Snakes and Funerals
She's the girl that's paper thin (and maybe one of these days it will matter).
Sometimes, it feels like the whole world is against her. As she walks down the corridors, offering tentative smiles, people turn to whisper to each other, shooting her glares as she walks by.
She doesn't even know what she's done.
But she tosses her hair, repeating the fact that she's something, her fingers immediately flying to the green-and-silver tie around her neck.
You're Slytherin for a reason. Be strong.
She tries to repeat that mantra in her head as she walks, but nothing seems to be working.
Still, she remembers the first time she'd come home after being Sorted into Slytherin.
"Slytherin?" her dad had asked, his nose scrunched up. "Look, I'll go back to that slimy school and get this mess sorted out, Molls. You'll be in Gryffindor in no time-"
"I don't want to be in Gryffindor," she'd replied calmly. "I like being a Slytherin."
That had just caused him to freak all the more. He wasn't happy with her, and honestly, who was? Everyone hated her, but she was happy, wasn't she? She was glad to be a Slytherin, glad to be the special one.
Except when she wasn't. Except when she was alienated, the only Weasley-Potter to be a Slytherin. She was just the one that everyone tried to avoid passing in the hallway, the girl that no one really liked, but merely tolerated some of the time.
Sometimes, she acts as if it doesn't bother her. Most of the time, it does bother her.
She looks at her gorgeous cousins- at Dominique and Victoire and Rose, all well-known and well loved- and she feels inferior. At times, she gets along with the Ravenclaw Dominique, the one that knows what she thinks and isn't afraid to voice it.
Most of the time, though, she gets along with no one, because what is she but selfish?
Selfish Molly, the girl with no friends- that's all she is, when you get down to what's really inside of her. She's not one of those girls who is beautiful 'on the inside and on the outside'. With her, what you see is what you get, and what you see is not very much.
That is, until that day when everything changes.
Sometimes, her Gryffindor cousin Lily is kind to her. Sometimes, Lily pretends as if Molly is something, as if she's special. The problem is that Lily treats everyone this way, and this is why Lily is easily one of the most popular students at Hogwarts- either that, or something to do with her famous parentage.
One day she is there, but the next, she is not.
Vanished, they say, without a trace, and no one seems to know what has happened.
It's just another slice in Molly's paper-thin walls, she thinks as she glances around the corridors suspiciously, as if they have swallowed Lily up.
However, one thing that Molly firmly believes that she can do is act. So she plasters a smile upon her face and pretends that she doesn't care that her little cousin has disappeared, when really, it's causing her to fall to pieces on the inside.
This is when the story complicates itself.
They hold a memorial service for her, the little fiery redhead, because they don't know where she could be. But there seems to be someone who is a little more upset than everyone else. Though he tries to keep a strong face, she sees right through that to the purely hurt boy underneath, because she can read people like books- and she can play them like no one else.
Walking up to him, she greets the Gryffindor friend of Lily's tersely. "Scamander… you don't look so great."
"I don't know what you mean, Weasley," he retorts quickly, staring at her with wide blue eyes. "Can't you see that I'm absolutely fine?"
"I like acting as well," she continues as if she hasn't heard him. "But sometimes it gets a little too much, doesn't it? You get tired of the lies and masks and you just want to be yourself for once. Happens all the time to me."
"I don't know what you're talking about," he replies hastily, but the small flicker of indecision on his face is all she needs to know he's lying.
"Look," she sighs, drawing out her words as if he is stupid, because he really sort of is. "I know you're lying. I know I'm a Slytherin and you, you're a Gryffindor, but… we're not so different. We're both acting and we know what it's like to pretend. And maybe, if you took a risk for once, you would realize that we could be good friends. We could be good for each other."
With that, she turns, the black dress that she's chosen to wear swishing around her legs. She doesn't pay any mind to him as she walks off. She barely even knows him, yet she has threatened him like they are old friends.
Tentatively, she walks up to the front, brushing aside the gaggles of people that have come to give well wishes to her cousin. Her picture hangs in the front, smiling still and offering the crowd a large wave.
She puts down the freshly picked lilies in front of it and wonders if maybe she's not such a bad person after all.
The mirror, it taunts her. When she peers into it, she sees the bad person that she never tries to mask. She's reminded of times the cold, cruel, calculating girl in the mirror has insulted pretty little Lily, told her that she's just an idiotic ball of fire and that she should leave everyone alone because they're all sick of her.
None of it is true. Molly was just a little bit jealous. She still is.
Everyone loves Lily because Lily is (or perhaps was) sweet and kind. However, there is one thing that Molly knows about Lily that most people do not.
Lily Luna Potter loves (or maybe loved) to play games with people's minds.
She suspects that this all could be a game, that Lily could still be alive, but she doesn't want to tell anyone. So she plays the part of a happy but worried teenage girl most of the time.
Her acting skills improve by the minute.
He's the first to confront her, because just as she can see right through his camouflage, he can see through hers. "You know something."
"Know something about what?" she asks, being sure to keep her calm. She fingers the scarf around her neck, thinking of how very easy it is to lie and how hard it is to tell the truth.
"Something about Lily," he says, his voice catching on her cousin's name. She watches as his teeth sink into his lip, but his eyes widen, showing that he's about to be honest. "Look, Molly. I know that you're obsessed with lying and acting. Honestly, I think you'd make an amazing actress. But that won't get you anywhere in life, especially not in the world we live in, and not when your cousin's life is at stake here."
Her eyes widen- first at the fact that he's now resorted to calling her Molly, and second, at the fact that he would dare accuse her of not having a heart (she has a feeling that it's implied). With a scowl, she tells him, "What if what I know could ruin Lily and your image of her?"
"I'd want you to tell me anyway," he replies halfway sincerely, because he's a Gryffindor and one day these rash decisions are going to ruin him.
"Fine," Molly snaps, and then it all pours out like water running down a counter. "Lily liked to play games with people, especially with their minds. If she didn't like them, she knew just how to ruin them. There was this one girl who used to be friends with Lily. But then… she talked about Lily behind her back. Lily acted like she didn't care, like the girl hadn't hurt her at all and they were still friends. But she ended up... hurting the girl, killing her social life. No one knew it was her. No one but me."
"Let me get this straight," Lysander replies with a frown. "You think that just because Lily liked to play games with people and ruin their lives that she would fake her own disappearance to make us all worry?"
"I never said that," Molly tells him hastily. "I just… it's a possibility, isn't it? That she would pull something like this?"
"I wish I could say that she wouldn't ever," Lysander sighs, crossing his arms across his chest. "I know that she could and she very well would. I just… I don't want to believe that she would make us worry like this."
"Maybe she was- is- insecure," Molly offers, shrugging a little bit and hoping that he doesn't question-
"Why would you think that?" Lysander questions in response.
"Because maybe she thought that nobody would care if she died," Molly responds, ideas forming clearly in her head. "Maybe she formulated this whole plot just to see who cared. Maybe… maybe she's still alive and faking her disappearance. Maybe she has all this planned out, and she'll come back when… when she's ready. Or maybe she's just been playing us all along and she's getting a good laugh out of all of this. Out of our pain."
"I doubt that," Lysander says, but his voice trembles.
"Yeah," Molly hisses, and her voice rises an octave. "You doubt that because you don't want to think badly of perfect little Lily. You always want to think the best of people, don't you, naïve little Gryffindor? Even Lily. Even me."
"What do you mean?" he asks, rising up out of his seat. "This doesn't have to do with you—"
"This has everything to do with me," Molly hisses out of the corner of her mouth. "Why are you here with me? Why are you even talking to me? I'm a horrible person, Lysander, do you not realise?"
"You aren't, really," Lysander pauses for a second before he continues. "You try to pretend like you're this horrid person when really you're just a vulnerable little girl on the inside. You're insecure, like you claim that Lily is. You don't think that you're good enough when really—"
"Look," she spits bitterly, staring at him. "I know you Gryffindors are supposed to be impulsive and say what you think, but I doubt that you know me well enough to judge that."
"Well, let me get to know you," he retorts, crossing his arms, obviously not scared away by her blatant opinions.
"All right, let's start with the fact that I am not naïve nor am I oblivious," she begins tapping her fingers on the table. "And I can read people fairly well. That includes little miss Gryffindor princess Lily Luna Potter."
"Let's see," Lysander cocks an eyebrow.
"She was a bit obsessed with… with playing people," Molly spills. "I know I've said that already, but just putting it out there. And she… she might have either faked her disappearance or maybe even killed herself just to cause drama. You know, a mystery of sorts that we'd have to figure out."
"She… she wants us to solve a mystery," Lysander's eyes sparkled, as if he has just figured something out. Eyes shining, he leans forward. "She left me a note. I didn't show it to you because I wasn't sure what it meant… but it could be a part of this mystery of hers."
"Give it to me," Molly demands angrily.
"I have to go get it," he replies sheepishly, crossing his arms. "I'll run up to the dorms and—"
"I'll go with you," she interrupts, grabbing his arm.
He raises an eyebrow. "Isn't that a bit taboo? You coming to my dorms?"
"Haven't I always been about the taboo?" she retorts, and that is that.
He pulls the note out of the wooden drawer by his bed. With trembling hands, he hands it to her.
Quickly, she unfolds the note, reading Lily's untidy scrawl.
I'm in danger.
But it's no big deal, really, all you have to do is figure it out. Put the pieces of the puzzle together, you know.
"It makes no sense," Lysander sighs, shoving his hands into his pockets. "But, I was hoping you could make some sense out of it…"
As he continues to talk, her mind drifts miles and miles away, as she tries to figure out what Lily is saying. She has a distinct feeling (and really, she's hardly ever wrong) that there's a hint somewhere in this letter, and the hint has something to do with the emphasized words. "Puzzle… puzzle pieces! She left us a puzzle, Lysander, well, really, left you, but you know."
"What do you mean?" Lysander asks, his eyes wide as he scans the note over again before looking up to meet her eyes. "I don't…"
"She's still alive, Ly, just like I said," Molly's words come out in a jumble, and she feels like she's an actress in one of the plays that she so adores. "She's alive, and she wants us to put together the puzzle to come and find her."
"Wait, Molly," Lysander hesitates, and his strong hand encircles her wrist. It should feel wrong, right- he was always Lily's. But now she's out of the way, and they're both single…
Shaking her head, Molly looks down at the note again. "Wait what? We don't have time to wait-"
"What if she meant a literal puzzle?" Lysander barges on, not caring about what she says, and Molly's eyes widen.
"Why?" she asks suspiciously, raising a perfect red eyebrow at him. "Do you know of any?"
"Sort of," Lysander replies, seeming a bit uncomfortable, but he and Molly exchange a glance anyway before he takes off and she follows him.
"It is a puzzle," Molly sinks to her knees.
"Doubting me, are you, Weasley?" he smirks, spilling the pieces out onto the floor. She smiles, sifting through, before biting her lip and examining the messy scrawl on one piece.
"How did you know about this?" she asks stubbornly, frowning a little bit as she whispers words aloud, the echo of them hanging still in the air between them.
The answer seems obvious, but it still stings when he answers as if it is no big deal. "Lily showed them to me." He turns a piece over in his hand before tossing it to the ground again. "She always did love puzzles; I should've known… I mean… I just would've thought that she would've told me, you know? We were sort of close…"
"Yeah, I know what you mean," she replies in a cold tone, pushing the pieces together. "Live. Ly, do you think this mean-"
In that moment, blue meets blue and their mouths drop open as they say the same word in unison. "Alive."
They rush, their fingers constantly bumping as they try to piece together the pieces to this puzzle. She constantly calls out pieces- "live" "key" "find" until the puzzle is no longer a mess of pieces. Now, it is a whole picture, darker than she would've expected. Her fingers trace the letters as she reads.
"I'm alive, but I won't be for long. You have to save me. You're the only one that can find the key."
She can't read the last sentence- the lump in her throat seems to double in size. But Lysander finishes, his voice hollow. "I love you."
They exchange a glance, and she sees the pain of lost love hidden somewhere deep in his immeasurably blue eyes. With a sigh, she tells him sharply, "We have to find her. It's not a choice any more. We're already knee-deep in this dangerous stuff, why not plunge in?"
"Cause we could go mysteriously missing as well," he reminds her, but hey, she's a Slytherin, and what does she know of danger?
She hops to her feet, determined to save her cousin, and Lysander makes a move to join her when the door flies open.
A breathless James stands there, his face wet with rare tears. He manages to splutter out. "L-Ly. Molly… I figured I'd find Ly here but… but…" He wipes his wet face off on his sleeve, but then tears leak out again. "But… they found Lily's body."
Everything comes crashing down.
"You can't be serious," Molly laughs hollowly, not knowing what else to do. She bites her lip, her fingers curving around Lysander's hand absently, keeping her steady so that she doesn't fall to the ground. "I mean… Lily's alive, right?"
James winces but shakes his head, another tear streaking down his face as he turns and makes a run for it. She feels Lysander stiffen beside her, as if he's realizing the severity and seriousness of their current situation.
"You… no, this can't be happening," she says, and then she feels herself falling into Lysander's arms. He puts his arms around her, holding her to his chest, and she can hear the constant beating of his heart- the only thing that keeps her there, that keeps her from falling to the floor. Her hand tightens around his.
"They… she's not... she's not still alive," he whispers, the tears already falling from his perfect sapphire eyes. "We were wrong, Molly."
Or we were too late, Molly wants to say, but the cold stench of death starts to settle into the air around them and she says no more.
Dark. Her closet is devoid of light, just like her life. Ever since they'd found out about Lily's death, Lysander had been avoiding her, much to her displeasure. But now it was her funeral, and he would be there, along with the rest of her family- Lily's family.
She pulls out the darkest dress in her trunk and wears it, feeling like it's all her fault so she's obligated to go. The world spins around her as she tries to tame her red hair, because all she can think of is the fact that Lily had red hair and Lily could be alive, if she and Lysander had been smart enough to solve the 'puzzle' before now.
Slowly, she walks down the stairs. Her housemates exchange solemn glances, because, despite the fact that Lily wasn't a Slytherin, she knew everyone. She wasn't biased unlike most people.
The funeral is dark and the lights dim, but she can see the tears glistening on people's faces. Biting her lip, she slides in beside Lysander. Without hesitation, he wraps an arm around her shoulders, pulling her to him. She doesn't know why- she would have thought that after the whole finding Lily ordeal finished, he would be done with her. Obviously not.
"I thought we were on to something," Lysander whispers into her hair, his breath tickling her neck. "I suppose we weren't…"
Her eyes mist over with tears and her only response is to bury her head into his chest, hiding her face from the world. The stupid, idiotic girl who allowed her cousin to die, that's all she is. She is nothing anymore.
And as her tears soak Lysander's robes, she believes it even more strongly.
Pale, creamy white skin, flaming hair that frames a peaceful face. It looks as if Lily Potter's been frozen in time, or has simply fallen asleep inside of a comfortable coffin. The problem is that Molly knows differently.
Her face shows no sign of blood, her neck has no bruises on it, which rules out the theory that she was choked. In fact, even in death, the young girl looks flawless.
Blinking rapidly, she turns away from the coffin, not wanting to see her cousin's body any longer. She turns her face into Lysander's chest, inhaling his woody scent and not wanting to ever let go.
Everything is falling, swirling around her in brilliant orange (Lily's hair) and the puzzle pieces don't seem to want to fit together any longer. For once, she has no idea what could be going on, and it stings.
Beside her, Lysander places a bouquet of roses and lilies on Lily's still frame and then he threads his fingers through Molly's. Together, they walk to the gravesite, the whispers in the wind bearing Lily's quiet voice.
The grave says too little, yet too much. The worst part is seeing her name, carved into something as hard and cold as the stone that bears it. The dates, so definite, showing her few years on this earth.
She can't do it. So, like the Slytherin she is, she runs.
She ends up at the same place where she and Lysander had put together a puzzle. It still lays there, untouched, and she sits down beside it, her tears splashing the pieces. Angrily, she hits it, watching as the pieces scatter back and forth, just like her heart. She's gone and fallen for the boy who's in love with a dead girl.
Still angry, she gives the pieces another whack, and a metallic sound rings around her. Her eyes widen- none of the pieces are metallic, are they? Concerned, she sifts through the pieces until her eyes fall upon something bronze.
Her mouth falls open, but nothing comes out. Maybe it's too late to save Lily, but it's not too late to find her murderer and save everyone else.
Wiping the stray tears from under her eyes, she runs out the door, trying her best to scream. "Lysander! Lysander!"
He comes (doesn't he always?) with an amused look on his face. "What are you screaming about?"
"I found the key," she tells him, a satisfied smirk making its way onto her face. "Look, Lysander, I know it's too late to save Lily, but maybe it's not too late to find her murderer and save everyone else."
His eyes widen, and he nods quickly. "What does the key go to, though?"
"That's what we have to figure out, stupid," Molly hisses under her breath, slipping her fingers around Lysander's (admittedly strong) forearm and pulling him off. They glance around the room at the doors that surround them, and Molly finally sighs. "There are far too many doors in this building."
"Agreed," is all Lysander manages to get out.
"You knew her better than I did," Molly demands, crossing her arms across her chest. "Where did she like to go the most?"
"She liked this pond, but I don't see why that would help us-" Lysander informs her.
Her hands wrap around his arm, drawing him closer to her. "Take me to the pond. I don't care if you don't agree with me and don't think anything is there, you have to listen to me for once, Lysander."
Nodding, he simply leads her down the stairs and out the door to this tiny pond. She stares at it for a moment before shedding her robes, leaving herself in the white shirt she wears underneath and her loose black leggings. Pulling the tie off from around her neck, she smirks at his dumbfounded expression. "I'm going in."
Then, ignoring his protests, she jumps into the water, feeling it tug her down as she sinks to the bottom, her destination. She thinks absently that perhaps she should've been a Gryffindor- maybe only a Gryffindor would do something stupid like this. But she quickly mutters a spell under her breath, waving her wand under the water, and she can breathe again. The bubble surrounds her head, and now she can see as well. Her eyes flash from one end of the pond to the other, until they fall upon something dark and wooden.
Confused, she swims closer until her hands close over the chest. She pulls, tugs it up from the ground, until it comes loose and she floats quickly up toward the surface.
When she resurfaces, the first thing she sees is him.
The trunk clutched tightly in her two hands, she drops it suddenly and runs over to him. His arms wrap around her, and he whispers in her ear, "Don't ever do anything like that again."
"Don't count on it," she hisses back, but she's laughing and then she's running back over to the trunk. Shoving the key into the lock, she pulls the trunk open slowly, unsure of what she will find.
"Open it already," Lysander tells her impatiently.
"All right," she pulls open the lid, and then they are staring at red.
The red comes into focus after a moment, and they realise that they are staring at a note- a threatening note that is addressed to Lily Luna.
From Theodore Nott.
There are no words that come into Molly's brain as she sifts through the papers. "I thought you loved me- I thought we had something- how could you do this to me? You deserve death or worse-" Her breath comes shorter and shorter. "If you tell anyone, they'll die as well-"
She's in danger, and she knows it, but all she can think about is Lysander's gaze on her back. Suspiciously, she turns around, and within seconds, he's kissing her.
For a moment it's fire and ice, but no, she can't do this. He's still in love with Lily and she doesn't want to be a cheap replacement for her cousin.
So she pulls away, blinking again. "I don't deserve a Prince Charming, Lysander. I'm just the ugly sister."
Then there is a rustling and everything goes black.
"Nott," she can hear Lysander saying, but her head is throbbing too much for her to really register what is going on. "You killed Lily?"
"What are you going to do about it, little Lion boy?" Theodore Nott hisses, taunting Lysander.
"I don't know," Lysander hisses.
But she knows. She knows more than Lysander and maybe it's her chance not to be so paper-thin and instead do something to save Lysander- if not herself, then she would want Lysander to be the one to survive.
Pressing her finger to the tip of her wand, she whispers something under her breath- a signal, of sorts.
Then everything fades to black again and she's left by herself in dream land.
"Molly," a blurry voice calls to her. "Molly, are you all right?"
"No," she manages to spit out, but really, there's nothing she can do. She feels strong arms lifting her off of the ground, and really, she wants to protest, but all she can do is fall back into Lysander's chest, feeling her head rest against his shoulder and feeling like nothing more than second best.
"D-did they get him?" Molly mutters sleepily. "Did they get Nott?"
"They got him, all right," Lysander chuckles, pressing a kiss to the top of her head. "You're a hero, Molly."
And, despite all of the praise, she still doesn't feel like one.
She wakes up in some Healer's office, with no one there. No one but a shiny figure in front of her.
"What?" she mutters, staring at the figure.
"It's Lily, obviously," the girl says with a tinkling laugh. "I know, I know, I'm dead. I just wanted to tell you that it's all right for you to go after Lysander, I mean, he's not mine. He never was. He loved me but I never loved him back and I just want to see him happy. And if you make him happy, go for it, cousin."
"What happened?" Molly asks, her eyes wide, but Lily is fading away already. "No, don't leave-" Molly protests, but it is too late.
Lily's figure fades away into the darkness.
When she wakes up the next morning, she wonders if it was only a dream.
Everyone is surrounding her, placing flowers by her bedside. Adoringly, one of the first years calls her a "hero". But no, she doesn't know how to make them see that she's not, she's just a desperate little girl with confusion that flows through her veins.
Even her Slytherin-hating father congratulates her, and no, she doesn't understand why- what has she done that other people would not?
Finally, the flow of people slows down until it is just Lysander. He comes and sits beside her, smiling at her. "Congratulations, hero."
"You're more of a hero than I am," she mutters, fluttering her eyelashes slowly. "I'm just a desperate little girl, Ly, I really am."
Then he leans forward, planting a kiss on her lips before grinning. "You're not, you did more than I did or ever could. You're amazing, Molly, really, and I mean…"
"You love Lily," she protests, growing frustrated.
"Loved," he corrects her, and then he kisses her once again, more forcefully this time. "That was then; this is now."
She decides just to melt into his kiss and forget about everything else for once. All she can think about is that maybe she has a friend now and maybe not everyone hates her.
She's the girl that's paper-thin, and maybe one of these days it will matter.
A/N: I don't even know, guys, I just had to figure this out.
This is for Dee- happy anniversary weeks late or whatever. ;) And this is for all my NextGen fanatics. I would just like to tell you how much you mean to me and how much I love you all. Don't ever feel unloved, any of you, because I love you.
Uh, yeah, please read and review. Please don't favourite without reviewing or I shall PM you nicely and ask you to review, kay. Uh, ignore the crappiness of this fic, I just had to end it because I don't know, I've been stuck on it for ages.
I love Slytherin!Molly, anyway. Yeah. So. There you go?