Chapter 11 : The fine line...
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Evil, manipulative, lying scum! Two-faced, petty little rat-bag! All week I had been taking turns mentally berating either Scorpius for his treachery, or myself for my naivety. As such, by Friday I was positively fuming, though sadly no less devastated by the perceived loss. Only now could I see that he must have been playing me for a fool all the time, and unfortunately my deluded heart was taking some time to catch up. Come on Lily! Mooning over a guy who clearly told all his mates about how he was pretending to need magic lessons? Get over it! It just wasn’t that easy though, particularly as Scorpius suddenly seemed determined to talk to me. So far this week, I had spotted him lurking no less than three times; undoubtedly he was planning to worm his way back into my affections in order to then cause further humiliation.
As I walked down to the quidditch pitch that evening, I was glad to have the younger of my brothers for company for once. Unlike my girlfriends, Albus was happy to let me as monosyllabic as I wished, and unlike James, he didn’t read too much into it. He was also unlikely to pick up on any new tension were we to run into Scorpius – which was lucky, given who was waiting for me near the changing rooms.
“Lily!” the unwelcome Slytherin called out, as I attempted to walk past, “can I talk to you a minute?”
“Um... no,” I said spitefully, attempting to keep my brother from noticing anything amiss, “let’s go, Albus.”
“Please, Lily, it’s important!”
“Huh,” Albus commented, aware only of my desire to avoid any further conversation, and happy to help fulfil it, “do you hear some kind of hissing, sis?”
Catching on, I replied scornfully, “You know, now you mention it, I do. I’m sure if we ignore it though, it’ll slither away.”
“And hey, if not, I can always make it go away, using force if necessary.” Albus smiled contemplating this.
Scorpius looked on as we walked past, before turning and returning to the castle.
“Weird,” Albus commented once we were out of earshot, “I wonder what he wanted?”
“He’s a Malfoy, who even cares?” I replied viciously, as we entered the changing rooms and joined our team.
Quidditch practice was gruelling, and unfortunately did nothing to improve my mood. Even the unseasonably warm weather simply served to irritate me, being so at odds with my own frosty disposition. After what felt like hours, James finally called us in, and after congratulating the team on their good work, asked for me to wait behind.
“What?” I asked sulkily, once the rest of the team were out of earshot, “I caught the snitch twelve times, what more do you want?”
“Well, it would be nice if the snitch wasn’t utterly crushed in future, but really, I just want to know what’s wrong.”
“Nothing. Can I go?”
“Seriously Lils, is this about the other night? Cause if so, I’m sure no one would freak out about it. I can tell them if you’d like.”
“NO!” I shrieked. Tell them about me kissing Scorpius? Is he mad? “Please, just leave it!”
“OK, OK, consider it left... for now.”
I felt constantly on edge for the rest of the night, but thankfully it seemed that James had recovered from his moment of insanity, and so wasn’t planning on outing me. Still, by the next morning my nerves were decidedly frayed, which is the only way I could possibly explain what happened as we entered breakfast.
“Electra,” Louis called, as we passed the Ravenclaw table, “can we talk?”
Electra simply ducked her head and made as if to continue on without acknowledging him, but I stopped, as said:
“What? No, you can’t talk to her, Louis. You can’t mess around with a girl’s feelings, enchant her with dodgy Love Trinkets, and then expect her to still want to speak to you.” Lousy men, thinking they can hurt us, lie to us, make us feel things. “If you know what’s good for you, you’ll take your stupid pranks and get lost!”
“Love trinkets? You mean that stuffed toy I gave her? What’s the big deal?”
“You really are just a despicable little boy. Seriously, I can’t even look at you right now.”
“Fine!” Louis responded, finally losing his cool right back at me, “I don’t need this; I’ve got practice anyway, with people who actually want to spend time with me! Christina, Amelia,” he continued, turning to his team mates, who had been sitting opposite, “let’s get out of here.”
However, it seemed that they no more wanted to be with him than we did. Amelia simply pushed herself away from the table and stalked out the room. Christina muttered “Men!” and then followed her.
Well, that shows him! I thought angrily, even as a small part of me queried whether all of that anger had really been directed at Louis. Electra and Chelsea, already sat at the Gryffindor table, clearly agreed, as they looked at me with trepidation.
“You alright, Lils?” Chelsea asked, concerned, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you lose it like that!”
“Yeah,” Electra added, nodding, “you know you don’t have to take sides, right? He’s your cousin; you don’t need to hate him on my account.”
“Well, boys like that need to learn that they can’t treat girls like he did and then expect to be welcomed with open arms when they finally decide they want to be friends again.”
The girls simply looked at me, until I grudgingly allowed, “OK, maybe I was a little over the top. I’ll catch up with him later.”
“Too right you will,” James piped in; I hadn’t even seen him sitting a few places down, but from the look on his face he had seen everything, “I’m officially declaring today ‘Family Picnic Day’; attendance will be mandatory.”
I went to retort, but his tone and expression brooked no argument, so reluctantly, I nodded my assent.
“Two o’clock, by the lake. I’ll get the twins to cater.”
With that, he stood up and left the hall. Once he was out of range, I groaned, slumping down into my chair. Next to me, Chelsea did likewise.
“OK, her I get,” Electra commented, pointing at me, “but why does that bother you, Chels?”
“Hugo was going to take me on a picnic! Now what’ll I do?”
Electra and Chelsea both looked at each other, thinking, before exclaiming in unison, “Makeovers!”
Could this day get any worse? “I’ll be in the library.”
Four hours in the library turned out to be exactly what I needed; the more complex homework I was now being set turning out to be the perfect distraction for my troubled mind. Thus it was with a much lighter heart that I packed up my books, and got ready to head to the dreaded ‘family picnic’. Sadly, it was not to last.
“Lily,” Scorpius said, having once again caught up with me, “can we talk?”
“No! Go away; I’m busy.” Mature much, Potter?
“OK, then I’ll be quick. I just wanted to say...”
Petrificus Totalus. Childish though it was to bind him like this, I simply couldn’t handle hearing his honeyed voice feeding me yet more lies.
“I don’t CARE what you want to say, and I don’t care about you!” Liar. “I’ve asked you to leave me alone, now I’m telling you; if you come near me one more time, I promise that you’ll regret it.”
Leaving him, still bound, slumped against the stacks, I stalked out of the library. What part of leave me alone is hard to understand? Does he really think I’m so stupid to fall for his tricks again? I mean, Oof! My internal rant was interrupted by bumping into someone. I looked up, and realised it was Amelia, Louis’ quidditch mate. She seemed upset, so I made to leave her be, but then she realised who I was, and said:
“Lily, can we talk?”
“Um...sure,” I stalled, not really sure what to say to this girl who had featured so prominently in my recent life, yet who I barely knew at all.
“It’s about what happened at breakfast this morning. You said that Louis gave Electra a Love Trinket. Did you mean one of the ones your uncle sells?”
“Yeah,” I answered, nonplussed, “he gave it to her around the neck of a cuddly toy.” Why am I telling her this?
“That’s what I was afraid you were going to say.” She paused, as though uncertain of how to continue. “Louis didn’t buy that – I did.”
“What? You bought Louis a charm to use on Electra?”
“No, I bought a charm to use on Louis. I put it round the cuddly toy, and then left it for him from a ‘mystery admirer’. I regretted it almost immediately, but then when nothing seemed to be happening, I figured it hadn’t worked. I mean, I was hanging around him almost constantly; if it had worked, I’d have known. But it didn’t, so I just forgot about it. Then I heard what you were fighting about this morning and I just felt awful; I didn’t mean to break them up, honestly!”
“But why did you give it to him in the first place?”
“I just wanted him to notice me, the way he noticed every other girl. Only now he doesn’t; he just notices her. Please don’t tell him what I did – he’d never forgive me, and I’d just die of embarrassment.”
I can relate to that.
“OK, I’m going to have to explain most of it, but I promise not to let him know it was you. Just... don’t order anything else, will you? No good comes of mixing magic and love.”
“No good comes of love, full stop! I’m out of it, I promise. Thanks Lily; I’m sorry for causing such a mess.”
As Amelia walked away, I shook my head at the almighty mess caused by a simple mistake and a lot of miscommunication. Then, squaring my shoulders, I headed off to eat both a picnic and a hefty portion of humble pie.
Eventually, I reached the great lake, apparently the last of my family to arrive. Dominque, the most graceful of my cousins, seemed to be floating on a low slung bough, while the rest of the girls – Rose, Molly, Lucy and even Roxanne – sat like her court around her, braiding flowers into each other’s hair and gossiping about the latest scandals. Meanwhile, Albus and Fred were having a mock duel, with Hugo and Louis shouting various suggestions. Only James seemed somewhat removed from the scene, as he waited for the final arrival to his impromptu gathering.
“At last – you get lost?” he said by way of a greeting, as I clambered down to the grassy shore, “Well, time to get this show on the road.”
He grabbed me by the shoulders, and spinning me round to face the assembled crowd, he announced:
“OK, so firstly, thanks for all giving up your precious afternoons. The reason I asked you here is that Lily has been keeping a little secret, and I’m sure you’ve all become aware of the effect it’s been having on her normally sunny disposition.”
No, please, no! As I looked around, I saw that more than one head was nodding; Louis wouldn’t even look at me, which explained why James thought that this was necessary. Still, this can’t be the answer – you’re all already members of the ‘I hate Scorpius’ gang, how can telling them about my little humiliation make anything better?
“Now, some of you may have heard the rumours,” What rumours? WHAT RUMOURS?!!! “but the truth is that when it comes to wand-work, Lily isn’t just a little ahead of the class; she’s a freaking magical child prodigy! For some bizarre reason, she got it into her head that we wouldn’t like her as much if she showed us all up, but I think it’s about time the world got to see what she can do.”
That’s the secret you think I’m upset about? Oh, thank goodness! As I breathed a sigh of relief, I realised that everyone was still staring at me, and so figured I should explain a little.
“Um, yeah. Feeling kind of awkward, but basically this gist of what James is telling you is that I’m a magical freak of nature. Pretty much any spell, and method, and I’m your girl.”
There was a short pause, as my family attempted to digest this. Then some called out,
“Okay. Can you give us a for instance. I mean, are we talking NEWT level, or what?”
I shrugged, deciding that show would definitely be better than tell. I pulled my wand out, squared my shoulders, and concentrated. Expecto patronum. Elegantly unfolding from the wand-tip, my trusty silver phoenix appeared, and lazily circled the group. After a few seconds, I gave my wand a sharp flick, and the phoenix promptly disappeared.
The next pause was significantly longer. Eventually James broke it.
“So, basically she was scared we’d all stop speaking to her, and be freaked out. She’s clearly gone mad though, as we’d never be that small-minded, right?”
“C’est ça,” Dominque quickly responded, flashing me a broad smile and a wink, “although I am un peu irritated you never felt you could let us know before. Come show me that again?”
I happily complied, and with that, the awkward tension was broken. The boys returned to their increasingly comic duel, and the girls to their braiding; meanwhile Dominque grilled me about the sensations, techniques and limitations involved in the casting of non-verbal magic. As promised, Fred and Roxanne had procured their usual fair, and so after a while the various side groups joined back together to share in a veritable feast of cold pies, sandwiches, crisps, cakes, and butterbeers.
As the party began to wind down, I quietly nodded to Louis, and the two of us headed down the shoreline a little. Once we were relatively isolated, I started with:
“So... it seems that I owe you a massive apology.”
“Good to know. Apology accepted.” His easy forgiveness only furthered my guilt. “Out of interest though, what exactly did everyone think I’d done, ‘cause I can’t believe I was really in this much trouble just for giving someone a second-hand gift.”
“No, that was pretty cheap of you, but if that was it you’d have just been mocked, at worst. Unfortunately, the toy in question, well it was ... kind of cursed.”
“What! Is Electra... is she OK?” Louis responded breathlessly. Well, that answers one question.
“She’s fine; in fact, you already know what the effect of it was.”
Louis looked flummoxed for a few moments, before realisation eventually dawned. “You don’t mean... the thing where she became ‘un peu obsessive’?”
“Yup; the toy had a charm around its neck, created by none other than our own dear Uncle George. It was basically meant to make you fall in love with the person who gave it to you. Of course, you didn’t keep it around long enough to feel the effects, but Electra kept hold of the toy, and then later just the charm, for weeks on end; hence, the whole going a little crazy.”
“I don’t get it though, if the charm was just supposed to make me fall for some girl, why didn’t it just make Electra fall for me, or I guess the person who gave it to me? And how do you know about all this.”
This stopped me, as I sought to help out my much maligned cousin without breaking my promise.
“I hate to be keeping yet more secrets,” I eventually answered, “but I can’t tell you that. Please just believe me when I say that the person involved won’t be trying anything like this again, and that it’s best you don’t know anymore about it.”
“Alright, I won’t ask, on one condition; help me explain it all to Electra.”
“You’re on,” I promised, relieved that we were finally speaking terms again, and pleased to have permission to meddle in their affairs, “Let’s go now – we should be able to catch them directly post-makeover if we hurry, and Electra’s always in a more forgiving mood when she’s looking good.”
Following the rest of our now departing clan, we made our way back to the Gryffindor common room. I was, obviously, nervous about the upcoming meeting, but with my family around me, I hoped that I could soon get everything back to normal.
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