James. Of all the people, in all the world, it had to be James who sat outside in the middle of autumn in shorts and short sleeves, showing off all of his muscles, and strumming a guitar. It had to be James that Scorpius was obsessed with, not Al, never Al.

Scorpius and Albus weren't close. They never had a chance to get close. Albus was a born and bred Gryffindor and Scorpius was as Slytherin as a snake. They didn't spend time together because their paths never crossed. The only classes they shared were Herbology and Potions, and while Albus tried to partner up with him in those classes whenever possible, their relationship had never made it past casual acquaintances.

Until now. Ever since James began playing guitar for all of the school to listen, Scorpius had taken to following James around. Albus liked to hang around his brother, and he understood the ability James had to draw people to him, but he wished that ability didn't work on Scorpius.

Every evening Albus followed his brother out to the lake. He wished he could play guitar too, but all of his musical ability was in his voice. Al's clumsy fingers had never been able to tempt the notes out of an instrument or paint exquisite pictures like his sister did. So he tagged along after his brother and used his meagre musical talent for singing to accompany him. Albus would sing along to his brother's guitar until people began to crowd around, and then he would slip off and let his brother bathe in his admirer's attention.

Today was different though. This was the fifth evening in a row that Scorpius had sat down with James's fans to listen to him play. Albus sat next to his brother and tried to imagine that Scorpius's eyes were looking at him, gazing into his soul, and seeing exactly how much Albus loved him. Albus closed his eyes for a moment to drift in that dream, and when he opened them he felt crushed. Scorpius's attention was entirely focused on James.

What was the use in dreaming? Albus's wishes would never become reality. James was so much better than Albus. Albus was short, skinny, and pale, and James was tall, muscular, and tanned. He also had amazing skills on the guitar, and Albus's singing was only passable. It was the only talent he had to his name though, so he tried to be proud of it.

Albus glanced out at the crowd. It was starting to get larger. One more song and then he would sneak away. He leaned over to James and whispered in his ear. James nodded and began strumming the introductory chords to Al's favourite song. Albus took a deep breath, glanced at Scorpius, and then turned his gaze towards the lake. He'd never be able to keep a straight face if he was watching Scorpius while he sang.

"I am here standing beside you. I must simply fade into the background. I can't deny my feelings for you. Always nearby, you never notice me."

It was a stupid song Albus had written himself one night when he was feeling overly angsty. He had been paired with Scorpius in Potions that day, and they had only spoken enough to complete the potion. Scorpius hadn't even said hello when Albus moved to sit next to him. Instead, he had walked off to gather ingredients. Albus had sat down that night and tried to turn his feelings into a song. He'd gotten a load of crap instead, but he still had a soft spot for those stupid lyrics.

"I'm translucent, a pane of glass. I'm a ghost, just drifting past. You look right through me."

James had teased him when Albus had asked if James would set the words to music. He jabbed Albus in the side and asked what bird he was mooning over. Albus grimaced and shook his head, protesting that he had just written the song for fun. James had grinned knowingly, but had eventually added music to Al's song.

"I'm not a window; I'm a wall. I'm not a soul; I'm flesh and bone. Look at me and see I'm not transparent!"

Albus could hear his voice trembling slightly, the pain and desperation he felt when he thought about Scorpius leaking out with every word. He couldn't calm down though. Scorpius was still sitting there, gazing adoringly at James, and Albus's heart hurt more with every passing second. Why wasn't he good enough for Scorpius?

"Will you ever notice me? My heart jumps up when you are near. When you're beside me the future is so clear."

Albus could imagine a perfect future with Scorpius, a dog, and a picket fence, but he knew that would never happen. He couldn't help but dream about it though.

"I'm laughing out loud, but I'm crying inside. I'm crying inside, crying inside."

Albus smiled at the crowd, stood, and left as quickly as he could without running. Now he was crying outside too.

"Albus, wait up!"

That was Scorpius's voice. Merlin, Albus couldn't let Scorpius see him like this. Albus sprinted towards the castle, hoping he could escape.

"Albus Potter! Stop!"

Albus looked back and saw Scorpius was running to keep up. While he was looking back, he kept going forward, and he didn't see the tree root sticking out of the ground. A moment later he tripped and sprawled across the lawn, gasping for breath.

"Albus, are you okay?"

Scorpius caught up to him quickly then and bent down next to him. Albus buried his face in the dirt, unwilling to look like a crybaby in front of Scorpius.


Albus pushed himself up off the ground and wiped away the dirt. He could feel it getting caught in the tear tracks on his face, leaving muddy streaks behind. He glanced at Scorpius and then looked away.

"I'm fine. What's up?" he asked quietly.

Scorpius reached out suddenly and ran his and down Albus's cheek. Albus started away from him.

"Um, sorry. I just... wanted to get the dirt off your cheek." Scorpius brushed his now dirty hand off on his robe, and then looked at Albus. "That song, who sings it?"

Albus blushed. "It's bad, I know. I just really like it."

Scorpius laughed. "No, it's not bad. It's really good. I just wanted to know what band plays it."

Albus blushed harder. Did he really like the song? "James is the only person who plays it."

"Did he write it then? That's amazing!"

James, James, James! Why did he immediately think James wrote it? Was Albus so stupid that he couldn't come up with a single song? Albus frowned and turned to leave. "James put it to music, but I wrote the words." There, maybe that would fracture his love of James.

"That makes much more sense," Scorpius said.

Albus stopped walking. "What... what do you mean?"

"James is a great guy, but I've never seen him as someone who was in touch with his emotions enough to write a song like that."

Albus tensed. Damn. He'd seen Al's tears after all. He must think Albus was an emotional freak next to James. "Whatever," he said as he started to walk again.

Scorpius followed him. "Wait, wait, I didn't mean to insult James." That was obvious. Scorpius was so in love with him that James could probably fart in front of a room full of people and Scorpius would consider it beautiful. "It's just when you were singing, I could really feel your emotions coming through the song."

Albus stopped and glared at him. "All right, I get it. I'm an emotional crybaby who writes crappy songs. Would you just shut up about it?"

Scorpius looked flabbergasted. "What? No! I loved the song. I was hoping to find out who played it so I could find out more about that group."

"Well, you found out more. So drop it."

Scorpius reach out to touch his shoulder, but Albus backed away. Scorpius sighed and dropped his hand. "Have you written any more songs?"

Albus shook his head. "It was a one time thing," he said.

"Why did you write it?"

Albus blanched. "It was... I was feeling angsty because the person I liked didn't know I existed. That's all."

Scorpius continued questioning Al. "Surely if you sang that song for her, she would know that you liked her."

Albus laughed morosely. "He has heard the song, and he still doesn't have any idea how I feel." The questions were hitting too close to home, and Albus was revealing too much of himself. He tried to escape from the conversation. "Listen, I need to go do homework. I'll talk to you later."

"He? You're gay?"

"Yeah, so what?" Albus shrugged and then squared his shoulders. "There's nothing wrong with that."

"No, there isn't. I'm gay too."

Well that was obvious from the huge crush Scorpius had on James. Albus just shrugged again.

"That guy you wrote the song for, is he straight?"

Albus closed his eyes and shook his head. When he opened his eyes, he stopped himself from looking at Scorpius.

"If you told him your feelings, I'm sure he'd fall for you. You... you're a great guy, Albus."

If Albus was such a great guy, then why didn't Scorpius like him. Maybe because Albus was a great guy, but James was a "perfect" guy.

"Is he a Gryffindor then?" Albus shook his head. "No? What about Ravenclaw?" Albus shook his head again. "Well, it must be a 'puff then, and I'm sure a 'puff would love it if you asked him out since they have no courage and all and wouldn't make the first move if their life depended on it." Albus shook his head again. "Is it a... Slytherin then?"

Albus made the mistake of looking at Scorpius then. He face was open and interested. This was the most attention Albus had gotten from him in five years of schooling. The words burst out of him before he could stop them.

"It's you, all right? It's you I've had a crush on since second year. It's you I wrote that song for. It's you who doesn't even know I'm alive!"

Albus turned and ran then, as fast as he could, and he didn't look back this time. Scorpius didn't call after him either. Obviously, Albus's infatuation disgusted him.

Albus bolted into the castle and ran until he reached Gryffindor Tower and the privacy of his bed. He was never leaving the tower again.

Albus hated James. He hated his brother for being so charismatic he could charm a chicken into a boiling pot of water if he wanted to. He hated that his brother had turned that charisma on him and forced him to come back out to the lake.

Scorpius was already waiting at the spot where James normally played.

"I'm leaving!" Albus told James as soon as he saw Scorpius. No brother was worth the humiliation of being scorned again.

Scorpius caught sight of them. "Albus, wait!" Albus turned to leave, but James caught his arm.

"Gryffindors don't run away from their problems, runt."

Albus glared at his brother. "Shut up!" He tried to pull his arm free, but James's grip was too tight. "Let me go!"

"Albus, I just... I want to talk to you."

James let go of Albus and began moving away. "I'll leave you two alone."

Albus waited until his brother was out of eyesight, and then he turned to leave.

"Please, can we talk?"

"About what?" Albus asked irritably. "I've already made a fool of myself. There's no need for me to continue doing so."

"I like you too," Scorpius blurted out.

Albus was shocked. "No, you don't! You like James. Don't mess with me like this."

"James?" Scorpius seemed amused. "Why would I like James? He's kind of a bastard."

This wasn't real. It was all a dream. There was no way Scorpius was telling the truth. "You always came to listen to him play the guitar though."

Scorpius grinned. "Nope, I wasn't paying any attention to his guitar. I was listening to you sing."

"No way. You're lying. My singing was just me being stupid. You had to have come to listen to James like all of his other groupies."

"James has groupies?" Scorpius appeared to be confused.

"All those people who come to listen to him play every night..." Al's voice drifted off as he remembered the large crowds that came to listen to his brother play.

"They weren't there for James though. They came to listen to you sing." Albus started to protest, but Scorpius cut him off. "I never thought I had a chance with you, you know? You are this amazingly talented singer, and all of those people come to listen to you sing. Any one of those people would gladly date you."

Scorpius was insane. Or maybe Albus was dreaming. "No, they came to listen to James."

"Did you know that most of them leave when you do? Only a few of them stick around just to listen to James."

Albus pinched himself. It hurt. This was real? "You're telling the truth?"

Scorpius rolled his eyes. "Yes, I'm telling the truth."

Albus looked at him hard, searching for any signs of deception. "About everything?"


"Then maybe we have... something?"

Scorpius nodded. "I think maybe we have something."

Albus shook his head to clear his thoughts. "Are we dating?" This was all too confusing.

"If you want to date..."

"I do!" Albus flushed at his quick reply. "Um, I mean, that sounds good."

"One thing though."

Oh, well, Albus knew it had to be a dream. Now Scorpius was going to tell Albus he was naked or something and ruin everything.

"I don't ever want you to sing that song you wrote for anyone else."

Albus looked down. He was still wearing his clothes, everything around him looked normal, and it still hurt when he pinched himself. "Why?" he asked.

Scorpius reached out and squeezed his hand. "You sound amazing when you sing it, and I don't want to take a chance of anyone else hearing it and deciding to steal you away from me."

Albus blushed madly. "All right. I'll only sing it for you then."

"Come on, Al! Let's start playing!" James called from across the way.

"Let's go calm him down. I want to listen to you sing anyway."

Albus nodded and they walked towards where James and a group of people were starting to gather. Scorpius held hands with him the whole way, and sat next to him when they reached everyone else.

James leaned over and poked his arm. "Aren't you glad I dragged you out here today?"

Albus laughed and shoved him away. Merlin, he loved his brother.

But not anywhere near as much as he loved Scorpius.