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Chapter 2 : Secrets
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Dom shook her long red gold curls free of the clip containing them, kicked off her stilettos and took Scorpius’s hand in hers. He squeezed her fingers, pushing back his own white-blond fringe with his free hand to reveal a look of determination on his sharp featured face Rose had never seen before in all the years she had known him.
“So this would be a good time to tell you that we’ve been going out for two years now,” Dom said coolly, sparing a half guilty, half defiant look for Rose.
As the room exploded in uproar, Rose felt a dull throbbing beat a rhythmic pace in her temples. Leaving them to it, she stumbled out of the suddenly hot, crowded room to the small balcony adjoining Dom’s spare room. It was a room she had occupied more often than she wished, usually after making sure Dom made it to her own bed after a messy night on the town. It was a room she might never have to stay in again.
She was not quite sure how long she remained hunched there, shivering at the stars in the mid March chill. She could still register that the volume of the shouting in the next room had increased rather than stopped, but her numb body was drained of all emotion and the thoughts humming angrily in her head blocked out all sound. Almost all sound.
She was turning around before she knew it, tilting up her head to see him properly. Teddy looked, for a wonder serious, his eyes their normal amber and without their usual roguish twinkle. He squeezed himself onto the tiny balcony; it shook and creaked ominously and she reached out instinctively for the nearest support, which turned out to be his arm. He did not brush her off, as she half expected; she had seen how he had distanced himself from even the family these days. Instead he looped her arm through his and surveyed Dom’s view of a moss eaten cemetery, perhaps the resting place of a thousand unrealized visions, without really seeing it.
She, who never was without an opinion, did not speak, so acutely was she aware of the feel of his slightly calloused fingers, of the heat radiating from his side, and when he broke the silence, it was not with the question she had been steeling herself to deny.
“I’m old, aren’t I?” he asked woefully, the beginnings of a classic Black pout forming. (Andromeda had raised him well).
“You know you’re old when all your friends are paired up seriously” he mused. “Half my friends already have children, now you lot are heading that way! Dom’s apparently been going out for years with Malfoy, Vic’s engaged to Alex, and Roxy to Lysander, and then little Lucy beat everyone else out to the alter when she married Finnigan,”
“Owen,” Rose corrected him primly.
“Didn’t you go out with out with Malfoy back in school?” was his non sequitur of a reply.
She laughed incredulously at his typically barefaced audacity in confronting the elephant in the room. The bubble of mirth that rose between them swelled and burst, taking along with it the tension she had not noticed between them until it was gone.
“In seventh year, yes,” she said, pulling back to look at him quizzically. “It was years ago, and deadly secret! We took it all very seriously and I swore Victoire to secrecy; I can’t believe she told you!”
Ted shrugged, a graceful movement of irritation.
“What did you do, break up with the poor sod to focus on your NEWTs?” he teased, a current she couldn’t quite identify darkening his tone. It was her turn to shrug, to put on a freshly ironed air of tranquility.
“We never really had that much in common. He .. I.. at the time, I thought that it was real, but it was really just a fit of teenage rebellion we both grew out of.”
He made a soft murmur of understanding, and she should have left it at that and dropped the topic with dignity and restraint. Instead she blurted out -
“I haven’t thought of him in years.” She flushed as furiously as only a red head can, but his eyes were not on her, to catch her out in her blatant lie, but on the huge yellowing moon, peeping out from the clouds to dimly illuminate the cemetery gruesomely.
“It’s the worst part of growing up, isn’t? Growing out of relationships you thought would last forever,” Ted said absently.
She knew he was thinking of Victoire, the first love of his life, though that had blossomed a good ten years ago and wilted more than five. She knew it because of the slightest of crinkles creasing the corners of his eyes, because of the small downturn that his wide mouth, made for laughing, took. She slipped her small freckled hand into his large brown one.
“We’ll brave all the Weasely weddings together, Lupin,” she promised. He grinned in reply and stroked the hand he still held with his thumb. She felt a surge of something light, and silly and far too powerful spark inside of her at his touch and she immediately marshaled her defenses and stamped down on them hard. His next words doused the remnants that lingered effectively.
“Won’t you reconsider Rosie?”
She snatched her hand back and straightened her shoulders.
“Don’t call me Rosie, I’m twenty two. And you know why I can’t. It’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard, Teddy, I don’t know what you were thinking asking me.”
His eyes flickered, changing colour and back again so quickly she could not be sure in this light it had happened.
“I had hoped you would trust me,” he said slowly.
“Ted, the parts of Europe you want to jaunt off to are infested with bandits, overrun by dark creatures and frequented by the last remains of the Neo Death Eaters. Why in Merlin’s name would you willingly take a job there? You already have a perfectly respectful, absurdly well paying job for a man not yet thirty, why are you throwing it all away?” she demanded.
“The adventure, the thrill of fighting for your life isn’t appealing?”
“Teddy! This is me!”
He smirked at her and then sighed.
“Those overrun-by-dark-creature hotspots are also becoming the centre of the movement for werewolf rights. They’ve bringing about huge changes there. That’s where everything is happening, petal, and it’s where I want to be!”
He paused, meeting her gaze properly for the first time since he had stepped onto the balcony and shattered her attempt at serenity. There was no confusion in his eyes, none of the usual reserve. The sense of purpose radiating from him seemed an almost tangible aura, settling around him and lending him a gravity that transformed him better than any Metamorphagi trick. She has seen the player, the troublemaker, the bookworm, the desperate lover and the impish joker. She did not realize until this moment how she much she has missed the dreaming king.
“I couldn’t do any less” he said firmly. “I’m a Lupin, and proud to be.”
She smiled at him, her eyes beginning to blur dangerously. He looks tired, she realizes, and it is more than the weight of the working week or traces of dedicated drinking. It is a weariness that has wrapped itself around him like a second skin, dragging down his natural buoyancy.
“You’ll be magnificent,” she said shakily.
“Oi, you two!” Albus poked his head out onto the balcony. “They’ve stopped yelling and now all the girls are crying. What in Rowena’s lacy knickers are you two talking about? You’ve been out here ages!”
“Nothing,” Rose and Ted said together and then shot each other sidewise glances.
One of Al’s shot up.
“I see,” he said significantly.
Teddy reached out patronizingly and ruffled Al’s hair; he retaliated in kind more roughly and Rose bypassed them with an eye roll to join the party.
As Albus had described, Dom and Victoire were crying and hugging furiously. Rose found Lily, Molly and Lucy sitting together on the couch drinking elderberry wine, they stopped talking the minute she entered and smiled knowingly at her. She changed her course, mustered her courage and joined Scorpius, who was looking somewhat harried between James, who was cracking his knuckles as if he were fifteen instead of a twenty three year old reporter rather dependant on his hands, and Louis who seemed to be hitting stride in his ‘You break her heart, I break your face,” speech. Her part Veela cousin looked quite impressively aggressive for a nineteen year old male model with porcelain skin, but she supposed he’d had a fair bit of practice with the collective boys his adored older sisters brought home – or didn’t.
“Good to see you, Scorpius,” she said insincerely. He smiled at her, not the cocky smirk she was accustomed to, or the brilliant smile he polished in all reflective surfaces, but a genuine, slightly shy grin that suited him much better and she found herself smiling back.
Perhaps she would manage to survive this night after all. Perhaps she wouldn’t murder Dominique, or make any of the biting comments about taking leavings that had been simmering in her brain until her conversation with Teddy drenched them thoroughly and blew them to ephemera.
Rose studiously avoided Teddy for the rest of the night, a feat which involved sticking by Victoire until she could no longer stomach third wheeling, volunteering to look through Dom’s new and increasingly bizarre portfolio of photographs and make the appropriate noises, and finally, when there was no resort left, enduring Lucy’s gushing about her new husband’s Quidditch successes.
He knew what she was up to, had never needed any help in reading her every sliding gaze and faintly trembling hand, and he bided his time. Time had always been on his side. He waited until her long black coat was buttoned up around her neck, her hands gloved and crammed with packages of food that would, with luck, get her through the week, before he strolled up to her with an infuriating smirk. He carelessly kissed Dom on the cheek, gave Scorpius, the only person present he was actually related to, a friendly handshake, and then he seized Rose’s shoulder in his long fingered hands and treated her to Side Along Apparition as if she was twelve.
“I know, you’re a big girl and can Apparate yourself, but this place is warded so only Harry or I can Apparate in,” Ted informed her before she could do more than open her mouth. She twisted in his hold and glared at him and he stepped back as the world stopped spinning and the blaze of colours cleared.
“You still need to ask. And I’m not haring off to Europe with you. And why the hell do you have a bloody great room only you and Harry can Apparate to?” she demanded.
She knew Teddy’s house almost as well as her own; Harry had refurbished and bequeathed Grimmauld Place to Teddy, as a part Black and the only other Marauder legacy years ago. Yet she was sure she had never seen this wide room, with its distinctive mirror of a wall conjuring painful childhood memories of ballet lessons, and a marked absence of windows.
Light from a single globe in the centre of the room illuminated stacks of boxes heaped haphazardly against another wall; she glimpsed a lime green robe like Al’s healer gear poking out from one and a Wizengamot collar falling out of another. However it was third wall that she was drawn to magnetically, it was lined with bookcases better stacked than her own, covering everything from obscure Dark Creatures to histories of Death Eaters and auror hierarchies.
“Why do have a book called Witches: for part-Trolls?” she asked, not bothering to mask her amusement.
“I take you to the secret room your mother and I spent three years building and making impenetrable, and the first thing you notice is the books. Naturally”, he drawled.
She turned around to see he had kicked off his shoes and sprawled his long frame in the more patched of the two armchairs, leaving her a tall, stiff backed leather seat. She slid into it, placing her food packages on the Persian rug and sparing Teddy a speculative glance.
“My mother built this room,” she said flatly.
Teddy leaned forward, his face suddenly pale. He took a deep breath.
“She did. I was never supposed to tell anyone, especially not you.”
Rose opened her mouth to ask why not and her traitor mouth asked instead.
“Why did you?”
She could not meet his eyes, but could feel his hesitation and the long drawn out moment was almost unbearable. Finally, when she thought she would scream, or choke from the frustration of waiting, always waiting, he spoke.
“This is the only place I can tell you the truth.”
She was instantly suspicious.
“What have you done, Theodore Remus Lupin?”
He looked wounded.
“See how she judges me?” he asked the portrait of his mother, which hung between two of the bookcases. She smiled fondly at him but did not speak. Rose wondered if she even could, considering the spell work had been done after her death, in defiance of wizarding tradition but insisted on by Harry… and then she lost her train of thought as she looked up to catch Teddy’s eyes, a liquid gold she could drown in, trained on her, an infinitely sad smile pulling on the corners of his mouth.
“I lied to you,” he said so softly she had to lean forward to hear him. “I do want to do my bit for werewolf rights, but that’s not – well, not completely – I’m not explaining this properly – I haven’t really had to explain it before - Rose, there’s another reason I want you to come with me to Transylvania!” he blurted out.
She felt her breath catch, and had to make an effort to control her tone.
“I didn’t think your idea of a holiday really was a freezing hell hole overrun by Dark creatures, however you tried to make it sound fun,” she said, flippant as always in the face of crossroads.
He nodded absently.
“Did you ever wonder why I never became an Auror? I was practically brought up by Harry after all, and it was all I ever wanted to do as a kid, live up to my parents’ legacy.”
She shook her head. She could not for the life of her see the relevance of this question, if she had not been covertly watching him for the entire night, she would have thought him on the wrong end of tipsy. He was at his most whimsical after a few Firewhiskies, but he had not touched more than one this night. He seemed to be expecting an answer; she gave in and decided to humor him yet again.
“Ted, you graduated before I even started Hogwarts, you travel overseas all the time. It’s really only in the last few years we’ve become close. I just assumed you always wanted to work in Magical Cooperation.”
He laughed, not his usual rich baritone chuckle but a lower, mirthless snicker.
“That’s a front I’ve kept up the last decade, Rosie. I’m going to tell you now something I shouldn’t, even though Harry authorized me to. I shouldn’t tell you because it will change things. It will change how you think of me, it will change you. It will pull you down the rabbit hole, it will end the dream. And I’m sorry for that, petal. I am so, so sorry.”
Any guesses as to what he is going to tell her? Reviews are lovely!
Disclaimer: I don't own anything, not even Teddy *cries*
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