After an excruciating week of all night study sessions, sleep loss, and anxious last minute cramming, N.E.W.T.s had come and gone. Ted had finally finished his exams; every single one of them. The hardest part was over. Now, all he had to do was wait.
"How do you think you did?" Simon had asked after their final exam, which happened to be Charms.
"Pretty well, actually," Ted said. "I feel good about it. I feel good about all of my exams. Well, minus Defense Against the Dark Arts, but I didn't study as hard as I should have."
"I think I did okay in that," Simon said, searching through his bag for his notes. "It's just that I need Charms to get the job at the Ministry that I want. If I didn't get at least an 'E' I'm going to have to start looking for something else." He made a panicked face. "What if I have to—"
"I'm sure you're fine," Ted said, though he sympathized with Simon. He'd be lying if he said he hadn't been scouring his Potions notes the second after that exam had ended; double checking every answer to make sure it matched up to what he had put. He knew full well that if he got anything less than an 'O' on it, he might as well consider a whole new profession. That wasn't something he was prepared to do.
Thankfully, he didn't have to wait long for an answer. Two weeks after N.E.W.T.s had occurred, and just days before graduation, Ted had been sitting in the Great Hall eating breakfast when Auggie had flown in with the morning post. The white snow owl dropped two letters in front of Ted before staring at him expectantly from the tabletop. Cocking his head to one side, he eyed the piece of toast that Ted was currently holding.
"Are you ever not going to try to steal my breakfast?" Ted asked before handing him the crust. Auggie took it eagerly, just as Ted turned to open his first letter. He scanned it quickly and saw that it was from Harry. He'd written to say that he and Ginny had made plans so that they both could be at graduation, and then followed by mentioning that they were planning on throwing him a party for finishing everything.
He internally groaned. He wasn't much of a party person, seeing as he'd never enjoyed being the center of attention. It didn't seem as though he had much of a choice in the matter, though. He had to admit, it was a thoughtful gesture on their part.
He turned his attention back to another piece of paper that had been included in the letter and smiled as he observed a drawing of a dragon that had clearly been done by Lily. She was becoming obsessed with dragons it seemed. given that this was the third one she'd sent him over the last month. He couldn't help but notice that her drawings were getting much better.
He grabbed at the other envelope, which had the seal of St. Mungo's on it. He had applied to their program in antidote research about a month ago, so he assumed that this was just some sort of follow up paperwork to keep things in order. He wasn't bound to hear anything official until his N.E.W.T. scores were marked sometime over the summer.
"Hey," Simon said as he sat down across from him and helped himself to toast. "You were up early."
"Yeah, I don't know why," Ted mumbled as he read over the letter.
Simon picked up the dragon drawing and began examining it. "Lily drew you another dragon?"
Ted nodded. He was only half paying attention now that he had gotten to the body of the letter. As it turned out, it wasn't excess paperwork that they needed him to fill out. It wasn't any of the preliminary things he had thought he still needed to do in order to be considered for training. It was an acceptance letter. They had accepted him.
"You know, I think I'm not going to do thing today," Simon said. "Not a damn thing. What about you?"
"I'm in," Ted said, looking up at him. "They've accepted me."
Simon cocked his eyebrow. "It's far too early for me to pretend that I know what you're talking about. How about you just tell me?"
"At St. Mungo's. The research position. Curing diseases and creating antidotes," he smiled, "they've accepted me."
"You're serious?" Simon asked as he grabbed at Ted's letter. "There's no way your N.E.W.T.s have been scored yet."
"I know," he said, leaning forward and pointing to the part of the letter that stated he had been accepted, "but there it is."
"You're kidding me," Simon muttered. "Look at that. You know, they must have gotten your scores early or something. That probably means you must have done really well on them. There's no way otherwise."
Ted smiled and pounded his fists on the table out of excitement. "You have no idea how much of a relief this is to read."
"No, I think I do. Congrats."
"I'm going to go and write my Grams and Harry and anyone else I can think of," he said as he tucked another piece of toast in his teeth and stood up. "I'll see you later."
Simon gave him a quick wave before Ted made his way back towards the Hufflepuff common room, happily chewing his toasts as he went. He'd done it. He'd actually done it. He'd actually gotten the job that he had been dreaming of in one way or another since he was a kid. He couldn't wait to hear everyone's reaction once they found out.
He had been practically running through the portrait hole when he came face to face with Celia and her friends on their way out. She smiled when she saw him.
"Hey, we were just headed to breakfast—" she began before Ted cut her off mid sentence and kissed her. He pulled away and smiled at her. She stared at him as if she'd been taken completely off guard. "What's gotten into you?"
"I got the job at St. Mungo's," he said as he started walking back towards his dormitory.
"Seriously?!" she asked.
"Yeah," he called behind him. "I'll tell you about it later. I want to get letters to my Grams and Harry in the post as soon as I can."
She smiled. "That's fantastic!"
He smiled at her once more before disappearing down the hallway towards his room. He sat and scribbled out two almost identical letters before sealing them up and rushing to the owlery. Having dashed the entire way there; he finally stopped himself to catch his breath once the two owls he had attached letters set off towards the horizon line. As he watched them, he suddenly felt tremendously elated. In just two weeks time, he'd be starting his career.
He took his time walking back from the owlery. Feeling uncharacteristically giddy, he felt as though nothing could kill his bad mood. Not even once he found himself running into an overwhelmingly large crowd of Ravenclaws and Gryffindors on their way back from breakfast. He maneuvered his way against the flow of traffic on the crowded stairs and had almost managed to reach the final landing when he spotted Victoire talking with a small group of people. He hadn't spoken to her much since that day by the lake, but given his good mood and current circumstances, he couldn't be happier to see her.
"Hey Vic," he called out as he made his way down the final set of stairs to where she was standing. She turned and searched for the source of her name. She seemed surprised when she noticed him approaching.
"Hi," she said with a curious expression. The second she got a good look at his face, she slowly started to smile. "Why are you so happy?"
"Guess what?" he asked. He was completely incapable of hiding his smile.
"I got into the training program over at St. Mungo's," he said in one quick breath. "The antidote research one. I just got the letter saying I did. I start in two weeks."
Her eyes went wide before she broke into a wide grin. "Congratulations!" She leaned forward and hugged him. He almost found it a little strange, seeing as they had never been huggers in the past, but some things were bound to have changed over the past year. "Wow, Ted. You're going to go and cure the werewolf gene just like we always talked about."
"Let's not get ahead of ourselves," he said, taking a deep breath and bouncing a little on the spot. He really couldn't believe he was letting himself get so visibly excited, but it was only Victoire after all. She didn't care.
"Oh, you will," she said. "You must be so excited. This is what you've always wanted."
"I am pretty excited," he said, just as Louis Weasley appeared beside the both of them.
"Come on," Louis said to his sister. "You said you'd help me with—" He stopped when he noticed Ted standing there. He looked curiously from him, to Victoire, and then back again. "You two are talking again?"
"Yes," Victoire said as Ted nodded. "Are you really surprised, Louis?"
He looked to consider this for a second, but made a face that seemed to say he wasn't. He shrugged. "Whatever. Anyway, come on, Vic."
"Right," she said as she threw Ted a quick smile. "Again, congratulations. I'm really happy for you."
Ted smiled appreciatively
"For what?" Louis asked.
"Ted's gone and got himself the job of his dreams."
Louis nodded as though he was impressed. "Good on you. Congratulations."
"Thanks," Ted said as a sudden thought struck him. "Hey," he pointed at both of them, "Harry's throwing me a graduation party after school's let out. Sort of a send off if you will. I'd love if you two came. Nicki, too, of course."
"Yeah, sure," Louis said before Victoire could protest. She didn't look nearly as eager to accept as he did.
"Maybe," she said tentatively.
"Why maybe?" Louis asked.
"I mean, I don't know," she said as she looked away from the both of them. Ted was fairly sure he already knew what she was thinking. She wouldn't want to come because of Celia.
"At least think about it," Ted said. "I really want you to come, Vic."
She looked reluctant to say anything, but finally mumbled, "I'll think about it." She turned to walk up the stairs. "We'll see you later, Ted."
He threw her a wave goodbye, all while noticing that Louis was hanging back for a moment. He seemed to be waiting for his sister's back to be completely turned. When he was sure it was, he turned to Ted and quickly mouthed, "We'll come," before following after her.
As the Hogwarts' graduation ceremony finally commenced, the group of seventh-years were led outside to take the small boats that they had taken as first-years back across the lake in a poetic and cyclical finish to what had been such a large part of their lives. Ted smiled and turned to watch the castle as the boats slowly pulled them away across the lake. That was it then. He was done.
"I was sitting in something wet," Simon said once they reached the lake's opposite bank. He grabbed at his robes. "I thought I was imagining things, but my robes are soaked."
"Only you would sit in a puddle and not realize it," said Ted as he disembarked the boat and held out his hand to help Celia climb out.
"We're done!" Maggie Connors yelled as she ran over and hugged Celia. "Can you believe it?"
"Not really," she said. "Part of me thinks that come September 1st, we'll just be getting back on the train."
"But we won't," Ted said, just as Celia suddenly put her arms around his neck and kissed him hard.
"What was that for?" he asked with a pleasantly surprised smile. He didn't usually get kissed like that when other people were around.
"Had to get it out of my system before my dad shows up," she said as all of the parents and guests began to appear around them to congratulate their children. "You know how he can be."
Ted knew exactly how her father could be, and he suddenly made a playful gesture to stand as far away from her as possible. Simon's mother and older sisters all arrived at that moment to shower everyone with praise and congratulations, followed by Celia's father moments later. He began to gush about how proud he was of her, and even—to both Ted and Celia's surprise—stopped to shake Ted's hand and congratulate him.
"Way to pull it out and finish things off," said Mr. Ward.
Ted smiled awkwardly. Given Mr. Ward's choice of words, he could help but be reminded of sex. He wondered if perhaps Mr. Ward was trying to insinuate that he suspected something, and in turn, make him feel as uncomfortable as possible. If he did, it was a mission accomplished. Ted stole a glance at Celia, who also looked to be confused by her father's choice of words. Like Ted, she seemed to be nervously contemplating whether or not it was a harmless turn of the phrase or a deliberate attempt to make the pair of them squirm.
"Oh, congratulations!" said Ted's grandmother as she appeared through the crowd and provided a welcomed distraction. She hugged her grandson and looked him up and down. "I'm so proud!"
As his grams turned to congratulate Celia, Ted looked to see Harry and Ginny standing just a few yards away. They were talking amongst themselves and looking as though they were letting him and his grandmother have a moment. He walked over to the pair of them.
"Was the ceremony dull enough for you?" he asked.
"It wasn't so bad," Harry said with a proud smile.
Ginny learned in to give Ted a hug. "I can still remember when you shorter than me. Now look," she looked up at him, "I have to look up at you.
Harry smirked. "I can still remember holding him as a baby."
"Oh, not you two, too," Ted groaned. "Grams I expect it from, but you two can't go getting sappy on me as well."
They both started laughing, right as Celia and Simon suddenly both stopped by to say their hellos. Everyone chatted for a bit, before Celia's father mentioned that they had to be on their way. With her father there, Ted had to stop himself from leaning down to kiss her goodbye; instead, he waved.
"See you tonight, then," she said before trailing after her father.
"Are you going to have a hundred people over at my house for your party?" Harry asked.
"It shouldn't be that many," Simon said, giving Ted a playful slap on the back.
Ted gave Simon a weary smile. He had only invited a handful of friends before Simon had gotten a hold of the idea and gone around inviting all sorts of people. He wasn't even sure how many people were showing up. "It hopefully won't be that many."
"We're not worried," Ginny reassured them. "Just don't destroy my house."
"I don't know if I can make that promise," Simon joked.
After throwing around a few more pleasantries and congratulations with Simon and his family, Ginny claimed that they had to be getting back in order to set up for the party that evening. In that moment, Ted cast one last glance back at the castle that sat off in the distance. He knew it wasn't the last time he'd ever see it, but it was different now. Everything was different now. Every time he saw it from this point forward would be different.
Once they had arrived back to Harry and Ginny's house, Ted chose to forget about being sentimental. He instead tried to get himself geared up for the events ahead of him that night. Harry and Ginny had gone about trying to make sure that everything was in order, while Simon and Ted simply stood around in the back garden pushing a few chairs around in an attempt to look busy.
"Should we put the chairs over there?" Simon asked as the afternoon started to turn into evening.
"We just moved them from there to here," Ted said as he gave up and plopped down onto one of them. "Sod it all. It's not as if people aren't going to move them anyway."
"One last hurrah," Simon said, sitting as well. "Last time we'll see a lot of these people. Unless we run into them on accident."
"You'll probably see all sorts of people at the Ministry," Ted said he stared up at the sky and watched the pink sky turn darker.
"Yeah, but you'll probably see a lot of them coming into St. Mungo's," he said. "Then again, they'll probably all be ill or hurt."
"I don't know how much time I'll be spending around people," he said still gazing upwards. "I feel as if I'm going to be chained next to a cauldron in a back room while being forced to cure diseases."
"I would pay to see that."
He smiled. He was excited about his new job, but he had to admit that the issue of his training starting the following week was sort of crummy timing. As it were, most of his friends didn't have anywhere to report to until the summer's end. Simon didn't have to report to the Department of Magical Transportation until late August, and Celia didn't start work in the Department of International Magical Cooperation until shortly after that. Ted seemed to be the only one who was being forced to rush off to work so quickly.
Ted and Simon sat around talking for another half an hour before people started tuning up for the party. Celia and her friends we amongst the first to arrive, before several more of the people Simon had invited began showing up. As more and more faces continued to fill the back garden, Ted counted twenty-three people at one point—only six of wish he had personally asked to come. He was curious if Victoire and her siblings would turn up, but put the thought out of his mind once the party got underway. This was one of the last nights he had before being forced to become a responsible adult. He was going to enjoy it.
"What time do you have to go to the hospital tomorrow?" Celia asked as she sat on Ted's lap and reminded him of what he had in store for himself tomorrow.
"One o'clock," he said as he leaned his head against her shoulder. He was not looking forward to his orientation, even though it would probably only take an hour or so. Everything just seemed to be happening so fast.
"When you're done, you should come by," she said. "We can do something."
"Okay," he said as he found himself absently scanning the garden. People were standing and talking in small groups and everyone looked as if they were having a good time. He noticed that Simon was floating from group to group like a butterfly. He seemed to be making sure he had something to do with everyone there.
Ted laughed as he watched him, but buried his laughter into Celia's arm. Here it was, his party and he was letting Simon play host while he sat off hiding in the corner. Oddly enough, this was the way he preferred it.
"What's so funny?" Celia asked.
"Simon." He laughed. "Just watch him."
"Where is he?"
"He should be over there," he said pointing aimlessly, but Simon was no longer where he had been moments before. Ted looked around in search of him until he was distracted by the site of Dominique and Louis Weasley emerging from back of Harry's house.
"I'll be right back," he said, patting Celia so she would stand and allow him up. He stood and made his way across the garden toward the pair of newcomers. "You guys came."
"I told you we would," Louis said as Dominique pushed Ted to say hello.
Ted glanced around. "But Victoire didn't?"
"Oh, she did," Dominique muttered, "but she's hiding inside."
He looked unsurprised by this. "I'll go talk to her."
"Good luck with that," Louis said as he stepped away to join the crowd of guests. Ted turned and made his way inside. As he opened the door, he suddenly overheard James Potter's voice carry across the room
"Ted says I should be in Hufflepuff, but I don't want anything but Gryffindor."
Ted snorted a laugh as he shut the door behind him. He'd been trying to convince James that Gryffindor really wasn't anything special for years now, but he refused to listen.
"Your dad's right," said Victoire's voice. "It really doesn't really matter what house you're in because—"
"Hufflepuff is best," Ted interrupted as he walked into the room. He put his hands into his pockets and observed Victoire sitting with Harry, Ginny, and James. He smiled at her.
James laughed. "You're saying that to a room full of Gryffindors!"
"Which means I need to get the truth out," he joked. He cast a casual glance at the arm of the sofa Victoire was sitting on before he sat on it. "What's up, Vic? I saw Nicki and Lou outside, so I figured you had to be around here somewhere."
"Just visiting," she said as she gestured around the room.
"Do you all have everything you need out there?" Harry asked.
Ted smiled. "Yeah, we're great."
"There's more food in the kitchen," Ginny added, "so just help yourself."
"Will do," he said before standing and glancing back at Victoire. "Well, party's outside if you do feel like coming out of hiding and joining us."
"I'm not hiding," she said defensively. "I just hadn't seen them in ages and—"
"Don't let us keep you," Harry said. "We're old and boring."
James made a face that said he didn't agree with that assessment one bit. "Speak for yourself, Dad."
"Come on, then," Ted encouraged, nudging Victoire in the shoulder in an attempt to coax her to follow him. He knew she didn't want to be there, but he appreciated her coming. She glanced up at him unenthusiastically and took a deep breath. She slowly stood and followed him outside, where he immediately scanned the garden in search of Celia. He hadn't exactly mentioned that Victoire may show up, because he wasn't sure she would. Now that she had, he couldn't help but think that he probably should have said something.
He found Celia standing across the garden with a group of her friends. She was staring directly at them, a clear mixture of annoyance and confusion in her expression. He threw her an optimistic smile, but she didn't return it.
"You know everybody," he said to Victoire just as Simon suddenly came rushing over to them both.
"You! You look amazing," Simon said as he hugged her and lifted her off the ground. "We're still getting married, right?"
"Perhaps," she said with a smile once he set her down.
"You'll come around," he added. "I mean, now that I'm done with school our chances of seeing each other are becoming fewer and far between." He sighed overdramatically. "I don't know what I'm going to do to get through the day."
Ted rolled his eyes. Apparently, Simon wasted no time falling back into old habits. "You could start by fawning over a girl who's actually interested in you," he suggested as he patted him on the back. He chanced another glance at Celia and saw that she was staring at him expectantly; her eyes already signaling for him to join her. He took a deep breath before he made his way towards her.
"You didn't mention anything about—" she began.
"I know," he interrupted. "I should have. I invited her and her brother and sister, but I guess I didn't think they'd come."
She looked over his shoulder to where Simon and Victoire were now sitting and talking off to the side. "You could have warned me."
"I know," he repeated. "But don't worry about it. She won't bother you."
She gave him a doubtful look before returning to the conversation that she had been having with her friends, all of whom were now giving Ted critical looks.
It was then, in an effort to be fair, that Ted decided to do his best impersonation of Simon and make an attempt to balance his time with all of his guests. It was only right, after all. He would split his time between Celia and Victoire throughout the night and simply bounce in between the two sides of the yard that each had unofficially claimed as their own. He even felt as if he did a halfway decent job by the night's end. Celia and her friends had kept their distance from Victoire and hers, and with the exception of a few panicked looks from Celia throughout the course of the evening, there was no drama whatsoever. It was absolute best scenario Ted could have asked for.
"T.R starts work next week," Celia said was telling a group of their friends as Ted currently found himself sitting with her towards the end of evening.
"Jeez, T.R, you're wasting no time, are you?" asked Julia Summers.
"Doesn't seem like it," he said as he stretched his arm around Celia. "I can rest when I'm dead, I suppose."
Celia smiled at him, just as Caleb started telling them all a story about how he wants to travel the world before settling down and getting a job. He was lecturing them on how he didn't see the rush in going straight from school to work since life was too short to—
He looked up. Victoire was standing there with Dominique and Louis. She was forcing a smile at both he and Celia.
"We're taking off, mate," Louis said with a gesture towards the house.
"Oh." He stood up and stepped over Celia to make his way out of the group, "Already?"
"Yeah," Victoire said as they walked towards the house, "but it was a really good time."
"Glad to hear it." He smiled. "I'm really glad you guys could come. You know, when I get some time off from training at the hospital, we'll have to get together."
"Absolutely," Victoire said as the four of them stood just outside of the backdoor. "Good luck with that by the way. The training and all."
He sighed. "I'll need it, that's for sure." He put out his hand to shake Louis's as Dominique gave him a playful punch in the shoulder, which he returned with a small hug. He turned towards Victoire. They both stood there staring at each other. He knew the polite thing to do would be to hug her, but that seemed extremely awkward with Celia watching. Still, she had come here for him. It was the least he could do.
"Night," he said as leaned forward and hugged her. "And honestly, thanks for coming."
She nodded and pulled away quickly.
"Night," Louis said with a short wave as all three turned to disappear into the house.
Ted turned back to his friends. He knew he was probably bound to get another cold look from Celia, but as it were, she didn't even seem to be paying attention. She was listening to something Caleb was saying. For once, she wasn't glaring at him for being within five feet of Victoire. He slowly smiled. That was definitely progress.
A/N: This brings us to the end of the prequel and part one! Again, (I sound like a broken record) thanks for the reviews! They're what keep me going since without feedback, what's the point?
Next up is part two: "A Year in the Life" from Victoire's POV and part three: "The Spark" from Ted's POV. It's the same story, just from two different perpectives. You can read either one first, but I do hope you'll check them out! :) Thanks again!