Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter.
I did it! I wrote again. I'm much too proud of myself, but whatever.
say, say, say
"You're only going to leave," she says in the darkness. She feels him breathing beside her. The sound of his heartbeat, the illusion of the moonlight on the ceiling, the shadow of the cracks in the blinds cast against the wall like people passing by, ogling them as though they are a circus sideshow. The duvet is tangled around their legs. Like vines, like anchors. Like his warm arms around her pale stomach and her hair so aflame that he cannot tell the difference between its strands and the air.
His chest rises and falls with every breath, as steady as a metronome. Her fingers spread out, her palm against his solar plexus, feather-light. Her palm and his chest move like they're conjoined, almost as though her hand is guiding it up and down.
She leans over and kisses his chest lightly, a butterfly kiss.
She thanks it for being the reason he is living. For being the reason he breathes. Allowing him to lay next to her in the darkness, the smell of sweat and tea mingling in the humid dusk air, absolute perfection.
"Why do you say that?" he asks finally, his voice husky and lazy. It is loaded with post-coital grogginess, and she scoots closer to him so that she may hear that voice again and again, in her dreams, in her reality, every morning when she wakes and every night before she drifts away into another world.
His arm finds its way around her, and she places her head on his forearm to serve as a pillow. His fingers find her free hand, the one that isn't touching him, and he squeezes. She feels every nerve alert against hers. Her spine tingles when he touches his nose to her cheek, warm breath escaping and floating against her neck, like fog touching the city streets in the winter. "I can feel it in my bones," she whispers, afraid that if she speaks any louder it will break the spell. "It's all people ever do."
He nuzzles against her cheek. A hint of facial hair scratches her skin slightly. "I'm not just anybody," he murmurs. She thinks that if she closes her eyes and opens them again, she'll find herself in heaven.
"You're still a person," she replies, her voice soft and fragile. "I'm still a person, too."
"I promise," he says. "I promise I won't leave you." In the dim light of midnight, he adjusts his position and looks at her with dark brown eyes, the same color of milk chocolate and puppy dogs and the one that always appears when he loves someone.
She bites her lip out of instinct. She meets his gaze, but it smolders, and she forces herself to look away for fear that if she lets him look at her hard enough he'll see everything she fears and everyone he loves and he'll find that he is in both categories. "Promises break," she tells him.
"Why do you do this to yourself?"
A sigh escapes her lips. His tone is frustrated, but his touch is still tender, still gentle. As the seconds tick by without her words, he pulls her closer, rests his chin atop her head. "So it won't hurt as much," she breathes, but by now his breathing has steadied again. She isn't sure if it's reached his ear or if it's lost in this elusive night.
"You were with Teddy last night, weren't you?"
Hugo's deep voice dominates the quiet flat. A smile tugs at Lily's cheeks, but she holds it and instead turns to her cousin and roommate with a hand on her hip.
"Do you think I'm some kind of slut, Hu?" she counters sharply. "I have better things to do than shag boys every night I have the flat to myself, contrary to popular belief. There are other activities I engage in besides sex." She rolls her eyes and turns back to the show on the television without really watching. Instead, out of the corner of her eye, she watches her cousin, panic building in her stomach.
Her cousin nods nonchalantly, running a freckled hand through his auburn hair and shrugging. "All right, then," Hugo says. "I'll just call Teddy up and ask him over for tea and see what he's been up to, then."
Lily's shoulders fall with defeat. "How'd you figure it out?" she asks without looking at him.
"The blue mug is in the sink."
Her red eyebrows narrow. "How the hell would that give it away? I washed mine. There's only one mug in the sink."
"Nobody else but Teddy uses the blue mug," Hugo explains, walking over to the sofa where Lily was perched, two cups of coffee in his hands. "I am actually a lot more observant than you guys give me credit for."
Lily's cheeks turn the color of strawberries. She accepts the coffee, and sips at it, the bitter taste flooding her mouth and awakening her senses. "I'm sorry," she apologizes uselessly.
"It's okay." They sit in silence together, the coffee smell wafting and drowning the space in seconds. "Also, you've got that really glassy eyed look you get after you two get together. Like you're trying to hold in a smirk. Like you've got a secret."
Her face contorts into some kind of expression that's embarrassed and relieved and maybe a little lovesick. Her lips purse and she releases a giggle and then swallows it halfway through with a gulp of hot coffee. "Is it really that obvious? Do you think anyone else knows?"
Hugo shakes his head. "No." He stops for a beat. "Unless you leave your bras strewn around all your mates' and cousins' flats."
"Gah!" Lily sets her mug down on the coffee table and covers her bright red face with her hands. "Oh my God, Hugo. I'm so sorry you had to see that."
"Yeah." He shakes his head, his own cheeks a little warm. "Me, too."
He presses a kiss to her nose, and she wrinkles it, making him smile. His hair is blue in the frigid cold. Even she, wearing a thick Weasley jumper with a peacoat over it, shivers hopelessly when the unforgiving wind breaks into her.
"Don't go," she says, wishing her voice didn't sound so much like she was pleading. "I'll miss you."
Teddy pulls her in for one last hug. He kisses her forehead and smiles warmly. "I'll see you tomorrow, at Christmas dinner at The Burrow." Their fingers, interlace, slowly fall apart until he is already standing at the foot of the stairs leading down. It seems people always move faster when she's watching their backs.
"It won't be the same," she calls, the wind nearly swallowing her words.
Melancholy shows in his face, in his eyes, in the way his shoulders sag and his blue hair darkens a little. "I'm sorry," he says back, his voice always a little quieter than hers. "Someday."
"I'm always waiting for someday." She hugs herself as he turns around and jogs down the stairs. She rubs her palms together, hoping their parting hasn't waken the still sleeping Hugo, and wishes Teddy could kiss her everywhere at any time in front of anybody.
He's on the other side of the room, but it feels like every time he nears her, every time his hand accidentally touches her too low on the back or he kisses her forehead a little too affectionately out of pure habit, there is an overprotective uncle or a strict aunt and finally, paranoia gets the best of them and he remains a safe distance from her. Everything now is just longing looks and passing touches and Hugo's waggling his eyebrows teasingly.
She's standing, talking to her cousins, when it happens. She doesn't know how she could be so careless, how she could've forgotten and taken off her scarf or not at least put makeup on it before she'd left the flat arm in arm with Hugo. It's Molly who notices it, of course, with her blue eyeshadow and lips as red as her hair.
"Lily!" she shrieks. "Is that a hickey?"
And suddenly all the young girls are crowded around her and a few of the boys glance over lazily to see what all the fuss is about. Luckily, the adults have left the room and gone into the kitchen and James is off probably making out with his new girlfriend and Albus is too passive aggressive to care. Fred makes a crack and Dominique punches him in the shoulder.
Molly points it out, a dark raised little pucker against her bare collarbone, contrasting against her pale skin. "You've got a new boyfriend, haven't you?" she declares.
Hugo, God bless his soul, pipes in. "Please, Molly, just because you haven't had a shag since sixth year!"
"Oh, shut up," Molly counters, and they begin to argue and all the Weasley cousins join in, throwing jabs at each other like every year ends out.
Roxanne nudges Lily's shoulder. "So, who is it, then?" she asks curiously, a friendly grin on her tan face.
Lily blushes deeply, and tries not to look at Teddy, whose hair is pink and looks like he's trying desperately to hold in hysterical laughter, sitting across the room playing Wizard's chess with Louis. "He's just…a boy."
She smiles. "That's nice," she says, her voice a bit lonely. "Wonderful, actually. You deserve to be happy, Lily."
"Thank you, Rox."
Roxanne wanders away to chat with Victoire, and Lily goes to sit next to Hugo on the sofa. "That was too close," he whispers, chuckling softly.
"I know." She watches her family, arguing and playing and laughing and she looks at Teddy and wonders if this is wonderful or fake. And she decides that, yes, she does deserve to be happy.
She ends up spending the night at The Burrow. She sleeps in her Uncle Ron's room, alone. Roxanne and Dominique were supposed to share the room with her, but Roxy decides to go home because she has to go to St. Mungo's the next day for Healer training, and Dominique has gone outside in need of a smoke. The rest of the rooms are crowded and the hallways are still lit with Weasleys and company, reconnecting and sharing old stories.
Lily sits in the rickety bed, tracing the faded wallpaper, looking at the moving pictures that her father and Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione had pinned onto the walls together. She inhales the smell of chicken and maternal love that always seems to be connected to The Burrow. She lays back and enjoys this night of seeing her family again. She enjoys her family, no matter how many times they seem to stand in the way of her life.
Suddenly, with a pop, a figure she can't make out in the darkness appears in the middle of the room, by the door. Startled, Lily grabs her wand and points it at the figure. "I will fucking kill you," she whispers threateningly.
The person's hands go up in a surrender. "Lily, it's me!" Teddy cries, terrified.
"Ted!" She laughs, her fear gone. "I'm sorry. You frightened me."
He laughs, too, and sheds his coat and shoes. He crawls into bed with her, his body still a little chilly. "I'm sorry," he murmurs, snuggling against her and feeding on her cozy warmth.
"I thought you'd gone home," she says. She leans into his embrace, content. He has brought with him the smell of snow and ice and fire.
"It was too lonely there," he explains, and kisses her long and soft. He takes his time, tasting every part of her lips and going down her jaw line, his hands roaming her curves and waistline. "I missed you. I kept wanting to hear your voice."
She smiles against his cheek and drags him up again for a kiss. Soon enough, his shirt is shed and her baggy pajama pants have been thrown on the floor, and she watches his hair change color in the dim light, from blue to red to gold to black to shocking, jaded green. The color of the gem and the color of fresh grass and the color of her eyes in good lighting.
Suddenly, the doorknob jiggles. She gasps in shock and he puts a hand over her mouth before she lets out a scream. "Shit, Teddy," she whispers in earnest. He leaps off of her and collects his clothes. "Wait. Stay." Her voice is so quiet in the dark. Like a child's.
"Lil, are you awake? Can you unlock the door?" Dominique's slightly tipsy voice asks on the other side of the door.
Teddy turns at stares back at her, yellow eyes wide, hair white in surprise. "Are you mad?" he says back, his voice low and shocked.
She curls back at his tone, and then straightens up again. "I'm tired of hiding, of sneaking around," she admits. "Let's just tell them. Let's tell them now."
"I don't think they should find out like this!" he argues.
Dominique, on the other side, groans. "Fuck it." She pauses, and Teddy starts to spin around.
"No, Ted, please."
"I'm sorry, Lil, but not now - soon, but not now."
Dominique pushes the door open, and finds Lily curled up, hair messy, blankets wrapped around her, eyes staring into empty space. "Oh, I'm sorry, Lils," Dom slurs, smelling vaguely of alcohol. "Did I wake you?"
"Yeah," Lily says, her voice cracking. "But it's okay."
Her fingers are numb. She can't see the parchment through her hazy vision, filled with tears. A drop falls on the parchment, making the ink smudge. She crosses out the sentence with a quill and finally just crumples the whole thing up and throws it on the floor.
This shouldn't be this hard!, her heart screams.
She scrawls onto a new piece of parchment, her normally neat cursive messy and barely legible. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry," she whispers underneath her breath. Her owl hoots, making her jump in her seat. The light almost falls over, but she catches it before it can slide off the desk. Its light catches her suitcase, her cloak and wand laid over it in preparation.
She swallows and folds the note until it's almost miniscule, and then she ties it to her owl's leg. "Send it to Teddy," she says. She opens the window, the brisk night air making her face blanch, and the owl pecks her finger before it hops into the sky, disappearing against the night sky.
"You don't have to go," Hugo tells her softly. She turns around and finds him standing in the doorway.
"I'll miss you," she confesses.
He walks up to her and wraps her in a warm hug, his arms skinnier and bonier than Teddy's. "I'll miss you, too," he says, and tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. "You're one of the smartest girls I've ever known, Lily, even as smart as my mum and my sister." Lily smiles, laughing as she slips out of his grasp and puts on her cloak, slides her wand into her boot. "And I know you'll make the right choice no matter what."
"I'm never quite sure until I do it," she admits.
"Isn't that just life?" Hugo grins. "Well, I guess now that you're leaving I won't have use for that bra I found under the sofa the other day."
"Where is she?"
Teddy is in his bedroom, his hair sticking up, his eyes wild, his shoes not matching.
"Holy crap, mate, do you know how to knock?" Hugo screams almost girlishly, pulling the covers up to his shoulders, the blonde at his side watching the exchange in terror.
"Oh, shit." Teddy covers his eyes. "I'm sorry, Hugo, I panicked. I just got Lily's owl and, well, d'you think I could catch her?"
Hugo rolls his eyes. "If you're lucky, she might still be at the Ministry, but I doubt it. She's kind of a V.I.P., being Harry Potter's daughter and all. They usually let those folk through faster than regular wizards. I know from personal experience. Being one of those folk myself."
"Thanks. I'm really sorry Hugo, and you too, uh -"
"Marissa," she squeaks.
"Marissa. It was a pleasure meeting you, and it was nice seeing you again, Hugo, we ought to do this again some time, but I've really got to go…" He spins and apparates out of there fast.
Hugo turns to his girlfriend. "I'm sorry, that usually doesn't happen. And it won't happen again."
"It better not," she sighs. "I'm just going to go to sleep and pretend that was all a nightmare. Good night."
He runs, abandoning all dignity he has and ignoring the flashes of cameras and points that follow him often. He parts the crowd, sometimes tagging someone on the shoulder, able only to shout a passing "Sorry!" over his shoulder. He can't risk slowing his stride.
A yellow line and a shield charm separates him from the fireplaces for International Flooing. "Lily!" he calls, his voice slowly turning to a scream. "Lily, wait, please!"
A wizard in uniform with an authorative mustache comes up to him. "Excuse me, sir, but I'm going to have to ask you to leave the premises."
"Please, I'm looking for a girl," Teddy begs, resisting the urge to get down on his knees. The man eyes him, his icy blue eyes knowing and understanding.
The wizard breaks. "Go on, then, go to that desk over there and ask the witch. She keeps track of everyone who checks in. Just stop yelling. I don't think your girl will like it very much if she hears you squealing like a girl."
"Thanks, so much," Teddy cries, ignoring the insult. He makes his way to the desk, but the witch explains that it's a new shift and that in the records they don't have any Lily Potter, and she's probably already let to Romania, I'm so sorry, we can't let you go without setting a prior appointment at least a week in advance.
He leaves with a heavy heart and a stone in his stomach. It seems the world is colder, and passerby's stares meaner. He thinks that he can't breathe. He thinks he doesn't want to breathe. All he wants is to see her, to feel her, to hold her hand and wake up with his arm around her waist and to spend every single day and every single night with her. He thinks he shouldn't have kept her waiting. He thinks he'll never wait again if it means he could kiss her.
He goes into his roommate-less flat alone. No one is there to leave a light on for him, to make him a mug of tea and leave it on the table, to sit on the sofa watching telly waiting for him to come home and greet him. There is no one to wait for him. He has kept them all waiting and they've grown tired of it.
He throws his coat on the floor and places his wand on a hallway table, catching a glimpse of his haggard self in the mirror. He runs a hand through his windblown hair and leans against the wall, sliding down to the floor, exhausted and defeated.
He jumps, startled, and feels for the wand he had left behind. He looks in the direction of the voice, and sees Lily, sitting on the sofa, her suitcase beside her, her cloak in her hand. He almost thinks it's an illusion, a figment of her imagination, but his memories and mind never did her justice. She is ethereal in his eyes. He stares at her like a desert man come across an oasis. He drinks in the image of a girl he thought he'd lost.
"I couldn't go," she tells him. "I was about to set foot in the fireplace and something pulled me back. So I came here. And you weren't here. And I just…I was too tired to leave, so I stayed."
He opens his mouth, but no words come out. He's still in shock.
She hangs her head. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have…I'll go home. I'll just come by tomorrow morning."
"No!" he shouts. "No," he repeats, calmer this time, and runs to her, like he can't do it fast enough. He takes her in his arms and he kisses her lips and her face and her neck and he tells her he loves her a thousand times. He promises and she doesn't wait, she stops waiting and she does it. She loves him back and she turns on the light and they confess their love in the light, where they can see the look in their eyes and find the falseness in their promises if there is any, instead of in the darkness, where anyone can say things they don't mean.
They tell the whole family in the morning. Teddy holds her hand through it and Lily is blushing the whole time as the entire Potter-Weasley clan stares.
Nobody is even shocked, except for Molly, whose eyebrows raise.
"You knew the whole time?" Lily screeches. "And you pretended like everything was fine?"
"We've known since you were seventeen," her grandmother confesses, holding in a laugh.
"And nobody did anything about it?"
Ginny pushes Harry in front of her, coughing. Her father looks at the ground, laughing. "We were a bit angry at first. Er - Teddy, d'you remember that time you woke up with one eyebrow and we blamed it on the gnomes?" Teddy looks at his godfather, outraged. "It was us. James, Ron, and I."
"You've known for ages!" Lily cries in disbelief. "And we had to sneak around all this time, when you guys already knew. Hugo! You pretended to be surprised."
"Like I said," Hugo chuckles, "you don't give me enough credit."
"I hate you all," Lily grumbles.
"No, you don't," Roxanne giggles.
"You love us," Rose adds.
"A lot," Albus puts in.
"Yeah," Teddy agrees, wrapping an arm around Lily. "We do. I do."
And they find themselves again in the dawn, wrapped in each others arms with nothing but the light to guide them through.
"I promised I wouldn't leave, didn't I?" Teddy murmurs into her hair. He is losing her, he can tell, as her grip on his arm softens and she sighs into his neck.
"I'm sorry I tried to leave," she whispers, and his spine tingles when her warm breath hits the side of his neck.
"I would've looked for you," he says. "I would've gone to the ends of the world to hold you."
"That's so corny," Lily giggles.
Teddy smirks. "It's your perfume. It's like I'm getting high off of it."
"I don't know if that's an insult or a compliment."
"A bit of both."
The sun is already beginning to rise, its soft pastel yellow flooding the room with light. Teddy traces a map onto Lily's arm, an invisible tattoo. He presses another kiss into her hair and falls asleep as the day begins, and thinks this is what forever is made of. In the pocket of his discarded jeans, a crumpled piece of parchment, folded a million times and tearstained, is starting to fall out onto the floor.
They don't love you like I love you. But I can't wait anymore.