I can do it. I am strong. I am unique and that's okay.
Breathe in and count to three, breathe out and count to three. Eyes open … that's it.
I blink slowly, ungluing my eyelashes one at a time. The pulling sensation is odd, pin-prickly, physical, real … me. The colours in the room come next, fighting their way past the bright beam of sunlight that has found my face through the slit between the curtains.
Where am I?
Slowly, I examine my memories as if they were written down on flash cards. I slot them into their proper order — the recent past events. I was discharged from St Mungo's. Daily affirmations will help me get through each of my goals. I'm in my old room at Gran's house. Today I'm twenty years old. How the hell did that happen?
"Hey, Teddy Bear? Can I come in?"
I sit up so quickly that my heart's in my throat. I swallow, breathe. Search the blankets, find the small silver compact and flip it open. Stare into my own eyes. Blue hair. Hazel eyes, like my dad. Familiar upturned nose, like mum. A long breath out. I'm still me. I snap the compact closed.
"Yeah, Harry. Come in."
It's all right. Gran told me yesterday Harry would be by today. I slip out from under my sheets and sit on the edge of the bed, poking around the freezing floor for my slippers.
Harry's ruffling his hair the way he always does when he's uncomfortable. I can't say I blame him. It's not like there's a rulebook for how to talk to a mad person. I tighten my grip on my compact. The smooth sensation of its silver cover warming against my palm calms me.
I stand up quickly when I feel the mattress jump underneath me. Turn to look. It's just Harry sitting down beside me. I don't need to freak out. Just hold it together, Teddy. Act normal. I sit back down as casually as I can, hoping it just looked like I stood up to fit my slippers on my feet all the way.
"You're look— I mean… How are you, Ted?"
My mouth twitches. It's terrifically funny to watch Harry try to get his words out when he's nervous. I can practically read his thoughts as he's trying to process all the information the hospital gave him about how to talk to me without saying the wrong thing.
A smile would probably help him. I smile. Watch his shoulders relax and his face soften. That's more like it.
"I'm better, Harry. It's going to take some time to get used to being out of the hospital, but I really feel like I can manage it now."
He sighs, relieved, ruffles my hair with his hand and then claps me on the back. "I have a surprise for you. I wanted to talk to you about it privately before I deal with the legalities."
I raise my eyebrows, cock my head on one side. "What is it?"
"How would you like a house? A place of your own that you can fix up, or tear down and rebuild? Or you could sell it and use the money for whatever you fancy?"
A New Beginning
I tap the serpent head door knocker with my wand tip and the door opens with a creak. Its paint is peeling and rains down upon the floor of the entrance hall. When I push it open, I'm hit in the face by a blast of musty air.
The hall is dark but the last rays of the sun setting behind me illuminate a row of old fashioned oil lamps which I light with my wand. They flicker to life and my breath catches when a gust of wind slams the front door closed behind me. I look down the dust-filled passage. The grey silk on the walls is torn and spattered with what looks like years worth of muck and grime.
Harry says the house has been unoccupied since before the Battle of Hogwarts. He told me my father stayed here with his best friend during the war.
It's the sort of house that you would expect to be creeped out by, but as I light my wand tip and begin to explore, my blood thunders in my veins. I'm not afraid of this house; I'm rejuvenated by it.
Wandering from room to room takes me all night. There's so much potential to be had here. I'm not sure whether I want to restore it and attempt to track down all the original fixtures, or if I want to gut it and start over fresh.
I don't find many mirrors.
The one in the bathroom is so caked in dust I can't see myself in it, and I find one in each of the two largest bedrooms. The largest one at the bottom of the stairs leading toward the entrance hall is already covered by a curtain. It's not too much trouble to cover the others with a couple of tea towels.
The room with deep gouges in the wooden floor feels the friendliest to me. I wonder if my father stayed in here. It takes a quick Restoration Charm to put the feathers back into the mattress and I throw my sleeping bag on top. I'm home. I crawl into bed and snuggle deep inside my bag. It's comforting to fall asleep as the warmth of the morning sun creeps across the floor.
"Teddy! I found another Doxy nest!" James calls up the stairs.
I sit back on my feet and wipe my forehead with my dust-covered arm, looking out the bedroom door to the landing. I'm about to call back that I'll be there in a second when Ginny's voice beats me to it.
"Don't worry about it, Teddy. I'm taking care of it!"
I climb to my feet and stop short. There's a mirror on the wall in front of me. I thought I'd covered all the mirrors the first day. I feel a trickle of sweat slide down my back from between my shoulders and siphon the dirt from my cleaning cloth with my wand, feeling the mirror's eyes on me even though I'm not looking into it.
I quickly drape the cloth over its frame and I think I hear it huff in annoyance, but I leave the room before I think too much about that.
I find Ginny, Harry, and the kids in the drawing room. They've got cloths tied around their faces as Ginny and James spray the curtains with Doxycide and Harry tosses the stunned Doxies into a bucket while Lily looks on.
It's nice to not be alone. Gran's house isn't unbearable to live in, but it's hard to live with somebody when you feel like they're tiptoeing on eggshells around you all the time. My breakdown wasn't her fault. Really it wasn't anybody's fault. But she seems to think she should have seen it coming and nearly bursts into tears whenever she looks at me. I just can't live like that anymore.
It was my Healer's suggestion that I strike out on my own and make myself a place to live that is all me, that I choose how to decorate or not. To build it from the ground up, or transform something dingy into something beautiful, that the idea of me physically transforming my living situation into the one I want will help me accept that the body I have is actually the one I prefer if I'm comfortable with where I'm at in life.
There's a loud crash from the entrance hall and we all nearly jump out of our skins until we hear Ron's voice call out.
"Who left the bloody bin in front of the door?"
It was me. I feel my cheeks grow warm.
Harry grins at me and shoos me with his hand to go and greet Ron. "Tell Ron he needs to thank Bill for finally breaking the curse on Sirius's mum's portrait. She'd be screaming about blood traitors if he hadn't."
I raise my eyebrows, smile and nod before leaving. Harry has told me about this supposedly cursed portrait in the past, but I can't recall the details. He'd had it taken care of years ago. I glance at the time-darkened portraits on the walls on the way downstairs. They seem to whisper as I pass.
An Accidental Friendship
I breathe a sigh of relief as I close the front door.
It's wonderful to have help getting this house ready for renovation, but truthfully I work best when I'm alone.
I let my eyes trail over the newly exposed plaster of the entrance hall. It's greyish-white now that the old silk has been torn down and it makes the hall look more clean and inviting than I'd guess it ever has.
I'd given Ron Harry's message about the portrait and he'd seemed shocked to realise there was actually no screaming happening. He ran to the portrait, pulled the curtain back, seemingly disappointed it was now just a blank canvas. He jogged up the stairs to join the others.
When I pull the curtain on the portrait, it's not blank. It's not a portrait either; it's a mirror. I stare at it, and for once I don't feel like my skin is crawling, like my identity is bubbling under the surface and attempting to change into something else.
I smile, and my reflection smiles back. His blue hair stands on end from all the grease and dust, but the cocked eyebrow gives my reflection a welcoming sort of feel. I think I'm getting better already. I decide to leave the curtain open.
I open my eyes in the darkness of my room.
I hear something. A whisper, or perhaps it's just my own breathing. I hold my breath to see if I can hear it again.
I do. It sounds as though somebody is trying not to cry.
I sit up in bed and light the oil lamp on the wall with my wand.
"Help me," a woman's voice says faintly, so much so I almost wonder if I've imagined it.
I crawl out of bed and drag my dressing gown on over my t-shirt and boxers. Is it coming from the mirror?
I recall my success at looking in the mirror downstairs and brace myself. I pull the cleaning rag off the mirror's frame and there's somebody else looking back at me.
I wait for the sickening sensation to take over and pull me down, but it doesn't come. Instead, there's a woman. At least I think she's a woman. She looks like a very feminine sort of masculine, or rather, a woman with close-cut hair dressed in a man's shirt and tie.
I'm not sure I'm even making sense to myself, but this person is very much not me, and yet still present in my mirror.
The voice is soft like a woman's voice, but deeper than I'd expect a woman to sound.
"I've been calling for hours. Couldn't you hear me?"
I hesitate, taking in the haughty expression and trying to decide whether the stir of arousal I'm feeling is real or if I'm dreaming.
"Who are you?," I ask, hating how polite I sound when I have every right to be upset at the intrusion into my privacy and to demand an explanation.
"I'm Wally," the person answers and my nerves start to sing when I hear it. It makes no sense. I'm not interested in other people sexually, or rather, I don't think I have been before, but now, here, hearing this voice and seeing this person's face has my cock primed and ready.
I swallow hard. "You were asking for help. How are you talking to me through this mirror? Who were you trying to reach? Who are you?"
"Surely you've heard of a two-way mirror?" Wally says, lips turning up at the corners in a smirk. It actually reminds me a lot of my own smirk, or perhaps it's just this blasted mindfuck making me see myself in other people again. I squeeze my eyes tightly shut. I don't want to go back to the hospital.
"Son, are you all right?" Wally's voice is full of tenderness, almost parental, and as my cock throbs, 'incestual' springs to mind too.
I open my eyes again, staring back at the reflection, studying it some more. My mother was a Metamorphmagus. Is it possible this is her, somehow not dead? No. That's ridiculous. Harry saw her body. I feel my eyes fill with tears and my cheeks grow hot. This can't be happening. I don't want to be embarrassed in my own bedroom.
"Who are you?" I demand, my voice coming out more broken than forceful and I flush further, but don't stand down.
Wally's face tilts to one side as if she's, he's, they're sizing me up.
"I'm a lost soul just like you, dear. I had a son like you, too. He left one day and never came home."
Tears gather in Wally's eyes. I don't know why that comforts me, but it does. I don't feel quite so alone when I'm not the only one crying. Nobody has ever cried with me before, they've always tried to cheer me up, or get me to stop. It's refreshing. I open up and spill my guts because Wally is interested and will listen.
Somebody to Love
I drag my arse awake, scrubbing my eyes with my fists. I'm so sleepy lately. I wish I could just stay in bed all day. My eyelids feel heavy again and start to close on their own, but Wally interrupts me from the mirror.
"Teddy. You said you're planning to finish the drawing room today. You need to get up and eat a decent breakfast."
I yawn, blinking at her from my bed. Her cheeks are lightly flushed pink. Over the course of the past month she's told me she identifies as a woman, though she has male attributes. I don't know what it is about her exactly, maybe just that she's so different, so unique, but I quite fancy her despite our age difference. She still won't tell me exactly how large the difference is or where she lives and how we can meet in person, but promises that she will when she knows she can trust me.
I know what that's like. How many times I was burned while at Hogwarts for trusting in people's good nature without really knowing them and I can't fault her for her hesitance. With her though, I have none of the misgivings I've had in the past.
I kick my sheet and blanket off myself, arching my back and stretching. The sun pouring in through the window floods my bed with warmth and I understand why cats enjoy sunbeams so much.
Wally chuckles from the mirror. My erection is poking through the hole in my boxers. I'm not ashamed anymore. We've moved past that. I'm fucking halfway in love with her even though I don't quite understand it.
"See something you like?" I ask lazily, although my pulse is racing. If I can just figure out the right words to say, I'll be able to see her in the flesh. I don't know how I know it, but I do. "You've got to tell me where you are if you want me to come and see you."
I slip my hand inside my boxers and slowly fuck my fist, my eyes half open, focussed on her face.
There's a hunger in her eyes, a burning need that I have to touch, I have to experience. She looks at me as if I am the only person in the world who will ever satisfy her. I can't help it. I know that's what's really going on here. I feel wanted, desired, and it's bloody fucking brilliant.
"Take them off," she tells me, and as I watch, she moves further away from the mirror so I can see more of her body. "Take them off and show me what you can do."
I'm sold. I slip out of my boxers, spread my legs and give her everything she asks, lips trembling, and heart nearly breaking when I hear her reach her climax at the same time I do.
I forget about the drawing room. There are more important things in life than renovating a house.
My fingers are bleeding.
I stop embroidering and flex them a few times, trying to get my joints to stop cramping. Whoever came up with the name Walburga was a fucking sadist to the one having to embroider her name.
I promised Wally I would restore the Black family tapestry. She won't let me tell Harry about our relationship, but that's all right with me. Harry seems a lot more distant lately anyway.
When he visits, his eyes are strained and the way he looks at me with concern and pity written across his face makes me want to smack him. If he really cared, he'd realise I'm getting better. The house is nearly restored and I feel ... I think about it. It's been a while since I've examined my feelings. I feel like a new person. Not in the bad way like I used to, but in a good invigorated sort of way. Like I can take on any challenge head first and not only meet it, but rise above it.
My skin crawls on the back of my neck and I snap to attention. There's a portrait on the wall opposite me that has always just had a muddy backdrop, but I swear somebody had been there a moment before and vanished in my peripheral vision. It's not the first time this has happened either. I'm starting to feel like I'm never alone anymore, even when I want to be.
None of my dresses fit. It's not that I can't get them on, of course I can. As a Metamorphmagus I can wear anything I'd like and look fabulous in it. The problem is that they are all out of fashion.
I leaf through the magazines I purchased at that filthy Muggle shop down the street and I am appalled at how far this country has sunk. Well, that's not exactly true. I've never been very good at hiding my true nature. It thrills me that the world seems ready for me to reveal myself exactly as I am and my talents will be appreciated as I deserve.
There's nothing for it. I banish the lot of silks and lace, so carefully preserved in my closet. I've covered the portraits in the house once again to keep the peace.
I aim my wand at my new duvet and fashion myself a dress after the styles I see in the magazine. It will do until I am able to visit Gringotts and shop for a new wardrobe.
I gaze at myself in the mirror, pleased with my body again after so many years. I'm wearing my hair black to my shoulders, curled at the tips. My lips are freshly drawn, though I need to purchase colour for them. My breasts fill the makeshift dress just right and when I turn sideways and look at my reflection, I see my waist has also returned to its former shape.
A thump sounds from downstairs.
I tighten my fist around the handle of my wand. There's an intruder in my house.
A Brand New Day
It really is a shame. I stare at the vacant green eyes frozen in death, forever locked in an expression of surprise. You would think as head of the Auror Department, Mr Harry Potter would recognise a horcrux when he spotted one.
That's neither here nor there any longer and with his death I reseal the bond to the house of my fathers. There's a whimpering sound issuing from behind my masterpiece's curtain. It makes me smile to know I have a lifetime ahead of me.
I stride to the mirror beside the fallen hero and with a quick Severing Charm, apply red to my lips. I blow my reflection a kiss, carefully pat the key in my pocket, and head out newly risen to put my affairs in order. A new day has dawned.
(please return to livejournal to comment or leave one in both places)