"You simply must do it."
James lowered his book and looked at Scorpius from his spot on the couch. There was an amused smile on his face. "I mustn't do anything, and who even speaks like that? You want me to help you and instead of asking me for a favour, you're whining and telling me what I should do."
Scorpius sat next to James. "Come on, you know you want to."
"Do I want to go to a party at Malfoy Manor pretending to be your boyfriend so your grandmother doesn't set you up with some rich girl? So I can get the third degree about our imaginary relationship? Mmmm, I'm not sure that I really want to," James said, chuckling. "You should ask Albus."
Scorpius rolled his eyes. "Everyone knows he's straight and he's my best friend."
"Everyone knows that you hate me," James answered.
Scorpius put a hand on James' thigh and looked at him seriously. "I just have to tell you this. I hate you, but you're fucking sexy."
James bit his lip, but it was a lost cause and soon he was laughing. "Did Albus tell you to use that line?"
"That obvious?" Scorpius said with a sheepish smile. "I mean it's not completely wrong. I totally hate you for not helping me and you are sexy."
"He's straight. I'd avoid listening to him," James answered, chuckling. "And while you might hate him and I definitely am sexy, you never curse, so it doesn't feel real." He leaned back against the couch and stared for a moment. "You know, instead of springing on them some pretend boyfriend, you could just admit to them that you're gay."
"I did," Scorpius murmured. "There were some tense weeks and then grandmother decided that she'd find the perfect husband, so now she's setting me up with the proper men instead of the proper women. I just- I don't want the proper man they like. I want the man I like. I just need some time to figure things out, James."
James sighed. "This is fucked up. I don't know how you plan to find the right man when you pretend to date me. It'll be in the papers in no time, but we can do it for your father's birthday. We can say it's new and then we can go our separate ways and you can find your man."
Scorpius nodded. "Thank you."
The party had barely started and the guests moved through the walkway like some sort of procession from the gates to the house. James had been amongst the first, hoping that since there were too many to greet, he wouldn't be cornered by the Malfoys until later.
"Thank you for doing this," Scorpius said with a big smile on his face.
"I said I would." He put an arm around Scorpius' waist and pulled him closer for a chaste kiss. "Will you be able to pull this off? You're a lousy liar for a Slytherin."
Scorpius chuckled but nodded. "You're a consumed liar for a Gryffindor, as proven by the fact that we'd get detention even when you started it."
"I know. I'm an amazing liar," James answered with a grin. "And right now it helps you, so let's start mingling. I hope you're ready for tomorrow's headlines."
"Famous Quidditch Player and Son of the Chosen One, James Potter Finds His Match."
"That's not bad. Pretty similar to many headlines," James said. "Have you been reading about me?" he teased.
"Is there a way to avoid reading about you?" Scorpius asked. "You sneeze and it's in the papers."
"That's because Dad and Albus never talk to reporters and leave pictures." He shrugged. "Fans are part of Quidditch and I don't care what they write. It's not like they ever get it right." He took Scorpius' hand. "Come on. We can talk while we walk. It should make your grandmother happy."
The party was everything James had come to expect from all the stories he'd read in the papers and heard from his brother. There were the rich and famous, owners of Quidditch teams, owners of newspapers and magazines. The Ministry wasn't as well represented, but then half of the Ministry was run by Weasleys so that wasn't a surprise. The food was good, the drinks were better and the music was passable. James knew all about being at social event and didn't mind in the least.
"You're bored," Scorpius said two hours into the party.
James shrugged. "Nah, it's fine. It's like a League party. Smile a lot, say meaningless things, pretend to eat and drink because too much of what's being served will screw up with your diet."
"Exactly, you've been pretending all night and not about us. Your smile looks different," he answered.
"Have you been studying how I smile?" James asked with a chuckle.
Scorpius stayed silent as they walked out of the Drawing Room and up the stairs where the family rooms were. The corridors were a little less ornate and there were no portraits.
"It feels like a different house," James remarked.
"Downstairs we have all the public rooms, but we barely use them. We have the family dining room and living room here," Scorpius explained. "It's where the comfortable furniture is."
"Ah, so that's your secret. You keep all the stuffy things downstairs so people will leave sooner."
Scorpius laughed. "And yet, this party will go on for a few more hours."
"You know people will talk if they realize that we disappeared," James said.
Scorpius nodded. "I know. Do you mind?"
James shrugged. "Not really. I'm used to reading about all the people I fucked from the papers, especially when it didn't happen. I would think that you'd mind more than me. You're the private one. You're twenty-four and you haven't been in the papers once, not even a hint of romance. You want to find the perfect man."
"I know how to keep things secret. I couldn't afford for my family to find out. Now- I don't really care what they say and there would be a lot worse people to be involved with."
"My, my, Malfoy, watching me, telling me I'm sexy, knowing how I smile, admitting that I'm a catch. It sounds like you like me," James teased as he squeezed Scorpius' hand
"What if I do," he said defiantly.
James stopped in the middle of the corridor and faced Scorpius. "What game are you playing?"
Scorpius shook his head. "No game, but-."
"But you're playing a game."
Scorpius rolled his eyes. "I'm not. Just because there's no game, it doesn't mean that I don't have eyes. I've known you since I was eleven. I'd have to be blind not to notice things."
"Where's your room?"
"I'm sorry, what?" Scorpius said with a frown. "How did we go from you to my room?"
"Where's your room? It's a simple enough sentence and I want to see your room. We can stand here and talk or we can see your room. Again, I want to see your room," James said.
"Life doesn't revolve around what you want," Scorpius answered, but he started walking to his room. "Here this is it."
"Cute. Coming from a Malfoy." James stepped inside the room, but didn't go far from the door. He grabbed Scorpius' wrists and pinned them against the wall, before pressing his body against Scorpius. They stared at each other for a moment, before James crushed their lips together. Their tongues danced together before he broke it off, pulling his head back.
"What are you doing?" Scorpius asked breathless.
"Isn't this what you've been hinting since you asked me about this? Playing your little games?" James asked, coldly.
Scorpius shook his head. "Why must you always be so stubborn? I told you, I'm not playing games."
"Except you are. You forget that I know you, too. The little hints, asking me when you could have asked a friend to pretend without any of the repercussions. It is a game, I just don't know what you want from me," he pushed.
"I- I like you, all right? There's nothing nefarious going on. I like you, I find you funny and smart, even when you pretend to be just a stupid Gryffindor. Everytime I see you, unless you're playing Quidditch, you have a book in your hand. No matter what topics is brought up, you have an intelligent opinion on it. Even when I disagree with you, I know that you have given it thought and you aren't mimicking someone's words," Scorpius said, before shrugging. "I guess I wanted to see what it'd be like to date you."
"You could have told me," James said.
"I did," Scorpius said with a tiny smile.
"That's not what you asked," James answered.
Scorpius smirked. "Yes, but I'm a Slytherin. I got to see what it's like before deciding if I should ask you out."
"Will you go out with me?" Scorpius asked with a real smile.
James huffed. "This is insane and it will end so badly, but I'm a Gryffindor, can't back down from a challenge." He kissed Scorpius again. "You should have asked the first time."
"Is that so?" Scorpius asked, challenging.
"I would have said yes." James laughed when Scorpius jumped him, looking very much the opposite of the proper Slytherin, but as clothes came off, he stopped laughing. This was the best birthday party ever.