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Sparks by momotwins
Chapter 8 : Love Lies in Ambush
 
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"You're a genuinely good man. There aren't many of you left."
- Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Act 2


Lucy was happily ensconced on one of the chairs outside her front door, in the cozy courtyard of her building, reading a book. A pot of tea sat on the small table beside her, the teacup in its saucer stirring itself lazily. She was so engrossed in her book she'd nearly forgotten about the Darjeeling waiting for her.

The gate to the courtyard, perpetually in need of oiling, swung open with a mild screech, and she looked up to see Hilarion coming toward her, his blonde hair glinting in the sunlight.

“Hi,” she said, suddenly feeling a bit breathless.

“Hi Lucy.” He sat down in the chair next to hers and propped his feet up, leaning back with a sigh.

Lucy set her book down next to the teapot and turned to face him, sitting sideways in her chair. “Is everything all right?”

“Roxanne chucked me,” Hilarion said, and Lucy caught her breath.

He wasn't seeing Roxanne any longer. He was free.

“She what?” Lucy asked cautiously, examining his face more closely. He didn't look at all upset. In fact, he looked... relieved. A warm feeling began to spread through her, and she wanted to dance around in glee.

“She said we shouldn't see each other any more,” he explained. “It was my own fault, I'm such an idiot-”

“Don't say that,” she interrupted him.

“You won't say that for long.” Hilarion sat up and turned in his chair to face her, propping his elbows on his knees as he leaned toward her. “You don't know what I did.”

She couldn't imagine him doing anything truly bad. He was just such a nice guy, he couldn't possibly have done something horrible to Roxanne. More likely he'd made a remark Roxanne didn't like. Roxanne could be touchy sometimes.

“Not that I'm heartbroken over it, actually,” Hilarion went on. “I mean, I thought I would be, at first, but really I just feel like a load of stress is off my shoulders. I don't think I ever really liked her, I just thought I did. Cause she's so pretty. But there was no... no spark between us.”

Lucy's heart was in her throat. He was saying all the things she'd imagined him saying, wanted to hear him say to her, and suddenly the fantasies she'd had of Hilarion, of him telling her he'd made a mistake dating her cousin when he really loved her, blended with the real Hilarion sitting in front of her, so that she had to blink hard and take a deep breath to steady herself.

“What was it that you did?” she asked, trying to keep her tone neutral.

“I got Perry to help me talk to her.”

Lucy frowned. “That doesn't sound bad to me-”

Hilarion's cheeks turned red. “No, it was. I couldn't talk to Roxanne, when we were out together alone, she was just... She was too smart, and she knew things I didn't know, and she said things I didn't understand, but I wanted her to like me, so I got Perry to listen in when I took Roxanne out, and he told me what to say to her, and I just had to repeat whatever he said.”

Lucy's mouth had fallen open as she listened, and the frown that creased her forehead deepened. “So you had a friend help you lie to Roxanne,” she said slowly, feeling rather stunned. The budding happiness when he'd started speaking had wilted, and she couldn't decide if she was feeling too much, or nothing at all. Numb, she decided. She was numb.

“It wasn't lying,” he protested.

“You pretended to be someone else,” Lucy pointed out. “To get her to like you. You lied so she would like you.”

“I didn't mean to,” said Hilarion lamely. “It was awful, I didn't like doing it, and I couldn't talk to her at all unless Perry was helping me so that was sort of a pain in the arse at the end of a date-”

“You pretended to be someone else,” she said again, almost as if she hadn't heard him.

Frustration filled Hilarion. He didn't know how to explain it properly to Lucy, but the way she was looking at him now was just awful. Roxanne had given him a similar look, as if he had taken Polyjuice Potion and transformed in front of her to someone completely different. It had been uncomfortable to see that look on Roxanne's face, but on Lucy, it was a hundred times worse.

It cut him to the bone.

“I was going to stop,” he said in a rush. “I didn't want to do it any more. I was going to break things off with her.”

“You never should have done it,” Lucy said quietly.

“I know that now, but I thought I had to.”

“No one has to do something like that,” she retorted. “Why on earth would you have to do something like that?”

She was starting to lean back away from him, and he caught her hands to keep her sitting there in front of him. She snatched them away as if his hands had burned her.

“Why did you do it?” she asked plaintively.

He wanted to roar with anger that he couldn't make her see his reasoning. “Because I needed help. I have a hard time talking to women.”

“You talk to me just fine,” Lucy said, the betrayal still on her face.. “Are you... Have you been pretending to be someone else with me?”

“No, of course not. You're different from other women,” Hilarion told her. “That's why we're friends.”

She closed her eyes briefly, as if he'd hurt her more deeply than she could face, and then got to her feet, stepping over the chair. He realized she was going to leave, and jumped to his feet, knocking over the chair he'd been sitting on. In the moment it took him to right it again, Lucy reached the door and opened it. He caught up to her in time to throw a hand out, blocking her from going inside with his arm across the doorway.

“Please just listen,” he begged her. “I don't want you to be angry with me.”

“I'm not angry,” she said in a high-pitched voice. “Why would I be angry?”

He didn't believe her for a second. It was there in her eyes, anger and hurt and pain, and it made him feel a little wild to know it was his own doing. “Lucy, please-”

She folded her arms across her chest. “You lied to her to get her to like you, and then you were going to break things off, you said. Were you going to tell her the truth? Or just chuck her because it had gotten too hard for you to carry on your lies?”

“No, I wasn't chucking her because it was too hard, I was going to chuck her because I realized it was never going to work with her.”

Lucy gave an angry huff. “Because you couldn't get Perry to help you lie forever?”

“No!”

“Then why would you do something like that and then still chuck her afterwards?”

“I told you why! Because I can't talk to women!”

“But you talk to me! You've talked to me for hours before!”

The argument circling around and around like this made him want to punch something. “But Roxanne isn't like you! I couldn't very well chuck her just because... because she wasn't you,” he said in frustration.

“Why not?” cried Lucy. “For me, just once, someone could do that for me-”

“You don't understand.” Hilarion raked a hand through his hair, leaving the blonde waves in disarray. “It wasn't like that, it was-”

Lucy cut him off with a gesture. “You're right, I don't understand. I don't understand you at all, and I thought I did. I thought I knew you.” Her voice caught but she steadied herself before she went on, “I never would have thought you'd do something like this. I never thought you were a liar.”

“Lucy-” He stretched out a hand to her, but she drew back.

“Don't, just don't.”

“What did you mean when you said someone could do that for you?” he asked, and Lucy gave him a look he'd never seen before from any woman. It was aching and sad and covered over something he didn't recognize.

“Just once,” she said quietly, “I'd like someone to want me that badly.”

“Lucy-”

“Goodbye, Hilarion.” She stepped inside and closed the door in his face.

“Lucy?” He pounded on the ancient wooden door, tried the doorknob rather frantically, but she'd locked it. “Lucy! Lucy, I'm sorry!”

But she didn't answer. He turned around and leaned against the door, sliding down until he was sitting on the cobbled courtyard, knees drawn up in front of him. He'd made a mess of things somehow with a friend he valued just as much as Perry. She'd probably never speak to him again. He didn't entirely understand what had just happened.

He hadn't really thought of it as lying at the time, but she was right. He'd been lying to Roxanne, pretending to be someone else. Pretending to be Perry. That look Lucy had given him – she was never going to speak to him again, he thought despondently.

He remembered suddenly what he'd said. I couldn't chuck her because she isn't you... She must have thought he meant -

What a complete ass he was. Lucy was never going to forgive him. He wasn't sure he was ever going to forgive himself.

The door opposite Lucy's flat opened, and a little old woman came out, her white hair curled neatly around her head, a teal handbag hanging from the crook of her arm. She shuffled over to him and gave him a sad shake of her head.

“You should be ashamed of yourself, young man.”

Hilarion stared up at her wide-eyed. “I-”

“Go on home now.” She opened her handbag and for half a moment, he expected her to pull a wand on him, but she merely took out a pair of yellow gloves and tugged them on. “You've said enough for tonight, I should think.”

“Yes, ma'am.” He got to his feet, gave Lucy's door one more worried glance, then followed her neighbor out of the courtyard.

When he got home, he sat on his sofa drinking butterbeers for an hour before the realization finally dawned that what Lucy probably thought he'd meant was exactly what he had meant. And he was an even bigger ass than he'd thought possible.

He had wanted to chuck Roxanne because she wasn't Lucy. Because he would rather have Lucy than Roxanne.

He hadn't realized that was in the back of his mind at the time. He'd only been thinking of how intimidating being around Roxanne was, and any time he had free time, rather than seeking her out and getting to know her better, his first thoughts had always been of Lucy. Every time he'd had a morning or an afternoon free from work, he'd gone to spend time with Lucy.

All that time and energy wasted on Roxanne, on an empty fantasy, lying to himself and to her, when the woman he'd been able to really be himself with – fearless honesty for the first time he could remember in front of any woman – had been waiting for him and he'd thought her only a friend.

A friend he'd pictured naked, his brain nudged him with the reminder. A friend he'd imagined kissing, late at night when he was alone.

Hilarion groaned. He really was completely thick, just like everyone thought. Why hadn't he seen Lucy? She was beautiful, and smart, but she made him feel comfortable. Relaxed. He didn't feel stupid and awkward with Lucy. She fit so naturally with him that he hadn't even realized what he had with her. There weren't a lot of people he really felt like he could be himself around, and even fewer women. Possibly only one woman.

He remembered the look on her face. Just once, I'd like someone to want me that badly. She must have had some feelings for him, but that was probably over now, after what he'd done. And the worst part was, he really did want her that badly. The thought of never talking to Lucy again, never seeing her smile at him again, was enough to make him want to drown his feelings in firewhiskey, and he didn't even like firewhiskey.

“You idiot,” he muttered, and drained his butterbeer.

*

“Do me a favor,” Perry began as he strolled down Diagon Alley with Roxanne. He had an arm around her waist; he still sort of felt like he didn't want to stop touching her in case this was all a dream and lack of contact made him wake up. They were meeting his friends for coffee – leaving his flat for the first time in two days. “Don't say anything to this lot about the whole Hilarion thing.”

“They're bound to ask when they realize we're together,” Roxanne pointed out.

“I just mean, don't tell them about what he did. He gets enough crap from them already, and he's kind of a sensitive guy really. He doesn't like being teased.”

Roxanne looked at him askance. “I don't know how you can defend him.”

“He's my best friend,” he reminded her. “And he didn't mean any harm.”

“I know.” She sighed. “It's more pathetic than anything, really. I won't say anything. If they ask, I'll just say we didn't have anything in common so we split up.”

Perry pulled open the door to their favorite little cafe and dropped a kiss on top of her head as she passed him. “Thanks, Roxy.”

Cornish Dan, Lina, and Cyril were already in the corner table near the window, the same spot they always took over in this cafe. Lina's eyes watched them approach with great interest, and Perry was sure she'd seen that little kiss in the doorway.

Since the cat was going to be out of the bag anyway, Perry went ahead and rested his hand on Roxanne's thigh as soon as they sat down. She smiled at him, leaning closer, and he ordered tea for both of them.

Lina was watching them with a smile, and Cyril seemed oblivious, but Cornish Dan waved a fork at them and said blithely, “So when did this happen? I thought she was dating your jock friend.”

“We split up,” Roxanne told him.

“And now you're with Perry.” Cornish Dan often felt the need to state the obvious, Perry reflected.

“Yep,” said Perry. Lina gave him a look that he knew meant she'd be asking for the full story eventually. He'd have to do some wriggling to avoid telling her; Lina, for all her apparent sweetness, could interrogate someone better than a KGB torturer.

“Well okay then,” said Cornish Dan, and the conversation moved on.

Roxanne sat back, her fingers tangling with Perry's in her lap, and listened to him joke around with his friends for a while. He was so relaxed, and she realized that even though the last two days had seen all of her plans for the future smashed to pieces with the loss of her famous-Quidditch-wife dreams, she was relaxed as well. She didn't know where she was going, but strangely, it didn't worry her. She was enjoying spending time with Perry, who had a remarkably laissez-faire attitude about the future himself, and that was enough for now.

There was no back-up plan. Hopefully things would work out at the Daily Prophet one day for her to take over Aunt Ginny's job, but if it didn't, she'd find something else to do. Perry had already suggested she ought to write a book, and the idea was growing on her.

She could be an author, with her songwriter boyfriend, sitting in cafes with his musician friends. That was an appealing picture. Although at this point, any picture with Perry in it was appealing. Even if she stayed at the Prophet writing fluff pieces and occasionally publishing papers in wizarding journals, that was enough, with him around.

Her fingers tightened on his, and he returned the squeeze.

“We went to visit Angus yesterday,” Cyril said, then added in an aside to Roxanne, “He's our drummer.”

“I remember,” she told him. “Broke his arm broom-racing?”

“That's the one,” Cyril nodded. “He hasn't been able to do much while he's been recovering-”

“Including cleaning,” said Lina. “His flat looked as if a troll had got loose in there. Smelled like it, too.”

Perry chuckled. “Angus is never very clean. Are you sure it wasn't just a Tuesday mess?”

Lina pulled a face at him. “It was worse than usual. By far. I'm not sure floor was visible.”

“He's just milking his injury,” Cyril declared. “The Healer told him he can start drumming again. His arm is fine now, all he had to do was rest it.”

“Cleaning isn't restful, I reckon,” Perry said dryly.

“Well, it's much better now,” Lina commented, giving Cornish Dan a sly look. “Dan cleaned up the living room while we were there.”

“Of course you did.” Perry grinned at his friend. “Bet Angus loved that.”

Cornish Dan rolled his eyes. “Not really, but I couldn't help myself. You couldn't see the floor, mate.”

Roxanne propped her chin on the heel of her hand and smiled sweetly at him. “I have got to introduce you to my cousin Molly.”

Lina raised an eyebrow at this apparent non-sequitur. “Your cousin?”

“Is she a writer too?” asked Cornish Dan.

“She plays Quidditch,” Perry told him. “Reserve Keeper for the Holyhead Harpies. And she's got a mohawk.”

Cornish Dan looked suitably impressed, either by Molly's career or by her mohawk. “Sweet.”

Roxanne laughed. “She also has an obsessively clean flat. You'll love her.”

“Pairing up your friends with Perry's already?” Cyril asked. “Next she'll be rearranging your entire life. My girlfriend did the same thing to me, and look where it led.”

“It led to me singing in your band, you git,” Lina said dryly.

Perry laughed, but he didn't care if Cyril needled him all day about Roxanne. She was smiling at him prettily, her eyes sparking with mischief, and he would have agreed to just about anything she wanted when she looked at him like that.

Besides, Lina would punish Cyril later for cracking jokes about her.

“Well, I can't sing a note,” Roxanne told them both.

“Lucky for you, or you'd be joining the band as well,” Lina said, and they both laughed. Perry, watching them with a smile, had an intense sense of satisfaction that Roxanne fit in so well with his friends. She fit him so perfectly, settling right into his life as if she'd belonged there all along.

She had belonged there all along, he thought, from the moment he saw her. Shame his friends were watching, or he would have kissed her right there.

“Speaking of our band, where's that song you promised us?” Cyril demanded, turning back to Perry.

“Not finished,” he said.

“Why the hell not? You've been working on it for a fortnight.”

Perry held up his hand to tick off his reasoning on his fingers. “One, because I've been in bed with Roxanne for two days straight-”

“Perry!” she exclaimed, giving him a kick under the table.

He grinned. “And two, because the song changed on me halfway through, and I had to rewrite it.”

“Changed?” Lina echoed, quirking an eyebrow at him.

“Yeah. And now you can't have it.”

Cyril sputtered at this remark. “What? Why the hell not?”

“Now it's Roxanne's song,” Perry told him. “So you'll have to ask her if you can have it.”

Roxanne's jaw dropped. “You wrote a song for me?”

“Not on purpose,” he said, “but yeah. It just sort of happened, and then I couldn't not write it. It's almost finished.”

“You wrote a song for me,” she said in wonder, and then put her hands on his cheeks to kiss him. She seemed to like doing that. She'd commented favorably on his scruffy beard the other day, so apparently he wasn't going to do a lot of shaving any more. Not that he ever had, much.

“Aww,” said Cyril. “So Roxanne, if the song's good, can we add it to our repertoire? We need new music.”

She kissed Perry again, then turned to him. “Yes, you can play it if you want to.”

“Good. Hey Perry, next time you say you'll write us a song, write us a song instead of writing one for your girlfriend,” Cyril told him.

They spent an hour in the cafe, drinking coffee and cracking jokes. Roxanne and Lina disappeared into the bathroom before everyone departed (Cyril rolled his eyes at this), and returned ten minutes later giggling. Lina smiled and winked at Perry as she and Cyril left, and he wondered what Roxanne had been telling her.

“You better not be telling embarrassing stories,” he warned her as they left the cafe. “It's hard enough for me to maintain my coolness when I've given up most of my obscurity.”

“Yes, dear.” Roxanne gave him a wink.

He groaned. “Don't yes, dear me. You don't get to do that yet.”

“Fine.” The smile she gave him was distinctly mischievous. “Yes, Peregrine.”

Perry clapped a hand over her mouth. “Roxanne! Someone could hear you!”

She was laughing. He could feel her breath against his hands, and her eyes danced, so he moved his hand and kissed her instead. She threw her arms around his neck and kissed him back, still chuckling a bit.

“I love you, Peregrine Chilcott,” she said after they broke apart, her eyes still dancing with laughter.

“Stop calling me that or I'll chuck you,” he told her.

She just laughed at him and slipped her hand into his as they set off down the street.

“You're a cruel woman,” he said, smiling at her.

“I know.”

*

It was hard to concentrate on work with a broken heart. Lucy had thought her concentration was bad when she'd merely been suffering from unrequited love, but this was ten times worse.

Every time she closed her eyes, she remembered standing there crying silently while he pounded on her door and called her name, and her heart broke all over again.

He hadn't even understood what he was doing, really, hadn't known that his words were tearing her apart inside. That's why we're friends. It had never even occurred to him that Lucy was someone he could be interested in as well. She was only a friend.

It was so much worse hearing it from him, worse than when she'd only thought it in her more despairing moments.

What he'd done, the lies and the deceit... It was more than she thought she could forgive. How could she ever trust him again? And even after Roxanne was out of the picture, he still hadn't really noticed Lucy. It just was so bloody unfair, she thought miserably, fighting the urge to throw the book in her hand across the room.

“You're very gloomy today,” observed Colwyn. They were in the back room of Flourish and Blotts, sorting out a new shipment of books that had come in, and Lucy had been so absorbed by her thoughts that she'd almost forgotten her coworker was even there.

“Sorry,” she said, trying to smile at him.

Colwyn wasn't fooled. “Did you and Hilarion Winston-Fisher break up?”

Lucy's hand stilled for a moment over the stack of books. The stab of fresh pain at the idea that she and Hilarion had been dating made her want to burst into tears. “We were never together. But I don't think we're friends any more.”

“You weren't?” Colwyn looked confused now, and seemed to forget about the books altogether, turning to face Lucy. “But he came looking for you, got your home address. He didn't look like he just wanted to hang out with you. I could tell.”

“Well, I reckon you were wrong, because that was what he wanted,” Lucy said bitterly.

Colwyn frowned. “Jerk. I hope you set him right.”

Lucy had to try hard not to cry. She hadn't set him right. It had been too humiliating to say out loud, to confess her feelings when he so clearly did not feel the same for her. “I really don't want to talk about it.”

“Well, you seem pretty down. Why don't you go on home? I'll finish this off,” Colwyn said, nodding at the boxes of new books. “Go home and get some rest.”

She'd never left work before the end of a shift before, but the idea of crawling into bed and crying for a while over a cup of tea sounded extremely comforting. “All right. Are you sure you don't mind?”

Colwyn waved her away. “Go. I'll tell Mr. Furmage you weren't feeling well.”

“Thanks, Colwyn,” she said, and though the smile she finally managed was small, it was sincere.

Lucy stopped to replenish her tea stores on the way home, but when she picked up the box of Darjeeling that she normally purchased, the memory that it was his favorite tea as well stopped her. She bought another box instead, grabbing one at random.

When she left the store, she stopped at the Disapparition spot on the corner of Diagon and Knockturn Alleys, and stopped at the point of Disapparating. She ought not go home, really. She ought to go to Roxanne's.

Lucy had avoided talking to Roxanne about Hilarion's deception, thinking that having to hear her cousin's distress over breaking up with the man she'd been calling her future husband for who knew how long would only intensify Lucy's own. After all, she wasn't sure that Roxanne wouldn't be upset with her for falling for Hilarion as well, even after Roxanne had broken things off with him. But maybe they were right when they said misery loves company, and she ought to go commiserate with her cousin. Instead of crawling into bed and crying, she could climb onto Roxanne's sofa and cry.

At the very least, she thought guiltily, she ought to check that Roxanne was all right.

She took a deep breath, gathering as much of her courage around herself as she could, and Disapparated for Roxanne's flat.

It took a while for Roxanne to answer the door, and when she finally did, Lucy was rather stunned to see her cousin smiling and a little red-faced. Was she blushing?

“Hi Luce!” Roxanne chirped. “Is everything okay?”

“Well, I don't know,” Lucy said without thinking. “Are you okay? I mean, Hilarion told me what he... what he did...”

“Oh that.” Roxanne dismissed it with a wave. “D'you want to come in for a bit?”

Lucy stepped past her, looking at her askance, and almost didn't see that Roxanne already had company. “How can you just say 'oh that' – oh,” she broke off when she caught sight of the man sitting on Roxanne's sofa. “Um, hi.”

“You remember Perry, right? He's Hilarion's best friend.” Roxanne plopped down next to him, and Lucy sat slowly on the chair next to her, surveying the pair of them thoroughly.

They were sitting so close together that their legs touched, in the middle of the large sofa, and now that Lucy looked around, there were glasses of wine on the coffee table. As she watched them, Perry put an arm around Roxanne's shoulders, and Roxanne smiled at him, a smile Lucy recognized.

Now that was interesting.

“Yeah, I remember.” Lucy tried to smile at Perry, but her manners seemed to be slipping with shock, and she couldn't quite manage it. She was sure that these two were together, though she could hardly believe it. Roxanne had chucked Hilarion and then gone off right away with his best friend?

Poor Hilarion. That couldn't be easy.

She squashed that thought ruthlessly. “Hi, Perry,” she said, and this time she managed to smile.

“Hi,” he said with an easy smile in return. “Nice to see you again.”

It came to her suddenly that Hilarion had told her Perry was the one to help him with his whole scheme. She wondered if he knew his friend was together with Roxanne now, as they clearly were together. “Does, um, does Hilarion know that you two are...”

“Oh yeah, he knows,” Roxanne said, rolling her eyes. “He basically set it up. As soon as he told me who'd been actually dating me, I went off to find Perry.”

“Oh.” Lucy wasn't sure what to say to that. Roxanne looked so happy. It didn't seem to bother her at all what Hilarion had done, but Lucy didn't want to say that in front of his best friend. And accomplice. She didn't know what to say next, though. This wasn't going at all the way she'd expected, and it left her rather flustered.

She'd thought to find Roxanne inconsolable on her couch, drinking too much wine, and meant to join her for a round of men-bashing, but instead Roxanne had already moved on. With Hilarion's best friend, who had helped him to deceive her.

It was too weird for words, even for a Weasley.

Perry was watching her closely, a small frown of concentration on his face. “You like him,” he said abruptly. “You fancy Hilarion.”

“What?” Roxanne turned to him, then back to Lucy. “Do you?”

Lucy had to fight the urge to burst into tears. “I didn't mean to, it just – I thought he was so sweet, and he only ever wanted to be my friend, I promise, it was only on my side, Roxanne, I never told him and nothing ever-”

“It's all right, Lucy,” Roxanne interrupted her, but then something seemed to occur to her. “Wait, when did you ever talk to him?”

“He left something at the shop at the book signing, and when he came back to get it, we wound up going out to lunch. And then we hung out a few more times. That's all.”

“How many is a few?” Perry inquired. “More than once a week?”

“Um, yes?” Lucy ducked her head guiltily. “Ever since the book signing.”

Roxanne still looked rather confused. “Well that was weeks ago. So he talked to you when you hung out with him?”

“Of course,” Lucy said. “We talked for hours,” she added, almost to herself.

“Interesting,” said Perry.

“Well good for you, cause he sure as hell couldn't talk to me for hours,” Roxanne put in. “He could hardly talk to me for two minutes. Do you really fancy him, Lucy?”

She didn't want to admit it out loud. “How can I when he turns out to be a liar?”

“He's not a liar,” Perry told her in a quiet voice. He didn't look angry. In fact, he still wore the same expression as before, when he'd asked how often she'd gone out with Hilarion. “He's a good guy. He just messed up, that's all.”

“And you helped him,” Lucy said mutinously. She didn't want to hear that Hilarion was a great guy right now. She'd spent weeks thinking that, only to have it dashed out from under her. Letting herself think that again was dangerous, at least to her heart.

“Like I told Roxanne, he's my best friend.” Perry gave a one-shouldered shrug. “That's what you do for your best friend. Even if it's to help him get the girl you really want.”

Roxanne bestowed a radiant smile on him, and Lucy tried not to scowl at the two of them. This was too much for her to watch, and she didn't want to try to talk to Roxanne about it in front of Perry, who was clearly only too quick to defend Hilarion. Lucy rose abruptly, and Roxanne blinked in surprise.

“Are you leaving already?”

“Yeah. I'll see you later, Roxy. It was nice to see you again, Perry,” she added, unable to leave without a polite farewell. Good manners were hard to overcome.

“Bye Lucy,” Roxanne said, watching her leave. A small frown of concern wrinkled her brow, but Lucy ignored her and fled.

After a bout of crying and a few hours completely alone in her flat – which felt emptier than it ever had – Lucy decided she didn't want to be alone any longer, and went to her parents' house for dinner. Her father wasn't home from work yet when she arrived, so she went out to the hill behind the house to wait alone, not wanting to chat with her mother. She stretched out in the grass to watch the overcast skies above her. The clouds hung heavy and dark with impending rain, as if they knew Lucy's mood and wanted to show their sympathy.

She couldn't remember feeling this miserable before. Falling in love with someone who loved her cousin, and turned out to be a liar... That had to be the worst luck ever. And now she couldn't even blame Roxanne for being so pretty and personable that Hilarion hadn't noticed Lucy, because even after Roxanne had chucked him, Hilarion had still thought of Lucy as only a friend.

There was no one left to blame for that but herself.

She heard footsteps approaching and dashed the tears away with the back of her hand. Molly sat down on the grass beside her and laid down at Lucy's side.

“Roxanne Flooed me. Are you all right?” she asked quietly.

“No,” Lucy said, her broken heart in her voice.

Molly's hand reached out to grasp hers, and Lucy laid there beside her sister and tried not to cry again as they watched the stormy skies.

 


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