For the captaining the nextgen armada challenge, on the nextgen fanatics forum, in which I will attempt to write one-shots for every single het, non(cous)incest, non-cross-gen next-gen pairing. This first one is also for the prompts, oh prompts thread on the same forum.
Main Prompt: the city that never sleeps
Additional Prompts: windowsill - stuck – envy
Song: Give It All Back - Noah & The Whale
I'd give it all back just to do it again
—noah and the whale, give it all back
Sometimes she sits by the open window, coffee mixed with vodka balancing precariously on the windowsill, a lit cigarette dangling between her lips, and she just stares out at the city that never sleeps and thinks. Thinks about her life now, thinks about the future, but mostly she thinks about the past and where she's been.
Tonight her subject of choice is Teddy Lupin.
Teddy Lupin was Lily's first love and he never knew. Lily was good at hiding it; pretending to be happy for Victoire and him, when inside she envied her older cousin. She wanted Teddy for herself, but he had nearly ten years of age on her and looked at her like she was a child.
Teddy and Victoire were the reason Lily moved to New York City in the first place: Victoire and Teddy were married and expecting a baby, the last Lily heard. She hadn't heard if it was a boy or a girl because she ripped her phone lines up, deactivated her email, never answered her door whenever one of her family members would apparate outside, and refused to accept their owl mail. The neighbors spent a lot of time complaining about the pesky owls hanging around and Lily would always roll her eyes every time they brought them up. This was three years ago.
Teddy is a father now, to a healthy baby boy or baby girl.
The thought makes a lump grow in Lily's throat. She glances at the clock.
It's time for work and time to stop thinking about Teddy.
"You're late," a venomous voice sneers and throws an apron at Lily that reads Charlie's Café on the front of it, in bold white letters that stand out against the forest green of the rest of the apron, aside from a little picture of a cup of coffee with steam coming out of it right beside the "C" in Charlie's.
Lily puts the apron on and grabs a note pad and pen quickly. She doesn't bother with replying to Shauna, the girl that threw the apron who's always in an awful mood and likes to scold other employees about anything and everything, even though she has no real authority over them.
"What can I get you?" She asks the family at table two, and just like that her night sets into her usual routine—she takes care of tables two, three, four, and five, and splits table six with Becca, a blonde girl that reminds Lily far too much of her cousin Lucy. She tries not to pay much attention to it, though.
Out of everyone that she left, Lily misses James and Luce the most. They were her best friends, and she can't begin to imagine what she put them through by leaving, but she had to leave. It was the first thing she had done for herself in a long time. And she couldn't fully leave if she kept in touch with her family.
It was hard—leaving both the wizarding world and her family, but Lily was semi used to muggle items, thanks to three years of muggle studies at Hogwarts and her grandfather Weasley, who Lily and Lucy, the youngest cousins, spent a lot of time with as kids, while all the other cousins were off at Howarts. Lily had managed and she was honestly proud of herself.
She came to New York with literally nothing but five hundred dollars, a couple of her favourite books, and three suitcases full of clothes and photographs. And that was it. Everything else, she left behind. Most of the time that was how she preferred it, but sometimes, if you catch her on just the right day, she'd tell you she'd give everything that she's got now up, just to go back and do everything over again: To relive her childhood.
But as time-turners are now extinct, she can't, so she doesn't like to ponder it. Except when she sits at her windowsill before work, stuck in a world of befores.
When work ends, she usually goes with a few friends from work—Becca, Audrey, Sam, and Davis—to this nightclub a few blocks over called Lights, but tonight she just heads home. It's nearly four AM and Lily is blinking sleepily, but when she opens her flat door her eyes grow wide and she's instantly wide awake.
Her light is on and her door isn't locked.
Lily moves as quietly as she can towards where she keeps her wand (third dresser drawer down, underneath her tee shirts in her bedroom). As she's moving stealthily across the hall, moving past the kitchen, where she sees a shadow move, she has to bite her tongue to keep from screaming.
Lily has heard horror stories before about flats being broken into, flats where young girls live alone. The girls end up raped, dead, both, or one or the other. Lily refuses to be one of those girls, now if she can just get to her damn bedroom…
"Lily." A voice stops her in her tracks and makes her blood run cold and now she's wishing that it was a thief or a rapist. At least those don't bring back your entire past with their entrance.
"Lucy," Lily breathes, and even though she wants to be pissed off at Luce for scaring the shit out of her and for the fact that she's going to be paranoid about people breaking into her flat for like, the rest of her life, she finds herself turning and running down the carpeted hallway, her feet making a light pitter-patter sound against it. Lily throws her arms around Lucy, and it's then that they both just start crying.
"You bitch," Lucy insults, but it's halfhearted. "Why the hell did you leave and then you didn't reply to none of my letters, never did answer your damn phone or door. What the hell, Lily? I was worried sick and I missed you like crazy. It was me and you, remember?"
Lily feels guilt flooding her veins. Sure, she had thought about how Lucy would deal with all of it, but even though she knew the blonde wouldn't be happy, her old life, Lucy, Teddy, her parents and family—it all felt like she was a thousand years away when she left. They were no longer real in her head, and maybe that's why it was easy for Lily to cut them all of. You can't want to be around someone that doesn't exist, can you?
"How did you get in?" Lily asks, because she can't bear to accept the fact that she had indeed left people behind and hurt them by leaving. She recognized that she left people, but she always liked to think that they weren't hurt by it. With every letter, every ring, every knock, that's what she told herself. They weren't hurt by it.
But they were and she almost couldn't bear that.
"I'm a witch, sweetheart," Lucy grins, but it's more like a smirk, as she twirls her wand around her middle and index fingers. And that's when Lily spots something gleaming, a ring, resting on Lucy's left ring finger.
"Lucy…" Lily starts, hesitance in her voice, but Lucy cuts her off.
"Oh calm down, Miss America. All I did was mutter an unlocking charm. Those do exist, you know."
Lily ignores the nickname in favour of questioning her about the ring. "What's that on your finger there?" She searches her cousin's face, trying to find answers. Just how much had Lily missed when she left? Apparently a lot. What about Teddy? She fought the urge to ask. Now was Lucy's time to spill, and then she'd ask about Teddy.
The last Lily remembered, there was no one in the picture of Lucy's life, but she had been gone three years now. Three years is plenty of time to fall in love. Lily just hoped Lucy picked a good one, someone who deserved her free-spirited cousin.
"Lorcan proposed." Lily observes the glee in Lucy's voice and the blush that spreads across her cheeks and she smiles because she always knew Lorcan was in love with Lucy, but had always thought that Lucy never returned his affections. She guessed she was wrong.
"That's amazing." Lily says, laughing happily, as she reaches forward and pulls Lucy into a hug.
Just as they're about to pull away, Lucy whispers something in Lily's ear, something so quiet she almost misses it. "They're getting divorced."
Lily pulls back, a look of confusion on her face, but Lucy shakes her head, her eyes are soft, but her voice is firm. "Come home and ask him yourself, Lils. He misses you, a lot more than you realized. He's still living where he was when you left." She starts to turn and disapparate, but pauses, as if just remembering something. "I'm going to write you, no matter what you decide to do. Please write me back," and then Lucy is gone and Lily is left dizzy, her head spinning around at a thousand miles per house.
They're getting divorced? What? Lily tries to tell herself that it can't be Teddy and Victoire. Maybe it's actually her parents? But no, Lily knows deep down who Lucy meant when she said that. Lucy was, after all, the only person who knew how Lily truly felt.
Sighing, she looks down at her feet.
Lily has a choice to make.
London is exactly the same as she remembers it and a wave of homesickness hits her heart, making it hard for her to breathe. It was easier to resist seeing her family while there was still an entire ocean between them, but now she's in the same tri-area as most of them, and her heart aches for them.
Lily hadn't had to think long about coming—visiting, she corrects mentally—home. Seeing her parents again, her brothers, her cousins, Teddy again. It all was just too good an offer to pass up. So she packed a suitcase and apparated away, sending a text to Becca to let her know that Lily would be gone for a while.
"Visiting the people of my past," she had said. Becca had agreed to pick up her tables for Lily, partly because she needed the money anyway, but partly because Becca was a good person and a good friend. Lily would have to thank her with a fruit basket or something when she got back.
Now, to Grandmother's house she goes.
It's early-evening on a Sunday, and she knows most of the family isn't going to be there for Sunday Supper until later. But still, there will be a few aunts and uncles, cousins, and her grandparents there, and Lily would rather deal with reunions one at a time, anyway, because her family is very large and she doesn't want to be stampeded.
Lily cracks the door open, "hello?" She calls.
Grandma Molly, and several of her cousins and uncles and aunts flood around her, with cries of happiness and shouts of anger, and scowls and hugs and kisses, and—"don't you ever leave like that again, Lils."
And she smiles, because she may hate it here with all of her being, and she may miss New York already, but this is her home, this is where she grew up, where she lost her first tooth, played hide and seek with her cousins, where she argued with her parents and had fights with her cousins, where they had girls-only-sleep overs with her cousins and friends and her cousin's friends who eventually became her friends too. This is where Lily grew up, where she became Lily, and as much as she despises it, she also loves it, if that makes any sense.
This is where she belongs, even if she doesn't realize it yet.
After getting caught up with everyone, Lily tells them all she's going to go visit some old friends and that she'll be back later. They seem hesitant to let her go, and her father even tries to forbid her from leaving, but it's no use.
"I'll come back," she promises, and Harry seems to accept this, because it's more than she gave the last time she left.
Lily doesn't go to see old friends: She left them all behind and they've all most likely moved on, anyway. She goes to buy a pack of cigarettes and then apparates to Teddy's house, where she lingers outside for an hour and smokes several cigarettes, before she finally gains the courage to go and knock on the door.
She isn't sure what she expects—maybe a crying toddler? Maybe a frazzled Victoire (oh no, wait, they're getting divorced so it's doubtful she'll be there). Maybe Teddy already has a new girlfriend? As she wonders about this stuff, her heart pounds in her chest. Maybe this was a bad idea, she thinks, and starts to turn around and leave.
Just as the door opens.
Lily turns slowly back around and her ability to breathe is gone. "Teddy?" She takes in his wrinkled tee shirt, the five o'clock shadow that shades his cheeks in, the tired look in his eyes, and the smile that's slowly forming on his mouth.
There is no baby crying in the background.
"Where's your baby?" Is the first thing Lily can think of to say, and she kicks herself immediately after. What the hell, Lily? It's not your place to ask stuff like that, and it's sure as hell not appropriate. Her regret only grows as his smile seems to fall.
"She died three years ago. Victoire miscarried seven months in." He informed Lily sadly, and then stepped out onto the porch, bringing himself a little closer to Lily. "You're really here." He breathes and starts to reach out, as if he were going to caress her cheek. He stops, leaving his hand hanging in midair.
"I'm sorry." Lily says, because no matter how much she hated that Victoire and Teddy were together, she genuinely hates that they lost their baby. It's not fair, it really isn't, and she wishes they hadn't lost it, because how horrible is that? To lose the child you never even got to meet. "You and Victoire got married." She says next, her eye on Teddy's hand hanging in midair.
"We're finalizing our divorce." He tells her, and seems to step forward. "Merlin, I've missed you," he engulfs her in a hug, and it's warm and he's warm, and it feels so good to hold him and to have him hold her, and Lily wasn't looking for reasons to stay, but she found one anyway.
"I missed you too," she breathes and allows her eyes to fall shut, and with him she's finally home.