The back garden of The Burrow was currently aglow with the light of hundreds of multi-coloured fireflies that illuminated everything they flew past in the gathering darkness. Dominique’s party had, so far, gone off without a hitch and the merry sound of her family and friends having a good time, mingled with the music of that retro band ‘The Weird Sisters’ that her parents seemed so keen on.
Everyone was having a great time; Molly was flirting with Callum Wood, who was far too old her, Victoire was dancing the night away, Hugo was smuggling cake into Aunt Hermione’s never ending handbag and Dom herself was sitting on a bench with Adam, attempting to immerse herself in the conversation. But, if Dom was to be brutally honest with herself, she had to admit that there was something nagging her at the back of her mind. Well, actually, it was at the forefront of her mind.
Teddy hadn’t even bothered to make an appearance.
His absence was glaringly obvious and, aside from Uncle Percy’s brief attempt to ascertain where he was (the elbow in his ribcage that he had received from Audrey was the reason for the brevity), a tactful silence had been maintained. The whole family knew how disappointed Dominique would be, but she seemed to be paving the way forward by not mentioning it.
Dominique was jolted back to reality, rather abruptly, by Adam’s hand waving to and fro in front of her face as he tried to recapture her attention.
‘Oh, Merlin, sorry! My head’s in the clouds tonight.’
‘Because of Teddy?’
The look on Adam’s face was one of complete sympathy, verging on pity, and although she knew that he meant well Dom’s jaw tightened involuntarily.
‘No! No, it’s nothing to do with him. They’ve probably given him another shift at the hospital or something. And he’s been really stressed lately.’
‘Ah, alright, you just seemed miles off,’ he said softly.
Out of the apparently empty house came a loud crashing noise, which sounded uncannily like the smashing of plates; however, nobody was close enough to hear apart from Dom and Adam. They looked at each other quizzically, however little could be done before Louis came charging out of the house. He looked around rather frantically for a few seconds, scanning over Dom and Adam in his quest for whomever he was looking for, before snapping his head back to where Dominique sat. She raised an eyebrow at him, but it was probably lost on him, as he was already racing straight for the couple.
‘Dom, you’ve… you’ve got to come… inside,’ he panted, wiping the back of his hand across his brow.
‘Have you broken something? I’ll fix it for you if you want, but only because turning seventeen is a novelty.’
‘No,’ his breathing hitched once more, ‘you’ll see.’
Dom was less than impressed at being dragged away from her friend on her birthday, but was too interested in the mystery of what was going on to stay glued to the bench. She stood up, smoothing her robes as she went, and addressed the boy still sitting.
‘I’ll not be a minute, okay? Just grab something to eat and I’ll be back.’
‘Yeah, that’s fine,’ Adam said with an encouraging smile.
And that was all Louis needed to grab hold of Dom’s arm and start dragging her towards The Burrow in the most inconspicuous manner he could manage. Needless to say, Dom did not tolerate the dragging for long and after that they looked rather less conspicuous.
‘What’s all of this about?’ Dom demanded as Louis tried his best to urge her towards the cobbled yard and through the kitchen door.
‘I’ve told you, you’ll see once you’re inside! And you’d better hurry up because we can’t leave him in there for by himself in that state.’
‘Who?’ Dominique looked at Louis inquiringly, and in doing so managed to trip over one of the uneven cobblestones in the yard.
‘Who do you think? Teddy bloody Lupin!’
Upon hearing the name of the party that Louis had incarcerated in the kitchen Dom sped up and ended up running the final few steps to the old wooden door. She attempted to open it, but it was either stuck, or Louis had purposefully locked it. The guilty look on his face spoke volumes, but Dom dismissed it with a roll of her eyes and was inside with a simple ‘Alohamora’.
The sight she was greeted with once she swung the door open was quite a surprise.
Teddy Lupin had been slumped over at the kitchen table, but their arrival jolted him awake and as he fixed the siblings with his blurred gaze he slurred a greeting at them.
‘’Ello Gorgeous… ‘ello Dom.’ The humour of his words seemed to overwhelm him and he sat at the table emitting an odd sounding mixture of laughter and coughing, whilst rocking slightly in his chair.
‘Oh Merlin,’ Dom groaned, ‘he’s absolutely pissed.’
‘I know,’ Louis said, pulling out a chair at the table and sitting down. ‘Stick the kettle on to boil and we’ll try and sober him up.’
Dom took Louis’s advice and filled the kettle with water, placed it on the stove to boil and took a seat beside Louis at the table. Teddy had recovered from his laughing fit and was questioning Louis on whether or not he thought people would realise that he was drunk. There was no diplomatic answer.
This only caused another flood of laughter to erupt from Teddy, and Louis and Dominique glanced at each other once more, the former with a look of amusement and the latter with one of irritation.
Teddy then took on a stage whisper and spoke to Louis, ‘You’ve got a very attractive sister, you know.’
‘Well… Both of ‘em, but Vic’s a bit… loopy isn’t she?’ Dominique blushed in embarrassment and Louis just coughed uncomfortably.
‘You know what, Dom? I think I’m just going to go outside and check that Adam hasn’t been eaten by the wolves,’ Louis said as he stood up and scraped his chair along the floor in an attempt to make a hasty retreat.
‘Don’t you leave me here, Louis Septimus Weasley!’ Dominique’s call was futile. Louis had already made his exit, vaulting over a chair in the process. Dominique just gazed after him and sighed.
The question could only have come from one person and when Dom turned back around he was uncomfortably close, his elbows propped on the table and his hands cradling his face.
‘Ugh, Teddy, move back a bit. You smell like a brewery!’
‘I think that you don’t wanna be sitting ‘ere with me,’ Teddy said, crossing his arms over his chest huffily.
‘You’re not wrong there, mate.’
‘Well, thas not very nice,’ Teddy pouted. ‘I came all the way ‘ere from the Hogs’s Head and you don’t wanna see me. I am very upset with you, Domineeque.’
‘You are upset with me? Am I the one who turned up to your birthday four hours late completely and utterly trashed?’ She paused to let him speak, but he wasn’t forthcoming with any words. ‘No, I didn’t think so.’
‘But, you see, and this is the most important bit of all, I can explain.’
Teddy was nodding his head fervently to the tune of the kettle whistling in the background, which reminded Dom that she had it on. She stood up without a word, fetched two mugs from the cupboards and poured the boiling water into them. She added teabags and milk from a small jug on the counter and slammed one of the mugs down in front of Teddy, so that it slopped all over the table, and placed one in front of herself.
‘I will, I will, I will. But first, I’m gonna explain,’ he said it as if it were the most simple thing in the world and Dom, despite her show of anger, was more than willing to give him a chance.
‘Go on, then. But make it quick.’
‘Well, Dom, you see… The thing is, well, it’s that… I love you.’
Dominique choked on her mouthful of tea and coughed for a few seconds, as Teddy looked on, before she regained a hold on her composure.
‘Ah, I see, I bet you had that one planned. What was it? An afternoon out with the lads and you were all scrambling around for the best excuse for your sorry state?’
‘No! I wasn’t out with anyone! But I had to tell you, and I just realised it. I love you, Dom.’
‘Right I’ve had enough of this rubbish. It’s my birthday, Adam’s outside waiting for me and you’re too drunk to get any sense out of. I’ll send Vic in to apparate you home.’
Dominique exited The Burrow, slamming the back door behind her and leaving a confused and disappointed Teddy Lupin in her wake.
11 AM, Twelve Hours Earlier, Andromeda Tonks and Teddy Lupin’s House
Teddy brushed the kitchen floor with great enthusiasm, unusual for any teenager, especially one who hadn’t been guilt tripped or threatened into it. His grandmother had floo-ed to Diagon Alley an hour earlier to stock up on her cooking supplies and he had been left alone with his thoughts. Or rather, the one ridiculous, preposterous thought that kept buzzing around his head.
To take his mind off it he had thrown himself into the cleaning, but no matter how hard he scrubbed or how efficiently he dusted the thought still infiltrated his mind. In fact, its intensity seemed to be increasing so that it was more like a swarm of locusts plaguing him instead of a lone fly.
He had taken it upon himself to try and drown it out by forming a mantra that he repeated over and over in his head to try and counteract it. Every stroke of the brush across the tiled floor was another affirmation.
I can’t. I don’t. I can’t. I don’t. I can’t. I don’t. I can’t. I don’t. I can’t. I don’t. I can’t.
It was as effective as he could have hoped, but his eyelids were weary from a lack of sleep and his mind was fuzzy, resulting in flickers of unwelcome information to slip through the cracks.
I can’t. I don’t. I can- Why not? I can’t. I don’t. I can’t. I don’t. You do. I can’t. I don’t.
It was true, of course, he thought as he placed the broom back in its place in the cupboard, but admitting it to himself in the safety of his own mind was a different matter altogether than saying it out loud. He’d spent all night thinking it over and had come to the conclusion that the best way to deal with it was to deny it. That option was becoming infinitely harder as the day progressed.
He walked from the kitchen to the living room and threw himself onto the sofa in a distressed heap. It surprised him that he hadn’t realised the truth earlier and it was only going to be all the more painful spending the day with her and Adam.
I love Dominique Weasley, he thought. It was an odd feeling, but also slightly liberating. It explained a lot of jealous moments and ridiculous behaviour on his part without the answer to it being that he was a total pillock.
The real question was whether or not he should tell her. She may have been seventeen, but she still had two years of school left, her family would probably murder him and there was no doubt in his mind that she didn’t feel the same way. It couldn’t possibly benefit him.
On the other hand, he couldn’t just give up. If he left things up in the air then Adam or some other lucky bloke would sweep her off her feet, and he would be the bitter old man coughing purposefully thoughout their whole wedding ceremony in order to ruin the atmosphere.
In a move designed to illustrate his newfound maturity and resolve, he stretched himself out of the foetal position and sat on the sofa like a normal human being. He was going to tell her and he was going to do it tonight. He quivered at the thought and it soon became clear that he wasn’t quite ready.
What he wouldn’t do for his own private store of Felix Felicis. Not the most moral thing to do by any means, but it would make things a lot easier. He needed to be brave and, once he had almost given himself up as the least courageous Gryffindor ever, it occurred to him that there actually was something he could do about it.
He stood up and moved about a foot away from the sofa so that he wouldn’t fall over it in an attempt to apparate. The six times before this were more than enough. He thought hard about his destination, spun around on the spot and, after a dizzying ride, landed in Hogsmeade.
It was busy enough for mid-morning on a Thursday. He’d never really seen Hogsmeade when it wasn’t packed to the rafters with Hogwarts students. Diagon Alley was always the place to go when you were off for the summer, so seeing the Hogsmeade inhabitants in their natural habitat was somewhat of a novelty.
Teddy has apparated to Hogsmeade with only one establishment in mind. It wasn’t somewhere that he had ever frequented before, but it seemed rather appropriate for what he needed. It was only a short walk from the main street to the Hog’s Head. It was owned by an elderly wizard named Aberforth, who never seemed to abide by the law, especially not the one declaring that alcohol was not to be consumed on the premises until noon.
Teddy strode purposefully past Zonko’s, but hesitated outside Honeydukes. His grandmother had already bought Dom a present, but he wanted to get her one himself. Should he just call in and get a load of peppermint toad creams? They were her favourites.
He headed into the exuberantly decorated shop, intent on getting Dominique some sweets to go along with her yet-to-be-purchased present. The shop was relatively empty, with only a couple of employees milling about and no more than five other customers. Teddy went straight to the green stall beside the counter, which was reserved for peppermint toad creams, and scooped a large amount of them into a small paper bag. They were rather unattractive looking things, just as the toads they were modeled after were, but the fact that they were bite sized little sweets made them easier to stomach.
Teddy wound his way back to the counter and placed the bag of sweets on the counter to be weighed by the girl on the till. At least, that’s what she was supposed to be doing. She had her head buried in a magazine and he coughed loudly to try and get her attention. She remained spellbound by the glossy pages of Witch Weekly.
‘Excuse me? I’m in a bit of a rush here.’
The girl lowered her magazine with a hefty sigh, but the look on her face when she saw the face of the man standing in front of her was one of shock and disbelief. Her hand immediately went to the open magazine that she had set on the counter and flung it to the floor, but Teddy had already seen that the face emblazoned on the page was his own. He threw a galleon on the counter and picked up his sweets.
‘Em, just keep the change…’
And then he was out of the shop like a shot. He had been planning to stop at Scrivenshaft’s and buy a colour changing quill, but all he wanted now was a stiff drink. He walked straight past Scrivenshaft’s Quill Shop, cut off down a small street not too far down the road and walked swiftly towards the pub.
He reached the inconspicuous wooden door in no time at all and entered the dingy pub in search of some firewhiskey.
And some more. And some more.
A/N: First of all, I would like to apologise for being such a disaster and for this taking so long, but I made about four different attempts on it and it just wasn't working! Hopefully this was worth the wait and I'll try and make sure that it doesn't happen again! Thank you to everyone who has read and reviewed so far ^_^.