Disclaimer: I do not own anything. (; Harry Potter is not and never will be mine, nor is the poem Hope is the thing with feathers by Emily Dickinson, which inspired this whole freaking thing.

Because I adore Emily Dickinson's work, and Hope is my favorite poem next to Robert Frost's Fire and Ice. Lily/Teddy, 'cause what am I to write if not them? (Hint, that's where you guys suggest other stuff for me to write. Yeah, I'm doing the broaden my horizons thing again. But I'm still gonna write L/T in-between 'cause that last time was actually painful. I'm a dork, yeah?)

x

hope is the thing with feathers

(lily&teddy)
hope is the thing with feathers
that perches in the soul,
and sings the tune-without the words,
and never stops at all;

and sweetest in the gale is heard;
and sore must be the storm
that could abash the little bird
that kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
and on the strangest sea;
yet, never, in extremity,
has it asked a crumb of me.

So he's kind of a pessimist. And maybe a little bit cliché, trite, unoriginal. He changes his hair sloppily, lacks table etiquette, and his favorite food are beer-battered onion rings. He's kind of a heart-breaker (but only 'cause his heart is broken enough to be one) and his best friend is a girl who's eleven years younger and possibly smarter than him.

She is a bird. Flighty, one-blink-and-she's-gone. She's got a gorgeous voice and a horrible temper; she adores the smell of damp flowers in the spring and hides herself away in layers of introversion during the freezing winter. She's fierce and cautious, protective and sometimes-when-you're-lucky friendly. She is hope.

He loves her with everything he's got.

x

She's one second, two second, three seconds old, and he's impossibly reminded of a chick. Her eyes have got this dark look in them already, and her voice, wailing, is demanding attention, demanding him. Her skin is moist and the magic glowing around her has got this golden sunlight yellow tone, giving her an angelic appearance.

He stares at her in awe, amazement and fear and love and realisation flowing into him all at once.

Hope is born.

x

She's five, and she's looks like a flamingo.

"I've never seen so much pink in my life," he comments off-handedly to Victoire, winking at his god-sister. "Love the outfit, Lily!" he shouts to her when she spots him amongst the partygoers, ignoring their birthday greetings and pushing them aside to run and jump into his arms. He lifts her easily, her short legs wrapping around his lean waist, and she presses a big, wet kiss to his cheek.

"Teddy!" she shrieks in a high-pitched voice. "D'you really like it?" She gestures towards the poufy pink dress, the hot pink stockings, the salmon-coloured flats, the lavender headband. "I picked it out all by myself. Without any help from Mummy." Al passes by and she sticks her tongue out at him, making her older brother's face scrunch up in frustration. "But Ally had to have Mummy pick out his clothes! Just like a baby!"

Teddy laughs out loud, setting her down and tapping her nose. "But you are a baby, sweetie," he tells her seriously. "Don't grow up too fast now, you hear?"

"I'm not a baby," she protests grumpily. "Now c'mon Teddy bear, help me cut my cake!" She grasps his wrist tightly and drags him to the table where her mum was beckoning her, with Teddy only just remembering to send a (not really) apologetic look to Victoire behind him.

x

She's eight years old, magical, and when he glances over at her, she's got the blazing determination and ferocity of a hippogriff.

"I can't believe you told on me, Lils," he growls, running a hand through his flashing hair because this is Lily, she's his verybestalways friend, and this anger towards her feels so very wrong. Her eyes are filling with moisture, but the teardrops are quickly being singed away by the flames.

Screaming, practically, she spins around on her heels. At four feet, a couple inches from five, she's barely a threat, yet he feels the need to step away, the sheer anger of her licking at his fingertips like fire. "Look, I'm not Vic's biggest fan," she starts, "but what you were doing is not fair, Teddy! I know what cheating is, Ted, contrary to popular belief. I couldn't have kept that a secret." She glares at him intensely, and everything is silence in the empty garden. "I had to tell her."

Teddy closes his eyes slowly. "You're eight," he sighs, pinching the bridge of his nose, "You're just a kid. You're not supposed to be so bloody moral and intuitive and smarter than me. You're not even in Hogwarts yet."

Lily smiles, shrugging. "It's destiny, then, us being best friends, isn't it?" she says bravely. "I'm s'posed to lead you away from these idiotic decisions you're constantly making, yeah?"

"'M sorry I tried to make you keep that a secret," he murmurs apologetically, hugging her tightly with his left arm. "Victoire must hate me."

"I'd hate you," Lily admits in a small voice, and Teddy winces at the thought. "But it's okay, I don't. That was a pretty bad thing you did. But nobody's perfect. C'mon, take me to Diagon Alley. I'll treat you to ice cream." She reaches into her pocket to pull out dozens of Galleons. "James should really stop that betting problem before he gets older."

Grinning, he nods as she heads inside to warn her parents of her soon-to-be whereabouts. Destiny, he thinks, watching his best friend walk away. I quite like the sound of that.

x

She's eleven years old, and, yeah, she's a snake, but the silence and morbidity of her expression makes him think of a raven.

It's Christmastime, and the two of them sit alone on the unoccupied staircase, him watching her eyes struggling to avoid the happy expressions of the celebrating, slightly inebriated adults, and the quick, angry glances of her cousins and brothers. She refuses to speak, only holds his hand in her lap and traces the lines on his palm, breathing softly.

"Tell me what's wrong, Lily," he pleads for about the millionth time that night, and, finally, she opens her mouth hesitantly.

"They're angry at me," she explains, running her free hand through her messy red locks, "because I was sorted into Slytherin. They… think I'm some kind of traitor." He nods, unsurprised. Already, she's got this detached, I-could-care-less air about her, even now as she feigns ignorance towards her cousins. But in her eyes, there is hurt. "They're all toerags, anyway."

Teddy hides a smile at her choice of insult. "They'll come around," he reassures her.

Insecurity flashes at him like rays of sunlight in the early morning. "So, you don't think I'm a traitor?"

Frowning, he leans in, pressing her body into his chest soothingly. "No, Lils," he mumbles into her hair. "You're not being a traitor. You're just being yourself. And the others are going to realise that soon."

The mask is back on and she narrows her eyes dangerously. "They better," she says darkly, and he wouldn't take her any other way.

x

She's fifteen and love-struck, with this dreamyfaraway look in her green eyes and he feels impossibly childish and immature as he imagines a lovebird in her place (and maybe her arm around him instead, while you're at it.)

"Lils," he says teasingly as she passes by, her arm glued to his. He feels remarkably alone in a place that he used to call home, with her ignoring him like the plague and Roxy shooting him these pitying looks (like she's knows how he's feeling or something) and Vic giving him death glares (it's been seven years!) and why won't Lily look at him? "I've been here for hours and I haven't seen you in ages and you haven't even said 'hi' to me yet. What gives?" He tries not to sound hopelessly in love with her (yes, it's hard.)

Lily widens her eyes like the thought's only come into her mind just now. "Right, sorry, Ted!" she tells him, and hugs him awkwardly, wrapping her thin arms around his middle. He inhales her scent; dust and lavender. "And, oh, Teddy, you remember Lysander. Ly, Teddy."

The taller, blond boy nods, a mischievous glint in his eye as he offers his hand. "I'm Lily's newest flame," he explains, and Teddy's fingers unintentionally tighten around the Lysander's, his teeth gritting. "For now, that is, until she gets sick of me and decides to play with some other boy's heart." Teddy tries reallyreally hard not to say he'd kind of like his heart played with.

Rolling her eyes, Lily laughs loudly, shoving Lysander's shoulder playfully. "That's right, Lily Potter, notorious player," she says sardonically, and then glances at Teddy like she's just realised he's still there. "We'll hang out later, okay, Teddy? Just say the word and we'll head to Diagon Alley for ice cream and Butterbeer just like old times, yeah?"

He nods, hiding his disappointment. "See you 'round," he mutters, and walks away.

(They never do go to Diagon Alley.)

x

She's seventeen and damn, the way she looks in those ripped, bright red tights, those tooshort black shorts, her dark blouse and ginger hair piled up on top of her head, she's fierce as a peregrine falcon.

"Lily," he murmurs gently when they find each other in the crowd of people, celebrating her and Hugo's graduation. "Congrats."

She sighs, leaning against the counter nonchalantly. "That's about the millionth time I've heard that. As if it's so difficult to graduate from Hogwarts," she laughs, rolling her eyes in that impossibly gorgeous way of hers.

Teddy shrugs, grinning. "Well, you know."

Lily shakes her head, turning to face him boldly. "No, I don't."

His eyes narrow. "What's that supposed to mean?"

She groans something under her breath, and then her hand shoots out and tightens around his wrist and suddenly there's that familiar tug and choking blackness, and they're up in her room, where it's dark except for the single flame of a chocolate-smelling candle on her bedside table. "What happened between us, Ted?" she asks softly as she sits down on her bed, staring at him. "We just… stopped being friends."

He can't help it. It's the werewolf blood he blames it on, but the anger explodes and he just throws up his hand and surrenders. "You're the one who stopped writing," he accuses. "You're the one who started ignoring me. Stopped talking to me. Started bringing home boys during Christmas holidays, and then you started not showing up at all during Christmastime, and you started going to Romania for most of the summer and Jesus, Lils, it's like I haven't seen you in years. I've always been right here." He stops his pacing without realising he'd started, and then turns to face her in the eye. "Where have you been?"

Leaping up, she presses a sharp fingernail into his chest, angry tears in her eyes. "Don't you dare blame me!" she screams at him. "First of all, I stopped writing because you barely ever wrote back! And don't think I don't read the papers - I see those pictures of you, with a different slut hanging onto you in every one! I just figured you wouldn't care about little old Lily, your ex-best friend. Why would you, anyway? I'm just a kid, huh? Just a stupid little kid who knows nothing." She screams in frustration at being the youngest. "That's what you all think, isn't it? Well, during all this time that you've apparently just been here, I've been proving you all wrong!"

"What, by being a whore?" he yells back.

"That's the kind of girl you like, isn't it?" she replies with a calm furiousness that makes his heart stop.

He blinks, his throat dry, his voice shaky. "What are you saying, Lily?" he whispers.

"You've got to be blind, you're so stupid," she cries, and then in a second she jumps into his arms, wrapping her legs around his waist and they stumble clumsily onto her bed, lips fused together. His hands are tangled in that impossibly long hair and his own locks are changing quickly in confusion, in shock. When they pull away he pants, his chest heaving and his eyes wild and his heart amazed at the effect she's had on him.

"I'm sorry," he murmurs.

She bites her lip, closing her eyes. "Me, too," she whimpers back, and then stands up and runs, runs from everything they've got together.

She's fast, like a falcon, too.

x

She's eighteen and flighty, like a pigeon when you get too close.

News gets around. He's the last to know. It's Victoire who finally tells him, out of pity and maybe revenge. Lily's taken a job in America, she explains, on a dragon reserve in Florida.

He gets drunk, goes to a Muggle bookstore near his flat, buys an Emily Dickinson book, flips through the pages until he finds the poem, rips out the page, and burns it.

x

Next time he sees her she's just turned nineteen, and she seems like an eagle in a cage surrounded by the family (and him) she abandoned. She avoids him like the plague, instead catching up on family gossip with Dom and Roxanne and smiling politely at Vic (since when were they friends?) It feels like the whole world is against him as Albus pats his shoulder awkwardly and hands him a Firewhiskey.

He finally corners her by the staircase, shoving them both into the tiny cupboard underneath there (Harry had it magicked in when they first moved to the large house, like a memorial). She kicks and protests at first, and then realises who it is and backs away timidly.

"Teddy," she says in a forced tone of voice. "How's it been?"

Teddy blinks. "How's it been?" he mimics. "We kiss, you run away, and disappear off to fucking America and all you can say is 'how's it been'?"

She smirks. "Would an 'I miss you' make you feel better?" Same Lily since she's been born, just different feelings.

He swears inwardly, and then grins childishly. "Yeah, a little bit," he confesses, and then returns to glowering. "You're not leaving again, are you?"

Lily shrugs, but the intensity of his glare makes her think twice. "Relax, I only signed on for a year, just for the experience," she tells him. "America's fun and all - I even went to Disney World - but it's just not the same." Turning back to look him in the eye, he sees that impish sparkle. "'Sides, I missed you, Teddy-bear."

He puts a palm to his forehead, shaking his head. "What am I going to do with you?" he grumbles.

"How about this?" she whispers, and then presses her whole being against him and kisses him quickly, before they can both register this emotion. (What is love?)

x

She's twenty-one and gets married in a white poofy dress like a snowy owl, with her hair curled and reaching mid-back with the flamboyance of a peacock, looking like it did that first night they kissed. His heart stops and then starts beating as fast as a hummingbird's wings so many times he's amazed he's not dead, and the whole time she's walking down the aisle toward him (it feels like eternity before she reaches him), he thinks about what kind of bird she reminds him of this time.

Her face glows, her hair fluttering around her like soft feathers as she gets closer and closer (and it's been destiny for as long as he can remember.)

Hope, he decides finally as she steps to him, locking their elbows together.

She has always been hope.