She had to pull ginger curls out of her mouth after the wind had tossed them across her face, but Lily would never give up the feeling of being tousled by the breeze. The joy of not worrying about where her next step should go because at any moment the world would sway and send her in an entirely different direction.
Rose had been right the month before, Lily had been running. However, that weekend shifted something in her. She forgave Scorpius, the two were back to the friendly bickering they always enjoyed.
She wasn’t running anymore, she was floating along a rushing current, but her cousin could never understand the difference. Rose wanted to force her will onto her life. To demand change and instigate progress so that she could avoid struggle; avoid pain. Of course that didn’t work for her, it would never work out for anyone. Lily understood the freedom in just letting life happen; in making peace with the inevitability of pain.
She spent most of her nights out with the usual crowd, a crowd that only recently included a certain Scamander. And of all people, Scorpius was the one who kept inviting him along. She was sure it was some sort of test and was determined to pass it. She made a conscious effort not to flirt and was a little surprised at how little he hit on her. A couple weeks in she decided she didn’t care why Scorp kept letting him tag-along, Lysander intrigued her and she wanted to know him better.
She’d thought him naive before waking up in his bed, but now she knew it wasn’t that he lacked guile. Instead he seemed to have no desire for it. Lysander’s world was seen through rose-colored glasses; the rain was something to dance in and losing a match meant he’d have more reason to drink a second pint.
Lily spit her curls out again after spotting her sister-in-law waving her down from three rows up.
The Cannons were playing Puddlemere United that morning, which didn’t mean anything to most fans, but it was torture for her brother. Albus had grown up an avid Puddlemere supporter, but his best mate Scorpius decided to play for the Cannons, so now he had to split his loyalties once a year.
Charlotte greeted the youngest Potter with a kiss on both cheeks.
“How’s our Albus doing this morning?”
“He decided he’d wear a Harpie’s scarf to not offend either team.”
Both women laughed at Al’s expense as they made their way to where he was sitting.
“LP! You made it! Scorp said you’d be stuck at the Ministry this weekend.”
Albus wrapped his sister into a bear hug and tangled her in his yellow scarf.
“If I had good sense I would be,” she spun her way out of the embrace and they all took their seats, “I have a thesis to turn in by next week, but I couldn’t miss watching your internal struggle every time someone scored a goal.”
The teams took the pitch and Charlotte noticed Lily’s attention dart their way.
“That’s what you couldn’t miss, yeah?”
Lily felt heat rush to her cheeks before looking down at her hands. She welcomed the usual pomp and circumstance of a match opening to draw everyone’s attention back to the pitch.
Once the game had started, everyone fell into their normal rhythms. Albus shouted positive encouragement to both teams, Charlotte chatted with strangers around her, and Lily
took every opportunity to shout at the officials for calls that were probably correct.
It was a couple hours later when Lysander caught Lily’s eye again. He made a couple plays for the snitch early on, but now was just hovering near the goalposts watching the sky, “counting clouds again…”
She didn’t realize she’d spoken her thoughts until Albus asked her what she was talking about.
“Hmm? Oh, it’s just…” Lily shrugged and nodded at the Cannon seeker, “our seeker can be a bit of a daydreamer is all.”
Suddenly Lysander’s arm stretched up toward the sun and he grabbed onto something that nearly tore him off his broom. Instead of falling, he spun around three times and was left hanging upside down when he proudly extended his arm to reveal the snitch between his thumb and forefinger.
The crowds leapt to their feet in excitement and confetti rained down on them as the Cannons team surrounded their seeker and helped him back on top of his broom. They took laps around the pitch in celebration, while Albus wrapped his Harpies scarf tighter around his neck as if to assert his neutral position.
“Scorp kept telling me that kid was brilliant. I didn’t believe him.”
“He hides it well doesn’t he?”
Lily asked more to herself than either of her companions.
After the crowds had left for home, the team set off fireworks at the pitch. They were drinking and carrying on as if they had all won a world cup. That night they were conquerors.
Lily lost track of her family half-way through the celebrations and spent the night dancing with one of the beaters, Louis. He spun her around and she caught a glimpse of Scorpius chatting up a brunette near the edge of the pitch. Her heart lifted a bit at the prospect of his happiness and then sunk when she remembered that it meant Rose still hadn’t reached out to him. She was about to spiral into a melancholy quandary of questioning her choice to keep it from him when another familiar figure caught her eye and then Kit caught her staring. The music’s tempo slowed and he took her hand to pull her close as they started to sway.
“Been a while…”
He whispered into her ear softly. It sent a tickle down her back and she pulled back a half-step,
“What are you doing Kit?” Lily made sure to meet his eyes, “This isn’t going to happen.”
His charming features seemed more pronounced in the glow of the floating lanterns and occasional firework. He smirked before pulling her close to him again, moving a hand to just below the small of her back.
“Everytime this happens, you say it isn’t going to happen.”
She hated how comfortable his touch felt against her and tried to find her new sense of confidence. Then she pressed into him so her cheek brushed against the scruff on his chin before whispering matter-of-factly, “This time I mean it.” She pulled away again and moved his hand three inches higher.
“So stern.” He teased, “He’s really got you spinning, huh?”
On cue, he spun her away,
“Now what are you on about?”
“Don’t play dumb, Lily. It’s unflattering on you.” He gave her hand a squeeze before spinning her back to him. “Just be gentle will ya? When you get bored of him.” He nodded his head off toward the goal posts, “He’s clumsy enough as it is. We don’t need him heartbroken too.”
Lily couldn’t resist looking in the direction he gestured, spotting a shadow laying in the sand under the goal posts.
“You’re an arse.”
She was still swaying in rhythm with Kit, but her eyes were now fixed on the shadow in the distance.
“Probably. Still,” His calloused hand turned her chin back to him, “I’m the one you keep coming back to...The only one you don’t parade in front of the press.”
“One public humiliation from you was enough, thanks.”
“There’s that wit.” He smirked again coyly as his thumb traced over her bottom lip and Lily hated herself for enjoying it. “I get it, ya know. He’s sweet, funny - different from the company you usually keep...but I’ll be here when you want that feeling back.”
“What feeling is that?”
Lily’s voice shook a bit, but she twisted herself out of his touch and he let his hand fall to his side, taking hers and holding it at his chest as they spun around quicker than the music called for.
“Being out of control. Being caught up in a current or spinning in a storm.” They slowed again before Kit dipped Lily back, “You want danger in your life.”
The crowd around them started clapping at their over the top display and Kit pulled Lily back into him once again. She wanted to shove him away; but she also didn’t want to leave. She wanted to slap him across his arrogant face, but a part of her wanted to kiss it.
“Don’t ever speak to me like that again.”
She let go of his hand and backed out of his hold before pushing through the crowd. She didn’t know where she was going, she just needed away from him. The truth in what Kit had said tore threw her and she felt her emotions spiraling again.
Why did she even dance with him? Why did she let him go on and on like that? Why did she keep finding herself in his arms? In his bed? She told herself it didn’t mean anything. That she was over him and their flings were just more convenient than going out and pulling someone knew - but she was disgusted with herself because the truth was that she liked when he wanted her; a piece of her still craved his acceptance.
She felt herself shudder from the tears that wanted desperately to flow out of her, but she refused to let them. She was taking in a deep, shaky breath when she spotted Sander laying in the sand beneath the goal posts. She wiped at her face, certain he’d heard her near sobs, though he didn’t make any move to suggest so.
He had his hands behind his head and was staring pensively up at the stars. He seemed to be deep in thought and Lily almost felt rude intruding on his solitude, but she also knew the joy being around him brought her - and she needed that joy right now.
She kicked her shoes off at the edge of the sand circle before lying beside him on her hip, resting her head in the crook of his elbow. He still hardly reacted to her presence, apart from wrapping his arm around her. Her eyes searched his expression as he watched the sky, imagining what it was like to see the world as he did. Trying to see the good in the conversation she just left, but she couldn’t. There wasn’t anything good about her relationship with Kit. It was toxic. She felt like a fraud laying there tucked up against Lysander. He thought she was so strong. He’d told her how much he admired her ambition and her boldness. What would he think of her if he knew it was all a charade?
He turned to meet her gaze and with a smile sent all of her insecurities away.
“You’re all right?”
His eyebrows pulled tightly together when Lily felt a tear fall off her cheek. She quickly brushed it away and took another shaky breath, “You know chances are I’m just going to hurt you...”
Bright sparks blazed through the sky again and Sander turned away to watch them.
“Brief as lighting in the collied night; so quick bright things come to confusion…”
Shades of orange and gold rained back down before fizzling out. Lily watched his eyes scan the sky with wonder, fully engrossed in the display.
“It’s from a story my mum used to read us.” Lysander said turning back to Lily, “It was my favorite for a while ‘cause one of the characters had my name. Kids can be pretty selfish that way ya know?”
Lily smiled at his boyish grin.
“The lovers in the story get put under a spell and then love the wrong people. There’s a lot of misunderstandings and mix-ups and at one point someone’s transfigured into a donkey and then there’s a play within a-” He caught himself getting off topic and reigned himself back in, “but that passage is from the start of it. Lysander- see, he’s lamenting all the perils of love..but for all their worries they all end up happy...mum wouldn’t read a story unless it ended happy.”
Butterflies chased around Lily’s stomach while she watched him smile at his memories. She had to stop underestimating him. Without thinking twice, she reached out and traced her index finger down his nose, “I really wanna kiss you...”
Lysander grinned and tapped his finger over his mouth as if to show her where her kiss should go. Lily smirked and leaned in, pressing her lips onto his in a quick peck.
It was so innocent, like children playing pretend, and it made Lily giggle in the same way. He brushed some sand off her cheek and his hand just rested there, holding her. It wasn’t the forceful gesture that Kit had made. He held her delicately, like she was a butterfly that might fly away at any moment and holding too tightly would damage one of her wings. She’d forgotten to inhale when he pulled her lips onto his again.
She expected to be caught up in a passionate embrace, to have his hands search her body feverishly and her lips biting at his ear while they rolled in the sand - but instead, Sander’s lips melted into hers slowly. His hand never left her cheek. It was fragile and intimate. When he pulled away, she found herself trying to follow him so it didn’t have to end. They lingered there for a moment, until Lysander shook his head left and right to brush his nose against hers in a childish eskimo kiss that made them both laugh.
He smiled widely before laying his head back in the sand and staring back up at the stars. Lily laid her head on his chest and watched the silhouettes of strangers dancing under the lanterns across the pitch. For the first time in a long time, she was happy to not be surrounded by the lights, the music, the people and worrying silently that her contentment had an expiration date.
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