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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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