Chapter 21 : Nothing Left to Fear
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Teddy subconsciously ran his tongue over his bottom lip as he assessed the situation. His fiance was floating in a bubble a good thirty feet above the ocean. He had the instinct that no magic could get through the shield, or whatever it was that was holding her in place. He might be able to reverse the spell that had put her there, but then she wouldn’t survive the impact of the water, let alone the plateau of craggy rocks that the high tide barely covered. The situation, he concluded, was dire.
“Teddy,” Victoire sobbed again and again. She stayed stiff, afraid that any movement would send her plummeting to her death. The fear was causing her to shake, and she whimpered, even more afraid that the involuntary tremors would be enough to set her falling.
In his mind, he saw the way to free her, but he would have to be fast—really fast. He rubbed his jaw; his teeth had begun to hurt from the pressure. His fist clenched around his wand.
“Babe,” he called to her, “do you trust me?”
Victoire sobbed louder.
She swallowed back her fear. “Yeah…yes, I trust you, Teddy. I trust you,” she cried through the bubble.
“Ok,” he said, mostly to himself as he maneuvered himself closer to the edge. “Can you move in there, baby?”
“I-I haven’t tried.”
“Try for me, please.”
Victoire whimpered. “Teddy…I’m afraid.”
“Just try a finger,” he reassured her. “I’m right here; I’m not going to let you fall.”
Victoire closed her eyes, and slowly raised one finger. She was still floating. She moved her entire arm up and down, and still she floated. She opened her eyes, amazed.
“Good, good!” Teddy cheered. “That was brilliant, Vic. Ok, so I need you to turn and face me.”
Slowly, Victoire rolled over onto her side within the bubble, consumed with an awkward sense of weightlessness. Teddy conjured a rope, and, using his wand, tied one end over a sturdy tree trunk. He put a loop on the other end, and coiled it up.
“Now,” he directed slowly, “I’m going to need you to try and catch this.”
Victoire nodded, but still looked terrified. “Hey,” he said, smiling up at her, “do you remember the first time I proposed to you?”
Victoire blinked. “You mean two years ago?” She asked.
“No,” he replied, carefully aiming and tossing the rope, “the very first time.”
“You mean when we were kids?” Victoire inquired, reaching out to grab the rope. She gasped, surprised at herself—she hadn’t even thought about the movement, it had just happened, like when her and Teddy were kids, tossing a quaffle back and forth.
Unfortunately, her hand could not connect with the rope. It closed instead on a bit of the matter that surrounded her, but not the rope itself. Repelled, the rope fell away from the bubble.
Victoire felt the tears begin to sting the corners of her eyes.
“Damn.” Teddy breathed, moving onto his backup plan. “Tell me the story about how I proposed when we were kids.”
Victoire breathed deeply. “Why,” she croaked, as Teddy moved into a different position. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a narrow, winding path cut into the hillside, that led down to a thin strip of pebbled shoreline. He envisioned them getting down there and following the coast back around to the dock, where there was a boat. He thought it could work, but then he remembered Dex still searching for his wand in the woods. He couldn’t abandon him.
“You know it as well as I do.” Victoire’s voice cut through his thoughts.
“But you tell it better,” he argued, trying to sound casual. He slipped slightly on a smooth rock, and righted himself quickly, though it caused his blood pressure to spike, and his heart raged inside his chest. His voice a bit higher than usual, he prodded, “Besides, you’ve told almost everyone we know, why not tell me now that I’m asking?”
Victoire nodded and closed her eyes, as she recalled the story.
“And Vic,” Teddy called, interrupting her thoughts. Victoire opened her eyes. “I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
“Now, tell me the story.”
Victoire closed her eyes again, as Teddy clutched his wand, willing himself to be fast enough.
“We were playing,” she began, “in that little hideaway of ours near the Burrow. All it was, really, was this small area beneath a tree that was sheltered by a bunch of low hanging branches.” Victoire swallowed, her throat constricting at the memory. “You said it was like our little house, and I laughed. I said we had to be married first to have our own house. You shrugged and said, ‘let’s get married, then.’ And then I told you that you had to ask my Papa first.”
“Yeah? What happened next?”
“Well, you marched out of the hideaway—I followed, of course—and all the way back to the sitting room, straight up to my father. ‘Bill,’ you said, ‘Victoire and I want to get married so we can have our own house, but she said I had to ask you first, so what do you say?’ An-an-and he told you that I wasn’t allowed until I was 35.”
“What did I say after that?”
“I’ll wait,” Victoire breathed,”You said that it seemed like an awfully long time, but that you’d wai—” A deafening, terrified scream overtook Victoire’s words as she suddenly began to free fall. She moved her limbs erratically through the air as she felt death closing its icy grip on her with every passing millisecond.
“Wingardium Leviosa,” Teddy cried, mere moments after ending the incantation that held her in the air. Slowly, Victoire came back into view as he levitated her to himself. He felt weak with relief when she came back into view, and, when she was close enough, he reached up and pulled her towards himself, the two of them sinking to the ground together.
“Thank Circe, I was fast enough, I was fast enough,” he mumbled into her neck as he grasped her still trembling form tightly.
“Teddy,” Victoire choked. “Teddy.”
“Yeah! Vic, are you all right?” He pulled back from her a bit and started running his hands over her body, checking for injury. “Are you hurt? Are you all right, baby?”
“I’m fine, I promise you, but…”
“What?” He asked, looking at her in wide-eyed anxiety.
“Just, let me know what you’re going to do before you let me drop from a cliff, ok?” And then she smiled at him.
“Oh, Vic,” he groaned, and he grasped her face gently as he leaned in to kiss her.
“How very charming.”
The couple froze in their embrace. Victoire cowered at the foreign voice, and her breath hitched in her chest. Tightening his grip on her, Teddy turned slowly towards the origin of the voice.
“Albus!” He said, half-relieved, half-surprised. “What are you doing out here? I’m glad to see you’re awake.”
“Wish I could say I’m glad to see you,” Albus replied smoothly.
“What, why? What do you mean?”
“Teddy,” Victoire said quietly under her breath. “Teddy, its Al.”
“What!” He cried, turning his gaze back to her. She seemed paralyzed with fear, and she sat with her face turned away from Al. “What do you mean its Albus?”
“It’s him,” she screamed, pointing her finger in Al’s direction as she wailed. “He’s the one who kidnapped me an-and d-d-dragged me here. He’s the killer, Teddy! It’s him.”
Teddy jumped to his feet, pulling Victoire up with him. “Is this true?” He breathed.
“Of course it is,” Al drawled in a bored sounding voice. “Shocked?”
Teddy began to back him and Victoire over to entrance of the trail to the left of the cliff. “I don’t understand! Why kill them?” Teddy interrogated as they carefully walked down the trail. “James? Lily? Merlin, Al, they were your brother and your baby sister! You—you stabbed her in the back, didn’t you!” He tapped his hand lightly against Victoire’s leg, urging her to make her way quickly down the trail while he tried to distract Albus. She slipped quietly down the path.
Albus shrugged in response to Teddy’s question.
Infuriated, Teddy shouted. “THEY WERE YOUR FAMILY!”
“Merlin’s beard, Ted, what is it with you and family! Haven’t you realized, you don’t actually have one?” Albus finally looked ruffled, and Teddy used the opportunity to fire off a quick Body Bind curse at him and bolt down the trail after Victoire.
He was gaining on Victoire’s lead when a bolt of red light went shooting past his ear. “Duck!” He shouted, and Victoire, clinging tightly to the side of the cliff, let out a small yelp as the light ruffled her hair as it zoomed by.
“You missed!” Albus shouted down at them. He stepped forward slowly, playing with his prey.
Tired of being toyed with, Teddy didn’t respond to Al’s taunts. Instead, he rushed forward, grabbed Victoire by the hand and quickly lead her down the narrow, steep, and winding path.
Albus laughed from behind them. “What! Ted Lupin has nothing to say. It’s a good thing I do, or this conversation would be dead.”
It was in the way he said dead that made Teddy nervous. He turned abruptly on his heel to face Albus and watched in horror as the black-haired man yelled the incantation.
There was no thinking, just doing, as Teddy had always imagined it would be. In one swift motion, he jumped in front of Victoire, and pushed her behind himself. She skidded a little ways further down the path just as the light hit Teddy’s chest as he stood where she had just been.
At that moment, the world seemed to get caught up in a slow river of time. Albus advanced on them as slowly as Teddy staggered backwards. Noise was ripped from the world, and all Victoire could hear was the sound of her breathing, and her heart, which beat in time to the drops of blood that fell from Teddy like the wand from his hand. And then it was her own voice, as quiet as a whisper in the din of this tragedy.
He fell to his knees as he turned to face her.
“Oh god!” Victoire cried and reached out to him. But before she could grasp him, Albus arrived and grabbed Teddy tightly by his shoulder.
Victoire screamed Teddy's name as Albus pushed his frozen, bleeding figure from the side of the cliff. She felt frozen herself as she watched him land on the rocky shore below, his face still screwed in such a way from the shock, that it almost looked as though he'd been laughing. She choked on her own heart, and stepped backwards against the wall of dirt, spreading her arms and digging her nails into the earth as the trail became precariously narrow. She couldn't tear her eyes away from Teddy's body, but the unstable dirt path trembled as Albus advanced toward her. She whimpered, and slowly side-stepped her way down the trail. She spared half a glance for her cousin, blinking back the tears in order to see him properly.
He was smirking.
The bastard was smirking at her, at her panic, at her grief, at the murder of her beloved.
"Albus," she croaked, "Why?"
He laughed. And though he could have overtaken her pace easily, thrown a curse at her that would send her sailing to the shore like Teddy, he waded behind her, spinning his wand between his fingers.
Victoire didn't have the time to hate him. He was hopeless, totally beyond the realm of normal values and morals. She continued her slow, precarious descent; her sole thought was to get down to Teddy.
She took another step. The ground caved beneath her foot, and a pile of earth tumbled down the side of the hill in a cloud of dust, leaving a gap in the path.
As Victoire stumbled backwards and clawed into the side of the hill to keep herself from falling, she wondered for just the briefest of moments if it would really be such a terrible thing to fall. They had made it a good way down the hill, and the drop wasn't so high anymore. She would definitely survive the fall. She could just let go and get to Teddy faster. But before, Victoire could make that decision, Albus made it for her.
She cried out in pain as Albus reached forward, grabbed her by her hair, and pulled her further away from the gap. Breathing heavily through the pain and blinking back the tears, she struggled to her feet as Albus strengthened his grip on her hair, and soon his smirking, remorseless face was in view.
Rage like she had never felt before filled Victoire, and she decided, though the situation seemed dire and hopeless, that this was not her moment to die. Albus was talking, but it didn't matter what he was saying, because the only thing that meant anything to Victoire was lying still and lifeless on the beach.
Victoire spit in Albus' face.
Anger flashed in his emerald eyes, and he brought his arm back to strike her. Victoire used that moment to kick out at him and twist away. The path was too narrow, though, and, with the force of her actions, she fell from the edge, landing badly on her ankle when she hit the bottom.
Groaning from the pain, but undeterred, she clambered, disoriented, to her feet and started walking towards Teddy. Her ankle gave out on her, and falling to her knees, she crawled the rest of the way.
"Teddy, Teddy," she called, pushing his hair out of his face. "Please, wake up. Please..."
She didn't try to stop the soft sobs as they rolled out from her.
"Please...don't leave me here. Teddy, I love you, I love you."
The truth reached her even through her hysteria, and she reached forward to wrap her arms around his torso, like she had when they curled up in bed next to each other. Except this time, Teddy's body was cold and soaked in blood, and Victoire had no thoughts or words to express the pain that coursed through her.
"That," a sneering voice said from very close behind her, "was a very stupid thing to do."
Victoire felt Albus reach out and try to pull her away from Teddy by her shoulder.
"No," she screamed, and struggled from his grasp, clinging even more tightly to the corpse of her beloved.
Albus sighed heavily, as though exasperated, and grabbed her by the hair again. It worked, and Victoire's head collided painfully with the rocky shore when Albus released his grip. Dizzy and immobilized, she stared helplessly up at Albus. Something wet began to soak her hair, whether it was blood or seawater, Victoire didn't know or care. She snaked her hand towards Teddy, feeling her way back to him, and slipped her hand into his when she found it.
"Do it," she slurred, trying to focus on Albus, "I don't care anymore, just do it."
It sounded like the curse came from very far away, and she had a brief moment to pretend that the rushing noise filling her ears was the sound of the waves crashing on the beach next to Shell Cottage. And then it hit her.
A/N: Hello! I know, I know, its been ages since I've updated, but my muse was lost for awhile, but now its back just in time for Halloween. I also know that I'm terribly, terribly behind on my review responses. You are all so awesome, that I'm having a hard time keeping up. But, I am working through them. I recently responded to all of the reviews left behind Aug 3 and the first part of september, and now, I'm working my way through the reviews for chapters 19 and 20 of blood. I will get to all of them eventually, but alas its my last semester of college so its going to take me an even more ridiculous amount of time! But, if youre still kind enough to read and review, I'd love to hear your opinion on this chapter. Did you feel for Teddy and Victoire?
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