a/n: for Lucy - thethymeisright - because I need her to know how much she means to me.

Thanks to Bree-utiful for lending Sebastian Nott to me. I mistreated him rather badly, but I'll cheer him up before I send him back, I promise.

"That's the thing with magic. You've got to know it's still here, all around us, or it just stays invisible for you." - Charles de Lint

Elusive Non-Existence
and i'll fall on my knees
tell me how's the way to be
- Everywhere I Go, Lissie

It's kind of ironic because if she was a Muggle she would believe in magic so hard that it would consume her. She'd be searching for it every day of her life, knowing that it's out there, just beyond her reach.

But she's a witch and she has a wand and a pet owl and a whole wizarding family – and yet she doesn't believe in magic at all. Sure, she can make strange things happen and transform cups into rats and back again; but that's not real magic, that's just making things happen. Human magic.

Real magic is in true love and in a baby's first word and in the perfect kiss and newly fallen snow and stars that sparkleshimmershine in the sky and in people's eyes.

Lily Luna Potter doesn't believe in magic.


She starts at Hogwarts and every day is a tumult of wishes and hopes and the waving of wands. She listens to the nervous buzz of the new first years all around her as she stands to wait for the call to be Sorted. She says nothing, just edges closer to Hugo and silently takes his hand. He squeezes hers, and she turns her head to find his blue eyes staring solidly into her own green ones.

"We're going to be fine, Lils," he says firmly, and she wishes she could believe him, but there's this tremble in his voice that betrays him. "Everyone else got Gryffindor, even Al, so we'll be fine. We'll be Gryffindor too."

"But, Hugo," she interrupts, and her face is a mask of determination. "I don't want to be in Gryffindor."

And then they're called and Hugo is left to stare after her in shock as they mount the platform, staring out over the vast crowds that fill the Great Hall. Lily can see a mess of redheads at the Gryffindor table, along with James and Al and Roxanne's distinctive black hair and Scorpius Malfoy's silvery blonde.

Lily risks a glance from left to right and discovers herself trapped in between two enormous boys, her small form suddenly seeming even smaller.

"Good luck," she whispers to them both, and one cracks her a nervous grin while the other ignores her completely.

The first name is called, and John Andrews is Sorted into Hufflepuff.

The number of first years on the platform dwindles, and Lily is digging her nails into her palms as the smiling boy next to her is called – Nott, Sebastian – and goes into Slytherin. Lily hears her name, sees her family turn as one at the Gryffindor table to beam up at her, giving her thumbs-ups of encouragement, the girls grabbing at handfuls of the guys' clothing in their anxiety for their baby cousin.

Lily hops up onto the stool, and her world goes black.

Another Potter, the voice says in her ear, and she thinks it might even sound a little weary. With Weasley thrown in too. Well, it shouldn't be too hard to –

"Please," Lily thinks tentatively. "Please don't put me in Gryffindor."

Not Gryffindor, eh? Well, that's a turn-around. Your brother begged me to put him Gryffindor.

"I want to be different," Lily thinks to it. "I want to stand out."

Well, that certainly shows initiative. I'd put you in Ravenclaw, but I think… yes… yes. With that cunning, much better to have you in "SLYTHERIN!"

The silence that falls is as thunderous as applause. Lily pushes the hat up off her head, hands it over to the waiting, astonished deputy headmistress, and then struggles to keep the massive beam off her cheeks as she heads down off the platform and over to the green-and-silver table.

She feels a little embarrassed at the silence, and the barest hint of a blush starts to creep down her neck as she paces down the table to find somewhere to sit.

And then suddenly the boy who she'd been standing next to in the line – Nott, Sebastian – erupts to his feet with a wild yell of joy, and the rest of the Slytherin table follows suit almost immediately.

"Lily Potter!" someone is screaming off to her right. "We got Lily Potter!"

There's outrage coming from the Gryffindor table as various members of her family leap to their feet with the apparent intent of coming to claim her back and get her resorted, but the headmaster controls them all with the barest shake of the head.

Lily slides into place at the Slytherin table, her face still red, and raises her eyes tentatively to the Head Table. The headmaster meets them, warmly and curiously. She smiles slightly, and then she's tugging at the sleeve of the person next to her.

"It's okay, everyone can sit down now," she shouts over the furore. "Really."

The hall gradually quietens again, splutterings of disgust drifting over to her from the Gryffindor table. Lily doesn't meet any of their eyes, just waits for the Sorting to be over.

Hugo goes into Ravenclaw, and then Wood, Neil goes into Gryffindor and the feast begins.


Throughout the next couple of weeks Lily earns her reputation as a firebrand after confronting six members of her family about being in Slytherin, and somehow taking them all down with a single bat-bogey hex.

"Stop being angry at me for being different!" she screams at them as they lie moaning after the attack. "I'm not sorry for wanting to stand out!"

And then she turns on her heel and storms away. The rumours spread, but so does Lily's popularity as she displays her quick wit and easy charisma, gathering people to her like salamanders to fire.

She makes friends with Sebastian, the boy who'd first smiled at her, and with most of the girls in Slytherin – including Sebastian's twin sister, Chloe – and most of the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs too.

It's an odd thing, the teachers are sure of it – a Slytherin the most popular girl in the year? – but then she's Lily Potter and she's charming and she's adorable and she's her father's daughter through-and-through.

But she's also a Slytherin, and she sees quickly the value of having a large network of friends.

She gets acceptable grades in lessons, passing well but not anywhere near as well as Albus or Rose did two years previously. Lily knows she won't stand out with intelligence, or with bravery or recklessness or deliberate and consistent rule-breaking.

Slytherin was a start, and she knows how she's going to go about making her differences known.


First year bleeds through into second, and she spends a lazy summer with her family proving to them that Slytherin hasn't changed her in any way. And it hasn't. Okay, so she might hesitate a little to think before she speaks, but she's always been a bona-fide liar and a great mischief-maker without having to be in Slytherin.

She finds herself – to her surprise – making friends with Scorpius Malfoy during those heavy, golden days in the sunshine. He knows what it's like to be in a house where nobody expected you to be, to have to break away from the family stereotype.

They get along famously, and that's when Lily's plan forms fully. Because, you see, her family are dreadful snobs when it comes to Gryffindor, believing that they're so much better than everybody else – Slytherin especially – and Lily's observed in her first year at the school that the houses are all pretty much the same, each person considering themselves slightly better than people from the other houses.

So Lily decides that she's going to do something about that. She's got a start, already, with her friends in Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw and her family in Gryffindor – and Lily Potter is a firework, a revolutionary blaze and clash of colours and excitement and determination. If anyone can make this work, she can.


It takes her all the way into fourth year, but then she's finallyfinally knitted together a thriving social network of people from her year group in all four houses, and it's not just her who has friends across houses but everybody. All the students in her year can claim at least two people from all three other houses as their friend.

Lily sits back in the common room one night, buried in the depths of a sofa, and looks around to see Sebastian Nott engaged in a vigorous conversation with his sister Chloe, Lily's best friend, along with Neil Wood from Gryffindor, Alice Longbottom and Agnes Collins from Hufflepuff and Greg Hopkins from Ravenclaw.

Lily feels a wave of satisfaction at the sight, and then turns to stare out of the huge window into the depths of the lake, losing herself in the ripples of light that play through the water.

She's distracted suddenly from her reverie by Sebastian, who flings himself onto the sofa next to her and throws an arm around her shoulders.

"So," he says a trifle shyly, and Lily's amazed because she's never seen Sebastian look shy before. The answer is provided in his next words, though. "Will you go to Hogsmeade with me next weekend?"

She smiles a little and tilts her head to the side. "But, Seb, we go to Hogsmeade together every time."

"I know," he replies, and runs a distracted hand through his curly hair. "But… can we go together together this time? Just us, I mean. On, like… a date?"

Lily studies him consideringly for a few moments, and then laughs and throws herself into his arms, planting a big kiss on his cheek, her green eyes dancing as his hands lock around her waist and tangle in her longlong curls.

"Of course I'll go with you," she says, and he grins so widely she thinks he'll break his face.


She goes with him, and when he kisses her on the way back it's like all her hopes and dreams fused together – but she can't help being bitterly disappointed, because there's no magic.

She's always had this problem that she never dares speak of – she's a witch, sure, but she doesn't think magic really exists – natural magic that you should be able to see, to touch and feel and hear… she doesn't believe in that.

She goes out with Sebastian for a few months, and then they become one of those on-again-off-again couples that so infuriates everybody else.

Lily spends the time when she and Sebastian are broken up looking for magic in other boys, surprising them with too-experienced kisses in broom cupboards, and not surprising herself because she still hasn't found any magic.


Fifth year rolls past in much the same way as fourth, with Lily glowing and blazing at the centre of her massive circle of friends, growing wittier in lessons and more full of heart, having finally proved irrevocably to everybody that people can get along if they try, regardless of house or blood-purity or anything else.

She goes off to chase dragons with her Uncle Charlie in Romania over the summer when she turns sixteen, and she comes back glittering with the dragon fever (and a really bad sunburn).

She arrives at the station as usual and immediately abandons her family as Chloe Nott sprints at her. Lily beams and runs towards the other girl, and they crash together in a tight hug full of giggles and prettyshiny curls.

Chloe's blonde hair meshes loosely with Lily's red as the two girls hold each other close, shrieking about how they've missed each other and Harry and Ginny can only watch from the sidelines and wonder at this empire their daughter has created as more sixth years pour out of the crowd and join the hug, all laughing and calling names.

"They can't all be Slytherin," Ginny says wonderingly to Harry as she watches four boys descend on Lily and prise her away from Chloe, spinning both girls around and laughing wildly.

"No, that's Wood's son, Neil," Harry replies in astonishment as a big, burly boy manages to get Lily in a headlock. "He's a Gryffindor."

"How did she do it?" Ginny whispers in awe, being jostled on all sides as more sixth years pitch up to greet their friends after the summer apart, the entire massive group of fifty or so students beginning to move towards the train.

Harry and Ginny are starting to turn away, assuming that Lily is completely absorbed, when suddenly a familiar voice is calling out, "Mum, Dad!" and they turn to find Lily racing at them, her red hair flying out behind her and her green eyes swimming with contentment.

"I'll see you at Christmas," she tells them as she skids to a halt, beaming.

"You could bring some of your friends home this year," Ginny says, moving to hug her daughter. "We'd like to meet them. There are so many."

Lily laughs and hugs her mother tightly back, her arms locked around her neck.

"Nah, there's too many of them, they'll eat us out of house and home," Lily replies, and then she's detaching herself from her mother and turning to her father. "Bye, Dad."

"Bye, froglet," Harry says, bending to take her into his arms. She smiles and throws her arms around his neck, pressing her face into his shoulder and laughing slightly as he leans back to pull her off the floor. "There's a surprise waiting for you at Hogwarts."

"A surprise?" she repeats in shock, pulling her face back to see him properly. "What kind of a surprise?"

"You'll see," he says mysteriously, tapping the side of his nose. "I'll reckon you'll like it."

She pouts and steps out of his hug, folding her arms. "It's not fair to tell me that. Now I'll be wondering all the way to Hogwarts."

Harry chuckles and then suddenly remembers something. "Oh, and, Teddy wanted me to give this to you. He said he thinks you keep hexing his owls when he sends them."

He holds out a letter, a questioning look on his face, and Lily very deliberately reaches to take his wand out of his back pocket, levitates the letter into the air between them, and then chars it to a cinder.

"Please, Daddy," she says firmly, ignoring her mother's angry exclamations. "Please don't talk to me about Teddy ever again."

Then she hands his wand back, gives them both one final kiss on the cheeks, and disappears aboard the train to find her friends.

Harry and Ginny watch her go, ash spreading on the floor around them, and they can only wonder what on Earth she means.


Lily arrives at the Sorting feast with Sebastian – they're currently 'on' again, to a great many people's irritation – and the large group of sixth years hurriedly splits up to their respective house tables. Lily takes her seat in between Sebastian and Chloe, grinning across at a seventh year boy and taking out her wand to play with the flame on the candles.

The Sorting progresses without interest – no huge scandals have taken place since Lily was Sorted into Slytherin – and Lily cheers loudly for every Slytherin. She might have done more for inter-house unity than any other student at the school, but it certainly hasn't erased her competitive streak. Just because she's friends with the other students didn't mean they can't all get involved in some friendly competition.

"Hey, Lils," Chloe says in her ear as the headmaster gets up to begin his customary speech. "Isn't that Teddy Lupin up there? Between Professor Norton and Professor McAllister?"

Lily's eyes go as wide as saucers as she swivels in her seat, her gaze zeroing in on the man sitting in between the two professors.

"No way," she says loudly, her voice breaking into the headmaster's speech. Chloe curses at her and hisses at her to shut up, Sebastian holding her down as she tries to stand.

"Something you'd like to share with the school, Miss Potter?" the headmaster inquires with a slight smile, opening his hands wide to indicate that the stage is hers should she wish it.

Lily's eyes move past him to where Teddy is sitting, gazing at her with a mixture of amusement and anger.

"Yes, actually," she says even louder. "I wanted to –"

"Nothing!" Sebastian interrupts, clamping a hand quickly over her mouth as other students start to laugh. "She just wanted to congratulate all the new first years on getting Sorted."

"Well, that's very kind of you, Miss Potter," the headmaster says, his smile growing as he watches her struggling to get Sebastian's hand off her mouth. "But if you could wait until after I'm done talking next time, that would be wonderful."

Lily flushes a bright, dangerous red as he moves on with his speech, and as Sebastian's hand is still over her mouth and Chloe is holding her hands firmly to stop her from raising them, she contents herself with sending glittering daggers of looks at Teddy, her brow creased with fury and resentment.

When the feast is finally over and they are dismissed, Lily rockets to her feet and runs as fast as she can up to the staff table. The two professors near Teddy have already left, so she slams her hands menacingly down on the table in front of him.

"What," she says slowly, "the hell do you think you're doing here?"

"Weren't you listening?" he replies, and Lily's surprised because Teddy's never been snarky with her before. "I'm the new Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher this year."

"You –" Lily just gets out, and then the headmaster is moving over and putting a hand on her shoulder to draw her away.

"Now, Miss Potter," he says, apparently totally oblivious to her heaving, angry chest and Teddy's dark looks. "I must make a request of you – I know that you know Professor Lupin rather well, but I must ask that you treat him exactly the same as any other teachers. That means you must afford him absolute respect in lessons, okay? No chatting or taking liberties."

Lily daintily shrugs her shoulder out from under the headmaster's hand, and shoots one final glare over her shoulder at Teddy.

"Don't worry, sir," she says firmly, turning to gaze up at the headmaster. "I won't be chatting with him at all."

And then she's storming away and off the stage and out of the hall in a stormcloud of angry green eyes and fiery red hair and murderous looks.


"You can't let him get to you," Chloe insists that night as the pair of them are collapsed over Lily's bed, Chloe's head resting on Lily's stomach. "It'll just let him win."

"He has won already," Lily replies bleakly, her hands playing with her friend's pretty blonde curls. "He moved away. Married Vic. Abandoned me."

Chloe tilts her head upwards as Lily's chest heaves, and she's scrambling instantly to hold her friend as she lets out a sob. Lily's never been much of a crier, but Chloe knows how deep it cut her when Teddy walked out of her life four years ago, so she doesn't tease her at all – she just rocks her gently and in a truly Slytherin manner suggests something.

"What did you say?" Lily sniffles, gulping back tears as Chloe suddenly grabs her by the shoulders, her blue eyes glittering with dangerous mischief.

"I said, let's get him back," Chloe exclaims, shaking Lily slightly in her excitement. "Let's get revenge on him for leaving you!"

"How?" Lily asks, her brain racing instantly with possibilities, her mood starting to lift as Chloe's brow furrows in that look that Lily recognises as a true plotting expression.

Lily's grown up in a family of pranksters, but even James and Fred and Roxanne have nothing on Chloe when she's really in the zone. The girl is a miracle-worker, her plans stunning in their simplicity and executed with the subtle psychological warfare that only Slytherins can really manage with any success.

"Go to sleep," Chloe says, a faraway look in her eyes. "I'll tell you in the morning exactly what our plan of action is going to be."

Then she's slipping out of Lily's bed, and Lily hears her footsteps pad over to the wardrobe against the wall and then the sound of clothes hangers being rattled.

Sighing, Lily slides under the covers and turns onto her side, distracting herself until sleep comes by carving trails of fading glitter through the air with her wand.


The next morning she's awoken at some unearthly hour by her hangings being wrenched open and the overhead lights being switched on brightly.

"Oh, Merlin, what the hell, guys?" Lily exclaims, covering her face as the six other Slytherin girls beam down at her. "It's six o' bloody clock in the morning!"

"Time to get revenge," Chloe says cheerfully, pushing through the circle of girls and dragging her friend to her feet. Lily gives in and submits as she's forced into a chair, noting the covered mirror in the corner and the mess of clothes on the floor.

"What are you going to do to me?" she inquires, and Jemima Parkinson grins as she pulls out her wand and mutters a quick heating spell, moving around behind Lily to start attacking her hair.

"We're going to make you look so good nobody will be able to keep their eyes off you," Jemima replies, an ohsoSlytherin tone of slyness in her voice. "Including the handsome new Defence teacher."

It all clicks into place then, and Lily can't help the massive grin that stretches across her face.

"Thanks, guys," she says sincerely, and Chloe beams as she approaches with a mascara wand, Henrietta Moore behind her with a palette of eyeshadows.

Lily spends the next hour being poked and prodded around, her face carefully made-up and her hair perfectly curled. The Slytherin girls work in perfect harmony, making their friend glow as she sits there. Eventually, though, they're finished and they still won't let Lily look in the mirror.

"C'mon, just one peek," Lily pleads, trying to dart around Jemima to get to it.

"No chance," Jemima replies with a smile, pointing at something behind Lily. "You've got to get dressed first."

Lily turns to see the outfit that Chloe and Alexa are holding up between them.

"No way am I wearing that," Lily says firmly.

"That's what you think," Chloe retorts with a smirk, advancing on her friend.

About fifteen minutes later Lily is standing staring at herself in the mirror. She has to concede that whoever picked the clothes really knew what they were doing – the heels are a little too tall to be practical, but with the stockings and the short skirt they just look right.

She feels a little exposed, a little out-of-place, as her eyes travel up her own body in the mirror to the artfully-untucked shirt, the black waistcoat, the loose tie.

"I look like a whore," she complains, but there's no feeling in it because what she really looks is powerful. The sort of girl who can bring boys to their knees with just a look.

Lily hates to admit it, but she kind of absolutely adores it.


She enters the Great Hall with her friends around her, pacing down the aisle to her usual seat slowly and measuredly, her hips swaying with the heels and her hair tumbling, barely restrained, down her back.

She winks at a fourth-year Hufflepuff boy, blows a kiss to one of her old Ravenclaw conquests, shoots a quick glance at Teddy's seat at the Head Table, and then swings elegantly into her seat.

"Did it work?" she hisses instantly at Chloe, irritably pushing her fringe out of her eyes and reaching for the cereal.

"Oh, hell, yeah," Chloe whispers in her ear. "He can't take his eyes off you."

Lily grins widely and pours herself from milk. She jumps slightly as Sebastian slides into the seat opposite her.

"Well, well, well, Potter," he says with a smirk. "This is new."

"Oh, piss off, Sebastian," Chloe retorts irritably. "Now is not the time to go all possessive-boyfriend."

"He's not."

"I'm not," Lily and Sebastian announced at exactly the same time. "We broke up last night," Lily elaborates when Chloe shoots her a confused look.

"Already? You guys have only been back together for, like, two weeks!"

"Yeah, well, I think Lily might finally be growing out of me," Sebastian says, and Lily glances across at him, suddenly entirely distracted from Teddy, because Sebastian is trying to be light-hearted but she knows him better than anyone and she can see the hurt in his expression.

"I'm not sorry for breaking up with you, Seb," she says, reaching across to take his hand. "We just don't work the way we used to – I didn't want to delay the inevitable. But I am sorry that I hurt your feelings."

"I'm fine," he insists, squeezing her hand. "We all have to grow up sometime. Y'know, stop believing in magic and fairytales and shit."

"I don't believe in magic," Lily replies, and then she rises from her seat and leaves them staring after her open-mouthed – because this is the first they've heard of Lily's odd little belief-system, and it seems rather… well, insane.


Lily arrives a deliberate five minutes late to her first Defence Against the Dark Arts class, swanning into the classroom and encountering Teddy's back as he scrawls his name on the blackboard for the class to read.

"Lily Potter, you're late," he announces, turning to look at her. Lily just smirks, because his hair has betrayed his attempts at indifference and distancing by flashing the colour of her eyes – the colour that's always been his favourite.

"Yeah, sorry, I had something important to do," she replies confidently, shifting her weight onto one hip and adjusting her armful of books.

"More important than my lesson?" Teddy inquires, folding his arms, and Lily beams at him.

"Mmhm, I'm afraid so."

Teddy's brows slant dangerously, and Lily starts to move up the classroom to the last empty desk, right at the front.

"Eyes up here, Wood," she says as she passes Neil, tapping his shoulder and pointing at her face. He shifts in his seat, going a little red, but carries on watching her until she takes her seat.

"Would you care to elaborate on what it was that was more important than my lesson?" Teddy asks, moving to lean back against his desk at the front of the classroom. Lily can feel the battle-instinct rising inside her – an inherited Gryffindor trait – and she plonks her books down on her desk as she smiles her best smile up at him.

"Yeah, I was sticking pins in my eyes."

The class laughs nervously – none of them has the measure of this new teacher yet – but Teddy's eyes are flashing to stormy grey and his hair is an angry black.

"Five points from Slytherin," he snaps, and Lily smirks. He's let her get to him, and it can only go downhill for him from now on.


It takes a full six weeks for him to finally snap, and Lily spends her Defence lessons looking like an angel and needling him with more carefully worded spite than the devil. She's very cautious, pushing him right up to that line but never over it.

Eventually, however, she goes too far – and she knows she should regret the dissolution of those battle-plans that Chloe drew up so delicately but she just can't, because the way it happens is just too wonderful.

She's sitting near the back of the room, banished to a desk by herself for insolence, her hair catching the sunlight streaming in through the big window as he extols about some creature that she can't remember the name of. She tilts her head to the side so that the sunlight falls over her fair skin, her eyes closing in pleasure at the weak autumnal warmth.

"Miss Potter."

She hears her name being called and snaps listlessly to attention, having to squint slightly in the bright light to make him out.

"Yeah?" she replies eventually. She won her victory over the point of her way of addressing him in lessons – to his disgust, she never calls him 'sir' or 'Professor', instead just talking to him as though he deserves about as much respect as a bug squished on the bottom of her highhigh heels – a couple of weeks ago, and he doesn't bother to call her out on it any more.

"Have you been listening to a single word I've said?" he inquires, and Lily scrunches up her nose and shrugs.

"Not really."

"And why not?" he inquires in a threatening tone, starting to pace down the aisle between the desks to her. The rest of the class turn their heads to watch as he comes to a stop in front of her desk, looking down at her expressionlessly.

Lily leans back in her chair, her skirt riding up to show a flash of bare skin above black lace stockings and another strip of moon-pale flesh where her shirt shifts untucked above her skirt.

"Because I find it terribly dull, to be honest," she replies honestly, and she adores the way his eyes struggle to stay looking at her face. "And the sun is super warm and it's probably the last sunlight we're going to get for a while. Whereas I can hear about hickeleypuffs any time."

"Hinkypunks," he corrects, and now she can tell that she's really getting to him because he's forgotten to control his hair again. "And you need to pay attention or I'm going to move you up to the front of the classroom."

"But you tried that last week," she reminds him, grinning as his hair flushes orange. "Don't you remember? You said you would never try that again."

"Well, maybe I've changed my mind."

"Oh, you oughtn't do that," she smirks, crossing her arms. "It's terribly inconsistent and it means your students won't be able to place any trust in you on a grand-scale."

He's glaring at her now, really and truly glaring, and Lily suddenly clocks the deep purple colour of his eyes and realises that he's in a terrible mood today, because his eyes only ever go that colour when he's really and truly, soul-deeply angry.

"Get out of my classroom," he hisses, his voice a spiteful low tone as he drags her to her feet by her arm.

"Physical abuse!" Lily complains, all of her exploding with internal fireworks because, Salazar, he's touching her and she's pathetic. "I'm calling Childline!"

He ignores her and the excited babble of the class behind him, tugging her out of the classroom door behind him and slamming the door.

"That's it, Lily!" he exclaims, his hair an irate black colour. "You cannot address me like that! I don't know what's changed about you from that little girl I used to know, but I'm your teacher now and you will afford me some respect!"

Lily yanks her arm out of his grip daintily, her gaze icy as she fixes her eyes intently on his.

"I will afford you respect when you earn it," she retorts, crossing her arms. "And the only thing that's changed about me is that I've given up on you."

"Given up on me?" he repeats, and he's gesticulating wildly as his hair flashes all sorts of dangerous colours. "What do you mean, given up on me?"

"I mean that you used to be my best friend, Teddy," she replies, and her voice is low and just the tiniest bit hurt – because she might be a Slytherin but that doesn't mean she can't be vulnerable. "And then one day you just stopped having any time for me at all."

"I married Victoire," he replies, looking astonished at this outpouring. "Of course I had less time for you."

"I was twelve, Teddy," she reminds him bitterly, and there are tears rising now that she vainly tries to battle down. "I was twelve and I loved you more than anything in the world. And you just left me."

"Lily, I –" he begins, and she can see he's confused because this conversation isn't going the way he planned at all.

"Save your breath, Teddy," she responds emotionlessly, and then she's walking away down the corridor with her hips swaying and her lips pressed tightly together to stop them from trembling and the tears confined just barely.

She risks one glance over her shoulder, and he's standing there with his hair a desolate dark blue and his expression utterly torn.

Lily rounds the corner, and starts to run.


She skives Defence lessons for three weeks, avoiding mealtimes as much as possible in case he's there, and she starts to turn into a mess of sharp angles and tearstains and chaos.

"For fuck's sake, Lily, pull yourself together," Chloe tells her one night. "You've got him completely hung up on you and you're not doing anything about it at all!"

"What do you mean?" Lily replies, interested despite herself, glancing up from the Transfiguration homework she's doing. "He's hung up on me?"

"Um, yeah," Chloe retorts as though this should be obvious. "Have you not seen him staring after you in the corridors?"

"No," Lily says slowly, and she's not sure whether to believe her friend or not. "He wouldn't. He hates me."

"You're a retard if you think that's true," Chloe responds impatiently. "You don't see the way he looks at you. It would be utterly heartbreaking if he wasn't so old."

"He's not that old," Lily reminds her. "Only twenty-seven."

"Too old for you," Chloe says, and Lily grins because the way Chloe says this means it's a clear challenge.


And then she's racing out of the dormitory, pyjamas and slippers and all, and blazing through the common room and out into the corridors.

It takes her ten minutes to reach his chambers, sprinting all the way, and she bangs on the door in a rush of heaving chest and red hair and flushed cheeks.

He opens the door to her, and as he takes in her loose curls and bare legs under her pyjama shorts she can tell he's struggling with himself.

"I shouldn't let you in," he says firmly, and so she pushes past him and finds herself in his sitting room, a half-empty bottle of firewhiskey on the table and his divorce papers open next to it.

"Lily, please," he says, and when she turns to him his face is completely uncertain, his hands held open awkwardly as though he'll try to expel her from his chambers any second. "I'll get in trouble if you're in here."

Lily takes a step closer to him, and then another step as his hair starts to slowly flush the bright green of her eyes. "I'm not leaving until you tell me the truth," she insists, and now there's a bare three inches of space between them. "Tell me truthfully that you want me to leave."

He remains quiet, his eyes looking anywhere but at her, his hands clenched into fists at his sides now.

"And now tell me that you don't have feelings for me," Lily says, and she's so close all he'd have to do was bend his head slightly and she'd be kissing him. "Tell me honestly."

"Lily," he breathes, and suddenly his hands are anchoring themselves on her hips. "Don't do this to me, Lily. Please."

"Not good enough," she replies breathlessly, and then she's darting up onto tiptoes and pressing her mouth against his, her arms looping around his neck.

She breaks apart from him suddenly, her eyes wide with astonishment – because, God, this is magic.

"Lily, we can't do this," he insists, not letting go of her. "You're too young, I'm too old – and I'm your teacher, for Merlin's sake."

"Say that with feeling," she retorts, and he can't and she's found magic so she's not letting this go, not ever.

"Godric, Lily," he groans, and he's bending to kiss her again and Lily arches up into him and feels the magic of the moment just falling, falling right into place.

There, in the warm cage of his arms with his lips on hers and all the challenges falling away until there's just her and him and the heat of the fire on their skin – there Lily Luna Potter starts to believe in magic.

a/n: please don't favourite without reviewing, thank you.