It had been about a week when Scorpius stopped by again. Lily was in the back, enjoying a chocolate chip biscuit while the sponge washed the dishes in the sink all on its own.
Hopefully, she wouldn’t bring the Ministry of Magic down on her… but the more she got away with, the surer she was that she wouldn’t, and anyway, she really hated washing dishes.
She’d just finished the biscuit when she heard the door swing open, and she quickly grabbed the sponge and the dish out of the air.
“Hey, Lily!” Annie’s face appeared in the doorway. “Blondie’s back.”
Lily stared at her, uncomprehending, for a minute. Then her face broke into a smile. She laid the dish and sponge down on the counter and rushed for the door.
Annie surveyed her with some amusement. “You sure he’s not your boyfriend?” she asked as Lily sidled past her.
“Very,” Lily said. She scanned the shop, and saw Scorpius standing against the wall, looking rather awkward and uncomfortable.
He never really had gotten used to the muggle world.
Lily ducked under the counter and ran at him. She caught a brief glimpse of the perplexed look on his face before she threw her arms around him.
He returned the hug a little awkwardly and patted her back. When she drew back, he was wincing.
Her heart stopped. “What?” she asked quickly. “Is there something wrong?”
He shook his head and looked down at his side. “No,” he said, prodding part of his rib cage gingerly through his shirt. “You just elbowed me exactly where some woman who was going through Felix Felicis withdrawal kicked me this morning. It hurts.”
Lily took a step back. “Sorry,” she said. “I was just happy to see you.”
Scorpius managed a smile, though the lines on his forehead said that he was still in a fair amount of pain. “I’d gathered.”
“Do you want to sit down for a bit?” He shrugged, and she led him over to two chairs in the corner.
Once they sat down, he said, “You know, you’ve gotten me in a load of trouble with your brother.”
When Scorpius had agreed to let her tell him where she was, in case there was a real, life-or-death emergency, he’d agreed only on the condition that she let him tell Albus and Rose that he knew. Lily had had her doubts that he’d be able to tell them that he knew without either of them getting it out of him, but with every day that rolled by, that seemed less and less likely.
She still didn’t really understand why he’d insisted on that condition – part of the reason she’d chosen Scorpius to tell in the first place was that she knew that he didn’t mind lying half as much as Teddy or Hugo or even Louis – but apparently he made a point of not lying to Albus or Rose. Something about trust and the principle of it and all.
She frowned. “Which one?”
Scorpius rolled his eyes. “What, you think I would tell James that I knew where you were?” That got a chuckle out of her. “No, Al spent two days barely speaking to me, and now he’s moved on to being aggressively unhappy with me. Which, by the way, makes for very awkward breakfasts and dinners.”
“I still don’t understand why you told him,” she said.
“Yes, you do,” he replied. “Remember what happened when I lied to him about going out with Rose? He refused to speak to me for days.” Now that he mentioned it, she did remember Albus giving both Rose and Scorpius the cold shoulder when they’d first started going out, because they’d both lied to him about it because they didn’t want to make him angry.
Which hadn’t really worked.
“And anyway,” Scorpius added, “I don’t lie to Rose, and she wouldn’t lie to Albus about that.”
Lily found that very difficult to believe. Scorpius wasn’t really untrustworthy, but she’d always known him to lie with a smooth face and a clear conscience if it would make his life easier without really hurting anyone he cared about. “Not ever?” she asked skeptically.
He shook his head. “Early on, I was careful because I knew that she was skeptical about going out with a Slytherin in the first place, and she had a nasty habit of eavesdropping.”
Now Lily was beginning to understand. Not lying at all didn’t really sound like Scorpius, but eavesdropping definitely sounded like Rose.
Scorpius was still talking. “If she found out I’d been lying to avoid an argument, she probably would have ditched me, and I decided that I’d much rather fight about having a nasty run-in with one of her friends or deal with her being annoyed that her Potions marks were never as good as mine than have her break up with me.”
“Oh.” Lily frowned. “But she wouldn’t break up with you over it now.”
“Probably not,” Scorpius conceded. “But unlike her, I’m not a risk-taker.”
“How’s she taking it?” Lily asked curiously, half-expecting him to say that he was moving out of the flat he currently shared with Albus and Rose.
Rose was not one to take anything lightly.
He leaned back in the chair and shook his head. A small smile had appeared on his face. “Surprisingly well, all things considered. She only exiled me to the couch for a night, and I think most of that was a show for Al.”
That surprised Lily. Her brother was much more even-tempered than Rose – she’d expected Rose to be the one to chew Scorpius out, not Albus.
Scorpius seemed to read the confusion on her face. “Oh, come on. It’s not that surprising. He’s your brother, of course he’s going to be more pissed off at me.”
“Yeah, but Rose is…” Lily trailed off. “Rose,” she supplied eventually.
He smiled a little. “Thanks for that. I had no idea. Look, did you really want to talk about your family? I though the point was that you wanted to get away from them.”
He looked around the store. “So this is where you’re working?”
“It’s nice,” Lily said defensively, following his gaze as he took in the mismatched chairs and tables, the football posters, and the counter. “I like it here.”
He shrugged. “If you say so.”
“How’s healing?” she asked.
His eyes twinkled, and he launched into a much more involved answer than she’d really wanted. They spent about twenty minutes talking about things that weren’t Lily’s reckless, foolhardy family, and then he glanced up at a clock on the wall. “My lunch is almost up,” he said. “I should go.”
She walked him to the door and gave him another hug before he opened it, this time being careful about his side. “Thank you,” she whispered.
“You’re welcome,” he answered. “I hate fighting with Albus. You owe me.”
After he left, she ducked back under the counter. Annie looked at her curiously. “Who is that, again?”
Lily debated for a moment about how exactly to describe Scorpius. “He’s a friend,” she said, but that felt a little inadequate to her. “He’s my brother’s best friend,” she added. “And he’s been going out with my cousin since they were fifth-years. He’ll probably end up marrying her eventually, so I guess he’s sort of family.”
“What’s a fifth year?” Annie asked, and Lily winced inwardly.
“That’s what our school called A-levels,” Lily said quickly. Edwin had explained A-levels to her, but she didn’t really properly understand them. She hoped that she was referring to them right. “Now he’s studying to be a… doctor.”
She needed to just not volunteer this kind of information. She liked Annie too much to lie to her.
“Oh, where did you go to school?” Annie asked.
“Scotland,” Lily said. “It… it was a boarding school.” She looked around the room, hoping to find something to distract her. Her eyes fell across a Liverpool poster. “So, what position do you play in football?”
Annie’s face lit up. “Oh, I’m usually an attacking midfielder, but if they really need me to, I can play as a winger or a holding midfielder.” As she continued to talk about her football life, Lily began to feel a slight longing for the Quidditch pitch. She wished that she could share that with Annie, who clearly understood how important sports were.
But that would be a bad idea.
“Do you play sports?” Annie asked.
Lily decided on a vague truth rather than a lie. “Some,” she said. “I’ve never really played football, though.”
Annie’s eyes gleamed. “Oh, you should! I’ll teach you.” Lily bit her lip, and Annie nudged her. “Oh, come on. It’ll be fun.”
Nostalgia for the Quidditch pitch and genuine enjoyment of Annie’s company warred the fact that Lily was very, very sure that football would not feel like a remotely adequate substitute for Quidditch. “Maybe,” she said at last.
Annie’s face fell a little, but she forced a smile onto it anyway. “Just tell me,” she said cheerfully as she reached up to pull a jar of tea leaves off the shelf. “Want a cup?”
Feelings about football aside, Lily really did enjoy Annie’s company, and she hadn’t been quite sure how to express that. It just felt awkward to go up to what was essentially her boss and say, “I like you a lot, let’s do something after work one day.” Especially since Annie always seemed to be running off to football practice.
However, Lily felt a little emboldened by Annie’s offer to teach her to play football, and that evening, as they were finishing wiping down the last of the tables, she decided to take the plunge. “Hey, Annie.”
“Hmm?” Annie brushed her hair out of her face and looked up.
“I’m going to meet Ed and Anthony for dinner. Want to join us?”
Annie’s face broke into a smile. “Oh, Lily, I’d love to, but I have football practice.” Through her smile, she looked a little regretful, but not enough that Lily actually felt better about it.
“Oh.” Lily forced a smile and hoped that it looked real. She’d had a lot of practice with that. “That’s fine. Don’t worry about it.”
Annie turned away and called cheerfully over her shoulder, “Another time!”
“Sure,” Lily muttered to herself, grabbing her bag off the chair and following Annie out the door.
They’d closed up a little earlier than they usually did, so Lily opened the door to the Italian restaurant fully expecting to have to sit and wait for the boys. As the unmistakable aroma of tomatoes and cheese hit her, she took a deep breath.
She really loved food.
She was surprised, however, to find Anthony already sitting there. He was staring at his cell phone, but looked up when she slid into the seat across from him.
“Hey,” he said cheerfully. “What’s up?”
Lily shrugged. The idea of confiding in him about the conversations with Annie briefly flitted across her mind, but she quickly decided against it. There was no need to drag the conversation down with her whinging. “Not much,” she said instead. “You?”
He grinned. “Early Encounters with Ireland got canceled,” he said cheerfully. “Then I got bored of the library, so I got here early.”
Anthony was getting a degree in history, and he deeply resented the class he’d ended up in that focused on Ireland. He felt that its primary purpose was to make Brits feel guilty – which, as he said, was all very well, but he had nothing to feel guilty for, since his ancestors were still in India when all of the conquering and Catholic discrimination was going on, and would end up getting conquered and discriminated against themselves.
Lily actually found the subject material quite interesting – they just didn’t teach that stuff at Hogwarts (or if they did, it was boring because Binns was talking about it) – but she still made sympathetic faces when Anthony complained about it, because that was what friends were for.
“Lucky you,” she said instead as he slipped his cell phone into his pocket.
After a few minutes of idle chit-chat, he said hesitantly, “Hey, can I ask you a question?”
“Sure,” Lily answered, feeling a bit confused.
“Why are you here?” She didn’t know what look spread across her face, but it seemed to worry him, because he added quickly, “I’m not saying I don’t want you here. I’m just confused about what happened.”
“Oh.” She made a face and brushed her hair out of her eyes.
“If you don’t want to talk about it—”
“No, it’s fine.” Lily thought for a minute. She liked Anthony, too, and she didn’t want to lie to him any more than she wanted to lie to Annie. At the same time, she couldn’t blame him for being curious, and he’d been nice enough to her that she felt like she owed him an answer.
When she looked over at him, he was watching her patiently.
She sighed. “I needed to get away from my family. I love them, but we have different… priorities.” That fit as well as anything as an explanation. “And one of my brothers decided to do something… well, I don’t disagree with it, but I really wish he’d rethink his choice.” Anthony had wrinkled his nose. “What?”
“You’re not one of those closet homophobes, are you?” he asked.
“No!” She jerked back in her chair and stared at him. “Why the hell would you think that?”
Anthony shrugged. “Your word choice. I’ve heard similar things used as code for ‘I wish they weren’t gay.’”
“Then I need a different code,” Lily said. “No. He’s just… a lot of my family do dangerous things for a living, and I was hoping that he wouldn’t follow them.”
That was more than a little oversimplified – her decision to run away had had just as much to do with James as it had with Albus – but it would serve for the moment.
Anthony still looked a little confused, but after a moment, he said, “That’s a tough situation to be in. I’m sorry.” She nodded, not sure what else to say, and he added, “My favourite sister joined the army last year. I know it’s not really the same thing, but I worry about her a lot.”
Lily smiled tentatively. “Thanks. I’m sorry, I don’t want to whinge. I’m really fine.”
He smiled back, and was just opening his mouth to say something else when the door opened again and Edwin sauntered in. He saw them and waved.
“Anytime,” Anthony said quickly, as Edwin began to make his way over to them. “You’re not exactly hard to talk to, even when you’re complaining.”
His eyes sparkled, and Lily felt her face starting to get hot.
“Hey,” Edwin said as he sat down next to her. “Sorry I left you waiting.” He looked over at Anthony. “You dolt, why didn’t you tell me that Lily got here? You said that it was just you, and you didn’t mind waiting.”
A grin flashed across Anthony’s face. “I was, when I texted you. Didn’t seem important to correct it later.”
Edwin rolled his eyes and muttered to Lily in a stage whisper, “I didn’t mean to leave you alone with this dolt.”
“It’s fine,” she said cheerfully. “I’ve got a lot of practice dealing with dolts.”
Both boys let out snorts of laughter, and Lily settled in to enjoy the evening.
A/N: Yay, new chapter!
As a sidenote, just to make something clear: this is definitely not going to turn out to be a Lily/Scorpius (sorry to those of you who were hoping for it!) - it's going to be Lily/OC. Which OC? I'm not telling. Have a guess, if you like. :P
If you'd like to read more about this Scorpius, check out my story "Curiosity Is Not a Sin" - it's about how he and Rose started going out in the first place. :)
Thank you so much for reading. I hope you're continuing to enjoy this story, and as always, I would love to hear your thoughts on it. :)