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Chapter 8: Chapter Eight
The months passed slowly. At Hogwarts there was something new every day, but at home my days fell into a monotonous cycle. My tutor came Mondays and Wednesdays to help me with my practical work, but mostly I was left alone to learn theory.
Louis went to the Burrow when Mum was at work, but I felt awkward visiting her when I should be at school. I went there with Dom and the rest of our cousins when we were kids, but now I’d be the oldest one. It just didn’t feel right.
So instead I stayed alone at the house, reading schoolbooks since I still couldn’t practice magic without the supervision of my tutor. At Hogwarts I would have liked nothing more than time to myself with nobody whispering about me behind my back, but now I was bored. There was nothing to do.
The only good that came of it was improvement on my schoolwork. During the day I read so many books I couldn’t help but expand on my knowledge, not that the expanding I was doing was all that impressive. My tutor added courses to my schedule so in addition to my transfiguration, charms, and potions, I was also taking Muggle Studies and Care of Magical Creatures, since those were both classes that were heavy in theory. I rarely dealt with any magical creatures and was left instead to learn everything from books.
It was odd for me to know what I was studying and actually care about it. At Hogwarts I was often so caught up with other things that I spent next to no time on homework. Now I did extra homework for lack of anything better to do.
Mum and Dad were definitely pleased about it and gave me permission to go into town, not that I wanted to spend the rest of winter and spring hanging around with muggles. I did go back to the café several times during the day when it was nearly empty, but only when home became too unbearable.
My seventeenth birthday arrived and my parents threw me a little party to celebrate. It was strange, not to have anyone my age around when I finally came of age. Grandma made a special dinner for me at the burrow, but the conversation was stiff and forced.
My parents hadn’t celebrated my birthday with me since I turned eleven. They gave me a watch, as was tradition, and then promptly forgot about the whole affair. I waited in my room all night with the window open to entice any owls to come in. I was still hoping to receive something, anything, from Teddy.
I hadn’t had contact with him since our fight that night. I knew it probably should have been me to owl him, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I was afraid he might still be angry with me.
And it was my birthday. Teddy wouldn’t forget my birthday no matter what kind of fight we were having. But eventually I fell asleep waiting and woke up to a freezing cold room with no letter, no note, no nothing from Teddy.
That was when I gave up and put everything I had into school. Up until that point I’d had Teddy by my side. I’d always had at least one person there for me. Now I had no one and for the first time was completely alone.
Which is what brings me to here and now. I’m with my parents waiting for Dom on the Hogwarts Express. It’s the first time I’ve ever been on this side of the train, waiting for someone to get off. It’s something I’ll have to get used to.
The train pulls up in a puff of smoke and there’s a pause before the students begin pouring out. Suddenly Platform 9 and ¾ is crammed with people, students shouting at each other and laughing and greeting parents they haven’t seen since Christmas.
I get separated from my parents in the crowd and trying to find them will be near impossible until it thins out a bit. People are pressing on all sides of me until I stumble directly into someone.
Teddy’s large hazel eyes stare down at me, his mouth open in surprise. “Vic,” he says, staring at me wide eyed. “Er, hello.”
I’m angry at him for just leaving me like he did, but now that he’s here I can’t think of anything to say. “Hi.”
“Er, Harry’s waiting for me over there.” He gestures broadly behind me and I can’t see if Harry is there or if it’s just an excuse so he doesn’t have to talk to me. “See you around, I guess?”
“Yeah, um, see you.”
And he’s gone.
The conversation replays in my head as I catch up to my parents. Five little words, four if you don’t count the ‘um’. I must have sounded pathetic to him. Half of me wants to go after him and make him listen, but the other half has nothing to say. Is it even possible to listen to nothing?
“Victoire.” Yvette’s cool drawl is enough to make my blood run cold. I’d forgotten that I hadn’t seen her since before Christmas break. “Fancy seeing you here. Bit late for the train to Hogwarts, isn’t it?”
I shrug and take a step back. After all this time she can still make me feel as incompetent as always. “You look a little thin to be pregnant. You didn’t give birth early, did you?”
“Pregnant?” This newest rumor shocks me into speech, although saying anything to Yvette only fuels her fire.
“With Professor Harrelson’s baby. At least that’s what everyone’s saying.” From the smirk on her face, it’s clear she knows it isn’t true. She started the rumor about be and Harrelson, if anyone knows it’s a lie it’s her.
I turn away from her. “None of it’s true.”
“Of course not!” She says cheerfully. Seeing me here must have made her day. Just one more person for her to torment. “That’s why he’s getting a new job in America, far, far away from you.”
I should be more surprised that he’s leaving, but it makes sense. This might even make it easier for me to go back in the fall, if I think I can handle Yvette for a whole year. Even when I try to forget about her, everything comes back to Yvette in the end. I’m pathetic for letting her control me.
“Well bye then!” She saunters off, pleased with herself for ruining my day, no doubt. My hand itches to grab my wand and shoot some kind of hex at her, but that would only make things worse.
Now the only person left to find is Dom. If I can deal with Teddy and Yvette, I can certainly handle her petty quarrels. A hand grabs my shoulder and I turn, expecting to see Dom glaring at me. Instead it’s Teddy. He looks anxious about something, but he shushes me when I start to ask what it is.
“Vic, I like you. I’ve liked you for quite some time now. I’ve waited for you to pull yourself together, but you always want to be the damsel in distress and I can’t spend my entire life saving you.” He says this all as fast as he can force it out. I can’t even begin to process what he’s saying. “Have a good summer.”
I can’t think of anything to say and watch him disappear in the mass of people for the second time in minutes. I find my parents numbly and follow them and Dom to our car. Originally the plan was for me to apparate home, but I think if I tried I’d splinch myself.
Teddy likes me? He seemed sincere and Teddy doesn’t lie, but how could he like me? He was always different from the other guys, always just my friend. Was all of that just a lie? Has it been about my veela charm this whole time?
“Victoire, we asked you a question.” Mum’s voice interrupts my thoughts of Teddy. She and Dom are both staring at me.
“We were wondering why you didn’t apparate home. Usually you enjoy using your magic.” Oh, it’s only that. What do I tell them? I can’t tell them about Teddy, but I’ve got to say something.
“I was feeling kind of tired and apparating is still pretty difficult.” Will we be seeing Teddy this summer? Sometimes we do, but usually we just meet up somewhere. Maybe I can just avoid him for a few months and then I’ll never have to see him again. “Are we having a dinner at the Burrow this summer?”
“We’re going next Sunday,” Dad says, insulted that I would suggest anything else.
I could ask if Teddy’s going to be there, but then they’d know something’s going on and they might tell Uncle Harry and- well, bad stuff would happen. Teddy and I might not see each other for a long time, there’s no reason to bring it up ever again.
Sunday comes faster than I want it to. Before I know it, Mum’s wearing a pretty summer dress and trying to convince me to get ready faster. Faking sick isn’t going to work because when I hinted I might not be feeling well, Mum gave me the evil eye.
So I’m stuck apparating. Mum and Dad decided that since I can apparate we all will, Dom and Louis will just side-along apparate with the two of them. It means we get to spend more time with the family, although I’m hoping Teddy’s spending the night with his grandmother.
Unfortunately Andromeda’s the first person I see when I open my eyes. “Oh Victoire, it’s so lovely to see you!” She’s really old, a lot older than any of my own grandparents. She seems so nice all the time though, she’s never said anything rude about anyone.
“It’s nice to see you too,” I say. “Is Teddy around here somewhere?”
She smiles broadly at me. “You two always were the best of friends. He’s helping Molly out in the kitchen, although I’m sure he’d love for you to steal him away.”
I mutter out a thanks, and shuffle off toward the kitchen. Andromeda must not be very clued in as to what people are saying about me. I bet she’d keep her grandson out of my reach if she knew what a bad influence I am.
Not that she needs to worry about me spending time with Teddy. As soon as she looks away I duck off to the garden and sit out there alone. I have no intention of talking to Teddy today or ever. There’s a chance everyone will forget I’m here. Not much of a chance, but it’s there.
“Hey.” Teddy’s voice makes me jump.
“How’d you find me?” I demand. I’ve only been here for a few minutes, he can’t have figured me out that quickly.
He shrugs. “I saw your sister and figured you were around here somewhere. Plus you weren’t exactly sneaky coming out here. I saw you from the kitchen window.”
“Oh.” My mind races as he sits in the dirt beside me and traces a line in the ground. I begin to wonder about getting away because he doesn’t seem at all as though he’s planning to leave. “Well then what are you doing here?”
“I want to apologize.”
My mouth drops open. Of all the things for him to say, I didn’t think that would be coming out of his mouth. “For what?”
“Being angry with you for so long, not owling you, just dropping that bomb on you at Platform 9 ¾ with no explanation. You name it.” He doesn’t look at me, just continues drawing lines in the ground with a stick.
“Oh,” I say again. “I’m sorry too, for missing your graduation.”
“S’okay.” I nod and we sit in silence, not knowing what to say. “Are you-”
We both stop and laugh nervously. “You go,” he says.
Now that he’s said that, it feels like the pressure is on. What if he was going to say something else? What if he doesn’t want the same thing I do? “Can we take things slow?” I ask. Teddy raises an eyebrow at me and I blush. “I mean, being friends and stuff. We haven’t talked in ages and well…”
He stands up and for a moment I’m sure I’ve offended him, but then his face relaxes into a smile. “’Course we can.”
“Then where are you going?” The question pops out of my mouth before I realize how needy it sounds.
Teddy doesn’t snicker like most blokes would have. Instead his easy smile stays on his face. “Got to spend some time with my grandmother tonight.” Oh. I glance back down at the ground and Teddy grabs my hand. “Come on, she always did like you.”
I let him pull me up and wonder if he’s going to hold my hand the entire time. That doesn’t really feel slow to me, especially since I’m not sure I even like him like that, like he does me. The moment that thought runs through my head he drops my hand and I’m surprised to find that I miss his warm hand around mine.
But we’re taking things slow, mending our broken friendship before we even think about anything else.
A/N: Shalala shalala lo li the end is growing near! There’s only one chapter left, be excited! And leave me a review. Reviews are wonderful things. Virtual cookies to anyone who knows what song I quoted. :)