Scorpius contentedly sliced up ingredients for their potion. It was the last lesson before N.E.W.T.s. Potions had always been his favourite subject; nothing to do with his father’s preference for it, he just loved losing himself in the experience of creating something from a number of seemingly unrelated items. Al was his partner for their practical lessons. He always was. Throughout their seven years at Hogwarts, Scorpius had never worked with anyone else. At first, he had loved the experience. The two of them worked brilliantly together, making the potions perfectly - even if Scorpius said so himself - and had a lot of fun whilst doing so. Al may not have been as gifted as Scorpius when it came to brewing, but under Scorpius’ guidance he managed more than adequately.
Unfortunately, as the years stretched on, the fact he never got to partner with anyone else started to grate on Scorpius. It wasn’t that he particularly wanted to make potions with anyone else; it was that Al would not let him. Any time Scorpius even considered it, Al would pout and stomp and refuse to talk to him until Scorpius promised to work with him again. At first it hadn’t been too bad, they were best friends after all, and Scorpius did love working with Al. Then it got to the stage where Scorpius realised just why Al wanted to work with him, just why Al hated it if Scorpius spent any time away from him and just why Al had started to make subtle little comments about how good Scorpius was at things.
Al was in love with him.
Well, it had started with Al just being in lust with him. It had given Scorpius significant pause for thought the first time he had noticed Al blatantly checking out his arse. This had been before Scorpius had realised that he himself was attracted to boys rather than girls. The hungry look that consumed Al’s countenance when he looked at his friend had made something stir deep within Scorpius. It had progressed to love though. Scorpius was sure of that. Yet the larger problem was that Scorpius returned the feelings. However, he hoped he was far more adept at hiding them than Al was. He was pretty sure the entire school knew how Al felt and it was rather embarrassing to tell the truth. The boy followed him around like a little lost puppy and did anything Scorpius asked of him, whenever he asked. Scorpius had felt rather guilty at first, asking Al to do stuff for him, but when he saw how much pleasure Al got from it, he couldn’t help but request things.
Scorpius glanced over at Al. He was about to ask him if the ingredients Al was preparing were ready, when he froze. Al’s hand hovered over the gently bubbling potion, about to drop in the wrong ingredient.
“Al! Pay attention!” Scorpius yelled and yanked Al’s hand away. It would not do to have made it through seven years of Potions only to spectacularly blow up a cauldron in their last lesson. He wanted to add and stop mooning over me but that would have been him acknowledging that he knew what Al was doing. “If you add those before I’ve added the roots, it’ll set on fire and explode. I’d like to live to leave school, please.”
“Sorry,” Al muttered and lowered his hand placing the powdered lacewings down on the table. He blushed at having been reprimanded which endeared Scorpius to him yet infuriated Scorpius at the same time. The Weasley genes that had given Al his freckles and ability to blush at the drop of a wand had always drawn Scorpius in, yet the number of times Al did it around Scorpius was getting ridiculous.
“Just don’t do it again,” Scorpius sighed and went back to chopping.
“Are you mad at me?” Al asked after a few minutes of strained silence with the exception of the steady snick, snick, snick of the knife Scorpius wielded.
“I’d just prefer it if you paid attention. It’s the most difficult potion of the year and is likely to come up on the exam in a few weeks.”
“I don’t mean now. I mean in general. You’ve been really short with me of late.”
“No, not mad,” Scorpius said. It wasn’t truly a lie. He wasn’t mad; he was frustrated. Sick and tired of Al and his longing looks and fleeting touches. Completely fed up of denying his own feelings, yet unable to do anything about it.
If he admitted what he felt to Al, then they might get together. If that happened, he would just drag Al down into the dark pit that was being a Malfoy. Despite the time that had passed since the second war and the fact they had been friends for years, it would be different to people if they were more than friends. They let Al be friends with him now; tolerated it, more likely. No one would ever accept them being together. Scorpius’ father would probably congratulate him for getting so close to a Potter, even though Al’s surname was nothing to do with how he viewed his friendship with Al. They were friends because Al was an amazing person when he wasn’t a love sick puppy. Al’s family would freak out and keep them apart forever. After all, he was tainting their child with his Death Eater genes. He hated it. He hated the fact that he was always judged by his father’s actions instead of his own. Scorpius strived to be different, yet his looks gave him no option but to be compared to his family.
“Don’t lie to me, Scorpius. I know when you are.”
Scorpius shrugged and added the last few ingredients of their potion, stirring when necessary until it simmered peacefully and changed to just the right hue. He collected a sample for each of them for marking.
“Then don’t ask a question you know I’m going to lie to you about.”
Scorpius gathered his things and left Al standing, with a stunned expression on his face, next to their cauldron.
In the library that evening, Scorpius was studying diligently for his upcoming Charms exam when Rose Weasley sat down next to him. They were not friends. They barely ever spoke. He knew how her father felt about him. That he was scum of the earth and should be treated as such. Clearly she felt the same given her normal insistence on avoiding him. She was clever though. Probably more so than Scorpius was. He was willing to admit that he wasn’t the smartest student in the school. His father wished differently, but he could only try his best.
“I don’t understand you,” she stated after a few minutes of them sitting there in an awkward silence.
“I haven’t said anything for you to not understand.” He sighed, finger resting gently on the page marking his place as he looked up at her.
“No, it’s nothing you’ve said. It’s just, how can you be so intelligent and yet so oblivious at the same time?”
“Oblivious? About what?”
“My cousin is in love with you and you don’t even know it. We’re leaving here for good in a few weeks and he’s never going to get up the courage to tell you. He deserves to be happy, Scorpius. Why can’t you see it?”
“He doesn’t love me. Don’t be silly.” His standard response, uttered to a hundred people over the course of the last few years. He was certain everyone in his House had brought it up with him one time or another.
“Then I take back what I said about you being intelligent. You’re just a blind, idiotic git and I have no idea why he’s even friends with you!” She hissed at him; angry, but sufficiently respectful of their surroundings to not raise her voice.
Scorpius had no idea why Al was friends with him either. It was not as though he was worth his time. Certainly not worthy of anything more.
“Even if what you said was true, he isn’t my type.” Scorpius slammed his book closed and left. All he seemed to do of late was run away.
Scorpius had nowhere to run. His sanctuary of the library had been occupied by the prowling presence that was Rose Weasley. So back to his common room it was. However, back there, would be Al. Al whom he had managed successfully to avoid since their confrontation in Potions that afternoon.
Maybe this was entirely his fault. If he just admitted to Al that he knew that Al liked him, if he just let Al know he liked him back, then the tension between them would dissipate. He couldn’t though. He just did not have the courage to tell Al the truth. That he had effectively been lying to him for years about not only his feelings but about knowing how Al felt too. Yet, Al didn’t truly want him. Scorpius knew that. Al would drop him as soon as they were out of school and there were people worthy of Al around. He’d be lucky to retain Al’s friendship at all.
Al wasn’t in their common room, but he was in their dormitory. He was sitting cross-legged on the bed, a large book cradled on his legs as he studied. Scorpius expected him to look up and smile, to greet him and ask how he’d been since they last spoken, but Al ignored him. Scorpius knew Al must be aware he was there. Al’s posture had stiffened slightly and he saw a slight incline in Al’s head as though he was trying to look at Scorpius without him knowing.
“Hey,” Scorpius mumbled. He couldn’t ignore the other boy even if Al could refuse to acknowledge him.
“About before, I’m sorry. I’m just really stressed out right now. N.E.W.T.s coming up and all.”
“You’ve been angry for longer than that.”
“You aren’t going to tell me why, are you?”
“No, Al, I’m not.”
“You used to tell me everything.”
I never used to be secretly in love with you and not deserve your love in return. Scorpius thought. “I know. I’m going to have an early night. See you in the morning.”
Scorpius wanted Al to stop him. He wanted Al to talk to him properly and find out what was really wrong, but for once Al respected his privacy and left him alone.
Scorpius changed and got ready in the bathroom before settling himself in his bed. Angry at Al or not, he still cast a silencing charm and had his daily wank. As always he drew on one of his vast array of fantasies about Al and scarce minutes later he lay dirty, flushed and gasping for breath. The afterglow slowly faded and soon the feeling of loneliness at the fact he would never get his fantasy in real life set in. A quickly muttered spell cleaned him up before he curled up into a ball and drifted off into a fitful sleep, not even getting to have Al in his dreams.
Their exams flew by far too quickly for Scorpius’ liking and before he had the chance to blink they were on the train to King’s Cross. Habit more than friendship now seemed to hold them together. His and Al’s relationship had become so strained that they were barely talking and when they did they tended to snap at one another. Something they had never done before the last month. Scorpius hated it, but it was probably inevitable. After all, they had grown up and were leaving Hogwarts. People grew apart after high school. They got new jobs and new lives and never looked back. Scorpius knew it was coming. It didn’t mean he liked it.
“You’ll write to me?”
“Of course I will. Father got me my own place. He didn’t want me under his feet at the Manor.” Scorpius took out a scrap of parchment and jotted down his new address. “I’m moving at the beginning of August. Just write whenever you want.”
Al collected his trunk and headed for the door. “I’ll see you around, Scor. I’ll miss you.”
Before Scorpius could respond, Al had left. His own “I’ll miss you too” was left hanging in the air.
Scorpius’ long fingers tangled in black hair. A warm mouth teased him mercilessly.
“Yes. Please. Al.” He groaned and pulled urgently on the scruffy strands. “More. Please.”
The heat went away.
“Not Al, darlin’. But as long as you fuck me you can think about whoever you want.”
The whimper Scorpius was certain came from his throat was ignored in lieu of tangled tongues, probing fingers and thrusting hips.
He needed to feel. Needed to forget. He did not have Al. Not anymore. So he had to make do with whatever he could have. Nameless men from nameless bars. A brief moment of comfort where he could get it. When he could get it.
The frantic coupling did not last long. His partner more than satisfied even though Scorpius was sure it had been Al’s name on his lips when he came. There had been enough men for Scorpius to know he was good in bed. If the boneless heap of a man beneath him was anything to go by, this time had been one of his better performances. In fact, he was certain of it when the guy hinted at a second round.
Maybe if he hung around until morning Scorpius would comply with his wishes. Now he just wanted to shower and rid himself of the dirty feeling that always came afterwards. The fact that the man didn’t have faint freckles dashed across his nose and that his eyes were an icy shade of blue, became strikingly apparent in Scorpius’ mind and he felt sick to his stomach.
“Stay. If you want.”
A second round did happen the next morning. Nearly a third in the shower, but the doorbell rang and Scorpius wasn’t that interested anyway. If someone had actually bothered to come to see him, he should have the decency to answer the door. Not enough to dress in more than a towel though.
Al stood on the other side. Eyes roamed the expanse of flesh Scorpius had on show. Water droplets tried to desperately cling onto his body, yet inevitably lost their fight with gravity.
“You’ve been ignoring my owls.” Al managed to get out eventually. “I thought we were friends.”
They were. Nothing more. Never could be more.
“I didn’t know what to say.”
“How about anything? ‘Yes, I’m alive. Don’t worry about me.’ Anything. Scorpius. What happened to us? We used to talk all the time. We didn’t even need anything to talk about.”
Scorpius shrugged and rubbed the back of his neck with his hand. He honestly did not think Al would be that bothered if he didn’t reply. Surely Al’s infatuation had started to diminish. After all, Scorpius was no longer there to fuel it. Just because his own feelings for Al still burned as brightly as ever was beside the point.
“We grew apart. It happens.”
“No. We didn’t. I still lo-” The word died in Al’s throat and Scorpius was half certain that it was going to be the declaration Al had been storing away for years, but the sudden look of hatred made it seem unlikely. That was until Scorpius realised that the direction of Al’s ire was not at him, but the man who had appeared at his shoulder, hair still damp from the shower.
“Who are you?” There was a growl in the voice Scorpius did not know Al was capable of making. A fierce edge that had never shown itself at Hogwarts.
“Just someone who’s up for a good time. Seriously though Scott, if you have a jealous boyfriend, it’s probably best not to bring people home.”
“He’s not my boyfriend,” Scorpius and Al said at the same time.
“No problem then, is there?” The man smiled. Scorpius felt like he should remember his name, but could not really bring himself to care. He was more worried Al was trying to kill him with his eyes and fervently hoped Al had not mastered any particularly nasty hexes wandlessly. Not that it would matter if his twitching hand reached for his wand as it was threatening to do.
“Do you not know who I am?” At the shrug, Scorpius watched in dazed confusion as Al used his name in an attempt to intimidate the other man, something he had always shunned doing at school. “Albus Potter.”
Scorpius felt Al should have probably picked up on the fact the other man had called him Scott and not Scorpius. It was not that the other man had not known his name. Not at all. Scorpius tended to be a bit too strange for a name in Muggle bars. The look of confusion at being given a name that clearly had no impact on the man did not last long. Instead one of dawning realisation spread across the man’s face and then one of mild annoyance.
“This scrawny git is Al? You were screwing me and thinking of him?”
“I think you’d better leave,” Scorpius said, as he placed a restraining hand on Al who really was reaching for his wand this time.
Scorpius dragged Al inside and closed the door on the retreating back of the other man.
“You fucked him?” Al said, his voice barely a whisper. The near confrontation had drained him. “What made him better than me, Scor? Why not me?”
“Because I don’t want you pulled into the mess that is my family.”
“I don’t care. Do you think I did? Do you think it really matters when I love you?”
Finally, it had been said. Finally, it was out there. Yet Scorpius felt no different than he had the in the seconds preceding it. The world had not ended. No one had come to commit Al to an asylum for his clearly ludicrous choice. The world kept turning.
“It may not matter to you. But it does to me. I can’t do that to someone I love, Al. I can’t bring you down to my level. You are so much better than me.”
“Scorpius, stop being so ridiculous! Wait... You love me?”
“Of course I do. How could I not?”
“Why do it then? Why sleep with him? How can you love me and do that?”
“Because you’re too good for me. I’ll never be worthy of you. You’re a Potter, Al. He may have not known what that meant, but I do. You can’t be with a Malfoy.”
“I’ll be with who I damn well want to be! I want you! It’s only ever been you!”
“No. You can’t. I can’t. We can’t.”
“I can. We can.” Al mumbled. He stepped closer to Scorpius and wrapped his arms around Scorpius’ neck even as Scorpius tried to extract himself from the grip. “Whatever you were thinking of last night with him, you can do it. To me. I’m here and I want you, Scor. You don’t have to imagine anymore. We’ll do this together.”
Scorpius shut his eyes and relaxed into Al’s embrace. He had tried, hadn’t he? Tried to set Al free. Tried to let him go. Tried to give him the opportunity to go out and find someone for himself. Someone better and more worthy of Al affections. Yet, Al had come back months after they had left Hogwarts, still insisting he wanted Scorpius, actually able to voice his feelings now. It was finally time to stop pushing Al away. Maybe, just maybe, there were some things that Al knew better than Scorpius. Now was the time to find out.