Chapter 4: REQUEST
Scorpius had been in a lot of uncomfortable situations over his twenty-one years of life, but that morning was the worst he'd ever seen. Waking up in a strange apartment with only fractional memories of how he got there was the least of the blonde's concern. He could only hope that he hadn't said or done anything stupid towards Lily before passing out cold on her couch. He did his best to make himself as least intrusive as possible: he stayed utterly silent, folded up his blanket, kept his shoes out of the way, denied himself his morning cigarette. If it weren't for the smell of the pub that still lingered on his skin, he would not have taken her offer to use her shower, but he couldn't show up to work smelling like he had been up drinking all night. Even if it was the truth.
If he could have one do-over for that morning, it would have been the shower. He didn't know that when he emerged from his steamy refresher that he'd be faced with the accusatory gaze of Ginny Potter and...oh he couldn't remember the other's name, but he knew it was one of Lily's cousins. There were just so many and he was never one to follow their family business matters. He should have just gotten dressed and escaped when he had the chance. But no. He just had
to take the shower. And being seen without a shirt, in sweet Lily Potter's apartment, was not the worst of it. The red-head had shoved him from her door, shoes in hand, without his cigarettes.
So, Scorpius was forced to take a seat on the stairway in order to put his shoes back on. That wouldn't have been so bad if the door slamming commotion hadn't called around several neighbors to watch his hasty removal. What would people think? He could only be thankful that it was a Muggle apartment building. All the Saints couldn't help him if someone carried this sort of scandal to his mother. The young Malfoy's uncomfortable morning did not end with the walk-of-shame from Lily's apartment building. He then got to spend several tense minutes explaining to his coworker, Millie, why he smelled like a female's shampoo.
And all of it without a single smoke or even a cup of tea to balance him out.
By the time noon rolled around, Scorpius thought the worst of his day was behind him. Nate arrived for his lunch hour so they could skip out to have a quick bite together. The blonde was afraid that his friend would question him on his connection to Lily and how he managed to swing a nighttime invite, but he did not. Thankfully, the topic was never breached. Scorpius was sure that he was in the clear and could put the whole mess behind him.
Until he arrived back at work after his lunch break. Lily Potter's coppery mane was unmistakable, even pulled back into a loose plait. And the girl could not have looked more out of place in her pastel blue pleated skirt and blouse. Especially compared to the green-hair-streaked, ripped jeans wearing Millie, who was standing in front of Lily, waving a piercing gun. Scorpius was tempted to turn tail and run, but his coworker caught sight of him before he had a chance.
“Come here; would you tell this girl how hot nose rings are?” Millie put her hand on her hip and waved Scorpius over to them. “Wouldn't she look gorgeous
with a nice silver stud?”
The blonde put his fingers over his lips to keep from laughing at Lily's terrified face. He pushed the piercing gun out of sight and shook his head at the eager salesgirl. “Trust me, she's not the type.” He laid his hand gently on Lily's shoulder and guided her to the other side of the store—partly to get her away from Millie, and partly so that he wouldn't be seen talking to her. It wasn't that there was anything wrong with Lily, but she was the kind of girl that would call the wrong sort of attention to the young Malfoy. “What uh...what are you doing here?” he asked softly.
Lily flashed the young man a bright smile and chewed at her lower lip. “You told me where you worked last night.” She let out a slightly nervous laugh and glanced around. “Studz and Stuff. With a Z.” She traced the letter into the air, same as Scorpius had done the night before.
He groaned silently and stuffed his hands deep into his pockets. “I was actually wondering more like...why you were here, not how you got here. If this is about the shirt, I can send it back to you tomorrow. I'll even have it -”
“No. No, it isn't about that.” Lily twisted her fingers around her purse strings and shifted uneasily. “Well I brought you these back. I thought you might want them.” She fished out Scorpius' near-empty pack of cigarettes from her bag and handed them over.
“You came all this way to bring me these?” Scorpius threw the red-head a quizzical look and pocketed the returned goods. He was feeling a bit more amiable and less ashamed to be seen with her all of a sudden. And he knew how he was spending the last fifteen minutes of his lunch break. “Thanks.”
The girl let out another nervous laugh and her face flushed with worry. “Do you...do you have a few minutes? I really need to talk to you and it could take a little while.”
“Come out back with me.” Scorpius led the girl through the store and out into the back alley. He pulled up his usual crate and let her take a seat upon it while he leaned against the brick wall of the abandoned store next to Studz and Stuff. “You have -” he checked the time “- ten minutes.” He slipped his lighter from the pack of smokes and lit up while Lily began to talk.
By the time the girl was finished with her story, Scorpius was sure that she was making it all up. It seemed so outlandish. Fake dates, perfect guys with perfect jobs, six months worth of making up excuses, pretending to be in love with some fabricated bloke just to keep her family happy: it was all story book material, surely. He could only stare at Lily with a vacant, confused expression when she reached what he thought to be the end of her tale. “And so I promised to bring him to dinner tonight.”
“That...has got to be...the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard.” Scorpius waved the butt of his cigarette at the red-head before dropping it to the ground and stomping it out. “There's one thing I don't quite get though.” When Lily just looked up at him with expectant eyes, he took a seat beside her on the crate. “Why in the hell are you telling me
all of this?”
“Well...here's the funny part.” Lily cleared her throat and launched into detail of the events that transpired after Scorpius had left her apartment that morning. She told him how she allowed her mother and cousin to think that he, Scorpius Malfoy, was really her perfect Spencer and she'd been too scared to tell them before. “The worst bit of all...my mum still expects him—you—to be at dinner tonight.”
Scorpius was speechless. He just stared at Lily like the girl had turned him to stone with her words. It took every bit of strength to pull himself together long enough to laugh. “That is absurd. That is beyond absurd. I take back what I said before. What you've just said...that
is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard.” He shook his head and went straight for another cigarette. “And your mum just believed that load of nonsense, did she? Every word of it?”
“Yes, she did. I'm not...I'm not a bad person, Malfoy. I'm really not. My family has no reason not to trust me when I tell them something.”
“Well...other than the whole lying about Spencer
thing. But they don't know I've been lying! And I really...really don't want them to ever know.”
“I understand. I really do.” Scorpius offered up a sympathetic smile. “But what I still don't understand is why you're here. Why are you telling me all of this?”
Lily's face flushed as bright as her hair. She started tugging on the ends of her plait and dragging her toes back and forth across the dirt below them. “This is really hard for me. I've never...asked anyone for a favor or help before. Especially someone I don't know that well.” She took a deep breath and looked up at the blonde, her eyes met his and she attempted to gather all the courage she had. “I want you to come to dinner with me tonight. Pretend to be my boyfriend. Then my parents will be satisfied and they'll get out of my hair about it and I can figure out some way to pretend that we break up after the wedding.”
Scorpius' face fall and he slowly shook his head like he'd just heard some devastating medical news. “Oh, darling...if I would have known that you were off your rocker, I wouldn't have agreed to stay at your place last night.”
“I am not!” The red-head jumped to her feet and flailed her hands down. “I'm desperate
. You think that I wanted to come here and ask you for this? I didn't. I wouldn't even be in this mess if I hadn't let you stay over last night. I could have found someone else but....”
“You're saying this is my
“No, of course not. But I helped you out.”
“And I said thank you. I told you how grateful I was; am.”
“You said. You said that you'd find some way to repay me for my kindness. Don't you remember?”
Scorpius put up his hand and leaned away from the frantic girl. “I do remember. But I was thinking more along of the lines of sending you a nice fruit basket or some flowers. Not pretending to date you for some crazy scheme against your parents.”
“It isn't crazy.” Lily hung her face into her hands and whimpered softly. When she finally looked back up at Scorpius after a minute, her eyes were watery and red. “It's just one dinner. And it's at my parent's house, so we won't even be seen together if that's what you're worried about.”
“It isn't.” Scorpius turned away from her teary, brown gaze and put his second cigarette to his lips. “I'm sorry, Potter. I really am grateful for your help, but you're asking too much of me.”
“I asked: how much.” Lily dropped back down onto the crate beside Scorpius and forced him to look at her. “I can pay you. I'm not rich, but I have money and I can pay you to do this for me. It's one night.”
“I could never take money from you, darling.” Scorpius pressed his lips together and kept his eyes on the ground to avoid the guilt-stare.
The young woman took a deep breath and scuffed at the ground. “What about a new job? We have an opening at the Prophet right now and I can put in a great word with the editor.”
“I know it may be hard for you to understand -” Scorpius gestured towards Lily's attire and tilted his head “- but I actually like my job here. And I don't need help. I don't need money. I don't need anything from anyone. I'm an adult.”
“You sound like a stubborn old Gryffindor.”
“Well...that's exactly what I am.”
“So am I; so you should know that I'm not just going to give up. Tell me, just tell me whatever you want and it's yours. Please, Malfoy.” The girl clasped her hands in front of her and arranged her face like she was holding back tears. “It's one night. It's one single dinner and then you'll be on your way to Glasgow for some work thing and when the wedding is over, I'll make up some reason that we've broken up and it'll all be over. Please
“Why can't you just tell your mum and dad the truth?” Scorpius asked, his tone exhausted. “They love you, right? They'll forgive you.”
“It's gone too far. Maybe if I'd come clean in the first month or something, but the whole family believes my stupid lies. It isn't just my mum and dad. It's my best friends too; Roxanne and Domi, they'll be so mad if they find out.”
“They very well should be.” Scorpius stomped out his smoke and got to his feet, wiping his palms down the length of his jeans. “If they're your best friends, you shouldn't have been lying to them. Just the thought of ever lying to Nate makes me feel queasy.”
“I made a mistake. You think I don't know that? You think I don't feel sick and guilty about it?” Lily wiped her fingers across the base of her lashes, trying not to smudge her faint makeup. “I just want to end this all without making a complete fool out of myself. I want to keep my dignity. Is that such a horrible thing? I don't want everyone to look at me like I'm a bad person.”
“Listen Potter...uh, Lily...I'm sorry. I really am. And I hope that you find a way to settle everything, but I can't help you. My life is messy enough without adding this on top of it. I'm so...so
sorry. I have to get back to work now....”
“It's alright.” Lily's voice sounded broken and hollow, like all trace of hope had washed from her body. “I understand. I shouldn't have come here and bothered you with this. It's my burden; I'm sorry.” Before Scorpius could even think about replying, Lily turned on the spot and popped away.
The blonde stared at the spot where the girl had Disapparated from and hung his head. He tried to push her out of his mind as he finished his shift. He tried to forget the tears in her eyes. He tried to forget the sound of her desperate pleas. He tried to forget her broken words. But he couldn't. The red-head was still bogging down his every thought as he closed up the shop and headed to the Ministry to meet up with Nate. The two had planned to catch dinner together before Scorpius went off in search of some cruddy motel he could spend a few weeks in while waiting on the apartment. He really couldn't afford it, but when he considered that, his thoughts trailed off to Lily's offer of paying him. He slapped himself in the side of the head, trying to rid his mind from the girl's ridiculous scheme.
“Finally knocking some sense into that thick head of yours?”
Scorpius spun around at the sound of his father's voice. His eyes widened and he balked at the man before him. “What are you doing at the street entrance?” The blonde looked around the area as though he were on some kind of hidden camera prank show. The few times he'd gone with his father to work, as a child, the man had never used the Muggle street entrance.
“I'm meeting your mother for dinner. There's a little bistro that she enjoys a few blocks from here. We go once a month. You would know that if you came with us every time we've invited you.” Draco approached his son and gave him a look over. “Rough day?”
“You could say that.” Scorpius dug his smokes out of his pocket and reached for his lighter.
“I'm standing right here.” Draco held out his arms and scoffed.
“Yeah...and?” Scorpius just looked up at his father with an uncaring smile.
“And -” the man snatched the cigarettes from his son's hand and tossed them smoothly into the nearest rubbish bin “- those things are disgusting.” He shuddered a little and started fiddling with the latch on his briefcase.
“Really dad?” Scorpius looked at the rubbish bin and threw up his hands in frustration. “Those were the last of what I had.”
“Good.” Draco didn't look the least bit sorry. “I hate that you picked up such a nasty habit. But I suppose that Miss Potter will break you of that habit, won't she?”
Scorpius wasn't sure he'd heard right. Had his father just mentioned Lily? “I'm sorry but...what?”
“Miss Potter. Lily. It is alright if I call her Lily, isn't it? After all, you two have been dating for...what was it she said? Six—seven months now?”
“I'm sorry but...what
?!” Scorpius repeated. All the colour drained from the young Malfoy's face as he looked up his father with stunned eyes. “I am not
dating Lily Potter. Where the hell would you get an idea like that?”
“From your mother.” When Scorpius continued to look at his father in shock, Draco licked his lips to hide the smug grin forming on his face. “She came by today at lunch. Started going on and on about how she heard from your aunt Daphne, who heard from Mrs. Weasley—uh, Angelina, that is—who heard from her daughter that you and Miss Potter have been an item for quite some time now.”
That London street had never felt colder. Even on that hot July evening, Scorpius broke out into shivers. “But...I mean...you...you know that isn't true, right? Of course you
know that isn't true. Dad, tell me that you set her right. Tell me that you told mum that it wasn't true.” The blonde met his father's eyes and pleaded for him to confess that the whole thing was just some joke. “Dad....”
“What would you have me tell her?” Draco laid his hand on Scorpius' shoulder in an attempt to comfort the boy. “You want me to set her right? Tell her everything?”
“No! Not everything
. Never everything.” Scorpius knocked his father's hand away and leaned against the brick building behind him. The young man's head was spinning. It was bad enough that Lily had gotten her entire family mixed up with that crazy Spencer business, but now...now she had gotten his family involved in it. Now she had gotten his mother involved in it. He started breathing deeply, finding it difficult to catch a proper gasp of air.
“Maybe you should, Scorpius.” Draco leaned on the wall beside his son and gave him a sad smile. “Tell her everything, that is. She was so excited about this Lily business. She went on for half an hour about what kind of flowers she was going to send the girl. I think she finally settled on...tulips. And she wants you to bring Lily along to the garden party.”
Scorpius looked up, horrified.
“I'm sorry. I told her that you were considering coming after I saw you the other night, and she got it into her head that you'd be bringing Lily along with you.”
“Mister Malfoy?” Nate's voice cut into the awkward scene as he stepped up to the two blondes. “What a nice surprise to see you two talking.” The boy forced a smile and met Scorpius' eyes, his own asking Is everything alright?
“Nate, give me your clothes.”
The dark-haired young man just blinked at Scorpius' strange demand.
“I'm serious,” Scorpius groaned. “Your clothes are really nice. And I need to look nice. I'm...going to go have dinner with my girlfriend's parents.”