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A Circus of Stars

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Scorpius covered his hands in chalk, rubbing them together before dusting the rest off on his trousers. The harness around his stomach was unnecessarily tight, but it was essential for his safety when learning new tricks. He took a deep breath, leaned forward to grab the Fly Bar and looked over to his catcher on the other side of the equipment staring off into space. Scorpius sighed and released the bar.

“Albus!” He called, raising his eyebrows. The black-haired boy snapped from his trance and looked at him. “I don’t need to remind you to focus, do I? If you don’t catch me, I could die,” he reminded.

Albus bit his lip guiltily and reached over to chalk his hands, repeating Scorpius’ actions. “I’m sorry, but you won’t die. This is only practice.”

“For now. It won’t be in two days when we’re performing this for the first time without harnesses, we need to perfect it, Al!”

This time, Albus smirked at him. “When have I ever let you down, honey?”

Scorpius shook his head at him and gripped back onto the bar. Albus gave him the nod and Scorpius was off, flying through the air with more force than usual towards Albus. He used his legs to swing the bar as far as possible and on the descent back to where he started, Scorpius piked his legs and lifted them up towards the bar. When it swung back towards Albus, Scorpius hooked his legs over the bar, letting them hold his weight as he released his hands from the bar. When close enough to Albus, Scorpius unhooked his legs, performing a perfect backwards somersault, reaching his hands out for Albus to catch him – he was swinging at him with his legs hooked around another bar – and just as their hands met –

He fell.

He slipped through Albus’ grip, crashing to the floor – the harness breaking most of his fall. He groaned loudly, turning onto his back and seeing Albus swinging above him.

“You good?” Albus called.

Scorpius nodded. “Grand! Let’s take a break, yeah?”

“Sure, I’m starving!”

Ginny Potter – Albus’ mum and their coach – came over to help Scorpius up. She didn’t need to tell them what went wrong, Scorpius knew exactly what went wrong. He couldn’t quite get enough power into his backwards somersault, which meant he wasn’t at the right angle for Albus to catch him and therefore kept slipping through his fingers.

Scorpius tried not to let yet another failure get to him, though it was difficult. Instead, he went ahead to get his lunch out of his locker and sat miserably down on the benches in the locker room after washing his hands. Albus joined him moments later, hands clean of chalk, and retrieved his own lunch. He took one look at Scorpius, seeing the way he was eyeing his sandwich with contempt and sighed.

“It takes practice, don’t beat yourself up,” he said as he sat down next to him, nudging his shoulder slightly.

Scorpius only smiled weakly at him and took a small bite of his sandwich. He definitely wouldn’t perfect the trick if he starved himself. Albus looked at him with sad, vulnerable eyes before tearing into his own lunch, keeping their shoulders pressed together in a small gesture to let Scorpius know he was ready to talk when he was.

Scorpius and Albus met when they were both six years old when they joined the same Junior Gymnastics team. They became instant best friends and one of the reasons Scorpius kept up Gymnastics for so long was to see Albus. When they were fourteen, they competed for England at a national competition and won gold. But, they both wanted something more. They partnered up and began training in Trapeze, Albus acting as the catcher and Scorpius as the flier.

That was ten years ago. At sixteen, they got their big break and joined a travelling circus that went all around Britain, earning quite the name for themselves as the youngest Trapeze artists to perform the types of tricks they do. In the world of the Circus, they became famous. Many others wanted them, including the Cirque Du Soleil, but they turned that offer down as it meant moving to Canada. Now, at twenty-four, the boys are performing for The Circus of Stars which is going on tour to many different theatres around the country.

The first show in is two days in Edinburgh, and they are nowhere near ready. Or, at least, Scorpius wasn’t ready. This was going to be the biggest audience they’d ever performed for, and he was struggling to perfect a trick that should come easy to him after eighteen years of practice.

Putting his sandwich down, he sighed. “What if I can’t do it?”

“I believe in you, we’ve had many setbacks like this before and we always get through it. Remember, you have to trust yourself.” It was good advice. Scorpius would put his life in the hands of Albus Potter, he trusted him with everything he had, but he had never fully learned to trust himself. It stemmed from a mixture of self-doubt, the terrifying fear that he wasn’t good enough and that he’d let Albus down.

Scorpius smiled weakly and looked at Albus before planting a kiss on his cheek. “How do you always know the right thing to say?”

Albus shrugged. “I’m good like that.”

“Yeah, you are,” Scorpius agreed. He pressed a chaste kiss to Albus’ lips before returning to his lunch, adoring the soft blush that covered the other boys cheeks and accentuated his freckles. Seven years of being together and Scorpius loved that he could still make Albus blush like that.

“Have you heard from your parents?” Albus asked casually as he resumed his normal state and went back to his lunch.

Scorpius shrugged. “Not since yesterday, apparently Bulgaria is too enticing meaning they can’t text their only son.” He rolled his eyes, feeling a little empty that his parents hadn’t replied to his last message. He hadn’t seen them in two years when they decided they were going to travel the world. They were now currently in Bulgaria – a place Scorpius was dying to visit – and were having the time of their lives. They deserved it really.

When Scorpius was younger, his mum got sick. For a while it didn’t look like she was going to make it, but she did. She always says now that she’s ‘living on borrowed time,’ and doesn’t want to spend her time trapped in a boring law firm taking on cases she doesn’t care about. So, off they went. They talk to Scorpius almost every day, but he missed them like crazy.

“I’m sure they’ll get back to you even-”

“Shit.” As Albus was talking, Scorpius impulsively picked up his phone to check for messages, only to find one from his mum, causing his impromptu curse word to blurt from his lips.

“What?”

“Mum and dad are coming to the show on Wednesday. Albus, they’re coming home specifically to watch me,” he spoke fast, panic growing in his lungs. He didn’t want to disappoint them and with how practice is going right now, it was looking like he would very much disappoint them. They hadn’t seen him perform in two years, they’ll be expecting a brilliant performance that Scorpius simply could not give to them.

“Isn’t that a good thing?”

“No, no it’s not! What if I disappoint them? What if we fail this trick, Al? What if I can’t do it?”

“Hey, hey, hey, let’s not carried away, okay? We still have two days to perfect this trick, I know you can do it,” he spoke sincerely. Scorpius wasn’t buying it.

“No, Albus, we only have the rest of the day and tomorrow we have dress rehearsals all day, and then we go on stage the day after! We have today to perfect this trick.”

“And we’ll do it.” He stood up and held his hand out to Scorpius. He took it gratefully and allowed himself to be pulled up. There was so much determination in his words that for a moment, Scorpius believed him.

Albus led him back into the gym where the Trapeze equipment was standing dauntingly staring at them. Scorpius took a deep breath as Albus called for his mum so she could coach them. Ginny came back into the gym with Albus’ little sister Lily. Lily was also a Gymnast, but the safer kind. As was Albus’ older brother James who had recently retired after getting gold at Worlds. James had suffered a pretty bad knee injury that took him out of Gymnastics and was now a world-famous author after writing of his experiences and the difficulty of dealing with injuries. Scorpius thought he was rather brave for how he handled everything with strength.

Lily hugged Scorpius hello and clung onto his side, Scorpius held her back. He loved Lily like she was his own little sister. He’d never had any siblings and James and Lily had sort of taken him under their wing once his and Albus’ friendship got deeper and deeper. They welcomed him into the family with loving arms, and Scorpius really felt like one of the Potters’ sometimes.

“Okay, we’re going to try again. Scorpius, I need you to get as much power into that first swing as possible, the more power, the easier the backwards somersault will be, got it?”

“Got it, coach,” he affirmed.

“Good. Al, if you think Scorpius won’t make the perfect angle, try and take off a little later, maybe adjusting your angle will help him.”

“Okay, mum.”

“Good, now get up there. Don’t forget to chalk!” She shouted as Scorpius detangled himself from Lily and attached himself to the harness. Albus did the same on the other side before they climbed the ladders to their starting point. Once up there, Scorpius put on his Grips and chalked his hands. Albus gave him the affirmative nod and Scorpius took a deep breath as he gripped onto the Fly Bar.

With as much force as possible, he swung off the base and into the air, trying to gain as much power as possible. He performed the trick exactly as he had before and entered into his backwards somersault, going to grab Albus’ hands and –

Slipped.

Again.

And again. And again. And again. And again.

No matter how many times they tried, Scorpius kept slipping through his grip, or missing him entirely. Their timing was off, their positioning was off. Everything was wrong and nothing was right. It didn’t matter how much chalk they used or how much power Scorpius put into that first swing, it was all wrong.

On the thirteenth failure, Scorpius stood from the mat and angrily stripped himself of the harness before throwing his Grips onto the mat, watching as a puff of white chalk dusted the air. Without another word, he stormed off the mats, grabbed his bottle of water and stalked off to the trampolines.

He was going to have to go back to square one: practicing a backwards somersault on a trampoline to get the height. Albus and Ginny left him alone, knowing exactly how he gets when he gets frustrated at himself and knowing he needs time alone to work it out in his head. Scorpius was gone for the better part of an hour, practicing over and over and over until he was interrupted. But not by the person he expected to be interrupted by.

“Hey,” James greeted as he walked over to him, a crutch assisting his walk. His injury was nearly a year ago now, but sometimes it flared up and he needed the extra help.

Scorpius stopped bouncing and sat on the edge of the trampoline with furrowed brows. “I didn’t think you were arriving until this evening?” Scorpius questioned. The Potters were all going to be there at his and Albus’ first show. Ginny and Lily had travelled to Edinburgh with them last week, but Harry and James couldn’t make it until today.

James reached him, passing his water bottle to him before pulling himself up on the trampoline as well. “Dad got off work early so we travelled up as soon as.” James eyed the trampoline. “Practice not going well?”

Scorpius chuckled self-deprecatingly. “You could say that.”

“You know why that is?”

Scorpius looked at James and shook his head.

“It’s because you don’t have enough belief in yourself. You can do the trick, I know you can because you’re you and I’ve seen you do anything you put your mind to.”

“You think so?”

James nodded. “I know so. Scorpius, you’re a brilliant athlete. When you and Al said you were dropping out of Gymnastics and moving to Trapeze, I thought you were crazy. You were giving up Worlds and giving up the Olympics-”

“You think I could have gone to the Olympics?” Scorpius asked, disbelief in his tone. He’d never thought himself good enough for a competition like that. In fact, it was competing that made Scorpius drop Gymnastics. It triggered his anxiety, he would have a panic attack before every event and eventually it started to take its toll on his performance. He made it through with the help of his team, but he knew it was time to give that side of Gymnastics up. Performing was different. With competing, there was the added pressure, but performing felt invigorating. Hearing the audience’s soft gasps, and the cheers at the end, it gave him a purpose – there was more to live for than a gold medal.

“Definitely. You’re incredible, better than me that’s for sure. That’s how I know you can do this trick. The thing I always admired about you was your ability to get up, dust yourself off and try again no matter how hard it was. That’s what you need to do now.”

For the first time of the day, Scorpius let out a genuine smile at James. “Thanks, Jamie. I needed that.”

“I know. Now get back out there and show me this amazing trick of yours.”

Scorpius hopped off the trampoline and helped James lower himself down as to not anger his injury. They walked back into the Trapeze clearing where Scorpius gave Albus a quick hug – a small apology for disappearing – before they saddled up to attempt the trick again.

The Hocks Salto was a fairly difficult trick for Trapeze Artists to master and if Scorpius and Albus could do this, it would mean their routine for the show would be perfected and arguably one of the most dangerous tricks performed on a stage. The hardest part of Trapeze was having complete trust in your partner, but they have no issues with that.

Scorpius chalked his hands and gripped onto the Fly Bar, waiting for Albus’ signal. When he received it, he pushed off the platform and swung his legs, forcing power into his swing. He performed the beginning of the trick perfectly as he has been doing all day, and when it came to the backwards somersault, he didn’t feel as nervous. Instead, he performed the flip, reaching his hands out to Albus who caught him perfectly.

There were cheers from Lily, Ginny and James down below. James was shouting, “I knew you could do it!”

Albus let Scorpius go so he landed on the floor, before flipping off the Catch Bar and down in front of him. He smiled widely and leaned in to give him a big congratulatory kiss which Scorpius couldn’t help but smile against.

“Again?” Scorpius asked. Albus nodded and they both climbed back up to their starting positions.

They performed the trick a few times over, Albus catching him on every one. It was starting to get late when they Ginny, Lily and James decided to call it a day, telling them they’d meet them back at the hotel. Albus and Scorpius had a quick break before deciding to perform their full routine with the Hocks Salto now included and perfected.

They ran through it a couple of times until it began to get dark out – the winters were really the worst time of the year. Upon finishing their routine for the third time, Scorpius jumped down and stepped out of his harness.

“One more time?”

Albus furrowed his brows, panting slightly. “Without harnesses? We have no spotters.”

“Really?” Scorpius raised his eyebrows. “We never have spotters when we’re on stage. Come on, I trust you. We have to do this tomorrow anyway in dress rehearsal, let’s just try it once.”

Albus shook his head fondly and smiled, stepping out of his own harness. “Fine, you convinced me.”

The final run through their routine went better than Scorpius could have hoped for and he and Albus shared a joyful kiss upon completing it together. After that, they cleared up the equipment and retrieved their belongings from the locker room.  Making sure they wrapped up warm against the bitter chill of late October evening, they walked hand -in-hand back to their hotel, talking about anything other than Trapeze for once.

They stopped by Ginny and Harry’s room to let them know they’re back before going to their own room. Scorpius collapsed on the bed and buried his face in the pillow. Albus straddled his back and began massaging his shoulders, but stopped when Scorpius flinched.

“Don’t tell me you have an injury,” Albus said, his tone serious.

Scorpius shook his head. “Just a little sore. I pushed myself a little too far.”

Scorpius couldn’t see Albus, but he knew the wicked smile that appeared on his face. “You know what that means?”

“What?”

“Ice bath!”

“No!”

“Oh, yes, my love.”

“Albus, please.”

“You need it! We can’t have your muscles being sore or stiff, we perform in two days.” Albus climbed off him. “I’ll get my dad to take me to the shop to get some bags of ice.”

Before Scorpius could protest, he was already out the door. He groaned loudly and wished he never said anything, despite knowing he was in need of one. Albus was right, he couldn’t be sore for their big first show.

In the time he was gone, Scorpius showered quickly and put on loose shorts and a t-shirt for the ice bath. He then finally replied to his mum, trying to put as much enthusiasm into the response as possible despite how incredibly nervous he was that his parents would be watching.

Albus returned and filled the bath with the ice and a little bit of water before practically having to force Scorpius in it. This was the worst part of his chosen career. He had them less and less these days, but on days like today when he pushed himself too far, they were needed. Albus stayed with him to distract him from the cold, playing songs from their favourite musical and singing obnoxiously loudly. When five minutes had passed, Scorpius all but jumped out and was met with a warm towel and Albus’ warm arms.

Scorpius changed quickly into jogging bottoms, fluffy cotton socks and a jumper of Albus’ and hopped into bed, desperate for something to rid his body of the chill. Albus joined him after his own shower and wrapped his arms around him. They fell asleep together in perfect harmony, and that night Scorpius dreamt of a cheering audience and his parents crying happy proud tears.

 

#

 

The next day passed in a blur of flashing lights and colourful outfits. The dress rehearsal ran smoothly through twice before they were dismissed from the theatre and before Scorpius knew it, he was backstage the day after and waiting for the show to start.

The audience were filing into the room and Scorpius was watching them from the wings. When he saw his parents settled in the boxed seating- they only pay for the best – he felt a burst of love inside his heart. He’d missed them so much. They were smiling and laughing, joy lit up in his mother’s eyes as she smiled at her husband.

He had to see them before the show, so Scorpius pulled on a hoody and snuck out to the seats. He managed to avoid most people luckily, the ringmaster would kill him if he was spotted – Scorpius’ white-blond hair and famous name meant he was easily recognisable. He entered the box but kept off to the side to avoid the rest of the audience seeing him.

“Hey,” he spoke. He startled his parents slightly, but upon seeing him, massive grins appeared on their faces. It was a look Scorpius could never forget. A look that would get him through this performance.

“Scorpius, my baby boy,” his mother cooed, standing quickly and wrapping him up into a big hug. He melted into her, thankful of his mothers’ love. It had been far too long. His dad hugged him next, crushing him in his large arms. He was also tiny in physique compared to his dad.

“So, are you excited?” Scorpius asked, unsure on what else to say. He wanted to tell them so much, but there was so little time.

Draco nodded. “We can’t wait, we know how hard you’ve been training for this,” he smiled.

Scorpius beamed. “I’m really glad you could make it, even if it makes this even more nerve-racking. Can we get dinner after the show?”

“Of course we can, darling,” Astoria spoke, giving him a kiss on the cheek.

“Great, I have to go, but I hope you enjoy it!” He said, giving them each one last hug before sprinting off. He just about caught the words of his mother shouting that they’re both proud of him. It gave him the final piece of courage he needed to get through this.

He and Albus were the first act of the second half of the show. They spent their time preparing in their dressing room, doing warm ups that included trust exercises. At their five minute warning – dressed in green and silver costumes – they made their way up to the stage. The ringmaster was already on and getting ready to introduce them. They shared a quick kiss before they were announced onto stage and they walked out hand-in-hand to greet their audience.

The cheers deafened Scorpius’ ears and claps and whistles faded into one giant mess of noise. It made him feel like coming home, warming his heart. That sound was one of the reasons he did this in the first place.

Albus squeezed his hand before they took off in opposite directions.

The performance was going well, every trick performed perfectly and the reaction from the audience was everything Scorpius lived for. The audience were enthralled, completely on edge, just as Scorpius and Albus hoped they would be. It was coming up to the Hocks Salto trick that made Scorpius’ palms go clammy and sweaty. He chalked his hands again before taking a deep breath.

Swing, pike, hook legs, swing back, backwards somersault, Albus.

He repeated that over in his head. He could do it. He knew how to do it and more importantly, he’d done it successfully multiple times. He stepped off the platform, driving power into his swing. On the way back, he lifted his legs up, piking them out before bringing them in and hooking them over the bar. As the Fly Bar swung back, he let go of it, his legs holding his weight, before free-flying in the air, doing a backwards somersault and reaching out to Albus and –

He caught him.

The swinging continued, Albus’ hands firmed in his and he swung him back to the Fly Bar, allowing the rest of the routine to continue. On the final trick, he and Albus decided to scare the audience a little, making it look like Albus didn’t catch Scorpius on purpose meaning he falls to the floor, but at the last minute, Scorpius flips in the air and landed perfectly safely on his feet. Albus then somersaults down from his own bar and lands next to Scorpius.

Taking his hand, they both step off the safety mats and bow to the cheering audience. Scorpius lets Albus step forward to have his moment, before Albus steps back and let’s Scorpius have his. The cheers were incredibly loud and heart-warming. Scorpius caught sight of Lily, James, Harry and Ginny standing up in the middle of the stalls, cheering their hearts out. Then, he dared look up to his parents and saw them standing too. The light reflected slightly of his mothers eyes, showing tears of joy. His father nodded at him proudly.

He stepped back, taking Albus’ hand and walking off stage to the sound of the ringleader closing their act. Once out of the way of the audience, Scorpius jumped on Albus’ back and leaned around to kiss his cheek.

“We did it!” He cheered as Albus carried him back to their dressing room.

“I never doubted us, Scor. Not once,” Albus said, stopping and angling his face to catch him in a kiss. He expertly twisted around so Scorpius was on his front rather than his back and smiled up at him. Scorpius closed the gap between them, lips together in an enticing and enchanting kiss. All of that is possible because of the man right in front of him, the man who has his entire trust and his entire heart. He wouldn’t be where he was without Albus and he tried to show that through this one simple kiss.