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Chapter 6 : Bill and Fleur
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Victoire spent the next two days trying to figure out how to tell her favourite cousin that he had probably sold the charm that was to blame for her potential lycanthropy.
Lavender had not been able to tell her much about the necklace. The little girl had claimed that her uncle had given her the charm a few days before as an early birthday present. There was absolutely no reason to think that she was lying, but they had been unable to track the uncle down. He was a resident of the village, but he seemed to have completely disappeared without a trace.
Which was something that all the Ministry officials involved found very suspicious.
To make matters worse, the girl had apparently clammed up very quickly and refused to say anything else. Given the shock of everything that had happened, Lavender wasn’t convinced that there was anything more sinister than her simply being a scared little girl going on, but it certainly didn’t help matters. No one wanted to traumatise the poor child further - or get in hot water with Support, which was all over the case - but at the same time, they couldn’t afford to let their only lead dry up.
Victoire heard all of this secondhand, of course; she had not met the girl, and she had absolutely no desire to. If she’d really wanted to, she probably could have figured out who the girl was - but she didn’t want to. There simply wasn’t any point, and she didn’t need the added stress.
The first thing that had jumped into her mind when she’d heard all of this was that she wanted to talk to Teddy about it, but it quickly occurred to her that she might not be allowed to tell him. This was a highly sensitive case, and while it personally affected her, she wasn’t really sure what she would be allowed to say, and she didn’t want to land herself in any more trouble than she was already in.
When she mentioned her indecision to Van, however, he’d given her one of his looks and told her to talk to her fiance, and screw Ministry protocol.
So she did.
“I found out why the spells bounced off the werewolf,” she said offhandedly as Teddy began to clean up dinner that night.
He stopped and looked over at her, leaving the dishes hovering midair between the table and the sink. “Oh?” Despite an outward appearance of calm, she could see that his body had stiffened slightly, and his expression was far too politely attentive to be natural.
“It-” Victoire stopped herself. “She,” she corrected. “She was wearing a shield charm.” Teddy stared at her blankly, and she added, “From the shop.”
“Jesus.” Teddy muttered, running his free hand over his face. The dishes continued on to the counter, and fell unceremoniously into the basin. There was a faint chink of something potentially breaking, but they ignored it. “So it was an accident?”
Victoire bit her lip, and he sank into the seat next to her and laid his wand on the table. “Maybe,” she said after a long pause. “Her uncle gave it to her a few days ago, but the Ministry hasn’t been able to find him.”
Her fiance’s eyebrows shot up. “He’s missing?”
She sighed. “Not technically,” she said. Unless there was reason to think that the person was in immediate danger, the Ministry’s definition of “missing” was very conservative.
Teddy closed his eyes. “So he’s missing.” This time it wasn’t a question.
He shook his head and said, very softly, “I don’t like this.”
Victoire sighed again. “Neither do I.”
She slept fitfully again that night.
Victoire tried to put off telling her parents for as long as possible. It wasn’t that she didn’t appreciate their support. She just didn’t want them to worry, and she had no idea how to broach the subject in the first place. “Hi, Mum, hi, Dad, I think I might be a werewolf” seemed like a poor choice.
And anyway, she was handling it.
However, after several days of avoiding the issue, her sister cornered her after work and told her that if she didn’t tell their parents soon, Dominique would do it for her.
Victoire did not much like being ordered around by her baby sister, but when she complained to Teddy, he just shrugged and said that Dominique had a point.
Sometimes, the only thing worse than them disagreeing with each other was agreeing with each other. It almost always meant that Victoire was going to get coerced into something she knew that she should do but very strongly wanted to avoid.
Dominique had the final word when she’d asked Victoire what she would say if she caught dragon pox in the lab and decided not to tell her. Victoire had argued that that was completely different, but Dominique had stood her ground, and eventually Victoire agreed to tell their parents just to make her sister stop bothering her.
She was still feeling slightly resentful when she opened the door to her parents’ house the next day and called out, “Mum? Dad?”
“Victoire?” she heard her mother call.
“Yeah,” she replied, slipping off her shoes and walking past the carpeted staircase and the photographs that hung on the wall toward the general direction of the voice.
“We’re in the living room,” her father said as she neared the doorway. When she stepped inside, they both smiled at her.
“Well, this is a lovely surprise,” her mother said, putting her book aside and getting to her feet to give Victoire a hug. There was still a faint French lilt to her speech, but years of living in England had muted it significantly as Victoire had grown up.
Her father got to his feet, too, and as soon as her mother let her go, he wrapped his arms around her. “It’s good to see you, Vic,” he said softly. She smiled tightly when he stepped back, and his eyes narrowed slightly. “This isn’t a social call, is it?”
She swallowed hard. “No,” she said after a minute. Thinking about her sister’s threat was all that kept her from walking out the front door again. “I-- er-- have something to tell you.”
“Of course, Victoire,” her mother said, sinking back into her chair. “You know you can tell us anything.”
Victoire bit her lip and sat down on the couch. “I know.” Her heart was pounding wildly at the thought of having to relive the experience again. Right now, she wanted nothing more than to forget it.
When she’d finished relating a shortened version of what had happened in the woods that night, he parents sat there in shocked silence for a moment.
Then her mother had done exactly what Victoire had been afraid that she would do. She immediately rose, came to sit next to her, and gripped her hand before asking in a very serious voice, “Are you all right?”
There was nothing that Victoire hated more than being asked if she was all right in a time of stress.
“I’m fine, Mum,” she said a bit stiffly.
Her father, who had looked a little more thoughtful - though no less worried - during the retelling got up and took a few steps across the room to join them. “Maybe it’s a good omen,” he said as he sat down on Victoire’s other side. She looked at him, startled, and he said, with a hint of a smile on his face, “Well, my encounter with a werewolf happened just before I married your mother, and look how that worked out.”
Victoire snorted involuntarily and glanced over at her mother, who looked like she was trying to decide whether to laugh or to chastise him. After a moment, she settled for shaking her head, though Victoire could see that the corners of her mouth were upturned a little.
Her father slipped an arm around her shoulder. “No matter what happens, we’re here for you,” he said.
“I know, Dad.” She rubbed her temples for a moment, and then tucked her hair behind her ears. “I know.”
“Have you told your sister?” he asked, and Victoire felt a sudden stab of affection for them both. They weren’t idiots; they knew that the last full moon had been almost a week ago, but they weren’t pressing her about why she hadn’t come to tell them before now.
“Yes,” she said after a minute. “I told her and Fred. And Teddy, of course.”
Her mother took her hand again, and Victoire closed her eyes. She was already feeling more relaxed, which was not necessarily a good thing. Being on edge meant that she kept moving and kept functioning. Relaxing might mean falling apart at the seams, and she couldn’t afford that right now.
“How did Teddy take it?” her mother asked, and Victoire opened her eyes and managed a slight smile.
“Same as he takes anything.” The memory of her fiance shouting at her uncle resurfaced, and she amended her statement. “Mostly. I think he’s angry at the Ministry and at the situation.”
Her mother frowned. “But how is he treating you?” she pressed.
“Fine,” Victoire said quickly. “He’s being himself. He said it didn’t affect how he felt about me, except for...”
She stopped herself before she mentioned Teddy’s comment about sex with her if she did indeed transform, but her father shifted uncomfortably, and she could tell that he knew both her and Teddy well enough to have filled in the blank.
It occurred to her that it was probably good that she was finding humour in something. “Jesus, Dad, I’ve lived with him for two years. What do you think is happening?”
“Honestly, Vic, I try not to think too hard about the fact that both of my daughters are now adults.”
Her mother patted her hand. “Ignore your father,” she said, shooting him a glance. “Teddy is a very nice boy.”
Victoire thought that the only people who had ever called Teddy ‘a very nice boy’ in the last decade were her mother and their landlady, but she kept her amusement at the description to herself. Teddy was a lot of very good things, but ‘very nice boy’ implied a sort of wholesome innocence that her fiance definitely did not have.
He was romantic, supportive, and completely in love with her. She knew that he would never pressure her into doing anything she didn’t want to do - something that he’d been so paranoid about early in their relationship that she’d occasionally wanted to kill him.
However, she also knew for a fact that over the last five or six years, he’d spent more time thinking about sex with her than her friend Micah had spent thinking about sex in general.
And that was saying something.
The visit with her parents lasted only slightly longer than she’d really intended it to, which was better than she’d expected. At the sound of the flat door closing behind her, Teddy stuck his head out of the bathroom. He was clad in just his trousers, and there was shaving cream on his face. “How’d it go?” he asked.
She came to stand in the doorway of the bathroom and shrugged as he ran a razor over his face. “It went,” she said. “My mother said that you were a ‘very nice boy.’”
He snorted and glanced at her in the mirror. “How are you feeling?” he asked as he bent down and splashed water over his face.
Victoire hesitated. The visit to her parents - and having to relive the whole thing again - had done exactly what she was afraid it would do.
“Vic?” She looked up. She wasn’t sure what he saw in her face, but judging from the concern in his eyes, he didn’t like it. He tossed the towel he’d just used to dry his face to the side and took several steps toward her. When he reached her, he held out his arms.
Teddy had learned a long time ago that sometimes, the last thing Victoire wanted when she was stressed or unhappy was to be touched.
Today was not one of those days. She stepped forward, and as his arms closed around her, she burst into tears.
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