Chapter 2 : Victoire's Goodbye
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Teddy's lips are soft against her own, while his touch is nothing less than blissful. Happily contented in his arms, Victoire can't help wishing that Hogwarts is nearer home; though Teddy has promised that he will spend every Hogsmeade weekend with her, the next one is at Halloween in eight weeks' time and the thought of eight whole weeks without seeing her boyfriend is unbearable. What if he meets other girls who are prettier than her? Girls who are infinitely more intelligent, and charming, and witty; girls who make her pale into insignificance in comparison?
He will never betray her, Victoire knows, and yet there is a small part of her that cannot help fearing their love will struggle with the long distance between them. If only it were possible to sneak her boyfriend on board the train so that he can use his self-disguising abilities to masquerade as a student -- now that would be the perfect scenario.
As Teddy leans over to whisper into her ear and confess just how much he will miss her while she is at school, his voice reminds Victoire of the melodies she grew up playing on her mother's piano. Moments like these make her wish that she had been born two years earlier; being younger than Teddy has had its downfalls occasionally, but never more than now. Last year, their relationship had been its early throes -- flirting whenever they found themselves alone, sneaking innuendoes into the letters they owled each other, trying to find the courage to kiss the other -- but now, the pain is almost physical. She is just wondering whether Madam Pomfrey knows of a cure for broken hearts when Teddy's lips meet hers again, chasing all thoughts from her mind.
"Teddy!" a child's voice wails, interrupting their moment. "Teddy, are you kissing Victoire?"
They break apart to see James; thirteen years old but still as much of a pest as he had been when, at the age of eight, he had blundered into Bill's heartfelt speech to Fleur on their fifteenth wedding anniversary. For a brief moment, Victoire cannot help wondering if James is deliberately trying to Teddy's attention away from her; he considers Teddy his older brother, after all, and might perhaps see Victoire as his competition. However, as soon as she sees the innocence and curiosity in James' blue eyes, her doubts fade and are quickly replaced with the reminder that she sees neither of those things in Louis' eyes any more.
Teddy answers the younger boy and Victoire's attention is diverted to his hair, which has turned a shocking shade of pink. It is a regular occurrence whenever he is embarrassed, in much the same way that most people's cheeks blush, and she is amused by the looks on the faces of those passing by, who aren't aware of Teddy's Metamorphmagus abilities.
“I was,” he admits, “until you interrupted.”
James opens his mouth to reply, and quickly Victoire takes charge of the situation; she knows that the train is departing in a matter of moments, and she does not want her last memory of Teddy for the next two months to be marred by James spoiling the moment.
"We'll be late if you don't get a move on," she chides, gently nudging her younger cousin in the direction of his parents. "Go and say goodbye to Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny now, before the train leaves. You can always owl Teddy from the train, if it's that urgent."
As soon as James disappears into the swarm of parents and children, Victoire turns back to her boyfriend. The pink is fading from his hair, although he isn't aware. His eyes are firmly fixed upon her, and he doesn't even to seem to notice when a small first-year accidentally knocks her owl cage into his leg, or hear her apologies.
"I love you, Tory," he says, enveloping 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 nods. "I love you, Teddy; I always will."
The train conductor blows loudly on his whistle, bringing them both back to reality with a crashing halt. Victoire sighs and takes a deep breath as she fights back her tears and hugs Teddy once more before stepping onto the train. She is pleased with herself for putting her trunk on board as soon as she arrived on the platform so that she could stay with Teddy until the very last minute. There are other students standing by the window, and she has to squeeze in between them to lean out of the window and wave goodbye to Teddy. Her carefully-styled ponytail quickly becomes unkempt from the wind as the train gathers speed, but she doesn't care: the space between her and Teddy is growing longer every second, and as he walks towards her parents and Louis, she cannot divert her gaze from him.
When Platform Nine and Three Quarters fades out of sight, Victoire retreats back into the train corridor and starts nudging younger students towards the compartments bossily, showing off her Head Girl badge with pride. As they begin to disperse, she fills her thoughts with her to-do list: ensuring that Dominique and Roxanne aren't about to set the train on fire like they almost did in their third year (although that was quite by accident); finding her friends and catching up on all their summers before co-hosting the Prefect meeting; bribing one of the first-years to take photographs of their iconic journey across the lake as a gift for Louis who, as a Squib, never experienced that moment. Anything to take her mind off Teddy and the fact that for most of the next ten months, their time together will be incredibly sparse.
"Victoire!" a familiar voice shouts, followed by a screech. "Victoire Apolline Weasley!"
Slowly, the blonde turns around, wondering who could be speaking. The question quickly answers itself with the presence of her best friend, Scarlett Fletcher. Excitedly, the brunette girl reaches out, interlinks her hand with Victoire's arm and then proceeds to drag her into a nearby compartment -- a process that is hindered by the Head Girl's struggling, afraid that her head will collide with the doorframe. However, before Scarlett can complain, a third girl runs into the compartment and begins to jump up and down in excitement, causing her dark black curls to bounce.
"Benny told me!" she squeals. "Scarlett, please tell me you're not joking!"
Victoire is confused. Alaina, the newcomer, is her other best friend and the third member of their trio. Like Scarlett, she does not have a boyfriend, so Victoire's conclusion is that Scarlett divulged her secret to Benny, Alaina's younger brother, who has passed this on while Victoire was saying her goodbyes to Teddy.
In response, Scarlett reaches into her pocket and retrieves three navy blue slips with a well-known boyband logo emblazoned upon and begins to wave them vigorously in the air. Determined to read the text upon them, Victoire and Alaina both snatch a slip each out of their friend's fist, to her mock horror.
"Wizardlife tickets!" Alaina gasps, pretending to faint onto her seat. "They're supposed to be sold out! And oh my god, they're backstage passes!"
Victoire is equally surprised, sitting down quickly before exclaiming, "At The Three Broomsticks! In October!"
There is no need to ask how Scarlett has managed to procure tickets that are impossible to get hold of: they all know that her father is Mundungus Fletcher, a notorious wheeler-dealer willing to buy and sell anything he can get his hands upon. It is the reason that Victoire's parents are sceptical of their friendship, worried that Scarlett is a bad influence, particularly as she is much closer to Mundungus than to her Italian mother. While their concern has lessened, mainly due to Victoire's ability to leave no trace of her rule-breaking, she knows that they will most certainly investigate Mundungus' source for the tickets if they know about them -- probably why Scarlett did not send the ticket to her during the summer or mention it in a letter, and didn't search for her on the platform. As Muggle-borns, Alaina and Benny do not suffer a similar fate, since their parents have no idea of Mundungus' reputation.
Scarlett continues to stand, a triumphant expression on her face. "I have even better news! Dad bought them for my birthday; he said he thought I'd enjoy the concert with you two, so you don't have to pay for those tickets."
Astonished, Victoire gasps happily and jumps up to hug Scarlett, with Alaina closely following suit. Wizardlife are an immensely popular band loved by the majority of the Hogwarts population, and her favourite band, who she has adored since the age of thirteen. She has never seen them in concert yet, as her parents have been unable to afford tickets with the cost of raising three children, and is not about to pass up this opportunity to finally do so.
"There's just one problem," Alaina sighs, glancing at the ticket again. "The concert is on a Thursday -- I know because Benny's birthday is the day before -- and I'm sure because you're Head Girl, Tory, and we're seventh-years, the professors might let us go if it was on a weekend but because we'll have school on the Friday, they definitely won't give us permission to leave the castle."
"Eh," Scarlett answers, gesticulating nonchalantly as the trio sit down. "We can sneak out; if we plan it well in advance, it won't be a problem."
"How will we manage it, though? Will you have access to the professors' patrol schedule as well as the Prefects' schedule?" Alaina asks.
Suddenly an idea occurs to Victoire. She stands up quickly, surprising both of her friends.
"I think I know a way," she explains. "I just need to find James."
Scarlett's query is left hanging in the air as Victoire runs out of the compartment and down the corridor, checking the window each compartment door in search of her younger cousin. Luckily, he is only three compartments down from hers, sitting in the middle of a circle of first-years and talking animatedly. As she slides open the compartment door, she hears whispering among the nervous eleven-year-olds as they listen to the older boy.
"...and Sprout isn't even the Headmistress' real name," he is saying. "No-one knows what it really is, except that it's the name people gave her when they realised what she looks like."
"What does she look like?" a blond boy sitting next to Rose asks. Victoire does a quick double-take in surprise as she realises that he is Scorpius Malfoy; especially given the history between her Uncle Ron and Scorpius' father. However, before she can do or say anything, James answers his question.
"She's this tall," he says, pointing at a spot on the wall just below the ceiling, "and this big," and he stretches out his arms to indicate Professor Sprout's apparent width, "and she's BRIGHT GREEN! And --"
He is interrupted by the younger students gasping, and Victoire takes the opportunity to intercept her little cousin by poking him in the shoulder and when he turns, motions for him to follow her out into the corridor. When the compartment door is closed behind James, she drops her voice to a whisper.
"I need the map."
"What map?" James asks, pretending not to know what she is talking about. However, Victoire can see through his act -- she is the eldest Weasley cousin; she's feigned that expression many times over the years.
"The map you pinched out of Uncle Harry's desk," she says matter-of-factly, as if she is referring to a map taken out of the library with permission. "Let me borrow it for a couple of hours, or I'll tell Uncle Harry where it went."
Blackmail is clearly effective: James looks horrified at the prospect. "Okay, okay," he says, running back into his compartment, presumably to retrieve the map in question. Victoire cannot hold back a small chuckle at his panic; her Uncle Harry is quite willing to let his children use it provided the resulting mischief isn't dangerous or illegal, and only initially planned to scold James for stealing it until Uncle Ron reminded him of the circumstances in which he had stolen it back once. When he returns with the map, Victoire beams and kisses his cheek as a thank-you, laughing when he uses his sleeve to rub off her saliva vigorously.
When she returns, Scarlett and Alaina have moved from their seats to the floor and have quills in their hands with an open inkwell and several sheets of parchment on the carpet, plotting their great adventure. Victoire grins and squeezes in between them, placing the empty map on the carpet in front of them all.
"Is this what you wanted from James?" Scarlett asks with a raised eyebrow. "Blank parchment? We've got plenty of that."
Victoire laughs and shakes her head. "This is something that was designed precisely for sneaking around and out of the castle."
Confused, her friends watch as she places the tip of her wand on the parchment.
"I solemnly swear that I am up to no good..."
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