Chapter 5 : Lily in the Moonlight
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– Of love
Lily turns twenty-one
Lily hastily rapped at the door before curling her arms back around herself again. She shuddered vividly and rubbed her hands at the goose pimples pricking at her arms. Why was she stupid enough to leave her wand on her bedside cabinet? She’d had to take two buses and a tube to get there and had used the last few scraps of muggle money still rattling around in her pockets. She remembered the bemused, cynical look of the obese, perspiring bus driver as she had accidently handed him a galleon in the place of a pound coin.
It was a frigid, drenched night, and the temperature had seemingly dropped ten degrees in the past two hours. She was soaked down to the skin, having run out of the house the second she heard the news and forgetting those silly things like jumpers, coats and umbrellas. Her dad had rung up to say that He was back in town for his birthday, so obviously Lily had taken to any means necessary to see Him. By Him, I mean Him, not her father, as could be guessed by anyone paying the littlest interest to the life of Lily Potter.
Lost in her thoughts, and not even having yet thought of what to say, Lily didn’t see the hazy figure approaching, only vaguely visible through the frosted glass of the door. It was suddenly flung open with a shout, “Wow, Lily! I haven’t seen you in so long,” and she found herself enveloped the enormous, achingly familiar arms of the person who was both utterly perfect and her favourite person in the world since she was three years old. She, recovering slightly from the surprise, flung her own about his neck and hugged him tighter.
He eventually released her, taking in her lavender-tinged skin and dripping clothes. He placed a hand on either of her cheeks, and saw her shudder at his touch. “How long’ve you been stood out here, Lils? You’re like ice,” he chafed lightly at her arms, trying to warm her even slightly. “Come in, come inside,”
He pulled her into his hall, and in the golden light of the lamp, saw her clearly, she looked exactly as she had always done, but at the same time so completely different. A year hadn’t left any imprint at all on his face or figure, but it’d left its mark on hers. She was a slight lilac colour, but underneath the chilled pallor she was her usual golden cream, slightly speckled with freckles. Her eyes were the colour of honey, burnished and coppery, just as they always were, but they’d matured underneath their shimmering surface, and never had they burned with such glowing intensity, nor warmed him to his very core with just one glance. He held her gaze for slightly too long, and she flushed but she didn’t avert her eyes, she just continued staring. Her frame had changed totally, its slender, boyish figure transformed into subtle curves and suddenly expanded breast. Her rippling strawberry-blonde tresses were out of the two long pigtails that he had forever known better than his own, ever changing, hair. It was tied up in a high, loose bun, curling tendrils snaking out, down her neck and across her face. That face had changed too, the cheeks had slimmed down, losing any small remainder of puppy fat, but still managing to keep its joyful dimple and she was smiling slightly, lips still slightly pouted and resembling a ripe, vivid raspberry. She was very, very beautiful- but he’d been saying that since the day she was born.
Her blush increased and he immediately dropped his gaze, leading her into the sitting room and setting her on the squashy, overstuffed sofa that was serving as a bed until the leak in his bedroom was sorted. She sat down, looking relieved and wrapping herself in his duvet. “I was a bit silly, I guess,” she stammered out, looking back up at him, “Left my wand at home- and my coat- and I never did pass my apparition exam. Not much of a witch I guess,” she laughed, seeming slightly nervous.
She must have been frozen, it couldn’t have been more than four degrees outside and it’d been pouring down since dusk. He hastily pulled his wand out his back pocket and muttered a small incantation, aiming to dry her out. She shivered at the hot air coursed down her body, loosening the duvet slightly.
“Fancy something to warm you up,” he offered, waving a vague finger in the direction of the kitchen, “Tea, coffee, butterbeer or maybe something stronger? Wine, whiskey, brandy? We might as well celebrate our birthdays while we’re together. I can’t believe that you’re twenty-one, it was only a few days ago that we were on the train and you were eighteen, and only a few more that you were bald and tiny and I could hold you in one hand,”
“I’ll have the butterbeer, please,” she replied, smiling at him almost bashfully, “I’m not a big fan of spirits, they do weird things to me,” she flushed a slight pink.
He left the room for a minute and she made a rushed attempt to compose herself. Years of experience had given her the ability to know exactly when and how much she was blushing- and this was the worst it had been in a long while. She twiddled with her fringe absentmindedly, wondering what the hell she was meant to say when he returned. She was admittedly sick of hiding how much she felt about him, but she also knew that she could never let herself endanger their friendship There was about a three percent chance of him possibly feeling a similar way, and a definite one hundred percent chance that their current relationship would collapse if she did dare tell him.
It wasn’t that easy, however, she couldn’t continue on pretending to be a little girl, letting him stay convinced that she was just the same girl who had, at the age of eighteen, still had most of her milk-teeth, size two feet and the cup size of an eleven year old boy. She hadn’t seen him in two and a half years, having left with Hugo barely a month after leaving school, they’d extended their trip from ten months to twelve, then twelve to sixteen, and had ended up travelling continuously until a mere four months ago. She’d come for Christmas with her family, missing the food, the tree and the annual desperate wish for snow- which was never fulfilled, but no one ever minded.
Returning home, she had found practically nothing had changed. Her room was still a vivid tangerine colour- as it had been for the past forty years and probably would continue being for the next forty years, her family was still boisterous, protective, loving and far to full of red-heads to be believed by most people. Victoire’s spawn had even somehow managed not to turn into the spoiled brat one would expect from the queen of bitchiness of the world of trophy wives, but into a shy, bespectacled, scrap of a thing which at the tender age of three already was able to raise one eyebrow cynically at its mother whenever she said anything particularly vacuous.
Okay, maybe a few things had changed, Violet was engaged to her long-term boyfriend Scorpius, Molly was expecting her second child, and Albus had finally stopped managing to make every single person in a room want to punch him the second he started to speak. Oh, and Louis had brought home a boyfriend, though why exactly everyone had been so surprised she couldn’t tell; she’d had her own suspicions since first year.
Teddy appeared in front of her with butterbeer and shortbread, offering her some of each while trying also to balance a cafétier of coffee on one arm. He carefully laid it all out on the already crammed coffee table, trying not to tip anything on his Daily Prophet.
“Thanks, Teddy,” she said, trying to restrain a goofy smile at his endearing clumsiness.
“S’all right Lils,” he replied, burrowing around in the piles of newspapers, mail and parchment on the desk, and finally surfacing with a small, square envelope. “Just in time, right, it’s officially your birthday for another,” he checked his watch, “Fifty seven minutes,”
He’d remembered her birthday, even she’d forgotten it slightly in the fuss of coming to see him, “Oh my god, I thought you’d forgotten,” she beamed at him, and took the envelope from open hands.
“Never,” he smiled back before turning and pouring coffee into a tall mug. He took a deep swig and sighed lightly.
“You shouldn’t be drinking caffeine this late,” she chastised him teasingly.
“You shouldn’t be visiting this late,” he responded, mock seriously, “Out passed eleven, people will start to think you a woman of loose morals,” he raised one eyebrow.
“Oh, shut it, you’re beginning to sound like Auntie Muriel,” she laughed uncontrollably, remembering those same words coming from the lips of a one-hundred-and-something old hag.
“That old bag still kicking?” Teddy looked incredulous, but it was actually a little hard to believe.
“Yep, why on earth would she die now and leave a great-great-niece in a lovely mansion full of purebloods, she loves Victoire’s new life to pieces- even if she is half French,” Lily laughed, a vivid vision in her mind of Auntie Muriel attempting to link arms with a disdainful Victoire, as had happened at the last family get-together.
Teddy’s smile dropped slightly, and Lily was reminded with a pang of their very nearly marriage, almost eight years ago to the day, it had been a age ago, but cancelled engagements on the eve of the wedding are not the kind of things easily forgotten. “So, how is Victoire these days?” asked Teddy, his voice controlled and calm.
“Oh, the same as always,” Lily replied, not wanting to go off into one of her anti-Victoire rants- they could last hours.
“Same as what?” Teddy asked, tilting his head slightly to the side, his eyes changing to sapphire as he did so.
“A heinous bitch,” Lily replied shortly, and was surprised by Teddy’s short burst of laughter- without trace or hint of bitterness. “You were the one who nearly married her,” she teased him, wondering how far she could go.
“Ah yes, but I escaped, you are eternally bound to her blood,” he deftly managed to avoid to avoid mentioning his own feelings.
“Something I try not to mention in most company,” joked Lily, playing on Victoire’s renowned infamousness.
“So, Lils, how was your trip and all?” he asked her, bringing the conversation back to safer grounds.
“Brilliant, really brilliant,” she responded, beaming him her most glowing smile, “If I could go back I would do it again, and again and again and again. It seems, coming back to real life, that it was all just a dream, but still somehow more meaningful than any other part of my life, ever,” she could not stop herself from reminiscing. Sleeping on reindeer hides in Finland, wanting never to wake up and face the snow, and eating mangos in Bangladesh, the juice dripping down her arms, and running across a vast prairie in Kansas, arms thrown out and hair tossing in the wind. It was at that time that real life had faded away, and this new, exciting life, lived in a different place each day, took over.
She turned back to Teddy, dragging herself from daydreams, and met hazy grey eyes with her own, golden-brown ones.
Something odd came into her eyes when she talked of travelling, something he’d never seen there before, like candlelight, or starlight. They glimmered in the light of the fire, warm and honey gold. It wasn’t just the eyes, however, that had changed, nor even the features on her face. It was everything. Her voice was different, her expression, the way she sat, the way she moved her hands while speaking, the way she looked at him.
He had been used to frankness, laughter, teasing, familiarity, simplicity, but none of that showed there now. She seemed happy, but detached, as if her brain was wandering through dreams even as she spoke to him, she was looking at him as an equal, not a mentor, carer, childhood-friend, but as someone worth nothing more and nothing less than her, there was none of the awe that had been there before. Most of all, it was the honesty, the open thoughts pouring from her mind to her eyes, that had changed, ceased to exist. He had always so easily perceived her feeling that she had taken to averting her eyes when speaking to him, seemingly scared he would read her mind like an open book. But now there was nothing. She was happy, dreamlike and seemed to be glowing slightly, but he had no idea why she was happy, or how long she had been happy, if she was normally a cheerful person or whether she was pleased to be out of the cold, or to have a birthday card, or to see him after so long.
He drained his coffee and wiped his mouth, settling himself on the sofa. He leant his head against the cushions, watching the ceiling and rubbing his brow with both hands.
“Anything wrong?” asked Lily, following his gaze to the ceiling, seemingly wondering what held his interest.
“No, not really,” he replied, looking longingly towards the window. She turned towards it too, a spark of understanding flashing before her eyes.
“D’you want to go outside?” she asked, raising herself from the warmth of the cushions.
“Nah, I can’t, you’ve only just defrosted,” he joked, motioning towards her lilac fingertips.
“You know, there is a reason we can do magic,” she replied, plucking his wand from amongst the jumbled mess of the coffee table.
Ah yes, magic. “D’you mind going out doors again,” he asked, worried she was concealing annoyance.
“No, its fine, the rain’s going down a bit anyway,” she smiled, flashing tiny white teeth. He rapidly hopped off the sofa and went to the window, opening it out wide and stepping out onto the fire-escape. He breathed heavily, leaning his head back and watching the moon, he could feel a light mist of tiny raindrops soak into his hair and face.
Lily stepped out behind him, placing a slender hand on his shoulder. “I always love the full moon,” she gazed up at the sky, ignoring the chill rain that was surely soaking her, “Even with the all light pollution, you can see it, I used to believe that there really was a man on the moon, no matter how many times my parents told me they were just craters and shadows. It was always so beautiful; it couldn’t just be a rock,”
Teddy turned to look at her, the moon seemed to pale in comparison. She was gazing into the night, her eyes burnished bright and radiant, her head was tilted back, glowing, flooded by the silvery moonlight and her lips were parted, as if caught in the moment of gasping, frozen and immobile.
With no thoughts, no caution to halt him, Teddy leant down, and softly, very gently, pressed his lips on hers.
Lily suddenly she couldn’t feel the rain and the breeze, couldn’t feel her clothes, couldn’t feel her shoes, just a beautiful blistering heat, her lips were burning, her chest was on fire. He kissed her tenderly, sweetly, but with a power, a need, that shocked her, but she found herself unable to respond, just standing still, and straight, while fire flooded her veins and shot through her lips. He slowly became still, realising her lack of response. He turned away quickly, turning his gaze back to the moon, his face cold and blank.
She knew -in that single second- that she could not let him go. She moved swiftly, catching his hand so that he would face her. All in a moment, she reached for his cheek, pulling him to her, and kissed him with a passion she had never known she held, a white-hot burning passion that incinerated her mind and turned her vision to fireworks.
He caught her in his arms, softly tracing the line down her throat, her collarbone, her shoulder. His lips moved on hers again and again, tender and sweet-tasting. It was all Lily had dreamed of since she was nine years old, and it still trounced them all. She twisted her fingers in his hair, pulling herself against his body, so familiar, but so full of unimaginable perfection. She linked his arms around his neck and he lifted her so that her face was levelled with his, her legs entwined round his hips.
His tongue traced at her lips, pleading entry, and she parted them willingly. He bit lightly at her bottom lip, and she gasped softly, twining his tongue with her own. They couldn’t feel the rain any more, nor did the moon have any hold. In the world, in the universe, there was only Lily, only Teddy.
He seemed to have a moment of resolve and, quick as a flash, he pulled them both back through the wide window. She felt her back brush the wall, and knotted her legs more tightly about his hips. She let on had leave his hair and carefully make its way down his back, lifting at its hem. She ran her hands over the skin of his back, fusing herself to him, but was suddenly thrown back, landing with a thump on the sofa.
He took a stride back, his breath gasping and the blood pounding in his head. What had he just done? Why was he even thinking of touching her? She was Lily, young, sweet and vulnerable, to be protected, always. She was cowering on the sofa, her eyes suddenly dark and frozen. Her hair was mussed, her skin flushed, and her lips were swollen and cherry red. He scowled at the evidence of his madness, his brows coming together and his lip curling.
“Why are you looking at me like that, Teddy?” Lily asked, her voice totally void of emotion.
“I have to leave, Lily,” he suddenly decided, wanting to get away. He couldn’t face her. What did she think of him? That he was a creep, a pervert? “Let yourself out,” he continued, grabbing his wand and making towards the door.
A quiet, controlled voice came from behind him, “Twelve years,” said Lily.
He turned, looking at her curiously, but not meeting her eyes.
“Twelve years, and it finally happens, and you run away,” her voice was almost contemptible.
“Lily, I shouldn’t have even touched you, I won’t forgive myself,” his voice cracked.
“No, don’t forgive yourself,” she responded, “Because you only have to forgive those things you regret, and never, ever regret that,” her anger was gone, despair seeming to have replaced it.
“What do you mean, Lily?” he asked, becoming slightly lost. Was she not angry with him?
“I’ve spent twelve years in love with you, and you never noticed. You finally do something about it, but then you try and escape. Do you not care about me? Even the minutest amount?”
He felt himself moving towards, with no comprehension of how fast he was going. All he saw was her eyes, aglow with warmth, burning him to his core. He plunged down onto the sofa, leaning Lily back against the cushions, kissing her over and over again. Her face, throat, hair and shoulders. She laughed lightly, responding ardently, all the happiness in her life seeming to pour out of her in that one moment.
He whispered low in her ear, sending shivers down her neck and spine, “I… love… you,”
She kissed him one more time, tugging her top over her head.
And the rest is history.