Summary: Albus wants to introduce Scorpius to his HUGE family. He knows Scorpius is nervous even though he won't admit it, so Al tries to give Scorpius a summary of what to expect from each relative to prepare him. Can they stop snogging long enough to talk? Slash
Disclaimer: Rowling invented the Potterverse and the characters…even though she never described the personalities of most of the characters in this particular fic since they're New Gen.
Genres: Romance, Family, Comedy
Warnings: Mild language, male/male relationship, implications of under-aged sex
Preparing your Boyfriend for Interrogation
Throwing unfolded clothes into my trunk via big handfuls is my method of packing. My books and potions ingredients are arranged neatly, but clothes are unimportant and require less care, so I treat them accordingly.
"Your robes are going to get so wrinkled that you'll resemble the drunken hobo that loiters outside of the Leaky Cauldron." I glance over my shoulder to see who had spoken. Not that I don't already know, as only one of my roommates is in the dorm right now. Besides, I would know that drawling voice anywhere.
Scorpius Malfoy is lounging on his back atop the green blankets of his four-poster bed. His white-blond hair is almost as silver and shiny as the dancing serpent design that is sewn into his pillowcase. An open book is propped up against his bent knee. However, he's looking at me instead of the text and probably has been for several minutes. The knowledge that I capture and maintain Scorpius' attention makes my stomach squirm pleasantly.
"Then drunken hobos must be one of your fetishes, or you wouldn't be with me," I tell him brightly. He rolls his eyes in disgust, making me grin. "Anyway, my sloppiness will just make your perfectly ironed robes look better." I turn back to my task and, even though I can't see him anymore, I perceive that he's frowning. He hadn't expected me to end our conversation so quickly.
Malfoys don't like to be dismissed. Because of that, I'm not surprised to hear the mattress creak as he gets off of it, and for socked feet to move at a steady pace across the stone floor as he approaches me. I'm on my knees beside my trunk to make packing easier, hence he needs to kneel behind me in order for our bodies to be aligned. His slim chest presses against my back when his slender arms encircle my waist.
"Hey," he purrs, breath hot and sweet against the nape of my neck. I wonder if he knows what he does to me…What am I thinking? Of course he knows, and doubtlessly enjoys it, too. I can't begrudge him this, though, since causing him to tremble and moan is one of my absolute favourite activities.
"Hay is for horses." When he doesn't respond immediately it occurs to me that he probably has never heard the commonly-used Muggle pun before.
"Well, you're certainly hung like a horse," he counters after a couple of seconds, sliding his hands downwards to emphasise his point.
My fingers quickly cover his to prevent them from moving in a distracting fashion. "Scor, I have to finish packing." Even as I protest, I am aware that I will let him have anything that he wants if he tries hard enough to convince me. I adore challenges – both receiving them and giving them to others - but I care about my loved one's happiness more, and Scorpius certainly falls into that category.
"We're leaving tomorrow morning. You should have packed ages before this."
He's right, but I was doing a potions experiment all week that kept me preoccupied. It wasn't entirely successful. I'm going to have to retest a few of the ingredients until the concoction comes out perfectly. I have a feeling it would work better if the belladonna leaves were shredded instead of cut and my instincts tend to be correct about these sorts of – Oh!
Scorpius' hands, which must have escaped from mine, squeeze something through my robes that causes musings of research to fly from my mind. That must've been his goal because his voice is satisfied when he asks, "Back with me now?"
"Yeah. I was – nnh! – thinking about my latest p-project." I can't help that my answer is breathless, for his manicured hands are extremely talented even without direct skin-on-skin contact. Letting my head fall backwards onto his shoulder, I expose my neck for him in a silent offering.
Surprisingly, he doesn't take it, and his hands move to sit on my hipbones; behaving themselves. "Are you on the verge of a breakthrough?"
I ought to be accustomed to it by now, but part of me continues to marvel at how well Scorpius handles my research. I never expected to find a lover that accepted my quest for innovative information. I'm grateful that he does, for if he did not, there's no way that our relationship would work. I've unintentionally missed more than one date because I've been struck with inspiration for a project and gotten wrapped up in gathering data. Scorpius forgives me as long as I make it up to him, which I'm invariably happy to do since I enjoy the favour as much as he does. Maybe he deals with my eccentric obsessions because he knows that they'll benefit most of wizardkind when they're perfected, or perhaps it's simply that – if I have to prioritize something above him – he'd rather it be knowledge than another living individual.
I could tell him that I am about to have a revelation and he'll respectfully leave me alone with my thoughts and expect a blow-job and/or kinky role play as compensation later. However, I'm not nearing a breakthrough, and I have no wish to pretend that I am since Scorpius has succeeded in putting me in the mood for intimacy.
I spin in the circle of his arms, and now we're facing one another on our knees. I reach around him so that I can run my fingertips from the top of his spine down to his tailbone and into the back of his trousers.
His grey eyes flash with hunger and delight, causing my breath to catch, though I still manage to speak before he does. "The only discovery I'm interested in making right now is what will happen if I do this." I buck my pelvis against his and slam our lips together so that I can swallow his gasp.
It's going to be a while before I return to packing.
"I'm glad that your family agreed to let you come." I smile at Scorpius sitting beside me, though I quickly return my attention to gazing out of the carriage's window. There isn't any fog today, making the scenery particularly beautiful. Hopefully, the ride to Hogsmeade's train station won't be quick so that I will have time to savour the view.
I meant what I said about being glad. I've never invited anyone else to my home, so I'm pleased that Scorpius was granted permission to attend. James and Lily used to have guests over; it was a while before they realised that people will happily use us as a means to meet Harry Potter, but I've always known better. Of course, both of my siblings ignored me when I cautioned them and had to make mistakes to figure it out for themselves. Gryffindors are often too stubborn to listen to an intelligent warning when they hear one.
In spite of all of the liars in the world, I know that bringing Scorpius home is not a mistake. First and foremost, I trust Scorpius completely. Even if I didn't have faith in him, I wouldn't doubt his motives in this matter because his family's history with mine gives him an incentive to want to avoid my famous relatives rather than the reverse. Another reason why I am certain that having Scorpius over is a good idea is since it was Dad's suggestion; not Scorpius'. Dad expressed interest in meeting the friend that I constantly talk about, and I didn't argue because I'd like it if the people that are important to me get along with each other. Plus, I'm sure that once I reveal that Scorpius and I are more than friends, Dad will be even keener – nigh on insistent - about getting an introduction. Dad lets his children make their own decisions, but he still likes to know what we're doing and who we're with to confirm that we're safe.
"Agreed?" Scorpius scoffs at the idea, not needing to be discreet about what he says since we are alone in the thestral-powered vehicle. "Grandfather doesn't even know. He'd probably have an aneurism if he found out...though that wouldn't really be a bad thing."
Scorpius isn't very fond of his paternal grandfather. He says that it's difficult to eat dinner with someone that you know murdered people just because they couldn't do magic. It doesn't help that Lucius is critical of everything that Scorpius does. Apparently, he was more bearable when his wife was alive, but I don't dare ask Scorpius what he thinks his grandmother might have said about him spending Easter with my family. She died only a year ago and Scorpius misses her immensely. It's a sensitive subject, and I leave it alone.
"Dad was worried about me coming since he's afraid that some people in your family will mistreat me because of whom I'm related to, but Mum and I eventually wore him down." He shrugs as if it isn't an impressive achievement. "I can get them to give me anything that I want. Just like I can get you to give me anything that I want."
"Is that so?" I flick my wand at the windows to close the curtains, turn to Scorpius, put my hands on his shoulders, and push him onto his back against the cushioned seat in one fluid motion. Accepting his implied challenge that I ought to attempt proving that our relationship is the other way around in the dominance department seems like a good way to spend the next several minutes.
The grounds awash with sunlight are gorgeous, certainly, but nothing holds a candle to how magnificent Scorpius looks in the throes of passion.
Scorpius and I are able to fix our clothes so skillfully before emerging from the carriage that Rose doesn't give us an amused, knowing look. Rose is the only person that Scorpius and I are both particularly close to, ergo she's the sole person that we've told about what our friendship has evolved into. Even if we hadn't stated it outright, she probably would have figured it out because she's insightful and knows us well.
The three of us manage to get a compartment to ourselves on the Hogwarts Express. We take advantage of the time away from my less intellectual cousins to quiz one another for the O.W.L.s, which are only two months away. The rest of the family, save Aunt Hermione, doesn't understand why we've made flash cards with study questions on them, but so what? They won't wind up receiving record-breaking scores, like we will.
Thirty-two minutes into the journey, Rose announces, "It's time to patrol the train." She looks at me apologetically as she adjusts the badge on the school robes that she hasn't changed out of yet. Scorpius and Rose are both Prefects, and she feels guilty that they'll be leaving me on my own.
She needn't be worried. They both exit and head in opposite directions, and as soon as Rose is out of sight Scorpius ducks back inside the compartment with me.
Scorpius takes his responsibilities as a Prefect seriously, but I asked him to forgo his patrol today so that I could talk to him alone, and – despite his complaints about how selfish, needy, and annoying I am – he didn't refuse.
I pull out a photo album and open to a page with a snapshot that is crammed full of people. All of the adult men in the photo have red hair, except Dad. Even Teddy made his locks an inhuman shade of strawberry crimson for the picture, though his favourite hue for his hair is usually the equally unnatural teal blue. Most of the women and children are redheads, too.
"Wait, don't tell me," Scorpius interrupts. He elegantly extends his pinky to the grinning visual of my father. "That's Harry Potter."
I regard Scorpius with mock awe. "Wooow, I don't know how you do it." He rolls his eyes like he thinks I'm an idiot for using such poor sarcasm, but he rests his head against my shoulder so that he can be closer to the album, making it clear what his genuine feelings for me are. Giddiness fills me, and I need to force myself to focus when Scorpius speaks again.
"Well, you talk about how wonderful he is all of the time, so I don't need to hear about him. If you have to talk about somebody, which you clearly do or you wouldn't have pulled this album out, then choose another relative for the sake of my sanity."
"I don't talk about him that often," I object, but even I don't believe me, so I hastily alter the subject. "Anyway, who says you've got any sanity left?"
"You're right; I must have lost it to be in a relationship with you…or you slipped something into my pumpkin juice."
I simper deviously. "Never trust a pewter goblet. You can't see a drink's contents through it."
"Ah, so you've been taking advantage of me? I suspected as much. I'll have to repay you in kind." A hand creeps across my thigh and the book almost falls out of my lap as I startle reflexively.
"I hope that's a promise you'll keep-" I twine my fingers through his wandering hand and move our interlocked digits to the less stimulating location of my knee, "-after I finish describing everyone to you."
"Oh, very well," he sighs dramatically as if taking on a huge burden. To be fair to him, my family is rather large.
Scorpius already knows James and Lily, as James has threatened Scorpius against hurting his 'sensitive, impressionable little brother that has bad tastes' (I know the git's heart is in the right place, but MERLIN he's infuriating!) and Lily, who likes Scorpius and has had a great deal of fun telling him embarrassing stories about me when she's visiting me in the Slytherin common room. This causes me to turn my attention to the only one of my siblings that Scorpius doesn't know.
"That's Teddy." I don't bother explaining that he's my god-brother or a metamorphmagus, for I told Scorpius this in first year. "He's looking forward to meeting you." This is completely true. Teddy and Scorpius are second-cousins, but have never met because Teddy's grandmother and Scorpius' grandmother (when she was alive) were 'estranged,' or – as I like to say - 'too juvenile and stubborn to get over their petty differences.'
"Really?" Scorpius is pleased and I know why. He's lonely without having siblings or cousins, so Teddy is who Scorpius wants to get to know the most out of my family. That's more than fine with me since Teddy is one of my favourite people in the world.
"Yeah. I'm sure that you'll get along well because everybody likes Teddy. It's impossible not to. He's smart and loves to read, but he isn't a stuffy bookworm. He's funny and likes to play games, but he doesn't get too competitive. And he's got unbreakable optimism and the patience of a saint. Seriously, he put up with James, me, and Lily all asking for separate bedtime stories whenever he'd come over when we were kids."
Scorpius looks a bit wistful upon hearing this, and I wonder if anyone ever read to him as a child. I doubt it. Instead of asking Scorpius, I make the decision to tuck him in and tell him a story after the party tonight. I know his pride will cause him to mock me instead of thank me for it, but he'll appreciate it, and hopefully it'll cause him to fall a little bit more in love with me.
"Are you insinuating that you don't still like ickle-bedtime stories?" taunts Scorpius.
Actually, I do still enjoy Teddy's tales. They're hilarious because he can make his face look like all of the different characters. However, it's probably prudent not to admit this. "I prefer good-night kisses now," I tell him in a voice that is intended to be seductive.
My aim must be successful because Scorpius lifts his head from my shoulder to put his lips on the corner of my mouth. "Mmm, and how about this-could-be-our-last-display-of-affection-because-your-family-might-hex-me-to-Hades kisses?"
Oh, sweet Circe, that's tempting! But there's about a score of relatives remaining.
"And that's my mum."
Scorpius pulls away from me with a grimace. "That's the worst mood-killer I've ever heard."
"Sorry," I say, sincerely meaning it because I'd rather taste his tongue again than discuss my mother. I tap Mum's likeness in the photograph, though I realise that I most likely don't have to. Lily looks just like Mum, so Scorpius could undoubtedly pick her out of the crowd.
"Wasn't she one of the people that tried to talk your father out of giving me permission to come?" Scorpius inquired, sounding curious rather than concerned due to the fact that he knows I don't give a flobberworm's arse what my mother thinks. She complains that I spend my time doing potions experiments instead of playing Quidditch. I've given up on her - and a few of my other relatives - accepting me the way that I am.
I clench my jaw and nod grimly, still feeling furious over the argument even though it happened a while ago. "Her and Uncle Ron." I point the tallest man in the picture out. I've always had trouble finding common ground with him, but I don't want to insult him, so I quickly move on to someone else. "He's married to Aunt Hermione. She's really brilliant. I can't wait for you to meet her! She understands my love of learning. She taught Rose and me to read when we were really young."
"So, they're Rose's parents?" he asks interestedly.
"Yep. And Hugo's too." Scorpius has seen Hugo around school before, but they've never been formally introduced, so I gesture to the boy that resembles a less-gangly version of Uncle Ron.
Scorpius' succulent mouth twitches, apparently finding something comical. "That explains it."
Normally, I pride myself on my intelligence, but he's lost me. "Explains what?"
"Last June when I was saying good-bye to you and Rose at King's Cross for the summer, that man," he nods towards the image of Uncle Ron, "kept glaring at me. Now, I understand why. He was worried that my evil genes would kick in and I'd rape his virginal daughter."
A sound of amusement escapes me. "I wonder how he'll react when he finds out that you prefer Beaters' bats to Quaffle hoops."
"Probably assume that I'm after his son instead of his daughter."
"Even when he knows you've got me?"
"He won't expect me to be faithful to you." Scorpius puts on an air of boredom while he says this, studying the fingernails of the hand that isn't attached to mine as if there's nothing more intriguing for him to do.
Scorpius slipping into a mask of haughtiness is a sign that he needs my reassurance, hence I say casually, "Uncle Ron has always been a bit foolish."
Some warmth seeps back into Scorpius' cool grey eyes, but he must need more confirmation of my trust because he adds, "Malfoys are known sluts, O Naïve Al."
I grin. "Maybe most of them are, but I ensure that I exhaust you on a regular basis so that you don't have the energy to pursue another lover."
"That you do, you ravenous beast." Ah, an insult that lacks malice! Now, I know that he feels better.
Heartened, I return to the initial topic of conversation. "This is Aunt Fleur and Uncle Bill." I indicate the couple with the longest hair. "Bill is my only uncle, besides George, that doesn't have a bad temper. Bill is so relaxed it's like he's perpetually on gillyweed. I wish he'd share some of it."
Scorpius snorts, aware that I'm joking.
"Aunt Fleur is really sophisticated, and can come across as being full of herself, but she's actually much nicer than the snob that she seems to be." I smirk at Scorpius. "Kind of like you."
He gives me a sardonic look. "Are you trying to get on bad side, Al? Because I don't think that this is the best time for us to be arguing."
"You're right," I concur seriously. "If we start fighting, then we'll have to kiss and make up, which will mean that we'll never get this lesson done because I'll make sure that the snogging takes ages since I'd much rather use my mouth to taste you than to talk about my relatives."
He blinks in surprise at my bluntness for a moment, but in seconds he licks his sumptuous lips and I know that he's going to make a sexy retort that'll draw me into a banter that will distract me from the task at hand. I can't afford to partake in erotic verbal foreplay right now, so I interrupt him before that can happen.
"Their kids are Victoire, Dominique, and Louis." I point to the only blond children in the Weasley clan. I used to wonder why all of them came out blond when blond hair is a recessive gene. Currently, I figure it's because Veelas are magical creatures, and magical blood is stronger than any other. How else can the facts that children of wizards and Muggles nearly always come out to be wizards, or that Squibs are much rarer than Muggle-borns, be explained? It's extremely uncommon for non-magic blood to win.
Teddy is very lucky that he isn't a werewolf. I think that might be because he's a metamorphmagus. Perhaps the body can only handle a limited amount of magic, so in the womb his DNA could only take on the werewolf or metamorphmagus gene. I'm not sure about that, though. I'll have to do more research on it when I'm doing something less important than talking to Scorpius about the Weasleys he's going to meet.
"The girls' nicknames are Vicki and Domi. Louis doesn't have a universal nickname, but a few people he's close to have personal pet names for him that only they use. Sorta like how I'm the only one that calls you 'Scor.'" Scorpius nods and I come to the conclusion that explaining why my nickname for Louis is mon petit croissant chocolat would take too long. Instead, I explicate:
"Vicki is the only one of the three that doesn't like being part-Veela. She hates that people are fascinated by her for something that has nothing to do with who she is as a person…" I trail off and Scorpius squeezes my hand. I glance over at him and see the understanding in his eyes. He knows that, though I can't imagine a better dad, I despise the notoriety that comes from being one of The Chosen One's children.
I smile at him, the empathy making my heart lighter, and continue, "Domi is really vain, and likes taking advantage of how attracted boys are to her to get them to do things for her. I can't remember the last time she did her own homework." I frown in irritation. Domi is one of my two cousins that I make a habit of avoiding like the Plague. "She considered going to Beauxbatons, but she feels the need to compete with Vicki – the only girl that she considers as pretty as herself – so she opted for Hogwarts instead." And I wish she hadn't, I add silently. I don't need to voice the thought, as I'm sure that Scorpius can deduce my feelings from my tone.
"Why would she want to look better than someone that looks similar to herself? Is she jealous of her mother too since that's where they both get their looks from?" inquires Scorpius. He's apparently perplexed by Domi's behaviour. Good; he can join my club.
"I don't know, and no. Aunt Fleur is attractive in an older, classier way, and not in a youthful, vibrant way. I guess Domi doesn't feel...threatened, or whatever mad emotion she feels, by Aunt Fleur the way that she does by Vicki. It's mental because Vicki doesn't compete back or anything." I shrug away the weirdness and move on. There aren't many kind statements to make about Dominique, and I don't like insulting people. "Vicki is easily the most British of the lot. She's also the only one of the Veela kids that likes Quidditch for the sake of the game and not for the supposedly 'sexy' players. Probably because she fancied Teddy since they were preteens and didn't need to crush on any players. Have I mentioned that she and Teddy are engaged?" I ask happily.
"Only about a dozen times."
Despite Scorpius' exasperated tone, I keep smiling as I describe my next cousin. "Louis actually did decide to go to Beauxbatons, unlike Domi. 'Cause of that, he's the most French of the three in his interests and habits. He's also the only one with a French accent, though Domi sometimes pretends she has one because she thinks it makes her more appealing or something." I suppress the urge to say something unflattering and go on, "From what I've heard, Louis is one of the most popular boys at Beauxbatons. It's not surprising, really. He'll chat with anyone, and he's regarded as being one of the most beautiful-looking boys since…ever."
Scorpius studies the picture carefully. "I suppose I could imagine him turning one or two heads." He isn't giving Louis half of the credit that he deserves, but I don't say so, for Scorpius rarely gives compliments outright. "I wouldn't have known that he was male if you hadn't told me."
"Most people can't tell. Sometimes, when I go out in public with him, people around us make bets on which gender they think he is when they believe we won't notice." I laugh at the memories. "I'd be angry at their rudeness, but Louis likes the attention. Besides, it's difficult to blame them, considering how striking he is. Things are never boring when Louis is around."
Scorpius raises an elegant blond eyebrow at me. "Should I be jealous?"
"Not until I decide to make incest a kink of mine." When Scorpius relaxes I add mischievously, "And Louis might be willing if I did, seeing as how he's gay."
"Really? You won't be the first one in your family to come out of the closet?" Scorpius unambiguously feels better knowing this, and I admit that I do also.
"Nope. Uncle Charlie came out first. Louis didn't exactly tell any of us, but he didn't have to. We all knew it already. The fact that he stole his sisters' cosmetics and skirts when he was three years-old so that he could wear them was sort-of a giveaway."
Scorpius looks amused. "So he's just a bit obvious, then?"
I grin at the understatement. "Obviously gay? Scor, if you looked up the word 'flamboyant' in the dictionary, Louis' picture would be next to it."
He chuckles at this.
"Ah, you're laughing now, but wait until he hits on you," I warn in a pretending-to-be-ominous manner.
The eyebrow goes up again. "Is that likely?"
"Yes," I say truthfully. "Louis is a huge flirt. Not only does he come onto his peers when he's genuinely interested, he flirts with practically everyone in the family, and strangers that are way older than him, just for the fun of it. Even though he's younger than us, he's lost his virginity already."
"Well, thanks for the heads-up. I'd better prepare myself." He makes a show of fixing his already-impeccable hair.
I punch him in the arm. "Stop it, you prat. I'm going to make sure that he knows you're mine so that he won't hit on you any more than he does most of the family."
"Oh, Al, you're so sexy when you're possessive," he jests, fanning himself with a manicured hand.
"If you're into that, I'd be happy to brand my name onto your arse."
Choosing to ignore that I'm clearly being sarcastic, he asks, "Shall I bend over, then?"
The suggestive question makes my breathing halt momentarily since I know that he would be perfectly willing to get naked and offer me his flawless arse in the compartment right now. I force myself to look away from his smoldering eyes. "Maybe later."
"Excellent. Having to wait only makes me want it more." His sophisticated voice is arousing me far too much. If he continues, then I'll never be able to finish prepping him for interrogation.
I hastily refocus on the picture, "This is Uncle Percy and Aunt Audrey. Percy is one of my least favourite uncles; he's about as interesting as Binns. Aunt Audrey is really cool, and I don't understand how she and he are compatible. Opposites attract, maybe? Anyway, she wears beads in her hair and rainbow-coloured clothes. She's a huge music buff that's heard of almost every band, wizard or Muggle. I know it sounds like I'm exaggerating, but I'm not! I've purposely looked up really obscure music groups to ask her about, and she always knows who I mean. She and her friends were in a band in their younger days, though they never got very big, so she also knows the mechanics of instruments and vocal chords.
"Lucy, their younger daughter, inherited Aunt Audrey's obsession. Lucy is a pretty laid back person; the only thing that can get her worked up, in a good or bad way, is music. She doesn't ever take her earbuds out unless Gran Weasley tells her to." I have to smile at the fact that Lucy has her music player with her in the photograph, earpieces clearly visible under her short ruby hair. "Lucy's been to loads of concerts, and she brings her guitar with her everywhere in case inspiration for a new song strikes her. It doesn't bother me when she randomly starts playing it because she's really talented.
"Molly, their older daughter, is more like Uncle Percy and Gran…on a bad day…combined." I suppress a wince as my finger drifts over her image in the picture. Her scarlet curls are in two perfect pigtails, and her smile is pretty enough for both a lipstick and a toothpaste advertisement. I don't want to say anything negative about her, but she's the only cousin that I circumvent on a regular basis besides Domi, so Scorpius needs to be warned. "Don't let her doll-like appearance fool you. She has the biggest Weasley temper out of all of us, is the easiest to set off, and has the largest collection of swear words, which she won't hesitate to use no matter which adult is around. No one is sure where she learns them 'cause not even Uncle Ron knows all of the insulting names that she does. My guess is that she makes them up herself and, even though I think she needs anger-management, I have to give her points for creativity."
Scorpius laughs. "That bad, huh? Almost makes me want to hear them."
"You will," I say with conviction. "James can't resist making her angry because he thinks it's hilarious when she tells him off."
"Very mature," Scorpius remarks.
"James is the perfect role model," I agree. We share a look of cynicism. I love James, but I find it infinitely frustrating when he strives to dictate to me how I ought to act and whom I should associate with when he must concentrate on improving his own behaviour first. "And here's his partner in crime," I add, pointing to Fred in the picture. Fred is standing in front of James and the duo bumps their fists together before turning their heads to grin at the camera.
Scorpius nods. "I've seen them together at school."
"As you can see, Fred isn't 'handsome' in a traditional sense." The photo clearly represents his short and stocky build, and his overabundance of freckles. "But his charming grin and carefree attitude make him attractive to a lot of people."
"From what I've seen, both Fred and James are irresponsible, and don't consider their studies a priority over Quidditch and pointless pranks." He sniffs disdainfully. "Neither one of those idiots is attractive."
I smile at my devoted Scorpius, who rarely refers to anyone as 'attractive' other than me and himself. "Fred isn't so bad. He usually takes his antics elsewhere if I tell him to leave me alone. Unlike James." I rub my thumb across Scorpius' where our hands are joined. "Fred also says he won't consider you evil unless you actually do something to warrant the label. Unlike James."
"How thoughtful of him." It's difficult to tell whether Scorpius is being sarcastic or not. "That's more than most people do, I suppose." My boyfriend sighs at the unfortunate truth, and I deem it best to move on to the next individual.
"That's his little sister Roxanne. Everyone calls her Roxy." My fingertip touches the likeness of my only dark-skinned cousin. "She's the only one in the family in Hufflepuff unless you count Uncle Neville's kid."
Scorpius blinks in surprise. "You have a cousin in Hufflepuff?"
"Yeah. She doesn't have red hair or freckles, so I guess most people forget she's a Weasley. Plus, she's mild-tempered, quiet, and doesn't show off her talents. She never draws attention to herself." In the picture, Roxy gives Dominique a thumbs-up when the part-Veela points to her blonde hair and shoots Roxy a questioning look. "I guess that's why she and Domi are close. Domi doesn't see Roxy as a threat, and Roxy likes that Domi does all of the talking. I remember when we were little that Roxy would always let Domi pick the games that they played together." I shrug one shoulder. "If they're happy, I won't judge.
"Fred and Roxy's parents are Uncle George and Aunt Angelina." I intend to explain further, but Scorpius interrupts.
"Isn't he the one who runs the joke shop?"
"Yep, that's him."
"He isn't an avid fan of Van Gogh, is he?"
His reference to the Muggle painter that sliced off his own ear amuses and impresses me, and I laugh. "Nah, he lost his ear in the second war against Voldemort, several months before his twin brother died in the final battle. Fred is named after Uncle George's twin. See the empty space in the picture next to Uncle George? That's for Uncle Fred. We always leave an empty chair at the table for him at holiday feasts at the Burrow, too."
The blond's brow crinkles in deep thought. "This might sound like a stupid question, but…why?"
"I asked about it once when I was really little." I struggle to remember precisely how Dad had worded his response, but it's too difficult since the conversation took place over a decade ago, hence I paraphrase: "It's to show that he will always be loved as part of the family even if he isn't physically present."
"Isn't that a bit morbid?"
Sagely, I consider the inquiry and answer slowly, "I think it's disconcerting for some of us kids to see that the family can't 'let go' of their grief. It might especially bother Fred and Roxy since their dad was closest to Uncle Fred."
"Does it make you uncomfortable?" asks Scorpius, more curious than any other affectivity.
"Not really. I think it helps the older members of the family deal with the loss by being able to show that they haven't forgotten him. They don't have to put on a show of pretending that they don't mind that he's gone, and by keeping the empty seat they're showing that no new people in their lives can ever take Uncle Fred's place as a surrogate brother, son, lover, etcetera."
Grey eyes widen. "Lover?"
Have I never mentioned this to Scorpius? It's personal family business, but I trust him and think that it may benefit him to be aware of it. "Aunt Angelina used to date Uncle Fred. I don't know if they were ever truly 'lovers' - and I don't want to know! – but I do know that after his death, Uncle George and Aunt Angeline sought one another out for comfort because they figured that the other would have a good understanding of the special person that they had lost. Love must've eventually started to form and they got together."
"Or they had sex for solace and distraction, and he got her pregnant, so he married her because he's a chivalrous Gryffindor," he suggests archly, displaying his natural suspiciousness of people and disbelief in romances other than our own.
I roll my eyes and respond dryly, "It would be better if you didn't share such theories while you're at my house."
"Noted," he counters equally as dryly.
"Last, but not least, is my oldest uncle Charlie. He works with dragons in Romania and probably won't be home for the celebration this year."
"I see that he doesn't have a husband with him in the photo. Perhaps he has a lover keeping him away in the exotic country for the holiday." Scorpius sly simper is more alluring than should legally be permitted.
"Maybe, but if he does, I wouldn't know. I like Uncle Charlie, but I don't know him very well since he isn't often in the country, and when he is he spends most of his time with Uncle Bill and Gran and Granddad. Speaking of which, those are my grandparents." I show the couple whose hair is more grey than red now. "Gran is the matriarch of the family; even James tones down his shenanigans around her. Something I've always admired about her is that she normally manages to keep her anger focused on the people that have upset her and doesn't take out her rage on innocent bystanders. Granddad is easy-going and rarely yells at anyone. He's weirdly fascinated by all things Muggle." I chortle, but there's a sad edge to it as I'm forced to add, "Granddad isn't all there these days. He forgets who a lot of his grandkids are. He, uh, usually calls me 'Harry.'"
Scorpius says nothing, but he rests his head against my shoulder so that I can tilt my own head to bring the side of my face in contact with his soft hair and that is more than enough comfort.
"Well, that's all the Weasleys and Potters," I declare after a minute of silence.
"Thank Merlin we're finished." Scorpius leans against the backrest, closing his eyes and sighing with relief.
I hate to burst his bubble, but I have no choice. "We aren't. Not quite."
His eyelids open and he glares out of both fear and irritation. "Pardon?"
"Hagrid may stop by." Scorpius has met my godfather at Hogwarts, hence I go on without describing him. "And there's also-" I turn a page of the album to pictures of two different families of four, "-Aunt Luna, Uncle Rolf, and their sons, who might be around on Easter Sunday. Lorcan is the blond Ravenclaw in Lily and Hugo's year that you've seen me talk to a few times," I remind him and he nods cautiously, recognising the boy. "Lorcan looks like his mum and Lysander like his dad, but they're both clearly Aunt Luna's kids based on their behaviour. They're very…dreamy. You'll see what I mean if you meet them."
I proceed to identify the other visual. "Uncle Neville and-"
"I know Professor Longbottom and his family. Everyone at school does." He's overloaded with information to remember now; I cannot blame him for his annoyance.
"All right." I close the collection of photographs. "That's it, then." He shuts his eyelids in liberation again while I return the album to my trunk. Upon putting the book away, I take some Muggle clothing out. "We should change. We'll be at the station soon."
Scorpius releases a sound of displeasure, but he must comprehend the wisdom of my statement because he retrieves different garments as well. We manage to keep our hands to ourselves as we change, using only our eyes to convey our admiration of each other's bodies, for we know that Rose will be back soon.
"You abandoned your duties," she accuses Scorpius the moment that she re-enters the compartment.
"Prefect rounds aren't my only responsibility. Something more important needed to be taken care of." Scorpius' tart retort indicates that he values me and the step that our relationship is about to take, which causes bubbles of happiness to burst in my chest. Such a reaction could be considered 'girly,' but I don't care in the least because Scorpius is beside me defending our bond.
"You prioritise snogging over-" Rose stops herself mid-tirade, and her visage becomes gentler as she appears to consider something. "You're nervous about staying with our family over break, aren't you?"
Scorpius gives her a contemptuous look as if she crawled out from beneath a rock and used the wrong spoon from a formal table setting. "Of course not. Why should I be?"
"Whatever." She huffs and rolls her eyes, not as unaffected by Scorpius' defensive tendencies as I am, but thankfully willing to overlook them in order to prevent an argument in this case. "I've got to change." She pulls her suitcase down from the holding rack. "I'll see you two at the platform."
"Bye, Rosie," I say and we exchange grins.
After Rose departs, Scorpius mutters, "You'd think she'd feel comfortable taking off her clothes in front of gay men, especially since she's related to one of them."
I shrug. "Even though it wouldn't be traumatic per se, I'd prefer to not undress in front of any of my relatives. She probably feels the same way."
Scorpius makes a sound of acknowledgement.
Neither of us says anything for a while after that, content to stare out the window for the remainder of the journey as we lose ourselves in our own thoughts. My notions include an analysis of the battle strategies used during the Goblin Wars, and how they might be applied in my family's kitchen if fights ensue during Scorpius' visit.
The Hogwarts Express screeches to a halt and jolts me out of my musings. I gaze at Scorpius, who appears dazed as well.
"Knut for your thoughts?" I inquire.
His witty reply is immediate: "They're worth more than that."
Instead of proposing a galleon as payment, I offer, "Kiss for your thoughts?"
Scorpius' lascivious smirk sends signals directly to my groin. "That's my favourite type of currency."
"Then allow me to give you an abundance of wealth" is the cleverest answer that I can formulate under the circumstances. I glide both of my arms around his waist and pull him forcefully into my lap. My dominance is short-lived, however; Scorpius' fingers grip my hair tightly and yank my head to the angle that he prefers so that his tongue is free to invade my mouth in the most splendid of assaults.
I could defy the authority that Scorpius has claimed, but I have another mission to attend to. My hands rove over Scorpius' back, shoulders, chest, face, everywhere while I kiss him back with all of the passion that I dare given our location, attempting to convey how much I appreciate his willingness to subject himself to scrutiny by dozens of people for my sake.
Too soon for my liking, Scorpius breaks the connection of our mouths, and I emit a sound of protest. Breathing heavily, he states, "We're probably the last people left on the train."
Loath as I am to do so, I nod and stand up, effectively ensuring that Scorpius do the same. We swiftly fix our hair (Well, mine is beyond help, but Scorpius returns his to a state of gleaming perfection.) and grab our trunks, preparing to disembark.
"So what were you thinking?" I ask him as we leave the compartment and walk down the empty hallway.
It takes Scorpius a couple of seconds to realise what I mean, and he makes an amused noise when he does. "Gods, Al, I think you overpaid; my thoughts weren't that interesting."
I rejoin, "Let me be the judge of that."
"I was just, you know…hoping that everything goes smoothly." His offhandedness doesn't fool me and he knows it.
Tender concern fills me. "Are you ready?"
"I guess I have to be." His voice and face have sculpted themselves into representations of careful neutrality. That's how I can tell he's still nervous.
"Don't worry; most of my family will like you." He seems unconvinced, and I admit that I am not certain if such optimism is wise either, thus I continue merrily, "And if they don't, then I'll run away and live with your family. They can corrupt me so that the two of us will become the next Dark Lords. That'll make my family regret that they didn't accept our relationship, and we can laugh at their remorse. Our laughter will be maniacal, of course, because we'll be supreme evil overlords by that point."
"That isn't funny, Al," he admonishes, but he's smirking slightly, which is a positive sign. "Anyway, I'm sure I can handle it."
I tease, "Because Malfoys can handle anything?"
"Because you'll be with me." The openness of the statement surprises and delights me. My joy isn't diminished even when he adds impatiently, "Well, let's go already. I don't want your plebian slowness to give your family the impression that I am anything less than punctual."
I take my lover's hand and together we step out of the train and into the sunshine. No matter what happens next, I'll always look back on this day as being perfect.