Everyone thinks that I have it all
But it's so empty living behind these castle walls
These castle walls
If I should tumble if I should fall
Would any one hear me screaming behind these castle walls
There's no-one here at all, behind these castle walls
Victoire Weasley stared at the birthday card in her hands, a smile tugging at the corner of her lips. Teddy had sent her an old photograph that she had never seen before. It was taken years ago on a hot summer day at Shell Cottage. She and Teddy were sitting side by side on the dock, their feet dangling over the lake water. Teddy was scrunching up his face in concentration, forcing his hair to change colors, while Victoire watched in amazement, a small giggle escaping her. She must have been five or six in that picture, which meant Teddy must have only seven or eight years old. They were so innocent back then, unaware of all the cruel things the world had to offer. She sighed, wishing she could go back to that day...before everything had changed...before everything had gone so terribly wrong...back to when they were just Teddy and Victoire: best friends.
"What's that?" Dominique asked nosily, snatching the card from her sister's hands.
Victoire shrugged. "Just a birthday card from Teddy."
Dominique glanced at the card before carelessly tossing it on the bed. "That was nice of him."
Victoire turned around, staring at her reflection in the mirror. "Yeah, it was."
"So, what time's the party?" Dominique wondered, smearing on Victoire's red lipstick.
Victoire glanced at her sister, gently brushing out the tangles in her hair. "Red's not your color, Doms. Go for a more natural look."
Dominique held up a nude colored lipgloss, and Victoire nodded her approval. "So, will this color look good for the party tonight?" Dominique asked.
Victoire raised her eyebrows. "It would...too bad you're not invited."
"Vic!" Dominique protested. "I'm thirteen! I should be able to go! I'm not a child anymore."
Victoire shook her head. "I don't want you to get into any trouble. Now, go to bed. You have an early class tomorrow."
Dominique glared at her sister. "This is so not fair! How come you get to go?"
"Because it's my birthday party," she said simply, flipping her hair back. A few giggling girls appeared in Victoire's doorway, whispering for her to hurry up in French. "Good night, Dominique," Victoire said sternly, signaling for her to go to bed. As Dominique crawled into her bed grumbling, Victoire tiptoed after her friends. She glanced back at Dominique once more, before sighing and traipsing after the giggling group of girls.
What many people didn't know about Beauxbaton Academy was that it was hidden smack-dab in the middle of a bustling muggle town. Most of the muggles in town took one look at the manicured lawns of the school and the enormous palace with its students roaming the grounds in their silky blue uniforms, and they brushed it off, thinking it was just another boarding school for the rich and snobby.
Sometimes it was difficult keeping the magic hidden, especially when a few of the older students snuck into the stables and stole away on the flying horses; but ultimately the forests and gardens surrounding the school concealed the magic pretty well.
One of the reasons Victoire loved Beauxbaton Academy was because she had mastered the art of sneaking in and out of the castle. Victoire loved sneaking into clubs and snogging muggle boys that she would never see again. She knew it was wrong, and she knew it made people perceive her as a bit of a slag, but she didn't care.
For the longest time, Victoire couldn't feel anything. She just walked through life numbly, unaware and unfeeling, talking to the same narrow minded people with their mindless chatter. But sneaking around and breaking the rules...for the first time, she actually felt something. It was scary and thrilling, but most importantly, it was real. It was the only real emotion she felt, the only real thing that made her feel alive nowadays. So, in the end, she didn't care what people thought of her as long as she continued getting that thrill, that rush, that one sensation that made her come alive again.
So, as she tiptoed across the gardens and forests of the school grounds and scampered into town with a band of obnoxious teenagers, her heart pounded and her breathing became slightly shaky. Any second they could get caught or attacked by some crazy beast hidden in the forest. It was absolutely terrifying, but she loved every second of it.
"Victoire," a husky voice with a heavy accent said, "save me a dance?"
She turned to find Pierre LeBlanc beside her. She gave him her most dazzling smile, channeling the veela in her, and he stumbled back a bit. "Bien sûr! Of course!" she exclaimed.
He grinned. "I'll see you inside," he said, leading their friends inside the club that was blasting loud French rap.
Élisabeth Étoile nudged Victoire. "So, Pierre, huh?"
Victoire shrugged, eyeing the skinny boy with sleek brown hair. "Maybe...if I can't find anybody else..."
Élisabeth shook her head with an amused grin. "Don't you ever just want to settle down?"
Victoire glanced at her friend. "We're a tad too young to be thinking about settling down, wouldn't you agree?"
"Well, don't you ever want a real relationship?" Elisabeth pressed.
Victoire looked around the crowded club where blokes kept "accidentally" rubbing up against her. "Je ne crois pas. Not with anybody here..."
"Then with who?" Elisabeth exclaimed. Victoire frowned, because for some reason Teddy Lupin's face popped in her head.
Élisabeth checked her watch. "Only a few minutes until your birthday and you'll officially be fifteen!" she cheered.
Victoire smiled. "Well, then, I think two shots are in order!" She motioned to the bartender, and he brought them two small glasses full of alcohol.
The two girls laughed, downing the entire glass before shimmying onto the dancefloor. Victoire was on her third glass of champagne and dancing with a fit muggle boy when the music suddenly stopped. Élisabeth and Pierre were on stage, looking slightly tipsy.
"Oh, no," murmured Victoire.
"Excusez-moi!" Élisabeth exclaimed, tapping the microphone. "Can I have everybody's attention?" She paused, looking around the crowded club. When she finally spotted Victoire, she grinned. "At midnight, it'll officially be my friend Victoire's birthday."
All of Victoire's friends cheered as a spotlight landed on her. Victoire felt her face burn, but she did just as her mother taught her. She beamed and waved, and acted the part.
Pierre cleared his throat. "It's midnight! Joyeux anniversaire, Victoire!" he shouted, holding up his glass. Victoire cheered, gulping down her champagne.
The muggle boy beside her, pulled her close. "Joyeux anniversaire, Victoire," he mumbled, before pressing his lips against hers. Victoire kissed him back, and when she pulled away, she glanced back at the stage. Pierre was staring at her, holding broken glass.
"Victoire," Élisabeth exclaimed, tugging on her arm.
"What?" Victoire snapped, her arms still around the muggle boy's neck.
"Votre sœur est ici!" Élisabeth whispered frantically.
"What? Dominique's here?" Victoire looked around the crowded club. "Cet imbécile! Has she lost her mind?"
"I don't know, but somebody just saw Madame Rousseau here too...we have to go!"
Victoire pulled away from the bloke in her arms. "I have to find Dominique first!" She and Élisabeth pushed through the dancing couples, shouting Dominique's name.
"Wait! I never got your number!" The muggle boy called after her in a thick accent.
Victoire pulled aside a group of her friends. "Elle est ici. Sortir!" Their eyes widened, and Victoire watched as they raced out of the club back to the school. She turned to her best friend. "Élisabeth, you go too," she said, pushing her friend toward the door.
"What about Dominique?"
Victoire shook her head. "I'll find her..."
Élisabeth gave her one last panicked look before scurrying after the other kids from Beauxbaton. Victoire cursed under her breath as she searched the club for her little sister. "Dominique!" Victoire hissed, spotting her little sister flirting with an older bloke.
"Victoire!" Dominique beamed, waving at her sister. "This is Frederick."
Victoire grabbed her sister's arm. "She's thirteen, perv," she snarled at the boy talking to Dominique.
"Vic!" Dominique protested.
"Madame Rousseau is here. We have to go." Victoire started to pull her sister away, but a cold hand on her shoulder made her freeze.
"Well, don't leave on my account," a sharp voice behind her said.
Victoire turned around slowly. "Madame Rousseau!" she said cheerily. "Funny running into you here..."
"Dans mon bureau. Allez." She pointed to the door, her cold grey eyes piercing into Victoire's furiously.
Victoire and Dominique exchanged miserable looks before following Madame Rousseau out the door.
"Avez-vous perdu votre esprit? Je ne peux pas avoir un étudiant faufiler. C'est la dernière paille, Victoire Weasley. Et pour faire glisser votre petite soeur dans tout cela? Je veux vous sortir de cette école! Out!"
Victoire glanced sideways at her parents as Madame Rousseau paced around her office shouting. Fleur was frowning, occasionally throwing Victoire dirty looks. Bill was staring at Madame Rousseau with a confused expression. Over the years, he'd improved his French greatly, but it still wasn't perfect. It was difficult for him to understand fluent French, especially when it was spoken so quickly and shrilly. Dominique was sitting beside her, looking pale. Victoire, despite her anger, reached out and put her arm around her sister. Dominique had never gotten into trouble before. Victoire, on the other hand, practically lived in the headmistress's office.
"Madame Rousseau, I hate to interrupt," Bill said, clearing his throat, "but I-I can't really understand French quite as well as my wife..."
Madame Rosseau removed her glasses as she glared at Bill. "This is ze last straw, Mr. Weasley. I can not 'ave Victoire in my school anymore."
"Just for sneaking out!" Fleur exclaimed.
"No, for drinking in ze bathrooms, having boys in her room, breaking curfew, sneaking out...Mrs. Weasley, ze list just goes on! I have no choice but to expel your daughter. After ze end of this year, Victoire will not be invited back to Beauxbaton Academy."
"What!" Victoire cried. "Where am I supposed to go?"
"You should 'ave thought about zat before sneaking into a club! A club! You're not even of age!" Madame Rousseau exclaimed. "We 'ave standards here at Beauxbaton Academy. We expect ze best from our students."
"Is there anything we can do to fix this?" Bill asked urgently.
Madam Rousseau glared at him. "You're lucky I'm not expelling both your daughters."
"No, don't do that!" Victoire exclaimed. "Dominique had nothing to do with this. She didn't even want to come...I-I was the one who forced her into going!"
"You did what?" Bill barked, his eyes flashing. Victoire flinched. It was rare for her dad to ever get truly angry with her.
"You took your thirteen year old sister to a club?" Fleur said, her voice quivering with fury.
Victoire gulped. She pinched her sister's arm to keep her from opening her mouth. "Yes," Victoire said boldly. Dominique looked like she wanted to protest, but Victoire kept pinching her. "It's all my fault. Dominique really shouldn't be expelled...or punished at all, actually..."
Madame Rousseau sat down, considering this. "Dominique is one of our brightest students..."
"And she's never gotten into trouble before this," Victoire added.
"Detention every Saturday until ze end of term," Madame Rousseau compromised. "Now get into bed before I change my mind."
Dominique looked uncertainly at Victoire, but Victoire nodded encouragingly at her. Dominique got up slowly and left the giant office with a small wave to her parents.
Fleur shook her head. "I cannot believe you got your innocent sister into zis..." She turned to look at her daughter. "What is wrong with you?"
Madame Rousseau cleared her throat. "Who else was at that club tonight, Ms. Weasley?"
Victoire thought of Pierre jumping up on stage to wish her happy birthday and Elisabeth's panicked face as she warned her to get out. "Nobody," Victoire lied easily. Madame Rousseau looked as if she didn't believe her, but she knew better than to argue.
"Very vell," she said crisply, getting up.
"Wait!" Fleur cried, jumping out of her seat. "Vat about Victoire? You can't expel her!"
"I'm sorry, Ms. Weasley. I understand you were one of our best students in your day, but zat can't make up for your daughter. She's just not vat Beauxbaton Academy is looking for. Je suis désolé."
"So...after this year I'm done?" Victoire asked her in disbelief.
Madame Rousseau sighed, rubbing her temples. For the first time, Victoire realized how old and tired the headmistress was. It was a little unsettling to see someone that always looked so stern and powerful look so worn out and weak. "I'm sorry, Victoire, but there's nothing I can do," Madame Rousseau said quietly.
"Come on," Bill said gruffly to his daughter. "Your mother and I will walk you to your dorm."
Victoire gulped, but followed her parents out the office. As she guessed, her parents yelled at her the entire way down. Her mother was always yelling at her, so Victoire didn't mind much. It was the look on her father's face that really got to her.
"'Ow could you do zat to Dominique?" Fleur demanded, her beautiful face twisting into a furious sneer.
"I'm sorry about getting Doms into trouble, but I'm not apologizing for anything else," Victoire told her mother stubbornly.
Her mother scoffed. "Excuse me? You're not going to apologize for all ze drinking and lying and sneaking around? Oh, if only your grandmuzzer knew about zis...vat vould she think! A Delacour heir behaving in such a...barbaric...manner...'Ow could you do zis to our family name?"
Victoire rolled her eyes. "Sorry I'm such a disgrace to the family."
"That's not what your mother meant," Bill told her sharply, "but we're not going to lie and say we're not disappointed."
Victoire flipped her hair back. "I was just celebrating my birthday."
Fleur grabbed Bill's arm. "Bill, vat vill we do? No school will accept her after this!"
"We have no choice...we have to send her back to Hogwarts," Bill said rationally.
Fleur considered this. "'Ogwarts...you zink zey will accept her?"
"I have connections there. I'm sure Neville and Hagrid will be able to put in a good word for me. Plus, the headmaster loves Harry...I'm sure if I talk to Harry..." Bill was scratching his head, thinking.
Victoire leaned against the wall, crossing her arms. "I'm not going back to Hogwarts."
Bill and Fleur paused. "And where the hell do you suggest we send you?" Bill demanded.
"Anywhere but there. I can't go back. I won't."
"I know you had your difficulties last year-"
Victoire straightened up, glaring at her parents. "You have no idea what I went through, and you have no right to bring that up right now."
"'Ogwarts could be good for her," Fleur said suddenly, her eyes filling with hope "Zat vas when Victoire was at her best!"
Fuming, Victoire stalked down the empty hallway toward her dorm room.
"Excuse me! Don't walk away from us!" Bill shouted after her. Victoire paused at the door, her hand on the knob. "What the hell's happened to you?" Bill demanded. "You used to be such a sweet, nice girl. When did that change? When did you become this."
Victoire took a deep breath and closed her eyes. "I haven't been that girl for a long time, Dad." She turned the knob, and stalked inside her room. Without turning back to look back at her parents, Victoire slammed the door behind her.
"Victoire!" Dominique cried, wrapping her tiny arms around her sister.
"Dominique!" Victoire gasped. "What are you doing here?"
Her little sister shushed her, motioning toward Victiore's sleeping roommate. "I wanted to make sure you were okay. Merlin, thank you so much for covering for me...but they're not really going to expel you, are they?"
"Yeah, they are."
"What?" Dominique shouted, looking panicked.
"Mum and Dad want me to go back to Hogwarts."
"But you can't! I like having you here!"
Victoire sighed, perching on her bed. "Well, that's too bad, because once term ends, I'm out of here for good."
"Oh, Vic, it's all my fault!" Dominique cried. "I shouldn't have snuck out! I should have listened to you! If you hadn't gone off to look for me, you would've been able to sneak back up to the castle with everybody else. Oh, it's all my fault."
Victoire hugged her sister. "Don't be so dramatic, Doms. I would have gotten expelled eventually. It was only a matter of time." Victoire paused, looking at her sister. "Although, I do have to ask: why'd you do it? You've never been one to sneak out and break the rules."
"Neither have you," Dominique pointed out. "Everybody told me you were a good girl at Hogwarts just like me."
"Yeah, well, that was a long time ago," Victoire muttered.
"Well, I want to change too. I want to be just like you!" Dominique exclaimed, her eyes twinkling with admiration as she gazed up at her sister.
Victoire smiled sadly at her sister. Dominique had always been beautiful, but she'd never been quite as pretty as Victoire. Her nose was slightly longer, her hair wasn't as shiny or silky, and her eyes weren't quite as blue. Still, Dominique was beautiful. Victoire had always envied her younger sister. Not because of her looks, but because of her heart. Dominique had always been less selfish and less snobby. She was the type of person who could walk into a room, and five minutes later, know everybody's life story. Victoire wasn't quite like that. She'd always been more reserved. Sure, over the past year, she'd learn to use her beauty and charm to get what she wanted, but it wasn't quite the same thing. People were drawn to Dominique because of her kindness and loyalty, while people were only drawn to Victoire because of her looks and popularity.
Victoire used to be innocent and kind like Dominique. At Hogwarts, she was known for being the beautiful, shy, quiet girl that sat in the back and didn't speak much. But the events from the past year that led up to that day had changed her. She could turn her charm on and use her veela powers to get what she wanted. It was manipulative and selfish, but it worked.
Still, Victoire didn't want Dominique to be like her, because in truth, Victoire wasn't happy. She hated her life, and sometimes, she even hated herself. She couldn't understand why bad things happened to such good people. Victoire used to be good, but life had been cruel to her. She was a bitter, cynical person now, and she didn't want that for her siblings. She wanted Dominique and Louis to retain their innocence and keep the happiness life had blessed them with.
Victoire removed her shoes and got into bed. Dominique climbed in beside her.
"No, you don't," Victoire whispered.
"What?" Dominique asked.
"You don't want be anything like me."