A/N: for Charlotte, howlsatthemoon, to say happy birthday, and also I'm sorry it's nearly three weeks late. I hope you like it – what else could I write but TeddyLily? I've tried to put a new spin on them for you, I hope you don't think it's too weird.
Credit to Nanaho-hime for Lorcan Scamander being a musician, and I totally stole the idea for Victoire's hatred of Lily off SqueakySwings. Jenny, I do hope you don't mind!
a photograph for absolution
hey lady, don't give up on me
don't burn your heart out, love
'til we're ash over seas.
- Hey Lady, Thriving Ivory
She supposes it's an accident (but then isn't everything?).
She turns seventeen on August 29th, and the presents are predictable and boring and ohsouninteresting. She gets the books from her parents, the firewhiskey from her brothers, the clothes and make-up from her friends (and nothing from Teddy, but she hasn't seen him in four years so that doesn't matter – even if he was her bestbest friend once upon a time).
And then, three days after her birthday, an owl flaps through her bedroom window carrying a parcel wrapped in brown paper. She abandons one of her new books and relieves the bird of its burden, absently feeding it a cashew nut as she carries the parcel over to her green-and-silver bed and sits down with it in her lap.
She opens the letter first, the blue handwriting spiky and familiar, a grin stretching out her cheeks as she scans the writing. The short, to-the-point note is written on a slant, a coffee-cup ring at the bottom. It's signed simply "Dennis", and Lily almost laughs aloud at her godfather's inability to write anything more feeling than "happy birthday, sorry it's late".
She tosses the letter to one side, diving for the parcel and beginning to rip the paper off.
"Don't look so disapproving," she tells her owl, who is regarding her from his cage in the corner of the room, looking unimpressed. "Just because I'm seventeen doesn't mean I can't still get excited about presents."
The owl hoots pompously and ruffles his feathers, but Lily has stopped paying attention to him. Her eyes are all on the box in her lap, the picture of the camera on the front bright and shiny and ohsofull of possibilities.
There's another note when she opens the box, and she diverts her attention momentarily from the gleaming black camera to read it.
Don't get too excited – this is actually a Muggle camera. I expect you wanted a wizarding one, but I prefer these ones, actually. I think pictures are much better if they're just a single moment, frozen in time. But that's just me getting poetic. I hope you like it. Send me some of the pictures you take, okay?
She lets out a shriek of delight, scooping the camera out of the box and darting towards the door, the note fluttering towards the ground behind her.
"Look!" she crows as she arrives loudly into the kitchen, green eyes blazing and red hair flying as she skids to a halt with an almost audible screech, startling her parents from their breakfast.
"What's that, sweetie?" Ginny asks warily, setting down her spoon and reaching to grasp her husband's hand under the table. After the previous night's argument, started when they'd tried to prompt Lily to make a career choice, she hadn't expected her daughter to be talking to them again so soon.
"It's a camera! Uncle Dennis sent me a camera for my birthday!"
"Oh, how lovely!" Ginny exclaims, exchanging a quick grin with Harry and rising to her feet to approach her daughter. Lily hands the camera over somewhat reluctantly, her fingers trailing along the lens possessively.
"It's a Muggle camera," Harry comments neutrally, staying safely in his seat at the table, regarding his daughter cautiously from behind his glasses. She meets his gaze, emerald into grass green, and raises one delicate eyebrow.
Harry doesn't press the point, just falls silent again and folds his arms as Ginny lets Lily gush about the wonders of her new camera. He watches this girl he used to know so well and wonders when it is that she started slipping away from them, retreating into her Slytherin shell of iciness and detachment, tearing her heart from her sleeve and tucking away somewhere safer and more private.
"So what will you do with it?" Ginny enquires, and Lily looks at her mother as though she has gone slightly odd in the head.
"Take pictures, what do you think?"
"I mean, what kind of pictures? Just pictures of your friends?"
Lily's face clouds over, and all the warning bells in Harry's head are ringing at full blast as her eyes close up in front of them and she carefully hangs the camera around her neck.
"No. Not of my friends. I'm going to take photos of anything but that."
She retreats from the room then, disappearing out of the back door and into the fields surrounding their home.
"What happened to her?" Ginny wonders aloud, dropping absently into Harry's lap and letting her head nestle into that place on his shoulder where it fits exactly. "She was such a wonder before she went to Hogwarts, and now I don't even know who she is."
"I know," Harry replies thoughtfully, his eyes straying to the five frames on the wall – four red-and-gold Gryffindor ties and one green-and-silver Slytherin tie, looking incongruous and out-of-place in this house of lions. "Maybe it's something to do with her Sorting?"
"No," Ginny says, dismissing the idea instantly. "She wouldn't change just because the hat put her in Slytherin. Besides, you know how happy she was. She wanted to be in Slytherin."
"Merlin knows where she gets it from," Ginny sighs, and Harry grins and summons a book from the kitchen shelf. Ginny sits up in his lap as he opens it to a dog-eared page, his finger stabbing down at a picture of a young man half-turned from the camera, grinning over his shoulder at them slyly.
"That's my great-great grandfather on my dad's side, Thomas Potter. He was a Slytherin."
Ginny raises surprised eyebrows and tugs the book towards her, studying the man intently. Harry waits silently for her to comment, wondering if she'll be annoyed he's never mentioned the guy before.
"He has her eyes," she announces eventually, and Harry gives a start of surprise and leans over her shoulder to stare more closely at Thomas.
"So he does," he replies wonderingly, ignoring it as the man turns to fully glare up at him, wand tapping against his arm. "I never noticed that before. I knew she didn't inherit her eye colour from me, no matter what everyone says."
"No, I knew she didn't. Hers are a brighter colour than yours. Isn't it weird how things like that happen?"
Harry nods and smiles, wrapping his arms around his wife's waist and drawing her in closer to him.
"What are we going to do with that girl?"
"Can't we just kick her out and force her to find a job?" Ginny suggests hopefully, and Harry laughs and places a fond kiss on her neck.
"Not if we don't want to wake up murdered in our beds the next morning."
Lily turns out to be very good with the camera, capturing pictures of the countryside with a skill earned through hours of listening to lectures from her godfather, Dennis Creevey, who has just been named as the new Daily Prophet photographer-in-chief. He offers to give Lily a job at the Prophet, to get her started, but she declines and continues taking picture after picture of the rolling fields around her home, of the ponds and the lakes and the wildlife.
One day, Roxanne comes to visit and finds her cousin out in the garden, muddying her new white dress as she's lying on the ground trying to capture a picture of a gnome from the floor.
"Lil, what in Merlin's name are you doing?" she enquires with astonishment. Lily swears loudly as the gnome notices Roxanne and darts away with a high-pitched chattering of anger, waving a tiny little fist over its shoulder.
Sighing, Lily picks herself up off the ground, brushing herself off and then swearing again as she notices the massive mud stain on her front.
"Godric, you've got the mouth of a sailor," Roxanne comments in astonishment, grinning as she darts forward to hug her cousin. "Missed you, Lils."
Lily swings her camera round to her back and returns her cousin's hug fiercely, grinning into Roxanne's curly dark hair. "Missed you, Rox."
"So what have you been up to?" Roxanne asks, looping her arm around Lily's shoulders as they start to wander towards the fields that the Potter's house backs on to, the long grass brushing against their bare legs like lover's fingers, catching at the hems of their dresses.
"Not much," Lily replies neutrally, holding up her camera. "Taking pictures, mostly."
"Can I see?" Roxanne asks eagerly, and Lily grins and relinquishes the device over to the other girl. She waits with uncharacteristic patience as Roxanne expertly flicks through all the pictures, enjoying the expressions darting across her face.
"Fucking hell, Lils," Roxanne says eventually, glancing up to meet her cousin's eyes, "you're bloody good."
"Thanks," Lily replies with a self-conscious smile. "I think all the lessons from Uncle Dennis helped a lot."
"Why don't you take pictures of people?" Roxanne enquires, and Lily shrugs and grins ruefully.
"I've got no-one to model for me."
"I'll model for you," Roxanne says immediately. "Then I can steal the pictures and pretend that I had them done all professionally. That'll really irritate Vic, she spent a fortune getting hers and Teddy's wedding ones done."
Lily's face clears instantly, blank and emotionless and closed.
"I bet they looked fucking perfect in every single picture. The happy couple."
Roxanne turns to face her cousin, putting her hands firmly on the other girl's shoulders and forcing her to meet her eyes.
"You need to get over it, Lils. He's moved on. He's not coming back. It's been four years."
"It's only 'cause I love you that I won't hex you," Lily comments darkly, covering up her real feelings with the easy smoothness only a Slytherin can muster, brushing a white arm across her eyes before the tears can spill over and give her away.
"I know he was your best friend, but – "
"No, Rox, you just don't get it," Lily tells her firmly. "He was everything."
"Lil, you were nine when he moved to live with Vic. It's time you got over the fact that he's replaced you."
"I don't even know him any more," she points out, and is suddenly grinning. "But I'm not going to get over it," she announces with zeal, her eyes gleaming with pure Slytherin cunning. "I'm going to get even."
Roxanne watches the light that brightens up Lily's eyes warily, and then suddenly grins.
"Well, why don't you start by taking some lovely photos of me, and then we'll do them up all professionally and make sure they're miles better than Vic's. I'll take some of you, too, then it'll be perfect."
"Oh, Rox," Lily says affectionately, grabbing her cousin into a headlock and furiously ruffling her curly hair. "I knew I kept you around for a reason."
The pictures turn out wonderfully, the light just right and the colours vibrant, and Lily is so pleased with them that she turns all her attentions to photographing people from then on. She spends hours in Muggle London, capturing photos of people when they're least expecting it and displaying them proudly to Roxanne and her godfather when they drop round.
"Lily," Dennis says to her one afternoon when they're out in the fields together, she setting up the tripod so he can take some pictures of her like he's been begging to do for weeks now. "Would you consider taking a commission?"
"Huh?" she asks, straightening up from where she'd been fastening a screw and brushing some of her messy hair out of her face. "A commission? From who?"
"From a friend of mine," he explains, moving to take over the camera, motioning her to move in front of it. She does so reluctantly as he expands on the point. "His magazine want a series of stills. They're doing a feature on heroes, and they want them all to be unmoving. You've really drawn some eyes, you know, with your photography. You're very good."
"How do they know it's me?" she inquires, tilting her head as he commands her to, the sun catching the colour of her eyes like the blaze of the northern lights. "I submit most of them anonymously."
Dennis grins as he puts his eye to the lens of the camera, focusing it carefully.
"I always know it's you. You are my favourite goddaughter, after all."
"I'm your only goddaughter," she points out legitimately, and he snaps a picture as she throws her head back in laughter at his shrugged response.
"So will you do it?" he asks once they're done and he's packing the camera away. Her brow furrows under her red hair, deep in thought, and her manner changes to businesslike.
"How much will I get for it?"
"About seven hundred galleons for the full series, if the magazine editors like them all."
Lily's jaw hits the ground with an almost audible thud, and Dennis can't help but laugh as she lets out a whoop of delight and sets off at a run, spinning dizzying circles of delight and letting her laughter dance on the calm evening air. Dennis hastily pulls out his camera – this, right here, is what he's wanted to photograph all along.
He prints out the pictures later, and sends one to Harry and Ginny. They receive it and study it in silence, almost unable to believe that the girl in the photo with her hair a fiery nimbus around her face and the massive smile on her cheeks is the same girl who's been giving them such a hard time for the last four years.
Dennis shows Lily into the studio she's been given at the magazine company to work in, his friend following him in with his hope a nearly visible aura around him – this girl is costing him a lot, but if she's half as good as Dennis makes her out to be, these pictures will be perfect.
"It's wonderful," Lily says as she examines every corner of the studio, tying her hair back into a ponytail as she turns to grin at the magazine editor and her godfather. "So which hero am I photographing first?"
She's given a list, unsurprised to see that she's related to most of the people on it, and pins it up on the wall as her first model is shown in.
She photographs Lorcan Scamander, the famous musician and husband of her cousin Lucy, with his guitar in the middle of an empty stage, the deep blue of the curtains identical to his shirt and his eyes.
He looks very small there, almost vulnerable, his head turned to the side, his long fingers clutched around the neck of the guitar as if for courage. If you look close enough, you can just make out a blonde girl with the Weasley blush tinting her cheeks smiling reassuringly at him from the wings, half of her form cast in shadow and the wedding ring on her finger catching the spotlight.
Lily labels it 'devotion' and hands it over to the board of editors well pleased.
She photographs her father next, and the situation is a little awkward as he walks in and greets her with a hug, commenting on how at home she looks behind the camera. She smiles her thanks, and photographs him half-turned from the camera, his face in shadow, just one brilliantly green eye showing, the lightening scar just visible under his messy fringe.
As she's writing the label 'mended' on the back, he's putting his jacket back on and she's struck by how old he looks, so suddenly it almost makes her stagger backwards.
"Alright, Lils?" he asks worriedly, running a distracted hand through his hair. She shrugs and half-smiles.
"Yeah. Just tired, I guess."
After all, Slytherins aren't really about open confrontation.
She photographs Lavender Finnegan next, the woman heavily pregnant under the purple dress she comes in wearing. Lily talks her into posing in a backless dress, the maze of scars on her back and neck disappearing under soft material, stretched over her baby bump.
"You're beautiful," Lily reassures her as she gets the photo she wanted – tears rising in the woman's eyes, the beholder's eye caught by the devotion and hope in her face, not the ugly mess of scars on her skin.
She calls this one 'courage', and when she hands over the picture of the woman who has so ceaselessly campaigned for werewolf equality, the editors are stunned into silence.
Charlie Weasley is next, and Lily squeals with delight when he walks in the door. He laughs and grabs her in a massive bear hug as she chatters furiously at him, asking about the dragons and her friends on the reserve in Romania, wondering how the giant lizards are doing and begging him to let her come stay with him again.
He promises eventually and manages to persuade her to get back behind the camera. She gets him to pose in an old shirt shredded by his favourite dragon. The burn scars on his skin and the medal he wears around his neck for his work with the dragons catch the lights shining on him from all around.
"See you around, Squirt," he says as he pulls his jumper back on, grabbing her for another engulfing hug before leaving with a laugh. She calls his photograph 'remembering', and few people notice the tattoo saying 'Fred', hidden as it is under a large burn.
Next in line is her mother, and Lily stoically bears all the chatter and complaints as she talks Ginny into posing outside by a lake, her head thrown back with the wind catching her carefully styled curls and tossing them back messily. The colours are all autumnal, and even Ginny is silenced when Lily proudly displays it to her.
"That's incredible, sweetheart," Ginny says quietly, reaching out almost unconsciously to draw her daughter into a hug. "I didn't realise you were that good."
Lily laughs slightly, making no move to hug her mother back. Ginny sighs and withdraws her arm, making a desperate stab at working out what is going on in her daughter's head.
"What happened to you, Lily?"
"What do you mean?" she replies carefully, moving away to mess around with her camera, angling it here and there as she avoids her mother's gaze. "Nothing's happened to me."
"I mean that year," Ginny explains, laying a gentle hand on her daughter's arm. "You went to school as happy as ever, but you came back at Christmas like a different human being. I don't even know who you are any more."
"Nothing happened," Lily replies instantly, summoning all her acting skills learned from being in Slytherin for seven years and meeting her mother's eyes neutrally. "I'm fine."
"Don't lie to me, Lily," Ginny responds firmly, using all her Gryffindor courage and experience of mothering three very headstrong children for twenty years.
"It was nothing," Lily tells her calmly, pulling her hair down to let it cascade around her face, half-hiding her expression. "Can you go now? I've got my next model coming in soon."
Ginny sighs and pulls on her coat, leaving with one last defeated look at her unfamiliar daughter.
"I miss you, Lily," she says sadly, and Lily clenches her fists and waits for her mother to leave before she can breathe again. She won't be torn down by the memories, she's determined.
Lily has been preparing to deal calmly with the next models since she first read the list almost a month ago. She takes steady, even breaths as Fleur Weasley and her daughter Victoire swan in, their Order of Merlin, First Class awards clutched in perfectly manicured fingers.
"Aunt Fleur," Lily says neutrally, gesturing the pair over to the set, making no move to greet Victoire.
"Lily, my dear, 'ow nice eet eez to see you!" Fleur exclaims, and Lily raises an eyebrow – her aunt has never been the best of actresses.
"Mmhm, sure," she replies impatiently, just wanting this whole thing over and done with before she starts screaming or hexing them or something. "Can you stand back-to-back, please?"
Victoire remains silent as she and her mother do as bidden, Fleur chattering away nineteen-to-the-dozen as though Lily actually cares about what she has to say. As Lily slides behind the camera, Victoire's blue eyes lift coolly and triumphantly to her cousin's green ones, a smug smile on her lips as she tilts her hand so her wedding ring catches the light just right.
Lily raises her eyes above the camera and smirks.
"Vic, could you possibly stand with your hands behind your back?"
Victoire does so slowly, reluctantly, seemingly infuriated by her cousin's lack of response. Lily takes the photograph of the two blonde women quickly, just wanting them out, and the light catches their hair and makes them look like the beautiful curse-breakers they've become, following in Bill's footsteps as he moves on to take charge of Gringott's.
"He's mine, now," Victoire whispers as she brushes past Lily on her way out. Lily smiles back innocently, and aims a non-verbal curse at Victoire's back as the pair leave. Victoire cannot understand why, three hours later, she develops a truly appalling case of boils and has to go to St Mungo's to get them removed.
Lily stares for a while at the picture of mother and daughter, almost identical-looking, their beauty mirrored and their sleek blonde hair meshing between them. She labels the photograph 'ugliness'.
She photographs Lysander Scamander next, Lorcan's twin brother, and she's glad it's him because he always could make her laugh when they were at Hogwarts together. She finds herself laughing properly for the first time in a while as he knocks things over with his clumsiness and great height, bringing props crashing down and almost destroying half of her lights.
"Merlin," she complains as she drags him to the centre of the set where he can't touch anything, her face lit up with laughter. "What are you, the human version of Godzilla?"
"Well, I try," he replies, and Lily grins as she goes to stand behind the camera. Her good mood quickly evaporates as she fails to take the right photograph. They're all okay photographs, but none of them feel perfect to her.
Eventually, watching her mounting frustration, Lysander neutrally suggests that they go to get a coffee. With relief, Lily loops her camera around her neck and follows him out of the door.
They sit in a muggle coffee shop for three hours, catching up on missed time and sharing stories of famous relatives – what with his musician brother and naturalist father, Lysander has a lot to live up to.
"But you've got your Order of Merlin from your work with unicorns, right?" Lily points out, elbowing him in the ribs. "It's not like you haven't already made your mark."
"But I haven't written six best-selling books or sold a million records, have I?" he retorts, grinning to take the sting out of the words, and Lily shrugs and then suddenly her face lights up.
"Do you know where we can find a unicorn?" she asks out of the blue, and Lysander nods with a puzzled expression.
"Yeah, I've got an injured one at home. He's almost fixed up now, though."
"Well, c'mon then!" she exclaims, grabbing his hand to drag him out of the café, her yellow dress fluttering around her thighs as he follows her out. They find a deserted alleyway and he apparates them to his home, grinning as she stumbles and swears at the dizziness caused by side-along apparition.
"You alright?" he asks as she rights herself with a groan.
"Yeah," she replies with a scowl, shaking her head and then forcing a smile onto her lips. "I just hate apparating, that's all. Where's this unicorn?"
"This way," he says, leading her towards a large fenced meadow at the back of his cottage. He glances sidelong down at her, grinning as a smile finds its way onto her cheeks seemingly of its own accord as the blindingly white unicorn peers interestedly at them over the fence, it's eyes wide and curious.
"He's beautiful," she says softly as he approaches the creature, smiling as it lets him stroke its nose gently.
"You want to touch him?" Lysander asks, vaulting the fence easily and landing alongside the unicorn.
"No thanks," Lily replies quickly, clambering over the fence and staying well clear of the creature. "I don't really do animals."
"I heard you're a dragon nut, though," he says curiously as he turns back towards her, squinting against the sunlight. "Or was that just another rumour?"
"No, that one's true. Let me rephrase that: I don't like any animals that don't breathe fire or try to kill you if you look at them wrong."
"Nice," Lysander says, and Lily grins and raises her camera to her eye.
"Just… I don't know, be normal with him," she says, the wind catching her dress and her hair as she stands there with the sun glinting off her camera lens. "I'll tell you when I've got the photograph I want."
It takes nearly an hour, but eventually she has the one she just knows is right. It's a very simple photograph – just Lysander with his forehead against the unicorn's, the creature's eyes closed in happiness and contentment and joy in every line of Lysander's tanned face. She names it after a Shakespearean quote, well-pleased with it. The editors later smile as they read the name 'My Kingdom for a Horse', grinning as they add it to the growing collection.
"So how would you feel about dinner one day this week?" he asks hopefully as she pulls out her wand to apparate back, her camera clutched tightly in one hand.
She half-smiles apologetically and shrugs. "Sorry, Lysander. I don't really do dates. Not since – never mind. I'd still like to be your friend, though."
"I'd like to be your friend too," he replies, and laughs as she beams and blows him a kiss. She disappears with a pop, and he sighs as he remembers that term when everything had gone wrong for her.
She'd been happy in Slytherin, content and still on peaceful terms with her family, thirteen and just starting to really draw boys' eyes. But then, for reasons unknown, Victoire had suddenly started a ceaseless campaign to get every boy Lily was interested in obsessed with her instead, making sure she was always there to greet her younger siblings and cousins at King's Cross, blazing with beauty and happiness.
Lily had no idea what was going on, but being Lily, instead of getting upset got angry, and eventually things had boiled down to a massive fight at the end of the first term of her fourth year. Lysander still wasn't entirely sure what the two girls had argued about or done to each other, but when Lily returned to school the next term she was subdued and sarcastic, impossible to talk to and harder to pity.
Everyone had tried to wheedle out of her what had happened, but all everybody knew was that neither she nor Victoire would talk to each other, and that Teddy Lupin, who had been Lily's best friend since she was born, suddenly had no time at all for the younger girl.
Lysander watches the spot where she'd disappeared and sighs mightily. If only she hadn't driven everyone away with her attitude, she might have had someone to depend on through the terms that followed when rumours (invariably begun by Victoire and handed down to Hogwarts pupils via her friends) swarmed around her like bees, destroying her reputation and leaving her outcast.
Most of her cousins had stuck loyally by her, but they didn't know who was behind the rumours and wouldn't believe it when she told them – so she'd stopped telling anybody, given up and withdrawn into herself.
Lysander had known, the whole time. But then he'd just been that Ravenclaw boy who teased smiles out of her during Charms and watched her build up her walls until she was almost unrecognisable.
He caresses the unicorn's mane almost absently as it moves up to stand next to him, his eyes still fixed on that spot.
"I could make you happy again," he tells the empty air, wishing he had the Gryffindor courage so he could tell her to her face the way he really feels. But he's always had a sneaking suspicion that her heart belongs to someone else, and he doesn't want the sting of her rejection.
Lily, unaware of the churning emotions of the man (boy) she'd left behind with his unicorn, returns to her studio to find her next models already waiting for her.
"Aunt Hermione!" she exclaims delightedly, rushing to hug the woman with a massive grin. Hermione had been one of the only adults who'd consistently refused to believe the rumours about Lily, and Lily has far more respect for her aunt than for most of the other adults she knows.
"Hey, Lils," Hermione says with a smile, hugging her niece back and feeling her thinness with worry. "How are you doing?"
"Oh, I'm surviving," Lily replies, turning to greet her uncle. "Hey, Uncle Ron."
"Lily," he responds awkwardly, hands in his pockets and his hair flopping into his face like always. Lily grins and leads them into her studio. She had originally been asked to photograph these two separately, but she'd refused for two reasons. The first had been that there were all sorts of rumours swirling around about her aunt and uncle getting a divorce, that Lily knew had no basis in truth and wanted to dispel; and the second was because seeing these two apart just seemed wrong to her on some fundamental level, like having Harry without his scar or Lorcan without his guitar.
"How do you want us?" Hermione asks, shedding her coat and hanging it up on a peg on the wall.
"Oh, just in the middle of the room, please," Lily replies, moving to stand behind the camera. She snaps a picture as Hermione turns to Ron, her face stern but her eyes dancing with laughter, as she orders him to pull himself together and act like he actually wants to be there. Ron's expression is long-suffering but amused and affectionate, one hand resting almost unnoticeably on his wife's waist.
Lily knows it's the one, but she photographs them many times more anyway. She calls that photograph 'simplicity', and sends the remainder to her aunt and uncle as a gift.
The last model takes her nearly a month to mentally prepare herself for, and when Teddy walks through her door she is already waiting behind her camera as though shielded by it, her expression blank and the Slytherin green of her dress several shades darker than her guarded green eyes.
"In the middle of the room, please," she orders with no inflection, feeling the charged resentment fire through her body as she notices the wedding ring on his finger.
"Okay," he replies just as carefully, shedding his jacket as he moves to stand in front of the camera, his hair flashing to orange as he walks. Lily recognises the colour of his distress and wonders just how long it will take him to be able to control his ever-changing hair and eyes.
"It's been a while," he comments eventually, waiting for her to fix the camera just right, his hair under control and back to a neutral brown, his eyes fixed on her face.
"Yeah," she responds with a bored tone. "Nearly five years. Vic told me never to go near you again."
"I'm amazed you obeyed her," he says, grinning half-heartedly and making a stab at regaining that easy, beloved intimacy he had with her once upon a time. She shakes her hair out of her face and – finallyfinally – meets his eyes.
"I didn't. I just gave up on you instead."
"I'm so sorry, Lils," he says, crumbling suddenly and crossing the room hastily, grabbing her small hands in his and forcing her to meet his eyes, his hair a wild yellow. "I honestly cannot tell you how sorry I am. I did something awful to Vic, and I couldn't… I wasn't… I wasn't brave enough to just end it with her like I should have done. I just did what I had to to save our relationship. I didn't see how much it hurt you, or I would have ended things right then and there."
Lily's hands are cold in his, and her face is so carefully composed she's almost a marble statue. "Could you go back to your place, please? I'm ready to take the photographs now."
"Lils, say something," he begs, ignoring her request and raising a hand to glide against her pale cheek, his fingers tangling in her fiery hair. "Please. Say you hate me, or that you never want to see me again, or something."
She frowns slightly, as though lost in thought, and when her eyes meet his again there is something dangerous and desperate held in their glittering depths, something that jolts him right to his core.
"What did you do to Vic?" she asks calmly, and Teddy's hair flushes a bright, embarrassed red.
"Let's just say that I said the wrong name at an inopportune time. I thought she would never forgive me."
"Whose name?" Lily asks, and when he doesn't answer and looks away from her, releasing her hands, she grabs his sleeve in strong fingers and repeats the question in a low, deadly voice. "Whose name?"
He raises his eyes to meet hers, so slowly it is almost agonising, and his expression dares her to understand while the green of desire starts to mesh with the red in his hair. Her eyes dart from his hair to his face, and something clicks suddenly as her face is filled with comprehension.
"I know it's sick, Lils, because you were fucking thirteen and I was twenty-four, and it hurt Vic so, so much… and I know it was wrong of me to –"
"Shut up," she breathes, and suddenly her arms are around his neck and he's staggering backwards as her lips meet his, blazing and impossible and Lily, and it feels so right that he does none of the things he should do, just kisses her back and ignores the objections his morals are making.
His hair turns completely green, and the bright colour of his desire is the exact same shade as Lily's eyes.
She doesn't say anything as they part, and he's breathing heavily as he gazes down at her, her back up against the wall without ever knowing how she got there, her hair dishevelled and her eyes dark with… love, or something.
They stand there like that for what feels like years, and Lily knows that this is wrong on so many levels because he's eleven years older than her and he's her father's godson and he's the best auror in the country and if it gets out that they've done this, that he's been in love with her since she was thirteen, then the rumours Victoire spread at Hogwarts will be nothing to the storm of media that will descend on their heads.
Lily rationalises it to herself as he bends his head to claim her in another hungry kiss – she promised to get even, right, and to take Victoire's husband off her would be the best revenge she could possibly envisage.
But then Teddy opens his eyes and they're a thousand shades of a colour she didn't know existed and she's drowning and this has nothing to do with revenge, nothing at all.
"Fuck," he says eventually, his voice rough and his breath catching, and Lily's hands are small and pale against his dark, shirt-clad forearms. "What am I going to do about Victoire?"
Lily grins suddenly, impishly, her eyes bright with amusement and satisfaction and the intoxication of his presence.
"I can kill her for you, if you like?" she suggests innocently, and her hand is already going towards her wand when he laughs and pulls her closer against him, her head against her chest and his heart beating into her ear.
"No, that's alright, thanks," he replies, and she grimaces in disappointment and loops her arms around his neck, kissing him again to stop him thinking about consequences and morality and all sorts of other unhelpful things.
She's halfway out of her dress and he's already shirtless when a knock comes at the door and Dennis' voice calls through from the other side.
"Hey, Lils, I was just wondering how you were getting on?"
Lily gives Teddy a hard shove into the centre of the set, tugging her dress back into place and yanking her hair around to hide the marks on her collarbone as her godfather walks in with a greeting for Teddy.
"You're looking frantic," he informs her as he moves over to drop a kiss on her cheek, reaching for her camera to take a look at the photographs she's taken.
"No!" she exclaims, lunging for the camera to claim it before he can. "I mean… I want them to be a surprise," she clarifies when he gives her a surprised look. Behind his back, Teddy is furiously trying to persuade his hair to switch from green back to brown.
"Oh, okay," Dennis says suspiciously, dividing his gaze between the pair with his brow furrowed and his arms crossed. "Would you mind if I sat in on this one, Lily? I haven't had a chance to yet, and this is your last model."
Teddy's eyes meet Lily's, and while her heart is thumping out a million rebellious "no"s, she nods and smiles at her godfather.
"Sure, why not? You can just sit over there."
He takes his seat, and Lily turns her attention back to Teddy. She photographs him a couple of times posing, but it's forced and awkward and she knows deep down in her gut that this isn't right.
"Can you wait here?" she asks abruptly, standing up and away from the camera. "I need to make a call."
She doesn't give either of them a chance to respond, just bolts from the room and slams the door behind herself. She leans back against the wall outside for a moment or two, trying to catch her breath and also trying desperately not to think about Teddy and Teddy's lips and Teddy's eyes and…
With a shake of her head, she moves off to find a fireplace and throws floo powder into the first one she can find. She sticks her head into the flames, calling out an address, and soon finds herself staring at a small, cosy sitting room and a pair of jean-clad legs.
"Lily!" a deep voice exclaims with delight, and Lysander kneels down to talk to her properly. "What can I do for you?"
"D'you happen to have any thestrals hanging around here?" she asks hopefully, her knees beginning to ache on the cold stone floor behind her.
His eyebrows quirk upwards in surprise, and then he grins broadly. "More photographs being taken?" he inquires, and Lily grins and shrugs, despite the fact that he can't see her shoulders.
"Maybe. So, do you have one?"
"Yeah, I do – he's got a hurt leg, though."
Lily smiles and forces her body into the fire, spinning a few times before falling onto Lysander's hearthrug. "May I please borrow him for an hour or so? I promise to be very careful with his sore leg."
She gives him a hopeful look, and he can't do anything but say yes.
"Can you see him, though?" Lysander asks as he leads her outside. "You know, so you can photograph him and stuff."
"Yes," she says firmly, and when he sneaks a glance down at her she has such a stony look on her face that he doesn't press the point. She looks up and meets his eyes, smiling suddenly. "Thanks for this, Ly. I owe you one."
He grins and takes her out to a paddock in the woodland that backs onto his house, whistling and laughing at her look of surprise when the thestral appears almost instantly out of the trees, bounding over to greet them with an odd little hop-skip gait to avoid putting too much weight on its back leg.
Lysander claps it on the neck and then carefully ties a rope around its neck, handing it over to Lily. She takes a deep breath and accepts the rope. The thestral rubs its skeletal nose against her back, and Lysander falls in love with her all over again as her face lights up and she laughs and turns to stroke its neck gently.
"He's called Mr Invisible," Lysander announces, and Lily turns to him and gives him a broad grin, suddenly darting forward to throw her arms around his neck and hug him tightly.
"Thank you so much. You're the best."
Lysander hugs her back, her form tiny in his big arms, and then gently sets her back on her feet because she's not his and from the look in her eyes it's probable that she never will be.
"Go on, your model is probably going crazy wondering where you are."
"This'll give him a shock," Lily says, her eyes glittering with deviousness, and Lysander laughs as she pulls out her wand to apparate herself and the thestral back to the photography studio.
When they arrive outside the door to Lily's studio, it takes her a good five minutes to calm the thestral down.
"You crazy animal," Lily complains to it as she pushes the door open to encounter Teddy sitting on the floor in the centre of the set looking mutinous, and her godfather leaning against the far wall looking pissed off.
"Oh, Merlin," she sighs as she leads the thestral it, untying it and giving it a shove into the middle of the set. "Have you two been arguing?"
"No," Teddy replies at the exact same moment as Dennis says, "Yes."
"Oh, thanks," she retorts, moving to push the thestral into position as Teddy clambers to his feet, his hair an angry black. "That really clears things up."
Dennis moves over to her as Teddy hides his face from Lily by stroking the thestral, and Lily protests as her godfather takes her by the arm and leads her outside.
"What the hell do you think you're playing at?" he growls once they're in the empty corridor, ignoring the rebellion in her face as she crosses her arms and glares at him. "Do you have any idea what would happen if you two were found out?"
"Oh, that's right, take Victoire's side," Lily hisses, her eyes almost glowing with her fury. "Just like everybody always does."
"I'm not taking anybody's side, Lils," he argues, his face full of exasperation as he starts to pace. "I'm worried about you. He's a famous auror, he's too old for you and, to cap it all, he's married. Married to your cousin."
"Listen, Uncle Dennis," Lily retorts firmly, laying aside everything but honesty for once, "I've been in love with Teddy since I was six years old. I don't care that he's too old. And I certainly don't care that he's married to Victoire. She's not anywhere near good enough for him."
"And he's not good enough for you," Dennis insists, grabbing her by the shoulders when she refuses to look at him. "Lils, you're such an amazing person – and he hasn't even bothered to talk to you for four years. Where was he when all that stuff started happening to you at Hogwarts, hmm?"
"I don't care about that," she replies, but she's faltering and Dennis can see it. His tone changes, becoming gentler, and Lily thinks in some detached place that he would have made a good Slytherin because he's so damn good at reading people and manipulating their emotions. Almost as good as she is, in fact.
"Give up on him, Lily," he pleads, brushing some of her hair out of her face and placing a kiss on her forehead. "You know you can do better than him."
"But I don't want to do better!" she protests, and she can feel the tears rising so she does the only thing she can think of and flees.
The knock comes on the door of her rented apartment that evening around eight o' clock, and Lily ignores it and continues staring blankly at her Muggle television, the pretty moving pictures leaving her pleasantly numb all over.
"Lily, please," the familiar voice comes through the door, "open up. I just want to talk to you."
She gets up, the scowl already lining her brow, wrapping her arms around herself in the thick jumper she stole off James a year or so ago.
"Go away, Teddy," she says tiredly as she leans against the door, feeling light and heavy all at the same time at the knowledge that he's so close, less than a metre away from her on the other side of the door.
"No. If you don't open the door I'll blast it down."
"You wouldn't dare," she retorts, her pulse quickening because he's got to be a pretty damn good spellweaver to be the top auror in the country.
She can almost hear the grin stretching out his cheeks as he says, "Try me."
She dives away from the door hurriedly as it splinters apart, rolling behind her sofa with a cry of rage as her door shatters apart.
"You arsehole!" she cries as she pokes her head up, her red hair full of splinters as he steps through the doorframe, grinning sheepishly.
"Sorry," he says, turning to face the door again. "I had a point to prove."
"Yeah?" she retorts acidly as he spells the door back together again, the splinters lifting out of her hair and flying back to their rightful place in her newly-entire front door. "What point was that?"
He whirls to face her, and for a while he just stands there silently, drinking in the sight of her in the oversized jumper and the old shorts and the messy, wavy hair.
"That I'll do anything to be with you," he says eventually, in response to the question she's almost forgotten she asked. He takes a step towards her, but she steps backwards and folds her arms, glaring at him.
"How do I know you're not here on Victoire's orders, just to fuck with me?" she inquires icily, her eyes furious but detached.
"Do you really think Vic would be willing to risk letting us be alone together in the same room?" he replies, and Lily shrugs and turns to stomp through into her kitchen, pulling a mug down from the cupboard and banging it onto the side.
"No. But then I didn't think she'd be willing to turn my entire year group against me, so there you go."
"She did what?" Teddy asks incredulously, moving through to the kitchen and leaning against the doorframe warily, his tall presence making the already-small kitchen seem even more cramped.
"What, you didn't think those rumours about me fucking every single Slytherin boy in my year were true, did you?"
"Of course not," Teddy replies instantly, honestly, and Lily watches the first signs of anger appearing as his hair gradually waxes to black. "But I never thought that it was Vic who started that rumour. She wasn't even at Hogwarts then."
"Yeah, well, nobody ever sees that side of perfect little Victoire, do they?" Lily spits at him as she waits for the water to boil for coffee, pointedly not offering him a cup. "Because she's wonderful Vic, who loves kids and has the perfect boyfriend and the perfect fucking life and who deserves it all because she's just so fucking nice."
Teddy's voice is quiet when he next speaks, and Lily doesn't dare look at him.
"Lily, do you promise me you're telling the truth about all this?" he says, and Lily feels the fury rise in her in a millisecond.
"Oh, no, Ted, I'm lying because I'm a sneaky little Slytherin who's so jealous of Victoire and her wonderful, lovely personality."
She doesn't want to cry, she really doesn't, but she can feel the tears rising because she's always nurtured the hope that Teddy, her bestbestfriendforever Teddy, would trust her like nobody else did and believe the truth.
"I believe you," he says finally, eyeing her stiff back with worry as she silently pours the water into her cafetière. "I don't want to, but I do. After all, you never lied to me when you were little, no matter how much you lied to everybody else."
"Yeah, well," she responds when she's finally got control of her breathing, still not looking at him, "You were my best friend. I could never lie to you."
Teddy doesn't reply to this, and he falls silent for so long that Lily finally pours out her coffee and turns to face him, her mug clutched between both hands. His face is torn, weary and confused and uncertain, his hair such a haze of colours it's almost painful to look at.
"It's because she was jealous of you, you know," he tells her eventually, and Lily rolls her eyes.
"Oh, sure. Victoire, the best-looking girl in our whole family – hell, the best-looking girl at Hogwarts – was jealous of me. C'mon, Ted, I'm being honest with you. The least you can do is be honest with me."
"I am being honest," he insists, and a faint smile appears to tug at the corners of his lips. "You don't see yourself clearly at all, do you?"
"I see enough to know that there's no way Victoire could be jealous of me," Lily retorts quickly, irritably pushing some of her hair behind her ear and taking a gulp of coffee. It scorches her tongue and centres her somewhat, enough to notice the look in his eyes that is definitely more than just amusement.
The thing is, Lily is being honest. She's hardly a humble girl – she's Slytherin, after all – and she knows that she's most definitely not ugly. She was considered one of the hottest girls in her year at Hogwarts, despite her attitude, and she knew it too. But she also knows that, against Victoire, she's nothing.
"Name one thing Victoire has that you don't," Teddy challenges, and Lily lifts her eyes to his and raises an eyebrow, challenging him right back.
This silences him for a while, and Lily takes another burning gulp of coffee as he thinks this through.
"But, Lils, that's one of the main reasons that she's jealous of you. Because, okay, she was the best-looking girls at Hogwarts, but she still didn't outshine you, especially to me. She had all the boys in Hogwarts falling over themselves to go out with her – but then any boys she brought home would spend their time wanting to be friends with you. So they wanted to go out with her, but despite how she acts all she really wants is to be liked for who she is, not how she looks."
"Oh, yeah, sure," Lily retorts, but she's actually curious to hear Teddy's appraisal of Vic – she's always considered herself a fairly good judge of character, but with Victoire she seems to have got it pretty much totally wrong, which she's not happy about.
"No, really," Teddy insists, and he gets bolder and takes a step towards her, close enough for her to see the honesty in his eyes. "She was jealous of you because with one smile you always had me completely captivated. And you know how possessive she gets – she couldn't bear that you were my best friend because you were so much younger and so different to her. Plus I think she always knew, deep down, how I felt about you."
"She's such an idiot," Lily fumes as she takes another mouthful of coffee, trying to hide her astonishment. This is Victoire, laid bare for her, and Lily finds herself actually pitying the other girl. "She was married to you, for Merlin's sake. Why did she have to drive all my friends at Hogwarts away from me?"
"She had to beat you," Teddy replies simply, and now he's so close that she can feel the heat radiating from his body, see every line of stubble on his chin. "You were a challenge to her, and she had to prove she was better than you. More popular, prettier, cleverer… but she wasn't, you know. And it infuriated her."
"How can she think that I was challenging her?" Lily exclaims in exasperation, banging her empty mug down onto the side and feeling close to tears with the annoyance of it all. "I was just me!"
Teddy smiles sadly down at her, then very gently takes her shoulders and spins her around so she can see herself reflected in the window, the lights of the city sparkling in the night below.
"Look at yourself, Lils, and tell me that she wouldn't feel threatened by you."
Lily gazes at the girl in the window, at the messy red curls and the grass-green eyes – but mostly she gazes at Teddy, at how right it looks with him standing there behind her, his hands on her shoulders and his eyes on hers.
"You're such an idiot," she says, repeating her words from earlier, and then suddenly he's spinning her around and crushing his lips onto hers, his mouth hungry and desperate against hers. As he lifts her up so her legs are around his waist, seating her on the kitchen counter, she fists her hands in his hair and smiles slightly into the kiss.
"What?" he asks as he breaks apart from her, his chest heaving as she toys affectionately with the short hair at the back of his neck.
"I just never had you pegged for an adulterer, that's all," she informs him, and he laughs and slides his palm against her flushed cheek, the skin rough and callused and electric.
"Well, you never had me pegged to marry somebody who wasn't you, did you?" he retorts, and she laughs and shrugs and then pulls his head back down to hers again.
She wakes up before him the next morning, and she just lies there with her head pillowed on his chest, her hair splayed out over them both, and revels in listening to his heartbeat and the gentle rise and fall of his breathing.
He mumbles something in his sleep, the arm around her waist clutching her tighter as his hair shifts to the exact same colour as hers. She watches him for a little while longer, liking the way her pale hand contrasts against his tanned skin when she splays it over his heart.
Eventually she wriggles carefully out of his grasp – she's always been a morning person and she knows that he'll sleep until midday if he can, so she manages to slide out of his grasp and grabs his discarded shirt off the floor, pulling it on before heading into the kitchen to get some coffee.
She twists her hair up into a bun as she waits for the water to boil, yawning absently into her hand. Once she has her coffee, she goes out into the sitting room and discovers her camera sitting on the table by the door.
The note attached to it simply says 'be careful,' and she recognises her godfather's handwriting with a stab of worry. Thankfully she picks her camera up, hanging round her neck where it belongs, feeling its familiar weight settle against her stomach with deep relief.
A sudden knock at the door distracts her, and she darts to peer through the spyhole before opening the door cautiously, praying that Teddy will either stay asleep or do the sensible thing and stay hidden in the bedroom.
"Morning, sis!" James says cheerily, bounding into the apartment with a big grin on his face, grabbing her for a hug before releasing her and heading into the kitchen to help himself to tea – she's always been the only coffee drinker in the family.
"So how's my favourite little Slytherin this morning?" he asks brightly as he waits for the kettle to boil, eyeing her rumpled appearance with a somewhat suspicious expression.
"What are you doing here, James?" she retorts, crossing her arms and leaning against the door frame, gazing at him with equally suspicious eyes.
"Oh, just checking in on my estranged baby sister – isn't that Teddy's shirt?" he inquires, reaching out to tweak the collar as she slaps his hand away.
"No," she lies easily, glaring at him. "What do you really want?"
She thanks Merlin that Al is the perceptive one in their family as James apparently dismisses whatever thoughts had been running through his head, pouring himself out his tea as he grins down at her.
"As odd as it seems, I did actually just come here to see how you were. How's your photography thing going?"
"Great, actually," Lily informs him, following him through to the sitting room and throwing herself onto the sofa while he makes himself comfortable in her armchair. "I've just got Teddy's picture left to do."
James smirks into his mug, his eyes bright with amusement over the rim. "I'm sure that won't be at all awkward," he reassures her sarcastically, ducking when she throws a cushion at him.
"Have you heard how him and Vic are doing recently?" she asks innocently, her green eyes wide with false virtuousness when he raises an eyebrow at her.
"I haven't actually spoken to him recently, but apparently Vic's getting annoyed because she wants kids and he's not ready yet."
Lily cannot help the massively smug grin that spreads onto her lips, and James frowns.
"Lily, what –"
"Lils, have you seen my – oh, hi, James," Teddy says, halting abruptly as he appears out of the bedroom, mercifully wearing trousers as James' jaw hits the ground.
"Oh, excellent," Lily says smoothly, bounding to her feet and beaming at Teddy, her eyes begging him to just go along with it. "Are you ready to start?"
"Start what?" James demands, leaping to his feet and dividing his gaze suspiciously between the pair. "Lil, what in the name of Merlin's saggy y-fronts is going on?"
"Salazar, James, how old are you?" Lily demands as she goes over to drag Teddy into the middle of the room. "I thought we'd give the photography an early start this morning – I've got a date this afternoon so I need to try to get this finished before them."
"Date?" James and Teddy say at exactly the same time, and James is looking more and more confused as Lily raises her camera to her eye with a wink at Teddy.
"Smile," she says, and James suddenly cannot bear it any longer.
"What the fuck is going on?" he yells, and Teddy instinctively moves to shield Lily from her brother's anger. Lily pushes him aside impatiently, moving up to place her hands on James' arms, staring up into his face as he grows redder and redder.
"James, calm down. There is nothing going on. Teddy and I are taking pictures, that's all. What else do you think would be going on?"
James studies her face closely as she keeps it blank and innocent, smiling reassuringly up at him.
"You promise me that's all that's going on?" he asks, and Lily nods firmly.
"Yes, James, I promise."
James sighs and his shoulders sag with relief.
"Thank Godric for that," he says with a grin, hugging Lily again. "I'd have hate to have to beat you up, mate," he says over Lily's head to Teddy, who shrugs and grins sheepishly. He's never been a good liar, so he leaves it up to Lily to do the lying for him.
"Right, I must dash," James says as he slurps the last of his tea, ruffling Lily's hair and mock-punching Teddy as he makes his way over to the door. "Got myself a hot date."
Lily snorts disbelievingly, and James grins and winks as he pauses in the doorway.
"You just wait and see, little sis," he warns, and Lily waves her wand and causes the door to slam shut in his smirking face.
"Fuck, that was close," Teddy complains, collapsing into the armchair and running a tired hand over his face, his hair a worried pink. "Imagine if I'd forgotten to put trousers on."
"You do that often, do you?" Lily teases, dropping into his lap and snuggling up under his chin. His arms wrap around her as he presses a kiss to her fiery hair, breathing in her sweet Lily scent and thanking Merlin for giving her to him.
"So what's this date you've got this afternoon?" he inquires in a deceptively light voice, and Lily laughs and pretends to slap him on the arm.
"Well, I thought we might take a trip to the park," she suggests with a smile. "I can try to get some photos."
"Don't take the right one too quickly," he warns as she slides out of his lap to go and get dressed. "Otherwise I'll have to invent new excuses to spend time with you."
In the months that follow it is only too easy for them to meet each other often under the guise of taking the perfect photograph. Victoire grows steadily more suspicious and eventually she drops in one afternoon to the photo studio to see how they're getting on.
Thankfully, they're actually working on the photographs that afternoon, and Victoire swans in to find Teddy jumping around on the set like a lunatic with Lily behind the camera snapping photo after photo, a massive beam on her face.
"Vic," Teddy exclaims when he finally notices her standing there, stumbling forward as though he's been shoved from behind.
"Afternoon, Teddy," she says with a smile, ignoring Lily. "How's the photography going?"
"Great, thanks," he replies, his arm contorting strangely in mid air as he grins easily at her. "Mr Invisible is really enjoying himself, as you can see."
"Mr who?" Victoire asks in confusion, scowling as Lily moves up onto the set and stands next to Teddy, her hand running along something invisible that is obviously standing in between them.
"You mean you can't see him?" Lily asks with false amazement, turning to face whatever-it-is. "It's okay, honey, it's not that she doesn't like you – she just can't see you."
"See who?" Victoire demands, getting gradually more annoyed, and Teddy grins reassuringly at her.
"Mr Invisible," he clarifies, and Victoire's brows almost meet in the centre of her forehead.
"He's a thestral," Lily says, finally putting her cousin out of her misery, and Victoire's scowl deepens as the younger girl shares a conspiratorial grin with her husband.
"You can see thestrals?" Victoire asks, crossing her arms and tossing her hair. "Did you kill someone or something?"
Lily laughs and seems to hug something, maybe the thestral's nose.
"No – don't you remember that guy who tried to steal me from dad when I was little? He was an ex-Death Eater apparently. Dad killed him."
Victoire rolls her eyes, and switches her attention to her husband, noticing and hating the fact that the two seem to be as close now as when Lily was little. She's not too stupid to notice, however, that something minute seems to have shifted between them.
"Teddy, could I talk to you for a moment? In private," she clarifies when neither of the pair move, and Lily shoots a grin at Teddy and moves off the set, calling to Mr Invisible and disappearing out of the door saying something about raw meat.
Lily gives them ten minutes before heading back to the studio, Mr Invisible most satisfied with the massive hunk of raw beef he practically inhaled.
"You're such a greedy beast," Lily complains to him as she pushes the door to the studio open, and stops dead as she finds Teddy sitting alone on the floor in the middle of the set, a white hand print against his scarlet cheek. He looks up at her, his hair a bright turquoise, his face expressionless.
"I think my marriage is over," he says blankly, and Lily doesn't dare to breathe as he sits there for a little while, pensively.
"I'm sorry," she ventures eventually, yet another lie in this never-ending masquerade, and then very suddenly he's grinning and she's remembering that turquoise is his happy colour.
"I'm not," he replies firmly, and all of a sudden he's on his feet and she's in his arms as though they were never apart. "Now I can tell the world that you're mine."
They get married a year later, and what Lily had originally thought would be a small ceremony turns into a massive circus, hundreds of people pitching up to watch the country's top auror marry Harry Potter's only daughter, the media kicking up a storm and telling tales of rivalry, the Potter-Weasley clan split right down the centre.
But the whole family is there, and looking happy, because Victoire's found another man and besides, everybody always knew deep down that Teddy would end up with Lily.
Lily has Roxanne as her maid of honour, and Teddy has James as his best man. They feel they owe it to him after lying to him that one morning so long ago, and as Lily walks up the aisle with her father by her side she can see James' smug, I-knew-I-was-right smirk out of the corner of her eye.
As a wedding present from her godfather, Lily receives a portfolio of the final selection of photos she took. She flicks through them during the reception, smiling fondly at Lorcan and Lucy, at her parents, at Lysander and Lavender and Charlie, at her aunt and uncle, even at Fleur and Victoire.
She gets to Teddy's photo, and he smiles as he loops an arm around her waist and gazes down at it with her. In the photo he's shirtless, the set dark and his body cast into shadow. To most people, he seems to be reaching out into the darkness, nothing to touch but empty air.
But to some, like Lily and Teddy and her parents, he's got his hand on the arching neck of a huge thestral, its wings outspread and dominating the photograph, a redheaded, green-eyed girl reflected in its great eyes.
"Love you," he murmurs into her ear, and she laughs and turns her head to claim him in a kiss.
"Love you too."
The photograph wins many awards and goes on over the following years to be used in all sorts of things – even though the majority of people can't see the thestral, knowing it's there makes the photo all the more magical – and Lily and Teddy pin it to the wall of their new cottage, laughing as their baby son crawls over to demand their attention, his hair a shocking purple as he babbles nonsense at them.
A/N: Well, that turned out longer than I expected. Happy birthday again, Char!
Please don't favourite without reviewing, thank you.