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A Likeness in Our Destiny

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To: ely_baby
From: Your Secret Santa


Title: A Likeness in Our Destiny
Author: cryptaknight
Pairing: Teddy Lupin/Victoire Weasley
Summary: Victoire has never been anything but a pest to Teddy. So why can't he get her off his mind?
Rating: NC-17
Length: 12,560
Warnings: None that I can think of!
Author's notes: Okay, so I was totally inspired to write Teddy/Victoire, but didn't like the ages I was given by canon, so I'm tossing out their bitsin the epilogue and the recent Rita Skeeter articles. I wanted to write an adult/young adult romance, not young teen romance (especially for a smutty fest). So. Forgive me my futzing with canon. I hope the story overrides that. The title of the story comes from a line in Jane Austen's Emma, by which this fic was very loosely inspired. I also want to thank K for the beta and brainstorming sessions- couldn't have done it without you! And thank you to my giftee, for giving me a reason to be brave and dip my toes into the next-gen waters for the first time ever. These two were a pleasure to write, and I never would have tried it without your request. Have a very joyous holiday season, ely_baby, and I hope you enjoy your fic!

~~~

Before

When Teddy was six, he made a paper airplane. It was the most fantastic paper airplane, made just the way Uncle Charlie (who wasn't really his uncle, but it was easier to keep everyone straight if he just called them all auntie and uncle) had shown him, all crisp folds and precise angles. Charlie had flicked his wand at the plane when Teddy was all done making it, and it did a series of lazy loops and startling dives whenever Teddy launched it. It was seriously the best paper plane of all time.

Until Victoire ruined it. She was three, and while Teddy had run out to play on the beach and catch crabs outside of Shell Cottage, she'd taken his wonderful, amazing plane and covered it with sparkles and stickers in the shapes of flowers and had drawn what she claimed was a picture of her and Teddy holding hands on one of the wings. Charlie had launched the plane into the sky, demonstrating that it still did the same exciting dance it had before, but Teddy shouted that the plane was rubbish now and Victoire might as well keep it. He'd left it behind when he went back to his gran's, quite honestly disgusted at the sight of it. Victoire had cried and buried her face in Uncle's Bill's knees, but Teddy was unmoved, marching out with Aunt Fleur to catch the portkey home with his face forward and his back stiff.

When Teddy was nine, his godfather Harry bought him a training broom. Harry had taken him outside of the Burrow, into the snow covered yard, to let him try it out. Teddy was immediately taken with the sensation of flying through the air under his own power; he'd ridden behind other people, of course, and even once on a great family broom that his gran had borrowed from the neighbors. But flying on his own was something else entirely, even if it was only a scant few feet above the ground, and he'd whooped with joy while Harry stood a slight distance away, grinning at him.

Victoire, age six, had come running outside at the sound of Teddy's excited cry, and immediately clamored for a turn on the broom. Teddy glared at her from his perch. It was his broom, and she was too young, practically a baby, but she was the first girl in the family and the first real grandchild, and he thought she was also hopelessly spoiled. Surely enough, Uncle Bill had offered Teddy a wry smile, and asked if Teddy would at least take Victoire for a ride. Victoire grinned widely in triumph and clambered on behind him before he could even say yes or no, her face pressed against his back and her hands, sticky from Christmas sweets, clasped on his chest. So he took her around the yard a few times, a scowl on his face while she whispered that he was going to be the best flyer, she just knew it.

When Teddy was eleven, he went to Hogwarts. He'd turned his hair a mousy brown, afraid any display of color would show a house preference too soon. He planned to change the color accordingly once the Sorting Hat made its pronouncement. Harry had warned him what to expect, saying that he'd had no idea and it had scared him silly. What Teddy hadn't expected was every Potter and every Weasley showing up to see him off, alongside his gran. Most of the kids were just babies, except for Victoire, and she was only eight. They'd come for him, and he wanted to be embarrassed at the crowd of mostly red hair, but he'd been too pleased.

Victoire had flung herself at him, giving him a giant hug, commanding him to owl her as soon as possible and tell her everything about Hogwarts. She was very bossy, he thought. He also knew he'd owl her, just to have someone to write to besides his grandmother.

When Teddy was fourteen, Victoire went to Hogwarts, too. He teased her in the train car while he looped his black and yellow tie around his neck, telling her she'd better hope for Slytherin because their uniform was the only one that wouldn't clash with her white-blonde hair. When she went to Gryffindor like every Weasley ever, he gave her a saucy wink and striped his hair red for the rest of the evening.

Victoire gave him a shove and pronounced him the most annoying git in the world to her new friends. Teddy only chuckled and went whooping off to the Hufflepuff table.

When Teddy was eighteen, he finished Hogwarts. Victoire was fifteen and she took little interest in this development until Teddy announced his intention to take an apprenticeship with her father during the celebratory dinner at the Burrow that evening. Teddy took a perverse pleasure when Uncle Bill said he might was well stay with them at Shell Cottage, and he could hear Victoire's outraged gasp from the other end of the table where she sat gossiping with her sister Dominique and her cousin Molly. He lifted his glass to her, and he thought he heard her mutter something about her whole summer being ruined now.

Victoire's younger brother, Louis, looked chuffed at the notion, however, and Mrs Weasley and Grandmum beamed at him, so Teddy didn't take it too personally. He thought ruefully that Uncle Bill would probably keep him too busy to do any real life ruining, anyway. He considered asking Victoire about the Ravenclaw Quidditch player she'd been snogging on the train home, but decided to keep that in his back pocket for a more advantageous reveal.

When Teddy was twenty one, he was a full fledged curse breaker, working with the Louvre to remove curses from artifacts before they were put on display for the Muggles to gawp at. He'd gotten an owl from Bill Weasley telling him Victoire was also in Paris for the summer, some sort of fashion internship. Bill asked Teddy if he wouldn't mind checking in on Victoire from time to time, admitting that for all his faith in his daughter, she was the first of his chicks to leave the nest and he was feeling a bit anxious. Teddy grumbled but agreed. He owed his career to Bill, he knew.

Victoire was eighteen, and Teddy planted himself across the street from the design studio, thinking he'd sneak up on her, maybe with a honking big nose and a bald head to better surprise her. Victoire stepped outside, the setting sun lighting her from behind and creating a corona around her fair head. She looked impossibly grown up and chic in a barely there sundress, her hair pulled into a low-slung ponytail, blonde tendrils escaping and framing her face in the breeze. Teddy froze and forgot all about shifting his features, because his entire world had just shifted several inches to the left, and he had a sinking feeling it would never be the same again.

Paris

Teddy was so unexpectedly enchanted with watching Victoire make her way down the steps and following her lithe form as it wended its way through the crowd that she was nearly around the corner before he realised it. A sharp pain at his fingertips snapped him out of it, and he looked down to see that his cigarette had burnt itself nearly to the filter. Ruefully, he ground the butt against the heel of his well-worn boot and pitched it in a nearby bin as he pushed away from the wall he'd been leaning against, taking off at a slight jog in order to catch up with Victoire.

By the time he caught up with her, his face wore an expression very nearly approximating his usual aplomb. He reached out for Victoire's low ponytail and gave it a tug. She whirled, looking ready to cosh him on the head with her sketchbook, and drawing up short when she recognised him.

"You," she said. A scowl twisted her elegant features, but she lowered her book, tucking it back into the crook of her arm.

"Me," Teddy said agreeably, matching his strides to hers. "How's it going, Vicky?"

"Don't call me that."

"Sorry. Victoire," he said, dragging out the last syllable of her name, "how's it going?"

"Let me guess, Dad told you to check up on me?" Victoire exhaled irritatedly. Tucking her sketchbook into the slouchy bag slung over her shoulder, she wound her hair up into a topknot, presumably to prevent it being pulled again. "I knew you were working here. If I'd wanted to see you, I could have found you easily enough."

Teddy's mouth tightened at that. It was their usual banter, but it stung a little more today for some reason. He dug in the pocket of his cargo trousers until he came up with the slightly crumpled pack of Parliaments. He shook one loose and stuck it in the corner of his mouth. "Lucky girl, I've saved you the trouble."

He fished around til he found his lighter, not chancing doing magic in the middle of the 6th arrondissement. He lit up and took a deep drag, the bad habit calming his jangling nerves. He felt off, and didn't like it.

"You shouldn't do that," Victoire said, her frown deepening.

Teddy glanced sideways at her. "What, surprise you outside of work?"

"Smoke. It's revolting." She gave him a knowing look. "And awful for you."

"It's Paris. Everyone smokes." Teddy said, but he turned his head to the side to blow out the next stream of smoke, feeling just the tiniest bit chastised.

"I don't. Because it's gross." She tipped her head sideways, her baleful look relaxing into something teasing. "No girl will ever want to kiss you."

Teddy arched an eyebrow. He supposed that meant she didn't want to kiss him, which was probably just as well, if slightly disappointing in a way that made him frown. "I've never had any complaints."

Victoire shook her head, and rolled her eyes, looking resolutely ahead.

Best to change the subject, Teddy thought. "Whatever. Let me get you dinner. Discharge my duties to Uncle Bill."

Giving a little sigh, Victoire said, "I knew he put you up to this."

But she went with him to a cafe, a few blocks over and out of the ridiculously pricey neighbourhood she was interning in. Once seated at a cosy table for two, Teddy kicked back in his chair, ordering decisively from the menu. Victoire pursed her lips- which he had never before noticed were quite so full and shapely and naturally rosy- and followed suit. He was rather relieved when a bottle of Pelforth Brune found its way in front of him, though he managed to wait until Victoire took a careful sip of her pinot grigio before he took a swig. Drinking with Victoire was something new.

He reminded himself that she was practically his cousin. Practically didn't seem to carry the weight it used to. Taking another deep pull on his beer, he asked again how her internship was going. The wine must have relaxed her some, because instead of scowling at him, Victoire began talking animatedly about inspirations and textiles and a lot of things that went over Teddy's head. It was pleasant enough just listening to her, however, and it gave him ample time to consider her mouth, which was facile when she spoke. He caught himself wondering idly under what other circumstances it might be facile and gave himself a mental kick.

He didn't understand what had changed. He wanted to chalk it up to her coming into her veela powers, or something, but his own stores of knowledge told him she was too far removed from pure veela for that to ever be the case. Had she morphed in some way since he'd last seen her? That had been at Ron's birthday do, and as always Victoire had been holding court with her girl cousins, regaling them with stories of her seventh year at school. She had seemed as shallow and self-absorbed as he'd always figured her for; he'd overheard snippets of her describing the outfit she had planned for some party after the last day of classes, and he'd mockingly gasped when she'd told a story about a fight over a pair of shoes at the shop in Hogsmeade. She'd thrown a biscuit at him- which he'd caught handily and popped in his mouth, grinning. That had been just a few short months ago, and Teddy studied her face now, looking for some difference and finding none.

It was like he'd simply been shot by Cupid… no, not Cupid, nothing that romantic. Call it the Lust Bunny. He'd been shot by the Lust Bunny when he'd seen her emerge in the setting Parisian sun. Teddy couldn't imagine doing anything about it; it was far too complicated with the way their families worked, and while he could admit he wanted her powerfully at the moment, it wasn't worth upsetting that particular apple cart over some temporary madness.

It still made for an odd and uncomfortable dinner.

Like right now, when she was flicking him on his hand with her sharp little varnished fingernails.

"Ow! What?" he asked, rubbing at the offended bit of skin.

"I asked you about how you were finding your work at the Louvre."

Teddy took a disgruntled sip of his Pelforth. "Okay?"

"I asked you three times."

Oh. Well. That was embarrassing.

"It's pretty routine," he said with a shrug. "If you fancy a trip or two in to explore, I can give you a tour."

Teddy surprised himself with the offer, but he was pleased with the notion of showing her items he'd broken curses on, and with the mental image of her sitting and sketching her frocks and fripperies in the grand museum which couldn't help but inspire the creative processes. He was more surprised when she took him up on the offer, and his visions came to life once a week or so throughout the summer. After the first visit or two, Victoire didn't need his guidance, though she did take advantage of Teddy's employee status and let him escort her in. He'd pop by on his lunch break, and catch her engrossed in a drawing inspired by this painting or that. Sometimes he didn't interrupt, just propped himself up a little ways away and watched her biro move over the paper and learned her mannerisms, like the way a stray tendril of hair always escaped her ponytail and she'd absently tuck it behind her ear, or the way she nibbled on her bottom lip when she was thinking deeply. It was admittedly nice having her about, now that she was no longer a total pest, grabbing the occasional coffee. It was almost a pity when, at the end of August, Victoire had to return to England and her fashion school there.

"You'll come to the Burrow for Christmas, of course," she said when they went for coffee on her last day in Paris. She said this matter-of-fact-ly, taking the lid off her disposable cup and blowing across the foamy top of her latte.

Teddy wished she wouldn't purse her lips and blow like that. His desire hadn't abated in the least, but he'd been very good about not giving any outward signs of what he was feeling when he saw her cross her long legs or run her tongue over her bottom lip to pick up a stray bit of foam.

"I haven't missed a year since I turned two," he answered.

"Good." She smiled at him, and he felt it all the way in the pit of his stomach. He was glad he'd have a few months to slake his lust elsewhere and rid himself of this strange fascination with her. "Otherwise my dad will think I was rude to you here and have run you off, and I'd rather not deal with his nagging."

"I'll see you're spared," he said dryly.

It was going to be an interesting holiday.

Christmas

"So I reckoned if the rest of the team was doomed to wear horns until we figured out how to break the curse, I might was well show some solidarity."

Andromeda shook her head ruefully, and Teddy grinned unrepentantly at his gran. She handed the picture round the table, which featured Teddy and the Louvre team each sporting horns of varying degrees. Teddy's were the largest, long and curling ram's horns, fashioned after Sluter's Moses. His had been the only ones not induced by the curse inflicted by a mysterious cask from Mexico, but he'd made sure no one on the team felt stupid until they'd figured the darn thing out. Until he'd figured it out, really. But he wasn't one to brag- except now, when he was sitting with his grandmother and his mentor, and he couldn't help himself.

"Oh, did you finally manage to do something useful at the museum?"

Victoire's voice cut through the merriment.

"There's my girl!" Bill hopped up, catching Victoire in a giant bear hug.

"Oof, Dad!" Victoire extricated herself, but she was smiling. She kissed her father on the cheek before sending her bags upstairs and unwinding her scarf from her neck, hanging it up along with her jacket. She was the last of the extended Weasley-Potter clan to arrive at the Burrow.

Teddy had been a bit on tenterhooks waiting for her to turn up. He wasn't sure how he'd react to her. Slowly he turned to look at Victoire, his smirk only faltering for a moment when he saw her. Her cheeks were pink from the cold, her blue eyes bright with the pleasure of seeing her family (even if she'd never admit it pleased her). It being Christmas Eve and snowy, she was a bit more covered up than the last time he'd seen her, though her jumper was snug and her skirt sat high on her tight-clad legs.

Lovely, as ever, and Teddy felt like the room's temperature had risen by several degrees.

Luckily, he had a load of Weasleys and Potters to serve as a buffer. Teddy was able to keep plenty busy regaling people with stories about his time in Paris, catching up on what was new at Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, listening to Harry's stories about the Auror division, commiserating with the younger folks about the various triumphs and miseries at Hogwarts, and eventually stuffing his face with the amazing dinner Mrs Weasley and his gran had put together and the delicious pudding George's son Fred had baked. After dinner there was a pick up Quidditch tournament in the yard- there were enough of them now to field several teams- and Teddy managed to avoid Victoire entirely until late at night, after most of the younger kids and their parents had shuffled off to their various rooms.

Teddy had always had a bad habit of investigating the treats Mrs Weasley had baked for Father Christmas and the rest of the family before the poor bloke could even put in an appearance. Once he'd been old enough to know the truth about things, he'd been enlisted to help put on a convincing show of eating the treats, so the wee ones could find a plate of crumbs in the morning, relieving a reluctant Ron of the duty. And of course, Victoire being the pest that she was, once she'd twigged to what was happening, she'd insisted on joining in. So it was no surprise when they converged on the tray of biscuits and gingerbread witches and wizards shortly after midnight.

"Really?" Teddy said, peering up at her from where he lounged against the hearth. "I'd supposed you'd be watching your fashionable figure or something."

Victoire perched delicately near the opposite side of the tray. "It's Christmas," she said pertly, as if that explained everything.

Teddy snorted and plucked a gingerbread wizard from the pile. He pulled the licorice buttons from the front of it, silently holding them out to Victoire. She took them without comment, popping one into her mouth while her nimble fingers searched out a piece of shortbread.

"A shame you removed your horns before I could see them." She held out the shortbread, and Teddy plucked the cherries from it obligingly. "They only could have improved your appearance."

"They were rather dashing, I thought." He tossed the whole handful of cherries into his mouth. "I can recreate them for you."

Teddy dusted his hands on his thighs, concentrating on the alteration of his appearance. He felt the horns sprout above his temples, letting them grow until they curled over his ears. They were more devilish this time round, and he leaned forward menacingly, only to elicit a spate of charming giggles from Victoire. She took a final bite of her shortbread, reaching her hand out to run it over the curve of one horn, tracing it to the tip.

"Compensating for something, are we?" Victoire looked at him with a delicate brow arched, her lips twitching into a slight smirk.

"Oi," Teddy said, jerking his head away, happy for the excuse to do so. The horns were part of his body at the moment, after all, and Victoire's touch had felt like a caress. He'd liked it entirely too much, if his physical response was anything to go by.The Lust Bunny struck again. He forced his body to behave, and retracted the horns until his head was normal again.

"Right, right, 'no complaints'," Victoire teased, but she held out another gingerbread, already stripped of its licorice as a peace offering.

Teddy pretended to grumble as he took it. With a mocking leer, he said, "Care to investigate for yourself?"

Victoire swatted him, and he felt a gumdrop ping off his forehead. Teddy caught the sweet on the rebound and popped it into his mouth. He held out his hand for the rest and grinned at Victoire.

She pursed her lips as she dropped the remaining gumdrops in his palm. "Some mysteries are probably better left unsolved."

Teddy looked away. She was right. Righter than she knew. Blood ties aside, Victoire was part of his family. He loved his gran, but he also loved being part of something as big and loud and messy as the Weasley family, and he knew that he and his gran were lucky that they'd been brought into the fold, and that Mr and Mrs Weasley had never taken no for an answer. He couldn't jeopardise that just to satiate his desire for Victoire, especially if it turned out that was all it was, an itch he couldn't scratch.

Still, when he was alone in his borrowed room in the improbable tower of the Burrow, Teddy couldn't stop thinking about the way Victoire's elegant fingers had traced the lines of his temporary horn.

Easter

Teddy and Charlie had been sent out to the sprawling garden beyond the Burrow to hide Easter eggs. Molly reasoned that this was fair since they were the only adults without children, so neither would tempted to 'help' any of the kids find the eggs. Charlie had been doing the chore forever, presumably, or at least as long as Teddy could remember, but once Teddy had turned his nose up at participating in the hunt, he'd been enlisted. Teddy supposed Charlie appreciated the help, and Teddy himself didn't mind the work. It was a gorgeous clear spring day, and it was fun enough finding creative hiding spots. Charlie grumbled but Teddy suspected that he felt the same way.

Last year Teddy had wondered aloud why Charlie had never married and had kids of his own. Charlie had blinked and explained with a wry grin that he reckoned there were already enough Weasleys being brought into the world, and he'd always been more interested in dragons than women. Not in the way a bloke is interested in woman, Charlie had rushed to clarify, making Teddy laugh. But women weren't terribly interesting to him. And his cheeks had flushed in a way that had made Teddy refrain from making any more queries. Teddy supposed he understood well enough.

It still seemed a shame that Charlie was resigned to being a confirmed bachelor. But it wasn't any of his business, really.

Charlie brought out two bottles of beer, signaling it was time for a break. Teddy took his gratefully, clinking it against Charlie's before they settled down under the kitchen window, leaning against the house. They drank in companionable silence, something rare enough at the Burrow and something both Teddy and Charlie seemed to enjoy.

Molly and Fleur were in the kitchen; Fleur was probably keeping Molly company while she did the final preparations for the dinner they'd be eating later. Bill had once told Teddy a story about how Molly had not liked Fleur at first, but Teddy couldn't remember a time the two of them hadn't been thick as thieves. Most of the rest of the guests were asleep or not yet arrived. Teddy contentedly let the murmur of their voices wash over him, Molly's warm and thoroughly English tones and Fleur's softly accented French ones.

He had nearly nodded off when there was an abrupt shift in excitement and volume that jolted him awake.

"Maman! Gran!"

Victoire was here. Teddy knew he shouldn't eavesdrop, but he still had half a beer and he was too lazy to move. Charlie showed no sign of getting up; he was gazing up at the blue sky, lost in his own thoughts. Victoire's arrival obviously didn't have the impact on her uncle that it had on Teddy.

The women engaged in the usual small talk- how had the trip from London been? (Quick, she'd used a Portkey.) How was fashion school? (Amazing, she was learning so much and had made some wonderful friends.) Teddy almost lost interest.

And then, "Isn't your young man going to join us?"

Teddy's hand froze with the bottle halfway to his lips. Charlie swiveled his head to peer at him thoughtfully, and Teddy forced himself to take the interrupted sip.

"No, Alexander can't make it. His family insisted he travel with them to the States to visit some cousins of his."

Molly harrumphed. Teddy was tempted to echo her. Victoire had been on-again, off-again with Alexander Davies since the end of her fourth year at Hogwarts. Teddy wasn't overly fond of the fellow; he was his own polar opposite. Which probably made him perfect boyfriend material for Victoire. The prat always had perfect creases in his uniform trousers, and his tie was never askew. That would be annoying enough, the contrast with with Teddy's beat up cargoes and tatty t-shirts and henleys, but Davies had been a Ravenclaw with top marks, never in detention, and had a winning record as Keeper for his house Quidditch team. He was unreal, and Teddy had an unsporting urge to sock him one every time he saw him. Davies had never done anything wrong, per se, and though they'd multiple breakups, Victoire never seemed to take it too hard. He simply made Teddy's lip curl.

"So it's like that, is it?"

Teddy swung his head to look at Charlie. "What? No. It's just Davies is a bit of a tosser, you ask me. Victoire could do better."

"Mmmphmm." Charlie shook his head, and took a final swig of his beer. As he stood up, dusting off his trousers, he said casually, "You know, for someone who can do anything he wants with his face, everything you think is pretty plain on it."

Teddy briefly considered denying it again, then shrugged before standing up as well. He banished his beer bottle and summoned the enormous basket of decorated eggs, letting it float behind him so it would trail him as he moved about the garden.

"Doesn't matter. Just my cock has ideas my head knows are stupid. I'm not going to do anything about it. It's not worth fucking up everything I have with you lot."

He started to move away, but Charlie's voice made him pause mid-step.

"What I saw on your face didn't look like it had much to do with your cock, Ted."

Teddy shrugged again and turned his back, taking an egg from the basket and bending to hide behind a gaily painted rock, signed with Roxanne's name. He tamped down the urge to snit at Charlie that he supposed he'd know all about cocks.

"Sod off, Charlie. Go hide some eggs."

Charlie chuckled and mercifully moved off in the other direction.

Faintly, Teddy heard him say, "Well, I'm here if you need to talk. One bachelor to another."

Not bloody likely. This was already getting far too complicated.

Day of Memory

As a school kid, there had been nothing Teddy liked better than making his appearance as extreme and offensive to proper people's sensibilities. Hair every shade of the rainbow, mohawks, temporary piercings and tattoos- all were easy and fair game when he could alter his body however he liked. His classmates had been envious- their parents wouldn't let them do such things. But Gran had never cared because none of it was permanent, and it was not, as she said, the hill she wanted to die on. She'd also figured he'd mellow as he got older, and she'd been right. These days his hair was mostly dark brown, a shade lighter than Harry's and a shade darker than Andromeda's. He had one real piercing in his ear, an homage to his mentor, Bill. His clothes were probably less than professional, but in his profession, ability mattered more than a stiffly starched shirt.

Hell, he was practically a model citizen.

The only exception came on the second of May. The Day of Memory. Also the day Teddy's parents had been killed. Not that he had that particular memory himself, being as he'd been an infant at the time. It was just the rest of the magical world that remembered.

He'd talked about it with Harry before, how strange it was to have parents that it seemed like the whole world mourned, and not having one personal memory of them himself. Harry understood, and that was probably why his dad had asked Harry to be his godfather. Which made Teddy angry, when he really thought about it, because his parents had known that they would probably never see him again, and they'd gone to fight anyway. Teddy had different feelings about the Day of Memory than the rest of the wizarding world.

It was his least favorite day of the year. It wasn't that he was sad that his parents had died. That was sad, but in an abstract way. He hadn't known them. He wished he had, but his childhood hadn't been a poor one. He'd had his gran, and Harry, and the Weasleys. No, Teddy hated the Day of Memory because everyone expected him to be sad. They wanted to tell him how brave his parents were and they would call him 'Edward' and look at him with these big sympathetic eyes. It was awkward and uncomfortable because Teddy was expected to be on his best behavior, he always felt the urge to be on his worst. And he couldn't avoid the public spectacle, because he was meant to stand there and look mournful and orphan-y during the Reading of the Names, and if he didn't, some bint like Rita Skeeter would comment on it in the Daily Prophet, which he knew for a fact from the time in sixth year when he'd skived off with his mates and he'd never heard the end of it.

So he'd stand there and be respectful. But he'd do it on his own terms, looking as outrageous as possible. This year his hair was hot pink, shaved on one side to expose an ear riddled with earrings, and falling into his eyes and down the back of his neck. He wore baggy trousers tucked into tall boots and a sleeveless tee, which revealed a wolf's head 'tattoo' on his bicep.

"Oh, Teddy. Must you?" Andromeda stood behind him, a worried finger tapping her own mouth.

"Yes." He leaned in, looking himself over in the looking glass.

"Well, then, at least take this. Your mum wore it under her Auror's robes when she was feeling rebellious." Andromeda handed him a pin featuring the Weird Sisters, a band Teddy knew had been his mum's favourite from all the albums and posters stashed in her old closet. He took the pin with a grin, affixing it to one of his belt loops.

"Thanks, Gran," he said, kissing Andromeda on top of her head.

They apparated together to the event, which was held as always in the Memorial Garden in Hogsmeade. The crowd was big; it normally was, though Teddy cynically thought that in coming years as less people were alive that remembered the war and more were like him, only knowing of the dark times through stories, the crowd would wane some. Now, however, people still got understandably emotional and weepy, as well as celebratory, as some losses were still fresh despite them having happened over twenty years ago.

Teddy needed a pint to get through it all, so he parted ways from his grandmother with a kiss and made his way to the Three Broomsticks. He wasn't surprised to find the pub full and lively, and he had to push through a crowd in order to get through to the bar. Luckily another benefit of his unconventional appearance was that most people found him fairly unapproachable, and he was able to acquire his ale in relative peace.

He was settling onto a barstool when he heard a tinkling voice call out, "Alright there, Teddy!"

Turning, he saw Victoire coming toward him, Alex Davies and a girl Teddy didn't recognise in tow. Teddy managed to keep his lip from curling, and lifted a hand in greeting. Victoire seemed to take this as an invite to join him; she excused her way through the crowd, leaving her companions no choice but to follow her. She was slightly breathless by the time she batted her eyelashes at the bloke sitting next to Teddy and took over his seat. She looked achingly, effortlessly lovely in denims and a blazer, her hair falling just so over her shoulders in long waves. Teddy ordered her a glass of the wine he knew she liked, then jerked his chin at the other two.

"What'll your mates be having?" he asked. He recognised Davies, of course, but pettily refused to acknowledge that. The girl, however, was a stranger, not someone he remembered Victoire chumming about with at Hogwarts- she was a head shorter than Victoire, and with more curve to her, and a head of curly auburn hair pulled back into a tail- Teddy would have remembered her. She was cute, as opposed to Victoire's elegance, but he'd have noticed her.

"Oh, Teddy, I forgot you haven't met Harriet yet!" Victoire gave him a steely glance that belied her charming smile. She knew he was being rude to Davies. Teddy didn't much care. If there was one day he figured he got a free pass for being an arse, today was the day. "This is Harriet Bones. She goes to school with me."

Teddy knew two things- Harriet was a post-war baby, because in the months after the Battle of Hogwarts, there had been a spate of little Harrys and Harriets, the names becoming trendy for the obvious reasons. And Victoire had probably never looked twice at her new friend at Hogwarts, but they'd become friends now because they had a mutual interest. Teddy wasn't so blinded by lust for Victoire that he'd forgotten what she was like.

Davies ordered his pint and Harriet her fruity cocktail, and social niceties observed, Teddy went back to being taciturn while the other three chattered. He'd known Victoire would be here, because her entire family attended every year, given that most of them had been Order members fighting at the battle, and that her uncle had died along with Teddy's parents. He hadn't considered that he'd be spending the afternoon with her, her boyfriend, and her talkative new friend. But he guessed that more than his own opinions of her had shifted during the past year, and they were friendly now. Or something.

In any case, Harriet was friendly, and enough of a distraction that Teddy didn't have to feel a pang at every touch or besotted look exchanged by Victoire and Davies. He forced himself to speak beyond the grunts that this day usually reduced him to, though Harriet mostly carried the conversation, chattering on about her school programme and how she'd grown up with just her mum and her dog and on and on. Teddy reckoned it was better than the usual conversations he had on Memory Day, usually with older folks that wanted to reminisce about his parents.

The four of them joined the extended family in the Memorial Garden as the speechifying was beginning. Harry had gotten out of talking this year, Teddy noted, letting Hermione do it instead. Hermione was a much better public speaker, so no one seemed to mind. They hadn't asked Teddy to make a speech since his seventeenth year, when he'd gone on the dais and said, I was a baby and I wasn't at the battle and I don't remember my parents, so I ain't got nothing to say, and then jumped down.

But they did always remember his parents for him. His mouth tightened as they began reading the names, waiting for them to get to the Ls.

When they were on Frank and Alice Longbottom, he felt a cool hand slip into his. When the announcer- Cho Chang-Entwhistle, this year- read out Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks-Lupin, his hand was given a comforting squeeze. Teddy resolutely did not look down at Victoire next to him, but he felt the answering clench somewhere in the vicinity of his chest. When he finally did look at her, she had let go and was leaning against Davies, no sign of what had just passed between them.

Maybe he had imagined it.

Halloween

"No one should look glum in a get-up like that."

Teddy leaned against the counter in Molly Weasley's kitchen, stuffing a pumpkin pasty in his mouth. He gestured at Victoire's costume, some sort of sexy Little Red Riding Hood thing that could barely be called a dress. She looked good enough to eat, despite the pout she'd been wearing all evening, and Teddy wondered if maybe some of his father's wolfish blood ran through his veins after all.

"Though it's a bit much for a family party."

The Weasleys were having a fancy dress party for all the assorted family members and friends that were not off at school. Teddy was home briefly from a long assignment in Mexico, working in a Toltec ruin- there were curses around every damned corner, really, and it was thrilling work. He had barely seen Victoire since the Day of Memory, since he'd been busy working and she'd gone back to Paris for the summer.

"I'd planned on a more exciting evening," she said, snappishly, then turned her eyes upward at him. "And you made no effort at all. Surprising, given the last ensemble I saw you in."

"Last minute week off. I was unprepared," Teddy said mildly, recognising that something was fueling this snit fit Victoire seemed to be in. She was correct, too. He'd given himself antennae but that was it. His hair was even back to its customary dark shade, even if he hadn't had it cut in ages and it was curling over his collar in the back. "So what happened to your exciting plans, then?"

He tossed her a piece of chocolate as a peace offering. He could hear the shrieks of laughter from the sitting room, where Arthur had arranged a bobbing for apples contest. Teddy hadn't felt like getting his head wet, and he knew Victoire would never risk her flawless appearance by sticking her head in a cauldron.

She unwrapped the sweet, not looking at Teddy as she explained, "I was going to go to the Ministry do with Alex. But he's down with some sort of stomach bug and he begged off. I can't even be properly furious with him because he's ill. It's maddening."

Teddy couldn't help a grin. Victoire was pouting fiercely over not being able to send her boyfriend a Howler. He wasn't sure why he found it utterly charming.

"What about your friend Harriet?" They'd seemed thick as thieves when he'd seen them in Hogsmeade.

Victoire made a huffing sound. "She says her mum has a thing about Halloween. But I suspect she's gone home for the weekend because of this totally unsuitable bloke she fancies. He's a Muggle and he works on automobiles, if you can believe it. She's a witch and her designs are to die for, Teddy. It's bizarre. Anyway, she turned me down."

"Sometimes opposites attract," he said, only momentarily stung by her description of what an 'unsuitable bloke' was. Teddy supposed he wasn't much for a fashionable young witch to take up with, either.

"Maybe," Victoire said doubtfully. She sighed again and bit into her chocolate bar. "Anyway. I didn't think the costume should go to waste, so I came to Granny's, and here I am. Looking glum, as you say."

Teddy fished in the treats bowl, coming up with gobstopper. He unwrapped it and popped it in his mouth, rolling it around with his tongue. "Sorry your Halloween sucks." He continued without much thought, his words as much a surprise to him as they were to Victoire. "Wanna go to Mexico?"

Victoire's chin jutted up sharply and she peered at him. "Mexico?"

He felt immediately foolish, but he kept his voice casual. "Yeah, I've been working down there. They do Day of the Dead tomorrow and the following day. I'm going back tonight because I don't want to miss it. You could come. If Davies wouldn't mind and all that."

Teddy made himself shut up. It was difficult. Victoire stared at him a good long while.

"Okay."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah. Alex is too ill to miss me much. We only see each other every so often, anyway. Busy, you know- school for me, the Ministry for him."

Teddy just nodded, a bit dumbfounded that he'd made the invitation and that she'd actually taken him up on it. Finally he said, "Run home and pack a bag, then. I'm catching a Portkey back at midnight."

Dia de los Muertos

The music in the cantina was loud, the festive songs of the mariachi band filling the room. It was the second day of celebration, and Teddy had to admit he was having the time of his life. The village close to the ruins where they were staying had been decorated in vibrantly coloured papeles picados and gorgeously painted calaveras; the locals had built incredible ofrendas honoring their deceased loved ones. Teddy had made his own small offering to his parents and the grandfather for whom he had been named, as well as any other Lupins or Tonks that might be looking on. In a way, Dia de los Muertos made him feel connected to them in a way that the Day of Memory never had. Far from being solemn or detached, the Mexican people celebrated the people that had moved on from this world with joy and colour and music and sweetness. Teddy was in high spirits. And Victoire had been the best person he could think of to share it with.

She was dancing now, twirling her way about the small bar. Her hair was mussed and her face was flushed and her mouth was stretched wide into a grin. Her mood was a far cry from what it had been on Halloween. Teddy was content to watch her, glad she was enjoying herself and that he had some small part in it. He sipped his beer, and seeing she was whirling his way, ordered two tequila shots. Victoire landed, laughing, at his side, nearly collapsing against him.

"Dance with me, Teddy!" she demanded.

Teddy shook his head in the negative, chuckling. "You don't want me to, trust me. Do a shot with me instead."

Victoire drew herself up, fisting her hands on her hips. "I'll do the shot if you do the dance."

Teddy winced playfully, then stuck his hand out for her to shake. "Deal."

He demonstrated how to do the shot, Victoire copying him. He licked his wrist, shaking salt onto it. She did the same, and Teddy tried not to react to the sight of her pink tongue sweeping over her own skin. Then he licked the salt from his wrist, downed the silver tequila, and bit into the lime the bartender had set next to the shotglass. Victoire did as well, then set her glass down, shaking her head and the tequila burnt its fire trail down her throat.

Arching her eyebrows, she held both hands out to Teddy, demanding her fair exchange. He had no choice but to take them and let her pull him out onto the dance floor.

The floor was too crowded for much dance skill to be required from him, and Teddy simply let Victoire spin him round and shimmy in front of him while he bounced in time to the music. He didn't know if it was the festival, or the alcohol, or the girl he was with, but he was enjoying himself. He gave Victoire a silly grin and bounced harder, bobbing his head. She laughed and threw her arms about his neck, spinning them around in circles.

Yeah, he was pretty sure it might be the best night of his life.

They kept on dancing until the band announced a break, and canned music took over.

"It's too hot," Teddy said to Victoire, shouting to be heard over the electronic beat. "I'm going outside."

She followed him outside. Once out of the cantina, Teddy could still hear the thumping music through the walls, but it was muffled enough that he could also hear her make a disapproving noise.

He leaned against a wooden post, facing Victoire. "What?" he asked, confused.

"Smoke time, right?" She mimed holding a cigarette.

Teddy laughed again. "Nope. I quit."

"You did?" Victoire sounded skeptical, but she came over to share his post with him, budging him over a bit with her hip.

"I did," he confirmed, quirking his lips and bumping her back. "A pretty girl told me no one would ever kiss me if I smoked, and I didn't want to risk it."

Victoire's face was unreadable, and then she snorted. "Pretty. Well. I look a right mess now."

She reached up to smooth away some of the flyaway strands that stood out from her head.

Teddy's expression softened. Quietly he said, "I think you look wonderful right now."

She did. Victoire was always beautiful, and well aware of it. But tonight she glowed, her cheeks pink from the dancing, her eyes sparkling with the fun she'd been having. It didn't matter that her hair was making a break for it or that she'd sweated her makeup right off. She was gorgeous to him.

And right now she was looking at him, really looking at him, and she reached up to right some piece of hair that had gone astray on his own head. Her face was close, and he could swear she was leaning in to him. Her hand drifted down to his cheek, and it would be so easy right now to pull her close and snog her until she couldn't breathe.

"Victoire…" Her name was more a breath than a sound; her mouth was right there, full and generous, and her thumb brushed over the stubble on his jaw.

He couldn't think why he shouldn't kiss her. He was pretty sure he was in love with her, and here she was, with him, in Mexico on an evening that felt enchanted. But she was only here because her man was sick. His lips a mere millimetre from hers, he forced himself to draw back and really look at her.

She got her blonde hair from her mother and her blue eyes were like her dads. And her family was like his family. She wasn't for him, not in any way, no matter how he felt about her. She belonged with another man, one who was laid up in London, miserable with a stomach bug, one who might be a total pillock but nevertheless didn't deserve Teddy putting the make on his girlfriend under a starry Mexican sky. She belonged with a man that hadn't grown up practically a cousin to her, one that wouldn't cause family drama if he acted on his randy impulses.

Teddy forced himself to stand up and extricate himself.

"I'm knackered, Victoire. And I'm back to work tomorrow. I think I'll call it a night."

The expression on her face was one Teddy hadn't seen before. He didn't want to try to read it, to try to understand what she was feeling right now. If he did, his lower urges might beat out his noble intentions. He might pick her up and carry her back to his bed. And he couldn't do that.

"I'll see you to your room," he offered lamely. She just nodded, and, wrapping her arms around herself, walked with him in silence back to the inn where he was staying. He'd gotten her a room of her own for the few days she was here, thank Merlin. He didn't think his willpower would remain intact if she was sleeping mere feet away from him.

"Goodnight, Teddy," she said softly when he deposited her at her door. She reached up to his face again, and he held himself still and stiff.

"'Night, Victoire." He covered her hand with his, and gently pulled it down and away, lingering a moment before letting go. "See you in the morning."

Teddy moved down the hall to his own room before he could second-guess himself. He was doing the right thing.

In the morning, he escorted Victoire to her Portkey before he headed up to the ruins for the day. In the sober light of day, it was easy to return to their normal relationship, to pretend the previous night hadn't nearly happened.

He missed her as soon as she touched the Dos Equis coaster and swirled away.

Christmas again

Victoire brought Harriet home with her for Christmas, likely to serve as a buffer between herself and Teddy. It was an effective one, if so. Evidently Victoire had successfully talked Harriet out of the fellow in her hometown, if her flirtatious behaviour was anything to go by. Teddy found he couldn't mind too much. If he had to let go of his feelings for Victoire, Harriet was a pleasant distraction.

They were sitting front of the fireplace right now, Harriet lending her assistance in the annual eating of the biscuits. Without thinking about it, Teddy handed Victoire another handful of licorice buttons, and Harriet frowned.

"It's weird how you two do that," she said, snapping the arm off her own gingerbread witch.

"Do what?" Victoire said, a surprising edge to her voice.

"Give each other the bits you don't like. I don't see why you don't just eat the other things."

Teddy looked down at his denuded gingerbread wizard. "Hadn't really realised we do. Just habit, I guess."

"That's right," Victoire said, again with that odd note in her voice. "We've been doing it for ages. Teddy's like family, you know."

"Yes, I think it's lovely." Harriet's eyebrows knit together, but she turned to Teddy with a warm smile and scootched a bit closer.

"I'm going to the loo," Victoire announced, standing abruptly. "Anyone want a drink or anything from the kitchen on my way back?"

Teddy and Harriet both took her up on that offer, and Victoire headed off, looking rather cross.

"Everything alright with you two?" Teddy asked, concerned.

Harriet looked up at him. "Yeah, I think maybe she's just in a bad mood."

Harriet didn't elaborate to say why, so Teddy shrugged and held out the biscuit tin, offering it to her. She ignored the tin and moved even closer.

"Look, Ted," she said, and he found himself amused because she sounded like she was about to make a sales pitch. In a way, he supposed, she was. "I've thought you were awfully cute since Victoire introduced us. Even with that wild pink hair."

He chuckled. "Well, thanks."

"Right. So, I was thinking, you ought to take me out sometime. It would be fun, I think we'd have loads to talk about, and, er…"

He was unprepared when Harriet launched herself at him, her mouth crashing against his. He didn't stop her, however. She was warm and soft and available and not practically his family, and he couldn't think of the last time he'd kissed anyone at all. He did soften things a bit, making the kiss less awkward, wrapping an arm around Harriet's waist and angling his head to put the kiss in his control. It was a nice kiss. Not a fireworks and explosions kiss, but a pleasant one with a cute girl.

It was a pity it was interrupted by an outraged gasp and the sound of a bottle of ale hitting the floor.

Consequently, Teddy was also unprepared to see Victoire furious and tugging at Harriet.

"I told you no," she hissed.

Teddy's eyebrows shot up to his hairline. She had discussed this with Harriet?

"I'm sorry you don't think I'm good enough for your precious Teddy," Harriet said hotly, wrenching her arm from Victoire's grip. "But obviously he disagrees."

Oh, this was very interesting indeed. But it was awful to see two close friends argue like this, and Teddy cleared his throat, intending to intervene. Victoire's hand shot out in the universal signal for 'stop', and his words died in his throat.

"Harriet, I just don't think you two are a good fit," she said firmly. "And if it goes badly, it'll make things awkward for me."

That was a bit self-centered, but it was classic Victoire, Teddy had to admit. And it was a bit deflating, to tell the truth.

Harriet clearly didn't think much of this excuse, in any case. She rolled her eyes at Victoire, impressing Teddy a little bit. Not many people gainsaid Victoire.

"Please," she said, folding her arms over her ample chest. "You're just bitter because you and Alex called it quits. You can't stand the idea that maybe this time it would be you playing third wheel, that maybe you wouldn't be the centre of attention."

Victoire gasped again. Teddy saw her hand come up, but he couldn't move quickly enough to stop her hand from landing on Harriet's cheek with a sharp crack. Harriet's own hand flew up to cover the quickly reddening spot.

"You can be such a bitch, Victoire," she said coldly. "I'm leaving. Ted, I'll owl you."

She didn't give either Teddy or Victoire a chance to protest before snatching up a handful of the Weasley's floo powder and tossing it down. Harriet was gone and as quickly as Victoire had erupted she was stunned into silence.

Quietly, Teddy said, "That was very badly done of you, Victoire."

Then Victoire turned on him. "Well, it wasn't very well done of you either, Ted." She glared at him, then reached up to the mantle and pulled down a gaily wrapped package, throwing it at him. "Merry sodding Christmas."

"Victoire, wait." But she stomped off, up to her room, and Teddy was left alone in the sitting room with his gift and a half-empty plate of biscuits. With a sigh, he set the present aside and set about the lonely work of eating the biscuits alone, minus the licorice, which he banished to the rubbish bin.

When he was done, he made his way upstairs. The room he usually stayed in had been tacked on at the very top of the Burrow, and he was tired by the time he reached it. He shucked off his boots and flopped on the bed, turning Victoire's gift about in his hands before deciding to open it. He ran his thumb under the seam in the paper, freeing it from the package. A book was revealed; it looked to be handmade, and he thought he recognised Victoire's art style in the whorls that decorated the binding. Curious, he flipped the book open.

Photos were affixed to each page inside, probably with sticking charms since they didn't seem loose at all. The ones on the early pages were from their childhood. Teddy flying the old paper airplane Charlie had helped him with. Teddy and Victoire on a training broom, zooming around the Weasleys' garden. The pair of them opening Christmas presents. The pair of them in their Halloween costumes. Teddy sulking as Victoire, beaming, blew out the candles on her birthday cake. And so on. It brought a smile to play on Teddy's lips. The later pages had more recent photos. Him, smoking in Paris. A selfie of Victoire in front of the Louvre, grinning and blowing kisses. His outrageous look at the Day of Memory. Ofrendas in Mexico and a picture of Teddy standing proudly in front of the ruins. There was even a picture of a dress Victoire had no doubt designed and sewn, a sort of punk take on a puebla dress, clearly inspired by the things she'd seen during her impromptu trip, and, if he was being honest, by him. He closed the book and held it, his heart thumping in his chest, wondering if it all meant what he hoped it meant.

There was a soft knock on the door. Teddy set aside the book of photos and sat up straighter, ready to get off the borrowed bed. At the sight of a blonde head poking into his room, however, he relaxed his posture, leaning back against the headboard.

"Can I come in?" Victoire asked. She looked hesitant, and Teddy felt a bit bad for her.

"Yeah, of course." He patted the mattress near his knee.

Victoire came in. She was in shorts and an old Cannons t-shirt, her face scrubbed clean and her her hair in a braid. She looked younger and more vulnerable than he could remember her looking in a long time, and when she sat, she wrapped her arms around her legs and rested her chin against the tops of her knees.

"I owled Harriet. I think she'll forgive me." She bit into her lip. "I'm lucky. I was a total cow."

"A little bit, yeah," Teddy agreed, but he reached out, laying his hand on her foot. "Harriet's a sensible sort, when you aren't whispering in her ear. I'm sure it'll all work out." He paused. "Why'd you do that, Victoire?"

Her eyes closed briefly, and then she drew a breath and looked at him. Teddy felt like he was holding his own breath, waiting for her answer. Finally she said, "I think you know why."

She held his gaze, her eyes impossibly blue as she looked at him steadily.

He nodded slowly, but he still had to clarify. This had been so long coming. "Me?"

Victoires cheeks pinked. "Yeah," she exhaled.

It felt like the weight he'd been carrying for the last year had suddenly been lifted. Teddy stared at Victoire a moment longer before deciding to put her out of her misery.

"Good," he said, and he sat up straighter so he could cup the back of her head and pull her face to his. He was done worrying about how it could all go wrong. It all felt far too right. His mouth was hungry when it caught hers, despite his nonchalant demeanor; he was a man with a craving that he was finally able to satisfy, and he savoured it. It was a surprise to him to find that Victoire's kiss was just as desperate as his felt.

When he finally stopped for air, he kept his forehead pressed to hers, his mouth so close to hers that he could feel the ragged breaths she was drawing. "Jesus, it's about time."

Victoire laughed, a throaty, startled sound, and Teddy pulled the tie from her hair, threading his fingers through her braid until the silky strands hung loose and wild down her back. Then he kissed her again, his tongue parting her lips. He felt her hands clutch at his shoulders, and it nearly did him in. Shifting slightly, he pulled her closer until she ended up with a knee on either side of his thighs. His hands flirted with the bottom of her tee.

"Alright, then?" he whispered.

"More than." Victoire leaned forward, and oh, god, she placed her lips against his throat, her tongue darting out to flick against his pulse point.

In response, Teddy drew her shirt up and over her head in one swift motion. She wasn't wearing a bra underneath, and he must have gasped, though he didn't realise he'd done so, because Victoire released another of those throaty laughs.

She was beautiful, her fair hair tumbling over her bare shoulders, her breasts high and pert and begging for his hands and his mouth to cover them. Teddy decided to oblige, palming her breast, feeling like his hand was too calloused and rough for such silky skin, but her nipple went taut in response, and her teeth dug into her lower lip again, so he reckoned it was alright with her after all. He followed suit with his other hand, and she squirmed in his lap in a way that was entirely unfair. He was harder than an arithmancy exam.

"That's it," he growled, bucking his hips to displace her. She fell back against his bed, still giggling. Teddy was well aware he was probably ridiculous in his randiness, but by hook or by crook he intended to get her right on his level.

He pulled Victoire's shorts from her before situating himself between her legs. Seeing she'd been bare under those, as well, he cursed under his breath. She'd known what she was about. He leaned over her, intending to snog her senseless, but she stopped him with a hand against his chest.

Teddy looked at her questioningly, an eyebrow arched. Quickly she said, "You too, you too. I want to see you."

He grinned then, and reached behind his neck to tug his shirt off. He was only himself tonight, no metamorphmagus tricks. He wasn't the brawniest bloke around, he knew, but he also knew he was fit enough to be visually appealing. Victoire's indrawn breath seemed to support that opinion. Teddy lowered himself again to kiss her, and he felt her hands on his hips, impatiently pushing at the waist of his sweatpants. He lifted his hips to help her, using his feet to push his pants the rest of the way down when she couldn't reach any further. As it so happened, he was also not wearing any underpants. So that was that, then.

Her hand wrapped around him, her palms smoother and daintier than his. Teddy groaned into her mouth. He was trying to give a masterful performance for her, but Victoire was making it very difficult. Some retaliation was in order. He extricated himself from her grip, slipping a hand between them. He found her easily enough; the heat radiating from her told him that he was not alone in what he was feeling right now. He slipped a finger through her crevice, finding her satisfyingly wet against his fingertip. Stroking his way higher, he found her clitoris, and circled the pad of his middle finger against it until she arched against him and her fingernails dug sharply into the muscles of his back.

"Turnabout is fair play," he murmured, adding a second finger and thoroughly enjoying the sound that elicited. He kissed his way down her throat to her breasts. It was extremely gratifying to hear her groan, "Oh, damn, Teddy," when his lips closed around the taut coral peak of her nipple. He flicked his tongue against it, then lifted his head and grinned at Victoire sharkishly.

She thumped him on his shoulder, and it was his turn to laugh.

"Brat," he said, and then crushed his mouth to hers, kissing her until he couldn't breathe.

Victoire chose that moment to roll her hips up against him, her hands sliding to his abdomen, her thumbs running through the lines of definition there. It did him in. He lifted his mouth from hers, sparing a moment of savage pleasure at her swollen lips and hooded eyes. She looked totally debauched. His cock twitched in response, and he used his knees to brace himself between her thighs as he sat back, just enough to guide himself inside of her. He took his time, sliding in slowly until he was fully seated there. His eyes closed as he reveled in the glory of her, silky and hot and all around him.

Victoire shifted, hooking her legs around his thighs. His eyes popped open, unprepared for how much better even that tiny change was, and he looked down at her again, his eyes meeting hers. Teddy was certain he looked just as lusty as she did.

And god, it was Victoire. It was Victoire whom he'd known as far back as his memories went. It was Victoire he was inside and who was making him as happy as he could remember being.

"Hi," he said softly.

She smiled up at him. "Hi, Teddy." Her fingers trailed gently down his back, which was flexed with the strain of staying still. Conversationally, she said, "I've realised I'm like, crazy in love with you, you know."

Teddy was glad his heart couldn't actually claw its way out of his body, because it felt like it wanted to. "Oh god, me too, Victoire. But we need to talk about it later."

He couldn't be still any longer, not with her so alive and warm and entwined with him. He snapped his hips forward, and Victoire threw her head back with a soft and breathy noise. Realising that he hadn't cast any silencing spells and that he didn't have anything close to the wherewithal now to do so, he could only hope that everyone else was very soundly asleep or at least minding their own business. Her parents were under this roof, as well, and Teddy pressed his lips tightly together, biting back a groan. Kissing Victoire seemed the easiest solution to the problem, so he fit his mouth against hers, kissing her deeply while his hips took on a life of their own.

Afterward, after she'd come apart like a living explosion underneath him, after he'd thrown his own head back, swallowing the cry that wanted to escape at the sheer joy of his release within her, after he knew what it was like to feel her come while he was buried deep inside of her, after he kissed her endlessly as they came down from the high of shagging each other senseless, when they lay sweaty and spooned together with his sheets tangled around his hips, he murmured against her neck, "Bollocks, I screwed that all up."

Victoire turned in his arms, her expression incredulous. She pressed tiny kisses along his stubbly jaw. "Did not."

"Yeah, I did," Teddy said. "There was so much more I wanted to do to you. I've been fantasising about this for over a year, and I still don't even know what you taste like."

Victoire sucked in a breath, hopefully considering the possibilities. "You'll get more chances. Lots more."

Teddy grinned broadly and kissed the top of her head. "Give me a few minutes."

Victoire thumped his shoulder, but then she kissed it, too.

"Mmmm, I do love you," she said, snuggling closer.

Teddy twined his arms around her, hugging her to him. "I think I've been in love with you for a very long time. I know I've wanted to shag you for a long time. But I wanted to be sure about how I felt and what I really wanted before I crossed the line, you know?"

"So that whole row with Harriet…" Victoire trailed off, ducking her head and tucking it under his chin.

"Totally unnecessary," Teddy affirmed with a laugh. "She didn't really have a chance. You're it for me. Maybe you always were."

It was strange to think about that, to think that throughout the years when he'd been arguing with her and teasing her and being generally annoyed with her, he was falling in love with her the whole time. He'd just needed a chance to step back and really see her.

"Maybe so," Victoire said, tilting her head back up again. Her fingers played in his hair where it was too long at the nape of his neck. "I hope I'm it from here on out."

Teddy couldn't help a laugh. All those months of agonising and here they were. "I hope so, too. But first I have to survive breakfast with your family. Which I won't if they find you naked, in bed with me, with my face between your legs."

"We're just laying here," Victoire pointed out, rather reasonably. "Naked, yes, but…" Her eyes had lit up, Teddy felt an answering bolt of lightning somewhere in his nethers.

"I said I needed a few minutes. I'm good now."

Luckily no one walked in and found them.

Somehow Teddy managed to rouse himself before the rest of the house so he could nudge Victoire awake and send her to her own room. He wasn't quite ready to face the wrath of six Weasley men and their wives before breakfast, no matter how much he loved her. At breakfast, he tried not to stare at her, to think about how it had felt to have her feet slide against his as they writhed in his bed, to remember how her mouth had felt exploring every inch of him. It was a desperate game, and he only managed it because her father was seated right next to her.

He'd have to take her on a proper date, and soon, one that ended at his flat, or hers.

He tried to focus on breakfast, he really did. But images of Victoire danced in his head. Memories of her descending the steps in Paris. Memories of her nipping his bottom lip last night. Memories of her dancing to mariachi music. Memories of the way her hands had fisted in his hair as his tongue teased her to a new height. Memories of her hand in his when he was feeling his lowest. Memories of her hand on his cock, sliding up and down in a sure motion.

"Pass the sausage, dear?" Molly Weasley's voice cut into Teddy's thoughts, and he flushed as he handed them over.

He felt a sharp kick from under the table and looked up sharply to find Victoire grinning at him knowingly from across the table. He stuck his tongue out at her and scarfed his breakfast down, excusing himself as soon as he could politely do so.

The cold wintry air and the snow on the ground helped him snap out of it a little. Teddy stood outside, watching his breath puff out, wishing he still smoked. He heard the door open and close and he turned, expecting Victoire. But it was Charlie. Teddy lifted his chin in acknowledgement, gratefully accepting the steaming hot cup of coffee Charlie held out to him.

"Mum's got tea, of course, but you struck me as more of a coffee man," Charlie said. He took a sip from his own cup of coffee. Then he said, "So I take it you've no longer got a boyfriend problem?"

Teddy opened his mouth to argue, but decided there was no point. Charlie wasn't stupid. "Nope." He lifted the mug to his mouth, waiting until he'd swallowed to say more. "Might have a girlfriend problem."

Charlie nodded. "Just be sure you're head over heels, completely in love with her, then. Because this family…"

Charlie left it at that, shaking his head. Teddy knew what he meant.

"I am. I really am. God help me." Teddy snorted ruefully and took another sip.

"Best of luck to you, then," Charlie chuckled. "I'll keep your secret safe for now. Though you two aren't much good at hiding it."

Christmas, a third time

Teddy and Victoire sat together on the fireplace, as tradition required. They held hands, Teddy's thumb tracing circles on Victoire's palm. They weren't concerned about being caught out being affectionate. Charlie had been entirely right about their abilities to keep their own secret; they hadn't even lasted a week. They'd been caught snogging by Dominique and Louis on New Year's Eve. In their defense, it had been midnight. But they'd had to confess to Bill and Fleur, which had been equal parts horrifying and lovely, since they hadn't flown into the rage Teddy had feared. In fact they'd seemed rather happy about it, which had surprised no one but Teddy.

"Harriet's bloke seems nice," Teddy said idly, accepting the cherries from Victoire's shortbread.

"He is. If a bit agog at all the magic, even though Harriet tried to prepare him. I feel badly that I tried to stop her dating him." Victoire looked abashed, so Teddy leaned in to kiss her forehead.

"You just want the best for the people you love." Teddy could afford to be generous, since he now counted himself among those she loved. "I'm sorry I kissed her last year."

Victoire bumped his knee with hers, making him laugh. "I suppose I shall forgive you, since it all worked out in the end."

"Indeed." He set aside the biscuits, dipping his head to fit his mouth to hers for a proper kiss. After a year together, he still hadn't tired of kissing her. Her mouth under his still felt novel and incredible. He couldn't imagine a time when it wouldn't.

He lifted his head, pulling back and offering the biscuit tin to her. "And a good thing it did, because otherwise I would have to eat my own licorice, which would be horrible."

"I knew you kept on with me for some reason," Victoire teased, stretching up for a quick peck.

"There's also the fact that I'm madly in love with you," he said, pulling her in for a deeper kiss. "Happy anniversary, Victoire. Merry sodding Christmas."

"Merry sodding Christmas to you, too, Teddy."