He awoke to the sound of rain tapping against the window. It echoed in his small bedroom, and did nothing to help the terrible pounding in his head. He spent the previous night drinking far too much firewhisky, sitting alone in a booth at The Leaky Cauldron, and was currently paying for it. Waking up was his only option, but he wanted nothing more than to roll back over, pull the bedclothes over his head, and sleep for the rest of the day.
He had to get to work though, so he forced himself to get out of bed. His feet dragged as he made his way towards the loo, making sure to grab his wand off the bedside table. He cast a spell to fill the shower stall with steaming hot water, and proceeded to remove the boxer shorts he passed out in the night before. They pooled around his ankles, and he stepped out of them and into the hot shower.
He felt himself waking up, and the nausea he felt from a full night of drinking started to pass. He tipped his head back, letting the water hit his face. His muscles were tense, a combination of stress from work and frustration at the way his life was going. He grabbed the bar of soap, and used it to wash himself, running it over the smooth plane of his chest.
He then used it to lather up his hand, and as he let the bar fall from his hand and hit the shower's tile, he wrapped it around his cock. It felt wonderful, and he couldn't help but grunt out at the feel of it. He squeezed tighter and began pumping up and down. He tried to keep his mind free of thoughts, but as it typically did when he wanked, his mind drifted to her.
He knew he shouldn't be thinking of her, but his mind filled with thoughts of her silky red hair and her firm, fit body. In his mind, he watched as she spun towards him, giving him that smile he knew so well. He could almost hear her whisper Teddy into his ear, and it caused him to pick up his pace, to pump harder and faster. With one last firm tug, he came on the white walls of his shower.
He stood there, trying to catch his breath, letting the hot water wash away the evidence of what he had done. It was wrong, thinking about her like that. She was lovely, and perfect, and everything he could ever want. And no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't stop thinking about her. He wanted her, needed her, and the knowledge that it would never happen was slowly starting to kill him.
He finished washing up, enjoying the last few moments of the hot water beating down on him. He reached for his wand, shutting off the shower, and grabbed a towel off the rack, drying himself off. He wrapped the towel around his waist, droplets of water dripping from his hair, and walked back to his room. He wasn't looking forward to work at all; he found it much easier to just stay in his flat where it was private and quiet. Things he once loved— like Quidditch and being with his mates —really meant nothing to him anymore. He knew it was rather pathetic, but he couldn't bring himself to care about such things. The one thing he did care about was out of reach.
He pulled some clothes from his drawer chest, and let the towel drop from around his waist. His mind drifted to the past, to an incredibly painful break up with Victoire, to the looks of disappointment he received from most of the Weasleys when they heard the news.
He knew they were better off apart, confirmed by the harsh realization that Victoire sought comfort in the arms of another man during the most painful parts of their relationship, but something inside of him wondered if they could have made it work. He mostly thought that getting back together would only be for the benefit of everyone else, and that he and Victoire really had no business attempting to reconcile.
But on his most lonely days, he allowed his mind to drift back to the happier times they shared, and he couldn't help but think that maybe it could have possibly worked. He remembered holidays spent together, and lazy afternoons snuggling under a quilt. He would remember making love with her, and how special it was, and how she was his first.
Those thoughts only lasted for brief moments, until he shook his head from his reverie, or until thoughts of her drifted into his mind. He knew that they couldn't make each other happy anymore, and that Lily was the one person who could.
He finished dressing; making sure to pull on a thick jumper, as he knew it would be cold outside. He forced himself to leave the confines of his bedroom, and he shuffled into the kitchen, making himself a cup of tea and nibbling on a day old scone. The tea was hot and tasted good, and helped wake him up a bit more. He swallowed the last few drops, and shoved the remaining scone into his mouth as he went into the hallway and pulled on his boots. He grabbed his heavy cloak off the hook, and without a look back into his flat; he stepped into the hallway, locking the door behind him.
The Apparition to the Ministry of Magic did nothing to help his headache. What had been a dull pain was now a roaring one. He knew he would be suffering through the day with it; it seemed nothing he did could get rid of them lately. They just had to run their course.
He walked through the main lobby, trying to manoeuvre around the other witches and wizards that were crowded around him. He was elbowed more times than he could count, but he hardly noticed it. As was normal for Teddy lately, his mind was a million kilometres away. He loved work, but focusing these days was a challenge. He knew his work was slipping, and it didn't help when your boss was not only your godfather, but also Harry Potter himself.
He knew Harry had noticed a change in him, and it didn't take him long to pull him out of fieldwork and stick him with a desk job. Teddy fought it with almost everything he had (fieldwork was the one thing in his life that wasn't total shite), but Harry told him that until he noticed a positive change in him, that deskwork would be it for a good while. Teddy and Harry had never had so much as a quarrel before, but they barely spoke for a week after that. It killed them both, they were undeniably close, but eventually they put their differences aside.
Teddy was grateful that things were better between them, but every time he saw Harry, he felt a stab of guilt over the feelings he was having for his daughter, and that that was a big reason for the change in him. He was absolutely certain that Harry would never approve of such a situation, no matter how much he loved Teddy. Not that it matters much, he thought, I don't even have a chance anyway. She isn't interested in me, she moved on from that childhood crush years ago. But there's no way he'd let me date his only daughter.
He let out a heavy sigh as he stepped into a lift, making his way down to the Auror department. Stepping off on his floor, he begrudgingly walked towards his office, nodding his head at the secretary, Millicent, as he passed her.
She thrust some pieces of parchment out towards him, without lifting her head. She really is a miserable old witch sometimes, he thought as he took the paperwork from her outstretched hand. He wasn't quite sure if she actually was a miserable person, or if he was feeling so down that he was seeing the negatives in everyone. He chalked it up to a combination of both. Even when he was happier with life, she still came across as pretty awful.
He arrived at his cubicle that was set off in a far corner, admiring the nameplate that read "Ted Lupin, Auror" that hung at the entryway. He was proud of his accomplishments, and knew that as soon as he was out of his rut, he would be back out doing what he loved.
Sitting behind his desk, he added the parchments from Millicent to a never-ending pile that sat teetering on the edge of his workspace. He dipped his quill into some ink, and spent the next few hours filling out forms and signing his name. His neck started to get stiff, and he thought he'd fall asleep soon, until he heard it. He heard her laugh. His eyes closed. He was drinking in the lovely sound.
He'd recognize it anywhere, and as faint as it was, he knew it was her. He dropped the quill, and the noise got louder, and by the time he lifted his head towards his doorway, she was standing there with her father.
Merlin, she's bloody gorgeous. He couldn't stop staring at her, and his mouth gaped open a bit. She stood next to Harry, a smile on her face.
"Hi Teddy!" She looked happy to see him. "It's been a while."
It took him far too long to find his voice, and he started to feel like a prat.
"Er, hi Lils. Yeah, it has been a while, I guess. Um, what are you doing here?"
"Visiting Dad. Thought it might be a nice surprise."
She grinned at her father, and he looked utterly thrilled to be standing next to her. Lily Luna was the pride of Harry's life, and everyone knew it, especially Teddy.
"It has been a nice surprise. Unfortunately," Harry said with a sigh to Teddy, "she's leaving. She has to get back to work, and I'm trying to finish up a case."
Teddy's heart sank. He knew she wasn't there for him-- that she was just stopping by on her way out --but he couldn't help but hope she'd stay and chat for a bit.
I'd really like to do more than chat with her, he thought, and then instantly felt like an arse. It was probably for the best that she wasn't staying, even though her leaving was the absolute last thing he wanted.
"It was great to see you, Teddy. You're hardly around anymore, we all miss you."
He felt guilty hearing that. He loved the Potters, and the Weasleys, and he knew they all felt the same, and it hurt him to think that they missed him so much.
"Yeah, I'm sorry about that. I'll try and be around more."
"Sounds good. I really need to go, though. See you."
"Bye," he said, lifting his arm in a weak wave as he watched Harry and Lily walk away from him.
Watching her leave hurt every time, and all he wanted to do was just run down the hall after her, take her into his arms, and kiss the life out of her. It was a thought that came into his mind quite often, far more often than he thought was appropriate. With a heavy sigh, he picked up his quill again, and dove back into the endless paperwork that sat in front of him.
Shortly after what should have been his lunch hour, but what was spent signing useless forms, a knock brought his mind out of the trance he was in from doing mindless work. It was Harry. He didn't wait for an invitation before he walked in, taking the seat in front of Teddy's desk.
"Hi Ted." Harry was just sort of staring at him. It made Teddy squirm a bit in his chair. He remembered Ginny telling him once that for a long time Harry had a difficult time reading peoples' emotions, that the way he was raised really prevented him from understanding anything but extremely strong emotions, like hate or anger. He wasn't able to quite grasp when someone was just a little upset.
But now, Teddy had a hard time believing that Harry could have ever been like that. He could feel those green eyes on him; they felt like they could see right through him. It was rather disconcerting. Teddy knew that Harry could always tell when something was wrong with one of his kids, it was a skill he excelled in once some of the demons in his life drifted away, and sensing Teddy's emotions was typically no exception.
"How are things? You really aren't around much anymore. It's like I only see you if I come in here, or if we pass in the hallways."
"Er, things are good. Just, lots of work I suppose."
He saw Harry's eyebrow slightly arch. Harry knew exactly how much work Teddy had to do; he was his boss after all. And the mindless paperwork really wouldn't have prevented Teddy from being around the Potters, and Harry knew this. And Teddy knew that Harry knew, but it was really the only excuse he had, or at least the only excuse he could share with Harry. He couldn't just come out and say "I'm completely and utterly in love with your daughter, and that dating her is so not an option that I've been staying away, alienating every person who's ever meant something to me." Paperwork was the only safe excuse he had, truth or no.
Harry used his wand to cast some silencing and privacy charms. "We miss you, Teddy. James and Albus were asking about you the other day. They still look up to you so much, even though they'd never admit it. They were just so used to having you around, yeah?"
Teddy smiled a bit, thinking about Harry's sons. He loved them like brothers; the three of them were nearly inseparable, even with the great age difference. He especially missed James, who was one of his very best mates.
In a very conflicting matter, James was the one person he could tell everything to, who he could open up his heart to and spill all of the embarrassing details of his nonexistent love life, while at the same time be the main person who he absolutely could not talk to about his feelings. If there were one person more than Harry who wouldn't understand, it would be James.
For all of James's life, the comparison to his uncle Ron had been there, and dating his sister would be one thing James would absolutely never go for. Teddy had seen James's reactions to the boys Lily had dated, and Teddy knew that James would always think that there wasn't a single wizard out there that was suitable for her, including Teddy himself.
"You know, your relationship with Victoire ended quite a while ago."
At this, Teddy's head shot up, and he looked Harry straight in the eyes.
"And no one blames you. From what everyone understands, you're probably better off apart. And Victoire seems like she's moved on, and she looks happy whenever I see her. You're the one who doesn't, and I don't really get why. Is it Victoire? Have you not moved on yet?"
Teddy sighed, and ran a hand over his face. He really didn't know what to say.
"No, no, I have. I… I moved on a long time ago. Us being together, it really didn't work in the end. And as much as I loved her, all we were really doing was hurting each other. I do suppose it's a bit odd seeing her with other people. We were together for a really long time."
"I can imagine," Harry said.
"But, no. I'm over it all. The break up was horrendous, there's no way we could have survived a relationship after the things we said to each other. It's good that she's moved on."
"Then, what is it? You're just not you anymore, and maybe I don't need to be concerned, maybe I'm just blowing it all out of proportion, but you used to be happy. You used to look happy. And I don't even think it's Victoire, because I… I don't know, I just don't think it's that. But I don't know what else to think, and I feel like I'm gasping at straws a bit. I reckon you're unhappy, though."
Teddy lowered his gaze, unable to look into Harry's eyes anymore. He loved Harry like a father; Harry practically was his father, which just made the situation that much worse.
"I, I'm sorry. I love you; I love you all, really. And, I'm sorry that I'm not around, that I haven't been around much lately. It's not fair to you all, I suppose. But I'm okay, really. And I do miss you all, and I should come around more often. And I will, I'll start. It would be nice to see James and Al again. We could go get a pint or something, yeah?"
He wasn't sure if it worked, but Harry seemed to accept it as an answer. "I think that would be brilliant. The boys really do miss you. You could plan something soon," he said as he rose from his chair and made his way to the door. "They'll be really happy to see you."
"Yeah, I'd love to see them too. James has been trying to get me out for a while, and I keep blowing him off. I'll send him an owl real soon."
"Alright. I need to get back to my office. This potions case is really kicking my arse. I have no idea what time I'm getting out of here tonight."
"Do you need any help?"
"No, Ted. Thanks. Things are all set right now; I have Wilson out investigating some leads, everything's covered. But if things start turning in our favour, I'm sure I'll need you."
This made Teddy feel much better. He felt that Harry wasn't disappointed in him, just concerned. He thought that maybe Harry just wanted him to take a break for a few days.
"Alright, then. Let me know if you need any help at all."
"Will do." And with that, Harry was gone.
Teddy tilted his head, resting it on the back of his chair. He loved Harry, and wanted things to be all right with them. He wanted to be able to tell him everything, like he could in the past.
He spent the rest of his day with his mind barely on his work. He kept imagining perfect scenarios, where he declared his love for Lily, and she loved him back, and they could be together without any difficulties. And Harry and James and Albus, and even Ginny all thought it was brilliant. It brought smiles to his face, until he cursed, reminding himself that none of that would be possible.
As he wasn't actually working on any cases, when six o'clock rolled around, he was able to put his files away and leave for the day. He turned the lights out and left his office. He passed Millicent on his way down the hall, and she barely gave him a nod of her head and a grunt goodbye.
He thought about what he wanted to do with the rest of his evening. He could Apparate home to his empty flat, but that didn't sound as appealing to him as it normally did. The only thing he could think to do was his other ritual, sitting in his regular booth at The Leaky Cauldron.
He Apparated to Diagon Alley, once again trying to avoid a crowd. It wasn't easy; the place was bustling with the after-work crowd, everyone rushing to get home. The Leaky was surprisingly empty for the dinner hour, something that Teddy was grateful for. He wasn't up for being surrounded by a lot of people.
He saw Hannah Longbottom, Harry and Ginny's good friend, behind the bar. She was typically there in the afternoon when Teddy was around, so he wasn't all that surprised to see her. He threw her a quick wave, and she smiled at him as he walked towards the booth he preferred. It was near the back, but still close enough to the front that he could see the door. His Auror instincts never allowed him to be too comfortable anywhere, so he liked to have a good view of the whole place. The booth near one of the windows was perfect for him.
His typical firewhisky sat in front of him, and he took a small sip of it. It burned a bit, but he was fairly used to it. For the most part, he didn't drink much at The Leaky. Getting pissed never really helped him forget anything; it usually just made him feel awful (similar to how he felt when he awoke that morning). But for some reason, he liked to sit there and watch the crowds of wizards and witches. To Teddy, there was something comforting about being out in public but not having to communicate with anyone.
He really wasn't in the best of moods, as was typical of him lately. He knew that he should try to just wake up and be happy, but he just wasn't, and he was unsure of what he could do to change how he felt, aside from declaring his feelings for Lily, which to him was just not an option.
So he sat for a while, sipping at his drink, and looking around. His eyes closed as he rested his head on the back of the booth. His eyes were tired from staring at all of those pieces of parchment in his office, and it felt nice just to close them for a while. He couldn't stop his mind from drifting.
It was a chilly April day, and Teddy was leaning against the side of the Potters' house. Harry and Ginny had offered their yard to Luna for her wedding day, and as an honourable Potter, he was of course invited to the gathering. It was quite small, but for members of the Weasley family small wasn't really small.
He had planned on attending with Victoire, but their break up in January ended that plan. He found it difficult to be surrounded by so many people that were his family, but weren't at the same time. They were really Victoire's family, and while she claimed to be out of town for work, part of him felt as if that was a lie, that she stayed away for, or because of, him.
Those thoughts did nothing to help him settle his emotions. A large part of him felt like running, Apparating away. But he knew that would be rude, and aside from feeling awkward, it was a lovely wedding, and he was having a nice time.
Many of the guests were dancing, some were eating, and most were laughing. He felt the most comfortable staying a bit away from everyone, and just watching from afar.
Teddy had had a few glasses of Muggle champagne, something Luna was quite impressed with, but he really just had a happy, warm feeling about him. As he was about to take another sip, he felt someone next to him, leaning against the wall with him. He turned, and discovered Lily.
She looked wonderful. As Luna's goddaughter, she acted as a bridesmaid, and had a simple, yet elegant, ankle length dress on. Her hair was down in loose waves, a flower tucked behind her ear. He noticed she was barefoot.
"Hi Lily. I'm good."
She didn't speak for a bit after that. Teddy found himself unable to stop looking at her. He always knew she was pretty, noticed it when she was seventeen, and she wasn't the little girl with mud on her shoes anymore. But something about her just looked different. He couldn't figure it out, exactly, but he liked it.
He watched as her eyes gazed across the yard. She looked happy, content.
"Would you like to dance?" He completely surprised himself with that. He had no idea where it came from; he really wasn't all that fond of dancing. He only danced when Victoire used to make him, and even that was typically a minor battle between the two. He had been perfectly happy by himself leaning against the wall, but he didn't regret asking her, and he found himself hoping she'd say yes.
She looked at him, and with a smile on her face she nodded.
They made their way out onto the dance floor. A mellow song was playing, and most of the guests were swaying to it.
She moved easily into his arms, and he was surprised at how natural it felt. He was immediately self-conscious of everything though: where his hand should sit on her waist, what he should do with his other hand, would he step on her feet? Lily seemed comfortable though, and Teddy told himself to relax.
It worked, and in moments they were dancing together, and it wasn't clumsy at all. He thought it was rather nice. He was looking around at everyone, just observing, and feeling calm, when Lily started talking.
"I'm really glad you came today."
He felt a little confused.
"It's Luna's wedding, of course I came."
"Yeah, well, we weren't sure if you'd show up. You know, with everything…"
Teddy had been absent lately. It was so much easier to stay away from everything. It hurt less.
"Yeah, well," he said with a shrug. "It was important."
Lily nodded her head. "It's just, are you okay?"
He hated being asked that question. Of course he wasn't okay. But he'd always feel guilty for getting so upset about it. He knew that everyone who asked was just trying to help. And he knew Lily would care a lot.
"Not really, no. I mean, it's hard, yeah? It still hurts, and I know everyone talks about it, and I really hate talking about it myself. Being here, being with everyone, it's difficult. But I'm glad I came. And I'm glad I could see you."
She smiled, and she looked like she understood how he was feeling. "I get it. And I can't imagine how hard it is for you. But I think everything will be okay for you. It'll all work out. And you really should take all the time you need. Just, I hope you don't stay away too much."
She looked away. Her head was awfully close to his shoulder, like she could just lay her head down on it. That, combined with the way she felt in his arms, and the kind words she spoke to him had him quite confused. He was happy and unhappy all at once, and he couldn't separate those feelings from each other. More than ever, he wanted to be as far away as possible and never leave all at the same time.
They didn't speak again; they just finished out the dance together. She smiled at him before she walked away.
Teddy jumped, trying to stop thinking about that day. He could remember it vividly, down to every last detail. And it was quite clear to him, after months of thinking about it, that Luna's wedding was the first time he really noticed Lily. And every time after that just made him notice her more. She was always there, on the fringes of everything in his life. And almost any happy memory he had, aside from those he had with Victoire, she was there. And he could have kicked himself for not noticing it all sooner. And then he hated himself for thinking about something that could never be possible. She was beautiful and funny and practically perfect. A kiss she placed on his cheek on her birthday sent him spiralling over the edge.
He felt the sudden need to escape, and just as he thought about paying his tab and heading home, he heard the bell jingle on the door as James and Al walked in.
Teddy very much had the urge to flee, and it conflicted with his desire to spend time with two of his best mates. He wasn't up for explaining his recent absence, and he was confident that it would come up. He felt that he could handle it though, and he really did miss them.
"Teddy!" he heard James yell out. He waved at them in invitation to join him. They stopped at the bar first, each grabbing a pint.
"Teddy, we didn't know you'd be here," Al said.
Teddy chuckled. "Yeah, well, I'm here often. I talked to your dad today; I was going to send you an owl when I got home. Thought we could get together soon."
"Where the hell have you been, mate?" James didn't seem angry though, just curious. If James were mad, he'd tell you.
"I've been around. Work and stuff, you know. Just doing my own thing, I guess."
"Well, it's bloody great to see you. Lily said in her owl today that she saw you when she was visiting Dad this afternoon. Right jealous we were," he joked.
Teddy laughed. "Oh, yeah, she told you about that? It was just for a few minutes, they stopped by my office for a quick hello."
Teddy suddenly felt a bit lighter. She mentioned me? It didn't last. You're an idiot; it didn't mean anything like that.
"So, what are you two up to?"
"Eh, the usual. Decided to get out for a while, get pissed. James said he wants to pick up a bird. He's a right prat."
James leaned across the table to smack Al on his arm. "Piss off, Al," he said without malice. "I can't help it if the witches love me."
Teddy was amused by their brotherly banter. "You've probably come to the wrong place then. Not many girls around here, at least not any single ones that I've seen."
"Been looking, have you Lupin?"
Teddy shook his head and took a slow sip of his firewhisky. He had only been out one date since his break up with Victoire. One of the Auror trainers set him up with a friend. It was an utter disaster, as he really didn't know how to just go out on a date with someone he didn't know, and at that point he was already falling for Lily.
"No, not at all."
Al changed the subject, and the three of them spent the next hour or so drinking and catching up. Teddy thought it felt nice, and normal, to be with them. He started to think that he had been somewhat of an idiot for staying away so much.
As soon as the thought left his head, he saw Lily walk through the door. He thought his heart was going to stop as he watched her look around the pub. She finally noticed the three of them sitting in the booth and made her way over.
"Hey, Lils," James and Al replied. Teddy just stared at her.
"Sorry I'm late, got stuck at work for a bit," she said as she slid into the booth next to James. She started to unwrap the scarf from around her neck, and she ordered a pint for herself from a passing waitress.
She looked at Teddy, and smiled. "Hi Teddy."
Just act normal. "Hi Lils. Didn't know you were coming."
"Yeah, Al invited me. Wasn't sure I'd make it, but here I am." Her face was flushed from the January cold. Her hair was slightly messy, and she ran her fingers through it after she shrugged off her coat. "Long time no see, yeah?" she laughed.
He just smiled at her. He really didn't know what to say to her without telling her that he was beyond thrilled and absolutely terrified that she joined them. It felt so good to be able to see her, but he wasn't sure how long he'd be able to take it without declaring his feelings towards her. He kept taking sips of his drink, which kept him quiet but was beginning to make him a bit drunk.
He listened as the siblings discussed their various jobs, and as Al told a story about something embarrassing Harry had done. He wasn't really listening very closely. He found it hard to focus on the conversation around him. He kept sneaking glances at Lily from across the table. He thought that her hair looked lovely in the dimly lit room, and how the sweater she was wearing brought out the colour of her eyes. She licked her lips after she took a sip of her pint, and he felt all the blood in his body rush to his groin.
After what felt like forever, yet not long enough, Lily started to put her cloak back on, and began to rise from the table. "Sorry, everyone. My day starts quite early tomorrow. Try not to stay out too late, yeah?"
"Sure thing, Lily. You alright on your own?" James asked.
Lily rolled her eyes. "Yes James. I'm not a child," she replied as she leaned in to place a kiss on her brother's cheek. She did the same to Al. "See you soon Teddy?"
"Er, yes, sure. Sounds good."
"Great. See you all later!" She walked towards the door, and in moments she was gone.
Teddy had been avoiding Lily for so long, but it didn't take him any more than a few seconds to realize how brilliant it was even just to be in the same room as her. They hardly spoke to each other, at least not one on one, but it didn't matter. He felt that if something didn't happen between the two of them soon he might burst. He couldn't quite see how it would work, but the empty feeling he had when he watched her walk away was almost enough for him to do something.
He realized that both Al and James had been trying to get his attention. They were looking at him with a mixture of concern, and amusement on Al's part.
"Oh, er, yes. Fine. Sorry, a bit out of it I guess. What's the time, anyway?"
James glanced at the watch he always wore on his left wrist. "Almost ten."
"Thanks. I think I'm going to get out of here. Work tomorrow, obviously. I should go."
Al stood up so Teddy could get out of the booth. "You sure, mate?"
"Yeah, yeah. We'll do this again soon though."
"Absolutely," James said, leaning over to shake Teddy's hand.
The three of them said their final goodbyes, and Teddy left the pub, Apparating to his flat.
His place was dark as he walked in, and it was slightly chilly. He cast a simple warming charm to make it more comfortable, and he kicked off his boots in the hallway, and hung his cloak back on its hook.
He was tired even though it wasn't too late at night. He just felt drained, and confused, and frustrated mostly. He was tired of constantly being unhappy, of always finding something wrong with the way his life was going.
As he walked down the hall to his room, he told himself that even if he couldn't have exactly what he wanted— Lily, with him, forever —he should at least make an effort to enjoy the things he did have, including Lily as his friend.
He undressed and collapsed into his bed, thinking that things in his life could possibly be okay.
His next day at work was much of the same— little attention from Millicent, a visit or two from Harry in the morning, and hours of mindless paperwork.
Things changed at lunch, though.
He had been thinking about getting up from his desk, and possibly going somewhere to grab a bite to eat, when he heard a knock coming from the doorway.
"Lily! Er, hi! What are you doing here?"
She smiled at him as she walked into his office, closing his door behind her. "Well, it was so brilliant seeing you last night, I guess I just wanted to do it again."
"You know, see you. I brought some lunch," she said as she held up a bag for him to see.
"Oh, right, okay."
"Er, is it okay? I mean, if you're busy it's alright, I could go visit Dad again, he wouldn't mind a visit two days in a row."
"NO! Er, I mean, no, please, it's wonderful that you're here. And, I'm hungry, so lunch is brilliant. Please, stay. I want you to stay. What did you bring?"
"Soup. Made it myself," she said, beaming. "I think it's rather good, too." She walked towards his desk and put the bag down on it, removing two containers of a soup that Teddy thought smelled quite good. Lily conjured two spoons and took a seat. She started eating, typical of all the Weasleys. If there was food to be eaten, they started right away. She looked comfortable sitting there, like it was totally normal, which in the past, it was. Teddy thought it felt right having her sit there.
They sat eating for a while, not really talking. It was nice, Teddy thought. Lily mostly watched the soup in her bowl, so it gave him a good opportunity to watch her. He knew most of her quirks, at least the visible ones, like the way she would smile after a particularly good bite of food, and how when she was thinking she scrunched her nose up some.
"How are you, Teddy?" The sound of her voice startled him in the quiet room. "I didn't really get to ask you yesterday, with Dad, and then James and Al around. So, how's life? Where have you been lately?"
He didn't quite know what to say to her. Part of him wanted to tell her everything; it would have been so easy. "I'm okay I suppose."
He didn't want to lie to her. "Not really, no. I mean, nothing's wrong. Just, I haven't been myself lately."
"Obviously. The Teddy I know is much more fun. I've had to spend far too much time with those prat brothers of mine without you around. They're much more bearable when you're there," she joked.
He softly laughed. "Sorry 'bout that, it sounds terrible. I've just, felt like being by myself I suppose."
"Well, get out of it, whatever it is. You're far too wonderful to spend all your time alone."
"No need to thank me. Just be happy." She looked hopeful, like just her words alone could fix everything for him. Teddy thought they almost could.
"Okay. I will be."
"Alright. I should go, and you should get back to work. I don't think my dad's paying you to sit and talk with me." She stood up, and started cleaning up their lunch.
"Yeah, I've got a lot of stuff to do." Now more than ever, Teddy did not want her to go.
"Let's see each other again soon; next week, maybe?"
He was utterly shocked. "Oh, er, okay. Really?" What does this mean?
"Yeah, last night was fun, we should do it again. How about next Thursday? I'll send James and Al an owl."
Too good to be true. "Yeah, that sounds great Lils. Thursday."
She picked up the bag she brought lunch in, and walked towards the door.
"Thursday," she said as she turned the knob. "I'll see you then." She waved at him with a smile on her face, and she left his office.
Teddy felt happier than he had in quite a long time. The thought of seeing Lily again in such a short time thrilled him, even if it wasn't what he really wanted. He wanted more. Thoughts of seeing her again so soon helped the rest of his boring afternoon pass a little more quickly.
The next evening Teddy was alone in his flat, as usual, after one of the best days at work he had in a while. Harry put him back out in the field, and he finally felt like he was useful at work, like he was actually helping people. Harry didn't say much about it, and didn't ask any questions about Teddy's mood, but he must have noticed a change.
The change was mostly brought on by thoughts of Lily, combined with Teddy's desire to not go through life so miserable. His life wasn't perfect by any means, but he had friends and family who loved him, and he had Lily, even if she was just a good friend.
My best friend, really. We're probably closer than James and I are. And I can tell her almost anything, and until I pushed everyone away, we hung out together all the time.
And it was true. Before Teddy and Victoire's break up, they were extremely close. Their friendship had even been the topic of a fight between the couple, which at the time didn't mean much, as everything between them could have started a fight. Looking back on it, though, Teddy thought that maybe Victoire noticed things before he did.
He sat on the floor of his living room, his back leaning against the sofa. Trying to clear his mind from his workday, he let his thoughts drift to mindless things. His legs were spread out straight in front of him under the coffee table. He loved his coffee table, as odd as that was. It was one of the few pieces of furniture he picked out on his own. Many of the pieces had been handouts from Harry and Ginny, even though he felt like he should have been more independent in furnishing his home. But they insisted, and it was nice not to have to spend his money on those things, and the pieces looked nice in his flat.
He was enjoying the quiet, drinking a cold butterbeer. Most people drank it warm in the winter, but he never enjoyed the taste when it was warm. He thought that it was much better cold, and he hardly drank it any other way.
He was just finishing up the bottle, when he heard a knock on his door. He got up, and made his way towards the sound. His feet were bare on the cold floor. He should have had socks on. A pair made by Mrs. Weasley would have been nice, but he was never one for wearing them around the house. People thought he was a nutter for it, but that was just the way he was.
He opened the door, and Lily was standing in front of him.
"Lily!" He had absolutely no idea why she was there, but he was extremely happy about it, and nervous at the same time. He didn't know if he could trust himself to be alone with her in his flat. She had been there before, but it was entirely different now.
"Hi, Teddy!" He stood there, staring at her. Her cheeks were flushed from the cold, and she was smiling brightly at him.
"Er, can I come in?"
"Oh, right, sure," he said, stepping out of the way to let her in. "Um, what brings you here?"
"Well, I was thinking about the plans we made for next week, and well, I really am so excited for it, but I just couldn't wait that long to see you again," she laughed as she entered his flat. "Silly huh? Lunch was so nice yesterday though. And it was nice that it was just the two of us. And I figured you'd be home; it seemed late enough that you'd be out of work already. I used to come over here all the time, remember? And it's just been so long."
He couldn't help but grin like an idiot at her rambling. It was something the Potters were known for.
"It's brilliant, Lils. Let me get your cloak." He moved closer to her, and she turned around to shrug it off so he could take it. She smelled wonderful, like flowers and peppermint all at once. His fingers brushed against her red hair. It was so long and silky, and he so badly wanted to run his fingers through it. She turned around, and they were standing close, too close for comfort. He put some space between them, walking towards the kitchen after he hung her cloak on the hook.
"Sure, that'd be great."
He stood at the open icebox, letting the cool air calm him down. Merlin he wanted her. And he couldn't figure out why she was at his place. She said she just felt like stopping by, and that she hadn't been over in a while, but Teddy thought there really was no reason for her to be there. He didn't quite know what to do with himself. He knew he had to stay calm, though. He thought it would be completely unfair to attempt something when she was over for an innocent visit.
He grabbed two butterbeers, and shut the door to the icebox. When he walked into the living room, he saw her sitting on the floor in his usual spot against the sofa. It made him smile. Maybe it's something she remembered from when she used to visit, he thought.
"Here you are," he said, opening the bottle and handing it to her.
He sat down beside her on the floor, careful not to sit too close. He took a long sip of his drink. He loved the coolness of it as it went down his throat. He didn't drink butterbeer too often, but it was a nice treat some nights.
Lily wasn't talking, but she looked content. He thought she looked beautiful, and seeing her look so comfortable in his flat did wonderful things to his insides.
"How are things, Lils?"
She nodded her head. "Good, good."
"And the Prophet?"
Here, she smiled. "Bloody brilliant, Teddy. I really love it. I was really nervous about it when I first started there; I was so terrified of working in my mother's shadow, really. She is this huge icon, obviously, including as a writer, and I just thought I'd constantly have to be compared to her when I was working. But it's not like that at all; I'm just me there. I feel respected, you know? It is completely what I want to be doing. And working with her is nice. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about spending so much time with her, but we work well together, and its good to see her so much."
He loved her enthusiasm for her work. Lily loved everything life had to offer, and to Teddy it was no surprise that she loved her job.
"That's great, really. You and your mum were always close, I'm not surprised it's working well. And I think you're a brilliant writer."
She turned her head and stared at him. "You read my stuff?"
"What? Of course I do. Your column is amazing. And you write about stuff that matters, it's really great."
"Wow," she said, settling back against the sofa. "I had no idea. I mean, I knew you did in the beginning, after I got the job, because the whole family did. I just, I didn't think you'd keep up with it. I mean, I didn't think you'd like it that much, I guess."
"I love it, Lils, I never miss one. I couldn't."
And he was being honest; he absolutely loved her work, and he never missed an issue that had something written by her in it. He clipped out a few of his favourites. They sat in the bottom drawer of his desk in his office.
"Thanks." Lily was smiling, and as they made eye contact, she looked away quickly, taking a long pull from her drink. Teddy did the same.
"What about you, is work going well for you?"
"Yeah, it is. It was pretty bad there for a while, but things improved today. I'm feeling a lot better about it all."
"Hmmm," she said. The butterbeer bottle was propped up on her thigh. Her long, thin fingers were peeling at the label. "Dad says you're a brilliant Auror. One of the best he has."
"Are you joking?"
"I wouldn't joke about that, Teddy. He says it all the time. He's really proud of you, I think he is not-so-secretly thrilled that you followed in his footsteps."
Teddy really was shocked. He knew Harry thought he was good, but he didn't know he thought he was that good. Teddy himself thought he was a great Auror, and he worked hard to be one of the best. He knew that his mum was considered one of the best Aurors the Ministry ever saw, and he had the strongest desire to live up to her, to be just like her. And the thought that Harry was just saying that because it was Teddy never crossed his mind. Teddy knew Harry was always sincere.
"I had no idea, really. I mean, obviously I'm good at my job, or I wouldn't still have it. Harry wouldn't have kept me around just because of who I am if I couldn't do the work."
"True. You are good, from what I hear."
They sat in silence for a while. He finished the last sip of his butterbeer, and Lily was taking the bottle from his hand. Their fingers touched, and while it was absolutely silly, he couldn't help but enjoy it. She stood and made her way into the kitchen, grabbing them each another bottle. When she sat back down next to him, she was noticeably closer. He could feel her thigh pressed against his. He could feel the heat of her leg, even through the thick layer of her jeans.
"Here," she said, handing him the bottle. Some of her hair fell into her face, and he desperately wanted to tuck it behind her ear with his fingers. Since she walked through his door, he could smell the mix of flowers and peppermint that was Lily. He watched as she tucked her hair behind her ear, and then as her fingers played with the new label.
He wanted to talk to her. He realized that all of their recent conversations had been about him. Aside from her work at the Prophet, he didn't know what was going on in her life.
"What have you been up to Lils? Other than work, I mean."
"Oh, well, nothing really. Work keeps me really busy. Not much time for anything else, I suppose."
"Right. Er, spending time with friends or anything?"
"Well, sometimes. I go out with the girls sometimes. It's nice. We have fun. But I guess I just like staying in a lot. They all probably think it's a bit odd, but I like being home."
"Yeah, home is nice."
"This is nice, being here. With you."
"Mhmm. I've missed you a lot lately."
Teddy's heart was racing. They were incredibly close, and something was happening, but he just couldn't figure out what it was yet.
"I've missed you too. I'm sorry I've been avoiding everything lately. I just needed space, I guess."
"Yeah, I understand. It's okay." She licked her lips, and was watching him. And he was watching her. She leaned forward to put her bottle on the table. His joined hers soon after.
"I went on a date last week."
He was absolutely not expecting that. He blinked a few times, and just waited. He didn't know how to respond, or even if he should respond.
"It was a disaster. Worst date ever, really."
"Why?" He had to clear his throat; he could hardly find his voice.
"We were set up, it was awful. He just wasn't right for me."
"Er, how do you know?"
Her face was incredibly close to his. "He wasn't you," she whispered, and then she was kissing him. She was kissing him hard, and he was kissing her back. His hand moved into her hair, to the back of her head. He was holding her to him, like he never wanted to let go. He could feel her tongue in his mouth, and it was the best feeling in the world. He couldn't remember ever being happier than right then.
When they pulled apart they were both panting, gasping for some air. "Merlin, Lily."
Before he could say another word, she was kissing him again. He was pulling her closer, as close as possible. And he wasn't quite sure how it happened, but before he knew it she was on his lap, her legs wrapped around his waist. Her fingers were gently pulling the strands of his hair.
She kissed him more insistently, and he could feel her start to make small rocking motions against him. He was hard already, had been from practically the time she walked through his door. His hands worked their way under her jumper. Her skin was soft and smooth. It felt wonderful.
She started kissing down his neck, and behind his ear. Teddy felt restless. He wanted more. His hands worked their way down to her bum, and around to rest high up on her thighs. When he felt her tongue dart out on his skin, his hands squeezed and he thrust up a bit. She sat back to look him in the eyes. Her cheeks were flushed with desire, and her brown eyes were bright even in the dimly lit room.
"Lily," he panted, "what—"
"I want you, Teddy. I—"
That was all he needed to hear. He was kissing her again, hard, working his tongue into her mouth, gripping the back of her hair. Her hands were holding his shoulders, and she was making quiet noises in the back of her throat. Teddy had never wanted anyone more in his life.
It was fumbly, but somehow he managed to get her to stand, and using his arms, he hoisted himself up onto the sofa. She stood before him, and lifted her jumper over her head. It mussed up her hair, but she didn't seem to notice. Teddy's fingers started working the buttons on his trousers. He lifted his own shirt over his head and when it was gone he looked up to see her standing there, completely naked from the waist up. Her snow-white bra sat on the floor next to her feet.
Her pale white skin was scattered with freckles. He wanted to lick every last one of them, specifically the ones he could see on her chest. He moved to sit on the edge of the sofa and, with his hand on her lower back, pulled her to him. He kissed his way across her stomach, his tongue dipping into her navel. He heard her gasp, and felt her fingers in his hair again.
"Teddy," she sighed. "Oh, God." She put her hand on his shoulder and pushed him back onto the sofa. She followed him, kneeling with a leg on each side of him. Her breasts were pressed against his chest as they kissed again. He moved his lips across her cheeks, and down her neck. He loved the taste of her; he couldn't get enough. He kissed his way down her body, stopping at her collarbone for a minute, and then landing on her breasts. She gripped his hair harder as he kissed and licked them. He sucked a nipple into his mouth, and Lily held his head there. Her hips moved more insistently, rubbing herself against his erection. It felt wonderful, but he really needed more.
He pulled away with a gasp. He could see Lily's breasts heave as she took in deep breaths of air. Her eyelids were heavy with desire.
"Stand up," he told her. Her being off of his lap was a noticeable absence, something he didn't want for very long. He touched the smooth skin of her stomach, and rubbed his hand across it tenderly. He looked up at her, and her eyes were boring into his. He could tell just by the look on her face how much she wanted this to happen. He had felt slightly nervous in the beginning, but the way she was looking at him and the way she was reacting to his touch, all of his nerves drifted away. He only felt lust.
He quickly undid the button on her jeans and lowered the zip. Her hips wiggled as she helped him lower them to the floor. Her knickers followed right after. He could have stared at her like that forever, really, but he wanted her, and she didn't want to wait any longer either. She bent down and he lifted his bum, and together they pulled his trousers and pants off his legs.
She removed them from around his ankles, and he watched as she bent down to pick her wand up off the floor. She moved back on top of his lap, her legs once again wrapping around his waist. The feel of her against him, without any clothing, was almost more than he could take. Her skin was warm, and her lips were smooth as he kissed her again. His head was spinning, and he couldn't decide if he wanted to just take her, or draw it all out, have it last as long as possible.
She broke the kiss, and with a wave of her wand she cast a contraception spell. He had been wondering for a while, during all of his numerous fantasies, if she had ever done this before. He knew now, without a doubt, that she had. Part of him was sad; he wished that they both could have only been with each other. But he pushed away those feelings. None of that was important right now. All he cared about was this moment, just the two of them. No one from their past mattered.
She tossed the wand back to the floor, and Teddy's fingers slowly moved into the curls between her legs. She was wet, he noticed as he pushed a finger up inside her. He heard her moan, and he started pumping his finger in and out, quickly adding a second.
"Teddy, fuck," she panted out as his thumb swirled around her clit. He watched as a flush spread across her body, and he placed his other hand on her breast, cupping its weight in his hand.
Her pants came quicker as his fingers picked up the pace, and his thumb added more pressure to her clit. He could tell she was close, and he really wanted her to finish.
"You're beautiful," he whispered. With a few more gasping breaths she came. She was holding onto him tightly, one of her hands holding the back of his neck. Her eyes were closed, and she was breathing heavily.
"Lils," he said. She opened her eyes; they were bright and clear.
She leaned forward, kissing him softly. They took their time, just enjoying the kiss. It was calming after how frantic everything had just been.
She broke the kiss, and reached between them to grasp his penis. Her hand on him felt so good to him.
"I want you, Teddy." And without another word she sank onto him. They stayed like that for moments, and Teddy could hardly breathe. His hands were gripping her thighs.
"Fuck," he grunted out. "Lily—"
He didn't say anything else, though, because with that she was moving up and down on him. He put his hands on her hips to help her move, and he couldn't help but thrust up himself. It felt so good. Her arms wrapped tight around him, and her head buried into his neck. He could feel her hot breath on his skin, and her breasts were pressed tight against his chest. They couldn't have been any closer than they were right then.
They moved slow, finding a rhythm that was just right. It felt familiar, like it was something they could have done together a hundred times, but at the same time it was new and exciting. She felt so good around him, warm and tight. He could hear her say his name into the skin of his neck.
His eyes were squeezed shut; he wanted to last as long as he possibly could. He never wanted it to end. It was the single greatest moment of his life. He was finally with her, and for the time nothing outside the two of them making love mattered.
The way she was panting, he could tell she was close again. He thrust up faster, needing more. She kissed him again; it was forceful, and when she broke it their foreheads rested together.
"Fuck, Teddy, I—" And she was coming with a groan. It was such a wonderful sound, and with a few more quick thrusts he was coming. He buried his head into her neck and held her close to him. They rested like this for a while, trying to catch their breath and slow their heartbeats down. He rubbed circles on her back as she ran her fingers through his hair. He just held her; he didn't want to let go.
He felt Lily kiss his neck before she pulled away. She stayed on his lap; his arms were wrapped around her waist. She looked into his eyes, and ran her fingers through the fringe on his forehead. He didn't know what to say to her, he didn't have the words.
"Your hair is blue," she said, her fingers still moving softly through it.
He rolled his eyes up, unsuccessfully trying to get a look. "Yeah?"
"Mhmm. It's always blue when you're really happy about something. Haven't seen it in a long time." She leaned forward, kissing his forehead, and each closed eye, and softly on his lips.
"I've wanted to do that for so long," she whispered, like she was afraid to say it too loudly.
He put his hand on her cheek, his thumb rubbing gently. "You have?"
"Yeah, years, really. I've always wanted you."
He had no idea, at all. He thought he was the only one who felt that way. He realized he hadn't said anything back to her for a while. "Me too, Lils. Merlin… you're all I think about. I can't even believe this just happened."
"Really?" she asked. Her eyes were wide open, like she couldn't really believe what he was telling her.
"Yeah. I had to stay away, I thought. I just, I didn't think this would ever happen. I didn't think we could ever be together."
She kissed him again, not quite as soft as before, but it was still nice and gentle.
He pulled away. "Is all of this okay, Lily? I obviously didn't plan this, and—"
She placed a finger on his lips to quiet him. "It's perfect. I, well, I didn't plan this either, but coming over here… well, I hoped for it. But I thought it was useless, I didn't really think anything would happen. But we were sitting next to each other, and you looked at me, like, really looked at me, and I thought it might have been possible. And when I kissed you, I thought you'd push me away, actually."
"I couldn't have possibly pushed you away. Wouldn't have been possible."
She smiled softly at him. "My head's spinning, Teddy," she laughed. "I'm shocked, I guess."
Teddy was shocked too, but in the best way possible. He was unbelievably happy, and Lily was in his arms, and as complicated as he thought it all was, for the moment everything was simple. He didn't need to have any worries right then.
He shifted on the sofa and slowly laid her down upon it, settling himself in between her legs. He kissed her, taking his time, exploring her. He kissed everywhere he could reach, and he lingered on the hollow of her neck. Her hands moved restlessly on his back, and he felt her hips shift below him.
Without asking, knowing that it would be okay, he pushed inside of her, moaning her name into her neck. He felt her fingernails dig into the skin on his back, but it didn't matter. He grabbed the arm of the sofa behind her for leverage, and he started thrusting in and out of her.
She was making wonderful sounds below him, and her legs wrapped around him, holding him tight to her. He leaned up on his arms to look at her. She was watching him, her eyes were wide, and her mouth was open slightly. He sped up his movements, needing a release. He watched as her neck arched slightly as she came again. He thrust up, hard, one last time, groaning her name as he released.
He kissed her again, and then shifted. It was a bit awkward, but he ended up behind her on the sofa. He pulled a blanket off the back of the sofa to cover them, wrapped her up in his arms, and placed a kiss on the back of her head. He was exhausted, and he listened to the sounds of her breathing as she slept before he too fell into a deep sleep.
Teddy awoke sometime later. His eyes stayed closed; he felt too comfortable to want to fully wake up. But he remembered what had just happened, and how brilliant it had been, but when he reached for Lily, he couldn't find her. His eyes fluttered open, and he saw that he was alone on the sofa.
He quickly found Lily; she was sitting on the floor in front of a fire, her knees pulled up to her chest, and her chin resting on them. She was wearing his shirt. Her red hair stood out brightly against the white of it.
He watched her for a few moments, enjoying how peaceful she looked. He sat up and picked his boxers up off the floor. He slipped into them, grabbed the blanket, and made his way over to her. He didn't say anything, but sat behind her, putting a leg on each side of her. He wrapped the blanket around them, pulling her close to his chest, his arms closing around her. She didn't seem surprised, she probably heard him rustling around to the side of her before he came over. She let her head fall back onto his shoulder, and he placed a soft kiss on her temple.
"Hi," he whispered against her hair. He almost didn't want to talk at all, fearful that it would disturb the cozy quiet of the room.
"Hey," she whispered back. She smiled up at him before she turned her head back towards the fire. "You were asleep for a while. I didn't want to wake you."
"Yeah, well, you wore me out, Lils," he laughed softly. "How long have you been up?"
"'Bout an hour or two, I suppose. I stayed next to you on the sofa for a while, but you were pretty out of it."
He mumbled something unintelligible as he pushed her hair aside and placed light kisses on her neck. Lily's legs spread out in front of her as she relaxed more into his embrace. Her hand rested on his leg, her fingers playing with the hem of his boxers.
"You look so good in my shirt, Lils," he said as his hand slipped under it, his fingers tracing the skin of her side. He felt her skin break out into goosebumps.
"I like wearing it, it smells like you," she said, her eyes closing as his hand moved forward onto her belly.
Teddy was tired and awake all at once. His body felt exhausted from their earlier lovemaking, but he didn't really want to sleep. He wanted to be awake with her, enjoy their time together. Her skin was soft beneath his hand. "How are you?" he asked.
"Happy," she replied. He smiled into her neck. He couldn't believe that all of this was happening, that they made love twice and that she was still there in his arms, and that she wanted to be there.
"It's getting late," she said. He looked up at the clock on the mantle, and it was well after midnight.
"Wow, yeah, it is. Didn't realize it."
"Can I stay the night?" she asked almost shyly. "I know we both have to work tomorrow, but I'm not ready to leave you yet."
He held onto her a little tighter. "You can stay. I want you to stay, I can't imagine you leaving."
She turned her head towards him again, and stretched up to kiss him. She let her head rest on his shoulder again, and they sat watching the flames for a while longer. They both needed to get up in the morning, though, so soon Lily was standing and casting a spell to put out the fire. She held out her hand for him, and he climbed to his feet. They walked down the hallway to his room together, where they slept in each other's arms.
It was the best night's sleep Teddy ever had.
By the time next Thursday rolled around, Teddy couldn't keep a smile off his face. The past week had been spent making love with Lily, and getting to know each other more than he thought was possible. He knew her, knew her her entire life, but he was learning things about her that no one else knew. And it was wonderful, and going to work was almost dreadful, as he hated being apart from her for the day.
They hadn't told anyone, both unsure of how their friends and family would react. Lily was slightly more optimistic about the situation, but Teddy wasn't ready to face everyone. He spent almost a year being in love with her and fearing that everyone would hate him for it, and it wasn't a feeling he could shake easily, no matter how many times Lily told him everyone would still love him and support him.
They were also enjoying the secret, enjoying the time alone without anyone knowing about it. Lily said it made it all that much more exciting.
But even the fear of everyone finding out couldn't keep him from walking around work happy. Everyone noticed the change in him, including Millicent, who shot him slightly less than mean looks as he passed her desk on his way to his office. Teddy took it as her way of showing that she was happy for his good mood. He thought it was as much of a smile as he was going to get out of the old witch.
Thursday evening was their planned night with James and Al, and as excited as he was about spending time with two of his best mates, he wasn't sure of how he was going to react around Lily. All of their time together over the past week had involved touching in some way, and he didn't know if he could stop himself, even in front of her brothers. It was going to take all the self-control he could muster.
He Apparated to The Leaky Cauldron at the end of his workday. It had been a long one, and he nearly pulled his hair out with worry over seeing James and Al with Lily in such a close proximity.
When he entered, he found Al sitting at their usual booth by himself drinking a pint. He made his way through a small crowd of people to join him. Al smiled at him and gave him a quick wave.
"Teddy, two weeks in a row? This is the most I've seen of you all year!" he joked.
"Yeah, well, aren't you lucky?"
"Seriously, though, good to see you again."
"Yeah, you too." His eyes scanned the room quickly. "Where's James?"
Al gestured blindly towards a table in a dark corner of the pub. "Chatting up some witch over there. I don't think she's all that interested, but James is a prat and doesn't realize that not every girl falls in love with him at first sight. He'll probably be back soon once he tires of the chase."
Teddy shook his head and laughed, knowing all too well about James's conquests of witches. He sipped at the pint a waitress had placed in front of him.
"So, what have you been up to since I saw you last?" Al asked. Al was looking right at him, Teddy squirmed a bit in his seat.
"Oh, er, work. The usual, I suppose. I've been pretty busy this last week."
Al was watching him with a look Teddy couldn't quite place. Al was always the hardest person to figure out. His eyes were the same as Harry's in looks, but they kept everything hidden. The whole Weasley family joked about how unreadable he was. Teddy looked away from him, focusing on the ale in his glass.
"Lily should be here soon," Al said. Teddy lifted his eyes towards him. Al was still watching him with an unreadable expression. Teddy wanted to run.
"Yeah, that's good. This was her idea after all, yeah? She should be here."
"Mhmm," Al replied, sipping his pint.
Teddy finished his off, and decided to escape the booth and get a fresh one from the bar. He excused himself, and made his way over, grateful for a few seconds alone. Al couldn't possibly know anything, he's just being Al, Teddy thought, calming his racing mind. He leaned on the bar, waiting for Hannah to come over and help him.
He stood there, digging his thumbnail into a groove on the bar's wood, when he heard the bell jingle over the door. He knew it was her without having to look. He did, though, and he saw her as she stood in the doorway, wiping snow off her shoulders. She looked up, and smiled at him. He wanted her to come to him, he wanted to kiss her and pull her close and Apparate her away.
They both stayed calm though. He casually waved at her (or at least he hoped it was casual), and watched as she waved back and made her way over to the booth. His eyes followed her across the room, enjoying the sway of her hips and the way the pub's lights shone on her hair. He noticed that James had joined Al, and he watched as the siblings embraced and greeted each other.
Hannah poured him his pint, and he crossed the room again, joining Al, James, and Lily.
James had sat across from Al when he sat down, meaning he had to sit directly across from Lily. He was happy about it, as she was his favourite thing to look at, but it made the situation that much more uncomfortable. He was worried that he'd get caught staring at her, or that he'd do something stupid like reach across to brush the hair out of her face. He considered sitting on his hands, but he thought either James or Al might notice.
"Hi, Teddy," Lily said as Teddy sat down. He could tell she was trying to keep her voice even, that she was trying not to give anything away.
"Hi, Lils. How are you?"
"Good, thanks. Cold out there today, yeah?"
"Mhmm," he replied. He could see Al staring at them out of the corner of his eye. James seemed oblivious to everything. Teddy thought that nothing about the conversation was believable.
Lily turned to Al to ask him some questions, and James joined in, and soon the whole situation wasn't awkward anymore. It was all normal again, aside from those few moments when Lily's foot brushed against Teddy's leg, causing him to jump. Once, he almost knocked his pint over. Al's eyebrow rose in response, and Teddy just shrugged, looking away as he cast a cleaning charm to get rid of the ale that had sloshed over the glass.
After about two hours of trying to not stare at Lily, or touch Lily, or declare his feelings towards Lily in front of James and Al, Teddy decided he couldn't sit there any longer. He stood, grabbing his cloak that was draped over the back of the booth.
"Sorry everyone, it's late, I'm gonna head home."
He tried not to look at Lily as he shook James and Al's hands. He had to look at her, though, when it was time to say goodbye to her. He knew it was only for a short time, until she followed him to his flat, but he still didn't want to say it.
"Bye, Lils, See you soon?"
"Yeah, sounds good," she replied. "See you," she said with a quick wave.
He waved back, and said goodbye to the group a final time, and left The Leaky. It was cold outside, colder than before, and he held his cloak closed tight as he Apparated home. He shrugged off his boots and cloak, and headed for the kitchen. He paced around for a while. He knew Lily needed to stay for a while, so as not to make things seem out of order, but he wanted to see her again, and hoped she could play things off and still escape quickly.
Just as he thought about getting a cold drink, he heard the pop of her Apparition, and he rushed out to meet her. She already had her cloak off when he saw her, and she immediately moved into his arms.
He couldn't stop kissing every part of her he could reach, and he soon had her pressed up against a wall. He was half hard already as he trailed kisses along her neck.
"Merlin," she sighed. "Never thought we'd get out of there." He could feel her fingers running through his hair.
"Me too," he mumbled. "James can bloody talk, can't he?"
"Mhmm." She felt good pressed so tightly against him. He wasn't sure why, though, but his thoughts drifted away, back to the time they just spent with James and Al.
He pulled his head away from her to look at her. Her cheeks were red, and her brown eyes were on him. "Lils?"
"Yeah?" Her voice was higher than normal. He pressed his hips against her slightly, and heard her take in a breath.
"Er, you don't think Al knows, do you?"
"What? No, he couldn't know." She looked confused. "What makes you think that?"
His eyebrows furrowed in thought. "I don't know; he kept looking at me."
Her eyebrow arched, and a slight smirk was on her lips. "He looked at you?"
"Don't look at me like that," he said. "He looked at me, like, I don't know, like the way Al really looks at people. It was… odd. Freaked me out."
"Clearly," she said dryly. "I don't think Al knows. I certainly haven't told him, and we haven't been out together where he could see us somewhere. You're paranoid, or something."
"I'm not paranoid, Lils," he said, rolling his eyes. He leaned in to kiss her neck again. "I'm cautious."
"You're mental is more like it," she said, gasping as she felt his teeth graze her skin. "Total nutter," she said breathlessly. "Don't worry about it, Al doesn't know."
He kissed her hard on her lips, no longer wanting to talk about her brother, or talk at all, really. He pulled her away from the wall, keeping contact with her mouth. He led her towards his bedroom, leaving a trail of clothing on the floor behind them.
"Teddy, I have to go," Lily said, trying to back her way out of his bedroom. Teddy was kissing her neck, hoping it would convince her to stay.
"You don't really have to," he said. "You could stay with me."
"I promised Rose I'd help her out today," she said, giggling as he found a sensitive spot on her. She ducked away from him as they reached the living room. She grabbed her cloak off the back of the sofa where she had discarded it the night before.
As she was putting it on, Teddy gave her the most pitiful look he could make. She laughed and shook her head. "You know that's obviously not going to work with me."
He made his way closer to her, and she let him wrap his arms around her waist.
"I know," he sighed. "Don't want you to go though," he mumbled as he started kissing her neck again. "You should just stay."
She ran her fingers through his hair, holding his head in place against her. "I promised," she said in almost a sigh. "I haven't… mmmm… haven't seen her in ages."
It was when his hands slipped inside her cloak that she finally pushed him away. "I really have to go. I'll stop by after, yeah?" She leaned up on her tiptoes to kiss him. "I promise I won't be gone long."
"Alright," he said. He really didn't want her to leave, but he was glad she was going off to spend time with Rose. He knew the two of them were close, and that Lily hadn't seen her all that much since they had started dating. "Have fun."
He pulled her in for another kiss, but she pulled away before it went too far again.
She reached for the doorknob, and turned it. "I'll see you—"
As she pulled the door open and started to leave, she almost walked into Al. He was standing there, looking as if he had just approached the doorway. He took in the sight of his sister leaving his mate's flat.
"Al!" Lily said, startled. Her eyes were wide, her mouth slightly open in shock. "Er, what are you doing here?"
Teddy watched as the siblings looked at each other. He couldn't read Al's face at all; it was completely blank. Teddy could tell that Lily's mind was racing, trying to think ahead, read the conversation before it really started.
"Came for a visit, to see Teddy, as it's his flat. I suppose I should ask you the same question."
"She came over for a visit, er, as well. She was just leaving, though."
"Yeah, plans with Rose," Lily said. She couldn't take her eyes off of Al.
Al nodded his head. "Er, the hallway's nice, but do you think I could maybe come in?"
Teddy and Lily stepped aside for Al to pass. He removed his cloak and hung it on a hook as Teddy shut the door behind them. Al walked into the living room. Teddy and Lily followed, unsure of what was going to happen.
"Wasn't expecting to see you here, Lily," Al said, walking casually around the room.
"Oh, well, we're friends. We spend time together sometimes, no big deal," she said.
Al turned around to look at them. Lily clutched her bag in her hand. Teddy stood with his hands in his pockets, trying to look as normal as possible.
"So, how long have you two been dating? I think I've got it pretty narrowed down, but it's hard to figure out without all of the facts."
They both stood with their mouths agape.
Al laughed, "I love you both, but it's so obvious. You aren't hiding anything from me."
"But… how…" Lily stuttered.
"You're my sister, Lily. You're rather easy to read. I think I knew it was going to happen before you both did." He leaned against the back of the sofa, arms crossed over his chest. He looked at Teddy, who had been completely silent. "It's about time, really. Neither of you look as miserable as you did a few months ago."
"Er, what did you just say?" Teddy asked. It's about time?
"Honestly, Teddy. You're one of my best mates. I think I can tell when you have feelings for a girl, especially if it's my sister. You did a crap job hiding it, from me at least."
"Oh," he said, feeling rather stupid and silly. "And, er, you…"
"Am I fine with it?"
"Yeah," he said, practically holding his breath.
"Of course I am. Why wouldn't I be?"
Teddy felt himself let out a sigh of relief. "I, er, I don't know. I just, I was worried about it. It's Lily, I know how you and James are about her."
"Well, yeah, because she usually dates prats."
"Al!" Lily scolded. "I do not!"
"Yeah, you do. The last two blokes you dated were idiots. They were not good enough for you, not the way Teddy is."
Teddy looked at Al, giving him a questioning look.
"I see the way you look at her, you're in love with her, you care about her. She looks really happy." He looked at Lily, "You do, Lily, I haven't seen you look so happy in a long time."
"I am happy," she said quietly.
Al nodded his head. "I think it's great. I just can't believe you tried to hide it from me," he said with a chuckle.
Teddy looked guilty. "It was my idea, really. I just, I wasn't ready to tell people."
Al looked at him. "It's not that big of a deal. I'm not mad. I understand. I'm happy for you both, though."
"How do you think Dad will react?" Lily asked. "I'm just not sure."
Al shrugged. "No idea, really. He's Dad. He'll either be over-protective or really thrilled. Honestly, he'll probably just be really happy for you both. He might ask a lot of questions but… he loves you both, and if you make each other happy, I think that'll be enough for him. Dad's a pretty understanding bloke."
"And Mum? James?"
"Mum's a sucker for a good love story, Lily. She knows how you've felt about Teddy all these years."
At that, Lily blushed. Teddy smiled at her, and gave her a reassuring squeeze on her shoulder.
"Really, though. I wouldn't even worry about Mum, if anything she'll just be surprised. But she'll be happy, I reckon. As for James, well, he's far more protective of you than I am. But he trusts Teddy. He might be concerned in the beginning, possibly thinking that, er, it's not a real relationship, but I'm sure once you convince him he'll be fine with it. Everyone loves you both, they'll support you. They'll all probably just be surprised."
Lily nodded her head, and looked at Teddy. They smiled at each other before Lily walked over to Al and wrapped her arms around him.
"Thanks, Al," Teddy heard her whisper.
Al kissed the top of her head before she pulled away.
"I'm really late now, I should get going," Lily said, looking at Teddy. "I'll be back later."
He nodded his head and walked her to the door, kissing her quickly out of Al's sight. "I'll miss you," he said.
"I'll miss you, too," she said. "Have a good time with Al."
"I'll try," he joked. "We'll be fine. Have fun with Rose."
She leaned up to kiss him again, and left Teddy's flat.
Teddy made his way back down to the living room, where Al was sitting comfortably on the sofa, his feet propped up on the coffee table.
"Want a drink, Al?"
Teddy walked to the kitchen and grabbed a bottle of firewhisky and two glasses. He didn't think it was the time for butterbeer.
He went back into the living room and sat down next to Al, handing him a glass. He poured each of them a healthy serving, and they sipped their drinks in silence for a while.
"So, you and my sister, yeah?" Al said, disturbing the quiet.
Teddy didn't look at him, just watched the liquid swirl around in his glass. "Yeah, me and Lils."
"I really think it's great, you know. I think you're good for each other. I wouldn't trust just anyone with her."
"I know. Thanks, I appreciate it."
"Why so secretive about it all, though? Do you really think people will be upset?"
Teddy really didn't know. Some of his doubts had slipped away over the past month. It was hard not to be confident with Lily by his side. But he still thought the situation was complicated. The nearly ten-year age gap alone was enough to be worried about. The thought of disappointing Harry was something he couldn't even handle.
"I don't know, Al. I've built it all up in my head over the past few months, I don't know what's real anymore. You can't deny that you're all overly protective of her. And, Merlin, I've known her since she was born. People are going to think that's odd."
"I don't think so, not really. Not the people who matter, anyway. Not if you're in love. I really think the only one you have to worry about is James. If he thinks it's just about shagging, he'll go mental."
"It's not about—"
"I know it's not, but James sometimes tends to act first and think later, especially when it comes to Lily. I think it'll all work out, just don't let him get upset before you explain things. He loves you both, and if he sees that you're both happy, he'll accept it no problem."
Teddy took a large gulp of his drink, wincing as it burned his throat.
"What about Victoire? Have you thought about her finding out?"
Teddy nodded his head. "Lily and I talked about it. It's a big concern for Lily. She just doesn't want to see her get hurt. I don't have any plans to tell her right now, but I'm sure we'll talk about it eventually. I think it'll be a non-issue, though. We've been over for a year, and she's the one who finally ended it. It might be odd, but she's dated friends of mine and I haven't complained."
Al shrugged, taking a sip of his firewhisky. "I'm sure it'll work out. She cheated on you, she can't get mad when you move on."
"I was a bit of an arse, though. I probably deserved it."
"I doubt that. There are other ways to deal with a bad relationship, Teddy."
Teddy didn't respond. There really wasn't much to say about it after all this time. All that mattered was his relationship with Lily. And as worried as he was about what other people thought, he had a strong feeling that it would all work out it the end.
Al finished the rest of his drink, and stood up from the sofa. "I need to get going."
"You weren't here very long," Teddy said, surprised that he was leaving so quickly. "You told Lily you came for a visit."
"A lie, obviously. I had a feeling Lily would be here; I figured I'd finally get the truth out of you two. And I did."
Teddy rolled his eyes at him, cuffing him on the shoulder. "You're such a prat, Al."
"Yes, I am. But I was right about you two, and that's what matters."
Teddy walked Al to the door, holding it open for him.
"I'm really happy for you both, and I'm here if you need anything."
"I know, mate. Thanks."
"Later," Al said, walking out of the door and down the hallway, before he Apparated away.
Rather than sitting back down on the sofa, Teddy shuffled down the hall to his bedroom, where he flopped down on the bed face first. He felt relieved that Al was so supportive of his relationship with Lily, but the whole visit brought up a new series of questions for him, ones he didn't know the answer to. He really wanted Lily to come back, to lay in bed with her, and block out the rest of the world. He drifted off into an unsatisfying nap while he waited for her to return.
About two weeks passed before Teddy and Lily had a real conversation about telling her family they were dating. They had joked about the situation when Lily returned home the day of Al's visit, but mostly about how they couldn't believe Al knew, and that it was funny how Teddy's not-so-serious suspicions about Al knowing were correct.
Teddy awoke on a Sunday morning, feeling relaxed and content. He knew that when he rolled over, Lily would be sleeping next to him, and her hair would be rumpled and she would look beautiful. When he rolled over though, she was wide-awake, her head propped up in her hand, watching him.
He couldn't stop the grin spreading across his face as he tried to open his sleepy eyes and stretch out his limbs. "Hey Lils."
"Morning," she said quietly, not taking her eyes off of him.
Teddy looked at the clock next to the bed. It was just past seven.
"You're up early," he said, reaching over to run his fingers through her hair. "Alright?"
"Mhmm. Couldn't sleep, really. I kept waking up, so I just stayed up."
He rolled closer towards her, tangling his legs with hers, trying to get as close as possible. "And you decided to watch me sleep, yeah?" he joked.
"Well, it's one of the perks of being up so early. You're cute when you sleep."
He scrunched his nose up at her. "Cute?"
"Yeah. You like, mumble in your sleep. And you make adorable faces sometimes. You're rather entertaining," she said with a smirk.
"Glad I amuse you," he said, leaning in to kiss her. His hand slipped under the shirt she was wearing, one of his shirts, where he traced the delicate skin on her hip. He felt her skin break out into goosebumps. He got closer, rolling her onto her back and following her, lying between the cradle of her thighs. He went right for her neck, one of his favourite places on her body.
"Hmmm?" he said, placing kisses everywhere he could reach.
"I think we should tell my family."
He stopped kissing her, and pushed himself up on his arms to look at her. He wasn't expecting her to say that, not when other activities seemed so promising.
"It's just, it's been a while, yeah? And they're my family. I think they should know. I want them to know."
Teddy moved off of her, back to his own side of the bed. He lay down on his back, staring up at the ceiling.
"What do you think?"
He didn't speak right away, because he didn't know what he thought.
"I don't know, Lils. I… I just don't know."
"What don't you know?"
He turned his head to look at her. She looked confused, or concerned. He wasn't quite sure which.
"It's still early, I think. I don't see why they have to know yet, why it still can't be just us."
"Because I don't think it's something we need to keep a secret. I've been thinking about it a lot lately. There's no reason why they wouldn't support us."
"You don't know that, Lily."
"You don't know that they won't, either," she argued. Teddy didn't like the way the conversation was going. He understood both sides of the argument, but he didn't want anything said that they couldn't take back.
"I'm not ready," he said, and when she didn't respond, he rolled out of bed and walked out of the room.
He went to the kitchen and made a cup of tea. He was one of the few who didn't drink tea often, but he did it just for something to do. He made it almost absently, his thoughts back in his bedroom with Lily. He didn't plan on starting his day fighting with her; it was the last thing he wanted.
He took a sip of the hot liquid as he stood staring out of the kitchen window. He knew he shouldn't have walked away from her, that they should have discussed it through, but he felt frustrated, and he didn't want to say anything he'd regret. He understood Lily's desire to tell her family— he really had the same desire himself —but he couldn't be as optimistic as she was. The thought of losing Harry, and Ginny and James, was too much for him to take.
He felt her enter the room before he heard her. He knew she was there, and when he turned around, she was leaning against the doorway, her arms crossed over her chest. The shirt she had borrowed from him showed off the creamy skin of her thighs.
"Do you really think he'd hate you?"
He looked into her brown eyes as she asked the question. It wasn't said with anger or disappointment, just curiosity and concern.
He shook his head slowly, thinking how he should phrase his answer.
"I don't think he'd hate me, no. I don't think he's capable of hate. But I worry that he'll be disappointed in me, or that he'll be upset or hurt, or that he'll think this is some sort of betrayal. Maybe I'm just being ridiculous; I reckon I probably am. But I can't shake it, Lils. He's the only father I've ever known. And the thought of him thinking any less of me kills me."
"This isn't wrong, Teddy."
"I don't think this is wrong, and I didn't say that."
She let out a deep sigh and ran her fingers through her hair, ruffling it even more. "He loves you, and he loves me, and if he sees that we're happy, I don't think we'll have a problem. But he's my father. And I'm in love, and that's something I want to tell him; that I have to tell him." She crossed the room and wrapped her arms around his waist, holding him tight, her face pressed against his chest.
"I love you," he whispered into the top of her head.
She looked up at him, and leaned up to kiss him. "I love you too," she said against his lips.
He tucked her loose hair behind her ears, and rested his hands against her cheeks. "We'll tell them, then. Whenever you want."
"Really?" she asked, looking back up at him.
"Mhmm," he said, nodding his head. "He's your father, and if you want to tell him, we should. I'm not ready, but I can't keep telling you 'no.'"
"I think you're worried over nothing. I think he'll be far more accepting than you give him credit for."
"I've spent my whole life worrying. It's just the way I am, I can't help it."
"I know," she said with a smile. How did Uncle Bill react when he found out about you and Victoire?"
"He was fine with it, because it wasn't much of a shock. The whole Weasley family saw that coming. This is entirely different."
"Maybe he already knows; Al figured it out."
"He would have said something already, most likely. He's good at knowing something's going on with us, not necessarily what it is."
"Yeah," she said, her voice trailing off as she laid her head back on his chest.
"So, when do you want to tell them?"
"Are you sure you're ready?"
"No, not at all. But if you pick a time and a place, I'll be there."
"What about at dinner next Sunday? You haven't been to dinner at their house in a while, so they'll be extra happy you're there."
He laughed at that. "That's good, they'll be all warmed up before we drop the news on them."
"We don't need to warm them up, but seeing them in a good mood might calm your nerves."
"I don't think that'll be possible."
She pulled away from him, and reached for his hand. "Stop worrying about it. Whatever happens happens." She started leading him out of the kitchen. "C'mon, it's far too early to be out of bed, especially on a Sunday."
As he followed her back to the bedroom, he couldn't think of a better way to spend a weekend day than in bed with her. And for a bit of time, his worries over telling her family drifted away.
By the time the next Sunday rolled around, Teddy was a wreck. He hardly ate or slept during the week, his thoughts constantly on dinner with Lily's family. He sat by his fireplace, staring at the clock sitting on the mantle. He was going to be late if he didn't leave soon, but his legs felt heavy, and his heart was racing with nerves.
He knew Lily would already be there, and that Al and James would be too. The whole family would be waiting for him. He knew Harry and Ginny were excited he would be attending. Al told him that Ginny had immediately started planning the meal when he flooed her earlier in the week. "She's making all of your favourites," Al had said with a laugh.
Teddy wiped his sweaty palms on his trousers, and gathered his courage as he made his way towards the door.
It'll all be okay. They love me. It'll be fine.
He Apparated to the Potters', hoping for the best.
He had barely knocked on the door before Ginny had flung it open and pulled him into a tight hug.
"Teddy!" she said, leaning up to straighten his hair. He laughed, and then ruffled it back up after she was done. She looked him over, clearly taking note of whether he was eating enough.
"Hi Ginny," he said. It felt good to be in their house again. It had been far too long.
"C'mon in, everyone's waiting for you. It's so good that you're here," she said excitedly, leading him into the living room.
"Er, yeah. It's great to be here," he said, feeling nervous again. When he entered the living room, he found James and Al sitting there. They were talking about something, laughing with each other. It reminded him of when they were younger, and he'd be at the Potters' for dinner all the time. Teddy always felt like an older brother to them; sometimes now he felt like they were strangers. He hoped that feeling wouldn't last for much longer.
"Hey Ted," both Al and James said, welcoming him. Teddy and James gave each other a quick hug, and he saw Al give him a reassuring nod of his head. He knew Al thought that everything would go well, and Teddy hoped that Al was right.
He stood, looking around the room he once knew so well. Pictures of all the kids filled the living room, including old pictures of Teddy himself. Harry and Ginny always made Teddy feel like he was part of the family, and he always felt like their home was his too.
Teddy noticed a photograph hanging on the wall, one of Lily after she left Hogwarts. It was a bright, sunny day, and she was smiling, and he remembered it vividly, as it was one of the first times he really noticed her. He had been staring at the photo for a few moments; when he heard Lily quietly clear her throat in the doorway of the kitchen.
He turned towards her, and took in the sight of her. Her hair was pulled back, and she was wearing dark jeans and a sweater that hugged her curves. He found it impossible not to stare at her.
"Hey," she said.
She smiled at him, and walked over to him to give him a hug. He could tell she was just keeping things normal for James and Ginny, that it would have been odd if she hadn't hugged him. He could feel her hands low on his back, holding him tight. He could smell her sweet shampoo as she pulled away from him. He didn't want to let go.
Ginny excused herself to finish making dinner, and Teddy and Lily joined Al and James's conversation. The four of them were having fun, laughing and reminiscing, when Harry came out of his study. Teddy could feel his body tense as his nerves came right back to him.
"Hiya Teddy!" Harry said, his face lighting up. "Great to see you!"
"You too," Teddy said, standing up. Teddy walked over to give him a hug. Harry pulled him in and held him tight.
"It's been a long time since you've come for Sunday dinner."
"Too long, yeah?"
"Absolutely," Harry replied. He couldn't stop smiling at Teddy. Teddy couldn't help but feel guilty at what the dinner was all about.
"Dinner's ready, everyone," Ginny said, peeking her head into the living room.
They all walked to the kitchen, taking their seats at the table. Teddy took the seat he'd sat in since he was a child, right next to Lily. She was close enough to touch. Harry sat at the head of the table to his left. Teddy didn't have much of an appetite, but the food smelled wonderful, and he didn't want to draw any attention to himself.
The family sat there, eating and talking about their days. Everyone seemed happy; clearly oblivious to the news Teddy and Lily were about to share. Al kept looking at him, as if to nudge him on. Teddy kept looking away. His nerves were getting the best of him. He knew it would be better to just say it, and get it over with. But he kept going through different ways to say it in his head, and none of them seemed right.
Just as he thought he was going to explode from the pressure of it all, he heard the five words that he knew would change everything.
"Teddy and I are dating."
Lily blurted it out with more confidence than he'd ever seen her show. When he looked at her, she was sitting tall, staring right at her father, and almost daring him to argue. Harry looked like a Quaffle had hit him in the stomach; James sat with his mouth slightly open, looking back and forth between Teddy and Lily, and Ginny was looking at her daughter, waiting for her to speak. Al was looking down at his plate, but Teddy could see a smile on his face.
"It would be great if someone would say something," Lily said, her confidence slightly faltering.
"I, er, when? Since when?" Harry asked, clearing his throat.
"Almost two months," Teddy answered. Harry nodded, but didn't say anything else.
"Yeah, um, it just sort of happened, really," Lily said, looking at her father, and then at her mother.
Teddy's heart was beating out of his chest. He couldn't read the expression on Harry's face, and he had no idea what he was thinking. Ginny though, Ginny looked happy.
"Is this real?" Ginny asked, staring at her daughter. "You're really together?"
Lily nodded, a smile stretching across her face. She clasped her hand with Teddy's under the table. He gave it a light squeeze.
"I can't really believe it myself, actually. But here we are. We just, we wanted you to know. We wanted you to hear it from us."
"Well, I think it's really wonderful, Lils," Ginny said.
"Thanks," she whispered.
Harry hadn't spoken in a few minutes, and the whole room noticed. James was quiet too, something Teddy wasn't used to. James looked more confused than anything.
"Dad?" Lily asked from beside him. He knew that more than anyone, Harry's opinion was the one Lily was looking for, and that it would break her heart if he didn't support their relationship. Teddy felt exactly the same way, and he couldn't see how things would work out if Harry were against it. It would be a constant pressure on them, and as strong as he thought their relationship was, he didn't know if they could handle it.
Harry looked up, his eyes drifting between the both of them. "Hmmm?"
"What do you think?" Lily asked him, her hand gripping Teddy's just a little bit tighter.
Harry put his fork down, and looked right at his daughter. "Are you happy? The both of you?"
They both replied, "yes," without any hesitation.
After seconds that felt like an eternity to Teddy, Harry said, "Okay, then. I think it's great."
"Really?" Lily asked, as if she didn't quite believe him.
Harry nodded his head. "Really, I'm happy for the both of you."
Teddy felt Lily's hand slip out of his as she got out of her chair and moved towards her father. She wrapped her arms tight around his neck, and Harry's eyes closed as he held her to him. When they broke apart, she sat back down next to Teddy, giving him one of the most brilliant smiles he had ever seen on her. He smiled back at her, but he didn't quite mean it.
Everyone went back to eating. Teddy tried, but he could see Harry out of the corner of his eye. Harry was staring down at his plate, pushing his food around with his fork. Ginny, James, and Al were talking to Lily, trying to get details on how Teddy and Lily came to be, so he didn't think anyone else was aware of Harry's reaction.
As everyone was finishing up, Harry excused himself. He kissed Ginny on top of her head as he walked by her, leaving the kitchen and heading to his study. All of their eyes followed him out of the room, until they heard the sound of a door closing. No one said anything; James and Al looked at each other worriedly. Teddy knew there was a good chance either Ginny or Lily would try to go after him and talk to him, but he knew it was something he had to do.
Before they could do anything, Teddy stood up, dropping his napkin onto his plate. Without looking back, Teddy went after Harry. He knocked on the closed door, and entered without waiting for a response.
Harry's study was a room Teddy had been in hundreds of times. He remembered being young, and his Gran would drop him off, and he'd run in there right away to find Harry. Harry would be so excited to see him, and would give him a big hug and ruffle the top of his hair. Then Harry would show him something cool with his wand, that Teddy is sure is the reason why he became an Auror; because he wanted to be just like Harry.
It felt different being in there now, though. It looked the same, there were still pictures of all the Potter kids along the walls, including a few pictures of Teddy, and a large bookshelf lined with Dark Arts books, books Harry would never let Teddy near as a boy. It even smelled the same, and there was still an old lumpy sofa on the side wall where Harry had been known to take naps after a difficult day of work.
When Teddy walked in the room this time, he didn't run up to Harry, and Harry didn't give him a big hug and mess up his hair. Harry stood by the large window that overlooked the backyard, holding a picture frame in his hands, and he didn't look up from it until Teddy came up to his desk.
He showed Teddy the picture he was holding; it was one of Lily. She looked to be around nine years old. "She's beautiful, yeah?" Harry asked, not really looking for an answer. All Teddy could do was nod his head. "I forget how old she is sometimes. She'll walk into a room, and I still expect her to be in pigtails and to ask me to tell her a story."
Harry put the picture back in its place on his desk, and looked up at Teddy. Teddy had no idea what he was thinking. Standing in front of him was one of the hardest things he ever had to do.
"I'm sorry I left the room, I just needed a minute."
"It's alright. I hope it's okay I followed you in here. I thought you might want to talk."
"I think I'm just in shock. I certainly didn't expect to hear this tonight, or any night really."
Teddy gave a small laugh, and ruffled up the back of his hair in a nervous gesture. "Yeah, well, I never thought I'd give you that news." He paused, but Harry didn't say anything. "I just, I need to know what you're thinking. You must be really angry with me, and I don't blame you, but—"
"I'm not angry, Teddy. You're my godson."
"Yeah, your godson who's dating your daughter."
Harry smiled at him, which confused Teddy more than he thought possible.
"She's been really happy lately, happier than she's ever been, I think. I asked her about it one day, but she didn't really give me an answer. I reckon it has something to do with you. If she's happy, that's all that really matters."
"Really. It might take a bit of time to get used to, but I know how kind of a person you are. And I know that you've always cared about her. All that's important is that you're both happy, and that you love her."
"I do. She's… she's brilliant," Teddy said, smiling as he thought about Lily.
"Yeah, she is rather brilliant."
Harry and Teddy smiled at each other, and Teddy felt much of the stress he had been carrying with him over the past few months drift away. Harry didn't hate him, and was actually supportive of their relationship. "So, we're really okay, you and me?"
"Of course. We'll always be okay."
Harry walked up to him and placed his hands on Teddy's shoulders, squeezing lightly. Then he pulled him into a hug. It was quick, but it let Teddy know, even beyond Harry's words, that he had nothing to worry about.
"C'mon," Harry said, "let's get back out there."
Teddy led the way out into the living room. Al, James, and Ginny were all sitting, but Lily was standing by the fireplace. She looked nervous, and he assumed she had been pacing for a while like he knew she had the habit of doing.
She perked up when she saw them, and he gave her a big smile and nodded his head to let her know that everything was going to be okay. She smiled back at him, and immediately looked at her father. When she saw that everything was fine, she walked over to Harry and wrapped her arms around him. They didn't need to say anything just then. Teddy knew they'd eventually have a long talk about things like the two of them always did.
Normally they'd all sit around and talk for a while, but he was feeling drained, and he wanted nothing more than to get home and be alone with Lily. She must have felt the same way because she started saying her goodbyes. Teddy did too, although he felt a bit awkward during it all. He knew that it would pass over time, that they'd all get used to everything.
He helped Lily on with her cloak, and he could feel everyone watching them. Lily thanked him quietly, and they said a final goodbye to the family. When they were a short distance away from the house, Teddy pulled Lily in close, and Apparated them back to his flat.
It was a few hours later, and Teddy lay in bed, staring at the ceiling. His mind was running through all the events of the evening. It felt nice to just breathe, and to know that everything was going to be okay. He was in love, and Lily was in love with him, and the four people he cared most about in the world supported their relationship.
He was still thinking about everything that had happened, when he heard the door to the loo open. His eyes left the ceiling, and when he looked at the door, he saw Lily standing there. Her hair fell in loose waves around her face. Her nightclothes were nothing special, just simple shorts and a short-sleeved shirt, but Teddy couldn't remember a time when she looked more beautiful. He was certain that she looked better every time he saw her.
She walked towards him, and climbed onto the bed and under the covers. She snuggled in, and he pulled her in as close as he could. When her arm wrapped around his waist, he didn't think he could be more content than he was right then.
"So, tonight went pretty well," Lily said.
Teddy couldn't help but laugh at that. "Yes, actually, I'd say it went very well."
"What happened between you and my dad? Is everything really okay?"
"Yeah," Teddy replied, "everything will be fine. He just, needed to get away for a minute. He honestly wasn't upset at all."
"Why would he have needed to get away?"
"I just don't think he's fully accepted the fact that you've grown up. You'll always be his little girl, Lils. I doubt he'll ever truly accept it. But everything's fine."
"Okay," Lily said. It was slightly muffled into his chest.
"So, what did you lot talk about while we were gone?"
"Oh, nothing really. James is a bit upset, though."
At that, Teddy sat up as much as he could with Lily wrapped around him. He had been concerned about James's reaction, but got so caught up in how Harry would react that he pushed James's feelings aside.
"What do you mean? How upset?"
Lily laughed. "Er, no, not like you're thinking. He's upset that Al knew before him. I think he's a bit peeved he didn't figure it out himself. He may have called you a git for not telling him. James is so dramatic, it got a bit silly."
Teddy plopped his head back down onto his pillow. "What a twit," he muttered jokingly.
He heard Lily laugh, and felt her move in closer. She rested her hand on his chest, rubbing in soft circles.
He placed a kiss on top of her head. His thoughts drifted again, thinking about the past two months of his life, and how perfect it felt to have her in his arms. He never thought he'd be this happy, and he didn't think it was possible to have everything he could ever want. He realized that it could be possible though, Lily lying in his arms being the only confirmation he needed.
Lily fell asleep, her breathing deep. Teddy could feel soft puffs of air against his bare skin. He held her tight, wishing that they could always stay like this.
It was a short time later when Teddy himself grew tired, the warmth of his bed and Lily providing him with comfort.
Rain outside tapped against his window as he drifted off to sleep.