Chapter 5 : Live and Let Die
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“Oh thank Merlin, I’m starved,” Rose said, sitting up with a ravenous look on her face.
“Did you say up here all day?” Lily asked, fighting back a smirk.
“Except when Aunt Ginny left for a bit this afternoon. Which was good because I had to use the loo,” Rose laughed, then added, “I think she would have come to investigate the flush.”
Lily settled on her beanbag chair and watched her cousin eat for a few minutes. Rose had been a secret guest in the Potter household for a few days – ever since a disillusioned Rose knocked on Lily’s bedroom door while she was getting ready for work and asked if she could kip there. They spend the first evening Rose was there gossiping about Rose’s encounter with Scorpius. Lily could tell the information had hurt her cousin but it explained why Albus had been subjected to such heartbreak.
“How long will you hide out from the rest of the family?” Lily asked, breaking the silence between them. “I’m not sure how much longer Mum will buy that I skipped lunch and am hungry enough for two,” she teased.
“I don’t know,” Rose signed. “Just tell Aunt Ginny you’re pregnant and she’ll pile food on you.”
Lily looked a mixture of appalled and amused at the idea. “Dad would start hexing blokes on the spot,” she joked. “But, really, that wouldn’t be a funny joke.”
Rose sat up and leaned towards her cousin, a knowing look in her eyes. “Who are you shagging?”
The blush on Lily’s cheeks were enough to indicate that there was a man in her life. “It’s no one. Well, not no one,” she rambled. “Just someone I met at work.”
“A coworker?” Rose spat, her eyes widening slightly.
“Of course not,” Lily reassured her. “He’s someone I met doing research for a story.” With a wave of her wand, Lily caused a clipping from the Daily Prophet to sail through the air which Rose snatched before reached its destination.
“Endangered Magical Vegetation?” she asked with her brows raised. After glancing over the article, Rose looked up to see Lily’s blush creeping out of her cheeks. “What’s the vegetable’s name?”
Ignoring the jab from Rose, Lily smiled broadly as she said, “Archie Boot.”
This caused Rose to laugh, then stifle her face in a pillow as not to be heard. “Archie?” she asked once her laughter subsided? “Please tell me he’s at least hot.”
“He could be on the cover of Witch Weekly – if it featured hot wizards,” Lily giggled. “And his first name is really Archibald but goes by Archie instead.”
Rose crinkled her nose, then said in an imitation of a husky voice, “Oooh, Archie.” She was almost in tears from laughing now. “Sorry, I just can’t picture that name being a good one for the sack.”
“And Scorpius was so much better,” Lily shot at her, forgetting that he was a sore subject at the moment. This stopped Rose’s laugher instantaneously. “Sorry, Rose, I just meant-“
“Touché,” Rose said in a good natured tone that didn’t match her feelings. “Tell me more about Mr. Boot.”
“He’s a vegetation specialist who and has gorgeous eyes. We’ve been going out for a few weeks but I haven’t told Mum and Dad about him. I don’t want Dad to go mental and Mum will want to have him over for dinner,” Lily said with her face glowing.
Rose recognized the early symptoms of love – having gone through similar phases in past relationships. “Maybe you could stand subjecting him to lunch with your favorite cousin.”
“Yeah, but Dominique is staying with her grandparents in France,” Lily said with her tongue shooting out towards Rose.
“Hilarious,” Rose joked flatly. “Besides meeting a hot bloke, how is your life as a reporter?”
“It’s fabulous, darling,” Lily giggled then said in a more serious voice, “If you consider doing grunt work and research fabulous. I’ll get my own story soon but they start everyone off just doing fact-checking or editing.”
“But it leads to what you want to do, right?” Rose checked, hoping that Lily wasn’t headed towards a dull career like she would be at the Ministry.
“There’s promise of a very prestigious reporter position if I stick with it,” Lily told Rose with a smile. “I might try working on submissions in my free time to show that I have more talent than just being the research aid.”
It sounded like a promising start for someone just a year out of Hogwarts to Rose. She was slightly jealous that Lily would head right into her career of choice. Rose sighed, feeling slightly adrift in her own life and rolled onto her back on the bed. Above her head there was a poster of the all wizard boy bad Enchant’d. “I think a muggle poster of them would be less creepy,” Rose decided, her mind wandering from the conversation. “Four blokes looking down on your bed at night – doesn’t that give you the willies?”
Lily looked up at the poster she begged for when she was 15. Despite her dad’s misgivings about his daughter being boy crazy, let her have the poster in her room. “Hardly. I just don’t look at them when I’m trying to-“
A knock at the door stopped both of them from talking. “Lily, are you in there?” Ginny asked from the other side of the door.
Panic struck both girls as Rose scrambled off the bed and tried to find a place to hide in the small bedroom. “In the closet,” Lily whispered, pointing. While she wasn’t on the run from her parents, Lily knew she’d get an earful for concealing Rose while Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione were going spare looking for her.
Without waiting for her daughter’s reply, Ginny opened the door. “Are you with someone in here?” she asked, looking around the room.
“Just me. I was talking to myself about an article I’m working on,” Lily fibbed.
Ginny stepped into the room and noticed the two glasses and rucksack in the corner. “I think I put my red jumper in with your laundry,” she said, walking towards the closet door.
Lily was in an outright panic now. “I don’t think so, Mum. I don’t like red,” she said with a glance towards her red slippers on the floor. “I mean, I would have noticed.”
Opening the closet door, Ginny flicked her wand towards the lamp, causing a light to flood her daughter’s closet. She looked through the clothes and came within inches of Rose, who was crouched in the corner with a disillusionment charm cast on herself. “It must be in my pile. Thanks for letting me look, sweetheart,” she said, turning to leave. Before leaving the room, Ginny stopped to give her daughter a piercing stare. “If you see Rose, please have her contact Ron and Hermione.”
“I’ll tell her – if I see her.”
The door clicked shut and Lily sank onto her beanbag chair. “The coast is clear,” she said in a low voice.
Rose emerged from the closet with the charm still cast on her. “That was close,” she muttered, wiping sweat from her forehead.
“You really should try talking to them again,” Lily told her cousin, hoping that they wouldn’t’ have to keep playing hide and go seek when her parents dropped in.
“James, did you move that cologne Lily gave me?” Albus called from their bathroom, rummaging through the cabinet under the sink. “Never mind, I found it.”
Albus was staring at his reflection in the mirror, scrutinizing his appearance. James knocked on the door, causing it to open slightly. “Did you say something?” he asked with a hesitant glance in the loo.
“Yes, but I found what I was looking for,” Al told him. “How do I look?” he asked as he turned to face his older brother.
James looked his brother up and down then smirked. “Well, I would think that your night would start with clothes on then work towards partial nudity.”
Glancing down, Albus realized he was just wrapped in his bath towel. “You’re hilarious, real witty.”
“What have you been doing in here for the last half hour?” James asked as if he expected to find a dead body lurking about with that amount of time in the bathroom.
“Shower, shave, hair, cologne,” Albus listed off. “Next I’ll get dressed, to your point.”
Shutting the door, James called, “I’ll leave you to it,” giving Albus privacy to finish getting ready.
His dress robes were hanging inside the bathroom door as were trousers and a button-up shirt. This was the first fancy date Albus and he wanted it to go well. His stomach was churning excitedly as he thought about an evening with Brandon – a night of romance.
Emerging from the bathroom, fully dressed and ready for his night, Albus went to the sitting room where James was thumbing through the latest copy of Quidditch Weekly. “You look quite dapper,” his brother said after a quick glance over the top of his magazine. “Where is it you’re going?”
“A place called La Petite Douceur, which is supposed to be pretty swank,” Albus told James, checking his watch. He still had over half an hour until he was supposed to meet Brandon at the restaurant. Albus took a seat on their couch, drumming his fingers against the cloth.
James made room for his younger brother and set the magazine face down to save his place. “Are you and Brandon getting serious again?” James asked in an attempt at casual conversation.
As if his nerves weren’t already through the roof – a conversation about where his relationship with Brandon was headed only set Al further on edge. Albus wanted it to go well despite the tug he still felt in his stomach towards Scorpius, but if he could move on, so could Al. “I’m not really sure what constitutes serious,” Al responded finally.
“A posh dinner sounds serious,” James commented. When Al didn’t respond, James went on, “You know, Derrick has been asking about you.”
“Oh,” Albus let out as he exhaled. He hadn’t given the quidditch player much thought in the past weeks.
Laughing, James reassured Albus, “I told him you’ve been busy but didn’t say with what.”
Al gave a lopsided grin before asking, “How is quidditch going?” knowing that the answer would easily fill the remaining time before he had to leave.
Predictably, Al had to cut James off from his quidditch monologue to leave on time to the restaurant. It was luck and skilled apparition that brought Albus to La Petite Douceur with five minutes to spare. Thinking that Brandon was likely to have arrived by now, Albus walked up to the maître d’ who was looking over a list of reservations at his stand.
Being Al’s first time at such a nice restaurant, he wasn’t sure if he should interrupt the host or wait for him to look up. Contemplating his action, Al looked around what he could see of the restaurant for signs of Brandon. The dining area was lit with floating candelabras that reminded him greatly of Hogwarts. There were tiny clusters of light floating throughout the restaurant to illuminate the area with a romantic glow. The windows, which showed a view of the canals in Vienna, had beautiful curtains that were mostly pulled back to provide a nice view that the magical windows they covered.
A small cough brought Albus’ attention to the maître d’ who seemed to notice his lurking presence. “May I help you, sir,” he asked politely.
“Oh, yes, I’m here to meet Brandon Savage. I, um, think there’s a reservation,” Albus spluttered, feeling uncomfortable with the formality of the place and host.
“He has not arrived but I can show you to your table if you wish,” the tall man offered. After Albus’ nod of assent, he was walked back to a cozy table with a tiny sign on it that said reserved. Seating himself in the sturdy but ornate chair, Albus looked up at the maître d’, unsure if he was expected to say anything else. “I can show you a menu if you’d like,” the host offered, seeing that Albus was unsure of etiquette in this situation.
“No thank you. I’ll wait for Brandon,” Al choked out, wishing he could stop his heart from racing. Glad of the time to collect himself and stomp out the uprising of nerves, Albus tried to look more composed than he felt. He traced his thumb along the intricate napkin holder and waited. Brandon would surely arrive soon.
First ten, then fifteen minutes passed and Al was still alone at the table. He looked at his watch every few minutes to ensure that he wasn’t imagining the passage of time. Each five minute increment of waiting caused another knot to form in Albus’ stomach.
Worry set in as time ticked on. He could have run late – maybe work was keeping him. Brandon tended to be punctual which wasn’t helping Al squelch the new anxiety that budded in his chest. When the waiter came by for the fourth time, with a basket of bread and a menu, Albus finally accepted these as food and something to look at would help Brandon’s absence from their date pass quicker.
Looking down the menu, Albus saw that the food was almost three times as much he would have considered paying at any other restaurant. The thought of an expensive dinner had sounded romantic, but with his date being now nearly 45 minutes tardy, it was becoming at best a farce. Albus politely refused the waiter’s continued offer to put in for an appetizer as he doubted that he had the gold to cover even their cheapest snack.
After an hour, Albus was tired of waiting. “Excuse me,” he called to the passing server. “I’m going to leave. What do I owe for…” Al’s voice trailed off as he glanced at the empty bread basket and glass of water.
“It’s our compliments, Mr. Potter,” The waiter said with a smile. “I’ll let Mr. Savage know you were here if he arrives.”
“Please do,” Al managed, pushing his chair back to leave.
He couldn’t face going straight home and face telling James that he was stood up. Not quite feeling satiated by the bread and water, Albus headed to Dragon Tail for a quick bite and a drink.
The bar was full of other young witches and wizards out to enjoy their evening. Albus was more than overdressed for the pub, which caused him to stand out in his best dress robes and elegant attire. He was beyond caring what onlookers thought when Albus sidled up to the bar and ordered steak pie and a pint of ale.
The first sip of ale soothed Al’s frazzled nerves after such a build of emotion only to be plummeted down through worry and landing on embarrassment. Finished his first drink within minutes, Al called out, “Could I get another?” to the nearby barkeep. When the next mug was set in front of the still worked up wizard, he said a quick, “Thanks.”
“You look like someone stole your Pygmy Puff,” the bartender commented, setting down the steak pie and utensils.
“No, just my date,” Al told him with a moody stab to his food. “I showed up but he didn’t.”
Seeing that the second mug of ale was nearly empty, the bartender smiled and set another full mug on the counter. “On the house –always willing to help the brokenhearted.”
Somewhere during the third mug of ale, Albus’ worry and anxiety turned to anger. It had been Brandon who asked him out and then never bothered to show up. While a tiny voice in Albus’ head said there was a good reason for Brandon to be a no show, most of his brain did not care.
Four and five drinks later, Albus was quite certain that the entire date had been a joke, some cruelty dispensed by Brandon for unknown reasons. Albus knew exactly how to put the joke back on Brandon. Paying for his drinks and meal, Albus left the pub with a malicious, though slightly inebriated grin on his face.
It wasn’t the first time in the last week that Scorpius’ evening had been interrupted by a pounding on the door. Curious as to who would be calling at this hour and with such urgency, Scorpius grabbed his wand and moved to the door.
Before he could ask who it was, Albus’ slightly slurred voice came, “Scorpius, are you home?”
Merlin – that’s not who Scorpius expected. Opening the door, Scorpius let Albus in. Rather he got out of the way as Albus stumbled over the threshold. “Albus, are you…” he was about to ask if he okay but a more pertinent question came to mind. “Are you drunk?”
Albus laughed and shook his head but all signs were to the contrary. “I was just out having dinner and thought about visiting you,” Albus told the blond wizard. “I miss you.”
“I… I have a boyfriend,” Scorpius said, remembering the promise of being Corbin’s.
“Yes, but he’s in Spain,” Albus said with a gesture out the window.
“France, actually,” Scorpius corrected him quietly.
Stepping close to Scorpius, Al said in a not so quiet whisper, “He’s not here.” In a slightly quieter voice he added, “I’m here with you.”
“I’m not going to just snog you anytime you pop by and happen to be randy,” Scorpius insisted, feeling his eyes flutter as Albus’ hands unbuttoned his top. “I’m not going to cheat on Corbin,” he said with a firm step back from Albus.
Nodding with a heavy head, Albus said, “Okay, you’re right of course. I’m just so… so confused. I want you and I want…” Albus stopped, not able to be quite that honest with Scorpius.
“I’ve wanted to be a couple again too,” Scorpius confessed quietly, incorrectly guessing Al’s next words. Part of his resolve breaking, Scorpius offered, “Why don’t you stay here for a bit while you sober up. I’ll make you tea.”
A few hours and a lot of tea later, they had been mostly talking during that time period but Al’s unusual candor caused them to connect in a way that they hadn’t since their falling out at Hogwarts. Scorpius was without a shirt and Albus had taken off his robes. Slow kisses were clouding both of their judgment even though they were at a point where neither could say it was alcohol guiding their actions.
Albus wanted to keep kissing Scorpius but he couldn’t forget the other’s request about not just being a hookup. “I should probably head home,” Albus said, looking away from Scorpius’ eager expression.
“I know what I said earlier, but I’d like it if you could say,” Scorpius said in a low voice. Al’s eyes snapped to Scorpius’ at these words. “Promise me it won’t just be tonight,” he murmured, kissing Albus’ hand.
Shaking his head, Al responded, “Definitely not just tonight.”
The two young men reached familiar ground between them once they ambled into Scorpius’ bedroom. In some ways it felt like they had been together the entire time but in others they were very different people together. Scorpius noticed that Albus had gained muscle, perhaps from stocking his uncle’s store and electing to carry heavy crates in lieu of using magic for simple tasks. Albus, on the other hand, noticed that what boyhood fat Scorpius had was gone and had been replaced by a rather lean frame. . He worried that Scorpius wasn’t able to afford to feed himself well but soon forgot the thought as they delved into passionate oblivion.
The next morning felt like waking up in home after having been gone on an unnecessarily long holiday. “Do you have to work today?” Albus asked Scorpius after kissing his bare shoulder.
“No, I’m only open a few Saturdays a month,” Scorpius told him with a grin. “Do you have to work?” Albus shook his head. “We could stay in if you’d like.”
“That sounds great,” Albus smiled. He knew James hadn’t expecting home the previous night and wouldn’t be worried if he was gone Saturday too. “I’m free all day – I just have to make it to my parent’s for brunch tomorrow.”
Standing up, Scorpius felt more at ease with another person than he had in recent memory. “That can be arranged.”
“I can make us breakfast,” Albus piped up after a few moments of silence. Seeing uncertainty on Scorpius’ face he added, “I’ve learned a few things living on my own too.”
Much to Scorpius’ surprise, Albus was able to make a rather good omelet, adequate toast, and a perfect cup of tea. At least he wasn’t completely hopeless around the flat. Neither felt up to much after that so the spent the day unconcerned with the outside world.
Neither would admit it, but they each felt moments of guilt about the men who they weren’t with while they were together. Scorpius decided he would just have to tell Corbin that he was seeing someone else. Hopefully the news wouldn’t be too much of a blow for the man to hear. Albus was still bitter about Brandon abandoning their date but wished he’d been able to give their relationship another chance.
Before bed the next evening, Scorpius had to ask Albus the very question he had avoided while they were together at school. “Are we dating?”
The question didn’t quite take Albus by surprise as much as it caused guilt to constrict his throat. “I… I don’t know, Scorpius,” he said truthfully. “A weekend together doesn’t mean we’re dating.”
His response nettled Scorpius. “I told you, I don’t want to just bounce between you and Corbin and I thought you staying-“ he was at a slight loss of words.
“I was going to leave because I didn’t want to make a huge commitment just for a night – or weekend – with you,” Albus shot back, not wanting to admit culpability in Scorpius’ letdown. “Are you and Corbin exclusive?”
The question felt clunky and foreign to Scorpius who had only thought of dating one person at a time. Perhaps Albus had more dating experience outside of school than he did. “I don’t… we haven’t discussed it,” Scorpius confessed, though he was sure that Corbin thought of them as an item.
“I just need time to figure out where I’m headed,” Albus told him, feeling a moment of discomfort at the idea not having Brandon.
“You can have time,” Scorpius said coolly. He was uncomfortable having their relationship in the air but couldn’t’ for Albus to make up his mind. In the meanwhile, he’d have to decide what he wanted.
After an awkward goodbye the next morning, Albus went by his flat to change. Feeling grateful that James had already left, he found something other than his formalwear to don for the day. Before leaving his flat, Albus looked to see if there was a message from Brandon on their kitchen counter where post usually ended up. There wasn’t anything other than a notice from the Ministry about recent legislative changes.
“Figures,” Al muttered to himself about the silence from Brandon. “He could at least apologize,” he complained to the empty room as he grabbed a handful of Floo powder.
A few moments of spinning and green flame later, Albus was in the sitting room of his parent’s home. Lily walked past with a tray of food and said, “Dad’s been looking for you.”
Watching her go by with way more food than he and James would even try to eat, Albus headed towards the dining room where his parents likely were. Upon seeing his youngest son, Harry stood up. The stoic look on his face did not bode well for Albus.
“Albus, I need to speak with you,” Harry said with a heavy tone in his voice. It was a tone Albus rarely heard at home – it recalled scenes of serious discussions of dark activity, work, and in the most serious times, death. “I need to talk to you about Brandon.”
A weight heavier than lead dropped in Albus’ stomach as he took a seat and waited for the worst.
A/N: I’m just going to go… hide… Next chapter we’ll find out what news Harry has about Brandon. Thoughts?
La Petitie Douceur is French for the little sweetness and the chapter title is a song from James Bond.
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