The Quidditch League Fanfiction Competition- Round 9

Team: Falmouth Falcons

Author: MaryRoyale

Position: Beater #2

Optional Prompts Used: Blankets, Uncovered, Birthday

Story Prompt: What if one of the Next Generation was born with a mental or physical disability? (E.g. Rose is deaf/Lily can't walk/Dominique is autistic, etc.)

Title: A Square Peg
Official Disclaimer: The original characters of this story are the property of the J.K. Rowling. No infringement of pre-existing copyright is intended. It is my contention that this work of fan fiction is fair use under copyright law. No monies were received for receipt of this work.

Pairing: Albus Severus/Scorpius

Rating: T
Word Count: approx. 1750

Author's Note: I happen to have a son with ASD-NOS (Autism Spectrum Disorder Not Otherwise Specified) and my SO is a proud Aspie. Our family subscribes to the belief that Autism is an expression of neural diversity. One of the best resources out there (that we've found) is the Autism Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN) "Nothing About Us Without Us". I've tried to approach this story from Albus' perspective, or as closely as I can since I am not able to speak from that perspective. I haven't meant to bash Ginny in any way shape or form, but I have tried to show how stressful and painful it can be for a parent to have a child with a mental disability. In addition, there is some divisiveness in the Autistic community between groups like Autism Speaks which insist on treating Autism as though it is some type of disease that can be cured and the ASAN which wants people with Autism to be treated as people whose brains are hard-wired a different way (hence the phrase 'neural diversity'). I know this is a really long author's note and I apologize, but I felt that this story deserved a little background/intro.

From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.

-excerpt from "Alone" by Edgar Allan Poe

Albus had known that he was different—that he was special—for a very long time. When he was small he hadn't liked being held and he would always squirm to get down. He would run and hide under his favourite blanket to help muffle the noises when they got to be too much. He heard the adults talking over him and around him and they threw out words that he didn't understand, but he didn't care about any of that anyway. When the adults uncovered him and shooed him into the play room where it was loud and noisy he would cry and kick his feet.

Once a reporter had trapped him Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes and asked him if he wasn't proud of his father for saving their world. Albus hadn't known what she meant. Mum always said that Dad saved the day when he stopped by the market on the way home and picked up bread or milk. Albus tried to picture his father delivering bread and milk to every home in wizarding Britain and shook his head in disbelief. Reporters were crazy. When he was small he had thought that the most important wizard in the entire wizarding world was his Uncle Charlie because he worked with dragons.

Just because Albus was quiet and only spoke when he felt he needed to do so did not mean he was deaf. It certainly didn't mean that he couldn't understand what people said about him.

"All I'm saying Harry is that we should listen to this Muggle speaker." His mum was speaking in a loud, agitated voice that grated on Albus' nerves and made him anxious.

"Hermione and I have both tried to explain this to you, Ginny; I don't know why you won't listen. Albus' brain is hard-wired a certain way—there's no cure for that." His dad was speaking in the tightly controlled way he did when he was upset.

"Don't you want him to be normal?" His mum's voice cracked and Albus thought he heard her sniffle a little.

"I love my son the way he is," his dad had growled, "just because something is different doesn't mean it's wrong."

When Albus was eleven and headed to Hogwarts he had asked his dad a very important question: what if he was Sorted into Slytherin? Albus had known even before they'd arrived at platform 9 ¾ where he would go; every year that they'd brought Teddy and then James had only reinforced Albus' belief that he belonged in Slytherin. The Gryffindors were always so loud and rowdy, the Hufflepuffs were barely any better, and sometimes the Ravenclaws' 'debates' were very loud indeed. In contrast, the Slytherins were always quiet. The Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors hugged and pounded one another on the back frequently. The Slytherins nodded to one another. If that weren't enough to convince Albus the colours did. Sure Gryffindor and Ravenclaw might claim that their Houses' colours were gold and bronze, but on the scarves and ties it just looked yellow or orange and Albus couldn't bear the colour yellow and loathed orange. The soothing silver and green of Slytherin appealed to Albus far more than the other Houses ever could.

"I'm Malfoy. Scorpius Malfoy," a young blond boy had said when Albus sat down. He held out his hand politely.

Albus stared at his hand for a moment and then took it tentatively. "Potter. Albus Potter."

"What was it like—growing up with the Saviour of the Wizarding World?" A breathless Hufflepuff gushed at him in Potions class.

Albus flinched back from the girl who was crowding his space and leaning toward him. She was gazing up at him raptly and Albus wanted nothing more than to get away from her. What was it like to grow up with his dad? Albus didn't understand what she meant by the question. What was what like?

"Excuse me, you're in my seat," Scorpius Malfoy drawled in an icy voice.

The Hufflepuff blinked and looked up at him uncertainly. Her eyes widened and she squeaked. Scorpius dropped his book bag and sat down next to Albus who was staring at him in shock.

"If you want I can leave," Scorpius muttered and the tips of his ears turned pink.

"Thank you," Albus said at last. "For making her go away."

"Oh that." Scorpius shrugged. "I have to deal with that sort of thing all the time."

"Your father is the Saviour of the Wizarding World as well?" Albus asked curiously. Were there a lot of them?

Two high spots of colour bloomed in Scorpius' cheeks. "No. Rather the opposite actually."

Albus blinked. He wasn't certain what to say to that. "Well… thank you."

"You're welcome," Scorpius murmured.

More than anyone else ever before Scorpius seemed to understand Albus. Without Albus ever asking or saying anything his fellow Slytherin acted as a cushioning buffer between him and the outside world. Scorpius' arched brow and a pointed glance from those silver eyes caused most people to leave Albus alone for which he was immensely grateful. Scorpius wrote to his grandmother and asked her to send several books on dragons that Albus had never seen before. His exuberant hug and the spontaneous kiss on the cheek made Scorpius blush furiously. Albus paused uncertainly.

"Should I—was that wrong?" Albus asked worriedly.

Scorpius shook his head. "No… it was fine."

"I'm sorry," Albus apologized. "I don't know why I did that. I never… I'm sorry."

"It's all right, Albus," Scorpius said in a firm voice.

In their sixth year, Albus received an engraved invitation to spend his Christmas holidays at Malfoy Manor. The invitation was on thick, creamy vellum. The engraving had been bespelled just so, the invitation folded just so, and a perfect circle of wax sealed it just so. Albus didn't want to crack the wax and spoil it so he sat for several long minutes staring at the invitation in his hands.

"You don't have to come if you'd rather not," Scorpius told Albus in a low voice.

With a slight wince Albus cracked the wax. The invitation was just as perfectly executed as Albus had expected. The small RSVP slip fluttered onto the table between Albus and Scorpius. Albus carefully ticked the 'accept' box on the slip and slipped it into the small return envelope. The owl made a regal little bow and extended his leg.

"What will your family say?" Scorpius asked later.

Albus shrugged. "They'll most likely yell a lot." He paused and snuck a look at his boyfriend. "My grandmother will probably try to convince my mum and dad to forbid it or something, but they won't."

Scorpius frowned and Albus knew that his boyfriend was unhappy that his family would yell when he knew how much it would upset Albus. It wasn't that Scorpius was over-protective of Albus, but rather that he didn't like Albus being upset for any reason. That was one of the reasons Albus loved him.

"Is it… is it because of my family?" Scorpius asked at last.

Albus shook his head. "No. Gran thinks I should be tucked up in cotton. She thinks it's not safe for me to…," he paused and waved a hand between himself and Scorpius. "You know."

Both of Scorpius' eyebrows rose and he smirked at Albus. "No, I don't know. Why don't you explain it to me? In great detail."

"Oh shut up," Albus said and threw a pillow at his head.

"You are not what I expected."

Albus did not glance up from the chessboard. He could feel Lucius Malfoy watching him with a thoughtful expression. He examined the board carefully and finally moved his piece. He glanced at Scorpius' grandfather from under his lashes.

"Your move, sir," Albus murmured.

Lucius gave a sharp bark of laughter that sounded vaguely rusty, as though the Malfoy patriarch didn't laugh often. He turned to Scorpius. "I like him, Scorpius. My move indeed, young man."

Graduation made Albus uneasy. He wasn't certain what to do with himself or where he fit. James had already completed his Auror training last year and he had joined Dad in the DMLE. Their cousins all had respectable jobs in the MoM or working for Gringott's. Most of them had done a stint at Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes, but Albus couldn't bear the noise and the flashes of light.

It was his eighteenth birthday and his mum had made sure that it was just them so that it was quiet. James had to leave early for his shift and Lily had gone up to her room to write to Hugo. That left just Albus and his parents sitting in the kitchen sipping at cups of tea. The arrival of the Malfoy owl with a sleek black box at Number 12 Grimmauld Place changed everything causing an uproar that made Albus cringe and cover his ears instinctively.

"But Harry he can't! He just… he's not able to…," his mum's voice rose in agitation and Albus made a distressed noise.

"Albus can do a great many things that people have said he couldn't," his dad countered tightly.

"But this! And with Malfoy of all people," his mum protested.

"Scorpius seems like a nice enough boy," his dad replied.

"Scorpius is wonderful," Albus said staunchly. "He keeps people away when I need him to, and he writes out schedules for everything for me. He loves me."

"But can… do you love him?" His mum was upset. Her flushed face and the tears on her cheeks were clear enough even for him.

Albus nodded. "Yes," he said simply. He looked at his dad for a moment and then turned back to his mum. "Just because it's different doesn't make it wrong, Mum."

She paled and then she flushed again. "I just worry about you," she said at last. "I love you, too, you know."

"I know, Mum." Albus agreed.

"You want this?" His dad asked in a gentle voice.

Albus took the slim black case and opened it. Inside was a thick man's bracelet made of silver dragons with green eyes. He smiled and traced one of the dragons. "Yes."

"All right then," his dad said with a firm glance at his mum.

She sighed. "All right then."