“Al, go brush your hair again,” Ginny chastised her middle son. “James, do not under any circumstances bring those with you. We do not need another lecture about how those are made with animals. Lily,” Ginny says, and glances at her youngest. “Put on a jacket. It’s cold this time of year. But yes—“She’s learned over the years to let the small battles win. Some fights are not worth the tears. “You can wear your flower crown.”
“Am I alright?” A teasing voice pops into view. Ginny glances over at her husband. He’s in a normal dark grey jumper with slacks, his wild hair famously remaining untamed.
“Handsome as always,” Ginny replies, going to kiss her husband.
“Ew, gross.” The first voice is from their eldest son. He’s making a gagging motion with his finger to his throat. Hopping off the landing, James leans against the staircase railing. “Dunno why you’re so keen on us looking proper. Auntie Luna rejects those sorts of things.”
“She says free expression is the window to the soul,” Lily says, twirling off the landing and modeling off her flower crown. “Do you like these, Mum, Daddy?” Her eyes shone.
“Pretty as a petal, Flower.” He presses a kiss to the top of her head. “Now where is that brother of yours? Al!” He calls up the stairs.
“I’m coming,” he calls back. He hops down the last step onto the landing. “I’m ready,” he declares, going to tie up his black converse shoes.
“Good, because we’re flooing there. We’re set to arrive in no more than ten minutes.” Harry taps his watch, instructing his children to gather towards the fireplace.
Albus hates flooing. It makes him dizzy and nauseous, and he feels himself getting sick. He steps out the fireplace of the Scamander’s residence and winces. He feels even more nauseous and Ginny immediately goes over to her youngest son.
“Drink this Al,” Ginny instructs her son. She sits him down on a nearby chair and spoons a potion into his mouth. Albus swallows the spoonful and winces at the taste. It’s the most dreadful potion he’s ever tasted and he hates it. Ginny smooths at her son’s hair as he rests, then kisses the top of it. “You’ll be fine in a few minutes. Why don’t you go say hi to everyone?” She suggests, although it’s less of a suggestion and more of a force.
Albus immediately runs into his Aunt Luna, his mother not far behind at all.
“Albus, hi,” she greets him. She’s wearing some sort of odd colourful dress, the skirt swirling about as she walks. “Ginny!” She greets his mother with slightly more enthusiasm. “I invited your brother along too, but he declined. He says not until Lorcan and Lysander learn to behave. Lyssie didn’t mean to bite; he was only checking to test Hugo for mites. Some of them live on skin, you know. I think his shoes are rather too tight, don’t you? He needs to expand his horizons more.”
Albus ducks away as his mother chats with her best friend. He takes a seat on the couch as he eyes the living room. The Scamanders house was the most colourful place Albus has ever visited. All the rooms were painted different colours, and the furniture was arranged to make the place more zen. Albus isn’t very sure what that means, and he always tunes his aunt out when she starts talking about it.
Everything is very minimal, with several books and things littering around the house. The decorations are scarce, but are still visible. There is no holiday tree, but there are stockings on the fireplace and trays of food in the dining area. The house feels open. It is nothing like the strict world of visiting Malfoy Manor with rules and the smell of clean floors.
He didn’t bring anything to do, strictly because he didn’t have time. Normally, he’d bring a book to read, or his sketchbook to draw. But his family was in such a hurry, he didn’t have time to grab anything. Plus, his family were stuck in the ideas of Albus socializing more.
Albus hated social events with his family. While the Scamanders weren’t as horrible as his muggle cousins were, it was still an uncomfortable situation for the antisocial Slytherin. Plus, he always mixed up the twins, despite having a teeny crush on one of them. The twins always seemed to hype up their alike-ness when Albus was around, as if it were some kind of game.
As if on cue, the two twins came down the stairs. Both had their mother’s blond, but their fathers sun kissed skin. Both boys didn’t seem to care too much for shoes, and right now their hair was combed the exact same way and style. The only thing keeping them apart were their clothes. Lysander was in an oversized jumper, while Lorcan was dressed in a ripped t-shirt with a niffler printed on the front. But even different clothing didn’t stop Albus from knowing who was who.
“Hey Albie,” they both greet in unison. Albus nods to both of them. He squints, because he knows he should be able to tell the two apart. But even in their different attires, he can’t. He recalls the last time he could tell them apart, and that was back when Lysander had cut his hair short, and Lorcan hadn’t. But now both boys have their hair the same length again, and currently styled the same way.
“Lorcan, Lysander,” Albus greets the two with a mumble. Pink creeps to his face because he has a teeny crush on Lorcan, and right now both were messing with him. “If the two of you are going to fuck with me, then I’m going to take a nap,” he mumbles, and excuses himself from the boys. Sometimes if he’s lucky, he can convince his mum that he was getting overwhelmed and needed to go lie down. He’s hoping the nausea from the floo would be more convincing this time around. The trick doesn’t always work, and his mum encourages him only use it when necessary. Mostly, he ends up using it during a rather long party at the Burrow. But today just seems to fit one of those needing to escape moods.
He knows his way around the Scamander household, having been visiting it all his life. Going up the stairs, he takes the left to their guest room, crashing onto the bed. There are a variety of books piled on tables and maps everywhere. Rolf was probably working on something like his grandfather, something that would no doubt fill Scorpius with glee.
Albus’ heart aches for Scorpius. The boy is away on holiday with his father. They left right at break, and wouldn’t be home until the train left. Scorpius had mentioned his father wanting to do a ski holiday in Switzerland, so that’s where they’re spending their holidays.
Scorpius was in Switzerland; Albus was at the Scamanders. Then, not too long into the New Year, Albus and his family would be forced to spend an awkward tea session with his Uncle Dudley. Once a year, the Potters would dress up in their muggle best and go off to play muggle. Harry and Dudley would sit in silence, occasionally making the smallest of talk about the weather or the kid’s school, while the children would be forced to mingle. The only reason for this was Dudley’s wife, encouraging her husband to spend time with his remaining family. She seemed far more interested in the families getting together than both boys did. Surely, she would be appalled at how her husband and his cousin didn’t care for the family gatherings.
Lying on the bed of the Scamander guest room brought out horrid memories of times when Albus was forced to be babysat by his Auntie Luna. She wasn’t into routine, and that lack of routine absolutely devastated the four year old who loved it when people played into things how he wanted them. Luna always did things her own way, and that included babysitting Albus. There wasn’t a telly in the house, and not being able to watch his silly cartoon after nap time used to seem like the end of the world.
She always brings up how he’d cry at bath time, because he hated having his hair washed and brushed, and how he was such a free spirit eater, which was just a polite word for Albus was king at getting food mashed into his fringe. Albus is sure next time he heads downstairs, his Auntie Luna would bring that story up, while Rolf would add on to how him and Albus used to hunt for bugs in the garden together. Then, one of them would show off the cute photograph of a young Albus and younger twins, together in a large mud puddle.
Although, the stories are usually better than the ones his Gran often tells.
Albus lays on the bed and stares at the books piling high around the table. There are maps scattered and tacked to the wall with dots on them. He knows what the dots mean, as it’s something to do with traveling and beasts. He knows that both twins have an interest in following after their father and great-grandfather, and Scorpius too, yearns for those quests.
He grabs at one of the plush animals on the bed and curls up with it. He misses Scorpius, and Scorpius should be here because Scorpius loves the twins and gets along, and they never do that stupid switching thing on Scorpius. He squeezes his eyes shut, trying to force himself to sleep. He supposed he’ll just deal with the disappointment talks later.
“I told you that was a dumb idea, Lys,” the boy snips, crashing up the stairs. “Dressing to fuck with Al like that. Scor isn’t here to set it straight, leaving him to just be even more confused. His mum said he’s practically blind without his glasses.”
“It was funny, and you know it was. Al needs to stop closing himself off so much. He’s a nice kid, but Merlin, does he need to stop sometimes. All that introversion can’t be good for him.”
Lorcan huffs. “He’s not doing it on purpose. Aunt Ginny has said he has some disorder or disease or something. You know as well as I that he’s always been like this.”
There are a few things that can trigger Albus awake. One, is thunderstorms, and two, certain words. Albus has trained himself to immediately awake when hearing certain phrases. The words disorder and disease being some of them. Sitting up, his hands fling to his hair and he moves his knees to his chest.
Oh no, oh no, oh no
A panic is sent through Albus as he hears the door knob jingle. The door opens and Albus looks at the blond haired, sun kissed boy. It’s only one of them, as the other seemed to have left. He’s pretty sure it’s the one he has the teeny crush on—Lorcan.
“Hey Al,” he greets, and goes to shut the door. “I figured you’d be up here.”
“Being an antisocial freak and all,” Albus spits back.
“Lysander didn’t mean it like that,” he defends. The clarification is all he needs to know. The boy up here isn’t Lysander, its Lorcan. “But you heard him, didn’t you?”
Albus moves his knees closer to his chest. “If you’re here to try and convince me I’m not some antisocial freak, then you should probably go.”
“You’re not a freak,” Lorcan replies. “I’ve known you longer than Scorpius, and I can confirm that you’re not a freak. Yeah you’ve got your quirks, but Lysander’s being a dumbarse. Part of being open minded is understanding that not everyone has your same views and values.” Lorcan doesn’t go sit on the bed and goes to grab his copy of The Quibbler sitting on the table. “Mum’s still trying to teach him that. Them, sorry,” Lorcan corrects.
“Right,” Albus replies with a brow raised.
“Yeah,” Lorcan continues. “Lys just doesn’t seem to understand just what they say sometimes. You’re not the most close minded person. Your Uncle Ron is way more close minded than you. And Mum says you’ve been to those brain wash people when you were little. They teach you those things. You’re not a freak.”
“Therapist,” Albus corrects. “It’s not brain washing,” he defends, but only slightly. He thinks maybe Lorcan could be right. He had to be taught a lot of basic skills and mindsets. He had to follow whatever he was being taught. If his therapist was in a certain mindset, there was no doubt that he’d of picked up on said mindset.
“To help your manners. Not saying you didn’t need it,” Lorcan teased. He turns pages in the magazine he’s holding. “Even Mum thought your manners were deplorable, and she’s the least worried about those things. Besides, you’re way more creative than Lys. Your creativity is more like, museum art, whereas Lys’ is street art.”
Albus raises his brow at the compliment. “Museum art?”
“Yeah! The way you draw and paint is good. Mum used to love your finger paints. Your music, too. It’s actual talent. I’ve seen your writing, too. You can’t be a creative person and be closeminded. You also can’t be a close minded person and pierce your lip and eyebrow, and play that music you like. It’s not possible.” Lorcan shifts the magazine upside down, staring intensely at one of the pages. “Next time ignore Lys. They try to be more open than they are.” Lorcan tilts his head to the side. “We should probably get downstairs.”
“Mum’s calling me?” Albus feels a bit better. The one on one talk didn’t seem to hurt him, in fact, it seemed to make him feel a bit more comfortable. Lorcan was better at getting through to him than his twin was. Lysander seemed to not understand anything about introversion. Lorcan, however, seemed to understand Albus’ needs. Not at the same level of Scorpius, but, it was good enough.
“No,” he responds, looking around the room. “I think the nargles might be hiding in the closet.”Albus rolls his eyes in response. The Scamander family always talked about nargles, but no one ever saw them. Nargles were always something to be avoided, yet they were never found. “They’re probably attracted to your energy. And there could be mistletoe downstairs, and nargles love hiding in mistletoe.” Lorcan grabs Albus’ wrist around his hands. The touch is warm, and Albus feels the difference between him and Scorpius.
Scorpius has hands that are long and delicate, where as Lorcan’s are rough. Calluses line the boy’s hand from all the outdoor work he had done with his father and great-grandfather. There are dents from bite marks of various creatures, and dirt lives under the fingernails of the Scamander boy.
Albus tries to push the blush down and nods quietly, following along. He passes the room where Lysander is talking wildly to his younger sister. They seem more engaged with each other. Fitting, considering Lysander is probably the more extroverted of the two.
Lorcan holds onto Albus’ wrist and reaches over the banister, causing a look from his mother. “Lorcan, what’re you doing?” She questions.
“Moving the mistletoe Mum,” he calls back. “Nargles. “ There’s a pause, and Luna nods, as if that were explanation enough. Albus just tags along, his wrist still being gripped by Lorcans. “If you move the infected mistletoe away from the general public, you’re less likely to get infected. Nargles are drawn to large crowds. Makes it easier to nest. They don’t like the cold weather, so mistletoe should be placed in outdoor locations.”
Albus doesn’t disagree, having never seen a nargle. He presses his lips together and looks at the boy. “I don’t have my outdoor gear.”
Lorcan purses his lips, removing his hand from Albus’ wrist. “Here,” he decides, as they pass a coat closet. He plucks off a tweed coat from the hook along with a yellow and black scarf. He grins. “I always thought you’d be a good Hufflepuff. Even as a kid,” he compliments. “You’re much sweeter than you give yourself credit for,” he mumbles, but then realizes what he’s holding. Lorcan shakes his head, bouncy hair flying around his face.
Albus blushes. He knew the hat’s second choice was Hufflepuff. His Gran had desperately been on the team Hufflepuff as well. Albus remembers getting a knitted scarf in the first week from his Gran, the colours yellow and black. The sight of the scarf made his heart ache, and he started crying again over his sorting. He only stopped when eleven year old Scorpius Malfoy taught him a charm to fix it.
“Lets get this outside,” he says, and then wraps his hand around Albus’ wrist once again. He pushes his way through the crowd and out the door. He still has no shoes on, his feet bare on the icy snow. He’s only wearing his niffler shirt and a pair of jeans. “Hold my ankles Albie,” Lorcan instructs, shaking the plant then standing on the railing of the porch to hang it on the lamp.
He jumps down and turns to the brunette boy. “There’s one other thing we have to do,” he tells Albus with a soft look in his eyes. He grabs the boy’s wrists in both his hands. Gazing into the green eyes, Lorcan smiles softly.
Albus has always been different. He’s always been kind, even in the days where he wasn’t so kind. Lorcan could tell that Albus was a good kid, even when he didn’t act like it. All his little quirks and frustrations never irritated him like they did his twin. Lorcan had no problem pausing, or slowing down so Albus could catch up. He never had any problem with Albus’ behavior quirks, and like Scorpius, he too, enjoyed Albus’ little mispronunciations and speech quirks.
“Lolly,” Albus breathes out quietly. His breath hangs in the air.
Lorcan gives off a smile at the nickname. Albus had been calling him that since they were children. Albus had a habit of shortening names, whether they be needed or not. He cups the boy’s cheek and presses his lips to the other.
Albus pulls apart, and Lorcan nods his head. “Right,” he whispers. “We successfully got rid of the nargles. There’s none left.”
Albus’ face is pink from the chill. He rubs his hands up and down his body to give more warmth back. He doesn’t get how Lorcan can be sitting outside in just a t-shirt, not at this temperature. “I-I think there’s one more left,” Albus whispers. He lets the cold hang in the air again, his breath lingering.
Lorcan smirks and kisses Albus again.