A/N: This chapter is dedicated to all those HPFF writers, readers, and reviewers who have gotten the ghastly H1N1 or normal flu this season! Feel better.
“One of us is gonna be here, and one of us is gonna be running off alone into the great unknown.”
-Blow Away by A Fine Frenzy
He was running. The powdery snow gave under his paws as he pressed on through the wintery air, howling with the pack…
A loud giggle brought Teddy round to consciousness, and he opened his eyes slowly. He was tucked tightly into a bed that was not his own in what appeared to be the hospital wing. James Potter sat at the foot of Teddy's bed, though he seemed to be engaged in conversation with the bed to Teddy's left and did not notice his newly found consciousness. Teddy looked to his left and saw Victoire sitting up in bed, laughing. She was, of course, the source of the loud giggle that had woken him up. Roxy was perched at the end of her bed, talking animatedly. Louis, Molly, Lucy and Fred were all in chairs next to her bedside, listening to Roxy's story with rapt attention. Dominique, however, was nowhere in sight.
"What's going on?"
Teddy thought, as a burning pain shot through his throat. While he had been able to speak without mumbling, his throat felt raspy and inflamed.
"Oi, look who is awake!" James announced, punching Teddy in the leg in what he obviously thought was an appropriate way to greet a convalescent. Teddy kicked out, and consequently kicked James off his bed and onto his arse.
Victoire beamed at him. "Welcome back, Teddy," she said sweetly.
"How long have I been out?"
"Two, maybe three days."
"What! I've been unconscious for three days?" He exclaimed in surprise despite the pain speaking caused him.
"Well, no. You've woken up before, but you probably don't remember. Fever, you know?"
"Oh." He wondered if he had revealed anything embarrassing while he was in his semi-conscious state. Then he thought if he didn't remember anything from his fever, then Victoire probably didn't either, including the secret about the journal. An interesting mix of relief and disappointment flooded Teddy at the thought. "Did I get mumblemumps, too?" He asked the obvious question as he attempted to remember how he got into the hospital bed. "How did I get here?"
"Well, obviously you got the mumblemumps," James scoffed, sitting on Teddy's bed again, "you looked like a toad for days." He had a knack for comforting people, James Potter did. Teddy once again tried to kick James off, but the boy dodged his foot and sat on his ankles to keep him from trying again. Teddy scowled, his illness making him rather less patient than he normally was.
"Anyway...I don't really remember this, but apparently I woke up and you were lying on the floor next to my bed. So I called for Madame Florentia, and she levitated you into the nearest bed."
"I'd be careful, Teddy," Roxy piped up.
"Yeah," Freddie joined, "Madame Florentia isn't very happy with you."
"Why?" Teddy asked. Wasn't it enough that he was ill? Did someone have to be angry with him as well? Was their no justice in this world? Would James ever get off his foot?
"Well, she kicked us--you, specifically--out of the hospital wing because Victoire was contagious and then you snuck back in the middle of the night, and, as prophecized, fell ill yourself," Louis explained in his thorough, lofty way. He was a real stickler for detail, and his explanations were never very succinct. Teddy thought he'd make a great barrister someday.
“Yeah,” James said, because he just had to say something, “and she took thirty-five points away from Gryffindor for being stupid.”
“Don’t worry,” Molly interjected, finally joining the conversation, “Professor Longbottom came by to visit, and he gave all but five of the points back because you displayed ‘true Gryffindor loyalty and spirit’.”
“Which unfortunately only made Madame Florentia angrier,” Roxy finished, and everyone grimaced in acknowledgement.
Victoire rolled her eyes at everyone as Madame Florentia bustled into the hospital wing levitating a tray of food in front of her. The assembled Weasleys and James scattered as she approached Victoire's bed.
"Off with you now. My patient needs to eat," she ordered. Fred, Roxy, Louis, Molly, Lucy, and James waved good-bye and hurried out of the wing. Apparently, none of them were very keen on testing Madame Florentia's patience that day.
She set the tray on Victoire's lap, saying, "Here you go, dear. Eat up; you need all your strength."
"Thank you," Victoire replied.
As Madame Florentia stood up, she noticed that Teddy was awake. "You're awake, are you?" She said with a great hurumph. "Well, let's have a look then."
She came over to Teddy's bed and drew the curtains around him. She felt his neck (none too gently, he might add), illuminated her wand to look inside his ears, and had him say, "ahhhh" at least twenty times. Teddy swore he felt twice as bad as he did before she examined him and shoved several different potions down his throat.
"That was brutal," he complained as Madame Florentia left the wing with a promise of bringing in some food for Teddy.
"It isn't so bad," Victoire shrugged, slurping down some delicious smelling chicken noodle soup.
"Well, maybe not for you," he argued, "she likes you."
"Stop being such a baby, Teddy," she retorted, though a large smile played around her lips.
"You're enjoying this, aren't you?"
"Just a little. And not nearly as much as Dex."
"What's Dex got to do with this?"
"Iblameyouforthis," someone mumbled from the bed to the right of Teddy. The curtains were pulled around it indicating that they were still contagious, so Teddy couldn't see who it was though he had a pretty good idea.
"Dex! Is that you, mate?" Teddy smiled; he almost felt like laughing.
Dexter Gadsby was the only Slytherin friend that Teddy had. He made up for his less-than-appealing house by being the coolest guy Teddy knew and not going in for the Pureblood mania. That is not to say he wasn’t a callous, manipulative bastard. When Teddy had questioned him about his beliefs on blood class, Dexter had responded with, “I’d take a clever mutt over a pedigreed nitwit with a dwindling fortune any day. However, if the fortune isn’t dwindling…”
Teddy had thought he’d been joking at first and laughed. But when he realized that Dexter was completely serious, he was shocked. But in the end, Teddy figured that that comment fit in perfectly with who Dex was. Dexter, who considered himself to be of the clever mutt variety, was also dangerously ambitious and determined to be the Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Prophet
. He used his natural charm and good looks to befriend the people who could help him get there—the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, and the famous. The latter was the reason he initially made an effort to get to know Teddy, the godson of the
Harry Potter and one of the last descendents of the Blacks to boot. Teddy, however, had quickly caught on to Dexter’s game and turned the tables. Dexter had been impressed and the two formed a genuine friendship over it, though Teddy was still wary of bringing him around the Potters. Or Victoire. Or any girls over the age of fifteen, for that matter, because Dex liked to employ his charm and good looks for other gains as well.
He was also a good friend of Brian’s for reasons Teddy could only guess at. While smart enough, Brian did not particularly excel at his lessons, was not wealthy, nor did he come from a famous family. Brian was the essence of a decent bloke with a kind heart and a good sense of humor; not exactly Dexter’s type, though Teddy had a sneaking suspicion Dex admired Brian for the same reason he did. Brian was content to want and pursue the simple things from life, like a “good job” that he liked “reasonably well” and a house, a wife, and a handful of kids. All these desires Brian readily admitted without shame or embarrassment, a novelty for a teenaged boy and something neither Teddy nor Dexter could boast about.
"Youhandedmethemegaphone," Dexter muttered in response to Teddy’s greeting.
"Sorry? What was that?"
"He said that you handed him the megaphone you use to commentate the Quidditch games with, and he got sick because of it."
Teddy nodded. "Ah, don't feel too badly about it. You know deep down that you must have done something to deserve this."
"Giiiittttt," Dex groaned back through the curtain, sounding sleepy.
"Git," Victoire translated.
"Funnily enough, I managed to pick that one up myself," Teddy scoffed.
Victoire shrugged again, finished her soup and brought a bowl of flavored gelatin closer to her. As she began to scarf it down, Teddy's stomach rumbled, and he wondered when the last time he ate had been.
"Here's your lunch, then," Madame Florentia said by way of greeting as she plopped a tray of food on Teddy's bedside table. She helped him sit up, and placed it on his lap. Grateful for sustenance and anxious to dive into a bowl of that chicken noodle soup Victoire had devoured, Teddy managed to smile brightly at the nurse who raised an eyebrow in response. He was confident he'd win her over eventually.
"Stubborn brat," he thought he heard her mutter as she walked away.
Or, maybe not.
Teddy looked down at his tray and was dismayed to find that it was devoid of all the things that were on Victoire's tray. Instead of a cool glass of pumpkin juice, buttered toast, and the aforementioned soup and gelatin, he had a tepid cup of tea without cream and sugar, lukewarm broth, and a bland-looking biscuit.
He groaned. "She hates me doesn't she?"
Victoire looked over at Teddy's tray. "Maybe. I mean, that's what I had to eat at first too, but at least mine came with gelatin."
He scowled and bit into the biscuit, determined to like it. "Ugh, it tastes like wood," he cried as he attempted to chew it.
"Stop whining, you peckerhead," another familiar voice mumbled from across the room. Teddy whose mumbling-to-English translation skills were improving by the minute only knew of one person who would say something as vulgar as that in a situation like theirs.
"Denny! How nice of you to join us," Teddy called, the pain in his throat ebbing thanks to one of Madame Florentia's potions.
“Pissoff,” Denny grumbled, sounding as if her were about to drift asleep behind the curtains surrounding his bed.
“We’ve got quite the party going on here,” Teddy mused aloud, chiefly addressing Victoire.
“That we do,” she replied absentmindedly, placing her tray of food on her bedside table. Teddy, thinking he’d rather starve than try to eat more of the food Madame Florentia brought him also moved his tray to the bedside table. “Dom’s here too,” Victoire continued as she began to flip through a copy of Witch Weekly, “though she refuses to speak or see anyone until her face returns to normal.”
Teddy chuckled as he lay back against his pillow. “Too bad most people seem too tired to be up for much,” he commented.
“Yeah, the mumblemumps do that to a person. You’ll probably be ready for a nap soon yourself.”
“Me?” Teddy yawned, “I just woke up.”
“Suit yourself, then.”
But, determined as he was to stay awake, his eyes did feel rather heavy as he sank into his pillow. He decided to shut them for just a moment and was asleep within minutes.
Days passed by in a haze of sleep and brief periods of consciousness for Teddy. When they were awake, he'd chat and play games with Victoire and Dexter. As they were not allowed to leave the hospital wing, Teddy reveled in having Victoire’s nearly undivided attention. They spent countless hours employed in conversation while the others slept. Without the distraction of class or their peers, it almost felt like the summer holidays to Teddy, those blissful few months where he got to have Victoire all to himself.
It was in these hours that Teddy learned how the mumblemumps had come to Hogwarts. Victoire explained to him that she had originally picked up the mumblemumps from a couple who had just returned from holiday in Mexico.
"Remember, Teddy," she said, "we met them at the Three Broomsticks, and they had all those funny hats they let me try on."
He remembered. How could he forget how ridiculous Victoire had looked in the wide-brimmed sombrero? Her desire to travel the world had led Victoire to introduce herself to the strangers, and she had bombarded them with an endless array of questions about Aztec temples, beaches, deserts, and Mayan ruins until their friends had showed up to collect their souvenirs. Well, apparently, the couple and most of their friends had ended up in St. Mungo’s with swollen necks, fevers, and wicked headaches. The end result of which was a rash of Hogwart's students filling the hospital wing with the same symptoms.
And, it was late one night that the mystery of Victoire’s bizarre behavior was explained. As it turned out, she hadn’t been using Teddy as a surrogate boyfriend at all, but instead had been using other boys as a surrogate him. She had treated her date with Lucas Hynes as a job interview, to see if he would be interesting enough to hang out with after Teddy left Hogwarts, once she realized that he was her only friend that was not related to her.
“Why a boy?” He asked.
“Because the girls don’t talk to me,” she explained sadly, “except for Chrys, and that’s only because she’s going out with Brian.”
“You’ll make friends, Vic,” he replied. What else could he say?
“Not one’s like you.”
Teddy turned his head away, unable to bear seeing Victoire look so sad, until there was a shift of weight in his bed. He felt Victoire’s soft arms wrap around his torso. He looked down to see her rest her face against his chest and sigh softly. Teddy saw the pattern with sudden clarity in that moment.
It all stemmed from the same truth. Victoire was going to miss him. Sometimes, it manifested itself in an almost desperate need to hang onto to him and their childhood, and, at others, she wanted to distance herself from him, hoping to make the separation easier to bear. In essence, Victoire was feeling just about as torn as he was.
Teddy sighed, too. He gave Victoire a quick squeeze before she flounced back to her own bed, and they said goodnight.
And so the days pressed on. The cousins came back to visit every once and a while, Brian stopped by to fill Dex and Teddy in on what they were missing in class. Rather than making him feel better, Brian's visit only increased Teddy's anxiety about N.E.W.T.s. Apparently, he was missing quite a lot of important test information during his convalescence, and though he had received his acceptance letter from the Auror training program earlier that week, it could still be revoked if he didn't garner the proper N.E.W.T qualifications. Brian good-heartedly promised to bring his books around for him and extras for Dexter, so that they could study while they recovered from their illnesses.
Studying, however, proved very unsuccessful for either of them. Teddy, Dexter, and Victoire spent most of their time attempting to toss Exploding Snap cards into clean bedpans at the foot of the beds. It was a fun, unpredictable game because you never knew when the cards would blow-up.
Their game was interrupted one day when Jamie Kidd stopped by to visit Victoire. And while Teddy knew that he was a just being a good teammate by visiting Victoire and bringing her notes from their shared classes, Teddy really disliked the way he pulled his chair close to her bedside. He thought it far too forward and intimate an action when Jamie began twiddling absentmindedly with a stray thread on Victoire's blanket. Never did he hate to see Victoire laugh before Jamie Kidd made her do it.
Teddy coughed and waved away the cloud of black smoke from his bed. He hadn't been paying enough attention to how he tossed his cards and the sizeable stack he'd accumulated in his bedpan had exploded. Madame Florentia stuck her head out of her office, wearing a very disapproving look that clearly warned him that one more explosion like that and there would be no more Exploding Snap for him. He scowled at her when she stuck her head back in.
Teddy felt Dexter's eyes on him, and he turned to find his friend staring at him curiously, a dangerous look when worn by him.
"What?" Teddy asked, "Do I got soot on my nose or something?"
"You don't like it." Dexter said.
"Don't like what?" Teddy asked annoyed at the cryptic statement. Though, the fact that Jamie Kidd was holding lightly on to Victoire's elbow as he escorted her to the bathroom door irked him as well.
“You don’t like that Mr. Kidd has replaced you as court jester,” Dexter replied, with a small self-satisfied sneer at his own metaphor.
Teddy sighed inwardly. Was he really so obvious in his infatuation with Victoire that nearly everybody had caught on? Even Madame Florentia had dropped a hint or two about it in the last few days.
“Isn’t it usually your job to entertain the princess?” Dexter ruthlessly pressed on.
Dexter wasn’t very fond of Victoire. Mostly because she was the only girl that had ever said no to him and then erupted into hearty laughter. Dexter wouldn’t let go of the grudge, despite Teddy’s insistence that it wasn’t Victoire’s fault that Cauldron Cakes were her favorite snack food, and, therefore, eating them made her happy enough to amp up the pheromones and make the boys around her melt into pools of jelly and declare their undying devotion to her. These were, of course, the unfortunate circumstances under which Dexter met Victoire. Ever since then, he liked to jibe Teddy over his friendship with her.
Teddy rolled his eyes in defiance, but Dexter just raised an eyebrow. He knew he was right; that's one of the things that made him annoying: he always knew when he was right. "Yeah, so what?" Teddy said, caving under the pressure and admitting to jealousy.
"Why don't you do something about it?"
"I'm planning to," he replied out of the corner of his mouth as Victoire returned to her bed. Jamie had ended his visit when Victoire had entered the loo.
There was silence for a few minutes as Victoire flipped through yet another copy of Witch Weekly, Teddy pondered his options, and Dexter continued to wait for Teddy to prove that he was actually going to do something about it.
"So..." he began like the master of eloquence that he was, "Jamie Kidd is a nice chap, isn't he?"
Victoire didn't even look up from her magazine to respond. "Yes, nice enough, but he could definitely improve as a Chaser," she said nonchalantly.
Teddy smiled for the first time since Jamie Kidd had appeared in the hospital wing and tossed a smug look Dexter's way.
"Oohhhh, Dominique," Victoire squealed. Dom's fever had broken a few days ago, but she had insisted on keeping the curtains up until this morning when she was finally satisfied that she had not sustained any permanent damage to her mug. "Look. At. These. Boots!"
Dominique lifted her head curiously as Victoire, with a flick of her wand, levitated the magazine across the room to her sister.
"They are so cute!" Dominique squealed just like Victoire. "OH! And they come in this Luscious Jade, which will look just fantastic with my hair! And Sparkling Sapphire for you, Vic!"
Teddy thought that once the women start squealing it was time to draw the curtain and take another nap. He looked over, hoping to share a aren’t-those-birds-nutters look with Dexter only to find that his friend was already feigning sleep. He scrunched down into his own pillows and shut his eyes, not really feeling tired enough for a nap. But, it did offer time for reflection.
Teddy still hadn't figured out how he was going to tell Victoire that he was in love with her. And while they had spent every waking moment in each other's company for the past five days, he felt that a crowded hospital wing wasn't quite the romantic setting he was looking for. He'd have to be on the look out for opportunities once they were allowed to return to their normal lives.
True to his word, when Teddy and Victoire were discharged by Madame Florentia the next day, he began a vigilant search for the 'right moment' to declare his feelings. But, with the rapidly approaching N.E.W.T.s and O.W.L.s there were not many opportunities to be had. He considered telling her one night in the library, after all their other study partners had given up and gone to bed and only he and she remained, necks strained from combing through dusty tomes for anything that might or might have ever been on a standardized examination. But, what kind of story would that make? And, if she took it badly this close to their tests, each of their scores might suffer for it. Teddy came to the conclusion that confessing his love was just simply going to have to wait until after their tests were over.
Days flew into weeks and months and very soon Teddy found himself biting his nails as he reviewed what he wrote on his Defense Against the Dark Arts test with the weight of several more tortuous exams to come hanging over him. But anything he dreaded always seem to come and go with a speed that defied the laws of physics, and before he knew it, Teddy found that he didn't feel nastily exhausted at all (though he considered he might the next day), and actually felt elated to be done with school. Earlier that day he'd passed the Marauder's Map onto James, figuring he would no longer be needing it, his trunk was packed, and the only thing he had left to do was tell Victoire his feelings.
It was with elation that Teddy stood back and surveyed the mayhem he created with a satisfied smirk. His graduating class was cutting loose after finishing their exams in a grand way. A few people had uncorked several bottles of champagne and were dancing gleefully in its spray. Others were sitting on tables while couples snogged on sofas and chairs. All the windows had already been broken twice as a year’s worth of confiscated Fanged Frisbees and Weasley products zoomed around. It was fantastic.
Teddy’s eyes scanned the room. Dominique was in a corner chatting up a hapless looking fourth-year boy while simultaneously sending Molly flirting advice. Molly, who was leaning up against the wall, was attempting to follow Dom’s cues while Barry Howard cleaned his glasses and talked broomsticks, oblivious to the poor girl’s attempt to catch his notice. Teddy chuckled and continued searching the common room for the one person he really wanted to see. She wasn’t the only one absent from the party, either. Teddy hadn’t seen James, Fred, and Roxy since he’d given him the map. Shoving the possible scenes of anarchy those three could have been engaging in out of his mind, he kept looking. Louis had just leapt out of the way of a spilled bottle of Butterbeer and was now heading up to the boys’ staircase with a book in hand. Lucy was perched on the bottom step of the girls’ staircase, no doubt feeling out of her element, but still there was no Victoire.
A heavy clunk and a collection of gasps brought Teddy’s attention around to a table where a couple had been dancing moments before.
“What happened?” Someone asked.
“I don’t know…he must of hit his head on the chandelier…”
No sooner had the words left her mouth than a fifth-year boy popped out from beneath the table pumping his fists into the air and shouting, “I’m all right!”
The room cheered and went back to partying. The sound of breaking glass informed Teddy that another window had broken. He turned to repair it, but met Victoire instead.
“Reparo,” she said, pointing her wand at the window. “Hi.”
Teddy smiled at her and greeted, “Hi to you, too. Where have you been?”
“Recuperating,” she shrugged and grabbed a glass of champagne as it floated by on a tray. “O.W.L.s, you know?”
Teddy laughed. “Yeah, I know.” He sipped his glass of firewhiskey wondering why their conversation seemed so awkward. Victoire was being quiet, but then again so was he with his forthcoming confession weighing on his mind.
He thought that Victoire had outdone herself in a short, silvery dress with her favorite scarf draped loosely around her neck. While she looked gorgeous, Teddy knew that Victoire only put extra effort into her appearance if she was trying to hide something, like the truth as to why she was late to the party. He frowned.
At that moment, several young wizards ran by wearing witches robes and hollering like someone had set a Blast-Ended Skrewt on them.
"Great party, Head Boy," Victoire commented, taking a small sip of her champagne as she slipped an arm around his waist.
"Thanks," he replied, wrapping his arm around her shoulder, "I guess there's a little Rio in me, after all."
"I wish you didn't have to leave."
"I hardly think they'd let me come back once they see the damage I've caused," Teddy laughed, ending abruptly when he felt Victoire squeeze him and bury her face into the side of his chest. "Hey, Vic--what's wrong?"
She didn't look up at him. She just shook her head. Teddy heard her sniffle.
"Are you crying?" He asked alarmed. "Please, don't cry, Victoire. We'll still see each other on breaks and everything; nothing is going to change." Except, that he had planned on attempting to change everything that night, but he felt it was the comforting lie that Victoire needed to hear at the moment.
"Its just that I'm going to miss not seeing you everyday," she mumbled into his shirt.
Teddy didn't have a response for that, because he was going to miss that too. "Hey," he said, feeling now was as good as time as any to try to find a little privacy, "do you want to get out of here?"
Victoire nodded, before pulling back. "Yes," she replied, wiping her tears with the heel of her palm. Still, with their arms slung around each other, Teddy and Victoire set their mostly full glasses down and left the noisy common room. They passed Brian and Chrys in the corridor as they subconsciously headed out to the grounds, and Brian flashed Teddy an encouraging smile and nod.
Victoire perked up once the two of them were alone. She released her grip on his waist to walk backwards in front of him. "You know what we need?" She asked, bouncing up and down.
"What?" Teddy replied.
"We need to do something mad! Something wild!"
"Yep; were going to break a rule or something that you've always wanted to but never did! So...Teddy 'top of his class" Lupin, Head Boy and Hogwarts graduate, what is it going to be?"
"That's not an answer," Victoire chided with her hands on her hips and one eyebrow raised impatiently.
"I'm working on it," Teddy responded, deep in thought. "Hmmm...do you mind getting wet?"
Victoire smiled mischievously at the question. "Not at all."
A/N: Predictions, predictions? Dom and Victoire's ultragirly moment brought to you by a lifetime of shopping trips with my sister! I know I threw a lot of stuff into this chapter, but I hope you enjoyed it. And, who wants to tell me what's going to happen next? What does Teddy have planned?