Title: Far From the Tree
Pairing: Scorpius/Albus Severus
Author's Note: So this is probably the longest fic I've ever written- and it's about the epilogue boys! Who woulda thought? I usually don't like either of those things, but here we are. Stick around for chapter 2 and lemony goodness. Enjoy! C&C welcome :)
Hogwarts was the best thing that had ever happened to Albus Potter.
At home he had been a nervous, sensitive child. Everything worried him—James worried him, the garden gnomes worried him; even his own birthday worried him.
What if I invite lots of people and nobody shows up? What if I don't invite Hector and he finds out and gets mad? What if I do invite him and he makes fun of me again and I cry? What if someone's allergic to my cake? Oh, my god, what if someone dies at my party?
The only things that didn't make him worry were his parents and books. His parents loved him, and they understood Albus's many concerns about the world. They never teased him. And books—well, there's not much to worry about in a book, is there? Albus read because he liked being the observer for once, watching other people worry.
But then he went to Hogwarts. And magically (it had to be magic), Albus didn't get so nervous anymore. How could one possibly be worried when there's so much magic to learn?
He was sorted into Ravenclaw, and became the first person in his entire family to not be in Gryffindor. But he didn't mind. There were people like him in Ravenclaw—people who nitpicked and planned and organized their days in half-hour increments. And there was also his best friend, who had a talent for rationalizing away any worried thoughts that managed to pop into Albus's head.
"We have our Defense Against the Dark Arts exam tomorrow morning, Score."
"But it's so early. Like, seven in the morning. What if I don't wake up in time?"
"Then I'll be sure to wake you up before I leave."
"Yeah, I know, but… but what if you oversleep too?"
Scorpius Malfoy lowered the book he was reading and peered at Albus over the top of it. One of his eyebrows was raised.
"Then we'll be late to the exam."
"Don't say that!" Albus squeaked. "We can't be late. And— oh god—what if we sleep through the entire exam?"
Scorpius put the book down completely and grabbed his friend's shoulder.
"Look at me, Albus. You are not going to be fucking late, okay? All four of us in the dorm are going to be up at that ungodly hour to take the stupid exam, and as far as I know, neither of our roommates secretly hate us. They wouldn't let us sleep through it."
"And, if every single one of us manages to oversleep a full three hours and we miss the exam completely, I'm sure our professor would understand that it was a fluke and would let us reschedule. Okay?"
Finally, Albus smiled. "Okay."
Scorpius shook his head in good-natured disbelief, a half-smile on his lips. "Really, Al, what would you do without me?"
When Albus had gone home for his first holiday and told his family that he was best friends with Scorpius Malfoy, his father had burst out laughing. That took Albus by surprise—he'd always heard from Uncle Ron and the other Weasleys that his and Scorpius' fathers had not exactly gotten on during their school years. In fact, some of the stories that went around made it seem as if they'd been mortal enemies.
So he hadn't really expected his father to laugh. "But I thought you and Scorpius' dad hated each other while you were at school," Albus said, looking up at his father.
Harry stopped laughing and peered at Albus thoughtfully. "Well, we did. He did some pretty terrible things to my friends and I—but we didn't treat him any better. And you have to remember that Draco was raised in a family of Death Eaters, and he was forced into that lifestyle. Voldemort practically held dinner parties at his house, for God's sake. He turned out a lot better than most people would have, considering his circumstances."
Albus's eyes were wide with wonder. "Wow. Scorpius never really talks about any of that. I had no idea his family was so involved with the war."
"Then it's probably better if you keep it that way. If Scorpius doesn't want to talk about his family's past, you should respect that. After all, we know firsthand that just because you come from a Dark family doesn't mean you're evil, too."
"Yeah. Like Uncle Sirius."
Harry nodded. "Yes, exactly like Uncle Sirius. He would have wanted me to give Scorpius a chance—so I don't mind if you're friends with him, Al. You can even have him over, if you'd like."
Albus broke out into a huge grin. The sight of it on a face that was usually drawn with worry filled Harry's heart with warmth.
"Hey, Score, do you ever wonder why we're friends?"
Albus and Scorpius were lying on Scorpius's bed, reading Muggle comic books that Aunt Hermione had brought back from visiting her parents.
"No," Scorpius replied, not even looking up from his comic. "We're both in Ravenclaw, we both want to be wandmakers, and we both like Batman comics way better than Superman. It'd be stupid to not be friends."
Albus just stared. Sometimes, he wasn't sure if he loved or hated his friend's dry, logical approach to things. He really was a strange kid—for all of his poise and wit, he would sometimes erupt into fits of ungraceful laughter at the oddest little things. Once, when Rose Weasley had told a lame joke about some guy on a bike ("Why did John fall off his bike? … Because somebody threw a fridge at him!") Scorpius laughed for days. It was so strange to see his usually blasé face split open with a smile. Albus loved it.
Presently, there was no such smile on Scorpius's face. He eyes were flitting from panel to panel, and he was biting slightly on his lip—a bad habit he had when he was concentrating.
"Well, yeah, but you know—didn't our dads use to like, hate each other?"
"They did," said Scorpius, turning to the next page. "My father told me that your dad was a rule breaker, arrogant, and always got him in trouble."
"What?" sputtered Albus.
"He also said that he regrets not being friends with him."
Albus's face softened. "Oh." He stuck his nose back in his comic, but he didn't focus on the words at all.
"Well, good," he said, his words muffled in the pages. "Because I don't hate you."
Scorpius snorted. "Yet another reason why we're friends."
As the years went on, Albus and Scorpius became inseparable. The Hogwarts staff who had been around in their fathers' days thought it the most uncanny thing—two children who looked almost identical to Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter, traipsing around the school practically arm-in-arm; the best of friends. For the first year, Hagrid's and Mcgonagall's heads whipped around whenever they heard the names "Potter" and "Malfoy" in the same sentence, ready to break up a fight. It took awhile before they realized that they weren't going to find one without the other, and never a hostile word between them.
Some people even thought they were too close. They were almost like the Weasley twins had been— glued together, from sunup to sundown, finishing each other's sentences and communicating without words.
When people asked Scorpius why he was never alone, he seemed baffled. "Why would I want to be alone when I could be with Albus?" He didn't seem to grasp the concept of needing time to oneself. His time alone always included his dark-haired friend.
Albus wasn't quite so calm and rational about it. Why did he want to be around Scorpius all the time? When he was asked that, he always got flustered. He didn't like it when people questioned him. It made him feel as if he were doing something wrong. Wanting to be around Scorpius wasn't wrong, was it?
"James teased me today. About always being around you."
"Well—why do people think it's so weird?"
Albus was perched on the edge of a deep blue armchair in the Ravenclaw common room. Instead of sitting, he was crouching, his knees drawn up to his chest and his arms around them. His big green eyes stared soulfully across the rug at Scorpius, who gave a strange, barking laugh.
"You look like an owl." His face was crinkled up, holding back the rest of his laughter.
"Scorpius!" Albus whined. "I'm serious. Why do people always tease us so much?"
"Okay, okay. Sorry. I don't know why they tease us. People usually tease others when they're jealous, or feel their social structure is being threatened. Maybe we're very threatening."
Albus couldn't help but grin at that.
"But you shouldn't let them get to you, Al. I mean, it's not like you're in love with me or anything—"
Albus's heart skipped a beat.
"—we're just good friends. James always fights with all of his friends—he's probably just jealous of you."
"Right," Albus whispered. He could barely get the word out for all the pressure that was building up inside his chest. It felt as if a horde of Hagrid's radioactive flutterbies had spawned in his belly, and were trying to fight their way up out of his mouth.
Love. "It's not like you're in love with me or something." Ohmigod, I've never thought of that before. What if I'm in love with him? How do I know? Holy shit. If I'm in love with him, that means I'm—that'd mean I were gay. Are you even allowed to be gay if you're a wizard?
Scorpius was waving his hand in front of Albus's face, which seemed to have frozen.
"Al, you're getting locked on."
Albus shook his head forcefully. The color had drained from his face.
"I think I'm gonna be sick," he said, and ran off to the loos.
Scorpius knew, of course, what had made his friend lock up. He was good at reading people, and even better at reading his best friend. But Albus was terrible at knowing his own self, since his mind was so filled with irrational fears and hypothetical situations that nearly crowded out his real feelings. But that was why he had Scorpius—Scorpius knew him inside and out, so Albus didn't have to.
And Scorpius had known it for a while. He'd had hints in the beginning—Albus was so sensitive, and caring, and had spent his whole childhood playing dolls and dress-up with his sister while James was out terrorizing the town on his broomstick. He never talked about anything lewd, even though they had gotten into their fourth year already.
So Scorpius suspected. But the real giveaway was when, last summer, Scorpius mentioned that his father wanted him to go visit a family friend in Bulgaria to meet their daughter—essentially, to explore a potential marriage. He and Albus had been writing regularly, but suddenly Al's letters had stopped coming. When Scorpius came to visit him the week before school, Albus was a mess. The entire house was immaculately clean (Albus had OCD, and often dealt with stress by organizing), and his parents remarked to Scorpius that he had been unusually fretful this summer.
Albus had greeted him nervously, stumbling over his words more than usual. He hadn't been hostile—after all, Albus didn't even know that he was angry—but he was off-kilter and more obsessive than Scorpius had ever seen him. That first night, when they were settled down in the bunk beds in Albus's room, Scorpius had gently called down to Albus below him.
"Yeah?" The voice was small and muffled.
"I'm not going to marry that girl. I only went to please my father. I don't want to marry anyone, not for a long time."
He didn't say anything more, but the next day, Albus was back to normal. That was when Scorpius had first realized that his friend's feelings for him went beyond their strangely close friendship—Albus just didn't know yet.
So Scorpius had been waiting for a chance to slip the idea into Albus's head. He felt a little bad, though, because he knew it would give Albus a lot of suffering while he figured it out. But although Scorpius was very close to being perfect (hey, he might not be in Slytherin, but he was still a Malfoy), he was only human. He didn't want to be the only side in a one-sided relationship anymore.
So he planted the idea in Albus's head, and waited to see what would come of it.
Albus raised his head from the cold porcelain of the toilet, reaching feebly up to flush away the contents of his stomach. His head was spinning.
It's not like you're in love with me or something.
He had never even considered that before. Scorpius was his friend, and they got along well, and so they spent a lot of time together. And so Albus thought about him often.
Actually, Albus had never really thought about how much time he actually spent thinking of the blonde boy. Now that he did, he realized it was quite a lot. But—wasn't that normal? If you spend every second with someone, won't you wind up thinking about them all the time too?
But is that normal? How do I know if that's normal? What if it's not? What if I'm not? What if I really am gay, and I love my best friend, and everyone finds out? Will I get expelled? Will Mom and Dad still love me? What if they kick me out?
And, suddenly, a thought even worse than those:
What if I do love him, but he doesn't love me back?
Over the next few days, the castle became inexplicably tidier than anyone had ever seen it.
"Albus Potter, what are you doing in my private stores?"
Albus froze, his hand still clutching a small potted plant. He turned slowly to face his accuser.
"I—I'm sorry, Professor Longbottom, I, er—I just noticed that there was a bit of dirt on these shelves…"
Neville raised his eyebrows. "Albus… this is a greenhouse. There's dirt everywhere."
"I know," Albus groaned. "But you don't understand. I—I can't stand it when things are messy. It'd be fine if the whole shelf were covered in dirt, but only half of it was, and I didn't want to put more dirt on so I had to clean it off. And then I had to clean the rest of the shelves so that—so that they'd all be the same…" he trailed off, looking meek and miserable.
Neville reached out a hand and patted Albus on the shoulder, his face sympathetic. When he spoke, his voice was gentle.
"Your dad told me that you have some, er… trouble when you're worried. So… is everything okay?"
Albus just stood there, lip trembling, looking as if he were about to cry.
"I… I…" He couldn't get any words out, and just looked at Neville helplessly. Neville patted him again, awkwardly (he'd never been good with kids, and didn't have any of his own), and then suddenly snapped his fingers.
"I've got it—here, I think…" he mumbled, fumbling around in the pockets of his robes. With a triumphant "A-ha!" he pulled out a Honeydukes chocolate bar, the wrapper slightly crumpled from being toted around. He handed it to Albus, grinning.
"This always picked your dad right up. Go on, be off with it."
"Thanks, Professor," said Albus, looking a little less dejected. As he was walking away, Neville called after him.
"Oi! Albus—good luck with whatever's bothering you!"
Albus was actually smiling as he walked back to the castle, and, even more surprisingly—
—he walked straight past a crooked painting without even stopping to cringe.
Scorpius noticed that night that Albus had finally snapped out of his week-long malaise. He was glad of it, too—although he hadn't felt bad when he first brought up the whole love thing, he hadn't expected Albus to get this obsessed about it. He'd felt terrible, watching his friend stumbling through the castle and snapping at anyone who moved the common room chairs out of their 90-degree angle positions.
"So you're looking a lot better, mate." Scorpius commented off-handedly, as he pulled back the curtains on his four-poster to get into bed. The other two Ravenclaw boys were still downstairs studying. He and Albus were, as usual, the first to turn in. ("Early to bed, early to rise, early to jinx out some Muggle's eyes!" his mother always sing-songed at him.)
"Yeah," Albus said, as he did the same. "Actually, Score, I—I have something to talk to you about."
"Oh, jeez, is it about the Transfiguration thing again? I already told you, no matter how badly you fudge your cat-to-dog transformation, McGonagall will be able to put it right again. It won't get stuck as some horrible cat-dog creature, I promise."
Albus bit his lip, frowning. "No, this is serious."
"Oh, and the transfiguration thing wasn't?" Score mumbled under his breath. "I could've sworn you were about to start crying… Okay," he raised his voice, "What's up?"
The dark-haired boy was sitting cross-legged on his bed, both hands worrying the frayed edge of his blanket. His big, green eyes stared at Scorpius.
I swear, he really is part owl. It's like he's staring into my soul, Scorpius thought.
"I… so, er, do you remember last week, when I was really off about James teasing me? And you said he's probably just jealous?" Albus looked at Scorpius expectantly.
"Yes, I remember."
"Well… and then, do you remember what you said after? That—that it's not like… it's not like I'm in love with you or anything?" His voice was quavering.
"I, er… I've been thinking about that a lot."
Now it was Scorpius's turn to look expectant. But Albus didn't go on. He just sat, staring and pulling on that blanket. The silence drew on, and as Albus didn't show any intention of elaborating any further, Scorpius had to poke it out of him.
"You think about everything a lot, Al," he said flatly.
Albus looked crushed. For a moment, Scorpius felt bad—but this was how you had to handle Albus when he was like this. You couldn't just go straight for the point or he'd clam up like a freakin'… clam-uppy thing. Wow, that was a brilliant simile.
"Right." Albus took a deep breath, drawing Scorpius back to the situation at hand. "But like… like, I've been thinking about it, and what if... what if I… am? What if I am in love with you? How do I know?"
This was so like him. Most people would find it strange to try and figure out if they like someone by actually asking that person—but it was so Albus. He reasoned everything out with Scorpius; why should this be any different?
It was an awkward situation, certain—especially since Scorpius had put himself in it. But as awkward as it was, Scorpius had been waiting for this conversation. Had been aching for it, for the moment when the true feelings between them could be realized.
But he had to be delicate about it. Albus was fragile. He couldn't reveal himself just yet.
"Have you never liked someone before?" Scorpius asked, his face masking any deeper emotion than curiosity.
Albus shook his head. "No, I mean, I don't think so. I like my family, and I like some of my teachers… I like you, of course, and I like some of the other students. But that's not like like, I know that. The only… I mean, I know I love my family. And I know I like you more than anyone else, ever. But I've never even had a friend before I came to Hogwarts, you know? So how do I know if I love you, or if this is just what friendship feels like?"
Close. But not yet.
"Well, if you're trying to identify something but don't have anything to compare it to, you turn to second-hand observations. Would you like my personal accounts?"
"Well," Scorpius began slowly, "before I came here, I had a friend that I played with at Malfoy Manor. She was the daughter of another family friend. They come to visit quite often, and we would play the whole time. It was a lot of fun. But when I came to Hogwarts, she went off to Beauxbeautons. I missed her, of course, but life goes on.
I've been in love, too. And it's different. It's like friendship, but more. You know it's love, because—because you're filled with them. When you're not with them, your heart aches. You worry about them. There's never a time when you don't want to see them—even when you're fighting, or sad, or irritated by each other—because you know that they're the only one who can make it better. You can't bear the idea of being without them. It hurts.
And there's… well, there's the physical part, too. When you love someone, you want to be with them. You want to be as close as you can. Thinking about them makes you, you know, excited and stuff."
Albus cocked his head to the side. "What do you mean?"
Scorpius gave an exasperated sigh. "Do I have to say it? Like, you think about them when you're having a wank, and stuff."
"Oh my god, Scorpius!" Albus shrieked. "Don't talk about that! I've never done that!" His cheeks were furiously red.
Scorpius raised an eyebrow at that. Is he really so innocent that he's never done that before? His pants twitched.
"You asked me what I meant!" he huffed; faking vexation to cover up anything else he was feeling. "Anyway, there. That's the difference between liking someone as a friend, and liking them as something more. Okay? Does that help?"
For a moment, it seemed as if Albus had forgotten what they were talking about, so distracted he was by the mention of pervy things. But then his face got serious again.
"When I'm not around you, like during the summer and winter breaks and even if you're late to class—it's like my heart just sinks, and there's like, this emptiness until I see you again. And that one time, when I thought you were going to marry that girl, I just about died. I thought it was just 'cause without you I'm bored, but—but maybe it's something else."
The two boys locked eyes. They both tried not to breathe, as each breath was like thunder in the silence between them.
Albus looked away first. "But I'm not sure about the… the physical stuff. You know I don't really think about that…"
Scorpius, who was on the edge of his own bed by this time, stood up. He slowly made the two or so steps it took to close the distance between them, and stood now at the edge of Albus's bed. Albus was still sitting cross-legged, and looked up at his friend. He thought he should be worried about what was going to happen—but the nervous what-if's, usually clamoring frantically over each other in his mind, were gone. He was content to wait and see.
Scorpius looked down at Albus on the bed. He had been waiting for this for so long—was there ever a time when he hadn't wanted to reach out and touch this boy? Wanted to put his hands in that dark hair, run his fingers down those slender arms, feel those lovely, soft lips on his.
Ever since he was little, his father had told him stories about Harry Potter. Great, brave stories. "So that you won't feel like you have to hate him if you meet him," his father said. "Like I did." So Scorpius grew up like the rest of the little wizarding boys and girls—idolizing the Chosen One, the hero of the war.
And then on the first day of school, the Sorting Hat had put him in Ravenclaw. Scorpius felt lost—his entire family had been in Slytherin, and he secretly worried that maybe the Sorting Hat had made a mistake.
But then the name, "Potter, Albus Severus," was called, and Scorpius watched the child of his hero walk up to the stool. He couldn't believe his eyes. It was like the boy from his father's stories had walked right out of his imagination and into the hall—his hair was black and untidy, and his eyes were a brilliant green.
He was so lost in the amazing image of Albus that he almost didn't hear the Sorting Hat shout out, "Ravenclaw!" But the little boy bounded over to the table, his table, and fell down into the seat next to him.
Those green eyes stared up at him, as deep and sharp and shining as jewels, and a smile broke out across his little face. "Hi," he said, and just like that—Scorpius was gone, yet another victim of those eyes.
As they got to know each other, Scorpius realized that this boy was not like the hero from his father's stories. Albus was timid, spent most of his time buried in a book, and fell off his broomstick the first day of flying lessons and never got back on. But the spirit was the same. Draco had told Scorpius that Harry Potter had a way with people—a way of making everyone's smiles come easy. That was just like Albus. And in time, Scorpius came to love all of his friend's idiosyncrasies. Harry Potter didn't matter to him anymore. He had something much, much better—something real.
He didn't know it was love then, but he knows now. And he answers his own question—no. There was never a time since he set foot in this castle when he hasn't wanted to be with this boy.
His father would be furious. Not because of the fact that it was Harry Potter's son—but just the fact that it was a he. Who would carry on the family line? Who would pass down the noble name of Malfoy?
But as he cupped Albus's chin in his hand, and bent his head down to meet his friend's trembling lips, none of that mattered. Would never matter, really. He would sooner set fire to the entire Malfoy mansion than push this boy away from him. The soft wetness of his lips, the heat from the squirming body beneath him—it was better than any promise of fame or fortune.
After an eternity had passed (an entire four-second eternity), Scorpius drew back. He searched Albus's face for a reaction—hopefully not disgust or anger, but he could deal with those if he had to. He had gambled.
Albus opened his eyes, slowly. Once again, they stared at each other—Scorpius was shaking with apprehension, and Albus was, for once, still as a deer in headlights. If the silence had been heavy before, it was suffocating now, rolling over them like the current beneath waves.
"Okay," breathed Albus. "I think I love you."
It was like a happy ending from a movie. Scorpius broke out into a grin, put his arms around the dark-haired boy, and they fell back on the bed. They laughed and kissed and didn't even care when the other boys burst in—Scorpius pulled the hangings shut and he and Albus stayed in their world of eyes like emeralds and storms, new hands, new happiness—new love.
"Who were you in love with?"