Lily’s pillow case was streaked with watery lines of mascara. There was a spell that most of the girls used, to make their make up tear-proof, but Lily had never bothered to learn it. She was adept at hiding her emotions and couldn’t remember the last time that she’d been unable to stop herself crying. Isidore had done her make up for her last night, highlighting and contouring and turning her into the porcelain queen the other students saw her as. She hadn’t anticipated needing to protect the war paint with anything more than her willpower.

Now, she sat up in bed, staring at the mess her eye make up had made of the bedding. She didn’t want to look in a mirror and see the smudges she knew would be scarring her cheeks. She could feel the make up smudged around her eyes, lashes caked in a sticky mess, but she didn’t touch it.

Her head was throbbing and she felt desperately sad. She couldn’t place the sadness. She knew something had happened last night but she didn’t want to let herself think too deeply. So she sat in silence, gazing at her ruined pillow.

Paige’s bed was empty, but Isidore had still been sleeping when Lily had woken up. After Lily had spent what felt like quite a long time sitting completely still, Isidore sat up. Her hair was wrapped up in silk scarves on top of her head. She’d been drinking last night but obviously hadn’t been anywhere near as out of it as Lily had if she’d remembered her haircare routine when she’d got back to the dormitory.

Isidore stood up. Her legs were long and muscular and she stretched her arms up. She was wearing one of the shirts Robin had donated for her to use as pyjamas. It was long enough to cover her lacy knickers, but rose as she lifted her arms and exposed bare midriff.

Usually, Lily was confident that she was the most beautiful of her friendship group, and she didn’t usually think about it much. But right now Isidore’s elegance was making her self-conscious.

“Oh, Lils,” Isidore sighed. “I’m so sorry.”

She swept over to Lily’s bed and sat down beside her, legs crossed over the side of the mattress.

Lily turned to frown at her friend.

Isidore leaned forward to give her a half hug, and then reached over Lily’s lap to borrow the wand Lily had left on her nightstand.

Isidore was much better at nonverbal spells than Lily had ever managed to be and didn’t speak as she touched the wand to Lily’s face. Lily closed her eyes as she felt the make up peel itself away from her skin, leaving her feeling soft.

“Thanks, Iz,” she breathed.

Isidore put down the wand and squeezed Lily’s hand instead.

“Are you going to talk to Paige?” She whispered. She sounded nervous.

The anxious tone in Isidore’s voice struck something in Lily, and suddenly images from the previous night were flashing back through her mind - swaying in the centre of the room with her arms draped around Isidore’s neck; Hugo trying to pull her away to take her back to her room; breaking away from her cousin and spinning around to see what he was trying to hide; Paige in the corner of the room, lips locked to Lysander’s; Isidore desperately trying to find Robin to carry Lily away as she sobbed, then giving up and dragging her by herself.

Lily jumped up, the fuzziness in her head sharpening into cool fury.

“Lils…” Isidore’s attempt to placate her wasn’t particularly convincing.

Lily swept out of the room without bothering to get changed.

She wasn’t sure whether she was looking for Lysander or for Paige, but her feet carried her up to the seventh year boys’ dormitory.

Isidore followed her. A small part of Lily felt guilty for dragging her into this. Usually after a party Isidore would be curled up with Robin in Ravenclaw Tower. Instead, she was babysitting. But the guilty part of Lily was only a very small part. Most of her was full of anger.

Lily swung open the door to the boys’ dormitory without bothering to knock. None of the boys tried to stop her as she swept inside. Instead, they seemed to shrink away behind their curtains and into the bathroom when they saw the blazing fury etched across her face.

The curtains around Lysander’s bed were drawn shut. Lily flicked her wand and they crumpled to the floor, leaving the bed exposed.

Lysander was lying on top of the covers, wearing a pair of excessively tight Slytherin boxers. Paige was curled up next to him, wrapped in a sheet. Her blonde curls shone against the crisp white sheets, and her makeup was smudged in a way that should have made her look like a mess but instead looked sultry and sexy.

Paige blinked up at Lily, clearly lost for words.

Lily could feel herself shaking and had to make a conscious effort to control herself. She took a deep breath and wiped her face clean of emotion, stood up straight and tossed her hair back over her shoulder.

“Well,” she said, voice breathy but cold. “This is pathetic.”

Paige was less successful in concealing her feelings. Hurt flashed across her face and she drew the sheet more tightly around her.

Lysander gave Lily a slow, languid smile and propped himself up on one elbow.

Lily refused to acknowledge him, and instead kept her focus on Paige.

“What?” Lily said with a smirk. “It wasn’t enough to dress like me and follow me around and act like my best friend? You decided you needed to sleep with my leftovers as well?”

This time, Paige didn’t look hurt. She sat up, looking furious. If Lily had been anybody else, she would have cowered. Instead, she laughed.

“You’re embarrassing,” she told the girl who had been her best friend the previous day. “And you really didn’t think this one through. Surely you don’t want people comparing you with me any more than they already do. It just makes you look bad.”

Paige took a few deep, slow breaths, and sat up straighter. Lily recognised her own defense mechanisms in her friend’s movements, but it didn’t stir up any kind of affection towards her.

When Paige spoke, her voice was slow and her words were calculated.

“I don’t think you get it, Lily,” she said pointedly. “You can come in here and make all the accusations you want to, but you’re finished. And soon you’re going to have to come to terms with that.”

Lily opened her mouth to respond but Paige cut across her.

“I get it. You’re embarrassed. Lysander told me how…disappointing you used to be in bed. And sometimes you used to cry? I can see why you wouldn’t want him to be with me and compare you to someone who actually knows what she’s doing.”

Lily didn’t even try to respond this time. She didn’t know why she was shocked that Lysander would stoop so low, but she still couldn’t believe he would speak like this about her.

Paige shrugged. “I’m sorry that you’re upset. But it’s my time now. You don’t get to control me anymore.”

“I created you,” Lily spat out. “You think you’d be anyone if you hadn’t been Lily Potter’s best friend?”

Paige shrugged daintily and tipped her head to one side, hair spilling out and over Lysander’s arm, shining against his tanned skin.

“You can believe that if you want to, sweetheart,” she said. “But I’m the one with the Head Boy brother, the infamous birthday parties, the better sex life and now the best looking guy. Deal with it, Lily, you’re done. Maybe if you hadn’t been so preoccupied with your potions and your cousin you could have held onto your crown, but now it’s too late. You can’t compete anymore.”

Paige smiled angelically and leant back into Lysander’s arms. Lysander looked amused and clearly didn’t feel the need to contribute to the argument.

Lily breathed in a deep, shuddering breath, and shook her head. Part of her wanted to cry, but she knew this wasn’t a battle she could risk losing. Instead, she kept her voice cool and steady.

“You’re nothing without me,” she said, looking straight into Paige’s eyes. “None of you are anything without me. It’s cute that you think you can be queen. We’ll see how long you last.”

She spun around before Paige had a chance to reply, confident that she’d had the last word.

On her way out of the room, she caught sight of Isidore, still standing at the top of the staircase.

Lily didn’t let herself think about the crestfallen expression on Isidore’s face.

Back in her own dormitory, Lily brushed her hair quickly and pulled on a dress that was far too short and floaty for the cold weather. She glanced at herself in the mirror to make sure she looked relaxed, and then stalked off to find Hugo.

As she walked through the school towards Ravenclaw Tower, Lily couldn’t shake the feeling that people were staring at her. She didn’t let herself lose her cool, and told herself they were still jealous of her even if they knew what had happened, but it still didn’t feel good.

Ravenclaw Tower was almost empty. It was always quiet on Saturday mornings. While the rest of the school liked to lounge around and enjoy a lazy start to the weekends, Ravenclaw students were known for heading straight to the library to get ahead with their studies.

Lily was grateful for the quiet. She wasn’t certain she would have been able to handle being stared at by a packed room of people cleverer than she was right now.

She had to work hard not to run up the steps to Hugo’s room. Instead, she took steps forward in time with her breathing, trying to calm herself down so that if his dorm-mates were there they wouldn’t see that she was suffering.

She needn’t have worried. The dormitory was completely empty.

Lily sat down on Hugo’s bed and drew her knees up against her chest. She wasn’t sure where he’d be. He usually had a lie in at the weekend. But he’d changed recently, and had new friends. Maybe they’d changed his habits.

She wished he hadn’t started hanging out with Mei and Abdi. It made him unpredictable, and she didn’t like not understanding him. He was the only person who understood her.

The bathroom door swung open and Lily looked up.

Tristan stood there, a towel wrapped around his waist. He looked startled to find her there. She hadn’t spoken to him since their encounter in the Astronomy Tower.

“Lily,” he said, voice slightly higher pitched than usual. “Um, Hugo’s in the Library, I think.”

“I was looking for you,” Lily lied.

“Oh.” Tristan’s cheeks flushed.

Lily stood up and made her way over to him. She wasn’t sure what she was doing was sensible. In fact, she was fairly sure that it wasn’t. But she felt like she was in freefall and maybe this would somehow make something feel better.

Tristan didn’t stop her when she tugged his hand and pulled him towards her. He only resisted to pull her sideways onto his own bed rather than Hugo’s.

Lily pulled her dress over her head as soon as they lay down. Tristan rolled over her and kissed her with surprising gentleness. She dug her nails into his back and pulled him closer.

His hair was damp and soft from the shower, and Lily ran her fingers through it. He kissed her forehead and her cheeks and her neck, and felt so reassuringly heavy and solid on top of her that the tension she’d been exploding with immediately dissipated.

Afterwards, Tristan wrapped her up in the Quidditch blanket spread over his bed and pulled her into his arms. He smoothed the sweat-slicked hair back from her forehead and kissed the top of her ear.

Lily nuzzled into his neck and breathed him in, letting him make her feel better.

She couldn’t even be bothered to feel embarrassed when Hugo walked in.

Her cousin was out of breath and looked worried. He was clearly surprised when he saw Lily with Tristan, but he didn’t comment on it.

“I’ve been looking for you,” he said, bending down to hold his knees while he caught his breath. “Isidore said you were upset about Paige and Lysander. I’m sorry. I should have stayed with you last night. I can’t believe she did that.”

Lily sat up, keeping Tristan’s blanket around her. She chewed her lip.

“I’m going to have a shower,” Hugo said. “I’ll, erm, let you get dressed. And then we can talk about it?”

Lily nodded.

Hugo raised an eyebrow at Tristan and disappeared into the bathroom.

When the sound of the shower came on, Tristan turned to Lily. He looked tired.

“Something happened with your friends last night? With Paige and Lysander?”

“Yes.” Lily didn’t provide any details.

Tristan sighed, then sat up and pulled on a pair of tracksuit bottoms from his floor. Lily reached out to run a hand over his midriff, and he shrugged her away.

“I’m going to go for a run,” he told her. “You can talk to Hugo.”

“I’ll find you later?” Lily suggested.

Tristan laughed and shook his head.

“No,” he said. “No, I don’t think so.”

“You don’t want to see me?” Lily was surprised by how crushed she felt.

Tristan rolled his eyes. “I don’t know why I’m surprised, really. I wasn’t sure why you were interested in me in the first place. We don’t exactly move in the same circles. But I can’t be bothered with this bullshit, Lily. I don’t have the time to be used like this. I’m not going to be someone you run to whenever you’re not getting enough validation elsewhere.”

He stood up and tugged a hoody over his head, leaving Lily curled up on the bed to contemplate his words. She was startled to find tears blurring the edges of her vision.

Tristan frowned and reached out to ruffle her hair.

“Look,” he said. “I’m not a terrible person. You’re clearly dealing with some difficult stuff and I don’t want to be part of that. It would be different if it was just something casual, and we have fun together, but I’m not going to play this role in your life.”

Lily nodded, embarrassed by the tears starting to run down her cheeks.

Tristan bent down and retrieved her dress from the floor. She held up her arms and let him pull it down over her shoulders. He was gentle as he fastened the buttons running up her chest, and he pulled her into a tight hug when he was finished.

She lifted her head and watched him through her tears, and he kissed her forehead.

“I’m here for you, yeah?” He said, releasing her from the hug. “When you’re ready for an uncomplicated friendship without all the other stuff, I’m here. Or, you know, if you get your act together and decide you want back on the Quidditch team, I’ll help you lead a mutiny against Scamander.”

He nudged her shoulder and Lily laughed.

Tristan reached down and wiped away her tears, then kissed the top of her head one more time.

“You’ll be okay, Lily,” he told her. “I’m just not what you need right now. And, well, you're not exactly what I need either. This isn't who I am.”

Lily watched him leave and then wrapped herself up in his blanket again, wishing she’d dressed in something warmer. The pillow smelt like him. Even though she knew he was right, and knew that she’d been using him for the wrong reasons, she still felt comforted.

When Hugo came out of the shower, she was crying again.

He didn’t ask her to explain herself, and just lay down next to her and squeezed her hand.

When her tears had finally given up and she felt calmer again, Hugo turned to face her.

“I know this isn’t a good time, and I feel bad even bringing this up, but can I talk to you about something?”

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