Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter.

-;-

dragon slayers have hearts too

"Don't you know that I want to be more than just your friend,
holding hands is fine but I've got better things on my mind;
you know it could happen,
if you'd only see me in a different light;
baby, when we finally get together,
you will see that i was right…"
(MYMP)

i. don't you try and tell me that you never loved me; i know that you did cause you said it and you wrote it down.

Lily's known Teddy Lupin for all of her entire life and loved him for probably longer.

One day, they're sitting in her room, playing dragons again 'cause it's her favorite game and none of the other girls ever want to play it with her. Teddy's roaring like hell, flying around with his arms cast out like an airplane, zooming through the room as she laughs loudly, brandishing her wand, waving it around with no effect but he pretends like she's cast the biggest spell on him anyway. He sits with her in her little invisible castle, pretending for the whole day and she realizes that someday, she really wants to marry this man, even if she's only ten years old and he's twenty-one and it'll never work.

So she tells him. "Teddy, I'm going to marry you," she declares in that almighty voice of hers, flipping around her long red hair like they're helicopter propellers. "Promise me that you're going to give me a huge, pretty wedding with lilies and dragons and lots and lots of chocolate cake!" she demands him, and he grins and hugs her to his chest because there's really nothing else he can do.

"Sure, Lilypad," he murmurs back, kissing her forehead and letting her play with his morphing hair, because right now they're just best friends, nothing else, and there's nothing wrong with making promises you're bound to break if they'll just be forgotten, right?

She grins with teeth missing and he laughs out loud, feigning shock when she shoves him over playfully. "Love you, Teddy," she sings noisily, stretching out the "ee" at the end of his name.

"Love you, too, Lily," he says back, imitating her, and she keeps the words in her heart for the rest of her life.

ii. this ain't lust, i know this is love, but if i tell the world, i'll never say enough cause it was not said to you and that's exactly what i need to do.

At sixteen years old, Lily stops thinking of dragons and princes. She forgets the dreams of a boy who'll sweep her off her feet, waiting at the bottom of the tower to take her away into the sunset. At sixteen, Lily grows up and grows down all at the same time because she realizes she's been in love with Teddy Lupin and no one else since she was about five years old and too young to know what love even was.

So she decides that if she's going to be in love, he's going to be in love right there with her.

And then she decides that he has the right to know. So she tells him, because Lily's always been an act first, regret later kind of girl. Kind of like a bonus to her fiery temper.

In an empty hallway in the midst of a party at the Potter house during the Christmas holidays, Lily tells him bluntly with sharp words and a straight face on his way to the bathroom. "Hey, Teddy?" she calls, catching up with him at the end of the hallway. "I'm kind of in love with you."

Teddy's face is priceless. His response is probably worth all the galleons in the world. "B—B—Wha—Holy—Lil—I—Merlin, Lily, what the hell?"

With this, she decides that maybe that wasn't the best reaction a girl could hope for. "I'm in love with you," she informs, "and I'm pretty sure I have been for years now, Teddy." He stands in front of her, mouth hanging open, frozen, and Lily thinks that there's a right time for everything. So she grabs his face gently, standing up on her tiptoes, and kisses him full on the mouth, soft at first, then pressing harder with more need, more desperation as he snakes his hands around her waist and hugs her tighter, smiling.

They kiss like that for eternities; Teddy pinning Lily against the wall of the hallway, ensnarling his fingers into her thick red hair, pressing their bodies together until they were one form, one figure. And then the moment is ruined, broken into pieces as Albus walks into the hallway.

"Holy crap!" he exclaims, standing there and scratching his head. "Jeez. This is awfully weird," he tells them awkwardly as Teddy, panting and gasping, pulls away from Lily, who's red-faced. "You guys are lucky that I wasn't James or my dad," he says with a warning tone, and walks away because Al's always been a passive, accepting kind of person. Plus he really needed to pee. He leaves Teddy with words in his head and thoughts in his mind and so, so much guilt as he realizes just how right the twenty-year-old is.

The knowledge sinks in that Harry would never approve. "Lily, I can't do this," he whispers hoarsely when she inches closer to him, trying to kiss him again. "Your… Dad…"

She looks at him with wide green eyes, a feeling in her stomach she's never had before. Suddenly, her heart is sinking like the Titanic. "Teddy," she says, her voice strong but her hope weak. "Look, Dad doesn't matter. Nobody matters. I love you."

He winces and runs a hand through his hair, which is a midnight black. "You can't possibly—Why?" he asks in a scared voice, not understanding. "I'm—I—Too old…" All of a sudden his life is upside-down and facing chaos.

Lily shakes her head, avoiding his eyes. "You were always the one to tell me age is but a number," she reminds him.

"Lilypad, you can't possibly love me," Teddy tells her in a quiet voice with the saddest blue eyes she's ever seen. "Please don't. There are so many others who will be so much better than me." His words are firm but his eyes are falling apart, dejected and lost and so, so confused as he tries to figure out why his heart's breaking quickly.

"Is this about Victoire?" Lily asks gently, pinching her fingers nonchalantly, a habit she's got whenever she feels as though she's about to cry.

"Vic—God, no, Lil," he cries, rubbing the back of his neck. "Lily… come on, this has nothing to do with her. This is—This is about you—No, no, that came out wrong, I—" He tries desperately to save her but she's coming apart in front of him, tears running down her flushed cheeks and fire-hair finally being quenched with the thirst she's been reaching for.

His fingers are floating in midair, trying to stroke her cheek like he always does, but she flinches away violently, turning her face and stepping backwards into the wall. He pulls his hand back like he's been burned. "It's okay," she tells him convincingly, but the hurt in her face gives her away. "You don't have to lie to make me feel better, Teddy."

Teddy closes his eyes, putting his face in his palms. "Look, Lily—"

But when he looks up, she's already gone. The fire is put out.

iii. the courtship was short, i do report as your former confidante, he who you were leaning on.

Lily, the rock, the boulder, always the strongest despite being the youngest in her family, breaks down that night, running into her room at the end of the hallway. She tries to slam her door but it meets her halfway and it ends up creaking closed, still open a crack, and she leaps onto her bed gracefully and buries her face into the pillow, sobbing until the cloth is damp and her hair is surrounding her like a pool of blood.

She feels like she jumped off a cliff, but Teddy caught her. He caught her halfway in midair, thousands of feet before she plummeted to her death at the bottom of a jagged ravine. He caught her, kissed her, and then let go, and she's still falling to this very moment.

There are footsteps outside her bedroom door and before she can get up and brush her hair or reapply her makeup, the door opens a bit and a foot steps in. A faint little hope inside of her makes her believe it's Teddy, and she can feel her face fall when she sees that it's only Roxanne, the only Weasley girl her age. "Hey, Roxy," Lily whispers, trying to put up that dreadful front of hers, but her voice only cracks and her eyes end up filling again, running down like waterfalls against cold stone.

"You don't have to tell me about it," Roxanne decides in her faint voice, wrapping a lock of wavy red hair around her thin finger.

Lily smiles a watery smile. "Thank you," she breathes, and Roxanne closes the door quietly, sitting beside her cousin on the large bed, cross-legged. "Did you… Did you hear what happened?" Lily asks, afraid of the answer.

"No," Roxanne replies, shaking her head, and Lily sighs, relieved. If her brother and father—not to mention most male cousins—found out, Teddy would be murdered. "Does it hurt badly, Lily?" Roxanne asks, turning her head. Her hair is red and her skin is pale like her father's, but her eyes aren't the light brown Weasley trait. Instead, they are so dark they're almost black, and they look onyx in the dim lighting from the single reading lamp in Lily's bedroom.

Lily lays her head on Roxanne's shoulder, teardrops dripping off her chin and onto Roxanne's dress, but if Roxy notices she doesn't say anything. "It hurts badly," Lily admits quietly. "I feel…" She cannot finish her sentence. Instead, she looks up and turns to Roxy. "What does it feel like… when you see Draco and you know you can't be with him?"

Roxanne laughs and shrugs. Her fancy for the older Malfoy has always been a secret, but the story had slipped out of Roxy's mouth and into Lily's ear one night. "To know that he's too old," Roxy murmurs, "that we aren't to be together… It hurts like the devil, Lil, it really does, doesn't it?"

And together, the girls sit there in the middle of a party, wondering why it is that people fall in love.

iv. it started out with a kiss, how did it end up like this, it was only a kiss, it was only a kiss.

So that immature girl with the scarlet hair grows up. Lily throws away her dragon toys and starts reading dragon books; she stops moping over Teddy and just tries to stop thinking of him altogether. (But it gets really hard because she knows she's never going to stop loving him and his childish smile, his ever-changing hair, the way he's always been there for her except for the time when it mattered the most.)

She returns to Hogwarts and finishes her sixth year and finds herself with a boyfriend; Lysander Scamander, nonetheless, with his clashing rhyming name and his brown-and-blond hair and his arm always around her. She likes the way he's always around and how she can be quiet and a total blabbermouth and he won't mind, so she keeps him around. (But the thing she likes most is the fact that he's not afraid to tell her he loves her, anywhere, anytime.)

It stops being Lily-and-Teddy and it becomes Just Lily for months before she returns as Lily-and-Lysander. She likes this, that she can be independent and Just Lily and survive; she likes knowing she can survive anything, because she's Lily Potter and she can. But the lingering looks Teddy gives her, the way he always runs his fingers through her hair when he hugs her quietly, it's all getting too hard to ignore.

She misses the Lily-and-Teddy. She misses having Teddy as her best friend and confidante and crush. She misses his one-armed squeezes and rolling eyes, his caffeine addiction and the way he knows every single fixing charm in the book so that Mum or Dad never caught them when they broke anything. She misses Teddy the most of all, and she tells him that.

"I miss you," she confesses to him one day in that so-loud-I'm-yelling-when-I'm-really-not voice of hers. It's their turn to clean up, and they've been left alone to wash the dishes as the rest of the family plays Quidditch outside in the yard. "I never talk to you anymore," she tells him, staring straight down at the plate in the sink, muttering a spell to enchant the sponge into scrubbing it.

Teddy scratches his head, casting the same spell as he turns to her. "What're you talking about?" he asks, clueless as always. "I'm right here, Lils, I'm always here."

Lily laughs and shakes her head. "The way we were before," she explains, still avoiding his longing gaze. "You know. Friends. Just friends."

"Lily…" he murmurs warningly.

She shrugs, rolling her eyes and looking away when she meets his warm eyes, dark brown today. "Touchy subject, I know," she whispers. "I won't talk about it if it makes you uncomfortable."

"It does make me uncomfortable," Teddy admits. "Makes me very uncomfortable. Things I regret often tend to do that."

It's her turn to say, "Teddy…" now. She holds her breath, counting to twenty as the silence ticks on. Her heart is beginning to hurt in the way it does when Teddy's doing something she wishes he wouldn't.

"Sorry," Teddy mumbles.

"Prat," Lily accuses playfully. His hand comes up and clutches his heart as he fakes offense, his mouth falling open but his eyes laughing, sparkling impishly. Lily reaches into the now bubbly sink and tries to grab hold of the bubbles. The liquid slips through her fingers but she reaches out and splashes, soap and water mingling and hitting Teddy smack in the face.

Teddy gasps and Lily laughs. "Now you're gonna get it…" he growls jokingly, and he takes the whole sponge and tosses it at her, hitting her on the head and soaking her hair. "Oh, yes, perfect aim!" he cries. "I knew they should've made me a chaser!"

"Oh, shut it, you arrogant nutter!" Lily giggles as they have a full-on soap fight, laughing and slipping and sliding. Before either of them can notice they've slid together, clutching each other tightly as to not fall on the wet floor.

She looks up at him before she can resist and the tension between them is like gravity, pulling their lips closer and closer together until—

"Lily!" Lysander's deep voice rings through both their ears as Lily jumps away from Teddy's hold on her, nearly falling on the slick floor. "There you are, been looking all over for you. C'mon, remember? We're heading to that pub on Cormick Street with Luce and Lorcan. They're already there." The boy mostly ignores Teddy because he's got no idea who he is.

Teddy, however, has plenty of experience in hating Lysander Scamander. He glares at the young man violently, wanting to strangle him for taking away the one thing he loves the most. "I'll see you, Lily," he mutters under his breath, his hand coming up to run through his hair nervously.

"Yeah," Lily breathes out, her heart suddenly pounding as she lets out a breath she didn't consciously hold, and she takes Lysander's hand as he leads her out the kitchen door, looking back over her shoulder to see Teddy staring out at her, biting his lip.

v. sometimes goodbye is a second chance; please don't cry one tear for me, i'm not afraid of what i have to say.

The Weasleys and the Potters and the little Lupin go to the beach just by the Potter house one day after Hogwarts graduation, all fifty-gazillion of them that make up the family. Straight away, Louis and James pitch the tent while Rose and Albus and Hugo run off to splash in the waves; Dominique and Victoire (who hasn't said a word to Teddy for ages—to Lily, either, for some odd reason) and Molly lay on their stomachs and let the sun shine upon their blanched backs and the parents sit upon large towels magicked out of thin air and watch as the children let go and run free.

"Coming, Lil?" Roxanne calls, hand-in-hand with Lucy, shading her eyes.

Lily begins to nod but she feels that gaze upon her, the one that puts shivers down her back and flushes down her cheeks. She turns and finds Teddy looking at her intently, eyes narrowed and smiling. "I—I'll be coming soon, Rox, Luce, I—I just need to ask Teddy something."

Roxanne gives her this look that makes the butterflies erupting in her stomach freeze. "Okay, Lily," she murmurs softly, still staring at her with those wide black eyes. "You be careful now, y'hear?" Lily swallows dryly, looking back again to find Teddy. "You know people these days, so easily hurt."

"'To love and win is the best thing,'" Lily recites, and Roxy grins, rolling her eyes and looking away. "'To love and lose, the next best.' William Thackeray." And as Roxanne turns around and heads to the gently rolling waves, lifting the sands upon the shore up until they're completely displaced, ignoring Lucy's curious questions of the tender friendship formed between the two cousins, Lily spins on her heels, finding Teddy sitting far off from the others on a little towel of his own, hugging his knees to his chest.

"When I see you and Scaman—I mean Lysander," he begins straight off the bat when she sits down beside him, avoiding his eyes, "It bloody hurts, Lils."

She sighs and shrugs. "Taste of your own medicine," she mumbles faintly, feeling so unlike herself. Her heart hurts and her head pounds and there's the taste of salt and sand between her lips but she hasn't even swum yet. The sun's rays are cast upon them unmercifully and she wants him to kiss her.

His fingers find hers and they twist through until the two hands are intertwined. "I'm sorry," he says quietly, voice gruff. "I feel like an idiot. I feel like such an asshole."

Lily turns and meets his gaze and swallows when she sees his midnight blue eyes and matching electric blue hair. His stare is overpowering, looking straight past her cover-up green eyes and into her jumbled mind. "Kiss me," she demands then, sounding much more like Lily than she has in months, years, eternities. "Kiss me now, Teddy, now," she tells him with authority in her voice and longing in her eyes.

"Okay," he agrees, licking his lips, and he takes her face in his hands, rough and worn, and pulls her close before kissing her, the sun behind them and the water in front. He tastes like orange juice and sun-block and her grandmother's fried chicken and she does believe this may be the moment she's been awaiting since she was five and wanted Teddy to be her Prince.

He pulls away (like he always seems to do) and presses his chapped lips against her forehead, hugging her to his chest and breathing in the scent. "God, Lily, I love you, I always have," he confesses, breathing harshly.

She says nothing. She feels everything.

vi. oh, i can see now that all of these clouds are following me in my desperate endeavor, to find my whoever, whoever he may be.

He clutches her tightly, running his hands through her luscious red waves until they're completely entangled, never to leave her soft perfect touch. They ignore the raised eyebrows of the elders as they leave quickly, hand-in-hand. Nobody seems to notice the fact that they kissed, except for Roxanne, who only bites her lip and shakes her head with the bitter melancholy in her eyes, because she knows. She knows what happens next because she knows it only too well.

She kisses with a fervor that Lysander's never known as he leads her into the house they've both known since birth, making sounds and whispering nothings that would make Dominique Weasley blush.

"I love you," Teddy declares, nibbling the shell of her ear as he lays her down upon her bed since childhood. "I love you, I love you, I love you."

Lily smiles and tugs him down for another searing kiss. "You are an arse," she tells him, eyes narrowed. He raises a single brown eyebrow and then she kisses him fiercely, making his knees weak and his stomach churn. "But I love you so much it doesn't even matter." He smiles into the kiss and she lets go, wondering if she's about to do the right thing.

Then he crawls upon her and she forgets all reminders of that damned Right Thing. Is there a Right Thing anymore? She's not sure if there ever was one. "Are you sure?" he asks quietly, his breath warm against her ear.

"So sure," she responds, and takes the plunge, because Lily Potter has always been an act now, regret later kind of girl and it's going to be the death of her.

She awakes to blinding sunlight through her curtains, making her eyes ache as soon as they drift open. Her arm stretches, pale and thin, as she yawns and wonders what happened.

And then her emerald orbs scan her arm, following the length of it until she ends at a man, sleeping soundly with his mouth agape slightly, one arm slung across her waist protectively, as though even as he slept he had to make sure she was close by, within reach, able to be touched, his love needed her so much.

Lily Potter was always an act now, regret later, and run kind of person.

vii. so say, what are you waiting for? kiss her, kiss her; i set my clocks early cause i know i'm always late.

Lily grabs her clothes, stuffing them into a rucksack, tears tracing the way down her cheeks as always. Regret fills her from head to toe and she wonders why it is that she's always wishing she hadn't done something; can't there be just one thing that she's happy about?

Teddy stirs on her bed and she stifles a sob. His arm is now wrapped around a pillow in replacement of her. With bittersweet memories and salty tears covering up the taste of him on her lips, she slings the rucksack over her shoulder and turns around, moisture blurring the image of a sleeping Teddy. She mouths a goodbye and opens the door and leaves as the familiar sleeps, not quite knowing where she's going.

She quickly takes her owl, Aphrodite, and her cage before stepping outside the house she's always known and walking briskly down the asphalt road, all the while taking out a wrinkled piece of paper and an old ballpoint pen. She rips the paper in half.

On one half, she scrawls quickly, "'Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.' Herman Hesse. Lysander, I think you're one of the kindest boys I've ever met, which is why you do not deserve what I'm doing and have done to you. I'm afraid it's over. Lily."

On the other, she writes a ridiculously fast, "Coming for the summer. Don't ask why. L." She rolls up both of the pieces of paper and hands them both to Aphrodite, who clutches them within her sharp talons. Lily whispers specific directions into the tawny owl's ear and she takes off, wings unfurling and spreading through the distance, a spectacular sight against the slow sunrise. Wiping away stale tears and taking in a deep breath, Lily steps out on her own, off to the one person she knows best, better than her family.

"Is it the nargles?" Luna Scamander (nee Lovegood) asks curiously, her blonde hair still brilliant, despite the streaks of gray now crawling through them. "You know, they're quite pesky this time of year."

Lily smiles. "Really, now? I didn't know. It's not the nargles, no, Luna, but I'll keep that in mind just in case."

Luna nods appreciatively as she takes out a small pot of green Floo powder. "Does Lysander know you're here?" she asks gently, her blue eyes understanding. Lily swallows dryly and shakes her head, too ashamed to meet her namesakes' eyes. "It's okay. You see, sometimes, to realize you're in love with someone else, you've got to realize how much you're not in love with another person." Her brow furrows, as though she's thinking hard. "Rolf taught me that."

A hand sweeps through Lily's hair as she lets the words run through her mind, all the while taking a scoop of powder. "Wow, thanks Luna. Those—Those are some really wise words," she tells her genuinely, pondering.

"Alright, here's Romania, now. You should hurry." Lily nods and steps forward, ready to recite her uncle's address, which she's known by heart since first year. "And by the way, Teddy loves you, so much."

The statement takes Lily aback so much that she stumbles forward and almost forgets to step into the fireplace. "H—How'd you know?" she asks, surprised, before stepping in and reciting the address.

"It's the nargles," Luna explains as Lily begins to spin. "They don't affect his brain as much when you're around!" And then the young girl is spinning violently, hair whipping around as she Floos to Romania, so, so confused.

viii. you see in life, i know there's lots of grief; but your love is my relief.

She stays with Uncle Charlie for a whole year, helping him capture injured dragons and rehabilitate them until they're well enough to be released back into the wild. She turns out to be fantastic at it, practically speaking to the dragons themselves in a whole language they developed. She finds a bond with a sparkly green female Antipodean Opaleye that matches her eyes. The female has spikes down her back and a poisonous tail; a fierce temper and the ability to breathe the most scorching fire known to Wizardkind that just looking at its white-hot flames may blind a wizard or witch unlucky enough. The dragon has damaged one wing and may never be able to fly again, which means it may never be able to be released back into the wild.

"We might have to put her down, Lil," Charlie murmurs, his hand on his niece's shoulder as she waves to the dragon, whom she's christened Lux. In return, Lux nuzzles Lily's hand cautiously. Despite the dragon's dangerous reputation, this particular female is a mushball. "She's never going to be able to go home and we don't have any safe place to take care of a dragon."

Lily gasps and turns around, gawking at her uncle. "But Uncle Charlie, Lux is absolutely wonderful! We've got tons of uses for her even if she can't fly—she's so tame, look at her! She's more useful than half the dragons we've already got, who can only eat, sleep, and kill!" She hates speaking badly of the creatures she's come to know as friends, but the truth hurts.

Charlie shrugs. "I'm not the one who can decide these things; it's the director. He calls the shots, and I can't guarantee to save Lux if she calls this particular shot."

Lily finds herself unable to breathe as she looks up at what she's come to know as her best friend, the thing she finds so much of herself in. "Lux, girl, look at what they're going to do to you," she whispers sadly, petting the dragon's smoking nostrils. "You've got to be strong. You've got to heal." She peaks at the bandaged wing. It's healed gorgeously since eight months ago when they'd first taken the dragon in, but nobody's dared to test it yet. If Lux tried to fly on a destroyed wing, she could fall in midair, and the crushing weight of her body against the harsh ground would be too much.

Lux leans down, long and royal neck stretching lithely, and her eyes reveal her human-like understanding. Lily forms a plan.

So at midnight, as the rest of the dragonologists sleep and snore within their dorm rooms, Lily creeps down the creaky staircase and into the dragon holding chamber, where she finds Lux's room.

Lux is still awake, strange enough, as Lily enters quietly, holding a finger to her lips. "Come on, Lux, girl," she urges, flailing her arms, and for a thin, time-stopping second she fears that Lux has forgotten their bond. And then the dragon stands up and follows her outside the humongous building, nimble upon her feet.

Lily pushes the gate open, using her wand to add extra magical power as she grunts and opens the door towards the Romanian dragon world. The realization of the recklessness and dangerousness of her actions then catch up with her as she opens up the gate to the wild and finds herself face to face with an undomesticated dragon.

Fear fills her as she remembers the dragon that's waited outside the gates for months, not letting any other trainer pass through for reasons unknown. You're going to die, a voice says in the back of her mind. She wonders if Teddy will miss her.

And then Lux steps forward calculatingly, flaring her nostrils. The dragon makes a soft roar in return, his eyes wondering. Lux unfurls her wings, snapping the bandages clean off, and Lily gazes in awe at the shiny, repaired wing. "Good job, girl," she encourages, making the first noise in a while.

The extra dragon turns to her ferociously, mouth open, revealing its fangs, which glisten in the moonlight. Lily then remembers a fact that's haunted her ever since she read it in a Care of Magical Creatures book: "Antipodean Opaleyes are the only breed of wizarding dragon that mate for life."

So she's got no idea why but tears fill her eyes at the remembrance. "You love her, don't you, boy?" Lily whispers to the unknown dragon, and he looks at her carefully, as though he understands her words. "Go on, Lux, honey, you can go now, you're free."

Lux lets out a vicious roar and Lily looks away as the two dragons begin to stand upon their hind legs. The male then flaps his wings, the force knocking Lily towards the ground as his wings beat strongly, lifting the enormous dead weight into the air almost magically. Lux glances behind her to find Lily, who's sobbing yet smiling, and she snaps open her wings and glides cleanly into the air, perfectly, serenely. And then the dragons are floating through the smooth air, stunning against the sweet background of cold night Romanian air, and Lily is crying hard, watching them leave.

A thick hand on her shoulder wakes her from her trance. "I'm proud of you," Charlie admits, hugging his niece to his hard chest as she sobs into it.

"That dragon," she whispers, "he looks so much older than Lux. She's such a young one. Why would she love that older dragon if there are other options?"

Charlie shrugs, the true meaning of her words unbeknownst to him. "I've got no idea, really, Lil, other than, I guess, love is love, even for a dragon."

And with that, Lily knows she has to go home.

ix. here's a song for the one who stole my heart and ran so far that cupid couldn't catch her.

She Floos back home with no warning, using up the last of Uncle Charlie's Floo powder but he murmurs in her ear that it's worth it as she waves a tearful goodbye to him, already having packed every article of clothing she'd brought within minutes.

"Love you," he shouts after her, and she sings it back cheerfully. She arrives in her old home right in the middle of dinner, and she steps out of the long unused fireplace with soot on her face to disguise the tears.

Her mother shrieks and is the first to hug her, ignoring the black dust she gets all over her. "Lily! Where have you been?" she cries as she hugs her only daughter, kissing her red head.

"God, do you know how worried we've been?" her father gasps as he kisses her everywhere he can reach and hugs her.

Albus and James shout and laugh and joke around and soon they're all laughing so hard until tears run down every family member's cheeks. "I'm sorry I left so abruptly last year," Lily chokes out in-between chuckles, "I just… I needed to. But I'm back now. I loved it with Uncle Charlie, but I needed to go home. I needed to—er—see someone."

Harry ruffles his own hair nervously and sighs. "We know, Lily," he tells her, and Lily blushes hard. "Go on, sweetie. He hasn't been the same without you."

James nods eagerly in agreement. "Ted's so boring now, he's such a prat. All he does is drink coffee and work and mope, Lils, you've got to help him out."

Lily laughs out loud, a real Lily laugh for the first time in ages, snapping her head back and laughing for the life of her. "I'll do you guys a favor and head over to his flat right now," she assures them, and heads off on Harry's old Firebolt, not bothering to send an owl or anything, because love is spontaneous like that.

The door is locked, but Teddy's never been too protective of himself so Lily simply points at it with her wand and says, "Alohomora," and it swings open instantly. Stepping into the dark house, she cups her mouth and yells, "Teddy!"

An immediate chain reaction, something bangs around in the corner of the house and soon enough Teddy Lupin is within view, rough bear around his chin and hair black, sticking up everywhere. "Lily? Shit, how much did I drink last night?" is his greeting.

Lily rolls her eyes and stares at him. "I hope not too much," she replies sardonically. "It's really me, Teddy, it's Lily."

His eyes widen and his mouth forms a perfect O. "Real—Lily? I haven't seen you in forever." Realization suddenly hits him and he runs forward, wrapping his arms around her and hugging her thin body to his chest as tight as he can, kissing the top of her head shamelessly. "I missed you. I missed you a lot," he admits shyly, smiling into her forehead.

"I missed you, too," Lily whispers, admitting it not only to him but to herself also. "More than you know."

He looks down at her and without warning, captures her lips in his, squeezing her waist as he smiles. Lily doesn't know, but it's the first time he's smiled truly in a year. "I just wanted to see if it was really you," he explains, grinning. "It is. Are you not going to run away again?"

Lily smiles, looking down at her shoes and pressing her face into his chest. "Maybe not," she tells him, feeling like she's alive. "I do know one thing for sure."

Teddy closes his eyes, smile still etched on his face. "I love you."

"I love you."

And all is well.

x. omnia vincit amor.

Teddy Lupin shields his eyes and groans as Lily Lupin sits up in bed, listening to the cries of their newborn daughter, Lux. "My turn again," Lily grumbles, tousling her long curls before slipping on her slippers and beginning to stand.

"No," Teddy sighs, taking her hand in his and standing quickly, yawning. "I'll do it again, Lil, you go back to sleep, you need it. 'Sides, I never get tired of seeing Lux."

Lily grins, flopping back onto the bed. "Aw," she coos, kissing his chin chastely when Teddy kneels down for her. "How sweet. My husband sacrifices his sleep for mine. What, oh Lord, have I done to deserve this?"

Teddy rolls his eyes and tweaks her nose before standing up straight, straining his ear for his daughter's shrieks. "I think I should be the one saying that," he corrects, combing his hair with his fingers. "And only because I love you so much."

The redhead laughs and lets her eyes drift closed, letting the words etch into her heart permanently.