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The Name of the Game by Violet Gryfindor
Chapter 1: Lydia & Her Wickham
or, Lydia & Her Wickham
Of course I knew that my cousin still loved him. That was the whole draw, you see: to prove that, for once, I was better than Rose. She never said anything about what had happened between them, so there couldn’t be anything between them, right? Nothing permanent, I mean, nothing leading toward that walk down the aisle.
I vowed at the age of four-and-three-quarters to get married before Rose.
And now that’s just what’s going to happen.
He knew me from Hogwarts, seeing that I have so many prominent relatives. It would be difficult not to know Lily Luna Potter. See that last name? A very difficult one to forget, especially if you’re a Malfoy.
So I set my sights on getting Scorpius Malfoy for myself. I thought we could make a splendid couple. Our appearances were highly complimentary, and he understood the kind of life I expected for someone of my standing. He had the class; I had the money. It was a match made in Camelot. And it will be absolutely perfect.
“You look beautiful, Lily.” Even Mum can manage to be proud. Finally putting beauty over all those other useless virtues.
“She looks like a prostitute.”
I whipped around on the stool. Albus. Of course it was him, still fighting on the wrong side, thinking that he could stop this and repair Rose’s broken heart. More like repair her wounded ego.
“Thanks, Al. And you look like a Death Eater.”
Now Mum was up and upset again. Isn’t it fantastic to have brothers? And mothers? And family? Alone, I could be far more successful. Take over the world, for instance. Or – slow down, Lily, one thing at a time – remove Rose Weasley from the face of the planet. From the things I’d been hearing....
“Now that’s the thing to say when you’re marrying a Malfoy.”
Albus crossed his arms in his black robes, black socks, black boots, and black everything else. I hadn’t known that there was supposed to be a funeral today.
“Don’t remind me,” Mum was muttering to herself. A great bit of help she was being.
I stared at the door, at the clock, wanting to forget about them. Soon I would be with Scorpius. No one could interfere with that.
“You can’t let this happen, Lily.” Albus was now standing in front of me, glaring down and looking eerily like our glorified father.
I turned back to the mirror, reaching for some more powder. All those stupid freckles–
“Albus, please, let her be.” Mum was being pathetic today, trying to make everyone calm and comfortable, barely covering her hypocrisy. I could see it in her face, hear it in her voice. I knew what insincerity was like. It was my sort of thing.
“Can you both go, actually?” I clenched my fists. It would ruin my manicure if they stayed any longer.
“Mom, you’re not making things better.”
She flared up at this, but I avoided her eyes in the mirror, listened to her tirade and Albus’s interruptions, then sighed a gigantic breath of relief when they finally, FINALLY! closed the door behind them.
Have I mentioned how awfully annoying it is to have family?
Soon, that will change.
Yes, yes, that’s why I should think about. Getting married and being rich and famous and happy and absolutely perfect. What more could a girl like me ask for?
When I looked in the mirror again, I could see myself with him, or rather, watching him. That was how it began between him and I, that first glance that just had to be love at first sight. There was a party, and to no surprise, I was invited. Roxanne had arranged it, being in the business of knowing people like she did. With a body like hers, it would be hard imagining that she didn’t know people. The right people, that is.
Of course I was jealous of her, but it’s all in the genes, I guess, and mine are lacking a little. It’s a good thing that I take after Dad’s mum and not Mum’s mum.
Now that would be a travesty.
Anyway, I chatted a bit here and drank a bit there and saw him across the room. I’d never seen a wizard dressed so well. Not that I would ever see one, being related to the worst-dressing brothers in the country. James has no concept of colour, while Albus couldn’t care what he wore as long as it was serviceable. Honestly, can you imagine such a thing?
But this wizard, oh, the way he was dressed! Robes of luxurious fabric in a shade of pewter that matched his eyes. Shoes of Italian leather that seemed sculpted to his feet. There was a single gold drop in one ear and a large emerald ring on his opposite hand. He was a prince of fashion, the ruler of the room.
And he was looking at me.
Of course I wasn’t surprised that he was. They say that red hair is becoming a rarity, and my very particular shade of auburn couldn’t be found south of Scotland. Rose had more orange hair, just like a carrot, of a thicker texture. How proud I was not to have gotten that mop on my head. I would have resorted to the dye bottle to remedy such a horror.
“Hello, Miss Potter. Very nice to see you again.”
So he did remember me from school! Oh, this was brilliant.
I fluttered my eyes, glad that the champagne had forced me into a delicate blush.
“If it isn’t Scorpius Malfoy! It’s been ages!”
He smiled down at me, his teeth a stunning white.
“Those ages have only improved you, Miss Potter.”
My breath was rushing through my lungs, against which my heart pounded.
“Oh, please, it’s Lily.”
I put out my hand for a shake – the normal thing to do, you know – and he bent down instead. Every part of me shivered as his lips caressed the back of my hand, tongue flicking out for a taste of my skin.
“Then hello, Lily.”
He drew out the syllables of my name, that same tongue tasting my name.
As he released my hand, he ran his fingers along mine, tracing the veins and bones and flesh until letting go, releasing me into the crowd, cast away and adrift until he returned to drop his net and entrap me once more.
I could see that moment as clear as my own reflection in the mirror, and it made me happy to remember all the things we’d done together, all the things we were together. I was really happy. Really very happy to be marrying him, making all of this official. And I wasn’t going to let any of my meddlesome odious family get in the way of that. I deserved to be happy after everything I’ve had to put up with from them. Some advice for you: never, ever be the youngest in a family, especially when your elder siblings are male. If it happens, you might as well give up right away.
The smell of the flowers made me sniffle in rebellion. Awful things they were, those lilies. They had too much smell to them, overpowering everything thing else around them, trying too hard to be noticed.
All they wanted me to do was toss them out the window.
Scorpius had known better than to give me lilies. And roses, for that matter. Now those are ugly flowers. So over-admired, and for what reason?
I looked into the mirror and admired myself instead.
But never as much as Scorpius admired me.
Every time we were together, I felt as though I was floating in a void, off in the deepest corner of the universe. He could make me fly that high, take me into a place I had never been before and could not go without him. It was the most perfect feeling that I could have, and he gave it to me whenever we were together. The scattered moments when no one was home and no one could find us.
The secrecy all came from him, though I was the one who’d suffer more if this became known: Oh yes, Lily has been spending all her free time with Rose’s old boyfriend, you know, the one we thought she’d end up marrying?
Cue Mum’s shocked expression: A Malfoy? You’ve been with a Malfoy?
Dad would frown and say nothing. He knew better than to disagree with Mum. Voldemort had nothing on her when she was in a temper.
So it was best to remain silent.
Not to say that it was an easy thing. The opportunity to gloat often came up, and it took an awful lot of will power to say nothing. Scorpius was proud, though, and that was what mattered most. I would have done anything for him. To keep him.
It didn’t take much to learn how. I had him the first time we–
His bedroom. The curtains spilling light across the bed, where we lay, fully clothed, but already halfway to–
“It’s more fun this way, wouldn’t you agree?” He whispered this in my ear, breath tickling the hairs on my cheek. He brought his lips to the nape of my neck, teasing the delicate skin. “All this acting, this game of pretend. You like it, don’t you?”
I laughed, pulling closer to him until his hand touched my leg, running upwards, higher and higher.
Now he laughed, a low chuckle that sent shivers down my spine.
“You’re not new to this. You’re too pretty to be untouched.” He bent over me, pushing me flat against the bed.
He sounded so certain that I couldn’t disagree.
“Oh.” I tilted my head in what had to be an alluring pose. “It was always such a rush, you know. Most of them are too eager for it.”
A stray finger of his traced lines down my throat, tracing the neckline of my robes.
“Then we’re lucky we have the time.”
The way he spoke was perfect, measured, as though he’d done it all before. Not that I would remind him of Rose by asking how many times he’d done it with her. Knowing Rose, probably never. She was like that, sneaking about at school like she thought nobody knew when everybody did.
Not like this with him and me. Nothing could be more different.
When he kissed me again, I was too happy to drown beneath him, floundering under his love for me. Not her. Me. It was like I could still feel his touch along the inside of my thigh, across my cheek, running down my chest. I laughed aloud, nerves tingling with delight. Tonight. Tomorrow. Always. We would never have to be apart again. My perfect, handsome Scorpius and I.
A knock at the door shook me out of the mood, and I glared into the mirror at the door. Stupid person, disturbing me now. I picked up a powder puff and smashed it against my cheeks to hide the flush.
“What?” My voice was almost a shriek. That anyone could shake out that feeling was monstrous, awful, absolutely horrible!
“Five minutes, Lily.” It was her mother. Of course. She always had the worst timing.
Not like his mother was any different. I could still hear the fear in Scorpius’s voice when the door of Malfoy Manor opened when it shouldn’t have.
“What was that?”
Scorpius turned his face to look at the door, tearing his lips from mine.
“What was what?”
I reached up to guide his face back toward me, but he resisted.
He pulled away, slipping out from under me and bending down for his robes. We weren’t in his bedroom like we usually were, so he was probably just being paranoid. Being caught snogging a Potter in the sitting room really couldn’t be a nice thing for his parents.
Well, it was a bit more than snogging. It wasn’t always like this. I mean, we weren’t rabbits or anything. But this time, when he had let me in, something clicked and we kissed and kissed again and you know what it’s like. Better to leave the talk for later when the moment hits you like that. And it had.
Now, however, even I was thinking about how stupid it was to be on the sofa, me on his lap, neither of us wearing anything more than underwear, and even that was starting to go.
“I’ll check.” His face had become harder, unyielding, but then he looked back and winked. “Wait for me, will you? Just as you are.” His eyes looked me up and down, admiring what they saw.
Under his gaze, I brought my knees up to my chest, feeling everything turn red, a silly family trait. When I heard his voice and another woman’s, I moved toward the door, leaving my robes back, tossed over some chair. They were speaking lightly, so what was there to worry about? If Mrs. Malfoy – that’s who it had to be – waltzed in here, it’d be a good excuse to get Scorpius to propose. I mean, the way today’d been going had to mean something....
“...just came down when I heard you, Mother. I was getting ready for a bath.”
“Why Scorpius, it wasn’t at all necessary to come see me. I’d only popped in for a moment.” His mother’s voice was like silk. I could picture her there in the hall, her makeup, her clothes, her hair.... oh, her hair! I would have dyed my hair that shade of blonde just to have a bit of her elegance.
“Were you out in the garden again, dear?” Mrs. Malfoy continued. “If the girls could see you now, you’d never have to worry about marriage. They would be lining up.”
I blinked, having absolutely no idea what she was talking about. Scorpius, working in a garden? That was a disgusting thought, all that mud and... dirt. Ew, dirt. I hated dirt. I still hate dirt. But Mrs. Malfoy had to be referring to the... well... we had been... active for some minutes, and he must have built up a sweat. It turned his hair a luscious gold and made his skin look like that of a Greek god.
The very thought of it made me sigh and I went back to the sofa, laying back with my hair loose around me. Thoughts very full of him, I didn’t hear him slip back into the room, nor did I hear him cross over to me until he leaned over, eyes tracing the lines of my body, those same lines that his fingers would trace next–
“Come, upstairs before she leaves again. She’s always bursting in here to look at something.” He reached over for my clothes, then before I could rise, scooped me up in his arms. “We’ll take the back stair.”
He looked around each corner, crept up the stairs with slow, even steps, never losing his breath, though it was fast, his lungs and heart pumping against me, and I could feel the wetness of his chest. It was too easy to be lost in the moment, the perfect romantic moment of intrigue and the closeness of our bodies, still poised to continue what we’d started. What I didn’t think about was why the secrecy, so extreme. It seemed to make him more attentive, more attractive, making him more real than any fantasy.
The memory of that was even more sweet, the feel of his arms grasping me to his chest was so strong. I could still smell him, the strange and familiar smell of his body each time we were together, even stronger as he carried me up to his room. The aftermath of that was brilliant, his love pouring over me, surrounding me, pouring into me each time our lips met. Just like the best part of a romance novel.
It was also the perfect time for a proposal. It was so obvious that we were perfect for each other. I bet that Rose couldn’t have satisfied him like that. She would have put on her clothes and, as soon as Mrs. Malfoy was out of sight, left the house.
No, wait. She wouldn’t even have been on that sofa in that sitting room. It just wasn’t like her.
I tossed my head, the hair coming to rest in sill-perfect waves, the jewels within it sparkling in the strong light from my dressing table. I admired myself in the mirror, the eyes a milky chocolate, the skin as smooth and pure as ivory, the lips full and scarlet. There could be nothing here to displease my almost-husband.
It’s actually tempting to call him my husband already. Anyway, it’s only a ceremony that’s needed now. The other thing was long since dealt with.
Then the knock came again at the door, the voice now a little more worried.
“Lily? You are still in there. Answer me.”
I made a face to the mirror, but responded in the sweetest lily-like voice.
“Just a bit longer, Mum. Just touching up.”
Her sigh was obvious. “Well, hurry up. We have to go soon.”
And get this over with, I knew she wanted to add. If I hadn’t been of age, she and Dad would have put a stop to all this long ago, as soon as they’d found out. Now that was a time I didn’t want to think about, and I wouldn’t. Today was not about them, but me. Scorpius and me who was to become Mrs. Scorpius Malfoy.
There was one sour memory of him and me together. It happened that same day when his mother had come home on us. I pulled the covers of his bed over us, the winter light bothering me with its blank coldness. I shivered.
“Are you cold, love?” he whispered. “I can resolve that issue easily.” His eyes devoured me in the half-shade left by the covers. He arched his back, making them lift higher, letting in the light.
I didn’t think he’d take well to me explaining the coldness of the light. Too fanciful, he’d say, or he’d think me modest, Merlin forbid.
“We’ve never tried it with them before, and they’re very soft, don’t you think?”
He laughed, as he always did when I wouldn’t say what we were doing directly.
“I think you’re softer, my sweet, beautiful Lily.”
He was not one for endearments, but they became part of that afternoon, his voice in my ear, tickling the tiny hairs, his words pressed into my skin, lips moving against the flesh in variations of my name and the other things he called me, all beautiful, all more poetic than the best of poems. He spoke into every inch of my body as I lay there, entranced by the power he held over me and that I gave into entirely.
The sun moved past his window, leaving us in shadow, his hands and mouth reaching out blindly as I moved to catch them. We laughed together, rolling, almost playing beneath the covers. I started to evade him, challenging him to find me in the cavern that was his bed. His laughter grew louder, more boyish, as he grabbed at my ankles and shoulders, pulling me down for a kiss when he could manage it.
Then it happened.
He called me something new.
My cry echoed so loud that he covered my mouth, holding me tightly to him, other arm around my waist, his legs intertwined with mine. After some moments, he spoke.
“It’s getting late. You should go soon.”
No apology, no admitting that he’d made a mistake. He pretended that nothing had happened, that we’d had our time, and not it was get dressed and go before someone else comes home or someone misses you.
His face was closed to me, a rock with glittering stones for eyes. They still watched me as I crawled out of his grasp and picked up my clothes from the floor. There was no softness in his voice when he said goodbye at the back door, no kiss, either. His face didn’t move from that one expression of nothingness.
The next day, he asked me to marry him.
And, not wanting to take any chances with him now, I said yes.
No regrets now, even after all the things that have happened since Rose came back from wherever in the world she chose to waste her life. I was just happy to see how ugly she’d become, all hardened and shrivelled like an old woman. Even my mother doesn’t look that bad. And, you know what? Rose came back expecting Scorpius to go running back to her. Like I was going to let that happen.
She let him go. I picked him up. Finders keepers, as they say.
But it still irked me that she even existed. It was obvious that Scorpius loved me better. So what if he’d slipped up in bed. He had probably been tired, or gotten worked up by what we were doing. It’d all been very childish, anyway, like it was going to turn into a pillow fight. When it was just plain us together, he never said her name. Must have been one of those repressed memories that people talk about. She hurt him, and he’s scarred by that.
I didn’t let that name thing bother me at all. The next day, he proposed, then it was forgotten. He had to love me more, otherwise he wouldn’t have done that, right?
I certainly didn’t doubt it.
He started taking me to Paris. No complaints there, except that nothing happened. Between us, I mean. We went to dinner, expensive and showy, but no kisses on the hand or lingering glances. Then we went for a walk. My first time in Paris! But even beneath the shadiest of trees, he wouldn’t stop to kiss me. He held my arm, nothing more, like one of those old fashioned gentlemen.
It was like we were doing this whole relationship thing backwards. The further along we got toward marriage, the less he would touch me, or show anything past politeness. Paris was the first major thing he’d done since that afternoon when he’d called me that name. It had somehow ruined things between us, the memory of her drifting across his vision. It only got worse once she arrived and he saw her.
But it’s too late for both of them. I won’t let him be snatched away by that annoying independent cousin of mine. She didn’t deserve him. She didn’t need him like I did.
I stared into the mirror. Now I looked miserable. Great. Just great. The very thought of Rose and Scorpius together, sneaking behind my back like me and Scorpius had done behind everyone else’s backs. She could convince him to return to her, his first love, the one who had broken his heart. I wouldn’t let him get hurt again. He would marry me and that was that.
I told myself to stop thinking about that awful being on my wedding day. She wasn’t going to come, so it didn’t matter what she thought.
Better to think about last night.
He came to see me at Molly’s apartment, and being a good sort of relative, she disappeared to find something better to do. Scorpius and I sat on the sofa, talking about what we would do and where we’d end up living – all the practical things that he liked to think about – and then there was a pause. He stared out the window, still as a statue.
I put a hand on his leg, shifting closer so that our bodies met.
“How quiet it is.”
He looked over at me. “Yes. It’s a nice place.”
I pressed harder against him, my hand moving higher. “Do you remember–?”
His mouth twitched. “Yes. Hard to forget.”
Forget what? What part of that day stuck with him most? So I asked him. No point in waiting for him to say it because he wouldn’t.
He twined his arm around my waist and turned his body to face me, one foot rubbing against my legs. I touched his cheek, staring into his eyes, knowing that he had just been hiding his feelings from everyone else, not me. He couldn’t let them think that he could love anyone. Malfoys weren’t supposed to fall in love, to marry for love.
But Scorpius was going to change that.
I tugged at his robes. “The sofa was a perfect spot.”
His mouth twitched again, finally breaking into a smile, his arm tightening around me.
“This one seems even better. I like the window.”
We looked out onto the Thames, the sunset’s glow still resting on the murky water, the buildings in silhouette. There were other flats close by, their windows facing onto this one, but the lights were off in our flat. No one would see. I could barely see him now that the sun had dropped below the horizon. I could only feel his limbs twined around mine, his breath on my shoulder, now bare, his free hand quickly undoing the buttons of my robes. I shrugged out of them, letting them slip to the floor as he pushed me down beneath him.
“You will be a perfect wife.” His lips hung over mine.
Only after we kissed, long and deep, his robes joining mine, did he add, “And mother.”
I closed my mouth, but did not push him away, knowing that I wasn’t strong enough.
He bent down close to my ear..
“I know, Lily.”
One hand touched my stomach, caressing the skin.
“There’s nothing to know.” I struggled against him.
He grabbed my wrists, pining them to the sofa, and laughed, kissing me once again. It was less sweet, less intoxicating as I went over all the little things I had noticed, but pushed aside as silly. It didn’t seem right, though, that I couldn’t have known. Yet, at the same time, it wasn’t like I had spent time with anyone who could have noticed.
But how long–?
“The first of many.” Scorpius loosened my hands, pulling them to his lips. “It’s not right for a pureblood to want... no, need his wife so intensely.”
Many? I imagined what my figure would look like after a dozen children.
Rather like Grandmum’s.
But leave that for now. Did he say that he needed me? Intensely?
Now that was something I liked to hear. I cupped his face in my hands, taking in sharp breaths as he kissed one, his tongue following the lines on my palm, then moving down my wrist, teasing the delicate skin.
It was at that moment when a strange thought hit me. Had he thought of Rose as a perfect mother? Had he told her that they would have lots of children? Had he even told her that needed her with every fibre of his being? Well, maybe not in those exact terms, but you see my meaning.
When he looked at me, who did he see? Or was it easier for him in the darkness to forget that I was Lily and pretend that I was Rose?
We always were together in the daytime, the afternoons. He could always see me as me, the darker hair, the slighter figure, but that day, under the covers, as his bedroom became darker, who had he seen?
And just then, in the darkness of Molly’s flat, the city wide below us, I doubted him.
He never noticed, his tongue and hands exploring my body with all the enthusiasm of those times weeks ago.
Those times when he was trying to forget Rose.
And he had failed.
I glared into the mirror, fists clenched, the memory’s sourness refusing to fade. The wedding was due to start soon. I could hear Mum’s foot tapping endlessly outside. She would be silent, maybe hoping that I wouldn’t come out, that I’d change my mind.
But I wouldn’t.
If it was the last thing I did, I would marry him and have his child, and make him be mine. Even if he only loved Rose, not me, it didn’t matter because I would be the perfect wife. I would be Mrs. Malfoy, elegant, pristine. I would prove to him that all he ever wanted was me, his loving, obedient wife.
Jaw set, I blinked, and the image in the mirror changed. My face in the reflection wasn’t my face anymore. It was widening, the eyes becoming lighter, freckles appearing across my nose and cheeks, the hair growing lighter, shorter. She was still wearing my dress, my jewellery, but she wasn’t me. We were so different from each other. Nothing was the same between us.
Except for one.
Last night, he had left the flat earlier than I’d thought he would, bidding me good night with a lingering kiss. Was he going to see her? Sneaking off to have one last chance with the girl he really loved, but couldn’t have?
She was the one he’d first meant to marry. And now he’d settled for me instead.
I stared at her in the mirror and she stared back.
Then she smiled, perfect satisfaction playing across her lips, as though she and him had experienced the time of their lives together. A time just like that one afternoon.
My nails dug into my palms, my face contorted at the feeling of it. But that wasn’t enough. The mirror, her face, that smile, I couldn’t stand it any longer. I couldn’t sit there and see her face, not when I was in this dress, this thing growing inside of me. His.
The mirror smashed.
People entered the room, their faces smudges against the white ceiling. They spoke to me, wrapped up my bleeding hands, one so seriously cut that someone ran from the room, maybe for the Healer.
I sat, silent and still, until I saw a shard of mirror beside me, her face still smiling back at my hands, the blood showing through the makeshift bandages.
How red, like a... like a...
The title is from an ABBA song, keeping in theme with "Winner Takes All". The subtitle refers to Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" - the way I've characterized both Lily and Scorpius purposely mirrors the Wickham/Lydia situation of that novel.
This story was a troubling one to write, with the way that Lily manipulates and allows herself to be manipulated all for the sake of beating Rose at something. Writing her in the first person was the worst part, but it was also the only way to write her without judging her, perhaps even to write her and understand her.