Warning: Language and sexual themes.
how quickly the glamour fades
Once upon a time, they were close. Once upon a time, they were simple. Once upon a time, she could've said that she loved him and he could've probably replied truthfully that he loved her back. Once upon a time, it wasn't once upon a time.
Lily grips the glass tightly, her head already spinning. Her fingernails, painted a dark shade of Slytherin green, stand out against the amber colour of the liquid inside. She presses her blood-red lips against the cold cup, her lipstick staining the outer edge. She finishes the remnants of the alcohol in one gulp. She closes her eyes as the burning sensation passes quickly down her throat. She tries to remember a time when this feeling of obliviousness didn't solve everything wrong with the world.
After a few seconds of thinking, she throws away the thought. It's too late, she decides in her head, and asks for another glass.
It's the slightest movement that turns into the most deliberate touch. In one instance, it might have been presumed an accident, but now as he grinds his hip harder and harder into her own, his fingers inching closer and closer to her waist, her stomach is tying itself into complicated knots and the room is as hot as the sun's impossible temperature. Every sensation has become a thousand times more intense as his head slowly turns to face her. His face has become expressionless, but his eyes are hard, dark, tight.
"Haven't seen you in a while, Lily," he mutters softly. His voice reaches only her ears. The rest of the Weasley family doesn't notice the fact that they're conversing; they're all too swallowed up in their own lives.
She feels her cheeks flush and she curses herself for losing her cool. She despises how he can make his voice sound so innocent, so free of any hint of the fact that his hands are mere inches from her ass. "Maybe you haven't been looking in the right places," she says, determined not to look at his eyes. "I've been here all along."
"Hey, now," he replies pointlessly, unsure of what else to say. "Well, where do you frequent these days, then?" he asks, his hand just barely touching the skin that her skirt and blouse don't cover. The touch is feather-light but enough to send a chill up her spine as he applies more and more pressure to the cold skin there. She remembers perfectly this feeling of his rough fingerpads against her soft skin.
"Teddy, darling," that too familiar voice comes into play. "We're leaving. Angelique insists she's got a headache enough to reduce the bravest men to tears." Victoire rolls her eyes in exasperation at her eldest daughter. Lily smiles when she feels Teddy's hand leave her back so swiftly she could feel his appendage slicing through the air. Of course. She'd almost kidded herself into forgetting about that daughter he had lying around. "Oh, Lily! I haven't seen you all night."
Lily leans forward calmly, kissing her cousin's cheek. "Vic," she says, nodding in that collected, careless manner she had perfected.
She wishes Victoire was hate-able. "We never see you around anymore," the older girl reminds her, frowning. "The kids are always just begging to see their own god-mother." Lily smiles, biting her lip. "You're welcome at the cottage any time you'd like to stop by, you know that, right?"
"Of course, Victoire," Lily lies through her teeth. "I'll come around for dinner one of these days, how about that?"
Teddy's eyes flash quickly, but Lily catches the emotion flying across his face just in time to be sure it wasn't a figment of her imagination. "Bye, Lils," Vic calls over her shoulder as they leave, the perfect family, all with matching blonde hair.
Lily watches them go, their hair all perfect, but Teddy's keeps on morphing from blonde to black, gold to silver. It's like one of those "which-one-doesn't-belong" puzzles. She tries to make the tenseness at the small of her back, where Teddy had touched her, go away. But she can't.
It all comes down to a knock at her door. She lives in a two-bedroom flat, with Roxanne, the only cousin she has who's still single. Rox is out of town, at some convention for Healers, and Lily sits in the living room by herself, watching the Muggle telly and sipping at Firewhiskey straight from the bottle. She'd always been rebellious.
As she stands slowly, careful not to strain the still-sore burns down her forearms from Romania, the person at the door begins to bang at the wooden door, making the frame shake.
Frustrated, Lily begins to yell, "Oh, stop it, you effing twat," but stops mid-sentence at the sight in front of her.
"No one's home," says a breathless Teddy, "Vic took Olivier and Ange to her brother's, and I really just - Lil, we need to talk."
Her green eyes widen out of habit. Instinctively, she tugs at her hair a little, trying to remember if she'd smoothed out her cowlicks that morning. "What is there to talk about?" she says, but her voice is suddenly a ghost of its former, loud, commanding self. "I don't think -"
She is interrupted by his lips on hers, pressing against hers in a fit of desperation. He pulls away panting and she glares up at him, her eyes dagger-like. "I'm sorry," he mutters, his eyes crinkling at the edges in apology.
"Why'd you stop, idiot?" she hisses, and she pulls his face toward her, claiming him like predator and prey. As they melt into each other, stumbling through the hallway and somehow finding their way into poor Roxanne's room, she forgets what she'd wanted to forget anyway.
"What were you going to say?" she asks softly later that evening. Victoire has probably long been home, wondering where her husband was. They, for now, are tucked into the covers, legs tangled together, having relocated to Lily's room.
Teddy turns to her, the sheets rustling at the movement of his body. "Hm?"
"When you first got here," Lily replies impatiently, "you said we needed to talk."
"Oh," he mumbles, his hair a deep purple. "It's nothing."
She sighs. The darkness in the room is startling. It's as if she'd forgotten time passed that fast.
Lily comes around for dinner one night, like she'd promised she would. She braids Angelique's long, blonde hair, and teaches Olivier how to make the perfect snowball. Victoire praises her, delighted at her ability to get along with her children. Even as late night reaches them the guilt keeps Lily there, the imprint of Teddy's broad hands on her thighs fading with every giggle of Olivier, every flash of Angelique's teeth.
She meets Teddy in the bathroom later, Olivier already asleep and Ange waiting for a story. "They adore you," he murmurs, looking away as she washes her hands, ignoring her reflection in the mirror.
"Yeah," she says back. And just like that he swallows her up again. His fingers wrap around her waist and hold her there, in that moment, his tongue pressing gloriously against her lips and his hair turning every colour, red to green to blue to yellow, to shades she didn't know existed.
Eventually, she pulls away first, her chest heaving raggedly.
She can't look him in the eyes; she stares at the floor instead, and the contrast of his large feet against her petite size sixes. "We're in your own house, Ted," she chokes out, and she doesn't know why but she's gotten teary-eyed all of a sudden. "Do we have any morals anymore?"
He doesn't reply. He presses one chaste kiss to her lips, capturing the lost moment, and then walks away, around the corner, without looking back.
"Lily, what is love?" Angelique asks suddenly after Lily finishes the Tale of Babbity Rabbit and her Cackling Stump.
Taken aback, Lily does a double-take. "What was that, sweetie?"
"Mum says that she loves daddy and daddy loves mummy and we all love each other," the eight-year-old explains, her blue eyes pure, "but what's that s'posed to mean? Who do you love, Lily?"
Lily swallows dryly. "It means that your family cares about each other very much," she replies hoarsely. "I love you and Ollie, of course. And my dad and mum. And my cousins. And my whole family. You can love anybody you choose."
"Do you love my daddy?" Angelique asks, her mind devoid of any bad intention.
She doesn't answer the question for a long time. When she finally parts her lips to speak, the little girl is already beginning to drift off to sleep. "No," she whispers, afraid to raise the volume of her voice any higher, "I don't think I do."
The lie is heavy on her tongue.
"One of these days, you should stay past breakfast," Lily requests, trying not to sound too demanding. "There's a café down the street that's got the best sandwiches."
Teddy coughs. "Maybe," he says back, not making any commitments. "Maybe I will tomorrow."
She pretends she doesn't get her hopes up as he rolls over onto her, his face looming over her. "I love you," she breathes, afraid of his reaction.
He doesn't say anything back. Only kisses her, and suddenly she isn't sure whether she'd even said it at all. She's not even aware if it's true or not.
He leaves in the morning, anyway. She pretends she doesn't care.
She keeps thinking about the question her god-daughter had asked her that one night. What is love? She scours her memory for anything that may lead to the answer to the question. The colour of his hair when he sleeps? The sound of his moan in the middle of the night? The way his hand feels intertwined with hers.
Here, at her seat on the stool, she swallows the amber liquid ruthlessly, without stopping, wanting to get rid of this feeling of heaviness in her chest once and for all. "There is no right answer," she says aloud to no one in particular. "There's no such thing as love."
She orders another one. This is going to be a long night.
It's ridiculous how hard it was to write this. I think I'm losing my touch.