Title: Calor Cupiditatis

Author: AristideCauquemaire

Pairing: Scorpius Malfoy/James Sirius Potter

Rating: M for grown-up language and sexual situations and themes.

Warnings: original characters; slash, het, non-consensual situations

The final chapter, y'all! Thank you for reading all my stuff this far!

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Chapter 20

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The summer holidays were long and busy. Shrew and Bagman came over and stayed at the Manor for two weeks while Shrew's, Constance's and Scorpius' parents went on what Astoria Malfoy excitedly called 'an expedition' to Edinburgh to map out some caves hidden under Edinburgh castle and have a look at old, precious manuscripts. Meanwhile, Scorpius and his two friends got to try out Shrew's new camping gear, first in the Malfoy's vast backyard, then in the Wiltshire countryside.

After that, Scorpius was invited to New York by Shrew's aunt who owned a penthouse on the topmost floor of the Waldorf Astoria building where they celebrated her own and Shrew's birthday.

After that, his clique gathered at the Lawless' house for a weekend to discuss and review timetables, study plans in light of their respective end-of-term consultations with the teachers – Scorpius had sat through ten minutes of McGonagall's advice and had meekly nodded along until she sent him away with a detailed evaluation parchment and a sigh –, have a look at the recently released old N.E.W.T. exams, agree on tutoring groups and put together detailed studying check lists for each of them so they'd all pass their N.E.W.T.s together next year. On the occasion, they celebrated Scorpius' seventeenth birthday – an unforgettable event none of them really remembered.

After that, Scorpius accompanied his father to Belgium for three days, for a Weasley's Wheezes shareholder meeting. Turned out that the other shareholders were either dead-eyed vultures wearing suits more expensive than some houses, or complete kooks with birds literally nesting in their beards. Bruges was really pretty, though, and the waffles were very, very good.

And after that, Mariella came over again to start with her much-needed revision of six years worth of Potions syllabus, followed closely by Bagman who went over the entirety of fifth and sixth year Herbology with him again until he was sorely tempted to find one of the six dozen poisonous plants he now knew everything about and kill himself with it.

It felt like everyone was trying to keep his mind busy and distracted on purpose, like it was all a big conspiracy. In Brussels he met a Beauxbatons girl called Justine who wrote him a letter that smelled of cherry blossom and closed with a lipstick kiss every week. In New York, Shrew had introduced him to his twice removed cousin Gwendoline who had firecalled him once and invited him to her spectacular twentieth birthday party which she had already started planning although it only was in July next year. During their Herbology review, Bagman had insisted on sitting annoyingly closely to him all the time, close enough for him to notice that she had shaved her legs to silky smoothness and that she was wearing mascara and a hint of sweet perfume.

Sitting in the window seat of the Hogwarts Express for the very last time on September 1st, looking out and seeing King's Cross Station vanish behind the bend, he marvelled at the fact that, although his holidays had been so crammed with activities and new acquaintances, and although the entire point of the alleged conspiracy had been to keep him preoccupied, there had never been a day when there hadn't been time for him to think about James Potter.

In the two months he hadn't heard a single word about him, which, he supposed, was a good thing.

Every evening before going to bed, he had started writing a long letter, acting like James was the intended addressee. In that letter, he sorted out his thoughts and feelings regarding everything that had transpired, and he apologised. Seeing the words on the parchment untangled some things although most of them stayed hidden and vague, and each apology was closer to the truth of the matter, and more and more sincere.

Every evening, he had burnt the letter feeling immensely stupid.

At night, he had sometimes dreamt of him.

He wondered whether this was what it was going to be like forever. Whether there was any way at all for him to have something bigger, more important, more everything that might replace Potter. Because it didn't look like he was going to fade away any time soon by himself.

Mariella gave him a sharp nudge with her elbow. "M'lord Malfoy. Snap out of it. We've got business."

For the rest of the train ride, they discussed studying issues, and detailed exam plans that Brice Parkinson had somehow got hold of, and the practicability of including Brice in their study group despite his being a gigantic twat.

Shortly after that, Tiffany Collins, her friend and Slytherin chaser Gemma Reedy, and beater Daniel Thomas found him and called for an impromptu Quidditch meeting to hash out Quidditch team issues. The trio was very persistent and even insisted on riding the carriage to the castle with him, ceaselessly talking about drafting options, pre-selections and closed-audition try-outs even though they had to yell to be heard over the rushing sound of the rain beating against the carriage top. It all gave Scorpius a raging headache and made him rue the day that he had taken up the team captain's spot from Lloyd Christopher.

And yet, he thought as he settled down in his old, familiar spot at the Slytherin table in the Great Hall, despite all the troubles, the bustling and the busy-ness that would demand 25 hours of unflinching concentration per day for the next ten months straight at least, there was still time to think about James Sirius Potter. There was still time to glance over at the Gryffindor table.

He spotted James' younger brother Albus, now also a seventh year student, who was sitting with his forever-girlfriend Lauren, as expected. Lily Luna was several seats down, animatedly talking to her friends. All the old places – specifically the one in which Scorpius had normally seen James – were now claimed by sixth and seventh year students who had budged up to make space for the fresh little Gryffindorks who would soon join their ranks.

"Kindly refrain from doing that," Mariella growled into his ear and he snapped back around.

"From doing what?" he asked, surreptitiously checking whether any of the others had caught her remark, or his glances. None of them had. Prince was obviously trying to fight Bagman off – Scorpius had already realised during the train ride, with some relief, how Bagman's attentions had redirected again – and Shrew was talking to Parkinson who was now an unofficial part of the group, at least until he outlived his usefulness. Mariella had codenamed him 'Appendixon'.

She tsk'ed at his question. "You know what."

He didn't get to come up with a repartee. The doors opened and Headmistress McGonagall entered, followed by a huddled double queue of pale-faced, wide-eyed, and also rather besotted-looking first years. Scorpius decided to let the previous exchange slide and made bets with Mariella for new Slytherins, Ravenclaws, Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors in the crowd of midgets. Several knuts changed hands in the following hour. McGonagall's second part of the welcome speech was a convenient opportunity to count the final tally – Mariella won, overall, by a margin of three knuts – and to discuss with Shrew the kinship relations of the new contracts. One always had to keep up with new bonds forming through sorting and loyalties shifting, after all. Interesting new patterns were in the making.

Scorpius was just about to complain about the wait getting long on his woefully empty stomach when McGonagall finally came to the last point on her checklist. Staff fluctuation always came last. Scorpius wondered whether that made it the most or the least important bit.

One new face was present on the panel. According to Brice Parkinson, Professor Grubbly-Plank was pregnant again. Her substitute looked like one of the kooks Scorpius had met in Belgium with his dad, beard and all. McGonagall furthermore informed them that an additional Transfiguration teacher by the name of Alverdine Sullivan had been hired to substitute for herself when she would temporarily assume political duties for a month or two come January, the month when Harry Potter was to be officially sworn in as Head Auror. "Ms Sullivan will be joining the staff in October and participate in Transfiguration classes," she said, sounding like she already dreaded leaving the authority over her precious Transfiguration lessons in someone else's less capable hands.

McGonagall was about to finally let her starving students have their well-deserved meal when Professor Smith cleared his throat from the far end of the teacher's table. Loudly.

"Oh, yes. Thank you, Shipley," McGonagall said, visibly not very grateful at all to be reminded that she, too, was getting ever older and forgetting things despite her latent perfectionism. The students gave a slightly annoyed huff at the renewed delay.

"Professor Smith, our teacher for Potions, in his capacity as a decorated Bronze Star Member of the Society of International Magical Manufacturers of Elixirs Respectables, S.I.M.M.E.R, and as a Ministry-recognised Merlin of the Cauldron, Potion Master Second-and-a-half'th Class," she recited in a slightly bored tone and without once drawing breath in between, "has decided to take on an apprentice this year as is custom for every Potions Master of his rank. Said apprentice will be present in the castle to be under the tutelage of Professor Smith, and he might, depending on timetables and syllabus, assist or betimes assume the teaching role in the Potions classroom. Potter, if you would rise for a moment..."

Scorpius felt his heart sink down into his stomach and settle, quivering, between his guts.

Sitting next to and also slightly behind Professor Smith on the faraway end of the teacher's table, he'd been hidden, unseeable to all but the smallest bit of the Slytherin table all the way in the back, nearest to the doors. But when James Sirius Potter rose from his chair, greeted with warm applause especially from the Gryffindors, Scorpius felt that every other person in this hall had vanished and he could see nobody but him.

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~~FIN/TBC

Thank you for reading! Comments, reviews, any sort of response would be very, very much appreciated!

oh, by the way, there's a sequel. It's called 'Ardor Animorum'. I've already uploaded the first chapter today.