a/n: half of this isn't even coherent, so i apologize profusely for that. i don't know what else to say except for, enjoy!

disclaimer: j.k. rowling ©

A flash of white. It might've been a handkerchief. Maybe the clean coat of a doctor. Maybe a sock.

Thump. Fuck. Thump. Thump. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Thump. That's his heart, he's sure.

There is a faint whisper. It sounds a lot like I love you, though he can't be sure. It might have been Goodbye.

He awakens on the floor, sheets bunched up around him, tangling in his legs.

He crawls into the bed, eyes closed and sore and red, fingers grasping for the long threads of fire-engine red hair. It is quiet and there is not a trace of inhale, exhale. Tear tracks, dry eyes. He sleeps, if only for a moment.

It's hot; it's cold; there are goose bumps and sweat breaking out on his skin and his eyes are tired. He is tired. His body is sagging, old.

The world is a swirl of white. Her laughter, smiles - colourful. So colourful.

He feels nothing. It's okay.

Throat, eyes, nose, face - raw.

He falls onto the white pillow, white sheets, white white white. The only real color is from the hair on his head, turquoise against emptiness.

He wakes up. The bed is unfamiliarly empty and stark; oddly enough, there is not a strand of red on her side.

Not one. None. Strange.

His throat is burning and his eyes are swollen and scratchy and he isn't sure why he's feeling so fucked up.

Parched. Hair sticking up every which way. Eyes reddened. Why? When she comes home she will tell him he looks like absolute fucking shit.

He was crying last night. Why? When?

He rinses his mouth out, looks at his reflection. Normal, for the most part. Hair turquoise, eyes a shade darker than storm-clouds and a shade lighter than gravel.

He makes his way downstairs, wondering when Lily will be home. Probably working late, he thinks to himself, putting coffee on the coffee-maker, the potent scent waking him up almost immediately.

Her box of Marlboro sits on the table, one of the fags hanging out over the edge of the table. His mouth quirks into a mischievous grin and he takes it out and tips it into his lips, lighting it with the beat piece of plastic shit she still uses after years and years. Only last night she used it, smoking like a damn chimney in their house. He remembers how he had ravaged her afterwards, effectively making her forget the fag and leaving it forgotten on this kitchen table, embers dying.

He sucks in a breath of the smoke, pouring himself a cup of the coffee. He opens a cabinet; they're out of sugar. Strange. He could've sworn he just filled it yesterday morning.

He looks down at the mug on the table, blinks. Takes a sip and spits it out into the sink. He traces the ash burns on the table, lingering slightly on the one he could've sworn was obsidian only yesterday. Now it is faded, and only an imprint of the burn remains.

Grabbing the Daily Prophet and leaning against the table, he taps the cigarette ash into the mug carelessly.

For fuck's sake, where is she? His eyes dart from the paper to the door from the paper to the door from the paper to the door.

A telephone rings. It's one of the vintage dial ones Lily is in love with; he picks up the phone. It is probably her, calling to tell him she's coming home and that she loves him.

It's not. He recognizes the hullo as James, sounding slightly weary.

James never calls. The younger man's voice is thick and thin and strong and weak. "Teddy?"


"How've you been today?" James asks calmly, only a faint wavering in his tone. The simple question sounds rehearsed, repeated, replayed.

James is acting bizarrely. The older man's eyebrow arches carefully, "Fine, why?" And repeats the sentiment to James. James seems to be holding his breath. Teddy can hear him swallow through the phone.

"Fuck," James hisses abruptly, under the incorrect assumption that Teddy cannot hear him. "Fuck, fuck, not again."

"If you want to talk to Lily, she isn't home," Teddy says cautiously, knowing better. "Do you know where she is, James?"

The younger man lets out a loud curse, one that would've given his sister a run for her money.

"James. Where is she?" asks Teddy, voice bordering on dangerous. The usual questions flash into his mind, is she okay? What happened? Where is she? Where?

There is a momentary pause in which Teddy's heart beats in his throat, and James seems to be holding in a breath, hesitating.

Rushed, James finally responds. "I'll be over in a minute." There is a dial tone sounding in Teddy's ear that he isn't entirely too comfortable with.

Minutes tick on by, and three hundred seconds later, Teddy can't imagine where James's gone.

Thirty one seconds after thinking this, cracks can be heard from his front door, accompanied with various forms of profanity and one reprimand, and then the Potter kids - sans Lily - stumble in, Harry and Ginny following.

"Dad? Mum?" greets Teddy faux-cheerfully, and his voice betrays the worry he's beginning to feel.

The four Potters look at him - two pairs of emerald, two of brown - and he can't help but be hyperaware to the only hazel-green pair missing.

Harry speaks first, removing his coat and tossing it carelessly onto the arm of a chair, wrinkling the expensive material effectively. It might've only been a rag, the way he was treating it, thought Teddy for a second. "Sit down, Teddy."

"Why?" The edges of worry are more evident in his question, but he sits anyway.

Ginny is crying silently. Teddy dreads the worst.

Albus looks deathly serious, hands by his sides and glasses only slightly crooked, bags under his eyes as if he's suffered the consequences of many a sleepless night.

Harry looks worse. Inky hair is now sanded with grey, a few good streaks of hair the colour of Teddy's eyes, wrinkles apparent, looking like he's aged ten years.

Tears ruin the thin line of Ginny's mouth, standing as proud as ever, refusing to break. She, like Harry, has aged ten years overnight. Teddy remembers them being young and smiling, triangles of laughter lines creasing the corners of their eyes like it was yesterday.

Silence ensues while Teddy waits for one of them to speak up. Ginny, maybe, who is thin-lipped and still crying and bears no resemblance to the lioness she once was. Or Harry, the Boy Who Lived, who looks older every passing second, the spark in his eye withering and dying. Or maybe James, who's always been bold and confident, only now he looks more timid than ever, eyes darting from the floor to Teddy's face. He expects an answer from one of the three Gryffindors.

Ironically enough, it's Albus who sends the words his way and brings his world to its knees, crashing and shuddering and shivering and then finally lying still. Cold. Dead.

When Teddy hears the two words shouted angrily at him, and then sees the sudden flame in Albus's eye that was never there before, he cracks and in his mind the horrendous scenario is imagined tens of thousands of ways in one split second. Cold. Dead.

And then he is yelling, screaming himself raw at his family, at the people who'd raised him and Ginny falls onto her knees, finally, finally, and tears bloom in Harry's wizened eyes.

James tackles Teddy to the ground just as the older man lunges forward to hit - punch - strangle Albus - "You're lying! You're lying!" even though Teddy knows he isn't, he isn't.

James successfully pins both of his arms and legs to the ground, slamming his own bulky self onto Teddy and hearing the whoosh of breath that leaves Teddy's lungs involuntarily.

"Shut up!" bellows James, roaring over the sound of Ginny sobbing in earnest and Teddy's incoherent denials and Albus's shouting. "She's fucking gone! There's nothing you can fucking do about it anymore!"

Almost instantaneously at his words, Teddy lies stone-still, his arms previously fighting against James's clenched hands now shuddering to a halt, tense. Ginny continues to cry quietly, mourning the loss of a daughter, her only daughter, whispering screams of anger and apologies. Albus quiets, body shaking with hate, uncontrollable tremors rolling through his body, eyes dry.

"Can I get off of you now and trust you not to go ballistic?" asks James gruffly, voice thickened with emotion.

Teddy nods tightly. James climbs off of Teddy and then offers him a hand, which he takes, standing up and facing the broken family. He waits, and Harry moves to speak.

"She's been dead for a little more than six months," Harry lists emotionlessly, though his eyes, shining, say otherwise. "It was an accident. She was working, and one of them just - just - exploded. You were there."

Immediately, Teddy replies, glint of anger or desperation in his eye, "Impossible. I would've remembered. I would've known if my wife were - "Cold. Dead. Gone." - you know."

Ginny brings her eyes up to meet Teddy's, sympathy and pity and pain in one spare glance.

"No. I was only with her yesterday. She's not dead," Teddy says firmly, voice hard as if showing weakness would be equivalent to admitting she's dead. He fixes a glare onto the other four. "We - she was smoking yesterday, in the kitchen. I remember."

"That was half a year ago, Teddy," Ginny picks herself off the floor and looks determinedly at him, never breaking his gaze despite the tears still currently flowing freely down her face. "She's gone."

The flash of white, the whisper he remembers waking up to last night. What happened before that, he isn't too sure. It's all kind of hazy, a distant memory of him ravaging her in the sheets and the cigarette burn in the table, and it's.

Impossible, unimaginable, inscrutable.

"It can't be," Teddy implores, voice a thousand shades of everything, hair a shock of violent red, "It's impossible! She can't be gone. She just can't."

There is an influx of movement. Albus lunges forward again, screams horrible and terrifying; he sounds like a man in the middle of god damn war, and it petrifies him. There's that essence of quit bravery turning into unpolluted, pure anger, hatred expressed in every enunciation. "She's dead! She's dead! She's fucking dead, and you didn't save her!"

"Albus!" Ginny snaps sharply, but Teddy can see the weariness of her eyes and the shaking, trembling hands, and the slight doubt in her eyes that says ten different things at a time, and it makes him sick.

He retches, again and again and again, but nothing comes out. The silence is deafening in his ears, yet loud ringing seems to be everywhere. Harry and Ginny and Albus and James only watch the man in front of them fall to pieces, similar expressions on their face, twisted in agony.

"How did I not know," he rasps, "How the fuck didn't I know?" He can't move, even if he wanted to. He only stays rooted to the spot, thinks about the ways she would be there, alive – living, breathing, warm.

"The Healers said you had permanent memory loss," Harry explains slowly, painfully, black-streaked-grey hair messy and sticking up and he's so old; he's so old. And the lines on his face tell Teddy exactly how much he's aged these six horrible months. Horrible. "They said you would remember sometimes, that she was dead, and we would never know how long you could remember."

"Some days you would just wake up and forget," Ginny continues, her hand clasping Harry's, both looking grim and wet-eyed and deathly, "Those times were when we had to remind you, because you would wake up thinking things were just – just alright, and – and –"

Albus interrupts, hard and angular, "You take it differently every time. Sometimes you take it well – or as well as you can, anyway. Sometimes you throw up. Sometimes you scream like you're being Crucio'ed, and sometimes you don't say anything at all." Ginny tries to catch his hand in hers, a fierce expression adorning her face, warning him to stop.

He realizes he is quivering. Quaking.

He imagines it, hearing the news again and again and again because he just can't remember; he just can't. And he imagines the fire-engine red hair and the way his entire being seems to clench with anger – grief – guilt, something. He imagines not being able to breathe without the scent of coffee and smoke and the fabric of her jeans, imagines life without the scent of her, with only death to smell – with only death in the air. He imagines the nightmares; he imagines waking up, screaming her name. He imagines the sudden tenseness of his chest, and the pounding of his head akin to the aftermath of a night out drinking his sorrows away.

He imagines dying to be with her. A knife to his heart, a provoking in a bar, an unused rope hanging from the ceiling, and his wand. Oh, the possibilities.

And then he imagines her if he were the one who'd went and left him, and he shudders and trembles because she'd want him to live, for her.

Even if it is waking up every morning, not knowing your wife is dead; even if it is experiencing the tens of thousands of different Crucio's.

He hasn't spoken for a long moment. No one has. There is no one way to accurately describe him, them, all of them. They stand there, stock still, every one of them looking at the others, unable to express anything – everything. Teddy is the first to speak.

"I'm sorry," he says to Albus with finality, and then to the rest of his family, "Thank you."

Ginny brushes a hand against his hair, her red, and the hand interlocked with Harry's only tightens. Harry tries for a smile, such a tired, tired smile, and James pats him on the back, jaw clenching. Albus gives him a curt nod.

They file out silently. Teddy waits for the four cracks before he settles down on a chair in the kitchen, finger tracing the cigarette burn until night falls, and he showers and shaves away the five o'clock shadow, and goes to bed smelling like soap.

He crawls into the bed, eyes closed and sore and red, fingers grasping for the long threads of fire-engine red hair. It is quiet and there is not a trace of inhale, exhale. Tear tracks, dry eyes. He sleeps, if only for a moment.

He awakens on the floor, sheets bunched up around him, tangling in his legs.

There is a faint whisper. It sounds a lot like I love you, though he can't be sure. It might have been Goodbye.

Thump. Fuck. Thump. Thump. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Thump. That's his heart, he's sure.

A flash of white. It might've been a handkerchief. Maybe the clean coat of a doctor. Maybe a sock.

Maybe her, pure and living.

a/n: please don't favorite without reviewing. though this isn't so great anyway; i don't know why you would. anyway, i based some aspects of this on 50 First Dates.