Chapter 9 : 9. Teddy
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I arrived at my godfather’s house on New Year’s Eve, really wishing that I didn’t have to be there. I had almost considered writing to Harry and cancelling. Then again, that would have been childish of me, and wasn’t I just trying to prove to Victoire that I could be mature? Maybe that wasn’t such a great reason to go, but it was good enough for me.
I rang the doorbell and waited for someone to answer the door. I took in the fairly big house Uncle Harry lived in, amazed that such a rich and famous person could live in such a modest house. If I had half the amount of money he had, I’d buy myself a mansion in a hot country and never look back. I’d be assured of that all year round tan most people craved.
The door finally swung open , revealing Ginny, Harry’s wife. She looked very smart, wearing a pretty dress and her red hair tied back neatly.
“Good evening, Teddy,” she greeted me warmly. “How are you?”
“Just dandy.” Ginny stared at me for a second, and I stared back equally as strongly. Yes, I had just used the word dandy in a sentence. Yes, that sentence was out loud. Why didn’t I just die now?
“Come in,” Ginny said smoothly, covering over my crazy reply. Dear me, I wish this evening would just be over.
She led me through her festively decorated hall, and through into her living room where most of her family were congregating. Yes, I was very fond of the Weasleys and Potters… but mostly in small doses. I’d had a bit of an overdose of them recently. I shoved my worries aside, safe in the knowledge that they would all bugger off soon and I’d be back at work, safe from small talk and family politics.
I accepted the first offer of champagne, resolutely deciding to decline the next offers. I could not afford to get completely off my face this evening, mostly because I could not trust myself not to say something stupid, do something stupid, or just generally be stupid. Oh, what a nice thing self confidence is. Also, I was aware that Victoire was coming with Sam, and I really could not afford to make a fool of myself in front of him.
I knew at once that she wasn’t here yet; she has a certain presence in the room that is quite hard to miss (I suspected it was to do with the very very small part of her that was Veela).
Music filled the room from a wireless in the corner of the room. It was old music, and I recognised the band as the Feared Sisters or something similar, anyway. It was one of Ginny’s favourite bands, and this music came out every Christmas time, for everyone to enjoy… though from the looks on everyone’s faces, they did not seem to be enjoying it.
“Dance with me, Teddy,” Lily said eagerly, tugging on my sleeve. A bit back a sigh, and obediently danced with my Godfather’s daughter. That would earn me brownie points. It was as I was dancing with Lily that I realised what I must sound like; a bitter young man. I shuddered, then turned to Lily, fixing a smile on my face.
New Year’s is something that nearly everyone dreads. Yes, it’s disguised as a fun party night, everyone having fun, no cares in the world, celebrating the start of a new year… but I knew that most people secretly dreaded it, sort of like brussel sprouts, or pumpkin pasties. Yes, I enjoyed a good party as much as the next person, but there was something about New Year’s that made me go cold inside. The forced smiles, cheesy music, posh outfits and small talk were really not my cup of tea. I supposed one positive was that the fussy food was free.
My mind briefly cast back to the packet of fish and chips I had offered Victoire the other night… oh, how I would kill for a piece of fish right now. I felt utterly rejected by the memory of Victoire’s face as she had opened the door. I don’t think she had ever wanted me less in that moment. I shuddered. My head was telling me just to let it go, but something else was telling me to sit it out, to give Victoire time. I was sort of suspicious that it was my heart telling me those things, but I didn’t really want to admit I had one of those, so I pegged it down to the alcohol.
I felt a tap on my shoulder later on in the evening, after I’d danced with nearly every member of the Potter and Weasley families, or what felt like it. I turned, to find myself facing a teary Victoire.
“What’s up?” I asked, concerned. Her face was bare of make up, except for her red lipstick, of course. Her blonde hair was scrunched into a messy pony tale.
“Can we go for a walk?” she said, sniffing.
I checked my watch. “It’s half past eleven.”
“I know,” Victoire said irritably. “I thought we could get fish and chips.”
I smiled, and nodded. “Good idea. I’m starving.”
I grabbed my coat, and we quietly left the party. I don’t think anyone missed us; everyone was either drinking merrily away, or putting their children to bed. When we reached the street, I notice that Victoire had stupidly forgotten her coat. I should have expected it, really. This was Victoire, after all. I wordlessly gave her my coat and headed in the direction of the nearest fish bar.
“Are you going to tell me what this is all about?” I asked eventually, when we’d found a bench to sit on, not far from the park. My breath condensed in the air in front me, showing how truly cold I was.
“Sam refused to come with me tonight,” she said in a small voice.
“Why?” I asked, the immediately wish that I had kept my fat mouth shut.
“Well, because he overheard our conversation the other night,” Victoire said miserably.
She ripped off a piece of battered fish and stuffed it in her mouth. I ate some chips in order to prevent myself from speaking. It was probably best I didn’t let my alcohol fuelled mind get out of my head. It was much safer to keep it locked away.
Victoire looked at me, and she seemed to want a response. I settled for, “Oh.”
“We had a row… We both said some awful things.” Victoire looked thoughtful as though she couldn’t find the right words.
“I’m sorry,” I said, feeling that that was what she wanted me to say.
“Oh, it’s not your fault,” she said, waving a chip filled hand aside. “Well, not entirely. I should’ve told him before now. He was bound to find out eventually.”
I thought about her words, and decided yet again not to say anything.
“I suppose I should say sorry,” Victoire said after a pause. “I know things haven’t been the same between us recently. And I know it’s mostly my fault. But I want us to be friends. I don’t make sense without you, Teddy. You’re my best friend.”
“I know, sweetie,” I said, sighing a little. I put my arm around her shoulders, warming us both. We had finished off the fish and chips by now. How could I tell her that just being friends wasn’t good enough for me? Even as we sat out in the cold now, I hated myself for wanting more. I could smell her scent on her as I breathed in, and I tried to close my mind to such thoughts. Maybe I could ask Uncle Harry to teach me Occlumency. Then again, from what I’d heard, he wasn’t that skilled at it. “I love you, too.”
I heard a clock strike in the distance, and I looked up to the stars, and saw the beautiful fireworks explode all over the sky. I looked to my right, to where Victoire was watching the display with a half smile on her face. At least I had cheered her up. Her face turned different colours as the sparks glowed all around us. I was lucky to have her, I knew.
It was, I thought just then, a lovely way to welcome the new year; me and Victoire, side by side. Ready to face whatever the new year flung at us. I know I couldn’t have her the way I wanted, but I’d settle for second best. Anything was better than not having her at all.
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