a/n:: so, this is the start of yet another collection (i'll really try to finish this one this time, okay?), in which i will write every het, non-cousincest pairing in the nextgen. there shall be ocs for the males. loads of other people at the ngf are doing it too, so you should check out theirs!

so, yeah, this one's a lucyteddy, and it's 3,040 words.

He sweeps. And he ignores most of the girls with their petty stares and giggles, but he doesn't ignore Lucy, because her embarrassment and the creeping of red up her neck might just be the most awful part of this job.

Still, he sweeps, because he needs the money.

Timothy Hammond's score for The Prince and The Pauper is their warm-up music for today, and he nearly dies from the bitterness flooding through his veins- he could look like the fucking prince if he wanted to, so why isn't he rich yet?

She's still blushing over there in the back of the room, her dark-haired friend attempting to comfort her and the haughty-looking blonde boy smirking at him as he pliés. "Oi!" he shouts, somehow keeping perfect time even in his antagonism, "there's not nearly enough wax over here."

The teacher shushes the boy, but she turns back to him apologetically anyway. "I'm sorry, Mr. Lupin, but Fitzwilliam is right, we really do need a bit of wax over there."

He glares at the ground, not angry at the teacher, angry at the world and at his own stubbornness, because he could take Harry's money and he wouldn't have to work jobs like this, but he's too damn proud. He walks over with the mop and floor wax, and right there, in the part of the song when the prince gets caught, he aims a kick at Mister Hoity-Toity blonde guy. The guy wobbles and the teacher yells and Teddy whispers mockingly, "I'm not the one wearing fucking tights, Fitzwilliam."

Remarkably, he doesn't get fired.

"You shouldn't have done that," she tells him, walking down the stairs outside of the ballet academy towards him, one red barrel curl jumping out from behind her ear. He looks at her skeptically. "Kicked Fitz- really, you shouldn't have."

He bends down to tie his shoe, his butt leaning against the brick wall and his hair a fantastic shade of scarlet red today. "Oh yeah?" he asks. "Why is that?" He knows what her answer will be- she's Lucy Weasley, sweetest girl in the whole family, and even if her latest hobby is a bit pretentious (never mind that she's been doing it for five years, it's still her latest hobby to him), she's still the nice, loyal girl who was sorted into Hufflepuff seven years ago. Her answer will be something along the lines of: 'It's not the right thing to do.'

"Because there were scouts in the studio," she tells him, her royal blue pea coat flapping in the wind. "And just one mistake can lose you an internship, especially if your background is as sketchy as his is."

He straightens up slowly, struggling to comprehend the fact that Lucy's reason for

him not to do something cruel is filled with ambition and job-hunting, not kindness and love. "Sketchy background?" he finally says, because there's no way to argue with what she's saying (it makes far too much sense, and he could hardly disagree about the gravity of mistakes in front of scouts).

"Oh, for Merlin's sake, Teddy-" she says impatiently. "I know he's a bit of an arse so far, but he's new to our ballet school and he's probably just stressed out- Anna went on a date with him and she says he's a really nice guy, I promise you." He raises an eyebrow- that still doesn't explain the sketchy background, and he doesn't exactly trust her judgement on who's a nice person. She sighs exasperatedly and throws her hands up in the air. "For Merlin's sake, Teddy, I have a sketchy background! All of the wizards do, it's because we didn't go to proper Muggle schools."

He frowns, because lack of proper schooling has just reminded him of something else. "Luce, why'd you look so embarrassed today? In the studio?"

She blushes and looks at the ground uncomfortably, and he sighs. Of course- she's embarrassed by him. "Well, it's just that," she starts, tucking the flyaway curl behind her ear, "you're sweeping. Teddy, you're a common maintenance man!" Suddenly she looks frustrated, and it occurs to him that maybe this wasn't a good topic to bring up. "I know you'd be capable of more than that- all of us do, yet you still deny Uncle Harry's offer of money, and my dad's offer of a job, and it just doesn't make sense!" She finishes in an annoyed rush, wrinkles forming on her brow and her nose scrunching up in a way that makes her look less like an eighteen year old ballet dancer and more like a petulant five year old. "I can't figure it out, Teddy!" she says loudly, throwing her hands up in the air, and he realizes he's chosen a topic that clearly plagues her mind often- it worries him, that she thinks about him that much. "You're capable of fame and fortune, and you don't do anything about it! What's wrong with you?"

His face shuts down at this. He hates being asked that. There's nothing wrong with him, thank you very much. He's just not an ambitious person. He was a Gryffindor, not a Slytherin. She should know that. After all, she was a Hufflepuff- but it's in that moment of thinking that he remembers the Hufflepuff desire for hard work, and he wonders if somewhere in Lucy's mind, that has gotten confused with ambition. "There's nothing wrong with me," he snaps, all of today's annoyance pouring out in a sudden rush. "I just don't have the supreme desire to do the nine-to-five work thing, okay?"

She looks furious at this, and he makes up his mind that he doesn't want to continue this conversation. He can't deal with ambition right now- he just can't. He turns and disapparates away to the sound of her shouting, "I'm a fucking ballet dancer, Teddy! I don't want a nine-to-five job either!"

He's never heard Lucy swear before.

Dearest Teddy,

I'm sorry, there's nothing wrong with you. I was just under a bit of stress that day- my legs aren't long enough to do a particular move, and Madame Luz talked to me after rehearsal, and I took it out on you.

Plus, there have been other things. I won't go into detail, but.

I'm not embarrassed of you, alright? Well, maybe a little, because you look like a right dork trying to sweep in time to Hammond, of all pieces- but not because of your job.

Not much, anyway.

I'm just not very good with slackers- Merlin, not that you're a slacker, but-

Argh, I'm awful at letters. Roxy got the writing skill, not me.

I'm sorry.


He gets this letter a month after she yells at him in the back alley. He's still working in the ballet academy, of course, but he always manages to avoid her rehearsals. It's not on purpose- there are mornings when he wakes up and desperately wants to see her, but there's something that's keeping them apart, and it's not like he'll wait outside for her.

He saw how well that turned out last time.

But he takes one look at the letter she sends him and knows that it's a cry for help, and he's nothing if he's not a knight in shining armour. He's a Gryffindor, remember, and he can't stand by and watch Lucy fall away like this. He apparates to her dorm at the ballet school, and whoa.

Suddenly, her needing help is not that much of a surprise, and the words of her letter (that he'd so carelessly left at his flat, dammit) come together in a shocking force in his mind: 'Plus, there have been other things. I won't go into detail, but.' Because this hallway is a nightmare. There are girls stretching themselves into positions no human should ever be in, (and oh god, looking at their feet with squashed toes makes his stomach curl and he wonders if Lucy's feet look like that too) there are girls spinning madly, practicing even though their day is supposed to be over, and the worst is the overwhelming layer of smoke.

He decides that, screw dragon-chasing, ballet might be the most dangerous career he's ever seen. He taps one girl on the shoulder to ask her where Lucy's room is and nearly chokes because when she turns around, she blows an entire breath full of smoke into his face. "You shouldn't do that," he tells her, and she visibly flinches.

"I-" she starts, and her voice is so timid and quiet, he wonders how on earth she even has the strength to lift the cigarette to her mouth, let alone do the extremely intense daily workout that he knows dancers have to deal with. "I might quit," she stutters out, but she won't, he knows.

He sighs, not bothering to continue arguing his point- a few words from a stranger aren't going to stop her. "Where's Lucy?" he asks, recognizing this girl as Anna, Lucy's best friend.

Anna shakes her head. "I-" she chokes out, before stopping again. Her eyes widen as though she has seen a ghost, and before he can even ask her what happened, she has run away.

This place is a nuthouse, he decides, before a willowy girl with long blonde hair and frighteningly bright blue eyes taps him on the shoulder. "You're a boy," she tells him, then shakes her head. "No, you're a man. What are you doing here?" It's all said without punctuation, and he wonders if someone ever taught this girl proper grammar.

"Where is Lucy Weasley's room?" he asks in return, sensing that normal societal pleasantries will only confuse her. "I'm her-" he stops, trying to figure out what to say. Considering recent events, he's not sure if his normal introduction is even applicable anymore. "-I'm Teddy," he finishes, his hair flickering to a light pink in embarrassment before returning to today's messy brown curls.

The girl giggles, turns around and jerks her head in a disjointed way that makes him think that maybe she's not entirely right in the head. "Her Teddy," she half-hums, and he sort of wonders what she's on about before she turns around so suddenly and gracefully that he nearly falls over her. "Here's her door," she says in a sing-song voice. "I'm her roommate," she says a bit too loudly, "so don't stay too long."

She pirouettes down the hallway before he can answer, and he wonders whether he should stay here forever just to make sure that girl doesn't murder Lucy in her sleep or something.

But then Lucy opens her door and peers down the hall and sighs. "Ah, I see you've met Ophelia," she says. "She's a bit odd, occasionally, but she makes lovely pastries." He shakes his head. It's so Lucy to make friends with a crazy girl, he can't help beaming. "Come on in," she says, and everything is okay again.

"So, these girls," he says, sitting on her bed and trying very hard not to stare at her legs as she lifts one into a completely vertical position up against the wall. "Are they all mad, or is that just limited to the ones you're friends with?" He winces, because that came out sounding a bit harsher than he intended it to.

To his surprise and relief, she giggles. She hops away from the wall, her leg still pointing directly up at the ceiling, then suddenly, with a speed he doesn't know was possible, swings said leg around into a perfect 90 degree angle with her other leg. It's an amazing thing to watch, and he nearly starts clapping, but then she sighs. "Ugh, I can never get that one right," she says, sitting down on the bed next to him. He double-takes. That was incorrect? "I need to practice more, or I'll never get cast…" she trails off and sighs. "But you're here, so I won't bore you with ballet drama!" she chirps, and he smiles. Back to friendly, optimistic Lucy. That's the one he can handle.

"I met Anna as well," he says as an explanation for his previous question. "She seemed a little-" he thinks back to his her reluctant, halting way of talking, "-timid."

"Timid?" Lucy asks, tilting her head to one side, confusion evident in her face. "Anna's hardly timi- oh." She puts a hand to her mouth. "Oh no," she breathes, and suddenly stands up. "I'm sorry, Teddy, I know you just got here and you probably want to talk, but I've just realized something, and I need to go help out a friend." She hurriedly slides her feet into a pair of flats, (her toes are perfectly fine, he notices, and breathes a sigh of relief) shoulders her bag and gives him a quick hug. "Thank you for stopping by- you can just apparate out, I think."

She races out of the room and he's left with the sad reality of the moment: he came to help her, and didn't get to because she wanted to help her friend.

"I didn't say you were a bad dancer, Anna, that's just another fucking inference-"

"You said that you didn't make me a bad dancer! That implies it!"

"No, Merlin, I didn't mean that- you know I just get angry when I see you having the capability to outshine all of these girls and you don't."

"But I-"

"I know you're trying, but maybe you could try a little harder? For me? I know you could be brilliant, but you're just not right now."

Lucy winces. "Fitz, you arse," she whispers in response to the argument they've been listening to through the walls. Teddy looks at her in surprise- is it just him, or has she started swearing a lot more since ballet?- only to look away quickly, feeling like he's intruded on something. Her face just has so much anger and pity in it, it's just so raw, it makes him realize that this is not his Lucy from before. This Lucy is harsh, still caring and sweet, but with a layer of something else there.

"Why doesn't she break up with him?" he asks, just to hear her explain. He can see in her face that she wants to rant, even if he sort of understands where Anna is coming from (dysfunctional relationships have their high points, and sometimes those make it difficult to remember the low points).

"I don't know!" she seethes, glaring at the wall as though it is its pale yellow wallpaper that has done the cruelty, not the person behind it. "Every time they fight, he somehow calms down and apologizes and buys her dinner. I try to remind her of what he's doing, but she loves him too much to want to leave."

He flinches. He's used that technique before, on girls who've experienced the side of him he doesn't like- it's awful to see in other people.

"Oh, Teddy, you're not like him," Lucy says, apparently having seen his face and figured out what he was thinking.

"I got you angry," he points out, remembering back to that day in the alley only four months ago. "And we're still sitting here now." He swallows, a lump coming to his throat as he remembers how mean, how harsh the words sounded as they shot out of his mouth.

"Yes, but ours is a functional relationship. When we fight, we give each other time to think, and we agree to disagree, and we still get along, as equals, afterwards," she points out, and he breathes a sigh of relief as his own worries about their relationship soothed. "So," she says, standing up and picking up her ballet shoes. "I've got to go practice and maybe convince Anna to eat something, but dinner tonight at Elsie's?"

He nods, follows her out the door, and attempts to prevent the silly grin from spreading all over his entire face.

He sweeps.

This time he doesn't try to pathetically sweep along to the music, as he's not entirely sure what he'd do when it got to the climax of the song (this time, it's Swan Lake)- he can barely spin more than one time in a row without getting dizzy, and lifting his leg up is out of the question.

Yes, once again, he's assigned to sweep her ballet room, and Fitzwilliam Creevey still gives him ugly looks, and Anna just stares at the ground (and this time he notices the tall, blonde, willowy girl at the back of the room, smiling serenely as she makes some batlike movement that's completely different from everyone else's), but this time, it's alright.

Lucy's not blushing. Instead, she stares at a point just above his head as she spots, and he knows that while she still doesn't understand why he doesn't take Harry's money, (they haven't discussed it, aside from their argument six months ago) she accepts it. Best of all, her acceptance is not solely 'because she loves him.' Theirs is a functional relationship, and eventually, there will be something that she does that he disagrees with.

He shakes his head, grinning exasperatedly at the thought. That will be an experience.