Title: The Silence of Stars
Prompt: #132 Submitted by: seatbeltdrivein
Pairing: James Sirius/Scorpius
Warnings: character death
Word Count: 1,523
Summary: Coming out should have been a perfunctory action. Unfortunately things don't always work the way they should.
Notes: I took the prompt literally, because I loved it like that. However, this may make it too dark for some people, so read at your own risk. Thanks to Caty for the beta.
The Silence of Stars
James used to shine in Astronomy. It was the easiest thing in the world to look in the sky and find constellations. His first summer home from Hogwarts, he and Albus tiptoed out of the house almost every night. Blankets wrapped around them to protect their legs from the cold dew of the grass, they'd look up, craning their necks until it hurt. James would tell Albus all the names, the ones that muggles knew, the ones that had wizard names instead of strings of letters and numbers.
Now he can't see the night anymore. His cell doesn't have a window. He's in a cell that once held a werewolf, he can tell because the walls have gouges, like the Dementors didn't know a werewolf doesn't need moonlight to change. Or didn't care. But he can still see the stars if he closes his eyes. He still knows their names.
Conformity was the name of the game in the Potter household. From the stories James heard at functions their family was forced to go to (almost every week there was a charity ball or a prestigious award) it didn't always used to be that way. Dad used to challenge his professors, used to enter the Forbidden Forest on a lark. And Mum wasn't particularly tame either.
By the time James was born, it was a different story. All of a sudden the cheap exposés seemed to matter when people discussed the Potter's inevitable divorce right in front of their four year old. The most insignificant of slights turned into gossip that could get Lily kicked out of nursery school. Their parents retreated, for the sake of their children.
It's not that James begrudged them the privacy he just hated the way it made his parents quick to stamp down any misbehaviour. Sniping parents made for angry children, angry children made hurtful siblings, and public hurt made for private punishment when the latest Skeeter article ran about how horrible the Potter children behaved in a grocery shop.
People don't go insane as often these days. After his father's war was over, Kingsley made all the Dementors leave. It's still a matter of public opinion on whether that was because they'd deserted over to Voldemort and they weren't to be trusted, or because it was cruel to prisoners to make them so depressed they'd stop eating. There was distinct faction of the public that thought a bleeding heart Minister was the last thing they needed.
Sometimes James agrees with them. Sometimes he thinks insanity leading to unwitting suicide would be the easier option. These days if you want to go mad, it has to already be in your blood. There has to be a spark that can rub against cold walls and creaking rotting beds and crushing loneliness before it ignites. Unfortunately, James was born without that spark.
There's a bloke across from him and two down that just cackles to his self all day. James wishes he could be that happy.
Getting Scorpius to go out with him was somewhat of a feat. Scorpius was the flaming type, which James dealt with easily enough. He knew better than to suggest the blond lose the pretentious lisp, or the string of bracelets. They both came away once they were under the sheets anyway. Nor did Scorpius mind that he was the sporty type, his upper arm strength allowed for a lot of fucking against walls.
No, the real problem was that Scorpius didn't date. He had five or six fuck buddies, and for the longest time didn't see the need to pare it down to one. To him a date was hanging out with sex at the end, and life was far easier if those were separate activities.
Eventually though James had convinced him. And about three weeks in, when Scorpius got a detention for ripping out flowers in greenhouse one to give to James, it became obvious romance wasn't dead in a 21st century world.
Officially, every prisoner is allowed visitors. Unofficially there is a subsystem of who's lucky and who's unlucky, and whether lucky or unlucky means visitors or not, depending on the person. It's all the guards’ choice. Kingsley might not let demons protect the gates anymore, but the sort of person that wants that authority will never give up using it to their advantage.
Some of the prisoners who want to see their girlfriend, or desperately don't want to see their children will try to suck up to the guards. Cheap flattery or pretending they're all chums, or blowjobs, any tactic is a good enough one to use.
James doesn't bother. They hate him, and they'll let everyone he doesn't want come in and try to pry some before unheard nugget out of him. The world hates him. Pleading with the neatly uniformed men wouldn't change a thing.
James always thought coming out was a perfunctory thing. Nobody would really give a shit, and just about everyone close to him would find it obvious. After all, he was fucking Scorpius five ways from Sunday, he was always covered in hickeys and there wasn't a single Gryffindor that hadn't witnessed Ravenclaw Scorpius being sneaked into the tower.
As it turned out, there was a major difference between people knowing, and his family being told. At least he'd had the sense to not invite Scorp to the occasion.
Between his father changing the Floo so any person had to be previously invited by the head of the household and his mother pursing her lips and refusing to acknowledge him, James came out of the experience desperately wanting to move out of the house. But that would cause a Scene, and the Potters aren't about to get written up in the Prophet for their eldest moving out before graduating Hogwarts.
It shouldn't have been surprising that his siblings weren't impressed either. Lily and Albus were merely related to him, they weren't his family. As always, they each took after the opposite sex parent. Lily and Dad became quite proactive, telling him at every possible moment what exactly was wrong with him. Albus and Mum went the silent route, Albus going as far as to cover his ears and hum any time James tried to speak to him.
James wasn't sure which was worse. The vitriol spewed at him tore him, but the numbing silence made him curl in on himself. It was getting to his head.
No one understands. Of course they don't. No one could understand what it was like, unless they were living there, day after day. James doesn't even try to explain it anymore. No matter how much any reporter vows to cite him exactly, the press copy always makes him sound like a monster. He's given up on being treated fairly.
Albus smelled like menthol the day it happened. He'd bought muggle cigarettes, and he didn't even bother to mask the scent, just smoked them in his room. He didn't even have the window open. James had smelled something awful, bad enough to leave the confines of his room to check. He was met in the hall by his father, and James stood back as he opened the door to Albus taking a drag defiantly.
There should have been a smack down. Had it happened before, there would have been a lecture of epic proportions. Dad probably would have made Albus smoke the entire pack after removing the filter on the end.
Instead he'd turned to James and asked "Does your filthy thing smoke too? Can you taste it on him?"
He spends most of his time when not being forced into talking to reporters lying on his bed. He likes to imagine other universes. Ones in which people don't fill with scorn after being told the truth. Ones where being what you are isn't disgusting.
Most of all, he likes to imagine worlds where people see hurt being met with other hurt and see the equality in it. James imagines worlds of objective bystanders. It's a fruitless dream, but dreams are all you have when you don't have the luxury of madness.
The thing that really surprised him was how much blood there was. James had known logically that people were essentially bags of blood, skin covering so much liquid. He just hadn't linked logic to action.
The water ran red when he scrubbed his face. The facecloth was rough against his skin, it brought up pinkness in his face. His clothes stuck to him as he peeled them off and tossed them beside the toilet.
Before he'd rinsed, he'd lined them up in a row in the living room. Lily beside Dad, Albus beside Mum, Lily and Albus together. Now they were all silent at him, but it was different. There was no hate in this silence.
Difficult things would come tomorrow. Mum and Dad wouldn't be showing up for work, Uncle Ron was bound to pop in to see why his best mate hadn't at least called in sick. But today, and tomorrow, and for every day after, the Potters would be quiet. It was worth it.