5 years later
Ted sniffled as he walked up the stairs towards his flat. He'd felt himself coming down with a cold that morning, but had spent the better part of his day at work drinking Pepper-Up Potions and brewing himself things that he knew would deter himself from getting any sicker than he already was. The last thing he could afford to do was get sick now, especially considering he'd had the last five months to get sick. Now was not the time.
Upon reaching his front door, he reached and turned the knob without bothering to stop and check if it was unlocked, knowing already that it would be open. As he entered, the warmth of the room hit him instantaneously, brining on a complete turnabout from the freezing New Year's temperatures from outside. In had been 2023 for less than a day and a half, but it seemed that all the new year had brought with it thus far were frigid winds, and rainy, sleet filled hours. Sure, the year had just started, but Ted couldn't help but remind himself—almost obsessively— that in a week's time, he'd have warmth and summer sunshine instead of a cold and grey winter. One week…
With a tired groan, he threw his stuff down on the floor and glanced around his flat—the very same flat he'd lived in since he was eighteen. It was looking scarce now, what with cardboard boxes piled up and strewn all over the room; only his larger pieces of future remained to remind him of what the place had even looked like before. Staring at it now, he almost couldn't get over how different it all looked with everything packed away. The room looked so much larger; so much emptier.
That wasn't even taking into account the night and day difference of how everything looked since the day he moved in. The stark white walls had now been painted to a tan color that even he had to admit made the room feel far less like an asylum and much more comfortable. The old furniture—most of which had been hand-me-downs from friends and family that he'd collected upon first moving in—were now actual pieces that he'd had a say in purchasing. There were pictures on the wall—or rather, there had been before they'd been packed away in boxes. It was strikingly strange to see the walls as bare as they were now, what with the frames missing from the spots they'd hung in for so long. Everything looked naked.
He glanced towards the window, where the only thing that remained exactly as it was from when he'd moved in at eighteen—his workbench—still sat. It was nestled snuggly between the window and the wall; the shelves of potion samples and ingredient still stationed directly above it and covered with various glass vials. In fact, the only change in his workspace over the last six years was that it had gotten a little bigger after he'd added a set of cupboards in the space where Auggie's cage used to be. Even then, it wasn't as if he'd really needed the cupboards, but filling the vacant space had been something Ted had needed to do after Auggie had passed two years earlier. He just couldn't handle staring at the empty gap where his things used to be.
He took one last lingering scan of the room, realizing that his workbench was really one of the only things left he had to pack. There were a few more things left to do in the bedroom, but other than that, the entire place looked as if it was actually shaping up to be moved. It was just a matter of time before he'd be ready to—
"Hey!" said a voice, cutting into his thoughts. "You're home early. I thought you said you wouldn't be back until seven."
He turned and smiled at the petite, little red-head who had emerged from the bedroom with her hair tossed messily up into a sloppy bun and a funny, bright pink knit hat on her head. The bright pink against her hair and freckles made her look drastically paler than usual, but she didn't seem to notice or care. She rarely did.
"Yeah, I did my best to cut out early, Ted said, looking around the room. "You packed a lot today. You went and took the pictures off the wall."
She nodded and stepped forward into the room. "I think this entire room is all but done. I did the kitchen today, too." She pointed towards it as she spoke. "All that's left is the bedroom and your bench over there."
Ted grinned appreciatively. "You're the best, Lil. I honestly wouldn't have gotten half this far if you hadn't helped me out."
Lily shrugged, pulling up the sleeves of her jumper to her elbow. "It's not like I had anything better to do over holiday break. Even if contributing to your move isn't something I'm exactly thrilled about."
"It's just two years."
"Two years," she said, throwing him a look that begged to ask how that wasn't an eternity. "When you get back, I'll almost be seventeen. I'll be sixteen and ten months if you want to be specific."
Ted laughed at Lily's desire to always be as specific as possible. "You act like that's so far away."
"It is far away!"
"But you'll be away at school for the most of it, so it doesn't even matter," he said. "We'll probably see each other just as much if you think about it."
"I'll still miss you," she mumbled, walking over to the sofa to plop herself on what little space wasn't currently covered in boxes.
"You've never been to Australia," he said with blatant enthusiasm in his tone. "Now you and the rest of your family have an excuse to come visit."
"Yeah, yeah…" she mumbled, reaching up the pull her hat down lower on her head to cover her eyes.
"I found it," she said, pulling it back up over her eyes again. "In your closet when I was packing up some of your stuff." She smiled. "Pink's not you color, so I'm keeping it."
Ted yawned and stretched his arms over his head. "It's not mine, but you're more than welcome to have it. If Vic didn't take it with her, she probably didn't want it."
"Maybe she just forgot it?" Lily asked as she took it off her head to examine it.
"It's pretty ugly," said Ted. "If she forgot it, she probably did it on purpose."
Lily made a face, obviously disagreeing with his ugly assessment. "I think it's cool." She looked back at him. "I'll just ask her when I see her."
"Yeah, well, she should be here within the hour," he said, clicking his tongue absently. "You could ask her then."
"Eh, Dad's due to come and pick me up any minute, so I'll probably miss her," she said, still examining the hat in her hands. "So, wait. Was the last time you saw Vicki when the two of you—?"
There was a knock at the door that caused them both to look immediately at it. Without hesitating, Ted took a few sidesteps towards it and pulled it open to reveal Harry standing on the other side. He looked rather cold and pink faced standing there with his cloak bustled up around the collar.
"Told you so," Lily said, glancing at Ted before she stood from the sofa. "Hi, Dad."
"Hi, Lil," Harry said, throwing her a quick smile before turning it onto Ted. "Hey, Ted." He stepped inside and gave the room a quick once over, his eyes trailing over all of the boxes and packed items. "Almost all packed, then?"
"I like it to be known that I did most of it," Lily added.
"She definitely did," Ted said, nodding toward most of the room. "I don't know what I would have done had she not come over to help. With me trying to tie up all my loose ends down at Mungo's, I haven't had the time to do anything."
"You should have said something earlier," Harry said, his tone dropping to a wearier sounding one. "Had I known you needed the extra help, I would have sent the boys over with Lily." He pulled a quick face. "At the moment, they're at my and Ginny's beck and call, whether they like it or not."
"Because they're grounded," Lily said immediately, piggybacking off her father's comment. There was a definite amusement in her tone, as though she seemed to find something particularly funny about this.
"Both of them?" Ted asked. "What'd they do?"
"They—" Lily began, eagerly stepping forward to tell him before Harry could begin, "went out last night and had too much to drink at a friend's house. They came home at, like, two in the morning and made so much noise stumbling about that they woke everyone up. Al was sick in the toilet all night."
Harry rolled his eyes. "I was annoyed because I had to be up for work this morning and they're running around like a bunch of nutters in the middle of the night knocking into things, making noise, acting ridiculously…" He shook his head. "I know they're sixteen and seventeen and they're at an age where they're friends are all that matter, but it's not as if Ginny and I have ever been overly strict. We let them go out and enjoy themselves, but to act so stupid…"
"Mum was livid," Lily added. "She woke them both up at seven o'clock in the morning and made them do chores."
"And they're still at them as we speak," Harry muttered. "They may very well be for the rest of the holidays, too, if Ginny has her way."
"They deserve it," Lily said, smiling smugly before she looked back at Ted. "But, honestly, it was so funny this morning to see them dragged out of bed. James could barely stand and Al honestly looked green."
"We never had this problem with you," Harry continued, gesturing at Ted. "You were always so easy."
"Well, I was a perfect child," Ted joked. "Then again, I have a feeling James and Al have a little more going on in their lives than I used to at school."
"Yeah, well, it's starting to wear on me," Harry said lazily. "As far as I'm concerned, they could use a break from the running around at all hours and the meeting with friends. They can take the next two days off before going back to school and enjoy some family time. Speaking of which, you'll be over tomorrow, won't you?"
"Mum's cooking all your favorites for your going-away party," said Lily. "Well…" she laughed, "she is unless she makes James and Al do it."
Both Ted and Harry curled their lips at the mere mention of the idea of James and Albus at the helm of dinner making, but Ted still nodded regardless. "Definitely will, even though it's a bit early for going-away parties. I don't even leave for a week."
"But we have to do ours before we go back to school," Lily said obviously. "Plus, we're the only party that matters."
"That's true," Harry said, smiling a little before turning to go back out the front door. "Lil, you got all your stuff? We need to get back."
She looked around the room, as if to check if she did, before she seemed to realize that she was still wearing the pink knit hat on her head. She reached up to take it off
"I'm telling you," said Ted. "You can keep it. If Vic left it, she didn't want it."
Lily hesitated, looking as though she obviously wanted to take it with her, but she just wasn't sure. After a couple of seconds, she lowered her hand from her head. "Okay, well, I guess I could always give it back if she does want it. She'd just have to tell me."
Ted threw Harry an amused look, which Harry returned before placing his hand on his daughter's shoulder. "Grab your cloak and let's get going." He looked back at Ted. "We'll see you tomorrow."
"Bye, Teddy," Lily said as she pulled her cloak around her shoulders.
"See you tomorrow," Ted said, watching as Lily waved a little before Harry grabbed her arm and Apparated on the spot.
Ted sniffled once they were gone and stared at where they had been standing for several seconds more, feeling slightly dazed. When he turned back around to face his flat, a strange feeling crept up upon him as he stood alone in his place with everything boxed up and put away. He'd grown fairly used to living on his own again over the last couple of months, but at least a few days ago he could walk around his flat without tripping over boxes everywhere he went.
He reached out to shut the front door behind him, contemplating whether he had enough time to take a nap, when the sound of people coming up the stairs made him hesitate. There were voices; very familiar voices. He sensed that he knew who they belonged to and turned back towards the corridor to wait and see who appeared. He wanted to double check and make sure it wasn't who he thought it was, though, by the sounds of things, there really wasn't anyway it couldn't be—
"Hey!" shouted Durrin, who had just turned the corner with his hands full of flattened cardboard boxes. "You are home!"
"I had a feeling you would be," said Whit, her arms also full of flattened boxes, though she looked to be struggling with hers.
"I thought you might still be at work," Durrin said to Ted, dropping the cardboard pieces down on his doorstep. "You feeling any better?"
Ted shrugged and gestured to the boxes that were now at his feet. "What do you got there?"
"We come bearing gifts."
"Boxes," said Ted, reaching down to pick one up off the floor.
"You can never have too many boxes," said Durrin, looking off behind Ted and into his flat. "Shit, mate, you're almost all packed."
"I guess you can have too many boxes," said Whit, looking into the flat for herself.
"No, I appreciate it," said Ted, reaching out to relieve Whit of her armful as he turned back inside. "I still have a few more things to pack up." He let the cardboard fall onto the floor with a lazy gesture and gestured to Durrin to do the same.
"You really have got a lot done," said Whit, making her way towards the sofa and moving a box to make more room to sit. "Knowing how busy you've been lately, I didn't think you'd have half this much done."
"Yeah," Durrin laughed. "The way you were going, I thought the move was off."
"I had a little help," said Ted, plopping himself down on a free space of floor across from where Whit was now sitting. "Believe it or not, I can figure out ways to get stuff done."
"Well, at least you're not totally useless without Victoire," Durrin joked.
"Ha-ha," said Ted.
"Speaking of Vic," said Whit, sitting up straighter. "When was the last time you talked to her? Because when I last heard from her, she said she was planning on being back in England days ago, but I haven't been able to get a hold of her."
"She was supposed to be back days ago," Ted said, reaching up to run his hands through his hair,
"but she changed her plans at the last minute to go to France to visit her brother."
"Ohhh," said Whit, as if something suddenly dawned on her. "That makes sense." She paused for a long moment. "How is Louis doing?"
Ted shrugged. "Last I heard, he has his good days and bad, but you can ask Vic when she gets here." He checked his watch. "She said she'd be here before seven."
"I'm glad she's finally back," Whit said, crossing her legs and leaning back into the sofa. "I feel like I haven't seen her in…when was the last time she came home?"
"Start of October, I think," Ted said, consulting the mental calendar in his head, "so, about there months ago."
"So…I haven't seen her since then," Whit said, half frowning. "And now, she'll finally be back, but then she'll be picking right back up and leaving again."
"Except this time she's taking Ted with her," Durrin said, throwing him a lazy smile.
Ted grinned. "That she is."
"I can't believe it's already been five months since she moved to Australia," said Whit. "It's been so weird not having her around."
Ted made an obvious noise of agreement.
"At least you still get to see her all the time," Whit mumbled.
"I've gotten to see her maybe once a month since she's left," said Ted, stretching his legs out on the floor in front of him. "I wouldn't exactly say that's 'all the time.'"
"But still," Whit continued, as if she was making some sort of point. "She's my best friend, and yet even Durrin's seen her more recently than I have."
"I have?" Durrin asked, taking a random, box-free spot on the floor next to Ted. "When was the last time I saw her?"
"When we went to Italy for that antidote conference back in November," Ted said. "Remember, we went out a few days early and she met us there?"
"Oh, right…" He quickly laughed and looked back at Whit. "If it makes you feel any better, I don't think I saw Victoire for more than three seconds while she was there." He glanced at Ted. "And I don't think I saw you until after she left."
Ted smirked. "We were very busy."
"Yeah," Durrin muttered. "If you remember, I had the room next door." He glanced back at Whit before he started rapping his fist against the nearest wall. "This is all I heard for two days straight."
"Give them a break," said Whit. "They were celebrating."
"Because they go and get engaged, I get to lose sleep?"
"Yeah, sorry 'bout that," Ted said, not sounding sorry at all.
"This is why I need to talk to Victoire," Whit said matter-of-factly. "I haven't even heard the full story of how you proposed. I just got some half-arsed explanation from you that left out all of the good stuff."
"What did I leave out?" Ted asked. He certainly hadn't thought his explanation was half-arsed.
"All you said was that you took her for a walk and did it," Whit mumbled. "She said yes, and that was it. Now, I know Victoire, so I know for a fact she didn't just say 'yes' and 'that was it.'"
"That sounds like enough of an explanation to me," Durrin muttered, looking back at Ted. "What else do you want, a second by second playback of their facial expressions?"
"Yeah, seriously." Ted agreed.
Whit rolled her eyes. "This is why Victoire needs to be back."
Ted laughed a little before he sniffled and felt his nose growing stuffier once again. This had to stop. He could not be getting sick the day Victoire was coming home. After spending the last five months seeing her for just days at a time—whether it be because she came home, he went to Australia, or they somehow met somewhere in the middle—today things could finally go back to the way they had been before she had moved away in the first place. He could go back to waking up next to her and seeing her in the morning before she'd gotten ready, falling asleep beside her and listening to her snoring, talking about random occurrences in their days, being sick, being mad, being angry, being happy…being normal. He missed the normal.
Granted, now they would be experiencing it all in an entirely different country where he barely knew anyone, but there was something enticing about the mystery in that. Not to mention that it was only for two years—the length of Victoire's job contract—so even if he ended up disliking everything about life down there, they'd be back in England before he really knew what had hit him. But he really wasn't worried about all of that, anyway. Victoire talked non-stop about how amazing it was in Australia and claimed constantly of how much he would love it too. He'd make it work.
This entire move was something he'd thought impossibly long and hard about; especially considering that his life was here in England. His family and friends were here, his research and career was here, everything was here…well, everything except the person he cared most about in the world. She had been given a career changing opportunity to move to Australia to help some massive excavation site in the Outback with their rune discoveries. It was an opportunity that Victoire couldn't afford not to do, and also one that would have split them up for years at a time if she did go.
For weeks, her staying or going had been decision that had kept them both up for nights at a time, but when she had finally had made her choice to do it, she had done something rather unexpected—she had actually asked Ted to come with her.
What had gone from her making a huge decision for the two of them had suddenly flipped onto him making one; one that he'd toiled over for an additional two weeks obsessively as he weighed the pros and cons of what this move would—or could—entail.
His career had been his first concern. He'd come a long way over the years with his research, both on hospital mandated projects and his own personal projects. He'd been through three massive breakthroughs with gene mutation, and not only random viral samples, but also on the lycanthropy in werewolves. While he still hadn't fully established himself well enough to work solely on his own werewolf initiated projects like he would have liked to, he—along with Magda—were generally making a name for themselves around the Healing community with breakthrough after breakthrough. Things were happening…
But even with all of that taken into account, Ted had realized fairly quickly that it wasn't his job that was hindering his decision to move. After all, most of his research was easy enough to take with him and continue doing elsewhere. Plus, as long as he made frequent trips back to England, very little was holding him back. If anything, getting away from Mungo's was probably a good thing. To a lot of the people there, like Hazel and Nate—both of whom were still there, though now even Nate had been promoted to a senior researcher—Ted would always be the young, wide-eyed kid who had started there straight out of school. Whether they meant to or not, they would always treat him that way. Getting away from Mungo's meant new people; people who would take him seriously from the start. That alone a very appealing…
On that thought, he'd even gone so far as to inquire where he could transfer to in Australia if he did decide to make the move. He'd garnered a fairly decent response from not only a wizard hospital that was interested, but also a Research Center dedicated solely to antidote enrichment—something they didn't have here in England. Both of these were great opportunity, and it was this news, after some initial hesitations, that had made most of his friends and family jump on board with his move. His grandmother especially, once she knew that he could continue with his work as he was, had been far more supportive with the idea after hearing this. Some people, like Durrin, even went so far as to call him a moron if he didn't jump on the Research Center job as fast as he could get it.
No, it hadn't been any of those factors—his job, friends, or family—that had deterred his decision in moving at first. What had made him question the move was how the idea of it all had made him think about other things—much more permanent life changing things. It made him realize that if he was so willing to pick up everything and move halfway around the world for this girl—if it really was that easy for him to want to do it—then maybe it was time he made another very important decision for his life. Maybe he needed to face his future and who he wanted in it.
And that had been when he decided he'd propose to Victoire. It was that simple. If she said yes, he'd move. If she said no, he'd stay. If he was going to pick up his life and make such a huge commitment to her, then it was probably only fair to make sure she was on the same page as he was. Not that he ever doubted she was, but it would be nice to make it somewhat official. It would be nice to know…
That alone had been the only good thing about having Victoire away those first few months, seeing as it made planning a proposal fairly easy when he didn't have to worry about her accidently stumbling across his plans. He had talked to Harry, Ginny, and his grandmother about it first; their reactions ranging from Harry's, "As long as it's what you want to do," to Ginny and his grandmother's, "It's about damn time."
He'd gone and told Whit next because he'd wanted her help, though he made her swear to secrecy that she wouldn't utter a single word to Victoire. He'd been a little worried about that one, but thankfully Whit had come through brilliantly; even going so far as to feign complete surprise in her congratulatory letter to Victoire when she did "find out." He'd told Durrin third, who had easily become his closest friend since Simon's move across the pond to Boston with Susan and their children—four and a half-year old Sebastian and two-year-old Madeline—but that wasn't to say Simon didn't get an owl as soon as Ted could write one. Both he and Durrin's responses had been identical in that they claimed dibs on being best man when Victoire did say yes, but Ted had to worry about her actually saying yes before he worried about details like that…even if he seemed to be the only one who even doubted her answer.
"And she will say yes…" Simon had written in response to Ted's plans. "If that is what's factoring into whether or not you're moving to Australia, then you better start packing your bags. Also, expect my entire family out for a visit. I've never been to down there and I could use the holiday…and I suppose seeing you would be nice too. It's been so damn long I don't think Madeline even knows what her godfather even looks like these day. Lucky her."
Of course, there was one final mission he had to accomplish before he could actually propose to Victoire, and that was to confront Bill and Fleur Weasley about his intentions. He'd actually grown exceptionally close to both of Victoire's parents over the years, so it wasn't entirely surprising to see Fleur start to cry happy tears once he'd told her. Bill Weasley hadn't cried, but there was an emotion in his eyes that Ted had certainly never seen there before. It was something that was happy and sad all at the same time, though his first comment afterwards was to welcome Ted to the family…before throwing him a smile and adding, "If Victoire says yes."
No one else seemed to question that Victoire would say yes, but that hadn't made Ted feel any less anxious when the moment actually came. Week's worth of planning had come to an end when she met him in Italy several days before a Healing and Antidote conference was set to begin. It had been over a month since they'd last scene each other; a much needed holiday for them both. Even with as lovely and peaceful as everything seemed, Ted knew that if he didn't get his proposal out of the way that first day, he'd spend the next couple of days in an anxious stupor; continuously wondering when he should do it and what she would say when he actually did.
So, he had made her take a walk with him. Neither of them had even been to Rome before, so he suggested a random trip sightseeing. They'd spent the day out and about, and Ted almost felt like they'd walked the city fourteen times before he finally plucked up the courage to just do it.
They had just been standing on a random street corner with the sun setting between the buildings and spilling romantic patches of sunlight onto the sidewalk and roads around them. There was literally nothing of note to look at—no particularly interesting scenery unless you counted and elderly couple sitting on a nearby bench arguing with each other—but it had been then that Ted knew he had to do it or else his heart was literally going to beat itself out of his chest.
"What time did you want to go back?" Victoire had asked as she found herself several steps in front of him. She hadn't seemed to notice he had slowed his pace to a crawl.
"Whenever," mumbled Ted, his mind entirely preoccupied as he wiped his hand on his trousers. Why were his palms so damn sweaty?
"It's just," she turned around to look at him, "it's getting dark and I don't want to get lost."
She smiled at him—her perfect, amazing, wonderful smile that he never got tired of seeing. "Something wrong?"
He shook his head.
"Why are you lagging behind all of a sudden?"
"Am I?" he asked, looking around at the random buildings and the nearby elderly couple. The woman was yelling something in rapid Italian that sounded rather threatening.
Victoire laughed and walked back to where he was. "Come on, you looked exhausted. Let's go back and relax for bit." She smiled. "Now that we've seen Rome, I say you and I just lock ourselves away for the next couple of days and only come out if there's a fire or a natural disaster."
He smiled more out of habit than anything. "That sounds good."
"Excellent." She reached down and took his in hers, pulling it with her as she walked forward. However, she stopped when Ted let his hand lag. He hadn't moved with her.
"Can I ask you something first?"
Victoire looked at him. Her face was blank, but on the verge of reaching full blown curiosity.
"Ok, I'm just going to do this," he said, rubbing his face quickly and reaching into his pocket.
He didn't say a word, but just pulled out the box from his pocket. Even though Victoire could see what he was doing, she still looked confused. It was as if the realization hadn't hit her yet.
"What are you…?" she began, just as he opened the box towards her.
As soon as he did it, he realized he was doing something wrong. "Oh, wait, I forgot. I'm supposed to—" He went down on one knee. With a nervous smile he held up the ring box, looked back up at her, and said the first thing that came into his head. "Hi."
Her eyes had gone wide. "Are you serious?" she asked, though a small laugh of nervous disbelief had escaped her. She looked away for a second before looking back at him. "You're serious?"
He nodded. "Completely."
"Oh, Merlin's beard…" she said, the pitch of her voice much higher than normal. "This is happening…"
He smiled. "Will you?"
She laughed a little, her eyes now looking teary. "Will I what?"
Ted laughed too before he let his face grow calm. "You just want me to say it."
"You're damn right I do." She laughed and sniffled at the same time.
With a sudden calming feeling flooding through him, he continued to smile. "Will you marry me?"
Victoire bit her lip and looked away, though quickly looked back. "As if you had to ask." She immediately leaned down to meet him where he knelt and pressed her lips against his, wrapping her arms around his neck as she did.
He stood himself back up without breaking the connection between them and pulled her closer. Once he was back upright, they had stood there for a good five minutes after the fact relishing in the brilliance of the moment. Just like that, he had already planned the next two years of his life out. He was moving to Australia to be with a girl he was totally mad about and the person he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. It was only fitting given how much of their lives had been joined at the hip. There wasn't one part of Ted's life that he could look back on and not picture Victoire in some way, shape, or form. Even when they weren't speaking to each other, in the back of his mind, she was always there. She was in his memories, she was in his thoughts, and now she was in his future.
And that had been all it took. Ted had come home and officially put in a request to transfer; he'd told everyone he knew he was moving, not to mention getting married; he had started packing his stuff…or rather, he'd thrown some things into boxes until Lily agreed to do the grunt of the work for a ten Galleons, but still…it had all started happening. Soon enough, it would all be over with.
"You know, Lupin," Durrin said, interrupting Ted's thoughts and returning him to his living room. "You've got more shit than I thought." He pointed around the living room. "Is all of this just your or is some of it Victoire's?"
"Most of the furniture is ours together," Ted said, nodding towards the sofa, "but she already took most of her personal stuff when she moved. All of her clothes and stuff are gone, so most of the stuff we're moving is my stuff and the furniture."
"Where's she been staying if you're here with all the stuff?" Durrin asked.
"She moved in with this German woman who's pretty much her mentor," Ted said. "She's the one who really taught her the ropes of rune translation after she got out of school, and she's the one who put Vic's name out for the job in Australia in the first place. She's done a lot for her career."
"Have you even seen the place you two are moving into?" Whit asked.
Ted shook his head. "Vic says it's nice and that I'll like it. All I know is that it's somewhere in Perth and that she's excited about it." He shrugged. "I'm sure it'll be great. It's apparently not even that far from the research lab I'm transferring to."
"I still can't believe you're getting out of the hospital and going to work at a place that just specializes in antidote research," Durrin muttered. "You bloody prat. You have no idea how jealous I am that you won't have to work with patients all the time anymore."
Ted smiled meekly. "Yeah, well, I'm fairly convinced that it was so easy for me to get the transfer because of the perks that come with having a Metamorphmagus around in a research setting. Hell, Mungo's didn't want to let me go because of it. I had to promise them I'd make trips back."
"Mungo's was fighting to keep you for more reasons than you being a Metamorphmagus," Durrin said. "When you go and make another breakthrough towards curing werewolfism, they want to be hospital you do it at. Not some random center in Perth."
"Yeah, they just want the credit," Ted joked, just as the doorknob from the front door jingled as if it was being turned. With a quick check of his watch, he smiled and pulled himself up off the ground. 7:03. Right on time.
The door opened right as he stood, and through it Victoire appeared lugging a small trunk behind her. She had her strawberry blonde hair up in a ponytail and looked tanner than the last time Ted had seen her since she'd obviously been spending much more of her time outside on excavation sites. She didn't seem to realize that everyone in the room was watching her as she came through the door, but as she stepped into the living room and panned from person to person, the sudden admission of surprise was evident.
"I hadn't expected a welcoming committee," she said with a quick smile as she dropped her bag onto the ground. "Hi, everybody."
"Vic!" Whit said, wasting no time in rushing over to hug her. "It's been ages!"
"I know, I know," Victoire said wearily, hugging her tightly. "I really do mean to come home more often, I swear, I do." She stepped back. "You look great."
"You too," Whit said. "Do you know how much catching up have to do?"
Victoire smiled. "Entirely too much. One of these days before I have to go back will just be dedicated to you and me doing just that. I promise." She turned and smiled at Ted before glancing down at where Durrin was still sitting on the floor right by her feet. She reached out and tapped his knee with her shoe, as if to say hello. "Nice to see you too, Durr. No need to get up."
He smiled and opened his arms to offer a hug.
"You stand up and I'll hug you," she smirked, taking a wide step over him to walk straight over to where Ted stood. "Hey you." She slinked her arms around him. "Just the man I wanted to see."
He smiled and kissed her. "Hi."
She glanced around the empty looking room, seemingly awestruck by the sight she saw. "I can't believe you packed this much. I thought I'd be walking into the same thing I left and I'd have to spend the next week packing."
"I told you I'd take care of it," he said, reaching out to rub her back affectionately.
She turned back to stare at his face, as if inspecting it. "James, Al, or Lily? My guess is Lily since everything is neatly labeled."
Ted threw her a look that asked to give him some credit. "You know, I can pack and label stuff…"
She continued to stare at him, a smile slowly growing the longer she did.
"Fine," he muttered. "Lily."
"I hope you paid her," Victoire said with a small laugh, still surveying the room and all of the boxes. "She does good work—"
Durrin suddenly cleared his throat. His arms were still outstretched as if he was expecting a hug.
Victoire looked at him. "You're not going to quit unless I give you a hug, are you?"
She reached down and hugged him, laughing and mumbling something about him being a weirdo as she did it.
"So, how's life in Australia?" Durrin asked once she let go and stood back up straight again. "You miss us?"
"You know I miss you, Durrin," she joked in a playful tone before her voice returned to normal. "And things are great. Exhausting at times, but really great." She looked back at Ted. "About to get better, of course."
"I heard you went to France," Whit said. "How's your brother doing?"
"He's doing…" she seemed to be choosing her words carefully, "better. He's doing better." She bit her lip. "He looked world's better than the last time I visited, which was when he had that horrendous facial hair thing growing out of his face. Actually, Nicki stopped by the other night while I was there, and she told me she had been the one who had held him down and made him shave it off."
"Nicki was there?" Ted asked before he walked over to clear some space on the couch for the both of them to sit.
She nodded. "Just for a day. We all went to dinner. I guess she's in France a lot now since she works under the British liaison to France for the Department Magical Gamesand Sports. From what she tells me, she pops in on Louis from time to time to check up on him." She smiled sarcastically. "Which he of course loves."
"Okay," Durrin said, sounding confused. "What exactly happened to your brother, again? Ted mentioned something about a girl dying, but that's all I got."
Victoire took the seat next to Ted. "It's a long story."
"How are you going to let me bring up a girl dying and then not fill me in on the details?" Durrin asked.
"I've already told you this entire story," Ted said.
"Yeah, months ago after it happened. We were at the Leaky Cauldron and—"
"Was I drinking?"
"Durrin, is it possible for you to set foot in a pub and not drink?" Whit asked.
"Which explains why I don't remember," he said obviously as he pointed from Whit to Victoire.
Victoire sighed and glanced at Ted, though he just shrugged. "Fine. To make a long story short because I'm not telling the whole damn thing again, Louis's girlfriend died about six months ago. They'd been together since he ran off to France years ago and he was naturally very upset about it."
"That's right…" Durrin said, nodding slowly. "I have heard this. Some sort of muggle accident, right?"
"She got hit by a Muggle car," Victoire said, shaking her head and looking back at Ted. "That's honestly one of my biggest fears in the world. I cannot even tell you how nervous I get to cross Muggle streets, but now…" She shivered. "Anyway, Juliette was walking and not paying attention, got hit by a car, of course she was surrounded by Muggles who treated her with their medicines, and she just didn't pull through. She died at the scene. It was horrifying."
"And this was the same girl that you didn't like?" Durrin asked.
Victoire hesitated answering right away, looking as though she was trying her best not to say something negative. Ted knew the truth was that she hadn't liked Juliette much at all, but she seemed to feel terribly guilty admitting that these days, considering all that had happened.
"I liked her as a person," Victoire said slowly. "I just wasn't fond of her and Louis together. That being said, I didn't want her to get hit by a car. I wouldn't have wished what happened to her on anyone. " She signed and looked back at Whit. "But anyway, Lou's doing a lot better. He was laughing and more like his old self this time."
"Good," Whit said. "I was worried about him for a bit there."
"But listen to this," Victoire said, turning back to Ted very quickly, "I do find it all very coincidental that…" She stopped, flipping her train of thought immediately. "Guess who also stopped by while I was in France?"
"Really…?" said Ted and Whit together, both sounding equally as surprised to hear that. After Louis and Sarah's three year relationship had ended—much to both of his sister's horror considering they adored Sarah—everyone had assumed the two had gone their separate ways. Even though no one ever got the impression that it was a particularly bad breakup, Sarah was one of the last people Ted would have expected to suddenly be back.
"Yeah," Victoire said, glancing from Ted to Whit. "I guess she and Louis have been in contact for a few months now."
"I had no idea they still talked to each other," said Whit.
"Well, they did stop after they split up and he went to France," Victoire continued, "but according to Sarah that was mostly because he moved and because they went on to focus on their own lives, not because they had any ill will towards each other. Anyway, I hadn't seen her in ages when she turned up—and she looks fantastic, by the way—but we got to talking. I guess she'd heard about everything that happened to Lou from Nicki after it all happened, and she'd decided to write him just to say she was there for him if he needed a friend. The next thing you know, he's writing her back and they're keeping in touch. This had been going on for months, but she could only just now get the time to actually come visit. So, the night she came, she, Louis, and I spent the night talking and laughing. I went to bed at like midnight, only to wake up the next morning and see the two of them still sitting in the exact same spot, still talking." She laughed a little. "It was like déjà vu of years past ago all over again. It was as if nothing had ever changed."
"Do you think...?" Whit began, hinting at the obvious question in the room. "I mean, I know Louis's still…but with their history, would it really be surprising if—"
Victoire shrugged. "I'd be lying if I didn't ask the same thing. I mean, what I saw…I wouldn't be surprised if maybe one day, when Louis's made peace with everything, they could…if they wanted to…again." She stopped. "It's too soon though to speculate. I even hinted at it to Sarah, and while she didn't deny a possibility, she also said she just wants to be there for him as a friend right now." She shrugged. "Strangers situations have brought people back together."
"You just want Louis and Sarah back together," Ted said, laughing a little. "I think you were more upset than Louis was when they broke up."
"No, Nicki was most upset," Victoire said, "which is funny, considering how mad she was when they got together. She was ten times as angry when they split up. She'll throw a party if they get back together."
Ted smiled, just as Durrin cleared his throat and started to pull himself off the floor. "Well, I—" he looked at Whit, "that is to say, we, should probably leave you two alone considering you haven't seen each other in age and probably want to…whatever."
Whit nodded and looked at Victoire. "If you don't fit me in on one of these days before you go back, I will hurt you."
Victoire shook her head and laughed. "I promise. What about tomorrow?"
"We've got a going away party at Harry and Ginny's tomorrow," Ted quipped.
She turned to stare at him. "Already? We don't leave for a week…" she mumbled before looking back at Whit. "We'll work something out."
"We always do," Whit said, walking over to the sofa where Victoire sat to stand behind her, lean over, wrap her arms around her shoulder for a quick hug. "I'm glad you're back. Even if it is just for a couple of days."
Victoire smiled up at her as Whit let go and made her way towards the door. Durrin followed after, and Ted could just make out Durrin saying, "Hey, there's a Tornadoes match starting in a half an hour. Let's go."
"You know I hate Quidditch," Whit muttered before she pulled the door open and turned to wave back at Ted and Victoire. "See you two later."
Durrin stopped and turned back and waved as well, all before grabbing at the door Whit was still holding open. "There's nothing to hate about Quidditch. I've told you countless times if you would just let me explain the game…"
"And I've told you that it has nothing to do with not understanding the game. It's just stupid—"
The door slammed shut behind them, their voices disappearing onto its other side.
Victoire glanced back at Ted, already shaking her head.
"When will they realize…?"
Ted laughed, already well aware of where she was going with this. "You need to stop trying to make that," he pointed towards the door, where Whit and Durrin had disappeared through, "happen. You've been trying for four years. It's not going to happen."
"It's already happened…"
"A few nights of hooking up two years ago does not count as 'happening'," said Ted. "Especially since nothing has happened since."
"You know, I have a secret feeling they've had a night or two since, but Whit just won't tell me because she knows how excited I get and I start clamoring on about how I think they need to be together."
"Even if Whit wouldn't tell you," Ted said, laying his head back against the couch as he started absently playing with her ponytail, "Durrin would tell me. He hasn't, which means it hasn't happened."
"Look, all I'm saying is never say never," she said, adjusting herself so that she could now lean comfortably into him. "People used to say that about us."
Ted shook his head and smiled at her, realizing that there was no swaying her one way or the other once she got her mind set on something. One thing he never had to worry about was Australia changing that part of her.
"I know that face," said Victoire, reaching out to poke him in the stomach. "But you wait, I bet while we're in the Australia something will happen between them. We're both leaving now, so they'll only have each other to…" She nodded resolutely. "You wait. I'll be right. I can sense these things."
"If you say so," Ted said, pulling her closer to wrap his arms around her.
"And you'll be hearing a lot of 'I told you so' once they're married and our kids our playing with theirs…"
"Okay, now you just sound mental," Ted laughed as he pulled her down onto the sofa on top of him. "I think you've been spending too much time out in the sun."
"Oh, how funny you are," Victoire said sarcastically, letting her face hover right above his. "I almost tend to forget while I'm away how much I miss you being a smartarse…"
"You know you've missed it," he said, picking his head up to meet his lips with hers. After a long, drawn out moment, he let his head thump back down onto the sofa.
"Well, I don't have to miss it any longer, do I?" Victoire asked, a wide smile appearing across her face.
Ted met her smile before he reached up and began playing with her ponytail again. "No, now you're just stuck with it for the rest of time. Which, speaking of being stuck with each other, have you given any thought to when you want to…"
"Have the wedding?" she asked, finishing for him.
"Well, you had mentioned you didn't want to do it until after we were back from Australia so that way could be home and settled and do it properly. I just wondered if that was still the time line we were aiming for."
Victoire shrugged. "Yeah, that's what I thought…" She trailed off. "Don't get me wrong, I do want it to happen here at home, but….two years…I don't know."
"What don't you know?"
"Just," she began, "I mean, my mum's already got so many things in the works, things that sound amazing and incredible and she's working so hard, but…" She sighed again. "Two years is a long time to wait."
Ted nodded a little. "Yeah, but if we're spending the rest of our lives together, who cares how long it takes?"
"I know. It's just…" She smiled a little. "Sure, it makes sense to wait and have it turn out exactly as I've always imagined, but at the same time, a part of me is just thinking, 'Sod it all. Sod all the work and the planning and let's just do something quick and just make it official.'"
Ted laughed. "Hey, I'm all for that, but," he shrugged, "your mum and dad— no, your entire extended family, would kill you. The whole lot of them are all really excited about," he gestured between them, "this. You should hear your aunts and uncles talk about how 'wonderful it'll be' and 'how excited' they are to see us finally get married." He sighed heavily. "You've missed all that chatter while you've been away."
"I know…" she said. "It's just rotten that we have to wait because of being halfway across the world. Like I said, I know it makes sense to wait, but…"
Ted reached his head up kissed her again. "If it's any conciliation, I would marry you right now if we could."
She quickly looked him in the eyes and immediately grinned a little. "Would you?"
He nodded. "You know damn well I couldn't care less about the party. I'm just want to make it official." He smiled. "I just want to marry you."
Victoire pulled herself off of him to sit up straight on the sofa. She stared back down at him with a strange curiosity in her eyes; the kind that seemed like she was contemplating something. "Then let's do it."
Ted furrowed his brow.
"We'll probably have to wait until morning, but…" She shrugged. "Let's just do it."
"Let's get married before we leave."
Ted gawked. "What?"
She smiled and nodded.
"But your whole family is…" He gawked again. "They'd…but you've always wanted…" He sat up. "Your mum will kill us. She's entirely too excited."
"She can still have the party when we get back."
"Why would she if we're already married?"
Victoire looked away for a second before glancing back at him. "Do we have to tell them?"
Ted's eyes practically bugged out of his head.
"It was just a thought," she said, laughing at his expression. "I was just thinking about how neither of us wants to wait, but at the same time, no one has to know we did it. We could just not say anything, so when we get back, everyone still gets a wedding and a party."
"Okay, now I know you've been spending too much time in the sun…"
"We don't have to keep it a secret," Victoire said, laughing again. "Though, secret keeping is something we've always done well." She turned her body to face him dead on. "Look, if we did do this, we can just as easily tell everyone before we leave. I just know my mum and dad will be crushed if they don't see me in the white dress with the whole to-do."
"So, why not just wait and give that to them?"
"Because I'm the one getting married, not them," she said. "And…" she looked him in the eyes. "If you're willing, then I don't want to wait."
Ted stared at her, wondering just how serious she was being. This was the same girl who'd spent her entire life imaging the details of her wedding and now she was just so willingly ready to throw it all away? What on earth had she been doing Down Under?
"I just think," Ted began, "that if you do it this way, you'll regret it. You've always said how much you've wanted a proper wedding and…"
"Are you saying you want to wait?" she asked.
"I'm saying I want you to think about how you want to do this."
Victoire nodded thoughtfully and stared down at her hands. "So, you're only concern is how I might handle this. You're perfectly willing to get married right now if I were able to convince you that this is what I wanted to do?"
Ted took a deep breath and looked around his boxed up flat—a world of history surrounding him and now packed away. He didn't know what to say to that. If he told her the truth, that yes, he'd go find someone tonight if it were possible to marry them. However, if she knew that, she may very easily just go along with this mad whim she'd suddenly cooked up. Where had this come from? She wanted a real wedding, he knew she did. She'd regret it if she didn't get it; he knew that much too…
He looked back at her.
She was smiling at him. "What do you think?"
"I don't even know…" he said, laughing almost doubtfully.
It almost seemed as if this was completely his decision. Did he do what he knew he should and tell Victoire they should wait in order to give her what he knew she ultimately wanted. Or did he do what he wanted—get married in the way he'd always wanted—and risk that in a year's time, Victoire would regret the hastiness of it all?
"You have to know something," Victoire said earnestly, taking his hand into hers. "What are you thinking? What's the first thought on your mind?"
"I just want to marry you," he said, saying literally the first thing that came to him.
"Then let's go do it now and screw the waiting," Victoire said, smiling quickly. "Come on." She squeezed his hand. "I dare you."
"You daring me to do something has never really boded well for us in the past," Ted laughed, still wondering whether or not what was transpiring was actually happening.
"Well," said Victoire, standing from the sofa. "I think it's time we change that."
First of all, I hoped you enjoyed the story. I enjoyed writing it, I enjoyed sharing it, I just hope you all enjoyed the trip. :) Second, THANK YOU ALL FOR FOLLOWING THIS STORY/SERIES. THANK YOU FOR THE REVIEWS. THANK YOU FOR THE FEEDBACK. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU! There are so many of you I've met through this thing, and so many great conversations I've had because of it. I appreciate it all. I really do. :)
This thing has been quite the staple in my life for almost two years, and while I'm sad to see it go for MANY reasons, I'm also happy to have it done. It was quite the project, and it's always nice to finish something that you've put so much work into.
While this is the end of my T/V series, it isn't the end of my stories. I'm taking a little break before I pick things up again, but there will be new stuff. If you're interested in knowing what (and potentially when) you can expect from me in the future, there's an entry at my fic journal titled "HTaE Author's Note" that talks about some of the ideas and stories I'm thinking about. It's a public entry, so you can read it without friending me or joining livejournal. :)
So, once again, thanks to all of you who have followed this. Especially those of you who have been dedicated reviewers and/or have been there since day one. :)