Disclaimer: Nothing is owned by me.
Warning: Beware of language.
this salvation does not come easily
I am not the kind of girl
who should be rudely barging in on a white veil occasion
but you are not the kind of boy
who should be marrying the wrong girl.
( taylor swift )
See, it all starts with a ring. It's a lovely diamond ring, that sparkles magnificently when the light hits it just right. The stone is large enough to be noticed, but not too heavy to be sported around everywhere, just begging to be sighed at and be jealous of.
It's the kind of ring that you see through the window of one of those high-class jewelry stores that won't even let you in unless you're wearing a big brand name. The kind that seems to be straight from a fairytale book that your mum read to you before you fell asleep, dreaming of Prince Charming and glass slippers and feeling pretty. It's the ring you see on the girl with the same boyfriend since third year whose wedding everyone is looking forward to. It's the ring you see in one of those cheesy movie, where the girl kisses the boy in the rain but doesn't have a hair out of place. It's the ring that's synonymous to true love.
It's the definition of perfection. It's beautiful, really. There's not a thing wrong with it.
Except for the fact that it's on her finger.
The space outside the church smells like strawberries, which is not an entirely unpleasant scent, but when drowned in, it's suffocating enough to stir up that spinning feeling inside your stomach that makes you want to vomit.
I smooth down the ruffles on my dress for the umpteenth time and hook my arm through Roxanne's, feeling awfully brave for a Slytherin wearing a green dress that, when paired with my hair, makes me look like Christmas in the middle of August. The pews are already full, and we sit in the Weasley side.
For once, I feel as though I stand out in my family, despite the fact that our different shades of red hair blends together to make a rainbow of scarlet.
No one pays much mind to me, really. Louis throws a rose at me as a greeting; Dom waves at me shamelessly from a cracked-open window on the second floor, where I presume the bridesmaids and - dare I say it? - bride are getting ready. Roxanne squeezes my hand, the slight blush on her cheeks bringing out the dark freckles that sprinkle her complexion.
"Is it normal that I feel like I'm about to lose my breakfast?" I choke out softly. Hugo, beside me, nudges my side in pity.
Roxy's face twists into a sympathetic expression that, well, makes me feel pathetic. "Well, just take a look at Mr. Groom-to-be over there," she says, throwing her chin to the front. I turn, and see Teddy's hair taking on a sickening olive green, and his face beginning to match it. He avoids everyone's gazes, even James', his best man.
I imagine what it would be like if it was our wedding. If I was up there on the second floor, with people organizing my curls into some kind of fancy-schmancy up-do that would only be ruined by the end of the day. If it was my friends in the pews. I wonder if there would be someone in the crowd who was planning what I was planning. I wonder, maybe, if I had been marrying someone else, would Teddy have the courage to enter this room with what I've got on my mind. I wonder if I'll ever get married if I don't go through with this.
Deep down, I take much pleasure in knowing that Teddy would not have that look on his face if it was me he was marrying.
(No, I don't believe being a good person is one of my many assets.)
The wedding music, floating through the room, originating from a humongous grand piano at the front of the room, sounds beautiful to probably everyone sitting on these glossy brown benches.
To me, it sounds like a death march.
Roxanne keeps whispering in my ear, telling me to be strong, to not cry, to have the courage not to take out my wand this very minute and curse Victoire into looking like a toad. Because that's not fair and this is Vic's moment and bad things have to happen for life to happen.
The boys and the girls come out and yes, it's very fun to look at them, all fancied up in their white dresses and black tuxedos but I can't help but feel as though someone has died. Dominique exits, her arm hooked in James, and they make a handsome twosome, Dom in a short lacy dress and white flats; James wearing a shiny black tuxedo with a thin, soft-looking tie.
And then Victoire steps out carefully, looking fragile, and everyone stands. Which is one of those dumb unspoken rules, because really, I'm barely over five feet and I have to stand on my toes, despite my wearing heels, to see.
Victoire looks very pretty, with the torso of the dress made of lace, then cinching at her waist and ballooning into satiny fluff. Her blonde hair is piled on top of her head complexly, looking as though one push from the breeze outside could knock her whole head off her neck. I busy myself with imagining that for a few seconds.
But seconds go by so fast that I cannot even hear the clock ticking anymore.
Everything goes by like a blur to me. People stand to speak, the pastor says words that I cannot understand, and a baby cries somewhere on Teddy's side. Rose stands from her spot and exits hand in hand with Scorpius Malfoy, Draco and Astoria looking mutinous. Roxanne doesn't even bother looking at them. I envy her self control.
A boy with short black hair and a cute grin winks at me from across the aisle. I meet his eyes, and then look at the groom. He stares into space, a frown on his face too serious for this occasion.
Since when is my life a Muggle movie?
Everything happens too quickly.
I am sitting in my seat, running through the words over and over in my head, tasting them on the tip of my tongue. Teddy, I will say, I love you ,and I always will. I don't care if you don't love me back, but I can't watch you marry someone who's completely wrong for you.
I will go on about how we've known each other for forever and I tell him my secrets and vice versa. And how I know his hair turns the colour of my eyes when he sleeps and how he knows sometimes I say his name in my own slumber. And I'll tell him why I love him and he'll remember why he loves me and everything will go right, for once.
But the pastor is already clearly saying, "Or forever hold your peace," when I come to and realize what's happening.
Silence, and then the clicking of my heels as I shakily stand. Roxanne's eyes widen, and her fingers reach up to tug me back down but I pull away from her, stepping away from everybody. I feel stares at me, jaws dropping, gasps, maybe even someone fainting. Victoire's face glows with anger as she turns to face me. Teddy can't look me in the eye.
I open my mouth but everything is dry. I feel like an idiot. Everything was all planned out, all the words ready to come tumbling out. But now, at my chance, I say nothing.
"I'm sorry, Teddy," I croak, my voice cracking. "I… I can't."
He turns then, so fast that I think I'm imagining it at first
And then I run. I run as fast as I can. I stumble over my own feet and finally I slip off my heels and sprint, exiting through the open doors and into the fresh air, the only sound I leave behind the thud of my heels hitting the wood floors. The church is dead silence.
Outside, engulfed by the smell of strawberries, I throw up into a rosebush, and then run again.
I sit outside on a bench, in the Muggle park seventeen blocks away. My feet ache from running barefoot, and I'm quite sure I got stung by a bee somewhere by my elbow. My dark green dress makes me feel frumpy, and grandmas stare at me disapprovingly, holding the hands of their grandchildren. A kid, probably about seven, walks by and gives me a look. I stick my tongue out at them and watch them run away, crying hysterically as though I gave them a death threat.
I'm so enraptured in the beauty that is being one of those future-lonely-cat-ladies that I don't even hear him sit down next to me on this stupid, noise-absorbing bench.
Again, read that line about my life being a Muggle movie.
"You should've been an actress," his voice tells me gently, "Lily Potter."
I cough awkwardly, not even bothering to look him in the eye. "Teddy," I reply, "don't you have a wedding to attend?"
"Not anymore," he sighs, shrugging. "See, I think that wedding was cancelled when some oddball girl stood up in the middle of it and told me she 'couldn't' or something. The riff-raff they let in these days."
Jesus. Where were this kid's parents? They need to teach him some manners.
"Asshole," I snarl, and make to leave, but a broad hand snatches my wrist before I can stand.
"I'll let you leave," he interrupts as I open my mouth to swear, "but I want to know something first."
And then he tugs me into him roughly, runs his free hand into my hair, and presses his lips against mine. Everything is want and need and it's not gentle, but it doesn't hurt. In fact, nothing's felt more right. The kiss goes by too fast and before I know it I'm breathing air again and I've never been so angry at that fact.
"Lily," he breathes, and I can't believe anything anymore.
He leans in again, slowly, with eyes that are black and hair that's an almost-silly shade of green until I realize it's my eyes. He looks like a man bat out of a happy ending and that's when it hits me; he is. He's the boy out of my princess books, the man who was born to sweep girls off their feet and kiss them mindless like this.
And I also realize: this is not the man from my happy ending.
He is someone else's. He is someone else's and I took him away. He let me take him away.
I pull away from him so abruptly that this perfect moment shatters. "How could you?" I gasp. My eyes don't fill with tears, and my breathing stays calm, my face collected. But inside, everything has fallen out of its place, everything is wrongwrongwrong and it feels like time is running out.
I stand up and he doesn't reach for me again. "Lily, come on, don't do this," he pleads, standing with me, and follows as I stomp away, not even bothering to remember my ridiculously expensive heels, left laying on the pavement. "Lily, please, I love -"
Spinning on my heels, my hand comes as such a shock that he doesn't even flinch with a slam it against his cheek. His hair turns an angry scarlet. "Don't," I say harshly, and leave.
He doesn't come after me anymore.
I return later in the middle of the night, when everyone is asleep and everyone refuses contact with me for ruining the wedding of the century. Unfortunately, my mum, Roxy, Hugo, and Dom haven't received that memo, because on my answering machine at home there are fifty gazillion messages, each finding a new way to say the same thing. "You've made a big mistake."
The park is dark, and gloomy. The trees sway with the cold wind, looking threatening. I sit on the same bench where so many things happened at once. My heels are gone from the floor. Nothing remains from that moment. It's almost as though it never happens.
My cell phone lights up. Teddy's name is not on the screen. I ignore it.
The days that follow are something like hell. Sunday is unproductive. I stay in bed for the most part, my eyes smeared with the makeup that I never bothered to remove and my feet aching with new blisters. When I let myself wake up at about two in the afternoon, I drink half a bottle of wine and go back to bed. I wake again at ten at night and nurse a headache and emptying my answering machine without listening to any of the messages. I heat up one of those instant macaroni and cheese packets, drink another glass of wine, and go back to sleep tipsy.
Monday morning doesn't go nearly as well. I wake up at seven in the morning to banging on the door, accompanied with two bossy voices. I open the door without bothering to look through the window first and am greeted with Roxy's tan, concerned face and Dominique's pale, irritated one.
"Who the hell do you think you are, Potter?" Dominique cries, outraged. "We've been worried sick about you. Rox and I have been calling every other bloody hour, afraid you'd killed yourself!"
I respond with a blank expression. "Sorry I've been a bit too busy with my now nonexistent love life to give a shit," I sigh back, and then slam the door in their faces.
Roxy's gentle voice is what I hear next. "Look, Lil, Dom is sorry," she begs, "we've just been really, really, genuinely worried, Lily. You've got to open the door. Come on, Lily, just open the door. You need someone to talk to right now and if there's anyone you should talk to, honey, it's us. We're your best friends and we're your cousins and we're here for you."
Reluctantly, I unlock the door and Roxanne opens it, a doubtful-looking Dom following behind her. I ignore them, stumbling into the kitchen where I pour a cup of coffee and down it quickly, then bury my face in the crook of my elbow.
"I feel like such a dumbass," I confess, "for doing what I did."
Dominique, giving me a sympathetic look, comes over and wraps an arm around my shoulder. "Oh, Lily-dear, it's only reasonable that you should," she says soothingly, "because you are a dumbass."
Roxanne glares at her, then joins her at my side to pat my back.
"What I mean, is, that what you did was dumb," she corrects quickly, smiling goofily, "but everything is going to go back to right. Swear."
"I know, I know," I sigh, and start to make another pot of coffee as Roxanne goes to look in the fridge for something to make. "I just… I wish I'd never done that. I wish that I'd never even gone to the wedding. Then none of this crap would've happened."
Dominique stops rubbing my shoulders and Roxanne slams the door to the fridge. "What do you think you're a dumbass for, Lily?" Dominique asks, her face contorted in confusion.
"For interrupting Teddy and your sister's wedding, of course," I reply without missing a beat, not suspecting anything.
"But -" she starts again, but Roxanne puts a hand out to stop her.
"No," Roxanne says, "let him tell her himself. She'll find out soon enough and it'll be better if she gets everything in slowly."
I argue and try to make them tell me but they've got strong Weasley will. Finally, I give up and sit back down, defeated. Roxanne makes vegetarian lasagna for breakfast and stays until twelve, when she leaves for her internship at St. Mungo's. Dom and I watch funny-but-inappropriate movies while she's gone, and when she returns Dominique reluctantly treats us to burgers for dinner and they sleep over. We play board games and drink hot chocolate like we're eight, nine, and ten again, and I pretend like I don't think of Teddy.
(But I see him in the corny movies, I seem him in the plastic pieces from the board games, and I see him in every breath I take, in every daydream I engage in.)
When I wake up on Tuesday at about eleven in the morning, Dominique is gone, a note in her place saying that she had some errands to run but would come back Thursday to check on me. I heat up the remains of Roxanne's lasagna and watch The Breakfast Club.
I guess I'd dozed off (or fallen back into heavy sleep, more like) because I awake in darkness, with an owl pecking at my knee.
"Fuck you, owl," I snarl, and snatch the ripped note on its leg before swatting it away. It hoots at me angrily and craps on my good rug. This is why I'm into dragons and not owls.
The note is scrawled in messy handwriting; I can barely distinguish the a's from the d's. Lils - big party at that Wizarding club where we had Penelope's 17th birthday. Be there or be a Muggle. Love, Evangeline.
Evangeline Nott? I eye the note in my hand suspiciously. She'd been in Slytherin with me, a year older. She had a big mouth, a big reputation, big hair, and a small brain. But always available for a fun night out.
I eye the clock on my wall. Ten. It's late, and a Tuesday, but what the hell. It's not like I've got anything better to do with my life.
I doodle back a, See you there, and hand it carelessly to the owl, who nips at my wrist and flies away before I can throw something heavy at it.
Me? I go to my closet and find one of those dresses that never fail to drop jaws.
It all happens much too fast.
I drink a lot. I've only just turned eighteen and I wasn't much of a drinker anyway, but I drink a lot and everything goes to my brain, goes to my heart. Firewhiskey and Muggle beer and even a bit of Butterbeer and I'm smashed, and every boy I see looks everything and yet nothing like Teddy.
One of them, sitting at the bar with a boy and a girl as company, stares at me, smirking. His eyes are a dark, dark blue, and his hair is blond and short. He's lean, but I see clearly-defined muscles on his arms, hinting at some kind of Quidditch training. I like the way he looks at me, in my short black dress and messy ponytail. I dance and shake my hips because a long time ago, I was good at this, and this is the kind of skill that doesn't fade with time.
Before I know it, his hands crawl across my hips and his face is near mine. "Andrew," he murmurs, his mouth smelling like alcohol and chewing gum, "but people call me Andy. I've never seen you here before."
I smile and don't meet his gaze. It's something like revenge for a boy who won't look at me this way ever again. I'm an opportunist. "Lily," I whisper, and thank God that my father had kept my face out of the press when I was younger, and I don't care that it's a quote from a movie I can't even remember, I say, "Maybe you weren't looking."
The time that passes between that exchange and now is blurry. I remember dancing, and I remember saying goodbye to Evangeline, and I can just barely recall the dizziness that came with Apparating us to my flat, and then somehow we ended up on my bed with his body weighing mine down and it's never felt so wrong but I think of Teddy now.
I think of Teddy and his laugh. I think of the way his hair looks when he's thinking, and the colour his eyes take on when I talk to him. I think of the way his hands feel in mine, rough but reassuring, and I think of how he smells straight out of the shower. I think of his favourite bands and the songs he sings when he thinks no one is listening. I think of the shirts he throws on without looking at and yet manages to make look fabulous. I think of the way he makes me feel like I'm falling, and the way he catches me every time. And once, for only a split second, I let myself remember the way he tastes.
But those are the kinds of things I'm not supposed to think of anymore.
Andy's hands press against my body carelessly. He whispers dirty things in my ear and I've never wanted to take a shower more in my whole entire life.
"What's your name again?" he murmurs, his lips against my bare neck, and then I don't know how I hadn't noticed but I'm already half-naked and counting.
I feel scared. I feel like I'm in second year again and innocent but learning. I feel helpless, and I feel like I'm about to die if I go through with this. "Lily," I choke out, "Lily Potter."
He stops moving and then rolls off of me, his eyes glowing in this dim light. "What?"
"I'm Lily Potter," I breathe, "Lily Luna Potter."
"Merlin," he says, and swears under his breath as he begins to gather his clothes. "Lily fucking Potter. Of course." He looks up and gives me the ugliest look. "You enjoy that, don't you? Trying to get guys to sleep with you when you're really just trying to get them killed."
It's so funny that instead of bursting into laughter at the comedy of this unexpected situation, I feel my eyes fill with moisture. "No," I sigh, "I really don't."
"Whatever," Andy No-last-name snarls, and flashes me his middle finger. "Go to hell, will you?" He storms out my bedroom door and I don't feel assured until I hear the slam of my front door, shaking the whole flat.
Then, I slip on an old shirt of Teddy's in my closet that still smells of his cologne. I curl up on my bed, tug the collar of the shirt to my nose, and I try to fall asleep.
I don't think I can ever sleep again.
Whoever's stroking my hair is very good at it. Their hands are so soft, and their singing so sweet. I wish that I could just stay like this forever.
Except for the fact that I just realized HOLY SHIT SOMEONE IS STROKING MY HAIR.
I jump away and open my eyes, reaching for my wand on my bedside table when I realize that it's Victoire, sitting on the side of my bed, her hand still suspended in the air from when she'd been stroking my hair.
I keep reaching for my wand and keep it close.
"Lily," she sighs, and she hasn't got makeup on and her hair is down in a long French braid, "what's happened to you?"
My lips part to reply, but they're cracked, and I'm parched. I start to talk but all that comes out is a long, shuddering sigh, and then suddenly, I'm horrified to find that tears are running down my cheeks and I can't talk. I tremble and my shoulders shake and I'm falling apart at the seams in the arms of the girl whose husband I love.
"Shh, shh, honey," Victoire whispers, and rubs my back as I cry and cry and cry, my tears probably ruining her expensive blouse, "everything will be okay, sweetie. Everything will be okay."
Life is twisted.
Pink manicured nails are spooning soup into my mouth. In-between spoonfuls, I sip at a hot cup of coffee, and my headache goes away second-by-second, made better by a convenient spell Vic had learned at some kind of Healers lecture.
"I should really hate you, not the other way around," she sighs. It's the first time she's tried to start a conversation since I'd found her in my room. "But then again, I guess either hatred is reasonable."
I open my mouth and find my voice again. "I'm sorry," I whisper, and I try my best to mean it, "for everything."
She smiles. It's a smile of melancholy, but it's a smile of hope. That's the difference between us. I'm strong, but I gave up. I accepted defeat. I tried to save face, and I kept to myself convinced that I could fix whatever I had broke. But Victoire is stronger in her own way. She won't go any way but hers. "It's alright," she murmurs back gently, "for him, it was always you."
I freeze mid-swallow. I sit and mull this over, ignoring the odd looks Vic is shooting me. "What do you mean?" I gasp, and nearly spill the coffee all over my lap in my rush to set it on the table.
"What do you mean?" Victoire cries back, her eyes narrowing.
"You and Teddy didn't get married after I left?" I say in a soft voice, afraid that if I said it any louder this glimmer of hope would vanish.
"Lily," Victoire says, "I don't think Teddy could ever go through with marrying someone who wasn't you." There is hurt on her face, but that Ravenclaw tendency to accept fact easily when it's proven takes away the blow.
And just like that, the world ends.
Victoire leaves in the evening, when I convince her that I won't take a knife to my throat or anything of the sort. She Disapparates, but not without leaving behind a plate of Fettuccine. What is up with Weasleys, depression, and pasta?
Not long after, I hear the doorbell ring. The loud sound restarting my migraine, I go to open it, only just remembering to look through the peephole.
My heart almost stops.
I swear loudly and the thumping stops. "Lily, I need to talk to you," he calls through the wooden door, and knocks on the outside. By the time this week is over, my door will have been knocked over. "Please."
"I can't," I say, unable to find a valid excuse. "I'm… indecent."
He pauses. Take that, male population. "Put on some clothes, then come outside. We need to talk."
I bang my forehead against the door, then recoil, rubbing my temples. "Just go," I sigh weakly. I'm a coward. There's a reason I'm in Slytherin and not in bloody Gryffindor.
He curses for a minute and then knocks one last time. "Please," he whispers in such a pleading voice that I'm tempted.
"No," I murmur back shakily.
Feeling my resolve weaken, I open the door slowly.
Nothing but the chilly autumn wind and the sound of my own loneliness.
In the morning, I open the door in sweat pants and a ponytail, ready to rehabilitate myself with a mile-or-two jog.
Instead, I find a drowsy Theodore Lupin on the doormat, his hair rainbow and his jacket smelling of vomit.
Funny how karma bites you in your cotton-covered ass.
He wakes up in the middle of my Levicorpus spell, and eventually lands hard on the carpet in his struggle to get back on the ground. "Whoa, Lils, I didn't know your flat was a carousel," he giggles, and I have to cover my mouth with my hand to keep from laughing along with him.
"Yeah, it was a birthday present," I tell him sarcastically, and then tug on his arm until he agrees and pulls us both onto the sofa. My body lands on his with an "Oof", but really, his thick jacket is comfortable. Like one of those air mattresses.
"You hate me, huh?" he whispers. His breath smells like Firewhiskey. I'm getting sick of that smell.
"Never ever," I mutter back, and his eyes morph into their natural brown before my eyes. I could never get tired of watching the metamorphosis of a metamorphmagus' features. It's fascinating, the way the colour or the strands or the size change slowly, yet in the blink of an eye it's happened so fast you missed it.
"I'm sorry, so sorry," he breathes back, his expression almost afraid. "For everything. I can't go on without you."
"Did you take that from a song?" I ask. The smile takes over my face in spite of myself.
He nods innocently.
I laugh. And then, slowly, I lay my head down on his chest, and listen to the sound of his breathing as it slows into a steady beat.
Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out.
This is how we live.
He wakes in two hours time, jerking into consciousness, but grabbing onto me and settling me gently by his side when he realizes where he is. He mutters something unintelligible and then looks at me. "Don't tell me I threw up on your floor," he says apologetically.
"You didn't," I reply, and I smile. "But I think you freaked out my neighbor. I thought you were dead for a second, just laying out there in the cold."
"Right." He looks at his gloves, then back at me. "I'm sorry. I'm an idiot. I just… I lost control and I… ended up here. I should go." He stands, brushing off the seat of his pants and then taking a step to the door.
Before I know it, I'm standing in front of him, my hands laid across his chest to stop him. "Before you leave," I murmur, "I want to know something first."
And then I kiss him. I stand on the tips of my toes and press my lips against his, breathing in the scent of him, strawberries and smoke and vomit and all. He wraps his arms around my waist and presses me against him, and I snake my hands around his neck. He pulls me up and I wrap my legs around him until we are one. Until it's just Lily and Teddy and Teddy and Lily and the way everything is meant to be.
When I cannot breathe anymore, he pulls away and sets me back on the ground, brushing the hair that's fallen into my face away. "Do," he teases, remembering what I had said after his incomplete wedding.
"Is it really me," I say breathlessly, "for you?" I can't remember a time when my heart's beat faster.
"Always," he promises, "It's always been you."
I let myself believe him this time.
(A/N) A bit of a cheesy ending. But overall, I kind of liked this. It was meant to be a fluffy little 2,000 word oneshot and then it turned into this big old find-myself-again piece. I like it, though. It was based on Speak Now by Taylor Swift, but I think it's turned into something more now. But whatever. I find my own meaning in it, you find yours. It was meant to be a really sad, angsty fic, bu I guess a lot of my sense of humour snuck in there. But anyway, I hope you liked it, I worked on it for days.