Chapter 1 : 1. Prologue
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29th April, 2008
The time has come to make the decision. What will you choose? Are you too scared of making the wrong choice to be confident? Which will it be: yellow or blue?
“Mum?” A voice called out to her, dragging her out of her mind and into the present. With all these distractions, she’d never reach a decision.
Distraction seemed to be a given in a Weasley household; perhaps it was the presence of far too many of them or the fact that none of them could keep their mouths closed for more than ten seconds that meant noise was only just around the corner. Still, she had had many years of practicing her concentration skills to be able to cope with the occasional disturbance.
“Hang on a second, Ginny.”
Molly Weasley held her wand tightly in her right hand, feeling the grooves on the wood as they bit into her palm. Slowly, with her tongue slightly poking out of her mouth, she put the finishing touches on the birthday cake, twirls of icing floating from her wand in an elegant arc across the surface. She had chosen blue; all boys liked blue and it was slightly less offensive than the garish yellow icing she had discarded. Standing up straight, she tucked her red hair behind an ear and smiled.
“Yes, dear?” Molly said, looking up from the now finished cake with a satisfied smile. It wavered only as she caught sight of her daughter’s slight features. She bit back the temptation to tell her she should eat more; her skinny frame definitely looked like it could do with some extra cake. No matter, for the cake in front of her was big enough to feed the entire Ministry of Magic, let alone her family.
Ginny returned the smile and ran her fingers through her red hair. She looked tired, Molly observed sadly. She supposed that was what you got with three small children under five years old. Maybe now was the time for her to impart a few pearls of wisdom, maybe suggest looking after her grandchildren a bit more. Even though she had brought up seven children, she never underestimated the energy needed to look after a few less. Ginny was tough, though, and so she banished all worrisome thoughts away.
“Harry’s on his way to pick up Teddy,” Ginny informed her mother whilst counting out candles for the cake. “He’s got the kids as well, lucky thing.” Ginny winked and put the tenth and final candle on the cake. “There, finished.” She checked her watch, frowning slightly. “Where’s Bill? He’s always late. Everyone else has been here all morning! You can never rely on him to-”
“Don’t be so harsh on your brother,” Molly admonished softly. She often found Ginny to be a little harsh on her brothers; they seemed to have toughened her up over the years.“His job is demanding and Fleur has been having a hard time with the children. You should be a bit more understanding.”
Ginny sighed, running a hand through her hair again. “I know. I do understand. But Teddy will be so disappointed if they don’t show up. He’s been so excited these last few weeks. He loves birthdays and he wants-”
She was interrupted again by the kitchen door being thrown open. Bill strode in, letting a cool April breeze blast into the room. He was followed by Fleur, her hair artfully windswept.
“Speak of the devil,” Ginny muttered under her breath.
“Keep your hair on, I’m here now!” Bill said quickly, hoping to avert any upcoming argument. He kissed his mother on the cheek and smiled innocently at Ginny, who scowled in return. Molly looked pointedly at her as she embraced Bill fondly.
“’Ello Mrs. Weasley,” Fleur greeted Molly warmly, kissing her on both cheeks. Out of the corner of her eye, Molly saw Ginny roll her eyes.
“Good afternoon,” Fleur said slightly less warmly to Ginny. Her French accent still annoyed her, but Ginny had decided a long time ago to set aside any differences she and Fleur had had.
“Yes, bonjour,” she said irritably. Her mood wasn’t helped by her brother’s late arrival, her snarky streak aggravated. “Where is Victoire?”
“She ees in ze garden,” Fleur said, casting a glance out of the window to check that her statement was true. Sure enough, Ginny could see Victoire’s slim frame chasing a garden gnome energetically around the lawn, her blonde hair blowing about in the wind. “Good ’eavens!”
Ginny watched amusedly as Fleur tore outside in order to stop her daughter dirtying her shoes. When they returned Fleur was scalding Victoire in French and the seven year-old looked as sad as though the Quidditch World Cup had been cancelled. Fleur thrust the pouting girl in front of her grandmother and muttered something in her ear. Scowling, she met her grandmother’s gaze.
“Sorry, Grandma,” Victoire apologised forcedly.
Molly looked at her eldest grandchild fondly and chuckled. “Don’t apologise, dear. Those gnomes need a good chasing.” Molly sent Victoire back out into the garden with a fond pat on the back.
“Oh!” Ginny gestured towards the garden gate. “There’s Harry.”
Victoire scuffed her new shoes at the ground sulkily. She didn’t really care what her mother’s reaction would be; she was fed up of being nagged. In fact, she was interested in seeing how dirty she could get her shoes to be. How easily would the red shoes fade? Maybe she could rip her new skirt – that would show her.
She looked up sharply when she heard footsteps approaching. Her brown eyes took in Teddy Lupin, who was holding out a balloon for her. He was smiling goofily and the wind ruffled his dark hair.
“Happy birthday,” she said moodily, snatching the balloon out of his hand.
“Thank you.” Teddy grinned again, his eyes sparkling with humour.
Victoire frowned, wondering why he was in such delight over her grumpiness. “What’s so funny?”
“I know what you’re getting for your birthday,” Teddy said, lowering his voice conspiringly.
“I don’t want to hear it from you. And I can wait four days.” Victoire glowered at him. In truth, she desperately wanted to find out what her present would be, but she would never admit that to Teddy. She didn’t need his top secret information, she could find out for herself. Besides, grown-ups could wait until their birthdays to know. She liked surprises.
Teddy’s smile dropped at her dismissal. “What did I do wrong?”
“You called me smelly,” Victoire looked away, as if the mere memory caused her pain. How humiliated she had been when Teddy had announced this fact in front of all her cousins a few days previously. “I don’t want to be best friends with someone who calls me smelly.”
“But,” Teddy argued, “You did smell. You ate garlic.”
Victoire’s eyes watered. “Sometimes you are so mean, Teddy. You didn’t have to tell me.”
“Actually, I thought it was the fairest thing to do. So you knew and could go and clean your teeth. I was doing you a favour.” Although Teddy was no longer smiling, Victoire could hear the laughter in his voice. His lip quivered under her withering gaze.
“I don’t like you anymore,” she announced huffily and crossed her arms.
Teddy looked at her briefly and realised she was serious. “Oh please, Victoire. Be my best friend again. I promise I will never ever be mean to you again.” For dramatic effect, he added in a sing-song voice, “I love you, Victoire!”
“Eurgh!” Victoire laughed, tossing her fair hair off her face. “That’s gross! You can’t say that.”
“Yes I can. I love you. I love you. I love you.” Victoire looked revolted as he puckered his lips and took a step towards her.
“Stop it! I’ll be your friend again if you stop saying that,” Victoire begged.
Teddy grinned and sighed with relief. “Thanks, Victoire.”
Teddy began to walk towards the Burrow, but just as Victoire thought she had got rid of him he shouted, “I love you!”
“Teddy!” Victoire called back, slowly turning red. “Don’t ever say those words again!”