Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter. I do however own this sucky fic.

Happy Birthday, Ellie.

And Happy Belated Birthday, Charlotte.

He threads his fingers through the beautiful gold curls of Victoire's hair and thinks of summers in France and blonde, perfect children with ever-changing eyes and cute button noses. He thinks of eating croissants and sipping black coffee and of delicate seduction. Her fingers find their way to the buttons on his shirt and he steadily chants in his head, "Don't say Lily! Don't say Lily!" and feels like such a monster because, really, he's eleven years older and that makes it wrong.

He gathers Lily in for a hug, his hands resting lightly on her waist—so feather light that he misses the shudder—and he thinks of being nineteen, when his best friend was eight with sunflowers braided into her tangle of red hair and sparkles in her eyes. He thinks of the taste of Butterbeer on a cold night, and being tossed into pond, fully dressed and of innocence. She giggles and swats him away, "Oh, Teddy, go away," she laughs. ("Pleasepleaseplease stay," she cries to herself.) But she makes him happy, and he loves her, so that makes it right.

He reasons that Lily Lupin doesn't flow just right anyways (but he can't stop whispering it, and the words float away and leave a bitter aftertaste on his tongue and feels so stupid for wanting moremoremore). Victoire Lupin sounds (like a joke) better.

Really, he thinks, eleven years is more than a decade and she's more like a sister. (But what kind of brother thinks of his sister dressed in nothing but moonlight, anyways?) Plus, Harry would hurt him. (He only wants the best for his baby. Teddy could be the best for Lily.)

"Please tell me you're not going to marry her?" Lily demands, hands on skinny hips. "Teddy, you can't."

"I have to Lily, I have to …" he murmurs, looking down at her face in the near darkness of the cupboard. "I have no choice."

"Why would you marry her, Ted?" Lily whispers, tiny beads of tears on her lashes (and she almost digs her nails into her thigh because she's a Slytherin, dammit, why is she crying?) shimmering.

("Because she's not you.") "Because I want to."

"Do you love her, Teddy Lupin?" Lily snarls, narrowing her eyes.

Teddy's never been a good liar—especially not to Lily, his Lily, Lilypad and Lily of the Valley—but he gathers every stitch of himself and says through clenched teeth with all the chill he can muster, "I do not love you."

She flinches like she's been slapped, and closes her eyes. "Pinky promises mean nothing, I guess."

The heartbreak in her voice almost kills him—she's this new Lily, and she feels nothing. But sometimes, when he's lucky, there's some flash of some secret something saved in her eyes, just for him. Maybe a secret smile, or a rare laugh.

Now there is nothing.

"I hope you're happy," hangs in the air after her, and Teddy stands there and listens to her voice echo until the voice doesn't even sound like Lily and there is nothing left for his subconscious to cling to.

He remembers being eighteen, sitting with his too-long legs folded so he can fit into the tiny blanket fort made by a seven-year-old Lily Potter with three tiny poppies behind her ear, his voice barely a whisper. Hers is softer as she murmurs, "Love you, Ted," with a faint blush on her cheeks.

"Love you more, Lil," he whispers back, grinning.



"Pinky promise," she says seriously, "that way stupid Alice-with-the-red-hair can't have you and you'll always be my best friend."

"Pinky promise," he nods, and holds out his right pinky so she can wrap her tiny one around it.

"It's settled then. I now pronounce us Teddy Lupin and just-Lily, bestest friends forever until the end of time," she says with all the solemnity of a seven-year-old.

Victoire meets the bridesmaids for a fitting and is shocked to see her cousin Lily. Her skirt is miles too short, and her hair is curled into loose waves which cascade down her almost completely bare back and she carries her body like her crown but it's so broken that she makes a sham of a queen, despite her silently furious beauty.

She's chosen a simple cheesecake colour for her bridesmaids—and she and Molly giggle as the girls try them on. Lily, she notes, wears her dress with a certain vulnerable glamour which makes her stand out and shine. Victoire thinks she might be a very pretty star, burning brightly but too far away to touch—even to graze one's fingers against. She has the sort of disposition of a woman who has suffered great loss.

Teddy watches her float down the aisle, less gracefully than her cousins and a bit faster, her eyes closed and her bouquet of flowers clutched a bit too tightly and thinks that she is stunning. Her hair is curled loosely and left down, unlike the other bridesmaids, and maybe the she is a brass stud compared to the cut diamond of Victoire, but the light catches her just right then and he thinks ohgodhe'sfuckedupnowhasnthe?

He carries his bride off on their honeymoon and it is perfect and she gets drunk on their fancy wine and has sex with one of the guys from the band who takes her to get the word 'promise' tattooed onto the inside of her pinky finger.

The brightest stars are violent delights, and violent delights have violent ends.

Oh the utter rambly-ness of this stupid fic is so … ugh. It sucks. And the very last line was totally unrelated and just … blech. And this fic itself … they didn't even end happy. I. Suck. And that's that.

But, happy birthday to Ellie … and happy belated birthday, Charlotte. (I'm sorry I'm a sucky person, Char. But, yeah. This is a long overdue birthday greeting. I suck.)