Chapter 9 : IX
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She shelled doxy eggs and grated dead bowtruckles and then blended them with exotic muggle fruits like lychees and papaya. She watched the colour of her potion darken from grey-blue to a deep turquoise, then tipped in strained murtlap tentacles to bring it back to a pale green. Silver spirals rose above it and she kept her head out of the steam, not wanting to breathe in the gas and become drowsy.
A hand pressed on her shoulder and Lily jumped.
“My apologies,” Professor Clearwater said. “The lesson’s over.”
Lily looked around the room and was startled to find that most of the other students had already packed away. Hugo, sitting a few desks in front of her, picked up his bag and headed over.
“You go ahead,” Lily told him. “It’ll take me a while to clean up. I lost track of time.”
Hugo rolled his eyes. “You always do. I’ll wait. I feel like I haven’t seen you for ages.”
Lily started to pack up her ingredients, leaving the cauldron simmering while she put away her things. She could leave the potion overnight and pick up where she’d left off tomorrow.
“That’s because you haven’t seen me for ages. It’s not my fault you decided to spend all weekend shut up in Ravenclaw Tower hanging out with people we’ve never spoken to.”
She was aware that she was at risk of sounding bitter, but she didn’t bother altering her tone.
“Mei was upset,” Hugo said, shrugging. “Lyra’s fathers came to pick up all her stuff. I wanted to make sure she was okay.”
“Sure.” Lily started to wipe down the table, careful not to touch the patches she’d spilt doxy yolk on.
“We could do something tonight?” Hugo put down his bag to help her clean the table. “I don’t really want to go to dinner, but after?”
Lily shook her head. “I’ve got Astronomy. Tomorrow? Let’s have drinks before Paige’s birthday party?”
They finished cleaning. Lily carefully moved her cauldron so it was right in the corner of the room, out of the way for other students using the classroom, and then linked arms with her cousin to leave the classroom.
“You took your time.”
Lysander Scamander pulled himself up from where he was slouching against a wall outside the classroom. He was wearing his Quidditch jacket even though Lily was pretty sure that Slytherin didn’t have practice tonight. His arms were crossed tightly over his chest and he was scowling.
“What are you doing here, Lys?” Lily suddenly felt very tired.
“Waiting for you.” He sounded indignant.
Hugo glared at him. “Well, you’ve seen her now. You can go.”
Lysander ignored him and stepped closer, stopping inches from Lily’s face. He put a hand on her shoulder, not acknowledging the fact that Lily was still holding on to Hugo with her other arm.
“We should talk,” he said, rubbing her arm.
His hand felt heavy against her, his thumb digging into her shoulder. Lily shrugged him off.
“I’ll meet you later Hugo,” she said, pulling away from her cousin.
Hugo frowned at her but didn’t disagree. She supposed she probably sounded like she was sure of her choice. She was good at saying things like she felt sure.
Hugo shrugged. “Come find me after Astronomy if you want. Or tomorrow.”
Lily nodded and watched him walk away. Lysander slung an arm around her shoulder and started to guide her down the corridor. She didn’t push him away. She felt very small.
“I’ve missed you,” Lysander breathed into Lily’s hair.
He steered her down the staircases and led her out into the grounds and the evening sunshine. She suppressed a shiver as they passed the lake. Lysander shrugged off his Quidditch jacket and threw it over her shoulders.
“Here. Let’s sit,” he said, pulling her down onto the grass at the edge of the lake.
Lily stared at the water. She hadn’t been there when Lyra had been found, but it didn’t feel right to sit so close to where her classmate had died.
Lysander was looking at her expectantly, so she sat down.
“Why won’t you talk to me?” Lysander sounded sad, and looked at her with puppy-dog eyes. “You’ve been avoiding me all week.”
Lily rubbed her eyes.
“Come on, babe. I love you. Don’t shut me out,” he said, edging closer to her.
He reached out and stroked the back of her hand with his thumb.
“This feels right, doesn’t it?” He said. “You and me. Together. This is how we should be. Tell me you feel the same way.”
Lily shook her head and pulled her hand away.
“We’re over, Lys.”
The change in Lysander’s expression was instant. A moment ago, he had looked at her with wide, loving eyes. Now his face was completely emotionless.
“Whatever. I don’t need you anyway.”
Lily sighed. “Don’t say that.”
“Why not? It’s true, isn’t it?” Lysander laughed derisively. “We both know who benefits more from this relationship. You get to be seen on the arm of the quidditch captain and get invites to all the most exclusive parties. I just have to put up with a snivelling sixth year. And now you’re the one trying to end it? I don’t think so.”
“You cheated on me, Lys,” Lily snapped, tears threatening to spill. “You slept with someone else!”
“Of course I slept with someone else! What, you think your pathetic attempts to dress up and please me were going to keep me satisfied? You’re not enough, Lily. Not by yourself. You can’t blame me for looking elsewhere.”
Lily was crying now. She didn’t want to be, but she couldn’t hold the tears in. He’d always known how to get to her.
“Oh, come on. Don’t cry. No need to be so sensitive,” Lysander said, reaching for her hand again. “Come on. You know I can’t control myself around you. I didn’t mean it. Don’t make such a fuss.”
Lily let him take her hand. When her fingers curled around his, he turned his face towards hers and pressed a soft kiss against her lips.
“I love you, Lils. You know that. You’re everything to me,” he said gently. “Be mine again. You know you want to. We’re great together. You didn’t mean it when you said it was over.”
Lily felt confused. She wanted to pull away, but his words were soft and sweet and his breath tasted like apple.
“Goldstein didn’t matter to me, Lils. I promise,” he murmured. “You’re the only one for me. She’s irrelevant.”
He tipped his head to kiss her neck, and Lily lifted her fingertips to her eyes to brush away her tears. She wiped her eyes and then very slowly extricated herself from his arms.
“No,” she told him.
“You don’t get to say that. You cheated on me with Lyra Goldstein and then the next morning she turned up dead in this lake. You don’t get to now decide she’s irrelevant.”
The more she spoke, the more sure of herself she felt. She pulled herself to her feet.
Lysander raised his eyebrows. “Oh, stop making a scene, Lily. You’re embarrassing yourself.”
“A girl is dead,” Lily hissed. “What did you do to her?”
Lysander rolled his eyes and lay back in the grass. Lily stayed still, staring at him in incredulity, but he ignored her.
“I’m going to be late for Astronomy,” she said eventually. “I need to go. Don’t come near me again.”
She almost ran to Astronomy and was out of breath when she reached the tower. The whole encounter with Lysander had completely unsettled her and she had to remind herself to calm down before entering the classroom. She stood outside the door and took several deep breaths, then combed her hair out of her face and straightened her robes.
Isidore raised an eyebrow when Lily came into the classroom. Professor Corner called over that he was docking five points from Slytherin for lateness, but Lily didn’t acknowledge him.
“Everything okay?” Isidore asked when Lily took her seat beside her.
Lily smiled. “Why wouldn’t it be?”
Isidore gave a tiny shrug. “You look flustered. And a little birdy told me you and Scamander were having a talk.”
“Well, I don’t anticipate having any more talks with him,” Lily said.
Isidore nodded. “Good.”
“I think so.”
Lily focussed her telescope and unfurled her star chart. Astronomy didn’t come naturally to her like Potions did, but she enjoyed the calm of the Astronomy Tower and the way the stars made her feel very small.
“Did you ask him about Goldstein?” Isidore was peering through her own telescope and didn’t turn to look at Lily, but her words were careful and clear.
“There’s not any point. What would I ask?”
“Oh, I don’t know. People are saying she took a potion, you know? And it made her throw herself into the lake.”
“I heard that too.”
“Do you know anything about that?”
“No. Why would I?”
Isidore shrugged. “Potions are your speciality, darling. You’re the main supplier for the student population.”
“Well, I never sold to Lyra Goldstein,” Lily said. “I don’t think I ever even spoke to her.”
Isidore laughed. “No, I’m not sure anyone ever spoke to her. Speaking of Potions supplying, I’m running low. Have you got anything for me?”
Lily glanced around the room to make sure nobody was looking in their direction, then reached into her bag for a small vial full of thick pearly liquid.
Isidore took the bottle from her and looked at it for a moment before sliding it into her pocket.
“Does it look different to normal?”
“Only a little bit. I added some ground oyster shell.”
“What does that do?”
“It works a bit quicker. If you forget to take it one morning you can take it just before having sex and it’s just as strong a contraceptive.”
Isidore nodded thoughtfully. “Thank you.”
Lily smiled. “No problem. Tell Robin he can give me a night off prefect patrols in return.”
Isidore rolled her eyes. “Maybe.”
For the rest of the lesson, they worked side-by-side in silence. When Professor Corner told them to pack up, Lily told Isidore to go on ahead.
“I don’t feel like heading back to Slytherin yet. I’ll catch up with you.”
Isidore narrowed her eyes. “Are you sure you’re okay?”
“I’m fine. I just some alone time.”
Isidore lifted a hand, perhaps considering giving her a hug, and then thought better of it. Isidore Flint was not known for her affection.
When the students had left, Lily took a deep breath and pressed her forehead against the cool stone wall. Charms stopped the wind and rain entering the Astronomy classroom, but it was still open to the air and the cold. She found it comforting.
She considered letting herself cry again, but decided that would be too self-indulgent. She was Lily Potter. She didn’t waste her energy crying.
She stood up and turned around, ready to leave the room, and then jumped when she realised she wasn’t alone.
“What are you doing here?” She said, voice more spiteful than she’d intended it to be.
Tristan Gorgovitch looked up from his star chart. He didn’t look like he was scared of her. Most people would be scared if she spoke to them like that.
“Working,” he said, sounding faintly amused. “We’re in the same Astronomy class. I’m finishing my chart. It’s not my fault you didn’t notice me.”
Lily huffed but didn’t say anything. She walked across the room and looked at Tristan’s chart. It was beautiful. Most Astronomy students just marked stars and galaxies with dots and lines. Tristan’s chart was different: ink swirled across the page, leaving blazing white stars that seemed to glow, and hazy smudges where the sky seemed to blur into the stars.
Tristan had ink over his hands and was shading in Venus, blending the edges into the dark space around it.
“It’s beautiful,” Lily said.
Tristan smiled. “Thanks.”
“It must have taken you forever.”
“Yeah, well, I love to draw. It doesn’t feel like work.”
Lily nodded. “You’re good at it.”
“It’s what I want to do,” he said. “Art. I’m looking at drawing courses to take when we graduate next year.”
“You want to be an artist?” Lily was surprised. “I assumed you’d want to play Quidditch.”
“You and everyone else,” Tristan said with a halfhearted laugh. “People always assume Quidditch is everything if you’re on the team, especially if you’re captain, but...I mean, it’s wrong. Look at Collette.”
Lily frowned, unsure who exactly Collette was. But she knew she’d sound like a bitch if she admitted to not knowing Tristan’s friends, so she kept quiet.
“She’s an amazing Chaser and she could go pro if she put the work in for it, but her whole head’s full of music. She’s going to be a composer and that makes much more sense for her than being a Chaser.”
“And your head’s full of art?” Lily said.
“Yeah,” Tristan agreed. “Does that sound stupid?”
Lily shook her head.
Tristan looked embarrassed, perhaps regretting how quickly he’d opened up about his dreams, and turned back to his star chart.
Lily took a step closer to him and put a hand on his shoulder.
He looked up at her, surprised.
She pressed a finger against his lips, making him stay quiet, and then swung one leg around him and sat on his lap, straddling him as she wrapped her arms around him.
Tristan hesitated, still looking confused, but didn’t complain when Lily kissed him.
They were alone in the Tower, and were quickly completely absorbed in each other. Lily had never spoken much to Tristan and still felt lost after speaking to Lysander, but Tristan was attractive and his chest was toned and muscly and he held her with warm arms, so she let herself meld into him and lose herself to the feel of him.
Afterwards, they lay on a pile of their robes, Tristan’s cloak spread over them both like a quilt. Lily leaned against Tristan’s chest, his heartbeat strong and reassuring against her cheek, and he kept a lazy arm around her bare back.
“Lily? Are you up here?”
At first, Lily thought the voice belonged to Lysander, and was surprised by how quickly the fear flooded through her. She dug her nails into Tristan’s chest and he must have thought she was scared of being discovered, because he sat up and draped another cloak over them both.
Lorcan Scamander entered the classroom and blushed so quickly and intensely when he saw them that Lily struggled not to laugh.
“Oh. Um...you...s...sorry,” Lorcan muttered.
“What are you doing here? It’s late,” Lily said. She wanted to be angry with him for intruding, but he looked so panicked that she couldn’t bring herself to say anything cruel.
“I...I saw my brother,” Lorcan stammered. “He told...he said...it sounded like you m...might be upset. I came to check…”
“I’m fine,” Lily said.
Lorcan flushed a deeper red and turned away, looking out at the castle grounds.
Lily rummaged in the clothes she was sitting on and found her school skirt. Tristan held one of the cloaks over her while she dressed herself. He looked mortified.
When she was dressed, Lily kissed Tristan’s cheek and stood up.
“Thanks. This was fun,” she told him.
Tristan nodded, looking stunned.
Lily tapped Lorcan on the back and he turned around. His cheeks had faded back to a more normal pink, but it still stood out against his otherwise icy-white skin.
“Walk me back to my Common Room?” Lily said lightly.
They left the Astronomy Tower together, leaving Tristan with his Quidditch robes and his star chart.
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