Chapter 1 : Imperfection
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The ring on her finger looked dull and dark in the light, a stark contrast to the gleaming diamond that she’d seen when he’d placed it on her finger. She spun the ring around and around on her finger as her mind mirrored the action, going around and around, always coming back to the same spot.
She turned her head towards the sound, her right hand still clutching the third finger of her left, the ring hidden underneath her thumb.
“Yes, Dom?” She replied, watching as her sister approached, joining her on the bench.
“What are you doing out here?” The younger Delacour-Weasley asked, looking at her sister curiously.
“I’m…” Victoire stalled.
What was she doing outside? Thinking?
Technically, yes, but not about what she should have been thinking about. She’d been thinking about the past, not the future. Her past mistakes were marring what should have been a joyful day.
“I’m just sitting.” She answered lamely, her eyes flicking downwards to the hidden ring.
“Vic, it’s cold, windy and raining. Why choose the front porch as the place to ‘just sit’?” Dominique asked, rolling her eyes at her sister.
Before she could reply, Dominique got up and returned to the warmth of the hallway, leaving her sister outside to ponder.
Victoire sighed, her gaze on the empty road.
Why hadn’t she told her sister that she was engaged? Why wasn’t she happy?
And, above all, why was she thinking of Teddy Lupin when she should have been thinking of her fiancé?
“Will you marry me?”
She looked down at his wide, earnest eyes, the ring in his palm capturing her attention.
She couldn’t answer. She stood, in silence, just staring, watching as he grew more and more uncertain.
“Vic…” He said, rising up from his kneeling position, his eyes full of worry, and love.
“I’m sorry.” She whispered, backing away ever so slightly.
“What?” He said, half thinking he hadn’t heard her, the other half registering the truth, but not believing it.
“I can’t. I’m sorry.” She said, before turning and running, leaving him standing there, the ring still in his palm.
Teddy Lupin stared down at the old ring; still sitting in the same spot he’d shoved it two years ago, after that night. Hidden in its box, stashed under a stack of spare parchment in the top drawer of his desk. A painful reminder of what was never going to happen.
A reminder that Vic had turned him down, and he still had no idea why.
Dominique had told him that she’d mumbled something about ‘wanting to focus on her career’ to her, but he’d never heard the excuse from Victoire herself.
He didn’t hate her for it, far from it. He could never hate her.
He’d always love her.
Teddy and Victoire.
He’d thought they were meant to be, everyone had always said so. Unfortunately, just because everyone thought she’d say yes and they’d live happy every after, it didn’t mean it would happen.
Something he’d found out the hard way.
“Teddy, there’s someone here to see you.”
Teddy turned to see Mark, his friend and fellow Hogwarts Professor smiling at him from the doorway.
“Thanks, Mark.” Teddy said as his friend left, only to be replaced by a young red-headed woman.
“Lily!” Teddy said, smiling at the girl he treated like a younger sister.
“Hi Teddy.” Lily said, attempting a smile that turned out more like a grimace.
“What’s wrong?” Teddy said, ushering Lily into a plush armchair.
“Ted...you’re not going to like this. I can’t stay long, I’ve got Charms in a minute, but I had to tell you this as soon as possible. Dom just owled me, I thought you should hear it from me before-“
Teddy cut her off.
“Lily, what is it?” He said, taking a seat next to her, his eyes wide with concern.
“Steve proposed to Victoire.” She said, bracing herself for his reaction.
Teddy stared, sure he’d heard wrong.
“What?” He gasped, and Lily sighed.
“She said yes, Teddy.” Lily put a hand on his arm, the compassion for her friend plain on her face.
“I’m sorry.” She said, echoing those words that Victoire had said to him that night, two years ago, when she turned him down.
She’d refused to marry him, she’d wanted to wait.
Yet she’d said yes to Steve.
Teddy sat back, pushing Lily’s arm off his own.
“You’d better go, Lily.” He said, moving to stand in front of his window, looking out over the grounds of Hogwarts.
He heard her leave, but didn’t turn around. Lily was in her seventh year, and she often turned to Teddy for advice, as did her brothers Albus and James. He was usually the one consoling her, not the other way round.
He could hardly believe what she’d said. Victoire was supposed to be with him. He was waiting for her, after all! He was waiting for her to come to her senses and realise that he was the one, but instead she’d gone and decided to marry this Steve bloke!
Who was he, anyway?
He, Teddy, had been her best friend since childhood, stuck by her all through Hogwarts, even though they were two years apart and in different houses. It had taken them till the summer before Victoire’s seventh year to begin dating, but once they had, things had gone perfectly.
They’d fought, but never badly. They’d never really discussed marriage, but after four years, Teddy had thought it was the logical next step.
Victoire clearly hadn’t.
After she’d turned him down Teddy had done the only thing he could think of: disappeared. He’d travelled for a year, only returning last year when Neville offered him the post of Transfiguration Professor, since McGonagall had decided to retire.
Since then, he’d been completely avoiding her and anything to do with any Delacour as much as he could. He’d tried to move on, something that probably wasn’t helped by the constant meddling of many of the Weasley/Potter family members.
At last count, he’d been sent on fifteen blind dates with ‘family friends’ in the past year. All, of course, had failed because he only had eyes for one woman.
“Teddy Lupin! Give that back RIGHT NOW!”
Eight year old Victoire Weasley chased after her friend, a small boy whose hair today matched the colour of the sky.
“Come get it, Vic.” Teddy replied, sticking his tongue out at her before he resumed running along the beach next to Shell Cottage.
“I hate you!” She screamed after him, trying with all her might to run faster, the sand whipping up around her feet.
“Really, Vic? I bet it says something different in here!” Teddy taunted, waving her diary around in the air.
“Don’t you dare read that!” Victoire screeched, finally reaching him, tackling him to the ground.
“Ugh, Vic, get off me.” He said, pushing her off and sitting up, her diary still firmly in his grasp.
“Give it back!”
Victoire reached forward with one hand for the diary only to stop, her eyes watching the book’s process as it flew across the sand, landing several metres away from the force of Teddy’s throw.
Victoire immediately got up and pelted after it, flicking sand into Teddy’s face as it went.
“S’alright, Vic. I didn’t read it.” He said, shaking sand out of his hair.
“You better not have.” She said, hugging the precious diary to her chest.
Teddy rolled his eyes.
“Vic, we’re best friends. I would never read your diary. Promise.” He said, holding out his hand for her to shake.
She reluctantly took it, the diary safe in her other hand, her eyes narrowing at him.
“Okay.” She said, before smiling at her friend.
“Just don’t steal it again.” She said, sitting down on the sand.
“Sure.” He replied, sitting next to her.
They were both quiet for the moment, the only sound the gentle crashing of the waves.
“Teddy! Victoire! Where are you?”
Victoire rolled her eyes before answering.
“We’re down here, Mum.” She called back, quickly standing up and dusting herself off.
“Mum will flip if she sees us all dirty.” She said, and Teddy quickly copied her actions, brushing the sand off his jeans.
They approached the house, the cries of baby Dominique filling the air.
“Aunt Ginny!” Victoire exclaimed upon seeing the red headed lady standing in the kitchen, running up and throwing her arms around her aunt.
“Hello dear.” Ginny said, smiling fondly at Victoire.
Teddy looked on, not quite able to shake the feeling of being an outsider. Whilst Harry and Ginny loved him dearly, he wasn’t a Weasley.
“C’mon Teddy, it’s time to get you back to Andromeda.” Ginny said, extending her hand to him.
“Bye, Vic.” Teddy said as he passed her, the diary still tightly clutched in her hand.
“I’ll see you Sunday, Fleur!” Ginny called over her shoulder, only to be answered with Dominique’s cries.
Victoire watched as the two of them stepped into the emerald flames, disappearing from sight, only just catching the wink Teddy sent over his shoulder as they departed. She smiled slightly, looking down at her diary fondly, before grimacing as the sound of her mother, cursing angrily in French, reached her ears.
“What did you do to Vic?”
Teddy looked up to see a tall, blonde woman standing before him, her hands on her hips. He couldn’t help the slight skip of his heart when he saw the figure; it took him a moment to realise it was Dominique, not Victoire, who stood before him.
“Nothing. Well, not in the last two years, anyway.” He replied, his voice flat.
He’d been content, wallowing in self-pity and loathing Steve, who he’d never even met. It seemed easier to blame someone when you could picture them as an ineloquent, rude, disgusting, inappropriate and insufferable opponent.
He’d almost convinced himself that Victoire had been conned into saying yes. At least, he’d been thinking that until Dominique had arrived.
Dom snorted at his response.
“C’mon, Teddy. Something’s up with her, and she’s not talking. Even if you didn’t do something – which, in my opinion, is very doubtful – you know her the best.” She said, sitting herself down in one of his chairs without invitation.
“What exactly is wrong with her?” He asked, unable to keep himself out of anything remotely to do with Victoire.
As much as he was physically avoiding her, he couldn’t completely cut himself out of her life. Though that would probably change, since she’d clearly moved on.
To Steve, the idiotic, stupid, ugly-
“She hasn’t left her room, except to eat. She announced the happy news to us yesterday morning, Steve showed up and all for that event, and then she locked herself away. I don’t understand her at all. Shouldn’t she be out celebrating with her new fiancé?”
Dominique, like the rash, self-absorbed person she was, hadn’t had one thought about how this topic would affect him. The last thing he wanted to discuss was Victoire’s feelings about her engagement.
Though, if what Dominique said was true, he wasn’t entirely opposed to it.
“She’s not talking to anyone? Unless absolutely necessary?” He asked, leaning forward on his desk.
“What’s it mean? You know what’s going on with her, don’t you? Is she pregnant? Oh, if she is, Mum’s going to go mental!” Dominique said, excited at the prospect of her sister making a mistake.
Teddy, well used to Dominique’s rambling and habit of blurting out anything that crossed her mind, swiftly blocked the notion of a Victoire/Steve bundle of joy out of his mind, instead focusing on the one thing that might make things better.
“No, Dom, nothing like that.” He said, choosing his words carefully.
“When she stays by herself like that, it usually means she needs space to think. I wouldn’t try harassing her about it, it won’t help. Though surely you know that? You are her sister, after all.”
Dominique glared at him.
“There are some moments where I’m positive we aren’t related at all. If it weren’t for the blonde hair, I’d swear I was adopted. I don’t understand her or Mum at all.” Dominique said huffily, sticking her nose up slightly, a habit of hers.
“Anything else?” She queried, quickly focusing her attention back to the mystery of Victoire.
“Look, Dom, I probably shouldn’t be the go-to person about Victoire-“
“Oh, shut it. What is it?” She said, leaning forward, her eyes gleaming.
Teddy sighed, keeping his face impassive.
There was no use in letting the whole family know he still had hope for his relationship with Victoire.
“I think she’s rethinking the engagement.”
Victoire heard her sister arrive home, but she didn’t move from the confinements of her room. Her bedspread, the same one she’d had since she was fifteen, was worn, the colours faded, yet comforting.
Shell Cottage had been her childhood home, but this was the place that saw her grow and change through her teenage years, the place that held precious memories of her first kiss, of receiving her Head Girl letter, of numerous fashion disasters and many tears.
Her apartment now, in central London, didn’t feel like a home at all.
Which was why she’d chosen this room to wallow in the past few days. However, it was getting to the point where she’d have to return to the apartment just to avoid Dominique.
“Vic? I know you’re in there. I want to talk to you.”
Speak of the devil. Dominique kept talking, rambling on about feelings and cookies, but the only thing Victoire heard was the mention of Teddy. She froze slightly, terrified that her sister had made the connection between her lack of excitement about the engagement and her ex-boyfriend.
She quickly gathered the few things that were necessary and Disapparated to the apartment, leaving her sister knocking on her door.
She appeared in the messy living room, dumping her bag on the table by the door, ignoring the many out of place objects lying about. She’d never been one for tidiness.
She was halfway through pouring herself a glass of (admittedly cheap) wine when a knock on the door startled her.
“Dom, go away!” Victoire shouted in the general direction of the front door, taking the glass and heading to her bedroom.
“It’s me, Vic.”
She froze halfway between the kitchen and her bedroom, the bottle of wine in one hand and the wine glass in the other, tipping precariously.
Before she fully realized what she was doing, she was at the door, opening it to reveal his face.
“I heard.” He said, and that was all she needed.
She stepped back, letting him into the apartment, a space he’d never visited.
She’d bought it a couple of months after he’d left, so he’d never had the chance.
“Why are you here, then?” She asked, unable to stop herself from wondering.
She’d half expected him to stay hidden at Hogwarts once he heard about her and Steve. Turning up at her apartment was not on her list of ‘Possible Scenarios That Could Lead to An Encounter With Teddy’.
“Why?” He asked, turning to face her, his eyes wide with honesty and yearning.
She closed her eyes, breathing deeply. Her grip tightened around the wine glass unconsciously.
“I don’t know.” She replied truthfully, looking at her feet.
“You don’t know?” He said incredulously, and she could feel his eyes on her.
“No.” She whispered, placing the wine bottle down on the table, still avoiding his eyes.
“Why’d you say no to me?”
That was it. The question she’d hoped she’d never be asked, because the answer…the answer was scary.
Steve, saying yes to Steve had seemed like an escape, an easy solution, that perfect happy ending everyone wanted. He was perfect, really, all any woman could want.
Except, of course, for her.
She wanted the marriage. She wanted to be married, to have what the ring on her finger represented. Unfortunately, she’d never have that, because she’d turned him down.
“I was afraid. I wasn’t ready, I didn’t want to be married.” She said quietly, taking a seat on the white couch, staring at the ring on her finger absentmindedly.
“I wanted to just live a bit, you know? And then you go and leave, and I stayed here, stuck. I missed you, every single day. Do you know how many times I went to write a letter?”
Victoire sighed, and Teddy remained frozen, staring at her.
“And then Steve came along, offering everything I’d turned down with you. You see, I eventually stopped being an idiot and realized it didn’t matter if I was young, if I wanted to live a bit. I could do that whilst being married. Hell, you wanted to have an adventure, that’s why you up and left.”
“Steve was just…there. He loves me, he wants to marry me. The thing is…I want marriage. I just don’t want it with him.”
She twisted the ring around her finger again, watching the light reflect off the diamond. She remembered the ring Teddy had bought; it was more elegant, less flashy and showy.
This ring, Steve’s ring, was just as false as her feelings for him.
It’d just taken her an incredibly long time to realise. Too long.
“I’m an idiot, Teddy. It took me years to realise I shouldn’t have turned you down. It’s taken me months to realise that I don’t feel anything for Steve. I was fooling myself. God, I’m an idiot.”
She took a large gulp of her wine, a tear rolling down her cheek. She felt him sit down next to her, but didn’t react.
“I know you, Vic. We’ve been friends for years. But I didn’t realise, either. I could never figure out why you turned me down. I should have realised that you were too young. You’re two years younger than me, that’s easy to forget.”
“Two years isn’t much.” Victoire mumbled, staring at her glass intently.
“No, it isn’t. That’s not my point.” Teddy said, running a hand through his hair, today a mahogany colour.
“Vic, I was just as much of an idiot as you. I should have stayed; we could have still been a couple, waited a few years.”
They both sat, Victoire looking at her glass, Teddy at his knees. It was a few minutes before either spoke.
“Do you still love me, Ted?” She said, breaking the silence, her eyes finding his, seeking the truth.
“Yes.” He said simply, his eyes full of longing.
She smiled sadly at his reply, as his eyes brightened with the spark of an idea.
“You said you want marriage. That’s why you’re with Steve.” Teddy said, watching Victoire wince at the mention of her fiancé .
“Yes.” She said, watching him carefully.
“Then marry me. Screw the past. We were both idiots. I should have stayed; you took a while to figure out what you want. That’s all fine. Just say yes now, and we’ll be where we should have been all along.”
Victoire looked at him, surrounded by the clutter of her apartment, a half empty glass of wine in front of her. He was Teddy, her friend since childhood, the only man she’d ever really loved.
“How do we tell Steve?” She said, the corner of her mouth twisting into a smile despite of everything.
Teddy’s face broke out in a grin, sobered only slightly at the mention of Steve.
“How do we tell everyone?” He countered, and she laughed slightly, unable to banish the images of her family when the news came out.
It wasn’t entirely conventional, the way they’d done things, and Steve had certainly drawn the short stick. But who ever said that this would end perfectly?