Disclaimer: All following characters and places not of my own creation belong to JK Rowling.

01 — Sarcastic

Scorpius Malfoy had been Albus Potter's best mate since the day they first met on the school train over five years ago. Al had been sitting in a compartment by himself, lost in his thoughts, stomach churning with nerves as he stared out at the misty platform. He'd watched his parents wave goodbye as the train began to move, and the first, immediate thought that had crossed his mind was to jump from the window and back into the safe, loving arms of his mother before it was too late.

But then the compartment door had slid open, and Al had looked up in surprise. Standing in the doorway was the blonde boy that his Uncle Ron had pointed out on the platform. He was wearing an expensive looking cloak over tasteful Muggle clothing, and his face was thin and pointed, but not unpleasantly so. At that moment, it had held a cautiously hopeful expression.

"Do you mind if I sit here?" the boy had asked, smiling at Al shyly. "No more empty compartments…"

Albus nodded and beckoned toward the seat across from him. "Sure," he'd said, though he was feeling a bit uncomfortable.

Despite his desire to make friends, Al had known, even then, who this boy was. He'd known why Uncle Ron had specifically told Rose not to cross his path. If Albus wanted to avoid Slytherin, making friends with a Malfoy surely wasn't the way to start out at Hogwarts.

Though the boy had been facing the window as they'd sat in an awkward, loaded pause, Al was able to tell that he was studying him out of the corner of his eye, and he'd decided at that moment that he had two choices of how to go about this: they could sit here in silence and share the compartment without too much contact, go their separate ways once they reached school, and probably wind up pitted against each other just like their fathers…or he could speak up, reach out to the other boy, make a friend.

"I'm Albus Potter," he'd said suddenly, introducing himself unnecessarily with a bit of a challenge in his voice.

The other boy turned to look at him fully, narrowing his eyes as he ran a hand through his hair. "So that's how we're playing it?" he asked, raising an eyebrow. "Scorpius Malfoy," he went on sarcastically. "Pleased to make your acquaintance. I'm sorry, but what did you say your name was again?"

Albus snorted, relaxing a little in his seat. This was incredibly awkward, but at least they both realised it. "I don't want to make enemies before we even get to school," he told Scorpius carefully after a moment. "I say we call it a truce."

Scorpius looked sceptical as he eyed him up and down. "So you're saying you'd rather get along with a Malfoy?" he asked, his tone guarded.

Al took a deep breath, blowing his hair out of his eyes. "I'll pretend not to care that you're a Malfoy if you'll pretend not to care that I'm a Potter," he said, giving the other boy a half-smile and shrugging a bit.

And it had just sort of snowballed from there, really. They'd talked about everything and nothing, about big, important topics like the fact that Scorpius was secretly hoping he'd be sorted into Gryffindor and how he was nervous about what his dad and grandfather would think if he was, and about stupid, little things like their favourite Bertie Bott's bean flavour. They'd compared their lives, growing up as an only child versus being brought up in one of the largest families in wizarding Britain. They'd talked and talked and talked, all the way to Scotland, until their voices had gone hoarse and their mouths were dry and they felt like they'd known each other for years. And when they'd both been shuffled off to the Gryffindor table, Al had known that he'd made his first friend.

What Albus hadn't counted on, of course, was the strange dynamic that their friendship would take on over the years. They'd always bickered a bit…all friends do. But as they got older, their fights seemed to mature as well. They knew each other inside and out, were privy to all each other's deepest secrets, and by this point in their lives, at the start of their sixth year, they both knew exactly which buttons to push in order to get under each other's skin.

If he was being honest, Al wasn't quite sure what it was that caused them to have such frequent arguments. Maybe it was the fact that they spent nearly every waking moment together or the fact that they were teenage boys with too much testosterone boiling up inside them. Maybe it was the growing pressure to do well in school…Or maybe it was just that they were genetically predisposed to having petty, pointless spats with each other whenever their frustrations built up too high.

Whatever the reason, though, it seemed that their quarrelling was hitting dangerous points. They still made up after every fight, of course. They'd laugh it off and throw it toward the backs of their minds, let everything go with the comfortable, practised ease that comes with knowing another person so completely. But lately, things had begun to escalate. They'd start screaming and shouting, draw their wands, bring up bits and pieces of past arguments as ammunition. It felt like they were heading toward something, but Albus couldn't quite figure out what that might be.

It wasn't until early October of that year that he began to get an inkling of what was coming.

"I need your help," Scorpius sighed one afternoon, slumping onto the couch next to Albus.

"Yeah, sure," Al said distractedly, not looking up from his Arithmancy book as he continued to scribble complicated equations onto the parchment in front of him. "I totally agree."

"Are you even listening to me?" Scorpius asked as Al flipped back a page to search for something.

Albus glanced up from his notes and saw the distraught, worried look on his friend's face. He sighed and snapped the book shut. It wasn't that he didn't want to help Scorpius; it was just that Al knew where this was going to go. They'd had the same conversation at least six times since school had started back up, and it always ended in the same circular theorising, never actually reaching any sort of conclusion.

"Molly's been…distant lately," Scorpius said once he could tell Al had resigned himself to having this discussion again. "And I can't figure out why."

"Scor, I don't know what you want me to say," Albus told him, shrugging. "We've been over this. Maybe it's just time to call it off. I mean, you two had a good run, but it was never going to be anything permanent. I think we both know that."

Scorpius let his head fall to the back of the couch, staring at the ceiling. Al watched him fiddle with a loose thread in the cushion between them, his fingers pulling lightly at the string. "But she's funny, and I really like her. I dunno…" he sighed after a moment, turning his head to look at Albus. "I thought we'd have another couple months in us."

"Things don't always turn out how you want them to," Al told him, shaking his head. "Look, couldn't you just buy her flowers or…I dunno…sing her song or something?"

Scorpius snorted and slapped him on the leg. "Oh, right, like some lovestruck little boy. That's a brilliant idea, Al," he said sarcastically, rolling his eyes. "I could throw in a heart-shaped box of chocolates as well."

"Well, I don't know what girls want in relationships," he said in a defensive undertone, glancing around the common room. "You know that. All I've got to go off is books and Muggle films. And anyway, it's easier when you're with another bloke. We skip over all that rubbish and just sort of…you know…get down to business."

"I do not want to think about you 'getting down to business,' thank you very much," Scorpius said, raising his eyebrows. "And besides, you never really date anyone anyway. It's all secret meetings and sweat with you."

"You say that like it's a bad thing," Albus scoffed, laughing as he pushed his book off his lap. "Trust me, it's better my way. I get what I want, he, whoever he happens to be, gets what he wants, and Mum and Dad get to keep on thinking they've still got their perfect, innocent little boy."

Scorpius shook his head, looking at Al with an expression that was somewhere between exasperated and concerned. He reached out a hand as if to touch him on the shoulder, then seemed to think better of it, and withdrew. He let his hand drop back to the couch and began fiddling with the loose string again.

"I don't know why you don't just tell them," he said softly after a moment, not quite meeting Al's eye. "I know your mum and dad, and I know they wouldn't think twice about it. They'd want you to tell them."

Albus licked his lips and looked out the window next to their couch, his eyes narrowing a bit. He knew Scorpius was probably right; his mum and dad were the kinds of people who would support him through everything. He just…he couldn't think of a good way to bring it up. It had taken a lot of winding himself up just to confide in Scorpius a few years ago, and that had been quite enough emotional hardship to last him a good while. He knew he'd have to tell his parents eventually. He couldn't keep going like he was, but…it wasn't an easy thing to do. He sucked in a deep breath, blowing his hair out of his eyes in frustration and shoved at Scorpius's shoulder.

"Let's talk about you," he said in a false, upbeat tone. "What's going on with Molly again?"

Scorpius studied him carefully for a long moment, looking like he wanted to say something important. Finally, he sighed and rolled his eyes, shaking his head a bit.

"She's avoiding me," he said, averting his eyes to stare into the fire. "Whenever she sees me coming over to the Ravenclaw table at breakfast, she hops up and runs off with a group of her friends. I don't know what I did wrong."

"Well, maybe it's not something you did," Al told him, relieved that Scorpius seemed willing to drop the topic of his stilted relationship with his parents. "Maybe it's just not what she wants anymore."

"She's your cousin, though," Scorpius said exasperatedly. "You ought to know what she wants, right?"

Al shook his head, shrugging. "All the girls in school are my cousins," he said, only half-joking. "Sometimes I think you've slept with the lot of us."

"I haven't slept with you," Scorpius said, a smirk suddenly spreading across his face. "Though I suppose I could've done if I'd wanted to."

"Shut up," Al laughed, glaring at him. "And besides, I'm not that easy. You'd at least've had to buy me a drink first."

"So that's all it would take?" Scorpius asked him in an odd tone that made Albus shift in his seat.

He wasn't sure what the expression on his friend's face meant, but he knew it was one he'd never seen there before. He watched as Scorpius's eyes flicked down for a moment and fixated on his lips, and Al was suddenly very aware of the foot and a half of empty space between them. His fingers twitched where they were resting on the couch cushion, and he could hear his heart pounding in his ears. Something strange was going on here, something he'd never felt before. There was a funny sort of energy coming off Scorpius that made Al want to reach out and connect them in some way…but he didn't. Instead, he cleared his throat loudly, snapping Scorpius out of his trance.

"Right…erm…Molly. That's what we were talking about," Scorpius said quickly, shaking his head. "Maybe I'll just try cornering her tomorrow after Charms. Figure out what's going on in her head."

"Yeah, I think you'd better," Al said distractedly, his voice coming out a bit tight. "You know, I think I'm going to go to the library for a bit. I've really got to work on this…"

Scorpius nodded and ran a hand through his hair as he watched Albus stand and begin hastily packing his things into his bag. "And I've got…you know…things to get done. So…er…I'll just…stay here," he said awkwardly.

Al could feel Scorpius's eyes burning through him as he turned and made his way toward the portrait hole quickly, practically wrenching it open in his hurry to escape. He wasn't sure what had just happened, but he felt as though something large and life-altering would happen if he didn't get away. As he made his way through the corridors, pushing past people on their way to class, he desperately tried not to think about the electric buzzing that had seemed to pass between them. Something in him couldn't quite ignore it, though, and he knew, somehow, that this wouldn't be the last time it happened.