Chapter 1 : Glass
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Emptiness. Teddy Lupin mused thoughtfully over the word as he allowed the afternoon sun to play lovingly over the bright blue strands of his hair, the heady smell of ocean air carrying a sort of peace that he never truly felt, even when he dreamed. Restlessness stirred in him like a typhoon but he had given up trying to figure out what was nagging at the back of his heart, especially when he doubted he possessed the organ in the first place, “You're a cold hearted bastard.” Was the last thing his girlfriend had shrieked before she'd stormed out of his flat.
Teddy felt his lips twist up in an amused smile as he stuffed his hands into his trouser pockets, taking in the endless waves of blue before him. The boisterous sounds of laughter and conversation drifted lazily to his ears and he angled his head towards the large cottage in the distance, which was the home of his Uncle Percy and Aunt Audrey, two of the most eccentric people that he had ever met. The couple were an unusual pair but he supposed that it couldn't be helped when Aunt Audrey had once worked in a strip club in Muggle London before she had fallen in love with his uncle, married him and turned his life upside down.
Teddy had grown so accustomed to their ridiculous antics that it no longer shocked him, their disregard for formality was what made them so endearing. He inhaled pleasurably, allowing his lungs to fill with salty ocean air before exhaling, the stiffness in his shoulders vanishing slowly until he was almost relaxed and at ease. Even though he never felt as if he truly belonged, the Weasley family had never treated him any differently than they did the other children but he couldn't help but think that there was something empty in him.
That restlessness that he could never quite be rid of humming around him until he could barely sleep, could hardly stand to breathe. It was a very strange sensation but he wasn't certain what he needed or wanted from his life and pushed the feeling away until it lay throbbing in the back of his mind like a nightmare. Frowning slightly, Teddy gazed around the beach as if the answer was within reach and only came in contact with the hazy forms of his cousins playing enthusiastically in the sand like bright flashes of a dream.
“At least they're having fun,” he muttered moodily, turning away from the aggravating sight as he took in the ocean waves once more, his eyes narrowed. There were dozens of happy memories to blot out the darker ones and Teddy allowed them to fill him up, his aggravation ebbing away almost immediately. A brief amount of piece soothed him as he recalled happier times as a child, his heart briefly coming to life with something that felt almost genuine. Running through the soft grass of the Burrow in the spring and devouring fresh watermelon on the beach during the summer with sticky pink juice sliding between his dirty fingers...those were the simplest but most precious memories that he had.
On those rare occasions when Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny were too busy with work or their own growing family to look after him, he had spent most of his time over at Uncle George and Aunt Angie's place in Diagon Alley. That loud, mismatched flat over the joke shop was home. Waves of nostalgic pleasure chased away the dark thoughts in his mind as Teddy closed his eyes, trying desperately to block out the dismaying image of his own flat, which was cold and sterile like the house he had grown up in with his bitter grandmother.
It had been a few weeks since he had last seen the imposing older woman but he couldn't help but hesitate at the thought of being forced into that place and hearing her grief stricken sobs. Andromeda Tonks had lost everyone that had ever been precious to her during the War and the unbearable trauma was etched into the very marrow of her bones, the force of it more destructive than poison. Although Teddy knew that his grandmother loved him dearly, there was a wall between them nonetheless and it had been hard growing up with the dark cloud of the past lingering over their heads.
Even though Teddy knew it was despicable, he often wondered if she would have been better off if his mother had never fallen for his father. Surely, she would be happier with the knowledge that her only daughter would be alive if it weren't for him...but these weren't the sorts of thoughts that he had ever dared to voice out loud. Uncle Harry would be immediately outraged and heartbroken but Teddy had never been able to stop a flood of resentment from bubbling in his blood, it festered and danced with him each night but was too horrible to put into words.
It wasn't right of him to actually hate his father when he had always been told such great things about him. It wasn't right. What kind of son was he? What kind of ungrateful little shit actually thought this way about their own father? Teddy felt his mood slipping quickly and withdrew his hand from his pocket to run it through his bright blue hair, disgusted with himself. Hadn't this shade of blue been his father's favorite color? That was what Uncle Harry had told him a few years ago and even if he hated him, some part wanted to be like him too.
It was such a contrasting emotion that his stomach roiled unpleasantly, like the time he had decided to drink too many shots of ten year old firewhiskey. The gritty sand beneath his bare feet seemed to shift into quicksand and for a few painful moments the entire ocean appeared to blur into a mindless stretch of...nothing. Emptiness. That's what he was. Teddy scowled and wondered why he had decided to bother coming today, he always allowed his maudlin thoughts to take him to unsavory places when he found himself at family gatherings.
But today was Aunt Audrey's birthday and aside from Uncle Charlie, who hadn't been able to make it this year, the entire family had set aside their schedules to come celebrate. Teddy knew that they would have never been able to forgive him if he had never shown up and the joy that was pulsing around him was infectious. Annoying. Perhaps if he scraped together some sort of excuse, they would allow him to leave without asking too many probing questions but Teddy wasn't certain what he would do once he managed to escape, there were various activities that he could lose himself in that would help pass the time.
It wouldn't be enough to keep that restlessness at bay and he didn't want to be alone, he doubted if he would be able to face himself. Teddy didn't know what sort of trouble he would get into if he were left to his own devices, “You're a greedy, selfish prick.” A friend from Hogwarts had once told him after a vicious argument, looking both pitying and repulsed. The words might as well have been a compliment and over the past seventeen years, Teddy had been called quite a few elaborate things but he could have told the girl that it had been her own fault.
For some asinine reason she had actually expected something genuine out of him and he couldn't feel sorry for her lapse in judgment. An enormous amount of pity went through him at her mishap, “Two months and she thought it was actually love,” he whispered dryly under his breath. “Merlin, at some point I'm going to have to try and remember her name.” The past two months seemed to have sped by in an insufferable blur of drunken kisses, choreographed sexual positions and a feeling that he was being properly smothered.
Teddy shivered visibly at such a frightening existence but made a mental note to stop picking up girls from bars in Knockturn Alley. He wasn't even quite sure how he had picked up his last girlfriend, aside from waking up next to her after a wild night of drinking. It was a sign of how irresponsible he was that it didn't surprise him. With all the debase things that he had done over the course of his short life, he was stunned that he hadn't been murdered, “You should just spare the entire female population and keep your paws to yourself.” His best friend, Fred Weasley the Second was always fond of saying. “It would bring peace to the world,” he'd tease.
Fred had always had a way of making him see the mistakes in his life more clearly but Teddy usually disregarded his advice in favor of living for the moment, too restless and antsy to stay still. In the process, he was certain that he had hurt quite a few people but he didn't think that it was possible for him to feel sorry, most of the girls that he messed around with knew his reputation but sought him out anyway. It was as if they thought he was some sort of new game and if there was one thing that he excelled at, it was making people regret being anywhere near him,“They're all so desperate that they'll fall in love with anyone, even me.” He found himself muttering ruefully, “God help them.”
The words carried the usual amount of laziness and revulsion that he had adopted to perfection but he had never given his aversion to falling in love too much worry. Teddy didn't consider himself to be a romantic like some of the silly girls that he had dated, especially when he had always abhorred the thought of becoming a complete ninny over someone...something about the entire act that was too vulnerable. Unveiling his dirty, ugly self to anyone was nearly enough to make his heart stop beating with terror, he couldn't think of anything more terrifying than allowing himself to be loved by anyone foolish enough to care.
Teddy had never been more frightened of anything in his entire life and felt that it was far too dangerous to dwell on these bizarre feelings for long but he couldn't help but ponder on them. Despite the hopeful efforts of dozens of young women, he had always privately thought that love was a nasty little thing that people couldn't help but seek even when they were better off without it, like a bit of fire too hot to turn away from. A strange shiver went through him, “Teddy, w-watch out!” a shrill voice suddenly cried just before a large beach ball smacked roughly into the side of his head.
Teddy grunted in both surprise and irritation, barely managing to stay on his feet as the plastic monstrosity bounced away into the sand, very pleased with itself. A few hours earlier, he had quietly slipped away from his cousins to have a bit of privacy until the empty feeling dissipated and wasn't in the mood to be kind, “What the hell is your problem?!” he snapped furiously, rubbing the side of his head. The impact had hardly hurt but his common sense had fled and his foul mood was as vicious as a hailstorm, “why don't you watch what you're doing!” he barked furiously, knowing how foolish he must look.
“S-sorry, Teddy. I didn't do it on p-purpose,” came the nervous reply.
Annoyed by the meek apology, Teddy rounded on his attacker with all the viciousness of a banshee but found himself stiffening as he was confronting with a pair of big, heavily lashed blue eyes. They were nearly the exact shade of the ocean itself, the breath suddenly lodging tightly in his throat for several seconds before he forced himself to choke out a reply, “Well.” His chest felt uncomfortably tight and the hairs on the back of his neck began to stand up in sharp awareness, “this isn't a very pleasant surprise,” he managed to drawl lazily, unable to hold his enemy's stare.
Dominique Weasley frowned slightly at the cutting words and he watched with wary interest as a pink blush swept across her pale, thin cheeks. Although Teddy couldn't begin to guess what she may have been thinking, he had the distinct feeling that her thoughts of him were highly unpleasant and he ran his eyes over her critically, as if he were facing off against some nameless beast. Instead of flaunting herself in a swimsuit, she wore a pair of baggy denim shorts, a long green t-shirt and battered trainers that gave her the wholesome appearance of a ten year old girl instead of a blossoming fourteen-year-old. “I told you to w-watch out,” she muttered irritably, holding his gaze unflinchingly.
“I probably wasn't able to understand you,” Teddy remarked meanly, trying to hold her unblinking stare and failing miserably as those eyes ran over him without blinking. Dominique blushed a sharper pink at the cruel words, it had been beyond rude to make fun of the fact that she stuttered and both of them knew it but he doubted if she would be brave enough to defend herself. It was one of the many things that he couldn't stand about her already, “but for the record, Dom you should really try to speak up,” he added insolently, still vastly uncomfortable.
Teddy had never been able to pinpoint what it was exactly about this harmless girl that had always made him unsettled but he supposed it was because he had never thought of her as human. Even though the thought was more than a little ridiculous, there had always been something otherworldly and fragile about her, she reminded him of an ice queen with her pale blonde hair and delicate skin. The queen of the underworld probably had more life in her veins than this creature, “I told you to w-watch out,” Dominique replied feebly, her eyes narrowing slightly. “And its not like you're in s-some horrible p-pain.” She murmured crisply, still holding his eyes.
“It actually did hurt.” Teddy lied, peeved.
“Then maybe you sh-should have moved out of the way,” Dominique stunned him by snapping.
The retort caused Teddy to reel back in surprise but he quickly recovered, amazed by this little bit of spunk in her character. Despite the close bond between some of their relatives, he had always found the girl to be haughty, bitter and distant but also found her to be a self-righteous bore even though some part of him could somehow understand. It was more than apparent to everyone in the family that Dominique's parents favored Victoire over their other two children and while he should have been more sympathetic, her constant moping was irritating, she had easily allowed herself to slip into the background and was probably nothing but a brief memory in their home.
Teddy wasn't sure if Louis was even acknowledged and he had always thought that the kid was far too guarded and serious for a twelve-year old. The years of careful neglect and disinterest had caused Dominique to become unbearably quiet and reserved, it was rare for her to engage in conversation on her own without being gently pushed into it and he found her parent's neglect ironic when she was the one who resembled their mother the most. Although no one else had really noticed, he had seen the flash of bitterness in her deep blue eyes whenever their parents compared her every flaw to the impeccable image of her older sister.
Aunt Fleur and Uncle Bill might have managed to groom their three children to sparkling perfection in for the sake of their upstanding reputations but Teddy had seen the cracks in their family more clearly now that he was older. Their forced smiles had made disgusted him as a child and even now, he loathed watching the two of them preening and ignoring their children's needs. He acknowledged his many flaws without hesitation but he could only imagine how lonely it must be for a child to be completely ignored by their own parents and he would have felt sorry for the predicament that Dominique and her younger brother were in if she didn't have the arrogance to expect everyone to.
Teddy would never be able to tolerate a person's need for pity and it was something that nearly made him severely sick to his stomach. The thought of offering an amount of compassion to the girl had crossed his mind more than once but Dominique was far too proud to bother with lesser mortals such as himself and her snooty attitude had always annoyed him. A frosty disposition didn't even begin to describe her correctly and the icy facade that she'd crafted around her was like an impenetrable shield against the rest of the world. He had wasted several minutes fantasizing about breaking it apart little by little, until she was forced to be human again.
There would be something so fulfilling about breathing some life into her and Teddy suddenly found himself looking away from those creepy blue eyes. Dominique had a way of looking a person as if she could see right through to their very soul and he had always felt uncomfortably exposed, there was something about the way she looked at him that made his body go numb. The sensation nearly overcame him just then but he managed to push it down, “Maybe you should work on your aim, Dom-Dom.” He found himself saying coolly, resorting to using a nickname he knew that she hated. It brought him endless pleasure to annoy her, “but you're a disaster at sports so I don't expect you to have much skill.”
Dominique's blue eyes narrowed into slits and she shifted in the sand impatiently, her pale blonde hair turning into silver underneath the hot blaze of the sun. Teddy thought the thin strands might be softer than silk under his fingertips and he stiffened slightly, the disturbing image came as clearly to him as if he had actually reached out to touch her and he inwardly shuddered. Tall and slender, she seemed to throb with some superior power, as if she found the mortal world around her to be highly lacking and he would much rather seduce a cactus. Or a porcupine, “Teddy, j-just give me the ball b-back,” she commanded sharply, looking surprised by the anger that was in her tone. “I'm not in the mood to p-play games with y-you.”
Unlike Victoire, who had the temperament of an active volcano, Teddy had never seen Dominique angry and he was vastly curious on what that onslaught of emotion might be like. Despite how aggravating he had always found her, there was just something so...amusing about picking on her and making her upset so that she would be forced to become real— “Trying to get more athletic, Dom-Dom?” he asked her lightly as he scooped up the beach ball before she could make a grab for it, a grin spreading across his face at her dismayed grunt. “You could use the muscle, a strong wind could blow you over if you're not careful.”
“I was p-playing with Lucy if you m-must know,” Dominique replied irritably, her eyes going to the beach ball in his hands before locking stubbornly onto his amused face. Lucy Weasley had always been her best friend and Teddy found it peculiar that two completely different girls could be so close, it was bizarre to watch them together. Lucy was extremely loud, crude and didn't have the consideration to think before she spoke and he supposed that it would have attracted someone as reserved, soft and polite as Dominique. “Since you're being n-nice enough to ask.” She said acidly.
Teddy smirked thinly. “Feisty today, aren't we?”
Dominique's cheeks turned a bit pinker and he ran his eyes over her for a moment, wondering what sort of figure she could possibly have underneath her frumpy clothes. A limp noodle probably had more curves and he guessed that she would never possess any luscious assets, “Its not like I was t-trying to b-bother you or anything,” the girl said sourly, her eyes darting away from him for the first time as she seemed to read his mind. Her blush deepened at his rude stare, “y-you can stop making it seem like I w-went out of my way to pester you or s-something.”
“You bother me just by breathing, Dom.” Teddy replied with brutal honesty as he regarded the beach ball in his hands. It was a bright, almost blinding red and he tossed it expertly in the air before catching it just before her fingertips would have grazed it, her eyes narrowing in frustration over the fact that he was obviously baiting her for a reaction. The fact that he tended to bully all of his cousins ruthlessly shouldn't have come as a surprise to any of his relatives by this point if they happened to notice the two of them but he privately considered her to be his favorite, “what were you two losers playing that's so important to get back to?”
Dominique's cheeks shifted from a hot pink to a blistering red in a matter of seconds and it was obvious that she was growing more upset the longer she had to endure his company. But instead of walking away in a fit of disgruntled anger, her fists clenched with determination and Teddy couldn't hide his astonishment...this little mishap was starting to become a bit more interesting, “Would you st-stop being such a p-prat?” the girl snapped impatiently, her blue eyes darkening. “Just give me t-the ball Teddy!” she said firmly, making a brave step towards him.
“Or?” Teddy taunted carelessly, holding his ground.
An impatient sound came from Dominique's lips and it caused a peculiar reaction in the center of his stomach, his mind immediately twisting and turning with things that he would rather not consider. Taking another bold step towards him, the girl reached out to take the beach ball from his hands, “I thought you were s-supposed to be s-seventeen! Just g-give it to me,” she commanded with weary irritation, her blue eyes flicking up to his. The scent of her attacked his nostrils like a hailstorm and he detected the faint aroma of lavender and sweet summer sunshine, “give it to me, T-Teddy.” Her voice had risen slightly, her eyes narrowed.
Teddy felt his body tensing with a completely different sensation and he stared down into her pale face with childish amusement, lips pulled back in a snarky smile. Last year, he had gotten a gold tooth to replace the one that he had lost in a bar fight and from the distasteful look that came across Dominique's flushed face, she didn't approve but her obvious distaste only made him want to irritate her all the more. It was a temptation he couldn't resist, “If you say that louder, people will think we're actually having a decent conversation.” He replied, grinning devilishly. “You can tell all of your imaginary friends about it since you don't have any real ones.”
Dominique's pale cheeks turned scarlet and her lips parted as if she were on the verge of making some scathing remark before she thought better of it. A thousand insults flickered in her blue eyes and the sight caused the hairs on the back of his neck to stand up in reaction...there was something far more compelling about this girl than he had ever thought before. Teddy felt his smile widening as he stared down at her pursed mouth, the hue of her lips reminding him of ripe strawberries, “Y-you're such a pig,” the girl muttered with loathing as he lifted the beach ball over his head, amused by her feeble attempt to take it from him anyway.
Even though Dominique was taller than her older sister, Teddy still towered over her easily and he was able to hold her off without much effort. Being one of the Chasers on the Gryffindor Quidditch team had given him better reflexes than most and he was amused by her clumsy attempts to snatch the beach ball from him, “You really want to get on the conversation of pigs with me, Dom-Dom?” he asked her snidely after her third attempt, enjoying the brief flash of misery in her eyes. When she had been a little girl, he had played a prank on her involving pigs and neither of them would ever forget it or the damage that had been done, “or have you finally gotten over yourself and moved on?”
The incident had been several years ago but he was continually shocked by Dominique's insistence that it was entirely his fault that she had been reduced to stuttering afterward. Teddy was certain that she was merely overreacting but he watched with an almost indecent fascination as her cheeks instantly paled, her blue eyes darkening until he was confronted with the first signs of genuine rage. It was like looking into a violent thunderstorm at the edge of the world, “...Shut up, T-Teddy. Just give me the ball b-back,” she commanded sharply. “I mean it!”
“Dom-Dom, if you want people to actually start giving a shit about how pathetic you are, you might want to try being a little nicer.” Teddy replied crisply, recklessly intent on toying with the anger that was flashing dangerously in her eyes. Dominique glowered up at him and for a moment he wondered what she would do next, there was something fascinating lurking beneath her cold exterior that he had been waiting a very long time to see, “or at least stop hiding in corners and actually participate with the living.” He added dryly, smirking.
Dominique flinched slightly and he watched a curious blush go across her face, her blue eyes widening with shock as if he had physically harmed her. Teddy raised his brows tauntingly at her reaction, knowing that the remark had been more than true, “...Y-you don't know a-anything about me.” She replied in a warning tone, though it was obvious that the words had been difficult for her to say out loud. Her fists were clenched tightly at her sides, the rise and fall of her chest rapid with the effort to hold in what had to be tumbling, uncontrollable emotions, “you don't know a-anything.” Her voice was barely above a whisper.
Teddy scoffed slightly and he regarded her for a few minutes, a thick silence falling between them that had nothing at all to do with the serene surroundings. The hot summer sun was nearly forgotten, mixing in with that emptiness that was rising to the surface again, “Dom, I'm going to be honest and say that no one really knows you and it might come as a really huge surprise to someone like you but that's your own damn fault.” Pausing, he ran his eyes over her warily, as if he thought that she would be swept away by a careless wind, “you can't sit around blaming everyone else for the fact that you're invisible.”
A harsh gasp issued from between Dominique's lips and he watched her skin turn incredibly red, her body going stiff with what he assumed was shock. It was obvious that no one had ever the nerve to say something like that to her before and the truth of it was something that she hadn't wanted to see and he sighed wearily, he'd had to do this with Molly not too long ago. The girl had thought that she was deeply in love with him and he'd harshly turned her down, though he recalled now that he probably should have been kinder about it since she had ended up slapping him with enough force to knock his head off.
Dominique was quiet for a few more minutes before she finally spoke and when she did, her blue eyes were intense and more fierce than any flame. They were like the deepest ocean all on their own and he was instantly immobilized, tossed into the wild current and quickly drowned, “Th-this is why no one really likes you, Teddy.” Her voice was shaking slightly but she didn't give him the satisfaction of looking away, her eyes holding the entire world, “this is why y-you're always going to be alone,” she said from trembling lips.
Teddy's smug satisfaction died instantly at the words, which seemed to strike through to some ugly place inside of him. The sensation spread to the roots of his hair and he felt suddenly cold, unable to take the brightness of the sun or those blue eyes boring into him like the sharpest point of a knife, “...If you asked me nicely, Dom-Dom, I'd give you back your beach ball.” He managed to croak, the ugly part of him wanting to slink away into the ocean and drown.
Dominique's brows knitted together and he saw that her eyes were shining with tears, he had reduced the ice queen to true sadness. Teddy's chest tightened painfully and he opened his mouth to give some sort of apology but the girl was already walking stiffly away, her pale blonde hair glowing like a halo around her head...giving her the beauty of an angel, “Keep it.” She said throatily, her voice so soft that he almost imagined the thick sniffle before she darted off.
Teddy watched her until she became a flash of color against the sand, the sound of waves crashing against the shore like the crushing beat of his heart. Everything felt slightly off balance and he couldn't properly draw in a breath without inhaling a bit of that lavender and sunshine, “I'm sorry.” The apology was out of his mouth before he could yank it back but it didn't seem to matter, there was no one around to hear him and for several minutes he just stood there, clutching a beach ball and feeling like the most insufferable fool.
“What are you doing, Teddy? For a moment I wondered if you were actually lost in thought but that was obviously my imagination playing tricks on me,” Fred Weasley the Second teased several hours later as he stood beneath a dark sky riddled with stars. In just a few minutes, Uncle George and his friend Lee Jordan were going to light off a few fireworks to bring Aunt Audrey's birthday to a spectacular conclusion and instead of being excited by what would be a fantastic show (Lee Jordan had a bad habit of nearly bringing everything around him in flames), he was only pensive...anxious.
Those unsettling blue eyes kept creeping back into his mind and Teddy found himself jerking away from the large expanse of dark, ocean water as he turned to grin widely at his best friend. Fred resembled his father almost identically and aside from his deep brown skin and short wavy hair, there was hardly much of a physical difference between them, “And here I thought you were the sweet one,” he shot back playfully, punching him in the arm and eliciting a groan of mock agony. “I don't know how you're able to fool everyone else, but I know its only an act.”
Fred's smile widened and a dimple in his right cheek appeared, giving him the look of an impish cherub bent on causing as much damage as possible. Although he and his father resembled each other physically, he possessed his mother's level head and keen perception, “What are you doing standing over here all by yourself, prat? You're killing the mood.” He accused with a frown before nodding back towards the rest of the family, who were situated at long tables or chairs several feet away. “Looking at you makes me want to drown.”
“Then go ahead and drown.” Teddy retorted sourly.
“You know I can't swim that well.” Fred replied dryly, so accustomed to his volatile moods that he was no longer surprised or offended by them. They knew too much about one another for him to be afraid of what nasty comment might come out of his mouth and it was something that had always made Teddy both relieved and incredibly uncomfortable. More often than not, he was certain that he was the most horrible person to ever enter his life, “what's wrong with you, prat?” his friend asked carefully, keeping his voice calm and easy.
The delectable scents of a heavy meal still lingered pleasurably in the air and an eerie yellow glow flickered prettily over the sand from a few lanterns that were hovering nearby. Colorful bits of wrapping paper littered the sand from where Aunt Audrey had enthusiastically ripped open her presents earlier and Teddy nudged a bright scrap of yellow twine with his toe, “I just thought I'd clear my head, Freddie. Its still ringing from all the joy and happiness that I suffered through today,” he replied lightly, his bad mood slipping as he forced himself to smile.
Laughter, fine food and wild games had caused the remainder of the afternoon to go by in a haze of vigorous activity and Teddy had nearly forgotten about his misadventure with Dominique. It had only been until they had had the misfortune of sitting across from one another during dinner that he had been able to feel that sense of remorse again and he'd tried his hardest to ignore her but it had been almost impossible, every move she had made drawing his attention. The endless blue of her eyes had been guarded and distant as lively conversation had cornered them from all sides, flooding him with a sense of shame that should have completely destroyed him.
Teddy had found it difficult to breathe and for just a moment he would feel that same peculiar something burn through his veins but he couldn't put a name to it. The sensation made him incredibly unnerved, as if he were on the brink of having a heart and that was something that he couldn't possibly allow...the ocean's fathomless depths seemed far more comforting than becoming a slave to his emotions. He frowned and knew that standing apart from the rest of the family was his only way of getting away from her but despite the rush of guilt and unease that had rippled through him during their meal, Dominique had been as composed and meek as ever.
The girl had given no indication that he had gotten underneath her skin and he had been both impressed and vastly aggravated by her strength. How was it even possible? Dominique had adopted the cool facade that he loathed about her and he'd been left feeling bereft and abandoned. The sensation was peculiar and unwanted but he refused to dwell on it for fear that he would discover something about himself that he would rather not face, “I forget that you're allergic to peace and happiness,” Fred eventually joked, his brown eyes running over him knowingly. “What's the matter with you tonight?” he asked carefully.
“Nothing,” Teddy lied, giving him a swift smile.
Fred narrowed his eyes slightly and he became aware of how much like his mother he was just then, he was able to see through a person almost eerily well. It had always been difficult to hide from that stare and he found himself avoiding his eyes, “I know you better than that, Teddy.” He paused for a moment before continuing, “you were really quiet during dinner, you didn't crack a joke about Victoire's ego for almost fifteen minutes.” The boy pointed out shrewdly and Teddy burst out laughing, it wasn't a secret among the family that they despised one another but he hadn't been in the mood to indulge in his hatred of her today.
“James did it for me,” Teddy replied proudly.
“You in some kind of trouble again?” Fred asked bluntly.
Teddy flinched at the abrupt question and thought of his latest activities quickly, certain that none of them would resort with him being arrested again. The last thing his grandmother needed was to bail him out of jail for the hundredth time and he had to force himself not to shudder at the horrifying image that trailed along his mind, “No, I'm not in any trouble, Freddie.” He assured wearily but his friend appeared unconvinced and he found himself looking for any sort of explanation that might dampen his concern for a while. “My girlfriend broke up with me a few days ago and told me I was a cold hearted bastard.”
“Well, you can be sort of apathetic, Teddy.” Fred replied with maddening calm and he shot him an irritable glare even though he appreciated his honesty. There was probably no one on earth that knew him as well as his best friend and over the years it become increasingly difficult not to rely on his unwavering support and he worried about what he would become without it. Because of their close friendship, they had never been able to keep secrets from one another and he was one of the few people that he would trust with his life, “I don't know why you always act like you can't feel anything but its not healthy, pretending that you don't care and holding everything in.” He warned, his tone heavy.
It was dangerous to allow himself to feel anything but Teddy merely nodded, aware that he caused his loved ones far too much heartache. There was no hope for him at this rate and he had accepted that quite a long time ago, though it made some strange part of his heart to collapse with defeat, “Has anyone ever told you that you're kind of annoying when you're sparing someone's feelings, Freddie?” he asked his friend with a swift smile, knowing that he had spoken a very uncomfortable truth about him that he would rather ignore. “Why are you always so nice to people who don't deserve it?” he couldn't help but mutter.
Fred appeared surprised by the question and a tad bashful, his brown cheeks threatening to turn a bit pink underneath the starry sky. Kindness was a trait that he had inherited from both of his parents but Teddy worried that he would one day hurt himself as he tried to solve everyone else's problems instead of paying closer attention to his own, though he had never mentioned it. After pausing for a reply, his friend answered him with that same sort of genuine honesty that Teddy had always envied, “Because when I die, I don't want anyone to celebrate that I'm gone,” surprised, he could only stare him in confusion before his friend continued with a rueful smile. “What's the point in living if you allow every bad thing stop you from smiling? Its not worth it.”
Teddy felt something lurch in his chest and it was nearly as painful as being shot through with a powerful hex, though he tried to wipe the expression off of his face quickly. Fred merely stared out at the dark ocean before them with a look of complete surrender and peace, there were no dark things in his life that could stop him from smiling and he had never realized how different they really were until now. It was as if they were from completely different parts of the universe, “With smooth talk like that, Freddie, you'll wind up inside a Chocolate Frog before you know it.” He eventually said, his tone layered with amusement and jealousy.
“I don't need all that,” Fred replied with a bashful laugh.
Teddy ran his fingers through his blue hair roughly, the thought of going without money for a while had never corrupted his friend's mind. Both of his parents were wealthy enough to spoil he and his younger sister Roxanne rotten for the next several decades but he had personally always liked the idea of becoming famous someday...having all the attention he craved and the love that he couldn't return. It was indecently selfish but his heart didn't have room for much else, “Think of all the eager girls that will want to polish your—”
Fred interrupted him calmly, his eyes dancing with amusement. “Don't even finish that sentence Teddy.” That earned them a private laugh and they eventually fell silent, listening to the sound of their family moving about on the beach, their happiness so intense that it made Teddy's earlier anxiety nearly fade away. “Are you going to stay for the fireworks or head home in a little bit?” his friend asked after a few more minutes, angling his head at him.
The thought of staying for the fireworks would give him a bit more time to waste until he would have to crawl back to the empty flat that he loathed. Teddy pretended not to allow the bleak features of his home to seep into his words as he shrugged carelessly, “I'll stay for the fireworks, I don't have to be back at work until next week.” It had been a few months since he had quit from his last job and his savings had begun to dwindle so quickly that he'd nearly been forced to move back in with his foreboding grandmother. “It was nice of your mum to get me that job, by the way,” he found himself saying, somehow feeling ungrateful even though he had been very appreciative.
Aunt Angie had gone out of her way to secure him a small secretarial position in the Department for Magical Games and Sports and Teddy wondered if he would always be such a hopeless burden. It seemed that everyone was constantly worrying about where he would wind up if he weren't careful and more responsible but he had accepted that he would never be able to become the straight laced nephew that they truly deserved. The fact was as depressing as it was truthful, “She knows that, you don't have to tell me, Teddy.” Fred replied reassuringly. A proud smile spread over his face but it oddly made him feel like the lowliest scum, “how have things been?”
“I've only been there a month but its actually been all right,” Teddy said with a small sigh of relief, though he had grown increasingly annoyed at becoming the office's private errand boy. There was nothing more humiliating than going out on a limb for a double latte with extra cream for some conceited bastard that he didn't even work for and he knew that if it continued, he would be on the verge of making some idiotic mistake. The idea was wrapping itself around his heart like a wasting disease, “met a pretty woman last week.” He drawled lightly, intent on changing the subject.
“Teddy, for Merlin's sake, don't you ever get tired?” Fred asked in alarm, looking both ashamed and amused by his depravity. Teddy made a mental note not to mention that the woman was already married, it wouldn't sit well with his best friend to know how utterly revolting he actually was deep down in the pit of his tattered soul, “you just broke up with your last girlfriend, aren't you moving a little fast?” he rolled his eyes heavenward and couldn't stop himself from making cooing noises under his breath. “You need to find yourself a girl that's going to love you—”
“I really don't want to hear any of that silly bullshit right now, Freddie.” There was a warning note in his voice that caused Fred's eyes to widen slightly, though his lips thinned with anger. They rarely ever fought but there were certain topics that he would never grow comfortable talking about and this was one in particular that he avoided at all costs, “If I ever find myself thinking about it, I always feel sorry for the idiot that decides to love me.” Teddy said wryly, his tone reeking with cynicism, “I'd put that poor girl through hell,”
Fred was silent for several minutes and Teddy glanced around distractedly, barely able to make out Dominique's slender shape in the lantern light. The pale blonde locks of her hair seemed to give her an otherworldly glow and he stared at her intently, wondering if she would be snatched away and returned to where she truly belonged, a land of ice and eternal chill. There was something strangely enchanting about the idea of her ruling a kingdom in some other realm...far away from the monsters that lingered here. Uncomfortable, he jerked his gaze away and watched as Uncle George and Lee Jordan began to prepare a few fireworks a safe distance from the family, shafts of moonlight bathing them in a devilish light.
“You know, I can't help but worry about you sometimes.” Fred eventually said with resignation, his eyes cast downward. Teddy glanced at him cautiously but he sensed no disgust or disappointment from his friend and somehow that was a lot worse than facing his acceptance and for a moment he was completely bathed in nothing but worthlessness and shame, “with the way you are, I can't help but hope that you'll learn to accept that not everyone has to be pushed away and that its not a bad thing to be loved.”
Teddy felt his hackles rise a little in disgust at the sappy words and shot him an exasperated look that merely caused his friend's face to harden with wary, infinite patience. At times, he couldn't help but be startled by how much his friend believed in him and he always felt like the worst type of scoundrel for abusing his friendship, “I'm fine, Freddie.” He groaned irritably. Despite his joking manner, Fred was a hopeless romantic and had been in love with their childhood friend, Leanne Wood for years but had only recently admitted his feelings for her. “I'm perfectly all right where I am with my life and I never think twice about the failed relationships that I've been in, there's no point pretending that I'll ever learn to love anyone but myself—”
The words were ripped away abruptly as the sky was suddenly lit with an array of brilliant color, the deepest shades of purple popping against the stars while an acid green melted lazily along the endless scope of the horizon. Uncle George's fireworks were always a treat and Teddy was thankful for the distraction as he peered up at them in childish wonder, the snap and crack setting the beach ablaze with glittering fire, “Sometimes I don't know if you even love yourself, Ted.” His friend replied after a few minutes as he tore his own gaze away from the colorful shower of fireworks above them. “I think that the girl that ends up falling in love with you has her work cut out for her, mate.” Fred surprised him by saying with a wry laugh, his arm slinging over his shoulders.
“I know I'm not an easy person to deal with,” Teddy retorted dryly.
Fred couldn't quite ignore the truth in the statement but gave him a curious smile though his brown eyes were swimming with both concern and sympathy. They watched the fireworks in silence for a few minutes before he spoke again, a trace of sly humor in his voice, “Its true that you've never been the warm and affectionate type that girls usually go for but something tells me that its not going to matter in the end.” Teddy scowled at him. That caused his friend to laugh with impish delight, “in fact, I think you're going to be the one feeling like a complete idiot when you're faced with a girl that you can't push away.”
“What?” Teddy spluttered, laughing.
Fred sent him a pitying glance that he didn't understand. There was far more wisdom in that one look and it caused Teddy to wonder what troubled thoughts kept him awake at night, “I think that when you meet a girl that isn't going to give up on you, you're not going to be able to handle falling in love.” He explained carelessly as another round of fireworks danced across the sky, turning the ocean water below into a gorgeous pool of pink and orange, “you need someone that isn't going to be afraid to stay with you and I think that when that girl eventually shows up, you'll make a fool of yourself trying to keep her.”
Teddy shuddered at the thought of becoming such a brainless fool and ruffled his friend's wavy dark hair roughly. The action only made Fred snicker, knowing that he had been more affected by the conversation than he would ever admit, “That, my friend is never going to happen and you're beyond cruel for trying to scare me!” he whined pitifully. “I'm a delicate young man you know,” Fred roared with laughter at the outrageous lie. Grinning, the pair of them fell into a companionable silence and watched the fireworks popping across the sky, the colors blending and mating into a rainbow of brilliant, dizzying intensity.
They were quiet for a very long time, the bond between them growing into something that he couldn't quite name but would covet for the rest of his life. It was only the sounds of high-pitched laughter and outrageous shrieking that finally broke the moment and Teddy found himself scouring around the beach until he spotted the source of the noise, “Look at them over there, you'd think that they'd seen a shark from the way they're screaming.” He said in dry amusement as he watched Fred's younger sister Roxanne splashing their cousin Molly near the shore, their laughter infectious and innocent. “They'll drown each other if they're not careful.”
Fred laughed lightly and waved away his words, though he watched his sister protectively as she ran away from the older girl, her white bathing suit clinging to every curve. Teddy found the sudden thought incredibly disturbing and was ashamed to find himself staring, he loved Roxanne as deeply as he would his own flesh and blood but it would be impossible to ignore the fact that at thirteen, she was blossoming into a very pretty girl. With her deep brown skin and curly hair, she would most likely be a vision once she became an adult, “What are you looking like that for?” his friend demanded harshly and Teddy raised his hands defensively, knowing that he would be pummeled if he'd been able to read his mind.
“Nothing, can't I watch our sister play too?” Teddy asked him blandly even as he felt an embarrassed flush spread across his cheeks, his friend had every reason to be so overprotective. Over the past summer, he'd noticed that a lot of eager boys had been lingering around the joke shop in the hopes of catching Roxanne's attention and he had felt an overwhelming sense of brotherly concern that had caused quite a few of them to leave with more than a bruised ego. Fred was far worse when it came to his sister's love life, particularly since Draco Malfoy's adopted son, Benjamin Malfoy had been the girl's constant companion since they had been children, “you can't stop her from growing up you know.”
Fred scowled fiercely and he watched him cross his arms over his chest stubbornly, the action causing him to resemble his father almost eerily well. A coldness had entered his brown eyes, “I can try.” He said firmly and Teddy roared with laughter and thumped him roughly on the shoulder, he would never understand Roxanne's affection for the reject, Benjamin Malfoy but she hardly cared what anyone thought of their peculiar friendship. It was both admirable and damned aggravating, Malfoy was a walking reminder of all the pain that his grandmother had suffered since the War and he loathed the freak with an intensity that was almost sickening.
Teddy allowed the emptiness in him to swell for just a moment or two as he pondered on his hatred of the boy and the bullying that had caused a rift between himself and Roxanne. The adoring little girl that had always brightened his day no longer looked at him the same but it was a small price to pay even if it was painful to see, “I know why you worry but Malfoy knows that he's never going to be able to be anything more to her than a friend, I've made sure to point that out to him more than once.” He assured his best friend smugly, quite pleased that the reject had seemed to burn with longing for someone he could never have. “That prick wouldn't dare try anything with her, his reputation alone should be enough to knock some sense into your sister but she's too stubborn.”
“That's more than true but I try not to talk to her about it, Roxie's best when she's not crying or threatening to rip my face off.” Fred answered with a dry laugh and Teddy roared with laughter, he had had quite a few close calls in the past as well. There was a squeal of dismay from Roxanne just then as Molly tackled her, the pair falling into the water with a loud splash that nearly swept them away, though they came up laughing and blubbering, their hair tangled and flying. “I've been wanting to ask but since you turned her down, how have things been between you and Molly lately?” he asked curiously and Teddy felt his hackles rising, the pair were very close and he had been furious at the way he had turned her down last year.
Teddy shifted uncomfortably at the question and mulled over a proper answer that didn't make him seem like the insufferable bastard that he actually was. Molly had always been a very tender hearted and intelligent girl but he'd ripped her open the night she'd confessed her love to him at one of her father's Ministry balls and wasn't inclined to apologize for pointing out how deluded she had been. It went against his nature to dwell on the brutal truth, “I suppose things have been...all right.” He replied honestly as his hand went through the short strands of his blue hair awkwardly, “she doesn't talk to me that much anymore and won't look me in the eye.”
Fred sighed in irritation and angled his head at him as if he couldn't quite place him on the evolutionary scale, his voice holding a slight edge. It sounded distinctly like disappointment, “I'd always sort of figured that she had a crush on you, you know I didn't like how you turned her down.” His friend remarked and Teddy had to stop himself from making a cutting response. “I honestly think Molly would have been good for you but you obviously didn't think so.” Teddy glowered at him and opened his mouth to say something but he paused as he took in his friend's dark expression, the sight enough to chill the flow of his blood.
Teddy felt as if he were sinking into a dark abyss and reluctantly kept his mouth closed as he regarded his friend, knowing that there was nowhere to run. Even though Fred had often disapproved of his actions and would readily forgive him for anything, it was a completely different story when someone in the family was hurt and he sensed that he had been holding in his rage for some time. The warmth had nearly evaporated from his brown eyes, “Molly is as much a friend to me as you are so let me just say that you shouldn't try to worm your way back into her arms without caring about how she might feel. All right?” Fred stunned him by warning, his tone grave.
“Well, shit, what do you—”
“I know you, Teddy.” Fred interrupted firmly, his eyes hardening. The brotherly bond between them had shattered into pieces and he removed his arm from around the other boy's shoulders with a scowl, mentally calculating how soon he would be able to escape from this torture. Drowning seemed awfully tempting just then and he debated his chances in the gloomy depths of the ocean water, “when you get lonely or can't face your issues, you go for what's convenient to you at the moment instead of sorting through your problems.” Teddy winced at the truth. “I'd like it if you didn't add Molly to that long list that you've accumulated over the years.”
Teddy was silent as he tried to reign in the anger that was pumping through his system, though he knew that his friend was only speaking a truth that he would rather bury. There had been so many women over the years...so many disastrous vices that he had become addicted to and he couldn't blame Fred for warning him off but even he wasn't as cruel to actually slither back into Molly's good graces when he was on the brink of disaster. “You're wasting your time telling me this, Freddie. I'm not going to show up in the middle of the night and seduce the girl,” he wasn't even attracted to her in the first place to even conjure up such an act.
“I'm only telling you this because I don't want either of you to be hurt by the outcome, Molly is still broken up about how you rejected her.” Fred replied with a faint flush to his brown skin, the array of fireworks causing him to glow with an otherworldly light. Teddy knew then that he would never be able to measure up to the person that he was and the truth was so hopelessly beyond his reach that he could have broken down and sobbed, “...you're my best friend and you know I'd do anything for you but I need you to get better. You can't expect anything to fall in your lap if you're not going to work for it and that goes the same for loving someone,”
“I don't need to love anyone.” Teddy suddenly snarled, shaken to the core by the cryptic words. Fred stared at him in rising alarm at the venomous look he gave but he didn't reach for him, he knew that he wouldn't allow himself to be touched...not when that emptiness was starting to unfurl. The feeling was starting to swallow him up, “you're not helping me by pointing out shit that I already know, all right? I'm a fucking asshole but at least I live and breathe it without any regrets. If I choose to die alone, then that's how it'll be...I'm never going to change for anyone, especially not myself and that's the real tragedy,”
Fred's eyes widened with utter shock and he watched as he shifted away, his heart pounding so forcefully that it was a miracle that he remained standing. The fireworks continued to explode above them like the fires of heaven and their cousin's laughter suddenly sounded demented and evil to his ringing ears, “Teddy, you know that's not what I meant, what's wrong with you?!” he snapped furiously, his voice cracking with worry. “Why do you always have to do this—where the hell are you going now?” his friend demanded angrily as he began stomping away, his feet sinking into the warm sand as if the beach were intent on devouring him.
Teddy ignored him and continued walking, his head pounding with too many thoughts at once for him to even see straight. All of his faults had been accepted many times over but they suddenly felt too much for him to handle now...he would never be a paragon of hope like his best friend and he'd be damned if he would even try. There was no point in changing when he was so far gone...there was no point in anything anymore if he sank so completely into the emptiness that was churning and bubbling viciously to the surface— “I'd rather drown.” He murmured thickly to himself, his eyes scanning over the vast stretch of water before him.
Drown...drown...that would be far better than waking up each morning with that restlessness in his heart or knowing that his heart was a vacant space. Teddy wondered for a moment if he had lost the last traces of his mind as he considered the option, knowing that he would not only be freed but nothing more than a painful memory to all the people that he would leave behind. His grandmother would never be able to recover if he did something so selfish but it was so tempting...biting on his lower lip uncertainly, he glanced around to make sure that Fred hadn't followed him and was sorely disappointed to see that his friend had tactfully retreated.
Roxanne and Molly were several feet away and probably wouldn't notice him, the rest of the family too wrapped up in their joyful celebrations to pay his wandering figure any attention. Teddy ignored the popping of fireworks above his head and walked a few more feet, until he was sure that there would be no prying eyes or intervening nuisances to get in his way and once he was satisfied that he was truly alone, he walked towards the water cautiously, the sand becoming damp the further he went. The water was almost unbearably cold but he ignored the icy grip of it as he pushed farther into the swirling waves, wondering just how far he would have to go until he could be snatched away by a strong tide and left to contemplate the bottom of the ocean floor.
Teddy knew then that he had lost his mind and he gritted his teeth against the sob that was threatening to work its way out, he could give no indication that he was here. Moonlight splashed over him and the silver light was nearly powerful enough to obliterate the fireworks that streaked across the sky, his heart slowing to a near crawl as he turned to gaze up at it, wondering if his parents would welcome or shun him if he arrived in their world so abruptly. There was no telling how long he stood there, staring up at that sorrowful moon but by the time he slowly regained his senses, he was chilled and the water had risen to his waist and he wanted to be carried away—
“Teddy, is that y-you? What are you d-doing?” Dominique's voice was as lilting as an angel's soothing voice and a rush of warmth went through him, the water's chill almost vanishing. Teddy's broken heart seemed to thump with an almost painful force and he found himself turning to stare at the bewildered looking girl, who watched him with wide blue eyes from the shore, her arms nearly bursting with gritty seashells and seaweed. Her lips were parted as if she were trying to hold in a scream and he felt a strange surge of concern...he hadn't wanted to scare her, “are you okay?” she asked him worriedly, appearing small but capable of rushing in after him.
How had her voice reached him? In the bleak areas of his shattered heart, how was it that her voice had lured him back to the world? Teddy was profoundly confused, agitated and fascinated by this small wisp of a girl that he had always treated as nothing more than a burden. “....I'm all right!” he called back to her as strongly as he could, though his voice was nearly muffled by the boom of fireworks over their heads, the lights bathing Dominique's slender form in a wondrous glow that tugged at him. It was the concern in her eyes, the deep blue beckoning him back— “no, don't come in after me. I said no, dammit!” he snapped after the girl had dropped her armload of seashells and had started to hesitantly step forward into the cool water.
Dominique halted immediately, her eyes widening with fear. Fear for him, Teddy realized and the sight caused an ache to form in the center of his chest and he wasn't at all certain what it could be but vehemently wished to pummel the disturbing sensation until it vanished, “I'm coming back, get out of the water and stand back, don't you dare come in here after me.” He commanded firmly as he turned swiftly around and fought against the waves, each step causing the chilly water to numb his limbs. To his surprise, Dominique did as he'd told her and waited patiently for him in the sand, though he sensed that she would rush after him herself if he dallied any longer and a twist of a smile curved his lips.
By the time Teddy managed to wade back onto the shore, his clothes were nearly soaked through and he was shivering violently. Dominique watched him collapse onto the dark sand with a hoarse sound and for one brief moment, she bent down and ran her slim fingers through his wet hair in a comforting gesture, the action warming him completely before she pulled away, “Aren't you g-going to ask w-what I was doing out there?” he stammered fitfully, looking up at her with a hostile glare. The girl gave him a knowing look that brought shameful tears to his eyes, “aren't you going to gloat? Yell at me? ”
“...I won't tell.” Dominique whispered softly, stunning him. “I understand.”
Waves of astonishment went through him and Teddy was unable to tear his gaze away from her as she smiled down at him compassionately...the ice queen had melted away into a goddess. An intense silence fell between them before Dominique murmured something about getting a blanket for him before walking away, his eyes feasting on her retreating form. She was real. A peculiar sensation spread throughout his body and he suddenly wanted nothing more than to have a piece of that warmth for himself, he wanted to hold it to his pounding heart until the rest of the world fell away. He wanted to become real too.
Thanks for reading everyone! Leave a review for me to let me know what you thought, this was new territory for me and I need the feedback. T-T Anyway, I'll go right back to updating for my other stories, the next being "Abandon", followed by whatever happens during a moment of sanity. ~Gabbie
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