Chapter 1 : One
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Gorgeous CI by amoretti. @ TDA!
“I never thought it would end like this.”
Teddy Lupin was lying face-down in the dewy grass, and Victoire Weasley was kneeling on top of him with her wand stuck into the flesh at the back of his neck. Two words would cause instant death.
It was a cold, still, black night. The only light came from the stars that watched somberly from above. Victoire’s heart pounded in her chest. Her throat felt tight; constricted. She hated the people who had done this to Teddy, who had taken all the sadness and the angry things in him and used them to turn him into a monster.
“It doesn’t have to, Teddy,” said Victoire hoarsely - she was out of breath from the chase. “I don’t want to kill you. You know that.”
Teddy laughed humorlessly. “Yeah, I know, Vic. But I’d rather die than be locked up.”
Victoire closed her eyes, fighting tears. “Teddy, please. Let me take you to Azkaban. Come quietly.”
“And where’s the dignity in that, Vic?” said Teddy, his voice muffled by the ground. “I’d rather die. Maybe I’ll meet my mum and dad. Maybe they’ll be proud of me.”
Proud of you? Now the tears were streaming down Victoire’s face. Keeping her wand steady against the back of Teddy’s head, she leaned down and buried her face in his hair, sobbing. Proud of you?
A gentle wind stirred Victoire's hair.
“Quickly, Vic,” said Teddy. “Quickly. They’re coming. They can’t see you hesitate."
Victoire kissed his hair again and again, not caring. She wondered if Teddy could tell that she was crying. Probably – Teddy always knew when it came to Victoire. That was why she had loved him so much, all those years ago: without a word, Teddy always knew exactly what she needed.
“Quickly,” said Teddy again. “They’re coming.”
Victoire could hear the distant, rustling sounds of footsteps. They were coming. Victoire was all out of time. She straightened up, pressing her wand deeper into Teddy’s skin.
“I wish I could go back with you,” said Teddy wistfully, watching students stream off of the Platform into the red steam engine into the bright blue sky. “The real world is so scary, Vic.”
Victoire squeezed his hand. “You’re going to do just fine out there.”
Teddy smiled down at her. “I’ll miss you like hell, though.”
Victoire stared into his eyes, trying to capture their beautiful, clear brown color in her memory. It was Victoire’s favorite eye-color on Teddy – the one he had been born with; the one she had seen on his father in old photographs. Teddy always wore it when he was with Victoire.
“I’ll see you at Christmas,” Victoire reassured him. “And Easter. And I’ll write to you.”
“Every week,” said Teddy gravely. “Or I’ll storm the castle.”
Victoire laughed. “It feels weird that you’re not coming back.”
“No kidding,” agreed Teddy. His eyes flickered nervously around the Platform as he leaned in to kiss Victoire’s cheek. But Victoire wasn’t having any of his “tastefulness” bullocks, not when they were about to part ways for the first time in two months: she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him full on the mouth, trying to absorb as much of his warmth as possible. Teddy’s arms slid obligingly around Victoire’s waist, strong and steadying. Even before they had fallen in love, Teddy had always been a constant in Victoire's life, a reliable, friendly presence that she knew she could count on.
James’s loud voice interrupted the kiss. Then Teddy was yelling at James to piss off, and Victoire was laughing, and both of their faces were as red as the steam engine waiting ominously on the Platform.
And then, what seemed like second later, Victoire’s face was pressed up against the glass window, her breath fogging up the glass. The train began to move, slowly at first, but gaining speed. Victoire’s eyes were locked on Teddy’s. She could have recognized him by his eyes alone, even in that sea of parents and siblings. She could recognize those eyes anywhere.
She didn’t want to let go of them, but the wheels rolled on. Victoire had to fight to keep tears out of her own eyes. She wouldn't have been able to keep from crying if she had known that she wouldn't see Teddy again for five years.
Teddy smiled up at her as he slid out of view.
Victoire stepped out of the fire, brushing dust and ashes out of her long hair.
“Weasley!” Dunmore stumbled over to Victoire and reached up to clap her on the shoulder. His graying hair was even messier than usual, and his thin, angular face looked like it had been to Hell and back. “Thank Merlin. You’re the last one here and we were starting to think…”
In portentous silence, Dunmore led Victoire into the small kitchen of his London flat – which looked even smaller than usual at the moment, as it was packed full of witches and wizards. Victoire’s coworkers nodded at her in greeting, looking relieved to see her but otherwise exhausted.
“There’s been another murder,” announced Dunmore to his team, wringing his hands. “I’m sure you’ve all seen it in the paper. Quentin Dirge, thirty, Junior Assistant to the Minister. Though it doesn’t say it in the Prophet, he was found deep in the woods by a group of Muggle hikers. It looks like he was killed with the Avada Kedavra, and then ripped to shreds – same as the last two murders.”
Victoire was almost too worried to be sorry for Quentin Dirge, until she remembered that she had met him on her first day at the Ministry. He had helped her find her desk in the Auror office. She remembered his kind blue eyes, and felt like crying – but Aurors weren’t supposed to cry.
“So. The Junior Assistant to the Minister is dead. The Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot is dead. The Head of the Being Division of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures is dead.” Dunmore fired off the names mercilessly, unfeelingly. Aurors couldn't afford to have feelings. “The only real connection seems to be their high-ranking Ministry positions, which points toward a political motive.”
“Maybe it’s some bigot who doesn’t like the reforms,” suggested Adamina Moffat from the corner of the room.
“Possibly,” said Dunmore. “The simulation of a werewolf attack would be a nice touch, if the murderer were trying to throw blame onto werewolves and part-humans…”
“Hey, Dunmore, mate,” said Ian Oakley. “With all due respect, why the hell are we in your kitchen?”
Dunmore turned to glare at Ian. “Three Ministry officials have been murdered within the past two months. I’d say it’s fairly obvious that the Ministry isn’t safe at the moment.”
Ian crossed his arms, grunting. Dunmore may have been diminutive in size, but he wasn't a man to be crossed.
“Now,” said Dunmore. “First, we’ll need some people to guard the top dogs. Adamina, you’re on the Minister – and you’d better stick to him like Spellotape. I’ll get some trusted Hit-Wizards to help you.”
Adamina wrinkled her nose at Dunmore's Spellotape pun, but nodded.
“Ian,” continued Dunmore, “you’ll take Gaborone, the Advisor to the Minister. He’s a handful, so make sure you don’t let him out of your sight. Caleb, you’ll watch Tyson, the Senior Undersecretary to the Minister. We’ll need people to watch the new Chief Warlock, as well as the Heads of all the Departments… You lot in the corner, you’ll take care of that in shifts. Then we’ll need to start some kind of investigation, but it’s not easy when you haven’t got any leads. Ideas?”
“Shouldn’t we be looking into the werewolf thing?” asked Joel Caesar.
“Right…” said Dunmore, nodding at Joel. “Good point. Macario, Lance, and Victoire – I want you to look up any known werewolves who might have access to the Ministry. Pay each of them a little visit and make sure they’re not getting up to any trouble. Sound good?”
“Yes, sir,” said Macario, Lance, and Victoire.
“Good,” said Dunmore. “Let’s get to work, then!”
Victoire stared down at the name that was scrawled clumsily over the piece of parchment she was holding. The name that had haunted her for years. A thousand memories came rushing through her head as she frowned down at the letters – memories of secrets shared, of goodbye kisses, of a friendship that had blossomed into a romance.
“This isn’t right,” she said.
“What’s not right?” said Lance, looking up from the stack of files he’d been going through, and coughing from the dust that had accumulated in the filing cabinet. They were sitting in a grey, cold room in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures that probably hadn't been cleaned - or even entered - in months.
Victoire had worked with Lance before, on a few small cases, and she knew that, though he seemed mild in everyday life - with his polite, unassuming air and tired face - he was one of the best Aurors in the office, and would probably become the Head of the Auror Office if Dunmore ever retired.
“This list,” said Victoire, sweeping a stray strand of blonde hair behind her ear. “You’ve put Teddy Lupin down as a werewolf, but I’ve known him all my life, and I know he’s not one.”
Macario looked up from his work, too, scowling. “But I double-checked all the names on that list.”
“He’s not a werewolf,” said Victoire stubbornly. “His dad was one, but he’s not.”
Lance shrugged, easy-going as always. “I’ll check his file.”
He sifted through the enormous stack of files, finally pulling one out from the very middle of the stack and wrinkling as it emitted a cloud of dust. He popped the file open, flipped through it, and read: “'Name: Lupin, Teddy. Parents: Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks. Year Born: 1998. Schooling: Hogwarts.' It says he reported a werewolf bite three years ago, and started seeing signs of lycanthropy several weeks after the bite.”
Victoire was stunned. She hadn’t seen Teddy for years – nobody had – but she had always assumed that he had moved to Rome, married a beautiful Italian girl, and settled down. She would never have expected anything like this.
“…Sorry, Victoire,” said Macario awkwardly, turning to face Victoire. His black hair fell into a patch of light from the room's one fake window. “Did you know him well?”
Victoire bit her lip. Macario was making it sound like Teddy had died. Despite the years of Ministry reform that had made it possible for werewolves to find jobs, people still saw them as sub-human. Victoire’s aunt Hermione had always said that it was because they felt threatened. People had always been afraid of werewolves, and prejudiced against them – and it didn’t help that now they were competing with werewolves for jobs.
“We grew up together,” said Victoire.
“Well, we’ll be checking up on him sometime this week,” said Lance. “He’s living here in London. Co-owns a premade Potion business.”
So he wasn’t in Italy, after all.
“Hi, Vic!” said Lorelei cheerfully as Victoire stepped into the small but bright sitting room of her flat. Her dark brown hair was coiled in a tight braid behind her head, and she was wearing salmon-pink pajamas as she sat knitting on a sofa.
Lorelei was the first girl that Victorie had befriended at Hogwarts. They had been in Gryffindor House together, and had done everything together from detentions to the Dueling Club. When Victoire had started seeing Teddy in secret, Lorelei had been the only one who knew about it. Now Lorelei and Victoire shared a flat in an old, unfashionable building in London which they loved in the way that people love their old, mildewy childhood teddy bears. The flat was extremely cluttered, and the walls were still covered in bright, mismatched wallpaper from its previous owners.
“Hi,” said Victorie wearily, slipping out of her shoes.
“I ate with my parents for their anniversary – brought some food home, though,” said Lorelei. “I know you don’t like duck, but I think you'll – Vic? What’s wrong?”
Victoire’s expression must have given her away.
“I…” Victoire didn’t know what to say. It was all sinking in, and her mind was clouding up with confusion. “Teddy’s in London.”
“What?” gasped Lorelei, practically jumping out of her seat. “Teddy Lupin? Did he write to you? Or find you at work or something?”
“No, he’s…” Victoire sank slowly into a cheerful yellow armchair. “He’s been in London all along. He’s running some company that sells ready-made Potions.”
Lorelei frowned. “Then why haven’t you heard from him for all these years?”
“Dunno,” said Victoire. “Except… he’s a werewolf, Lori.”
Lorelei’s dark eyes popped open. “A werewolf?”
“Yeah...” said Victoire. “But he was living in London even before he was bitten - he was in London the whole time. It just makes me wonder… why didn’t he come to us for help after the bite? My uncles and aunts knew a werewolf – Teddy’s dad - and they probably could’ve helped him. So why hide from us?”
“And why did he disappear in the first place?” added Lorelei. “That’s the real mystery.”
Victoire bit her lip. She refused to let herself cry even as the memories welled up in her head. She was standing alone in the Owlery on a cold morning, looking hopefully out at the sky. She was staying behind at breakfast in hope of an owl that would never come. She was sitting in the Common Room writing one last letter that pleaded for a response.
“Well, I guess I’ll find out the answer soon enough,” sighed Victoire, standing up and shuffling into the kitchen, where a plate of steaming- hot duck confit and greens awaited her. Despite her French roots, Victoire had never liked to eat duck or rabbit: she always felt guilty about eating such an animal that couldn't fend for itself. “I’ve got to go in and question him.”
Lorelei raised her eyebrows, sitting down across from Victoire at the kitchen table. “Are you sure you’re comfortable with that? It was tough for you when he left.”
“Macario and Lance will be there,” said Victoire, shrugging. “I’ve put all that behind me, anyway. No point in worrying about it after all these years.”
Lorelei brightened. “Macario! He’s the cute one, isn’t he? With the nice, chiseled face?”
“Yeah, that’s him,” said Victoire, grinning. “Although Lance isn’t bad, either – just a bit older.”
“That’s how you like them,” said Lorelei playfully. “Let’s have a double-date!”
Victoire snorted into her vegetables. “That’ll be the day.”
Victoire didn’t have anything against Lance or Macario, but her work-life and her personal-life were two completely separate worlds – and Victoire intended to keep it that way. She liked most of the people that she worked with, but she had never gotten to know any of them. She never even went to the annual Ministry Ball.
“But, Vic…” said Lorelei more seriously. “You don’t think Teddy’s wrapped up in these murders in any way, do you?”
Victoire frowned. “Impossible.”
I hope you liked the first chapter! I started writing this story for a long time ago, and then went on hiatus. Now I'm back and editing the old chapters. When I'm done going through them I'll continue the story! :)
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