AN: Thanks for the reviews! Go to EvanescentCrimson's profile and read the stories there. The events take place at the same time as in this story.

Disclaimer: Don't own any of the characters or anything even remotely related to the Harry Potter Franchise, except my own copies of the books and some merchandise.

Warnings: None in this chapter really, except homosexuality. If that offends you, you'd better stop reading like, now. There will be mature content in later chapters, maybe. I use profanities too, so consider yourself hereby warned.

La Substance Et La Matiere

Paris was, as always, beautiful. The little cafés on the cobblestone streets; the Seine river that flowed through the city; and of course the majestic Eiffel Tower that stood as a focal point in the distance from just about anywhere…

Teddy loved it. His trip with Louis so far had been nothing short of breathtaking. They'd seen all the sights and been to all the places they could think of. They'd spent three days at the Disneyland resort, going on all the rides and eating delicious foods. They'd even visited the French Ministère de Magie. It too was stunning; not unlike Notre Dame Cathedral in its architectural style. As two young English males, they'd not been treated too amicably by the locals, but it wasn't unpleasant.

And the whole point of their trip was to visit Monsieur and Madame Delacour, Louis's maternal grandparents. They were a lovely couple and they treated their grandson and guest with much hospitability.

The pair still had a week left of their holiday, and planned on making the most of it. They had plans to go for a picnic in the countryside, seeing as it was Christmas day and the weather was agreeable, considering it was the middle of winter. At least it wasn't snowing.

But before they could embark on their day's journey, Teddy and Louis had owls to send to their families and friends to wish them a merry Christmas. Teddy actually missed his cousin (of sorts) Scorpius and his god-brother Albus quite a lot, but not enough to not enjoy their vacation.

The two sat upon their picnic blanket, chatting amiably and snacking upon baguettes and croissants. They'd really become close over the past few weeks since Louis had resurfaced in the lives of the Potters, Weasleys, and in this case, the Lupin that was now his best friend. They had gone to school together as Louis was only two years younger than Teddy.

When the talk of unimportant things had subsided, they fell into a comfortable, easy silence for a while, which Teddy finally broke by bringing up a topic they'd been avoiding. Or at least, he tried to. He didn't quite know how to articulate what he was feeling. It was, after all, quite an awkward situation, considering that he had dated Louis's sister.

"Lou… " Teddy started.

"Ted" Louis replied with a smile, lazing back on the blanket, resting his head on his arms.

"Uh… "

"Yes Ted?"

"Er…"

"What?" Louis turned so that he was resting on his side in order to look Teddy in the eye.

Teddy sighed. "I… kind of… Don't you think…? Shit". He was really not being very clear, and he was painfully aware of it. He sounded like an idiot, even to himself.

"Dude. Breathe. You know you can tell me anything. Just say it" the Weasley said with a reassuring smile. He reached for his pack of cigarettes and took one out.

"Yeah I know" Teddy replied, a tad irritated. "It's just that-" he stopped abruptly in midsentence.

"Teddy! Stop it" Louis moaned. He was about to protest further when he was cut off by a pair of soft, juicy lips connecting to his own. He was caught off guard, but it took only a moment to register what was happening, and another moment for him to respond. And respond he did, with fervor. His unlit cigarette lay forgotten in his hand.

After a couple of minutes of rolling around and kissing enthusiastically, the young men parted for breath. Then there was an uncomfortable silence.

It was Louis's turn to stutter. "Er…"

"I'm sorry" Teddy said quickly.

Louis straightened himself out, moving to a cross-legged position. "Are you really?" he asked quietly.

"Look, I…" Teddy wasn't sorry. In fact, he wanted to do it again. However, judging by his companion's expression, that wouldn't be prudent at that exact moment.

"Ted, I like girls, mate"

"So do I, man. Or so I thought" Teddy frowned. He really had thought he was perfectly straight, until he'd started to fall in love. With a boy.

Louis relocated and lit up his abandoned smoke, inhaling deeply, as if the nicotine could make his thoughts coherent. "But I also like you" he finally admitted.

"I dated your sister" Teddy stated awkwardly.

"That does complicate things"

"Yeah"

Teddy and Louis stopped talking for a while and ate some more food. By the end of the afternoon, they were making out again.

*

In another part of Europe, two other boys were doing pretty much the same thing, but without the croissants and French countryside. Albus and Scorpius were at Malfoy Manor, having just endured a boring family Christmas lunch with all of the Malfoys.

The lunch in question had not been cooked by Narcissa Malfoy, contrary to popular belief. Lucius had saved them all the medical bills by replacing his wife's creation with some store-bought, high-quality cuisine. Narcissa was not impressed, but said nothing out of pride. She could hardly blame the man.

Albus and Scorpius collectively felt happier that day than they'd both been individually in weeks. They were once again depending on substance to fuel their passion for life, but not for each other. That came naturally.

The new recreational potion of Scorpius's was as-of-yet unnamed. Its effects were similar to that of Asphixus, except it was not quite as potent. But just as addictive. Basically it warped their perception of time, so that everything seemed slower and clearer. And their subconscious was totally inaccessible so that they could only think about the present while under its influence.

They spent the rest of Christmas day snuggling under the warm blankets, safe from the harsh and bitter cold of the winter that raged outside. Alas, eventually it was time for Albus to return home. At least for a little while to pick up some clothing so that he could stay at Malfoy Manor for a couple of days.

As it turned out, Draco actually did want to go to Louisiana on vacation with Lucien and his parents, and so it was decided that Scorpius would be staying at Potter place until the beginning of term. So Albus wasn't so far off the mark.

Once everything was arranged, Draco delivered the teenagers back to Harry. He once again took the opportunity to converse with his ex-lover, as the chances to do so were becoming increasingly scarce.

They didn't really have much to say to each other; Draco was just glad they were on speaking terms again. He'd been through an ordeal with the ministry, having had to face the consequences of performing magic in front of several Muggles, as well as physically assaulting (with intent to cause grievous bodily harm) one of said Muggles. He was exhausted, which was why he needed a holiday in the first place. And not that he didn't love the boy, but he needed a break from Scorpius and his odd habits too.

Albus wasn't particularly pleased to be back home, which after his experiences of the past weeks, had become a place of suffering. But then again, years and years of happy memories and good times could not be overshadowed by a few weeks of torment, no matter how painful they were. He did like being around Lily. She was, after all, the only one in the house who really knew the source of his depression.

Lily had experimented with Asphixus on occasion back at Hogwarts, but like the mature young lady she was growing up to be, she'd gotten out before she was in too deep. If only her brother had been as responsible.

The day – Christmas day – was finally drawing to a close, and the two young lovers fell asleep in each others' arms. Albus finally thought that things, and he himself, might be okay.

Far away, on the other side of the English Channel, Teddy and Louis were again doing the same thing.

*

The headline of the Daily Prophet on the 26th of December was one that caught the attention of all the students of Hogwarts, as well as the Potters, Weasleys, etc. '***'. The article described how the school had been broken into on Christmas Eve and the Great Hall had been partially destroyed by the intruders. The part that had most relevance, however, to the Potters and Weasleys was that George Weasley was officially missing.

Molly, Arthur, the rest of the Weasleys including Fred Junior and Roxanne (and even Helen) were all freaking out. Their son/brother/father/ex-husband was AWOL, and this was naturally a cause for panic.

Harry, being head of the Auror department, had to go in to work immediately to get on the case. He was required to give a public statement that the Ministry would be doing their absolute best to recover George Weasley and solve the mystery of the business with Hogwarts. It wasn't just a simple case of a missing person, as George was a Hogwarts teacher. Muggle-haters were prime suspects as his kidnapper, as George was meant to be taking over the Muggle Studies class as of the next school year.

George was Albus's favourite uncle, and so he was concerned about the man's disappearance. But he had Scorpius as well as the new drug to distract him. In fact, the two boys spent the morning coming up with a name for the potion. Eventually they agreed upon Candidus Potion (as it made one candid and removed underlying thought).

They spent the rest of their holiday playing quidditch in the yard when the cold wasn't too unbearable. Harry was working very hard at the Ministry and wasn't around at home much. Ginny popped in every so often to check on the kids. James had begun studying for his NEWTs (already) and Lily mostly hung out with Rose, Hugo, and Dominique, who collectively spent some time with Albus and Scorpius every now and then.

Fred Junior had to be informed telephonically by his mother that his father was missing. He was still away, studying, at a Muggle university. Victoire was doing an internship at a magical hospital in Ireland.

All in all, it was quite an eventful Christmas that year, and although from the outside the Potter home seemed perfect, inside… it was in pandemonium.