It was two days before the Ravenclaw-Slytherin Quidditch game and Albus and Scorpius were sitting in the library. Albus tried hard to concentrate on the Herbology essay he was writing, but he couldn’t help touching Scorpius’s knee under the table. The library was almost empty and he was sure that nobody had noticed. Scorpius leaned into him and kissed him briefly.
‘Are you out of your mind?’ Albus whispered. ‘Anyone could see us here!’
‘It was you who started it… Besides, I don’t care about this secrecy anymore. Why don’t we just come out and stop sneaking around?’
‘You know that-’ Albus said in a tired voice, withdrawing his hand. ‘-I don’t want to have this conversation again.’
‘I know you’re afraid and embarrassed and all that. I know you don’t want any more attention than you already get as the son of Harry Potter. I have tried, really. We have snuck around, hid, and pretended…’
Albus quickly cast a Muffliato spell, hoping that nobody had heard Scorpius.
‘Scorp, listen to me…’ he tried.
‘No, you listen!’ Scorpius said, his eyes flashing. ‘I agreed to keep our relationship a secret at first, but this is getting ridiculous… Now when your siblings and cousins know, and they all support us. Why couldn’t we just tell our parents too, and then stop hiding and pretending? I do love you, but I can’t live like this. I can’t do it anymore.’
‘Look, I love you too, but…’ Albus started. ‘I can’t tell them. I don’t know how… and I don’t want to tell them, anyway.’
‘Very well then,’ Scorpius said in a hard voice. ‘Have it your way. I don’t want this anymore. I’m fed up with lying and pretending. I’m just not doing it anymore.’ He took his books and parchment and left.
Albus just sat there, shocked by the sudden turn of events, and stared after him. After some time. he collected his books and parchment and went back to Gryffindor Tower. He was fighting back tears, hoping not to meet anyone. The Fat Lady looked at him with concern when she let him in.
‘Are you all right, dear?’ she asked.
Albus mumbled something and climbed through the portrait hole. He was lucky not to meet anyone, and he went straight to bed. He and Scorpius had never had a row like that, and he didn’t know how to handle it. He had never seen Scorpius angry before. It felt weird to be cross with Scorpius, but right now he was furious. How could he just say something like that and then walk away? Had Scorpius really broken up with him just like that in the library? How dare he treat him like this?
He didn’t want to lose Scorpius over this, but he just wasn’t ready to come out yet. It wasn’t Scorpius’s decision to make for him. In a way, he was jealous of Scorpius, who was so confident about who he was. Albus wasn’t that courageous. Sometimes he thought about how strange it was that he had been sorted into Gryffindor in the first place. He remembered how nervous he had been on his first train ride to Hogwarts. James had scared him into thinking that he would be sorted into Slytherin, and Albus had dreaded that he would be right. It was odd, really, that the Sorting Hat had made him a Gryffindor. Maybe the hat counted family tradition in making its decisions.
Albus had trouble sleeping that night. His dreams were filled with the hard, angry voice of Scorpius, and he was additionally tormented with thoughts of both friends and complete strangers making a fool of him and laughing at him. He even saw images of his parents, both of them disappointed and angry about his behavior. He twisted and turned, but the nightmares didn’t leave him at all.
The next day wasn’t a good one, either. Albus had a lump in his throat all day. How could things have gone so badly? Scorpius wouldn’t seek his eyes in the Great Hall during breakfast like he used to, and they didn’t speak at all during Potions, only silently brewing their potions while glaring at each other. The lesson seemed to go on forever, and then it finally was over. Albus tried to put his hand on Scorpius’s arm to say something, but Scorpius shook it off and turned away. Albus sighed and went to the Great Hall to have lunch.
He sat silently at the Gryffindor table together with Michael and Rose. Albus didn’t have much of an appetite. The potatoes tasted like paper and he had never appreciated fish very much either.
‘What’s the matter with you?’ Michael asked after a while.
‘I don’t want to talk about it,’ Albus said, shuffling his potatoes around on his plate.
‘Did you and Scorpius have a row?’ Rose asked in a low voice. ‘I saw you two acting strange during Potions.’
‘Don’t you get it? I don’t want to talk about it,’ Albus angrily said, and he stood up and left. He knew he was being unfair, but he couldn’t handle their concern right now. He would probably start crying if someone was nice to him right now, and the last thing he wanted was to be seen crying in the Great Hall.
He skived off Herbology that afternoon and went to the common room instead. It was warm and cosy there and he was all alone. Albus thought about his mother. She was usually the one whom he would talk to when he felt miserable. His mum wasn’t here, though, and even if she was, he wouldn’t tell her. He wanted to be seven years old again. Back then, Mum would solve all his problems. It was different now that he was seventeen. As a grown-up, you had to deal with everything yourself, and right now he didn’t want to be a grown-up.
Maybe he could talk to Teddy? He already knew about Scorpius, and he would understand. Then again, he knew all too well what Teddy would say. He would think that Scorpius was right, and he would try to convince Albus to tell his parents about their secret relationship.
This was not only about his parents and relatives, though. It was about everyone else, too. Albus knew that once people realised that he and Scorpius were a couple, they were going to gossip about them. Some people would look down on them, some would be disgusted, and some might even hate them. He didn’t like to be the centre of attention, and he knew that there was no way that the news that Harry Potter’s son was gay would pass unnoticed. Albus and his siblings had, from time to time, appeared in the papers during their youth and childhood. His father was still famous among wizards and witches, and he was frequently recognised and addressed by complete strangers. On top of that, people usually recognised Ginny Potter, the Harpies player, as well. The result of this fame was that the Potter children had been closely watched by journalists during their upbringing. They had gotten used to it through the years, of course, but Albus had never been especially fond of it. James and Lily were apparently not bothered by the attention at all. It had probably been helpful for James’s Quidditch career. In Albus’s eyes, the attention and fame felt threatening. He wasn’t keen on reading headlines like ‘Potter’s son is gay’ or something similar. Albus sat there by the fire, idly conjuring and levitating small feathers and watching them burn as they moved into the fireplace. He didn’t hear Rose when she came into the common room, but he felt her hand on his shoulder.
‘Albus,’ she said, sitting down beside him. She put her arms around him, and they sat there silently for a while. It felt good to be embraced by her. Rose had always been his favourite cousin, and she usually understood and supported him.
‘I talked to Scorpius,’ Rose said. ‘He is really upset and sad…’
‘Well, so am I!’ Albus interrupted. Maybe Rose wouldn’t be so supportive in this after all.
‘Please, let me finish! Scorpius told me that you had a row about whether to hide your relationship or not.’
‘A row?’ Albus spat. ‘It’s more like he broke up with me just because I don’t want to tell everyone. It’s not his decision to make!’
‘I think this is really important to him,’ Rose tried. ‘He loves you, and he wants to be able to be with you, not just sneak around Hogwarts with you. Why can’t you understand that?’
‘I can, but this is important to me, too. I’m scared. I don’t want to be laughed at or whispered about. I don’t want people to judge us.’
‘You are ashamed, then?’ Rose asked.
‘You sound just like him,’ Albus said, leaving to go to bed. Talking to Rose hadn’t helped a bit.