The breeze was blowing cooly against Scorpius’ skin, ruffling the fringe of his hair as he lounged in the grass, his back pressed against the thick patch in the garden behind his family’s manor. His arms were spread wide, fingers in the dirt. It was a clear day, hence the reason for him lounging on his back, and he could feel every whisp of air, every ray of sun as it pressed against his pale skin. The clouds seemed to cruise by just as lazily as he lounged, eyes moving only when he felt a small nudge against his fingers. His gaze shifted to Albus, who was in the same position beside him, though one of his arms was pointing up at the sky, waving around in a circle as he gestured upwards.
“Looks like one of those spinning tops,” he surmised, his voice sounding almost dreamy.
Perhaps, though, it was just Scorpius’ own lazy haze, from a day spent doing nothing with his best friend. It was the summer break, with no schoolwork to keep them busy, and the promise of a great third year waiting on the horizon of the holidays. Doing nothing was their only priority, and Scorpius hummed as he looked at the cloud, there.
“Like that muggle toy you showed me last year?” Scorpius asked after a moment, grey eyes on the sky.
“Yeah, exactly,” Albus agreed. “Like an upside down triangle with the little control at the top.” His arm fell, ending in a line atop Scorpius’ arm. The blonde wizard turned his head to look back at his friend, his toothy grin wide. “D’you think your dad would’ve yelled if I’d brought some of them with me?”
Scorpius’ nose scrunched at the thought. “Probably. He’s not like your dad. He’s not as…”
Scorpius fell silent, his gaze lingering on Albus as he tried to figure out if that was the word he was looking for. It was certainly one that was on Albus’ mind, however, and Scorpius was well aware of why. It was in the last week that Albus had come out to his parents as being gay, and despite the fear and concern of not knowing what to expect, all the reaction had been positive, bearable, accepting. Scorpius’ lips lifted into a soft smile. He had been one of the first persons that Albus had told about his sexuality, when he had first begun to think it was the reason he’d had no interest in Sophie, the Slytherin in Rose’s dorm that had been trying to snog him for weeks. Scorpius didn’t really understand what it meant to be gay, but the fact that Albus was still the Albus he’d befriended in first year meant he had just shrugged his shoulders and moved on with it. He still had his friend, and that was all that mattered.
Though, admittedly, the concept of being gay had intrigued him -- and flickered in his mind musingly.
He rolled onto his side, and Albus followed suit. “So...do you, like, feel any different since you’ve...come out?”
Albus shook his head, his black untidy hair shaking. “No. Well, maybe just that I feel more aware. Less unsure. All this time I’ve been wondering what’s wrong...and, now, I realize nothing is wrong. I just understand who I am better. Kind of like when people figure out what they want to do when they grow up, or what flavor of sugar quills they prefer,” he added with a laugh, sitting up. Grass stained his shirt, but he didn’t care.
“That sounds like it’s how it should be,” Scorpius replied with his own laugh. “I wonder what it’s like to be gay.”
Albus smirked down at him, his green eyes narrowing. “I think you’d know if you were, Scorp.”
“Well, for one, you’d want to snog me. Because, come on, I’m pretty hot. At least that’s what Sophie said.”
Scorpius laughed and shot up. “But you’re my best mate. That doesn’t really work like that. Sorry, Al.”
Albus scrunched his nose. “Did you just reject me, Scorp? I’m hurt.”
“Did...did you want to snog me?” Scorpius’ heart pulsed, but Albus seemed to only be joking -- because he laughed.
Scorpius’ face fell, but he recovered quickly and reached to shove Albus’ shoulder. Albus shoved back, and before long the two were wrestling on the grass, the clouds rolling by overhead, oblivious to the laughter of two pre-teen boys as they rolled around in the yard. Albus had the upper hand, already being the taller and stockier of the two boys, and Scorpius eventually conceded defeat, holding his hands up. Albus hovered over him, their legs intertwined as his hands perched on either side of Scorpius’ head. He was still grinning, his teasing evident in his face.
“Only because I gave up. You’re sodding heavy, you know.”
Albus shifted to flick the side of his cheek with two of his fingers; Scorpius protested and tried to shove him back, but Albus caught his hand and held it down, leaning forward. “I win because I’m better than you are,” he teased.
Scorpius bit his lip, eyes narrowing playfully at his best friend. Albus was so close to him. He tried to get away, his chin jerking up and brushing against Albus’ in the process. There was a shock of something that shivered down the boy’s spine and he froze, a hairsbreadth away from Albus. The green-eyed wizard titled his head down, and in that moment it seemed as though the teasing and the playful idea of the two kissing became more than just a tease and playing. Albus looked serious and his lips seemed so close. There was a subtle tilt of his head, Scorpius following suit in the other direction. They were close, and his grey eyes searched questioningly, but Albus’ eyes were slowly falling shut, and Scorpius’ flickered in response. Their lips brushed, his breath caught in his throat --
And there was a sudden onslaught of cold air as Albus was pulled off of him -- his desire ripped away.
Scorpius jerked awake, the sheet falling in a jumble at his waist. Sweat beaded his forehead and cooled his chest and back, and he swiped a hand down his face, trying to catch his breath. He had no idea when he had fallen asleep, but the dregs of his dream were still clear in his mind. It wasn’t really a dream, anyway. It was a memory -- the start of a memory of one of the most confusing and altering days of his life. It was that day in second year that Albus hinted at in the changing rooms, a day that Scorpius had tried to erase from his mind. It was like forgetful therapy, where he had to push the memory out of his mind so to feel better, to move forward in life without feeling like he was treading through quicksand. In doing so, though, he wondered if he had hindered himself.
He sighed, his hand dropping to the mattress -- but landed on something else. He glanced down, spying Rose.
The witch was curled on her side, half buried beneath the same sheets that crumbled around Scorpius’ waist. Her left breast hung free and Scorpius quickly reached forward and adjusted the sheet over her. He studied her sleeping face, and it was then that the memory of the night before assaulted him. After he’d shagged her in the potions room and bruised her neck with kisses, the two had gone to dinner, only to return to his dormitory to shag some more. It was thanks to silencing charms that he’d not disturbed his roommates, but it was clear that it had gone well into the night, because Rose was still there. He saw her begin to stir, and in a rather timid move, he quickly slipped out of the bed, treading silently off the mattress and then out of curtain of the poster bed. He grabbed his boxers and a tshirt, slipped them on, and beelined to the bathroom. No one was inside and he used a moment to collect himself.
He braced his hand on the sink, staring at the floor for what felt like an hour but was likely only a few minutes. There it was; that familiar thread of guilt that often ran through his veins after a date with Rose. It would likely be stronger, now, considering he’d gone to her out of spite and not true desire, like she thought. Albus had told him of her worry; Rose thought she was on the verge of losing him, and Scorpius knew she was right. It was getting harder to be with her, and despite the raging determination that had overwhelmed him last night, he only felt less compelled to continue the charade of the relationship. It had not been because he truly wanted her, but because he needed to prove to himself that he didn’t want Albus -- but the momentary bliss had only made it worse for him.
Each day brought new challenges for him, deepened Scorpius’ confusion -- and all because he’d begun to let himself think about the things this father had warned him not to think about; all because he’d begun to question why he’d felt no true connection to Rose and why he felt better around other people, certain people. The same sense of guilt had assuaged him after he’d rejected her proposal to stay that day in the Room of Requirement, and now it seemed to latch on to him even stronger than before. He couldn’t get rid of it. He scratched at his stomach, as if it would help him scratch it away; but with an entire night of wrongful lechery behind him, Scorpius was bathed in remorse, and his hands started to tremble. He held onto the sink, again, his head bowing again, breath shaking.
He closed his eyes, and the hazy remnants of his dream swam, this time as a memory being played out.
Scorpius was stunned for a second, grey eyes wide and confused as the sun seemed to blind him, shock him in a sudden moment of the loss of Albus’ body hovering over him. It took another second for reality to swim; deafening silence roared into life and he gasped in exhalation, jerking up as he saw Albus wriggling in his father’s grip. Draco Malfoy stood over Scorpius, holding tightly onto Albus’ collar, but glaring down at his son. Almost as if Albus was not more than a piece of twig, Draco tossed the green-eyed wizard, causing him to stumble and nearly fall. He caught himself, though, and straightened with a glaring look at the older Malfoy, but it softened just as quickly.
Scorpius got to his feet, confused. “Dad, don’t hurt him,” was all he could manage to say, but Draco was converging on him and Scorpius tripped back, retreating with speed as his father’s icy gaze seemed to grow colder.
“Don’t hurt him? Don’t hurt him?! I come outside to find my son close to kissing a boy and you tell me not to hurt him?” HIs voice escalated and Scorpius winced. “Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t?”
“He...he’s my best friend. We weren’t doing anything. We were just playing and-”
The slap came before Scorpius even realized his father had lifted his hand. It stunned him, and the twelve-year old boy stared in shock at his father, his own hand trembling as he lifted it to his cheek. Draco stumbled, and it was only the mess of untidy black hair over the man’s shoulder that alerted Scorpius to the fact that Albus had interrupted, pushing at Draco with a force that wasn’t strong, but that had come out of nowhere. Draco spun on the boy, and Albus glared up at the man, clearly not as afraid of Draco Malfoy as his flesh and blood son was right then.
“Leave him alone! Scorpius didn’t do anything wrong.”
“No, that was you,” Draco growled, grabbing for Albus again. The boy protested, but Draco was bigger and far stronger, and the man started dragging Albus towards the manor. Scorpius, his cheek still stinging from the first slap, ran forward after them. He tried to get in between his dad and best friend, but Draco kept pushing him away, all the while lecturing about Albus’ wrong choice and how foolish his parents were for not stamping it out of him. Scorpius followed them, tugged at his father’s shirt, tried to pull his arm off of Albus, but it did not stop him. None of it worked, and they were soon at the front door of the manor. Draco yanked it open.
Scorpius stood behind his father, starting to plead with him. “Dad, stop! Dad, no! Please.”
“I don’t want him in my house. I will not allow that lifestyle into my house. Not with my son.” He pulled Albus forward; the boy had stopped fighting when he realized that Draco would likely only hurt Scorpius in the process; he stared at the man with a defiant look, but said nothing. “You’re not welcome here, anymore. Tell your father that.”
Scorpius gasped, but in a split second Albus was shoved out onto the porch and the door was closed in his face. He didn’t even get a chance to look at him. Scorpius breathed heavily, shocked, as his father spun towards him.
Draco towered over his son, and Scorpius looked up. He had no idea when he’d started to, but tears were clouding his vision and he felt a few roll down his features. “He’s just my best friend,” he tried to say.
But Draco wasn’t listening. He grabbed Scorpius by the scruff of his shirt and dragged him towards his study. “I’ll show you what happens to people like that in this house. Make you think twice about doing that ever again.”
He wriggled in fright, but his eyes never once left the front door, trying to imagine what Albus must have felt; he was tossed into the man’s study, and before he could even straighten himself, the first blow had struck his cheek, the second his jaw. He whimpered, “Dad, I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” but Draco heard none of it.
Scorpius peered up at him, sobbing, but all he saw was the first coming at him. Again. And again. And again.
By the end of the memory, Scorpius was curled on the floor, his head buried in his hands and his face wet with the tears he’d not been allowed to shed back then. His father had beat him for the mere idea that he could have been snogging Albus that day in the grass; and while the kiss had never happened, Scorpius had not even tried to think of what it could have meant. He’d closed himself off from the idea, and although he had managed to repair things with Albus by the first day of school -- though Albus claimed to have never blamed him for it -- Scorpius had always had to confirm with his father that nothing was happening with them. Draco had disapproved, but it was only when he’d started dating Rose that the wizard had relented, seeming to finally accept his son was not gay.
He was, though -- and the truth came like a rocket to his gut as he sat curled on the bathroom floor of his dorm.
Scorpius hiccuped, lifting his head. His vision was blurry with tears, but he didn’t bother to wipe them. He sat in pure amazement at the release that seemed to come from the acceptance of himself. Ironic that it had taken shagging his brains out with Rose to do that for him, but it had. The guilt thereafter had awakened years of other dregs of guilt; he felt remorseful for not doing more to protect Albus, and for going with his father’s insistence without considering that it may have hurt him with more than just blows in the end. Worse was that he felt guilty for not acknowledging the truth within himself all these years; that was the part of himself that he always shut down every time he faced the prospect of being with Rose intimately. It was the part of himself that didn’t want her, but wanted a man.
The part of himself that wanted Albus, and that always had -- from he was twelve-years old.
Albus had understood himself back then, but Scorpius had not. He’d had yet to comprehend what it meant, and he had a feeling that, had their lips met in more than just a brush, the two would have explored it. Together.
Shakily, Scorpius lifted himself off the floor. At the sink, he splashed water on his face, waited until he felt less shaky, and reached for his toothbrush. Almost as if on autopilot, Scorpius began to brush his teeth, the sound of the water filling the background. He stared at himself in the mirror, tracing the lines of his own features -- the grey eyes, the thin nose, the chiseled jaw. He wondered if he looked different from yesterday; he wondered if people would know that he knew. He wondered if his whole world was about to spin off axis. He wondered why he wasn’t afraid.
He scrubbed, spitting out toothpaste and bending to rinse his mouth. When he straightened, Albus was behind him.
Grey met green in the mirror, but Albus’ grin was playful whereas Scorpius suddenly seemed tense. He straightened slowly as Albus took the sink next to his, plucking his own toothbrush from the holder. “Morning,” he greeted.
“Hey,” Scorpius said, busying himself with rinsing off his toothbrush.
Albus smirked as he started brushing his teeth, standing casually in his pajama bottoms and non-matching purple Harpies Quidditch jersey that his mum had likely given him. One arm was folded over his torso, his eyes peering at Scorpius out of the corner of his eye. The look, the easiness, his sheer presence unsettled Scorpius.
He waited a moment, to see if Albus would say anything, but then he relented. “What?”
Albus snorted, spitting out toothpaste. “Nothing.”
Scorpius smirked, a rare lilt in his lips that he’d learned from the many Weasley-Potters that did it. “You look too smug for it to be nothing. What,” he added, not wanting to bring it up but feeling too resentful about it not to say anything, “did you and Ernie try some new move or something?” His gaze shifted away, Scorpius acting as if he was setting out his things to take a shower, acting as if his entire life didn’t hinge on Albus’ response.
“No,” he said easily, “but it seems like you certainly did.”
“Sorry?” Scorpius asked, after a heartbeat of a pause, where he looked thoroughly confused.
Albus snorted, finishing off his brushing and rinsing the toothbrush. “You’re too sodding humble sometimes, I swear to Salazar.” He swiped excess water for his mouth and turned to lean on the sink. He waited another pause, a pause in which Scorpius merely looked at him with a raised eyebrow, before laughing. “I just saw Rose sneaking out.”
Scorpius looked mortified for a moment, before his face deepened in a flush and he turned away, scratching at the side of his face. Albus, forever amused by Scorpius’ shyness, just laughed even more at his best friend.
“She was waiting for you, I think,” Albus went on, “but then when she realized that everyone else was starting to wake up, she got dressed and practically raced through the door. Good thing I was the first one out of my bed, or else she may have crapped her pants. She looked quite satiated, though. Good job.” He gave Scorpius a pat, rolling his eyes. “Merlin, you should see your face, right now. You’re redder than a sodding radish.”
Scorpius wasn’t really listening, anymore. His mortification wasn’t really from Albus having caught the two of them in bed, though -- figuratively speaking, of course -- but more from the fact that sleeping with Rose may have been a mistake that he wasn’t sure he could make up for. Just a few minutes ago, he’d been ready to accept a new part of himself, to cut ties with anything that would perpetuate his lies; but with Rose likely clinging to him more, and Albus clearly satisfied with himself for helping them patch up whatever rough moment he assumed they had, Scorpius was stuck. Albus continued to laugh, gathering his own things and tossing a towel over his shoulder. He saddled pass his best friend towards the showers, patting him on the back, again, as if Scorpius needed the support.
The touch only seemed to set his skin on fire, though, and Scorpius had to clench his jaw to stop himself from giving in to the feeling. Albus was off limits; his father had warned him so. He was off limits, Rose would likely make it so. Scorpius was royally screwed and as Albus left him standing by the sink, the wizard looked back in the mirror at himself. Shame marked every line of his features, and he swallowed thickly. He was in deep in a royal mess.
He was gay -- but he was dating the cousin of the guy he wanted, and he saw no way out of it, either.
Worse than that, the guy he wanted him didn’t want him, anyway. He wasn’t his type, after all.
Would the wrongness of his situation ever end?
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