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For Keeps by tydemans
Chapter 5 : Where Do You Sweep Things If You Haven't Got a Rug?
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 5


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Vic,

I’m sorry sweetie, but you need to find a way to deal with it. You can …

1 Actually talk to him.
or

2 Wait and let it explode out of you at some completely inappropriate moment – maybe accompanied by feathers.

You know which option I advise. I feel bad this is so short. Training is really kicking my arse. Hopefully, things lighten up in the next few weeks.

By the way, don’t think I didn’t notice the stunning lack of Bimas updates in your letter.

Abraços, (Hugs)
Sara

P.S. How did Grant look?
Sara,

Talk to him? How do you talk to someone you never see or hear from. It’s not like I’m hard to find. Shop – Boat – Home. I’ve seen more of his friend Owen then him. Teddy was supposed to help trace this wand's ancestry with us, but apparently he's content on a very short leash.

There are no BIMAS updates. The final deadline for first choice has passed. Mum is unwavering in her optimism. I can tell she is personally invested because the pep talks are coming out in her own little language. Louis calls it Frenglish.

Found out today McGonagall wrote to BIMAS Head of Transfiguration about our sessions. You know, just to suggest they place me out of the entry-level in favor of more advanced topics. Oh, the irony, right? Placing out of a class in the school I haven’t been accepted to in the first place! You should've heard her tutting when I broke the news.

I feel bad. I know she took me on as project because she adores my father, but still, she did invest a lot of effort in control rehab (yeah, she still hates when I call it that). I think she assumed I'd put the sessions to better use, like going on and doing something in transfiguration, while I’m quite content leaving it at not spontaneously combusting into feathers at every emotion.

Off to work!

Love, V

P.S. Grant looked awful. Go find yourself a Brazilian bloke.
Vic,

Great news! I’m assisting in a procedure this week. Of course that’s in addition to my regular duties, but its hands on and I was handpicked for it.

Who needs sleep?

McGonagall’s finally back, then. Did you find out what prompted the sudden trip?

Beijos, (Kisses)
Sara

P.S. You lie –Grant could never look bad. But there is this one bloke…
Sara,

Congratulations!!! No idea what a procedure is, but don't worry, you'll be brilliant, even if you have to do it asleep (you've always been good at multi-tasking).

I had an interview with McGonagall’s crony –an old student of hers. Very convenient I would get her for my evaluation. She even mentioned department heads don’t generally do them. I suspect dear Minerva wrote another letter.

Her sudden trip was to a funeral in the States for some old Order friend. Must be tough having all your friends getting up there.

Bloke, you say? More, please.

Love,
V
Sara!!!!!!!!

Good news – I’m in.

Bad news – I might be homeless.

No Muggle Immersion House, that is. There's no place for me in any of the qualified houses, yet I’m required to be in one this year unless I can dig up a non-magical relative in my household to assert I have prior knowledge of living like they do.

I have no such relatives. I’m throwing myself on the mercy of student affairs tomorrow.

It’s me, by the way,
V – Victoire - BIMAS student


“Shouldn’t we be going to Student Affairs? I’m not sure what the Facilities Superintendent is going to be able to do…” Victoire hesitated before walking out of the thicket of trees near the Bimas campus.

“We aren’t seeing the Superintendent, we're visiting his secretary,” Micah corrected, striding toward a gated stone archway that served as the perimeter of a wildlife refuge. Their conversation ceased while they queued up for the turnstile gate marking passage into the park. They stepped out of the turnstile onto the academic campus.

Now free of the park visitors, Victoire continued their conversation where they left off, “Why?”

Micah tossed her head back over her shoulder and winked. “Because secretaries rule the world, and I already know this one pretty well.”

“That’s not an answer,” Victoire pointed out, unable to keep the faint note of tetchiness from her voice.  She knew it was uncalled for, but she hated feeling like somebody’s project.  To be fair, Micah had asked Victoire to show her Diagon Alley and only instigated this detour after Victoire confessed her current predicament with housing at school.  Micah, thrilled to hear Victoire was going to be starting Bimas with her, extended the offer to help based on her own experience in getting her schedule and housing situated.

“Of course it is.”

Victoire pulled her sunglasses down and peered at Micah over their rims.

Micah sighed.  “She helped me smooth over some glitches in my transfer in a fraction of the time it would've taken to go through recommended channels.”

“Why don’t you give me your spot?” Victoire suggested with a wide grin.  “You work with muggles, surely you qualify for a program exception.”

“No, my family is completely magical.  It’s not like I can go to my employer, fess up that I’m differently abled, and politely request a note for the elf in admissions.”  Micah opened the thick mahogany door and motioned Victoire inside before she continued in a hushed tone, “Not to mention, immersion houses are subsidized.  The rent is a fraction of what you pay for an apart- sorry - flat in this area.  More importantly, they encourage dogs as an enhancement to the muggle experience.  Do you know how few places accept dogs?”  She stopped in front of a pair of double glass doors. “Here we are. Let me do the talking.”

Victoire hung back as Micah greeted a middle aged witch whose hair was a riot of ringlets and whose robes were far too tight to be comfortable. They chatted for a short while before Micah steered the conversation to the subject of housing, casually mentioning Victoire’s predicament. “She's on her way to Student Affairs to see what they can do,” Micah finished with a sympathetic look at Victoire.

“Oh, no, no, no,” the woman responded with a vigorous shake of her head, propelling the tight ringlets into motion. “You’ll waste your day there. They can’t help you this year, we have a larger than normal pool of immersion students. We use the house you‘re in as a last resort. The demand has been unprecedented.”

“That’s why I suggested stopping here first. I was hoping you could help us get in touch with Andy from my house. I‘m sure he mentioned a room he was trying to get into the program, but it was not yet approved…?”

The woman frowned.  “It’s an attic room; it’s not quite up to standard size requirements.”

“Andy doesn’t seem like someone who would offer a room that was going to be unworkable…” Micah encouraged.

“Such a charming boy.  So good with his hands.” The older woman seemed to drift off for a second before she turned to the file cabinet beside her desk and summoned some paperwork.  “It’s a shame that he is,” she lowered her voice and looked around before continuing, “…you know.”

Victoire didn’t know, and Micah let the comment pass without reply or expression.

“Here, dear. If you want the room, sign this lease and we'll match the paperwork in due time.” She handed Victoire a parchment.

As Victoire scanned the document, she could feel the older woman’s eyes on her.  She was about to thank her for the help when the woman spoke again, “I should tell you, a standard wardrobe won‘t fit in this room and the house wards prevent spells being cast within them, so there'll be no way to expand one.”

Victoire managed a smile, although she could feel the tightness of her lips as she did. She glanced down at her fitted French robes.  The only reason she wore them today was she often changed at the boat after work and habitually failed to bring her regular robes home for laundering.

“I don’t require a lot of room. I’m sure it'll be fine.” She grabbed a quill off the woman’s desk, signed the parchment, and handed it back. “Thank you for the help.”

“Of course, dear.”  The woman accepted the paper and conjured Victoire her copy.  “You should be hearing from Andy about the arrangements.”

They bid the woman goodbye and not another word was spoken between the girls until they had exited the building.

Micah chuckled once they were outside. “Old biddy.  But, helpful.”

“Is it really going to be ok?  Seems kind of dodgy what we did.”  Victoire looked from the copy of the paper in her hand to the building.  She half expected someone to come out and call them back inside. “How'd you find her?”

“She had the look,” Micah replied.

Victoire threw her a sidelong glance. “More, please.”

Micah laughed and slid her features seamlessly into a fair imitation of the older woman’s demeanor right down to the air of importance she projected.  “The I-run-this-place-but-get-no-credit-for-it look,” she stated as if she'd read the term in Witch Weekly rather than made it up on the spot.  “Good people to know. They usually can be counted on to make things happen because they feel powerful when they do.”

“And Andy?”

“Ha, I’m not going to comment on his hands, other than to say he manages the houses and does a lot of the carpentry and repairs himself.  Don’t worry,” Micah assured as they approached the turnstile that would take them back to the gates of the reserve, “if he says the room is livable, I’m sure it is.”

Victoire marveled at the breadth of Micah’s acquaintances, considering she'd only moved to England at the beginning of the summer.  “How well do you know him?”

“I met him two weeks ago when I asked to see the house.  I wasn’t going to sign a lease until I knew what I was getting myself into.”

Victoire looked at the parchment still clutched in her hand.

“So,” Micah said as the reached the Apparition point.  “I need to find Gringotts first. All I have is muggle money.”

Micah carried a large amount of money with her.  Victoire was surprised when she declined the offer to open an account.  Victoire had three at Gringotts: one fore savings, one for spending, and one for boat expenses.  Her father set them up for her, and as a result, she never even thought about handling money.  She was paid directly to the accounts, and they sorted themselves out without her intervention.

The amount of cash Micah carried turned out to be necessary.  She needed everything, a new wand included.  Victoire marveled at how decisively she worked her way through the stores finding what she wanted.  No debate, no second guessing.  In a surprisingly short amount of time, Micah spent her last few knuts treating them both to ice cream before they headed back to the docks with some of the afternoon still ahead of them.

Micah left to catch an afternoon charter, citing the need to replace the stash she'd dropped in Diagon Alley.  Victoire headed back to the boat and relieved the house elf, hired to watch the ever present gang of kids enjoying the boat’s amenities for the summer.  Victoire gladly sank into a chair on the swim deck and supervised from that spot the remainder of the afternoon.

Later that evening, Bill planned to grill on the deck of the boat for the first time.  Everyone was ridiculously excited for it. It wasn’t that Fleur was a bad cook, more that she was rather limited in scope of what she would cook.  And, she never seemed to cook enough food.  Ginny had even taken to sending a dish along with her kids when they visited for any length of time.  As a ‘thank you’, she was always quick to explain.

When her parents arrived and the preparations began, Victoire walked out to invite Micah to dinner. She caught sight of Harry approaching from the other direction. To her surprise, he veered off toward Micah as well. She reached them as Micah informed Harry it was too late to head out fishing that evening.

“I’m not here to fish,” he replied looking at Diogy and back to Micah, “at least not today.”

Micah’s usually amicable smile widened suddenly with recognition.  “Are you Albus’ dad?”

“Yes-” Harry admitted.

“I should have seen that right off.  You favor him.”

“I favor him?” Harry repeated.

Micah nodded.  “The eyes - dead giveaway.”  Micah hoisted her tackle box over her shoulder and grabbed her fishing rods.  “You have a great kid there.  Quite an angler. He even cleans his own fish.”  Micah caught sight of Victoire then and addressed her, “Am I right? The other kids like to come out early to snag the baitfish, that’s constant activity, but Al's the only one patient enough to wait for the big fish to come along.”

Victoire nodded.

“Yeah.”  Harry smiled.  “I wanted to thank you for entertaining him this summer and for sending home the fish.”

“Oh, that was all Al.  He caught 'em.”  She held out the hand that wasn’t holding the fishing rods.  “I’m Micah, by the way. Its good to meet you Mr.-“ she hesitated for a second.

“Harry.”

“- Mr. Harry.”

“No, just Harry.”

“Good to meet you, Harry,” Micah acknowledged.  “I hope you like fish because Al caught quite a large one today as well.”

“My father is grilling that now.  We'll be eating soon, if you want to join us,” Victoire offered Micah.

“Can I have a rain check? I pulled an early shift at the pub tonight, and I need to clean up before mingling with the general public.”

“Rain check?” Victoire asked.

Harry came to Victoire’s rescue.  “Muggle saying. Means an offer for another time. Like if rain prevents you from doing something, you can come back on a sunny day instead.”  He looked at Micah. “You lot offer rain checks for fishing?”

Micah shook her head. “Not this crew. Rain is considered ambiance in these parts.” She adjusted her load and whistled for the dog. “Y’all have a good meal now.”  With a wave, she strode off down the dock.

Harry was lost in thought as he and Victoire started back toward the boat.

“I like your friend,” he finally said.

“Me too,” Victoire agreed.  Strictly speaking, she wouldn’t say they were exactly friends, but she had, in fact, become quite friendly with Micah throughout the summer.

Harry gave Victoire a hand as she stepped onto the deck of the boat.  “She may be the first person to actually identify me by one of my kids rather than the other way around.”

Victoire contemplated that for a moment. Well used to the perspective of growing up a child of the Potter/Weasley clan, she hadn't really given much thought to the perspectives of the parents.

“Micah’s unique. She not only works on muggle fishing charters but also in a muggle pub.”

“Really? Harder work doing it the muggle way,” Harry commented.

Victoire shrugged.  “She claims wizards are rubbish tippers.”

“Huh.” Harry stood thoughtful for a moment.  “So, what’s considered a good tip?”

Victoire shook her head.  “Not sure. I should probably ask her sometime.”

They were greeted by Victoire’s siblings and two of the three Potters, all lounged on the deck waiting for dinner.

“Where’s James?” Harry asked the group.

“I’d check the stump,” Al offered as he made his next move in the game they were playing.

“He’s not good with fairies,” Louis supplied with a slight shake of his head.



 

Victoire intended to see the room before the day the houses opened for move in. As it happened, the remaining weeks of summer dwindled quickly, and they were a few short days from the start of classes.  Her parents insisted she move the day the houses opened. She might have been insulted by their haste to pack her out of her childhood room, but she knew, in reality, they were shocked that a lease had been executed without so much as a pass by them. The inspection was at hand.

The process was amusing at first; especially seeing the reactions as the house wards automatically divested everyone of their wands upon entrance to the building. Her father actually went into a crouch stance ready to defend himself. Louis kept walking back and forth over the main threshold watching his wand fly into the protective cabinet and then appear back into his pocket as he stepped out the front door.  He tried to catch it before it soared from his possession, but did not have a chance.

Dominique pulled Louis up the staircase when his antics became an obstruction. “Why do you even bother carrying a wand outside of school? It’s not like you get to use it,” she scolded.

Victoire attempted to count the number of stairs in the four flights that led to her room, but she consistently lost track somewhere around the third floor. In all honesty, she didn't feel she had that much stuff, but the muggle way of moving emphasized every last possession they carried.

The main floors were easy to navigate, the stairwells open and the landings spacious, but the fourth floor was tricky. The last flight to the attic was off to the side and switched back sharply behind the door marking its path. There was a turn, half a flight up, with a tall narrow window overlooking the roof of the next building. The window admitted some light, casting a dim glow down the lower flight but no light past the turn.

A landing the size of a telephone box housed a second door, which led directly into Victoire’s room.  Fortunately, the windows in the room itself were better.  Originally constructed as a mini conservatory, the ceiling on one side of the attic room sloped to waist height.  Three windows, each large enough to serve as access to the house roof, were spaced along the wall. The natural light they provided made the small space seem bigger.

Unfortunately, the illusion of space vanished steadily as they moved in Victoire’s possessions.

Victoire guessed her mother was the one missing her wand the most.  Fleur’s hands fidgeted constantly as she surveyed the room.  Victoire could only imagine the numerous domestic spells she longed to perform to make the room more inviting.  Her mother must've asked her a hundred times if she was really happy with the room.

With each subsequent inquiry, Victoire was more adamantly happy.

It wasn’t small, it was cozy. She scored a single when everyone else in the house had a roommate. Every other floor shared a loo and Victoire had one to herself for the first time in her life.  So, what did it matter that she couldn't even towel off in there without one foot in the cubicle.

The only concession Victoire made to change the room was to ask her father’s help in prying open the windows, which had been sealed shut long ago. She couldn't bring Gidget’s cage, as owls and other strictly magical pets weren't allowed in the house, but she knew she wouldn't be able to sleep if she didn't at least have the window open.

Yes, everything was fine until Louis, who'd been hanging out on the third floor landing because the entire family couldn't occupy Victoire’s space at the same time, bounded up with news. “Guess who’s living below you?”

“Micah,” Dominique replied from the bathroom where she was folding towels. “We already knew that. She was the one who got Vic the room.”

“No, haven't seen her yet.” He waited a moment for a reply before bursting out, “It’s Teddy!”

Fleur pivoted from where she was making the bed under the sloped ceiling of the room and regarded her daughter closely.

Victoire met her glance and immediately squared her shoulders before replying, “Lovely.”

Dominique’s voice lilted out of the bathroom once again, “Awkward.”

Louis, long oblivious to the female level of communication in his family, continued his report, “He’s got a girlfriend. She’s down there too.”

Of course, she is. Right below. Oh, Merlin, how thin are these walls?

Fleur handed Louis a box by the door. “Please take this to the car.”

Louis looked at the box, his brows wrinkling together slightly. “We just moved this stuff up here. Why are we moving it back?”

“Because it doesn’t fit.”

The disembodied voice from the bathroom cut over Fleur’s. “Because we ‘ave decided that these things are unnecessary for this place and will be keeping them for your sister at ‘ome.”

Louis looked from his mother to the bathroom to Victoire before leaving without another word, box in hand.

Fleur beckoned Dominique out of the bathroom.  “Go find out where your father 'as disappeared. I expect wondering outside testing wards and Apparition boundaries.”

Dominique emerged from the bath reluctantly. “Why would he be doing that?”

“Your father likes to know where 'is children are and 'ow closely 'e can get to them if needed. It’s the curse breaker in 'im. Now, go, please,” Fleur instructed.

Dominique descended the stairs at the slowest possible rate. Even her light footfalls on each step echoed back up to the room, confirming Victoire‘s initial fear she might be able to hear far more going on around her than she would ever want.

When Dominique finally cleared the stairwell, Victoire was trapped in the room with her mum.  Fleur stepped closer and gently smoothed her daughter's hair. “You are sure you are 'appy with the room?”

For the first time since their arrival in the attic, the inquiry was neutral in tone. Fleur’s eyes not on the surroundings but on her daughter alone.

Victoire experienced a fleeting desire to throw herself in her mum’s arms and beg to be taken home.  Quite uncharacteristically, she controlled the impulse and simply replied, “Yes, Mum. The room is fine.”  Because that was how big girls dealt with things.

Her mother nodded and placed an affectionate kiss on Victoire’s forehead. “You will make it so.”  Her mother’s voice rang with a quiet conviction Victoire wished she shared.

Fleur walked back to the bed and returned to straightening the bedding.  “Maybe a nice rug to soften the floor, dampen the echoes.”

“Yes.” Victoire nodded vaguely with her reply.  “I believe I’ll look for a rug.”




Later that evening, Victoire found herself alone in the middle of her new room concerned that a rug wasn't going to do the trick.  How had she arrived at this place in her life: attending an ultra competitive university, living in a house without the comfort or security of her wand, an ex living directly below her? 

Who was she kidding?  What business did she have here?

The sound of footsteps on the stairs startled her.  The room had darkened while she brooded, and she scrambled for a light as the knock sounded through the door.  She opened to find Micah at the landing and a blond Ravenclaw she remembered from Hogwarts a few steps behind her.

“Evening, hun,” Micah greeted her.  “Do you remember Phineas here from your old school?  He tells me he graduated a year ahead of you.”

“Sure I do.  Good to see you.”  Victoire mustered a smile she didn't feel.  Phineas nodded at her greeting, his eyes fixed somewhere above her left eyebrow.  She remembered him being tall, but he looked even more so framing Micah’s petite form from behind.  Despite being a step or more below Micah, his head neared level with hers.

“Would you - umm - like to come in?”

“Love to,” Micah responded as she entered, a wave of her hand encouraged her companion to join them in the room.  “We came to see how you are settling in and, in all honesty, to make you a proposition.  We were wondering if you'd be willing to switch rooms with Phineas?”

“Really?” Victoire had intended to avoid facing any of the day’s surprises by holing herself in her room. That plan was simply not going to work if surprises continued to charge up the stairs for her.

“Why would you want to do that? You barely fit in here as a visitor.”  Victoire attempted another smile at Phineas who, apart from the initial nod, had yet to show any signs of life beyond blinking and, out of the dim stairwell where she could see it, blushing.

“Valid point,” Micah answered for him, “but, here’s the thing, the university is under the impression that I'm a boy.  It’s the name, you see, Micah is short for Michael.  That’s how I’m registered.  Of all the issues with my paperwork, I have to say this little scenario never crossed my mind.”  Her hands constantly moved as she talked, “Imagine my chagrin - I was concerned it'd be my dog turning folks off - seems it’s me that Fin here isn't entirely comfortable with.”

“No, there’s nothing wrong with you…” Phineas finally spoke.  “I just…”   He looked from one forehead to the other.   “Cohabitation is against the house code.”

“It’s ok, Fin. I don’t take offense,” Micah soothed.  She patted his arm lightly and increased the blush as she did.

Victoire’s stare moved between the odd pair as she processed, finally resting on Micah.  “Your name is Michael Morgan, and the school has you sharing a room with a man?”

“Yes, that was the gist of the rather long speech I just gave.”  Micah smiled hopefully at her.  “That and suggesting you come down with me, and we let Fin have the single.  We'd be sharing a bath with the two other guys on the floor, but you have a brother, right?  Won‘t be that different.”

Phineas cleared his throat and chanced a quick glance at Victoire’s eyes before his gaze settled again above her eyebrows.  “The suite is directly below, and we would help move your stuff.”

“Below?”  Victoire repented the word as soon as they escaped her lips.  Especially the alarmed tone she felt was unmistakable in her voice.

“Yes, third floor.”  Micah regarded her curiously.

“I can’t,”  Victoire mumbled unable to look at either of them.  She reeled at the image of Iska, clad only in one of Teddy’s shirts, crossing her path on the way to the loo.  She felt real physical pain at the mere thought and sank down on the end of the bed.

“It’s ok, sugar,” Micah cast Phineas a quick look and dropped to the bed beside Victoire.  “I‘m sorry I put you on the spot. I guess it was asking a lot.”

Micah’s sincerity cut through Victoire.  Micah and Phineas had an actual problem and she- well, she should be over hers. It had been weeks.  Hell, if she was completely honest, it had been years.

She returned the blasted quill, didn’t she?  Why wasn‘t she over it?  And, how was she expected to explain it all to them?


“No, its not … it’s … it’s,” Victoire took a deep breath and exhaled the words in a rush, “it’s Teddy.  I can’t.  School together.  Classes are big.  I could do that.”  She shook her head slowly.  “He’s here.”  She vaguely pointed at the floor.  “He’s there. And she‘ll be there.  And they are there.”

Micah’s eyes got big and she extended an arm over Victoire’s slumped shoulders.  Phineas looked baffled and more uncomfortable, if that were even possible.  Micah looked up at him and simply stated, “She can’t share a floor with Teddy.”

Micah thought for a moment while she gently patted Victoire’s shoulder.  “Maybe Fin could go across the hall and Teddy could come up here?”

Victoire stiffened. Merlin, yes, let’s give him a single so they can put out without putting any else out.  If sound traveled up so well, Victoire could only imagine how grand the acoustics could be from under the poorly insulated floor.

There wasn’t a rug big enough.

“Move the entire house?” Victoire’s voice held a note of panic.  “How am I going to explain that?”  Her palms dampened.

“You won’t need to explain anything,” Micah assured.  “Fin and I'll work this out, right?”  She queried the man hovered by the desk, but afforded no chance for reply as she pressed on, “I promise I'll be the best roommate ever.  You already know about the dog and you seem more than ok with him.  You won’t even know I’m there.  I know very few people on this continent so I won’t be bringing anyone over.  I have a strict policy that no dates come to where I live so you don’t even need to think about that.  What’s more, if you have a girl, I'll gladly bunk on a couch downstairs.”

Seemed Phineas actually could look more uncomfortable.  Micah, undeterred by his reaction, continued her campaign, “I can be quiet.  I can adhere to whatever sleep schedule you want.  I promise never to ask you to put the toilet seat down, always knock before entering, and absolutely no girly soaps or bath products.  Give me a chance, please.  One month, you’ll see.  I mean, it'll take me at least that long to find another place.”

“You’d move out?”  A wave of guilt swept through Victoire.  “Where would you go?”

Phineas came alive with a deep exhale.  “I don’t want to kick you out.”  He sat on the desk, eyebrows furrowed and one hand stroked his chin.  After a moment of thought, he began to talk aloud, addressing the door across the room as if the girls were not right there with him.  “There has to be a solution.  Classes don't start until Monday.  That gives us three days.  We simply go to Student Affairs and explain the situation-”

Victoire snickered.  It was a quick burst of noise that bordered on hysterical.  The kind a laugh one feared would come out at a funeral.  She clasped a hand over her mouth as a pregnant pause filled the room, and then, Micah laughed a clear full bodied laugh of her own.

Micah took a breath and choked out, “The administration is what got us here in the first place.”

“That and my utter disaster of a love life,” Victoire admitted.  She dropped her elbows to her knees and cradled her head in her palms.  “I think I’m fine then all it takes is the mention of his name, and I’m back to square one.  I haven’t even seen him and I’m stressed out.”

“How long were you together?” Micah’s voice soothed from beside her.

“All my life,” Victoire mumbled through a curtain of hair, her head still down.  “Until he graduated two years ago.  He was supposed to come back to me.  He didn’t.  He came back with her.”  She squeezed her eyes shut tight.  “He's happy.  I want to be happy too.  I can‘t seem to.  My heart actually aches when I think about it.”

“There is a reason that you are feeling like this.”  Victoire’s head snapped up toward Phineas as he spoke.  “The end of a long term relationship can trigger the release of stress hormones that actually can weaken your heart.  Hence the common, albeit not strictly clinical, term 'Heart Break'.”  He addressed the door as a professor addressed a class.  He gestured toward Victoire without looking at her or Micah.  “Not only is your body releasing additional stress hormones but it is deprived of the stress relievers like oxytocin and vasopressin which are associated with the third level of human mating.”

Wait, what?

"Hey, where do you get off speculating about our level of mating?"

"Easy killer,” Micah interjected as she squeezed Victoire’s shoulder gently, “he meant no harm there.”  She looked at Phineas who'd turned back to the girls, startled by the outburst.  “Are you for real? Oxytocin?"

"Yes,” he ventured, “oxytocin, commonly referred to as the cuddle compound."

"I'm feeling miserable because of something called the cuddle compound?"

"No, because of the lack of it," he corrected.

"Well, isn't that helpful."

"It might be helpful," Micah asserted.  "Fin, can you replace this cuddle compound and vaso-whats-it?"

"Vasopressin and, no, you can’t replace it with a potion. Your body has to create it or it’s not real.”  Phineas relaxed somewhat, more in his element amid the academic discussion.

“So, no anti-love potion for her, then?”

“No, that wouldn't work.” Phineas shook his head. “It would be subject to the same limitations as love potions. It may give you the illusion, but it won’t do anything to ultimately change your body’s natural feelings. Potions like that don’t have a lasting effect. They wear off, and as soon as they do, you're right back to where you started without them.”  He shrugged.  “A waste of cauldron time if you ask me, but people do it thinking all they need is a boost.”

Victoire moaned, “Uggh, what am I going to do?”

“Sounds like an addiction to me. There are steps for that,” Micah said as she threw Victoire a hopeful smile.

“Are you expecting me to join a group?”

“Nothing that formal, but Fin and I can be your sponsors, if you like.”

Fin?”  Phineas scrubbed his face.  “And, how did we divert from the original issue?”

“We settled that.”  Micah now sounded like the professor.  “We do not involve student affairs.  You’ll give me a month.  We‘ll work it out downstairs, or I'll find another house.  In the mean time, we help Victoire overcome her Teddy addiction.”


Edited: Jan 2011



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