Chapter 1: Part One
A small crowd of Slytherins gathered around Scorpius in the courtyard. Scorpius reclined on one of the benches, heavy robes spread around him, green scarf wrapped around his neck, legs propped against the opposite arm of the bench. He grinned as he recounted a story about one of his house elves chasing the peacocks around the Malfoy estate, attempting to retrieve a comb of Astoria's which Scorpius had tucked into the bird's feathers. Of course, he'd done this when he was seven, but the people around him smiled as he told the story. When Scorpius reached the part about the house elf attempting to ambush the bird from above, the students laughed.
"But why didn't the elf just use magic?" said Miranda Evercreech, her pretty face scrunched up in puzzlement.
"Because it would ruin the story," said Christian, who sat on Scorpius' other side. Scorpius and Christian exchanged looks, rolling their eyes in tandem.
Miranda still looked confused, but she kept any further comments to herself, as now quite a few of the gathered Slytherins were chuckling at her instead of Scorpius' story.
One of Scorpius' friends picked up the subject of house elves and began to speculate about sneaking down to the kitchens. While the rest of the group talked about hot chocolate and the types of pastries they preferred, Scorpius closed his eyes and leaned his head back, feeling the chill of the stone and the winter air seep in past his layers. He hadn't gotten a lot of sleep the previous night, and a nap between classes sounded preferable to listening to his friends blather. Scorpius sighed and tucked his arms beneath his head.
"Scor," said Christian. Scorpius frowned.
"What?" he said impatiently.
"Scor, that Weasley kid is looking at you again."
Scorpius blinked his eyes open. He raised an eyebrow at Christian, but the boy just smiled at him in a tight, amused way, and jerked his head towards the other side of the courtyard.
Scorpius turned to look, and, just as Christian had said, Hugo Weasley was standing beneath one of the stone archways, a stack of books tucked against his chest, his cheeks and nose pink with cold, and his eyes trained on Scorpius. Scorpius raised an eyebrow, and Hugo ducked his head. The redhead kept his eyes down as he shuffled across the courtyard, pointedly avoiding the gazes of the Slytherins.
"Oh, how sweet," said Miranda, and she sounded sincere.
Christian shot her an incredulous look. "Sweet?" he sneered.
"He fancies you, Scor, I can tell. Oh, that's just cute, don't you think?" Miranda smiled at the girls around her. A few of the other girls tittered behind their hands. Most of the boys looked confused, but they all pointedly did not look at Scorpius.
"No, it's not cute," said Christian. He nudged Scorpius' side. "He's been watching you for weeks, right, Scor? It's bloody creepy."
"Ah, young love," drawled one of the Venheart boys. The others snickered. "I knew the Weasleys had fallen low, but arse-burglary…" The snickers were louder now. "That's a new depth."
"Fucking ridiculous," Christian muttered.
Scorpius' eyes were still trained on the spot where Hugo had disappeared back into the castle. His brow furrowed. Christian frowned, and nudged his side. "Scor?"
Scorpius blinked and looked back at his friends. "Hm?"
"That Weasley bloke, he hasn't talked to you, has he?" Christian peered at Scorpius. Scorpius felt his heartbeat kick hard against his ribs. He flit his eyes around his friends' faces, measuring their intrigued and somewhat suspicious expressions. Scorpius tightened one hand into a fist and then quickly released it.
Scorpius forced a smile. He twitched his eyebrows and shrugged, as though bored by the entire conversation. "He hasn't."
"Well?" said one of the boys.
"Well, what?" said Scorpius.
"Well, what are you going to do about it?"
"Do about it? Weasley?" Scorpius scoffed. "What do I care if Weasley's a pouf? Personally, I think we should encourage it. Fewer breeding Weasleys means less ginger spawn, don't you agree?"
His friends laughed, and Scorpius felt his heartbeat begin to slow. Christian didn't laugh, but when Scorpius glanced at him to check his reaction, he seemed preoccupied with Miranda Evercreech's latest dim-witted questions. Scorpius took a deep breath and slowly, quietly exhaled. He turned his attention to Miranda, and tried to tidy his thoughts. It was okay, he told himself. It was fine. Everything was fine. Nobody could tell.
"Fucking Merlin, Malfoy, aren't you tired?" Flint collapsed onto one of the benches, spread-eagle. He kicked lazily at Scorpius' thigh as he passed, and Scorpius dodged, shoving Flint's leg hard enough to unbalance him. Flint toppled off the bench with a swallowed curse.
The rest of the team laughed and jeered. Leather practice pads hit the floor as the boys began to strip, and Scorpius cast his eyes to the floor. He picked up the pace, hoping to escape the locker room before they made it to the showers.
"What's your problem, Malfoy?" Sebastian Nott, the newest addition to the team (Keeper), and easily Scorpius' least favorite person in his year, stepped in front of Scorpius on his way out the door. He had his shirt off, balled up in his hands, sweat running down his sternum and neck. Scorpius glared.
"I like to take my showers indoors, like civilized people."
"Oooo," said Flint, who had picked himself up off the floor and begun to strip. The rest of the team rolled their eyes and catcalled.
"Civilized?" Nott frowned and crossed his arms over his chest. Scorpius didn't move his gaze. "It's a fucking shower."
Scorpius didn't say anything, just clutched at the sports bag flung over his shoulder and glared.
Zabini sighed. "Let him go, Nott. The Prince likes his rose soap." The boys snickered, but mostly turned back to their lockers. Zabini was Captain, but he didn’t talk much. When he did, people tended to listen.
Scorpius continued to stare Nott down until he stepped out of his way, obviously reluctant, but unwilling to challenge Zabini. Scorpius could feel the Flint's eyes on his back as he left the locker room.
Scorpius sighed as soon as the stink and heat of the locker room vanished behind the swinging door. He shrugged his sports bag further up his shoulder and started off across the lawn.
Scorpius frowned, and glanced behind him. Hugo Weasley walked slightly behind him, his eyes fluttering from his own feet to Scorpius' face, then back to his feet. The redhead clutched at the strap of his book bag. Scorpius rolled his eyes and walked faster.
"Uh, hey," said Hugo, jogging to keep up with Scorpius' longer strides. Hugo was a little shorter than Scorpius, with broad shoulders and a heart-shaped face. Hurrying along in Scorpius' wake, he resembled a rather over-eager spaniel. Or, at least, that's the image Scorpius couldn't get out of his head as he jogged up the front steps to the castle doors. Hugo panted behind him.
"Hey, um, maybe you could- um..."
Scorpius' hand was reaching for the door handle when he felt Hugo's broad hand settle on his shoulder. "Hey!"
Scorpius whirled around, and Hugo snatched his hand back. He curled it against his chest, a blush rising in his cheeks beneath the spray of freckles.
"Leave. Me. Alone," said Scorpius, giving Hugo the coldest look he could conjure. Hugo blinked, and took a step back, clutching his hand closer to his chest.
Scorpius waited a moment for the words to sink in, then pulled open the front doors and stalked into the entrance hall.
The scent of cinnamon and nutmeg made Scorpius' head feel cloudy and lovely and light. He slipped a bite of apple tart off his fork, the spicy sweetness like heaven against his tongue.
"Have you tried these tarts, Chris? These are bloody excellent. I thought the apple pies were good in November, but I love this." Scorpius sighed, studying a bite of apple tart that perched on the tines of his fork. "How are we ever going to leave all this behind, Chris? When we graduate, I mean. Sure, there are house elves and one can always eat out, but there's nothing quite like-"
"Would you shut up about the desserts?" Chris rolled his eyes and tapped his spoon against his bowl of ice cream. Vanilla, of course. Sometimes, Scorpius wondered why he and Chris were even friends. Chris glanced over Scorpius' shoulder. "Merlin, Scor. There are more important things."
"Like what?" Scorpius muttered. He shoved a bite of apple tart into his mouth and made a show of really, really enjoying it.
Chris raised an eyebrow. He gestured with his spoon. "Like that Weasley bloke is still staring at you."
Scorpius blanched. He swallowed his bite of tart to avoid choking on it. Chris nodded his head ever-so-slightly towards a spot at the Hufflepuff table. Ever-so-casually, Scorpius turned his head, reaching a hand up as though smoothing his bangs out of his face.
Oh yeah. There he was. Hugo Weasley, button nose covered in freckles, big brown eyes, wide pink mouth slightly open as he stared hard at the Slytherin table. Scorpius turned his gaze back to his apple tart. He sighed. His appetite was gone. He could feel the tiny hairs on the back of his neck rising. "Fuck," he muttered.
"Yeah," said Chris. After a moment, Chris cleared his throat, and Scorpius glanced up. He raised an eyebrow. Chris wouldn't meet his eyes.
Chris shrugged. "Maybe…hey, maybe you should actually…talk to him. Or something."
"I mean, talk to him and tell him you're not…you know…" Chris shrugged again.
Scorpius stared, but Christian still wouldn't meet his eyes. Scorpius fiddled with his fork.
Eventually, Christian appeared to have had enough. He met Scorpius eyes, and when he spoke, his tone was serious. "Look," he said, "it's bloody annoying to have him following us around all the time, okay? You should probably talk to him before people start thinking you're…you know, whatever."
Scorpius felt his stomach twist. He put his hands flat against the table. "Yeah," he said. "Yeah, probably, I should do that."
Chris nodded, and took a bite of his ice cream.
Avoiding Hugo Weasley really shouldn't have been that hard. He wasn't an inconspicuous person, frankly. Quiet, sure. Shorter than Scorpius, but not short, and he had those broad shoulders, and that mop of violently red hair. Somehow, though, every time Scorpius turned down a corridor, Hugo was there, looking at him with his big, wistful eyes. Scorpius began to walk a lot faster than he ever thought possible, desperate to get to his next classroom without running into the Weasley. At least in his classes it was possible to escape the little stalker, as Hugo was a full year behind him.
Of course, just because Scorpius could avoid one Weasley, didn't mean he could avoid the whole pack. There was a ridiculous amount of Weasley genetic material floating around the school, Scorpius thought. Between the Potters and the Weasleys-proper, Scorpius found cold, inquisitive eyes peering at him from across the Great Hall, during class, and in the corridors. Even Scorpius' friends had begun to give him strange looks.
After a few days of this sort of scrutiny, Scorpius was about ready to burst. Or cry. Or maybe set something on fire. He slammed his books down on the library table, sneering at the students who looked up from their work to glare at him.
"What's your problem?" Chris muttered as Scorpius slid into the chair across from him.
Scorpius threaded a hand in his hair, leaning on his elbow and flicking his eyes around the library. "They're bloody everywhere."
"Weasleys," said Scorpius. "They're all looking at me like I've got something to do with that defective Hufflepuff brat. Honestly, it's not my fault he's, you know, he-" Scorpius sputtered.
Chris smirked. "Wants your body?"
Scorpius blushed. "Shut up." He kicked Chris under the table, which just made Chris chuckle and kick him back.
"You're a boy-magnet, Scor, it's nothing to be-"
"I will kill you, you understand that? Murder you? You think I can't? Do you know who my father is?"
Chris rolled his eyes. "Oh, save it, Scor. I can out-cast you any day of the week and twice on Sundays."
"Ha!" The students around him looked up and glared. Scorpius huffed and tucked himself farther down in his chair. "You bloody wish," he whispered. "Your Charms grades are pathetic. You're practically a Longbottom. I, on the other hand-"
"Have a visitor." Chris smirked.
Scorpius' shoulders stiffened. "Where?" he muttered.
Chris nodded towards the end of the table. Scorpius glanced, and sighed. In the center of a group of sixth year Hufflepuffs sat Hugo, apparently working very hard on his essay, the tip of his quill between his lips. The library was always murky and dark, but the amber glow of the reading lamps reflected off his hair. He glowed red.
"You should go talk to him," said Chris.
Scorpius turned wide eyes on his friend. "Now?"
"Uh, yeah," said Chris. "Just take him to the stacks and tell him the truth: you don't like him and it's sort of ridiculous how much he follows you about. Your mates think it's creepy."
Scorpius gave him a horrified look. "You want me to take him into the stacks? To stop the gossip?"
"Scor, he's a Hufflepuff. It's not like he's going to hex you. He might cry, though. Looks like the type."
Suddenly, Scorpius couldn't get the image of Hugo Weasley brushing at his freckled cheeks with his big, square fingers, out of his head. Hugo's little button nose was red and his bottom lip trembled like Scorpius had just murdered his puppy or something. It made Scorpius feel nauseous.
"Or are you afraid he's going to push you down and ravage you?"
"I hate you," said Scorpius.
Chris laughed. "Hufflepuff, Scor."
"Who's a Hufflepuff?" Sebastian Nott slipped into the chair beside Chris. Miranda Evercreech sat down in the chair beside Scorpius.
"Hi, Scorpius." She smiled.
"Hey, Miranda," said Scorpius, barely looking at her. He was still staring at Chris.
"What're you two working on?" asked Chris.
"We've got an independent project in Potions," said Miranda. She sighed as she reached into her bookbag, pulling out a thick potions tome. "I've been trying to explain it to Nott, but he's a little thick, you know."
"Oy," said Nott. "I'm right here."
Miranda cast him a significant look. "I know."
Nott scoffed, then shook his head and turned his attention back to Chris as Miranda began unloading the contents of her bookbag.
"Now, what's this about a Hufflepuff?" said Miranda.
Scorpius shot Chris a pleading glance, but Chris ignored him.
Nott smirked. Miranda was already craning her neck around to get a good look at the Hufflepuffs.
"Aw, you have a Weasley, Scor," said Miranda.
"I do not have a Weasley," Scorpius grumbled.
"But he's the cute one," Miranda insisted. "Rose is just so plain. Looks just like her mother, Mum told me. Hugo's like a little puppy. You just want to put him on a leash and walk him, you know?"
Chris bit his lip and Sebastian snickered. Scorpius glared at Miranda. She shrugged, and went back to arranging her papers.
"Why, Miss Evercreech, you are positively a freak," said Sebastian.
Miranda sighed and shot him a disgusted glance. "I'm just saying, it could be worse. It could be the girl. Or it could be Albus- oh, dear." Miranda giggled and looked between the boys. "Can you imagine?"
"No," Scorpius snapped. He shifted in his chair. "No, I cannot imagine. I do not care to imagine. I would really appreciate it if none of you imagined, either."
Chris rolled his eyes. "So, go smack his nose with a newspaper and have done with it, Scorpius. This is getting tiresome."
"Wait." Sebastian held up a hand and shot Scorpius an incredulous look. "You mean you haven't told him to bugger off yet?"
Scorpius glared at him. God, he hated Sebastian Nott.
"What are you waiting for? You don't like it?" Nott scoffed, and then looked to Chris and Miranda for support. Finding none, he turned a sneer on Scorpius. "Like attention from boys, do you, Malfoy?"
"Shut your mouth," said Scorpius, his voice low.
"You do. That's why you won't go talk to him. You'd like a little puppy of your own, wouldn't you, Scor?"
Scorpius jumped to his feet, his chair skittering back. The students around him jumped, looking up from their books to stare at him (again). Scorpius ignored them. His hands clenched into fists.
"I said shut your mouth, Nott."
Nott glanced around the table. Seeing his audience, he pushed himself to his feet as well. "Make me, Malfoy."
Scorpius reached for his wand a moment before Nott grabbed for his. Scorpius' arm was extended, a hex on his lips, when Chris jumped to his feet as well, grabbing both of their wrists and shoving their wands down towards the table. Scorpius panted, glaring over Chris' head and into Nott's eyes. Nott's eyes were narrowed, his cheeks red.
"Get a grip, both of you," said Chris harshly. He shoved their wrists down and away. He stared hard at Scorpius, but Scorpius wasn't looking at Chris anymore, or at Miranda, who was busy trying to pretend she didn't know them. He was looking over at the Hufflepuff end of the table, where all of their heads had popped up at the commotion. Hugo's eyes were wide and concerned. He looked between Nott and Scorpius, then finally met Scorpius' gaze.
"What's this?" The librarian bustled up to the tables, her voice a harsh whisper. "What's all this now? This is a library, not a pub. Who's making that racket? Hm?"
Scorpius stared at Hugo's liquid eyes and he felt his chest constricting. He couldn't…breathe. He couldn't breathe.
Scorpius ripped his eyes away. He grabbed his books off the table and stomped past the librarian, who began to scold and flutter around him.
"Scor-" Chris started to get up, but Scorpius made a violent motion with his hand, and Chris must've taken that as a sign to stay where he was. No one followed Scorpius as he stomped out of the library.
Scorpius kept walking, staring at his feet, until he reached the dungeons. The air was cooler down there and a little damp where the castle approached the edge of the lake. Scorpius slowed his pace, eventually coming to a stop. He rested his forehead against the cool stone wall, breathing deep, calming breaths that smelled and tasted of mildew.
Scorpius sighed and turned around, leaning his back against the wall instead. He rubbed a hand over his face. His cheeks felt hot, and the stone had felt good against them. His heart had slowed, but it was easy for him to remember the way it had pounded, the echo of adrenaline in Scorpius' limbs as he thought about Nott's words, and Chris' expression…and Hugo. Hugo's liquid eyes. Hugo's freckled cheeks. Hugo's big, square hands.
Scorpius pinched the bridge of his nose and ducked his head. He stayed like that, leaning against the wall, thinking, until the cold seeped through his robes.
It was eight the next morning before Scorpius saw Hugo again. Chris chattered in his ear about his project for NEWT Astronomy, and Scorpius was attempting to follow, though, personally, he'd never cared for the subject. He much preferred Charms, and was about to make a comment to that effect when Chris stopped his monologue mid-stream and sighed.
"Say good morning," said Chris, rolling his eyes as he gestured to the end of the corridor. Scorpius didn't need to follow his gesture to know that Hugo Weasley was standing there.
Scorpius took a deep breath and turned around to face the inevitable. Hugo smiled when their eyes met. He took a half-step forward and raised a hand, waving slightly. He quickly tucked the hand away, however, embarrassed.
"Isn't that sweet," Chris drawled.
Scorpius rolled his eyes, and pointedly looked away from Hugo's gaze. He kept his eyes straight ahead and picked up the pace. Just get to class, he told himself. Just get to class and think about something else.
"Um, good morning, Scorpius," said Hugo as Scorpius drew closer. Hugo smiled tentatively. Scorpius said nothing. He didn't look at the boy. Scorpius brushed past him. His heart throbbed in his throat.
"Um." Hugo turned around, joining the stream of people going opposite his original direction. He hovered near Scorpius' elbow.
Chris walked around to Scorpius' other side, giving Scorpius a look which Scorpius clearly read as, 'Fix this, and get the Hufflepuff away from me.'
"So, I, uh, wanted to talk to you for a second, about what happened-oof." Hugo doubled over as a passing Ravenclaw's elbow hit him the stomach. The girl's books scattered across the ground and she shrieked out an apology. Hugo stopped to help her with her books, and Scorpius kicked up the speed.
His eyes focused on the next available turn. Just a few more steps, he thought. A few more and he could get out of this corridor. Maybe lose Hugo for good. Or, at least lose him for this morning.
Apparently, Hugo Weasley had no compunctions about jogging in busy corridors.
"The library." Hugo panted, and Scorpius glanced at him briefly, instantly regretting it when Hugo sent him a shy smile. Scorpius' stomach twisted. He snapped his head forward, and scolded himself about removing his eyes from his goal.
"Uh, yeah. So. I'm sorry about what happened in the library the other day," said Hugo. "I mean, it must be pretty annoying, having all my, um, relatives, sort of…anyway. I didn't ask them to do that or anything. They're sort of annoying me too, actually. Anyway. I don't want to bother you, or cause problems for you, or anything, and it looked like maybe I sort of was, so I wanted to say I was sorry. And. And, um." Hugo took a deep breath, and internally Scorpius growled. Merlin, wasn't this boy done yet? Were declarative sentences really so bloody difficult to form? "Um. So, I thought maybe we might do some homework sometime. If you wanted. Or-or not. You know, I just kind of wanted to talk to you, so-"
All right, that was enough. That was just enough. Scorpius stopped walking. Hugo was following him so closely that he walked right up into Scorpius' chest before managing to stop and jump backwards, blushing furiously.
"No," Scorpius snarled.
Hugo's head snapped up. "W-what?"
"I don't want to talk to you. Yes, you bother me. Yes, what happened in the library was your fault, and you are a problem, so I'd really appreciate it if you would bugger off and stop stalking me, you queer little freak!" By the time Scorpius was finished, he was shouting, and breathing hard through his nose.
Scorpius could feel his cheeks burning hot with a blush, but he was sure they were nothing compared to the maroon that Hugo's cheeks had flushed. His wide pink lips were parted slightly, his liquid brown eyes wide with shock, and, as Scorpius stared him down, they filled with shame. Hugo ducked his head, his hands clutching hard at the strap of his bookbag.
Scorpius turned around, fighting down the nausea that was rising in his throat, overtaking his anger. He marched towards the end of the corridor and made his turn, barely noticing when Chris joined up with him.
They walked for a moment in silence.
"That was…effective," said Christian.
Scorpius didn't say anything. He didn't think he could open his mouth without vomiting.
"I haven't seen the puppy all day," said Miranda. She sighed, and plopped her chin down on her fist.
Scorpius' mouth tightened. He forced himself to concentrate on his Potions essay. This was his thesis, damn it. He was a NEWT student. He had a lot of really important things to think about besides whiny Hufflepuffs and their obsessive, homosexual crushes.
"Oh, I don't think we'll see any more of Weasley," said Chris. Scorpius glanced at him, but Chris' face was as blank as his tone.
"Why?" Miranda scooted forward, her long brown hair pooling on her textbook. "What happened?"
"Scor set him straight, so to speak."
"Yeah. Pretty hard."
"Oh my God, what'd he say? What'd Weasley do?"
"He is right here," Scorpius snapped. "And doesn't think it's any of your bloody business."
Miranda pursed her lips. "You don't have to get snippy."
"You've been in a bad mood all day," said Chris. "What is up your arse?"
"Nothing." Scorpius was snarling, his hand curled in his hair, his face an inch from the page of his book. He glared at his friends. "Nothing is wrong. Nothing is the matter. I am in a fine mood, I just feel like maybe we should come to the library to, I don't know, study? So maybe we don't, I don't know, fail?"
Chris and Miranda stared at him. Finally, Miranda sniffed, and turned back to her book. "You know when you sneer like that, Scor, you look so ugly."
"Fucking Hell, Malfoy, where are you?"
Scorpius jumped, and whirled his head around. His hand came up, but the practice Snitch was already dancing away from his fingers, zooming beneath the Chasers and then out of sight. Scorpius' expression twisted, and, out of the corner of his eye, he could see Zabini shaking his head before zooming after the Quaffle.
Scorpius sighed, and shook his head, trying to physically clear his thoughts. He kept going back to that image of Hugo in the hallway, the shock in his eyes turning to shame, then his chin dropping down to his chest. Scorpius could feel his stomach twisting just at the thought. He cast his eyes downward.
Scorpius snatched in front of his face, but the Snitch was gone. "Fuck!" he shouted.
He tried not to look at any of his teammates, but it was hard to miss the smirk that had overtaken Nott's face or the hard look in Zabini's eyes as he flew up and hovered in front of Scorpius.
"Malfoy, we have a match in two days."
"I know," Scorpius snarled.
Zabini's eyes narrowed. "I know you know. I'm telling you, I don't care how bloody popular you are. Get it together, or Stewart's flying Seeker against Ravenclaw."
Scorpius fumed, but he bit back the sarcastic retorts that jumped to the ready. He nodded.
Scorpius paused for a moment inside the door of the Great Hall. He tucked his hands into the pockets of his Quidditch robes and quickly scanned the crowd. It was easy to pretend that he wasn't looking for anybody in particular, but harder to pretend that he didn't pay extra special attention to the Hufflepuff table.
"Scor?" Chris was looking at him strangely.
Scorpius scowled, and walked to the Slytherin table. He and Chris slid into their regular seats. The students around them smiled at Scorpius, chirping a chorus of, 'Good luck!' Scorpius nodded to them and mumbled something that might have been, 'Thank you,' or, 'Whatever.'
Scorpius pushed his eggs around his plate for a minute before dropping his fork. He sighed.
"Merlin, Scor, are you PMSing or something?" Chris was giving him a very strange look, now. "You've got a match today, mate."
"I know. Doesn't anyone think I know that?"
Chris glanced around to make sure no one was listening, and then leaned forward. "Mate, I don't want to…I don't know, accuse you, or anything, but you've been really…well, you've been really pissy since you blew off that Hufflepuff. Is there maybe something you want to talk about?"
"No," said Scorpius, but even to his own ears he sounded sullen. He sighed. "It's just…weird. I mean, I don't want him around and he's bloody everywhere, and now it's like he just…disappeared. Like, vanished. I mean, he hasn't been to breakfast in days, and it's just…weird."
Scorpius glanced quickly up at Chris' face, but his friend was frustratingly unreadable.
"His family keeps glaring at me," Scorpius mumbled, picking his fork back up and spearing a sausage.
"Okay, momentarily setting aside the fact that you're a Malfoy and they're Weasleys, you sort of called their puppy a big gay freak in front of a whole bunch of people, Scor."
Chris shrugged. "It makes me feel fruity just saying it, but it is pretty appropriate."
It was, Scorpius admitted, but that didn't mean he had to like it. "But," he huffed, "I mean, don't you think it's weird that he's just suddenly gone?"
"Um." Chris raised an eyebrow. "No? It's a big school; you humiliated him. He's licking his wounds. I do think it's a little weird that you're worrying so much about not seeing someone you don't want to see -- that you specifically told to have a nice short fall off a nice high cliff. That's a little weird."
Scorpius frowned. He glanced up and held Chris' eyes for a second. Scorpius looked back down at his plate. This was exactly, exactly, the situation he had been avoiding since third year. That's when puberty had taken over the Slytherin dormitories and Scorpius had started taking his showers inside after Quidditch practice. Which made him strange enough, he knew. He didn't want Chris thinking him weird. He didn't want anyone thinking he was weird.
Scorpius sighed, and took a bite of his sausage. He had a match.
Scorpius tuned out the sound of the crowd and the squawks of the student announcer. He let it all fall below him, fading into a buzz as he scanned his eyes across the field, searching for the flash of gold that betrayed the Snitch.
There. Hovering beside Zabini's knee.
Scorpius had no sooner seen the flash than he was flat against his broom, cold air whipping against his face as he dove beneath the tussling Chasers and reached for the Snitch. Scorpius could feel the soft currents stirred by the Snitch's silver wings just before his broom jerked upwards.
Both of Scorpius' hands jumped to the head of his broom instinctively, tugging him level. The buzz of noise rose to a roar. Scorpius whirled his head around, and blanched. The Bludger had only just clipped the bottom of his broom's tail, but the small black ball was arching back around, speeding straight towards Scorpius' head. Scorpius didn't think. He pushed with both hands, dropping his broom into a sudden, sharp dive. Scorpius could hear the faint whistle as the ball zoomed overhead, curling itself back around to chase Scorpius up the field.
His heart thundered in his throat. Scorpius tried to look for a Beater as he zigzagged across the field, but he was going too fast to see more than blurs.
Scorpius jerked his head around, and his broom followed. He'd seen a flash of gold. The Snitch. Merlin, the Snitch. Scorpius panted and pointed himself at the flash of gold. He ignored everything but that metallic wink, slipping his belly close to his broomstick, lying almost flat against it.
Distantly, he thought he heard Zabini's voice call out his name, but it was mixed too thoroughly with the buzz. His blood pounded too loudly in his ears. Scorpius reached out his hand, fingers stretching for the ball. Come on, he urged himself, willing his arm to grow longer.
There. Behind the gold, a familiar metallic wink. But not gold -- it was copper.
For a moment, Scorpius' eyes slid away from the Snitch. His heart skipped a beat. His fingers touched something cool and smooth that vibrated against his fingertips.
"MALFOY!" Scorpius heard Zabini that time, but he had no time to react before the left side of his body exploded. His broom was no longer in his hands. Scorpius was falling, but he couldn't tell how fast. Everything hurt. The world went dark.
Chapter 2: Part Two
"-be waking up any minute now. Oh, here we are. Hello, Mr. Malfoy."
Scorpius blinked his eyes open, and took a deep breath. He wrinkled his nose. Scorpius had always thought the Hospital Wing smelled like baby powder and homework. That's where he was now, he knew. His prediction was proven correct when he managed to rub the sleep from his eyes and found a crowd of people standing around him. The one who was talking was Madam Pomfrey, a mediwitch with great sagging wrinkles that trembled under her chin.
"Hello, Mr. Malfoy," she repeated, looking down her nose at him. Scorpius frowned and squinted up at her, still coming to terms with the too-bright lights. He'd always felt that Pomfrey was rather more brusque with him than other students, and he felt comfortable blaming that entirely on his father.
"Hello," he said, and his voice came out in a rasp. He coughed. Then, he tried to sit up. About seven pairs of hands reached out to stop him.
"Hold on there, Mr. Malfoy. We're not quite done here."
Scorpius scowled. "Not done? But I feel fine." And he did. He vaguely remembered something about his ribs becoming part of his skull, but he felt perfectly well now. He couldn't understand the wide, frightened gazes that his friends were giving him until he looked down at where Pomfrey was fiddling with his blankets.
"Bloody Hell!" Scorpius yelped, and tried to jerk away from her hands.
"Watch your language, young man!" Madam Pomfrey grabbed his arm to keep him still. Scorpius shot her a frightened look before glancing back down at her hand, which was, right this minute, inside of Scorpius' ribcage. Or, at least, Scorpius assumed it was, because her wrist was very clearly connected to her arm, and her wrist was very plainly touching the side of his torso, and there was also very obviously no hand at the end of that wrist.
"What are you doing?" he said, and swallowed. How in the bloody Hell was he not feeling her fingers move inside of his chest?
"I'm putting your ribcage back together," said Madam Pomfrey, her tone indicating that this should be obvious, and that maybe he should shut his mouth and keep very still. At least, that was what Scorpius took away from it, and he made himself lay as quiet and still as possible while she worked.
While he waited, Scorpius tried to distract himself by looking to his friends. He thought it was unusual that Pomfrey would allow visitors during such a procedure, but from the looks on the Slytherins' faces, and the fact that not one of them had said a word to him yet, Scorpius imagined they'd been given very specific instructions on appropriate sickbed conduct.
Finally, after what seemed like ages of silence, Pomfrey straightened up, her hand slipping out of Scorpius' side. Scorpius didn't budge an inch until she nodded to him.
"You can sit up now," she said. Tentatively, Scorpius put his hands to the mattress. He traded glances with a concerned looking Christian before pushing himself into a sitting position.
"I've numbed the area where the Bludger hit," said Pomfrey, gathering up a few bottles and strange looking tools from Scorpius' bedside. "The ribs have been set back in their proper places. All you need now is to rest as the bones knit." Pomfrey glared at the people gathered around his bed. "Rest."
"Yes, Madam," said Christian. "We'll leave soon."
"Yes, you will," said Pomfrey. She glanced one more time at Scorpius before sniffing and bustling away.
Scorpius' friends closed in, forming a semi-circle around his bed. Christian and Miranda were there, as well as Zabini and Flint. Chris was the first to reach out a tentative hand and pat his shoulder. Scorpius spared him a pained smile.
"What happened?" said Scorpius. "Did we win?" He glanced between Zabini and Flint.
Flint and Zabini looked at each other, and then Flint turned back to him, grinning. "Oh yeah."
Scorpius smiled. A familiar burning pressure filled him from toes to eyebrows. He stretched his arms over his head. He whooped. His friends laughed.
After that moment of elation, smiles settled on most of their faces, including Scorpius'. Thanks to the numbing spell, Scorpius felt only faint twinges from his left side, and he maneuvered himself so Miranda could slip onto the bed next to him. She pulled his arm around her shoulder as his other friends found empty spots on the bed.
"Seriously, mate, you had us all out of our heads," said Flint, shaking his head vigorously. "You caught the bloody Snitch, then you just sort of hovered there, like you were waiting for the Bludger to hit you." Flint glanced nervously as Christian. They shared a look.
"Hey," said Flint, and his voice had a strange tone. He wouldn't meet Scorpius' eyes. "Hey, you weren't…you weren't waiting for it to hit you, right?" Flint laughed nervously, and looked around at the others gathered around Scorpius' bed.
Scorpius stared at Flint. Then he looked around the circle, but only Chris would meet his eyes, and his expression was, as usual, unreadable. Scorpius' voice was carefully blank when he spoke. "Did I wait for a Bludger to hit me, that's your question?"
"Uh…" Flint shifted. He rubbed his hands together.
Scorpius forced himself to laugh. Flint flinched. "Uh, no. No, I didn't wait for a Bludger to hit me. What the Hell are you people thinking? No, I just…I was distracted for a second, that's all."
"That's what I thought," said Miranda. She smiled at Scorpius and leaned her head against his shoulder. "I told them it was silly, but nobody ever listens to me."
"Yeah, well, maybe they should," said Scorpius. He shook his head at them all, but his eyes found Chris' face. "They should know better."
Chris had the decency to look down at his hands, chastised.
"Well, anyway," said Zabini, drawing them through a suddenly awkward silence. "You caught the Snitch, thank Circe, so we've got some serious training to do in the next couple of weeks. Pomfrey says you'll be back on your feet in a couple of days, but that your side will still be tender for the next match."
The words, 'I can play,' were halfway out of Scorpius' mouth before Zabini held up a hand. He rolled his eyes. "Of course, we'll wait and see how practice goes."
Scorpius closed his lips. He smiled, and Zabini's mouth twitched. Almost a smile, Scorpius thought, as close as Zabini really got.
"In any case, they're throwing one Hell of a bash in the dungeons," said Flint, jumping to his feet. Miranda coughed pointedly, and must've motioned towards Scorpius, because Flint was suddenly shamefaced. "Er…I mean... we'll save you some butterbeer, Scor. For sure."
Scorpius rolled his eyes. "Oh, thanks ever so, Flint, I really appreciate that."
Flint grinned. "You're welcome," he said brightly, and began to march out of the Hospital Wing. Zabini lifted himself away from the bed as well, giving Scorpius a little wave before trailing after his teammate.
A thud and soft, 'oof', drew Scorpius' attention to the doorway. "Watch where you're going," said Flint.
Scorpius' heart began to pound.
Flint snorted, and then pushed past whoever had walked into him. Zabini glanced from the figure in the doorway to Scorpius. He raised an eyebrow, but said nothing, and after a moment continued on his way.
The sun glinted off Hugo's hair as he walked into the Hospital Wing. He already sported a blush on his cheeks, his hands tucked in his pockets and his eyes glancing between Scorpius' friends and the ground.
"Hey," he said softly. Scorpius stared.
"Oh my God…" said Miranda. She and Chris traded looks, and then, almost simultaneously, stood up and away from the bed. Scorpius' eyes went wide. He reached out to grab Miranda's arm, but she was already walking towards the Hospital Wing doors, Chris right behind her.
"We'll come see you after dinner, okay, Scor?" she chirped, smiling brightly at him. She glanced at Hugo and then gave him a double thumbs-up sign before ducking out the door. Scorpius' mouth fell open. You're leaving me alone? He wanted to shout. With Him?
Chris paused next to Hugo. He tucked his hands in his pockets, mirroring Hugo's posture. "You just can't take a hint, can you?"
Hugo bit his lip, but when he lifted his head, he was glaring. Scorpius blinked. It was the first sign of aggression that he'd ever seen Hugo display. Apparently, it was the first Chris had seen, too, because he looked equally surprised. Then it passed, and Chris smirked. "Good luck with that," he said, and nodded at Scorpius before following Miranda out the door.
"Wait-" Scorpius reached out a hand, but his friends were gone. Left him. Alone. The bastards.
Scorpius glowered at Hugo and crossed his arms over his chest. "What do you want?"
Hugo sighed, and his resigned expression told Scorpius that he'd been expecting this sort of reception. That fact made Scorpius feel a little strangely guilty, but he tried to suppress that as much as he could. Scorpius looked at his blankets for a moment, and his tightly crossed arms loosened. He looked back up when Hugo cleared his throat.
"I'm sorry," said Hugo, his gaze drifting somewhere near Scorpius' ear. Scorpius' brow crumpled. For what?
Scorpius waited, but Hugo didn't follow up with anything else, so Scorpius opened his mouth to tell him that he was very obviously okay, and that Hugo could kindly get lost.
"Look, I know you don't want to see me, and you think I'm annoying, and maybe I am, but I just…" Hugo huffed, and looked at his feet. "I saw you fall," he said softly. He ran a hand through his shining red hair. "I just wanted to know that you were all right, all right? And…you are, right?"
Scorpius licked his lips. "Yeah," he said. "I'm all right."
Hugo nodded. "Good. I mean…yeah." He hesitated. He sighed. "Okay," he said, and he turned to walk away.
Scorpius' hands tightened on his blanket. He didn't plan to say anything. He really didn't. "Hey, Weas-um. Hugo, I mean."
Hugo stopped. He looked back, a look in his eyes like he was steeling himself to be hit.
Scorpius looked down at his hands. "Wait a second," he said.
Scorpius picked at the loose weave of the Hospital Wing blankets. "Why are you…I mean, why do you keep…" Scorpius sighed, and scrubbed his hands through his hair. He looked up, and Hugo had turned fully around to face Scorpius' bed. "Why me?" he blurted.
Hugo blushed, and looked down at his feet. He seemed to ponder the question for a moment, and then shrugged, hands still in his pockets. Scorpius realized that this was all the answer he was going to get.
"But don't you mind?" Scorpius insisted.
"Mind what?" said Hugo.
"Everybody…" Scorpius huffed. "Everybody calls you queer."
Hugo blinked. He raised his eyebrows, and his lips twitched upwards. Scorpius scowled. He looked down at his knees and shifted on the bed, pushing himself fully upright. Who was this Hugo to laugh at him, anyway, huh?
When Scorpius looked back up, Hugo was standing at the foot of his bed. Scorpius folded his hands into fists and swallowed.
"Scorpius," said Hugo, smiling, "I am queer."
Scorpius gave him an incredulous look. Well…okay, but…Scorpius shook his head. How stupid was this kid? Didn't he know anything? Scorpius looked back up at Hugo's eyes, prepared to ask these very questions, but once he met Hugo's eyes, his tongue felt too heavy to move. Hugo's eyes bore down on him, the same as that day in the hallway, as in the library, as in the Great Hall…but closer. Much closer. And not filled with shock, or shame, or anything like that.
Scorpius felt something turn over in his stomach, and his breath came faster. Hugo's eyes dropped from Scorpius', and Scorpius looked down, confused.
Scorpius blushed, and bent his knees, hugging them close to his bare chest. His chest, which that cheeky Hufflepuff had been staring at. He glared at Hugo, who immediately flushed and looked away, crossing his arms over his own chest.
"I-uh…" Hugo rubbed the flat of his hand against his shoulder. He wouldn't look back at Scorpius. "I, um…yeah." Hugo walked away from Scorpius' bed, practically jogging by the time he reached the double doors that lead out of the Hospital Wing.
Scorpius scowled until he saw the last winking lock of red hair disappear. He huffed. Then, just for a second, he looked down at his chest. He was good looking, he thought. A Seeker, of course, but he was tall and lean-looking and Miranda always told him he had nice eyes….
Scorpius brought his eyes back up and told himself to stop being so fucking weird.
Pomfrey released him from the Hospital Wing two days later with strict instructions to rest himself. Scorpius nodded obediently and then, as soon as the Hospital Wing doors were out of sight, sprinted down to the dungeons. He and Chris spent the next couple of hours up in the air, tossing a Quaffle back and forth and talking about all the gossip he'd missed.
It wasn't until he was smiling and laughing on the way back that he thought about Hugo and what he'd said. Before the whole, awkward, 'I caught you staring at my nipples'-thing, Hugo had just…just said it. Like it was nothing. Like it was stupid to not say something so obvious. But Hugo wasn't really…obvious. He didn't lisp or anything and he didn't mince around calling everybody, 'Honey,' and, 'Darling.' He was sort of buff, actually. And if he was…kind of…cute, he just seemed shy, not effete. Hugo could absolutely, no problem, pass…if he wanted. Plus, Hugo had about a million relatives who would almost certainly injure anybody who said anything nasty about him.
Scorpius didn't have any of that. Actually, he was sort of fussy. He didn't like to change in front of people. He didn't really like to get dirty. Sometimes, when he wasn't thinking about it, his hand-gestures got kind of out of control. He had to work at it. He had to cover himself. It was a bit of work, frankly, but if anybody ever found out, Scorpius just didn't know what he'd do. Probably hide in his room until death, he figured. God, if Chris found out…
Scorpius spared his friend a thoughtful look, which, thankfully, Chris was too busy thinking his own thoughts to notice. That was one of the things he liked about Chris: he didn't need to talk all the time. He and Scorpius could walk from the pitch to the dungeons and never have to say two words to each other, and nobody would be hurt about it. He was probably Scorpius' best friend. But.
But Scorpius remembered the way Christian had spoken about being, 'that way'. Like it was…like it was just unmentionable. Scorpius bit his lip. What did he expect, anyway? Chris was a pretty normal bloke. Wouldn't his first thought, if Scorpius admitted he was…whatever…wouldn't it be, 'Did you ever fancy me?' Scorpius never had, but why should Chris believe that? Yeah, Chris would definitely be disgusted.
Speaking of which, what about Scorpius' parents? He thought his mother might try to understand, but just the idea of saying 'homosexual' to Draco Malfoy made Scorpius shudder. And yet…
Yet still, Scorpius couldn't get Hugo's eyes out of his head. His little smile. His almost-laughter.
"I am queer," Scorpius muttered, trying the taste of the words on his tongue.
"What was that?" said Chris, glancing at his friend.
"Uh, nothing. My side hurts."
His first morning back in the Great Hall for breakfast, every Slytherin he walked past had a smile and pat on the back for him. Most of the Ravenclaws glowered. However, Scorpius wasn't interested in any of them. He hovered behind the bench for a long moment before sitting down, scanning the Hufflepuff table for a particular redhead.
"Scorpius?" said Chris. He'd already sat down in usual place.
"Uh, yeah," said Scorpius. He sat down. "Just, you know, waking up. Used to sleeping in now," he said, smiling in Chris' direction and scooping scrambled eggs onto his plate.
"Yeah, I bet," said Chris, grumbling good-naturedly about spoiled little invalids. Chris leaned forward to grab a piece of toast, and where his head had been a moment before was a small window opening on the Hufflepuff table, including Hugo Weasley. Hugo, who stared right through that window and into Scorpius' eyes. Scorpius blushed, and looked down at his plate just as Chris leaned back.
"Hey, Scor, you okay?" Chris' brow furrowed. "You look flushed. Do you have a fever?"
"Uh." Scorpius licked his lips. "Uh, no. I'm fine. Just a little…spicy. The, um…eggs."
Chris raised an eyebrow and glanced at Scorpius' plate. "Right," he said.
Scorpius tried to keep his head down and his eyes to himself, but that resolve only lasted through his first class. As soon as he stepped into the corridor, he couldn't help it; his eyes scanned the visible students for redheads. There were none, but Scorpius didn't stop looking up every few seconds until he and Chris were almost back to their dormitory. That's when he saw Hugo coming out of the Potions classroom, chatting amiably with another Hufflepuff. Scorpius swallowed, and waited. It was the first time he'd ever seen Hugo before Hugo had seen him. He didn't know what he was even waiting for. Maybe Hugo wouldn't even look up. Why should he? It's not like he was looking for Scorpius, right? Why was Scorpius even looking? This was silly.
Hugo looked up, and he scanned the corridor, eyes flicking from face to face until he reached Scorpius. When he found Scorpius already gazing at him, his eyes widened. Half of Scorpius' instincts told him to look away and run, but the other half… Hugo smiled at him, and a small fire lit in Scorpius' chest.
Scorpius walked past him, and held his breath. He knew the exact moment that they were closest. Then it was gone, and Scorpius turned back to Chris' chatter.
It happened again. And again. And again. Every day. Usually twice a day, Scorpius would look up, and Hugo would be there. Sometimes, Hugo would smile at him, and though that usually prompted Scorpius to look away, he couldn't help the warmth that filled him every time it happened, or the way he couldn't wait until it happened again.
It was almost a week before anybody noticed. Or, at least, it was a week before anybody commented.
Scorpius had just looked up from his Arithmancy textbook, and automatically swiped his eyes around the room. They caught. Hugo was watching him from a study table a few yards away, his gaze steady and his smile quiet. Scorpius' stomach fluttered. He looked down at his textbook.
His hand curled around the edge of the page, and though Scorpius curled his lips under, he couldn't suppress the grin that fought its way onto his face. He shifted in his seat, and dragged his hand through his hair. He wondered if Hugo was still watching him, if he'd seen that smile…what he thought about it…
Scorpius glanced up, wondering if he could find Hugo again without Hugo noticing, when he was caught by a different pair of eyes. Chris was staring at Scorpius like he'd grown another head. Scorpius paled. He struggled for something to say.
Slowly, Chris turned around his seat. Across the room, Scorpius saw Hugo hastily put his eyes back on his homework. Chris turned back to face Scorpius, his expression positively bemused.
"So tired," said Scorpius. He jumped out of his seat and grabbed his book bag. He plastered a fake smile on his face. "Going to head to bed. See you later, mate."
"Scor, wait, are you-"
"Fine, fine, I promise. Just tired," said Scorpius. He smiled one last time at Chris before forcing himself to stroll out of library. He avoided looking at Hugo as much as possible.
Scorpius shoved his Arithmancy book into his bag as he walked. He ripped his hands through his hair.
"What are you doing?" he demanded. "What the bloody…what are you doing? What are you doing?" What was he doing?
A few of his classmates called out to him in the Common Room, but Scorpius was too distracted to even wave. He went straight up to his dorm and collapsed onto his bed, drawing the curtains.
Scorpius stared up at the ceiling for a long moment before closing his eyes. He pressed the heels of his hands against his eyes. Except, while the pressure left licks of color on his sight, it didn't erase the image in his mind, which was Chris turning, real, real slowly, to face Hugo. Then his confusion. What's the puppy to you? his eyes asked. I don't know, Scorpius wailed. I don't know what Hugo is.
God, Hugo. And his stupid, stupid, beautiful eyes. And his stupid, stupid, beautiful mouth. Wide and pink and soft-looking. Hugo was always smiling at him, or biting his lip. Scorpius licked his lips. He knew he shouldn't, but he couldn't help it. Hugo seemed to like him so much…he bet Hugo wanted to kiss him. Scorpius had kissed girls before, and it was fun, but he'd never wanted to go further than that. With Hugo…he thought about what it'd feel like to kiss Hugo's mouth. To press his big shoulders against a wall and kiss him hard. He'd smooth his hands over Hugo's flat, muscular chest, and around his neck, twirling his fingertips in Hugo's red hair.
Scorpius swallowed; the image was full of colors in front of his eyes and full of heat and delicious sounds in his imagination. Scorpius felt a twitch of arousal in his groin. He groaned, and turned over onto his stomach. He folded his hands over the back of his head.
What was he doing?
If getting caught made Scorpius a little shy of stealing looks at Hugo, Hugo certainly did not feel the same. It was like nothing had even happened.
Except, obviously, something had happened, because Scorpius was about to walk right past Hugo, was counting down to that moment when they were the closest, where they could almost touch, when Hugo reached out and grabbed Scorpius' wrist. Scorpius had no choice. He stopped walking.
Scorpius stared at him, and Hugo stared back, his chin thrust out defiantly, but the look in his eyes was pleading and soft. Scorpius' breathing quickened. Beside him, Miranda looked between them, her eyes wide.
"What?" said Scorpius.
Hugo didn't say anything. He slid his fingers down Scorpius' wrist and onto his palm. Instinctively, Scorpius curled his fingers down, slipping their palms together, twining their fingers. Hugo smiled, and squeezed Scorpius' hand. Scorpius' blood thrummed hot through his veins.
"Scor?" said Miranda, glancing between the two boys.
Scorpius blinked. His eyes widened. He looked away from Hugo's eyes and ripped his hand out of Hugo's grasp. He walked down the corridor.
Miranda glanced at Hugo, who was staring after Scorpius' retreating back. She skipped a few steps to catch up with Scorpius. Christian, however, was walking the other direction down the corridor and stopped in his tracks to watch the exchange. He was still staring at Hugo when Scorpius brushed past him.
"Hey!" said Chris. He spun around, the second person to stop Scorpius in his tracks that day, this time with a tight grip on his shoulder.
"What is it?" said Scorpius, but his eyes flicked away from Chris' gaze. Oh God, he prayed. Oh, God.
Chris gaped at him. "What's wrong with you?" he said finally.
"I don’t know what you mean."
"You don’t…come on." Chris marched down the corridor, dragging Scorpius behind him.
Finally, after Chris had turned them and dragged Scorpius down yet another corridor, Miranda left far behind, Scorpius snapped. "Damn it, Chris, let go of me." Scorpius ripped his arm away. "What's wrong with you?"
Chris turned to face him, and his eyebrows were drawn together. He was angry, Scorpius realized, and somehow he was surprised.
"Scorpius…" Chris paused. He shook his head and rubbed a hand over his eyes.
Scorpius' heart pounded. "What?"
"Scor…" Chris kept shaking his head.
"What? What is it? What do you want to know?"
Chris chewed on the inside of his cheek, arms folded across his chest. When he spoke, it was more like he burst. "Scor, do you fancy Weasley?"
No, don't be ridiculous.
Scorpius' jaw tightened. He couldn't say it. He looked down at his feet. He looked down for so long, he heard Chris sigh. His silence was an answer in itself, but Scorpius wasn't satisfied with that. Chris deserved more than that, he thought. So did Hugo, probably.
"Yeah, I think I do," he said.
Chris sighed again. "Merlin, Scorpius…"
Scorpius glanced up, but Chris wasn't looking at him. He had one arm folded across his chest, the other hand folded over his eyes, rubbing his temples.
"I think I'm…gay."
Chris' hand dropped. The look he gave Scorpius was a mix of incredulity and disgust. Scorpius felt like every part of his body had become heavy, heavy liquid, swirling and sinking at the same time.
"You think so, huh?"
"For how long, exactly?"
Scorpius swallowed. "A long time."
"A long time."
Chris nodded, and looked away from Scorpius' face again. "Okay," he said.
"Yeah, okay," said Chris. He turned away from Scorpius and started walking. "Whatever," he muttered.
Scorpius hesitated. Somehow, it didn't feel like it was okay. It took him a long time to work up the courage to catch up to Chris and walk to their next class together. They didn't really talk again until dinner.
"So, do you two have valentines, yet?" asked Miranda, taking a dainty bite of her salad. She beamed at them both.
"Not really, no," said Chris. He turned his blank eyes to Scorpius. "You, Scor?"
Scorpius stared at him for a moment, trying to read his expression, but trying to read Chris was impossible. He looked at Miranda instead. "Yeah, I don't know. Maybe. It's sort of complicated."
Miranda scooted closer to him. "Really? Ooo, tell me. Who is she?"
Scorpius glanced at Chris, but Chris didn't say anything. His expression didn't change. He wasn't eating. He just stared. Scorpius fidgeted, and looked back to Miranda. "It's…I mean, like I said, it's sort of complicated."
"Spoil sport," said Miranda, turning back to her salad. She gestured at Chris with her fork. "But at least Scor's got somebody. You're just a grump."
Chris sighed, and picked up his fork.
"Did you hear me?" said Miranda, still brandishing her fork.
Chris looked up, eyes flicking from Miranda, to Scorpius, then back to Miranda. "Yep," he said. "I heard you."
Scorpius felt very cold. Chris somehow avoided looking him in the eyes for the rest of the evening, even though they were, like always, seated across from each other.
Valentine's Day was gray and chilly, a bit of winter leftovers, and Scorpius didn't know how to feel about that. Chris hadn't spoken more than three complete sentences to him in days, and Miranda was going around chattering abut Valentine's Day like it really mattered to anybody but hormonal third years.
Scorpius was still seeing Hugo everywhere he went, and Hugo had even touched him a couple more times, but Scorpius had brushed him off. He just didn't know what to do. He didn't know, and now it was Valentine's Day, and he couldn't bear to face Miranda or Chris. Instead, Scorpius grabbed his winter coat and walked out onto the grounds, heading towards the broomshed. It'd be nice to leave this whole mess below him for a while.
Scorpius sighed as he pushed open the broomshed door. He was taking a step into the musty darkness when something heavy hit his back. Scorpius yelped, stumbling forward. He hissed when his tender side hit a workbench, but he caught himself with both hands and pushed himself around, hand going for his wand even as his eyes searched the dark for his attacker.
The pale light winked off of copper hair. Scorpius' hand froze.
Hugo scowled and stalked towards him. Scorpius took a step back, backing himself against the work bench. Hugo's eyes were narrowed, and he glared at Scorpius.
Hugo reached up and grabbed handfuls of Scorpius' lapels, ripping him away from the work bench and shoving him up against the stone wall of the shed. Scorpius gasped, eyes wide, head bumping against the stone. Hugo moved forward until only a few inches separated their chests, and Scorpius noticed they were both breathing hard. He could feel Hugo's breath against his neck, but hotter than that was the fierce, possessive look that Hugo ran over Scorpius' face and throat. Scorpius' heart skittered.
"I'm going to kiss you," said Hugo. His eyes dropped from Scorpius' gaze to Scorpius' mouth.
Scorpius stared, unable to move even an inch.
Hugo drew in a shaky breath. "I fancy you, Malfoy, and I know, I know you fancy me too, but you're just too much of a coward to do anything about it. S-so…so, I'm going to kiss you, and you don't even have to talk to me, or look at me, or care about me at all, b-but you will kiss me back." Hugo glared up into Scorpius' eyes.
For a moment, they just stared at each other.
Something snapped inside of Scorpius. "Okay," he breathed.
Hugo blinked. His grip on Scorpius' lapels loosened. "W-what?"
"Fine," said Scorpius. "Do it."
"Kiss me?" Scorpius prompted. Hugo blushed. He looked down at his hands on Scorpius' chest, and he flattened them. He took a small step back.
Scorpius rolled his eyes. "You're pathetic."
Hugo flinched, and started to turn away, but he stopped when Scorpius grabbed the collar of his coat. Scorpius dragged Hugo towards him, leaned down, and pressed their lips together.
Hugo made a small, surprised noise. His lips were still, and dry, and a little cold under Scorpius', but the moment their skins touched, Scorpius' heart jumped into his throat. He smoothed his fingers away from Hugo's collar, burying them in Hugo's hair and tilting his head back. Scorpius moved their mouths together softly, brushing slightly chapped lips in a slow, maddening crush. He sighed when Hugo's hands smoothed up the front of his jacket, fingers curling against his chest. When he pulled back, Hugo's eyes were hooded, and his face was flushed. His lips were dark and slightly parted. Immediately, Scorpius wanted to kiss him again.
"Oh," said Hugo, so softly it was almost more breath than sound.
Scorpius leaned back against the shed wall, hands cupped around the back of Hugo's neck, drawing him close. Hugo shot Scorpius a tentative look before moving in closer and resting his cheek against the curve of Scorpius' neck.
"Oh," Hugo said again.
Scorpius laughed a little, and wrapped his arms around Hugo's shoulders. Hugo brought his arms around Scorpius' waist and hugged him close. Scorpius closed his eyes, and buried his face in Hugo's hair, breathing him in. He felt so warm, Scorpius thought. So warm, and comfortable, and yet his blood rushed like he was diving for the Snitch or telling a lie. For long minutes, Scorpius just let himself be held, breathing in the scent of Hugo's shampoo and the dusty musk of the broomshed.
Something niggled at the back of Scorpius' mind. "Maybe we could go to Hogsmeade this weekend."
Hugo pulled back so he could look at Scorpius' eyes. He seemed cautious, but when he spoke, his tone was hopeful. "Yeah?"
"Yeah," said Scorpius firmly.
Scorpius laughed. "Why? Well, because you'll just follow me anyway, right?"
Hugo blushed, and looked down at Scorpius' chest for a moment before meeting his eyes again. "Probably," he admitted.
Scorpius smiled, and reached up to fiddle with a lock of Hugo's hair. "Your dad's going to kill you, you know."
Hugo grinned. "No way. He's going to kill you."
Scorpius smiled, and started to reply, but then a thought occurred to him. A very distant possibility, but still… "Hey," he said. "I'm not just a way to piss off your daddy, am I? I mean, I'm not necessarily saying that's a deal-breaker, but just so I know.…"
Hugo's brow furrowed. "No. Well…" Hugo shrugged. "Maybe. But mostly no."
Scorpius studied the copper lock between his fingers, and Hugo studied Scorpius' face.
"So…what about your dad?"
Scorpius frowned. What about his dad… "I don't know," he said finally. "When I get in trouble he usually just looks at me and sighs, then waves his hand so I know I can leave his study."
"Sometimes he yells."
"Oh…" Obviously, Hugo had been expecting something a little more impressive from the Malfoys. Scorpius was almost sad to disappoint him.
"Yeah, I think Mum'll talk him down."
"Oh," said Hugo again. His eyes drifted from Scorpius' and settled on his mouth. "…Cool," he said. "So…um…"
Scorpius smirked. "What?"
"Could I…" Hugo licked his lips and glanced up at Scorpius' eyes.
"Only if you stop asking."
The second kiss was not cold at all, in any way. In fact, Scorpius thought he might never be cold again.
Hugo's grip on his hand began to loosen as they approached the doors to the Great Hall. Scorpius cast him a sidelong glance, but Hugo was looking down at his feet, resignation written in the slump of his shoulders.
Scorpius stopped, and so Hugo did. He looked at Scorpius questioningly.
"Do you want to let go?" Scorpius asked, and nodded at their hands.
Hugo looked down, then back up at Scorpius' face. He shook his head – no.
"So don't," said Scorpius. Hugo stared at him for a moment, and then smiled a faint smile.
"Okay," he said.
They walked into the Great Hall together, Hugo's fingers tensed hard around Scorpius' hand, almost like he was afraid Scorpius was going to run away. Scorpius considered that for a moment and thought, not entirely happily, that it was probably a valid fear. He squeezed Hugo's hand and met his eyes before they had to part to go sit at their separate tables. Hugo smiled, and Scorpius smiled back, and that familiar warmth was lit in Scorpius' chest.
It was almost enough to keep Scorpius feeling proud and confident as he approached his table. The Slytherins stared. His friends stared, their mouths either opened in small 'O's of shock, or hardened into straight lines of judgment. Scorpius ignored them all as he walked down the line of backs to his usual spot across from Chris, next to Miranda.
Miranda bounced up and down in her seat, grabbing onto Scorpius' shoulder as soon as he slid onto the bench.
"You found a leash!" she accused, her eyes glinting and her smile wide. Scorpius stared for a moment before realizing what she meant, and when he did, he laughed along with her.
"Yeah, I did," he said. "I told you it was complicated."
"Oh, I hate you," said Miranda. "You keep all the good stuff from me. I bet you told Chris, though, didn’t you?"
Scorpius took a deep breath and looked across the table at his friend. His bestfriend, he reminded himself. He quailed beneath Christian's gaze. This time, there was no incredulity to soften the blow. The look on Christian's face was nothing less than disgust.
"I told Chris," he said. He felt like whispering, but he made himself say it normally. He felt like staring at his plate, but he made himself meet Chris' eyes instead. He was Scorpius Malfoy, damn it -- practically Slytherin royalty, brilliant NEWT student, and a brilliant Seeker. He didn't need to wince and cower; in fact, he refused. His lips thinned into a line as he stared Chris down across the table.
Miranda sighed. "What's going on? Chris, are you being stupid?"
"No, I'm not being stupid, Miranda."
Miranda blinked, surprised by Chris' harsh tone. It wasn't like him to snap. She pursed her lips.
"What, exactly, is the nature of your problem?" Scorpius' voice was cold.
Chris stared at him, and then looked down at his plate. The expression he wore took Scorpius aback. He looked…hurt. Hurt. Wait. Where did Chris get off being hurt? Wasn't he the one who'd been such a total arse the last couple of days? Right after Scorpius had told him something so important? Hurt? Scorpius scowled.
"What, I'm a shirt-lifter so you don't like me anymore, is that how it goes? Seven years of friendship, just…" Scorpius shook his head.
"Scorpius," Miranda whined, but Scorpius ignored her. He watched Chris.
"No," said Christian. "You self-righteous little pouf, you lied to me for seven years, so I'm thinking it over. That's how it goes." Chris looked up from his plate, glaring, and Scorpius' mouth dropped open.
"I-I never…" Except yes, he had. He'd lied every day. He'd lied about his mannerisms. He'd lied about girls. He'd lied about blokes. He'd lied about Quidditch. He'd lied about Hugo. He'd lied to pass, but that didn't make his words any truer. Scorpius paused. "I'm sorry," he said finally, and he meant it.
"Yeah…" said Chris. "Me too."
Scorpius walked down the cobbled streets of Hogsmeade with his hand curled around Hugo's.
"So, Rose is really upset with me," said Hugo.
"How'd you guess?"
Scorpius and Hugo traded smiles. Hugo swung their hands as they approached the Three Broomsticks.
"She says I'm behaving irrationally. She says that we don't even know each other."
"She's just jealous that you're prettier than she is."
Hugo laughed, and held the door open for Scorpius. Scorpius smiled and stepped over the threshold, waiting for Hugo to step in beside him. "Pick a table," he said, gesturing towards the tables and approaching the bar to get their drinks.
While the bar-wench fetched him two butterbeers, Scorpius sat on a stool, eyes darting lazily around the pub while he considered what sorts of things he could talk to Hugo about. They really didn't know that much about each other, he admitted. But that's why they were dating, right? Because they wanted to; because he wanted to know Hugo's favorite color, and his favorite subject, and what he wanted to be when he graduated, and why he wanted to make his dad angry, and what, exactly, he'd thought Scorpius' dad was going to do to him for being gay; and because that's what people expected you to do when you were snogging all the time. Scorpius grinned.
"Here they are, dearie."
Scorpius turned around on the stool and reached into his pocket for his money.
"Look, I don't know, all right? Why don't you just ask him?"
Scorpius' head popped up. He glanced around. Hugo wasn't one for raising his voice, so hearing him talking loudly enough to be heard over the din of the Broomsticks caught Scorpius' attention.
"Um, hello?" said the wench.
Scorpius slapped his coins down on the counter and grabbed a butterbeer in each hand. He finally managed to spot Hugo through the swarm of bodies and the high-backed booths. The redhead was sitting at a small table in the corner, his back pressed against the wall, and there, settled in the chair next to him, tall and muscular and every inch of his body shouting, 'intimidation,' was Sebastian Nott. Scorpius' hands tightened around his butterbeers. His jaw set.
"I don't understand, aren't you mates?" said Hugo, and he did look honestly confused. Sebastian laughed.
"Me and the fairy Prince? Not likely."
God, he hated Sebastian Nott. He hurried towards the table.
"Look, why don't you just bugger off, in that case?" Hugo glared, drawing himself up, but he was still at least a head shorter than Sebastian.
"Yeah, yeah, I will, of course, but first, you know, I have to know how you did it."
"Convert him, of course. I mean, you should've heard him a few weeks ago. Wow. Did not like you. So, you know, just let me in on it. You suck him off or something?"
Scorpius was going to kill him. That's all there was to it. Once he managed to wade through this bloody crowd, he was going to kill Sebastian Nott. He didn't even care if he went to Azkaban. Screw it. He'd had a good run.
Hugo was practically trembling with rage himself, his entire face flushing. "Fuck off."
Sebastian laughed. "Is that a yes?"
"Actually, I beat him to it."
Nott spun around, and, for a moment, Scorpius paused. He stared, watching as Christian settled himself against the wall near Sebastian's back. Chris stared down at Sebastian with that familiar, cold, blank gaze.
"What?" Sebastian scoffed.
"Hugo was too slow. I converted Scor. Handjobs after lights out, you know how that goes. Terribly jealous when he chose the little badger over me, of course."
Nott gaped. "Are-are you serious?"
Chris stared at him for a long moment, and Scorpius came to his senses. He fought his way through the last of the crowd.
"Of course not, you fuckwit," said Chris. "I'm not queer, and they're just dating. I'm sure Scorpius is nowhere near that smooth."
Scorpius finally reached the table, slamming his bottles of butterbeer down with two twin snaps. Nott shot him startled look. Hugo smiled at Scorpius. Scorpius smiled at Nott. They wore very different expressions.
Sebastian's eyes flicked from Hugo, to Scorpius, to Chris. He stood up slowly and backed away. Chris watched him go with an arched eyebrow.
When Chris turned back, he and Scorpius just looked at each other for a moment. Finally, Chris shrugged, and looked away. Scorpius sat down, and Chris pushed himself away from the wall, walking back across the room to where Miranda was watching the encounter with her mouth open wide, butterbeer forgotten in one hand.
"Who's that?" Hugo nodded towards Chris. He picked up one of the butterbeers and sipped.
"My best mate," said Scorpius.
"Oh," said Hugo. "He's cute," he said, and grinned.
Scorpius rolled his eyes. "Yeah, well, too late. You stalked me. No returns or refunds."
Hugo smiled. "That was really nice of you two, don’t get me wrong, but I could've totally handled that myself."
"Oh?" Scorpius snickered.
"Absolutely," said Hugo. "Would've been fun."
"He's, like, a thousand feet taller than you."
"So? I'd trip him."
"He's, like, twice your weight."
"Which makes him, like, four times yours," said Hugo, rolling his eyes.
Scorpius grinned and looked down at his drink. "Hey, Hugo?"
"What's your favorite color?"