Chapter 2 : Teddy
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Edited 26/11/11, chapter image by socal @TDA.
But I can't help the feeling
I could blow through the ceiling
If I just turn and run
“Will you be there in the morning?” Lily asked, tugging at the leather jacket he tried to pull on.
“No, love. I have training, remember? That’s why I came by tonight to say bye to the boys.”
“You’ll be around for tea next week still though, yeah?”
Teddy chuckled, ruffling her hair. “ ’Course.”
She smiled, appeased, and waved him off with the rest of the Potter family.
He nodded his goodbyes, and set off towards the gate. He hopped over it with ease, not sparing the moment it would take to open and close it. He caught sight of the family as he landed at the other side, away from them.
He gritted his teeth. Merlin, they looked like something out of a bloody Christmas card. A happy family; the two parents arm in arm, the teenage boys who from a distance both looked exactly like their father, pushing and shoving each other. The little redheaded girl waving the paw of her favourite cat, Apricot. Apricot’s coat was more or less the same colour as Lily’s hair, the colour she had inherited from Ginny, adding to the perfection of the picture. Teddy Lupin never thought he’d feel this way about the Potters.
He normally would have Apparated at the end of the gate; there was no need for secrecy in a wizarding village. Having said that, it was one of those bloody nights around the full moon. He never kept track of the lunar cycle, but he knew when it was full alright. Dear old dad had made sure of that.
On nights like these he walked, or ran. Being outside, pushing his body was the only way to be. He took potions sometimes, but hated relying on them. This was real, he told himself; this was. The pain. There was no escaping it, because it’s who he was.
He rolled his eyes at the picturesque village. It was so phoney, so bloody phoney. He couldn’t believe Harry of all people had bought into this rubbish. Everything was fake and manmade. Stupid muggle garden gnomes sat beside green plastic watering cans; it was the cool new thing to be into muggle stuff.
The shrubs and trees were carefully manicured. They made him sick. This was supposed to be part of nature, but they had ruined it. If asked, he wouldn’t have been able to tell anyone who “they” were, but he knew all the same. The people who lied with nature were the same people who lied with words in the newspaper.
Albus would be starting Hogwarts tomorrow, and Teddy knew there would be some idiot reporter or photographer waiting for the chance to remind everyone how sparkly the world was.
“Hey look”, Teddy muttered to himself bitterly. “Mini Potter is growing up! Gosh, what an amazing world we live in! We aren’t still scarred from the war at all!”
This was the same media that had printed lies about Harry and pretty much everyone else once upon a time, but now they were clearly best friends. Harry now willingly gave interviews to the Daily Prophet, the paper who once condemned him. He said there was a reporter who had been fair to him during his first post-war interview; he used her when he deemed a public statement was necessary. Teddy couldn’t believe it. Necessary, his wand. No doubt he just wanted to remind everyone how great he was, using the hypocrite paper that employed his wife.
Ginny was the mother he had always wished he had, she had basically brought him up even before she was married to Harry. He used to think she was cool, but then like everyone else, she disappointed him. Bad enough she sold out and gave up Quidditch to write for the Prophet, but she helped Harry keep that secret all those years.
The one thing Teddy had always taken comfort in was that his parents were war heroes, like James Potter and Lily Evans. His stomach still turned when he remembered the time when he was sixteen and Harry told him everything. Remus stayed away from Nymphadora for ages, almost making her sick from unrequited love, for his own stupid reasons. He could have taken that, but not the cowardice that followed when he tried to leave her, and his new born son. He didn’t die out of bravery; Teddy thought to himself darkly, he just wanted to be free again. And then his mother, young and brave gave her life along with her husband, not sparing a thought for the son she would leave orphaned.
Harry had lied, Teddy thought, his eyes filling with furious tears. The man who was basically supposed to be his dad had lied. Teddy broke out into a run, his joints burning, but loosening up. Running, even in jeans and his heavy jacket, would help. As he was running, he caught sight of his shoes. Some stupid Muggle brand name Victoire liked, probably.
He almost ran into a wall as he left the town. Merlin, Victoire. He had gotten so good at not thinking about his best friend, the name almost sounded foreign in his head. He had thought of her, obviously, though not by name. He never stopped thinking about her.
She would be leaving for Hogwarts too, her last year. He had heard through the family she had been made Head Girl. She was probably hopping around her girlie, pink bedroom with glee. Another step towards perfection.
She was just like them, only in miniature. He made himself think that, though a voice within him screamed in disagreement, standing up for the girl he grew up with. The girl he had always loved.
But no, he didn’t love her. He couldn’t. He was older than her, like a big brother figure, though this wasn’t why he turned her down, not really.
Teddy didn’t know how it had ended up like this. She had gotten it out of him, why he had been acting so strange lately. He confessed his feelings for her and she had looked like all her dreams had come true at once. He had agonised for years over it; she was two years younger though only one year behind in school, she was basically family. She was his best friend. More than that, she was part of him, which would make everything so much worse when it ended. And it would, he told her, end and end horribly. These things always did.
“I told you not to fall in love with me, Victoire”, he said hollowly. “Not in those words, but I did.”
“Well it’s too bloody late!” she snapped.
He had never seen her so angry. He had known of course, of her crush on him though had done everything to stop it.
She called him a liar, and a hypocrite, taking his favourite catchphrases from his mouth. The cynical words sounded a thousand times harsher in her normally sweet voice. She looked nearly sick with disgust, screeching that he had always told her to be honest and true to her heart, and here he was, doing the opposite.
Teddy thought he would explode. She had wittingly or unwittingly reminded him of his father’s shortcomings.
“Don’t you dare,” he growled. “Ever try to say that to me. You’re as fake as they come, a little dressed up puppet. Do you ever tire of playing their games?” he taunted.
She took a sharp intake of breath. “Don’t start banging on about that again.”
“You don’t have to be who they want you to be, you know.” He said this not out of anger, but of hope. He knew how she strived for perfection in every form; academically, physically, to her friends and family and the outside world. No hair potions or shining smiles could fool him though – she was half of this two part soul they shared.
“Do you have a better answer?” she said, raising her eyebrows.
They hadn’t spoken since then, not really. Before the fight, just at the end of his final year at Hogwarts he’d been bad enough, but the pain had really taken hold after he lost Victoire. She had been the last remaining fortress, the beacon of light. Now everything was dark.
He was a broken man, crumbling and burning, obsessed with what was “real” and “fake”, and most of all “them”.
He had stopped saying her name in his head, stopped using the name that conjured up images of her adoring followers, her plastic smile and the Veela beauty drowned out with cosmetics. But then, as he was now discovering on this dark country road, taking away the name was worse. It made him think of the real Victoire, the one underneath. They Victoire who could save him.
She was the girl with the hair that glowed almost silver in sunlight, the girl who’s feet, her only physical imperfection, were bruised and crushed by her love for dance.
He saw her then, aged four or five, spinning around in her little tutu. After a while she had stopped, and had fallen over and cried, but to Teddy she never stopped. She was still there, consumed by passion, emitting light.
She was plastic now, out of a defensive habit. She couldn’t be the real little girl, for fear it wouldn’t be deemed good enough. The world was watching the eldest Weasley, the girl named after the anniversary of the victory at the Battle of Hogwarts. The name and the weight it carried were crushing her.
He stopped suddenly. Things had been bad before, he had been angry, but nothing like he was now. Victoire, of course, was the answer, it had always been Victoire. Her love would heal this, he was sure of this.
But he had driven her away, with his anger at the world, at his parents and adoptive parents. Harry and Ginny not to blame. His parents had done what they had thought was right. He couldn’t forgive them now, but she could help him start to understand.
Suddenly, he noticed the sun had started rising. It would be morning soon, and he had just been wandering around the countryside lost in thought for the whole night. His train of thought broken, he snapped back to the reality and pain.
No, it wouldn’t do. He was just tired from Auror training, it was taking everything, even his metamorphmagus powers. He was being stupid. He had enough. Turning quickly on the spot, he was back at his grandmother’s house.
Climbing into his bed, he started pulling off his shoes but stopped halfway, not having the energy. He didn’t know how long he lay there, watching the sun come up, but not really seeing it. He felt like he would never be able to move. He would stay here for the rest of his life, only going downstairs when he really needed food or water or whatever. No Auror training, it was pointless anyway. He was failing stealth and concealment, because he was so tired and couldn’t use his powers.
Something dawned on him. One of the Aurors had said something the other day, about his mum. She had lost her powers too for almost a year, two years before she died. She hadn’t lost it because of the trauma of the war, but because of the misery his dad had put her through.
His powers weren’t working because of what had happened with Victoire, it was so simple yet it hadn’t occurred to him. However, there was a difference between he and his mother – his love was not unrequited or thwarted by something outside himself. It was he who wouldn’t let this happen, not Victoire.
Teddy was being as bad as his father, letting Victoire suffer because of his own stubbornness. But he wouldn’t do it to her any longer, he decided. He wouldn’t let her suffer as Nymphadora had suffered, as he was now suffering. He loved her too much.
He sprang to his feet, filled with a different energy than the restlessness that had consumed him last night, something like the energy he had felt at a younger, more simple age. Hours had passed since he had gotten home, she would be leaving her home soon. He’d have to catch her at the train. It had to be today, before he chickened out.
Not even bothering to change his clothes or look in a mirror, he rushed downstairs to leave a note for his grandmother, so she wouldn’t be concerned. He made her worry too much about him of late.
He Apparated to the station, almost flying through the barrier, not caring if Muggles spotted him. He would wait, he convinced himself, until she came along. He would find her and tell her, even if he didn’t have the words.
He didn’t have to wait for long. Of course she was here in plenty of time, doing her usual meet and greet with everyone. She was dressed in a light floating sundress and matching cardigan, making her simple clothes look incredible. He could see other girls looking at her enviously, pulling at their hair and own outfits. She smiled and waved almost regally at everyone who passed. Only Teddy seemed to see the stress she was under, and it made him sick. She was trying even harder than normal to keep it together; he had caused the happiness behind her exquisite eyes.
She had caught sight of him, her face changing slightly before composing herself again. Teddy’s stomach tightened. It was time.
“No red hair?” she teased, dancing up to him. “I thought you always liked to assimilate into the Weasley clan at times like these. Or will you be modeling yourself on Albus for the occasion? At least you have the green-ish eyes already”.
He was frozen, unnable to move. He couldn’t pull her into his mess, could he?
“God, Teddy”, she said, still slightly teasing when he didn’t reply. “Cheer up, you still have Lily to baby. She won’t be leaving the nest for another two years. I’d say they’re nearly here actually.”
But then, she was a mess now herself.
She spun around, apparently looking for the Potters. Several people waved over, complimenting her outfit, congratulating her on Head Girl. She replied enthusiastically before turning to face Teddy again. He still didn’t move, staring at her. She couldn’t honestly believe he was there merely to see them off, could she?
“Gabrielle had me to visit a few weeks ago; she was in ‘Swan Lake’. It was amazing, I got to talk to the choreographer and everything”, she gushed. She was working hard to keep a calm exterior, so that the people surrounding them wouldn’t know what was really going on.
Keeping her happy face firmly in place, she lowered her voice so that she could use her most threatening tone.
“I suggest you start acting your age, Teddy, or people might think you have some sort of problem with me. Now why don’t you do what you came here to do, see Al off, and get out of here.”
“While you’re at it”, she added, in a spiteful voice .“Get some sleep and maybe a shower; that Auror training seems to be taking its toll”.
She shook her blonde hair out of her eyes, turning to walk away, out of his like. He had to stop this. He shot out his hand, catching her elbow, bringing her back to him.
He brushed some hair out of her eyes, looking at her intently, wondering would it be all worth it – the long distance, the chance it wouldn’t work out - but the hope dawning in her eyes encouraged him.
“I’m not here to see Albus off,” he whispered nervously.
She raised her eyebrows slightly, but didn’t respond.
“I haven’t been able to change, you know. I’m failing all my stealth requirements because I rely so much on my power”, he continued, a little faster now, a little rushed. “Harry said the same thing happened to Mum when she fell in love with Dad, but he didn’t want them to be together”.
“I always thought it was stupid that they didn’t just get together as soon as they realized how they felt about each other, and then I realized I’ve been repeating my dad’s mistakes”.
He struggled to get the words out. He took a deep breath. He was turning red from embarrassment, knowing his words probably sounded stupid. He just hoped she didn’t think so. He decided to just say it – those plastic three words that he detested, but were the only three words really appropriate here.
“I love you Vic”, he said quietly, summoning up whatever passion and energy was left. “I just wanted to know that before you left.”
There. He had said it, the truth at last. He didn’t have to wait for long for a reaction and had barely enough time to brace himself as she launched herself into his arms,
And then, without even thinking it through, he kissed her. He kissed her in front of everyone, grabbing fistfuls of her hair as she answered him just as hungrily.
They only parted with the appalled shouts of James Potter, who had obviously wandered up to say hello.
Teddy sent him running with a swear word he hoped wouldn’t be repeated to Ginny or Harry, before turning back to Victoire.
Victoire frowned, hoping this wouldn’t upset Teddy too much. “Sorry Teddy, but there’s no way he’d ever keep that secret”.
Teddy laughed as best he could, shaking his head. “It’s pretty safe to assume most of the adults know, Victoire. Harry and Ginny are well aware at this point”.
“So, you’re ok with that then?” she asked incredulously.
“Yeah”, he said mumbled, sunlight spreading through his unwilling body. “Sorry for being such a git.”
They kissed fervently once more, until she couldn’t delay boarding the train much longer. They promised to write, to see each other when they could, both of them giddy with excitement in a way Teddy could not have imagined a few short hours ago.
She left him then, a changed man. He was no longer crumbling, he was Teddy again. Not everything was bright and shiny again, but with her on his side again he could cope a bit better.
He watched her blush and smile, a true smile at everyone staring at her. He grinned to himself, watching her move towards the train, not noticing her hair had fallen out of her carefully placed clip and her cardigan was around her shoulders. Maybe this year she’d let her image slide and have fun.
Maybe she would learn from him the lesson she was teaching him.
Love is all you need.
Please remember to leave a review if you like this or have any constructive comments. The end is still quite fluffy, and I fear it jumps too much from too angsty to too fluffy – but then, it’s a long day for Teddy!
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