Chapter 1 : Prologue
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There were a dozen reasons that stopped her from going through the door. Each one coupled with a rebuttal. None having an excuse worthy of words. So, she stood, staring at the dark brick of the building, allowing her sight to skim the rusted gutters, the tarnished brass doorknob, the vandalized letterbox. The decrepit row of flats each singing their own song into the night sky caught her attention more than she would admit to anyone but herself. She knew what awaited her inside. She understood him. Maybe loved him.
A bird flitted from tree to tree behind her and she unwillingly jerked her head in its direction, quickly cursing herself for allowing such fear to cross her mind. She was indifferent on her best days. Emotionless. Hollow. But, now, she couldn't deny the anxiety creeping up inside of her as she edged closer to the door that she so adamantly did not want to enter.
No real reason made her come back. There was nothing here that could save her now. Nothing would protect her. Not him. Not her magic. Fantasy and reality had collided long ago and this, the constant paranoia, was the result. They were coming for her. It didn't matter how fast she ran or how sincerely she pleaded. Her time, the calling, was now.
Her cold, clammy hand reached out to the doorknob and twisted gently as if she was afraid to make a sound. She carefully stepped over the threshold and the wind was instantly knocked from her body. The lights were off. The buzzing of a machine in the distance was all that could lead her through the halls. The closer she got to the sound, the bigger the rock grew in her chest.
As if her thoughts were read, fluorescent lighting blinked rapidly overhead. One by one they stabilized; her path to his flat lit up ominously. He was expecting her. He never doubted her. Maybe he should have.
There were a dozen reasons why she didn't want to knock on his door. Each one as ridiculous as the next. Regardless of her voided emotions, she knew that he needed her just as much as she had once claimed to need him. They were never friends, never close, never much of anything aside from lovers. If that. They had formed a bond, a secret and inconspicuous bond. No one had known. And the day that she left in fear of her life was the day that she kissed him goodbye and never looked back.
But now, as the final hours approached, she needed him. His help. The only one who could understand. Despite everything that he was not, Teddy Lupin was a generous and understanding man. Especially where she was involved. Victoire Weasley was nothing, if not part veela.
The door swung open and she jumped, her breath catching in the back of her throat. Teddy's eyes were narrowed, his stature tall and proud. He gazed at her through scurrilous eyes to which she responded with a tiny smile. He held the door open, not speaking a word, and allowed her to enter his home. Teddy shut the door quietly as Victoire sat herself on his sofa, daintily as if afraid of catching a disease.
Her thoughts were lost. She had forgotten why she came. Unannounced and uninvited. Teddy stood with his arms crossed, leaning in the archway between the kitchen and the living room, staring. Doing nothing but staring at her with those haunting, chocolate eyes.
Victoire coughed and snuck a glance around. Nothing to be proud of. He was living like a slob, a usual half-breed slob. Part Metamorphamagus did nothing for him. And neither did having the blood of a werewolf. Just as her father was hard up and Neanderthal, so was the love of her life. The discouraging thought fled her mind quickly as her vision went in and out of focus.
The slowly fleeting repugnance was now replaced by inescapable and overpowering fear. She could not breathe, or think, or see, or hear. Truth was fading fast. Everything in front of her was rushing away and what was left had not permitted her to stay conscious. The last thought she could gather was of the dusty table and its very unattractive coloring.
She woke abruptly, grabbing her chest, which seemed to be on fire. Her head moved vigorously from side to side and no words would break through her throat. Water. Air. Victoire couldn't decide which was the most important.
"Settle down." He strolled over to her with an air of annoyance, his strut complete with an arrogant bounce. Her eyes closed slightly, listening to him like she knew she had to. "You're alright."
Victoire launched at him. A ferocious demon was pent up inside of her and his callous tone brought it forth. The little bit of space left between them was forgotten and her hands wrapped around his neck.
He pried her away easily with a dark chuckle in his throat mimicking her as she sat back, out of breath once again. When she tried to speak, it was croaky and painful. Her mouth closed. Victoire gave up the struggle and sat silently in the bed, tremors traveling her body.
"You ran," he said, not bothering to look at her any more. "You forgot about me, your life, your family. You just left us all."
Victoire nodded indifferently. She would not regret the decision she made. It kept everyone safe. It ensured her safety. For this long, anyway, she had been unscathed. Nothing had caught up with her from her past and she was determined that this visit to Teddy would not sacrifice the life she had made since.
Teddy rubbed his temples roughly with his fingers and closed his eyes. "Why? How could you be so damn selfish, Victoire!"
"Le Diable chie toujours au même endroit," she quoted like a verse of poetry, shrugging her shoulders. "Mum always says it."
"I don't care! I really don't care! Do you even know how worried I was? You're a spoiled, selfish, ungrateful-" Teddy faced her, his eyes lit up in fury. His hair had turned the color of charcoal and his lips formed a straight line as he ticked off her bad traits on his fingers.
Victoire jumped from her bed and pointed her finger menacingly at Teddy. "You don't know anything, do you? You haven't the tiniest idea!" She clutched at her throat which felt as if it was closing. Her breathing picked up. "I left for our own good, Theodore! I left to protect you. Do you know what's happening right now? Have you any clue at all?"
Rhetorical questions. The pair of them had been reduced to arguing one sided fights. Victoire hunched over, a hand draped across her stomach while the other massaged her neck. Teddy did not move; he barely blinked an eyelash.
She breathed loudly, in and out rhythmically, in order to calm down. A twinge of pain shot from her side to her neck, causing her to scream. Teddy, though, stayed still.
"What is your problem?" She asked through gritted teeth, looking at him through a veil of blond hair. "Don't you care what's happening here?"
Teddy smiled sardonically and stood from the bed. He walked to her casually, no rush in his movements at all; like a hawk stalking prey. "The movement in France has nothing to do with you, Victoire. You are born French, but also, and more acknowledged, English. You need to let it go! They aren't coming to get you. And I won't wait for you to figure that out. I haven't waited."
As his final sentence sunk into the silent room, Victoire stood straight up and stared him in the eyes. His hair had changed back from black to its normal light brown and his eyes had lost the fiery gleam they had. He seemed almost numb. As numb as she felt.
"You.. haven't waited?" She repeated quietly, letting her hand drop from her neck. "I was terrified for our lives and you, what, moved on?"
"There was nothing between us to move on from, Victoire! You kept us a secret because you were afraid that something was going to happen to us like it happened to our parents! I won't live in that kind of fear." Teddy put out his hand to try and comfort her, but she recoiled, her mind reeling with disbelief.
"I left you. Not the other way around," she mumbled to herself, trying to save her damaged ego. "Yes, that's right. I left you because you're a filthy half blood! A filthy, orphaned half blood!"
Teddy felt the sting of her words cut deep into his already failing heart. "Get out."
Victoire made a movement to heed his request, but stopped suddenly, catching the sight of tears building up in his eyes. She reached out her hand, wanting to apologize, to soothe the pain, to tell him that she hadn't meant it.
"Get out!" He shouted, pointing to the door.
She ran. It was the only thing she knew to do now. Run. Run away and never look back. There were a dozen reasons why Victoire knew that she shouldn't have come back. And each one now had a valid point behind it. Things were starting to change. The people, the places. Her.
The door slammed behind her and she slumped against the wall to catch her breath. She couldn't apparate in this state; not while her panic attacks were in full swing. But she knew no one else, not in the way she used to. She would have to leave again, back to her flat in Switzerland. Away from Teddy, away from her family and away from the revolution she knew was coming. Everyone would suffer, most especially those associated with the Weasleys and Delacours.