Victoire hated when he did this.
She remembered the first time.
It was an April afternoon during Spring holidays and she sat in the library, at a table crammed in a crook between a bookshelf and a window. The window was thrown open, so she could enjoy the lazy and fresh spring air without the accompanying guilt that she should be revising for her upcoming N.E.W.Ts.
Hunched over a pile of notes for History of Magic, she tightened her grip on the hair next to her temples. She processed little out of her peripheral as she flitted her eyes over dates, names, interpretations, theories... not for the first time did she wish that she had dropped the subject at the O.W.L. level. But her mother wouldn't hear of it, and her father agreed. If she proved competent at it, after all, there was no reason to not continue with the subject! If she heard one more thing about the difficulties of learning English at Beauxbatons with a frivole professor and then in the midst of a war-mongered England...
Then again, her mother had never been taught by a ghost before.
She was so lost, in fact, that she hadn't noticed she had company until she felt something brush against her knuckles still tight in her hair.
Clenching her teeth, Victoire shot her gaze to the interruption. It was a boy with tufty brown hair, an unremarkable face, wearing robes much too long for him and having a complete lack of regard for his personal safety. He was holding her blue tie, which she had disregarded on the other side of her table hours ago in order to allow sunlight and air to hit her neck more fully. A few of the buttons on her robes were undone, but she made no move to close them.
“Who are you?” she snapped, swiping the swaying tie and draping it over the side of her chair. Most students were too busy studying at this time of year, and the few who weren't knew well to not interrupt. Especially not fifth- and seventh-years. She still had a long Transfiguration essay to complete, and needed to learn to brew an antidote to Veritaserum with some semblance of competence, not to mention revising for Charms and all of the other eight thousand things she had to start.
“Calm down!” he said reproachfully, swinging into the seat diagonal from her.
Victoire ground her teeth.
“You're Victoire Weasley, right?”
Victoire decided to not engage, and flicked her History of Magic notes nearer to her and ignored the question. If he had to ask, she could see nothing productive on any level arising from the conversation.
“Cold,” he remarked. “Do you know who I am?”
“I don't care.”
There was a pause, and Victoire hoped she had rather impressed him with her demeanor, but after a few more moments he spoke again.
“I'm a year younger than you. That's why you don't know.”
The amount of cousins she had scattered throughout the Hogwarts years and Houses, she highly doubted that was the only reason she didn't know.
“You're very pretty,” he continued.
“Don't you have somewhere else to be?”
“Have you got a boyfriend?”
“Whether I do or not would not improve your chances.”
“Ah. I knew it. Still...” he shifted his seat closer, “he's not here, is he?”
Victoire raised her eyes to the ceiling, begging herself to not land a night in detention for hexing the kid's hair off.
“He doesn't seem to be making you very happy right now, does he?” The boy stood, moving close behind her chair, yet not touching her. “Now I on the other hand...”
Forget hexing. A good old-fashioned knee or elbow would work just as well. Uncle Ron would be proud.
“I swear, if you're not gone in—” Victoire held up her wrist; upon it was a small silver watch, a gift from one of her aunts. “—ten seconds—”
“I'm prepared to take any punishment you can dish out.”
“Five seconds.” With her other hand she found the wand in her pocket. She felt the heat behind her intensify, and a breath by her ear.
In the corner of her eye, she caught sight of a few tufty strands of bright blue hair. In her surprise, she forgot her wand, and by instinct slammed her right elbow in the side of his head.
Victoire leaped from her seat, her right hand (attached to the now aching elbow) still gripping her forgotten wand. She wheeled around.
Teddy was holding the side of his head, hunched over slightly and wincing in pain. His robes, previously long and baggy, now fitted his taller and older frame. At the flabbergasted expression on her face he began to laugh, and reached for her.
She went to him, but not to hold him, but to instead land a few more blows on his shoulder. “What—were—you—thinking?”
“Ow! Hey, calm down, crazy!”
Starting for him again, Victoire took his still laughing face between her two hands, and kissed him.
He responded immediately, hands falling to their familiar place on her hips, tugging her closer. She raked her fingers through his hair, using his shoulders as a perch for her elbows, in order to further climb up his frame.
She broke away almost as quickly as she grabbed him, then allowed herself to enjoy the moment. Teddy still held her near. On the side of his face, close to his ear, her silver watch shined in the April sunlight.
“I missed you,” she finally said.
“You too.” One half of his mouth hiked up in a grin.
“What are you doing here?”
“I decided to surprise you at Hogsmeade.” He dropped into her chair, his movements lazy and careless. He plucked her tie up once more, weaving it between his fingers. Victoire followed him, sitting facing him in his lap. She dropped another kiss on his forehead, then his cheek, then his lips. This was more refreshing than any spring day in the sun. “When you made it clear you were a conscientious student,” he continued, after a last lingering kiss, and he snaked the tie around her back, using it to hold her close, “I decided to surprise you here. Used my little disguise to sneak to the castle and I found you.”
“Yes, I'm so very proud of you.”
“Oh, I'm sorry, you seem so broken up by it.”
“You could have surprised me like someone normal. The whole creepy disguise act wasn't necessary.”
“What can I say. It reminded me of our early days of courtship. Even the physical abuse part, now I think about it.”
“You are sorely mistaken, my dear Theodore,” she grinned, tracing his brow lightly with her thumb. Then she turned serious. “Never during the early days of our courtship did I consider Stunning you and hiding you in a bookshelf.”
“Really? Not even once?”
“Well, no, that thing with the platter of mashed potatoes was about as far as I was going to go.”
“I'm relieved. But you have to admit... it was a little fun.”
“No. No. I swear, if you get any ideas, you'd better be prepared for me to fight back.”
“Well, now that I'm on the lookout for Stunning and convenient bookshelves...”
“I'm being serious.”
Teddy stuck out his lower lip. Victoire resisted the urge to bite it, because he could not pretend later that she wasn't completely solid about this.
“Teddy,” and she poked a finger into his chest, “don't you ever do that again.”
That was the first time.
Victoire hated when he did this.
She was supposed to meet Teddy in the Leaky Cauldron for some after-work drinks, and he was late, and she knew he was preparing to pull another stunt. She'd gotten quite good at spotting him. At first he still tricked her, but that rapidly changed. Most of the time, she would simply call him out, although other times he would make some silly mistake and the both of them would dissolve into laughter. (Victoire felt this did not help her cause.)
On one memorable occasion, she was in the middle of insisting to a balding middle-aged wizard that she knew it was him, Teddy, and she was getting tired of these little games, and can't he simply change back to normal, she'd had a long day, and just as she was getting annoyed by the supposed-Teddy's ever-growing bewilderment, the real Teddy had walked through the door and subsequently had not let her forget about the incident for several weeks.
She was not eager for a repeat of that. In fact, she had something entirely different up her sleeve.
Closely watching every entering customer, fresh from their jobs on Diagon Alley, she waited. Some of the customers were women, and she dismissed them entirely; she didn't think even Teddy would step that far. Some, she dismissed simply by watching their mannerisms. Others, she studied closely until she figured—through conversation or company—that they weren't her target.
Impatient, she checked her watch.
The waiter neared her table carrying a platter of drinks, and she waved him over, intending to mull over the bar with a fresh glass. However, he set a drink in front of her at once. A shot of straight Firewhiskey.
“From the gentleman in the corner,” he added, then hurried away to unload his other drinks.
Victoire looked around. There was a wizard in a long black traveling cloak, with ear-length dark hair and a long, straight nose. She could tell he was tall, even though he was sitting.
He must have arrived early, before she even left work.
But she already knew how to play her part, and she pointedly wrinkled her nose in the precise way she learned from her mother, then ignored the drink in front of her. Every now and again, she glanced to the door, then to her watch, then around the other customers.
The waiter approached the table again.
“Another Firewhiskey from the man in the corner.” Hurriedly, he set the drink on her table again, then moved to take orders from a group of customers who had just arrived. Victoire kept her eyes trained on this group, as though she were trying to parse the individuals.
Then she checked her watch again. She huffed, gathered her bag, and—both Firewhiskeys in hand—marched over to the gentleman in the corner.
“Date not arrived?” he drawled.
“He's late,” Victoire said, shortly, settling into a chair at the empty table.
“No man should keep a woman like you waiting.”
She hesitated, perfectly. Then— “I'm sure he's just working.”
“Aha. And I noticed that you haven't taken your drinks.” He gestured with one finger, keeping his body very still. Victoire knew it was because he knew she would be searching for his characteristic and careless movements.
“I generally don't prefer Firewhiskey.” Which you know very well, Teddy, which is why you ordered them for me. Smart, but it lacks subtlety.
“Oh. I took you for the sort of person who would.”
Victoire took this challenge, and met his eye steadily. Raising her eyebrows, as if impressed, she said lightly, “Of course, who knows?” And she threw one shot back into her mouth.
She felt the look of shock even before she recovered from her grimace, trying to force down the burning that made her remember why she didn't prefer Firewhiskey.
“Impressive. Care to up the ante?” He set his eyes on the other glass of Firewhiskey.
“I do,” Victoire replied. She took the second shot. It took more effort than she liked to recover from the aftereffects of the alcohol, and by the time she did, the heat was already rushing to her head and her limbs and mouth were loosening.
“Are you still planning to meet your date?”
Although he was doing a fine job at hiding it, Victoire could tell he was worried. She decided to throw him a bone, for effort.
“Of course.” She smiled, playing with a knot in the wood on the table. “But there's nothing wrong with some innocent company until he arrives.”
At the word 'innocent' she raised her eyes to his again. Maybe it was the Firewhiskey, but she felt acutely the fact that it was Teddy here across from her, her violent-haired maniac of a fiancee hiding behind this disguise. Lust crawled up through her body, and she curled her toes.
Teddy cleared his throat.
“So what's your name?” she shot at him.
“Morgan.” His answer was smooth, which meant he had prepared a fake name.
“Victoire,” she replied, smiling lazily.
“That's beautiful. French?”
“From my mother's side.”
“I guessed. You seemed a little uppity.”
“Well, after two shots of Firewhiskey...”
Victoire laughed, flashing her eyes carefully over his physique, noticing he was much taller than Teddy actually was.
“Sometimes—” She considered, then dove on, recklessly. Time to go in for the kill. “Sometimes I feel that I should live like this. My life—well, I like it, but it's work, home, visiting family, my fiancee... I feel like I need more, you know? More glamour, more... danger.”
There was no mistaking it this time. There was a definite flash of worry in Teddy's eyes.
Victoire passed her triumphant snort off as a drunken whimsy, and stood, wobbling more than she knew was strictly necessary. Instantly, Teddy stood and gripped her elbow to prevent her toppling. She giggled, holding to his upper arm.
He let go rather quickly.
“Your fiancee might arrive soon...”
“Oh, no matter,” she purred, pushing his hair back. “You're very handsome, you know that?”
Victoire edged closer. Teddy already had his back to the wall, so he had no where to run as she closed the distance between them. When they were only a few inches away, he attempted to shift sideways along the wall, but he was blocked by the chair.
“Hey, calm down, crazy,” she whispered, then grabbed him by the ears and planted a kiss on him.
Teddy froze against her, not responding, then she heard a sad pop and he gently pushed her away.
He was staring down at her, his face lost and his hair a windswept black. His expressive eyes were sporting that kicked-puppy look he did so well.
“Oh, Teddy,” she sighed, shaking her head and patting his cheek, “don't underestimate me when I say I'm going to fight back.”
His mouth dropped open, expression changing as quickly as his hair, which slid effortlessly back into its normal turquoise.
“The whole time,” she said, smug. “You did very well, by the way. Although you seemed to lose your confidence near the end.”
“Because my heart was shattering in a million pieces!” he exclaimed, though he began to laugh. She pushed off of him, the alcohol taking her by surprise and propelling her backwards more quickly than she intended. Teddy caught her wrists and she had a token struggle with him, giggling.
“I can't believe you knew,” he repeated, “I had no idea that you knew.”
“That was the idea.” She continued to struggle for a moment before giving up, tucking herself under his chin. His arms slung around her lower back.
“I swear, when you said that thing about nothing being wrong with some innocent company... I almost blew my cover right there. The way you were looking at me, like.”
“I saw that.” Grinning wickedly, Victoire detached herself from him then dragged his head down and whispered in his ear, “You know that that was real, yeah?” Pulling back, his hair caught her eye again. It positively glowed.
“What, you were un-skinning me with your eyes?”
“Something like that. Let's order another round and get out of here.”
On their way out of the pub, Victoire grabbed Teddy's elbow and grinned up at him.
“You were right,” she said. At his look of confusion, she added. “That was a little fun.”