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Chapter 32 : 32. Victoire
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Lying half asleep in the early morning light, a smile tickled my lips. My eyelids were heavy and it took me a fair few tries to open them. Beside me, his arm resting against my waist, Teddy slept deeply, his breathing even and relaxed. He hadn’t slept so deeply in a long time, and as I slowly poked my legs out of the bed I doubted I would wake him. True to my expectations, he didn’t stir as I slid the covers off me and gently got up.
As the cool March air hit my bare skin I shivered, quickly finding a shirt to pull on to protect myself from the chill. Checking again that Teddy was asleep, I began rooting about in the pile of clothes we had hastily discarded the night before. I briefly closed my eyes again, half—heartedly wishing I could be neater. Or even if I couldn’t be completely tidy and neat, I could at least be less catastrophically disorderly. It was such a pain to have to rifle through everything at least twice before I found what I was looking for. It was ten times harder with a sleeping Teddy behind me; I didn’t want to wake him.
“What are you looking for?” Teddy muttered sleepily, his voice scratchy. Damn, I’d woken him anyway, no matter how quiet I had tried to be.
“Oh, it’s nothing,” I grumbled, admitting defeat and returning to bed. I didn’t really want to admit to him that I’d been searching for my lipstick; it was supposed to be a habit I’d kicked and I didn’t want him to get the wrong impression.
Teddy lifted the cover of the duvet while I slid in beside him, his skin soft against my calf. He hooked his arm around my shoulder and I leant against him, my eyes closing again and a smile forming once again.
“Sorry I woke you,” I mumbled into his chest. He chuckled weakly, stroking my hair softly and banishing my apology. With my ear pressed against his chest, I could hear every gentle beat of his heart. I held my breath so I could hear it more clearly, finding some sort of safety in the rhythm. Every time I heard his heart thud against his chest I knew it wouldn’t be the last, that one would come again in a matter of seconds. It was tempting to just lie there all day listening to it, hearing his heart respond to me. I trusted that his heart would rhythmically beat just like I trusted Teddy himself; it was hard to explain, I just knew I could count on him to always be there.
Lying in the darkness, I smiled at the irony. I’d never wanted to love him, yet here we were, tangled up in a string of events that I would never have predicted and now wouldn’t change for the world. I was no longer the naïve girl who begged Teddy not to love her, and it was hard to imagine now why I ever resisted. I’d always been stubborn, and only Teddy had been able to break that habit. Were you supposed to change for the person you loved? My grandmother had always told me to be myself, but I barely knew who I was without him. Separately we didn’t make sense; there was no me without him. Growing up together had ensured that we knew each other better than we knew ourselves, so perhaps the change in me was just part of growing up. The fact that I could happily lie here with him without thought to the consequences proved it; I was happy. Even without my lipstick on.
I’d stopped trying to second-guess what would happen next; so, I’d fallen in love with Teddy, even if I’d ever not been in love with him. I didn’t care what happened now, what my family thought or even what I thought. I was no longer embarrassed by the way things had changed between us because now it seemed the most natural thing in the world. Going back now was impossible; it was only forwards from here. With him, I was fine just letting fate decide where we went. Worrying had never got me anywhere and I knew that now.
The sun was beginning to rise above the streets and I watched it through the open window. Long shadows fell on the cobblestones, distorted, uneven and undisturbed by the nearby residents. Most people were no doubt still sleeping, their thoughts and dreams intact. Perhaps you didn’t have to be asleep for dreams to remain whole, I mused. Life was far too good for me at the moment to be reality, yet when I woke up the dreams didn’t end. I hoped that one day Teddy would feel the same. He wouldn’t wake up and see life as a nightmare, but full of the future we’d have together. Each day we were getting closer, and hopefully with my help he’d accept his condition, one day. I got the impression it was gradually becoming easier.
Realising that Teddy had drifted back to sleep again, I observed his sleeping face. His hair, tangled and messy, fell slightly over one damaged eye; his lips were slightly parted and turned up at the corners. I hoped his dreams were happy, because sleep was the one place he could find an escape from it all, even if I wanted him to be that relaxed when he was awake too. Maybe he was. I stroked the line of his jaw softly, my hand eventually cupping his cheek as I kissed his forehead. Then I carefully slid out of bed in order to resume my search for my lipstick.
I eventually found it, tucked inside Teddy’s coat pocket, where it had been hidden from me at Christmas. Although it was a present, I had no reservations about what I was about to do. Holding it tightly in my hand, the curved plastic pressing into my palm, I snuck out of the room into the kitchen. Lifting the lid of the bin, I dropped the tube into it. Originally I had wanted to charm it away, but seeing as I couldn’t find my wand that didn’t seem likely to happen. I stared at my empty hand, confused by what I’d done. I never threw anything away, let alone presents… Even though it felt mildly wrong, I felt much better. I didn’t need my lipstick anymore. I had Teddy.
Shaking my head, I grinned. It was so refreshing to push my own boundaries, even if they were pathetic by anyone else’s standards. Twirling the hem of Teddy’s shirt, I wandered into the bathroom. I emptied my make-up bag onto the tiles, no longer thinking about the sleeping Teddy. One by one, I picked up the five tubes of lipstick and banished them all into the depths of the bin. I found it slightly ridiculous that I’d relied on red lips to find confidence; the colour was irrelevant now.
Standing half-naked against the kitchen counter, I felt so relieved. I had nothing to hide behind now, and perhaps this was what my grandmother meant by “be yourself”. I had thought the lipstick was part of me for so long, but really I was just using it to make up for the fact that I didn’t know who I was.
“Have you finished making so much noise, now?” Teddy muttered from the doorway. I tried not to laugh when I saw he hadn’t bothered to dress himself; maybe he’d forgotten that my eyesight was most certainly not impaired. Biting back the laugh, I approached him where he was leaning against the doorframe, his head tilted in my direction.
“I was just tidying,” I said, the grin escaping my lips.
“Yeah, right,” he said lightly, the tone of his voice clearly indicating that he didn’t believe me. “You never tidy; you’re one of the messiest people I’ve ever known.”
“Actually, I was throwing away my lipsticks.” My hand found his waist, and I stood on tiptoes to kiss him. “I didn’t think I needed them anymore.”
His pulled his head away from me slightly, his eyebrows raised. “You threw them away?”
“Yep,” I said, smiling at the incredulous look on his face. “If I’m honest, I don’t know why I depended on them for so long.”
Without him realising it, he was grinning. “You’re bizarre, do you know that?”
“Yes,” I said, mimicking his grin. “But that’s why you love me.”
He stood back, his back against the wall. Teddy shook his head. “No,” he said softly. “That’s not why I love you.”
“Oh.” I stared at him, confused. He had a pensive look on his face.
“I love you because you’re beautiful,” he mumbled, his head down and cheeks rouging. “You’re so beautiful and you don’t realise it in the slightest.”
“I’m not,” I muttered quietly. Now my own cheeks were flaming. I was about to say more when Teddy interrupted me.
“You’re beautiful to me and I don’t care that I’ll never see you again because love is blind. I don’t have to be able to see you to know that I love you.” He was no longer mumbling, his voice becoming stronger as he reached for my shoulders. He held me close to him, my head once again on his chest. His heartbeat was much stronger this time. “And it’s not just that, it’s you; you’re so funny and clever and completely daft, but you’ve always been like that. I love you because you’re Victoire Weasley, my best friend who brought colour into my life when I was two years old. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
I blushed so deeply that I thought my head my explode from the heat. Words failed me, my heart swelling so large that it almost obstructed my windpipes. With the biggest smile on my face, I held his face in my hands and kissed him. He wrapped his arms around my waist and it was almost like it had been months ago; a new-found desire fuelling a kiss that shouldn’t have happened. But it did, and I couldn’t have been more thankful for that. Pressing against him, our heartbeats thudded together, closer than ever before.
I sighed, breaking our embrace and gazing at him as the sun turned his hair gold. “You silly old thing,” I breathed. “You’ve been blind all along. I don’t know how I didn’t see it.”
“You never wanted to,” he said earnestly. “You didn’t know where to look.”
“You’re right, of course,” I said, tucking a stray strand of hair out of my face. Teddy had always been right, about everything. “You know me far too well.”
Eyes observing his smile, I wondered how I’d got it wrong for so long and how I’d ever settled for ‘just friends’. I must have ignored every instinct in my body. Sighing happily, I gave him one final kiss before pulling away from him. I made for the kettle, but Teddy took my hand and tugged me back to him.
“What are your plans for today?” He asked, stroking my hand with his thumbs.
“Nothing,” I said after a pause. “Why?”
Wrapping my arms around his waist, he smiled down at me. “How about a first date?”
I laughed, hugging him to me. “I’d like that,” I said, closing my eyes and smiling widely, lips free of their usual barrier. We were down to the bare essentials, entwined in the middle of my kitchen and I didn’t want the moment to end. How strange it was, how far we’d come together in such a short amount of time, but yet we still hadn’t begun. I grinned into his chest. “I’d like that a lot.”
The sun peeked its above the window frame, sunlight dazzling me. I shielded my eyes with one hand, whilst Teddy used the other to pull me slowly towards the bedroom. With one final tug, I spun into his arms. A truly contented smile lit up his face as he cleared his throat. At that moment, neither of us wanted to be anywhere else, frozen together as we spiralled back to the start again. Wiping the slate clean, we returned to the beginning, before it was complicated and confusing. Together, we reached the starting line and, for once, I didn’t care where we ended up. Love was about the moments in between.
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