Chapter 2 : Talking
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There was something else about the Hogsmeade visits too. In the beginning it had been all about buying butterbeer and sweets, but as the years passed the Hogsmeade visits were more and more about dating. As Albus had no interest in dating girls, he had never had a date for the Hogsmeade trips, and sometimes that made him feel left out and odd. Now and then, he stayed at Hogwarts instead of joining his friends in Hogsmeade. Today was one of those occasions. Almost everybody else was in Hogsmeade today, but he didn’t feel up to it. It was a sunny day in May, so he went for a short walk by the lake alone.
It was wonderful outside, as May in Scotland often is. There were so many shades of green on the trees and ground and the lake and the sky were almost unnaturally blue. Albus sat down by the lake. He had brought a book, but didn’t read. He let his thoughts wander for a while. It was sometimes frustrating that he hadn’t told anyone about his feelings for Scorpius. During this year, his feelings had grown from a small crush to something different and stronger, and yet he hardly knew Scorpius at all. They had Potions class together, and although Albus tried not to be too obvious when he secretly watched Scorpius, their eyes had met a few times, each of which had resulted in an embarrassing blush creeping across Albus’s cheeks. Potions had always been a subject that Albus liked, but his results this year had been poor. He couldn’t concentrate at all when Scorpius was in his class.
Albus closed his eyes for a moment and remembered yesterday’s Potions class. He had tried so hard to avoid looking at Scorpius, but the end of the lesson he allowed himself to glance in the other boy’s direction. He was very surprised to discover that Scorpius, as a matter of fact, was watching him too. Their eyes met for a brief moment, and before Albus quickly turned his eyes down, he glimpsed a smile from Scorpius. When he dared to look up again, Scorpius was still looking at him, and even smiled at Albus again.
Until that moment, Albus had been convinced that he would secretly fancy Scorpius forever without any chance to actually get to know him. He understood that the chances that Scorpius was interested in him were quite slim. Even if Albus hadn’t actually seen him with a girl or heard any gossip about him dating anybody, he couldn’t just assume that Scorpius was gay too. But the events of yesterday had certainly gotten his mind working. Was he imagining things, or had Scorpius really been flirting with him when he looked at him like that? It couldn’t be, or could it? He wished he had someone to talk to about this, but who could be trusted?
Sometimes he thought that Rose might suspect something. She was remarkably clever and was also very perceptive. Albus hoped that she had been concentrating on the potion she was working on together with Michael instead of noticing the flirting that had been going on between Albus and Scorpius yesterday. Well, if it was flirting… How could one know, really? Scorpius had probably just wanted to be friendly when he smiled at him.
Albus longed for someone to talk to about this, but he didn’t dare tell anyone. Sometimes he felt so odd and so alone… He suddenly felt that he needed some time with his friends after all, even if he couldn’t talk to them about what was on his mind. They were probably still in Hogsmeade. If he hurried up, he could probably join them after all. He headed up to his dormitory to change, and then started to walk towards the village. He enjoyed the walk in the warm sunshine. The warm spring breeze seemed to clear his mind, too, and he forgot about his worries for a while.
He guessed that he would find his friends in the Three Broomsticks, but he couldn’t resist a quick stop at Honeydukes first. It was crowded, as usual, and as he crisscrossed through the store he suddenly bumped into Scorpius. Albus blushed and tried to say something, but couldn’t find his voice.
‘Hello Albus!’ Scorpius said with a smile. He held a package of Chocolate Frogs in his hand.
‘H-hello,’ Albus stammered. He felt a bit dizzy and his heart was beating madly. This was the first time he had actually talked to Scorpius, and he was anxious to keep the conversation going. ‘So, you like Chocolate Frogs?’ he continued.
‘Yeah, most people do, don’t you think?’ Scorpius said, and Albus felt himself blush even more. What a stupid thing to ask...
‘I was just thinking that I’d like a butterbeer. Do you want to join me?’ Scorpius asked.
‘Yeah, okay,’ Albus said. He couldn’t believe his luck. Was this really happening?
Albus felt very conscious of himself, and of the attractive boy who was by his side, as they moved through Hogsmeade. He found it hard to speak and was pleased that he didn’t need to say very much, since Scorpius chatted continuously. Albus thought that they were heading to the Three Broomsticks, but he didn’t argue when Scorpius took him to the Hog’s Head instead. That was probably for the better anyway, since he kind of wanted to keep this new friendship a secret from his nosy family and friends.
They sat down at a table near the window with their butterbeers. Although Scorpius was the one who did most of the talking, Albus soon relaxed a bit and found it easier to speak. He found out that Scorpius was, in fact, very easy to talk to.
‘Ugh… Ginger in butterbeer?’ Scorpius said and made a face towards Albus’s drink. ‘How can you drink it like that?’
‘What? It’s how it’s supposed to be!’ Albus defensively said. ‘It doesn’t taste like anything without the ginger…’
‘Yeah, like mint in cauldron cakes or like cinnamon on tuna,’ Scorpius teasingly said, giving Albus the most captivating smile he had ever seen. He couldn’t come up with anything to say, so he just smiled back and tried not to lose himself in the other boy’s eyes. Why was Scorpius so damn gorgeous?
‘I wonder what my father would say if he knew that I was sitting here with you,’ Scorpius said. ‘I mean, our fathers don’t exactly adore each other…’
‘I know what you mean,’ Albus agreed. ‘It would be a laugh, though, if I sent him an owl telling him that I’ve made friends with the son of Draco Malfoy. But it would probably annoy my Uncle Ron even more. I mean, I know that our fathers meet once in a while at work and they can probably get along when they need to, but my uncle is a bit stubborn…’
‘But we’re not our fathers, right?’ Scorpius laughed ‘And those things that happened long before we were born don’t need to matter now,’ he continued in a more serious voice.
‘I agree,’ Albus said, finding himself awestruck once again by Scorpius’s amazing smile. He wished that he wasn’t so inexperienced, seeing as he couldn’t tell if Scorpius was flirting with him or not. If he was, it was a good move on Scorpius’s part, because Albus felt dazed whenever Scorpius smiled at him.
Scorpius and Albus sat at the Hog’s Head all afternoon. Albus couldn’t remember afterwards what they had really been talking about, and yet they had talked for hours. He knew that sometimes when you finally get to know a person you have admired from a distance, you can be disappointed by who that person really is. This was not one of those times; in fact, it was the other way around. The real Scorpius was even better than Albus ever imagined.
After that extraordinary afternoon with Scorpius, things pretty much got back to usual. Albus silently watched Scorpius during mealtimes and in class. He said hello to Scorpius in his most neutral voice. He tried his best to not show anything of his true feelings, not to Scorpius or to his friends and family.
During the last weeks before summer break, Scorpius and Albus met a few times in the library to study together. Albus had tried to convince himself that Scorpius hadn’t, in fact, been flirting after all. It had just been friendly smiles and a friendly conversation. If they were going to become friends, he couldn’t risk scaring Scorpius away by acting weird. Scorpius would probably run as far as he could if he found out about Albus’s crush on him. Albus was aching for Scorpius on the inside, but he couldn’t let him know by showing it on the outside.
Albus tried hard to concentrate on his Potions revision, but it was hard to do so with Scorpius sitting next to him. Albus was usually quite studious, but he had a feeling that his exams in Potions wouldn’t be very good this year. However, right now it was worth it, since he got to sit next to Scorpius.
‘If only exams were over already,’ Scorpius complained.
‘I know. It feels like I haven’t done anything but study all spring,’ Albus agreed.
‘Hmm… I can’t really say I have been revising all spring,’ Scorpius admitted. ‘But for several days, at least!’
‘You can’t expect good grades if you only study for a few days, you know.’
‘Stop it, you sound like my father,’ Scorpius said and punched Albus on the shoulder. ‘He’s always nagging me about my grades… Besides, I didn’t have much time for revision, what with Quidditch training and all.’
‘Quidditch…’ Albus said. ‘I can’t really understand why everyone is so absorbed by Quidditch.’
James passed by them with a large pile of books in his arms. He cast Albus a questioning look, clearly surprised to see Albus together with Scorpius Malfoy.
‘No, you are a bit thick when it comes to Quidditch, dear brother,’ James said, pausing before them. ‘It’s odd, really, considering that Quidditch is like the Elixir of Life. You do miss out a lot when you don’t take an interest in Quidditch.’
‘He’s got a point there,’ Scorpius said to Albus when James left. ‘Your brother is pretty talented, too.’
‘Don’t tell him that. He‘s already all too smug about the scouts who have been at his games this spring. I can’t stand him sometimes.’
‘You’re jealous, then?’ Scorpius asked.
‘No!’ Albus said, a bit too forcefully.
‘I would be jealous if it was my brother who was likely to play professional Quidditch,’ Scorpius said. ‘Not that I have a brother anyway, nor do I have any sisters. I don’t even have any first cousins.’
‘Do you wish you did?’ Albus asked. ‘I mean, I can’t even imagine what it would be like not having them. I’ve got almost a dozen first cousins… Nine, if I counted right.’
‘Yeah, all the Gryffindors are Weasleys, that’s hardly news… No, I don’t miss siblings and cousins at all,’ Scorpius said. Although he said it in a mocking tone, Albus could tell by his smile that Scorpius hadn’t meant to offend him. Albus felt weak from that smile, and he busied himself with his Potions notes again. How could he possibly concentrate when his heart was rushing like this? He would have to figure it out, though. Exams were coming up real soon, and he had to study, despite his crush on Scorpius.
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