Title: Sounds Like Home
Written for: the Weekly/Daily prompt competition and the Coming Out Competition
Dialogue Prompt: "Are you in love again?"
Lyric Prompt: Your voice haunts my most pleasant dreams - Evanescence
She's changed her hair again. A bright pink, this time. Albus can see the teachers glaring at the vibrant colour from up at their table. Any moment now, he knows, Professor Bones will walk over the Hufflepuff table where Lily is eating and ask for a 'private word'.
He hopes Lily doesn't refuse this time. Their mum will do her nut if she gets another letter home this week about their daughter.
Surprisingly, the teachers don't say a word. They mutter amongst themselves and give Lily dirty looks, but she leaves the hall with her hair the same colour and under her own steam.
Scorpius, who is sitting beside Al, has noticed the exact same things. "It appears," he says, unceremoniously taking a bite from his toast, "that even teachers reach a point where they just give up."
"If anyone could find that point, it would be Lily," Albus says, his eyes following his sister from the hall.
"Are you in love again?" he asks her, in the privacy of tumultuous chatter. It's strange how they're surrounded by people, yet they'd never get more alone than they are now. Everyone is too wrapped up in their own private dramas to worry about a murmured conversation. The only person who might overhear them is Scorpius, and he overhears everything. Nothing's hidden from his eagle-eyes and bat-like hearing.
"What makes you say that?" Lily asks, brushing her fingers through her hair.
"You've dyed your hair again," Albus points out. "You didn't eat breakfast. Or lunch." He fishes into his satchel and pulls out a muffin which he throws at the younger girl. "Do me a favour and eat that."
She takes the muffin but places it carefully in her bag. At least she might get hungry later, Albus thinks. He hopes the lure of food will be too much for her to resist by tonight, when she hasn't eaten all day and is lying and bed, hungry.
"Stop stalking me," she says, annoyed. "And my non-existent love-life is none of your business."
"Oh, how wrong you are," he tells her fondly. "So who is it?"
"No one." She averts her eyes.
"Come on," he teases lightly. "Give me a hint. I can't guess much from pink hair."
Albus smirks. "I can try, though." He thinks for a moment. "They're not in Ravenclaw," he surmises.
Lily looks surprised, although Albus isn't sure whether that's because he's right or because he's actually making an attempt at guessing who she likes from her hair colour alone. "What makes you say that?" she asks quickly.
"You would have died it blue, otherwise," he tells her. "For the first people you fall for each house, you always make your hair the colour of that house. You went blonde for Lysander, green for what's-his-name-"
"Henry," Lily interjects.
"Yeah, and you died your hair that horrible artificial red for that annoying one in Gryffindor. So if it was someone from Ravenclaw, your hair would be blue, not pink."
"I might have changed my system," Lily argues.
Albus considers her words before quickly dismissing them. "No, you're a creature of habit."
"But why pink?" Albus muses.
"Because I've done all the other colours?" Lily suggests. "Because I like the colour pink?"
"Because they're effeminate?" Albus thinks aloud. "That would make sense. Pink usually a colour related to girls. I can't think of anything else it would symbolise…."
Lily stands up suddenly, glaring violently at Albus. "Get out of my head!" she hisses angrily. "It's bad enough you're in my family, my school and my life. Just piss off!"
Albus is too shocked to reply before she's stormed off.
"You pushed her too far," Scorpius comments later in their common room.
"I didn't expect her to react like that," Albus says, still confused over her outburst.
"Nor did I," Scorpius admits. "And usually I'm a good judge of character."
"Yeah, as well as being bloody nosey," Albus complains. He moves his knight forwards one space. "Checkmate."
"No it isn't," Scorpius argues, and swiftly takes the knight. "So have you gotten any further with your deductions?" He says the word 'deductions' with a smile, and Albus gets the feeling his friend is insulting his capabilities.
"Yes," Albus says, offended. "It's probably someone in her year."
Scorpius laughs. "That's a guess, not a deduction."
"Alright then, genius," Albus says, scowling. He moves his rook out of danger. "What's your best guess?"
"Well I think you were on to something with the effeminacy," Scorpius comments, chasing the rook across the board. "But you neglected to consider one vital idea."
"What's that?" Albus asks.
"This person your sister is crushing on," Scorpius says, confidently sliding his rook to the left hand corner. "I think they might be a girl. Checkmate, by the way."
And so it is.
He doesn't say a word to Lily about her hair colour after that, or about her crush, or about his conversation with Scorpius. He does continue to watch her though, although nothing happens until the Easter holidays.
She shouldn't have left it sitting there. Definitely, he shouldn't have picked it up, but if she hadn't let it lie there then he never would have opened it or read the poems she'd written in the small notebook.
He knows what it is the moment he flips open the first page to see several lines of cursive writing. It shames him how quickly he hides it in his jumper and smuggles it up to his room – there's barely even a pause while he considers what to do with it.
He hadn't even known Lily wrote poetry. Then again, that isn't saying a lot. He hadn't known his sister was a lesbian, either.
Sun kisses her bronze skin,
As she moves like a goddess across the sand.
Fish rise out of the ocean,
To nibble at her hair.
Flightless birds dance around her feet,
And mammals grow wings,
To soar around her.
She stands in the midst of it,
Unnatural, they say.
But it's so beautiful.
"You think I was right, then," Scorpius says, sounding inordinately satisfied with himself. "The person she likes is a girl."
"The pronouns would imply it," Albus replies, through gritted teeth.
"They do, don't they?" Scorpius says mildly. He turns the page to read the next poem.
Your voice haunts my most pleasant dreams,
Haunts: because you make me feel,
Pleasant: it haunts all of them so that
Even the best ones,
Have a melancholy note.
Sounds like honey and sugar and cinnamon,
You always sound like home.
Scorpius flicks to the next page, but Albus stops reading. He knows too much about his sister's love life already. He wishes he could delete the information.
"This isn't the supportive response I was hoping for," Albus complains.
"What were you hoping for?"
"Less gloating?" Albus suggests. "Maybe for you to say, 'Don't worry, Albus. I'm sure she's straight and is just using different pronouns to mix it up a little. Or maybe she copied the poems from somewhere.'"
"It doesn't sound like you need me to be supportive," Scorpius says, putting aside the notebook. "You're saying all those things yourself. Although, for the record, it's perfectly reasonable that she hasn't written these from the heart. They might not be what she actually feels."
"I don't think they are," Scorpius adds, and Albus' dejected look returns. "But they could be."
"Thanks for your help," Albus says sarcastically.
"Is it…" Scorpius begins to ask, and then pauses. Albus looks up at his tone, surprised. He's known Scorpius for six and half years now, and he can read his best friend like no other. But looking into the blonde's face now, he sees an expression that he's never seen before.
Scorpius looks guarded.
His blank, mild look had been replaced by something much more sinister. He's blocking me out, Albus realised. He always knows what Scorpius is feeling. He can always tell. For some reason, Scorpius is trying to hide his emotions from Albus.
"Would it necessarily be a bad thing if Lily is a lesbian?" Scorpius asks cautiously.
Scorpius's question, combined with the sudden change in his demeanour, sets alarm bells ringing. "Yes," Albus says firmly, deliberately trying not to think of what is happening right now. If he pretends nothing is wrong, then nothing will be wrong. "Yes, it would be."
He turns away before he can see the broken expression that crashes across Scorpius' face.
Three days later, Rose corners him after charms. "You're a dick, Albus Severus," she tells him.
"No I'm not," Albus tells her defiantly, but quails under her glare. He'd taken so long packing up that the classroom is empty now; even the teacher has left. And Scorpius had stopped waiting for him after class a few days ago. "…Why am I a dick?"
"I don't know what you said to Scorpius, but you'd better apologise."
"I didn't say anything to Scorpius!" replies Albus. "Why do you assume it was me who said something to him?!" He didn't ask how Rose had noticed that something was off between the two of them; that would mean admitting there had been something said. But surely the distance that had suddenly formed between the pair wasn't that noticeable. Right?
"Because he's moping," Rose says, still glaring. "You should see him at Quidditch practice. He can't even catch the snitch when it's hovering right under his nose. The game against Slytherin is in two weeks; at this rate Ravenclaw will lose the Cup!"
Of course. The only thing Rose cares about is her Quidditch team. "Take it up with him!" Albus snaps. "It's got nothing to do with me."
"It's got everything to do with you!" Rose yells back. "You two are joined at the hip. You know what the other is thinking before either of you say it! And suddenly you can't even look at each other! Of course it's to do with you!"
"You only care about him because he's part of your precious Quidditch team! If you took your head out of your arse long enough to notice things, you'd see that there's more going on than just a tiny fight between me and Scorpius!"
"Oh yeah?" Rose challenges. "Like what?"
"Like the fact that Lily is a lesbian!"
He doesn't mean to say it. The words surprise him even as they emerge from his mouth. What takes him even more by surprise is Rose's reaction.
She barely even pauses for breath. "I don't care!" she yells. "Unlike Scorpius, Lily is perfectly fine. Go sort out your own messes before you try interfering in someone else's!"
And with those words, she storms out of the classroom, leaving Albus lost for words.
Albus spends a long time thinking over that scene. Rose had taken it completely differently from how he'd thought she would, and her reaction was worlds away from his own. She had almost seemed to… not care. If anything, she'd acted like it didn't matter.
She must already know, Albus thought to himself. She must know and have hidden her reaction from him.
That was the only explanation that made sense, because the other explanation was that she actually didn't care. That she thought it didn't matter that her cousin was a lesbian.
The next day he receives a note at breakfast, helpfully delivered by Snowy, his owl.
Don't be a prat.
Albus screws it up and throws it in his bowl of cereal and milk. He stared at it for a few minutes as it grew soggier and soggier, before realising it had been a stupid thing to do and fishing it out again so he could finish his breakfast.
He only had a few more spoonfuls. It tasted too much like guilt for his liking.
"Scorpius, we need to talk."
"Get out of the way, Albus," Scorpius replies, not meeting his eyes. "I'm already running late."
Albus is taken aback by the coldness of his tone. "Why are you acting like this?" he demands.
"Take a guess," Scorpius sneers – actually sneers! - before violently pushing past his supposed best friend.
Life is lonely without a best friend. It's even worse when you know it's your own fault for driving him away.
He catches Scorpius coming out of the changing rooms late that afternoon. Smith leaves at the same time as him, and shoots him an unhappy look before making his way back up to the castle. That's all the information Albus needs to guess that Scorpius still mustn't be doing well in practice.
Scorpius doesn't look surprised to see him there; he knows Albus knows when he has training. A week ago, there was a fifty-fifty chance the dark-haired boy would be in the stands, watching.
"I'm sorry," Albus blurts out.
Scorpius elegantly raises an eyebrow. "For what?" he asks coldly, turning around to shut the squeaky door to the changing rooms. He hitches his bag higher up his shoulders and begins to walk along the winding path back to the castle. Albus tags along behind him, feeling helpless.
"For what I said," he tells his friend. "I was panicking and I wasn't thinking and I didn't mean it. Not really."
"Sure you didn't," Scorpius replies, not looking at Albus.
"I didn't!" Albus exclaims. "I was still coming around to the idea."
"Yeah, and now you've found out it's not so much fun being a bigot, you'll pretend you don't mind," Scorpius snaps. "Save the lies, Albus. I don't want to hear them."
Albus opens his mouth to respond but, before he can say a word, Scorpius whirls around and walks in the other direction.
He doesn't follow.
He's late for dinner – not that he eats much anyway. He just doesn't feel hungry. Scorpius doesn't show at all, even though Albus waits until the last minute to leave. He assumes that the other boy had gone straight up to the dormitory, but when he makes his way up there after dinner the curtains are as open as they were when he left that morning, and the blond is nowhere to be seen. Resignedly, Albus makes a start on the mountains of homework he has to complete, assuming that Scorpius'll have to come up at some point.
But by the time the clock hits midnight and Albus's hand is wracked with cramps from writing so much, there's still no sign of the other boy. All their dormmates have gone to bed already; Albus wonders whether he should sneak into the girls' dorms to get the map off Rose. He entertains the notion for only a moment before deciding to wait until morning; it could be a little awkward if he's caught. Instead, he crawls into bed.
Try as he might, however, he can't fall asleep.
Much, much later that night he hears footsteps creep into his room. Albus holds his breath as they pad across to Scoprius's bed and he hears the creak of a mattress. Long moments crawl past and then the most heart-wrenching sound he's ever heard comes from behind Scorpius' curtains.
A muffled sob.
Albus imagines a knife driven through his heart would be less painful than the knowledge that Scorpius is two feet away, hidden behind the hangings, crying because of him.
He doesn't even have to think about it. He quickly casts a silencing spell around Scorpius's bed, ducks through his curtains and into Scorpius's.
Scorpius is lying face down on his bed but, as soon as Albus comes in, he turns away. His sobs stop, but it doesn't make Albus feel any less guilty.
"Scorpius," Albus whispers (although he needn't; he'd cast a silencing charm). "Please, Scor. Look at me."
Scorpius doesn't turn around, but Albus didn't really expect him to. He resigns himself to having this conversation with the back of Scorpius's head.
Tentatively he sits down on the edge of Scorpius' bed. The mattress sinks beneath his weight, causing Scorpius to roll a little towards him. "Scorpius…" Albus begins, before realising he doesn't know what to say.
How can he voice all these feelings in a way that will show Scorpius that he really is sorry, and that he's not a bigot who's only backing down because of peer pressure?
"I told Rose," Albus said. Scorpius didn't move. Disappointment flashed through him; he'd been hoping for a reaction.
He soldiered on. "She was having a go at me for falling out with you, and I wanted to shock her. I wanted to get a reaction, and get her to stop going on at me. So I told her I thought Lily might be a lesbian."
He watched Scorpius closely.
"I was the one who was surprised," Albus continued. "She didn't really care at all. If I remember rightly, she told me to stop being a dick." A pause. "She was right."
Scorpius shifts slightly; almost imperceptibly, but it was definitely there. Heartened, Albus continues. "She was right; you were right; Lily is right. Not that she's really said anything to be right about, but… everyone was right except for me. I think… I think I was reacting how I thought I was supposed to react. I'm not proud of that. I don't even know why I thought it; I've never been taught that being gay's wrong."
There's a longer silence. "I'm going to talk to Lily tomorrow," Albus says. "Or maybe the next day. Or the day after that, depending on how long it takes me to work up the balls to do it. But I will. I will confront her, and I will tell her I support her and love her no matter what."
Albus had sort of been hoping for a reaction by now, but he supposes he should be happy that Scorpius even let him talk. "Anyway," he says. "You already know I'm sorry for the things I said; I didn't want to repeat that. I guess I just wanted to say thank you, for making me see sense before I did something really stupid. If you hadn't, then I might have said something to Lily that I'd regret, or I might have reacted much, much worse when she finally told me. I suppose I probably owe you my relationship with my sister. So even if you can't forgive me right now, I want you to know that I am grateful."
He finishes his speech, and finds he has nothing else to say. Slowly, he rises from Scorpius' bed. A thought strikes him and he turns back. "And I also want you to know that I miss you," he says. Then he begins walking towards his bed.
The bed creaks and a small, croaky voice sounds from behind him. "Al," Scor says.
Albus turns around to see that Scorpius is sitting up, tear tracks running down his face. "Al," Scor says again. "I'm gay."
Albus makes his way back towards the bed and sits down again. "I know," he says, wrapping his arms around his best friend and squeezing him tight. "And I don't care."