The hot August sun was low and heavy, and a slow breeze gently rippled through the tall grass. The sky was stained pink and orange. All was quiet, apart from the muted buzz of insects in the air.
Teddy Lupin surveyed the landscape and nodded, satisfied. Conditions were perfect. His pockets were stuffed with half the contents of a Blaze Box, and there were strategically placed buckets of water all over the field. He clicked his fingers twice before executing a carefully practised hand signal which he hoped conveyed both mystery and authority; moments later, a loud rustling indicated that James and Albus were on the move.
"Right," he said, turning to Freddie, "let's go. Are you feeling suitably stealth?" He squinted at the round, freckled face. "You don't look very stealth. Can't you camouflage yourself a bit?" At Freddie's utterly blank look, he explained "Just try and blend in, yeah? Like with my hair." He pushed the grass -coloured mop out of his eyes, briefly contemplating a hair band; he immediately dismissed the idea as shamefully girly.
"Ah," said Freddie, knowingly, and rubbed his face in the dirt.
Teddy said, "Close enough," marvelling at the kid's seemingly boundless enthusiasm for all things filthy, and began to wriggle his way, stealthily, across the grass.
The target was in sight. Victoire was lying on her stomach, reading; from where he was he could make out one pale leg, the sole of the foot upturned. Like a sunflower, thought Teddy, then shook the image from his head and focused on the job in hand.
He had a sudden, inexplicable urge to tickle her foot with a long blade of grass.
"I know what you're thinking," said Victoire, without turning round. Teddy really hoped that she didn't. "If you throw anything at me, I swear, I'll make my mother do something terrible to you. Something French."
The idea of being on the receiving end of a sinister French punishment did not appeal to Teddy, so he cleared his throat and got to his feet. Grinning, Victoire rolled over and stood up, planting her hands on her hips. Unfortunately, James interpreted Teddy's inglorious surrender as the signal to lob his half of the Blaze Box in their general direction.
In an instant, the air was full of dancing sparks and loud, loud noises. The world flashed blue and scarlet and emerald; the lights caught Victoire's hair and she was aflame with colour. Teddy had to tilt his head to look at her, she was so bright. He couldn't say exactly how much time passed before the sparks floated away across the field.
"Fireworks?" said Victoire eventually. "The whole of Weasley's Wizard Wheezes at your disposal, and you choose fireworks?"
"It's a classic," muttered Teddy.
"Tried and tested," piped up Freddie from his spot on the ground.
"Did it work?" James yelled across the field. "I've got another one! D'you want that too?"
"No!" shouted Teddy and Victoire at the same time, but James had already used his initiative (something which, in Teddy's opinion, James should never, ever do) and now a huge, fiery dragon was speeding towards them. Teddy used his initiative and flung himself at Victoire.
He felt something very hot and very fast graze the back of his head. It gradually dawned on him that he was sprawled on top of Victoire, pinning her to the ground. There was an elbow lodged in his spleen, and he wasn't sure who it belonged to. He had grass in his ear. Two deep blue eyes were fixed on his dark ones. Teddy opened his mouth, but found that he seemed to have temporarily lost the power of speech, which was awkward, because Victoire didn't seem to be saying anything either.
At this moment, Freddie helpfully threw a strategically placed bucket of water over them.
Spluttering, Victoire shoved him away and jumped to her feet. Wringing out her skirt with all the dignity she could muster, she turned to Teddy and said, "You are the most idiotic person I have ever, ever met. Why? Why would you do that to me? Why would you think this was a good idea?"
Because all his energy was focused on trying very hard not to look at the way her damp shirt was clinging to her skin, Teddy said "Wuh?"
Rolling her eyes at his complete and utter uselessness, Victoire span on her heel and squelched away, pausing only to inform James and Albus that just because they had twigs in their hair, it did not mean she couldn't see them.
"Nnugh," said Teddy, feeling rather bewildered by the whole thing, and possibly slightly concussed.
"There, there," said Freddie, bracingly. Teddy rubbed some more dirt in his face.