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12 pm. Friday, July 13th, 2029.

Scorpius Malfoy folded the day’s Prophet over in his hands, scanning the headlines. Lysander Scamander stood across the room, preparing tea for the morning.

“Things have been quiet at work lately,” Scorpius said aloud. The Auror office hadn’t dealt with any major cases in quite some time.

“Is that good or bad?” Lysander slid into the chair opposite Scorpius.

“Mostly good. Just a little boring,” he shrugged.

They sat in a comfortable silence for a while after that, only interrupted by a soft rap on the window.

Scorpius hopped out of his seat, letting Ginsberg, Albus’ owl inside. He opened the letter he brought and read silently.

Scorsander (Lypius?)

Destiny’s been invited to a party in her honor held by some literary association and it’s all expense paid. You guys wanna come?

Just kidding, of course you do, you’d never pass up a chance to hang out with yours truly. You have an hour to get ready before we Floo over. See you soon!

Al

Scorpius passed the letter to Lysander for him to read himself. Once done, he looked up and asked, “Do you think he factored in the time it’d take Ginsberg to get here into that hour?”

“That would be ridiculous,” said Scorpius. “So, yes. He’ll be here on the dot.”

11 pm. Friday, July 13th, 2029.

The four friends had taken the Floo back to Scorpius and Lysander’s flat, where they now sat discussing the events of the day.

“You know--I was wondering why a literary association wanted to honor me. I’ve got one self published book that’s sold under a hundred copies,” said Destiny.

Al threw an arm around her. “But it’s a damn good book! Fuck sales, you deserve to be honored.”

“I agree, it was a damn good book,” Scorpius offered.

Destiny was surprised. “You read it?”

“There’s no way Al would let us get away with not reading your first book,” Lysander laughed.

“Everyone’s read it,” Al shrugged. “Except James, but he says he’s getting around to it.”

“You know how busy he is.” Lysander’s tone was sarcastic.

“Yeah, do you have any idea how many Knockturn Alley parties he gets invited to weekly?” asked Scorpius.

“He’s simply got to make an appearance.” Lysander grinned.

“Speaking of--has anyone told James about all this yet?” asked Destiny.

“No,” said Albus. “Anyone contact Rose?”

“Don’t think so,” replied Lysander. “She’s going to kill us for not telling her right away.”

Albus nodded in agreement. “At least she won’t be mad we didn’t invite her.”

“You know, we’re probably going to have to have a serious discussion about what happened tonight at some point,” said Scorpius.

“We will, we will,” Albus agreed. “But not right now. Right now, let’s just be glad we’re alive.”

1 pm. Friday, July 13th, 2029.

Albus Potter stepped out of the fireplace into his best friends’ flat, beaming.

“Guys this party is going to be awesome.”

“Where is it?” asked Lysander.

“The middle of nowhere,” Al replied as Destiny walked into the room behind him.

“Hey Destiny,” said Scorpius.

“There’s only one Floo in the entire town,” Al laughed.

“Their town hall is the only building with it apparently,” shrugged Destiny, before adding, “Hi Scorpius.”

“This will definitely be a different experience.” Lysander was amused by the seemingly off-the-grid town.

One by one, the group made their way into the Floo, shouting out “Huxley Town Hall!”

They ended up in a very large, grandiose atrium. A flamboyant golden chandelier hung from the vaulted ceiling. An escort awaited them, clad in dress robes. He ushered them out of the hall and onto the sole road in Huxley. Their destination was fairly clear. All along the road there were small buildings, presumably inhabited by townspeople, but the main attraction was directly ahead of them.

At the top of the uppermost hill of the town stood a manor fit for a king.

“Scorpius, is this your family’s vacation home?” whispered Lysander.

“Bigger.” Scorpius breathed.

Upon entering the building, the group is greeted by another wizard. He wore dark robes, staring at them unblinkingly.

“Hello,” his voice cracked. “Welcome to the headquarters of the Helmholtz Literary Association. I will show you to your rooms and will retrieve you for dinner as well.”

They made their way upstairs, passing by scores of people rushing in all directions, most likely in preparation for the group’s arrival. After Scorpius and Lysander explained that they’d like to be placed in the same room, they were all able to get settled and unpacked.

10 pm. Friday, July 13th, 2029.

Once outside, Scorpius sent a Patronus directly to Harry, knowing that the Ministry would be empty at that time. It didn’t take long for a team of Aurors to storm the place.

Leading the team was Scorpius’ Senior Auror himself, Justin Finch-Fletchley.

“Sir, I’ll go back in with all of you,” said Scorpius. “I know a thing or two about that place. It’s an incredibly complex maze.”

Justin examined the funny way Scorpius was standing on his right leg and the clear strain on all of their faces.

“I think you’ve been through enough today, Malfoy. Be with your friends,” he said. “We’ll figure this place out.”

Scorpius nodded. “There’s still a lot of ‘literary association’ members in there and, of course, she’s still there too.”

Just as they prepared to leave, Lysander remembered something the Auror’s should know. “The painting likes to be tickled.”

2 pm. Friday, July 13th, 2029.

Scorpius sat on the bed, watching Lysander unpacking his trunk. “Something’s weird about this place.”

“What do you mean?” asked Lysander without looking up.

“I mean, everything’s just kind of eerie looking,” he said. “This town gives me a strange feeling.”

Lysander climbed onto the bed and held Scorpius’ hand. “Have I ever told you that you worry too much?”

Scorpius rolled his eyes. “Only every day.”

“It’s true every day.”

“I can’t help it,” he said. “I was trained to see danger around every corner.”

“That job stresses you out too much, Scor.”

“It kind of comes with the career,” he shrugged.

Lysander kissed him softly. “I know.”

“How have you been doing?” Scorpius looked his boyfriend once over.

“Serving sizes are still difficult, but variety is definitely improving. I haven’t eaten so many different kinds of foods since...Hogwarts.”

Scorpius held Lysander’s hand tightly, a look of admiration sweeping his face. “You’re so incredible. You know that, right?”

“Of course I know that. Haven’t I always been?” he laughed.

“And humble too.”

“Aw, being humble’s boring,” said Lysander. “Besides, I hate to lie.”

Scorpius lay in Lysander’s lap and said, “No one’s ever accused you of being boring, that’s for sure.”

“And if they did, I’d tell them that my boyfriend’s an Auror and gets one totally legal free kill.”

“You do know that’s not true, right?”

“Yeah, but they might not.”

9 pm. Friday, July 13th, 2029.

The group turned yet another corner in the labyrinth they found themselves in, growing fatigued. Destiny scanned the walls with her eyes. “Wait, isn’t this where our rooms were?”

Albus peeked inside of one of the doors. “I think so! This looks the exact same!”

“We can’t be fair from the entrance then!” Destiny was jumping up and down now.

“This could be another trap,” Lysander frowned.

“Do any of you remember which way we came from when we first got here?” Scorpius searched his surroundings for some identifiable difference between the separate directions.

“I’d say that way, but I can’t be sure.” Destiny pointed down the corridor to her right.

“We might as well give it a try,” said Scorpius. “We don’t even have too many clues to work with.”

They began walking in the general direction they’d agreed upon and, for a while, did not see any change in their surroundings. They seemed to be passing the same recurring set of doors and the same unadorned walls as ever. Just as they began to suspect they were still stuck in the unending loop they’d been in for hours, they turned into the next corridor.

At the end of the corridor was a staircase. None of the four had ever been so excited to see anything in their lives. In their exhilaration, Albus, Lysander and Destiny almost ran straight downstairs as fast as their legs would carry them.

Scorpius quickly held a hand up, hushing them as he crept toward the banister. Peering over it, he spied three association members pacing in the main hall. “They’re on guard duty down there unless we somehow got out of this mess.”

He scrutinized the hall, looking for a plan. “Do you think the old ‘collapse the chandelier’ trick is too clique?”

“Absolutely not,” said Lysander. “That’s a classic.”

Having arranged into their positions, ready to ambush the men downstairs, the group gripped their wands tightly.

Three.

Two.

One.

Scorpius shot a spell at the chandelier, collapsing it over the head’s of the men. Two of them dove out of the way in time to escape, but one of them was less lucky. His leg was pinned to the ground by the heavy gold ornament, rendering him a sitting duck for Lysander’s stunning spell.

One of their spells struck the banister, blowing Scorpius backward and bashing his head against the wall. Destiny ducked a curse as she ran toward the two remaining men with unexpected nerve. Hexes filled the air, both sides throwing everything they had at each other. Albus and Lysander sent one of them flying into the air with the combined force of their offensive attack.

Destiny hit the other with a well aimed Bat-Bogey Hex. He writhed in pain as his nostrils stretched to accommodate the sudden surge in population of winged creatures. His mouth hung open in a silent scream; terror evident in his eyes.

“She’s been talking to Ginny, hasn’t she?” laughed Lysander.

Scorpius had shaken off his injuries by this time, shocked to see that his friends had made quick work of the guards.

“Let’s get out of here,” he said, rushing them out of the door.

3 pm. Friday, July 13th, 2029.

“Scorpius! Lysander!”

Scorpius opened the door in response to the frantic calls. “Destiny? What’s up?”

“Al’s gone! I was in the bathroom and I got back and he was gone!” she cried.

“Maybe he’s just gone off somewhere?” suggested Lysander.

“He hasn’t responded to any of my Patronuses,” she said.

Scorpius waved Lysander over toward the door. “Come on, we’re going to find him.”

“Are you thinking the worst?”

He nodded in response. “I’ve had a bad feeling about this place since we got here.”

8 pm. Friday, July 13th, 2029.

Albus dragged his feet as they continued through the hallways, searching for a way out of the mess they found themselves in. “How long have we been walking around this place?”

“Forever.” Lysander sounded weary.

“I don’t—” started Albus as he turned the corner. “Wait. Is that a window?”

“Shit, it is!” Lysander’s jaw dropped.

“We’re only on the second floor,” said Scorpius. “I could conjure something to get us down there.”

“This is definitely the best way out of here,” agreed Destiny.

Without further ado, Scorpius took a step back and fired a spell at the glass. “Confringo!”

He frowned at their escape route. “I don’t feel a breeze.”

Reaching out, he cautiously stuck his hand further into the night until, to his surprise, his fingers came into contact with something completely solid. He felt around on the invisible barrier for a few seconds before coming to a conclusion. “This is a wall charmed to look like the outside.”

Albus’ eyes narrowed. “What is the functional purpose of that?”

“Don’t you get it!” screamed Lysander. “This place isn’t just supposed to be impossible to escape. It’s meant to drive us insane.”

He sat down, holding his head in his arms. “I give up. I’m tired and we’re never finding a way out of this place.”

Scorpius walked over and sat next to him. “Lysander…”

“Scorpius, I’m so scared.” His tear-stained face reflected the hopelessness of their situation.

“I know. We all are.” Scorpius spoke softly. “We’ve got to go. The faster we get going the faster we’ll be out of this place.”

“You’re right,” he choked out. “Let’s get the fuck out of here.”

4 pm. Friday, July 13th, 2029.

They’d been walking through the twisting halls for some time before finally, Lysander asked, “Do you think it’s likely this building has been charmed to look smaller from the outside?”

“Smaller? It looked gigantic,” said Destiny.

“Gigantic, but not ‘walk around in circles for over half an hour’ gigantic,” he replied.

“Lysander, I think you might be right,” Scorpius agreed. “I don’t even know where we are in relation to where we started walking.”

“I could send another Patronus?” Destiny offered.

“It wouldn’t hurt to give it a try,” said Scorpius. “Although, something tells me they aren’t reaching him.”

“Can you do that? Is it possible to restrict talking Patronuses?” asked Lysander.

Scorpius led them down yet another long corridor. “Not that I know of. It could have been created here.”

At the end of the corridor they came across a single door. Reaching out, Scorpius said, “Let’s see what’s in here.”

Inside the door was a winding road of cobblestones, leading to a massive, fearsome gargoyle. But that was not what made the three friends gasp. The truly frightening part was when their eyes caught on to the fact that the other side of the door was no longer within the bounds of the manor.

Indeed, the sky was visible on the other side of the threshold, as well as grass and other plants flourishing in the summer sun.

Scorpius gathered his thoughts after closing the door. “So, I take it this door is like a vanishing cabinet.”

“Are you saying this is a portal?” asked Lysander. “Even as a wizard, that’s pretty weird.”

Destiny wondered, “Where do you think it leads to?”

“I have no idea, but I don’t think this sort of thing will make our search any easier,” Scorpius frowned.

“This is not good.” Lysander paced back and forth.

Scorpius ran his hands through his hair. “I don’t think this is a literary association.”

7 pm. Friday, July 13th, 2029.

“Stay behind me, there could be dozens of them right outside.” Scorpius cautiously pushed open the portrait they’d previously entered in through. Peering out, he waved the others on behind him.

While Lysander stepped out, Destiny and Albus lagged behind.

“How much of the castle have you seen?” she asked.

“Not much,” Albus said, making his way through the portrait hole.

Destiny decided to break the news to him. “We don’t know where the exit is.”

“What do you mean you don’t know? How hard can it be to find?”

“Really, really hard mate,” Scorpius interjected. “There’s some ridiculously complex magic at work here.”

Albus paused for a moment, before asking, “Who were the men who kidnapped me?”

“We’re still working on figuring that out,” shrugged Lysander.

“I wonder if they were hired wands,” Albus said.

Destiny squinted her eyes in confusion. “Hired wands?”

“You know--assassins, mercenaries and the like,” Albus explained.

Lysander sighed. “That would not be ideal.”

5 pm. Friday, July 13th, 2029.

“I’m pretty sure we’ve opened every door in this place,” Lysander pointed out.

“Well, we can’t exactly quit and go home, can we?” asked Scorpius.

Destiny joined the conversation. “Do we even know how to get out of here?”

“No,” Scorpius shook his head. “I was thinking we’d figure that out once we found Al.”

“That’s as good a plan as any,” she shrugged.

They wandered through the twisted halls for what felt like days, finding themselves horribly lost. The doors and walls were unmarked and it soon became difficult to know whether they were walking in circles or progressing deeper into the manor. Each of them were beginning to panic, but they all thought against saying so out loud.

Eventually, they came to a door like any other. Scorpius opened it, prepared for something surprising after all the manor had thrown at him so far.

Inside sat no less than a dozen members of the supposed literary association, deep in strained conversation. There was a moment in which both parties simply gawked at one another, without a word being uttered.

Backing up slowly, Scorpius whispered, “Run.”

They took off as fast as they could without looking back. The heavy footsteps of the association members rung out behind them. The many winding hallways of the manor were working in their favor now that they were looking for some place to hide.

In their mad dash, they ran directly into a dead end. They’d found themselves staring at a portrait of a bearded man with a mischievous look in his eye, hoping that no one would happen to stumble past.

“Will you let us in?” asked Destiny.

The portrait did nothing but wink at them.

Lysander got an idea. “Maybe it’s like Hogwarts…”

He reached out and tickled the chin of the man, who burst into hearty laughter. “Okay, okay,” he sputtered. “I’ll let you in! I was going to anyway, everyone around here is so rude.”

6 pm. Friday, July 13th, 2029.

The painting opened to reveal a very long stretch that ended in a door. The group stepped inside, not having many other options to weigh against it. They slowly approached the door, making their way through the narrow corridor. With a measured hand, Scorpius pushed it open.

“Ah, I didn’t expect you to find me before my friends found you. Seems as though I underestimated you three.”

A middle aged woman stood before them, looking impressed. There was a desk between them, as if they were in some sort of office. And even stranger was the fact that Albus was here--and floating.

The woman followed our eyes to him. “Your friend Albus is mostly fine, don’t worry. I’ve got him under magical bounds; he hasn’t suddenly learned to fly.”

“What do you want with us!” Destiny’s voice echoed.

“I don’t want much with you. Although, your boyfriend bringing a Malfoy here was a nice treat,” she laughed. “I’m sure Draco will pay through the nose for his little boy.”

“I’m an Auror,” Scorpius growled.

“You’re a child,” she spat.

Scorpius studied the woman closely. He knew her from somewhere, but he couldn’t quite place it. And then it clicked. “I know who you are.”

“Ah, is that so?”

“You’re Pansy Parkinson.”

She clapped at his deduction. “You’re a sharp little guy.”

“Fuck you,” he said. “You’re going to Azkaban.”

She ignored him. “Do you know what I did to your friend Albus?”

“Shut up!” screamed Lysander.

“I tortured him for hours. The Cruciatus curse, just for fun. He’s tougher than he looks, I’ll give him—”

She’s interrupted by Destiny, who’d rushed forward and punched her square in the nose before she could react. Her body crumpled to the ground immediately.

“Holy shit, that was awesome,” said Lysander.

When Pansy lost consciousness, Albus fell to the ground, her magic losing effect. He stirred on the ground for a few seconds before shakily climbing to his feet. Destiny rushed over to him, making sure that he could stand under his own power. Once she was sure he was going to be okay, she kissed him like she never had before.




Author’s Note:

I’m not typically a writer of action-filled thrillers, but this idea just happened. It’s really campy and hopefully kind of fun :)

This fic exists in the ‘Your Life, Your Love’ universe, which includes the bulk of my recent stories.

The times do not signify that the following scene occurs directly on the hour, but rather during that hour at some point.

The town is named after Aldous Huxley, writer of Brave New World.

The ‘Helmholtz Literary Association’ was a shoutout to both a character from Brave New World and the physician and physicist Hermann von Helmholtz.

Albus’ owl was named after the poet Allen Ginsberg. (in story, even. he’s a fan)

I wrote the poem that comprises the second half of the chapter title.

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