Chapter 12 : XII
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“Come on,” she told him, prodding his shoulder. “We told Professor McGonagall we’d have this sorted weeks ago. We can’t keep telling the prefects last minute where they need to be. We’re meant to have a fixed schedule.”
Robin yawned and groaned, then leaned his head on the table, hair flopping over one of Lucy’s carefully drawn charts.
“And dinner’s in half an hour,” Lucy continued. “The Hall will be noisy and we won’t be able to concentrate in here.”
Robin closed his eyes.
“What is wrong with everyone today?” Lucy poked him again.
The Saturday afternoon meeting had been a disaster. Something was obviously going on with the sixth years: Tristan Gorgovitch had avoided making eye contact with anybody throughout the meeting, and both Lily and Mei had failed to show up. But the rest of the prefects weren’t much better, and Lucy had expected more of Robin.
“Seriously, what’s going on? Has something happened with your lot? Where was Lily?”
Robin opened one eye.
“Dunno. Haven’t really seen them. I’ve been hiding out in Ravenclaw Tower.”
“Doesn’t Isidore keep you informed? I thought everyone had to know everything about the golden group at all times.”
Lucy was surprised by how bitter she sounded. She wished she could take the words back. But Robin, to his credit, didn’t seem phased at all.
“She’s one of the people I’ve been hiding from,” he said matter-of-factly.
Lucy frowned and waited for him to keep talking.
“I messed up, Luce,” Robin said with another groan. “Big time.”
Lucy sighed and put down her pen. They obviously weren’t going to get the patrol schedule done.
“Well...do you want to talk about it?”
“You’ll judge me.”
“I’ll try not to. I’m not a particularly judgemental person.”
Robin seemed to consider this. He frowned, wrinkling his nose, and then sat up.
Now that Lucy looked at him properly, she was surprised she hadn't processed how much of a state he was in. His eyes were red and circled with purple shadows, and his shirt was crumpled. He still looked confident and relaxed - she couldn’t imagine one of the Parsons siblings looking anything less - but he wasn’t his usual put together self.
“There’s no easy way to say it,” Robin said, chewing his lip. “I can’t make it sound like I’m not a disgrace.”
“Best to get it over with quickly, then,” Lucy said. “Just say it how it is. Like taking off a plaster. Or pulling out a mandrake.”
Robin snorted, then reached up to rub his eyes.
“Right. Okay. Ah. Well. It was my sister’s birthday yesterday. She had a party. I had a bit too much to drink.”
“Don’t tell me anything I’ll have to report!” Lucy cut across him. “I don’t want to an accomplice in anything...illicit.”
Robin grinned. “You’re cute. No. I don’t do anything illicit. Just drinking for me. And I’m of age.”
“Anyway....well, I guess I can’t really explain it. It’s not going to sound okay. But I was upset. I don’t think I’ve been dealing with this whole Goldstein thing as well as I thought I was. She...well, I’d never seen a dead person before her, you know? I can’t forget how she felt.”
“Oh, Robin…” Lucy rested a hand on his arm.
Robin grimaced and shook his head.
“That’s not it, though. That’s just me trying to make excuses for my own poor behaviour.”
“So I left early and Mei Chang found me in the corridor and helped me back to Ravenclaw. And, well, I’m not really sure how it happened, but long story short...we kissed.”
“A lot. For...oh, I don’t know. I wasn’t sober. But it was a very long, very enjoyable kiss.”
Lucy didn’t understand why the idea of this bothered her. She had no interest at all in Robin, but her face felt warm and an uncomfortable feeling crawled up the hairs on her arms. She decided to ignore it and worry about what it meant later on.
“Are you going to break up with her?”
Robin shook his head violently. “No. Never. She’s...she’s everything, really. I don’t understand why I did it. Iz makes me so happy. And this will hurt her.”
Lucy exhaled slowly, letting the breath make a sound.
“Well, you’ll have to tell her what happened. You can’t just pretend nothing’s changed,” she said.
“I know,” Robin moaned. “But she’s so frightening.”
“Do you think she’ll do something to Mei?” Lucy didn’t argue with him about Isidore’s scariness. She hoped Mei would be okay.
“To be honest, I’m not sure,” Robin confessed. “I hope not.”
“Make sure she doesn’t,” Lucy snapped, then immediately softened her voice again. “I’m sure you can fix this, Robin.”
“How?” Robin’s voice was very quiet.
“I think you just need to be honest. Do you love her?”
“Iz? With my whole heart.”
“So tell her that. Tell her what happened but tell her how you feel about her.”
“She’s so scary though....”
“If you keep hiding from her you’ll never be able to make it right.”
Lucy wasn’t sure where all this sensible advice was coming from. She’d never had a relationship and, apart from an experimental and ultimately unsuccessful fourth year experiment with Lorcan, she’d never even come close to kissing somebody. But she felt fairly confident that she was saying the right thing.
“What if she doesn’t want to be with me anymore?” Robin whispered.
“Then that’s her choice. And she has the right to make that decision. But, for what it’s worth, I can’t imagine her ending it. She looks at you like...I don’t know. She looks at you like my parents look at each other. And I don’t know anyone more in love than them.”
“Okay.” Robin slid further down in his seat.
“Go and do it now, though,” Lucy instructed. “It won’t get any easier if you leave it longer. I’ll finish up this stuff.”
“Of course. You’re not in the right frame of mind to be helpful anyway.”
Robin stood up and ruffled her hair.
“Thank you, Lucy. You’re a good egg.”
“Be off with you.” She waved him away.
Robin left and Lucy turned back to the patrols. She decided just not to worry too much about who would want to work with who, and instead allocated slots at random. She paired Lily up with Tristan Gorgovitch, reasoning that he might be a good influence, and decided she herself would patrol with Mei. That way, she could keep an eye on Mei, and could cover for her if Mei ever wasn’t feeling up to it.
After ten minutes, she was finished. She couldn’t help but feel slightly relieved that Robin had left her to it. Having the job finally done felt like a weight had been lifted, and she was looking forward to a relaxing evening in Hufflepuff with Lorcan.
Lily’s voice was shaky but carried across the Great Hall.
Lucy wheeled her chair around to face her cousin.
“We missed you at the meeting. Is everything okay?”
Lily’s lip trembled and she shook her head.
“I wanted to talk to you about something,” she said.
“Do you mind walking and talking? I was going to head back to Hufflepuff to meet Lorcan.”
With most people, Lucy would wait in the Hall to speak to them. But she knew Lily wouldn’t mind walking. She understood how much less energy Lucy used up if somebody was there to help her navigate the chair through the school to her Common Room.
Lily took hold of the chair without Lucy asking for her help, and they left the Hall together.
Lucy had never quite figured out what it was about her that made people think she was the right person to go to for free therapy sessions, but she didn’t really mind it. She liked knowing she was valued by her friends and family. And she wasn’t sure that Lily had very many people she opened up to.
“Erm, I just had a question. I was thinking about what Robin said at the last meeting. About Lyra?”
“What about it?”
“He said she took aconite? And they think that’s what made her fall in the lake? She overdosed?”
Lucy wished Lily was speaking more quietly. The corridor was empty but a lot of people were still very upset about Lyra’s death, and the causes weren’t yet common knowledge.
Luckily, Lily lowered her voice without Lucy having to pick up the courage to ask her to.
“Do they think a student sold it to her?”
“What? The aconite?”
“Yeah,” Lily said, sounding uncomfortable. “I mean, if it killed her, does that mean it was someone’s fault?”
“I don’t know.” Lucy didn’t like the direction this conversation was taking. “I mean, yes, if somebody gave it to her I suppose they’re in some ways responsible.”
“But are they looking to find out who did it?” Lily pressed on. “The aurors? And the teachers?”
“Aurors aren’t involved. It’s not a criminal case. It’s just been Healers and the child protection officers from the Ministry.”
“But are they trying to find out who provided the drugs?”
“I...I don’t know. Lily, is everything okay?”
“Yes. Yeah, of course.” Lily sped up their pace, wheeling Lucy more quickly down the corridor so that her wheels squeaked against the stone. “I’ve just been thinking about it. Things have been different, you know, since she died. I was wondering what was going on.”
“Well, I don’t think they’re really investigating it, as such. Obviously if they found out who provided it then there would be punishments for dealing and for substance abuse. But they’re not treating her death as suspicious. She took the aconite voluntarily.”
“Okay. I get it.”
They had arrived outside Hufflepuff Common Room. Lucy tilted her head to look up at Lily.
“Lils...you’d tell me if something was wrong, wouldn’t you?”
Lily smiled and suddenly looked like herself again.
“Of course. I’m fine. Really. Sorry I missed the meeting. I overslept.”
“Until five in the afternoon?”
Lily shrugged. “Had a late night.”
Lucy frowned but didn’t argue.
Lily shook her hair back and when she spoke again her voice was bright and airy.
“Okay, I’m going to have to love you and leave you. I told Hugo I’d spend the evening with him. Enjoy your Saturday night!”
Lucy waved her away and then sat outside the Common Room for a few moments, chewing her fingernails and trying to piece together her thoughts. She didn’t like the road her ideas were leading her down and she needed Lorcan to convince her she was being silly.
Lorcan was ready at their favourite sofa by the fireplace when Lucy wheeled herself into the Common Room. He had laid out a trail of different sorts of chocolates on the coffee table and was halfway through a dark chocolate cauldron filled with strawberry cream.
“Honey, I’m home!” Lucy tried to sound cheerful.
“Welcome back, sweetheart,” he grinned. “I cooked!”
Lucy laughed. It was hard not to laugh when she was around Lorcan. When she spent time with her cousins or with people from other Houses it was easy to get used to feeling tense. As soon as she was back with Lorcan she remembered what it felt like to relax and be properly herself.
“I worry about your diet,” she told him, wheeling herself over to the sofa. “One can’t survive on chocolate alone.”
“Watch me,” Lorcan said, sticking his tongue out.
He stood up and reached an arm out for Lucy to grab hold of, pulling her out of her chair and onto the sofa beside him.
“Did you never learn about the food pyramid?” Lucy asked.
“I understand nutrition. Chocolate has calcium in it. And good fats. And this cauldron has strawberry in it for my vitamins.”
“I’ll miss your lovely voice when all your teeth fall out and make it hard to talk properly,” Lucy yawned.
Lorcan beamed, revealing very bright white teeth.
“Aunt Hermione sends me very many toothcare related packages,” he informed her.
“Glad to hear it. I forget that you and her write to each other.”
Lorcan shrugged. “Mum’s one of her best friends. And she knows I’m interested in law enforcement.”
“It’s nice,” Lucy said.
They went quiet for a minute, both tucking into chocolates. Lucy picked up a squishy yellow pillow from the sofa and hugged it to her chest.
“Are you alright?” Lorcan asked. “You look...pensive.”
“Yeah. I just had a strange chat with Lily.”
Lorcan turned towards her very quickly at the sound of Lily’s name and then made a very transparent attempt to pretend he had been reaching for another chocolate frog, despite having an unwrapped one already in his hand.
“Is it something you can talk about? Or not my business?”
“No, it wasn’t a secret. I mean, she didn’t really say anything. But something about it...I just feel funny.”
Lucy told Lorcan about her conversation with Lily, trying her best to get across Lily’s awkward stance and nervous voice. The more she outlined, the more her conclusions solidified. But she didn’t want to let herself think it, so she pushed the thoughts away until the story was finished and she could hear what Lorcan thought.
“You’re right,” Lorcan said through a mouthful of chocolate. “That is weird.”
“I don’t know what to make of it.”
“Are you thinking the same thing I am?”
Lucy looked at him. Lorcan’s pale eyes were wide and worried. She knew he wouldn’t like thinking like this about Lily. No matter how much Lily ignored him or treated him like he was irrelevant, he had this strange affection towards her. This would have unsettled him. But Lucy was feeling worried about it and wouldn’t have wanted to keep the conversation to herself.
“I think so,” she said. “I mean, yes. I’m pretty sure we’re thinking the same thing.”
Lorcan whistled and lowered the remains of his chocolate frog.
“Lily was responsible for Lyra’s death?”
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