Note: This chapter is borderline NC-17, but after much internal debate, I've decided it still qualifies as R. I'm assuming that if you've read this far, you're okay with that, but if semi-explicit boysex bothers you, consider yourself warned =).


Dad looks like he wants to yell, but stops when he sees my face. His eyes widen. Jaw falls open, and he brings a hand to his forehead. Sighs.

"God, what a night," he says.

"Dad, what's going on?" Al asks. "Did you and Mr Malfoy make up? Why've you still got your work clothes on? Haven't you been to bed? Do you know what time it--"

"Scorpius," Dad tells me, "I understand if you're having a hard time with this. But would you like to explain to me why you tried to burn down Professor Snape's house?"

Mrs Weasley's throat makes a sound like a teakettle boiling over. "Harry, the boy is in shock! He needs some rest and a good meal, not-- not accusations of--"

"Snape showed up at the office covered in soot and screaming at the top of his lungs that half of his library had been reduced to ashes. It was all Percy could do to stop him coming here himself," he tells her. Turns to me. "Did you do this, Scorpius?"

I nod.

Al makes a noise. "I'm sure he didn't mean it, Dad," he says. "It was an accident. These things happen. He was upset. Right, Score? Tell him you didn't mean it."

"I didn't mean it," I say. "What I meant to do was burn down the entire house. And then crush The Professor's skull, spoon out his brains, and spit on them."

"Um," Al says.

Mrs Weasley's mouth hangs open like she's trying to catch things with it.

"Can I call you Grandma now?" I ask.

"Why don't you boys go upstairs," Dad says. "Wash off Scorpius's face, Al, and I'll be up in a few minutes. I need to talk with your Grandmother about a couple of things I probably should've mentioned a long time ago, and I think she'll want to be sitting down when she hears. Don't go too far though, I don't want to have to arrest anyone, alright?"

In his Uncle Ron's old room, faded Canons soaring across the walls, Al wipes a warm flannel over my cheeks. "You're all sooty. I thought it was from the Floo. Did you really set Professor Snape's house on fire? That's pretty ballsy."

I don't really feel like talking about it. It hurts. Those books were innocent. "He shouldn't touch Percy like that," I tell him.

He sighs. Brings the flannel to my chin. "So you know about the two of them now? I mean, I guess you do, because I can talk about it without my throat closing up."

I stare at him.

He pulls a face as though eating something sour. "Did he have his tongue down Uncle Percy's throat again? I caught them snogging once in the office when they thought no one else was there. Noses all smooshed up and Uncle Percy's glasses crooked, not very sexy. I'm sorry, Score, I know how you like him, and I wanted to tell you, but--"

"Did you bring him mouthwash?" I ask. Chest filled with strange emotion: panic?

Al sighs and wipes off my lipstick. "Calm down, okay? They've been on-again-off-again since before our dads, I'm sure he was used to the germs by then. Professor Snape's the reason he broke it off with his fiancée, Uncle Percy told me. Though why he didn't string her along a bit longer I couldn't say, considering he had Professor Snape put a curse on their relationship so you can only talk about it with someone who already knows."

"Why would Percy throw himself away like that?" I ask. The flannel tastes funny against my tongue.

"Yeah, he could've got double the action, you know? And maybe even a threesome, if he'd played his cards right. Not very clever, if you ask me. I think Professor Snape's like, in love with him but can't admit it. 'Cause he's still stuck on Dad's mum, you know?" he continues. "It's hard to be better than dead people, they can't make mistakes. And they're amazing in bed."

"I hate dead people," I say. Though I hate The Professor more.

And it's true: I've discovered Hate.

"Scorpius." Dad's coming into the room. He locks the door behind him.

"It's not his fault!" Al insists.

"I'm not assigning any blame," he says. "Once upon a time, I would've been first in line to burn that man's house down, believe me. I've sent a couple of Aurors out to try to smooth things over, or at least keep Snape from casting any curses that are actually lethal."

"He makes linked curses," I tell him, "that's why no one can counteract them. And he blackmails Percy. And has horrific fashion sense. You should arrest him. And buy him teeth whitener."

"That's from all the tea," Al says. "After a while, it turns them yellow."

"Blue undertone lip colour would counteract that," I tell him. It's a very unsettling topic, and now that I'm capable of being unsettled, I really can't say more.

Dad sighs. "You sound like you're back to normal," he says. "Though normal probably isn't the word. Are you at least through with arson for the night? So that I can get an hour or two of sleep before I have to deal with this? Or do I need to call a squad in? Because if I'm still this exhausted and your father comes back without a signature, I'll be spending Christmas in Azkaban."

"He'll get her to sign the papers," I assure him. "Or emigrate to Bermuda. Do you think Arson is a pretty name?"

"Dad!" Al exclaims, leaps and throws his arms around him. "This is so perfect! Just imagine, Mr Malfoy can move in! We can eat breakfast together, and go to swanky hotels on holiday! And he can shag you stupid every night!"

"Al," he scolds, and peels him off.

Al grins. "Or do you shag him stupid? Is there a protocol for these things? My education is lacking. And do you think Professor Snape would take me as his apprentice now that Score set fire to his house? I bet he could teach me all sorts of illicit things about sex, so you won't have to!"

"This day will end," Dad says. "It only seems like the nightmare will last forever…"

Al snorts. "Wow, go to bed, Dad. You're delirious."

He sets up a ward on the door so that neither of us can leave, and no one but he can get in. He's going to sleep in the room next door, so just bang on the wall if we want him. Asks one more time if I'm sure I'm alright.

"Of course he's alright, he's with me," Al tells him. Rolls his eyes like it's the most obvious thing in the world.

Maybe it is.

Al sorts through the drawers for pyjamas for me, but can't find anything besides that ghastly shade of orange. "Whoever invented this colour should be drawn and quartered. Think I should take a chance with the Trace and charm them black? Or do you want to switch with me?" he asks.

I shrug and put them on despite the colour. Crawl into bed with him. I'm so tired, the pillow shifts like we're at sea.

"Was that really true?" he asks. "You had a sister?"

"Let's not talk about her right now," I tell him. It's too late, and I'm tired, and the memory feels raw like a fresh scrape.

Al smiles and strokes my hair. "Alright, we don't have to. You sure you're okay now, though?" he asks.

"No," I tell him. Wrap my arms around his waist. His clothing smells like sleep, and I bury my nose in the fabric.

He sighs. Runs his fingers through my hair. "Is there anything I can do to help? You're not going to crush my skull and spit on my brains, are you?" Fingernails against my scalp send chills down my spine.

"No," I say. "I like your brains. Get behind my ears. With your nails."

"You're like a cat," he mumbles, but does it.

"No, lower. By my neck, scratch there," I murmur. Feels so good, and I burrow my face against the side of his neck. Moist heat and boy smell, and I pull him in closer. Slide a knee between his thighs. Press my lips just below his earlobe.

"Um," he says, "you remember how I was telling you about being ridiculously horny? And like, wanking so often I can barely hold a quill?"

"Mmm," I reply through the muzzy warmth that's soaking into my body.

"Yeah, well, just ignore that thing pressing against your hip," he says. "It's nothing. Maybe I should talk to Dad about it, see a healer or something, because that can't be normal or even, like, healthy, you know? I mean, Uncle George was telling me about breeding Pygmy Puffs yesterday, how the males make these little squeaking noises, and I just about creamed my--"

"Your throat vibrates when you talk," I whisper.

He sighs and rubs his thumb across my cheek. "Just ignore it. Okay? It doesn't mean anything. You're my best mate. And practically my brother. I'm pushing for bunk beds."

If he hadn't mentioned it, I wouldn't have noticed. My wits are dulled, I'm so tired. But I shift my hips and feel it there, against my stomach. I think of it in Claire's panties, or rather out of Claire's panties, tip wet and slippery. Think of Pygmy Puffs mating and him fisting at himself in the loo, head thrown back and lips parted.

My own starts to throb, and I press it in against his thigh. So warm here against him, everything warm-- my body, my mind, my heart.

"Um, Score?" he whispers.

I run my lips along the shell of his ear. Take the lobe between my teeth.

"Score," he hisses. "Stop that, or I'm going to--"

I like the sounds he makes. Little whimpers, and he rubs against me, wedges my leg further between his thighs. The sound catches in his throat when I snake my tongue into his ear.

"Score," he breathes. "Please--"

His hand twists into my hair, pulls my mouth away. Wet trail across his cheek with my tongue, and he brings my lips to his.

"I want this," he whispers against me. "Please… want you so bad, Score… please…"

I run my tongue across his bottom lip, and his hips jerk. He breathes in gasps, murmuring please, please. I swallow, my head swimming, and ask, "Then why are you still talking?"

Kissing Al isn't smooth and petal soft like kissing Rose. It's hard, loud and sharp, and makes me feel like I'm losing my mind. His tongue filling my mouth and teeth nipping my lips. His hands gripping my shoulders and pulling me onto him. Grinding his hips against me.

His mouth slips from mine and covers my chin, sloppy, and shuddering moans fill my ears.

They're mine, those moans.

Al whispers, "Oh god, oh god…" against my neck and fumbles at the waistband of my pyjamas.

Nothing tentative or questioning as his fingers wrap around me. Sure and strong, and I squeeze my eyes shut. It's never felt like this before, this rush of heat, this closeness, wanting nothing but Al inside and out.

But then, I realise as the waves wash over me, blissful tide of release in his palm: nothing has felt like much of anything for a very long time.

Al pants under me and runs sticky fingers through my hair. "Oh my god," he manages. "You're even better than I dreamed… and I dreamed a lot, Score, always you… only you…"

"Are you smearing semen in my hair?" I ask.

He laughs, breathless. "Yeah, I am! Isn't it perfect?"

"It is," I agree, and can't help but laugh with him, the sound light and innocent.

Happy. I'm happy.

When I can move again, I roll off him. He squirms in next to me and throws a leg over my hip. Strokes my arm when I wrap it around him. "I didn't think you liked me that way," he murmurs.

"I like you in all ways," I tell him. "You know that."

He snorts. Kisses my nose. "Well, I didn't realise all ways meant with my hand around your cock."

"Neither did I," I tell him, and kiss his nose. "But I should have. What about your cousin?"

He touches his lips to mine. "Rose? What about her? She had her chance, now you're my boyfriend. She can piss off."

"No, the Veela with sharp elbows. Victoire. Didn't you used to think of her?" I ask. I tap my tongue against his lips.

He sticks out his tongue and flicks it against mine. Makes circles with the tip. Laughs. "It's more like I imagined being her, you know? With these amazing tits and arse and… looking so bleeding gorgeous that blokes wanked over me. And maybe on me. Do you think that makes me a slut? Like Dad?"

"I love you, Al," I tell him. "But I'm too tired to think about Dad right now."

"You're calling him Dad?" he asks. Shifts against me. "Really?"

"Yes," I say, "but only after I've slept."

He sighs. "Love you too, Score," he says, and tucks his lips in under my jaw. Blows a raspberry against my neck.

I smile and close my eyes. "Love you," I murmur. Only enough time to think, And I finally know what that means, now before I drift off.

He wakes me up three times to do it again.

The sky is growing light as the sun creeps toward the horizon, and birds chirp outside the window. We've lost our pyjama tops at some point that exhaustion has made impossible to recall. Sweat sticks his hair to his forehead and his pyjama bottoms to the curves of his arse. I skim my fingers across it.

He rubs himself off against my hip.

"You weren't joking about being horny, were you?" I ask.

He grunts and shoves into me. "Sorry," he grits out from between clenched teeth.

"It's fine," I tell him. "I like to watch."

"You," he pants, breath against my shoulder, "you do?"

I nod. "I do. I think you're beautiful. So beautiful, Al… I love you so much…"

He gasps. Grabs hold of my hand on his arse and shoves my fingers between his cheeks. Deep, cloth taut under my fingertips. His mouth opens and eyes go wide, the deepest green I've ever seen. His body shudders, and they squeeze shut.

"Sorry!" he gasps. Collapses onto me. His bliss seeps through the fabric to my skin.

"I really don't mind," I tell him. Stroke his damp fringe off his forehead.

He shifts, and a bead of sweat drips off the end of his nose onto my wrist. I bring it to my lips.

He lays his head beside mine, forehead to clammy forehead. Whispers, "I want you so much."

I bring his arm around my chest and tell him, "Seems like you have me."

His eyes crinkle like laughter, and he closes them, exhausted. The morning birds chirp a lullaby, and I drift back to sleep in his arms.

It is a shame we don't think to cover up before Dad and Father come in with the good news.

"You know, they say history repeats itself, but this seems like a bit of a rush job," Father announces. He eyes us with what I think is curiosity.

Al mumbles, "Make the morning stop…" and burrows under my armpit.

Poor Dad very nearly has a aneurism.

Aren't my new family wonderful?


Al's birthday is on a Hogsmeade weekend, and James treats us all to drinks at The Hog's Head. He passes butterbeers to Rose and Cordelia and slides glasses in front of Al and me. Blows off the dust and pours for us.

Al puts an arm around my shoulder. Thumb rubbing against my neck. His eyes are done up in smoky metallics. He's almost too perfect to be real.

"Oi, fill it all the way, you tosser," he orders. "It's my effing birthday!"

James grins and tops off the firewhiskey. Slides in next to Cordelia and pushes her hair behind her ear. Whispers something that makes her blush.

I take Al's hand in mine and press my lips to his knuckles. He pulls me in for a kiss.

"Oh, none of that yet, we haven't even made the toast!" Rose scolds.

Al snorts and pecks me on the cheek.

James raises his bottle. "To my brother," he says, "who I hope will be a lot less annoying now that he's sixteen."

Cordelia claps.

Rose sighs and shakes her head.

"Yeah, keep dreaming, James," Al says with a grin. "I've only just begun to annoy."

"It's nice you two are getting along so well now," I say.

Things were at their worst between them after Christmas. James panicked when he saw Father had bought Dad roses. Said he wasn't about to spend his holiday with a family of freaks. Al nearly broke his nose. Declared that he was boycotting the Tournament, but ended up being recruited. I can still see his face as he stepped out of the pit, robes charred and scarf in green and silver tatters.

"What the fuck, James! I'm your most important person?" he shouts. "Me?"

James winces. Scratches the back of his neck. One of his eyebrows has been singed off. "Er… yeah?" he offers. "Who else is there?"

Al likes hating his brother, throwing insults like misaimed Quaffles. Beaning referees. But he likes being important much more.

I like alcohol I don't have to smuggle back in my pocket Transfigured into a bra.

Those clasps can be tricky.

"How about a proper toast?" Rose suggests.

Al laughs and bangs on the table. "Let's hear it, Rosie! Toast, toast, toast!"

Behind the bar, Aberforth looks annoyed.

Rose clears her throat. Raises her butterbeer.

"Good luck!" whispers Cordeila.

"To Albus," Rose says, "who is today sixteen and surrounded by his good friends, his loving brother and, um… boyfriend, who--"

"Who shags like a minx," Al interjects.

"--whom he adores," Rose corrects, looking cross. "May he have a happy birthday, and many more to follow. It is my--"

"And blowjobs," Al adds. "Many, many fantastic blowjobs."

"Or castles in Spain," I tell him. "With spiral staircases and jutting turrets, because that's the closest you'll get."

He groans.

It's the one thing I won't do. Rose says it may be Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. She's very supportive. I brought it up to my counsellor. He has thick glasses and thin lips and insists that I call him Ned. I'd rather call him an officious nincompoop, but Father says I've got to see him, or The Professor will press charges.

I'd like to press my knee firmly into The Professor's groin. But at least he's letting Uncle Percy redecorate.

You see? Silver lining.

"Really, Spanish castles? Are you interested in neoclassical architecture?" Cordelia asks.

"Huh?" says Al.

"I give up," Rose declares, throwing a hand into the air in defeat. "Forget it. Screw the toast! Let's just drink."

The liquor isn't bad, though a bit odd when paired with the goat smell.

You should never visit the bathrooms here. At least, not alone. Rose and Cordelia go together, whispering and looking over their shoulders at James. Cordelia's face is redder than his scarf.

Al wraps his carmine lips around Rose's butterbeer bottle and gulps it down. "I'm trying to teach her not to leave her drinks sitting around," he tells me. "It's not safe."

"I said nothing," I tell him.

"Your eyes speak volumes," he informs me.

"I wish they'd stop doing that," I say. They never did before. People know what I feel now. That I feel.

It's hard sometimes, having feelings. When you least expect, they burst in uninvited, like second cousins thrice removed at a family reunion. They bring casseroles of questionable edibility.

Once, I burst into uncontrollable laughter in Astronomy class. Uranus was just funny. Not funny when I realised about the Thestrals, though.

Why I can see them.

I cried so hard for her, they had to call Father.

Usually it's Al. I look at him when he's sleeping, or laughing, or up to his elbows in dirt transplanting Devil's Snare, and want him so badly, I ache with it. Want his green eyes filled with nothing but me. Fingernails digging into my shoulder blades, chest heaving. Heels pounding out a rhythm on my back.

Whispered I love you mixed with the aftershocks.

Of all the emotions I've discovered, that one's my favourite.

"She doesn't seem like your type, James," Al is saying. "Her tits are like lemons."

Takes me a moment to realise he's talking about Cordelia.

James clears his throat.

"Are you blushing?" I ask.

"No," he says, and blushes deeper. "She just-- she's different, okay? I mean, I offered to… well, it's not like I offered just like that, you know, but I sort of hinted that maybe if she happened to be, I don't know, interested--"

"Wow, cut to the chase, James," Al says. Rolls his eyes, but his lips still smile.

He coughs and takes a drink. "She said… she wanted to wait. Until we got to know each other better. Met each others parents. How great is that? I mean, really classy, right? Waiting for sex?"

"You heteros are cracked," Al announces.

"Have you got blue balls by now?" I ask.

He winces. His freckles look quite repressed.

Al snorts. "Maybe you could rent farm animals. Don't they do that here?"

I kiss his cheek to distract him because he'll be upset if we get kicked out on his birthday.

He smiles and pulls me in closer.

I wish I could always feel this way. Grimmauld Place is so dark though, and cramped, and Winky sings off key when she's on the piss. Malfoy Manor will always be home to Father. The fountains and woods and mirrors and pink peonies against white marble.

There, I'm like a carpet with a nasty stain. Won't come clean even after you charm it a dozen times. Grandmother's moved back in, and she gives it foul looks and worries what visitors will think. But it's an heirloom, that carpet, been in the family forever, we can't get rid of it.

She covers it with a chaise lounge.

Grandfather won't sit on it. Perhaps he prefers Bavarian carpets?

Though I can't imagine the craftsmanship would be up to standards.

"Alright, who drank my butterbeer?" Rose demands when she and Cordelia return. "Albus!"

"Why do you automatically assume it was me?" he demands, looking hurt. "It's because I'm a Slytherin, isn't it? Everyone always accuses the Slytherin first! I mean, I did it, but that's still not fair! Stop subjugating me!"

"Albus Severus Potter!" Rose scolds. "That is an improper use of the word subjugate, and you know it!"

I raise my glass and sip. Rub at the fingerprints until I see my reflection. I smile at it.

The boy in the glass smiles back, carmine kiss mark on his cheek from Al's lips. Makeup-less and pale but happy. Comfortable in his own skin. So long since I've seen him, since he stood behind that curtain with his world being torn to shreds before his innocent eyes.

Whyever did I leave him there?

"I've missed you," I tell him.

He grins wider. Winks at me with his third eyelid.

Al grabs the glass from my hands, deposits it on the table and kisses me. Lips against lips, delicious closeness. Tastes like liquor. He runs a hand up my thigh. "Have you got any idea how I feel right now?" he asks, breath against my skin.

"As though you're toeing the line of desperate like a tightrope and rapidly losing your balance?" I offer.

He grins. Carmine marvellously smeared. "Wow, how'd you know?"

"It's the therapy," I confide, dipping in for another kiss. "It's doing wonders."

He laughs and pulls me onto his lap.

"Ugh, do not do that in public, you two!" James insists, voice pinched. "You're going to make me spew!"

We do anyway.

No one spews.

Being invisible can be nice, but sitting on your boyfriend's lap in a bar whilst he snogs you senseless seems so much nicer.

Don't you think?