Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Oh. I've missed this.
warning: again, don't read if you like capitalization. also, this is really confusing.
about as tangible as an explosion
"maybe i would've been something you'd be good at
maybe you would've been something i'd be good at"
- Tegan and Sara
it begins when a baby cries, with small but bright green eyes and peachy orange fuzz and a wild, loud voice.
it begins when life starts and another one changes.
she hates it when she misses him; but she loves it at the same time because it makes her, forces her to remember his royal blue hair and gryffindor-golden eyes and tanned skin and gentle smile with the same exact precision as muggle photograph.
she'd never forgive herself if she forgets.
she leaves the next day.
she always complained that there was nothing to do in england if you've lived there all your life. he'd always teased her and accused her of lying through her teeth but it's only now that he realizes as he deals with the finality of the sound of it.
"lily in romania," albus says out loud again, reading the letter that charlie had sent them. teddy cringes shamelessly.
he tries and thinks of anyone he knows that moved back to england from romania and he can't think of anyone but charlie, who always went back, and he resents that more than he's ever resented anything before.
"i trust you, even with the mistakes you've made," harry confesses, "and i know that you'd be good to my daughter." albus doesn't even react to this news, only sighs and raises his eyebrows, but james looks up and makes a big fuss that everyone ignores because they're used to james' dramatics.
something deep in teddy's chest rumbles. sure, on the surface, he's proud to gain harry's approval, but he wonders why everyone keeps saying that. not that being good to lily part, because lord knows that he would do anything that makes her happy—not that she seemed to be aware of that—but the trust part. "i trust you, i trust you, i trust you," everyone says. he doesn't know why. he doesn't even trust himself.
"please please please don't leave, teddy!" she whimpers. "wh—who am i supposed to plant f—flowers with and play hide-and-seek with and i—i—i—" her chest heaves with sobs and she stamps her foot frustratingly, making his chest contract and his hair turn black and his teeth press against his bottom lip hesitantly as he kneels down. "victoire will be there and you like her better than me and she'll be your best friend instead and you'll never come back because you won't love me anymore."
"but, uh, lily, if i don't go to hogwarts then i'll become stupid, and if i'm stupid i won't get a job, and then i'll become poor and i'll have to live in your parents' spare room for the rest of my life, mooching off their hard-earned galleons and making you cook my lunches," he explains tentatively.
six-year-old lily wipes her nose with the back of her hand. "i…i wouldn't really mind that, and neither would mum or daddy, i think," she assures him.
teddy laughs. "don't worry, lily, i'll be back soon enough," he promises.
she gazes at him doubtfully. "okay," she says. she trusts him.
but even then, she knew it'd be a mistake to.
he sees her for the first time in a year and she's never been so beautiful.
"teddy," she breathes, "teddy, i missed you. where've you been?"
"waiting for you," he replies. "i've been waiting for you, and i will wait for you always." she smiles, her eyes misty, and he thinks this is the forever he'd promised her long ago.
and then she slaps him.
all of a sudden she catches him by surprise at a party he'd been told she would be missing and that's when hell breaks loose.
he sees her from across the room, bright red hair and white smirk glowing. he thought she was spending her christmas holidays at a friend's house! but here she was and this was definitely not a friend's house and teddy panics and panics and panics because it's the only thing he can remember how to do at the very moment when he stops breathing.
because just a couple years ago she was innocence and giggles and freckles and purple socks, so who's this girl in the short skirt with the long hair and red lipstick and dark eyeliner and legs that seem to stretch forever as she bounds toward him with elegance and excitement.
"lil," he cries, because he's not sure what else there is to say. "did you, ah, cut your hair?" he asks stupidly.
she sneers and suddenly the roles are reversed and it's like she's the one nine years older rather than he. "oh, teddy," she sighs, and touches the side of his chin with her fingertips. "sometimes you're so blind." and then she disappears into the wind with the place on teddy's jaw where she'd held him stinging.
he stops seeing her when she turns fifteen.
he was never one to be able to resist temptation easily, and merlin, she was the definition of temptation.
they're sitting on a swing in the garden, her lilies and roses and peonies and sunflowers and violets and delilahs all blooming together in a colorful disarray. she laughs loudly and puts her feet on his lap and he thinks that she could be the sun in the summer.
"i wish this would never end," thirteen-year-old lily whispers.
"what?" he asks, the careful sway of the swing making him sleepy. "summer holidays?"
"no, silly! well, yes, but that's not what i meant." she sighs softly, her breath intermingling with the grassy air. "i meant us."
teddy looks at her, and then leans over and presses his lips against her forehead. "we'll never end, lily," he says, because he doesn't think of her in that way. he doesn't think of her light auburn hair or her green eyes or her brown dotty freckles or her pink lips that way. he thinks that he'll never think of her that way. "us and forever go hand-in-hand."
"i love you, teddy," she tells him.
"love you too, lils," he replies without even taking a breath because he doesn't mean it in that way and he won't for a few years more.
"you're married, then?" she asks him breathlessly, her eyes broken with disappointment.
"merlin, no," he cries, his hair turning blue with each word they exchange. her eyes fill with color again. "i don't even have a girlfriend, lily. yes, i went out with witches but they couldn't compare. everyone knows that i could never marry anyone but you, lily, never anyone but you."
she blushes at the corniness but he knows that this is homecoming, in many ways, for both of them.
she writes him a letter once during her sixth year while he's avoiding her.
it goes like this:
i hate you.
i wish you hadn't left me because then i wouldn't hurt so bad.
she crumples it up and lights it on fire with her wand. she watches it turn to ash. when the flames are at their highest, the parchment takes on the same color as her hair.
he gets intoxicated one night and apparates in front of her window, stumbling into the garden and stepping on her squash plant. he throws rocks and clumps of dirt until a light turns on and a voice talks inside. suddenly, a door opens and a girl screams and someone begins to yell. the window opens and lily's red hair tied in a bun appears, her face soon after.
"you had no right to do that to me," she hisses loudly, her face dangerous. "no fucking right, lupin!"
and then he realizes it, with painful dreaded doubt as ginny grabs lily from behind and pulls her back into the room, both of them yelling and swearing at each other while another male voice tries to intervene, one that doesn't sound like albus or james or harry.
his godfather shows up in the backyard about a minute later, his wand in his back pocket and his hair messier than usual. "come on, ted, let's get you back to your flat," he sighs, exhausted.
"she's got a boy up there, hasn't she," teddy slurs out loud, his voice much sadder than he'd planned.
harry doesn't say anything but, "i'm sorry," and it doesn't take away the ache in his stomach.
there's nothing but the feeling of her against his skin anymore and the soft soft softness of her lips as her back is pressed against the pillow gently. he can't think anymore, as her scent and feel and voice fog his mind up. but he doesn't need to think with lily. she is instinct, she is action, she is movement and she is here right now and that's all that matters to him. that's all that will ever matter to him.
he hops into the first fireplace and floos to romania four months later.
he isn't sure what to think as he arrives in the romanian ministry of magic with a dizzying spin, the feeling of his feet back on solid ground, and a cloud of green smoke. he knows that she knows that he's coming because hugo had owled her.
he doesn't know what to expect.
is she going to run into arms, wrap her legs around his waist, and kiss him? or maybe she would just look at him and stare in that cold, desolate way that she does sometimes. he wonders if maybe she'll even be there. maybe she's stopped caring. maybe she never cared.
he thinks that all of this will fade away the second he sees that face that will never fade from his memory no matter how much makeup or how less makeup and if it's chubby or arrogant and young or old and he thinks that is true for everything about her. he thinks about how she could change in every way and he would still know she was lily. because she was a part of him. she was his essence. she wasn't lily without him in the same way that he wasn't teddy without her. and just like that he's not afraid anymore. he doesn't know why he would ever be afraid of someone he loves so much.
the air smells of both of them mixed together, her perfume and his cologne, their sweat and their breaths in one scent, like a potion that makes him dizzy and awake.
her hair, tangled and messy, as red as the horizon at sunset, fanned out above her head against the pillow.
he doesn't know anything more beautiful.
"i'm worried about you, ted," ginny confesses one morning over coffee. "i think you need to see her. i think she needs you, too." teddy looks up with blank grey eyes and plain dark brown hair. ginny hasn't even spoken to her daughter since finding lysander scamander in lily's bed that night with teddy outside her window, and now she's preaching to him about finding lily?
teddy licks his lips. "i don't need lily." it feels foreign to say even then.
ginny gazes at him pityingly and sighs. "i remember when she was just a little girl and you were just a little boy," she reminisces. "and now you're both so grown up but you're both still so stubborn and love each other—in different ways—that it's like neither of you has ever changed."
and then he thinks of lily, with her orange hair that slowly darkened into its trademark bright red over the years. the way she was long and lanky and tall and slim, at times frighteningly so. the hollow cheekbones and the intense green of her eyes and the eyelashes that brushed her cheeks when she blinked hard before she cried.
he knows then that ginny is right.
"this is it." she points to the door of her flat shyly. "i was staying with uncle charlie but he has, um, a girlfriend now and i didn't want to stay and make it awkward and ruin it for him so i moved here. and, erm, uncle charlie had this apprentice who was kind of, uh, forward about his feelings and i just couldn't live there anymore." she coughs, and then mutters, "alohomora," and the door creaks open a crack. "i kind of lost the key." they both step over the threshold at the same time, their shoulders brushing together. his hair turns orange and she blushes before letting him pass in front of her and then shutting the door behind them.
he looks around, at the old furniture and a few clothes scattered here and there and three mugs still unwashed in the sink. "lily."
"i'm sorry for the mess," she mumbles without listening to him, like she's afraid that if she lets the silence engulf them then the magic of their reuniting will die out and disappear.
"lily," he repeats, a little harder.
"i was going to clean," she explains, her back to him, "but i woke up late and i got held back at the observatory because the eggs hatched a week early and to be honest i was just kind of lazy."
"lily!" he says. yells it almost.
she turns around, an irritated look on her face. "what, teddy?" she hisses.
"i love you."
her eyes are wide and her mouth surprised and she looks both terrified and ecstatic. "oh," she manages anticlimactically. teddy steps toward her, and she almost takes a step back but she stops herself just in time and it's then that she realizes just how tired she has made herself.
he's patient but also tired of waiting, and his hair is aquamarine and his eyes jade. "did you hear me, lily?" he asks gently. "i love you."
she swallows. it's so familiar, and yet all the connotations of it are suddenly so different from years ago. this is what she wanted, didn't she? she doesn't want to run anymore. lord, she's so tired of running away. "i love you too, teddy," she breathes, and then she says it again for good measure. "i love you too."
everything is different now, they both realize, and yet familiar as he takes her in his arms and picks her up and carries her away. it's been nineteen years in the making.
she sees her family for the first time in a year and half.
lily hugs her brothers tightly, stands on her tiptoes and kisses her father's cheek, brushes back his black hair, flecked with grey, and then kisses him again on the forehead, smudging his glasses with her nose. he laughs and takes them off and cleans them with the hem of his shirt.
and then ginny appears from behind them, her hair shorter and darker and graying, also, and lily lets out a sob and runs into her mother's arms and looks so young and so grown up.
"thank you, teddy," harry whispers, putting an arm around his godson's shoulder, and teddy begins to trust himself.
marry me, marry me, marry me, teddy whispers into the darkness of his mind, the crevices and nooks and crannies that lily has memorizes and yet he hasn't even half-figured out. he guesses that one slips out of his mouth because lily turns around, her bare back pale, and stares at him.
"what?" she asks bluntly.
teddy coughs. "well—uh—"
"did you just say what i think you did, theodore?" she asks, half teasing and half serious, a smirk already beginning to form on her chapped lips.
"i…i…i…" merlin, he seems to have temporarily lost the ability of speech as she turns over underneath the covers, looking up at him, curled up against his chest.
she tucks her face into the crook of his neck, every breath she takes warm and comfortable as he almost begins to fall back asleep. "because if you did—ask me to marry you, that is—i would have said yes," she murmurs. "i think that, even if you didn't, i would have said yes anyway."
he decides in the morning that, yes, he did ask her to marry him. because he knows they're both tired of running and watching each other's back.
they get married in the early summertime, when the flowers are blooming and everyone likes to laugh. she looks beautiful in her dress. he couldn't imagine anyone else in it.
he doesn't even waver in his, "i do," doesn't think before saying it as their lives change together. he thinks that his life didn't change in late august twenty years ago when lily was born. he thinks that his life began.
and when he looks at his sun in the summertime and she smiles at him, he is happy to finally give the forever he had promised her.