I spent the next two days trying to suck up to Teddy. He found the whole thing hilarious; he said I made a very amusing and affectionate drunk. I, however, was completely mortified. In my eyes, I couldn’t apologise enough for my inappropriate behaviour the other night, and I hadn’t yet stopped saying sorry.
“I’m really sorry,” I said again as Teddy picked up a newspaper.
He pretended to thwack me with it; I ducked. “Shut up, I know you’re sorry. I’ve already told you, it’s fine.”
“It’s not though,” I muttered to myself, remembering my outrageous actions. I blushed at the mere memory, wondering how I’d even managed to keep my clothes on. “I feel really bad about it.”
“Don’t,” he stressed. “I’ve forgotten about it.”
That was an obvious lie, seeing as I’d rabbited on about how sorry I was for two days. Still, I appreciated the gesture. “Good,” I said. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” he said, draining his cup of tea. “Now, go and dress yourself up. We’re going somewhere special for lunch when Victoire gets back.”
Grudgingly, I did as I was told. I’d already decided that this was a bad idea and I was going to have a horrible day. I had never been particularly fond of dressing myself up, as he so delicately put it, because when I made an effort it was quite obvious and then I was opening myself up for judging. At least if I said “I didn’t bother” it made it seem okay.
I dug through my bag to find something suitable out of what I’d brought with me. I found a screwed up dress, which I charmed neat and threw it on over some thick tights. I considered wearing two jumpers on top to fight the cold, but decided against it. I doubted either Teddy or Victoire wanted to take a snowman out for lunch.
We walked a short distance to a posh looking restaurant, which had waiters in suits offering to take our coats as we entered. Victoire was already waiting for us on the other side of the restaurant, wearing a pretty top and a smile.
Sitting down, Teddy signalled to the waiter who approached us. He then ordered a bottle of champagne. I wasn’t thick; there was definitely something going on here that I didn’t know about and I was starting to get very suspicious. Victoire had taken her lunch break to come here and we’d dressed up nicely to go to a fancy restaurant, followed by an order for champagne.
“What are we celebrating?” I asked as the waiter poured us a glass each. I stared at the bubbles.
“We were going to wait to tell everyone together,” Victoire said cheerfully. “But as you’re here in person, we thought we’d take the opportunity to celebrate with you.” I looked between them, knowing what was coming next. Teddy refused to look at me, which meant it could only be bad news. “Teddy and I are engaged.”
I supposed it was bound to happen eventually; it shouldn’t have been a surprise. I’d been expecting a similar announcement for years, sure that at every family party they’d finally reveal Teddy had popped the question. Thinking about it, I wasn’t even sure why it had taken him so long; they’d been together for almost ten years. Watching them together, I realised this didn’t just signal a beginning; this marked the end of my teenage fantasies. Now I really had to ditch all my subconscious hopes of them splitting up.
“Congratulations,” I managed, following suit as Victoire raised her glass. We clinked them together, Teddy still not having looked at me. I wondered if he thought I was too delicate to cope with such news. “That’s really great.”
I didn’t sound massively thrilled, but I sounded more pleased for them than I would have done six months ago, so I considered that progress. I stuck a grin on my face in the hope that it would do. Victoire hadn’t seemed to notice my conflicting emotions, but under the table Teddy patted my leg sympathetically (or at least, I was pretty sure he was being sympathetic).
Across the table from me, Victoire looked radiant; she was beaming, glowing, and I felt sick that I’d ever wished her harm. She was family, after all, and I needed to put a bit more effort into wishing her well. I was rather selfish, come to think of it. This wasn’t about me; this was about them and their future together. I had no place in it and so I had to accept that it wasn’t for me to comment on.
I ended up finishing my glass of champagne quicker than I’d intended, but it took the edge off my growing feelings. At some point, I’d be able to have a good cry and finally kiss goodbye to a future I’d once hoped I’d have. For now, I had to pretend like I was okay with celebrating my doom.
“What news do you have of the family, Rose?” Victoire asked as I tried to tune out of the conversation. I was trying to let them dominate the conversation and leave me to my thoughts, but she had other ideas. “It seems like so much has happened since we left.”
I thought for a moment. “Roxanne’s left Law School,” I said, offering the first piece of gossip that sprang to mind. “Fred’s going to Australia. Dominique’s pregnant, but I assume you already know that.”
Victoire nearly choked on her food. “What?”
I glanced at Teddy, who had paled slightly. Oops. That was slightly awkward… “You didn’t know?” I asked, turning red. “Shit, I’m sorry Victoire. I thought someone would have told you.”
The silence that followed my slip was tense indeed. Victoire’s hand trembled, causing her knife to rattle loudly against her plate. Teddy held her hand gently so that she calmed down. “How far gone is she?” Teddy asked as neither Victoire nor I said anything.
“Erm, a couple of months, I think,” I said quietly. “She hasn’t told us who the father is. Do you have any ideas?”
Victoire seemed to come out of her shock. “What about that Henry bloke? They were quite close for a while.”
“That was in her Fifth Year,” I said, trying not to laugh at the thought of podgy Henry Devon fathering anyone’s child. He was probably sat at home right now, ironing his slippers and putting a nightcap over his comb-over. “I don’t think it’s him, somehow.”
Victoire rolled her eyes. “I don’t know how she could be so stupid,” she said crossly. “She’ll be a completely incompetent mother.”
I frowned. “I think she’s quite upset about it,” I informed her. “Molly told me she’s in a bad way. She might appreciate a letter or something from you, I don’t know.”
“Dominique has made it quite clear she didn’t want me interfering in her life anymore,” she snapped. For a moment I thought I saw fire flash in her eyes.
I raised my eyebrows; there was clearly something going on between them that I had no idea about. Teddy grimaced at the expression on Victoire’s face.
“Maybe it’s best if you let Dom come to you for help, if she wants it,” he suggested. I looked at him doubtfully; he clearly didn’t know Dom very well.
They were being extremely naïve, in my opinion. Dominique wasn’t going to ask for their help; she had too much pride at stake (although probably not much dignity left). I didn’t understand how they couldn’t see that they needed to offer to support Dominique, no matter what differences she and Victoire had had in the past. It seemed as though they’d both completely washed their hands of her, but why I didn’t know. I’d need to ask Molly what the hell was going on; perhaps either Dom or Victoire had confided in her.
“Right,” I said, not wanting to argue with them in a public place. I didn’t really want to argue with them anywhere, but a restaurant would have been low on my list of ‘Best Places to Have an Argument’. “Well, you probably know her better than I do.”
At the end of the day, I really couldn’t tell them what to do about Dom when I barely even saw her these days anyway. Still, they were acting suspiciously and I’d find out what was going on eventually. Siblings didn’t usually fall out this badly unless something pretty awful had happened, and I’d always thought Dom and Victoire were quite close.
Victoire nodded at my last statement, but said nothing. I guessed that she’d sensed my reluctance to back down, but clearly she didn’t want to get into a fight either.
“So what do we think of Gilderoy Lockhart as the next Minister?” Teddy queried, changing the subject.
“Rubbish,” I said, glad of the diversion. “He’s completely hopeless. Someone needs to do us all a favour and obliviate him again.”
“I bet if you asked your Dad, he would,” Teddy said with a wink.
I frowned. Winking and mentions of my father should never go together. “Why do you say that?”
“Well, he did it the first time, didn’t he?” Teddy said slowly, as though I was thick.
“What?” I found the idea that Dad had removed Lockhart’s memory to be extremely unlikely. “I don’t understand.”
“Don’t you know the story?” Victoire asked, surprised. “Your uncle Harry used to tell us it when we were younger.”
“I think I’d remember if Harry had ever told me of that time my Dad obliviated a famous politician,” I said scathingly.
“He didn’t do it directly,” Teddy explained. “Lockhart was trying to obliviate him, but he was using your Dad’s broken wand and the spell backfired.”
I was still doubtful. My Dad was pretty inoffensive and I just couldn’t imagine him being annoying enough to warrant a duel with one of his professors. “Why would Lockhart want to obliviate my Dad? He was only a kid when he met him.”
“Maybe you should ask him yourself,” Victoire said doubtfully, looking guilty at spilling the beans. Secretly I began to imagine some horrible story about my Dad that would shatter my world and send me into a spiral of depression; it was unlikely, seeing as my Dad was pretty squeaky clean in all aspects of life. “He would tell the story better than we could.”
“Right,” I said, confused. I made a mental note to ask him why he was involved in criminal activity at such a young age. He’d told me some stories of his school days, but it seemed as though he’d left out the more juicy bits. “So,” I said, attempting to change the subject (again). “Have you got a date in mind for the wedding?”
Teddy and Victoire exchanged a glance and a smile. “Well, that’s actually why we’re coming back to England at Christmas,” Victoire said. “We’re going to get married on Christmas Eve.”
Lovely; that would mean at least three solid days of family parties. I would need to stock up on the wine, that was for sure. I was pretty certain that they’d picked that date to be romantic, but all I could think about was standing around in the cold whilst they sheltered each other from the frost with their bodies. It meant I would have to buy a nice dress and make an effort, which as I’d always said, never ended well.
Did this mean I could finally have closure? With a ring on her finger (which Victoire was making a habit of showing off now that they’d told me), she and Teddy were properly united and I had no hope. So if I knew all of that, why did I still find myself fantasising about whisking Teddy off his feet and carrying him off into the sunset? I was so used to thinking about him that I was going to struggle stopping, wedding or no wedding.
“It’ll be nice to have the family all together again,” I said half-heartedly, knowing that I couldn’t think of anything more unpleasant than a big family reunion. Hell, maybe even Uncle Charlie would visit us, which definitely would mark the occasion.
“Yes, like we used to be,” Victoire said, smiling at memories we clearly didn’t share. Most of my childhood memories involved Molly pulling my hair or James and Fred chasing me around the garden with toy wands.
I noticed that Teddy was looking around awkwardly, and I decided to change the subject (again) so that he didn’t feel left out. “Your grandmother came into the shop the other day,” I informed him. “She’s looking well.” As the only real family he had, I felt it important to update him on Andromeda’s progress.
“That’s good to hear,” Teddy said cheerfully. “She hasn’t written to me since her hip operation last month, so I was beginning to worry.”
Ah - a hip operation would certainly explain why she was boogying around the shop floor like a whippersnapper.
“She’s always so friendly to me whenever I see her; she’s a lovely lady,” I mused. “You’re very lucky.”
“Yes,” Teddy agreed. “I am.”
After lunch, Victoire kissed Teddy goodbye and headed back to work. I still wasn’t sure what she actually did (and in my head, I was always imagining her crushing grapes with her bare feet), but she seemed to enjoy it so that was the main thing. I felt like Victoire and I had come to an understanding; we both seemed to have grown up a bit since we last saw each other, and I thought that moving abroad had done her good.
Teddy and I strolled up into town to enjoy the good weather, stopping at the park to huddle up on a bench. We sat in silence for a while, watching the world go by, the trees skeletal. Here and there, signs of spring were desperately fighting to show themselves.
“It’s lovely here,” I conceded. “Do you think you’ll ever move back home?”
He sighed. “I’m not sure. Do you want me to?”
I winced at the question; it was almost as though he was being deliberately insensitive. “It doesn’t matter what I want,” I said, knowing that it was the truth. Did I really want him to come home? I wasn’t so sure anymore. He and Victoire could be and were happy here. If he moved back to England, I feared I would never get over him.
“You’re still my friend, Rosie,” he said lightly. “I care about what you want.”
“You shouldn’t,” I said heavily. “I’m a bad friend. I came here with the intention of telling you how I felt so that I could finally move on. But it was selfish and I’ve ruined whatever it was that we had before. You’re happy, you have a fiancée who loves you and a new life here. If that’s what you want, then you have my answer.”
He sat still for a moment, then wrapped his arm around me and hugged me to him. “You are a good friend, Rose. You want me to be happy. But don’t forget, I want you to be happy too.”
It was kind of him to say so, but deep down there was no hope that he’d help me be happy; if anything, he did the exact opposite. “I’m not doing too badly,” I argued lightly. “Things are on the up.”
“Good,” he said, nodding. “You’ll write to me won’t you, when you get back?”
I smiled, knowing that I couldn’t write to him even if I wanted to. I wanted to cast him out of my mind as much as possible. “Yeah, I’ll write,” I lied. What else could I have said?
“I’ll understand if you don’t,” Teddy said after a pause. “I’m sorry things are the way they are.”
When had the relationship between Teddy and me become so grown up? Something had shifted since I arrived, most likely since I confessed my feelings, and suddenly we were no longer the same people who had run around back gardens together as children, who had been awkward teenagers and insecure adults. We were equal for the first time, and our age difference seemed insignificant. I missed the simplicity of my childhood, where it was enough for me just to want to be Teddy’s friend without the complications of love. I knew that now he knew how I felt, things had changed forever. It felt good.
“I’m not,” I said honestly. “It was driving me insane to keep it all bottled up. I’m glad you know the truth - now I can find someone else to lust after,” I joked.
“Make sure it’s someone just as handsome,” he said with a grin. He squeezed me briefly before withdrawing his arm.
“I’m sure I’ll have no problem,” I said cheekily. He laughed.
“Come on, trouble,” he said, standing up and straightening his coat. “Let’s go home before it rains.”
He offered me his hand, but I stuck my hands in my coat pockets. Again, I felt like he was being rather insensitive. Just because I liked him doesn’t mean he had to pander to my whims. We were never going to be more than friends; him feeling sorry for me wasn’t going to change that.
That afternoon, I absorbed myself in a book, mostly so that I didn’t have to talk to Teddy. I’d done sort of okay without embarrassing myself unnecessarily today (the Dominique thing had been necessary, I’d decided) and I wanted to keep it that way. I was beginning to realise that I had no more to say to Teddy; beyond discussing the changes in our lives, we had very little in common. As a teenager, I’d stalked him a little bit to kid myself into thinking that we had lots of shared interests and it was love everlasting. All I’d found was that we both liked cheese and we tended to look like garden gnomes after too much time in the sun. I was done with trying to fool myself into thinking it could ever happen.
I’d been terrified of this very rejection for a long time, but in fact, it was all I’d needed to get over him. Finally.
AN: So, there we go! It's time for Rose to move on in her life and forget about Teddy. There's plenty more Molly, Scorpius and Boris to come, so I hope you're excited for that! Thanks for the lovely reviews, you're all fabulous ♥