A/N: Merry Christmas everybody! Hope you enjoy~


Chapter 6: "Throwing Stones in Glass Castles"

When Scorpius lay his head down in the Slytherin dorm at Hogwarts, he was expecting to be returned to a place of contentment away from filial responsibilities. With Albus hiding his head under Scorpius arm and a level of thick blankets, a nose pressed under his armpit, totally cocooned from the world, everything should've been alright. Instead Scorpius found himself filled with a terrible, skull crushing, agony.

There was a metaphorical chisel beaked woodpecker giving him a lobotomy.

His mind was so full suddenly, he was certain his head was going to bust open like an overripe fruit and spill across the newly laundered pillows. He could see on the back of his eyelids, which were wired shut, burning images that spanned a lifetime and compared to his other casual dreams this was something of an entirely different level, an entirely different feel, and it hurt.

He had vivid lightning-like images flash in rapid progression, like the click-click of a camera shutter, over and over. He could see himself at thirty, forty, fifty…his Grandfather's hair, his Father's face, their suits with no scrap of defining separation from their identities till he or any idea of Scorpius Malfoy were simply consumed by the overriding idea of 'Malfoy'. He could see a woman very much like his mother, cold and manicured, sipping her tea with a dismissive glance. He could see that woman age, never changing, ever thicker makeup and little cries and moans to a procession of other men. He could see a boy the spitting image of himself entirely uninterested in Scorpius, his attention or affection, independent and distant.

He could see Albus, taller and impossibly slimmer, hunched, curled inward holding his knees to his clavicle. Albus threw his head back and the impact with the wall behind it must've been painful but he seemed entirely unaffected. His face felt despairingly blank and Scorpius could find none of the same playful twinkling in his eyes he was so renowned for. Scorpius could perceive in uncomfortable jerks of his head the sparse white room, the hospital cot, the limp cheap style of Albus' garments and it came crashing down on him the exact nature of this hopelessness.

He felt strange, chest squeezed vice-like, till he feared he may hyperventilate.

Then by some unseen force Scorpius was slapped and shoved into a new vision. He could see waves of people shuffling in and out of the Ministry. There was a sense of being more than a socialite, of being important, of being needed, of being chased rather than chasing social connections. His name, his choices, his face emblazed and immortalized as unique. No wife, no son and no bloody suit. He felt not only central to his life but to his world, the world, and completely at ease to make his decisions how he saw fit.

Albus then, filling his vision, arms tight round his neck and his weight heavy against Scorpius' body in a way incredibly real and present. He was in a flurry, wilder, wrapped in the finest: jacketed with a deep green pinstripe, an emerald dangling sneakily from one ear behind the veil of his hair, perfect silver buttons brushing Scorpius' clavicle, three iridescent green-blue peacock feathers bunched and hanging from his hip. He was smiling, not beaming, but that tight, tiny little look of a much deeper shared understanding passing between them, his eyes incredibly bright. There was freedom, security and confidence in his stance and manner that soothed part of the burn still ripping raw at the inside of Scorpius' skull.

The image stalled, like a break in an old film reel, crackling interference droning through his eardrums in an entirely unnatural manner. Through the din clamoring around him, Scorpius heard a voice not like the dream assaulting him, but cutting through it from some darker buried spot within himself:

For the Greater Good!

The flicker was gone as quickly as it came and with the whooshing sound of a crashing wave, he was shuffled back within the painful vision, squeezing him in an iron grasp. Albus, the Ministry, his family, Muggles… piled one on top of the other harshly, vivid, juxtaposing the conflicting glances of Albus in a way entirely too confronting.

His chest felt crushed to bursting, heart pounding, until the pressure vanished and the dream with it and throwing his eyes open into the darkness he gasped desperately at the air. Head tossing, lips parted wide, strands of bleach-blonde hair sticking to his gaunt cheeks, he felt his hands fumble through the blankets to forage for Albus. Finding his pliant form Scorpius shuffled himself onto his side, long arms fixing round the other boy and grasping him close. Scorpius buried his face into Albus' hair, hearing him moan and murmur subconsciously at the rough jostling, letting the other's legs flex against his own as he attempted to return to a comfortable spot in Scorpius' grip. He didn't stir any further, but let himself be lulled by Albus' deep breathing, the taller boy eventually nodded off once more.

-3-6-9-

As Scorpius returned to the world of the living, in a world far away, Voldemort slumped against the black mirror. Pulling his misshapen green fingers free from their holds, black inky tendrils clinging and stretching off the glass, his Harry helped him back into the tight embrace of a carved arm chair. Harry arranged himself beside him. Expectantly his hands tangling round Voldemort's nearest palm, pressing his lips to the lightly enflamed digits reverently. Pulling his hand free, the Dark Lord ran his long, bony, digits through the younger man's thick hair, tilting a pronounced jaw towards the third member of their party.

"Did it work?" Harry whispered, ignoring Snape's looming presence beyond Voldemort's face.

"Perhaps," he replied, palm settling against the back of Harry's neck, the nail of his thumb tracing along the slender column of the artery. "Severus?"

"Legilimency is more effective when the target is off-guard. Relaxed. Vulnerable." He stated carefully, textbook-like in his tone, stressing the syllables of the final word before continuing, "although distance is a factor, and there is little way of observing the effects, given the mirror's counterpart obscures our reconnaissance."

"You have no way of knowing then," Harry began sourly, "so you're telling me you're effectively useless."

"I am informing you that, given we are dealing with an alternate dimension, there is no way of knowing." It was a well disguised snap, and as respectful as Snape could attempt to project. "His Lordship is, however, the greatest Legilimens currently living. So, if such a thing is possible, our chances are promising."

"We'll see," Voldemort murmured to Harry tilting his chin between his sickly green forefinger and thumb. "I felt his mind. You'll be capable of observing any alteration in his manner. The suggestion is there."

-3-6-9-

"Scorpius?"

He stirred but, identifying the speaker as none other than Nicholas, buried his face back into Albus' hair with a distinguished huff.

"I don't mean to bother you Scorpius, but you're going to be late," Nicholas whimpered tugging at the shoulder of his shirt gently.

"I'd be careful Catchlove," Zabini jeered slumped against his mattress as he tugged his boots up his calves, "I've seen him gobble people up for less. You ever meet Glenda Crockford?"

"No…?"

"Now you know why."

"Scorpius? Al?" Geoffrey attempted, throwing his arm about Nicholas' shoulders. "We've got class soon. You better get up. Are you sick?"

Groaning, Scorpius forced himself up onto his elbows, hair curtaining his face and framing Albus' beneath him. He paused, watching as the other boy attempted to pry his eyelids open, blinking blearily up to the blonde. Freeing his arms from between Scorpius' bookending elbows, Albus hooked his forearms round Scorpius' neck and pulled the blonde boy back down. Scorpius sighed, burying his face in Albus' neck, chest to chest. Coughing, Geoffrey shifted awkwardly on his feet.

"You definitely seem sick Scorpius," Nicholas supplied sympathetically, "I'll go se-"

Scorpius raised his head, glaring pointedly over his shoulder and dismally blew a strand of hair from his eye.

"…I'll go to class, very quietly, and leave you to your business."

"That's my boy! Save yourself mate," called Zabini to the first year, "it's the Slytherin thing to do!"

"Scorpius was fighting Shamans all night," Albus explained fancifully, "he slew a procession of dream monsters."

"So that's what happened to his extended family."

"I didn't think you dreamed Scorpius," Geoffrey quirked, perching himself on the edge of his mattress as he watched the two boys untangle themselves from the disheveled bedding and begin to dress.

"I don't think he does really," Albus supplied. "Scorpius' subconscious would find that a very ineffective use of time."

Scorpius himself felt rather sour this morning, which in itself was strange. He very rarely felt much beyond his dull inquisition of the world. Today however, lodged between exhaustion and insistent aching, his mood was resolutely foul. Albus took and diverted questions in their usual bantering-bicker as if sensing his discomfort.

"I think we've missed breakfast," Zabini groaned.

"You didn't have to stay here," Scorpius quipped laxly, pulling his tie taunt. "I would rather not have breakfast at all than see it twice in one morning."

"Wha?"

Geoffrey supplied subsequent gagging and retching motions in his own little explanatory role-play, stringing along a range of expressions from Zabini. Giggling, Albus ran the brush through his hair before handing it to Scorpius to begin his own long strokes.

"Your hair's getting very long."

"Is that a problem?" he drawled distantly.

"Not at all," Albus promised, "but much more and I'll have to cut it for you."

"My Grandmother would be distraught," Scorpius replied instinctively, voice fluctuating as he considered the statement tone ambling, from uncertain to gently resentful.

Albus appeared confused, blinking and shaking his head, cautiously gathered the brush from Scorpius' hand and took up the brushing himself. Xavier and Geoffrey continued their casual sass back and forth in the natural rhythm of the quartet's normal conversational tone. Scorpius found it grating on his nerves. Which was exceedingly peculiar because Scorpius did not have nerves.

-369-

Herbology, which Professor Longbottom honestly believed was critically important for their OWLS, was providing a double morning session between Slytherin and Gryffindor. Always a dreadful idea under any circumstance, and, chin clasped in the palm of his hand, Scorpius found himself slouching. Zabini and Bulstrode across the bench were obviously confused by the unfamiliar posture and beside him Albus had began to fidget, turning his fingers over themselves in his lap, all of which failed to acquire Scorpius' wandering attention.

Slipping his cheek to his palm, Scorpius allowed his fingertips to roll over his temple while Professor Longbottom attempted to lecture over a group of rowdy Gryffindors. The greenhouse was filled with argumentative jeering and shouting as Emily Smith, a very passionate Gryffindor, and fellow housemate Timothy Blane were caught playing footsy under the bench. The situation was inflamed as Belladonna Burrow and the ever foolish Angus Dorkins of Slytherin took it upon themselves to make several generalized comments concerning the nature of Gryffindor and the intimate relations of their mothers.

"I'd say the same about your mother," Timothy cawed, "but being a pureblood she was probably too busy with you last night Angus!"

"Oh big man," was the retaliatory hiss, "you lot'd sleep with anything that crawled out of the mud."

Patrick Mimsy, a Muggleborn boy sitting very close to Timothy, turned a beetroot shade of blue with fury and began swearing profusely at Dorkins.

"-You're all bastards! The lot of you!" he gestured across the benches inclusively: "Dorkins, Burrow, Clagg, Bulstrode, Zabini, Malfoy! All of you!"

"Steady boys," Xavier chuckled, raising his palms defensively. "We didn't hop on this wagon."

Albus' eye flashed at the accusation, gaze flickering to Scorpius for some response and then back to the still enraged Mimsy.

"Quiet down!"

Professor Longbottom very rarely raised his voice, unless he deemed it entirely necessary, and shocked into a stupor most of the brood settled to stare at their reasonably meek and good humored teacher. By this point, however, the situation had become considerably dire. Still unsatisfied in venting his frustrations, Patrick dug his hand into his pot and tossed a hand full of firm wet clay at Belladonna's blouse. She in turn was reduced to the pureblood philosophy of superiority many such children sprouted when they were rendered without anything else to say in crisis.

The greenhouse was filling very quickly with very unpleasant conversation, like poisonous fumes wafting to the ceiling. All of which Scorpius found himself effectively blocking from his tired mind with skillful selective hearing. Closing his eyes, he failed too to realize Albus was becoming considerably flustered waiting, perhaps, for Scorpius to some how aid in negating the tension or to defend his own reputation as it was slandered. Instead, Scorpius turned his nose up above the whole accursed affair, and too nervous to begin speaking in such a state Albus squeezed his fingers together.

"It's not a secret Slytherin's full of tossers," Timothy shrugged, glancing across the ferny tabletop to where Albus was fidgeting, "and traitors."

Albus stilled, lips parting, and speechless turned himself hopelessly to Scorpius who nodding off against his palm from exhaustion had missed the direction of the slight.

"Shove off!" Xavier attempted defensively, stumbling over his words, unable to restrain himself, but equally unskilled in deflecting the aggression smartly.

The arguing intensified as Xavier and supportive Bulstrode tried to take the matter upon themselves to solve, without the aid of their usual mediator who had all but fallen asleep. Burying his face in his forearms, Scorpius had begun to doze, swears falling over him like water down a duck's back. Albus took a deep breath, knees knocking and pressed his hands protectively over his scalp, fingers shaking.

Professor Longbottom's booming voice was drowned out by the clustering drone of buzzing bickering and fingers curling in his own hair Albus was facing a distinct difficulty in blocking either out. Hunched on his stool, Albus faded into irrelevance among the rabble until within the greenhouse, eclipsing both trails of the argument there was a high, painful, sound which made the ear drums of all involved ring. Blinking against the table, Scorpius found himself groaning at the thrum rattling the windows just as the pressure of the noise, or the force, caused the glass to shatter stupendously.

The students screamed, throwing their hands over their heads and ducking under the benches, nonsense thoroughly forgotten as glass rained down from all angles. Scorpius came to a startling awakening, arms over his head protectively, the immediate threat making it impossible to scan for Albus until the moment had already passed.

"Who did that?" Professor Longbottom was by now positively livid.

Scorpius raised his head cautiously, droplets of sparkling glass falling from his hair as he straightened his posture. Around him his fellow classmates began pulling themselves from their hiding spots one by one, surveying the utter destruction of the classroom. The window panes had been reduced to a fine crystalline gravel across the counter tops, spilling with a sound not dissimilar to coins. Scorpius swiveled on the high iron framed stool finding Albus still clutching his head in his pale hands.

"Albus?" he murmured, his voice inquisitive voice delicate.

The Potter moved, slowly, hands frozen aloft as he removed his face from their cradle. Eyes wide, fingers bleeding from a thousand paper cut like scratches, face desperately pale. Scorpius caught a very real glimmer of fear in his eyes. Shaking Albus released a pitiful exhale and held his gaze unwaveringly.

"Who's responsible for this?" Mister Longbottom repeated, tight lipped, and Scorpius found his glance exchanging between the Professor and his companion.

"I…" Albus whispered, raising one bleeding and quivering arm, "I think it was my fault…"

"Al?" the Professor seemed taken aback, stuttering reflexively, "Y-you…you better go to the hospital wing Alby."

-369-

Scorpius was ashamed, a very new expression within his vocabulary. He'd never regretted anything, but lingering at the Slytherin table during their subsequent morning break, he could not have been more disappointed in his performance. He'd let Albus down again. Compounded with the nature of his nightmare he felt…well, he felt. Which was strange to say the least.

"You brew any harder and the tea's going to surrender," Xavier grinned lightly.

"Albus will be fine," Geoffrey mumbled, as if to himself, as best he could portray that illusion at least. "Just a few scratches."

"He'll be great," Zabini clarified, plucking Geoffrey's cup to sip at the last of the other boy's tea. "I warned you it was only a matter of time before he threw off his mortal guise, and what happens? Superpowers, which means the prophecy is almost fulfilled and then Gryffindor's going to be sorry."

"What prophecy?" Geoffrey huffed.

"I don't know," he replied bluntly, "but there's always a prophecy."

Clattering across the cobbles, Nicholas emerged from the corridor to haul himself against their bench where the two squabbling boys sat encircling Scorpius. The first year blabbered, or attempted some kind of speech, much too quickly for his mouth to follow the instructions from his brain and fell into a stupor of stutters.

"Timmy can stay down the well," Scorpius sighed at his incoherency.

"Timothy Blane?" Geoffrey frowned.

"And now Nicholas is talking in tongues," Xavier tsked, shaking his head mournfully. "I told you so."

"No!" Nicholas gasped, planting both hands firmly on the hard oak surface of the table, porcelain cups rattling. "You have to listen to me! This is important!"

"Careful Nicky," Zabini soothed playfully, raising his hand. "Its okay, this is normal for girls your age, it's a healthy part of becoming a young woman."

"Shut it."

Xavier stared, jaw hanging slack and floundering, and gestured to Bulstrode.

"Did he just?" He asked mumbling, "I think he just-"

"Zip it or whip it," Nicholas ordered sharply, attention wavering as he redirected his fervor: "Scorpius, I overheard Rose and James talking near the fourth floor bathroom-"

"You sneaky little-"

"Do girls always talk this much?" He quipped to Bulstrode causing Xavier to clutch at his chest as if mortally wounded. "Anyway, look…" flustered he took a firm, deep, breath, before he attempted his spiel once more. "James said that Harry Potter is going to come and take Albus home! And I heard from Belladonna Burrow about what happened in Herbology and-"

"Belladonna told you?" Zabini cawed skeptically.

"No, she told Herbert Vaisey, but that's not the point!"

"How many people do you-"

"What if Mister Potter takes Albus back to Saint Mungo's because of this? I mean it sounds terribly serious and-and…" Nicholas appeared near the point of hyperventilation, "I thought you should know! Because you'll know what to do! And I'm very worried and w-we've got to do something right?"

Scorpius stood, much to the surprise of his fellow fifth years.

"Catchlove," he began evenly, "I want you to go back to the dormitories."

"B-but-but!"

"Get my broom and Albus' without anyone seeing you." He instructed. "You can do that, can't you?"

"He's a regular bloomin' super sleuth!" Xavier cried awed.

"Go with Bond then and keep you mouth shut," Scorpius snapped.

"Who?"

"Go."

They scampered out of view. Hauling his school bag over one pointed shoulder Scorpius was brought face to face with Geoffrey.

"What should I do?"

"Stay here and act normal."

"I'd really like to help somehow…" he tried with an exceedingly tentative voice, wringing his fingers, "please?"

"If you must," Scorpius groaned softly. "Stay here for a few minutes, then get up and try and keep people out of the hospital wing if you can. Don't make a git of yourself, alright?"

For the moment, he didn't have an exact plan, but with their brooms at least something could be done. Mind ticking over furiously, the strings of his tired mind strained to formulate some ingenious, or at least workable, solution to their problem. Thinking on his feet, with half a moment's notice, was not Scorpius' strong suit. He was logical and possessed plenty of common sense yes but this plan-as-you-go sort of disaster thinking was not for Malfoy men, it was for adventurers and heroes.

Still, whether he liked it or not, something had to be done. After Albus' unheard of incident at the Burrow over Christmas the Potters were more concerned about him than ever. Mister Potter had probably convinced himself it was some fault of his, something left over from the war gone astray in the blood, and this morning's flash of stupendous unconscious magic it would be all needed to panic Missus Potter. They'd never taken Albus to Mungo's during the school term for a number of reasons and the beginning of the term was often the only thing that got Albus out. If they broke that rule now it wouldn't matter how long they kept him there. What would it matter if he missed his exams, if he had already missed a few weeks of term, they'd no doubt console themselves. Albus couldn't take that and Scorpius couldn't survive the guilt.

-369-

Slipping into the hospital wing past the formidable force of Madame Pomfrey was, on occasion, as difficult as breaking into Azkaban. Perhaps because why anyone would want to sneak into such places was quite a mystery.

Scorpius was reduced to crawling, indecent and dirty though it was, because a gawky boy of his stature was not easily hidden. Palms accumulating lint and the heady smell of disinfectant from the tiles, he slipped behind a privacy curtain and under a cot. He listened, he paused, he crawled carefully from under one cot to the next, attempting to recall all of his many years of rule-breaking related sneaking. Normally he and Albus didn't move about forbidden areas during the day if they could help it, he'd certainly never done anything like this, though Scorpius had never played tag as a child either, so perhaps such a comparison was redundant.

He heard the brisk click-clacking of Madame Pomfrey's pointed shoes, the clattering slide of iron rings along the bars securing the privacy curtains between the cots, and then the decline of those little feet towards the great doors securing the hospital wing. Exhaling at the departure, he cast his eyes ahead of the little cave of the steel framed cot he was currently hidden beneath. Surveying he was certain he could see Albus' school bag slumped on the floor ahead. Inching his body into view, aware of any potential medical aids or house elves that assisted Madame Pomfrey and how little time he inevitably had, he crawled under the next two cots. In the corner closet to the window, the last cot in the line, as Scorpius head emerged from under the previous cot in the procession, he caught a much clearer view of Albus' bag. Raising his head saw that, sure enough, the littlest Potter boy was curled on the thin mattress his fine chin resting on his drawn up knees.

"Psst," he hissed, "Albus."

The boy's ears twitched and shifting his eyes meet Scorpius'.

"Oh thank Merlin," he whispered, "the Headmistress said she was going to owl Dad at the Ministry."

"I know," Scorpius muttered, "Nicholas found out for us."

"What're we going to do?"

"We're getting out of here," the older boy answered firmly, extending his hand, "let's go."

Glancing carefully about Albus scanned the room sliding from the side of the bed down onto the floor. He gripped at his school bag and threw it over his shoulder before disappearing under the iron frame with the taller blonde. They moved slowly, stopping and starting at the surrounding sounds, until they were close to the exit.

"We move to the right. That corridor is quieter."

"We can't hide in the school, can we?" Albus whispered, taken back at the sudden realization.

"I'm not sure. Nicholas and Zabini are getting our brooms," the Malfoy responded, "for the time being I've no plan of staying here in the open for too long."

"Where are we going to go?"

"I don't know," he admitted, his neck was beginning to ache from being pressed under the beds. "Do you have the hand mirror?"

"Yes," Albus seemed comforted by the fact, "and the snitch?"

"Never mind the snitch-"

"It's important Scorpius," he insisted desperately, "I don't know why, but it's important."

Groaning softly, the blonde pulled his bag down between his knees foraging through itscontents hurriedly. Albus sat, leaning forward onto the palms of his hands, watching as cursing lowly, Scorpius scrambled to find the little golden ball. Fingers carding the bottom of his bag, he recovered it, liberating his prize from the bag.

"Got it."

Albus exhaled deeply, satisfied, and, fingers running over the pearls hidden underneath his school shirt, refocused on their exit. Shoving the little golden ball back in his bag as they both return their respective belongings to their backs Scorpius' hand fumbled for Albus'. His were covered in thin gauze, thicker than usual for it, and threading their fingers together, the smaller boy squeezed his hand tightly.

"Scorpius-"

"It's alright," he promised, "you can tell me later."

Raising the edge of the bedding, they primed themselves and inhaling deep, Scorpius gave the instruction to dart through the door and down the paved corridor. Shoes pounding, thumping on the stone, Scorpius drove them to a quieter patch of the school where they were less likely to run into students or the Headmistress and Mister Potter. He was well aware they had little time before Albus was found to be missing, and there could be few conclusions drawn that did not include Scorpius' involvement, being they were so…inseparable.

Scorpius intended to keep it that way.

They moved briskly, but were forced to slow their pace, arms locking, in an attempt to appear more casual when it became impossible to avoid other students. Lips parted while they walked, Scorpius could very nearly hear Albus' pounding heart, or perhaps mistook it for his own. He expected to find Mister Potter around every corner, or the Headmistress, but wand drawn, they made their way anxiously up the stairwell to the second floor.

Nicholas seemed to understand their intentions and it was in a secluded niche between classes he, Zabini and Bulstrode met with them to pass off their brooms.

"What're you going to do?" Nicholas whispered as they hid crowded behind a worn tapestry.

"Go to class," Scorpius ordered dismissively, "if you're cornered about us, which I'm certain you will be, lie. Say we told you we were going to walk to Hogsmeade, or hide in the Forbidden Forest till dark, or fly off the Astronomy tower or something equally absurd. Let Zabini do the talking, he's good at that."

It was mounting thirty minutes since they had escaped the hospital wing and Scorpius was increasingly aware of the shortness of their time before staff actively started looking for them. There was fussing and a great deal of kicking at Zabini's knees when his voice became too loud until Scorpius was able to convince them to leave for potions.

-369-

Scorpius' actual plan comprised none of the above, of course, as they would all be disastrously foolish given the trace planted on all under aged wizards by the Ministry and logic. Instead, he and Albus had scurried to the seventh floor and hidden themselves within the Room of Requirement. It was a move he hoped, aided by the planted misinformation, would throw Mister Potter off for the time being. As they would be expected to flee the campus immediately, it was the last choice on his list of possible options for the time being. They were certainly not flying past the wards, tangling with giant spiders or, Merlin forbid, trying to mask themselves amongst the talkative villagers in Hogsmeade.

They were not exactly within the Room of Requirement Albus informed him, as they sat curled behind a wardrobe, rather the aptly named 'Room of Hidden Things' usually only accessible via the Room of Requirement. Frankly Scorpius considered there were far too many hidden rooms in Hogwarts to keep track of them all.

"So what next?" Albus prompted gently.

"We wait till its late I assume and then use the hand mirror to make our way to Riddle Manor. I'd think it would be masked with its own wards, but I'd rather not risk the dangers of daylight considering they're bound to be looking for us."

"You think so?"

"It's not everyday Harry Potter's child goes missing."

"Why did we take our brooms then?"

"Just in case," he shrugged, "I wasn't thinking terribly clearly, seemed wise enough, and I suppose that this way, if Catchlove and the others are driven to tell the truth, they'll honestly believe we've flown somewhere."

"We'll be in twice as much trouble now," the smaller boy sighed, leaning into Scorpius' side as if instinctively seeking warmth.

"Only if they find us."

Somewhere in the obscuring darkness of the room, filled and stacked high, a creature of some sort rustled and cried out in its cage as the taller boy sat quietly. Sighing, Scorpius considered the extremity of his actions but, giving the possible consequences, he didn't regret them.

"I'm…" Scorpius swallowed sourly. "I'm sorry for this morning. I should've been supporting you and then none of this would've happened."

Albus' fingers fumbled in the darkness, pulling Scorpius' hand between both his own, and into his lap, cold digits squeezing his palm tightly.

"You're only human Scorp."

"I never wanted friends," Scorpius admitted, quite unable to stop himself suddenly, a dull thrum pressing insistently at his temples inside his skull as he leant back into the cupboard. "I'm not much of a human being I suppose, I've never really picked up the skills, but I wouldn't have any clue at all what I am if you weren't here. I think, honestly, I'd be rather lost."

He felt Albus thumb run over the back of his hand, his cheek pressing into his shoulder.

"We'd both be," he whispered.

Long moments passed between ticks, shuffles, sighs, squawks and murmurs nearby and far off. Scorpius swore for a moment he could hear other students passing, footsteps through the stone ceiling and voices through the walls. He felt exposed, keen, waiting for someone to find them, he suspected. He mused he wasn't very good at being a fugitive: the hours were dreadful and the accommodation sub par.

"Do you think," Albus began after lapse, "that the Other Harry would help us somehow?"

"I should think so."

"I hope so. I don't want to go home."

"Neither do I."

There was much more to be said, Scorpius was certain, but the words felt too bitter and heavy on his tongue to gather up the proper energy to divulge them. He could sense the ideas hanging about them like a fog, invisible under the guise of Albus' slow steady breathing and the clam rotations of Scorpius' thumb into the other boy's hand. His head lolled to rest upon the other boy's and in the tedium of the quiet Scorpius felt himself exit with the world of the living. He wasn't eager to sleep, to dream again, but there seemed nothing better to do.

The windows, dusty and obscured by clutter, were dark when Scorpius managed to pry his eyelids apart later in the evening. Heaving himself, awkwardly, to his feet in a tangle of gaunt long limbs that, raising his knees, pushing off his heels and palms made him feel spider like. He let Albus lay head resting on his own bag. Approaching the windows, he raised himself clumsily onto the old desks and wardrobes to move against the glass and regard the school grounds. They were empty under a high moon and there was so little wind Scorpius could barely perceive any motion in the trees.

He lowered himself very tentatively from the ledge back to the stone, he was as familiar with climbing furniture as he was with climbing trees, Albus was much nimbler at such feats. Watery grey eyes cast casual glances down between the rows of stacked, precarious, objects and there was a disagreeable tightening in his gut. The room was eerie, perhaps more so than Riddle Manor or the Chamber of Secrets, if only because Scorpius could not plainly see what he was surrounded by from all angles. It was intrusive and crouching beside Albus, he shook him gently back to consciousness.

"We can go now," he murmured, squeezing the smaller boy's shoulder. "The couches at the Manor will be a more comfortable to place to sleep."

"No doubt filled with cursed goose feathers" Albus whispered responsively, burying his face in Scorpius' bag, "from a rare breed of vicious Albanian were-goose."

"Only the best will suffice for a serious evil lair. Quality is most evident in detailing. I'm sure the Dark Lord spared no expense."

"Only the freshest virgin blood from Sweden."

"Certified baby-skin bound grimoires." Scorpius found his face etched with a light grin, hand resting on Albus' shoulder.

"Cthulhu express shipping," he countered, eyes shut as he remained prostrate against the floor.

"Footstools made with actual feet."

Albus giggled, dimples flexing as he smiled into the darkness. He opened his eyes finally, twisting onto his side, cheek never leaving Scorpius' bag.

"Time to go?"

"Yes," Scorpius replied with mild trepidation.

A thought passed between them, green to grey irises meeting briefly, as Albus swallowed, his Adam's-apple bobbing. Scorpius sensed the seriousness of their situation was still very evident to both under the veil of good humor. The thought itself he would not consciously acknowledge, certainly not aloud, that would make it real and he wasn't prepared for the weight of that inevitable conclusion.

Albus let the hand mirror tumble from his bag onto the stone where it sat, pale glow casting looming shadows, as they gathered up their belongings, broomsticks and all.

-369-

The Manor was simple enough to enter and the pair hoped that whatever wards were protecting it from unwanted visitors would mask them from the trace. There was a peculiar feeling of security that seeped into them upon entering Riddle Manor and being assured, as reasonably as one could be in an abandoned evil lair, that they were all alone. The cavernous Manor didn't feel as ominous as it once had and worried, perhaps foolishly, about ridiculous things like parents and schools beyond its domain the Manor had become something of a protector to them.

Locking the kitchen door behind them and moving sluggishly up the stairs with their meager items, Scorpius attempted to stir the fire, cautious to fill it with any of the suspicious furniture, while Albus removed the tattered curtain covering the Mirror and placed their things on the old sofas. In the parlor before the Mirror Scorpius was quite aware that the Other Harry would not be seeking them out for several more days yet. So leaning into the fine worn couches and arm chairs Albus attempted the laborious task of uncovering the Other Harry himself.

"It doesn't work," he pouted, slumping over the arm of his chair precariously. "It won't show anything. It doesn't even reflect."

"I suppose we should've expected as much," Scorpius replied from his seat dangling his long legs over the opposing side of the arm chair, "if it worked, Voldemort would've used it himself and I'm sure the war would've been quite different."

"Then we'll have to wait, I should think." The Potter conceded the defeat rather sourly, fine nails picking at the mesh of bandages encasing his damaged palms and fingers. "This is disastrously anti-climatic."

"At least no one should come looking for us here."

"I doubt it's first on the list of possible vacation spots," Albus sighed nonchalantly, rubbing the heel of his mended palm against his eyes. "I feel as though a herd of Grindylow have robbed me blind and left me for dead at the side of a very uncomfortable road. A very long uncomfortable road."

"The floor of the Room of Hidden Things certainly does nothing to promote good back support."

"It allows terrible sleeping postures but I believe the Grindylow made off with my exuberance directly after Herbology."

"I'm tempted to say you shouldn't have thrown stones in glass castles," Scorpius quipped in an attempt to lighten the memory.

Albus laughed softly, moving himself closer to the fire, thin arms tangling around Scorpius shoulder's across the divide between their separate perches. As he rested his head between the blonde's protruded shoulder blades, Scorpius could recall Albus' own from the Prefects' bathroom pointed, pronounced and bird like as they flexed under almost translucent skin, as he leant back into his weight.

"Shall we off to bed?" Scorpius suggested lazily, glancing over his shoulder as best he could and raising his hand to rest upon Albus' crossed wrists.

"I think so," Albus nodded removing himself from the Malfoy.

-369-

Finding the floor of the parlor too precarious, Albus suggesting the real possibility of cursed termites of some description, Scorpius begrudgingly traipsed along the corridors of the upper floor until he uncovered a bedroom, quite probably for the Master of the house. The room, bar the snow fall of dust that exploded into the air whenever any surfaces were brushed against, was in immaculate condition and almost frozen in time. The lid off the bottle of cologne, the toss upturn of the bedding, and the open books across the low table at the fire side gave the eerie sensation of the room being departed with its owner expecting to return.

It was in a tentative state of undress, rendered down to their school shirts and pants, that the pair mounted the mattress and tugging up the bedding put themselves in its embrace.

"It feels like he's going to come home any minute," Albus whispered as they lay face to face in the imposing darkness. "I imagine he'd be quite irritated to find two teenage boys in his bed, but the brief lapse of amazement might give us a chance to escape."

"Given the Other Harry, there is a slight chance he'd be all too pleased to find two adolescent boys in his bed."

"As that option would involve less running for our lives, it is somewhat preferable."

"I'm not totally swayed."

Scorpius felt quite infantile curled upon himself in the chambers of a great dark wizard. His gawky body condensed the sensation oddly akin to that of a child in their parent's shoes. It took him several sluggish seconds to realize that he and Albus, somehow bewitched by the atmosphere of the room, were no longer touching directly. It was with a little shuffling and glancing that Scorpius, unable to stand the pressure of the room, moved them into a better position.

It was in that changed stance the feel of the room again morphed. To lay with Albus' head against his clavicle, face buried in his chest, the smaller boy's arm slung across his waist while Scorpius' own hung around his taunt shoulders was nothing new. They'd slept as such for many long nights, in cramped and awkward spaces, in single beds attempting to make not only their own bodies but each other fit as best they could. In an expansive bed in a man's room Scorpius had a glimmer of sensation as to what it must feel like to be a genuine adult. He thought, knew, himself to be, in his own opinion, firmly mature for his age but at fifteen that maturity was nothing more than the budding ghost of adulthood and pretend. His pressing with Albus had always seemed a little juvenile, clutching at toys and teddy bears perhaps, but in a king sized bed in a house all their own without the presence of other adolescents, teachers or parents, it seemed something else entirely.

The sensation filled Scorpius with the embers of that thought and clutching to them he was once more secure in authority of his surroundings. Confident to banish foolish, ridiculous, notions of Voldemort returning home, of shoes and teddy bears and sleep with his usual aloof clarity.

-369-

Mister Draco Malfoy couldn't recall the last occasion he'd been summoned to the Headmaster's office for some offense on Scorpius' part. Scorpius seemed to be blissfully better behaved than Draco, or perhaps better skilled? This year had not started well however, what with punching James Potter. He assumed it was hormones or some other blasted pubescent thing he himself had grown out of but now he was note quite so sure.

They had been sitting for several moments rather tensely. Himself, Mister and Missus Potter and dear Headmistress McGonagall when teetering his teacup in his lap Draco began.

"So you lost two students."

"Not lost Mister Malfoy."

"Well effectively lost," he elaborated. "Not that is seems to be uncommon at Hogwarts."

"Mister Bulstrode, Zabini and Catchlove seem to think they're still on school grounds. They can't have gone very far. I suspect they'll be discovered at Hogsmeade by tomorrow at worst."

"And all this after…" Draco gesticulated with his free hand as he clutched his little china saucer, "Albus broke a window in the green house?"

"All the windows," Miss McGonagall clarified, "simultaneously. Apparently it was quite impressive."

"Well I'd imagine." He snorted turning to the rather sheepish Mister Potter. "He's very much your son isn't he? What with the damaging public property and theatrics."

Harry chuckled before he could restrain himself, Ginny dolling him a quick shove at the knee to stifle the sound and cause the other man to cough a little awkwardly.

"I just can't believe they'd run off like this," Missus Potter sighed. "I mean Albus can be a bit dreamy but Scorpius has always been dreadfully responsible. I certainly can't picture him wanting to trudge through the forest all night-"

"Certainly your son," Harry quipped to the blonde.

"Style is genetic," Draco mused, sipping deeply from his cup.

"I'm sure they'll be fine," Mister Potter shrugged nonchalantly, "I mean I went missing all the time-"

"Yes, because that always went well," Ginny grumbled ruefully, counting upon her fingers, "Philosopher's stone, giant snake, stolen Hippogriff, werewolves, graveyard, horcrux hunting."

"-The worst that will happen is they'll get dirty and Scorpius will think it tragic enough to come back." He continued insistent against the banter.

"You'd certainly know all about tragic," Mister Malfoy scoffed.

"You don't want me to start that argument Draco, trust me," he turned to the blonde, twisting almost uncomfortably far in his seat to gather eye contact. "I don't live with my parents."

"No," Malfoy smirked softly, raising his cup once more, "you don't have any."

"Gentlemen!" McGonagall chided, "I'd suggest we cease bickering."

"Why? So we can twiddle our thumbs until you find our children?"

"If you're bored you could always complain at the ministry," Mister Potter shrugged lazily, "or we could go tell your father about it."

"I foolishly thought two mature men like yourself would've grown out of this," the Headmistress leant forth onto her elbows to bear her eyes rather expectantly down the bridge of her sharp nose.

"They're sadly more steadfast than the motion of the sun," Misses Potter revealed. "Miss you said some boys in their house think they're still on school grounds? Could we talk to them?"

Draco found that to be quite a silly suggestion. Slytherin children in his opinion didn't reveal anything they could get away with concealing but all things considered young Geoffrey did look painfully pale when they arrived.

"Boys, where did Al and Scorpius tell you they were going?" Mister Potter asked, resting his forearms on his knees as he spoke slouched. The children appeared to expect some kind of good Auror bad Auror routine any second.

The boys looked between each other, both fifth years glancing down to diminutive Mister Catchlove. Geoffrey, finally, took up the invitation to speak.

"Well, Albus said they were going to hide in the Forbidden Forest and then fly back to London."

"No they didn't!" Nicholas squawked in seeming amazement. "Scorpius said they were going to Hogsmeade when it got dark!"

"Bullocks," Xavier grunted, crossing his arms and cocking his hip. "They were going to follow that channel under the Whomping Willow to the Shrieking Shack. You pair need your ears cleaned."

Both boys gawked at Xavier mutely.

"The Shrieking Shack? Where did you get the Shrieking Shack from?" Nicholas blinked.

Sighing Harry pressed his hands into his knuckles. Raising his head he attempted a different tangent.

"Did they tell you why they were going?"

"Well…" Nicholas scratched the back of his neck awkwardly, the little first year paling slightly as his glance wavered between the Headmistress and Harry Potter. "Scorp and Al brought something in from the Forbidden Forest…They wouldn't tell me what, but I think they were worried someone was going to find it…"

"No way!" Xavier reeled loudly, "they didn't tell me that! Why the heck wouldn't they tell me?"

"Because you're a loud mouth!" Nicholas shot back.

"I thought it was because of what happened at the greenhouse," Geoffrey queried, "wasn't it?"

"You kidding? That was funny," Zabini scoffed, "a detention isn't worth going cross country for!"

"Well it doesn't make any less sense than what Catchlove said," the boy huffed crossing his arms, "I think they were just pulling your leg Nicholas."

"They wouldn't do that!"

"Look," Zabini commanded, "I bet they ran out of Lemon Drops and thought they'd fly to Hogsmeade and back."

"Do you boys do that often?" Harry asked curiously.

"Oh yeah, Mister Potter all the time," He explained flippantly before stumbling and stuttering as he caught the Headmistress' sharply raised brow. "I mean…ah…we're not supposed to, so we don't. That would be against the rules."

"Of course, boys," Mister Potter grinned mischievously, "did they mention anything else to you? Were they upset?"

"No but then it's hard to tell with Scorpius," he glanced between the other two boys, "did they seem weirder than normal to you lot?"

"Not really," Nicholas shrugged.

Finding their subjects predictably useless and unhelpful, Draco, as a grown man and an ex-Slytherin student, wasn't certain whether he should be proud or irritated by the boys. It was obvious to him, and he would hope Mister Potter, that they weren't in the slightest even fractionally honest. Dismissed, there was a great deal of quiet hissing and shoving between them as they fled the Headmistress' office and perking his ears, for pure blood ears were exceptionally keen at catching gossip, he managed to graze Nicholas' mutterings.

"Scorpius would kill us if we told them anything."

Again he was uncertain whether to be proud or irritated as a parent with unique expectations. His child becoming deceptive or mischievous was hard to define as positive or negative behavior in a Slytherin household. Should he have scolded Scorpius for lying to his grandparents when he was small or congratulated him for getting away with it successfully?

"Well, we still know nothing," He voiced coolly. "What exactly are you doing to find the boys?"

"Mister Filch is looking for them within the school and Professor Hagrid has been asked to check the forest."

"Oh yes," Draco exhaled excitedly glancing to the Potters, "because Mister Filch always did such a good job of finding us didn't he?"

"Every damn time," Harry replied dreamily, giving a tiny pained sound as, hiding her own little smile, Ginny shoved his knee once again.

"They have to come back eventually," McGonagall sighed, clearly quite over Malfoy's spite.

"She's right," Harry piped, "the basilisk, the horcrux,-"

"The Room of Requirement," Draco added.

"-Thank you, yes, the Room of Requirement and the Room of Hidden Things for example were all uncovered in record time."

"You do realize you're assisting me now?" the blonde queried.

"Yes but its fun."

"They've got to eat," Ginny voiced, in her most prim and responsible tone in some kind of effort to subdue them. "Then we can give them a stiff talking to."

"In the meantime I, however, am going home to a stiff drink," Draco grumbled, placing his empty teacup upon the table as he pushed himself to his feet, "while I entrust the future of my line to your capable hands of course Headmistress. It was a pleasure to see you again, please keep me informed."

-369-

Scorpius awoke in the morning to feel Albus spasm against him and jolt up from the bedding. He sat, perfectly still, as propping himself up on his elbow, Scorpius watched carefully before, with a great exhale, he fell back heavily into the mattress.

"Are you alright?" the blonde murmured cautiously, observing the other boy's blank face as he regarded the ceiling above them.

"I had a dream," he whispered, "I fell down a hole, jumped really, and it was long, deep and cold and when I tumbled out the other side everything was upside down…but it was nice… then I saw something, just beyond where we were sitting…and I was sure it was something of mine so I stood up to go and get it and when I turned back everything was gone…I was sure that it was all my fault."

"I don't expect you remember what it was?"

"No," Albus sighed tossing onto his side, curling in away from the other boy, "I don't know."

The weather did nothing to improve their dismal dispositions, exhausted and alone, as tossing back the curtains briskly, Scorpius had the pleasure of beholding the rough play of wind and murky grey skies over the empty land. As Albus remained solitary across the bed, glancing over the landscape, Scorpius had the moment necessary to digest his thought from the day before; there was very little chance they would return to Hogwarts. Things had escalated and resting his hands heavily on the window sill Scorpius hunched his back and let his hair fall down.

Turning his mind to practicalities, he focused on the matter of breakfast to distract himself. Their school clothes felt quite dismal, heavy with sweat and dust, but Scorpius was cautious to go looking for any more. Their school bags turned up little in regard to sustenance and anything in the kitchen that was edible could now qualify for showcase at the nearest museum.

"I'd suggest looking outside for food," Albus murmured pulling himself up onto a kitchen bench top with the force of his arms to sit dangling at its edge, "but neither of us is very skilled a foraging."

"Unfortunately I think you're right."

"There's a village nearby."

"We don't have any money."

"Oh that's alright," the Potter replied, "it's a Muggle village, it wouldn't help us anyway."

"Then why did you mention it?"

"Figured it couldn't hurt."

"Well they're Muggles…" Scorpius mused thoughtfully.

"Hence it being a Muggle village."

"No," the blonde attempted to clarify, waving his hand.

"They're not Muggles?" Albus responded quite surprised.

"No, no!" Scorpius shook his head, "I mean, they areMuggles-"

"Exactly!"

"-but…because they're Muggles if we…" he sighed, slumping into one of the creaking chairs surrounding the dilapidated kitchen table, pressing his mouth into a thin line and resting his chin in his palm.

"If we…?" Albus took the seat beside him, leaning forth with his fingers laced tightly over his knees.

"We could get food from them."

"But we don't have any money." The darker haired boy seemed genuinely perplexed as Scorpius sheepishly tried to explain himself.

"Yes we don't but, as they're Muggles, we could probably get something to eat without them noticing."

"Oh…" Albus slumped back into his seat, face torn with understanding and uncanny innocence at the mere suggestion.

Scorpius' tongue felt heavy, a bitter taste infecting his saliva, at the mere suggestion leaving his mouth. It was logical and it would be simple enough, but it didn't seem to sit well with either of them. They were Slytherins but Scorpius had never planned, never gone out of his way, to hurt someone or make them miserable. He could say cruel things without regret, he could whack Nicholas east and west, he could punch James' lights out and would again, but he didn't have the stomach for being…cruel to those he didn't know, or didn't deserve it…muggles or not.

"Forget I said anything," he retracted suddenly, Albus' ears perking, eyes flickering over Scorpius' somber profile and, exhaling with immense relief, the Potter eased his grip.

"Oh good, you scared me dreadfully for a moment there!" He laughed.

"My apologies," Scorpius soothed.

How far would his…scruples bend if the need arose? What if they were stuck out here indefinitely?

-369-

Returning to their beds in the dormitory the next night, Xavier was snoring carelessly, obnoxiously, as soon as his head hit the pillow. Geoffrey himself had considerably more difficulty staring out into the darkness at the two empty beds in their room. His heart nearly leapt eagerly from his chest when he heard the aging door creak open, pushing up to his knees, restraining himself from jumping over the bed end and discovering if somehow Scorpius had decided to return.

"Hello?"

He slumped back as Nicholas squeezed between the cracks of the door and stumbled into the chilled room. It was always a little cold down in the dungeons to some claustrophobic, as though the very school could collapse any moment above them, and to others almost womb like and protective.

"What's that sound?" Nicholas whispered, clambering onto the end of his bed, "it sounds like an exploding bagpipe, don't tell me that's Xavier?"

"He can yodel too," Geoffrey chuckled.

"I can tell. I'm surprised he hasn't woken any dead yet."

"What are you doing up?" He cut suddenly, knee bouncing nervously, his attention and patience short at the midnight hour.

"I couldn't sleep, so I went for a walk, thought maybe I'd find them…"

"Anything?"

"No, Filch almost caught me though," Nicholas sighed, tiny body shifting uncomfortably on the green quilt. "I've never gone out at night like this by my own…I don't know how Al and Scorp do it all the time without getting in trouble."

"Heard anything new Mister Spy?" Geoffrey teased weakly, shoving the boy's upper arm with the back of his knuckles.

"Filch talked to the Headmistress, Professor Hagrid too, I saw them meeting near the Great Hall. Filch said he's sick of looking so Headmistress McGonagall said she was going to owl their parents again…"

Geoffrey sighed, fingers curling and tracing the bottom of his pants distantly.

"It's bothering me." Nicholas grumbled.

"What? The whole thing?" Bulstrode questioned.

"They've been sneaking out a lot lately, but they wouldn't tell me why or where. I'm worried. What if they don't come back?"

"They were probably charting a course back to Valhalla," Zabini sounded suddenly, groaning into his pillows as he awoke, "got in contact with their own kind finally."

"Sounded like you were channeling something through your nostrils a few moments ago," Nicholas snapped tiredly.

"Your great Aunt Beatrice says you're a disappointment Catchlove"

-369-

Their second evening at Riddle manor was exceedingly uncomfortable. As they ran out of the remaining fire wood they were forced to sleep in their thoroughly over worn school uniforms and press close into bed. Sleep too was relatively unreachable being as hungry as they'd become in such a reasonably short time of doing nothing. Likewise, the water in the piping was either frozen or freezing with the boiler long since passed it expiration date.

By the third evening they sat, sufficiently ruffled, under a stolen blanket before the Mirror in the parlor counting down the minutes to the Other Harry's arrival with Albus' head lolling on Scorpius' shoulder.

"Being a fugitive is very unglamorous," Albus murmured in a daze, "I feel utterly mislead by years of bed time stories."

"This is why I don't go camping."

"No," the Potter laughed softly at the sourness in the other boys voice. "These are but a few of the reasons you don't go camping. You have an encyclopedia."

Scorpius laughed tiredly, shoulders bouncing, in acknowledgement before, much to their comfort, the mirror began to flicker smolderingly to life. It took several moments, a vague smoky outline, blobby distorted images like those of the back of spoon transforming to that precise, vivid, likeness of their own room. The room on the other side of the Mirror however had never looked more appetizing, wood freshly polished, fire blazing and a beautifully crafted glass tumbler of alcohol glimmering on the table behind the chair in front of the glass.

His eyes wandered languidly over the arms of the chair, enviably comfortably juxtaposed to their dusty floorboards, and settled upon not Harry's face, but another. Beside him Albus gasped and frowning Scorpius regarded the inhuman features of the face staring back at them intrusively. Seeking, he saw the Other Harry, finally, arms folded over the back of the chair and chin resting upon them while Albus leant forth out of the blanket onto his fingers.

"I've seen you," he whispered, "in my dream…"

"And I've seen you," came the firm but low reply from a face that didn't really seem to be a face, resonating through the glass.

"Albus-Severus, Scorpius," the Other Harry called in a gentle tone, "I thought I'd finally introduce you to the Dark Lord-" he paused, half moving from behind the chair, "you two look awful."

"We had an accident," Albus explained remorsefully, "we've been here for two days waiting to talk to you."

"Oh boys," the Other Harry sighed, glancing down his shoulder to what Scorpius now realized, with immense awe and horror, must be Voldemort. "I told you."

"So you did," the man, thing, hissed sharp eyes running over their present pathetic states inquisitively. Leaning back, he pressed a sickly green thumb to the cusp of his chin, index finger resting against his thin lips before he spoke again. "What exactly happened to you two?"

Albus' arms, currently resting his weight on the tips of his fingers extended like spiders on the floor boards, shook slightly causing the blanket he was leaning from to slip further down his shoulders and rest low on his hips. Scorpius felt, for a second, as though the other boy was leaning closer to a precipice and summoning up the tiny morsel of courage buried somewhere deep deep inside him started to speak with as much eloquence as he could muster. No human being had ever frightened him. He respected some, disliked others, but never had he with all his certainty been so intimidated.

"-And so we came here because I assumed that there would be wards that might protect us from the trace."

There was a tense, palpable, moment of silence.

"You were a clever boy to think so," Voldemort's attention wavered quickly to Albus, "and you must be more powerful than you appear."

Tension between the students seemed to ease a little at the bead of approval, and laughing jaggedly, the Other Harry spoke again.

"Trust you to get into trouble. I expected something like this would happen sooner or later."

Scorpius had been holding what little nerve he possessed but could not shake the sensation, drawn from the expression on the Dark Lord's face, that the thing wanted to gobble them both up in the most violent and brutal manner.

"Can you help us?" Albus asked, stunned, but warily cautious by their present company.

"Yes, I think so," the Other Harry admitted, "but really it's up to you."

"What do you mean?" Scorpius inquired as he coughed against the dust he couldn't seem to stop inhaling.

"We know a way we could bring you here; you could come be with us, if you want to. It's up to the two of you to decide."

"You'd want us?"

"Harry and I are immortal." The Dark Lord spoke suddenly, dread bursting to the surface from deep within Scorpius' stomach once more. "I'm quickly becoming bored of this game of global conquest and I think, very soon, its best we move onto the next phase of our lives. However I have no intention of letting my legacy, my empire, fall to a ruin of ashes and memories once more. No wizard alive will ever forget my name. So it's come to my attention that it would be in our best interest to acquire an heir, or two, to take my and Harry's place. You two have jumped to the top of my list.

So then, the question is, would you like to rule the world Scorpius?"

"What about you, Albus?" the Other Harry murmured, cheek resting against the wooden back of the arm chair. "How would you like to be somewhere where I promise no one will ever call you crazy or threaten to put you in Saint Mungo's again?"


A/N: Hi everybody. Sorry for the lateness of this update but I thought it might make a nice Christmas present. I haven't forgotten about Ruby. I've got chapter 10 in the works and I'll resume updating more frequently next year. The last half of this year however has been devoted to setting my life into order. Apartments, applications, rings, in-laws etc… but I have missed you all desperately!

If you go to my author page there are more notes about next year including the fact that I'm going to start putting up first drafts of chapters on my Live Journal (OzmaTheWicked) for this and other fics (including some desperately naught stuff most likely). I will add anyone who wants to send me a friend request there but I'll also make the chapters public. That's mainly because, as you might remember me mentioning, you guys don't get the chapters here on FFN till about the fourth edit between my Beta and I.

1) As always, my favorite part, theories about Albus or Scorpius' dreams or Voldemort's evil plans? Please feel free to share guesses. I love them. Some of you have more answers than you realize!
2) If you haven't seen the "This is War" Harry Potter AMV on youtube you're missing out.
3) Scorpius/Albus refrain from using wand magic during this chapter, outside Riddle Manor, obviously to avoid the trace on their wands used by the Ministry. Even if they didn't you'd remember Hermoine explaining in Deathly Hallows that while you can improve, multiply and reshape food you can't create it out of nothing. So using magic in the Manor's pretty useless too especially with an early fifth year set of spells.
4) My Beta got a bit confused during one of the conversations so just a brief reminder as it's been a while, it's; Xavier Zabini, Geoffrey Bulstrode and Nicholas Catchlove. Sometimes they'll be referred to using their last name rather than first.

More of Zabini, the parents and our first glances into the other side of the mirror in coming chapters until then be very cautious about vials labeled 'Drink Me' at your Christmas parties!