Title: "Burnt Grounds"
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairing: Albus Severus Potter / Scorpius Malfoy
Timeline: Next Generation, 6th year at Hogwarts
Wordcount: ~28,000 overall
Warnings: slash, swearing, some bits from the movie!verse.
Summary: Due to an incident in Potions class, Scorpius is temporarily blinded. He needs help with his studies while the teacher comes up with an antidote. Surprisingly, Albus volunteers to be his guide. It turns out that Albus also needs Scorpius's help with something.
Disclaimer: Whatever you recognize as JK Rowling's is hers. This was written for lots of fun and no profit at all!
A/N: I have never been closely acquainted with a blind person, and anything coming off wrong to those of you who have- no mockery or offense intended.
This was written for a slashfest 2010 prompt and popped my AS/S cherry ;) I loved writing this, and I hope you enjoy reading it.
A million thanks to my great betas danikos_realms and kristan1.
I'd appreciate it immensely if you took the time to leave feedback! Always looking to improve :) Thanks for stopping by.
"Hellfire, Horace? You let them brew Hellfire?"
Horace Slughorn squirmed. "They are sixth-years. Severus trusted them with way har—"
"This isn't about anything Severus scheduled! We have—this—" Minerva McGonagall lost her voice for a bit and turned for help. "How is he?"
Madam Pomfrey nodded curtly in recognition. "Conscious. I gave him a calming draught, he's asleep n—"
"Not that." McGonagall's face was stony.
"Ah, yes." The word was at odds with Madam Pomfrey shaking her head. "Irreversible, as I feared—at least by what I can offer."
McGonagall closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Just when it looked like she wouldn't be returning to the surface of the hospital wing anymore, she glared at her Potions teacher. "You will certainly be able to come up with an antidote, won't you, Horace?"
"Excellent." McGonagall turned back to Madam Pomfrey. "Please keep two eyes on him, and inform me as soon as you notice any change."
"Of course," Madam Pomfrey echoed.
"Oh, my. Oh, dear," murmured the Headmistress. "His father is going to rip off our heads."
"My head," Slughorn volunteered.
"Right you are, Horace. Your head."
Slughorn appeared to be highly uncomfortable in his own skin, and he tried to subtly wipe the sweat from his brow. Damn his students and their inability of handling pomegranate juice! Every third-year should know that the fruit had to be boiled before it could be cut, as its liquids were highly poisonous. He thought the instructions had been clear—he had even put hope in the class! They were usually his best, and Scorpius Malfoy one of his brightest students.
"Horace," McGonagall addressed him again, her expression milder now. "I trust that you will find something to cure him."
Slughorn nodded vigorously. "There's certainly something I can do. I need more time, though—"
"You can have more time." The Headmistress half-turned to the open door behind which their most recent patient slept the blissful slumber of the ignorant. "Yet we need to figure something out for him."
When the three of them shared a moment of silence, a voice drifted weakly from the other room.
"What—what's going on?"
Teachers bustling about was usually a bad sign, and it never failed to draw the entire school's attention.
When Professor Slughorn had burst into the Transfiguration class earlier, and Professor McGonagall had hurried from the room with him, it hadn't caused any more worries than their latest unmanageable assignment. She was, after all, Headmistress.
Only when she hadn't returned by the end of the class, and the students headed down for lunch, the flurry became apparent. Albus was scanning the corridor for the source of the commotion when Rose came running up to him.
"Al!" she yelled to get his attention, then lowered her voice as soon as she stood in front of him.
"What's going on? What's everyone doing here?"
"Potions class was dismissed, too. There has been an accident . . . I'm not sure what happened." She was gesturing wildly, as if trying to fill information gap with arm movements. "No one's told us anything, but it looked a lot like Lysander and Malfoy were involved."
Albus rolled his eyes. "Sure, the bookworms."
"Don't be like that, it could be serious."
"Well, I wouldn't know, would I?" Absentmindedly, Albus let his gaze drift across the corridor, trying to spy someone he could pry information from. He hated being ignorant about whatever it was that was going on. As if on cue, McGonagall spoke up.
"Everyone go back to their classes—or their dorms—or wherever—Just don't crowd the corridors! And no, we're not passing on any information yet, so you may as well stop trying."
Accompanied by low and not-so-low murmurs, the students retreated in various directions, and Rose and Albus headed towards the Great Hall. The different Houses still had their own common rooms, but at the tables in the Great Hall, House unity was being celebrated more than ever: no one really bothered to maintain one certain seat throughout the entire year.
"So," Albus asked, "what happened in that misfortunate Potions class?"
Rose marvelled at the appearance of coffee and juice on the table in front of them, before she answered.
"Well, I was at the other side of the room, so I didn't really see. Slughorn let us brew Hellfire—and please don't ask me what possessed him. It must be the Slytherin inspiration, really: whenever we have classes with the other Houses, he thinks of something crazy. 'You are sixth years, I'm sure I can trust you with this.'" Her imitation of Slughorn's enthusiastic voice was so good, Albus couldn't help but to laugh. Then, he put up a stern look.
"You know that you keep offending my House, right?"
"Yes, on purpose." She grinned. "Anyway, we were preparing the ingredients and it must have been fifteen minutes, or so, until something happened." A frown appeared on her forehead. "The creepy part was that there was no noise—no explosion or screaming or anything. Suddenly, people were gathering at the other end of the room, and then someone called for Slughorn. He hadn't even noticed until then."
"What a surprise." Albus rolled his eyes again. As soon as he could drop subjects, Potions was on that list. Not only had he inherited his father's disgraceful skills, but he found it hard to respect Horace Slughorn as a teacher. The man simply wasn't an impressive figure to him, and judging by the way his fellow Slytherins kept praising legendary Severus Snape, not to them either. "And then? Come on, Rose—you must have seen something!"
She almost pouted. "I told you, everyone was standing around! Not a thing to see. Slughorn was doing some obscure murmuring, and then he sent us out. Well, he kept Malfoy and Lysander there." Rose nodded. "Come to think of it, Malfoy seemed a bit hysterical. But he tends to be all drama, so I didn't give it much thought."
Albus snorted, but decided not to comment on that. He knew Rose's opinion on everything Malfoy was biased from home, and he didn't want to fuel any fires.
"Well," he concluded, "they'll have to let us in on it if something did happen. It's not like anyone gets locked away in the hospital wing without comment."
Rose gaped. "Hospital wing? How do you know?"
"We all end up there at one point." He paused. "Besides, I saw McGonagall and Slughorn go in earlier. They didn't look happy."
No gathering requested by the staff would be as well attended as one satisfying the students' need for gossip. As soon as the notification for a meeting at 5pm, exclusively for sixth-years, had spread, Albus found himself surprisingly curious. Sticking one's nose into other people's business was more of a Gryffindor trait, of course, but Rose and his parents had to have rubbed off somewhere.
Albus had expected a lot of things, but not what he was about to hear. The Headmistress told them that an accident in Slughorn's Potions class had damaged Scorpius Malfoy's eyesight and that, until an antidote was found, he'd be in the need of a study partner to help him keep up with his classes. She asked the sixth-years from all Houses to consider whether they'd be up to the task, and give notice in her office as soon as possible.
It was almost absurd enough to laugh, really. Growing up with magic had certainly led to one of Albus's strongest beliefs: in the wizarding world, anything was possible. You couldn't wake the dead, which seemed to be the rub in every reality, but, other than that, there were spells, potions and antidotes to turn life upside down. Why didn't Slughorn have an antidote ready in the first place? This was a school! He had to be prepared for an incident like this.
Albus had been wandering the Slytherin dungeons for Merlin knew how long when he decided fresh air was a good idea.
He loved the Astronomy Tower. While he couldn't be bothered with Trelawney's lessons, the concept Divination itself bore some fascination; and the place was just breathtakingly beautiful. It was anything but true that Slytherins enjoyed creeping around in the basement all the time. They liked the darkness, yes, but this was a different thing.
He crossed the castle and climbed the stairs in silence. Only when he had reached the top of the tower, he took a deep breath and exhaled noisily. The lake lay chill and peaceful, mirroring nothing but a starless sky.
Sometimes Albus marvelled at Hogwarts' recent history. He had of course heard many tales from the time his parents were students, and what they refused to tell him, he found in books. Unbelievable now that being sorted in a certain House had been such a stigma once. Of course, they still had their clichés and ongoing jokes about each other, but there was no malice—there was no rejection, and most importantly, no superiority. Purebloods and Muggle-borns were each their kind, but nothing more, and also nothing less. He knew that just like being a "Mudblood" had brought unnecessary troubles, being sorted into Slytherin had promised to be nothing pleasant.
Albus looked down at the water and placed his hands upon the railing—this was where the old Headmaster had died. The place was heavy with history, and pain, surrounded by an oppressive magical memory. Albus ran his fingers along the stony balustrade and a wave of tension, horror and fear washed over him. The man hadn't merely died here. He had struggled for his life before it was finally torn from him.
The books said Albus Dumbledore had chosen death in order to save the wizarding world, just like Harry Potter later had. There was the story of a disease killing the Headmaster from the inside, and how the potions master and ally of Dumbledore murdered him when the situation required it. Albus knew that he was named after both these men for a reason: their story was deeply woven together with his father's.
A soft breeze tangled itself in Albus's hair, and his thoughts strayed into different territory. The idea of volunteering as Scorpius's guide had been circling in his mind since McGonagall explained the incident, and not for altruistic reasons. He didn't waste time feeling guilty for his motivations—he was a Slytherin, after all—but listened to the plan his mind had come up with. Albus knew that Scorpius Malfoy was affiliated with an object of his own desire, and perhaps now was the time to get his hands on it.
However, the night had already progressed, and it wouldn't be of much use if he kept challenging it. Albus knew how to play his cards, and decided to climb back down to the Dungeons. He would be up early tomorrow.