Chapter 1 : Anemones.
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She saw everything through that veil.
The backs of the heads of hundreds of people, most magical, some muggle, a few house-elves, chattering politely with the person they were stuck beside, waiting for the ceremony to begin. They had all worn their best robes, gone to their best hair stylist, and made sure they looked the best for that day, the day when she would drop her last name to become, at last, a Lupin. Rows and rows of seats all united with one single flower: the anemone. The anemone was a bright purple flower, and when Victoire saw it in the flower catalogue, she immediately settled her mind that it was the flower she wanted to have all around the wedding chapel and all over the reception party. Her mother, Fleur, had scrunched up her nose at it, but Victoire was not sure why she liked it so much. It took a few tantrums but the matter was settled quickly: it was her wedding after all, and it had to be perfect. And if the perfect wedding, in Victoire’s mind, had more than three dozen anemones overflowing all over the chapel and over her head, then so it would be.
The word ‘anemone’, she had read, came from the Greek word for ‘windflower’ and the legend was that it had sprung from Aphrodite’s tears while she mourned Adonis’s death. After knowing all this Victoire still wondered why indeed she had been struck with a flower with such a stagy start, and it wasn’t until the audience felt silent, the piano started playing by itself, and the chapel doors swung open with her at full view that everything was clear to her.
The crowd gasped at such beauty standing alone there in the back, an image glowing and radiant in that gorgeous wedding gown that fell in various folds and ended in a tail so long that her younger cousins were behind to hold it.
It was there, as Victoire stood tall and magnificent in view of everyone in the chapel, when she started examining the anemone bouquet she held in her hands. She was rather thankful that her veil was on so it shunned her off the world in a way, so they did not see her eyebrows knit as she inspected her bouquet. Twelve bright purple anemones, tied all together with a few strands of unicorn hair. She twirled it around in her hand, the crease in her forehead deepening slightly, and she ran the anemone’s significance in her head.
She had been waiting all her life for this moment. This exact moment when she would stand in that same exact spot wearing that exact same dress and looking out at the long walk ahead of her, the walk up the aisle before joining Teddy Lupin and become his bride. Become his wife.
This time, she ran the anemone’s birth in her head.
The crowd was growing anxious. What was she doing? Of course she looked all beautiful and splendid, but she did not really need to wait all that time for them to soak her up. If all, she looked a bit nervous, twirling her bouquet in her hand. They couldn’t tell much because of that fantastic veil covering her face, though. She was standing still right at the foot of the aisle, though not enough time had passed yet for anyone to start panicking.
And so Victoire looked up from the anemones, up all the way the sparkling aisle, and into the quizzical topaz eyes of Teddy Lupin, her groom.
She took a first, tentative step into the aisle. The crows let out a sigh of relief and the breath they had been holding and proceeded in watching her make her way to her groom. Her little cousins carrying the tail, Roxanne, who was seven, and Lucy, who was twelve, got to their feet and assisted her.
She took another step.
That man, the one she desired so dearly, was forbidden fruit. He was two years younger than her, and as far as she knew, Weasley women were not cougars.
But she wanted him. That much she knew, that much she realized now.
She realized that she had mucked it all up.
Her small size six feet took another few steps into the long aisle with the grace of a swan.
"I get that you are Dominique’s sister?” He asked, taking a sip from his butterbeer. Huh. Kids. She, most sophisticated and definitely older, was holding a flute of firewhisky.
Surely holding her head high, she nodded.
Lysander smiled and pointed his glass in her direction, pointing at her with his finger. “You look alike,” he responded with a smile that made his glassy blue eyes look even more faraway, as if he were lost in deep thought.
“You think? I don’t know, everyone says Dominique’s the prettier one,” said Victoire, twirling a lock of her gorgeous blond waves in her finger. And she spoke the truth. Through all her life she had to endure the way how everyone pretty much ignored her next to her perfect little sister. Everyone always said that although they were very much alike, Dominique just had something else. A spark, maybe, that gleam of mischief in her eyes that made her appeal to people much more that Victoire ever could. It was this way, when everyone was over by the fireplace, swooning over gorgeous Dominique Weasley, that she had gotten stuck talking with fifteen-year-old Lysander Scamander.
Victoire downed the rest of her firewhisky, expecting the usual ‘yeah, she is definitely something,’ that would lead on to his life-long crush on her sister. She could take it if she was the least bit tipsy.
But instead, he surprised her with an “I don’t see where”.
Lysander went on. “Between the two of, you are definitely the breath-taking one here.”
Victoire’s lips formed an O and she stared at the bloke in front of her with renewed interest. “Oh really? How do I don’t know you are just sucking it up to me?”
“Well, I guess that’s up to you.” He raised a playful eyebrow and finished his butterbeer. Victoire just laughed and ruffled his hair.
She was soon out of breath, and she felt like she had been punched in the gut. And it was because of the fact that she was walking to her unhappiness. Deliberately.
Something about that didn’t sit right with her.
But she gripped harder her anemones and took another step closer to Ted Remus Lupin.
“I hear you are with that, er, Lupin bloke.” Lysander toyed with his wand, refusing to look up to Victoire’s face.
Victoire gave him a vague smile. Yes, she was with Teddy, her dream since she was nine. When she was nine and she would stare at him from out her window, happy and excited about going to Hogwarts and his new wand.
She remembered her naive nine-year-old dreams, wanting him like a little girl could. And finally, after so many years, and finally, after so many takes, they finally got together. And it was glorious.
“Thank you,” she smiled at the recently sixteen-year-old bloke. Soon they had engaged in a silent game of awkward silences and reciprocated stares that left Victoire wondering about the odd colour of his eyes. They were this pretty grey-blue that looked like it had a sheet of green under it, with light brown splashed in the centre and a fine chocolate brown line surrounding the iris. Victoire spent a great ordeal of time just staring at them, trying to decide what colour to categorize his eyes. But it was impossible. They were nor green nor brown nor grey nor blue.
She was just about to ask when he interrupted her. “I don’t like him.”
“What?” she blinked, startled.
“I don’t like that Teddy Lupin bloke. I think you could do so much better than that.” Lysander stuffed his hands in the pockets of his robes and looked away at a passing Hufflepuff.
Victoire let out a slight laugh. Better than Teddy? Who could be better than Teddy Lupin? For her, Teddy Lupin was the ultimate gift. The last step before reaching paradise. The one she always wanted, and the one she now had. “Really, like who?”
It took her by surprise when he responded, avoiding her eyes. “Like me.”
She felt bad for him. She felt bad because he had an unrequited crush, a crush that was just not going to happen. He was two years younger than her! It was sort of like her old crush on Teddy –it just was a silly crush that would not happen.
“Molly’s calling me, I must leave,” he said abruptly and walked away towards her fourteen year old cousin, who had must certainly not called him over.
Victoire sighed and shrugging out of resignation, swished away towards Transfigurations.
Yet right now, she felt bad for herself. Because he kept staring ahead, at the eyes of a nervous yet glowing Teddy Lupin, and she could not help but be disappointed that they weren’t nor green nor brown nor grey nor blue.
A few more steps.
Her mother and Teddy’s grandmother were sitting together, crying into each other’s handkerchiefs. Her younger cousins, Rose, Lily, Molly, and her sister Dominique were up ahead, two on each side of the arch under where she would be wed, all dressed up in shiny gold dresses that would not clash with Rose and Lily’s red hair. Of course, they had bright purple sashes around their waist, so they would go with the decoration of anemones.
She ran the anemone’s significance in her head once again.
“I don’t care, Victoire, whether you think it’s just a silly little crush that will go away. I know better than that, I’m sixteen. It’s not just a crush. I love you, Victoire, I love you!” He slammed his hand against the table. The Ravenclaw common room had been empty for a while now, and it was them, Victoire and Lysander, who remained.
She sighed. She didn’t want to hurt him. He had become something like a friend, a confider. A two-years-younger confider. Like how Molly had Fred, who was in second year and she was in fourth. Except he was her cousin and there wasn’t any weird unrequited crushes going on between them. “Lysander. I am with Teddy. I love him. And you are sixteen and I’m eighteen...”
He crossed the room in two strides and lightly put his finger on Victoire’s lip so she would stop talking. “Just... Victoire... just tell me...”
“Tell you what?” she breathed.
He just stood there, staring at her. And she knew what was coming. But she couldn’t find a way to stop it. So when he cupped her chin with his hands and looked at her straight in the eyes, which he could since he had grown and they were the same height, she just stared back. And so she took a long, jagged breath, and stepped away when he leaned in. “Lysander, stop it.”
“Please,” he breathed, and there was such pain, such agony in his whisper that she let him. It broke her heart. So he cupped her chin again, their knees knocking together, and leaned in slowly, his lips softly pressing upon hers. And she just stood there, his eyes tightly shut, while he buried her hands under her soft blond hair, carefully applying more pressure. He was trying to make it last and she, just as stubborn, was holding herself tight, refusing to respond.
He slowly pulled back.
And they just stood there, looking at each other for a few seconds until at last, he whispered quietly. “How did that make you feel?”
“Like you should back off.” She pressed her hands upon his chest and pushed him away from her, her eyes not meeting his hurt expression. “Nothing happened, you see. I still love Teddy, and you are still a kid!”
And instead of answering her, he just turned around and ran.
Tears stung the back of her eyes, but she held her head high and took another step. Because she remembered that night clearly as if it had happened yesterday. Because for all the sleepless nights se had spent tossing and turning about it, she ought to just have kissed him back.
But she hadn’t felt like it. And she didn’t do what she didn’t want to do.
She was reaching row number seven of the twenty-five rows of seats up the aisle now. And she did not know how she had the strength to keep going on.
“The Scamanders?” Victoire propped up on her chair, facing her mother.
Fleur smiled at her eldest daughter and washed her hand on the kitchen’s pristine sink. “Yes, ze Scamanders. One of ze tweens, Lorcan, ‘as found a job at a dragon resairvation in Australia. ‘ow lucky is zat? Of course it may ‘ave ‘elped that his grandfazzer was Neeuwt Scamander, but well!”
“That is lucky,” Victoire mumbled and slumped on her chair, grabbing a spoonful of cereal.
“...And his brozzer Lysander got an internsheep too! zous keeds, barely eighteen and already journeying around ze world!”
Victoire almost choked on her Cheerios.”Wait, what?”
More tears stinging the back of her eyes. She really shouldn’t be thinking about all this while she was getting married. She had carefully avoided remembering those particular moments and now they all just floated out of her mind, numbing her grip on the anemones and blinding her sight. She couldn’t see now, she kept walking up the aisle mercifully out of inertia, and her eyes just ran from left to right as she watched these sudden images that flashed by her eyes, every one of them slightly shorter than the next.
“Why haven’t you told me you are leaving for Australia?” Victoire demanded, her arms tightly folded across her chest.
It was dark. The only thing alight was the moon hanging from the sky, no stars or anything alike to support it in giving light.
It was also very windy. Lysander’s blond hair was doing well in keeping out of his eyes. Except he was not meeting Victoire’s.
“It shouldn’t concern you. And if it does, you should be happy for me.”
Victoire shut her eyes and blew blond strands away from her face. Her hair was never as cooperative as Lysander’s. “Of course I’m happy, but...”
Lysander took a step forward. “Will you miss me?”
“You are my friend. Of course I’ll miss you."
Her knuckles were going back from her death-grip with the flowers. She had picked up a slightly faster pace, and Roxanne and Lucy were tripping over their feet to get the tail along with her in time. She noticed Albus lean in to Fred’s ear and whisper, but she did not care. The images where shifting faster now.
“You came back.” Her head had been throbbing, but she still Apparated over to see him. She missed him. And he was back. And she needed to see him.
“I still want you, Vic.”
She shut her eyes, her heart hurting more than her head. “I’ve never liked you that way, Lysander! You were just a kid, you are still a kid!”
And so Teddy looked up, his eyes bright and hopeful as he fumbled to open the hatch on the little box. She cried then, since she knew she was coming, it couldn’t be any more perfect than this. And the person kneeling at her side was the icing on the cake. “Will you marry me, Victoire Gabrielle Weasley?”
She nodded yes before flinging herself at his neck, the tears freely rolling down her cheeks.
Her hand shook as he slipped the illustrious ring on her finger, and they kissed with immense joy.
Her hand felt very heavy under the weight of her engagement ring.
“That’s a nice ring.”
Victoire closed her eyes and flung herself at Lysander, her arms wrapping around his neck. “I’m so sorry. But I love him. I love him, I always have.”
Lysander was silent.
Victoire stepped away from him and stared into his nor green nor brown nor grey nor blue eyes. “You’ll always be my best mate, Lysander. Never forget that.”
Her feet were brushing the carpet as she cruised through it.
“What’s this? Victoire picked up the little ring with the moonstone in the centre. She looked up at him, question marks on her eyes.
Lysander stuffed his hands in his pockets. “It’s for you. Just so you know... I’m always here for you.”
The memories were now changing so fast she barely had time to register them all.
“Will you be my best man?”
“I think that’s too much to ask, don’t you think?
Victoire knitted her eyebrows, hurt. “Why?”
“Because I will not be able to stop myself from standing up and stopping the wedding.”
She shut her eyes close.
“Are you a hundred percent sure that that’s what you want?” Lysander begged her with pleading eyes that were nor green nor brown nor grey nor blue.
“It’s what I want. And if you care for me you’ll understand.”
Her veil flapped against her back.
Victoire woke up, her lashes fluttering. She was mystified for a second before realizing where she was. And then she shut her eyes in shame when she noticed.
She was snuggled up beside Lysander, having been sleeping on the same bed. And even though nothing happened, she couldn’t help but feel bad for him. Felt bad for him and for all the pain she was causing him. And she couldn’t do this to him. Not now when he was finally beginning to be okay with her getting married.
And so she slowly climbed off the bed and left without a glance back –she couldn’t look unless she wanted to turn around and go back to snuggle by his side.
A sob caught in the back of her throat.
"Lysander, where are you going?”
"Don’t leave,” she cried out, frantically looking around for his shape in the darkness. But he had Disapparated, leaving her behind with only her tears as company.
All these sudden memories hit her cold and she realized with a gasp that she was running. She was racing up the aisle, one hand holding up her dress to prevent herself from tripping. Roxanne and Lucy ran behind her holding her tail, wondering what on earth was she doing. The piano had stopped playing and the guests started murmuring loudly, wondering what on earth was going on. Her parents stood up, questioning her with their wide eyes. Some other people did too. But she did not notice. The memories were back, and she just watched them all in equally fast succession as she ran towards Teddy, the man she thought she wanted, and the biggest mistake of her life.
“Is it possible,” Victoire started, looking up at her cousin Rose. “To feel so much stuff for someone that’s only your best mate?”
And she ran.
“You are getting married, Victoire, snap out of it!” Dominique shouted at her, her face red with anger. “He’s gone!”
Her hands were clammy.
“Victoire, are you okay?”
Victoire looked up, putting on her fakest smile that failed to her bloodshot eyes. “Of course.”
Her heart was racing.
She twirled the cheap moonstone ring on her hand.
Her sight was blurry.
“What’s that?” Teddy asked, kissing her neck.
Victoire quickly stuffed the ring in her pocket, her heart pounding fast. “Nothing.”
Her feet were slipping.
She remembered him. She could still remember his touch, his gentle lips on hers. And she missed him.
Her breathing was troubled.
Rose bit her lower lip. “Vic, I don’t think he’s coming to the wedding.”
“I will. I know he will. He can’t just miss out on the most important day of my life.”
The tears were gathering.
“He should be here! HE’S SUPPOSED TO BE HERE! I CAN’T DO THIS WITHOUT HIM!”
“Victoire, just look at me,” Lily instructed, grabbing the sides of her face so she had all her attention set on her. “Think about Teddy. Think about your parents, the bridesmaids’ dresses, the ridiculous anemones, anything! Anything to take your mind off of him.” Lily whipped a stray strand of blond hair away from her face and handed her the bouquet. “Just think. About. The flowers.”
Victoire nodded rapidly, not even stopping to think that she was listening to her thirteen-year-old cousin.
Anemones anemones anemones.
The chapel door swung open. And she fixed her gaze on her bouquet.
And she stopped with a gasp in front of Teddy, her bridesmaids, the best man, and the priest, her chest rising up and down in unison with her jagged breathing. Her beautiful blond bun had loosened up and thick strands of blond hair fell onto her shoulder and her veil was crooked. She shook as she pulled it out and let it drop to the floor.
Everyone just looked at her. They did not yell, didn’t scream, didn’t ask questions, but just stared. The chapel was as silent as a tomb. A tomb where her broken heart rested all mauled and stomped on by a boy younger than her. The same way she did with his heart.
There are always things, you know. Always things you don’t notice until you are right there, in the moment of taking a husband lawfully. People always are saying things like you’ll see your relationship with your groom again as you make your way towards him.
Teddy loved her. That much was clear. But right now she did not know if she loved him.