The Announcement (or The Dinner in Which Harry Potter was Forced to Deal with Draco Malfoy, Loud Music, Gay Children, and Red Wine Stains)
The tension was so thick in the air that Albus wanted to stab it with a knife. Normally just cutting it with a knife would be sufficient, but it was this kind of tension that warranted being stabbed over and over until it bled to death, or was at the very least beaten into submission.
Despite his violent want to pummel something with a blunt object, tension was not a tangible thing and therefore could not be hit. So, as uncomfortable as it was, Albus Potter was forced to deal with the suffocating tension at the dining room table.
Dinner was usually a much more comfortable affair at the Potter household, even when James was there and had dragged along his latest girlfriend. The girlfriends usually had ridiculous names like Candy, Cookie, and Flossie and Albus told him once that if he ever brought home a girl named Pasty, James would be disowned from the family. The next girl he brought home was named Celeste, and a long line of names like Skye, Starr, and Venus followed. They were smarter, if not a little stranger than the ones who came before them.
Lily and their mother would usually gossip the whole way through dinner. Lily had recently began an obsession with Stubby Boardman and had pictures of him, some of him alone in varying state of undress and some with the rest of the Weird Sisters, plastered all over her ceiling and walls. Their father had been appalled but their mother hadn't minded, saying that she had a similar crush on the lead singer of the Bat Brothers at that age.
Albus' father would usually just be there. Sometimes he was exhausted from work, sometimes he was annoyed by what someone had done that day (Either the iDaily Prophet/i, the Minister for Magic, or Uncle Ron the majority of the time), or sometimes he was pleased and would survey his family like they were the greatest thing he had ever been a part of. He would talk to James about girls and Quidditch, Lily about boys and music, his wife about their days at work and how good the meal was, and try to talk about Albus about his studies. He always said it was the thing he had the least amount of experience in.
Dinner was usually fine. Fun, even. In theory, this dinner should have been fun as well. Everyone was there and James was single, so he didn't have a planetary object by his side. Lily was trying to convince their mother that buying her tickets to the Weird Sisters' fifth farewell tour was a good idea, so she was on her best behaviour, and his dad had came home in a good mood.
It all started to fall apart when their guests arrived. Albus' mood briefly tightened as he pulled open the door to see Scorpius standing there, his hands in his pockets and the setting sun reflecting off of his glasses. His mood sunk again as he saw Scorpius' parents approaching, looking uneasy and more than a little annoyed to be at the home of a friend they didn't approve of for their son anyway.
"Hi," Albus croaked. His grip on the doorknob was tight and he was sure that he was paler than usual. He stepped aside and Scorpius grinning, pulling his hands from his pockets as he came into the house to stand beside Albus. For the briefest moment Albus felt the other boy's fingers curl around his but they soon disappeared when Mr. Malfoy stepped up on the porch, Mrs. Malfoy's hand delicately resting on his arm as she followed. "Welcome, Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy, I'm so pleased you would join us," Albus said. He was sure it came out unintelligible but judging by the tight smile Mrs. Malfoy favoured him with it was at least partially understandable.
"Father, you remember Albus," Scorpius said, nudging Albus until he stuck out his hand to shake.
Mr. Malfoy favoured the boy's hand with a long look before extending his own, seeming to be trying his best to touch as little of Albus as possible. "Charmed," he drawled, peeling his hand away like a particularly painful bandage.
Scorpius hid his wince well before turning his gaze to his mother. "Mother, surely you remember Albus?"
"Of course I do," she said, not unkindly. She presented her hand, palm down, and Albus, flummoxed, shook it as well. Scorpius wanted to slap himself in the forehead, and Albus for good measure, but he didn't. His father was glaring at him disapprovingly and his mother was laughing. Albus, it seemed, didn't see the humour.
"Come in, come in, Mum was almost done setting the table," Albus toned, his voice entirely too loud. Mr. Malfoy raised an eyebrow and gave him a look that suggested he was watching a crazy person to assess when exactly they were going to explode and start professing their love to inanimate objects. Mrs. Malfoy, still chuckling, led the pair of them into the Potter household just as the latest Weird Sisters hit began screeching from Lily's room.
"This is going to be a disaster," Albus moaned, but Scorpius shook his head, lightly laying a hand on Albus' neck.
He twisted one of Albus' curls once before saying, "It won't. My mother already likes you and my father doesn't like much. He does, however, like the Weird Sisters."
"LILY, TURN IT OFF!" Albus blushed darker, pulling the door shut as his mother screamed at the top of her lungs, sounding so much like his Gran that it made his ears burn. "LILY, I SWEAR IF YOU DON'T TURN THAT SHIT OFF I'LL HEX YOU SO HARD…"
"MUM!" Albus bellowed, not even wanting to venture a glance towards the Malfoys to see how appalled they were. "Our guests are here."
He heard a muttered curse from the kitchen and Ginny Potter appeared, her once-sleek bun ruffled around the face as if she'd tugged at it a few times. "Ah, yes," she said breathlessly, her smile not reaching her eyes. "You can go ahead and take a seat in the dining room." She turned to Albus, a threat in her eyes. "Al, go get everyone. Your dad and James are listening to a Quidditch match in his office and Lily's pouting because I told her I would take her to see the Weird Sisters."
Albus nodded as he swore he heard Mr. Malfoy hiss 'Travesty' under his breath. He cast a worried glance to Scorpius, who simply tilted his head a bit and grinned.
"Come on, I'll show you to the dining room," Scorpius offered, leading his parents through the large sitting room.
"Thank you Score," Ginny said, glared at Albus one last time, and disappeared back into the kitchen.
"Score?" Mrs. Malfoy echoed and Mr. Malfoy's nose wrinkled in distaste.
Scorpius sighed before leading them through the doorway. "It's just a nickname."
Albus waited until they were out of sight to run. He barrelled down the hallway that led to the bedrooms, kicking open Lily's door. "Food."
"Don't kick my shit!" Lily snapped in a way only a fifteen-year old girl could. "I'm not hungry."
"Tough shit," Albus replied, "This is important and whether you're hungry or not you're coming to dinner." He tossed a spell at her wireless and it shut off, drawing a squawk of protest from Lily. "You're not my dad Al, you can't tell me what to do! I swear if you broke my wireless I'll suffocate you in your sleep."
But Albus wasn't listening. He had moved on to his father's study, pushing the door open. James was dancing on the tips of his toes, singing 'Teddy rules all!' over and over. Harry looked torn, but pleased. "Oh, come on. Dad, it's okay to be glad he scored a point," James teased, his dancing slowing.
"But he scored a point against the Cannons," Harry moaned, ruffling his greying hair. "I love the boy but if the Cannons lose Ron will be inconsolable."
James crowed, "Who cares?" and resumed his dance as the announcer raved about the rainbow of colours Teddy Lupin's hair had turned after his goal.
"It's time to eat," Albus said finally and they looked up at him for the first time.
"The match is almost over, they'll catch the Snitch at any moment" James replied with a dismissive wave.
Albus frowned. "It's time to eat inow/i, not when the game is over."
James lowered his eyes back to the radio. "Calm down kiddo, before you give yourself a stroke. We'll be there when the match is over."
Albus took a deep, calming breath that didn't work. He hissed, "The food is ready now and our guests are here now and we aren't waiting for your stupid Quidditch fame to be over to eat so get in the dining room NOW before I set your trousers on fire."
Everyone was quiet, the only sound an advert for Rita Skeeter's most recent trashy romance novel called iJerry Fodder and the Flame of Desire/i on the wireless. Under normal circumstances this would be amusing. It wasn't.
"We'll be having dinner now," Harry finally said, standing up from his desk and switching off the match.
James shook his head. "You should really think about getting laid Al," he said earnestly and Harry slapped him on the back of the head. "Ow! Well, he does."
By the time they had made it to the dining room both Lily and Ginny were seated, pointedly not talking to each other. James sat in the empty seat between them and Harry took his usual seat at the head of the table.
Albus swallowed thickly and sank down next to Scorpius and couldn't help but feel like it was the Potters versus the Malfoys and his family had sold him to the enemy.
"Well, tuck in," Ginny said and only one side of the table hesitated. James ate like he hadn't eaten his entire life and Lily was even managing to eat angrily.
It was silent for a long time. Albus was sure he had died, came back, died again and was miraculously saved for a second time in the silence. He was trying to think of something to say, anything to say, but all he could think of was nonsense until he felt a warm hand wrap around his. Scorpius laced their fingers together and Albus relaxed a fraction.
Scorpius cleared his throat and everyone jumped. Lily's potatoes fell off of her fork and onto her napkin. James tried his best to muffle his laughter. "This is fun," he said too-brightly, and Ginny threw down her knife.
"James," she snapped before smiling. "He's joking. Our James, such a kidder."
Mrs. Malfoy laughed politely, shifting her gaze to her husband who was slowly and methodically cutting everything on his plate.
Harry cast his gaze about the room, looking like a caged animal. "I'm getting wine," he finally said, excusing himself from the table and all-but running from the room. He had been the firs to allow the tension to win. Albus was disappointed. He did return, however, and poured out the wine for the adults, skipping over his eldest son. James frowned, but didn't argue.
Harry took a large gulp of the deep red liquid before placing it back down on the table, ignoring the sneer it had drawn from Mr. Malfoy.
"So…Astoria, how is your latest charity venture?" Ginny asked, obviously exasperated with her entire family.
"Astoria, as in asteroid?" James asked languidly, pouring himself some wine only to have it snatched away from him by his father.
Lily threw down her fork. "Stop hitting on Mrs. Malfoy, it's disgusting. She's so iold/i…"
"iLily/i," Ginny hissed. "Be polite."
"James is trying to talk her out of her skirt and you tell ime/i to be polite?"
"Lily, stop being lewd," James admonished before turning back to an appalled Mrs. Malfoy. "Do forgive her; she can be terrible on occasion. So, how old are you? Twenty-three? Twenty-five?"
"Oh, will you all just shut up?!" Albus finally snapped, and he felt Scorpius' grip tighten. "The whole point of this dinner is that I've got something to say."
"iWe've/i got something to say," Scorpius corrected.
Mr. Malfoy cleared his throat. "You both can speak whenever you want, why did you feel you needed to force us into what is quite possibly the most uncomfortable meal I've ever endured? I've had a number of meals with the former Dark Lord. I've been uncomfortable before."
"And here I was afraid that a day would go by where Voldemort wasn't mentioned," Harry snapped, leaning back in his chair. "Thank you for making the day complete, Malfoy."
"My pleasure," Mr. Malfoy replied with a sharp sneer.
What happened next took everyone by surprise, most of all Albus. He was angry and nervous and his stomach felt like it was eating itself and suddenly he was talking, only the talking was more like shouting. "Listen to what I have to say!"
"What iwe/i have to say," Scorpius corrected again, leaning forward to cradle his head in his hands. "Please don't make his any more difficult than it already is."
"Oh no." Ginny raised her hand to cover her mouth. "Oh no oh no don't tell me what I think you're going to tell me."
"What do you think we're going to tell you?" Albus asked hesitantly.
Ginny started to cry. "You've gotten someone pregnant, haven't you? You've gotten someone pregnant and Scorpius has convinced you that you have to tell us. You can't have a child at your age, you can't."
Scorpius wrinkled his nose and Albus started to laugh manically.
"What is iwrong/i with you?" Lily screeched, her eyes wide as she watched her brother start to cry he was laughing so hard. "Have you gone iinsane/i?"
"Stop it Al," Scorpius hissed, adjusting his glasses as a blush stole over his cheeks. "It's not funny." But Al didn't stop. He was laughing so hard he wasn't making any sound, and Scorpius' parents looked like they were trying to decide on the most convenient escape route. Scorpius shoved him but nothing changed. He finally gave up and turned towards Albus' mother, who was crying into James' shoulder. "Albus hasn't gotten anyone pregnant, Mrs. Potter. That's not what he wanted to say."
"What iwe/i wanted to say," Albus wheezed. His laughter had stopped but his eyes were still streaming.
"Oh for fuck's sake Al, just say it already," James groaned, patting his mother's hair awkwardly. "It can't be worse than anything anyone's already thinking."
Mr. Malfoy cleared his throat, pushing his plate away from him. "Scorpius," he snapped, "What is the meaning of this?"
"This is a disaster!" Scorpius groaned before turning to his father. "I didn't think this would be such a big deal."
"Of course it would be, we've been held captive in this chaotic den of the insane spawn of Gryffindors," Draco hissed under his breath.
There was a roar of protest and Mrs. Malfoy slapped Draco in the chest.
Albus jumped to his feet, his hands in tight fists. He took a deep breath and bellowed, "I'M GAY!" Silence fell except for the clattering thud of Scorpius' head hitting the table.
"You can't be friends with him anymore," Mr. Malfoy said in a final sort of tone.
Albus hauled Scorpius to his feet, keeping hold of his hand. "I'm gay with Scorpius. We're gay together."
All of the glasses on the table exploded and Ginny cast a glare towards her husband. "Sorry," Harry croaked, wiping absently at the large, growing wine stain on his shirt, though his eyes never left his son. "W…what?"
"We're a couple, Mr. Potter," Scorpius repeated, his voice soft but unwavering. When the blank look didn't leave Harry's face Scorpius turned to his father, his eyes downcast. "I'm sorry Father. This...well, we thought this would be the best way to tell you all. We thought it would have gone a bit better than this, but…" He shrugged. "Al isn't lying. We've been together for almost a year now."
Mr. Malfoy was stiff and Mrs. Malfoy was holding onto his wand hand with both of hers. There was tension in his neck and his jaw and one of his eyes began to twitch. After several attempts to speak he finally snapped, "I don't know what you want me to say."
"I don't want you to say anything." Scorpius lifted his eyes and looked across the table to Lily, whose lower lip was trembling with pent-up emotion. She threw her napkin down and ran away from the table before she sobbed, slamming her bedroom door. Everyone winced when the wireless began screaming a song about a witch stealing the hearts of children for some sort of sacrifice.
"What was that all about?" Scorpius whispered, shaking Albus' hand a bit.
Albus bit his lip, rolling his eyes up to the ceiling. "She's been madly in love with you for ages. I didn't even think about that. She won't talk to me for weeks."
"How could you do this to your father and me, Albus?" Ginny whispered, using James' sleeve to wipe her eyes. "We were fine with you being in Slytherin, we were even fine with you being friends with Ferret King's son, but this…you expect us to just be fine with this? This isn't something that's just ifine/i."
Albus laid his palms on the table, leaning over. He couldn't look at anyone and Scorpius watched a tear hit the tablecloth, helpless. "I would like you to be supportive, but if you don't feel like you can be then I'll live. We'll live." Albus tried to catch his breath and fought back a sob. "I…I thought you would understand."
"We should go home," Mrs. Malfoy said, her voice weak as she stood up, Mr. Malfoy not far behind. "Come, Scorpius."
They made to leave but Scorpius hadn't budged. "Scorpius, you will come with us now," Mr. Malfoy snapped, a muscle in his cheek twitching.
James cleared his throat before saying, "Malfoy, you really should go."
"Shut up James," Albus croaked, wiping his eyes with the back of his hands. "He can stay if he wants to stay."
"Well then maybe you should both leave," James bit back, his eyebrows disappearing into his hairline.
Albus looked from his brother to his mother, then finally to his father. There faces were stony. It was quiet and he only then noticed the Malfoys had disappeared. "Fine," Albus finally said, setting his jaw. "Fine, we'll go." He all but ran to the door, Scorpius trailing behind him. He stalled for a moment, not even turning back to his family. "It's nice to know you have your family's support when you really need it."
Albus held his breath until they were out of the house. Even from outside he could still hear Lily's music blaring. He didn't know where they were going to go, but they were together.
For now, it was enough.
They ended up staying with Teddy Lupin. He talked about Quidditch all the time and wasn't there too often due to either his girlfriend or a match, so they were mostly alone. It was a few weeks before Albus was to start Auror training with his father and Scorpius was supposed to start helping his father with his owl-order brewing business. Albus had spoken to his father and he knew that Mrs. Malfoy had written to Scorpius, but that was the only contact they had with their families since that disastrous night in the Potter household.
Albus was watching Scorpius write a letter, his tidy, cramped writing filling the crème-coloured parchment. It was early morning and he wasn't wearing a shirt. Albus grinned as he watched the muscles in Scorpius' shoulders shift under his pale skin. "We should go shopping, I need dress clothes."
"Yes, with all of this money that we have," Scorpius said with a snort as he signed the letter. "Go look in Lupin's closet; I'm sure he has some dress clothes that would be suitable."
"The only think he's got that would do me any good is ties, everything else is too big," Albus said, climbing into Scorpius' lap and wrapping his arms around his neck.
"So you can have some ties," Scorpius said calmly, smoothing a hand through Albus' curls. "I'd get them now; we aren't staying here for too much longer. Mother wrote me to tell me either I move back home or get my own flat. She doesn't like me living with someone and taking handouts."
Albus sighed and laid his head against Scorpius' collarbone. "I wish we could get our own place. I don't think my mum would like that all too much."
Scorpius sighed, shrugging one of his shoulders to push Albus' head away. "Go pick out a couple of nice ties for us. I'm posting his letter to my Mum to tell her we're going to try to find a flat."
"Really?" Albus' eyes were hopeful and Scorpius couldn't help but smile, nervously pushing up his glasses. Albus leaned forward to press a kiss to Scorpius' lips before bounding off to Teddy's bedroom. "I love you," he called over his shoulder. Scorpius laughed as he folded the letter and sealed it, tying it to the leg of his mother's owl and sending her away.
There was a knock at the door. Scorpius stood slowly, listening for Albus to see if he was going to come to answer, but there was no noise from the bedroom. The knock sounded again and Scorpius finally pulled open the door, his eyes widening when he saw Mr. Potter standing there in his full Auror uniform.
"M…Mr. Potter?" Scorpius breathed, stepping aside. Would you like to come in?"
"Yes, please," Mr. Potter said, scratching at his greying beard as he stepped into Teddy's flat. Mr. Potter slipped his hands into his pocket and turned to Scorpius as he closed the door. "Where's Al?"
"He's in Lupin's bedroom trying to find clothes for work that are suitable to steal," Scorpius said with a little grin. "I'll get him."
"No," Mr. Potter said, laying a hand on Scorpius' shoulder. "I wanted to talk to you, actually. Let's sit."
Scorpius swallowed thickly and nodded, sitting back down at the small table in the kitchen. Mr. Potter pulled out a chair next to him and sat down, his worn hands folded in front of him. Scorpius was hoping that Albus would come back in five minutes ago. Mr. Potter was staring at him and he didn't like it. "Is…I mean…what did you want to talk about?" He was beginning to sweat and his glasses began to slide down his nose. He quickly pushed them back up.
Mr. Potter nodded and started to pick at the hem of his robes, something that Albus had obviously got from him. It was no less annoying when Mr. Potter did it. "I just…" Mr. Potter frowned, piecing together what he wanted to say before he started saying it. "I always wanted my family to have what I didn't have. I wanted my children to be normal and happy and average. I didn't want them to have to deal with people staring at them or hating them or thinking that they are strange. I never wanted them to have to worry about anything." He stopped, looking up at Scorpius. His stare was intense and Scorpius couldn't help but notice that Albus' eyes were the same colour as his father's. "Even though I wanted this, I knew that normalcy was a lie. I finally decided that I don't care if my children are normal; I just want them to be happy. If Albus is happy, then I'm happy. I'm happy that he's doing what he wants to do, not what is expected of him. If he loves you, then that's all that matters." His voice was thick with suppressed emotion and he looked away quickly. Scorpius chose to pretend he didn't see a tear fall from Mr. Potter's eye. "That's all I have to say, really. Well, that and Lily says she'll hate her brother forever, but I'm sure that will change. I bought her tickets to see the Weird Sisters."
Scorpius chuckled. "Trying to keep the peace?"
Mr. Potter laughed as he stood. "I think we are all in need of a break. I sent your parents a pair of tickets as well, but I'm sure that your father just burned them."
"No, he loves the Weird Sisters, even though he probably would deny it," Scorpius replied with a shrug. "Thank you, Mr. Potter. You've been surprisingly calm about all of this."
Mr. Potter winced, pressing his lips together for a moment. "Someone has to be. Ginny's forbidden Al from the house and I haven't talked to James. I can only imagine how your family took this."
"My father won't talk to me," Scorpius said, his tone clipped. "And my mother…she won't talk about anything but coming home or finding a flat of my own. She won't mention Al or…or anything."
"Hey Scorpius, I found a couple of ties that I like, but…" Albus stopped in the doorway leading into the kitchen, a tie in each hand. His eyes widened. "What, are we going to Azkaban now? iAurors/i?"
"If you want to go to Azkaban I'll take you, but I'm fairly certain you won't enjoy it," Mr. Potter said as he turned around, grinning weakly at his son. "Stealing is a crime, but not that big of a crime."
"Dad," Albus sighed, a slow smile spreading on his face. "What are you doing here?"
Harry pulled his son into a one-armed hug. "I was on my way home from work and I thought I would drop by." Albus hugged back, pressing his face into his father's robes. "Also, your Uncle George has decided to let you rent the flat above his shop. Your brother and I moved your things in there for you." Harry held his son at arm's length and grinned. "Your mother has said you aren't allowed back in the house, and I didn't argue because I know you want to move out anyway. This way she'll let you. I think James had to threaten to kill her before she let him move out."
Albus laughed, his throat tightening. "I've got a flat?"
"You've got a flat."
Albus laughed again, looking over to Scorpius. He was smiling and watching Mr. Potter, his eyes wide behind his glasses. "We've got a flat," Scorpius echoed, unbelieving.
"I do have to go," Mr. Potter said again, going back to the entryway. "Congratulations, boys. Albus put those ties back where you got them."
"Yes Dad," Albus said with a grin. "Maybe we'll have a flat-warming party."
Harry nodded, pulling open the flat door. "Maybe you will."