Disclaimer - For the last time, I don't own Harry Potter!
A/N - Hello everyone. Once again, I am sorry for be a hideous updater. However, this will be the last time you have to deal with my awfulness, since this will be the last chapter of Lily and Scorpius's adventure. I hope you like the way I've ended it and have had a good time with my characters.
"Remember you can come home whenever you like. I've spoken with Professor McGonagall and she says that's perfectly all right considering the circumstances. Neville will be there if you need to talk to anyone..."
"I know, thanks Mum." Lily muttered as she gave her mother one last weak hug before stepping onto the train.
Every eye on the platform was staring at the Potter family, and Lily just wanted to get on the train and find Annie – the one person who wouldn't ask her endless questions. As she made her way down the train trying to find Annie, Lily wanted to disappear completely. Eventually she found Annie and Connor's compartment which was thankfully empty but for the couple.
Annie asked no questions but stood up and threw her arms around Lily, who breathed her familiar vanilla scent and felt immediately comforted. Connor smiled at her as Annie returned to his side and asked her if she got anything interesting for her birthday. Lily was relieved to be able to talk about something so mundane, and had a long conversation with the pair about her new broomstick, comparing it with the recently released Nimbus model.
The idyllic calm of the compartment was broken when of the Creevy twins (with Hugo and Francis in tow) arrived, and Ella proceeded to explain in great detail about how Francis had gone to extreme lengths during the holidays to win her back after the disastrous incident at Hugo's party and showed them the large gold-plated heart, hanging from a golden chain around her neck, that Francis had hidden in a bunch of ever-blooming roses.
Though Lily thought the pendant tacky and Ella and Francis's displays of affection nauseating, she was glad that Ella had something more important to talk about, keeping her away from the subject of Scorpius and the Slytherins for another entire hour. The subject, however, had to come up and it did as soon as Ella finished her tale and asked the rest of them how their Easters had been.
"Oh! But I completely forgot about that in all the excitement of... well. I'm so glad you're all right, Lily, but how's Scorpius? I bet you're well pleased with that hideous Zabini character being killed, I suppose it feels like a sort of justice after all the things he did to you, especially if Scorpius... well..."
At that point, Bella saw fit to elbow her sister rather hard in the ribs and Ella fell quiet. The entire compartment fell into a silence, then, while Lily worked hard to keep her breathing steady and not scream at Ella that she didn't understand.
The tension in the compartment was palpable, and Ella's face flushed red before she got up and muttered,
"Come on Francis. I want to ask Esme about her holiday."
As the compartment door slammed shut behind Ella and Francis, silence fell once again upon the compartment until Annie said suddenly,
"What in Merlin's name was Victis thinking, giving us all that work? I swear I spent more time in my bedroom trying to riddle out those questions than doing anything else!"
This had the desired effect on the compartment's occupants, sending every fourth year into angry protestation that Victis should be so cruel. Thanks to Annie's conscientious efforts, conversation flowed continuously for the rest of the journey, and Lily was able to forget about her worries and grievances until they reached Hogsmeade station.
She tried to ignore the inquisitive stares of her fellow students, but it was difficult to block out the whispers, the rumours that flew around her as Annie and Hugo escorted her to the carriages, trying to protect her from the worst of it. She appreciated their efforts but she was still shaking by the time they reached the Thestral-drawn carriages. Their journey to the castle was undertaken in silence, and by the time they reached the castle, all Lily wanted was to curl up in bed and pretend she was at home. Instead, she was herded into the Great Hall with the rest of the school and sat down at the Gryffindor table, surrounded by noise and chatter which washed over her like waves until Professor McGonagall stood the address the school.
"Good evening, everyone. I hope you have had a restful break – though those in fifth year and above may be starting to worry about OWLs and NEWTS in this part of the year. I wish you all the best of luck with your exams this term and am sure you will all fulfil your full potential if you work hard. First, however, we should take some time to enjoy our most excellent feast."
No sooner had the Headmistress finished speaking than the long house tables were groaning with food. Lily piled her plate like the rest, but only picked at her food, though the feast was as delicious as always. When the feast was finally over and Professor McGonagall dismissed them all, Lily as relieved to be mounting the stairs to the Gryffindor Common Room, her dormitory and four poster bed. She sighed inwardly as she saw Neville making his way through the crowd towards her.
I should have expected this. She thought as her Godfather laid a caring hand on her shoulder and led her out of the crowds towards his office.
"You know, you're incredibly brave just for being here, Lily." Neville said as he closed the door of his office and gestured to Lily to sit down. "I know how difficult it must be to have people talk about what happened as though you and Scorpius and your families aren't real people. I just want you to know that myself and Professor McGonagall are always here if you need anything."
"Yeah, thanks." Lily muttered, willing him to just let her get to bed, where she could curl up unwatched. There was a long pause before Neville said,
"Look, Lily, I know you always take care of yourself – and that's a quality we all applaud in you – but you don't have to deal with this by yourself. It's a tremendous amount to be piled onto a young person and..."
"A tremendous amount? I know bloody well that this is nothing compared to what you and my parents and Ron and Hermione and everyone in your generation had to cope with, but that doesn't make it any less horrific from where I stand. So can you all please just stop patronising me – I know you're bloody war heroes and I may not be one but I think that after everything that's happened I can deal with this, all right? The last thing I want is your sympathy, because the more you sympathise, the more I am forced to think about Scorpius lying unconscious in St Mungo's and know that he might never wake up again. So thanks for the 'support' but I'll do without. Thanks."
Neville didn't even try to stop Lily bursting out of his office, he knew better than to attempt it. Instead, he threw a handful of green powder into the fire in his office and said, "Grimmauld Place" because he didn't know what else to do.
Lily was relieved to find that the rest of the girls were asleep when she reached the dormitory and she was able to undress quietly and get into bed without being disturbed by sympathetic glances or inane questions. Her sleep, once she finally drifted off, was troubled and her dreams vivid as they had been every night since Scorpius had been hurt. She awoke to the sounds of the rest of the girls moving around beyond the velvet curtains of her bed. A large part of her wanted to just stay there all day, not to venture into the Great Hall or any of her lessons. It was her pride that urged her to get up out of bed and face the rest of the school.
Lily held her head high as she entered the Great Hall, looking straight forward and shutting her ears to the whispering around her. She sat down calmly next to Annie and picked up a piece of toast. Raising it to her lips, she took a small bite, chewed and swallowed. Lily repeated the action until the toast was gone and got up to go to Charms. She sat quietly while Weatherstone lectured them on Summoning Charms. When lunchtime came she accompanied Annie and the twins (all of whom were slipping her side glances as though she might explode at any moment) to the Hall for lunch and finished a bowl of soup.
It wasn't until Care of Magical Creature that afternoon that anyone dared disturb the fragile shell that Lily had built up around her; Hagrid's warm dark eyes could melt any icy calm that Lily had tried to hide behind. When the class had been dismissed and Lily began to make her way across the grounds towards the castle she found her professor and confident by her side.
"Tea, Lily." He said, his familiar, gruff tones almost breaking Lily's shield there and then.
"No, thank you Hagrid." she tried to protest before she felt a huge hand on her shoulder.
"Not a question, Miss."
Hagrid made tea in silence, placing a plate of rock cakes before her. When he presented her with a steaming bucket of tea, Lily sipped it listlessly.
"Now, I know yer goin' through a tough time, what with Scorpius bein'… well… but you can't just shut it out. I know you think you always have ter seem so strong all the time, but yer strength doesn't lie in pretending yer not hurt. You have ter accept the way it's makin' you feel. I know yer probably sick o' gettin' advice from an old man like me, but…"
Hagrid didn't have time to finish his sentence before Lily threw her arms around him.
"There there, my girl. It'll be all right, ye'll see."
Days passed, then a week, and every passing minute felt like an hour with no news of how Scorpius was doing. Every time she saw a blonde head in the corridor or made contact with a pair of blue eyes the pain of it all came crashing down again. All she could do was remember Hagrid's words and carry on. The only bearable time of day was her journey up to the Owlery after supper, when she would be free from prying eyes. Although it pained her to read her mother's letters that bore no news of Scorpius, the quiet tranquillity of the tower's softly hooting occupants calmed her, and she found she could almost enjoy herself while she stroked Archie's feathers and watch the sun set over the distant mountains.
At dinner on Tuesday, Lily was edgy. Quidditch practice and a hideously long essay from Binns had meant she was unable to go to the Owlery, and she missed her mother's letters and the half hour of quiet. Unable to stand it any longer, Lily abandoned her plate of shepherd's pie and set off towards the Owlery. So anxious was she to find her sanctuary that she broke into a run and arrived in the tower panting. Archie flew over to her immediately and nibbled at her robes affectionately while she untied the letter from around his leg. To her confusion, Lily saw not her mother's neat handwriting, but a thin, looping script saying simply,
Lily's heart leapt as she turned on the spot and saw a familiar tall blonde figure standing in the doorway.
"Scorpius!" She breathed.
Scorpius tapped his foot as he waited for the train. Platform Nine and Three Quarters was packed with parents and siblings awaiting the return of the Hogwarts Express.
"Calm down, Scorpius. She'll be here any minute." Ginny reminded him gently.
"Right. Yeah. Sorry." He said, ceasing his tapping.
After what seemed another eternity (but was in reality only a few minutes) the scarlet steam engine came rolling into the station and young witches and wizards came pouring out into the arms of their waiting parents. Then he saw her, her red hear standing out above the heads of the first and second years, walking towards her family with a smile shining through her tears.
"I can't believe it's over." She whispered as Scorpius folded her in his arms.
"I know, I know." He comforted her, "It hurts when it ends, but it's a beginning as well."
A/N - There we have it. Thanks so much to everyone who read and reviewed, this wouldn't have happened without you and your brilliant support.
Voldemort out, bitches.