Albus lay on his bed in the Ravenclaw dorm. It was mid afternoon, the sun was shining through the windows, and the leaves hadn't even started to turn yellow yet. His thin arms were thrown over his face and he looked miserable. Rose Weasley walked in and sat on next to him.

"I heard shouting," she said softly. "Trouble in paradise?"

He grunted affirmatively. "If you can even still call it that. He won't tell his parents, and that means we can't tell, like, anybody. And it's making me miserable. I don't know how much longer I can deal with it. I need to tell people. And I don't know why I can't just live with it, Rosie." His arms fell off of his eyes and he stared up at his cousin with pleading wire-rimmed green eyes.

She touched his hair gently. "Al, you know it's his choice."

He groaned and rolled away from her. "I know. That's what everybody says. But nobody gets that it affects me, too. I can't come out because then everybody will know that he's gay, too. Because we're so close."

She lay down beside him and the two stared at the ceiling together.

"Al, I hate to say this, but you can't force him to come out. You need to decide whether or not Scorpius is more important to you than being open with this part of yourself."

They lay in silence for a while, Albus grateful for Rose's calming presence beside him.

She glanced over, barely daring to move. He was asleep, so she stood up quietly and left.

His eyes opened and stared at Scorpius's bed beside his for a long time. He didn't go down to dinner.

-o-

By the time Scorpius Malfoy and Michael Blaxley returned from Quidditch practice that evening, Albus's curtains were already closed. Scorpius pointedly didn't look at the bed where the slim boy lay quietly. The two boys put away their brooms and left. Michael slung his arm casually around Scorpius's neck as they walked away joking quietly. "What's up with him?" asked Michael as they left the doorframe. Albus couldn't hear Scorpius's answer.

The two boys descended the stairs to the Ravenclaw common room. Their hair was still wet from the showers after Quidditch, and they slung themselves casually over the couches. Michael's girlfriend, Maegan Burkes, walked over and set beside them. A few of their friends walked over. "Where's Albus?" asked Lena Farley, a petite girl with dark eyes.

"Sleeping," Michael said before Scorpius could. "He's upstairs. Right, Scorp?"

Scorpius nodded. He felt badly about their argument before.

"Good," Lena smiled as she tucked herself into Scorpius's side. He tightened his arm around her. He knew his close relationship with Albus gave rise to many rumors, and he couldn't have those getting back to his parents. She pulled her feet up and leaned into him.

Albus had never really seemed to fit into Scorpius's group of friends. He and Rose had always seemed to be their own sect within it, a quiet, studious pair even for Ravenclaws. Scorpius knew well that they only were permitted in his group because of Albus and Scorpius's "friendship." He sighed. He missed Albus, even though it had only been a few hours.

"How was practice?" Maegan asked, breaking into Scorpius's train of thought.

"Brilliant!" Michael stood up with the force of his exclamation. "You should have seen Scorp, Maegan. I swear, he's five times as good as Gryffindor's keeper. Definitely going to be captain next year. Didn't let a single shot get even close to the goalposts this time, not even when Marie and Kate did the Mercury-Taryen Flip."

"Ooh, what's that?" Lena blinked up at Scorpius.

"So Marie has the Quaffle, right? And she reverse passes it to Kate, who does a backward flip and while she's upside down, she lets go and Marie hits it in. I mean, they don't do it at the speed that Kevin Mercury and Louisa Taryen from the Stonewall Stormers—Canadians, of course—do, but it's still a highly advanced move. I mean, they used it in the North American Quidditch Cup Finals against the Finches, and got in what, thirty points from that move alone? It's brilliant. And Scorp saved it, every time. We're definitely going to win the cup this year." He paused, his overwhelming excitement dissipating suddenly. That is, if we could find someone to replace Ovian."

The other fifth-years nodded solemnly. It was a well-known fact that Trevor Ovian was a horrible Seeker. He was built like the Slytherin Beaters, but he had been the only one to try out for the position.

"Merlin, I don't think we're going to win a single game this year with him, do you Scorp?"

Scorpius shook his head. "Not with that prat Seeking. He couldn't catch it if it was sitting on his nose."

Kate and Marie joined the group. "Who are we talking about? Ovian?" the red-headed Kate asked.

Scorpius nodded. "Idiot," he smirked.

Michael flung himself back down onto the couch next to Maegan. "Too bad Potter's nothing like his father. We could use a Seeker like Harry Potter."

Scorpius nodded again, but didn't respond. He wished they knew that Albus could, in fact, Seek. Quite well, actually. He just didn't want to be known for that, preferring to be remembered for his excellent grades. Plus, he was scared that if he joined the Quidditch team and then came out as gay, everybody would be scared of him.

Marie blinked. "We should recruit him. No way he can be worse than Ovian. It would give you time to spend with your boyfriend, Scorp."

Scorpius froze. Boyfriend? Did she know? Had Albus told her?

The rest of the group laughed, and Scorpius relaxed slightly. He carefully directed the topic away from Albus Severus Potter.

That night, when Scorpius walked into the bedroom with Michael and their other roommates, he noticed that Albus was still apparently asleep. He sighed. He would have liked to talked to Al, to apologize. He checked carefully to make sure that nobody around him could hear, and then whispered softly, "Goodnight, Al." He didn't hear a sound from inside the curtains.

-o-

The next morning at dawn, Albus woke up to the sun's rays filtering through the blue drapes on the windows. His blond boyfriend had left his curtains open, and he stared unabashedly at his muscular body for a minute. This might be his last chance. He had thought hard last night, and had decided that he couldn't live with himself anymore. He still wanted to talk to James, though. He hoped his brother would be at breakfast.

Surprisingly, he was. Just past seven thirty, James and his girlfriend Elizabeth Washington walked into the hall to sit at the Gryffindor table. Albus treaded gingerly over to the Gryffindor table and sat beside them. The Dining Hall on Saturday morning was blissfully empty.

"Al!" James said, surprised. Albus rarely was awake this early. He slept in most days.

"Good morning, Albus," Elizabeth said in her American accent. Albus had always found it ironic how she was American and yet her name was the British Queen's and her state—Virginia—had been so obviously named after an earlier one. In that sense, she was more English than he was.

"Morning," he responded. "Jamie, can I talk to you for a second?"

James nodded. "Sure. Elizabeth, can you give us a minute?"

The girl stood up and kissed James's cheek. "Sure, Jamie."

"Actually," Albus interjected. "Actually, would you mind staying?"

Elizabeth smiled kindly at him. Al had always liked her. She and Jamie had been together since fourth year, and there were rumors he would ask her to marry him in a few years. She was practically part of the Potter family already.

"What's up, Al?" James prompted. "Um, Rosie told me that you and Scorp fought last night."

Albus nodded. Elizabeth looked annoyed. She poked her boyfriend sharply. "You didn't tell me! Oh, Al. Is everything okay with Scorpius? Is this about coming out?"

Albus looked surprised, although he shouldn't have. Elizabeth had always been shockingly perceptive about these things. She, after all, had known he and Scorpius had liked each other before either of them had even guessed.

"I think…" he stumbled over his words, knowing he had to force them out. They felt like rocks in his throat, crushing his windpipe with every syllable. "I think I should break up with him."

James's eyebrows shot up. "With Scorpius? The bloke looks like someone's died when he's away from you for more than five minutes. You're not worried that he's, I don't know, cheating on you or something? Or doesn't love you or something anymore?"

Albus shook his head. "No, nothing like that. I know he loves me, and I love him, but… I need to come out. And he won't. So we can't be together anymore."

Elizabeth squeezed his hand across the table. Her dark skin was such a contrast to Scorpius's pale hand, Albus thought. Although he couldn't really remember the last time Scorpius had held his hand; mostly, they just sat together. Scorpius seemed to be afraid that someone would see them even when the door was locked and they were alone. He barely even touched Albus casually anymore.

James's forehead wrinkled and his eyes looked sad. "If that's what you want, Al. You know we'll support you anyway. I don't care if everyone turns their back on you, we'll always be there for you. You're my brother, and everyone who doesn't like that can fuck themselves."

"James Sirius Potter!"

"Sorry, love. But seriously, Al. I'll be there for you, even if Scorpius won't. Okay?"

Albus looked somewhat comforted.

"Me, too, of course, Albus. I know we're not related—yet" Elizabeth grinned. "But you're my little brother. I'll deal with anyone who tries to cross you. Us Potters and Co. must stick together, don't we?" Despite her soft-spoken charm, she was shockingly vicious to anyone who went against her. She reminded Albus a lot of his Aunt Hermione in that way.

James nodded. "We're your family, Al. If breaking up with Scorpius will make you happier in the long run, you should follow your instinct. I love you no matter what, okay, Al?"

Albus nodded. He knew his brother loved him, but it was still nice to hear.

"Jamie? Will you tell Lily? I don't want to talk to her about it." Lily had never liked Scorpius. She would probably tell Albus that she had known all along that the blond was no good. Albus couldn't hear that right then.

"Sure. You should probably go talk to Scorpius, Al. There's no sense, really, in putting it off further."

Albus nodded sadly. He knew James was right. He stood up, released Elizabeth's hand, and set off to the Ravenclaw tower.

-o-

"Albus! There you are!" Scorpius beckoned the fifth-year boy forward when he entered the Common Room. He looked around, and whispered, "I don't think there's anyone around right now." He stood up and hugged his boyfriend tightly. "I love you, you know that?" He glanced up, and planted a quick kiss on Al's lips. "I'm sorry we fought. Wait, is everything okay?" He looked concerned at the sad look in Al's eyes.

"Scorpius, we need to talk. Now."

Scorpius sobered quickly at the look on Al's face. "Okay, what's wrong?" He brushed Al's unruly hair back from his green eyes.

"There's not really an easy way to say this, Scorpius, but—"

"Albus! It was only one fight!" Despite his indignant tone, Scorpius already looked torn apart, like he knew what Al was going to say.

"No, Scorpius. It was many fights. And it's an issue that's not going to go away. We need—"

"Don't say it," Scorpius whispered. "I can make it up to you. I'll try harder. I'll do whatever you want me to. I don't want to lose you. I love you."

"Scorpius, you don't love me. You love the idea of me, of having a boyfriend, of having a secret. You don't love me like I love you. But that's not what's important. What's important is that I, I need to come out. I can't live like this anymore. You can, and that's your choice. But I need to be open with this part of me. I'm not going to let you stop me anymore. I love you, but I need to put myself first this one time."

Scorpius looked broken. Albus could see tears forming at the corners of his eyes. "Don't do this to me, Albus. I do love you. You'll see. I'll change. I'll be a better boyfriend. I love you, you know that. I really do."

Albus shook his head silently, his eyes sad but dry. "This is for me, not for you, Scorpius. My life needs to be about me right now."

"Everybody will hate you if you come out," Scorpius whispered fiercely. "Just be safe, with me."

"Not everybody. Rosie won't hate me. Jamie and Elizabeth won't hate me. My family won't hate me. And that, Scorpius, is all who matter to me. My family, not you, not Michael or the Quidditch team or pretty little Lena." He felt badly for making the jab about Lena, but couldn't bring himself to take it back. "Scorpius, it's over. I'm not your boyfriend anymore, and today, I'm going to be open with who I am. I'm sorry if it's sudden. It is. It has to be. Hate me if you want. Tell all of your friends and your girlfriend that you hate me. It's okay. I forgive you." He stood up and pressed a kiss to the top of Scorpius's head. "I'm leaving now. I'm going for a walk. I would say I'm sorry, Scorpius, but I'm not. Good bye."

Scorpius clutched at his hand. "Don't leave me, Albus."

Albus extracted his hand from Scorpius's grip and left the room without looking back.

-o-

Scorpius had a miserable day. He hid in his room until after classes were over, telling Michael to inform the professors that he was sick. Michael looked concerned, but agreed. He made Scorpius promise to join them in the Common Room later that night, however.

He had plans to do a lot of homework, which backfired when he read over his Transfigurations Essay and discovered it read, "Vanishing glass is a particularly difficult form of life when people just leave because the caster must both Vanish the hardened glass and also the sand from which it was burned and also the sand from which it was formed." He shook his head. Clearly, his thoughts were far away from the subject. He corrected the sentence, and grimaced at the thought of having to practically redo the entire essay. He glanced down the foot-long parchment and groaned audibly when he realized that halfway down, tears had started to ruin his careful print and he had begun to just write Albus over and over again. Casting a quick Tempus charm, he decided it was time to join Michael in the Common Room. Albus was likely to be returning to the quiet dormitory to do his homework soon.

To Scorpius's great relief, his now ex-boyfriend was nowhere to be found, and neither was his auburn-haired cousin. He opened his arms for Lena, who cooed in his ear that she had missed him all day. Nobody seemed to care that Albus was again absent from their gathering as they laughed.

Rose entered the Common Room quietly. She met Scorpius's eyes, and they both glanced away quickly. She grinned to herself. The prat had no idea what was coming.

Not five minutes after the witch entered, the Ravenclaw door opened again, and Albus entered. He walked over to the table where Scorpius and his friends were sitting, climbed up on the table (much to everyone's shock), and waited for silence. The talented wizard performed a quick Microphone charm and announced to the dead silent room loudly and clearly, "I'm gay. Talk amongst yourselves." He and Rosie left the Common Room quickly, clearly holding back peals of laughter.

The second they were gone, Michael laughed uproariously. "You owe me ten Galleons, Mae!" His comment broke the silence over the room, and it seemed like several bets had been decided by Albus's comment.

Maegan laughed. "So I do." She kissed her boyfriend hard. "I guess you're more of a Ravenclaw than I am, babe."

"Or maybe more of a Slytherin. I discover secrets, my dear. Is there anything you're keeping from me?" They laughed together.

It seemed as if Scorpius was the only one stunned. There were several people who were disgusted, but Michael's comment appeared to be enough to dispel any thoughts that Ravenclaw would not be accepting. He was popular, respected, smart and athletic, so his word and Maegan's were essentially law in the Ravenclaw hierarchy. But the last thing Scorpius would have expected Albus to do was to come out in such a blunt manner as that.

"You guys don't find it… a little… gross?" he ventured.

"Well, obviously," Michael responded. "I don't want a dick up my arse, but if that's his cup of tea I suppose he's welcome to it."

Maegan looked interested. "Wait, do you think that's why he never signed up for Quidditch? He always looked like he would be good to me."

Despite their disparaging comments on Albus's behalf just yesterday, the rest of Scorpius's friends seemed to want to support him. "We should encourage him to sign up. We need to let him know it's cool whoever he sleeps with."

Scorpius couldn't believe his ears. Albus wasn't just tolerated, he was actually suddenly more popular than before. Even Lena squealed, "Oh my god, I hope he has a boyfriend! They would be so cute! I wonder what he looks like. I bet he's as adorable as Albus is. Let's go talk to him!"

She and Maegan stood up and rushed up the stairs.

Scorpius rolled his eyes. "Girls," he grumbled.

"I think it's cute," Kris Varr said, one of the Ravenclaw Beaters. "They're like in love with him or something. It happened to my cousin Jakob when he came out, actually. He goes to Durmstrang, which is way more Conservative. A lot of the blokes were practically pissing themselves worrying he was going to check them out, but the girls were beyond thrilled. Couldn't figure out why, myself. He changed things there, though. A bunch of kids came out after him."

Scorpius hadn't known that Kris had a gay cousin.

-o-

The next day, Michael, Kate, Marie, Kris, Charlie Danzer, the second Beater and Josh Amberson, the third Chaser, sought out Albus. They wanted to encourage the slim boy to try out for Seeker. Scorpius hadn't wanted to come.

They found him in the library, reading with Rose Weasley.

"Hey, Albus," Charlie Danzer, the Captain poked his shoulder gently. "Excuse me, Rose." Rose hadn't known the seventh-year knew her name. He sat down across the table from Albus, and the rest of the team, except Trevor Ovian and Scorpius, filled in the empty seats around them. "Sorry if this is a bit awkward. But, um, the team and I were talking last night, and we discussed the possible reasons that you might have not tried out for the Ravenclaw team. We thought that maybe, if you were willing, we might have a second tryout for Seekers. You and Trevor Ovian, and I guess anybody else who wanted to take a shot would do it. So, what do you say, man? Are you up for it? We thought you should have a fair chance, seeing as you might have had… personal… reasons for… you know." He trailed off awkwardly, but grinned widely at Scorpius.

"Plus, you know, it's a good chance for people to see that we don't judge here at Hogwarts," Marie interjected.

Despite the awkwardness of the situation, Albus had to agree with Marie's somewhat selfish comment. He did like Seeking at home, and not being ostracized had been one of the reasons that he hadn't tried out. He didn't want to be in the spotlight, but he supposed that by coming out, he had inevitably claimed it as his. Sharing a quick glance with Rose, who was shocked, he nodded. "Are you sure you don't mind?"

"Nah, man," said Kris Varr. "My cousin's gay, you know. He's one of the coolest blokes I know."

Albus smiled. "Okay."