Chapter 4 : Coral and Black
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The bridesmaids fluttered around him with their ribbons trailing off their dresses like thin fairy wings, twittering, their fingers skirting around the edges of their hair. They were a flurry of powder blue and pearls, bouncing around each other in the confined space and chirruping like canaries. “Lorcan, darling, you’re not supposed to see!”
Lysander ran his hand against his temple and calmly stated that he was not, in fact, his brother. Again. “You have me mistaken,” he said. “I’m his twin.”
They apologized collectively, bending down to slip the straps of their heels around their aching ankles, chirping about the weather or the flowers on their way out the door.
To leave Lysander, the forgotten brother, sitting alone. He sighed, tugging on the cuffs of his Muggle jacket, crossing his knees and settling back in his seat.
The herbologist had remained in said chair for what had seemed like centuries. Upon his arrival in the sleepy beachside town and its equally somnolent beachside house, he had been ushered into the parlor by his soon-to-be in-law: a woman reminiscent of the late Mrs. Weasley (minus the cardinal hair). “Sit here, Mr. Scamander. Tea? Water, maybe?”
She had hurried into the kitchen without a look over her shoulder while fully intending to serve her new guest refreshments, but Lysander had been quiet and unassuming, failing to remind her that he had ever existed. There were distractions, other arrivals to tend to, and the Scamander twin had let it flit by him while he sat and watched, sat and watched.
Observing, he considered, seem to be the hobby he put the most energy into, if one could consider that exertion at all. Once the bridesmaids had left, their chattering fading almost completely into the dull churning of the nearby ocean, a new plague of people were ushered in. First came the jealous women that had failed to be included in the wedding party, followed by a couple arguing and hissing insults at the other. There were the singletons, the elderly uncles with their bowler hats and walking sticks, the waiters with their pressed aprons and the tiny cousins that ran circles around the dining table.
The Scamander brother breathed throughout, focusing on his exhales while people shuffled past him, occasionally reaching down to tug on his shirtsleeves and making comments about the passers-by in his head.
“Lysander, right? You’re Lysander?” An anxious woman hovered above him, briefly tapping his shoulder and reminding the man that his eyes had somehow flickered closed.
“Yes, sorry,” he breathed in reply, blinking rapidly. The people who had once crowded the room were nowhere to be seen, leaving it foreign and empty. “Yes, that would be me, yes.”
“Your brother wants you upstairs.” Her gaze was calculating, as if she was trying to decide if he was still sleepy or simply inebriated before the celebrations had even started. “Do you need help, or…?”
Lysander laughed, dimly clearing the sleep from his lungs and throat. “No, thank you. I think I can find my way.”
The chair groaned underneath him as he stood, missing its newfound friend. Fingers dancing around his cuff again, he attempted to shoot the woman an easy smile as Lysander ducked under the doorway of the parlor, his familiar space.
As far as the scientist could tell, the house was ancient. The floorboards croaked and the windows rattled, the small abode threatening to spill onto the rocky shore with each passing breeze. Which was not to say, of course, that it wasn’t without charm: petite golden seahorses lined the mantle while frayed, moth-eaten rugs hung on the staircase’s weathered banister, and the distant smell of sage and cinnamon drifted lazily throughout the first floor.
He resisted the temptation to run his fingers across the unraveling embroidery as he took slow, careful steps up the narrow stairs. He could hear his brother already, his deep guffaws echoing down the hallway as he chatted with an unfamiliar guest.
“Lysander!” the twin exclaimed when he saw his brother lingering before the doorframe. “Don’t be a wallflower; come in!”
The herbologist did as he was told, nervously fingering his sleeves. His Muggle jacket was only slightly too small for him, its stiff fabric brushing uncomfortably against the skin of his wrist whenever he moved.
“This is Victoria,” Lorcan said, quieter now. “She’s one of the bridesmaids. Aren’t you, love?”
The woman in question extended her thin hand. “We’ve met, I believe. Downstairs.” Her greeting was soft and slight.
She sashayed into the hallway before Lysander had a chance to mumble a reply, her ribbons trailing after her like kite strings.
“Stunning lady, that one,” Lorcan laughed, turning back to the mirror. “Anyway, come closer. I need your help.”
Lorcan was silent for a moment, staring into their reflection. He looked very much the groom, with his fitted coat and the pinned arrangement of wilting flowers that decorated the front of his pocket with oranges and whites, maroons and mustards and the palest of honeys. And then there was Lysander, squeezed into his ill-fitting sleeves, the fabric of his jacket bunching awkwardly around his shoulders. They were the same height, twins in every stature, and yet the herbologist looked dwarfed by the brother that was exactly four minutes younger.
“The tie,” Lorcan answered abruptly, turning from the mirror and gesturing to the haphazard knot he had managed to create.
Lysander allowed an amiable smile and let his fingers drift toward the twist of silk. “I’m not used to tying these either, you know.” But somehow his knot was tidier, simpler, and the pads of his thumbs made to smooth the fabric while his brother started to pull away.
“I’ll see you out there,” Lorcan said, starting a slow meander to the door. “Not much longer now, I s’pose.”
“Not long at all.”
“It’s going to be beautiful …” Lorcan’s voice was fading away, his footsteps on the creaking stairs smothering whatever else he had to say as Lysander stood – hovering, really - by the mirror.
It was only later, when the herbologist was placed in his proper spot with the rest of the wedding party, that he could see how right his brother had been.
Vases of tall, curving lilies stood slightly crooked on the uneven earth before the crafted awning: an ancient-looking structure made of a weathered trellis painted white. The ocean was just visible in the distance, a splash of sapphire against the bold green of the grass, and it painted the horizon beyond the rows of orderly chairs.
The guests made their own vibrant appearance once they occupied the seats, the matronly ladies in their corals and creams, the men in cerulean and black. There was a collective silence once the bride made her way down the center, her veil trailing behind her and making waves on the neat lawn.
Lysander, standing next to the tilting lilies, should’ve been watching his brother, observing how the groom was grinning in the best, broadest sense of the word. Or maybe his attention should have been turned to the bride, with her bashful cheeks turning scarlet and fringe falling barely against her forehead. In complete seriousness, maybe he should’ve been glancing up and down the wedding party, affirming that the line they had created was straight and even, balanced.
But instead, Lysander had cast his gaze over the crowd: the fidgeting children and weeping aunts, the men who paid rapt attention to the figure in white lace that was gradually approaching her soon-to-be husband. His stare flitted up the rows, watching as ankles were tucked softly behind legs and hair was gathered at the bases of necks.
Brunette, woman, stranger.
Bowtie, moustache, stranger.
Glasses, weeping, stranger.
He catalogued the individuals one by one, rapid like a machine simply doing its job. Once a guest was identified, described, they were hastily filed away.
Walking stick, shoe polish, stranger.
Hair ribbon, lipstick, stranger.
Searching and searching, his eyes roaming swiftly down the lines of unknown people, Lysander scoured the crowd for just one familiar face.
He sat seven rows back, wedged between a woman touching lightly at her cheeks with an ornately trimmed handkerchief and an elderly man fingering a cane. And, to Lysander’s quiet, blissful surprise, Malfoy was looking straight at him.
Scorpius grinned, hands lifting off his lap in an inconspicuous greeting as the bride reached the trellis.
“We are gathered here today…” the Minister began, and his words resonated to all but one. Lysander, beaming at the man in the middle of the seventh row, didn’t hear a thing.
“All I’m saying is, I was basically two seconds away from death.” The elderly guest leaned forward, the tip of his white beard brushing the linen of the tablecloth. “It was there, staring me in the face, daring me to fall into its just ghastly clutches…”
Lysander played with his fork, the pads of his fingertips tracing the prongs against his lap. The reception had been carrying on for hours and he had grown inattentive, drawing his focus to the utensil in his hands instead of the guest speaking next to him at the table.
“It was cold – well, absolutely freezing, really – and I was just about ready to close my eyes and float toward that brilliant white light that everybody talks about…”
The lilies on the table swayed gently in the bitter ocean breeze that ghosted past, silent against the inky black sky. Lysander could pick out various voices that carried over the expanse of people seated at their particular tables, the twitters of grandmothers and laughter of schoolgirls combining in a cacophonous boiling of noise. He could almost segregate the voice of his mother, soft and melodic, rising and falling against the oppressive background babble.
“… And that was my brush with death!”
“You weren’t just brushed by death,” the stranger sitting to his right intervened, emphasizing her words unnecessarily in a lively, hurried slur. “You were groomed by death. You were the show pony for death!”
“Excuse me,” Lysander started abruptly, deciding that the ridiculousness of this conversation had gone on long enough. His fork clattered next to his plate, clouded with remnants of chocolate biscuit wedding cake, as he rose. “I’ve got to… get some fresh air.”
“Plenty fresh right here, m’boy!” the stranger called after him, gesturing to the grass beneath her bare feet, but Lysander strode away from his assigned table regardless.
The array of dining tables had replaced the rows of neat, white wedding chairs as soon as the bride and groom had muttered, “I do,” and the boisterous chattering of guests gradually faded into silence as Lysander got farther and farther away. The light, too, was dimming while he traced the outskirts of the expansive property, and soon he found that only the immense ivory moon lit his path.
“Lysander!” There was a voice calling behind him, laughing with a familiar elation.
The herbologist turned, squinting against the dim light. “I’m sorry,” he answered slowly, “but I can’t see who you are, exactly.” The laugh came again, bright and animated. “Scorpius?”
“You walk rather quickly.” Malfoy jogged closer, advancing in easy strides with his hands balled loosely at his hips. “I was afraid I wouldn’t catch you.”
"I can go back, if you want. I just… I don’t function very well in…”
“He was boring,” Scorpius interrupted, reaching out to place a heavy hand on Lysander’s shoulder. “I didn’t want to stay much either, to be honest.”
They stood in silence for a few moments, Scorpius’ fingers slipping slowly off the Scamander’s coat and falling easily by his side. The moon was high overhead, shedding ashen light on the whispering grass and short, archaic stone wall they had stopped beside.
There was a heat building, propelled through Lysander’s veins by the steady drum of his heart. It was a sort of glow, a small spark of something unidentifiable that was branching, crooked and irregular, throughout his lungs and chest.
He had begun to lean forward, though perhaps not completely deliberately, and maybe the herbologist remained entirely unaware of it. Under the shallow light of the moon, Lysander was close enough to his companion that he could almost make out the residuals of Scorpius’ aftershave; he smelled of soap and sumac.
They each were so near to the other that their breaths swelled against the opposite cheeks, warming forgein skin.
Finally, with uncharacteristic fearlessness, Lysander dipped toward his companion and met Malfoy’s lips with his own.
The reception behind them melted into the murky black of the night, the strokes of the herbologist’s heart growing louder and more insistent as his kiss, gentle and soft, unfolded. There was a flickering of eyelashes against his cheekbone, a shuffle of linen as he felt himself drifting closer and closer until he could feel the flush of a different chest against his own.
It was then that he realized Scorpius hadn’t moved an inch.
Lysander broke away immediately, feeling color blossom across his cheeks as he all-but stumbled backwards, barely finding his footing. “I… I’m so sorry… I…” The words were caught in his throat, clawing against the air. “I don’t know… I didn’t see… I thought…”
Scorpius stood frozen, expressionless.
“I didn’t… There was…” he continued to stutter, and if Lysander had been watching his companion instead of distractedly searching the grass, he would’ve seen the narrow curve of Scorpius’ smile begin to bloom. “I thought-”
“Do it again.” The words were soft and fluid, round as celestial rings, and Lysander almost didn’t hear them emerge at all.
“I… Excuse me?”
“Do it again,” Scorpius repeated, his cautious smile beginning to soften the rest of his features.
Lysander could only step forward, making up the distance he had tumbled away from, feeling the scarlet fade from his cheeks and his heart thunder back into his ears as his kiss was rekindled.
A/N: Finally some Lysander/Scorpius! Special thanks to Laura, Becca and Janechel: the three best cheer-a-leaders a writer could ask for. Thank you for reading thus far, and reviews are always welcome!
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He did, eh?