a/n: lots to say in regards to this. First off, I owe a huge thank you to Izzy, The-Hufflepuff-Death-Eater, who has been so kind in letting me totally steal her idea. She was so unbelievably lovely when I asked her if I could and I just want to thank her forever. This whole plotline, Lily Luna running off with the Doctor, is entirely hers and I take no credit for it at all.
Secondly, this is going to be a TeddyLily, just to warn everybody.
Thirdly, I write Lily Luna Potter with green eyes like her father, so my apologies if you dislike that. It's become my head canon so sorry, but she'll be green-eyed here.
Fourthly and most importantly, this is meant for one of my best friends here, Jenny, who you probably know better as on rooftops. She is magnificent and brilliant and awe-inspiring and also incredibly lovely and I hope she likes this. Also it's for her birthday, which was several weeks ago now. I'm sorry it's late! So happy birthday, Jenny! I hope you had the wonderful day you deserve.
what if we prayed to the man in the moon?
If you do something too good, then, after a while, if you don't watch it, you start showing off. And then you're not as good anymore.
-—J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
It happens like this – one minute she's storming out into the empty garden with her head full of the way Teddy looks at Victoire, and the next there's a large metal man chasing her down the lane chanting "delete, delete".
As Christmases go, Lily Luna Potter has known better.
She doesn't even know why she's running but there's something about the thing and the cold hard steel of its face that has her wanting to scream until she doesn't have any breath left. She charges along the lane, head down, legs carrying her faster than they've ever carried her before.
She's wondering about stopping and drawing a wand on it or something – would this count as self-defence? – but then out of nowhere there's a man sprinting alongside her, shouting incoherently.
"What?" she shrieks at him furiously, the word desperate and breathless on the freezing winter air. He puts out an arm and drags her abruptly to a halt, and then she's being yanked sideways into a snow-covered hedge as a second man comes out of nowhere and plunges – of all things – a sword into the heart of the… the… the thing.
Lily clambers out of the hedge, breath puffing out in front of her, and to vent her feelings gives the first man a swift kick in the ribs as he struggles to free himself from the branches.
"Ow!" he protests crossly, staggering upright and clutching at his side as he glares at her, "What was that for?"
"The fuck," Lily says to him slowly, expression icy and dangerous, "Are you doing?"
"That's not a sentence," he jibes, eyes narrowing and bearing getting angry as he exhales the last word in contempt. They scowl at each other for a few moments more before the second man is abruptly pushing Lily out of the way and grabbing at the first man, tugging him around and pressing unsympathetic fingers into his side to examine the extent of the injury.
"She kicked me!" the first man exclaims, pointing an accusing finger at Lily, demeanour now singularly reminding Lily of a wronged child, "Rory, did you see, she kicked me!"
"Yeah, well, you probably deserved it," the second man – Rory – says with an air of exasperation, "You did land on her when you pushed her into the hedge."
"Yeah, well," the first man says with a tilt of his head, and then falls quiet, apparently unable to think of a decent ending to this argument, until he suddenly adds petulantly, "You stabbed the cyberman." Lily's eyebrows dart upwards and back down again swiftly, a slight smirk curving her lips upwards. She stays where she is – she had been inclined to storm off but there's something about these two that has her wanting to see what they're up to and what they're going to do next.
She nearly jumps out of her skin a second later as there's a crackling of electricity from behind her and she whirls and leaps at the same time, colliding with the man called Rory as the metal man jerks convulsively, head swivelling from side to side as it makes unintelligible noises. Rory's hands grab at her arms automatically and before she has time to react he's shoving her behind him and the first man is darting forward, fiddling swiftly and surely with something on the metal man's chest before casting some sort of spell on it or something.
With a sudden, heart-rending screaming, the metal man falls limp and lifeless and something about the noise it made has Lily wanting to cry. She shakes the feeling off with ease and folds her arms as the two men poke at the thing. She catches snatches of a conversation (-"but what's a cyberman doing here?"-) but they have their heads too close together and are talking too quietly for her to make much out.
"So am I just going to stand here while you two whisper intimately to each other or can you tell me what's going on?" she demands finally, winding her Slytherin scarf more tightly around her neck and giving them both a glare learned from her grandmother.
They start, as though they had forgotten she was there, and turn slowly to face her.
"The thing is," the first man begins, rising slowly to standing and approaching her slowly, hands clutched together in front of him, "This was actually something –"
He is interrupted by a loud noise, one Lily can't put a name to, and then Rory is suddenly shouting "Doctor!", pointing to a nearby field where Lily can just see something – a box? – appearing with more of that funny screeching noise.
"She did it!" the first man exclaims in delight, throwing his hands up in the air and looking like he might break out into a dance or something, "Rory Pond, your wife is magnificent."
"You're telling me," Rory says, and his voice is exasperated but fond as he gazes at that funny blue box, and it knocks Lily sideways suddenly to realise how much she wants someone (no, not someone, Teddy) to look like that when he thinks of her, like every little funny habit is so dear to him. Without another explanation, Rory is clambering over a five-bar gate and haring off towards the box.
Lily doesn't even watch him go. She's watching the first man, the strange man, as he watches Rory and she's thinking she's never seen anyone look more lonely than he does in those few quiet seconds in the freezing winter air.
"So it was nice to meet you," he says abruptly, turning towards her with a smile, breezing forward to shake her hand, "Er, sorry, what's your name?"
Lily is too confused and astounded and exhausted to do anything but answer, "Lily Potter," with none of the usual vicious wit she employs when somebody is irritating her.
"Lily Potter," he says, rolling the name off his tongue and considering it, "Not bad, as names go. It's nice to meet you, Lily Potter. I'm the Doctor."
"That's not a name," she tells him, and he just grins and lets her hand go and, without another word, saunters off towards his friends and his blue box. He leaves Lily standing there full of confusion, and it's not until later that she realises he never told her what a cyberman was or why it was trying to kill her.
She doesn't tell anybody about the strange events in the lane, partly because she's good at secrets and partly because she doesn't think anybody would particularly care. And if they did, they wouldn't believe her anyway.
As time passes the memory starts to fade, but she still dreams of lonely men in bow ties and blue boxes and metal men more than she'd care to admit. She grows up despite this, sheds Hogwarts as easily as a snake shedding skin, turning eighteen the summer she leaves school and spending the whole night of her birthday in a Muggle club with Roxanne and Molly and handsome-faced strangers who don't remind her of Teddy. Much, anyway.
She's staggering out of some place she thinks is called Bunker, held up on either side by good-looking boys with hair that stays the same colour, when she comes face-to-face with a pair of familiar boots. She is trying to work out how these boots can be so familiar as she straightens up, and memories dangle just out of reach behind her eyes as she finds herself looking straight at a rather snazzy bowtie with zig zags on it.
"Holy fuck," she exclaims suddenly, straightening up fully with such zeal she bangs her head on the Doctor's chin.
"Ow!" he complains, grabbing at his chin and looking at her in irritation as she wobbles on the spot, "Are you going to assault me every time we cross paths, or is it just on Tuesdays?"
"No, I –" she begins, but then suddenly she's reeling sideways and realising that her two support-posts have disappeared, fuckers, and remembering all over again that alcohol does really funny things to her balance. She staggers forward and the Doctor catches her neatly, holding her upright as she frowns at him in ferocious concentration.
"You," he declares conspiratorially, "Are drunk."
"I got ambushed by these little blue cocktails," she explains, having to concentrate to get the words out in the right order, "It's not my fault."
The only response she gets is a "hmm" of disbelief, but then he's half-carrying her around a corner and sitting her down against a rough brick wall, slumping down next to her himself and not particularly seeming to mind when her willpower gives out and her head flops onto his shoulder, make-up smearing onto his jacket.
"What are you doing here?" she inquires eventually, aiming to put a hand on the floor to push herself upright but misjudging and using his thigh as leverage instead.
"Um," he gulps, and he's very determinedly not looking at her hand or her long legs in the laddered tights or any other part of her really, "I was just, you know, um, in the neighbourhood."
In the glow of a streetlight Lily can make out his blush and she's wondering about this when suddenly his hands are closing around hers and moving them to the safety of her own lap and she snorts with laughter.
Her amusement fades as she frowns and her befuddled mind starts to sort all this through. She scowls up at him for several long moments until a suitable question presents itself on her tongue, "Who are you?"
"I'm the Doctor," he says with a jaunty smile, "Rule number one, don't wander off."
"No, no, I know that," she protests, looking like she's having to concentrate very hard to get her eyes to not cross, "But I mean, who are you? Where do you come from? You're not… there's something about you. You're not like other people."
He smiles again, at that, but it's a smile tinged with sadness and whatever, he's probably a madman anyway, "I'm the Doctor. I'm from Gallifrey, and I'm very not like other people."
She mumbles something about grammar and she's halfway to asking about Gallifrey and whether it's near London when suddenly she feels queasy and before she has time to react she's leaning forward and throwing up those blue cocktails onto the pavement and his shoes.
"Oh, ugh," the Doctor says with an air of disgust, hastily wrapping the collar of his jacket over his nose and shoving his boots off as fast as possible, "Humans are gross."
"I feel better much now," Lily informs him blearily, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand and rather unsteadily climbing to her feet, using the wall as support, "I need to go and find Teddy."
"Teddy?" the Doctor asks, also climbing to his socked feet and not seeming to mind as she grabs onto his sleeve to keep herself balanced, "Who's Teddy? Boyfriend?"
Lily gazes at him steadily for a few seconds and she's wondering about whether she should be thinking this through and then suddenly she's bursting into tears and fumbling for her wand.
"No, no, he's not my boyfriend," she sobs, and then she's found her wand and before she has time to remember to ask why he talks about humans like he's not one she's apparating away to the front door of Teddy's flat, ready to make a drunken fool of herself and leaving the Doctor maybe the tenth most surprised he's ever been in his life. And also wearing no shoes.
It's only four months before she sees him the next time. It's Christmas time again, but Christmas Eve this year. She's sitting on a sofa in the Burrow and without meaning to she's watching Teddy and she's watching Victoire and the way Victoire keeps her hand on Teddy's thigh, all the time, and Lily would think there was something malicious about it if this wasn't Victoire, who is nice enough to put angels to shame.
Lily is letting conversation wash over her, not bothering to get involved. Molly and Roxanne are both spending Christmas with their significant other halves and their families, and nobody else really talks to Lily these days. She feels such an outsider, sitting there watching her family like she's not part of them, and she can't put a word to the feeling inside her as she sees Lucy giggling with James or Albus bickering with Rose over a present of some sort. Always together, always watching out for each other, fighting with each other, loving each other… Lily wonders if it means anything that none of them fight with her the way they used to.
When Victoire suddenly smiles up at Teddy and he smiles back and bends to kiss her, Lily can't take it any more. She clambers to her feet, steps over the prostrate body of James' sleeping dog, and disappears out into the back garden without anybody noticing.
It doesn't even surprise her to be faced with that familiar-unfamiliar blue box and a man wearing a bowtie and a smug smile.
"Happy Christmas, Lily Potter," he says to her, and she rolls her eyes and sits heavily down on a snow-covered rock and doesn't even bother trying to be friendly.
"Well, I think –" he begins, looking slightly confused, "I mean, I did ask the TARDIS to bring me to… oh, darn, I got the wrong day, didn't I?"
She doesn't bother to explain that she was questioning the happiness of Christmas or that it's really Christmas Eve, just shrugs like even that is an effort and asks, "What are you even doing here?"
He shoots her a look that's disconcertingly penetrating and then crosses the garden to sit next to her, taking a moment to brush snow off the rock before he seats himself
"So I was thinking," he says, leaning in close like this is a secret, "You should come with me. It makes sense – you're lonely, I'm lonely. We could, you know, see planets and be lonely together and stuff."
"Planets," Lily repeats, looking at him askance, "Is there any reason that's in the plural?"
"Um… because seeing just one would be kind of boring?" he suggests, and before it's occurred to her to ask why he thinks she's lonely he's bounding to his feet and holding his hand out to her, "So, what d'you say? Fancy it?"
She stands up, glances back towards the house, sees her family through the window not even aware that she's left the room, and turns back towards him.
"Fuck it," she says with a quick, rare smile, "Let's see these goddamn planets."
After the initial surprise that it's bigger on the inside, Lily is enchanted with the TARDIS. She hares off within minutes to look around and spends hours losing herself in the web of corridors and rooms and windows and it doesn't even occur to her that she's lost until she rounds a corner and finds the Doctor marching towards her looking a bit peeved.
"Are you done playing Theseus so we can go see some planets?" he inquires, and before he's got a reply he's turning and stomping off down the corridor. Lily hastens after him, catching at the sleeve of his jacket and tugging impatiently.
"Theseus is a crap metaphor," she informs him, "Because I'm enjoying exploring and there's no terrifying monster waiting to tear me to pieces in here."
"No?" he says, and suddenly he's smirking down at her and she hits him, because she thinks their relationship might work that way, and then she chases him all the way back to the console room and they collapse breathless and laughing over the rails.
He takes her out into the peaceful sea air of the planet Epsonus that day and they wander for hours without saying much. He buys her an ice cream and takes her for an afternoon trip on a hoverboat to see the neon reefs of The Far Away Seas and then between them they save seven hundred tourists from a rogue Deep Reef Shark and by the time they make it back to the TARDIS Lily is too tired to do anything but ask the way to her bedroom.
"Up the stairs, second right, door straight ahead of you," he tells her with a smile, heading off down the stairs to tinker with his console, "You'll like it, bunk beds are so cool."
"Oh, but you think that about bowties," Lily complains with a pained expression, and he just grins up at her through the floor and pulls his goggles down over his eyes. Lily gets all the way up the stairs and around the corner before it occurs to her to put her head back around the corner and say, "Hey, Doctor – thanks for today. It was…" She can't find a word to describe her day but she reckons he understands because he gives her a thumbs-up from under the console and then waves her off before returning to his tinkering.
She approaches her bedroom with a little trepidation – she is beginning to have slight doubts about the Doctor's skills at interior decoration, having seen the bowtie mural in the library – but she discovers her fears unfounded as she pushes open the white door with "LILY" written on it in solid green letters. She finds a bunk bed, unsurprisingly, but rather than a second bed underneath to remind her that she's alone she's got a den of some sort, dark and enclosed and filled with cushions, and the posts supporting her bunk bed are bookshelves filled with books from planets she's never even heard of.
Despite her exhaustion, she snuggles down into the cushions and reads for hours.
She wakes up with a crick in her neck and the imprint of a page of What If Regulus Five Really Is Colonised By Artificially Intelligent Androids on her face. She struggles to her feet and heads to the console room, stomach growling with hunger. She finds the Doctor already up, poking away at something, and she spares a moment to wonder if he ever even sleeps.
He takes her for breakfast on the eighth moon of Synda Callisto and then they head for the Eye of Orion for some peace and quiet. As they wander across fields of blue grass and pink flowers, Lily finds her hand drifting into the Doctor's and it feels so natural that she leaves it there.
"I've never had a friend like you before," she tells him out of nowhere, voice loud and a bit harsh in the stillness. He looks down at her and smiles gently.
"Well, you've never been off Earth, so –"
"No, not the whole alien thing," she interrupts, waving a hand at him impatiently, "That's just, whatever. I mean, someone who I actually want to spend all my time with and tell bad jokes to and stuff. Mostly people annoy me."
"I annoy you too though," he says, and it's not a question in any way as he raises an eyebrow down at her, "I know I do."
"Oh, I know," she reassures him hastily, "Most of the time. But… in a good way, if that makes sense. Like a lot of the time I want to give you smack –"
"Which you usually do," he interjects, and she glares at him before continuing, "– but I don't want to storm off and never see you again."
"Well that's good," he tells her with a smile, squeezing her hand, "I don't want you to storm off either."
She falls silent for a few moments and they carry on walking, and everything is feeling entirely peaceful again when she suddenly pipes up, in a smaller voice than before, "Doctor, why did you pick me? I mean, out of everyone you've met – why me?"
He is quiet for a time, such a long time she thinks he hasn't heard or he's not going to answer. She's just about to repeat her question when he starts speaking. He won't meet her eyes, just stares down at the blue grass looking more than a little lost.
"I don't really know. After I left Rory and Amy, I thought I'd be okay. You know, alone and everything. And, if I wasn't okay, it was at least better for everybody else that I didn't take anybody. It's not… right, what I do. But, I don't know, I liked that you didn't like me. I felt less guilty."
"Wait, hold on, back up," Lily says, tugging him to halt and holding her hands up as if to slow him down, "You asked me because I didn't like you?"
"Yeah," he replies with a shrug, shoving his hands into his pockets and meandering onwards, "People… people have a tendency to adore me. And that's bad, that's really bad. See, I like to be adored, and I get… I get dangerous, if I'm trying too hard to impress. With you, I feel like… well, you probably wouldn't be overly impressed even if I tried my hardest, so it's like I can just take you places and the wonder of them is enough. I don't have to risk your life constantly."
"You do that usually, with your friends?" she inquires, hooking her arm through his to show no hard feelings, "Put their lives in danger constantly?"
"Not deliberately," he hastens to explain, "It just kind of happens. I have issues with letting things go. Also the TARDIS likes to – well, you'll probably find that out yourself before long. Suffice it to say, you'll probably be good for me. And in return I'll show you the whole of time and space. Does that sound like a good deal?"
"It sounds pretty damn good, yeah," Lily concurs with a grin, although she's still a little bit confused about how an eighteen-year-old human girl from Northumbria can be good for an alien with more intelligence than all the cleverest people she knows put together.
Later that afternoon he pushes her into the bright purple waters of a lake and she retaliates by feeding his bowtie to a local creature that looks something like a giant squirrel, and it isn't until they head back to the TARDIS, her dripping wet and him morosely bowtie-less, that it occurs to her to say, "I like you now, you know. I feel bad for being so rude to you first time around. And the second time."
He pauses in his sulking to look at her, snapping his fingers to open the TARDIS door absent-mindedly, and then he adds, "And for throwing up on my shoes."
"Yeah, that too," she concurs, chewing on her bottom lip, "If it makes you feel any better, I ended that night making a total fool of myself and my cousin still won't speak to me because of it, so karma got me in the end."
"Karma," he snorts in derision, and he laughs about that all the way into the TARDIS.
Lily discovers that travelling with the Doctor tells her more about herself than it tells her about him. Twenty planets, twelve times, nine asteroids, seventeen spaceships and a ring of Saturn later she has discovered that she is a faster runner than a sprinting gold medallist at the Olympic Games of 400BC, that nothing irritates her more than the Doctor's habit of pushing her into large bodies of water, and that she likes the fashions of Corola Major more than those of Earth.
It's not just superficial things that she finds out, though. She finds out that she's braver than she ever thought possible and that she's good at keeping a cool head in crises and that even a thousand decades and light years from Earth, she still thinks of Teddy at least once every five minutes.
She doesn't find out much about the Doctor, though. It doesn't really occur to her to notice this until one day a while after she joined him – time has stopped meaning much, these days, in the blue box that can take her anywhere in history or the future.
They're sitting in the control room of the TARDIS drinking tea and watching space drift past through the open doors. Lily has her feet propped up on something timey-wimey and he's complained about it four times already but she hasn't budged.
"Who's the guy?" he asks suddenly, startling her so much after the long quiet that she spills her tea on something that hisses and fizzes and makes a noise that sounds distinctly like a muffled swearword.
"Which boy?" she inquires, aiming for nonchalance because he can't possibly mean –
"The one you dream about," he says, and he's giving her such a look over the top of his mug that she can't bear to meet his eyes and so she gazes out instead at the tapestry of stars and hazy coloured clouds of nebulae.
"You're spying on my dreams now?" she retorts finally, and her act of unconcern would be perfect if her knuckles weren't white around her mug, "That's a bit stalkerish."
"The TARDIS likes dreams," he explains, patting the railing of his machine fondly, "She shows me them sometimes, when she's in the right mood. She particularly enjoyed Micky's, I think – they amused her for some reason."
Lily doesn't ask about Micky. She has learnt that the Doctor tends to be reticent about his friends from the past and after she found five boxes of clothes with "Rose" scrawled on the tops and he wouldn't talk to her for a day and a half, she decided not to ask again.
"So the TARDIS is making an exhibition of my dreams?" she presses, shooting a general glare in the direction of the console. The Doctor laughs briefly but won't be distracted.
"Who is he, Lily? I think he's the same boy every time. Although his hair changes a lot, so I can't be entirely sure."
"It doesn't matter," Lily tells him firmly, swinging her legs down and stalking off up the stairs, "I don't want to talk about it."
She walks and walks and loses herself in the maze of corridors in the TARDIS until she finds an open door and steps inside it. She finds a room with three walls and a ceiling made of screens showing space drifting past outside and a floor made entirely out of a swimming pool. Incongruous things to be sharing a room, but Lily has learnt that the TARDIS is a big fan of incongruity and these days she finds it more commonplace than surprising.
She stands and watches stars for a little while before draining the last of her tea and shedding her clothes gracefully, article by article, leaving them piled on the floor and then plunging into the water utterly naked. She sinks into the depths of the pool and the water turns her skin blue and makes a fiery halo of her hair, and she feels something like peace.
She swims up and down for what could be hours, only surfacing for breath, revelling in the familiar feel of water against her skin and the freedom of nudity, safe here in this lonely room in the heart of the TARDIS. Once she's done with swimming she floats on top of the water and gazes up at the ceiling and watches space debris drift past against a backdrop of unfamiliar constellations. If she cries, it doesn't show with the water clinging to her face.
The water all around her darkens suddenly and Lily has the presence of mind even her slightly trance-like state to take note of this and drop back down into the water, letting it cloak her as the door bursts open and the Doctor barrels in, waving his sonic screwdriver around impatiently.
"Look, Lily, I'm sorry about –" he begins, but cuts himself off hastily and his eyes are widening in what can only be described as pure terror as they travel from the smooth bare curve of her shoulder to the dark water and the pile of clothes at his feet, white lacy bra topping the pile.
"Oh, dear," he says, swallowing hard and nervously straightening his bowtie, "Are you –"
"Naked, yes," Lily interrupts with a grin, trying so hard not to laugh she nearly sinks, "S'okay, though. Nothing's on show."
He spins around instantly, and Lily has sunk even lower in the water so her grin is hidden and her hair floats bright on the water like an oil slick. She thinks he's going to leave but he merely shuffles sideways until his fingers touch a small white cupboard in the wall. He throws it open and rootles around hastily and then, without turning, tosses something over his shoulder at her. Lily shoots out an arm to catch the bikini and, taking a hint, slips it on under the water.
"Okay," she says as she finishes fastening the straps, the water around her fading back to clear, "You can look now."
When he turns back around he's blushing so hard she thinks he might set fire to his bowtie, but he manages to get a grip on himself and, concentrating hard, unlaces his boots and pulls off his socks and rolls up his trousers so he can sit with his feet dangling in the water. She swims over and props her elbows up on the side and smiles up at him and tries not to laugh at the memory of his expression when he walked in.
"You been in here all this time?" he asks eventually, glancing up at the walls and the ceiling, and Lily follows his gaze and smiles dreamily.
"Yeah. Space is good for feeling lonely in."
"Don't be lonely," he says, dropping his head down and pressing a kiss to her forehead, "You've got me."
"I know, I know," she responds, patting his knee reassuringly, neither of them minding that she leaves several damp handprints, "I just… you remember you asked me the other day if I wanted to drop in at home and catch up with my friends, and I said no?"
"Yep," he replies encouragingly, kicking his left leg to make a splash.
"Well," Lily continues, "I said no because I don't actually have any friends."
"Don't be stupid," the Doctor tells her instantly, "Girl like you, you must have loads of friends."
"You'd think," she tells him, a sad smile lifting the corners of her lips, "But – did I ever tell you that my dad's famous? Yeah, everyone in my world knows his face and his name. And I saw what that did to my brothers when they got to Hogwarts, our school. James, he was – God, he was such a nice kid and he ended up this horrific, arrogant, bone-idle mess who never did anything for himself. And then Al… Al's the worst. He barely spoke for three years and then it was only because he had friends who loved him that he could deal. People used him, used them both, to try to get to my dad all the time. And then… I'm boring you," she says suddenly, feeling a lump of something sticking in her throat. She's never been much good at emotions, truth be told, especially not at talking about them.
"No, not at all," he says hastily, the interest in his face showing he's telling the truth, "You never told me this before – please, go on. Tell me."
"Well, okay," she continues a trifle unsurely, "See, when I got to Hogwarts, I didn't want – I knew I didn't want that to happen to me. It was easier for me, 'cause I went into Slytherin, but I still didn't dare… I had a few friends, and then I made a few more, and I was close to my cousins Roxanne and Molly 'cause they were in my year, and it seemed to be sort of okay. Then there was this boy in third year and these girls who had just been pretending to be friends with me the whole time and I found out and I sort of – I just drove them all away. All of them. I stopped talking to people. I figured, if you don't care about anybody then nobody can hurt you, right?"
"And how did that work out for you?" the Doctor inquires quietly, but there's no venom in it like she would expect from anybody else. He's just curious, always curious. She can't look at him, because the shame of everything she's done and everything she's become is pressing hot and heavy behind her eyes, so she tilts her head back and fixes her green-eyed gaze on the Pasiphae Galaxy and doesn't look at him at all.
"Crap," she says, with a singularly unamused snort of laughter, "Completely crap. I was so lonely, all the time. Still am, to be honest. But I sort of persuaded myself that I wasn't, or at least that it was better like that. And then there was this summer and my cousin Dominique took me to this club, and… I dunno. The stuff I took made everything seem better. So fourth year, fifth year, I became officially off the rails. It was great. Nothing mattered. It was so… liberating, you know? Then in the summer before sixth year there was this thing, and Teddy was – I don't even know, he was just Teddy. And I didn't realise until he got engaged to Victoire that I loved him and then everything was worse but I tried to clean up anyway, 'cause he'd told me to. I quit smoking, first. That was easiest. And then the drugs and the alcohol last. By seventh year I was back on track but I still… I was still lonely."
"What did you do then?" the Doctor asks, and it occurs to Lily to make a joke about psychiatrists but when she meets his eyes she's seeing something in them, something that's a bit familiar but so, so terrible it gives her funny pains around her heart.
"I had sex a lot, but that wasn't really anything new," she says with a small smirk, partly because it's true and partly because she finds the way it makes him blush utterly hysterical, "And I tried to make up with people, make some friends. But I was… I was so used to being alone that I couldn't. There was this one boy, Lysander, he was so kind to me. I mean, he was kind to everyone, he's that sort of guy. But he was especially nice to me and I think maybe if it wasn't for Teddy… ah, well. That's over now. But apart from him, nobody cared. So I guess I just gave up. It got easier not to care. And then," she adds suddenly, eyes snapping down to meet his and grin lighting up her face, "Then you came along with your stupid cyberman and stupid spaceship and stupid bowtie and you made me care again. So congrats. And thanks, I suppose."
"You're welcome," he says, and they just look at each other for a while before she's suddenly rearing up out of the water and hugging him tightly, burying her face in his shoulder as his arms go around her, and he doesn't even say anything about how wet she's making him. They stay like that for longer than she would like to admit, and then they break apart and he gives her a little grin, one that sort of says it's all going to be okay, and then he hops to his feet suddenly and holds a hand out down to her.
"So, now you care, fancy going to see something amazing?"
"What?" she inquires as she takes his hand to clamber out of the pool.
"Anything you like," he replies with a wiggle of his eyebrows and a cheeky grin, tossing a towel towards her and barrelling off down the corridor, waving his sonic screwdriver around in excitement. Lily laughs and dries off quickly, and follows him without a second thought.
He takes her to the Crystal Lighthouse on Raxacoricofallapatorius six hundred years in the past and in between run-ins with a megalomaniac ancestor of the Slitheen family Lily manages to buy a birthday present for her mum and eight new books for her bookshelves.
"I blame you!" she screams at the Doctor as they belt down a main road, her speed seriously diminished by her bags of books, lumbering footsteps behind them getting closer and closer.
"You always blame me!" he shouts back in outrage, yanking her around a corner and along a side road.
"That's because it's always your fault!" Lily retorts validly and follows him into the cellar where they left the TARDIS, throwing herself through the doors just behind him and chucking her books down in a total sense of humour failure. "I swear, you get me nearly killed because you were trying to be clever one more time and I'm going to take that bowtie and shove it up –"
"How was I supposed to know he wouldn't appreciate my joke about the Rachnoss, the swamp, and the Sontaran?" the Doctor demands, slinging his jacket over a support and hastily setting them spinning off into the time vortex, "Everyone loves that joke."
"You absolute bell-end," Lily tells him, collapsing dramatically into a chair and deliberately nearly tripping him up as he rushes past, "Someone really fucking needs to give you an ability to react appropriately to the situation for your next birthday."
"Yes, and you really need to learn to talk without swearing every other sentence. You're corrupting me," the Doctor argues, accidentally-on-purpose bumping into her chair with his hip and nearly knocking her off it.
"I'm corrupting you?" Lily repeats in indignation, pigtails flying as she leans to give him a sharp jab in the ribs, "No way, timeboy, I am not the corrupter in this relationship."
"Are too!" the Doctor retorts, and now he's got them safely out of harm's way and drifting in some distant region of space he turns to face her and her eyes fly to notice the Rubix cube he's twisting in his hand. By the fact that he is completing it effortlessly, she can tell that there is something more than usual preying on his mind – when he's not thinking hard about something, he finds those things totally impossible to do.
"So," he says suddenly, and his next sentence couldn't surprise her more if it tried, "When were you going to tell me about the magic?"
"I – what?" Lily asks, totally taken aback, "I don't…"
"I've been doing some research," the Doctor explains, yanking his screen around and showing her a picture of Hogwarts, "The TARDIS knows something about pretty much everything, and she's well-informed about this world of yours. I know all about the magic and the school and everything."
"So there's nothing for me to tell," Lily replies defensively, mentally begging him not to ask the next question.
"Yes there is," he insists, "You can tell me about this Harry Potter fellow, and why he has the same surname as you."
"Well, he's my dad, obviously," Lily says grumpily, folding her arms and sinking lower in her seat, adding, "You plonker," as a friendly afterthought.
"Lily," he says, and his voice is infinitely gentle as he drops onto the seat next to her, "Tell me about him."
Lily sighs and lets her head fall back against the seat and then rolls it sideways to look at him, "Only if you tell me about Gallifrey."
"You what?" he says, looking thoroughly astonished by this question, "When did you –"
"Second time we met, outside the nightclub," Lily explains with a small smile, "Just before I was sick on your shoes. You told me you were the Doctor, and that you came from Gallifrey. I've been reading a bit and the name crops up, along with your race – Time Lords, you're a Time Lord – but none of them tell me much and, well, I'd like to know about it. You know lots about Earth, after all. Could we, I dunno, visit it or something? So I can meet some of your people?"
His face has fallen as she speaks, and she can see him drifting behind layers of privacy and self-loathing even as he speaks in a relatively normal voice, "We can't. Gallifrey is... Gallifrey's gone."
"Gone how?" Lily probes, because all those books have told her nothing more than that Time Lords were probably the greatest race to ever live and that on Gallifrey, everything is the stuff of dreams.
"Do you a deal," the Doctor says suddenly, not meeting her gaze, "You tell me about your family and your world, and I'll tell you about mine."
Lily searches his face for a while, wonders at the despair in his eyes, and then whispers, "Okay." So she does. She sits there and she tells him about magic and Hogwarts and Voldemort and her father and her uncles and aunts and what it's like to live with the weight of the world's most famous surname on your shoulders. And in return, he tells her about the magnificence of Gallifrey, of his people, of their customs and their academy and their terrible, necessary end.
Once they have finished talking the weight is both lifted and doubled, and so they sit together in silence for what feels like forever as they digest the other's words.
Suddenly, Lily shuffles closer to him on the bench and drops her head onto his shoulder, wrapping her arm around his middle, and in an action unfamiliar to her tries to comfort him the best way she can.
"So do you think I'm terrible now?" the Doctor asks with a lift of amusement in his voice that she knows is entirely fabricated, "Do you want to go home?"
"I think you're the bravest person I've ever known," she tells him, her voice slightly muffled by his shirt, "I wouldn't think anybody could be brave enough to make a decision that hard and carry it through. And then live with it," she adds as an afterthought, giving him a squeeze, "I think you're amazing."
He breaks away from her without warning and starts poking around at his console, pulling at levers and not meeting her eyes. She pushes herself upright and hooks her toes behind the rail on the bench and watches him. He tries so hard not to look at her but eventually he snaps and his eyes meet hers just in passing.
"You're not supposed to think I'm amazing," he tells her quietly, spinning something on the console, "It's not right. You shouldn't –"
"You don't get to choose what I think," Lily informs him firmly, folding her arms and keeping her gaze fixed steadily on his face, "You haven't before and you don't now. And I do think you're amazing. I won't tell you again, though, so enjoy the moment."
He glances up at her, and as he frowns slightly she laughs as she realises it's occurred to him that she's never complimented him like this before, and after a moment he shoots her a quick, hesitant smile and then returns to whatever he was doing before. She's quiet for a long time after that, thinking things over, and it matters to her suddenly that she's surrounded by people who do the most amazing things, and she's done almost nothing of note.
She doesn't comment on this to the Doctor until a few days later when they're in orbit around a star in the Virgo constellation. He just looks at her and then he laughs for about ten minutes straight.
"Seriously," he says when he's finally stopped, not even noticing the furious expression on her face, "You seriously think that after the thing on Epsonus with the shark and the spaceship with the eyes and the green moon of Agathoria and –"
"Okay, okay, point taken," Lily interrupts with a self-conscious grin, waving her hands at him, "I was just following your lead those times, though."
"You're magnificent, Lily Potter," he tells her firmly, tapping her gently on the nose with his screwdriver, "Don't ever think otherwise."
She hasn't blushed in eight years but she blushes now anyway, and he laughs and takes her mind off it by teaching her his favourite dance until they both collapse breathless and laughing into chairs.
They go back to Earth. The Doctor has a note from somebody called River Song and when Lily asks about her he just tells her she's an archaeologist and that she needs their help. Lily is expecting some big space war or a cool special operations thing like in spy books. What she gets is London in her time in the rain. She is less than impressed.
"Doctor, seriously, I could come here any time I wanted," she complains to him as they huddle under a doorway, collars turned up on their coats to keep out the rain as best they can. He shushes her impatiently and continues to stare intently at the ground floor window on the building opposite. Lily watches too, although she has no clue what she's looking for, and then she sees the briefest twitch of a curtain and before she has time to react the Doctor has shot across the street and burst in through the front door, disappearing into the darkness.
Lily just stands there for a moment, since he did tell her to stay right here and everything, but then temptation gets too much and she sneaks across the street, going around the back of the house and clambering in through a window instead. She creeps slowly along a loud corridor, hearing banging from somewhere above her, and then a sudden silence. Lily has learnt, in the past, that silences are not usually good news.
She takes the stairs three at a time and encounters a large… thing that is oozing pink sparkles coming out of a room cackling. It pauses in disbelief as it sees Lily, but she doesn't hesitate. She's gives a "mraagghhhh" war cry and launches herself at it – sometimes, she's learnt, attack is the best form of defence. Unfortunately, the creature is not entirely solid and so Lily's tackle causes her to go flying right through it and land in a bare room, covered in pink sparkles. She hears the door be slammed shut behind her and turns to look at it in annoyance.
"Tsk," a voice says impatiently, and she whirls back around to find the Doctor strung up on the wall by a pair of handcuffs next to a blonde woman with incredibly frizzy hair.
"Latest pet?" the woman inquires, and the Doctor just gives her this look.
"Hush, sweetie," he tells her crossly, and then turns his attention back to Lily, "Which part of 'stay right here and don't move a muscle no matter what' did you not understand?"
"I understood," Lily replies impatiently, clambering to her feet and attempting to brush some of the sparkles off, "I just chose to ignore."
"I like her," the blonde woman announces, grinning, "She reminds me of a certain someone."
"It's the hair and the bad attitude," the Doctor replies, looking like he can't decide who to be crosser with, "And this is your fault, anyway, if you hadn't come here and got involved with –"
"As much fun as watching you bicker is," Lily interrupts, faintly amused, "Can we get out of here now?"
The Doctor watches her with annoyed eyes as she waltzes across the room towards him, and then his eyes widen as she gets all up close and personal in his space and Lily just grins up at him cheekily, until the closeness is a little uncomfortable and he's blushing just the way she likes it, and then she finally steals a hand into the pocket of his jacket and finds his sonic screwdriver. When Lily has released him, River Song looks like she's not sure whether to laugh or be jealous.
"It's okay," Lily reassures her as she skips across the room, using the sonic on the woman's handcuffs, "We're just friends."
"I know," River Song replies as she drops to her feet with far more grace than the Doctor had, a bit possessive as she moves over to him and straightens his bowtie, "I am his wife, after all."
"You – his wife," Lily repeats in complete and total shock. The Doctor looks pleased with himself at this point – Lily has started to get an attitude like nothing can surprise her any more, so he likes to prove her wrong.
"Kind of," he admits, taking his screwdriver back from Lily and sauntering over to the door, "There was this issue with her destroying the universe and killing me and we ended up married in this parallel universe-y time-streamy thingy, don't ask me to explain, you'll just get that look on your face that you get when your brain switches off."
Lily indeed can feel the expression creeping up on her so she hastily swallows it and, still reeling from the amazement of it, follows the pair of them out of the room to find the monster.
They do some more drifting after that. River Song is long since returned to whence she came and Lily has stopped asking questions about her. There's no point, the Doctor has told her everything he is going to.
Lily likes it when they drift. It's her favourite part of travelling with the Doctor, she has to admit. Sometimes she'll come and throw open the doors of the TARDIS and just stand and watch space float past and feel the calm and immensity of it wash right through her and fill her up. The Doctor seems to understand, somehow. He stands next to her, sometimes. Together they are still and they watch the universe go by; freezing stars and dying stars and great dusty waterfalls of nebulae. Black holes and red giants and eons and eons of the spaces between them, empty and aching but for that tiny blue box that dances within it. Lily thinks sometimes that she could waste her life away watching the wonders of space from the threshold of the Doctor's time machine.
She is out there one unremarkable day, sitting this time. She has a cup of tea on the floor next to her, her legs dangling out into space, one hand holding onto the door just in case. The Doctor appears out of nowhere, goggles pushing his hair back so it sticks up rather than flopping into his face. He sits down next to her, long legs gangling and inelegant until they are hanging outside the TARDIS.
"Can you take me home?" Lily asks quietly, not wanting to disturb the serene peace of the place. She can feel his eyes burning into the side of her face but she doesn't look at him. She knows what his expression will be.
"Why?" he inquires, sounding crestfallen, "Did I do something wrong?"
"Oh, no!" Lily hastens to reassure him, turning to look at him now and patting his knee, "Not like that. I mean – I want to see my family. Well, Teddy, really. I think maybe… maybe I can see him now and not want to claw my eyes out when he doesn't look at me the way I'd like him to."
The Doctor looks at her steadily and she looks back, and after what feels like an eternity of staring she watches his lips stretch into a smile and then he hops to his feet with surprising agility and a cheery, "Righty-ho, then," and orders her to shut the doors as he heads over to the console.
Within a bare five minutes she is stepping out onto the still-frozen ground of the street outside her house. The Doctor follows behind her, hands shoved deep into the pockets of his overcoat. Lily huffs her annoyance with the cold and wraps her scarf more tightly around her neck before leaning over into next door's garden and picking up a soggy newspaper to check the date.
"February sixth," she announces, dropping the newspaper and returning to stand next to the Doctor, staring up at her house, "They're going to be really pissed off with me for vanishing for so long."
"Only a month," the Doctor tells her with a cheery smile, stepping around her in what he probably thinks is a casual manner to avoid a cat padding down the street towards them, "Maybe a bit longer, but still. They'll probably just be pleased to see you."
"Hmph," Lily replies in an unimpressed manner, and then with a deep breath pushes open the garden gate and strides up the path and raps sharply on the wooden front door. The Doctor follows her, apparently enchanted with the house, peering in through the sitting room window in his usual nosy manner.
The door creaks open, and Lily is not prepared for how much it hurts to see Teddy again. Her brows draw down, her heart gives a little thu-thu-thump that is a little like the one she experiences when she is scared witless, but also very different.
"And where," Teddy says in a low and dangerous voice, "The fuck have you been?"
Before Lily can get a word in edgeways the Doctor is pushing past her, grabbing Teddy's hand in both of his and pumping it enthusiastically before leaning forward and dropping an air kiss on either side of his face.
"You must be James!" he exclaims in apparent ecstasy, tossing a smug look at Lily over his shoulder as if to say, see, I remember things, "Lily has told me all about you. I'm the Doctor. It's simply enchanting to meet you."
"No, I'm –" Teddy interrupts, looking utterly bewildered and trying to free his hand from the Doctor's eager grasp.
"That's Teddy, Doctor," Lily corrects, folding her arms and feeling inordinately proud of her friend when he instantly drops Teddy's hand like he has been scalded.
"As in the one who –" the Doctor begins, and Lily cuts him off with a curt "Yes" before he can say anything to embarrass her. Or embarrass her more, anyway. Lily and the Doctor stand and regard Teddy for a while, and he stands and looks back at them like he's not sure this is really happening.
"Have you got any Marmite?" the Doctor inquires out of nowhere, startling both Lily and Teddy, "I just really fancy some Marmite."
And with that, he pushes past Teddy and disappears into the depths of the Potters' house. Lily and Teddy are left on the doorstep to stare at each other and try not to fall beneath the weight of it all. You kissed me once, Lily wants to scream at him, you kissed me like it meant something and then you told me it didn't and I could die of the way that makes me feel.
But this isn't the time for that, and she doesn't know what to say, doesn't have a clue, and so she asks, "How's Victoire?"
"Fine," he replies, and his expression is guarded now, hair gradually flushing a deep violet, "Y'know, cool. Alright. How're… how're you?"
"Dandy, cheers," Lily replies, soft chapped lips twisting sideways in distaste, trying to make the hate she feels for him smother the love, "Just peachy. I've been seeing the stars."
He opens his mouth to protest, to say something – oh, Merlin, anything – but Lily can't bear to hear it so she shoves past him and follows the sound of crashing pots through into the kitchen. She finds the Doctor digging around in the back of a cupboard and when she coughs loudly he straightens up and looks a little sheepish.
"Can't find the Marmite," he explains apologetically, holding up two burnt pieces of toast, "S'all I want."
Lily makes a sound that's halfway between a sob and a chuckle and digs the half-finished jar out from behind the toaster. The Doctor spreads his toast and they steal the rest of the milk from the fridge and then they leave without another word to Teddy who is standing silently in the hallway. No explanations, no tears, Lily decides. Let him tell her family she's run away with a madman, let him rail about her irresponsibility and complain to Victoire when he returns home to her. Lily's going to travel the stars with her madman and his blue box.
"How long will you stay with me?" the Doctor asks her several hours later when they are wandering the crowded aisles of a market in Hong Kong a thousand years into the future.
"Forever," Lily replies in total contentment, and she doesn't see the Doctor's face twist up, doesn't see the look in his eyes as he remembers the last girl who said that to him. The look in his eyes as he remembers what happened to that girl. Lily doesn't notice, fortunately. She is funny and brave and a little bit kinder underneath everything than she'd like people to believe; and he doesn't want her to know all of the past that snaps at his heels.
Lily is going to stay with him forever.
a/n: it was going to be a one-shot, but it is just too long and I have no clue how to get to the ending. More chapters hopefully on their way.