Disclaimer: Anything you recognize belongs to the lovely and talented J.K. Rowling. Would that I had her brilliant mind. Anything else likely belongs to me. Please review! Also, if you would like to beta, please contact me!

Thank you to Linda for her lovely review and to crazycatlady 149 for her somewhat confusing one.

Chapter 2

By Monday morning, it seemed like everybody had heard that Albus Severus liked blokes. Almost half of the school proclaimed loudly that they had "always known," or that it should have been obvious because of his slim physique. "He's never had a girlfriend, anyway," they whispered.

Lena and Maegan, who hadn't been able to talk to Al due to the locked door after his announcement, sat with him at breakfast that morning. Lena gave him a hug. "Oh my god," she said. "We so have to give you a makeover."

Maegan agreed. "We'll help you get a boyfriend. Don't worry, we're experienced." She smiled winningly at him.

Al wondered if he should tell them that he was already in love with someone else, but he was too afraid that they would squeal again in his ear.

"So," Lena interrupted his train of thought. "Got your eye on anyone? I have really good gaydar. I can probably help you get someone."

Al doubted she knew about Scorpius. She had been trying to seduce him for months, after all. He considered sharing that tidbit with her for a laugh. He knew Scorpius would never forgive him, though.

"Mae, isn't this weekend Hogsmeade? We should go as a group and go shopping!"

Albus decided that even if this was not really the attention he wanted, it was still a lot better than what he had before. Now, he wasn't just Scorpius's weirdly quiet best friend. He was his own person, even if he was now "the gay kid."

He smiled and nodded his agreement, pushing his fork back into his omelet as Maegan and Lena decided precisely what they would do.

-o-

QUIDDITCH SEEKER TRYOUTS

Friday, September 28 at 4:30 PM

Anybody in Ravenclaw House may try out. Sign up on the list below.

Albus scripted his name under Calvin Bath and Calista Otter. He was surprised that anybody else had signed up, considering that only Trevor Ovian had at the beginning of the year. Maybe they had tried out for a different position, he mused. Suddenly he heard a commotion behind him. Ovian had sharp eyes, even if he was slow.

"What the fuck does that mean? I got the position!" He lumbered over to the sign up sheet, shoving Albus rather rudely to the side.

Kate, the redheaded Chaser, was watching the list nearby. She stood up and faced Ovian, who was at least a head taller than her and twice as wide as her, despite her athletic build. "Back off, Ovian. You only got the position because you were the only one who tried out. We're holding fairer trials this time. Sign up if you want on the team, otherwise you're off. It's not your decision; it's Charlie's. He has the right to hold tryouts whenever he wants, and you know it. Back off. You're hurting Albus, anyway."

"Potter? The gay kid?" Ovian noticed that Al was standing practically underneath him, gripping the quill for the sign-up sheet. He looked apologetic. "Sorry, man." He snatched the quill from Albus anyway, and carved his name into the sheet. He stood up and walked away, glaring back at Kate.

"You okay, Albus?"

Albus nodded, a little shaken but also indignant. He didn't need a girl to look after him. He could do that himself.

Scorpius had watched the entire exchange from his seat on the navy blue couch. He wondered if he should have interfered.

-o-

Wednesday dawned with three new occurences. First, Scorpius was greeted with a letter. He recognized his mother's handwriting.

Dear Scorpius,
We have heard the news about your friend Albus Severus Potter's apparent homosexuality. We encourage you to discuss his rash decision to make this known with him. Homosexuality is often just a phase, but in the slight possibility that it is not, we would suggest you distance yourself from him. We would not want your friend's problem to diminish the high standing of the Malfoy name.

Your loving parents,

Here was an illegible script and a tangled mess that Scorpius knew were his mother's and father's signatures. He sighed. A second letter had been thrust into the envelope as well.

Dear Scorpius,

Your mother and I love you regardless of how you react to Albus's homosexuality. I am thankful, however, that it did not happen to you. While I have nothing against homosexuality, I am certain that it is harder to grow up in a world where people like that are silenced. I would not want that for my son.

Your father,

And the tangled mess that was his father's signature appeared again.

Scorpius pushed his scrambled eggs around the plate. He knew his parents meant well, but they clearly hadn't thought about how they might affect him. He missed Albus and his comforting warmth.

Second, the word was passed around that Kaelyn Headen had come out as bisexual. Michael had been thrilled about this, enough to get a hard slap from Maegan and an angry tirade about how Headen's bisexuality didn't mean that she would be interested in him. Michael avoided his angry girlfriend for a while after that. "I'm scared of her, man," he confided to Scorpius. "She's always right. It's terrifying." Despite the words, his tone rang of awe.

"Michael, you're gone," laughed Scorpius. Privately, he thought that Michael's feelings for Maegan paled in comparison to his own for Albus. He hadn't known how much he would miss the dark-haired boy's mere presence.

The third occurrence terrified Scorpius. He heard from Lena that Daniel Gaither, a sixth-year Gryffindor, had talked to Albus for nearly an hour the night before. He had long guessed that Daniel was gay, and it scared him that he and Albus had talked for so long last night. His fears were only amplified when, during lunch, Daniel sat with Albus at the Ravenclaw table. Lena squealed loudly, and Scorpius felt his stomach drop. Was that what jealousy felt like? He hoped not. It was awful.

-o-

Finally, the sun rose on Friday's gray skies. Scorpius thought, rather accurately, that it reflected his mood. He was sure Albus would make the Quidditch team, which meant that he would have to spend hours every Friday afternoon with his ex-boyfriend. Not to mention, said ex-boyfriend would be clothed in the tight fitting Quidditch gear. Scorpius didn't know how he would handle it. He guessed he wouldn't be able to.

Albus woke up in the bed across from him. He noticed Scorpius was awake and moving, and so stayed as still as possible. He watched his boyfriend through the gauzy curtains, watching as his muscular shape stretched, then climbed out of bed. He wondered why Scorpius had to be so good-looking. Scorpius shrugged on a T-shirt and pulled on his jeans before throwing on a robe. Albus forced himself to look away. Looking at his ex-boyfriend couldn't possibly be the best ingredient for a clean breakup. He allowed his thoughts to wander towards Dan Gaither. He smiled.

-o-

On Tuesday, Dan had somehow convinced a Ravenclaw to let him into the Common Room. He was a Gryffindor, and a year older at that. Al was rather embarrassed when he entered, actually—Al had been chatting with Rosie, and the dorm room was hot, so he hadn't worn a shirt. He had been lying on his back on the bed with his cousin. Al hoped that Dan hadn't been too turned off by his half-bare body. He didn't exactly have a six-pack like Scorpius had.

Rosie saw the look on Dan's face, mumbled a quiet "hi," and quickly walked out.

"Um, hi," said Albus awkwardly.

"Hey. Er, can I sit there?" Dan pointed at Rosie's vacated spot on the bed next to Albus. At Al's nod, he sat. "So, how have you been?"

"Er, good, I suppose." Al felt compelled to add, "And you?"

"Better since I heard about what happened in your Common Room on Saturday."

Al blinked. He didn't know what he had expected—he didn't think he had ever exchanged so much as a word with Dan Gaither—but he definitely had not guessed that the boy sitting next to him would be so blunt. Gryffindors, he supposed. James was rather blunt. "You must be wondering why I'm here," Dan interrupted Al's train of thoughts, running his hand through his artfully tousled brown hair. "And I know this is kind of awkward, since we've never really talked that much before, so I don't know how to say this, but I'm going to be honest—I'm a Gryffindor, of course, so I might as well try to be brave. I've had a crush on you for a while now, and, er. Do you want to go to Hogsmeade with me this weekend?"

Al fought the urge to glance around the room for somebody else, certain Dan Gaither hadn't been talking to him. He had never been asked out by anybody—he had been the one to ask Scorpius. And he was pretty sure his now ex-boyfriend only said yes because he was the only gay boy Scorpius knew, not because he actually liked Al. Scorpius had never been one to show much affection anyway.

He looked back at Dan Gaither, who was staring at him with earnest eyes. "Why?"

Dan grinned indulgently. "I just told you, Albus. I like you."

"No, I heard that, I'm not deaf. I mean, why me?"

"For starters, you're smart. I like intelligence; it's sexy. Also, you're quiet and kind, but you stick up for people, like that second-year Gryffindor, Christopher, a few weeks ago. You know, when your friend Scorpius was rude to him. And," he smirked, "it doesn't hurt that you're bloody fit."

Al couldn't conceal his confusion. He didn't have any muscle tone at all, and felt like a sack of bones most days. It wasn't that he was overweight, just skinny like his father. He did have Harry Potter's build.

"So, will you?"

Al, despite himself, felt pleased. Here was a boy, a rather cute one too, with his piercing blue eyes, tall build, and stylish brown hair, asking him out. Asking him out. He nodded. "Yes, I'll go to Hogsmeade with you. On one condition."

"Yeah?"

"My name's Al, not Albus."

"That I can do." Dan stood up. "I'll see you Saturday, then. Eleven? I'll pick you up outside your Common Room." When Al smiled at him, he leaned down and, to Al's great surprise, kissed him on the cheek.

When Rosie reentered the room, demanding details, he was still dreamily touching the spot on his cheek.

-o-

Al dressed and attempted, uselessly, to comb his hair. He rushed down to breakfast a little later than he had hoped to. He sat with Rosie, who was just finishing her fruit, and started shoving scrambled eggs down his throat. Michael and a few others pushed down to sit with him and his auburn-haired cousin.

"Hey, Albus, ready for tryouts today?" Michael grinned.

Al nodded. His mouth burned and he reached for a glass of pumpkin juice, gulping it down.

"Wait, Michael is it Friday already?" Meagan asked, sitting down with Lena. Both girls were late to breakfast as usual.

"Hey, babe. Haven't you been keeping track of the days? Your new best friend here has his hot date tomorrow, as you've been telling me constantly."

Lena and Meagan had been incredibly understanding of his need to push back their shopping date. They had demanded, however, that they be allowed to help him get ready Saturday morning.

Al almost wished Michael hadn't brought it up, but he didn't. Scorpius was sitting with the group, and he was clearly upset. Al felt a little shiver of something run through him at Scorpius's expression. Besides, the excited smiles on Lena and Meagan's faces were contagious.

"Yeah, it's tomorrow," he said, unable to hide a little smile. He glanced behind him at the Gryffindor table and saw Dan looking at him. He flushed and turned back around.

"I think it's looooove," Lena sang in a teasing tone. She and Meagan started singing the popular new Witches of the West song, and the rest of the group, even Rosie, joined in, laughing. Al hid his burning face, but secretly he was pleased. Never before had the Ravenclaws paid so much attention to him.

"I think it's love," they sang off-key. "I think it's meant to be. I think I'm meant for you, and you're meant for me. It may be hard, but I'm not letting go, because we're meant to be, baby, just say hello." They collapsed in laughter.

"Oh my god, he's looking at you, Albus. He's smiling. He's so in love with you."

Al groaned, happier than he'd been in a long time. Happier, certainly, than he had been with Scorpius.

Scorpius poked at his sausages.

-o-

At 4:23, Al arrived at the Quidditch. Everybody else was already there, wearing Quidditch robes. Al, who had only ever played at home, didn't have any. He had always borrowed Jamie's old ones.

Everyone took one look at him and busted out laughing. "What. The hell. Are you wearing?" Kate spat out between bursts of giggles.

Al flushed. He had half a mind to run back to his dorm room and hide. "Muggle athletic clothes," he said shamefully. "I don't have any Quidditch robes."

"Mate, you should have told me," Michael said breathlessly, clutching his stomach. "I have some you can borrow. It's still before 4:30, so change quick and you'll be fine." He led Al back to the changing room, still laughing.

Ovian snickered. "That's the kid you want on the team? Good luck with that. I know he's Harry Potter's kid and all, but…" he laughed meanly.

Everyone else shifted uncomfortably.

4:29, and Charlie stood up. Al had a minute to return. He didn't want to start late, and punctuality was important in his Quidditch players. He murmured to Kris Varr quietly. Al and Michael suddenly appeared and ran to join the group. Al was panting, but Michael seemed fine.

Al Potter looked good in the Quidditch robes. They were a few sizes too big, but he managed to wear them as well as any dress robes model would have.

Charlie was relieved. "Shall we begin, then?" He spoke to the four potential Seekers as they were each handed a number to wear on their backs. "The tryout will have three stages. First, four Snitches, one for each of you, will be released. Your job is to catch one—whichever one you can—and then return. The order in which you return to me will be your rankings for the first stage. For the second stage, I'm going to release ten Snitches. Your job is to catch as many as you can. When you successfully catch one, it will immediately disappear. I will announce how many have been caught out loud, and the Seeker who caught it will be recorded on my sheet." He waved a clipboard around. "The third, and most important stage, will involve only one Snitch. All four of you will be trying to catch it. Good luck," he grinned. "You'll probably need it. Any questions? No? Mount your brooms!"

Al grabbed his borrowed school broomstick, a nine-year-old Nimbus Four Thousand. The others mounted their own brooms, a Firebolt King, a Diamond Ridgeback Two, and the new Lightning Dash VII. He hoped his parents might buy him a broom if he made the team. They had, after all, for James.

Charlie released the Snitches, and after that brief flash of gold, the tiny airborne balls were nowhere to be seen. Al squinted in the light. He quickly took off his glasses and rubbed them on his shirt, cleaning off any dirt. He couldn't even see the whole pitch because of how low he was to the ground, so he flew higher and scanned the pitch. The angle helped with the sun, too; he wasn't looking directly into its rays. There! He saw a flash of gold and sped his broom after it, but before he got within a hundred meters, it was gone. He returned to circling the pitch, looking sharply down at the pitch.

Half an hour later later, no Snitch had been caught. The spectators seemed bored. Charlie and Marie were laughing and the others seemed to be chatting. Nobody was paying any attention to the Seekers up overhead. Suddenly, he saw a Snitch near Calista Otter. He dove after it, but she was closer, and within seconds, the golden Snitch was struggling in her quick hand. She grinned at Al and flew down to give it to Charlie.

"The first Snitch has been caught!" said Charlie's amplified voice. Al knew that if he wanted to make the team—and he had decided he wanted to—he would have to make the next catch or give up any hope. He saw a second Snitch hovering near the goalposts. Trevor Ovian, who was further away, saw Al go into a steep dive. Both boys tore after the little golden ball. Al glanced back quickly, then wished he hadn't. Ovian was coming quickly up beside him, and within seconds, he would pass Al. Al urged his broom to go faster, but it wouldn't.

Ovian was nearly level with Al now, and Al knew he was going to lose the Snitch. He shimmied desperately up his broomstick, sacrificing any steadiness he had on the old broom for those desperate extra inches. It still wasn't enough, Al stretched forward. Ovian was next to him, and they were only about a meter from the Snitch, which hovered, unmoving, by the left goalpost.

Al didn't think. He just jumped. His hand closed around the little ball, and Ovian slammed into him, pushing him forward in midair as his broom began to fall to the ground. Al's other hand scrabbled for purchase on the ring of the goal post, his sweaty hand slipping. Suddenly, everything stopped. He hung there, 50 feet above the ground, his hand clenched around the goalpost and the fluttering Snitch clasped in his other hand.

"It's okay!" shouted a voice from the ground. "You can let go! I've got you!" Al looked down, and Charlie was pointing his wand at him. He felt a release of gravity, and realized Charlie had cast some sort of levitation charm on him. He let go, and floated down. He breathed again when his feet touched down, and then had the wind knocked out of him suddenly. Scorpius had tackled him.

"You idiot!" the blond boy said, hugging Al close to him. "You could have died!" He brushed the hair back tenderly from Al's face, checking him for injuries. "Are you okay?"

Al was suddenly annoyed. "Yeah. I'm fine. Get off of me. I'm not your boyfriend."

Scorpius froze and stood up quickly. He looked angry. "I know." He turned and stalked jerkily away from Al. He stood gloomily at the edge of the pitch.

"That was brilliant!" exclaimed Kris Varr. "Dangerous as hell, but brilliant. Do that in a game and you'll be a legend." He grinned rakishly at Al.

"And the second Snitch has been caught," Charlies voice rang out unnecessarily to the two players still Seeking as if they hadn't noticed what had happened.

Al grinned. He kind of wished that Dan Gaither had seen him.

-o-

Twenty minutes later, the other two Snitches had been caught in quick secession. Ovian had caught the third one, and Calvin Bath had come in fourth only two minutes later.

After a fifteen-minute break, the ten Snitches were released, and Al and the others returned to the air. Al used the same method of flying long, slow circles above the goalposts and found that it worked well. He had caught three of the nine Snitches. Calista had caught three as well, while Calvin had caught two and Ovian only one. He had to beat Calista in this one. He didn't like the feeling of second place. He would get Reserve Seeker if he came in second, but he desperately wanted to be on the actual team. He didn't know why; on Friday, he had scorned the idea of trying to spend more time with Scorpius's friend Michael. He guessed he had found Michael and the others, particularly Kris Varr, to be quite good friends. And he wanted them to be his friends. He scanned the pitch.

There! In the center of the field flew the tenth Snitch. He looked around. Nobody had seen it, and all the others were closer to it than he was. If he dove now, somebody would see him and take it away from him. He flew in his large circles lower, closer to the Snitch. He tried to look like he was still searching. Nobody noticed him, and nobody saw the Snitch. He got within fifty meters when Calvin Bath saw what he was doing. Calvin, who was below the Snitch, flew suddenly up, and Al leaned forward on his broom, urging it forward. Secrecy was abandoned, and he flew hard and fast towards the little golden ball. Calvin was too late, too far away. Al's fingers closed over it, and the ball disappeared into nothingness. The second stage was over, and Al was tied with Calista Otter for first place.

The players landed, tired of squinting. Al's eyes were aching. His prescription wasn't quite right. He pushed his glasses up further on his nose, knowing he looked exactly like his father when he did so. He still had one stage left to go.

Charlie gave them a short break. The sun was going to set by eight o'clock, which was less than an hour away. Al wasn't sure if playing under the lights would be better or worse, and he didn't really want to find out. He grabbed his broom and looked at Charlie, who cast a quick Tempus charm and motioned to the other Seekers. They rose in the air together for the final time.

The Snitch was released, and the game was on. Al circled the pitch again, but had to squint harder against the dying light. He couldn't find the Snitch anywhere, and he tried to be patient. He knew that getting frustrated wouldn't help him. He flew lower, unable to make out anything in the growing shadows. He hoped the lights would turn on soon.

He could barely see in the darkness, and he heard Charlie yelling at someone about the lights. Apparently, they weren't going to be turning on. The Golden Snitch appeared two feet in from of him, and Al squinted, trying to see if it was actually what he thought it was. He snatched out a hand, and Charlie's voice rang out for the final time. "The Snitch has been caught! Please, fly down carefully."

The four Seekers landed, and Al triumphantly placed it in Charlie's hand. He had won two of the three stages and had come in second on the others.

"The lineup will be announced tomorrow," the Captain said in the darkness, lit only by the light of a few wands. "Including the Reserve Seeker. No changes will be made, no arguments will be had."

He led the group back to the castle.

"Al!" said a voice from behind the black-haired boy. Scorpius's voice.

Al turned around. The blond boy caught up to him. "Good job today, Al."

"Thanks," Al said genuinely. "Er, I hope I'll see you if I make the team."

"You did, Al. You're brilliant at Quidditch. I don't know why you didn't before."

"You know why, Scorpius. The locker rooms. And besides, they're your friends, not mine."

"They're yours now, Al." Scorpius grinned at the boy, then froze. He suddenly nodded coldly at Albus. "I'll see you, I guess." He hurried up to the others, leaving Al walking alone in the dark.

-o-

Scorpius didn't know why he had talked to Al, or congratulated him, or left him behind in the dark. He put his head in his hands and rolled over in his bed. He tried to sleep, painfully conscious of the boy in the bed next to his and his Hogsmeade date tomorrow. He slept fitfully.