AN: Ouch, I got told. I'm not posting notes saying when the next chapter will be up because I honestly don't know. For a long while, I had lots of free time which I could dedicate to fandom, but since September that has changed. I'm not leaving fandom, but at the moment I just don't have the same amount of free time. That will be all.
Thank you to KimioRobin for translating super-quickly, and thank you to everyone else who offered.
Something wasn't right. Even through the crushing pressure of apparition, Harry could feel something wrenching at his lungs and stomach, a twisting pain inside his chest that made him want to cry out. It was as if he were trying to apparate and take a portkey at the same time, and all he could do was clutch Scorpius and Teddy tightly to him, clenching his eyes shut and desperately wishing for respite from the pressure -
And suddenly it was over, and Harry felt the shock of being abruptly free from the pressure, the sunlight around him almost blinding. He hit the ground on his feet, staggering with the force of the impact and tumbling down onto his knees, flinging out the hand that still clutched Teddy's to prevent himself from crushing Scorpius or landing on his face.
Breathing heavily through his mouth and fighting down the urge to be sick, it took him a moment to register the warm grass beneath them, the open sky above their heads. Another frisson of panic ran through him as he realised that this was not where they were meant to be; they were meant to be back home, why weren't they back at the house-?
He belatedly looked down at Scorpius and Teddy, trying to find the wherewithal to speak, but his throat was too tight. Scorpius was still crying, clinging onto Harry so tightly it was hurting his ribs. Even more worrying was the fact that Teddy was silent, his face pale and frightened.
For the first time in a long time, Harry found he simply didn't know what to do. He didn't know where he was and Draco was gone, and he had two children relying on him to sort it out, to take charge of the situation and fix it, but all he could think about was Draco and the fact he was gone. All he could think about was Draco lying back in their bed, expression more trusting than it ever should have been. Draco trying not to laugh at something rubbish on the TV, nestled into Harry's side with their fingers linked loosely together. Draco sitting at the kitchen table with James, discussing the plot of whatever comic James was reading. Draco sitting in the cheap plastic booth of a café and admitting that he loved Harry too-
Trembling, Harry sat back on his heels, feeling lost and staring blankly at the grass in front of them. He didn't know what to do. He always knew what to do – why couldn't he pull himself together and do something-
He looked up at the frantic shout of his name and nearly collapsed in relief as he saw Ron running across the grass towards him, dodging tree roots and bushes as he went. In that moment Harry realised both where they were and why the apparition had felt so strange – somehow his magic had decided not to take him home, but to bring him to Ron and Hermione's back garden instead. Maybe it knows I need help this time, Harry thought dazedly.
"What did you do?" Ron asked in amazement as he reached them, sinking down onto his knees and grasping Harry's shoulder roughly. "You know you can't apparate in here, it's warded to death – fucking hell, Harry!"
Ron grabbed Harry's wrist, trying to pull his hand away from where it rested on Scorpius's back. Harry resisted, unable to comprehend letting Scorpius go for even a moment, panicking at the thought of somehow losing him too.
"Harry, let me - you've splinched yourself," Ron pleaded, not letting go. "Jesus Christ-"
"Draco's gone," Harry said over him, the words too rough and raw in his throat. "Someone's taken him."
Some terrible unnamed emotion was rising in his chest, making breathing seem difficult. He was almost aware of a dull pain in the back of his hand but it didn't seem important, nothing seemed important. The only thing that he cared about was Draco and getting him back, but he didn't even know who had taken him or where he would have been taken. Even thinking about it made him feel ill; all of his organs seemed displaced and too large to fit comfortably inside his body, all twisting up into the wrong places.
Ron stared at him for a long moment and then swore again. "Bloody hell," he said, shaking his head roughly. "I know now is really not the time but I fucking well told you so."
He climbed to his feet and reached for Teddy, pulling him up to his feet as well. He set his hands on Teddy's shoulders. "Are you hurt?" he asked. "Ted, look at me. Are you hurt?"
Teddy managed to shake his head, but still didn't say anything. His hair had turned from its previous white into a muddy shade of brown, dull and flat and clashing horribly with his pale face. "Good," Ron said, running a hand over Teddy's hair. "Go to the house, tell Hermione you're here with Harry."
Teddy nodded, face still pale and frightened. He took an unsteady step back, and then another and another, before turning away and running towards the house.
"Get up, come on."
Ron turned his attention to Harry and heaved him to his feet. Harry let himself be pulled, stumbling slightly on the uneven ground, his legs still not as steady as they should be. He tightened his grip on Scorpius, who wound his arms around Harry's neck, sobbing into his shoulder.
Ron steadied him with a hand on his shoulder, glancing at Scorpius. "What happened?" he asked urgently.
Harry swallowed, trying to stop shaking. "We went for lunch," he said. He looked down helplessly and his stomach lurched as he saw that Ron was right; he had been splinched. A wide strip of skin was missing from the back of his hand, from his knuckles to his wrist. Somewhere in the back of his mind he wildly hoped that he hadn't splinched Scorpius as well, because Draco would fucking kill him if he had –
If Draco were here, that was.
"Harry," Ron said gently, and Harry lifted his eyes to blink helplessly at him. "What happened?"
Harry cleared his throat. "We went for lunch," he tried again. "The café on Clumber road. He nipped to the toilet and then he was gone, and there was-"
He couldn't finish the sentence, and not just because he didn't want to upset Scorpius any further. The words wouldn't come; he didn't want to have to say it out loud and bring the blurry fear in his mind into sharper focus. He didn't want to think about what could possibly have happened – he refused to let his thoughts go any further than Draco's gone because there were words so much worse than gone that were threatening on the outskirts of his mind.
"Did you see anyone else?" Ron asked. "Harry?"
Harry shook his head dumbly. No, he tried to say, but he couldn't speak any more; his mind was whirling and he had to do something, he couldn't just stand there-
"Alright," Ron said, his voice breaking through the storm of thoughts. "Come on, let's get you inside to start and then we can take it from there."
Harry felt a hand on his arm, firmly taking hold and trying to lead him. He shook his head, turning away and stepping back.
"No," he managed to say. "Ron, I can't. I need to go home and check, and I need to go-"
"Harry, no," Ron said firmly, reaching out for him again. "Not this time."
"I have to-" Harry said, his voice rising to a shout. "I've got to get home, I've got to fucking find him, I can't just sit here and do nothing-"
"Harry! Stop it - just shut up for a moment!" Ron shouted back, grabbing Harry roughly by his shoulders. "Look at the kid – Harry, he needs you. He needs you."
With a sickening drop to his stomach, Harry realised Ron was right. Scorpius was still here with him, frightened to death and having to deal with the fact his father had been taken. God, he'd seen the blood and everything and now was having to deal with Harry having a breakdown, shouting and swearing and all.
"I can't just-" Harry tried to say, voice broken. "Ron, I-"
"Do you trust me?" Ron interrupted, his fingers clenching on Harry's shoulder. Harry nodded wordlessly. "Then listen to me," Ron said, voice low and urgent. "We will find him. But you are not going anywhere. You've splinched yourself once already, and you need to be here for Scorpius."
"Harry," Ron said, voice deadly serious. "Trust me. Please, just this once, let me sort it."
Harry dithered for a moment. The part of him that trusted Ron implicitly was clashing painfully with the part of him that needed to be active and doing, to be the one sorting the problem. He needed to be the one to go and find Draco - he couldn't trust anyone else with that responsibility. The Aurors just knew Draco as a suspect in the Hightops case, they didn't understand how important it was to find him. They wouldn't care that Harry and Scorpius needed Draco back like they needed air to breathe - they just knew he was an acquitted Death Eater who worked as a rentboy for a criminal gang. What if they didn't even bother looking properly? What if looking for Draco didn't suit the greater good?
"Come on," Ron said, and gave Harry's elbow a gentle tug. Harry resisted again, his body tight and tense, but then Scorpius shifted in his arms, curling in on himself and covering his face with his small hands, still crying so hard he was coughing.
Harry felt something inside him give way. He had Scorpius here in his arms and that was something he could take care of right now. Ron was right - he would just have to trust in his friends to help him. The thought of not acting was simply terrifying, but the thought of letting Scorpius down was even more unbearable. Ron must have sensed or felt the change in his demeanour because he stepped forwards, leading Harry with him and looking relieved when Harry complied and stepped forwards.
"Scorpius," Harry said, his voice rough. He raised a shaking hand and tried to push Scorpius back so he could see his face, trembling fingers trying to pull Scorpius's hands away from his eyes. "Scorpius look at me."
"Il est parti et je veux qu'il revienne, je veux mon papa," Scorpius sobbed, curling back in on himself and hiding his face in Harry's shirt. Harry looked helplessly down at him, resting his palm on the back of Scorpius's head and cringing as he accidentally smeared blood from his splinched hand onto Scorpius's blond hair. Fuck, he just needed to check that Scorpius hadn't been hurt either or Draco would go absolutely spare, and then he'd murder Harry for splinching his son, if he'd not already been-
No, Harry told himself fiercely, pushing the thought away and refusing to entertain any thoughts about what could have happened to Draco. He was gone, but that didn't mean anything more.
The walk through the garden to the cottage was the longest of Harry's life. Scorpius was still crying and all Harry could do was hold onto him and clumsily stroke his hair, wishing he spoke French so he could understand what Scorpius was trying to say. En anglais, he remembered Draco saying with a roll of his eyes, and he felt his throat constrict and his eyes burn. He wished he could say something to Scorpius to make it better but he just couldn't swallow past the lump in his throat.
"Hermione," Ron called when they were close enough to the open back door to be heard. Harry looked up in time to see Teddy rush out, pulling a concerned looking Hermione by the hand. His face was still frightened but he was speaking rapidly to Hermione, gesticulating wildly. He tugged on her hand, stumbling over the uneven patio stones in his haste.
"Oh my god, Harry!" Hermione's confused frown gave way to shock as she spotted Harry. "That was you apparating in? How on earth-"
"Not important," Ron said, interrupting her. "We can sort ward security later."
"God, you've splinched yourself," Hermione said, aghast. "Here, let me-" She reached out to take Scorpius who screamed and tried to twist away from her hands.
"Non, ne la laisses pas m'emmener," he cried, words barely distinguishable. "I want Papa, I don't want her-"
"Don't," Harry managed to say, placing a hand on the back of Scorpius's head and holding him close. "I've got him."
Hermione moved her hands away from Scorpius, putting one on her forehead and looking upset. "Harry, you're hurt-"
"I'm not letting him go," Harry said, and she bit her lip and nodded.
"Someone's taken Malfoy," Ron said, jerking his head towards the house in an indication for them to keep moving and head inside. Hermione reached for Teddy's hand and he crowded close, clinging onto her hand with both of his own and silent once more, wide scared eyes on Harry. Harry knew he should say something to him to reassure him, but he couldn't. How could he say everything was going to be okay when Draco had been abducted by the most dangerous gang of criminals the Auror force had encountered in years? How could he say everything was going to be fine when he didn't know that himself?
He found himself steered into the house and sat down at the kitchen table, the same table he'd sat at when trying to explain to his friends about how he'd found Draco and had been sent home for interfering. That seemed like years ago now, a whole life away. To think back then he'd only been intrigued as to where Draco had been, and since that moment he'd brought Draco to his home, he'd shared a bed with him, slept with him, even fallen in love with him.
And now he was gone.
"Harry," a low voice said, and he looked up to see Ron crouching by chair he'd been pushed into. "I'm going to go and call Ellis, okay? I'll tell him what has happened, and he can do something from his end. I'll go speak to George as well. I know for a fact he's got some tricks somewhere that could probably help trace someone. Probably not legal, but you know."
Harry nodded wordlessly. That made sense, to go find Ellis and get him to help - despite being a complete arsehole, Ellis was still Harry's mate and would understand how important this was. He would know that Draco was more than just a criminal; Harry had told him himself that he was involved with Draco and didn't think Ellis would just dismiss that.
Even though this was probably Ellis's fucking fault anyway – how many time had he reassured Harry that Draco was safe? But then that was his own stupid fault for believing it anyway, Harry thought listlessly. He knew deep down that it wouldn't help blaming Ellis, even though the thought of yelling at him for ten minutes was tempting. As long as the arse was going to help get Draco back, Harry could probably keep from throttling him.
The urge to get up and start hunting Draco down faded marginally, enough so that Harry could take a shaky breath and sink back into the chair. He pulled Scorpius around on his knee, so Scorpius was sat across his lap with his head leant against Harry's chest.
"Good man," Ron said, clapping Harry on the knee and looking relieved. "I'll be right back."
He got up and left, presumably to use the floo. Harry stayed where he was, but found that he was still shaking from top to toe, his body tense and tight. He pulled Scorpius even closer, his warm weight a small comfort he knew he wouldn't find anywhere else. As he pulled Scorpius close, he realised just how bloody small he actually was; he was even littler than Al, and how was it fair to have all this dumped on him at this age? It was too much for Harry, never mind Scorpius. Feeling a fierce rush of protectiveness towards him, Harry took a deep breath, finally swallowing around the lump in his throat and finding his sense of purpose.
"Scorpius, I need you to look at me," he said, gently pushing Scorpius back so he could see his face. He caught Scorpius's hand in his to prevent him covering his face again, squeezing gently. "You're being so brave, but I need you to look at me."
Scorpius did, his grey eyes swimming with tears. Harry's heart jolted in his chest at the familiar sight, a piercing ache in his chest at the fleeting thought that he might never be able to see Draco's eyes again. He pushed it away, clinging on to the flicker of purpose that he'd found and focussing his courage on it. This was what he needed to do.
"We are at my friend's house," he told Scorpius, finding that his voice was steadier than he'd expected it to be. "My friends Ron and Hermione who came and had dinner with us at our house, remember? They are my best friends, and they're going to look for your papa right now."
"I want to go home," Scorpius said, chin wobbling as he tried not to cry. "I want Papa to come home."
"He will," Harry said, trying to sound brave. "We've just got to sit tight for now."
Scorpius nodded and shrank back into Harry's side, trembling just as Harry was. He reached up to slip his fingers into his mouth and Harry didn't have the heart to stop him. For the first time in four years he found he ached for a cigarette; a habit that had been born with – and died with – his drunken antics after he came out.
"Harry," a gentle voice said, and Hermione came to kneel down beside him where Ron had been minutes before. She had a small, familiar, glittering vial in her hand and Harry immediately held out his injured hand without question or comment. She carefully took hold of it and Harry closed his eyes as she gently dripped dittany onto the wound, which started to heal the moment the liquid touched it. Harry found himself wishing that dittany would work on emotions as well as skin, then cursed himself for being such a fucking wuss.
"I feel like such an-" he began, eyes still closed.
"Hush," Hermione said gently. "You weren't to know."
Harry shook his head, the lump in his throat welling up again. He pressed his face to Scorpius head again, breathing in the now-familiar smell of his hair. He heard the gentle thud of the vial being set on the table and tried to clear his throat.
"I did know," he said, the words unable to be restrained. "There were so many fucking clues and I just sat there playing happy families-"
"Harry," Hermione said sharply at the same time that Scorpius shifted restlessly in his arms, a small distressed noise in the back if his throat. "Now is not the time," she said simply. "Ron is on the case, and he'll do everything he can to help. You know that."
Harry nodded dumbly. He didn't speak straight away; all the emotions inside him were still bubbling, threatening to break free if he didn't make a concerted effort to control them. He took a deep shuddering breath in and forced his thoughts away from Draco and his fear and back to Scorpius. "Where's Teddy?" he asked, his voice shaky.
"I sent him home," Hermione said simply. "Andi said she's there if we need her. Now stay there, I'm going to make us all a drink."
Harry felt a bubble of hysterical laughter well up in his chest, jarring uncomfortably with the already crushing pressure of emotion in his chest. He should have predicted that really; one of the worst things to ever happen in his life had just occurred and Hermione's immediate go-to was still tea. Oh well, it could be worse, he thought shakily. At least Ron had got the I told you so out of the way nice and early. He supposed they could be just sitting there and not helping, because at the end of the day it was still Draco Malfoy that they were talking about. They could all-too-easily have refused to even entertain the notion that Harry wanted to be with Draco, but here they were, rushing to his side to help track down the git.
God, what the fuck would Ginny say when she found out? Harry had gone out of his way to prove to her that Draco wasn't a criminal, that he could be trusted, that he was safe-
"Here," Hermione said, putting a mug of tea down on the table next to Harry, and then holding out a beaker. "And this one is for Scorpius," she said, but Scorpius cringed and shook his head.
"Papa a dit que je ne dois pas boire ce que me donne quelqu'un que je ne connais pas," he managed to say, still hiccuping with tears. Harry opened his mouth to tell him to speak in English but Hermione got there first.
"Well how about you share Harry's then," she said calmly, and Harry realised with a surprised jolt that she understood what Scorpius had said. "You know Harry," she said, and drew her wand to wave it gently over Harry's tea. "There. Won't be too hot now."
Scorpius looked up at Harry, doubt written all over his face, and with another jolt Harry realised that Scorpius really trusted him and was looking for Harry to say it was okay. He nodded, feeling tears pricking at his eyes, and then reached out to pass him the mug of tea. Scorpius cupped his hands around Harry's and took an awkward mouthful through his hiccoughing, and then to Harry's surprise Hermione swiftly reached out and took it from them.
"Little bit at a time," she said, and Harry watched as Scorpius frowned, then yawned massively and sank back bonelessly into Harry's arms, eyelids fluttering shut and then opening sleepily again. He put his fingers back in his mouth and let out a great shuddering breath, his tears finally stopping.
"Calming potion," Hermione said matter-of-factly, and Harry's mouth fell open. "You would benefit from drinking the rest of that."
"It's not too strong for him, is it?" Harry asked, alarmed and still unable to completely comprehend that Hermione had just slipped a four year old a bloody calming potion.
Hermione shook her head. "No, he's fine, as long as he doesn't have any more."
Harry shook his head, gently rocking Scorpius back and forth without even realising he was doing it. "I can't believe-"
He was going to say that he couldn't believe that she'd slipped Scorpius a calming potion but somewhere between him thinking it and saying it the words changed. I can't believe that Draco is gone, echoed numbly through his mind, and then the stinging in his eyes became too much to bear. In that moment it seemed too much - to have finally found peace in his life, to find something he'd always wanted in such an unexpected place, and then to have it all snatched away, and he didn't even know if he would ever get it back.
He raised his newly healed hand to cover his eyes and as he did he felt Scorpius move lethargically in his arms, shifting around to kneel up and wrap small arms back around Harry's neck. Harry held him tightly, unable to hold back the emotions that had been threatening since Draco had vanished, and this is why he wanted to get up and act, because when he was busy it didn't leave space for everything to catch up with him-
"Oh for fuck's sake, stop crying you big baby."
Harry snapped his head up at the sound of a familiar voice, relief coursing through him as Ellis strode into the kitchen, Ron and George hovering just behind him in the doorway.
"Excuse me," Hermione said indignantly, standing up and drawing herself up to her full height. "Who on earth do you think-"
"Hermione, it's okay," Harry croaked, wiping his eyes on the back of his hand and shifting Scorpius to the side. "This is Ellis-"
"I gathered," Hermione said tartly, obviously still unimpressed. Ellis paid her no attention and instead walked over to Harry, leaning on the table.
"I told you so," he said shortly, and then dropped to his knees to look at Harry and Scorpius. "Hello short-one," he said to Scorpius, who didn't reply, holding tightly on Harry's fingers. "I work for the Ministry of Magic and I help the Aurors. You know what Aurors are, right?"
Scorpius nodded, eyes wide and wary. He still looked sleepy, blinking slowly and tiredly, but at least he'd stopped sobbing.
Ellis shifted on his knees, rubbing his palms down the denim on his thighs. "So we're looking for someone who looks like you, but quite a lot taller?"
Scorpius stared at him for a long moment and then nodded. "Are you going to go and find him?" he asked, his voice small.
Ellis nodded. "Just need a word with this big cry-baby here," he said, jerking his head towards Harry. "And then I'll go and track him down. Can you give us five minutes?"
Scorpius looked unsure, and Harry couldn't really blame him. "I want to stay with Harry," Scorpius said, looking upset once more. "I don't want to go."
"Three minutes?" Ellis asked, tone somewhere between exasperated and hopeful.
Scorpius shook his head, now looking frightened. "I want to stay with Harry," he repeated, twisting around to look at Harry. "I want to stay with you," he said, and there were tears welling up in his eyes again.
"Can you take him?" Ellis asked, eyeing Scorpius warily and turning around to look at Hermione. "You know, woman's touch and all that?"
"He's never met his mother, so I doubt a woman's touch will do the trick," Hermione said shortly. "And he wants to stay with Harry."
"Christ. This is why I hate children," Ellis muttered and then drew his wand. He flicked it at Scorpius who screamed and tried to kick out at him, twisting in Harry's arms.
"Ellis, for fuck's sake!" Harry shouted, shoving him away with a hand. "What did you do?"
"Temporary muffliato so he can't hear us," Ellis said indignantly, looking as if he were resisting the urge to shove Harry back. "I have a job to do, I'm not sitting around waiting on a brat."
"But that's-" Harry began hotly, holding Scorpius to him and resting his hand on the back of his head. Scorpius twisted around to look at Ellis, hurt and distrust written all over his face.
"Shut up, you want to get Malfoy back, right?" Ellis said impatiently. "The longer we fuck about here, the harder he's going to be to find."
Harry swore under his breath. He looked down at Scorpius and nodded at him with his eyebrows raised in question. Scorpius nodded back, resting his head against Harry's cheek and holding on around his neck, eyes once again on Ellis.
"Right. What happened?" Ellis said promptly. "Details included please."
Harry took a deep breath. Despite Ellis's blatant lack of tact or compassion as far as Scorpius was concerned, his presence gave him strength. Ellis would be as ruthless as he needed to be to find Draco, and as worrying as that was from certain perspectives, it was exactly what Harry needed.
"We went to the café on Clumber road. The Corner Café," harry began, shutting his eyes. "We walked from mine, through the avenue."
"What time?" Ellis asked, eyes intent.
"About half eleven," Harry said. "We had Scorpius and Teddy with us."
"The godson?" Ellis asked. "What about your two brats?"
Harry shook his head, immeasurably grateful that they hadn't been there to witness. "No. Scorpius was upset that they weren't there, which is why we went out."
Ellis's eyes flickered over Scorpius, a small frown on his face. "Alright," he said slowly, and then looked back to Harry. "Next?"
"We went in, sat in a window booth," Harry said. He looked up at Hermione who was still standing behind Ellis, arms folded across her chest. She was biting her lip and looked troubled, but Harry was still grateful for her presence. He could hear Ron and George conversing out of sight in the next room and had to fight down the need to be part of the conversation.
"Keep going," Ellis prompted.
"We ordered food, sat down, Draco went to the toilet and didn't come back. Teddy went to the toilet and came back saying Draco was gone, so I got up and went to check and he wasn't there. There was just – there was blood. All over once of the sinks and the wall."
Ellis blew a breath out between his teeth, rubbing his jaw. "Well, Teddy would be our number one suspect if it weren't for the fact he's ten," he said, and then climbed to his feet. "Was there anyone else in the café?"
Harry nodded. "An elderly couple and a family with two kids. And the owner. None of them went near the toilets."
"And you didn't go in to the toilets? Only when Teddy said he was gone?"
Harry shook his head. "Can you find him?" he asked urgently.
Ellis looked at him blankly. "How should I bloody know?" he said. "I'll give it a damn good try though. Right. I'm going to your place to set up wards in case he turns up there, and then we'll start hunting."
Harry nodded. "Who are you taking with you?" he asked as Ellis stood up, Hermione moving back to give him space.
Ellis smiled grimly. "Roberts and his team are ready to go," he said. "If who we think has taken Malfoy has taken him, then it could be a potential lead."
Harry nearly cried with relief at the news that the Aurors were taking this as seriously as he needed them to. "Thank you," he managed to say. Ellis just waved his hand dismissively at him, then flicked his wand at Scorpius to remove the spell.
"I'll send news as soon as I know," Ellis said, and turned to Hermione. "Don't let him leave. He's not allowed to get involved and I'd hate to have to punch him in the face."
Hermione stared at Ellis. "You have a way with words," she said, but did hold out her hand for Ellis to shake. Ellis took it and briefly shook her hand, before – to Harry's surprise –turning to Scorpius.
"Right. I'm going to find your dad," he said, and then held out his hand to Scorpius too as an apparent afterthought. "Sorry about the whole pointing my wand at you thing."
Scorpius shook his head and Ellis sighed dramatically. "Why do I bother?" he shrugged, and then clapped Harry on the shoulder and walked off out of sight.
"He's strange," Scorpius mumbled, and Harry managed a choked laugh.
"I know he is," Harry said softly. "But he's very good at his job. He's the best person to have looking for your papa."
Scorpius nodded, fingers pulling at the hair on the nape of Harry's neck like Al often did when he was tired. "I wish you knew where he was. You always rescue him."
"Well this time, I'm staying to look after you, and there's a whole lot of people much cleverer than me looking for him," Harry said. Scorpius nodded again but didn't reply, and Harry felt another flash of guilt at the thought he wasn't out there looking for Draco himself.
"Roberts is an Auror, yes? Someone you work with?" Hermione asked gently, picking up the tea that Harry had forgotten and pushing it towards him. Harry shook his head but she didn't relent, and he finally gave in and took a mouthful. He couldn't taste the calming potion but the moment he swallowed he felt the tension inside him unwind fractionally; enough for his organs to feel normal again, but not enough to dispel the fear and worry.
"Yeah, he's an Auror," Harry finally answered her question. "One of the best. Working on Hightops."
Hermione bit her lip again. "So they think the gang..." she trailed off, glancing at Scorpius.
Harry shrugged. "Who else would have reason to take him?" he said, trying to hold his voice steady and feeling exhausted. "But then again, Ellis was so damn sure that they wouldn't want him any longer, considering he'd had contact with me..."
He broke off, shaking his head. He didn't have any answers, no matter how desperately he wished he did. He would just have to have some faith in the people around him, and trust that they would be able to bring Draco home. God, he'd not felt worry like this in such a long time, not had to deal with the sickening twist of emotions that made his heart feel like it was in the wrong place.
"They'll find him," Hermione said softly. Harry nodded and then reached out to down the rest of the tea, gulping it down before setting the mug aside and sinking back into the chair.
"Want to move somewhere comfier?" Hermione asked.
"No," Harry said tiredly. "We're fine here."
Hermione nodded, and then turned her head as she heard a wail from somewhere in the house. "You okay if I go to Rose?" she asked, and Harry smiled weakly, waving her away. She reached out to gently touch his cheek and then turned away. As she went, Harry noted that the rest of the house had fallen quiet; Ron and George had presumably left with Ellis to go and search for Draco.
What Harry wouldn't give to hear that bored drawl behind him, taking the mickey out of him for being such a mess. He'd even take angry-drunk Draco back at this point in time, anything to know he was safe. Not knowing was the worst feeling in the world, and he had to force himself to stop thinking of all the things that could have happened to Draco. Instead he found himself thinking back to the time before he and Draco had worked things out between them, that odd time when they realised they liked each other but weren't confident enough to make a move. He remembered sitting at his kitchen table and explaining to Draco how he'd come out of the closet. He remembered Draco explaining about his job, how he managed to do it - oh god, they had to get Draco back, what if the gang forced him back into his old life? What if-
He mentally cut himself off again. He couldn't go down that road, not now.
"Can I go and get panda?" Scorpius whispered, interrupting Harry's thoughts.
"Not today mate," Harry whispered back. "You'll have to make do with me."
Scorpius didn't reply, but neither did he whine or make a fuss. Harry sighed and tipped his head back against the wood of the chair he was sitting on. It wasn't comfortable at all, but he couldn't find the wherewithal to move. Scorpius was comfortable enough leaning against him so that was enough.
He could hear Hermione padding about upstairs, her footsteps echoing dully through the floorboards. In a way he was glad to be here and not at home; seeing his house without Draco in it would be just too hard to bear.
He couldn't help but wonder how long they would be left here waiting. The minutes seemed to be taking far too long to tick by, so the thought of hours or even days was unbearable. Even with the calming potion he still felt the urge to get up and go help the search; he fleetingly debated whether he should try and see if Scorpius would stay here for an hour just so he could nip out and check on things. He decided against it with a sinking stomach; Scorpius was still holding tightly to him and he knew in his heart of hearts that he wouldn't just be able to go out for an hour. If he went, he wouldn't settle again until Draco was found.
A while later, Hermione reappeared in the doorway, Rose in her arms. She walked over and silently pulled out the chair next to Harry, but didn't speak. He was grateful; he just wanted to sit with Scorpius and be alone with his-
He and Hermione both looked around as the floo in the front room audibly flared to life. Harry's heart jolted and he sat up straight, thinking of Ron but praying for Draco-
His heart jumped up another notch into his mouth as Ellis ran in, panting and slumping against the doorframe. "Am I fucking good or what?"
Harry was on his feet before he knew it, shifting Scorpius onto his hip, his whole body taught and tense. "What? You've-" he tried to say. He didn't dare say it out loud in case he was wrong. Ellis nodded breathlessly, and Hermione was on her feet too, looking from Ellis to Harry, wide-eyed.
"Ellis!" Harry almost-shouted, trembling from head to foot, not even caring that Ellis was trying to catch his breath.
Ellis took a deep breath. "Yes. Yes, we found him."
Harry stared at him, his mouth hanging open and his heart swelling inside his chest, his stomach turning itself inside out with relief. "And is he okay?" he asked frantically. "Where is he?"
Ellis didn't reply. He looked down at the floor and Harry felt a wave of foreboding wash over him, cold and damp and uncomfortable. "Ellis?" he asked, clutching Scorpius close.
"He's alright," Ellis said, but he didn't sound right, there was something off about the way he said it.
"What aren't you saying?" Harry asked roughly. "Why isn't he here?"
Ellis sighed, rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly. "I-" he began.
"Just say it," Harry insisted. "Don't fuck about-"
"You're going to have to put the kid down," Ellis said bluntly, dropping his hand and drawing his wand, looking thoroughly unhappy.
"Why?" Harry asked, instinctively tightening his grip on Scorpius.
"Because Malfoy's been obliviated to within an inch of his life," Ellis said grimly, and Harry felt the bottom drop out of his stomach as Ellis continued. "Which means…fuck. It means I've got to arrest you."