prompts: paradox, in my head, wild, silence
quote:"Nothing makes us so lonely as our secrets" – Paul Tournier
notes. MAJOR AU. I mean it. No magic, no known-each-other-since-childhood, no Wizarding World at all.
Basically I had this idea of putting Teddy & Lily in a Vegas setting for reasons unknown (it might just be my penchant for writing about Las Vegas; I blame you, Hunter S. Thompson!) and from there I came up with the idea of socialite!Lily and barista!Teddy and then this happened and I don't even know what this is, other than the fact that it's had me pulling my hair out for the last week or so. But I had a lot of fun with this and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.
Diamonds and Gold
There's a hole in the ladder, a fence we can climb
Mad as a hatter, you're thin as a dime
I woke up this evening and the sunset burned itself into my eyes.
There was a guy next to me and he had eyes like yours and I wanted to kiss him but I left instead because I didn't think you'd like that. I got up and looked at myself in the mirror in the bathroom and it's funny, isn't it, how you always look different in somebody else's mirror? Like you're looking at yourself through somebody else's eyes.
I always look worse in somebody else's mirror.
I look at myself again and then I go outside. Stars are sprinkled sparsely across the night sky but Vegas' appeal doesn't lie in natural beauty. It lies in gaudy lights and strippers and manufactured people pretending they're more than just robots. It lies in stage makeup and neon signs and flashy hotels only the richest can afford.
You told me once that you wanted to get out of this town, right? Why are you still here, Teddy? Why are you still here if what you really want lies in cities like New York and Los Angeles and Paris?
The first time I met you I was hungover and searching for something more and, well, I sure as hell found it in you, didn't I, Teddy darling? You, with your sunshine eyes and your perpetual happiness and your coffee brown hair. The first time I met you I was in a coffee shop and you were serving and you smiled at me and asked if I wanted cream with that. I said no because don't you know how many calories are in that stuff? And you just shook your head and said I shouldn't worry about things like that.
Me, I just blinked at you and asked what you meant and you laughed and maybe that was when I decided I liked you a lot.
I spent the rest of your shift staring at your knees behind the counter with my coffee growing cold in my hands. I asked if your boss would mind and you just smiled and said that no, everyone else does it.
When your shift ended (at five o'clock, I remember), we walked round and round the city, just talking and I don't really know why I felt so drawn to you. You are everything I swore I hated. Happiness and laughter and fucking rainbows. You were twenty nine then. I was nineteen. Ten years isn't that much in the grand scale of things, really. Is it?
I asked you why you were even speaking to me because don't you know who I am? I'm Lily Luna Potter, daughter of famous casino owner Harry Potter with his billions and billions of dollars and wife who he actually loves, Jesus. I'm Lily Luna Potter, socialite with a bad habit of ending up plastered over the gossip columns in low budget magazines for the desperate. I'm Lily Luna Potter and people say I'm a stripper and a prostitute but I have more than enough money and just enough class not to exchange money for sex and everyone knows it so I don't know why they say it.
I'm Lily Luna Potter and goodness, Teddy darling, don't they love to make up rumours about little old me?
But you said, yes. Yes, I know who you are.
And I laughed because how could you not? I said, then why did you let me sit behind the counter with you with my sunglasses on and my shirt cut far too low, looking like I'm some kind of hooker?
You said it was because I looked lonely.
Lily Luna Potter, surrounded by all these friends, all this money, loved by fucking everyone even though she hasn't done anything worthwhile with her life, Lily Luna Potter is just so fucking lonely. God, I couldn't stop laughing. Isn't that hilarious, Teddy? Isn't that just absolutely side-splitting? I touched your face and asked why you weren't laughing and you just gave me this sad little look that made my heart hurt and I still don't know why.
The next time I saw you was three days later and I was on a bad comedown from whatever I'd taken the night before. I had hoped with all of my silly little heart that it would be your shift and, well, look at that – it was! I took my sunglasses off and beamed at you so hard my face ached a little with the intensity of it. Teddy, you're a fucking ray of sunshine, you know? My head was fuzzy and my fingers were tingling and I was cold even though I live in Nevada but you smiled right back and I felt okay for a while.
I ordered the same thing I did last time and sat behind the counter looking at your knees. Teddy, I really wanted to be your friend but I was so scared I'd fuck you up like I fuck everyone up.
It took me four more trips to your coffee shop for me to finally work up the courage to ask you to take another walk with me. You said yes, yes, Lily, I'd love that, and then you gave me a free cappuccino and I leaned my head back against the counter and thought about how I didn't even like coffee but I was willing to sit through the bitterness if I got to see you.
We walked around Vegas and back and I learned about you. Your name is Teddy Lupin, your parents were killed when you were months old so your grandmother brought you up. You hated high school because you always got bullied for being the token weird kid. That's all right, I wanted to say, weird is good. But that might have scared you off, coming from me. You've had a bunch of jobs. You used to be a session musician for bullshit artists who can't even play their own music. Now you're a barista and money is hard to come by and some months you can barely scrape rent for your shitty apartment in one of the most dangerous parts of town.
Want to know about me, Teddy Lupin? Do you really want to? I'm Lily Luna Potter and my dad is famous round these parts. I've never had to work for anything in my life. I have all the best clothes, all the latest technology, all the richest, classiest names on speed dial on my cell phone. I have everything anyone could ever want. Tell me this, Teddy Lupin. Why are you happier than me?
Society fucked me up bad, Teddy baby. Society fucked me up like it fucked my parents up like it fucks everyone up in the end except maybe you because you've got a smile like sunshine and starlight eyes and big bad society will never get its claws on you, Mr Teddy Lupin, will it now?
Enough about history. I'll tell you a story no one knows. This is the story of the present and it's a cheap B-movie horror that scares the shit out of me because I have no idea what's going to happen.
One foot in front of the other, I'm walking down the street at night and I don't really know where I am. I think about you, Teddy, and how you're made of stardust and spotlights and I wish you were here. I don't say that about people often because I kind of hate everybody but I really wish you were here with me right now and telling me some stupid story that I don't care about.
There are one thousand parties going on in Vegas tonight and I'm staring at the stars, alone. The desert air presses in on me from either side and God, it's too hot. I picture myself sweating out diamonds and gold, like that Tom Waits song you love. Some men will do here for diamonds, some men will do here for gold, well, Teddy, have you ever heard a more accurate description of Sin City in your life?
I wander around the streets for a while and I don't really notice time passing. The moon is out tonight, big and white and round above my head and I blink at it. I think about the man in the moon and I wonder if he's lonely up there all alone. I know I'm lonely down here all alone.
I think about the moon and how it's just a satellite. Just a reflection bouncing off the sun. Just a big lump of rock doomed to circle the earth forever. Maybe you're the sun, Teddy. Maybe I'm the moon. I haven't figured out what the earth is yet but I'm sure you'd be able to tell me.
Where are you right now, Teddy? I'm imagining you sitting alone in your shitty one bedroom apartment in the seedy area of town. That's sad. Nobody should be alone on a night like this. Oh, wait.
There are one thousand parties going on in Vegas tonight and I'm staring at the stars, alone. Wouldn't you be proud, Teddy? You always tell me to stop with the drink and the coke but they make my head feel nice for a while and people seem to like me more when I'm less than sober. Except you, of course. You always like me better when I'm in my right mind. I don't know why.
I find myself on the Strip and there's this guy shouting at me, Teddy. He's got these wild eyes and a wild smile and he's whistling and yelling the most awful things. I've heard it all before but it's never nice to be called a slut and a whore by some guy who's probably had half the girls in this town. You know how much I hate hypocrites, don't you? I told you that one of the days I pressed my foot to the pedal in my gazillion dollar car and drove us out to the middle of the desert and we just sat there and watched the hours go by us. I was lying on the bonnet and you were sitting on the ground and I remember how badly I wanted to smoke but I didn't because you were there and you don't like that kind of stuff.
You were destined to go straight to heaven with your pretty pink lungs and your star spun smile and you made the entire desert light up with your laugh and I never told you because my mother told me to always keep my secrets close because if I didn't I'd lose them and that wasn't something I wanted to lose.
Me, well, I guess I've always had a one way ticket to hell.
Someone else is calling me now. He's drunk and he's got hair the same shade as yours and a jaw line to match but his eyes are hard and cold and he's telling me I look like a prostitute with my short skirt and my smudged eyeliner and my hair messed up because I haven't bothered brushing it since before the party last night and I'm pretty sure I've had sex since then. Maybe he's right, Teddy. Maybe he is. You always told me I wasn't those things but maybe he's right. What now?
I'm scared, Teddy. I'm scared and I'm alone and I feel lost even though I know the Strip like the back of my hand. You know when you close your eyes and you see little dancing lights? I don't see them. I see the blaze of neon of the Las Vegas Strip in all its glory and it burns through me like I am this city, like the glowing lines of the highways at night are my veins and arteries, colliding and intersecting in a haze of gold. Like the neon signs of the bars and the strip clubs and the casinos are my eyes. And the grandeur of the Strip with its extortionate hotels and its dusty air, well, I guess that would be my heart.
I pull my flimsy cardigan over the front of my body as I walk. It's not even cold. I just need to feel the comfort of the material around me to make me feel a little better.
Where are you? I'm all alone out here and I can't get you off my mind and the desert air is suffocating me. Fremont Street is just as lonely and everyone seems to be having a good time except me. Maybe you could come get me and we'd have a good time together, just me and you and a car in the desert and it would be fun, right? Like old times.
Like old times.
See, you're a bit of a paradox, Teddy, because this is Sin City, right? This is where we're allowed to be wild and crazy and gamble too much and smoke too much and drink too much and do everything in excess because we can, but I think you might be the only person I know that doesn't do any of those things. You're an impossibility.
I suppose what I'm trying to say is, well, I wish you were here. You know, like that Pink Floyd song you love. We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year. Fuck it. I light a cigarette and inhale so fast I choke. I've become a bit of a disaster lately and this echoing silence in my head isn't doing me much good. I've been wandering around thinking about you and me and all of this and my father who tries so hard to love me even though I'm a straight up bitch and my mother who has stopped saying I remind her of herself when she was young and my two brothers who have given up protecting me against guys.
I pass a family of about six who are all laughing and chatting like they don't have a care in the world. Jesus, they make me sick. I scowl and breathe out smoke right as I walk by them and I don't even care that I'm contributing to their lung cancer. You would, though.
God, Teddy, I'm so alone right now, if only you could see. I'm ultraviolet. I'd tattoo myself to your skin if I could, just to feel the beating of your heart. If only you could see me. If only.
I pull my cell out and call you. You're first on my speed dial. You have been for three years.
It rings. And it rings. And it rings, rings, rings and why won't you answer, Teddy baby? I need to tell you about how your laugh lit up the desert that day even though you probably won't remember. I need to tell you about the way your sunglasses slipped down your face and I need to tell you about the way the soft dirt parted under your feet with every step you took. I need to tell you about the way my skin heated up when you touched me and I need to tell you about the way you made my heart beat in a way that no one else has made it beat.
Teddy, Teddy, Teddy. I'm in some sleazy club now and I'm ordering some fancy cocktail that will be the coolest colours. I drink one and it's nice so I have another. Then I tell the bartender to fuck the cocktails and give me shots and he does. I close my eyes and I don't see the lights of the Strip; I see you.
Hey, do you remember that time you came round to my apartment for the first time ever and your jaw dropped at the sight of it and you said, Lily, you can't possibly live here. I laughed and kissed your jaw and told you that yes, I do live here and your naïveté is positively adorable, darling. I put on a silly accent and you chuckled at it and later we made love on the couch. I had a post-sex cigarette on the balcony and you painted Vegas prettier than I've ever seen it.
Teddy, Teddy, Teddy. Your name is at the top of my lungs, ready to be exhaled to anyone who is listening. Your name is on the tip of my tongue, threatening to burst out of me. Boom. Crash. The bartender has the same colour of eyes as you. The guy across the room is wearing the same shirt you wore on one of those nights in the desert. Your name is hot on my lips and I whisper it to the empty glass in front of me and ask for a refill.
One night I drove us further than we've ever been before. I drove and drove until we were almost at Reno and fuck, there's somewhere that's even trashier than Vegas so I slammed on the brakes before we passed the sign that said WELCOME TO RENO and I could see the lights: they were a feeble imitation of the ones back home and I've never felt so alone.
I got out the car and sat at the side of the road and I can still remember the way your face glowed neon green in the lights. Eight hours for this, you seemed to be saying because I'd known you for two years then and I could read you better than I've ever been able to read anyone else. Eight hours to sit on the edge of the highway with a crazy girl who has no idea what the hell she's doing half the time.
I don't know why you put up with me, Teddy. I really don't.
I think I cried that night but I'm not sure, but I know you held me close and didn't tell me it was going to be okay and I liked that because nothing's ever going to be okay, is it? Teddy, can't you see I'm falling apart? Look, I'm here. Please please please just come get me and take me somewhere I don't have to think about you and me and my fucked up family and I'm really lonely even though there are all these people around me, I'm shivering and I want to cry but I won't because I know you don't like it when I cry.
Later that night – or morning, I guess since we drove from six in the evening until two in the morning and we stopped for two hours and began the journey back at four – I cried again and I can remember that time because I've never cried like that in my life and
The glass in my hand shatters on the ground and little crystal diamonds fly everywhere. The bartender's glaring and his eyes are like yours only a feeble imitation of the ones back home and I've never felt so alone. Oh, God, Teddy, Teddy, Teddy, I'm screaming and screaming your name like it's going to reverse time like it's going to stop me fucking up like it's going to bring you back oh God,
and I'm out the bar and running to where I parked my car the night before and oh Jesus Teddy darling oh Teddy I'm driving with my foot pressed to the pedal like I did that night and I'm speeding through the city and past that stupid fucking sign – WELCOME TO LAS VEGAS, like it's somewhere you want to be – that tourists spend their lives trying to get the perfect picture of and I'm the Las Vegas Strip and Fremont Street and Reno rolled into one. I'm driving Teddy and how could I forget how could I forget. I'm blazing down the highway until I stamp on the brakes and it's a good thing there's no cars on this stretch of road, oh Teddy.
This is where it happened.
I spill out of the car and my hands meet gravel and white road lines and I just drove drunk and I swore I wouldn't, not after that night with the vodka bottle in the car and not-quite-Reno and the cracks on the windscreen and my screaming and your blood, Teddy. It was all over my hands and I scrubbed for days and days but it wouldn't come off.
There are one thousand parties going on in Vegas tonight and I'm staring at the stars, alone. I count them and count them until I've counted them at least fifty times and the desert air is suffocating me, Teddy. I can't breathe out here. I think I'm crying but I'm not sure and I wish you were here to not tell me it was going to be okay. Teddy baby Teddy I miss you I really really do and I'm not really sure how to live without you.
Teddy, you're dead and I never got to tell you about the way you made the entire desert light up with your laugh. I never got to tell you about the triangle of negative space you made when you lay on my car bonnet with your hands behind your head. I never got to tell you about how you looked in the sunlight. I never got to tell you about how you were number one on my speed dial and the shape of your knees as I sat behind the counter in your coffee shop and how I drank everything you made me even though I don't like coffee.
These are my secrets, Teddy, and they're all coming out now.
Every person driving down this highway has won a free ticket to the official unravelling of Lily Luna Potter, socialite and mega fuck up who killed the only person who actually liked her for being herself.
Welcome to the show.
"Teddy," I'm whispering. You're my biggest and baddest and most beautiful secret. "Teddy, Teddy, Teddy."
But you broke me, Teddy, or maybe I broke me or maybe I was just broken to begin with and you fixed the tiniest part of me only for it all to crumble again. I'm screaming all my secrets now and God, I wish the press could see this. I wish they could see my hands on the warm tarmac and the dirt on my knees and the rip around my hemline.
I cry and I cry and I try calling you again but I just get voicemail so I leave you a message that you're never going to hear and in it I tell you everything. I tell you about how your laugh lit up the desert and how I drank and drank in the weeks after I drove into that car and how it kills me that you were the only casualty except from a few cuts and three cracked ribs and the other driver walked away unscathed. I tell you about how I had the best everything but you were still happier. I tell you about how I wish you were here and how I Love You.
Come morning I'm back in the city and I wander around thinking about you and me and how Vegas looks almost pretty in the sunlight. I think about how your smile was made of sunshine and your eyes of starlight and I keep seeing you everywhere, Teddy. I see you in that guy's eyes, someone else's cheekbones, that other guy's hair.
But I know it's all in my head, Teddy. I know that. And I think I'm going to let go but I'm not really sure how to, you see, because I've never had to let go of anything before as everything always lets go of me first. But I'm trying, Teddy. I really am and maybe it won't be fixed by tomorrow or next week or next year, but it will be some day and you taught me patience so I think I can wait.
Yeah, I think I can wait.
I close my eyes and I don't see the lights of the Strip. I see you.