Disclaimer: The world and characters of Harry Potter belong to J.K. Rowling, not to me.
Written as a reserve writer, for opaque-girl as her fic for the Christmas Fic Exchange! I hope you like it, darling. I never write things this long, so you should feel special!
With thanks to DobbyLovesSocks for the beta work!
"In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you." -Jane Austen, Pride & Prejudice
Lily Luna Potter is fifteen and a Slytherin. She hates Scorpius Malfoy.
It's family loyalty more than anything else; James and Albus hate the arrogant Malfoy scion, and so, then, does Lily Luna. Slytherin already stands as a hissing, cold barrier between the siblings who were once so close. Lily will not, cannot, make it worse by befriending the others' sworn enemy, even if she were so inclined.
She is not, of course, at all inclined towards Scorpius, platonically or otherwise. He is handsome enough and certainly intelligent, rivaling her cousin Rose for the top spot in the seventh year, but whenever Lily thinks of these things, she reminds herself of his pointed chin and equally pointed remarks about her family. It is always easier for her to hate him after he sneers at Lucy's robes or laughs at Roxanne's wandwork, and for her to channel that hate with potent hexes or equally cutting quips. Lily is not a Slytherin for nothing, no matter what Albus might think.
As Slytherins, they do share a common room. Lily tries her best to avoid Scorpius and his more boisterous friends in their home territory, never mind that it's hers as well. She succeeds until her fifth year and his seventh, which is where the whole affair comes to a head and this narration ends.
It's still hours before breakfast when Lily stumbles into the common room. The fire is long since out and she fumbles in the dark for the Potions book she's sure she left on the armchair last night. She can't sleep and a little of her favorite subject always soothes her right into dreamworld.
Lily's so startled by the sleepy murmur that she jumps back and knocks over an end table as she falls. It clatters so loudly she thinks the whole House must hear it. For a moment she just lies there, dazed, long limbs scattered across the floor, before she remembers the voice.
"Hello?" she says, praying to Merlin she just imagined someone talking. She has no such luck.
"What the bloody hell do you think you're doing?" Whoever she just groped sits up, green light glinting off their pale face and blond hair and -
"You're not my Potions book!" she blurts from the ground.
Scorpius stares at her even more strangely, if that's possible. "Potter," he drawls in his smooth - arrogant - voice. "Are you drunk? Or high?"
Considering it's 3 a.m., Lily doesn't really understand the question. "No," she says. She glances at herself, thinking hazily that she should stand up in case Scorpius enjoys being higher than her too much. "I'm low, see?"
He grabs her hand despite her belated squeak and pulls her to her feet. "Book," he says firmly, placing what she assumes to be the book into her hand. It is still very dark and the only sound other than their voices is the swish of the lake over their heads.
"Thanks," she says.
Lily turns to go back to her dorm, but he stops her. "That's the first time you've ever thanked me," he says.
"Oh." Of course it is. The two barely exchange words that aren't hissed or sneered, besides that afternoon in the library last year and prefect's meetings.
He's looking at her intently. "Potter," he says almost hesitantly. "Sit."
She raises an eyebrow to the perfect Slytherin height. She practices it in the mirror sometimes, not that she'd ever admit it to anyone, let alone Scorpius Malfoy. "Why?"
"You can't fall asleep, obviously." He tilts his head toward her book. "And you interrupted my sleep, so."
"How do you know I can't sleep?" Lily demands. "Maybe I just put off my homework and need to do it before tomorrow."
He collapses elegantly on one of the opulent couches, his rumpled uniform riding up. She wrenches her eyes away from his exposed abdominal muscles. Is it just her, or is the common room heating up?
"I know, because you don't have Potions until Friday and even if you had it tomorrow, you would never put off that homework. You're the Potions star of the school."
This is all true, but she's shocked enough that he knows so much about her to sit beside him on the couch. He's taking up almost all the space. She squishes into the corner and he grins at her.
"I'm always right." Scorpius puts his hands behind his head and stretches. Lily moves the foot that almost hits her in the face.
"Nuh-uh," she insists with the eloquence of sleep deprivation. "That's the problem with you! You think you're the be-all end-all, but you're not. You're not perfect, you know!" She keeps her eyes on his foot rather than his face or... elsewhere.
If the room had been heating up before, it got abruptly colder. "I'm sorry, the problem with me? Your kind are known for pointless pride, aren't they? That sounds a lot like you, Potter."
To her horror, she feels her eyes start to swim. She's so tired and she doesn't want to fight anyone, even a boy she hates, even if she started the fight. She's fifteen, for Merlin's sake. "Maybe it does," she says. "Maybe we're not so different."
He sighs. "We're different enough, Potter."
She drops that subject and picks up another. "There's three of us, you know. You can call me Lily. Less confusing."
"At least you're not a Weasley," he points out with surprising humor in his voice. "Can you imagine? 'Here's your paper, Miss Weasley,' and half the class stands up?"
She giggles despite herself, feeling less empty. "'No, the redheaded Miss Weasley!'"
He chuckles. It's a more pleasing, softer sound than the mocking laugh Lily usually hears. "How come you dyed your hair last year?"
She blinks in surprise. "I-" It's a pretty personal question. "I wanted something different. No, I mean - I wanted to be -"
"I know what you mean," he says. "No one in your family has green hair, do they? So it becomes 'There goes Lily, there goes that girl with the green hair, she's a Slytherin, you know' and it's not 'Another Weasley? Oh, a Potter? You don't look anything like Harry.'"
Lily chokes on her own spit and accidentally slams the back of her head into the arm of the couch. Scorpius snorts.
"That's why I'm in Slytherin," he says almost conversationally. "I understand people. If I was only willing to blackmail them and use their personal information for my own purposes, then maybe I'd be good enough for my father."
"You could try being good enough for you," Lily suggests.
He leans forward and stretches his legs out behind him, so he's completely flipped and facing her. His face is very, very close to hers. "That's a thought," he says. "You know, Lily, even if you were in a crowd of redheads with freckles, you'd still be you. Don't you know how special you are? Green hair or not?"
Lily's breath hitches. "Nobody else seems to think so."
"Maybe they think you already know," he says. "Maybe they think it's not worth saying."
She's not sure how long they've been talking. There is still no sound coming from the dormitories, just the calm swish swish of the lake. She wishes her heart would take a hint from it and calm down too.
"Things like that are always worth saying," she says. "Like 'I love you'. What if something happens and you never get to say it?"
Scorpius hmms. "What if you say it and regret it?" he counters.
"You'll never know if you don't try," she says. She doesn't think they're talking about her hair anymore.
"Do you really hate me?" he says suddenly.
"Huh?" Lily tilts her head,
His full mouth quirks and he rests his own head against the side of their couch. "Last week you said you hated me. Do you?"
Her inner debate on how to answer that ends quickly. She tells the truth. "I don't know. I don't think I do."
"I don't hate you either, not anymore." He runs a hand through his hair. It looks green in the half-light. "Did I ever?"
"You sure acted like you did," she says. She shifts, uncomfortable in her scrunched up position. Even facing her, Scorpius takes up most of the room on the cushions. He takes up most of the air, too.
"So did you," he retorts.
She sniffs and tries to lean back, but of course she's still smushed between the couch arm and Scorpius' body. Normally, Lily hates being confined, but she's not about to complain.
"Potter - Lily," he says, the two syllables rolling off his tongue.
Lily shivers. It's from the cold. Definitely the cold.
"Lily," he continues, "you seem to think it's really easy to say these things that need to be said. It's not."
"No?" She's definitely not staring at his lips, either. She tries to channel James, who hates Scorpius and would never stare at any part of him, but fails miserably.
"No." He laughs shortly, bitterly. "If it was, wouldn't my parents tell me they care even a little bit what I do?"
Lily reaches out tentatively and lays her hand on Scorpius's hunched shoulder. "I'm sure they care about you."
"Yeah," he says, voice rough, "but they don't ever say it, do they? You wouldn't know, Lily."
She shakes her head, her hair flopping against the fabric. "Not about that, Malfoy. But your friends care about you, I know they do."
"Scorpius," he corrects. "They do. They mean well." He nods to himself. "But they're not perfect any more than you or me."
"They're loud," Lily says.
"Yeah. And prejudiced, sometimes. It's a whole new world, but I don't think their parents realized that, raising them. Maybe mine did. They don't ever talk about it. Do yours?" He reaches up and places his hand over her right one, which she belatedly realizes is still on his shoulder.
"No. They try to leave those things behind."
"Do you care about me, Lily?" Scorpius says with the abrupt change of subject that's quickly becoming his usual. He blinks at her slowly.
She swallows and tries to breathe at the same time. Where's her legendary composedness? Gone without a trace, it seems.
"Now," she manages eventually, "I do. I might have always."
"I care about you, too, Lily," he says. His eyelashes are very long. "You really are special, don't you know that? I've tried to pretend I don't feel - well, how I feel. For a really long time. But I can't sit here and look at you and think about anything except how much I adore you."
"Sc-scorpius," she stammers. She's just Lily, and she's not that special, and she's only a fifth year. "I never thought-"
Scorpius touches the back of his cool hand to her jaw and smiles. She can feel her eyes fluttering closed even as her heart speeds to an unbearable level.
They're found a few hours later, curled up on the couch with Scorpius's face buried in Lily's hair, by an absolutely astounded Caterina Zabini.
It's completely worth it.