Chapter 1 : First, Best, Worst and Only
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“I have a reservation for two under the name of Teddy Lupin?” he said, cocking his eyebrow at the man who pulled out a notebook from his jacket and flipped through a few pages before nodding back at him.
“Over there – by the fake fireplace,” he instructed and Teddy mumbled a thanks, making his way to his seat and avoiding the funny glances people were casting his way. He sat himself down and let out a deep breath, cracking his knuckles and resting both elbows on the table before dropping them into his lap and leaning back in the chair. What was he so nervous about? He was well prepared. His fingers fumbled around in the pockets of his pants and pulled out a folded sheet of crumbled up parchment.
102. I love grey suits and bowties – be properly dressed.
That was taken care of. Admittedly the suit was a bit old, but he had washed it twice before wearing it and had managed to get that nasty punch stain out. Not to mention the amount of cologne he had lathered it in to get rid of the distinct smell of his Uncle Ronald’s undergarment cupboard. Still, he thought he looked quite dashing, and with the help of his over-friendly neighbour, the bowtie now looked like itself, rather than an awkwardly squashed piece of fabric that was sitting below his neck.
228. Be well read and intelligent.
Teddy shifted uncomfortably in his seat. This he acknowledged has a potential problem area. Over the course of the week, he had devoured pages and pages of the literary geniuses Grabst and Marty, and had even skimmed through some Muggle classics – John Austen, Charlotte Brundy, Walden Shakespeare. He could hardly remember the names of the authors, let alone plot or characters or socio-political meaning. As for the latter – being intelligent – Teddy was sure he’d be able to pull it off. He was intelligent when he wanted to be. He had always been a slightly above-average student and if N.E.W.T results weren’t an indication of one’s intellect, then what was?
127. Be charming, funny and honest.
A waiter with a bowtie better looking than his own approached Teddy and filled his glass with water.
“Are you ready to make your order, sir?”
“Erm I’m waiting for somebody,” he said with a tight-lipped smile and the waiter bowed a little, before walking away. Teddy ran a hand through his hair and looked down at the parchment in his hand again, re-reading the five words that made him feel even more uncomfortable than before.
Most of the people he was friends with did not appreciate Teddy’s sense of humour. “They’re nerdy, have too much to do with Muggle Studies and are rarely ever funny,” Albus had told him. He sighed, trying to recollect as many knock-knock jokes as possible while rehearsing some of the puns Uncle George had written down for him.
“Bugger,” grunted Teddy with a moan, looking at his battered watch. He was not to expect her till 8.30, for that was the time they had agreed on. He had wanted to adapt naturally to his surroundings and get acclimatized to the atmosphere before taking on the seemingly formidable task of wooing her. Just to make himself seem more at ease.
“Blokes have had better luck wooing dragons, mate,” the unhelpful and perpetually discouraging Albus said when Teddy had told him of his plans. “Plus she’s got such high standards. I showed you that list she made with Vinny, didn’t I? Blimey. 500 bullet points! I’m surprised she didn’t submit a whole bloody thesis.”
“She just wants somebody perfect,” replied Teddy, not wanting to seem defeated. He had, in fact, read the list, and even made a copy of all 500 bullet points. Albus didn’t know this of course, and neither did Vinny.
“Perfection is a flaw!” cried Philosopher Potter and Teddy rolled his eyes. “Come on, you’re older than me. You should be smarter than me, Ted.”
“I am smarter than you,” snapped Teddy, his hair turning a weak shade of blue. “Man, I am so tired. Trying to figure out this girl is doing my head in.”
And it was true. Teddy had become utterly consumed by his pursuit for the girl. He had started taking Spanish and Italian lessons (for on the list it said that anyone multilingual would get brownie points) and had enrolled himself for private Quidditch tutoring (with James. You can imagine how distraught it was making him, let alone what it was doing to his ego).
Either time or the minute hand of Teddy’s watch had stopped moving, and he let out another depressed sigh. He was so close to having a nervous breakdown. Gulping down the rest of the water, he looked at the parchment in his hand once again, noticing that his sweaty palms were making the ink blur.
229. Promise to respect my family at all times.
This was not particularly hard for Teddy since he had practically grown up around Weasleys. Admittedly, the part of the family that was of French descent (incidentally and unfortunately also the part of the family directly related to the girl of interest) were probably less fun to be around, and less-Weasley-ish, but Teddy was determined that he could squeeze all of them into his heart. After all the dinners and gatherings, they were not strangers to Teddy, and sometimes he felt like a member of the family already. But not in blood – ah, that was an entirely different issue that made Teddy’s mind wander into a land of pressed tuxedos, a giant white cake and red roses.
Sure, he was a bit of a romantic. That was the problem of being a writer. You spend so much time in your own head that you being to lose the sense of what’s possible and what isn’t, and before you know it those rose-tinted glasses have been permanently glued to your face. Teddy could agree to this, for he had first hand experience. Or he would, but he was so oblivious – bless him – he could hardly tell the difference between fiction and a family dinner.
He looked down at his watch and sighed. Both minutes and seconds hands had stopped working. He pulled off the grubby watch and laid it beside his empty soup bowl, rubbing his eyes.
It happened like a film scene.
Just as Teddy’s vision was cleared from his knuckles, the candles in the restaurant dimmed and the door swung open. From across the room, Victoire Weasley’s blond hair was shining brighter than a galaxy of stars, and the deep burgundy dress she wore made her eyes seem like a completely unique state of matter. Suddenly, she was moving towards him and Teddy’s throat was going tight. All he could see was her eyes – giant, warm, bright, fuzzy.
“Teddy!” she cried, swooping in and pecking his cheek. “Your hair has gone all ginger, you crazy boy,” she giggled, messing up his hair and sitting opposite him. Teddy thought his head would fall off his neck and roll out of the door. “This place is so nice! How did you find it?”
“Ah – hmm – Albus,” he muttered, before internally swearing and clearing his throat. “You look lovely.”
“Thank you, so do you,” she said, her grin never leaving her eyes as they flitted over his immaculate suit and bowtie. “I love the bowtie. Did you know I prefer bowties to regular ties? They are so much cuter!” she almost squealed and Teddy grinned like a madman.
Bowties were cute. Teddy was wearing a bowtie. Therefore Teddy was cute.
The waiter approached them and filled both their glasses with water.
“Are you ready for the appetizer?” he asked and Teddy looked at Victoire, who giggled.
I think it would be benefactory to mention this at some point: Victoire Weasley communicates in giggles and exclamation marks.
“Sure,” she said, her eyes twinkling and returning Teddy’s excited gaze. “What have you ordered, then?”
“It’s a restaurant special. I left it to them,” he said with a casual shrug, trying to make himself seem like he wasn’t in the middle of a heart attack. She nodded and took a sip of her water.
“How’s work going then?”
“Good. Great,” Teddy lied effortlessly. This one he was used to. “I’m working on something new at the moment, and it’s shaping up really well.”
“That’s wonderful! Will I get a preview sometime, you think?” she asked cheekily and Teddy’s smile widened.
“I’m afraid you won’t want to. It’s really quite rubbish. How’s work going for you?” he quickly diverted, wanting to avoid talking about his sources of revenue as little as possible.
“Don’t undersell yourself!” she cried, like it was the worst imaginable thing, reaching out and patting Teddy’s hand. “I’m sure it’s wonderful. And work it going alright. It’s lots of long hours, but I’m enjoying it I suppose. Have you spoken to the lot recently, then?”
The Lot being the second generation Weasleys and Potters.
“Yes, and Albus said to tell you he misses you,” Teddy said charmingly and Victoire cooed. He could feel his heart seeping out through his skin with the sweat. “And James has got that job in Lancaster so he won’t be around much anymore.”
“Oh, I ran into James the other day!” she said, sitting up straight and looking very excited. “Did you know he’s got a girlfriend?”
“Marjorie Gimley?” Teddy asked and she nodded, before pouting.
“I’m always the last to know!” she cried with a huff and Teddy chuckled, wanting to swoop in and crush her in an embrace before deciding it was too inappropriate.
“Come on, Albus only told me yesterday,” he lied again. Teddy had known for a whole month, but James had made him swear not to tell anybody till he had done so himself.
“My little boys are all grown up,” she said with a sigh. “James has got a job and a girlfriend, Albus is finishing with Hogwarts soon,” she shook her head, trailing off. “Seems like just yesterday that they all got on the Express for the first time.”
At that moment, the couple was suddenly propelled into one of the most awkward moments of both their lives. The first time Albus had got on to the Hogwarts Express.
It felt as if Teddy was standing in the compartment aisle again, and the door was truly sliding open. There was Victoire Weasley – the most good-natured Ravenclaw Teddy had ever laid eyes on – with an unfathomable expression on her face.
“Hullo,” he had said, before wondering why he sounded like there was a giant hairball in his throat.
Of course they knew each other. Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws had Charms and Divination together, after all. Still, Teddy couldn’t help but gush at the way she said his name, coated with the right amount of endearment.
Egad, she was perfect. And that’s when Teddy knew he was doomed.
Being a budding writer himself, Teddy knew everything about twists in plot. But what was about to happen – no, he would have never seen it coming. Even the best writer of the greatest novel ever written would never have thought that Victoire Weasley would launch herself at him and snog his brains out.
After that, it was all a haze. He vaguely remembered seeing James leave the compartment looking aghast, and Victoire apologizing profusely and saying something about a dare, and the train starting and Teddy colliding with the sliding door head-first.
The clanking sound of cutlery brought Teddy back to his senses and the sight of food being presented in front of him. Victoire looked decidedly traumatized but daintily picked up her fork and began butchering whatever it was on her plate with an elegance known only to her. He wasn’t sure if he ought to speak or not, so he merely followed her actions, and they ate in silence. The small plates were replaced by bigger ones, and there was a pile of some ungodly culinary creation before their eyes.
“This looks interesting,” Victoire said finally and Teddy had to stop himself from sighing with relief.
“Mhmm,” he managed. “Why don’t you take the first bite?”
Victoire shrugged and picked up her spoon, scooping up the dubious contents and shoving it into her mouth after sniffing at it precariously. She chewed and squinted at the plate before her, before swallowing. Then her eyes widened and she sat back, looking at Teddy with the most horrified expression on her face.
Teddy was going to ask if it was that bad, but all he managed was an almost high-pitched yelp as Victoire’s entire face went pink and began to swell. All Teddy could think of was Harry’s story of Aunt Marge. Oh God. Merlin, crikey, egad!
“HELP!” Teddy croaked, reaching across to the now palpitating Victoire, patting her head and holding the glass of water towards her. “Drink the water – Merlin you’ve gone pink – it’ll help – are you choking? Oh bugger – I can hardly tell the difference – drink the water Victoire – between your dress and your face – Merlin’s pants – ”
There was panic, and the restaurant management began scampering around the place like monkeys on a banana binge. People were shouting to phone an ambulance, some were threatening to lodge a police complaint, and others were simply screaming bloody murder.
Half an hour later.
“She’ll see you know,” a rather unfriendly looking nurse told Teddy while glaring at him from under her spectacles. “Honestly, it’s common sense to be wary of mushrooms.”
Teddy gulped and slinked into the room, closing the door behind him and greeting Victoire with a sheepish grin.
He had ruined it. Everything had been a colossal waste. He began spewing apologies so fast Victoire was getting a migraine again, before he collapsed onto his knees next to her bed and let out a loud groan.
“Teddy, really, how were you to know?” she said soothingly, patting his head and smiling at him weakly. But Teddy was barely listening to her.
“ – I just wanted it to be perfect! Everything had been planned down to the T and ugh I didn’t expect to ruin it before we got to the fireworks festival! Mushrooms! How could I have overlooked something as important as dietary restrictions?”
“Teddy,” began Victoire, but he continued, his hair turning into a violent shade of purple as he went on agonizing. “Teddy,” she tried again, but there was no stopping him. He was a freight train without a pair of breaks and a drunk driver. “TEDDY.”
That seemed to do the trick, and Teddy looked up Victoire, feeling more miserable than he had in years.
“We need to talk about something,” she said slowly. “But can you calm down first and turn you hair back to normal? I can’t talk to you with your purple hair in my face.”
Teddy took a deep breath and his hair had returned to its natural colour.
“Alright. Come sit here,” she patted, the space next to her on the bed and Teddy gulped. He had never been that physically close to her since ... well, since the snog. He lifted himself off the ground and sat down next to her, letting another deep breath out.
“Can we be honest with each other?” she mumbled and Teddy nodded. “Alright. I fancy you, Teddy Lupin.”
Teddy thought he was going to vomit. His heart was beating faster than he had ever felt it go.
“Come on, is it that hard to believe?” she chuckled, putting a hand on his back. “And Vinny told me way back that you made a photocopy of that list, Ted. But – and I’m being completely honest like you said we could be – it honestly doesn’t matter to me. If I found somebody who ticked all five hundred boxes, Teddy, I’d still want you. I’d still wonder why he wasn’t a crazy metamorphwhatever who liked listening to Bach and wrote stories about Hufflepuffs who got turned into bumblebees. And I’ve never understood why you’ve never told me you fancied me – ”
“But I do! Merlin, Vic, it’s not the easiest thing to do! You’re so perfect and beautiful and I’m – well, I’m a Hufflepuff who was mistaken for a bumblebee at a Halloween party,” cried Teddy and Victoire laughed.
“Do you fancy me, Teddy Lupin?” she asked and Teddy nodded so much he thought his head would propel out of the window.
“Alright, then. Well, guess what, I fancy you too,” she said simply and Teddy could feel his whole face buzzing.
“You don’t say,” he said with a grin and she mirrored his expression. She laced her fingers with his and beamed up at him.
“I’m going to have to ask you not to snog me right now, though. My face is still feeling a bit itchy.”
And that was that. The first, best, worst and only date Teddy Lupin had ever been on.
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