notes: So this is a 2 month late birthday present for Ella (matt-smiths) because I am horribly lazy and have had a complete lack of inspiration lately as this has taken me like, 3 months to write. But aside from it being horribly late (though I didn't quite manage your record of being over half a year late ;) I hope you had an amazing birthday and thank you for being a brilliant friend!
Reviews are much appreciated if you're going to favourite :)
There are angels in your angles
There's a low moon caught in your tangles
She tosses back her hair and glances back at him over her right shoulder, giving him a subtle wink. One hand is placed casually on her hip, her legs spread evenly. A black dress hugs her figure tightly, the back of it crisscrossing and weaving across the pale white of her skin. Her red hair cascades in an array of curls down her back, the only splash of colour in the very monotone scene apart from her laughing green eyes. The makeup is minimal, just a thin line of black outlining her eyes and a nude lipstick as the makeup artist felt a simplistic look would be more effective for this line of clothing.
"This all right, Teddy?" Lily says to him, holding her pose.
He takes a step back and surveys her. He knows her form so well it could be his own, knows exactly what poses she looks best in, knows how to emphasise everything that should be emphasised. It seems like it's been years and years he's worked with Lily but in reality it's only been about eighteen months. She won't let anyone else photograph her except him which has caused slight hassle in the past as many clothing lines have specific photographers they like to use but if it becomes an issue then Lily simply rejects them and finds another company. It's not like she needs the extra money anyway, being Harry Potter's daughter, she always says.
"Lean a little more on your right leg," Teddy tells her, and she does so.
"Now?" she asks.
He nods. "Now you're good. Okay. Just look at the camera, and don't smirk." Lily has this terrible habit of wanting to smirk seductively at any camera pointed her way and even after months of being in the modelling business, she still has to be told. "Straight face, okay?"
She laughs. "I know, Teddy. Just take it." Her face straightens out and she looks uninterestedly at the lens, raising her eyebrows just a fraction.
Teddy nods again before taking ten consecutive photographs. "Great, Lils. Last pose."
Lily nods, spinning round to face the camera and sitting down. She pulls her knees to her chest and tilts her head back slightly. Teddy gives the signal to the man operating the giant fan who hits the switch. Air rushes out, blowing her hair back from her face and teasing it. Teddy sucks in a breath as her hair dances around her face, exposing the skin of her throat. Every single time it's the same — he finds himself taken aback by her, which is silly because she's a full-time model, she's supposed to be beautiful. It shouldn't come as any great surprise to him. Muggle and Wizarding companies alike pay to have her face blown up on a poster in their shop. She's supposed to be stunning, but even after all this time Teddy still hasn't gotten used to it.
He is shallow. It's just a fact — Teddy Lupin is shallow. He, like most people, is attracted to beautiful exteriors and pretty faces and he will be the first to admit that. There is nothing he loves more than just watching Lily, admiring the slender curve of her wrist, the rise and fall of her ribcage as she breathes, the way she looks in black and white. He would like to open her up until there is nothing but bare bones like ladders, leading step by step to a beating heart, trapped beneath the curving stark white of her ribs. He would like to kiss her passionately, winding one hand into her messy red waves and nipping at the exposed skin of her neck. There is nothing he loves more than just Lily.
Lily tilts her head, silently asking, this good? He scans her, tightly drawn with her knees to her chest but not rigid. Relaxed. He moves a hand and she shuffles to the right a bit. The fan continues to blow her hair out behind her, little strands of it getting caught around the slight curve of her jaw line. He smiles to himself before giving her the thumbs up. She tilts her head back a little further and stares down the camera, giving her best haughty look. Teddy presses the release button and captures another few shots of her.
Lily grins once he's finished, getting to her feet and coming over. She says, "I think these'll be good."
"They're always good, Lily," Teddy says absently, dismantling the camera now that the photo shoot is over.
There's a silence where he doesn't look up, and then Lily says, quietly, "They're not. Sometimes I look really ugly in them."
He scoffs before he glances up and sees the look on her face. "They're perfect, Lils. They're always perfect. You can't really believe otherwise."
"Yeah, sure," she says, but her voice sounds miles away from the enthusiasm it held before. He shoots her a look but she just shrugs and turns away, picking up her bag. It looks as though she's ready to leave and before he realises what he's doing, he calls out, "Want to go for a drink later?"
Lily turns and fixes him with an inscrutable look. They very rarely see each other outside of work and family gatherings. It takes so long for an answer that he thinks he's not going to get one at all, but eventually, she nods slightly and says, "Yes," with one of her sincere smiles. (Teddy has different categories for each of her smiles — there are her "photograph smiles" that he sees every photo shoot, the ones where she's smiling but not really smiling; there are her "family smiles" that are reserved for specifically James and Albus, little secretive smiles that seem to say everything and nothing all at once; then there are her "real smiles" which are ear-to-ear, complete-happiness, cheek-splitting smiles that Teddy's fragile brain can barely handle. This one is one of her real smiles and Teddy thinks his heart might have just stopped.)
"Great," he tries not to beam too much because she's nineteen and he's turning twenty nine in a month and Harry would absolutely kill him if he even suspected that Teddy was even a bit in love with his daughter. It's not a conversation he particularly wishes to have with anyone, let alone Harry. "Coffee?"
Lily laughs. "Come on, Teddy." She shakes her head in mock despair. "Let's go get drunk."
And they do. In fact, Teddy becomes so inebriated that he tells Lily no less than five times that he's in love with her and that he thinks she has the best legs in the entire world. She just laughs and says, "Come on, I think you've had a bit much," to which he tries to protest that he is completely fine and yes, he can walk by himself, but she doesn't take no for an answer.
That's how he ends up back in Lily's flat, stumbling into the bathroom to throw up all over her pristine white toilet. He realises, through the haze of alcohol — though being sick everywhere has sobered him up a little — that he hasn't been this drunk in about five years, not since he finished his Auror training at the Ministry which he later quit because the career wasn't really for him and his passion for photography won in the end. And then, oh, shit, he thinks as he realises that being around Lily when drunk was not the best idea he has ever had.
She knocks on the door then, saying, "Are you okay in there?" He thinks he hears her giggling a little.
"Fine," he croaks.
There's a sigh and the door is opened. She crosses her arms as she surveys him and all Teddy can think is, how is she sober and I'm the one throwing up everywhere? "You've gotten yourself into a right state, haven't you?"
"Go away," he groans, leaning his forehead against the cool bowl of the toilet. The nausea has mostly subsided by now but moving doesn't sound particularly appealing. "Leave me alone, Lily."
She rolls her eyes and he hears the clicking of her heels as she crosses the room and grabs him by the arms. "Come on, get up, Teddy." She pulls at him. "You're not sleeping here because you'll be a little bitch in the morning about how much your neck hurts. Let's get you to the couch."
"Fuck," he manages, but stumbles to his feet and follows Lily through to the living room. She guides him to the couch and orders him to sleep before disappearing into her bedroom. Teddy groans before throwing the pillow over his head and burrowing as far into himself as he can.
In the morning, he has the worst hangover in the history of the world, but it's sort of all right because he's in Lily's flat and she's sitting opposite him, watching him with that familiar little smirk on her lips. But she's here, and Teddy thinks he might be dying if the pounding in his head is anything to go by, and Lily is wearing the boldly patterned dress he bought her for her eighteenth birthday, and, well, shit, she's beautiful. She's a catastrophe, a calamity with a drinking problem the size of England and an obsession with landing herself in the gossip column of Witch Weekly but God, is she beautiful. Not in a traditional way. In a modern, made-for-photographs, slender and almost dainty way. He can't describe it, not in words. The only way he can describe Lily is through a camera lens, speaking in exposure and shutter speed and aptitude. The right amount of flash to capture the glimmer of her eyes. The ISO setting that captures the shadows in the hollow of her collarbones. And the monochrome setting — Teddy thinks that nothing is more beautiful than Lily pinned down to a piece of paper, reduced to nothing but black and white, stripped to the bones.
Teddy has long since associated Lily with shadows. He thinks he might have been the first to see the ones carefully hidden behind her eyes.
"Hey," she says, tilting her head and smiling fully. "You all right?"
He pulls himself into a weak upright position, narrowing his eyes to slits as the light seeps through the cracks in Lily's blinds. "Nope. And don't smirk."
"Yeah," she says, bypassing smirking and full on laughing now, "I didn't think so."
He frowns. Last night is hazy and he thinks of sepia photo filters and noise levels and Gaussian blur. He thinks of Lily's mouth and how red it was from her lipstick, how it shone in just the right lighting. He thinks of his own mouth, loosened by too many cocktails and spilling secrets onto the floor that he'll never be able to gather up.
"Lily, I—" He swallows, his tongue thick and heavy. The pounding in his head matches his heart beat.
"What?" she replies almost immediately, turning to face him from where she had been adjusting an ornament. Her eyes are bright and earnest, rimmed by smudges of last night's makeup.
"I'm—" He gives his head a slight shake and winces. "Whatever I said last night — I was drunk, I didn't mean it, so whatever I did or, or said to you, it probably wasn't true."
Lily looks at him for a long time before answering him with, "Oh."
Oh. Teddy has no idea what the hell oh is supposed to even mean. Is she glad? Upset? Even just thinking about her reply (okay, okay, even Teddy isn't oblivious and hungover enough not to notice the hurt layering it) makes his head ache.
And then Lily's gone before he can even blink and before he has time to get up and follow her, she's back, pushing a pale pink potion into his hand and saying, "Hangover cure, it'll be gone within the hour," before leaving for good this time. He hears the front door slam and then nothing but a resounding silence.
Teddy thinks in colours and in maths and in lighting. He thinks about taking Lily apart, piece by piece and then building her back up again, getting caught up in her sharp angles and in her smoother curves. He thinks about kissing her and telling her that he maybe loves her and thinks of the hurt expression on her face three days ago before she left. And then he realises that he never wants to see that expression again, especially not directed at him because he's never seen Lily quite so unhappy, not even when Lysander Scamander broke her heart clean in two.
(Teddy thinks that it's strange Lily described it that way — clean in two. Like there were no ragged edges, no aching holes. No sharp angles, sliding together like tectonic plates and snagging on memories of three summers spent as one half of a pair. A clean break.)
He thinks of how Lily's face fell at the old cliché — I was drunk, I didn't mean it — and thinks that he really does think a bit too much. But there's one thing that he knows, really knows, and that's that he never wants to see that expression again, and especially not directed at him because he doesn't think he could handle that again.
So, this is what he has. He was very, very drunk. He told Lily he loved her. He was not lying. He told Lily later that he didn't mean it because he was very, very drunk. Lily was upset for some reason. He's trying to come up with the reason but all he's got is that Lily might possibly have wanted him to mean it.
But that's silly because she's Lily Luna Potter and she could have men worth a thousand of Teddy if she wanted.
So why doesn't she?
There is only one conclusion he can draw from all of this and that is the slim chance that Lily might like him back. Like. He tries the word out on his tongue, feeling its gentle vowel and the way the harsh k catches between his teeth. Like can mean a lot of things but this time, Teddy thinks he knows exactly what kind of like it is.
The kind that scares him more than he'll ever admit.
Three days later — after going over every alternative solution and possible outcome, after calculating every way this could go, after making and scrapping dozens of formulae and equations before he realised that people can't really be defined by numbers and ambiguous letters though it would be much simpler if they could — three days later, he makes his way back to Lily's flat. The minute he presses the doorbell, he regrets it. The button is black and the lighting here isn't good — there are no highlights on the button at all. It is just flat black and he doesn't like it when things are just one solid colour, he likes spectrums and infinite shades and slivers of light. Not flat black.
He's considering making a break for it when Lily's voice comes through the little speaker, crackling and almost indiscernible but still Lily.
Teddy bites his lip. "Me."
He can almost hear her rolling her eyes as she says, "Yeah, good one, dipshit. Who is 'me'?"
"Teddy," he answers slowly.
There's a long pause and all he can hear is the static sound of her breathing through the speaker until finally, she says, "Come on up." The buzzer sounds and the door opens.
He takes the stairs instead of the lift because it will give him more time to think, more time to prepare what he's actually going to say to her when he arrives. So far, he has nothing. He's five floors away and he still has nothing. Three floors. Two. One. The last flight of stairs. He still has nothing. Lily is going to be the death of him, he feels.
At the door, he still has nothing. He knocks, just to be polite, and Lily opens it and smiles, just to be polite. What her smile is really saying — and it's only after months and months of learning Lily from the inside out that he knows this — is, "Please go away, I really don't want to speak to you right now and it would be much, much easier if you left." (That's how Teddy would put it, how Lily would put it is slightly different and more of the, "Fuck off and leave me alone, you twat," variety.)
"Hi," he says.
"Okay," she says, "what do you want, Teddy?" Her mouth is still in the rigid shape of her smile. Her model smile.
Teddy runs a hand through his hair. "To apologise."
She raises her eyebrows and crosses her arms, leaning against the door frame. It's meant to intimidate him. It doesn't. "For what?"
"Uh, I think what I said was. There's been a bit of a. I don't think what I said." He blinks. What he means to say is, "Hey, Lily, I'm really sorry about the other night. I think you misunderstood me when I said you were to ignore everything I said while drunk. That's not what I meant. I never wanted you to find out about how I felt when I was severely intoxicated, I would much rather have been in my right state of mind when I told you that I love you but certain circumstances appear to have fucked that one right up. I love you and I'm sorry," but what comes out is, "Shit, I love you."
It's her turn to blink, staring at him blankly until she regains composure over herself and says briskly, "Good for you, Teddy. That's just great." She shakes her head and attempts to slam the door in his face but his foot is there, blocking it. He takes one long look at her — smudged eyeliner from the day before that she didn't remove, pale face, narrowed eyes in a mask of irritation but he can see the way she's biting her lip in anxiety, collarbones jutting out under the straps of her thin black top, hair hanging limply to her elbows, waving slightly as it passes the curve of her shoulder — and kisses her.
Teddy has thought about his moment before, about his lips touching Lily's, about his hand winding its way into her hair, but he realises that every stray thought about it has been lacking something so painfully obvious and that is the feel of Lily beneath his lips. Here, he can feel every crack, every contour in her skin, all the secrets she never told him. Here, he realises that he was missing something all along as she takes the lead, locking the fingers of her right hand into his left and pressing him against the wall of the narrow hallway and that is something he can't capture through a camera lens, something he can't edit to perfection, but that's all right because maybe it doesn't need to be edited, doesn't need the exposure turned up or the shutter speed reduced. Something that doesn't need to be caught from the right angle or have shadows in all the right places. Something that is Lily, just Lily under his lips, Lily on her tiptoes to reach his mouth, Lily's hand in his. Lily.
And there's a breath, so quiet he barely catches it but she's Lily and he's Teddy so of course he does and it's Lily saying against his cheekbone, "Love you, love you," sweet and soft and more than he had always pictured it.
It's Lily and he's learned the hard way that there is no right way to capture her with technology because the real Lily is always more than he could ever imagine her as. So he smiles and kisses her again, gently this time, modest and quick, and thinks that he could spend eternity here, if she asked.