Chapter 5: Dinner.
Lily felt like a lost, scared little child. She pictured herself as still being five-years-old, hiding in the hall closet because James told her that a monster was running loose in the living room. She was still hiding, still locking herself away to keep from being captured by the monster running free around her. Only this time, the monster was not Albus in a bedsheet, the monster was her own creation of lies and trickery. It had gone too far. It was too much. She knew that.
The red-headed young woman stood silent in the middle of her childhood bedroom. The tiny home in Godric's Hollow had always felt like a safe haven from the big, bad world. She was born in that home—quite literally, in her parents' bedroom—and her fondest family memories lay in that home. The family photos that lined the walls, the daisies in the yard that her and her mother had planted, the purple wallpaper in her bedroom that Albus and James had put up without magic: everything in her old home made her feel loved and at peace. It was only fitting that she confess her deceit in such a place.
The sound of a light knock on the door frame pulled the girl from her silent reverie. She clung tighter to the small teddy bear nestled in her arms and glanced back at her mother's smiling face.
"Your brother and Mai are going to be here any minute." Ginny Potter smoothed her hands down the front of her blouse and tipped her head at her daughter. "When is Spen-uh, sorry, Scorpius...when is he meant to be here?"
"Actually, mum..." Lily placed the stuffed animal onto her old dresser and pulled her hair over her shoulder. "He um...well he's not -"
"Oh, Lily, don't tell me that's he's canceled. This is just too much." The woman closed her eyes and massaged gently at her temples. "Is he really this unreliable?"
"No! Mum, he's not. It's not -" The girl's words were cut off by the sound of the doorbell. "Mum, I -"
"Not right now. That's probably James. Just...come downstairs and let's have a nice dinner. Regardless of the missing party." Ginny put up her hand and turned from the room, marching off before her daughter could say another word.
Lily let out a heavy sigh and threw her head back with dramatic frustration. She took a moment in front of the mirror to compose herself before heading downstairs to see her brother and his fiancée.
James' strong face lit up the moment he spotted his sister at the top of the stairs. "Lily bean, get down here," he called out and Lily huffed at the nickname she always pretended to dislike. The young man pulled the red-head into a warm embrace and looked up the stairs behind her. "Where is he? Mum said this was the big day when we all finally got to meet this Spencer bloke." His hazel gaze scanned the landing, then fell back on his sister in confusion.
"James, give her a minute to breathe," came a soft voice from behind the eager Potter. Mai was a petite girl, with porcelain skin and silken dark hair that hung to her shoulders. Her half-Japanese heritage was clear in her features, most easily recognizable in her dark brown eyes. She embraced her future sister-in-law quickly, no real affection behind the hug.
Mai and Lily had no animosity between them, but they had never truly spent any alone time together or bothered bonding in all the years James had been dating her. Neither seemed to mind; they each had their own social circles and kept to them. They were three years apart in school, so their paths had never crossed when James wasn't involved. Mai was respectful of how much Lily got along with James, and never tried to interfere with their brother-sister time. Likewise, Lily had never spoken ill of the girl or found anything against her. So there had never come a time when the two were at odds. There were days in which Lily wished she had a better relationship with the girl who was about to become family, but she didn't see much hope in changing things, not in the near future at least.
"She can breathe. I just wanna meet this bloke is all. Now, I've prepared a full set of questions for him. I hope he doesn't have anywhere to be tonight, because I brought along some Veritaserum to use during the interrogation."
"He's kidding." Mai tucked back her hair and threw James a look that revealed she wasn't so sure if he was actually kidding or not. "At least, he better be," she added in a nervous giggle.
Ginny put her hand on her son's head and ruffled his messy black locks. "So much like your father. I took a vial of the very same away from him this morning."
Lily would have found all the playful exchange amusing if she didn't have a pit of guilt twisting her stomach. "Guys, I have to tell you all something." She tugged helplessly at the hem of her blouse and twisted her face in distress.
"I hope it's that dinner is ready, because I'm starving." Harry's voice carried from the hallway before he joined the rest of his family in the home's entryway. He threw his arm around James' shoulders and gave him a sneaky grin. "Did you bring the potion? Your mum swiped mine off me."
"You two settle down." Ginny pushed the male Potters apart and started shooing them towards the dining room. "Go sit. Dinner is ready." She laughed as the two bounded out of sight and rolled her eyes when she could hear them taking seats at the table. The woman put her arms around Mai and embraced her warmly before also sending the young woman into the kitchen. "Come on, Lily. If he's not coming, then we'll just enjoy this dinner without him."
"But mum, just wait." Lily stamped her foot like an insolent child and spun around, turning her back to her mother. "Just listen to me for a minute. Please."
"Lily..." Ginny's voice took on instant worry. "Honey, what's wrong." She laid her hand on her daughter's shoulder and tried to turn her around.
Before Lily could say a word, the doorbell rang again. The red-heads both turned, Ginny with a smile, and Lily with confusion on her face. The older woman pulled open the door and lit up. Standing in the doorway was a disheveled looking Scorpius Malfoy. His messy blonde hair looked like he had fought to comb it...and lost. The nice grey slacks and matching sport coat he wore looked a bit too small on him and his light purple socks were showing between his pants' cuff and trainers. His face was flushed, like he'd been exerting himself, perhaps running, just before arriving. He smelled of cologne that didn't fit his style and just an undertone of smoke, as if he had been attempting to cover it up.
"Scorpius! Oh, I'm so glad to see you." Ginny laid her hand on the young man's arm and guided him into the house. "Lily made it seem as though you weren't going to be here today." She threw a scolding glance back at her daughter, then turned back to the blonde. "Come on then, you're just in time."
Scorpius looked back at Lily and offered up a crooked, apologetic smile to her as Ginny pulled him into the dining room. The red-head could only stare back in confusion. She twisted her hands together, fretting about why he was there after he'd told her no. The moment the threesome entered the noisy dining room, all sound ceased. James, Harry, and Mai all stared up at Scorpius as though the man had three heads. Their faces all read the same: huh?
James was the first to speak, and it wasn't in a polite tone either. "What the bloody hell is he doing here?" He lazily pointed his finger at Scorpius despite it being obvious who he meant.
"Well...James..." Ginny patted her hand on Scorpius' back and ushered him to the chair across from her son. "Your sister is dating him; that's why he's here." She smiled brightly and took her place beside Harry. "Seems she's been doing a bit of fibbing." The woman unfolded her napkin and kept speaking in a calm, even tone, trying to present the air that nothing was odd whatsoever. "This is Spencer." Ginny put up her fingers and made air quotes as she said Spencer.
"Uh, no, mum, this is Scorpius Malfoy." James clearly hadn't caught on to his mother's explanation.
The young Malfoy put up his hands and licked his lips. "Let's not make a big deal about it, alright? Lily felt like she had to hide our...relationship from certain people." He threw a poignant glance at James and looked behind him to find Lily. The red-head was still hovering by the doorway. He extended his hand towards her and met the girl's eyes. "She never meant to lie. She was simply afraid. Don't fault her for that."
Lily let out a shaky breath and slipped her hand into Scorpius'. "I'm so sorry, James. And dad. I really didn't want to lie to anyone...ever. But I was scared. Like he said." She tucked her hair behind her ear and slipped into the seat beside Scorpius.
The laugh that escaped James' lips sounded near inhuman. The young man shook his head and wiped at his eyes like he'd just heard a hilarious joke. "Very funny, Lily bean. You don't expect me to actually believe that you are dating...him, do you? I mean...that's mental."
"James, watch your mouth." Harry popped the table beside his son's plate and gave him a stern look. "That's no way to speak about your sister's boyfriend." The man looked shaken and confused, but was trying to arrange himself. "Lily, I'm very upset to hear that you've been telling lies, but...I'm glad that you finally came clean about it." He moved his gaze to Scorpius and stretched his lips into a wider smile than was natural. "I know we've met before, at the Ministry, but it's nice to officially meet you."
"You too, Sir." The blonde gave Harry a genuine smile and turned back to Lily. "I've been trying to tell her for months that I wanted to be open about us, but she is awfully stubborn," he confessed in a playful tone. "Aren't you, darling?"
"Stop." James held up his hand and scoffed at the 'couple'. "You -" he pointed at Scorpius once more " - are not dating my sister." He spoke as though it were fact rather than objection. "You just aren't. You can't be. You're...and she's...I mean aren't you...like...well you're..." he trailed off, waving his hand about, begging for someone else to finish his sentence so that he didn't have to. The young man huffed when no one stepped up to support him and rubbed at his eyes with his fingertips. "Mai?"
"Now, James..." Mai laid her hand over her fiancé's arm and gave him a squeeze. "I know that you and Malfoy had a few altercations in school but surely -"
"Altercations?" Ginny's eyes widened as she looked between the mentioned boys for answers.
"It was nothing, Mrs. Weasley. A couple of children, behaving as such." Scorpius flashed a charming smile at the concerned woman before turning his gaze to James. "Water under the bridge, right, Potter? All – in – the – past."
"Is this about that toilet thing Nate mentioned?" Lily asked.
Ginny's eyes grew even wider. "Toilet thing?"
"It's nothing mum!" James pushed back from the table and shook his head. "Like Malfoy said...all water under the bridge." He got to his feet and looked around the table with a tight smile. "Can I get everyone a drink before we start? Mum, Lily, Mai, tea? Dad, a beer?" When he received nods from each party he rested his eyes on Scorpius. "Beer for you and me then?"
"Ah...sure." Scorpius nodded.
"Scorpius you don't have to do that!" Lily spoke up quickly and grabbed the young man's hand. "He's only giving you a hard time. He knows that you don't drink. You don't have to impress anyone."
"Right." Scorpius turned to Lily and smiled. "Because I don't...don't drink? I don't drink." The young man shook his head adamantly and threw a scathing glare at James. "I don't drink."
"I forgot." The young Potter looked down at the blonde with a fake apologetic smile. "Tea then?"
"Yes, he'll have tea." Lily stood up and started pulling on Scorpius' hand. "I need to talk to you for a minute...love. Could you come with me."
"Lily, it's very rude to abandon the table before the meal even starts," Ginny muttered.
"It'll only take a moment, mum. I promise." Without waiting for Scorpius to properly stand up, she dragged the young man from the dining room. Lily didn't stop until the two had reached the other side of the house. She pushed Scorpius into the living room and looked back out of the doorway to make sure they weren't being followed. "What are you doing here?" she hissed, rounding back on him.
"I'm here because you asked me to come." Scorpius kept his voice no higher than a whisper. "Have you forgotten already?"
"I haven't forgotten anything. I've also not forgotten that you told me no."
"Well...something's come up."
"My mum, that's what." Scorpius put his fingers on his lips and shook his head. "She got word of this little -" he waved his hand towards the general direction of the dining room "- scheme of yours. Got it in her head that you and me are in love, see? Thinks that we're all sorts of happy. Wants you to be at a party and everything."
"A party?" Lily cringed and looked at the floor. She'd never intended for her lies to seep over into Scorpius' life. Especially so quickly. But she wasn't surprised with Roxanne having known.
"Yeah, a party. So I'm going to sit here and pretend to be with you for your parents, then it's going to work the other way round, alright? You're coming to a nice little garden party."
"Alright." Lily nodded in agreement and smoothed back her hair. "I'm so sorry for this, Mal-Scorpius. I didn't mean for it to get back to your mum. I promise that I'll make everything right when this is over. I'll make sure people know that it was my fault we...broke up or whatever we're going to do."
"Damn right, you will."
Lily gave the young man a reproachful look for his language but said nothing. "I...I really appreciate your help. And the way James is acting, this dinner won't take long."
"Yeah, but now I have to sit through it without even having a drink."
"Sorry about that." Lily looked back out of the door to make sure no one was coming. "If I had known you were coming, I could have prepared you."
"Is there anything else I need to know? Before your brother tries to pull some stunt again."
"Just don't talk too much. They think you're the quiet sort anyway, so it'll go over fine. I'll do the talking and if they start asking too many questions, just...act like you're flustered or something."
"I can do that." Scorpius pulled at the end of his coat and wiggled his shoulders around.
"Oh, and you're a vegetarian."
"I'm a what?" He clapped his hand over his mouth because he'd been a bit louder than intended. "Did you just say I'm supposed to be a bloody vegetarian? That's just fantastic. No drinks, no smokes, no meat. How the hell do people live like that? They must be mental."
"Hey! I happen to live like that thank you very much."
"Well, thank you for proving my point." Scorpius gave the girl a cheeky grin and put his arm around her shoulders. "Shall we go back to dinner then, dearest Lily love of mine."
"Uh, sure but don't call me that." Lily shrugged the young man's arm off of her and headed back towards the dining room.
Scorpius just smirked and followed on her heels. "Anything you say, darling."
"Finally." Harry threw up his hands when the two reentered the room. "I work hard all day, you know? I'd like to have some dinner now, please."
Lily and Scorpius took their seats and the food was passed around. Scorpius felt like he being punished the moment the tofu-patty hit his plate. The young man prodded it with his fork, half expecting it to jiggle like gelatin.
"Everything alright, Malfoy?" James put on a smug smile as he plopped a large steak onto his plate. He eyed the tofu on the blonde's plate and made a humming sound that seemed to cover a laugh. "Lily said that you love that stuff, didn't you Lily? All about the clean living...just like her."
"I am." Scorpius met the other man's eyes across the table and took a defiant bite of his tofu-patty. If he had been a less stubborn man, he might have spat the stuff right back onto his plate, but no way was he giving James Potter the satisfaction. He ate every single bite of that tofu-patty and half of a second one. He just kept reminding himself that it would be over soon and he could get some real food after they left that night.
The conversation wasn't heavy and Lily was thankful for that. Her family had always been quiet ones when food was being attended to. The few times things would focus on Scorpius, he would stuff a bite into his mouth, making it where she could answer for him. Lily was impressed with his ability to improvise and ramble on without actually answering a question. But she was also disgusted with herself for putting Scorpius into a position where he had to lie and weasel around. She would make it up to him; she kept promising herself that.
But for now, she could only smile and hope that the end of the night came fast.
A Note From the Author: Thank you for reading! I hope that you enjoyed this chapter. When you're finished here, head on over to my profile page and check out the brand new poll! I'd appreciate the feedback from everyone, and it'll only take a few seconds. :) –Jenna