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Old January 20th, 2012, 7:17 pm
MissGryffindor  Female.gif MissGryffindor is offline
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Re: Falling

Thank you once again to all those who left feedback - you are all nothing short of fabulous!!

Here is the next chapter and I am so excited and nervous to be finally posting it!


Chapter 41



"Don't sell yourself short", he muttered. "You're also a lot of fun, and the only person I could really talk to about this. Even if Harry hadn't been so busy - I would still have wanted to talk to you."

"Thanks, I think." As he glanced to the side, he saw her shaking with the cold. He took off his jacket, and then wrapped it around her shoulders.

"Thanks." He watched as she pushed her hair from the jacket he had placed over her shoulders and then tucked it behind her ear before staring into the fire. He had never seen her look so sweet, so innocent, so....stunning.

"Vic, I - "


"What?" She turned her head round to face his, and as he caught her eyes Ted did the only thing he could and wanted to do. He moved forward and pressed his lips to Vic's. Sensing her respond to his kiss, Ted instinctively raised his hand and brushed the back of her neck, bringing her even closer to him.

They separated at the sound of Bill's voice, calling out in search of Vic. As she returned to the house moments later, all he could think was that although it had been so wrong, it had also been so, so right.


"Nurgh", muttered Ted as his alarm went off. He pushed off the duvet he'd covered himself with over the edge of the sofa with a yawn, and rubbed his eyes. It was a little after seven, and he was due at Harry's for his new year party around eight. After staying out at the Leaky with Rowland until gone midnight the night before, Ted thought a nap was in order to stop him from being asleep come the countdown to the new year.

He'd been having the same dream constantly over the past three days - ever since the night he'd taken Vic to the Magpies/Falcons match. That kiss he and Vic had shared precisely a year ago kept coming back to him. Ted knew that he should push it out of his mind. After all, with Evan around, there was no chance of a repeat performance.

'But Vic was seeing Hem this time last year', said a voice in Ted's head. 'And she still kissed you back then'.

Ted knew that it was different this time, though. Vic was serious about Evan in a way she hadn't been about Hem.

He jumped up off the sofa, and had a quick shower before getting dressed. Ted hesitated before choosing the Weird Sisters t-shirt he had inherited from his mother, along with a pair of slightly ripped blue jeans to match his blue hair. Wes and Rowland were seeing in the new year together at the Magpies party with Mari and Katya; Ted had been invited as well, but he'd always celebrated the coming of a new year at Godric's Hollow and he wasn't about to stop now.

Ted arrived at his grandmother's house to teasing about his oversleeping at Christmas which had meant they'd arrived last.

"I told you at the time, I wasn't sleeping; I was resting my eyes", protested Ted. "How are you? You look a little pale."

"Oh, I'm fine", she assured him, waving away his concerns. "I've probably been overdoing it recently; I've been out for dinners the past couple of nights, and over at some friends' houses this afternoon......I shall rest more over the next few days."

"Well make sure you do." Although she was the one that was supposed to be looking after him, Ted was extremely protective of his grandmother. She simply laughed at his comment and said they should head over to Godric's Hollow.

At Shell Cottage, Vic sighed heavily as she rejected yet another outfit. It was after seven thirty, and her parents had warned her she needed to be ready by eight. Knowing it would be selecting her outfit that would take longest, Vic had already put on her make-up (not that she wore much of it) and curled her hair thanks to the new bottle of Sleakeasy she'd been given by her parents as one of her Christmas presents.

She laid aside her favourite black dress, dismissing it as having been worn too many times, and then her white cotton dress with cornflower blue stars was rejected as being too casual for a party like this. As she went to pull out and examine a pale peach dress Audrey and Percy had given her, Vic's eyes were caught by powder blue dress robes Tante Gabrielle had brought her from Paris the previous summer. Not having had anywhere to wear them at the time, Vic had put them to the back of her wardrobe. No, these would be perfect. She quickly finished dressing, and headed downstairs.

"Eet ees no good", muttered her mother as Vic wandered into the kitchen area.

"What is?"

"Ze zings I 'ave been making for Ginny. I cannot carry zem all myself. I must charm zem to - "

"I'll help you! Yeah, I could side-along with you......"

"If zat was what you wanted, zen why not ask for it?" Vic looked shyly at her mother as she laughed; the truth was, she didn't want to dirty her new robes. "Zank you, ma petite."

"You look nice", said Dom as she walked in, wearing a navy dress she'd picked up in the post-Christmas sales at Madam Malkins.

"You too. Are dad and Louis ready?"

"Yep. Been ready for about an hour, apparently. They're listening to that review of the Quidditch year programme on the WWN. Merlin knows why when the reporter will be at the party and they can talk to him about it then......."

"Like you don't enjoy Quidditch as much as they do."

"Erm, more than."

"Whatever. You looking forward to tonight?"

"Yeah, it should be good. I can't believe another year has gone by. Do you remember this time last year - so much has happened."

"True. I've been thinking about that recently myself", said Vic as their father walked over to them.

"So, you're finally ready then?"

"What do you mean finally? I was told to be ready to leave at eight, and its only ten to", she protested. Her father laughed. "Yes, I am ready to go." Vic had even managed to finish her packing for going to Nat's the following day; she had received a reply to the letter she'd sent on Christmas Day saying that Vic could arrive any time after eleven.

Vic remained silent as her parents packed up the snacks her mother had made and then shrunk the packages. Truth be told, she and her mother both knew no assistance was needed in transporting the food to Godric's Hollow; neither of them wanted to ruin their outfits. While Dom had inherited the carefree attitude to clothes that ran in the Weasley family, Vic shared her mother's love of fashion.

She was incredibly nervous about this party - more so than she would admit to even herself. It was precisely a year since Ted had kissed her, and he had suddenly become the main focus of her thoughts. Well, maybe not suddenly. The fact remained that since she had returned from Hogwarts for the holidays there seemed to be something.....strange between them. Something Vic could not identify. And there was an awkwardness between them when they met; one that had not existed before.

Vic determined that she would avoid getting drunk as she had the year before. If she did, she knew she couldn't trust herself not to say something to Ted. Something that would ruin their friendship irrevocably.

Once her father, Dom and Louis had flooed to Godric's Hollow, her mother handed her a couple of tiny parcels, and Vic prepared herself for the swooping sensation of apparition.

"Ready?" Vic nodded and then closed her eyes. When she opened them, she was standing outside Harry and Ginny's back door, the back garden lit by the light of an almost-full moon. Taking in a deep breath and trying to ignore the butterflies that were forming in her stomach, Vic followed her mother through the door, and into the warm kitchen.

Ted sipped a butterbeer as he debated the Magpies/Falcons game with Ron, Charlie and George.

"It was such a let down", said George, shaking his head. "When I think....I'd got everything done in a rush, got the room to myself and sat there with a few drinks listening to the WWN. Thought I was in for a good night of Quidditch. No - over in eleven minutes or something like that."

"You were at the game, weren't you Ted?" said Ron. Ted nodded.

"Yeah. I guess how disappointed people were depends on how much they like Quidditch. I mean look at Vic - she can't stand it, but she came along to catch up with everyone, and she found it hilarious."

"Hilarious?" said George in a tone which suggested his eldest niece had said something blasphemous.

"Hmm. Because of all the money that had been bet on the result, and all the hype about it. She thought it was funny that after that Hutchinson caught the snitch so quickly."

"She has a point", conceded Charlie. "I guess. A little, maybe."

"Humph!" muttered George. "I'm going to go and get another drink. Anyone else want one?"

"Yeah, I do", said Ted. Ron and Charlie nodded in agreement, and when George returned a few minutes later he was joined by Bill and Louis.

"You're early", Ted said to Louis. "How did Vic manage to get ready so early? Or did Dom force her into the first thing that came out of her wardrobe?!" Louis laughed.

"Nah, she wasn't too bad tonight actually. I think she started getting ready pretty early. She'll be along in a minute. Side-along with maman while Dom, dad and I had to use the floo. Hate the thing - can't wait until I get my apparition license."

"I know what you mean. I still use the floo quite a lot, but its a useful thing to have - especially if you're going somewhere you want to look nice, or your mates are muggle-born and aren't connected to the floo network."

"Exactly."

Louis started talking about how he was looking forward to leaving Hogwarts and setting up on his own like Ted, with nobody to tell him what to do, when Ted's attention was distracted by the sight of Vic walking into the room with Ginny. They were laughing at something Ginny was saying, and all Ted could do was gawp at his best friend. She was wearing powder blue robes that matched exactly the shade of her eyes, and looked prettier than Ted had ever seen her.

She was so, so beautiful. And it wasn't charmed or made-up beauty, like those girls at Hogwarts like Ava Ackerley that put on three layers of make-up before they left their dorm room each and every morning. Ted knew that Vic wore a little make-up, but all that did was accentuate what she had naturally. How had it taken so long for him to see it?

"Ted, are you alright?" He was brought back down to earth by Louis waving a hand in front of his face.

"Huh? I'm fine."

"Are you sure? I asked you what you thought about Hemmings retiring from the Cannons at the end of the season and all you said was 'nurgh' and I'm not sure that's even a word."

"Yeah, um. Sorry? I think Hemmings is past his prime. If he wants to leave and not get hit by bludgers for the rest of his life, then that's up to him isn't it?" Get a grip Ted! Before someone figures out what is going on.

It did not take long for Ted to leave Louis - casually, he hoped - and move over towards where Vic was standing next to Harry and Ginny. They were talking about Hogwarts and schoolwork, and Ted recalled that Harry had told Vic he had invited his former Transfiguration teacher Minerva McGonagall - an Animagus - to the party and that Vic should talk to her about the project she was doing.

"I'm actually quite excited", Vic said to them all. "I don't know I've ever met an Animagus before."

"Yes you have - you just didn't know it at the time", Harry told her. Ted watched as Vic raised her eyebrow in confusion. Someone really should check his brain - it seemed to him like every little thing Vic did just attracted him even more.

"Rita Skeeter."

"Really?!"

"Yep. She can turn into a beetle - that's how she gets most of her stories. Hermione figured it out when we were in fourth year and she was reporting on the Triwizard Tournament."

"Oh. Beetle seems somewhat appropriate for her", said Ted.

"I agree", nodded Vic.

"Well, we made her register after the war - or rather, Hermione registered her and told Rita after she'd done so." Ted grinned and laughed. Rita Skeeter, who had accosted him in Diagon Alley one day with Harry when he was about fifteen, was far from being Ted's favourite journalist. She had wanted to write about what she referred to as his parents' 'inter-species marriage'. Harry had threatened her with Azkaban for all the years she had spent as an unregistered Animagus.

Ted could not leave Vic, and was happy just being around her. When she helped herself to a little of the buffet, Ted was standing next to her; when she chatted away to Hermione about Rosie's burgeoning interest in a wizarding adventure series, Ted mentioned that he had read the books himself at her age; when Vic needed another butterbeer, Ted miraculously need one too. And when Vic was speaking to Minerva McGonagall about being an Animagus, he was there too - listening to the experience three teenaged boys had been through in search of a way to help his father - and hoping that Vic wouldn't feel like he was stalking her or something.

"It is horrible to start off with. I really don't know why anyone would bother", she began.

"You did", said Ted.

"Yes, I did. But not because I wanted to impress anyone, Mister Lupin. Transfiguration is a subject I had been interested in since my first day at Hogwarts; this was the ultimate reach of the study of Transfiguration."

"What did it feel like?" Vic asked. "When you first started to feel yourself change?"

"It is important to remember that the process is not a speedy one; you must first master several spells and take a number of potions before even gaining a sense of the animal you will become. Once you have achieved this stage, you must meditate and learn to become one with your animal self. Only then can you turn - even momentarily - into your animal form."

"Did you ever think about what you would become?" asked Vic. "Before you reached that stage in the process, I mean."

"No, I did not."

"But surely - " interrupted Ted. "Surely you must have thought about it? I know I would. I mean, you must have been worried that you would become an insect, or something equally embarrassing."

"As I said, I did not set out to impress. Thus, the animal form I would take did not concern me - I was concerned only with the process and achievement I set out to conquer."

"Did it hurt?" he heard Vic whisper. "Transforming into an animal. At the beginning."

"It did not. It felt a little strange - obviously your bones do move - but no pain was involved. Only a sense of achievement, and a tingy sensation. It does require dedication, and is not an undertaking to be made lightly."

"Wow", breathed Ted. "You know, I really can't imagine - and I'm a metamorphmagus for Merlin's sake!" Vic grinned softly.

"Thank you for telling us a little about it. We were looking through the journals Ted's father left from when his friends were trying it, but it didn't tell us much about the process."

"Mostly your father writing that he didn't deserve such friends?" Ted nodded.

"How did you - "

"I knew your father for many years. He did not see his worth, nor did he ever understand how anyone could accept him for the young or not so young man he was. In some ways he was perhaps lucky to be Sorted into the same House as two of the greatest troublemakers Hogwarts had ever seen. It brought him out of himself."

"Oh?"

"Yes, he was lucky enough to be friends with three young men who would do anything for him - even break the law. As a teacher I often worried that some intelligent and inquisitive students were too restless for the coursework set, and two of your father's friends were no exception. Although then - as is still the case - becoming an unregistered Animagus could result in a period of imprisonment in Azkaban gaol, I believe that undertaking what they could only have seen as an adventure of sorts kept their wandering minds occupied."

"You sound almost fond of them", said Harry as he came and stood beside Ted. Truth be told, he had not been far away and Ted would not be surprised if he found his godfather had been listening to everything that had been said.

"Perhaps more than I should have been", she admitted. "And they were too intelligent for their own good; they were bored and acted out. The fact that your father kept the Quidditch Cup in my office helped as well." Ted noted that her eyes gleamed with remembrance of a happier time.

"And although I punished them more than once for their little pranks, I know that Albus was always a little too impressed. Aside from everything else, we were in the middle of a war and as Albus himself pointed out, the worry that Sirius Black and James Potter might change your hair colour or hit you with an unusual hex kept the students' minds off what was taking place outside the walls of Hogwarts."

"Like Weasleys Wizard Wheezes did the second time round?" said Harry. Minerva McGonagall nodded.

"And now, I would like a refill. Would one of you young things like to get me another Gillywater?"

"I'll get it", volunteered Vic. She wandered over to the table where the drinks were laid out, and selected a Gillywater from the filled glasses. Glancing up and looking back over towards where Harry, Ted and Minerva McGonagall were seated, Vic smiled as she saw Ted looking back at her. The fact that he seemed to be around wherever she turned had not helped Vic's nerves in the slightest. To calm said nerves, Vic grabbed another butterbeer for herself; she did not trust herself around Ted with anything stronger. But something to take the edge off......

Needing some fresh air a little after one thirty, Vic slipped away, excusing herself and muttering about using the bathroom. Out of the sitting room, she headed not for the stairs but the cupboard underneath them from which she removed an old coat of Ginny's and wrapped it around her shoulders. The cold air hit her as soon as she opened the door, but in some ways it was welcome. The attention Ted had showed her that evening had been dizzying and Vic was desperate for some space and time to think. To bring herself back down to earth.

They had been used over the five years prior to last summer to spending time together almost every day. Other than the summer holidays she took in France not two or three days had gone by without she and Ted meeting. And now....they had barely seen each other for months, and it was understandable that Ted would want to spend as much time with her as he could. She wanted to spend more time with him than she had been able to. Maybe it was the lack of time they were spending together that made her think something was off between them. Maybe it was that which had fed the feeling of awkwardness she had sensed once or twice since returning for the holidays.

Vic sighed and shivvered slightly as she sat down under a tree in the back garden. A small part of her knew that she was obsessing about Ted far too much; there was nothing to read into how he was acting around her because he only saw Vic as his best friend. Nothing more, nothing less. And the feelings that had been growing inside her little by little would and could never be returned; Vic knew that she would do well to forget them. As she nestled into the tree to get more comfortable, she realised it was the one under which Ted had kissed her just a year ago. Thinking it over, it was also the tree under which she had kissed Evan - so why did it feel like hers and Ted's?

It didn't do to dwell on dreams, though - particularly when they had no chance of coming to any form of fruition.

"Hey", said a voice to her right. Vic looked up to see Ted standing awkwardly a few feet away from her.

"Hey." She got chills down the back of her spine. She had been thinking of Ted, and now he was standing right in front of her.

"I just wanted to make sure you were okay. You just sort of disappeared."

"I needed some air; it gets quite stuffy inside with so many people there." And I can't think with you right there in front of me.

"Yeah, I guess." He waved his wand and set off some warming charms around them.

"Thanks", said Vic gratefully as she stood up. There were so many memories of their kiss the year before running through her mind with them both standing there again one year on, and a repeat performance was everything she wanted and everything she feared at the same time.

"Percy and Audrey just left." Vic grinned.

"You know they always leave pretty early." Audrey didn't believe in late nights for herself, or for her daughters.

"Yeah." Vic watched as Ted looked up at the sky, at the almost-full moon.

"You know, if it wasn't for what it did to my father and everyone else like him, I would say that a large, full moon actually looks stunning and beautiful in a way."

"Something can be stunning and cruel at the same time." She thought of Caro, who Vic had to admit was very pretty, yet could behave in the way she did.

"I suppose you're right." He moved over a little and the way the moonlight bathed the garden allowed Vic a better view of Ted.

"Ted, you've known me my entire life. I'm always right." That got a laugh out of him. "You're a lot happier this new year than you were last time round."

"I am. I've grown up a lot in the last year, which has something to do with it. I know now what I want, and I know that I can achieve things that I set my mind to. Obviously I miss Hogwarts for lots of reasons - you being the main one - but I've managed to fit in a lot in the six months since I left."

"I miss you when I'm at Hogwarts too", Vic blurted out. "Its been weird and stressful, actually, not having my best friend there." My best friend that I maybe want to be more than my best friend.

"Yeah, its been weird for me not having you around either."

"Yeah....weird...." Instinctively Vic decided that, actually, thinking was an extremely over-rated activity and turned off her brain before taking Ted by the hand and then kissing him softly. It was exactly what she wanted, needed and remembered.Her stomach did backflips, but never before had Vic done something she believed to be so instinctively right.

This was it, this was what every witch looked for - the perfect kiss. There was no sense that she was going through the motions; Vic poured every feeling she'd had and doubted and questioned over the past few months into every touch of her lips on Ted's, opening up her mouth to him as she opened up her heart. What was that muggle saying of Nat's....something about kissing a lot of frogs before you found your prince.......Vic didn't know anything about frogs, but maybe - just maybe - she had found her prince before she had to kiss too many of them.

"Vic", he whispered as they broke apart gasping for breath. "Vic, I - "

"Sssh", she murmured, lifting a finger and touching his lips with it. "Its just right....mesh...."

She kissed him again, this time with more force and feeling, and from the way his mouth remained on hers, Ted was clearly making no objection to what was going on.

"Ted?! Ted are you out here?" Vic could vaguely hear a voice in the distance, but ignored it. "Ted?! Ted, I need to speak to you."

"Why now? Why now of all times?" Vic heard Ted mutter as he stood away from her and called out.

"I'm back here, Caro. What is it?"

"I wanted to speak to you. I had to - Ted I've been miserable thinking of how we left things." Vic stepped out from behind the trees to see Caro standing in front of them wearing a pretty scarlet red dress, looking desperately at Ted. Stunning and yet simultaneously cruel.

"Ah. So.....that is why you're out here."

"Ted came looking for me", Vic spoke up. "I came out here on my own, and nobody knew where I was."

"Caro, this is Vic's aunt and uncle's party; she has the most right of any of the three of us to be here."

"I know that. I want to talk to you. Alone."

"Not here. We do have to talk, yes. But not here."

As Ted walked away from her with Caro, Vic felt the sting of cold tears in her eyes as her heart broke into tiny pieces. There was no longer a 'maybe' about it; she wanted Ted as more than her best friend. But it was never going to happen.

In the years that followed, Vic was never able to pinpoint just how long she sat, crouched down underneath their tree - hers and Ted's, she thought fiercely - crying silently. After however long it was, she brushed the tears out of her eyes, and went back inside. Luckily enough, the first person she bumped into was not her mother, grandmother or sister - all of whom would ask extremely awkward questions that Vic had not yet formed an answer to - but Ginny. The one person that she knew would just let her talk without interruption, and really, really listen to her.

"Vic, are you alright? You're freezing!" The warming charm Ted had put on them earlier seemed to have left with him. "Come on upstairs and I'll get you sorted out."

"Thank - thank you", Vic muttered as she followed her aunt upstairs and into her bedroom.

"There we go", said Ginny as she sat Vic down on the windowseat and wrapped a blanket round her before casting a few warming charms.

"That better?" Vic nodded. She also felt a tingly sensation in her face and realised that Ginny was removing evidence of the tears that had been falling since she had seen Ted disappear with Caro. Ted......aside from ruining whatever miniscule possibility she had of something with him, she may also have ruined their friendship for good. Vic cursed her decision to stop thinking. Thinking was good. Thinking stopped you from doing something you really, really shouldn't.

"You want to talk?"

"Maybe." Vic tried to get the words out.....'Aunt Ginny, I've fallen for my best friend and completely wrecked everything'......but they wouldn't come.

"Are you missing Evan?"

"Evan?" Yes, Evan - the boyfriend you just cheated on? The one you said you loved?

"Yes, yes I am", she blurted. Great, first a cheat and now a liar. She might as well ask for a transfer to Slytherin when they got back to Hogwarts.

"I don't think I fit in very well with his family." That was at least true; Vic explained to Ginny that she had thought about it a lot since she'd met them all at his mother's birthday party. The muggle side of the family saw her as French (which for some reason they didn't like) and his aunt had been visibly shocked at the mere suggestion Vic knew little of French history, while the wizarding side (well, his sister Estella, really) was too interested in Quidditch and other sports to really connect with Vic. They had nothing in common. Vic remained unconvinced about Nat's theory that Felicia was interested in Evan, but she would admit that Felicia fitted in far better than she did, and got on with Estella much better than Vic could ever hope to do.

"I'm sure that's not the case. Even if it is, I don't fit into Harry's family. Okay, perhaps Harry doesn't get on with them too well, but that's another story." Vic laughed hollowly. "Well, I got you to laugh, that's something at least."

"And Auntie Muriel wasn't too keen on your mother being French either. I think its an English thing more than anything else."

"I guess", Vic conceded.

"And you'll see Evan next Sunday on the Express; that's only five days away." Vic nodded. "I suppose you saw Ted and Caro? She is an odd little thing, turning up like that out of nowhere. Probably bored without him." Feeling a bit braver in spite of everything, she lifted her head a little at the mention of Ted.

"Aunt Ginny....do you think its possible to have - to want two - "

"There you are!" Vic turned to see Harry standing in the doorway. "Bill and Fleur are looking for Vic; they want to head home."

"I should go downstairs." Vic stood up and shrugged off the coat and blanket that had been wrapped around her.

"We'll come with you", said Ginny. The three of them went downstairs, and her parents seemed pleased that she had just been chatting to Ginny and not getting drunk like, it seemed, her Uncle Charlie (who was now asleep and snoring loudly in a spare camp bed in James's room) had done.

Dom asked her if she had seen Caro and Ted leaving, and Vic muttered that she had, hoping that her face did not betray the pain she felt at the thought of it.

"What were you going to say, before Harry came in?"whispered Ginny as she hugged Vic goodnight.

"Oh, nothing......it really doesn't matter." And in a way it didn't; as Dom had so kindly reminded Vic, Caro was back in the picture. Then there was Evan, who had never left it. Her life was too complicated to comprehend in the middle of the night. She apparated back to Shell Cottage with her mother, then hugged her parents goodnight before heading straight up to her room.

As Vic removed her dress robes and changed into her pyjamas, she noticed her trunk in the corner, all packed and prepared for her trip to Worcestershire to see Nat the following day. She'd packed only twelve hours previously, and yet it felt like it had been another lifetime. Vic lay down in her bed, succumbing again to soft, slow tears.

He walked through the house to the floo with her, muttering only to Harry that he would explain later; what was about to happen would not be pretty, and Ted preferred not to have witnesses to Caro's anger. They flooed to his flat, Ted hoping fervently that Vic would still be there when he was able to return.

"Ted, I mean it, you know. I am sorry." She wrapped her arms around his neck. "And I do realise that I shouldn't really have interrupted Harry's party, but I just couldn't wait another minute to see you." She went into full flow about how sorry she was and how miserable she had been, and given what he intended to say, Ted thought it might be verging on rude to put a silencing charm on her.

"Caro, I - "

"I mean obviously - "

"Can I just speak?" he said, removing her arms from around his neck.

"Of - of course", she faltered.

"Caro, I don't think that we should do.....this. Get back together, I mean. For me, the time we've had apart has made me realise that we're just not compatible."

"Because you've been spending every waking moment with your precious Victoire?" Caro spat as she folded her arms.

"No. If you must know, I've barely seen Vic. But that's another thing - however many times I say that there is nothing between Vic and I you'll never ever believe we are just friends."

"That's because she - "

"Don't bring it down on Vic's head. She's done nothing wrong. When it comes down to it, I just don't feel that way about you anymore."

"I see." Ted could tell that she was trying to sound casual, but the watery eyes gave her away. "And what about Paris?"

"Paris was a mistake. Paris was me trying to fight the inevitable." And a gut reaction to finding out Vic was in love with Evan.

"Well, I suppose I shall be going, then. I left a frankly fabulous party for this. I can only hope that the rest of this year isn't as bad as the way its started out."

"I am sorry."

"I'm sure you are. I''ll let you get back to Victoire." He watched as she flooed out of his flat and out of his life. Whatever had happened between them, Caro had been his first serious girlfriend and they had been together for almost two years.

Nervously, Ted breathed deeply and apparated back to Godric's Hollow. He apparated into the garden, and ran to the tree where he had left Victoire.

"Vic? Are you still there?" No answer came, and there was no sign of her, so Ted went back into the house, hoping that she hadn't gone home yet.

"Hey", said Ted sheepishly, going over to where Harry stood talking to Ginny about something. "I'm really sorry about that."

"When did you get back? I didn't realise you would be", said Harry.

"Just now. Like I said, I'm really sorry."

"Ted, this is your second home - well, technically I suppose its your third home now - you don't have to apologise", Harry assured him.

"I didn't want to break up with her in front of everyone; it wouldn't have been fair. I owed her that at least."

"Oh?" perked up Ginny. "I didn't realise - "

"That before tonight we hadn't spoken in more than a week? Yeah, well. Did I miss anything? It looks a little quieter....have people started leaving?" He didn't want to be too obvious in asking after Vic.

"Yeah, George's lot left pretty much right after you headed off; Neville and Hannah have gone, so have Luna and Rolf. You just missed Vic as well - they all left just before you got back", said Harry.

"Oh." Damn.

"Is Andromeda alright? She looked a little pale tonight", said Ginny.

"Huh?"

"Your grandmother - is she alright?"

"I asked her about that earlier; she says she's just a bit tired. Been overdoing it a bit recently I think."

Luckily enough, one of Ginny's former Harpies teammates came over with her husband to say goodbye, and distracted her and Harry. It was too late now to go to Shell Cottage, even if they had just left before he'd got back. He'd have to go over the following morning and explain to Vic that he and Caro were over for good and that he wanted to make things work with her. Ted really hoped that Vic wanted to - she'd kissed him, so there had to be something there. Right?



Feedback @............

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Last edited by MissGryffindor; January 21st, 2012 at 4:58 pm.
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Old January 27th, 2012, 8:58 pm
MissGryffindor  Female.gif MissGryffindor is offline
Second Year
 
Joined: 2891 days
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Re: Falling

Wow!! Thank you muchly to nevillesgal, marauderfan, blueowl, Vig, jag0324 and PotterGirl654 for their lovely feedback. I was incredibly nervous about the last chapter and all the amazing things you said really put my mind at rest. So THANK YOU!!

And now, what happened the morning after the night before......


Chapter 42



Vic woke for the final time as the sun started to rise. A glance at the clock beside her bed told her that it was around eight now; she had slept fitfully and woken several times. It was cold, and so she pulled the duvet further up around her shoulders and stared out of the window, having drawn the curtains when she'd woken up around five - or was when she'd woken at six thirty? - and known that she would not sleep peacefully until the sky was fully alight. Vic couldn't remember the last time she'd slept so badly....probably when she'd been ill, or when one of the cousins had been born, or when grand-pere had died.

She couldn't quite believe what had happened the night before; had she really kissed Ted? What in the name of Merlin had possessed her to do something so stupid? Not that wanting to kiss Ted had been stupid, just the fact that she hadn't thought through everything properly. All the implications. And then Caro turning up.....

All Vic could hope right now was that she hadn't done irreperable damage to her oldest and dearest friendship.

Thinking back almost twelve months, Vic recalled the complete lack of feeling she'd had on catching her then boyfriend Hem kissing Ava Ackerley in a corridor. Comparing it to what she'd felt just hours before when Ted had walked back off to the house with Caro, like her heart was breaking from the inside, it answered several questions she'd posed to herself over the past few weeks and months concerning her feelings for Ted. She was falling for him; and she didn't quite know how to stop - or even if she wanted to. Once she had, but that was not the case anymore.

As she had at the party, Vic suddenly felt in need of fresh air in spite of the cold outside. She flung off her duvet and dressed in jeans, her warmest Weasley jumper and a grey duffel coat. Glancing around the room for a scarf, she saw herself surrounded by memories of Ted, little pieces of him invading her space; the photograph he had given her the previous Christmas of the two of them as small children fighting over a stuffed toy; the bracelets he had given her only a week ago, left to him by his mother; the large, framed painting of the beach next to the house that he had bought from a muggle artist and given to Vic for her sixteenth birthday. He was everywhere. Vic finally spotted and grabbed her Gryffindor scarf, and wrapped it around her neck.

Knowing that her parents would worry should they wake and find her gone, Vic left a note on the kitchen table assuring them that she was fine and had gone for an early morning walk on the beach. She slipped out of the back door and down the garden, passed the stone memorial to Dobby, the free elf, and the chicken coop, and onto the path that led down to the beach. It was a cold day, but the sky was a clear, pale blue and Vic could tell that when it rose enough the sun would brighten up the cool, crisp air.

In spite of the hour, Vic found that she was not alone on the beach. It seemed to be full of muggles that had decided to mark the new year with an early morning swim in the ocean; she would have to ask Nat if this was a common phenomenon. She ignored the polite enquiry of a boy around her age about whether this was her first time at the event, muttering that she only wanted a short walk, and took long strides away from the crowd to a quieter part of the beach. When she returned to Hogwarts in a few days, Vic knew that she would miss the solitude she could find here. Space to just think. Something she fervently wished once again that she had done the night before.

A quick check of her watch.....quarter to ten......Nat had said she could arrive any time after eleven. Wanting to escape the watchful and inquisitive eyes of her mother and sister, Vic determined that she would arrive as close to eleven o'clock as possible. Nat would accept the excuse that she was just tired out after all the family festivities and all the homework they had been assigned, Vic having completed all of hers apart from her Potions essay. That had always been a subject in which Nat's knowledge and skill had far outstripped her own, and Vic wanted some advice on it before commencing.

Vic turned round and strarted heading back to the house, picking up a few shells along the way and watching the muggles running in and out of the water, laughing happily. They all seemed to be enjoying the start of the new year; Vic found she couldn't say the same. When she reached the house, she found her father the only one awake, and making a cup of tea.

"You're up early", he sounded surprised. "You looked really tired when we got back."

"I was. I just - I....did you know that there's a mass of muggles down on the beach running in and out of the water? Its freezing cold, and yet...." Her father laughed.

"Vic, they do that every year. You're just usually asleep until gone noon and they're away home and heating themselves up in front of the fire by the time you surface. Cup of tea?"

"Please." She shivvered slightly, and wandered through to the glowing fireplace, standing in front of it as she tried to warm up.

"Here you go." Her father handed her a mug with steaming hot tea.

"Thanks."

"What time are you going to be going over to Nat's today? I said I would go over and see Charlie for a while - obviously that'll have to be later given that he didn't quite make it back to The Burrow last night." Vic giggled. Harry and Ginny were used to someone having to stay over at new year by now. This year it had been Uncle Charlie....last year it had been - don't go there Vic - and she thought Uncle Ron had ended up staying once as well.

"Um, she said after eleven so I was thinking we could go over just after?"

"You're sure that isn't too early?" Vic shook her head.

"I have time to have a shower and some breakfast and then we can go after I've said goodbye to everyone. I'm really excited about meeting Nat's boyfriend. She's been telling me all about him for six months now, and I haven't even met him yet."

"We've hardly seen you the last week or so."

"I know. But you and maman have been working some days, and I had homework to do, and there was the day I went over to Evan's and the day after when I was watching Rosie and Hugo......and did I mention my homework?"

"At least we'll get to see you at King's Cross before you get on the train back to school. You're going down to London the day before, aren't you?" Vic nodded.

"Mrs Rivers has already booked the hotel; Nat owled me a picture of it. We'll go down on the train the day before, and then apparently she's taking us to a muggle theatre and out for dinner. Plus, Nat has to make sure I'm up on time every day at school so you don't have to worry about me sleeping in or anything."

"Yeah, I know. Vic...I know you're sixteen now, and you're almost of age, but I'll always remember the pale, screaming little thing that your grandmothers handed to me when you were born."

"I know, daddy." Vic hugged her father tightly. Although she would always say that she was closer to her mother than her father, Vic could be a real daddy's girl when she wanted to be, and his hugs made her feel as safe now as they had when she'd been four years old and scared of thunder.

Around an hour later, once she had showered, breakfasted and said goodbye to her mother, Dom and an extremely sleepy Louis, Vic grabbed her trunk in one hand and her father's arm with the other before apparating to the large market town in Worcestershire where Nat lived. They came into the town behind a disused warehouse Nat had put them onto on a previous visit, and cut back through the abandoned industrial estate to where Nat's house was on the edge of town. Although there was nobody around, Vic was glad of the disillusionment charms her father had cast on her trunk and on the owl cage she held; Hibou, her owl, had been sent on the previous night before she went to Godric's Hollow.

Vic rang the doorbell nervously, noting that the Rivers' car was not parked in the driveway. She heard sounds indicating movement inside, however, and Nat was soon at the door, hugging Vic and wishing her a 'Happy New Year'.

"Come in", said Nat. "My parents just popped out...there's an old schoolfriend of my mother's in town for a few days and they went over to visit."

"Just leave my trunk there", Vic pointed to the bottom of the stairs. "I'll take it and my owl cage upstairs later. Has Hibou arrived yet?"

"Nope. Sorry - probably stopped off to do some hunting on the way here."

"I guess."

"Would you like something to drink, Mr. Weasley?"

"No, I'm alright thank you. I'll head out now, give you two girls a chance to gossip in private", he grinned. "I'll see you at King's Cross."

"Bye dad." Vic hugged her father tightly, and then stood at the door, watching as he walked down the driveway, along the road and the turned a corner to go out of sight. Nat closed the door, and the two girls heaved Vic's trunk upstairs to the spare room, which had been set up for her. There were clean towels on the bed, should she wish to have a bath, and fresh flowers in a vase by the window.

"So....how was your new year?" asked Nat when they had returned downstairs and were seated on the sofa in the sitting room. Looking into the smiling face of her friend, Vic allowed the fresh tears she felt like she had been holding in since waking up that morning to fall, and collapsed on Nat's shoulder, breathing out huge, wracking sobs and falling completely to pieces.

"Vic? Vic?" Nat rubbed Vic's back. "What's wrong? Did something happen?"

"Completely messed everything up....thought...felt the same.....and then she - I've ruined everything......" Vic gasped. "Been fighting it...so long....but it was just a dream. Never true. Not for......" She burst into deeper sobs, and instead of forcing her to speak Nat just let her cry herself out.

"Thanks", said Vic, feeling more than a little mortified as Nat handed her a box of tissues. She blew her nose loudly.

"Sorry. I needed that."

"Don't worry about it. You've been there for me before. Lots of times. Do you remember how homesick I was in our first week?" Vic nodded. "You don't have to tell me everything if you don't want to, but what is it that's got you into this much of a mess? I didn't really catch what you were saying before."

"It is a mess. Oh, Merlin is it a mess!" Vic exclaimed with a hollow laugh.

"Well, what it comes down to is that I have completely messed up my friendship with Ted. Irrevocably. I wouldn't be surprised if he never wants to speak to me again."

"Oh....did you tell him exactly what you thought of Caro, and then he got back together with her anyway?"

"I kissed him." She whispered it, thinking that if she said it softly enough then maybe it wouldn't really be true, and the mess she had caused wouldn't really be happening.

"I was just....I was sitting outside on my own under a tree - under our tree I called it to myself - and then he came out to the garden and said he was looking for me. I don't know. It just reminded me of last year and I wanted to kiss him again so I decided that the suspension of thought in my brain was a good idea and I just went for it. And then obviously we reached the point where oxygen was necessary for us to continue to exist and we - and he said my name, and then I told him to be quiet and kissed him again."

"And he didn't stop you?"

"No", Vic shook her head as she spoke.

"Then how have you ruined everything - unless, did you change your mind or something?"

"Caro turned up looking for him. They left the party together."

"Ah."

"I should have known they would get back together at some point, they always do. He told me it was different this time and for once I believed him. I was at the party for a while after and he didn't come back."

"How long has it been?"

"Since I started to think about Ted that way?" Nat nodded. "Well, I told you about the dream during the summer, and you were right by the way - I did want it to mean anything other than me having feelings for him. I knew how much that would mess things up and I was right. I fought it and fought it until I didn't have any energy left."

"Is this why you've been so quiet recently?" Vic nodded.

"I wanted to tell you, I really did. Its just that I felt like if I didn't tell anyone, if nobody knew other than me, then maybe it wasn't really true. It really hit when they went to Paris a few weeks ago - well, a couple of months now, really - it just sort of hit me that I'd always had the assumption that the first time Ted went to Paris it would be with me."

"And where does Evan fit into all of this? How was it when you went to his mother's birthday party?"

"I don't fit in with his family, I really don't. I told Aunt Ginny that last night and she just laughed and said neither she nor Uncle Harry fitted in with his. But I do feel something for him, I really do. But I am falling for Ted as well. Some girlfriend I am. Do you realise that I have had two boyfriends and have cheated on both of them - with the same person."

"At least you're consistent." Vic laughed in spite of it all. When you were down there really was nothing like a friend to cheer you up. She and Ted were always able to do that for each other. No, don't think about him......

"I still deserve to be in Slytherin though."

"I wouldn't go quite that far."

"I just want to fix everything. But I don't know how."

"There is a way", said Nat slowly.

"Please? I'll do anything." In spite of what Ted had said the week before about choosing Vic over Caro, that no longer seemed to be the case, and if Vic couldn't be with Ted the way she wanted, she would settle for being his best friend if that was what it took to remain around him.

"You need to write to him today. Now. You can post the letter when Hibou turns up. You need to tell him that last night was a mistake, that you had too much to drink - "

"But he knows I didn't."

"Say it was a momentary lapse in judgement, something like that. Tell him that you love Evan and are pleased that he and Caro are back together. And - "

"And what?"

"And that you never want to speak about what happened last night again. End it saying that you'll see him at King's Cross next Sunday. A few days apart will do the two of you good at the moment, I think."

"Okay. If that's what it takes to save our friendship...." Vic took in a deep breath.

"It is."

"Where do you keep your quills and ink?" Whatever it takes.

It had taken Ted a long time to fall asleep after returning from Godric's Hollow. He had been the last to leave, helping Harry and Ginny do a little tidying up and then flooing home around five. He rubbed his eyes and saw that it was just after noon. Immediately, his thoughts ran back to the night before, and the look of Vic's face bathed in moonlight, smiling at him as she drew her lips to his. Ted had never felt so much energy and electricity course through him when he'd kissed Caro as he had the night before, kissing Vic.

He got up and had a quick shower and shaved, unable to wipe a growing grin off his face as he thought of Vic. She had made the first move, she had kissed him...she had to feel the same way he did, right? He would go over and see her as soon as he was dressed. Ted knew Vic was due to go to Nat's today for the remainder of the holidays, but she wouldn't go until at least the middle of the afternoon. By the time she got up and got ready, and had some lunch......she was probably still fast asleep right now.

After a couple of slices of toast to settle his nervous stomach, Ted apparated to Shell Cottage. It was a beautiful sunny day, and Ted would not be surprised if Dom and/or Louis were currently wandering along the beach. It was the perfect day for a walk to blow away the cobwebs of the night before. He knocked on the back door, and pushed it open.

"Hello! Anyone home?" he called.

"Teddy!" Fleur poked her head round a corner and came over to hug him.

"'Ow are you?"

"Good, good", he grinned widely. "Is....um....is anyone about?"

"Louis ees in bed and Dominique ees in ze shower."

"And Vic?"

"Victoire - "

"Hey Ted", said Bill. "How's your head after last night."

"Oh, not too bad. I didn't really have too much to drink."

"If you're here to see Louis, you can go up and throw an Aguamenti at him; its time he was up and about properly."

"Eh, I was here to see Vic, actually." He felt shy all of a sudden. "Is she up yet?"

"I dropped her off at Nat's a couple of hours ago", said Bill.

"Oh."

"Yeah, she was up and about early and said she wanted to go." He laughed.

"She said she's been listening to Nat go on about her boyfriend for six months now and she is excited about finally getting to meet the guy."

"I 'ope zat 'e ees a nice boy", said Fleur, putting on a kettle to boil for tea. "Nat ees a lovely girl and she should 'ave someone nice too."

"Yeah. She should." Ted gulped; this was going from bad to worse. He started to wonder if perhaps it was more a case of avoiding him than meeting Nat's boyfriend.

Had he just screwed up the best thing ever to happen to him before it had even started?

"I suppose I'll see her at King's Cross then", said Ted dejectedly. "I should have let her know I was going to pop over to see her before she went.....anyway, I should be going. I have a lot of stuff I - "

He said a hasty goodbye and then went for a quick, contemplative walk along the beach before apparating home, becoming more and more certain that Vic had meant to avoid seeing him. Ted had no proof of this; after all, he hadn't told Vic he intended to go over to see her. But perhaps it had been some sort of pre-emptive jumping the wand on going over to Nat's. And the fact that she clearly hadn't slept late worried Ted.

He was probably looking into it all too much. And Vic had mentioned her interest in finally getting to meet Nat's boyfriend more than once.....

Back at his flat, he couldn't settle at anything. He set to tidying up without magic so that it would take longer, but the flat wasn't big enough to get it that untidy - never mind the fact that Ted didn't really have enough stuff to make a mess. He contemplated getting out the box of journals and other things of his parents' that he had brought back from his grandmother's attic but after the afternoon Ted had spent looking at their contents with Vic, they had become too associated with her. The shops in Diagon Alley were all closed so he couldn't even wander mindlessly around them, looking at things he couldn't afford and didn't want.

In the end, he found himself apparating to his grandmother's house. He had briefly contemplated Godric's Hollow, but he didn't want to bother Harry and Ginny after the party they'd had the night before. That aside, Ginny was far too perceptive not to notice how miserable Ted was and he didn't want her asking him any awkward questions.

"Grams?" Ted called as he walked in the door. "Are you home?"

"In here", he heard a voice calling him from the sitting room. His grandmother lay upon the sofa, a book in hand and a cup of tea sitting on the side-table next to her.

"This is a nice surprise. I must say, its an improvement on how you looked this time last year."

"How do you mean?"

"Don't you remember? You flooed in at around noon looking worse for wear and rather sheepish. I could tell that whatever Pepper-Up or Hangover potion Harry had given you was still in the process of working. You then went to bed and stayed there for the remainder of the day."

"Oh. Yeah." He could feel the sheepish look his grandmother had mentioned returning to his face. "And how are you? You left the party pretty early."

"Teddy, I think I'm old enough to accept that I am no longer the life and soul of the party. I am of an age where it is best to bow out gracefully and go home to bed."

"You're not old. At least not to me."

"You're too kind. No, I'm feeling a bit off, so I thought I'd just have a sofa day....a bit of light reading and so on." She held up the book she was reading and he caught the title - 'The Spell-binding Witch' by Lavender Brown McLaggen.

"Yeah, Ginny said last night she thought you looked a little pale."

"Its probably just the time of the year; a seasonal chill or something. Now, sit down! I know you don't live here anymore, but that doesn't mean you have to stand. Unless you can't stay, that is?"

"No....I can stay."

"And how was the party after I left?"

"Good.....it was....good. There is something related to that I should tell you. Caro turned up."

"Oh?"

"Um, I don't know if I told you, but we had a massive fight just before Christmas", said Ted guiltily.

"You didn't actually, but go on."

"Well, she came over to Godric's Hollow to apologise and I broke up with her."

"In the middle of a party? Teddy, I hope I taught you better manners than - "

"Hey, hey, I didn't do it there", he protested. "No, I flooed with her to the flat and spoke to her about it there, and then went back to the party for a while. Its....this thing with Caro and I has been coming to an end for a while now. Its nothing sudden, and I'm really, really fine with it." Though I would be even better if I could just explain to Vic that I want to be with her.

"And its over for good this time."

"Teddy, you have said that before."

"This time I do actually mean it, though."

He stayed for the remainder of the afternoon, even when his grandmother took a nap around three, and did not leave the house until after five, when they realised there was no Pepper-Up Potion in the cupboard.

"I'll make some up", said Ted. "No wait - the salamander blood has to stew in the potion for two days before you add the billywings. Ginny should have some - I'll floo her." By the time his grandmother's protests reached him, he was in the fireplace throwing down the floo powder.

"Ginny?" he called as he tumbled out of the fireplace.

"Ted? I'm in the kitchen!" she called back. He walked through to see her making a pot of soup and some sort of pie for dinner."

"Hey, how are you?" she asked as she came over and hugged him. "Harry's out, I'm afraid. He took the kids over to Ron and Hermione's so I could finish off the cleaning and start the dinner in peace and quiet."

"I'm fine, but Grams is a bit under the weather, and she's out of Pepper-Up. I wondered if you had any spare?"

"Tons. I always stock up at the start of winter, what with all the germs Lily and Al pick up from the other kids at school, but so far I haven't had to use much of it. I'll go and get you some from the bathroom."

"Thanks", he said gratefully as she wandered out and upstairs. Ted stood awkwardly in the kitchen as he waited for her to return. He couldn't quite believe, gazing out at the back garden, that less than twenty four hours before he had been out there, kissing Vic. In some ways it felt like a dream, like it had never really happened at all.

"Here you go", said Ginny, coming back in. "Actually, you know what - its chicken soup I'm making. Its ready, I'm just keeping it warm. I'll give you some to take back to Andromeda." She found a flask in one of the kitchen cupboards and filled it for him. "There you go. What are you up to later? You want to come back in a bit for some dinner?"

"Uhm, I'm fine actually. I'm still pretty tired from last night. I'll probably stay with Grams for a while then head back to the flat, listen to some music and go to sleep."

"The exciting lives of teenagers."

"Something like that", he laughed. "I should get going...get back to Grams. I'll swing by in a day or so."

"See you soon then. Tell Andromeda I hope she's feeling better soon."

"Will do." He apparated rather than flooed back to the house, not wanting to tumble out of the fireplace wearing a mixture of chicken soup and Pepper-Up Potion. His grandmother told him off for making a fuss, but she ate all of Ginny's soup and took a dose of the potion; Ted left the remainder of what Ginny had given him with her.

A little after eight, his grandmother decided on a long, hot bath and Ted took that as his cue to leave. He told her that he would return the next day - whether she wanted him to or not.

"Goodnight, Teddy", she said with a grin as he went to leave.

"Night."

The flat Ted returned to was cold, and he put the little stove on and cast a couple of warming charms immediately to heat the place up. Having had a sandwich earlier he wasn't very hungry, but couldn't resist the large bar of Honeydukes chocolate poking out from behind one of the cushions. Smiling, he unwrapped it and started to eat. As he did so, he heard a tap at the window. Recognising Hibou, Vic's owl, he opened it and let the bird in.

"Hey, Hib, how are you?" Ted muttered. He grabbed some owl treats from the cupboard and lay them down before opening the letter, and frowning as he realised from the slant to her writing that Vic must have been either nervous or very distracted when she'd been writing this.

Dear Ted,

I don't quite know how to start this letter. So strange, when you are my best friend and I have been speaking and writing to you for so long.

Mostly, I just want to apologise. I should NOT have kissed you like that. You are now - and always will be - my best friend, and I do not want to put that in jeopardy. I was confused because I miss you so much when I'm at Hogwarts. But, in the cold and harsh light of day, I can see that I was mistaking missing my best friend for something more.

The truth is, I love Evan very much. And whatever has happened and whatever may come, I hope that you and Caro will be happy together again. Maybe she's right - maybe it will be easier for the two of you when I am back at Hogwarts. I'm glad that you have someone as I do. You have Caro as I do Evan.

I really do love him, and if last night has taught me anything it is that. I have no intention of telling Evan what happened and pushing my guilt onto him. I can only hope that you will agree with that, and respect my decision by not telling him or Caro.

Maybe its best that we are spending a few days apart, some space from one another. I hope it'll mean that when we meet again this will all be forgotten.

I'll see you at King's Cross on Sunday.

I meant what I said before, you are - and will always be - my best friend.

Vic


Ted flopped down on the sofa in shock. He had not forseen this. The hope had been that she would just need to be told that he and Caro were no longer together. Ted had been so sure of Vic's feelings that he had not stopped to contemplate the possibility that she did not feel the same way he did.

The letter....signed Vic. So impersonal. It just wasn't her. All he could hope was that she was in denial or thought he and Caro were back together and was trying to salvage some pride.

I'll see you at King's Cross on Sunday - that and being glad they were spending time apart looked to Ted like she didn't want a reply, didn't want to hear from him. She wanted space. And what was that about? They had enough space from one another when she was away at Hogwarts. Was this their future - friendship from a distance? If so, Ted was prepared to bargain it against telling Vic the truth.

But then....what she had written about Evan. She loved him.

Hibou came over to Ted and nipped at his fingers affectionately.

"She doesn't want a letter back", muttered Ted, forcing himself up from the sofa. "You better go back to her before she gets worried." He opened the window, allowed the owl to swoop out and then crashed back down to the sofa in shock. For those short minutes the night before - had it really been so recently? - Ted had thought his dreams had come true and that he was going to finally be with the girl he was pretty sure he was falling in love with. Now, they were as far from reality as his early childhood fancies of Quidditch fame.

"You ready?" Nat asked as she pushed open the door of the spare room. The two girls were going to meet Nat's boyfriend Dylan and a couple of his friends at a local cafe.

"Almost." Vic still had to pick out a bag, and find the non-Gryffindor scarf she had brought with her.

"You look a lot better today."

"Sixteen hours sleep does that to a person." Nat grinned.

"Wish I could sleep that long. You needed it, I think."

"Yeah. I just wish Hibou was back; I just want to know....."

"Vic, I think you made it clear in your letter - without saying so explicitly - that you didn't want him to reply. Ted's not the kind of person to disrespect that."

"I know. But still - I'll feel a little less on edge when Hibou is back." She found the missing black scarf and grabbed at a matching bag, feeling guilty that she dreaded her best friend responding to her letter.

"Ready!"

"Excellent. Oh, here, I forgot." Nat handed her a purse with muggle money, something Vic didn't usually carry and had promised to repay in galleons.

"Thanks."

They said their farewells to Nat's parents and headed out to the cafe. They were almost there when Vic heard a ringing noise.

"What's that?" She looked around her wildly, as if trying to find the source.

"Relax, its just my mobile phone - remember we discussed these in class and I told you last night to pretend you'd lost yours?"

"Oh, yeah." Vic continued to walk alongside Nat, feeling a little embarrassed she had forgotten as Nat spoke to whomever had called - from the goofy grin on her face Vic assumed it was Dylan. She felt a lot better today, though whether that was due to the long sleep she'd had, the relief at Nat finally knowing about her feelings for Ted, writing that letter to him or a combination of all three.......

"Sorry. Dylan", said Nat unnecessarily when she had finished speaking. "He was just calling to let me know he was there. His friends couldn't make it, though."

"Oh?"

"It doesn't matter, you'll meet them tomorrow or the day after. Oh, here we are." Nat pointed at a neat building across the road from them which stood out from those on either side. There were tables outside that Vic assumed were only used in summer, and even then only on dry days, but the sign was bright and welcoming, and it looked full - and a popular restaurant had to serve good food whether you were a wizard or muggle.

"There he is", grinned Nat as they walked in, pointing over to the corner where a boy with dark brown hair sat smiling, and waving at the two of them. "Come on."

Vic followed Nat over to meet the boy. He was quite good looking with dark brown hair, deep, chocolate brown eyes and a wide grin. The real-life Dylan looked just like the one in the muggle picture Nat had shown her. Vic looked sheepishly to the side as Nat kissed her boyfriend in greeting; after the past forty eight hours she'd had it felt a little weird being around a couple with such few complications.

"Its nice to finally meet you", said Vic as she and Nat slid into the booth Dylan had chosen. "You're all I've heard about this term."

"Hey, I resent that!" said Nat, snuggling up to Dylan. "You know as well as I do that you talk about Evan just as much as I do about Dylan."

"Granted", said Vic. "It still nice to be able to meet you in person."

"You too", said Dylan. "Most of my friends....they know their girlfriend's friends really well. Like which one to go to for advice about Christmas and birthday presents and things like that. Its been a little weird being with Nat for so long and never having met her best friend."

"I suppose so", agreed Vic. They were interrupted by the waitress, coming over to take their orders.

"So what have you been doing with your holidays?" Dylan asked Vic. She smiled at him and told him an abbreviated version of her holidays thus far - family parties, homework, shopping and babysitting; he seemed to be trying to get into her good graces.

"How about you? Nat hasn't told me much about her holidays."But then she hasn't had much chance, what with me off-loading all my problems...

"That's because I'm repressing some of it", she groaned. Dylan laughed.

"She came over on boxing day since we didn't get to see each other on Christmas. Only thing was, she didn't realise all my mates would be there for the football." Vic was a bit confused.....she tried to remember which one was football. Muggle sports hadn't been her favourite part of OWL Muggle Studies......

"So, there we were - all ten of us plus Nat - shouting when the match really didn't go our way. The end of the world. Well, the end of being top of the league in any case." Dylan might be a muggle, but talk of sports and league tables was all too familiar to Vic.

"Yeah, Nat said your favourite team is......." Vic struggled to recall the conversation. "Was it something to do with ice cream?" Dylan burst into laughter and hugged Nat in closer.

"My team is Aston Villa - Nat calls them Aston Vanilla as a joke."

"That explains things", grinned Vic as she noted the look of adoration Dylan seemed to have every time he looked at Nat. He seemed to be head over wand for her, and Vic heartily approved of both their choices. From what she had seen so far, Dylan was definitely good enough for Nat.

A depressed, morose and love-lorn Ted spent most of the days that followed the letter from Vic with Wes and his grandmother. The former was feeling a little blue as Katya was taking advantage of the winter break to go home to Russia for a few days the day after new year, and the latter was still feeling a little under the weather - which meant that neither looked too closely at Ted's mood and questioned why he was so down. He rationed his visits to Godric's Hollow, knowing that Ginny's perception would lead to awkward questions, and allowed Rowland and Mari to remain in their own bubble, wanting to stay away from happy couples.

One thing Ted had determined, though - he would go to King's Cross, and stake everything he felt on telling Vic the truth. At first he had been upset by Vic's implicit request that he did not reply to her letter, but then he had looked at how everything had appeared to her. She was obviously holding onto some mistaken belief that he and Caro were back together. Ted had decided that the time had come to tell Vic how he felt. After what had happened at new year he could not in all conscience leave it any longer. Enough was enough. At least if she turned him down they would have a few months to rebuild their friendship while she was back at Hogwarts. They would not meet again until the Easter holidays.

The day before the Hogwarts Express left, a Saturday, Ted slept late and pottered about in his flat for most of the day. Katya's portkey was due to get in a little after two so Wes was unavailable, and Ted knew Harry and Ginny had plans to take the kids to visit Ron and Hermione, and then to go to see George and Angelina as James would be returning to Hogwarts the next day. This left Ted at a loose end, and so he spent his time shopping and clearing out a few things.

Later on in the evening, Ted decided to go over and see his grandmother. She had seemed a little better when he'd been over a couple of days before, and on the way to recovery; it had probably just been a bout of winter 'flu. Ted grabbed a couple of bars of chocolate he had bought that morning (in his head chocolate cured almost all evils) and flooed to his grandmother's house.

"Grams?" he called. "Are you up?"

There was no response, so Ted wandered through the house, trying to find her. Although she had felt better the last time he'd visited, Ted knew his grandmother was not yet well enough to go out. She did not appear to be downstairs, so he went up to the upper floor, thinking she might be having a bath, and called out again as he reached the top of the stairs.

"Grams?" Once again, there was no response. Ted started to feel a little nervous. He knocked on her bedroom door - perhaps she was sleeping? When yet again there was no response he pushed open the door, well aware that he had been calling loud enough to wake a sleeping person.

"Grams!" Ted exclaimed. He ran over to her bed; she lay there, thrashing, clearly in the midst of a fever. Looking down, Ted saw that she was covered in the pustules he himself had adorned when he'd been a child and suffering from dragon pox - dragon pox!! He recalled instantly and with a chill through his heart how it had affected Vic's grandfather. The older you are when you contract it, the worse it is. That was what Bill had said at the time, wasn't it?

"Ted?" she whispered.

"I'm here."

"I thought so.....I thought this would be it."

It? And then Ted realised - his grandmother never called him by that name. She always called him Teddy. Ted was his grandfather......she thought she was dying. His blood running cold, Ted grabbed his grandmother and apparated to St. Mungo's.

He gabbled the history of his grandmother's condition over the past week to the Welcome Witch, and was hastily referred to the 'Magical Bugs' department on the second floor. Ted repeated details of his grandmother's conditions to one of the Healers and was told to stay outside as they settled her on one of the beds, and gave her some potions. If anything happened to his grandmother......Harry had done so much for him, had treated Ted like his own son and acted in place of his father......but his grandmother was the only blood relation he spoke to that Ted had left.

After what seemed to Ted like years had passed, one of the Healers, a smiling woman that Ted presumed to be around Harry's age, came out to speak to him. He looked at her nervously.

"How...how is she? How is my grandmother?"

"Its serious....but she is stable at the moment. I think she'll pull through. Looks like we got to her in time. Of course Dragon Pox affects us more the older we are, and it will be a long road to recovery. There may be some scarring, though."

"I don't mind about that as long as she's alright", said Ted with relief. "Can - can I see her now?"

"I don't see why not. You've had the condition yourself?" Ted nodded, thinking back to when he'd been seven years old. "Well, follow me then."

Ted walked into the ward area and down to the bed with a curtain round it at the end. The Healer opened the curtain, and Ted followed her in. His grandmother lay there, asleep, and restful - different from the way in which Ted had found her.

"You can stay with her as long as you want", the Healer told him. "Like I said, its a long recovery so she'll be here a week or two. I would advise you to bring in some things for her tomorrow. Some clothes, and maybe a picture or two?" Ted nodded.

"Stay as long as you want, and call if you need anything. One of us will stop by regularly to see how she is doing, but she is stable now. You're lucky you found her when you did." A chill ran down Ted's spine at the thought of what might have happened had he not gone over to visit that evening.

"Thanks, Healer.....?"

"The name's Healer Boot, but I prefer just Leanne", said the woman.

"Thanks, Leanne", said Ted as he sat down in the seat next to his grandmother's bed, heaving a huge sigh of relief. She was alright - it would take time for her to get better again, but she was alright. He slouched down in the chair and heaved a huge sigh of relief.




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Last edited by MissGryffindor; January 28th, 2012 at 9:34 pm.
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  #43  
Old February 3rd, 2012, 10:22 pm
MissGryffindor  Female.gif MissGryffindor is offline
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Re: Falling

Its that time of the week again.....

Big shout out to Urania, nevillesgal, marauderfan, blueowl and PotterGirl654 for their amazing feedback on the last chapter!


Chapter 43



Vic stifled a yawn as she folded up her pyjamas and laid them at the top of her trunk. She couldn't quite believe that the Christmas holidays were over and done with already. In less than twelve hours she would be back at Hogwarts. Mrs. Rivers had brought her and Nat to London the day before, and after a trip to a muggle theatre production Vic had understood little of, and dinner at a fancy restaurant, they had all spent the night in a hotel around the corner from King's Cross.

"You just about ready?" asked Nat, sitting on the bed opposite Vic's and flicking through one of the muggle magazines she'd bought from the small shop opposite the reception desk.

"Just about. I just - Nat, I really, really, really don't know what to say to him. He's my best friend, and I've known him forever. What - I just don't know what to say."

"It'll be fine." Nat laid down the magazine. "You were very clear in your letter to him - you didn't want to mess up your friendship. He'll know that you don't want to talk about what happened. Tell him what we've been up to the past few days. Pretend you've forgotten when he goes back to work. And then, when we're back at Hogwarts, you'll have time to rebuild before the Easter holidays."

"You make it all sound so simple", Vic sighed. She knew it was anything but. And she knew that she somehow had to get through being around Ted with numerous members of her family present and hide everything from them. So, no pressure or anything.

At half past ten, they checked out of the hotel and walked round to King's Cross. Vic had sent Hibou on ahead as she usually did when travelling around muggles; the empty cage looked a little odd, but Vic knew she would have attracted even more attention with an owl in it.

"Well, I shall leave you girls here", said Mrs. Rivers as they reached platform nine. "Write and let me know how you get on. I want to know everything!" She hugged Nat tightly.

"I'll see you at Easter, mum. Its not that far away really."

"Just a few weeks, sweetheart."

"Thanks for everything, Mrs. Rivers", said Vic, smiling. "I had a great time - especially last night."

"That's quite alright, Victoire. I hope you both enjoy your term. And like I said - write lots, Natasha."

"I will do, mum." The two girls pulled their trunks along the platform and casually passed through the barrier that led to platform nine and three quarters.

The clock on the platform read ten forty; the scarlet steam engine was in place, but most of the students had yet to descend. Noting that none of her relations had arrived, Vic suggested to Nat that they take advantage of being early and grab a decent compartment while they were waiting.

Once they had selected a decent compartment (near the front so they wouldn't have far to go once they arrived at Hogsmeade station) and hauled their trunks on board, the platform started to fill up a little and Vic caught sight of Harry, Ginny and her Potter cousins standing not too far off.

"Aunt Ginny!" Vic exclaimed as she walked over to hug her.

"Vic? You're.....early." Ginny grinned.

"I know, I know. But Nat's mum brought us up last night and we had to check out of the hotel by ten thirty, so....."

"So, you girls had a good time the past few days then?" Vic nodded and quickly ran through meeting Dylan and spending some time with him and some of his friends, and the almost polar opposite of Nat helping her finish her Potions essay. She was actually quite proud of how she'd done, spending all that time around muggles - something she wasn't used to - and according to Nat, Dylan and his friends had found her adorably eccentric. In a good way. As her parents and grandparents turned up, Vic repeated over and over again how she had spent her holiday.

"I'm just going to check and make sure nobody has nicked our compartment", said Nat tactfully once all of the family had arrived.

"Oh, it brings back so many memories", said her grandmother. "And to think Victoire won't have many more trips from here. It seems like only yesterday you were born!"

"Its fine, Gramma", said Vic, hugging her grandmother. "I'm really not that old." They all laughed, and her father passed comment that he hoped she wasn't - after all, what would that make him?

"You have everything, though?" her grandmother asked once general conversation had broken out again. "With being away for the past few days? You remembered to take everything you need with you?"

"Yes, Gramma."

"Well, its almost time, that's ten to eleven", said Ginny. "Did you remember your toothbrush, James?"

"Yes, mum."

"Did you actually remember it, or are you just saying you did?"

"I remembered it. If I forgot it, you would just owl it to me anyway. Or worse, you would owl it to Nev - Professor Longbottom and get him to give me it." Vic stifled a laugh. She found it even more amusing a few minutes later seeing James squirm as their grandmother hugged him goodbye.

"Wish I was going too", grumbled Al.

"Only a few months to go for you and Rosie", Vic assured him. "And then instead of complaining about not being at Hogwarts, it'll be moans and groans about rules and curfew and the amount of homework you have."

"That's if he - "

"James", said his mother's voice warningly.

"How come Ted isn't here?" James grumbled.

"As far as I know he is coming; he said he had to the other day. Did he say anything to you about changing his mind?" Harry asked Vic.

"I - I never asked him if he was coming. I just took it for granted that he was." And what did Harry mean that Ted had said he had to come? Was that something to do with her or a simple reference to a promise he had made to James?

Where was he?

The first thing Ted felt as he woke up was the stiffness in his neck. He was not used to sleeping in a chair; the odd nap on his comfy old sofa was one thing, this was very much another.

"Ouch", he muttered, rubbing it as he opened his eyes to see the Healer from the night before standing next to him, adding some information to his grandmother's chart. She smiled at Ted as the quick-quotes quill filled in whatever she wanted to write down.

"You're up, then?"

"Yeah, I guess I am", said Ted groggily. "How is she?"

"Stable, like I said last night. Her body will heal quicker if she is unconscious for this part of the illness, so we're giving her constant sleeping potions; she won't be up to being awake until tomorrow."

"Oh." That didn't sound good.

"It sounds worse than it is, and like I said - it gives the body a better chance of healing quickly. You can stay with her as much as you like. I would, however, suggest going home at some point today and bringing back a bag of things for her after. And getting some proper sleep. You won't be much use to her without it." Ted nodded. The Healer moved to leave, a copy of his grandmother's chart in hand, and then turned back.

"You know, with all the commotion last night, I didn't get a chance to ask your name."

"Ted."

"Ted Tonks?" She looked down at the notes. "That's your grandmother's surname, isn't it?"

"It is, yeah, but I'm Lupin. Ted Lupin."

"Huh. I had a Professor Lupin at Hogwarts once. Good teacher. Any relation?"

"My father."

"Oh. What is he doing now? He......I remember he only taught for the one year?"

"Yeah, he did", said Ted. She obviously wanted to skirt round the whole 'resigning because everyone knew he was a werewolf' thing. "He, uhm, he died in the Battle of Hogwarts. He and my mother. My grandfather was killed earlier on in the war."

"Ouch. I am so sorry....I shouldn't have been so nosy."

"Its alright."

"So, I take it you're the only family she has, then?" The Healer looked at the bed in which his grandmother lay.

"Yeah. I am."

"Listen, you can't do anything for her now. Like I said, you should go home and get some proper sleep and then come back later. Its almost eleven now, so maybe if you came back around five or six - "

"What did you say?" said Ted suddenly as he woke up a little more and the realisation of what day it was came back to him. Eleven o'clock. King's Cross. Vic.

"I said you should get some more sleep, come back at five or six."

"Its almost eleven now", Ted whispered to himself. He looked at his own watch and saw that it was just leaving five to eleven. It was a long shot, but he still might just be able to make it in time.

"I have to go", he added hurriedly. "I have to go. I'll be back later tonight."

"Okay." The Healer, Leanne, Ted remembered her name was now, looked at him a little strangely but didn't say anything else.

Ted left the ward and ran down to the reception area where the Welcome Witch presided - the only part of St. Mungo's that did not have security wards set up to prevent apparition to protect the patients. He apparated to a small alleyway next to King's Cross and ran through the station, not really caring that he might bring attention to himself. The Statute of Secrecy meant nothing to him compared to Vic. Ted had always taken the barrier at a little bit of a run, but this time it was more than a sprint. As he came onto platform nine and three quarters Ted saw the Hogwarts Express - and Vic with it - starting to leave the station.

"No!" Ted continued to run down the platform, chasing the train, hoping she might see him, and that he had at least come to see her off. He looked in as many compartments as possible, but didn't catch sight of her.

Vic was gone.

Ted stuck his hands into the pockets of his jeans and his left hand found the letter she'd sent him after their new year kiss; he'd taken to carrying it around with him as a talisman of sorts. Not that he needed to. Ted had read it enough times that he now knew it by heart.

I meant what I said before, you are - and will always be - my best friend.

Ted's will crumbled as he realised that, for now at least, that was all Vic would be to him. He had messed up everything. He just stood at the end of the platform, staring after the train, thinking that his dreams were moving further and further away from him.

It took a few moments - he wasn't precisely sure how long - before Ted registered the fact that Harry was talking to him.

"........doesn't matter. I'm sure James will forgive you for being late. I think today is your last day of freedom the same way its mine. Do you want to come over for lunch?"

"Completely screwed up", Ted muttered. "Can't believe it."

"Ted, are you alright?" asked Ginny. He assumed it was her putting an arm around him.

"Did something happen?"

"I slept in", Ted heard himself say. "At the hospital....chair wasn't very comfy and worrying about Grams....took me so long to fall asleep and I didn't realise the time."

"Your grandmother is in the hospital?!" exclaimed Harry.

"Yeah." Ted forced himself to concentrate. "Dragon Pox, but she seems to be stable. Should be alright. They have her on constant sleeping potions to help her heal; the Healer said to go away for a few hours and come back with stuff for her. Change of clothes and things. She said Grams should be alright."

"Well, you are definitely coming home with us, then", said Ginny firmly once Ted had told them all everything that had happened since he'd gone over to his grandmother's the previous night.

"Oh. Um - actually, I really - "

"I am not taking no for an answer. You will come back with us now for lunch, and then later on we'll go over to Andromeda's and pick up a few things and head over to St. Mungo's. Together. You are not dealing with this on your own, Ted." He gave in, and was soon in Godric's Hollow.

"I'm sure James won't mind that you didn't make it to King's Cross in time for the train leaving", Harry assured Ted as he handed him a butterbeer. Ted nodded.

"Completely messed up everything", he murmured to himself. He had missed the train and Vic. What must she think of him now? That he didn't want anything more to do with her? He stared into the flames of the fire, and wished that he could have woken up an hour earlier, that his grandmother hadn't been ill........that Vic knew how he felt about her.

".........looks like he's in shock", he heard Ginny say to Harry.

"Well Andromeda is in hospital. He's probably really worried about her."

"You should talk to him. Make sure that's the only thing that's wrong. He's just split up with his girlfriend as well. Poor Ted. He must really be feeling it. I'll take Al and Lily over to - actually no, I can't. Ron and Hermione usually take the kids over to see her parents on a Sunday. I could take them to The Burrow?"

"We'll go out for a walk to that muggle pub on the other side of the village. It'll be alright."

Ted snorted; after today he wasn't sure that anything that mattered was 'alright'. And he knew that he himself was far from being so. He did, however, allow Harry to persuade him to go out for a walk.

"I want to come too", said Lily, as she saw them leaving.

"I'm sorry, sweetheart. Grown-ups only", Harry told her. She looked disappointed, but was distracted by Ginny asking her if she wanted to help bake a cake for Ted.

Ted and Harry walked out of the house and through the village. Occasionally someone would nod in Harry's direction. It seemed like most of Godric's Hollow took lunchtime walks to build up an appetite, and although all of the shops apart from the one that sold newspapers were closed, there was a lot of hustle and bustle around them. Eventually, they reached an old, stone building with a sign outside saying 'The Red and Golden Lion'.

"Here we are", said Harry, and gestured for Ted to go in ahead of him. Ted opened the door, and felt a shiver go down his spine as it forcefully reminded him of The Three Broomsticks. There were old, wooden tables and benches and chairs, and the original stone walls were exposed. Harry ushered Ted over to a table in the corner, next to the fire, and then went to the bar to order their drinks.

As Harry made his way over to the bar, Ted had a proper look around them. The old grandfather clock read twelve fifteen, and in spite of the early hour there were actually quite a few people in the pub. A couple of old men sat nearby, playing a game of chess; a couple held hands across a table - Ted turned away at the sight of that. It reminded him of what he had lost out on by being late. Of course, there had never been a guarantee that Vic would say she felt the same. But by being late, Ted had missed out on the opportunity to at least lay his own heart bare.

"Here we go. Pear cider; Ron and I had it once and quite liked it." Harry put a glass down in front of him. Ted tried to smile, but found that it hurt his face.

"Thanks."

"From what you've said it sounds like everything will be alright with Andromeda. I'm sure she will be fine."

"Yeah. I think she will be."

"Are you - is it second thoughts over breaking up with Caro? I know that the first girlfriend thing is always awkward. I couldn't even speak to mine - "

"Its not Caro. She's - its not her. That is over, and I don't regret ending it. I should have done so months ago." He lifted the glass to his lips and gulped down some of the cider. "Hmm. This is quite nice, actually."

"So its over between you for good, then?" Ted nodded. "But it seemed like you were getting on so well.....and you went away to Paris."

"Yeah, I shouldn't have done that. It made her think that we were going somewhere." Ted looked down at the table, and felt the letter that Vic had sent him still balled up in his left hand.

"Some space from one another", Ted muttered aloud, thinking of the contents of Vic's letter.

"What?"

"Nothing. Just - nothing." Ted turned his head and looked out of the window.

"Ted, Ginny and I are really worried about you. Is there something wrong? Other than Andromeda being in hospital, I mean."

"I just screwed up the best thing that ever happened to me", said Ted, sighing as he pinched the bridge of his nose. Although he felt awful talking about his own problems when his grandmother was so ill, Ted knew that it was time to tell Harry. To tell someone that actually knew Vic.

"I'm not sure I know what you're talking about."

"Do you remember I told you months and months ago about the girl that wasn't Caro?" Harry nodded, a wary look on his face.

"You said after your trip to Paris that this girl wasn't an issue anymore. I take it that is not actually the case?"

"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have lied to you. You see, she wasn't some random girl that I met at work or in the Leaky or through Wes and Rowland. And it was still an issue then and its still an issue now. She is the reason I went to Paris - well, sort of. She's the reason I pushed myself to try and make things work with Caro even though it had been months since I - oh, Merlin I've made such a complete mess of everything."

"Ted, I've made enough messes in my life to know that most of them can be cleaned up. And nothing is forever when you're eighteen."

"By the time you were eighteen you were with Ginny."

"True. But does that mean - that this girl?" Ted nodded.

"Its the real deal, Harry. I should never have lied to you when I asked you for advice that time. You told me to foget about her because you thought she was just some random girl. But she isn't. She couldn't ever be....." He took in a deep breath and looked away from Harry. "Its Vic. The girl I was talking about - the girl I screwed everything up with - its....its Vic."

Ted bit his lip nervously as he turned his head back to face Harry, anxiously awaiting his reaction.

"That I wasn't expecting. And does she - do you know if.....?"

"I don't know. Not really", Ted admitted. "She's the reason I had to be at King's Cross today. She sent me this letter, and I had to talk to her about it. I had to know if she was telling the truth about what she said." He took the letter and smoothed it out before handing it to Harry.

"She kissed you?!" Harry exclaimed. "But what about Evan?"

"I dunno. But she made the first move this time so she has to feel something - right?"

"I guess. The workings of girls' minds was always something I had to get Hermione to translate for me. Wait.....you said this time?" Ted nodded, and then it all came tumbling out.

"I kissed her last new year. Caro and I were fighting - surprise, surprise - and I think you can remember how much I had to drink?" Harry nodded, a wry grin forming on his face. "I still don't know how it happened. One minute we were just talking and I was telling her what a great friend she was, and the next I was kissing her. I didn't set out that night to kiss her, and at that time I didn't feel anything for her beyond friendship. I really didn't. At least, I didn't think so at the time. When we went back to Hogwarts we agreed that it was a stupid drunken kiss and that we should forget about it."

"Well, you obviously didn't."

"No. But it wasn't until your birthday, if you must know, that I started to figure things out. I know it sounds corny but I saw her kissing her boyfriend under the same tree I'd kissed her and all the little niggly antagonistic feelings I had about him and them together sort of started to make sense."

"You were jealous." Ted nodded, and Harry laughed in response.

"What's so funny?"

"That's....pretty much the same way I figured out I fancied Ginny." Ted grinned.

"For some reason, that does actually make me feel a little better. Anyway, after I figured that out, I spent the rest of the summer trying not to make it obvious. Then she was away at Hogwarts and I was working, but I still wrote to her a lot. Two, sometimes three times a week. And then.....then I bumped into Bill and Fleur in Diagon Alley one Saturday morning and Fleur told me Vic had written to say she was in love with Evan. That's when I asked Caro to come away for the weekend. Of course, Caro wanted to go to Paris - probably the worst place she could have chosen. Everywhere I went, surrounded by French people, all I could think of was Vic."

"Ah."

"Yes. Then there was the fight just before Christmas because I was late meeting Caro and her mother for dinner the day the Express came back with everyone and the time I spent with Vic the last couple of weeks all I could think about was how I wanted to spend more time with her. You know, Wes and Rowland have been teasing me for years about Vic and their theory that I secretly fancied her. But.....its just not funny any more. Because now its actually true. And then Caro....that night I was late she went on again about how she was convinced there was something more than friendship going on between me and Vic. I didn't lie to her, but I didn't tell her the truth either."

"But what happened at new year aside, you don't know if she feels the same?" Ted shook his head.

"You've read the letter. She makes it clear she wants to forget what happened, but after we kissed, before I could tell her the truth, Caro turned up. Vic thinks we're back together, and I kind of got the impression that she went to Nat's early so that she wouldn't have to see me again before today. I don't know if she's just trying to save face, or if what she's written is the truth. I hope that she's just under the impression Caro and I are back together. At least then there's some hope for the two of us. Sorry. I shouldn't be bothering you with my traumatic and chaotic love life."

"Actually, I think that talking through your problems is probably something your father had in mind when he made me your godfather. And he was as hopeless as you and I and my father when it comes to women. He was lucky that your mother was such a forceful personality."

"I guess. But - I don't really know what to do next. I want to tell her in person. I don't want to write a letter.....its too impersonal. And I want to be there so she can see I'm telling the truth. Even a week ago, I was fine with just being friends and keeping it to myself until she and Evan split up - but after new year......I guess I could write to her and apologise for being late and explain about my grandmother?"

"I was going to floo Neville when we got back to the house. He can tell James, Vic and the rest of them. Writing to her is a good idea too. Get back to where you were as friends, and then look at where you both are when she's home again at Easter."

"I guess that could work. And its not like there's really another option. You know, you're really not as bad at all this girl advice stuff as you think you are."

"Ginny and I have been together almost twenty years now - between her and Hermione I've learnt enough to give small amounts of advice and to learn from my real and imaginary mistakes." Ted laughed, feeling a lot better, and took another drink of the cider Harry had bought him. What was it his grandmother used to say to him when he was worried about something as a small child? 'A problem shared is a problem halved'. And talking to Harry had helped a lot. He had a plan now, and had rid himself of the lingering guilt that he hadn't told Harry everything in the first place. That said, Ted elicited a promise from Harry as they finished their drinks that he wouldn't tell Ginny. For now, at least.

Vic sat nervously between Evan and Nat in their compartment on the Hogwarts Express, reasons for Ted not being at King's Cross running through her head. She had contemplated everything from over-sleeping his alarm to him being abducted by dragons, but still held a suspicion that she had single-handedly destroyed their friendship by kissing him at new year. And so, as she tried to think of more reasons why he had not been there to see her or James or the rest of them before the train left, Vic half-listened to Felicia raving about the Magpies/Falcons game that Vic felt had taken place in the last decade, never mind the last fortnight.

"...you think Vic? Over so quickly.....waste of a match."

"Actually, I only really went to catch up with Wes and Rowland and to meet Mari. To be honest, it didn't bother me that much. Uncle George wasn't too amused when I told him that. Neither were a couple of the other new year guests at Aunt Ginny's. Is that twelve? My hour for patrolling the corridor starts now." She turned to Nat. "Do you want to come with?"

Luckily Nat was both a smart and loyal friend, and agreed to join Vic - clearly under the impression that they would not be discussing potential punishments for students cursing one another.

"He....he didn't come", said a down-hearted Vic as soon as they were out of earshot of their compartment. "I can't believe he didn't come. If not for me, I thought at least for James.....I keep thinking maybe something happened to make him late, because at least that way he didn't deliberately not come because of what I did."

"Vic, he's your best friend, and definitely not the type to miss out on seeing you off to school because of what happened. I'm sure that something came up he couldn't get away from. Perhaps one of his friends was dumped, or he was called into work, or something came up to do with his grandmother...."

"I suppose" conceded Vic as she gave a warning stare to a couple of second years that seemed to be arguing in the compartment they passed. "I just don't want to think that he would ever want to avoid me, whatever I've done."

"I know. Just...give it time. If something held him up, he'll let you know. This is Ted we're talking about. He's a good guy and I know you know that."

"I do. But that doesn't make this any easier for me."

"Vic, he isn't going to cut you out of his life because of this."

"How do you know that?!" Vic shot back. "How does anyone know?"

"Ted is your best friend. Vic, he is the son of a werewolf. A lot of people wouldn't have anything to do with him because of that. You did."

"Of course I did. Why wouldn't I? That wasn't something Ted could control. It wasn't something his father could control. Poor Remus."

"Exactly!! This is what I'm trying to say to you! Not everyone would.....but you did. Ted appreciates that. He appreciates every year you turn up at the memorial service with him, making sure he's coping."

"I suppose. I mean, yes, he does."

"See? He isn't going to end that just becaue of one kiss, and you know that. Deep down you know that."

"Yeah, I guess I do", said Vic as they came to the end of the train. "I just.....Nat, I just want to see him - face to face - to make sure that he still wants to be my friend for real, and not just because it would be awkward for the family if he didn't."

"Somewhere there is a reasonable explanation for this."

"Well, I wish it would stop being somewhere and start being here. Nat, I'm really not sure how much more of this I can take."

"You are a much stronger person than you give yourself credit for. Ted will be in touch soon and explain why he couldn't make it, and in the meantime you need to keep yourself busy so that you don't think about it. We have Transfiguration projects due at the end of the month, and you know Professor Winstanton likes to welcome us back to Potions with a nice, long essay." Vic smiled weakly.

"There is always enough schoolwork to keep me busy", she conceded. "But - Merlin, what if he's with her? What if she stopped him from coming after what happened at the start of the holidays? What if Ted told her I kissed him?"

"You know as well as I do that Ted is not that stupid. Of all people, Caro would be the last one Ted would tell. And you said yourself when we got on the train that Harry mentioned something about Ted saying he needed to come. He wouldn't have said that if Caro had already banned him from being there."

"No, you're right. I know he wouldn't ever tell her. I'm just being silly." They reached the back end of the train and started to walk back, Vic feeling eternally grateful to Nat for distracting her by prattling away about things of no consequence like the rumour that the former lead singer of The Ridgebacks was rejoining the band nine months after leaving and eloping with Nancy Bradley, Keeper for the Holyhead Harpies.

As Vic stepped out onto the platform at Hogsmeade station a few hours later she was hit immediately by how cold it was. Although it was as much winter in Hogsmeade as it had been at home, she was now much further north and it showed. Vic shivvered as she tightened her scarf and drew the pair of pretty black gloves Evan had given her for Christmas from her bag. Pulling them on, Vic felt a twinge in her heart as the left one rubbed against the mood bracelets Ted had given her.

Handing her things to Nat, already in their carriage with Evan and Felicia, Vic glanced down to see Louis taking one with Curtis Kirkwood, Genie McLaggen and another fifth year girl whose name Vic couldn't remember. Dom, standing nearby and talking to her friends Leigh Anne and Emme and a couple of other fourth years, did not look happy. The mandrake juice was going to hit the wand when her sister found out just how friendly their brother and Genie were. With everything that had happened, Vic realised she hadn't told Nat about Louis and Genie. She remembered saying in a letter she had some Louis-related news, but after everything that had happened with Ted, it had gone out of her mind.

"Its f-freez-zing", chattered Evan as Vic closed the carriage door behind her and they set off up to the school. He cast a warming charm, and Vic could soon feel the increase in temperature.

"I can't wait to get stuck in at the feast", said Felicia. "The pumpkin pasties on the train are awful and nowhere near as filling as they need to be. I really hope there's some venison tonight; I haven't had any for ages." Vic, on the other hand, hoped nothing of the sort. It was a family thing from before Vic was born - ever since Uncle Harry had apparently told them all about his father's Animagus form, no Weasley had eaten deer meat.

"I'm hoping for some sort of pie, I think", said Vic, glancing out the window. "But I will miss maman's French cooking. We had Pochouse the last night I had dinner at home before I went to Nat's."

"What's Pock-house?" Evan asked curiously.

"Pochouse", Vic smiled softly. "Its fish stewed in red wine. Grand-mere's mother was from Burgundy, that's where its from."

"Well, whatever it is, I hope we get there soon. The sooner we get there, the sooner we can get stuck in." Nat looked out of the window next to her, probably trying to figure out how far they were from the castle.

"You hear about the lead singer of The Ridgebacks?" Evan asked Vic. She nodded.

"Yeah, Nat told me. I hope its true. The replacement singer they had was awful. He didn't fit in with the style of music or the band at all."

"I'm sure it is true." Vic scoffed. "What?"

"The story was written by Rita Skeeter. I'm going to wait until the band make an official statement."

"I like Rita Skeeter's stuff", said Felicia. "She's quite funny."

"Not so much when its your family she's printing ridiculous stuff about. Auntie Muriel still seems to like her, though."

"Wasn't she the one that asked me if I used some sort of charm on my eyes?" Vic nodded. "Oh look, we're here."

"Finally", sighed Vic as she came out of the carriage. The four of them walked inside with Eddie, Persephone and Mark, who had been in the carriage ahead of them, and Vic suddenly felt quite tired and sick of company. Although she had complained of hunger on the train and been talking and thinking of food in the carriage, now that Vic had arrived at the castle all she really wanted to do was go up to her dormitory, put on her comfy pyjamas, get into bed and close the hangings, blocking out the rest of the world.

Once everyone was seated and Headmistress Derwent had welcomed them all back, dishes of steak pie, lamb stew, potatoes and vegetables appeared on the table in front of them. Moping internally about Ted, Vic ignored Felicia's disappointed murmurs that there was no venison and took a little pie and some vegetables, pushing them around her plate and eating very little.

"Are you alright?" Evan whispered in her ear after wolfing down a massive plate that had included a bit of everything. Vic nodded; she had hoped that she wasn't being so obvious. If Evan had noticed something was up, then Dom or Louis might too.

"I'm fine", she lied. "Maybe a little tired. Its always a bit of an ordeal for me, getting used to being up early again at the end of the holidays."

"My sleeping beauty", laughed Evan, wrapping an arm around her. Vic laid down her cutlery, giving up her dinner as a bad job.

"For someone that was keen on pie, you sure didn't eat much of it", Felicia was kind enough to point out.

"Guess I wasn't as hungry as I thought I was."

As they were starting to move away from the table, Vic turned round at the sound of Professor Longbottom's voice calling her name. Nat and Evan remained with her as she waited on their Head of House, but the rest of his friends headed up to the warmth of the Gryffindor Tower fireplace.

"How are you? Did you enjoy the last part of your holiday?" he asked. Vic nodded.

"Listen, I won't keep you long. I've been asked to pass on a message - hold on a second. James! Can you come over here a moment, please?" Vic bit her lip nervously and tightened her grip on the hand Evan held as her cousin walked over to them.

"What is it?" James asked, a suspicious tone to his voice.

"As I was just saying to Victoire, I have been asked to pass on a message and I would appreciate it if you could let Dominique and Louis and Molly and Lucy know."

"Is something - did something happen?" Vic was terrified. Perhaps one of the children had hurt themselves performing some kind of uncontrollable underage magic, or one of their grandfather's experiments on muggle junk had gone wrong.....

"Harry flooed me this afternoon to ask me to let you know that Andromeda has been taken ill. She is in St. Mungo's; she was admitted last night."

"Last night", echoed Vic. She was torn between anxiety at Andromeda's state of health and guilt at her relief that this was probably where Ted had been that morning - he hadn't been avoiding her.

"Yes, apparently Ted found her almost unconscious and managed to get her to a Healer in time. She is very ill, but stable, and the Healers think she'll make a full recovery, though it may take a while. Harry, Ginny and Ted were going back to visit her again later on. In fact, they're probably there now."

"What's wrong with her?" asked Vic.

"Dragon Pox."

"Urngh!" exclaimed Vic as her hand shot to her mouth and her legs started to feel wobby. Andromeda wasn't that much younger than grand-pere had been when he'd contracted the disease.

"Come and sit a moment", said Nat, coming to Vic's side and with Evan helping her sit down on one of the benches.

"Her grandfather", Nat muttered.

"Grand-pere...he....are you sure that Andromeda is going to be alright?"

"The Healers believe so. They think Ted managed to get her to them in time. She isn't conscious at the moment because they are giving her constant Sleeping Potions to help her through this part of the illness, but they are confident she will make a full recovery. Harry wanted you all to know; he didn't like the thought of any of you finding out in a letter or something."

"Will dad let us know if anything else happens?" James asked. Professor Longbottom nodded.

"Poor Ted", breathed Vic. "Finding her almost unconscious.....she means so much to him."

"Harry said Ted was in a lot of shock at the beginning, but he seemed to be a bit better this afternoon", Professor Longbottom reassured them.

"I'm going upstairs." James left, but Vic was still a little stunned.

"Would you - can I get you anything?" Nat asked. Vic saw her and Professor Longbottom exchange looks.

"No, I think - no, I should go upstairs too", Vic muttered. "I want to write to Ted. I should have time to write him something and take it up to the Owlery before curfew."

"Even if you don't make curfew, I'll smooth things over for you", said Professor Longbottom. Vic nodded gratefully and then thanked him before allowing Nat and Evan to help her upstairs. By the time they reached the Fat Lady, Vic's wobbles were gone and had been replaced by a deep-centred need to write to Ted.

A little after five, Ted wandered through the corridors of St. Mungo's with Ginny and Harry, feeling a lot better than he had when he'd run through them in the opposite direction that morning intent on reaching King's Cross in time. Although he hadn't made it, Ted felt a lot more positive than he could have hoped to be. After he and Harry had returned from the pub, he had remained in Godric's Hollow for the pretty much the rest of the afternoon. About half an hour previously, Ginny had dropped Al and Lily off at The Burrow and the three of them had gone to pick up a few things for his grandmother.

"Ah, here we are", said Ginny as they reached the ward his grandmother was in. "Which bed is it?"

"The one at the end." Ted pointed at it and the three of them entered the ward and headed towards the other end of the room, where a curtain still hung around his grandmother's bed.

Looking around the room, Ted could see that most of the other patients had visitors - as they passed the bed next to his grandmother's, it seemed like one of them was even in the process of being picked up by her family to go home.

"There we are Mrs. Higgs, there's her things ready for you.......", Ted heard the Healer telling a dark haired woman in dark green robes. "....such a shame your sister couldn't be here as well, but she was in this morning....."

As they reached the curtains behind which his grandmother lay, they opened and a Healer came out from behind them.

"Ah, which one of you is Mister....Lupin?" asked the Healer, looking down at a set of notes. It was an elderly man, not the smiling woman Ted had dealt with the night before and this morning.

"I am." Ted raised his hand.

"Excellent. I am Healer Aubrey. Your grandmother is progressing well. It would appear that we identified the illness in time, and she should make a full recovery. I take it you have brought some things for her?" Ted nodded. "Excellent. In this ward we find that patients with reminders of home beside them have a better chance of responding to our treatment. Reminders of what they have to live for. Are you family too?"

"I'm Ted's godfather. This is my wife, Ginny", said Harry.

"Excellent. Well, I shall just leave you to it. We shall probably attempt to bring Mrs. Tonks round tomorrow, or perhaps the day after. As I am sure Healer Boot advised, this stage of the illness is best experienced in the enduced state Mrs. Tonks is in."

"Thank you. She did", said Ted. As he turned his head to glance at his grandmother lying in bed behind Healer Aubrey, Ted noticed a vase filled with flowers.

"I wonder who sent the flowers", he mused aloud, moving away from Harry, Ginny and Healer Aubrey to inspect them. They were beautiful and let off an aroma that left Ted breathless. Looking next to the vase one of the Healers must have put them in, he realised that there was no card.

"Hmm. There isn't a card", he said aloud. "I wonder who sent them?"

"No card?" said Harry. "Ted, other than Ginny and I and the family, whom have you told about this?"

"Nobody.....I didn't have a chance....."

"Mum and dad. None of the family. They wouldn't have sent flowers without a card", said Ginny. "What about any of her friends?"

"I haven't had a chance to tell them yet", said Ted. He was now starting to get slightly worried.

"Healer Aubrey, when did these flowers arrive?" Harry asked.

"I don't know. Within the time I have been on duty, and that is since noon. I can assure you, we would not lay dangerous flowers by a patient's bedside. There are security checks that all delivered plants and flowers go through to ensure no danger is posed to patients. Every delivery is checked for hexes and curses. There was an unfortunate incident...some years ago....and we.....there is no issue with these flowers, I can assure you." The Healer looked a tad affronted that he was being accused of such lapses in security.

"I'm sorry", apologised Harry. "Once an Auror, always an Auror. I am sure that since the Broderick Bode incident...."

"It is not a bother. It is admirable that you should wish to ensure our security is all that it should be", said the Healer as he held up his hand. "But truly, these Narcissi are among the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen. And now, I must leave you. Let someone know if there is anything else you need."

As Healer Aubrey left, something clicked in Ted's head.

"Narcissa", he said softly.

"Of course!" exclaimed Ginny. "That's why there was no card....because she felt sending flowers she shared her name with meant that one wasn't needed. But how did she know?"

"I don't know", shrugged Ted. And he wasn't sure how he felt about it. He was extremely protective of his grandmother, and he didn't want to see her hurt by her sister yet again.




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  #44  
Old February 10th, 2012, 11:53 pm
MissGryffindor  Female.gif MissGryffindor is offline
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Re: Falling

Hope you all have as much of a Friday feeling as I do!!!

Ta muchly once again to my fab feedbackers nevillesgal, marauderfan, blueowl and PotterGirl654!!


Chapter 44



At breakfast the first morning back at Hogwarts, it was to the Ravenclaw table that Vic headed as soon as she entered the great hall. She spotted her cousins Molly and Lucy instantly, the two girls sitting about halfway down the table with their friends.

"Morning girls", smiled Vic, making an attempt at being positive. "Sleep alright?"

"Yes. Its a bit strange being back after going home for the holidays, though", replied Lucy as Molly nodded.

"I just came over to let you know that Andromeda is in hospital; Professor Longbottom told James and I last night after Uncle Harry flooed him. She has Dragon Pox, but it looks like she's going to be alright. Ted managed to get her to St. Mungo's on time, they think."

"Isn't she old to get Dragon Pox?" Lucy asked. "Molly and I had it when she was seven and I was six."

"Some people don't get it until they're older. It is worse the older you are", Vic felt her voice falter a little. "But the Healers are very hopeful that she'll be fine - even if it does take a little longer for her to recover than it would for you or I."

"Is Teddy alright?" Molly enquired.

"Professor Longbottom said he was a little bit in shock at the start, but he seemed a little better. I wrote to him last night, to let him know we were all thinking about him and Andromeda. I need to go and get something to eat now, but I'll let you know if I hear anything more."

"Thank you, Victoire", said Molly. She returned to the schoolbook she had propped up against a serving dish and her bowl of porridge while Vic turned and made for the Gryffindor table, taking in a deep breath.

Later on, as Nat headed outside, wrapped up in an extra warm coat and scarf, waving her wand as she cast warming chams around her, Vic moved towards the stairs and her Ancient Runes class. Since the start of the year she had become accustomed to having a class that required a lot of thinking first thing on a Monday morning - and it helped that she had a free period immediately after to catch her breath and make sure she'd actually understood what Professor Bennett had just been teaching them.

"Hey, Vic." James came running towards her. "I'm on my way to Charms. I didn't see you at breakfast and I wanted to know if you'd had a letter from Ted yet. I know he writes to you all the time."

"Not yet; I don't think he could have had a chance to write to me until yesterday afternoon or evening. I won't get anything until tomorrow morning - maybe tonight at the earliest. I'm just glad that he doesn't have to go through this alone. He has your parents and Gramma and Gramps. And Caro too, I guess."

"I thought they broke up. Huh." James shrugged and looked surprised.

"They did have a big fight at the start of the holidays and they were apart for a while, but they got back together at new year". Vic worked hard to keep her disappointment out of her voice.

"No, they didn't", said James. "I heard mum and dad talking about him breaking up with her the day after new year."

"What?" said Vic sharply. Why in the name of Merlin and Circe hadn't he mentioned this before?!

"Honest. To be honest, I didn't really like her that much. She had no time for Quidditch. I better go - I'm running late for Charms, and anyway the essay I did during the holidays is a couple of inches shorter than it should have been. See you later, Vic."

"Bye." Vic was on autopilot as she wandered along the corridor and upstairs to her Runes classroom. Ted and Caro had split up! And Ted - Ted had been the one to do it. Had it been because of their kiss? No, she recalled he had been firm in his assertion before that moment that his relationship with Caro was over. But Vic had heard it so many times she hadn't really believed it would happen for real. That was why -

"Oh, Merlin!" she whispered to herself. "The letter." She had been so, so sure that they were back together and that consequently there was no chance Ted would want to be anything more than her friend. But what - what if he did? Vic thought back to that night, in Harry and Ginny's back garden, thinking about what had happened outside of the best kiss she'd ever experienced......Ted had not pushed her away. When their lips had parted, he had whispered her name. And then, when Caro had turned up it had been her sense of timing, Vic remembered, that he had been mad at.

Could he have wanted something more? Something real? Well, thanks to her letter it seemed like she would never find out. Because in it, Victoire had told Ted she only wanted to be friends, and that she loved Evan.

What if she had just messed up her one and only chance with Ted?

"Are you alright, Victoire?" On hearing her name she looked to the side to see Louise Carwell, a Ravenclaw she liked working with.

"Fine", Vic managed to get out.

"Sorry. Its just - you look like a ghost just walked right through you."

"No." If only it were that simple.

After Runes, Vic was extremely glad of the free period she and Nat shared. They usually met in Gryffindor Tower, deciding then what homework to do while Vic tried to process everything she had just learned in Runes. As Nat was in Care of Magical Creatures, Vic was always first there, and found herself pacing up and down the floor of the thankfully empty common room for what felt like hours, trying to make sense of everything with Ted while she waited for Nat to arrive.

He and Caro had split up, that much she knew for sure. But had Ted split up with her for Vic's sake, or his own? He had said more than once that their separation before Christmas was for good, though Vic had been sceptical at the time. And their kiss - she had initiated it, and mostly had the fact that Ted had not pushed her away as evidence that he had enjoyed it anywhere near as much as she had. Vic had dissected everything she knew repeatedly in the last week, and the knowledge that Ted and Caro's relationship no longer existed just made her head spin even more.

"Nat!" Vic exclaimed the portrait opened, and Nat finally walked in.

"Vic? Is everything alright? Did something happen with Ted's grandmother?" She swooped over to where Vic stood.

"Andromeda? No, I haven't heard anything more. Professor Longbottom said he would let me know when there was more news, though. What am I saying, you were there. You know that. No, its - I was heading to Runes and I bumped into James. He said - he said that Ted and Caro split up. After new year. He must have broken up with her after they left the party."

"Wow."

"What am I going to do? I mean, he said even before Christmas that it was over for good, I just thought because of what happened before that they would get back together. And then when she turned up at the party......"

"Vic, I think we both thought that given what had happened in the past they would get back together. It wasn't just you. And now you're worried that you'll never know if he would have wanted to be more than friends because of that letter. Merlin, Vic if I'd known they had separated I would never have - "

"Nat, its not your fault. Really - its not. What will happen will happen, and maybe - maybe Ted and I aren't meant to be anything more than best friends. I've been dissecting and over-analyzing this for a week now, and I've been just thinking about him for longer. Our near misses with both of those new year kisses." Vic sighed unhappily. "What if we're meant to be one of those couples you read about in a novel that seem to be on the edge of getting together but never do?"

"Come here." Nat hugged Vic tightly and tried to assure her that everything would be alright. Vic, however, wasn't too sure. It seemed to her at this moment that she and Ted might have run out of chances.

That evening Evan was at Quidditch practice; Gryffindor's match against Hufflepuff was now only seven weeks or so away, and Felicia was increasing their practices. She had also - according to an affronted Louis - gone round the entire team and made sure that they had not over-indulged over the Christmas holidays. Vic, on the other hand, was taking Nat's advice and poring as much attention into distracting herself with schoolwork as possible. She had asked her Ravenclaw friend Louise for a copy of her Runes notes from that morning, and having made a copy was trying to learn what she should have picked up in class.

"Why isn't Stephen down at the pitch watching practice?" Vic asked Nat, pointing over at Felicia's boyfriend of two - or was it three? - months. Vic could not recall precisely when they had become a couple.

"I think Persephone went down to watch, so did Genie McLaggen and that fifth year girl I think is going out with Kirkwood, and a couple of their friends."

"Weren't you listening on the train yesterday? Felicia and Stephen split up four days ago."

"Oh. Perhaps I was a little distracted. You wouldn't know from spending time with her that she'd just split up with her boyfriend. Felicia, I mean."

"That probably had something to do with the break up coming more from her than from him." Nat returned to her Transfiguration project, which had not progressed as much as Vic's had during the holidays, and Vic laid aside the Runes notes, picking up the Potions essay Nat had correctly predicted they would be welcomed back to class with.

"Vic, isn't that Ted's owl?" said Nat suddenly, pointing at the window. Vic looked up to see Ted's owl pecking his beak against the glass. She stood up and went over to let him in. She nervously removed the letter, and muttered to him to get some water and food from the Owlery before returning home. Biting her lip, Vic - grateful that Evan was at Quidditch practice - returned to their study table and opened her letter.

Vic,

Sorry this will be so short. I've just got back from the hospital visiting Grams and I am exhausted! Once I've sent this off I think I'll be going straight to sleep.

I said I'm just back from St. Mungo's. By now Neville - you're back at Hogwarts now so I guess I should really be calling him Professor Longbottom again! - will have told you about Grams being ill. I just wanted to write to you too, just to make sure you know that the Healers say she is stable. I think that's their way of saying they are quietly confident she'll be fine. I know you'll be really worried and upset because of your grand-pere, but I think - no,
I know - she'll be fine.

Harry and Ginny came with me tonight, and I forgot to ask, but I guess they'll probably come with me again tomorrow. Narcissa seems to have sent flowers. Well, we think they came from her. I'm not too sure how I feel about that. You know what I think about her and the way she is with Grams even now, now that she is willing to actually acknowledge her existence in public. Meh. I guess I should be grateful it shows she cares.

And on the other thing -
nothing and nobody will stop me being your best friend. I'm afraid you're stuck with me! I'm also pretty sure nobody else wants the job.....

I'll write again soon.

Love,

Ted

P.S. Tell James what I said about Grams.


"He still wants me to be his best friend." Vic breathed a massive sigh of relief and then felt guilty that her first thought had not been of Andromeda. She was also really touched that he'd think of how worried she would be because of grand-pere.

"I told you he would."

"I know, and deep down I knew it myself but -"

"But you wanted it written down in ink for you to see."

"Yeah. I did."

It was not long before the Quidditch team returned, of which Dom was the first; the spectators had started to flow back into the common room earlier, heading straight for the fireplace to warm up. Dom yawned as she flopped down onto a seat opposite Vic.

"How was practice?" Vic asked her sister.

"Not too bad. I'm glad I practiced during the holidays. You wouldn't have thought Louis had though, even with all those days he was over at Archie's or Kirkwood's." Vic smiled weakly. She knew that on at least one of those occasions Louis had actually been in Diagon Alley with Genie McLaggen, and not at Archie Bagman's house. That reminded her - she still had to tell Nat.

"I'm sure you'll all be fit by the time your match comes around. And you'll have more practices when it comes closer. You usually do." Vic yawned. "You shouldn't have yawned when you sat down, its contagious. Got me doing it now."

"Vic, you're always yawning and sleeping and complaining you're tired." Dom looked over at the fireplace. "Sometimes I wish it was all practices Felicia objected to spectators for. Giggles one and two wouldn't shut up."

"Giggles one and two?" laughed Nat. Dom nodded to where Genie and her friend stood.

"I'm sure they're really not that bad. Once you get to know them", said Vic. Dom snorted in response.

"You've got a shorter memory than I thought if you think that about her." Vic was left in no doubt as to which of the two girls her was as Dom headed off for a bath.

"Evan shouldn't be too long", said Vic. She packed away her Potions stuff, figuring she would start her essay on love potions when Nat did; it was so much easier to pull together the notes when they did an essay at the same time and could share library books.

"You've changed your mind about Genie McLaggen", Nat whispered. Vic looked around her. The nearest occupied table was quite a bit away, though it contained their gossip-mongering dorm-mates Ava, Kara and Erykah.

"Muffliato", Vic muttered. "You remember I told you I had some gossip about Louis and I would tell you when I saw you?" Nat nodded.

"Just before Christmas, Ted and I were walking through Diagon Alley from the Leaky to his flat, and we happened to look in the window of Fortescue's and saw Louis and Genie."

"I take it they weren't swapping ice cream recipes."

"Nope. I don't know how long he's been seeing her, but the fireworks Uncle George makes for the shop will be nothing to the ones there will be when Dom finds out."

"What did Louis say when you asked him about it?"

"Nothing. I - I haven't told him. Don't say anything, you're the only one I've told. Well, Ted and I mentioned it to Rowland and Wes and their girlfriends. But they don't really know Louis that well, if at all."

"I won't say anything. And maybe you'll get lucky and they'll split up before Dom even finds out."

"The way my luck has been recently, not even Ludo Bagman would bet on that one." As more of the team came in, including Evan and James, Vic indicated for her cousin over so she could tell him about Ted's letter, wondering why, in the name of Merlin, couldn't life have dealt her one mess at a time?

It was a calmer and more-rested Ted that entered the DRCMC on his first day back from the holidays compared to the one that had rushed through King's Cross the day before. The Healers seemed confident that his grandmother would recover, and when Ted had returned to his flat the night before, he had simply showered, written to Vic and then fallen into bed and a deep sleep, remaining in that state for twelve blissfully uninterrupted hours.

"Morning Stanley. Good Christmas?" Ted asked politely as he passed his colleague. He received only a grunt in response and didn't stop to make further enquiries. Ted waved at the younger members of the office that he had started to become friendly with, Albie, Pandora and Willa, and sat down at his desk. The in-tray to the side seemed to have grown in size since he'd been there last.

"Ted! How are you?" Isadora exclaimed as she sat down opposite him, the half-drunk cup of coffee on her desk and the file she held both signs that she had already been hard at work for a while. "How was the rest of your holidays after I saw you in the Leaky?"

"Mixed. Vic kissed me, but she thinks Caro and I are back together and wrote me a letter saying we should just be friends - that goes no further than the two of us, even to any of my friends who still know nothing - I finally broke it completely off with Caro. And my grandmother has Dragon Pox. How was yours?"

"Obviously not as hectic as yours. Mostly I chilled out and helped my cousin with her wedding invitations. And I saw in the new year with my sister, my cousin and her fiance, Sally and a number of bottles of mead and wine. Luckily I'd also thought to get some Hangover Potions in as well." Ted laughed.

"Good news about Victoire. She seems lovely. Not so good news about your grandmother, though. I take it she'll be alright, otherwise you wouldn't be here. Any idea how long she'll be in hospital?"

"A while, I guess. They're giving her constant Sleeping Potions at the moment, but they said that should stop today or tomorrow. The Healers I've spoken to think she'll pull through, though, in spite of her age."

"That's right. I forgot that could have so much of an effect. Let me know if you need anything." He nodded.

"I know you came back at the end of last week. Did I miss anything important?"

"You did actually. I had a meeting last Thursday with Roush and Mockridge, and then another on Friday. The upshot is that they have agreed to give the support group we want to start at St. Mungo's a trial - two or three afternoons a week you will go there and hold discussions with werewolves and will work out any difficulties they have. You will also be able to hand out instructions for brewing Wolfsbane."

"For the good it'll do them if they can't afford the ingredients", Ted muttered.

"I know, but one step at a time. If we can prove this will work out, then we've got a better chance of getting our other laws through, and maybe one day werewolves will be given it free. One step at a time."

"Any idea what made them change their minds?" Ted started to rifle through the contents of his in-tray. "Before the holidays they seemed a bit hesitant, particularly about me. I kind of got the impression they would take a lot more persuasion."

"It seems that when you mentioned your father's connection to a certain secret society and they questioned Hermione Granger she mentioned that you therefore knew somebody quite high up in the Ministry through it."

"That's right!" Ted recalled what Harry had told him only a fortnight-ish ago about Hermione mentioning Kingsley's name. "Harry mentioned something just before Christmas. I remember now. And that's what swayed them?"

"Yeah. Looks like. I know you don't like things like that working in your favour, and it wasn't you that mentioned his name to Roush and Mockridge so nobody can accuse you of using outside influence."

"I'm sure it wouldn't stop some though."

"Nope. Anyway, you and I have a meeting with some Healers on Friday to sort out how this will work - I think they want to get some trainee Healers involved as well."

Ted nodded, a smile on his face, but inwardly he groaned a little at the thought of the trainee Healers - Vic's ex-boyfriend and his ex-friend Hem Lyttleton would be among them. Since leaving school, Ted had kept in close contact with Wes and Rowland, and he had lunch with Matt once a fortnight or so. Hem, on the other hand, Ted had not spoken to since the day he had left Hogwarts. Since the night Hem had cheated on Vic he had done as his best friend had asked, and tried to be as friendly as possible. As far as Ted was concerned, that obligation had ceased when he'd finished school. And although Ted and Vic were as guilty of cheating on their boy/girlfriends and he knew he was being hypocritical, he could not bring himself to be genuinely friendly with someone that had treated Vic like that. He didn't relish having to pretend to be friends once again.

Perhaps he should have seen at the time that this was perhaps an indication of how much he really felt for Vic.

"Before I forget - departmental meeting at ten", said Isadora, glancing up from her work.

"Cool." Ted set to work, sifting through the masses of parchment that seemed to have worked its way onto his desk in his absence. By the time he had to move towards the meeting room where all departmental meetings took place, he had only sorted through half of it. On the way along he caught up with Willa - who had spent her first Christmas with her husband in bed with a dose of the 'flu - and Albie and Pandora, who had tried to split their time between their respective families over Christmas, and then spent new year with friends.

"Now that Christmas is over, winter seems that little bit more depressing", said Pandora as she lay her head on Albie's shoulder. Her boyfriend agreed.

"Especially when the first fortnight in January is the Quidditch League winter break. You go to any matches over the holidays, Ted?"

"Magpies/Falcons. It was good fun in spite of the relative lack of in-the-air action."

"Tell me about it", Albie huffed. "I had ten galleons on it lasting longer than three hours."

"Well that will teach you to spend your money gambling instead of buying pretty things for me", said Pandora firmly.

"Oh", Willa interrupted. "Looks like the previous meeting is letting out.......oh." Ted turned to face the door to the meeting room to see all of the heads of department wandering out, along with the Minister. Willa started talking again, asking if anyone had any plans for the weekend, in spite of the fact that it was only Monday.

"Actually, Pandora and I......" Albie trailed off, and Ted looked at him quizzically.

"What's - "

"Ted, I was sorry to hear about your grandmother." He turned to see that Kingsley was talking to him.

"Um, thanks. She's....it looks like she'll pull through."

"Let her know I asked after her."

"Thanks." As he spoke, Ted did not have to look around him to know that every pair of eyes surrounding them was fixed on him, and that his friends were probably openly gawping. The only thing that would attract more attention towards him was.......

"Hey, Ted - I'm glad I caught you. I was going to come up and see you later on. Just to let you know to head straight over to the house after you've finished. Ginny said she'd have some dinner ready, and then we can go over to the hospital after; Hermione said we can drop the kids off there on the way." And there it was.

"Cheers, Harry."

With the remainder of the heads of department having vacated the room, Ted followed everyone else inside, looking down at the floor and wishing the ground would swallow him up. One thing Ted knew he had in common with his father was an evident dislike of the spotlight.

As much as he enjoyed his job, by the end of the day, Ted was pleased to be able to leave the stares and whispers behind and forget about the strange atmosphere that had persisted all day, and the numerous times he had been forced to repeat that prior to her death, his mother had worked in the Auror Office with the Minister. And Harry Potter? A friend of the family, through his late father. It appeared that reminding those that knew (and informing those that didn't) that both his parents were dead managed to get rid of most of the questions.

Ted sighed heavily as he flopped down on the sofa at Godric's Hollow.

"Harry's not back yet", said Ginny as she handed Ted an extremely welcome cup of peppermint tea. "Dinner won't be long; I've made a casserole, and then there's some ice cream for pudding. Once we've eaten, we'll drop Al and Lily off at Ron and Hermione's and head over to St. Mungo's."

"I know. Harry caught up with me at the Ministry today and let me know." Maybe it was the way he cringed, but Ginny seemed to know instantly that something was up.

"Ted?"

"I was waiting to go into a meeting at the time; the entire department was gawping."

"I'm sure it wasn't that bad." She laughed. "I'm sorry, Ted, but aren't you past the age of being embarrassed by your godfather?!"

"I wasn't embarrassed", he protested. "I just like being low-key, and it would have been fine if thirty seconds earlier everyone hadn't heard the Minister of Magic asking after Grams. I was fending off questions about them both all day." Ginny laughed louder.

"Welcome to my world."

"Hi, Teddy", Lily came into the room, followed by her brother. She came over and hugged him.

"Is Aunty 'Dromeda going to be alright?" Lily sat next to him on the sofa.

"She's going to be fine", Ted told her. He looked up at Ginny, who gave him an encouraging nod in return. "She just has to stay in St. Mungo's for a while. But she'll be alright, you'll see."

"When can we go and see her?" asked Al.

"Not for a bit, buddy. She's sleeping a lot at the moment, so she doesn't always know when someone is there. Once she is more awake, you'll be able to come. You've both had Dragon Pox, haven't you?" They both nodded.

"I had it when I was twelve, my second year at Hogwarts. It spread pretty quickly after eveyone came back in September; the hospital wing was so busy poor Madam Pomfrey had to turn one of the old classrooms into a second ward. I think that's what sent her into retirement."

It was not long before Harry arrived, and they could eat dinner. Al complained that he didn't like sprouts anymore after eating them so much over Christmas, though a look from his mother silenced him on that issue, and none remained on his plate at the end of the meal, while Lily talked excitedly about two new students in her class, a twin boy and girl, who had just moved to Godric's Hollow from Yorkshire. After they had eaten, Harry and Ted went straight to St. Mungo's while Ginny dropped off Al and Lily.

As they walked down the ward, Ted heard his name being called. He turned round and found himself facing the Healer that had looked after his grandmother the night she'd been admitted.

"Your grandmother's improving slowly", she said, walking down to the end of the ward with them.

"Any idea when you'll be able to take her off the Sleeping Potions?" Harry asked.

"We'll give her another one tonight, and then tomorrow morning she should start to wake up. We'll be able to see then if she needs further doses, but we're hopeful she won't. She got very, very lucky." She grinned at Ted.

"I didn't do anything", he protested.

"How's she getting on?" They were joined by Ginny, who carried a bunch of orchids that Ted assumed Hermione had given her to pass on. He had become accustomed to being what Harry called an "adopted" member of the extended Weasley family at a young age, but it still meant a lot to Ted that they thought so much of his grandmother.

"They're going to try weaning her off the Sleeping Potions in the morning", said Ted. "We won't know anything more until after that." He looked down at his grandmother; looking only at her face and ignoring the pustules that came with the disease, it would have seemed to someone watching her that she was simply in an enchanted sleep.

"Afraid not", said Healer Boot. "Mrs. Tonks is pretty tough, though." She turned to leave, until Ginny stopped her.

"Its...Leanne, isn't it? I don't know if you remember me from Hogwarts? You were a friend of Katie Bell - she and I played in the Quidditch team together......?"

"I remember now. Yeah. Small world. And you - how are you related?" Ginny explained that Ted was Harry's godson.

"I was also there the day Katie was hurt. You probably don't remember. I think we were all pretty shocked - "

"I do remember you being there that day when Katie was cursed by the necklace", she interrupted, turning towards Harry. "I just felt so helpless, not knowing what to do. That was part of the reason I decided to go in for Healing."

"I haven't seen Katie in ages", said Ginny.

"Is there anyone you don't know?" Ted asked Harry as Healer Boot left to check on another patient. He was also left wondering precisely what his godfather had got up to while at school. He still hadn't heard the story about the flying car that had been mentioned at Christmas.

"Lots", he grinned. "Its just that you happen to be with me when I bump into people I actually do know."

"Come on", smiled Ginny. "Let's get these flowers Hermione gave me in water."

"You want to come back with us for a while, Ted?" Harry asked when it was time to leave. He shook his head. They had stayed for more than an hour and a half, and Ted was exhausted.

"I'm pretty tired. Its been a long first day back, and I just want to get home and get to bed."

Ted returned to find Vic's owl, Hibou, had swooped through the window he had left open that morning in the hope he would, at some point that day, receive a letter from her. He crossed his fingers, toes and wand as he opened it, hoping that she'd written it after finding out why he hadn't made it to King's Cross.

Ted,

I've just heard about your grandmother, and I couldn't go to sleep without writing to let you know that we are all thinking about you here at Hogwarts.

I know how much Andromeda means to you, and I hope that everything works out for your sake as much as it does for hers. Things like this.....they make you realise what is important and what is not.

We've been told Harry will floo Professor Longbottom if there is any more news.

I better stop writing just now because in spite of Professor Longbottom's insistence he wouldn't punish me if I got back from the Owlery after curfew, I'm actually really tired and hope to be asleep come curfew (you know me!)

Write back soon and let me know more.

Thinking of you,

Vic


Ted smiled as his thumb moved backwards and forwards over her name. At least they seemed to still be friends. And maybe - just maybe - they could start working to build that into something more. He knew he shouldn't get his hopes up - after all, she was still with Evan - but he liked the direction they were going in. Heading back towards how things had been before they had kissed. Or rather, before Caro had interrupted them. At least, Ted hoped that was where they were heading.




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  #45  
Old February 17th, 2012, 6:38 pm
MissGryffindor  Female.gif MissGryffindor is offline
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Re: Falling

Chapter 45



Ted glanced round the meeting room at St. Mungo's nervously, before smiling at those gathered. There were a couple of new faces today, which brought the total to ten. At least it wasn't as bad as it had been the first time he had held the group; the werewolves that had come along - some, he supposed, out of mere curiosity - had been outnumbered by equally-curious Trainee Healers. But everything was moving so quickly he couldn't quite believe he was there at all.

The first Friday back after his Christmas holidays, Ted had come to the hospital with Isadora to meet with some Healers from the Creature-Induced Injuries department - including those that worked on the 'Serious Bites' ward. During the course of their three hour meeting, they had decided that Ted would hold group meetings on two afternoons per week (possibly rising to three in the future if the venture was successful) and that Trainee Healers would be obliged as part of their ongoing assessment to attend a minimum of one meeting each fortnight. Owls had been sent out that day to wizards treated for werewolf bites within the previous five years, and Ted had arrived expectantly the next Tuesday to start.

"We should get started now", said Ted, glancing at the clock. It was just after two o'clock, the start time that had been decided upon at the meeting a fortnight before.

"I can see that we have a couple of new attendees today, welcome to both of you and I'll be able to talk to you alone later if you wish. Now, does anyone have any questions?" A blond-haired, middle-aged man Ted did not recognise raised his hand.

"Yes.....?"

"I was....someone told me you have Wolfsbane. I was just - my father lives with me, see, and he's getting on. Not as fast as he used to be, and a muggle to boot." The man was fidgety. Ted felt for him straight away; he was obviously the only carer his father had and looking at his worn clothes it seemed like he was pretty desperate.

"We can give you enough for the next full moon." Ted had managed to get this concession from the Healers. "And for after that, we can provide detailed instructions on brewing Wolfsbane." The man gave a small smile, and turned to stare at the ground. Ted wanted to yell at him that he wanted the man to have more too, but speaking out as he wanted to could risk his position.

He took some more questions - including one from a newly-bitten woman referred by her Healer, worrying about how to tell her family, and another from a man who asked if the Ministry was doing anything to improve his job prospects - and then allowed them to simply speak to each other in an open forum about things that were worrying them and prejudices they had faced because of their condition. At first he had been nervous about speaking to them, but then he had thought of how he would want his father to be treated by a stranger with knowledge of his condition.

"Nice to meet you both, I'm Ted", he introduced himself to the two newcomers at the end of the meeting.

"Keith."

"Scot."

"I'm pleased you both came. I hope you found it useful?"

"I guess", said Keith. Ted recognised him as the man that had asked about Wolfsbane at the beginning of the meeting. "Its - I guess its good to know that I'm not the only one of us trying to live a normal life."

"You're not", Ted asssured him. The other man, Scot, turned to him.

"Listen, kid, don't take this the wrong way......but what in the name of Merlin are you doing setting up a group like this, and sitting amongst us? Morbid curiosity? Are you not worried that you'll be contaminated?"

"Trying to do what my father couldn't, I suppose", said Ted simply. "He....he was a werewolf too, you see."

When only Ted and the Trainee Healers were left, one of them - Ted's former friend and dorm-mate Hem Lyttleton - came over to speak to him, and with a wide grin congratulated Ted on the success of his meeting.

"Do you have time to go to the cafeteria for a coffee and catch up? Its been too long, mate."

"I can't - my grandmother's on the second floor - Dragon Pox. I promised to go and see her once I'd finished." She was doing a lot better now; they had taken her off the constant Sleeping Potions and most of the pustules that had covered her skin were gone. There was still a great deal more tiredness than she would admit, even to Ted, but all he cared was that she had come through it, and according to Healer Boot, would be able to go home within the next week.

"We'll need to catch up soon. Have a proper night in the Broomsticks or the Leaky. You, me, Wes, Rowland and Matt."

"Maybe", conceded Ted as he gathered up the last of his notes. "I'll see you around, Hem." He walked out of the room grateful that he had been able to escape; Ted knew, however, that this was only a temporary reprieve from pressure to renew a friendship he had all but buried. Ted din't want to think about that, though, just about how positively his meetings had gone thus far.

"Hey, Grams", said Ted as he bent down to kiss her cheek. "How are you feeling today?"

"Bored and even more eager to get home than I was yesterday."

"A few more days, and then you'll be home. I was thinking about that - maybe....maybe I should move back in. Just for a week or so until you're back on your feet."

"Teddy, I will be fine. You don't need to treat me like an invalid."

"You're in hospital, so you kind of are. Well, if you don't want me to come and stay then I'll be over every evening to see how you're getting on."

"If you wish. You know I always like to see you. But, Teddy, you must understand that I do not now - nor do I ever want to be - any kind of a burden to you. You must live your own life."

"I know. I will." Ted helped himself to some of the grapes in a bowl on the bedside cabinet. "I got a letter from Vic this morning. She was asking after you again."

"Sweet girl. You're lucky to have a best friend like Victoire."

"I know", he smiled softly.

"And how is your new work coming along? Is it what you thought it would be?"

"We - we've only just started", said Ted hesitatingly. "Thing is, it'll take a while for the wider...community....to trust us, and to come. But we're not starting off with nothing, and hopefully once word gets around that we genuinely want to help more will come. Its worth the effort."

"I'm sure your father would have thought so, too."

"Thanks. Did you have any other visitors earlier today?" He poured her a glass of water.

"Thank you. I did have a few, yes. Zelda and Ophelia stopped by for half an hour just after lunch." Zelda and Ophelia were two of his grandmother's oldest friends; they had been among the group of female friends she had found herself in after eloping with his grandfather.

"I take it they brought the flowers?" His grandmother nodded; Ted had noted the addition of a vase filled with lilies when he'd sat down. The other flowers that had been sent remained, obviously having been sent with charms to extend their lifetime, including the first flowers that she had received, the bunch of narcissi. Nothing more had been heard from Narcissa, from whom they suspected the flowers had come.

"And Molly looked in as well - in fact, you just missed her by half an hour or so."

"I think Ginny mentioned last night that she hoped to."

"Teddy, its Friday night. Please tell me that you intend to do something with your evening. I hate to think of you spending it worrying about me." He laughed at her change in subject matter.

"You don't need to - I'm meeting some people from work for a few in the Leaky in a bit."

"Good - I'm glad to see that you haven't given up your social life just because I'm in here. And you don't need to come in every day, either."

"I want to. Honest. I want to make sure for myself that you're getting better. Before I forget, is there anything else I can bring you when I come tomorrow? Are you alright for clothes and books?"

"I'm fine for clothes, but I've read all the books I have here. Perhaps you could bring me a couple from the bookcase in my room at home? It doesn't matter which ones, I've read them all so many times anyway. They are like old friends."

"Sure."

A little later, Ted reluctantly left his grandmother and apparated to the Leaky as soon as he reached the reception area. It was around six o'clock, and the pub was just starting to get busy as shoppers completed their purchases and stopped off for a quick drink on their way home, those staying in the guest rooms came down in search of some dinner, and young teenagers and twenty-somethings like Ted paused for a drink or two or seven on their way home from work.

He had arranged to meet Albie, Pandora, Willa and Willa's husband Leighton around quarter past six for a few drinks. Harry had invited him over for dinner as always, but having been there every night since his grandmother had been admitted to hospital - apart from when Gramma Weasley made Sunday dinner for everyone at The Burrow - Ted felt a little guilty, almost like he was imposing on the precious time Harry had with his family. Although he knew that had he told Harry this he would have been told off for even thinking such a thing, Ted had jumped at the offer of a few drinks when Willa and Pandora had mentioned it the previous day, knowing that he could grab something to eat in the pub.

Walking into the Leaky, Ted immediately saw them seated at a corner table, and grinned as he was waved over. He took a seat between Willa and Albie as Pandora announced it was her turn to go to the bar for drinks. Ted said he would like a Butterbeer, and settled himself while she was away.

"How was the thing at St. Mungo's?" Albie asked as Ted sat down opposite him.

"Alright. It'll take a while to get going properly but I think we're getting there."

"When will the start of your legislation be put before the Wizengamot?"

"Three, four weeks. Just after Valentine's Day I think."

"Willa was telling me about it. You think it'll actually pass?" Willa's husband Leighton did not work in the DRCMC, but in the Department of Magical Transportation.

"Maybe. If it fails then at least we tried", shrugged Ted as he took the Butterbeer Pandora had brought over for him. "Thanks."

"No more shop talk", declared Willa, raising her arms as the rest of them laughed. Talk, however, descended into Valentine's Day - only a few weeks away - and Pandora and Willa gave loaded hints to their respective other halves as to what they hoped for as presents.

"What are your plans for Valentine's Day?" Pandora asked Ted.

"Mine? Oh, nothing really. Its a Sunday, so I'll probably be over at Gramma Weasley's for Sunday dinner."

"And on the Saturday?"

"Wes is trying to get me some extra tickets so I can take Al and Lily to see the Kestrels match. Lily isn't really that interested in Quidditch, but I've taken Al so many times she wants to come along to see what its like."

"No date?"

"Nope." He wasn't sorry for it either. The only person he would have wanted to spend Valentine's Day with properly would be hundreds of miles away at Hogwarts.

"Ted....Willa and I were talking", began Pandora, looking first to Willa and then to Albie, both of whom nodded in what seemed like support.

"Yes?" said Ted suspiciously.

"You see, we have a friend - Amala - who works in the Department of International Magical Co-Operation."

"She's an interpreter - her mother is from Arabia and she speaks fluent Arabic - really smart", interrupted Willa.

"Yes. And extremely pretty. Very....exotic looks...." Ted could tell where this was going and held up a hand.

"Did you have a hand in this?" Ted looked suspiciously from Albie to Leighton and back again. Both pretended not to notice.

"I am extremely flattered, and I am sure that your friend is lovely, but I am not looking to be set up on a blind date. Really. Caro and I were together for almost two years, my grandmother is in hospital and I'm setting up this new group at St. Mungo's. I don't have time for a new relationship, and even if I did, I'm enjoying just being single for a while." He didn't add that he already had his sights set on a potential future girlfriend currently going out with someone else. They weren't the first either; Rowland's girlfriend Mari had already tried to set Ted up with one of her friends.

"But its Valentine's Day", wheedled Pandora. "Surely you don't want to be alone - "

"I won't. I told you, I'm going to a Quidditch match that day. Or at least I'm hoping to."

"Are you really sure?" Willa asked. "Maybe you'll change your mind about Amala if you can't get the tickets?"

"Nah. I won't. Like I said, I'm sure your friend is lovely. She's just not for me." Pandora opened her mouth to say something else, but a look from Albie silenced her.

Ted didn't stay long at the Leaky after turning down the offer of a blind date with Amala; the night had sub-consciously turned into a double date in which Ted felt he was an intruder of sorts. He ordered some chicken and salad from the bar, and asked if he could take it away with him. The pub did not normally do take-aways, but the barman recognised Ted (it seemed to be Hannah's night off) and handed him a parcel to take home. He rejected an offer to go back to Albie's flat with the rest of them for a few more drinks and headed home. It was only a little after seven thirty and Ted felt a little guilty for telling his grandmother that he had an eventful Friday night planned.

Back in his flat, Ted ate his chicken and salad while listening to the Quidditch Weekend Preview programme on the WWN. As he heard George and Angelina's friend Lee Jordan hold a discussion group about the possibilities of a Cannons upset against the Tornadoes, and whether the Magpies or the Falcons - still the top two teams - would win the league, Ted allowed his thoughts to wander to the place they always went now if unchecked.....Vic.

They seemed to be getting back to a sense of normality, and he no longer felt Vic restraining herself and being careful when she wrote her letters. They flowed as freely as they had before Christmas, and Ted allowed his to mirror them in that respect. Mari, and now Willa and Pandora (and he suspected Albie as well) - they were all trying to set him up with someone else, though Ted couldn't bring himself to say that the only girl he wanted at the moment was Vic. The only time had spoken of it really had been the other day, when he had commented to Harry that his friendship with Vic appeared to be returning to normal.

None of this, however, stopped Ted from thinking about Vic, and giving up his Friday night as a bad job, he looked out some parchment and ink and started to reply to the letter he had received from her that morning.

Vic had been woken earlier than she had wished on Saturday morning, and yawned as she sat next to Nat at the Gryffindor breakfast table. Their first Apparition lesson was due to take place that morning, and so Vic had been denied her usual extra couple of hours in bed. Nevertheless, she did feel a sense of nervous excitement. Vic had been taken by side-along on more occasions than she could remember, but it would be different when she got her own license, able to go wherever she wanted, and when. She could visit her friends not connected to the Floo Network during the holidays, wouldn't be reliant on Ted to pick her up somewhere to take her to one of Wes's matches....

"Scrambled eggs?" Nat lifted a dish in Vic's direction.

"Thanks." She took a couple of large spoonfuls and placed the eggs on top of her toast, before adding some pepper. "I'm starving this morning, and I have absolutely no idea why."

"A big appetite is good. When we came back after the holidays, you were barely eating anything - you were so worried about Ted's grandmother being ill. Now that she's getting better, you've calmed down."

"I guess." Though as she started to eat, Vic felt that it had been as much to do with Ted - perhaps even more so - as it had to do with Andromeda. She was extremely relieved about Andromeda; the last letter she had received from Ted said he hoped his grandmother would leave hospital within the next week or so. And as far as Ted was concerned, Andromeda's illness had enabled them to come back together as friends with as little awkwardness as possible. Although Ted had not mentioned it in his first letter following her admittance to St. Mungo's, he did say in his next that he wasn't sure if it had come to her notice that he and Caro were no longer together.

Vic smiled and waved a little as she glanced down the table to where the Gryffindor Quidditch team and reserves sat. Felicia had taken advantage of the fact that the Gryffindor team was the only one without a sixth year to book up the Quidditch pitch for training every Saturday until the Hufflepuff match the following month; she liked the team to sit together for breakfast on match days, and they had also started to do so when they had an all-day practice. Evan grinned back at her.

"They'll all be exhausted tonight", commented Nat. "Felicia works them really hard. She's lucky she manages to get the pitch so much, though. I'm sure some of the other captains must think that its unfair, the amount of practice time our team gets."

"I don't know. I've never really thought about it", admitted Vic. "This Apparition lesson is only until lunch. What do you want to do this afternoon?"

"I want to lie in front of the fireplace reading an old book, eating too much chocolate and having a chat - and maybe listening to the WWN. Unfortunately, we have essays to do for just about every subject, plus the end of our Transfiguration projects, to work on."

"Library is it then. I want to work on my Herbology essay for Monday, the one on Flutterby bushes. There are a few things I want to look up before I write the last section and the conclusion, and I need to return that Arithmancy book I borrowed the other night; I forgot to return it yesterday and someone else might want to borrow it. The essay I used it for is due on Tuesday."

She also had her Potions essay to work on; they were studying Love Potions generally at the moment in the run-up to Valentine's Day, and each group been given one to write about. Vic, Nat and their fellow Gryffindors Crowther Curnow and Nathan Baines had been asked to write about the Fidelity Potion, which prevented those who drunk it from being unfaithful. After being given the essay topic, Vic had muttered guiltily to Nat that perhaps it was something she herself should be force-fed.

"Oh!" exclaimed Nat as an official-looking owl landed in front of them.

"Wonder what this is?" Vic took the envelope from the owl's beak. "Its for me."

Vic opened the envelope to find a large, gold-edged piece of parchment with her name on it; behind were one each for Dom and Louis.

"You are invited to attend the marriage of Miss Luna Lovegood and Mr. Rolf Scamander....."

"Its Luna's wedding invitation; I was wondering when this would arrive. Maman mentioned it before. Aunt Ginny says Lily is going to be a bridesmaid."

"When is the wedding?"

"Easter. I'll have to give Dom and Louis their invitations later; I don't think Felicia would be keen on me interrupting her pre-practice talk just for this. Oh, look - the wedding is the day after we go back home for the holidays. Hmm. I'll need to owl maman about it to make sure my dress robes are ready. Or I could get some new ones."

"An excuse to go shopping at Gladrags, excellent. I think I'll have some more tomatoes and bacon." Nat helped herself to a second plate as Vic looked over the invitation once again. With the stress and anxiety of the past few weeks, it was nice to have something like a wedding to look forward to.

After breakfast the sixth years all waited outside in the entrance hall while it was prepared for their lesson. Vic hoped the Ministry instructor wasn't too bad; she recalled the jokes Uncle George had made about the instructor that had taught during his time at Hogwarts, Turnip Twycross, the nickname deriving from the smell of his breath. It was not long before they were called in by Vic's Runes teacher Professor Bennett, who was Head of Slytherin as well as being Deputy Headmistress.

The tables had been moved, and a pile of hoops lay in the corner. Professors Longbottom, Robins and Willoughby - the remaining Heads of House - stood over to the side, talking happily to a small, smiley woman with blonde hair that seemed to Vic to be between the ages of fifty and sixty.

"Slytherin, please stand over here", said Professor Bennett. "Gryffindor, please stand over there - Hufflepuff here, and Ravenclaw here." Vic and the rest of the Gryffindors went over to the corner that had been indicated to them, and were joined by Professor Longbottom.

"Good morning", said the woman. "My name is Miss Macdonald. I work in the Apparition Test Centre at the Ministry of Magic, and over the next few weeks and months I will be taking you through the steps you need to perform in order to achieve apparition. In April, once you have returned from your Easter holidays, we will have a final practice session in Hogsmeade village, and I shall return in early May to perform the necessary testing. This means that in just four months time, some of you will have your apparition licenses."

"Hopefully it will be after my birthday", Vic muttered to Nat. She would hate for most of the year to be able to apparate in May, and then have to wait for the summer to sit her own test.

"Before we start, I want to go through three words that you will be hearing a lot of over the next few weeks: destination - determination - deliberation. Or, as we say in the Department of Magical Transportation, 'The Three D's'. Now, does anyone know what splinching is?" Vic saw one of the Ravenclaws raise her hand.

"Excellent, Miss.....?"

"Hetta Albrighton. Splinching is when you leave a body part behind whilst apparating." There was a hiss of imagined pain reverberating around the hall as Miss Macdonald congratulated Hetta on her response.

"That is correct. Splinching will occur when the mind is not sufficiently determined upon a destination. One of the keys to apparition is concentration. You must focus as hard as possible on where you intend to go. If your mind is on your lunch, or the Quidditch match about to start on the WWN, you will find it difficult - at least to start with - to arrive at your intended destination. You will see a pile of hoops laid out here. I would like you all to come forward in an orderly manner and take a hoop each before returning to your designated areas."

"Close your eyes", said Miss Macdonald once everyone had selected a hoop and laid it to the side of them as they had been told to.

"And now I want you to imagine the inside of your hoop. Concentrate heavily on it, and what it would feel like to be standing inside your hoop. Focus hard, and then tell yourself you are going to be standing inside your hoop." Vic thought hard and fought against everything else going through her mind.

"Open your eyes." Vic opened hers to find that she was still standing exactly where she had been before. But then, so was everyone else.

"Don't worry; I didn't expect you to be able to apparate on your first try. Its extremely rare. I want you to try and repeat those steps. Determination - destination - deliberation. Think about where you want to go, and focus on getting there."

By the time they finished the lesson at one so that lunch could be served, no one had yet been able to achieve apparition into their hoops. Vic's dorm-mate Kara Towler, a Slytherin boy whose name she was unsure of and a couple of Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws had splinched themselves - some were in worse states than others - and they were all referred to the hospital wing before they could come back down for lunch. From speaking to her family, Vic knew that this was a long process, and did not expect to achieve anything for at least two or three more weeks.

"I always thought you couldn't apprate inside the grounds of Hogwarts", Vic heard one of the Hufflepuffs saying whilst they stood out in the entrance hall once again, waiting for the dining tables to be restored.

"Is that right?" Nat nudged Vic.

"They must have lifted it, but yes it is generally true. Haven't you read 'Hogwarts: A History' before?"

"Nope. I take it you have, though." Vic nodded. "I do actually have it - my parents bought it for me before I started first year when they took me to Diagon Alley to get all my school things. I just never got round to reading it."

"Aunt Hermione thought we should all read it before going to Hogwarts, and so she gives it in addition to an eleventh birthday present. And you know Aunt Hermione."

"No chance you would get away with pretending you'd read it?"

"None at all", grinned Vic as they walked back in to eat lunch.

After lunch, Vic and Nat headed up to Gryffindor Tower to pick up heavy bags that held everything they required for an afternoon of studying, before going back down to the library. They picked a table at the back, where they knew they would get some peace and quiet, and started to work away. Although she was not the most studious member of the family - and was quite willing to admit that was the case - Vic could still spend an entire afternoon, or even day, working away at her schoolwork. She just didn't enjoy it as much as a Ravenclaw would, and could quite easily have spent her afternoon doing something else had she been given the choice.

"Do you realise that we are actually almost on schedule with our homework and might even get some time to ourselves tomorrow?" said Nat.

"I guess", Vic replied through a yawn. She glanced at her watch; it was almost four thirty and they had been studying for around three hours. In that time, Vic had completed her essay for Arithmancy, written some notes for her Charms essay and started her Herbology one.

"Evan, Dom and the rest of them will be finished Quidditch practice soon. Do you want to keep going for a little while longer, or go back up to Gryffindor Tower to wait for them?"

"Keep going", said Vic. "Might as well get as much as we can done. After all, like you said - we might get some free time tomorrow out of it."

"If you want. I'm not really bothered. Suppose Evan will have to spend tomorrow catching up on the homework he missed out on doing today."

"Probably." Vic returned to her Herbology essay. She was writing the section on the uses of Flutterby bushes.

"Well, I'll get back to my Transfigration project then." Vic nodded, and pretended to read through what she had written already. The truth was, while Vic had felt herself growing closer to Evan on her return from their summer holidays she now felt that they were drifting slowly apart. With this being his NEWT year, he spent more and more of the free time he had outside Quidditch studying, and Vic spent what she knew was a little too much time brooding internally over the Ted issue. They didn't talk as much as they had and spent more and more time as part of a group, which consequently meant that they spent less time alone as a couple. Vic knew she should talk to Nat about it, but as had been the case with her burgeoning feelings for Ted prior to Christmas, she just couldn't bring herself to do so.

Vic knew that the developing distance between herself and Evan was down to circumstances and not their own deliberate actions, and having vowed to make things work with Evan and forget Ted, promised herself she would try to remedy the situation. After all, Ted wanted only to be her friend. She had to accept that and move on.



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Last edited by MissGryffindor; February 19th, 2012 at 5:32 pm.
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  #46  
Old February 24th, 2012, 10:00 pm
MissGryffindor  Female.gif MissGryffindor is offline
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Re: Falling

Big, big thanks to nevillesgal, marauderfan, Urania and blueowl - your lovely feedback gets me through the blockages and encourages me even more.


Chapter 46



Ten days before Valentine's Day, a Thursday, saw Vic and Nat head straight to Potions after lunch. Vic always felt a noticable chill start to descend upon them as they left the main entrance hall and started down the steps in the direction of the dungeons. Perhaps it was her inbred Gryffindor dislike of the Slytherins, but she always felt a little off when coming down here to the Potions labs.

Their Potions teacher, Professor Winstanton, spoke extremely quietly and consequently it was the only class in which Vic sat as near the front as she could. As she and Nat took their normal seats, they smiled at the other two Gryffindors they shared a table with, Curnow Crowther and Nathan Baines. They were the only four Gryffindors that had chosen to take the subject on to NEWT level, and had stuck together. Glancing round the room, Vic could see that most of the tables had been taken along House lines, though one held a mixture of Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws.

"Miss Montague, please collect in the assigned essays", said Professor Winstanton softly, bring the class to order. As a dark-haired Slytherin girl began to move around, Vic dug her essay on Amortentia out of her bag; it had taken her hours to write, and at three-and-a-half feet was the longest essay she'd been assigned that week. When a stony-faced Caleigh Montague reached the Gryffindor table, Vic handed over her essay and smiled back at the sneer on the girl's face.

"Thank you." Professor Winstanton laid the essays down on her table and turned back to face the class. "Since your return following the Christmas holidays we have been studying Love Potions. Today, we shall have our penultimate class on the matter as we begin to brew Amortentia. You should all have some idea of the theory having written your essays; we will begin today and finish tomorrow, Amortentia having - as you should now all know - to be left overnight halfway through the process. The instructions can be found on page ninety seven of Advanced Potion Making, and the ingredients, as always, are in the store cupboard. You have approximately ninety minutes, so I suggest you begin imminently. I shall come round and observe your work."

"You look out the instructions and I'll get the ingredients?" Nat asked Vic. She nodded. They always worked this way, yet at the start of every class Nat asked the same question of Vic. She flipped open her textbook and found page ninety seven. The instructions looked pretty complicated, but no more so than any other potion they had brewed that year. Vic read out the list of ingredients and then re-read the stages of the potion as Nat collected what they needed.

The class passed by extremely quickly; a great deal of concentration was required for brewing Amortentia, and before Vic knew it, Professor Winstanton was giving a five minute warning for them to stop what they were doing and start tidying up.

"Its going quite well, isn't it?" said Nat happily. Vic nodded. Her potion was actually going alright. In truth, Vic was probably better at Potions than she thought she was. It was really just a lack of confidence in her abilities in the subject that held her back. That said, although she had not altogether decided upon a specific career path she had at least ruled out a profession that was based around the brewing of potions. An Apothecary Vic would never be.

"You should now be at the halfway point, and your potions a light, lilac colour. If you have followed the instructions correctly you should also be able to start picking up subtle tones of what you will be able to smell once the potion is complete." Vic leaned forward and took in a deep breath of the aroma from her half-finished potion. She could smell them! Yes they were very faint, but they were there and she could make them out. Chocolate; her mother's French cooking; the smell of the sea. And then the most potent one. The unmistakable stench of peppermint tea. Ted.

Vic took an inward gulp as she moved her cauldron to the side of the room, where it would remain until their lesson the following day. She could hear her classmates around her chattering away, talking about what they had been able to smell - their girlfriend's perfume; their favourite pudding; their boyfriend's aftershave; books. There was an element of guilt in Vic as she heard the coupled-up members of the class talking about smelling their boyfriend or girlfriend. Vic hadn't been able to smell anything relating to Evan.

The girls had a free period next, and went straight up to the library to work on the Defence essay they had been assigned that morning, on how to deal with Inferi.

"I thought that went well", Nat beamed as they walked up the stairs. "I mean, Amortentia is something that we might get assessed on in our NEWTs next year, and its good to know that we're able to brew something to that standard. Or close to it, anyway. Yours was going well too, I saw. I wonder why - and this is the closet romantic in me coming out - we're brewing them ten days before Valentine's. Why couldn't we have done it next week?"

"I don't know", said Vic honestly. "Maybe its just that there is a set week every potion is done. Or maybe we're ahead of schedule or something."

"Hmm." As they walked into the library they were claimed by Evan and some of his friends; Vic had forgotten that he also had this period free.

"How was Potions?" Evan asked Vic as he kissed her cheek.

"Good thanks." She sat down next to him, in the chair he must have saved for her. "How was Charms?"

"Fabulous as always."

"That's because you're so good at it", grumbled Mark. "Some of us actually find it a chore and need to work at getting even a reasonable grade."

"I can't help being naturally brilliant", Evan replied in jest.

"Do any of you have any idea why Winstanton doesn't teach Amortentia closer to Valentine's than this?" Nat asked as she and Vic took out their Defence things.

"Didn't you know?" said Felicia. She turned to Vic. "I thought you might know at least. But maybe Ted doesn't know either. Well, apparently she wants to give people advance warning that the person they are planning on spending Valentine's with might be completely the wrong person. The story is that years ago - before she came to work at Hogwarts - Winstanton was engaged to some wizard or other who left her the day before they got married. Sent her an owl that she got when she was having the final fitting for her wedding dress."

"Poor woman", muttered Nat.

"That's why she's so bitter sometimes", Felicia continued. "Their wedding was meant to be on Valentine's Day so every year she wants to warn people off someone they shouldn't be with."

"Hmm", said Vic nervously. Was she one of those people? After all, she and Evan had been together for almost a year now and she'd told him that she loved him - so why couldn't she smell him from her potion?

"Reminds me a bit of Miss Haversham", said Nat idly as she opened a book labelled 'Dealing with Dark Creatures'.

"Who?" Mark asked.

"She's - just a character in a muggle novel my mother likes."

"And what did you smell in the Amortentia?" Evan whispered in Vic's ear. She could feel the smile in his face, even though she could not see it; he expected her to say him.

"Chocolate, obviously. Maman's cooking, then the smell of the sea at home. There was something else as well.....not really sure what but we're only halfway through", said Vic teasingly, letting Evan think it had been him. She felt awful inside. Although Evan knew nothing about the two new year kisses she had shared with Ted and the feelings she'd had - well, still had, really - for her best friend, Vic had never told him an outright lie before, just withheld information. What kind of girlfriend was she?

"Nat, do you want to come and help me look for more books for our essay?" Vic said pointedly, hoping that she would pick up on the hint.

"Yeah. We're going to need more than the two we have here", she sighed. They headed for the Defence Against the Dark Arts section, which Vic was relieved to see was empty.

"Nat, I'm an awful person", groaned Vic. "I've just let Evan think that I could smell him in the Amortentia."

"And you didn't?" Vic shook her head. "You could smell Ted, though, couldn't you? Oh, Vic."

"I don't understand it, I really don't. I feel so much for Evan - why couldn't I smell him?"

"Maybe you love Ted more? After all, you're best friends on top of these feelings you've had for him."

"That won't go anywhere, though. He just wants to be my friend, I know that now. Ted would have told me before now if he wanted something more. He had so many chances. He would have written to say something, I think. No, its Evan. Maybe.....maybe because its only half-done? Maybe I'll be able to smell Evan tomorrow, once its finished?"

"I don't know...............I'm not an expert." Vic nodded.

"I feel awful for lying to him, though. Its been almost a year and that's the first time I've ever told him an outright lie."

"Just be glad you lasted that long. I lie to Dylan every time I see him. I just hope that when he finds out, he'll be able to accept me, and that I lied because I was bound by wizarding law not to tell him the truth."

"Have you decided when you're going to tell him?"

"No. But I've narrowed it down to when I come of age, when he says 'I love you', or when I leave Hogwarts. Of course, he could figure it out before then, or he may break up with me before any of those three things happen. After all, I'm hundreds of miles away. I wouldn't blame him for wanting to end it, to want a girlfriend that he can see every day of the year."

"What a pair we are", Vic smiled ruefully. "And now we should actually look for the books we need. I think you'll be alright with Dylan, though."

"Will I?"

"Yeah, he seems like what Tante Gabrielle would call a 'Keeper'."

"Which makes it all the more ironic that she's marrying a Chaser."

"What are you doing for Valentine's Day?" Vic asked Nat that evening as they had pudding. Only she, Nat and Persephone remained; the rest had gone off to get ready for Quidditch practice.

"Already have it planned. I am going to Gladrags, Honeydukes and the Broomsticks with Dom and Leigh-Anne. Emme was meant to be coming with us, but she's got a date with some Ravenclaw or other. In fact, one of his friends asked Dom but she turned him down."

"How is it that I know nothing about this?" Vic mused aloud. At least she now knew what Dom was up to then; she already knew who Louis would be going to Hogsmeade with on that day.

"You and Evan were a little busy over in the corner when Dom told me."

"Oh", blushed Vic.

"Its fine." Nat laughed at her.

"Hey, Athena." Persephone's owl had arrived, bearing a copy of the Evening Prophet.

"Anything interesting?" Vic asked through a mouthful of apple crumble.

"Not really. The Ridgebacks have announced they will be going on tour now that whatshisname is back in the band. Looks like all the shows will be in the summer, so I might see if Eddie wants to go.......some ex-head of the Department of Magical Transportation has died at the age of a hundred and thirteen......and Rita Skeeter's written something about new werewolf laws the Ministry are trying to push through. Then there's the usual - "

"What did you say Rita Skeeter had written?" Vic asked nervously. She had only really been half-listening until she'd heard the journalist's name mentioned. "Do you mind if I read it - Ted works for the DRCMC, you see. Just want to see if....."

"Sure." Persephone handed her the paper and she laid it down between her and Nat so they could both read it.

Readers, it has come to my attention that the Ministry of Magic is about to try and pass some of the most controversial legislation since the laws passed following the fall of the wartime rule of Pius Thicknesse. A source inside the Wizengamot has disclosed to me that in the next few months a series of laws will be placed in front of the Wizarding Court granting more rights and freedoms to werewolves. This will come as a shock and be of great concern to you, and it has to be questioned if these moves are within the public interest.

The laws are said to have been written and pushed by DRCMC worker Isadora Cavendish, a longtime member of the department who worked on bills granting greater rights to house-elves with Hermione Weasley (then Granger), now a member of the Wizenganmot herself. Mrs. Weasley's liberal views seem to have been passed on to her protege, who could also have been influenced by the actions of her squib sister, who works in muggle London in a job that tries to wrest control of dangerous persons from the government.

Minister Shacklebolt was unavailable for comment when we contacted him at his office today, and an assistant refused to give us any idea of the Minister's thinking on this matter. It should be remembered, however, that our Minister was a member of The Order of the Phoenix, the underground organisation founded by Albus Dumbledore, during the last war (for further details on this organisation please see my published works on the matter). As such, he fought alongside well-known werewolf Remus Lupin, whose controversial appointment to the Hogwarts staff divided opinion once known. Lupin was removed from the post after a near-fatal accident during a full moon which allowed the escape of convicted murderer Sirius Black.

I think that you all join with me in believing that these laws - which would see werewolves have the same rights as wizards - should not be passed, and call on each and every member of the Wizengamot to vote NO when asked. As has been seen above, our Minister can clearly not be called upon to give an unbiased opinion on the matter.......


"What a load of rubbish", said Vic angrily. "See what she's written there - its like she thinks werewolves aren't even human!"

"Who is this Isadora Cavendish person?" Nat asked.

"Ted's boss. I actually met her during the holidays - she came into the Leaky one day when Ted, Dom and I were in there for lunch. She seems really nice. I'm just relieved Rita Skeeter hasn't dug far enough into this to realise that Ted is involved. They met once - she cornered him in Diagon Alley one day when he was there with Uncle Harry and said she wanted to write about his parents marriage as part of her book on The Order of the Phoenix. She knows the basics of his past and that Uncle Harry is his godfather. I really hope Ted isn't her next target."

"I'm sure Ted will be fine. He isn't ashamed of who his father was."

"I know. Nor should he be. His father fought in the war. He died a hero's death. The fact that he lost control a little once a month is nothing. I should write to Ted tonight. Make sure he's alright."

"Yeah, I think I'll write to Dylan as well. Give us a break from our homework." Vic smiled, trying to hide the anxiety she felt on Ted's part. She knew how Rita Skeeter could be; if she got hold of news on Ted's involvement she wouldn't stop until she had exposed each and every part of his life to public view.

The following day in Potions, Vic finished brewing Amortentia. She was shocked, but in a way not actually surprised, when she found only the same smells as the day before.

The Monday after Rita Skeeter's article on the werewolf laws they wished to pass saw Ted and Isadora called into a meeting with Rushton Roush over the publicity and the public reaction to it. Over the weekend, Ted had spent a lot of time with Harry, talking over what to do about Rita Skeeter; both were convinced - as Vic apparently had been according to the letter she had sent - that if Rita found out Ted was involved there would be a series of articles on him and his parents.

"We have to find some way of getting our point across as well", sighed Roush in exasperation. "And not through Rita Skeeter - that woman skews everything you say, and writes what you don't anyway."

"I can't believe what she wrote about my sister!" Isadora exclaimed, throwing down a copy of the article onto the table. "She has nothing to do with this - and her job is not to subvert the government! Its to make sure that people are treated according to their rights! Urgh!"

"I could speak to Luna Lovegood, the owner of The Quibbler if you want me to."

"That rag is a piece of nonsense; nobody believes half of what is printed in it", said Roush harshly.

"No....Ted's right." Isadora turned to face Roush. "That way we can get our side of the story across in an interview without having to deal with Rita Skeeter. Do you think she would do it, Ted?"

"I do. Its not the first time The Quibbler has been used to tell stories the Daily Prophet wouldn't print. I can owl her tonight; she's in Denmark at a conference at the moment so it'll take a couple of days to get a response." She had gone with Rolf, who was due to give a speech on Chimaeras.

"Well, its a step forward at least", said Roush.

"There's something I wanted to say as well", said Ted heavily. "Whether we succeed in swaying at least some of public opinion with an article countering what Rita Skeeter said, the fact remains that she could still write more about it. I think - don't get me wrong, I stand by this legislation and I believe in it - but I think that maybe my name should not be on it."

"You think she'll write about your father again?" said Isadora.

"Yeah, I do. She's already mentioned him in this article. Maybe she knows I'm involved, maybe she doesn't. If she does, mentioning his name in this article could be a warning that she does. And I don't want my family history to overshadow the passing of laws that will make a great deal of difference to a lot of people. She knows who I am - who my godfather is and about my parents' marriage - even stopped me in the street one day to question me about it."

"But Ted you've worked so hard on this. It seems a little unfair that you won't be able to take all the credit for it that you deserve."

"I'll know what I did, and so will everyone in the department, and everyone that knows me. That's enough. I don't need the whole world to know to be proud of what I've done."

"It does seem to me to be a good solution to the matter", said Roush. "That will be all. Let me know as soon as you receive a response from Miss Lovegood."

"Yes, sir." Ted and Isadora left Roush's office and walked back along the corridor to the main DRCMC office floor.

"How do you put up with it?" Isadora asked, sighing as she indicated the article. "Having everyone talking about you like that and seeing your name in print. I..."

"Everyone knows most of what Rita Skeeter writes is rubbish, and those that don't need their heads examined. There is the odd bit of truth, but look - her mention of that book she wrote on The Order of the Phoenix? Most of it was nonsense, and I speak as someone whose parents were members. She makes bits up and gets the rest through blackmail and Veritaserum, I think. Take this for example - "Lupin was removed from the post after a near-fatal accident during a full moon which allowed the escape of convicted murderer Sirius Black." Aside from the fact that my father resigned - Dumbledore didn't sack him - she conveniently forgets to mention the fact that Sirius Black was innocent!"

"I guess. I just wish she didn't feel the need to drag my family into my work life."

"Sometimes who our family is can have an influence on the jobs we do, I guess. Maybe that's her justification. Personally, I don't think there is one."

"Nor do I." They sat down at their desks. "Now, we haven't had a chance to talk yet about how your meeting was on Friday."

"Good. Its getting there. We've had a slow increase each time and now about fifteen people on average come each time. Its good....it gives them a chance to interact with people facing the same problems and prejudices as they are. Some of them were incredibly suspicious at first - both with regards to me and to the group generally. But once I explained to them where I was coming from it definitely lessened the tension."

"Good. So, we're getting somewhere then?" Ted nodded. "Well that's something at least. It was very noble, what you did back there."

"What, saying you should take my name of the legislation?"

"Yeah. I don't know if I could have been quite so relaxed about it."

"Its for the best. Sometimes you have to take a short-term hit to make something work in the long-term, I suppose."

"You're very pragmatic all of a sudden."

"I just don't want my father's life - or Rita Skeeter's version of it - dissected and ruined by the entire wizarding world just so that my name appears on a piece of paper. And my grandmother, for all she accepted my parents' marriage, I don't want to put her through something like that."

"How is she? Its been what - two weeks since she got out of hospital?"

"About that, yeah. I think I'm driving her insane, stopping by every day, but I just want to make sure that she's alright. She's coming over to Harry's for dinner tonight, so I'll see her then as well."

"I'm sure she'd rather you were annoying her with your constant presence than you not being there at all."

"I guess. And now I suppose we should really get a move on with the wording of these laws I'm not writing."

"Yeah, we should get started."

After work, Ted went straight to Godric's Hollow, hoping that something might happen there that would give him an excuse not to go on afterwards to the Leaky. He had finally bowed to Hem Lyttleton's serial suggestions that they should catch up, not having spoken since leaving Hogwarts the previous summer. Ted had insisted that if they were going to, Wes and Rowland, and Hem's best friend Matt should also come to make a proper night out of it. With Hem's shifts at St. Mungo's to consider, they had decided upon a couple of drinks this evening.Ted was not looking forward to it.

"Hey, how are you two?" Ted said to Lily and Al as he dusted himself off from the floo. They were working through their homework, and seemed quite pleased at the distraction.

"Teddy!" Lily exclaimed as she ran over to hug him. "Guess what!"

"What?"

"Mummy says that she's going to take me to Auntie Luna's house on Friday after school to see about my bridesmaid's dress for her wedding! Isn't it exciting!"

"It sure is! Is Grams here yet?" Lily shook her head. "How about you, Al? What have you been up to?"

"Nothing much", he shrugged.

"Ted, you're here", said Ginny, coming into the room and pulling him into the kitchen so that Al and Lily couldn't use him as an excuse not to finish their homework. "How are you?"

"Good. Lily said Grams isn't here yet?"

"No, she said she'd probably be here around six, and its not even quarter to yet though, so I wouldn't worry."

"I'm not worried."

"Ted - I know you better than that. You've been worried since that day at King's Cross when you told us she was in hospital. Andromeda is a lot stronger than you think she is."

"I know she's strong. I mean everything she had to deal with during the war.......I just - "

"I know. Al is really looking forward to Quidditch this weekend. The Kestrels match should be a good one. I think even Lily is looking forward to going because she sees it as getting a treat, even though she isn't as interested in Quidditch as the boys are. Its really good of you to take them, especially given that its Valentine's weekend."

"Its fine. And speaking of, I wondered if maybe you wanted me to take them for the night? Then maybe you and Harry could go out for dinner and have a proper Valentine's night for yourself. Even if Valentine's itself isn't until Sunday."

"Wow. Ted - I - would you?"

"Yeah, it would be fine. I could transfigure something into a bed in the spare room, and the other one can have my room. The sofa will be fine for me. Ginny, you and Harry have done so much for me since forever. All I want to do is give a little of that back."

"I'll speak to Harry about it then", she beamed. "Its steak pie for dinner. Again. It seems to be Al's favourite at the moment, and he'll be going to Hogwarts in less than seven months so I want to make sure he gets his favourites as much as he wants."

"I owled Luna today." He told her about Isadora's intention to give an interview to The Quibbler, and about the meeting he'd been in with her and Roush that morning.

"But Ted, you're worked so hard; it is such a shame that you won't get anywhere near the credit you deserve because of that awful woman."

"She'll come after all of us if I don't; Grams has been through enough recently without reading about how dad somehow brain-washed me into being pro-werewolf before he died, even though I was only a few weeks old."

"Hello", said Andromeda as she walked in through the back door. "How are you, Ginny, Teddy?"

"Not bad. How about you, Andromeda? Cup of tea?" As his grandmother nodded, Ted asked how she was feeling.

"Teddy, I am fine. I am almost fully recovered. You know I no longer have to take any of those awful potions." Ted ignored the small hint of exasperation in her voice as he accepted a cup of his favourite peppermint tea from Ginny.

"I'm just worried about you. I want to make sure that you're alright." In truth, he had not truly recovered from the sight of her the night he'd found her barely conscious and hallucinating, and apparated with her to St. Mungo's. Ted was not sure he ever would forget it. He tried to change the subject.

"Were you busy today? I thought you might have been here before me."

"No, I....I had a visitor, actually", she said hesitatingly. Ted looked at his grandmother questioningly; he didn't see what she had to be nervous about, Ted had often come upon one or other of her friends popping in for tea or coffee in the afternoon.

"Ophelia, was it? Or....or Zelda?"

"Narcissa. Teddy, don't look at me like that." He pulled the bottom of his jaw from the floor and rearranged his features into what he hoped was a neutral appearance.

"Um, I think I'll just go and see - "

"Ginny, this is your home, we will not push you out of your own kitchen. Please, stay." At his grandmother's words, Ted felt a tad guilty. Ginny nodded, and remained by the counter looking a little uncomfortable, yet simultaneously curious.

"Narcissa was there for half an hour, Teddy. She had heard about what happened and called to see how I was recovering. We had a cup of tea, and some of the cake that Zelda dropped off the other day. I know that you don't particularly approve of Narcissa, but she is still my sister." Ted wanted to scream at her that he knew that, but given that her other sister had killed his mother he felt he had a reason to feel protective when it came to Narcissa coming back into her life, but he managed to hold his tongue. Just.

"And how was she?" he somehow asked politely. Ted had never really approved of the way that Narcissa would barely nod at her sister if they met in public, as if she remained below her notice. He knew how much it had hurt his grandmother to leave behind the sisters she had been brought up with, in spite of their political views on the subject of blood purity, and hated the thought of his gradmother feeling as if she had got Narcissa back only to end up losing her again.

"Well. She spoke so much of her grandson, Draco's boy. Scorpius. He is due to start at Hogwarts in September, with Albus and Rosie. Narcissa is very fond of Scorpius, and likes to spoil him."

"I'm sure he appreciates it." Their stilted conversation did not last long, as Harry soon returned home from work, giving Al and Lily an excuse to leave the completion of their homework until after dinner and chat away to Ted.

As the hoped-for excuse had not materialised, Ted - still slightly irked by Narcissa's visit - flooed to the Leaky not long after dinner, hoping that at least he and Hem would not be the first two there. For once, he was lucky, and Wes and Rowland sat in a corner, laughing over a couple of butterbeers. Ted grinned at them, and went to the bar for a round of drinks before joining them.

"Alright. Been here long?" asked Ted.

"Not long", shrugged Wes. "You have dinner at Harry's?"

"Yeah. How is Katya?"

"Good. She keeps dropping hints about what she wants for Valentine's Day, though."

"Urgh, so does Mari", added Rowland. "If I have to hear about this fantastic new perfume that's just come out one more time......"

"The perks of being single." Wes inclined his head towards Ted, who wished he was anything but. On Saturday he had gone into Honeydukes and bought three of the largest boxes of chocolate they stocked to send to Hogwarts to Vic, Dom and Nat; he had intended to get the biggest - also Vic's favourite - only for Vic herself, but figured that it might look suspicious and ended up getting one for each of the girls. He'd have to go to the Owl Post Office on Thursday or Friday for an extra owl or two to help his own carry the packages to Hogwarts.

"Oh, listen mate before I forget - the team is holding a big Valentine's party after the Kestrels game on Saturday if you want to come along for a bit after. Rowland and Mari are coming. Free food and drink."

"I don't know - I told Ginny and Harry I would take Al and Lily for the night." Harry had seemed as grateful and guilty as Ginny had, but Ted had pushed his case at wanting to give back to someone that had given so much to him.

"Bring them along for half an hour and they can meet some of the team", shrugged Wes. "Kids like that, don't they?"

"Lily isn't really into Quidditch, but if there was free food she could probably be persuaded to stop in. I'll think about it, but if we came it wouldn't be for long."

"Look who it is!" exclaimed a voice behind them. Ted turned round to see Hem coming into the pub along with Matt. The latter went to the bar as Ted had done, while Hem came straight over to join them.

"This is weird", grinned Matt when they were all sitting down. "Feels like Hogwarts was a million years ago."

"In some ways it was", said Ted thoughtfully. So much had changed since then. That said, so much remained the same.

They got into conversation about girlfriends, and Hem mentioned - as he had to Ted a week or so before - that he was now seeing one of the other Trainee Healers, a girl called Lydia that had been in the same year as them but in Hufflepuff. As Hem spoke, Ted began to realise the extent to which his former dorm-mate and friend really was one of those things that had changed since Hogwarts. He was far more boorish and - if Ted was honest with himself - irritating. Perhaps Hem and Ava had done Vic a favour.

"You didn't tell me any of the times I saw you in Mungo's that you and Caro broke up", Hem turned to Ted. "Matt said he didn't know either; only found out the other day when I bumped into those friends of Caro's, Mattie and Alberta. You're...well, you're not their favourite person at the moment."

"I don't doubt it", shrugged Ted. He wasn't really too bothered, and he knew where the two girls were coming from. "They would hardly choose me over her, would they?"

"I guess not."

"We should do this more often", suggested Matt. Ted nodded vaguely, and made up his mind instantly that if Hem was involved, he would contrive to be busy most of the time.

"I do wish sometimes that I still was at Hogwarts, that I could go back every now and then", said Hem wistfully, a shadow of his former self seeping through. "Our last year went by so quickly....much quicker than I ever thought it would. How - how is Victoire? I still miss her from time to time."

"Fine. Good. Working hard as always", said Ted. He did not add that while Hem occasionally thought of Vic, the reverse was almost certainly not true.

"She still with that bloke from the Quidditch team, Evan?"

"Yeah, she is." Unfortunately. "They've been together almost a year now."

"Lucky bloke. I really screwed that up. She's an amazing girl, Victoire. Pretty much perfect." Once, Ted would have said that she really wasn't, now he saw it was those little flaws that made her so. He really had to stop moping about like this and accept that nothing could be done on the Vic front until at least Easter.

"She seemed really happy when we saw her at Christmas", said Rowland.

"She is", Ted smiled softly.

"I'm going up to the bar for some more drinks." Hem stood up. "Same again? Give me a hand with the drinks, Matt?" The two of them went over to the bar, and as soon as they were out of earshot, Wes and Rowland started questioning Ted.

"What is up with you tonight? You look miserable", said Wes.

"Thank you."

"Is it Hem? I thought you forgave him over the Vic thing?" Rowland asked.

"I did at the time, but only because she asked me to." And only because I felt guilty for kissing her while she was going out with him. Merlin, I am such a hypocrite! "If someone cheated on your best friend would you be as good mates with them as before?" Ted stood up.

"Don't bother getting another for me; I'm going to head back to the flat", Ted called over to Hem and Matt. "Its been a really long day, and I have a splitting headache. I'm going to go home, take a potion for it and then crash out."

He waved at them and promised that yes, they would meet up again soon for another drink. It had been a long day, and he wanted to be focused tomorrow for the support group. Ted also knew that he had to go and apologise to his grandmother and smooth over how he'd been when she'd mentioned Narcissa. As much as Ted was not keen on the woman, she seemed to be attempting to build bridges with his grandmother - and he had to explain that he was just concerned for her.




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  #47  
Old March 3rd, 2012, 12:32 am
MissGryffindor  Female.gif MissGryffindor is offline
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Re: Falling

Thank you once again to nevillesgal, marauderfan, Urania and blueowl for your amazing feedback - this is for you!!

Chapter 47



"Do you have everything?" Ted could pick up on the nervousness in Ginny's voice as she made sure that Al and Lily had everything they needed. "Toothbrushes, toothpaste?"

"Yes, mummy. Can I take toffee too?"

"No, Lily. I'm afraid the cat has to stay here." Ted grinned. Ginny had told Al and Lily they had to remember everything they would need for that night and the next day - it wasn't fair to Ted otherwise - and Lily had taken it quite literally.

"We'll be fine", Ted reassured her. He knew that she still felt a tad guilty about taking him up on the offer to have Al and Lily stay over, and was trying to do everything she could to make sure Ted was put to as little trouble as possible.

"You two be good for Ted, do you hear me? Because he WILL tell me if you misbehave."

"We're not James", Al muttered so only Ted, standing next to him, could hear.

"Is Teddy making us dinner tonight as well?" Lily asked. She looked up at him dubiously, and he could understand why; Ted had never demonstrated to Lily that he could make anything edible beyond toast - or at a push some sort of pie that just needed to be warmed up.

"Actually, we are going to a party for dinner."

"A party?!" Lily exclaimed excitedly. "Where?"

"At the Quidditch stadium. I wasn't going to tell you until later, but since you're so worried about dinner - Wes told me that there is a party for the team and their friends and families after the match, so we're going to go along for a little while and have something to eat. And......you'll even get to meet some of the players!"

"Wow! Really? James will be soooooo jealous when I tell him!" said Al.

"Al, you're not to go boasting to your brother, or Ted won't take you again", Harry informed him. Al grunted in response that James had no hesitations about boasting to him and Lily, and then Ginny started hugging the children goodbye.

"You have a good weekend - and enjoy that new restaurant in Diagon Alley", Ted said to Ginny as she hugged him.

"We will do", she promised. She stood next to Harry at the side of the fireplace, and Ted waved, calling that everything would be fine before throwing down the floo powder and calling out his address.

Ted tumbled out of the fireplace and waited for Al and Lily to appear as he dusted himself off. It didn't take long; first Al and then Lily fell onto the rug in front of the fire, their overnight bags on their back.

"Alright?" Ted asked. They both nodded in response.

"Where are we going to sleep?" Lily asked. "Is there really enough room?"

"Yes, Lily bean, there is. I transfigured an old chair into a bed in the spare room for Al, I am going to sleep on the sofa, and you are going to sleep in my room. So both of you can go and lay your bags down, and I'll get us some drinks." By the time they returned, two glasses of pumpkin juice were waiting for them on the table next to the sofa, and Ted was turning on the WWN. He put the volume on 'low' and turned to them.

"I figured we could have the pre-game programme on in the background."

"Teddy, who is playing Quidditch today?" Lily asked.

"I already told you", sighed Al. "The Magpies and the Kestrels."

"I knew that the Magpies were playing, I just couldn't remember who against. Will there be lots of people there?"

"There will", said Ted. "But as I am sure Al has told you, thanks to Wes, when I go to matches I get really good seats in the VIP area, and it isn't very crowded there. We'll have big seats to sit in and watch the game, and its enclosed, so we won't have to be outside in the cold." Lily nodded.

It wasn't much longer before they went to the Magpies stadium; Ted was in the habit of getting there early to secure good seats, and with three of them attending the match, it meant quite a few seats together as he hoped Rowland and Mari would be next to them. Lily had wanted to go to Forescue's for an ice cream sundae first, but Ted told her there wasn't time, and ended up promising to take them tomorrow; he only hoped that Ginny wasn't too bothered about him returning two sugar-addled children.

He apparated to the stadium with Al in one hand and Lily in the other. As they entered, Al begged them to stop at a stand selling programmes and merchandise. He took out his wallet, but Ted stopped him.

"What do you want? A programme and a scarf?" Al nodded. "How about you, Lily? Would you like the same to take home with you?"

"Yes please, Teddy."

"Two scarves and two programmes, please", he said to the salesman.

"Three galleons, four sickles." Ted handed over the money, and then gave Al and Lily their goodies.

"Thank you, Teddy, but mummy said - " Lily began.

"Never mind what mummy said about spending your money. This is my treat, okay?" Lily nodded. They walked through the stadium, with Ted showing the VIP pass that Wes always gave him, which ensured that he could move around the stadium pretty much as he pleased. As they walked into the VIP lounge, Ted heard an audible gasp come from Lily as she broke away from him and ran to a group of seats near the front.

"Can we sit here, Teddy?" she asked excitedly.

"I guess. If nobody else has taken these seats." They were in the second row, but would still give them all a good view of the match. "Are there any coats or anything on them?"

"No."

"Excellent. Make sure we have five seats, Lily bean - we need one each for Rowland and Mari. You remember Rowland, don't you?" Lily nodded.

"Of course she does", said the man himself, coming up behind them. "Who wouldn't remember me?"

"Hmm, someone who'd been fed a memory potion or been Obliviated?" grinned Mari. "How are you, Ted?"

"Good, good. Guys, this is Rowland's girlfriend Mari - Mari this is Al and Lily."

"Nice to meet you", she said. "So, are you both interested in Quidditch?"

"I like it quite a bit, but Lily doesn't", Al told her.

"She was still looking forward to today, though, weren't you?" said Ted. Lily nodded.

"I don't think its that bad. Mummy played Quidditch before James was born, and now she writes about it. My biggest brother James wants to play Quidditch for a proper team when he leaves school."

"Yeah, I think Ted's told me about that", Mari said to her. "I don't know James, but I've met your cousin Victoire before."

"I like Vic; she's my favourite big cousin. She's always really nice to me and Rosie and Roxie. Vic sits next to us when we all go to Grandma's for dinner during the holidays."

"I bet she does."

"How is Vic?" Rowland asked Ted. "Heard from her recently?"

"Yeah. I think she's working too hard. Her letters are all full of how much homework she's been assigned, or some test she's studying for. Aside from Duelling Club and her prefect rounds, she seems to spend the bulk of her spare time in the library." Selfishly, Ted felt that the amount of time Vic was spending there wasn't all bad; the more time she spent studying with Nat and her other classmates (he knew there were a couple of girls from Ravenclaw that she studied Ancient Runes and Arithmancy with) the less she was able to spend with Evan.

"Compared to the amount of studying we did, almost anyone else could be considered to be working too hard", laughed Rowland. The waitress came over, and they ordered drinks. Al - more like James than he would admit - tried to force Ted's hand by asking for a butterbeer, but in the end accepted his pumpkin juice with good grace.

As the match started, Ted sat in the middle, with Al and Rowland (who were watching the match) on one side and Lily and Mari (who were chatting away and not really paying attention to the play) on the other. The game didn't last too long compared to some of the ones that Ted had been to recently, which had gone on for more than three or even four hours, and he felt that an hour and a half was long enough that you felt you got your galleons worth (or at least those that actually paid for their tickets did) but short enough that you didn't get bored.

Wes had played well, scoring ten goals, though privately Ted thought that Katya - who had only let in seven goals to the twenty five conceded by the Kestrels Keeper - had done far more to win the match for the Magpies. Not that he would ever dream of telling Wes that his girlfriend had played a better match, though.

"That was amazing!" exclaimed Al as they walked out of the VIP area. They were heading for the Events Room, which was located at the other side of the stadium and would hold the party Wes had invited them all to.

"Yeah, it was a pretty good match", agreed Ted. "The best I've seen for a while, actually."

"Will mummy be here, Al?" Lily asked her brother.

"Nah, she's covering the Arrows match today. I think she said Wallburton would be here."

"He smells funny", Lily said in a loud whisper.

"Isn't he the one that has lots of pets?" said Ted, trying to remember which one of Ginny's colleagues Wallburton was. "His girlfriend works at the Magical Menagerie?" Al shrugged.

"Will we get to meet ALL the players?" he asked.

"All of them", Ted confirmed. "Do you want me to speak to Wes and find out if you can ask the team to sign your programme?"

"Wow? Could you?!"

"I could. So make sure you behave." Al promised fervently that he would, and knowing that she wouldn't be interested in autographs, told Lily that there would be lots of different types of food, and she would still get to meet lots of people. As she smiled, nodded and then returned to the conversation she'd been having with Mari, Ted made a mental note to thank Mari for being so good with Lily. He had worried a little that she wouldn't have as much fun as Al, even through she HAD asked to come along with them.

"Here we are", said Rowland as they reached the room where the party was to be held. They queued up in line behind about a dozen people, and Ted and Rowland searched for the invitations Wes had given them, and which were being checked by a burly security guard. They were almost at the top of the queue when Wes came along the corridor, followed by Katya.

"This lot are with us", Wes told the security guard, indicating the group surrounding Ted. The man nodded, and Ted, taking Lily by the hand and making sure Al stood in front of him, followed Wes and Katya into a large room that had (in Ted's opinion) been luridly decorated with heart-shaped balloons, pink confetti and several statues of small cupids.

"Its......interesting", said Mari lightly.

"Um, Wes?" Ted asked him if it would be possible for Al to meet the team and get a few autographs. He hated asking things like that of his friend, but knew that Wes was well aware Ted considered Al and Lily to be his surrogate brother and sister

"No problem. Actually, why don't we do it now before the food comes out and all everyone can think of is their dinner. Al - Ted says you want to meet everyone?" Al nodded happily, though as Wes said he could meet Katya properly in a bit and set off to introduce him to everyone else, Ted did see a slight nervousness mingled in with his excitement.

They stayed at the party for a few hours, giving them enough time for Al and Lily to stuff themselves full and for Ted to catch up with his friends and their girlfriends. Mari seemed to be a huge favourite of Lily's, and Al appeared to look up to Wes even more than he did Ted as they chatted away about the match, and about Quidditch generally.

"We should really get going", Ted said around five o'clock; it was starting to get to the point where families with children were leaving and the party looked about to turn into a wild drinking session for the team and their wives/girlfriends, husbands/boyfriends and friends.

"Look, Teddy, they're handing out cake!" Lily exclaimed, pointing at waiters that were handing out heart-shaped cupcakes to all of the children, both those leaving and those about to leave.

"You want to go and get one?" he asked. Lily nodded. "Okay. Al, you go over with your sister and get one each, alright?"

As Ted watched the two of them wander over to the nearest waiter, he turned to Mari.

"Thank you so, so much. You're really good with Lily, you know."

"Oh, that's nothing", she waved her hand dismissively. "I have younger sisters and cousins. No, we were chatting about cats, actually. I mentioned I was thinking about getting one and Lily was telling me all about her kitten."

"Well thank you anyway. She wanted to come, but I know Quidditch isn't really her thing."

"No problem", laughed Mari as Lily returned triumphantly with her cake.

The following morning after a breakfast of cereal and toast, and a trip to Fortescue's for triple chocolate sundaes for all three of them, they returned to Ted's flat and flooed back to Godric's Hollow.

"Mummy! Daddy! We're home!" Lily shouted as soon as they had all dusted themselves off.

"I thought I heard something down here", grinned Harry as he came into the room. Lily ran into his arms and hugged him tightly.

"Where's mummy?"

"She's upstairs having a bath. We're going over to Gramma's for Sunday dinner in a couple of hours. I hope you both behaved yourselves for Teddy."

"They were fine", he grinned.

"Dad, all of the Magpies players signed my programme!" exclaimed Al, digging it out of his overnight bag to show his father.

"Excellent. And I hope you said thank you to Teddy for arranging it for you." Al nodded. "Okay, you two run and put your things back upstairs and I'll go and get us some drinks."

"Peppermint tea, or do you need something stronger after watching those two?" Harry asked as Al and Lily ran off. Ted laughed.

"They were fine. They might be a little more hyper now, though - the last thing we did before coming over here was go for sundaes at Fortescue's."

"Its fine", grinned Harry.

"How was dinner?"

"Good. The restaurant was really busy, but Ginny liked it, and there was a band playing old jazz music in the corner, so all in all it was a good night out. And thank you so much for taking them."

"Its fine."

"Thinking about it, we should have got you something to say thank you. A box of chocolates or something.

"Teddy got three boxes of chocolate for Valentine's Day", Lily announced as she re-entered the room. Ted turned to Harry.

"Its been tradition for years now - I sent one each to Dom, Vic and Vic's friend Nat, and they each sent me one in return. We - Vic and I started it when we were younger - before we went to Hogwarts even - so that we could get something on Valentine's as well as the grown-ups." He didn't add that for some reason Vic's now came to mean something more to him than that; although Harry knew about Ted's feelings for Vic, Lily did not, and he didn't want her spilling the beans to the rest of the family.

"To be fair, though, you would take chocolate from virtually anybody, Ted", Harry pointed out.

"That's true, I guess. Listen, I should go - I promised Grams I would stop in for a while before we went to The Burrow." Harry nodded. Ted had apologised profusely for how he had behaved upon hearing that Narcissa had been to visit his grandmother, and explained that he just wanted to make sure that she was alright, but he still felt guilty and yet remained guarded about Narcissa's intentions (though he kept that private). Once again, Ted headed for a fireplace - followed by hugs and thanks from Lily and Al respectively - and flooed to his grandmother's house.

"Its a beautiful day", smiled Vic, gazing up at the sky as she and Evan walked hand-in-hand down to Hogsmeade on Valentine's Day. It was one of those late winter days in which Spring seemed to creep in, and fight for dominance. Although it was a little cold, the sun lying low and bright, the sky was only really one colour - blue.

"It is. And I'm spending it with the most beautiful girl at Hogwarts."

"Is there anywhere you want to go other than the Broomsticks? I need to go to Honeydukes, and quickly have a look in at Gladrags." Evan laughed.

"How in the name of Merlin can you need to go to Honeydukes after all that chocolate Ted sent you? There was enough there to last at least a month!"

"I eat more chocolate than you", Vic pointed out defensively. "And I like eating it while I'm studying. Just don't tell Madam Pince. So - is there anywhere you need to go?"

"Not really. I don't actually need anything. I might pick up some Sugar Quills in Honeydukes, though - and I told Felicia I would pick some up for her, too." Felicia was staying back to work on a training plan for the next week in the lead-up to the Hufflepuff match, and to make sure her homework was up-to-date to enable her to concentrate on the match over the next week. Evan's mention of picking something up for her reminded Vic that she had to pick up some fudges and toffees for James.

"Well this time next week it will all be over, and you can relax until the Quidditch final after Easter."

"I know. Feels strange, though, knowing that there's only two matches left. I wonder who will be Captain next year."

"Don't know." Don't care as long as it doesn't cause ructions between Dom and Louis. They had now reached the village, and Vic asked Evan where he wanted to go first.

"Honeydukes?" They stepped into the sweet shop, and Vic was instantly relieved that they had come here first; they were early, and therefore the shop had not yet become as busy as it would when the remaining students descended on the village. While Evan wandered over to the stall where the Sugar Quills were displayed, Vic looked to the toffees and fudges section. James and his friends had pooled their resources, and given Vic a few galleons to spend on sweets. As she contemplated the deluxe vanilla toffees and the extra-sticky toffees, she heard a voice behind her, calling her name.

"Rowland!" Vic exclaimed as she spun round to see him. She hugged him tightly and asked him what in the name of Circe he was doing there.

"Funnily enough, I'm buying chocolate." He held up a bag with 'Honeydukes' in gold lettering.

"Very amusing. Its just weird seeing someone from outside Hogwarts on one of our weekend visits."

"I forgot to buy Mari some chocolates for today - I didn't completely forget, I mean I have a good present for her, I just forgot to buy some chocolates to go with it and figured that the Hogsmeade branch would be quieter than the one in Diagon Alley."

"Except you didn't figure on half of Hogwarts being in the village today."

"As far as I remember, we didn't ever have a visit on a Sunday."

"Well today is Valentine's, and I suppose it doesn't really matter to the shops if we come on a Saturday or a Sunday if they are all open both days. Never mind that, though - how are you and Mari? I hope you did get her something good. No, that's not right. I hope you got her something amazing!"

"I did!" Rowland laughed. "And what did you get?"

"Well, as usual I got my box of chocolates from Ted - a box like that one." She pointed at the largest in the store. "I can't wait to get back later and get started on it. And Evan gave me a bottle of perfume. Its that kind in the really pretty shell-covered bottles the Prophet has been advertising recently."

"That's the kind I got Mari", Rowland admitted sheepishly. "I think that the company making it has been doing a good trade in it. I know I'm not the only person in the office that's bought some. And it is the kind she's been dropping hints about for weeks."

"And what do you have planned for the rest of the day?"

"I'm picking Mari up and we're going for a late lunch at her favourite restaurant. Then, who knows - maybe the Leaky or a fancy muggle bar for some drinks. How about you? I see Evan over there looking at the Sugar Quills." Vic turned round to see Evan still debating over which ones to buy.

"Nothing exciting. I need to go to Gladrags to check out new dress robes for Luna's wedding - it isn't for a few weeks so I don't need to buy anything today, but I want to see what they have - and then we're going to the Broomsticks for lunch."

"How very Hogwarts." They both laughed. "Not a fan of Madam Puddifoot's, then?"

"I make it a condition of accepting a date that we go nowhere near the place. So what have you been up to recently?"

"Nothing much, just working and spending time with Mari. I did go to the Magpies Valentine's Day party last night, though. I say last night, I didn't leave until about three o'clock this morning. Ted was there as well, actually, but he didn't stay long."

"Yeah, he mentioned in his last letter that Al and Lily were staying over last night. I know he feels guilty sometimes about how much Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny have done for him. He just wants to pay them back a little. And I know he loves spending time with Al and Lily. They're like a brother and sister to him."

"I guess. I wish you would have words with him, though."

"Ted?" Vic was alarmed. "Why - what's wrong? Is he alright? I mean, I know that he was really worried about Andromeda but maman wrote that she seems fine now, and Ted told me she'd finished the last of the medication the Healers gave her."

"Relax. Nothing has happened, its just - "

"Rowland? What are you doing here?" Evan came over and joined them, and Vic waited anxiously while Rowland explained what he was in Honeydukes for.

"Um, Rowland....you wanted me to have a word with Ted about something?"

"Oh, yeah, sorry. I just wanted you to give him a kick up the backside. Mari has tried setting him up with more than a couple lovely friends of hers - girls that most guys would be tripping over their robes to take out - and he won't budge on it. Wes even offered to set him up with one of the Magpies reserves, and turned it down. Its time he was out seeing other girls and got over what happened with Caro."

"He - he doesn't want to see anyone else?"

"Nope. Mari says if Ted doesn't watch out he'll end up alone like her Uncle Nigel, who was incredibly fussy about what girls he went out with and ended up missing out on ones that actually liked him. He just says that he and Caro went out for two years and he doesn't want to start up with another girl again in a hurry. He says he likes just being single, but he isn't taking advantage of it!"

"I'll pass on your message", Vic promised, trying to process the information. So, Ted wasn't interested in another relationship at present? To Vic, that confirmed she was right - he did see her as just a friend and was at a point in his life when he didn't want to be tied down to someone. Even her.

"You know he's really worried about you."

"Ted? Worried about me? Why?"

"He says you're working too hard......something about how your letters are always full of all the homework you have to do."

"Ted has a short memory regarding the homework assigned at Hogwarts. And he needs to remember that Hagrid barely assigned him any and that I'm doing seven subjects, not six", said Vic faultlessly. The truth was, writing about homework enabled her to feel like she was being 'Vic the best friend' rather than 'Vic the girl who wanted more from her best friend than he could give'.

"I should get going; I'm supposed to pick up Mari at midday, and its almost ten to."

"Tell Ted and Mari and everyone that I said 'hello', and I can't wait to see them all again at Easter - I really wish I could have spent more time with all of you at Christmas and New Year. As it was, I haven't seen Ted since Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny's party. I left the day after to spend the rest of the holidays at Nat's, and then Ted didn't make it to King's Cross in time because of what happened to Andromeda." She hugged him goodbye.

"I'll pass on your messages. The same from me to Nat, and your brother and sister. See you at Easter." He went out of the shop, waving as he turned and then disapparated.

"That was weird", laughed Evan.

"I know", smiled Vic, feeling guilty for the fact that she half-wished she had seen Ted, and not his friend. "Right, I better get back to choosing some of these toffees and fudges for James, and picking up something for myself."

After Honeydukes, they went to Gladrags where they bumped into Dom, Nat, and Dom's friend Leigh-Anne buying a mixture of necklaces and new robes. Vic selected a beautiful set of robes in a shade somewhere between yellow and gold (the invitation she had received from Luna indicated that guests were requested to include sun colours in their clothing) that were in the sale, and she carried them happily to the Broomsticks where she and Evan lunched on a lamb casserole, followed by apple pie and custard.

Once they had eaten, Evan asked shyly if Vic minded going for a walk. She shook her head, and then waved goodbye to the table where Nat and the rest of them were sitting with a couple of Hufflepuffs from Dom's year. Vic took Evan's hand and they left, going back outside into the sunshine, which to Vic seemed to have only got brighter when they'd been out of it. They walked to a quiet spot just off the path back up to Hogwarts, and sat down, Vic admiring the view she now had of the Black Lake.

"This is nice", she said, shielding her eyes from the sun as she turned to look at Evan.

"It is. I've always liked it here. And its nice, when you come from a busy town like I do, to be able to go somewhere else and feel like you're in the middle of nowhere. So.....I did have an ulterior motive in bringing you here. I wanted to talk to you about something."

"Oh?"

"Don't worry, its nothing bad. At least, I hope its nothing bad. Its about next year."

"Have you decided what you want to do after your NEWTs, then?" She knew that it had not been much later than this that Ted had applied to the DRCMC the year before. In fact, as Vic thought about it she was pretty sure his seventh year careers meeting with Professor Longbottom must be in the next week or so.

"I have. I think you know that when Estella was home for Christmas she made it pretty clear that she wanted me to do what she did, and travel for a bit. She even offered to put me up in her flat in Australia."

"And so you've decided to go?"

"Yeah. I mean, I really don't know what I want to do with my life. At least this way I'll be able to see some of the world while I figure it out. And I want you to come with me."

"What? But Evan, you seem to forget I still have a year of school to go - I have to sit for my NEWTs......"

"I know. And you will. I won't leave until you come back here in September. Aside from wanting to spend as much time as I can with you before I go, my mother would never forgive me if I left Hogwarts and then took off straight away. I'll be gone until Christmas - we wouldn't see each other until then anyway - and then once you've finished, you can come out to wherever I am and join me."

"Wow." Vic was stunned. "I don't know what I was expecting when you said you had something to talk to me about, but it certainly wasn't that."

"I don't expect you to say anything now. I want you to think it over properly, and then let me know. I really, really do hope you'll come. I really do love you, Vic."

Vic promised to think about it, but she couldn't see beyond the lengthy separation from her family that would be involved in going. She had always been with them - and at school before Dom and Louis had joined her at the start of her third year there had always been Ted to turn to. A day had not gone by in Vic's life without her seeing either a member of her family or Ted.

That evening after dinner, when Felicia was holding a meeting of the Quidditch Team to discuss their training schedule before their match the following Saturday, Vic was up in her dorm, talking over everything Evan had said with Nat under cover of a Muffliato charm.

"Evan told me to think about it, and not to give an answer straight away. When I asked him about it on the way back up, he said that it was to make sure that I really wanted it as much as he did. He said that he didn't want me to regret going."

"Wow. That is.....big. Have you thought about anything else since he asked you?" Vic shook her head. "What is it that worries you most about going?"

"I've never been away from the family before - not really - and getting a portkey to and from Australia takes time. It would take a few days for everything to go through if I wanted to come back. It just seems so far away."

"The other side of the world does have a tendency to feel far away. Anything else, other than missing everyone?"

"Well, it would just be me and Evan. And his sister, I suppose, if we stayed in Australia. I know this is sort of on the same subject of missing the family, but.....Ted wouldn't be there. And it would take much longer for his letters to reach me. Might as well post them through the muggle postal system."

"I don't think it would take quite that long. But that's what this is about, isn't it? Ted." Vic nodded glumly.

"I know he doesn't want to be anything more than my friend - aside from anything else Rowland said that Ted isn't interested in a relationship right now - but that doesn't stop the way I feel about Ted. Maybe...maybe that's an argument for going, though. Maybe if I went to the other side of the world I could get away from how I feel about my best friend. But that wouldn't be fair to Evan, to go for that reason."

"No, it wouldn't. It would be running away. But I think, Vic, that the time has come to make a choice."

"A choice? Between Evan and Ted?" Nat nodded.

"You said that maybe your feelings for Ted are a reason to go to the other side of the world with Evan."

"Yeah?"

"Maybe they are a reason you shouldn't. It wasn't Evan, your boyfriend, that you were able to smell in the Amortentia; it was Ted. I know you say you suppose you love Evan, but do you? Do you love him enough to spend if not the rest of your life then at least the next few years with him? Ted may or may not have feelings for you - "

"He doesn't", said Vic sadly.

"Whatever. I think Evan's offer gives you a chance to think seriously about what you want. Evan, or Ted? Or even neither. You seem so sure that Ted doesn't have feelings for you, and yet you haven't even told him how you feel. And whether you do tell him or don't, you have to decide if it is fair to be with Evan when you obviously feel so much for Ted."

"What do you think I should do?"

"I think you should think about everything - all of it. Not just Evan's offer of travelling. Think about whether you want to be with him at all. I won't give you any advice - it should be your decision alone - beyond that you should think about it, and think carefully."

"I will." Nat muttered something about returning a book to the library, leaving Vic alone in their dorm. Vic knew that Nat was right. The time had come to make a decision on the future. She just didn't know where to begin coming to it.



Ooooh, cliffhanger!!! Will Vic choose Evan or Ted? Neither or both?



Feedback @............

http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?t=127799


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  #48  
Old March 9th, 2012, 11:14 pm
MissGryffindor  Female.gif MissGryffindor is offline
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Re: Falling

Thank you so much to Urania, blueowl and marauderfan for their fabulous feedback! Enjoy.......


Chapter 48



Vic and Nat stood with Persephone and a couple of Dom's friends in the Gryffindor stands surrounded by rain-repelling and heating charms as they awaited the arrival of the teams. Looking up at the dark grey clouds that seemed to want to provide as much rain as possible, she fervently hoped that the match would be a short one - one roughly the same length as the Magpies one she had been to just after Christmas would be ideal. As the Quidditch Commentator Julianna Jessop entered the teachers' box, it seemed like proceedings would soon get underway.

"Good morning, and welcome to the fourth Quidditch match of the season as Hufflepuff face Gryffindor! And now here come the teams!" As Julianna's voice echoed around the stadium, the teams came out of the changing rooms and flew into view.

"Hufflepuff's Captain and Seeker Benjamin Jones has gone for a tough line-up today, and joining him are Fawcett, Smith, Waterboys, Cattermole, Robinson and Bowen. For Gryffindor, Jones's opposite number as Captain and Seeker, Felicia Thornton keeps the same team from November's victory over Slytherin - Summersby, Thacker, Weasley, Kirkwood, Weasley and Carmichael."

The bludgers, quaffle and snitch were released, and the blow of a whistle indicated the game was underway. It started quite well for Gryffindor, with Dom scoring three goals inside the first five minutes, with only a Waterboys penalty taking points back for Hufflepuff.

"We're not doing too badly", Nat said to Vic.

"Just as long as it doesn't go on forever. I'm already looking forward to getting back up to the common room and standing in front of a nice warm fire."

"If Eddie wasn't on the team, I don't think I would come to matches at all", said Persephone. "Quidditch has never really been my thing. Just don't tell Felicia that!" The girls laughed.

"And Smith drops the quaffle after being hit by a bludger from Weasley, and its caught by Thacker who dodges Chasers Fawcett and Waterboys, a bludger and Beater Cattermole to score yet another goal for Gryffindor. They now lead by ninety points to ten. Top scorer of the match is Dominique Weasley with five goals. Seekers Thornton and Jones are both still looking for the snitch, which has yet to put in an appearance. Will Jones find and catch it to save Hufflepuff? Or will Thornton lead her team in a rout?"

Unfortunately for Vic, it took another hour for the snitch to make an appearance. By that point, it made no difference that Jones caught it; Gryffindor had scored thirty goals to Hufflepuffs eleven and Jones was obviously well aware that his team was never going to catch up enough to make delaying the capture of the snitch worthwhile. Vic cheered loudly as the Gryffindor team formed a huddle, feeling proud of the fact that her sister had completely annihilated the Hufflepuff team, scoring half of the Gryffindor goals. Evan had also played extremely well, and Vic was in a chirpy mood as she, Nat and Persephone went down to wait for the team to come back out of the changing rooms.

"Why is it taking so long?" Nat asked after all of the Hufflepuff team had left to go back to the castle, and none of the Gryffindors had emerged.

"Felicia is probably having a post-mortem."

"But they played really well."

"Yeah, but she'll be beating herself up for not catching the snitch."

As Persephone and Nat chatted away, Vic allowed her thoughts to drift to Evan. For the past six nights - every one since Valentine's Day - she had gone to bed thinking only of what to do about Evan. On Wednesday, she had told him that she wanted to discuss his travelling suggestion with her family when she went home at Easter, but there still remained the advice of sorts that she had been given by Nat to choose between Evan and Ted. That too she had decided to defer; at home for Easter she would discuss it with Aunt Ginny, the only person she knew that would be able to offer advice from their own personal experience. In spite of having other boyfriends, Vic knew that her aunt had always wanted only one man - Uncle Harry.

"What in the name of Merlin?!" Vic turned to see Dom walking - well, storming, really - away from James and then out of the common room. The party had been underway for about an hour or so, and it was unlikely to end soon. With two victories out of two and an improved goal difference, Gryffindor were in contention for the Quidditch Cup going into their final match with Ravenclaw after Easter.

"James?" Vic called her cousin over. "What's wrong with Dom?"

"She asked to borrow.....something......." he glanced at Evan. "She was looking for Louis."

"So you let her use that map of yours, yes, keep going", said Vic impatiently.

"Well, I opened it up for her and she was looking for his name and then she started shouting and ran off." Vic glanced around the common room and saw no trace of Louis. Nor was there any of Genie McLaggen. She had a horrible feeling that Dom had just found out about them.

"James, I need you to open it up again. Please - there's a chance that Dom - I need to see what she saw." She glanced nervously at Nat as James muttered the password under his breath.

"Wow! That's amazing!" Evan exclaimed. "Look, Vic - you can see - "

"The names of everyone in the castle, yes I know. Come on, Louis where are you?" She found his name in a deserted classroom on a sixth floor corridor not far away from the staircase nearest to Gryffindor Tower. Right next to it was that of Genie McLaggen.

"Just as I thought", she muttered. "I better go and make sure Dom is alright."

"Vic? What's going on?" Evan called after her.

"Nat will explain! I won't be long - or at least I hope I won't."

Vic ran out of the common room and down the stairs, before turning right. She could hear Dom shouting as she pelted along the corridor. Maybe she should have told Louis that she knew, and advised him to tell Dom. Vic hated that this was how their sister had found out.

"Guys, you need to stop this", panted Vic as she reached the classroom out of breath.

"What is this?" Louis demanded. He was stood over beside the window, holding Genie's hand as Dom looked ready to hex them.

"How long has this been going on?" Dom yelled. "How long have you been lying to us Louis? To your family! I can see why you did - after what she said to Ted - was it her idea not to say anything?"

"I know you don't like Genie, Dom, but could you at least call her by her name? Why do you have to be like this? You were the same with Caro when she was going out with Ted."

"Caro was a psycho! And I have yet to see evidence that this one isn't completely unlike her."

"That is enough!" Vic intervened, standing between Dom and Louis. "Dom, I know this is not the way you should have found out about what is going on, but you have to accept that Genie is our brother's girlfriend now."

"You talk like you're on his side."

"I'm not on anyone's side. I just want the two of you to get along with each other as well as you do with me."

"And what's that stuff about how this isn't the way I should have found out? Did he tell you and not me? Did you have long talks about how to break it to poor little Dom?!"

"Louis didn't tell me either. I knew, though. I have known since just before Christmas."

"You didn't tell me that", Louis spoke up in surprise. "When?"

"The day Dom and I went Christmas shopping in Diagon Alley and ended up going for lunch with Ted, he and I were walking back to his flat and we saw you in Fortescue's. It was actually Ted that noticed you first, I think. I don't really remember. I figured if you wanted to talk to me about it, you would."

"You and Ted have known since Christmas and neither of you said anything to me?" said Dom. "That makes you just as bad as him!"

"This is why I was worried", Vic tried to explain. "I knew this was how you would react and I thought maybe it would be over and done with before you found out."

"This is unbelievable", laughed Dom bitterly. "Vic, not telling someone something for their own good, or so you don't hurt them doesn't work. It just makes everything worse when they do find out. You have both lied to me, and whether that was intentional or not doesn't really make much of a difference. The truth might hurt but its still better to..."

Dom turned round and walked out of the room, leaving Vic with Louis and Genie.

"She just needs time to calm down. I'll talk to her later", said Vic. "Louis, I know I should have said something."

"Its fine. I - its not like I volunteered information either. I just wish Dom wouldn't fly off the handle like that."

"Its the Weasley temper coming out in her", Vic attempted to joke. She turned to Genie. "I know that you and I may not have got on in the past, and we don't really know each other that well, but as long as you are my brother's girlfriend, I will not behave towards you like Dom did today."

"Thank you", said Genie.

"I should go too; I left Evan at the party without much of an explanation. And I think after that a stiff firewhiskey wouldn't be too much to ask! I'll see you later."

"Bye, Vic."

"Bye."

Vic left the classroom, closing the door behind her and started walking back to the common room. She had always known that Dom would react like this, but she hadn't done anything to change it. Dom was probably up in her dorm right now in a funk, all those goals she had scored that morning a distant memory. Those weeks during the last summer holidays when her brother and sister had not been speaking to each other had been truly awful, and Vic dreaded a repeat of it.

"Hippogriffs", Vic said softly to the fat lady as she reached the entrance to Gryffindor Tower, and stepped into the common room to find that the party was still in full swing. It looked like someone had gone for fresh supplies as the butterbeer and cakes had been replenished. Vic, however, didn't feel hungry and went straight over to where Nat and Evan were with his friends.

"I'm back", she said, trying to smile. "I take it Dom is up in her dorm?"

"Leigh Anne and Emme are up there with her now. Hopefully they can calm Dom down and cheer her up. What happened?"

"There was a lot of shouting, but luckily no hexing. Dom accused both Louis and I of lying to her about him and Genie, and then stormed out. I don't think I'm exactly her favourite person right now."

"So, exactly how long have they been going out then?" Felicia enquired.

"I don't know", Vic told her. "I could really do with a firewhiskey right now."

"I think I could too. Let's go and get one." Nat stood up and she and Vic went over to the table where the drinks were guarded by Alexandra, the seventh year prefect tasked with making sure that the younger students didn't get their hands on any firewhiskey.

"Thanks", said Vic as Alexandra handed her and Nat their drinks. She turned to Nat, and asked how Dom had been on her return to the common room.

"Not in the best of moods, it has to be said. She just muttered something about people not telling her things for her own good, and how you and Louis lied to her."

"Are you alright?" Evan asked coming over to them.

"Not good. But thanks for asking."

"Why didn't you tell me about Louis? I wouldn't have said anything."

"I don't know", said Vic honestly. So much had happened in the Christmas holidays that she had not shared with Evan.

"Its weird. I thought we told each other everything. Hmm. I'm feeling a bit hungry and its not dinnertime yet. Do you fancy going down to the kitchens for something?"

"I'm not hungry. I think - would you like to go for a walk?"

"Yeah, sure. I'll run upstairs and get us some cloaks; its stopped raining but its still quite cold." Vic nodded. She remained where she was, silent, until he returned, and then said to Nat that they wouldn't be long.

Vic only half-listened to Evan chatting away about the match as they walked down the stairs and outside. All she could think about was what Dom and Evan had said, and their voices rang out through her head.

"Vic, not telling someone something for their own good, or so you don't hurt them doesn't work. It just makes everything worse when they do find out. You have both lied to me, and whether that was intentional or not doesn't really make much of a difference. The truth might hurt but its still better to..."

"Its weird. I thought we told each other everything."

".......always thought that mermaids might take over the world."

"Yeah", said Vic flatly. "What?"

"Vic, you haven't heard a word I've said", laughed Evan. "Are you still worried about Dom?"

"That's part of it. Oh, Evan - the look on her face when she said I'd lied to her. My own sister! Dom and I aren't best friends and from time to time we disagree, but she's my sister and we're actually a lot closer than some people might think."

"Its starting to get dark. Do you want to go back inside?"

"No. Not yet. I want to talk to you about something. To be honest I should probably have done so ages ago, but I - I just couldn't."

"Vic, love?"

"I can't come travelling with you", she said quickly.

"Oh. I thought you were going to wait until Easter to decide, and talk it over with your family?"

"I wanted to buy myself some time. I don't think I ever really thought seriously about it. I'm so, so sorry. I just can't do it."

"Is that it?" He looked devastated, and Vic wanted to hug him and apologise, but she knew that there was more she had to say and she had to say it now, before her Gryffindor bravery deserted her.

"No. Its not. I - I don't think we should see each other anymore."

"Vic, I love you."

"Evan, I don't - I think that I was more in love with the idea of loving you than - that maybe I felt I should say it. Besides, if I was in love with you then I wouldn't...."

"You wouldn't have what? Go on!" he demanded angrily. She hadn't seen this side of him before, and he was obviously hurting. Vic felt awful; she had broken up with Hem, but given that she'd just caught him cheating on her it had been much easier than this.

"I kissed someone else", she admitted. "Someone that I shouldn't have kissed and who did not feel the same as I did. I didn't mean to start falling for him. It just happened and now I can't stop, and I lied to you the other week. I didn't smell you in the Amortentia. It was him."

"Wow", said Evan softly. "That's a lot to take in at once. What made you tell me today?"

"What you said about us telling each other everything. What Dom said about me being a liar. I figured that the truth hurts, but maybe in this case it was the best option."

"So I have engineered my own downfall, then." Evan laughed bitterly. "I suppose I should be grateful that you told me the truth." Evan turned to walk away.

"Who is he?" Evan glanced back at Vic.

"Does it matter?"

"No, I don't suppose it does. I'm going back inside." Vic nodded. She stayed outside, staring at the lake until it was dark. Vic knew that she had done the right thing. It would not have been fair to her or to Evan to continue their relationship given the feelings she seemed to have for Ted. Even if Ted didn't feel the same way she did, it was dishonest to be with Evan and constantly thinking of Ted.

The truth was, Evan was an amazing guy - smart, funny, easy-going and very good-looking. They had enough common interests that they had something to talk about, but not so many that they didn't spend time with people outside their relationship. It was the perfect balance. Evan was pretty much the perfect guy. He just wasn't Ted. And Vic knew he never would be.

Vic eventually went back into the castle, forcing a smile across her face as she passed Hagrid, who asked her to pass on his congratulations to Dom and Louis for their performances. It seemed unreal to Vic that a Quidditch match had actually taken place that day; that something other than rows and revelations had taken place. When she reached the top of the stairs that led to Gryffindor Tower, Nat was sitting on the top step, waiting for her.

"So, you made a decision then."

"I did. And I think it was the right one."

"Me too".

"That said, I wish I had James's invisibility cloak so that I didn't have to deal with going through the common room and have Evan's friends gawping at me."

"He went upstairs to his dorm room." Vic was relieved.

"I know I'm going to have to face him tomorrow, but I think I'll be able to deal with it better then. Or at least I hope I will."

On Monday morning, Ted found himself running very late for work. He had made the fatal mistake of switching off his alarm and turning over to go back to sleep. Jumping up at ten past eight (almost half an hour after he should have been up) Ted quickly leapt into the shower. Afterwards, he just had time to make himself a quick cup of peppermint tea and a couple of slices of toast. While he grabbed the notes he had made over the weekend on the wording of the laws he and Isadora were writing, he looked up to see Vic's owl Hibou tapping on the window.

"Hey, Hib", muttered Ted as he let the owl in. "What great timing you have." He took the letter in Hibou's beak, and then ran into the kitchen and grabbed a few owl treats for Hibou, leaving them on a small side table next to the sofa.

"Well, I have to go to work. You stay here and chill out, and I'll have something for you to take back to Vic when I get home." He could always write a quick letter back to her during his lunch hour.

Ted flooed to the Ministry, and was in the elevator going to the DRCMC when he started to tear open the letter and read through what Vic had written, almost missing his floor as he became engrossed in it.

Ted,

How are you? I loved your last letter! You need to get more jokes off Willa's husband - the ones you sent had Nat and I laughing for what felt like hours. And you sent them at a time when I could really use them, so thank you. Are you sure you didn't take Divination?!

Do you remember when we were little and everything seemed so simple? Makes you wonder why everyone is always in such a hurry to grow up. Back then the worst Dom and Louis did to each other was hair pulling and toy stealing.

Dom knows.

She was looking for Louis at the Quidditch party yesterday and when she couldn't find him she asked James to open up that map of his, the one you used to have. Of course, he was off in some deserted classroom with Genie. Dom went mental - she's even mad at me because I knew about it and didn't tell her. Its Sunday morning now, and I still haven't seen her since she stormed off. Leigh Anne and Emme said I should give her a day or two. Merlin alone knows how long Louis will have to go before she speaks to him again.

I don't know what to do - if I write home saying that Dom and Louis are rowing again, I'll be asked what about and they'll both be mad at me for acting like Uncle Percy would. If I don't write home, they'll quite possibly go home at Easter not speaking, and I'll still be asked what they are arguing about and how long for. What do you think??????

I should also say that since I wrote to you last, Evan and I have split up. He asked me to go travelling with him after Hogwarts and Nat pointed out that what he was asking was for me to spend the next few years (at least) with him. It got me thinking that he is more invested in our relationship than I am. Besides, I would have been horribly homesick if I had left the family. So I told him that we probably shouldn't see each other anymore. I'll let maman know when I write to her later.

Let me know everything that is happening with you, and please, please, please send some more jokes!!! I really need them right now.

Love,

Vic


His insides started to dance as he read the words "I should also say that since I wrote to you last, Evan and I have split up" and a broad grin grew across his face. There was part of Ted that felt quite guilty for being so happy that Vic and Evan were no longer together, but he reasoned that she appeared to have ended it, and there was that little voice in his head that reminded him he wanted Vic to be his girlfriend. His, and no one else's.

Unable to shift the broad grin, and good mood, Ted drew some fairly strange looks as he made his way to his desk.

"Well, you're in a good mood for a Monday", commented Isadora as he sat down; he noted that she appeared to be on at least her second cup of coffee.

"I received some interesting news this morning", Ted informed her with a grin.

"Rita Skeeter has been hauled off to Azkaban and there's a guarantee that any release warrant will go missing?" Ted laughed at the venom in her voice; in spite of the article that had recently been published in The Quibbler, Rita Skeeter had continued her war of words and published another two articles on the laws Ted and Isadora were trying to push though. She was currently Isadora's least favourite person, and if there was one thing Ted had come to learn about her since starting at the DRCMC it was that she didn't hold grudges. Rita Skeeter, however, was proving to be the exception.

"No, but that would be interesting. Vic dumped her boyfriend."

"And?"

"And....they're no longer going out, so that's one less barrier to us getting together."

"You going to write back to her?"

"Of course. I write to her at least twice a week."

"I mean, are you going to tell her that you like her?"

"No, I decided ages ago I was always going to do that in person. Apologies in advance, but I'm going to be in a really good mood today. Probably all day."

"I think I'll just about manage to bear it", she laughed.

"I did get some work done over the weekend as well. The L. E. A. is pretty much ready to go, if you can look over it later. Its this Friday its up for the Wizengamot vote, isn't it?" Isadora nodded. The L. E. A. was the Lycanthropy Employment Act; if passed it would prevent employers from sacking or refusing to hire someone because they were, or became, a werewolf. So far, they had succeeded in passing a law that reversed the legislation Dolores Umbridge had brought into force just before the war. The L. E. A would be their first attempt at breaking new ground.

They worked hard through the morning, and Ted couldn't believe how quickly lunch came around. Still smiling in spite of all the work he and Isadora had managed to get through, his thoughts were so focused on Vic that it took him a few seconds extra to realise that Harry was in the elevator with him.

"Sorry", he apologised.

"No problem. You working so hard that you don't even have time to recognise anyone?"

"Actually I wasn't thinking about work." The grin on his face grew bigger. "Vic broke up with Evan." Harry sighed.

"Ted - I know you've been hoping for this for a while, but don't get your hopes up too high. Just because - "

"I know, I know. Just because she broke up with him doesn't mean that she's going to owl me and ask if I want to go out with her straight away."

"Exactly. Besides, I thought you wanted to talk to her about everything in person."

"I do", he assured Harry. "And I'll wait - for Easter, Summer - how ever long it takes." Ted just hoped it wouldn't take forever.

"Your mentioning Vic reminded me - I had an owl from Ginny warning me not to be late home because she bumped into Fleur in Diagon Alley and invited her and Bill over for dinner."

"That'll be good." Ted realised he was going to have to talk a lot about his work to explain away been so chirpy on a Monday to someone as perceptive as Ginny, particularly when Vic's break-up was mentioned. Presumably Vic had written to her mother around the same time as the one she'd sent to him; she usually received a letter from her parents on a Sunday and sent one back the same day with the family owl.

"Oh - this is me. I'm off for lunch. See you tonight."

"Bye."

Ted stepped off the elevator and walked along to the cafeteria area. He spotted Rowland and Mari instantly, waving at them as he went to pay for his sandwiches and tea.

"Sorry I'm later than usual; we've got the L. E. A up before the Wizengamot at the end of the week, and its pretty hectic at the moment. But in a good way; I can't wait to sit in there and watch the vote."

"Its fine", shrugged Rowland. "Mari has news."

"Oh?" Ted turned to her, and she laughed.

"Its not very exciting news, just that I've decided for sure that I'm going to get a cat. I figured I'd go to the Magical Menagerie on Saturday morning and pick one up."

"Good for you."

"Do you have any news?" Rowland asked.

"I had a letter from Vic. Dom found out that Louis is going out with that Genie girl that she hates and went mental."

"Ouch", winced Rowland. He turned to Mari. "Dom's got a temper on her."

"Dom is Victoire's little sister, isn't she?"

"Yep", nodded Ted. "Louis is her twin. And in spite of everything she's got going on at the moment, Vic is worried sick about it. Dom's even mad at her because Vic and I saw Louis and Genie that time at Christmas and didn't say anything about it."

"Family drama - aren't you glad you're an only child?" Mari said to them both.

"I've never really seen myself as one", shrugged Ted as Rowland said he agreed with Mari.

"What do you mean about everything Vic's got going on at the moment?" asked Mari.

"She's taking seven NEWTs", said Ted. "And then there's prefect duties, Duelling Club, making sure that James behaves himself most of the time - I'm only surprised that she didn't break up with Evan sooner. I don't know how she managed to - "

"Vic's broken up with Evan", smirked Rowland. "So that's why you're in such a good mood."

"I told you, I'm excited about getting the L. E. A passed. Laws like that mean a lot to me because of what my father went through." Which was actually tue.

"Are you coming to the Leaky tonight? Mari and I are going - Wes can't make it but Hem and Matt should be there."

"Can't; I might have some work to take home, and I bumped into Harry on the way down and he says Bill and Fleur will be over for dinner too. It'll be rude if I left early to go meet you guys." Added to that, the less time I spend around Hem the better.

"You couldn't come last Thursday or on Saturday either. You know what they say, all work and no play makes Tedward an even duller - "

"Don't call me Tedward." He tried to glare, but his good mood prevented him from following it through completely.

"Is it Hem? I know you're not overly keen on the guy......"

"Yes and no. I'm not really interested in hanging out with him outside of what I do at St. Mungo's."

"Well, he'll be interested in hearing Vic and Evan have split up anyway." He turned to Mari and explained that Hem and Vic had gone out for a few months during Hem's last year at Hogwarts. "And he mentioned on Saturday that he thought he'd really screwed things up and wanted a second chance with her."

"Well, he isn't going to get one", said Ted firmly. "And I'd appreciate it if no one mentioned to him that Vic and Evan have split up."

Ted knew that he sounded slightly possessive of Vic, but the best friend in him wanted to protect her, and part of that was making sure the ex-boyfriend that had hurt her didn't have a chance to do the same all over again. Besides, as far as he could remember, Hem had mentioned he was seeing someone from the hospital. It would be just like the last time.

"You're not on about that again are you?" Rowland groaned. "It was a mistake, and you know what Ava is like."

"What am I missing?" Mari asked.

"Actually, Mari - you're a girl, you'd be a good sounding board on this. Vic and Hem broke up when she walked in on him kissing someone else. Fair enough, this girl had set her sights on Hem, but he fell for it. Would you be willing to let him anywhere near your best friend again if he'd done that to her?"

"Probably not." She turned to Rowland. "Sorry. I agree with Ted on this one." Ted grinned widely, and Rowland threw a chunk of bread at him in reply.

Bearing Harry's mention of Ginny's warning about being late in mind, Ted made sure he finished work promptly at half past five, and went straight to Godric's Hollow. In the end, he hadn't needed to take any work away with him to complete at home, but there was still a large pile waiting for him when he returned the next morning.

As Ted walked into the kitchen, he saw that Bill and Fleur had already arrived.

"Teddy! Eeet is so good to see you!" Fleur exclaimed as she hugged him. "Ginny 'as been telling us about ze new laws zat you 'ave been working on."

"Yeah, we've started trying to get them through. Thankfully Hermione swore ages ago that she would vote for everything we tried to pass, so there's no chance of us having to go through the embarrassment of everyone voting against it", said Ted. "How are you? Any news, or.......anything?"

"I see Vic's written to you as well, then?" Bill grinned.

"Yeah. Yeah, she did", he admitted.

"He was a good kid", said Bill.

"Zey were so sweet together", sighed Fleur. Ted started to feel a bit guilty about how upbeat he'd felt about Vic and Evan splitting up; he hadn't realised the extent to which Bill and Fleur had taken to Evan, trusted him with Vic.

"Oh well, if something isn't meant to be, it isn't meant to be", said Ginny as she handed Ted a mug of peppermint tea. "Victoire is only sixteen, there's no point in working too hard at something when there's no future in it. Harry should be back soon, and then we'll eat. Steak Pie again, I'm afraid, Ted."

"That's fine by me. I'm starting to get as attached to your Steak Pie as Al is." Ginny laughed.

"Do you want to go and shout him down for me? Lily isn't here, I'm afraid; she's round at a friend's for dinner."

Ted went through to the hallway, and instead of shouting up the staircase, walked up it and knocked on the door with a sign that read 'Albus'.

"Come in", said a voice. Ted walked in to see Al sitting uncomfortably at a desk that a set of papers (presumably his homework) lay on.

"Its only me", he chuckled. "Mucking about instead of doing your homework?"

"Something like that. Is dad home?"

"No, he's not here yet. Bill and Fleur are here, though. Your mum asked me to come and get you." They walked downstairs, chatting about Al's desperation to get to September and be able to go to Hogwarts.

"Most of the other kids in my class are going to the big high school a few towns over, and its all they talk about. There aren't many other wizarding families near here, so - "

"Its like they can all talk about what they're doing after the summer and you can't?"

"Yeah."

"Well, just try and think about after the summer and all the fun you'll have at Hogwarts."

"I guess."

When they got downstairs, Harry had returned and Ginny was starting to serve dinner.

After they had eaten, Bill and Fleur disapparated to Shell Cottage not long after they'd eaten pudding and had some tea and coffee. Ted stayed behind, however, helping Ginny clear up while Harry did battle with Al over the completion of his homework.

"You're in a good mood", Ginny commented idly as she put away the cups she had cleaned after their tea and coffee.

"L. E. A is up in the Wizengamot this week", grinned Ted, noting the mischievous glint in Ginny's eyes. "I'm really excited about getting it passed. Got a really good feeling about it. Luckily the vote is on Friday morning; I've got my St. Mungo's group in the afternoon. Hopefully I'll be able to take them all some good news."

"Hmm. You sure that's the only thing that's got you in such a good mood on a Monday?"

"Yeah. I am." He hastily changed the subject. "Al really is looking forward to going to Hogwarts, isn't he? It'll be weird after the summer, when its just you and Harry and Lily. The house will feel really empty when I come over."

"Lily's the easiest of the three of them to cope with", said Ginny, accepting his change of subject, but looking at him with a look that said she really wasn't fooled. "Well, that's all the tidying up done."

"I should really get going. I need to be up early in the morning. Everything's really hectic this week and I almost over-slept - well, I went back to sleep after my alarm went off this morning. Was almost late. I should go and say goodbye to Al and Harry. I'm gutted I missed Lily bean, though."

"I'll tell her you were asking after her", grinned Ginny.

Ted went through to the sitting room and said goodbye to Al and Harry, promising he would be over again on Wednesday, before flooing home as he prayed to Merlin that Ginny hadn't just figured out just how much he liked Vic.





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Last edited by MissGryffindor; March 11th, 2012 at 12:09 pm.
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Old March 18th, 2012, 1:04 am
MissGryffindor  Female.gif MissGryffindor is offline
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Re: Falling

Big thanks to my fab feedbackers Urania, blueowl, nevillesgal and marauderfan!

Enjoy!!


Chapter 49



Ted sat nervously next to Isadora in the Wizengamot gallery as the Court assembled for their scheduled vote. Glancing at his watch, he saw that it was five to eleven; just a few more minutes to go until they would decide whether or not to pass the law he and Isadora had been working towards for months.

"Nervous?" she whispered to him. Ted nodded. He was also grateful that only Ministry employees were premitted to attend - this meant that there was no Rita Skeeter in the room.

"At least we know we've got one vote for sure", Ted muttered, knowing that Hermione would never let him down here. But the rest......what if they'd lied when asked their voting intentions? What if they'd changed their minds?

"Looks like everyone is here", Isadora whispered to him. "That's not always the case; sometimes....for minor votes you find that some of the older or less committed members don't quite make it along. Look - there's the Minister coming in."

Ted watched as everyone else rose while Kingsley Shacklebolt and his Senior Under-Secretary Hestia Jones walked in and took their places at the front of the Court. The Minister made a short speech about the laws that they were to vote upon that day, details of which had already been sent to each member for consideration. Aside from the L. E. A. - which would be voted upon first - there were also laws extending the standard prison sentence for attacks on muggles, the approval of a series of new charms proposed by the Committee on Experimental Charms, and a new treaty with the Ministry of Magic in Turkmenistan over the issue of flying carpets to deal with.

Biting his lip as he glanced down, Ted caught Hermione's eye, and she smiled back at him, nodding. At least he had her support, and as the Court Scribe began to read out the L. E. A. Ted hoped that maybe Hermione's favourable vote would encourage some of the other members to vote the same way. Looking around the Court, Ted also noted the presence of Percy Weasley; he had forgotten that as a Senior Assistant in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, Percy also had a seat in the Wizengamot. But then, he reasoned, Percy had only recently been transferred to that position.

"The Lycanthropy Employment Act - offered by Isadora Cavendish, Beast Division of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures and supported by Head of said Division Rushton Roush - does state as follows: that no employer shall be able to refuse employment to any qualified wizard on the grounds that they have lycanthropy. Additionally, that same protection will be extended to those already in employment. That no qualified wizard in gainful employment can legally have said employment terminated on the grounds that they have lycanthropy." The Scribe continued, reading through the consequences for the employer in undertaking these actions contrary to the law, should it be passed, and the points that cut off as many loopholes as Ted and Isadora had been able to think of.

"And we shall now vote. All those in favour of the passage of this law, please raise your hand." Ted looked down nervously; he almost wanted to look away, so that if the majority voted 'no' he would be spared knowledge of it that little bit longer. He didn't though, and summoning all his Gryffindor bravery, Ted attempted to count all those voting for the L. E. A. Hermione, obviously; the Minister and his Senior Undersecretary; Percy; the group of witches and wizards that Isadora had muttered earlier were supporters of the Minister and would probably vote the same way as him.

"All those not in favour, please raise your hand." Ted grinned widely; there were fewer hands raised. They had won!

"Yes!" Ted exclaimed. He turned round and hugged Isadora, knowing that somewhere his father was watching this unfold, and feeling enormously proud of him.

"We should go back to the office", said Isadora as the Scribe started to read out the new proposals to amend sentencing guidelines for those found guilty of attacks on muggles. The Court was moving quickly on to the next item, and they had work to do before Ted left at lunchtime to go to St. Mungo's. The thought of going there that afternoon brought an even bigger smile to his face as he envisioned himself telling everyone there what had happened.

"This is such an amazing feeling", grinned Ted as they walked out of the courtroom door. "I can't quite - "

"Well?" said an impatient voice. "We didn't want to come in and distract everyone, but Hermione told us when the vote would be."

"Passed", Ted told Ron happily. "Majority."

"That's excellent!" Harry clapped Ted on the shoulder. "Well done. If only Remus were here - all I can say is that somewhere our fathers and Sirius are celebrating with a very large glass of firewhiskey each."

"Yeah, I hope so."

"Listen, we better go", said Ron. "We should be heading off to Cumbria to check out that lead."

"That we should. See you tonight for dinner, Ted? We'll get a takeaway from that muggle place you and Ginny like so much to celebrate. Ron and Hermione are coming over too."

"Cheers." Ted and Isadora walked along to the elevator and took it to level four. This was turning out to be an amazing week - first there had been the letter from Vic on Monday morning saying that she and Evan had separated, and now the L. E. A. had been passed. That reminded him - Ted had promised to owl Vic with details of the vote. The result would be in the Evening Prophet that night, but he had still said he would write about everything that had happened.

Still feeling on top of the world, Ted wandered into the support group at St. Mungo's with a big grin on his face. There were already a few people there, helping themselves to tea and coffee, but he waited until the start time, when everyone was assembled and sitting round, to start speaking.

"I have some good news today. This morning - about two and a half hours ago, actually - the Wizengamot passed the Lycanthropy Employment Act. That means that as of now, if you have a job you cannot be sacked because you are a werewolf; if you don't have one at the moment, then you can't be refused a job because you are a werewolf. I know it doesn't sound like much, but its a start."

Ted then moved onto talking about his idea to use some of their time towards communal potion making. He had come up with the idea in the shower the other morning of using part of the time and facilities laid aside for the support group for brewing Wolfsbane Potion that members of the group could then use. One or two of them had previously taken away his instructions and given their dubious potion making skills had been unsure about drinking the outcome of their efforts, which had set Ted to thinking about how to enable them to get more Wolfsbane without breaking the rules. Isadora had had to approve it, of course, but it hadn't taken long for that. And it had been agreed that the Trainee Healers could help as well.

"Is everyone up for that?" There seemed to be a general agreement - after all, where else would most of them get the potion from? - and they spent a while getting the details sorted out.

"Its all going quite well", Hem said to Ted when he was packing all his things up at the end of the afternoon.

"Yeah, its really been working out." Ted picked up some parchment and put it into his bag. "Did you need something? Only I've got to go pretty quickly - I'm going over to Harry's to celebrate the Wizengamot vote."

"You're not coming out tonight, then? There's a group of us from here going to the Leaky after, and I think Rowland said he and Mari would be there tonight as well."

"Nope, not out tonight. Just over at Harry's. Your girlfriend going as well? What is her name again, sorry?"

"Lydia."

"The redhead that can't stop smiling?" Ted searched his mind, trying to picture all of the Trainee Healers.

"Yeah, that's Lyd. She'll be there tonight as well."

"As lovely as I'm sure Lydia is, I really can't; I promised Harry, and there are some other people coming over as well."

"Another time then."

"Another time." Ted walked out of the room St. Mungo's allowed him to use, and down to the foyer from which he could apparate to Godric's Hollow. He felt like a complete hypocrite every time he turned down Hem's suggestion of going out for a drink. For all that he had told Rowland and Wes that it was the way Hem had trated Vic that made him distance himself from his former friend, there was also the fact that Ted still felt guilty for kissing Vic when she had been dating his then friend.

"Hello?" called Ted as he wandered in through the back door. He walked through into the sitting room to find Ginny and Hermione sitting on the sofa drinking butterbeer.

"Hi Ted. You want one?"

"Thanks." While Ginny went into the kitchen to get him a drink, Hermione asked him about the vote.

"I'm still on top of the world", he grinned. "And it was great to be able to go into my support group this afternoon and tell them what happened. I mean, alright its not much, but its a start. I can't wait to go into work on Monday and plan out what we're going to do next."

"It was like that for me when I was working on the legislation to improve living and working standards for house elves." The wistful tone in her voice told Ted that there was a small part of Hermione that would still like to be working on that sort of thing. "Now before I forget, you are coming to Ron's birthday party next weekend, aren't you? Its next Saturday evening at our house, and you'll remember to pass on our invitation to Andromeda?"

"I'll definitely be there, and I'll remind Grams."

"How is she getting on now?"

"Thanks." Ted took a bottle of butterbeer from Ginny and then turned to answer Hermione. "Good. I've stopped being so paranoid about her having a relapse or something. She seems to be fully recovered; its been a few weeks since she stopped taking the potions they gave her at St. Mungo's."

Ted had managed to get himself out of the habit of stopping in there each and every day on the slightest of pretexts - something that he thought his grandmother was quite relieved about as she hated him mollycoddling her - and they had called an unspoken truce on the issue of Narcissa, who had visited his grandmother on another couple of occasions in the past few weeks.

"There are a lot of birthdays and things coming up in the next few weeks", commented Ginny. "Andromeda, Lucy and George all have birthdays at the start of April - so do you, Ted - and there's Luna's wedding as well. Lily's really excited about being a bridesmaid. At the start of the year, she had to do a piece of writing for homework on what she was most looking forward to this year, and she wrote about being a bridesmaid at Luna's wedding."

"So, will Harry and Ron be back soon?" Ted asked, hoping to divert the discussion away from weddings.

"They shouldn't be too much longer." Ginny glanced at the clock above the fireplace. "I told them not to be late."

"Yeah, but telling those two something and them actually taking it in are two different things", snorted Hermione.

Ted went with Harry to pick up the food, and on the way back took advantage of the fact that it was just the two of them to ask about something that had been niggling at the back of his mind since the beginning of the week. Ever since Ginny had mentioned his good mood on Monday night, Ted had wondered just what she knew about his feelings for Vic.

"I know that you wouldn't say anything to her after I asked you not to, but I thought maybe she might have said something to you about it?" Ted asked nervously.

"Not really. I know that Victoire told her you and Evan didn't get on. She said that on Monday night; I think Ginny is under the impression that you were pleased they'd broken up because you didn't like Evan."

"Oh." There was an element of truth in that; Ted never had liked Evan, even if it had taken him a while to figure out just why that was the case.

"Have you heard much from Victoire since you got that letter from her at the beginning of the week?"

"Yeah, I've had a couple of letters since. I need to write to her tonight to tell her how the vote went. She'll read about it in the Evening Prophet, but given that the article will be written by Rita Skeeter......."

"You'd like her to have an account that involves the truth."

"Something like that." Ted laughed. "Its awful, I have my friends at work, and Rowland and Wes and their girlfriends all trying to set me up on a blind date."

"Thankfully I never had to deal with that - though there was a time when I was in sixth year that Hermione and I had a disturbing conversation in which she told me she'd overheard a gang of girls talking about how to drug me with a love potion."

"Scary."

"Very. You know, you could tell them that you like Vic. That would probably stop them." Ted snorted. "What?"

"Wes and Rowland have been teasing me about Vic since we were about fifteen. If I told them....I wouldn't live it down. Obviously if we ever get together, I will have to tell them, but they'll find it very, very amusing."

"I was convinced for ages that Hermione had figured out I fancied Ginny before we got together, and of course she had. When Ginny and I got engaged, she told me that it was so obvious, only someone as oblivious as Ron could have failed to see it." Ted laughed as they walked through the front gate and towards the front door.

"Food's here!" yelled Ted as they walked into the house, and he was immediately surrounded by Al, Lily, Rosie and Hugo.

As she walked up the stairs to the Owlery on Friday afternoon, Victoire contemplated the difference a week could make. At least Dom was speaking to her again, even if it had taken until Tuesday. She had been sitting in the library, working on a Charms essay with Nat, when Dom had come and sat down in the seat next to her.

"I hear you and Evan broke up", said Dom, as Nat tactfully muttered something about going to ask Madam Pince if that book they had asked about had been returned yet.

"We did. I take it you found out at Quidditch practice."

"Yeah. Felicia let it slip. I don't think she's your biggest fan just now."

"There's a lot of that going around at the moment. And would you be friendly towards the person that had just broken up with your best friend?" Dom looked thoughtful.

"I guess not", she said after a minute. "So.....I still think what you and Louis did was wrong. I mean, I get why you did what you did, but that just made it worse when I did find out."

"Dom, Louis didn't know until last weekend that Ted and I had seen him. We weren't ganging up on you or anything."

"I know. But it still felt like it, though. I accept that you didn't tell me for my own good - "

"And quite rightly I think, given what happened."

"Maybe, maybe not. But you can't constantly protect people by not telling them the truth, Vic. Sooner or later it will backfire on you." Vic nodded.

"That's sort of why I broke up with Evan." Vic started fidgeting with the quill she was using to write her essay. "I wasn't being honest with him about what I wanted and how I felt about him, so I ended it."

When Dom changed the subject and started complaining about how much homework she had already and how it was only Tuesday, Vic knew that her sister had forgiven her and moved on.


Vic had tried to protect Dom - and Evan, she supposed - by not telling them the truth. And Ted....part of it all. Should she tell him how she really felt? She decided not. Some things were, after all, better left unsaid. Better for all concerned.

Entering the Owlery, Vic looked down at the package she held in her hand, a birthday present for Uncle Ron. Sometimes, Vic found it hard to believe that her smiling, unassuming uncle that was so passionate about chess and the Chudley Cannons, and made jokes about the fact that he appeared on chocolate frog cards, was a bona fide war hero with an Order of Merlin, First Class to his name. She smiled as she handed the parcel - containing the latest broom maintenance kit Louis had helped her to pick out - to Hibou.

"There you go", she whispered, stroking the owl's beak affectionately. "Have a safe trip; I'm sure Aunt Hermione will have treats for you when you get there." Vic watched as Hibou swooped up into the rafters, and then out into the bright blue sky. Turning round to leave the Owlery and return to the common room and her Arithmancy essay, Vic found herself face to face with Evan.

"Oh. Um, hi." Since they had broken up the previous weekend, she had seen him in the distance, at the other end of the Gryffindor table at meals, at another table in the library, and across the common room. They had not been alone since Vic had told them she wanted to end their relationship, and they had not spoken.

"Hi. I'm just sending a letter to my parents. You?"

"Uncle Ron's birthday present." She told him what she'd bought.

"That's supposed to be really good."

"So Louis says; it was him that helped pick it out." Vic turned again to leave, feeling incredibly awkward. She and Evan may not have parted on the worst of terms, but they had hardly separated vowing to be close friends either.

"I'm glad that you and Dom are speaking again." Vic stopped in her tracks.

"Thank you. So am I. And I also wanted to - I'm really grateful that you - that Felicia.......I know she's your best friend, and she could easily have taken out her anger at me on Dom and Louis at Quidditch, and I am really thankful that she didn't. Its nothing to do with them. It was my mistake, my fault. After what I did to you, I wouldn't blame her for wanting to get back at me."

"Well....I sort of didn't tell her and everyone else the full story", Evan admitted. Vic's eyebrows creased. "Obviously they know we broke up, and I did say that it was you that ended it. I just didn't mention the other thing. I know its really hypocritical given that you said it was my belief in honesty that made you tell me, but........"

"Thank you. I know that I don't deserve it."

"It was more a preservation of pride thing, actually."

"Well, thank you anyway. I should really get going. In spite of the fact that it is Friday, I have an Arithmancy essay waiting back in the common room for me which I should really get started on. My rules about doing homework on a Friday seem to have gone up the chimney."

"Cool. And Vic.....for what its worth - I think he does feel the same."

"What?"

"Ted - I think he does feel the same as you do. At least, that's the feeling I always got from him."

"But - but - but", Vic spluttered. "I never said it was Ted that I - "

"You didn't have to. When I was walking back up to the castle last weekend, I thought about it and I realised there was only one person it could be. You probably don't realise this, but your face lights up when you talk about him. And sometimes when you're speaking to him its like you are both inside a little bubble that no one else is allowed to enter." Vic sighed.

"It was Ted, and you're wrong. He doesn't feel that way about me. I know for sure. I better go. I have homework to do." Vic left Evan behind, and wandered slowly back to the common room.

Vic was too distracted by what Evan had said to concentrate on her Arithmancy essay, and it remained unstarted when she and Nat went downstairs for dinner a little after six o'clock. There was a vain voice in her head asking how obvious her feelings were to outsiders, but mostly Vic felt that she had never really deserved someone like Evan. Even now, after their relationship had ended, he was still treating her as well as he always had. As much as Evan had told her that it was his pride that had prevented him from telling Felicia and the rest of his friends the full story behind their break-up, Vic knew that the truth was he was too good a person to speak spitefully about her.

"I hope there's chicken for dinner", mused Nat as they walked down the stairs.

"I'm not bothered; I just want the Evening Prophet to come as soon as humanly possible." Although Ted had promised to write to her about how the vote had gone, they both knew that she could find out from reading the paper much quicker than she could waiting for Ted's letter.

As she walked over to the Gryffindor table, Vic sighed heavily as she looked down it; Dom was sat with her friends about halfway down. Louis, not forgiven as Vic had been, sat much further down with his arm round Genie, talking to her and their friends. Ted had advised her to give them both a week or so to calm down (he knew well enough how much of a temper Dom had) and then try talking to them to broker a truce. Now, six days after the Quidditch match and their fight, Vic was pretty sure that if they had spoken in the intervening period it was only at training.

Vic and Nat sat down at the first available seats they could see, and Nat was instantly delighted to see that there was chicken on the table.

"Obviously someone picked up on my sub-conscious thoughts", she grinned as she helped herself to some food.

"The talents of the Hogwarts house-elves know no boundaries." Vic helped herself to some food, though she did not seem to have much of an appetite. The Ted situation, the homework her teachers were piling on the sixth years and the disagreement between Dom and Louis were all stressing Vic to the hilt, and whenever Vic was stressed or nervous she found it hard to summon any sort of appetite.

She had only eaten a few mouthfuls when the owl that delivered the Evening Prophet swooped down between Vic and Nat, and dropped off the newspaper. Vic removed the appropriate coins from her pocket, and placed them in the owl's pouch before unfurling the paper. Glancing down the front page, a smile formed on her face as she saw Rita Skeeter's article bemoaning the 'dangerous' law passed by the Wizengamot to force employers to disregard lycanthropy when making an assessment of a person's suitability for employment.

"Yes!" Vic exclaimed. "Ted's law passed! Oh, I am so excited for him - he has worked so hard for this. Its a shame that his name will never appear on it."

"Well, we know that he worked on it, and so does everyone else he knows. Is there any other news in the paper?"

"Not much. The Head of the Department of Magical Games and Sports has announced he is retiring at the end of the current Quidditch season; some Apothecary in Knockturn Alley has been arrested because he might have been selling potions that are poisonous; apparently the Minister of Magic has been invited to the marriage of the Minister of Magic in Liberia - really, if we're on to the Minister being invited to a wedding, then it must be a pretty slow news day. Aunt Ginny says that the news journalists at the Prophet usually have things like that which wouldn't normally make the paper, but are kept in reserve if there isn't enough real news to put in."

"Do you think that newspapers ever make up stories if there aren't enough real ones?"

"If they do, then that would actually be quite an interesting job. You'd have to make them interesting enough that people read them, but not so interesting that people look further into what its about."

Brightened up with news of Ted's victory, Vic felt a little more light-hearted as she spent the weekend in the library writing essays. The amount of work she had to do also kept her mind busy, though she was delighted to receive a letter from Ted on Saturday evening, telling her about the vote in more detail, and with less venom, than Rita Skeeter.

Vic's stress levels increased at the start of the next week, however, as she was called into Professor Longbottom's office at the end of the school day. She was extremely nervous as she walked along the corridor to see him, thoughts of something terrible happening to Ted, or to one of the family, or Andromeda suffering a relapse ran through her mind. Eventually she reached his office, and knocked timidly on the door.

"Come in", called Professor Longbottom. Vic walked in to find him alone, and sighed internally with relief, feeling if something really terrible had happened, then it was likely Dom, Louis and her cousins would be here as well.

"Sit down. You're very pale - I'm sorry if I worried you."

"Its fine", Vic muttered as she sat down opposite him.

"I thought it best to talk to you before taking any further action. There was an....incident.....in Louis and Dominique's Defence Against the Dark Arts class earlier today. During duelling practice in their practical lesson......" Vic groaned as he started to tell her about the fight that had broken out between Dom and Louis, a consequence of which was that both were currently in the infirmary.

"I take it you are aware that there have been disagreements between them recently?" Vic nodded.

"I was......I was actually going to talk to both of them about it. Well, Dominique more than Louis." Given that Dom is the one with the temper.

"I would like you to do so. Strictly speaking I should write to your parents about this, but in Louis and Dominique's case, I think this would probably make matters worse."

"Me too." Vic thanked Merlin that it was Professor Longbottom that was their Head of House; he had some insight into the madness that was her family, and knew when to follow the rules and when to ignore them.

"Should I go up to the infirmary now?" Professor Longbottom nodded.

"I'm sorry to burden you with this, Victoire. I know how much work the fifth, sixth and seventh years are being given at the moment, and just how hard you are working, but I believe it would be best for someone within your family to deal with this rather than someone on the staff. Although they are both at school, it is ostensibly a family matter."

"Thank you." Vic explained that she wanted her father to be spared their arguments after what had happened to Uncle Fred and how much they all knew Uncle George missed him.

"Well, if you can make sure that Dominique and Louis sort out their differences, then I will not write to your parents about what happened."

"I'll try my best", promised Vic as she stood up. "I'll head up there and speak to them now. Separately, first of all. Speaking to them together would probably make it worse. If that's possible."

As Vic walked out of Professor Longbottom's office and turned left, she wished - not for the first time since she had returned to school after Christmas - that her life could be just that little bit simpler.





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Last edited by MissGryffindor; March 18th, 2012 at 9:37 pm.
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  #50  
Old March 23rd, 2012, 11:56 pm
MissGryffindor  Female.gif MissGryffindor is offline
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Re: Falling

I can't quite believe that we are at chapter number fifty! It really doesn't seem that long since I started thinking and planning it out. This chapter is dedicated to YOU - to those that read and feedback regularly, and make me feel like what I write is actually worth something. You are all amazing!


Chapter 50



Ted looked at himself in the mirror; he was wearing his favourite Weird Sisters t-shirt (which he had found in a box containing his parents' belongings - and was glad of the Preservation Charm that must have been cast) and a pair of his jeans, with his hair the favoured blue. He briefly considered changing, but recalling whose birthday party he was attending, decided against it. Ron Weasley was many things, but he was not that person at parties that questioned whether or not everyone had been dressed appropriately - he left that job to his elder brother Percy.

He flooed to his grandmother's house, picked her up, and they apparated together to the pretty cottage that Ron and Hermione had built not far from The Burrow. Looking into the distance, he could see the Lovegood house, which had been rebuilt after the war, and realised that it was only about a month until Luna's wedding - he would have to sort out some dress robes.

"Ready?" asked his grandmother as she placed her hand on the door knob, ready to enter. Ted nodded, grinning.

"Hello?" Ted called as they wandered in. He could hear music playing, and led his grandmother into a large sitting room that was filled with Weasleys; Molly and Arthur were sitting on the sofa, chatting to Audrey and Percy; Harry, Ron, Bill and George were huddled together in the corner with the famous Quidditch commentator Lee Jordan amongst others, probably talking about Quidditch; Ginny, Fleur and Hermione were handing out food while Angelina called after Freddie and Roxie, part of a group of children running ceaselessly around the house. All in all, it was a typical Weasley party.

"Ted!" Harry called him over, and Ted went to join the large group, while his grandmother was claimed by Molly and Arthur.

"Happy Birthday!" exclaimed Ted as he clapped Ron on the shoulder, before handing him a rather large bottle of Old Ogden's finest.

"Cheers, Ted!" Ron grinned. "I'll save this for later! You know everyone, don't you?" Ted looked around the group and nodded.

"Ted, its good to see you", grinned Ginny as she offered him something from a plate of sandwiches and sausage rolls."

"Thanks. You too." He took a couple of tuna sandwiches from the tray.

"You want a butterbeer?"

"I'll go and get it myself, I can see the drinks table well enough from here!" He left the group and wandered over to where a table stood in the corner filled with pitchers of pumpkin juice for the children, a couple of bottles of Old Ogden's, tankards of Rosmerta's best mead, and dozens of bottles of butterbeer. As he returned to the group he had left, they were discussing the end of season run-in for the Quidditch league.

"Its got to be the Magpies", argued Lee Jordan. "They've got the fire-power to score goals and a good enough Keeper to limit the points scored by the opposition, which protects the Seeker, if they're having a bad game."

"The Arrows aren't doing too badly", countered a man Ted thought was called Dean. "And they've got an easier last few matches than the Magpies do."

"No point in me saying much", grumbled Ron as he stuffed half a ham sandwich into his mouth. "Looks like the Cannons are going to finish bottom of the league for the twelfth year in a row."

"What do you think, Ted?" Harry asked him. "You go to a lot of Magpies matches."

"Yeah, but I'm nothing like an expert", he laughed. "All I can say is that they are playing really well at the moment. If they keep playing like that, I think they might win the league. If they don't, then it'll probably be the Arrows or the Falcons. Aren't they the only teams close enough to the Magpies on points to have much of a chance?"

"Yes, they are", said Ginny as she held out a tray with chicken, beef and mini quiches, offering them around. "I see you've become quite the expert over the last few months, Ted."

"Um, I wouldn't say that just yet."

Later on, once Ron had blown out the candle on his birthday cake - and Hermione had joked they were of an age where a single candle was probably preferable to the full compliment - many of the guests had left, and Ted found himself sitting at the table in the dining room with George, Bill, Hermione, Ginny, Harry and Ron as the seven of them treated themselves to a couple of glasses of firewhiskey.

"Good turnout. They obviously didn't realise what they were coming for", joked George.

"Ha ha", replied Ron, moving the bottle of Old Ogden's away from his elder brother.

"Its a shame to think Rosie won't be at your party next year", said Hermione sadly. "She'll be at Hogwarts. I do hope she'll be alright there."

"Hermione, she'll be fine. We all were", Ron assured her. "Besides, there will be family there to look after her. Vic, Dom, Louis, James - and Molly and Lucy. Plus Al is going too."

"I know." Hermione nodded, and then turned to Bill. "How are the Hogwarts contingent at the moment? I need to write to Vic and thank her for Ron's present."

"Hey!" Ron protested. "I'm perfectly capable of - actually.....no, you're right. I'll forget or start writing a letter and come to the end of it without thanking her."

"They're all fine", grinned Bill. "Vic seems to spend most of her time studying, Dominique is loving being on the Quidditch team, and Louis has a new girlfriend. I say new, she's the first one we've heard about anyway."

"What's her name?" asked Hermione at the same time as Ron and George questioned him as to whether or not she was a Gryffindor.

"Genie McLaggen, he says. And yeah, she is a Gryffindor in the year above Louis. He asked if he could invite her over for dinner during the holidays, so I guess we'll get to meet her then. Ted, do you know - what?!"

Bill had turned and looked at Ginny as if she were mad - or at least the consumer of half of the bottle of Old Ogden's they had between them.

"What?!" Bill repeated. "Well, what's so funny?"

"Oh....don't you....." Ginny looked around her. "Cormac and Lavender's daughter?" Ron groaned as Hermione stifled a giggle and Harry looked a little uncomfortable.

"Lavender?" said George thoughtfully. "Ron, isn't that the name of the unfortunate girl that suffered a head injury and was persuaded to go out with you when you were at Hogwarts?"

"She did not have a head injury!" But he did not deny his relationship with Lavender. "Maybe Louis should watch out - I mean, looking back I suppose Lavender wasn't really that bad - but she could get really clingy, and stuff."

"And don't forget that necklace she gave you", reminded Harry. "Though given that you're not walking around with the letters 'My Sweetheart' around your neck, I suppose you have."

"And if I remember correctly it was your skull that Cormac broke, not mine", retaliated Ron.

"What, in the name of Merlin, is going on?" asked Bill. "Ted, you're - do you know much about her?"

"She's........" Ted tried to think of anything Vic had told him, and remember the encounter at Flourish and Blotts the previous summer. "She's very protective of her mother; when she found out I worked at the DRCMC, she said how anti-werewolf she was, though I guess she really meant she was anti-Greyback. He's really the only one she would have heard about. Vic said in her last letter that Genie seems to be really keen on Louis, too. And that they seemed pretty happy together." Aside from the whole Dom hating Genie thing.

He explained that he had met Genie once, that Vic seemed to think she was alright, and Bill and Fleur should make their own minds up. After all, Ted figured that not everyone took after their parents - look at his grandmother and Sirius, so unlike their families even at Genie's age. He did not mention Dom's opinion of Genie, or the confrontations between Dom and Louis that Vic had written to him about. Ted hated not being able to tell Bill the full story, but he figured it was Vic's business what she chose to tell her parents about what went on within their own small family unit while at Hogwarts.

Leaving behind discussions of Genie with Bill - and the others poking fun at each other - Ted went back through to the other room to get a Butterbeer, where his attention was commandeered by Al.

"Did you hear the England game on the WWN last night?" Al asked him. They had been talking about the friendly with Iceland the previous night during dinner.

"A little of it. I caught the end, when Runkyardsson caught the snitch. You?"

"Dad and I listened to all of it; mum said when she came back that it had been a really good match. Apparently Wood played a team with players that he is thinking about bringing in for competitive games."

"Well, that's really what friendlies should be used for, I guess. Oh, I spoke to Wes the other day - I've got tickets for you, me and James to go to the Magpies match against Portree. Its on the middle Saturday of the Easter holidays. I would have tried to get tickets for the Harpies match the Saturday before, which looks like it will be a better match, but that's the day of Luna's wedding.

"Urgh", groaned Al. "Weddings are for girls."

"I wouldn't quite say that", laughed Ted. "I'm sure you'll appreciate them more when you're older. It could be worse - think of having to go through all of those fittings Lily is for being a bridesmaid!"

"I guess." He went on to talk about the Magpies chances in the league. In some ways, Ted felt that James and Al were very actually much alike - not that he would admit it to either of them. They were both still of an age where they would both take it as an insult rather than a compliment.

"Teddy!" Lily shrieked as she ran up to him. "Hide me! Roxie, Hugo and Freddie are chasing after me!"

Ted laughed as Lily hid behind he and Al, and the two of them protested they had no knowledge of her whereabouts when the cousins came in a few moments later.

"Have they gone yet? I want to win this time!"

"I think they're looking for you outside now", said Ted, looking out the window to see Hugo, Roxie and Freddie out in the garden. "Are you enjoying the party, Lily bean?"

"Yes", she nodded emphatically. "And I'm staying here tonight. Rosie and I are going to have a midnight feast too!"

"Well, don't eat too many sweets, otherwise Grandma Weasley will be very offended when you don't have a third helping at dinner tomorrow."

"I won't. But....Teddy?"

"What?"

"I want some more birthday cake. Auntie Angelina made it, and her cakes are always the best. Could you go and get me some more? Auntie Hermione put it in the kitchen." Ted couldn't argue with that; if Angelina ever opened a cake shop, Ted would fight very hard to be its first customer.

"Just for you", he pretended to concede, and left them.

Ted was just about to walk into the kitchen, when he heard voices coming from behind the closed door.

".....still think its quite amusing", he heard Ginny say.

"Well, you and I have that sort of thing to look forward to", Hermione replied. "Though I will impress upon Rosie the need to concentrate on her schoolwork rather than relationships until she has left Hogwarts."

"I'm sure Ron would agree. I'd love to see the look on his face when Rosie brought home a boyfriend", snorted Ginny. "I can see him and Harry pretending to be much scarier than they actually are when Rosie and Lily get to that stage. It''ll be very amusing to watch."

"Its a shame about Victoire and that boy she was seeing - Evan, isn't it? I think I know his father from the Ministry. I'm sure he's something to do with the DRCMC. Do you think Ted knows him?"

"I think they've met. I vaguely remember something about Ted telling him stories Vic was embarrassed about. But then, Vic told me that Ted and Evan weren't exactly best friends."

"Well, men - and boys - can be strange that way, you know that as well as I do. Taking against someone for no real reason at all. Look at Ron and the way he was about Viktor. Would barely say a civil word about him at times."

"Yeah, but that's different, I mean - oh......wow......maybe that - "

"What?"

"Nothing. You're right. Men can be strange sometimes."

Ted started to hum an old Weird Sisters tune loudly, and wandered into the kitchen with a grin on his face that hid the nerves he felt that Ginny may very well have figured out something he'd rather she hadn't. For all Harry's reassurances that Ginny had put down his cheerful mood on the day Vic and Evan's separation had become known to the fact he and Evan hadn't got on, Ted had a feeling that Hermione had unwittingly planted an idea in her head that maybe - just maybe - that hadn't been the full story.

As Vic walked down the path to Hogsmeade, she shielded her eyes from the spring sunshine. It was the end of the third week of March, and the final Hogsmeade visit prior to the Easter holidays, a visit that Vic was using to pick up the robes she had requested be laid aside at Gladrags, which would be worn to Luna's wedding in just a couple of weeks time, and to buy birthday presents for Ted, Andromeda, Lucy and her Uncle George. The joys of a large family.....

Half-listening to Nat chatter away about how much she was looking forward to seeing Dylan when she went back home for the Easter break, Vic contemplated the difficulties of buying Ted's birthday present. She had known him her entire life, and he was her best friend. Yet, at Christmas - and now again as his birthday approached - Vic felt slightly unsure what to buy for him. How to remain steadfastly on the 'best friend' buying path, and not veer off into the road that led to presents a girl would buy for her boyfriend.

"The village looks really busy today", Nat commented as the two girls came to the first few shops. Vic looked around to see that she was right; in spite of the approaching OWL and NEWT examinations (the start of which were only a little over two months away) and the fact that most of them would be returning home for the Easter holidays very soon, almost all of the third - seventh years seemed to have taken advantage of the opportunity to escape the confines of the school grounds for a few hours.

"Makes me feel a little relieved, then, that I owled Gladrags and asked them to put aside the robes for me", said Vic. She had seen a nice set on the last visit, and on reflection had decided they would be perfect. In the intervening period Vic had also owled her mother to plead for the necessary extra allowance to pay for them, arguing that they were for a wedding, and that she was sure her mother wanted Vic, Dom and Louis to be as smartly dressed as possible. Thinking of her brother, Vic noticed him wander into Honeydukes hand in hand with Genie.

While Dom and Louis were by no means as close as they had been previously (and Vic had yet to hear Dom actually speak more than a couple of monosyllabic words in response to questions asked by Genie, or to ask for the salt to be passed to her) they were at least on speaking terms once again. When Vic had gone to the infirmary to speak to her brother and sister, she had tactfully reminded them both separately that continuing the way they were would result in a letter to their parents. Which would then result in being grounded for most of the Easter holidays (inclusive of no Quidditch). Upon leaving, Vic had also casually muttered - loudly enough for both of them to hear - that she was glad there would be a Hogsmeade visit later that month as it would give her an opportunity to buy a birthday present for Uncle George.

Vic's tactful reminders appeared to have worked, as Dom and Louis once again actually spoke to one another, and there had been no repeats of the incident in their Defence class. Professor Longbottom had also advised her that he considered the matter closed for the moment, but said that if there was a repeat of the incident, he would have no choice but to write to their parents.

Vic and Nat made Gladrags their first stop; although Vic was assured of the robes she had reserved, she also saw it as a good starting point in her attempt to buy birthday presents, particularly for Lucy and Andromeda.

"This is one of the upsides to having a small family", said Vic as they searched through the items in the Spring sale. "The lack of constant birthdays, and the possibility that there will be four of them in an incredibly short space of time! And coming only a few weeks after Uncle Ron's birthday......"

"That is true", Nat nodded as she looked for something for her mother, who loved to receive small gifts picked up in Hogsmeade. Nat had told Vic countless times that her mother felt it gave her a connection to the wizarding side of Nat's life.

"What about this for Andromeda?" Vic asked, picking up a pretty, silvery grey scarf and showing it to Nat.

"Its nice. What do you usually get her?"

"It varies. Sometimes a book; she reads a lot. I want to get her something nice after everything she's been through since Christmas."

"Like I said, its nice. I think you should go for it. If you don't think its quite enough, you could buy her a box of chocolates from Honeydukes or something like that to add to it."

"I guess. Actually, yes - I think I'll go for it. After all, I have four presents to buy, so....."

Vic held onto the scarf, and started looking for a present for Lucy. She had bought a charm bracelet for her cousin last year, and eventually decided on a couple of new charms to add to the bracelet, as well as a pretty necklace with a pretty silver bird on it. Figuring that the eagle which symbolised Ravenclaw House looked quite similar, Vic picked it up, adding it to her pile of shopping.

They moved over to the side of the shop dedicated to wizards' clothing, and Vic's eye was instantly caught by a new selection of musically-themed t-shirts and robes that were set up in an eye-catching display.

"Ooooh!" Vic breathed. Looking through the display, she saw a t-shirt bearing the name 'The Demented Dementors', and recalled the band that Ted had taken her to see play live the previous summer. This was perfect!

"Can I help you?" asked the shop assistant. Vic turned to see a short, neatly turned out woman around her mother's age.

"Um, I was just going to get this", said Vic, indicating the pile she held in her hands, and the t-shirt she had identified for Ted.

"Excellent. We have just branched out into this new line, and as part of the special offer, there is also a free record including a live recording of the band whose t-shirt you have chosen to buy."

"Really?!" Ted would be ecstatic. "Well, I'll take this then!" That plus a large box or three of his favourite Honeydukes chocolates would do Ted well enough. Vic seemed to have found that happy medium she had sought when worrying what to buy for him.

They walked over to the counter, and when Nat had paid for the 'Weird Sisters' jumper she had picked out for her mother, Vic laid down her chosen items and mentioned the robes she had asked to be set aside.

"They are a sort of golden-yellow colour; they'll be reserved under the name Weasley - Victoire Weasley."

"I'll just go and get them for you." The woman was only away for a couple of moments, before returning and asking if Vic wished to try them on.

"No, its alright; they're my size, and if they're a centimetre or two out, my mother can charm them to make them fit", said Vic dismissively. "How much is that altogether?"

"Twenty one galleons, three sickles and four knuts." Vic handed over the money, making her purse considerable lighter, and the two girls headed off to Honeydukes.

"So, that's Andromeda sorted, and I want to buy some chocolate for Lucy and Ted to add to their presents. Just Uncle George to properly buy for", Vic mused as she and Nat entered the sweet shop.

"But I'm guessing that in here, you'll also be buying something for yourself?"

"Of course! When was the last time you saw me leave this shop without buying some chocolate for myself?"

"The seventh of never", laughed Nat. "Come on, let's go straight for those caramel things you like."

It didn't take long for them to pick out what they wanted - Vic buying chocolate caramels and chocolate mints for herself, as well as Lucy and Ted's favourites to add to their birthday presents, and Nat some sugar quills and chocolate creams - and they could leave behind Honeydukes for their final destination, The Three Broomsticks.

The wizarding pub appeared to be as bustling as the village itself - if not more so - and Vic and Nat were able to nab the last free table. While Vic guarded their table, and rifled through her purchases, Nat went to order a couple of butterbeers and pick up some lunch menus. Having a touch of shopper's block, Vic decided to order Uncle George's present by owl order. Once she had decided what to get him.

"Here we go", said Nat, handing Vic a butterbeer and a menu. "Apparently today's specials are Fish Pie, Sausage Casserole and Chicken Surprise."

"What's in that?"

"I think that's the surprise", laughed Nat as they were joined by Dom and her friend Leigh-Anne, who dragged over a couple of spare seats they had scrounged.

"How's the shopping going?" Dom asked.

"Not bad", shrugged Vic. "I've got birthday presents sorted for Ted, Andromeda and Lucy. You?"

"Not as good as you. I think I'll end up just buying them all something from Honeydukes. Guess what we saw?!"

"Urghmmm.......people shopping?" guessed Vic weakly. Dom had that glint in her eyes that told Vic her sister was just about to impart gossip of the highest order.

"Nope! Your ex-boyfriend - Evan, that is - snogging - "

"Felicia?" interrupted Nat.

"How did you know that?" exclaimed Leigh-Anne. "Dom and I thought this was hot news!"

"Well", smirked Nat. "I do believe that someone owes me five galleons!"

Vic groaned. "Nat bet me five galleons that Evan and Felicia would be together by the Easter holidays", she explained.

"I've been telling Vic that Felicia fancied Evan since before the break-up", explained Nat. "And may I say.....I told you so!"

"Yeah, yeah", Vic muttered as she delved into her purse. How many chocolates had she wasted in this bet?!

"Well, he didn't waste much time", said Dom.

"We broke up about a month ago", Vic pointed out. "That's roughly the same amount of time between when I split up with Hem and when I agreed to go out with Evan. And I don't blame him - Evan is the kind of guy that is better off in a relationship than out of one. He needs someone in that way, I think."

"You're honestly not bothered about it?" Dom seemed surprised.

"Dom, I broke up with him. I ended it. It isn't my place to be bothered about it. In fact, I'm actually happy for him. Evan is a lovely guy that deserves someone who really wants to be with him, and it seems Felicia really does."

The following day, as they studied for a Charms test in the library, Vic found herself reassuring Nat yet again that she really didn't mind Evan and Felicia getting together as they spotted the new couple studying together while looking for a book on Atmospheric Charms.

"Like I said before, its really fine", whispered Vic as they returned to the table they had grabbed upon their arrival in the library after breakfast that morning. "Muffliato."

"You're sure? Because I know - "

"I'm sure. I was the one that ended it, and because I was attracted to someone else. I told him I'd kissed that someone else. No one would have been critical of Evan if he had told everyone and turned me into some sort of.....Ava Ackerley or something! He didn't do that, and I respect him for it. I should never have let this thing between he and I go on for as long as I did. You told me to make a choice, and I did. One I should have made a long time ago."

"Okay. I just wanted to make sure. Have you thought about what you're going to do when you see Ted during the holidays? Its only a couple of weeks away."

"I know. And I have thought about it - I'm going to be what I am; his best friend. Ted doesn't want anything more than that from me, and so I'm going to give him what he wants, however I feel about him. I'll go and see him, and we'll hang out with Wes and Rowland and their girlfriends, and he'll come over and see Dom, Louis and I. I'll see him when everyone is over at Gramma Weasley's for Sunday dinner, and maybe when I go to visit Aunt Ginny. It'll be like it has always been."

"And you're alright with that? With not risking telling him?"

"I am." Faced with the choice of no Ted or a Ted she could only be best friends with, Vic would always opt for the latter; losing Ted altogether was not something she was willing to contemplate risking. At new year she had shown him how she felt, and aside from the best kiss she'd ever had, Vic had got nothing in return - no declaration that told her Ted felt for her even a tenth of what she did for him. If that memory was all she could carry for the rest of her life, it would have to be enough. It was better than nothing, and it was better than losing him. Perhaps that was not Gryffindor bravery at its finest, but it was what she would do.

"And how about you? What do you and Dylan have planned for the holidays?"

"He's taking me to a football match", groaned Nat with a smile. "Just the two of us.....and about ten of his friends and a couple of their girlfriends. Apparently its a big cup game, and if they win then they get to a final. It seems to be a big deal to Dylan, but I don't really understand it."

"At least you'll be there with him. I'm sure it won't be that bad." Vic tried to be positive - she found Quidditch bad enough, and was delighted when matches finished quickly.

"Well, here's hoping", grinned Nat. "And....well before we both go back home for Easter we have to sit that awful Charms test on Wednesday. So, I guess we should get back to studying."

"I suppose", agreed Vic. Though, she had to admit, thinking and talking about Ted seemed a far more agreeable past-time.




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Last edited by MissGryffindor; March 23rd, 2012 at 11:58 pm.
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  #51  
Old March 31st, 2012, 12:40 am
MissGryffindor  Female.gif MissGryffindor is offline
Second Year
 
Joined: 2891 days
Location: SCOTLAND
Age: 31
Posts: 244
Re: Falling

This one is for Urania, nevillesgal, blueowl and marauderfan!!

Enjoy!

Chapter 51


As Vic sat down to breakfast at the Gryffindor table on the morning of the last day of term, she found herself contemplating the changes that had taken place in her life since term had started back in January. Helping herself to scrambled eggs on toast, she thought about the first meal of term - the dinner at which she had worried so much about Ted and what he thought of their kiss, wondering if he would ever speak to her again - and how Evan had sat next to her in the seat currently occupied by Nat. Vic knew that she had done the right thing where Evan was concerned, and in many ways it was a relief not to feel like she was constantly lying to herself, and to him, every day. Then there was everything that had happened with Dom and Louis; from where Vic sat she could see Louis and Genie enjoying their breakfast a little further down. Ever since the day Dom had found out about them, Genie and Louis had been extremely open about their relationship, holding hands and sharing the odd kiss in public.

"Its been an odd sort of term, in some ways", said Nat, echoing Vic's thoughts as she buttered a piece of toast. "You want the butter?"

"No, I'm fine, thanks. I know what you mean about this term, though. Its been pretty eventful, hasn't it?"

"Yeah. Particularly for you. But aside from the complications that are your life, there's been all our homework, apparition lessons......"

"Definitely."

"Are you worried about what happen during the holidays? With Louis and Dom having to spend more time together?" Nat asked after a few moments in which Vic had stared into space, thinking about the next day when she would meet Ted again for the first time since their kiss had been interrupted by Caro.

"Hmm? A little. But at home it is up to dad and to maman to keep the peace as far as Dom and Louis are concerned. And I can always floo Aunt Ginny, and have a chat over there if the atmosphere gets to bad at home because of them."

"Vic, its your home as much as is Louis or Dom's - you shouldn't let them force you out of it, even for a few hours, just because Louis has a girlfriend Dom isn't too keen on."

"I know. But I do like going over to see Aunt Ginny. I'm looking forward to Al coming here after the summer as well; Aunt Ginny said in her last letter that he's extremely excited about it. But, to be honest, I was actually thinking about Ted." Vic sighed. She hated that the thought of seeing her best friend made her so nervous - so much so that there was a tiny part of her dreaded it in case he treated her differently, that their friendship wasn't as close as it had been before.

"Perhaps it is for the best that you don't see him until the wedding." Vic looked up questioningly at Nat. "I mean that there will be so many people there, not just the two of you. There's less chance of it being awkward. You can ease yourselves into general, group conversations and not be stuck for words like you might be if it were just the two of you."

"I suppose you're right", said Vic slowly as she put down her knife and fork and gave up her scrambled eggs as a bad job; she would have plenty of time to make up for that when the food trolley came past on the train, though Vic would have to be careful how much chocolate and sweets she ate - after all, she wanted to be able to fit into her dress robes for the wedding. Looking at her friend's plate, she saw that Nat had finished her breakfast too and suggested they go back up to their dorm to collect their things.

The train journey to King's Cross seemed to pass by very quickly, and Vic and Nat found a compartment near the back of the train with Dom, her friends Leigh-Anne and Emme, and Emme's Ravenclaw boyfriend Simon. His friends dropped by around lunchtime, and only Vic's prefectly patrol of the corridors interrupted an afternoon of exploding snap and chocolate consumption. There was a slightly awkward moment when they come off the train at the same time as Evan and his friends - who had actually spent the day only a couple of compartments away - were passing. Vic smiled as naturally as she could and told them she hoped they would all enjoy their last holidays from Hogwarts.

"That was very big of you", said Dom as she heaved her trunk onto the platform with the assistance of Simon and his friend Will. "Thanks, guys."

"It wasn't really", replied Vic, shrugging. "I don't know that Evan and I will really stay friends; after all, he's leaving after the summer. But I don't hate him. I've told you before, Dom, it was me that ended it - Felicia will make him so much happier than I ever could. I don't want to go over this again." Dom's shoulders raised and fell slightly, but she made no other motion to show a reaction to what Vic had said to her.

"Let's go through the barrier", said Vic, starting to smile at the thought of seeing her family again. "I can't wait to see maman and dad; Aunt Ginny and Uncle Harry and Lily and Al." Uncle Percy and Aunt Audrey would probably be there too, but they usually returned home quickly, and did not linger in the way that the rest of them did.

"Is Ted not coming?" asked Dom.

"I thought I said?" Vic was sure she had. "The support group he runs won't finish in time this afternoon for him to come down. We'll see him at the wedding tomorrow."

"Surely he could have finished early for once." Vic shot Dom an angry look.

"Ted is committed to this. He wants to really do something for people that suffer the way his father did. So they don't turn out like the one that attacked his father and ours. Besides, this is his career - it would send a bad sign to his bosses at the Ministry, especially those that might not be keen on what he is trying to do, if he left early to meet the train."

"I suppose so. I can't wait to get home. Maman always makes the most amazing dinner the first night back from school." Vic laughed; she knew that part of the reason their mother's cooking always felt so magical was that they were so used to British, Hogwarts food, and the French dishes serves by their mother was a welcome change.

They went through the barrier chatting away about what they were planning to do over the holidays, and bemoaning the homework they had all been given as the end of year exams - even for those not sitting OWLs or NEWTs - were approaching with great speed. Vic instantly noticed Louis had reached their parents first, and was introducing them to Genie. A stiffening in her sister's stance told Vic that Dom had seen them too.

"I'll be over in a few minutes", Dom told her. "I - I have to talk to Leigh-Anne and Emme first." Allowing Dom her excuse, Vic nodded, hugged Nat goodbye and promised to owl her, and then half-walked half-ran over to where her parents, brother, aunt and cousins stood.

"Aunt Ginny, it is so good to see you! I missed you so much!" Vic exclaimed as she hugged her aunt; her parents were still speaking to Louis and Genie and she thought it best to greet her aunt's family first.

"And I missed all of you too!" Vic hugged her uncle and cousins too, before asking where James was.

"Not out yet", said Harry. "Probably talking to his friends."

"That sounds about right", grinned Vic. Her cousin James was probably the most popular student in his year - well, at least he was if the opinions of the Slytherins were discounted.

"And how are you, Vic?" asked Ginny. "You're looking well."

"I'm fine", she replied, knowing what her aunt meant. Like Dom, Ginny wanted to make sure that Vic was over her break-up. It actually made Vic feel a little guilty that they were so concerned, when she knew that it was over something that actually hadn't ended up affecting her that much. They expected her to be fragile, when she really, really wasn't.

"Are you looking forward to tomorrow?" Vic turned to Lily, who seemed to be bouncing on the balls of her feet. Lily nodded excitedly.

"Mummy and I were at the rehearsal earlier, and we practiced everything. I got to miss school as well."

"I would rather go to school than go to a wedding", said Al scornfully.

"Boys", said Vic as she gave Lily a conspiratorial wink. "I'm looking forward to seeing your dress, Lily. And I'm sure that Luna will have the bestest bridesmaid ever."

Lily beamed back at Vic, and asked about her dress.

"I bought new dress robes in Hogsmeade", Vic told her. "They're sort of somewhere between yellow and gold in colour."

"Mummy's wearing a gold dress. She says I can have it when I'm old enough."

"And I'm sure you'll look lovely in it."

"I actually wore a gold dress at your parents' wedding", Ginny told Vic. "Besides, yellow would clash awfully with my hair."

"I love the robes I bought", sighed Vic. "I reserved them at Gladrags in Hogsmeade."

"After you made sure your mother and I would stump up for them, you mean", said her father. Vic turned round and saw the broad grin on his face. When it came down to it, her father had scarcely been able to deny Vic anything.

"Daddy!" She hugged him tightly; Vic only ever referred to her father as 'daddy' when she came back from school, or when she was upset. The rest time it was a mature 'dad' that she called him.

"Maman!" She hugged her mother as soon as she had left her father's arms, and when Dom and James turned up a moment or two later, the group moved off in the direction of the muggle taxi rank to make their journey to the Leaky Cauldron, where Hannah would spoil them with free butterbeer and pumpkin juice.

In times past, Vic would find herself in a taxi with Dom and Louis, while her parents, aunt and uncle travelled together and Ted was comandeered by James. Today - due to Ted's absence and Louis and Dom's estrangement, Vic found herself with Dom and Lily, while Louis travelled with Al and James. Vic felt she had the better part of the bargain; Louis would have to keep Al and James in check without magic while James boasted to his brother (as discreetly as possible) of everything he had got up to while at Hogwarts.

Aware of the muggle taxi driver, Vic permitted Lily to prattle on and on about her dress, and how pretty all the decorations were. All the while, she stared out of the window at the foreign-looking landmarks thinking about how much more real a meeting with Ted felt now that she had left Hogwarts for the holidays. In some ways, it hadn't seemed real when she's spoken to Nat of it only that morning and now it was less than a day away.

There was a little voice in Vic's head that told her scoldingly that she shouldn't be frightened of meeting her best friend. The thing was, as much as she tried to force away her feelings and accept that Ted wanted to be nothing more, Ted was more more than a mere best friend to Vic; he was now the man she had started to fall for. And there was no guarantee when that falling would stop, and Vic would hit the ground.

Eventually they reached the Leaky, Vic handed the taxi driver the appropriate muggle money (along with a tip - having a muggle-born best friend had its advantages) and the three girls entered the pub to be met by a welcoming Hannah.

"How are you all girls? Looking forward to the wedding? I'll get you some butterbeers and pumpkin juice....." As she bustled away and shouted to the barmaid to get some drinks ready, the rest of the family came in, and were greeted as warmly.

Although she felt herself settled in conversation with her mother about getting ready the following day, and making sure that there was enough Sleakeazy in the house, Vic felt herself be pulled aside by Aunt Ginny.

"How are you really?" she asked Vic, scrutinising her closely.

"Fine", smiled Vic. "When I said I was fine earlier, I meant it. I know what you're talking about, and its fine. Merlin, the number of times Dom and I have had this conversation......I really am doing fine."

"Good. I'm glad. It was just that you seemed to be so in love with him - "

"Seemed to be is the right way of putting it", said Vic. She dropped her head.

"Vic?"

"I think I was more in love with the idea of him, of being in love with him - no, not even. I wanted to be in love with him, and I told myself I was."

"But you weren't?" Vic shook her head.

"Not really. Oh, Aunt Ginny, you've no idea how much of a relief it really was to be able to say that, to say some of what I actually felt and not what I thought I should", Vic burst out. "Dom keeps asking if I'm alright with him seeing Felicia now - seems that Nat was right about her liking him - but the truth is she will make him ten times as happy as I ever would. Evan was pretty much the perfect guy.....I suppose that's why maman owled me asking if I was sure, if I'd made a mistake. The thing was, he wasn't the right guy for me."

"I know where you're coming from", Ginny grinned. "I just wanted to make sure you were alright. At new year there seemed to be something else you wanted to talk about when I found you coming in from the cold."

"There was." Vic remembered that night vividly; that kiss, the best she had ever experienced, and then Caro coming along and taking Ted from her. "But it doesn't really matter now. There was - I thought I liked someone else, but he didn't - it came to nothing."

"I liked someone too much and someone else not enough", laughed Vic with a touch of bitterness to her chuckles. "Anyway, it doesn't matter anymore."

Or so she told herself.

They did not linger long at the Leaky; with the wedding the following day they all had preparations to make, and those returning from Hogwarts had to make sure their trunks were unpacked, otherwise they would remain as they were until Sunday. It was a little after quarter to six - much earlier than they usually reached Shell Cottage - that Vic noted the clock above the fireplace read as she brushed off the dust from the floo.

Dom immediately muttered that she wanted to unpack before dinner and dragged her trunk upstairs; when Louis followed suit a couple of moments later and her mother headed to the kitchen to make the final preparations for dinner, her father rounded on Vic.

"They aren't speaking again", he said bluntly.

"Hmmm?"

"Vic, don't insult my intelligence; they haven't spoken a word since they got off the train, and they took separate taxis to the Leaky."

"Yeah", said Vic simply.

"You don't want to be the one that tells on them. That's fine. In take it Dom doesn't like that girl Louis is seeing? That conversation she was having with her friends conveniently ended when Genie McLaggen walked off to see her parents."

"I'm going upstairs." She didn't confirm or deny what he had said, and Vic knew that alone would make her father realise he was right.

"Again!"

Leaving the issue of Dom and Louis for her father to solve, Vic selfishly took her trunk up to her room and laid out the dress robes she had bought to wear to the wedding, thinking only of Ted, and how it would feel to see him again.

Ted glanced up at the clock as he filed everything away at the end of his Friday support group. It was a little after five thirty, and he had promised to be over at the Potters' by six. The Hogwarts Express had been due in about an hour before, and Ted had promised to come over for dinner; with Luna's wedding the next day, they would not be lingering at the Leaky, catching up with everyone as usual. The rehearsal had been earlier that day, and an excited Lily had been allowed to miss the last day of term at her muggle school.

It was a mark of how committed he was to this group that he had owled Vic only a few days before to say that he wouldn't be at King's Cross to meet the Hogwarts Express. He owed it to everyone that came regularly, and even those that did not, to stick to their regular schedule - and not to change it just because the girl he was falling for was returning from Hogwarts for the holidays. Besides, he would see her tomorrow at the wedding and there would be the rest of the holidays - including his birthday.

On an impulse, Ted decided on his way to the reception area that he would quickly stop by his grandmother's house on his way to Godric's Hollow. They had not determined when he'd been over for dinner last night if they were going to the wedding seperately or together, and Ted wondered if she wanted him to stop by on his way there.

"Grams?!" Ted called a few moments last as he wandered in through the back door.

"Teddy?" replied a surprised voice.

"Yeah, its me." He wandered through the kitchen and saw the tea things; one of her friends must have been over earlier. "I was just on my way over to Harry's and I was wondering if.......oh."

He walked into the sitting room to find his grandmother drinking tea and having cake with a blonde woman of approximately the same age. As Ted looked at the woman sitting to his right, he was aware of the nervousness of his grandmother and checked his temper.

"Teddy, I think you know Cissa", said his grandmother tentatively.

"Hi." Ted nodded in the direction of his grandmother's sister; he could not think of her as his great-aunt - not the woman that had harboured his mother's killer while she was on the run from Azkaban. A voice reminded him that his mother's killer wasn't just Narcissa's sister, but his grandmother's, but he ignored it.

"Hello, Teddy. 'Dromeda has told me so much about you."

"Hopefully it wasn't all bad", he tried to joke in an attempt at politeness.

"Not at all." There was a pause in conversation, as if nobody quite knew what to say, and the air seemed to feel stuffy in spite of the open windows; his appearance had clearly been more unexpected than Ted had anticipated.

"Grams said that your grandson is going to Hogwarts after the summer. Is he looking forward to it?" Ted asked in an attempt to diffuse the tension.

"Scorpius is very much looking forward to going away to school. I fear, however, that he will be dreadfully missed during term-time. I shall not have anyone to spoil!"

"I am sure he will have a great time - I did. And speaking of Hogwarts, I need to go." He turned to his grandmother. "James came back for the holidays today; I just stopped by on my way over there for dinner to ask if you wanted me to pick you up on the way to the wedding tomorrow?"

"That would be lovely", said his grandmother gratefully. "I hate going to weddings alone, thank you Teddy. I meant to ask you when you were over yesterday if you'd sorted out some dress robes."

"Harry is lending me a spare pair of his. In fact, he was going to give them to me tonight. I'll floo over about an hour before the ceremony starts."

"I look forward to it."

"It was nice meeting you", Ted said politely to Narcissa. As he bent down to kiss his grandmother's cheek in farewell, he could hear her whispered thanks for being civil to Narcissa.

"I'll see you tomorrow, Grams."

Ted went through to the kitchen, and then after taking a deep breath he apparated to Godric's Hollow. Calming himself - after all, he was here to see James, back from school and not to offload his issues with Narcissa to Harry and Ginny - Ted forced his face into a pleasant grin and walked through the back door.

"Teddy!" Before he could say a word, Lily had run over to him and wrapped her arms around him in a massive hug. "Teddy, mummy and I went to Auntie Luna's today, and we practiced walking up and down the aisle! I'm so excited - I can't wait for tomorrow!"

"Well, I'm sure you'll do splendidly. The best bridesmaid there ever was."

"Do you really think so?" Lily bit her lip.

"Of course. Now, where is everyone else?"

"Rosie, Hugo and me were playing with Toffee but I came to get us some juice. Mummy and daddy are in the sitting room with Auntie Hermione, Uncle Ron and James, listening to him tell them all about Hogwarts."

"And where's Al?"

"Up in his room. He says it isn't a big deal that James is back." Ted laughed.

"Well, why don't you tell him that I'm here and I want to see him, okay?" Once Lily had nodded and run off, Ted wandered through to the sitting room, where James was in full force with tales of the last Quidditch match.

"It would have been better if I had been able to play too", James was saying. "As much as I don't want one of our players to get injured, if they did, I would get a game before the end of the year."

"I'll tell Dom to watch out then, in case you try and injure her during the holidays", warned Ted with a grin as he took a seat next to the fire.

"Nah, she'd recover by the time it came to the match", said James dismissively.

"Can I get you a drink?" Ginny asked him as she stood up. "Butterbeer or peppermint tea?"

"Ooooh, that's a tough one! Umm.......I'll have peppermint tea just now, and a butterbeer with dinner."

"Good compromise", nodded Ron. "You just finish for the day?"

"Yeah, I have my support group over at St. Mungo's on a Friday afternoon, so I couldn't make it to King's Cross for the train coming in."

"How's it going?" Hermione asked him. "I'm really excited you got a chance to do something like that."

"Me too. Uh, its going well, yeah." He told her about the idea he'd had of making Wolfsbane, and how it was a work-around until the Wizengamot passed a law which gave all werewolves the potion free of charge each full moon.

"And then what will you do when that passes?"

"Retire." They laughed at him, and then Al and Ginny came into the room at the same time, the latter handing Ted a cup of tea.

"Thanks, Ginny. Hey, Al. How are you? Looking forward to the Portree match next Saturday?"

"Yeah, I guess. It should be good."

"Good?" James snorted. "It'll be epic! Think of the seats we'll get.........."

"Dinner won't be long", promised Ginny. "Chicken, ham and leek pie tonight; I had to try and figure out something that everyone would eat, and that could be made quickly. Lily and I only got back from the wedding rehearsal about an hour ago."

"She was telling me about it", chuckled Ted. "I'm not entirely sure she'll sleep tonight."

"Oh, she will", replied Ginny with such certainty in her voice that it left Ted wondering if Lily's bedtime hot chocolate would include a small sleeping potion.

"Ted, remind me to lend you those dress robes before you leave; everything will be hectic enough in the morning without me having to floo them over to you because I've forgotten tonight", said Harry.

"Will do. How soon before it starts are you heading over there? I'm picking up Grams an hour before, but think about it now, I'm wondering if that's too early."

"Well, Lily has to be there quite early, so she and I are heading over there first thing", said Ginny. "But Harry and the boys won't come over until about forty five minutes before. You should bring Andromeda over then, too. Make sure you get an aisle seat, it'll be easier for her."

"Will do", nodded Ted.

It wasn't; long before they went through to dinner, a meal at which he found a newly-returned James and a territorial Al both fighting over who would sit next to him. In the end, Ted put one of them on either side, and Lily opposite him. The meal was the quickest part of the evening, and Ted barely got a word in edgeways as James talked incessantly about Quidditch, and how much he was looking forward to the Portree game. Given how excited he was, Ted hoped that it would last longer than the match he had taken Vic to over the Christmas break.

"How......how was the trip back on the train?" Ted asked James as they finished up their pudding of rhubarb and custard. He was hoping to hear of Vic without actually mentioning her name.

"Same as always", shrugged James nonchalently. Ted grinned at how blase he had become about all thing Hogwarts when he had not yet even finished his first year there. Thinking back, Ted tried to remember if he had acted the same way around Vic when he had started there, and she had not.

"No fights or anything?"

"Nah. Well, some of the Slytherins were hexed, but that was always going to happen. The slimy snakes! You better watch Al - and make sure that you're not in Slytherin when you come to Hogwarts. Well, if you do."

"Of course I'm coming to Hogwarts", retorted Al hotly. "And I WON'T be in Slytherin. I WON'T!"

"James, leave off teasing your brother", warned Harry. "Are you both finished? Well, you can leave the table." Al and James both left - Ted assumed to go separately to their rooms - and so Lily, Rosie and Hugo asked to be let away.

"I don't know what annoys me more", said Ginny as she removed the pudding dishes. "The two of them arguing, or the two of them apart acting all sullen and taciturn because the other one isn't there."

"Do you have any more plans for this evening, Ted?" Harry asked as he attempted to change the subject. "Are you meeting your friends at the Leaky or.....anything?"

"No, I don't." He picked up on the hint about Vic. Ted knew he shouldn't feel awkward about fielding questions about seeing her - after all, Vic was his best friend - but there was a little part that did. Because Ted didn't want her to just be his best friend.

"I wanted to get a good sleep tonight; tomorrow is going to be a long day", he elaborated. "The truth is, I'm far too sensible and responsible for my own good!"

A little later on in the evening, when they went upstairs so Harry could locate the dress robes he had promised to lend Ted for the wedding, his godfather did bring up the subject of Vic.

"You're not going over to Shell Cottage tonight, then?" he asked Ted as he opened the wardrobe.

"Nope. Aside from anything else, Vic will want to unpack everything tonight. She has the wedding tomorrow, so if she doesn't do it now then it will have to wait until Sunday." He did not add that he knew Vic would want that little bit of space to herself as well, away from any arguments Dom and Louis might be having; Ted knew that Genie was to be introduced to Bill and Fleur at King's Cross and he couldn't see Dom being too happy about that - it would make Louis and Genie's relationship that little bit more real to her.

"And she'll want to lay everything out for tomorrow as well."

"Are you going to speak to her tomorrow?"

"About the big stuff - probably not. Its a wedding, and I don't want to take away from that or to come on too strong. And I don't want her to think I'm just saying what I am because we're at a wedding. I've still to see what kind of mood she's in about an actual relationship too."

At some point over the holidays, though, Ted would speak to Vic. It would be the scariest and either the best or worst conversation of his life.

When he got back to his flat, the first thing Ted did was lay out the dress robes Harry had lent him for the wedding. It wasn't an overly early start, so he had time to have a lie-in, a shower and take his time over breakfast before picking up his grandmother. Ted could only vaguely recall the Weasley weddings he had been to, which had always involved a very long day; when Harry and Ginny had got married and Ted had been a ring-bearer, everything seemed to have gone on forever - though that was probably due to his age at the time.

Pouring himself out a butterbeer, Ted permitted his thoughts to turn to Vic. Tomorrow he would finally see her for the first time in a little more than three months. It had been a long three months, and a period Ted could never have managed to get through if he hadn't had some kind of internal strength he hadn't realise he possessed or sweet memories of the night she had kissed him in Harry's garden; kissed him through choice, and not because he had initiated it.

It did worry him that she would perhaps not be looking for a relationship less than two months after splitting up with Evan - but maybe Merlin would be on Ted's side, and Vic would feel the same way as he did. The only thing was, he wanted to ease into the idea of them being more than friends, and not to simply go up to her and announce his feelings for her. Ted did not want to frighten Vic; he just had to find the balance between doing that and being too casual.

He remained relieved that although Ginny seemed to have possibly figured out what was going on, she said nothing to Ted - meaning he wasn't put in a position where he was forced to deny the undeniable.

Lying down in bed as he fell asleep, Ted turned to his right and caught sight of a picture of himself and Vic laughing; it had been taken the previous summer at some Sunday dinner or other at The Burrow. Ted couldn't even remember which one of them had told a joke, or even what it was - or if it were even a joke they were laughing at. All he could see was both of them happy. Together.




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  #52  
Old March 31st, 2012, 12:41 am
MissGryffindor  Female.gif MissGryffindor is offline
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Re: Falling

This one is for Urania, nevillesgal, blueowl and marauderfan!!

Enjoy!


Chapter 51



As Vic sat down to breakfast at the Gryffindor table on the morning of the last day of term, she found herself contemplating the changes that had taken place in her life since term had started back in January. Helping herself to scrambled eggs on toast, she thought about the first meal of term - the dinner at which she had worried so much about Ted and what he thought of their kiss, wondering if he would ever speak to her again - and how Evan had sat next to her in the seat currently occupied by Nat. Vic knew that she had done the right thing where Evan was concerned, and in many ways it was a relief not to feel like she was constantly lying to herself, and to him, every day. Then there was everything that had happened with Dom and Louis; from where Vic sat she could see Louis and Genie enjoying their breakfast a little further down. Ever since the day Dom had found out about them, Genie and Louis had been extremely open about their relationship, holding hands and sharing the odd kiss in public.

"Its been an odd sort of term, in some ways", said Nat, echoing Vic's thoughts as she buttered a piece of toast. "You want the butter?"

"No, I'm fine, thanks. I know what you mean about this term, though. Its been pretty eventful, hasn't it?"

"Yeah. Particularly for you. But aside from the complications that are your life, there's been all our homework, apparition lessons......"

"Definitely."

"Are you worried about what happen during the holidays? With Louis and Dom having to spend more time together?" Nat asked after a few moments in which Vic had stared into space, thinking about the next day when she would meet Ted again for the first time since their kiss had been interrupted by Caro.

"Hmm? A little. But at home it is up to dad and to maman to keep the peace as far as Dom and Louis are concerned. And I can always floo Aunt Ginny, and have a chat over there if the atmosphere gets to bad at home because of them."

"Vic, its your home as much as is Louis or Dom's - you shouldn't let them force you out of it, even for a few hours, just because Louis has a girlfriend Dom isn't too keen on."

"I know. But I do like going over to see Aunt Ginny. I'm looking forward to Al coming here after the summer as well; Aunt Ginny said in her last letter that he's extremely excited about it. But, to be honest, I was actually thinking about Ted." Vic sighed. She hated that the thought of seeing her best friend made her so nervous - so much so that there was a tiny part of her dreaded it in case he treated her differently, that their friendship wasn't as close as it had been before.

"Perhaps it is for the best that you don't see him until the wedding." Vic looked up questioningly at Nat. "I mean that there will be so many people there, not just the two of you. There's less chance of it being awkward. You can ease yourselves into general, group conversations and not be stuck for words like you might be if it were just the two of you."

"I suppose you're right", said Vic slowly as she put down her knife and fork and gave up her scrambled eggs as a bad job; she would have plenty of time to make up for that when the food trolley came past on the train, though Vic would have to be careful how much chocolate and sweets she ate - after all, she wanted to be able to fit into her dress robes for the wedding. Looking at her friend's plate, she saw that Nat had finished her breakfast too and suggested they go back up to their dorm to collect their things.

The train journey to King's Cross seemed to pass by very quickly, and Vic and Nat found a compartment near the back of the train with Dom, her friends Leigh-Anne and Emme, and Emme's Ravenclaw boyfriend Simon. His friends dropped by around lunchtime, and only Vic's prefectly patrol of the corridors interrupted an afternoon of exploding snap and chocolate consumption. There was a slightly awkward moment when they come off the train at the same time as Evan and his friends - who had actually spent the day only a couple of compartments away - were passing. Vic smiled as naturally as she could and told them she hoped they would all enjoy their last holidays from Hogwarts.

"That was very big of you", said Dom as she heaved her trunk onto the platform with the assistance of Simon and his friend Will. "Thanks, guys."

"It wasn't really", replied Vic, shrugging. "I don't know that Evan and I will really stay friends; after all, he's leaving after the summer. But I don't hate him. I've told you before, Dom, it was me that ended it - Felicia will make him so much happier than I ever could. I don't want to go over this again." Dom's shoulders raised and fell slightly, but she made no other motion to show a reaction to what Vic had said to her.

"Let's go through the barrier", said Vic, starting to smile at the thought of seeing her family again. "I can't wait to see maman and dad; Aunt Ginny and Uncle Harry and Lily and Al." Uncle Percy and Aunt Audrey would probably be there too, but they usually returned home quickly, and did not linger in the way that the rest of them did.

"Is Ted not coming?" asked Dom.

"I thought I said?" Vic was sure she had. "The support group he runs won't finish in time this afternoon for him to come down. We'll see him at the wedding tomorrow."

"Surely he could have finished early for once." Vic shot Dom an angry look.

"Ted is committed to this. He wants to really do something for people that suffer the way his father did. So they don't turn out like the one that attacked his father and ours. Besides, this is his career - it would send a bad sign to his bosses at the Ministry, especially those that might not be keen on what he is trying to do, if he left early to meet the train."

"I suppose so. I can't wait to get home. Maman always makes the most amazing dinner the first night back from school." Vic laughed; she knew that part of the reason their mother's cooking always felt so magical was that they were so used to British, Hogwarts food, and the French dishes serves by their mother was a welcome change.

They went through the barrier chatting away about what they were planning to do over the holidays, and bemoaning the homework they had all been given as the end of year exams - even for those not sitting OWLs or NEWTs - were approaching with great speed. Vic instantly noticed Louis had reached their parents first, and was introducing them to Genie. A stiffening in her sister's stance told Vic that Dom had seen them too.

"I'll be over in a few minutes", Dom told her. "I - I have to talk to Leigh-Anne and Emme first." Allowing Dom her excuse, Vic nodded, hugged Nat goodbye and promised to owl her, and then half-walked half-ran over to where her parents, brother, aunt and cousins stood.

"Aunt Ginny, it is so good to see you! I missed you so much!" Vic exclaimed as she hugged her aunt; her parents were still speaking to Louis and Genie and she thought it best to greet her aunt's family first.

"And I missed all of you too!" Vic hugged her uncle and cousins too, before asking where James was.

"Not out yet", said Harry. "Probably talking to his friends."

"That sounds about right", grinned Vic. Her cousin James was probably the most popular student in his year - well, at least he was if the opinions of the Slytherins were discounted.

"And how are you, Vic?" asked Ginny. "You're looking well."

"I'm fine", she replied, knowing what her aunt meant. Like Dom, Ginny wanted to make sure that Vic was over her break-up. It actually made Vic feel a little guilty that they were so concerned, when she knew that it was over something that actually hadn't ended up affecting her that much. They expected her to be fragile, when she really, really wasn't.

"Are you looking forward to tomorrow?" Vic turned to Lily, who seemed to be bouncing on the balls of her feet. Lily nodded excitedly.

"Mummy and I were at the rehearsal earlier, and we practiced everything. I got to miss school as well."

"I would rather go to school than go to a wedding", said Al scornfully.

"Boys", said Vic as she gave Lily a conspiratorial wink. "I'm looking forward to seeing your dress, Lily. And I'm sure that Luna will have the bestest bridesmaid ever."

Lily beamed back at Vic, and asked about her dress.

"I bought new dress robes in Hogsmeade", Vic told her. "They're sort of somewhere between yellow and gold in colour."

"Mummy's wearing a gold dress. She says I can have it when I'm old enough."

"And I'm sure you'll look lovely in it."

"I actually wore a gold dress at your parents' wedding", Ginny told Vic. "Besides, yellow would clash awfully with my hair."

"I love the robes I bought", sighed Vic. "I reserved them at Gladrags in Hogsmeade."

"After you made sure your mother and I would stump up for them, you mean", said her father. Vic turned round and saw the broad grin on his face. When it came down to it, her father had scarcely been able to deny Vic anything.

"Daddy!" She hugged him tightly; Vic only ever referred to her father as 'daddy' when she came back from school, or when she was upset. The rest time it was a mature 'dad' that she called him.

"Maman!" She hugged her mother as soon as she had left her father's arms, and when Dom and James turned up a moment or two later, the group moved off in the direction of the muggle taxi rank to make their journey to the Leaky Cauldron, where Hannah would spoil them with free butterbeer and pumpkin juice.

In times past, Vic would find herself in a taxi with Dom and Louis, while her parents, aunt and uncle travelled together and Ted was comandeered by James. Today - due to Ted's absence and Louis and Dom's estrangement, Vic found herself with Dom and Lily, while Louis travelled with Al and James. Vic felt she had the better part of the bargain; Louis would have to keep Al and James in check without magic while James boasted to his brother (as discreetly as possible) of everything he had got up to while at Hogwarts.

Aware of the muggle taxi driver, Vic permitted Lily to prattle on and on about her dress, and how pretty all the decorations were. All the while, she stared out of the window at the foreign-looking landmarks thinking about how much more real a meeting with Ted felt now that she had left Hogwarts for the holidays. In some ways, it hadn't seemed real when she's spoken to Nat of it only that morning and now it was less than a day away.

There was a little voice in Vic's head that told her scoldingly that she shouldn't be frightened of meeting her best friend. The thing was, as much as she tried to force away her feelings and accept that Ted wanted to be nothing more, Ted was more more than a mere best friend to Vic; he was now the man she had started to fall for. And there was no guarantee when that falling would stop, and Vic would hit the ground.

Eventually they reached the Leaky, Vic handed the taxi driver the appropriate muggle money (along with a tip - having a muggle-born best friend had its advantages) and the three girls entered the pub to be met by a welcoming Hannah.

"How are you all girls? Looking forward to the wedding? I'll get you some butterbeers and pumpkin juice....." As she bustled away and shouted to the barmaid to get some drinks ready, the rest of the family came in, and were greeted as warmly.

Although she felt herself settled in conversation with her mother about getting ready the following day, and making sure that there was enough Sleakeazy in the house, Vic felt herself be pulled aside by Aunt Ginny.

"How are you really?" she asked Vic, scrutinising her closely.

"Fine", smiled Vic. "When I said I was fine earlier, I meant it. I know what you're talking about, and its fine. Merlin, the number of times Dom and I have had this conversation......I really am doing fine."

"Good. I'm glad. It was just that you seemed to be so in love with him - "

"Seemed to be is the right way of putting it", said Vic. She dropped her head.

"Vic?"

"I think I was more in love with the idea of him, of being in love with him - no, not even. I wanted to be in love with him, and I told myself I was."

"But you weren't?" Vic shook her head.

"Not really. Oh, Aunt Ginny, you've no idea how much of a relief it really was to be able to say that, to say some of what I actually felt and not what I thought I should", Vic burst out. "Dom keeps asking if I'm alright with him seeing Felicia now - seems that Nat was right about her liking him - but the truth is she will make him ten times as happy as I ever would. Evan was pretty much the perfect guy.....I suppose that's why maman owled me asking if I was sure, if I'd made a mistake. The thing was, he wasn't the right guy for me."

"I know where you're coming from", Ginny grinned. "I just wanted to make sure you were alright. At new year there seemed to be something else you wanted to talk about when I found you coming in from the cold."

"There was." Vic remembered that night vividly; that kiss, the best she had ever experienced, and then Caro coming along and taking Ted from her. "But it doesn't really matter now. There was - I thought I liked someone else, but he didn't - it came to nothing."

"I liked someone too much and someone else not enough", laughed Vic with a touch of bitterness to her chuckles. "Anyway, it doesn't matter anymore."

Or so she told herself.

They did not linger long at the Leaky; with the wedding the following day they all had preparations to make, and those returning from Hogwarts had to make sure their trunks were unpacked, otherwise they would remain as they were until Sunday. It was a little after quarter to six - much earlier than they usually reached Shell Cottage - that Vic noted the clock above the fireplace read as she brushed off the dust from the floo.

Dom immediately muttered that she wanted to unpack before dinner and dragged her trunk upstairs; when Louis followed suit a couple of moments later and her mother headed to the kitchen to make the final preparations for dinner, her father rounded on Vic.

"They aren't speaking again", he said bluntly.

"Hmmm?"

"Vic, don't insult my intelligence; they haven't spoken a word since they got off the train, and they took separate taxis to the Leaky."

"Yeah", said Vic simply.

"You don't want to be the one that tells on them. That's fine. I take it Dom doesn't like that girl Louis is seeing? That conversation she was having with her friends conveniently ended when Genie McLaggen walked off to see her parents."

"I'm going upstairs." She didn't confirm or deny what he had said, and Vic knew that alone would make her father realise he was right.

"Again!"

Leaving the issue of Dom and Louis for her father to solve, Vic selfishly took her trunk up to her room and laid out the dress robes she had bought to wear to the wedding, thinking only of Ted, and how it would feel to see him again.

Ted glanced up at the clock as he filed everything away at the end of his Friday support group. It was a little after five thirty, and he had promised to be over at the Potters' by six. The Hogwarts Express had been due in about an hour before, and Ted had promised to come over for dinner; with Luna's wedding the next day, they would not be lingering at the Leaky, catching up with everyone as usual. The rehearsal had been earlier that day, and an excited Lily had been allowed to miss the last day of term at her muggle school.

It was a mark of how committed he was to this group that he had owled Vic only a few days before to say that he wouldn't be at King's Cross to meet the Hogwarts Express. He owed it to everyone that came regularly, and even those that did not, to stick to their regular schedule - and not to change it just because the girl he was falling for was returning from Hogwarts for the holidays. Besides, he would see her tomorrow at the wedding and there would be the rest of the holidays - including his birthday.

On an impulse, Ted decided on his way to the reception area that he would quickly stop by his grandmother's house on his way to Godric's Hollow. They had not determined when he'd been over for dinner last night if they were going to the wedding seperately or together, and Ted wondered if she wanted him to stop by on his way there.

"Grams?!" Ted called a few moments last as he wandered in through the back door.

"Teddy?" replied a surprised voice.

"Yeah, its me." He wandered through the kitchen and saw the tea things; one of her friends must have been over earlier. "I was just on my way over to Harry's and I was wondering if.......oh."

He walked into the sitting room to find his grandmother drinking tea and having cake with a blonde woman of approximately the same age. As Ted looked at the woman sitting to his right, he was aware of the nervousness of his grandmother and checked his temper.

"Teddy, I think you know Cissa", said his grandmother tentatively.

"Hi." Ted nodded in the direction of his grandmother's sister; he could not think of her as his great-aunt - not the woman that had harboured his mother's killer while she was on the run from Azkaban. A voice reminded him that his mother's killer wasn't just Narcissa's sister, but his grandmother's, but he ignored it.

"Hello, Teddy. 'Dromeda has told me so much about you."

"Hopefully it wasn't all bad", he tried to joke in an attempt at politeness.

"Not at all." There was a pause in conversation, as if nobody quite knew what to say, and the air seemed to feel stuffy in spite of the open windows; his appearance had clearly been more unexpected than Ted had anticipated.

"Grams said that your grandson is going to Hogwarts after the summer. Is he looking forward to it?" Ted asked in an attempt to diffuse the tension.

"Scorpius is very much looking forward to going away to school. I fear, however, that he will be dreadfully missed during term-time. I shall not have anyone to spoil!"

"I am sure he will have a great time - I did. And speaking of Hogwarts, I need to go." He turned to his grandmother. "James came back for the holidays today; I just stopped by on my way over there for dinner to ask if you wanted me to pick you up on the way to the wedding tomorrow?"

"That would be lovely", said his grandmother gratefully. "I hate going to weddings alone, thank you Teddy. I meant to ask you when you were over yesterday if you'd sorted out some dress robes."

"Harry is lending me a spare pair of his. In fact, he was going to give them to me tonight. I'll floo over about an hour before the ceremony starts."

"I look forward to it."

"It was nice meeting you", Ted said politely to Narcissa. As he bent down to kiss his grandmother's cheek in farewell, he could hear her whispered thanks for being civil to Narcissa.

"I'll see you tomorrow, Grams."

Ted went through to the kitchen, and then after taking a deep breath he apparated to Godric's Hollow. Calming himself - after all, he was here to see James, back from school and not to offload his issues with Narcissa to Harry and Ginny - Ted forced his face into a pleasant grin and walked through the back door.

"Teddy!" Before he could say a word, Lily had run over to him and wrapped her arms around him in a massive hug. "Teddy, mummy and I went to Auntie Luna's today, and we practiced walking up and down the aisle! I'm so excited - I can't wait for tomorrow!"

"Well, I'm sure you'll do splendidly. The best bridesmaid there ever was."

"Do you really think so?" Lily bit her lip.

"Of course. Now, where is everyone else?"

"Rosie, Hugo and me were playing with Toffee but I came to get us some juice. Mummy and daddy are in the sitting room with Auntie Hermione, Uncle Ron and James, listening to him tell them all about Hogwarts."

"And where's Al?"

"Up in his room. He says it isn't a big deal that James is back." Ted laughed.

"Well, why don't you tell him that I'm here and I want to see him, okay?" Once Lily had nodded and run off, Ted wandered through to the sitting room, where James was in full force with tales of the last Quidditch match.

"It would have been better if I had been able to play too", James was saying. "As much as I don't want one of our players to get injured, if they did, I would get a game before the end of the year."

"I'll tell Dom to watch out then, in case you try and injure her during the holidays", warned Ted with a grin as he took a seat next to the fire.

"Nah, she'd recover by the time it came to the match", said James dismissively.

"Can I get you a drink?" Ginny asked him as she stood up. "Butterbeer or peppermint tea?"

"Ooooh, that's a tough one! Umm.......I'll have peppermint tea just now, and a butterbeer with dinner."

"Good compromise", nodded Ron. "You just finish for the day?"

"Yeah, I have my support group over at St. Mungo's on a Friday afternoon, so I couldn't make it to King's Cross for the train coming in."

"How's it going?" Hermione asked him. "I'm really excited you got a chance to do something like that."

"Me too. Uh, its going well, yeah." He told her about the idea he'd had of making Wolfsbane, and how it was a work-around until the Wizengamot passed a law which gave all werewolves the potion free of charge each full moon.

"And then what will you do when that passes?"

"Retire." They laughed at him, and then Al and Ginny came into the room at the same time, the latter handing Ted a cup of tea.

"Thanks, Ginny. Hey, Al. How are you? Looking forward to the Portree match next Saturday?"

"Yeah, I guess. It should be good."

"Good?" James snorted. "It'll be epic! Think of the seats we'll get.........."

"Dinner won't be long", promised Ginny. "Chicken, ham and leek pie tonight; I had to try and figure out something that everyone would eat, and that could be made quickly. Lily and I only got back from the wedding rehearsal about an hour ago."

"She was telling me about it", chuckled Ted. "I'm not entirely sure she'll sleep tonight."

"Oh, she will", replied Ginny with such certainty in her voice that it left Ted wondering if Lily's bedtime hot chocolate would include a small sleeping potion.

"Ted, remind me to lend you those dress robes before you leave; everything will be hectic enough in the morning without me having to floo them over to you because I've forgotten tonight", said Harry.

"Will do. How soon before it starts are you heading over there? I'm picking up Grams an hour before, but think about it now, I'm wondering if that's too early."

"Well, Lily has to be there quite early, so she and I are heading over there first thing", said Ginny. "But Harry and the boys won't come over until about forty five minutes before. You should bring Andromeda over then, too. Make sure you get an aisle seat, it'll be easier for her."

"Will do", nodded Ted.

It wasn't; long before they went through to dinner, a meal at which he found a newly-returned James and a territorial Al both fighting over who would sit next to him. In the end, Ted put one of them on either side, and Lily opposite him. The meal was the quickest part of the evening, and Ted barely got a word in edgeways as James talked incessantly about Quidditch, and how much he was looking forward to the Portree game. Given how excited he was, Ted hoped that it would last longer than the match he had taken Vic to over the Christmas break.

"How......how was the trip back on the train?" Ted asked James as they finished up their pudding of rhubarb and custard. He was hoping to hear of Vic without actually mentioning her name.

"Same as always", shrugged James nonchalently. Ted grinned at how blase he had become about all thing Hogwarts when he had not yet even finished his first year there. Thinking back, Ted tried to remember if he had acted the same way around Vic when he had started there, and she had not.

"No fights or anything?"

"Nah. Well, some of the Slytherins were hexed, but that was always going to happen. The slimy snakes! You better watch Al - and make sure that you're not in Slytherin when you come to Hogwarts. Well, if you do."

"Of course I'm coming to Hogwarts", retorted Al hotly. "And I WON'T be in Slytherin. I WON'T!"

"James, leave off teasing your brother", warned Harry. "Are you both finished? Well, you can leave the table." Al and James both left - Ted assumed to go separately to their rooms - and so Lily, Rosie and Hugo asked to be let away.

"I don't know what annoys me more", said Ginny as she removed the pudding dishes. "The two of them arguing, or the two of them apart acting all sullen and taciturn because the other one isn't there."

"Do you have any more plans for this evening, Ted?" Harry asked as he attempted to change the subject. "Are you meeting your friends at the Leaky or.....anything?"

"No, I don't." He picked up on the hint about Vic. Ted knew he shouldn't feel awkward about fielding questions about seeing her - after all, Vic was his best friend - but there was a little part that did. Because Ted didn't want her to just be his best friend.

"I wanted to get a good sleep tonight; tomorrow is going to be a long day", he elaborated. "The truth is, I'm far too sensible and responsible for my own good!"

A little later on in the evening, when they went upstairs so Harry could locate the dress robes he had promised to lend Ted for the wedding, his godfather did bring up the subject of Vic.

"You're not going over to Shell Cottage tonight, then?" he asked Ted as he opened the wardrobe.

"Nope. Aside from anything else, Vic will want to unpack everything tonight. She has the wedding tomorrow, so if she doesn't do it now then it will have to wait until Sunday." He did not add that he knew Vic would want that little bit of space to herself as well, away from any arguments Dom and Louis might be having; Ted knew that Genie was to be introduced to Bill and Fleur at King's Cross and he couldn't see Dom being too happy about that - it would make Louis and Genie's relationship that little bit more real to her.

"And she'll want to lay everything out for tomorrow as well."

"Are you going to speak to her tomorrow?"

"About the big stuff - probably not. Its a wedding, and I don't want to take away from that or to come on too strong. And I don't want her to think I'm just saying what I am because we're at a wedding. I've still to see what kind of mood she's in about an actual relationship too."

At some point over the holidays, though, Ted would speak to Vic. It would be the scariest and either the best or worst conversation of his life.

When he got back to his flat, the first thing Ted did was lay out the dress robes Harry had lent him for the wedding. It wasn't an overly early start, so he had time to have a lie-in, a shower and take his time over breakfast before picking up his grandmother. Ted could only vaguely recall the Weasley weddings he had been to, which had always involved a very long day; when Harry and Ginny had got married and Ted had been a ring-bearer, everything seemed to have gone on forever - though that was probably due to his age at the time.

Pouring himself out a butterbeer, Ted permitted his thoughts to turn to Vic. Tomorrow he would finally see her for the first time in a little more than three months. It had been a long three months, and a period Ted could never have managed to get through if he hadn't had some kind of internal strength he hadn't realise he possessed or sweet memories of the night she had kissed him in Harry's garden; kissed him through choice, and not because he had initiated it.

It did worry him that she would perhaps not be looking for a relationship less than two months after splitting up with Evan - but maybe Merlin would be on Ted's side, and Vic would feel the same way as he did. The only thing was, he wanted to ease into the idea of them being more than friends, and not to simply go up to her and announce his feelings for her. Ted did not want to frighten Vic; he just had to find the balance between doing that and being too casual.

He remained relieved that although Ginny seemed to have possibly figured out what was going on, she said nothing to Ted - meaning he wasn't put in a position where he was forced to deny the undeniable.

Lying down in bed as he fell asleep, Ted turned to his right and caught sight of a picture of himself and Vic laughing; it had been taken the previous summer at some Sunday dinner or other at The Burrow. Ted couldn't even remember which one of them had told a joke, or even what it was - or if it were even a joke they were laughing at. All he could see was both of them happy. Together.




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  #53  
Old April 7th, 2012, 1:06 am
MissGryffindor  Female.gif MissGryffindor is offline
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Re: Falling

To those who regularly leave me feedback - and you know who you are - thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Here we go......time for Ted and Vic to meet again.............


Chapter 52



For once in her life, Vic made a conscious decision to get up early; she knew that it would take her a while to get ready for the wedding and wanted to be first to get a bath. Lying in the hot soapy water and forcing her eyes to remain open, she mentally thought through everything that had to be done before she went to the wedding. After her bath there was the Sleakeazy potion to be applied (Vic had decided to wear her hair in long, loose curls) as well as getting dressed and applying a little make-up. Vic had quickly tried on her new dress robes again last night before going to bed, so that she could show them off to her mother, and they fitted just as Vic thought they would. No charms to adjust the length would be required.

"Are you going to be much longer? You're not the only one in need of a bath before the wedding, you know", came Dom's impatient voice as Vic washed out the last of the conditioner in her hair.

"I'll just be a few minutes", Vic called back. "It really won't make that much of a difference!"

As much as Vic said a few more minutes wouldn't really make them late, Dom was still unamused when Vic came out of the bathroom. Her sister was sitting on the stairs nearby, bathrobe and towels in hand. She also pointed out to Vic that when she wanted to be up early, she could be.

The ceremony was due to start at half past one, and when Vic had modelled the new dress robes for her mother the previous evening she had been told to be ready to leave the house at quarter past so they could get good seats and be able to sit together.

It did not take Vic long to get ready, as she had laid everything out the night before and had already decided what she was going to wear and how her hair was going to be styled. Part of the reason that Vic had a reputation within the family for taking so long to get ready was her tendency to wait until the last minute to make such decisions and try at least a dozen outfits on before deciding on something.

Pulling on the robes and then looking at herself in the mirror, Vic took a deep breath. In just an hour - probably less - she would finally get to see Ted again. It had been more than three months since the night they had kissed, and last seen each other, and Vic had missed her best friend. There had been times in letters when Vic had even held back saying just how much she missed him in case it made him feel uncomfortable after what had happened between them.

Today she would be a best friend; she would hug him, say that she had missed him and that they would have to catch up over the holidays - perhaps including a repeat of the night at his flat after the Magpies game so she could meet Mari and Katya again; she would ask after Andromeda, and find out more about the support group he now ran; she would even complain about her holiday homework and talk about the nerves she felt concerning the Apparition test that she would sit a few days after her seventeenth birthday. Vic would not, she told herself firmly, repeat anything that had happened in her aunt and uncle's garden.

But if he....no, he would not.

"Are you feeling alright?" her father asked as Vic wandered into the kitchen. He was drinking a cup of tea, and wearing plain black dress robes.

"Why? What's wrong with me? I thought I looked nice", she said in a hurt voice.

"Nothing's wrong", he laughed. "Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you. I just meant that you're ready before Dom and Louis. And your mother."

"Oh. Well, I got into the bathroom first, and I got everything ready last night. You decided against wearing sun colours then?"

"Yellow isn't really my colour. I think your mother's done the same as you and bought gold ones. At least, she said she had. It should be fun, and your grandmother is looking forward to seeing you again."

"I miss her too. I miss everyone when I'm at Hogwarts. Then when I'm at home I miss Hogwarts." Her father laughed. "We should have people over while I'm home, though - I...I hardly get to see Aunt Angelina except for in the summer."

"Yeah, I'll be inviting them over very, very soon. Hopefully George can help me knock some sense into your brother and sister. And on that subject, your brother's girlfriend will be coming over for dinner at some point. Make sure you're home then? It'll probably help him. It'll help me out too."

"Will do."

"And you? You're not too down about finishing with Evan? I know you said you were the one that ended it, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't get to you."

"I'm fine. I should have done it a long time before I actually did. To be honest, I don't think I was a very good girlfriend."

"I'm sure that's not true. You'll get to see Ted again at the wedding. Ginny said he couldn't make it yesterday because Friday's one of the days he's over at St. Mungo's."

"Yeah. I can't wait to see him! Its strange not having my best friend around. I mean, I write to him two or three times a week, but its not the same. Not really."

"Zere, zat is me ready to go." Vic turned to see her mother coming into the room. "Victoire, ma petite......'ow beautiful you look! Like an angel! You will be ze belle of ze wedding. Is your seester nearly ready?"

"I'll go and check."

As he broke up his second piece of toast to give it to the owl that had just delivered his Daily Prophet, Ted berated himself for feeling like a fourteen year old girl. The nerves he felt about seeing Vic again were so bad he couldn't even finish his breakfast, and looking at him some people might be forgiven in thinking it was his own wedding Ted would be attending.

Giving up breakfast as a bad job, he went through to his bedroom where the dress robes Harry had lent him were hanging up in front of his wardrobe. They were navy blue, and Ted morphed his hair slightly darker so that there were fewer shades between the two. He smiled at the remembrance of Vic telling him when she was younger that she wished she could be a metamorphmagus so she could always match her hair to what she was wearing.

Once he was dressed, Ted apparated over to his grandmother's house; he had said that he would pick her up about an hour before the ceremony, but she would not mind if he was a little early.

"Grams?" Ted called as he wandered into the house through the back door; at least today there would certainly be no chance of him walking in on his grandmother drinking tea with her mostly estranged sister.

"Teddy?" a voice shouted back from the distance. "I shall be down in a few moments."

"Okay." He sat down on the sofa and opened the Daily Prophet, which he had not perused before leaving his flat, and started reading an article Ginny had written about the culmination of the Quidditch season - which teams were likely to be challenging for the league and which would be attempting to avoid finishing last.

"You're early", commented his grandmother as she entered the room, affixing her earrings.

"I wasn't aware that was a crime, but I'll make sure to sentence myself to Azkaban next time I commit it", grinned Ted.

"Funny, Teddy."

"I try", he shrugged. In truth, he had wanted to avoid moping around his flat thinking of Vic like a love-sick puppy - but that was not something he could openly admit to his grandmother.

"I'm glad you're early, actually. I wanted to say thank you for yesterday."

"Thank you?"

"For not - Teddy, you know as well as I do that Narcissa is not your favourite person. You could have made that perfectly clear to her yesterday, but you did not. You were polite. I was very proud of you."

"Thanks, I think. I - as much as Narcissa is not exactly someone I want around, I know that she's your sister, and that - that means something to you."

"It doesn't to you?"

"She sheltered the woman that killed my mother for more than two years. The mere fact that she had time for the woman that killed my mother.......I know that Harry says she spared his life during the Battle of Hogwarts, but to me she will always be associated with Bellatrix."

"Bella was my sister too."

"I know. But you left. You chose my grandfather. I can separate you from THAT woman more than I can Narcissa. And its not just that - I want to make sure that Narcissa is genuine. I don't want her...." I don't want her to hurt you again. "I want to make sure that if you make things up with her, its for good and not just temporary."

"I'm very lucky to have you, Teddy", said his grandmother softly as she sat down next to him and laid a hand on his arm. "Most boys your age wouldn't have half the time for their grandmothers you do for me, and I understand you wanting to protect me from Narcissa. Truly. But....if she hurts me again then it'll be after I at least gave her a chance. The war changed Cissa; it made her realise what was important to her, and it made her realise how wrong Bella was. I think that when we were younger, Cissa felt like Sirius and I did more often than she wanted, or said. She just didn't want to be a disappointment like we were."

"Has she said so?"

"No. But that doesn't mean it isn't so. And now we should be thinking about apparating to this wedding. I must say, those robes Harry lent you are lovely. We must get you some of your own soon, though. Now you are working at the Ministry there may be functions you must attend in such attire. I should have thought of it before, but you are too like your mother - too much of a rebel."

"Yeah, I think I should get some of my own as well. And you look lovely too." Ted smiled at his grandmother in her dark green robes; he did not mention that he thought that in her own way, she too had been a rebel at his age.

"Thank you, Teddy." She took his arm, and Ted felt the swooping sense of apparition and closed his eyes, opening them again moments later to see a large marquee set up in a field next to the house Luna had rebuilt and lived in after the war with her father, until his death a few years earlier.

There were a lot of people around, and Ted noted a group wearing fancier dress robes than the others, and looking a little like Rolf - perhaps these were the large family of cousins that had been mentioned as being involved in the wedding ceremony. He looked around for anyone that they might now, and eventually saw Harry coming from the direction of The Burrow, which was nearby, with James and Al in tow. Ginny had been due to come over to the house with Lily early in the morning, leaving Harry to deal with his two sons. Seeing his godfather more clearly, Ted felt that Ginny had by far gained the better part of the bargain, as Al and James were finely positioned on either side of Harry, and looked to be arguing about something.

"Enough!" he could just hear Harry saying to the two of them. "We are going to a wedding and you WILL behave. You will sit quietly during the service, you will eat the food put in front of you during the dinner, and if Lily asks, you will tell your sister that she was an excellent bridesmaid. If you don't do all of these things, your mother will be speaking to you first thing tomorrow morning, and you won't be going to Quidditch with Ted next Saturday."

Ted saw James and Al nod, and heard them grumble, and grinned; Al and James had always been far more scared of their mother than their father, and Harry knew it. He called and waved over to his godfather.

"Morning. How are you both?" Harry asked politely as he and his sons came over to them. Ted nodded at his harassed godfather, while his grandmother thanked Harry for lending Ted some dress robes. "No problem. If only everyone was as easy to please as Ted is!"

"I'm easy pleased", James insisted. "Just let me play or watch Quidditch all day."

"We should probably go in and get some seats", said Harry hastily. The group started to move towards the entrance to the marquee, and were met by an usher that Ted assumed was related to Rolf; the man was his spitting image.

"Bride or groom?" he asked.

"Bride", Ted and Harry responded. The usher indicated the left hand side of the marquee, and the five of them started to walk in. Looking down the aisle, the first thing that Ted noticed was Vic, turning round in her seat to speak to Angelina, who sat directly behind her; she was concentrating on the conversation and did not look up or see him. The two of them were laughing, and Ted wondered just how it were possible that she had grown so much more beautiful in the three months they had been apart.

"Wow", he breathed.

"Yes, it is beautifully decorated", his grandmother commented.

"Huh? Oh, yeah." Ted looked up at the levitated fairies and stars at the top of the marquee, and the sunflowers that were entwined with the backs of each and every seat.

"Teddy, I would like to sit here." His grandmother indicated two aisle seats about halfway down.

"We'll go further forward, and see you after", said Harry as he, Al and James started to walk on to where Vic was sitting, and only when they sat down in the row in front, did Ted realise they had taken seats next to Ron, Hermione, Rosie and Hugo.

As Dom whispered in her ear that the ceremony was about to start, Vic ended her conversation with Aunt Angelina and turned round to face the front. She loved occasions like this for themselves, but also as a means of bringing the whole family together. Vic had not seen her aunt since the turn of the year, though she had written more than once, and had listened to stories of Angelina's own family, and of how Roxie and Freddie were doing, as well as telling her aunt about her term at Hogwarts and reminding her to come and visit as much as she wanted over the holidays.

The conversation with Angelina had served another purpose, though Vic hated to think of it; it had kept her mind - temporarily at least - off the matter of Ted, who must by now be mere metres away. As Rolf appeared at the front beside another man in dress robes, and one in Ministry attire, the music started and everybody stood. Turning round to see Luna walk down the aisle, Vic smiled softly at the sight of her in a flowing white dress, that had a sort of ethereal beauty about it. Lily walked behind her, the only bridesmaid, beaming as widely as Vic had ever seen her. She was in her element, and Vic knew that this would be the only subject her cousin would speak of in the days to come.

As Luna came closer, Vic could see him standing just a few rows back from her - how long had he been there? - Ted.

Listening to Luna and Rolf exchange their vows, to the words of the Ministry wizard marrying them, to the love song that a musically misguided friend of Rolf's had composed and now sung for them, Vic could feel her heart beating wildly at the thought of her best friend, sitting nearby. She quietened it, knowing that the only way their friendship would survive was if it returned to how it was a year and a half before. She would behave as she always had around Ted; and discover how good an actress she was in the process.

They were not able to speak until after the service was over, and Luna had become Mrs. Rolf Scamander; as the bridal party went to the back of the house to take some photographs with the hills behind them as the backdrop, Vic took in a deep breath and walked over to where Ted and Andromeda stood.

"Ted!" Vic called his name with a smile, and as he turned round she saw a similarly large grin on his face. Sighing with relief, Vic hugged her best friend tightly and said that she had missed him more than anything while away at Hogwarts.

"I miss everyone when I'm at school, and the castle when I'm at home", she added before turning to Andromeda. "I'm so pleased to see you, too. I was so worried - we all were - when I got to school that day and Professor Longbottom told us all what had happened to you."

"Thank you", smiled Andromeda. "I....was lucky. I had excellent Healers, and a grandson that found me just in time. And how did you find the service? I thought it lovely; I wish sometimes that Ted and I could have had a proper wedding. Eloping always sounds so romantic, but the reality is that there are so few people to remember it with you."

"I loved it", replied Vic. "And I adored Luna's dress. It was so plain, and yet so elegant; so flowy and graceful."

"Definitely. And Lily looked lovely in her bridesmaid's dress. Ginny and Harry must be so proud of her."

"Yeah, I can see her wanting to wear it when we go to Gramma's for dinner tomorrow." Vic smiled at the thought of it, and then turned to Ted. "So, you and I appear to be on kiddie patrol at dinner."

"What?" He looked a little confused, like he hadn't heard much of the conversation that had just taken place, and Vic worried for a moment that he thought her too full-on.

"Have - haven't you seen the tables for dinner? There was a seating chart on the left at the entrance to the marquee. You and I are at a large table with the cousins - well, not all of them of course....Lily has to sit up at the top table with Luna, Rolf and the best man. But we have Louis and Dom, Al and James, Freddie and Roxie, Rosie and Hugo, and Molly and Lucy."

"Oh."

"Yeah, I would have liked that to have been split in two, but at least neither of us will have to worry about our table manners!" Vic joked.

"That's true."

After speaking to Ted and Andromeda about nothing in particular for a while, Vic returned to her sister and parents until dinner was ready to be served; Louis was speaking, Vic could see, to Uncle George. From the movements she could see, they appeared to be comparing their experiences of playing Beater on the Gryffindor team. It was not long, however, until a strange looking wizard exited the marquee and announced in a squeaky voice that dinner was ready.

As she took her seat at a round table with the number seven on it with Dom on her left, Vic expected Rosie or Roxie to sit down on the other side of her - as the eldest, the younger girls tended to look up to her - but was surprised a few moments later when a slightly breathless Ted sat down on her right.

"Oh", said Vic in surprise.

"Did...did you want one of the girls to sit next to you?" Ted asked. He looked a little uncertain and Vic had an urge to hug him.

"I just thought that you would end up on the other side of the table with James and Al on either side, and I wouldn't get a chance to talk to you until after we'd eaten", said Vic honestly; after all, that was usually how things ended up when the cousins were together.

"Well, I got to spend time with Al and James last night, and now I want to catch up with my best friend", said Ted firmly. "Maybe Rosie and Hugo or Freddie and Roxie will get here first, and stop any arguments."

Vic laughed, and muttered that she hoped for Ted's sake that would be the case; in the end, Louis was the next arrival, and he was hailed by Ted to sit next to him.

"Your grandmother is looking a lot better, I thought", said Vic. "Is that - is that something recent?"

"She is. It was a pretty slow process, but thank Merlin she's alright now. I was so freaked out that night I found her; to be honest, there was part of me that thought I might be too late. But it all worked out. I take it the thing you wrote to me about is still slightly unresolved?" Ted said that last part under his breath, as Dom and Louis were each sat on either side of them.

"Yeah, pretty much. But I'm hoping that will change over the holidays."

It did not take long for the cousins to assemble, and as Vic could have predicted, both Al and James were disappointed not to find a seat next to Ted, though the latter seemed to think he had scored a minor victory over his younger brother by sitting next to Louis. At Vic's instruction, Roxie and Freddie sat next to Dom; she wanted to keep a close eye on the two most likely to start a food fight.

Looking around the room, she could see Andromeda sat next to her grandparents - Ted would be pleased of that, that she would not be surrounded by strangers; Aunt Ginny and Uncle Harry were sitting at a small table next to that of the bridal party with Uncle Ron, Aunt Hermione and Neville (she always found it strange, moving between calling him Neville and Professor Longbottom) and Hannah; her parents were with Aunt Angelina and Uncle George, Aunt Audrey and Uncle Percy and a few other people Vic vaguely recognised but could not recall the names of.

"Um, what is this?" Vic muttered to Ted when their first course had been served.

"Boar meat with a salsa salad", said Ted, reading off a menu Vic hadn't noticed.

"Oh."

"Not into boar meat?"

"Not really", Vic admitted. "You?"

"I'm a guy; if its food, I'll try it." Vic laughed, and by the time she had finished doing so, Ted had swapped the boar meat on her plate for the salad on his.

"Figured you're more of a salad person than I am", he shrugged.

"Thank you. But what about the salad? How does that match up with being male and therefore trying all sorts of food?"

"I said 'try' not 'eat', Vic", he retorted through a mouthful of food. "I have tried salad before, and prefer not to eat it."

"Fair enough", she smiled, glad that they seemed to have slipped into their old friendship without any excessive awkwardness. Vic felt simultaneously happy and sad that everything seemed like it was before.

Munching away at the chocolate cheesecake and ice cream that had been served for desert, Ted felt a sense of relief that he and Vic had been able to get on as well as they had today. It could have been incredibly awkward - for all the letters they had exchanged over the past three months, the last time they had seen each other, Ted had wandered off to dump Caro for good mere moments after Vic had kissed him, something he had been dreaming about for months. But it had felt natural, and given the nervousness he knew he had displayed, Ted was well aware that the comfortable atmosphere they had drifted in was due to Vic, and not to himself.

"This is amazing", breathed Vic as she took the last bite of her pudding. "Perhaps I shouldn't have eaten it all - I don't want my robes to fit too neatly - but it was so chocolatey I had too!"

"Yeah, I get that feeling quite a lot", nodded Ted. That was pretty much the understatement of the year; Ted couldn't remember ever being in the presence of chocolate and not wanting to devour it.

"Surprising." Vic smiled and rolled her eyes at him. Ted laughed.

"What do you have planned for the rest of the holidays?"

"Nothing much, actually. I was really just hoping to catch up with everyone. Last Easter I was studying for my OWLs, and next year it'll be my NEWTs. I do have quite a few essays to do, and a couple of Runes translations, but the rest of the time is completely free."

"In that case you will be free to use the ticket Wes gave me for you the other day - its for the match I'm taking Al and James to next Saturday, and he says after the match you're invited over to Katya's for something to eat and a few drinks."

"Oh! That would be great. I was actually quite disappointed that the Christmas holidays were so short - I wanted to spend more time getting to know Mari and Katya and catching up with Wes and Rowland than I did."

"Excellent! I'm going over to see Wes tomorrow after dinner; I'll tell him then. And before I forget, I have a few days off next week - I've got the support group on Tuesday and Friday for a few hours each time, but the rest of the week is mine, away from work. Its not until I started at the Ministry that I truly began to appreciate just how long the Hogwarts holidays are!"

"Thinking about a change in career direction and becoming a teacher?" Vic smiled wryly.

"Nah. What I'm doing now will never make my fortune or give me great holidays, but its just right for me."

"Well, when we get a chance over the holidays I want to hear all about your support group. Come over one day, and we'll go down to the beach with Dom or Louis and you can tell me everything you've been able to work out for it."

"Sounds good." Considering them both friends, Ted felt a little guilty at his wish that Dom or Louis would not be there. The thought of spending ages on the beach with Vic - just the two of them - even just talking, was blissful to Ted.

After dinner, drinks were served while the band set up, and waiters walked among everyone, handing out glasses of champagne and pumpkin juice. Vic took a single glass of champagne, and stood chatting to Ted about the party Harry was organising for his forthcoming birthday. All the family were invited, along with some of Ted's friends; Ted told Vic that Harry and Ginny had said he should invite Wes and Katya, and he was amused at the thought of James going back to Hogwarts saying how he had partied with a famous Quidditch player.

"It sounds like it'll be a lot of fun", smiled Vic. She was starting to really get comfortable being around Ted again and falling back into being the best friends they had always been. "And from a selfish point of view, like I said earlier I want to get to know Mari and Katya better - and I've got more chance of doing that with them coming to your party."

"I'll ask Wes tomorrow when I tell him you can come next week, then."

"Good. And you'll be pleasing yourself, me and James." Ted laughed.

"I'm going to go and see how Grams is and get another drink - do you want one?"

"Yes, I think so. One more won't do me any harm." Just as long as I stay away from the firewhiskey. As Vic watched Ted wander away to where Andromeda sat with her grandparents, she reflected on their conversations so far; it had filled her with more nerves than she had thought possible, discovering they would be at the same table for dinner, but everything had worked out alright and they had talked about things they would always have talked about. In the midst of a heavy sigh, Vic found herself joined by Ginny.

"Knut for them", her aunt smiled.

"Nothing - just thinking about how lovely the wedding was, really. How are you - how's Lily? She was so good during the service, and I'm not sure she's going to come down from the clouds for at least a couple of days."

"Oh, she's fine. She and Audrey are swapping opinions on how a wedding should go."

"Poor Lily."

"Poor Audrey. Its strange....you know the first wedding I properly remember going to was your parents'."

"Really?" Ginny nodded.

"It wasn't the first one I'd been to, but it was the first one I could really remember. How about you?"

"Yours. I remember lots of things - I remember my dress, and how maman was cooing over it; I remember Gramma crying a lot; I remember the flowers - lilies. And I remember Ted and I running around a lot at the reception. I could only have been very little, but I do remember."

"And you were both asleep on Andromeda and Fleur's knees by the end of the night", laughed Ginny. "Never mind the noise, the two of you were completely oblivious to it."

"I've always wanted to get married on the beach", Vic confided. "Living next to one, you become attached to it. Even in winter."

"Not thinking about getting married anytime soon, though, are you? I know that we're supposed to be pure-bloods, but you are only sixteen!" Vic scoffed.

"No. Not anytime soon". She glanced over to where Ted stood, chatting to Andromeda and her grandparents and recalled what she had confessed to Ginny the previous day. "And anyway, I have nobody to marry. Evan and I split up - not that I could ever have married him; I didn't want him enough and in the end we would have made each other miserable - and I can't see myself with anyone else at the moment."

"Not even this mysterious boy that you like too much?"

"He...he doesn't like me that way, so it doesn't really matter." Vic looked down.

"I thought that about Harry once. Maybe he just needs time." Vic looked up again, and her eyes once more drifted in the direction of Ted.

"I don't think so. He made his point very clear."

"You told him how you felt?"

"In a way - I kissed him. While I was still with Evan. And he may not have said anything back, but sometimes silence speaks louder than words. No, its best I try to forget about it. It....it would wreck a lot of things and affect a lot of people if I don't."

"Why? Does he have a girlfriend at the moment?"

"No. But he did - its not just that. It really is for the best if I try to forget him." She forced her eyes away from Ted and faced Ginny.

"If it is meant to be, it'll work out; Harry and I did." Vic nodded and smiled. "Vic - is this what you wanted to talk to me about? That night, at the party?"

"Yeah. In a way part of it doesn't really matter anymore, now that Evan is out of the picture."

"Vic...I....I hope it works out for you, and if you want to talk about it more, you know where I am. Seriously. I think I know who it is, but I won't say anything else about it now; I don't want you to say I'm right and then regret telling me later. But come and see me over the holidays and if you want to, we'll talk about it properly - go for a walk alone, away from everyone else"

"Okay", whispered Vic. Perhaps she really was that obvious when it came to showing her feelings about Ted. She knew Ginny could have been thinking of someone else, but somehow Vic didn't believe that to be possible.

Ted returned with her drink not long after Ginny had gone to check that Al and James were behaving themselves, and a flushed Vic took it from him with a stammered thanks. Ginny's words had inadvertantly made her feel more self-conscious around Ted, and she was back where she'd started the day, worrying about what she said and how she acted when he was there. Luckily, Lily, Roxie and Rosie came over not long after the band had started to play some music, pleading with her to dance with them.

An hour later, Ted was sat quietly and mostly alone at a table near the entrance to the marquee, watching the dance floor. Luna and Rolf appeared to be engaged in some strange dance that Ted was unfamiliar with, and Molly and Arthur were showing everyone how it should really be done, but Ted only had eyes for Vic. She danced with her younger cousins, smiling away, looking happy and full of fun. Rosie and Lily were on either side of her, with Roxie opposite; all four were holding hands and swinging each other about. Ted would much prefer Vic to dance with him, but she didn't seem to want to move away from the other three.

"How are you?" Harry took a seat beside him.

"Fine. You?"

"Better than you, it would seem."

"Yeah."

"How has it been? I know its been a long time since you and Vic have actually seen each other, and with what happened the last time....."

"Its actually been quite good - no awkwardness or anything."

"Then why are you sitting in the corner like your world has just come to an end? Its a wedding - a celebration. Ted, even if things don't work out the way you want them to with Vic you still have a lot to be happy about."

"I am happy, even if I don't look it. I just wish she would come back over so we can talk....about random rubbish that doesn't mean anything other than its her that's saying it. Merlin, I sound like a fourteen year old girl sometimes."

"No, you don't. I took countless bludgers in Quidditch practice because I was too busy thinking about - and staring at - Ginny. I even prolonged practice sessions so I could spend more time with her."

"She know that?"

"I thought so before, but I know for sure now", said Ginny, sitting down next to them with a mischievous grin on her face. "And luckily for you, I enjoyed Quidditch practice. I actually came over to find out if my husband wanted to assist me in embarrassing our eldest son by dancing together."

"Your husband accepts", said Harry with a nod. "And asks that you remember this is not an area in which he has any skill."

"Hmm.......I suppose there wasn't anything in our wedding vows about dancing skills."

"Nope."

"Let's go then; we have some embarrassing to do." They walked away a little, before Ginny quickly came back over to Ted and picked up the small handbag she had laid down on the table.

"Oh, and Ted - I know its none of my business, but if you want to dance with my god-daughter, then you're going to need to move from this table and go over and ask her."

"But - what - don't know - " Ted spluttered.

"Don't insult your intelligence or mine; some people just look - I see. Though not in a Divination way. More of a seeing people staring way."

As Ginny left a stunned Ted behind, it took a few minutes for him to realise she was right, and summoning his Gryffindor bravery he set down his drink and stood up, before walking into the middle of the dance floor where Vic was with her cousins.

"Hey, do you mind if I steal your cousin Victoire for a dance?" he asked.

"If you dance with us later", negotiated Lily.

"Its a deal, Lily bean. And I want to dance with the bestest bridesmaid in the world first." Vic laughed as Lily nodded, and the three girls then moved away to dance on their own.

"I should actually thank you for rescuing me", admitted Vic as she took Ted's proferred hand. "They have a lot more energy than I do - particularly Roxie and Lily. Rosie is the sedate one of the three."

"Your thanks are welcome", Ted replied with a mock-bow. He was pleased that it seemed to be a fast dance, and he and Vic found themselves giggling a lot as they swung each other around.

"I'm quite glad you asked me - you're the only guy I'm not related to that I know. It would be awful going home having only danced with Louis, my dad or one of the uncles."

"Where is Louis? I haven't seen much of him since dinner."

"Lily said he was talking Quidditch with Al and James; Dom has been catching up with the aunts and uncles."

"They're still not talking?"

"Not really; Genie is meant to be coming over for dinner one day during the holidays so dad and maman can get to know her. Dad says he wants me there to help he and maman mediate."

"Sounds fun."

"Not likely. I wish we could go back to how it was before, when all they fought about was things like toys - arguments that were forgotten within half an hour." They chatted away through the whole of that song, and the next three, until suddenly a slightly slower song started.

"Oh", said Vic softly as Ted made an instant decision to pull her in closer. He held her hand tightly, hoping that his palm wasn't sweating too much, and attempted to lead them in the dance. He thought he heard a soft, contented sigh coming from Vic but figured it was probably wishful thinking. Ted didn't have too much time to contemplate it, though; mostly he was worried that Vic would be able to hear the hammering of his heart or correctly interpret the way he ran his fingers through her soft, loose curls as they stood closely together, her head eventually ending up on his shoulder.

Ted didn't want the dance to end - in fact, he would have been quite happy for it to go on all night long - but eventually it did, and he smiled softly at Vic as she lifted her head from his shoulder and faced him.

"Do you want to dance to the next song as well?" he asked. Vic shook her head.

"Actually, I would like to go outside for a bit. With dancing before.......its been more than an hour, and I'm roasting hot! Some air would be good." Ted felt awful as he watched Vic walk out of the marquee on her own, hoping that he hadn't scared her. Had he made it too obvious how he felt during that last song?

Feeling a further surge of his Gryffindor bravery, he asked a passing waiter for a drink, charmed it into water, and started to follow Vic. After all, if she were really that warm, a cold glass of water would be welcome, would it not?

"Here; I brought you some water", said Ted as he approached Vic. He noticed straight away that although she had begged for fresh air, she shivvered as if she had been punged into a vat of cold water. Ted cast a warming charm as she took the glass from him.

"Thank you."

"I didn't know my dancing was that bad", he said, trying to make her laugh. "I know I'm clumsy, and even I was shocked that I didn't tread on your new dress robes and tear them...."

Vic laughed.

"That's what I was going for. Vic.....is there something wrong?" A sense of dread filled him; did she regret ending her relationship with Evan, and had a realisation of it been sparked off by the wedding, or his dancing with her?

"Did I do something wrong?" he amended.

"What? No - Ted, you are my best friend. You could never do anything wrong by me."

Best friend. Somehow, tonight he despised that term.

"Then what is it? Something has upset you, Victoire. I know you too well not to be able to figure it out. Please tell me. I want to fix it for you."

"And if you couldn't?" She turned away from him.

"I would do my best to. Vic, you mean everything to me. You are everything to me....please - tell me what's wrong?"

"Its nothing - not really - a mistake", muttered Vic. He moved round to stand in front of her, and saw that her eyes glistened with unshed tears. Who (or what) had brought Vic, the girl he wanted more than anything in the world, to this?

Ted instantly pulled Vic into a hug and felt her sag against him and then hug back. They stood like that for a few moments and then separated. He looked at her, seeing something he couldn't identify in her eyes, and then allowed instinct and the three glasses of champagne he had drunk while she was dancing with Rosie, Lily and Roxie to take over.

He kissed Vic, and felt her almost completely buckle at the knee as she kissed him back. Three months of longing and hope and regret rushed through Ted as he poured everything he had ever felt for his best friend - for his more than best friend - into that kiss. If nothing ever happened between them beyond tonight, he would always have this remembrance.

"I'm sorry", gasped Vic as they broke apart for breath. "I shouldn't have....I know that you - "

"What do you have to be sorry about?" Ted asked her, puzzled. "It was me that kissed you."

"It was? It was..." Vic muttered to herself.

"Vic.....?" Ted wanted to make sure. "How much champagne did you have?"

"A glass and a half. Why?" So it wasn't the alcohol talking. Did she - did Vic - had she thought she'd kissed him? Perhaps the time had come to be honest. He had, after all, intended to talk to her soon anyway.

"Vic, I broke up with Caro because I couldn't stop thinking about you", he blurted out. "I didn't want her to make a scene, so I took her back to my flat to break up with her - and only for that reason. The truth is, even before she walked out of that restaurant the day the Hogwarts Express came in before Christmas, I......I wanted to end it because it wasn't her I wanted. It was you. There. I've said it. You can hate me if you want to - "

That seemed to bring Vic out of her reverie.

"I could never, ever hate you, Ted, and if you think that I didn't want - I told Evan I kissed you. That's part of the reason we broke up. I told him I didn't love him, and I wanted someone else. I didn't tell him who, but he told me after that he knew it was you. The thing is, in a way, its always been you", burst out Vic. "Evan was sweet, smart, funny and pretty much the perfect guy. He just wasn't right for me - because I didn't want him. I wanted you. I want you. You."

Before either of them could break, Ted kissed her again, this time with more passion, more meaning; Vic wanted HIM; for the life of him Ted could not figure out why, but as he wanted her as well, he kept his mouth engaged in other activities.

"Victoire Weasley, will you go out with me?" Ted asked once they had separated and he had taken her hand tightly in his.

"Well, Ted Lupin......after that kiss, I think I'll have to say yes."

"Good." He cupped her chin and drew her face towards his once more, so close that his breath ghosted over her mouth. "And for that, your reward......."




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Last edited by MissGryffindor; April 7th, 2012 at 1:11 am.
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  #54  
Old April 14th, 2012, 1:45 am
MissGryffindor  Female.gif MissGryffindor is offline
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Re: Falling

Thank you sooooooooo much to everyone who read and commented on the last chapter!!! Hope you continue to enjoy this fic from hereon in!

Chapter 53



As she got ready on Tuesday morning, Vic could not remove the broad grin that had been plastered across her face ever since she'd returned home from Luna's wedding. On seeing the look on her face, anyone that did not know her would be forgiven for thinking Vic the newlywed. Dressing herself in a plum knee-length skirt with a matching top and a pair of pretty black flats (plus the bracelets Ted had given her for Christmas) she could think only of one thing - or rather one person - Ted.

After she had agreed to go out with him, they had spent most of the rest of the night dancing and laughing, having agreed that the talking part could wait. And when Ted danced - as promised - with Lily, Roxie and Rosie, Vic sat nearby and clapped them loudly. Perhaps it was her improved mood (or it could have been the amount of champagne consumed by the other guests) but Vic reckoned on everyone seeming a lot happier generally when she and Ted had returned to the marquee.

The next day at The Burrow, they had snuck off for a "walk", and it was then that Vic had discovered just how long she and Ted had both been trying to hide their feelings from each other. When she thought of all those times she had held back because she didn't want to freak him out......and he had felt exactly the same!! Having discussed it properly, they had both determined to keep their relationship a secret for the present. In spite of the length of time both of them had been concealing their true feelings, moving from being friends to being in a relationship was still a massive step for both of them, and they did not want to deal with the added pressure of the entire Weasley family watching their every move.

Vic had even resisted the temptation to owl Nat as soon as she returned from the wedding; she had written a general letter describing the ceremony and the outfits the following morning, and said that she would go into more detail on the Hogwarts Express in a fortnight. Then, and only then, would she tell Nat everything. Vic wanted to tell her in person.

Smiling to herself as she wandered downstairs, Vic hummed a Demented Dementors tune softly to herself and contemplated the blissful day she had planned.....a morning with Ted in Diagon Alley and then an afternoon at the beach with Aunt Angelina, Uncle George and her cousins while he was at St. Mungo's.

"You are in a very good mood zis morning", commented her mother as Vic stepped into the kitchen. "And you are up very early pour toi, Victoire."

"I'm going over to Ted's; I'm sure I mentioned it last night. We're going to do some shopping in Diagon Alley and then go for lunch somewhere." They were going to a restaurant near an antique store far away from the Leaky Cauldon, where Hannah would have caught sight of them holding hands under the table.

"Per'aps", her mother nodded. "Eet is lucky zat I 'ave some 'olidays at ze moment with Angelina and George and ze children coming over zis afternoon. I 'ope zat Teddy eesn't too busy with you visiting so much."

"He's on holiday most of the week; he just has to work this afternoon and Friday afternoon. Besides, we're going to be stopping off at Honeydukes this morning, and you know how Ted is about chocolate - he's worse than I am! Do you need anything from Diagon Alley while I'm there?" Vic opened the cupboard door and took out some cereal, milk and a bowl before opening the cutlery drawer to take out a spoon.

"No, I zink zat we are fine", her mother nodded. "And your 'omework?"

"Already started, and not actually as much of it as usual, luckily enough." Vic sat down at the kitchen table.

"Zat ees because you are supposed to be studying for ze end of year exams."

"I am - I will study. I will." After all, Ted would be back to work on Monday, and although Vic still had lots of visiting she could and would do, it meant that she would also have lots more time to devote to schoolwork. How quickly her holidays had become about spending as much time as possible with Ted rather than spending as much time as possible with everyone she did not get to see at Hogwarts; if she had thought on train coming back - or even the day of Luna's wedding that she and Ted would be together....it would have been like a very surreal, very happy dream.

After breakfast, Vic kissed her mother's cheek, ran upstairs for her purse, handbag and cloak, and then flooed to Ted's flat, promising to be back before two, when her aunt, uncle and cousins were due to arrive.

In his flat, Ted had spent the morning listening to the WWN and flicking through his Prophet; for months he had tried to find his way back to how he and Vic had been before, so comfortable around each other and able to tell the other everything. Once he had thought that the only way to achieve this was to force his feelings for Vic into the background, and yet somehow since they had become a couple three days before, Ted could sense that they were pretty much there.

Reading the weekly announcements of the birth, marriages, engagements and deaths of the wizarding world, Ted couldn't help but smile as he thought back to the day he had spent on the beach at Shell Cottage yesterday. Bill had been at work and Fleur visiting her friend's new-born daughter, so only Dom and Louis had been around to keep he and Vic from spending time alone together. They had been able to have some - when Louis announced he was going back to the house to floo Genie for a while and Dom went off for a walk soon after, they were gifted half an hour or so when they could snuggle up on the rug Vic had taken down for them all to sit on.

He was in the kitchen making a cup of peppermint tea when the sound of Vic tumbling out of the fireplace, and calling his name interrupted Ted's search for some chocolate biscuits to go with his tea.

"In here! You want a cup of tea?"

"As long as it comes with a chocolate biscuit."

"Just looking for them", laughed Ted as he turned round to see Vic in the kitchen doorway. He smiled, and walked over to give her a hug and a kiss, still marvelling at the fact that he was now permitted to do the latter properly.

"That's a nice hello." She clasped her hands behind his neck and smiled up at him happily.

"There's a lot more where that came from. Besides, I figured you were worth it." Ted grinned back; he seemed to be doing a lot of that recently. They would have to watch out around other people before the smiles on their faces gave everything away. "Come on, you can help me look for the biscuits."

They found the biscuits quickly, and after eating a large packet of them and downing a cup of tea, Ted and Vic stepped out onto Diagon Alley and headed straight for their favourite shop....Honeydukes.

The wizarding sweet shop - which according to the sign over the doorway had been 'Sweetening your day since 1346' - had always been a favourite of Ted and Vic's. In childhood it had been a symbol of a day-out treat to them. On weekends when Ted had stayed with Harry and Ginny, at least one of them almost always brought him here for chocolate, before a trip to Quality Quidditch Supplies and Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes - and in Harry's case a stop at Fortescue's for an ice cream sundae. When Vic was five or six, she had started to come with them sometimes - especially if Ginny, her godmother, was present.

As it was the Easter holidays, the shop was mobbed, and Ted and Vic had to fight their way through to the stands that held their favourite chocolates.

"Finally", exclaimed Vic as they eventually got to the front of a group of people standing next to where favourite deluxe chocolate caramels were stacked. "Hmmm....I think I'll take two boxes. That should last me a little while, and I think I'll also get a box of the plain ones to share this afternoon."

"Here - I'll get them down for you", said Ted as he stretched up to the top shelf. He handed them to her, and Vic smiled shyly at him. "What?"

"Nothing", she laughed. "Its just......this whole thing is weird. In a good way, though."

"I know what you mean." It was a little strange going on a date with his best friend. Yes, Vic was also his girlfriend now, but that didn't diminish the friendship they had spent her whole life building up.

"Are you getting much?"

"Not really - a box of those sachets that make the most amazing hot chocolate in the world ever." Vic smiled and laughed at that; Ted stuck his tongue out at her before continuing. "And I need to but a few large boxes as well. Unfortunately my stockpile has gone down a lot and I need to build it back up again."

They paid for their chocolates, chatted for a few minutes to Vic's fellow sixth year Gryffindor Curnow Crowther who was waiting for a few Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff friends outside, and then Ted vanished their shopping back to his flat so they wouldn't have to take the bags into the restaurant he had picked out for their lunch. A quick glance at his watch told him it was now a little after twelve; their table was booked for quarter past, and Ted had to be at St. Mungo's and Vic back at Shell Cottage for two.

"There it is", said Ted, pointing out the small, square building next to Ashenden's Antiques. "Albie recommended it to me a few weeks ago when he and Pandora came here. Said they make the most amazing chocolate puddings - he knows how addicted I am to the stuff - and that I should give it a go. We were in the Leaky at the time, and he said the food here was better."

"I like the Leaky", said Vic with a nod. "This place looks lovely too, though, and I can't wait for the chocolate pudding."

They stepped inside, and Vic was immediately shocked by just how many tables they had managed to fit in the place - they'd obviously used some kind of extension charm. It was beautifully decorated in raspberry and cream, the former of which reminded Vic of the reddish colour Ted had experimented with hair-wise when he was around fifteen and no longer liked to discuss.

"Its beautiful", she whispered to him as they walked over to where a waiter stood behind a small desk.

"Hi, I booked a table for two for twelve fifteen - name's Lupin", Ted told the man. Vic smiled as she realised that he had also taken her hand, feeling safe enough in here - away from everyone they knew - to do so.

"Excellent. Follow me." The waiter took two menus, and Vic and Ted followed him through towards the back, where there were a series of booths, and the heavenly smell of cooking food made Vic feel as if her breakfast and the chocolate biscuits she and Ted had eaten with their tea had been consumed hours ago.

The booth they were shown to was in the shape of a horse-shoe, and Ted and Vic scooted round to the middle so they could look out and see the restaurant as a whole. She leaned into him a little, resting her head on his shoulder, and picked up the menu, her jaw dropping as she saw the prices.

".......can concentrate on picking a main course now I've double-checked they've got the chocolate pudding on the desert part."

"Ted - this place is extortionate", she squeaked softly.

"Don't worry about it", he said dismissively. Vic looked at his smiling face. "Its on me."

"Ted, I didn't ask you to - "

"I know." He put his menu down and then took her hand in his. "But I want to treat you. I want to spoil you. After all, as much as I don't like to think about it, this time in two weeks I won't get the opportunity because you'll be back at Hogwarts, and it will feel like forever until the summer. I want to spoil you as much while I still can."

"While you still can......I'm not going anywhere, Ted. Not really."

"I know. So, have you thought about what you want to eat?"

"The calamari and spaghetti pasta", she replied instantly, having spied it on the menu at the same time as she'd seen the prices.

"Hmm, I think I'll go for that too." The waiter soon sped over as Ted caught his eye, and they placed their food order.

"Oh, I forgot to tell you", said Vic, remembering that when Ted had left the previous evening only she and Dom had been in the house. "You know how Louis went over to Genie's yesterday afternoon? Well, he said to maman last night that he's asked Genie over for dinner on Friday evening."

"What did Dom say?"

"Nothing, actually. Though I didn't see her for the rest of the evening. She "had a bit of a headache" at dinnertime."

"Oh."

"Yeah. I'm dreading it to be honest. It sounds horrible, but I sort of hoped that Louis and Genie would break up before it came to this. It would have made everything so much easier. That said, I did tell them the day that Dom found out about everything that I wouldn't say anything against Genie while she and Louis were together. And I haven't; in spite of what she said in Flourish and Blotts."

"Do you like her?"

"I don't know", said Vic honestly. "I wouldn't be openly critical of her because she is my brother's girlfriend, but to be honest I don't really know her well enough to say whether or not I like her."

It suddenly occured to Vic that if Louis and Genie's relationship was serious, she really should get to know her properly.

Their lunch was over far too quickly, and before Vic knew it they were back at Ted's flat, making plans for the next day. They decided to go to the beach at Shell Cottage again; Vic had suggested going to Godric's Hollow, but Ted had told her he was worried that he thought Ginny would be able to figure everything out - besides, going there would mean that her cousins were constantly around, and Vic was looking for some alone time. At least at Shell Cottage they could try to contrive that for a little while. At the same time, they decided to decamp to Ted's flat on Thursday, where they could spend the entire day alone, eating chocolate and listening to the WWN.

"I'm going to miss you", pouted Vic as she said goodbye to Ted, feeling internally a little pathetic as she did so. She had never said that phrase with such meaning to either Hem or Evan; but then, she had never meant it as much with them, had never felt so bereft when deprived of their mere presence as she did with Ted.

She kissed him goodbye in a manner which suggested that he would not soon be forgotten, and then regretfully flooed to Shell Cottage; although she was desperate to see her aunt, uncle and cousins, Vic was also keen to spend as much time as possible with Ted. He had been right in the restaurant - in less than a fortnight she would be back at Hogwarts, and unable to see him as much as she wanted to.

"Oh", said Vic as she brushed off the floo dust. "You're early - sorry, I was out for lunch, I - "

"Vic, its fine", Angelina reassured her. "Freddie! Stop running around, you're going to break something! Sorry, Vic - we finished lunch early. Wow, you did a lot of shopping."

"I blame Ted", said Vic sheepishly as she looked back at her aunt. "He's the one that first led me astray down the path of chocolate addiction - I do have a box for us all to share down at the beach, though."

"Good. We should 'ead down to ze beach now", said her mother. "Your fazzer, Dominique and Louis 'ave already gone down weeth your uncle."

"Yeah, they have about a ten minute head start", Angelina confirmed. "But don't worry - like I said, we got here early. Freddie! Calm down!"

"I'll go and dump my shopping upstairs", said Vic. She ran up to her room and left her Honeydukes bag there, taking out only the large box of chocolates she had bought for everyone to share on the beach.

"I got this for everyone", she said as she returned. "Is the picnic basket ready?"

Her mother nodded, and the five of them left the house, and walked down the craggy path to the beach. Vic could see her father, uncle, brother and sister in the far distance, talking over something. She had no idea what it was, but hoped that it was enough to make Dom realise that she had to at least be civil to Genie.

Ted arrived at, and left, St. Mungo's with an extremely broad grin on his face. He replayed the lunch he'd enjoyed with Vic over and over again in his head. When he compared what he had with her to his relationship with Caro, and all the fighting - the way he'd almost walked on eggshells sometimes with the worry that he would set her off into a tantrum.......there really was no comparison. Vic made him so much happier. In fact, Ted could not recall ever being as happy in his life. In some ways that was scary, in others it seemed like it was sort of meant to be.

As always on a Tuesday, Ted went straight from St. Mungo's to his grandmother's house. He felt awkward about lying to her - like he had with Harry - but knew that he and Vic were right in trying to figure out everything for themselves before they told anyone about their relationship. He knew that she would tell Nat when they went back to Hogwarts - she had told him so, and even if she had not, Ted would have known instinctively that would be the case - but Ted knew that Vic told Nat everything, and it was not the same as telling someone in the extended Weasley family.

That said, Ted had an inkling from the way she had looked at him over the dinner table the previous evening that Ginny knew precisely how he and Vic felt about each other, and what was going on between them.

When he entered the house, his grandmother was preparing some sort of pasta dish for the two of them. She stepped away from the cooking area and hugged him tightly, before standing back and appraising him as she usually did; looking for signs that he was not taking as much care of himself as he should.

"I'm fine", he assured her, "But how are you?"

"Well", she sighed. "I'm fine, Teddy, and I wish you would stop worrying about me."

"Sorry, no can do. Would you ever stop worrying about me?"

"That's different......."

"Is it? Anyway, what's for dinner?"

"Pasta Arrabiata. I haven't made anything tomato-ish for ages. How are you enjoying your holidays?"

"Well, I appreciate them more now than I did when I was at Hogwarts. Yesterday I went to the beach with Vic, Louis and Dom, and then today Vic and I went to Honeydukes and out for lunch before I went to St. Mungo's."

"It sounds like you enjoyed it. How is your support group coming along? I keep forgetting to ask."

"Good. At least.....I think I'm getting somewhere and I think dad would be proud that I am at least trying."

"I agree. As you have probably surmised at some point or other, before I met your father I had little knowledge of those that shared his affliction. I thought them all the same as the monster that bit him, but of course your mother and cousin Sirius were right - he was different, And he would be proud of you, and what you are doing. He and Nymphadora........they fought for you to be able to do that."

"I know", Ted whispered, and moved over to hug his grandmother tightly. "And that's part of the reason why I'm doing what I am."

"And what are your plans for the rest of your holiday, Teddy?" his grandmother asked as they sat down to dinner.

"Nothing much", he shrugged. "I'm taking Al and James to the Quidditch match on Sataurday. The Magpies match, that is. Vic's coming too, and we're going over to Wes's girlfriend's flat after for....to catch up properly. Wes and Rowland are always bugging me to get Vic to meet them; they sort of became her friend as much as mine. And apart from that, I'll be splitting my time between Godric's Hollow and Shell Cottage."

"And how is Lily? It was clear that she adored being a bridesmaid."

"Hyper active. In a way, I think Ginny and Harry might be looking forward to her going back to school at the end of the holidays. Apparently her favourite game at the moment is weddings. And as much as Rosie is quite happy to play the bride, the boys fight over which one of them is forced to play the groom while Lily wanders down the aisle - which is really the hallway - dropping down flowers she has taken from Ginny's plants."

"A sweet girl", laughed his grandmother. "We used to play weddings too - Bella was in charge so she was always the bride, but I liked to be a bridesmaid." Ted was surprised; his grandmother rarely shared childhood anecdotes.

"You seem happier this evening, Teddy - happier than I have seen you for a while. Is there a reason for that, or is it just everything coming together for you? Don't get me wrong, I want you to be happy - "

"I am", he grinned. "I dunno - I guess I just sort of realised that everything is going well And....I'm happy with that, sort of."

"I did wonder - does this mean that you are over that girl...Caro? I know that you are well aware I was not overly keen on her, but I would have accepted it if she was what you really wanted. I would have." Ted believed her; after all, had his grandmother not ultimately accepted his mother's marriage to a werewolf?

"I was over Caro a long time ago", said Ted honestly. And he was. In truth, he was over her before they had even broken up - because of Vic. For months before he and Caro had separated (how awful it sounded) Ted had been completely absobed by and infatuated not with Caro, but with Vic.

"In fact......I think I can safely promise you that there will never be anything between Caro and I again", smiled Ted. The only person he could see himself with in the near future was Vic. No one else came close; no one else mattered. He couldn't quite believe it even now - three days after the kiss that he had instinctively instigated - that they were together. He was Vic's boyfriend. For so long that day and before, Ted had despised the phrase "best friend", and now he was more than that.

At last, Ted was where he wanted to be.



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  #55  
Old April 21st, 2012, 1:33 am
MissGryffindor  Female.gif MissGryffindor is offline
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Re: Falling

Thanks muchly once again!!!

Chapter 54


Although spending the afternoon helping her mother prepare dinner and ensure the house was clean and tidy had kept Vic's nerves about the evening to a minimum, as she chose a pretty, (though casual) red and white dress, she could feel them come back to the surface. It was Friday evening, and in around half an hour, Louis would be flooing over with Genie. Dom had been taciturn at best all day, and Vic had gone out of her way to help their mother while her sister had gone for a walk on the beach.

The visit of George and Angelina had thankfully had a similar effect to the one of the previous summer, and Dom and Louis had even managed to be polite to each other since Tuesday afternoon. Until today, at least. Louis had left earlier than planned to go to Genie's, and Dom had been Dom times ten. As much as Vic loved her sister, she thought Dom was completely in the wrong on this occasion, and hoped that for everyone's sake, she could at least be civil to Genie for a few hours.

Vic herself had spoken to Louis when she'd returned from Ted's the previous evening, and he had assured her that after he'd explained about their father, and about Remus, Genie had apologised to him for what she'd said in Flourish and Blotts the day they'd met there last summer. He also stressed what Vic recalled him saying all those months ago - that given Greyback and his attack on her mother comprised pretty much the sum total of Genie's knowledge of werewolves, what she had said was understandable, in a way.

Steeling herself, Vic walked downstairs; her father was sitting on the sofa, listening to some old rock music on the WWN, butterbeer in hand. She smiled at the remembrance of him sitting on the same sofa, drinking a butterbeer and listening to music on Friday evenings before she had gone to Hogwarts. Her mother was in the kitchen, singing away to herself in French and presumably making the final preparations for dinner.

"Not last down yet again", smiled her father as Vic sat down next to him. "You better be careful, Vic, before people start expecting this to be a permanent thing."

"Funny", she smiled back. A glance at the clock told her that it was almost seven; Louis and Genie would be there in a few minutes.

"Thanks for helping your mother earlier."

"It made me look forward more than before to next month, when I'll be of age and can use magic whenever I want", said Vic honestly. She hated cooking and cleaning without magic, and couldn't wait to learn household spells from her mother.

"Urgh, don't remind me. It makes me feel old."

"Daddy, you have long hair, an earring, and dress more fashionably than every uncle I have put together. You could never be old."

"You must want something", he grinned as he put an arm over Vic's shoulder. "No, its just that....it puts time in perspective. Makes me realise how long ago....stuff happened."

Vic knew that he meant the war, and in particular the final battle in which her Uncle Fred and Ted's parents had died. Vic laid her head on her father's shoulder; she knew how much what had happened that day - exactly two years before she was born - still hurt her parents and aunts and uncles, the ones left to live with it.

Their conversation came to an end as the fire started to light, and Louis and Genie tumbled out of it in quick succession. As they dusted themselves off, Vic called to let her mother know that they had arrived.

As they all worked their way through the boeuf de bourgignon, Vic had never been so glad of her mother's ability to prattle on about nonsense and not make the silence she was covering awkward. She also made her quizzing of Genie seem more like friendly interest than an inquisition.

"Zees 'olidays must be very 'ard on you", she said to Genie. "I remember 'ow Victoire 'ad to study so much last year. Eets not good, wanting to spend so much time with your family when you are 'ome and 'aving to work all ze time."

"Its not been too bad; there's just mum, dad and I, so there's never really been that much visiting to do when I'm at home."

"I've always found that weird", Louis grinned wth a soft glance at Genie that Vic found touching. "I guess I'm just used to there being lots of people around all the time, wherever we go."

"I know what you mean", said Vic with a nod. That's why she liked the solitary walks along the beach at home so much, grateful for the time to think - alone. "Nat's the same as you, Genie - when she comes to stay, and we go to family stuff I think she finds it a bit chaotic, good chaotic, but chaotic nonetheless."

"I suppose it depends what you're used to. Because its always just been the three of us, I have never known anything different, and mum and I are so close and spend so much time together that I never really missed having someone else there."

"Eet sounds like your family ees very close. When I came 'ere from France, I meesed my seester, and maman et papa. But zen, I 'ad Beel to teach me Eenglish, and Gringotts for work. Eet was strange at first, ze Eenglish ways. But, as you see, I 'ave not forgotten 'ow to make French food! 'Ow about you, Geenie? What would you like to do when you leave 'Ogwarts?"

"I'm not sure, really. I've thought about Healing, or maybe working in the Department of Magical Games and Sports; dad's a massive Quidditch fan, so I know quite a lot about it." Genie laughed. "He knows a lot about match tactics and that sort of thing, but he never really got much of a chance to play himself. His theory is great, everyone says so."

Vic supressed a smirk at the remembrance of what Ted had said to her the previous day about the mention of Genie's father at Uncle Ron's birthday party - and how he had broken Uncle Harry's skull when they were at Hogwarts.

The rest of the evening passed just as well - mostly, Vic felt, because Dom had taken very literally the sentiment that if you can't say something nice then you shouldn't say anything at all - and Louis got ready to floo Genie back home around half past nine.

"I won't be long", he said as he opened the pot on the mantle that was used to store the family floo powder.

"Eeet is alright; eet is good zat you want to make sure zat Genie gets 'ome safely. Eeet was nice to meet you, Genie. I 'ope zat we weel see you again soon."

"It was nice to meet you too, Mrs. Weasley - sorry, I mean Fleur." Vic smiled. When Genie had referred to her mother as Mrs. Weasley, she had laughed and said that was what Gramma was called, and she preferred people to use her first name. Vic and her father said goodbye as well, while Dom nodded, and then Louis and Genie stepped into the fire and were gone.

"Zat went well, don't you theenk so, Beel?"

"She seemed nice enough; keen to please. I did worry, after.......anyway, Louis is obviously very keen on her."

"I think so too", said Vic. She had felt a little uncomfortable at the start, when she had seen Genie glancing at her father's scarred face a few times, perhaps comparing his scars to her mother's, but after that her gaze had settled down, and had mostly been directed at Louis.

"Anyone else want a butterbeer?" asked her father. Dom shrugged and her mother said yes, but Vic told him she was going upstairs. Ted had told her they needed to be at Godric's Hollow and at the stadium early, and she was exhausted from all of the cleaning and food preparation. Besides, she had a feeling that Dom was about to get it from one or other of their parents for her silence at dinner.

On Saturday morning, Ted went over to Godric's Hollow early. He knew Al and James - particularly the latter - would be hyper-active, and since he was the one that had offered to take them to the match, Ted figured that the least he could do for their parents was pick them up us early as possible. As he wandered into the kitchen, he saw them both leaning against the counter eating biscuits and chatting through the crumbs in their mouths, wearing Magpies t-shirts.

"Morning", he said, smiling at them. "So the two of you will be supporting Portree today, then?"

"Like that's going to happen", scoffed James. "They play in green, and their badge is grey. Do you really think I'm going to support a team that plays in Slytherin colours?! Others might......"

"I know, I know." Ted didn't give James yet another chance to tease Al about being sorted into Slytherin.

"When are we going?" Al asked him.

"Well, its the early game today, so we'll be going quite soon. Which game is your mother going to today? I forgot to ask her last night."

"Arrows match against the Falcons", said James as Al said he would go and let his parents know Ted had arrived.

"That's the late one; I think it starts around five. Lily back yet?" She had left just after he'd arrived the previous evening for a sleepover with Rosie and Roxie.

"Nope. She probably won't be back 'til dinner time. Uncle Ron, Aunt Hermione, Rosie and Hugo are coming over for that, so chances are she'll come back then."

"Ted! How are you?" Ginny asked as she came into the room with Al. "Harry will be down in a few minutes; he's just having a bath. Are you meeting everyone else at the stadium?"

"Actually, no - I asked - " But before Ted could say that Vic was meeting them here, she shouted out from the sitting room, presumably just having flooed in. When he'd last seen her the previous morning, Ted had impressed on her the need to be early given James and Al's excitement about going to the match, and how much easier it would make their lives as a consequence.

"Morning!" Vic walked into the kitchen with a broad smile on her face. Ted hoped that the stupid grin he could see in his head was not, in fact, the one he was wearing. In spite of how much she disliked Quidditch, she looked as happy to be going to the match as Al and James were.

"Looking forward to your day out?" Ginny asked her.

"Why are you coming with us?" James asked Vic before she could answer her aunt. "You hate Quidditch!"

"James! Don't be cheeky to your cousin, otherwise you might find yourself helping your dad clear out the garage this afternoon - without magic", warned Ginny.

"But Vic does hate Quidditch", he muttered.

"Its alright", laughed Vic. But Ted sure she knew as well as he did that Ginny was only warning James to remind him that misbehaviour of any kind would see him left behind.

It wasn't long before they all apparated to the stadium, Ted using the fact that he was taking all three of them by side-along apparition to hold Vic's hand in public. He had to let go as they started walking towards the VIP area, but being able to spend time together - even just as best friends - was better than him being here alone, and Vic at Hogwarts. Ted was dreading the following Sunday, when he would see her onto the Hogwarts Express and wave goodbye.

As Al and James walked on a few steps ahead, Ted turned and smiled at Vic, reaching out to squeeze her hand quickly.

"Hopefully it'll be a short match like last time", he said to her in an undertone. "Just don't tell anyone I said that!"

"Your secret is safe with me." Vic smiled at him. "I hope we'll all be able to sit together; I remember how difficult it must have been last time to get four seats together, never mind six."

"Another reason for us to be early. And, interestingly enough, after I went on about Rowland's punctuality last time - only for him to be first there - he has been late every time since. If he's early again today, I'm going to think its because he knows what I've been saying and wants to show me up."

As it turned out, Rowland reverted to his habit of being late, and Ted was glad that the rest of them had been so early and been able to save a couple of seats. He also smiled happily as he saw Rowland's girlfriend Mari grab Vic, and insist that she sit next to her. As much as Ted hated making comparisons between his current and former girlfriends, Vic fitted in so much better with his friends and their girlfriends than Caro ever had.

"Vic's looking happy", Rowland commented as he sat down next to Ted.

"She is. Why wouldn't she be?"

"Well, after she and Evan split up....I thought maybe she might be a bit down. Mari was keen to see her again. She liked Vic when she met her before. You both still coming along to Katya's after?" Ted nodded.

"I need to drop Al and James off home first, but I figured Vic could go on ahead with you and Mari; it won't take me long to get them back to Godric's Hollow, and then I'll catch up with you."

"Sounds good." They fell silent as the match started, and their attention was caught by the flying quaffle and bludgers, and the sight of the Magpies reserve Seeker Catano almost flying into one of the hoops. It struck Ted immediately why Catano was a reserve, and that if the Magpies wanted to win today, and maintain their push for the title, they would have to win by scoring and saving, and not rely on the points available for catching the snitch.

"Its great to see you again", Mari said to Vic as they both took the butterbeers they had ordered from the waitress. "How are you enjoying your holidays?"

"Good. I can't believe they're halfway over already. I'm always like this, though, split between Hogwarts and home. And how are you? I think told me you and Rowland are planning a trip away during the summer?"

"Yeah, we're going to Egypt for a few days. We've actually been quite lucky - Ted knows someone in the Department of Magical Transportation that's sorted out a Portkey for us on the cheap."

"My father lived in Egypt for a few years after he left Hogwarts, working as a curse-breaker for Gringotts. He only moved back because of the war, and he met maman.......if you want, I could ask him for some recommendations on places to stay and what the best sights to see are."

"Would you? That would be amazing! And you? Any holiday plans?"

"France as always! We're going for a couple of weeks in July. My aunt is getting married as well, so our holiday will probably consist of making sure everything is ready, and the wedding itself. I'm glad, though - she and Marc are lovely together. A real opposites attract sort of thing. Marc is quiet, and it takes a little while to get to know him, and Tante Gabrielle is one of the chattiest people I have ever met."

"So, you're fluent in French, then?"

"I guess I am, yeah. Maman spoke to us in French a lot when we were little, and the French side of the family always do. Its useful. If, for some reason, I was ever forced to live in the muggle world, then I think it would be a good thing to have on my side."

"Wish I could speak another language. Listen, did Ted tell you that I got a cat a few weeks ago?"

"He did", said Vic, with a vague recollection of a sentence or two in a letter sent around the time that she had split up with Evan.

"I love cats, and your cousin Lily was telling me all about her cat a few weeks ago - maybe it was a couple of months, actually - and I had been swithering about it then, but I decided just after to go for it. And Gatsby has been fabulous. He's a sweet, black and white little thing. Do you like cats?"

"Um....." Vic always hesitated when asked this question. She had never really been a fan of cats, the allergy aside; Vic decided to go for the tactful response. "Actually, I've always been allergic to cats, and for some reason allergy potions don't really agree with me."

"Oh. Well, I suppose there's no real point in asking you is you want to come over and meet him, then!"

"Sorry!" Vic felt bad.

"Its alright", laughed Mari. "You don't need to apologise - its not your fault, is it? I must say, Ted's in a good mood today; I think he has been since you came back for the holidays."

Vic blushed a little at Mari's hints. They had decided to see how things worked out before telling anyone - even his friends - but she wondered now if Mari had figured something out from the way they looked at one another and how they acted when together.

"Everything is going well for him", said Vic diplomatically. "After all, his work is getting somewhere, and he doesn't have the stress of his relationship with Caro anymore."

"True. In fact - maybe you could help us? Rowland, Wes, Katya and I have been trying to get Ted back 'out' there socially again - but everyone we try to set him up with are dismissed out of hand."

"Well......speaking as someone who - like Ted - has just come out of a long-term relationship, I know that I want to spend time on my own, just concentrating on me", said Vic. And the truth is, if it wasn't for Ted and what had happened at Luna's wedding, Vic would be doing that very thing.

"You think so?"

"I do." She felt a little guilty about lying to Mari about Ted, and his willingness to enter into a new relationship, but she had no choice - she and Ted had made a decision together, and it was not up to her to unilaterally go against it. She and Ted were a partnership now, and Vic felt she had to respect that.

Once the match had finished - with the Magpies sealing a marginal victory of two hundred and points to one hundred and ninety (Portree had caught the snitch and the Magpies were lucky that they had enough of an advantage by that point) - Ted took a jubilant Al and James back to Godric's Hollow.

"Hello?" Ted called as he entered the house through the back door, closely followed by Al and James, who were chatting away about the match, and debating (well, arguing) over who was the best player.

"Ted?" came Harry's voice. "Is that you back already?"

"Yeah, I came to drop Al and James off; Katya asked Vic and I, and Rowland and Mari over for a while, and I need to get moving." He loved saying that - Vic and I and smiled at the thought of it.

"Just coming!" Harry appeared downstairs a few minutes later in a worn pair of jeans and an old Harpies t-shirt that Ted remembered he always used to wear when going to see Ginny play Quidditch. Ted had lost count of the number of her matches Harry had taken him to when he was little.

"Ginny's just getting ready to go to work. Good match?"

"Narrow victory; I'm sure James and Al will tell you all about it. Listen, I - "

"You have to go? Have a good time - we'll see you tomorrow at The Burrow for Sunday dinner?"

"Definitely." If nothing else, Ted would not pass up the chance to spend an afternoon with Vic, even if it was in the midst of a crowd and not tete-a-tete.

"See you later", Ted called behind him as he moved aside to apparate to Katya's flat. It took a lot of concentration, as he had only been there a couple of times before, but a minute or two after saying goodbye in Godric's Hollow, he was sitting on a sofa next to Vic, who had been telling Hogwarts stories to Mari, along with Rowland.

".........and then Wes ploughed into the Gryffindor stand!" she said with a laugh as Ted entered the room. "Of course, he spent the next week unconscious in the Infirmary, but Rowland and Ted seemed to think it worth it for the funny factor."

"Sounds good", giggled Mari.

"Well, I didn't think so", protested Wes. "That said, I didn't really know much about it - hey, Ted! You made it!"

"Of course I did! I just had to get James and Al home first - you know, Al still talks about the Valentine's party when you managed to get him everyone's autograph. Its the only match of the season James won't let him talk about." Ted laughed internally at the petty jealousy between the two brothers.

"Its very good to see Victoire again", said Katya as she came out of the kitchen with a tray filled with butterbeer, adding it to a table filled with food and bottles of firewhiskey and mead. This was clearly a well-planned party.

"I'm really excited about seeing all of you again", said Vic earnestly. "Its been a long time since Christmas, and I had so much going on then that I couldn't stay that night and get to know you all properly. Luckily, this time round I haven't been asked to play babysitter once. I have had actual time to catch up with people properly."

"Well, I for one am glad of that", said Mari. "For once I had an actual conversation at the Quidditch game about something other than sport."

"I can't believe you didn't tell Mari about my allergy", Vic told him.

"I thought Rowland would", said Ted honestly. He was surprised - given how widely known it was among Vic's friends - that Rowland had not.

"Its not really something I thought about", Rowland admitted. "Are you sure that you've tried all the potions available? Because - "

"She has", said Ted abruptly. "Vic is allergic, and nothing works to stop it."

Ted searched for a change of subject. "Hey, I forgot to ask - how did dinner with Louis's girlfriend go last night?"

"Not bad, actually. Dom was pretty much silent, but that was better than her shouting and screaming; dad and maman seemed to like Genie too. But....it was still a little uncomfortable, and I hate feeling like that in my own home."

"How?" Ted asked her, moving towards Vic on the sofa they shared.

"Just....the way she looked at dad and Dom's silence." Ted could feel her eyes boring into his and realised what she was saying - Vic hated being made to feel like everything wasn't quite right when all she was doing was eating her dinner at home during the holidays. She felt that Genie had initially been slightly distracted (and not in a good way) and that Dom hadn't behaved as Vic thought she should have. He could also tell from the look in her eyes that they would talk about it together, later, when nobody else was around.

They spent the rest of the evening talking about random rubbish, and Ted really felt for the first time that he was part of an actual couple; when he and Vic had spent time together in the last week it had been in two parts. There was the time they spend together around other people in which they could have passed for the best friends they always had been, and there was the time they had spent together alone that could have passed for something that existed in a different world. But this....this was the first time they had spent together and around others. And that was something that couples did. Proper couples.

And it was different - though in a good way.

At the end of the evening, when it reached ten, Ted muttered that it was time for him to make sure that Vic got home properly. He had timed it so that they could have a good fifteen - twenty minutes together at his flat before he dropped her off again at Shell Cottage. neither of them had disclosed the fact that Vic had permission to be out until ten-thirty.

After much protest, Vic and Ted disapparated to his flat.

"I thought we would never get rid of them", breathed Ted before he kissed Vic.

"Why?" Vic asked once they had separated, gasping for breath. "I thought they were your friends?"

"They are."

"You.....you could always tell them about us." He noted that Vic bit her lip after that comment.

"Vic, I never actually told you this, but the fact is they have been teasing me about liking you for years - long before I actually did - and if I admitted to them now that I do like you......like that.... well, I wouldn't hear the end of it. And I want when we tell everyone about our relationship to be more than that."

"Its alright", she laughed. "That said, I would like to tell Dom and Louis about it soon. After what happened recently, I think it is probably for the best. Maybe just before I go back to Hogwarts?"

"If that's what you want", Ted nodded, as their fingers intertwined. "If - if you want them to be the first to know, then that is fine by me."

Vic smiled softly at him.

"Thank you." She kissed him. "I - I know how hard this is for you, for both of us. But with everything that has happened in the past few months, I think Louis and Dom should know soon. At least, I think they should know before I go back to Hogwarts. They didn't say anything about Hem, and I don't think they will say anything about you and I."

"If you are sure, then it is completely up to you", said Ted honestly. Although he had no concept of what it was like to have a brother and/or sister, he knew how close Vic was to Dom and Louis. It was only right they should be the first to know properly. He said properly as he had an inkling Ginny had an idea already of the true relationship between him and Vic. The smirk on her face when she mentioned Vic's name said it all.

"Thank you. Oh, I didn't get a chance to tell you - I had an owl from Tante Gabrielle today (well, Dom and I had one each) asking me to be a bridesmaid at her wedding. I would have said something earlier, but with how Lily has been about weddings, I figured I should keep the topic away from any conversation James and Al were near."

"That was a good call. I'm going to miss you in the summer, when you go to France."

"Me too. Me too." And with that, she leaned in to kiss Ted slowly and softly, dreading their parting.




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Last edited by MissGryffindor; April 21st, 2012 at 10:42 am.
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Old April 27th, 2012, 11:28 pm
MissGryffindor  Female.gif MissGryffindor is offline
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Re: Falling

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Chapter 55



For as long as she could remember, Vic had been excited about going to Hogwarts. When Ted had got on the train for the first time, she had done everything she could to join him on it; at the age of eleven, she hadn't slept much the night before September 1st. And now, she was actively dreading it. In just two days she would return for the summer term, leaving Ted behind.

Vic sighed as she wrapped up his birthday present, taking advantage of the spare time she had before he arrived and hoping that he would like the chocolates and Demented Dementors t-shirt and record she had bought him. Harry and Ginny were hosting a party for Ted's birthday in Godric's Hollow the following day, and Vic was excited about seeing Wes, Rowland and their girlfriends again. Luckily, at the end of the Quidditch season the matches were split far more widely over the weekend, and the Magpies were due to play in the Friday night match, leaving Wes free to come to the party without worrying about playing before or after it.

Ted was due to arrive very soon; he was working that afternoon, but was coming over for a lunch that Vic had already prepared and laid out in the kitchen. They had chosen today as the day they would tell Dom and Louis about their relationship. Vic had argued - and Ted had conceded the point - with how Dom had been over Louis and Genie, they should really 'fess up as soon as possible.

"Hey, Vic." Dom knocked on her door, and then wandered in. "What did you get him?"

"Some Demented Dementors stuff, and chocolate. Ted would never forgive me if I didn't buy chocolate for him." Dom laughed.

"I'm looking forward to the party tomorrow. I can't believe its almost the end of the holidays, though. And then when we go back to school, it'll be straight into exam revision."

"Wait 'til next year", smiled Vic. "When you'll be studying for your OWLs."

"You'll be studying for your NEWTs."

"I know. I can't quite believe it; this time next year I'll almost be finished at Hogwarts", said Vic, a tad wistfully. "But we should go downstairs - Ted will be here soon."

She put his present away, and walked down the stairs with Dom. Ted was due in a couple of minutes, and luckily Louis was helping himself to some pumpkin juice. After Dom's less than friendly welcome to Genie the previous Friday, Louis had spent the bulk of the last week over at his girlfriend's house. It had taken a little persuasion on Vic's part to get him to stay, and she had reminded him that Ted was as much his friend as he was Dom's.

"Ted should be here soon", said Vic with a deep breath.

"I guess", shrugged Louis with a glance at the clock. "Nice lunch you've got laid out; its a nice day, though - how about we have it down at the beach?"

"That's a good idea, actually", smiled Vic. "We'll ask Ted when he comes, but I'm sure he'll agree."

"To be honest", continued Vic. "There is something I want to talk to you both about."

She had told Ted that she wanted to break the news before he arrived, and took a deep breath in before she did so, hoping that they would understand, that they would appreciate the need for discretion, and that they would realise how serious she was about him.

"Oh?" said Dom.

"Yeah. You see...the truth is......the truth is, I've been seeing someone. For a couple of weeks now." At least it would two weeks the next day.

"That was quick", said Dom bluntly. "Is this because of Evan and Felicia? Because - "

"It has nothing to do with either of them. Not really. This is something that was probably coming since before Evan and I split up, to be honest."

"So, who is this guy?" Louis asked. "Anyone we know?"

"Well, actually - "

"Of course its someone we know", snorted Dom derisively.

"Is it?" Louis asked.

"Actually, yes." Vic smiled. "You see, the thing is - "

"Hey, how is everyone?" Vic turned to see Ted coming through the door. She smiled as she contemplated his timing.

"Not too bad", said Dom. "Vic was just about to tell us about her new boyfriend."

"Vic has a new boyfriend?" Ted smiled mischievously as he took Vic's hand. "I'm sure he's smart, funny, attractive...." Vic laughed.

"Am I missing something?" asked Louis.

"Just a little bit", smiled Vic. She held up her hand, which was entwined with Ted's. "You see, the person I.....its Ted. Ted and I have been seeing each other for a couple of weeks now."

Vic looked at Ted and smiled, only vaguely aware of Dom's shrieking.

"I think someone owes me five galleons", said Louis smugly.

"What do you mean?" Vic asked. She turned back to face her brother and sister.

"Well - " Dom began, a small look of guilt on her face.

"I bet Dom five galleons a year or so ago that before you and Ted had both left Hogwarts, something would have happened between you."

"Were we really that obvious?" Ted asked Louis.

"Just a likely guess", shrugged Louis.

"Tell us more!" exclaimed Dom. "When.....when exactly did this happen?"

"Luna's wedding", said Vic with a broad grin, thinking back to the conversation outside the marquee when she and Ted had finally made their feelings clear. She turned to look at Ted.

"But listen - I know that Ted and I have told you, but we would really, really appreciate it if you didn't say anything to anyone about us. This is a massive, massive step for Ted and I, best friends to......us. We want time to get used to it - particularly with Ted at home and me at Hogwarts - before we tell the rest of the family. You know what Gramma is like.....she'd be planning our wedding before the week was out - there would be too much pressure on us to - for everything to work out. We want to make sure that everything is serious and on the right path with us before we tell everyone. Obviously, maman and dad - and Andromeda - will be first to know. Just not yet."

"More lies?" sighed Dom.

"Not lies", said Ted. "Just...not actively telling anyone about Vic and I. This is a big deal for us, and it will work out much better if we figure everything out for ourselves, without constant outside interference. I want it to work out."

After talking more over lunch, Vic hoped that she had done enough to reassure her brother and sister that her relationship with Ted would not be based upon lies, and that all they wanted was breathing space to adjust to the transition from being best friends to being in a relationship. At least, Dom and Louis promised that they wouldn't say anything to anyone about it. Vic was extremely grateful, and although a little uncomfortable after Louis mentioned that after she had kept quiet about him and Genie, the least he could do was remain silent in return, she knew that they were doing the right thing. They were doing the right thing for them - and one day.....one day soon.......they would tell the family about it all.

The following day, Ted was over at Godric's Hollow a little after eleven; it was an afternoon party, with everyone due to start arriving for lunch, but as always he felt that he should be there to help prepare everything. He apparated into the back garden as usual, and then knocked on the back door before walking into the kitchen to find Ginny, Hermione, Grandma Weasley and his own grandmother busily sorting out the food.

"Ted! You're very early", said Ginny. "We were hoping to get everything done before you got here."

"Sorry", he grinned.

"Don't apologise - just go through to the sitting room - Harry and Ron are through there, and the kids are around somewhere.......Hermione, where did we put that carrot cake you brought over?"

"Its in the tin on the......." Ted smiled at them, and kissed his grandmother's cheek before going through to where Harry and Ron were listening to the early match on the WWN (Portree against the Kestrels).

"Ted - I didn't think you would be here for a bit!" Harry clapped him on the shoulder in greeting.

"I figured I couldn't leave everything up to you and Ginny to sort out", he shrugged. "But I seem to have been pushed through here without being allowed to help."

"To help? But Ted, you can't cook mate", laughed Ron.

"Yeah, I suppose you're right", he grinned. "What's the score?"

"The Kestrels are winning one hundred and sixty to forty. All over Portree", Harry told him. "So....nineteen - your last year of being a teenager."

"And its all downhill from there", added Ron. "Next you'll be turning twenty, and then you'll settle down and get married, have children.......be responsible."

"You don't have to say that as if its a swear word, Ron", Hermione informed him as she entered the room with a cup of peppermint tea for Ted, and some coffee for Harry and her husband. "There you go.....perhaps the three of you could sort out the drinks and some music? We'll get the pumpkin juice ready of course, buy perhaps you could get the butterbeer out of the cellar, and find the mead?"

"I'll go down to the cellar", volunteered Ron. He walked out of the room, leaving just Harry and Ted.

"I can't believe you're going to be nineteen - makes me feel a little old", Harry told Ted ruefully.

"Not that old", snorted Ted. "You weren't exactly ancient when I was born."

"No, I suppose I wasn't. I can still remember it as well - that night.......I was at Shell Cottage - Ron and Hermione were there too. Your father came bursting in, and shouted 'Its a boy!' and then told us you'd been named after your grandfather. Then we all toasted you with a glass of firewhiskey and your father asked me to be godfather. I thought he was a little mental at first, but looking back I think that maybe he asked me in place of my father and Sirius. I hadn't seen him for months before that night.......not since - not since he'd told us your mother was pregnant."

Birthday parties always made Ted feel a little bit uncomfortable, as someone that hated being the centre of attention, but this party - with Vic around - that seemed to fade into the background as the guests arrived. He loved the present she had bought for him, and as much as she'd whispered that it had been bought pre-relationship when she was trying to buy something for a friend rather than a boyfriend, Ted wouldn't have exchanged it for anything. Ted would never say it to another living soul for fear of being branded a girl, but in truth he already had in Vic everything he would have wanted for his birthday.

Although Mari and Rowland had been relatively on time for them (well, for Rowland) it was Wes and Katya that arrived last. When they came in the front door, Ted was just inside the sitting room with Mari, Rowland and Vic, talking about the summer Vampires Anonymous tour that had been announced that afternoon.

"I think we should go to one of the smaller ones", said Ted. "I know it would be amazing to go to one of the Quidditch stadium gigs, but you lose a connection with the music when the venue is too big."

"I agree", said Vic.

"Reaaalllly", grinned Rowland. "I suppose we could go to both."

"We'll be lucky to get tickets for one of the gigs, never mind too", snorted Mari.

"Sorry, we're late", mumbled Wes as he and Katya walked in, hand-in-hand with identical broad grins.

"Happy Birthday", said Katya warmly as she hugged him. "Sorry ve are late."

"Ach, don't worry about it", Ted assured her as he took the present she offered, and opened it with a grin. "Chocolate - you two know me so well.......I've been given enough today to last me until at least the end of the month!"

"Vy is zat child staring?" Ted turned to see James openly gawping in their direction.

"That's James - Harry's eldest - the one you haven't met. I'll go over and get him." Ted smiled as he walked over to where James was standing with Al and Louis. It seemed that there was still something - or someone - that could break through James's need to look cool.

"Ted....how in the name of Gryffindor's hairy back do you know Katya Markova?" breathed James.

"She plays for the same team as Wes, how else do you think we met?" Ted laughed. "Come on, I'll introduce you to her, and you'll be able to spend the train ride tomorrow showing off to your friends about meeting her."

"She's really nice, James", Al said to his brother. "When Wes took me round the Magpies players to get their autographs, she gave me a big hug after she signed the picture for me."

"You've met her already?! She hugged you?!" Ted snorted as he caught Louis's eye, and they both had to stop themselves laughing at the look of pure jealousy on James's face that Al had met Katya before he had.

"Come on, James." They walked back across the sitting room, to where Mari, Katya, Wes and Vic were all laughing at something Rowland was saying.

".....hit with a Beater's bat!"

"Katya, this is James, James - Katya", said Ted.

"Hey", said James, grinning at Katya. "I play Quidditch too - Chaser."

"Excellent. And you vish to play ven you leave Hogvarts?"

"Duh! What else is there worth doing?"

"I resent that, James", Ted told him with a light, joking nudge. "And its nice to see you think so highly of what your father does for a living.

James shrugged and asked Katya if she wanted to have her picture taken with him later on, explaining that his mother or one of the aunts quite often brought out a camera during family parties.

"Zat vill be fine. I vould like to meet your mother. Ven I was child in Volgograd, I vas fan of her and Harpies Quidditch team. Maybe in ze future I vill play for Harpies."

"Sure", said James, though Ted thought he seemed a little disappointed that someone he perceived as being as cool as Katya was so excited by the prospect of meeting one of his parents. "Well, I'm going to get a butterbeer - so you guys later."

"Al told him that you'd already met; James didn't seem to chuffed at the prospect of Al doing something first."

"Its an eldest child thing", Vic told him, casually moving next to Ted as she picked up the glass of Gillywater Ginny had given her earlier. "I would have been mad at that age if Louis or Dom had beaten me to something. You are so much older than James that he doesn't really see the two of you as competing to be the first'."

After lunch had been served, Vic whispered to Ted that with everyone on the sofa, allowing their food to digest, this would be an opportune moment to sneak outside and spend a few minutes alone together. Ted nodded imperceptibly, and followed her out the front door, and round the side to the back garden.

"Freedom", breathed Vic as she took Ted's hand in her own. It was hard, even so soon into their relationship, to try and conceal it from everyone when all she wanted was to take out an announcement in the Prophet showing off how happy she was.

"Hey", said Ted as his forehead touched Vic's.

"Hey yourself." She leaned in to kiss him, regretting they fact that they would be separated the following day.

"I know this sounds incredibly, incredibly sentimental......but will you kiss me under our tree again? Now that everything - now that we're together?"

"Vic, if kissing you is involved, do you really think I'm going to turn it down?"

"In that case, I'm going to try and think of something that you will turn down", Vic grinned at him wickedly as they turned the corner into the back garden.

"Grr. Our plans will have to wait", said Ted, dropping her hand as they saw their grandmothers coming over to them.

"Hey, Grams", said Ted with a smile. "I - I thought you were sitting down?"

"Teddy, I'm fine; Molly and I were just admiring some new flowers that Ginny planted. I could just as easily ask you why you have snuck away from your own party?" Her eyes sparkled with humour, and Vic found herself wishing that she knew Andromeda a little more.

"You know as well as I do that I don't like being the centre of attention."

"I must say, its lovely that Harry and Ginny decided to have your party today, with everyone going back to Hogwarts tomorrow - Victoire, and Dominique and Louis - little Molly and Lucy, and James. I miss all of you so much; you need to visit more often when you're at home!"

"I try, Gramma", protested Vic with a smile. "I promise I'll come more during the summer." After all, Ted would be working all day long, and although she would hopefully have her apparition license, she couldn't visit Nat constantly - she would be spending as much of her holidays as she could with Dylan.

"You see that you do, my dear. And now, we should be getting back inside; I know that Ginny wanted to do the cake not long after lunch." Vic and Ted followed their grandmothers back into the house, Ted shrugging his shoulders; their plans would have to wait for another time.

"There you are!" said Ginny as they all wandered in the back door, into the kitchen.

"Wow!" Ted exclaimed, and Vic followed his eyes to a massive, three tier chocolate cake, with chocolate icing and chocolate flakes.

"Well, your cake seems to have a theme!" Vic told him with a grin.

"Can I eat it all?" asked Ted. "Please?"

"No, you cannot", Ginny informed him as she added a candle and lit it with her wand. "Though I was hoping that you might take any leftovers off my hands."

"Deal!" Vic went into the sitting room with her grandmother and Andromeda, and settled down on the edge of a sofa next to Lily, Roxie and Rosie, watching Ginny and Ted enter the room, Ginny holding the cake in front of her.

They all sang Happy Birthday - some more in tune than others, and George, Wes and Rowland to the tune of one of Ted's favourite Weird Sisters songs - and then Ginny told Ted to blow out the candle.

"Make a wish first!" Lily shouted loudly to Ted from next to Vic, almost deafening her. Vic caught Ted's eye and smiled in the moment before he bent over to blow out the candle.

"I wonder what Teddy wished for", said Lily as they clapped.

"I don't know, what do you think?" Vic replied.

"Maybe he wished for something to do with Quidditch - that's what James would wish for. But you can't ask Teddy to tell you - if he does then his wish won't come true", Lily told her elder cousin wisely.

"I'll make sure I don't." They were joined by Mari, who asked Vic where the bathroom was.

"Its upstairs", began Vic. "And then you just - "

"I'll take you", said Lily, standing up. "And then we can go to my room to see Toffee. We have to keep Toffee upstairs when Vic comes over, because cats make her ill."

"That sounds lovely", Mari replied as the two of them started to walk off. "Did Ted tell you about my cat, Gatsby?"

"Yes he did. He said that......." Vic smiled as she watched them going upstairs, chatting away; Lily was the type of person that could and would make friends with just about anyone.

"Cake, Vic?" Ginny asked her a few minutes later.

"Oh, thank you." Vic accepted the plate, and then sighed. "I'm definitely going to have to stick to the single slice though; apart from Ted wanting as much of his cake as possible, I have eaten far too much already today. This family has too many good cooks."

"We could be worse, you know."

"I do", laughed Vic. She glanced around the room, and then smiled when she caught sight of Ted talking to her father about something. They had always got on really well together and Vic hoped that wouldn't change when her father found out that Ted was his eldest daughter's boyfriend.

"So, back to Hogwarts tomorrow - you looking forward to your last term as a sixth year?"

"Its gone by very quickly", Vic admitted, thinking of how the months since last September 1st seemed to have merged together in a mix of anxiety, Ted, studying, Ted, confusion and...Ted.

"And I miss everyone so much when I'm away at school. I always come home saying that I'm going to spend as much time with everyone as possible, and then when I go back to school I feel like I have hardly seen anyone."

"Its always hard, but you've only got a year left, really. I must say, though, you're looking a lot happier these holidays than you were at Christmas."

"I am. Much, much happier."

"Well, before you know it, the summer holidays will have come around, and seventh year will whizz by. That was the year I found toughest. Harry and Ron decided not to go back to sit for their NEWTs, as did Neville. It was just Luna, Hermione and I. That said, Harry and Ron made a point of coming up to Hogsmeade every time there was a weekend visit."

"Oh", said Vic softly, thinking that Ted might come and see her a Saturday or two - she wouldn't have to go months without him.

"I meant to ask before, have you thought about what you want for your birthday? Its a big one - you'll be of age."

"I haven't, actually", Vic admitted. She rarely did think about her birthday in too much detail; the date - May 2nd - meant only a remembrance of pain to too many people. And this year - this year, she already had in Ted what she would have wished for.

"I wish the Easter holidays and the Quidditch season run-in didn't clash; you and I never got round to having that cosy chat we promised ourselves."

"I know." Vic felt a little guilty that this hadn't bothered her; she would have found it hard not to let confirmation of her relationship with Ted slip out - he was convinced that Ginny had at least some inkling that they were together.

"Aunt Ginny, I - "

"Its alright." Ginny gave her a knowing glance. "Vic - you'll tell me when you're ready."

"Yes", she breathed with a nod. So, Ted was right - Ginny did at least suspect something. Vic was relieved at what Ginny had said; her aunt knew that she was holding back, but didn't want to force a confidence, or make Vic feel as if she had to lie. That was part of why when Vic did want to take someone in the family into her confidence, it was always Ginny.

"There you are", Ted whispered in Vic's ear. She shivvered slightly and turned round to face him.

"Sorry - Aunt Audrey was thanking me for keeping an eye on Molly and Lucy at Hogwarts....making sure they're alright and picking up things in Hogsmeade for them, and she and Uncle Percy were telling me about the OWLs option classes Molly is taking next year."

"Wow, that's right, Molly will be in third year after the summer. Time flies."

"I know. Anyway, they are just about to leave; I think everyone else is too."

"Yeah, the party is starting to break up. Its after four now, and with the Express going tomorrow, some people have packing to do, and others maybe feel guilty because they think staying holds Ginny up from getting James ready to go back to school."

"We'll be going soon too, I think." Before Ted could reply, Bill had wandered over.

"That's us just about to go", he said. "Dom and Louis haven't finished packing yet, and if I know them as well as I think I do, they'll both have some homework to finish as well. Did you tell her yet?"

"Tell me what?" Vic asked inquisitively. She looked between Ted and her father.

"I'm not going straight back to the flat, I'm going to the Leaky for a few with Wes and the rest of them, and I asked if you could be spared to come with us."

"So, that's what you were talking about."

"Amongst other things", nodded Ted, realising that when he had been speaking to Bill and Vic to Ginny, they had both been looking over at each other.

"Now, I have assured your mother that you are packed, and that your homework is finished, so if either of those things are true then make sure she doesn't find out about it."

"Daddy, you're the best!" Vic squealed as she hugged her father. "And both of those things are true, mostly. All I need to pack is my toilet bag, and I can't do that until after I've brushed my teeth tomorrow morning anyway."

"Don't be late, though - I know its a Saturday and you're on holiday, and that you're of age in less than a month, but I want you home for between nine-thirty and ten."

"She will be; I'll bring her home myself", Ted assured Bill.

"Have fun, sweetheart." He grinned at them, and then walked over to where Fleur was standing next to Angelina and Ginny.

"Ted, how did you get him to agree?!" Vic asked as if he had performed a miracle. Perhaps as an outsider he had always been able to see more than Vic had that she was her father's unofficial favourite. All it had really taken was some subtle hints that he wished he had been able to spend more time with Vic over the holidays, and how strange it was after her being around all the time, to have her so far away.

"A wizard never gives away his secrets", Ted told her with an air of superiority.

"Are you ready to go?" Rowland asked.

"Yeah, I just need to go and say thank you and goodbye to Harry and Ginny. Oh, Vic's coming with us too."

"If that's alright", she said.

"Of course its alright", said Ted dismissively. "I'll be back in a minute."

He walked over to the fireplace, where Harry and Ginny were waving off Angelina, George, Freddie and Roxie, who were flooing back to Diagon Alley.

"Bye! See you tomorrow afternoon!" called Ginny as her brother was the last of them to leave.

"Hey, I'm going to take off now myself. I just wanted to say thank you again - it was amazing of you to invite everyone over like that, especially with everyone going back to Hogwarts tomorrow."

"Don't worry about it", Ginny assured him. "What are your plans for the rest of the day?"

"We're off to the Leaky for a few quiet drinks." He indicated Vic and his friends, who were chattering away, nineteen to the dozen.

"Vic going too?" said Harry. "She's very organised, then; I was always finishing off my packing fifteen minutes before I had to leave for the train."

"Yep. And I spoke nicely to Bill - promised him she wouldn't be touching anything stronger than Butterbeer. I seem to be getting very responsible in my old age."

"If you're old, what does that make us?" scoffed Ginny. "Though, I have to say that I feel very young, thank you very much!"

"Funny. Oh, I forgot to ask - did James manage to get that picture with Katya that he was after?"

"Oh, yes. James can be very focused and persistent when he wants to be", Harry assured him. "He badgered Ginny until she got the camera out, and promised to clean his room properly if she would develop the film before he leaves tomorrow so that he can take it back to Hogwarts and show it off to all his friends. Apparently they will all be wildly jealous of him."

"Just make sure he doesn't mention anything about Wes and Katya being together", said Ted. "They don't want the Rita Skeeters of the world following them everywhere for a picture."

"Don't worry about it. So, did you get everything you wanted for your birthday?" asked Ginny.

"Yes, I did actually", smiled Ted, thinking of Vic and the fortnight they'd been able to have together. "I really did."

When they arrived at the Leaky and Vic told Hannah that they were celebrating Ted's birthday and Rowland added that they were having a farewell party for Vic going back to Hogwarts, six butterbeers and a large flagon of mead and six glasses mysteriously made their way, free of charge, over to the corner table they were sitting at. Between that, and the refills they had, time passed quickly, and Ted soon realised that it was eight o'clock.

"Wow, is that the time already?" he commented, as Rowland stood up to get the next round of drinks in. "Maybe we should order some food as well? Just a few sandwiches, and some sausage rolls or something?"

"Sounds good to me", said Rowland.

"I think I ate enough at the party, but maybe I should have a few sandwiches", said Vic. "I want to stay in bed as long as possible tomorrow morning, and I won't be able to do that if I need to get up for breakfast."

"That's true; we wouldn't want you to miss the train or anything", grinned Wes.

"Hey!" Vic threw a napkin at him. "That was one time, and I was in first year! You're as bad as Ted; he takes every opportunity he can to remind me of it!"

"Don't blame me", said Ted as Vic tried to glare at him.

"Your cousin Lily really is adorable", Mari said to Vic in an obvious effort to change the conversation. "She showed me her cat, and told me all about being a bridesmaid at that wedding you were all at a couple of weeks ago - her godmother's, she said."

"Yeah, and she hasn't stopped talking about it since", said Vic. "Actually, I don't know if Ted said anything to you, but I'm going to be a bridesmaid myself in the summer - Dom and I both are. Tante Gabrielle, my mother's sister, is getting married."

"You might - Katya, have you ever played against Michel Giquel? That's who Vic's aunt is marrying."

"Ve did play ze French once since I start to play for the team, but he vos injured. Maybe next time. He is a good Chaser. Victoire, you have a lot of Quidditch people in your family."

"I know", she grumbled.

"Do you know yet, how long you'll be in France for?" Ted asked tentatively. It was bad enough being separated from Vic when she was at Hogwarts, but when she was in France, and could technically be here with him.

"About two and a half weeks; maman wants to stay a few days after Tante Gabrielle and Michel go away on their honeymoon to make sure that grand-mere isn't too lonely. I think she relies on Tante Gabrielle being there more than she knows."

Their food did not take long to arrive, but with them chatting away so much, it was just after nine that they finished, and Ted pointed out the time, saying that Vic had promised to be home soon so she could spend some time with her parents before going back to Hogwarts the next day.

"Well, I - "

"I said I'd take you home as well", said Ted meaningfully. "And after that I should probably go home and crash; I'm pretty tired.

"Oh yes, so you did", Vic caught on. "Yes, we should be going. It was lovely seeing and catching up with you all; hopefully it won't seem that long until the summer."

Once Vic had hugged all four of his friends - their friends, Ted corrected himself - goodbye, he and Vic apparated to Shell Cottage, just down from the house, and Ted took Vic's hand, directing her onto the beach. Looking out to sea, there appeared to have been a storm recently, either that or one was approaching; with the light of the moon the waves crashed against the rocks and the sand swirled around their feet.

"I just wanted to say goodbye to you properly, and I can't do that at King's Cross; not unless you want to let everyone on platform nine-and-three-quarters know about us. I can't kiss you like this there."

"Like what?" Her lips curved up in a soft smile.

"Like this............"

After a quick walk on the beach, the casting of a charm to remove sand from both of them and a final kiss, Ted apparated back to his flat. Once he was gone, a slightly bereft Vic opened the back door, and walked into the house.

"I'm home!" she called. "Ted just dropped me off."

"Did you 'ave a good time?" her mother called from the sofa.

"Yes, I did. I get on very well with Ted's friends, and I like to spend as much time as I can with him when I'm home; I still haven't got used to him not being at Hogwarts to look after me", said Vic. "Thanks for letting me go."

"That's fine", said her father. "You coming to listen to the WWN?"

"No, I think I'll go and see if Hibou's about. Good night."

"Night."





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  #57  
Old May 5th, 2012, 1:48 am
MissGryffindor  Female.gif MissGryffindor is offline
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Re: Falling

Hey, thank you all for your lovely feedback!!!

A/N - As anyone who reads the feedback thread will know, I planned out this entire fic from the start, and have always known when everything will happen to Vic and to Ted. There is, however, finally one thing that I have changed! In this chapter, you will see Nat talk about going to a football (soccer) match with her boyfriend Dylan, and mention of his team winning. I had originally intended that they would tragically just be beaten by their local rivals, however just a few weeks ago the Aston Villa captain, Stilyan Petrov was diagnosed with acute leukaemia (as is mentioned in the fic itself) and I found myself changing it to a Villa victory and mentioning his name. I still remember the day years ago that our paths crossed, and we shopped in the same Glasgow supermarket at the same time! Although neither of us stay there now, it lives on in my memory, and I wish him all the best and a speedy recovery!! xx


Chapter 56



"Louis! Get a move on with that trunk of yours, and then you can bring your sisters' downstairs!" Vic clapped her hands over her ears as her father, standing next to her, shouted up to a tardy Louis.

"I'll be down in a minute!" Louis yelled back. Vic herself was only running ahead of time because everything had been prepared far ahead of time so she could maximise her Ted time over the last couple of days of the holidays. As she turned, went into the kitchen and poured herself some pumpkin juice, she could hear Louis dragging his trunk downstairs, cursing lightly.

"Why do I have to bring all the trunks down?" he grumbled. "You can use magic."

"Its character building", her father grinned as Vic stifled a giggle. In just a few weeks she too would be able to use magic whenever she wanted, and would be able to decribe doing things the muggle way as 'character building'.

"Character building my......" Louis muttered as he returned upstairs to bring down either Vic's trunk or Dom's.

"We 'ave to be going soon. Ees everyone ready?" Vic looked up to see her mother at the top of the stairs. "Ze train will be leaving in an hour."

Vic felt butterfies in her stomach at the thought of getting on the train that soon and leaving Ted behind; it was so different to the last time she had woken up to catch the train back to Hogwarts. Back in January she had not even been at home, but had awoken in a London muggle hotel and wandered to King's Cross with Nat and Mrs. Rivers. Then she had not been sure where she and Ted were; now she knew. Then she had been nervous about how he would be around her after their kiss; now she knew that all he wanted was a repeat performance.

Sadly though, that would not be possible in as public a place as King's Cross station. They had said their goodbyes the previous evening, Vic having stayed at Ted's flat for a while after they had left his friend in the Leaky; she was extremely thankful to her father for that. She wondered if her parents would have been quite so accomodating and quite so trusting had they realised that as well as being her best friend, Ted was also her boyfriend.

"Its not that long 'til the summer holidays. Not really", Dom assured her, perhaps guessing Vic's regrets about returning to Hogwarts. "Only nine or ten weeks, and with all the studying we have to do for the end of year exams, they'll pass by really quickly."

Vic nodded impreceptibly and wondered how Ted was feeling that morning.

Ted had promised to go to King's Cross with the Potters, and duly arrived at Godric's Hollow a little after nine thirty - which was at least a couple of hours earlier than Ted liked to rise on a Sunday. He stepped into the kitchen through the back door, and saw immediately assailed by the smell of frying bacon and eggs; Ginny was finishing up the breakfast, and once she had hugged him in greeting, asked Ted if he wanted to join them.

"I made extra...." Ginny wheedled.

"Ah, go on then. I can't say no to a bacon and egg roll - if you have rolls, that is."

"As always", she smiled. "Go on through to the dining room; Harry is still upstairs trying to make sure that James has everything, but Al and Lily should be there."

"Cool." Ted walked through to the dining room, where Lily was colouring in a drawing, and Al was pondering over a chess set.

"Teddy!" Lily looked up with a broad grin as he wished them both 'good morning'. "Daddy said you were coming with us this morning. He's upstairs with James getting his Hogwarts things ready."

"I thought he was going to do that last night after the party?" Lily giggled. "What?"

"James is in trouble", said Al with the superior air of the child who is not. "When mum went upstairs just supper to see how James was getting on with his packing, he was doing his homework. He left it all until last night, so dad was up late with him, making sure that it was all done. Mum said that if he did that again, she would start asking Uncle Neville for a list of his homework at the start of the holidays and make sure it was all done in the first week."

"I don't think James would like that", said Ted, hoping that James had realised the mistake he had made in crossing his mother.

"Nope!" Lily agreed, shaking her head wildly.

"Don't do that too much, you'll hurt yourself." Ted sat down next to her, and looked at the dragon she'd been drawing. "That's a good drawing, Lily bean. What kind of dragon is it? A Welsh Green?"

"Yes. Uncle Charlie gave me a book about dragons for Christmas, and the Welsh Greens are the ones I like best."

"Here we go", said Ginny as she brought in a large platter filled with bacon, fried and scrambled eggs, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, toast and rolls. It looked enough to feed an army, but Ted knew that once James and Al had their share, there would only just be enough left for the rest of them.

"Lily, go upstairs and tell James and your father that breakfast is ready, sweetheart."

"Yes, mummy." As Lily ran out of the room, Ginny advised Ted to get his roll sorted before she returned with James.

"Hey, Ted", grinned James as he sat down and heaped piles of scrambled eggs and bacon onto his plate.

"You nearly sorted out?" James nodded as he took a large mouthful of egg.

"Jufta cup o' fings", he replied through his food.

"Don't talk with your mouth full." Ginny sat down next to James, and made sure that Lily had enough before taking some for herself as Harry joined them.

Once they had finished breakfast, and the last of James's things had been folded into his trunk, they flooed to the Leaky Cauldron and, after a quick chat with Hannah, went on to King's Cross.

Although he was now nineteen, and no longer a Hogwarts student, the magic of King's Cross, going through the magical barrier to platform nine-and-three-quarters and the Hogwarts Express itself was still as wondrous to Ted as it had been at the age of eleven. A quick glance - one that he hoped was not too conspicuous - up and down the platform told him that Vic and her family had still to arrive. In the distance, he could see Percy and Audrey with their daughters, speaking to someone that Ted vaguely recognised as being high up in the Ministry. James immediately ran off to speak to one or other of his friends, and Harry and Ginny nodded at a few people, some of whom Ted knew by sight, if not by name.

Ted himself stood impatiently, looking around him and hoping that he didn't look too desperate in his wait for Vic to turn up. He was really going to miss her; even more so than he had over the months they had already spent apart since September 1st. And as much as Ted reminded himself that he would see Vic in just over a fortnight at the memorial service, and that it would be only seven or so weeks after that until the long summer holidays, it didn't remove the gap that was going to exist without Vic around. Thinking of Vic, Ted finally caught sight of Nat, and excused himself to go over and speak to her.

"Hello, stranger!" Ted gave her a quick hug. "Its been ages - how were your holidays?"

"Its good to see you, too! Holidays - hectic, fun, and over too quickly." Ted laughed.

"Yeah, that pretty much sums up how I used to see them sometimes. Vic's not here yet; I, uh, came here with James and the rest of them. How's that boyfriend of yours? Dylan, isn't it?"

"Good. He had a bit of studying to do for his end of year exams, but we still got to spend a lot of time together, sometimes with his friends and their girlfriends and sometimes just the two of us. Its getting harder and harder to lie io him each time I have to go back to Hogwarts."

"Yeah, I suppose it would be. I think that - "

"Oh, look - there's Vic!" And as Ted turned to the side to see where Nat was pointing to, he could not help the massive grin that grew across his face. She looked absolutely stunning in the pale blue skirt and white top she had worn, looking very like someone in a Springtime catalogue for witches fashion, and with a smile as broad as Ted's to match. Catching her eye, Ted felt the rest of the occupants of the platform fade away into the distance.

When they reached King's Cross Vic went through the barrier first, taking it at a run and hoping that Ted would already be on the other side, with her aunt, uncle and cousins. As she came onto platform nine-and-three-quarters, Vic looked through the crowds around her, and soon spotted Ted, talking to Nat about something, and laughing. Smiling, she started to walk over to them, wishing that Ted was getting on the train too.

Just before she reached them, Vic saw Nat, and then Ted, notice her. He was grinning widely, and Vic felt slightly giddy at the sight of him. They had only been together a fortnight, but their shared history and the length of time both of them had wanted to be together before what had happened at Luna's wedding made Vic feel sometimes as if they had been a couple for much longer.

"Vic! Its so good to see you again!" Nat exclaimed as she hugged her tightly. "I have sooooo much to talk to you about!"

"Me too", replied Vic with a grin. She hadn't yet told Nat that she was seeing Ted, only that she had news that she wanted to give her in person.

"Yeah, that's right!" Nat nudged her. "What's this big thing you have to tell me to my face? You haven't decided to ditch me and start hanging out with Ava Ackerley and her gang, have you?"

"I hadn't thought of that, but now that you mention it.......nah, it isn't that. I'll tell you on the train."

"Speaking of, I make it quarter to - I'll go and get us a decent compartment while you say goodbye to everyone." Nat hugged Ted again, and promised that when she had her apparaition license she would come out with them more during the holidays - even to a Magpies match. As she walked away, Vic turned her attention to Ted.

"I'm going to miss you lots", she said wistfully, looking up at him. "Its going to be hard, being apart all the time. I've been spoilt getting to see you practically every day over the holidays."

"It'll be an adjustment, but in all honesty I missed you anyway, Vic. Even before us, I missed you when you were away. We've just got to write even more than before, and start counting the days. I'll see you in a couple of weeks, on your birthday." The fact that her birthday was rarely celebrated as much as anyone else's remained unmentioned as it always was; Vic would never reproach anyone for thinking of those lost during the war on her birthday.

"I know. And I missed you too before all this. Maybe its for the best that we got together now - I'll have my exams to distract me most of the time, won't I?" And that fact reminded her that it was only just over a year now until she would be sitting her NEWTs. After that, she could leave Hogwarts, and spend more time with Ted.

"Exactly. And you and Nat will be able to keep each other company, both of you - "

"Teddy! Vic!" They were interrupted by Lily, who suddenly appeared at their side and told Ted that James was about to get on the train.

"I should be getting on as well", Vic said softly.

"You go and say goodbye to James, and I'll put my trunk away then come and say goodbye to everyone too." Ted nodded, and left with Lily.

Once she had stored her trunk and promised Nat she would only be a few minutes, Vic jumped back off the train again, feeling as if time was passing faster and faster the closer they got to eleven o'clock. Her parents were not far away, standing with Aunt Ginny, Uncle Harry and her cousins. Louis and Dom were not there; most likely they had already boarded the train for the trip.

"Aunt Ginny! I guess this is goodbye.....again", said Vic as she hugged her aunt. "I'm going to miss you all."

"I'm going to miss you, too. These holidays are always over far too soon. But then, the summer term is always the shortest." Vic hugged her uncle, and then Lily - Al it seemed was too grown-up to hug his sixteen-year-old female cousin in public - before turning to her parents.

"Maman...."

"Ma petite....you will write to me lots, n'est pas?" Vic nodded as she pulled away from her mother.

"Daddy." She hugged her father tightly. "Miss you...."

"You'll be fine", he assured her gruffly. "Make sure you write to your mother."

"I will do." Vic stepped away from them, and looked up at Ted.

"I'll walk you over to the train." Vic nodded, and started to walk away with Ted, her heart thumping.

"I know I can't say goodbye to you properly here - that's why I said it was time to leave before it actually was when we were in the Leaky last night - but I still just, sort of, wanted to say goodbye to you on my own." Vic nodded as she turned to face him. They were standing right beside one of the carriage doors. With the flurry of activity going on around her, Vic knew that they were very close to the departure of the Hogwarts Express.

"Why don't you come with me? You're a metamorphmagus - you could pretend to be a new student or something", Vic suggested wildly. Ted laughed.

"You know as well as I do that wouldn't work. And I think everyone would notice I was gone."

"Yeah, they would", she admitted. She held Ted's right hand, knowing that it being closest to the train, nobody that knew them would be able to see that far to notice. "I guess this is goodbye, then?"

"It is. But not for long, remember?" Ted pulled her into a tight hug, and then let her go far sooner than Vic would have liked. He kissed her cheek, and then smiled.

"You should get on the train. I wouldn't want to get either one of us in trouble if you missed it......again."

"That was once", sighed Vic, knowing she would never live it down. She looked at Ted and nodded one last time, knowing he understood how she felt at that moment, knowing she had to go and sort of wanting to, but wanting not to at the same time for the simple reason that he wouldn't be there to talk to every day.

"Go on - you have news to tell Nat, remember?"

"That I do - and you should tell Wes and Rowland at some point. Otherwise they'll keep setting you up with random girls." Ted had told her about the amusing attempts his friends had made at match-making over the past couple of months or so.

"I'll take my chances", grinned Ted. "After all, I can always morph into someone else at a party if I want to escape."

"True", nodded Vic. She hugged him tightly a final time and then boarded the train as a loud whistle sounded. Vic let down the large corridor window, and hung out of it, waving to Ted as the train left the station. Once Ted was out of sight, she sighed heavily and then wandered along to the compartment she and Nat had managed to grab. Luckily, Nat seemed to have sensed that Vic needed to talk, and had not got a compartment near Dom, Louis or anyone else they knew particularly well.

"You get to say goodbye to everyone?" Nat asked as she looked up from a muggle magazine as Vic entered the compartment.

"I did. Sorry I took so long."

"Its fine."

"So.....how is Dylan?" Nat laughed. "What?"

"What? Vic, you have been holding out on me with something, you promise to tell me when we get on the train, and now you're asking after Dylan?" Her laughter increased. "Just how patient do you think I am?"

"Hmmm, very?" Nat snorted. "Okay - what do you want to know?"

"Ted likes you", said Nat bluntly. "The way he looked at you on the platform - if you think there's nothing there then you're thicker than Kara Towler, and she still believes that Girton Eastwich left Vampires Anonymous for 'creative differences' even after his former fiancee admitted that her affair with his bandmate had been going on for years."

"I know", laughed Vic. "I know he likes me. He told me."

"He told - he told you?!" Vic nodded.

"At Luna's wedding. Things had been awkward on and off all day, and then we were outside and he kissed me, and I apologised because I thought I'd been the one to kiss him, and then he sort of took the plunge and said that he'd liked me for a while. So I told him that I'd liked him for ages......and since then we've been together."

"Oh, Vic!" Nat hugged her. "I am so happy for you! I - I know I've tried to hold back on the whole thing with you and Ted, but I didn't want to interfere - not after you'd known each other for so long; much longer that I have known either of you - but I cannot think of two people better suited to each other. You and Ted have been coming together for a long time, and I am so chuffed for you that it has finally happened."

"Really?"

"Really. And how did everyone else react? What did the parentals say?"

"We....we haven't actually told them yet", Vic admitted awkwardly, and then explained to Nat how she and Ted wanted to adapt to being a couple as much as possible before telling the family.

"It would put a lot of pressure on us", she added finally. "We've told Dom and Louis, though."

"Well, you didn't really have much of a choice, I suppose, after how Dom was with Genie." As much as she hated to do so, Vic had to admit that it had played a part in telling her sister.

"I'm glad for you and Ted. It'll last - you feel something real for him, much more than you did with Hem or Evan. Anyone that's seen you with all three of them would be able to see that."

"Thank you", said Vic shyly. "And how about you? From your letters it looks like you and Dylan had a good time over the holidays."

"We did", said Nat wistfully. "I saw him virtually every day - even though we did spend a lot of time with his friends. It was a bit strange; it was like I was seeing how my life would have been if I'd been a muggle."

"And?"

"And.....it wasn't awful. Although there wasn't any magic involved, I had Dylan, and we had fun. I'm not saying that I'm going to turn my back on the magical world - far from it - just that I learnt that I could live without it if I had to. If I woke up tomorrow and found that the last six years had been some sort of a dream."

"So you get on with his friends, then? That's important - I kind of got the impression from Mari and Katya that although they don't know about Ted and I, they prefer me being there to Caro."

"That wouldn't be hard."

"Maybe."

"I do get on with them, though some of them find it a little odd that I go to a boarding school they can't find anything out about. I ended up spending last night with all of them too. You know that football team Dylan likes - Aston Villa, the one I call Aston Vanilla?" Vic nodded, recalling vaguely the ice cream reference and wishing momentarily that the woman that ran the food trolley on the Hogwarts Express also sold ice creams.

"There was a cup quarter-final last night against their local rivals, Birmingham, and Aston Villa won after they scored in the last minute. One of Dylan's friends, Christopher, wanted to go before the end so we could get the earlier train home, but the rest of them insisted on staying. And then they scored the winning goal. Then half the fans removed their football tops and started swinging them around above their heads. Football fans can be a little disturbing."

"Dylan says the team have all been playing better recently, since their new manager took over. Petrov. Dylan says its a miracle he's there to take over - apparently he had leukaemia, which is a serious muggle disease, and survived it - and all the fans seemed to love him. None of them think he can do any wrong."

"Sounds like you're getting into it just as much as Dylan is", said Vic perceptively. She was glad that Nat and Dylan had found each other. He had seemed lovely when they'd met, and Vic looked forward to the day when he would find out about Nat's magical life and realised just how Vic fitted in. There were probably a lot of muggles that hated magic as much as the pure-blood supremists hated muggle-borns, but Vic did not believe Dylan was among them.

Ted's smiled diminished slowly as he waved at Vic and watched the Hogwarts Express pull out of the station. As much as he had tried to buoy Vic up about the fact that they would be able to see each other again at the memorial service, it felt like forever away. At least he had got to say goodbye to her - that hadn't been the case in January. Knowing that it would be thought odd if he did not, Ted wandered back over to where the assorted Potters and Weasleys were assembled. He noted that Percy and Audrey had joined the group, and were chatting away.

".......and Arithmancy. Of course she favours the more intellectual subjects offered", he could hear Percy say, and knew from what Vic had said that they must be talking about Molly's OWL options.

"Vic does Arithmancy", Ted reminded them. "Maybe if Molly wants to find out more about the subject, then she should ask her?"

Percy nodded, and said that he would owl Molly that night to suggest it, before adding that they should start making a move for The Burrow - where the rest of the family, and then a large Sunday dinner would be awaiting them. Maybe it was his feelings for Vic, or just the change in atomosphere, but Ted always found the Weasley family gatherings that took place immediately after the departure of the Hogwarts Express a little empty, and bare.

"Alright?" Ted looked to his left and saw that Ginny had joined him as they walked towards the barrier through to the muggle part of King's Cross.

"Fine", he lied. "Just feels strange coming here and not getting on the train."

Ted walked forward, and then wandered through the barrier next to Lily.

"How are you, Lily bean? Going to miss James?"

"Yes", she said with a nod. "Its too quiet when James isn't at home. I like it to be noisy, and lots of people."

"You're back at school tomorrow as well, aren't you?"

"Yep. And mummy says that Auntie Luna is back tomorrow too, and on Tuesday or Wednesday after school we can go over to see her and see pictures from her wedding! And I'll be in them because I was a bridesmaid."

"You'll enjoy that." Ted smiled for the first time since the train and Vic had left.

"Vic told me that she's going to be a bridesmaid too, when her Tinty Gabrelle is getting married in the summer holidays."

"Tante Gabrielle", Ted corrected as he stifled a laugh and realised he had found the source of the humour he would need to balance out the absence of Vic.

The following day, Ted sat at his desk at work, staring at the small, chiming clock that sat on his desk, thinking for the millionth time about Vic, and smiling at the thought of the time they had spent together over the holidays. He also tried to think ahead towards the summer and plan all the things they could do over the long period of time she would be home then. There were the Vampires Anonymous concerts over the summer that they would have to go to with their friends, and the tickets would be out within the next week or so....perhaps -

"Earth to Ted?" Ted jumped up in fright and saw that Isadora had been trying to attract his attention.

"Sorry", he said bashfully.

"Don't worry about it", she laughed with a shrug. "Its Monday; most people have trouble concentrating on Mondays at the best of times."

"That's not what I - Vic left yesterday", he admitted. He had a sudden compulsion to tell someone about his relationship with Vic, and knew that Isadora wouldn't say anything to anyone about it.

"Ah. I take it you're still pining after her?"

"Yes and no." Ted decided to take the plunge. After all, Vic had met Isadora - albeit briefly - and had liked her. "Vic and I sort of got together a couple of weeks ago."

"Congratulations! Oh, Ted I know how happy you must be! How exciting!"

"Just - could you not tell anyone? Vic has been my best friend since forever, and we want to make sure it is working out, really working out, before we tell her family."

"They don't know? Not even your godfather?" Ted shook his head.

"I think Ginny has an idea, though. That I like Vic, and what's going on." Their conversation was interrupted by a squeal from the other side of the room, and Ted glanced over to where Albie, Pandora and Willa were. He raised an eyebrow, but Isadora shrugged in response. He stood up, and walked over to them.

"Albie asked me to marry him yesterday!" Pandora screeched as Ted arrived at their desks.

"Wow - congratulations!" Ted hugged Pandora and then shook Albie's hand. "I didn't realise - "

"You have to come to our engagement party", insisted Albie "On Saturday."

"Sure thing", said Ted with a grin. "Sure thing."

And distraction number one seemed to have appeared.........





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  #58  
Old May 12th, 2012, 1:13 am
MissGryffindor  Female.gif MissGryffindor is offline
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Re: Falling

Thank you once again for reading!


Chapter 57



Although she was far from keen on the sport in general, as Vic walked down to the Quidditch pitch with Nat for the final game of the season, she had to admit that the Gryffindor obsession with the possibility of winning yet another Championship had at least distracted her thoughts of Ted, and how much she missed him.

"Is this how you deal with missing Dylan when we're here?"

"Pretty much, Like I told you on the train on Sunday, you just need to keep yourself busy. Between studying, and Apparition lessons, and Duelling Club I manage it quite well. Of course you have the added advantage of actually being able to tell Ted what you do every day. Part of the reason I like my mother writing to me about what she is reading is that I can then pretend I studied the book as part of my coursework - imagine writing about studying Human or Inter-Species Transfiguration! By the way, today we are attending the last House Games of the season, where the best athletes in our House complete for the Championship."

"That is sort of true, actually", Vic acknowledged as they walked up the stairs in the Gryffindor stand. "In a way, Quidditch players are athletes, and they are competing for a Championship."

"Mum calls it equivocation and starts talking about priests and recusants in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries - at which point I tend to tune out. Basically its not actually telling the truth without full out lying."

"Nat, this is turning into far too intellectual a conversation for this early on a Saturday morning!" Vic laughed as they took seats a couple of rows behind Dom's friends. Looking down further, she saw Evan's friend Persephone who waved at her.

"Take it Dom's pretty nervous even though she claims not to be?"

"Yeah. She has a tendency to put on a front about these things. Its her first final, and I know James has half been hoping that an injury or something might push him into the team, which won't help her nerves." One consequence of the almost constant practices over the past few days was that Dom and Louis were being forced to work unceasingly together as part of a team. In Vic's optimistic opinion, that could only be a good thing.

The last game of the season was Vic's favourite for two reasons - firstly, it was the last, and secondly, it was the only one that didn't take place during the winter. Only a cloak and Gryffindor scarf was required - no warming charms. And they were not standing long before the Quidditch Commentator Julianna Jessop appeared in the teacher's box between Professors Longbottom and Willoughby, the Heads of House for Gryffindor and Ravenclaw respectively, and the two teams entered the stadium with the Quidditch and Flying teacher Professor Davies.

"Welcome to the final match of the season as Ravenclaw challenge reigning champions Gryffindor!" Julianna's voice reverberated around the stadium. "As it stands, both teams have two victories each this season, and a win for either team can secure the Quidditch Cup! Gryffindor have a slightly better points difference, so the pressure is all on Ravenclaw today in a reverse of the situation from last year, when it was Gryffindor that had the inferior points difference."

"That's good", Vic muttered to Nat. "Takes the pressure off if a draw is enough." They watched as Professor Davies spoke to Felicia, and to the Ravenclaw captain Edmund WInter, and then released the quaffle, bludgers and snitch.

"And we're underway as Boot takes the quaffle, passes to Bradley, who is intercepted by Dominique Weasley - "

"Go, Dom!" Vic shouted, cheering on her sister.

"Weasley passes to Thacker, to Summersby, back to Thacker - Thacker scores! Cadwallader was nowhere! Evan Thacker scores the first goal of the match for Gryffindor! Ten-nil to the Lions. But we've still got a long way to go, and Ravenclaw are getting tough as Cuthbertson thwacks a bludger at Eddie Summersby, who just manages to dodge it, but drops the quaffle. Its picked up by Winter, who passes it to Bradley - Bradley shoots - Bradley scores!! Benjamin Bradley pulls Ravenclaw even, and the match is on!"

The match continued to be even for the next hour or so, and Vic watched, heart in her mouth as Louis gave away a penalty that Bradley mercifully missed, as Dom scored five goals, and Ravenclaw managed to pull out a twenty point lead.

"The quaffle is with Weasley - Thacker - taken by Bradley - Winter - Boot - goal for Boot! Xavier Boot gives Ravenclaw a thirty point lead, and - is that the snitch? Seekers Felicia Thornton and Jasmine Entwhistle speed off towards the Ravenclaw goals - has the snitch been sighted? Thornton goes for the post, and then spins round to grin at Entwhistle - it was just a ruse to distract the Ravenclaw team, and it appears to have worked. Dominique Weasley has just scored her sixth goal of the game and reduced the gap between the two teams to twenty points."

"Dom's doing amazing!" Nat yelled in Vic's ear as they jumped up and down to celebrate Dom's goal.

"I know!" Vic shouted back, excited that it was her sister that was winning the team so many points. Their excitement was short-lived, though, as Ravenclaw seemed determined to win, and scored fifteen goals in the next half an hour, with Gryffindor only managing two in response, from Dom. Gryffindor were looking increasingly reliant on Felicia catching the snitch for a draw or win, while Ravenclaw seemed to be trying to build a gap of more than a hundred and fifty points, so it wouldn't matter who caught the snitch.

"And here comes Weasley - she shoots - she drops the quaffle as she's hit simultaneously by smartly placed bludgers from Fenton Jones and Charlie Cuthbertson, and its caught by Winter........" Vic ignored the rest of the commentary as she watched Dom manage to land her broom on the ground, clutching her right arm and shoulder.

"Dom!" She tugged Nat's arm. "Come on!"

Vic ran down the stairs, and then out on the pitch, ignoring the match going on above her as she sped over to her sister.

"Dom!"

"Its dislocated", a ghostly pale Dom gasped from the ground. "My shoulder - and I think I might have broken my arm as well."

"Come on - Nat, help me." The two girls picked Dom up from the ground, and started to walk out of the stadium, and head towards the school. As they got part of the way up the hill, they heard cheering loud enough to indicate that the match was over.

"Madam Buchannan!" Vic called as she and Nat walked Dom through the door of the Infirmary.

"What do we have here?" The Matron bustled over to the three girls, her curly blonde hair billowing behind her, and looked at Dom. "Well, someone's been in the wars, no mistaking it. And what happened?"

"I was playing Quidditch", gasped Dom.

"That, my dear, I can see", Madam Buchannan replied drily. "And specifically?"

"Bludger in the arm and shoulder. She thinks she's broken her arm and dislocated her shoulder", said Vic as they helped Dom over to one of the beds. The Infirmary seemed empty; the exam-panic season appeared not to be upon them as yet.

"Tut tut, that's no good", muttered Madam Buchannan as she inspected Dom's shoulder and arm. "Well, it appears that you are correct, Miss Weasley. I'll be able to mend everything, but it'll cost you a night here."

"Ok", said Dom with a groan. "I wonder who won?"

"To be honest, I don't know that I actually care - I just wanted to make sure you were alright", Vic told her with a sigh of relief as she heard shouting coming from the corridor outside.

"I wouldn't make that known among the Quidditch team", snorted Nat softly as Vic turned to see the entire team - plus Dom's friends, James and Professor Longbottom walk into the room.

"Dominique! How are you?!" Felicia exclaimed with a grin as she walked over to them, and didn't wait for an answer. "We won the cup!! On points difference, but it is still a victory - the party is getting started in the Tower as we speak!"

"Dom can't come; she has to stay the night here." Vic explained her sister's injuries.

"You were amazing", said Louis as he came to the fore. "Seriously - we would never have won the cup if you hadn't scored all of those goals today. Scored more than Evan and Eddie."

"Exactly!" exclaimed Professor Longbottom with a smile. "Just like your aunt!"

"Thanks", Dom muttered, turning a bright shade of red as she took a pain relief potion Madam Buchannan handed to her. "Yeuch."

"I should write to maman tonight", Vic whispered to Nat. "Let her know everything. I need to write to Ted as well - I promised I would let him know what happened."

The Gryffindor victory party started off in the Infirmary around Dom's bed until Madam Buchannan - with the help of Professor Longbottom - moved it on to Gryffindor Tower. Although Felicia was made to promise that the party wouldn't be too wild, as the large group returned to their common room, it was noted by more than one of them that no time limit had been set.

On Saturday morning, Ted wandered through Diagon Alley, trying to find an engagement present for Pandora and Albie, completely unsure what to buy. As he browsed the odds and ends in Martha's Magical Maze, he started to think that the concept of the prefect gift was a myth. He had rejected household items as being too big, and something like a bottle of Rosmerta's mead as being too small. Deciding to move on, Ted smiled at the shop assistant as he left without buying anything, and turned left, bumping immediately into Hem and Matt.

"Ted! Long time - how are you?" Matt asked with a grin.

"Not bad", he shrugged. "Just getting some shopping done. A couple I work with just got engaged, and the party's tonight; I wanted to buy a present, but I'm not having the best of luck picking one out."

"You need a girlfriend", Hem told him. "Then you'd have someone to do that sort of thing for you." Ted smiled and wondered, not for the first time, what Vic had ever seen in Hem Lyttleton.

"Maybe", shrugged Ted.

"Speaking of, Matt and I ran into Felicia Thornton at the Leaky last weekend - you didn't tell us that Victoire had broken up with Evan. The two of them seemed a bit offended when I had a go at them on her behalf - well, until it became clear that I didn't have a clue about him and Victoire splitting."

"Yeah. I, um......I figured it was Vic's thing to tell, and I wasn't really sure if she wanted people to know about what happened", said Ted lamely, avoiding the fact that he had held back to prevent Hem making a play for Vic. He was sure then as he was now that Vic would never give Hem a second chance, but as a best friend Ted felt that it was his duty to protect Vic from the guy that had cheated on her.

"Is she seeing anyone?" Hem asked. "I know that Ravenclaw Beater Jones quite liked her, and so did Crowther. Then there's that awful friend of her brother's that always followed her around......"

"She's not looking for another relationship right now", said Ted carefully. That wasn't a lie, at least - Vic wasn't looking for another relationship in addition to the one she was already in.

"Shame. Such a waste for a pretty girl like that to be single." Hem shook his head.

"How about you, Matt?" Ted asked. "You seeing anyone?"

"Nothing permanent. I went out with Mattie a couple of times - Caro's friend? - but it didn't really work out. I'm actually going for drinks tonight with Hem, Lydia and one of the other Trainee Healers, Bessie Blount. Should be good."

"Excellent." Ted glanced at his watch. "I should really be going - I still have to find something, and I promised my grandmother I would stop by at some point this afternoon, so....."

The boys said goodbye, and Ted walked down Diagon Alley, staring at windows that while well-appointed, did not give him much inspiration. While passing Quality Quidditch Supplies, Ted was transfixed by the sight of the new Firebolt model, and it took Isadora a few shouts of his name for Ted to realise that she was there.

"Sorry", he said sheepishly. At least if he was late for his grandmother, he would have a good excuse beyond his distinct lack of shopping prowess.

"Its fine", she laughed and held up a bag. "I've just been to Gladrags to pick up something new for tonight. I was going through my wardrobe, and couldn't find anything I'd worn less than twice, so I figured I needed a new outfit."

"That's weird - I've actually spent the past hour and a half trying to find a decent engagement present. What did you get?"

"Well nothing, with the - oh, you're at St. Mungo's on a Friday afternoon. Willa came round everyone yesterday afternoon and suggested that we all contribute a few galleons and get them something really nice."

"I spent an hour and a half shopping for no reason?" Ted squeaked. He could have had extra time in bed, or written to Vic, or gone to Godric's Hollow for a visit; he wouldn't have bumped into Hem, who seemed to be growing more and more obnoxious every time Ted met him.

"Sorry. If I'd thought that - "

"You know what, its fine. Its a nice enough day for a wander. I think I'm just going to head to Honeydukes and then go home."

"I should get going too - takes this girl a while to get ready for a big party! See you tonight." She turned and started to walk down the street.

"See you!" Ted called after her. Sighing with relief that he no longer had to find a gift, he went to Honeydukes, and bought a box of Vic's favourite chocolates to send to her, as well as a small box of chocolate mints for himself. As big as it had been, the pile of chocolate Ted had received on his birthday had already started to diminish.

Back in his flat, Ted sat down at what was possibly one of the least used dining tables in the country, and started to write a letter to Vic.

To my favourite Victoire,

I miss you lots - after all the time we spent together over your holidays, it feels a little strange not having you around at all at the moment! I hope you like the chocolates. I saw them in Honeydukes and thought of you.

I haven't really been up to much since I wrote a couple of days ago. I went to see Grams on Thursday evening, and stayed for dinner. She says hello, by the way. And then last night I went to Godric's Hollow. Lily was hyper because Luna has given her a beautiful picture of the two of them before the wedding, and she can't stop showing it off. Ginny had to put a Freezing Charm on it so she could take it into school to show her friends and teacher.

Hope that everything goes alright with the Quidditch Final. You can take the boy out of Gryffindor, but not Gryffindor out of the boy......I am sure they'll crush Ravenclaw! You'll have to let me know what happens with the match.

I have Albie and Pandora's engagement party tonight. It should be a lot of fun, and I'll have to introduce you to them, and to Willa and her husband when you're home in the summer. There is sooooo much we have to fit in to those two and a bit months......maybe we should try and pick up a time turner from somewhere to make sure we squeeze it all in!

I also just wanted to say - you know me better than anyone, and that I am pretty awful to deal with at this time of year because of who I am. From my birthday for about a month I am usually a nightmare. But this year, while I'm still conscious of the anniversary to come, and am dreading it as much as I always do, you have made it less awful and made me happier already than I ever was before.

Missing you lots, and I'll write again soon,

Love,

Ted

x


Hoping that he wasn't freaking Vic out by making it clear just how much he felt for her, Ted folded the letter into an envelope, and laid it to the side to send off as soon as his owl returned.

That night, he apparated over to the house in Upper Flagley in Yorkshire where Albie's sister Annabetta lived, and where the party was to be held. He opened his eyes to find a large cottage on the edge of a village, bedecked with balloons and banners outside, and the music coming from inside was identifiably magical.

Ted knocked on the door; it was opened by Pandora, who gave Ted a large hug and invited him in. From the goofy smile on her face, and the shrieking that he didn't tend to associate with Pandora, he assumed that the party had already been going on for quite a while.

"Its so good to see you! We have champagne!"

"So I see", he replied with a grin.

"Pan, who - " Ted turned to see Albie coming out of one of the rooms. "Hey, Ted - good to see you, mate. Come on in, we'll get you a drink and introduce you around."

Ted followed Albie into a large, crowded room, filled with faces that he mostly didn't recognise, where music and conversation drowned out most of what Albie was saying to him.

".......Annabetta first", he managed to hear over the surrounding din. Ted followed Albie over to where a pretty woman with curly auburn hair was talking to a small girl around Al's age, and realised that this was Albie's sister and her daughter, who was due to start Hogwarts with Al and Rosie at the end of the summer.

"Betta, this is Ted - Ted, Annabetta", said Albie, as the little girl ran off. "Ted works in the Department with Pandora and I. Ted, this is my sister, who for some insane reason volunteered to have this party here tonight."

"Albie, sweetheart, you couldn't organise a Quidditch pick-up game at the Arrows stadium, and it wouldn't be fair to put all of this on Pandora. Besides, what are big sisters for?" She turned to Ted. "Do you have a big sister? I always think that every man needs one."

"I don't", Ted replied with a grin. "There's just me, but I sort of see my godfather's children as surrogate siblings. The three of them are all quite a bit younger than me, though."

"Well, you should have one", Annabetta said with a nod. "Someone to give you a nudge in the right direction."

"I'll think about it", promised Ted. "Its nice to meet you."

"You too."

Ted soon tracked down a few people from the department - Stanley Winters, there with his grumpy-sounding and heavily pregnant wife, Ted avoided. Isadora, wearing a set of pale lilac dress robes and standing next to her flat-mate Sally Moon, Ted did approach.

"Nice to see a familiar face", he said, handing the two girls a glass of champagne each that he had taken from a levitated tray.

"Thanks", said Isadora. "We saw you avoiding Stanley and his wife as much as we did. Poor man; his wife is never in the best of moods towards the end of her pregnancies, and she seems to spend so much time in that state."

"I'm sure they're lovely people", said Ted. "And how are you? Did you manage to get everything done that you needed to after I met you in Diagon Alley?"

"Pretty much", she nodded. Sally snorted.

"You know as well as I do that you spent most of the day getting ready", Sally pointed out.

"So did you", Isadora retorted. "And its not like I'm out every weekend; I go out rarely - and yes, when I do, I like to dress up and spend a lot of time getting ready."

"Its fine", Ted assured her. "After all, I can't say much. I've got a feeling that I'll spend the rest of my life waiting for Vic to get ready to go out somewhere. She's a bit of a perfectionist....oh."

"What's wrong?" Isadora asked.

"Nothing.....just......." Just that he had acknowledged something that had been swirling around his mind for three weeks now - this thing with Vic was something very much for the long term. "Nothing."

It was actually turning out to be quite a good party; Albie's sister gave a speech welcoming Pandora into the family with the right balance of humour and fluff, everyone was merry - but not too merry (Pandora excepted) and Ted was able to find himself having a good time. He was chatting away to Sally and Isadora about his disgust for Rita Skeeter and the latest article she had written for the Prophet, attacking the laws they were attempting to pass, when he finally caught sight of Willa and her husband, Leighton, who came over with broad grins on their faces. Willa introduced Isadora to Leighton, and then turned to Ted.

"I know you were against it a few weeks ago, but I just wanted to let you know that Amala is here tonight."

"Amala?" Ted asked in confusion.

"Ted, we told you about her ages ago", Willa assured him. "She's an interpreter for the - "

"Yeah, I remember now." Amala was the girl that they had tried to set him up with for Valentine's Day; moping around at the thought of Vic, Ted had turned down the opportunity to meet someone new, and had used wanting to be on his own for a while as an excuse.

"Well, its more than two months now. Do you think that maybe you're ready to meet someone now? If you don't like Amala, then there are lots of other friends of ours that would love to meet you." Ted blushed.

"As flattered as I am, the answer is still going to be 'no', I'm afraid", he admitted.

"But, Ted - " Willa protested.

"What Willa means is that you are passing up on an opportunity few would give up", said Leighton. "And if you pass it up now, there is a chance it won't be offered to you again. And believe me when I say that this is a chance that lots of men would give up Quidditch tickets for."

"I'm sure", Ted laughed. He appreciated the thought, and their persistence; they obviously cared, and it showed. "The truth is, I already have a girlfriend."

"Who? When?" asked Willa eagerly.

"Its - we only got together about three weeks ago, and we're taking it pretty slow. I.....we haven't really told many people yet, so I would appreciate it if you didn't say anything."

"No problem", Willa assured him. She turned to walk away, towards a levitating tray carrying glasses of fresh champagne, when she moved back towards Ted and whispered in his ear.

"She's not.....married.....or anything, is she?" Ted laughed out loud and shook his head. Coming to the party had been worth it just for that; he would have to remember to tell Vic about what Willa had said in his next letter.

On Sunday afternoon, Vic was in the Gryffindor Common Room with Nat rushing to finish her Defence homework. Like the rest of the Gryffindors, she had been up late to celebrate their Quidditch victory (not that she had much choice in the matter given the noise), and had not emerged from bed until it was almost lunchtime. Madam Buchannan had assured her that it would be later on in the day that Dom would be permitted to leave the Infirmary, and so Vic was using the free time she had until then productively.

"I hate homework", she groaned, unsure what to write next about defending herself against vampires. "The practical stuff is much better, and I've started enjoying it even more since we joined Duelling Club at the beginning of the year."

"Practical is always more interesting than theory", agreed Nat. "Less writing. And - hey, isn't that....." Nat pointed at the window, at which Vic noticed Ted's owl.

"Yeah, it is", Vic muttered as she wandered over to let the bird in. She carried a parcel and letter from Ted, which Vic ripped open immediately with a broad grin.

Vic sat down at the table, holding onto the chocolates that Ted had sent her as she read through his letter; 'I saw them in Honeydukes and thought of you.'"

"He is completely spoiling you", Nat informed Vic.

"I know. Isn't it sweet? Who knew that Ted was really a romantic at heart?" Vic smiled softly.

"Us, apparently. What does he say?"

"Nothing much", Vic shrugged. "Just what he's been up to, that he was going to an engagement party last night, and that he misses me."

She didn't mention the last bit of his letter; even before either of them had left home to go to Hogwarts, Vic had known that Ted was unhappy between their birthdays. Ever since she had been able to understand that, and understand why he was unhappy, Vic had wanted to change that, and make him smile as he always did. And now, without really knowing it, she had managed to do so.

As she began to eat the chocolates that Ted had sent - her favourites - there was a commotion at the portrait hole, as Dom walked gingerly in, welcomed by a large round of applause and supported by Louis. Vic almost did a double-take; after everything that had happened between her brother and sister over the past year, it sickened Vic that she could be so surprised that he had been the one to meet her from the Infirmary (from which she had obviously been released earlier than Madam Buchannan had previously intended).

"Dom!" Vic exclaimed. "I was going to come and get you soon."

"Madam Buchannan gave me time off for good behaviour", she replied with a grin.

"How are you feeling?" Nat asked her, as Vic sent one of the younger girls upstairs to let Dom's friends know that she was back.

"Stiff and sore, but apart from that I'm fine."

"I should go - I said I'd meet Genie in the library", said Louis. "Catch you later, Dom."

"Bye. Thanks for coming to meet me."

"Don't worry about it." Vic watched her brother walk back through the portrait hole, and looked from there to Dom and back again with incredulity. Had she stepped into an alternative universive in which Dom and Louis had been nothing but friends for the previous twelve months?!

"So.....Louis came to meet you?"

"Yeah", said Dom, a slightly guilty look on her face. "I've been a complete cow to him, haven't I?"

"I wouldn't say it was all your fault", said Vic tactfully.

"Just most of it?" Vic shrugged. "I suppose I should really get round to making an attempt to tolerate Genie."

"She really isn't all that bad", Vic assured her sister with a smile. Before they could talk further, Dom's friends came downstairs and crowded her - leaving Vic to muse on the power of a bludger.




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  #59  
Old May 19th, 2012, 1:00 am
MissGryffindor  Female.gif MissGryffindor is offline
Second Year
 
Joined: 2891 days
Location: SCOTLAND
Age: 31
Posts: 244
Re: Falling

Chapter 58



As he munched on his toast on the morning of May 2nd, Ted tried his hardest to focus on the positive thing that was going to happen that day - he would see Vic - and not on the fact that it was now nineteen whole years since his parents' deaths. It was sad to think that in just a few years time, his mother will have been dead for as long as she had lived. Thoughts like this were inescapable for Ted on this day each and every year, and had been for as long as he could remember.

Perhaps it was the fact that both of his parents, and not just one of them, had died in the Battle of Hogwarts that made it so difficult for him. If his father had survived, he could have told Ted lots of stories about his time at Hogwarts - stories that Harry had told him instead. Or, if his mother had survived, she would have been the last one to hug him goodbye as he went off on the Express for the first time - not his grandmother.

But wishing did not bring back the dead. Well, not unless you had a Resurrection Stone.

Vanishing the crusts of his toast, Ted stood up and wandered through to his spare room, where the boxes filled with the memories and mementoes his parents had left behind had been stored since he and his grandmother had cleared out her attic months before. Ted picked up a hard-backed annual released by the Weird Sisters, with the name N. Tonks messily inscribed inside the front cover. He flicked through it, before laying the annual down and opening another box, guiltily picking up one of the journals that his father had written in - a box that had remained untouched since Ted and Vic had looked through it for information on the Animagus transformation over the Christmas holidays.

June 15th, 1978

For someone that didn't believe they would last seven weeks at Hogwarts, it feels strange to be coming to the end of my seven years here. Proving (along with Prongs finally getting together with Lily) that miracles do sometimes happen.

Its great to finally have NEWTs over and done with. No more sleep deprivation because I've been up until after one or two o'clock in the morning checking potions ingredients and plant uses. Instead I have sleep deprivation because Padfoot, Prongs and Wormtail are treating the last fortnight of school as an almost constant party. Even Lily is betraying me and saying we'll only have this little period of freedom here once. Oh well, I suppose they can't do much to us now. Evan Professor McGonagall has given up on handing us detentions. I think she might actually be dreading us leaving.

Never mind Professor McGonagall, I'm dreading leaving. At least here I can pretend that there is a place for me in the magical world. What am I going to do when I leave Hogwarts? Everyone is talking about training to be Healers, Aurors; working for the Ministry in some capacity or other. If it wasn't for his desperation to fight in the war, I think James would have taken up that offer from the Falcons or the Arrows.

I do like old things.....and books.......perhaps I could work in a library or antique shop - maybe a used book store? If nothing else it would annoy Padfoot every time he came to meet me from work. Its a shame I can't be an Auror, and actually fight this war, but my furry little problem rules that out. The Ministry don't want someone like me working for them.

I must finish here as there has just been a message to say we need to go and see Dumbledore. Wonder what we're supposed to have done
this time.........

Ted smiled softly at the old, neat writing of his father. Perhaps that had been the day Dumbledore had asked them to join The Order of the Phoenix? He wondered how his father had been asked - how his mother had, too - and looked again at what he had written. It was the self-deprecating tone of someone that thinks they and their life have no value.

"But you did", said Ted aloud. "Without you, I wouldn't be here. You fought in two wars and were the best Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher my godfather ever had. You made my mother happy. You co-wrote The Marauders Map. You had lots of value, and I hope that wherever you are, you can hear me saying that. Maybe mum, Sirius and Harry's parents are with you too - and Grandpa Ted - telling you that I'm right."

Ted laid down the journal, went back through to his bedroom and picked up the birthday present he had bought for Vic, and then apparated to his grandmother's house to pick her up; they were due at Godric's Hollow around ten.

As she went out into the grounds after a late breakfast, Vic couldn't help but feel a little odd. After all, today was her seventeenth birthday and she was finally of age. She could use magic during the holidays; she could sit her Apparition test, and if successful apparate whenever she wished; she was now considered......an adult. And yet, Vic didn't feel any of the excitement she was supposed to feel.

Perhaps, she mused as she glanced into the distance and saw the teachers setting up down by the Black Lake, it was because she had become so used to her birthday being first and foremost a day of remembrance; a day to pause and think rather than one in which people rushed in and acted, as they had done on the day of the Battle of Hogwarts. Others, Ted had once told her, might be put out at having their birthdays overshadowed by such a momentous anniversary and not being able to celebrate properly. Vic had never seen it like that; her parents and grandparents had brought her up to believe that the date of her birth was a sign of the new world that they were building after the fall of Voldemort.

A pile of presents remained unopened in her dormitory, and Nat had tactfully muttered something about returning a library book when Vic had announced her intention to go for a walk. Vic smiled softly; Nat was a friend she could not have got through the past almost six years without. As much as Ted had been there, Vic enjoyed having a friend completely unconnected to her extended family.

He would be there today too, Ted. The two and a half weeks since she had seen him last had seemed to simultaneously pass so fast and so slow, and she could not wait to see him again. They had written almost constantly - every second day - and Vic smiled as she recalled the story Ted had told her about his admittance that he was in a relationship to his friend Willa. He also promised that over the summer, he would introduce her to Willa, and to Albie and Pandora.

She walked without aim or destination for a while, just thinking, and eventually came back to the school at (according to her watch) a little before eleven. Noticing the time, her strides became larger; the family wouldn't be far away, and Dom and Louis might be looking for her. Her brother and sister, at least, would please their parents today. While Dom had not yet progressed any further than being civil to Genie and not simply ignoring her, it was still a vast improvement from the past two or three months.

Close to the school itself, Vic looked down towards the memorial statue, and saw a flash of pink through the trees. Ted.

Vic turned back round, and walked down to the statue, where she did indeed see Ted. As had been the case twelve months ago, his hair was neither blue nor the sandy-brown colour that he had kept while at school, but the vivid pink his mother had sported in most of the pictures Vic had seen of her. And as had been the case twelve months ago, he was sitting on the grass, staring at the statue.

"I thought I told you last time - you'll get yourself covered in grass stains if you stay like that too long", she said softly. Ted turned round, and although his eyes remained painful and moist, she could see the edges of his mouth curve up a little as he looked at her. Standing up, he pulled her into a tight hug.

"I've missed you", he muttered into her shoulder. "This day is awful, but you being here makes it a lot easier to get through. It always has."

"Thank you", she said, surprised. Vic had always assumed it was something like the opposite; that her birthday being that day had made things awkward.

"I - I have your present with me. I'll give it to you after the service." Vic nodded as they drew apart.

"I take it everyone else is here?"

"Yeah. Harry and Ginny have gone with Ron, Hermione and the kids to see Hagrid; Grams has gone down with your grandparents to bag us some seats; everyone else should be about somewhere."

"We should go and find them." Vic took Ted by the hand and turned to walk back up to the school, when she felt Ted tug on her hand and draw her back close to him.

"I really have missed you, you know", he whispered as he pulled her into a kiss.

A few moments later, once they had reacquainted themselves with one another, Ted and Vic went down to the lake where the seats were all laid out for the service. As Ted sat down next to Andromeda, Vic hugged her grandparents and was generally fussed over as the only grandchild on the spot.

"You're looking very peaky", her grandmother informed her. "I know you're of age now but are you sure that you're getting enough sleep, and eating properly?"

"I'm fine. Honest, Gramma", Vic assured her. "I could maybe do with a little more sun, but even you and I can't control the weather here. "

"Zere you are!" Vic heared her mother's voice from behind, and turned round. "Your fazzer and I 'ave been looking for you everywhere."

"Sorry. I....I met Ted, and then I came down here." She hugged her parents in turn, as they each softly whispered birthday greetings in her ear.

"Dom and Louis will be down soon", said her father. "I'm glad to see them getting on better than they were during the holidays."

"Et moi."

Vic didn't really pay much attention to the service, and when asked afterwards what she had thought of Kingsley's speech (senior members of The Order of the Phoenix took it in turns to make a speech each year about the bravery of those that died during the war) merely shrugged. She had spent the entire service staring, unashamedly, at Ted and fidgeting with the mood bracelets he had given her for Christmas - bracelets that had once belonged to his mother.

They had been friends - best friends - for so long, and it was hard to think of things that she had never told him about herself, and yet Vic felt like she was seeing for the first time just how difficult it was for Ted to sit through the service and hear his parents' names, his grandfather's name, mentioned among the rest, almost like objects rather than real, live, breathing people. She saw how his left arm tightened around his grandmother; how he wasn't ashamed to let the dampness on his cheeks remain; how he sat up straight, proud to be the son of two people that had given their lives for something they believed in. He was proud of them, and Vic.....Vic was proud, in turn, of Ted.

It was a mark of how much things had changed, how the landscape of their lives had shifted, that Vic didn't think twice about opening the gift that Ted handed to her a little after the service had finished and everyone had broken off into little groups to talk before those leaving returned to their homes.

"Wow", whispered Vic softly as she opened the parcel to find a set of earrings that looked identical to the bracelets she wore. "Ted...."

"Do you remember I told you about that wild kneazle-hunt I had, trying to find an engagement present I didn't need to buy for Albie and Pandora?" Vic nodded as she pinned them to her ears. "I was in an antique shop, and I saw these in passing. I didn't think anything of it at the time, because they weren't really suitable for an engagement present, but then a couple of days later I thought that maybe they might match with your bracelets."

"They are beautiful."

"They've found the right owner, then."

"You did say that your grandfather found these bracelets in a junk shop. Maybe they were once part of a set and we have reunited them."

"Maybe."

"Ted..." Vic looked him in the eye. "Ted, I want to tell my parents about us."

"You're sure? Because once we tell them, we can't un-tell them. Not unless your memory charms are better than mine." Vic smiled.

"I'm sure. I've been thinking about it on and off for the past couple of days, and now I've decided. If....if its alright with you, that is." They had been together for around a month, and their relationship had survived her return to Hogwarts. And Vic felt ready. For the first time, she was confident enough in a relationship to go to her parents and tell them that she was with someone she cared a lot about. They had never known about Hem, and her relationship with Evan had been forced into the open. For the first time, Vic was going to break out of that pattern.

"Its your decision. We should tell my grandmother as well. You want to do it now?"

"I do." And for some reason it felt like today was the right time to tell them. As if somewhere Ted's parents were looking down on them and encouraging them along. Vic took Ted's hand and walked over to where her parents were standing with Dom and Louis.

"We were just about to come looking for you", said her father. "Your mother and I are just about to leave."

"Where did you get ze earrings you 'ave from, Victoire? I did not see zem before", interrupted her mother before Vic could reply. Vic glanced at Ted and smiled; their joined hands had escaped notice thus far.

"They're a birthday present. From Ted." Her mother - ever the observant one - commented that Vic had always left opening her presents until the evening. "I, uh, I made an exception."

"You see, the thing is......the thing is, Ted and I have been sort of seeing each other for a few weeks now. Since Luna's wedding, actually." She looked at Ted and then turned back to face her parents. "No, that's not right, saying we've 'sort of' being seeing each other. We have been seeing each other."

"Wow!" Dom gasped.

"Dom and I will be back in a few", said Louis tactfully. "We should go and say goodbye to Gramma and Gramps."

"I must say zat I am shocked", said her mother. "I did not theenk zat you and Teddy - "

"I think what your mother is trying to say is that you've always been such good friends. Best friends. And have you considered what might happen to that if things didn't work out between the two of you?"

"Oui. C'est ca."

"We know where you're coming from, and we have thought about it. A lot", Ted assured him.

"I know this has come as a surprise to you, and to maman, but for Ted - and for me - this has been coming for a while. And.....the truth is, I've never been as happy as I am now." She smiled at her father, hoping that he would be on their side. If sides were to be taken. Vic hoped fervently that her parents were just in shock, and not angry with her.

"Ma petite, your fazzer and I just want to make sure zat you are 'appy and not making a mistake. Eet has not been zat long seence you and Evan broke up. Maybe - "

"We broke up because of Ted", said Vic bluntly, knowing instinctively that at this moment honesty was very much the best policy, however awkward it felt telling her parents about her love life. "Because I liked Ted as more than a best friend. Like I said, this isn't something that has happened suddenly; its something that has been coming for both of us for a while now. Months."

"A year, really", said Ted.

"You know it'll be hard?" her father told them. "One of you away here, and the other at home. You'll only see each other over the holidays."

"Its only for a year; Aunt Ginny and Uncle Harry managed it - so did Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione."

"Your fazzer and I just want to make sure zat you are 'appy", her mother assured her.

"Are you ready?" Harry and Ginny had come over, and were looking at them questioningly. Vic saw Ted nod as he caught Harry's eye.

"Un moment." Vic had long since discovered that when surprised or speaking privately amongst a crowd, her mother reverted to French.

"We won't be long", her father translated. "Just - "

"Ted and I are seeing each other", Vic blurted out before she could think about it; before she could ask Ted. She automatically assumed he would be alright with it, after what he'd told her about his conversation with Harry when he had missed the Express leaving back in January, and hoped that he would understand.

"Yeah, we are", he affirmed as he squeezed Victoire's hand. She turned to him and smiled; it was like they were a team.

"Since Luna's wedding", added Vic. "But.....we would appreciate it if you kept everything to yourselves for the moment. It is a big deal to the two of us, going from being best friends to being what we are. And we want to be able to adjust to it and everything before telling everyone. I mean, I can just see Gramma planning our wedding if we told her. We're not ready for that yet."

"Who knows?" Ginny asked. "Just so we don't say anything to the wrong person."

"I've told Nat, Dom and Louis", said Vic. "Apparently Dom and Louis had a bet going over it."

"I've only told Willa and Isadora from work", muttered Ted. "And then only to stop Willa from setting me up on a blind date, and Isadora because she knew how much I liked Vic." Vic smiled as she thought again of the letter Ted had written to her about his mention of their relationship to Willa. She hoped that this was all going to work out; that her instincts were right.

Ted held tightly onto Vic's hand as they briefly explained a few things to Harry and Ginny; although telling people had been her idea, Ted agreed with it wholeheartedly. May 2nd had always been an awful day for him; a day with almost solely negative connotations. Extending the circle of knowledge regarding his and Vic's relationship went against that, and pushed happy thoughts to the front of his brain. The type of thoughts that rarely made it there on this day.

"We should go and speak to Grams", he whispered to Vic. She nodded, and explained where they were going as he gazed off into the distance. Luckily she was just finishing talking to the Minister of Magic. As Kingsley walked away from her, Ted and Vic walked towards his grandmother.

"There you are, Teddy. I though I was going to have to come and find you; Harry and Ginny said they're almost ready to go." It was tradition that once the service had finished, all the non-Hogwarts Weasleys and extended family went back to Godric's Hollow for something to eat and a few drinks, to toast those that were no longer with them.

"Yeah, we were talking to them." Ted pointed up to where Harry and Ginny were still standing next to Bill and Fleur. Ted knew that they had given Vic's parents a fright, but hoped that they realised just how much he really did care about her; how serious he was about their relationship.

"Grams.....I - I - " Ted glanced at Vic, and saw her encouraging smile. "I have a new girlfriend."

"New?"

"New." Ted nodded. He knew she was worried that he and Caro had got back together again, and assured her that was not case. "In fact, its....its Vic."

"Victoire?" His grandmother seemed as surprised as Bill and Fleur had been, and Ted looked back at her defiantly. He wasn't giving up Vic for anything, and hoped it was just surprise - after all, he couldn't see what his grandmother would see wrong in Vic. Besides, perhaps, the fact that she was two years younger.

"Yes."

"Teddy, you are happy." It was a statement and not a question, and he nodded.

"I am. Very."

"Good." She hugged him.

When they went back to Godric's Hollow, it was not until after the food had been eaten, and everyone was talking quietly in small groups, that Ted found himself in the dining room with Harry, Ginny, Bill and Fleur with an Imperturbable Charm on the door.

"I know its a bit awkward for everyone" said Ted, figuring that since it was his relationship, he could be the one to break the silence. "But Vic and I are serious about this. Honestly. I wouldn't screw with the best and oldest friendship I have for nothing. Like Vic said before, this has been coming for months."

"Ted, I want to make one thing clear", said Bill. "Fleur and I have nothing against you. We just want to make sure that Victoire is happy, and that she knows what she is doing."

"She does", nodded Ted.

"In ze last six months, you and Victoire 'ave both ended your first big relationsheep", said Fleur. "Et - ees thees a reaction to zat?"

"Vic told you about the thing with her and Evan. I never liked him. It took me a while to figure out it was because of how much I liked her. As for Caro - most of the last few months, it was just about me trying to forget about Vic because I didn't think she felt the same way I did."

"And France?" Fleur added.

"I took Caro to France because you told me Vic was in love with Evan", admitted Ted. "I hadn't though about it much before, not going away with her, and then half an hour after you told me what Vic had written to you, I was asking her. And all that trip did was make me think of Vic, and how much I wished she was the one showing me France."

It took a while, but Bill and Fleur eventually seemed to be convinced, and left, looking contemplative. As they left, Bill reiterated that it was nothing personal against Ted.

"Your parents were both good friends of mine; I just want to make sure that my daughter is happy. You understand that, don't you?" Ted nodded. "I'm not against you and Vic, and Fleur and I won't stand in your way. We just want to make both of you realise the big step you're taking."

"We do. And - and I've wanted this for a very long time. It sometimes freaks me out a little, but I can see Vic and I being together for a very long time."

"You knew", Ted said simply to Ginny as they were clearing up. "I could tell by the way you looked at me, and that you didn't always believe what I said."

"I had an idea", she admitted. "All cirtcumstantial evidence - nothing for certain. Unlike Bill and Fleur, I don't worry that this is a short-term thing. Having seen both you and Victoire over the last few months, I think this is something that will last a very long time."

"Thank you."

"No problem. I'm just proud that you took my advice at Luna's wedding. Maybe I'm the only one that saw it for both of you."

When they got back to his grandmother's house, Ted decided he might as well use the moment to pose the awkward question.

"It is....I mean, you're definitely alright with it? With Vic and I? Its just - the look on your face when I told you - "

"Teddy, I am very happy for you. And for Victoire. No, its - when you told me, there was such a look of defiance on your face. It reminded me of your mother, and the day she told me that she was in love with your father."

"Oh", whispered Ted. That, he had not expected.

"I cannot deny, as I have said before, that I was not shocked when your mother told me. But when she did, when she explained, I understood. And I am sure that my own parents - well, you know as well as I do that they did not approve of your grandfather. If you are happy, that is enough for me."

"Thank you. I am. Happier than I can ever remember being. Even today - even today, there is still something, the part of me that thinks about Vic, that is happy." Even on the worst day of the year, Vic managed to make him feel like he had everything to live for; like it was a day for life and not death and remembrance.

A day that had started off being about nothing but pain and misery had, thanks to Victoire, become about so much more. And to Ted, that sort of represented his life now; anything bad was turned good because of her - because of Vic.




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Old May 26th, 2012, 1:25 am
MissGryffindor  Female.gif MissGryffindor is offline
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Re: Falling

Chapter 59



The Magpies managed to reach the end of season cup final, and Ted found himself included in the mass of people that Katya invited back to her flat for the party she was holding to celebrate their semi-final win. As he helped himself to a butterbeer and a few sandwiches that someone had provided, surrounded by Magpies players and backroom staff, Ted smiled at the thought of the look on Rita Skeeter's face had she been there.

"Cheers!" said Wes, raising his bottle as he came over to where Ted was chatting with Rowland and Mari about their plans for the summer; they hoped to go away to the coast for a few days, and aside from spending time with Vic while she was home, Ted mentioned that he had been thinking about asking Harry, James and Al away for a weekend camping trip (perhaps when Vic was in France?)

"Cheers." Ted raised his butterbeer in response.

"We were just talking about our summer holidays", Mari told Wes. "You have anything planned?"

"Not much. Katya's got the European Championships, but we're thinking about going to Russia for a week or so in July. She, um, she wants to introduce me to her family and friends back home", Wes told them sheepishly.

While Katya played Keeper for the Russian international team, Wes was not yet part of the England team that would be going to the European Championships in Germany. Ginny had told Ted, however, that with a couple of the Chasers due to retire soon, Wes would possibly get a chance to play for the national team in a couple of years.

"Haven't Russia been drawn against France?" said Ted, vaguely recalling the article he had read in the sports section of the Daily Prophet that morning.

"Yeah. The draw has just been announced", said Wes, sounding surprised. "I didn't think you paid attention to that sort of thing."

"I don't usually. I woke up early, couldn't get back to sleep, and read the paper. The article also had a preview of each of the teams. Once of the French Chasers that'll be playing in the tournament is Michel Giquel - by the time the first match starts, he'll be Vic's uncle."

"That's right!" Rowland exclaimed. "I remember you telling us her aunt was marrying one of the players on the national team. No wonder you picked up on it if Victoire is involved."

"She mentioned it in her last letter", he replied truthfully with a shrug. "Gabrielle had sent her some drawings of what the dresses are going to look like."

"Should be a good tournament", said Wes. "Though I'm not sure what I'll do if it ends up being England against Russia in the final. Should I be a good boyfriend or a good patriot?"

"Good boyfriend", nodded Mari earnestly. "It'll earn you a lot more goodwill. How is Vic, Ted? I'm looking forward to her being home in the summer; it'll be good to get to know her better."

"She's fine." He smiled at the thought of the parts of Vic's letters he could no longer share with them. "Working hard. Its almost exam time soon, and she has her Apparition test this weekend."

"Actually, she, um, Vic and - " Ted was interrupted as one of Wes's teammates called him over to witness one of the coaches attempting to drink an entire flagon of mead in twenty seconds. He sighed as Rowland and Mari followed Wes to watch.

Ted stood and gazed upon the scene from a distance. He had been so close to telling them. After all the teasing he had taken from his friends over the past few years, it was hard for him to actually get the words out. Five small words - Vic is now my girlfriend - and yet, he couldn't seem to say them. It had taken the entire outing to the match and the party so far for him to summon the nerve, and now they were all off watching Jerry Easthampton downing some mead.

He knew how much Vic wanted his friends - their friends they were now, really - to know about their relationship, and felt a little bit like he was letting her down. Ted had tried more than once since Memorial Day to tell them, but had stopped himself at the last minute. It wasn't that he was worried they wouldn't accept him and Vic being together; the manner of their teasing told Ted that much. More a combination of guilt that he hadn't told them before about how much he liked Vic, and a dread of the teasing that would ensue.

"That was immense!" Wes laughed when they came back over to Ted a few minutes later with Katya in two. "Did you see that, Ted?"

"Yeah, I did,"

"Sorry we ran off when you were in the middle of saying something", Mari apologised. "What was it you were going to say about Vic?"

"Vic? Oh.....I'm sure it wasn't anything important. Just that I know she's looking forward to seeing lots of all of you in the summer as well. That's all. Of course, she'll be in France for a fortnight, but the rest of the summer she'll be here. Well, home, I mean."

"Are you taking much time off work over the summer?" Rowland asked Ted.

"A bit. The thing is, if I take a full holiday, then there's nobody to run the support group. I suppose I could leave it to the trainees, but its a bit much for some of them. Although they're all obligated to go as part of their training, its obvious that some of them just don't want to be there", he admitted. "I could do what I did at Easter - take the week off and still go in for that; its only a couple of afternoons. Like I said earlier, I'm thinking of trying to organise a camping trip with Harry and the boys. We could go away after I've finished at the hospital and then come back Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning."

While there were some trainees - like Hem - that saw the support group as an easy way of making his superiors think well of him, and others like Hem's girlfriend Lydia that genuinely wanted to help people, there was a small, hardcore group of them that were completely opposed to what he was trying to do to improve the lives of people like his father. Ted had hoped that being part of what he was trying to do might change their minds, but so far he hadn't experienced any luck in that department.

"Thanks. I hate camping", said Mari as she took a glass of mead that Rowland had gone to get for her. "Even in the fancy tents we have. I like my home comforts. Maybe it goes back to the camping trips my parents took me on when I was little. I used to hate them."

Ted enjoyed the party, and was already looking forward to Wes being able to play in such a big match, but he couldn't help but feel bad about not being able to blurt out news of his relationship with Vic. Why couldn't he tell them?

"Destination, Determination, Deliberation. Destination, Determination, Deliberation", Vic repeated this mantra as she wandered down the road to Hogsmeade as part of the group of sixth years about to sit their Apparition tests. Nat, who would not come of age until the summer holidays, was currently sitting in the library and working on their Herbology essay.

She was feeling a little nervous; being the eldest of the cousins, Vic always felt a little like there was pressure on her to do everything well as she was 'the first'. And she knew how much Uncle Charlie and Uncle Ron had been teased behind their backs for failing the first time round. However, Vic had been able to achieve apparition on more than one occasion, and so was hopeful she would be able to do so again today.

"Nervous?" Vic looked up to see Curnow Crowther and Jake Burton, two of the other Gryffindor sixth years, walking into step beside her.

"A little", she admitted. "You?"

"Nah, got this is the bag", grinned Curnow.

"Alright for you", grumbled Jake. "Haven't been able to do it yet, have I? Not even at that practice session in Hogsmeade the other week."

"You'll be fine this time, though, I'm sure", Curnow assured him.

"We'll see."

"We can resit in the summer, if we just miss out today", said Vic. The summer, those far off days she would be able to spend with Ted. Seven, or was it eight weeks until the holidays? They turned a corner on the path, and the village of Hogsmeade came into sight. It was a lovely day, and Vic had to shade her eyes from the sun.

"At least we're getting out of the school for a while", Jake conceded. "I can't wait for the exams to be over and done with. And we never really do that much the last few weeks of term. The teachers are so worried that anything we do learn will have gone out of our heads by the time September comes around."

Vic smiled as the two boys grumbled about the amount of revision they both had to do, feeling that they had a cheek to be complaining like that. Curnow was taking five NEWTs and Jake four; Vic had taken seven.

"Here we are, then!" Miss MacDonald, the Ministry instructor gathered them all around her outside Madam Puddifoot's, and smiled at them encouragingly.

"Now, you shall each take it in turn to attempt apparating to outside Honeydukes sweetshop, where my colleague Mr. Britten will be waiting for you. As we have discussed before, in order to pass and obtain your Apparition License, every last part of you must arrive at your destination. Even the disappearance of an eyebrow, nail or fingertip will result in a fail. We shall complete this in alphabetical order, so would Miss Ackerley please come forward?"

Vic watched as Ava, always so smug, stepped forward with a hint of nervousness in her gait and on her lips. They twitched not in malice or superiority, but in fear. Merlin, thought Vic, she must be growing up if she could see the human side of Ava Ackerley so.

As her fellow sixth years took their turns one by one, Vic wandered up and down, focusing on the three key words. Destination. Determination. Deliberation. She was used to being near the end of the line; it had been the same during her Sorting, and during her practical OWLs the years before. Finally, once an extremely nervous looking Eloise Urquhart had vanished from sight, it was Vic's turn.

"Victoire Weasley", said Miss MacDonald. Ignoring the snorts of Gilbert Yaxley, she stepped forward. "Alright now, don't be nervous. Okay, so - destination - determination - deliberation. Concentrate on Honeydukes sweetshop and good luck." Vic nodded, and then closed her eyes, thinking with all her might of Honeydukes. She felt a swooping sensation in her gut, and when she opened her eyes again, Vic found herself at the front door of Honeydukes, and face to face with a Ministry wizard holiday a clipboard.

"Miss Weasley, I presume?" the wizard asked.

"Yes."

"Let's see.....you've brought all your limbs with you, that's the main thing. Ears - yes; eyebrows - yes. Could you hold out your hands, please?" Vic obliged. "All fingernails too. Excellent. And no bald patches - lucky young thing! Well, I'm pleased to say that's a pass, Miss Weasley. Congratulations!"

"Thank you." Vic sighed a huge sigh of relief, and then felt a massive, broad grin grow across her face. She had done it! And first time, too.

"And now if you move along into The Three Broomsticks, you shall find your classmates celebrating and commiserating. Doing quite well so far - your year group must be an intellligent lot. First time in fifteen years that we haven't had a splinching. But perhaps I shouldn't speak so soon and tempt fate!"

"Maybe", smiled Vic. "And thank you very much."

"No problem at all my dear. Your license shall be sent out by owl within the next fortnight."

Vic turned and almost skipped in the direction of the pub. She was a fully-fledged witch, completely able to apparate and therefore master of her own destiny during the holidays! She could apparate to Nat's, to Ted's. She no longer had to floo her aunts, uncles and cousins or her grandparents when she wanted to visit.......

"Victoire!" As soon as she walked through the door, Vic was hailed by her Ravenclaw acquaintance Louise Carwell, who was sitting with a couple of her housemates. Vic got herself a butterbeer and then wandered over to where the three smiling girls sat, obviously basking in the memory of their newly-earned apparition licenses.

"From the smile on your face, I see you passed too", said Louise with a grin. "You know Minette and Nell, don't you?"

"Yeah, I think we've studied together a few times. Oh well, Cheers!" The four girls clinked their glasses together.

"An apparition license means freedom", said Nell dreamily. "I can go where I want, when I want during the holidays."

"And we'll never have to floo anywhere again if we don't want to", sighed Minette. "I hate having to use the floo; especially when I'm all dressed up. And you have to ask someone else to do a Dusting Charm on you."

"Did you hear about Antoinette Jackson and Alasdair Smart", asked Minette. Vic shook her head.

"Caught in Greenhouse Four", said Nell. "After hours. Of course, their other halves Georgiana and Nicholas were not happy AT ALL. Winter wasn't happy either; he's said more than once that things like that will cost us the House Cup." Vic nodded; Ravenclaw had not won the House Cup for a few years now, and were currently about thirty points behind Gryffindor - close enough that they were within catching distance.

"How is your studying going?" Louise asked Vic.

"Not too bad. I've been getting quite a few hours a day done in addition to our coursework, and its going a little bit mental, what with seven subjects to balance."

"Seven!" Minette exclaimed. And she was a Ravenclaw. Victoire nodded.

"But....its NEWT level work. How can you - how can anyone - how do you manage?"

"Only just", laughed Vic. "Between that, Duelling Club and my prefect duties - not to mention the apparition lessons we had - it was quite a bit to juggle. I suppose when you have to do something, you have to do it. And I enjoy all of the subjects I do. There are some I gave up that I miss, but I had to narrow it down somewhat."

"I really don't get it - why can't I tell them?" Ted asked Isadora as they caught up on Monday morning and planned their weekly workload after the departmental meeting. "Wes and Rowland have been my best mates since First Year at school and I get on well with their girlfriends. They know everything about me - what happened to my family during the war, that my father was a werewolf, what I want to do with my life and why....so why can't I tell them I've started seeing my best friend?"

"From what you've told me, it sounds like you're waiting for the perfect moment to tell them. For everything to be just right, like you were with Vic. Only - it didn't end up like that with her, and it won't end up like that with them. The next time all of you are together, just tell them. And make it soon - otherwise Vic will start to worry that you don't want to tell them."

"I guess." Ted knew Isadora was right, and he would tell them. Soon. "Thanks. You give good, common sense advice, you know. Just like Ginny does."

"If you think that's a good thing", she laughed.

"I do."

"I keep meaning to ask - I have been given the unwelcome task of sorting out holidays over the summer. Obviously everyone who is entitled to have time off should, but its a matter of making sure that everyone isn't off at the same time, leaving us under-staffed. The European Championships are on this summer, which doesn't help matters. Do you have anything planned?"

"Nothing for sure. A weekend away camping, though I don't know when." Ted had brought it up the night before, when he'd been over at Harry's, and he seemed enthusiastic about it - though he did make Ginny promise to send them on their way with suitable provisions, saying that after a year on the run during the war he wasn't camping in the cold with very little food ever again. "How about you?"

"Sally and I are going to Peru for a weeks with a few of our friends at the start of July. If you want time off when the Championships are on, I suggest you make your mind up soon."

"Its alright. Maybe if Wes was playing....hopefully he'll be close to the team for the World Cup in a couple of years. That would be good."

"That's much more your sort of thing than mine. You wouldn't catch me giving up my holidays to watch Quidditch.

"And now we should really get back to work", sighed Ted. "Which day this week is the L. E. A review meeting?"

"Wednesday." She looked at her diary and then told him it was arranged for half past three. Since the war, it had been customary for new laws to be reviewed approximately 3 months after they had been passed by the Wizengamot; it allowed the department that had put forward the law to examine how effective it had been.

"And if that's working out alright, when do you think we can make a move on increasing the availability of Wolfsbane? Did Roush give you any feedback on my idea about forcing a maximum price to make it more accessible to poorer people?"

"Yeah. He, um, thinks we should lay off it for a little while. We got into a bit of an argument about it on Friday afternoon, actually. I think the Skeeter articles are starting to get to him; she's been relentless in her attacks on the department recently and I think Cresswell is leaning heavily on him to push legislation from other parts of the DRCMC forward for attention."

"Oh." Ted slumped a little.

"He did say that he's heard good things about your support group, though", Isadora added. "And that's something that will help us going forward. One thing I have come to learn over the years I have been here, is that sometimes you have to bide your time and play the office politics game. If you push too much, you'll end up getting shifted around between departments and never really be able to achieve anything. We have to make the right move at the right time."

"How very Slytherin of us."

"Maybe. But it works."

Ted hoped it would work; he was willing to play the game if that's what it took to finally achieve his dream of free Wolfsbane being handed out to each and every werewolf for each and every full moon; for his father's sake he had to do what it took. And for those that he met at his support group. Those lovely men and women that were affected by something that was not of their choosing.

It took quite a few days for the novelty of passing her test to wear off for Victoire, even if it she was prevented from actually using it by the restrictions on apparition within the grounds of Hogwarts. She also felt a little guilty that Nat had not yet sat her test, though as her friend had pointed out, it was only because she wasn't of age as yet; she would sit for it during the summer holidays.

"Ted still hasn't told his friends about us", said Vic. She had received a letter from him after dinner, and it occupied her mind more than their Potions homework as they studied in the library. As much as she believed his explanation that the timing had not been right, the insecure, sensitive part of Vic worried that Ted didn't really want to be with her, and that he had just gone along with everything since the Easter holidays to placate her. She knew that it wasn't true, but that little part of her - that little voice inside her head - that disputed any attempt she made at happiness, told Vic that Ted wasn't as serious about this as she was.

"He will", Nat assured her. "Ted's absolutely crazy about you. Anyone with two eyes can see that. Merlin, I'm surprised it took so long for both of us to see that."

"Really?"

"Really", affirmed Nat. "You're - you're not having second thoughts about everything with Ted, are you?"

"No", said Vic vehemently.

"I just want to make sure that he likes me as much as I like him", she admitted. Nat snorted.

"It took me a long time - until the day you told me that you and Ted were together - to realise just how he feels about you. Vic....Ted adores you. Ted worships you."

"I wouldn't quite go that far."

"I would."

"Sorry. Thank you. I mean - I just want everything to go right with Ted and I. As dad and maman so succinctly pointed out to me, it would wreck everything between Ted and I if it didn't. He is my best friend, and I don't want to lose that. Not for anything."

"Vic, you're looking for something that isn't there, if you're after something to come between you and Ted", sighed Nat exasperatedly. "Something that REALLY isn't there. You said to me before that Ted's friends had been teasing him for ages about liking you. He probably doesn't want to deal with the even more intense teasing that he will likely be on the receiving end of, should he tell them about the two of you. Like I said, its nothing really."

"You're right; I know you're right", said Vic as she doodled on a spare piece of parchment. "Its just that, I'm almost scared by how much I want this thing between Ted and I to work. I need to make sure that it does."

And that's what stopped the little voice in her head going away.





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