Chapter 1 : One.
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Her breath frosted on the windowpane, briefly obscuring her vision of the snow-covered yard. Frowning, she lifted a finger and drew a bell in the frost. It was a little lopsided and didn’t really look like a bell, but at this point, Rose Weasley didn’t care. She didn’t care much about anything anymore, not really. How could she when her entire world had just been shattered?
Rose sighed, cupping her chin with her hands and staring out the window, forlorn. Her mum had left a plate of biscuits and a tall glass of milk on the side table, but Rose wasn’t interested. She didn’t have much of an appetite. Instead, she kept her gaze focused on the white void and pondered the cruelties of the world.
It was in this same, pondering state that Teddy Lupin found the scrawny red-haired girl only a few minutes later. Cheeks raw and red from an afternoon of joyous tobogganing with James and Albus, Teddy found his way into the study, where Rose was sat in front of the window, absolutely silent and looking a little more than depressed, like Dominique had just snapped the head off of her favourite doll.
“What’s wrong, Rose?” Teddy asked, coming to stand next to her.
Rose didn’t look up at him as she usually did, just continued to stare out the window. She did, however, heave the world’s largest sigh for a six year old. “Nothing,” she muttered miserably.
Teddy frowned, not at all buying it. Then again, Rose wasn’t the best actress, either. Nudging her arm with his elbow, he gestured for her to move over so he could sit next to her. “Well, there’s got to be something wrong. My Rose doesn’t mope without reason.”
“I’m just…” she trailed off, biting her lower lip.
“You’re just what?”
Tearing her gaze away from the window, Rose tilted her head back to look at Teddy, and he was surprised to see that there were tears in her blue eyes. “I’m sad.” As she said the words, her lips trembled and a tear slipped out of the corner of her eye.
Not wasting a moment, Teddy wrapped his arm around Rose’s shoulder and pulled her close. Almost immediately, the water works started. Her small shoulder shook with sobs and she pressed her face into his jumper, ignoring the way the knit scratched her face. As he patted her back, Teddy wondered just what had happened that had made Rose so upset. Had she overheard Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione arguing? He shook his head; they always fought. It was what they did. But what could it have been? Rose wasn’t one to cry very often…
“So,” Teddy said once she stopped sobbing and started to sniffle. “What’s wrong, Rose? And be honest!”
Dragging her sleeve underneath her nose, she blinked away a new wave of tears and said, in the most pitiful voice Teddy had ever heard, “Victoire said Santa Claus wasn’t real!”
Teddy choked on his laughter. All of that - the moping, the sobbing, the despair - all because her cousin had said Santa wasn’t real? He could hardly believe it, mostly because Rose had never been particularly overdramatic.
“It’s not funny, Teddy!”
“I’m not laughing at you,” he said, giving her shoulder a tight squeeze.
She sniffled. “You’re not?”
“No,” Teddy dispelled, the shake of his head causing his blue hair to flop about on his forehead. “I’m laughing at Victoire for being so -” he paused to glance around the study conspiratorially and beckoned Rose to lean in closer. She did, and he whispered, “Stupid.”
Rose giggled and whispered back, “You think she’s stupid?”
“I sure do,” he said, which made Rose laugh again. He smiled down at her, glad to be the one who cheered her up. “I mean, think about it, Rosie. It’s just so ridiculous to not believe in Santa Claus, especially with all of the proof.”
“Victoire said there wasn’t any proof that he existed.”
“Well, she’s a liar. You wanna know how I know that?”
Rose nodded eagerly. “Of course!”
“Because I’ve seen him.”
Rose gasped loudly, clapping both hands over her mouth. She looked up at Teddy in absolute wonder. Dropping her hands, she muttered, “Wow.”
Still smiling, Teddy knew there would be hell to pay when word got back to Victoire. It was inevitable; there was no such thing as secrets in the Weasley family. But as he gazed at Rose’s face, at the bright pink of her cheeks and the wonder in her eyes, Teddy felt like whatever hellfire Victoire might rain down on him was, without a doubt, totally worth it.