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Chapter 1: Candlelight and Monsters
Candlelight & Monsters
“I’ve never been here before.” Molly slipped out of her jacket, happy to be in Muggle clothes again.
Teddy took the jacket and handed it to the eager waiter. “The food is satisfying, which you may not expect from a place like this.”
Molly paused before sitting, brow creasing, revealing a delicate dimple between her eyes.
“You didn’t bring Victoire here, did you?”
It would be the ultimate betrayal. One simply didn’t bring a date to the favourite restaurant of one’s ex-wife.
He made a face. She watched him with great skepticism.
“I came here with my editor. That’s it.” He sat down in the chair too hard. His knees hit the table and it shook in complaint, rattling the wine glasses.
She plopped down into the seat. “Alright, then.”
The waiter appeared and vanished again, only to return with their drinks.
Molly twisted the stem of her wine glass around and around until it was swishing up the sides, elbows firmly planted on the table.
“You’ll get that all over you.” Teddy took a long gulp of his ale.
She raised her eyes. “You sound like my father.”
He gave a little grin, coffee-stained teeth showing through. “That’s definitely not a compliment, is it? Merlin save me from the likes of your Dad.”
Her eyes flared red. The wine glass was now in her hand, and Teddy pulled back from the table, eyes on the scarlet liquid. Molly’s lips twitched, the creases smoothing out.
“That’s the trouble with wearing a white shirt.” She gestured toward him with her glass and he moved aside with a grimace. “Coward. I wouldn’t waste good stuff like this.” She took a sip and sighed.
The light was fading outside. The waiter came to light the candle. It lit up their faces, revealing every flaw.
Molly was still looking over the menu. “There’s too much to pick from.”
Teddy had already closed his, balancing it on the edge of the table beside him.
“Don’t expect me to choose for you.”
“Not my trying to be my father anymore?” She did not raise her eyes, frowning over the complicated descriptions of each entrée.
After another moment, she slapped the menu shut. “There.”
He remained silent, the wise choice. It was apparent from his later raised eyebrows when she told the waiter just what she wanted that he still thought it a wise choice. She stuck out her tongue at him, to which he replied with an innocent shrug and an exaggerated frown.
That was, for some time, the closest they could get to conversation.
Not normal conversation by any means, but one got used to such methods of conversing when one spent too much time with the extended Weasley family. And both of them had certainly done that.
The food was come and gone – Molly’s plate cleaned down to the tiniest crumb, and Teddy’s left only the vegetables behind – and tea was served before they actually started talking.
“How’s work?” He dropped a spoonful of sugar into his cup.
She stirred her milky tea. “I’m leaving for Romania on Friday.”
“Dragons again, is it?”
“Yes. The hatchlings of the Fireball are adapting in an interesting way to their new setting.” She kept stirring her tea.
She asked him about his work next, and he stared off, never to be stopped except for death and/or the lights going out. He did hate the dark. Told her that it was just so... dark. He liked to see things, everything, all things all the time. Never blink because you never know what you’ll miss.
He was compiling a history of the two wars, an obsession of his since... well... forever. So once you asked him how it was going, out poured the entire history of Voldemort, the Death Eaters, and her Uncle Harry. He rarely ever spoke about his own parents, but that didn’t surprise Molly. Teddy was never the sort to talk about himself, the private things he held close.
She stared at him, leaning her chin on her hand, elbow balanced on the edge of the table. Listening. His eyes got a bit brighter as he spoke, and she liked the spark of it, telling of more if you just cracked open his shell. Hard as a rock, he could be.
Out came a deep breath and she blinked longer and longer, carried off by the sound of his voice, so low and melodious. It was pretty to listen to. Calming, but never boring, no. He could talk forever about anything and she would just sit and watch and listen.
She tapped out a beat on the table with her fingers.
That was when he snatched up her hand, caressing it with his long, long fingers.
Her eyes widened.
“Oh, Molly. Am I boring you?”
She started to say no, no, of course not, never, when he pulled her hand up to his lips.
“You already know of all this, anyway, don’t you?”
Again, she stuttered out a reply, brain not entirely understanding.
Okay, she’d admit it. Not understanding at all.
He put her hand down, but kept his on top of it.
“What’s wrong, Molly?” He leaned over the table, staring into her eyes. “You look as though you weren’t expecting this, but how could that be?”
She blinked. Gulped. “Um–”
“This has been coming for a long time, you know.”
It was his voice. That’s what wasn’t quite right. Too high-pitched? Maybe on a sharp note? As opposed to a flat note in musical terms, she meant. His voice was anything but sharp in the pointy way. It was soft and rolling, very lovely. More lovely than usual.
“Right.” She drew out the syllables.
But she didn’t pull back her hand. His was warm, but not clammy like some guys get when they’re all excited and such. He wasn’t excited, just expectant. She couldn’t handle expectant, not when she knew what it was he was expectant about in the first place.
Awkward was the right word for this.
She decided to play along. It was fun, after all. She rather liked this, actually. It was weird only to a certain degree. A lesser degree. Not much of a degree at all.
“I didn’t think that you would....” She lowered her eyes. “Well, I didn’t think that you’d want it to be like this.” She smiled a bit when she looked up.
Meeting his eyes was rather more than awkward now. He gazed at her intently. If there ever was an intent gaze, it was this one. The most intent of intentedness. Merlin, he could bore a hole through her forehead with that look. She’d never seen the likes of it before, and certainly never expected it to appear on him, of all people. He was always so nice.
She hated the word, but it was the one that fit best. Nice. Teddy was nice, everyone always said, such a nice boy. Then young man. Then man. Nice from the very beginning.
“You want to be only friends, Molly?” She could almost see the tears welling up in his eyes, his fingers so light on her own.
It was a question that she couldn’t exactly answer. Yes, she liked him, liked him very much. Too much. She’d never thought about it that much because all the girls liked him. So many of the girls at Hogwarts sighed over him, even once he was gone, and Molly’s cousins weren’t any better, looking too long at him when he was in the room.
But Molly? No, she wasn’t like that. Like this. Then her heart gave a little flutter and she really didn’t know what to do.
Teddy leaned closer. “I could persuade you very easily, you know.”
Molly picked up her tea to hide her face.
Oh no, oh no, oh no. This could not be happening. Simply. Not. Happening. Her ears must have failed her. Her eyes must be deceiving her. Her mind must have leapt off that last cliff into insanity.
“Really,” she stammered, putting down the tea. It was cooling quickly.
He now picked up her hand in both of his, holding it tightly to his chest, pulling Molly against the table. She winced.
“If only you knew how strong my feelings were for you, my dearest, darling Molly.”
Alright. So it seemed that Teddy Lupin was madly in love with her, Molly Weasley. Seeing that he’d been married to Victoire, he was either making a drastic change in his life in order to truly experience the love he’d always wanted.... or he was just very very desperate.
And she couldn’t think of anything to say. It was all too unreal. This wasn’t like Teddy at all. Not the maybe possibly loving her thing, but the whole mushy romantic strangeness. Not like him one bit. Being nice was one thing. Being like this was quite another. It made no sense whatsoever, and she did like a little bit of sense in her life.
She didn’t like it, or did she? That was the problem, not knowing.
He watched and waited patiently for his true love to respond, her hand growing warm against his chest. She could almost feel his heartbeat, the endless quick thumping that counted down the seconds until she made up her mind about what to do next. What to do with this new Teddy who’d emerged, not entirely wanted, but not entirely un-wanted either.
Had she just thought that. Not entirely un-wanted? Really?
“Would you like to come back to my flat afterward? Or would yours be better?”
Oh Merlin. He didn’t just ask that.
“I’m really quite flexible,” he added with a wink.
And then the idea came to her mind: she would be utterly mad to say no.
When she sorted through all the times they’d spent together – which, when only counting the times alone together, were really very few – she could not at all see why he would act like this right now at this moment. It was just a dinner between the two of them, friends. That’s it.
But why oh why was she being so difficult?
That was the real problem here.
She met his eyes, and opened her mouth. Then closed it. Then opened it again.
The word that came out wasn’t the one she’d meant to say, but there it was.
“Molly, what are you talking about?”
His voice wasn’t the same. It was impatient, curious, lower, and normal.
She blinked a few times, the mist in her brain clearing away.
“What of mine are you referring to?”
He wasn’t holding her hand in both of his against his chest. He wasn’t staring at her with adoring eyes. He wasn’t being all gooey and romantic. He wasn’t at all like that. The monster in her head was gone. That was what it had been a monster, a scary, big monster taking over her brain to give her the most fantastical of ideas.
“Um. Nothing. Just talking to myself.” She grinned a silly grin, a lobster-red flush spreading across her neck, cheeks, and forehead, right into the roots of her hair.
Teddy tilted his head, looking at her at an angle, his eyes narrowing, searching her face. Molly was glad that they were unable to find whatever it was he sought when he at last shrugged and raised his hand to catch the waiter’s attention.
“Did you like the meal, Molly?”
She nodded, but didn’t dare speak.
“When you get back, we should do this again.”
Molly coloured more, definitely not wanting to do a rather large portion of “this” again.
“Yes.” She sounded like a mouse. Not particularly alluring, unless he was a cat.
He nodded, whipping out the correct funds to pay for the meal. The waiter didn’t even lift and eyebrow. Must be an undercover wizard. Or in possession of a very good poker face.
They stood up. He helped her with her jacket, then put his own on. They walked out of the restaurant and stopped outside. He turned to her, hands in his pockets, collar braced against the wind.
“What way are you going?”
Molly pointed in the opposite direction that she knew he would go, adjusting her scarf.
It was a long minute until he spoke.
“Have a good trip, Molly.”
She stared at him. Goodbye. This was goodbye for Merlin knew how long.
“Owl me when you get back.”
He turned and started to walk away.
Molly watched him.
She was an absolute idiot.
The whole date had been ruined because her imagination was a little too overactive... okay, a lot too overactive, and now he was walking away with the barest of goodbyes, sounding like he’d had a horrible time and would be glad to see the last of her for a few months.
She could not let this happen. Not let any parting between them be little more than the barest of goodbyes.
He did not turn. She ran forward, glad for her practical – though sparkly – shoes.
He stopped and looked back with a frown, head once again tilted. His neck was probably stiff or something.
She caught up with him, gasping for air.
He put a hand on her shoulder. The perfect cue.
“Don’t. Ever. Say. Goodbye. Like that. To me. Again.”
And in the most cliched way possible, she threw her arms around him and kissed him on the mouth. Never done that before, not in that way. But she liked it, and she hoped that he did too. It was all she could hope for.
The monster had its way, but this time, at this moment, Molly couldn’t have cared less.
Author's Note: it's really very hard for me to write fluff, and I think this is as close as I can get. The more "realistic" ending to this story would be for Molly to let Teddy go, feeling absolutely embarrassed and believing that he'd never ask her out again.
The original idea for this story is a couple of years old based on an odd dream I had. Problem is that the story didn't turn out half was funny and ridiculous as the dream. But I hope that you enjoyed it!