Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.

(A.N: Thanks to Bruteaous for beta-reading this!)

By Silver Sailor Ganymede

Scorpius Malfoy is three years old and he hasn't seen his mother in weeks. When he thinks about this later on, he supposes that's why it's the first thing he can clearly remember.

When he asks the House Elves why his mother is gone, they tell him that the Mistress is having a baby, and that it is making her very tired.

Scorpius accepts this (why would the House Elves lie, after all?) and their words are only confirmed later on when his father tells him, elated, that in a month's time he is to have a new baby brother or sister. Scorpius asks him why he has to wait so long, to which his father only laughs.

However, it turns out that he doesn't have to wait so long at all, as only three days after this announcement his mother disappears for a few days. When she comes back she looks pale and sad and won't even open her mouth to speak to anyone. Scorpius asks his father why and receives the cold announcement that the Healers had been wrong – Scorpius will not be getting a baby brother or sister this time.

Scorpius never does get his baby brother or sister. Grandmother Narcissa tells him that a husband and wife have to love each other very much in order for a baby to be born. Once supplied with this piece of information, Scorpius is quite sure that he will never have a little sibling: his parents spend most of their time arguing on the rare occasions that they are together at all.

He isn't supposed to know this but he does; he can hear them shouting even through the wards sometimes. Most of the time when they argue he'll just sit on his bed and stare out the window, trying to concentrate on the clouds outside rather than the shouting below him, but of course that doesn't always work.

They tried to act civil to each other when they were around their son (though seeing them smiling at each other in such a way only served to completely confuse Scorpius, who didn't understand how someone could tell another person that they hated them one moment and be smiling at them the next.)

Sometimes Scorpius cries even though he knows he's not allowed to.

Scorpius is seven years old when his parents have their worst argument to date. They have been screaming at each other for hours (even the wards on his rooms can't keep the shouts out this time) and it doesn't seem like they are ever going to stop.

The House Elves are asleep, so Scorpius decides to leave his rooms so he can better hear what's being said. If he knows what the problem is then he can fix it, and if he fixes the problem then maybe his mother and father will love each other again and he'll get the little brother or sister he's been waiting years for.

"I don't care, Draco," his mother is screaming. "I don't care about a damn thing anymore, not now that I know that you've been sleeping with another woman since before we even got married." His father doesn't answer and his mother continues shouting. "You thought I'd never realise; well, I have now. I found those letters – all of them! And now you can have the child I can't give you."

"Astoria, I…"

"No. Don't you dare try and tell me that you're sorry, Draco Malfoy. Don't you dare! You know how much it hurt me when the Healers told me I'd never be able to have another baby – and now I find out that there's another woman out there who's carrying your child? Who is it, Draco? For Salazar's sake just have the decency to tell me that at least!"

There was silence for a moment then his father mumbled something that Scorpius can't hear.

"Pansy Parkinson?" his mother says, laughing. "I should have guessed, shouldn't I?"

Scorpius doesn't understand why his mother is laughing. People only laugh when they're happy, don't they? And his mother sounds far from happy now…

"I've had enough of you. I really have had enough."

The door slams and silence descends on Malfoy Manor. Scorpius doesn't find out for another few days, but that was when he lost his mother for good.

Months pass in silence after his mother leaves, and Scorpius finds himself almost wishing that his mother was back and his parents were screaming at each other all the time again. Even hearing them shouting didn't hurt so much as the silence does. Scorpius doesn't want to admit it (for the Malfoys are a proud family and they must never admit to their feelings, or so says his grandfather) but the silence scares him.

That is why he realises as soon as another argument breaks out. This time it is his grandmother and his father, which surprises Scorpius because his Grandmother Narcissa almost never raises her voice.

"You can't do this, Draco!" his grandmother is shouting. "It's bad enough that you've divorced your first wife, but to take a second?"

"I can't let my son be a bastard, mother, and well you know it."

"The fact that there's already a child involved makes this even worse," she screams at him. "This is going to cause a scandal, an absolute scandal. I don't think I'll ever be able to show my face in polite society again!"

Later that evening Scorpius asks Grandfather Lucius what a 'scandal' is. He receives a slap for his impertinence.

Only days after that, Scorpius' father leaves Malfoy Manor as well. Grandmother Narcissa tries to reassure him, telling him that that his father would be back soon and all would be well: but weeks pass and Draco doesn't return.

Scorpius realises that his father has done the same thing as his mother, that he is an awful son who has caused both of his parents to leave because they despise him so much. He blurts this all out to Grandfather Lucius and then flinches away, expecting a slap like the one he got last time he asked his grandfather a question.

This time his grandfather takes Scorpius in his arms and holds the little boy until he eventually cries himself to sleep.

For the next few years Scorpius lives in Malfoy Manor with his grandparents. His father comes by to see him occasionally, apparently remorseful for leaving like he did, but he never takes Scorpius back home with him.

He is glad for this, as he can cloister himself away in Malfoy Manor with Grandmother Narcissa and Grandfather Lucius, who appear capable of talking to each other normally, who almost never argue, and who love each other very much; even Scorpius can see that.

Scorpius knows that his father has a new wife, and that he has a younger brother or sister, just like he always wanted, but he has never met them. Scorpius knows that his father is ashamed of him.

Scorpius only sees his mother and father together once after his mother left. It is the day that he will be starting Hogwarts, and somehow his Aunt Daphne has managed to convince both Draco and Astoria that they need to go and see their son off, as this is one of the most important days of his life.

Scorpius hasn't seen his mother in years (he was seven when she left – now he's not far off twelve), and he doesn't know how to act around her. She is his mother but she's also a complete stranger. He is amazed by how much she has changed. She holds herself with greater elegance than he ever remembers her having done; indeed she reminds him of Grandmother Narcissa now. Then he notices that his mother can barely stand to look at him and realises that while his father is merely ashamed of him, his mother is repulsed by his very presence.

His father embraces him and his mother kisses him on the cheek – but his father's embrace is cold and his mother kisses him as though she's having to touch her lips to something poisonous. He gets on the train just before it leaves and waves to them, trying as hard as he can to keep up the pretence that they're perfectly happy in each other's company.

"Why haven't you been to see your own son?" Draco shouts at Astoria as soon as they think that Scorpius is out of earshot.

"Because he reminds me too much of you!" Astoria hisses in reply. She slaps him on the cheek, not caring any longer for keeping up appearances any longer, then leaves.

The train rounds the corner. Scorpius never sees his mother again.

Scorpius is watching the Sorting with trepidation. He spent the whole of the train ride by himself, spending the latter half of it hidden in a cubicle in the bathroom after some fourth years forcibly removed him from the compartment he had claimed.

Finally he hears the professor call out his name – "Malfoy, Scorpius."

There is some muttering from some of the older students but Scorpius tries to ignore it. Of course a lot of them will know about his situation – and those that don't will expect him to be just another Malfoy, just like his whole family: rotten to the core.

He has to prove himself to his mother, he thinks. He has to show her that even though he looks just like his father he is nothing like him. He has to prove himself. He has to, he has…

"Slytherin!" the Sorting Hat shouts and Scorpius feels his heart wither inside of him. He is never going to be able to prove himself now: he is just another Malfoy in Slytherin, and no one is ever going to be able to see past that.

Scorpius can't help but think how ironic the situation is and how his grandparents would be utterly aghast if they knew about it. According to the stories his Grandfather Lucius told him about Hogwarts, mudbloods were not welcome in Slytherin and purebloods were respected above all others: and yet here he is, the only pureblood in his year and being ruthlessly taunted about it by a bunch of half-bloods.

He tries to ignore them and it's not too hard. He just puts up the walls he has become accustomed to and listens only to the silent thoughts inside his head. But some days it's just too hard to do and Scorpius will lock himself away in an abandoned classroom and cry silently for hours as things spontaneously burn around him.

He wants to tell someone but he can't; his grandparents are traditional Slytherins who cannot stand the expression of emotions, his parents are out of the question and he has no one to confide in – so he sits on his own and lets his magic run wild, destroying inanimate objects in place of hurting those people who hurt him every day.

It is time for Scorpius' first Charms lesson, which the Slytherins have with the Hufflepuffs. Scorpius knows that Hufflepuffs are naturally timid, generally, especially around Slytherins, and so he decides that he will sit as far away from the Slytherins as possible. If he sits at the back of the room on what looks to be the Hufflepuff side, no one is going to bother him.

It seems that he is wrong in his calculations, however, as he is soon joined by a boy with messy black hair and startlingly green eyes, whom he recognises from the Sorting as Albus Potter, son of Harry Potter.

"Hi," Albus says, smiling at him. Scorpius wonders whether Albus is stupid; why would he be talking to him otherwise? The other Slytherins have already seen to it that Scorpius is something of a pariah. He thought Hufflepuffs were supposed to be timid, but this one evidently isn't.

"Not going to say hi back then?" Albus says, looking vaguely annoyed.

"I… I was just surprised that someone's talking to me, that's all," Scorpius mumbles to the desk rather than looking up at Albus. "Most people don't seem to like me much. Can't really blame them; I'm a Malfoy, aren't I?"

"Don't be stupid," Albus replies. "Just because you're a Malfoy doesn't mean you're a bad person, no matter what your housemates have been saying to you. My cousin Dominique (she's a Slytherin, too, in fifth year) mentioned to me that they weren't being very nice, and I thought I should come and see if you were ok."

"I don't need your charity," Scorpius hissed.

"It's not charity," Albus snaps. "I generally want to get to know you because I think you're nowhere near as bad as everyone wants to think you are. Now let's start this again, shall we. Hi, I'm Albus," he says, offering his hand to Scorpius.

"Hi, I'm Scorpius," Scorpius replies, feeling vaguely stupid as he takes Albus' hand in his own and shakes it.

By the end of the lesson he is feeling better than he has done in a long time; it's nice to have a friend, even if said friend happens to be Albus Potter and a Hufflepuff.

They have Herbology with the Ravenclaws, and it is perhaps the worst class for Scorpius. The Ravenclaws ignore him, the Slytherins delight in making his work look even worse than it already is, and on top of that he has no talent for Herbology whatsoever. Professor Longbottom seems nice for the most part, but he doesn't seem to like Scorpius too much, though Scorpius doesn't know why.

That day, however, things are rather different. Scorpius goes to his usual place where he works on his own only to be joined my two Ravenclaws a minute later. One is a girl who has curly, dark red hair, the other a boy with hair as white as Scorpius' own.

"I'm Rose Weasley and this is my cousin, Louis," Rose introduces herself. "Albus mentioned you to us and he said you're actually really nice, just a bit quiet, so we thought we'd work with you today."

Scorpius looks at her, slightly confused. Albus said he was nice? And they've willingly chosen to work with him?

"Albus is our cousin, by the way," Louis says, and Scorpius can't help but be taken aback by the lack of family resemblance between the three. "Then again our family seems to have taken over Hogwarts." He laughs.

They work together for the remainder of the lesson, and by the end of it even Professor Longbottom comments on how much his work has improved in the space of a single session.

Scorpius walks out with Louis and Rose, not sure whether he ought not to be, but then Rose starts talking to him again.

"You know my dad warned me about your family when we were about to get on the train to come here," Rose says and Scorpius blanches. "Oh, don't worry. I think my dad was completely wrong. Albus was right; you really do seem like a rather nice person from what I've seen of you today."

"Yeah," Louis says, nodding in agreement. "We've set up a study group – we meet in the library after dinner on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. There are Ravenclaws, Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors involved, but no Slytherins yet. We were wondering if maybe you'd like to come? You seem pretty intelligent after all."

Scorpius knows that being called intelligent is the best compliment one can get from a Ravenclaw. He nods and says he'd love to join their study group, and mentally he is thanking Albus Potter for maybe, just maybe having made his time at Hogwarts rather more bearable.

His first year at Hogwarts may have been wonderful once he found Albus, but Scorpius is feeling rather pessimistic as he walks along platform 9 ¾ on his own, dragging his trunk behind him.

He is rather glad that this year won't be a repeat of last year's fiasco with his parents, but he is rather annoyed that his grandparents seem to be rather too busy to come and see him off. Evidently he won't be missed at home, Scorpius thinks.

"Scorpius!" he hears someone shout and Albus comes running to him from the other side of the platform. "We've just got a really nice compartment. Come on, come and sit with us. I'll help you carry your trunk."

Albus has grabbed hold of the trolley with Scorpius' trunk on before Scorpius can say anything. He laughs at his friend's antics and takes off down the platform after him. Albus loads Scorpius' trunk onto the train, then turns to a group of people who are waiting just outside the carriage.

"Scorpius, this is my mum, my dad, my Aunt Hermione and my Uncle Ron - they're Rose's mum and dad, by the way," Albus says, pointing first to a man who looks rather like an older version of Albus, then to a woman with fiery red hair, then to another woman who has brown hair that is as curly as Rose's, then to a tall man with the same, flaming hair has Albus' mum. "Everyone, this is my friend, Scorpius Malfoy."

The colour drains from Albus' uncle's face, but no one else seems to fazed by this announcement.

"Hello, Scorpius," Mrs. Potter says. "Albus has told me so much about you."

Scorpius just smiles in return, then jumps onto the train after Albus when the whistle blows. He just has time to notice that they are sharing a carriage with Louis, Rose, James, Freddie, David Wood and Albus' other cousins Lucy and Molly before the train begins to move and platform 9 ¾ fades from sight.

Scorpius' second, third and fourth years pass without complaint. He takes ancient runes and arithmancy as his extra subjects for O.W.L alongside the compulsory subjects. Albus and Rose are taking ancient runes, too, and Rose and Louis both keep him company in arithmancy, so it's not so bad. In fact school's always quite bearable when he's in lessons or with his study group or just with Albus on his own. It's only when he's stuck in Slytherin with his housemates that Scorpius really detests the school.

Now it is the summer before his fifth year and Scorpius is already dreading the start of his O.W.L year. He knows that he has to get straight Os or his grandparents will be deeply disappointed.

He is in such a state of worry (even though he hasn't done the exams yet and the results won't be here for another year anyway) that he completely forgets that the prefects are chosen in fifth year until he opens the letter to discover that he has been chosen as a prefect for Slytherin.

His grandparents are happy for him. They have dinner together that night in celebration, a rare occurrence that Scorpius is keen to savour.

His good mood only increases when he receives a letter from Albus the next day, telling him that Albus too has been made a prefect, and that Rose and Louis are the prefects for Ravenclaw. Scorpius finds himself looking forward to patrolling the corridors at night; it might even be fun if he has Albus with him.

Sadly his brightness soon dissipates when he opens the second letter of the day. He opens it and realises that it is a letter from his father, congratulating him on having been made a prefect. Scorpius can't quite believe that his father has actually bothered to write to him.

He stares at the letter for a moment longer, wondering how his father has the audacity to write to him now after not having bothered to see him for months on end (the last time he saw him was in November, just after his birthday, and now it is the beginning of August). Then he crumples the letter up and throws it in the fire, taking bizarre delight in watching it burn and fall to pieces.

It is a Thursday just before the Christmas holidays when Scorpius receives a letter from his grandmother telling him that his father desperately wants to see him and is coming to pick him up from school the next day. Scorpius contemplates throwing it in the fire like he did to the last letter his father sent him, but in the end he decides against it. If his father wants to come, let him come: that doesn't mean that Scorpius will be staying with him.

On Friday evening his father is there by the gates, waiting for him. His father grabs his arm and Scorpius assumes that he is going to hug him. It feels for a moment as though they are a family again. But then his father apparates them and Scorpius realises that no, nothing's changed between them.

"Why did you want to see me?" Scorpius asks as they walk into the ancient-looking townhouse. It is dingy and depressing and Scorpius hates it immediately.

"Do I need a reason to want to see my own son?" his father asks, but Scorpius knows there's more to it than that. His father has always needed a reason to see him in the past, after all. He sees Scorpius' expression and sighs. "I just thought that maybe now you're old enough to meet the rest of your family. You're seventeen in less than a year's time, and I just thought…"

He trails off. Scorpius flinches. The rest of his family? His father's new wife and children are no family to him; that was made perfectly clear years ago. He knows this but he doesn't say it, instead following his father into a high-ceilinged sitting room which is just as dank and dark as the entrance hall despite there being a large fire roaring in the grate.

There is a girl of around five years old playing with some toys while her heavily pregnant mother watches her. They girl and the woman look strikingly similar, as both have the same jet black hair, slightly upturned nose, thin lips and heart-shaped faces. Scorpius notices that the girl's eyes are grey like his father's and like his own, not dark brown like her mother's.

"This is my wife, Pansy," his father says. "And your sister, Millicent Narcissa Malfoy."

The words don't quite sink in. He has a sister? How very peculiar it seems.

"As you can see, we're expecting our third child in February."

Third child? He can only see evidence of their being one so far. But then he realises that his father's wife (then his mistress) was pregnant before his parents even got divorced. He was too young to understand that then, but now he knows: he catches sight on another child, this one a boy of around eight years old who is sitting quietly on a chair with a book on his lap.

"And this is your brother, Procyon Draco Malfoy," his father says. Scorpius feels as though he has been hit by the cruciatus curse. This child is the reason that his mother left him and then his father left him, too. Then the little boy looks straight at him and it hits him, hard. He could tell himself that the girl wasn't his sister, but he can't deny that this boy is his brother, not now that Procyon Draco Malfoy is staring straight at him (with eyes just like his own and hair just like his own, though shorter, and a sharp jaw line just like his own: the only differences are that he has the same, slightly upturned nose and thin lips as his mother) he can't deny it. He has a brother and a sister and another unborn sibling, and his father loves these little children far more than he ever loved him.

He leaves as soon as he can, not even bothering to make any decent excuses. He doesn't want the company of this perfect, happy family; they're not his after all. He'd rather go back to the castle; he'll live his own life and let his father live his. It will be better that way, he tells himself – but why does his heart ache so much at the mere thought of it?

Albus and Scorpius are on the edge of the Forbidden Forest. Albus had grabbed hold of Scorpius while he was on his way to the library to do some work, insisting that he come with him. It is cold and it is dark and it is snowing, so Scorpius hadn't wanted to leave the castle, but Albus had forced him to, which was why they were sitting here in the snow with only a small jar of flames to keep them warm.

"It's cold, isn't it?" Albus says at last.

Scorpius glares at him, wanting to ask if being a Hufflepuff for all these years has finally addled his brain, but he doesn't say anything.

"I know you think I'm mad for dragging you out here, but I have something for you," Albus says. He pulls a small bottle out of his pocket and enlarges it.

"Firewhisky?" Scorpius asks. "How did you get this?"

"That would be telling," Albus replies with a smirk that makes him look remarkably like Slytherin. "Just be grateful; I got it to keep us warm." He takes off the cap and takes a swig of it before handing it to Scorpius.

"Are you sure we're not going to get caught?" Scorpius asks, frowning and staring at the bottle a little uneasily.

"Of course not," Albus replies. "James and Freddie to this all the time and they've never been caught."

Scorpius reasons that if a pair of loudmouthed Gryffindors like James Potter and Freddie Weasley can get away with this, so will he and Albus. He takes a swig of the firewhisky, trying not to choke as it scorches his throat on the way down. But Albus is right; it is very warming.

"Do you think we should conjure some glasses?" Scorpius asks and Albus laughs.

"We don't need to bother with glasses," he replies. "Just drink. You need it, I can tell."

Scorpius flinches; he's really so obvious that a Hufflepuff can tell he's depressed? That's not good – no matter that said Hufflepuff is Albus Severus Potter.

"What's up, mate?" Albus asks as Scorpius gulps down more firewhisky in an attempt to calm himself; he's not supposed to be so see-through, not supposed to be so obvious.

But the firewhisky already seems to have loosened his tongue, as Scorpius finds himself saying, "It's my father. He took me back to his home with him last weekend, introduced me to his wife and their children and told me that they're having another baby. Not that that's got anything to do with me."

Albus raises an eyebrow. "You have siblings?"

"No," Scorpius replies immediately, automatically drinking even more of the burning liquid in an attempt to stop thinking about how much it's hurting him to say this. "I mean yes… but no. Because even if they are technically my brother and sister, I don't count them as any relation to me. I don't even count him as any relation to me!"

Albus looks shocked and Scorpius begins to realise that even Albus knows almost nothing about his situation. Only the old pureblood families really know about it – or remember it, for that matter.

He explains to Albus how his mother left when he was seven and how he's only seen her once since – just before he left for Hogwarts. He tells Albus how his father was having an affair and that's why his mother left (though he was too young to understand that at the time), and how his father has a new, perfect family in which Scorpius has no place. He tells Albus how he's lived with his grandparents all this time and how even they are too wrapped up in their lives to care.

"They've never loved me, none of them. That's the problem, though, isn't it?" Scorpius finds himself howling, falling into a rage as the firewhisky seeps into his blood. "That's just the damn problem. They've never loved me at all, none of them. And they all thought I was too stupid to realise!"

He slams the bottle onto the floor next to him. It shatters, fragments of glass flying everywhere and the remainder of the alcohol running away into the snow.

He doesn't have time to reflect on what a waste of alcohol that is because Albus says, "If they don't love you then they really are fools." And then he is kissing him and Scorpius doesn't quite know what to do. He can barely register what's happening before Albus breaks away and looks at him, smiling.

"You prat," Albus laughs at him eventually, breaking the momentary silence that had descended between the two. Scorpius feels his heat flushing red with anger.

"You were the one who just…"

"I don't mean that!" he says, still laughing. "I meant you're a total prat for wasting that firewhisky – we could have drunk that."

Then Albus is kissing him again and Scorpius is trying not to laugh. Perhaps he shouldn't have wasted the firewhisky after all.

It is February and Scorpius is with his father again. It feels so odd to be with him after only a couple of months have elapsed, but the new baby has been born and his father is adamant that Scorpius' meet his youngest brother.

As they walk the short distance from the apparation point to his father's house, Scorpius wonders how his father would react if he knew about him and Albus… indeed, how he would react if he knew about Albus at all. A Slytherin and a Hufflepuff was bad enough, a Malfoy and a Potter even worse, but the fact that both of them are male: Scorpius decides not to think about it anymore. He doesn't want to so much as imagine his father's reaction.

He leads him into one of the upstairs rooms where Pansy is lying in a large bed covered in Slytherin green and silver hangings. She has a tiny baby in her arms – this child also has his father's eyes (his father's eyes, his grandfather's eyes, his eyes– Malfoy eyes).

"Your brother," his father says. "Orion Lucius Malfoy."

Scorpius realises now that his father has named the girl and the youngest boy after his mother and father and he wonders whether his father still loves his grandparents despite the fact that they haven't spoken in almost a decade now.

But then he sees the picture-perfect scene in front of him and realises that his father only loves this second family of his. He does not love his parents, he did not love his first wife, and he does not love Scorpius either. Scorpius was the product of a marriage of convenience: these children are the product of a truly happy union. He can see it in their eyes. It is almost enough to make him physically sick.

He leaves, deciding that he would be perfectly happy never to set eyes on his father again.

Scorpius goes down when he gets into the castle – but not to the cold, unwelcoming, heartless prison of Slytherin. No, not there: because if he does they will quietly taunt him about having been rejected again. He'll never tell, but Slytherins have their way of knowing things, and any gossip known by Slytherins will likely reach the rest of the castle within the week. No, he doesn't want that.

Most importantly, though, he doesn't want to go to Slytherin because it will remind him of what he has just fled from. It will remind him of his father and his family… no, not his father. Never father now. Just Draco. Only Draco. He has been no father to him.

Scorpius continues going down – not to the cold, unwelcoming, heartless prison of Slytherin but to the warm, welcoming, comforting home of Hufflepuff. He knows the password to speak upon reaching the still life painting that leads to the Hufflepuff common room; he always knows it because Albus tells him in case of emergencies like this one.

He says the password and the portrait opens, leading him along a short passageway into the warm, golden glow of the Hufflepuff quarters with their comfortable yellow chairs and rounded doors. There are no sharp angles here: everything is soft. It is the exact opposite to Slytherin.

A couple of people look up when he enters, but upon realising who it is they turn away again. He is always welcome here in Hufflepuff; Albus made sure of that years' ago.

He turns down another corridor, then another, then another until he finally reaches the fifth year boys' dormitory. Albus is asleep in the bed in the far corner. Scorpius walks across the room quietly so as not to wake anyone and climbs into bed beside Albus. He curls up next to the other boy and soon feels his eyes stinging and tears running down his cheeks. It is an unfamiliar sensation, one that Scorpius tries to avoid at all costs: it makes him feel weak: it makes him feel physically ill. Malfoys are not supposed to cry.

Albus doesn't say any of the harsh things Scorpius usually expects to hear when he lets his guard drop like this. Instead he pulls Scorpius closer to him, stroking his long, flaxen hair until he calms down a little. He doesn't ask what's wrong; he knew about Scorpius' little trip to see Draco (yes, he mentally spits, I will not do you the honour of calling you father when you are no father to me) and so he can easily guess what has happened.

Scorpius thinks again about the image of the perfect family – of Draco and Pansy, the young children and the newborn baby boy. They are happy, they are perfect, and Scorpius has no place there.

He holds on tightly to Albus and chokes out, "Don't leave me. Please."

"I'm not going to leave you, you know," Albus says, a smile on his lips. "I'm never going to leave you."

At first Scorpius doesn't believe him; everyone else he has loved has left him in the end, after all. But then he remembers that everyone else who was close to him – and who left him were Slytherins, but Albus is not. Slytherins have no sense of loyalty, but Albus is a Hufflepuff. Albus is brave and intelligent and kind, but above all he is loyal.

Scorpius cries himself to sleep for the first time since just after his mother left. He falls asleep in Albus' arms, and when he wakes up there the next morning he doesn't want to move.

It is the summer between his fifth and sixth years at Hogwarts and Scorpius has spent most of it writing to Albus. He can't stand to be away from the other boy now, but he knows that there's no way for them to actually see each other and so he contents himself with writing. One letter a day, two, three, four… he loses count.

His grandfather notices though. Scorpius isn't surprised (the same owls coming to the house day in, day out would be hard for even a Gryffindor to miss) but he is still caught off-guard when his grandfather asks him about it one day over breakfast.

"This mysterious person you seem to be continually writing to," Grandfather Lucius says, looking up from his newspaper. "I trust she's a pureblood."

Scorpius feels the blood rushing to his cheeks. "Yes, grandfather. Of course he's a pureblood." He realises the slip of his tongue and reddens even more.

His grandfather simply raises an eyebrow before turning his attention back to his newspaper.

They can't look each other in the eye for weeks after that.

His grandfather knows now that he is involved with another boy, and evidently his grandmother does too, though neither of them say anything about it. He supposes that they don't really mind too much because their family line is extant regardless of Scorpius' choices. He shudders when he thinks about what would have happened had he been the only Malfoy heir – no; it doesn't bare thinking about.

They get through the remainder of the summer without any problems, but Scorpius does not want to go back to Malfoy Manor for the Christmas holidays. He tells Albus this and is told the next day that he's going home with Albus and is going to meet the rest of his family.

It feels slightly odd when they arrive at Albus' parents' home in Godric's Hollow. Scorpius dithers in the doorway until James pushes him inside.

"It's bloody freezing out there," James says to him. "If I hadn't made you get a move on you would have turned yourself – and all of us to ice just by waiting around like that."

Albus glares at his brother and leads Scorpius into the living room. Scorpius notes that it is just as warm and bright as the Hufflepuff common room, except that the furnishings are now red instead of yellow.

Scorpius catches sight of flaming red hair on a nearby chair and realises that Lily got in before them. Lily Potter is a fourth year and a Ravenclaw; he sees her at their study group sometimes, but other than that he really doesn't know her well.

Albus sits down on the sofa opposite his parents and motions for Scorpius to sit next to him. Scorpius sits, feeling rather tense, and then James breaks the silence.

"You're both looking awfully bloody happy considering the fact that your youngest son's just brought his boyfriend home to meet the family," James snickers. Mrs. Potter glares at him.

"Of course we are, James. We're happy that your brother is happy; maybe you should try that sometime."

James rolls his eyes and skulks off into the kitchen. Scorpius stares at Mrs. Potter in shock.

"You didn't think we knew, did you, dear?" she asks. "Don't worry; we've known about the two of you for quite some time now."

"Although we did think that it was another one of James' jokes when he first told us," Mr. Potter added. "It was a bit of a surprise when Albus wrote and told us that James wasn't kidding… not a bad surprise, though," he added hastily at a warning look from his wife. "Do your parents, erm, know about this?"

"Of course they bloody don't," Albus snaps rather uncharacteristically. "Scorpius doesn't see his parents, remember? I told you before."

Mr. Potter raises an eyebrow as though surprised. Evidently he hadn't quite believed Albus when he told him.

Scorpius nods, "He's telling the truth, Mr. Potter. I haven't seen my father since February, and I haven't seen my mother since I was eleven." He catches sight of pity in the man's eyes and hastily adds, "It doesn't bother me though. I mean, I'm used to it, that's all."

There is an awkward silence then Mrs. Potter says, "You do know that you're welcome to come and stay with us anytime you want?"

Scorpius nods his thanks, completely confused. He doesn't understand how, when his own family is so broken, other people's families can be so happy – and so welcoming. He always thought that the world never worked that way, but now he knows it's only him.

And then Albus squeezes his hand and he realises that he's not alone. No, he will never be alone again.

Now Scorpius is seventeen and in his final year at Hogwarts. He hasn't seen his parents in a long time now, but he doesn't think he would be able to cope with anything else. His mother has her own life to live and his father has his new, perfect family with his new son and daughter. They have lives in which Scorpius will play no part – by his own choice, not just by theirs.

He does not need mother and her instabilities, and nor does he need to become part of his father's perfect new family.

He is seventeen now, an adult, and more than capable of supporting himself, and he still has his grandparents to fall back on if ever he needs their help.

Most importantly he has Albus now, and through Albus he has become part of something far bigger than himself – he has become part of a real family. He has Albus and Scorpius knows that, unlike everyone else in his life so far, Albus will never, ever leave him: because Albus is a Hufflepuff and Hufflepuffs are loyal, and Scorpius hopes and prays that even though he is a Slytherin, he will be able to be just as loyal as a Hufflepuff.

But most importantly of all, he thinks, he has proved that no matter what his life has been like so far, he is not a fragmented and broken like his father or his mother. No, he is Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy, and now he is certain that he will never, ever turn out like they did.