Chapter 1 : Red Flags
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Just kissing turned into more as the next two years passed. Affection and new depths of physical exploration were commonplace between the Slytherin boys. The two boys had been inseparable throughout their years at Hogwarts. Their friendship harkened back to that of Harry Potter and Ron Weasley and even to Sirius Black and James Potter. Merry laughter, inside jokes, and even a sense of superiority to their peers defined Albus and Scorpius. Often seen studying together in the library or out late wandering the corridors, the two friends never defined the exact nature of their relationship. It was hard to call it dating as they were together all throughout the day. However, it was impossible to deny the romantic overtures between them.
Despite the red flags, or rather blaring warnings of impending heartache, Albus slowly fell in love with his friend. “I love you,” Albus whispered as he gazed down at young Malfoy’s pale face. The dim light of common room just barely illuminated Scorpius’ face enough for Albus to make out his eyes fluttering open. Early the next morning they would leave for Christmas holiday – two weeks spent cloistered with their families rather than with each other.
Scorpius was awake and mostly dressed by the time Albus first stirred in the morning. “Better hurry up or you’ll be late,” he said tossing trousers over to the bed. “Will you survive three entire weeks with your clan?” Malfoy asked with a momentary smirk.
“Will you survive your solitary holiday?” Albus shot back his unintentionally wounding words and regretted them after Scorpius’ face turned sour. “I could come visit,” he added with a hopeful smile.
“You could,” Scorpius agreed. It wasn’t an invitation rather a statement of physical possibility. “Have you seen my other boot?” he asked looking around their deserted dorm room seeing it in Albus’ hand.
“This boot?” Albus asked coyly. Scorpius sauntered over to his best mate and held out an expectant hand. “It could be one of my dragonhide boots,” he said leaning just far enough away from Scorpius to entice him dangerously close to the bed. Pulling Scorpius into a long kiss he said, “Definitely mine.”
Finally getting the boot in hand, Scorpius straightened up looking slightly haughty. The grin on Albus’ face faltered slightly at the other boy’s visage. “See you after the New Year, Al,” Scorpius said with a mixture of fondness and distance in his voice. Waving his wand at his luggage, the slender boy made his way up to the common room fire where he would Floo home.
Albus collected the remainder of his belongings that he couldn’t bear to part with for the next few weeks and looked around the dormitory. The boom of children at Hogwarts made it necessary for his year to occupy three dorm rooms. Much to his luck, he and Scorpius ended up with a dorm to themselves for the last two years. The room represented so much to the two boys – intimacy that, outside of the walls went unspoken and repressed. Outside this room they were friends but behind the silky green hanging on their bed, they were lovers.
The holiday passed for Scorpius just as Albus had predicted – alone with his thoughts in the large and empty manor. His parents were busy preparing for their Boxing Day dinner party. They were not busy with the logistics or food preparations, but they were visiting with their essential guests to ensure attendance. Draco had even invited Harry and Ginny Potter, much to Scorpius’ surprise they accepted. From what Albus had told him, Harry was gracious enough to accept an invitation from a former enemy but Ginny harbored resentment longer than her spouse.
Christmas dinner felt lonely to Scorpius despite his parents’ presence at the table. Draco poured over a list of guests while blindly ladling soup while his wife read through the preparations for their meal the next day. As if just remembering that his only son was there, Draco jerked his head up midway through the main course and asked, “Did you like your Christmas present?”
Scorpius received several gifts that day. A silver ring with a snake that had emerald eyes had been his more expensive gift and the one his father asked after. “The ring is very nice, Father.”
“It once belonged to your Grandfather Malfoy,” Draco informed him as if owning something that a convicted death eater once wore made it special. “It’s part of your heritage,” he said raising his eyebrows momentarily. “I saw you got a gift from a friend – what was that, a handkerchief?”
Blushing slightly, Scorpius pulled the green and silver cloth from his pocket. “Yes,” he said quietly. The package it came in was unmarked but the small heart sewn into the material told Scorpius who it was from.
“Who is your admirer?” Draco asked with a significant glance to Astoria.
“Is she pretty?” His mum asked finally paying attention to the conversation.
Scorpius tried not to groan at his parents. They had started asking about any possible love interests when he was 16 and had been blatantly hinting that marriage would be in order soon once he hit 17. Feeling a surge of defiance Scorpius looked at his parents and said boldly, “He’s a boy in my year.”
The moments of silence that followed were the time it took Draco and Astoria to connect their son’s words with reality. “We’ve talked about this before, son,” Astoria said softly. “You’re the heir to the Malfoy name. You have to get married and have a child or the family dies with you.”
“I don’t want to get married just to produce more Malfoys,” Scorpius whispered with a steely edge to his voice. “I want to marry someone I love.”
Draco stood suddenly with his hands braced against their large dining table. “How could you be so selfish?” he asked in a waspish voice. “You’d let our ancient family die out because you fancy Joe Slytherin?” Taking a sip of wine, Draco eyed his son critically. “Merlin, for all I care you diddle your wife just enough for a child but you will have children. After that you can bugger whoever you want.”
Scorpius glared at his dad. His face was flush with cool tear tracks breaking the heat emanating from his cheeks. “You don’t deserve grandchildren,” he said vehemently. Wanting to wound, he added, “You don’t deserve me.” Not allowing his parents another word, Scorpius pushed his chair back and fled to his room.
The argument that broke out after his departure from the dining room could be heard two floors up. Scorpius pulled out the book where he stashed his notes from Albus and thumbed through a few of the more recent messages. They were all signed “With love, Al.” He wished that the words, “I love you,” would come tumbling out of his mouth, but whenever he tried to talk about their relationship Scorpius sounded more like his father than a boy in love.
A soft knock at the door preceded Astoria’s voice, “Scorpius, I’ve brought you water.” Shoving the book and notes under his pillow, Scorpius sat up in bed as his mother pushed the door open. She sat on the edge of his bed and offered him a tall glass of water. “I know it’s hard to hear at your age, but sometimes there’s a responsibility to your family that outweighs your own passing desires,” she said with a hand on her son’s knee. “I wasn’t thrilled when your father came by as my suitor. I even cried on our wedding day.” Scorpius hadn’t heard his mother talk about her marriage like this before. “The point is if I hadn’t listened to my parents and married your father I wouldn’t have you.”
Bugger. Between the tears in the corner of his mum’s hazel eyes and the watery smile, Scorpius could feel his stubborn wall wobbling under her gaze. “There aren’t any girls I like,” he said stubbornly.
“How much have you really tried looking?” she asked raising a dark eyebrow. “With all your time spent with your friends I’m surprised you know girls exist at all. Try spending time with a few.”
Scorpius stared at his knees thinking about his mum’s encouragement. “What about love?” he asked feeling tears threatened to make a reappearance.
“Love takes many forms, Scorpius. The love between two friends in a youthful relationship is quite different than a romantic relationship.” Laughing lightly she added, “You’re not the first boy to fancy his friend. You live at a boarding school for Merlin’s sake.” Seeing the scowl on her son’s face, Astoria added, “Not that your feelings aren’t real. Just consider the family and your father.”
Taking the empty glass with her, Astoria left her son’s room. His voice reached her as she shut the door, “Mum, thanks.” Smiling she went downstairs to continue on the party plans for the next day. Scorpius went to bed wrestling with the idea of trying to date a witch rather than being solely occupied with his best mate. Maybe if he stopped spending all his time with Albus a girl or two would catch his eye.
It was not a restful night for the young man. Thoughts of Albus filled his head. Was it love he felt? He thought so but the idea was scary to admit. Scorpius tried to appear strong and austere at all times and love was nothing if vulnerable. A relationship with a woman he did not love might feel less scary.
Tugging at the neck of his dress robe the next evening, Scorpius looked himself over in the mirror. The instructions from his parents were clear – greet every guest cordially and compliment where appropriate, dance with anyone who asked, and be a gracious host to their guests. Not wanting to be the only people for the first guests to talk to, Scorpius hid in his room until the party had officially been underway for more than a quarter hour. He had just descended the last stair into the large foyer when he saw Harry Potter at the door. Scorpius was just reflecting how much Al resembled his father when, as if pulled to the party by Scorpius’ thoughts, Albus walked through the front door. Hands suddenly sweaty, Scorpius watched as Harry appeared to be explaining something to his father which was laughed off. Was he explaining why his son was there instead of his wife? Was he telling Draco that their sons snogged non-stop at school? Whatever it was caused Draco to make a bee-line to Scorpius.
“Potter brought his son instead of his wife. There won’t be other kids your age – keep him occupied,” Draco said with a crisp voice. Clearly his father had not given much thought to the identity of Scorpius’ secret admirer or he wouldn’t have given his son such an instruction.
Wearing a wicked smile, Albus made his way toward Scorpius. “I see you got my present,” he said hugging Scorpius and brazenly kissing his cheek. “Don’t worry,” he whispered, “the adults are too busy socializing to notice two teenagers saying hello.”
“They might notice if you snog me in the middle of the room,” Scorpius said smiling at the room at large. “That’s not an offer, Al,” he added coolly catching the gleam in his friend’s eye.
Harry made his way towards the two boys. “Al, I said to stay by me,” Harry said after greeting Scorpius.
“I was just saying hi to Scorpius here,” Albus said putting his arm around Scorpius and shaking his shoulder. “I need the company of someone my own age. You’ll be too busy talking about politics and work nonsense.”
Harry wore a bemused expression for a few moments. “I seem to recall you begging to come. I would have said no if I knew it would be a bore.” Albus was giving his dad the panicked look of a teenager whose parent was being the height of un-cool. Harry laughed at shook his head. “You and Scorpius can pal around – just don’t break anything or wander too far off.”
Waiting for his dad to disappearing into the growing mass of people, Albus asked, “Want to ditch the party and go upstairs?”
“I have to stay down here and be social,” Scorpius mumbled. “Host’s duty.”
They hung around the main room while the adults socialized with one another. Most were quite content to ignore the two boys chatting in a corner of the room. A few hours into the party, most of the adults were drunk enough to not care where Scorpius and Albus got off to. Deciding to show him around the house, they ended up in the cellar below the party. “It’s a bit eerie in here,” Albus said hugging himself as he looked around the dimly lit room.
“Mum and Dad don’t like it when I come down there,” Scorpius said quietly. “There is something peaceful about this room. I know it was used for evil in the war but it’s the only place in this house that I don’t feel overwhelmed by pomp and predicated behavior.”
The waltz that just started above them could be heard muffled through the thick floor. “Do you want to dance?” Albus asked extending a hand and bowing slightly. Smiling, Scorpius took Albus’ hand. Neither of them really knew how to waltz so they did a slow back and forth movement where both of them avoided stepping on the other’s feet.
Dancing, rather shuffling around the room together, transformed the dank cellar into a warm and romantic setting. Rubbing the back of Albus’ neck, Scorpius said in what he hoped was a sultry voice, “This is my kind of party. You, me, and no one else to interrupt.” Albus looked as if he had a witty retort on the tip of his tongue but his comment was stayed by a lingering kiss from his host. There was definite desire in the kiss but a touch of hesitance that felt unfamiliar between them. Scorpius debated telling Albus that their relationship would change when they got back to school. Part of him just wanted to enjoy the evening and the feel of those lips against his own. That evening, each kiss felt like a lie and each caress a betrayal.
Not half an hour after they had descended the staircase together, a voice carried down to them. “Albus?” came Harry’s hesitant voice. “Are you down there?”
After one quick kiss to Scorpius, Albus answered his father’s voice. “I’m down here, Dad. Scorpius was showing me around.”
“There’s not much to see down there,” he said in an unusually crisp voice. “It’s late – we’re leaving.”
Both boys dropped the other’s hand before entering the light of the stairway. “Goodnight, Scorpius,” Albus said with a glance to his friend. “See you at school.”
“Goodnight, Al, Mr. Potter,” Scorpius said donning his cordial tone. Waiting a few minutes for the two Potters to leave, Scorpius rejoined the rest of the party upstairs. His parents, who were quite occupied with the guests and didn’t notice his absence or return to the group.
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