Disclaimer: If you recognize someone, they belong to JKR. The others are all creations of mine to fill the gaps. :) Plus, any similarities are accidental and completely unintentional.
Summary: Ted's had a busy year, too. Done with school and forced to deal with growing up, his year is filled with ups & downs. Annoying coworkers, mad hours, breakups, hookups & falling for the last person he ever expected to. This is Ted's trip through "A Year in the Life."
A/N: Part 3 of 4. If you're here before checking out part 1: "The Start" do not pass go! It's best to read it before moving on with this story. However, Part 2: "A Year in the Life" can either be read before or after this story. They are interchangeable companion stories. See my profile for more info.
Ted had only been to St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries three times in his life, and all three of those times had been for the birth of Harry's children. His grandmother had taken him on each occasion-walking him down the white hallways and past all of the Healers in their lime green robes, he would watch as they rushed from point to point. As a kid, he used to find something very funny about the way the Healers would run about the hospital. It was as if they were always in a rush to get to wherever they needed to be. He wondered what could be so important that they would always need to be in such a hurry, but needless to say, these days, their swiftness made a lot more sense to him.
He exited the hospital lifts at the third floor where he approached an older witch sitting behind a desk. She looked up at him immediately.
"Can I help you?"
"Hi," he said, pulling out a piece of paper from his pocket. "I'm looking for the antidote research office."
She gave him an appraising look before letting out a slight laugh. "Another one, eh?"
"You go down there," she said, pointing down a long corridor. "It's the last door on the right." She smiled. "Best of luck to you."
"Thank you?" he said, forcing a strange smile before setting off down the corridor as she had instructed. That had been an odd that encounter. He supposed he'd probably have to get used to a lot of strange behavior around a hospital.
He entered the final door on the right as he was told and found himself in a large round room that reminded him, in many ways, of a much better lit version of the Potion's Dungeon at Hogwarts. There were tables at the back that were covered in bubbling cauldrons and others that were cluttered with stacks and stacks of parchment. A few wooden desks were scattered around the remainder room while the walls were filled with photos and diagrams of various maladies and ailments—some of which were quite gruesome. One, in particular, caused a sudden sweeping feeling of nausea to overcome Ted the longer he stared at it. He averted his eyes away.
"You lost?" asked a deep sounding voice.
Ted looked around for the source, but didn't see anyone amongst the stacks clutter. He had thought the room was empty. "I'm looking for Edmund Herbertson," he replied to the mysterious voice.
A dark-haired man's head suddenly poked over a large stack of papers from across the room. "He's at lunch. He should be back soon."
"Oh," Ted said as he looked around the room, unsure of what to do next.
"You can sit and wait for him," the man said, gesturing to an empty desk. "That one's free."
Ted gave him a quick nod and made his way to sit. He continued to stare around the room to pass the time. It was an absolute mess in here, what with the stacks of paper and random junk lying about. How on earth did anyone get anything done with this much stuff getting in the way?
"So," said the man, "what's your name?"
"Ted," he said, looking in the direction of where the man had been before, but not finding him. "Ted Lupin."
"I'm Nathaniel," he said, suddenly appearing on the opposite side of where Ted had been looking. He had somehow snuck around the room undetected, which wasn't entirely surprising given the sheer amount of clutter. "Nathaniel Connolly."
Ted shook his hand; for the first time since entering, he managed to get a good look at him. He was solidly built and with broad shoulders, but wasn't nearly as old as Ted had assumed he was given the depth of his voice. In fact, he couldn't have been much older than he was despite his jet black hair being streaked with small patches of premature gray. Ted couldn't help but wonder if that was a result of the stress of the job or just an unfortunate coincidence.
"Fresh from school, then?" Nathaniel asked.
"I graduated yesterday."
"Shit." He laughed. "Eager little beaver, aren't you?"
"I didn't have much of a choice, really. I just got the letter saying to come in today."
Nathaniel stared at him before clicking his tongue rather absently and turning back towards his desk. "You must be fairly bright, then."
Ted shrugged modestly. He'd never been one to brag.
"It takes a lot more than being bright to survive around here, though," he continued. "We get a lot of new people, but they rarely stay." He glanced towards the door. "A lot of it has to do with some of Healers around here. They're so far stuck in their ways that they refuse to accept new forms of research. Another is because the job itself is rather frustrating without the old senior-level geezers breathing down your back. If you're not a patient person, I'd recommend getting out while you can."
"I'm pretty patient," Ted said without flinching.
He smiled. "I was the last person they hired here to actually stick and I finished school over four years ago. We've had seven people since, counting you." He shook his head. "Not a single one has made it past three months. So, fair warning, most people won't expect you to either."
"I'm not much of a quitter," Ted said as the door to the laboratory opened. In walked a small woman—or a girl, Ted really couldn't tell given how young she looked—with short, fair hair. Her hands were filled with several bags, which she promptly dropped on the first table she came across.
"I got you a corned beef sandwich," she said, walking over to Nathaniel and holding out a bag to him. "It was all they had left, so don't bitch."
Nathaniel took the bag she'd offered and inspected it. "The entire tearoom only had corned beef left?" he asked doubtfully. "I hate corned beef. You know I hate corned beef." He poked his head inside the bag. "Why do I think you just grabbed the first one you saw because you couldn't be bothered to look?"
"Don't bitch," she said before her eyes abruptly settled onto Ted. "Who are you?"
"New blood," Nathaniel answered as he examined his sandwich in disgust. "He's waiting for Herbertson."
She laughed. "And how long do we give this one, Nate?"
Nathaniel had taken that moment to bit into his sandwich, his face growing more and more disgusted as he chewed. "Well," he said with his mouth full, "now that he's met you, I give him the time it takes to get to the door and run like hell."
She gave him a throwaway look before refocusing back onto Ted; her gaze trailed him up and down as though she was thoroughly examining him. She looked like she couldn't have been older than maybe fourteen, but the way she carried herself and the seriousness in her face said that she was definitely older than her baby face and small stature conveyed.
As she continued to look him up and down, Ted felt slightly like a zoo exhibit. It was mildly uncomfortable, so he cleared his throat in the hopes that perhaps she would get the message. It seemed to do something, because she did stop, but not before humming her approval—or disapproval, he couldn't tell—and walking away.
"Don't mind Hazel," Nathaniel whispered. "She a bit much sometimes, but she can be really brilliant," he looked over his shoulder to see if she was paying attention, "though, I'd never tell her that because it would go straight to her head. Just watch it. She can be a real bitch if you set her off."
"I heard that," she said from across the room.
"And be careful when you talk about her, because she's got ears like a hawk," he added.
Ted cocked his eyebrow curiously at him, just as Hazel returned with her lunch and plopped down into the chair directly next to his. As she pulled out her own sandwich, she mumbled, "At least this one looks like he may have a brain." She looked at Nathaniel. "Remember the last one we got? She was a complete and utter moron." She glanced back at Ted and took a bite out of her sandwich. "You do have a brain, right?"
Nathaniel gave him a told-you-so shrug before returning to his desk.
"Um, I like to think I do," Ted said.
She nodded. "So, what's your story?"
He shrugged. "I don't know what there's to tell."
"Well, first, what are you called?"
"I'm Hazel," she said with quick smile. "Now tell me, Ted, why do you want to work here?"
"Am I being interviewed?"
Hazel nodded while Nathaniel shook his head from across the room. Even with his question unanswered, Ted still began attempting to formulate something to respond with. Luckily for him the lab door opened again at that moment and in walked an older, grumpy looking man with stark white hair and a thick white mustache.
"Connolly or Gilbert," he said, "I need one of you downstairs with Healer Pullman to take notes on some recent dragon pox findings."
"I'll do it," Nathaniel said as he tossed his barely eaten sandwich into the rubbish bin. He then stood, grabbed a quill and a folder, and disappeared out of the lab.
"Now Gilbert," the man said as he picked up a folder, "they need someone on the first floor for an unidentified spider bite. They're saying the bite is causing hallucinations and purple welts, so we may have a new breed—"
"I'll go chart the symptoms," she said as she stood and walked across the room.
"Be sure to chart the symptoms," he said, clearly not paying attention to her. "We may have to work out an experimental—" He stopped when he noticed Ted. "Who are you?"
Ted stood and forced an awkward smile. Apparently, he was the only one who remembered that he had an appointment today. "Ted Lupin, sir."
"Oh," he said, his expression seemingly asking if he was supposed to know why that mattered. "Wait? The kid from of Hogwarts?"
"Oh. Right." He waved his hand in the air. "Forgot about you. Well, you can just follow me."
Ted did as he was told, following the unidentified man into a small back office that looked far tidier than the front room they had just been in. The man sat down behind a large desk at the center of the room and motioned, without looking at Ted, to sit in the nearby vacant chair. As he sat, Ted noticed a small plaque on the desk that read: Edmund Herbertson.
"I won't lie," Herbertson said as he absently began scribbling something down onto a piece of parchment in front of him. "I'm not the one who schedules these orientation things, so I'm never prepared for them. I also happen to be short staffed and entirely too busy, so this will be quick." He reached over and grabbed a piece of paper from the top of a stack and quickly looked it over. "Your N.E.W.T. scores were impressive."
"You've seen them?" Ted asked casually, trying to hide his evident curiosity seeing as he hadn't even seen his results yet.
"Of course we have," he said. "We get the scores well before the students do. I'm told you're clever. You also come highly recommended by Professor Holt." He looked up at Ted for the first time. "He and I are friendly with each other."
"Oh, he's a great professor—"
"I'm giving you an opportunity," he interrupted, "if, of course, you're willing?"
"I am," he sat up straighter, "absolutely."
"Before you say that, let me say that the hours are long, the work is arduous, and it requires a person to maintain extreme concentration and skill. In training, you will feel overwhelmed and overworked and this is something you must become accustomed to as being normal."
Ted stared at him blankly. Why did it seem like everyone was trying to scare him off?
"Most people can't handle it," he added, returning to the paper in front of him. "I'm tired of wasting my time on people. Am I wasting my time here, Mr.—-?" He stopped and looked at Ted expectantly, as if waiting for him to fill in the blank.
He shook his head. "No, sir."
Herbertson stood up. "If you can make it through the first six months, you'll make it for the long haul. Don't make me regret this."
Ted stood as well. "Yes, sir. Thank you."
"We'll see you next Monday," he said as he sat back down. "Connolly, who you just met out there, he should be here when you get in. He'll show you around."
Ted nodded and contemplated putting his hand out in an effort to shake Herbertson's, but he had already gone back to scribbling on his parchment. He instead hesitated momentarily before turning to leave.
"I run a very tight ship here," he said coolly. "I expect professionalism."
"Your hair," he said, pointing to his head with the tip of his quill. "You'll have to change it to something more normal looking. I'm not a fan of the wild color."
Ted absently ran a hand through his hair.
"You may want to rethink the length as well," he added. "Having shaggy hair like that past the ears isn't recommended since…" He smiled a little. "Well, you'll find that out in time, I'm sure."
"Not a problem," Ted said as he tried to remember the last time he'd even seen himself with normal colored hair. "It'll be fixed by Monday."
"Good day, then," he said dismissively.
Ted stood for a second longer, but then turned and quickly left the office. He just as quickly exited the lab and made his way back out into the corridors before taking the lifts to the ground floor. As he emerged, several Healers came hurrying by and yelling something about a poison code. He only just dodged one as they scurried by.
Upon walking out of the hospital, he immediately found himself hit smack-dab by the heat of midday; however, he had a feeling it wasn't merely the heat that was making him suddenly feel sweaty. He'd only managed to walk a few blocks before he felt compelled to stop and lean against the side of a nearby shop. What the hell was he getting himself into with this job? He'd practically been encouraged to run away by everyone he'd met in there, not to mention being told he was setting himself up to be overwhelmed and overworked. Plus, he was walking into this willingly. What was wrong with him?
He rubbed his eyes and thought of how miserable his summer was bound to be now. Everyone else he knew would be enjoying theirs. They would be going on holiday or, at the very least, doing absolutely nothing. They were probably enjoying themselves right now and not giving a second thought to what was in store for them in a few days time.
And just like that, he had the abrupt urge to vent to someone about everything he was now worrying about. He just wanted to talk and get all of his anxiety off of his chest. He wanted someone to tell him things weren't as bad as he thought, but of course, Celia was out with her friends and didn't expect him over for at least an hour or so. Harry was working, and Simon was fishing at some unknown destination for who knew how long. He didn't want to bother his grandmother with something that she probably would find trivial and tell him he needed to simply face head on. Besides those people, there was really no one else he could bother with this sort of thing.
He didn't give it a second thought. Seconds later, he disappeared with a pop, only to reappear many miles away along the cliffs of a seaside home. It'd been almost two years since the last time he'd been here, but as he looked around, things didn't look as though they'd changed at all from the way he had remembered them. In fact, staring at the house in the brightly lit summer sun reminded him of an all too familiar feelings of simpler times.
Crossing the lush green lawn, he approached the front of the house and knocked on the door. He found himself swaying anxiously back and forth on the spot before shoving his hands into his pockets simply to have something to do with them. After a moment, he heard the sounds of someone approaching from the other side, followed by a lock unlatching and the slow creaking of door hinges being awoken. As the door opened, a very pretty blonde woman appeared on the threshold; she smiled the second she realized who he was.
"Hi, Mrs. Weasley," he said, knowing that he sounded more formal than really necessary. It had just been so long since he had last seen her that he felt it was almost expected. "How are you?"
She learned against the door frame and continued to smile at him, seemingly amused by his unexpected visit. "I'm fine. I know it 'as been some time, but my name iz still Fleur. Zat 'as not changed. You do not 'ave to call me Mrs. Weasley."
"Fleur." He grinned. "Sorry."
"Come in," she said, stepping aside. "How 'ave you been?"
"I've been well," he said as he immediately noticed how quiet the house was. "Very well."
"I'm glad to 'ear zat. Congratulations on your completion of school."
He smiled. "Thank you."
"Victoire's outside," she said as she pointed towards a side door in the kitchen. "I expect that's why you are 'ere?"
Ted gave a quick nod. "Yeah, I thought I'd just come bother her."
"I'm sure you will not bo'zer her," she said as she lead the way towards the kitchen door.
"I like to think it's what I do best," he joked before approaching the door and pushing it open to reveal the side garden of the Weasley's home. The sunlight reflecting off the lushness of the green grass made him squint, but he focused quickly and began scanning the yard for Victoire. There was no sign of her anywhere, just trees and a few lawn chairs scattered about. He took a few steps further, letting his shoes touch the grass, before deciding to perhaps check the back of the house. He knew from the past that this was where she had generally preferred to spend her time when she was outside. At least, it had been when they were kids.
Sure enough, as he rounded the corner to the back of the house, he found her lying on the ground and reading in a patch of sunlight. She was lying on her stomach and facing away from him, not seeming to realize that he was there. He grinned. He knew he could easily scare her if he wanted to. Her reaction would actually be pretty funny, not to mention, he could definitely use a laugh right now.
He made his footsteps quiet, and with an all but silent approach, he reached his foot out and lightly tapped his shoe to her leg.
She yelped in a startled manner, rolling over onto her back and raising her hand to shield her eyes from the sun. "Ted?"
"Didn't mean to scare you," he lied.
She lowered her hand and shook her head. "You're a pitiful liar."
"What are you doing here?"
"Thought I'd swing by and thank you for coming to my party yesterday."
She squinted up at him. "You already thanked me."
"Yeah, but, you know, I was distracted. And, you went out of your way to come even though you didn't want to." He shrugged. "So, thanks."
"Well, you're welcome," she said slowly, "but why are you really here?"
He looked away and off into the distance. "I didn't know I needed a reason."
"You don't need one, but since you have one, you might as well tell me what it is."
He glanced back down at her before taking a seat next to her. Even after a year and a half of not speaking to each other, she still somehow managed to have him figured out. Was he that predictable? "I was just bored."
"Yeah, me too," she said with a lazy sigh. "You start work soon, though. That'll be exciting."
Ted leaned back onto the grass next to her and stared up at the sky, noticing that it was quite blue today. "I think I hate my job already."
She turned to look at him. "Why?"
"I went by for orientation and everyone was telling me to get out while I could. Not to mention that my boss seems like a git, my coworkers all seem weird, and they've basically spelled it out for me that I will no longer have a life."
"When did you have one to begin with?"
"Funny," he said sarcastically.
"I'm sure it's just at the beginning," she said. "It'll calm down. Plus, you're a hard worker. You should be up for this sort of challenge."
"Yeah, a challenge," he mumbled. "I wanted a challenge, not indentured servitude."
"Blah, blah, blah." She rolled onto her stomach so that they were now face to face. "Did you really expect this to be easy?"
He stared at her.
"Not easy, but—"
"They're probably just trying to scare you," she continued. "They probably want to make sure they're not taking on some lazy lay-about who's going to run the second things get hard. Ted, this has been your dream for ages."
"Curing the werewolf gene has been my dream," he corrected. "All the other stuff—"
"You have to pay your dues," she said matter-of-factly.
"I'm not quitting or running away, Vic," he said, now feeling defensive. "I'm just bitching to vent my frustrations."
"If that's it, then" she shrugged, "by all means. I'm all ears." She looked off in the opposite direction. "I'm a bit shocked I got chosen, though. Celia busy?"
"I'm not really sure what she's up to," he lied.
"Again with the pitiful lying," she said with a smile. "Where are you going to realize you're bad at that?"
He sighed. "She's with her friends, but I could have found her if I really wanted to. Instead, I…I don't know. I just felt like coming here." He looked up at the sky again. "I thought we should catch up. I feel like we're friends again, but I have no idea what's going on in your life."
"That's because there's nothing to tell," she said. "No plans for the summer. I start sixth year in the fall. That's that."
"How'd your O.W.L.s go?"
"Really good, I think. How about your exams?"
"Well enough to get me the career I've always dreamed of," he said with a hint of sarcasm in his tone.
Victoire smiled. "Did Celia get mad that I came yesterday?"
Ted's face went pensive. "She was more annoyed that I didn't warn her rather than because you were there," he said as he put his arm behind his head. "Otherwise, she didn't mention it."
Victoire nodded thoughtfully as she began tearing blades of grass out of the ground. "My opinions aside," she coughed obviously, "how are things with you two?"
An bemused smile crept at Ted's face. "Are you actually asking me about my relationship?"
"Seems that way, doesn't it?" she mumbled.
"Things are good."
"How long has it been now?"
"A little over than a year and a half."
"Jeez," she said, sounding surprised. "Time flies when you're having fun."
"Do I detect sarcasm?"
"From me?" She smiled innocently. "Perish the thought."
He shook his head. "Now who's the bad liar?"
She threw him a lazy smile before looking off in the distance. "So, do you love her?"
He looked back at her oddly. Victoire was the absolute last person on the face of the planet that he ever thought he would be having this conversation with.
"Yeah…I mean, I guess," he said slowly, "I think so."
"You think so?" she asked. "I thought love was this all consuming sort of thing and when you're in it, you just know?"
"It's not as cut and dry as you'd think." He shrugged. "I don't know. It's complicated."
"Whatever you say…" She flipped over onto her back again. They were both quiet for a long moment until she spoke again. "Can I ask you something?"
"Since when have you asked permission?"
"Well, it's a bit personal."
"I'll brace myself."
"Have you two…" She suddenly sat up and turned to look at him. "Have you had sex?"
He closed his eyes and recoiled slightly. Talking about sex with Victoire felt odd, as if she shouldn't even know what it was, let alone be asking him about it. Even hearing her say the word felt awkward.
"I'll take that delayed silence as a yes," she said as she wiped some sweat off of her brow.
"Yes," he said finally, "but that's all I'm saying about it."
"Because it's weird."
"Sex is weird?"
"No, but talking about it with you is."
"It just is," he said as he kept his eyes closed so he didn't have to look at her. "I don't know."
"Oh, give me a break." She laughed. "So wait, how was it?"
"When did you first—?"
"Are you actually any good?"
He opened his eyes and gawked at her. "What kind of question is that?"
She laughed again, seemingly amused by the entire conversation. "You're right. That question is probably far more fit for Celia, huh?"
"We're not talking about this anymore," he said in a hasty attempt to change the subject, "next topic."
"Okay, fine." She laughed as she lay back down. "Pick something, then."
He thought about what they could talk about that was the furthest thing possible from having to do with his sex life. "Why'd you and David Thorpe split up?"
Victoire inhaled slowly beside him. "It just didn't work out. You know how it is."
"Actually, I don't." He smirked. "See, I've only had one relationship so far and I'm still in it. Clearly because I can make them work."
She looked at him and pretended to be insulted. "Ouch, Ted."
"Now we're even for your little remark from before," he said with a laugh, though, as his laugh tapered off, they both grew quiet again. "You know, I sort of liked David. He was always an okay bloke. Minus that trying to kill you thing."
"When did he try to…?" she began, though she seemed to suddenly realized. "Wait the coconut thing? How do you even know about that?"
"Thorpe and I go way back," he joked. "Best of friends, you know."
"He told you?"
"He brought it up in Potions one day. I over heard him telling Elizabeth Cole, actually."
"Huh…" she said slowly. "Funny how that's the second time in two days that her name's randomly come up."
She nodded. "Penelope Shears came by yesterday to tell me how Elizabeth and Stuart Reynolds have broken up."
"Really?" he asked, sounding genuinely surprised. Elizabeth and Stuart had been together for ages. To hear that they had finally split up was sort of strange. It was even stranger when he thought about how long it had been since the days he had fancied her. It seemed like an eternity ago. "What happened?"
"I don't know. I just know they did."
"Wait. Penelope came all the way over here to tell you two people broke up?" he asked. "People do that?"
"They do when they know I happen to think Stuart is very cute." She smiled. "Not that I know whether or not anything will come from it." She sighed heavily. "He and Dave were friends, so it may be weird. But Dave's gone now, so we'll see."
"You know," Ted said. "I've never liked Stuart."
"Why?" she asked. "What's he done?"
The truth was nothing. Ted had to wonder how stupid it would sound to tell her that he hadn't ever been fond of him for the sole reason that he was the guy who had won the girl that Ted had never had a shot with anyway. Even though he was well over Elizabeth, guys like Stuart would always bug him solely because they always have—and always will—get the girl.
"He's just a wanker."
"He is not," she said defensively. "Why is he a wanker?"
He made a hesitant face, but it soon gave way to a smile. He might as well just tell her. It was all a thing of the past anyway. "Want to know a secret?"
She looked intrigued.
"Fourth year…and most of fifth year, too," he paused and laughed, "I fancied Elizabeth."
Her jaw dropped. "You fancied Elizabeth Cole?"
She let out a short laugh. "You are just like all the rest of them!"
"If that's what qualifies me to be like the rest of them, then sure."
"How come you never told me?"
"I just don't talk about that sort of stuff," he sat up as stretched, "but now you know."
"I didn't think you fancied anyone before Celia," she said, sitting up as well. "I can't believe you didn't tell me. Why didn't you ever do anything about it?"
"I don't even know. It was so long ago." He checked his watch and realized the time. "But I'm going to get going. I've got plans with—" He brow flexed obviously. "Well, you know who."
She smirked. "Oh, don't let me keep you from your potential shagging."
He sighed wearily. "I shouldn't have said anything."
"I would have figured it one way or another. Remember, you're a poor liar."
"I'll work on that," he said as he pulled himself off the ground and dusted grass filings off of his clothes. "But hey, let's make this a habit, shall we?" He gestured between the two of them. "You know, not go another year or so without a chat."
Victoire nodded and mustered a tiny smile. "Sounds good."
"I'll see you later, Vic," Ted said, gearing himself to Apparate.
He stopped and turned back towards her.
With the same tiny smile as before, she added, "I'm glad you're back."