celestine_fics: The four Hogwarts founders in Potter Puffs style (Books - Harry Potter - House Unity)
celestine_fics ([personal profile] celestine_fics) wrote2010-07-20 09:10 pm
Entry tags:

Harry Potter fic: The Uncertainty of Light

Name/LJ: [personal profile] celestineangel
Title: The Uncertainty of Light
Rating: R
Word Count: 6,342
Pairing(s): Albus/Scorpius
Warnings: Oh my. Let’s see. Ahem: Sociopathy, insanity, psychological incarceration, emotional manipulation, murder, and lots and lots of character death. I think that covers it.
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Summary: As the circle comes around again, two people struggle with the legacies of the previous generation, and with the lessons of their own.
Author/Artist's Notes: Originally written for [profile] nextgendarkfest on LJ. I wanted to write Albus/Scorpius because despite how popular the pairing is, I’d never written it before. This particular prompt had such potential for angst and sorrow, I couldn’t pass it up. Thanks for betaing go to: [profile] cymonie, [personal profile] icanhaspancake, and [personal profile] ravenne_crion. THANKS GUYS!





~~**~~**~~**~~Flash~~**~~**~~**~~

There is a flash. It’s all in his mind, of course, but it’s as good a way as any to bleed from one memory to the next, so it will have to do for now.

The flash is that of a camera. The Muggle kind, and very old-fashioned if Albus knows anything about Muggle technology. He knows a little, thanks to his dad. This camera is definitely old fashioned, and the kid carrying it looks as though he hadn’t been quite sure what would happen when he pressed the button, but absolutely thrilled with the results. Big flash of light, what could go wrong?

After the events of his father’s fourth year, the Triwizard Tournament hasn’t been held again, but the Yule Ball was such a hit with the students that an annual Christmas formal was added permanently to Hogwarts’ traditions. It isn’t called the Yule Ball, but it doesn’t matter what it’s called, and this formal dance is where the kid with the big grin takes his pictures. Creevey, Albus thinks his name is, if he remembers the stories correctly, and he does. He’s always had a head for stories about his father, and about the people who used to surround his father. A different Creevey, of course, but it doesn’t seem to matter.

Life repeats itself, again and again, in an infinite cycle. The circle never stops, the wheel never ceases. The lessons learned in one generation must be learned again in another.


~~**~~**~~**~~Christmas~~**~~**~~**~~


Albus thinks of that first Christmas dance so long ago, and he is there. First years are allowed to attend for the first hour, then are rushed to bed by prefects. This is the first time he saw Scorpius, a pale ghost of a thing in black, green and silver, staring at the twinkling Christmas lights as though they are the source of all wonder. Even now, so long ago, he is beautiful. Always beautiful, his Scorpius.

“Haven’t you seen Christmas lights before?” Albus asks. He’s been told on many occasions that he has the same level of tact as his father, at that age.

Grey eyes, that Albus learns later are the exact same as his father’s—and oh, did Albus and Scorpius share the stigma of fathers in kind—flicker in startled beat before sweeping to Albus. “Yes. These are different.”

Albus looks at the floating lights, no difference in them than those at home that he can see. “How?”

“They’re here, not at home.”

Albus knows in that moment they were made to be together, knows it to the depth of his soul with the conviction of childhood that needs no evidence. He thinks they will be friends forever, no inkling of what will come later, with adolescence, hormones, and the introduction of new feelings both pleasant and unpleasant. Separated by House, separated by old feuds not quite dead and whispers from those who cannot comprehend, they share more with each other than with anyone else.


~~**~~**~~**~~Restricted~~**~~**~~**~~


A flash, and they are twelve years old. Albus has managed to convince James to let him borrow the invisibility cloak Dad gave him—saying something about it being a family tradition—and he and Scorpius are in the Restricted Section. They have already made the mistake of opening the book that screams, and after a few harrowing moments of expecting capture, have settled down to peruse at their leisure.

They flip through books of excruciating torture with the trembling excitement of boys who do not really understand what they see, who revel in all things gross and bloody without emotional impact. Wouldn’t this be cool to see? Wouldn’t it be great to cast this spell on that git from Ravenclaw who thinks he’s better than everyone, especially them? This potion, blimey that’s gross, but isn’t it awesome?

Their heads together, dark and light, shadow and moon, they talk torture long into the night, never knowing that one day, in a biography or three, this will be the moment decided as the beginning.


~~**~~**~~**~~Burning~~**~~**~~**~~


The flash is no longer that of a camera, but he pretends it is, anyway. The Creevey kid, following him through the corridors of his life, documenting. Isn’t that what always happens to men in his situation? Their lives are documented, if not in life then post-mortem?

Albus is fifteen, and confused, and he and a girl have found a private place. He probably knows her name, but doesn’t remember. Mouths together, breaths hot, his hand under her shirt where no girl has let him go before and her leg between his legs. This is going somewhere, leading to new places, and strangely he thinks I wish Scorpius were here to share it.

Then Scorpius is there, somehow in the doorway, staring at Albus and the girl, and it isn’t like Albus thought it would be. He doesn’t know how Scorpius found them, but isn’t glad his friend is there, because the look on his face is distant and strange.

“Scorpius?”

The beautiful pale boy turns and runs, Albus after him before the girl can say anything. He is unaware of the rumors that have already been floating about the two of them, and wouldn’t care if he did. All he cares about is the stricken expression on Scorpius’ face, the one that’s still there when he catches up and spins his friend around by the shoulder.

“Let go!” he cries, usually pale cheeks flushed and striped with tear tracks. Aroused as he is already, Albus fights the urge to lick those tears away.

“What wrong with you? We were just—”

“I don’t care!” After the interruption, Scorpius’ voice lowers. “I don’t care. It’s none of my business if you want to… to… to do something like that with some girl!” His eyes close, his head turns away, and Albus thinks he’s lying, but he can’t understand why he would.

When Scorpius jerks from his grasp and runs away, Albus doesn’t follow, but he doesn’t go back to the girl, either. She is the furthest thing from his mind as he returns to his common room and from there to his dorm where the other boys in his year are already asleep.

By the next day there are already new rumors, and this time he is aware of them almost immediately, adds a new word to his vocabulary because of them. The ideas, the new thoughts, they drown out his fellow students’ murmurs for the rest of the day, and he’s so lost in contemplation he doesn’t see their sidelong glances. The entire school is in quiet uproar about his sex life, but around every corner he looks for one face and one face only, disappointed every time he doesn’t see it.

That night, using the password Scorpius was not supposed to give him, Albus sneaks up to Scorpius’ dorm with practiced ease and through the closed curtains of his bed. How often has he done this, or Scorpius snuck into his bed, to talk and play games in all childish innocence?

Scorpius is awake, and rolls over, eyes wide. “What are—”

“Do you love me?” Albus whispers, silencing his friend.

Scorpius sighs and rolls on his back, covering his eyes. “Albus, I don’t know what you’re playing at, but you need to get out of here.”

“I heard some of the others talking about us. They say we’re gay. I never thought about it before, but you’re my best friend, and the way you reacted….”

“You never thought—” Scorpius laughs, a breathy, hysterical sound, “of course you wouldn’t think about it. Of course.” Albus frowns, unsure of what Scorpius means by that. “Just go to bed, Albus.”

Scorpius hasn’t answered his question, so Albus does the only thing he knows to do; Albus leans in and kisses Scorpius the way he kissed the girl in the shadowed room. This could destroy them, break them to pieces that can never be repaired, but Albus doesn’t think of that. All he can think of are the words spoken, how Scorpius has always been there, always so beautiful, and how now that their lips touch he understands. There is fire, a fire so potent and hot it makes what he felt with the nameless girl into nothing more than half-damp coals.

Scorpius does not pull away. At first he does nothing, but then his mouth opens, inviting Albus in further, and then his arms come around Albus to pull him closer and then they are so close it’s as though they are one being.

They don’t do everything in one night. Mostly, this first time, they simply explore, careful to be quiet, ever mindful of the other boys sleeping in beds all around. Neither of them think to attempt Silencio, but it is difficult to be quiet when Scorpius touches him, kisses him, and he’s burning.


~~**~~**~~**~~Requirement~~**~~**~~**~~


Flash. The burning has lasted without regard to others for nearly three months, during which time Albus and Scorpius have an advantage over the other teens looking for private places. Not only are they aware of the stories about Dumbledore’s Army and the Room of Requirement, they have Albus’ knowledge of how to enter it, passed down from father and mother. Mostly mother; Albus’ father dislikes speaking about those times.

The Room is, as promised, exactly what they require to further their exploration of each other in complete privacy. If the Headmistress ever considered posting guards or attempting to keep students from the Room, she doesn’t now, and the Room—indeed, it seems Hogwarts itself—is all too willing to provide them shelter for their experiments. At least once there are ropes available, and other things they have only vaguely been aware of as sexual implements, with bruises and bites involved, only in places that can’t be seen come morning. More often than not, they take a change of clothing with them, and emerge for classes directly from their secret bower.

Yet, they are not a secret.

Albus figures the entire school knows anyway, why bother to hide? He loves Scorpius, and knows Scorpius loves him, and sees no reason to hide their feelings. Kisses in corridors, hands held on the way to classes, notes flown across the Great Hall during mealtimes, they all announce to Hogwarts exactly what Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy are to each other.

Scorpius is afraid of his father finding out.

“How could he find out?” Albus asks one night as they curl together leg to leg and heart to heart. “He’s miles away. Nowhere near us. And if he did, so what? You could come live with me. We’d always be together, then.”

Life mirrors itself, again and again, in an infinite cycle. The circle never stops, the wheel never ceases.

“It’s not so easy,” Scorpius murmurs, but Albus stops him from further comment with a touch and a kiss. If it isn’t so easy, he will make it easy. Scorpius is his, always and forever.


~~**~~**~~**~~Fathers~~**~~**~~**~~


Flash. Scorpius is almost sixteen, and his father knows.

From what Albus can gather, it was another student who wrote her parents, and the parents who contacted Mr. Malfoy. He and Albus’ father are having a row in the dining room.

“—your fault, Potter, he’s your son!”

“It’s not my fault if this is what Albus is, or wants. Have you thought about what Scorpius wants?”

A bang, and a crash: hands on the wooden table and the vase falling over. “Scorpius is impressionable. He doesn’t know what he wants, and your son corrupted him!”

A pause. Albus is not far from the dining room door, standing on the other side of the wall, staring across the room listening to Mr. Malfoy talk about his son as though Scorpius is a mindless drone. His father, enemies with Mr. Malfoy since their own Hogwarts days, is quiet a long time.

“You shouldn’t talk about your own son that way, Draco,” he finally says, voice so quiet Albus can barely hear him. “I suspect he knows his mind and heart better than you do. And you know more than most people what happens when a father influences his son too much.”

Mr. Malfoy doesn’t stay long after that.

When he is gone, Albus’ father emerges from the dining room, puts a hand on his shoulder, leading him to the sitting room, and sits him in a chair. The man with the lightening-shaped scar sits across from his son, nothing more pressing than concern on his features. He is not angry, nor is he judging.

“How long have you and Scorpius been… ah… together?”

Albus has to consider this a moment, because he hasn’t been keeping track. “Almost six months.”

“I see.” His father leans so his elbows rest on his knees, and there’s the tired look in his eyes, settled in the lines on his face, that Albus knows only too well. He’s sick of that look, he wishes his father could find another expression. “You didn’t try to keep it a secret.”

Albus shrugs. “Why should we?”

His father smiles a faint smile that does nothing for that tired old expression. “I’m glad you think so, but not everyone does. You didn’t think Scorpius’ father would find out, or that he’d have something to say about it?”

“Didn’t care. Still don’t. I’m not ashamed of him.”

“Caring for another person means you have to care about this sort of thing, Albus. Scorpius’ father is going to make life very rough for him now. I understand you’re not ashamed, but what’s best for you isn’t always best for everyone.” His father’s eyes are worried behind their lenses, and Albus resents that worry. “Do you understand?”

“Yeah,” he says, mostly to shut him up. Everything will be fine. He knows it will be fine, because he loves Scorpius and Scorpius loves him, and if he has to drag his pale beauty home from Hogwarts in his trunk, then that is what he has to do.

People try to make things far too complicated, when they’re actually very easy.


~~**~~**~~**~~Accident~~**~~**~~**~~


There is a student who does not return to Hogwarts after break. The big-mouthed git takes a fall and finds herself with a broken neck just before start of term. How sad.



~~**~~**~~**~~Graduation~~**~~**~~**~~


Flash, they are seventeen, it’s graduation for them, their parents and siblings in attendance. If there is any confusion remaining in the minds of anyone present, it’s erased in a second when Albus kisses Scorpius in front of the entire graduating class and all the parents.

Scorpius’ father gets up and walks away. Mrs. Malfoy hesitates, then follows, turning her back on her son as surely as her husband.

“Don’t worry about it,” Albus whispers in Scorpius’ ear. “Bugger ‘em. You have me.”



~~**~~**~~**~~A Terrible Thing~~**~~**~~**~~


The flashes come in steady beats, the flash of dozens of cameras this time, as the reporters and their lackeys try to photograph him. Albus Severus Potter, the only surviving child of Harry Potter. They are shouting at him as he is escorted through the halls of the Ministry by Uncle Ron, away from the Aurors offering condolences. Terrible thing, of course, terrible, always a terrible thing when an Auror’s work comes home. Worse when it comes home to bite him, and their children are involved.

Albus is nearly eighteen, and has been dragged home from his European trip.

They are all dead: his father, his mother, his brother James and sister Lily. How appropriate that the Boy-Who-Lived to defeat Voldemort was felled by another Dark Wizard, and that the children named for his murdered parents would then be murdered in turn. Always another Dark Wizard, isn’t there?

Life mirrors itself, again and again, in an infinite cycle. The circle never stops, the wheel never ceases.

Albus does not intend to be stupid, or to meet the same fate as his namesakes.



~~**~~**~~**~~Questions~~**~~**~~**~~


Somewhere in the time that must be the present, Scorpius asks him, “Did you ever really love me?”

Sitting in this dark, dank place, waiting for death to come, Albus smiles. “Don’t ask stupid questions. Of course I did.”

Reaching across the memories of days that must be the past, Scorpius asks him, “Do you still love me?”

Albus sees how Scorpius shines against the dark, a bit of moonlight in midnight. To say he is an angel would not only be cliché, it would be inaccurate. “I said don’t ask stupid questions.”

Head slightly tilted, blocking Albus’ view of days to come, Scorpius asks him, “Am I going to die here with you?”

Albus has nothing to say to that.




~~**~~**~~**~~Death~~**~~**~~**~~


Flash. Scorpius’ father is dead.

They’ve been living together since the moment the storm from the Potters’ murders died down. Adults, wizards in their own rights, no one can stop them and only Scorpius’ father tried. Now he’s dead and gone and won’t trouble them any longer. Neither of them are very unhappy.

Well, Albus is not unhappy.

Scorpius has been red-eyed for three days now, and only shakes his head when Albus asks him why he’s so upset. “I can’t explain it to you, Albus. I know he wasn’t the best person, but he was still my father. Don’t you miss your father?”

Albus doesn’t, but thinks saying so would be imprudent. He’s been the grieving son for too long, but it is expected of him so he will continue to play the part until it no longer suits.

“Of course,” he says from the tall stool where he perches, “but I don’t obsess over it every minute. I’d go crazy if I did, and I’m worried that’s what will happen to you.” He reaches to take Scorpius’ waist and pull him closer, between his legs. “I’m worried. You’re going to have to start going through his things soon, considering your mother isn’t likely to emerge from her hysterics long enough to do it.”

Sighing, Scorpius leaned his forehead on Albus’ chest. “I know. I’ll get to it, I promise. Just not today.”

“All right,” Albus says, wishing Scorpius would move on, already. He is beginning to remind Albus of his own dead father with his lined face and sorrowful eyes. Albus simply doesn’t have the patience for such dramatics, though tolerating it in Scorpius is easier than it was with his father.

Scorpius’ head shifts, allowing Albus to draw him closer, but only for a moment because the next Albus knows, Scorpius has pulled away and stepped closer to the kitchen counter and the book lying open there. Albus winces, knowing what his lover is going to see and knowing what he will say; he’d hoped not to get caught reading this particular tome.

“What is this? Albus, where did you even get this book?”

A shrug, his usual response to such questions, where he either does not know the answer or does not care to give a full one. “I have friends.”

“Friends who give you proscribed books? I won’t get to read this until my very last month of training, and then only as an introduction to the theory of these spells and how they might be used against me.” Albus’ little Auror-in-training was flushed bright pink now, not with embarrassment or grief, but with anger, and passion, just the way Albus liked him best. “These are just under Unforgiveables, and in my opinion some of them should be added to the list—Albus why are you grinning?

He grins because he can’t help it, not when Scorpius goes on a rant the way he does, touting Ministry law.

“I’m sorry, I can’t help it. You’re so cute when you’re mad at me.”

Scorpius’ flush is only partly anger now, so Albus pulls him closer to make certain he stays quiet with a kiss.


~~**~~**~~**~~Friends~~**~~**~~**~~


Years flash by in sequence, quick as a changing life, and before Albus is ready he looks up and Scorpius is a full Auror. Some perverse part of him is proud of his lover for working so hard and achieving his dream, even if that dream runs counter to Albus’ own.

For his part, Albus keeps his studies even more secret than usual. Not that he believes Scorpius could ever find out, but he would rather not risk the confrontation that would certainly erupt should Scorpius know of his plans. More, Albus has no wish to put himself or Scorpius to the test. Sometimes he wonders why he ever encouraged Scorpius’ unhealthy desire to join the Aurors, but it’s done now, and can’t be undone.

Carefully, he hides all his materials at other people’s homes, where he also practices, and meets others of the same mindset as himself, most of them his age or younger. There are a few of older generations, but not many. Most of them are wary, anyway.

Over time, working in secret, careful not to reveal anything other than a kind smile to anyone, his skill progresses and his reputation spreads among those of the underground. According to the plan that has been formulating since his time at Hogwarts, Albus becomes a leader, guiding others to magics he feels worthy of discussion and study, toward ideas his father would have been shocked to know occupied his son. Albus has been planning this since the first time he saw the lines on his father’s face and did not think him a hero.

Those who think themselves his friends are really only tools toward his progress. Often, he wonders if this were anything like the life of the self-proclaimed Dark Lord who had ultimately been laid low by his father.

Well, that one hadn’t had Scorpius, and Albus can do anything as long as he has Scorpius. One day, he will convince Scorpius to follow him, and then he will be unstoppable.

Even if some of his “friends” are morons.

He wants to murder the idiot who comes to his home seeking guidance. He can’t, he must act gracious and accepting, he must invite the half-wit inside and offer something to drink and whatever help he can. Especially as it seems this particular man has begun to waver in his resolve, and Albus can’t have that. Therefore, though he knows he shouldn’t take the time, Albus sits with the idiot to talk him back around to the proper mindset and ideals.

It’s like a badly written story when the door opens in the middle of his conversation and Scorpius walks through, a good four hours earlier than expected.

“Albus?” he says, standing in the doorway to the sitting room, looking dangerously close to the way he did years ago when he walked in on Albus with the now nameless girl. Like he’s going to run, to cry, and lament. “I finished all my paperwork, had nothing else to do, so I thought I’d come home and surprise you.” There is a gift in his hand, and his voice is low and hollow.

“Good,” Albus replies, careful to smile his most innocent of smiles. “Bernard was just leaving.”

The man, whose name is not Bernard, starts a bit, but catches on mercifully quick. In moments, Albus has him out the door, and returns to his lover, taking the gift with a kiss.

“Who was that?”

“I told you, Bernard.” This isn’t going well, Albus knows he must think quickly, something he has done many times before in his pursuit of power, but never against Scorpius. “You remember, I met him in Europe, he introduced me to his wife.” When Scorpius’ expression remains wary, Albus sighs and rolls his eyes. “Oh come on, you have to remember, they were newlyweds then, he had too much to drink one night at a pub in Paris and she had to drag him back to the hotel room with a broken hand from where he punched some idiot who flirted with her.”

In increments, Scorpius’ brows come together, turning his expression from blank to confused. “Of course,” he finally says, as faint as faith, and Albus knows he hasn’t exactly won.


~~**~~**~~**~~Endings~~**~~**~~**~~


So many flashes, so many internal snapshots of his life, past but just as clear as yesterday. More so, when he considers that he can’t remember what he had for breakfast yesterday.

Albus knows the end is near, but will not do anything about it. He will not be the one to end this, cannot bring himself to speak the words or to do what needs doing.

Scorpius is quiet. Scorpius is thoughtful, and he is confused. They rarely speak anymore, because Albus is busy with things he does not and cannot explain to his lover, and because Scorpius is an Auror who would have to act on the truth if he knew it for certain, so he does not look, not even when he hears the whispers of a new Dark wizard rising. Neither will leave, because neither will let go of the other.

They cling, two men who know they are drowning but simply cannot let go of the thing that drags them deeper.

When the end comes in all its filthy glory, there will be blood and regrets. Albus knows this, because life repeats itself, again and again, in an infinite cycle. The circle never stops, the wheel never ceases.


~~**~~**~~**~~**~~**~~**~~**~~**~~**~~


Healer Daws turned the page, only to find the next one blank, and the one after that until the end. The circle never stops, but Albus Potter’s writing days certainly had. However, she still couldn’t figure out exactly why the Auror involved in the Potter-Malfoy investigation had given her Potter’s journal and told her to read it. Didn’t that violate some ethical Auror code about preserving evidence? Whatever he was trying to tell her, he’d have to do better than this.

Still, the reading had been interesting. Elena Daws tapped the nail of one finger against Potter’s closed journal, pondering his words, and how reading them seemed to bring the memories to life. For a moment there she almost believed herself to be Albus Severus Potter, and to be honest it was not a comfortable feeling. His sociopathy was quite clear, and Daws had no desire to understand or sympathize with a sociopathic mind. Especially if it were the result of some spell he’d placed on his journal. One would think the damn Aurors would have checked the thing for Dark magic before doing anything else with it, especially giving it to a Healer unequipped to handle such things. So she tried not to worry too much about it.

If you didn’t want to spend your time inside the heads of sociopaths, you shouldn’t have transferred to the psychiatric wing.

Feeling her lips form a wry purse, Daws turned her attention to the other concern of the day, The Daily Prophet, namely the headline splashed across the front with that damnable Skeeter woman’s byline: Murder, Mayhem, and Dark Magic! The Potter Legacy Revealed! Good Merlin, it sounded like an article in Witch Weekly or some such, or the title of one of her sordid “tell-all” books rather than a news headline. Who was Chief Editor at the Prophet these days?

Well, even if the article were mostly rubbish, perhaps it could help. Who knew, Rita Skeeter might actually do some good before she died, hopefully soon.

Daws snatched up the journal and the paper both and headed out of her office and down the hall toward the elevator leading to the patient rooms. She didn’t need the patient’s chart; in the weeks since he’d been in residence she’d memorized every line.

Out of the elevator, to the right, seventh door on the left, her patient had one of only three private rooms, paid for by his substantial family wealth. Within, decorated with myriad personal items the other patients were not allowed to have, though none of those items were sharp, and none of them was a wand. Daws suspected that no matter what happened, this patient’s magic-casting days were over.

She stopped outside the door, first peering inside the window to observe for a few moments. There he sat on his bed, looking intently at the wall across the room and talking furiously to no one. Not unusual for him, nor for anyone else in this wing of St. Mungo’s, but he worried her more for the subject of his conversation, and his imaginary companion. Daws sighed and, with the newspaper and journal clutched to her so he couldn’t see them, knocked on the door and entered.

“I said don’t ask stupid questions,” her patient said as she stepped inside, his eyes locked on the wall. Daws cleared her throat. Looking at her, he scowled. “You’re back again,” With the words, he pinned her with a glare that might’ve melted the courage right out of her if she didn’t know the truth about him.

She sat in one of the plush chairs kept in here for his comfort, though he never used it. Most of the time he didn’t even know it was there. “I’m a little early, but you can forgive me that, I’m sure.” A scowl was his only response as he looked away, and Daws felt a sigh rise that she did not allow to escape. It wouldn’t be very professional. “Were you talking to Scorpius again?” Her patient gave her a glance, but his silence clearly told her he considered it none of her damn business. This would be one of the harder days. “Can you tell me where you are?”

“I don’t know why you’re talking to me,” he said, hunched over on his bed with his arms crossed over his stomach, shivering. Amazing, what the mind could convince the body it experienced.

Patient exhibiting physical symptoms of incarceration.

Patient exhibits signs of physical illness despite being healthy.

Patient exhibiting symptoms of Dementor exposure despite having no contact with Dementors.

It remains unknown why the patient has chosen this particular delusion with which to shield himself from the outside world.


There were myriad notes written in his file along the same lines. No matter how many times she told him otherwise, this man believed himself locked in Azkaban. Certainly there were things he’d done he should be in Azkaban for—or rather, that he hadn’t done—but as long as he belonged in St. Mungo’s instead, he would never see the inside of any prison.

And good Merlin, Dementors haven’t been at Azkaban since before he was born.

“I have something for you,” she said after a moment of contemplation. “I thought you might enjoy seeing some news of the outside. I don’t know if anyone told you, but Scorpius made the Prophet today.”

Interest lighted in him for the first time. Good, because Scorpius Malfoy certainly had made the Prophet today, and it would either cure him of this delusion or break his mind completely. She held the newspaper out in one hand, and after a wary hesitation he reached to take it from her.

On reading the headline, his mouth twitched. Daws could interpret the emotion as amusement only because she’d read Potter’s journal. Interesting, that it should surface here, and now.

Then his eyes trailed down the page, reading the rest of the story, and as the words Skeeter wrote soaked in, she saw his eyebrows come together and the denial already blooming in his gray eyes. “Read it again,” she said, low and firm, willing him to obey. He did, though holding the paper far from him as though to throw it and all it meant as far from him as possible. “You can’t throw it away, Scorpius. This is the truth.”

“Don’t call me that!”

“It’s your name. Scorpius Mal—”

“No it isn’t!” His voice rose to a screech, defensive in the face of all his illusions crumbling around him. “My name is Albus Severus Potter, I’m the son of Harry Potter, his only living son!”

“And what do you think of your father, Albus?” Daws asked quietly, not giving up, not at all, only turning to a page in Potter’s journal she’d earmarked for this purpose.

The blond man hunched on the bed looked up at her with a light in his eyes so reverent, she thought he really had wanted Harry Potter to be his father instead of the one he’d had. “He was a hero. Everyone knows that, my father was a hero, and a good man. He always supported my relationship with Scorpius. I loved him very much.”

“‘I hate my father,’” Daws read from the page. “‘I hate his green eyes, I hate his scar, I hate the way people look at him as though he’s some sort of god.’ Whose journal is this?” she asked her patient, who gaped at her. “This is Albus’ journal, Scorpius. This is what Albus thought of his father.”

“N-No, I—”

Without mercy, Daws lifted the journal from her lap to read again. “‘When he looks at me and his eyes are sad, I want to gouge them out with one of the kitchen knives.’”

“NO!”

Scorpius lunged at her, and for a moment she berated herself for forgetting he was dangerous, if he weren't insane he’d have been locked away for Dark wizardry, which he hadn’t done, and for murder, which he had. But all he wanted was the journal, which he snatched from her hands and began to leaf through the pages. “It’s a trick, a trick, I didn’t write any of this.”

“You didn’t, but Albus did. He hated his whole family, for reasons we’ll never know now.”

“I didn’t….”

“No, you loved your family even when they were cruel to you.” Daws nodded her head in the direction of the book in his hands. “Albus wrote of you often, and how annoying your devotion to family was, especially after your father tried to break the two of you apart. But you still loved your father.”

“Yes.” A whisper, just the barest of whispers, but enough. Scorpius ran his fingers down one of the pages, as though stroking the skin of a lover. His lover, who had written the words.

“Is that why you killed Albus? Because he killed your father?”

She expected another outburst, but those seemed to be over for the day. Instead, deflated, Scorpius shook his head, sitting on the floor turned slightly from her so she couldn’t see his expression. Nor did he answer her verbally. Daws waited, but he only sat there, reading, turning the pages. To her, it seemed as though he soaked up every word Albus had written, even the vicious ones, and there were plenty of vicious words in that journal.

It was a mistake, giving that to him. He’ll just use it to fuel his delusion and you’ll never be able to crack it.

Maybe she didn’t want to crack it, though. Watching him, having studied and researched Scorpius and Albus Potter over the six and a half weeks Scorpius had been in St. Mungo’s custody, she had come to know many things about the both of them and the people surrounding them.

Albus Severus Potter had been a sociopath on the road to becoming another Dark Lord.

Harry Potter had been a compassionate man undeserving of the son who ultimately murdered him.

Draco Malfoy had not been nearly as compassionate, which was his downfall in the end.

Most of all, Scorpius Malfoy was a rare man, closer in nature to Albus’ father than his own, honorable to a fault and wounded deeply when he broke his own code of honor even through necessity. What might Albus have done if Scorpius hadn’t stopped him? That, she thought, was why Scorpius was here and not in Azkaban. She didn’t understand all the details to the method of his madness, but she knew it was there to keep him from comprehending exactly how far his lover had forced him to break.

This, everything about what she was doing, it was not good psychology. But he was better off here, not in prison, where he convinced himself he was most of the time, and where he would be treated like a criminal even though what he’d done saved everyone.

We can’t reveal this, Healer Daws. If the community knew that Harry Potter’s own son was… well, it wouldn’t be good. No one must know.

So, instead of reveal the truth, the Aurors would rather throw one of their own away.

How long until they collected her notes and Scorpius’ chart for destruction? How long until someone tried to force her to pronounce him fit to face trial? Allowing Scorpius to lose himself in delusion seemed the only way to protect him, and she did find herself wanting to protect him. The most honorable man she’d ever known sat on the floor in front of her lovingly stroking a journal, and she wanted to make sure no one would hurt him the way his lover had, ever again.

He looked up at her, smiled a beatific smile, and said, “Thank you.”

Daws smiled back at him, rising from her seat. What he thanked her for, exactly, she didn’t know, but she nodded and left him alone with the journal anyway, taking the newspaper with her.

Allowing this now, she’d never be able to straighten it out later. This was a mistake, a very big mistake.

Ahead, she could see an Auror waiting for her. Weasley, she thought it was, the one who’d given her the journal to begin with. Somehow, she didn’t think she’d used it the way he intended; he’d probably be quite angry with her. Then again, he had personal interest in everyone involved in the case. Maybe he would be angry, maybe he wouldn’t.

Elena Daws found she didn’t much care what he thought of her. Scorpius’ smile was worth whatever Weasley could put her through.

As she approached the Auror and took in the shadows under his eyes, she thought, completely without reason: the circle never stops, the wheel never ceases.


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