"You are going to FALL and father's not taught me enough healing spells to put your brains back in your head when you do," a disgruntled Theodore Nott called up into the ancient oak's branches. One patch of leaves rustled, and then spoke back.
"I'm not going to FALL, Teddy, you worry more than my MOTHER," Andrew chirped, terrifying the boy below by lunging for a branch a foot above his head, barely managing to latch on. "I'm an EXPERT on tree-climbing," he said with some difficulty as he swung a leg up onto the new branch.
"Just as you were an expert on Acromantulae-hunting and banishing boggarts?" Teddy grumbled (neither boy had yet recovered from last week's foray into the Kirke residence's attic - Andrew, especially, had clung tightly to Teddy and refused to discuss what he'd seen; he'd shivered for hours after).
"Don't be such a Hufflepuff," Andrew scoffed, dragging his other leg onto the branch and letting go with his hands. Hanging by his knees, he grinned down at Teddy and waved, his shirt falling down almost over his eyes as he swung gently on the distressingly small, straining treebranch. Teddy gulped, then remembered the insult, and scowled.
"I'm not a HUFFLEPUFF," he snapped, staring nervously at the tanned, soft expanse of Andrew's exposed stomach, imagining it impaled with one of the lower branches. "...Andrew, please. The branch isn't big enough."
Andrew's dark eyes immediately showed his concern, and he nodded, sobered by the fear in Teddy's voice. "All right, I'm coming down now," he said soothingly, pulling himself up to sit on the branch, then sliding down to a larger one below. Teddy nodded, watching him closely, tensing as Andrew nearly lost his footing once.
After a moment, though, both boys were safely on the ground again. "See? You should try, you know," Andrew advised.
"No, thank you." Primly. "If I want to leave the ground, I won't rely on TREES for it. I'll fashion a pair of wings."
"Like an angel?" Andrew gave him a teasing smile. Teddy winced at a sudden twinge in his chest, and tilted his chin.
"Like a BAT."
Andrew rolled his eyes, and flopped onto the ground, toeing off his shoes and socks and digging his toes into the somewhat sparse grass around the trunk of the three. Teddy followed suit a moment later, leaning back against the bulk of the trunk. Without preamble, Andrew scooted over, nestling into Teddy's side; Teddy found himself automatically sliding an arm across his shoulder, settling against him. "Comfy?" Andrew asked.
"Mm. Are you going to fall asleep?"
"Maybe. Will you stay?"
"If you like."
"Yes, please." Andrew burrowed in further, closed his eyes. "We should stay like this ALWAYS."
Try as he might, Teddy couldn't find anything wrong with the idea.
Perhaps the reason that Evan and Lucius are so cold, so wary, is that even they can see the inevitability of one kiss between Igor and Rookwood, and they know instinctively that that One Kiss is all it would take.
That one kiss threatens during mealtimes (sitting across from each other, the both of them grin and try to kick the other under the table), afternoons spent idly ("Darling, let's go to the gardens and pretend we're Sebastian and Charles - I'll even take a teddy bear!"), and especially in the mornings ("Stay STILL, you'll bunch the dressing." "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, you should've just left me, he'll wonder where I've gone").
A thousand different scenarios: what would have happened, if IT had happened? If things had gone differently?
The song ends and Igor can't make himself let go; he and Augustus blink nervously at each other for a moment before leaning in. Evan growls and charges into the crowd, almost reaching them before Augustus Disapparates them both neatly. He lowers Igor onto his bed even as Rosier shouts his rage.
Or: a rainy Sunday afternoon. Everyone else has succumbed to sleep (even Aldous), which means it's safe for Igor to drag out his violin. He plays a few scales, wincing at his rustiness, before launching into the few tunes he knows by heart. Soft clapping at the end of the second stops him, and Igor opens his eyes and blushes bright red, hastening to put the instrument away again. "Sorry, sorry. Did I wake you?"
Rookwood just looks confused at that. "No, I was outside." Igor notices, breath catching, that he's SOAKED. "You should play more often."
"Hm? Oh, no, I'm not as good as - "
"You're just as good. You're better." Quietly.
Igor gives him a wary, pained look, and it galvanises Rookwood against his own terror at being left alone in a room with him. He strides across the floor and seals their lips together; Igor nearly drops the violin case on his foot. By the time everyone else wakes, the two of them have established a favourite lounging position and have planned the next 50 years of their life.
Or: Igor manages to give the Aurors the slip, and jimmies the lock on the BACK door open instead. Rookwood finds him standing, crowbar in hand, in the doorway to the dining room, gaping at the crystal and candles. Before he can pale and retreat, Igor's crossed the room and is clinging to him, babbling apologies and endearments so quickly that the hard kiss Augustus gives him them is partly to shut him up. They're halfway to the bedroom before Igor remembers himself and tells - a panicked conversation of whispers follows. Igor pleads with his eyes and finally Rookwood nods; he grabs a few books, fewer clothes, before they both Disapparate together. The magic triggers the alarm outside - DMLE agents break down the door and rush in to find no one, nothing. So, they eat the dinner on the table instead.
Parks, ponds, alleys, jail cells, guest-room beds - in some universe somewhere, they've all been the backdrop for that particular Igor's and that particular Rookwood's One Kiss. And always, that's all it takes for them to establish a Forever.
It is, thinks the Igor in the least fortunate scenario (this one), a great comfort to know that whatever their incarnation, they're in love.
Simon never gets used to waking up alone; however, he does eventually reach a point where he doesn't panic about it. He just pulls a dressing gown on, some slippers if he thinks of them, and checks the likely places: the sofa, the kitchen, the stairs. Tonight, it's the fire escape.
Terence glances up and gives him a guilty smile as he tosses the cigarette onto the street below. Waving the smoke away, he shifts wordlessly and settles as Simon moves to occupy the stair behind him. Nestling into the V of his legs, Terence rests his head against Simon's chest, feels his heartbeat, and shows him the half-finished poem on the notepad in his hands. Hooking his chin over Terence's shoulder, Simon reads silently, and murmurs encouragement and honest praise into his ear. Terence gives him a bashful kiss and suggests they both go back to bed; he doesn't mention how the poem is about Simon, and how it's on its 100th draft.
As they crawl into bed, neither of them know it's the poem that will make sure they're never forgotten. And even if they did, it couldn't make them happier than they are just now.