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Chapter 6 : A View to a Kill
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Corbin opened his trunk that had been used in Paris and started to unpack his belongings. He had just a short while until Scorpius would be over for a drink before they went out for dinner. Looking for the gift he bought in Paris to give to the younger wizard, Corbin began to rummage hastily through his belongings. Corbin found the souvenir already unpacked – how forgetful of him.
Taking the time to tidy his flat, Corbin reflected that his worldly possessions did not show great material success as an adult. He lived in a meager flat with a hodgepodge of furniture and wizards robes. Many of his possessions were used or, if bought new, showed signs of use over the years. Most of the time, Corbin was living on his wits alone as he lacked the wealth to live in luxury and the connections needed for a lofty job.
A tap at the door pulled Corbin out of his thoughts and into a whirl of excitement over Scorpius visiting. Opening the door, he let the blond wizard in and pulled him into a hug. “Scorpius,” he said, relishing the name as it left his mouth. “I’ve missed you.”
Scorpius’ mouth was on his with a needy urge that made Corbin’s heart race. It was clear that the missing was not one-sided. Remembering quite vividly how youthful exuberance and longing combine, Corbin was not surprised when Scorpius began to let his hands snake to increasingly intimate places.
Pulling away from their slow kiss, Scorpius placed a peck on Corbin’s forehead. “I missed you too,” he breathed. Ignoring the part of his brain that was still dwelling on his flurry of passion with Albus not a few days past, Scorpius ran his hand Corbin’s short, wavy hair. “What are your plans for tonight?” Scorpius asked as his need for another snog increased.
A coy smile appeared on Corbin’s face as he responded, “Drinks, dinner, and then dessert.”
Catching onto Corbin’s meaning, Scorpius asked, “What about having dessert now?”
Never one to turn down a handsome, eager man, Corbin nodded saying, “I think that can be accommodated.”
It was well past supper time when Corbin and Scorpius were ready to venture out for food. Neither minded eating late after enjoying time spent quite occupied catching up after time apart.
They went out to eat at a muggle Thai diner just down the way from Corbin’s flat. Once they were seated, Corbin took in the flushed glow on Scorpius’ cheeks and felt quite proud that he effected the other man so. Their waitress eyed them as she walked up, it was unclear if she was more caught off-guard by two men holding hands or their utterly bizarre attire.
“Are you ready to order?” she asked, giving them a polite – if not perfunctory – smile.
“Yes,” Corbin declared as he set the menu down. “I’ll have your Pad Thai with earl grey tea.”
Scorpius looked up, slightly alarmed at making a choice when there were so many items on the menu. “How about Panang Curry?” he ordered tentatively. “Oh, and a tea.”
After jotting down their orders, the waitress went to another table where a large group was waiting for their check. Waiting for her to be out of earshot, Corbin said, “I suppose we should have worn more muggle-appropriate attire.”
“Where would the fun be in that?” Scorpius asked with a coquettish smile.
“I imagine most of the fun is just in being out with you,” Corbin supplied, blushing at the earnest statement. He struggled at times to be vulnerable with people, especially when his heart was exposed to potential hurt. Some of his past relationships commented on his inability to connect without holding back but with Scorpius he wanted to put everything into their budding romance.
Scorpius stared down at this empty plate for a moment as he let Corbin’s words of devotion wash over him. He knew what he wanted to ask but he didn’t know if this was the right time, but when is the right time to discuss one’s relationship? “I was wondering…” he started, glancing up nervously. “D’you consider us exclusive?” Scorpius got out in one go. Every part of his face went red at the question as if it were heated by several suns.
It took all of Corbin’s control to not lash out against the question. Of course he considered them to be an exclusive couple – he thought that much was made clear before leaving for Paris. “I’m not sure why you’d ask that,” Corbin responded in a calm voice that hid the stampede of doubts surging through him.
“I was talking to a friend the other day and realized we never specified if-“
“Was this friend Albus?” Corbin cut through Scorpius’ explanation like a knife through butter.
Nodding, Scorpius continued, “He was just asking – there wasn’t anything behind the question.” The lie rolled off his tongue like rain from spring shower.
“Only uncivilized people go about dating multiple people at once,” Corbin shot off dismissively. “It’s base and much beneath someone of status.”
Laughing, Scorpius said, “I’m not of status. My family has money but I’ve been cut out of that.”
“You’re cut out of it right now,” Corbin corrected him. “You’ll reconcile with them sooner or later. It’s not like they have another heir.”
The waitress returned with their food, causing a lull in the conversation while they dished out the food and dug in. Scorpius was fascinated by the chopsticks and Corbin’s dexterity with them. If they weren’t a muggle restaurant, he’d try charming them into working on their own. But, as there were at least 10 muggles close by, he used a fork.
After several minutes of eating, Corbin asked quietly, “Are you seeing other people?”
Scorpius could tell that the mere idea of seeing other people cut Corbin deeply. “Of course not,” he lied, not knowing if a weekend with Albus counted as dating or not. Either way, he wanted to avoid retelling the situation to Corbin at risk of causing irreversible damage. “It was just a silly question.”
“I guess we all have a few of those sometimes,” Corbin smiled contentedly at Scorpius as they continued their meal.
It was uncomfortable for Scorpius to hide the truth from Corbin. He would have to decide soon if he wanted to fall back into Albus’ arms or explore what he was feeling for Corbin. The weekend with Albus felt like comfortable but exciting whereas his time with Corbin was thrilling in a way Scorpius struggled to explain.
It was a relief to no longer be sneaking around with a disillusionment charm on as Rose strode up the path to her parent’s house. She knew her plan to hide out in Lily’s bedroom was at best a short-lived escape. Worry about her parents, especially her mother’s, reaction welled up in Rose as she pushed open the door. Hugo was the first to spot Rose as she entered their home and called out “The runaway is back!”
“Stuff it, dipwad,” Rose hissed at her brother.
A loud cry of, “Rose,” caused her shoulders to hunch before facing her parents. Hermione pulled Rose into a tight hug that lasted for several moments. Their embrace was interrupted as Ron, a head taller than either of them, wrapped his arms around them both and placed his chin on Rose’s head.
“I’m so glad you’re home, Rosie,” he said, the smile evident clear in his voice. “I’ve never been so worried in my life,” he told her.
Hugo’s voice hit them as he left the happy reunion saying, “I guess I’ll take my stuff out of her room.”
Rose managed to spin around and stare at her brother’s retreating back. “He didn’t take-“
“Of course not, dear,” Hermione consoled Rose. “He’s just trying to bait you. Hugo missed you a great deal.”
“Sure he did,” Rose laughed.
Ron and Hermione let go of Rose and beamed at her, the joy of having her return home evident on their faces. Rose felt guilt and shame creep throughout her as she thought of the stress they must have gone through at her departure. She didn’t realize when she stormed out that they’d go through such an emotional time without her.
While the three of them were quite content to just be under one roof, Rose knew she had to make amends for her behavior and apologize for the heartache she caused her devoted parents. “Mum, Dad, I… I want to try talking to you again about my career,” she said bravely.
Hermione’s face was unusually tender as she said, “We can talk about that later, Rosie.”
“No, Mum. I’m ready to talk about this as an adult and I need to…” she paused, as the strange, mature words flowed from her mouth. “I need to apologize for what I put you both through.”
Tears, perhaps happy tears, welled in Hermione’s eyes as she nodded. “Let’s have a seat then.”
Ron and Hermione sat side by side, with their hands interlocked, and looked at their daughter with a sense of pride that comes with seeing their child reach a certain maturity.
“I’ve given this some thought over the last few days and I’ve come up with the following compromise,” Rose started in a confident voice. “I need six months to test out my business idea. I’ll spend a few weeks figuring out where people are travelling. I’ll need to do some research at the Ministry’s Hall of Records but I think Spain and Germany will come up as popular. Once I have destinations, I can put ads in the Daily Prophet. Hopefully this will get some customers.”
“So far this sounds like a good plan,” Ron told her encouragingly. Rose smiled at the vote of confidence. Her dad tended to have a good feel for strategy and people, though this talent was typically used against dark wizards.
Feeling encouraged, Rose went on, “I’ll lead tours twice a month, lasting one week. After a few months I should have a good idea if it’s a viable business. If it’s doesn’t work out, I’ll go back to the Ministry and work hard at whatever job I can get,” Rose finished with an apprehensive look towards her mother.
Hermione didn’t say anything for a few moments. Rose knew she was collecting and ordering thoughts, a common occurrence after receiving a significant amount of information. “You seem to have a good plan,” Hermione conceded. “We can support you while you test thing out,” she said with a glance at Ron.
“Thank you, Mum!” Rose squealed. “And Dad!” she added beaming at both of them. “I promise that I won’t let you down and that-“
“Rosie,” Hermione interrupted gently, “What kind of gold do you need to start this little business venture?”
Some of the wind went out of Rose’s sails as she contemplated this question. Money hadn’t quite entered into her equations on this business idea. “I need to do a bit more research on that,” Rose said winningly. “Most likely just the cost of marketing and any liability I’d need to have. I could apply for a loan at Gringotts once I have more-“
“There’s no need for that,” Ron said firmly. “We’ll lend you 300 galleons to start and you can pay us back later.”
Hermione pursed her lips but didn’t argue with Ron on this point. “But, do show the research when you get a chance,” she asserted, with a sneaking suspicion that Rose hadn’t considered what this would cost to do before now.
After agreeing to everything her mum said, Rose ran up to her room to put down her rucksack then take a long shower. She hadn’t felt properly clean since showering at Scorpius’ flat – and that had been using his products which left her smelling like a boy. Rose let the hot water steam up the bathroom before stepping under the flow of water. The heat seemed to burn away some of the tension she’d been carrying around. It was only after she shut the water off and the rush of cool air from out of the bathtub hit her, that Rose started to think about all that she still needed to accomplish in her life.
Being able to follow her dream job was one thing but she felt as if her love life was quite untended as of late. Apart from snogging a few cute guys at the pub in recent months, she hadn’t connected with anyone beyond ephemeral feelings encouraged by firewhiskey and friends. As she dried off, Rose decided that love, and similar problems, were to be solved for on another day.
The world was upside-down for Albus as his legs hung over the back of the couch and his head dangled just inches above the ground. A listless mood infected him as he was trying to sort out his thoughts, which was becoming increasingly difficult as blood rushed to his head. Life as he knew it had been ripped apart by a mere sentence from his dad.
“Are you going to stay like that all day?” James asked, emerging from his room.
Albus attempted to shrug but found it difficult with his position on the couch. “I might,” he said sullenly.
Sitting next to his brother, though right-side-up, on the couch, James decided to try his best at consoling Albus. “There’s no way you could have known,” James told his brother who was now trying to levitate as many magazines as he could at the same time. “Will you cut that out and talk about this?”
With a flick of his wand, the various quiddich magazines fell back to their spots. “Fine, let’s talk,” Al agreed as he rolled onto the floor and then sat on the couch, facing James.
“How do you feel?” James asked, not really sure how to go about having this conversation.
Al rolled his eyes in a rather unforgiving act of irritation. “How do you think I feel?” he snapped.
“Hurt? Confused?” James ventured, really not sure what a person would feel in Albus’ situation.
“Add angry and lost to that list,” Albus said as he stunned a fly midair.
James cast a wary eye towards Albus, not sure if his brother wanted to feel better about the news he’d been given quite yet. He had acted rational enough when Harry sat him down and explained, but now he was trying to live with a new reality. “There’s one thing I don’t get,” James murmured, more to himself than Albus.
“What’s that?” Al asked testily.
“I just thought he was, you know, gay.” James turned red as he said these words and broke his eye contact with Al at the look he was getting.
“Out of everything that happened, that’s your outstanding question?” Al spat, crossing his arms.
“Well, the rest of it kind of makes sense,” James smirked until he got a full-on blast of Albus’ icy glare.
“Don’t make light of it,” Albus fumed, pulling his knees up to his chin. “You don’t understand.”
James stood up so he could look at his brother properly. “Neither do you, Al,” he said crossly. “Dad only told you because he knew you two were getting close again. I don’t think he even knows all the details.”
“A daughter,” Al choked. “I just can’t believe he has a daughter.” A few moments later he added, “I guess he didn’t know about her either.”
Tears came to Albus, unbidden but bringing a type of release he needed. James rushed in to his brother’s side in the way only an older sibling can. “There, it’ll be okay, Al,” he cooed as if Albus were 5 years old again and had just smashed his toy broom apart. “You can still give it a go with Brandon once he sorts out the daughter situation.”
“It’s not just a problem that will go away,” Al said bitterly. “He’s saddled with a child just because some witch he banged snuffed it.”
“That’s not fair, Al,” James chided him. “If he’d known about the girl all along, he would have been involved from the start.”
It was Albus’ turn to get up and pace the room. “It’s just not fair,” Al began to rage. “Brandon and his stupid, fucking ‘I’m attracted to personalities first’ line.”
A dawning look of understanding hit James, “So he does like women.”
“Of course you toadstool,” Al grumbled, not wanting to waste time on insipid thoughts like that. “Do you think he mistook some witch for a bloke?”
“Merlin, Al, don’t jump down my throat,” James hollered, wishing that anyone else were there with him other this his moody brother. “How about I make you some tea?” he offered as he headed to their kitchen.
Deciding to take his time with the tea, James let the water heat on the range instead of using magic. It was a quiet 10 or so minutes until James returned to their couch with tea, cream, and sugar levitating ahead of him. “Thanks,” Al said sulkily once the tea was on their coffee table.
“I know this is hard for you, Al,” James said, taking another brave attempt at conversation. “I just imagine this is much more difficult for Brandon at the moment. Dad said he was devastated between finding out that woman died and that he had a child.”
Taking in a deep breath, Albus nodded. “I want to be supportive but… it’s a little out of my league.”
“Hippogriff shit,” James countered harshly. “You’ve helped with more babies than most people our age and you care about Brandon. It would be awful of you to drop him once his life gets a bit difficult.”
Albus was surprised to see James defend Brandon with such vigor. “I’m not going to drop him,” Al said after a steadying sip of tea. “I just need to clear my head a bit.” By clear his head he meant work out if he thought Brandon would be better for him than Scorpius but Albus couldn’t face confiding the truth behind his weekend to James.
James seemed to guess the nature of what Al meant when he said he had been kipping at Scorpius’ though as he said, “At least you have your choice of people,” came James’ slightly bitter voice. “I’m a fairly decent chaser but can’t get a date with a good-looking witch.”
It was Albus’ turn to console his brother – at least there was already tea made. “Have you really been looking that hard for a date?” Albus asked, hoping the question wouldn’t set James off.
“Of course I have!” James said, clearly nettled.
“It’s just… you’re at home a lot, mainly hang out with other blokes, and don’t talk to girls when they’re around,” Al told him in the nicest way he could without sugar-coating the truth.
James had a slightly irked look on his face but he seemed to accept Al’s words as truth. “What do you suggest?”
“Next party we throw, I’ll ask Rose and Lily to bring their girlfriends,” Al decided. “I’ll invite a few of mine too.”
“That’s a start,” James agreed. “But, how do I talk to him?” He looked apprehensive at the thought.
“We’ll figure that out together,” Albus promised him.
Albus gave James a smile, which was returned with interest. Perhaps neither of them really knew the first thing about girls but they’d work out what to do. For Albus, James’ situation was easier to solve. It was his own heart which seemed like an impossible enigma to understand. He decided that he’d write to Brandon first thing in the morning that way he wouldn’t be a distraction as the finer details of parenting were being learned by the auror. Albus didn’t know if he fancied dating someone with a child, let alone a young one.
So… What are your thoughts now? Were you expecting this to be the news about Brandon? Also, yay for Rose working things out with her family! And Corbin/Scorpius got some time together. Do you have a favorite ship so far? This chapter title is another James Bond song by Duran Duran.
I’m finishing this for JulNo, so please excuse typos/other issues as I’m cranking this out.
Thank you so much to Sarah and Jenna for being the only two to R&R the previous chapter so far. *hugs*
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