For sangkar, as part of the 2013 gift giving extravaganza.

Below you will find mentions of slash and cousincest. If you don't like it, please do not read it.

Also, thanks to my lovely Laura for helping me figure out the plot of this.

Word count: 1106


"I can't be second best anymore, Lily. I thought I could. I thought I could make you love me if I showed you that someone could make you happy. But I can't. Because you're clearly in love with someone else," Lysander says softly. His steel eyes never waver from Lily's teal ones.

As much as Lily wants to say that she isn't, that she does love Lysander, she doesn't. Because it would be a lie. She's spent the past three years uttering nothing but lies, and she's tired of it. The green and silver tie that hangs around her neck is starting to weigh too much.

Instead, she looks at him with conviction. "I'm sorry." It won't take away the pain of leading him on, she knows this, but it's the best she can do for him.

He gives her a torn look. "Whoever the bloke is, he's a lucky man," he whispers. He steals one last kiss that's nothing more than a brush of the lips. "I hope he knows this." Then he turns on his heels and walks away, his head held high.

She waits until he's around the corner before she slips to the ground, staring at nothing in particular. She should feel something, feel anything, and yet, she does not, not even the slightest bit guilty. And she can't bring herself to care. Because Lysander was nothing more than a distraction, and she could never fool herself otherwise.

She isn't sure how long she sits against the wall, in the middle of an empty corridor. It could be minutes or even hours. Her head snaps up at the sound of footsteps, making her fiery hair fall into her face. Walking towards her is her brother, Albus.

Wordlessly, he focuses his green eyes on her, taking in her state before sitting next to her. He doesn't talk because he knows that Lily will always talk if she wants, and he would never push her into saying something she doesn't want to. Instead, he puts his arm around her shoulder and gives her a one-armed hug.

The corridor gets darker and the curfew is surely gone by now, but Lily still hasn't talked. She allows her brother's awkward hug to comfort her, to lull her into speaking. But the words get caught her throat every time she attempts to talk.

"He broke up with me," she finally whispers, her soft voice echoing off the silence. She doesn't have to say much else, because Albus knows exactly who she's talking about since he keeps up with her boyfriends. "He cares about me. He loves me. And I couldn't make myself love him." She pauses before laughing bitterly. "Because he's right; I'm in love with someone else."

"Who?" Albus asks. It's the first time he's spoken since he found her, and his voice completely shatters the atmosphere around them.

Lily shakes her head. "It doesn't matter."

"Lily," Albus murmurs, but the question tone is undeniable.

However, she doesn't answer him right away. She reminds herself that Albus will – could – never judge her. But she's scared, completely terrified of what Albus will say because if he doesn't approve, no one would approve.

She closes her eyes. "Have you ever fallen in love with someone you weren't supposed to?"

It's a simple question that, to any other person, would seem to be off-topic. But to Albus, he knows she's going somewhere with it. She's just talking around a question in the way that tells him she's frightened.

"Yes," he answers without hesitation. It's not a murmur and it's definitely not shouted, but it's a firm declaration. It's something that he says with conviction, with his entire heart.

With shock clearly written in her eyes, she turns to meet her brother's eyes for the first time. "Who?"

Albus chuckles. "I'd say I asked first, but I doubt you'll give me an answer without hearing mine first." To that, Lily just nods which causes a smile to cross his face. "Scorpius." His answer is murmured against her hair, so soft that if she didn't feel it, she would've missed it. "But he doesn't know and I have no plans of telling him anytime soon."

Her eyes widen. Albus had made friends with Scorpius while in their first year, despite being in different houses – Albus in Hufflepuff and Scorpius in Slytherin. It's troubling times if they are seen without each other.

After a few moments, Lily finally realizes that she should say something, anything, because her silence can be misread. "I didn't know you were gay," she says, a heartbreak and a half later. She can feel his sigh of relief against her hair. "Why didn't you tell me?"

"The same reason you're not telling me who you're in love with – fear. Fear of being rejected, of being misunderstood, for being different," Albus replies easily. He shrugs. "But I've come to realize that it's my life to live, and it doesn't matter what other people think."

"Louis," she mutters. It's so soft that Albus misses it. "I'm in love with Louis. And Merlin, I know it's wrong and that he's my cousin." Once Lily starts talking, everything – every fear, disgust, worry – comes tumbling out. "I shouldn't be thinking about him like I do. But I can't help it. I keep mentally comparing everyone to him." She takes a deep breath. "I'm royally screwed, aren't I?"

Albus didn't see that coming, and he can barely keep the shock off his face, because his sister needs comfort right now. And he has no right to judge since he's in love with someone he shouldn't. So he tightens his hold on her and tries to reassure her. "We can't choose who we fall in love with, Lily-bug. You're only human, after all, and he is part Veela."

"Part Veela or not, he's still my cousin," she argues.

"At least you're in love with someone of the opposite gender," Albus responds quickly, his tone dry.

At that, she laughs. And Albus grins. "What are we going to do?" Lily asks once she sobers up. Her teal eyes are pleading with him for an answer that they both know he doesn't have.

"Try to move on, I suppose," he answers. It's not what she was looking for, but it's close enough. "Until then, we pretend." Then he gets to his feet and offers Lily his hands. "Now, come on. It's probably well past curfew and I don't fancy losing points."

Lily wraps Albus in a hug. "Thank you," she mutters against his chest.

He ruffles her already messy curls and gives her a smile. "Anytime, Lily-bug."

A/n – This is a little different than my usual headcanon, with Al being in Hufflepuff, but he seemed to fit more in there than anywhere else.

So many thanks to Paula for beta-ing this for me. You're a goddess, love!

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