Chapter 1 : Part One: Before
| ||Rating: Mature||Chapter Reviews: 9|
Change Background: Change Font color:
Gorgeous chapter image by stardusted* @ TDA!
She stood upon the edge of the cliff, the wind blowing around her violently so that it lashed upon her face, as if it were punishing her for her mistakes. Behind her, her boyfriend stood – dark-haired, dark-eyed, and staring at her as if she had all the answers when she didn't. She knew he was probably worried that she was about to launch herself off the cliff's edge, even though she could guarantee that she wouldn't. Being so precariously close to the edge, where an extra-strong gust of wind could send her off balance and into the bottom of the seemingly endless chasm, gave her a rush of adrenaline. It sent the blood coursing through her blood once more and caused her heart to beat frantically – and reminded her that she was alive.
Because these days, she never felt like she was. These days, her life was cold and grey and empty – and worst of all was the knowledge that she had brought it upon herself. Her sister insisted that she hadn't; tried to reassure her that it was all a mistake. But every time she looked into her mother's eyes, identical to her own except for the colour, she saw only disappointment and lost dreams of a wonderful, flourishing future. Every time she went out of the house, she could see strangers whispering to each other and making snide comments about the baby bump that was now impossible for her to conceal. Some of them – mostly the old pure-blood families who hated the society her parents' generation had fought to establish – laughed outright.
She was seventeen years old, and pregnant. She was the daughter of people who fought in the Second Wizarding War; a descendant of a wonderful family who, until now, had been held in high esteem by the whole of the world. And with one little pink line all those months ago, she had tarnished her family's glorious reputation, and ensured that her life would never be the same again.
She was a Weasley, and yet she had disappointed them all.
“Come back, please,” she heard her boyfriend say from behind her, but she didn't want to turn to look at him. He had played his part in this unfathomable destruction of her life, but unlike her, he could walk away and never look back, and she hated him for that.
Nobody told him that he was an idiot for impregnating his girlfriend, even though they called her a slut for falling pregnant by accident. Nobody would take one look at him and refuse him a job because he had a child, when they took one look at her and asked with a raised eyebrow if she was sure her childcare costs wouldn't be more than what her wages would be.
Nobody judged him, but everybody judged her.
As if it was any of their business, she'd sneered at first, before they had responded witheringly that yes, it was their business because the fact that they were even considering a pregnant seventeen-year-old for employment was a privilege for her. She was supposed to bend over backwards – metaphorically, of course, considering that her current condition made that physically impossible – to get a job, to be able to take her NEWTs at the Ministry after her child was born, to be looked at without other people sticking their noses up in the air. And what did he have to do? Abso-bloody-lutely nothing at all.
Everybody loved him, and everybody hated her. She hated that, hated that they all seemed to forget that it takes two people to make a baby; that he was just as much at fault as she was.
“No,” she whispered, but the wind stole the sound of her voice away before it reached his ears. “No,” she repeated, in a much stronger voice this time.
“Please,” he sighed. “Let me take you home.”
Where was home, exactly? The little cottage down the hill, where her parents lived and where she and her siblings had been brought up? That wasn't home, not any more. That was a courtroom where her mother and father were judge and jury, and her bedroom inside it was nothing more than a prison: walls that had once been decorated with photographs of laughing, smiling schoolgirls had been stripped bare and replaced with articles on mothering that she'd ripped out of magazines. That room was nothing more than a painful reminder of how much her life had changed – of how her friends had abandoned her, of how she should still be at school revising for her exams if this hadn't happened. She hadn't been drunk when her child had been conceived; hadn't tumbled into bed thoughtlessly with some faceless fellow student like her peers theorized.
All Victoire Weasley had done was make love, so why had it turned into hell?
Teddy's lips were soft, his touch blissful. Victoire would have been happy to remain in his arms forever, to smuggle him on the train and into Hogwarts so that she wouldn't have to wait until October to see him again – for he had already promised to spend all her Hogsmeade weekends with her. His voice sounded like one of the melodies she played on her mother's piano as he whispered in her ear, telling her how much he would miss her while she was at school.
It was times like this that she wished that she wasn't two years younger than Teddy; last year, when their relationship had been in its early throes, she hadn't missed him as much as she did now. Now, the pain was almost physical; her heart ached and she vaguely wondered if Madam Pomfrey knew of a curse for broken hearts before Teddy's lips met hers again, chasing all her thoughts out of her mind.
“Teddy!” a childish voice interrupted them both. “Teddy, are you kissing Victoire?”
They broke apart to see James; thirteen years old but still as much of a pest as he had been when he was eight and had interrupted Bill's heartfelt speech to Fleur on their fifteen-year wedding anniversary. And Victoire couldn't help but wonder if James had purposefully blundered into their intimate moment, but her doubts faded the second she got another glimpse of James' blue eyes and saw the innocence and curiosity in them – something that she never saw in Louis any more, and for a moment she wondered why.
But Teddy interrupted, and her attention was diverted to his hair, which had turned a shocking shade of pink – it always did when he was embarrassed, in the much the same way that most people's cheeks flushed – before he answered her younger cousin.
“I was,” he admitted, “until you interrupted.”
Victoire saw James open his mouth to comment further, and quickly took charge of the situation, knowing that the train was about to depart in a matter of moments.
“We'll be late if you don't move, James,” she instructed, gently nudging the younger boy in the direction of his parents. “Go say bye to Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny now, before the train leaves.”
As soon as James had disappeared into the swarm of parents and children, Victoire turned back to Teddy. The pink was fading from his hair, although he didn't notice – his eyes were firmly fixed upon her.
“I love you, Victoire,” he said, sweeping her into a hug and squeezing her tightly. “I know it's only a few weeks until Halloween, but it feels like forever.”
“It's the same for me,” Victoire admitted. “I love you, Teddy; I always will.”
The train's conductor blew loudly on his whistle, bringing them both back to reality with a crashing halt. Victoire sighed, hugged Teddy once more, and then stepped onto the train, closing the door behind her and forcing the window open with a little more violence than necessary so that she could lean out to wave goodbye. As the train moved and gathered speed, the wind ripped her blonde hair loose from the ponytail she had put it in that morning, but Victoire didn't notice – all she was focused on was her Teddy; she knew her parents and relatives were there, but her eyes wouldn't divert themselves from him.
When Platform Nine and Three Quarters faded out of sight, Victoire retreated back into the train and closed the window sadly, staring out at the countryside scattered with sheep. And then she took a deep breath, fingered her Head Girl badge with pride, and turned on her heel to go and find her friends before it was time for her to go to the Prefects' compartment.
She might be spending her seventh year without Teddy, and she would miss him terribly – but she had been awarded the privilege of being Head Girl and therefore her final year at Hogwarts would also be the best year of Victoire's life: of that, she was absolutely certain.
The school bell rang to signify the end of the seventh year Transfiguration class – and every other class in the school – causing Victoire to wince automatically as the sound resonated within her head. She was tired of the headaches that had plagued her almost daily for the past two weeks, but she knew that it was her own fault for staying up late studying. NEWT classes were hard on everyone in her year, but Victoire wanted to graduate as the top of her class and that required additional work. She didn't mind doing the extra work – she knew it would be worth it, to hear people say, “Oh, Victoire Weasley? She's that girl who came top of her class at Hogwarts, and with Head Girl responsibilities too – a wonderful feat indeed!”. It would make a welcome change from being constantly referred to as the eldest daughter of Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour, or the eldest Weasley grandchild, or that lookalike daughter of Beauxbatons' Champion in the 1994 Triwizard Tournament.
She just wished that the headaches that signified a lack of sleep weren't so persistent.
Somehow, Victoire had made her way to her dormitory without realizing that she'd managed to walk from the first floor of the castle to Gryffindor without noticing, and internally marvelled at her ability to not accidentally collide with somebody else – or worse, fall foul of the moving staircases that generally required a person's utmost concentration. More than once, she'd heard of – and had once witnessed – younger students chattering amongst themselves without checking to see if the staircase had moved, and stepped off the landing into thin air. Unsurprisingly, those students always received Madam Pomfrey's most sour treatment.
“Victoire!” her best friend Scarlett Fletcher shouted, snapping Victoire out of her thoughts. She looked up to see the brunette girl bounding over to her, shouting excitedly. “Guess what?”
“What?” Victoire asked, her eyes flickering between Scarlett and their other best friend, Alaina Burrows.
“Wizardlife are performing tonight in the Three Broomsticks!” Scarlett shrieked in delight. “And I have got us three backstage passes!”
Victoire squealed too, excited at the prospect of seeing her favourite band in person. She wasn't sure how Scarlett had managed to procure tickets that were impossible to get hold of, let alone backstage passes – probably from her father; Mundungus Fletcher was a walking treasure trove – but she didn't care. The band that she had loved since the age of thirteen was here, in Hogsmeade, and she had the opportunity to meet them. What sane person would turn that down?
“There's just one problem,” Alaina sighed. “We're seventh-years and you're Head Girl; I'm sure if it was the weekend the professors would let us go, but it's Thursday night. We have school tomorrow; they definitely won't give us permission to leave the castle.”
“Don't worry about that,” Victoire smiled, a plan already forming in her mind. “You two go and get ready; I'm going to find James.”
Two hours later, and Victoire and her friends were standing in their dormitory, the Marauders' Map hidden in Victoire's handbag – much to James Potter's displeasure. Scarlett kept glancing over at the occupied bed next to hers – Kylie Mayhew preferred to study in her bedroom rather than the infinitely noisy common room where countless distractions loomed, and usually Victoire did the same. But tonight, Wizardlife was performing, and Victoire couldn't miss it. She wouldn't.
“Hey Kylie,” Victoire smiled, volunteering herself to speak since she knew she was the closest to Kylie out of her trio. “Scarlett, Alaina and I are going to the Ravenclaw dorms to study with Alaina's Potions partner, and we're planning to stay up late to do some extra credit work. You don't need to worry or alert any professors if we're back late, since you know where we are.”
She saw Kylie survey them, her eyes glossing over Victoire's glittery silver dress and towering heels, Scarlett and Alaina's equally eye-popping outfits, and the precarious pile of textbooks balancing upon the foots of all three beds before the dark-haired witch raised an eyebrow sceptically. But then she nodded.
“Enjoy your... studying.”
Victoire smiled gratefully at Kylie, knowing that the other girl wouldn't betray them. After all, Kylie would have to live with them for another eight and a half months if she did, and Scarlett Fletcher was a rather vile person to share a room with if you were on her bad side.
It took seconds for them to navigate their way downstairs and out of the common room, timing their departure so that it coincided with the evening feast and therefore avoiding any other Gryffindors who might have been lurking had they left at a different time. Once they had left Gryffindor Tower, breathing a sigh of relief when the Fat Lady was not in her portrait to lecture them – or worse, report them to a professor – when Scarlett turned to her.
“So how do we get out of the castle?” she asked, tossing her brunette hair over her shoulder. “You said you had a foolproof plan, Tory.”
Victoire reached into her small handbag and retrieved the Marauders' Map, which she had coerced out of James hours earlier with the threat of telling her Uncle Harry that James had been the one to steal the map off of his desk. There was certainly no need for her younger cousin to know that his father did know, but wanted his children to enjoy it, provided the mischief they caused wasn't too dangerous or unacceptable.
“Oh my God, is that...” Scarlett's voice trailed off.
“Yep,” Victoire grinned proudly. “This is the Marauders' Map. Now put your eyes back in your head and help me work out a path to follow. We need to get to one of these three passages; they're the ones that lead to Hogsmeade.”
Within minutes, the trio had worked out a path that lead through corridors few people frequented, and areas where there were few portraits who could get them into trouble. Victoire and Alaina interlocked arms, Victoire keeping her eyes fixed firmly upon the parchment while Alaina guided her through the labyrinth that was Hogwarts Castle.
It felt like seconds before they were in Hogsmeade, surfacing from an hidden passageway that opened out into an alleyway behind the Hog's Head, although Victoire knew that it was nearer half an hour. Scarlett walked a few steps ahead of Victoire and Alaina, batting her eyelashes at any handsome man who walked past – although Hogsmeade had more women than usual today. Victoire was almost certain that that was because all of Wizardlife's five members were men, and like her, were here to see them perform. There was even a rumour that sometimes, if the crowd was especially pleasant, they would remove their tops, and she hoped she would bear witness to that.
You can look, but you can't touch. That had been what her aunt Gabrielle had taught her when she had visited during the summer; that Victoire could still be in love with Teddy and remain faithful to him, and yet allow her eyes to stray.
“Come on,” Scarlett said, grabbing Victoire's hand and pulling her along. “There's a ridiculously long queue already; if we try and get in as soon as possible, we might be able to squeeze into the front.”
Victoire and Alaina joined Scarlett in the queue, and after a few minutes they were finally permitted into the Three Broomsticks. The pub's interior had changed so much that even the normally unflappable Scarlett was taken aback: gone were the tables and chairs that normally cluttered the space, and in the corner was a black stage with instruments waiting upon it for their owners.
“Tory, Al, can you go and find a good spot to watch Wizardlife from?” Scarlett asked. “I'll go and get the drinks.”
“Butterbeer!” Victoire called out, but Scarlett had already disappeared into the crowd, and Victoire wasn't certain if she had heard. She deliberated for a few moments on whether to follow Scarlett, but decided to remain with Alaina – the youngest of their trio was painfully shy around strangers, and it wouldn't be fair to leave her.
It took them less than a minute to squeeze into a spot that was near to the bar, but also provided an excellent view of the stage. Victoire could feel herself being jostled around by the other girls vying for the space, and she knew that when Wizardlife surfaced it would become worse. But as far as she was concerned, it would be worth it to actually see them perform.
“Drink up, girls!” Scarlett giggled, bringing over three glasses with a brown liquid within.
For a moment, Victoire thought that it was filled with Diet Coke, which they usually drank when the pub had run out of Butterbeer, but then the smell of alcohol reached her nose and she wrinkled it.
“Redcurrant rum and Diet Coke, Scar? On a school night?” she asked.
“Everyone drinks it at concerts,” Scarlett insisted. “Dancing heats your body up, and cold rum and Coke cools it down. Besides, we have Potions first thing tomorrow morning; we can pinch some hangover potion from Zeller's cupboard – she won't notice.”
Victoire sighed, not bothering to comment further, and simply brought the glass to her lips and gulped down a few mouthfuls. Scarlett was right; the alcohol certainly did live up to its name – the liquid was dizzyingly icy, despite the increasing temperature in the pub. Victoire gulped it down thirstily, paying no heed to her lack of dinner.
“Another?” she suggested with a smile. “It is one night, after all.”
Scarlett nodded, a triumphant smirk forming on her lips, and even Alaina nodded – although hesitantly. Victoire pushed loose strands of her light blonde hair behind her ear and walked over to the bar.
“Three redcurrant rum and Diet Cokes please,” she said casually to the barmaid as the elder witch nodded in anticipation of Victoire's order. “Do you have any potions that will get rid of headaches, too?” she added, rubbing her head as she started to feel the beginnings of yet another headache.
“Sorry, no,” the barmaid answered, placing the bottles in front of Victoire. “Twelve Sickles, please.”
Victoire counted a dozen silver coins into the barmaid's outstretched palm and picked up the glasses, entangling them within her fingers and turned around – to be met with Professor Neville Longbottom, looking disappointed at the state he had found her in.
“Professor Longbottom,” Victoire spluttered; while Neville was a friend of her family, she always called him Professor Longbottom during September to mid-July, even when she was out of class.
“Aren't you supposed to be in school, Miss Weasley?” Neville asked, and Victoire gulped, trying to think of something to say. “I see three glasses in your hands – I'm going to assume that it's Miss Fletcher and Miss Burrows who are here with you?”
Victoire nodded, knowing that lying wouldn't help her in any way. Without saying anything, Neville walked past her and into the crowds, resurfacing minutes later with Scarlett and Alaina. Scarlett was muttering angrily under her breath, and Victoire was sure that if she was close enough to hear her friend, she'd be hearing a string of curses and unrepeatable expletives. Neville indicated where she should leave her bottles before quickly ushering her through the crowd and behind the bar. He whispered quickly to a different barmaid and then escorted the three students to a fireplace.
“The Floo powder is in the china bowl on the mantelpiece,” Neville said, and Victoire could hear a trace of sadness in it. “Miss Burrows, would you go first?”
Victoire tensed, nausea bubbling within her stomach as it started to churn unpleasantly. Alaina did as requested, and stepped through the fireplace. Scarlett was instructed to go next, and then finally Victoire was told to go through, and unsteadily she put one foot in front of the other, the nausea refusing to go away. She was starting to decide that perhaps she couldn't handle her alcohol without eating dinner first, hence the nausea that pestered her now. It seemed to be the only plausible explanation.
“Neville Longbottom's office, Hogwarts School,” she coughed as the green flames flickered around her and sent her into a whirling spin that reminded Victoire of the Muggle toy that her Aunt Hermione had bought her when she was a child – a spinning top that had spun at dizzying speeds but was easily brought to a crashing halt.
It wasn't long before she stumbled out of her Head of House's fireplace, although for Victoire it felt like forever. She stumbled out onto the stone floor, wincing in pain as her foot twisted in her heels – she wished she'd thought to take them off before Flooing. Neville, who was immediately behind her, quickly steadied her and allowed her to sit in a chair in the corner. Victoire rubbed her ankle ruefully, before looking up to see her cousin Freddie.
“Are you all right, Tory?” he asked, an expression of worry etched upon his face as he rushed to her side. “I'm sorry for getting you in trouble, but no-one could find you and I was worried –”
“You were the one who ratted me out?” Victoire snapped, tears brimming in her eyes at his betrayal. “What happened to family loyalty?”
“Miss Weasley,” Neville's voice pierced the air, authoritativeness finally in his tone. “I believe your cousin thought, as I did, that you and your friends were adults and would not breach school rules as childishly as you did tonight. As neither you nor Miss Burrows have a history of rule-breaking, you'll both receive one detention and twenty points each will be taken from Gryffindor. Miss Fletcher, this is not your first offence and therefore the punishment will be greater – fifty points will be taken from Gryffindor and you'll receive a week's worth of detention.”
“But that's ninety points you're taking from Gryffindor!” Scarlett exclaimed. “All we were doing was having fun!”
“You can have fun inside of the school grounds, without breaking any rules,” Neville pointed out firmly.
“And yet we can't go out on one little trip?” Victoire asked scornfully.
“It's against the school rules, Miss Weasley, you're aware of that. Also, Wizardlife concerts tend to go on for quite some time –”
“I don't care!” she screeched. “I study until three o'clock in the morning and yet I still turn up to class and do my work just as well as everyone! And have you not considered that perhaps the seventh-years want to have fun that doesn't include refereeing the younger years every time there's a disagreement?”
“Miss Weasley –” Neville began, but Victoire was already halfway out of the door. “Miss Weasley!” he shouted, in case she hadn't heard him the first time.
“Oh fuck off!” Victoire swore in the direction of his office door, already halfway down the corridor, causing several portraits to either gasp in horror or glare witheringly at her as if looks could kill. And then she froze, the realization of what she had just said dawning upon her. She wasn't sure what had compelled her to do something so out of character, but she had a suspicion that her workload was part of the problem.
“I'll apologize to him tomorrow morning,” she said out loud, partly for the portraits' benefits. “I've just been stressed with my NEWTs, and it won't happen again.”
Taking a deep breath, she resumed walking back to Gryffindor Tower, but she couldn't quite manage to banish the little voice in the back of her head that kept insisting that she was lying to herself, not wanting to believe the truth. She shook her head to try to quieten it, adamant that it was wrong.
What could she possibly be lying to herself about?
Author's Note: I hope you like this new story! XD It was originally a one-shot, but after the length spiralled out of control I've split it into four parts, so this is chapter one of four. I'd love to hear what you think! :)
I'd also like to say a massive thank you to teh tarik for beta'ing this story and for being infinitely helpful when I asked 1,001 questions about pregnancy! Teh, you're fabulous! ♥