Everything started the night of the Yule Ball in Lily Potter's third year. She was scrambling around gathering her gown, shoes, jewelry, and makeup that had all been previously scattered around the room. Molly Weasley and her other roommates watched on in the highest degree of envy, because even though Lily is more than modest and didn't boast, being a third year who got asked to the Yule Ball still gave her all the bragging rights.
"You're so lucky to be going," Cressida Finnigan sighed dreamily, laying on her bed upside-down with her feet propped up on the pillows.
"Yeah, I can't believe Lorcan finally asked you," Molly said as she sat down besides Cressida. "I thought the boy would never make a move."
"You two are so perfect together," added Gwen Wood.
Lily tucked her hair behind her ear and waved away her friends. "It's not like that. Lorcan only asked me because, and I quote, 'Lysander is taking Rose so I'll never hear the end of it if I show up without a date.' We're just going as friends."
"Except he's deliriously in love with you," Molly pointed out. "And you like him back."
"He does not love me." Lily tossed her pillow and hit her cousin right in the face, causing them all to laugh.
"Well, at least you get to go to the Yule Ball, Lil. The rest of us have to wait until next year," Molly said wistfully.
"Hey, I told you my brother was looking for a date," Lily replied.
Molly wrinkled her nose at the prospect of accompanying Albus. "I am not going to the ball with my cousin!"
Lily shrugged and singsonged, "Your loss."
And yeah, she would be lying if she said she wasn't shaking with excitement too. Even though Yule Balls and formal dances really aren't Lily's thing, there was still that undeniable rush, that unquestionable flutter in her stomach, that smile, that blush, that swoon, whenever she thought about Lorcan.
Because when you're a third year, nothing is better than falling in love with a fourth year.
After she put the finishing touches on her eye-shadow, she stepped back from the mirror and stared at her unfamiliar reflection. Her dark blue dress contrasted nicely with her pale skin, her hair was styled to a perfect bun, and she was wearing so much eyeliner and mascara that the old, plain Lily Potter was practically unrecognizable. She looked glamorous. Beautiful, even. Like, the Rose Weasley type of beautiful. Lily wasn't entirely sure if that was a good thing or not.
But before Lily could say anything, the great Rose Weasley herself barged into the room, wearing the same dress as Lily only hers was a dark violet. Upon seeing Lily all princessed out and quite un-Lily-like, Rose gushed and ran to give her a hug. "You look so pretty, Lily!" Rose exclaimed. She scooted closer so she could stand in front of the mirror too, and the two cousins looked at their matching reflections. Styled red hair on thin shoulders, brilliant eyes and unforgettable smiles, going to the ball with the Scamander twins. It's a rare occasion when Lily ever measured up to wonderful, prefect Rose in any way, so she basked in the glorious moment.
"Oh, my little Lily is growing up so fast." Molly pretended to cry, all melodramatic and whatnot. "Be safe, my darlings. Don't do anything I wouldn't do."
Ignoring Molly's antics, Rose rummaged through her bag and dug out two intricate masks, one silver with blue trimmings and one black with purple trimmings to match their dresses.
"What are these for?" Lily asked.
"Don't you remember? It's a masquerade."
Of course it's a masquerade and of course Lily forgot and of course Rose came prepared. Lily laughed at the sheer predictability. Tying on the masks, Lily and Rose took one final mirror check before exiting the room, waving goodbye to Lily's roommates, who were getting exponentially sappier and more obnoxious by the second.
Lorcan and Lysander were in Ravenclaw, so Rose and Lily were meeting them at the ball. When Lily walked with her older cousin into the ballroom, it seemed like everyone turned to stare. Lily staggered a bit at the sight. She has never felt so many pairs of eyes on her at once, never felt like her presence was so prominent.
Here's the thing—Rose was kind of a big deal. She's the type of girl who's phenomenal at everything, brains and beauty, sugar and spice. She's the type of girl who turns heads and draws crowds and brightens lives. Here's the other thing—Lorcan and Lysander were kind of big deals too. They're Hogwarts's hotshot boys, with the brooding eyes and lovable laughs and short dark hair that demanded you to run your fingers through them. They're the type who had every girl wrapped around their fingers, and they're only fourth years. And here's the last thing—Lily really wasn't that big of a deal. She's just an ordinary girl living behind the fame of her family name, just trying to get by. In comparison, she's quite dull, actually.
But this, this is how it all started. A girl much too ordinary, a cousin much too perfect, matching dresses, dashing twin dates, and a masquerade ball. One innocent night when things went awry.
Lily danced the night away and everything was one big joyous blur. Lorcan was sweet and charming and she loved it when he held her waist tight, tight, tight. He twirled her around the dance floor, chuckled when she stumbled, and told her she looked stunning. Lily was so overfilled with elation, she could hardly take it. How could someone like Lorcan be interested someone like her?
She had to escape to the bathroom for a while. Sometimes, when she got too happy, she felt nauseous. It was pretty pathetic, really. James used to mock her for it and call her emotion-intolerant.
She removed her mask and splashed some water on her face, careful not to ruin the obscene amount of makeup that was caked on her skin. A few minutes later, Rose entered the bathroom too, looking quite hot and flustered.
"Lysander just doesn't stop," Rose huffed, fanning herself with her hands. "He just keeps dancing and dancing and dancing while I'm here reduced to a pile of exhausted limbs."
"Do you want to use my hair tie?" Lily offered. She shook out her own hair and gave the hair tie to Rose.
"Thank you." Rose took off her mask and pulled her curls up into a sophisticated ponytail. "Well, come on then, let's not keep our dates waiting," she said with a wink.
They gathered their masks and Lily followed Rose back out into the masquerade. Only then did Lily realize she had grabbed Rose's black and purple mask by accident, but Rose had already disappeared into the crowd. Thus, Lily had no other option but to don Rose's mask and dive into the crowd in search of her date, who she was still convinced was far too good for her.
In the dead center of the mass of dancing students, Lily suddenly felt a pair of arms snake around her waist tight, tight, tight. She smiled despite herself and quickly spun around…except it wasn't Lorcan. It was a boy a good head taller with blonde hair and an icy glare. "Scorpius?" Lily breathed out in shock.
"I saw you dance with Scamander," Scorpius said in a low voice. "And I hated it."
He leaned close, pressing their bodies together, and Lily was somewhere between paralyzed in fear and ready to punch him square in the jaw. Because this was Scorpius Malfoy for the crying out loud. He absolutely despised Lily and her brothers, all because of some ridiculous Potter-Malfoy feud that began an entire generation ago. Scorpius had never said one complete sentence to Lily in all her three years at Hogwarts, so what twisted game was he playing at now?
"Scorpius, what are you—"
"Don't worry, no one will know it's us with these masks on," he interrupted.
Now Lily was confused as to what the bloody hell he was even talking about. And then, in the time it took her to blink, his lips were on hers in a hungry kiss. Every alarm in her brain was set off in full blast, because A, Potters dodn't snog Malfoys and B, if anyone, her kiss should be with Lorcan, not Scorpius of all people and C, Scorpius had a girlfriend so what was he doing here with Lily in the first place? She almost wanted to laugh at the absurdity of it all, but his mouth was still ruthlessly connected to hers with no sign of ever stopping in the foreseeable future.
Well, to be fair, Lily didn't really put up much of a fight to shove him off. It's just, this was her first kiss, okay? All first kisses are special, regardless of the person it's with or the unusual circumstance it's under, and that's why Lily was getting weak-kneed and clinging onto Scorpius with all her might. It was the kiss, not the boy, okay?
Finally, Scorpius pulled away and Lily could breathe again. A million questions ran through her mind but before a single word could make it past the tip of her tongue, Scorpius smiled and bent down to whisper in her ear, "I've wanted to do that all night, ever since I saw you walk in wearing that tiny dress, Rose."
Oh no, oh no, no, no, no.
Lily yanked Scorpius's arms off her waist and stepped back out of his grasp. The room seemed to be spinning and the floor seemed to disappear from under feet and Lily was feeling nauseous all over again.
In the dark, Lily and Rose's dresses looked identical. And now that Lily put her hair down and wore Rose's mask instead, it was so terribly easy to mistake Lily for Rose. Scorpius thought she was Rose.But why would Scorpius kiss Rose like that unless…unless…
"Rose, are you alright?" Scorpius asked with concern. He stepped forward but Lily quickly retreated back some more.
Lily gulped, looking up at his piercing grey eyes, trying to figure out how to tell him this was all one tragic misunderstanding of unfathomable proportions. "I'm not…"
She got interrupted yet again, this time by James and Fred who whizzed by the dance floor, spinning their cousin—the real Rose Weasley—around in circles while they sang in loud, off-tune, and slightly drunken tenor voices: "Ring around the Rosie! Ring around the Rosie!" Rose laughed, her trademark twinkling laugh, and the three waltzed right by without noticing Scorpius or Lily, who were standing three feet apart, both sharing looks of complete and utter horror at the realization.
Scorpius watched Rose go by and turned back around to stare at the other red-haired girl whom he had wrongly presumed to be Rose. "Lily?" he exclaimed, recognizing the youngest Potter at last.
This was too much for Lily to handle, so she slipped through the crowd and ran off, ignoring Scorpius's shouts behind her. She took off her heels and carried them in her hand while she made a mad dash towards the exit. Her mind was overridden with too many contradicting emotions and she needed to get away, clear her head, anywhere but here. She was already halfway out the Great Hall when Lorcan caught up to her.
"Hey, what's wrong?"
"Lorcan. Sorry." She stopped running and turned around to face him. "I'm…I'm tired, that's all," she lied. "I think I'll head back to my room."
"Oh." Lorcan's smile faltered and Lily felt like a horrible person. "I'll walk you back, then."
"No, that's okay. I wouldn't want to ruin your night."
"No, no, I insist."
Over Lorcan's shoulder, Lily noticed a certain blonde, masked figure approach. If Lily went back to the Gryffindor Tower by herself, Scorpius would definitely catch her alone and force upon her an awkward conversation that she wanted to avoid at all costs. So, she took Lorcan up on his gentlemanly offer, and the pair walked away. Thankfully, Scorpius didn't follow.
When they reached the portrait of the Fat Lady, Lily gave Lorcan a polite hug and thanked him for taking her to the ball, she had a lot of fun, Merry Christmas, etc. She slowly inched towards the entrance of the tower, wanting to just escape to her room already. But then Lorcan took her hand in his, ran his free hand through his hair nervously, and stared straight into her soul with his deep hazel eyes. Lily knew what was coming, and honestly, there could not possibly be a worse time for this. "So," he began, "I really like you, Lily."
The Fat Lady in the portrait bashfully hid her face with her fan, but peeked over the top to eavesdrop on the conversation. Lily was afraid she would vomit all over Lorcan's shoes, she was so nauseous.
"And I was wondering if maybe you wanted to be my girlfriend?" he said with a hopeful expression on his face.
The Fat Lady squealed behind them. Lily put on her best smile. "Maybe."
Lorcan chuckled at her response before pulling her close, wrapping a hand behind the crook of her neck, and giving her a short, sweet kiss. (The whole while, she couldn't help thinking that her second kiss didn't measure up to the first.) He bid her goodnight and headed towards the Ravenclaw Tower.
In a daze, Lily muttered the password "Cor mensque" and entered the Gryffindor common room after the Fat Lady swung open. With her cold fingers, she touched her lower lip, the very lip that had scandalously kissed two attractive boys in a single night. It was supposed to be simple. Lily and Lorcan would have been perfect together, remember? But Scorpius just had to enter the picture and mess everything up. Scorpius and his kiss and the way he made her feel…
All Lily knew was that there was something better than falling in love with a fourth year: falling in love with a fifth year.