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Deep Breaths by LittleWelshGirl99
Chapter 1: Red
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It was the day Hogwarts expelled me.
All I remember feeling was a vague sense of disappointment actually, because it really wasn’t as monumental as I had imagined this would be. There weren’t any ominous thunder clashes filling the sky overhead, or lightning striking the ground ahead of me; not even a spot of lovely torrential rain to drench me as I toddled off down the road. In fact, it was a sickeningly cheerful looking day- the kind of day that made people want to beam and act all happy-fappy and lovey-dovey.
There wasn’t even a huge crowd of nosy Hogwarts students watching from the hallway, as I walked miserably out of the enormous double doors, because everyone was still in lessons. I briefly considered taking a leaf out of my Uncle’s book and letting off a trunk load of fireworks right about then, just to get any of my friends to notice that I was being expelled here and at least have some sort of mini-triumph to remember fondly when I was grey and old. But nope. I had no fireworks on me. How positively depressing.
Instead of a legendary illegal broomstick flight out of the window to tumultuous rounds of applause and cheering, like Fred and George Weasley, all I got was a few of the Professors- who were sipping tea from chipped mugs and chatting among themselves, as if a student being expelled was just a normal, everyday occurrence. I could imagine them gossiping about the experience later on in the staff room over a nice plate of biscuits. “Ah yes Winifred, guess what? I had the most delightful cup of tea this morning as I sent Lily Potter packing. It had just the right amount of sugar in it, know what I mean?” And then Winifred, whoever she was, would probably say something like,
“Oh really Doris? And what brand of tea bag did you use?”
So I suppose you must be wondering what sort of atrocious crime got me chucked out of the school that even my grandfather, James Potter, wasn’t expelled from. And he was a Marauder. And no, it wasn’t because McGonagall found out about the midnight yoga classes I taught. Or the butterfly farm Hagrid had helped me start up in the forest. It wasn’t even because I’d managed to single-handedly destroy every cauldron in the potions department during my career as Hogwarts’ resident academic failure.
I had been a little low in cash, you see. I needed some more whisperbanana skins for my butterflies, and mats for the yoga classes (I was planning on making it school-wide. Expand my horizons, you know? Because before then I’d only had about five students, all of whom I’d bribed to come along). So I took evasive action.
I sold the Marauder’s Map.
Gasp. Shock. Horror, I know! And believe me, I was as confused as anyone else- it was our family’s property, wasn’t it? So how could they expel me for that? I didn’t even know how they knew I’d sold it.
But it turned out that a new law had been passed after the war finished, claiming any powerful war artefacts as under ‘official Ministry Protection’, which basically meant they weren't allowed to be sold, or damaged, or...simply? Not much could be done to them. But then if you think about it, this was basically not my fault. If someone had thought to tell me about this new-fangled law then of course I wouldn’t have sold the bloody map! I’m not that awful. But to me, it was a bit of old parchment that might’ve got me some extra cash to launch my little business- not one of the main factors that helped defeat Voldemort and the reason that hundreds of people, myself included, are even alive today.
But now my family were probably going to murder me, I’d been expelled from school by people who were obviously all too pleased to see me go, and was still as penniless as beforehand- just without the additional bonus of a school-wide yoga business or butterfly farm.
How annoyingly dire.
I was sweating profusely as I finally reached Hogsmeade. It was a mixture of the unusually warm sun and the thick, Gryffindor robes that I was still wearing. I tore them off quickly as it all started to fully sink in. There was no going back now. No more homework, detentions, stress or drama. I was free for the rest of my life!
Wait, free? Or is there some other adjective we could use here. Like lost.
But I resiliently tied my hair back into a messy ponytail and managed to get myself and a lifetime of crappy possessions to Hogsmeade Station. It took a fair amount of mopey shoving, frustrated stomping and unearthly shrieks of,
“Why, God? WHY?” to the heavens.
And then another complication arose. I had no money for a train ticket home.
I was of the personal opinion that they should just give me a free ticket- I mean, I was probably going to be in a coffin by this evening anyway so there was absolutely no point in the ticket-people delaying my imminent death because of such a flimsy, material thing as money.
But I didn’t think they’d agree with me.
Then I thought about the money I’d got for the Marauder’s Map, stashed away inside a sock (yes, my dad passed on several traits to his poor children). It seemed ironic to have to use it to pay for the ticket that got me home, after being expelled because I even had the money in the first place.
Was the world turning into one big sewer of slap-in-the-face irony?
But it seemed like my only option. And so I got on the train. And my last glimpse of Hogwarts was through grimy, half-steamed-up train windows, the smell of sweat filling my nostrils and dread gathering in the pit of my empty stomach.
They were all waiting for me on the platform as my train pulled into Kings Cross 10 hours later. It was dark and foggy, and I was exhausted. I hadn’t slept; I’d been far too nervous about this meeting.
James and Albus were there, looking grim. Mum had been crying. Grandma Molly had been crying. Everyone had been crying. It was ridiculous- what was there to cry about, really? It wasn’t them who’d been expelled. Dad took some of my things from me stiffly, gesturing for James and Albus to do the same. They both glared, and I shrank back inside my t-shirt.
No-one said a word. The tension could’ve been cut with a very thin object, and I imagined the elastic band of awkwardness between us being pulled tighter and tighter, occasionally putting in a nice twist for good measure.
“I’m sorry.”I blurted the two little words out.
And suddenly, PING! The elastic band snapped, rebounded, and wobbled around in the air for a bit doing strange, half-hearted bungee jumps. Mayhem ensued.
Mum burst into noisy tears, Dad began yelling something angrily, Albus argued with James and James dropped my trunk, spewing underwear and skirts across the muddy platform. I tripped over Grandma Molly and landed on my back, a sea of angry faces looming above me- screeching, crying, and arguing. Blocking out the sky.
I closed my eyes, knowing that I should just let everyone exhaust their voices on me. I assumed my favourite yoga position- plank pose. It was very easy. Lie on your back, close your eyes and breathe deeply while covering the right nostril.
I carried on taking those slow, deep breaths until someone finally noticed that I’d zoned out and shook me up. Mum turned to me, her face blotchy.
“We’ve called a family meeting. Everyone’s at the house. We’ll decide what to do with you there.”
I took a few more deep breaths. “Okay.”
I sat down on the sofa at home with a weary sigh, and someone handed me a cup of tea. They all knew how I hated tea. But whatever. I could pretend to sip it casually, and act all unbothered and hip.
Everyone had gathered like a rather overgrown flock of owls, peering through glasses and large eyes. I was the only one sitting down. How awkward. It occurred to me that I’d never felt this awkward in front of my family before. This was as awkward as the time I hiccupped for a whole day straight.
I tried to find Hugo in the crowd of Weasley-Potter-Delacours, and eventually caught his eye. He flashed me an apologetic grin. I smiled back. He was probably pretty pleased that I’d been expelled; he got to miss a few days of school while the family decided what to do. Unfortunately Albus, James, Rose, Fred, Roxanne and everyone else had already graduated from Hogwarts and there wasn’t the lure of a break from school to make them less angry with me. Hugo was and always would be my greatest ally in all things family related.
Everyone was still just looking at me. I thought that maybe I should actually say something round about now, but I had no idea what. “Again, I’m really sorry…”
“This is serious, Lily. This is bad. This is catastrophically stupendously bad.” I didn’t know who’d spoken which was a little creepy- the voice was lost somewhere in the depths of the family crowd. Maybe it was my conscience talking to me, but that wouldn’t make sense because I did actually know that this was bad and serious and catastrophic already, and didn’t need my conscience to tell me so. And anyway, I have this theory that my conscience is in fact a Martian, so I’ve vowed to never listen to it.
“Lily, I hope you’re ashamed of yourself.” I did see who was talking that time- Aunt Hermione. I blushed a suitable ashamed red colour. Then I spotted my trunk in one corner of the room, crossed over to it and pulled out the sock containing the ‘blood money’. I gave it to Dad. “Er…this is the…you know.” I fidgeted with my nails while Dad tipped the money onto the table, looking confused.
“Where’s the rest of the money? The map was priceless. Whoever you sold it to must’ve given you at least a thousand galleons.” 20 shiny, gold galleons had rolled across the table. One fell off and landed on the carpet with a dull thud. “Please don’t tell me you sold the map for 20 galleons.” Dad sounded heartbroken.
I bit my lip. “Well, I used a few galleons for a train ticket home…”
“Why did you do it, Lily?” It was Uncle Bill who had addressed me this time, as my dad continued to stare at the money on the table/floor in horror.
Now, I had actually prepared a rather long and plausible defence speech to while away the hours on the train (honestly, it was really good. I should be a lawyer), but it all kind of went out of the window precisely when I needed it most. And then of course the final dirty sock thrown onto this gargantuan pile of dirty washing was me, choking on my mouthful of scalding tea, and spewing it over the brand new cream carpet.
Our eyes met. A frosty glaring match that froze my toes took place.
“Go to your room, Lily.” Mum demanded quietly. I stood up meekly, placing the cup of tea on the coffee table carefully before sprinting up the stairs, away from the judgemental glares of my relatives.
It was several days later, and I had been confined to room arrest the entire time, burning under the shame and disappointment of my entire family and then some.
I’d done a lot of thinking over the past few days, using yoga to distract me from the hectic nightmare that my life had become. Except, that was the thing; it wasn’t a hectic nightmare. I was completely and utterly bored, and tired of being treated like a naughty kid locked in her room for stealing biscuits.
One thing I was certain of- I wasn’t staying here for much longer. I had to move out. Prove to my family that I could take care of myself; make sure I didn’t become this useless burden who’s still living with her parents when she’s 55 and going grey. Plus, I shall reinstate how boring it was around here.
Eventually everyone realised that I couldn’t stay in my room forever, and I was called down for breakfast. It wasn’t without a little bit of trepidation that I entered the kitchen, looking a real mess with my red hair sticking up in all directions and my pyjamas at squiffy angles. I glugged down about three glasses of orange juice before uttering a timid ‘good morning’ to the people round the table (Mum, Dad, James, Albus). It was a Saturday, so Dad was reading the Prophet with his feet on the table. Mum shot me a look before shoving a piece of toast into my hand and sitting me down on the nearest chair.
“We need to discuss your options,” she told me in a thick voice.
“Right.” I sighed. Straight into the intense, awkward stuff then. Was I the only person who hated doing anything remotely serious in the morning?
“You achieved average O.W.Ls at best, and now have no N.E.W.Ts. Plus the mark of…ex-expulsion on your CV. You’re completely unemployable. How could you do this to yourself, Lily?” Mum wailed.
“Can’t I just self-employ?” I asked, nibbling at the toast. Dad looked at me for the first time this morning.
“What kind of business do you want to start?”
“Well, I’ve been doing some thinking, and I have two ideas. One: I start my own butterfly farm with additional yoga classes and a knitting shop attached!” My parents paled.
“And idea number two?” Dad ran a hand through his greying hair, looking stressed.
“I become a beggar.” I nodded, then finished off my last bite of toast. Everyone stared at me, not sure whether I was being serious or not.
Unfortunately, I was.
“What?” I asked, “I could make a great beggar. I’ve planned it all out; a few bloodied bandages, rags and mud streaks, chop my hair around a bit. I’d fit right in. And beggars make a fair amount too! I sometimes peek into their bowls on Diagon Alley.”
“Lily,” James said cautiously, “The beggars usually put all their money into their bowls to encourage people to add a bit more to the pile. It’s like…if someone thinks everyone else has given the beggar something, they feel guilty and also give.”
“But how does that work if everyone’s sussed them out?” I frowned.
“That’s the point- it doesn’t work.”
I harrumphed. “Well, which option do you think I should take then?”
“Don’t you think it’d be better to consider something like…a Ministry of Magic receptionist? They earn an okay wage….” I glared at my mum.
“Can you really see me as a receptionist for the rest of my life?” I mimicked a posh voice, “Welcome to the Ministry of Magic! My name is Lily Potter, and may I take your wand for examination please?”
“Well…” Dad coughed, “What other options do you have, to be honest?”
“Options one and two! It’s like deciding between ketchup and mayonnaise! EASY! You just pick the ketchup!”
That analogy made no sense, but Albus seemed to understand it because he was nodding along. But now Mum was yelling and everyone looked uncomfortable.
“I’ll be damned if any daughter of mine ends up as a beggar on the street! You are going to have to go to the Ministry and apply for the receptionist job this afternoon!”
“So you want me to end up killing myself from boredom with all the spangly necklaces and high heels? NO WAY! NEVER! NUH-UH!” I stomped my foot for good effect like the moody teenager I still was for that second. Fab way to prove to my parents that I was mature and sensible enough to potentially move out.
“Fine,” Mum snarled, out of breath. “Do what you want. I don’t care. You got yourself into this mess, and you can bloody well get yourself out of it!”
“Lily is still underage remember, mum.” Albus chipped in, mouth full of cereal. “Can’t she just live here until she turns seventeen and stuff?”
“What?” Mum rubbed her neck, stressed. “Well…I suppose so. Didn’t think of that-“ Oh dear god, no way could I suffer here for six more months. Be ogled at by every distant and annoying Weasley aunt or uncle or great-great-thingymebob, ‘Look there’s Lily Potter the embarrassment of the Potters! She sold their map-thingy’.
I scraped my chair back and went out into the garden, wondering what the future now held for me, and desperately wishing that I could just hide under my duvet covers until this was all over.
Author’s note: So this was originally an angsty ‘oh no I’m expelled from Hogwarts dun dun dunnn!’ fic, but I decided that would be too boring and I wanted to spice things up a little and… well, you’ll see. Hopefully. If you read on (blatant nudge). I rewrote this chapter completely on the 14th June 2012, so hopefully it’s a little better! Thank you for reading (and reviews are groovy).
Chapter 2: Green
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I’d always been an ‘action’ person. As soon as I had an idea, I jumped up immediately and never rested until it came into fruition. I could never see what the point in waiting and planning things out was. Unfortunately, I was also reckless. And recklessness + action man = selling the Marauder’s Map and getting expelled, which let me tell you was not one of my cleverest ideas. But that never stopped me, which would probably be my undoing one day. In fact, it already had been my undoing.
I was just pulling on my coat later that Saturday morning, preparing to go out and chase some dreams (in…Diagon Alley), when Hugo burst through the front door. He saw me and grinned.
“Finally been let out of your room, huh? The whole family’s going crazy trying to decide what to do with you now.”
“Well, let them go crazy. I have my own plans,” I smiled.
“Where are you off to?”
“Flat hunting.” Hugo gaped,
“Flat hunting? As in flat I’ll-live-in-and-wash-my-own-socks flat hunting?”
“What other types of flat hunting are there? I’m not getting on a horse and throwing spears or whatnot through obscure apartment windows.” Hugo laughed briefly,
“You do realise that you’re underage, penniless and have no qualifications, right? Anyone mad enough to sell you a flat practically sentences you to a life of eating dirty socks.”
“Being underage won’t stop me,” I scoffed at Hugo’s superior look. “And why would I want to eat a sock? If all else fails, I’ve heard that grass has certain nutritious qualities.”
“You’re never going to get away with this.” I glared at him,
“Why not? Now either come with me so I can use side-along apparition, or go jam a daisy up your nostril and practice those yoga techniques I taught you so painstakingly at Hogwarts.” I smiled sweetly, then threatened Hugo with acupuncture until he apparated me to Diagon Alley because now I thought about it, I really couldn’t get there any other way.
After his initial hissy fit of outrage, Hugo came round to the idea of being stuck with me for a bit. “So, what are you exactly…looking for?” he asked.
“No idea.” That was a lie- I knew exactly what I was looking for. The picture was hovering in the back of my mind, a perfect dream that was more likely than not, going to remain a dream.
A classic farm building appeared in my mind; a blossoming rose garden at the front and a swinging chair sat next to a gently flowing river. Lilies and roses were everywhere, in vases and flowerbeds, in the hair of the small, red-headed girl who was practising skipping by the front door. A thin line of smoke furled from the old brick chimney, and butterflies basked in the greenhouse nearby. The sun was shining brightly.
That was what I was looking for. It wasn’t crazy, or massive, or unachievable by a long shot. But I loved it, because it was me. And one day, somehow, I would get it. It was a beautiful picture though, and that worried me. Beautiful things tended to get destroyed.
We came to a row of magical estate agents next to each other. They all had pictures of houses in the windows and were basically identical apart from their names. I didn’t know where to start.
There was a pretty farm for sale in the window display of Malcolm & Son, in a village called ‘Bosford’. The writing underneath was a long description of how ‘perfect’, ‘exquisite’ and ‘wonderful’ the farm was. I pointed out the price to Hugo. 2, 500, 000 was all that was shown. “That’s in knuts, right?”
“Um, no Lils. That’s two and a half million galleons.” I blinked. Surely a little farm wasn’t worth that much? And okay, maybe it was exquisite and perfect, but I could’ve sworn we paid less than that when we moved to our big ‘Potter’ manor.
“Why is it so expensive?” I asked in horror.
“Stock markets change,” Hugo shrugged. Um, okay…
Hugo had moved along, examining pictures of the smaller, cheaper flats and houses. “What about this one?” It was grey and ugly; I wrinkled my nose. “Well, what’s your budget Lily?”
“Err, I don’t have a budgie Hugo…” He rolled his eyes.
“No, a budget is how much money you have to spend.” I fiddled with my hair,
“Can’t I get one of those mortgage things?”
“Ye-es, but you need to put down a deposit first.” This was going way over my head, and Hugo could obviously see that from the blank expression on my face because he smirked. How fandabydosy- my favourite cousin now thought I was majorly stupid. I wasn’t; I just lived in a drifty world of wacky ideas and careless mental sarcasm that sounded funnier in my head than out loud. So I walked into Malcolm & Son to avoid replying to Hugo.
A bunch of people were sitting at desks in the estate agency, surrounded by flapping memos and speaking down telephones at the same time. I marvelled at the strange combination of magic and muggle, hovering in the doorway until Hugo walked past and grabbed the attention of an important looking man. He coughed.
“We would like to buy a house,” Hugo started, then corrected himself. “My friend here would like to buy a house.” The man glanced at us and popped some gum into his mouth, his jaw chewing slowly.
“Yeah, I’d like a lot of things too, kid. We don’t always get what we want.” Then he walked away and I decided that he needed a bit more spiritual connection in his life. Why had I even contemplated coming in here? Of course no-one would sell a couple of teenagers a house. I grabbed Hugo’s arm and pulled him out.
“What, you’re just giving up?” Hugo asked as we got outside, astonished.
“But you never give up on anything! Have you forgotten Hogwarts already? You’d organise massive parties despite a Butterbeer shortage, tickled Albus and James black and blue until they let you use the invisibility cloak. Worked ridiculously hard on your yoga business, which was doomed from the start by the way.”
“Of course I remember Hogwarts,” I sighed. “But that was at school. This…this is real Hugo. And big.” I graciously ignored his comment on my yoga business.
“Hogwarts was real too, and don’t you ever forget that! Just because you’re not there anymore doesn’t mean it’s not a part of you still. Come on, Lily. I’ve no idea why I’m even trying to encourage you but at least let’s try the next shop down.”
“Okay…” I shrugged, without much hope. Then I realised that while they might not sell a house to me, they could sell one to Hugo. Hugo was seventeen! “Hugo! Pretend we’re engaged.” Hugo’s eyebrows got lost in his hair as he took this in.
“We’re cousins, Lily. First cousins!”
“I know that,” I tutted. “It’s an act. You’re of age, so they can legally sell you a house. Then I’ll just pay you back!”
“And how does being engaged come into that?”
“I’ve just always wanted to pretend to be engaged,” I grinned. Hugo looked doubtful.
“I don’t have enough money to buy a house, but I could rent a flat. And you have to pay every knut and galleon back. I’m not made of money!”
“Of course I’d pay you back! What kind of girl do you think I am?” I think I heard him mutter ‘one that gets expelled from Hogwarts and engaged to their cousin’ but I couldn’t quite be sure.
The ‘engaged’ idea was rather fun, really. I just beamed the whole time while Hugo did all the talking. I occasionally gushed over how excited I was to be moving into our own place together, and complimented the estate agent.
“That’s a very fascinating tie you have there, Mr Thompson. Is it 100% silk?”
“It is indeed, Miss. That’s a very nice…hair band.” And then I laughed a rather sickly sweet laugh, thinking about taking up a job as an actress.
It was getting past lunch time, and we’d been talking to Mr Thompson for about an hour, having things explained to us and being shown flat after flat after flat. None of them were cheap enough or expensive enough, and the in between ones had rat problems and gas leaks. Eventually, Hugo took a brochure and said we’d come back after lunch.
We wandered amiably down Diagon Alley eating the cheapest chips we could find (I think these chips had actually invented the saying ‘cheap as chips.’ Only 5 knuts for two bags!) and having a good laugh at Mr Thompson’s expense.
“Thanks for all this Hugo. Maybe being expelled won’t turn out too bad after all,” I said through a heartfelt mouthful of ketchup-chip-grease.
“Yeah…” Hugo looked at me a little sadly. “I wish you hadn’t been expelled though. The rest of seventh year’ll be boring without you around.”
“Ah yes, your spiritual yoga teacher, butterfly geek, cardigan knitter, orange juice consuming-“ Hugo stuffed a chip in my mouth.
“Yeah, yeah. We won’t miss you that much!” We sat down at Florean Fortescue’s ice cream parlour and pulled out the shop brochure to have a closer look. It fell open at the middle page, and a sweet, flower-covered building caught my eye. It had one bedroom, bathroom and kitchen/living room, and was going for only 15 galleons a month- the cheapest so far.
“Look!” I exclaimed, “Why do you think it’s so cheap? It looks cute.”
“Maybe it’s to do with a dodgy neighbourhood…” Hugo pulled out his glasses to read the small print describing it in more detail. “It says it’s in a place called Eglentine Copse.”
“Where’s that?” I enquired, certain he didn’t know but asking anyway.
“Not the foggiest.”
“I’ll ask Thompson.”
“Eglentine Copse?”Thompson had a strange lisp so it sounded like he was saying ‘egg and thyme coughs?’ which made me think of diseases. “I’ve never heard of it before.”
“Can you check it for us please? Hugo asked politely. I’d told him to keep his glasses on as it made him look about ten years older. He was mildly offended.
Mr Thompson typed something into a computer. “It’s in the middle of Wales. Tiny place- not even on the map.” He glanced at us, “Would be nice and quiet though. Plenty of wildlife and stuff.”
I looked at the picture of the flat again. When I put my nose to the page, I saw that the flowers in the hanging basket were lilies. And I knew that it was the place for me. Cheap Beauty. “We’ll take it,” I pounced.
By the time we got home, I realised that I probably should have told my parents I was going out, even if I’d withheld the exact specifics of what I was doing. I was sort of so much in their bad books at the moment that their bad books were called ‘Lily Potter’ and told the story of my life inside them. I didn’t want a large skull and crossbones dotting the ‘i’ too, but I think we may just have reached that point.
Mum was white with fury when Hugo and I walked into the kitchen. She didn’t speak. I don’t think she could speak. Dad banged his cup of coffee down angrily, slopping the contents over the table, and Mum didn’t even blink an eye at the spillage- which made me realise how grave this was.
It was probably not a good idea to mention how I was moving to Wales at that moment. But I was Lily Potter, and I did reckless and stupid things with no regard for the consequences.
“Mum. Dad. I’m moving to Eglentine Copse!” Then both collapsed into chairs, giving up on me completely.
A few days later, Hugo and I had finalised everything and I was packing my room up. Mum and Dad were still trying to dissuade me and, more importantly, Hugo from going through with the whole thing. But Hugo was of age and could do what he liked with his money, and I was his favourite cousin who he was buying a flat for. We were tight, bruv.
To be honest, I don’t think my parents cared any longer. I’d always been one of those odd sort of kids who’d stick their hands into a bee’s nest and eat the honey if Mum had denied them sweets that afternoon (true story). I wouldn’t back down from something once I’d decided to do it, no matter how many times I was being stung. I suppose I hadn’t actually been a naughty child, just strangely determined. And Mum and Dad knew that I would never really stop being…me. If I wanted to move to Wales, I’d move to Wales if it killed me.
I picked up my crumpled Hogwarts robes from the back of the cupboard, running a finger over the Gryffindor emblem. I didn’t really know what to do with half the junk in my room- I didn’t want to just throw it all out in the blink of an eye, because this stuff was my childhood. But I couldn’t take my Hogwarts robes with me into my new life. In the end, I stashed most of the stuff in the attic of the manor. God knows there was enough room here.
I was shoving my many yoga books and sweatpants into boxes when there was a knock on the door. “What?” I called out, and Albus sidled into my room, holding something square and book-shaped (I think it was a book). He looked around at the stacks of boxes and chaotic piles of socks strewn across the room, and sighed.
“You’re really moving, aren’t you.”
“I am.” He handed me the parcel, and I tore off the wrapping paper. It was a book (told you!).
“What’s this?” I asked, opening the front cover. I hadn’t been able to understand the title because it was in another language.
“A Welsh dictionary. Took me forever to find!”
“Ah, thanks Al! That’s really sweet.” I busied myself with hugging him and then placing the book carefully into a box.
“Are you nervous?” Al asked. The question took me surprise. It wasn’t the fact that I hadn’t even thought about being nervous, it was more the way Al was actually being quite sensitive about something. Al just wasn’t sensitive- he was tall and hyper and a gangly Quidditch assistant. He didn’t do feelings.
“I-I hadn’t really thought about it. Why do you ask?”
“Well, when I tried to move out straight away I couldn’t do it. Didn’t last a week on my own- couldn’t even turn the washing machine on by myself. And I was only a few streets away. You’re moving to a different bloody country at age 16!”
“Well, you know me. Adventures are my lifeblood.” I forced a smile
“Life isn’t an adventure.”
“It is if you want it to be,” I retorted, but his words struck home. I was moving to a different country.
“It’s not normal to be moving out at 16,” Hugo added. That’s what Mum had said too, but it sounded scarier coming from Hugo, my brother. The person who’d shown me how to use a magical lock pick, and all the secret ways you could climb onto the castle roof.
“It’s not normal to get expelled,” I said glumly. “Nothing about my life now is normal. I should be in school with my friends, playing Quidditch and gossiping like a normal teenager. And instead-“ I looked down at the boxes by my feet, feeling tears prick the back of my eyes in a moment of crumbliness. “Instead I’m moving to Wales! Where it always rains and dragons run around firing out leeks. I’m going to be all alone, with new neighbours and shops and a different language…”
“And you’ll have to cook for yourself, get a job, wash your underwear. Grow up about 5 years prematurely,” Albus added in, painting a completely different picture in my mind from the beautiful farm. Instead, a grey flat loomed ahead through sheets of dark rain. Faceless old men talking Welsh pushed me around, and daffodils wilted from the weight of the water.
It was a depressing scene, and suddenly I was crying and my silly, adorable brother didn’t know what to do, so he called Mum. And Mum was there, hugging me for the first time since I’d been expelled. The scent of her perfume and the feeling of her arms around me made me feel like a scared first year all over again. And I cried even harder, burying my face in her shirt. Then Dad joined the hug, and Albus. Even James, who was far too old and awkward for such things, patted my head gently.
“I don’t want to move to Wales!” I blubbed into my hand.
“Shh,” Mum whispered, stroking my back. “You’re not moving anywhere.”
Author’s Note: I bet you’re all thinking ‘WHA-?!?’ And I don’t blame you guys! So, do you think she’ll move or not? Has she got the guts- can she leave her family? Up next: some dodgy weather, bright colours, teapots and the surprise of Lily’s life.
Chapter 3: Blue
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“I’m moving to Wales today!” I announced the next morning. My family stared at me in shock (the amount of times they’ve stared at me in shock this week must’ve broken some sort of world record), struggling to take in all the different moods I was flicking between.
I suppose I didn’t really have a proper explanation for this drastic change of mind, apart from ‘I have this…tingly feeling about it.’
Yeah, I didn’t see them buying it. So I launched into one of my muddling psychological speeches that dragged on for hours and rambled over various topics including that of fate, death, chocolate and a quote of Albus Dumbledore’s that seemed appropriately relevant to my current predicament (longest words I’ve ever used in my life, right there).
“It’s not your abilities that show who you truly are- it’s the choices you make that define you!” I gesticulated loudly.
You see, I often saw images in my head. Pictures of things that I wanted to achieve, or desperately didn’t want happening. I’d thought like that since I first started doing yoga- when your mind is calm and clear it’s simpler to think in images instead of words. I just knew that I couldn’t throw my life away here with a boring, monotonous office job. I cringed even thinking about it happening.
But if I went to Eglentine Copse…who knew what could happen? What a great adventure my life could turn into? (And yes there was the possibility of Eglentine being the most boring fart of a village ever created and me drowning in the rain of Wales, but let’s think HAPPY THOUGHTS). And anyway, if it didn’t work out, I could always come home again. Or try somewhere else. Or become a beggar.
Oh the possibilities.
“When are you going to learn to stop being so RECKLESS?” Mum sighed. “We know you want a life, but if you’re doing this just to make some silly statement, or show off, then STOP. You can’t cope- you were crying last night! You’re still full of hormones!” I scowled a little at the typical parental explanation to any sort of odd behaviour: hormones. I was quite out of puberty, thank you very much.
“I’m not being reckless! I’ve managed to buy myself a flat haven’t I? I think I can manage. And the crying—I’ve explained everything to you! A moment of weakness.” I told them wearily as I loaded my bags into Dad’s car (courtesy of his Ministry job).
“How can you expect us to drive you into the worst decision of your life?”
“It’d be worse if you didn’t drive me, because I’d attempt to drive myself, crash and die.” Mum frowned; she knew that I would indeed attempt to drive myself. She tossed Dad the car keys.
“You’d better have lots of words with your daughter while you drive to the airport, Harry.” Then Mum turned to me and, surprisingly, kissed my forehead (maybe she was wearing poisonous, mind-altering lipstick that would make me want to be a receptionist?). “Go on your adventure then, Lily. Go! But…come back again.” Feeling slightly bewildered, I hugged Albus and James before sliding into the passenger seat as Dad slid the key into the car and started the ignition.
The one bit of advice about airports that Dad had given me in the car was don’t talk about bombs, wear a hood or act even remotely suspicious. Jeez, thanks dad- I obviously looked like such a potential terrorist you couldn’t give me any practical advice instead. So what if I liked hoodies? At least a tracksuit didn’t itch in unsuitable places like this ghastly woollen dress did (a woollen dress? Woollen?). I wanted to tear it to shreds in the middle of the terminal, not caring about being surrounded my people (and young, innocent children).
I really did wish Dad had given me a few other tips though, or at least a rough idea of what to expect. I nearly had a heart attack when my suitcases were swallowed up by an ominous tunnel before someone explained they were just being put into the luggage hold. And when a perverted security guard halted me and started running his hand up and down my body, I actually screamed and shoved him. Then he had to hurriedly tell me it was a random security check, not anything dubious, before I slapped him.
But nothing, nothing was as bad as the flight itself.
I chose a seat next to a young woman and her sleeping, dribbling baby. I had tried to be all friendly and such, saying hello and asking if she didn’t mind if I sat next to her, but the sound of my voice immediately woke up the baby and she started bawling her head off. The mother glared at me, muttering furiously in another language (Welsh??) and frantically trying to get baby back to sleep. I was apologising profusely, but the woman had no idea what I was saying and was looking at me as if I had gone loony. In the middle of all this, a rather pudgy man with a lot of BO squeezed himself into the seat on my left and grinned, patting my knee.
Yay, I was completely sandwiched between Angry Foreign Lady, Bawling Baby and Fat Inappropriate Man.
The plane took off, and I gripped the armrests on either side of me in fright. I was certain that this lump of metal wasn’t safe in the air- how on earth did it fly without magic? My ears popped weirdly and I didn’t like the claustrophobic panic attack that made me bite my tongue so hard that it bled.
I didn’t like it at all.
The air hostess person said that the flight would only take about an hour at most, so I tried to distract myself with the book Albus had given me. Sadly, it didn’t work. Every time I turned a page I wondered what my family would be doing now, and whether this had been a good idea after all. Especially when Fat Inappropriate Man started winking at me and gesturing towards the closet-like bathroom. I blatantly ignored him, ordered a bacon and mozzarella sandwich, and tried to eat it despite the disgusting sogginess. Then I flailed around a bit with the half-eaten remains, wondering where to put them. I decided to surreptitiously drop them underneath the seat, hoping that no-one would notice. I couldn’t wait to get off this plane.
It was raining lightly by the time I had dragged all my bags off the bus, and was standing next to a wonky signpost with ‘Eglentine Copse, ½ mile’ scratched into it. I eyed the moss and mould crusted all over the letters warily, before setting off in the direction pointed, blinking to keep water out of my eyes as my hands were busy dragging along all the suitcases. I was disappointed to say that Wales looked a lot like England. If I forgot about the nightmarish journey I’d just undertaken, I could almost pretend I was walking down a typical country lane in Godric’s Hollow- I even spotted a church spire in the distance that I could’ve sworn was identical to the one back home. The only Welsh thing I’d seen all day was one flag and the book Al had given me.
I was still trying to figure out what I felt about that when the rain eased off, and a glorious blue sky crept over the horizon. The birds suddenly sang more cheerfully, and I noticed little tulips and wild daffodils growing in the trees on either side of the road. Then the track levelled off into a dainty little square with a broken fountain and neat houses on all sides. Not a soul was around as I sat down on the ledge of the fountain and took my first, lonely look at Eglentine Copse.
It was small. As in, very tiny small. As far as I could tell, there was one more, larger square beyond this one, a church, a few shops and a pub. That was it. I suppose Mr Thompson had warned us that it wasn’t even on the map, but I hadn’t really given that much consideration. America hadn’t been on the map until 19- something or other. But Eglentine Copse looked like a real party town (that was another example of my hopeless internal sarcasm by the way).
I set off on a dubious search for my flat. I didn’t think it would take particularly long, but I’d forgotten the street name and number, and therefore was searching purely for the image I’d seen in the brochure with Hugo. But it turned out that there were a lot of flats around here that literally all looked the same. I was about to give up and knock on a door to ask somebody (because there was no-one in the street to badger), when a young-ish girl walked out of the post office to the right. She smiled at me a little cautiously, and I hurried over to her dragging my many bags and looking rather bedraggled. I hoped first impressions didn’t always mean lasting impressions in Eglentine Copse, or I was screwed.
“Hi, I’m looking for my flat. I’m new here?” I tried, brushing a strand of hair behind one ear.
“Oh, we already know you’re new,” the girl replied in a heavy Welsh accent, staring at me intently with different coloured eyes. “And we know which flat you want. They’ve sent me to take you to it.” I felt a little uncomfortable about that- obviously the people had been creepily watching me struggle across the square from their windows. But the girl was already leading me off down a passage to the left. “I’m Birdy by the way,” she said without looking back. “Birdy Podge. Who are you?”
“Um, Lily…Teapot.” I didn’t want people recognising my surname; I had never liked the special attention it got me. I also liked the irony in ‘Teapot’ seeing as I didn’t even drink tea. It was always the little things in life.
“Well Lily Teapot, this is the flat.” She stood to one side as I opened the door and then left me, running back to the square on light feet. I was still mulling over how strange this all was as I opened the door of my new home.
It was quite…cosy. I mean, it was nothing compared to what I was used to back home but it had running water and a bed- what more could you need really? I sniffed as I sat down on the medium sized bed- at least the air wasn’t damp or smelly. The colour schemes were bright and cheerful, if a little garish; sunny oranges and blues with a bright green sofa and lampshades. The door was black. I sort of felt like I’d walked into a paint palette, knocking the paint across every available surface in the process. I sat quite still for a while, listening to the birds outside and a clock ticking somewhere behind me. I felt a little homesick; the people here were weird. And yes, the people at home were weird too but in a more familiar-weird way. But this was my home now… Or was it? I closed my eyes and cleared my mind for a second, trying to focus on the basic human needs of breathing and living and…damn I was thirsty. I got up to poke around the small, waist-high fridge for a moment but there was nothing in there except for a stray ice cube. I acquiesced to a slug of water from the tap, but what I really wanted more than anything else was some orange juice. I decided to unpack my clothes first before going out to try and find a shop selling edible things.
Two hours later, I was walking out the door. I’d struggled fitting all my clothes into the tiny wardrobe, so I’d put underwear and jeans in the suitcase and squeezed it under the bed. I’d also had a quick shower to freshen up and changed into a short skirt, patterned tights and a strapless top with cable knit jumper. I’d even brushed my straw-like orange hair into a shape. I was planning on making at least a good second impression.
While I’d been unpacking, Eglentine Copse seemed to have busied up a bit. A few kids were playing football by the fountain and the sun was shining properly now, so I saw parasols up and ice creams in a few hands even though it definitely wasn’t ice cream temperature just yet. I strolled up the street, trying to ignore the many curious looks I was getting from…well, everyone. I felt like an exotic animal newly escaped from a non-existent zoo.
There was an old fashioned bakery on my right and I stared at the burly, scary-looking man who was delicately icing cakes with his wand. He reminded me of Hagrid a little, with his crazy, tangled beard, and a pang of longing for Hogwarts made me stop dead in the street. I dove into the post office before I did something stupid like cry, startling an old man into knocking over a display of magazines.
“Oh my gosh, I’m terribly sorry!” I panicked, helping him up.
“Never mind dear, never mind. I’m sure there are many far more important things distracting a young mind like yours.” He looked quite cheerful considering he’d just been knocked into a Welsh Weekly stand. I led him out of the shop, apologising again and wishing him a nice day.
Gah! This place was making me feel about ninety seven years old already. I grabbed three cartons of orange juice and a few other supplies and went up to the till, certain that everyone in the shop had been sniggering.
“Nice to see a new face round here,” the woman gave me a strained smile as she took my money, and I wondered what on earth was up with these people. They all seemed to be tiptoeing on eggshells around me.
“Yeah, well. I like it here so far…” The woman shot me a pitying look, as I glanced outside to see the bright sun gone; torrential rain was now pouring from the sky, drenching the street and the pretty flowers in neat window boxes. I was shocked at the suddenness of the weather transformation.
“That’s Welsh weather for you, honey,” explained the woman. I smiled politely, and gripped my shopping nervously as I opened the door and stepped out into the street. My hair was instantly drenched and dripping down my neck; my shoes were squelching horribly as I ran, hoping I wouldn’t get lost. The rain was half blinding me too- driving at my eyes and freezing my whole face. Suddenly there was a shout,
“Lily! Lily Teapot!” It was Birdy, standing in a doorway and pointing behind me. “You’ve dropped something!” I cursed, noticing the hole in my plastic bag and stumbled back to pick up my shopping.
“Thanks!” I called to Birdy, but she’d already gone, sheltering from the harsh weather.
I was just putting my last microwavable meal back in the bag, holding the hole closed with one hand, when I realised that someone was watching me nearby. I wondered why anyone would be randomly standing in the rain, until the person spoke, explaining all.
“Lily Teapot, huh?” It wasn’t a Welsh accent- it was very, very English. And I sort of knew who it was going to be even before I looked up, blinking in shock.
It was Scorpius Malfoy.
Author’s note: Well that’s a little bit of an interesting last line, no? Plus, I’ve been updating this very quickly so I think that merits reviews!! :P The real plot will start to unfold now, and you can expect a LOT of craziness ahead (as well as yoga lessons, fish-a-thons and surprise visits). Also, hopefully I'll get a banner soon! Next up: Lily meets the ‘gang’. THANKS FOR READING
Chapter 4: Pink
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If there were a million, billion, trillion, gazillion people that could have turned up in Eglentine Copse, Scorpius Malfoy would not have been one of my guesses.
The chance of this happening was so miniscule- so not there- that I never, even in my wildest dreams, could have predicted it. I would’ve thought it more likely for a meteorite to fall down from space and squash my car (a non-existent car, mind).
I mean there was always the chance that a meteorite could land on your car at any second and squish you, but it never actually happened- and no-one went around in meteorite-proof armour just in case it did. Shops didn’t sell meteorite-proof cars either, because the thought was so ridiculous and impossible that they’d be laughed out of town. But I suppose the possibility didn’t come from nowhere, and chance didn’t happen unless there was something to gamble with. So all in all, this was certainly possible. Indeed, it was more than possible seeing how it was rather probable, and in fact real (although I had to pinch myself a fair few times to check I wasn’t dreaming).
Simply put; it was an extremely unexpected situation that I now found myself in.
Nevertheless, I suppose I was relieved to see a familiar face. Even though said familiar face would probably never forgive me for my relentless campaign at Hogwarts to set him up with Rose Weasley, my cousin. It was an almost-success that had involved broom closets, love potions and skulduggery form everyone involved. But hopefully Scorpius would’ve conveniently forgotten about all that.
“Hi,” I said timidly, standing up with my shopping bag securely beneath one arm. Scorpius seemed as surprised as I was, but a little less shaken and a lot more angry.
“What the hell?” he spluttered, flailing around. “Who told you I was here? Who told you where to find me? You’d better not have Rose anywhere within a billion miles, by the way.”
“Technically, the Earth isn’t even a billion miles. So yes, Rose is within a billion miles of you. But I know you were exaggerating to make a point so I’ll drop the matter.”
“Did someone tell you I was here?” Scorpius asked again.
“Does this shocked expression seem like that’s the case?” I pointed to my gaping mouth and raised eyebrows. Scorpius smirked a little.
“I guess not. Right, that’s a relief then.”
“Why’s it a relief?” I asked. Scorpius shifted from foot to foot looking like an overgrown, slightly pathetic rabbit.
“Err, I was just off for a drink." he rapidly changed the subject, "I can only assume you’ve moved here so I’d better introduce you to the gang- they’re all at the pub. I absolutely refuse to function on a Wednesday night without alcohol. So you coming with?” He looked at me a little resentfully/resignedly (I couldn’t tell which it was).
“I’ve already met Birdy Podge,” I told him, “And they’ve been spying on me since I arrived. I don’t really want to meet ‘the gang’ -whoever they are.”
“Well of course they’ve been spying on you,” Scorpius muttered, striding off towards the pub. “What else are they supposed to do?” Did I not mention that Scorpius and I weren’t the best of buddies?
On closer inspection, I saw that the pub was called the Mochen Dee. It was quite a typical looking pub with big, old windows and warm lighting. “What does Mochen Dee mean?” I asked Scorpius.
“Name means the Black Pig, but I don’t speak Welsh so stop pestering me.” Okay then, Mr Grumpy Grouchy Chops. Scorpius pushed the door open and hurried in to escape the rain; I decided that I really had nothing better to do, and walked into the Mochen Dee after him. It was quite full inside- I assumed that the entire village’s population had crammed themselves around the steamy bar, talking and drinking. Scorpius’s arrival with me caused quite a disruption, and everyone was clamouring to get a look at the ‘new person who knew Scorpius’. Scorpius himself just sighed and ordered a pint before introducing me. I was standing rather awkwardly next to the wall, feeling very conspicuous and, well…awkward.
“Everyone, this is Lily Pot, err, Teapot,” He looked at me expressionlessly. “Lily this is…everyone.” Then he began firing off a few meaningless names that sounded a bit like ‘ZoraDarylBirdyIvanCarisOceanGarethGwinnyBlahBlahBlardyBlah-blah’. No, honestly- he couldn’t be bothered to say everyone’s names so he started ‘blah-ing’. “Oh and that’s Dave in the corner,” he finally pointed out the Hagrid-Lookalike-Baker-Man, “But everyone calls him Burly Baker man or BBM for short.” Okay. Go figure.
The villagers immediately clustered together, whispering excitedly (probably about me, ‘cos I’m so interesting), and Scorpius slid into a seat opposite a young, unshaven bloke who I think he’d called Gareth Blah. Having nothing better to do, I sat opposite him, and he grudgingly got me a drink.
“So, what do you do now?” I asked Scorpius, feeling intensely curious as I took a sip of the firewhiskey the bartender had plonked in front of me. It burned my throat, and tasted like liquid antiseptic cream (I didn’t drink much).
“Oh,” Scorpius took a lazy drag from a cigarette he’d just lit. “I’m writing a book about…” He scratched his long, colourless hair. “About…gee, I can’t even remember. He grimaced as one of his friends, Burly Baker Man/Hagrid Lookalike Baker, grinned and punched his shoulder. I could’ve sworn I heard something snap- there was more bone than flesh on Scorpius. BBM started speaking in a gruff voice,
“That would sum up just about everyone in Eglentine, Lily Teapot! None of us have a clue what’s happened to our lives. We are the rejected…the burdens to society. The Outcast Ones!” He paused for dramatic effect, but then sneezed which ruined it somewhat. “Welcome to Epic Fail Village! Epic Fails and Attempted Epic Fails That Failed And Weren’t Even Epic Enough To Be Classed As Epic Fails,” he caught his breath, “Are what make up the core of this community. So Lily Teapot, what tales of failure on the epic side bring you to us?” I coughed and twisted the buttons of my cardigan, glancing at Scorpius. He was absorbed in his drink.
“Well, I guess I’ve failed my family by getting expelled, then saying I was planning on starting my own yoga-business –stroke-butterfly-farm.” Everyone stared at me for a while and I was certain that they were going to say that yes, mine was the most Epic Fail Of All Fails and buy me sympathy drinks- then we’d all become bestie buddies and skip off into the horizon holding hands.
Instead, they began to roar with slightly mocking laughter. I looked quizzically at Scorpius for an explanation, but Zora answered my unspoken question.
“That’s not even a fail compare to what the rest of us have done!” she chirped. My face fell; I felt strangely sad about my rejection from the Epic Fail Acceptability Circles. BBM spoke up again though, albeit a little less enthusiastically.
“So how’s your Buttered Yoga Farm going?” The pub went silent.
“Um, at the moment I don’t actually have a farm- nor a single butterfly, yoga mat or penny to call my own. Which means I’ll probably wind up being a beggar, or robbing banks.” At this everyone started nodding with gratified approval.
“Now there’s a failure if ever I saw one. Welcome aboard, Lily!” smiled Birdy from the bar. I wasn’t sure whether to feel insulted or honoured, so I ordered a round of orange juices instead, not caring that all I could pay with was fluff.
Now that I had an appropriate Epic Fail, the Eglentiners were all too curious about my life. Gone were the hesitant, cautious looks; this lot were loud and not afraid to be. The questions just kept coming, and I couldn’t help feeling a little overwhelmed.
“So you do yoga, right? Isn’t that all ‘ohmmmm’ and stuff? Are you in touch with spirits and things? I’m Ocean by the way. Ocean Winner.” A pretty, dark haired girl who looked about 20 slid into the seat next to me and Scorpius. She didn’t even give me a space to reply before she was off prattling again. “How do you know Scorpo then? You know that Caris has fancied him for, like, ever? It’s such a joke. Oh this is so exciting to have another girl around apart from Birdy, Gwen and Caris! A young girl, I mean.” I laughed at her enthusiasm despite myself, and Ocean grinned back.
“Is your hair really that colour? Not dyed? Because dyed hair is really distasteful,” said the girl next to BBM.
“It’s naturally this colour,” I nodded. “I hate it!”
“I like it!” the girl exclaimed.
“You like most things, Gwen,” Ocean poked.
“How’d you get expelled Lily? You’re awfully young- 17? 18?” asked Daryl, the woman in the post office from earlier.
“I’m 16, actually,” I admitted to a few scandalised gasps from the older folk.
“How’d you get a flat? Why did they sell you that flat?” asked Marigold (or was it Primrose?) in a hushed, secretive voice as she handed her elderly husband a drink. It was intriguing how the older generation hung out with the teenagers and twenty-year-olds. I quite liked it really; I got tired of young people after a while. Daryl raised her eyebrows pointedly at Marigold, who flushed a little and stepped backwards. The question was mysteriously forgotten.
“What temperature do you wash your socks at?” asked Zora, genuinely interested.
“Err… 10 degrees?” I gibbered.
“Do you really! Do they clean properly? I never wash underwear at anything under 30 Celsius,” gossiped Daryl.
“Don’t be rude! Socks don’t count as underwear anyway,” Ocean chipped in. “Everyone knows that!”
“Since when do socks not count as underwear? You wear them under shoes, and under trousers so that means that of course they’re underwear for David’s sake!”
“The definition of underwear is indeed an item worn underneath normal garments,” Marigold’s husband said solemnly. I left them to the strange debate, muttering an excuse about the bathroom before hastily going outside for some fresh air. The stars here were brighter here than anywhere else.
After a little while, Scorpius joined me. He lit another cigarette,
“They always shove me out after a while- smoke’s bad for their health and shit.” I shrugged noncommittally and moved up to make room as Scorpius sat down on the bench next to me. It was a little awkward, seeing as we hadn’t properly spoken in over a year and I think the last thing I’d said to him was ‘just shag her- you know you want to!’ (if you didn’t count our previous shocked conversation in the rain).
Ahem- I had been quite determined upon the Rose/Scorpius coupling.
“What did you do then- to get chucked out? Confound a couple into marrying?” he muttered bitterly. I wiggled on my seat awkwardly,
“Uh, yeah, sorry about all that Rose stuff…”
“Whatever Lily. It’s not a big deal anymore,” he sighed and flicked the cigarette randomly. “Why’d you get expelled? Why are you here? Your parents must be going crazy.”
“Why are you here?”
“Just answer the question?”
“I’ll answer if you answer!”
“How do I know I can trust you to answer? You’re lying about who you really are to all that lot,” Scorpius gestured towards the pub with his hand.
“Okay. I sold the Marauder’s Map.” I squeezed my eyes shut to avoid seeing Scorpius’s horrified face. There wasn’t as big as a reaction as I’d expected though; his expression barely twitched. Long, silent moments passed and I was getting a bit chilly as I waited for him to tell me why he’d ended up in a remote, Welsh village surrounded by complete loonies- me included. I was about to give up and go back inside when he dropped his cigarette and ground it out with the toe of his boot.
“I’m hiding from my parents. They can’t ever find me again.” He muttered dejectedly.
“Why not?” I whispered, shocked. He didn’t answer.
We could hear raucous singing coming from the pub, and I decided to go back in for a few more minutes, before heading….home. It sounded too weird calling the flat home. But as soon as I stepped through the door, BBM roared my name,
“Lily Teapot! Know any Welsh songs?”
“Nope,” I shrugged. “I’m awful at singing.”
“Well Ocean here is the star of Eglentine! Moves people to tears, laughter and even death with her singing.” I glanced at the girl, Ocean, who was standing on the table and belting out a strange sounding song. I had to admit, she did have a nice voice. I slid into a chair next to Birdy and watched the proceedings curiously.
“I hope we’re not scaring you off, Lily,” Birdy smiled, watching me with her different coloured eyes.
“No…not at all,” I took a sip of juice. “I like the craziness.” Birdy smiled,
“We’re just interested in newcomers. Eglentine Copse isn’t exactly a tourist hotspot; we’re a tiny Welsh village full of losers with the distinct disadvantage of not having even the faintest connection to Gwenog Jones. There’s no hope for us!” Birdy threw her hands into the air smiling vaguely, and once again, I couldn’t help but laugh too. I glanced at a clock on the wall opposite and saw that it was nearly eleven at night. I still needed to eat something and get used to the flat, so I stood up, preparing to say my goodbyes.
“What do you think of the flat?” Birdy asked nervously, gripping my arm tightly before I could leave.
“It’s nice and colourful. Looks like someone had a painting accident in there!” I grinned, but Birdy was starting to look a little sick. “What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Oh, nothing. Don’t worry, have a nice sleep! Sweet dreams ad stuff,” Birdy mumbled in a high pitched voice and moved away, leaving me in her puzzled wake.
Author’s Note: I don’t own anything you recognise, and no reference to Blackberry messenger was intended with BBM’s nickname :P
Hello everyone! I hope you’re enjoying it all so far. I’d just like to make it clear that Eglentine Copse is NOT an accurate representation of a Welsh village- I’m really going all out on the unrealistic side with this story. Also, many thanks to fayeswonderland at TDA for the AWETASTIC banner! I’m going mention Lottie (TheGoldenKneazle) too, for her support with this so far (<3). Next up: A very eventful rugby match ;) -LWG
Chapter 5: Yellow
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When I got up the next morning, I couldn’t find the door. I prodded the annoying bit of purple wall that had hijacked the space to the left of my bed- the space that my door had happily lived in for sixteen and a half years- before concluding that the door was now gone. I felt a pang of sorrow; it had been a friendly old door covered in magical stickers and mysterious blue stains.
Then I turned and saw a new door stuck on the opposite side of the wall. It seemed so wrong and unfamiliar- black instead of white, shiny instead of dull. It opened inwards instead of outwards, too, with a loud creak that reminded me painfully of Albus’s singing (not a good thing. Seriously). After I’d opened this new, intrusive door and walked into my colourful little kitchen, I sat on the sofa and yawned, expecting a cup of coffee to materialise on the table in front of me like it always did every morning. Then I realised with a gulp of foreboding that I was going to have to make my own coffee now…without magic or a mother to help me.
I fumbled around with some milk- heating it up in the ancient old microwave before tipping a load of coffee beans in and piling sugar on top. I couldn’t find any spoons, so I stirred it with my finger, wincing at the heat. Then, when my sorry excuse of a coffee seemed to have reached the appropriate, coffee-like colour, I glugged the entire mug down without pausing for breath. The only other thing I could find for breakfast (I had forgotten to buy bread or cereal yesterday) was a bag of popcorn.
So yes, I sat in an eerie silence on my squishy sofa eating popcorn and contemplating my mess of a life. I was sort of questioning my sanity by this point; had I really chosen this for myself? Why in the name of yoga was I here, in Wales, eating popcorn on my own, when I could be at home in bed with proper coffee and hot, buttered toast that was oozing fat and scrumptiousness of divine levels (my mum’s toast was the best)?
But I had to admit it, this popcorn was pretty darn good. In fact, it was probably the best popcorn I’d had in a long time. It might just have been the sheer novelty of eating popcorn at nine in the morning that made it taste so good- but who cared?! Before I knew it, I’d finished the bag, had thrown the window open to invite in the morning birdsong and was wiping down the sugar-covered kitchen surfaces feeling like Snow White, and half expecting a bird or two to start flapping round my head when I started to hum to myself.
I squeezed into the tiny shower, my nose almost pressing against the opposite wall as I attempted to wash my hair. My hair had become long, straggly and untameable over the past year or so- and I’d mostly given up on trying any sort of shape with it. But it took an age to dry on its own, and I didn’t have a hairdryer with me. So I sat in front of the mirror, sighed once, and picked up a pair of scissors. I was sure that my life would become much simpler if I just had less hair (honestly, all the bald people are the successful ones). I grabbed a clump in one hand and clumsily began hacking at it until it was shoulder length. I was no expert at this, but I rather liked the rough, unsophisticated result- a tangled mop that suited me quite well. I pondered how this was so very symbolic of my personality.
And then…and then what? What was I supposed to do now? What was I supposed to do for the rest of my life? The years ahead of me seemed to stretch out into shadowy, scary looking futures that I really did not want. I had a little bit of a self-doubting, freak-out moment with a lot of hyperventilating and flapping. You know, flapping? That cool thing you do with your arms that makes you look like a parrot. I do that a lot, and when the flapping begins I know that I am in serious need of yoga to calm down. But unfortunately, a full yoga session takes about an hour or longer and, truth be told, I couldn’t be bothered right then. Everything was still so new and strange and unsettling; I didn’t think I’d be able to concentrate properly.
I was also heinously tired.
After calming down and sorting my thoughts out a little, I half-heartedly pulled on a coat and wandered outside with the vague idea of finding a job/exploring/getting to know people better. Once again, there didn’t seem to be anyone around despite the sort of ok-ish weather. I mean, it was quite nice weather really. For Wales.
Just then, I heard a loud, earth-shattering yell of,
“AAAAHH NOOOOO!!” I jumped out of my skin with a squeak of shock, and glanced around to check that someone hadn’t just been murdered or whatnot.
Nope, not a dead body in sight. So what in the name of acupuncture was going on?
I followed my ears (which were about to fall off from the muddling cacophony of shouts) and found myself in a field behind the village hall, watching some kind of furious sporting match take place. The whole village was there, eating and drinking and talking. I spotted Ocean Winner standing on a chair and shaking her fist at the players, whilst screaming abuse in a rather profane manner if you asked me. I winced and cautiously walked over to get a closer look (not that I really wanted to, but what else was I going to do today? Sit in my flat and watch paint dry?) Daryl spotted me and beamed, shoving a warm drink into my hand.
“Lily, honey! How are you? How did you sleep? You’re just in time! The match has only just started.”
“Um,” I rubbed my eyes blearily. “I’m fine. What’s going on here? What match?”
“The MRM of course!” gabbled Daryl. “The March Rugby Match! It’s a tradition- there’s a big match at the end of every month.”
“Oh, okay.” I eyed the crowds with interest and sipped the drink, spluttering as I realised it was warm beer. I mean, I liked beer. I really did; the amount of times Hugo and I had smuggled it into Hogwarts was uncountable. But warm beer? At nine-thirty in the morning? This was a crime against beer! BEER WAS NOT WARM! I had to control my arms before the flapping began again.
“Oh, do you not like beer? Sorry! I forgot you were underage.” Daryl chuckled to herself a little creepily.
“Oh, I do like beer…but why is it warm?”
“Hot beer will warm you up and cold beer will warm you down o’ course!” I nodded in fake understanding, and took another ghastly sip just so I didn’t seem rude or anything.
“Oh, look!” Daryl gestured towards a player, “Someone just got trampled by the looks of things. Isn’t that funny?” I didn’t think it was particularly funny myself- the player was clutching their leg in pain and writhing on the muddy ground. Rugby looked…violent. But I was a Quidditch player, and I knew about sporting injuries, so I inched closer to get a better look.
Scorpius however beat me to it, sprinting past in hilariously baggy rugby shorts and t-shirt, holding a strange thing in his hand that whistled when he blew into it and looking thoroughly fed up. He ran towards the area of injury, shirt flying out like a parachute behind him, and skirted around the person on the floor who was, I now saw, Gareth.
“You okay?” Scorpius asked, dropping the whistle into the mud. Gareth groaned and writhed in a writhey groaney smop. Ocean and another girl, Gwen, popped up on either side of me.
“What a wimpy shit you are Gareth!” bellowed Ocean, “Get up and play some real rugby! DON’T MAKE ME COME OVER THERE DAMN YOU!” I raised my eyebrows, which Gwen saw and chuckled at.
“Ocean’s from a sailing family; she has the temper of a sailor, and the language of one too.” I grinned,
“That would make sense.”
“I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU’RE GOING TO LET THE TEAM DOWN LIKE THIS!”
“I DON’T CARE IF YOU’RE DYING- I’VE BET 10 POUNDS ON YOU LOT! SO GET UP AND SCORE A TRY!”
“She also loves rugby,” Gwen added as an afterthought, blowing on her hands to warm them up.
“I gathered,” I wryly smiled. “So are those two…together?” I indicated towards Gareth and Ocean, but Gwen shook her head.
“Nah- Ocean hates relationships. She’s vowed to stay single forever.”
“I had a friend who swore that, then went on a date the next weekend.”
“Well, I’m guessing she swore that to you in a fit of angst against the opposite sex without any real conviction.”
“Yeah, that’s true,” I admitted with a laugh. Ocean stomped over to us, steam pouring out of her ears. She looked a lot like a teapot actually, we should swap surnames. Her’s was pretty groovy, after all.
“I GAH- I just… ARGH! NO!” she fumed, grabbing Gwen’s beer and draining it. She then turned to me and beamed, “Lily! I’ve missed you! Enjoying yourself? Good!” And then began throwing grass in the general direction of the poor, abused rugby players.
I glanced at Scorpius, who seemed to be attempting to drag Gareth off the pitch. Gareth was wincing with pain from the cut on his leg, and Scorpius was puffing and panting from the effort of dragging him. I jogged over to help, and we managed to get Gareth sitting in a chair and being fussed over by Daryl and Marigold.
“Cheers, Lily!” Scorpius grimaced, walking over to grab some warm beer from a long trestle table covered in cups of every shape and size, and large bowls of biscuits. I stifled a shriek of laughter as he took a swig out of a particularly interesting cup in the shape of a woman’s bare boob.
Yes, you heard right. There were cups in the shape of breasts. Kill me now.
Scorpius looked at me curiously, and then noticed what he was drinking out of, spluttered, turned red and promptly dropped the cup, soaking my foot in warm beer. I looked at his expression, and burst out laughing. This wasn’t just puny, weak laughter mind- this was hearty, side-splitting, snorting, guffawing laughter of the rarest variety. Soon Scorpius was joining me uttering short, sharp barks of mirth. What can I say? Laughter is an infectious disease.
“What’s so funny Scorpy?” simpered a sickening voice that belonged to an equally sickeningly gorgeous person. I never trusted gorgeous people. Literally, never.
“OH, um, hey Caris.” Scorpius tried to shuffle away, but was grabbed by a pair of blood red talons/claws/fingernails. Long, dyed blonde hair cascaded over Scorpius’s shoulder as Caris rested her head on his arm and made pathetic eyes at him.
I was of the firm belief that someone who had black hair should never, ever dye it blonde. And Caris hadn’t just dyed it any old blonde- it was Essex blonde. Coupled with the orange foundation, purple lipstick and teeny dress, she looked like she’d stepped out of The Only Way Is Essex. I tried not to be sick. Sure, I liked to look good on special occasions, but at least I had class! Wait... I hope I do have class and I'm not just a pretentious snob, judging people left right and centre... Oh no! I need to go and re-evaluate my principals!
“Who’s your little friend, Scorpo?” She glared at me, and I got the message. Scorpius was hers. Well, whatever, you saddo. I was backing off to go and rejoin Gwen/Ocean/nicer people, when Scorpius yelled my name.
“That’s LILY! And she loves meeting new people I think you’ll be great friends she’s just moved here from England and she’s a vegetarian,” He gabbled incoherently. Wow, he was obviously scared of this Caris person. But still Scorpius, now would be a good time to shut the hell up.
“Are you the person who’s just moved into one of my flats?” asked Caris lightly, examining her nails.
“Wait, one of your flats?” I asked with incredulity.
“Oh, sure. I own half the flats round here. Bought this one a few months ago after the thing with Birdy’s mum made her sell it to me-“ Scorpius clamped his hand over Caris’s mouth, effectively stopping her from finishing the sentence.
“What was that about Birdy?” I asked, looking at Scorpius. He shook his head at me urgently, panic glazing his eyes. I thought he was being highly irritating, but reluctantly let the matter drop so I could get out of there.
“So what do you think of Caris then?” smirked Ocean as I rejoined them. “Enjoyed your first meeting with WonderBitch?”
“She’s a Nasty,” I shuddered. “And I have to pay rent to her!?”
“Yeah, it sucks. She inherited a goldmine or something and’s totally loaded.”
“Then why’d she choose to live here?” I asked, raising my eyebrows. “No offence or anything…” Gwen grinned,
“She stalks Scorpius- literally, she’s obsessed with him.”
“Plus the dyed hair…” Gwen gingerly fingered her own ginger locks. “Very distasteful.” I nodded solemnly.
The match seemed to have ground to a standstill, with Gareth’s team arguing about the fact they were one man down and that it was unfair, and the opposite team telling them to go and hang themselves with a sock. Scorpius ran a hand over his brow looking stressed; as referee, he was meant to be sorting the whole thing out.
Then it started to rain, just as a large ice cream van trundled onto the field. I pinched myself to make sure this wasn’t a dream or something, but yes the ice cream van was real. And the brave man inside it was opening the window and putting up a wonky sign that said ‘Rusty Hobbes’s Scrumptious Ice Cream Shenanigan’. The rain water was beating down upon the canopy of the van making it all soggy and limp, but everyone seemed completely oblivious to the rain and were queuing up eagerly, umbrellas up, and rummaging around in their purses for money.
“Wahey! It’s Rusty time!” whooped Ocean, galloping off to the van, her tracksuit top slipping off her shoulders a little more with every leap.
“Isn’t it a little cold for ice cream?” I asked Birdy who was sort of staring off into the distance now. She blinked, startled, when I spoke to her and span round quickly in a full circle as if she couldn’t find where I was, before finally meeting my eyes.
“I’m sorry, what?”
“It’s just funny… having ice cream in this weather.”
“Oh, yeah! Well, it’s warm ice cream isn’t it?”
Warm beer, warm ice cream… Blimey O’Riley, this village really was nuts. Nuts and berries. Scorpius waddled over to me just then, looking grumpy as usual, his hair completely drenched and water trickling into his ear.
“Lily! Would you mind helping me out a bit?” I raised my eyebrows in a hipster ‘you gotta be kidding me dude’ look, but Scorpius did this panda face impression thingy that just made me feel all mean for not jumping out from under my umbrella. Gah. Pandas should just die.
Actually, no, I never said that okay? All creatures in this world are beautiful and have a right to live.
“What with?” I asked, drumming my fingers against the umbrella handle.
“Um, well, I know you’re awesome at Quidditch and… I thought you could referee the last quarter of the game?”
I laughed, “I have no idea how to play rugby Scorpius! Why can’t you do it?”
“I’m subbing for Gareth,” he shrugged, irritated. “And everyone else wanted to watch me get beaten up by Ocean for not joining the team, instead of offering to take my place…so…please?” I twisted my lips. “Gee, come on! It’s not that hard. I’ll buy you an ice cream!”
“A warm ice cream?” I asked suspiciously.
“No, a cold one. From… the cold ice cream shop.”
“Okay. I’ll do it. But I’ll be a pretty crap referee. Just saying.”
“Gah, thanks a billion.” He handed me the thing he’d been blowing in earlier and ran off onto the pitch. I inspected the object worriedly, and tried to blow through it like he had just done. The ensuing loud, piercing whistle was a little ghoulish and weird. I had no idea why such a muggle device was needed- Eglentine was a magical village, after all- but oh well. Perhaps it was some sort of tacky tradition. I didn’t want to be remembered as Tacky Tradition Terminator when I died. I walked out onto the pitch, blew the whistle, and the game began.
I don’t know if any of you have ever played rugby before, but I think you have to be Welsh to understand the, ah, finesse of the sport. To me, it was bloody terrifying!
I was surrounded by charging, yelling, cheering people covered in mud and ice cream and beer, and I was meant to be somehow controlling the whole thing? I looked helplessly at the whistle which couldn’t even be heard over the rain and noise pollution and sound of trampling feet. I started hopping up and down with frustration, picking leaves out of my hair and imitating a louder whistling sound because I hadn’t the faintest clue about rugby, whistles or my life at the moment.
Then all the players started sort of stuffing their heads under each others’ armpits, Scorpius getting squished in the middle of course, and the odd-shaped ball was buried underneath them all like their beloved egg or something. They looked like squawking chickens. Or maybe pigs.
I wasn’t even sure if this was legal…
People were running across the pitch now, and I frantically tried to follow their flailing hands. I thought it was weird the way they passed the ball backwards because really they weren’t achieving much by doing that. Not proactive in the slightest.
Then I heard Ocean screaming something in the background, some people let out the loudest cheer yet and began waving giant blow-up daffodil things that were the most frightening and garish objects I’d ever seen in my life, and then it was all over. I didn’t even know who’d won, but Ocean thumped me on the back as she walked over, a beam spread across her face.
“You did a groovy job, Lily! AND WE WON! WE BLOODY WON! Isn’t this great? Now we just have to win the ARM and the MayRM to get into the Eglentine championship, so that means-” I allowed my brain to shut down as Scorpius staggered over, looking weary.
“Hullo,” he groaned. Then he opened his mouth to say something else, but I think he may have fallen asleep while standing up because his eyes fluttered closed and then he sort of just stood there. I flicked his arm,
“Let’s go somewhere warm and dry and… anywhere but here.”
“Everyone’s decamping to the café,” Ocean grabbed my arm and led the way, and I grabbed Scorpius’s arm so that he didn’t topple over, so we looked like an odd conga line of tired human beings edging towards the café, wherever that was. If it was warm and dry, it was basically in heaven.
Author’s note: So yeah, not much happened in this chapter, sorry!! I hope you’re sort of getting to know all the characters better. And ho de hum, what else would a welsh girl put in a welsh story as a filler but a rugby match? Rugby is actually awesome, by the way, and I own one of those blow-up daffodil things. My brother called it Bill. Yeah. Oh, and I’m going to Germany this week, so next update might be slow! (GERMANY! I KNOW! I should make Lily move to Germany after this :P). Plus I had this idea of re-styling myself as a german-hipster-punk for the trip, but decided that all the german-hipster-punk clothes were too expensive *cries*. Thanks for being so lovely everyone, and love to Lottie, my brand new fangirl ♥ Next up: Lily gets a job! Letters, yoga lessons and motorbikes.