Title: Five Firsts and One Last
Content: Explicit sex between 17-year olds, character death (not Al or Scorpius).
Word Count: ~3,600
Summary: Their 'firsts' are never quite what they expect, but they all add up to brilliant.
Notes: Written for asnowyowl. Much love to Elsa for the beta.
Five Firsts and One Last
i. First Glance
You're eleven (going on fifty, your daft grandmother says) the first time you board the train, itchy with excitement and from the too-stiff collar of the shirt Mother forced you to wear. The other kids give you wide berth, and it reminds you of your very first trip to Diagon Alley. You think of the way their eyes slid from your face to your hand-tightly clutching Father's-to his left forearm, the Mark hidden beneath bespoke robes and layers of feigned indifference.
You hate that you look so much like him.
You don't remember a time when you didn't have something to be ashamed of or something to prove, and your hope that such a time finally might have arrived is dashed the moment you slide open the door of a half-empty compartment only to be told it's full. You pretend not to hear snickering as you shut it again, pretend the kids in the next compartment won't be such wankers.
You pretend your way down the corridor, increasingly panicked, until you reach the penultimate door. It's open, and you're about to summon what little courage you have left and ask for a seat when you catch an eyeful of ginger hair, a glimpse of a scarlet and gold jumper, and you realise you've stumbled, all too literally, into a lion's den. You step backward too fast and crash into the passing trolley, tumbling arse over kettle and landing in a mess of pumpkin pasties; chocolate frogs hop away in all directions. Every compartment door flies open; amidst the scolding from the trolley witch and the howls of laughter filling the carriage, you glance up, your face burning. The sole non-ginger in the proximate compartment is staring at you from beneath a mop of black fringe-not with pity, or scorn, but with something akin to compassion.
The laughing boy sitting opposite him flicks his wand at the door, slamming it shut.
ii. First Flight
You manage to sort Slytherin, but only because you beg the Hat not to put you in Gryffindor as it wished to do, thinking it's too early in your Hogwarts career to disappoint Father quite that badly. You regret your decision when the black-haired boy-Al Potter, you now know-sorts what would have been your house immediately thereafter. You think you might even have been willing to suffer gingers for a chance to be near him.
You get that chance in flying class. You're standing beside him when old Madam Hooch blows the whistle; at your very first Up, the broom flies straight into your hand, much to everyone's surprise. Al's barely turns over, no matter how hard he implores it to obey.
"Want help?" you mutter, unable to believe the son of the Saviour could possibly need your help with anything. He nods. You raise his broom with your free hand and he climbs on, shaking with fear.
"I'm afraid of heights," he confesses sotto voce, and if a crueler handicap exists for a child of the Harpies' star Chaser and the youngest Hogwarts Seeker in a hundred years, you can't think what it might be. "What if I fall off?"
"Don't be scared," you whisper back. "Hold on to me."
He swallows hard. "I will."
When Hooch gives the signal, you rise slowly, a bit jerkily, side by side on your brooms; he clutches your arm in a death grip. He looks down at the ground like he's going to vomit.
"Look at me," you tell him. "It's going to be fine."
He does, and his face turns from green back to normal. When you smile at him to reassure him, he smiles back.
iii. First Kiss
You make the Quidditch team second year-a feat Father manages to ruin by promptly purchasing Slytherin a fleet of new brooms, creating the impression he bought you your spot. Regardless, the kids who wouldn't sit with you on the train suddenly all want to be your best friend.
Your popularity problems are over, but you're still surrounded by wankers.
Al comes to all your matches, even the ones you're not playing against Gryffindor. He sits with his house, but he doesn't cheer when they score, even though his brother's a Beater and two of his cousins are Chasers. You start looking for him every time you catch the Snitch, because the accolades you get from your fellow Slytherins are as nothing to the furtive thumbs-up Al gives you.
Slytherin takes the House Cup. You don't feel happiness so much as relief that you made it through your second year without any catastrophes (you still wish you could be Obliviated of the trolley incident). The Gryffindors are all walking around like zombies after the leaving feast, depressed and dejected, save one.
"Hey." Someone taps your shoulder on your way to the dungeons. You turn around; Al Potter's staring at you, his eyes impossibly bright.
"Hey." You want to apologise for besting his house, but he doesn't seem the least bit sad about it. His cheeks flush pink.
"Wanna see something cool?"
You should say no. The rest of your team is celebrating Slytherin's victory in the common room; there's no chance your absence won't be noticed.
You don't give a damn.
He takes your arm and leads you through the castle and up a winding staircase; the higher you go, the more trepidation you feel. Doesn't he realise where he's taking you? Doesn't he care about all...that?
Apparently not, because you emerge through a door onto the observation deck of the Astronomy Tower-the last place on earth a Potter and a Malfoy have any business fraternising. He conjures two pillows; you lay down side-by-side, staring up at the stars.
"Meteor shower," he whispers, pointing. You follow his outstretched finger, and your breath catches; you're certain you've never seen anything more beautiful in your life.
Except for the boy lying next to you.
"This is the tallest tower," you say, trying to disguise the shaking in your voice. "I thought you were afraid of heights."
"I am," he says, his voice equally unsteady. "But it's okay. I'm looking at you."
He kisses you, his mouth warm and soft and every dream come true you never knew you'd dreamt, and you're so lost in the bliss that you don't hear the door open and shut, don't hear the footsteps coming closer. You don't notice anything until rough hands are jerking the two of you apart and you're staring up at Al's older brother.
"How'd you find us?" Al demands.
"Marauder's Map," he says, brandishing a folded piece of ancient parchment. "Wait till Dad hears about this."
iv. First Dance
Al's dad does hear about it, of course, and the rest of his family, and soon, it seems, the entire wizarding world. Father can't decide which is worse, having a queer in the family or that said queer snogged a Potter. Mother tries to assuage his horror by assuring him you were just "experimenting." Grandfather leaves the room whenever you walk in, retiring to his study to drink himself into a stupor.
You listen, day and night, for the flutter of wings outside your window. It never comes.
Your birthday is a joyless affair, except Grandmother slips you a small shiny box wrapped with a bow, a sly smile on her lips. You open it in your room that night; inside lies a pair of two-way mirrors. You replace the lid and chuck it in your dressing table drawer, knowing she hadn't meant any harm, but you curse the dementia that's rapidly stealing her powers of reason. You haven't a true friend in the world anymore; to whom would you give one of the mirrors?
Still, when school starts again, you toss it in your trunk. Just in case.
Autumn passes slower than one of Professor Binns's lectures. Al doesn't come to your games anymore, doesn't steal glances at you from across the Great Hall like he once did. Al's brother ends your Quidditch season prematurely with a well-aimed Bludger; you spend three days recuperating in the infirmary. Al doesn't visit you.
You wonder how old Madam Pomfrey can possibly pronounce you "fully recovered" with a gaping hole in your chest where your heart is supposed to be.
You're too young to go to the Yule Ball, not without an older date, but you ask to stay at Hogwarts over the hols anyway. You can only bear Father's perpetual disappointment from a distance, and barely even then.
You don't let yourself dwell too much on the fact that your parents readily acquiesce to your request.
You're wandering the halls the night of the Ball and see a pair of figures kissing beneath some mistletoe. You draw near and see that it's Al in dress robes, with the prettiest Hufflepuff in fourth year. They break apart when they see you.
You turn and run, blinded by tears, not stopping when you hear Al calling your name.
You don't look up when he says it again ten minutes later, softer this time. You're sitting on the floor of the observation deck, your face buried in your arm.
"How'd you find me?" you say, your voice breaking like a damned fool's.
"Just a guess." He drops to the floor beside you. You venture a glance at his face; he looks utterly miserable. "I'm sorry."
"For snogging a girl?" Your laugh is short, bitter. "Like I care."
"I'd rather be snogging you." He takes a deep, shuddering breath. "I miss you. A lot."
You can't look at him. If you do, you might die. Or dare to live again. "I thought you'd forgotten about me."
"Never," he says, his breath ghosting your cheek, and you can't help it; you turn your lips to his. The kiss is slow, careful, and you half expect to be jerked apart again, but Al's brother must be too busy snogging his own date to be keeping tabs on Al. That kiss is Dittany for your soul, and you're terrified because now you're well and truly fucked; you can't ever go back to not having this again.
You pray he can't, either.
He stands and helps you to your feet; music drifts up from the Great Hall, far below. He pulls you close, and nothing matters anymore except his heart beating against your chest as you sway slowly back and forth, your fingers laced together.
"Hold on to me," you murmur.
"I will," he says, and you actually believe him this time. "Happy Christmas."
To your astonishment, it is.
v. First Love
You wait a whole week to give him one of the mirrors, just to be sure he's not going to disappear again. There's an informal New Year's Eve party for the students who stayed, though, and when he kisses you at midnight, not caring who's watching, every doubt you had about him vanishes.
You cheerfully ignore the Howler that arrives from Father the next morning.
Summer comes far too quickly, and those mirrors are your lifeline. You're forbidden to owl or firecall each other, but in your bedroom, under the covers late at night, you can breathe again. You trace the shape of his face on the glass, unable to believe your great good fortune in finding each other at such a vulnerable age. The vagaries of adolescence hardly matter; you're fourteen and in love, and the rest of the world can sod itself.
You can barely contain your joy when September first rolls around, and you spend the ensuing months reacquainting yourself with the smell of his skin, the softness of his hair between your fingers. Al managed to squeeze in some personal research over the summer between Arithmancy tables and History of Magic essays; he shows you the gay porn magazine he nicked from his uncle's old bedroom. You take turns acting out some of the tamer scenarios, gradually losing both your revulsion to the taste of semen and your gag reflex.
You're so busy with school and Quidditch and being in love and your early experiments with sex that you forget to reply to Grandmother's owls; her letters are full of nonsense anyway, gibberish about the albino peacocks in full bloom, punctuated by strangely lucid observations on life and the nature of love. She asks if you're still putting those mirrors to good use (you wonder how she knew you've used them at all), and you keep meaning to write back and tell her, because in retrospect that gift is one of the greatest treasures you've ever received, but each day flies by with such alarming speed that you never quite manage to find the time. You're going to see her again soon anyway, over Christmas hols, so you tell yourself it's all right.
You're completely unprepared when Mother walks into the Great Hall one morning in November while you're eating breakfast, eyes red and face drawn. You immediately know the worst must have happened, but when Mother puts her arms around you in a totally uncharacteristic display of tenderness and whispers, "Oh, Scorpius," you realise the worst is even worse than you thought.
The suicide note is short and sweet, if a knife in the heart can be called such; something about wanting to leave this life on her own terms, before the dementia robbed her of everything she held dear. There's a couple of lines therein directed to you, you're told-exhortations to be brave and follow your heart-but you're too distraught to read them. You keep it together through the funeral-for Mother's sake, you tell yourself-and when you return to Hogwarts, you tell Al you need some space, just for a couple of days. He gives it to you, of course. You knew that he would.
You're fine, in fact, until you reach into your bedside table drawer later that night, searching for something or other, and accidentally pull out the shiny box that once contained those mirrors. The dam breaks; you find yourself on your knees at three a.m. in front of the Fat Lady's portrait, sobbing so hard you can't form words. The Fat Lady disappears from her frame, and one minute later Al is stepping through the portrait hole, arms outstretched. He drops to his knees and holds you, rocking you back and forth and stroking your hair while you cry and cry, unable to imagine how you'll live without the one person who always loved and accepted you unconditionally, the depths of whose devotion you fathom only now that she's gone.
vi. Last Goodbye
Time doesn't heal the wound left by her absence, but other things do: the routine of school, the escape of Quidditch, the comfort of Al's steadying presence. One day you wake up and realise you haven't cried in two weeks. Three days later, you laugh out loud.
Months pass, and years. You and Al are named Head Boys of your houses, and you find it both hilarious and ironic that, as a result of a campaign to tame old rivalries once spearheaded by Mr Potter, Head Boys and Girls are paired into mixed-house dorms.
The two beds in your tiny suite creak with age, but you couldn't care less; the room is yours, the first tangible thing you've ever shared, and in your mind it's a castle unto itself. You make a game of christening each piece of furniture in a new and different way, and when you get to your bed, you're more than ready for the big one.
You've only ever attempted penetration in rushed and awkward situations, like against the tiled wall of the Prefects' bathroom or in a semi-deserted stairwell, so it's not surprising your efforts have been unsuccessful thus far. Spread out like this on a real bed, with no chance of interruption, you know tonight will be the night.
You take your time, mapping the planes of his back with your lips, delineating the curve of his arse. You chuckle when he gasps at the flutter of your tongue against his rim, remembering how you'd once cringed at depictions thereof in Charlie's old magazine, how you'd both sworn you'd never, ever do something so disgusting.
Until the first time you tried it, tipsy on Ogden's at the end of sixth year, and realised it was, in fact, the best thing ever.
He's as relaxed and slick and open as he's ever going to be by the time you kneel between his thighs, your oiled cock leaking against his belly. He's gazing up at you with more loving trust than any human being deserves, but his eyes still widen when you press into him, steady and slow; a tear slips down his cheek. You stop, constitutionally incapable of causing him deliberate pain, but he threads his fingers through your hair, pulls your face down to his.
"Look at me," he murmurs, and you're eleven years old all over again. "It's going to be fine."
You soon discover that yeah, everything about this is more than fine-it's bloody fucking brilliant-and once you find the right angle and rhythm to make him moan your name and dig his fingernails into your back, it's impossibly better. The walls dissolve, the floor and ceiling, everything except the stained-glass window on the north-facing wall-and you're making love on the altar of a cathedral, you have to be, because this is nothing short of the holiest of sacraments. You don't last long, not nearly as long as you'd like, but long enough to feel every muscle in his body contract sharply beneath you and the wetness of his come spurting against your stomach, and you let go, unable to tell where his breathless cries end and yours begin, where his body begins and yours ends.
And you realise, in that moment, that everything that's ever separated you from each other-everything that separates all of us-is, and always has been, an illusion.
It's almost anticlimactic, so to speak, when you announce your engagement three years later. You passed up offers to play professionally in order to teach flying after Rolanda retired, and when the headmaster passed away after a long battle with vanishing sickness and Longbottom replaced him, Al was the natural choice to teach Herbology. The entirely unsurprising status change from 'partner' to 'fiancé' brings some surprising side effects, though. James confesses, after a Weasley family reunion filled with impromptu Quidditch games, that he's always envied both your talent on a broom and your closeness with his brother; you surprise yourself in turn by asking him to be your best man. And when you Floo back to the flat later that night, you realise that not once during the weekend did you suffer a single ginger.
Well, except maybe Al's Uncle Percy.
Mother comes to the wedding. The strain of your estrangement from Father and Grandfather is etched into every line of her face, but she tries hard to hide it, and her smiles in the family pictures are genuine.
It's more than you once would have hoped for.
Mother assures you Father won't be home the next day, that he'll be paying his weekly visit to Grandfather at St. Mungo's, but you have your doubts when she greets the two of you at the gate instead of the door. It doesn't matter, really, one way or the other. You're not here to converse with the living.
You follow the stone path through the garden to the far corner of the grounds, Al's fingers laced in yours; he squeezes your hand when you reach the family burial plot. You kneel before the white marble, trace the words engraved beneath her name: Beloved Wife and Mother.
Al conjures a wreath of flowers-Narcissus blooms-and lays it against the stone. Your voice falters when you open your mouth to speak; you can't do this alone.
Grandmother would be the first to say, you don't have to.
You stand again; Al puts his arm around your shoulders, holding you tight. You clear your throat.
"I miss you. So much." It's not what you'd planned to say, but it's the truest thing that comes to mind. Al squeezes you tighter.
"This is my..." You choke on the next word; it's still so new and foreign. And inexplicably powerful. "This is my husband." You hear a sniffle, and you don't need to look at Al to know he's crying with you. He knows, better than anyone else, what it would have meant to her.
What somehow, maybe, it means to her, wherever she is.
"Thank you for believing in us," Al whispers, and really, that sums up everything you came here to say. You reach into your pocket, pull out your two-way mirror, and lay it on top of the headstone. Al pulls out his and does likewise.
You'll likely never be back here again, so you hesitate a moment before turning away, but just for a moment. Graves are for the living, after all; she's never really lain here. Never died at all, come to think about it.
She lives on. In you.
You pass beneath the window of Father's study on the way back to the gate; a pale, pointed face stares down at you from behind the gauzy curtain. You stop, raise your chin, and give him a small nod.
He hesitates for a moment, then turns away.
Al looks at you, and you can't think of a reason in the world not to smile. He returns yours in kind.
You walk out of the gate hand in hand with Al, head high, and Disapparate-finally, at long last, your own man.