Victoire Weasley and the Family Vacation Fiasco
The summer after Victoire Weasley's seventh year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the annual Weasley-Potter-Lupin weeklong family vacation occurred just as usual. In fact, Victoire felt a definite sense of anti-climax. She'd graduated, she was officially an adult… And everything was just so exactly the same. At any rate, it started out that way.
She and her parents, her sister Dominique and her brother Louis met her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins at the camping site the first week in August, before her siblings and seven of her cousins went back to school. Grandpa Arthur dug into putting up the tents with his usual enthusiasm, ably assisted by Fred, a resourceful volunteer, and Dominique, unwillingly enlisted by Mother. Uncle Ron also pitched in good-naturedly, and once Aunt Hermione had explained about matches and tent-hooks for what felt like the thousandth time, progress was fairly rapid.
Meanwhile, Aunts Audrey and Ginny, Uncle Harry, and Lucy helped Grandma Molly get together everything they would need for dinner that first night. Mother and Aunt Luna were looking after the younger cousins.
At last, Victoire was free to snatch a moment—or half an hour—with her boyfriend.
"Hey, you," she murmured, and they kissed hello. He sat down on a convenient horizontal tree branch and drew her onto his lap.
Teddy Remus Lupin was nineteen years old. He was a Metamorphagus, but his preferred, habitual appearance included warm Weasley brown eyes like Victoire's, classic Black bone structure like Grandromeda, and turquoise hair that reminded Victoire of the ocean made soft and fine and lovely to run one's fingers through.
Teddy wasn't Victoire's first boyfriend, but he was the only one she could imagine spending her life with. He was smart, kind, sweet, and adorably mischievous. He could make even the most boring week with the family worth enduring—not that Victoire's cousins were the sort to allow boredom free rein. Still, there was no getting around it: Teddy was fascinating.
"How are you?" Victoire asked now, stroking his bright hair.
"Great, now that I'm with you," Teddy said smugly. Then his expression clouded. "Listen, Vic, I've got this problem—"
"Victoire! Victoire! Dominique stole Lily's diary!" cried Hugo, running up to them. "And Roxane claims she's figured out how to get on some kind of 'Inner Net'!"
"Duty calls," Victoire sighed, reluctantly climbing off Teddy's lap.
He pulled her hands gently back toward him. "Vic, you're not Head Girl anymore…" he wheedled. "Let James take care of it—he's our latest Savior, right? I don't know when he got so responsible. You know you want to stay with me…"
"Yeah, except you keep calling me Vic," Victoire said drily. "And anyway, Hugo wouldn't have called for me unless it was important, right, Hugo?"
Hugo grinned. "Right, Victoire. And if we don't hurry, Dominique and Lily might get into a duel or something, so…"
"Say no more," Victoire sighed. She cast one last longing glance at Teddy (they hadn't gotten their half an hour) and followed Hugo back toward the tents, thinking how incredibly annoying Dominique was sometimes. Honestly, she was sixteen—surely too mature to go around reading diaries of a ten-year-old. If only James had kept a better eye on her. He and Fred (and Molly, Victoire assumed) were the only cousins she'd pay attention to, because they were all three on the Quidditch Team with her.
"'Oh, I'm the daughter of famous Harry Potter, and I have two awesome older brothers—it's so hard being me!'" Dominique said dramatically, flinging one hand across her brow in pretend anguish. Victoire saw she had an open notebook in her hand, and sighed. "Honestly, Lily, do you have to be such a drama queen?" Dominique asked in her own voice—calling the kettle black, in Victoire's opinion.
"Give it back," said Lily quietly.
Dominique laughed cruelly. "Make me, small stuff," she jeered. Victoire saw Molly hanging around behind Dominique, smirking, but shifting uncomfortably from foot to foot. Of course, Victoire thought, Molly would be there—she was Dominique's best and most faithful sidekick.
"Dom-in-ique!" called Victoire, making her sister's name into a singsong. She put her hands on her hips and glared, ready to draw her wand if necessary. You never knew with Dominique.
"Should I get Aunt Fleur?" asked Hugo worriedly. "Or maybe Uncle Harry…"
Victoire shook her head, but before she could speak, James and Fred strolled forward, deceptively casual. They were Dominique's closest contemporaries among the group of cousins, both because of the Quidditch team and because they were all three within four months of one another's age.
"The grown-ups are doing their fancy conversation thing," piped up Lucy unconcernedly.
"Hey, Dominique," said James lightly, with a hint of steel underlying his tone. "If you don't stop messing with my kid sister, you're going to regret it."
"Why?" challenged Dominique, still clutching Lily's diary. Lily's hands were balled into fists, and Victoire noticed uneasily that her knuckles were white. Nearby, twins Lorcan and Lysander frowned, looking up from a complex set of diagrams they were drawing on the ground.
"Because if you don't, I'll tell the Slytherin Quidditch team all our best moves," threatened James, still casual.
Victoire cringed. Telling the Slytherins team secrets seemed sacrilegious, and it was a full minute before she remembered that she'd graduated, so all that could have no immediate relevance for her. She had been within an inch of telling James she'd take twenty points from Gryffindor if he dared do any such thing.
"And I'll deduct points from my own House," added Fred softly. As a prefect, he took his duties very seriously. Sometimes Victoire thought Uncle George might be a little disappointed—but he never said anything, and anyway, Fred acted a lot more like James around his father.
Dominique turned pale at her peers' threats, but any suggestion that they might be working was swiftly banished. "Then I'll kick you off the Quidditch team," she said smugly. She had just received the letter making her Captain.
Molly raised her hand. "Uh, Dominique, if you kick James and Fred off the Quidditch team, who will we get? You know, who doesn't suck?"
Dominique opened her mouth, thought for a moment, and then shut it. She flipped through Lily's diary absentmindedly. Lily glowered and seemed to shrink in on herself. Hugo frowned worriedly, and Victoire tore her eyes away from Lily (who was rather complex for a ten-year-old) and spoke to her sister.
"Dominique, give that back right now," Victoire said as forcefully as she could. "I know you don't want to hurt Lily's feelings—" she did not, of course, know any such thing—"and you're really not being very considerate."
"Whatever," said Dominique, rolling her eyes.
Victoire took a deep breath. "Or, I'll just tell Dad you're picking on the younger ones again," she said in her best I'm-the-Big-Sister-Listen-to-Me voice.
Dominique scowled. "It was just a laugh," she muttered, and handed the diary back to Lily like a civilized witch. Victoire nodded approval.
"Hey, you," someone whispered in her ear, from just behind her. She jumped, and turned around to see—
"Teddy," said Lily gravely. She walked over and tugged at Teddy's sleeve. "You and I need to have a talk about protection spells for personal belongings," she whispered.
"Okay, sure," said Teddy. He put his arms around Victoire, pulling her toward him. "Can I steal you away yet?" he murmured against her pale pink hair. That pink hair was a real puzzle for Victoire—Dominique's was fiery red, and Louis's icy blonde, but hers—her hair was pink. Naturally pink. She'd used to think it was a blemish, but Teddy liked it.
"Victoire, you said you'd look at Roxy's Inner Net!" protested Hugo. Victoire supposed wryly that he had seen her waver. But, the oldest Weasley girl would go once more into the breach.
"Okay, let's see it," she sighed. She blew Teddy a kiss as she followed Hugo toward the girls' tent. Each set of parents had their own tent, and the cousins were separated into girls and boys.
The tent was wide and spacious, and rather messy. Dominique's makeup, Lily's colored pencils, Lucy's Exploding Snap pack, and Rose's neat and towering pile of books littered the floor. However, Victoire's eyes were immediately drawn to the little group crowded on Roxane's bed.
"Hey, Rose, I brought Victoire," cried Hugo excitedly. He beamed at his older sister hopefully.
Albus looked around. "Vic, you have to see this," he enthused.
"Yes," agreed Rose, twisting around from where she'd been hidden by some sort of large, thin screen. It reminded Victoire of a small blue blackboard. "You really ought to see this, Victoire. As usual, Roxy has used her superior intellect to combine our natural magical power with the ingenious technological equipment invented by Muggles."
"Yeah," agreed Albus, "And it works, too!"
Roxane turned around, bringing the blue screen thing. Victoire saw now that it also had a perpendicular beige thing attached, with the letters of the alphabet scrawled across it in some strange order.
"Okay," Victoire said, crossing her arms. "Why don't you explain it?"
Roxane sat very straight on her camp bed, the strange contraption on her lap. Her dark eyes burned with the fervor of a new successful invention (it was a look Victoire had seen before). Her Weasley red hair stood out in sharp contrast to her dusky brown skin. On either side of her, Rose and Albus sat Indian style, wearing identical grins of vicarious triumph. Hugo sank to the floor by Rose, eagerly watching.
"This," said Roxane, "is a computer."
Victoire frowned. "So, it what, computes stuff?" she asked. "Like sums?" If so, it would probably prove useful—Arithmancy could get rather complicated, and several cousins had elected to try it…
Roxane shook her head. "No—well, yes—but that's only one of its many functions," she explained. "You see, using this I can access the Muggle Internet—"
"Not Inner Net?" asked Hugo anxiously.
"No, Internet," said Roxane patiently. "And I can write things down in a centralized handwriting legible to anyone, and I think, if we can get our hands on a few more Muggle computers, I can modify them, just like this one, which incidentally is called a laptop—" Victoire shook her head in amazement. Roxane was such a Muggle Studies buff. She'd convinced Grandpa Arthur to buy her one of these Muggle contraptions for Christmas the previous year, and ever since she'd fiddled with it whenever she could. It looked like she'd finally worked out how to make it run around magic. "—anyway," continued Roxane, giving Victoire a pointed look—her attention might have been wandering, she was forced to admit—Teddy was waiting for her— "right now, this computer is using the ambient magical energy generated by having so many witches and wizards in one place. If I can get some more machines, we'll be able to communicate using them, and it won't require any additional spells, so it'll go totally unnoticed by the people in charge of infractions against the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery. As in, better than owls, better than firecalls—I can give us Magic Email—M-mail, if you will."
Rose and Albus said together, "Isn't it amazing?"
"Roxy should totally get some kind of prize for this kind of thing," asserted Albus.
"Her technique is far more refined and her advances more useful than the Patil Magic-Muggle clothing lines," agreed Rose. Victoire couldn't help feeling that this, at least, was a matter of opinion.
"Great," she enthused, still unsure what Roxy's latest invention would actually mean. "You should show it to Uncle George, maybe he could work out how to market it."
Roxane shook her head emphatically, red curls bouncing. "No way, I'm going to figure this out myself," she said firmly.
Victoire shrugged. It was really Roxy's choice, but she couldn't help thinking that the requisite money for getting more of these compute-or things would be easier to get with Uncle George's help. As it was, Roxy would have to ask for another one every holiday, which could get really old.
"We can get more for you," suggested Albus. "And don't forget, we've got Grandpa Arthur to back us up."
"As usual, Roxy, you're making history," commented Rose.
The three of them seemed to be having a good time, but Hugo looked a little left out. Victoire resolved to find something for him to do. "Great job, Roxy, really," she assured her fourteen-year-old cousin, and pulled Hugo out of the girls' tent.
Lucy met them almost immediately, and announced officiously, "Grandma Molly's starting dinner soon and she'll need some help, and Father wants everyone to gather in the big clearing now."
Victoire restrained herself from rolling her eyes. Not another Uncle Percy lecture…
"Guess who?" someone whispered in her ear. She leaned back for a moment into Teddy's solid, reassuring form, breathing deeply. She hadn't heard the Crack! that would have signaled his apparition, but the truth was, Teddy was unexpectedly good at sneaking up on people. Shocking, when one considered the way he knocked over the most out-of-the-way objects.
"Uncle Percy wants everyone to gather now," Victoire said drily. "You'd better fetch Roxy, Rose, and Al—they're in there, marveling at Roxy's genius, as usual."
"Uh-uh," said Teddy, his arms winding around her waist. "I've got other plans, sweetness and light." Victoire gasped—why did Teddy think they could have a private moment in public?—and Hugo frowned, scuffing his sneakers. "And," Teddy added lightly, "I do still need some advice, I think. I mean, if you're free…"
"You know I'm not," protested Victoire, pulling out of his grasp reluctantly. "Uncle Percy—"
"Fine," sighed Teddy dramatically. "If we must."
The three of them, Victoire, Teddy, and Hugo, headed toward the clearing with resignation. Lucy was still off rounding everyone up with delighted self-importance. In a remarkably short time, the Weasley-Potter-Lupin clan was assembled.
Uncle Percy cleared his throat. "Another year together," he began, "and we are all so pleased to be here. I know I had to leave the Minister of Magic himself to his own devices for a week!" He laughed, but no one else did. In fact, Victoire thought Uncle Harry looked particularly annoyed. She wondered what else Uncle Percy had said to him lately. "Anyway, I just wanted to welcome each and every one of you. This is the nineteenth summer we've spent this time together, and I know how much it means to all of us. Ever since—well, you know—" Victoire did know, and it never ceased to be a source of contention and inner conflict for her. Nineteen long years since the negative-first anniversary of her own birth, the Final Battle, in which Uncle Harry had at last defeated Voldemort. Victoire was named after that famous victory, and sometimes she felt so proud she could hardly believe it, to be a living commemoration of that great event. Others, she hated her name—because, surely, that day deserved to be mourned almost as much as celebrated. After all, Uncle Fred—
Victoire blinked, and tried to focus on the situation at hand. Even though she'd never known Uncle Fred, the thought of what Uncle George must've suffered—was still suffering—never failed to reduce her to tears.
Uncle Percy was still talking, of course. "—Since last year, I myself have made many significant contributions to the Minister's most important work, all of which, are, of course, classified. Also, three of our number have just begun at Hogwarts—congratulations, Lucy, Albus, and Rose!" Everyone clapped, and Victoire sought Uncle Ron in the crowd—was he still angry that Rose had been sorted into Ravenclaw? Honestly, everyone except him had seen it coming. Rose the analytical, with her amazing intellectual power and lucid comprehension of the most complex concepts, and even spells—not to mention her impressive vocabulary. It was inevitable, really. Victoire was relieved to see Uncle Ron clapping too, beside Aunt Hermione, who was beaming.
"Right, great," interrupted Louis. "I'm really glad for you all, honestly, but don't you think it's time for our first family Quidditch match of the summer?" Victoire smiled fondly. Louis was such a Quidditch nut.
Uncle Percy attempted to be heard over the exclamations of his daughters, nephews, and nieces, but, like many before him, eventually realized it was a hopeless cause.
"Come on, Vic!" called Lucy excitedly. "Hurry up!"
"Maybe I'll sit out this year," Victoire suggested.
At her side, Teddy laughed, and said quietly, "Don't think either of us are getting out of it that easily, love."
The adults cheerfully conjured some stands, ready to indulge the tradition. Louis Summoned everyone's brooms, and the game quickly began. Team captains were Louis and James, although Victoire privately thought the real antagonism was centered between James and Dominique. Rose and Roxane, their resident intellectual non-athletes, sat out and watched with the adults. Hugo also refused to play, on the grounds that he 'wasn't in the mood.' The truth, Victoire knew, was that he didn't want to get in between James and Dominique, or Lily and Dominique. It was a pity Dominique was so hostile. Lily was a lot younger than her, after all. Surely she could let up a little?
Victoire and Teddy were both on James's team, Victoire playing Keeper and Teddy playing Beater. Victoire only hoped that this time, everything would stay at a light, casual, we're-just-having-a-friendly-game-between-cousins level, but somehow doubted it. Grandma Molly left halfway through the match to start dinner, and Aunt Luna, Lorcan and Lysander hurried away to help, but none of the other adults could take their eyes off the match. The Weasleys were definitely a Quidditch family, all right.
It was after Grandma Molly left that Dominique cruelly fouled Lily, and then Albus glared at her broom with such intensity that it caught fire, and Uncle Harry gave them all a short but memorable speech about Quidditch safety that had special resonance with everyone who'd ever heard the story about how in his second year a rogue Bludger had broken his arm and his Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher had removed all the bones in that arm. Everyone but Dominique looked abashed.
"Whatever," she muttered rebelliously.
"Dominique," said Mother, and Dominique subsided at once. Victoire wondered for the millionth time how Mother had gotten that particular power.
James's team won the match—because James always won, no matter how good the opposition was, and no matter what was at stake or whose extraordinary talent he was forced to combat—it really was a habit with him. Still, it was a narrow victory, so Dominique didn't grumble too much.
"Good game," said Louis, shaking hands. He was a good sport, really. Quidditch meant so much to him, but he could still be nice about it.
Then it was time for dinner. Victoire washed up with Lily, Rose, and Lucy, and went out to help set the table, only to find Aunt Ginny had beaten her to it.
"Victoire," said Aunt Ginny. "How are you?"
"Okay, I guess," Victoire shrugged. The truth was, she hadn't had a chance to think about how she was since they'd gotten here. First Teddy had wanted to tell her something, and then she'd had to separate Dominique, Lily, James and Fred, and then admire Roxane's brilliance again, and listen to Uncle Percy, and play Quidditch like Louis wanted…it had been a long afternoon.
"You know, you remind me of what I was at your age," said Aunt Ginny. Victoire touched her sparkling pink hair, confused. She was pretty sure that color was unique. "I mean emotionally," Aunt Ginny clarified. "Except the war, but that's all to the good. You give me hope that innocence isn't easily lost." What an odd thing for a mother to say about her niece, Victoire thought. "And I want to advise you," Aunt Ginny continued, "not to sell yourself short, or limit your options. Your first love isn't always your last, you know."
Victoire recoiled. Was Aunt Ginny warning her against Teddy? It was like she was saying probably Teddy-and-Victoire wouldn't last, and Victoire felt as though she'd been slapped. Without a word, she walked away toward the makeshift kitchen, fuming. She was indignant, but what made her most angry was the tiny seed of doubt she couldn't help noticing, now that Aunt Ginny had made the initial suggestion. She loved Teddy, she loved to be with him, she believed in him and trusted him, and he made her feel loved and special. She wasn't ignorant of his flaws, or his differences from herself, but she really hadn't thought that stuff was enough to separate them—ever. She still didn't, of course, but it made her wince anyway, because she didn't know, she was no Seer, and surely grown-ups were supposed to be experts on that sort of thing?
Dinner was delicious, of course—Grandma Molly was a brilliant cook. Victoire sat next to Teddy, but she barely spoke through the whole meal, and they didn't play footsie under the table like they usually did. She was, if possible, even more aware of him physically than usual. He was also quiet, unusual for him, and he didn't change his appearance between bites for the younger cousins' edification.
After dinner, when everyone was feeling pleasantly full, and Uncle Percy was explaining something about cauldrons to Uncle Charlie, Fred, and Aunt Audrey, when Teddy put down his fork, cleared his throat, and made a startling announcement.
"I'm quitting Auror training."
Victoire froze. You could have heard a pin drop in the sudden silence.
So that was it! Victoire thought with pleased comprehension. Poor Teddy, wanting to tell her this all day and maybe get some advice on how to tell everyone, and she'd just blithely gone about her usual activities, not even guessing that his problem was anything more serious than customary angst-ridden quarreling with Grandromeda. Immediately, she felt guilty for not being more observant. Did that make her a bad girlfriend? Was Aunt Ginny right, was she going to wreck this relationship? She couldn't let that happen, Teddy was hers, they were in love, he was her soulmate—there would never be anyone else like him, never. What should she do?
"Why?" Uncle Harry asked at last.
"It's just not the right thing for me," Teddy tried to explain, speaking directly to his godfather. "I don't belong in Auror training—it's just not working, you know?"
"What does that mean?" Grandma Molly asked dangerously.
"Does your grandmother know about this?" demanded Aunt Ginny.
"You're leaving the Ministry?" gasped Uncle Percy, as though Teddy had announced his intention to travel back in time and study Dark magic with Voldemort.
"No—yes—I don't know," Teddy said, answering Uncle Percy first. "And no, Grandromeda doesn't know, I figured you guys could help me expl—I mean, I just couldn't tell her yet, I haven't even told my boss, which is you, Uncle Harry, in a way, and that's really awkward for me you know—"
"So this is my fault?" Uncle Harry asked quietly.
"No, no—that's not what I—I just can't do it, okay? I'm not that person—I don't fit!"
"So, you're leaving the Ministry," said Uncle George cheerfully. "Make sure to give them two weeks notice—it'll take that long to process the paperwork, I expect."
"Nonsense!" exclaimed Uncle Percy. "Ten days at the most!"
"Don't worry, Teddy—the Rotfang Conspiracy has been entirely cleared up, you know," said Aunt Luna reassuringly. "And your uncle Harry is more than able to squash any fledgling problems of that nature."
"What are you going to do with your future?" demanded Aunt Ginny, disregarding Aunt Luna. People were always underestimating her, Victoire knew. "Just quitting like that—I'll bet you don't even have a plan! You know you can't just go back in a couple months and ask for your old job back—you have to be proactive. You've always been a bit unstable, trying to save the world—"
Teddy looked confused. "I wasn't aware the world was currently in a lot of peril…" he began.
"—and now you've got no plan, no job, no money, no prospects—and you still think you're a fitting boyfriend for my niece!" exclaimed Aunt Ginny.
Victoire frowned. Now what was Aunt Ginny trying to say? How dare she? Didn't she think Teddy deserved happiness? And if she, Victoire, could give it to him—
"Ginny, that's hardly the relevant point," Uncle Harry said patiently. "Teddy and Victoire's relationship has nothing to do with us, after all."
"Speak for yourself," muttered Dad.
"You don't have to do this," began Grandma Molly, frowning worriedly. Grandpa Arthur caught her eye, and shook his head firmly. Victoire watched the two of them leave the table and walk back to their tent, wishing she also could flee the scene of conflict. Loyalty kept her in her seat. What if Teddy needed her?
"Teddy, are you sure about this?" Uncle Harry asked. "We would all love to have you on the team. I'm sorry if my being head of the department has gotten in your way; that was never my intention. I just don't understand; your mother was an Auror, and she was brilliant, and your father worked tirelessly during the war—"
"Don't you get it?" Teddy yelled, standing up. Victoire cringed—loud voices made her nervous, and the conversation had already been steering into dangerous territory from her point of view. "That's exactly the problem! My parents were great, but I'm not them! At Auror training, everyone thinks I should be just like my mom because I'm clumsy and my hair is an unusual color! And then they think, since you're my godfather, it must be nepotism that I'm even there! Plus, it's not like it's easy, being an orphan and having a problem every month around full moon—yeah, I'm not a wolf, but I still can't do any work three nights a month! And everyone thinks I'm weird, with my clumsiness and inner turmoil and wolfishness and family issues—and half of them hate me because I'm related to the Malfoys! Which is so unfair, because the Malfoys have been around forever, so everyone's related to them, and they're not even that bad!"
"So it is my fault," muttered Uncle Harry dejectedly.
Victoire got to her feet, too. She felt deeply for Teddy, and she wanted to support him. Also, during his very justifiable tirade, she'd figured something out. Clearly, Aunt Ginny was transferring whatever issues she and Uncle Harry had had back when they were teens onto Teddy and Victoire. Standing in front of her extended family, Victoire drew all eyes with her gentle dignity. Laying a hand on Teddy's sleeve, she glanced around at them all, and where her eyes fell slight side conversations (about Teddy's objectionable choices and how the Malfoys certainly were that bad, thank you very much) between her cousins quickly subsided. When all was silent once more, she spoke.
"Aunt Ginny," she said slowly and softly, "You seem to labor under the mistaken impression that my relationship with Teddy is in some way your business, or comparable to your personal experience. I must ask that you refrain from interfering between us."
Teddy watched Victoire, his expression unreadable. She wondered what he was thinking, and if he thought their relationship needed more work. What if he didn't think dating her was worth it, since they barely ever saw each other (since he was always working and she'd been at Hogwarts) and still hadn't brought their relationship to a more physical level—Victoire was the one holding them back, but she just wasn't ready—or if he thought she was too shy, since her knees were knocking together reprimanding her aunt in front of everyone like this, or if he thought she wasn't exciting enough since her whole focus was so completely on family, not adventures, even though she was in Gryffindor…
Victoire took a deep, steadying breath and refrained from either sitting down or fleeing the scene of such violent verbal conflict. She couldn't bring herself to say anything else, however.
"Teddy," said Uncle Harry at length. Aunt Ginny was staring morbidly at her empty wine glass. "I'm really sorry I wrecked your Auror training experience. I certainly didn't mean for you to be constantly compared to your parents, or me, and I hope you know that, in my opinion, you've showed real talent. Please, consider before you throw away this opportunity. It gets better, I promise."
"Yeah, and that way you can have an actual job instead of living off of us and Grandromeda," said Dominique snidely.
Beside Victoire, Teddy stiffened. Before he could utter a blistering retort, the tablecloth over by Aunt Ginny's end of the table burst into flames. Aunt Ginny, Uncle Harry, Uncle Ron, Aunt Hermione, Uncle Percy, Aunt Luna, Fred and Lucy jumped backward, upending several chairs. Victoire cringed, but didn't jump—she was far away and it was hardly the first time Aunt Ginny had set something on fire in her presence. They all remembered the Christmas Debacle of 2013.
Uncle Harry expertly put out the flames with water from his wand, and everyone breathed a little easier. Aunt Ginny glared around at them all, before addressing Teddy. "You're being irresponsible, childish, and foolish," she announced. "Don't say I didn't warn you!" With that, she stormed off.
"Although I can hardly condone that violent show of temper," Uncle Percy began pompously, "I feel it my duty to point out, young Teddy, that the course you are apparently set upon shows a lack of foresight and consideration for others which you may regret. The Ministry of Magic offers excellent job security, and y—"
"Okay," said Victoire, interrupting her uncle and inwardly quaking. "That. Is. Enough." She paused and stared round at them all: Uncle Harry, concerned; Uncle Percy, annoyed and shaken; Dominique, bratty and unrepentant; Rose, aloof; Aunt Luna, serene; Albus, wide-eyed and nervous; everyone else, either uninterested or disapproving. "You've had your say—and Teddy's heard you. But he's an adult, and, as such, he's really doing you a courtesy even telling you about this. You don't have the right to dictate to him what he can and cannot do. So I'm going to have to ask you all to back off now." She stopped speaking, surreptitiously took a deep breath, and waited. No one said anything, and Dad winked at her.
Teddy waited only a few moments—to make sure no one was going to challenge him or Vic further—before grabbing her arm, giving his relatives a scapegrace bow, and pulling her back to the privacy of their favorite horizontal tree branch.
"What are you doing?" she shrieked, gorgeous pink hair all over the place and eyes wide and wild and gleeful in spite of herself. "Teddy—"
He silenced her with a kiss. Eventually, he pulled back, balancing her on his lap. He looked down at her beautiful, innocent, dear face and said seriously, "Thank you."
"For what?" she asked, looking adorably confused. "I didn't do anything, really."
"You saved me from hordes of angry adults asking me questions I can't answer," Teddy replied. "You are an amazing person, Victoire Weasley."
"How?" she asked, surprised. "Me?"
"Yes, you," he said, shaking her gently. "You saved me, you saved Lily from Dominique, and don't think I didn't see you let in that goal of Lucy's, so that Dominique only lost by ten points. You're a genius for getting along with people. Not to mention, you're smart, brave, and beautiful," he added, grinning. "And an excellent kisser."
She smiled too, and set about proving his last statement. It was quite a while later, when they were curled up on the tree branch, just being together, that Aunt Luna appeared out of the darkness. Her blonde hair gleamed the way Vic's pink locks did.
"It's all right, you know," she told Teddy seriously. "Not to know."
Teddy frowned. "What do you mean?" he asked, though he thought he knew.
"Sweetheart, indecision is what being young is all about," explained Luna. "You don't have to feel guilty for not knowing what you what to do yet, or be."
Teddy shrugged. Ordinarily, being called sweetheart would annoy him, but, as one of the many people who'd had a hand in raising him, and one of the coolest and kookiest, Aunt Luna had special privileges. "I know," he said truthfully. "I don't know what I want to do, I don't know why I have to quit Auror training, I just do. You can tell Uncle Harry it's not really his fault. It's me."
"Is everybody still really angry?" Vic asked nervously.
Aunt Luna shrugged. "Percy hasn't foamed at the mouth since the time Molly got lost in Knockturn Alley, and Harry is more disappointed than angry. Ginny will get over it."
"About that…" said Vic slowly, "you don't think she was right, do you?"
"About what?" Teddy asked sharply. Although he loved Aunt Ginny, and knew intellectually that she'd been one of his most frequent babysitters before he'd turned five, as a young adult he was wary of her bitterness. She always seemed so brittle, like she might crack at any moment. And her battles with James were epic, to say the least.
"About the two of you?" Luna asked.
"Wait, what did she—" Teddy began indignantly. "Oh, you mean the bit about me not being good enough for you? Vic!" He was horrified. Did Vic think he wasn't good enough for her? He wasn't, he knew that, but if she thought so…
Vic snuggled closer to him, and twisted so that their eyes met—two pairs of identical, warm, Weasley brown eyes. "Maybe I'm the one who's not good enough for you," she said passive-aggressively.
"No, Aunt Ginny's right—there's a first—I'm the not-good-enough one of this pair," Teddy assured her. "You're marvelous."
"So you don't think we're too young? Or too close, in terms of how we grew up together and are kind of alike and stuff?" Vic asked.
"No way," Teddy assured her. "I like it."
Aunt Luna smiled serenely at the two of them. "Don't worry about change," she told them. "It'll come anyway. And it's easier to face with your friends. Do watch out for the Wrackspurts, though. You don't have to decide everything right now, Teddy: dreams are funny things." She grinned at them again, and then gave them a little wave and departed, back toward Uncle Harry, Aunt Ginny, and all of Teddy and Victoire's wonderful, magical cousins.
Vic laughed, a glorious, happy laugh. "So that's that," she said delightedly. "I'm glad we have Aunt Luna to set us straight. Do you think, by the time we go back to the tents, she'll have convinced them all to be more Zen and not fuss because you're bravely changing careers in the middle instead of waiting until you're stuck in a rut later on and can never escape?"
Teddy looked down at her, speechless for a moment. There she was, and she thought he was brave for quitting Auror training, and she was supporting him…She was so giving, endlessly kind, taking care of the cousins with relative ease, being there for him, an excellent, responsible daughter to Uncle Bill and Aunt Fleur…
Teddy stroked Victoire's adorable, pale pink hair and said wonderingly, "I love you, Vic. I love you so much!"
Vic grinned delightedly, and any lingering doubt in her mind about their relationship vanished. She was sitting in Teddy Lupin's lap, on a convenient horizontal tree branch, and her family was close but not looking over her shoulder, and she realized that she was right where she wanted to be. "I love you, too, Teddy," she said happily, and kissed him.
It was some time later that an irritated cry sounded from a certain semi-secluded, wooded glade: "And, how many times do I have to tell you, don't call me Vic!"