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Chapter 4 : Little White Lies
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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 cheerful 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. Hair was already escaping from the loose bun she’d only pulled her hair into fifteen minutes earlier; for an athlete, Annie was surprisingly bad at keeping her long hair out of her face. She saw where Lily’s gaze fell and made a face. “My hair’s a mess, isn’t it?”
“A bit,” Lily admitted. “I could braid it, if you like. My cousin Rose is really bad at braiding her hair, too, and she’s a -” She caught herself before she said ‘Chaser.’ “She plays sports. You know.”
“Sure - thanks. After you’re done with Blondie.” The reminder that Scorpius was just outside made Lily spin back around. “You sure he’s not your boyfriend?”
“Very.” Lily burst through the door and scanned the shop. Scorpius was standing against the wall, scuffing a foot across the floor. She’d never seen him look so awkward and uncomfortable, but then, he’d never really 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 hurt.”
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?”
“Can you? I thought you were working.”
Lily caught Annie’s eye. Her friend jerked her head toward one of the couches and smiled. Lily turned back to Scorpius, uncomfortably aware of the broad grin spreading across her face of its own accord. Annie’s smiles were infectious, and sometimes it left Lily feeling very foolish for looking overly eager or enthusiastic. “I can.” She grabbed his hand and pulled him over to the couch. Before he could sit down, she hugged him again, though this time she took care not to put pressure on his ribs. “I’m so happy to see you!”
Once they’d sat down, he glanced over at Annie. “Friend of yours?”
“Mm.” He glanced back at Lily, and she shifted uncomfortably. “What?”
He shook his head. “Nothing.”
There was some subtext that Lily wasn’t really understanding, but she decided not to press him. If he wasn’t saying it, he didn’t want to, and nobody but Rose and maybe Albus had ever been able to convince Scorpius Malfoy to do something he didn’t want to do.
So she changed the subject instead. “Why were you treating someone in Felix Felicis withdrawal, anyway? I thought you worked with creature injuries.”
“I do, usually, but they wanted me to see how to deal with it - I think because I’m good at potions, so they might set me to brewing the stuff in the future. And I’m a junior Healer, so you know how it goes. They say jump, and I ask how high.”
She giggled. As she studied his face, she noticed a shadow of a beard creeping along his jaw, which was quite uncharacteristic of him - he’d always been an absolute maniac about shaving. “Are you growing a beard?”
His cheeks reddened slightly. “No, I just - ah - haven’t had time to shave. Been busy.” She opened her mouth, and he quickly added, “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 - she’d wanted some contact with the wizarding world that didn’t come from her parents, who she was just as happy to avoid - 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?” These days, that was a valid question; Scorpius and James were getting on much better than they ever had before.
“Both, I guess. More Al. He spent a week barely speaking to me, and now he’s moved on to inviting me out for drinks and then being passive aggressively unhappy with me. It’s really awkward.”
“So just don’t go.”
“Better to let him get his temper tantrum over with. Noah came with us, so it wasn’t that bad.”
“I still don’t understand why you even told him.”
Scorpius let out a loud snort and slumped back into the cushion; he was finally starting to relax. “Remember what happened when I lied to him about going out with Rose? He refused to speak to me for days. Not telling him I know is way too likely to backfire.”
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 had backfired spectacularly.
“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 Roxanne or deal with her being annoyed that her Potions marks were never as good as mine than have her break up with me.”
“Oh.” This was a difficulty Lily had not foreseen. “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?”
He leaned back in the chair and shook his head. A small smile had appeared on his face. “Surprisingly well, all things considered. She stayed over and then exiled me to the couch for a night to make a point, but otherwise, she hasn’t really bothered me.”
That surprised Lily. Her brother was much more even-tempered than Rose – she’d expected Rose to be the one to chew Scorpius out.
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. “When you’re not being kicked, I mean.”
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. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” he answered. “I hate fighting with Albus. You owe me.”
After he left, she ducked back under the counter to rejoin Annie, who was looking at her curiously. “So 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 been my brother’s best friend since they were eleven,” she added. That felt like a better descriptor. “And he’s been going out with my cousin since they were fifth-years. He’s sort of like family, I guess.”
“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 correctly. “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.
And also impossible.
“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 when,” she said cheerfully as she reached up to pull a jar of tea leaves off the shelf. “So, are you still willing to do my hair?”
Lily’s stomach gave a small lurch. “Yeah,” she said, forcing a smile onto her face. “Absolutely.”
“Cool.” Annie settled onto a stool and yanked what remained of her bun free. “Good luck.”
A/N: Yay, new chapter!
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. :)
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