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Absurd by Lara Finch

Format: Novel
Chapters: 7
Word Count: 21,392
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Contains Slash (Same-Sex Pairing), Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme, Contains Spoilers

Genres: Drama, Humor, Romance
Characters: Harry, Ginny, Teddy, Scorpius, Albus, James (II), Lily (II), Rose, Victoire
Pairings: Rose/Scorpius, Teddy/Victoire, Lily/OC, Other Pairing

First Published: 10/22/2008
Last Chapter: 04/27/2010
Last Updated: 04/27/2010

Summary:




The problem, Lily decided, was that no one had a proper appreciation for the absurd anymore. Her brother’s name, for example, was absurd. Her Uncle Ron’s rivalry with the nefarious Draco Malfoy was absurd. Harry Potter’s daughter being a squib was absurd. Lily, though, was thoroughly amused by all of the above.
Well, maybe not so much that last one.


Chapter 1: A Beginning
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A/N: iF THIS STORY SEEMS FAMILIAR, THAT'S BECAUSE THIS IS THE SECOND TIME I'VE HAD TO UPLOAD IT. AS IN, MY ACCOUNT DISAPPEARED IN THE GREAT HPFF CRASH OF OCTOBER 2008.

This is my first attempt at any sort of fanfiction, so hopefully it is not too unbearable. I do hope you will review, as critiques (honest ones, at least) are wanted, encouraged, and indeed the reason I decided to write this. I have a fair few chapters mapped out or written (though not typed), so the wait should not be too long. I will be juggling the writing of this story with school, an Extended Essay, and the rest of my hectic life; so although I will try my best to churn out chapters regularly, I can make no promises. Please remember to mentally insert the standard disclaimer
here.Well, Enjoy!








When people talked about Harry and Ginny Potter’s misfortune, they tended to do so in whispers. Some were sympathetic, wondering how the saviour of the wizarding world (and muggle one, too; although they were, as usual, oblivious) could be made to suffer any more than he already had. Others, who clung to slightly outdated ideals, were amused or even malicious, hinting at tainted bloodlines or rejoicing that not even Potter’s life was perfect. But all of them were secretly (or not so secretly) relieved that it hadn’t happened to them. 

Ginevra Potter was pretty much fed up with all of them. She had taken to avoiding places which drew large crowds of wizarding folk, like Diagon Alley and Hogsmede. Which was why she was attempting to make her way through an overly crowded muggle supermarket in Dorset with three young children, a cart with a wonky wheel, an over-sized hand bag, and a wand sticking rather conspicuously out of her back pocket (in easy reach—some habits die hard). In the midst of all of this, her eldest son had reduced her younger, usually unbearably sensible, son to tears. Now he was well on his way to a raging fit and more than just a few passer-bys had stopped passing to stand and glare at her, a few making disparaging tutting noises at her obvious lack of parenting skills. 

“Tell him I don’t like girls! Tell him!” her 12 year old chanted. 

James was smirking a few feet off (conveniently out of range, Ginny noted) and Lily had melted into the fringe of the crowd, trying to distance herself from her family’s antics with an expression of detached interest. 

“I don’t like them, Mum! I don’t, I don’t!” 

If this had been anyone else’s child, Ginny would have tittered quietly behind a raised hand, the whole situation was so ridiculous. 

“Al, Al” she tried, reaching a hand out to comfort (or restrain) her visibly shaking son. Al hiccupped quietly. 

“Al, I’m sure you don’t like girls. You know James is just taking the mickey out of you. He’s not being serious. No one here thinks you like girls. James knows girls are… icky.” Oh Lord, if Ron were here, he would be in hysterics. A snort made her turn around. 

“Not so, Mum. I like girls. It’s just Al who’s got the problem.” James was damn lucky he was surrounded by a crowd of muggles, and he knew it. Both she and Al could whip out a wicked Bat Bogey Hex and had dead good aim. 

Al, of course, responded to his brother’s taunt with a fresh surge of tears and a howl. Hormones, Ginny thought bitterly. 

“James, you will stuff it this instant! I will deal with you at home! Suffice it to say that you are beyond grounded.” Ginny’s voice was deadly. James paled and gulped miserably. Several people in the crowd stepped back involuntarily. 

James’ distraction meant that Ginny felt the magic only seconds before it happened. She turned, a frantic “NO!” dying on her lips as watched the kindly employee and the tray of free samples she had brought to try to mollify Al fly backwards some five feet, as if repelled by some invisible force. Luckily for her, there were quite a few onlookers by this point, so her fall was cushioned. Unluckily for the onlookers, they also caught the contents of the tray. For what seemed like ages nobody moved; Ginny, Al, and James frozen in identical positions of horror. 

Then, Lily, quick thinking as always, darted across the pastry strewn floor, making to help the still-stunned clerk. As she purposefully crossed the exact spot where Al had accidentally blown the clerk off her feet, Lily let out a small yelp and slipped theatrically, landing in a small heap at the clerk’s feet. 

“Sorry,” Lily said, her face flaming from embarrassment, “it’s really slippery there.” 

The sighs of relief washed through the crowd like a wave. Lily, grinning sheepishly, offered a hand up to the bemused clerk and giggled. Like magic, the giggles spread, starting with the now cherry and boysenberry-flavoured bystanders all the way around to where Ginny was standing. Relieved laughter. Even Ginny had to smile tiredly.

And then the manager (conspicuously absent before) swooped in with a rag-tag team of employees with brooms, mops, and wary expressions. By the time the dust had settled and the manager had encouraged those covered in pastry to pick one out for free as well as began handing out the promotional ice-pops a day early, Ginny was receiving friendlier and more sympathetic glances (as well as quite a few pieces of advice from those closest to her on how to raise children). Lily, quietly sucking on an orange ice-pop, was rewarded with a few affectionate pats on the head and even an unexpected chocolate bar. 

The woman who had handed Lily the candy bar was waiting for them by the doors. Her hair was blue, and her face wrinkled, but when she winked at Ginny she looked twenty years younger. The strange woman shook her head and said laughingly (and rather knowingly) “Magical.” By the time Ginny had gotten her head together and the children out of the store, the woman had disappeared, as if into thin air. Suddenly, Ginny didn’t find the whole afternoon quite as miserable as she had before. For the first time that afternoon, Ginny laughed. 

By the time Ginny pulled their muggle car into the drive of Lyons, the Potter house (mansion, really), she had recovered from her brief bout of hysteria and her headache had returned. Thoughts of the irate Ministry letter which would undoubtedly await them in the kitchen led to thoughts of the one piece of mail she had awaited all summer, which had not arrived. Thoughts Ginny had tried so hard to avoid that she had taken to going to muggle supermarkets in the first place. As long as Hermione had not heard anything, Ginny could try to believe any one of the various excuses she had clung more and more desperately to as the summer days slipped by. 

With a grunt she pulled herself out of her reverie and began filling her arms with groceries. Her children, perhaps for the first time ever, all helped without complaint, and the silent train trudged down the hall to the kitchen. 

“Oh! Here, I’ll help!” A bright and cheerful voice called. 

Hermione’s too bright and too cheerful voice. 

Ginny sank into a chair. “James, Al, leave your bags here and go upstairs. Take Lily with you.” 

It just went to show how worried the two were about their respective fates that James didn’t protest and Al failed to raise one of his naturally inquisitive eyebrows at her request. As soon as they were safely out of range, Ginny turned to Hermione and said in a flat voice, “Hugh’s gotten his letter.” 

Hermione chewed her lip and nodded, looking as though she felt absurdly guilty about the whole situation. “I’m so sorry, Ginny—“ she started. 

“No. Don’t. Congratulations.” Ginny’s voice still sounded oddly tinny to her. “I shouldn’t have reacted that way. I mean…” Ginny trailed off and ran her hands through her long red hair before sighing. 

Hermione grabbed her friend’s hand and squeezed it comfortingly, if a bit awkwardly. She really wasn’t any better at this than Ron, she thought as she tried desperately to come up with something to say. A long silence stretched uncomfortably across the kitchen in which either woman (had each not been too caught up in their own thoughts) might have heard a slight creak from the pantry. 

Lily, however, being the cause of the noise, heard it acutely and froze, holding her breath. The marvelous thing about this old house the Potters had bought when Lily was quite young was that although it was far removed from any large wizarding settlement, it was magical to the core. In this case that meant a number of secret passageways and hidden rooms, as well as oversized fireplaces for a more comfortable flooing experience. Of course, James had discovered a few of these passages (including the ever important one from a spare room to the pantry, in which Lily now stood) almost immediately, and Al had found an old alchemy laboratory off the library quite by accident. But no one knew the house quite like Lily, who was more tenacious (or at least, less easily distracted) than James and more interested than Al (who would often wander off to go read in the middle of an expedition). Lily had learnt long ago that adults rarely told kids anything of use, so the best way to find things out was to listen to what they told eachother when they thought there were no little ears around. The secret passages and alcoves in the house had served her well in that regard. Lily was not above listening at keyholes, but she found it undignified and was glad that in this house it was essentially unnecessary. So, as soon as Al and James had sulked off to their rooms, Lily slipped out of hers and through the passageway into the pantry in the hopes of overhearing something important. Now, however, as seconds became minutes, she began to despair that she’d missed everything already. 

“It’s not fair!” Ginny cried, breaking the silence and making Hermione (and Lily) jump. 

“I, I know, Ginny, it’s not.” 

“It’s not fucking fair.” Her voice was thick with tears as she pounded her fist on the table. Lily felt a chill run down her back. 

“Ginny—“ 

“No, Hermione. It’s not fair that Harry can save the world and then have this happen. It’s not fair that after how hard we fought and how much we lost, that when we think everything is ok, everything is going to be fine now, we’re finally going to get a chance to be happy, something else fucking happens!” 

“Ginny!” 

“Why, Hermione? What did I do, what did we do wrong? Is it because I fought? Or my family? Or because I did something wrong when I was pregnant?” Ginny’s voice got quieter. “Is it my fault, Hermione? Could we have done something different?”
The anguish in her voice made Lily cringe. For the first time she wondered if she really wanted to be hearing this. 

Hermione sounded just as pained. “Ginny, nobody knows exactly why or how… It’s really rare, and most families keep it quiet, so there haven’t been all that many opportunities to study…” 

“Hermione, I’ve read the fucking literature, too! NOBODY KNOWS! Nobody BLOODY knows! Well, I want to know! I want to know why my daughter is a Squib!” 

There were two identical intakes of breath, one from the pantry. Once again, neither woman noticed. Lily was almost positive she didn’t want to hear this, only her legs seemed to have forgotten how to move. They curled in a useless heap under her as she sank to the floor. 

“Oh, come off it, Hermione! It’s not like we haven’t heard it said before. Sure, we all did our best to ignore it, but now… We’ve been hearing people whisper it for nearly three years now. Lily can’t do magic.” 

Hermione, who could do magic, cringed. Lily, who couldn’t do magic, felt herself begin to cry. No, she didn’t want to hear this. 

“Ginny… Ginny, maybe she’s just an, erm, late bloomer. She’s not eleven yet.” 

“You don’t know how much I wish I really believed that, ‘Mione. But I’ve been telling myself that for three years now…” Ginny said sadly, shaking her head. 

So have I,
Lily thought sadly, closing her eyes. 

“But, ‘Mione, Hogwarts is never wrong. Kids don’t just fall through the cracks. Harry Potter’s kids don’t fall through the cracks. If Lily was a witch, Hogwarts would know, and we would have gotten a letter.” 

Hermione was shaking her head now. “Ginny, Hogwarts can only know as much as we know. They don’t have some, for lack of a better term, crystal ball that tells them if a child can do magic. They have to wait until they first exhibit it. Lily’s magic could just be latent, or blocked. I’ve read about how that can happen in certain atmospheres ---“ 

“Enough. Enough, ‘Mione. We’ve waited. NOTHING has happened. Lily is eleven in three weeks. We’re out of time. James and Al have gotten their letters, Hugo got his letter, everyone going to Hogwarts this year have gotten their letters. Lily is not getting a letter…” Ginny’s voice broke, the tears finally coming through. “And I don’t know how to handle that…” she sobbed to her friend.







Lily’s legs were working again. She wished she hadn’t heard any of that. She wished her mother and aunt were wrong. She wished she didn’t know they were right. She wished she could do magic. She wished, she wished, she wished. And she ran.
Through the passage, through the spare room, through the hall, past a confused James, past offended portraits, up one flight of stairs, around a corner, up another, into a closet, one more set of spiraling stairs, through a trapdoor, an attic, and out onto an ancient balcony on the tallest ancient turret in the ancient house. It was a good thing Lily’s legs had given out again, because she was surrounded by nothing but sky--- and a very, very long and unpleasant way down was the ground. Lily perched on the low wall, nestled against the curve of the turret and slightly sheltered from the damp day by a slight over hang which only dripped every so often on her battered trainers. 

Lily’s thoughts whirled even as her breathing began to slow. Squib, squib, squib. The word pounded in her head like the blood in her ears, a steady heartbeat. No magic. It was true, Lily had never done magic. She had not broken several vases and a lightbulb in a temper-tantrum, like James. She had not turned James purple, like Al. She had not produced lovely golden bubbles with her mother’s wand, like Rose, or even accidentally made herself hover in anger, like Hugo. In fact, Lily had never done anything out of the ordinary, except be ordinary in a family of extremely talented witches and wizards. 

She hadn’t thought much of it when she was younger. After all, James, Al, and Rose were all older than her. And Dom and Louis were part Veela, so they didn’t count. And Molly and Lucy were perfect at everything, so of course they were doing complex spells by the age of five. But as the years passed, there were fewer and fewer cousins left to show signs of magic, and Lily was running out of excuses. Then Lily was eight—but, no worries, Great-Uncle Bilius had a late start, too. Lily was nine when Louis stole the show at four. But hadn’t Neville been almost nine himself when his great-uncle accidentally dropped him out of a window? Lily was ten, her mother’s eyes got tight, and it seemed like everyone was holding their breath. No one had any honest words of encouragement this time around. 

Now she was almost eleven and still no sign of magic. Lily didn’t know what was worse, counting down the days desperately hoping that something would happen or the sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach that made her feel as if she had swallowed lead and the insidious voice inside her head which told her she already knew the answer. She wouldn’t be able to do magic, ever. Something was wrong with her, or broken, and so she didn’t work. She would never get to be a part of her family’s world, never get a wand, never get to go to Hogwarts. 

She had wanted to go to Hogwarts since she could remember. She and Hugo had all sorts of plans. All sorts of plans. Her father was supposed to give her the Map, because Al hadn’t wanted it. She was supposed to have dorm mates who became her best friends, and boyfriends who would enchant the stars to sing for her and Uncle Neville for Herbology. She was supposed to become a famous auror, or quidditch player, or healer, or dragon tamer, or… 

“It’s not fair” Lily whispered to the wind, echoing her mother. 

“IT’S NOT FAIR!” Lily screamed to the world. 

“It’s not, it’s not, it’s not…” she told herself over and over when nobody heard her. 

Eventually, Lily ran out of tears. Her anger or sadness, or whatever it was, had faded to a dull throbbing at the back of her throat. As she stood, carefully, looking over the grounds, a thought came to her. Her Aunt Hermione had said something about latent magic. Sometimes people didn’t show magic until some situation forced them to, anger or fear, usually. Anger didn’t work. Lily had a short fuse and she’d been as mad as Al was at the store that afternoon before. Nothing had happened. But Lily had never been honestly scared. It was a long way down. Uncle Neville had been dropped out a window and bounced. Falling out of trees and through that one staircase had given her bruises and a few cuts, but not even a broken bone… there must not really have been enough risk involved. It was a long way down: lots of risk. She was scared just thinking about it. It was a really long way down. 

Well, if there was ever a time for her magic to show itself, this would be it. If it didn’t show… No, Lily, think positive. It will. Nothing will go wrong. You’ll bounce. Hopefully. 

As Lily stepped off the wall, she heard the doors behind her open. She had a fleeting glance of her father’s ashen face before – 

“LILY!”







A/N: Right, well, there it is. I hope you enjoyed it... so much so that you feel inclined to review right away. If all goes well, the second chapter should be up soon.

I APPRECIATE ALL REVIEWS I HAVE GOTTEN IN THE PAST, AND AM INCREDIBLY UPSET THAT THE FIRST SET WERE DELETED, AND I CAN'T RESPOND TO THOSE WHO SO KINDLY REVIEWED WHEN THEY NOTICED THE STORY HAD LOST ALL PREVIOUS COMMENTS... IF YOU FEEL UP TO REVIEWING AGAIN, GO AHEAD... IF NOT, I'LL SEE YOU IN ABOUT THREE CHAPTERS. :-)

Thanks,
Lara


Chapter 2: Perhaps
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A/N:  I know the story is moving a bit slowly, and some of you may be wondering where my plot wandered off to, but I promise that things will start picking up after the next chapter: there are just a few more characters I want to introduce you to before the ball is set rolling
Thank you so much to all who reviewed, and, please, continue to do so. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it.

Of course, none of this is really mine. I'm merely borrowing for a time...






      Nothing. Absolutely bloody nothing. She didn’t bounce, she didn’t fly. She didn’t even die, for which she was marginally glad, but more just upset because SHE DIDN’T DO MAGIC! How unbelievably disappointing. There were wards around the balcony. Lily stood on thin air and sighed. She didn’t even tilt forward. She pressed as hard as she could against the invisible barrier, but to no avail. Frustrated beyond belief, Lily began to kick at it, knowing that it was only a matter of time before her father snapped out of it and locked her away for the rest of her life. 

      “Let” kick “Me” kick “Through!” kick. 

      Lily realized with a jolt that she had felt something give, and then her midsection dropped out and she was falling… Backwards… The WRONG way…. 

      “Oof!” 

      “Ow!” 

      Lily landed on top of her father, his hands around her stomach. He had yanked her back, and, Merlin’s Pants, was he livid. 

      “Lily Luna Potter, what the BLOODY HELL were you doing?” Harry Potter spat, his glasses crooked his face quickly turning red from grey, his teeth and fists clenched 

      “I—“ 

      “I NEVER want to see you doing ANYTHING like that again, do you hear me?” 

      “I just—“ 

      “Merlin, Lily, you could have been KILLED, do you know that?” 

      “Dad, I wanted—“ 

      Harry’s face blanched and he turned vaguely grey again. “That wasn’t what you were trying to do, was it?” 

      “No, Dad—“ 

      “Thank Merlin. Fuck, Lily. How could you have been so stupid? WHAT WERE YOU DOING?” 

      “I just wanted to do magic,” Lily said, a little exasperated, a little petulant, and a little afraid her mum would come up to find out what the ruckus was. 

      “You WHAT?” Harry wheezed. 

      “I just wanted to do magic. Uncle Neville fell out of a window, so I thought…” Lily trailed off, turning red; the whole idea was starting to seem a little foolish now. 

      “Oh Merlin, Lily” Harry moaned, pulling his hands through his hair before hugging her tightly to him. “Promise me you will NEVER do something like this again. I almost lost you, Lily. For a second I thought I was imagining you floating there, that you were already—“ He trailed off and buried his face in her hair. Lily could feel him shaking, and she was surprised to find that she was, too. 

      “Sorry” She whispered softly. 

      “Damn it, Lily. That was stupid. We didn’t care. We knew it would show itself one day. We could have waited—you didn’t have to show us like this.” 

      Lily felt her stomach drop again. “Dad, it didn’t work. I didn’t do anything. Nothing happened. I didn’t do any magic.” The disappointment in her tone was clear. 

      Harry peeled away from her, eyes confused, hands on her shoulders to peer into her face. “Lil, you were hovering. I saw you. If that’s not magic, then I don’t know what is.” 

      Lily shook her head, unable to keep the tears out of her eyes. “It wasn’t me, Dad, it was the house.” 

      Harry had never heard his daughter sound more broken, not even when her Grandfather had died. “What do you mean?” 

      “A ward. There’s a ward there. I couldn’t go through it. It’s like the rest of the house, or at least, it felt like the rest.” 

      “What?” Harry’s mind was spinning. Whoever had built this house had died long ago; no wards they had put up should still have been active. And it felt like something?
      Lily turned her mournful eyes on her father and sighed. “Watch.” She picked up a pebble and threw it over the edge. 

      Harry waited for it to hit the roof below with a thud, but it didn’t. Curious, he looked over the wall and saw the pebble suspended mid-air, much the way his daughter had been. He shuddered. Beneath the pebble, the ground was a long, long way down. 

      “Let’s face it,” Lily said, directing Harry’s attention away from what could have happened. She was trying her hardest to be brave. “I’m a Squib.”






     James was currently hiding from his mother in a third floor bathroom. He’d heard his mum and Aunt Hermione in the kitchen, and while they could talk for ages, it was only a matter of time before Ginny remembered she needed to murder her son. He decided now was not the time to trust his rather iffy luck and dubious charms and hedged his bets instead. Which explained why he was crouched on the dusty loo, desperately wishing (for quite possibly the first time in his life) that he had brought something to read while he waited for some sign that it was safe to come out again. The life of a fugitive (James was prone to exaggeration) was not nearly as exciting as he had expected. In the meantime, he took to counting dust motes. 

      He was up to 345 when the first thump made him lose count. He momentarily panicked, thinking that his mother had already found him, until he realized that it had come from inside the wall, not the door. When the thumps became regular, like footsteps, he concluded that Lily must be exploring again. But the pounding soon became so loud that it rattled the speckled mirror on the wall, making James’ frightened reflection jump. James tried his best not to think of the various legends he’d heard (or made up to scare various siblings and cousins) about this house and instinctively reached for something he could use as a weapon. His wand lay forgotten on the floor. 

      The mirror gave a gigantic shudder and a baleful groan, plaster cracking and showering down on James, who still held the whatever it was he had grabbed over his head. He waited, holding his breath, and heard a polite cough. Out of the hole climbed Lily, who hopped nimbly off of the vanity counter and gave her brother a funny look when she spotted him in the tub (when, how had he gotten there?) with an incredibly moldy toilet brush over his head, ready for action. 

      James spluttered in protest but tensed again, realizing that something incredibly dirty was climbing not-so-nimbly out of the dusty hole. James was ready this time. He motioned Lily back and she obliged looking highly amused. This was it. 

      “Yaaaaaaaaargh!” James charged on the thing… which turned around to say: 

      “James?” followed by “ACH!” as it (he) was hit in the head by a foul-smelling toilet brush. 

      James realized far too late that “it” was his father. Harry realized far to late that the thing in his mouth was a toilet brush. And Lily realized far too late that she shouldn’t have giggled (read: cackled) quite so loudly. Unfortunately for all three of them, “far too late” meant there was nothing to be done about the unpleasant situation they were now in. 

      Harry spat out the brush and pulled out his wand. James, picking up on his cue, stepped adeptly behind Lily with the grace and ease of one much accustomed to using various siblings (or cousins) as shields. Surprisingly, Harry pointed the wand at himself. 

      “Aguamen—“ Harry paused, looking at the distinctly grey and furry brush, and seemed to change his mind mid-spell. “Scourgify” His mouth filled with soapy bubbles. Once he had spat out the bubbles and rinsed his mouth, he turned to glower at his eldest son. James attempted to hide behind his diminuative sister. 

      “Sorry?” He offered weakly. 

      Harry sighed and rubbed his face with his hands, “Let’s not tell your mum about any of this, right Lily?” 

      Lily nodded, understanding what her father meant. He wasn’t talking about his attempted murder by toilet brush. James, however, wasn’t even listening. He had recovered enough to get back his second wind. 

      “What were you lot thinking? This is a bathroom, for Merlin’s sake. I could have been on the loo, or in the shower…” 

      Lily cringed at that thought. “Or hiding from Mum” she added thoughtfully. 

      Harry looked up in time to see James making frantic (and slightly spastic) ‘No’ motions at Lily, who smiled innocently. “What’d I miss? James?” 

      “Why does everyone always assume it’s me? Al’s in trouble this time.” His attempt at outrage was undermined by his sister’s rather dry assessment. 

      “Because, James, whether or not you actually do something personally, it is always your fault.” 

      And James couldn’t argue with that.






      “Mum, I don’t want a birthday party, or dinner, or anything!” Lily argued as her mother bustled about sorting laundry. “There’s no point.” 

      Ginny spun, a pair of James’ faded grey pants swinging wildly in her hand. 

      “Your grandmother is expecting us at her house on Sunday for your birthday dinner, as usual. You will attend, and you will look as though you are enjoying yourself and appreciate all the work that has gone into making your big day special.” Her eyes had narrowed to slits as she glared at her defiant daughter. 

      Lily held her ground, mirroring her mother, small hands on straight hips and eyes flashing dangerously. “Look, Mum, the only reason an eleventh birthday is important is because it’s the year you get to go to Hogwarts…” She paused, unsure of how her mother would react to the second half of her argument. “And I’m not going to Hogwarts, so there is no reason to make a big deal out of it.” 

      Ginny slammed James’ poor pants against the counter. “Don’t say that!” 

      “Why not Mum? It’s true! I’m NOT GOING to Hogwarts—“ 

      “Lily, DON’T say that.” 

      “—and to be perfectly honest, I’d rather not have all of our friends and family gathered for the joyous occasion, wondering whether I’d gotten my letter yet, whether I would… I just don’t want to spend my birthday listening to people whisper about me being a –“ 

      “YOU ARE GOING!” Ginny screamed and stomped out of the room, pulling the door shut with such force that a stack of neatly folded laundry toppled to the floor. 

      But Lily wasn’t sure whether her mother meant the unwanted party or the long-desired Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.






      Lily found herself avoiding her mum the rest of the week. She had taken to staying out of doors; climbing trees, crouching in the bouganvillas to try and catch some of the hushed conferences her mum and Aunt Hermione were having (something that made her father chortle uncontrollably when he found her in that incriminating and uncomfortable position one evening), and attempting to elude Albus. James had finally been released from punishment, so he was easy to avoid as long as she veered far around the sheltered paddock where he was frantically practicing with his broom. Al, however, was doggedly following her around. She supposed it was on her father’s orders. 

      After nearly two days and an annoying half-morning spent trying to lose Albus, her temper got the better of her. 

      “What do you want, Al?” Lily demanded, striking a pose eerily similar to one of their mother’s. 

      Al shrugged. “I wanted to know what you are going to do if you’re a Squib.” 

      Lily gaped for a second. Gone was any resemblance to the boy who had broken down in the supermarket. Al was back to being blunt, straight forward, and sensible. 

      “I don’t know” she admitted. 

      Al frowned. “You should.” 

      “Why, Al? Because it’s so obvious that I have no magical abilities?” Lily snapped, annoyed by how matter-of-fact his tone was. 

      “In a word: yes, Lily.” Al didn’t bother trying to soften the blow. He was a Slytherin, after all. “Look you’re eleven in four days. You’ve never done any magic, not even accidentally, and at this rate, you might never do any. I’m not trying to insult you, Lil, but you need to face the facts. In all probability, you might be a Squib. Now, you can either sulk and try to disappear, or you can try to find a way to turn it around in your favor.” Yes, Al was definitely a Slytherin. “No, you can’t do magic, but, yes, you can still learn about it. Learn about other, more important things. You aren’t useless Lily. Don’t think that.” Al preempted Lily’s protest. 

      “You’re brilliant, which is good, and you’re curious, which is even better. And, although I hate to admit it, house pride and all that you know, you’re brave, too. Which will get you through this.” Al’s voice grew deadly serious. “Look, if I couldn’t do magic, I know what I would do. I’d turn tail and run. That Slytherin thing. But you’re different, Lil. If anyone could handle being a Squib and take advantage of it, it’d be you.” 

      Lily was at a loss for words. Praise from Albus was rare. Al admitting to a fault was even rarer. But what truly astonished Lily was that Al was giving her his word that he would support her. Where her mum was in a state of desperate disbelief and her dad was grimly accepting, Al was firmly on her side. For the first time, Lily thought that maybe she wasn’t alone in this. 

      “Al, it’s not fair” she murmured quietly, repeating the mantra she cried herself to sleep with each night. 

      Al surprised her again by pulling her into a hug. “No, Lily, it’s not fair. But I don’t think us Potters are allowed to have it too easy. Something has to happen every so often to shake things up, make sure we don’t get too comfortable. You just drew the short straw this time, Lil. It’ll be me next, I guarantee it.” Al stroked his little sister’s hair as he spoke, wishing that he could make her feel better. 

      “You know, for a Slytherin, you are awfully open with your emotions.” Lily smirked when she felt Al stiffly pull away. 

      “Yeah, well, we can all make exceptions. Besides, I asked to be in Slytherin. Dad was right, the hat really does listen.” 

      Lily was, once again, surprised and a bit mystified, but she decided against pushing her luck. Al would tell her when he was ready. Instead, she decided to surprise him for a change. “Now, what should I do if Hogwarts is out?” It was getting much easier to think this way. 

      Al blinked, but recovered quickly. “Well, I’ve been talking to a friend of mine that’s a muggle-born…”

Chapter 3: Let Go.
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A/N: Well guys, this is a pretty fast turn around for me. I hope you like it. And review.... Also, I was wondering if anyone less technologically-challenged than I would be able to make me a banner. I would be forever grateful, if that were the case...
                Enjoy and please remember that none of this is really mine.












                        Chapter 3: Let Go






Lily wasn’t sure she could keep smiling much longer, unless she wanted her face to break in half. When Grandma Molly had nearly suffocated her in a hug the moment she stepped out of the fireplace, Lily had smiled. When the room stuffed full of redheads (with the occasional blonde or brunette mixed in) cheered “Happy Birthday, Lily!,” she had smiled. When little Roxanne had tugged on her skirt and asked her whether she’d done magic yet, Lily had smiled. When her god-brother, Teddy, had patted her awkwardly on top of her head before avoiding her for the rest of the night, Lily had smiled. When she pretended to not notice the whispers and pitying stares, Lily had smiled. Lily was tired of smiling.

 






She wandered over to the corner of the room, knowing that until it was time for her to open presents, she would be easily overlooked in this crowd. With a sigh of relief, she let her smile drop off her face and her shoulders slump. No one was paying attention, they wouldn’t be any wiser.

 






“Hard, isn’t it?”

 






Lily, whirled around, feeling guilty, caught in the act. Her cousin, Victoire, sat slouched lazily in the plush armchair that used to belong to their grandfather, pulling on a fag and half-heartedly Vanishing the smoke, expertly avoiding the occasional glares of disapproval aimed in her direction. Uncle Percy, in particular, seemed to take offence to her cigarettes and pompously excused himself from the house to get “unpolluted air.” Victoire simply took a deeper pull and exhaled smoke from her nostrils obnoxiously.

 






Victoire smiled  at Lily, a small, knowing smile. “It’s hard to live up to them, isn’t it?” When Lily didn’t answer, Victoire continued, completely undisturbed that she was holding a one-sided conversation. “Don’t let them get to you, Lily. That would mean they’ve won.”

 






“Won what?” Lily was unaware that there had been any sort of competition going on.

 






“The battle to make you perfect.” Victoire finished her cigarette and another one appeared in her hand. “Look, our family is great, for the most part. Just a bit much, most of the time. After the war they felt like they had done their part, they should, if not be rewarded, then allowed to live the lives they thought they deserved. Lives which don’t include things like philandering daughters with unhealthy habits or Squibs.” Victoire flashed a brief, sympathetic look at her little cousin. “They take it as a personal affront to them, to all they did. To all they lost. And since they can’t figure out who to blame or how they could have deserved this, they start to blame you.” She shrugged and surveyed the room. “I got lucky, I’m the oldest. They decided it must be because I couldn’t handle the pressure of being a Weasley… which it may well have been, but that’s not the point. You have it a bit worse, because they view not having magic as a disability. And it’s been so long since they’ve had to deal with my disappointment, that they weren’t expecting it. That’s just bad luck.”

 






“Mum won’t believe it.” Lily wasn’t sure why she was telling the resident black sheep of the family what had been worrying her the most. “She won’t accept it. Does that mean she won’t accept me?”

 






Victoire looked her squarely in the eyes, assessing her. She sighed and shook her short, messy blonde hair out of her face, taking another pull on the fag. “I can’t tell you what will happen, Lily, but she may not. She might not be able to. And that’s going to be hard, but it’s something you have to accept.” Victoire broke eye contact, directing her piercing stare at the blue-haired head of her recent ex. “At some point you need to give up trying to please them, and worry more about pleasing yourself.”

 






Lily followed her cousin’s gaze and watched Teddy Lupin laugh it up with her father and Uncle Bill across the room. Things were just so easy for some people. She turned back to see Victoire watching her again, her eyes annoyingly knowing.

 






“I may be completely up myself, Lily, but I’m not as blind or selfish as they make me out to be. They just don’t understand me, like they aren’t going to understand you. I’m not even going to pretend that I will understand completely, or that I know exactly what you are going through. But I do know what it’s like to want to please them so badly it hurts. And what it’s like to wonder what’s wrong with you when you can’t. And what it’s like to fool yourself into thinking you don’t care anymore, don’t need them anymore. I’m not going to lie to you, Lily, it’s not easy.”

 






Lily remained silent, observing her eldest cousin for a while. Victoire didn’t seem to mind. She seemed unaffected by scrutiny anymore. She was slumped in the chair, as though she had just plopped down, but Lily noticed that her body was tense, openly defiant, inviting a challenge, even. Victoire’s hair was cut just below chin length and was messy and ragged, as though she had done it herself. But there was something dignified in the way she held her head, as if she didn’t care what it looked like. Lily realized that she didn’t, not at all. Her jeans were faded and torn in places, but comfortable. The tank top she had put on wasn’t new, but it wasn’t particularly grungy, either. She had taken the time to put on some make-up --even a bit of glitter, unexpectedly childish and playful amidst her harsh façade --  although she didn’t need it. Her hands, long and graceful, were stained by more than tobacco. Ink trailed down the side of her hand, where she had let it rest against the paper, and paint was still visible beneath her fingernails. They twirled the cigarette nervously as she waited in the silence. Her eyes, much darker than those of her mother, were just as tense as the rest of her, faint lines appearing in the corners from either worrying  or smiling too much, and Lily wasn’t sure she would ever know which. It was obvious that Victoire wasn’t about to let anyone in, and Lily had to make herself remember that her cousin was only 19, only two years out of Hogwarts, infinitely younger than the rest of the adults there. In all of this, Lily saw something familiar; something about the incongruity of Victoire’s obvious confidence and the defensiveness with which she held herself. Lily suddenly realized she was looking at herself in ten years.

 






Once again, Victoire proved omniscient. “Don’t let them get to you, Lil. You don’t want to end up like me.”

 






Lily, disconcerted, nodded and left Victoire to her silent and sullen contemplation of life. She wandered outside, the cool night air felt refreshing after the stuffy room. She settled herself amongst the cushions on the porch swing, and had almost succeeded in rocking herself to sleep when voices from the backyard made her sit upright.

 






“What the HELL do you think you are doing, Teddy?”

 






“Nothing, Vic. I don’t get why you’re so upset.” Lily could almost see her god-brother shrugging his shoulders in feigned innocence. If it worked on her mother, it should work on her cousin.

 






“You know EXACTLY why, Teddy.” Victoire’s voice was cold.

 






Or maybe it wouldn’t.

 






“Look, it was just some harmless flirting, ok? It’s not my fault she took me seriously.”

 






“Listen to me, Teddy Lupin; I may have taken the blame for the break up, but that does not mean I won’t go back on my word and tell them exactly why I dumped you.”

 






“Vic,” Teddy’s tone was placating, but Lily could hear the whine in it, the desperation.

 






’Vic’ nothing! You stay away from my sister, Teddy, I’m warning you.”

 






“Dom can make her own decisions, Victoire, she’s a big girl now.” Lily had never heard Teddy’s voice sound quite as cold as it did now.

 






“And you’re a lying, cheating piece of scum. Which she doesn’t know, because I foolishly decided to be the martyr and lie about it all. Teddy, I meant what I said about the family needing their perfect hero; but if you hurt my sister, I will make sure the entire family knows exactly what you are.”

 






“They wouldn’t believe you now, Vic” Teddy sounded almost regretful.

 






“Not everyone has written me off, thanks, Teddy.”

 






Lily heard the back door swing open and heels clatter onto the porch.

 






“What’s going on here?” Dom asked, quickly sizing up the situation; Victoire and Teddy uncomfortably close to one another, Victoire’s wand out.

 






“Nothing” the two chorused, maintaining their glares.

 






“Bollocks. Teddy, tell me what’s going on.” Lily heard the threat beneath her soft voice. Dom was far more like Victoire than she was likely to admit.

 






“Nothing, Dom, you’re sister was just upset about something. We were talking it out.” Teddy shifted uncomfortably under the scrutiny of both Delacour-Weasley girls.

 






“I was pissed that he was flirting with you.” So much for diplomacy. Teddy shot Victoire an exasperated glare. She only rolled her eyes and squared her shoulders, never lowering her wand.

 






“WHAT?!” Lily had to cringe at Dom’s pitch.

 






“I don’t like him flirting with you, Dom” Victoire answered levelly.

 






“I can take care of myself, thank you very much, which is more than I can say for you.”

 






“Touché.” Was it possible Victoire was enjoying this?

 






“You’re just JEALOUS!” Dom shrieked at a level that was sure to attract the attention of those inside the house. Sure enough, a whole crowd of people began filing out of the door to watch (or prevent, although most went to watch) the spectacle. Dom had to raise her voice even higher to be heard over the murmur of her family members. “YOU WERE THE ONE TO CHEAT ON HIM, VICTIORE, YOU WERE THE ONE TO SCREW THINGS UP FOR YOU TWO. JUST BECAUSE YOU MESSED UP DOESN’T MEAN TEDDY DOESN’T GET TO MOVE ON. MERLIN KNOWS I’M A BETTER CHOICE ANYWAY. AT LEAST I’M NOT A SLUT!”

 






“You know NOTHING about it, Dominique.” Victoire’s voice was deadly, and more effective at silencing the crowd than even Dom’s shrill shrieks.

 






“I KNOW THAT YOU HURT HIM. HOW COULD YOU DO SOMETHING LIKE THAT TO TEDDY?” Dom was practically foaming at the mouth.

 






Teddy attempted to intervene. “Dom,” he started, before Victoire silenced him with a glare.

 






“I didn’t think you were involved in this conversation, Lupin.”

 






“I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU CAN TREAT HIM LIKE THIS AFTER EVERYTHING YOU’VE DONE TO HIM, VICTOIRE!”

 






Lily figured it was a pretty safe bet that everyone had forgotten about her by this point. She slipped silently off of the porch swing, and moved softly around the house to the front door. Once inside, she ignored the glistening pile of presents and headed straight for the kitchen, pausing only briefly at a back window to survey the scene. Dom had tried to throw some sort of curse at her sister. Teddy yanked Victoire back and was rewarded with an icy glare. Dom continued to shriek as various relatives restrained her, finally deciding enough was enough. Lily assumed her father was one of them. Vic stood ready on her toes, like a cat, in case Dom proved stronger than she looked. As it became apparent that no stray curses would be heading her way, she relaxed back into her lazy, defiant pose. She glanced over the heads of the crowd surrounding her, and caught Lily’s eye in the window. Lily would have sworn she saw Victoire wink at her before turning to scowl at her irate mother.

 






She hurried into the kitchen and smiled ruefully when she saw Al waiting with the jar of floo powder. He was always one step ahead of her. “Thanks” she said, grabbing a handful of the sparkling powder.

 






“For what?” He asked, a mischievous smile that could rival James’ on his face. “I haven’t seen you all night.” With that he placed the jar back on the top shelf, and meandered outside to mingle with the crowd of offended or amused family members as if he’d been there all along.

 






Lily found herself smiling as she threw the powder into the fireplace and called “Dinsmore!” The last thing she heard before the flames swallowed her was very loud, rapid fire French, and Lily couldn’t help but think that she had gotten out of there just in time.

 






She stumbled out of the fireplace in her own kitchen and stopped in shock, ash still coating her from head to toe, when she saw who was sitting at the kitchen table cradling her head in her hands. “Mum?”

 






Ginevra Weasley Potter looked up in surprise, not thinking to hide the tears running freely down her face. “Lily? What are you doing here?”

 






Lily scuffed her shoes guiltily, aware of the soot she was trailing behind her. “Dom and Victiore got into a fight. I figured it would be best to leave.”

 






Ginny nodded understandingly. “Oh that Victiore.” She said with a shake of her head.

 






Lily’s hands tightened on the back of the chair she was pulling out from the table but she said nothing, settling on making an ambiguous noise of assent.

 






Ginny seemed to recollect herself, and hastily tried to scrub away her tears.

 






“It’s ok, Mum. I cried, too.” Lily placed a small, restraining hand on her mother’s wrist. Ginny stifled a small sob, and clutched at her empty mug. Lily turned away, busying herself with making more tea, as her grandmother did when someone was upset.

 






“I’m so sorry, Lily.” The words were so soft that Lily almost did not hear them over the slight clatter of pots that accompanied her search for the tea kettle.

 






She slowly turned back to her mother, tea kettle in hand, and straightened up. Victiore was right. She needed to be stronger than she was. “Good,” she said firmly, her chin set and knuckles white.

 






Ginny looked up at this, for a moment shocked.

 






“If I can get over it, then you should be able to, Mum. I’m still the same person I always was, and, sure I can’t do magic, but maybe it’s better that way. Maybe it’s better that I’m just me.”

 






Ginny nodded, suddenly seeing another, almost forgotten, red-headed little girl explaining to her mother why she didn’t need to return to school for her seventh year, why she should be allowed to play professional quidditch and forget the entire past year instead. “I’ll try, I promise I will.” It was what her mother had said to her.

 






Lily cautiously approached the table. “Mum, it’s not your fault. It’s not my fault. It just happened. It’s just how it is.”

 






Ginny sobbed again, this time not bothering to hide her tears. “I know, I know, Lily. I just wanted you to have everything and I can’t give this one thing to you.”

 






Lily squirmed, uncomfortable. She didn’t know how to handle her mum’s crying any more than she knew how to handle being a Squib. She silently wished Victiore were here.

 






As if in answer to her prayers, the flames roared green again, and out stepped Aunt Hermione, her entrance considerably neater, more graceful, and ash-free than Lily’s. Actually, Aunt Hermione would do just as well.

 






One eyebrow quirked, Hermione approached them. “Lily? Ginny?”

 






Lily gestured to the chair she had pulled out earlier, and returned to her task of making tea, rather than watch her mother cry anymore. “Aunt ‘Mione? I wanted to talk with you about something… about what I should do if… if I don’t go to Hogwarts.” She ignored Ginny’s increased sniffling, and waited for her aunt’s answer. The silence grew uncomfortable, but when she looked back, Hermione’s face was a mask.

 






“All right,” she said, after what seemed like eons, “what ideas have you got?”

 






Lily smiled. “Not a lot, but see, Albus has got this friend who’s a muggle-born…”








                Well, I do hope that this chapter was satisfactory. Like always, I am thrilled to recieve your reviews, even critical ones. So, if you'd like to oblige me, then please use the conveniently accessible box below.... Thanks for reading!

PS: Guess what comes next, boys and girls! That's right, an actual update! Exciting, no?

 

Chapter 4: Such Great Heights
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A/N: Banner? I would much appreciate it... Please?
This is the first new chapter, expect a jump in the timeline shortly. I hate the technique, but this story is not about Lily at eleven, but rather her and her family when she is older, so I don't want to waste too much time going over details I can strew through out the upcoming chapters. Hope no one is upset by this.
Disclaimer: As usual, this is not mine. That hasn't changed.










                                                    Chapter 4: Such Great Heights


Now, Lily Potter was not one to begrudge others what she wanted (although that may have been because it was very rare that she didn’t get what she wanted), but she thought Al would have been a little more understanding about her reluctance to see him off to King’s Cross this year. After all, he wasn’t James -- James who had been teasing her mercilessly the entire summer about Hogwarts. So Lily was a little more than put out when Al went and pleaded his case to their parents. Especially since they agreed with him (although her father did shoot her a rather sympathetic look during her mother’s lecture). That was why, this morning Lily moaned louder than usual at her early awakening. It was why she spent much longer than was necessary chewing her pancakes, trudging up the stairs, brushing her teeth and ridiculously long and red hair, and getting dressed in the first pair of jeans and t-shirt she could find in her messy room (she thought the idea of wearing robes was vaguely laughable and slightly pitiful in her situation). It was also why her rather incensed mother shouted up to her that getting ready in slow motion wasn’t going to make a bit of difference as she would apparate her there whether Lily was ready or not, and that she better get a move on if she didn’t want to arrive at King’s Cross starkers.

Lily sped up a little (though not much, and with much banging and cursing involved) and all too soon found herself waiting amidst a pile of trunks with her brothers as her parents argued briefly about the best way to get everyone and everything (including an ancient owl and a rather disgruntled cat) to the station without any mishaps.

“Look, Lil, could you at least pretend to be happy? For a minute?” Al whispered as they waited, prodding her in the ribcage with a long finger.

Lily just glared at him in response.

“Aw, come on Al, you know little Lilikins is just jealous of us. And why wouldn’t she be?” James was positively gleeful at this last chance to aggravate his little sister.

“Because you’re a smarmy git?” Lily fumed, feeling her hands clench up at her sides.

“Ah, now, Lily, that’s not a very nice thing to say to your brother is it?” Their father remarked mildly before turning to James and saying in a much firmer voice, “Though she may be right, James. Leave her alone.”

Seeing James put in his place always made Lily feel a little better, so she wasn’t quite as reluctant to go as she was before, and didn’t fight it when her mother grabbed her hand and one of the trunks and apparated them to the station. The sensation of being squeezed through a small tube had never been pleasant for Lily, and this was no exception. In fact, it was made rather worse by the trunk, which landed on top of her when they popped onto Platform 9 ¾. And as if that were not enough, Lily was promptly run over by a rather hostile and impatient witch trailing a large cart and a rather harried looking son, both of whom averted their eyes when they saw who it was they had run into and hurried past, without any apology. Lily faintly heard the woman mutter “Why they brought her along is a mystery to me. It’s not like she’s going to be coming to Hogwarts this year. Come along, Kyle, don’t dally!”

Lily felt tears prick up in her eyes, although they could have very well have been from the smarting blow to the head she’d received from the witch’s umbrella as they passed. She kept her eyes down and silently followed her mother’s back to the clump of noisy red heads near one end of the platform.

Getting the Weasley and Potter clan off to school was a production, as usual. There was the usual round of questioning; “Are you sure you have everything?” “Mum, where’s my wand?” ”Did you even do any of your homework, James?” ”Why did she get new robes for becoming a Prefect and all I got was a bottle of ink?” followed by the last minute instructions; “Rose, listen, don’t let that boy get you down---“ “James, if you get in trouble again, I swear to Merlin you won’t be able to sit down for---“ “--- and remember to do well on your exams, oh I know you will Rose, but ---“ “---don’t forget to write, I’m sure your sister will want to hear all about---“ and finally the tearful goodbyes; “Bye!” “Be Good!” “I can’t believe my little boy is all grown up!” “Mum, gerroff, you’re embarrassing me!!” “I love you sweetheart!” “I promise to write!” “See you at Christmas!” and then they were gone.

Lily had spent the entire ordeal wishing she was invisible and dodging sympathetic looks from various family members and clumsy assurances that she wasn’t missing much… oh, except for the feasts… oh, and the Hogsmede trips… ok, well, the classes were rather fun, except for History of Magic (only Rose likes that class)… oh, and, well, it was rather fun to be staying in the dormitories; but don’t worry, you don’t have to deal with Potions or Filch, or Filch’s cat, for that matter. She had tried to pretend that their reassurances were working, but Lily was pretty sure that she would give absolutely ANYTHING to get to deal with Potions and Filch and Filch’s cat. Rose wasn’t fooled, of course (nothing really fools her anyway), and Al kept giving her looks that told her he was regretting making her come, but everyone else was so excited about school that they hadn’t really been listening to her responses to begin with.

Victoire had been there, chain smoking and scowling at onlookers who gaped at Lily just a bit longer than was necessary. Her presence made things a bit easier, and Lily wished she could borrow a bit of Victoire’s strength to keep herself sane. Every so often, Victoire would pull a face or mimic Uncle Percy during his lecture on proper behavior and receive a glare from her mother, but it made Lily giggle.

Grandma Molly turned and started slightly, as though she was surprised to see Lily still standing there. Lily could practically feel the question forming in her grandmother’s mind and tensed, waiting for it to slip out. But Grandma Molly caught herself, shook her head, and mumbled, “Oh, that’s right,” shooting Lily’s mother, Ginny, a sympathetic look before wandering off. And Lily, who had kept her face blank and responses neutral throughout the entire ordeal, felt tears well up in her eyes for the second time that day.


But Lily Potter did not cry, and certainly not in public. Lily Potter did not make a scene. Lily Potter couldn’t break down in front of all these people, especially her family. And Lily Potter could not go to Hogwarts with Hugo this year, because Lily Potter could not do magic. Unable to stop the tears streaming down her face, Lily did the next best thing. She turned and ran through the barrier, through the crowds of people on the other platforms, through the station, and out onto the street. And she didn’t really care where she was going.


 

Well, at first she didn’t care where she was going. Now she was running out of breath and tired of running. And totally and completely lost. She had never been to London except for a few shopping trips, and certainly not ever on her own. She had no idea which way to go or what to do. Frustrated and a little scared, Lily sat down on a rusty swing, unsure of how she was going to get herself out of this mess.

A voice from the bushes nearly gave her a heart attack. “It usually is a good idea to have a plan before you run away.” A boy a little older than her stepped out of the foliage.

“I’m not…” But Lily trailed off, face flushing. Running away was exactly what she had done. Exactly what Al had said she wouldn’t do. Even Al could be wrong sometimes, she supposed. “Who are you?”

“I’m Will,” the boy was still smirking. “And you are?”

“Lily,” she said, sticking her chin out defiantly. “I’m not sure I’m pleased to meet you.”

The boy, Will, laughed at that. “Same here. You’re on my swing.”

Lily scowled. “I don’t see your name on it” she countered childishly.

The smirk returned. “It’s on the bottom. Put it there last summer.”

Lily didn’t budge. “Shouldn’t you be in school?”

“Shouldn’t you?”

Lily shrugged. “Not really.” She paused, hesitant to expose her ignorance to this rather rude little boy. “Do you think you could tell me how to get back to King’s Cross?”

He guffawed at this, and Lily patiently waited for him to finish, hands slowly tightening on the rusty chains. “Follow me. Try and keep up, will you?” And with that, Will took off.

Lily jumped from the swing and struggled to follow him, weaving in and out of disgruntled muggles and their cars. She nearly lost him twice, and almost gave up once, and then she saw the familiar dingy building. King’s Cross Station. She looked around to thank her guide, but he was already gone, disappeared into the throng of muggles on the street. She had a brief image of sneaking back onto Platform 9 ¾ and finding no one had noticed, but when she saw Victoire lounging back against a car, scanning the crowd, she knew that was not quite the case.

When she saw Lily, her face broke into a momentary smile of relief and Victoire was so dazzling that the man behind Lily literally tripped over himself in his shock. “Next time, warn me if you’re going to run off.” She remarked drily.

Lily ignored her. “Where’s everyone else?”

“They had less faith in your intelligence than I did. They spread out to scour the streets of muggle London. I figured you could take care of yourself and would eventually get directions back here.” She glanced around her. “I’d better let them know I’ve got you with me.” She surreptitiously sent out a patronus. Lily had a brief impression of some type of hawk before it disappeared.  She had a brief, unexpected twinge of envy that brought sharp tears to her eyes, but she fought it down valiantly. It wouldn’t do anything but make her feel miserable.

Victoire assessed her, obviously catching the play of emotions on Lily’s face. “What do you say to some tea and then some shopping? I know these great little muggle shops where you can get what you need for school…”

Lily smiled, “I don’t know why everyone thinks you’re so horrible, Victoire.”

Victoire grabbed Lily’s hand and wiggled her eyebrows. “Shh! Don’t tell.” And then she dragged Lily off in the direction of a tube station.

Lily hadn’t known until then how much she had been missing, living in her manor in Dorset. The tube was a new experience for her, and she and Victoire had a great time running from car to car and laughing their heads off when the man in a funny blue uniform asked them to kindly stop making fools of themselves. Victoire whisked her from shop to shop collecting mountains of bags at each stop, which she would shrink as soon as no one was looking and slide them into her ratty bag. Lily didn’t think she had ever laughed so much in her life, nor had as much fun. Victoire bought her all the make up an eleven year old could possibly want (and then some… Lily still didn’t trust that mascara thingy, although Victoire promised she would get the hang of it) and treated her to two ices and then a fancy coffee (which Lily only finished out of courtesy. She would stick to tea from now on, thank you very much!).

As the sun began to set and Lily felt as though she wouldn’t be able to take another step, the two stopped in front of a rather nondescript building.

“Victoire?” Lily asked her.

Victoire didn’t answer, she was busy rooting past innumerable tiny packages to find something in her bag.

“Victoire? Where are we?”

Victoire looked up, mildly surprised. “Why, my flat of course.” She withdrew a set of keys. “Here we are.”

Lily took another long look at the building. It seemed almost painfully normal. There was no indication whatsoever that her cousin could possibly live here. Even the flower boxes were boring. She dutifully followed Victoire through the plain door and up a set of blah stairs. And then another set of blah stairs. And another. And another. Lily was no longer able to keep track, the beige hallways had begun to run together.

“Sorry, Lil, it’s a bit of a hike, but the lift’s broken, and I’ve set up anti-Apparation wards round the flat. The neighbors would notice anyway, if I never seemed to leave my rooms.” Victoire grimaced apologetically, yet another expression Lily had never before seen her make. She was beginning to feel as though she had been cheated out of ever really knowing the real Victoire Gabrielle Delacour-Weasley. “On the bright side, the do let me have my fags… there’s a good few places that absolutely refuse, believe me.”

Lily, still out of breath, simply nodded dumbly and waited for her cousin to unlock another nondescript door and let her into a room in which there was, hopefully, a sofa she could collapse onto.

Victoire gave a groan of frustration. “I asked Matt to fix this lock last week!” She pulled her wand from her back pocket (she and Ginny had the same bad habit, it seemed) and quickly whispered “Alohamora.” With a satisfying click, the door swung open and Victoire leaned back on her heels. “After you.”

Lily took two steps in and stopped cold. There was no way anything could be more different from the rest of the building than Victoire’s flat was. She had covered the beige walls with murals. One wall had been turned into a flawless garden scene Lily was sure had come from their grandmother’s house, The Burrow. Had it not been broken by a cheery yellow hallway leading to the other rooms, she would have thought it was real Another seemed to extend the living room much farther than it actually went, paint mimicking the gleaming wooden floors, wallpaper, and floor to ceiling windows on the other wall. Her furniture seemed to be an eclectic mishmash of whatever had caught Victoire’s eyes. A worn, dark blue and overstuffed armchair dominated one side of the room. The sofa Lily had been hoping for was an elegant cream and blue striped piece, with a curved back and intricately carved feet. The fourth wall, the one the entrance-way opened out into the room from, Lily had assumed was painted because there was no way anyone (even her aunt Hermione) could possibly have this many books. A giant bookcase had been built (probably by magic; Victoire didn’t look strong enough to lift those oak boards) around the doorway, and a corner had been left on the side nearest the windows for a majestic and ridiculously oversized desk on which a thousand papers were strewn and Lily could just barely make out a muggle computer buried under the debris.

Lily briefly wondered whether Victoire enjoyed looking down on the world from her little perch up here in London, but found that either way, she thought the world looked a whole lot better from where they were. Maybe that was why Victoire didn’t mind the stairs. Everything thing looked better from here.

Victoire was looking at her with a mixture of amusement and pride. “You haven’t seen the rest of it. Sorry it’s a mess.” She gestured at the solid coffee table laden with books and old mugs.

“This is FANTASTIC!” Lily cried, meaning it sincerely.

Victoire grinned. “I’m glad you think so. It took a long time to put together. You’re the first family member I’ve had here. Well, except for Teddy.” Victoire’s face darkened momentarily. “C’mon, I bet you’re famished. I’ll make some dinner then take you back.” She seemed determined to be as cheerful as it was possible for Victoire to be.

Lily said little as Victoire gave her the abbreviated tour of her flat. She was too busy gawping at the friendly fairy faces Victoire had craftily painted along the hallway walls, and the forest that had sprung up in her bedroom, whose ceiling Lily had thought at first was enchanted like that of Hogwarts, the beautiful blue sky was so real. The kitchen was fairly normal compared to the rest, although Lily noticed when she went to find a pot that Victoire hadn’t been able to refrain from painting the inside of the cupboards with swirls and flowers.

Over a dinner of spaghetti and some milk, Lily questioned Victoire about her life outside the Weasley clan.

“Why hasn’t anyone else been here?”

“I don’t particularly want them to. It’s judgment-free here.”

Lily nodded to signal her understanding and swallowed another bite of pasta. “Why spend all of your time doing this?” She swept her arm around to indicate the flat.

Victoire smiled a little ruefully. “Once I get started on a project, I find it hard to stop.”

“What do you do, anyway? What’s your job? Nobody ever seems to mention it at home.”

Victoire scowled a bit at this and took her time answering. “No, they wouldn’t, would they? They all think I’m squandering my talents.” She played with her slightly burnt garlic bread. “I’m a journalist. For a muggle newspaper. And sometimes I get some money from a painting I’ve done. Nothing magical.”

Lily was a little surprised at this; from what she had been told, Victoire was a brilliant witch. “Why?”

“Because it’s easier when no one knows you; when no one has any expectations. When you’re not a Weasley.” Her face grew dark again, closed off, and Lily knew that the question-and-answer session was at an end. She quickly ate the last of her pasta and cleared her plate while Victoire moodily twirled her spaghetti on her fork.

“Victoire? Why do bother with me, if you can’t be bothered for anyone else?” The question had been nagging at Lily all day, almost as much as the one about what had really happened between her and Teddy.

Victoire pushed her hair out of her face and stood up, grabbing her coat. “I don’t know. You remind me of someone I knew, someone who got lost a long time ago, that’s all.”

Lily opened her mouth to ask who had gotten lost and how she’d done that, but Victoire cut her off.

“Ready to go, yeah? I’m not hooked up to the floo network, so we’re going to have to go outside and around the corner to apparate back to your house. Got all your packages? Let’s go.”

Lily took one last wistful look around the apartment before Victoire briskly ushered her out and shut the door. Victoire’s flat was a bit like Lily’s tower perch (not that her father was likely to allow her back up there anytime soon). It was an escape, high above everybody else, and freer than any other place she knew. Lily, not quite ready to go back to her overbearing (but well-meaning) family, wished she could stay here. Wished Victoire could stay here, where she was almost happy. She may have only been eleven years old, but Lily already knew that something so perfect couldn’t last. Victoire would have to enjoy it while she could.




A/N: Well, that was Chapter 4. Thanks for being so great about reviewing. In fact, you should do so now. No reason to ruin a great trend like this...
 

Chapter 5: What Secrets Can You Tell Me?
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A/N: I am SO SO SO sorry it took me this long to update. That really wasn't fair of me. Life was  crazy, school was crazy, my next door neighbor's cat died, yadda yadda yadda... Only the first two are true actually... Anyway, there's really no excuse I can give you other than life got in the way. What is really horrible is that this chapter was already written... I was just waging a mental war (resembling WWI, scarily enough. Complete with trences, Germans, and U-boats) over the direction of this story.  The good news is that I think I've figured it out. Meaning, the rest of the updates should happen as soon as they get written. Hope you weren't discouraged by the length of this note, and that you enjoy this chapter. Keep reviewing! 

Disclaimer: Let's think about this now... If I had written Harry Potter, would I be writing fanfiction about it right now? Right. Didn't think so. Authors don't write fanfiction for their own books (unless they are Stephanie Meyer), therefore, I am not the author. Now that is settled, I'm going to hide from the Twilight fans who are now out for my blood. Enjoy.




                                        Chapter 5: What Secrets Can You Tell Me?

Lily heard a series of rather familiar pops out in the garden followed by James’ less-than-melodious voice singing at the top of his lungs.

“I’m done with Hogwarts!’

“Hoggy, warty Hogwarts!’

“No more Hogwarts for me!”

“James, please, that wasn’t clever the first time, and it’s not clever the 53rd, either.” Al’s exasperated voice floated in through her window.

James, however, seemed undaunted.

“No more Hogwarts!’

“I’m done, I’m FREE!’

“No more hoggy, warty –“

Apparently someone had finally had enough and cast a silencing charm on a rambunctious James.

Lily felt slightly less guilty about skipping James’ graduation ceremony, if this was the way he was going to act. Besides, she wouldn’t be able to get away with pulling the same stunt next year; not with both Al and Rose graduating. She was just preparing herself for next year, she told herself, ignoring the snide voice in her head which informed her that she wouldn’t be ready next year either. A light knock on her door had her flopping back on her bed and trying her best to look pathetically sad and ill.

“Come in” she said weakly.

The door opened and Al stuck his messy head of black hair in. When he saw her on her bed, he smiled slightly and shook his head. “You’re not going to fool me, Lils” he said, carefully picking his way through stacks of clothes (clean, of course—well, mostly), magazines, books, and cds to perch on the side of her bed.

She groaned pitifully, but it was no use. She couldn’t fool Al. Al wasn’t fooled by anything (he was uncannily like Rose sometimes). He merely lifted an eyebrow and laughed.

“I do have to wonder how you managed to convince Mum and Dad” he said offhandedly.

Lily gave up all pretences and sat up, folding her long legs underneath her and turning so that she was facing Al. “Uncle George’s Puking Pastilles are quite useful to have around at times, I find” she observed sagely.

Al let out a loud guffaw, throwing his head back as he did so. “And it worked? Merlin’s pants I can’t believe Mum was fooled by something from her own brother’s store!” He was incredulous.

Lily found herself giggling too, Al’s laugh was infectious. “Well, Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes does promise quality products” she noted, grinning at her brother.

Al’s grin turned rueful. “I wish I’d thought of that.”

Lily, this time, was the one to raise an eyebrow. “You? Mr. Prefect and Future Head Boy would have skipped out on something as important as James’ graduation?”

“Oi, you wouldn’t believe how boring the whole ceremony was. And James has been bloody unbearable!” Al defended himself, playfully pushing his sister.

“More so than usual?”

Lily turned her head so fast she swore she heard her neck pop and Al nearly fell off her bed. Lounging in the doorway to her room, looking distinctly amused, was an older version of Al, from the wild and unruly black (edging toward grey, although he refused to admit it) hair to the brilliant green eyes behind wire frame glasses.

“I’m glad you were able to get the other half down. I’d hate for you to have to miss James and Al’s party tomorrow” Harry Potter told his daughter, green eyes twinkling. “But I’d skip dinner tonight, Lils, and have Al bring you up a plate later—you wouldn’t want your mother getting suspicious about your miraculous recovery”

Lily and Al waited until they heard their father head back downstairs before erupting into laughter.

“So, reckon Dad figured it out?” Al asked Lily once he had sufficiently been able to catch his breath.

Lily shrugged and wiped at her eyes. “I reckon so, Al, I reckon so” she said mock-seriously, before collapsing into giggles again.

Like a fly drawn to honey, James appeared at her door, demanding to know what was so funny, anyway. He was obviously still a bit sore about being the victim of a very powerful ‘Silencio’ (from his own MOTHER, for Merlin’s sake!). Suddenly, realization dawned on him and James narrowed his eyes at his little sister. “Oi, why weren’t you at my graduation?”

Lily and Al exchanged a brief look. “Sorry, I was feeling a bit ill this morning,” Lily started, a little startled that James both noticed and cared. It was generally understood that if something had to do with Hogwarts, Lily would do her best to avoid it.

“Bollocks” said James, waving her off. “You skived off my graduation.” He paused for a minute before grinning much like Al had earlier and added, “Not that I really blame you. It was bloody boring. If I hadn’t been one of the poor sods graduating, I probably would have skipped it myself. But you best have bought me a damn good graduation present to make up for it, though.”

He ruffled Lily’s long red mane and then, for good measure, Al’s rat’s nest, eliciting a rather disgruntled “Hey!” from the latter and a rather more inflamed “Prat!” from the former before sailing out of the room, humming a tune that sounded suspiciously like his “I’m Done With Hogwarts” ditty.

 James stopped to look back at Lily, as if sizing her up. “Incidentally, how’d you manage it, Lilikins?”

Lily scowled at the nickname, but Al answered for her. “Puking Pastilles” he said.

James nodded in comprehension and started off again, before turning around one last time. “Fever Fudges are much better, not quite so messy.”

Lily grinned cheekily back at him. “But not nearly as dramatic.”

James gave her another appraising look before grinning proudly. “I’ve taught you well.” Then he was gone.

Al shook his head, bemused. “I’ll never understand him” he said.

“Strange duck” Lily murmured, agreeing with him.

After a few minutes of companionable silence Lily flipped over onto her stomach and eyed Albus curiously. He continued playing absent-mindedly with a loose string on her duvet and stared off into space. It was obvious he had something on his mind, which had probably been the motivation to seek her out as soon as he arrived home as much as the fact that he hadn’t seen her since the Easter holidays. It wouldn’t do to try and prompt him, though. Al could clam up faster than anyone else she knew, and he was hard to read at the best of times.

Sometimes it was easy for Lily to see the real reasons Al had been sorted into Slytherin instead of Gryffindor like the rest of the family. He wasn’t open and daring like a good Gryffindor, and could manipulate people so deftly that he rarely realized he was doing it. Which was why Lily was surprised to find, on closer inspection, that Al looked almost vulnerable. His eyes were distant and his brow was furrowed in fierce contemplation, as if he were waging some kind of internal war with himself.

Lily hummed softly to herself as she waited for Al to make his decision. It didn’t matter, even if he decided not to say anything now, he would tell her eventually. Lily may have not been able to do magic, but she could keep secrets better than the most heavily protected secret-keeper. And not just Al’s, either. Rose, Hugo, Victiore, Dom, Louis, Teddy, hell, even James came to her when they needed to talk. It wasn’t that she gave stellar advice, that was Rose’s forte, but she was a fantastic listener. Maybe it was because she herself was so conscious of getting lost in the bustle of the extended Potter/Weasley clan that she made such a good one.

Whatever the reason, it had been Lily Teddy had told about how badly he had screwed up with Victoire, why he felt he would never be able to make things up to her. Lily secretly agreed with her god-brother, but she couldn’t help feeling a little bad for him when Victoire eloped with a Romanian named Luca the next year. Lily was the one Hugo came to when he could no longer stand his parent’s frequent fights at home. Dom, despite the fact that the two had never been close (a fact that had a large amount to do with Dominique’s overbearing personality and treatment of Victoire), had admitted to Lily that she couldn’t control her eating habits anymore -- that always having to do better than her disappointment of a sister had finally taken its toll. Rose had confided in Lily her fear that she might crack under the immense pressure she felt to meet her parent’s exceedingly high expectations, or worse; fail. Louis had told Lily that he had never felt as alone as he did when he was at school and had to make up stories about his great times with friends because he did not want to admit that he, Louis Weasley, had not a single friend to his name at Hogwarts.

Some secrets were silly, like Freddy telling her about his embarrassing crush on his Transfiguration teacher. Others left Lily feeling empty and helpless, like Roxanne’s tearful confession of how hard it was to see her dad on a bad day, when he fingered his missing ear and mourned the loss of his other half; a hole that neither she, nor her brother, nor even her mother would ever be able to fill, no matter how much they wanted to or how hard they tried. Even James had admitted to Lily that he didn’t like the attention and fame associated with being one of Harry Potter’s children nearly as much as he pretended to. Lily was sure that he had never told anyone else this particular secret, because it would have ruined the image as the carefree limelight-loving eldest son of Harry Potter that James had so carefully cultivated to protect himself from the constant scrutiny. And Al, well, Al had told her everything. At least, she thought he had. If not, he was even better at keeping secrets than she was.

 Sometimes it made Lily laugh when she read an article about one member of her family or another in the Prophet, the portrayal of the Potter/Weasley clan was so far from the truth. Despite appearances, all was not good on the home front.

A weary sigh brought Lily back to the present. Al had finished his internal debate, though he still looked rather conflicted—no, that wasn’t quite right; he looked unsure. But of what? For the second time, Lily found herself thinking of her reliable, strong, sarcastic, thoughtful, and impervious older brother as vulnerable. That worried Lily quite a bit. It really wasn’t like Al, and it made her think that perhaps he had been keeping some secrets after all.

Al sighed again and sat up, leaning against the headboard, knees drawn up to his chest almost defensively. Lily, perturbed, followed his cue and mimicked his position, sitting so that she had her chin resting on her knees, clutching a pillow, her left arm just touching the one Al had carelessly slung around his own knees, his other still playing with the duvet.

“What…” Al started, then sighed another heavy sigh, this one almost frustrated, ran his hand furiously, almost tearing at it, through his hair, making it stand up on end. Lily had to fight the urge to smooth it down for him.

He pushed his glasses back up his nose and resolutely tried again.

“What would you think if I told you I wanted to bring someone home to meet you, and maybe the rest of the family?”

Lily had a distinct feeling that this was only the tip of the iceberg, so she tried to keep her tone light. “You mean, you’ve finally got a girlfriend? Well, I guess James owes me 5 knuts.”

Al ran his hand through his hair again, tension radiating off him like heat. “Not exactly.” He sounded unhappy.

Lily looked at him from the corner of her eye. He smiled weakly and tried to play at being offended. “Hang on, you two had a bet on me going?”

Lily laughed a little. “We had to have something to entertain ourselves with over the Easter hols when we were rained in for days and you and Rosie were holed up revising for exams. You were so obviously bothered by something that I put my money on you admitting it by the time term ended, but James was convinced you’d make us wait to find out till next Christmas, at least.”

Al was shifting uncomfortably and Lily decided it was probably best just to barrel on.

“So, you’ve got a girlfriend, or someone you’re interested in, then?” she asked innocently.

Al rested his head against the headboard with a thud. “Not exactly.”

“You said that before, Albus. What do you mean, ‘Not Exactly’?”

Al’s fingers were tapping in agitation against his knees. Lily had never seen him this tightly wound up. She found herself tensing in anticipation of some sudden and deadly spring, like a jack-in-the-box.

“Just… not exactly.”

Lily couldn’t tell if the frustration in his voice was aimed at her or his own inability to communicate what he wanted so desperately to tell her. Time to diffuse the situation, then, Lily thought.

“You’re not engaged, are you?” she asked in mock-horror.

Al raised an eyebrow and shot her a look over the rims of his glasses that let her know humor was not the right ticket just at the moment.

“Right then,” she said, “shutting up.” At least that got a wry smile out of her brother.

“I said not exactly because it’s not a girlfriend, Lily” Al sounded suddenly very weary and world-worn.

She opened her mouth to make a guess, but Al silently admonished her and continued. “It’s not a girlfriend, and it’s not a girl.”

Al let his sentence hang in the air and a heavy silence followed while Lily tried desperately to keep up while forestalling her mind from jumping to conclusions at the implications of his statement.

“Al—“

“Lily, I think I’m gay.” Al’s eyes were closed and his shoulders tensed, as if waiting for a blow. Or wishing not to be here, Lily thought with a pang.

“You mean we’re going to have to rely on James to carry on the Potter name?” Lily felt stupid the moment the words came out of her mouth, but the look of intense and absolute relief on her brother’s face kept her from apologizing.

Al’s old, wise eyes spoke of such gratitude that Lily gave into her impulse and hugged him tightly. Surprisingly, he didn’t shrug her off, instead he clung to her and Lily could have sworn those were tears he was hastily wiping away when they finally broke apart.

“You know, if it’s up to James, I’m afraid the Potter name is doomed” Al mused. The attempt at humor fell flat, but Lily was relieved that Al was feeling good enough to even try to crack a joke.

“BOYS! HARRY! IT’S TIME FOR DINNER!”

Al tensed a little as their mother’s  magically amplified voice floated (well, thundered, really) upstairs.

“Lil,” he said softly,” I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t say anything. To anyone. At least, not just yet.”

Lily nodded her understanding and watched Al slip back into his quiet, invulnerable façade as he headed down for dinner. Only once he was gone did she realize that he’d left out the particulars. But that would have to be another conversation. She slid down until she was lying on her back, staring mindlessly at the designs she had painstakingly painted on her ceiling years ago.

Al was gay? Lily had heard some big secrets in her day, but this was by far the biggest of them all. She wondered if Rose knew. It was awfully hard to fool Rose. Although, Lily thought, if anyone in the world could fool Rose Weasley, it would be Albus Severus Potter.




A/N: Well, what did you think? Wait, don't tell me now... just review!
I will ask your indulgence where my grammatical errors may be concerned. I am beta-less, so I'm relying upon my own proof reading skills.
                                        Please Review!

 

Chapter 6: People Running Round in Circles
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A/N: Yikes! I wish I had an exciting excuse for taking this long to post a new chapter, but I'm afraid school and life just caught up with me. This isn't my favorite chapter, so feel free to tell me how I can improve it. Hope you enjoy it!

--Lara







Chapter 6: People Running Round in Circles



Rose Weasley had a problem. Well, she had several problems; one named “Hugo,” and one named “Scorpius,” (she blushed every time she thought of the latter one; it was quite embarrassing) and one named “I have to leave in less than two hours to go to a party where I will see the boy I fancy and I have ABSOLUTELY BLOODY NOTHING to wear!” The last being the more serious and immediate of the three. It was also the one she was trying to tackle at the moment (mmm… she wouldn’t mind tackling Scorpius--- no, stop that immediately!) to no avail.



She sighed as she looked at the closet and the mess of clothes she had thrown on the floor (and every other available surface, really). It was hopeless. She caught sight of her pale, distraught reflection and tangled hair and found it necessary to sigh again. It was a bad habit she had picked up from Albus, although he did it much more effectively. It was something to aspire to, to affect change with a sigh. Rose was so frustrated that she was about ready to go starkers to the bloody party. That would certainly get his attention. Oh, she was just no good at these sorts of things.



“I certainly hope that is not all you will be wearing tonight, Rose. It’ll certainly make a splash, although I don’t know how your mum would take it.”



Rose spun around, blushing to find Lily carrying a mountainous pile of clothing and trying to shake the soot from her long hair.



“Lily!” Rose squealed unabashedly, relieved that the reinforcements had arrived.



“Sorry I couldn’t get here earlier, Rose. Mum wanted help getting things ready because, of course, Dad couldn’t be found and Al and James couldn’t be made to help with their own bloody party.” Lily commented darkly, dropping the clothes on Rose’s bed and then plopping down daintily herself. “And I knew you would need some help” Lily laughed, surveying Rose’s room and frazzled appearance.



Half an hour and much fussing later, Rose had found (with much help from a very amused Lily) an outfit which met her expectations. The dusty grey top hadn’t been her first choice, but it set off her dark hair and blue eyes well and looked nice with the tight black jeans Lily had picked out for her (and swore to Merlin and back that they did not make her butt look big). Curiously, both items were from her cousin’s wardrobe, though they fit perfectly, which led Rose to believe that Lily (who was much slimmer and athletic) had bought them for her in the first place.



Once satisfied, Rose cleaned up the mess with a wave of her wand. She couldn’t help but feel slightly guilty when she saw Lily avert her eyes, although her cousin had made her swear twenty times over not to. It was always a little awkward to do magic around Lily, so Rose avoided it when she could (or remembered). It wasn’t that Lily made a big fuss about it, it was just that Rose felt like she was flaunting something she had and Lily didn’t. Half of Rose’s life centered around Hogwarts, and she was always afraid to bring it up around her cousin. Al laughed at her about it, and Lily had once pitched a fit when Rose had refused to do magic with her in the room, but it still felt awfully awkward. Rose stood with her wand raised and an expression like a child caught with their hand in the cookie jar on her face until Lily caught sight of her and scowled.



“You know, I’m not going to break into tears if you do magic around me Rose. Believe it or not, I’m bloody happy being a Squib and learning all sorts of useless muggle subjects like chemistry and maths.” Lily hadn’t meant to sound quite as sarcastic as she did. “Sorry, it’s been a long day and we’ve been over this before. You are allowed to do magic around me, Rose. You don’t need to mollycoddle me, you don’t need to pity me, and you don’t need to be careful around me. Now finish getting ready before I have to drag you into the shower myself.” She felt a little bad for snapping at Rose, but she really didn’t feel like dealing with this.



Rose bit her lip and nodded, just barely restraining an apology she knew Lily didn’t want to hear. Instead, she ducked into the bathroom and out of Lily’s line of fire.



Lily perched on Rose’s neatly organized desk and idly twirled a strand of her hair. She waited until she heard the water running and knew Rose couldn’t escape. “May I ask for whom you are dressing up, Rosie dear?”



There was no answer from the bathroom. It came, instead, from the hall outside Rose’s bedroom door where a gangly 15 year old Hugo wore an impish grin.



“It’s Scorpius Malfoy.”



“HUGO!” Rose roared in protest from the shower.



“Only Scorpius hasn’t got the faintest idea she’s alive, and Dad’d do his nut if he knew who she fancied.” Hugo continued with the air of one who knew all. “It’s in her diary. She’s absolute rubbish at hiding it, really it’s no fun anymore, it’s gotten so easy to find.”



“OUT!” Rose screamed, sopping wet and clutching her towel around herself, her wand leveled at his head. Hugo just raised his hands and ducked out of range. Lily could hear him laughing down the hall.



“I swear, one of these days I’m going to kill him…”



“So, Scorpius Malfoy, eh?” Lily interrupted Rose’s furious mutterings. She was rewarded by Rose flushing a brilliant shade of red, which was really all the answer she needed.



“What about him?” Rose was trying for nonchalant… and failing miserably.



“Oh, come on Rose. You’re no fun. Don’t I get to tease you about who you fancy? I thought it was a tradition. You’d fall in love with someone, Hugo would find out who it was, I’d tease you about him, and then you’d maybe hook up with him.” Lily grinned at her, upside down, from Rose’s bed.



Rose shook her head. “That was different, Lily. This is different. He’s just so… I don’t know—“ Rose trailed off, shrugging to express that this wasn’t something to put into words.



Lily was going to try anyway. “Different?”



Rose only spared her a quick glance. “No, Lily. Well, yes, but.” She sat down next to her cousin, deftly avoiding the long limbs spread across her duvet. “Scorpius doesn’t care that I’m a Weasley. That’s difference number one. He isn’t really all that popular. That’s difference number two. He-“



“He doesn’t know you exist: difference number three.” Lily was now right side up, taking in Rose’s face carefully.



Rose sighed. “Right. Difference number three. I guess the biggest difference is me, Lily. This isn’t some silly crush. I legitimately fancy him, want to be near him, wish he would look at me just once.”



“I’m sure he’s looked, Rosie.” Lily turned to face her pretty cousin. “Have you even ever talked to him? He’s a bit of a prat.”



“Have you?” Rose’s chin was out, a sure sign that Lily was treading on thin ice here.



“Yes, I have, Rose. This isn’t just another Potter talking about a Malfoy thing. He used to come to those dinners Shaklebott hosted every year, the ones commemorating the war. The ones your father refused to go to because Malfoy’s father was recognized as one of the heroes.”



Rose had the good grace to look ashamed. “Alright, so I haven’t talked to him. Much. We did have arithmancy together last year. He sat behind me. And you have to admit, Lils, you have a tendency to make enemies.”



“Moi?” Lily scoffed, tossing her long red hair over her shoulder. “Never.”



Rose threw her hands up in defeat. “All I’m saying is that you might not be the best judge. Besides; there hasn’t been one of those dinners in nearly three years. Are you seriously basing your opinion of Scorpius Malfoy on an encounter you had when you were thirteen?”



Lily hated it when Rose was right. So she often did what James did; she ignored her. “Yes I am. He was a prick, and I maintain that he still is. However, if you are determined to like him, I’ll do my best to get him to fancy you.” She got up and stretched.



Rose ran a brush through her hair, thinking quietly to herself. Lily was equally silent, not even humming for once. Rose stopped mid-stroke, her intuition sending out an alarm. “Lily?”



Lily immediately plastered on a bright smile. “Yeah?”



Rose shook her head. She was probably just nervous. It was throwing her senses off.



Lily bit her lip, watching her cousin get ready. Rose effortlessly flicked her wand to dry her hair, do her make up, find her bag. Lily didn’t even flinch once. Her mind was with another wizard who was most likely pacing in his room at home.



“Rose?” Lily asked, “Has Al talked to you lately?”



If Rose had been capable of thinking of anyone but Scorpius Malfoy, she would have heard the alarms going off again. But as it were, she was completely distracted, so she said, “Not really, why? Should he have?”



Lily bit her lip again. “No, just checking.”



Rose didn’t even blink at that. “Ready to go?”




“Of course.” Lily grabbed the proffered hand and the two apparated to the front yard of Dinsmore.




 



At some point amongst the din and confusion, Lily lost her cousin. Some time later she was feeling pretty lost herself. These were all James and Al’s friends, all Hogwarts students or recent graduates. Lily could flirt and tease and talk quidditch with the best of them, but even she had her limits when it came to conversations about Hogwarts. Even worse were the awkward silences that inevitably followed the instant someone remembered Lily and nudged his friend in the ribs with an elbow to shut him up.



Hogwarts had become more of a dull ache than anything else, over the years, really. Lily felt guilty even comparing her own school to that magical place, because Eastmon was lovely. It had challenging classes, beautiful dormitories, a fair mix of people, sports, good looking boys, and a humongous library. The problem was, Lily felt like a bloody brochure each time she tried to describe it. Or maybe it was that she had to hide her transfiguration and defensive theory books at the bottom of her trunk; or that she had to leave her owl, Artemis at home. Or it could have been that there was no magical Restricted section, or cranky caretakers with crazy cats, or ceilings enchanted to look like the sky. It was even possible that the only problem Lily had with her school was that it was, quite simply, not Hogwarts. And there was really nothing that could be done about that at all.



“Lily? Lily? Oi, Lily!”



Lily’s pulled herself shakily out of her thoughts. It wasn’t good to dwell on things like that. The boy speaking to her had been a team-mate of James’, she was pretty sure.



“You all right there? You looked pretty lost for a second.” He was good looking; tall, blonde, and blue-eyed. Not really her type, but he was fit in that way only quidditch players can be.



“No, I’m fine.” Lily answered, although she couldn’t remember for the life of her what they had been talking about. She placed a hand on his arm and giggled airily. She needed a distraction, badly. She was pleased to see his eyes travel up her arm and then back down her body, finally dragging his eyes up to meet hers. “What were you saying?”



“I was just wondering if you wanted to take a walk with me. It’s a little crowded in here.” He shyly rubbed at the scruff of his neck, a habit she would have normally found endearing. Tonight, it annoyed her. Still, he was a better prospect than almost anyone else here. She could help Rose later…



“Sounds like a plan.” Lily smiled coyly at the smug expression on his face, taking him by the hand and leading him away. The beauty of a place like Dinsmore was that there were plenty of rooms unoccupied and largely undiscovered, perfect for nights like this. And no one knew them better than Lily. For a little while, at least, she could forget.





So, what did you think? I know Rose didn't get a lot of stage time, but I promise that she will become much more important in later chapters; I just got tired of reading fics that focused on her. Well, please review, and feel free to ask any questions you may have!



Chapter 7: Chapter 7: Friday Night Charades of Youth
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Um, so I am an absolutely HORRIBLE person. I was sure I had posted this chapter literally MONTHS ago. No lie. Hopefully you are all much better people than I and will be able to forgive me for the absolutely unspeakable wait. If any of you even remember this story. I wouldn't blame you if you didn't. And, believe it or not, there is a real live update coming out almost as soon as this one is approved. Enjoy!
And remember that I am not JK Rowling, and so don't really own much of this at all. Unfortunately.

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Chapter 7: Friday Night Charades of Youth


Lily told Eric or Derrick or whatever-his-name-was that she’d be right down. Lily had no intention of returning to the party. It wasn’t his fault. There had been no awkward fumbling or pawing hands, but the whole time, all Lily could see was his wand lying on the bedside table while they kissed. And for some reason, all she wanted to do now was cry. And run. She wanted to run, hard and fast, past the party, out of the house, out of her tiny little world filled with concerned faces, to a place where no one knew her or knew to feel sorry for her. She could almost taste the night wind now. But running outside meant running by a lot of people who would want to ask her a lot of questions. So her only option was to turn and run up. When she finally reached the stone balcony above it all, she collapsed and sobbed into the night, not really sure who she was crying for or why, but just knowing that everything was finally too much.

A light footstep made Lily scrub at her eyes furiously, in an attempt to erase all traces of tears. The intruder stood a few feet from her, waiting, allowing her to take the time she needed to compose herself.

“What do you want?” Lily asked, her voice struggling for calm.

“I may not be your biggest fan, Potter, but even I know where to draw the line.” The cold, slow voice made Lily whip around in surprise. Scorpius Malfoy was the last person she had expected to follow her.

“Malfoy…” It was less a greeting than a question.

Scorpius stepped closer, his clenched fists and stiff neck betraying his attempted cool demeanor. “What did he say?”

Lily tried her best to sound unaffected. “Nothing. Well, nothing I haven’t heard before. The usual pity. He wasn’t very original.”

Scorpius sighed. “I’m sorry.”

“What?” Lily couldn’t believe her ears. Was Scorpius Malfoy apologizing? And for something he didn’t do?

His laugh was short and bitter. “You really don’t think much of me, do you?”

“No.” Lily wasn’t in the mood to be diplomatic. Or lie.

“You’re smarter than the rest of your family, then, aren’t you?”

“Where is this going, Malfoy?”

When Scorpius ran a hand through his hair, Lily couldn’t help but think of Albus in her room the day before. Something about the slump of his shoulders and the strain in his eyes made him look vulnerable. The thought disconcerted Lily even more than it did in connection with her older brother. Al letting his guard down around her made sense, or at least, much more sense than the idea of Scorpius even considering letting her in. They didn’t even like each other, for Merlin’s sake. Lily watched him shifting, carefully quiet.

“Do you know why Al invited me to this?” This was going to build up to something big ,Lily could tell. He wasn’t just trying to distract her

“I assumed, you both being in Slytherin, that you were acquaintances, or friends.” Lily was surprised she hadn’t thought about it earlier. Scorpius wasn’t exactly a regular at family functions. “Or because someone asked him to” Lily added, thinking of Rose.

Scorpius scoffed at that suggestion. “Not likely.” He seemed to be considering how much to tell her. “We’re not friends, either. That would make it too easy.” He sounded vaguely amused now.

Lily’s thoughts spun as she remembered again Al’s confession to her the night before. A gasp escaped her before she could do anything to stop it.  “You’re not…”

“Al’s gay lover? No. Not my preference.” Scorpius was definitely amused now, even more so when he saw Lily’s obvious expression of shock. “I’m not blind, you know. And Al and I are too much alike for him to really hide something successfully from me. That’s part of the problem. When he’s hiding something, I can tell.”

“But you’re not friends.” By now, Lily was barely treading water. She had no idea where Scorpius was going with this. Everything he said only confused her further.

Scorpius didn’t gratify her with an answer, instead continued on with whatever obscure thread he was following. “He thinks we’re alike, too.”

Lily’s exclamation of surprise (or was it disgust?) made him smile that same twisted, ironic smile.

“My thoughts exactly. But Al was pretty set on that point. Now, watching you, I can’t help but think he was on the right track… but not for the same reason. See, Al missed the fundamental difference when he called us both secretive. You keep other people’s secrets, I keep my own. No, Potter, we’re alike in a different way. We both hate our families.”

Lily’s protest went unacknowledged.

“Not on the same levels, of course, but for the same reason: our families have both destroyed our chance at peace. At something more than a superficial happiness.”

Lily felt a chill run down her spine. Scorpius’s words hit precariously close to home.

“I think that’s what Al saw; the unease he thought had to do with our tendency to keep secrets. He was right, but he was wrong.”

“You still didn’t tell me why Albus invited you, Malfoy.” Talking with Scorpius disturbed her carefully balanced façade. He brought up things she worked hard to ignore. It was not a comfortable feeling; having someone be able to read so easily what you had thought you had so carefully concealed. Lily wondered how Al felt having Scorpius do this to him on a regular basis, if he even noticed…if it had anything to do with the reason Scorpius was talking to her right now.

“Your brother invited me for a couple of reasons. He basically told me I was being stupid. More gently than that, of course. That condemning people to hate me was to not allow them to do differently. That any good Slytherin would have taken the first chance they had to sway the opinion of the people who mattered in their favour. Your brother knows which buttons to push. If I have ever been something, it’s been a good Slytherin. He also told me what I now know is a fucking lie. He told me that I had to stop running from my family; possibly true. He said I needed to come and see how a normal family functions; complete shite. You have never been normal, and you sure as hell aren’t functional.”

Lily bristled at this, despite the small part of her that wanted to cheer when she realized someone else had finally seen it. Someone besides her and Victoire, and Al. Scorpius motioned for her to wait.

“He threw an invitation at me and told me he was expecting a nice present. I decided then and there that I would come solely to prove him wrong on both counts. Oddly enough, I don’t really feel like gloating… which may have been Al’s plan the whole time. He’s in bloody Sytherin for a reason, your brother. And if he can predict my reactions thus far, it makes me think that he knows me much better than I am comfortable with.”

Lily certainly knew that feeling. Whether he wished to admit it or not, he and Al were alike in that aspect, at least. She sat back on the low wall and looked up at the stars. Scorpius joined her, a safe distance away, and both remained that way for a moment.

“Al probably did plan it that way.” She said, frowning at the constellations rather than the person next to her. She was afraid of what she would see if Scorpius, fiercely distant, was unguarded in his contemplation of the inky sky.

“I think he was hoping I’d come talk to you. There was no real reason to bring you into the conversation.”

“Like you said, Al is in Slytherin for a reason.”

“I think he’s worried about you.”

“He’s my older brother.”

“No, I mean worried that he’s losing you. I think I was supposed to either be a warning or a reminder to come back. What not to do and why you shouldn’t do it.”

Lily thought for a second. “I think it was a reassurance.”

It was now Scorpius’s turn to be confused. “How so?”

“That it is ok to be like you.” Lily made no attempt to clarify who Al wanted to reassure. She would let Scorpius draw his own conclusions. That was probably a part of Al’s scheme, too.

They listened to the whistling wind in a comfortable, if thoughtful, silence.

“Did you know that one of your blonde cousins was making herself through up in the downstairs loo?” Scorpius asked, almost bored.

Lily grimaced, and then sighed in a mixture of exasperation and resignation. She would have to deal with Dom later. Right now, however, she couldn’t muster the energy. She wished, for approximately the millionth time, that Victoire was here.

Scorpius, watching her carefully, took note; a much more dangerous smile creeping over his features as he spoke.

“You’d have been a Slytherin, too, I think.”

Lily glanced at him sharply. It didn’t go over well to hypothesize about what might have been her career in the magical community. Besides, she’d always imagined herself in her parent’s house. “Al once told me that I’d be a good Gryffindor.” The challenge was silent, but there.

“Al makes a good Slytherin. He knows what people want or need to hear. His opinions aren’t reliable because they aren’t always honest. But if you’d have been a Gryffindor, you’d have charged down these stairs to confront her. A Ravenclaw would have immediately assured me she knew and would take care of it. And although I don’t think Hufflepuff would have even been a consideration; a Hufflepuff would have been concerned, not annoyed.” Scorpius was literally smirking at this point.

“I am concerned!” Lily cried, offended.

“But also annoyed. Only a Slytherin would have been annoyed. Or maybe a snobby Ravenclaw, but my vote is still for Slytherin. Incriminating evidence.”

“And you wonder why nobody wants you here.” Lily commented dryly.

“Oh, ouch! Potter, that hurt!” Scorpius clutched his chest dramatically and they both laughed. It felt weird to be laughing with Scorpius Malfoy, but weird in a good way. Lily felt somewhat lighter. She ought to give Al more credit.

Lily was the one who broke the silence this time, in a sudden burst of generosity. “It’s not true that no one wanted you here.” She said it in the same bored tone Scorpius had adopted earlier to tell her about Dom’s relapse.

“Oh?” Scorpius raised his eyebrows. “Al doesn’t count.”

“No, not Al.” Lily said, shaking her head. “I happen to know one Rose Weasely who spent another four hours picking out her clothes when she heard you were coming tonight.” Lily replied smugly, feeling only slightly guilty for betraying her cousin’s secret. She no longer thought of Malfoy as someone who would try to hurt her with it. Rather, if he wasn’t interested, he’d ignore her as usual.

“Rosie, eh?” Scorpius was trying hard for the nonchalance that had come so easily earlier.

Lily smiled. So he was interested. “She’s probably downstairs, looking for you.”

Scorpius arched his eyebrow. “Why are you telling me this?”

“Good question.” Lily turned to him, feeling her heavy curtain of hair swing over her shoulder. “Consider it my good deed for the night.”

“So I’m a charity case, now?”

“Always.”

It was the second time that night that Lily found herself laughing with Malfoy. She vaguely wondered why she hadn’t before.

“You know, my dad will hate me.” Scorpius’s amusement didn’t fade, his smile didn’t waver, but his eyes grew cold for a second. Or it could have been Lily’s imagination.

“I find that a little excitement is good for them, once in a while.” Lily’s voice was bland, carefully unemotional.

“Hmmph.” The noise Scorpius made was noncommittal. He shook his head almost ruefully, and then stood up.

Lily looked up. “Going for it, then?”

He put his hands in his pockets, and stared down at her, face impassive. “Don’t you have a cousin to help, then?” And he was gone.

Lily sighed heavily, and then followed him downstairs, where the party was progressing at a dull roar.

She artfully dodged whats-his-name, rounding a corner and running straight into a very disgruntled Rose. Lily winced in pain at the vice-like grip on her arm as Rose dragged her into the nearest empty room.

“What were you doing with Scorpius?” Rose had never looked more like her parents than in that moment with her arms crossed sulkily and face flushed an unattractive red.

Lily didn’t know whether to laugh or scream in frustration. “Taking your advice, Rose. Talking to him.”

“Oh.”

Lily retrieved her arm from Rose’s grip and examined the tender flesh. “Oh is right.” Rose looked so uncertain that Lily didn’t have the heart to be upset with her. Much. “He likes you, you know.”

“You’re lying.” Rose was astounded.

“Nope,” Lily said, getting a pathetic thrill out of the sick look on Rose’s face. “He likes you. He’s looking for you now.” She wasn’t sure why that statement upset her.

“No.” Panic had replaced disbelief. “I look a wreck. I can’t go out there now! You didn’t tell him I fancied him, did you Lily? Tell me you didn’t!”

“You look beautiful.” Lily pushed past her cousin, taking a mean satisfaction from her white face. There had to be something wrong with her, Lily thought, disgusted with herself. “Have you seen Dominique?”

Rose didn’t answer, and Lily didn’t really expect her to. Instead she wove her way back through the crowds, ignoring James and skirting around the cluster of Potter-Weasely adults. After ascertaining that the downstairs loos contained only two couples heavily involved with one another, and a bloke who had too much to drink, she moved her search upstairs.

Cursing to herself that you’d think a Veela would be easier to keep track of, Lily found herself stuck with the unpleasant task of checking bedrooms and loos for her wayward cousin. She found Roxanne and a boy she didn’t recognize, she found Fred and two blonde chits, hell she even found Louis tentatively chatting up a cheerful-looking brunette, but she couldn’t find Dom. Lily wandered the halls, not enjoying the thought of a confrontation with Dom, but relishing in the relative silence that surrounded her the further she got from the main hub of the party.

“Lily?” She practically screamed in frustration when she heard the plaintive tone in Al’s voice. Didn’t she have enough people to take care of without her, usually, self-reliant brother to add to the mix?

“Yeah?”

Al cringed a little, then stepped into the hall from the doorway he had popped out of . “You got a minute?”

Lily softened. “Yeah,” she said.

Al pulled on his hair. “I need help.”

“Yes you do. What can I do for you, brother dearest?”

Al didn’t even blink an eye at her sarcasm. "Um, well…  I need you to do me a favour.”

Lily tapped her foot, waiting.

“ImightlikethisguyandIdon’tknowifheevenfanciesboysandsoIcan’taskbutmaybeyoucould.” Al, at least, had the grace to look embarrassed at his lack of coherency.

“Come again?”

Al took a breath and looked both ways down the hall. He and Lily were alone. Well, based on the moans coming from behind the door slightly ajar next to Lily, their only company was otherwise occupied. “Have you met my potions partner?”

Lily was nonplussed. “No, I haven’t. What’s that got to do with—Oh.”

“Yeah.” His response was more a sigh. Al rubbed the back of his neck, the display of insecurity just as discomfiting now as it was on Scorpius earlier and on him last night. “I, uh, I’m not ready for people to know, Lily” The plaintive tone was back, accompanied by big, pleading green eyes. Lily had always been jealous of his eyes.

Unconsciously, she moved closer to her brother. “I know.”

“But I can’t handle not knowing if Roman, well… I’ve been avoiding him all night, Lily. I’m afraid I’ll mess this up. That I’ll be wrong… that everyone will find out and I’ll become the latest edition to the Potter freak show.”

Despite her sympathy for her brother, Lily felt the sting of his comment. “At least I’d have company,” she observed calmly.

“Shit, I’m sorry, Lils. That’s not what I meant. You know it.” Al sighed again, frustrated with them both. “I just don’t know what to do.”

“What do you want me to do, Al?” Dominique was still somewhere to be found, and now it felt like Lily would be stuck matchmaking all evening.

“You could flirt with him, Lil. See if he’s interested, you know. Do whatever it is you do to get blokes into the sack, and tell me if he falls for it.”

“You want me to sleep with him?” Lily chose to ignore the insinuation behind his request.

“No! No, I, I just want you to see if he, you know, responds.” Al’s face was crimson.

“You know, as flattering as it is that you think otherwise, Al, not all men find me attractive.” Amusement laced her voice.

Al’s knowing look hit her dead on. “Let’s admit it, Lily. With you, that rarely is an issue, and if you want it, you usually get it. It’s nearly as fool proof as asking Dominique.”

“Or Louis” Lily couldn’t help herself.

Al wasn’t particularly amused, and moved to block her path down the carpeted hallway. “Not appreciated.”

“Oh, come off it, Al. You have to admit that it is pretty underhanded, even for  a Slytherin, to use your baby sister to see if the bloke you fancy is a poofer, too.” She moved to match Al’s stance, crossed arms and heavy glare and all.

Al shrugged that one off. “At least you won’t be feeling miserable for yourself in a corner, then. Or catching a disease from one of James’ teammates.”

Lily could feel her face flushing to match her brother’s. “If you want my help, you certainly have a strange way of going about asking for it.”

He turned those enviably green orbs on her again. “Please, Lil? I can’t last the summer hols wondering, and then when school starts, it’s too late, because…” Luckily, Al stopped himself in time.

Because you don’t go to Hogwarts, Lily, so you can’t be of any use to me then. Best do me the favour now, while you can, my little squib of a sister. Lily didn’t bother to finish his thought out loud for him. They both knew what he meant. “I’ll do it, okay Al? I’ll do it before you go crazy from the suspense. Now, if you don’t mind, I’ve got to find Dominique before she chucks up everything she’s eaten for the past month. Unless you care to help, I suggest you get out of my way.”

“Upstairs, second bedroom.” Mission accomplished, Al had re-established the distance between the siblings with those three words.

“Hmm. Glad to see everyone in the family wants to help.” Lily didn’t even bother to hide the acid in her voice, and Al obligingly melted out of the way.

Dominique was exactly where Al had said she would be. She was slumped on the floor, against the far wall, and didn’t look up when Lily pushed the door open. There was an overturned chair next to her, and her normally perfect blonde hair was strewn across her face in a messy tangle. Limbs, painfully thin and covered with almost translucent skin, stuck out at odd angles.

“Dom?”

Dom just groaned. Her eyelids felt too heavy to lift, let alone her jaw.

“Why, Dom?” Lily couldn’t muster up the energy to put the necessary venom in her voice. She received only another groan in response. Lily made her way into the attached bath, ignoring the mess Dom hadn’t bothered to clean up when she was done, and filled a glass with water.

Dom closed her lips tight when Lily tipped the glass to them.

“It’s just water, Dom. No calories. No fat. You need to drink it.” She forcefully held her cousin’s head back until she swallowed a few sips.

“Leave me alone, Lily.” Forcing herself to vomit had obviously not affected Dom’s amazing ability to make one’s name sound like a curse word.

“How long, Dom?”

“None of your bloody business. I’m fine.”

“Yes. That’s right. You are abso-bloody-lutely fine. Because people who are fine regularly make themselves vomit until they can’t stand up.” There was a slight chance that Lily was feeling out of sorts, and an even slighter one that she was letting it affect her.

“Lily.”

“Dom. How long?” Lily pushed Dom’s protesting hand ways as she smoothed her hair out of her cousin’s face. She noticed with a pang how frail her wrist was. Why hadn’t any one said anything sooner?

“Only a couple of weeks, Lily. The fitting for my gown is on Saturday. I didn’t want to look like a bloody cow.” The sad thing was, to Dom, there was no reason more important than this to starve herself to death. She would be the perfect bride, if only to spite Victoire.

“Trust me, Dom, there isn’t much a risk of that. It would be a shame, however, if you died before your wedding because you were too bloody thick to realize that you need to fucking eat to stay alive.” No sympathy for the devil. And there was nothing Dom hated worse than being criticized.

“Loads of women lose weight before their wedding. It’s practically a tradition.” Dom shot back, the argument bringing some color into her cheeks.

“And loads of women have the strength to walk down the aisle at the end of it as well,” Lily agreed. “We’ve been over this, Dom. What you’re doing, it’s insanity. It’s fucking dangerous. You’re twenty-two, Dom, not thirteen. You can’t keep making stupid decisions like this. What would have happened if I hadn’t found you tonight? Your wedding isn’t for a month. Do you think you would have looked like a bloody skeleton or died, first? It’s not fair to keep doing this to us, Dom.”

“Fair? I’m not doing anything to anyone else.” Dom’s blue eyes were still a bit unfocused, but her glare still hit Lily with some force.

“Don’t even try it.” Lily was disgusted with her cousin, disgusted with her own lack of sympathy, disgusted with her family for constantly pushing them all into things like this. “You’re doing it for the attention; you’re doing it for the control. You’re doing it so you can one-up Victoire, and get your mum to notice, and to keep yourself sane…because, somehow, you think this is the way to do it.” She slung her cousin’s arm over her shoulder, and slowly walked her out of the room, doing her best to ignore the way Dom shook uncontrollably: doing her best to ignore the way she shook uncontrollably. “You might be surprised to hear this, Dominique, but your sister isn’t here. Your mum dotes on you, and if you needed help, you only needed to ask. Because we have some twenty plus close relatives perfectly willing to stick their noses into your business without a second thought.”

Dom’s rusty laugh caught Lily unawares. “Ha! The first thing we agree on all night.”

“This conversation isn’t over, Dom. And I’m telling Tante Fleur.” Lily tried to make her voice sound as forceful as possible.

Dom balked, throwing Lily off balance, and almost tumbling them both to the floor. “There is nothing to tell my mother.” She said icily.

“I’m either telling her or Grandma Molly. Take your pick, Dom.”

“There is nothing wrong with me!” Lily could hear the tremor in Dom’s voice.

She said nothing in answer, simply let go of her cousin’s frail waist, and watched her sway a minute, off balance and too weak to correct it. Dom leaned heavily against the wall, sweat standing out on her forehead as she eyed the stairs in front of her warily. She took a tentative step forward before freezing, reaching out desperately for Lily’s hand.

Lily took up her position supporting her cousin again as they continued the perilous task of navigating the stairs together in silence. Almost ten minutes later, and half way between the first and ground floors, Dom turned to her, fear undisguised in her eyes.

“Lily? What’s wrong with me?” There was something so lost in her voice, that Lily felt herself forgiving her cousin all over again.

She pulled her closer and looked her in the eye. “Nothing a little of Grandma Molly’s apple tart can’t fix.”

Dom smiled tentatively and nodded. “Maybe tomorrow,” she said.

Lily stifled her sigh. There would be more battles tomorrow, for now, she had to find her Tante Fleur.

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Alright, guys. Before you ask, this is not going to be a bloody soap opera. Promise. I don't want all roses and ponies, but I don't want daytime drama, either. I'm trying to find a balance, and I promise that certain characters will be back, new ones will be added, and poor Lily will no longer be running around after her family solo. But all in due time, mdears.

Please remember to review... any and all comments/criticisms are helpful!


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