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Chapter 5 : v. the tell-all [or] don't hold back now
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A/N: Please be advised that this chapter is slightly different in tone to previous chapters, and does include references to sensitive topics such as panic attacks and alcoholism.
Two days later it becomes clear that whatever Sean was doing was a decoy, when the second edition of the school magazine, Draco Dormiens, hits the house tables in the Great Hall during breakfast.
“Oh shit,” Albus mutters, spying the major headline. “Hogwarts’ Golden Couple: Forbidden Love?”
“That better not be about us.” Scorpius leans over his shoulder. “Page six. Turn, turn, turn –fuck.”
I peer over Albus’s shoulder. “Give us a look.”
“Get your own,” Albus replies, turning away.
I snatch a copy off a passing third-year – “Consider this confiscated,” and flick aggressively through the pages until I find the article.
Forbidden Love between Potter and Malfoy: Cousin Lucy Weasley Gives the Inside Scoop on the Family Feud!
Hogwarts’ golden couple, Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy of Ravenclaw, may have more than coming out as gay to contend with now their love is out in the open. Lucy Weasley, cousin and close friend of Albus Potter –
“Close friend my arse,” Albus growls.
– has revealed in an exclusive interview to Draco Dormiens that the Potter and Malfoy families have nursed a bitter feud since the boys’ fathers, Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy, were classmates at Hogwarts. “They despised each other,” Weasley reveals. “There were incidents throughout their time at Hogwarts, including some instances of Dark magic and other violence. Frankly, I hate to see what their reaction is going to be when they find out about their sons’ relationship.” Louis Weasley, also a cousin of Albus’s, backs up Lucy’s story. “There’s some bad blood there, all right,” Weasley confirms. “We’ve all grown up with the stories, and of course it goes beyond a schoolboy rivalry. Malfoy joined the Death Eaters in his sixth year, so they were quite literally on opposing sides of the war.”
Draco Dormiens, after extensive research, has confirmed this. Head Boy Scorpius Malfoy may be a far cry from his Death Eater father, but the tension between the families will certainly put a strain on this fairytale romance. Can Albus and Scorpius survive this obstacle? Only time will tell!
“No,” Scorpius murmurs.
Albus snatches the magazine up, crumpling it in one clenched fist, and I feel my rage surge along with his. How dare Louis and Lucy spread their tabloid bullshit all over Hogwarts – and in such a public medium? I’m getting to my feet, ready to follow Albus to the Gryffindor table, when Scorpius wordlessly reaches out and tugs my sleeve. All the colour has drained from his face, and his grip on my sleeve tightens.
“Keep an eye on Albus,” I tell Holly, and usher Scorpius out of the Great Hall as quickly as I can.
There’s an abandoned storeroom on the ground floor, just off the Entrance Hall, and I steer Scorpius inside, locking the door behind us. The moment we’re alone, he falls into a crumpled heap on the floor. “Oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit – ”
“Hey,” I say softly, kneeling on the cold stone beside him. “It’s going to be fine.”
He shakes his head violently, sucking in air between words. “It’s not, it’s not, my dad – oh shit, shit shit shit shit shit!” His voice cracks on the final word and he starts sobbing in earnest. I can do nothing but sit as he clings to my hand with a deathlike grip, rubbing his back as he buries his face in his knees.
“Breathe,” I remind him softly, because he’s hyperventilating now. “Hey, Scorp. You’re okay. Just breathe. Look at me. Breathe.”
“I can’t – Rose, I can’t – ”
“Yes you can. Look at me.”
He does, and I silently thank God that he hasn’t shut down completely. “Breathe with me. In…out. In…out. That’s it, you’re doing great. In…out.”
He’s still shaking violently, his stubby nails digging into my palm, but at least he’s breathing properly now. “Tell me about Albus,” I say, when I judge that it’s okay for him to talk. “Did you know, after all these years, none of us actually know how you two ended up together?”
“I don’t really know either,” he says eventually, and to my relief I see a small smile tug at his lips. “It’s just…always been him, you know? It’s always Albus. I had a crush on him before I even knew what a crush was.”
“What about your first kiss? How did that happen?”
“You’ll laugh,” he says, shaking his head.
“Promise I won’t.”
“Remember when you and Holly forced us to play truth or dare in second year?”
“There was no forcing involved,” I say haughtily.
“Yeah, well,” he continues, “And how we all asked each other whether we liked someone and we all said no?”
“We were the ultimate thirteen-year-olds.”
“Yeah,” he says. “That night, we were in the bathroom and Albus mumbles around his toothbrush that he was lying, and I mumble around mine that I was too, and we finish brushing our teeth and he’s staring at me, and I’m thinking something stupid like shit do I have toothpaste on my face, and then he just…kissed me.” He pauses, allowing a chuckle to escape. “It was terrible. We were thirteen and I hadn’t grown into my nose and neither of us knew what we were doing, but…I wouldn’t change it for the world, either.”
“You guys are adorable.”
“Don’t you start,” Scorpius says sternly. “You’re our last bastion of sanity.”
I straighten up, pulling out my wand and conjuring Scorpius a handkerchief. He accepts it gratefully, dabbing at his eyes, and exhales slowly – once, twice, three times, hands curled into fists. “Right. I’m all right. What do we have first?”
“Defence,” I reply, checking my watch. “In five. We – don’t need to go.”
It feels weird saying it, but I’m bolstered by the sight of Scorpius, still blotchy and deathly pale even if he is currently trying to force a smile. We don’t need to go to Defence Against the Dark Arts. We shouldn’t go to Defence Against the Dark Arts, not with Scorpius in this state and not with the course content being what it is (at this level, Professor Thomas pulls no punches when it comes to talking about the Second Wizarding War and the Death Eaters.)
“I don’t think I will go,” Scorpius says at length. “If it were anything else – what do we have second?”
“You have History of Magic.”
“Why, what are you studying?”
“The fucking war,” Scorpius says heavily. “God. And with the news fresh in everyone’s minds that I’m a – that Dad was – ”
“Scorp,” I say carefully, “It was twenty-five years ago. None of us were even born.”
“That doesn’t matter though, does it?” Scorpius asks. “Rose, can you look me in the eye and tell me that the war hasn’t affected you at all? That you don’t see the ghosts of it in your mum or dad’s eyes?”
“Well…” I falter.
“Exactly. But they’re all right though, aren’t they? They got the Order of Merlin, they can look back on what they did with pride, your parents. My dad can’t. He lied, grovelled, hid, crawled on his knees in the mud just so I could grow up without the label of Death Eater’s son, he buried those two years of his life under shame and Firewhiskey, and for what? For it all to be plastered across Hogwarts – because of me.”
“Don’t you dare blame yourself for anything those pieces of shit we call classmates did.”
He ignores that. “Did you know Dad’s two years sober this Christmas?”
“I didn’t know that he – ”
“Nobody did,” he says, cutting me off. “It was never my secret to tell, you know? He never hurt anyone, with the drinking. Except himself. I’d go downstairs and he’d be sitting there, a glass of Firewhiskey in his hand…just staring at the scars the Dark Mark left on his arm, and he’d stay there until he fell asleep or passed out, whichever came first.”
“Christmas of fifth year, he quit. Cold turkey. Nobody ever told me why, but whatever it was – it must have been bad…but I’m proud of him. I don’t get many opportunities to be proud of him. I don’t stand up any straighter when someone introduces me as Draco Malfoy’s son. You know how the highest praise our teachers give you is that you’re like your mum? Or that Albus is like his dad? The highest praise they give me is that I’m not.”
That stops me dead, because it’s true and because it’s never even crossed my mind to think about it. Ever since I started at Hogwarts, every member of staff who taught my mother, or was at school with her, or ever met her, has told me how much like her I am, how I got my abilities or my intelligence or my work ethic from her. Albus’s character is praised to high heaven because he’s so much like uncle Harry, but with Scorpius it’s always been the tone of surprise. “You’re a better student than your father, that’s for sure,” and “You’ll make an excellent Prefect, unlike your father,” and “I’d never have guessed you were a Malfoy.”
“You are like your dad though,” I say, not sure if this is the right approach to take, but already committed. “You’re the spitting image of him, for starters. Except – you know – younger and with more hair.”
“I’m glad you added that.”
“And – well, I’ve met your dad. And I’ve heard enough about him to know – well. That he’s standoffish and proud and a little bit intimidating – ”
“I’m hardly intimidating.”
“You haven’t seen yourself in Head Boy mode. But Dad’s always saying how your dad was a complete mummy’s boy at Hogwarts, and well – you know he loves you and your mum, anyone can see that – and whatever he did when he was a scared teenager in the middle of a war doesn’t count for much in my opinion – not when he cares so much about his family. And you’re exactly the same, you know. We’re not family, but we might as well be for the way you care about us, and I think that’s a Malfoy trait worth being proud of.”
He pulls me into a hug. “How cliched would it be if I cried into your hair?”
“Everyone’s cried into my hair. It’s the sole purpose of the Granger mane.”
He releases me after five minutes, fumbling behind himself for the handkerchief I conjured him earlier. “What am I going to do without you?”
“Train Albus,” I reply. “Get him to grow his hair.”
“You know what I mean.”
I do. Three of the five of us are prone to anxiety and panic attacks – Scorpius, Lester and me. Over the years we’ve learned how best to deal with them – and particularly who helps us through them the most. Holly is mine, Scorpius is Lester’s and I’m Scorpius’s. I don’t quite know how it worked out that way – though Holly’s my best friend and I’m closest to her out of everyone (except maybe Albus, but he’s useless in anything approaching a crisis) and Lester and Scorpius are very similar in temperament (we used to joke that they’re the Muggleborn and pureblood versions of each other) and Scorpius and I have accidentally become close over the last three years, mainly because I take his side whenever he and Albus have a fight (for one, he’s usually right, because Albus is infinitely more sensitive and temperamental than Scorpius, and very good at making drama where there shouldn’t be any – and secondly, I’m the only one who can make Albus see sense and apologise for it. Being family has its advantages)
“It’s October,” I say eventually. “None of us is going anywhere until June.”
“June isn’t that far away.” Scorpius pauses. “Don’t suppose you have any of that stuff that stops your face looking blotchy?”
I pass over the vial of potion. “Ready to face the world again?”
He glances at his watch. “Yeah. And you know what – I’m going to History of Magic.”
He shrugs. “I’ve been a Death Eater’s son since the day I was born, nothing’s changed. And if anyone looks at me or thinks of Dad any differently – they can suck it, to be honest. Thanks for everything, Rosie.”
He slings his backpack over one shoulder and departs for class. I smile, Vanish the handkerchief he left behind and make my way back to Ravenclaw Tower.
“We have our revenge plan,” Albus informs me in the common room that afternoon. “Where are Holly and Lester?”
“Arithmancy,” I reply, reluctantly shifting my legs off the couch to allow Albus and Scorpius room. “What’s the idea?”
“It’s not so much revenge as just a response that should piss them off,” Albus says. “We’re going to give an exclusive interview to Draco Dormiens, explaining that our fathers are actually on perfectly civil terms and both Lucy and Louis are obviously trying to mooch off our newfound fame.”
“They attended a charity function the other week run by your mum, Rose,” Scorpius adds. “There’s even a picture of them chatting away quite happily.”
“Happily is a term I would use loosely,” Albus interjects. “Civil. Let’s stick with civil.”
“Civil, then. Also, we’re coming out to our parents this weekend.”
“It’s all over the school,” Scorpius points out. “Well, it’s been all over school for a while, but now it’s actually in print, and we’d all rather that they heard from us, not a sensationalised student magazine run by a committee of sixth-year Hufflepuffs.”
“We want you to come with us,” Albus adds. “Moral support.”
“Aren’t you each other’s moral support?”
“Normally yes,” Scorpius replies. “But we’re both anticipating the worst here, and if he’s incapacitated by his father’s crushing disappointment, he can’t help me cower from my father’s cold fury. Both tasks will therefore fall to you.”
“We’re just covering all our bases,” Albus explains. “They’ll all be arriving in Vector’s office at ten tomorrow morning –we explained the situation, she’s letting us borrow her Floo.”
“You want me up by ten on a Saturday morning?” I ask. “You’re both lucky I love you.”
“We know. Thanks, Rosie.”
“If it all goes balls-up I’m going to tell them you’re pregnant,” Scorpius informs me. “Mum and Dad have thought you’re my secret girlfriend for at least the last two years. We’ll see how quickly they realise they prefer me gay.”
“Fuck’s sake,” I mutter.
I meet the boys in the common room at quarter to ten the next morning.
“Ready?” Albus asks.
“Ready,” Scorpius confirms. “Rose, it means a lot that you’re joining us in these our last moments.”
“Remember us,” Albus adds. “Tell everyone I died bravely.”
I roll my eyes and pull them both through the door. “You’ll be fine. And if you’re not, you can both haunt me for the rest of my life, whispering ‘I told you so’ into the darkness.”
“What an eternity,” Albus says.
They keep up a steady stream of witticisms as we make our way to Professor Vector’s office – which I know they’re only doing to hide the fact that they’re both genuinely terrified. I wonder briefly if they would be better off doing this alone and actually processing their emotions – then remember that Scorpius at least has done enough emotion processing in the last twenty-four hours to last a lifetime, and the priority right now is to just get him through this in one piece.
“After you,” I say when we reach Professor Vector’s office.
“Ladies first,” Albus says graciously.
I sigh, knocking briefly and opening the door.
“Rose,” Professor Vector says with a frown. “What are you doing here? I thought – ”
“Moral support,” I explain, ushering the boys in. “Where are their parents?”
“Not far,” Vector replies, checking the Floo. “Scorpius, yours are on their way.”
He nods, swallowing hard, and runs both hands through his hair.
There’s an ominous silence until the Malfoys arrive.
“Professor,” Mr Malfoy greets Vector, shaking her hand.
“Draco. Astoria,” Vector adds, and embraces Scorpius’s mother.
“Mum was Vector’s star student once,” Scorpius whispers by way of explanation.
The Malfoys are halfway through their greetings – Albus and I get a brief nod and a good morning from Mr Malfoy – before the Potters step out of the Floo.
“Harry,” Mr Malfoy says.
“Draco,” Uncle Harry returns. They shake hands before turning to the three of us. “What’s this all about, then?”
Professor Vector silently slips out of her office. I’m almost certain I’m the only one who notices – everyone else is silent and staring at each other.
“Well,” Albus begins. “Mum, Dad…Mr and Mrs Malfoy...Scorpius and I are together.”
“Dating,” Scorpius clarifies, and stares at his shoes.
The parents all exchange glances.
“How long has this been going on, Al?” Uncle Harry asks eventually.
“Three years,” he replies, staring at his father’s shoes.
“Three years?” Aunt Ginny repeats. “Albus, why didn’t you tell us sooner?”
“I was going to ask my son the same thing.” Mrs Malfoy crosses her arms. “Scorpius, why would you keep something like this from us?”
Albus and Scorpius both turn to me desperately, but before I can explain to them that this is actually something they have to handle themselves, Aunt Ginny rescues me. “No, don’t go looking to Rose to bail you out. I asked you a question.”
“I don’t know,” Albus says eventually. “It was just…scary. I’m not a Gryffindor.”
“I’m certainly not a Gryffindor,” Scorpius offers.
“Did you see this coming?” Aunt Ginny asks Mrs Malfoy, almost as an aside.
“I had my suspicions,” Mrs Malfoy replies. “Though I always thought Scorp was more likely to be with Rose…heteronormativity makes fools of us all.”
“So you’re…” Mr Malfoy is saying to Scorpius, “A…homosexual, is that what you’re saying?”
“Gay has less syllables,” Scorpius says. “But no. Yes. I don’t know. I like Albus. I’ve never looked at anyone else. Take of that what you will.”
“What about you, Albus?” Harry asks.
“Same as him, actually, Dad.”
“You can’t fault their devotion to each other,” Mrs Malfoy whispers to Ginny.
“I never have,” Ginny whispers back.
I sidle over to join the conversation. “They’re so good together it’s actually gross.”
“How long have you known about this?” Ginny asks.
I sidle away again.
“Rose Weasley,” Ginny hisses at me.
“A fair while,” I reply evasively. “But I’m sure there are more pressing issues for you to attend to.”
“I haven’t finished with you yet,” she tells me ominously, and steps forward to sweep an unsuspecting Albus into a bone-crushing hug.
The conversation between dads and boys has progressed far enough that Uncle Harry is now shaking Scorpius’s hand, while Mr Malfoy looks like he’s still struggling with something.
“You’re not going to have children, then?” he asks Scorpius eventually.
“It seems very unlikely, given the circumstances,” Scorpius replies.
“So that’s it,” Mr Malfoy says heavily. “Scorpius…son. I want what’s best for you, and if Albus Potter is what’s best…” He looks to his wife for support, then plunges on. “But you’re the last of the Malfoy line. The name dies with you.”
Scorpius reaches out, lacing his fingers with Albus’s. “Maybe it’s time for the name to die out,” he says quietly.
The silence that meets his words is deafening. Mr Malfoy looks around the room, then lets his gaze linger on his forearm and the sleeve which we all know conceals the remnants of his Dark Mark. “Maybe you’re right.”
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