Chapter 1 : One.
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I am small, delicate-boned, what my granny calls “the aristocratic result of two of the oldest Wizard Pureblood families’ union.” And it’s funny, because the way she appraises my fair un-freckled skin, high cheekbones, and tiny hands; the way my mother’s eyes fall and my dad stares at her; I sometimes get the feeling that granny isn’t talking about the two families I think she is. But then my mother hugs me close and tells me how my father loves me so much more than I could ever know, and my fear fades away.
My name is Lily Luna Potter, I am eleven years old, and I look like my mother.
I received my Hogwarts letter today. I’m afraid. I don’t want to go. Mum and Dad don’t talk nicely to each other anymore, and I don’t know what will happen once I’m gone to keep them from fighting. I’ve known for quite a while that they don’t love each other anymore, but what I don’t know is where to draw the line. When did the love fade to indifference? To hate? Why don’t I freckle in the sun like my brothers? My cousins? Even Teddy gets freckles. There’s only one person in the whole world I’ve never seen get as much as a tan in the summer.
One night I wake up at an obscene hour and go downstairs for a drink of water, and hear my mother sitting awake. She doesn’t hear me wandering about, pacing the living room as noisily as she is, and I stand in the doorway to watch her talk to the man in the fire. I can’t see his face.
“I miss you, Ginny.”
Mum stops walking then, her back to the fire and head bowed. She looks very young suddenly, and very sad. “I know. I know. I miss you too, but…we promised.”
“When were you ever one to keep a promise, Weasley?” the man asked with a hint of laughter in his voice, and Mum smiles to herself. Then it strips away and she turns to face the man.
She is lost for words for the first time I’ve ever seen in my whole life. She sits down on the sofa with her back to me and puts her face in her hands. “I can’t do that to my family again. I just can’t.”
I shift from foot to foot and the floor squeaks. Mum spins around, sees me, and goes white as a sheet. Seeing as I’m already in trouble, I don’t see what going into the room can hurt, but I look into the fireplace only seconds too late; there are green flames just fading from the hearth.
“Who was that, Mum?” I ask. She shakes her head and points me up the stairs, and I go back only because she’s acting so odd.
Even though I fuss and cry and squirm like a little kid, Mum drags me into the car and to the train station for my first year at school. Hugo sits with me in my compartment, and we watch across the corridor while Scorpius Malfoy and Hugh’s sister Rose, both 13, flirt shamelessly – simply because they’re of opposite genders and in close proximity – before the train even leaves the station. Scorpius looks familiar to me somehow, like a face I’ve seen a thousand times before even though we’ve never met.
Hugo asks me what my mum is doing, and I look out the window. She’s not looking at me, but somewhere in my general direction. I crane my neck to get a view of directly below my window. Scorpius’s father Draco is leaning casually against the steaming train, saying something to my mum, but I can’t hear what is that’s making her face flush in such a way. I’ve only ever seen Mr. Malfoy twice before in my whole life, and they both were right here at this very train station. I don’t really know what makes my dad hate him so much, as Scorpius was over to visit this summer and he seems like a swell guy, but even just looking at his dad gives me the heebie-jeebies.
As if he feels me watching, Draco Malfoy says something that makes Mum’s eyebrows disappear and then turns to look directly at me. I’m so surprised that I can’t look away, my face on fire as I stare through the thick glass into his steely eyes. There is a very long moment where neither of us moves, and then, very oddly, the eldest Malfoy smiled. It was taunting and made my skin crawl, especially when he raises one thin-fingered hand to his lips and blows me a kiss. Mum grabs his shoulder and spins him around; her wand is out and she looks ready to kill, her eyes darting around the platform with horror. I follow her eyes and see Dad coming, and for some reason I can’t explain, I bolt so he won’t see who Mr. Malfoy was pretending to be kind to.
My name is Lily Luna Potter, I am thirteen years old, and I suppose I resemble my mother.
My hair is getting lighter. I look like an anemic carrot. I can’t believe I’m 13 and I’ve never even been kissed before. All the girls make fun of me because I’m flat as a board and have pimples on my face. There, my teen angst is over with. Besides, it’s not as if I’m completely undesirable. On my birthday I received an unmarked gift in the post, and after Dad checked it for curses I opened it up to find a beautiful set of bracelets that glittered like frost.
Dad threw them away with disgust, and I cried for hours. Mum looked like she might have joined me if Dad hadn’t dragged her from the room and started shouting at her.
I don’t want that trash in my house.
It’s just jewelry, Harry.
It’s not just jewelry Ginny, it’s his jewelry.
Well then sell them, for Merlin’s sake, and put the Galleons in a fund for her or something, do the poor girl that much!
Why do you think we need his money?!
Harry, why must everything be a contest between you two?! It’s been this way since you were children!
I’m just trying to understand why you had to do what you did, Ginny! Was he really that much better, or were you just bored?
You know full well that neither of us was happy! If anything, it brought us together again!
Oh, of course, because we’re the shining fucking example of a perfect family unit.
I turn to James and Albus with a question on my lips, but stop before I make a sound. They are looking at me in a way I have never seen on them before, one that Mum has tried to keep from the faces of all of my older cousins and aunts and uncles over the years, and I feel suddenly as if I don’t quite belong.
My name is Lily Luna Weasley Potter, I am fourteen years old, and if you look at pictures of me and my mother you can see that we are clearly related.
On a day near my fifteenth birthday Astoria Malfoy, the Daily Prophet claimed, ran away from her husband and children to be with some Muggle lover she had taken in France. The European Wizarding upper-class was already imploding, the news spreading that dozens of Pureblooded wizards’ wives had been helping Mrs. Malfoy meet with her Muggle without being discovered for over three years. Rumors were flying about the newsprint pages that even my parents wouldn’t have been able to ignore, that sweet little Iris was not Mr. Malfoy’s natural daughter, that Astoria went on a rampage about how she had never loved them, even Scorpius, that she had given up her dreams and the man she loved to follow family duty, but it wasn’t enough, and that she would sooner kill herself than be away from her love any longer.
Normally I would have claimed that I wasn’t interested in the gossip and move on to the funny-photos on page nine, but the bold yellow letters of the article’s title were strong enough to linger in my mind until even now. It wasn’t really because of the article, but because that morning I looked up from the photograph of what was left of the once-proud Malfoy family and saw my mum. I said good morning but she didn’t answer, staring, white-faced, at the paper in my hands.
“What is that?” she asked, her voice high and shaking as she nodded at the paper. I held it out to her and she read the story in silence, her eyes as wide as if she were both terrified and maybe thrilled. My heart started to race for no reason at all as I watched her read with her hand over her mouth. I didn’t get why she was so taken aback. She had always hated the Malfoys anyway.
Then Mum kissed me goodbye like it was any other day, went to work, and didn’t come back.
No one seemed concerned, but they all looked angry or hurt or some other emotion I couldn’t quite pinpoint. They all started giving me pained looks whenever I asked about where she might be. Why weren’t they calling the Aurors if she had left with no note, no owl or Floo? Why did they look almost disappointed, especially when they looked at me? It wasn’t like I was the one who vanished without a trace. Then I heard Uncle Ron mutter something about “…just like last time…thought this was over with…” to Aunt Hermione.
Mum came home a week after she left, and I was happier than I had been in a long time. For a moment, I even imagined that once her little fit was over things would get better, and I hugged her so tight we both hurt, silently begging her to make this true. She held me ferociously back, and I could feel her trying to make up for so much more than disappearing.
I knew that I was dreaming in vain even before she and Dad fought that night. They didn’t yell; it was so much worse than Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione’s little squabbles because, as James so eloquently likes to say, “this shit is real”. I sat at the bottom of the stairs and listened to them talking in dangerously low voices, heard them both get so emotional it made my heart hurt, and Mum’s soft “All I want is Lily.” Dad didn’t protest. Even now, thinking back on it, I want to scream, shout, kick my feet, anything to fill up that void that comes with having a man raise me who never loved me for a day of my life, who never fought for my happiness, for a reason I didn’t know and couldn’t change.
After that night, the house was silent. It was not comforting.
After four months my mum and dad confirm the things whispered in the Prophet and among the other girls in my dorm when they think I’m asleep: they are getting a divorce. James hardly seems bothered since he’s of age now, but Albus’ fists are clenched into dangerous white rocks of the hormonal rage he’s been going through. He’s glaring at me with those shocking green eyes as if I’m responsible for all of this. James tries to get up, he’s got a date, but Mum’s pleading look sends him back down.
Dad says all of the things that dads are supposed to when a family is falling apart. We’re still a family, no matter what. Things are going to be so much better once this is over. Mum and I love you all the same, no matter what. He won’t look at me when he speaks of love. My heart wrenches in my chest, shrinks, is beaten down again and again by the smallest memories of dad not picking me up when I’m crying or not missing a single one of James and Al’s Quidditch matches but getting busy when I have a dueling tournament, condenses, melts, and fuses until it is a tiny ball of white-hot anger. My lungs shrink; I can’t get in a proper breath.
You’re a liar, I want to scream. You don’t love me. You’ve never loved me. Do you think I’m stupid not to see? Then everyone is staring at me and my face is burning and I realize that I did scream all of those things after all. I’m standing up, panting, feeling more alive than I ever have before. It feels as if someone has cut open my chest and released the load of hot air that has been pressing up inside of me for fourteen years. It feels so good.
Mum looks fiercely proud, almost as if she’s been waiting for me to stand up for myself all these years, but Dad looks angrier with me than he’s ever been with Mum. James has closed his eyes as if he can’t stand to look at any of us, and he looks so much like Dad. Albus too. I feel sick suddenly, and run upstairs to my mother’s bedroom – gods, they sleep in separate bedrooms – and lay face down on her bed. The pillow smells like her perfume, soft and flowery and so very Mum.
James and Albus go to their rooms after me; only minutes later Mum and Dad’s low voices rise to a rumble, then a roar, and then at last Mum slams something and screams “So what, Harry?! Snape was in Slytherin, Regulus was in Slytherin! Dammit, your own son is in Slytherin!” I burrow my face deeper in the pillow as I imagine poor Al cringing as his every insecurity over the House we share attacks him. “Every house has its flaw, Harry! Gryffindors are noble to the point of reckless stupidity, Ravenclaws think they’re better than everyone else, Hufflepuffs will blindly do anything for anyone who says ‘We’re friends, right?’; so Slytherins are able sweet-talk their way out of a tight-spot, who cares? You certainly…” Her voice trails away from my hearing as she mutters something.
“That’s different, and so is Albus!” Dad shouts back at her, and I bristle silently.
Mum kicks something, I think. “Why is it that Albus is any different from Lily?!”
“Because Albus isn’t the son of a Death Eater!” Dad finally hollers with rage. There is a horrible, gaping silence in which I sit up and stare at the open door. What the hell does that mean?
Mum’s voice comes back to him, quietly at first and growing in strength. “Don’t you realize that you’re being just as horrible to that sweet, kind girl who has done nothing wrong but love you, as the Dursleys were to you as a child, Harry?”
“Get out of my house.”
I’m joined by my mother moments later when she bursts into the room with one trembling hand covering her mouth, holding back cries. She stares at me for a long time, scrutinizing every little feature on my delicate face, and I know she’s trying to figure out if I understand what Dad meant. I don’t.
“Is this all because of the Malfoys?” I ask without really thinking, and Mum cringes. “Because Dad is like your Mr. Malfoy?” Mum looks like I’ve punched her in the gut she’s so dumbfounded, and instead of answering crawls into the bed and wraps her arms around me. She is strong, still young, secure and lasting, and I love her more than I love anyone in the world, but she’s shaking as she holds me. I fall asleep with her whispering beautiful little lies in my ear. You father loves you, Lily. I promise you, he does.
I wake up and my mother is no longer with me. I’m in an unfamiliar bed, unfamiliar bedroom, in a house I’ve never been to before. I sit up and rub my eyes and look around and feel surprisingly calm. The room is a shade of sweet pink that I’ve never been able to wear with my red hair, and outside the window is a quaint little park with paths and flowers and a stable far back. I stand up to get a better look; the floor is a pristine almost-white hardwood and warm beneath my shoes. I’m still dressed from last night and feel gross. There’s a note on the wall that says We’re waiting for you downstairs. There are clothes in the chest. Love, Mum.
I blink at the note in disbelief. Did Mum and Dad really think that a vacation would make any of us feel better? Make me feel less like an alien in my own home? Make Albus stop blaming me for everything that’s ever gone wrong in our family? Shaking my head, I open a door and find what has got to be the most amazing bathroom ever. It’s bigger than my bedroom at home, all in shades of mint-green and white and gold. I shower, taking time to play with the soaps, touch an Insta-Pad to dry rather than toweling off, and then venture nakedly out to the bedroom to find clothes.
I expect all of the clothes in the chest of drawers to be mine from home, but again I’m swept away by all the silky blouses and satin dresses and soft cotton skirts in every color imaginable. Without glancing at my reflection I pull out a light blue flowered blouse and a brown skirt, and slip them on with a pair of white slippers. I suspect an instant tailoring charm, as it all fits perfectly. Something sparkly catches my eye, and my breath halts in my throat at the sight of the bracelets Dad took away from me on my thirteenth birthday. He must have kept them after all. I pull them onto my wrists with a grin, thinking that maybe once he and Mum are apart he might actually start to like me, and skip out into the corridor, feeling like a proper lady in the new clothes.
One summer when I was 12 my family went to a vacation house in Wales; this house is nothing like it. Firstly, it is not a house, it’s a bloody mansion. Secondly, nothing about it is quaint or cozy; the mansion is all high ceilings and polished oak paneling and freshly-waxed floors that scream rich and intimidating bureaucracy. It takes me twenty minutes of nervous wandering before I find any change in the scenery, passing empty portrait frames and enormous ornate vases and windows that stretch from the floor to the ceiling. I almost knock over one of the pretty vases I’m so flabbergasted by the enormous manor, catch it just in time, and then spin around to apologize when a door swings open behind me and suddenly I’m faced by an equally-confused Scorpius Malfoy.
“What are you doing here?” we blurt out at the same time. “I asked you!” We blink, stunned, and blush simultaneously. “Stop it!” I stomp my foot, he rolls his eyes, and I notice that we cross our arms in the exact same way. Our eyes gingerly meet and he starts to laugh, and then I start to laugh, and we both lean against the wall in a moment of perfect companionship. I feel for a brief moment that I belong somewhere.
He ruffles my curly hair and I hit him. “You’re not too bad, y’know Potter?”
“Weasley,” I correct without thinking. A smile creeps across my face as he leads me to the stairs. “And thanks. That’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said.” We both smile at each other and then I look and see my mother at the bottom of the stairs, 25 years worth of forced happiness made up for, judging by the look on her face. I meet her at the bottom and find Scorpius had remained, hovering, by my side. Mum hugs me close and I breathe her in. I feel so different just from waking up in a different house with different people in it, like a box-Skrewt released into the biggest of lakes.
“I love you,” Mum tells me, and I believe her. “Your father loves you.”
I pull away from her arms with an incredulous look. How can I really ever know if he loves me when Mum’s the only person to ever tell me he loves me? And after all she said about the Dursleys, how can she still claim it to be true?
Mum senses my hesitation and touches my arm. “Lily, there’s so much you need to know,” she says in a shaking voice, eyes sparkling with unshed tears. I follow her into a grand parlor, gilt with mahogany and silver, and standing by the fireplace wringing his hands like a teenager waiting to take his OWLs is none other than Draco Malfoy. He looks up when we enter and goes white as if he’s terrified of me. Well it’s not as if I’m happy to see him either, but Mum is smiling at him in such a comforting way that even I’m affected, and allow her to nudge me closer to him.
He looks carefully at me, examining my every feature, smiles faintly as if he likes something he’s seen there, touches a lock of my lightening hair, my cheek, kisses my forehead, and then I feel something so strange. I feel everything that I never had the chance to feel with my Dad; I suddenly feel as though this is the man who would have picked me up off of the dirt and kissed it all better, who would have fought for me, who would have come to every dueling-club tourney, who will come to every dueling-club tourney.
I look to my right, see the face of Draco Malfoy and my own face in a mirror over a side table, and then I know why I’ve never felt like I belonged in my family. It wasn’t really my family.
I start crying from the shock, and he hugs me tightly to him, and then Mum touches my hair and this just feels so right I can’t stand it. I shouldn’t feel like this, should I? I should feel strange. I’ve only seen this man once in my life and he was sneering at me. But now he’s holding me with more love than I’ve ever though I had the capacity to feel.
My name is Lily. I am fifteen years old today. I look like my father.
Hey, all! I wrote this for the Draco/Ginny fic exchange, and got an honorable mention sort of award from a mod. It was very exciting.
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