Chapter 2 : Teddy, Tears, and Treacle Tart
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Teddy, Tears, and Treacle Tart
I have the worst luck on the face of the planet.
Nanny made treacle tart for dessert.
I know that I really didn't have to go to live with Great Aunt Petunia if I didn't want to, since only Stan knew about my little promise to myself, but I had given my word. And I've heard it said that anyone is only ever as good as their word- and I don't want to be a bad person! I want very much to be a good person. Because good people go to heaven and get to swim in giant chocolate fountains and jump on giant clouds made out of marshmallows.
So, in order to be a better person, I needed to keep my promise. I had thought that it wouldn't be so bad if I had to go, but as soon as I saw the delicious treat that usually made my whole insides light up with happiness, I started to cry.
I didn't want to go. I wanted to live with my mummy and my daddy and Al- even Jamesie! I wanted to snuggle with Padfoot the crup and walk through Godric's Hollow, singing at the top of my lungs. I liked my life!
But Jamesie's words rang throughout my head over and over again, as if they'd been recorded and put onto one of those muggle gadgets, set to constantly repeat. I was a squib- no better than a muggle. Mummy and daddy were always sad and frowning now, and they hadn't been paying much attention to Al or James. Not that Jamesie needed more attention, really. He was just bitter because he wasn't always the centre of the universe. But I would've gladly given up the spotlight if it meant I could be normal.
But I wasn't. I didn't fit in, and I never would. If I didn't leave now, I'd always be a failure in my parents' eyes. I would always be the Potter girl that never lived up to her parents. There was no way I could ever live with myself, because everyone would just expect me to fail at everything. I would be nothing but one, big disappointment.
But I didn't want to be that. I wanted to be just like everybody else. If I lived like a muggle, no one would know I came from a family of witches and wizards. No one would expect anything great of me- I could be just Lily, instead of the Squib. As much as I hated the idea of leaving home to live with a mean, old lady, that idea sounded very appealing. Maybe I'd finally find someplace where I belong.
"What's wrong, love?" Nanny asked me as I sobbed, looking shocked and a tad disturbed. The tart was in her hands and she looked a little hurt- as if I was rejecting what was usually my favourite treat. This only made me feel guilty, which added to the volume of my tears. I heard James groan from across the table.
"Can't we just eat withou- owwww!"
I didn't look to see who it was that had kicked him under the table, but I guessed it was probably Al.
Big, warm arms wrapped me in a bear hug and I sniffed into Nanny's shoulder as she held me, just like mummy had earlier today.
"I can make you anything you like, dear." She said kindly, planting a kiss on my cheek. "You don't have to have treacle tart if you don't want any."
"What's wrong with her?" Hugo piped up, and I looked at him with a frown. He didn't seem to notice that he was prying into other people's personal business; he sat there, licking the last of the gravy off his spoon, kicking his legs impatiently as he waited for dessert.
"Nothing's wrong with her!" Jamesie said, sounding annoyed. "She's just being a baby!"
"James Sirius!" My mother snapped, her eyes practically spitting fire at my brother. I could tell by her expression that he was sitting on the Naughty Step again when we got home. I stuck my tongue out at him.
"Put that back in your mouth, young lady, or I'll hex it there!" Mummy scolded me, and I sank in my chair. You would've thought she'd be nice to me, since I'm going through such a tough time! But no, she still told me off, and now Jamesie was looking all smug.
"You can have my chocolate frog, Lils." Al jumped into the short silence that followed my reprimand, the rustling of a wrapper audible as he dug in the pocket of his trousers. He pulled out a slightly crushed frog and stretched out over the table. I smiled at him and took it, but not before shooting a glare at Jamesie, whom I could tell had seriously considered snatching it out of Al's hand and eating it first.
"She's had a rough day." My mum explained to the rest of the family, and I could feel my face warming up as they all stared at me. I couldn't blame them, really. After all- what kind of freak just randomly burst into tears at the dinner table?
A squib. That's what kind of freak.
Suddenly, as I chewed the half-melted chocolate, I remembered why it was I'd begun to cry in the first place. But I couldn’t cry again, ‘cause I'd cried all the tears out of my eyes for that night, so I'd be all out until it rained- because that's when everyone got their tears back, or so Jamesie tells me. Instead, I just felt very tired. But I couldn't let myself be sleepy, because I had to run away, and that would take energy.
"Liiiiily," a whiny voice caught my attention, and I turned my head to see Hugo looking at me imploringly. His mum gave him a warning look, but he ignored it, holding out his hand eagerly. I let out a very long, drawn-out sigh and gave him the rest of my chocolate frog. He grinned at me and shoved it into his mouth all at once- probably worried his mum would tell him to give it back.
The rest of the dinner passed without much excitement. After we ate, everyone had to sit around in the living room, like every Sunday. It was boring, like always, and most of the people just slept on the floor. Hugo and Al were catching fireflies, and I wanted to go, too, but Jamesie was out there. I didn't want to talk to him just yet. I followed Rose around for a little while and asked her to braid my hair for me, but she told me to go away. She was reading a boring book about Hogwarts that was bigger than my whole body, practically, and she didn't want to talk, except to ask her mum for help on the big words (there were lots of them). Dejected, I sat by myself on the floor.
I looked to my left and saw that Teddy was one of those members of the family that had decided to take a nap on the carpet. I had to tell him about my plan- he wouldn't tattle, and he could tell me what to do. I crawled over the floor and climbed up onto his tummy and he let out a small grunt of pain.
"Lils, you're not four anymore!" He said without opening his eyes, and I smiled as I leaned over and pulled a lid up. A bright green eye looked back at me, and I grinned. That was my favourite colour.
"I'm not that heavy." I argued, still not budging. Teddy grinned up at me and raised a heavy hand to pat my head.
"No, but you're getting pretty big!" He said cheerfully. "How old are you, anyway- twenty?"
I giggled. Teddy was always silly like that.
"No, you goose! I'm seven!" I looked at him sternly, as if I was upset he'd forgotten. But, of course, no one could ever be put-out with Teddy. He was just like his name- cuddly and meant for hugging.
"Ahhh, that's right." He said with a nod, voice still strained because my entire body-weight was pushing down on his diaphragm. "So that means you're going to be eight this August, eh? One month, Lil' Lily!"
I nodded, but it wasn't enthusiastic. It was a miserable sort of nod; an acceptance of my fate. Teddy frowned, and I saw his hair change from brown to black.
"What's wrong, silly?" He asked, brushing some of my ginger bangs out of my eyes. "You're not supposed to hate birthdays until you get old like your mum-"
"I heard that." Mummy's voice sounded from across the room and I giggled, unable to help myself. Teddy was smiling, too, but I could tell he was still worried about me. That's why I liked him so much. Even when mummy and daddy didn't seem to give an owl's tail about whether or not I was happy, Teddy always seemed to care. It was sad that he had to be at Hogwarts all the time, and I never got to see him in summer. What was worse, I wouldn't even get to spend a year with him at the castle. He was going to be graduating at the end of next term, and I wasn't going to Hogwarts for two more years after that.
No, wait. I wasn't going at all.
"Lily, are you okay?" Teddy had lowered his voice and was brushing a tear off my cheek, his eyes turning to grey. I sniffed, shaking my head. No, I was definitely not okay.
With a groan, Teddy pushed himself off the floor and into a sitting position, so that I was curled up in his lap. He hugged me- one of his famous teddy bear hugs- and patted my hair.
"Do you wanna talk about it?" He asked me quietly, so none of the other nosy relatives could hear. Sniffing into his shirt, I nodded. He picked me up- with a little bit of difficulty, since I'd gotten so big- and carried me out to the kitchen. All the food had been put away and the table scrubbed nice and neat, and it was on this that Teddy sat, still holding me protectively.
"I wish you were my big brother." I said wistfully, my eyes travelling to the window, where I could see the figures of the others jumping for bugs. "Jamesie is a meanie-head, and he hates me."
"He doesn't hate you." Teddy said gently.
"But he does." I protested stubbornly, twisting where I sat so I could frown at him. He just smiled and shook his head. But he was smart enough not to argue, and instead changed the subject.
"What's wrong, Lils?" The question was a simple one, but it seemed as if he was prepared for a very long answer. I leaned back and pulled his arms tighter around me. My lip stuck out in a pout.
"I'm a squib."
It was awful, admitting it out loud like that, without any doubt in my voice. I didn't quite know what to expect from Teddy- perhaps tears, or a dramatic scream of 'Noooo! Not Lily! Anyone but my favourite not-really-cousin-but-close-enough-to-be-a-cousin in the world!' But what I had not expected was for him to laugh.
"It's not funny!" I whined, tearing up again.
"I'm sorry." Teddy said, attempting to sober up. He failed, however, because his eyes were a twinkling blue and the corner of his mouth kept twitching. But one look at the hurt expression on my face and he sighed, resigned to take me seriously. Thank Merlin. "You're not a squib, Lils-"
"I am!" I interrupted, but he put his hand over my mouth. I pouted and let him finish.
"You're not a squib- you just haven't had anything to stimulate your powers yet. Uncle Neville didn't do anything magical until he was eight, and he's one of the greatest wizards of the century. You just have to be patient." I went to push his hand away, but he wasn't done. "And even if you were a squib- which you're not- then no one would care. We're your family, and we're going to love you, no matter what."
Finally, he let me breathe again.
His words hadn't had any affect on me whatsoever.
"I don't care what you say." I said, crossing my arms tightly across my chest. I thrust my nose into the air. "Jamesie told me I should go live with people like me, and so I'm going. I'm running away to stay with muggles."
Now there was no laughing.
"You're- you... what?" Teddy stuttered, seemingly unable to fathom what I had just said.
Well, at least he was taking me seriously this time.
"Lils, you're crazy!" He finally managed, looking at me with widened eyes. "You can't run-"
"Shhhh!" I shushed him, giving him a stern look. I glanced at the door that separated the kitchen from the living area. "They'll hear you!" I whispered, glaring at him. But then I felt bad, because glaring isn't nice. I sighed and hugged him again, and I could tell that he wasn't mad. He never got mad.
"Where are you going to go, Lily?" He asked after a short silence, and he sounded very worried still. “You can’t just wander off and live with strangers- it’s not safe!”
I turned and frowned at him, my nose wrinkled.
"You're not going to tell, are you?" I asked, watching him carefully. He shifted uncomfortably, and I saw him glance out the window, where my dad was standing and watching the boys.
“Lily, I can’t let you put yourself in danger… I love you. We all love you-”
I could feel my heart sinking. I had thought, out of everyone, that maybe Teddy would understand. But he didn’t. No one could. Because nobody had this squirming in their tummies every time anyone looked at them funny, and nobody else felt sad instead of cheery when they saw those scary-looking owls bring Hogwarts letters to the kids. Nobody knew how gloomy it was, being a squib.
“I should’ve never told you nothing.” I choked, tears in my eyes again. “Now you’re gonna tattle and they’re never gonna leave me alone. I can’t tell anybody anything.” I let another little sob escape me as I tried to slide off his lap. “I’m all alone. But so is she! So I thought we’d help each other…”
Teddy’s strong arms pulled me back, holding me in place. I didn’t struggle long, and just leaned back, and let him hug me protectively.
“Who’s alone, Lils? Who’s ‘she’…?” Teddy asked, and I sighed. I picked up his hand and turned it over, placing my palm on his, comparing my own tiny fingers to his own.
“G-Great Aunt Petunia.” I sniffed quietly. “I was gonna go live with her. Daddy said she was angry that day at the funeral ‘cause she was lonely. And I’m lonely, too, and I can’t do magic neither, so I’d prob’ly be better off just going off to live with her.”
“Aunt Petunia?” Teddy turned me around and looked me in the face, his forehead all wrinkled in a frown. “You mean, your Dad’s Aunt? The one who raised him?”
“Do you know any other Petunias, ‘sides the ones in the garden?” I asked with a little bit of sass. Mummy said sass doesn’t look good on anyone, but I really couldn’t help it. I was starting to wish I hadn’t even told Teddy. Now I was never gonna get to feel like I belonged anywhere.
“It’s fine, I’ll just stay home.” I muttered after a long silence from Teddy. “I just… I wanted to be someplace I could be normal.”
There was another long pause, and I suddenly heard Teddy sigh. He leaned forward and kissed me on the forehead, pulling me into an even tighter hug.
"Alright, lil' Lils." He said, using the nickname he'd given me. "I can’t believe I’m saying this… But you got your way. I’m gonna help.”
I suddenly felt the bottom of my tummy fall out and disappear into a cloud of super happy butterflies. I swiveled around so quickly that I almost banged my head against his chin and stared at him with wide eyes.
“You mean it!?” I asked breathlessly, my throat suddenly feeling all tight- but in a good way, not a sad way. Teddy nodded, the corner of his mouth pulling upwards in a little crooked smile. I threw my arms around his neck and gave him the hugest hug I could muster. “Oh, Teddy-Bear! You’re the bestest pretend cousin in the whole world!”
“Alright, alright.” Teddy said with a little laugh, kissing my nose. “You owe me one, you little imp. But I’m not letting you wander off there by yourself, alright? It’s not safe for a little girl. So I’m taking you there myself, and seeing to it that the muggle takes you in.”
“She will.” I said happily, turning back around and leaning back into Teddy again. He made a very comfortable armchair. “She’s got to.”
“Now, Lils,” Teddy said seriously, brushing some red hair back from my forehead. “You’re sure you want to do this? Your dad hated living with her, you know… She was never very nice. She made him do chores and sleep in a cupboard, and… and she never really hurt him. Not on the outside, at least. But… But it’ll be a lot different than living here.”
I swallowed, my little hand tightening around Teddy’s big one.
“I know.” I said quietly, “But… But maybe she’ll like me better. ‘Cause I’m not magic. I’m more like her. Maybe she’ll be good to me.”
“And maybe you’ll be good for her…” Teddy said quietly, but I didn’t know exactly what he meant. After another little silence, he cleared his throat. "Pack your bags tonight," He said. "And I'll take you there first thing in the morning, before your mum and dad get up."
I could hardly believe my ears.
"Thank you, Teddy!" I squealed, throwing my arms around his neck again and hugging him extra tight. He ruffled my hair affectionately and laughed. I couldn't have been more happy. I had been terrified of going to face the mean, old woman alone for the first time. What if she threw me out and I had no way to get home? Not to mention, I hadn't a clue where she lived. With Teddy's help, everything would be okay. I would find my new home with the muggles, and I would finally fit in.
But I could feel my happy feeling start to drain away a little bit when I thought about mummy waking up with no one to make blueberry pancakes for. I turned as I heard the kitchen door open and saw my dad returning from outside. I smiled a little guiltily at him, and I glanced quickly at Teddy. He was a very good actor, it seemed, because he was grinning at dad as if nothing were the matter.
"Ready to go, Lils?" Dad asked, giving me a small smile. I nodded, meekly slipping off Teddy's lap, with his help. "I want you in bed early tonight, alright?" I nodded again and waved goodbye to Teddy, who sat alone on the kitchen table. But before I turned to walk back to the living room, I thought I saw him wink.
All the way home, I kept my fingers crossed in my pockets. I needed tomorrow to go perfectly. I may hate the idea of running away, but it was my only choice. Besides, if I backed out now, I'd be breaking my promise to both Stan and Teddy. Sure, I hadn't actually promised Teddy anything, but he was going to be at my house tomorrow, and he was going to expect me to be ready. Sighing, I climbed into bed but did not sleep, listening until I heard the sounds of daddy's snores. Then, slipping out of my sheets, I began to silently pack. I never uncrossed my fingers.
I'd need all the luck I could get.
The plot thickens! Please leave a review with any thoughts and/or criticism. I really do appreciate every one, and I'd love your insight to make the story better!
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed.
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