Chapter 1 : The End Where I Begin
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Oh dear Merlin.
This was, without a doubt, the most excruciatingly embarrassing moment of my entire life. It was literally one of those occasions when I would have done anything in my power to vanish on the spot, and therefore a shame, really, that I was unable to Apparate.
I glanced at Alex beside me, whose face was practically the same colour as his hair: a fierce and highly conspicuous shade of red. He looked, if possible, even more mortified than I felt, which was certainly saying something – I would confidently maintain that nothing I had experienced in my sixteen years of life could even come close to this in terms of humiliation. In fact, I was half convinced that this was the sort of traumatizing experience that necessitated counselling. Why I was permitted to live with a woman who was clearly so uninterested in my emotional wellbeing, I’ll never know. Stupid, psychologically scarring grandmother.
I tore my eyes away from Alex and risked a glance at Gran herself, the lead player in this ridiculous little performance. With her heaving shoulders and bright red face, I was rather given the impression that she was about to explode. Andromeda Tonks was certainly not a woman to be messed with, and I had just messed with her big time. One thing was for sure: there would be hell to pay later.
In these kinds of situations, the main problem with Gran was that she had absolutely no sense of embarrassment, and so though she looked utterly absurd and was embarrassing the both of us more than words could describe, she clearly couldn’t have cared less. She had always been the kind of person who insisted that it didn’t matter what other people thought, which was, naturally, utter rubbish. I doubt she even remembered what it was like to be sixteen, and therefore had no idea just how important it was for me to maintain my respectable position in the social hierarchy. This, I was sure, would push me down at least three points if not more, and if she continued in this manner I would soon be on a par with Bernie from Charms club.
Abandoning Alex on the train, I hurried towards Gran, deciding that fluctuations in my social status were another problem for another day. When I reached her, endeavouring to ignore the stares and sniggers of the students still milling around the platform and the politely averted gazes of parents and teachers, I muttered, “Come on, let’s just go, ok? Don’t make a scene, please?”
“Too right we’re going,” she hissed, seizing my arm in a vice-like grip and dragging me away across the platform.
As I attempted not to trip over the trunk and owl cage I was pulling behind me, I glanced over my shoulder at Alex, making an apologetic sort of face at him. To my great relief, he grinned back rather sheepishly, and so I figured I was probably forgiven. It was hardly my fault that I had such lunatics for relatives, but it wasn’t his, either, and while it was my duty to put up with Gran’s many eccentricities, he certainly didn’t deserve it.
Gran’s lips were set in a tight little line, and she didn’t say a word to me until we had made it through the barrier, marched across Kings Cross in a manner that attracted stares from more than one scandalised Muggle as my owl, Bernard, squawked in distress at this unceremonious departure, and were out in Muggle London. Only then did she release her grip on my arm, which I was naïve enough to take as a good sign.
“Gran?” I tried nervously.
“What?” she snapped.
I had obviously been under a serious misapprehension. “I – er – didn’t expect to see you here,” I finished lamely, concluding that I wasn’t going to be allowed to merely skip over the events of the previous few minutes.
“Clearly,” she said tartly.
“Last minute thing, was it?” I asked, for want of anything to say, fighting to keep my voice even. “I thought Harry was meant to be coming.” If only Harry had come. He was one member of my family, at least, that I could count on not to make a complete spectacle of himself at public functions.
“He was,” she said, her tone icy, “but there was some sort of emergency with the children.”
I didn’t dare speak again, and so we walked on in silence for another minute or so until we reached a deserted street, at which point she stuck out her right arm. Almost instantly, there was a crash and a bang as the Knight Bus burst onto the scene, landing with an almighty thump on the road below. We stepped on, ignoring the overeager and pimply conductor, paid our money, and took a couple of seats towards the front of the bus.
“Look, I’m sorry,” I tried, as Stan Shunpike stumbled over with hot chocolate and toothbrushes, neither of which we had ordered.
Gran made a noise that sounded something like humph! which I took to mean that she had not accepted my apology (heartfelt as it was) and so continued: “If I’d known you were going to be there, I would never have –”
She swelled ominously, looking more incensed than ever. “I should certainly hope not,” she said curtly.
“But – but don’t you think you’re overreacting just slightly?” I asked, throwing caution to the winds. “I mean, everyone else was doing it…”
Gran did not seem to agree with me. Her eyes practically popped out of her sockets, and from this reaction I was able to deduce that, just possibly, accusing her of possessing anything other than a perfect temperament had not been the best way to go. Oh bollocks.
“Teddy,” she practically snarled, “I do not expect to walk onto the platform and see you … snogging … another young man.”
Merlin. My Gran just used the word snogging. That was wrong on so many levels. Besides, who even said that anymore?
But her sentiments, I supposed, were fair enough. It was true that I had been saying goodbye to Alex, my boyfriend of almost two months, when Gran had emerged through the barrier. However, as we were on the train in a private carriage it hardly counted as public and therefore had been in no way indecent, and if only the train had not chugged into the platform at the very moment Gran stepped onto it, and if only our carriage had not been the directly in her line of vision, and if only I’d had the foresight to inform her of my sexual orientation beforehand, then we could all have been saved a lot of trouble and humiliation. I could not be held accountable for such cruel twists of fate and, therefore, she had no right to get at me about it.
She, however, clearly did not see it that way.
“Um, yeah…” I said feebly. “I should probably have said something to you about it before…”
“Said what? That you are… are…”
Gran was so terribly old fashioned, it scared me sometimes.
“Yes,” I said calmly, “I am.”
She pursed her lips. “I see.”
I expected there to be more, but nothing came, and so, after this little confession, the next few minutes passed in complete silence. Merlin, why couldn’t we just have Apparated? Sure, it gave Gran a migraine which meant putting up with her bad mood for the rest of the day, but at least we would have been spared all this agonising tension, which was most certainly of the cut-with-a-knife variety.
I risked a glance at Gran. She was staring determinedly out of the window, and pointedly did not return my gaze, though I was sure she’d seen me. Well, if she planned on being this way, I wouldn’t be spending much time at home these summer holidays, that was for sure – there wasn’t a chance in hell of me putting up with such ratty behaviour from her for the next eight weeks
In hindsight, of course, I should probably have told her about Alex. I’d slipped him into various letters and conversations on more than one occasion, but never hinted that he was anything more than a friend, so in some ways, I suppose, Gran had a right to be upset that I’d been keeping something like this from her. If I’d had a girlfriend, after all, I would certainly have told her. Eventually.
But this was different. This was … complicated. And one thing was for sure: I’d definitely been right about her not understanding. She loved me and everything – I knew that only too well – but to expect her to be entirely at ease with this sort of thing was several steps too far. She was getting on a bit, after all, and I was willing to bet that stuff like this didn’t go on in her day. The wizarding world had always been somewhat behind the times, in any case.
All possible conversation between us apparently exhausted, a highly uncomfortable silence continued throughout the rest of the journey. Once we had been dropped off outside the house, Gran marched purposefully up the driveway, fumbled for a moment with the keys, and then thrust the door open.
“This isn’t over,” she warned me, before bustling away into the kitchen.
I shut the door behind me and then dejectedly began on the colossal task of heaving my trunk and owl cage up the stairs. A good four minutes later (my bedroom, unfortunately, was on the third floor) I was able discard my trunk by the door, dump the cage on the windowsill, and collapse down onto my bed, finally able to contemplate my woes in peace.
The thing was, I didn’t blame Gran for how she was acting. Not really. Well, maybe a tiny bit. But I’d always known she would react this way, which was why I’d put off telling her for so long. As was the way with these things, of course, the longer you put them off, the worse they were in the end.
After another minute or so of moping, it occurred to me that poor Alex really deserved a proper apology in the form of a long, grovelling letter, so I leapt up and hurried over to the window, where there stood … an empty cage. Bloody marvellous. Even my stupid owl had deserted me in my hour of need.
I slumped back down on my bed feeling more morose than ever, and it wasn’t as though I was without good reason. If there was anything worse than being caught by your Gran while kissing your boyfriend on platform 9 and ¾, having the entire school witness her consequential hissy fit, and then ending the performance by being dragged away by the ear for a good telling off, I had yet to hear of it.
All in all, not the best way to finish my fifth year.
A/N: Thank you so much for reading! And yes, I know Teddy/Victoire is canon, but I'm just playing around with it here :D Thanks also to RonsGirlFriday and Lily Windsor for help with the story title (in the unlikely event that either of you are reading this, I figured it was kind of a combined effort... :P)
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, and the chapter title comes from the song by The Script, which I also can't lay any claim to :)
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