A/N: for SqueakySwings, in an attempt to apologise for still not getting round to reviewing her amazing TeddyLily stories – everyone else, go read her stuff. She is quite possibly the queen of TeddyLily, albeit despite the fact she has to share her throne with howlsatthemoon! I also give all credit to her for Lily being a swimmer. Read Waterbug and you'll see why the idea is so perfect, yeah?
Also for the Hogwarts Online prompt of the day: lake.
when people fall out of the world
yeah you can tell me all
your thoughts about the stars.
- Angels on the Moon, Thriving Ivory
The lake freezes over in the winter.
It's a fact of life, sort of, like the way Teddy's hair changes without him noticing and the fact that Victoire knows he's in love with Lily.
(Everyone knows it, actually, but that's beside the point.)
But the relevance of the lake freezing over is that Lily is a little water demon, swimming and swimming all the time because for some crazy reason she feels more at home in the water than on dry land – and without the lake for escape she's ratty and wild and sometimes she's so dangerously close to being derailed that Teddy has to hold her tightly and promise to never let her go.
She's sixteen when he folds her into a hug and realises that this has gone too far – his hair has changed to the colour of the stars in her eyes six times already this week, and it's only Tuesday.
"I have to go," he blurts out, and suddenly she's spiralling downwards as he bolts for the door, his emotions and thoughts scattered in disarray all over the floor as he leans panting against her bedroom door.
Al strolls past and doesn't say a word at the sight of his godbrother leaning against Lily's door with the air of a man about to off himself, just hands over a flask of firewhiskey given to him by James for Christmas and then shuts himself away in his bedroom with his new girlfriend Chloe.
Teddy drains the whole thing in about six gulps and then he opens the door and all the fire and resolve coursing through his thrumming veins turns to ice in an instant, because Lily isn't there.
But then she's always been his magnetic north and so it's barely any effort for him to track her down with a well-placed spell and a couple of choice swearwords. His charms leave him at the Hogwarts gates, and his eye strays instantly to a stray green ribbon fluttering in the biting January wind, snagged on the ironwork.
With much muttering he concentrates hard and metamorphs himself extraordinarily thin, slipping through the bars of the gate as easily as a sigh.
"Hah," he says to the gates as he regards them from the inside, laughing aloud at how easy this all is. Then he remembers why he's here and sets off at a jog for the place that he just knows she'll be.
As he stands on the bank, he watches a dark silhouette break the surface of the water, a gap broken in the thick ice, sending black ripples out to the edges. Her red hair catches the moonlight as she tosses the wet, unwieldy mess backwards, droplets sparkling as they fly through the air.
Then he flips.
"Are you crazy?" he yells at her almost-invisible figure, his hands balled up into fists. "It's bloody freezing!"
Their eyes meet as he lights up his wand, her bare shoulders rising white and pale out of the black water, the most imperceptible of shivers passing through them.
"Well come and get me out then," she taunts, sinking lower in the lake, her hair swirling around her like an oil slick on the surface of the water. "I don't see why I should suffer if you don't."
"Lils," he says, his voice taking on a pleading tone. "Please, come out of the water. We can talk."
"Talking's pointless," she responds with a melancholic air, her eyes glittering with unshod tears. "You never hear the important things."
"Well you never say them," he points out, and with a final sigh of defeat, he strips off his thick jumper, shirt and shoes and plunges headfirst into the freezing water.
The cold knocks all the air out of him and he surfaces spluttering, kicking furiously and swearing. He's never had her grace in the water – he's all leg and malcoordination.
"I'll get you back for this," he threatens as he reaches her with several powerful strokes, making a grab for her shoulders. She's ice in his hands, so cold she's not even shivering any more. "You're an idiot."
"Yeah, well, so are you," she retorts, her teeth clenched together and her brightsparkly eyes dulled with the cold.
"Merlin alive, Lily," he says, and he doesn't even notice she's completely naked until he's pulled her tightly into his arms and used his wand to propel them both back towards the shore.
He seats her on the grass and she just wraps her skinny arms around her knees and Teddy frantically towels her off with his discarded shirt, ignoring her nudity in his desperate attempts to warm her up.
"C'mon, Lils," he pleads, rubbing her sides ferociously with the now-drenched shirt, completely unaware of the winter wind against his own bare chest as he forces his jumper over her head, twisting her fiery, soaking hair out of the way as she just sits there and stares up at him dully.
"Hate you," she murmurs as he swings her up into his arms, her ice-block face pressed against his warm, reassuring chest.
"I know," he replies gently, his eye caught by the glint of her Slytherin-silver locket, hanging delicately around her neck as it has been since he gave it to her on her ninth birthday.
"Take me home," she mutters, her eyes clenched shut, her toes curling in the cold. He sets off towards the gates at a jog, trying furiously not to jolt her. He halts in front of the gates and with the fiercest concentration he's ever managed to dredge up he forces the change through her body.
He's never managed it before, but it barely surprises him that he's managed it now. All those books he's ever read on metamorphagi has been very clear about one thing: the only connection that permits a metamorphagus to change another person is through the heart.
"Why'm I all thin?" she inquires with great effort, her unbreakable curiosity piercing through even now. He chuckles softly as he squeezes through the gate with her held like the most precious piece of porcelain ever made.
"Magic," he tells her with a grin, and she's calling him something inappropriate when he finds his wand and twists into the darkness.
He arrives in the Potters' garden and barrels through into the kitchen, surprising Harry and Ginny so much that they knock over their tea as he places Lily gently down on the couch. He explains with clipped words where he found her, and Ginny awards him one long, hard look.
"And it didn't occur to you to just use a spell to warm her up?" she inquires slowly, holding her daughter down as Lily attempts to sit up. "Men," she sighs when Teddy drops his head and suddenly becomes very interested in the floor.
It takes her about ten seconds to warm Lily up, and immediately Lily bounds to her feet and awards Teddy one hard slap around the face before she disappears upstairs in a flurry of red hair and tear-filled green eyes.
"I probably deserved that," he says to Ginny and Harry, who both look utterly astonished, and then he bows his head and leaves quietly through the back door.
He next sees her at Al's eighteenth birthday party. He finds her curled up on her windowseat, gazing up at the stars, dressed in his woolly green sweater and looking impossibly weary.
"I read a book on metamorphagi," she announces without looking away from the night sky. "The bit about them being able to change other people."
"I guess what I was about to tell you is pretty redundant, then," he replies slowly, crossing the room to sit opposite her, not making any move to touch her. "And I'm sorry. I don't want anything to change between us, honest. I know I'm too old for you."
"You're an idiot," she replies, still not looking at him but shifting minutely closer.
"That too," he says non-committally, studying her pale face in the moonlight. Her eyes suddenly flash to meet his, veryvery dark in the dimness.
"Merlin, Teddy," she complains, and then suddenly she's flying at him with her hair a messy nimbus around her face and her eyes bright and he can't quite comprehend what's happening until her mouth is fastening on his, desperate and ohsoinexperienced.
And, for once, he lets lakewater freeze over his objections and his damn morals and he lets her guide him to the place he's always belonged, like a compass to the north.
And his hair turns the colour of the stars in her eyes for the eighth time in as many minutes.
A/N: eh, I hate it. But I'm having withdrawal symptons, I need to get something posted. Please don't favourite without reviewing, thank you.