The Burrow loomed eerily out of the darkness, the many floors and windows peering darkly down at me. I paced awkwardly in front of the door, tripping accidentally over the thousands of Wellington boots that littered the front porch. I looked up quickly to see if anyone had seen me.
Although I had got dressed and ready to go a few thousand hours before, I still hadn’t plucked up the courage to come to the Weasley home until now. I was scared that if I came here and found Lysander, that he wouldn’t have an excuse or an alibi for the night of Lorcan’s death. I was scared that the doubting would come true if I found him. I couldn’t even go into the house. I knew he was there. He told me he’d be staying there while he found a place in London. He knew that Nana Molly was always there to welcome him with open arms. Through the window, I could see his stuff lying on the kitchen table.
I should trust him. He was my best friend once. After everything that happened, whatever we are to each other now, I should be able to trust him. I paced up and down one last time, willing myself mentally to go in there. It won’t be that bad, I told myself. He would explain to me where he was that night and he would explain to the Aurors. The case would have a minor setback, but that was recoverable. They would find another suspect. I don’t know why I was so nervous. I took a deep breath and stepped towards the door, my fingers reaching for the handle.
I turned to see Scorpius running towards me, his Auror robes flying behind him. I was struck with a pang of jealously. Scorpius still had his routine, as disorganised as it was. He could get up, go to work, come home, and go to bed. I wasn’t sure what I envied about it, although the structure of it all was insanely tempting. With no job, no boyfriend, and my family and friends working all the time, I had nothing.
“What are you doing out here?” Scorpius asked, pushing his hair back from his forehead.
“Well I was just about to...”
“Did you hear about Lysander? I can’t believe they think he killed his own brother!” He spat angrily.
‘You don’t sound angry,” he said accusingly.
“I am!” I protested weakly, “I’m pretty furious.”
Scorpius eyed me suspiciously. “Do you know something?”
“No, it’s just that...” I faltered. I could feel water from the damp grass seeping into my shoes.
“Let’s just go,” Scorpius said exasperatedly, pushing me out of the way so he could open the door. “I told Rose that I was coming.”
I followed him inside and the warmth of the kitchen was welcoming. I could hear raised voices coming from the living room as I sat down in one of the old, wooden chairs. It was the only time in my whole entire life that I felt nervous to be sitting there. I gulped anxiously and watched as Scorpius paced up and down, his footsteps echoing. I wondered where everyone was. The Burrow was usually bustling with redheaded people, coming in and out for supper or just a cup of tea. The house was oddly silent.
“Scorpius, thank Merlin.”
Rose had rushed in, her smart appearance uncharacteristically ruffled. She threw herself into his arms, her head nestling into his shoulder. Scorpius held her tightly. Jealousy flooded me again as I saw them together. I wished there was someone to hold me, so that I wasn’t so alone.
“What’s happening?” Scorpius said, releasing her.
“Molly’s here,” she said, “and Louis.”
“Louis? Why is he here?” I asked. My little brother was meant to be in France.
“He’s taking Lysander back to France with him. He’s going to stay with him and Molly.”
It was like my fears had been realised. I stayed frozen in my seat while Rose and Scorpius talked in hushed voices. I could not believe it. I refused to believe it.
“He’s running away?” I asked them, and the couple turned to face me.
My breath caught in my throat, and I felt light-headed. I closed my eyes and rested my head in my hands. I felt someone’s hand grasp my arm.
“Dom, remember he’s innocent.” It was Rose. I opened my eyes again and looked at her. She was perfect. Her whole bloody life would be perfect when she married Noah. I looked at her, and I reminded myself that was what my life had been like. I looked at her and all I felt was an unbearable surge of envy and rage. I looked at her and remembered that neither she nor Scorpius knew about what had happened between Lysander and me. Nobody did. She did not know what I was going through. Her complicated love triangle with Noah and Scorpius was pitiful in comparison. Noah was not dead. Scorpius was not Noah’s brother. Scorpius was not going to kill Noah.
“How do you know?” I shouted at her, and I saw her flinch away from me. Scorpius merely stared at me.
“Dom, you can’t believe that,” he said quietly, crossing the kitchen to me and standing next to Rose. The sight of them together made me want to be sick. I could feel tears coming to my eyes.
“What do you mean?”
“He told me. He told me he could have killed him!”
The tears came freely then, the confusion and desperation of the situation crashed down on me. Rose grasped at my hands again, trying to pull me into her arms. Scorpius just continued to stare at me, disbelief etched all over his face.
“Rose...” he whispered, urging her to do something.
“Dom,” she said softly, stroking my hair, “I know you are upset. We all are. You just need to calm down. You’ve been through a lot.”
I couldn’t stand it. I hated that they thought I was incapable of doing anything by myself. I hated that they thought I doubted Lysander because of my ‘fragile’ state.
“Dom,” she continued, “When did he tell you?”
“Had he been drinking?” Scorpius added sarcastically before resuming his pacing up and down the kitchen. I stood up; pulling Rose out of my way and walked towards him.
“Tell me, once again, when was the last time the love of your life died?” I asked sardonically. I saw as his eyes flicker towards Rose, but I kept staring at him, willing him to answer. Silence filled the empty kitchen.
“I’d rather have Lorcan back than lose Lysander.”
“You don’t mean that,” Scorpius said.
“You don’t know what I mean.”
“I think I do.” Scorpius pulled me closer to him. “I know you, Dom, you’d much rather have someone living than someone dead.”
“You can say that because the person you love is still alive,” I shuffled closer to him, and whispered in his ear, “You would have changed your tune if Rose had been attacked.”
I saw his face turn pale, and the grip he had on my arms faltered. His head turned towards Rose again, and his eyes softened.
“When was the last time your whole world collapsed?” I said quietly. I felt horrible saying it and I felt horrible watching realisation dawn on Scorpius’ face, only to be replaced by pity and sympathy.
The silence crept back eerily, but this time the voices from the next room could be heard. I could hear Lysander’s accent through the wall, as well as Victoire’s voice and Teddy’s dulcet tones.
“I don’t whose side to choose,” I said quietly. A tear trickled out of Rose’s eye, but she wiped it away quickly as if afraid of feeling anything.
“You sound as if you know that Lysander killed him.”
I stared blankly at Scorpius for a while, and the voices in the next room grew louder. I wondered if they could hear the conversation that was taking place in here. I pondered whether Lysander knew that I was about to betray him. I would always choose Lorcan and he knew that. Lysander knew that if the time came, I would always take his brother’s side.
“They have evidence,” I said weakly. “I know he did it.”
Scorpius pushed over a chair and the sound rang in my ears. He weaved his hands through his hair, his pacing becoming faster. Rose was crying freely now, and still the voices in the next room grew louder and louder. My eyes stayed fixed on the floor, staring blankly at the wooden planks.
“He’s one of your oldest friends, Dom,” Scorpius shouted, and for a moment he possessed the same violent quality that Lysander had the night that Lorcan died. The memory made my insides squirm.
“Scorpius, please,” Rose pleaded. She doesn’t mean it. She’s just confused because he’s been accused of Lorcan’s murder. It would have been different if it was anybody else.”
“So you’re saying that he’s going to be killing other people?”
“No, Scorpius, you have to listen to me -”
I watched them bickering and arguing about me. I didn’t care what they thought; the nagging and doubting thoughts that had clouded my brain were gone. Lysander was running away from it all. There was the evidence the Aurors found and his own admission. Lysander had done it.
“Scorpius, you don’t understand. I’m agreeing with you. It’s just that Dom has been through a lot. She can’t be thinking straight,” Rose reasoned. They both looked at me encouragingly.
“I hate that you think that,” I said, and they both visibly deflated. Rose leant towards me, rubbing my arm comfortingly.
“What evidence do they have?” She asked me quietly. “It has to be circumstantial.”
“I’m not sure whether it is.” Rose and Scorpius shared another indignant look. The voices in the next room paused. I could imagine Lysander pacing up and down and pulling out great chunks of his hair, much like Scorpius had done. Victoire would be sitting daintily in one of the old armchairs, trying (and failing) to reason with him. Teddy would be there for ‘her moral support’.
“You’re not sure?” Scorpius asked angrily, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Then how can you jump to these conclusions?”
“If he was innocent,” I began. “He would stay and explain it and fight it. He wouldn’t run away!” I shouted the last line and Rose and Scorpius simply stared at me. The old, magic clock on the wall chimed the hour, and I could hear the voices in the other room die away. The door to the kitchen opened and Lysander, Victoire and Teddy all walked in.
I had expected that he would have changed, that I would see him in a different light now that I knew he was a murderer. He looked exactly the same. He behaved exactly the same. Lysander didn’t seem to express remorse or sorrow for what he had done.
“Dom,” Victoire said breathlessly and pulled me into her arms, engulfing me with her French perfume and long, blonde hair. Teddy raised a hand in greeting.
“You guys alright?” Lysander asked, looking around at the incredulous looks on Rose and Scorpius’ faces. “Looks like somebody just died.”
“Someone did,” I answered, deadpan. The silence fell all around as Lysander and I stared at each other, his blue eyes pleading with me.
“Where is everybody?” Rose croaked, and I turned to look at her.
“They are all at Shell Cottage,” Victoire said.
“What about Molly and Louis?”
“Sorting out the port key. We decided it would be less suspicious if they came over to pick him up instead of Lysander going over by himself. The authorities will never know how many people were on the return journey,” Teddy said.
“Look at us,” I said sardonically, my eyes still transfixed on Lysander’s. “We are all proper little criminals now, aren’t we?”
“He’s practically family though,” Victoire reasoned, “and we’d do anything for family.”
I scoffed, raising my eyebrows at Lysander, who shook his head slightly before he broke our gaze. He knew all about helping out family. Lysander looked around at all the other people in the room.
“Can we have a minute?” he asked them. His question was followed by the sound of scraping chairs on the floor and footsteps. My eyes stayed glued to his face.
“Remember that the port key leaves in five minutes,” Teddy said, before him and his wife disappeared through the door to the living room. Scorpius lingered awkwardly, his fingers tapping the back of the wooden chair that Rose was sitting in. She stood elegantly.
“Come on, Scorpius,” she said quietly.
“She thinks you did it,” he shouted, pointing at me hurriedly. It was as if Scorpius was ratting on me to the teacher or my mother. Lysander ran his fingers through his hair again.
“Scorpius,” he whispered, his eyes downcast. “Just go.”
Scorpius stared at him. His disappointment that Lysander didn’t even try to defend him himself was obvious. Rose urged him to leave, leading him out the kitchen by grabbing onto his hand. As he was taken away, Scorpius just continued to gaze at us. Finally the door shut with a snap and the silence returned, thick and fast.
“So,” Lysander began awkwardly. “You think I’m a murderer.”
He tried to smile but failed miserably, an odd grimace forming on his lips instead. I looked at him, properly, and I wondered whether he looked like a murderer. I supposed you never could tell.
“You’re leaving,” I said.
“And were you going to say goodbye this time?” I asked him.
“I was going to send you a letter,” he answered weakly.
I laughed at him. It was pathetic. He was pathetic. I felt anger, raw and vehement, bubbling up inside of me. I stood, walking dangerously close to him.
“Yes,” he replied simply.
“And what was it going to say? Was it going to explain to me the intricate details of how you murdered my boyfriend? Because those, Lysander, those I’d love to know.”
I saw him flinch and his jaw clenched. I could see every feature of his face, every freckle and blemish. His hair hung into his eyes. I remembered, a long time ago it seemed, imagining sweeping it back from his forehead, to remind myself how it felt - how soft it was. I just felt disgusted, disgusted that I could have ever thought those things about Lysander. They looked the same, but they were different.
A long scar trailed down the left side of his face. Perhaps that was the product of the fight he had with Lorcan, before -
“I didn’t kill him,” he said.
I laughed again, and I saw his resolve break.
“There’s no point lying now, Lysander,” I said patronisingly. “We are all family here.”
“I didn’t kill him,” he repeated.
“What’s your alibi?”
“I can’t tell you,” he responded and he looked at me. For a second our gazes locked.
“When I went travelling, I had to do things. I can’t say.”
“That’s because you don’t have one,” I continued. “You don’t have an alibi because you were too busy bashing his head in.”
I cried. They weren’t tears of sadness. They definitely weren’t tears of joy. Tears of anger flowed down my cheeks as I stared up at Lysander - the man who killed the love of my life. He was the man who changed my life with his return.
“I hate you.”
Lysander grabbed my hands forcefully, and I tried to move free but his grip was too strong. One of his hands came up to hold my chin, pushing my face towards his.
“I love you.”
I wanted to be sick. I wanted to wash it all from me: every essence of him, every memory and every touch. I never wanted to see him again. I wanted to kill him. I wanted to show him how much he destroyed me, how much he hurt me, how much he changed my life. I needed him to leave, but I also needed him to stay - for him to take his punishment and for him to get what he deserved. I was desperate for him to get his hands off me.
He didn’t. Instead, he pulled me closer to him, his arms snaking around my body and crashed his lips forcefully to mine. My hands scrambled at his chest and at his face, trying to push him away. I needed to get his lips off mine. I moaned into mouth, trying to shout ‘no’ but failing. I hit him repeatedly on the back of the head. He finally relented, but he pressed his forehead to mine, his breath coming in short, sharp bursts. I could feel it against my skin, hot and foul. I pushed him away from me and ran to the other side of the kitchen.
“What was that meant to do?” I screamed at him. He kept looking at me like he had never seen me before.
“I wasn’t sure.”
“Just get out,” I yelled. “Otherwise I’m going to tell the Aurors.”
Lysander began to walk towards me.
He opened the door, and I could see Molly and Louis standing on the other side. Louis gave me a sad smile, but I couldn’t look at him. I couldn’t look at anyone. The next few minutes seemed to happen as if I was on the other side of a thick glass window. I watched events occur without being involved in them. I could not hear what people were saying, but I could see everything: Victoire wishing Louis a tearful goodbye, Scorpius and Rose wishing Lysander good luck and Teddy and Molly discussing something secretly. Then the old tin can Molly was holding glowed blue and the two cousins and the man I never wanted to see again disappeared.
And for a moment, I was happier than I had ever been.