Chapter 1 : Frequent Visits to St. Mungo's
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She remembered coming here when she was four or five, because her dad had been on the wrong end of a curse. She remembered coming here just before she turned eight, because her uncle Ron had inadvertently touched a cursed amulet. And when she was eleven, because Teddy had bumped into trouble in the catacombs, and thirteen, because Victoire had been attacked by… something.
When Lily had asked what, she’d just been told that it was highly classified information.
Since then, it had been nonstop. Her father, her uncles, her aunts, Victoire, Dominique, Louis, James, Rose…
Today it was James.
Lily wrapped her arms around herself and tried to concentrate on breathing rather than crying. James had barely been out of Hogwarts for two years, and he’d already landed himself in St. Mungo’s for an extended stay twice before. He’d probably be in St. Mungo’s for weeks while the Healers sorted him out.
She had no idea how many times he’d been there for what he jokingly called “quick patch-ups.”
A loud and very familiar laugh suddenly rang out from his room, and Lily winced. She didn’t know what her brother Albus found so funny, and she suspected that she didn’t want to know.
It had been like a punch in the stomach when her father had come home from work earlier that week and told them that James and Rose were in St. Mungo’s, but what had really killed her was Albus’s reaction to the news.
He’d been visiting for the afternoon, and she’d been having a really nice time talking about Quidditch and the classes she was looking forward to and his Auror training. It was the best time she’d had with Albus in a long time – once he’d left Hogwarts, they’d just grown apart.
But when their father came home with the news, Albus hadn’t looked horrified. He hadn’t even looked particularly anxious. And once their father had said that James and Rose would be fine, Albus had actually started to get enthusiastic about it. He’d even cracked a joke about how Scorpius was probably finally starting to regret becoming a Healer right about now.
And in that moment, Lily had felt as though the brother she’d thought she could count on to be sensible had completely vanished. She didn’t know him at all anymore, and she realized that beneath his easygoing air, he was a lot more like their older brother than he was like her.
“Hey,” a voice said, and she jerked her head up. Scorpius Malfoy was standing in front of her, clad in the light green robes that marked him as a junior healer. His blond hair was slightly damp where it met his scalp, and from the slight sheen of sweat across his forehead, she suspected that this was the first break he’d taken in awhile.
She forced a smile onto her face as he sat down next to her. “Hey.”
“Couldn’t deal with the rest of your family?”
Lily shook her head. She didn’t trust herself to speak. Thankfully, with Scorpius, she didn’t really have to. He’d quickly become one of Albus’s best friends in their first year, and despite being two years older than her, he’d always treated her like a friend. He’d even stuck up for her when Rose told her to stop being a baby the last time James ended up in St. Mungo’s, and Lily knew how much he hated arguing with Rose.
The nice thing about Scorpius was that he understood why she was so unhappy and frustrated with the state of her family. He wasn’t especially happy about the Weasley clan’s tendency toward reckless, wild careers, either. She knew that he was still uncomfortable with Rose’s joining James and Victoire at the Dangerous Creatures Bureau, and she suspected that he rather wished Albus would wake up one day and decide that he didn’t want to be an Auror after all.
Lily glanced up at the doorway that led to James’s room to make sure it was empty. “We get in, and he immediately starts talking about how great his job is, how brilliant Rose was—” Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Scorpius twitch. “Sorry.”
He shrugged. “Don’t worry about it. I’m adjusting.”
Rose and James had both been there for the confrontation with the trolls. Rose, however, had made it out in much better shape. She hadn’t even needed to stay overnight.
“It’s just…” Lily struggled to find words. “Albus was just so enthusiastic. He couldn’t wait to hear more.” She hesitated for minute. “He was jealous, because the Auror trainees don’t really get practical lessons until halfway through their second year.”
Scorpius did not look surprised. The idea that Scorpius knew Albus that much better than she did made her feel a little uncomfortable. They’d been best friends for eight years, but even so… she was his sister.
“I just…” she trailed off. “I didn’t expect that of him,” she finished after a moment. “He’s so level-headed, usually.”
Scorpius didn’t speak for a moment. “Al… he is and he isn’t,” he said slowly, glancing toward the empty doorway. “I mean, in a lot of ways, he is level-headed. He’s a lot less rash and reckless than Rose or James.” He shrugged. “But you know, in his own, more subdued way, he likes adventure and excitement just as much as either of them do.”
She felt the tears welling up in her eyes again. “I just don’t understand when that even happened.”
That was really the crux of it. She couldn’t quite get a handle on when her brothers had gone from just being her big brothers to seeking out danger for a living.
Especially Albus, who was so earnest and nice he probably should have been a Hufflepuff.
Scorpius sighed. “I don’t think it really happened. I think he’s always been like that. He’s just more quiet about it, and especially next to Rose and James, people just didn’t notice.” He hesitated for a second, and then asked, “Lily, you realize that they are doing important things, right?”
That was too much. The tears began to spill out of her eyes. “Yes,” she snapped. “That doesn’t mean I can’t be bothered by the fact that I keep getting called home because some family member has ended up in St. Mungo’s.”
He sighed, slid over to her and put his arm around her. That was too much. She buried her head in his shoulder and started to sob.
The trouble for Lily was that she did know that her family were all doing important things. She knew how important Aurors like her father and her uncle were, and on some level, she could understand why becoming an Auror appealed to Albus so much.
He wanted to do something with his life. Something that would make a difference.
As an Auror, he would.
James was the same way; in a decision that had initially surprised Lily, because it seemed rather tame for his tastes, he’d decided to join their cousin Victoire at the Dangerous Creatures Bureau after he finished up at Hogwarts.
Then she’d gotten a sense of how problematic magical creatures were becoming these days, and suddenly James’s skipping the paperwork and procedure of the Auror office for them made perfect sense. If nothing else, James liked an adventure.
As did Rose, and Victoire, and Louis, and…
Being what sometimes felt like the only sane person in the family was starting to get old.
Lily knew, logically, that people in her family cared about her and how she was feeling. However, it didn’t always feel like that, and anyway, them caring didn’t mean that they could make her feel any better.
So in the end, she just ended up feeling inconvenient. She felt like she couldn’t even be herself anymore when she was with her family – she was too busy hiding how she felt about the danger they were all exposing themselves to on a daily basis and pretending their stories were funny – because the very last thing she needed was another lecture about it being their choice.
She knew that. It just didn’t help.
Once, Hogwarts had been an escape, but going back didn’t feel like a particularly appealing option, either. She was supposed to go back for her seventh year in three weeks, and the idea of boarding the Hogwarts Express filled her with genuine dread. She knew that she’d just end up fielding jokes about what dangerous thing she’d do once she left Hogwarts or pretending that gossip about the latest danger didn’t bother her.
She’d probably just get yanked out every other week to come see yet another family member who’d ended up hurt.
It took Lily a week to work out a plan for her seventh year that felt vague palatable, and another week to muster up the courage to talk to her parents about it. When she did, she did not bring it up in a particularly graceful way.
They were eating gazpacho for lunch on a particularly sticky August Saturday when she blurted out “Iwanttotakeayearoff” in a single breath.
Her parents both put down their spoons and looked at her. “Sorry?” her father asked.
She took a deep breath to steady herself and ground her nails into her palms. “I said, I want to take a year off.”
Her mother looked confused. “A year off from what, Lily? Quidditch? You don’t have to play if you don’t want to.”
“No.” The discomfort in her palms was vaguely steadying. “School.”
Now her father’s eyebrows had shot up. “Excuse me?”
“I’m just… I’m tired of everyone being in St. Mungo’s. I want to get away for a bit. Just a bit!” To avoid her father’s gaze, she looked over at her mother’s.
It was not an improvement. Ginny Potter’s deep brown eyes were narrowed slightly, and the usually slight creases in her forehead had become much more pronounced from concern and worry. “But Lily, being here isn’t going to change that, and you need to finish your education. Not having your N.E.W.T.s would close a lot of doors for you, and sweetheart, we don’t want that. We want what’s best for you. What’s really going on here?”
“James is hurt.” Her lower lip started to tremble. “Mum, I’m tired of it. I just want to get away from it for a little while.”
“But Lily, Hogwarts is away,” her father pointed out. “It about as far away as you can get from this. I understand how you feel, but -”
“No, you don’t! Dad, you don’t know. You’re used to this. I’m not, and I’m tired of it, and I just want to go away.”
Her father sighed, and Lily slumped down in her chair. This conversation was going about as poorly as she’d been afraid it would.
In the end, though, she wore them down to a concession that she knew was a gamble. It was what she had, though.
“What if I stayed with Ed?”
Her mother’s mouth opened, closed, and opened again. She glanced over at Lily’s father, who was studying her closely. “Ed?”
“Yeah. I mean - I could ask.”
“So you’re just volunteering him without asking?”
Lily swallowed hard. “I - if he said yes? And if I promised to go back to Hogwarts next year?” Her eyes darted between her mother and father, who exchanged a look.
“If he says yes,” her father said. “But otherwise -”
“Back to Hogwarts. No problem.”
Two days later, Lily packed a bag, hugged her skeptical parents goodbye, walked out her front door, and headed for the Tube. When she got out on the other side of London, the sky had darkened considerably, and the streetlights had been turned on and were all emitting a yellow glow.
She turned down a familiar street, ignoring the sticky heat of the August day that had lingered after the sun had begun its descent. Ignoring the children kicking a black and white ball back and forth in front of a brownstone building, she climbed the stairs leading up to it and stepped through the open door.
There was a rather narrow staircase to the right, and she made her way up it to the second floor and stopped in front of a door labeled E. Dursley. She flicked her eyes up toward the ceiling and said a quick prayer before rapping hard on the door. After a minute, it opened.
“Hello, Edwin,” she said. “Er - can I stay with you for awhile?”
A/N: I'm in the process of editing this story - I want to pull the plot together a little more and make it consistent with how my next-gen universe has developed since I first wrote it. I'd love feedback on the edits,and I'll be making the chapters reappear as I edit them. I'm hoping that the conversation with Harry and Ginny didn't seem too abbreviated - I didn't want to dwell on it when my focus is really on the rest of the story, but if readers feel like it was, I can definitely expand look into expanding it. :)
Thank you for reading!
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