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The Second Act by kenpo
Chapter 2 : Intermission
 
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I sat down at the kitchen table with a steaming cup of tea and a slice of toast. It was hot. Much hotter than I was used to. I could feel beads of sweat forming on my arms, but I wasn’t sure if the heat was the only reason. An owl came through the open window and delivered my paper. I flipped to the back and, even though I knew it was there, was surprised by what I saw.

Edward (Teddy) Remus Lupin, 55, died early Tuesday morning of natural causes.

Teddy was born on the tenth of April, 1998, to Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks. After the passing of his parents, he was raised by his maternal grandmother, Andromeda Tonks. He attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Following his graduation, Teddy worked in the Ministry in the Department of Human Transfiguration. His most notable accomplishments were expanding the jurisdiction of his department to include those with lycanthropy, therefore removing werewolves from the category of “Magical Beasts”; and co-founding an organization to give aid to children afflicted with lycanthropy, the Ministry of the Open-Minded Operation of the Night’s Youth (more commonly known as M.O.O.N.Y.).

He is survived by his wife, Victoire, and their two children, Charlotte and Remus.

--There will be a private viewing on Sunday morning. Any parties who would like to pay their respects are invited to contact Remus Lupin for details. In lieu of flowers, it is requested that donations be given to M.O.O.N.Y..--

That was it. My husband’s whole life summed up in just 134 words, not counting the note about funeral arrangements.

I’d made the decision not to publish the details. Although Teddy wasn’t famous, the opportunity to see Harry Potter grieve might have drawn unwanted attention. Ginny and Harry offered to use their influence with the paper to have a longer article published, but I knew that Teddy wouldn’t want that. The only thing I insisted on was that he be referred to as “Teddy” and not “Edward”. Nobody ever called him Edward. Even at our wedding, he was Teddy. Always Teddy. My Teddy.

That last line…. “He is survived by his wife, Victoire….”

It made the assumption that I, his wife, would survive. I wasn’t so sure.

The day that Teddy died was the worst day of my life, without any conceivable competition.

I lost my husband. I lost my best friend, and my childrens’ father. I lost my chef and my proof-reader. I lost my navigator and my masseuse. I lost my life-long companion and partner. I lost my support. Teddy Lupin was the Savior of My World, but he was dead.

And, according to the obituary, I was just supposed to go on and survive.

I felt a pair of arms wrap around my shoulders.

“Mum, I didn’t hear you get up.”

I looked up to see Remus. “I got up early to wait for the paper.” I gestured at the open page and he wordlessly read it before sitting down opposite me.

“Is Charlotte still sleeping?” I asked. To answer my question, a baby’s cry came from the upper floor.

“Not anymore,” Remus muttered.

I heard the floorboard above my head squeak as Charlotte rose to comfort her infant. I looked across the table at my son. He looked grey. His hair lacked any color, and his eyes were blank. They’d been like that since Teddy died.

It wasn’t sudden. We all knew it was coming. In February, the Healers told us that he had about half a year to live. Punctual as always, he took his final breath sixth months later, on the dot.

I’d like to think that I held myself together well, right up until the end. During his last weeks, I arranged visits so that he was rarely alone but never overwhelmed. I kept him bathed and comfortable (I wouldn’t let the Healer Interns bath him; they were too rough). I made sure that he was given good, nutritious meals.

I told him that I loved him. Every single day, many times a day. Every time I left the room, I said “I’ll be right back, I love you”, or “I’ll see you soon, I love you”, or on the occasional night that I didn’t sleep there, “Goodnight, hun, I love you”.

Every single time. Just in case.

Luckily, I was there when he died. I was there, and the kids. I got into the bed with him and rested his head on my chest. I rubbed his hair out of his face, doing what I could to alleviate the pain that wasn’t eliminated by the potions. Charlotte and Remus stood by his side. Remus held Teddy’s hand, and Charlotte wrapped her arms around her brother’s waist, leaning her head on his shoulder.

His entire life, Teddy wasn’t afraid to die. It was something that he shared with Harry. That isn’t to say that he ever wanted to die, but it was something that he accepted at a very young age.

He regularly preached that death was no more or less than an adventure, but I worried that when the time came, he would lose his courage and doubt himself when faced with the unknown.

I was happily wrong. He didn’t waver a degree from his belief. He wasn’t frightened.

He was hopeful.

Teddy was never very religious, but while he was dying, I think he was silently praying to the Lord that his parents would be there to meet him and help him move to the other side.

I’d like to think that they were.

I didn’t cry until he died, and then all I did was cry. There were paper that I needed to sign, which Charlotte and Remus handled for me.

Just like when my mother died, I wouldn’t have been able to get through the next weeks without my children.

That night, we all stayed together. Charlotte arranged to have one of her friends take care of her daughter, Iris, who had been born a month prior to Teddy’s death (normally, I would have been upset that she had a child out of wedlock, but Teddy was just so happy to become a grandfather that I didn’t mind). Remus went to the closet in the hall and levitated a bundle of blankets taller than him into my bedroom. He put them all on the bed in a pile and the three of us buried ourselves in the fluffy comfort.

Charlotte went to her old room and brought back a small library of children’s books. We snuggled together and took turns reading them to each other, eventually falling asleep.

The next morning, Charlotte and Remus decided to stay at home for a few days. Remus dug through the attic and found their old crib. He dusted it off and brought it into Charlotte’s old room so that Iris would have a place to sleep.

It was nice to have my children back home, if only for a week. Dominique and Louis came over with groceries and made sure I was taken care of. I didn’t leave my bed for three days, during which time Dominique and Charlotte took turns laying with me, only leaving me alone at night. Louis and Remus took the job of planning the funeral. I was grateful to not have been a part of it.

I’m sure the service was lovely, but I don’t remember much from it. Faceless people came by again and again to offer meaningless condolences. People took the notice in the paper to heart. The room was devoid of flowers, but the collection jar for M.O.O.N.Y. was full to the brim of Sickles and Galleons. We counted it, and it was enough to provide a year’s Wolfsbane potion to ten children.

Teddy would’ve liked that.

Remus had to go back to his flat in London two days after the funeral. He had a demanding Ministry job and couldn’t take much time off.

Charlotte and Iris stayed with me for two months. Charlotte was a painter, so she could realistically work from anywhere. She processed her grief through her art. In those two months, I think she produced a painting a week. Soon, my entire sitting room was filled with her art, just as it was when she was a teenager.

She painted a small, delicate portrait of Iris asleep in my arms. The painting hardly moved; just the slight rocking of my arms and the occasional twitch of the baby’s nose.

Another of the paintings was loud and abstract. The colors swirled together rapidly, taking on new shapes and mixing into brighter hues. I had to turn that one around so that the canvas was facing the wall; it made me dizzy to look at.

She painted an entire series that I looked at quite a bit. When I was lonely, they made me feel better.

It was us, the four of us. Our lives. She painted dozens of scenes that the figures interacted with: Teddy and I throwing flour at each other, laughing, while Charlotte and Remus watched in amazement; Teddy pushing Charlotte on the swingset in the garden while I picked flowers with Remus; us at a picnic on one of the hills surrounding our home; us at the dinner table, with Remus’ hair changing every few seconds while Charlotte roared with laughter.

The four of us, huddled in bed, reading stories.

Sometimes, I stayed up late, just to watch the painted family climb into the bed together and read the stories. When they were finished with their stories, I could finally sleep.

It was months before I could feel any joy without looking at the painting. It was months before I felt like me again.

It was almost a year later when I made a decision that pulled me out of my grief and made me feel whole again.

I was sitting by the fire, reading a book about the Second Wizarding World, when I realised that I didn’t own a book that focused primarily on the Battle of Hogwarts. Flabberghasted, I quickly Floo’d to the Library, where I realised that the type of book I was looking for didn’t appear to exist.

I wrote to some of my friends, and the general consensus was that, while there were detailed accounts of the Battle within other books, the world lacked a single work devoted just to that day.

So, I decided to bring that work into existence. A complete, uncensored account of the Battle of Hogwarts.

I started conducting interviews. With everyone.

First, I talked to the members of my family, but I didn’t want to have a biased book. I made an effort to have information from all sides of the battle.

I made a trip to Hogwarts Kitchens and listened to the stories that the House-Elves at the Battle had passed on. I wandered into the Forbidden Forest (much to the dismay of Charlotte) and had a conversation with an agreeable centaur. I spoke to dozens of portraits, and was even able to convince the Grey Lady to give me an interview.

I received an incredibly interesting artifact from an unexpected source while I was interviewing my Aunt Hermione and Uncle Ron. I’d already questioned them for information for the first half of the book, where I was going to simply give a detailed account of the events that took place during the Battle. I was now onto the second and more painful part of the book; dedications to every witch, wizard, and beast that lost their lives that day. Each person would get a chapter. Some of them were, unfortunately, incredibly short, while others (such as Severus Snape’s) were nearly so long that they could be a book of their own.

“Is there anyone that you don’t have much information on?” Aunt Hermione asked sweetly.

I started listing the names of those who I had less than a page to write about when I heard the front door open and turned around to see my cousin, Rose, and her husband, Scorpius enter.

“Victoire! I wasn’t expecting you to be here!”

I rose to hug her and briefly explained the reason for my visit.

“You’re really getting all of the accounts? Everything?” Scorpius asked, his eyes lighting up with curiosity.

“Every last detail,” I responded affirmatively.

He nodded and muttered, almost to himself, “I’ll be right back.”

He Apparated and we waited in awkward silence for about five minutes. I thought that perhaps, given his family history, I’d upset him. When he returned, I found out that I was wrong.

He slowly walked into the sitting room, holding out a small leather book.

“It’s my father’s diary. I read it after he passed, and… most of it is about the Battle. It really changed him. I think it could be very useful to you.”

I could hardly believe it. Draco Malfoy was one of the most allusive historical figures of the last century. He’d managed to escape a fate of Azkaban and was pardoned for all his war crimes when, at his trial, Harry showed up and gave a character testimony. Neither of them ever divulged any information as to why.

“Scorpius… are you sure?”

He nodded. “If there’s anyone who I know will give him fair treatment, it’s you.”

I was nearly in tears when I threw my arms around him in a gesture of absolute gratitude. He was obviously uncomfortable with my sudden display of affection. Uncle Ron, sensing the tension, cleared his throat.

“Did you say you needed information on Colin Creevey?”

I nodded, glancing down at my list. He replied, “I think we’ve got his brother’s address around here somewhere. You could give him a visit. He might even still have some of the pictures Colin took around somewhere. They buried Colin with his camera, but I believe they developed the film first.”

I nodded, excited by the prospect of photographs. I left, and when I got home immediately sat down to write a letter to Colin’s brother.

It turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made.

Dennis was very interested in my book. He did have pictures from the Battle, and he graciously allowed me to use them in the book, saying that nothing would’ve made Colin happier.

At first, we were just friends. His interest in my book created a situation where we spent a large amount of time together. He was, conviently, an editor and he gladly read over everything I wrote.

Our friendship grew quickly. His wife, Arabella, lost her life to the same disease that took Teddy a few years before he was diagnosed.

A year and a half after we met, my book, which I titled simply The Second of May, was accepted for publication.

We decided to go out to dinner to celebrate, but started arguing when the subject of where to go arose.

“There’s this new muggle restaurant, it’s really swanky. We should go there.”

“No, Dennis,” I replied. “Why can’t we just go to Antonio’s?” Antonio’s was a small restaurant just a few blocks away from my house. It served decent enough food; Remus and Charlotte always took my there when they visited.

“You always go to Antonio’s. Expand your horizons.”

“I don’t want to expand my horizons! I’m very fine with where I am now.”

“You’re so old. You act like a widow,” he said, frowning comically.

“I am a widow! And you’re one to talk, you’re sixteen years older than me.”

He shrugged. “So? If you didn’t know that, would you guess it?”

“Probably not,” I admitted. He was oddly youthful. Sometimes even annoyingly youthful. There was nothing wrong with having a restaurant that you liked to go to.

Eventually, he convinced me to go with him to the ‘swanky’ restaurant. Although I adamantly refused to admit it, I did find it enjoyable, despite the fact that we were at least twenty years older than most of the patrons. When we were done eating, he reached for the bill.

“No, let’s split it,” I said.

“Victoire, we’re out celebrating your accomplishment, let me pay. I insist.”

“But then It’ll seem like we’re on a date,” I said.

He smiled mischieviously. “Let me pay.”

I blushed, but didn’t object when he reached again for the bill.

If there was a single moment that we became romantically involved, it was probably that one, although I’d hardly define us as “dating” after that point. For months, we still had a friendly relationship, but he would pay when we went out. Not long after that, we started holding hands when we walked together. I don’t remember the first time we kissed; all of a sudden, we were kissing each other goodbye as if we’d been doing it our whole lives. We never discussed moving in together, but one day while I was looking for a pair of trousers, I saw that half the wardrobe was taken up with Dennis’s clothes.

Sometimes, I couldn’t help but draw comparisons between Teddy and Dennis.

Teddy made me feel safe, while Dennis forced me to take risks. Dennis acted like a child, and made me feel young again. Teddy drew me in with his cool maturity. Teddy gave me a simple proposal, while Dennis gave me lavish one.

We were on a trip to Ireland, which he had surprised me with for my birthday. It was a lovely time of year to visit, and we were blessed with a week almost entirely without rain. We were visiting the Cliffs of Moher when he gestured towards the water below us.

“What’s that?” he asked.

I looked down, and thought I saw the water rippling in odd patterns. Very suddenly, a mermaid leapt out of the water.

“Was that…,” I started to ask before another pair of mermaids confirmed my suspicions.

There must’ve been a dozen mermaids down there in the water, doing what I could only describe as dancing.

“Did you do this?” I asked, drawing my gaze away from the spectacle for just long enough to see a look of wonder in Dennis’s eyes.

He nodded, beaming.

I couldn’t believe he’d managed to arrange it. “How? Why?”

He smiled. “I hired a translator to speak to the Selkies in the Black Lake. I told them about your book, and how you credited them and their contributions during the Battle. They were happy to give me a connect to their cousins over here.”

The mermaids seemed to have finished their dance. One of them waved at us before they dived back into the water.

“But… why?” I asked, turning to face him. For a moment, I wondered where he’d gone before realising that he was down on one knee.

“So that when I did this, you’d be so mystified that you’d have to say ‘yes’.”

He pulled out a small box and cracked it open.

I said yes.




 

Author's Note: Let me know what you think about Victoire's Intermission! It's written in a very different format than Act I, so I'm curious to hear what the thoughts are about it. Good or bad, I wanna hear it all, so leave me a review! It'll make me smile!


 

 

 

 

 


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