I know you didn’t bring me out here to drown
So why am I ten feet under and upside-down?
Barely surviving has become my purpose
Cause I’m so use to living underneath the surface.
— Lifehouse, “Storm”
Ernie feels lost. Lost among the trees and flower-beds, in the ethereal moonlight and the sounds of music floating out into the garden, accompanied by the tinkling of champagne glasses. He breathes in the warm summer air and waits, waits for what feels like hours, although it is probably no more than several minutes. He is alone here in the shadows, among the trees and flowers. Alone to suffer through the stifling waiting, the nagging fear that this is the day that he won’t come. The party inside was never his, always that of his parents. Ernie never feels like he belongs much of anywhere. Anywhere at all. Not with his liberal parents, at their summer galas that are far too Pureblooded for their liberalism, nor at the Malfoy soirees with their politics and snobbery. He feels inadequate and irritated in the presence of the Great Potter and his cronies, but even more awkward and frustrated in the shadow of the Slytherins, especially those goons who follow Draco around the way large hunting dogs follow their master.
He’s neither a Pureblood nor a Blood Traitor. His family may have been ascribed that title, but Ernie feels slighted by the notion. He hasn’t betrayed anyone or anything because there was nothing and no one for him to betray. Sorted into Hufflepuff… Why they had left him. They had judged him by his parents and yet who was to say he would not have fought for them, for him? No, not the snake-faced fanatic, but the beautiful blonde-haired boy of his daydreams. But they had never given him the chance, and now he had others to protect, others to protect him.
If anything linked Ernie to any alternative it was Draco.
Draco, who now appears through the foliage, the moon dying his hair silver. Draco, whose eyes are molten silver and who takes so much pride in who he is. Ernie wishes he could feel so proud of anything. Even of this. Of hands through blonde hair and lips on tender, pale skin just at the base of the ear, lips on lips, bodies pressed into each other, breaths mingled. But he feels only shame and fear and a wild, breathless confusion.
Draco is having a good night it seems – he is ecstatic, his usual smirk and snark forgotten at the Manor, and Ernie takes the best thing he has ever been given – this passion that may be love, should be hatred, and is certainly not healthy.
Lysander can’t quite breathe. Mostly because he’s pressed against the wall, his curly hair falling over his eyes in blonde wisps. His heart is racing and raging, thumping heavily against his ribs in thrusts of agony and desire. He wants to laugh and cry but can’t force a single sound other than a desperate moan. Scorpius is kissing him to bruising desperation and Lysander cannot make up him mind if this is the best birthday present he has ever received or the worst.
His green-and-silver school scarf slides off his shoulders and slithers to the ground, curling up at his feet like a serpent. The way they had all looked at him – the Potter-Weasleys – when he had been sorted into Slytherin, as though he had grown three extra heads and six extra eyes. He had done his best to hold his head high, but that was torture during the holidays. Lorcan had not said anything at first and their parents – Merlin bless them – were far too engrossed in everything that had nothing to do with reality, from nargles to Big Foot, to notice.
It was when the red and gold became too vivid and numerous in his vision that the colors burned against his eyelids and when his own twin became prosecutor before brother, that Lysander had run. Run straight into Scorpius’ arms with few regrets, giving in to the last, final note of the symphony that was his condemnation, his anthem of protest against the red and the gold and the swirling disarray that was the family of his parents’ friends.
Lysander is crying, eyes closed, until Scorpius stops and cups his face in both hands. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” he sobs, a smile breaking out like a ray of sunshine through stormy clouds, radiating in a rainbow. “Just kiss me, damn it.”
The night Draco doesn’t come, Albus Dumbledore is killed and the War comes closer to home than ever before. Ernie cries alone in the shadows of a lonely, forgotten hallway. Forgotten like his heart, like his love. Forgotten by the one person whom he might have fought for. He realizes later that he doesn’t even have a proper picture of Draco, not to mention one of them together. This was never an actual relationship, just some strange, desperate bluff to be something other than what they had already become through years of other influences. If they had found comfort in each other – for Draco to be tender and for Ernie to be Pureblood – it had been a transitory state. But the War did not bother with such fragile lines, such delicate moments, hidden in shadows, buried under locking and silencing spells, shoved between shame and grief. It tore open wounds and hearts. Ernie found that he could still cry, cry until the world fell apart, shredded into pieces of reality that never could come together again.
He fights out of anger, out of fury. He fights not for the Muggles and the Muggle-borns – with the exception of Justin perhaps – but for Draco. Because they took Draco from him, took the sun and the stars and wind and turned them into a black tattoo on a pale forearm. Their Draco was not Ernie’s Draco. Not anymore, not after they had taken his pride and honor and twisted them into knots so tight they squeezed all the silver out of Draco’s eyes, leaving only hollow, heartless ash.
Ernie fights for Potter, because he doesn’t have a Draco to fight for anymore.
“My father thinks it is time I get married.”
Lysander doesn’t say anything, his eyes are wide and completely emotionless. He looks like a pretty doll to Scorpius in that moment, Not a person, but a doll. An angelic, fragile, porcelain figure, like the sort his grandmother loves so much. Perhaps that is why the words are so easy to say. “I have a bride now. Anna Rosier.”
Lysander stands, slowly walks to the window and opens the curtains. Sunlight spills across the hardwood floor, painting the walls with yellow sunbursts. Lysander turns and looks at Scorpius, then out the window into the street below. He drinks in the warmth of the sun, its light, because without both he would not be able to function. Scorpius had been his artificial sun, brighter and hotter than anything Lysander could have ever imagined. But that sun was about to burn out, become a black whole, leaving him with nothing but a sucking emptiness, frozen over with apathy.
“Did you hear me, Ly?”
Lysander turns and watches the older boy for several moments, memorizing his face, the way his hair falls over his temples, the way his lashes are just slightly too long for a boy, and how impeccably kissable his lips are. “Six years, Scor. Six years. Then you just stride in one sunny day and tell me you are getting married?”
Scorpius sighs and runs a hand through his hair, sifting the silky strands. “What did you expect? Do you think that even your parents would understand?”
Lysander thinks of his father, glasses low on his nose, peering at him from over a stack of books, saying “Lysander, this friendship with Scorpius Malfoy? Perhaps it isn’t the best thing?” That had been five years ago, the night Lysander had meant to tell the truth about his relationship with Scorpius but never got the chance. He’d cried all night.
“I would have fought for us, Scorpius. I just wish you hadn’t given up.”
Draco is the one who waits this time. Waits outside of his own wedding reception as Astoria dances one last time with every handsome man she didn’t get a chance at before marrying him. The music is barely audible and the frogs are making a whole bunch of racket. Ernie apparates in almost silently. He’d managed to get rid of that obnoxious popping sound since his school days.
They stand facing each other for a very long time, before Draco finally steps forward and takes Ernie’s hand in his. “Thank you for coming.”
Ernie laughs almost bitterly. “Have you been waiting long?”
“Half an hour.”
“Hardly long enough, then.”
Draco shrugs but doesn’t let go of the other young man’s hand and Ernie doesn’t pull away, mesmerized by those eyes and that touch. They are so familiar but seem an entire lifetime ago. This is his Draco and their Draco and Ernie is so mixed up in the emotions that bubble from deep within that he can hardly force himself to breath.
“I wanted to say…” Draco falters. “I wanted to say that I’m not sorry for what we had.”
Ernie bites down on his lower lip. It begins to bleed, leaving a salty, metallic taste in his mouth. “I am.”
Draco’s eyes widen, he opens his mouth to speak, then closes it again. He hadn’t been expecting such an answer. In fact, he isn’t sure what exactly he had been expecting.
“We would have been happier without it.”
Scorpius comes bursting into their – no, his, Lysander reminds himself; it is now just his, not theirs – flat the morning before Lysander is supposed to leave for Paris. The job he was offered there isn’t particularly spectacular, but he prefers Paris to London and France to England and further from Scorpius rather than closer…
“You know how I said it was time I got married?” Scorpius’ eyes are bright. Lysander tries – and fails – to not flinch. “Well I’ve been thinking.”
Lysander nods, numbly. The last thing he wants is for Scorpius to gush about his wedding.
“I was thinking, you should marry me.”
Lysander drops the picture frame he was about to pack. The glass shatters, sliding in all directions across the floor. “Wh-what?” he splutters incoherently. His head spins at an incredibly nauseating speed.
Scorpius grabs his wrist and pulls him closer, then cups his face and looks into his eyes. His smile is gone and he looks almost comically serious. “Marry me.”
“We can’t get married under English Wizarding law and you wouldn’t have us married under Muggle law..” is, for some absurd reason, the only thing Lysander can say.
“But we can under French Wizarding law,” Scorpius points out, his mouth twitching upward in an impish smirk. It takes Lysander several moments to comprehend the meaning of that statement. When he finally does…
…Scorpius can’t quite breathe. Mostly because he’s pressed against the wall and Lysander is kissing him to bruising desperation, Or maybe it is because he cannot make up him mind if this is one of the happiest moments of his life or simply the happiest.