Happy birthday, dear Haaaa-rrry…
Happy birthday to you!"
The kitchen of The Burrow exploded into cheers as Harry Potter leant forward, grinning, to blow out his thirty-three candles. Ron and George whistled long and loud, while James tried frantically to copy them and succeeded only in spitting all over Albus; Rose and Lily hopped up and down, clapping; Ginny planted a smiling kiss on her husband's cheek before wrapping her arms around him and whispering in his ear.
Teddy Lupin leant his tall, gangly frame against a dresser and watched the clan scramble wildly for slices of Molly's magnificent cake, a smile twinkling in his dark eyes. He pulled the note from his pocket and scanned it again. It's important, she'd said when she thrust it at him, an earnest look on her face. There was a breeze blowing though the open kitchen door; she must be outside already.
He was five feet away from escaping the crowded kitchen when he was accosted by a small Weasley.
"Gerrof, Freddie," Teddy complained, as the redheaded boy jumped for the note he still held in his hand. Undeterred, Freddie continued to bounce, and asked loudly,
"Why's your hair that weird blue colour? Is it on purpose or did you just do it wrong today? Can you change my hair?"
Bounce, bounce, bounce. Glancing hurriedly at his watch, Teddy groaned inwardly and crouched down to look the kid in the eye.
"Well, I probably could, but it's really painful, you know. Like a million gnomes biting you all over your head and setting it on fire. We'll try it later, yeah mate?" He just registered the awestruck look on Freddie's face before he legged it, skidding on a half-eaten pumpkin pasty as he ran out of the door.
The yard seemed deserted.
"Victoire?" He whispered warily. "It's me. Vic?"
A hand grabbed his and they were running; Teddy got a faceful of leaves as she dragged him through the hedge and into the meadow.
"What're you doing?" he sputtered, and Victoire looked back over her shoulder, calling "You'll see!"
They came to a stop, suddenly, in the middle of the field.
"I want to try something," she said, slightly breathlessly, and all the thoughts that had flashed unbidden through Teddy's mind when she pressed the note into his hand came flooding back, because she was looking at him and her hair was glowing. How was her hair glowing?
"Like what?" he asked uncertainly, jamming his hands into his pockets.
"Isn't it obvious?" she said, exasperated, and Teddy's mouth went dry. "Don't you know what night it is?"
"Um… Harry's birthday?" This was confusing. "But what's that got -"
"It's the full moon," Victoire whispered, her eyes bright, and she tossed her luminous hair back and howled.
Teddy felt a wholly irrational wave of irritation and hurt and embarrassment crash over him, mortified at the thoughts that had begun to form in his brain. This was Victoire. And this was stupid.
"This is stupid," he said out loud. "I'm going back."
She looked at him for a second, clearly hurt.
"But don't you ever wonder?" she said slowly. "I mean, with our dads, and everything… Don't you ever feel a bit, you know… wolfish?"
Teddy gave a loud sigh and flopped down into the grass. A soft thud moments later indicated Victoire had followed his example. They lay there in silence, staring at the moon. Finally, he said flatly, "I'm not a werewolf."
"Obviously," said Victoire, in a slightly haughty tone that made him want to remind her that he was two years older than she was, and taller, and stronger.
"Gran had me tested at St Mungo's. I'm not a werewolf."
She didn't say anything. Teddy turned his head to look at her, only to find her deep blue eyes studying him intently. He swallowed, and quickly looked back at the moon.
"It's not like I do anything particularly wolfish," he began. "I mean, I don't chase things, or bite people. Well, I think I bit Ron once, but I was teething, so it doesn't count. It's more like a feeling. In my chest. Sometimes, I wake up after a full moon, and I've got this ache. I don't know how to explain it…" He trailed off into silence.
"Like your bones hurt, but not really," said Victoire quietly. "Like an echo."
He could feel where her arm lay in the grass, an inch from his.
"Yeah." He swallowed again, hard. "Like an echo."
He sat up, exhaling slowly, and put his arms around his knees. He bit his lip, and wished for something more than an echo to remember his parents by.
He heard Victoire sit up beside him.
"Your hair's changed," she said simply.
"What?" said Teddy, surprised.
"It's sort of brown. You look older."
He grinned to himself, and turned to look at her. He said, "Cheers, Victoire," and a smile spread across her face. Still staring at each other, they burst out laughing, threw their heads back, and howled at the moon.