Author's Note: I didn't expect to get the 7 reviews so quickly! But, I did, so as promised, here is the final installment. Enjoy!
Chapter Ten: A Different Kind of Battle
"I wish I was a more articulate person, that I could find some kind of… unforgettable, world-shattering way to say this. But it's my nature to be blunt, even if it means using the biggest, plainest cliché in existence, and hoping that will be enough. Lily, I love you."
Lily sat silently, momentarily gazing in awe at Scorpius. This can't possibly be real, she thought to herself as she stared into his eyes, hoping to glean an idea on whether this was some kind of cruel joke, or worse, as her mind jumped to the strange conclusion that perhaps this Scorpius was an imposter sent by the Ekklesia to finish her off. Then she frowned slightly, wondering if she was just paranoid as she remembered something Scorpius had told her earlier that year. He had sighed, before saying, "You know, you really need to learn that not everyone is out to get you."
But that didn't mean this was real. All she could think of was the conflicts they had had, the fact that Scorpius couldn't possibly see her as anything more than Loony Lily Potter, Albus' crazy kid sister – how or why would he? No, she thought, of course it's not real. "Is this some kind of joke?" she asked coldly, having already made her decision that it was. Lily was upset that someone she felt she had become close to, and had learned to trust so deeply, could want to play with her feelings in such a way.
Scorpius looked crestfallen, tearing his eyes from hers as he came to the conclusion that she was making fun of him. Despite the hurt he felt at her thoughtless reaction, he answered her in a cool and – as much as possible - even voice. "If you don't feel the same way, that's fine, but you don't need to be nasty about it,"
Lily's stomach dropped at the expression on his face, the way he avoided her eyes and his voice wavered, as much as he struggled not to. This was the real Scorpius, of course, she knew that any other assumption was ridiculous paranoia, and it looked like he really did mean it. But how could he possibly be in love with me? How could I not have noticed something like that? Lily stared into her lap, thinking deeply; all at once, a whole host of memories bombarded her. They had been lurking in the shadows of her mind, like a puzzle waiting to be pieced together then comprehended, and they were now as clear as a memory from a pensieve.
Despite all her disbelief and curiosity as to why a person she had never really talked to until today had decided it was his mission to help her cope with her parents' murder, Scorpius' words seemed to echo and reverberate in her mind: "I just want to help you,"
Until now, Lily had never realised it, but now saw that Scorpius was the perfect counterbalance to her; when she was gripped by anxiety, he kept his sensibilities about him, calming her frantic wits… Scorpius reasoned with her kindly, and hadn't lost his patience with her despite hardly knowing her or having any reason in particular to help her.
"That's what everyone thinks of me, isn't it? Just like Peeves says – Loony Lily Potter." She buried her head in his chest, sobbing. He placed a comforting arm around her, the other one stroking her hair softly.
"I forget that you're not like every other girl." Scorpius' good-humoured expression as he looked at her made Lily smile.
He held his hand out to her; in it was a small vial of a strange-looking substance. "I made this for you,"
Rose, Albus, Scorpius and Lily sat in the grounds, talking peacefully as they observed the full moon, oblivious of what was soon to come. Out of the corner of her eye, Lily thought she saw Scorpius staring at her, but he soon looked away, convincing her that it was wishful thinking on her part.
"I told Albus I'd protect you, and by Merlin I will."
Lily nodded, smiling ever so slightly at the concern he quite obviously held for her; she hadn't noticed it before.
Lily gasped as a green light soared by her ear from a third attacker who had attempted to curse her while she fought off the other two. Before she had even had time to return fire, Scorpius had knocked him over and was fighting him the muggle way, raining down blow after blow. She could almost sense his fury, unsure of whether she had seen him this angry before. In any case, she was sure it was more due to the dirty tactics of the Ekklesia than for her sake.
Victoire sat attentively by her hospital bed. They had been chatting for several minutes when Vicky smirked knowingly, in a way that was her trademark. "That reminds me. I met a friend of yours… Scorpius Malfoy, I believe? That boy carried you up three flights of stairs. He was very… concerned about you," she grinned teasingly, as though she knew something Lily was unaware of.
"Scorpius!" she called as her savior entered the room, hugging him tightly. At first his body tensed in surprise; she half expected him to push her away. Instead, he returned the hug tenderly, as though she was something fragile, valuable.
"I've been able to get to know you a lot better. Not only, that, but… well, don't you think this whole experience has brought us… closer?"
Lily looked up suddenly, realizing that it really wasn't a joke. His feelings had been unnoticed by her because everything had happened so gradually and so naturally that she barely even noticed a change in him, or in herself. "You really do mean it, don't you?" Lily asked quietly, attempting to stare penetratingly into those grey eyes of his, but he avoided her gaze. "It's not a joke after all."
Scorpius straightened at this, their eyes meeting as he realised he had misunderstood her. She hadn't spoken in cold rejection of him, but in sheer disbelief; it seemed like Lily thought he was poking fun at her. He shook his head. "Of course not, Lily. I would never, ever toy with you like that,"
"I know you wouldn't. I don't know why I thought, even for a second, that you would… forgive me for my shock, it's just that, when you saw me in the bathroom on the first night of school, I never expected-"
"To end up in the hospital?" Scorpius joked to hide his nervousness, awaiting her true answer.
"-to fall in love with you," Lily replied, smiling brightly as she once again placed her hand on his. She giggled slightly as he exhaled audibly; obviously she had kept him in a somewhat anxious suspense.
"I'm so relieved you feel the same way," he replied, stroking her hand gently but never for one second allowing his gaze to leave those brilliant emerald eyes. "I know it will be difficult for us, what with an impending war… and of course, at first, I don't expect our families to approve, but-"
"But if they don't they can get stuffed?" Lily joked innocently, making him snicker.
"I was actually going to say, 'but we'll jump that hoop when we get there', but now that you mention it, I suppose that's not entirely out of the question either," he replied, grinning back at her. "But to be serious for a moment… the reason I'm saying this is, I just want to make sure that… well, that you're okay with that."
Lily nodded with certainty, without a second thought, though she knew they faced a daunting gauntlet of obstacles, both magical and non-magical. There were the magical, such as the Ekklesia, whose mere presence in the wizarding world brought the ever-present possibility of injury or death to either or both of them. After this year, they'd have to juggle seeing each other with Lily's ongoing education at Hogwarts and Scorpius' employment, presumably at the Law Enforcement Department. Then there were the plainer threats, such as the shared animosity of their families, and the numerous flaws in every relationship and would inevitably enter theirs.
But if there was even the slightest chance that it would work, that they could share something beautiful (even if only for a short time), then Lily was prepared to take that risk, as she knew Scorpius was also. "I realise that it'll be hard… but when I was younger, my dad told me a saying. 'If it's worth it, be prepared to fight for it'. I love you, Scorpius Malfoy, and I believe that you… are worth fighting for."
For a moment they stared silently as they stared fondly at each other. Scorpius tucked a tendril of wild red hair behind Lily's ear, softly caressing her cheek as he did so. With an unspoken mutual desire, Scorpius leaned forward, closing his eyes as their lips touched softly, tantalisingly. She tasted of the unidentifiable but sweet flavour of the potion she had drank minutes before; he was now close enough to smell her saccharine shampoo. Lily slung both her arms around his shoulders and leaned forward, deepening the kiss. He smiled into her lips before they broke apart, then placed one soft kiss on the end of her nose.
Author's Note: Ah, the long-awaited kiss! I wanted the chapter to be longer, but I think everything worthwhile has been said (I dislike unnecessary filler). I think it's a rather nice place to leave things – a happy open ending allows you to draw your own conclusions and let the imagination run wild.
Well, there's not much else for me to say except for a big thankyou for your support, and I hope you enjoyed the fic!