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"So," Bill spoke up after a couple moments of silence, arms draped over Fleur's shoulders and eyes still trained on the running and playing kids a little ways down the yard, and Teddy looked over at him with raised eyebrows in anticipation for whatever he was about to say. "When are you going to marry my daughter?"
"Ec-excuse me?" Teddy stammered and nearly fell over as he flailed in surprise, and Fleur smiled and smacked her husband on the arm good natured-ly.
"Oh, please," Bill rolled his eyes and ducked down to press a kiss to the top of his wife's head in apology for his behavior. "I've seen the way he looks at her—it's only a matter of time."
"I—well—yes," Teddy struggled to straighten out his thoughts, because Bill was right. He had been trying to find a time to talk to Bill (and Fleur) about all of this, but he didn't want to make it obvious to Victoire, and he wasn't quite sure how Bill had figured that out. "I would like to marry her. I don't really think that's a secret."
"Why?" Fleur was the one who asked, and the sharpness of her tone surprised Teddy as much as the question itself did, and he looked up to Bill (who was looking back at him expectantly) to make sure he wasn't going to add anything else before he turned his attention back to Fleur. The younger of the two had been fluttering about, helping Molly and Ginny and Harry and some of the others clean up after dinner until she had happened to venture too close to the two men standing around just watching the rest of the kids run, and Bill had reached out with two strong hands to grab her. Fleur had protested at first, smacking at Bill's sides and insisting in a mix of French and English that she needed to help his mother and siblings, but Bill had stood his ground, and eventually Fleur had relented and settled back into his arms to watch their kids and listen to the idle conversation going on above her.
Obviously, she had an opinion about where the conversation had turned, and Teddy didn't mind her partaking in it—in fact, he was kind of happy he was only going to have to explain himself once.
"Well, for starters, I love her—"
"Oui, c'est bon et all, but love does not make a marriage 'ork," Fleur turned her head to look at him and Teddy blanched a little under the calculating look in her gaze. "Marriages ar' 'ard work, jeune Edward. Zey ar' zacrifice an' giveeng up what you want for the betterment of votre époux. Zey are accepting your spouse's famille and your spouse's relationships with them. Zey are renouncing your opportunities wit o-zers you haven't even met yet, because you know eet would upset ze one you've promised yourself to. 'Ave you thought about that?"
Fleur wasn't exactly hateful with her words, she loved Teddy and Teddy knew that, but she was…blunt, and Fleur's accent almost never showed through that much unless she was tired or emotional. That wasn't exactly the problem, though (other than the fact that the depth of her emotions scared Teddy a little), the problem was that Teddy had thought about all of that, and he knew everything she'd been saying, but he didn't know how to say that without sounding disrespectful or like a petulant teenager.
"I think what my beautiful bride is trying to say," Bill interjected softly after a couple of moments of silence, squeezing her shoulders and slouching down enough to drape the side of this head over the top of hers, to try to help bridge the gap between the two of them. "Is what brought this on? Why do you think you're ready?"
"It's—I don't—A couple of weeks ago, we had a fight," Teddy sighed, figuring that was just as good of a place to start as any, because the speech he'd planned out had already been shot to hell. "Vic had been having a rough time at work, and I was upset because I wasn't getting to spend any time with her, and her friends literally just about kidnapped her on her way home, and it—it was stupid, but I ended up yelling and she ended up storming out of my apartment, and all it took was about ten seconds for my anger to fade and the realization of what I'd just done to kick in, and I thought my life was over because she's literally in every aspect of it, and my entire family is related to her except Uncle Ray, and—"
"Teddy," Bill's calming voice broke through his rambling and Teddy's cheeks tinged red as he looked over at him.
"Sorry," he apologized before looking down at his shoes and going on. "Anyway, the whole point is, I thought my life was ending and went to go pack a bag of my stuff to go stay at Dad's place even though it was my apartment we'd been at, because I wanted her to have somewhere to go back to without me around because I knew she hated me and wouldn't want to be around me, and the next thing I knew somebody was quite literally breaking down my door and charging at me full speed and before I could get my wand out, Victoire was flinging herself into my arms, crying and apologizing for yelling at me… And I…I didn't know what to do. I'd been the one to yell at her first. I didn't understand why she thought I would ever want to leave her. I thought she wanted to leave me. So, I just held her, and I started apologizing too, and eventually we both got calmed down enough that we were able to talk about what was going on, and some other stuff happened too that I don't think Victoire would appreciate me mentioning, but eventually we ended up falling asleep. I had already started thinking about it before that night, but then the next day came and I woke up first and she was just laying there beside me sleeping and she was so beautiful. I couldn't stop thinking about all of the things she'd said the night before, and eventually she woke up, and just…the first thing out of her mouth was a joke. The first thing she said to me—after all of that nonsense—was something to try to get me to laugh, and I realized that a person like that was who I wanted to be with for the rest of my life."
Teddy trailed off for minute as he inspected the toe of his shoe before going on, the weight of Bill and Fleur's gazes on him as he did so.
"I know…I know fights are going to happen, and I absolutely hate that, but no two people are ever going to get along flawlessly for that amount of time. It's just not going to happen. But, what I want to do—whom I want to be with is somebody who can be arguing with me one minute, only to turn around and crack a joke at me or laugh with me the next. I don't want to be in the type of relationship where we can't get past fights or we let the tension linger for days and days on end even after we've worked things out. But more importantly than all of that, I don't ever want your daughter to feel like I'm not there for her or that she's on her own."
"Regardless of the fact that she has all of you guys and I know that you'd do anything for her, I'm here, no matter what. If she doesn't want me here anymore or if she doesn't want our relationship to be romantic…I guess I'll have to find a way to deal with that, but I will never be ever to walk away from her without her being the one to tell me to go. Believe me, I've tried. There was a time where I thought I was bad for her, and thank Merlin she pulled me out of that line of thinking, but even when I tried to distance myself, I was always right there whenever she needed me, and I want her to know that hasn't changed. That it will never change. I want her to be able to say what's on her mind, and what she's thinking, and how she feels without her worrying that I'm going to get upset or tired of it one day and just up and leave without any warning. That—the fact that she worried about it in first place even though I know it wasn't coming from a rational place—hurts me, and I know getting married won't inherently change that convoluted thought process, but it does make what we have a little harder to break up than just walking out the door."
"That's a very…mature way of looking at things," Bill mused after a couple of minutes of watching the kids contemplatively, and Teddy couldn't help but grin playfully.
"Look who my role models for love and marriage were."
And as if on cue behind them, Ginny shrieked in surprise as Harry jumped out of a bush and grabbed her and a second later their laughter joined the kids' as Ginny started chasing him around the yard with a dish towel in her hand.
"You do have a very good point there," Bill snorted as he half turned to watch them for a moment before he looked back to the kids as Harry and Ginny joined them, and Teddy didn't feel it was necessary to point that he wasn't just talking about Harry and Ginny.
"I know that marriages and long term relationships aren't just about love, and being physically attracted to the person you're with—and I would be lying if I said I wasn't in love with your daughter or physically attracted to her, because I think it's embarrassingly obvious that I am—but she's always been so much more than that to me. She's…she's the reason I crawl my way out bed every morning to go to job that isn't really anything more than a way to put money in the bank. She's the reason that I look forward to coming home at night, and she's the reason that I take the time to buy more than just a pint of milk at the store and some crisps every now and again. She's pretty—every body knows that—but to me, she's not just pretty, she's fascinating. Every single damn thing about her intrigues and captivates me, and I want to be able to touch and hold every single thing about her for the rest of eternity and watch as it turns old and gray and weathers whatever it is that the world is supposed to throw at her over the next how ever many years. I want her to help raise my children—I want them to call her mummy. I want to see her pregnant with our child and hold her hand as she brings them into this world, kicking and screaming. I want to make her happy."
"Do you have a ring in mind yet?"
"Yes, sir," Teddy nodded his head, reaching his hand into his pocket to pull out the little velvet, drawstring bag from inside. He'd been carrying it around with him for fear of Vic finding it, and he dropped it down into Bill hand without a second thought when Bill let go of his wife's arm to reach out for it.
He watched as Bill took it, one eye on the kids running around below to make sure that Victoire didn't look up and notice, and continued to watch as Bill opened it and dumped the ring down into the palm of his hand where his wife could see it, too.
"White gold?" Fleur questioned, and Teddy couldn't tell if she was being critical or not.
"Yes, ma'am," he nodded his again; eyes flicking back to Victoire's whispy blonde locks for a moment. "Vic's preference is for silver, because it goes better with her complexion, but I refused to budge on the matter of it being gold. White gold was a nice compromise."
"Zat is true," Fleur hummed as both she and her husband scrutinized the ring.
"The diamond is small," Bill observed as he held it up to the fading sun to get a good look at the design in its relief. "But the banding around it is quite intricate, and there are several smaller gems set beside it…"
"Yes, sir," Teddy agreed, because he wasn't entirely sure what to say.
"Vicky will like that, too," Fleur added, and for the first time since the conversation had started, Teddy actually felt a little surge of hope.
He knew Fleur and Bill liked him, and he knew that there was a good chance they would approve of the marriage, but one always worried when one embarked on such things.
"I hope so," were the words Teddy settled on in response.
"Where did you get it?" Fleur's eyes flicked back up to his curiously.
"A small antique shop in muggle London," Teddy answered as he watched Bill continue to inspect the ring. "She likes muggle things, and I was getting frustrated because I couldn't find anything I liked—or thought she would like—so I went into the place on a little bit of whim. It's refundable for up to a year, and there are papers that come along with it corroborating its age and history. Supposedly, some distant relative of the queen wore it at some point in time, but that wasn't why I chose it."
"Hmm," Bill grunted, and once again Teddy couldn't quite tell if it was a good sound or a bad one. "How much did you pay for it?"
"William Arthur!" Fleur smacked his forearm and glared up over the top of her head at him and Bill acted confused for a moment before he rolled his eyes and mumbled that he was her father and that he was allowed to ask.
"I apologize for my 'usband's boldness, Edward," Fleur turned her attention back to Teddy as color stained his cheeks. "You do not have to answer that."
"No—no, it's okay," Teddy shook his head as he looked back down at his feet. He really needed a new pair of shoes. "I don't mind, it's just…I paid a couple thousand pounds."
"Pardon?" Fleur raised her eyebrows.
"I…I dipped into my parents savings for it," Teddy cringed as he admitted what he'd done. "There are both masculine and feminine wedding bands that came with it, that are even more intricate than that one, but nothing less expensive seemed right. I know that in the short term it's ridiculous for me to splurge on such a thing and not have as much of my savings to rely on in case something happens, but I think in the long term it will pay off. Victoire would settle for anything, but I don't want her to settle. I want her to have what she wants. And if what she wants is a several thousand pound engagement ring or five hundred thread-count sheets because she thinks they're more comfortable than others, than so be it. That is what she will have."
"That is…very noble of you, Edward," Fleur declared a moment or two of contemplation later. "I can't…I won't promise you that Victoire will want to be wed right away…but I will give you my permission to ask. You 'ave been very good to ma fille, and I would be 'onored to have un beau-fils comme toi."
And that just warmed Teddy's heart all of the way through, because he knew that if Fleur approved of him, there was no way that Bill would argue—not really.
"Merci beaucoup, Madame Weasley," Teddy smiled, and bowed his head.
"De rien, Monsieur Lupin-Potter," she smiled back at him softly. "Now, if you'll excuse me—"
She paused her speech as she reached up to grab her husband's jaw and pressed a quick kiss to his proffered cheek.
"—I believe my services are needed else where at the moment. Promise you'll come have a piece of cake later, mon mari?"
"Of course, love," Bill smiled down at her (a little sadly if Teddy was being honest), and leaned forward to press a kiss of his own to her forehead. "I would never pass up a piece of cake, even if it wasn't with you."
"Tu est un imbecile," Fleur rolled her eyes, but the expression was fond, and Teddy smiled as Bill responded back, "Oui, mais je suis ton imbecile," before Fleur agreed with a giggle, pressed one more quick kiss to his lips, and walked away. Bill watched her with a nostalgic kind of smile on his face as she went, meeting up with Hermione and George as they made their way back into the house, before he seemed to remember where he was and what he was doing, and turned back to Teddy with a slightly bashful look on his face.
"Sorry, about that—"
"No, no," Teddy was quick to reassure him with a shake of his head. "It's alright—it's—"
A lot like watching Vicky and I, I imagine, Teddy managed to not say aloud, but from the small smile on Bill's face, he had a feeling that Bill knew the lines he was thinking along and let it go without saying anything, choosing to look down the yard and watch his children run around again, instead.
"You know…" Teddy ventured after a couple of moments of eased silence between the two of them, eyes focused back on Victoire as she ran around, chasing and playing with her younger siblings and cousins. "Vic hasn't stepped foot in her flat for two months?"
"She hasn't?" Bill's head snapped around to look at him, and Teddy's gaze dropped back down to his feet, exceedingly aware of the fact that the ring was still in Bill's hand.
"No—at least not that I know of," Teddy shook his head and toed at a pinecone underneath of his feet. "I've tried to talk her into just moving in because it's ridiculous for us both to be paying rent, and if anything ever happened to the two of us, she could easily move back in with you guys for a couple of weeks while she figured it all out—or lord knows Mum and Dad would love having me back for a while—but she's worried about what you guys will think, even though most of the time by the time we get home we're much too tired to do anything but order take out and pass out on the couch. Vic's not so worried about you and her mother because she knows you love her and that you already know that we've been…involved for a while now, but she's worried about how her uncles will react. I…I keep trying to tell her that none of them have any room to talk and that she's an adult who can make her own choices and that we could really use the money other places…maybe get a bigger flat or one a little closer to you guys or the rest of the family, and open up a shared vault at Gringotts while we're at it, or cut back on the hours at work a little bit so we have time to actually function, but she's still worried. I think…telling the family that we were engaged might help with that."
Teddy wasn't positive about that, he'd never heard Vic say the words explicitly, but he knew his girlfriend, and he had a good feeling that he was right.
"On the one hand I don't mind, and it's not really hurting anybody that she keeps it—or even if she wants to move in there and sell my flat, I'm fine with that, too—but Mum comes around my flat all of the time, and she tries her best to ignore it because she knows it makes Vicky uncomfortable, but it's getting harder and harder to hide the fact that half of my cupboard is full of Vic's things, and I can't tell you how many concerned Floo calls I've gotten from people who went around at her place trying to ask her something only to find out she wasn't there. People are going to start figuring it out eventually, and I don't want her to go through that—not when I can do something to ease the transition for her."
"Her uncles aren't going to be happy about the fact that she's engaged," Bill's words were just as blunt as his wife's.
"I know," Teddy's eyes traveled back up to watch Victoire again. "But at least if she agrees to marry me and wears a ring it will be blatantly obvious that she said yes at least somewhere along the line."
"True," Bill hummed in agreement, looking back down at said ring, and Teddy couldn't help the fact that it kind of made his hands itch. "You know I've been waiting to have this conversation with you for a quite a long time now?"
"You have?" Teddy wasn't exactly surprised that Bill and Fleur had brought it up in the first place now that his initial panic had passed—he and Vic had been together forever, and Bill and Fleur knew how serious they were—but he'd been waiting 'quiet a long time'?
"I have," Bill nodded thoughtfully, still looking at the ring. "I was half afraid you were going to come to me as soon as she got out of Hogwarts, and Ginny made me promise that I wouldn't seriously maim or injure you, if you did."
"Yeah," Bill nodded his head.
Well, at least his mother loved him.
"But I was glad that you didn't," Bill looked up at him, and that—that almost affected Teddy more than what Fleur had said, because he knew what Bill was saying. "I have to admit I haven't always been rooting for you and Victoire to stay together—watching your four year old daughter pick another man over yourself is hard, and I kind of hope you have to deal with that one day, just so you know how it feels—but it's only ever because I love her and I don't want to see her get hurt. Marriage is—marriage is sacrifice, and agreeing to a lot of things you can't see and giving up a lot of things you don't realize your giving up. Getting married isn't as simple as standing up in front of a crowd of people one day and telling each other 'I do'. It's about getting up every morning and looking at the person who's broken every single promise they've ever made to you—or damn near close to it—and saying 'I know you didn't mean to, but you've apologized for it and I'm not perfect either, so let's help each other get through the day, and maybe if we're lucky, I'll fall in bed with you later on and spend a couple of minutes with you before we wake up tomorrow and do it all again'. That's what marriage is, and it seems like you've figured that out—at least as much as you can before you go through it—and I'm proud of you for that. Vicky, too. I think you guys have the foundation to build a very happy life together."
"Thank you," Teddy was beyond touched as Bill held the ring back out to him, and he reached over to take it. "It means a lot to me that you two approve of this."
"I know," Bill smiled warmly—if not a little sadly, still. "That's part of the reason why I'm saying yes."
"I—thank you," Teddy repeated himself, not sure what else there was for him to say.
"Oh, I think it's a little early for that," Bill's smile turned into something much more Weasley-like than Bill ever was, and Teddy was instantly nervous.
"Ec-excuse me?" Teddy stuttered out again, furrowing his eyebrows.
"You'll see," Bill's grin was absolutely wicked, and Teddy was even more confused for a moment until Bill's gaze turned back to the kids down the way and Teddy realized what he was going to do. "Hey, Vicky! Can you come up here a sec?"
"What—Uncle Bill, no!" Teddy tried to stop him, reaching out to grab onto him and everything, but Bill was too big, and Teddy had to watch out for the ring.
"WHAT?" Teddy's heart stopped as Victoire hollered back and he looked down to see her looking back up at them expectantly, the rest of the kids and Harry and Ginny all stopped around her and looking up at the near-wrestling duo.
"Come up here a sec!" Bill repeated himself, and Teddy turned back to the house, only to realize that Fleur and the rest of the adults had come out to join them and everybody was watching. "Teddy has something he'd like to ask you!"
And oh, Teddy was going to die.
Oui, c'est bon et (all): Yes, that is good and (all)
Votre époux: (roughly) your spouse. I chose époux ever conjoint because of the phonetic similarity to spouse.
Ma fille: my daughter
Un beau-fils comme toi: a son-in-law like you.
Merci beaucoup, Madame Weasley: Thank you very much, Mrs. Weasley
De rien, Monsieur Lupin-Potter: you're very welcome, Mr. Lupin-Potter
Mon mari: my husband.
Tu est un imbecile: You are an imbecile
Oui, mais je suis ton imbecile: Yes, but I am your imbecile.