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Forgotten Secrets

Chapter Text

Wherein students seek to be distracted

Monday - September 26

 

Rose cautiously peeked down the corridor. Assuring herself there was no one in sight, she carefully closed the portrait hole and hurried out into the dark, shadowy expanse of the corridor.

Her nighttime jaunts – though few – were her favorite, and most effective, method of keeping her sanity in check. Long nights of revising left her restless and wide awake on the nights she had free. In typical Rose fashion, if she couldn’t will herself to sleep she was determined to find a productive way to deal with her tireless thoughts brought on by her rigorous revising.

Shifting shadows in the torchlight alerted her to Mrs. Norris’ presence somewhere ahead of her. Rose quickly stepped into the dark space behind a suit of armor. Mrs. Norris paused, but after a heart-freezing moment the cat continued on into the night. Rose knew it would be the only one to pass by her tonight. It was too late for the prefects to be out patrolling.

Rose paced in front of a rather hideous tapestry until it rolled up, revealing an archway. The small, cozy room had warm wooden floors, a perfectly squishy sofa, and a fire roaring cheerily in a brick fireplace. Rose’s tried and true remedy for insomnia was curling up on the sofa and knitting until she fell asleep. This room was Rose’s favorite place to spend her sleepless nights. Maybe even her favorite place of all.

--

Little did she know, Rose was not the only one who depended on the quiet calm of late-night activity to break up the endless monotony of classes and studying.

Scorpius Malfoy watched in dismay as Rose snuck into the Room of Requirement. It seemed his plans for the night had been disrupted.

Annoyed, he turned on his heel and stalked in the direction of the prefect’s bathroom. Though not his first choice, a long soak would undoubtedly alleviate the stress and tension that had been building in his shoulders the past week.

Scorpius tried to be angry with Rose. He really did. But as he had discovered years ago, his anger towards this particular redhead could never stick. As a Malfoy certain things were expected of him, so of course he gave it his all in pretending he despised her and her numerous relatives, but his heart was never really in it.

The Weasley clan seemed decent enough, though incredibly annoying and loud. Sometimes Scorpius wondered, almost wistfully, what it would be like to have a large family that cared for each other as intensely as the Weasleys did. He rarely saw his Greengrass cousins and they certainly didn’t want anything to do with him.

Scorpius could always muster up mild annoyance when it came to a Weasley-Potter, but never when it was Rose. He wasn’t quite sure what it was about her that intrigued him so much. It might be her easygoing smile, her infectious laugh, or her frustrating ability to best him in every subject. Either way, Scorpius could never hate her.

It didn’t used to bother him so much, but over the past year or so he began to notice more things about Rose, less innocent things. How beautiful her hair was. How nice she looked that one time when she wore a dress. It was entirely too distracting.

Don’t get him wrong, this wasn’t an all-consuming obsession, it was more of an…appreciation.

Scorpius sometimes pondered, late at night when his mind kept him up going over even the most ridiculous thoughts, what it would be like if their families weren’t perpetually at odds with each other. He’d long thought his appreciation was likely only a result of the forbidden nature of Rose. If she wasn’t off limits, maybe he wouldn’t want her at all. That’s how he convinced himself any feelings or desires for Rose he hid deep inside were meaningless. Otherwise he’d never sleep at all, instead lying awake just wondering what if? He sighed, sinking deeper into the thick, warm bubbles.

--

Tuesday - September 27

Rose rubbed her eyes tiredly. Though her late night trek was immensely relaxing, it left her exhausted. She took the quill in her hand again and stared at the board, determined not to let a lack of sleep affect the quality of her notes.

It seemed to be an exercise in futility as her eyes and thoughts wandered away from the lesson once more. She gave up this time and decided that Albus’ notes would have to do. They would be more detailed than she could ever hope to write, even on good day. Rose was big enough to admit that History of Magic was not her strongest subject.

Rose’s thoughts weren’t terribly exciting, but then, neither was Professor Binns’ lecture about yet another era of the Giant Wars. She pondered her schedule of classes and studying over the next week to see if she could squeeze in another trip to the Room of Requirement. Tonight might work. But only if she finished her Herbology essay and did at least two of the Arithmancy problems.

Rose glanced at her watch and realized the class would be over in a matter of minutes. She smiled to herself in anticipation of lunch and set about gathering her things. Rose glanced to the window to check the weather, dreary, as usual. Looking back she somehow caught the eye of Scorpius Malfoy. He turned away quickly, his face decidedly pinker.

‘But that can’t be right, could it?’ She fretted. Malfoy had never made his distaste for anything Potter or Weasley a secret. ‘Just an accident, there was no reason he’d be looking at me. Unless - do I have ink on my face?’ She surreptitiously rubbed her nose just in case.

Rose brushed the accidental eye contact aside and tried to remember why she had even looked out the window in the first place. She glanced over again and inspected the gray clouds’ seemingly infinite supply of rain and distant thunder. The Daily Prophet had claimed the autumnal storm would last well into the afternoon, with light showers until after midnight.

Of course thunder and lightning meant no Quidditch practice, which meant a moping brother and cousins while she tried to do her homework tonight. Maybe Rose could squeeze a nap in after lunch during her free period. Merlin knows she’d need one.

A yawn escaped and she decided that was probably the best plan. Especially if she didn’t want to lose house points for falling asleep on her textbook. Rose exited the room with the rest of her drowsy classmates and tried to forget a certain pair of intense, grey eyes.

--

Scorpius couldn’t believe how stupid he was. Mooning over a girl in class is one thing, catching her eye and BLUSHING?!? What was he, a first year? He stomped his way down to the dungeons for his favorite class. At least the potion they were making today was a simple one.

It had taken Daniel all of a minute to deduce something was wrong with Scorpius. This came as no surprise considering he was Scorpius’ dorm mate, best friend, and potions partner. They had been inseparable since first year.

Daniel jammed an elbow into Scorpius’ side and muttered out of the corner of his mouth, “What’s crawled up your arse and died? I thought you went to the prefects’ baths last night. Shouldn’t you be less stressed?”

“I’m fine, Victorson.” Scorpius muttered back. “Mince the beetle’s eyes and I’ll chop the brined newt’s livers. And how did you know I went to the baths last night?”

“You’re actually not that sneaky for a Slytherin, mate. First of all, you smelled overwhelmingly of bubbles this morning, giving me a headache. Second, Gareth noticed you leaving last night.”

Scorpius rolled his eyes. “Gareth, the third-year with the unfortunate haircut? He must have been skulking in the common room again.”

“Yeah. He thinks we’re tight. He says I remind him of his brother, but I don’t know if that’s a compliment or not. Being compared to a squib usually isn’t, but he thinks I’m cool so who knows. Anyway, he’s really good at blending in. No one notices him. You wouldn’t believe all the things he hears.” He punctuated his statement with a knife jab into the air. Scorpius eyed it wearily. Daniel was known to have accidents and Scorpius didn’t like his chances with a knife, no matter how small, in his partner’s hands.

“Sounds useful.” He subtly edged closer to the other end of the table.

“It is. He seems to think you’re in a strop over some girl.”

Scorpius shot a glare at his best friend. “I am not,” he huffed.

Daniel laughed at him. “You are, mate. When I find out who it is I will bother you mercilessly to ask her to lunch at Hogsmeade or something. You need to get out of the library more.”

“It’s whom. ” Scorpius flicked a liver at his friend. He returned to chopping pickled newt organs only to receive a beetle’s eye to the cheek.

Chapter Text

Wherein students reveal where their affections lie

Tuesday - September 27

 

 

Rose was done with the whining only twenty minutes after it started. It was time to abandon ship. Had she anymore of a temper there might have been some shouting as well. Luckily for her brother and cousins she had her mother’s patience.

“You buffoons enjoy your moping, I’m headed down to the library.” Rose announced, with extra cheer to annoy them. She packed her bag, deaf to their renewed groaning.

“You’ll never understand our pain, Rosey.” Albus whined. He stuffed his face in a pillow with dramatized anguish.

“The library never closes on account of rain.” Hugo moaned. His arms were crossed and he was pouting in one of the squishy armchairs by the fire.

James grabbed his things and followed Rose out of the common room. “Wait up, Rosey!” He jogged until they were walking side by side down the corridor. “I’m meeting my potions partner in 15 minutes to prepare for our next lesson.”

“That’s nice.” Rose answered, in a tone that meant she wasn’t listening in the slightest.

“Something on your mind, Rosey-kins?”

Rose scowled at the use of her ridiculous childhood nickname. “I was just wondering…” she paused. Did she really want to talk to James about this? James wasn’t her usual confidante.

“Go on.”

She sighed. He’d get it out of her eventually anyway. “I think I caught Scorpius Malfoy smiling at me today.”

James gave her a funny look.

“Yes, I know, that’s a stupid thing to wonder about, but I just don’t get it.”

“Get what?”

“Well, he hates us, right? So why was he smiling at me? I don’t think I was doing anything weird--”

“I love you, Rosie,” James interrupted, “but we all know your definition of weird is different than everyone else’s. I KNOW--” He held up a hand to cut off her protests. “You’re normal, blahblahblah. BUT--just out of curiosity, what exactly were you doing?”

Rose thought a moment, recalling what had happened, “It was Binns’ class so I wasn’t paying attention. I was writing down my homework schedule for the next week. And then I realized it was time for lunch and started packing up. I looked out the window, because it was supposed to rain, and that’s when I caught his eye. He looked away really quickly, but he was kind of…pinker.”

“Okay, so that was mostly normal.”

Mostly ?!?”

“Normal people daydream about fun stuff, not their homework. But…I don’t know about Malfoy.”

“Thanks, James. Super helpful.” She flicked her hair in exaggerated annoyance.

He laughed at his cousin’s antics. “Alright, Rosie, don’t get your panties in a twist! Let me finish! Malfoy could have been doing any number of things. Including – but not limited to – you caught him daydreaming and he was embarrassed, he’s getting sick and has a bad habit of making awkward eye contact with people, and finally, he has a super secret crush on you and was admiring your fiery locks and then, in true first-year form, ‘OHMYGAWD SHE’S LOOKING AT ME.’” James pretended to hide in his arms.

“Hilarious.” Rose drawled.

“I am never anything less.” James boasted. “And if the last one is true and he starts flirting with you, first of all--you owe me a drink, because I was right! Second, I’ll beat him up for you and your precious honor.”

Rose rolled her eyes. “I think that’s a bit much.”

“Well, we can’t all be as cuddly as Hufflepuffs.”

Rose laughed and they parted ways; James to goof off with his potions partner under the pretense of studying and Rose to join her friends.

“Rose! Over here!” Riley Pendleton waved excitedly, always the most enthusiastic in the group. Violet Edwards greeted her just as kindly, but less animated.

“I thought you were going to study in the common room tonight,” Violet said.

“Quidditch practice was canceled, so naturally I couldn’t hear myself think.” The girls laughed, well aware of the fervor with which the Potter-Weasley family celebrated Quidditch.

“I noticed you came in with James.” Riley waved a hand towards the two giggling seventh years in a back corner. “Do you have any forecasts for the prank this term? I’d like to know when to be on my guard.”

Rose frowned. “You know, I have heard surprisingly little about it this year. That’s probably a bad thing.”

“If it’s any worse than last spring’s they’re going to get tossed out of here by an angry mob.”

“I think that would do their egos some good. Do you think we should start preparations for that now?” Rose pretended to ponder.

“I’ll inform the masses we’re assembling early this year.” The girls laughed and joked for a while longer, eventually returning to their various essays and textbooks.

Rose started in on her homework for the second time that night, pausing only when she had a question for Violet, their unofficial Herbology expert. “Violet, how many uses do Snapdragons have again? I forgot.”

Her question was answered with silence. She looked up to see her friend deep in thought, doodling small hearts in the margins of her textbook. Rose looked closer at the small writing in the center of each heart.

“Vi, do those hearts say Albus?”

“What?!?” Violet sat straight up before guiltily avoiding her friend’s eye. “Uh, yeah. Maybe?”

Rose smirked at her blushing friend. “You know I could talk to him if you’d like. See if he’d be interested in a date sometime?”

“No.” Violet said quickly. “Its fine. Really. It’s one of those stupid crushes, you know? There’s no way he’d want to. We aren’t that close.”

“Are you sure?” Rose had thought they were quite close.

“Yeah! Yeah. Whatever. It’s nothing. I’m going to finish reading this chapter now.”

“Right.” Turning back to her work she realized her Herbology question was still unanswered.

--

‘How ridiculous. A crush ?’ Scorpius thought as he rolled his eyes. From his position among the bookshelves he could clearly hear the girls’ conversation. They weren’t as quiet as they thought.

And on Albus too! For someone so studious, Violet had questionable taste. Scorpius supposed girls were probably attracted to Albus because of his Quidditch skills. Though beyond that Scorpius considered him a bit dull. Albus had never really distinguished himself separately from his large family.

Scorpius wondered if Rose had a crush on anyone. He resolutely dismissed that thought when he realized he shouldn’t wonder those things about a girl whose existence he was trying to ignore.

If Scorpius was to allow himself this thought, he supposed it’d be Gregory Kirkpatrick. He wasn’t stupid, decent at Quidditch, handsome (or so says Daniel), and above all, a proud Gryffindor. And it was no secret Gregory had been eying Rose.

Scorpius tore himself away from eavesdropping on the three girls and quietly retrieved the book he came for.

“It’s rude to eavesdrop.” Madam Pince-Filch said as she checked his book out, casting a knowing eye on the embarrassed teen.

“Yes, Ma’am.” He grabbed his book and made himself scarce. It seemed someone had noticed him after all.

Chapter Text

 Wherein Scorpius bakes and Albus is scandalized 

Tuesday - September 27

 

Scorpius’s reasons for spending most of his time studying were simple. He was rubbish at Quidditch, so that wasn’t an option. Causing mayhem was more of a Weasley-Potter thing, not to mention terribly unproductive. He was never good with girls, so snogging in random corners wasn’t usually an option either.

Scorpius was unfortunate in that his real passion, his hidden talent, would be ridiculed and he’d be dismissed as a joke. Malfoys do not take well to being dismissed as a joke. Thus, the real reason that Scorpius sneaks around at night is to conceal his love of baking .

It seems ridiculous, yes, but there were reasons for Scorpius’ love of baked goods. Baking was the only chore that Narcissa did not believe was beneath her. His fondest memory of his grandmother was of her teaching him to bake bread. And that was all it took; one loaf of bread. Scorpius loved the satisfaction of making something with his own hands. Especially something that, once all was said and done, yielded the reward of delicious food. It was addicting.

He had steadfastly convinced his family’s house elves to teach him to bake. His tactics were simple; he annoyed them until they gave in to his simple demands. He wanted to learn how to bake everything . While the house elves could not teach him to bake everything, they taught him how to follow recipes which was just as good.

Draco didn’t find out about his “endeavors” for a rather long time and was understandably perplexed, as well as irate. Baking is apparently not a proper pastime for a boy of Scorpius’ status.

But it had only taken one batch of special homemade biscuits to win Draco over. Scorpius had perfected the recipe by himself and was obscenely proud of it. In the end, his father agreed that baking was less dangerous than Quidditch and was surprisingly good practice for making potions. Scorpius was also determined to become a potions master. It seemed very Slytherin for his secret hobby to align so closely with his life’s ambition. Slytherins are nothing, if not ambitious.

Scorpius had intended to use the Room of Requirement yesterday to find new recipes to try tonight, but Rose turned that plan on its head when she had snuck into the room instead. Empty handed, Scorpius decided to fall back on some old favorites: French bread and fruit tarts.

While the bread dough was rising and his tart shells baking, Scorpius let his mind wander over the events of the day. He winced again at the embarrassing memory of his awkward eye contact with Rose. He was only admiring her smile. It was just his luck she glanced over in that very second. Well, more like minute if Scorpius was truly being honest with himself.

Scorpius sighed and relented to the demands of his traitorous mind, turning his thoughts towards the subject of Rose and crushes.

Rose didn’t strike him as the type of girl to have such “frivolous” feelings for a person. Not that he knew her well in any capacity--it would just be odd for such a practical, studious person to giggle over the thought of a boy’s affection. Scorpius would wager she probably only harbors appreciations for people, as he does, until the relationship is allowed to progress further. Or at least, that is what the gossip about her seems to support.

Scorpius picked up not only his grandmother’s love of baking, but also her love of gossiping. As a Slytherin, he was confident that it was incredibly useful to know everything about everyone, even if it made him look like a horrible gossip. Daniel used to tease him endlessly for it, but eventually he too began to take pleasure in the fact Scorpius knew everything about everyone. It had helped the two of them, as well as their housemates, out of many embarrassing situations. Blackmail is incredibly useful.

Scorpius was startled out of his thoughts when the timer he had set dinged, reminding him to take the tart shells out of the oven. He checked his bread dough and found that it had risen enough to knead and prepare for baking. Once the bread was kneaded and placed in the oven he set about chopping the fruit for the cooled tart shells. He wondered what fruit was Rose’s favorite – then chastised himself for such a thought.

“Merlin – I need to stop thinking about that girl.” He swore under his breath.

It’s just his luck that Albus Fucking Potter waltzed in at that moment.

“MALFOY?” Albus stood, aghast, in the doorframe.

“FUCK! Potter, what the hell are you doing here?” Scorpius felt like he’d be caught doing something dirty.

Albus’ face was several shades of pink and red. “Why are you wearing an apron?!?” He squeaked.

“I’m baking.” Malfoy’s inner panic meter was firmly in the red section. Flashing red, with klaxons.

“You’re baking.” Albus looked like someone had punched him in the stomach. “I – I need to sit down.” He collapsed onto a nearby stool. “Bloody hell. All I wanted was a snack and now I feel like I walked in on my parents shagging.”

“I’m baking .” Malfoy said again, trying to relax and not cut his finger off while slicing strawberries.

“My Gran bakes.” Albus pointed an accusing finger at Scorpius. “Not Slytherins.”

Scorpius sniffed, “Are Slytherins not allowed to have hobbies?” Potter was really ruining his night.

“Well--no--but…” Potter didn’t seem to have a good response.

Scorpius tried to ignore the interruption to his otherwise relaxing night and returned to preparing his tarts.

Potter sighed. Scorpius continued to ignore him.

The Gryffindor broke the uneasy silence first. “What are you making anyway?”

“Fruit tarts and french bread.” Scorpius said in a clipped tone. Maybe if he was rude enough Albus would leave.

“Can I have one? They look good.”

Scorpius looked up in surprise, before narrowing his eyes. “What, aren’t you worried they’re poisoned or something?”

Albus thought about it for a second before answering, “Fine--you can have one first, then I’d like to try one.”

Scorpius rolled his eyes. “They aren’t ready yet.”

“Of course not,” Albus scoffed. “You haven’t made the whipped cream yet.”

Scorpius glared at him, very annoyed that Albus was right. He got out a bowl and fresh whipping cream.

“You’re going to add vanilla right?” Potter asked with serious concern on his face. “That’s how my Nan makes it…”

“That’s how all experienced bakers make it, Potter.” Scorpius measured out the correct amounts of cream, sugar, and vanilla before casting the whipping charm. Just then the timer for the bread dinged. “I have to watch the cream so it doesn’t turn into butter. Get the bread out of the oven.” To his surprise Albus actually followed his orders.

Once the whipped cream was done Scorpius carefully dolloped it on top of his completed fruit tarts. He took a bite of one and made a flourish with his hands as if to say “tada--I’m still alive.” Scorpius pushed one in front of Albus, but pulled it back at the last second.

“You are to tell no one of this.” Scorpius narrowed his eyes. “No. One.”

Albus raised an eyebrow, “Oh really? I haven’t even tasted it yet, Scorpius. What if it’s shit?”

Scorpius glared at him. His baking was totally NOT shit. What else could he offer this annoyance? He remembered what he had overheard in the library and smirked. “I have information I’m sure you’d like to have.”

“How do I know it’s worth it?”

Scorpius shrugged and gave him a challenging look. “Are you a gambling man, Mr. Potter?”

Albus thought for a moment, and then grabbed the tart and fork. Decidedly, he was a gambling man. He thoroughly enjoyed every bite of the tart. Scorpius noticed. He may or may not have continued smirking as he ate his own.

“Alright, spill, Malfoy.” Albus pushed the empty tart tray away and looked expectantly at Scorpius.

“Violet Edwards has a “crush” on you.” Scorpius laughed at the blush that crawled up Albus’ neck and across his cheeks. “My advice to you is to be subtle. She’s nervous. Not to mention Rose probably wouldn’t be pleased if you broke her best friend’s heart.”

In a happy daze, Albus agreed to help clean up, though he might have pinched a few pieces of bread when Scorpius’ back was turned. Once they had finished, Scorpius didn’t really know how to leave. Fortunately, Albus seemed to be struggling as well--though he wasn’t nearly as controlled as Scorpius..

“How did you know that about Violet anyway?”

“I have my ways, Potter.” Scorpius said, with what he hoped was an air of mystery. “If you need any more incentive to keep this to yourself, remember what happened to Fred. Except it’ll be worse.”

“We Potters are extremely trustworthy.” Albus said, affronted.

“For your sake, I hope so.” Scorpius said with a challenging smile and turned to go.

Chapter Text

 Wherein the truth comes out

Wednesday - September 28

 

Albus awoke the next morning and lazily wiped the sleep out of his eyes. Wednesday meant no morning class so he made no effort to get out of bed. Instead he thought about the bizarre meeting that had occurred in the small hours of the morning. He was half hoping it had only been a strange, yet vivid, dream. Knowing himself well enough he checked his pajamas for crumbs. Sure enough there was a chuck of bread still in his shirt pocket--a piece of evidence a bit larger than crumbs.

If it wasn’t a dream, what exactly was Albus supposed to make of the meeting? Was the information that bought his silence trustworthy? And where had Scorpius picked up this particular tidbit?

Albus decided that Scorpius, being a particularly cunning individual, was not stupid enough to buy Albus’ silence with information that was not properly verified. A slow, satisfied smile spread across his face. This meant that Violet absolutely has a crush on him.

Albus did not have James’ skills in dealing with women. This had become painfully obvious to him after a series of misadventures, mostly ending in irate girls slapping him. Albus had always been too forward and yet, somehow still awkward. He’d recently given up on dating, assuming he’d gain charm over the years. He had decided to ignore his attraction to Violet in favor of her not slapping him and remaining friends. But now… He’d have to ask Rose for advice.

Albus ran his hands through his unruly hair and decided he wanted breakfast more than he wanted a lie-in. He pulled on the typical Hogwarts uniform: a collared shirt with a tie of Gryffindor colors, slacks, and loafers. After much deliberation he grabbed a gray sweater and tromped down to the Great Hall.

He passed a hysterical Madam Pince on his way into the hall, lamenting the loss of some dark tome. The lady loved her books. Albus distinctly remembered a detention that he received his first year for the horrendous crime of underlining a single phrase in an elementary charms book. The library had fifteen of them. He didn’t see the harm, but now he’s rehabilitated and has seen the error of his ways. Or at least that’s what he wrote in the foot long essay she demanded on the care of books.

Albus scanned the enormous room for a family member or a friendly classmate. He spotted Hugo eating at the Hufflepuff table and went to sit next him. The two exchanged comments about the progress of their respective Quidditch teams while Albus loaded his plate with a healthy breakfast of eggs, sausage, bacon, toast slathered in jam, and more bacon.

By chance he glanced up at the Slytherin table and noticed Scorpius sitting by himself, reading the Daily Prophet. Though there was no shortage of Slytherins at the table he couldn’t help but notice none sat anywhere near Scorpius. A curious thought struck Albus: maybe Scorpius hadn’t asked him to leave because he was looking for a friend. Albus searched his memory. Scorpius was amiable with everyone, even Hufflepuffs. Except, of course, the Potter-Weasleys and for some inexplicable reason, Gregory Kirkpatrick. Despite this Albus could only remember seeing him consistently with Daniel Victorson. Maybe that’s why he let him stay so long last night…

Albus was distracted from these thoughts by the sudden arrival of Rose.

“Morning tossers,” she mumbled, while filling her bowl with warm oatmeal.

“What’s got your knickers in a twist?” Hugo asked with an eyebrow raised. Rose was usually a morning person. “Did you hear what happened last night? The professors are freaking out!”

“What? No, I’m annoyed because I woke up late!”

“Rose you don’t have any classes this morning.” Albus pointed out.

“I was planning on doing homework!” She snapped.

Albus and Hugo shared a look. “Were you up late again last night?” Albus braced himself for more snapping.

Rose pinned him with an angry look before reaching into her bag and pulling out a paper-wrapped parcel. She shoved it in Hugo’s general direction.

“What’s this?”

“Your birthday present.”

“My birthday isn’t until next week.”

“Well then it’s an early birthday present. If you don’t want it give it back.” Hugo held it protectively to his chest, though Albus doubted Rose really would have taken it back. “Aren’t you going to open it?” Rose seemed more excited than irritated this time.

“Is it going to explode?” Hugo asked carefully. Rose rolled her eyes at him which he took as a, ‘No, idiot.’ He opened the parcel with the excitement and fervor of a 3-year-old who just grasped the concept of gifts. “Sweet! A Chudley Cannons scarf! Thanks, Rosey.” He smiled his genuine Hufflepuff smile at her. To Albus’ relief she smiled back, her previous acerbic mood lessened by the pride of giving a gift that was appreciated.

“Did you stay up all night knitting it in the Room of Requirement?” Hugo asked while wrapping the scarf around his neck, never mind that it was uncomfortably hot in the castle for this time of year.

“No…” Rose frowned, “I don’t go out after curfew.”

Albus laughed.

“Fine! I don’t go out often!” She exclaimed. “You know I was stressed out from that Transfiguration exam – ”

Hugo rolled his eyes and cut her off. “Right, right--awful exam. Fail it and you’re doomed for life. You’ve only told us a hundred times.”

Albus ignored the bickering siblings and turned back to his breakfast. As he was munching on his Bertie Bott’s Bran Flavored Breakfast O’s he noticed Violet walking down the aisle towards Rose. He glanced up at Scorpius again and saw him watching. Albus couldn’t help but wonder if that was a knowing smile, or a passing shadow.

--

The monstrosity Hugo Weasley had around his neck was, as his mother would say, “positively ghastly”. Scorpius wondered where the hell Rose had managed to procure such a hideous scarf; though he could see she was clearly pleased that Hugo loved it.

He tried to continue reading the business section but the stock outlooks were terribly boring this morning and there were so many people to watch. Scorpius noticed Violet Edwards walking down the aisle towards Rose. He smirked at Albus and pretended to turn back to his paper. Thankfully he was saved from his boredom by the arrival of Daniel.

“Have you heard what happened last night?” Daniel asked while spreading a ridiculous about of butter on a muffin, of all things. Scorpius didn’t pretend to understand Daniel’s eating habits.

“No.” Scorpius replied lazily. If he hadn’t heard about it yet, it probably wasn’t that big.

“What the hell is Weasley wearing?”

“Merlin help me if I knew. Ghastly colors.”

“Pretty sure they’re Chudley Cannon’s colors. Ghastly colors for a ghastly team.” Daniel commented smugly. “Anyway, someone stole some books from the restricted section last night. Apparently they’re dark.”

Scorpius’ interest was piqued. “Any idea about the titles?” He folded his newspaper, trying very hard to look nonchalant.

Daniel shrugged. “No idea, they’re rare dark magic books. Apparently no one has even looked at them in decades.”

“And you know this from…?”

“Madam Pinchy herself.” Scorpius rolled his eyes at Madam Pince-Filch’s nickname given to her for her penchant for dragging noisy students out by a firm, two-fingered grip on their ears. “She was talking to Longbottom about it. And when I say talking, I mean hysterically whisper-shouting.”

“Hmm.” Scorpius glanced at his watch and realized it was time to move on to his charms class. “See you at lunch?”

“Sure thing.” Daniel said between bites of breakfast.

--

Scorpius’ day hadn’t been particularly awful so far. Charms class was unusually dull, but he had a sinking feeling his day was only going to get worse. He was called out of class half an hour before the end and told to report directly to Professor Neville’s office.

Scorpius wasn’t particularly nervous. Although, he still wondered what this could be about. Maybe Potter had tattled on him like a snotty little first year. Neville didn’t often call students into his office in the middle of a class unless it was to punish them for some wrongdoing.

Is baking in the kitchens wrong? Considering students aren’t supposed to be out of their quarters after a certain hour: probably .

Scorpius knocked at the door and waited for an answer. It swung open to reveal Professor Longbottom looking a little bit irate, but he waved Scorpius in without a word. Scorpius sat in the chair facing the professor’s desk and waited for the reason why he had been called in. Neville cleared his throat before divulging the circumstances to him.

“You’ve heard about the recent theft?” The professor asked.

So that was it. Scorpius wondered if he was a suspect because of his family’s rather unfortunate history.

“Why, am I a suspect?”

“You were reported missing from your bed around the time of the theft.”

Scorpius supposed it was to be expected. Slytherins did not value loyalty as much as the Hufflepuffs. “I have an alibi and a witness.”

Neville nodded but looked strained. “Unfortunately, because of the rare and rather dark nature of the books, the ministry is insisting that I ensure you are telling the truth.” He pulled out a bottle of clear liquid that Scorpius supposed must be Veritaserum. “As you probably realize, this is a bottle of Veritaserum. Despite its proven inconsistencies and the several, easily mastered ways to overcome its affects, the Board of Governors insists that we go about this search in a thorough manner.” Neville did not look pleased.

Scorpius wasn’t particularly pleased either, but understood that it would be suspicious to resist. Besides, he had little to hide. He took the cup that Neville handed him and swallowed it in one, flavorless gulp.

“I will begin by asking a couple of test questions.” Scorpius nodded his consent.

“What is your full name?”

“Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy.”

“What are your parents full names?”

“Draco Lucius Malfoy and Astoria Greengrass Malfoy.”

“What is your favorite food?”

Scorpius clasped his hands into fists and tried to resist answering the question with the complete truth. It didn’t work. “Fruit tarts made from my own recipe.” Neville looked up from his paper confused and opened his mouth as if to say something, but shook his head as he thought better of it.

“Did you break into the restricted section last night? If so, did you remove any books from the restricted section?” Apparently they had reached the real part of the questioning.

“No, sir.”

“What were you doing the night of September 26, 2022 and the early hours of September 27, 2022? Please be thorough” This was about to get embarrassing.

“I got ready for bed around 10 o’clock and pretended to sleep until a little past 11. Once I was sure my roommates were asleep I snuck out of my dorm. I went to the kitchens and stayed there baking until 2 o’clock in the morning.” Neville’s eyebrows seemed to be straining to meet his hairline. An impressive feat, considering it had been receding for more than a few years. Scorpius was just glad he wasn’t laughing.

“You were baking?”

“Yes.”

Neville seemed to struggle for the right words. “That is… not…what I expected.” After another uncomfortable silence he asked, “What were you baking?”

“I baked fruit tarts and a loaf of French bread.”

Neville nodded, still a little confused. “You said you have a witness, what is their name, please?”

“Albus Severus Potter.” Neville’s eyebrows reunited with his hairline. “Yes, again with the shock.” Scorpius rolled his eyes and crossed his arms defensively over his chest. “I was baking and he sort of just walked in. I bribed him with fruit tart so he wouldn’t spread it around. I also got him to stay long enough to help with the dishes.”

Neville nodded in understanding, though he still looked a little shocked.

“Right – well, those are all the questions I have for you at this time. I will be checking your story with Mr. Potter shortly.”

“Yes, sir.”

“You’re free to go. I’ll keep the baking to myself, though you shouldn’t be sneaking out of your dorm after curfew.” Scorpius nodded at the professor, gathered his bag of books, and left the room as quickly as possible.

Scorpius realized later he probably should have gotten a detention for being out after curfew. Neville was probably too flustered, or amused, about the whole thing to remember to punish him. Thank Merlin.

Scorpius hurried to the Great Hall. He knew he’d be at least 10 minutes late to lunch and didn’t want to give Daniel too much opportunity to eat all the good sandwiches. It’s happened before. He wasn’t really paying attention to where he was going and accidentally whacked someone with his bag.

“Watch where you’re going!” Rose spat at him, clearly annoyed about more than just getting bumped with his bag.

“Sorry,” Malfoy said over his shoulder. “You look beautiful today.”

Wait, WHAT .

A horrified look immediately crossed Scorpius’ face. Clearly the Veritaserum hadn’t worn off yet. He hurried to the Slytherin table without turning around to see if Rose had caught the last part. He stuffed a couple sandwiches into a napkin before fleeing to the Slytherin common room, the only Weasley-free room in Hogwarts. Well, as long as you don’t count Molly. First-years don’t really count yet anyway.

Chapter Text

Wherein luck, various gods, and several planets heckle Albus

Wednesday - September 28

 

Rose was enjoying her sandwich. Scratch that, Rose was trying to enjoy her sandwich. Nothing ruins a perfectly good sandwich as easily as a boy who can’t seem to take a hint.

“Any plans for Hogsmeade, Rose?” Gregory Kirkpatrick smiled at her in a way that said he thinks he’s being smooth. Idiot.

“Oh, is that this weekend?” Maybe if she pretends she’s so engrossed with her studies he’ll take a hint and dive into the deep end of the Great Lake. It might be possible to cajole the Giant Squid or one of the less hostile merfolk into a date at Madam Puddifoot’s, but there wasn’t enough chocolate in the world to bribe Rose into going anywhere near that wretched place.

“Yes, it is. Does that mean you’re free?” Gregory sounded hopeful. Rose almost felt bad for him. But she isn’t about to forget what he said about Lily last month.

“No. I have an essay to write.” Rose ignored his look of disappointment, in favor of her sandwich.

“Are you sure you can’t just write that some other time? I had really hoped you’d be interested in lunch with me.” He smirked and puffed his chest out, as if looking like a constipated toad would make it harder for Rose to refuse him.

Rose slammed her sandwich down. “You know what, Gregory? I am interested in lunch. My lunch. The one you aren’t letting me eat right now. So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go finish my lunch somewhere you aren’t disturbing my peace and quiet.” She grabbed her bag and mangled sandwich to storm off, but she didn’t miss his rather affronted look.

However, Lily was also pretty damn affronted when that boggart’s arse was telling everyone she got him off in a broom closet. Needless to say, Rose wasn’t feeling too upset about yelling at him.

Rose was so enraged she could barely walk straight. She collided with someone and lashed out again.

Malfoy turned to look at her snarling face and apologized. And called her beautiful.

WHAT .

All of the sudden the question of his lingering-look wasn’t as confusing as she had thought. Sod it all. Malfoy fancied her.

--

Albus was sitting in his Arithmancy class studiously pretending to be paying attention. It’s not his fault that classes directly after lunch were the most difficult to pay attention to. However, it was distinctly his fault he ate enough steak sandwiches during lunch to put himself into a minor food coma.

He was calculating whether or not the ancient Professor Vector would catch him putting his head down on his notebook to sneak a quick nap when there was a knock on the classroom door. This roused the entire class and they twisted in their seats to look at the door. After a prolonged moment they looked back at the obliviously, prattling professor. Vector was getting on in age and was considered hard of hearing, but really the poor woman was stone-deaf. It was only her terrifying strictness that kept her classes in line.

After another impatient knock sounded at the door, a student in the back got up and opened it.

Professor Longbottom stood in the hall, visibly peeved. “Albus Potter, gather your things and come with me please.”

Albus startled at his name and did as he was told, frowning all the while. If he was getting in trouble because of the prank James orchestrated last week he was not going down alone. He was only a lookout. It wouldn’t be fair if he was the only one punished. He was all for loyalty, but this would make it the fifth time in the past year he’d been pulled out of class. His loyalty was understandably stretched a bit thin when it came to James and his pranks.

As Albus and Professor Longbottom made their way down the hall they made small talk about the school year so far. Professor Longbottom confessed there was a surprise for the Halloween Feast that would be talked about for years, but refused to comment further.

After Neville had settled in the chair behind his desk he got down to business. “You may have heard about the recent theft from the library,” Albus nodded in affirmation, “I’ve been instructed by the Board of Governors to get to the bottom of the theft. The methods they demanded I use are a bit unorthodox and outdated. Unfortunately there is little I can do about policy. You are not a suspect in this theft but are needed to verify another student’s alibi.” He gave Albus the prescribed dose of Veritaserum and proceeded with the test questions. Albus passed those with flying colors.

Finally, Neville got to the point, “You were reported out of your dorm after hours last night. Please explain to me why you were out and where you went.”

Albus winced. He knew then that the tentative agreement he had with Scorpius was about to be broken. “I woke up in the middle of the night. I was really hungry and couldn’t fall back asleep, so I decided to sneak down to the kitchens and grab a bite to eat. I think it was about half past midnight.”

“And did you see anyone on your way to the kitchens?”

“At one point I could have sworn someone was watching me, but it was just Mrs. Norris.”

“And in the kitchens, did you encounter anyone?”

Albus sighed. Scorpius was going to murder him. Maybe a light maiming, if he was lucky. “I found Scorpius Malfoy in the kitchens.”

“What was he doing there?”

Albus’ hands went from twisting in his robes to covering his face with a groan. “Baking.” He mumbled out from between his fingers, silently composing his Last Will and Testament. James is going to get any detentions resulting from this interrogation.

To his surprise Neville chuckled and shook his head. “Right. He really was telling the truth. Not something I ever would have expected.”

“Wait!” All of the sudden, Albus’ future wasn’t looking quite so grim. “You already knew! He won’t murder me or somehow get me to commit social suicide!”

“Let’s hope not.” Neville raised an eyebrow, but decided not to ask why his students might murder each other. “Malfoy was with you the entire time? About 12:30 until 2:00?”

“Yes, sir. Is that all?”

“Yes. Thank you, Albus. I apologize again for the Veritaserum. It should wear off in ten to fifteen minutes. If it lasts any longer than an hour please report to the infirmary.”

“No problem, Professor. Was the stuff taken from the library really dark magic stuff? I mean, obviously the books were at least rare if they’re investigating.”

Neville put on what he hoped was a genial smile and dismissed his pseudo-nephew, “I’m the one asking the questions here, Albus. Get on to your next class, and for Merlin’s sake, mind the curfew.”

Albus wasted no time in leaving, half afraid he could still get detention for the debacle.

The deputy headmaster scrubbed his hand over face and hoped that this was all an elaborate prank. Maybe James was striking out in a new direction--one that evoked absolute confusion and absurdity instead of humor.

--

Albus hurried down the corridor keeping his head down. He figured the less conspicuous he made himself the easier it would be to get to History of Magic. The quicker he got there would mean less time he had to spill all of his deepest and darkest secrets. Not that his secrets were particularly dark. More of a pale gray really.

Fate was not smiling on Albus that day though. Malfoy spotted him almost immediately and made a beeline for him. Oh Merlin, he was looking determined too.

“Potter! Slow down.” Malfoy yanked on Albus’ sleeve making him stagger to a stop. “You got pulled out of Arithmancy, what did Neville ask you about last night?”

“He asked where you were and what you were doing. I had to tell him! The veritaserum--and he already knew!” Albus glanced around the hall to assure that no one was paying particular attention to their conversation. “So I didn’t break our agreement.” He hissed.

“No, you didn’t. But Neville is the last person you tell, you understand me?”

“Yes. Loud and clear. Look, can I go to class now I don’t want to be…late…” Malfoy had already disappeared down the hall with a fearful look on his face.

Rose tapped on his shoulder from behind him. Albus spun around and cursed his luck again when he saw her face. His cousin looked absolutely thunderous. “Why were you talking to Scorpius?”

“I was telling him I verified his alibi for last night to Neville. He was a suspect for the restricted section theft. Walk with me to History of Magic?”

“Halfway, I have to go down to Potions. What do you mean you verified his alibi for last night?”

“I ran into him in the kitchens. Don’t ask anymore. Okay? I have a deal with him, and if you break it for me I’m dead.”

“You made a deal with Malfoy?!? Seriously ? Did you not learn after what happened to Fred?” Rose was definitely angry now. “What the bloody hell were you doing out of bed after hours anyway? And what was he doing there with you?”

“Oh for the love of – ,” was as far as Albus got before his next words were forced out of his mouth. “ I was hungry and needed a snack. Malfoy was baking . Neville made me take Veritaserum for questioning and I swear on Gran’s treacle tart if you ever tell anyone what I just told you I will destroy every single note you’ve written since first year.”

Rose was finally shocked into silence.

“Sorry, Rose. I didn’t mean to shout, but seriously, keep your mouth shut.”

“I understand. I’m sorry. I didn’t know you had taken Veritaserum. I won’t tell a soul. Especially not if you let me copy your notes from yesterday’s History of Magic lecture. I was distracted…”

“Fine. I’ll see you later.” He disappeared into the classroom cursing whatever gods or alignment of planets that were causing his disastrous day.

Chapter Text

Wherein some cousins comisserate

Wednesday - September 28

 

Rose was distracted.

She tried to push the whole thing out of her mind as she walked into Potions class “nearly late,” Riley hissed at her. She tried to forget about it as she carefully sliced, chopped, and grinded her way through the ingredients for the day’s potion. She tried to not think about Malfoy.

Rose finally managed to focus on something else and put all of her concentration into stirring the potion in the meticulous “two and one quarter circles alternating clockwise and counterclockwise.” Her small respite ended when Riley took the paddle for her turn.

Rose’s mind just kept turning and turning. If a boy calls you beautiful, does that automatically mean he fancies you? Or does he really just think she’s beautiful? Or maybe he’s joking with her and doesn’t mean any of it. He’s probably just trying to mess with her.

Except…if Albus was questioned to verify Malfoy’s alibi then Neville would have questioned him first. If Albus was questioned after lunch, then Scorpius had to have been questioned before lunch, which means that there’s a chance he was still feeling the effects of the Veritaserum, which meant it might be the truth.

Rose slumped in her seat and thumped her head on her notebook. This was ridiculous.

Riley prodded her with the clean end of the paddle. “Your turn Rose.” She lept at the opportunity to distract herself. At least transfiguration was after this. That wouldn’t leave her even a moment to stop and think.

--

Rose huffed and dropped her bag on the floor in front of Albus’ feet before collapsing on the half of the couch he wasn’t currently sprawled on. “I have had a bafflingly stupid day and I’m incredibly done with it.”

“Tell me about it. I don’t know what it is about Wednesdays, but I can’t seem to get the hang of them.” Albus groaned from next to her. “I missed Professor Vector explaining this crazy problem that we have to do for homework and no one understood it enough to be able to explain it to me. So now I have to go attempt to communicate with her.”

“Kirkpatrick asked if I wanted to join him for lunch in Hogsmeade this weekend.”

“WHAT.” Albus sat bolt upright and slammed his fist on the arm of the couch. “THAT FUCKING LITTLE SHIT. After what he tried to pull with Lily last month? Please tell me you punched him, Rose. Otherwise I’m obligated to go find him again and remind him again to stay away from Weasley girls.”

“I yelled at him at least. I was too annoyed to stick around long enough to punch him. Do it when no one’s watching.”

“Good idea.” Albus cracked his knuckles in anticipation.

“Hey, can I have your History of Magic notes to copy? I asked you before, but you forgot.”

“Only if you answer a question for me. More of a hypothetical really…” He rustled around in his bag. “If one was to hypothetically ask a girl to Hogsmeade, say Violet for example, how would one go about doing that?”

“So you’re asking Violet out?” Rose tried to hide her smile. This would make Vi’s week.

“What? No…maybe.” He handed her his notebook.

Rose smirked at him. “Alright. So just ask her? It’s not hard. Something along the lines of, “Hey, Violet, I was wondering if you’d like to get lunch with me at Hogsmeade this weekend?,” should be fine.”

“What if she says no?” Albus actually looked nervous. It was adorable.

“What if she doesn’t?” Rose pointed out.

“You realize that’s the complete opposite of helpful right?”

“It’s more helpful than you know.”

“Real cryptic, Rose. Should I take her to Madam Puddifoot's?”

Rose rolled her eyes. “Absolutely not.”

“Well, I know you’re against it. After Laurence, it’d be hard for you not to be. But would she like it?”

Rose shook her head. “Take her to Hog’s Head. She has an inexplicable love of their fish and chips.”

“I didn’t know they sell food. Isn’t that place kind of dodgy?”

“Not really, just a bit empty. Finnegan runs it and he’s an old friend of our parents. You’ll probably get a free butter beer out of it.”

“Okay. So…when should I ask her?”

“Lunch tomorrow. She has an essay due the class before, so she’ll be too distracted until then.”

“Thanks, Rose.”

“Don’t mention it. Why’d you suddenly decide to ask Violet out? I didn’t notice the month long period of awkward flirting it usually takes to psych yourself up enough to actually ask them out.” She teased.

Albus stuck his tongue out at her. “I recently received a tip that she fancied me. I figured since I’ve fancied her since third year, I’d go for it. And my flirting is not awkward , thank you.”

“Received a tip? Is this from the deal with Malfoy?”

“Yeah. He bought my silence with it. For all the good it did him.” He glared at her pointedly.

“I’m not going to tell!” She protested. “What did you guys even talk about down there?”

“I dunno. Stuff. Quidditch mostly.”

“Oh. Okay.”

“What?”

Rose covered her disappointment with a shrug and a smirk. “It’s just weird thinking about Scorpius Malfoy talking about something as pedestrian as Quidditch. You’d think all that ever came out of his mouth was potions theory.” She didn’t really know what she was hoping for. It’s not like Scorpius would tell Albus all about the crush he has on Albus’ closest cousin and best friend.

“You’re still bitter about him beating you in last years Potions O.W.L., aren’t you?” He laughed.

“Maybe. A little.” Rose looked at her watch and sighed. “Speaking of potions, I have an essay to write about the Grand Wiggenwald Potion. I’ll be in the library. I’ll give you your notes back tomorrow.” She stood up and swung her bag over her shoulder. “Please don’t actually fight Kirkpatrick. Just put the fear of our family in him, yeah?”

“Yes, mother.”

Rose flipped him off as she climbed out the portrait hole.

Chapter Text

Wherein students receive the consequences

Thursday – September 29

 

Hugo sat on the floor tossing his fanged frisbee in the air as he waited outside an empty classroom. He heard banging from inside the classroom and more shouting. He rolled his eyes and hoped that whatever they were planning would be worth all of this sitting around. James and Fred had bribed him to be their lookout with a couple of chocolate bars. Hugo already had them squirreled away in his trunk, hidden from his dorm mates and other cousins. They would last him at least a week.

Now if only Fred and James would hurry up and perfect whatever experimental charm they were working on. They’d already been at it an hour, how much longer could it take?

“Mr. Weasley.” Crap. That was Neville walking towards him down the corridor. He surreptitiously shoved the enchanted piece of red parchment under the door and hoped his cousins were getting busy looking innocent.

“What is that you’re playing with, Mr. Weasley?” Hugo looked down at his frisbee.

“Crap.”

“Crap indeed, Mr. Weasley. I’m going to have to confiscate this. If I remember correctly this is your third infraction of this particular rule, which means instead of points deducted from your house I will be seeing you next Friday evening for a detention.”

“Uncle Neville-!”

“Now Hugo--you know I’m not going to give you special treatment because I’ve known you since you were born. Stop sneaking in banned items and I’ll stop giving you detentions.”

“Yes, sir.” Hugo reluctantly handed Neville his fanged menace.

Neville opened the door of the classroom, correctly guessing that Hugo was acting as a guard dog. “Hello, boys.” James and Fred looked up from a haphazard pile of notes and textbooks and smiled innocently.

“Hello, Professor! We’re just studying for charms here.”

“Of course. As soon as I figure out what you two are up to you’re both getting detention for a month.”

“But Professor, you don’t even know what were planning!” Fred exclaimed. James immediately jabbed an elbow into his cousin’s side for confirming they were up to something.

“I have a hunch your prank is going to warrant a punishment about that big. I was right last year. I’ll figure it out again.” With a cheery wave to his students, Neville continued his way down the corridor.

--

“Albus Potter!” The librarian stood at the end of the corridor, aghast. “I never!” She stalked forward and clamped a hand around his upper arm to prevent him from escaping. “I would expect your brother to be doing something like this, never you!”

“Madam Pince, you don’t understand! That little shit--”

“Mr. Potter! Foul language will most definitely not help you now.” She looked over her spectacles at the indigent boy. “You can’t go around punching your fellow students! This violence will not be tolerated! I will personally make sure Professor Longbottom gives you at least two detentions!”

“But-!”

“To the deputy headmaster’s office, NOW!” The irate librarian frog-marched Albus down the hall.

--

Neville closed the door behind Albus, shaking his head half amused, half exasperated. Harry and Ron’s children were going to drive him into an early retirement. Looking around his office he figured he should probably clean soon. Usually he tackles it when he can’t see the top of his desk and somehow it’s already gotten to that point.

He sat behind his desk and pulled out the various transcripts of the questioning he had done that afternoon. Carefully he cast the charm to duplicate them and tucked both sets of copies in a compartment in his briefcase. One of the benefits of being a married professor was that he had no reason to live in the professor’s apartments and got to go home most evenings. He’d send his transcripts off to the Board of Governors as soon as he got back home to Hannah and her wonderful cooking.

Riffling through the various essays he’d yet to grade, he noticed a recent addition to the pile. A note from the headmaster requesting he stop by before leaving for the evening. He sighed. His dinner would probably be cold tonight.

--

“Professor Longbottom! Thank you for seeing me on such short notice. I wasn’t sure you’d find the note in time.”

“Err, yes.” Even after all these years Professor McGonagall still intimidated Neville. “I’ve been meaning to take care of that pile on my desk. I’m scheduled for this weekend so I figured that would be a good time to tidy it up.”

“That would be prudent.” Minerva removed her reading glasses and rubbed the bridge of her nose. She really was getting far too old for this job. “You’ve completed the questioning that the Board requested?”

“Yes. I questioned the 8 students that were reported out of their dorms at the time of the theft and the results were inconclusive. No one admitted having any knowledge of the theft. I personally do not have any suspects at this time.”

“I’ve done some inquiring of my own and produced another list of students that should be questioned.”

Neville accepted the small piece of parchment given to him. He asked for a quill and scratched off a couple of conflicting names. “I can question Brigby, Stevens, and the Parish twins tomorrow. However, this theft seems out of character for all of them.”

Minerva shifted in her seat uncomfortably. “Perhaps we shouldn’t rule out the possibility of the Imperious Curse.”

“You can’t possibly think--”

“It’s happened before, Neville.” Definitely getting too old for this job, she thought to herself. “If you find even a hint of the Imperious Curse at any point in this … investigation , we’re turning it over to the Ministry. We are here to teach our students. Not chase after thieves and dark sorcerers.”

“I hope it doesn’t come to that.” Neville’s shoulder sagged with the unpalatable possibility that there could be a dark wizard among his students. “The Ministry would do a better job than I’m doing now. Based on the content of the books they should be here already.”

“The Board of Governors doesn’t want a scandal. They want it done quietly and as soon as possible.”

“Surely they’re mistaken!”

Minerva slammed her hand onto her desk, startling Neville with her uncharacteristic violent gesture. “Damn it! I know, Neville. I’m halfway through twelve nasty letters and I have half a mind to floo to the Auror’s office right now. I’m getting much too old for this job, and I’m sorry, but you just don’t have the experience to carry out the inquisition I think this theft deserves! If we don’t turn anything up by tomorrow afternoon, I’m demanding the Ministry send a team of Aurors to get to the bottom of this.”

“I’m sorry, Headmistress.” Neville felt as though he was eleven years old again and was receiving his first detention.

Minerva sighed. “No, I’m sorry, Neville. You’re not at fault here. Go home. Give Hannah my love. Send your transcripts to the Board of Governors and I’ll see you tomorrow morning at breakfast.”

--

Rose smiled as she slowly eased out of the portrait hole and into the dark hallway. She carefully swung the portrait back into place and then turned to hurry down the familiar route to the Room of Requirement. Her inattention was her downfall. Had she been less distracted she might not have hurtled headlong into one shocked Scorpius Malfoy.

“Malfoy!”

“Weasley!”

“What the bloody hell are you doing here?!?”

“ME?!? What are you doing here?”

They both stared at each other in the dim corridor expecting an answer.

Rose lost her patience first. “Well?” She asked as she crossed her arms.

“Well, what?” Scorpius jammed his hands into his pockets. “I don’t have to tell you anything.”

“Well I don’t have to tell you anything either!”

“Fine!”

“Fine!”

Rose glared at him again before spitting out, “Why the bloody hell did you tell me I was beautiful the other day coming out of the Great Hall?”

Scorpius’ eye grew wide and his mouth opened and closed silently. “I don’t know what you’re--”

“What exactly is going on here?” Their Headmistress melted out of the shadows, startling the bickering teens.

“Headmistress!” Squeaked Rose. “I was just--”

“This isn’t what it looks like!” Scorpius exclaimed.

“And what does this look like?” Minerva asked. “Finding two students in the corridor late at night, long after curfew…”

“I meant I’m not skulking or doing anything maligned! I swear I had nothing to do with the books!”

“But we aren’t here together either!” Rose was even redder than her father, Minerva was incredibly amused. “We just both happen to be here.”

“Well then.” Minerva looked down her nose at the two students, doing her best to hide the smile twitching on her lips. “Although we’ve established that Mr. Malfoy isn’t doing anything dastardly, and that the two of you aren’t sneaking around together , there’s still the fact you’re out of bounds long after curfew. The two of you are going to accompany me to my office where I will arrange your detentions.”

The two students sighed in defeat, and began to follow their headmaster to her office.

Rose shot Scorpius a murderous look. “This is all your fault.” She hissed. “You and your stupid bread.”

“MY STUPID WHAT?!?”

Minerva spun around with a thunderous look that stopped the two in their tracks. “My office. NOW. March.”

Meekly now, Rose and Scorpius continued down the corridor. Minerva gave the gargoyles the password and they ascended the stairs to her office. She motioned to the chairs in front of her desk and sat in her own plush seat.

“Now, I’m going to be brief because a woman of my age needs plenty of rest, so--” She flipped through a ledger before finding the correct pages. “Neither of you have gotten any reprimands so far this year which will work in your favor this time. One detention each.”

Scorpius scowled at the ceiling while Rose looked despondently at the floor. Minerva riffled through more papers on her desk before finally finding the calendar used for detentions under a particularly large tome about wandwork.

“You two will be serving your detentions alongside Mr. Albus Potter and Mr. Hugo Weasley this Saturday evening. You will be venturing into the Forbidden Forest with Professor Longbottom to gather some rare plants for the seventh years’ potions. He will meet the two of you at 8:00 PM sharp in front of the greenhouses, but for now, off to bed with the both of you! Next time I catch you out after curfew you will earn another detention, an owl home, and will leave your houses with 50 fewer points. You are old enough to know better. That is all. You’re dismissed.” She shut her ledger with what she hoped was an impressive snap.

“Good night, Professor McGonagall.” Rose jumped up and all but fled the office.

Minerva looked up in surprise at Scorpius who still remained in his seat.

“Professor McGonagall, does it have to be the forest?”

“Why not? You’ll be well protected.”

“Yes, but – my father has told me stories…”

“About the forest?”

“Yes. There are dark things in there.”

“Mr. Malfoy, I assure you, if there were any dangers or the potential for harm in the forest there is no possible way the Board of Governors would allow students to set foot there for fear of the resulting litigation. Believe you me.”

Scorpius nodded. He only looked slightly put at ease, but finally stood and walked towards the door. “Good night, Professor.”

“Goodnight, Mr. Malfoy.”

Chapter Text

Wherein everyone is conspiring

Friday – September 30

 

Scorpius was generally disappointed with his day so far. You’d think, with the week he’d been having, there would have been a lot more excitement. There should have been some dragons terrorizing the students, or abrupt and inexplicable plagues. But everything was normal--almost annoyingly so.

“Afternoon.” Daniel mumbled through some chips as Scorpius sat next to him at lunch. He swallowed his food and found some manners. “You look haggard.”

Scorpius gave him a squinty sort of calculating glare. “Did you hit your head in Care of Magical Creatures this morning? I do not look anything like Hagrid.”

Daniel rolled his eyes. “No, did you? Haggard , git. Awful. Horrid. Like Hagrid sat on you.”

“Daniel, you have a lump the size of a snitch on your forehead. Did you go to the hospital wing yet?”

His friend prodded his head wound and cringed. “Oh that. Damn. I was hoping it wouldn’t be noticeable. I got it checked out already. We had early morning training with the new beaters and Gareth conked me with his bat. He has the coordination of a newly born foal. I have no idea how he made the team.”

“I can’t imagine.” Scorpius shrugged, thoroughly uninterested. “Did you finish the Transfiguration essay last night?”

“I tried. I’m still not sure I got the Mathewson Paradox down right…”

“Hand it over. I’ll take a glance during my next class.”

Daniel rolled his eyes. “Show off.”

“Like I really need to pay attention in Herbology.” Scorpius scoffed.

“Yeah, just a regular flower child, you are.” Daniel said as he passed his friend the essay.

Scorpius helped himself to some of the chips on Daniel’s plate.

--

Scorpius trudged out of the Great Hall feeling no better about the day. As every hour passed, his detention in the forest only seemed to loom closer.

But for now, he didn’t have to be in the greenhouses for at least 15 minutes. He could take as long as he liked. This suited his sour mood just fine.

He passed a shadowed alcove and heard the telltale hiss of quiet whispering. He smirked and paused along the wall just past the alcove, well out of sight to those hidden in the shadowed spot. To the casual observer it looked as though he was simply waiting in the corridor for a friend. He wondered what juicy tidbit he’s hear this time.

“We can’t call it a bomb, Fred.”

“Why not, James? It’s not like you’ve got something better.”

“It has to be more innocuous than bomb. It sounds like we want to blow up the bloody place!”

“Projectile?”

One of the shadowed figures snorted. “Yes, Fred. PROJECTILE. Lovely . It just rolls right off the tongue.”

“You still haven’t come up with any better ideas, wanker.”

“I invented the damn thing!”

“Screw this. I have Charms.”

Scorpius took this as his cue to get moving and left, frowning. Could it have been James and Fred who stole the books? Maybe as Albus’ punishment for revealing his secret Scorpius could get the Gryffindor to spy on his family. That would probably be more humane than the punishment Fred got. But then again, Gryffindor’s are all about honor and shit, so Albus would be plenty put out by it.

--

Albus swallowed nervously as he saw the person he’d been waiting for stride out of her Charms class. It was now or never.

“Hey! Violet, wait up!” Albus jogged after her, but someone yanked on his bag stopping him.

Albus turned to yell at whoever had pulled him to a stop, but let out a squeak when he saw who he was facing. “Malfoy, I can explain!”

“Yes,” a thunderous Scorpius answered. “You will explain. Library at 8 o’clock sharp.  In the corner farthest from the front desk. I will be explaining what happens when you don’t keep your damn mouth shut.”

“I’ll be there.” Albus twisted out of Scorpius’ grip and sped down the corridor. He was going to murder Rose for this.

Scorpius watched Albus flee with an amused smirk. He turned down the corridor that led outside and came face to face with Rose. Her cheek had a smudge of dirt on it and her hair was tucked messily into a bun on the top of her head. He thought it was a good look for her.

As soon as she recognized who she had almost plowed into, Rose’s face twisted into a scowl. Scorpius’ stomach dropped. This was significantly less attractive.

“Malfoy.” She spat. “Look, I accidentally made Albus tell me why he could be have been your alibi for Tuesday night when he was still affected by the veritaserum. It wasn’t his fault. If you punish him for breaking his deal I swear on my mother’s library I will be coming after you with every hex I’ve ever learned from my Aunt Ginny. Trust me when I say that is a serious threat.”

Scorpius figured it would be his luck that she was yelling at him for something he hadn’t done.

“I’m not threatened by you, Weasley.”

Rose took a step closer and snarled into his ear, “You should be.”

Fuck . That was hot. He felt his hands get clammy and his knees go weak.

But Scorpius was a Malfoy and a Slytherin; he knew how to keep a straight face. He pulled away and continued to glare at her, unimpressed.

Rose broke their staring contest first and stomped away.

Scorpius smirked after her and finally turned to go to class.

It figures he’d walk in late.

Chapter Text

Wherein boys are stupid

Friday – September 30

 

Albus sighed and walked into the library dreading what he had to face. He avoided the gaze of the hawkish Madam Pince. He could feel her disapproving glare before he even walked through the door.

True to his word, Scorpius was sitting at a table in the farthest corner, hunched over a textbook and scribbling notes on a piece of parchment.

“Malfoy.” Albus sullenly greeted his classmate. He pulled out a chair and slouched across from Scorpius.

Scorpius grunted a hello but still hadn’t looked up from his notes. Albus wasn’t keen to find out what kind of hell he was going to be subjected to. He didn’t make any objections to being ignored and instead stared at the ceiling until Scorpius finally closed the book.

“Rose yelled at me.” Scorpius said. “Threatened actually.”

“Good.”

“She’s kind of right. Because you couldn’t really help yourself, being too weak to resist the effects of the veritaserum.”

Albus rolled his eyes. “It’s not like you can either. It takes an Auror half a year of training to be able to resist it.”

“Not the point. You still had the misfortune of telling her one of my secrets. You had the option of running away before it came out.”

“Gryffindors don’t run away.” Albus spat.

“Well you should have considered it, because now you owe a Slytherin a favor.”

“Fine. Get it over with so I can leave.”

Scorpius smirked and leaned back in his seat comfortably. “I need you to find out what James and Fred are up to.”

Albus sat up angrily. “I am not spying on my family for you, Malfoy,”

“Yes. You are. Because you owe me a favor.”

“Figure something else out. I’m not doing this.”

“Nope. You’re doing it. I don’t care whether or not you tell me any specifics or whatever. I just want to know if whatever scheme they’re planning has anything to do with the books that were stolen.”

“What?” Albus looked shocked. “You can’t be serious.”

“I am completely serious, Albus. You know your brother and cousin as well as anyone. Do you think they could have pulled off that theft?”

Albus thought for a moment. “Yes.” He answered, reluctantly. “But those books were dark, I don’t really think…”

Scorpius cut him off. “I don’t care what you think they’d do with them. The books were dangerous enough that Professor Longbottom is pulling students out of class to question them. Professor McGonagall is doing midnight rounds again. Madam Pince is scared shitless. They shouldn’t have them. No one should.”

Albus crossed his arms defensively. “I don’t really disagree with you.”

“Good. Figure it out. You have a week.”

“And if I don’t cooperate?”

“I’ll make sure Violet never looks at you twice again.”

Albus got up and left without a backwards glance.

--

Rose flopped on the couch beside Riley and gave an exaggerated sigh. “Sometimes I just don’t understand boys.”

Riley snorted. “You’re complaining to the wrong person. I have zero experience or interest in boys. Violet?”

Violet looked up from the chintzey armchair next to the fire. “I have nothing to offer.” Violet shrugged. “I could have sworn Albus was going to ask me out today, but instead he stops and talks to Malfoy, of all people.”

“That may have been my fault.” Rose said, tucking her feet under her to get comfortable. “I accidentally let it slip that I knew a secret of Malfoy’s that Albus told me…and also I have detention. But bright-side,” she continued quickly in an attempt to distract, “he is going to ask you out!”

“What?!” Violet gaped, “I mean--he’s going to ask me out, yay--but detention?! What happened?”

“We got caught out after curfew.”

“We?” Riley nudged Rose with her shoulder. “You don’t mean Malfoy was out there with you? Is he the dumb boy? Are you finally giving in to the urge to follow in James’ reckless footsteps?”

Rose stuck her tongue out at her friend. “No. I was going to knit, like usual, and I literally ran into him and then McGonagall caught us and we both freaked out and I got mad at him and let it slip…and he called me beautiful the other day, but denied it later and I just don’t know.”

“When did he call you beautiful?!” Riley exclaimed. “You’ve been holding out on us!”

“On Wednesday…”

“Rose!” Riley bashed her friend with the nearest throw pillow.

“I’ve been busy!” Rose yelped as she attempted to shield herself from squishy death.

“Maybe he was embarrassed?” Violet offered, ignoring her friends’ antics. “I know he seems standoffish, but maybe he’s just shy?”

“Why would he say it if he was going to take it back later?” Rose asked. “What’s the point?”

“Men are idiots.” Riley said and patted Rose awkwardly on the shoulder.

“Maybe he was so entranced by your beauty he had to say something, but later was embarrassed?” Violet tended to be the more romantic of the three.

Rose shook her head. “No. I think he’s just an idiot.” Riley laughed at Violet’s pout and the conversation moved on to where Violet was going to make Albus take her on their impending date.

But later, lying in bed, Rose restlessly wondered if he’d meant it.

Chapter Text

Wherein the forest reveals more mysteries

Saturday – October 1

 

Rose shivered and pulled her cloak tighter against the chill creeping down her back. Early October nights were far too cold to be traipsing around the Forbidden Forest. She hurried towards the greenhouses and their warmth.

“Weasley.” Scorpius called in greeting as she entered the greenhouse closest to the castle.

“Malfoy.” She replied curtly. Rose stomped her feet and rubbed her hands together so that she might get some feeling back in her extremities.

“It’s too bloody cold for this.” Scorpius complained.

“Hmm.”

Scorpius frowned at her non-answer, but handed over his jar of flickering blue flames.

“Thank you.” She wrapped her hands around the warmth and held it close to her chest. Scorpius didn’t like how it sounded more like a question than a statement of gratitude.

Albus bustled in a couple agonizingly awkward minutes later and greeted Scorpius much more civilly than Rose had managed. To his cousin’s confusion the two stepped further away from the relative warmth of the entrance and started whispering. Neville arrived before Rose had a chance to properly eavesdrop.

“Evening.” He called out. In one hand he held a bright lantern, and in the other several baskets. “We seem to be missing one.”

“Hugo said he was coming down right after me.” Albus shrugged.

Rose glanced out the glass door and saw her brother running towards them. A far off--“I’m coming! I’m on time!”--could be heard.

“I’m here!” The red-faced boy announced as he burst through the door, huffing and puffing. Rose had a feeling he had just ran the entire way from the common room. She shot a disapproving look at her little brother who shrugged off her non-verbal admonishment.

“Well, Mr. Weasley, our definitions of “on time” don’t seem to match up. I’m afraid that’s five points from Gryffindor.” Albus glared at his cousin. Hugo stared determinedly at the ground refusing to meet anyone’s eye.

Neville continued on. “This evening we’ll be harvesting some Night-Blooming Delphimium for the upper-level potions classes. This highly potent flower has several magic properties, including: regeneration, rejuvenation, and is often used as a stabilizer in complicated potions. It favors exposed roots of yew trees and the blossoms only open at night, hence the name. For these reasons it is considerably rare. Luckily I was able to cultivate a good amount of the plants in a yew thicket not far into the forest. Now – ”

Neville clapped his hands together once to startle his students back to attention. “Each of you grab a basket and follow me.”

His students followed his instructions and the small group started off toward the shadowy expanse of the forest.

“The forest is kept safe by centaurs who guard it from dark creatures, or at the very least keep them deep inside the forest. The thicket of Yew trees is well within the safe part of the forest. Should you find any danger, send up red sparks.”

As they grew closer to the edge of the forest Scorpius grew more and more nervous. He was positive his face was exploring new shades of pale. He was thankful he was ahead of the other students and behind Neville so no one could see how scared he really was.

“It was just a story.” He assured himself under his breath.

“What’s just a story?” Of course Rose had heard him. In his quiet panic he hadn’t noticed her falling into step next to him.

“My father told me a story about his first detention once, when he was trying to scare me into behaving while I was at Hogwarts.”

“What happened?” She pressed.

They had started to pass the first trees. Scorpius kept his eyes resolutely on the path before him.

“He was caught out of bed after curfew, something about a dragon…anyway he had to go into the forest at night with Hagrid. Something had injured a Unicorn--”

Rose scoffed. “That’s nearly impossible! Besides--”

Anyway ,” Scorpius continued over her, “they split into two groups and he went with another first year and a giant dog to follow a trail of silvery blood. His group ended up finding the injured unicorn first. Something awful and dark--I’m pretty sure it was a vampire--had killed the unicorn and was drinking its blood.”

“That can’t have happened…” Rose stated, but her concerned expression gave away her uncertainty.

“It’s true.” The two jumped, they hadn’t realized Neville was listening. “I was there.”

“Does that mean there really are vampires in here?” Hugo piped up from the back. He started walking noticeably closer to Albus.

“No.” Neville stopped walking. “The something wasn’t a vampire. That was taken care of a long time ago. Nothing to worry about! Here we are!” He exclaimed with false cheer.

He cast the light of the lantern over the base of a nearby tree and pointed at several pale, glowing white blossoms. “Be careful when plucking the flowers. Pinch from the base and pull gently.”

It took less than half an hour, but the group’s baskets were nearly overflowing with the flowers when Neville declared their task finished. He was more than pleased about the plentiful harvest. The group headed back to the castle cold, but pleased their detention was over quickly.

Rose was half listening to Albus and Hugo’s argument over the most recent Chudley Cannons match when she saw something on the path. A small silver puddle on the hard packed dirt shined in the light from Neville’s lantern. “Professor!” She cried. The entire group turned to her.

“Rose?” Neville asked, swinging the lantern to illuminate her face. “Are you all right?” She was alarmingly pale.

Rose speechlessly pointed to the blood and Scorpius realized what she had spotted. “Professor, I think it’s…it looks like unicorn blood.” He felt sick.

Neville’s eyes grew wide and he hurried to Rose’s side. His lantern revealed even more blood off the path, the thick trail leading outside of the sphere of illuminated forest. Hugo grabbed his sister’s arm and whimpered.

“Wands out.” Neville ordered calmly. “Back to the castle. Quickly.” He pulled out his own wand and urged his students forward.

They didn’t stop until they were safely behind the comfortingly solid doors of the castle. Neville ordered the students to their common rooms, grabbed their baskets full of glowing flowers, and bolted down the corridor towards the headmistress’ office.

The four students didn’t follow Neville’s order right away, instead taking a moment to catch their breaths.

“Bloody hell.” Albus finally groaned, breaking the silence. “I think we were wrong, Malfoy.”

“Wrong about what?” Rose asked.

Scorpius and Albus shared a look, and nodded at each other. “About what we thought was happening.”

“What’s happening?” Hugo demanded more than he asked.

“We thought James and Fred stole those books from the library for some nefarious plot.” Albus explained. “But from the looks of that… maybe something else is going on.”

Scorpius shrugged. “Well, I’m not convinced they aren’t behind that too.”

“No way in hell James and Fred are capable of that .” Rose insisted. “Stealing books is right up their alley, but not… that.

Albus and Hugo nodded in agreement. “You might have heard them discussing explosives,” Albus said vehemently, “but that has nothing to do with what we saw in the forest.”

Scorpius held his hands up in surrender. “Okay. Fine. But I still think we should carry out the surveillance plan.”

Hugo frowned. “You’re spying on our family?”

“A little bit? I wouldn’t call it spying, more like monitoring their movements…” Scorpius winced. He was aware of how bad this sounded considering their families’ history. “Just James and Fred.”

Rose sighed. “I guess it’s justified, with how dark those books are said to be… How exactly are you spying on them though? They might notice you suddenly following them around everywhere.”

“Albus was going to watch them in the common room and I know how to keep my distance and act nonchalant.”

“And what if they split up?” Rose pointed out. “You can’t be in two places at once.”

“Okay, so we hadn’t really gotten that far…” Albus trailed off at the sound of footsteps far off down the hallway.

“Shit!” Rose hissed. “Hugo, Albus, we’re leaving now. ” She grabbed their robes and towed them towards the stairs.

Scorpius jogged as quietly as he could towards a nook that would hide him from the oncoming professors. Low, panicked voices were becoming louder the closer the footsteps got to his hiding place. He held his breath as they passed him, unaware of his presence.

“I don’t know if we can save it or not.” Neville replied to the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor.

“And you’re sure this has something to do with the books?”

“I have no idea, but it sure as hell can’t be a good thing.”

The voices trailed off and Scorpius slowly started breathing again. Once he was sure they had gone he snuck off into the darkened corridor. He didn’t feel safe until he had the curtains closed and his sheets tucked tightly around him.

Chapter Text

Wherein students explore the finer points of accidental confrontation

Sunday – October 2

 

McGonagall looked up from her desk as her office door opened. “Please, have a seat.” She waved a hand at the empty chairs in front of her imposing, large desk. She looked comically small behind it in her old age. Not that anyone would tell that to her face, old age or not, she was still a fierce woman.

“Biscuit?”

“Err, yes. Thank you ma’am.”

“I’m pleased that the ministry recognizes the severity of the situation and responded to our request for help so swiftly. However, I wouldn’t be lying if I said I expected a more…experienced investigative team.”

Teddy shifted in his seat uncomfortably. “Yes ma’am. My supervisors were concerned you might feel this way, but due to the large overload of cases I’m the only investigative team they have to spare.”

“You’re the whole team?”

“Well it’s more of a partial unit…”

“I see.” McGonagall’s lips were in a distressingly thin line that Teddy recognized easily from his many visits to this office during his years in Hogwarts. He was mostly sure she could not give him detention anymore. Mostly.

“I’ll be reporting directly to top officials in the Auror department. They thought it best to send me due to my unique qualifications.”

“Which are?” McGonagall adjusted her spectacles. This ought to be good.

“Due to my inherited talents I’ve been trained extensively in undercover operations. I’ve worked several long-term operations, all of which have resulted in sufficient evidence for sentencing. I’ve also graduated recently enough to still have an intimate knowledge of Hogwarts and its nooks and crannies.”

McGonagall gave her former student a rare genuine smile. “You’ve done well for yourself, Mr. Lupin. I did not mean to be short with you. I am more than satisfied with your credentials. I just wish there were several more of you.” She paused to rub the bridge of her nose. “I’m worried, Teddy. Something is not right here.”

“I’ve read the reports Neville sent in.” Teddy removed a bulging folder from his bag and leafed through the sheaf of parchment. “I’ve also collected as much material I could about the books taken and the uses of Unicorn blood, horn, hair, and hooves. Right now I’m working with the theory that the two incidents are connected. I’m trying to figure out what potion or ritual the suspect is attempting to carry out.”

“Potion or ritual ? Rituals haven’t been used for centuries, you don’t really think…”

“I’m not willing to rule anything out right now. It’d be helpful if the Potions Master and the Hospital wing could make a thorough inventory of all supplies. If any go missing we could have a better idea of what the perpetrator could be planning. The prefects should be making complete sweeps of the castle. All dark corners and alcoves need to be searched for any indication of potion making or rituals.”

McGonagall leaned back in her chair and sighed again. “This is going to have to be carried out delicately to avoid alarming the students. There’s already going to be talk about the unicorn from the students in detention…”

“I’ll need a list of those students. They may have to be questioned about the incident.”

“Well,” McGonagall laughed shortly, “that will be easily done for you, as you’re related to all of them.”

“My cousins are well adept at finding trouble.” Teddy said with a wry smile.

“And not so long ago you’d be right out there leading them. They’ll be glad you’re back.”

“I’m afraid they aren’t to know I’m here.”

“No? Right, you’ll be undercover. Easily done for a Metamorphmagus. Your mother would be proud.”

Teddy smiled at his old teacher and winked before transforming into a stooped, old man. “Meet Hogwarts’ newest caretaker.”

Standing he offered a gnarled hand which McGonagall shook. “Marin has been asking for a vacation for years. Let me show you to your new quarters.”

--

Albus shuffled down the hall aimlessly. Or at least what he hoped looked aimless. He was late to meet Violet behind the Hag and he really didn’t want to disappoint her. He rounded the corner and nearly ran directly into his older brother.

“Oi! Watch it, wanker!” James punched his brother’s arm lightly. “What brings you skulking to this side of the castle?”

“Nothing much. Just a walk to clear my head.”

“Sure.” James rolled his eyes. “Does this have anything to do with the fact that you’ve been spying on me recently?”

“H-how did you know?” Albus gaped. “Was it Hugo? It was Hugo wasn’t it. Flippin’ Hugo.”

“Don’t tell Hugo anything he wouldn’t trade for a chocolate bar.” James smirked. “You think I stole the books? Committed a spot of unicorn murder? ME? Your own brother .” James voice had risen until he was shouting.

“You’d go to China and back to set up a good prank, James.” Albus shot back. “And everyone knows, as you’ve been threatening for ages, your big finale is going to be the worst one yet.”

“Worst? You wound me.” James laid a hand across his chest as if to clutch his heart. “But I’ll let you in on it, just so you’ll get your panties out of a twist. It’s not going to be a prank, and that my dear brother, is the prank.”

“The prank is: there is no prank?”

“Well, I’m still going to put on a hell of a show, but it isn’t going to be a prank. I’m trying to show here that I’ve grown, I’m an adult now, it’s okay to unleash me on society!”

“Someone heard you and Fred talking about explosives. That’s your way to show everyone you’re an adult, explosives?”

“So you’ve got more than one person spying on me, eh? And not explosives, it’s more of a distribution method. You’ll just have to wait and see like the rest of them. The problem is I’m trying to make them myself and it’s not going so well.”

“Well that’s, nice? I guess.”

“Yup. So. Violet, huh?”

“W-what?” Albus turned bright red as James hooked a thumb behind him pointing at the statue of the Hag.

“Have a good night little brother .” James spat and strolled off.

“Bugger off.” Albus waited until he couldn’t hear James’ footsteps before sheepishly joining Violet in the alcove behind the statue.

--

Rose winced as the portrait door clicked shut louder than she had intended. She swept through the corridors as quietly as she could, though her stomach was threatening to give away her position. A late night study session after skipping dinner was admittedly ill advised. 

After tickling the correct fruits she enters the kitchens to find…chaos. 

Malfoy stood in the middle of the kitchens looking paler than usual. A half empty bag of flour sat in front of him on the floor. A white cloud still floated around him. 

“Bloody hell!” Rose laughed. “You look awful.”

“You startled me.” Malfoy spat defensively as he glared down at his ruined jeans.

Rose rolled her eyes, flicked her wand, muttered a few words and all traces of the powdery mess disappeared.

“I could have done that.” He growled as she flounced in. “What are you even doing here. Haven't learned your lesson from last time?”

“Last time?” Rose asked from a stool across the counter from what looked like a tasty batch of biscuits.

“Getting detention from the Headmistress for skulking after hours?”

Rose shrugged. “It's too late for even her to be up. And besides, I'm starving. What are we having?”

Malfoy glared at her. “I'm making chocolate biscuits. You're eating whatever you scrounge up.”

Leftover Sandwich it was. Ron had taught his daughter the culinary arts as best he could. Which meant Rose's midnight snack was a meatloaf and gravy sandwich.

“What in Merlin's name are you eating?” Malfoy's nose was scrunched up in a way Rose refused to identify as cute.

“A Weasley special. Want some?” She waved half the sandwich in his direction.

“I don't think so.”

“Oh come on it’s delicious! Try some.” Rose put the half on a plate and shoved it towards him. He tentatively ate a bite. “Well?”

“It isn't as bad as I thought.”  He continued eating it. The kitchen descended into silence as they both chewed. Eventually Malfoy returned to his biscuits and Rose busied herself with making another sandwich. 

She fiddled with the loose button on her sweater until finally breaking the tense silence. 

“I figured out what was drinking the unicorn's blood.”

“What?” A blond head shot up from tending biscuits in the oven. “From the other night?”

“No. From your father's story. I wrote my mum a letter after the detention telling her about the blood. I got her reply this morning and she told pretty much the same story your father told you.”

Malfoy's eyebrows rose as he put another tray of biscuits into the oven. "So was I right? It was a vampire?”

“No. It was a professor.”

“What?”

“Yup,” Rose mumbled through a bite of meatloaf sandwich. “A Defense Against the Dark Arts professor.” 

“Who was the idiot that hired him?”

“The Board of Governors probably. I had never heard of the guy, Quirrell, so I looked him up in the library catalogue. Every single book he was referenced in had something to do with the War.”

“ So he was working for...”

“Voldemort,” Rose cut in impatiently. “In a way, he was Voldemort.”

“What?”

“A piece of Voldemort's soul was residing with Quirrell. On the back of his head.”

“I don't … so … how did that have anything to do with the Unicorn blood?”

“That's the thing, the books never mentioned the Unicorn blood so I looked that up too. Mostly to figure out exactly what magical properties it has.”

“I know it's powerful, but otherwise…”

“Right. It's an extremely powerful source of magic. It strengthens and elongates life, but the life is tainted.”

“Cursed?”

Rose nodded.

“That's a lot of information. When did you have time for all this? There's a potions test tomorrow.”

“Bugger off.” There was a reason why she was up so late. Rose's expression suddenly brightened. “Hey, don't you pay for information?”

“Occasionally.” Scorpius was inordinately proud that his cutthroat tactics were known even among Gryffindors.

“I'll take my payment in the form of a biscuit.”

“I think you're forgetting something.”

“Please?” She held out her hand hopefully. 

“You've already told me all of the information without offering your terms.”

Rose looked at Scorpius smugly. “Well I left off the last bit on purpose.” She was just as cunning as a Slytherin should be. Merlin, he was screwed.

“How do I know it's worth it?”

“You'll just have to trust me.”

Scorpius stared at her to try and judge her intentions, but was distracted by the crumbs on her lips. He sighed, defeated, and slid a biscuit across the counter. 

“Quirrell later died trying to retrieve the sorcerer's stone.”

“A source of immortality. He wanted to live forever?”

“Voldemort wanted to live forever, hence the stone. But I think the blood was either to prepare for a new body or to strengthen Quirrell as he supported two souls in one body. That's isn't the interesting part though.”

“No?”

“No,” Rose scoffed, “Any intermediate level book on the War talks about Voldemort's efforts to get the stone.”

“Don't mock me! You said you didn't know who Quirrell was.”

“Well how could I? They don't mention his name in the one we read for History of Magic!”

“Okay, fine! Get to the interesting stuff already, damn.”

“Unicorn blood has long thought to be a key ingredient to the sorcerer's stone. I did some cross-referencing with the catalogue. I figured out that several books theorizing about the stone's makeup and immortality are missing.”

“The books that were stolen...”

“Likely.”

“Wait a minute, how did you get into the restricted section to check what's missing?”

“I have my ways.” Rose shrugged. “I'm getting tired so I'm heading out. Thanks for the biscuit.” She stuffed the napkin wrapped treat in her sweater pocket. “Just one more question.”

“What are you going to offer for the answer?”

“Nothing. You owe me.”

Scorpius laughed. “Do I?”

“Yes.” Rose wasn’t laughing. In fact, Scorpius wasn’t sure he’d ever seen her look so serious. “Do you--or do you not--think I’m beautiful?”

Scorpius looked at her, gob-smacked. “Of course I think you’re beautiful,” he managed to sputter out after a moment.

Rose nodded once, spun on her heel, and left, leaving Scorpius very confused as to what just happened.

Chapter Text

Wherein the conflicts grow and if the shoe flies…

Wednesday – October 5

 

James may have been busy figuring out his not-prank, but he still noticed the weird shift in his family. Albus was accusing him of ridiculous things and conspiring with Malfoy. Hugo was snooping more than usual. Rose had been giggling with her friends about a boy in the common room. Rose was giggling about a boy . Something was up, and James had a very good feeling that all of this had something to do with Malfoy.

James finally reached his breaking point when he saw Rose’s hand dipping into Malfoy’s bag as she walked past him in the corridor. Maybe that covert motion could have gone unnoticed were it not accompanied by her obvious smirk.

He watched his cousin pass him by obliviously. James scowled at Malfoy as he walked by, grabbed him by the arm, and pulled him into a deserted doorway.

“What the bloody hell are you doing, Potter?” Scorpius tugged his arm out of James’ grasp and straightened his robes.

“Why the bloody hell is Rose smiling at you?”

Scorpius scoffed. “Why the hell do you care who she smiles at?”

“She’s my cousin. I’m required to care. Don’t think we haven’t noticed you getting sweet on her all the sudden.”

WE?!? Exactly how many people are threatening me right now?”

“How many would be enough to get you to stop? Leave Rose alone or I swear on Merlin’s-”

James was interrupted by a cough and a quiet wheeze. The boys turned and noticed suddenly that the corridor was empty except for a decrepit looking old man. “I believe you two are late for class.” The new caretaker waggled an equally ancient looking mop at them and croaked, “Now get going or I’ll put you to work.”

James and Scorpius wasted no time in storming off in opposite directions.

Scorpius, luckily enough, had a free period and was not late to anything. Just royally pissed off. He fumed down to the Slytherin common room and settled into the couch to go over his Charms notes one more time before class. He reached into his bag and found a neatly folded piece of parchment he didn’t recognize. It had his name on it in neat script…

Scorpius,

Your biscuits are magical (haha). I must have this recipe. I know you’re bonkers about quid pro quo so I have a proposition for you. I’ve done more research into the sorcerer’s stone and would be willing to part with my notes for the right price. Meet me in the furthest corner of the library at 8:00 tonight.

Rose

--

Scorpius scanned the back of the mostly deserted library and found Rose seated at the appointed meeting place. A pang of disappointment arose in him as he realized she was not alone. Albus sat next to her, glaring at the ceiling with his feet up on the table and his chair tilted back at a dangerous angle. He righted himself as he noticed Scorpius approaching.

“Potter, Weasley.” Scorpius put his bag on the chair across from Albus and sat down, facing Rose.

“We’ve done some research--,” Albus started.

“Hang on. We?” Rose snorted. “ I’ve done some research. Albus was too busy sneaking off behind the shelves with Violet.”

Albus turned pink, but didn’t deny the accusation.

I’ve read more about theories on Sorcerer’s Stone creation and I’ve noticed that the most reputable sources agree that the stone was created using a ritual”

“Which is…?” Albus asked.

“Well you’d know what it was is if you’d been paying attention in History of Magic last year. It’s the precursor to spells and potions. Prior to advancements in wand making and potion brewing, enchantments had to be cast with some combination of incantations and potions.”

“Which makes sense, because when Flamel made the stone those would have been the methods he used! That’s so obvious, why didn’t I know that?” Scorpius asked.

Albus laughed. “Guess you weren’t paying attention either, mate.”

Rose ignored him and continued, “Several scholars also believe that the ritual must be started one full cycle before a full moon that rises on All Hallows Eve.”

“Let me guess,” Scorpius sighed, “There’s a full moon on Halloween this year.”

“Ahh, no actually.” Albus sat up. “I was just doing my astronomy homework with Violet. There’s a new moon that night.”

“A symbol of rebirth on the night when the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest.”

“Poetic and creepy.” Albus replied.

“It’s a quote,” Rose shuffled through her papers until she found the one she was looking for. “Written by Marietta Dietrich in the early 1800s. She died attempting to make the stone.”

“Aaaand now it’s creepier.” Albus said after a beat of silence.

Scorpius rolled his eyes. “Okay, so the Sorcerer’s Stone is looking more likely. I didn’t find anything nearly as interesting. There are hundreds of uses for Unicorn blood and thousands more that are theoretical. Almost every single potion that improves state of life or health requires at least one drop of unicorn blood.”

“What about rituals?” Albus asked.

“I hadn’t thought to look.” Scorpius admitted. “But that seems like the next logical step.”

“Are you busy tomorrow evening?” Rose asked.

“No, I only have one essay due Friday and it’s already half finished.”

“Excellent, we’ll meet back here same time tomorrow. But first, I believe you owe me a recipe.” She stuck out her hand and Scorpius pretended to look at it appraisingly.

“Where’s your payment for my research?” He asked.

“I don’t need one.” Rose smirked. “You’ve already admitted mine was better.”

--

Scorpius is a fool for a pretty girl with a smirk on her face. He left the library empty handed and empty headed. He was still smiling, thinking of his plans for the following evening, when he walked into his dormitory. It took Scorpius a moment to realize Daniel was throwing shoes at the wall and cursing under his breath. Their roommates’ curtains were firmly closed. Scorpius suspected they were also charmed to muffle the noise.

“Daniel.” Scorpius caught a boot and placed it quietly at the foot of his bed. “Would you like to talk about it?”

“The git.” Daniel lobbed a trainer, “Kisses me and then has the audacity to start bloody yelling at me like it’s my fault.”

“Was it your fault?” Scorpius dodged another boot and decided that taking cover behind his bed was probably the best place for him right now.

“NO. HE KISSED ME. It’s not my fucking fault my ass made him gay. Stupid git. I should have never started flirting with him in the first place.”

“Who are we talking about here?” Scorpius waited for the other shoe to drop, but thankfully Daniel seemed to have run out.

“Gregory Kirkpatrick.” Daniel sighs and sits on the edge of the bed above Scorpius. Scorpius jumps up angrily.

“Are you bloody kidding me?!? KIRKPATRICK ? Out of all the blokes in Hogwarts you choose Gregory Bloody Kirkpatrick?”

“His arms are amazing!” Daniels yells back, “And you’ve seen his eyes they’re as blue as the ocean in the South of France!”

“You hate the bloody ocean! And the South of France!”

“Okay, fine. So I have shite taste in men.” Daniel crossed his arms. “Too late now.”

Scorpius hated to see his best friend so upset over something as dumb as Gregory Bloody Kirkpatrick. “Do you want me to make him pay?”

A wicked smile spread across Daniel’s dark face. “Yes.”

“First get better taste in men.” Scorpius knocked him out of his bed with a pillow and dodged yet another shoe.

Chapter Text

Wherein comeuppance is agreed upon

Thursday – October 8

 

Scorpius was in a good mood. Last night’s meeting with Rose went well. He hadn’t said anything monumentally stupid and they’d be meeting again tonight. Heading to his final class of the day, Scorpius was so distracted with his happy thoughts he almost ran directly into a scowling James Potter.

“Watch it.” The eldest Potter bit out from behind clenched teeth and a scowl.

“Sorry.” Scorpius apologized, and made to walk around James but remembered a promise he had made earlier. “Actually, I need to ask you a favor.”

James let out a short, nasty laugh. “I really don’t think you should.”

Scorpius continued undeterred. “You might actually like this one. I need you to do something awful to Gregory Kirkpatrick.”

James raised his eyebrows in surprise. This was not actually something he was opposed to. “What’s your problem with him?”

“He messed with a friend.” Scorpius shrugged. “That’s enough for me. I know he’s caused problems for your family in the past so I thought you might want to be a part of his misery. I already have something in mind if you’re interested.”

James glanced around the corridor and deemed it empty enough, “Go on then.”

Scorpius leaned in, less convinced of their privacy. “I know there are charms that can cause things to happen when you cough or sneeze. I know there are also ways to transfigure clothing, say a pair of trousers into a hot pink tutu or something equally embarrassing. Put the two together, find yourself some Ever-Pollinating Sneeze Powder, sprinkle it on his uniform before the next practice match…”

A wicked smile spread across James’ face. “Maybe you’re not so bad after all, Malfoy. You get me the powder, I’ll handle the rest.”

The two shook hands and walked away.

--

Teddy meandered out from behind a pillar and sighed. He knew that he’d find himself cleaning up after that mess.

Teddy was starting to rethink the so-called brilliance of his plan. Going undercover as a caretaker actually required manual labor. He did not think that far ahead. He shifted his wand farther up his sleeve and continued sweeping the corridor for the 5th fucking time this week. He had no idea how Hogwarts students were so filthy, but he had some compelling theories that involved rolling in mud and pixies. It was a wonder he’d been able to keep an eye on the students at all.

Not that he’d been very successful in that regard. All he’d noticed so far is how close Scorpius Malfoy and the younger members of the Potter family seemed to be.

Malfoy and Albus were whispering to each other between classes. Rose was slipping notes into Malfoy’s bag when they passed in the hall. Which caused the shouting match he had to break up between Malfoy and James. He wasn’t sure if plotting together was a better alternative to fighting. Oddest of all he was pretty sure he had seen Malfoy slipping Hugo chocolate bars earlier in the week.

Besides keeping watch on his own family, which always seemed to be right in the thick of all the trouble, Teddy had been keeping a close eye on the upper level students. He has even gone so far as to befriend Myrtle to keep on top of the latest gossip. But he had heard nothing, not even whispers, of anything dark or untoward. Unless you counted what he caught two sixth years doing in his broom cupboard late last night.

McGonagall and his superiors were disappointed with his lack of information, but what choice did they have? The thief seemed to be laying low. It was unsettling to say the least. Teddy had been told a rogue centaur caused the trouble in the forest with the unicorn, but he was not convinced. Neville identified slash marks, not arrow piercings.

Teddy stowed his broom in the, thankfully, empty cupboard and meandered down the hall in the peculiar shuffle required for his cover. He was due for his daily meeting with McGonagall.

“Afternoon, headmistress.” He called into the office.

“Good afternoon, Mr. Lupin.” She sat primly behind her desk, lips thin and hands clasped in front of her.

“Nothing further to report, unfortunately.” Teddy sighed, frustrated with his own lack of progress. “Although you should be aware I’ve given two students detention for going at it in one of my cupboards.”

“Yes, I got your note. That is unfortunately par for the course for Mr. Kirkpatrick. I’m not sure how much longer we can justify your presence here.”

“I understand,” Teddy sighed again. “It just doesn’t feel right does it? Neville has fought alongside centaurs before; he would have recognized arrow wounds. And then there’s fact they didn’t find a wounded unicorn or even a body once they returned…”

“Something isn’t right.” Minerva agreed. “I’m still not sure what to do, but for now I feel better with you keeping an eye on the students.”

“I have noticed interesting something though, I don’t know how relevant it is…but, when did Scorpius Malfoy become so close to the Potters and Weasleys? I was under the impression they avoided him at all costs.”

Minerva frowned. “I’m not sure. I hadn’t noticed it myself. Could that be relevant somehow?”

“I don’t know.” Teddy laughed, but there was little humor behind it. “My family always seems to be right in the thick of the trouble. I’m related him by blood, the rest by choice.” He smiled at the thought of Victoire. Slapping his battered hat on his knee, he rose out of his chair. “I’ll keep an eye out for any trouble. I’ll be back here same time tomorrow.”

Minerva waved him out the door and leaned back in her chair. It always seemed as though she was far more tired when he left.

--

He should have expected it this time.

Really. He should have.

And yet here he is staring at the intruder through a cloud of flour scowling like the Bloody Baron. He used a dishtowel to wipe the flour out of his eyes and looked up to see Albus grinning at him.

“Hey, Scorpius. Need some help with that?”

Scorpius glared at him as he muttered, “Scourgify. You people are menaces.”

“Gryffindors?”

“Weasleys.”

“Hey, James and Fred aren’t the only ones that can get away with shit. Weasleys are a sneaky bunch. What are you baking tonight?”

“More biscuits. Why are you here? Skip dinner again?”

“Yeah, I’m just grabbing something for Violet and I. Did you and Rose figure out what’s happening yet?”

Scorpius shrugged and continued adding his dry ingredients to the bowl. “Most of what we’ve figured out is that you can theoretically do a lot of dark magic with unicorn blood. We can’t know for sure because the books missing from the library were rare and particularly controversial. We have a couple of solid theories, but we haven’t really figured out anything new since yesterday.” He sighed. Even if they did have the books it’d still be difficult to know what was being planned.

“Uh huh.” Albus looked up from his stack of sandwiches and smirked. “More time in the library with Rose all to yourself, sounds rough buddy.”

Scorpius could feel his cheeks burning, but he refused to look up from the scale where he was weighing out chocolate chips. “Why exactly did you and Violet miss dinner?”

“Why do you think?” Albus laughed. It’s hard to shame the shameless. “Ignore James’ threats. The family won’t care so long as you respect her, and repeatedly acknowledge she’s better than you.”

“Thank you?”

“No problem.” Albus looked at Scorpius appraisingly. “You haven’t told her yet though, have you?”

“Told her what?”

“How you feel about her.”

Scorpius started folding the chips in more aggressively. “We’re not talking about this.”

Albus laughed. “Okay, mate. Save me a biscuit?” Scorpius glared at him and Albus strolled out the door with a parcel of sandwiches and a smirk on his face.

--

Rose made a final mark on the parchment in front of her before leaning back and letting out a sigh that she’d been holding in for far too long. She scanned the parchment for any correctable errors. She wasn’t committing to the task as mindfully as she was three hours ago. Counting out and weighing a seemingly endless stock of potions supplies was far more mentally exhausting than she anticipated.

Suddenly, Rose had a startling realization. Glancing at the professor to make sure they weren’t paying attention she grabbed a piece of scrap parchment. She scanned the paper more thoroughly and transcribed several figures to the smaller piece of parchment. Rose stuffed the list into her bag and hurriedly gathered her things.

“I’ve finished going over the list you gave me.” Rose said, handing the stack of parchment to her professor.

“Thank you for your help with inventory tonight, Rose.”

“You’re welcome Professor Murphy. I’m happy to help.”

“I’ll apply the extra credit to your last test. It should bump up your grade a point--” Rose had already raced out of the dungeons.

She jumped through the portrait hole with such fervor that she nearly tripped and fell on her face. Thank Merlin for strategically placed First Years with good reflexes. Rose disentangled herself from their arms and made her way to where Albus and Violet sat together eating sandwiches.

“Rose! We saved you a sandwich. Hugo told me you missed dinner and I figured you’d be tired after your extra credit assignment.” Violet handed Rose a sandwich.

“Oh, I’ll need a few minutes before this. Thank you--but I just spent three hours with some truly stomach turning supplies.”

“It’s the eyes.” Albus winced in sympathy.

“They always get me.” Rose rubbed her stomach and cringed. “Anyway, Violet--could I borrow the Potion Supply Compendium your gran gave you for your birthday?” Violet’s grandma had different ideas about birthday presents that were appropriate for a teenager.

“Of course. Do you need me to grab it for you?”

“Is it still under your bed?”

“Yeah, same place it always is.”

“I can find it. Thank you! Good night!” She left the couple as quickly as she had appeared.

Chapter Text

Wherein the inevitable happens

Friday – October 8

Scorpius did not expect to be grabbed and pulled behind a statue. Yelping in surprise, he started batting at the hands gripping his arm before realizing it was Rose. He surrendered immediately.

“Calm down, Malfoy. Honestly.” Rose seemed frazzled and looked even more tired than usual.

“Are you okay, Rose?” Scorpius was hyper-aware of her unreleased grip on his arm and of how close she was. He tried to focus on breathing and pretending like he didn’t want to press even closer. Given the panicked look on Rose’s face; now might not be the time.

“I think I know what’s going on. But I need more help. Can we meet in the library tonight same time as yesterday?”

“Of course.” He reached up and pulled her hand off his arm and gave it a reassuring squeeze. “Did you sleep last night?”

“Barely. I have History of Magic next though, so I’ll sleep more.”

“I’ll give you my notes tonight.” Scorpius laughed and she gave him a weary smile.

“Thank you.” Rose hugged him and dashed off so quickly Scorpius hardly had a chance to react. He couldn't even give her the biscuits he made especially for her the night before.

He leaned his head back onto the cool wall behind him and breathed in deep. He’d never seen Rose so unsettled, and yet, all he could think about was the warmth of her arms around him.

--

“Albus!” Violet giggled and pushed him away lightly. “You can’t just snog me in the middle of the corridor, I don’t care how deserted it is!” Albus started to protest, but Violet was already tugging him in the direction of the nearest alcove, behind a dazzlingly white statue of a unicorn.

The two were shocked, and dismayed, to find it already occupied by a muttering fourth-year. He yelped at the sight of them and took off towards the end of the corridor.

“That guy must really have a thing for unicorns.” Violet laughed, but Albus paled a little.

“Why would you say that? Was he doing something? Did he have anything with him?” Albus was leaning out trying to catch a better glimpse of the quickly retreating figure.

“No – I mean, he was just hiding behind a…unicorn, Albus?”

Her boyfriend jumped and turned back towards her. She was clearly annoyed.

“Something is going on.” Violet stated firmly, arms crossed. “Does this have anything to do with the unicorn in the forest or the weird meetings you and Rose keep having with Malfoy?”

“Ahh--” Albus tried to stall, but after a moment of really thinking about it, he found no reason not to tell Violet the truth. “We saw something in the forest, we’re all sure of it. We’re certain it has something to do with the missing books too. Rose and Scorpius have really been digging into it, and it seems like this could be someone gathering resources for dark magic, or a ritual…Scorpius and Rose have a better handle on this than me. I’ve just been trying to keep my eyes peeled for anything out of sorts.”

“Why on earth would you think this is your responsibility!” Violet seemed exasperated. “Shouldn’t Headmistress McGonagall and Professor Longbottom be handling this?”

Albus shrugged, and said a little defensively, “I don’t know why, we just know that something bad could happen. No one seemed to take us seriously about the unicorn and everyone has already forgotten about the books. We thought it was James and Fred being idiots at first, but once we cleared them we kept digging. Why stop now?”

Violet wrung her hands, clearly upset about the thought of dark magic in Hogwarts. “I think we should talk to the Headmistress about this.” Albus put an arm around his girlfriend to comfort her.

“I don’t think it would help, Vi. She knows everything we do.” Violet nodded, not completely convinced, but Albus whispered a few suggested distractions in her ear and she decided to drop it. She had better things to do right now anyway.

--

Scorpius was useless for the rest of the day. The anticipation of his nightly meeting with Rose was weighing too heavily on his mind to pay attention to his droning professors. History of Magic was the only class he could muster up any concentration for, and that was only in order to fulfill his promise to Rose. He patted his bag, reminding himself that he did in fact put his notes and her cookies in there. He had already checked twice before leaving his room, but once more couldn’t hurt.

Rose was sitting at their table in the library. Scorpius’ insides felt squiggly at the thought of them sharing a place. He frowned at himself and stepped behind a bookcase to calm his nerves before joining her.

How had he gotten to this point? It seemed like forever ago he was lambasting silly people who had silly little crushes. Here he is, practically giggling about sharing a table in the library with a girl. Whatever. It was Rose! Who cares if he acted like a first-year?

Scorpius pulled out the chair across from Rose, causing her to startle awake. “Tired?” He asked, worried. “We don’t have to do this tonight if you’d rather go to bed.”

“Hell no!” Rose cried, rubbing some dried drool off her chin. ‘Real attractive,’ she berated herself. “I think I slept through dinner anyway, is it already 8:00?”

“Yeah.” Scorpius pulled out her cookies and slid them across the table.

“Oh--thank Merlin!” Rose shoved half a cookie in her mouth, before chastising herself again for her lackluster manners. The rest of the cookie disappeared in more manageable bites. “You were right, this has to be something serious.”

“What’s serious?” Scorpius wasn’t really paying attention to her, but in his defense she had crumbs all over her lips. Super distracting.

“Everything that’s been happening--the books, the unicorn, and--” She paused and leaned forward for dramatic effect. “I found evidence of more thefts.”

“What! How?”

“I volunteered to do inventory of the potions ingredients for extra credit--”

Scorpius scoffed, “You don’t need extra credit.”

“Okay, but I want extra credit. This isn’t the point, Scorpius.”

Despite his best efforts, his stomach started getting squiggly again. He liked it when Rose called him by his first name.

“I was doing inventory and then--because I’ve been up to my ears in books on rituals--I realized the only discrepancies I was finding were common components of the darker rituals. Thrice-pickled crow’s spleen, rare toadstools, BUT--” Rose leaned even closer, “there wasn’t any missing unicorn components, which are integral in some way to all of the old rituals.”

“Shit.” Scorpius put his head in his hands. “So all of this is definitely related.”

“Yes!” Rose was practically bouncing in her seat. “And there’s more! I cross-checked all of the missing ingredients with Violet’s Potion Supply Compendium . The thrice-pickled crow’s spleen only has a few known uses. High-level divination potions that only the most advanced seventh years practice, and-- Necromancy.”

Scorpius sat back in his seat, dread completely squashing the squiggles in his stomach. “Shit.” He said, again.

“Shit.” Rose agreed. “I’m going to Professor McGonagalls tomorrow morning. Nothing about this is okay. The Ministry should be involved. I can’t believe they haven’t sent anyone already.”

“I mean, if they haven’t connected any of this yet, it’s just a few small crimes and a weird bit about a unicorn.” Scorpius shrugged. “Professor Longbottom seems to agree with us--that this isn’t a small thing--but I don’t think he gets to tell the Ministry what to--."

Rose interrupted him with a huge yawn. “Merlin, maybe I should go to bed. I still wanted to go over a few books with you though.” She blushed, but pulled out the list she had been working on. “The crow’s spleen is really the only part of this we haven’t looked over yet. We should probably start with A History of the Crow’s Contributions to Potions and Magics.”

Scorpius motioned for her to lead the way and followed her willingly. She walked through the stacks as if she knew them like the back of her hand--which, of course, she did.

Rose stopped in front of the aforementioned tome and glared at it, sitting on a shelf just out of her reach. She glanced around for one of the step-stools, but before she could make a move Scorpius was already reaching up and over her, plucking it off the shelf easily.

Her breath caught in her throat and her heart pounded in her ears.

She turned up to look at him and Scorpius met her heavily-lidded gaze with a combination of surprise and want . Rose moved closer to him and brought his face down to hers without even thinking. Scorpius’ free hand settled at her waist and it was a long moment before either of them pulled away.

“Oh.” She said, but he had already pulled her back to him.

A History of the Crow’s Contributions to Potions and Magics fell to the ground, forgotten.