every Starbucks should have a polar bear (scoradh) wrote,
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HP fic: The Eighth Road Less Travelled

HP fic: The Eighth Road Less Travelled
This part: 5099 words, PG-13, ships getting infinitesimally closer to shore
Previous parts: go here.

a/n: The first rule of Fight Club is, you don't talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is, you don't talk about Fight Club.

I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea,
But we loved with a love that was more than love,
I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the wïnged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.

(Edgar Allen Poe)

Albus lay on his back in the long grass by the lake. Molten sunshine bathed everything in sight with a gold-tinted glare.

Albus viewed the world through a sheer veil hanging from his wide-brimmed straw hat. He was well aware that he looked like something from the lid of a tin of chocolate biscuits, but if it was a choice between getting to relax outside with pollen around every corner, and wearing funny headgear, he'd chose the funny headgear every time.

Norma had screamed with laughter when she saw the hat. Albus was grateful to her for breaking the ice. To be fair, Rambo probably wouldn't have noticed if Albus was wearing a full-length ball gown and a tiara, but both Titania and Scorpius looked like their opinions were torn between horror and pity. Both of them were far too mindful of Albus' feelings to mention it, however. Norma had no such reservations.

"Shall I get you some white gloves to eat your strawberries and cream, your highness?" she'd asked, dropping a mock curtsey. Albus swatted her - "I'll give you white gloves!" - and things were fine after that. Scorpius ventured to ask where he'd got the hat, and they fell into a discussion about Samire and her questionable grasp of sartorial physics.

Exams were over and the whole school was rejoicing. Although the results and rankings were yet to be released, Albus was confident that he had at least passed every subject. Further ambitions on that score had he none. Scorpius had gone around looking pale and drawn for the entire week, while Rambo had taken to muttering spells in his sleep - and setting the bed-curtains on fire more than once.

Now, Scorpius was massaging his left wrist and looking speculatively at his still ink-stained fingers. "I haven't been able to straighten out my hand properly since History of Magic," he announced.

"Me either!" declared Rambo, waving a chubby paw as proof. "But I'm working on combining a muscle-relaxing spell with my mum's hand lotion - it should work a treat."

"Sure." Scorpius looked sorry that he'd ever brought up the topic.

Before Rambo could offer to share some of his concoction - which would probably end up either poisoning him or breaking his fingers - Albus asked, "What are you doing for the summer?"

"Probably going to our house in Italy," replied Scorpius. The way he said it, Albus wouldn’t have been surprised to learn that the house in Italy was built around a pit of scorpions and was assailed daily by axe-wielding barbarian dentists.

"Aunt Hannah's invited us to stay for a month," said Titania.

"Yeah, I think she wishes she had kids of her own." Norma spat out a volley of apple pips. She had the longest range of anyone Albus had ever seen - six feet on a good day.

"Oh yeah," said Rambo, "Dad said to invite all of you to stay if you want. He especially wants to meet you, Al."

"That'd be cool." Albus brightened. The prospect of escaping James was always a promising one.

"I'll write to him when we go back inside," said Rambo, and returned to triangulating magical equations on a bit of dirty parchment.

As midday approached, the sun bleached the still, shimmering water of the Great Lake. Albus retreated to the shade of a willow, soon followed by Scorpius and Titania. Norma and Rambo didn't appear to notice the sunburn reddening the backs of their necks as they argued - Albus was too far away to determine if it were about Rambo's hand lotion idea or something more prosaic, like whether the milk should be added before or after the tea.

Titania quickly made herself comfortable, kicking off her shoes and socks and padding a root with dock leaves. She was soon fast asleep, snoring slightly. Scorpius and Albus sat shoulder to shoulder. The rough bark scratched Albus' back, but he wouldn't have moved for the world. He watched as Scorpius' eyes fluttered before eventually closing, long dark lashes sweeping the purple smudges under his eyes. Albus fell asleep to the sound of his friends' breathing and the chirping of lustful crickets in the grass.

When he opened his eyes again, the sun was riding lower in the sky. The twins and Rambo had disappeared - probably, as Albus' stomach reminded him, because it was nearly dinner time. Scorpius had shifted around in his sleep until his face was pillowed on Albus' shoulder, on to which he was drooling. Albus grinned and wondered what Christine would think of that.

The four Houses mixed far more freely during exam week, as they waited nervously outside the exam halls and compared notes afterwards. Albus had been unwillingly privy to a conversation between a smug Christine and a few of her sycophantic cronies, during which Christine described Scorpius as her 'Prince Charming.' Albus had been waiting for a chance to drop that gem into the conversation - Scorpius was so prickly about what they called the Girlfriend Situation that doing it at the wrong time would be an invitation to getting his head chewed off.

Albus stared out across the lake, the smile melting off his face. Nothing about the Girlfriend Situation tickled him for long. A fortnight before exams started, Scorpius had started wearing a plaited unicorn wristlet. He'd nearly given Norma a black eye when she teased him over it. Albus didn't like the fact that Scorpius was so unwilling to share that part of his life with the rest of them, although by now he shouldn't have been surprised.

He also didn't like Christine very much. Before she'd set her sights on Scorpius, Albus had probably thought her a very pretty girl. She had big brown velvety eyes ('like chocolate buttons,' Rambo had said wistfully) and a drop of olive in her skin. She looked like a Mediterranean princess; it was a perfect contrast to Scorpius' arctic features.

But Christine was arrogant and self-centred and reminded Albus far too much of James and Rose. She'd also pushed a wedge between Scorpius and his friends. Albus just didn't understand why Scorpius needed a girlfriend at all. All five of them could have made friendship bracelets if Scorpius was so invested in arm jewellery. He could have held hands with Norma or Titania in the halls - hell; he could have held hands with Albus, if it was so important to him.

In Albus’ eyes the negligible appeal seemed to be vastly outweighed by the negatives. Like having to carry Christine's books, and listen to the ninnies that passed for Christine's friends, and basically just be around Christine at all. Albus was the only one of Scorpius' friends that Christine approved of, and at that only barely. Albus knew that Christine thought Rambo was weird and dangerous, and the twins, criminally unfeminine. Albus remained amazed at Scorpius' ignorance of her opinions. At least he hoped it was ignorance. The alternative - that Scorpius knew about Christine's opinions and didn't care, or worse, agreed - didn't bear thinking about.

His vision was dazzled when he finally blinked himself free of his thoughts. A tall, loping figure was making its way across the lawn to him. As it came closer and Albus' eyes remembered how to focus, he saw that it was Morse Lovegood.

"Hello," said Morse. Albus sat up straighter and pushed his hat back.

"Hey, Morse," he said. "How were your exams?"

Morse shrugged. "Reasonable, I suppose. I think examinations are a facile way of testing our abilities, but I daresay I passed all the same. What about you?"

"By the skin of my teeth in Potions," said Albus, "but otherwise okay."

"You've missed a lot of classes from being sick - you should be happy with just passing."

Albus bristled. "Being sick is no reason to fail exams. Besides, I kept up with my homework every time I was in the infirmary."

"Of course." Morse had large eyes; the irises were such a pale blue they almost blended into his corneas. He could smile with his eyes even when his mouth was stationary, and he was doing it now. "I didn't mean to offend you. I know some people regard illness as a sign of weakness, but I think it's a test of fortitude."

"A test from who?"

"I don't know." Morse shrugged expansively. "God, the universe, your own personal demons. I've known people sicker than you who've achieved more than most healthy people, and I definitely know people who'd stop the world because they sprained a toe. Everyone can see when you're being tested, but it doesn't mean that the tests don't come to everyone eventually."

"Some people could definitely do with a really hard test," said Albus, thinking of his brother and his cousin.

"You can be assured," said Morse, "that they are the ones already being tested with the most pain." He rummaged in his pocket. Albus saw that Morse’s black robes were covered over in patchwork diamonds of all colours and patterns, stitched on with large loops of red yarn. The effect was both strange and interesting. "Discussions of a philosophical nature are not why I sought you today, however. Here."

He held out a crumpled yellow envelope. Curiosity piqued, Albus pulled out the gilt-edged card inside and read the printed message.

"Your mum's getting married?" said Albus. He was a little shocked - the parents of most people he knew were married already. But at the same time it was kind of fun. Albus would have liked to go to his own parents' wedding, mainly to see if their hair really was as tragic back then as it looked in the photographs.

Morse nodded. "On the twenty-first of June - the summer solstice. Luna said I could invite a number of people from school as my own guests. Your parents will be getting an invitation from her, of course, but this one's for you."

"Does that mean my brother and sister aren't invited?" asked Albus.

"I'm afraid they're not," said Morse, sounding worried. "I thought you might like to come, because you use one of my mother's wands and we're in the same House. But I've already given all my other invitations away."

"No, that's great," said Albus. "I mean, it's great that I won't have to put up with James. I'd love to come."

"That's wonderful news - I'll write to Luna and Rolf immediately." Morse smiled with his mouth as well as his eyes; the effect was that of the sun coming out from behind a cloud.

"Do you call your parents by their first names?" said Albus. "Luna's your mum's given name, right?"

"I always have done," said Morse. "I think I used to call Luna 'mummy' when I was very small, but my father was always Dean to me. After a while, I suppose I realised that Luna was more than just my mother, and it felt unfair to call her that."

"Wait," said Albus, slightly dizzy, "then - Rolf? He isn't your dad?"

"No," said Morse. He sounded surprised at the question. "Silly me, I always assume everyone knows that Dean Thomas is my father. He lives in America now, but he and Luna haven't been involved since before I was born."

"That's -"

"Strange, I know," said Morse.

"I was going to say awesome," said Albus. "I mean, you have to get twice as many presents at Christmas - and you get to go to America when you want to see your dad!"

"No one's ever put it like that before," said Morse thoughtfully. "Anyway, I must leave you now. If I stand in the sun much longer I'll end up black and red instead of black and white, and that would greatly confuse people."

Albus waved him off, inadvertently jolting Scorpius awake. Scorpius smacked his dry lips together. "Whazzat? What'd I miss?"

"I got a wedding invitation," said Albus gleefully.

"Luna Lovegood and Rolf Scamander," read Scorpius aloud. "Now there's a match made in heaven."

"Not everyone can be you and Christine," snapped Albus. Scorpius opened his eyes wider.

"I didn't mean it like that," he said. "Luna's a naturalist of some renown, and Rolf's dad wrote that famous Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. When people who have a lot in common get married it's normal to call it a match made in heaven. Just for your information."

"Oh," said Albus, chastened.

"Unless you have any more criticisms to make about me," said Scorpius coolly, "how about we go in for dinner?"

Albus scrambled to his feet and caught up with Scorpius, who was striding away through the dry grass. "Listen - wait, I'm sorry!"

"What for?" Scorpius stopped and waited for Albus to catch his breath, although it probably had more to do with Scorpius not wanting to bring on an attack than a gesture of comradeship.

What for, indeed? Albus was mainly sorry that Scorpius and Christine had ever crossed paths. He shrugged, but before he could come up with a suitably vague reply, a horribly familiar laugh rang out across the grounds.

"Wonderful," said Albus, and to Scorpius' raised eyebrows he added, "Here comes James."

James, Rose and a hunting pack of Gryffindors were roving the lawn, cutting off Albus and Scorpius from the main doors. To get inside they'd have to break through enemy ranks or else go the long way around by the greenhouses. When James spotted them and smiled menacingly, even the latter option was nullified.

"Your brother really doesn't like you, does he?" Scorpius eyed the approaching Gryffindors warily.

"Believe me," said Albus through gritted teeth, "the feeling is entirely mutual."

"Albus!" called James, mock-heartily. "I nearly didn't recognise you in that bonnet. So chic. I've always wanted a drag queen for a brother."

Albus scanned the immediate area, searching for an escape route. Rose was smiling at James' words, and a couple of other Gryffindors were guffawing. If there hadn't been such an undercurrent of spite hidden beneath James' words, even Albus might have found them a little funny.

James strolled closer, hands plunged deep into his robe pockets. "And if it isn't the would-be saviour of soft toys everywhere, Scorpion Malfoy himself! Is this my lucky day or what?"

"My name is Scorpius, you imbecile." Scorpius' chin was up; the fight was on.

A chorus of 'Ooh-er's broke out from the assembled Gryffindors. James staggered backwards in a pretend swoon. "It speaks!"

"Let's go," said Albus to Scorpius, who nodded. They took a step towards the castle, but suddenly James was blocking their way.

"Leaving so soon? And we haven't even had a chance to catch up."

"Piss off," snarled Albus. James smacked him lightly on the cheek.

"Such crudity deserves to be punished," he said. "I take it you haven't said anything to Ma or Da about your little escapade in the woods, which is right and proper. But I just want to make sure you keep up the good work."

"I'm not a tattletale." Albus shifted his gaze to Rose, who flushed angrily. "If Aunt Hermione finds out about that it won't be me who told her."

"Here's the thing, though." James leaned close to whisper in his ear. "Two weeks of detention takes a lot of explaining away. Not to mention that Bones is probably going to say something in her end-of-term report - something, maybe, about Rose taking a kiddie’s toy for a joke, and the joke getting out of hand?"

Albus felt his blood boil at the dismissive way James mentioned Mouse. He bit his lip till he tasted copper, desperately wanting to avoid showing his resentment to a boy who would use it as a weapon.

"So -" James tweaked the veil of Albus' hat "- what you need to do is write a letter to Aunt Hermione first, telling her that it was all a mistake - and that the reason you didn't explain it to Bones was that you were busy having one of your pathetic episodes -"

"I'll tell her nothing of the sort," said Albus. "If Rose didn't want to get in trouble maybe she shouldn't have stolen something from another person's tent and purposely destroyed it."

"I was afraid you'd be like this," sighed James. "Rose?"

"On it," said Rose. The Gryffindors circled James and Albus, hiding them from plain view. "We're clear."

"Consider this a little added persuasion," said James, and punched Albus in the stomach.

Albus was prepared for it; he clenched his stomach muscles just before impact, which lessened the blow. His hands sought out James' hair - twice as long as Albus', because James was affected and vain - and pulled two handfuls in opposite directions. James landed another punch and began to scratch Albus' face. Albus tackled him to the ground. While James kicked like a ninja, Albus bit anything he could find.

James was Albus' superior in strength and skill, but Albus had one thing going for him that made their fights evenly matched: pure, white-hot battle rage. When he was seven James had broken his arm and Albus had still ripped James' earlobe clean away from his skull with his teeth. They told Mum they'd fallen down the stairs while wrestling.

Somewhere beyond the buzzing that rattled his skull from within, Albus could hear shouts. A few of them sounded like they belonged to Scorpius. Albus was vaguely aware of the fact that he wouldn't win this fight, not with ten Gryffindors ready to take James' place and afterwards swear blind that Albus had been mauled by the Giant Squid. When hands tugged at his shoulders he wrenched away, ripping the seams of his robes. Only when Scorpius screamed in his ear did Albus let his body go slack.

James was lying on the grass, coughing up blood and what looked like a couple of teeth. Instinctively Albus felt around the inside of his mouth with his tongue, but all his teeth seemed intact for once. Scorpius was still shouting - but not at him.

"- dare you!" he was yelling at James. "Don't you realise your brother is sick? He's too weak to fight you! Why don't you pick on someone your own size?"

"What?" Albus pulled himself out of Scorpius' grasp. With a final gasp, his sleeve gave up the ghost and parted ways with the rest of his robe. He saw that he had a long scratch down his arm that was beading with blood. "What are you doing?"

Scorpius was pale as death, his hair matted with sweat. "He jumped on you - he's - you're barely able to -"

"Don't you dare pity me!" Albus' scream rent the air and he was away, running as fast as his legs would take him from the Judas who'd betrayed him.


All in all it had been a clean enough fight on Albus' side. He had a few deep scratches and some sore places that would be mottled bruises by morning, but nothing was broken or seriously damaged. Albus sat on his bed, his tongue sticking out with concentration as he bathed the scratches in Murtlap tentacle juice. His robe was a write-off, but with any luck he'd have grown out of it by next term anyway.

It was the first time he'd been alone in the dormitory all year. He hadn't felt like facing people, so he avoided the Great Hall and managed to beg a few ham sandwiches from the house elves. House elves being house elves, he'd come away with half a pig stuffed between enough freshly-baked bread to feed an army, not to mention a whole pitcher of cranberry juice all to himself. As dinner hour came and went, the dormitory remained empty. Rambo was obviously in the Clubhouse. Eoghan and Conan were probably in the common room or even outside, soaking up the last rays of the evening.

Albus was just dozing off - the exertions of the fight had really taken it out of him - when there was a scuffle of excited feet on the stairs outside. A moment later Eoghan burst into the room, Conan hot on his heels.

"There's a Slytherin in the common room and it's all your fault!" declared Eoghan. Conan rolled his eyes.

"It's your friend, the Malfoy kid," he said. "You'd better come quickly, or he's going to get lynched. Penwyn has already given him detention for the rest of the week."

"Scorpius is here?" said Albus stupidly, but he followed his dorm-mates into the common room.

Scorpius was standing in the middle of what looked like every Hufflepuff in the building, his face proud and defiant. Raymond Skeeter-Cresswell was shouting something about trespassing, but it was clear Scorpius wasn't taking in a word. His eyes latched on to Albus', and Albus nearly tripped over his own feet trying to maintain the contact.

"How did you -" asked Albus, as soon as he got within hearing range.

"Rambo," said Scorpius. "Voley was surprised to see me - although not as surprised as I was to see him. 'Haven't had a Slytherin in these quarters for three hundred years,' he said."

"I can't say I find that surprising," said Albus. "So that's 'how are you here?' Now for the 'why are you here?'"

"To apologise," said Scorpius simply. "I'd rather do this somewhere else, but I wasn't sure how soon you'd be ready to talk, and I'm leaving tomorrow."

"Leaving tomorrow?" Albus felt his stomach plummet. "Why?"

Scorpius' eyes darted sideways, to where Penwyn was fondling his wand in a distinctly unfriendly manner. "Our plans have changed," he said evasively. Albus realised Scorpius didn't relish the thought of discussing his family in front of Hufflepuff House.

"Come on," said Albus, relenting. "Let's go talk."

"It's nearly curfew," Raymond called out. "If you're one second late coming in that door -"

"You'll give me detention, I know," said Albus impatiently. "How stunningly original." He grabbed Scorpius by the arm and dragged him out of there, before Raymond decided to forego traditional methods of punishment in favour of hexing both of them into next Wednesday.

The Clubhouse was empty when they arrived. The windows were wide open, letting in a refreshing breeze. Albus sat in his usual hammock. After a little hesitation, Scorpius slipped in beside him.

"The others outside?" Albus asked.

"I suppose so. I asked them to ... let us have some time alone." Scorpius took a deep breath. "I was really angry at James for attacking you. I was ready to fight him myself because of it. What I don't understand is why you're angry with me."

"Because," said Albus, "you as good as said I was too weak to stand up for myself."

"But you are too weak to stand up for yourself," said Scorpius, sounding eerily like Norma. "You've been seriously ill three times this year. Last I checked professional duellers didn't include immunity diseases in their training regimens."

"You don't get it." Albus squeezed a pillow, watching his knuckles whiten. "It doesn't matter if we were ... unfairly matched, or something. It doesn't matter if I lose. What matters is that I try. Lots of people, people who aren't sick, wouldn't be able to beat James in a fight. That's not the point."

"But it kind of is," said Scorpius. "You don't get it either. You don't know how horrible it is when you're lying there in the infirmary, looking like you've already ... I hate seeing you get hurt, don't you understand that?"

"You do?" Albus scratched his neck uncertainly. "I didn't realise - look, I thought you were feeling sorry for me. I hate when people feel sorry for me. I didn't feel sorry for you when you were worried about your mum having a baby. Your pity makes me pathetic."

"I'm sorry if my sympathy offends you," snapped Scorpius, "but I can't stop feeling one way just because you don't like it. And I don't think you're pathetic at all. James is the pathetic one, bullying you like that."

"He's not bullying me!"

"Oh." Scorpius' mouth went tender. "I see." He pushed the pillow gently aside and took Albus' hand, gripping it hard. His palm was soft and hot.

After a minute, Albus squeezed back. At that moment he thought he understood why Scorpius wanted to hold hands with Christine so much: because it felt good, and comforting, and right.

"You want to stand up to him to prove you're not a victim."

"I'm not a victim!"

"I know." Scorpius' voice was soothing, as soothing as the little circles his thumb was tracing on Albus' wrist. "I know."

Albus let his eyes fall shut, let his body relax against Scorpius'. His voice, when he finally spoke, was drowsy. "I got dragon-pox when I was three years old," he said. "We were visiting my Uncle Charlie at a dragon reserve and James accidentally pushed me into a dung-pit. James ... he always hated to get into trouble, so he ran off and hid. It was hours before anyone found me. By then I'd been exposed to the fumes for too long for the normal potions to work. I was in St Mungo's for six months that time. They thought I was going to lose my magic. Eventually they managed to clear my temporal gland, but the pox started attacking my immune system instead. By the time they actually got rid of it, my immunity was permanently damaged."

Scorpius shifted, leaning back slightly so that Albus could fit his head into the crook of Scorpius' neck. "At first I just used to get colds. Colds, all the time, all during summer. Then it was ear infections and 'flus. See, they didn't realise my immune system was shot until I was about six. Lily was four by then. Her and Mum and me went to France to see a specialist Healer - Samire, the lady you met in March. We lived there for a year.

“Samire managed to get my immune system stabilised. We went home, I had an attack and nearly died, so me and Mum went back to France and stayed there till I was ten. Samire put me on some seriously heavy-duty potions. They worked, but I used to get diarrhoea, vomit blood, my eyes were yellow, my skin was grey. James called me a monster. We only saw each other a couple of times a year. He was really attached to Mum, but she and Dad decided it would be better for James and Lily to stay in England with Dad. To pretend everything was normal. James has never, ever forgiven me for taking Mum away."

Albus stopped talking, his mouth parched. Scorpius' fingers were entwined with his so tightly they looked as if they'd been born that way.

"And now? What potions are you on now?"

"The strongest ones I can be on. I need to wait till I'm older to start taking adult potions - I mean, my growth has already been stunted. The full-on potions might make me infertile, or I could permanently lose my hair. Samire said I need to give my body time to adjust. Till then, I have to stay away from triggers that will make my immune system attack itself, because it's completely unregulated. It can't tell the difference between the triggers and, like, my liver, or my blood."

"Oh god." Scorpius sounded strange. When Albus turned his head, he realised it was because Scorpius was crying. "Don't - I'm not pitying you, I'm just -"

"I used to cry a lot," mused Albus. "There were weeks when I could hardly move, when I was so sick it felt like my body was eating itself. I don't cry any more."

"What do you want?" Scorpius' face was haggard. "I mean - tell me what to do."

"I'd prefer you not to mention it, or talk about it," said Albus. "I really just want to be normal - or as close as I can get."

"Okay," said Scorpius.

"You can start by telling me why you're going home early - Prince Charming."

"Oh, just so Mother can take Celerity to see our grandparents there - wait, what? Prince what?"

Albus grinned ferally. "I overheard your girlfriend calling you that. You know ..." he stared thoughtfully at Scorpius' mop of curls "... a nice big crown would really go with your eyes."

"Shuddup," growled Scorpius.

"How about a white horse? Can't be Prince Charming without a white horse. Or maybe a broomstick painted white."

"She - you shouldn't take that seriously." Scorpius' cheeks were bright pink.

"Tell me something," said Albus, unable to stop himself, "why?"

"Why? Because Christine only says things like that to -"

"No, I mean - why do you have a girlfriend?"

"Well, she asked me," said Scorpius. "And I couldn't see any reason to say no."

"But you don't need another friend when you have us."

"Albus ..." Scorpius shook his head. "A girlfriend isn't the same as a girl who's your friend."

"Yeah, I know." Albus made a face. "With a girlfriend you have to hold hands and carry her books. Big deal."

Scorpius was quiet for a moment, his thumb still tapping Albus' wrist absent-mindedly. When he spoke, his voice was husky. "There's also the kissing and stuff."

"Kissing - wait, you kiss her? Gross!" Albus dropped Scorpius' hand to scrub at his ears. Then a stronger force than instinctive disgust overtook him. "Where? On the cheek?"

"Usually." Scorpius' voice was almost inaudible. "But also ... on the mouth."

"On the mouth!" screamed Albus. "So you've got girl germs all inside you? That's horrible - completely horrible and twisted."

"We've only done it twice," said Scorpius hastily. "It's actually kind of nice."

"It's kissing! It's not nice!"

"Don't knock it till you've tried it." Scorpius was laughing now. "Sooner or later we all have to do it."

Albus shuddered. "I'm not kissing Christine. Yuk."

"I should think not. She's my girlfriend."

But not forever, Albus hoped.

Scorpius looped his fingers into Albus' again. "That Penwyn Jones is a piece of work, isn't he?"

"At least he'll be gone next year," said Albus. "My ambition is to not get any detentions at all once he’s gone."

Scorpius smirked, eking a twin smile from Albus' still horror-rounded lips. "We should aim higher than that. There's still a few days left of term. You still have those Dysentery Drops, don't you?"

"Yeah, in my trunk, but why - oh."

"You're thinking what I'm thinking," said Scorpius, and Albus nodded.

"Payback is sweet."

They sat in the hammock till the sun set, plotting with hands clasped.
Tags: hp fic, the road less travelled

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