Somewhere far away in the chilly and misty morning, a train whistle was blowing.
Glancing lazily at a very outdated calendar as he passed by it, and knowing all too well the reason why he had looked at it, the gaunt man moved on through the rambling old house with no real destination in mind.
At least, with no conscious destination in mind.
He didn't linger in the parlor, where once there had been singing and life. Dust covered the grand piano, and the dancers had all long since gone away.
Passing through the darkened dining room, where all the tattered curtains were drawn, he dragged his pale and cool fingers across the surface of the ornately carved table that could serve a feast for forty or fifty. Something rustled in the curtains, but he paid no mind to the slight sound. Years ago, perhaps, he might have thought it was an intruder and taken action.
But not today.
Not on this day.
Just enough gray, morning light leaked through the remnants of the curtains to give the room an almost ethereal glow. Not that he would have lit a candle anyway; he knew the room, as he knew the rest of the house, so very well that he could travel it in the dark without any light.
Indeed, in years past, that dusty table had served many a feast when it had shone with all the radiance of new and polished, fine and expensive, wood. Absently knocking a tarnished silver fork off onto the floor, the man sighed and continued on without stopping to pick it up. There was no reason. The last meal served on the table had long ago turned to something resembling stone, forgotten, with not even a mouse to come and carry it off.
"The table is set, but the glasses all dry," he mumbled, suddenly recalling all of the happy times, perhaps from another lifetime – or so he felt – when he'd sat there himself, straining to see up over the edge. He'd even tried sitting on a stack of books to be able to reach the wonderful smelling foods and treats that he knew he would find there, and laughter had filled the room at the sight of whipped cream smeared all over his nose that he hadn't known was there. He'd just sat there, perplexed to be the subject of such looks, a spoon in each hand, and had later burned in embarrassment when he'd had his little, pointed face wiped with a fine, cloth napkin.
But that table had also seen other, darker, things.
Only a few years past ("How long ago was it?" He wondered), a woman had been murdered on that very table.
Pausing to look back, and surprising himself in doing so, he thought that the dark stain near the large (but dry and dead) centerpiece of cut flowers might be from her blood, and not from the cherry syrup that he'd dumped so very long ago.
It had ruined his best white, ruffled, silk shirt.
But his mother had only laughed.
And his father, laughing through tears of pride and amusement, had only managed to gasp that it was only a shirt and could be easily cleaned.
And it had been.
Then there had been cherries, hot fudge, and moist chocolate cake on a small china plate that now only held dust.
Lingering, the man paused to place his hands on the back of the leather chair at the head of the table. Like all the rest, it was pushed in. His fingers left elongated handprints in the dust, as if someone had reached out and found the chair, clinging to it for dear life before losing his grip and falling away into some dark and unknowable abyss.
No guest was coming to the feast of dust that was being served cold today.
"But…?" He whispered, looking down the length of the table to see one place set that was hosting clean serving ware, a clean crystal goblet, and the smaller chair pulled out to reveal a very thick book that was also free of dust.
He inhaled sharply, once, through his nose. A gasp, really – as if he'd been holding his breath without knowing it.
He turned away once more, leaving behind the cracked plate, moldering napkin, and empty goblet that held nothing but dust.
Moving past the fireplace, where upon the mantle sat assorted dusty old odds and ends – relics of a bygone time – he kicked a stray piece of firewood aside with another sigh.
There had been no fire lit in that fireplace for a long time, and the ashes of the last one to burn there still lay in the grate, as if waiting for someone to come and sweep them up. Perhaps they waited, to be given purpose in fertilizing a flower garden where now only weeds grew; weeds that sprang up and died quickly in the dry, unforgiving earth.
But the fireplace remained cold.
The man passed by it with only a quick glance at his watch.
As he moved up the long marble staircase, his hand wiping a clean trail in the dust that lingered on the banister, each step bringing him closer and closer to his unrealized destination, his feet began to grow heavy.
Once athletic and trained, a terror on the field of sport, the last year had worn away that health and vitality at an astonishing rate. Yet still he climbed, his legs protesting. With a wry and faint grin, he wondered if he himself might not already be covered in dust, as was the rest of the silent, crumbling old mansion that only he now haunted.
Looking back down when he'd reached the top, he saw only one set of footprints in a size that seemed far too large. He listened to the dusty silence.
All along the hallway, down which he now shuffled with no spring to his weary step, only empty picture frames and blank canvases greeted him. Small puffs of dust sprang up in tiny clouds from the fraying carpet, only to settle back, unnoticed.
He glanced once more at his watch, then realized that it wasn't running.
"When did it stop?" He thought, realizing that not only did he not know, he did not care.
He had no need of a timepiece.
Just as he had no need of a calendar.
He knew what day and time it was.
He always did.
It was that day.
And it was time to go.
Before him stood a door.
A closed door.
Without looking, as his hand knew the way so very well, he reached down to grasp the polished and shining silver handle in the shape of a serpent about to strike. He wondered how long the serpent had held that pose, waiting, so patiently as serpents can, to strike at something that would never come?
The door squealed in protest as he gently eased it open, yet no dust fell from its casing.
Not this door.
The only door in the whole house that he even opened these days.
He squinted in the sudden light, dull as it was that misty morning, and more heard than saw that it had begun to rain. Large drops hit against the dingy glass panes with a "PICK, PECK, SMACK!" sound that he promptly tuned out.
It was always raining, or so he thought.
He shivered as he came on into the room proper, but saw that the window was closed. Yet the curtains were open in this, the only room in the empty house, where light was allowed to come.
Outside the window, the upper branches of a naked tree (he forgot the species) waved in the gray morning light and rain, reaching up, he thought, like hands raised in supplication to some unknown and uncaring god that would never so much as give them a first glance. Indeed, they had been reaching up for so long, ever reaching further and further, that he recalled a time when they hadn't been there.
He recalled a time when they had been green.
When other things had been green – and growing.
"It feels like winter," he whispered, as he promptly stumbled over a dusty broomstick, just as he did each time he came in.
With trembling hands, whether from the cold or something else that he didn't feel, he gently and lovingly returned it to its place near the door where it always waited.
And waited some more.
But that was all it did.
It never swept the dust.
After all, the dust was constant.
The dust remained.
Just as the room remained.
Alone in a home that now seemed more like a mausoleum.
Lying on the unmade bed were a few forgotten sports jerseys in all colors, the only bright spot in the lonely room. A few toys, models, things that could only be long-forgotten treasures to some other mind, lay scattered about the floor. Odds and ends lined the shelves, along with various awards that now – although covered in dust – had once been displayed with pride and glowing words of praise to anyone who would listen.
Before the dancers had all gone away, they had listened.
PICK – PECK – SMACK – TAP – TAP – SMACK!
Somewhere, a whistle blew.
The man jerked his pale, pointed face towards the window, still absently fondling a dull orange jersey in his trembling hands. "What an awful, clashing color," he muttered, neatly folding it and placing it back on the bed. He wondered if he'd only imagined the whistle, as he made to yank on the green comforter and make the bed. He found another jersey, this one green. On the back was the name "Troy" and a number on the front, emblazoned with a shamrock.
But instead, he simply sat down and picked up a lonely and tattered, dirty old stuffed animal with an eagle's face and wings, and the hindquarters of a stallion.
"Quiet, Thunderhead," he shushed the toy, placing it back on the silver silk pillowcase where he'd found it. "Not today. Perhaps tomorrow?"
Thunderhead stared at him with dusty, uncaring crystal eyes.
Once upon a time, Thunderhead had been loved. The bald spots of his dusty plush coat and genuine feathers bore silent testimony, but the man did not listen. One of the toy's loose wings needed sewing back on.
The man's colorless eyes were roaming over the dusty old dresser, its drawers all pulled halfway out with socks, pants, shirts, shorts and trousers hanging from their edges like executed criminals.
A little pair of dusty size five* black leather shoes sat off to one side of the dresser, but the trainers were missing, as were the other expensive dress shoes.
"I think they were too small," the man sighed again, picking up one of the little shoes and cradling it to his chest, stroking away the dust. "Should donate them, yes, some poor child could use you, no?" He asked the shoe.
But the shoe only said as much as Thunderhead had.
"Perhaps," he started to say, but stopped as his eyes fell on the open steamer trunk near the foot of the bed. Made from the finest evergreen softwood (white cedar, or Lebanese? He couldn't recall…), and inlaid with tarnished silver trim and a heavy lock, the trunk sat – open – a hodgepodge of miscellaneous items stuffed in it as if someone had hastily packed it to leave in a great rush.
Or packed it back up, without caring, to send it home…
He glanced from the trunk to the dresser and back to the trunk.
He stood up, thinking to put away the clothes in the closet, the shoes with their others, to hang up the wrinkled and mildewed robes before they could wrinkle even worse. Such fine fabric, such custom tailoring, should not be left wadded up in a trunk that smelled of smoke and cinders and…
"S – I – M," the silver letters on the lid spelled out, as he suddenly slammed it shut. A cloud of black, sooty dust flew from the trunk, and he recalled again how the middle letter was not an "I", but an "H" that was half melted away from the blackened wood where a hole the size of his fist revealed the precious contents within.
Mouth agape, he stared as a small rivet finally gave way and the scorched, silver serpent fell off the clasp.
Malfoy then whimpered, clutching the mildewing and burnt robe to his
chest, as a great dry sob escaped him and echoed throughout the
deserted corridors of Malfoy Manor.
"SCORPIUS!" The agonized scream then followed it.
It echoed through the hall and down the stairs, through the deserted dining room and out into the empty parlor where it crossed the spacious sitting room. It echoed all around the receiving room and out through the library, and then finally, into the foyer and out the unlocked front door, which banged pointlessly on its squeaking hinges, then out into the rainy morning of September the First.
Somewhere in the distance, a train whistle sounded again.
But there were no birds in the naked trees to take flight in startled panic at the sudden, awful sound.
And if there was anyone at all to hear it, anyone to care, they made no sign of that.
The dust did not move.
"Must get packed," Draco coughed, as he emptied and repacked the trunk. He stopped only to hack violently as he choked on the dust, rummaging about in the dresser for socks, pants, shirts, anything that he remembered might be needed for the train ride. "Money," he mumbled, dropping a heavy bag of coins into the trunk after he'd neatly folded the ruined robes and arranged the socks. "Have to buy treats from the trolley. And can't take his broomstick, no, stupid rule," he complained, as he grabbed up a stack of letters from the nightstand beside the bed and carefully laid them on top of the last robe. "Traveling cloak, must have that, it's cold out," he added, moving the letters and then putting them back so that he could gently close the lid. "It's always cold out."
The parchment showed through the hole.
"Silly boy, always running late…where does his head wander off to all the time?" Draco shook his own head, as he hefted the trunk to go.
It was September the First, after all, and Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy must NOT be late to catch the Hogwarts Express.
Only Weasleys and Potters were late, yes! Never a Malfoy.
Not ANY Malfoy.
And especially not THIS Malfoy – not Scorpius.
Scorpius was going to Hogwarts.
"Going away…" Draco wondered.
"Sir?" A shy, timid voice then called from the doorway.
"How many times, Scorpy?" Draco shook his head, a smile finally crossing his pale, sunken face, "How many times must Daddy tell you that we finish packing the night BEFORE, so that we can make our appearance on the Platform, and that you get the best seats for you and your …your… friends?" He then asked, stiffening, putting the trunk back down where he'd found it.
"Sir?" That voice asked again, and Draco turned towards the doorway in delighted surprise.
There was a young boy standing in the doorway!
Draco blinked, his shoulders slumping in relief, as if some great weight had just fallen from them.
Before him stood a small boy, short and skinny, and dressed in a new robe trimmed all in green and silver with the Slytherin Crest shining proudly on the left breast. His polished black leather shoes shone, even in the dull light, and Draco saw the he must have gone outside for some foolish reason that only a young boy could come up with. His traveling cloak, pushed back as he was just taking it off, was wet; his shoes were also spotted with raindrops, even a bit of mud on the soles!
"Mud? Oh tell me you didn't track up the floors AGAIN?" Draco asked, a sudden warmth filling him as he began rifling through the dusty clutter on top of the cedar wood dresser.
"Sir," the boy tried to interrupt again, but this time with a hitch in his voice as he sniffled once. Draco absently tossed him an embroidered silk handkerchief with a green "S-H-M" shining through the dust that flew from it.
The boy caught it.
And used it.
"Sir, you mustn't…" the boy began, but was interrupted as Draco turned, a triumphant smile on his face.
"Mustn't forget your WAND!" Draco declared proudly, beaming in pride as he held it up.
A bit of dust fell from the wand's cracked tip.
"One of Ollivander's finest imports from Gregorovitch, you know, well…of course you know! It chose YOU! You have been practicing, haven't you? Just like Daddy taught you? After all, no one ELSE is going to have a hybrid wand like this one, dual cores, and a fine, light ironwood! Such workman- ship! He said it was a rare and powerful…"
"SIR?" The boy spoke up louder, the silk handkerchief covering most of his face as he wiped at it. "PLEASE! You mustn't do this!"
The unexpected smile faded from Draco's face just as quickly as it had come, as the boy pushed back his hood and finally let his wet cloak fall to the floor.
Draco looked from the boy's equally pained face to the wand, back to the silently crying boy, and then back at the dusty, cracked wand – ruined – in his trembling hand.
The handle was burnt black.
The wand was dead.
Once again, he looked at the boy.
"Scorpius," he breathed, shaking his head as he sat down hard on the bed.
The wand fell to the floor, a puff of dust a mute testimony to its lost potential.
The boy took a step forward, into the bedroom proper.
After all, he knew the room. He'd known the way to the room through the mazelike, empty corridors of Malfoy Manor. He needed no guide. Somehow, he never had.
"Son?" Draco implored, holding out his arms in desperation.
"No, sir," the boy whispered softly, and Draco looked closer at his sincere face.
This boy did not have white-blond hair and an angular, well-defined face; one couldn't even see his cheekbones. This boy's face was fuller, rounder, more colored than he recalled. His messy, damp hair was also a deep, dark brown that was almost black and tinged ever so faintly with auburn highlights if the light hit it just so. His green-silver-black-striped necktie was also loose and facing down a slightly rumpled white shirt that was clearly not made of fine material. And across the bridge of his nose, and just a very slight scattering of them that made him so adorable, were…were…
"Freckles?" Draco wondered.
But it was not the freckles that broke Draco Malfoy out of his reverie.
It was the glasses.
Fashionable, small rectangular frames that rode the middle of the bridge of the boy's lightly freckled nose, but just high enough so that his messy dark hair just brushed the glasses if he didn't keep it pushed away.
The glasses brought it all crashing down around Draco again as he stared into those teary eyes that should have been so beautifully crystal blue – like his mother's – but instead were a glittering and mischievous shade of emerald green.
Draco broke eye contact with the boy and instead stared down at the intruder's shoes.
Any other time, so long ago (he thought) Wards and Enchantments that shielded the Manor would have gone off, if even a child had dared intrude into the Malfoy Grounds. They might have even killed a man, but not a child.
Never a child.
But then Draco remembered.
No, no Wards and defenses. Not for this boy.
Not for Scorpius' friend.
Not for Scorpius' dearest, most irrational, most impossible friend.
"Albus," Draco whimpered, turning his head to stare at the ruined steamer trunk once again as it all came back to him then.
Thirteen-year-old Albus Severus Potter said nothing at all.
But he did take another unsteady step forward.
"Shouldn't you be on the train?" Draco managed, wrapping himself in a veneer of cold aloofness and rigid uncaring that was intended to tell the boy that he was neither welcome nor appreciated there.
The only problem was, was that it didn't work.
It never had.
They confronted one another, young Albus Potter and Draco Malfoy, across the empty bedroom with only the dust between them.
It had been the glasses that had brought something (something precious) back to Draco Malfoy - That one fateful day in Diagon Alley, about thirteen years after the Battle of Hogwarts, was when Albus had met Scorpius…
*** *** *** *** *** ***
The Beginning of The End
Draco and Astoria Malfoy were taking little Scorpius shopping for supplies for his first day of Private School. Draco had initially insisted upon home-schooling their son, of course, not trusting anyone else to educate HIS son in a proper fashion. But of course, Astoria had talked him into having Scorpius attend school with the other Wizarding children, saying that it would be good for the boy and that he could make friends, learn to be more open-minded and tolerant, rebuild a family reputation, etc., etc., and la la la… and Draco had given in.
He always did.
"You just can't stand the thought of sharing the spoiled little monster with ANYONE else, can you, Darling?" She'd always say to him with a loving smile and peck on the cheek.
It always worked...
"No," Draco mumbled, his eyes half closed, as he once again heard the deserted Manor filled with the sounds of running, trampling, noisy, screaming, and laughing children. Somewhere, the sound of an antique vase shattering…
And if the truth were to be known (which is wasn't, or rather – hadn't been so painfully realized until of late), it was the fact that little Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy was the absolute epicenter of every movement of his father's life. In fact, had it not been for Scorpius' timely arrival, Draco might have totally succumbed to the breakdown that had followed the Final Battle and overthrow of the Dark Lord, and gone completely over the edge and into madness.
But wasn't he doing that, just now?
Draco had to wonder, as the empty shell of the changed man who had once been so happy, who had spent his every waking moment with his beloved and only son, now spent his days haunting an equally empty manor where once there had been …children…
Draco stared up into the two tiny Dracos reflected in the green of those damnable rain-spotted glasses… square frames …that he'd picked out for the boy himself…
And it all came back to him then…
"ICE CREAM!" Scorpius exclaimed, during the unusually hot day they had chosen to make a last-minute run to Diagon Alley for school things.
"Malfoy, a word?" Blaise Zabini interrupted, just as Draco was getting ready to order something entirely too expensive AND fattening for the both of them. (After all, if HIS son wanted extra hot fudge, his son GOT extra hot fudge!) He turned and nodded to his old classmate, and saw Gregory Goyle standing next to him.
"Daddy, I can order it myself," Scorpius said proudly, counting out just the right amount of Sickles and Knuts. And all pride and cockiness in front of his old friends, Draco had let him do just that, paying no mind to the boy in line just beside of his son.
The next thing that Draco knew, as he looked up from his chat with Blaise and Gregory, was that his son – HIS son – was sitting at a table at Fortescue's II with some unruly urchin who was dressed in a God-awful orange Quidditch jersey (that was also a size or two too big), short pants that clashed with the jersey, and Muggle-style trainers! He didn't even seem to be wearing socks, and he was – dirty!
And not just that – the boy's reddish-black hair was a mess, falling down in his face and sticking up in the back, and hanging down over a pair of Muggle-NHS style round glasses that looked as thick as potions beakers! There was white SpelloTape on the bridge, even!
Amazingly, Draco's first thought was, "Great Merlin, someone's let a Muggle into the Alley, or his parents are dirt poor, or he's…"
About then, as the urchin looked up at him, Draco saw the face that had tormented him all throughout his school days, his breakdown, and his long recovery. Both Zabini and Goyle stared as well.
Draco was staring right into the face of a little Harry Potter, and he was having ice cream with his son – "WITH MY SON!" Draco announced loudly to everyone passing by.
And the most horrible part of it was that Scorpius was having a good time, laughing and joking and getting most of his sundae all OVER one of his good dress shirts!
"At least it's a black tie, Draco," Zabini laughed, "But I can't see you allowing Scorpius to hang out with a Potter?"
"And we'd just begun to think better of you, Malfoy," Goyle nodded.
"P-POTTER!" Draco spluttered in shock, pointing rudely, "It's Potter-Reborn!"
"Is that your name?" Scorpius then asked the urchin in delight, holding out a sticky hand to shake an equally sticky one in return. "Albus Potter? I'm Scorpius! Scorpius Malfoy!" He introduced himself. "Pleased to make your acquaintance!"
"You too!" This Albus-person smiled back. After all, things like 'what's your name?' weren't all that important to little boys where ice cream was concerned.
"I'd Scourgify that hand, if it were me," Zabini shook his head.
Much to Draco's chagrin, the mention of his surname got no reaction from this "Albus Potter" person at all – other than more maniacal laughter at some whispered-little-boy joke that he didn't catch.
"You want another one?" Albus then asked, dropping his spoon into the empty glass.
"He most certainly does not!" Draco interrupted the boys, meaning to grab up his now-rather-sticky son and make off with him before the rest of the Potter-Weasley-Granger-who-knows-who-Gang showed up.
"Awwwww, Daddy?" Scorpius then whined, and Draco remembered his own father once saying something like, 'Malfoys do not whine!' when Draco had been that age.
But Draco had still gotten more ice cream back then – and so did Scorpius.
And so did Albus.
Zabini and Goyle politely declined, looking astonished, citing such strange behavior from their old classmate and an appointment with another old friend. "Surely you're raising him better than that?" Was all Zabini said in parting.
"The shame of Slytherin House," Goyle muttered, but Draco let it slide, "And here I thought he'd just…" Goyle's voice trailed off.
Draco watched them go, but found himself somehow nonplussed about the whole thing. He was busy having ice cream with his son, and there was the potential for a lesson in socialization to be learned. He certainly couldn't bother with Zabini's and Goyle's opinions right then.
Albus Potter then filled them in on his own family, much to Draco's astonishment and somewhat bit of horror. Of course he'd known that the Potters and Weasleys were breeding, and probably like rabid rabbits at that, but the mention of Hermione Granger (now Mrs. Ronald Weasley) just sent chills down Draco's spine.
"We're all starting school over at…," Albus mentioned some Muggle Elementary School near Grimmauld Place in London, and Draco breathed a sigh of relief at that. At least this little urchin wouldn't be hanging around with Scorpius at school! That in itself was enough to make Draco happily buy the boys another round, in hopes of sending one Albus Potter on his merry way to a fine Muggle education.
"Hopefully with a stomachache," Draco thought to himself.
They had just begun making good on their farewells when Albus mentioned that "Grandma Andromeda" was doing Hogwarts shopping with "Cousin Teddy" and "Dad," which told Draco that Andromeda Tonks and Harry Potter were surely somewhere nearby with the spawn of that Werewolf and Metamorphmagus. Draco could only imagine what kind of hybrid – thing – that that relationship had produced. Draco then begged off with an urgent appointment, leaving a confused but contented Albus there at the table, happily waving goodbye with a great smile on his messy face.
"I liked him, Daddy!" Scorpius said, repeating it all the way home, over and over, until Draco had thought he was going mad.
And so it had begun: letters written with help from Mom and Dad, owls traveling in both directions. Floos lit at all hours of the day and night, despite strict prohibition from both sets of parents saying, "That boy isn't the type we want to associate with!"
But the boys, knowing nothing of the reckless hate that their fathers had once shared for one another, and the uneasy dislike that they now shared, were blissfully confused as to why their parents were so upset with them.
"I'm fine with Floo calls or letters, Potter," Draco informed Harry via Floo one day while the boys were off at school.
"So am I, Malfoy, so long as Quill-pals is all they want to be," Harry replied.
A week later had come the fateful question:
"Can Albus come over and play, Daddy?" Scorpius asked at the dinner table, sitting up on his double bound, leather-wrapped, limited edition, 337th printing copy of "Hogwarts: An Updated History – With Annotations by Hermione Granger-Weasley."
Draco literally fell off his chair.
"NO!" Draco had told his son, peering slowly back up over the table and then drawing back his hand in sudden heat, very nearly striking the child for the first time in his life.
one thing stayed his hand:
The crushed look on Scorpius' face had just instantly shattered his resolve.
"Wh-what d-did I do wrong, D-Daddy?" The boy cried, and for the first time in his life, Draco Malfoy had seen fear on his son's perfect face as Scorpius ran to the safety of his mother's arms.
Draco saw fear.
Fear of him.
Fear of his Daddy.
"Lucius got like this when the Dark Lord moved in here," Draco recalled, remembering the fear, remembering Fenrir Greyback, remembering the awful sense of disaster when his parents had changed so dramatically - When they'd changed into something that he'd vowed never to become.
And then Draco took the reluctant boy into his arms, the boy that meant the whole world to him, and broke down like he never had before. He was ashamed of himself, but for more than one reason.
After all, Malfoys did not cry.
But that evening, Draco Malfoy cried as he held his confused son and sobbed his apologies.
He'd almost struck his son in anger.
He had, from that day forward, blamed the emotional out-burst entirely upon one Albus Severus Potter, of course, thank you very much. It was all Potters' fault.
"My Godfather would turn over in his grave," Draco sighed later that night, shaking his head as he sat in the Study, carefully penning a letter to his old archenemy:
"Mr. Potter," he'd begun, not with, "Dear Harry." How awful would that have sounded?!
was only by some freakish mishap in the Cosmos, I am sure, that my
son, Scorpius, chanced to meet up with your garishly dressed son,
Albus, in Diagon Alley. I bought them ice cream, if you'll recall.
I'm sure Albus chattered about it for just as long as Scorpy did.
You owe me fifteen Sickles, three Knuts, Scarhead!" (Draco
had been rather pleased with that line…) "I
would, of course, greatly appreciate it if you would keep your wild,
ungroomed urchin away from my son. However, I have been more than
lenient and tolerant, and given Scorpius permission to write letters
and Floo-chat whenever he wishes. I am enclosing a picture of
Scorpius' new owl, so that you don't mistake him for a chicken
and shoot him down and roast him for dinner. I believe I can tolerate
this long-distance friendship, even if I cannot comprehend it. MY son
gets what he wants, and if he wants to be pen pals with your wicked
spawn of Gryffindor, then so be it.
"Another problem has arisen, however, and it is one that I fear may be insoluble. Scorpius has requested that your Albus come over to play, which not only fills me with indescribable dread about being responsible for your son, but also aggravates me to no end in the fact that MY son wishes to be in physical proximity to yours.
Please advise ASAP.
Signed – D.L. Malfoy."
PS – the Spell Albus needs for his glasses is 'Reparo', or did you forget that one?"
The solution had come in the form of Mrs. Andromeda Tonks, also known as "Grandma Andromeda", arranging a meeting in Diagon Alley with Astoria. Draco didn't take it well it all, nor did Harry. Andromeda simply settled the matter, however, by informing them both: "If you thought that my sister, Bel-latrix was a b*tch, just wait until you make ME irritable, children! Your sons are NOT the both of YOU reborn. Don't make them suffer for YOUR own shortcomings. Deal with it!"
Both Draco and Harry required a liberally brewed cauldron full of Calming Solution to get over that meeting, and it's outcome.
"I see no problem with Astoria and Draco having Albus over for a bit," Andromeda informed Harry and Draco via owl.
Another cauldron later, and both men were dispatching owls of their own. In fact, the owls had probably crossed in mid-flight and shared a mouse together.
"Floo me!" – they both wrote.
The Floo-call that followed in the study of Malfoy Manor was anything but pleasant, and unfortunately, a pair of innocent little ears overheard the whole thing. The next thing that Draco knew, a furious Astoria came storming into the room with a sobbing Scorpius in her arms, beating her husband about the head and shoulders with a rolled up Daily Prophet!
Harry Potter, peering from the fireplace, had just watched.
"And you honestly expect me to allow Albus to set foot in your house?" Harry demanded.
"Andromeda said it was fine, and I promise, I'm not going to turn your son into anything unnatural, Potter," Draco assured him, nervously watching Astoria.
"I think it's a lovely idea, Mr. Potter," she added.
"Is that Albus' daddy?" Scorpius asked.
"Is that Scorpius I hear?" Albus' voice asked in the background, as both fathers simply sighed in resignation.
Scorpius hadn't been the only eavesdropper that evening.
"I think we're beaten, Malfoy," Harry conceded, managing to get the words in edgewise between the chattering demands of both little boys.
"All of this over a bloody ice cream," Draco sighed.
"Boys," Harry tried to mediate, "Mr. Malfoy and I don't get along, so we don't think it's a good idea for you to hang around together, no matter what Andromeda says."
At Grimmauld Place, Albus threw a
At Malfoy Manor, Scorpius gave his father 'the look' and pouted.
After all, Malfoys were allowed to pout.
Draco had, of course, tried to continue to dodge the issue, but it seemed that there was only one way out of this mess for him. His son was devastated and confused, and once he'd thought about it, he'd realized that he didn't really want to expose the boy to the hatred that he and Harry Potter had shared for so long. Astoria was quite pleased with his epiphany, and while she harbored no malice towards the Potters or Weasleys, she could relate to her husband's feelings.
She just couldn't understand why neither man would let go of them.
Albus and Scorpius were both left even more confused, which only made them want to get together even worse.
"Albus isn't coming over," Draco delivered the ultimatum that night, "So you'll just have to deal with it. It's far too complicated for you to understand, son."
Scorpius cried all the way up to his room.
Draco watched him go, fighting down the urge to run to him. Seeing his son sobbing like that was breaking his heart, and he just had to do something.
Scorpius didn't have any friends; actually, Draco knew, the boy was merely tolerated at school. The subject of Albus always came up when Scorpius would talk about the other kids at school, and Scorpius' tone suggested to this father that he was often the one left out.
And he knew that it was all his fault, due to his past actions.
"What does he need with friends, anyway?" Draco wondered, as he lay awake in bed that night. "He's got us?"
But Scorpius also had that Malfoy attitude, when provoked.
For the next two weeks, Scorpius hardly ate. He didn't sleep well, and had bad dreams. Almost every night, he wound up in bed with his parents. School was going badly, and it seemed like the Malfoy reputation wasn't helping Scorpius a bit; in fact, it seemed to be hurting him. By the end of the first week, Scorpius had been suspended for picking on Tommy Nott, a Pureblood, but not from a well-off family. The final straw had been when Scorpius had jammed his practice wand up Tommy's nose and fired off a Lumos Charm that had made the boy's whole head glow orange!
"What's got into him?!" Draco demanded at breakfast that Friday morning of the school break, as he studied a story in the Daily Prophet about the upcoming (and quite bizarre) Muggle celebration of Halloween. "We haven't raised him like that?"
"I wonder," Astoria replied coolly. "Could be he learned what he saw? Maybe all he wants is a friend to play with?"
"Tommy's a Muggle-looking-Dragon-dung-licker," Scorpius had put in, "I don't think they should let kids who look like THAT into school, Daddy."
Draco dropped his fork in shock.
"And I'm NOT going to Balthazar's birthday party, either!" Scorpius added. "Not that he invited ME, stupid git, so you can take the present back! Why can't Albus go?" Scorpius thought about that for a moment. "Better yet, I'll just keep it? OK? Say, can I go to that Muggle elementary school with Albus and Rose, if I get kicked out? Muggles are strange, aren't they, Mommy?" He added.
Draco looked sharply over the paper.
He'd just seen a possible solution.
"Strange Muggle customs," he wondered aloud, pointing out the story, "Did you know that Muggles dress up as all sorts of 'things', and send their children out door-to-door to beg for candy? And adults GIVE it to them, for free?"
"I think it's a wonderful idea, Darling," Astoria replied. "Give the boy a jump on his studies, don't you think?"
"Can Albus come?" Scorpius asked.
"Can't you go to the school Halloween party with your other friends?" Draco sighed in irritation. Once again, all conversations seemed to lead back to Albus Potter.
"What other friends?" Scorpius replied sadly. "Nobody even talks to me like Albus does. Can I be excused now?"
"Call Potter, love," Astoria suggested. "It's only for a few hours, one night, if I read the story correctly."
Draco shook his head as he watched his son trudging up the long staircase to his room. He spent a lot of time in his room lately, sulking. Draco saw that the boy had hardly touched his food.
"All he wants is a friend to play with," Astoria repeated, "We can't protect him from the world out there, Muggle or Wizarding, forever you know?"
And so Draco went immediately to the Floo and called the Ministry, where Harry worked. He presented his idea to Harry, who surprisingly agreed.
"They'll be in costume, and so will we, so no one will know us. If Scorpius' identity is bothering you as well, Malfoy, keep in mind that I'll never actually see his face under the costume?"
"Potter, you may have just made my life ever so much easier," Draco confessed.
"Please don't tell anyone that," Harry snorted. "Meet us at the place mentioned in the paper. Look for a werewolf, I mean, a creature called a 'Wookie', a Vampire, and a miniature Dumbledore."
"Muggles are so odd," Draco shook his head. "Dressing up?"
"Blame the Americans, it's catching on here," Harry said, as he closed the connection.
"Is Albus coming treat-or-tricking?" Scorpius yelled, tackling his father in joy. He'd been sneaking again, but Draco couldn't help but be proud of that.
"Actually, I was thinking we'd take him to your barber and then to the optometrist first," Draco replied, feeling happy and relieved at the smile he hadn't seen on his son's face since school had started.
To make a very long story short, the Potters and Malfoys, all in appropriate costumes, met up and took the boys out for the night. Harry and Draco didn't even try to curse one another, and Scorpius' costume of a Zombie (actually an Inferi) even won a prize in the "Halloween Parade." The problems didn't start until later, when both Harry and Draco realized that the two boys following them were NOT their sons.
"But the costumes?" Draco spluttered, as he pulled off some Muggle boy's mask.
"We've been tricked!" Harry exclaimed.
"They'll go home when they get tired," Andromeda offered, holding tightly to Teddy's hand and using a Vanishing Charm on all the chocolate in his treat bag. Teddy was dressed up as a great wolf.
"Oh, bother," Ginny rolled her eyes. "The Trace will give them away as soon as they touch their practice wands or let off a burst of spontaneous Magic," she reminded them.
"Albus is in for it now!" James-the-Vampire crowed in delight.
Draco rubbed his temples and sighed. "I suppose he knows his way home, and he's Magically protected," he admitted.
And sure enough, early that next morning, Draco and Astoria arrived home (after notifying the Auror department of two missing underage Wizards) to find what seemed to be a deactivated Inferi and a mangy Wookie-werewolf-thing passed out on the divan in the parlor. Empty Butterbeer bottles and candy wrappers surrounded them, and the Manor was a wreck. Two banged-up broomsticks lay on the floor next to them, and a chandelier had fallen.
Draco Malfoy smiled at that.
And so was the beginning of a beautiful childhood friend-ship between the sons of two former Hogwarts students whose rivalry was the stuff of legend.
It was also the end of any peace and quiet in Malfoy Manor, but much to Draco's surprise, he found that he didn't mind at all. He still wouldn't allow Scorpius to go to Albus' house, though, but when he saw how happy his son was in the company of the son of his worst enemy, Draco found that he couldn't deny the joy of his life that one little thing.
Not that he ever denied him anything anyway…
Besides, Scorpius was perfectly content to have it that way, and the boys seemed to understand the unspoken truce between their fathers.
And their fathers seemed to understand the unspoken, if not mystical, connection between their sons.
But the boys were happy again, and to Harry and Draco, that was all that mattered.
Over time, the visits grew fewer and further between, however. Draco began traveling, and Albus received post-cards from his best friend from various places around the world. Some of them even came by Muggle post. Albus visited when he could, but eventually, Scorpius was never home and the Malfoys just seemed to vanish.
In time, Albus got over it as his life began to revolve around school, his many cousins, and the countdown to at-tending Hogwarts.
But through it all, he never forgot about his friend, Scorpius, and continued to write. Albus kept a small photo of him in a silver frame on his dresser.
None of the letters ever came back marked 'return to sender', either, and there was even the occasional answer or gift in the mail at Christmastime…
"But I'll see him again at Kings Cross!" Albus reminded them happily, and Harry couldn't bring himself to tell his son that the Sorting would likely tear them apart between Gryffindor and Slytherin Houses.
*** *** *** *** ***
"Albus?" Draco whispered again, watching the puffs of dust rising from the musty carpet as Albus limped into the room.
Draco finally looked up at him, trembling, unshed tears standing in his eyes and refusing to fall. He then looked back at the trunk. "Shouldn't you be on the train?"
Albus froze. Draco noted that the boy was also trembling, and how the color had gone from his cheeks. They'd been a bit rosy when he'd first seen him – no – when he thought he'd seen…
"Scorpius," Albus whispered dismally, looking down at the trunk as well.
"Yes, son, I thought you were…" Draco fumbled, although Malfoys never fumbled, Draco would have said, in some other place, in some other time.
But not there in the dust of Scorpius' abandoned bedroom.
Draco thought of candy wrappers and Butterbeer bottles.
"I'm sorry, sir, I called out, but no one answered," Albus said softly, finally realizing what Draco was doing in that big old empty room where Albus had spent so many nights with his friend.
"I was just getting things packed for…you know you're aw-fully late?" Draco asked. "I'd Floo you there, but it's been disconnected since…Merlin's beard!" Draco then swore, finally taking a good look at the disheveled boy before him. "You didn't fly here, in this weather?"
Albus just nodded.
"Minors aren't supposed to fly alone!" Draco reprimanded him, but his heart wasn't in it. His heart hadn't been in anything for almost a year, in fact. "It's against the rules! And your…your convalescence?" Draco seemed to re-member. "Did they discharge you?"
"Screw the rules," Albus muttered, shaking out his damp hair that his rudimentary Drying Charm hadn't fully dried. "Did they follow the rules last year?" He demanded, his voice beginning to break. "Where were the rules when they attacked the Hogwarts Express, when we were coming home last year? Where were the rules when I was laying in St. Mungo's for a year?"
"WHERE WERE THE RULES WHEN MY BEST FRIEND WAS KILLED?!" Albus screamed, a horrible sound that filled the silent Manor with a pain such as it had never known before.
Not even when the Lord Voldemort himself had been there plotting, murdering and worse, had such a raw emotion – charged with random Magic – been released at Malfoy Manor.
It was the sound of an anguished and grieving child, a child screaming in pain for that lost part of his own Self.
All along the corridor to the bedroom, empty portraits fell from the walls. The banister broke and crumbled. On the dining room table, dusty goblets shattered. In the parlor, grimy windows exploded outwards as the busts of famous Malfoys-past crumbled into dust. In the library, books fell from their shelves in a cloud of dust, torn pages flying everywhere.
Albus Potter then began to cry, sinking to his knees in exhaustion.
It was too much for Draco, as the boy's tears finally brought it all crashing back to him in stark clarity.
There was one awful moment of realization, a flash of memory almost like a light, and then the fog seemed to lift from Draco's befuddled mind. He was reminded of things that he would never do again, but at the time, had always seemed right.
And of things that he so desperately longed to do again – but never would.
"I thought you were him," Draco whispered, "When you walked in…" he then choked, holding out his arms as if to welcome home his son after an impossibly long and painful absence. "Come to me, son," Draco implored.
Albus' face contorted in pain, and Draco took in his arms the boy that had meant so much to his own absent son. Blinded by tears, Albus fell into Draco's embrace and sobbed as a year's worth of pent up guilt and grief was suddenly released into arms that had longed to hold a boy – although it was some other, fairer boy – for so very long, and could not.
For the longest time, Draco Malfoy held Albus and let the boy cry it out. He felt as if he should be crying as well, but then he realized that his tears had long ago turned to dust and dried up. He'd finished crying in the instant that the funeral had been over, and in his unwitting madness that had followed the loss of his beloved son, and the departure of his devastated wife, he'd deluded himself into believing that Scorpius was simply off at Hogwarts, and on summer session, seeing as how he was the Pride of Slytherin House that had brought honour back to the name of "Malfoy".
But the crying boy in his arms had dark hair.
And there was a scar on his forehead.
Draco studied that scar, jagged and still faintly pink with the tint of shiny skin that always resulted from a Magic-ally healed burn. He noted the new glasses, stylish, just as he'd picked out when Albus and Scorpius had been little and Draco had realized that Harry Potter had NO fashion sense at all.
Tenderly, he ran a trembling hand along Albus' left cheek, pink and smooth, like a healed Dragonfire burn, and felt the set of the boy's crooked left arm. And hadn't Albus been limping when he'd crossed the room? What had the trip here cost him already?
And what could be yet to come, when his father found out?
Carefully, with both hands on the boy's contorted face, Draco looked him in the eyes and saw that the tint of Albus' left eye was much more green – artificially green – than his right.
"Magical replacement eyes have come a long way since Alastor Moody," Draco realized, as Albus recovered himself long enough to pull a small vial of Potion from his breast pocket and drink it. Draco recognized it as a powerful painkiller, a controlled Potion only prescribed to those with serious medical conditions that left them in chronic pain.
"I should have come, or called you so much sooner," Draco whispered in Albus' ear, an ear which didn't exactly match its mate. Draco noticed the crystal embedded in the ear canal, much like a Muggle hearing aid. "You were so badly hurt, Albus, and…and I…I'm so sorry!"
And yet, Draco Malfoy could not weep.
"I…I'm sorry, too," Albus offered, his words a bit slurred. "I d-don't know why I came. I was to go home, then to K-Kings Cross, make up my Second Year I m-missed. I…I wanted to see y-you, to s-see his r-room, like it used to b-b-be when w-we w-were l-li-lit…"
Albus yawned then, his eyes drooping.
"Why did you come, Albus? Really? Knowing how your father …?" Draco asked.
"BECAUSE I CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT HIM!" Albus cried, and Draco could sense, almost feel, the boy's pain. After all, the boys had been almost inseparable since that fateful day at Fortescue's. It was uncanny, but neither he nor Harry had ever even attempted to explain whatever it was that had bonded the sons of such bitter enemies.
"I…I l-loved him, like family," Albus confessed, "He was m-my first, b-best f-fr-friend, and I…I…"
"And you were his," Draco tried to comfort him, but wondering if there was any comfort at all to be had.
But Albus wasn't listening to his best friend's father.
He seemed to be fighting sleep, becoming more agitated, as he grew more tired. The Magical outburst, Draco knew, had cost him dearly. And judging from the looks of Albus' scars, his ear and eye, in fact – his entire left side, Draco figured that the boy didn't have much left to give after the cold, wet flight there.
Draco remembered hearing about Albus' horrific injuries.
But WHY had he come? Really?
"Rest," Draco told the boy, as he laid him out on the long-unused bed. He pulled Albus' dirty shoes off, then tucked him in.
Draco then went to his own bedroom down the hallway, finding the door blown off its hinges, and picked up his dusty wand from the bureau.
The wand felt strange in his hand, but Draco found that when he waved it, it still did his bidding. And was it his imagination, or did the wand rejoice at his long-forgotten touch? Or was it because the wand knew that beneath it laid the beloved son of the man who had once taken that wand from its original Master?
But Draco didn't care.
It had been so long since he'd performed even the simplest Spell.
Not since Scorpius had boarded the Hogwarts Express to come home for the summer almost a year before…
He performed a Switching Spell and got Albus into a Magic-ally cleaned and altered set of Scorpius' old pyjamas, and although it broke both of their already-wounded hearts to really see the dilapidated room for what it really was (and what he knew he must do to it), Draco steeled himself and just did it.
The bed made itself up, clean and fresh, and the room warmed as a fire erupted in the neglected fireplace. Draco lovingly tucked Albus in tighter, easing the boy's glasses off his face and placing them on the nightstand.
In that instant, the dusty and deserted shrine that had once been Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy's bedroom, undisturbed and exactly the way the boy had left it one year ago, became a warm and safe haven – a sanctuary for the best friend of the boy who was not coming back.
"In my robe," Albus managed through another great yawn, "There's, there's a…a…it's why I came," he sniffled.
"Just rest," Draco repeated, as he reached into the breast pocket, just behind the Slytherin Crest, of the robe he'd just hung up. "MERLIN!" Draco then swore loudly, holding up a tiny golden hourglass on a dainty golden chain. "Albus Potter, WHERE did you get this?" Draco demanded in disbelief.
In his trembling hand, Draco Malfoy held a Time-Turner.
"But these were all destroyed, along with the Office for the Study of Time, when I was in school?" Draco gasped.
"He stole it from me," a new voice then spoke up, and Draco spun around, wand at the ready, to see Hermione Granger – no, Hermione Weasley – standing in the doorway. "This place has certainly changed, and not for the better," she observed.
"It's crumbling away, without the love and care of the Master of the Manor to dwell in it," Draco explained. "When the Heir – I mean – when Scorpius died, the Line was bro-ken. So was the Spell. The House of Malfoy began to fall." Then he looked back at Albus, who had gone to sleep. "Why have you come?" He then asked her, "For the boy? He's safe. I haven't harmed him. I…I never harmed him…"
"Draco, let's talk," Hermione suggested, glancing at her sleeping nephew and ushering Draco out into the hall.
She then explained to Draco about the Time-Turner she'd used during their Third Year, and told Draco the astonishing story of Sirius Black and how his love for his Godson had sustained him while in prison, keeping from madness for so long until they could be reunited. Draco listened, and it was all so impossible, so fantastic, that he had to believe it.
"McGonagall never turned it back in, and when the Office was destroyed, she kept it. Eventually, she forgot about it. We all did, until the day of…until…"
"The attack on the Hogwarts Express?" Draco finished for her, hearing once again the desperate words of the Floo call late that night when the train should have been rol-ling into Kings Cross – but had not shown up.
But hadn't Draco already known it? Hadn't he sensed it somehow, when Scorpius must have…
"They only blew up one section of one car," Hermione reminded him, as Draco remembered Harry's face exploding from the Floo, demanding that Draco drop his Wards and allow him to Apparate in. He remembered Harry appearing in the dining room, disheveled and distraught – hysterical, in fact – and he remembered Harry's words:
"They've attacked the train, Malfoy!
They've killed the boys!
Albus and Scorpius are dead!"
And Draco Malfoy remembered that day, the day that his own life had ended; the day that the House of Malfoy had finally fallen.
"Albus has been in the ICU of St. Mungo's ever since," Hermione went on, her eyes gleaming maniacally, "He's studied it as best as he could, made calculations, since he couldn't do anything else. He was fascinated with Time." She then took Draco's hand. "This device is the only one of its kind – the only one in existence." She paused.
Of course Albus had survived, but the cost had been hideous, Draco then remembered: The boy had lost an eye, an ear, and most of his left limbs. He'd been left horribly disfigured as well, but Madame Pomfrey had remained at his bedside until it was put right.
Or, at least, as right as she could make it.
Draco remembered how Harry had later told him that they'd found Albus laying atop of Scorpius' body, unconscious, barely alive, and clinging to his best friend with his remaining arm.
"He…he tried to shield him from the blast, from the fire," Draco whispered, shuffling back into the bedroom and just staring at the ruined trunk he'd been packing up.
Packing for a train trip that was never going to happen.
It all came back to him then.
Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy, the center of his life, was dead.
And his best friend had almost died trying to save him.
"They didn't discharge him, did they?" Draco murmured. "He ran away?"
Hermione nodded gravely, as if she knew something that she wasn't telling.
"Draco, they were in the compartment you all used to share. Vincent Crabbe is long dead, but the others? Do you think that they…?" Hermione asked, "Because the Aurors still have no leads?"
"Why have you come, Hermione?" Draco asked again. "And does Harry know?"
Hermione shook her head, pressing the Time-Turner back into Draco's hand.
"I came, because only YOU can do this, Draco. Only you can put this right again."
Hermione stared at him. Downstairs, an ancient and rusted Grandfather clock tried to strike noon – and failed.
"Scorpius," Draco breathed, staring at the golden device in his sweaty hand.
The device that could give him back his own one moment of gold - his only flash of light in an otherwise dark existence.
"There's one problem," Hermione then said. Draco looked up sharply at her. "The trip is one-way."
Draco considered it, but didn't understand it. "You mean I'll be marooned, in the Past?"
"It's preset to take you to one place, one time, one-way. You'll need to activate it here, in Scorpius' room. Given the movement of the planet and elapsed time, the calculations show that we should be in alignment to land you safely on Earth. You may have to Apparate back here, though. We can't be more precise. A conventional Time-Turner would land you out in space, if you tried to go more than twenty-four hours back. Thank Luna Lovegood for that one, since she got a job in that odd Planet Room at the Ministry. I'd have never figured it out without her help."
"How far BACK am I going?" Draco asked, having already made up his mind as he looked around the bedroom where Albus now slept.
"The amount of Magic it will consume and release, will, of course destroy it," Hermione continued, "As I said, it's one of a kind. I've worked on it since…since…I should never have shown it to Albus," she then sighed, "He became obsessed with it."
"And what happens to me, then? I go back, and say I prevent all of this? What then?" Draco demanded, with just a touch of the old Draco Malfoy showing through, "Do I share my life with that other 'me', then? Two of us?"
"Logic suggests that you'll just blink out of existence, once the deed is done," Hermione replied.
"A temporal paradox," the voice of Harry Potter then spoke up, making them both jump.
"Harry!" Hermione gasped.
"I knew you'd come here, Hermione," Harry smiled weakly. "Just like Albus."
"Keep your voice down, Potter," Draco snarled at him, still gazing longingly at the Time-Turner and the directions, and at all of Hermione's complex mathematical calculations. "Don't you dare wake up that child in there!"
Colorless eyes met emerald ones.
Then Harry Potter bowed his head.
"Bring my son back to me, whole, Draco," he said in a voice choked with remorse. "Y-you're the only one who can do this."
"Bring my Rose back to me, too," Hermione almost begged him. Draco blinked at her. The name sounded familiar.
"Rose – Rose Weasley?" Draco thought aloud. "The dream-girl of Scorpius' first crush?"
Normally, Draco would have been in the height of his glory seeing two members of the old Golden Trio begging him to help them.
But not now.
There was no joy in it for him.
"That's her," Hermione blushed. "She's not been the same since the attack, you know. She lost both Scorpius and Albus for her Second Year, you know. I don't think she ever got over Scorp-…"
"None of us have," Draco nodded morosely, looking around at the crumbling Manor as he made up his mind. "So, to WHEN am I going?"
"Fortescue's ice cream stand, I'd think," Harry said, looking past Draco, staring at his sleeping son, "To the first time when Albus met Scorpius. It had to begin there. They were the only targets, the only casualties," Harry explained. "'The Shame of Slytherin House,' the letter said – my only clue in a case I can't solve. It should give you plenty of time to figure out who did this to our boys."
"I already knowwho did it," Draco nodded, seeing the two faces clearly in his mind. "And I'm afraid I'm going to have to kill them."
"Moot point," Harry growled, as he crossed the room to sit on the edge of Scorpius' bed. "There will be no evidence. Time will erase it."
"But Draco, remember, you must not be seen!" Hermione warned him.
"Even if Time erases me?" Draco asked haughtily.
Draco then picked something up off of the floor, stashed it in his pocket, and summoned a traveling cloak from his bedroom. With a flick of his wand, he fixed his neglected face, hair, and clothing. Malfoys, after all, traveled in style. He then hung the Time-Turner around his neck.
"S-Scorpy?" Albus whimpered in his pain-haunted slumber, as his father kissed his right cheek and smoothed his hair. Hermione flinched.
"Soon, Albie, soon," Harry assured him, turning and shaking his head at Hermione. "The trip was too much for him, I'm afraid. Poppy warned us…"
"Draco, one other thing," Hermione began, but as she and Harry looked up, all they saw was a scattering of golden dust where Draco Malfoy had been standing only a split second before.
*** *** *** *** ***
"Blaise! Gregory! So good to see you!" Draco Malfoy came up behind them and greeted his old friends, throwing a casual glance over his shoulder at the two little boys who were standing in line to order ice cream. He absently brushed the golden dust off his fine shirt.
"Daddy?" the little blond boy at the counter asked in confusion. The dark haired boy beside him just shrugged.
"Blaise, a word?" Draco asked.
Goyle looked at Zabini, confused. "Weren't you just...?" Goyle asked, pointing at the ice cream counter at a blond man with is back to them.
"Oh, no!" Draco smiled at them, leaning in closer, "Say, I've got something that you simply MUST see?" He gestured at the dark alleyway. "Something of Father's you know?" He hinted.
"Cool!" The two old Slytherins said in unison, following Draco into the alley.
Once they were hidden, Draco pulled out his wand and cast a Muffliato over them. He then Disillusioned them all.
"What is it?" Goyle asked greedily. "Something Dark?"
"Ohhhhh yesssss," Draco almost purred, as he pulled out Scorpius' burnt, ruined wand.
"What's that?" Zabini breathed. "An evil wand?"
"This," Draco said softly, as one single tear rolled down his cheek and fell, anointing the ruined wand that had once resided in a warm, smooth little hand to do its Magic, "Is the wand of a dead child."
"Cool!" Goyle snorted. "What does it do?"
"Only one thing," Draco smiled, and it was a genuine smile, a smile that could come only with the act of a thing that he would never do again, but would always seem so right. He then leveled his own hawthorn wand, and the dead ironwood wand, at his old friends.
"You see, my friends," Draco sighed, "In about five years or so, someone is going to attempt to murder those two boys out there eating ice cream. One of them is my son, Scorpius, and they will succeed. The other is Albus Severus Potter, the namesake of a noble man who laid down his life for a love that was forever denied to him. The ones who will murder them will leave a calling card that calls those boys 'The Shame of Slytherin House'. Ring any bells?" Draco added darkly.
The two men gaped at Draco, then exchanged a quick look. Draco caught it.
"But Draco…we…we didn't…I mean, we wouldn't…kill your SON?" Zabini gasped.
"No, Blaise, you're right, you WON'T," Draco agreed, "And you will not harm his best friend, the boy who will give up his own life trying to save him, either."
"Malfoy?" Goyle gasped.
"AVADA KEDAVRA!" Draco then screamed, letting all the pain and indescribable loss he'd felt for so long flow down both of his arms and into the two wands.
It was the last word Goyle would ever say as the world filled with the most beautiful green light that Draco Malfoy had ever seen – would ever see again – as the Killing Curse that erupted from Scorpius' burnt wand struck its Master's killer head on.
Goyle and Zabini fell dead in the alley.
In Draco's hand, the ironwood wand turned then turned to dust – as did his own.
Draco closed his eyes, waiting for the bliss of non-existence.
There were no tears.
"Hot fudge!" the piping voice of a little boy then called out, and Draco Malfoy dared to step out of the alley to see his beloved son one last time before Time Itself took him away.
"I can count it myself, Daddy," Scorpius Malfoy said, pulling out some money, and they were surely the most beautiful words that Draco had ever heard.
But as the little boy turned around to smile at the blond man just behind him, Draco saw him simply blink out of existence. The little boy looked all around, confused.
Only the man's hawthorn wand, polished and unspoiled by recent Dark Magic, fell to land in the dust on the sidewalk.
"You dropped this, sir!" the dark haired boy spoke up, picking up the fallen wand and handing it to its Master.
Draco accepted it with a nod.
"Who're you?" Scorpius Malfoy asked the strange boy.
"Son, I want you to meet Master Albus Severus Potter, the best friend you will ever have in your life," Draco Malfoy informed his son, feeling as if his heart were about to break out of his chest and fly away with joy.
"Oh!" Scorpius smiled, and Draco felt it all coming back to him again. "Pleased to make your acquaintance, Albus!"
And so they sat down at the table to enjoy their sundaes in the warm sunshine. Draco even ordered another round, and laughed when Scorpius spilled some on his best shirt. He laughed so hard that he was crying when Albus finished his story about his cousin Teddy and Grandma. He laughed so much that he didn't even see the anxious man with black hair who had just come up behind them with murder flashing in his own emerald eyes.
"Albus!" The man yelled. "What do you think you're doing with THEM?"
"Oh, shut up and DO join us, Harry!" Malfoy laughed, as he got up and pulled out a chair. "Sit down, man! I'm buying!"
"Why?" Harry asked suspiciously, "What's the big occasion?"
"Albus just met Scorpius, and Hermione was WRONG!" Draco exclaimed happily, as if all was right with the world.
And it was…
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