Disclaimer: I do not own Teddy, Victoire, their families, or the world they live in.
A/N: Well, here it is folks. The real end of the story. Thanks to everyone who's read it this far, and especially to all my reviewers. That would be, starting from the beginning : arwenjanelilylyra, Rosewood17, tecumseh dean, Camo Spesh Owl, anavihs, ms wolf, BuddysLilSis, Lily Ann Rose, and EllenLaura. Thank you all, I love you more than you know! And especially arwenjanelilylyra, who as she pointed out to me, has literally been with this one since the very beginning :-)
I really hope everyone enjoyed reading this story as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you feel like your life will be devoid without it ;-) then I really hope you'll check out some of my other stories, if you haven't already. All my stories are set in the same universe, so you are likely to come across the Teddy and Victoire of Playing with Fiendfyre in any or all of the others. In fact, my other currently ongoing project, Choices, is about to have a chapter with at least one of them in it so if you want to see them again a few years after the end of this, get reading that one :-)
Enjoy! It may be over, but there will still be brownies for anyone who leaves a last (or first!) review!
He tried to write to her. He even sent a letter, once. It didn't ask for another chance; he knew it was too late for that. But he found that he couldn't bear the thought of simply never seeing her again; of her not being part of his life. Victoire had always been there. It would hurt like hell to see her and not be with her, but it would surely be better than not seeing her at all. He had gone without seeing her for… Merlin, it was nearly a year now.
He had accepted the place on the team going to Russia in order to escape, and to a certain degree, it had worked. The work had not been the most interesting (they had not, in the end, seen any Demiguises; the closest they had got was a set of three-day-old footprints in the snow) and the weather, over the winter, had been icy. But the country had been fantastic, and beautiful. The snow in Siberia was not the kind of snow they got in England, that was a couple of inches thick if you were lucky, and lay for a few days at the most, before turning to dripping wet slush. This snow fell feet deep, and stayed that way all winter, the temperatures so cold that it was powder-dry, not even melting when it came into contact with your boots and clothes. With a few warming spells, you did not even feel the cold, and Teddy had learned to love the land that, to many people, was synonymous with bleak exile.
But even so far away, in a country of glittering white, he could not forget the girl with hair the colour of flame. Victoire would have loved it there. She had always loved the snow.
And when he had got back, he had wanted to see her; not to try and get her back, because that was impossible. Not even to be friends, because he had probably hurt her too much for that too. But just… to see her again.
She had not replied to his letter, and he could not be surprised. He had not sent another, but it hadn't stopped him writing them. Stupid. He wouldn't send them; any of them, he thought, as he looked at the numerous attempts he had discarded on his bedroom floor. He didn't know what he was even doing it for. But he somehow couldn't stop himself trying. Trying to get the words he wanted to say down on paper, even if they would never be sent. But he couldn't even do that. He couldn't find the right words, and every attempt sounded more ridiculous than the last.
He pushed quill and paper away from himself, and rubbed a hand over his eyes. He was being stupid. His eye fell on his broomstick, propped up behind his door, and looking a bit dusty. He hadn't flown it for ages; it had been one of the remnants of his childhood that had been left behind here when he moved out, first to the flat he and Guy had shared, and then in with Victoire. He had enjoyed flying once, but it wasn't very practical, living in the city. Apparating was much quicker anyway, and it was too difficult to fly without Muggles seeing. But maybe a quick flight was what he needed to clear his head.
Liking the idea, he stood up, picked up his broom, and headed downstairs. His grandmother was out, which was a slight relief. He had finally told her, when he returned from Siberia, the whole shameful story of Zoë and the baby. She had been deeply upset, and worse, bitterly disappointed in him. So it was a relief to be able to slip out of the house without seeing her sad eyes fixed on him, wondering what she had managed to do wrong.
The baby had not been his. He knew that now, but he doubted it would make any difference to Victoire. Persis had reported the conversation in the Ministry canteen, and none of it had surprised him. Whether it had been his baby was irrelevant; it was the fact that he had believed that it was a possibility that had settled it for her.
All the same, part of him wished he could tell her; part of him dared to hope that maybe, if she knew that it could not have been his, because he had never had sex with Zoë at all, she might think he was worth another chance. He had been drunk that night; drunk enough to forget what had happened, but not drunk enough to cheat on Victoire. He knew, because he had finally done the obvious and talked to some of the other people who had been there that night. Most of them had been as far gone as he was, but at least two of the girls remembered enough to know that he and Zoë had not gone home together, because they had taken Zoë home themselves, leaving him practically comatose in the bar.
He had kept that knowledge quiet; he owed that much to Zoë. It had come as an immense relief to him personally, because it had lessened his own disgust with himself, but he didn't need to broadcast it. The only person he really wanted to know was Victoire, but he could not tell her. If she had replied to his first letter, maybe he would have done. But she had made it clear that there was no room for discussion. Anyway, according to Dominique, who kept him well-informed without his ever having to ask, she was going out with some rising young star at the Ministry.
He left the house and headed out into the fresh spring evening, wishing he had never come back from Russia.
They had been to Diagon Alley, because although it was only the Easter holidays, Lily had outgrown her shoes, so Ginny had taken her shopping. Harry had met them there, because he had had a transaction to make at Gringotts, and then, just as they had been going home, he had said:
"You go ahead of me. I want to call in at Andromeda's. There's something I wanted to say to Teddy."
"Oh!" Lily's face had lit up, "Can I come?"
Harry and Ginny had looked at each other.
"I don't see why not," Harry had said at last, "Why don't you both come? If they're in, Andromeda'll be pleased to see you."
Ginny had hesitated.
"James and Al…"
"Are sixteen and fifteen respectively. They're old enough to manage by themselves for a few hours, Gin."
And so they found themselves outside the front gate of Andromeda Tonks' home, at almost exactly the same time Andromeda arrived home herself. She was indeed pleased to see them, and invited them in for tea.
"And I daresay there's some cake somewhere, if anyone wants it," she smiled at Lily.
"I was hoping to see Teddy," Harry explained, once they were inside.
"And I was hoping to see you," Andromeda was looking worried, "There was something I wanted to ask you. I'm not sure if Teddy's in. Lily, why don't you go upstairs and find out?"
Lily was perfectly aware that she was being got out of the way, presumably so that Aunt Andromeda could talk about Teddy with her parents. They still thought that she didn't really know much about what had happened, but as usual, people's assumptions that Lily was generally in her own world meant that she knew far more than they thought. Aunt Andromeda was probably worried, just like her parents, because going to Russia had not cured Teddy of his depression, as they had hoped it would. Personally, Lily was not surprised. She was quite sure the depression would last until he and Victoire got back together. The possibility that they might not was one that Lily did not allow herself to think.
She went upstairs. Teddy's door was ajar, and she knocked lightly. It swung open of its own accord, and Lily stared at the room it revealed. Teddy was not inside, but the floor was littered with crumpled pieces of paper.
Without thinking, Lily picked one up hat was lying at her feet, and glanced at it. The name at the top caught her eye immediately. She bit her lip. She should not read Teddy's letters, it was beyond rude… but curiosity overcame her scruples. And there were more important things than good etiquette. She picked up another. And another. Yes, they were all the same. No, not the same. Each one was different, and some seemed complete, while others hadn't got beyond a single line. But they were all addressed to the same person. And it was quite clear that none were going to be sent. He had dated them all at the top, and some were weeks old…
"Lily!" a voice called from downstairs, "What are you doing? Is Teddy there?"
"No, he's not here," she called hastily, "I'm just coming."
And she turned and pulled the door to the same point it had been at before she knocked, and headed downstairs, shoving a piece of parchment in her pocket as she went.
The letter did not come by owl. It was shoved through the letter box, and she didn't find it straight away, because when she opened the front door, it pushed the parchment backwards and into the corner, and the first thing she did was drop her coat over the back of a chair and head for the shower.
It was not until she came out of the shower and, dressed but still barefoot and with wet hair, went to hang her coat on the back of the door that she noticed, and she did not immediately recognise it as a letter.
It was not in an envelope. It was just a slightly crumpled loose piece of parchment, folded in four, and with no writing on the outside. Puzzled, she unfolded it, and instantly knew the handwriting.
Her first instinct was to toss it in the bin, and that was what she did.
Ten minutes later, curiosity made her fish it out again.
Why was he writing to her in such a strange way? Why had it been pushed through her door without an envelope, in such a casual way? What could possibly be written in such a letter.
Her puzzlement grew as she looked at it, not reading at first.
It was not finished. He had not signed it at the end, and it broke off in the middle of a sentence.
She went up to the beginning again, and began to read.
Once a week, on Thursday evenings, Andromeda Tonks went for dinner with a very old friend of hers; the only one of her school friends to have stuck by her when she had married Ted Tonks and been banished from her family. It was a routine that they had settled into many years ago, and except for the odd occasion when one or other of them had been away or ill, they had not missed a Thursday for a long time.
The doorbell rang that Thursday about half an hour after she had departed. Teddy, who had been about to start fixing something for his dinner, went to the door and pulled it open.
It was her.
For a moment, he thought he must be dreaming. For almost a year, that face had haunted his thoughts. She had not changed. Her hair had grown long again, and lay free around her shoulders, and she was simply but attractively dressed, in jeans and a loose spring jacket in soft blue. He was uncomfortably aware that his own jeans had holes in the knees, and he had not looked in a mirror that day, let alone shaved. His hair and features, he knew, had settled into looking drab and unflattering these days, and he had not had the energy or the inclination to think about changing them.
"Can I come in?" she asked, after they had stared at each other for a few moments, and he realised from her voice that she was angry. There was nothing he had done recently to have made her angry though, so he nodded, although his mouth had gone dry.
He led the way into the living room, and turned to face her. There was that tenseness about her, that was always there when she was angry. The calm of a storm waiting to break.
"What's this?" she asked coldly, holding a piece of folded parchment towards him.
"I've no idea," he said honestly, "Look, Victoire, I don't have a clue why you're here, but maybe we should talk…"
"I am talking. And don't play games, Teddy. You wrote to me…"
"Yes, because I thought maybe there were some things we should say…"
"I thought I'd made it pretty clear I didn't want to say anything to you."
"Okay. So why are you here then?"
"I'm here, because… because…" her voice shook slightly, "Because of this. Because after everything, you had the bloody nerve to send me this…"
He took the piece of parchment and looked at it, and his face went blank.
"I didn't send you this," he said, but she wasn't listening.
"Pushed under my fucking door, Teddy! I told you I didn't want to see you. I meant it. That didn't mean I wanted you to come round my house when I was out and put bloody letters under my door! I'd have thought you'd have got the message when I didn't answer the first one; I don't want to hear from you, Teddy…"
"I know. I didn't…"
"All that stuff," she gestured wildly at the parchment he still held, "Telling me you're sorry. 'I'm not asking for another chance, I just wanted you to know…'" she quoted the letter bitterly, "Then what was the point, Teddy? If you're not asking for another chance, what was the point? You said it all last year, and it was too late then. It's even later now.
You cheated on me, Teddy. Do you have any idea how I felt, last April? Do have any idea how much you hurt me? How long it hurt for?"
"I've got some idea…" he began.
"I was starting to move on," she went on, regardless, "I was carrying on with my life. And then you do this. And suddenly I'm back where I was last year, and all the things I'd thought had stopped hurting… I know I screwed up too. I know some things were my fault as well. I'd stopped being angry, to be honest. I know I didn't treat you very well. I lost track of the important things in life, and… and drove them away. Drove you away. But it wasn't me who slept with Zoë Lester. That's the bit we can never go back from…"
"Actually," he began, taking a breath, "There's something you should know…"
"I don't want to know anything," her voice was rising again, "I want this to be the end. I don't want any more bloody letters. You just about fucking broke my heart, Teddy Lupin, and the least you can do is take a step back and let me try and get over it!"
Something in Teddy snapped.
"Victoire, will you let me get a fucking word in edgeways? First of all, I never expected you to take me back. I said that in the first letter, and I said it in this one too," he waved the parchment, "I have no idea how you got that, but I sure as hell didn't send it to you, unless I've started sending you letters in my sleep. Maybe I have.
But I don't expect second chances; you made it pretty clear that you don't even want to hear me out. I didn't sleep with Zoë Lester. I never cheated on you; not more than a drunk kiss anyway. Maybe that's enough. But there was nothing more… Merlin, Vic, you think I don't know how much I hurt you? I hurt myself just as much. D'you think there's been a single day since then that I haven't hated myself for it?
You said you lost track of the important things in life, and you did. But so did I. You were the important thing. We were the important thing. I love you, Victoire Weasley, and that's the important thing, but I lost track of that, for one mad night… and I lost the most important thing of all…" he broke off and turned away, "Oh, what's the fucking point? You didn't come here to listen to me. You just said; you don't want to listen to anything I've got to say. Don't worry. There won't be any more letters, so if that's all…" he broke off again because there were tears stinging behind his eyes, and he didn't quite trust his voice.
For a moment that seemed to last forever, there was utter silence in the room. He could not look at her, but he was waiting to hear the door close behind her.
A hand touched his elbow.
"All right," her voice was small, but there was a note of defiance in it still, "There are obviously things I don't know that maybe I should. I was wrong; I shouldn't have said I wouldn't listen to you. You want to talk. So talk."
He stared at her. She was biting her lip, obviously struggling with herself, but for now, she was in control. The anger had gone from her eyes, and been replaced by something much more vulnerable.
"You're serious?" he asked.
The corner of her mouth twitched up for a moment.
"Yes, I'm serious. I've learnt a few things about what's important in the last few weeks too. Your letter taught me another one, and that's that maybe I can't live without you quite as well as I thought I could. I think that's why it made me so angry.
I haven't changed my mind. This isn't a second chance, and I still couldn't trust you enough to be with you again, even if I wanted to be, which I'm not sure I do.
But I'm listening, Teddy. So talk."
Well, I'm aware that that isn't the ending some of you were hoping for. In fact, it's a bit of a cliffhanger really, but it is the end. This wasn't the sort of story that could end with a cheesy happy-ever-after and the tying up of all the loose ends. So you're going to have to make do with an ending that's hopeful at least.
If you really can't do without knowing if they actually got back together or not, you'll have to read Choices I'm afraid. Because I know the answer, but I'm not telling it here...
One last review, to tell me how much you hate me for leaving it like that?
Love Aebbe x