“Mr. Malfoy, you may partner up with Mr. Potter.”
Scorpius jerked his head up to face Professor Slughorn so fast that he nearly got whiplash. He couldn’t be serious.
“A- Albus?” Scorpius asked, eyes wide. The butterflies in his stomach felt like they were doing a moderately complicated gymnastics routine.
He cringed immediately after speaking as he heard the snickers from his classmates, who didn’t bother trying to conceal them. Even Rose Granger-Weasley was looking sympathetically in Albus’s direction, but he could tell she was mainly relieved that it wasn’t her.
“Yes, Mr. Malfoy,” Slughorn said, clasping his hands together, looking all too cheerful for Scorpius’s liking. “Your parents did give me quite a bit of trouble during their years here. How they managed to get into detentions from opposite sides of the room, I’ll never truly understand. I trust you two not to do the same?” He gave Scorpius a warm smile that did almost nothing to reassure him.
“Yes, sir.” Scorpius hesitantly averted his eyes over to where Albus Potter was chatting animatedly with a group of Slytherins, and to Scorpius’s slight astonishment, a few Gryffindors who they shared potions class with.
Of course house rivalry doesn’t matter when it comes to Albus Potter, he thought to himself as a raven haired Gryffindor girl laughed loudly at something Albus had said.
To no one’s surprise, Albus Potter was one of the most well liked students in their year. The son of the chosen one, with his equally popular siblings, had a vast array of admirers despite being sorted into Slytherin. In fact, being in Slytherin seemed to make him even more of a catch, and Scorpius could easily see the appeal; everyone loved a bad boy. With his world famous parents, charming green eyes, and enough Quidditch skill to rival Viktor Krum, he couldn’t name a single person who disliked Albus Severus Potter, not even the Gryffindors who were upset that their house didn’t get the entire Potter set.
Albus hadn’t seemed to have heard Slughorn’s announcement, and was now in a deep conversation with a tall, brown haired Slytherin named Flint. Scorpius didn’t know much about Flint except that he was a chaser on the team, but he had eagerly joined in to the chants of “son of Voldemort!” back in second year, so Scorpius tried his best to steer clear of him and his cronies.
“You may proceed to start gathering your materials! Sleeping droughts are a complex and detail-oriented solution to brew, so work carefully with your partner and make sure to use your class time effectively! Your final product should be deep purple in colour,” Slughorn said cheerfully, gesturing openly to the class. As people started to head over to the storage cupboards, Scorpius noticed that Albus Potter still had no idea what was going on, and seemingly, neither did his friends, who were in a passionate discussion about what sounded to Scorpius like Quidditch.
With a sigh, he got up and started to walk over to where Albus was sitting. If he made a complete fool of himself in front of a group of the most popular students in his year, the best he could do was hope they’d forget about it in a week or two.
He stopped within a short distance of Albus’s desk, deciding how to inform him that he’d been paired with his father’s childhood rival.
“You don’t honestly believe Portree could beat the Harpies, do you?” Albus was saying, leaning forward on his chair, mouth agape.
“I’d say you’re a little biased, Albus! Your mum plays for the Harpies,” Flint retorted, eyebrows raised.
“That has nothing to do with it!” Albus protested. “Portree hasn’t won a game in three years!”
“That’s because their best players conveniently caught a nasty case of dragon pox!”
Albus rolled his eyes, and looked around the room as he started to realize people were getting to work. His startling green eyes landed past Flint and onto where Scorpius was awkwardly standing, fiddling with his wand. He looked surprised, almost as if he’d just noticed they shared potions class together.
Scorpius opened his mouth to say something, but the words didn’t have time to leave his mouth before Flint whipped around to see what Albus was looking at. Flint raised his eyebrows, an expression of annoyance growing on his pale face.
“Do you need something, Malfoy?” He asked coldly.
Albus gave him a slight glance, but didn’t comment.
“I kind of need my partner,” Scorpius replied, and the Gryffindor girl beside Albus snickered. “Albus, Slughorn says we’re- we’re supposed be partners. For the sleeping draught?”
Albus looked more confused than upset, which Scorpius took as a good sign.
“Are you sure about that?” Albus asked slowly, but the girl intervened before he could reply.
“Why on earth would Slughorn pair you with him? He may be daft, but not that daft,” she said, as the students around her sniggered.
“It’s almost laughable. A Potter and a Malfoy,” Flint added, and Scorpius wanted nothing more than to disappear and ask Slughorn if he could work on the potion alone, complexity be damned.
Albus shot Flint a hard look that quickly wiped the smile off his face. Then he turned back in his chair to face Scorpius, who breathed a sigh of relief.
“Did he really partner us up?”
“Yes, he did, you can ask him if you want,” he said, noticing that Albus’s friends were hanging on to every word of the conversation. A few of them looked disbelieving, but the majority just looked amused.
Scorpius had to force himself to stay put no matter how much his brain was telling him to take off. He couldn’t make an even bigger fool of himself than he currently was. Especially not in front of the one person who didn’t shove past him in the hallway any chance he got.
Albus Potter was a complete mystery to him. Any normal person in Albus’s shoes would have despised Scorpius with a passion. After all, his father (although Scorpius firmly believed he had changed) was an ex-Death Eater. They’d been on opposite sides of the war, and yet, Albus Potter had never tried to hex him in their shared dorms, vandalize his books, or even call him a Death Eater. In fact, they’d never really spoken except for an occasional “did we have homework?” when none of Albus’s friends were around to ask.
It would be refreshing, Scorpius supposed, working with someone who didn’t seem to hate him over something he had no control over.
“Okay, then,” Albus said, letting out a breath. He started to pick up his things, and the rest of his group did the same, not bothering to mask their appalled expressions regarding this obvious injustice.
“I’m going to go work with Rose,” the dark haired Gryffindor girl said, as she slowly started to get up with an air of haughtiness. “Don’t let him convert you to the dark side!”
“Leave it, Katie.” Albus’s voice was lower than it usually was, and he furrowed his eyebrows at her as he spoke. He walked over to Scorpius until they were about a meter apart, and for a second, it seemed like the eternally confident Albus Potter didn’t know what to say.
Scorpius knew what that felt like, so he interjected before Albus could speak.
“Do you want to set up while I grab the ingredients? Or you could grab the ingredients and I could set up. Whichever you’d prefer.” He spoke quickly, as he tended to do when he was nervous.
“Hmm, that’s an awfully hard decision to make,” Albus said, raising an eyebrow.
“Is it? I’ve noticed you’re a little clumsy sometimes. No offence of course,” Scorpius replied, failing to note the obvious sarcasm on Albus’s part. “But maybe I should get our things. Not that I watch you closely or anything. That would be slightly stalker-ish of me. It’s just that last class you dropped your jar of beetle eyes and they rolled all over the classroom. You can probably imagine how hard it is to clean beetle eyes off the soles of leather shoes...” Scorpius trailed off as he noticed the expression of amusement on Albus’s face.
“I guess you can get the ingredients then, since I’ll probably trip and get Flobberworm mucus in your eye or something.”
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to-“ he started, feeling a dreadful sense of worry creep up in him, but he cut his sentence short when Albus burst out laughing.
“I was kidding!”
“Oh,” Scorpius breathed. “Okay.”
“Sorry about your shoes. I’ll wait at your desk.” Albus grinned as he walked away, and Scorpius could feel his cheeks growing warm. Sighing, he realized that keeping his mouth shut was a skill he had yet to master.
Scorpius waited for the small crowd to scatter before making his way into the old, wooden storage cupboards and gathering their materials into a small tray. The lavender sprigs were particularly hard to find, so it took a while before he was able to head back to his seat. He hoped Albus wouldn’t mind.
As he reached his desk in the back corner, he noticed that Albus had set up their area perfectly. He’d moved the other chairs aside so they’d have space to move about, and the cauldron was arranged neatly beside the utensils they’d be using.
“Took you long enough,” Albus said. He was teetering back in his seat, balancing on the two back legs of the stool. The sight gave Scorpius anxiety.
“Sorry, it was dark in there.” Scorpius replied, setting the ingredients as far away from Albus as he could. He’d just gotten new robes, and his father would not be pleased if he got them dirty.
“You know, we’ve only conversed for a total of two minutes, and you’ve already apologized twice. According to my calculations, that’s one sorry per minute,” Albus pointed out, bringing his stool back on all fours as he stared up at Scorpius expectantly.
“Sorry,” Scorpius said instinctively.
“Merlin, this should be a drinking game.” Albus said incredulously. “Taking a shot of firewhisky every time you say sorry.”
“I wouldn’t recommend that.”
“Because I’d pass out within twenty minutes?”
“Ten, probably,” he responded, making Albus laugh, and he couldn’t quite put his finger on why the sound made his stomach do a flip.
They worked comfortably for the next half hour, and Scorpius found that Albus was a surprisingly good partner. He did his fair share of work, and stirred daintily as Scorpius poured the ingredients into their bubbling cauldron. Scorpius couldn’t help but notice the way the glow of the potion made Albus’s emerald green eyes light up all the more.
“Okay, your turn to stir. Twice counterclockwise,” he said, handing over the mixing spoon, his fingers faintly brushing Scorpius’s.
Scorpius could almost see the the blush that was undoubtedly making its way onto his face, but fortunately, Albus was too busy measuring lavender sprigs to notice.
He stirred the draught as Albus poured the sprigs in, suddenly becoming very aware of his technique. He tried to mimic the way Albus stirred it, with a light wrist movement.
But he’d always been more of the bookish type, and he was a lot better at memorizing facts than using his hands.
“Try slowing down a little,” Albus said as the spoon clanged against the inside of the cauldron, splashing a little solution onto the rims. “We do still have an hour left, you know. Here, let me help.”
Albus scooted his chair closer, and placed his hand directly over top of Scorpius’s on the mixing spoon.
Scorpius took a breath, becoming aware of just how close Albus was sitting. He could smell Albus’s cologne, a pleasant lavender scent. Or was that just from the lavender sprigs they’d been using? Thoughts rushed through Scorpius’s head as he did his best to follow Albus’s guidance.
Their shoulders were brushing, and he could feel the cool of Albus’s hand on top of his as he gently stirred the potion.
After stirring twice clockwise, which felt to Scorpius like a much too short period of time, Albus removed his hand, smirking at Scorpius as their potion turned a pleasant lilac colour.
“See? It looks so much better than the textbook version,” Albus said, clearly proud of their combined potion making abilities.
“It does, doesn’t it?” Scorpius responded, when his heart rate had returned to a somewhat normal range. “Are you this helpful with all your potions partners?”
“Just the ones I like.” He grinned at Scorpius as he spoke, with that charming Albus Potter smile, and there went his heart again.
He couldn’t get Albus Potter off his mind for the rest of the day.