p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"The shop stays empty and you don't notice./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"You wander around in a sort of unfocused trance, brushing imaginary dust off of the spines of leather bound tomes. In your mind it falls away like powdered snow, dissipating in the air as easily as a flame burning out in a gale./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"Fleeting, tragic, emgone./em/p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"You almost laugh because this is it- this is exactly what she hates. Sugar coating, romanticising. Wrapping up plain phrases in fancies and facades, complicating and confusing; everything's so damned emunclear/em all the time./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"A phrase of three simple words is built upon to be more and more until it doesn't really mean it any longer. Fabricating tales of romance and lust, fairy tales, happily ever afters- it's all a joke to you, isn't it?/p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"You continue to wander and it strikes you that if this were any other day she'd be here right now./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"You'd open the door and wet flakes of snow would fall onto the carpet, but you wouldn't notice. You're too busy getting lost in her eyes, her ocean eyes. She'd throw her damp scarf on the floor and, the door banging shut, you'd embrace./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"Every kiss is a first kiss to you. The same sensation, each atom in your body tingling with a repressed desire. You love her and you think she loves you back because the bookcase trembles and the door swings open again. Passersby outside feel a strange warmth emanating from the ground, and though they don't say anything, they appreciate the sudden change of state./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"You think that at this moment your souls are aligned. You love her and she loves you./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"But you're fooling yourself. Foolish Teddy. Naive, over-trusting, clingy Teddy. Boring Teddy. He-doesn't-deserve-emher/em Teddy. Plain and old and un-exciting now. Once you were bright and ever changing, but your blue hair fades to a non-committal mouse, hanging in a shapeless fringe over your eyes. Boring hazel for a boring boy./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"Not like Vic's, blue and deep and clear; pools, seas, oceans. Oceans you swim in in your dreams, eddys of ink seeping into your pale skin, etching sonnets and love poems and a name. One name, over and over./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"Victoire. Victoire. Victoire./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"But your oceans have dried to a trickle, leaving blank pages; years full of memories now lost and meaningless. They've moved, your oceans, to another. You can see him swimming and you bite back a sort of choking sob. Silly Teddy. Exciting, on-the-go, experienced Antoine./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"Deserving of each other, perhaps. Mysterious and enigmatic and painfully emFrench./em/p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"And emVeela. /emBewitching the hearts of the mundane, leaving them hanging as they flit away in a kaleidoscope of stars and fireworks./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"(Maybe she loves him, maybe she doesn't love you.)/p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"(Maybe sheem never/em loved you.)/p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"You channel your bitterness into your writing. The words fall from your quill and with each stanza, each verse, each completed work, you feel strangely light./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"Months pass and a glimmer of the old, happy Teddy parts the shadows in your mind. You open the blinds in the book shop and Spring sunlight streams onto the floor, casting golden rays over the shelves. You run a hand along the spines of each novel and your imaginary dust turns out to be real. Cascades of it fill the air and you choke on the memories. The sound is foreign through the silence but it makes you realise how much time has passed, wasting away in the confines of this shop./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"Your eyes stream through the musty air. You are happy. The idea that maybe your life won't always be a gloom of unfinished poems on scraps of parchment and the ache of longing is strange, but you like strange./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"Strange Teddy, she used to say. It hurt you, didn't it? A dull blow in the pit of your stomach. But these months have changed you somewhat. No longer the bright blue hair, but no longer mouse. A warm chocolate, spicy and magical. Hazel eyes shift from gold to green to violet, an ever changing pattern of colour and light./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"Freckles appear on your nose but you don't charm them away./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"Maybe the only reason you didn't like them before is because she didn't. Didn't want you tarnishing the perfect exterior that was your life back then./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"In the next couple of weeks you grow somewhat. The simple uttering of the name 'Victoire' doesn't strike up the burning pain it used to. You throw out the pictures on the walls, moving reminders of your loss, and smile at the now blank canvas./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"On the 1st of May you accept the invitation to the Weasley's Sunday dinner. The thought of company is odd but not entirely unpleasant./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"You put on a jumper and some jeans. You wonder what you will say when you get there, what everyone else will say. You stall time tying and retying the laces of your boots. Their colour has faded./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"When you finally arrive you are smothered by a tearful and babbling Mrs. Weasley and you laugh through the dampness forming in your own eyes./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"It is the same, but different./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"You greet James and Hugo with a hi-five and the girls with a hug. Lily has gotten taller since starting at Hogwarts, and you miss her once innocent smile. She's growing up too fast./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"There is small talk made about weather and other forgettable issues, but you seem to be enjoying the company more than anything./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"You tell them of the shop and that one old man who visits everyday just so he can finish his book. (They laugh when you say about pretending not to notice.) You joke about the pressures of work, of the misjudged illusion that is held about coming of age, and everyone smiles, if a little sadly./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"You attempt to glaze over the topic of Victoire but with the dreaded; 'so, how are you coping' question followed by a seemingly reassuring shoulder pat, you know you are as good as beaten./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"You begin to speak but the door is flung open before you can reply. The sight of Victoire makes something tighten in your gut./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"You stand up then sit down again./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"She stops in the doorway and your gaze meets her eyes. The once thriving oceans look drained and empty. They expect you to run out or start to yell, but you don't. You smile and nod politely, as though she'd just an old friend you havent seen for a while, not a lover, not a soulmate, not the reason-for-your-very-existence. She sits, and the table falls silent./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"You put down your fork. The anticipation of what has not yet been said is deafening. She cocks her head in the direction of the garden and you rise with her, sending Mrs. Weasley what you hope is a reassuring grin./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"You walk. Her silent presence beside you makes you almost begin to imagine that nothing has changed./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;""I think he's the one, Teds," she whispers, and the pain in her eyes makes you forget./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;""I wasn't under the impression that you believed in 'the one.'"/p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;""Nor was I."/p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"You laugh./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"She looks confused but she joins in and then takes your hands in her own. The contact should send tingles, but it doesn't, not anymore./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;""I'm sorry."/p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;""So am I."/p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;""...I love you."/p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;""No, you don't."/p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"She lets out a dry sob./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;""I do, Teddy. But I love him, too. I-I love hi-"/p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;""You love him more," you finish, and as she begins to speak again you cut her off with a shake of your head./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;""You love him more. It's fine. emI'm/em fine, more or less."/p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"The look she gives you is one close to pity. The bile rising in your throat is forced down./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;""I am. It took me a while, Vics, but I am. I write. I look after the shop. I drink more tea than is probably considered humanly possible, but I'm emfine/em."/p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"Now you both laugh and the sound fills the cold garden like a symphony./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;""But I'm getting by, Vics. I am, really and truly."/p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;""...You look good."/p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;""Is that relevant?"/p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;""Yes and no."/p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"You shake your head and you know that in this second what you have said is true. You emare/em fine./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"You smile and kiss her lightly on the forehead. You've grown taller than her now and have to stoop down slightly./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;""Goodbye, Victoire."/p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"Before she can reply you are walking away and you are lighter than ever. Rising up into the sky, touching the stars and stroking the velvety black./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"You emare/em fine. Better than fine./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"You are Teddy, and she is Victoire./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"Once you were a singular entity but now you're torn, and it's fine./p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"You're Teddy Lupin, book lover and tea drinker. Avid Muggle movie geek. Obsessive and lovingly eccentric. You're Teddy Lupin and you're fine./p