A/N: Dear Reader, we have, at length, arrived at the end.
First, an enormous thank you to all my faithful readers and reviewers. You've made me smile and laugh, and helped make this a better story. Your support has been phenomenal, especially considering this was my first fic and the first time anyone beside my computer screen has seen my stories. Thank you.
Also, many of you have been asking whether or not I'm going to be posting more stories and the answer is ... I hope so. I've currently got one in the making (already half written) which is primarily Harry/Draco. I'm aware this pairing has been done to death, but as far my experience in reading Drarry can tell, this one will be very different. I'm all for original!
On a side note, I do think it would be awesome to one day revisit Al and Scorp in a sequel =)
Oh, and if you haven't already checked out the song by Relient K after which this story is titled, please do so. The lyrics, in my opinion, capture Albus and Scorp's relationship wonderfully.
And now, with a bittersweet taste in my mouth and an overwhelming sense of accomplishment, I offer to you the final chapter of Must Have Done Something Right.
Chapter 70 (Epilogue: One Month Later)
If Anyone Can Make Me a Better Person, You Could
I trust this letter finds you and mother in good spirits. Thank you for sending me that Potions book I asked after. Know that I am putting it to good use and hope that my marks in the coming exams will prove it.
But before I continue on with pleasantries, there is something you need to know.
Perhaps you should sit down.
Last year, just before Christmas, I told you that I believed Albus Potter, my very close friend, to be straight. This is, in fact, false information. Just recently over the past few weeks, Albus and I have grown much closer and I'm happy to tell you that he and I are currently together.
I know this news will be a shock to you, but I beg that you please give us a chance. We are both very happy. Personally, father, it would mean the world to me if you would give me your approval. Write back soon.
"Albus, I still don't think this is a good idea," Scorpius opined nervously as he watched Albus tie his letter to a school owl.
"Why not? It'll be fine. A letter's the best way to break it to them," Albus said confidently. "That way, we can avoid the awkward silences and the large chance that one of us might die, but still let them know that we're dating."
Scorpius sighed and chewed on his bottom lip. "But it's so impersonal."
"My parents won't have a problem with it. In fact, they're lucky I'm even sending a letter in the first place and not waiting till the next holidays to tell them."
Scorpius gave him a small unsure smile. "It's my father that I'm worried about, Albus. He won't take it well."
"Come on," Albus said encouragingly with his own smile. "It's just a letter. What's the worst he could do?"
Your mother and I are expecting you and Albus this Sunday at the Manor. Cancel all other appointments.
We need to talk.
"Scorp, is this really necessary?" Albus asked, pointedly looking at where Scorpius' hand was clamped tightly around his wrist and yanking hard. It hurt.
"Yes, because if I didn't, you'd just run back to where we came from," Scorpius hissed in a tone that alerted Albus he was running out of patience. "We're almost there," he assured him, looking straight forward and marching with increased speed.
"You can let go," Albus offered, wincing when Scorp's fingers clenched particularly tightly. "I won't run away." Even as he said this, Albus wasn't so sure he wouldn't. Casting his glance left and right, he was rewarded with little more than a large, dark green wall of tree hedge on either side of the path they were on. Interspersed throughout the unbroken barrier of tightly knit green leaves were stone gargoyles sculpted in expressions of unbearable pain, as if the Cruciatus Cruse was being perpetually cast on them.
Albus gulped loudly. The sight of such torture did nothing to quell his growing anxiety.
"Just remember this was your idea in the first place, and your idea to send a letter," Scorpius pointed out, making Albus cringed. It had been his idea. But that was before the gargoyles.
"Yeah, but I was expecting a simple 'that's nice, have fun' letter in reply." Albus glanced at Scorpius. "Like my parents did," reminded him.
"Yes, well, needless to say, our parents are very different. My father was hardly going to let it pass undealt with. I knew a mere letter wouldn't suffice," Scorpius said, looking more agitated with every passing torturous statue. "I wonder how mad he is," he muttered almost to himself.
Albus swallowed a sudden wave of fear down his dry throat. "You know it's not too late to turn back now."
"No. No, no, no, Albus Potter. It was your brilliant idea to send a letter, so you are going to stick this out with me. Besides, we're almost there. We will do this, and everything will be just fine," Scorpius recited firmly, as if saying it aloud would fulfil their wishes.
Suddenly, they rounded the final corner of the near-claustrophobic walkway.
Albus' jaw dropped open when he laid eyes on the building at the end of the stone path.
It was huge! Made entirely of blocks of stone larger than Albus himself, the building looked like something out of the old fairy stories his mum used to tell him. It had stone towers spiking upward, piercing the gray sky portentously. Enormous stained glass window pocketed the structure, but Albus was sure no amount of light could enter the building enough to illuminate it. The whole building had a shadowy aura surrounding it. The colossal front doors were made of solid dark wood; its black hinges and decorations alluded to the idea of a dungeon. More tormented stone gargoyles stood guard on either side of the entryway, facing a large stone fountain right outside the door that Albus guessed was supposed to look pretty. It didn't.
"Welcome home," Scorpius said, continuing to pull Albus towards the solid doors.
Home was the last word Albus would use to describe such a gargantuan stone citadel.
He swallowed loudly once more, taking it all in.
They had arrived at Malfoy Manor.
Draco Malfoy was no less intimidating the second time around.
In fact, if it was possible, the man had become even more austere. Albus felt like he was the size of a House Elf in his presence. It made it all the worse as the memory of their one and only previous meeting was hovering in the air between them like a bad stench. Albus was convinced he would once again make an utter idiot of himself.
It really wasn't the impression you wanted to make to your boyfriend's father.
"Hello, Father," Scorpius greeted, walking in through the doorway and placing a small kiss on his father's cheek. "Father, Albus," he introduced somewhat pointlessly, looking at Albus.
Albus felt his tongue tie up in knots for the briefest moment, but managed to quickly remember the things Scorpius had schooled him in. "It's a pleasure to meet you again, Mr Malfoy," he recited dutifully, hoping that the sweat running down his forehead was just in his head and not actually visible.
"The pleasure is all mine, Albus," the tall man said in an unemotional and unreadable tone. Albus would bet his Nova that Mr Malfoy felt absolutely no pleasure at meeting his son's boyfriend.
"Let's go sit inside," Scorpius suggested. "We've got so much to catch up on."
Wordlessly, Mr Malfoy turned on his heels and marched to the left and out of Albus' sight. Scorpius grabbed onto Albus' hand and pulled him in through the doorway. "It's going well," Scorp whispered.
"We've said about five words," Albus reminded dryly. "If it wasn't going well after five words, then I'd be cursing myself into tomorrow."
"Last time, five words was all it took," Scorpius said pointedly, bringing up the painful memory of the scene at the train station once more.
"Thanks," Albus muttered unhappily.
"You said the right thing," Scorpius whispered again, coming up close to Albus. "Well done for remembering." His face softened then as if realising that Albus needed him to be supportive and not judgemental. Albus felt relieves when Scorpius went on his tip-toes to kiss him softly on the mouth.
Albus immediately joined the kiss forcefully, treating it as a way to let out all his pent-up anxiety. He circled his arm around Scorp's waist and ran his tongue along Scorp's lips—
Scorpius pulled away. "Later," he breathed, "I promise. Let's get through this first."
"Well, at least I have some incentive now," Albus grumbled, his lips still tingling from their kiss.
"If you're extra polite, I'll give you a lot more incentive that just a kiss," Scorpius whispered, his cheeks tinged pink.
Albus flushed at the suggestion and he grinned. "I'll hold you to that." He released a deep breath, to rid himself of the body-tingling sensations Scorpius always gave him and forced his mind into more sensible territory. "Alright, let's do this. You have your wand, don't you? In case he kills me?"
"Oh, shut up. It'll be fine," Scorpius reassured him. "Now, come on, he's waiting for us in the drawing room."
The drawing room turned out to be the size of Albus' lounge and dining rooms together, housing a few long white couches and a large window that looked out on yet more gargoyles. The room itself was magnificently decorated with a high ceiling, a massive crystal chandelier and a huge fireplace. But Albus could see very little purpose for such a grand room, apart from sitting and interrogating your son's boyfriend. There was no piano, no table, no bookcase—just chairs and couches. He and Scorpius moved to occupy one of the couches directly opposite the elegantly carved wooden, high-backed chair upon which Mr Malfoy sat, appearing to be even more daunting that usual. Albus was glad for the large space between them.
"How is school?" the man asked, startling Albus after a long spell of silence.
"School is going well," Scorpius answered. "The Professors are getting us ready for NEWTS next year, so there is much preparation."
"Good." Mr Malfoy nodded. "You can never start too early." To Albus' horror, the next question was directed at him. "And Albus, how are you?"
"Good," Albus blurted immediately. He chided himself as soon as the word left his mouth. "Well," he corrected. "I'm well, sir, thank you." He felt Scorpius next to him relax a little. That had been the right answer. "And yourself?" he posed, knowing it would only be polite to return the question.
"Fine," he answered ascetically.
Another silence descended upon them, leaving Albus wondering whether or not he should be the one to break it. He couldn't think of anything to say, so he opted to remain quiet and let Scorpius restart the conversations. In the end, it was Mr Malfoy who spoke first.
"Scorpius tells me you play Quidditch," Mr Malfoy stated in a voice that was once again devoid of emotions. Albus couldn't tell whether he was disgusted or impressed.
"Er, yes, I do. I'm the Seeker," he answered.
Scorpius jumped in. "He's also playing for Puddlemere United, Father."
That, at least, sparked some sort of expression on his face. His eyebrows raised a small fraction. "Puddlemere United," he echoed. "But you haven't finished school yet."
"I plan to," Albus said hastily, lest Mr Malfoy thought he was planning on leaving school. "I train with the team every fortnight on weekends."
This seemed to placate Mr Malfoy. "Your father is proud of you, I'm sure."
Albus felt the tension in the room rise a notch at the mention of his father. "Er ... yeah, he is," was all he said.
Scorpius must have sensed the apprehension in the atmosphere. "Where is mother?" he asked to change the subject.
"Hellooo?" sang a voice from somewhere else in the house, right on time.
"—is just on her way," Mr Malfoy finished, swivelling to his head to look to the door of the drawing room.
Sure enough, Scorpius' mother came gliding through a moment later, looking every bit the Malfoy she was. She was tall and lean, clothed in an off-white dress that had a green belt tied around her tiny waist, and rather tall black high-heeled shoes that were polished to a shine. Her hair, a cinnamon-coloured brown, was stylishly pinned up, while her make-up exaggerated her entire face until it almost popped out at Albus. All in all, she looked more like she was going to a wedding, than her own drawing room.
"Oh dear, I'm sorry I'm so late. I just had to throw something on quickly to greet our handsome new guest!" she spoke cheerily, her bright red lips spreading into an impossibly happy grin that looked entirely out of place next to her husband's unending frown.
Albus flushed in embarrassment, unused to Mrs Malfoy's cheery demeanour. He felt Scorpius nudge him and he remembered that he should stand to greet her. He bolted up off his chair and smiled hesitantly at her. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Mrs Malfoy," he said, recycling his words from before. It was the only greeting Scorpius approved of him saying.
"Oh, what a perfect, young gentleman!" she praised, giggling gleefully while pressing a small dainty hand over her heart, as if startled by Albus' words. "I'm the one that's pleased to finally meet you! The boy who's stolen my son's heart," she gushed overemotionally.
Albus stared at her, almost wincing at her cheesy choice of words, but quickly adopted a hesitant smile instead. Behind her, Mr Malfoy grimaced objectionably, and made a soft tutting noise. Obviously, it was still a sore point with him.
"Mother," Scorpius said, putting on a brave smile, "Perhaps you should sit down?"
"Oh, yes, quite," she agreed dazedly, sitting down elegantly on the single-sofa next to her husband's chair. Albus followed suit and perched himself back beside Scorp. He almost wished he could reach and grab onto his hand for support. He knew better than to, of course. "Now, how are you both?"
"We're fine. Busy with school work, I suppose, but who isn't," Scorp answered casually. "And how are you?"
"Wonderful, sweetheart. I spent a lovely morning having tea with Claire's and Andrea's mothers, telling them all about how you're coming to visit with Albus here—"
"Wait. You've told people?" Scorpius interjected, voicing both his and Albus' concerns.
"Of course," Mrs Malfoy replied, as if the very idea of keeping it a secret was absolutely preposterous. "Why wouldn't I? My son has finally found a boyfriend—it's front page news!"
Albus felt like hitting his head against the wall and he was certain Scorpius wanted to do the same. When they had decided to tell people of their relationship, they had only wanted to keep it in their close circles. Any further beyond that and it was sure to be subject to wild rumours and false gossip. After all, it wasn't every day that the sons of Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy would start a platonic relationship, let alone a romantic one.
"Mother," Scorpius said with exaggerated patience, "please don't tell people."
"Astoria," Mr Malfoy spoke up for the first time since she entered, "Scorpius is right. Not everyone needs to know."
Albus found it difficult to believe he was agreeing with Mr Malfoy, of all people.
"Why, this is absurd." She pouted her red lips in a frown. "This is happy news! Why should I keep it a secret? I'm sure if Scorpius wasn't queer, it wouldn't be a problem!"
Albus froze, taken aback by the unconcerned way she carelessly tossed the topic of Scorpius' sexuality around. He waited to see how Scorpius would respond to her insensitivity.
"Mother," Scorp ground out with a stiff jaw.
"Oh, darling, it's for your good," she said in a gentle voice.
"Astoria, why don't you go get us some tea," Mr Malfoy suggested, clearly uncomfortable with the direction the conversation had gone. He gave her a pointed look.
"Oh," she said, a little surprised, "All right." She stood and pranced out, head high.
"Scorpius," Mr Malfoy said, "why don't you accompany your mother?"
What? Oh god no, please no, Albus' mind began chanting when he understood what Mr Malfoy meant by suggesting Scorpius leave as well. He wants to speak to me alone!
"Pardon?" Scorpius squeaked, obviously as uneasy with the idea as Albus was.
"Help your mother; I want to chat with Albus," Mr Malfoy said in a voice that left no room for argument.
Scorpius flailed for a moment, looking from his father to Albus, but eventually conceded. There was no way he would win this one. Neither he nor Albus had any power to change it. Beaten, Scorpius stood, cast one long apologetic look at Albus and followed the path his mother took, leaving the room.
Watching his leave, Albus felt ever last shred of hope shrivel up in him, leaving him an empty shell of fear and misery. He wouldn't be leaving this room alive, he knew it. Within minutes, he would be dead—possibly decapitated—and Mr Malfoy would make sure that no one ever found the pieces of his body again.
Albus decided he didn't want to be the first to speak. His voice seemed to have temporarily abandoned him as he struggled to maintain eye contact with his would-be murderer.
After a long and extremely uncomfortable silence, Mr Malfoy said, "So, Albus, you seem to possess some kind of attraction to my son."
Albus blinked. His brain stalled at his straightforwardness and his tongue glued itself to the roof of his mouth. How do you even respond to something like that?
"Er ... yes ..."
"You seem unsure?" he said in that expressionless voice of his that was getting on Albus' nerves.
"I'm not," he replied swiftly.
"You're not," Mr Malfoy repeated plainly.
"Yes, I'm attracted to your son," Albus clarified for his sake, trying to decide on the quickest way to dig his own grave and make Mr Malfoy's job a lot easier.
"And does he like you?"
"I'm ... sure he does," Albus replied.
"Hmm." Mr Malfoy steepled his fingers across his lap and stared unblinking. Albus suddenly wondered if there was any way Mr Malfoy could have slipped some Veritaserum in his system in the time passed between his entering the house and right now. He had to remind himself that he had yet to consume anything. "How much would you say you like my son?"
Albus stared at him, almost unable to believe the questions he was asking. Was this guy serious? "A lot," he replied confidently. Was he expected to respond on a scale from one to ten? In the end, Albus decided to spill the whole truth and say, "I love your son, Mr Malfoy."
"Love?" he said in return, as if he didn't know such a word existed. Albus wouldn't have been surprised if he didn't.
"Yes. And he loves me," he added for good measure.
"I see," he murmured softly to himself. "And you ... intend to continue this relationship for ..." he trailed off, waiting for Albus to pick up the rest of the sentence.
" ... for a very long time, sir."
Mr Malfoy drove his hard stare into Albus. It felt almost physically painful, like a thick metal drill screwing into his forehead. Albus was agonizingly aware he was definitely not Mr Malfoy's favourite person.
"And what are your intentions?" the stern man asked after a while.
"My intentions?" Albus echoed in confusion.
"For my son."
The hell kind of questions were these? Albus resisted the temptation to scratch his head while he grappled with his mind to try and find the right words. When they had broken the news to his parents, sure they had been surprised, but they were content with sending a simple congratulatory letter in reply. No meeting necessary. But no, Draco Malfoy had written back asking them to visit at the soonest convenient time. Apparently, anyone who had the nerve to date Scorpius should also have the balls to face his dad.
"Well ..." he began eventually, "I want to do right by him ... He means a lot to me, so ... you don't need to be worried that I'd ever hurt him..."
Mr Malfoy nodded to himself, seeming to be content with Albus' answer. "And what do your parents think about all of this?"
Albus wet his lips. "Er ... well, they seem to be okay. In their letter, they said they were happy for us."
"And other students at school?" Mr Malfoy continued.
"What about them?"
"What do they think?"
"Oh, uh ... they're getting used to the idea. Actually, a lot of people are really intrigued about it all," he answered truthfully, casting his mind back to a few days ago when a trio of third-year Slytherin girls had walked up to him and Scorp and requested they kiss in front of them. One of them claimed it would be the most adorable thing in the world. Albus and Scorpius had decided against making-out in front of young girls.
"Intrigued?" Mr Malfoy repeated, prodding Albus for more information.
"Well ... because it's different ... Most people haven't seen ... a couple like us ..." he trailed off pathetically. For some reason, he didn't want to use words like gay or queer in front of Scorpius' father.
"Well, it's new to all of us, I assure you," he said in an unsympathetic tone. Albus couldn't understand why Mr Malfoy was having so much trouble coming to terms with the fact that his son was gay and in a relationship. Surely, after all this time he could at least accept it, if not support it.
Mr Malfoy went on: "I won't pretend to be fully comfortable with this, Albus, because I'm not. I've known Scorpius to be the way he is for most of his life now, but it doesn't make it any easier to know that he's suddenly in a relationship. I'm not in denial; I know it's not a phase and I know I can't change anything." He paused for a long moment, drilling his hard gaze into Albus' skull. He tensed his jaw unpleasantly. "I appreciate the happiness you've brought into my son's life. He has changed for the better, I cannot deny it."
The pause that result extended for such a long time that Albus began to wonder whether he was expected to say something or not. But eventually, Mr Malfoy continued, slowly and clearly, so there was no way Albus could miss the meaning behind his tone. "You are in a very privileged position, Albus. He is my only son and I love him dearly. If you do anything to hurt him—"
"I won't," Albus interrupted confidently.
"Nevertheless, if he ever regrets this relationship, I will hold you personally responsible and never let you forget it for the rest of your life. Never hurt my son. Is this clear?"
Albus nodded gravely, bizarrely pleased to hear that Mr Malfoy possessed some form of emotion after all. "I understand, sir, I do. But you should know that I treasure Scorpius higher myself. I ... I love him a lot, Mr Malfoy," he responded indisputably.
The silence this time stretched to half a minute, and all the while, Albus maintained eye contact with the older man, determined to show his resolve and confidence.
"Very well," Mr Malfoy announced when the silence ended. "I can't claim that anyone could ever deserve Scorpius, but I suppose you come close enough."
Albus decided that was about as close to a compliment he would ever get from Scorpius' father. "I agree with you, sir; Scorpius deserves the best," he said with a shadow of a smile of his face. "I'll try my hardest."
Mr Malfoy made an almost inaudible little grunt noise on his throat by way of a response.
"What did he say when I left?" Scorpius demanded from him as soon as they stepped out of the front door half an hour later.
Albus laughed. "That's between me and your dad," he replied, knowing it would infuriate Scorp.
As expected, Scorpius huffed out loudly. "That's ridiculous. He's my father and you're my boyfriend, and I have it on good authority you were talking about me, so I think I have a right to know," he reasoned. "And considering I didn't have to sweep up your remains into a rubbish bin, it must have gone somewhat well."
"It did," Albus responded vaguely.
Albus shrugged, and continued to walk straight forward, back down the hedged path. "And nothing. He asked questions, I gave him answers, we talked; end of story."
"What questions? What answers?" Scorpius burst out, throwing his arms around a little. "Come on, Albus, give me something."
Albus stopped walked and turned to face Scorpius. "You are too curious for your own good." He smiled and sighed softly. "Basically, I passed the test."
"My father had a test?" Scorpius asked, his eyebrows scrunching in a frown.
"Not a test test; not a literal one. But ... you know ... a metaphorical test," Albus replied, thinking he sounded a little stupid himself.
Scorpius blinked at him. "A metaphorical test," he echoed bluntly.
"What does that mean exactly?"
"It just means that he approves of me," Albus clarified.
"Really?" Scorpius asked, wide-eyed with shock. "He approves of you? I find that difficult to believe ..."
Albus shot him a dead-pan look, and said dryly, "Your faith in me is astounding." Then he scratched the back if his head. "Maybe approves is the wrong word. He said I come close enough."
Scorpius looked impressed. "Still a fairly good compliment," he opined.
"That's what I thought."
"So ... he's okay with the two of us?"
"More like ... he can only just barely tolerate the inkling of an idea that you and I can possibly be together," Albus amended.
Scorpius nodded, getting used to the idea. "That's enough for me. In fact, that's worlds better than what I was expecting. When he asked me to leave, I thought I'd never see you alive again for sure."
"You thought?" Albus said. "I thought he would hex my dick off!"
Scorpius chuckled, and grabbed onto Albus' hand as they neared the end of the pathway, where their Portkey was waiting for them. "I couldn't let that happen ... for my own sanity's sake," he teased.
Albus dropped his jaw in mock-offense. "Oh, so not because of the fact that I'd lose a very important body part and be in immense pain, but because of how it would affect you," he said. "Nice. Thank you for your concern."
Throwing his head back in laughter, Scorpius said, "Well, it's for your sake too. Remember your incentive for being extra polite?"
Suddenly, Albus' ears perked up. "I remember," he replied, smiling.
"It's for our mutual benefit," Scorpius articulated.
"And what's your verdict?" Albus asked.
"On how polite I was."
Scorpius leaned up to kiss Albus swiftly. "Very," he whispered.
Grinning wolfishly, Albus grabbed onto Scorpius and pulled him in until their chests were aligned. He connected their mouths for a much fuller and longer kiss.
"By my reckoning," Scorpius said when they separated, with a twinkle in his silver eyes, "we've still got a fair amount of hours left of this weekend. We could put them to good use."
"I love the way you think," Albus breathed, his eyes fixated on Scorpius' mouth. "Come on, let's get back to school."
He bent over to pick up a tattered old inconspicuous newspaper lying near the entrance gates of Malfoy Manor. Scorpius grabbed onto the other end of the mangled Portkey and held tight.
In the brief second before the Portkey activated, Albus and Scorpius shared a knowing look filled with longing and love and excitement for their road ahead together. Perhaps the future wouldn't be easy, but it would be well worth it.
This, Albus was sure of.
[Date finished: Sunday, 27 February 2011]