing Scorpius Malfoy had learnt from this…  experience , it was that life was a fragile, dainty thing.  

He spent the afternoon in a daze, drifting from hour to hour, not knowing what was real and what was fake. It was similar to how he spent the days down in the dungeon, except now he wasn’t worried about when his next bout of torture would occur.  He tried eating, but he’d thrown it up ten minutes later  and was le f t with a stale bile taste in his mouth.  

He didn’t sleep. He didn’t think he’d ever be able to sleep again. Every time he close d  his eyes he was met with  shadows lurking in the dark, red sparks of a Cruciatus Curse, manic laughter and shrill  screams, his own choking and his owns screams, his best friend rejecting him in various parts of his memory.  

Even though Albus had come for him, he still had memories that had been tainted with. Memories where Delphi tried to get him  to believe Albus hated him. It was a method of isolation, to make him feel so alone that he had no choice but to  join her, a place where he would be wanted. But she clearly didn’t know him if she thought that would work.  He was, in the words of his best friend, “too kind for his own good.”  He’d grown up in a world that hated him, that turned against him at every opportunity, and all that came of it was his heart of gold .  

Besides, she can tamper with memories, she can change how he thought Albus saw him, she can try and turn them against each other. But memories were just that: memories. Feelings, on the other hand, were a whole other wonder. She couldn’t change his feelings . She couldn’t make him fall out of love with Albus. It wasn’t possible. Love and memory, those were two separate entities. And in the battle he was facing, Albus was his army of angels , looking out for him every step of the way. She couldn’t change that with a few tainted memories.   

“Harry, don’t you dare go in there and interrogate my son,”  the frantic voice of his dad disturbed his reverie . He angled his head towards the curtain where Draco and Harry were arguing.  

“He was with them four nearly four weeks,  Draco. If anyone knows what Delphi and Lucius were planning, it’s him,” Harry spat back. Four weeks? Scorpius was only missing for four weeks? It felt like a lifetime.   

“Can we at least let him recover? He nearly died , Potter  and we both know how that feels.” Scorpius rolled his eyes, pulling the blanket up and over his head, as though  it  could block out the shouting voices that were doing nothing  to calm his headache.  

“Which is why we need the details .”  

His curtain was ripped open, and there was a slight scuffling which Scorpius assumed was h is  dad attempting to stop Harry. Scorpius stayed under the blanket  as though he could pretend he didn’t exist.  

“Scorpius, could I please talk to you about what happened?” Harry asked in a less-than-friendly tone.   

“It’s obvious he doesn’t want to talk about it,” Draco snapped.  

“Scorpius?”  

Scorpius took a deep breath and peeked out from under the blanket, meeting the intense green eyes of  the   Harry Potter, saviour of the wizarding world and his best friends dad.  In all their years of friendship, Harry Potter hadn’t taken well to Scorpius. He started accepting him a little more in recent months, but Scorpius guessed all that was now  a distant memory.   

He dread to think the types of rumours that sprouted against him  whilst he was gone. Even though he was being tortured for large portions of his day, or having his memory modified, he had no doubt that the world probably thought of him as leader of the Death Eater pack.  It would make sense for Voldemort’s son, after all.  

“Yes?” He asked Harry . It was barely audible due to his sore throat .  

He wasn’t sure, but he thought he saw Harry smile. “How’re you feeling?”  

Scorpius furrowed his brows, briefing a glance at his dad who nodded. Scorpius sat up slightly. “Like I’ve been hit  with a truck.” It wasn’t supposed to be a joke, but Harry laughed lightly anyway.  

Do you remember anything? Anything at all?”  

“Everything,” Scorpius said, a lump forming in his throat. “And that’s the problem.”  

Harry nodded , a pity in his eyes that Scorpius recognised as sympathy. “And did Delphi ever tell you anything? Their plans?”  

He shook his head, regretting it when a wave of vertigo washed over him. “All she ever said was that she wanted to bring back  eternal darkness, like her father – Voldemort.”  

“Voldemort is her father?” Scorpius nodded. Harry took a moment to process this before nodding himself and standing to his full height.  

Thank you, Scorpius. That’s all for now.”  

“Wait, Mr. Potter!” He called just as Harry was about to leave. Harry stopped and turned to him. “Albus. How’s Albus?”  

He sighed. “No change yet.”  

“Can I see him?”  

Maybe later,” he mumbled, ducking out of the curtained room quickly. Scorpius slumped, resisting the urge to scream out but only because he knew it would strain his already sore throat.   

With a shaky hand he picked up the glass of water next to him. Draco came running to his side to help him, but he pulled away sharply and muttered that he was perfectly capable of doing it himself.  With a nod, Draco slumped back in the chair and Scorpius took a shaky sip.  After putting it back down, he observed his hands. They were  shaking,  and they wouldn’t stop, he tried to relax them, but it did nothing to help.  

The room fell into silence , all but the ticking of a clock above him. As time moved on, minute by minute, hour by hour, his dad fell into a silent slumber and left Scorpius alone to his devices. And those devices were intent on driving him crazy.  

The incessant ticking of the clock was  drilling holes into his brain, slowly sending him down a spiral of a dark, winding path Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock .  After weeks of hearing silence  for hours on end in a darkened room , every sound seemed heightened .   Every s ingle   tick-tock  reminded him of how time was moving on without him, even though his life  had already fallen apart .    

Tick-tock.  

It drilled through his skull over and over like a rat gnawing away at his flesh.  

Tick-tock.  

He thought that he might soon explode.  

Tick-tock.  

Like a bomb counting down to its final seconds.  

Tick-tock.  

Every ticking led to his thoughts becoming more jumbled.  

Tick-tock.  

What if it wasn’t over?  

Tick.  

W hat if this was all a dream?  

Tock.  

How did  everything go so suddenly wrong ?  

Tick.  

And how was he supposed to heal from this?  

Tock.  

The thoughts jumbled up, becoming one and mixing in his brain and they were intertwining with each other and screaming at him all at once constantly running at a hundred miles an hour and he couldn’t keep up with them and oh my  G od was he breathing? It didn’t feel like he was breathing, he definitely wasn’t breathing. Maybe h e  had  never survived , and this was hell. This was surely what hell felt like and-  

“Scorpius?”  

Tick-tock.  

“Yeah?” Was that his voice? It didn’t sound like his voice.  

Tick-tock.  

“Are you okay?”  

He looked up to see James standing there, wide-eyed and  a face full of concern. Scorpius’ heart was pounding, breathing slightly  elevated. James ran to his side and grabbed his hand,  lifting it and holding it against the necklace around his neck.  

“I put Al’s necklace back on for you, listen to that,” James instructed, and he did. Within seconds he was overwhelmed with Albus’ thumping heartbeat – a healthy heartbeat. It wasn’t weak, as though he was on the verge of dying. No, it was strong.  Within moments , his heart-rate returned to normal and his lungs opened up to bluer skies . “Better?”  

Scorpius nodded numbly. “ Thank you.” James nodded and there was a brief silence in which Scorpius remembered James’ hand still holding his. “Can you help me?” Scorpius asked , looking at his dad sleeping in the chair next to him before back at James.  

“What do you need?”  

“I need to see him.”  

James paused for a moment before giving in and nodding. He helped Scorpius out of bed  and supported him out of the room. Albus was only next door in a separate room, sharing with both James and Lily  who each had their own curtained off sections. Scorpius didn’t realise how late it had  become. Most the hospital was shrouded in darkness for the patients to sleep, with only a few lights for the night staff to work by.  He was clearly inside his own head for longer than he thought.  

Once inside Albus’ own curtained off area, Scorpius’ breath caught in his throat.  He was paler than usual, which accentuated the freckles dotted agai nst his cheeks and across his nose. His freckles ha ve  always been Scorpius’ favourite part of him. He had forty-six, he counted once during a panic attack to help calm him down.  His hair was his usual curly mess, the black seeming more alert against his pale skin.  

Scorpius detangled himself from James and hobbled over, using the side of Albus’ bed to hold him up.  Scorpius took one of Albus’ hands in his , feeling at ease when it was still warm. Albus was alive, but every little sign that showed it was even more reassuring.   

You’re supposed to be t he one looking after me in the hospital bed,” Scorpius whispered to Albus, even though he knew he couldn’t hear him. “Please just wake up, Albus. I need you.”  

James placed a hand on his shoulder and squeezed it gently. “I’ll leave  you  to it , but-” James pulled out his wand and expanded Albus’ bed- “please lie down, try and get some rest, too.”  Scorpius nodded, thanking him with sincere eyes as he couldn’t find it in him to smile. “And Scorpius?” James said just as Scorpius  was climbing in the bed next to Albus. “I’m glad it’s you who’s fallen in love with my little brother. I never thought anyone would ever be good enough for him, but then he found you.”  

For the first time since he woke up, Scorpius managed a half-smile. “Aren’t you going to threaten me if I hurt him?”  

James laughed. “I don’t think I need to. If anything I should be threatening him not to hurt you.”  

“Funny,” Scorpius said, “that’s what Lily said, too.”  

The oldest Potter furrowed his brows and tilted his head slightly to side, it reminded Scorpius of Albus a little bit. “Lily?”  

“Lily has known about my feelings for Albus for… a while . I spoke to her about it when I was figuring it all out, I don’t know why, she just seemed like she wouldn’t judge me .”  

James smiled genuinely, “I’m glad you had someone to talk to. But, I think we all know who you need to speak to next.” He pointed  at Albus, winked and left Scorpius alone with him.  That would be great,  Scorpius thought,  if he was awake.  

Scorpius shuffled down, not getting under the blanket with Albus but instead  simply lying next to him, watching him breathe. He grabbed his hand and pulled it up so both his and Scorpius’ hand s  were entwined just over Albus’ chest, where  Scorpius could just feel the faint beating of his heart.  

“Wake up, ” Scorpius whispered. “I need you, please, wake up.”  He shuffled slightly closer , feeling the warmth radiating from Albus  and closing his eyes. For the first time in weeks he felt truly safe  as he fell into a soft sleep with  only the noise of Albus’ gentle breathing and the beating of his heart .  

 

Chapter Text

Albus woke with a heavy, aching weight in his chest, pressing down on his lungs that forced him to take a deep breath in, releasing the tension slightly. It took a moment to adjust to the dim lighting as he recognised his surroundings as the walls of St Mungos hospital, and a second longer to realise he wasn’t alone. A hand was limply held in his own and he got a mouthful of blond hair when he turned to see Scorpius sleeping softly next to him. 

Albus let out a sigh of relief, the last of the tension inside his chest disappearing, leaving him with a slight ache. He didn’t remember what happened, but it didn’t matter because Scorpius was safe and sleeping next to him. The last thing Albus remembered was the blinding light of a purple flame and what sounded like Scorpius scream his name. 

From this angle, he couldn’t make out any injuries Scorpius may have, as his body was covered in clothes and his face was angled and buried against Albus’ arm. There was one, however, that Albus could see. Down Scorpius’ forearm on the hand that was holding Albus’ was a long jagged cut, on the verge of scarring. It looked almost like a badly drawn snake, but Albus doubted it was meant to take any shape at all. 

Careful not to wake him – because Merlin knows how much sleep he’s lost the past few weeks – Albus carefully moved his arm to wrap it around him. Scorpius unconsciously shuffled closer, reburying his head in the crook of Albus’ underarm, almost like he belonged there. Despite everything, Albus managed a small smile: a victory smile, because Scorpius was alive and well. 

Albus cringed as the curtain was pulled open and a healer popped in. “Ah, Albus, you’re awake.” 

“Shh,” Albus shushed, pointing at Scorpius and raising his eyebrows. She held her hands up in apology and carried on over with silent footsteps. 

“Sorry,” she whispered. “I knew he was in here, James informed us, but I didn’t think he’d be asleep.”  

Albus thought it strange that they hadn’t taken him back to his own room but found it even stranger that Scorpius hadn’t so much as stirred. Normally, he’s the lightest sleeper ever, the slightest of noises rousing him. He must really be sleep deprived. 

“Why not?” Albus asked. 

She shrugged. “He hasn’t slept a wink since you’ve come in, not including being unconscious. We offered him sleeping potions, but he refused, even though many of his symptoms are from exhaustion.” 

“What’s wrong with him?” Albus asked as she began checking him over, checking his pulse and all that. 

“Are you pain?” Albus shook his head. It wasn’t pain, exactly, just an aching soreness. “There’s a lot ‘wrong’ with him, but mostly it’s boiling down the malnourishment, exhaustion and long-term symptoms of various curses-” 

“Curses?” 

She nodded solemnly, not bothering to elaborate further and leaving Albus in an excruciating suspense. 

“Do you remember what happened?” She asked.  

“I got hit with a curse, I don’t know – what was that? I’ve never seen it before,” his voice was slightly strained, and the healer handed him a glass of water which he struggled to sip due to him being reluctant to move because of Scorpius. 

“It was a popular curse during the war, I haven’t seen it used since. I have treated only one other person with it, and that was your aunt,” she spoke.

“Hermione?” 

The healer nodded. “It’s perfectly treatable, though it can be deadly. You've been lucky, Albus. You’ll be on a few potions for about a week, and for the first few days we’ll warn you off solid foods as you probably won’t be able to stomach them.” 

Albus nodded along with her, already feeling tired about all the information. “And Lily and James?” 

“Both fine, they’re just here, behind their own set of curtains. Your mother’s with Lily and your dad will be back in a couple of hours,” she explained, almost robotically, like she’d said it a million times before. Albus supposed it was like that, though, explaining to confused kids where they were and where their parents were. 

“Where is he?” Albus asked, trying not to sound too annoyed that his father couldn’t even be bothered to stay the night when  all  three of his children were in hospital. 

“At the Ministry, he spent all day here and went straight there to work on Scorpius’ case after you’d all fallen asleep,” she finished up whatever she was checking over and smiled softly. “You just try and get some rest, Albus.”  

Just as she was about to walk out, Albus called after her. “Have you got another blanket?” He looked down at Scorpius, who was shivering slightly in his sleep. “He’s freezing.” She nodded, nipping out and returning few minutes later with a soft cotton blanket. Albus thanked her as she placed it over Scorpius before leaving them to it. 

In his sleep, Scorpius looked like a soft puppy, innocent and pure and unscarred from the world around him. He looked peaceful and content. He looked like a child – exactly how he should look. There were no frown lines, no bags under his eyes, no furious chewing of his lip. He just lay peacefully, quietly, and existed the way he should always have existed: at peace. 

He wasn’t much of a sleeper, never had been. He’s always been plagued with bad nightmares that seemed to only grow worse as he grew himself. Losing his mum, losing Craig, the bullying and now this. It was a miracle Scorpius had fallen asleep at all. So it was nice to watch him, his slight snores that were quiet enough to be cute, watching his chest rising and falling in a steady manner – something that was just as rare these days as well. 

He was… well, he was Scorpius. This version of him wasn’t scared, wasn’t broken, wasn’t hurt. He was fixed, alive, not haunted. Albus would watch him forever if it meant he never had to see the fear behind his silver eyes again. 

Albus shuffled slightly, curling up closer to Scorpius and closing his eyes. Knowing Scorpius was safe and at his side, and that they were together where no harm could come to him, that was enough to allow him to drift into a gentle sleep. 

He was maybe asleep for a couple of hours when he was roused again, the hospital room a little lighter and a soft whimper coming from the side of him. 

Scorpius.  

Albus sat up slightly – the aching in his chest making it a little hard to do – and turned to Scorpius, who wasn’t awake, but was softly murmuring and whimpering, shivering as though he was buried under six feet of snow. Albus shook him gently, saying his name, hoping he wouldn’t scare him out of his nightmare too much. He spoke his name a little louder the second time and Scorpius’ eyes shot open with a gasp. 

Albus watched as Scorpius familiarised himself with his surroundings, a clear sense of disorientation clouding his mind. He sat up slightly, finally meeting eyes with Albus – who was looking at him with a concerned expression – when all his disorientation faded to elation. A small smile appeared on his lips, his eyes bright with wonder, like he couldn’t quite believe Albus was  there … even though he’d fallen asleep in his bed. 

Scorpius never said a word – a sign that should have worried Albus but strangely didn’t. He stared at him for a moment, taking in every feature of his face, before diving in for a hug. Albus groaned slightly, but the pain was nothing compared to finally having Scorpius back and in his arms. He wasn’t the same to hug though. In his arms, he felt like nothing more than a thin sheet of glass, susceptible to breaking and shattering at any point. He was  so  skinny and fragile. Albus was terrified he was going to break him. 

Albus squeezed him slightly and he let out an involuntary hiss that made Albus pull back. 

“I’m so sorry, did I hurt you?” Albus asked, slightly panicked as he frantically checked Scorpius for any injuries. 

Scorpius shook his head, grabbing Albus’ hands to make them stop. “You’re awake,” he pointed out. His voice sounded sore, like it had been scratched by a thousand cats. Albus grabbed the water off the side and handed to him, which he smiled thankfully at and took a sip. “I woke up a-and-” he sniffed, emotions overwhelming him as he dove back in for a hug and broke down sobbing. Albus held him like one would hold a fragile baby bird in need of being nursed back to health. 

He held him until his sobs faded to quiet sniffles, until his body stopped shaking and his heart was not so heavy. They settled back down on the bed, lying in each other’s arms and talking quietly to each other. They mostly skirted around the events of what had happened to them both. Albus explained rather briefly how they found him and what they’d done to get such information. Scorpius didn’t say much at all. He explained who Delphi was and what she wanted, but the actual events of what he went through were left unsaid. 

 

 

James and Lily were allowed to go home that day, but Albus and Scorpius weren’t discharged until the following day. Albus had ten different potions he was required to take three times a day, whereas Scorpius had left with a prescription of pain potions, vitamin potions, calming draughts and dreamless sleep, in case he ever needed it. Though so far, he’d refused to touch the stuff. They hadn’t separated Albus and Scorpius, but instead moved Scorpius into Albus’ room per the request of both their fathers – if it was going to aid recovery, then they would take every opportunity. 

Getting them to go back to separate houses upon discharge was a whole new story. Albus had never seen Scorpius react like that. In all the years he’d known him, Scorpius had never begged for anything – either because Albus was severely weak when it came to giving him whatever he wanted or because Scorpius was rather persuasive. But when he turned to his dad and said, “no, dad, please don’t,” in a voice full of pleading, it shattered Albus’ heart in two. It was raw and deep, full of pain.  

So, when eventually Draco dragged him through the floo and the Potters took Albus and his siblings home too, Albus could do nothing but flop onto the sofa and bury his head in his knees, desperate for the image of Scorpius’ pleading face to leave his brain. He felt the sofa dip next to him, and then his brothers arms were around him. Lily followed suit, cuddling up on the other side and together, the three Potter siblings let themselves sob. They cried for their lives, that they’d made it home with Scorpius alive, but it didn’t come without the consequences of trauma. 

They sat curled up together, under a single blanket their mother had provided for them and watched some awful Halloween kids film they used to love when they were younger. Harry and Ginny had assured them that he and Lily didn’t have to go back to school until they were ready, and luckily their dad was James’ boss, which meant he hadn’t quite lost his job. 

“I didn’t get much chance to speak to him,” Lily said about halfway through their second film. “Was he okay?” 

Albus didn’t need to ask to know who she was talking about. “He’s… quieter than normal. But I suppose that’s almost a given.” 

“Do you know what happened?” 

Albus shook his head. “He asked me not to ask him about it, that if he ever wants to, he’ll talk when he’s ready. I think that’s fair enough.” 

“You know,” James spoke up, “the healers said they don't know how he’s alive.” 

“What did you just say?” Albus asked, sitting up and staring at his brother, anxiously fiddling with the necklace that carried Scorpius’ heartbeat.  

“They said that his injuries suggested that he shouldn’t be alive, it’s a miracle that he is.” 

Albus stared at him in disbelief, waiting for puzzle pieces to connect in his head. “It wasn’t a fault in the magic,” he collapsed back into the sofa. “Scorpius  died. ” Albus stood, pulling the blanket off both his siblings and scrunching it up, throwing it back in his now empty seat. He rushed over to the fireplace and grabbed a handful of floo powder.  

“Where are you going?” 

“Malfoy Manor, I need to see him.” And with a flash of green light, Albus was engulfed in the flames and spat out at the other end of the fireplace. Draco greeted him, seemingly not surprised to see him at all, instead telling him Scorpius was in his room and proceeded to floo call the Potters to let them know Albus got there safely. 

Albus bounded up the stairs, ignoring the ache in his chest that had become all too familiar. He’d only seen Scorpius’ room once, back in third year at his mothers funeral. Albus wished that was the only time he’d seen Scorpius so empty of any light, but it turns out his light remained extinguished after that day. It only came back in flickers on extremely good days, and Albus doubted he’d be having any of those soon. 

He knocked softly on Scorpius’ room, but upon not hearing a response, took it upon himself to enter anyway. Scorpius was sat on the end of his bed, staring at nothing in particular. Albus knew that look, he was away with the fairies, lost in the dimensions of his brilliant mind. 

“Scorpius?” He spoke, softly. Scorpius jumped a mile before realising the intruder was just Albus and he smiled ever-so-slightly. It came almost as fast as it appeared, Albus almost missed it. “What are you doing?” Albus asked, crossing the room and taking a seat next to him. 

“I was – er – going to run a bath, but I… forgot,” he looked around, as if a freshly drawn bath was just going to appear in front of him. 

“I’ll go run it, okay?” He patted Scorpius’ knee before crossing the room into his en-suite bathroom. Albus plugged the bath before turning the hot water on, looking around and finding a bath bomb, throwing that in along with some coconut flavoured bubble bath he’d found. He left the bath to run, going back into Scorpius’ room and sitting next him.  

As soon as he did, Scorpius collapsed into him, clearly feeling weary. Albus suspected he’d been crying again, judging by his bloodshot eyes. Albus simply held him, letting his presence be enough to calm his weary heart.  

After about fifteen minutes, Albus stood to check on his bath, turning the hot water off and adding some cold to it so he wouldn’t burn himself. He went out, leaning on the door frame of the opening to the bathroom. “Your bath’s nearly ready,” he spoke, scaring Scorpius out of yet another reverie he’d pulled himself into. 

Scorpius nodded absentmindedly and stood up, a little unsteady on his feet as he made his way over. Albus caught his arms to steady him, guiding him into the bathroom. 

“I’ll – erm – leave you to it,” Albus spoke, a little awkwardly. 

“No!” He bellowed before catching himself. “Oh, erm, I’m sorry. No that’s stupid, I’m having a bath, it’s weird for you to stay. And you probably don’t want to either so-” 

“I don’t mind,” Albus interrupted, shrugging. They’ve shared a dorm for seven years, it doesn’t leave much down to the imagination. Scorpius nodded slowly, fiddling with the hem of his t-shirt before pulling it over his head. Albus turned around as he stripped down and waited until he heard him settle in the bath to turn back around. 

Albus settled on his knees the other side of the bath, leaning his arms on the edge of the tub and smiled at Scorpius. He reached up, running a hand through his messy, knot-filled hair. Scorpius managed a weak smile, and Albus was worried that would be the only reaction he’d get out of him for a while. 

“Scorpius? Can I ask you something?” Albus asked. Scorpius nodded, looking at him and managing to keep his eye for the first time. The black circles around his eyes had lessoned slightly following the sleep he’d been getting in the hospital, but various parts of his face and neck were still painted with fading purple bruises. “You- did you die?” 

Scorpius opened his mouth a few times before snapping it shut again. “I…” he pursed his lips, clearly thinking about his next words carefully. “I think so… but I didn’t… not really anyway.” He stopped, collecting a bunch of bubbles in his hands before dropping them back into the water. “I saw mum.” 

“Your mum?” 

He nodded. “She was on the swing at the back of the manor. She told me that I had a choice, to go with her or to live, to stay with you.” 

“And… you chose to stay?” 

“No,” he said, shaking his head. “I didn’t get the choice. Delphi brought me back before I could choose.” 

“And… if you did get the choice?” 

“Don’t make me do that, Albus. I couldn’t make it then and I don’t want you to make me now,” he spoke, voice slightly harsh but Albus couldn’t blame him. He shouldn’t have pushed him, he was just curious. 

“I’m sorry,” he whispered. 

“It’s okay,” Scorpius said, smiling at him before diving under the water. He stayed under the water for fifteen seconds – Albus counted – until he came back up for air. He rose to the surface, staying lying down and looking up at the ceiling. He slowly sat up and Albus grabbed some shampoo, pouring a small circle into his palm and rubbing it softly through his hair. Scorpius washed it off himself, then Albus put another load in his hair for extra effectiveness before he washed it out and applied conditioner to smooth out the knots. 

Before he washed it off, Scorpius turned to him. “Does – does your dad still have a pensieve?” 

“I think so, why?” Albus responded, furrowing his brows in confusion. 

“I… I-” he took a deep breath. “In order to try and make me join her side, she manipulated some of my memories and made me re-watch them. I don’t know how to get them back, so I was wondering if I could see your memories of it, to remember them the way they’re supposed to happen,” he looked at him with hopeful eyes, and even though the idea scared Albus a little, there was no way he could say no. 

“Of course, if that will help. I’ll ask my dad,” he assured. “What did she try and change?” 

“Memories of you. She wanted me to think you didn’t like me, to make me feel isolated and alone, but it didn’t work because I knew in my heart that we were friends… you can change thoughts, you can’t change feelings.” And with that, he ducked back under the water. 

That was the first either of them had mentioned  feeling  anything towards each other. Albus hadn’t brought it up yet – the opportunity hadn’t really risen, and Scorpius was clearly struggling to comprehend the events of the past month. It was an unspoken thing between them, but Albus vowed he’d bring it up as soon as he thought Scorpius was ready. He didn’t want to push him into anything just yet. 

Once Scorpius was bathed thoroughly and in fresh pyjamas, Albus realised he’d have to go home at some point. He left Scorpius with a kiss on the forehead and a promise that he could come over the next day to look at the pensieve. Scorpius hugged him tight, making Albus wish he never had to go home. 

That night, lying in his own bed, sleeping on his own for the first time, Albus felt a little lost. In the middle of the night, he crawled out of bed and tiptoed across to his older brothers room, a blanket from Scorpius wrapped around him. He knocked softly and was surprised when James answered.  

“Jamie?” Albus spoke as he walked in. “This is stupid, I know. I’m seventeen, but a lot has happened, and I was wondering if-” 

“Get over here,” James interrupted, gesturing him over. Albus smiled climbing into the bed and closing his eyes. He felt safer with James there, like he had been every night when Albus really needed someone. He, James and Lily curled up together most nights in those hotel rooms, desperate for some sense of normality.  

When he woke in the early morning, he almost wasn’t surprised to see Lily in between them both, just like she had been all those nights. Albus was reminded of the fierce love he had for his siblings, and he grabbed Lily’s hand under the covers, drifting back into a sleep. 

 

Chapter Text

To see Scorpius stumble through the floo the next morning dressed in an oversized green cotton jumper and jeans instead of the joggers he’d been sporting in the hospital was quite the shock to Albus’ system.  He looked incredibly cosy, the sleeves of his jumper covering his hands  where he was wringing them together. He gave Albus a slight smile, briefly looking at him through his fringe that had fallen in front of his eyes.  

Albus was about to hug him when Draco  came gracefully from the fireplace, brushing off the dust from Scorpius before himself. Scorpius flinched when Draco made contact, clearly not expecting  it .  

“Scorpius, Draco, good to see you,”  Harry greeted, coming in from the kitchen   throwing a tea-towel over his shoulder. He’d just finished the washing up from breakfast.  

Draco  smiled at Harry, his hands still on Scorpius’ shoulder who had now relaxed into  his  father’s  grip. “Thank you for letting Scorpius see Albus  today, and to use your pensieve . I’m sure he really appreciates it.”  

“No worries! And Draco, if you’d like to stay, I actually have some updates on the case I’d like for you to hear.” Considering Harry had  arrested  Draco in the early stages of Scorpius’ disappearance with suspicions  that  he  had had something to do with Albus, Lily   and James  disappearing, they seemed rather friendly with each other. Maybe after everything had cleared up, they’d bonded over their missing children. Albus didn’t actually know what happened whilst he was gone, or how Harry and the Auror’s found  where they all were. He'd have to make sure to ask his dad about that another time.

Albus made his way over, gently taking Scorpius in for a hug.  Albus didn’t think he’d ever get used to how fragile and skinny he was now. He always had been,  but this was a whole new level.   

“Did you want to start straight away? Mum’s up there now."  

“SCORPIUS!”  Lily came tumbling into the living room and threw herself at him. T he only reason  he stayed on his feet was because both Albus and Draco managed to catch him. He groaned in  pain,  but he never let go of her, clearly wanting to hug her just as much. “ I’m so glad you’re okay and I’m so sorry I could n’t  see you in hospital,” she said as she pulled away . “How are you feeling?”  

A little sore , but a lot better,” he spoke, his voice still a little raspy.  “How about you?”  

“I’m good,” she assured, smiling brightly at him. His little sister was such a bright spark. Albus wo ndered  if anything could ever dull her light. He once thought the same about Scorpius.  

Albus  grabbed Scorpius’ hand, who flinched slightly at the contact, and tugged, guiding him away from Lily  and up the stairs. Scorpius waved goodbye to her and to his dad, allowing himself to be pulled away , slightly  glad to be getting out of that situation.  

Ginny was sat waiting for he and Scorpius in his dads' study, where the pensieve was kept for safe keeping. Albus had never seen it be used as it was always be hind  lock and key and many, many spells. It was just like the pictures he’d seen in books when they learn ed  about them last year , a stone base intricately carved with various symbols that no doubt Scorpius knew all the meanings to.  

Ginny embraced Scor pius as he entered, which he melted into straight away. That’s what a mother's hug could do.  

“So, ” Ginny started, brandishing her wand, “which memory am I getting from Al?”  Both Potters looked at Scorpius expectedly, but he was staring at the pensieve with a  slightly terrified look,  clearly getting lost inside his own head. When his breathing started to elevate, Albus stepped in. He gently took Scorpius’ arm and led him away .  

“Hey, it’s okay, we don’t have to do this if you ’re not ready,” Albus assured, taking both of Scorpius’ cheeks in his hands, if only so Scorpius will look at him.  

“No, I want to,” Scorpius said, finally deciding to look him in the eye for a brief second.  

You said they were memories of us?” He nodded. “Well, I’m right here. You know they aren’t real.”  

“I know,” Scorpius took a deep breath and looked back at Albus properly this time. “I just need to see them to sort them out in my head because it’s a fucking mess right now,” he gestured vaguely to his  head.  

Albus smiled slightly, biting down a smirk. “Did Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy just  swear?”  

“It’s been a slightly weird time for me,” he replied, but there was the ghost of smile on his lips and Albus would take that as a win.  “I’ll be fine,” he assured. They both went back over to Ginny, who smiled kindly. “There was one memory in our second year, I was being bullied in the common room and Albus was studying. He didn’t see it  happen,  but I went to him after, remember?”  He asked Albus.  

“I remember,” Albus assured. He turned to his mum and explained it a bit  clearer,  so she’d be able to reach for it.  

“Okay, you ready? I haven’t done this much, so you’ll have to trust me,” she said to Albus, placing a hand on his shoulder.  

He smiled reassuringly at her. “I trust you, mum.”  They shared a smile before she put the tip of her wand to his forehead and fished around for the memory  she was looking for. Albus brought it to the surface for her, feeling strange as the tugging sensation  pulled the memory from his head. She placed it in the pensieve and made way for the boys to go in. Scorpius took Albus’ outstretched hand and together they dove into the memory.  

Albus  fell to the floor when they landed, accidentally pulling Scorpius with him who landed on top of him with an “ oomph,” Scorpius  slowly rolled off him, groaning slightly and a pang of sorrow soared through Albus. He immediately apologised  and offered to help him up, which Scorpius took gratefully. Albus noticed how he didn’t let go of Albus’ hand even after they’d both stood up.   

"Albus!" Scorpius' voice, though a much younger version back when his voice was a little higher. Albus watched the younger version of himself stand up to greet a sobbing Scorpius, leaning more to one side due to his twisted ankle.  

"What happened?" Memory-Albus asked, letting memory-Scorpius lean on him for support. Scorpius moved forward, pulling Albus with him, to get a closer look.  

"Th-they made me jump for my books and then kicked my ankle," memory-Scorpius sobbed, letting Albus pull him in for a hug. Over his shoulder, memory-Albus looked at the bullies with daggers in his eyes. If looks could kill, they'd be six feet under. Albus turned to watch the bullies, still joking about and throwing Scorpius' book that he never got back. Albus looked at Scorpius, but he was staring at memory-Albus-and-Scorpius with tears in his eyes and sniffed slightly.  

Albus squeezed his hand, a simple gesture letting him know he was there.  

"I wish I could remember it like this," he spoke softly, wiping the tear with his free hand.   

"I'll be here to make sure you always remember," Albus assured. Scorpius leaned into him, watching the smaller version of themselves comfort each other like they always had. That was their friendship, it’s how they worked.   

From the very first day they met, they had always tried to protect each other. Maybe it was because their bond connected them on a deeper level than most friends, or maybe it was just because they both knew the cruelty of the world and wished to protect each other from it. Albus wasn’t sure if he could protect Scorpius anymore. He’d seen the worst of what a person could do. The fact that he’s here, he’s still standing, only showcases his quiet, determined bravery.  

“Hey,” memory-Albus said, pulling out of the hug. “Forget about them, you’ve got me, right?” Memory-Scorpius nodded, wiping his tears with his sleeve. “We’ll always be friends, won’t we?”  

“Always,” Memory-Scorpius assured, a weak smile on his face, but a smile nonetheless.   

The memory came to an end as Albus pulled Scorpius back into a hug, and they found themselves back in his dad’s office. Scorpius’ face was red and tear-stained but in his eyes, there seemed to be a little bit of relief.   

There was a quiet moment where no one knew exactly what to say. Scorpius hadn’t spoken a word about what Delphi did, not in detail anyway. Albus nor Ginny had any idea how that memory had been altered for him or how he was dealing with seeing the new (or old) version.   

“I... erm, I – I need a moment,” Scorpius said before quickly exiting the office.   

Albus turned to his mum, about to speak up but she got there first. “Go on, he needs you. I’ll get your father to start on some lunch.” She gave Albus a brief hug and a kiss on his temple.  

“No solids remember,” Albus reminded.  

“I know, he’ll make his homemade soup. He’ll do some for Scorpius too.”  

“He’s not really eating well,” Albus said, hanging his head. Just after Albus had woken up, they tried to get them both to eat. Albus was fine, but Scorpius protested for a long time before relenting, only to throw his food back up a few moments later. And he knows he hasn’t eaten much since, simply because he’s struggling to keep anything down.  

“I’ll do him some up anyway, he’ll disappear soon,” she half-joked, knowing it wasn’t going to land. Ginny locked away the pensieve whilst Albus went to find where Scorpius had disappeared to. He found him in Albus’ room, staring at a piece of paper on the desk and quietly sniffling. Albus tried not to startle him as he entered, so he was as quiet as possible whilst also letting him know he was there.  

Albus watched him for a moment as his eyes flicked across the piece of parchment on his desk, reading slower than he usually did whilst scrunching his eyes in pain. He looked... defeated, with his shoulders slumped and his head hung low. He squeezed the bridge of his nose briefly, closing his eyes and just as Albus was about to ask if he was okay, Scorpius stopped his actions to pick up the piece of parchment.  

“You kept this?” Albus realised it was the letter he’d received from Scorpius the day he went missing. The day his life turned upside down. He’d read it almost every night, so much he now had it committed to memory.  

“Of course I did,” Albus responded, stepping further into the room. He wanted to go up to him and hug him, but weren’t sure if he wanted that. Sometimes, Scorpius hated being touched. Usually if he was going through a bad spell of insecurities about himself and felt like he didn’t deserve sympathy or a hug. Albus thought he always deserved a hug.  

“You never mentioned it.” Albus wondered which part he meant, but could take a good guess that it was about the unspoken ‘L’ word hanging between them since they’d been reunited. “But, you’re still here. That must mean you don’t hate me,” he let out a self-deprecating laugh.  

“I don’t think I ever could,” Albus assured.  

Scorpius turned to face him now, still scrunching his eyes. Albus crossed the room to close the curtains, knowing it was the light that was bothering him. The healers said it might become a problem due to his prolonged period of time in the dark. His eyes may adjust back to normal light, but he may also suffer from headaches, migraines and floaters for the rest of his life. Once the room was a little darker, Scorpius nodded his head in a thank you.  

“Albus,” he began, sitting on the end of Albus’ bed. Albus followed suit. “Have you ever had someone whom who love so much that losing them isn’t an option, that being friends is better than being nothing at all?”  

He should have known this moment was coming, after all, he’d known of Scorpius’ feelings for a while and now he was telling him exactly why he’d never told him before. Because he was scared, exactly like Albus had been. Scorpius had been the brave one, and now it was time for Albus to be brave.  

“Yeah,” he coughed, “I have.”  

He smiled sadly and hung his head, refusing to meet Albus’ eye any longer. “She must be pretty.”  

Albus chuckled, “he is.”  

“And special.”  

“Special enough for me to travel the country, basically on foot, to find.” Albus watched as a small smile crept across his face, but he still refused to look up. Albus wished he would. He’d missed his smile. He hasn’t seen a genuine one in a long time, most of them are faked or forced. But this one seemed to mean something. “Scorpius?”  

“Hm?”  

“Look at me,” he requested.  

Scorpius did, but the moment he did, his smile dropped. “You don’t... you can’t possibly mean it,” he spoke, almost a whisper.  

“Why not?”  

I - because... I’m not worth it. I bring darkness everywhere I  go,  and you can’t love darkness. No one can.” He sounded so defeated, so hurt. Whatever had happened had scarred him deeply and Albus was wondering if he’d ever make it out the other end. Albus promised himself, and made a silent promise to Scorpius, that he would always remind him that he carries nothing but the light.  

“You don’t bring an ounce of darkness anywhere, you’ve always been my brightest shining light,” Albus assured, reaching over to grab one of his hands.  

“Really?”  

“Scorpius, I can’t stop the rain from falling, or your heart from aching. I can’t stop your hands from shaking or your breath from wheezing. I can’t do a lot of things, but I can promise you that I will love you for the rest of my life.”  

“Al-”  

“I mean it,” he pressed on, not willing to hear Scorpius put himself down for another moment. Scorpius – finally – looked at him, grey eyes boring into Albus’ green. A look of such intensity and desire, yet full of pain and sorrow. Scorpius’ eyes were once a whirling snowstorm so full of light and joy, and now they were a summer storm showcasing the horrors he’s seen. Those grey eyes were haunted by ghosts and things much worse than ghosts.  

The world was never kind, not to him. It seemed to be out to get him from the moment he was born, to throw its worst at him and watch him break. Experiencing a world like that would normally break someone down to anger and pain, but he remained kind. He's still kind, even after everything. He’s still good, even after everything.  

And Albus had never been more in love with him.  

He shuffled closer, brushing their thighs together and waited a beat for Scorpius to move away. He didn’t. He then placed one hand on Scorpius’ thigh and the other on his cheek. Scorpius remained unmoving, staring at Albus like he couldn’t quite believe what was going to happen next. They moved towards each other slowly, the only sound in the quiet room was their breath between them.  

And then their lips met.  

Something inside of Albus exploded, releasing butterflies in his stomach. Scorpius’ lips were soft and slightly chapped from his incessant chewing that Albus both hated and found endearing. They melted into each other, shuffling as close together as possible, hands on cheeks and waists and pulling the other closer, deepening the kiss and their lifelong bond.  

Albus never – ever – wanted to kiss anyone else in the entire world. Scorpius was  his  person; he always had been from the moment they met. Even back then, Albus knew they would spend the rest of their lives together whether it was as friends or something more. But they’d always been something more, they just didn’t know it. And now it was so clear.  

It was clear as a crystal that this was how it was supposed to be. Lips on lips, hands on waists, thighs touching thighs. They fit together like a key in a lock; two sides of the same coin; born to be different yet destined to be together. Scorpius broke the kiss for a moment, breathless and utterly beautiful, just to stare at Albus. A spark had returned to his enchanting silver eyes. And then his lips were back on Albus’ in a soft and gentle kiss. Scorpius was like that, you see, soft and gentle.  

Albus lost his hands in Scorpius’ impossibly soft hair, tangling his fingers in the ends. Scorpius let out a tiny moan against his lips, which made Albus smile slightly, wishing to hear that noise come out of him again.  

“I love you,” Scorpius murmured, his lips an achingly short distance from Albus’. The way he said it – like he could no longer hold it in – sent fireworks through Albus’ bones.  

“I love you, my beautiful, kind soul.”  

“AL! SCORPIUS!”  

They looked at each other, slightly alarmed about what just happened and the fact that they’d made out when  both  their parents are simply downstairs. Albus shouted back that they were coming and stood up, offering a hand to Scorpius. He took it and Albus started making his way to the door, but Scorpius stopped.  

“Wait, Albus, what are we doing? Are we going to talk about what just happened or are we just going to walk downstairs holding hands and let my father have a heart attack and yours probably just die on the spot? And James and Lily will no doubt tease us whilst your mum stands with a really proud smile on her face like she knew this would happen since we were eleven?”  

Albus stared at him with an amused smile and his eyebrows raised. That’s the most Scorpius has been like  Scorpius  since his return. And damn, Albus had missed that so much.  

Albus was going to make a sassy remark, but saw the genuine fear in Scorpius’ eyes and decided against it. “I’m not officially out, but they probably suspect, and James and Lily know how I feel about you. If you want to go down there and be my... my boyfriend, then I’m happy with that.”  

“Boyfriend?” Scorpius squeaked. Then he paused and took a moment. “Boyfriend,” he said again, less startled and more content. “I like that... I would like that – if you would too, of course.”  

“Scorpius, I just confessed my love for and kissed you, I think it’s fair to say I would also like the boyfriend title,” Albus joked, rolling his eyes.  

Scorpius laughed – actually  laughed –  for the first time and the sound was like music to his ears. Albus wrapped his arms around his waist and kissed him again, simply because he could. Then he took Scorpius’ hand and led him downstairs.   

He half-expected someone to point it out straight away, but no one did. Lily smiled softly and James nodded his head, but no one  said  anything. They simply all sat at the dining table with a bowl of soup each and an array of different types of bread in the centre that Albus, painfully, could not touch.  

Scorpius stared at his soup for a long time, stirring it with the spoon but never eating any of it. Both Albus and Draco were watching him closely, waiting for him to eat something – even just a small amount. Albus could almost see the internal battle going on in his mind every time he scoops some up on his spoon but puts it back a moment later with a sigh.   

It was a near-silent meal, mostly because no one knew what to say. Albus didn’t want to speak up and ask Scorpius to eat because he knew Scorpius was less likely to eat with the attention on him and that if he was going to do it, he’d do it in his own time. Draco seemed to think the same as he refused to speak up as well.   

It wasn’t until everyone - or nearly everyone – was finished when Harry spoke up. “Scorpius, I actually have something for you.”  

“Me?” Scorpius said, looking up from his bowl with his brows furrowed and lips pouted. Albus had to stop himself from thinking how cute he looked.  

“Yes,” Harry got up from the table and disappeared for a moment upstairs. Scorpius looked at Albus confused, silently asking what could he possibly have and Albus shrugged. He had no idea. “I believe this belongs to you,” Harry said, holding out Scorpius’ wand.  

“My wand?” He asked, standing up and taking it from him, shocked that he’s able to see it again.  

“We did a raid of the Rowle Manor yesterday and came across it. I was going to put it into evidence, then I remembered Albus telling me that you have carvings on it, and I always knew you had a pretty unique wand so figured it must be yours and that you’d want it back.”  

Albus noticed how Scorpius’ hand shook as he examined his wand, like he was looking for any kind of damage that might have come to it. He ran his fingers over the carvings, individual tally marks put there by Scorpius himself. He thanked Harry before sitting back down, leaving his wand on the table and looked to his dad.  

“Saves us a trip to Diagon before I go back to school,” he spoke.  

“When are you going back?” Ginny asked, more out curiosity over anything.  

“Scorpius wants to go back on Monday, but I’m trying to convince him to have more time to recover,” Draco answered for him, giving him a side-eye.  

“More time to recover means less time for N.E.W.Ts! Dad, if I want to get onto the St Mungos Healing Programme next year, I have to catch up as quickly as possible, I will not be held back a year!” He protested. It seems like he and his dad have had this conversation already.  

“Scorpius-”  

“I’m going back to school on Monday.”  

“Then so am I,” Albus said, looking at his parents.  

“Me too,” Lily agreed, smiling softly at them both.  

Draco, Harry and Ginny looked between their children and then at each other before sighing. “Very well,” his dad said. “We’ll get in contact with McGonagall and let her know.”  

Albus knew exactly what Scorpius was doing. He was going to throw himself into schoolwork to try and forget about the actual demons in his brain. It’s how he always dealt with trauma, and even though it’s not particularly healthy, Albus will let him do it until it’s gets dangerous. Until he starts sacrificing sleep and food for it which - judging by the way he’s currently going – could happen rather quickly.  

Under the table, Albus reached over and grabbed Scorpius’ hand, giving it a quick squeeze. Scorpius gave him a soft, sad smile and went back to twirling his soup with his spoon.  

Chapter Text

Scorpius arrived at the Potters earlier than he had arranged with Albus for multiple reasons. First, he hadn’t slept well – tossed and turned all night as he had been doing most nights – and decided around four in the morning to get up and play the piano in the ball room. But then he thought of his mother and went on a spiral of how much he missed her. Second, his dad had headed to the Ministry with Albus’ dad rather early to work on something together. Third, he was lonely and being without Albus was like missing his right arm, so he decided to head over.  

He did not expect Albus - of all of the Potters – to be the one awake and dressed  in  comfy joggers and a jumper at seven-thirty in the morning. He didn’t appear to hear him enter, so Scorpius made sure to cough slightly as to not startle him. Albus jumped anyway, but as soon as he turned to face him a smile grew on his face.  

“Scor! You’re... very early,” he greeted, closing the distance between them quickly and giving him a big hug. Scorpius wasn’t as sore anymore, the potions he was taking for his injuries slowly doing their job. The headaches hadn't gone though, and he suspected they wouldn't for a while. He and Albus had been released from the hospital five days ago, and were set to head back to Hogwarts with Lily as soon as the weekend was up.  

“I know, I’m sorry,” he muttered,  burying  his head in  Albus’  neck.   

“I don’t think I can be mad about seeing you,” he pulled away just enough to give him a peck on his lips. Albus pulled away and went back over to the cupboards, pulling out a few different potions. Scorpius went up behind him, eyeing them all. There were ten different ones all spread out on the counter. Scorpius wrapped his arms around Albus from behind, resting his chin on his shoulder.  

“Are these your potions?” He asked.  

“Yep, and they taste disgusting,” he joked, slightly laughing before uncapping the first one. Scorpius pulled away and leaned up against the counter.  

“I didn’t realise there were so many.”  

“Don’t do that," Albus said after taking the first one and uncapping the second.   

“Do what?”  

“Sound so guilty, it’s not your fault, Scorpius.”   

Scorpius hung his head, kicking the toe of one foot against his other. How could he not feel guilty? Albus wouldn’t have been injured if Scorpius hadn’t somehow gotten himself in the situation that he did. Or maybe if he never sent that letter then Albus wouldn’t have come looking for him and all three of the Potter children would have been safe. He can’t not blame himself because it is his fault, no matter how much Albus tries to tell him otherwise.  

“Hey,” Albus said, placing a finger under his chin to lift his head up. “Stop that, it’s not your fault okay?”  

Scorpius forced a smile at him, stuck for words that wouldn’t be a lie. He didn’t want to lie to Albus and tell him that he believed him or that he was fine. Albus didn’t deserve to be lied to. Albus pecked his lips again before turning back to his potions, knowing that it was a subject Scorpius clearly wasn’t up for talking about. Much like all the other things that are touchy with him at the moment.  

“I can eat solids again,” Albus said, a small smile on his lips. “As of yesterday, but I only had a few biscuits just to make sure. But I was planning on having eggs on toast this morning, did you want some?”  

“I... okay,” he agreed. Albus smiled wider because even though Scorpius had been having trouble eating, the fact that he was willing to try was a bonus.  

Scorpius took a seat at the table whilst Albus got to work making breakfast. Albus talked a lot whilst cooking, and Scorpius couldn’t help but think how their roles had been reversed. It was usually Scorpius who talked Albus’ ear off, going off on tangents about things that don’t really mean a thing. It was nice to hear Albus take on that role for once. His voice was surprisingly calming, like the ocean waves on a cool summers day.  

Scorpius watched him work. He moved more smoothly on his feet than he had been the past few days and was clearly making a full recovery – thankfully. Every now and again he’d turn to meet  Scorpius’  eye and smile and Scorpius’ heart would somersault over and over every time.   

Despite everything, he felt lucky. Lucky to be  alive,  lucky Albus and his siblings were alive, lucky that he had Albus as his own.  Despite  everything.  

Albus placed a plate in front of him coupled with a kiss on the crown of his head. “Did you manage to eat much yesterday?” He asked. He knew, only because Scorpius had been spending every day at the Potters going through Albus’ memories. They had been through most of them, little moments like when Scorpius tried out for the Quidditch team and Albus was there cheering him on, or when Scorpius was in the hospital wing and Albus visited every day. In Scorpius' head, Albus wasn't present in any of those, and if he was he would be insulting him or ignoring him. Seeing them from Albus' point of view, knowing that what was in his head wasn't real, was relieving. They only had one left, the most important one, fourth year at Gobstones Club.  

“I ate a little bit of dinner and managed to keep it down,” he said, cutting up a small piece of toast and dipping it in the egg yolk.  

“That’s good, progress, right?” Scorpius nodded, taking a deep breath before eating the food on the end of his fork. Albus smiled sadly at him before tucking into his own.  

 

#  

 

“Ugh, Malfoy, are you serious?” The high-pitched squeal could only belong to one person – Polly Chapman. Albus watched the memory-version of himself look over to where she and memory-Scorpius were playing Gobstones just in time to see her throwing her Gobstones  balls at him. He managed to avoid most of them, but a couple hit him rather harshly. Memory-Albus stood and stormed over ready to give her a piece of his mind.  

Next to him, Scorpius tensed up, putting a slight pressure on his hand that he was holding. Albus wondered if he was thinking about the memory he now has of this time. He eased slightly though when memory-Albus stood in front of Scorpius and sent Polly a particularly nasty snarl. Memory-Albus pulled memory-Scorpius away to the refreshments table and picked up a pumpkin juice.  

“Are you okay?” He heard himself say and memory-Scorpius nodded in response. Polly, however, was not done. She stormed over to them and started, rather loudly, shouting at them. Albus remembers it well and to this day he still doesn’t know what he found so funny. Maybe it was the way Polly looked as if smoke was about to emit from her ears like she’d had too many Pepper Imps, but he burst out laughing, spitting his pumpkin juice all over her shoes.  

As soon as it happened, memory-Scorpius burst out laughing too. Albus was watching him, watching the light in his eyes and how he was watching Albus try and work through his laughing and coughing fit. He didn’t know how he’d missed it, but memory-Scorpius was looking at him and there was only one word he could use to describe it: love.  

They were pulled from the memory after that and landed back into Harry’s office. Ginny was waiting for them, smiling when she saw the look on both of their faces. Scorpius pulled him into a hug and Albus melted into him.  

“Is that everything?” Ginny asked.  

Scorpius nodded, “that was the last one.”   

“I hope it's helped, Scorpius,” she said, coming over to hug him as well. Scorpius relaxed into her embrace, nodding his head slightly. It did help, a little at least, Albus could see it in his eyes. The relief that his memories weren’t real. “I’ll leave you boys to it,” she said, locking up the pensieve  again and squeezing Scorpius’ arm one last time before retreating out of the room.  

“There’s something I want to tell you,” Albus said once they were alone. A flash of worry crossed his face which disappeared when Albus smiled. “Nothing bad. You said that moment was the moment you realised you loved me, right?” He nodded. “It was for me too. Seeing you laugh like that, knowing I was the one who made you laugh, I realised then I loved you and always wanted to make you happy.”  

And for some reason Scorpius started laughing – a genuine laugh, full of happiness and joy and even though Albus was confused it warmed his heart. It was like that very first time when he  realised  he was in love, that childlike laugh was the start of it all. And after everything he’d been through, Albus loved that he could still make him laugh. That Scorpius could still find it in him to laugh.  

“Are you telling me,” Scorpius began, having to break his words up to continue his giggles, “that I could have been kissing you since our fourth year if we just sucked it up and told each other earlier? How are we so stupid, Albus?” He continued and Albus started laughing with him until they were both in a fit of giggles on the floor.   

Scorpius’ giggles slowed down and he shuffled over, throwing his legs around Albus so he was sitting in his lap. “I could have been doing this for two years already,” Scorpius whispered in his ear before trailing kisses along his jaw until he met his mouth in a hungry, captivating kiss. Albus wrapped his arms around his waist and pulled him impossibly close, desperate for them to be as close as possible.  

“We really were stupid,” Albus muttered against his lips before getting lost, once again, to the lips of Scorpius Malfoy. His best friend, the love of his life, his soulmate.  

 

#  

 

Monday came faster than Albus would have liked. He couldn’t say he was particularly excited about going back to Hogwarts, but it’s what Scorpius wanted. Like he had every day since the hospital, Scorpius arrived at the Potters that morning with all his luggage, Draco following shortly behind. He greeted Albus with a hug before his attention was forced to Lily.  

“Can you do my hair, please?” Lily pleaded, holding a hairbrush and two hair bobbles in her hand.   

“Of course, Rapunzel,” he joked, gesturing for her to sit down. Draco left to talk to Harry and Ginny in the kitchen, who had both taken the day off to see the kids off to school. James came up next to Albus, dressed in his Auror uniform ready for his first day back, sipping a coffee.  

“Will you three be okay?” James asked.  

Albus stood watching Scorpius braiding Lily’s hair with a small smile but sad eyes and felt a pang in his heart. He’s ripped to every edge, devoid of any and all colour, yet he’s still a masterpiece destined for museums.  

“I think so,” he assured. “Will you?”  

James looked at him, wrapping his arm around him and pulling him in for half a hug. “Of course, little bro.” James smiled so widely that Albus almost believed him. None of them were going to be okay, at least not yet. It would take some time.   

James was stuck on desk duty due to his injuries, which Albus knew he was annoyed about. Lily wakes nearly every night from a nightmare and now she’ll have to sleep without her brothers next to her. Albus wakes every morning terrified Scorpius will be gone again. As for Scorpius... well, there was damage beyond repair deep inside him.   

“Al, James!” Scorpius said, gesturing them over. He’d finished braiding Lily’s hair and she stood up, hugging him from his side. James and Albus joined them, James slightly clapping him on the shoulder. “I just wanted to say thank you. To all of you. You all got hurt and put your life in danger for  me , and honestly, I still can’t figure out why but I’m glad you did. And I’m glad you got there when you did, I was beginning to lose hope.”  

“Scorp, we did it for you. We all love you in our own weird ways. You’re a good kid, and you shouldn’t have been put through that,” James said.  

“And we know you’d do the exact same for us,” Lily added, giving him a tight squeeze. Scorpius squeezed her back.   

“Come here,  you  little blond weirdo,” James said fondly, pulling Scorpius away from Lily and embraced him a big hug. Scorpius chuckled slightly and Albus heard him whisper another thank you in James’ ear. “I bet he hasn’t told you, has he?” James said, an amused smile on his face when they pulled away.  

“Who hasn’t told me what?”   

“Little Albie here was blond! Blond, Scorpius!”  

Scorpius gaped, “wait, what?” He looked at Albus like he was trying to figure out a particularly hard riddle, head cocked to the side and his bottom lip pulled between his teeth. “You know, I kind of like that.” James and Lily started laughing whilst Albus groaned in protest.  

“No, no you don’t,” Albus said, begging for the image to leave his own mind and Scorpius’.   

“Did you at least get a picture for me?” Scorpius asked James.  

“Sadly, no,” he shook his head, disappointed at himself for not documenting the moment. Scorpius pouted and looked back at Albus. “Right, I better be off,” James said. He embraced them all once again before shouting a goodbye to their mum and dad and disappearing in the  floo .  

Harry, Ginny and Draco emerged from the kitchen asking a thousand and one questions. Only when all three kids answered did they decide it was time to go. Lily went first with her luggage followed by Ginny, who was carrying some of Lily’s as well. Then Scorpius, followed by Draco, Albus and Harry.   

Once in McGonagall’s office, she welcomed them all back, handing them their yearly timetables and explaining that they’d have to catch up on the six weeks of work they’ve missed. Their teachers were all aware of the situation, as well as the school healer who would be keeping an eye on them and their injuries until they’re fully recovered.  

They finished talking to McGonagall with just enough time to throw their things in their dorms and make it to second period. One by one they said goodbye to their parents before exiting McGonagall’s office. Being back at Hogwarts was strange. After everything they’d been through, school hardly seemed to matter.  

Lily gave them a both a big hug, promising to see them at lunch before hurrying off to the Gryffindor common room, leaving Albus and Scorpius alone for the first time that day. The walk to the common room was quiet and Albus could tell there was a thousand thoughts running through Scorpius’ mind, ranging from school work to bullies to the events of the past six weeks. He was still struggling to comprehend it all – as was Albus. After everything, this seemed too normal. And maybe that was what they needed, but it didn’t feel right.  

They dropped their luggage off and changed quickly into their school uniform before heading back up the stairs to Charms class. Scorpius grabbed his hand on the walk which Albus was happy about. He really needed that – Scorpius holding his hand seemed more normal than walking the corridors of Hogwarts.  

They were being talked about. Every corner they turned all eyes were attracted to them, as were the whispers. Scorpius kept his head down but Albus couldn’t help but try and listen in. He didn’t catch most of what anyone was saying, but most seemed shocked to see them so soon.  

Once at Charms, they entered the classroom and took a seat at the back. Usually Scorpius wanted to be at the front, always eager and ready to learn, but this time he dragged Albus to the back. Professor Flitwick gave them a nod and smile when he entered the classroom, though it was probably more directed at Scorpius – he always had been Flitwick’s favourite student. It was Flitwick who helped Scorpius create the charm for the necklaces they both wore.  

Scorpius, who had been rummaging through his bag, let out a muffled swear word before turning to Albus. “I forgot my Charms book, can we share?” That, to Albus, should have been the first sign that Scorpius might not have been quite ready to come back to school.  

“Of course,” he assured, reaching under the table to take his hand, giving it a gentle squeeze.   

“Welcome, class!” Flitwick began, standing on his desk at the front of the classroom. “New week, new spell! Today, we’re working on your non-verbal casting of the  Reductor Curse  that you learned last year. Now, does anyone want to come and demonstrate the curse verbally?”  

There were a few  show  of hands, but Flitwick must have wanted a specific hand up because he turned to Albus and Scorpius. Scorpius was normally happy to demonstrate his skills – he is top of all his classes and an all-round genius. Scorpius slouched slightly in his seat, hoping that he wouldn’t be picked on. Even Albus was secretly wishing Flitwick would choose him over Scorpius.  

“Mr. Malfoy? You’re rather good at this spell,” Flitwick said hopefully.   

Scorpius nodded his head slowly, looking at Albus for a brief moment before standing up and making his way down to the clearing in the middle of the classroom. The Charms classroom was designed specifically to practice spells on dummies in the centre, the chairs surrounding it like an auditorium for the best views.  

Once positioned at a decent distance from the object he was to cast the charm on, Scorpius took a deep breath and held his wand out. But even from the back of the classroom Albus could tell something was off. His left hand – his wand hand - was shaking relentlessly, to the point where there was no way he could perform the charm smoothly.   

Scorpius noticed himself and he took another deep breath, squinting his eyes shut for a moment. He had a headache as well which was no doubt distracting. Around Scorpius, people were starting to whisper. Professor Flitwick tried to encourage him with kind words, but it never stopped the shaking of his hands. After a while, Scorpius decided to go for it.  

Reducto ,” he said, loud and clear, but his magic didn’t seem to cooperate. There was a blue light that spluttered from the end of his wand, but went off in all different directions. A book shattered to pieces, a goblet of water smashed, and a candle fell from the wall. There  were  a few screams from students before the dust settled and most burst out laughing at his failed attempt.  

Scorpius wasted no time in fleeing the classroom.  

Chapter Text

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.” 

“Scorpius, I-” 

“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.” 

“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.  

“Al?” 

“Hmm?” 

“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.