Author's Notes: This is one of my Advent fics, for germankitty, who asked for a sequel to my fic "Changeling." That story was written long ago. Read it before you read this, as "The Faith and the Glory" assumes knowledge of those events.
The Faith and the Glory
"Come on, Al."
Grumbling, Al climbed down the tunnel behind him, squirming along on elbows and knees. He had already complained twice about grime on his robes, which Scorpius had ignored. If he, raised by a father who would stare in horror at a wrinkle, wasn't complaining about this place, then Al didn't have the right to. "You're being ridiculous."
"No, I'm not. I know what I saw. You even agreed with what I saw."
"That was when I didn't know it was going to bring us here," Al muttered, softly enough he might have thought Scorpius didn't hear.
But underground tunnels, even ones muffled by spiderwebs, tended to echo.
"Stop complaining," Scorpius ordered loftily one more time, and dodged around the last corner of the tunnel. It reached the bottom of a set of stairs, and Scorpius nodded, satisfied. Al's cousin Fred hadn't been lying after all when he said he had a map that would reveal all the secret tunnels. "Here, we need to climb up again."
"Wait, we came all this way down, and now we have to climb, again?"
Rolling his eyes at the melodramatic way Al took life, Scorpius set his foot on the first stair. It looked like a big, solid block of marble, but it turned out that he needed to spring back with an oath when it softened underneath him.
"What, some prank Fred set?" Al panted as he came up next to Scorpius, his formal robes covered with dirt and dust and rat droppings and probably spider eggs. Scorpius nobly refrained from snickering.
"No, the stairs are trapped."
"Oh, wonderful. So bloody wonderful!"
Scorpius clapped a hand over Al's mouth. Even though they were inside the walls, someone might hear him yelling and come to investigate. "We just need to figure out a way to get up the stairs without setting our weight in the center of them, that's all."
Al gave him such a dirty look that Scorpius removed his hand, unnerved. Then Al moved forwards and up on the side of one step, then the side of the next one, then the side of the next one.
Scorpius coughed and followed. "You're no Ravenclaw yourself," he muttered, but he did it to Al's back.
And I did so see what I said I saw.
Scorpius thought maybe the girl—Angela Selwyn—had approached him because of his last name. "Everyone" knew the Malfoys had supported blood purity in the war with Voldemort, and that had really been true until a few years ago, when Scorpius went to Hogwarts.
But Scorpius would also have thought everyone knew by now that Scorpius wasn't a fan of blood purity. How could he be, when his mum's crazy cousin had used a changeling spell on him so that he wasn't really a Malfoy?
Dad had continued to love him anyway. And then Dad had started dating Harry, and, well, Scorpius would just like to try to see anyone be blood-prejudiced around Harry. Harry would give them a long slow look, and they would have to stop.
But apparently Selwyn thought he still was. Or she just didn't pay attention, or she thought Scorpius being in Slytherin somehow outweighed his personal history. She had strutted up to him in the middle of the common room, her nose in the air.
Al had been elsewhere, serving detention with Professor Slughorn, or there would be two witnesses to this conversation. As it was, Scorpius just had to tell everyone to trust him, which made Al give him a long slow look.
But Angela had really come up to him and nodded and said, "You'll do, Malfoy. Are you in?"
"In the group that's going to bring purity back to Hogwarts." Angela had sighed and pushed her heavy dark hair away from her face, giving him an impatient glance that made Scorpius flush. "I've only been trying to ascertain this for the last hour."
"Why would I want to bring purity back to Hogwarts? That would leave me out, too."
"But you're a pure-blood."
"Not in the traditional sense of it." Scorpius sat up. He wondered if he would have to tell his story, which he didn't usually have to anymore, except sometimes to the first-year Slytherins. Angela was in the same year as he was, so she should have heard it. "You know about the changeling curse and the way—"
Angela stepped up to him and lowered her voice. "I know, but that doesn't mean that you're in favor of Mudbloods destroying our way of life, are you?"
Scorpius sat still long enough to unclench his fingers from his robes. "I'm in favor of you never saying that word again."
Angela gaped at him, and then shut her mouth with a click of teeth and turned away. "You're ridiculous," she said over her shoulder. "I offer you the chance to join a select group and you act like I'd thrown you rotting meat!"
"You and your group are the rotting meat," Scorpius muttered, but he kept his voice low, and noticed the people Angela went back to, a few fifth-years from "traditional" families and a half-blood girl who was the most hypocritical person Scorpius had seen in a while.
They dared to swagger around the Slytherin common room talking about blood purity and saying that word. To Scorpius, it meant only one thing.
He would follow them, find out where they were meeting, and rip their little group apart, for the future glory of Hogwarts. And he would take Al along, so he would have backup and it would be a proper adventure (Harry was always saying that it wasn't a proper adventure unless it had a Potter in it).
Things would have been so much easier if Al had simply believed him.
"We're at the top of the stairs," Al reported, his neck craning as if he was trying to hold a block on the back of it. "And there's something in front of me that looks like lace made of stone, and I don't want to touch it."
Scorpius sighed as he climbed up behind Al. Trust Angela's group to be meeting somewhere that meant he and Al had to go through three secret tunnels to find them. "That's a spiderweb made of stone. Not lace." He stared at the glinting grey mass stretched across the top of the hidden staircase.
"So what? Are you going to touch it?"
"No," Scorpius said, and reluctantly took his wand out. "But unlike you, I know what it does." He conjured a small blast of water with the Aguamenti Charm and threw it towards the stone spiderweb.
The minute the water hit the web, it rippled and gleamed with strange colors, and the web contracted around the water, writhing and closing into a cocoon shape. The grey spider Scorpius had been expecting came scuttling forwards and seized the cocoon, wrapping around it in turn and joining barbed legs together with a rasping noise.
Al's eyes were wide. "Jesus Christ."
Scorpius grinned. He liked Muggle ways of swearing. "Right."
"So how do we get past it?"
Scorpius gave him a condescending glance that made Al immediately fire up, but Scorpius pretended to ignore him as he cast the Sticky Palms spell on his hands and clamped one to the wall. "Like this."
Al knew the incantation, but he still grumbled as he followed Scorpius up the wall, around the web, over to the side, and then back down to the huge flat landing at the top of the stairs. "I hate this spell. It always takes forever to get off my hands."
"I can show you the spell for removing it faster."
"There's one like that?"
Scorpius nodded, put a boot on the floor, and cast swiftly and nonverbally at his palm, then held it up so Al could see.
Mercifully, Scorpius repeated the incantation aloud for Al's benefit, and Al sighed and scrubbed his hands fast enough together to make Scorpius grin again. "Now come on," he said, and crept towards the secret door that would open into the meeting room where Angela and the others had gathered. It was a shame that the only secret passage Scorpius knew took so long to get there and was full of such traps.
They eased the door open a millimeter at a time. Luckily, it was made of the same stone as the wall and well-oiled by Fred and Roxane Weasley, and didn't groan. There was also a tapestry over it, showing a unicorn hunt, which Fred had thoughtfully cut a small hole in. He'd stitched up the hole, but you could open it with a tug on the right thread. Scorpius did that, and put his eye to it.
The room where Angela and her minions had come to discuss blood purity was technically an abandoned classroom, but generations of Slytherin students had used it to be private—hence the tapestry and the fireplace and the cushioned chairs and even the small podium where Angela stood to speak, turning her head back and forth importantly. Scorpius concealed the urge to roll his eyes. She kept sweeping her gaze over the tapestry, and might notice even so small a motion.
Another girl Scorpius didn't know, dressed in a Ravenclaw tie, came panting in, and Angela nodded and sealed the door shut after that. Scorpius narrowed his eyes a little. She's spreading this poison into other Houses? Or, alternatively, she's taking the trouble to find people sympathetic to her beyond Slytherin?
It was more than worrying. Scorpius kept his eyes still as he watched the Ravenclaw settle next to a Slytherin boy named Karl Dunne, and nodded a little when he saw how alike they looked. Hopefully the issue was family beliefs and not spreading poison.
Spreading poison. Listen to you. You sound like Harry.
But then again, Harry had partially reared him for the last three years, and Scorpius had listened to lots of his stories about the blood purity, how obsessed people could get and horrible the war was. Scorpius didn't ever want to live through that. Anything that could put those lines in his father's face was too harsh for him to want to experience.
Angela glanced sharply at the tapestry. Scorpius promptly went still again. She finally seemed to assume there was no one there, and gave a condescending smile to her group.
"We are only ten now, but we will grow!"
"Like a bloody weed," Al said, too softly for anyone but Scorpius to hear him. Scorpius moved the shoulder he already had leaning against Al a little.
"And we need to show people that we're more than talk." Angela leaned back as if she was trying to see numbers that weren't there. "More than that, we need to show ourselves that we're more than talk! We need to grow and expand and take action!"
Scorpius thought she would talk about recruiting more members, but instead Angela puffed herself up and proclaimed, "We need to hurt some Mudbloods!"
Scorpius flinched, not caring that it made the tapestry ruffle, because he'd picked up Harry's attitude towards that word. But Angela wasn't watching the tapestry now, and everyone else sat with their backs to it.
At least they weren't jumping out of their chairs to cheer her. They were exchanging nervous glances instead. Finally, Dunne muttered, "But they're all in Gryffindor and Hufflepuff, and they travel in packs. What are we supposed to do?"
"There's Rose Weasley in Ravenclaw," said Angela instantly. "She spends a lot of time by herself."
This time, Al was the one who made the tapestry rustle. Scorpius held rigidly still, intent on consuming every moment of the awfulness before him, in case someone called on him for a Pensieve memory later.
"None of you have any sense of adventure," Angela was complaining, and Scorpius didn't know if he'd missed something or if Angela was upset because everyone else was sitting there, staring at her, instead of jumping at her plan. "We can pay Weasley back for all those times she's shown us up in class! Why aren't you more interested?"
"Because—" said Dunne's sister. "Because Weasley's a half-blood, and none of the rest of us get shown up in class by her."
"If you pick someone real to take on," called a Slytherin second-year boy Scorpius only knew as Ethlred, "then maybe we'll do it."
Angela huffed and rolled her eyes. "Fine, fine. Maybe Weasley is a bad target, anyway. But what about that Mudblood Creevey in Gryffindor? She's too loud, the others don't like her, she's alone all the time in the library."
"Well," said Dunne's sister, clearly thinking about it.
"I heard that her mother's a Muggle," said Dunne himself, sounding delighted. "She's only even half a Mudblood!"
The others started speaking up with their own detailed plans for how to hurt Melinda Creevey, and Scorpius shivered. He hated the thought of sitting here and listening to them plot instead of doing something, but there were too many of them to fight. And he knew Angela had bragged about practicing with the Memory Charm.
She might not be able to erase his memories and Al's if she caught them, but she could probably damage their brains a lot.
The group argued and bickered and made several plans before Angela took over again and made up their minds for them. "The only time that we can catch her is at lunch, because no prefects will be patrolling then. Near curfew's no good. We'll wait for her at the library during lunch, all right?"
The rest of them agreed for a second, and then immediately started arguing about who was going to take the risk of approaching Creevey first, and who would watch out for Madam Pince, and who would distract any prefects or older students from Gryffindor who did come along. Scorpius turned his head the slightest bit and caught Al's eye.
Al was pale and shaking. "They're horrible," he was breathing over and over. "They're so horrible."
Scorpius nodded soberly. "I know. But that means—"
He'd trusted too much to the clamoring little Death Eaters' voices to cover theirs. Suddenly the tapestry got yanked back, and Angela was standing in front of them, her wand aimed and her expression triumphant.
"Didn't I tell you that we were under attack?" she yelled back at her minions. "Even other Slytherins will stop at nothing to spy on us, at least if they're on the side of blood traitors and Mudbloods!"
Al reacted before Scorpius could, but then, he'd been participating in Harry's mock Auror training duels lately. He sent a Stunner at Angela, and knocked her back to the floor before anyone else could do anything. Scorpius saw several Slytherins staring, probably because they were surprised by the strong display of magic from a mere fourth-year, and one some of them still despised because he was a Potter.
If Al was quick with magic, Scorpius was quick with words. He adopted a stern expression and stepped out from behind the tapestry. "What exactly do you think you're doing?" he snapped at them.
The Slytherins exchanged glances. The second-year called Ethelred was the one who finally responded. "We were only expressing our opinions! Since everyone out there hates them so much!"
Scorpius rolled his eyes. "They hate them because you're talking about bullying other students and cursing them for the crime of who they were born. That's not what our world is about anymore. The war proved that you can't get ahead by making speeches filled with insults towards Muggleborns."
There was a long pause. Scorpius knew he wouldn't hold them for very long, but he let the pause stretch anyway. That was a lesson from his father, who had taught him how to know the right times to speak.
"What do you mean about getting ahead?" a Slytherin sixth-year, a Zabini cousin, finally asked.
"We have to learn how to adapt and survive if we want to be successful politicians," Scorpius told them easily. "We have to show people that we're intelligent and can change with the times. Insisting on clinging to the past doesn't do that."
"But our past is important," said Dunne's sister, who was trailing a curl around her finger and looked as if Scorpius's words physically pained her.
"It is. But only if we can learn it, not keep reliving it."
That was something Harry often said, and for a minute, Scorpius thought it wouldn't work because these Slytherins would have heard it so many times before in the papers that reported on his speeches. But they nodded and looked thoughtful.
"We can all get stronger," Al added, and his encouraging smile was so powerful that Scorpius looked at it wistfully. He'd like to smile like that, but he couldn't. Father said it was the Malfoy face—and Scorpius still looked like a Malfoy, even if he technically wasn't one. "I mean, I'm a Slytherin, and I'm a Potter, and there's never been a Slytherin Potter before. What would have happened if you had scorned me when I got Sorted here?"
"Your dad would have come and arrested us all," said one of the second-years.
Al shook his head impatiently. "No, you would have looked like idiots. Dad wouldn't have done a thing except talk to me and be disappointed in the lot of you, but it would have said that Slytherin was as blind a bunch of bigoted louts as we were always supposed to be. And planning to attack my cousin or a little Gryffindor Muggleborn makes us look the same way."
Scorpius was content to fade in the background and let the rest of them listen to Al. It was easy enough for Al to use words when he didn't have to act quickly. And he had listened to even more of Harry's speeches than Scorpius had.
But Scorpius did take some pleasure in going back to Angela Selwyn and reviving her with a swish of his wand. Angela opened her eyes, saw his smile, and shut her eyes with a groan.
"It's annoying," she whispered. "You're annoying."
"That would be me," said Scorpius casually. "But I'll be more than that, when I tell the Headmistress what you were planning."
Angela's mouth rounded. "They'll expel me."
"Probably," said Scorpius, although he wasn't actually sure of that. Angela's family was powerful, and both Harry and Dad had made it clear that Hogwarts often didn't expel people even when they should.
"Don't tell her, Malfoy. Please."
Scorpius hesitated. There was such a thing as being moral—and then there was such a thing as being a Slytherin. "What will you give me if I keep it secret?"
Angela breathed out sharply. "I'll give you a promise never to meet with this group again and never to attack a Mudblood again."
"Do you think I'm stupid?" Scorpius crouched beside her. "That doesn't say anything about not meeting with other groups or attacking other people."
Angela turned her head away as much as she could and stared at the far wall. Scorpius waited, unconcerned. She could think what she liked. Scorpius was the one in power here, and the one who could give her up to a far more demanding authority if she didn't do what he wanted.
"Fine," Angela whispered, not even bothering to speak silently. "Fine, you narcissist—"
Scorpius really did want to laugh at her idea of an insult, but held it in and watched her with eyebrows raised. "My promise never to meet with any blood-purity based group again," Angela finally hissed. "And my promise not to attack anybody in the school."
With that, Scorpius thought he would be content. Angela still had three more years here, and hopefully by the time she was outside its walls she would be more adult and able to control herself.
"I'll still need an oath on that," he said, and let her draw her wand.
"I would have punished her more severely."
"You always say that, Draco." Harry's voice was soft and comfortable, and he tilted his chair so far back from the table that Scorpius winced, thinking he would go through the window in a moment. "But you never mean it."
Scorpius beamed around the table. Al and Lily were with them; James, a sixth-year and too "adult" to spend holidays with his family when he could spend them with his friends, was off with the Longbottoms. But Harry and Dad had moved the chairs around the big table in so that there were no gaps, and Scorpius knew he was with his family.
"She sounds stupid," Lily was saying now, tossing her red hair over her shoulder in a way that made it sparkle. "I'm just a second-year, and I'm smarter than her."
"Yeah, but we're Potters," Al pointed out, and Lily nodded, appeased.
It wasn't until after dinner that Harry leaned down to Scorpius as they were sitting in the drawing room making fun of Celestina Warbeck on the wireless and murmured, "A good job. Neat. I'm glad you took care of her before she became someone the Auror Office would have to deal with."
Scorpius tilted his head back to beam at his newer father. He thought that sounded better than stepfather. "Really?"
"Really. Especially when she was about to persuade so many other people to go along with her. And she tried to recruit you." Harry gripped his shoulder for a second. "You're growing up to be a wizard I'm proud of."
He went off to join Al and Lily then, and participate in the dickering over whether they would get to open one present early. Scorpius stared after him, blinking back tears.
Harry had faith in him. Harry Potter had faith in him. And thought Scorpius was going to grow up to be a great wizard. Because what else could that mean?
Scorpius looked at Dad, and saw the way he raised his glass in a minute toast. Scorpius swallowed and grabbed his own glass of pumpkin juice so the next swallow would look less suspicious.
He'd only been doing what seemed right, something both his dads would probably want him to do. But that was a one-time thing.
Now he thought, as pride filled him, that he could probably go on doing this for the rest of his life.