Chapter 2 : The Affair of Affairs
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Tightening her grip on the railing, several pieces of black paint flaking off under the weight of her palm, she stopped to lean her weight against it. “W-wait up!” Lucy said breathlessly, her lungs and side searing painfully with every stilted breath she drew in.
“Oh, stop your whinging, Luce,” came Molly’s curt response, reminding of immensely of their mother. “We’re only on the third floor!”
Lucy emitted a low groan of despair. “Third floor? It feels like I’ve just climbed Everest!”
“Merlin, you’re worse than Albus,” said her sister, descending to the landing so she could look at her sister. Placing a hand on her hip, she sent Lucy a condescending look. “Maybe if you stopped smoking those death sticks, you wouldn’t be so damn winded!”
Lucy rolled her eyes. “Don’t even start with that.”
“Then hurry your arse up!” Molly said imperiously. “We don’t have all day.” Turning abruptly on her heel, she marched up the stairs, her determined footsteps echoing through the enclosed stairwell.
Releasing the railing, she passed a hand over her face and started up the stairs, though her pace was much slower than her sister’s was. Though she wouldn’t admit it aloud, Molly did have a point - if she didn’t smoke so much, she wouldn’t be so out of shape. Or at least run out of breath so quickly. Grumbling, Lucy trudged up the stairs, knowing that it was not just the stitch in her side that made her so reluctant to reach the top of the stairs.
By the time she joined her sister, Molly was leaning against the wall, picking at her cuticles with a look of distinct disinterest. When Lucy expelled a particularly loud sigh, Molly looked up. “Oh. Finally made it up, did you?”
Ever the mature one, Lucy stuck her tongue out.
It was Molly’s turn to roll her eyes. “It’s amazing that you can survive on your own.”
“It’s a daily struggle,” Lucy consented with a nonchalant shrug of her shoulders. Reaching up to tuck a loose strand of hair behind her ear, she avoided the weight of her sister’s stare, knowing what the next words out of the other’s mouth would be before she even spoke them.
“So,” Molly started, slipping her hands into the pockets of her jeans, “are we going to stand out here or are you going to knock?”
“I don’t see why I have to be the one to knock,” Lucy replied tersely. At Molly’s questioning look, she added, “You’re the one who insisted we come here.”
“So we can get to the bottom of this!” Molly exclaimed.
“There’s nothing to get to the bottom of,” protested Lucy. “I stabbed Victoire in the back by sleeping with her boyfriend. End of story, kill me now.”
“Stop with the melodrama, will you?” Molly locked eyes with her younger sister and sighed. “Look, I know you think that you betrayed our cousin and shagged Teddy, but I happen to have a higher opinion of you.” She smiled an encouraging smile. “You might not be the most rational drunk, but I know you’d never do that to Victoire.”
With those words, a wave of relief washed over Lucy. If her sister had so much faith in her, maybe she didn’t sleep with him. Maybe this whole thing was just a misunderstanding; maybe Teddy wanted to get together to watch a football match as Victoire detested any sport that wasn’t Quidditch. Maybe that’s why he wrote the reminder on the back of her hand.
“At least,” Molly added as an afterthought, a tiny furrow appearing between her brows, “you wouldn’t do it intentionally.”
Guilt crashed down around her and Lucy sent Molly a sour look. “Thanks,” she spat sarcastically.
Throwing her a patronising smile, Molly pushed Lucy towards the door. She could barely contain her whine as she looked pleadingly at her older sister, who ignored her stare. Inwardly accepting her fate, Lucy raised her fist and knocked on the door as softly as she possibly could.
When no one answered immediately, she whirled around to face her sister. “Well, looks like no one’s home. Maybe we can come back later!” She made a mad dash towards the stairs, but Molly caught her arm and dragged her back into place.
“Oh no you don’t,” Molly said, tightening her grip on Lucy’s arm. She felt like a naughty child, being dragged about by her reprimanding mother for behaving badly. “That was hardly a knock. Do it again.”
“No!” Lucy said, wrestling her arm out of Molly’s grasp. Rubbing the tender spot, she continued, “If you want to get this sorted out so badly, why don’t you knock on the bloody door?”
“But Luce, you have to -”
“I don’t have to do anything,” Lucy protested. “Have you even considered how I feel about this whole thing?”
“Right,” Molly snorted, “because your feelings are the one I’m most concerned about.” At Lucy’s questioning look, she tacked on, “If any of this turns out to be true - I do mean any of it, even if you just kissed him - the very last person who deserves sympathy is you.”
Though the words scalded, Lucy knew them to be true. If she had hooked up with Teddy in any way, shape, or form, she was the last person on the face of the planet who deserved to shed tears. Sure, she would mope and pout inwardly and probably consider moving to Siberia before realising that it’d be much too cold to tolerate, but she wouldn’t cry.
Releasing a heavy sigh, Molly placed a hand on Lucy’s shoulder and gave it a reassuring squeeze. “I’m sure you didn’t do anything of consequence, Luce,” she said softly, “but if you want to relieve yourself of the guilt, this is the only way to do it. You know that. I know you do.”
Lucy knew her sister was right - she usually was, but she’d never admit that aloud. The only problem was that she wasn’t sure if she live with herself for hurting Victoire, the person who cared for her most in this world aside from her own parents. The mere thought turned her stomach, made the bile rise in the back of her throat, burning painfully.
“Okay,” she breathed quietly, shrugging her shoulder to drop the weight of her sister’s hand. “I’ll do it.”
“Good girl,” said Molly. “I’ll be right here if you need me.”
Smiling tightly, Lucy took a slow, deep breath and knocked on the door again, this time audibly. She realised too late that it was very stupid to take such a deep breath, for it caught in her throat during the tension moments of silence as she waited for someone to answer the door. When she heard the faint sound of footsteps on the other side of the door, her eyes widened and she took a step backwards, colliding with Molly, who instinctively wrapped both hands around either of her arms, making escape an impossibility.
Damn her, Lucy thought brutishly, her anticipation climbing to indescribable peaks as the grating of the lock reached her ears. The hairs on the back of her neck stood at attention.
The door opened, revealing a smiling, albeit confusedly, Victoire. Her long strawberry blonde hair was pulled back into two braids, which were draped over either of her shoulders, and her impossibly blue eyes twinkled merrily at the sight of her two favourite cousins.
“Lucy! Molly!” she greeted enthusiastically, throwing the door open and beckoning them inside. “What are you doing here? I thought you’d be in bed with hangovers.”
While Lucy blanched, Molly frogmarched her into the flat, which was quite spacious with its vaulted ceilings and cream coloured walls. Whatever it was that Teddy did in the Department of Mysteries, he was extremely successful.
“We just thought we’d pop in for a visit,” Molly answered smoothly, releasing Lucy from her vice-like grip to sit on the plush leather couch. “This isn’t a bad time, is it?”
“Of course not!” Victoire dismissed with a wave of her hand. “You should know by now that you’re always welcomed here.” She flashed them a dazzling smile, which fell marginally when she caught the sickly expression on Lucy’s face. “Are you all right, Luce?”
Swallowing the lump in her throat, Lucy nodded faintly. “Yeah,” she whispered, feeling the dagger of betrayal inching further into her heart as the knot of guilt twisted further. “I’m okay.”
Victoire didn’t look convinced, but she let it slid, resuming her welcoming hostess persona with scarily efficient deftness. “Can I get you something to drink? I’ve just made some tea, if you’re interested, but I can make coffee if that’s what you’d prefer.”
Molly, who was one of those weird people able to feel comfortable in any situation, sat back in the couch, emitting a small sigh as the cushions conformed around her. “I’ll take some tea, thanks.”
Again, Victoire smiled before turning her brilliant azure gaze upon Lucy. “Would you like anything, Lulu?” she asked, adopting the pet name she’d bestowed upon the younger Weasley when they were children.
Lucy winced at the affection lacing her cousin’s voice and shook her head. “No,” she said, “I’m okay.”
“Are you sure? You don’t look okay to me. In fact, I daresay you look a bit peaky.”
The jabbing in her chest grew more intense. “I’m positive, Vic,” Lucy assured her, though she knew her voice wasn’t nearly as convincing as it could have been. She tacked on a smile, but even that felt half-hearted.
Casting her a doubtful look, Victoire forced yet another smile in return before dashing out of the room, promising to return in a flash. Lucy hoped she wouldn’t. She hoped the kitchen would become engulfed in flames so she could play the hero and save her cousin’s life. Victoire couldn’t hate her after Lucy had saved her life. It just wasn’t ethical.
As she fidgeted with her hands, Lucy let her gaze wander over towards the door, which wasn’t very far away. She might not have been in the greatest shape, but even she could make the distance before Molly knew what was happening. Her sister was perceptive, but she didn’t know Lucy as well as she thought she did.
“Don’t even think about it,” Molly stated lamely.
Or maybe she did.
Her shoulders sagging, Lucy turned her eyes to her sister, piercing her with a beseeching look. “Please, Molls,” she begged, injecting as pathetic a note as possible in her voice, “I can’t do this. I’m not brave enough. I can’t tell Victoire!”
“Tell me what?”
This wasn’t happening.
Lucy tilted her head upwards, glaring at the vaulted ceiling, wondering what she had ever done to piss God off so thoroughly. You know, aside from (potentially) sleeping with her cousin’s boyfriend.
She licked her lips, subconsciously picking at her cuticles as she stared at Victoire, whose expression was one of utmost puzzlement.
How could she put this without completely crushing the woman or sending her into a Veela-induced rage? Lucy swallowed nervously. This wasn’t going to be easy. Not by a long shot.
With an encouraging nudge of Molly’s foot, Lucy prepared herself for speech, but the words were never allowed to come forth as Teddy decided to make his appearance. Shuffling down the hallway, scratching the back of his neck as he fought off a yawn, was the blue-haired man himself. He was shirtless, but still wearing his jeans. A cold sweat broke out over Lucy’s forehead and she folded her arms over her middle, trying to hide the blue tee shirt that belonged to Teddy.
Why else would he be dressed as such if she wasn’t wearing his shirt? Obviously he had stumbled into the flat last night after shamelessly hooking up with Lucy, not bothering to remove his jeans as he collapsed in an exhausted heap next to his beloved. It would certainly explain why he was just now waking up, too.
The weight of the guilt was impossible to bear any longer, especially when Victoire was gazing so fondly at her boyfriend of nearly seven years. Before she could help herself, the words were coming up and out of her throat in a gruesome spew of word vomit.
“I slept with Teddy!” Lucy shouted suddenly, catching everyone in the room off-guard.
Molly slapped a hand to her mouth, obviously not expecting her sister to come out with it so abruptly. She appeared to be on the verge of laugher and absolute horror.
Victoire dropped the tea tray she had been holding. The clattering of the metal against the floor resounded through the flat. Instantly, tears sprang to Victoire’s already sparkling eyes and her face contorted into one of utmost disbelief tinged with deep hurt.
“What?!” Teddy cried out, his eyes widening to roughly the size of saucers.
Momentarily pushing her shock away, Lucy rounded on him immediately, pinning him with a fierce stare. If she was doing this, she might as well do it right. “Don’t even deny it, Ted!”
“Deny it?” Victoire piped up, shaken out of her blank state by the sound of Lucy’s voice. Her tone was dangerously low and if the wicked gleam in her eyes was anything to go by, she was minutes, possibly even seconds, away from exploding into the terrifying birdlike creature that countered her upstanding beauty. Lucy shuddered at the thought.
“Teddy,” demanded the blonde, “what is she talking about?”
The man in question sputtered wordlessly, the tips of his obnoxiously blue hair turning a ostentatiously bright red.
This did nothing to help his case, as Victoire was a firm believer in signs. And boy, was this an indicator of guilt if she had ever seen one. “Did you actually shag her?!”
“It’s pointless to lie to her!” Lucy interjected before Teddy could get another word out.
“Lie to her?” Teddy managed to get out. He blinked rapidly as though this entire thing was just an illusion or else the result of overdosing on too much Cough Solution. It would certainly explain the smug look on Molly’s face; why she would find humour in this situation was beyond him. “I’m not bloody lying to her - we didn’t do anything!”
“Teddy,” Victoire growled furiously.
“I swear on my parents’ graves, Vic, I didn’t shag her!” Teddy exclaimed, holding his hands up as he threw a helpless look in Lucy’s direction. “I have no idea what the fuck she’s talking about!”
Her temper flaring at his outright lie, Lucy countered, “Of course you do! We shagged last night! It’s the only way to explain this -” she plucked at the collar of the blue tee shirt “and this!” She held up her hand, putting the messy scrawl on display.
Before Teddy could do it, Victoire stepped forwards and grabbed Lucy’s hand roughly, twisting her arm and inspecting it intently. Lucy’s eyes watered at the tightness of her cousin’s grip. Merlin above, was the woman trying to break her hand?
Victoire made a sound of disgust as she dropped Lucy’s hand, stepping away from her as though she was a leper. She scrubbed her beautiful face furiously as she leaned against the arm of the couch, trying to get a grip on herself.
Seizing the opportunity, Teddy took Lucy’s hand within his grasp, narrowing his eyes at the writing.
“This isn’t my handwriting,” he said after an instant.
Teddy looked at the three dubious women with a hopeful expression. “It’s not my handwriting,” he repeated, his voice climbing as relief flooded through his body. The red faded from his hair. “And that’s not our number, Vic.”
“Of course it is!” Lucy said, flipping her hand so she could look at it. “Why else would it be signed…” she trailed off as realisation dawned on her.
She’d called their flat over a hundred times in the past; she knew the number better than she knew her own. So even if she had hooked up with Teddy, why would he bother writing his telephone number on the back of her hand when she already had it? He would have simply signed it with his name and probably one of those stupid winking faces he favoured so much.
A shaky laugh of relief escaped her.
She hadn’t slept with Teddy. She hadn’t ruined her relationship with Victoire. Everything was going to be all right.
Victoire, however, wasn’t convinced. “What about the shirt?” she questioned, her face still dark with rage.
“What about it?” Teddy repeated with a shrug.
“You have a shirt exactly like that!” Victoire exclaimed, grabbing a handful of Lucy’s collar and dragging her over towards her boyfriend. She tried not to gag at the tightness around her throat, knowing that Victoire would only increase her grip, and stumbled over her own feet.
Victoire released her abruptly, and Lucy coughed into her fist, rubbing the sides of her throat.
“So does every other bloke in the world,” Teddy argued. He stepped closer to her, cupping her face in his hands. She tried to pull away, but he held firm, staring deep into her crystalline eyes. His thumb stroked the length of her fine cheekbone as he spoke. “I love you, Vic. You. You don’t think I’d sleep with the likes of Lucy, do you?”
“Hey!” Lucy cried out indignantly. “I’m standing right here!”
A swift kick to her shin via Molly silenced her.
Victoire ignored the outburst whilst Molly struggled to maintain her laughter at Lucy’s silent fuming. “No,” the beautiful blonde admitted, her cheeks colouring under the pressure of his hands. “I don’t.” Her arms snaked around his waist and she drew herself up onto her tiptoes, kissing him softly.
From her position on the couch, Molly cooed at the display. Lucy fought the urge to gag, finding their need to devour each other’s faces with two other people in the room utterly disgusting. But, apparently, not anywhere near as disgusting as Teddy seemed to find Lucy. Just what had she ever done to him in the past to make the idea of sleeping with her so repulsive? It was suffice to say that her ego, which wasn’t very strong to begin with, was effectively bruised.
Sick of having to witness the two lovebirds playing tonsil hockey with one another, Lucy cleared her throat loudly, folding her arms over her chest as she did. “Um, excuse me,” she said when they showed no signs of stopping. “Didn’t anyone ever tell you it’s rude to snog in front of guests?”
Molly slapped her on the arm with the back of her hand, several of her rings digging into Lucy’s skin. “Shut up,” she ordered, “it’s your fault they’re like this. So deal with it.”
Lucy made a face. “You can’t honestly tell me this doesn’t disgust you in the slightest?”
The other merely shrugged. “No, not really,” she answered, “but after living with Victoire for three years and witnessing this nearly every morning, I got used to it.”
“Still, you can’t think it’s cute, can you? I mean, they’re exchanging salvia, not to mention Merlin only knows how many germs and bacteria,” Lucy pointed out, trying to distract herself from the spectacle.
Molly rolled her eyes in exasperation. “It’s no wonder you can’t keep a boyfriend,” she muttered under her breath.
Having heard the comment, Lucy dug her elbow into her sister’s side, earning herself a wallop on the back of the head. She retaliated by stomping on Molly’s toes, which were exposed by the opening of her heels. The girl’s yelp was so loud, it effectively burst whatever dream bubble Victoire and Teddy had been happily snogging in, alerting them to the fact they still had guests.
Victoire flushed a deep crimson whereas Teddy let his arm linger around his girlfriend’s waist, keeping her close-by. The smugness on his face was unbearable.
“Sorry about that,” Victoire muttered in apology, wiping the corner of her mouth with the pad of her thumb. “It’s just -”
“We understand,” Molly interjected, sparing Victoire the humiliation of having to explain herself.
Inwardly, Lucy wished she wouldn’t have, mostly because she herself was extremely embarrassed by her behaviour. However, when the blonde turned her gaze in her direction, Lucy forced a pleasant smile. The grin she received in return was blinding, to say the very least. At least she didn’t feel guilty anymore - except for almost breaking up her cousin’s relationship.
“So, I think I have every right to say this,” Teddy started, pinning Lucy with a sharply pointed look, “but why the fuck would you accuse me of sleeping with you?”
Lucy bristled under the intensity of his stare, once again folding her arms over her chest, though this time it was more of a defence mechanism than anything else. “I don’t know. Probably because I had had too much to drink and we spent half of the night dancing together.”
“Half the night dancing?” he repeated incredulously, his eyebrows rising simultaneously as he eyed her sceptically. “That’s impossible.” Before she could interject, he said with a considerable amount of force, “I wasn’t there last night.”
Her face went slack and any argument she had built up deflated instantly. “You weren’t?”
“No,” he negated with a shake of his head. “I hate night clubs; you know that.”
“Ha!” Molly exclaimed, her face as smug as Lucy had ever seen it. “I told you he wasn’t there!”
Instead of treating her to a response, Lucy lifted a hand and flipped her sister the bird. Victoire sniggered into Teddy’s bare shoulder and Teddy beamed. Twisting out of his grasp, Victoire danced her way towards the kitchen, “I’ll make more coffee!”
“Okay, love,” he called after her unnecessarily.
Molly cooed again before falling into pleasant conversation with Teddy.
However, as the realisation of Teddy’s words settled upon her shoulders, the colour drained from Lucy’s face, a wave of nausea washing over her. “Wait a minute,” she said, aware of her vaguely ominous tone. Wetting her lips with a nervous swipe of her tongue, she took a moment to stare at her sister before looking at Teddy. “If it wasn’t you at the club…then who was it?”
A/N: And so the plot thickens! If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, drop me a review and hopefully I’ll be able to get to the bottom of it! Cheers!
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