Title: The Summer Trials
Beta: none, any mistakes are mine alone!
Summary: [this chapter] Scorpius' first time at a muggle carnival.
Word Count: 4,425
Warnings: um, none really, cept the gayness, heehee!
Disclaimer: none of this is mine, it all belongs to the fabulous JK and her minions!
A/N: howaya! right, this here is my submission for the AS/S Summer Carnival, and i'm on the last chapter now, so i thought i'd start posting it up here! i'll be posting the chapters up once a week, prob every weekend. there will be ten chapters and then an epilogue, and no fear of it being left discontinued seeing as it's already finished! i hope you all enjoy it!
Chapter One: Wake Up and Smell The Pumpkin Juice!
James Potter was manning the Tunnel of Love. He was also wearing a top hat. As if that wasn't strange enough, one hand held a regal-looking cane and the other a metal cone of some sort, which he was speaking into, his voice booming across the area around him. It was surreal – what was James doing working at the muggle carnival? – and by the way, what was he himself doing at a muggle carnival Scorpius wondered, it was unnatural!
A happy sigh drew Scorpius' attention away from the auburn-haired Potter, and he spied the reason for his being in this hole of non-magic destitute. Albus. Of course. Scorpius suddenly remembered why he was here: Albus, after a thorough, demonstrative and gigantic project on projectors (involving many shadow puppet shows and the projection of a picture of a muggle movie star who made all the girls swoon, onto the school roof, which Albus had coerced Scorpius into covering with a giant white sheet.), Albus had been awarded two tickets to a muggle carnival by his muggle studies teacher. And of course, despite the fact that he would never in a million years partake in muggle studies, as Albus' best friend, Scorpius was the victim of choice to be subjected to a day of muggleness. Not that he had anything against muggles or anything, he quite liked them, though if his father ever found out…anyway, that wasn't the point! The point was that it was the first day of his summer holidays, and Albus had shown up at his door at the crack of dawn (or midday, whatever) to floo him to merlin-knows-where for an afternoon of mechanical and odd food goodness. And listening to the eldest Potter ramble on as enigmatically as ever, it seemed.
"Step right up Ladies and Gentlemen, and enter the Tunnel of Love! Share this most intimate of moments with your date, your crush, your lover! Dare you bear your heart to the possibility of ecstasy, or a sever crushing? Dare you admit your true feelings? For we cannot deny our emotions, cannot possibly run from them or ignore them, for they consume our very being, and none so much as love. That's the way we are wired. It's the way we're wired. It sucks, but it's just a fact of nature. It's also tragic. Truly, the only way to deal with it is to GIVE IN," he finished with a dark chuckle, catching Scorpius' eye and giving him a wink.
Scorpius started, and shook his head as he wondered why James was quoting Adventureland (and just HOW did Scorpius know what Adventureland was? There must be something up with that metal cone, it must be charmed or something). James Potter was a bit of an odd sort. A perfect mixture of his parents good attributes, always charismatic and surprisingly philosophical at times, he was wanted by all the girl and half the boys in Hogwarts (the rest of the boys were just too in the closet to admit anything), and while he had snogged more than his fair share, and was affectionate with his friends, he was surprisingly aloof with relationships, and held rather darkly poetic views on love and such. James proclaimed himself 'one cool hep-cat,' and had all sorts of handy phrases like 'quite jiving me turkey,' 'do you dig it?' and 'I don't need some piece of skirt blocking my groovy flow!' All this and his earrings he attributed to his uncle Charlie. Albus added that it also resulted from eighteen years of mooning over Teddy, who was too oblivious to notice anything.
"You're musing, aren't you?" Albus sighed exasperatedly, "We're in one of the coolest places EVER and you're musing! No no, that shall not be happening today I say!" and with that, he took a hold of Scorpius' hand and started dragging him along.
Scorpius rolled his eyes and caught up with his friend so they were walking along hand-in-hand; just like James, Albus was affectionate with his friends, overly so with Scorpius. Scorpius, who had been brought up with a less-than-affectionate hand, wondered at times why he allowed Albus to be his friend. And then Albus smiled at him, like he was smiling now: the smile that promised him everything…for a price of course. It was pure Slytherin, and made Scorpius' knees wobble dangerously.
"Wanna know what I'm thinking?" Albus said slyly, still smiling that damn smile.
"I thought there was to be none of that today," Scorpius sneered, rolling his eyes.
"Thinking and musing are two very different things Scorp old boy," Albus replied jovially, "And what I am thinking, is that I have come up with a theme for the day!"
"Really?" Scorpius asked, trying, but failing to hide his interest.
He and Albus, in an attempt to avoid boredom, gave each day a theme by which to act. It started off with simple things like 'Opposite' and 'Green,' but had become more and more strange and complex the older they got.
"Yes," Albus smirked, eyes glinting wickedly "It is, Win or Lose."
"That's not really a theme," Scorpius said slowly, "How does it work? How do you know if you've won or lost?"
"It's up to interpretation," Albus grinned, "That's the beauty of it."
Scorpius thought about it, then slowly nodded, replying, "Okay, win or lose it is."
"Great," Albus beamed, "Now that that's settled, I want candy floss!"
Scorpius didn't know what candy floss was, but if Albus wanted it then come hell or high water, Albus would get it. As they passed by the Tunnel of Love, waving at James, Scorpius heard a song pouring out from it. One he would have recognized anywhere, though he was more used to hearing it coming from the music box in their dorm room. "Carnival," by the Cardigans was one of Albus' favourite songs. More specifically, it was his, 'I've got a crush on someone but I don't think they're interested,' song, and Scorpius had heard it briefly in first year, and then steadily from fourth year onwards. Scorpius had heard it every time before Albus had gotten with his latest girlfriend or boyfriend. It would be absent during the relationship, and for a while after it had ended, but inevitably it would start playing again. Strangely enough, Albus had been playing it continually during the past year, without any indication as to who it was he was mooning over, or if he was going to make a move. When Scorpius confronted him about this (he was sick of hearing the damn song, and most definitely NOT worried about Albus' mental and emotional health), Albus retorted that Scorpius was a hypocrite. Scorpius admitted he had a point, but it wasn't exactly as if he could just say, "Well Albus, that's because the person I've had a crush on for the past four years is in fact you." Oh no, that would never do. And so it continued on with Albus mooning and Scorpius becoming increasingly annoyed (worried). And now the song was playing here. Lovely. Albus stiffened slightly, but continued on, squeezing Scorpius' hand tight. Scorpius squeezed back and his friend shot him that smile, and Scorpius' knees threatened to go all wobbly again. Luckily, they had reached the candyfloss stall, where Scorpius could lean, and the beaming face of Ginny Potter met them from the other side of the counter.
"Hello boys!" she said, "Candy floss?"
"Please," Albus nodded eagerly.
Chuckling, Ginny turned and got two bags of candyfloss ready. Turning back, she handed a bag to Albus, who immediately started digging in, while Scorpius watched with a mixture of fascination and disgust at how messy the whole process was.
Scorpius turned to see Ginny holding a bag of pink sugar fluff in front of him.
"Would you like some? It's very sweet."
Sweet. There was only one thing that Scorpius knew was sweet, and that was Albus. Everything about him was sweet; his messy hair, his eyes, his nature, personality, smile, the savage way he ate that candy floss…even his slytherin-ness was sweet, and naturally, there was no way he could ever have it – could ever want it. Sweet things weren't good for you.
"I…" Scorpius hesitated, eyes flickering between the candyfloss and Albus.
"It's okay to want sweet things," Ginny smiled, as though reading his mind.
"I-I'm not allowed sweets," Scorpius swallowed, still eyeing the fluff.
"Sometimes though," Ginny replied, playing the bag gently in his hands, "It's exactly what we need. Try it."
Scorpius eyed the bag warily, before plucking some of the sticky substance out of it and putting it in his mouth.
It was amazing. It was bliss. It was quite possibly the most brilliant thing Scorpius had ever eaten. He quickly ate another bit, eyes wide with wonder.
Ginny was beaming too as she said, "See? Not all sweet things are that bad. Do you like it?"
Scorpius nodded, smiling at her, as he continued to eat. Ginny folded her arms on the counter, leaning down until her face was level with his.
"It's not so bad admitting that you want something. In fact, it could be one of the best things you do. Give it a try some time," she finished with a wink.
Scorpius gave her a confused look, and would have questioned her, but Albus grabbed his hand and dragged him away, with a call of, "Thanks mum, see you later!"
"Is your whole bloody family here?" Scorpius asked, as he caught up with his friend.
"Yeah," Albus grinned, "We work here every year – this is a community-founded carnival, everyone here is in the neighbourhood."
"Oh, so where are your dad and Lily?"
"You'll see," Albus grinned, "I wanna go see dad first actually."
Harry Potter was in the fortune-telling booth, something that Albus found endlessly amusing, and as such, he was continually giggling as they sat in front of his dad, while Scorpius rolled his eyes and nibbled on his candyfloss. He had to admit though, even if only to himself, that the saviour of the wizarding world looked ridiculous – dressed in a bright pink silk shirt, puffy silk black trousers, funny slippers, giant gold earrings and a turban, along with the eternally dorky glasses.
"You are in graaaavvveee DANGER!" Harry intoned in a spooky voice, "VERY grave! Especially if you don't stop laughing at your father."
"Sorry dad," Albus giggled, "But you look hilarious! And you're pants at divination."
"True," Harry grinned, then flexed his fingers, and placed them on the crystal ball in front of him, "But let's give this a go anyway, okay?"
Albus sobered slightly, and concentrated on stealing some of Scorpius' candy floss, his fingers brushing over the blond teen's and even though it was sticky and sort of gross, it was all Scorpius could do NOT to grab his hand and lick Albus' fingers clean. No, that would be a decidedly inappropriate thing to do, and beside, Scorpius didn't want to anyway, only he did, only he didn't As usual, Scorpius found himself stuck in this dance; hopping back and forth around Albus, debating whether or not to act on his feelings, while Albus remained completely clueless. Irritated with himself, and knowing that Albus would spot his, 'I'm lost in musing,' face a mile away, Scorpius focused on harry, who was squinting into the crystal ball.
"Scorpius," Harry murmured vaguely, "You are…lost, or stuck. There's a decision you've been meaning to make, but it's come to a head now. The answer's right…beside you."
'Beside me?' Scorpius thought, confused, 'how can it be beside me? Isn't the saying usually in front of you?'
"The signals are there…it's not wrong to want it. You just need to wake up. Your prince is looking, look back, or you'll never stop hearing it."
'Dear Merlin, I think he's cracked…oh-oh god, just don't laugh…hold it together.'
"Now is not the time for dancing," Harry finished with a nod, then squinted a bit more and continued, "Albus, you're searching for something, but just giving off signals isn't enough, you need to be proactive. The frog won't give anything away; you need to be more Slytherin about the whole thing. You'll get there in the end to bestow the kiss on your true love."
Harry was silent, and then beamed up at the two boys who were watching him with barely contained mirth, mouths twitching dangerously, and breathing stuttering.
"Okay cool thanks dad," Albus said quickly, then grabbed Scorpius' hand and pulled him outside the tent, where he proceeded to laugh and cling to Scorpius, who laughed and clung right back. The stumbled along through the carnival in a laughing fit, looking like drunken fools.
"Y-your dad's cracked!" Scorpius gasped.
"I told you, he's PANTS at divination!"
"PANTS!" Scorpius howled with laughter, needing to bend over to try catch his breath.
"I don't know why he tries to be so weird and cryptic anyway, it's not that bloody hard," Albus scoffed, when they had sufficiently calmed.
"You've never taken a single divination class," Scorpius retorted.
"Pscchh, like it need to," Albus drawled, rolling his eyes, "C'mere, gimme your hand, I'll read your palm."
Scorpius snorted, but held his hand out obligingly, trying to suppress a shiver as Albus took it and gently ran his fingertips over his palm.
"Hmm…okay, you will meet a, not exactly tall, but extremely handsome dark-haired man, who will sweep you off your feet Sleeping Beauty style and lick chocolate off your body," Albus proclaimed proudly, giving him that smile.
"What is it with you Potters and making me a princess?" Scorpius huffed, trying not to think about lick chocolate off Albus.
"You've got such delicate sensibilities," Albus smirked.
"Whatever," Scorpius clucked, "Let's try out these mechanical death traps you call fun."
Albus cheered and dragged Scorpius onto everything possible. There was the waltzers first, where they were spun faster and faster, Albus pressed against Scorpius' side, the tilt-a-whirl, where Albus held his hand up in the air to make it more exciting (terrifying), and so on. Every ride had Albus latched on to some part of Scorpius, who relished it while feeling both elated and scared. It was when they were on a spinning claw machine that the pressure in his chest burst, and Scorpius found himself truly letting go; screaming and laughing as they world spun by in a fantastical blur, Albus by his side. Next it was on to the stalls and games, with Albus plastered to him, showing him how to shoot the pegs at the tin cans, flick coins into bowls and other such activities. And all the while he smiled at Scorpius and asked him what he wanted, did he like the carnival, and what did he want to do. Scorpius' knees had never felt so wobbly, and he himself was feeling light-headed and dizzy, his mind back on that eternal dance around Albus, unable to decide if he should throw himself at his best friend or run away from the sweet torture. He realised that this day was Albus' way to helping him let go and relax after the NEWTS and his crazy uptight behaviour of the past two years, but there was so much MORE to it that enjoying sweet and death defying rides, so much more in Albus' smile and words, and in everything that was happening. But Scorpius didn't know who to interpret or react or ANYTHING. Was it Albus just being goofy, affectionate Albus? Was he testing Scorpius somehow? Did he realise that Scorpius was in love with him? Did he have feelings for Scorpius? It was all too much for the blond teen, who ignored it in favour of letting his mind dance around the issue as he found himself at the hook-a-duck, run by none other than Lily Potter.
Just as Albus was like his father, Lily was the spitting image of her mother, and practically her clone in personality and temperament, minus the fact that she was a Slytherin of course.
"Hello boys," she grinned as they sauntered up arms around each other, "Care for a go?"
"You know it Lil," Albus grinned, putting money on the counter; the rest of the family might let them skive off getting things for free, but not Lily, and Albus was the same whenever he worked so he didn't begrudge her it.
Lily handed them both a rod and asked, "So how's it going, having fun?"
"Loads," Albus grinned, looking over the ducks in front of him, "We got candy floss from mum, dad gave hilarious predictions, we've been on all the rides bar James' and have won some cool prized."
"Sounds good," Lily nodded, "I may have to give it a go next year, and you two can take care of the hook-a-duck."
"As if," Albus scoffed cheekily, hooking a duck and handing it to her, "Scorp and I will be too busy saving to world to be here."
"If James can make it all the way here from Romania to help out, then you'll be able to as well," Lily said sweetly, but with a firm challenging edge in her tone.
She glanced at the underside of the duck, grinned and reached under the counter to get his prize.
"Well I guess we've no choice then," Albus shrugged, then smirked, "Pay close attention Scorp, this is where it gets tricky."
Lily gave a loud snort and straightened, hand Albus a box that squeaked and rattled.
"What is it?" Albus asked, poking it cautiously.
"A pygmy puff," Lily grinned, "Even though it's a muggle carnival, mum and dad got a bunch of prizes for any wizards and witches that show up."
"A pygmy puff?" Albus sneered, "They're so girly and squeaky, what the hell would I want one for?"
"Well I'd be willing to take it off your hands if you don't want it," Lily said, altogether too helpful and innocent.
Scorpius focused on hooking his duck as a grin bloomed across his face; Lily was some piece of work. Albus meanwhile was staring at her, expressions of annoyance and amusement battling for dominance on his face. Finally, he gave a barking laugh.
"To think I ever doubted you were Slytherin," he chuckled, "Here you go sis, early birthday present."
"Thanks Al!" Lily beamed, hugging the box to her chest.
She put it down and then took the duck Scorpius had picked and glanced at the underside. With a strange smile, she reached under the counter and pulled out a small silk drawstring bag that she handed to him.
"What is it?"
"Joy," Lily replied, that same smile playing with her lips.
"Joy? How is it joy?"
"You'll see. Just don't open the bag in front of any muggles. In fact," she said slowly, leaning down towards him, "Wait until you and Al are alone to open it. Share it with each other. Al would like that."
"Um…what?" Scorpius asked, confused.
Lily sighed exaggeratedly and said, "For someone so smart you can be really oblivious at times. Wake up and smell the pumpkin juice Scorpius. Just do what you want."
That said, she stood back up and said in a voice that exuded casualness, "Perhaps you boys should go see James, I hear he's planning something special."
"Ooo, should be good," Albus nodded, taking Scorpius' hand, "See you later sis!"
As Albus and Scorpius wandered back along to the Tunnel of Love, Scorpius could hear music, and James singing, or rather crooning:
"Well, I've walked these streets
in a carnival
of sights to see
all the cheap thrill seekers
the vendors and the dealers
they crowded around me."
Albus and Scorpius pushed their way through the crowd to find James singing into the metal cone and swaying for the crowd.
"Have I been blind
have I been lost
inside myself and
my own mind
by what my eyes have seen?"
As James sang, Scorpius felt a surge of fluttering recognition and something else, as though the words were speaking to him and only him. He was going to join in, he HAD to join in. Suddenly, he was walking forward, singing with James.
"Well, I've walked these streets
in a spectacle of wealth and poverty
in the diamond markets
the scarlet welcome carpet
that they just rolled out for me
And I've walked these streets
in the mad house asylum
they can be
where a wild eyed misfit prophet
on a traffic island stopped
and he raved of saving me
have I been blind
have I been lost
inside myself and
my own mind
by what my eyes have seen?
have I been wrong
have I been wise
to shut my eyes
and play along
by what my eyes have found
by what my eyes have seen
what they have seen?"
Merlin, this song was just so perfect for this day, this day where everything was trying to tell him something that he just wasn't getting. As the song ended, the crowd went wild, cheering and clapping and Albus ran forward to throw himself at Scorpius, giving him a giant hug, cheering and singing his praises.
As the euphoria from the singing wore off, Scorpius, still in Albus' arms wheeled towards James and said, "What in Merlin's name was that?"
"Just a little charm," James shrugged, the same strange smile that Lily had worn on his lips, "It affects anyone the songs means something to."
"Hmph," Scorpius snorted, preferring to concentrate on the feel of Albus than what the song had meant to him.
"And for your wonderfully participation and being a good sport, I'll give you and All a free ride in the Tunnel," James told them, ushering them to where the carriages stood.
As he made sure they were seated properly, he whispered to Scorpius, "I'll make sure you two are totally alone, okay?" and then was gone.
And suddenly, they were off into the tunnel.
There was romantic music playing, the lighting was sultry and there were all sorts of cute robotic animals and cherubs galore. In short, it was horrifically cheesy, and the cart had stopped halfway through, presumably to let them soak up the atmosphere.
"Well this is all sorts of fun," Albus sighed, collapsing against Scorpius, who was fiddling with the bag he'd won, "What's in it?"
"Let's find out," Scorpius replied, and opened the bag.
A tiny, warm sun slowly floated out of the bag. It paused momentarily, then shot up to the ceiling where it expanded, filling the room with a fierce light and warmth. The room transformed; the music became wondrous and harmonic, the ceiling a clear blue sky, and the ground an ever-flowing meadow. It was wondrous, and both boys gaped around them.
"This is, this is-" Albus babbled in awe.
"Joy," Scorpius breathed, "It's so joyful."
He closed his eyes and completely relaxed, absorbing the atmosphere.
"I've never been anywhere like here."
"Neither have I," Scorpius admitted sadly.
"B-but – this is…your joy," Albus spluttered, confused, "Why?"
"It's just a dream, a fantasy," Scorpius shrugged, "There's no point."
"Scorpius, just because it's a fantasy doesn't mean it won't come true," Albus said gently.
Scorpius felt a hand on his, and opened his eyes to see Albus' so close to his. He licked his lips, nervous, wanting to do something, but not wanting to let himself give in and make a mistake.
"Scorp," Albus breathed, "Haven't you ever considered that maybe your dreams want to come true?"
Scorpius shook his head. That would be too painful, hopeful and confusing a thing to consider. Albus sighed and leaned back on the seat.
"So," he said in a cryptic tone, "How do you think the theme of the day is going?"
"To be honest I'm not sure it's all that prevalent," Scorpius replied, "Apart from trying all those stall games."
Albus chucked and shook his head, saying, "You're thinking about it all wrong."
"Thank how should I be thinking about it?"
"Well let's see…you tried all sorts of new things today like candy floss and the carnival rides, and relaxed enough to enjoy them, you sang in front of a crowd with no embarrassment, and then of course there's this," Albus grinned, gesturing to the scene around them, then added softly, "I would say that you've won."
"Really?" Scorpius asked, just as softly.
"So why don't you collect your prize?"
And then he smiled THAT smile.
Suddenly, looking at that smile and into Albus' eyes, everything clicked, and Scorpius realised just what it was this day was trying to tell him. He felt the old urge to dance around the issue, but pushed it aside to concentrate on FINALLY getting what he wanted.
"I think I shall," he murmured, leaning in and capturing those lips that had driven him mad since he was thirteen.
At that moment, the music changed, and was suddenly a familiar voice yelling, "Wake up! Wake up and smell the pumpkin juice!"
Scorpius opened his eyes and realised three things: 1) he was now awake, 2) that had been a most wonderful dream, and 3) Albus was currently jumping on his bed over him, telling him to rise and shine.
"Hurry up Scorp," Albus said excitedly, hustling him to the shower, "Carnival today, it's gonna be great!"
'Not as great as it could be,' Scorpius thought grudgingly, but hurried anyway so his friend wouldn't have an aneurism.
James Potter was manning the Tunnel of Love. He was also wearing a top hat, and was talking into a metal cone and Scorpius knew exactly what he was saying. The Cardigans were playing from the tunnel, Albus sighed happily beside him, and Scorpius had the feeling that his wonderful dream had been much more than just a dream.
As Albus opened his mouth, Scorpius held his hand up and said dryly, "Let me guess, you want candy floss."
"You're right!" Albus gasped, "How did you know? Do you even know what candy floss is?"
"I have a vague idea," Scorpius grinned, then gestured towards James, "Is your whole family here?"
"Yup, mum's taking care of the candy floss, dad's the fortune teller, which should be a laugh, and Lily's on the hook-a-duck," Albus replied, already taking Scorpius' hand and leading him along.
Scorpius grinned and let him. He had a good feeling about this day.
As nonchalantly as possible, he said, "Say Al? What do you think of making the theme of the day Win or Lose?"
A/N: sooo what do we think? please review and let me know if you like it or not, they are all very much appreciated! see you next week for part II: Go Forth On Thy Noble Steed! slán!