Chapter 2 : The Leaky Cauldron
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Victoire held a red and green plaid skirt up and examined herself in the mirror. “Decorating a Christmas tree?” the mirror asked nastily.
She sighed and tossed it to join the trousers and shirts that already lay on her bed. “Shut up.” She bent down to pick up the skirt that had slipped off the large pile on her chair and onto the floor, and a knock sounded at the door. She jumped in surprise and fell into the chair. The clothing cascaded to the floor. “Nice,” she muttered to herself. “Come in!”
The door opened, and Victoire looked up. Her sister was standing in the doorway and surveying the scene with a look of utter bemusement. “V, what on earth are you doing? Tell me you’re not packing to go back to school already, we’ve still got a week left!”
“What?” Victoire paused in the act of throwing several shirts onto the chair and looked around, realizing for the first time exactly how many clothes were strewn about the room. “Oh. No, of course I’m not.”
Dominique closed the door behind her and perched on the edge of Victoire’s bed. “Then what are you doing?”
Victoire considered this. A couple years ago, she would have made a joke or hedged if Dominique had asked her that, but now her sister was only a few months away from turning fifteen and significantly less likely to view dating as ridiculous. “I think I have a date tomorrow night,” she admitted.
Dominique’s face lit up with interest. “With who?” she asked.
Victoire picked a skirt up off the pile on the chair, decided that it was too long for a first date, and tossed it to the growing pile on her bed. Dominique ducked, allowing it to soar over her head. “Teddy.”
Dominique’s jaw dropped. “Teddy Lupin?”
“Do we know another Teddy?” Victoire asked testily.
Dominique shook her head. “Wow,” was all she could muster up. Victoire was about to congratulate herself on shutting her sister up, which had become very difficult to do, when Dominique recovered from her surprise and began to talk again. “Since when do you like him?”
Victoire had been asking herself that same question quite a lot lately. She certainly hadn’t always liked him—after all, she’d known him when they were children. She hadn’t even liked him since she’d started to become interested in boys in her fourth year. No, this was fairly recent.
She thought it was, anyway.
The trouble was, there hadn’t been one moment where she’d transitioned from having completely platonic feelings toward him to being interested in him—or if there had been a moment, she hadn’t noticed it. It seemed like in stories, there was always an identifiable moment where a person became attracted to someone else, but that hadn’t been her experience at all.
She was glad for that. The instant attraction had always felt rather cheap to her.
“I’m not sure,” she admitted.
Dominique considered that. “I suppose that makes sense,” she said. “I like Teddy. He’s not a bad choice, for a boy.”
Victoire hid a smile. Her sister had never really understood the appeal of boys. “I agree.”
“Does he like you?” Dominique pressed.
Victoire shrugged. “I guess we’ll see, but given that he asked me out, it seems likely.”
Dominique crossed her arms. “He’d better. He’ll never find anyone half as good as you are.”
Her sister proceeded to ruin the feel-good sisterly moment by making a face at the skirt Victoire was holding up and saying, “Oh, no, V, you can’t wear that.”
Victoire looked back at her reflection. The mirror was quiet, which was saying something, and she rather liked this shade of blue. “Why not?”
Dominique was regarding the skirt as though it might bite. “It looks like the bastard stepsister of Manchester City’s new home jersey.”
Victoire did not think she would ever understand her sister’s obsession with football. “Why does that matter?”
“Because Manchester City are the spawn of Satan.”
Victoire was curious about what made Manchester City the spawn of Satan, but not curious enough to subject herself to the long explanation she knew her sister would give. “So what do you recommend I wear?” she asked in exasperation.
Dominique considered that. “Just wear your red skirt,” she suggested.
“So what did you want in the first place?” Victoire asked, surveying the clothes scattered all over her room with some disgust and dreading the task of having to clean it up.
“Wellllll…” Dominique drew out the word. “Hannah and I really, really want to go see the Arsenal game tonight, and we have three tickets, and Mum said she’d take us only something’s come up at work, and they won’t let us go alone, and I was wondering…” She gave Victoire a very hopeful look.
Victoire sighed. Of course it would be football. Dominique had been obsessed with the sport since her friend Hannah's father, who was a muggleborn, had taken them to a game for Hannah's sixth birthday. “You were wondering if I’d take you.” Dominique’s face fell a little at the tone of her voice, and Victoire suddenly felt the onslaught of guilt that only her siblings could seem to evoke. “All right, Domi. I’ll take you.”
Dominique’s face lit up and she launched herself off the bed. “Thank you!” she squealed, throwing her arms around Victoire. “You’re the best sister ever.”
“Until the next time you get annoyed at me, you mean.”
Dominique shook her head violently. “I will never be annoyed with you ever again,” she promised.
Victoire somehow doubted this.
When she got to the Leaky Cauldron the next evening, Teddy was already sitting at a table in a corner with a drink in front of him. He appeared to have tired of the blond hair he’d been sporting all summer, because tonight it was a bright blue. She was not entirely sure, but she thought his eyes widened a little when he saw her.
“You look great,” he said when she slipped into the seat across from him.
She felt her face get red and looked down at her dress. “Thanks.” She hesitated. This was so ludicrous. She’d spent so much time with Teddy before. Why was she getting tongue-tied now? “How are you?”
“How are you?” he asked at the same time. They laughed, and he gestured to her.
“I’m fine.” Now that she was closer to him, she could see that his sudden taste for blue had extended to his eyes as well – they were a bright blue that looked strange and unnatural. It wasn’t her favorite of his many experiments, but she was glad that at least he’d grown out of changing his nose. It had made him very difficult to recognize. “Guess what I did last night?”
“Solved the riddle of the sphinx.” Teddy was incapable of not giving some answer to questions that were posed to him, even though his answers to those questions were frequently ridiculous.
“Took Dominique and Hannah Randall to a football game.”
He stared at her. “Are you serious?”
She nodded. “During half-time, they started scheming about starting a football tournament at school this year.”
Teddy snorted. “Of course they were. What’s a half-time?”
Victoire missed the days when she had been too ignorant about football to answer that question. “Football games have a short break in the middle.”
He tried to wrap his mind around that for a minute before giving up. “Weird. So how did you get roped into that?”
“Domi came in and begged me yesterday afternoon while I was—” she stopped herself. She was not keen to admit how much time she’d spent thinking about her outfit, but nothing came to mind. His eyebrows rose a little. “—reading,” she finished lamely.
“Really?” he asked pleasantly, meeting her gaze. “Reading?”
Victoire looked away. She spied several of her friends sitting on the other side of the room – she could just make out Micah’s blond curls over the back of the booth, and she recognized Lexy’s Ballycastle Bats jacket hanging off the empty chair.
“Do you want us to go and join your friends?” She started and looked back at Teddy. His face was perfectly blank. She hated it when he did that. “I don’t mind.”
Victoire did not know if he was testing her or if he really didn’t mind. “No,” she said, hoping that the smile she was giving him made her look at-ease rather than like a bundle of nerves. “I’m here with you.”
Whether or not he had been testing her – and she suspected that he hadn’t been, because that wasn’t really Teddy’s style – her answer seemed to please him, because his mouth turned up a little at the corners as he stared into his drink.
“Any reason you’re suddenly obsessed with blue?” she asked, as much to break the silence as anything.
He shrugged. “I felt like a change.” He studied her face. “Why? Do you not like it?”
“The eyes aren’t my favorite,” she admitted. “I like the hair, though.”
He screwed up his face. When he opened his eyes, they were a deep chocolate brown, and before she could stop herself, she let out an admiring sigh. “I take it you like this, then?” he teased.
“Yes,” she said, feeling her face get hot and wishing that she could kick herself. “I do.” If she was going to be blushing, she wanted him to be, too. “It’s my favorite on you.”
If she hadn’t been sitting across the table from him and paying close attention to his face, she definitely would not have caught the slight widening of his eyes this time. It occurred to her – and not for the first time – that he really would be an excellent spy. He always seemed to have such amazing control over his expressions. He pushed his chair back abruptly. “Let me go and get you a drink,” he said. “Anything in particular you want?”
“Surprise me.” She watched him walk up to the bar. Given the poor lighting of the Leaky Cauldron, it was hard to be sure, but she thought that the back of his neck looked red.
Of course, it was just as likely to be wishful thinking on her part. He could usually keep his face from getting red when he was under pressure or embarrassed, but for some reason, the back of his neck usually got red instead. Victoire did not understand it, any more than she understood why her cousin’s Rose’s ears always seemed to turn red when she was angry, but she would have loved to think that he felt under pressure right now.
She looked around the room. The Leaky Cauldron was a very different place in the evening than it was during the day. Most of the shops were closed, so there were far fewer people going through, and none of them seemed to be children. The place itself was not what Victoire would call crowded, exactly, but it certainly seemed to be fairly popular.
She wondered how often Teddy came here to drink.
She also wondered how that night was going to end, and she felt a pleasant shiver of anticipation slide up her spine.
“Try this.” Teddy slid a shot glass in front of her, and she jumped. “You’re a little twitchy tonight,” he commented.
She shook her head to clear it. “Sorry, Teddy. I was just…”
“Thinking?” he finished for her. She nodded, and he grinned. “Has anyone ever told you that you think to much?”
“Fred. Frequently.” That made him laugh. Victoire liked Teddy’s laugh. She had always liked Teddy’s laugh. It was full and relaxing and infectious all at once. She picked the glass up. “What is it?”
“Pear cider. It’s one of my favorites.” She took a sip, and he raised his eyebrows in question.
She took another sip. “Yes, please.” She handed him the glass.
He grinned again and went back to the bar.
She liked his smile, too. It was just like his laugh. It had occurred to her as she made her way over to the Leaky Cauldron that evening that on the basis of his smile and laugh alone, it would be easy to fall in love with him.
She was very glad that no one had been around to observe that thought. She was aware that it was terribly sappy.
He set a full glass in front of her and returned to his seat. “Happy second drink at the Leaky Cauldron,” he said, raising his glass. She tipped hers to it before taking a drink. She wasn’t sure if it was the company or the drink that was giving her such a warm sensation in her chest, but either way, she liked it.
“So,” Teddy said, leaning forward. His blue hair fell into his face, and he brushed it back. “You’ve definitely been told that you think too much. Has anyone ever told you that it’s really very attractive?”
She forced herself to swallow the cider in her mouth. It was only with a concentrated effort that she pulled it off. She did not fancy the idea of choking because he’d asked her a question that she hoped would lead to exactly what she wanted.
“Since it’s usually my cousin who tells me that I think too much, no, I don’t think so,” she said. She had meant to keep her voice calm, but she could hear the waver in it.
“That’s good. That means I’ll be the first.” He caught her gaze and held it. She was not sure she could have looked away if she tried. They were really such a perfect shade of brown. “You think too much. And it is very, very attractive.”
Victoire was seized with the sudden desire to reach across the table, sink her fingers into his hair, and kiss him until he felt as disoriented as she did.
But that would knock over their drinks, and she really was enjoying the cider very much.
“So are your eyes,” she said, and immediately wanted to kick herself. What a stupid, stupid thing to say. Honestly, what was she, a fourth year?
His eyes twinkled. “Glad to hear it.” He lifted his glass again, but before he drank, he said, “You know, even when you think you sound lame, the people being complimented are usually pretty happy with it.” When he lowered his glass, he smiled at her again. She really did love his smile, and she was glad that he used it so often. “Personally, a beautiful girl telling me that she finds my eyes attractive puts a bright spot in my day.”
“Am I beautiful?” she asked before she could stop herself. She had never really thought of herself as such. That wasn’t to say that she thought she was ugly, or even plain – she didn’t. She had always thought of herself as fairly attractive. Beautiful just seemed like such a strong word.
He looked surprised, but he didn’t seem to think that she was digging for compliments – which she was quite grateful for, because she definitely wasn’t. “I’ve always thought so,” he said, shrugging. “Well, not always—” He paused. “You know what I mean.”
Victoire did not especially want to embarrass him, but she was not actually sure what he meant, and she was very curious about it. “I don’t, actually.”
Teddy took a very generous sip from his glass, and she took a smaller sip from hers. “Will you think I’m horribly creepy if I say since about halfway through your fourth year?” he asked, looking rather uncomfortable.
She considered that. She wasn’t exactly surprised, since Fred had basically said that he suspected it, and Fred was usually right about these things. And in truth, she wasn’t especially creeped out, either. There really wasn’t that big an age difference between them, and she didn’t understand why he would be so bothered by it.
“No,” she said. “I’m not sure why you think it’s so creepy, actually.”
He wrinkled his nose and drained the rest of his glass. “I’m going to go get another drink.”
She watched him as he returned to the bar, ordered another drink, and lay some gold on the counter. It really was a puzzle, especially considering that both of them had been born to parents with a fairly significant age difference between them.
When he returned, she raised her eyebrows at him. “I’m waiting.”
He sighed and took another large sip. “Well, for one thing, I was always horribly offended when my yearmates made comments about you, which makes me a bit of a hypocrite.”
“You mean someone besides Adam Kennet said something?” she asked.
Teddy snorted. “Fred told you about that one, huh?”
“When we were waiting for you the other day.”
He looked up at the ceiling. “Yes,” he said after a minute. “You are beautiful, smart, and funny. Of course someone besides Adam said something.”
Victoire was rather surprised by that. It wasn’t as though she had never been asked out, because she had, and she’d certainly had a couple boyfriends, but she’d never had the sense that she was especially popular. “I didn’t know that,” she said after a moment.
Teddy smiled ruefully. “My friends might have ended up with the impression that I’d be very unhappy with them if they started going out with you.” At this point, even he couldn’t stop his cheeks from getting a little red. “Sorry.”
She shrugged. “I don’t especially care,” she said. “I’m quite happy with where I am right now.”
He studied her. “What, single?” he asked, the grin back on his face and the blush fading as though it had never existed at all.
“I thought I was on a date right now,” she said, suddenly tired of the game. “Am I not?”
Teddy laid his over hers very tentatively, as though he were afraid she might snatch it away. “V, if you want this to be a date, I am ecstatic to call it one.”
“What, was that not what you intended?” she asked, starting to feel a little annoyed.
He considered that for a moment. “That was certainly what I hoped.” He paused at the sound of movement. They both looked around, and Victoire saw that her friends in the booth had gotten up to leave. When the group started to move toward the door, several of them winked at Victoire or gave her a not-so-subtle thumbs up. She glanced at Teddy, and was glad to see that he looked amused.
“About time,” Micah called before closing the door behind him. “She’s been pining after you, you know.”
Victoire groaned and covered her face with her free hand. “Thanks, Micah,” she muttered.
When she looked up, Teddy had his head cocked to the side. “You’ve been pining after me, have you?” he asked. She could tell that he was hiding a smile.
“Only a bit.” He looked skeptical, and she groaned. “Okay, fine, more than a bit, but you can’t talk.”
He laughed, and she closed her eyes. She would be perfectly happy to spend hours listening to him laugh. She did not ever intend to admit that to anyone. “No, I suppose I can’t,” he agreed. He glanced at her nearly-empty glass. “Are you about finished?”
She picked it up and swallowed the rest of it. He did the same. “Yes,” she said. “Where do you want to go now?”
He considered that. “Let’s go for a walk,” he suggested. “There’s a nice park on the other side of Diagon Alley.”
Victoire thought about that. She had been hoping that he would suggest going back to his flat. It had a beautiful view of the city, and at this point, she really wanted to be alone with him.
Teddy made a face. “You want to go back to my flat, don’t you,” he said. It was not really a question, but she answered it anyway.
“Haven’t you ever heard that patience is a virtue?” he asked.
“Of course.” She pushed her hair behind her ears, and actually saw him swallow. Fred had definitely been right. She made a mental note to thank him later. “It’s just not one of mine.”
He pushed his chair back and got up. “Well, it’s good for you,” he said, holding out his hand. She took it and allowed him to pull her up out of her seat. “And it is one of my virtues,” he added as they made their way toward the door.
She opened it, and he tapped a different brick than the one that would let into Diagon Alley. The archway swelled, and they stepped through it.
She looked around. There were trees surrounding the edges of the park, and a pond in the middle. She had never seen this place before. She hadn’t even known it existed. He held out his hand, and she took it. They began to make their way to the edge of the water. “This is beautiful,” she breathed. There were just enough of the balls of light hovering above them to see, but not enough to obscure the stars. She had no idea where this was, but did not see how it could be in the center of London.
But then, that was what magic was for, wasn’t it?
She waited for him to say something else, or to make another move, but Teddy seemed perfectly happy to just be walking with her. “Why are you being so…” she searched for the word, and came up blank, but he seemed to know what she was talking about.
“That’s just how I am,” he said, shrugging. “And I still feel a little weird about this.”
“So you don’t want to bother?” she demanded, and he laughed.
“Not what I said, V.” He stopped her. “You know, you’re a very prickly person sometimes.”
She sighed. That was something that she got told a lot. “Sorry.”
He shook his head. “I like it.” Victoire had a very hard time believing that anyone liked her temper, but chose not to argue with him. He brushed some of her hair back from her face. “I like it a lot.” For a moment, she thought he was going to kiss her, but he turned away and continued to walk down the path. When she glanced up at him, he was smiling. “Patience is a virtue,” he said playfully, but when he turned to look up at the stars in the sky, she saw that back of his neck was bright red.
That made her feel better. “Are you going to kiss me tonight?” she asked. She was a little surprised at what a difference knowing that she wasn’t just a pathetic schoolgirl with an unreturned crush made for her confidence.
Or maybe it was the alcohol. What was it that Chloe had always called it? Liquid courage?
It was probably most likely that it was both.
She could actually see him swallow. “I’m not sure.”
“Would it make you feel any better if I kissed you first?”
He thought about that for a moment. As they neared the pond, she could see his smile. “Yes.”
They stopped by the water’s edge. Staring out over it, she wondered how it was that she had never even heard of this place. It was lovely.
She let go of his hand and turned to him. “I like your smile,” she said.
Teddy blinked. “Thank you,” he said, looking a little taken aback. “I was not expecting you to say that.”
Victoire leaned up and brushed her lips against his. When she pulled back, he looked as though someone had hit him over the head with something exceedingly heavy.
“I should have been expecting that,” he said after a moment. “But somehow it still surprised me.” She was wondering if she would have to initiate the next kiss to when he lifted a hand to her cheek. “Next question,” he said softly. “Am I creepy if I tell you I love you?”
At this point, Victoire rather wanted to kick him. Words could be said in letters. “So kiss me,” she suggested.
He lowered his head and took her advice.
Any lingering doubts that he really did have feelings for her immediately disappeared. So did the small part of her that had worried that she wouldn’t like kissing him. Right now, she would have been happy if they never stopped.
A/N: This was originally written for megan2u's Back to School Challenge. I hope you enjoyed it.
I have several other Teddy/Victoire fics: two one-shots (In a Brown Study, Fortune Favors the Bold, and Cloud Nine) and a WIP short story (The Dark Side of the Moon). If you enjoyed this, consider checking them out, too!
I would of course greatly appreciate any reviews if you feel inclined to leave one. :) Thank you so much for reading!