Chapter 4: I love you Albus Potter
Scorpius didn't know what was going on, but the terror washed over him. Albus was here. Scorpius couldn't deal with this and he knew it. As he sat in his father's study, which was almost never used because his lab was down in the depths of the manner, the stench of mildew and dust greeted him among stacks of parchment and leather-bound books. The desk which he sat in front of was fine-carved oak finished with a nice pine oil. Scorpius sneered at it.
Scorpius' thoughts wandered bitterly to the source of his agony. Albus Severus Potter hadn't been a problem until this year, but really, he hadn't been a problem then either. Scorpius ran his hands over his face. He felt the heat of his face as he often did when he thought of Albus, this hadn't been strange to him, he hadn't even realized that was something that he did until he thought of Albus as a source of pain.
Scorpius sighed painfully and then screamed into a hand clamped over his mouth. He felt the sting of threatening tears and couldn't have stopped them if they had fought him for control of his composure.
It had been their second year when they became friends. Albus had come into the house of Slytherin his first year and kept mostly to himself. Albus had come across as shy and careful and so most of the children in their year and even the older ones were wary of the Potter boy who'd been sorted to their house. Scorpius was as much or more of a loner than Albus Potter was and he found himself wanting several times to ask for the boy's friendship, but every time he found just enough courage, something always came up.
The night he'd finally gotten his chance was the third week back from summer break second year. Albus had somehow managed to sleep walk down to the entrance to the dungeons and woken the entire house with his carnal screams of pain. Scorpius hadn't realized what had happened for a few long moments and then when one of the older boys had sharply called out that it was Potter, something snapped Scorpius into quick action.
Scorpius Malfoy did not run often and so it was strange to realize he was doing so nearly half way down the stairs from the dormitories, he had to leap down the last steps to contain his momentum and stop from bumping into other members of the house who'd collected at the base of the stairs. Potter was no longer screaming, but whimpering. One of the other students, a girl named Bonnie Mercer who was a fifth year, had Albus hugged around the shoulders shaking him a bit.
Scorpius moved quietly and carefully through the crowd of surrounding students, when he reached the entrance, he carefully knelt down and took stock of the Potter boy, who's eyes were shut and Scorpius also noticed that he was cradling his right arm.
"What's happened?" He whispered, talking to the girl still holding Potter's shoulders.
"I think he was having a night terror." Bonnie said in the same hushed tone Scorpius had used. "I don't know if he's fully awake yet, but it looks like he may have broken his arm." Upon closer inspection Malfoy realized she was right, but also 3 fingers looked to be broken. "I've been trying to wake him gently, but he won't respond." She said her fingers moving along Albus' slumped shoulders.
"I can hear you." Albus said suddenly surprising both of them enough to cause their bodies to stiffen uncomfortably. Scorpius took note of how absolutely sad the voice sounded, full of shame and probably embarrassment Bonnie carefully adjusted her stance to better assist Albus.
"Albus, you need to go to the hospital wing." She said calmly. The smallish boy was breathing hard and was leaning over in a protective manner with his arm against his midsection. Scorpius didn't know what possessed him to speak, but the next thing he knew his own voice had cut through the darkened common room and surprised both himself and Albus Potter.
"I'll walk him there." Scorpius offered, unsure of why he was doing so. He hadn't even properly met the boy yet and he was offering to take a walk with him in this state? At this hour? Scorpius shook his head.
They both walked to the hospital wing in relative silence, Scorpius had assumed a helpful position partially behind Albus, guiding the boy with arms upon his shoulders, careful to ensure he didn't disturb the injured arm of the smaller boy. Scorpius finally could see him as he truly was, Albus was shorter, by a full head and slightly under his own shoulder line. Albus' hair was messy and dark with just a few highlights of red, his eyes were downcast and so Scorpius couldn't see them, but his face was strangely pinkish and pleasantly plump.
"Watch the step here." Malfoy spoke quietly into Albus' ear, eyes down watching Albus' steps to make sure he was alright. Albus stepped carefully and then whispered a nearly inaudible 'thank you.' They walked into the hospital wing which was softly lit in a warm yellow-orange of a single lamp.
The truth was though, that despite this introduction they didn't really become intimate friends. Albus' injuries were treated in silence after the nurse asked some questions and Scorpius had answered them. Albus didn't even invite Scorpius to stay with him in the hospital wing and so Scorpius walked back to the dungeons a little confused and dejected. Several weeks passed before he would again get his chance to interact with the Potter boy.
In their defense against the dark arts classes, the students wound up in pairs for a dueling demonstration. Scorpius and Albus turned out to be the most impressive of their classmates. It was a surprise to Scorpius who had wildly underestimated Potter before hand and had to rally himself halfway through the short match. The Slytherins clapped, amazed at their housemates and that's when Scorpius had seen the bright smile that so matched the green eyes of his opponent.
From that day on, they were friends of the deepest sorts. They exchanged any secrets and talked about school, home and all sorts of general rubbish. Scorpius noticed with a little bit of pride that also after that day Albus found some confidence in himself, the teacher having been so impressed with his skill had been nice, but the way Albus had smiled when Scorpius had placed a hand out in sportsmanship had caught the blonde off guard.
Albus found himself that day and soon, he carried a natural charisma that caused people to listen and care about things he had to say. A natural leader was discovered in Albus Potter and a willing house of Slytherins was an interesting prospect at times, especially when it came to house pranks.
Albus became the center of the Slytherin house without trying to and by proxy, Scorpius had become the second in command. Scorpius himself didn't care how he was perceived by others, but he was always sure to be at his best when around Albus Severus Potter.
The nature of the boy Albus Potter, who Scorpius would come to admire and then love deeply, was quiet, observant, kind, fierce, but also a little too sensitive at times. Though he only showed that side to Scorpius when they shared time alone. Albus didn't weep loudly, but his sobs shook him and his tears were a sign of deep troubles when they shown upon his cheeks, an overflow from the emotions carried in his eyes. Scorpius always made sure to put his arm around the boy's shoulders and allow him some comfort even though, he himself felt he couldn't empathize.
In their third year just before Albus' birthday, on an especially cold winter day, Scorpius learned what kind of boy Albus was. Scorpius had nightmares about that day at times. They had been leaving a class and were heading to an empty classroom to work on some experiment for Scorpius' advanced potions theory class. They had both heard a shriek for help.
"Help, someone help, please, anyone." Both boys bolted toward the sound. They stopped behind two girls who looked like first years, standing in front of the Whomping Willow. The tree was somehow angered.
"What are you two doing? Get away from there now!" Scorpius commanded.
"You don't understand," One of the girls pointed. "He's trapped in the tree and I think he's hurt."
It wasn't until he focused and saw the legs that he realized that there was some poor first year boy laying stuck near the base of the tree. Scorpius had no time to act, because with out so much a whisper of an indication, Albus' wand shot out from his robes and several very strong binding charms were cast. Albus darted quickly up and retrieved the panicked child. The charms snapped like ropes just as they both came free and the first year boy clung to Albus terrified.
"What in Merlin's name were you doing there?" Albus said, out of breath.
"They took my mum's book." The boy said sobbing hysterically. Scorpius watched with a distant interest. He still didn't realize how Albus had moved so fast or how he had conjured those strong binds so well. He'd have to ask later. "It was a picture book and they took it." The boy sobbed hopelessly. "They tol-, they said it was here in the tree." Albus had sat down now crossed legged, cradling the boy to his chest in a way that Scorpius figured provided some kind of comfort.
.The situation took hours to fully resolve and it wasn't until after they got back to the dungeons that Albus broke down, sitting on the side of his bed. The only words he could speak were,
"I hate bullies." The sound made Scorpius' heart hurt. Albus had absorbed that entire situation without breaking his furious expression, but Scorpius understood right away how much that had really taken out of him to wear that mask. He sat on the bedside with his friend, then thinking better of it, he stood.
"Albus, stand up." He said softly. Albus did so and then Scorpius stepped forward and embraced him softly. "It's alright if you cry, I won't tell anyone." Scorpius whispered those words fiercely not as a coaxing, but as a promise.
It was with some shock nearly a month later when Albus told Scorpius that he was gay. Scorpius hadn't been prompted by Scorpius, but he had spent almost an hour trying to explain about it. Scorpius waived him off with an uncaring glance about the topic. He was unconcerned with such things at the time. He cared for Albus, be him gay or straight or unicorn. The younger Potter was noticeably less nervous around him after telling him though and Scorpius figured that was a good thing.
Albus soon also came out to his housemates and they received him in a more enthusiastic and joking manner. One boy saying,
"It's all right if you look at my arse, it's pretty fantastic. I know it turns straight blokes gay." This was met with said boy being pelted with pillows. Life was better, but Albus also had another secret as these Slytherins would soon learn.
Albus took potions in secret and maintained a distance with people by the middle of his third year and he hadn't even told Scorpius until he'd been forced to ask for help. It had been all Albus could do not to cry out in pain as Scorpius helped him walk back to the dungeons from their DADA class Scorpius almost let Albus fall from his grasp as they entered the common room. Albus' eyes became wet with tears and Scorpius did all he could to make sure his friend got to his bed.
"Why aren't you telling anyone how bad you're hurting Severus?" Scorpius asked softly. He used Albus' second name when he wanted his attention. He watched as his friend tried in vain to sit up in a more dignified position, his face open to the pain that was sweeping through him.
"I can't!" Abus' voice was bitter and more than a little bit irritated. "They don't know why I'm having this pain anyway." Scorpius watched as Albus Potter's body tensed and he spilled new tears.
"Try to relax" Scorpius coaxed.
"Please shut up." Albus replied irritated.
"Alright, I'll go." Scorpius replied deeply hurt by the rejection of his kindness. Albus sighed as Scorpius left him alone. Later that day he returned to Albus being tended at his bedside by a nurse. He didn't make his presence known until he saw another two nurses in the room and realized they were preparing to take him out of the dormitories. He came in and Albus gave him a sad lonely look. Scorpius wished he knew how to convey comfort of some kind right then, but he just turned and acted as though he had something to do.
Albus had been gone for three full weeks even after the return from winter break. The Dungeons weren't the same without him and his lively personality and sense of mischief and the ability to smooth simple conflicts with a few words, everyone missed him, but not as much as Scorpius did.
He hadn't realized how much Albus had become a part of his own routine or how much he depended on Albus to keep his spirits up when classes became overbearing. Scorpius even found that sleep was troubling and it became worse as Albus missed more and more days and the rumors about his condition picked up, especially in the prophet. Luckily, he at least had Advanced Potions theory with James Potter and was able to be filled in on the actual story.
James was a rare type, most saw James as a bit of an egotistical jerk, but Scorpius had seen him in class and the oldest Potter was remarkably lacking in confidence in his own ability. He was extremely natural as a student and smart enough to succeed, he just saw himself as stupid and inferior to others. Scorpius found him easy to get along with and they became good friends in the class. Scorpius even had him as a partner on a few projects and learned of his unique ways of thinking, Scorpius almost wondered if he'd of become friends with Albus as deeply if he'd of met James first.
"Albus comes back tomorrow." James had said casually and wasn't surprised in the slightest to see Scorpius' seem to instantly become more attentive. He grinned to himself. "He's done well for about five straight days and so mum is sending him back tomorrow."
"Oh." Scorpius responded evenly, but a tightness had caused his breath to catch.
Scorpius found it extremely hard to concentrate after that and as the day progressed into night he found himself even more intensely excited by Albus' return. He was tossing and turning for most of the night and found himself woken by the first lights and noises of early morning only to be again taken by the irrational excitement he felt.
He was disappointed to realize that Albus' trunk had been unopened and his belongings untouched by the time Scorpius had his shower and gotten ready to go to breakfast. He felt as if he would burst with the tension he was feeling now and it became even harder to focus, even the teachers noticed his lack of attention as he went through his classes. Scorpius was swept up by the tension he felt as the day progressed and spent his free period in the library. He was trying to read, but his mind had wandered over the same paragraph over and over.
"Hello Scorpius," James Potter announced. The older Potter had come in search of the Malfoy boy and found him sitting at a table, book open, one hand smashed to his forehead and one hand pressed onto the book to hold his place. He made no indication that he'd heard James. James smiled mischievously. "Albus is back now, he should be down in the dungeons resettle-" And James was satisfied when Scorpius stood up in surprise and smashed his book carelessly into his bag and left without a word. James shook his head with a slight chuckle.
Scorpius didn't know what had possessed him or carried him so fast to the dungeons, but he had no clue what to expect when he saw Albus Potter again. He entered the door after a third try at the password, out of breath. He composed himself carefully and set his bag on a table in the common room. As he walked up to the dorms, Scorpius felt as though a short rope had been tied around his heart and he found it hard to think just now.
He made his way into the dorm Scorpius tried in vain to come up with something to say. He stood there, terrified in some fashion, he even felt a light sweat on his palms and the back of his neck. There in front of him, Stood Albus Potter. The Potter boy was unpacking his wardrobe carefully and took no notice of Scorpius for nearly a minute. Scorpius took in the view of his friend, really looking at him for the first time, he felt a blush, which was only made worse when Albus turned to faced him.
"Hello Scorpius," Albus said, giving no indication if Scorpius' sudden presence had startled him at all. Albus was smiling warmly and something about that hurt Scorpius, he didn't know why he felt it, but his heart constricted further and his breath caught. Albus seemed to notice something off and closed the distance between them. Scorpius felt more then saw Albus' hand reach up and touch his face. "You look tired Malfoy, are you alright?"
The next thing Scorpius did was hug his friend, softly so as not to cause pain. He took in the scent of Albus Potter. He took in the touch of Albus cheek to his, he felt the way Albus tensed and relaxed in his embrace. He breathed out and realized there were tears in his eyes. Scorpius couldn't stop them and just then, they didn't worry him as much as this moment with Albus.
"I missed you so much Albus." Scorpius found himself saying with a slight sob. He could feel Albus' confusion, but it only lasted for a few moments and the embrace was fully returned in kind.
"I missed you too, Scorpius." Albus' voice was gentle and seemed a little worried.
They pulled apart and stood there, face to face in awkward silence neither was sure how to continue after that unusual display of affection which they'd never shared before then. Scorpius found his face hot with a tense blush as he watched Albus sort through the emotions of their exchange and what happened next shocked both of them. Scorpius leaned in a kissed Albus' lips.
He didn't really know why he wanted to, or what it meant. It wasn't a long kiss just a short peck on the lips. This one moment changed the nature of their friendship. Albus panicked shortly after that, not sure if something had gone horribly wrong. Scorpius carefully reassured him with a more resolute and direct kiss, one the boy could not mistake.
Albus returned the kiss carefully and allowed Scorpius to lead the kiss. Albus' heart raced with his friend's and when they drew apart he smiled a stupid grin and couldn't help the laugh that escaped him, but Scorpius, unwilling to let the moment linger, pulled Albus into another hug.
"I love you Albus Potter." Scorpius felt the words and the second they left him, the tension that had caused him so much distress of the last few weeks disappeared. They were together and would remain so until that fateful night when Scorpius broke it off.
Draco entered his study and found his son sitting, slumped in a chair and took note of the way that changed when Scorpius became aware of his presence. Draco had a lot to deal with and so he didn't want this to take very long.
"We will be housing the Potter boy here in our home. I've been asked to treat him by his parents and we will offer every courtesy while I make that effort, is that understood?" He watched as Scorpius nodded, something was missing here. The reaction his son had given had been one of anger, or perhaps betrayal? Draco thought. He didn't have the want to sort it out and so decided to let it be. If these two had become rivals, Albus Potter had given him no indication of that, or that such arrangements might be a problem.
Draco hoped he wouldn't have to sort anything out, it might be too similar to his school rivalry with Harry Potter and he didn't want to open any of those wounds if he could avoid it. It was time to treat Albus Potter, not solve whatever hopeless issue divided two teenagers.
"May I be excused, Father?" The tone of irritation was a sore spot for Draco, his son carried that tone more and more with him now. Draco turned his back and waived his hand in a motion that let Scorpius Malfoy know he was indeed excused. "Thank you."
It wasn't until the door closed that Draco realized Scorpius had not answered in the affirmative about treating their guest properly. He'd ask Astoria to speak to the boy, she was always much better than him at these things anyway.