Chapter 3 : Secrets
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Lily had taken care in her appearance for the day – freshly painted nails, a little bit of eyeliner and a new dress. She had a feeling it would make little difference. Despite years of assurance of the contrary and many confused tears as a child, there was the small elephant in the room that Hermione Weasley hated her niece.
Ever since she could remember, Lily had always been the object of Hermione’s ire. It was something that completely bewildered her because she had done nothing wrong. Perhaps it was because she was always a little more fawned over than Rose or that she was never all that interested in the stories she told about defending house elves, but these were trivial things at best. Her entirely unprovoked dislike of Lily had resulted in much small presents at birthdays and Christmas, tiny barbed remarks on her appearance as she got older and a constant disapproval of anything she did.
Lily mentally prepared herself as she headed up the neat and cared-for garden path. If it were summer the flowers would be a riot of colour in a perfect array of co-ordination, but now the frozen branches were prettily covered in a touch of frost. Her boots crunched against the ice as she rang the doorbell, feeling a tiny flutter of nervousness in her tummy.
It was Uncle Ron who opened the door. “Lily!” he said with a warm smile as she hugged him. Ron was always good for a chat or a joke, unlike his wife. “Come on in.”
It seemed that Lily was the last arrive as she spotted the rest of her family in the lounge. Various faces smiled up at her as she greeted her parents. She had seen them a few weeks ago at Christmas, but she always missed them.
“Alright Lils?” called James and Albus in unison. They were both sprawled out across a cream leather sofa as if it were their own home. Lily would never feel comfortable enough to do that here. Their cheeky grins brought a smile to her face.
“Hi guys.” She sat down next to her brothers just as Aunt Hermione came into the room with what seemed to be a second tray of sausage rolls. As she spotted Lily her face drew into a tight smile.
“Hello Lily, I didn’t hear you come in. Do you think you could sit over there? It’s just that I was just chatting to Albus about his job.”
Blushing, Lily got up and took her place in the armchair furthest away from everyone else. Ginny gave her a sympathetic smile before returning back to the conversation. Excluded from everyone else, Lily sat in silence and listened to the inane chatter miserably.
It wasn’t until dinner that her father broached the topic of work.
“Lily, I heard about what happened a few weeks ago,” he started, spearing a piece of chicken. “The situation with the Erumpent? That should never have happened. Ernie tells me you handled it really well, though.”
“Well, it was definitely an experience,” she replied. Everyone seemed to be interested in their conversation now as the table fell quiet. “I’d researched it completely for two weeks and there was no sign of any highly dangerous activity at all. We were completely caught by surprise. I think we did a good job considering.”
“Pretty well? You smashed it, Lils!” Albus chimed in enthusiastically. “Well, literally. It exploded, didn’t it?”
“Erumpents explode upon impact because of their horn. It was pretty awesome of Lily to think of putting up a huge Shield charm,” said Hugo from the other end of the table. “Nice one, Lily.”
“But why was it even there?” asked Rose. “You or Scorpius could have been really hurt.”
“Never mind Malfoy,” snorted James derisively through his mouthful of carrots. “We’re more worried about Lily here!”
Rose returned to her dinner, but Lily was already suspicious. Why was Rose so interested in Scorpius? She didn’t remember them even talking to each other once at Hogwarts.
Her thoughts were immediately put aside at her aunt Hermione adding herself into the discussion. “I’m not sure I would have gone for a Shield charm. Perhaps a combination of stunning spells so that the Erumpent would have still survived.”
“Well let’s draft you in to the Auror Department then, Hermione,” Harry joked. Lily noticed that her mother had raised an eyebrow at Hermione, and she felt pleased to know that at least someone was on her side once in awhile.
She was also annoyed at herself for not standing her ground. Lily had felt horrendously guilty about the Erumpent exploding for days after the incident until Scorpius told her that they almost certainly would have died from the impact. She’d given Clive a visit in St. Mungo’s too, and he was more than grateful to still be alive after being knocked out by an Erumpent. He was so grateful that he asked if Lily wanted to go out for a drink after he was discharged; Lily, being polite to a fault and not wanting to hurt a hospitalised man’s feelings, accepted. It was proof that she needed to stand up for herself more when it came to pretty much anyone that crossed her path.
Everyone had left the table to watch some Muggle telly by the time Lily drifted out of her reverie; she knew Uncle Ron was heavily invested in Sherlock these days. Lily decided to sit down next to Harry, who pulled her into a cuddle which instantly relaxed her. With her dad around, nothing could hurt her.
“Dad...” Lily knew she would have to broach the subject with care. Harry swivelled his gaze town towards his daughter and smiled, ready to listen. “Why did Scorpius get moved from the Auror department to Investigations?”
The downward curve of her father’s mouth and the heavy look in his eyes confirmed what she had been suspecting for a while. “I suppose you have the right to know considering Ernie’s paired you with him.” Harry sighed and gave Lily an unreadable look. “Scorpius is a very hard worker and there’s no doubting his abilities, but some of the other Aurors came to me and lodged an official complaint against him. Apparently he’d been rude and uncooperative towards everyone he worked with and openly defied orders.” He ran a hand through his hair exasperatedly. “I had to move him for his own good. He needs to learn how to work with others and focus on what he wants with being an Auror.”
Lily averted her gaze, frowning. She knew that Scorpius hadn’t moved by choice, but she hadn’t expected him to be so horrible to other people. He hadn’t exactly been friendly to her, but she found him easy enough to be around most of the time.
“I suppose it’s karma that his next partner would be my daughter,” Harry joked. Lily smiled and laughed weakly, still processing this new information. It was clear that her dad was telling the truth about what he knew of the situation, but there was something at the back of her mind that simply didn’t add up.
The turn of a head caught Lily’s eye as they lapsed into silence. Rose was sitting near them and appeared to have just finished listening to their conversation. Annoyed at her nosiness, Lily realised that she had no idea why Rose would be interested in Scorpius all of a sudden.
“Lily, could you please go and get the cake in the kitchen for me?” Hermione called with some slight disdain. When Lily returned, she had taken her place next to Harry.
“She will never like me,” Lily muttered to herself dejectedly.
“Hi Scorpius,” Lily said brightly on Monday morning. She’d arrived a little early to get started on the paperwork from their latest case which involved trailing a person of interest in another case. It had been mind-numbingly boring and whilst the two of them slowly froze into ice cubes as they sat on a wall watching this man eat his sandwich in a cafe, they both concluded that this person was perfectly safe. She suspected that Ernie had put them on low-danger tasks for the time being thanks to the Erumpent case.
“Hullo,” he replied with little interest. Armed with the new knowledge that her father had provided her with, Lily found her opinion changing about him. Perhaps he was difficult to work with – well, he was never interested in what she had to say, was he?
“We’re getting our new case today. What do you think it’ll be?” Lily asked in a desperate attempt at making conversation. With a flourish she signed the final document she was working on, and looked up at her work partner curiously. Scorpius seemed to be completely avoiding any eye contact with her and looked angry; his lips were pursed and knuckles were tight. What was wrong with him?
“I dunno, but if it’s more surveillance then I’m walking out of here.” He abruptly pushed off from the desk edge he was leaning on and threw himself into the chair at their shared desk, brooding about whatever was bothering him. Lily rolled her eyes at the dramatics and began organising her desk for something to do. The busy atmosphere Lily was familiar with was quickly building as more and more people sat down at their desks for the day, chatting animatedly to co-workers about their weekends. She silently agreed that surveillance would be a boring task after their initial excitement.
She groaned out loud when she saw Bridget striding up to them purposefully. Scorpius quirked an eyebrow at her but said nothing as he sat up a little straighter. As Bridget approached he gave her a winning smile that made her blush slightly.
“What the hell?” Lily voice aloud, dumbfounded. Was Scorpius flirting with Bridget? Nothing seemed so repulsive to her.
“Trying to catch flies, Potter?” Bridget asked icily and she quickly shut her surprised mouth, cringing. With a start she noticed that Scorpius was looking at her in amusement, and she glared in response. Bridget didn’t seem to notice – she was focusing entirely on Scorpius.
“I hope you two are ready for your latest case,” Bridget said with a sweet smile. Lily pushed down the urge to be sick in her mouth. “It’s going to take quite a while, this one. Ernie said that your experience will help you here, Scorpius.”
First name terms, hmm? Lily wasn’t sure why this bothered her so much – maybe it was because Bridget was simply a massive cow to her. In her angry musings she hadn’t noticed that Bridget had continued.
“... you’ll perhaps need some help from other departments, just let me know and I can get that sorted for you. I doubt you’ll be looking forward to it though,” she said to Scorpius with a sympathetic face. “If it ever gets too much, we can always give it to someone else.”
The slick smile Malfoy had perfected slid from his features a little as his brow furrowed. “Why would it be too much for us?”
“Well, I mainly meant you, Scorpius, considering your history with the place,” Bridget replied, throwing Lily a nasty look before returning her attention to the tall, blond man in front of her. This simple sentence seemed to have the biggest effect on him – his mouth parted in shock as his eyes widened, face paling.
“What’s going on?” Lily interrupted, concerned at this sudden reaction. Bridget seemed genuinely surprised at their reactions.
“Didn’t Ernie tell you what it was? Your next case is about Malfoy Manor.”
A/N: Sorry this chapter didn't come out on Thursday, Lily and Scorpius simply weren't cooperating! What's new? ;) the next chapter will be a big one!
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