Look Me in the Eyes
Part One: Unrequited
Abigail Eileen Snape had never been fond of crowds, and tonight was no exception. Whilst the party being given in honour of her eighteenth birthday took place inside the Burrow, Abigail sat outside in the Weasleys' garden, cloaked by the cover of night. She could hear the music and laughter as it drifted from the open windows, and she was satisfied. She refused to admit, even to herself, that she was hiding, even though that was precisely what she was doing.
She was sitting on the ground, her back up against a tree as she looked up into the night sky. Abigail knew at some point her father or mother would come to fetch her, but she had been unable to stay in the house one moment longer—not once they had arrived.
For three years, Abigail had watched and waited, biding her time and waiting for the moment the relationship would fall apart; then it would be her turn. That time had never come, and now ... now it was too late. Tears spilled down her cheeks as she vividly recalled how Teddy and Victoire had arrived at the party arm-in-arm, a small diamond ring on Victoire's left hand. Abigail's heart had broken as her dreams of a life with Teddy went up in smoke before her very eyes.
It wasn't fair.
As children, Teddy and Abigail had been inseparable. He had stolen her heart at the tender age of four when he had rescued Mr Ducky from her older brother. Ben had been angry with her for borrowing his favourite book—all right, so she had added her own illustrations in vivid red crayon. Ben had retaliated by stealing Mr Ducky and threatening to dip him in their father's red ink. Teddy had seen her tears and immediately retrieved her beloved toy. Abigail had been smitten instantly.
As they grew older, she had dreamt of Teddy one day seeing her as something more than a dear friend. She had hoped that he would look her in the eyes, see her love and devotion, and fall on his knees in adoration.
She gave a decidedly unfeminine snort. As if that would ever happen.
When Teddy had turned seventeen, Abigail had been dismayed to see him watching the beautiful Victoire with obvious interest. She had been relieved when Victoire had paid little attention to his flirting; but Teddy had pursued her relentlessly until she had finally succumbed to his charm.
And now they were getting married.
Abigail inhaled deeply in an effort to stem the threat of yet more tears, choosing instead to concentrate her anger at Teddy, at love, and at life in general. She hated how he looked at Victoire, as though she were the most precious thing in the world. She wanted him to look at her that way! Try as she might, she had never been able to make herself hate Victoire; she was sweet and kind and loving … and Abigail wanted to hate her. She just couldn't. Even worse, she felt guilty for begrudging her childhood friends the happiness they both deserved. Yet she couldn't stop. It seemed she had loved Teddy Lupin her entire life, but he had never noticed her … not in that way.
How would she ever get through this? She would be expected to witness and even participate as the man she loved married someone else. She would have to watch as Teddy looked into Victoire's eyes and pledged his life, his love, his heart to her.
It was horrifying.
Abigail angrily swiped at her cheeks. She hated crying—hated it!—yet the tears continued to flow unabated.
The kitchen door squeaked as it opened, and Abigail hastily dried her cheeks and cleared her throat. It was probably her father come to take her back to the party.
Oh, no. Anyone but him. Even before she raised her head to look at him, she knew that wish was yet another that would go unfulfilled.
He grinned and pushed aside the stubborn lock of turquoise hair that always fell across his brow.
Abigail wanted to cry all over again at the familiar sight.
Teddy plopped down onto the ground next to her. "Happy birthday, pixie. What are you doing out here? The party is inside."
"Yes, I know," she said, and then she punched him in the arm.
"Ow!" he cried as he playfully cowered. He laughed as she rolled her eyes.
"Don't call me pixie," she ordered. "Anyway, you know perfectly well how I feel about crowds. I just needed a break."
He nodded. "Yeah, I reckoned as much. Thought I'd come keep you company for a bit. A girl shouldn't be alone on her birthday, after all. So, how are you? Feels like I haven't seen you in ages."
"Well, you've been busy." She plucked a strand of grass and twisted it between her fingers. "I suppose congratulations are in order."
Teddy blushed and ducked his head, his mouth curving into a satisfied smile. "You saw the ring, didn't you?"
"No one else has noticed yet. Victoire wanted to wait to tell everyone—she didn't want to take the spotlight off the birthday girl," he said with a wink and a nudge to her shoulder.
Those blasted, wretched tears filled her eyes again, and Abigail turned her face away, hoping that he would not see.
"Hey, what's wrong?"
The concern in his voice only made the tears fall faster. The next thing she knew she was in the one place she loved more than anywhere in the entire world—wrapped in Teddy's arms.
He was quiet for several minutes, simply holding her as she cried. When the tears stopped, and the embarrassment set in, he whispered into her hair, "What's going on, Abby?"
She let out a choked giggle; only Teddy had ever called her Abby and escaped un-hexed.
"Talk to me," he said, resting his chin on the top of her head.
Abigail didn't know what to do. There was no chance of him just letting it go. He had always been her confidant, and if she refused to tell him why she was upset, he would be hurt and angry with her. She didn't want to lie, however. Not to Teddy.
"There's this boy," she muttered.
She felt him stiffen, his arms tightening around her. "A boy?"
She nodded and sniffed. "I love him."
"You love him?" he repeated.
She tilted her head back and glared at him. "Yes, I love him. Is that so hard to believe?"
Teddy was dazedly staring over her head; he looked as though he'd been hit by a Bludger. "No," he replied slowly. He shook his head and then said, "I've just never thought of you like that before … you know, in love with a bloke."
Even though she had been well aware of that fact, Abigail's heart clenched at his words. The pain was almost unbearable.
"I'm just like every other girl, Teddy. Just because I haven't dated much, doesn't mean I'm not interested."
He looked down at her and smiled. "Of course, you are. I would never suggest otherwise."
She narrowed her eyes, looking to see if he was teasing. Mollified somewhat by his answer, but still pained that he would never look at her as more than a friend, she snuggled into his familiar embrace and replied, "See that you don't."
Teddy chuckled. "So what did this boy do to drive you to tears? Do you need me to go beat him up for you?"
Abigail released a brief huff of laughter at the mental picture that brought to mind—Teddy punching himself in the nose. "No. That won't be necessary. It isn't his fault. He doesn't know how I feel."
She sighed, the image of the diamond engagement on Victoire's hand floating to the surface of her mind. "He's in love with someone else."
She shook her head and removed herself from his arms. She rose to her feet. "No, don't feel sorry for me. I hate that."
Teddy stood, as well, and placed his hands on her shoulders. "You're my friend, and I care about you. I don't feel sorry for you, but I am sorry about the situation."
She scowled at him, but he merely smiled and pulled her back into his embrace. "So who is he?"
Abigail closed her eyes. "Please, don't ask me that." He would know if she lied … Teddy always knew.
"You can trust me. I won't tell."
"I know. I just … I can't tell you. Please, don't make me say." Please, she begged silently.
Teddy was quiet for several moments. "You've never kept secrets from me, Abby. Now, you are. I don't think I like it, to tell you the truth. But," he said pointedly when she opened her mouth to interrupt, "you have a right to your privacy. I won't press you for details."
She sagged against him in relief. "Thank you."
"You're quite welcome," he said. "Tell me, did you get everything you wanted for your birthday?"
She smiled wistfully into his shirt. "Almost."
"Teddy? Oh, there you are! Happy birthday, Abigail!"
Abigail swallowed her disappointment and plastered a smile upon her face before stepping out of Teddy's arms and turning to face Victoire. "Thanks. I hope you're enjoying the party."
Victoire smiled. "I'm having a lovely time, thank you. I was just wondering where Teddy had disappeared to. I should have known he was with you."
Abigail sucked in a breath, but one look at Victoire's guileless face told her that the witch who had won Teddy's affections did not consider her a rival in any way, shape, or form. For some reason, that stung.
"Why don't you two go back to the party? I just need a few more minutes to myself before I brave the crowd again," Abigail said; her face felt it might crack under the strain of her smile.
"Are you sure?" Teddy asked, his voice filled with concern even as he moved to wrap an arm around his fiancée's waist.
"Positive." Please, just go.
"All right," he said, obviously reluctant to leave her alone. "We'll see you inside in a few minutes, then. Yeah?"
Abigail nodded, and Victoire led Teddy back inside the house. When they reached the door, he glanced back at her, his brow furrowed. She smiled tremulously and tilted her head toward the door, letting him know it was all right for him to go inside. He smiled, and then they were gone.
And Abigail was alone.
Her legs buckled, and she fell to the ground, collapsing under the weight of her grief. Her breath came in heaving gasps as she struggled to control her emotions.
Suddenly, the arms that had comforted her for as long as she could remember were around her, and she was enveloped in the familiar scent of the one man she knew would love her for always.
He held her tightly, saying nothing; he rocked her gently back and forth, his hand stroking her head as he had done whenever she was hurt, since she was a small child.
"Oh, Daddy," she cried, "he's going to marry her. He's going to marry her!"
Severus continued to run his hand over her hair, the comforting gesture soothing her wounded spirit. "I know, poppet. I know."
Neither father nor daughter heard the strangled gasp from the turquoise-haired, young wizard who had returned to look for his fiancée's missing hair clip. And neither noticed that same young man return to the house, the hair clip completely forgotten.
A/N: Special thanks to Keladry Lupin for her Imperio ... erm ... request for Teddy and Abigail's story. My unending gratitude, as always, to Subversa and DeeMichelle for beta reading and to LettyBird for Brit picking.