Disclaimer: Vintage doesn't own Harry Potter, which is all the property of JK Rowling.
.:. Dedicated to Ellie, who may possibly be the reason why I even liked LilyTeddy, and Fiona, who insisted I let her read it too ... .:.
She doesn't need to call, and he comes running. He gathers her close, and she presses her face into his shirt. It's so soft and smells like Teddy—her Teddy—and the grass at Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione's. He doesn't mind when her tears stain the fabric, but lets her cry.
When she's finished, he asks hesitantly, "Lily, what happened?" She knows he's willing to chase dragons, and ride thestrals for her, and this makes her cry harder.
Her problem is him, but she won't tell him and she won't let go. She's selfish like that.
"Lily..." he growls slightly, and she glances up only to watch his hair change colours. It's changed from navy to a red-orange only a shade brighter than her own red curls, which means he's growing annoyed.
"I broke up with Finnegan," she whispers, and Teddy relaxes. He won't admit that this makes him happy, especially since he can't have her. (But she's already his, and she'd tell him if he asked.)
He owes it to her, so he asks, "Why?"
"Because I don't love him." The answer is blunt, and so serious that it almost scares Teddy into dropping the sixteen year old.
"I love you."
This time, however, his arms do lock up, and his grip on her slackens. "Lily, you're sixteen ... And I'm twenty-seven. And we're practically family. It won't work."
"You keep saying that!" she yells, and Teddy flinches, hoping Harry doesn't consider checking on them. But Harry won't. He trusts his godson with his daughter; he always has. Everyone has.
It's always been Teddy and Lily. Lily and Teddy. Since she was born, and Teddy was eleven, he knew she'd be more than Harry's daughter. Even as she cooed up at him, blinking through her brown eyes, her red curls sticking away from her head in odd directions.
He's watched her grow up (and fallen more in love with her every step of the way). He's watched her scrape knees, learn to fly, get sorted into Slytherin, date boys ... He's stood on the sidelines and watched her live her life. (Because it's what he owes her. He doesn't owe her his love—she doesn't deserve to have to deal with every bit of broken Teddy Lupin, the halfbreed.)
As long as she can remember, Teddy's stood there. Right behind her elbow, to steady her, seal wounds, practice Quidditch with; his hair and eyes changing colours. She wants more. So much more.
"I keep saying it because it's true ..." Teddy argues softly, glaring down at the lilac papered walls at not at her. (He remembers when they did it, when she was tired of the red that was once the wall of James' bedroom. Of course, she'd had him eating from the palm of her hands ... so he did most of the work.) But her eyes are hard, and her lips a stubborn line. He knows she won't let it go.
"Ted, you're not a liar," she says flatly, "Say that again, and look at me."
"I ... I-I ... can't, Lily."
They both know he's not talking about telling the truth, because this is the truth. His hair is now a muted gold, and Lily refrains from reaching out to thread her fingers through the silky locks.
"Yes, Teddy. We can."
"Your father'd kill me," he argues, his face screwed up. When she looks at him like that, it's hard to say no. (He has to remember who he is, however. He wouldn't let himself live it down if he took everything away from Lily.)
"I don't care!" Lily roars, fighting out of his slack grace and almost stumbling onto the floor. She stands, and her eyes flash dangerously. This is the Lily Luna Potter he knows. She is fierce, and passionate, and determined and ohsobeautiful. "I'm sick and tired of being in his shadow! I can never be me. Not while he's alive. And I'm sick of it."
"Going out with a werewolf behind his back is not how you'd like to emerge as you, kiddo," he says sardonically. "Trust me."
"I don't want to go out with you, Teddy. I want to be your wife."
Teddy sputters, unable to speak. He's torn; half of him, the selfish half, wants Lily. So much more than she can comprehend. He thinks his love for her might consume him, burn him out and overshadow him—it always has. But the reasonable half of him argues that despite wanting Lily, this is not how he wants her.
He wants her honestly. Not because she's trying to build an image. Not because she's trying to rebel.
"It doesn't matter what you want," he settles for, and he waits for the fire in her eyes to dim. It doesn't. She does, however, fall silent—contemplating. "It doesn't matter," he echoes to fill the silence.
"It does," she says after a few minutes, running a hand through her red curls. "It matters. It's all that matters. Because, Teddy ... I want you."
"NO, LILY. YOU DON'T. YOU DON'T WANT ME. YOU WANT AN IMAGE. A CHALLENGE, PERHAPS. MAYBE ONE YOU COULDN'T GET WITH THAT FINNEGAN. GOD, I HATED THAT FINNEGAN! HE HAD EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING I WANTED. AND HE LET YOU WALK AWAY! STUPID IRISH PRAT. BUT YOU DON'T WANT ME, LILY, I ASSURE YOU," he snaps, yelling.
She flinches, taken aback. "I do," she says, somewhat feebly. "I want you."
"You don't," Teddy spits, and he thinks this is not how it is supposed to go. "You don't want me." With that, he grabs his jacket from the back of her desk chair and stomps out of her room, leaving behind the purple paint of his past, and the red curls of his future.
Harry meets him in the garden, sitting with Albus and a bottle of broom polish as they work on their matching Firebolt XDs, and looks up curiously. "Ted?"
Teddy doesn't say anything, but digs his wand from his jacket pocket and disapperates, leaving his prints in the snow. Idly, he thinks that this may be the first time he's walked away when Lily needed him there.
He doesn't know where to go. He visits Hagrid for a bit, but his smile gets heavy and he doesn't feel for buckets of tea and rocks of pastries. He visits Percy in the countryside, but all Percy wants to do is gush about the Ministry and his girls—who look so much like Lily it hurts.
After a while, he finds himself at the old Tonks' house, knocking tentatively on the front door. His grandmother answers, wearing a dressing gown. He realises with a start that it's late, and the Sun has long gone down. (He's so numb this doesn't mean anything, however.)
Andromeda Tonk's face shows her scars; the loss of her husband, and her daughter ... And Teddy thinks she lets him in because he reminds her of his mother, and he thinks she's scared he'll leave and not come back too.
"Teddy ... Teddy ... Teddy ..." she murmurs softly, over and over, as if she's not quite sure he's sitting here, in the same chair Remus used to sit in—maybe she sees the Lupin in him now too, and he's positive that means something important to her too.
"Nana," he whispers, and he feels like a child again. Only for a minute; but during this minute he can pretend this is before Lily, and her curls, and her brown eyes, and her flushed cheeks, and everything she means to him. He can pretend he's a child, when all that mattered was rolling around in the puddles that used to settle in the garden, that the gnomes used to splash in before he could scare them away.
He wonders how long after this he started loving Lily, and thinks that perhaps it's been her entire life, but he'd been too young (too innocent, like she once was) to notice. From the first smiles, the first tears, the first time she'd said his name—he'd been all hers.
Andromeda understands his pain, without really knowing it, and they sit together, with their arms around each other rather awkwardly—unsure of who is comforting who—and cry.
It is long after morning when Teddy becomes aware of much anything. His legs are numb from where they'd been tucked awkwardly beneath his chair, and his arms are sore. Andromeda isn't sleeping, but her eyes are closed, and her breathing even.
"Nana, I think I need to see Lily," he rasps, his voice sore and a lump settled in his throat which won't move. It is in this state that he apparates into the Potter's front yard. He deflects the Beater—the only form of ward on the place—with a simple spell and then marches through the snow towards the front door.
When he knocks, James opens the door, wearing a Weasley sweater from last Christmas, judging by how it stretches across his shoulder—James was significantly slimmer last Christmas. "Hey, mate," he yawns, scratching his neck. "Looking for Lils?"
"Yeah," Teddy murmurs, licking his lips. They're cracked and his eyes feel puffy. He imagines he must look like a wreck, but he doesn't care. Lily needs him.
"She's upstairs. She hasn't left her room all day. She's been in a right state. Hexed Al when he attempted to get his owl back from her room ..." James says, jabbing a thumb over his shoulder at the stairs. Teddy nods and goes off towards the stairs—willing his hair to change to his favourite, and Lily's, an acid green that's always cheered her up. He thinks maybe he needs all the help he can get.
When he pushes open the door, Lily doesn't sit up. She's lying across her bed, her head dangling over the edge of the bed—her swirl of red curls brushing the carpet.
"Lily," he breathes, like a thirsty man seeing water. (A perfect analogy, he thinks and almost chokes on the irony. She's more like fire anyways. He's bound to get burnt.) "Lily ... Lily." He wants to gather her into his arms, and press her against his side—where she's fit perfectly since she was only four and started the nightmares. But chances are she'd push him away and his heart can't take this.
He feels the flames licking up around him, and somewhere between his fear of rejection and his desire, he can't get close enough to smell her—but her vanilla and laughter fragrance is overpowering him—he thinks he might choke.
She doesn't even open her eyes—if she did, brown would meet the violet of his eyes and he'd feel a little more complete—but winces.
"Is there something you forgot to say? Something else you forgot to shove down my throat, Teddy?" Her voice is hard, and ohso not like Lily Luna at all.
He clears his throat and it is almost painful. "I have a lot of things I need to say," he croaks.
"Maybe I don't want to hear it."
Her eyes open now, and she blinks warily up at him—but he sees the hurt, and the sadness, and it tears him inside. He would take the Cruciatus rather than to know that he is responsible for her pain.
"Lil, please," he begs. "I didn't mean any of it."
"You meant all of it," she argues, her voice rising. "Either that or you're a better liar that I thought you were, Teddy Lupin."
He has a flash of a fourteen-year-old Lily, spinning around the Weasley's living room—her hair down in curls brushing her waist. This was the year she'd been attached to the long curls, and the pink glitter powder she'd dust across her nose to clash with the freckles. He'd thought she was beautiful.
He remembers watching her dance to old hits on Arthur's old Muggle radio, the volume on so loud Albus had glared at her from where he'd been writing a letter to his girlfriend, Beth-Ann or whatever she'd been called that Christmas. (It didn't matter who she was, she'd never be Lily so Teddy'd never care.)
He'd still been with Victoire that year, and it would be four sweet months before he would mess it up:
"Teddy," Victoire whispered against his cheek, her palm cupped against the curve of his shoulder. Her hair brushed his bare chest as she moved, and her eyes fluttered closed.
"Lily," he'd moan back, eyes closed against the truth.
So wrong, so very wrong. (She'd only been fourteen, and he was twenty five.) Victoire would forgive him, but they both accepted that as the end of their relationship. It wouldn't have worked out anyways. Lily would have consumed him.
"I'm not a liar, Lily," he whispers, blinking furiously because Teddy Lupin doesn't cry. Unless it is for Lily Potter.
She doesn't respond, but closes her eyes again.
She doesn't think she can let him see how he's hurt her. And the worst part is that no matter what Teddy says or does, she can think of nothing but Teddy. Every molecule of her body is TeddyTeddyTeddy and sometimes she thinks she can't breathe. But she has to breathe, so she can stay with Teddy.
She can't do it. He needs to (love her) leave.
"Lily, look at me." His voice sounds stronger, a lot less cracked. "I love you. I've loved you your entire life."
She opens her eyes, and meets his gaze steadily. What she sees there makes her doubt herself, and everything falls away.
For a moment, she isn't Lily Potter. She is just Lily. Joined to Teddy. Tied with ropes that have been there her entire life.
She doesn't need any more proof. She can't move towards him. She thinks that if she wasn't standing, she'd have collapsed.
"I was right."
"You always are," he whispers, and then moans. His arms are around her then, and she is all but crushed against him. She doesn't speak, just brushes her lips against his ear.
He whispers back, "My rare, beautiful, passionate, wonderful Lily."
"My incredible, rational, honest Teddy."
And it's a swirl of legs and hair and colours, and finally ... She is his. And he is hers.
This ended horribly. It went a bit flat there. I loved how it started for a bit, and then ... blech. But it's out there now. And the next thing I post will probably be freeverse. ;)