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Tangles and Trills

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“Draco needs food, Al,” Scorpius announces one Saturday before their monthly trip to Hogsmeade. The little ferret had been low on food for a bit now, and somehow amongst all the stress of seventh year, Scorpius had become the one to tend to the ferret the most. Not that Albus didn’t, but with Scorpius’ NEWTs more in line for magical creatures than Albus’ healing focus, it just slowly turned into a habit.

“We need to stop into the shop and get some before we head back to yours for the holidays. Poor guy, I don’t think he could wait until the hols.” Scorpius reaches into the cage, going to stroke the soft fur of the little ferret. He runs his fingers up and down the back, as the creature gives a little squirm. Scorpius gently reaches to cover the animal’s ears. “I’m also getting him a Christmas present this year. Do you think he’d like a nice ball to play with? What about a nice blanket?” Scorpius glances at the bottom of the ferret cage, removing his hands from its ears.

“He doesn’t understand what you’re saying,” Albus tells his boyfriend with a smile. “You can say words around him and he doesn’t understand. See, watch. Gift,” Albus says, and the ferret tilts his head.

“He does,” Scorpius disagrees. “Now you owe me.”

“Owe you what?” A playful smirk arrives on Albus’ face. He leans in to kiss Scorpius on the lips, and the boy breaks apart and smiles.

“I’m good,” Scorpius says, and runs his hand through his hair. Kissing Albus Potter never got old, although that spark from the kiss hadn’t seem to tire out just yet. He loved the other boy, and he was glad they were finally dating. “So Hogsmeade?” Scorpius asks, and links hands with his boyfriend.

Albus nods, bundling up in his cloak as he leans close to Scorpius for comfort.

Hogsmeade is its usual crowd. It’s never too busy, but never too slow. Students weave around other students, this time with shopping bags in hands with gifts. The boys decide to do their Christmas light looking at the end of the trip, as is per their customs.

Scorpius is holding tight to Albus. He knows now that crowds and Albus don’t often mix, as he learned in the past few years. He has no issues with Albus being extra close to him in public, nor can he see how anyone could have a problem with this.

They wander past the various shops when Scorpius grins, reaching up with his gloved hand to ruffle Albus’ messy fringe. The rest of his messy hair is held in place by his beanie. “You really need to get some tangle potion. Or a trim,” Scorpius teases, pressing a kiss to his cheek.

“I’ll get some on the way back,” Albus mumbles, following Scorpius into one of the newer shops added to Hogsmeade. Albus was thankful when the new shop popped up near the start of their third year. The shop held all sorts of fantastic beasts, all legal, as well. The pets for Hogwarts still haven’t expanded too much past their initial cat, owl, toad, but sometimes normal pets were allowed.

Albus had become extremely thankful for that shop, considering his ferret’s food was getting difficult to find while at school. Prior to the shop, he had to bother his parents to send food midway through the term. Now, he could buy it himself, and lose Scorpius in the shop in the process.

Scorpius would always somehow manage to get lost inside the shop while looking at all the various animals. Some of them he’d want to take home, only to be reminded that he didn’t have the space or time to take care of said creature. Albus would then promise one day they’d have a large house where they could have animals all over the place. So far, Albus is pretty sure he’ll need to buy a zoo for all the animals he’s promised Scorpius over the years. (But he can’t help it. Scorpius has such a cute face when he sees a baby.)

To get the ferret food, they had to go to the back of the store. They have to pass the baby nifflers, the pygmy puffs, and some of the other furry magical beasts until they reached the nonmagical section of the store, where you buy normal pet food. Albus had successfully made his way to the back of the store, picking up the bag then wandering around the shop to find Scorpius. It was always difficult to find him in the store, as depending on his mood, depended on what type of critter he was interested in looking at. Somedays it was the more harmful creatures, while other times it was the baby nifflers.

Today, Albus found him stuck behind the cage of pygmy puffs. There were a handful of them, rolling around in the cage, trilling.  Albus held the bag of pet food up and tapped Scorpius on the shoulder. “I’m ready, Scorp,” Albus tells his boyfriend, who then turns to Al.

“We can’t leave him, Al.”

Albus blinks, confused. “Who?”

“The puff. He’s being bullied, look.”

Albus peers at the cage. The one lone purple puff is huddled by itself in the corner, while the pink ones were across the cage. The other puffs seemed to be ignoring this one puff, or purposely excluding it. Every time the purple puff would get close, the pink ones would move further away. Albus looks at the puffs and frowns.

“Let’s get him Al.” Albus looks as Scorpius, then shakes his head.

“Scor, we hardly have enough time as it is.”

“But he’s lonely. And he’s bullied. He’s probably being called all sorts of nasty puff names. They’re acting aggressive to him. Their stance proves aggression. We should rescue him.”

Albus looks at the puff again, then at Scorpius. “But,” Albus starts, trying to think of a reason to convince Scorpius not too.

“He needs a home. He’s being bullied, poor thing.” Scorpius reaches into the cage and pulls the purple one out. The puff hides into the crook of Scorpius’ arm, frightened. Scorpius then coos to the puff, talking softly to it as he rocks the creature back and forth, humming. “I’m getting him,” Scorpius decides and Albus just blinks again, confused.

“But where will he stay? He can’t steal Draco’s cage. Unless you’re getting it a cage…”

“Of course I am, Al. He’s going to have a cage, then be free range when we’re in the dorm. They’re not as hard as you may think. They’re actually less to maintain than your ferret. And they’re so squishy and cute.” Scorpius goes to press his cheek to the purple puff in his hands. The puff hesitates, not moving as Scorpius presses cheek to fluff.

Albus looks back at the pink puffs, who seem to be aware of the purple no longer in their cage. They seem to look up at Scorpius holding the purple, the pink puffs seeming offended that the purple was adopted and they weren’t. Now that Scorpius points it out clearer to him, he notices that the puffs did seem to be treating the purple one unkind.

“Well, what are you going to be naming it then?” Albus asks. He watches as the purple puff seems to be content with Scorpius. The puff seems to be happier with the blond, much how many creatures are.

Scorpius seemed to have a way with animals. Beasts seem to flock to Scorpius as if he were a reincarnated Newt Scamander. He had a way with creatures that Albus didn’t really get how it were possible. But, somehow, Scorpius knew how to respond to all beasts, both big and small. Even ones he should be more nervous around, he wasn’t. It didn’t matter if the animals were magical or not; Scorpius knew how to work with them all.

“I don’t know. Perhaps Tilly, or Tilda. You know how much I love Bathilda Bagshot. Tilda, probably. Unless you have any suggestions?” Scorpius then narrows his eyes at his boyfriend. “That aren’t Les Mis. We don’t need to name this poor thing after a man who went to jail over a loaf of bread. Or anyone who died a tragic death for that matter.”

“Tilly’s fine,” Albus replies, and he picks a cage off the shelf. “It’s cute. Very puff-like.”

Scorpius nods, then shows Albus the blanket he had. “I had thought to get this for Draco for Christmas. Is that alright?”

Albus studies the blanket, then nods. “Yes. He’ll love it.”

“Oh, and Tilly can be his brother! Our happy little family.”

Albus warms at the idea of a family with Scorpius. He knows they’ve only begun dating recently, but he likes the idea of spending forever with him. The addition of their pets makes the whole family situation feel all more real.

“And Artemis.”

“Oh, right. She’ll be angry if I don’t include her.”

Artemis was Scorpius’ owl. Named after a Greek goddess, the owl was true to her name. She hunted, and she had an interest at Albus’ pet ferret at one point. However, the interest has slowly been diminishing as Scorpius had scolded the owl every time she came within certain radius of the rodent.

She was a pretty owl, brown with a white face and horns. She was intelligent, and she got along well with Albus. She had a finicky personality as far as owls go. She bit if you weren’t Scorpius, and Albus had had his fair share of knuckle nibbles over the years. As long as you keep her desired treat pellets, she’ll do any task for you. Albus makes sure to always keep some on hand.

When the two make their way to the register, Scorpius lets Albus check out first, then sticks the rest of his own purchases in the bag, keeping Tilly firm in his arms. Tilly lets out a soft trill and nestles down in the grip.

“Don’t forget, Puffs like to eat earwax and small spiders. It’s not uncommon for them to crawl into your ears and take a lick. You understand how to care for them, yes?” The shop keeper asks. Scorpius nods his head and beams down at the puff, pressing a soft kiss to its head.

“Well then, have a nice day!” The shopkeeper waves at the two of them.

Albus laces his hands back into Scorpius’. “Where to next?”

“Tangle potion,” Scorpius directs. “Or a trim. Then quidditch store? Or we could look at the bookstore. You don’t get your guitar stuff here, do you?”

“No trim,” Albus replies, then shakes his head. “I get them at the muggle store. The one near my house. The owner is wicked nice and he sells our EP there and gives the band discounts an’ stuff.  We don’t ever have to pay full price there, as long as we make sure to play their backroom from time to time.”

“Tangle potion it is then,” Scorpius directs. “Because you haven’t cut your hair since what, last summer?”

“Right before I started quidditch it got long enough to have it back how I like. So, late winter maybe.”

Scorpius reaches his gloved hand back to the messy fringe and ruffles the fringe around, tucking it into the side of the beanie. He then presses a kiss where the fringe lightly dusts Albus’ cheek. Scorpius reaches to Albus’ thin wrists and grips it, tugging him into the shop the brunette wished to avoid. He shifts Tilly into the crook of his arm.

It’s not the usual place Albus goes for his hair, but, it’s a shop that is designated for girls and their fashion needs. Scorpius takes no time and picks out a potion for the messy hair. Albus rolls his eyes and produces a scowl at his boyfriend. Scorpius ignores it, nodding at the instructions.

“Two drops then brush through, Albie. Got that?” Scorpius asks, and makes a note himself. “Quidditch or books?” He asks the boy, readjusting the puff back to his arms. “Tilly, don’t forget to remind Daddy,” he whispers to the puff who trills in excitement.

Albus pauses at the word daddy, his heart doing a little flip inside.  He thinks a minute before leaving the shop, then nods, and takes steps out. He’s eager to leave and go look at quidditch stuff. That was something he didn’t think he’d ever get excited about again. But after the Slytherin Keeper was out due to an incident, tryouts became available and Albus managed to get a spot. He had decided that he wanted to try for the team, something to have as a way to release energy. He didn’t want to be super serious about it, and Scorpius agreed. Stress from quidditch was not in the equation. Albus made the team, and he’s felt just a bit better ever sense. It felt good to fly on a broom, and be a part of something where no one laughed at him.

Scorpius followed Albus into the quidditch shop, the joy of his boyfriend creating his own inner joy. It was great to see Albus doing well again. It was great to see him happy, and to see him engaged in activities that would be good for his health. Aside from quidditch, Albus took up exercising and had reduced his smoking. He still did music, and kept talking about taking gap years to pursue his band, and although Scorpius was hesitant, he knew the opportunity wasn’t one to pass up. His muggle friends were doing their own muggle version of end of school tests, or something similar, and many were considering skipping out to take the possible opportunity. Albus himself was very close to dropping seventh year, but with a lot of persuasion, Scorpius was glad he decided to complete his year.

Tilly makes a loud trill in excitement, making Scorpius’ grip vibrate. The little puff had seen one of the bludgers, assuming it to be a puff. Scorpius lets out a laugh, bending down so the pygmy puff was able to look at the item. The noises come out as excitement from the purple animal.

Scorpius,” Albus calls out from across the shop. He’s standing there, bouncing in giddy. Forcing the purple puff to bid ado to the bludger, Scorpius goes over to the quidditch gear. He can see the excitement in Al’s eyes, as the boy gazes over the rows and rows of gloves. “His line is out! His very own line is out!” Albus bounces in excitement, and Scorpius smiles down at Tilly mimicking Al’s joy. ”See,” Albus says, pointing to the Goncalo Flores line of quidditch gloves. “His gloves are out! And it’s not just the chaser line, but all lines! In colours!”

Scorpius beams at Albus’ excitement, enjoying it even more so as Tilly seems to mimic every happy noise Albus lets escape from his lips. A playful teases escapes from his lips as he watches Albus look at all the rows of gloves.

“Are you expecting me, Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy, to believe that you, Albus Severus Potter, want something in colour?” He can’t help but tease Albus. Albus never wore bright colours. The brightest colour he owned was a dark blue, and that was at Scorpius’ insistence of the colour looking well on him. Whenever he gets colour, he discards the item and hardly wears it. Scorpius is glad they’re Slytherins; if they were Hufflepuffs he’d never see Albus in the yellow uniform.

“They have green,” Albus points out. “And green and blue are my favourite colours.”

Scorpius playfully gasps, shocked. Tilly lets out another trill. “You don’t say. I thought it was black, the colour of your soul,” he teases.

Albus is in too good of a mood to send his boyfriend a two finger salute. Instead, he marvels at the gloves once again. “I want the green ones,” Albus decides, picking the pair up. He looks at the price and puts the gloves back. “For the holidays. Green because Slytherin,” he reasons, as if Scorpius is denying that to be a proper reason.

“Are you sure not pink?” He teases his boyfriend, gesturing to the feminine gloves. “We can paint your black nails pink, and you can match.”

“Green. I’m going to tell Mum and Dad that in my letter. They’ve been asking.”

“Or would you rather have your brother’s jersey?” Scorpius teases, gesturing to the fan jerseys on a hanger. All the current teams are on display, and hanging in front is none other than a replica of James Potter’s quidditch jersey. It wasn’t uncommon to walk through the school grounds on their days off from class and see many students, particularly young females, wearing the fan jersey. It also was becoming more and more common to see the elder Potter in quidditch magazines, and Albus wants to barf at the ones that say the words sexy and hot on the cover.

Scorpius smirks once more, and covers the pygmy puff’s eyes. “Or, the charity calendar where James is holding a quaffle over his um, you know,” Scorpius says turning bright in the face. What had started off as a taunt to his boyfriend, had turned into the blond becoming embarrassed.

“I do not want to have any pictures of my brother that I have to spend money on. Teddy actually subscribes to those quidditch magazines for his shop. He says it’s good business to tell everyone he cuts the infamous James Potter quaff.”

“Well, maybe he will display your photos when your band makes it.”

Albus shrugs. “I don’t know if we need duplicates of any of my bandmates hairstyles. And besides, I’m the only wizard in the band.” He sets the magazine down and walks away.

Scorpius frowns down at Tilly. Albus always seems to put himself down, especially by comparing himself to his older brother. They have different career paths, yet Albus seems to still think he’s lesser than James Potter. Scorpius knows Albus’ family have doubts about his music career, and he really hopes no one sends Albus into a spiral about it.

He looks at the cocky boy on the magazine cover, the eldest Potter giving a sly wink to all who look at the portrait. Scorpius doesn’t pick it up and walks past other items, finding Albus in the retro quidditch section. The boy is staring at copies of old collectors’ items from the years when his mother was on the Harpies.

Scorpius reaches with his free hand to rest it on Albus’ shoulder. “Hey,” he says quietly. “Let’s get some cocoa at Puddifoots.”

Albus looks over at Scorpius. “Puddifoots? We never go there, except on a date.”

“Well, it’s still your anniversary after all. I know you don’t like to remember, but.” Scorpius looks at Albus, sliding the hand down to lace gloved fingers in Albus’. “We should have cocoa then watch the lights. You, me, and Tilly.”

Albus nods softly, holding to Scorpius, who holds onto the pygmy puff. They leave the store, heading over to the tea shop. The bell dingles and a young witch grins. “Table for two?” She asks Scorpius. She gives a charming grin and a flirtatious wink at Albus, who doesn’t even notice.

Instead, Albus grips tighter to Scorpius, as Tilly quietly nestles into Scorpius’ pocket in his cloak. Scorpius takes no time when sitting down to remove Tilly from his pocket and drape both his and Albus’ cloaks on the back of their chairs. Albus tugs his beanie off and his wild hair becomes more estranged. Scorpius places his hands on top of Albus’ looking at the boy with interest. Albus seems distracted.

“Is everything alright, Albie?” Scorpius asks quietly.   He makes a quiet order of two cocoas, adding on some finger sandwiches and the little tarts Albus likes. “Did something happen in the shop?”

Albus looks at Tilly, who has decided to take a nap. “You don’t think I’ve gone mad, do you?” He asks.

Scorpius shakes his head. “Of course not. Why’ve you think you’ve gone mad? Somebody didn’t say something, did they?”

“The chance of a band making it is very slim. The odds are against us. But two of my immediate family have been quidditch players professionally, and that’s almost as hard to get professionally as a music career. I’m not going to be able to make it playing quidditch; I know that. I don’t want too, anyways. But is it crazy to want my band to make it? Should I give it that chance? Or should I follow everyone’s advice and just keep it as a hobby and do that healing program and just, you know.”

“Do what everyone wants you to do,” Scorpius finishes for him. He nods a thanks to the girl and splits the finger sandwiches between him and Albus, putting one of the tarts on the side of his plate. Albus’ appetite hasn’t been the same since fifth year. Once he was out of the hospital, his food intake diminished into smaller portions and less overall eating. It wasn’t uncommon for Albus to have half a plate instead of a full plate of breakfast now.

“Everyone thinks that me studying healing means that the band thing is out of my system. We’ve got an EP going, but that’s about it. People think I’m crazy about wanting to go on to the next level. People are appalled that I’m putting healing second to music. But no one deemed it crazy that James went straight to quidditch.”

Scorpius bites down on the sandwich and takes a sip of his cocoa. He dabs at his lips with the cloth napkin and nods in understanding. “Believe it or not, the thought that I want to go into magical creatures doesn’t put ease into people’s minds. They think I should stick to normal healing. But it’s not that I don’t like healing; I’m sick of hospitals. I’m sick of being there, and watching people. I’d rather help animals. They can’t help themselves. I’d rather learn about them and see them in their natural world. I want to see more than just the textbook pictures.” Scorpius nibbles on a tart and then dabs at his mouth again. “James could land an injury and be out of quidditch in an instant. Anything can happen. I could be trampled to death by wild creatures. A dragon could flame me to a crisp. You could break your arm and never play guitar again. There are uncertainties. You could travel and not make a dime, or be the next big thing. But I’ve seen you play, Albie. Your hearts in it. Your heart is poured into music. I’ve seen you play. I’ve never seen you that happy before. It’s this energy you get on stage that’s like no other. I want people to see that. I want them to see you. Not Albus Potter, but Albie. If you’re asking me, you should do it. Healings stable, but this chance isn’t forever.”

Albus nibbles on his sandwich. “You didn’t want me to drop out. You forced me into completing seventh year.”

Scorpius blushed. “I’m a bit selfish, I suppose. I didn’t want to spend my final year without my boyfriend. I’ve liked being able to finally date you and be in the same location.”

“I’ve liked that too. But I guess, I mean, you really think I should try?”

“Why not? Besides, if you have something stable to fall back on, it’s not like you can’t go back to that. Healing won’t disappear. Finish school, get your NEWTs for healing. Then take some time off and do the band thing. Plenty of kids take gap years. Why is this any different?”

“But what would you do?”

Scorpius thinks a moment. He’s been thinking of this idea for a while now. If Albus does continue with his band and travel, Scorpius thinks he might like to go with him. While Albus goes on the road and play music, he might like to go and search for different creatures in an area. He’d be traveling with Albus. His band, too. But he’d get to see the world with Albus. Something about that sounds even better than it does when he dreamed up that possibility.

“I’d travel along, if you don’t mind. You can do the music, and I can research animals. There’s no formality to what I’d be doing, anyways. I’d be researching magical beasts. Otherwise I’d probably have to go directly into something ministry related with beasts and I just don’t want a desk job. I want to see history in action.”

Albus smiles at Scorpius. He likes the idea of a cramped bus with his friends and his boyfriend. He likes the idea of Scorpius being there for when he needs him most. Mostly, he likes the idea of Scorpius in general. He likes that he’s insert himself into lives after Hogwarts, too. It’s more comforting to know he’ll have his boyfriend around.

Scorpius drops some galleons on the table. “Oh, the lights are starting to come on. We should go see.” He stands up, and helps Albus put his cloak back on, putting the sleepy Tilly back into the pocket of the coat. He watches as Albus shoves the beanie over his messy locks, securing his fringe back into place, pushing it to the side. Then, with gloved hands, Scorpius takes Albus’ in his own, walking side by side as the two leave the shop and stroll down the lanes.

Albus leans into Scorpius once again and rests against the boy, smiling and pointing at the light displays. He makes his way down the road to the large tree lighting up, candles floating over branches and bobbles hanging off the limbs.

“Oh, Albie, look, it’s your favourite,” Scorpius gushes, as he tugs Albus away from the tree and to the storefront window with the train out front. It’s a miniature replica of the Hogwarts Express, with fake trees and snow on the ground around the tracks.

He bends down to press a kiss to Albus’ forehead. “Oh! And I haven’t forgotten. Here,” Scorpius says, gushing as he holds out an unwrapped box of chocolates. It’s different compared to the sweets that Scorpius bought last year. This time, they’re fancier than chocolate frogs or pepper imps.

“Happy Birthday, Love,” Scorpius whispers to Albus, breath hanging in the air. He leans down to kiss the brunette, an excited vibration coming from his pocket. “Tilly wishes you a Happy Birthday, too.” Scorpius holds the puff up who licks Albus’ cheek.

Scorpius beams at his little family.

He can’t wait for it to grow.