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Chapter 1 : Long Nights
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She finally reached her front door as the wind picked up and whirled the snow all around her. Cold, icy fingers reached into her purse and fumbled for her key. She brushed the snow from the lock and then just stood there. Her shoulders sagged as her forehead gently fell forward to rest on the door. The tears came almost immediately, followed by small sobs.
It was several seconds before she realised there was a hand on her shoulder, she snapped her head toward the man standing behind her. The crack of her neck pierced through the silence that her sobs had left. Warm brown eyes met her own.
“Victoire.” He whispered. She should’ve known that he’d follow her, he’d never leave her alone, not now. Not even if she screamed at him to go, to be happy with his godfather and their family on Christmas Eve. Even if she screamed at him not to join her in the fruitless search that she knew she’d have to continue.
She couldn’t bring herself to say something, she didn’t know what to say. Teddy’s presence brought comfort, comfort which she didn’t want, not now. All she wanted was to sit by her dusty fireplace, staring into the endless ash pit, doing nothing. Really, she didn't even want to do that. The only thing she wanted to do was continue her search, but she was tired and her search so far was just as she had expected: futile.
All his comfort did was bring back the shaking sobs that she had struggled to control. The last time Victorie had seen him, last night, she had been happy. Truly happy, before her sister’s shriek, a shriek that she knew she would eventually have to face.
Now, with Teddy’s unwanted presence, she was taken back to that moment, her sister’s fury and heartache. Teddy’s arms wrapped around her waist and pulled her to him, back to reality. Her arms were flailing wildly, but Teddy was an Auror for a reason, and he easily caught her arms, guiding them to a safe place, resting on his own chest.
Victorie’s sobs once again filled the silence. As she hit his chest repeatedly, Teddy moved one of his hands from the small of her back to her shoulders, as he tried to stop the shaking. The sobs racked her whole body, her shoulders still quivering uncontrollably, despite Teddy’s strong grip. Teddy felt his own eyes well up with tears, he couldn’t bear to see his fiancé like this, especially just a day after his proposal.
She had been so happy then. Her eyes dancing, the fire in her eyes lit with elation. She hadn’t expected Dominique to act so drastically. Her whole family, including herself, had known that Dominique's relationship with her boyfriend, Alex, had been unsteady. She had been waiting for him to propose, however earlier on the night of Teddy’s own proposal, Dominique had found out that Alex didn’t want to marry her. Teddy still remembered her face as she barged through the door. Her eyes, they still haunted him. He didn’t know how Victoire put up with it.
Victoire’s thoughts also wandered to last night. The empty look in her sister’s eyes hadn’t left her mind, not once during her whole search. When Dominique had found out that Alex didn’t want that type of commitment, she was broken. Victoire felt the shivers travel down her spine as she remembered her sister’s clutch of desperation as she held on to her sister. It reminded her of her own grip on Teddy.
Teddy didn’t want Dominique to find out about his proposal, not then anyway. That’s why he had pulled Victorie out of her family’s usual pre-Christmas radio time and taken her into his guest room. He had proposed to her there, he didn’t mean for her sister to find out.
‘If only Ted hadn’t proposed,’ she thought, ’then, we wouldn’t be in this situation.’ But, she then realised that it wasn’t his fault. He had tried his best, taking her into his room. But how was anyone to know that Dominique would need to go to the loo at that exact time? How was Teddy to know that she would choose the guest loo, the one past Teddy’s room, therefore meaning that she heard Victoire’s response to Teddy’s proposal; a ‘yes’, of course.
Teddy didn’t think that Dominique would do what she did.
“How could you do this to me, Vic?!” Teddy and Victoire both snapped their heads towards a distraught Dominique, standing in the doorway, eyeing Vic and the small diamond on her ring finger with disgust.
“No, Dommie,” Victoire’s eyes were wide with shock as she used her sister's childhood nickname.
“What? What are you going to say, Victoire?” She spat out her older sister's name, a mocking tone seeped into her voice. “'I’m sorry, I don’t want to marry Ted?’” Victoire looked like she’d been slapped. She opened her mouth, but no words came out. Teddy realised that now was his time to step in.
“Dom, please, we didn’t want to offend you.”
“What, Ted? Offend? Yeah, because proposing to Vic on the same day that my boyfriend dumped me for even bringing up the topic of marriage, wouldn’t offend me at all! Hope you noticed the sarcasm, Teddy dear.” Her look was a manic look of cruelty. But even Teddy could see the heartbreak behind the cold mask. Victorie let go of the hand Teddy had grasped during his proposal, and wiped away the tears that had leaked during her sister's shrieking. She then reached out towards Dominique.
Sure, Teddy had expected Dominique to slap his fiancé’s hand away or look at it in disgust. But he could have never predicted that she’d take one look at it, turn around and run out of both Ted’s bedroom and the Delacour-Weasley’s front door. The next day was Christmas Eve, and something told both Victoire and Teddy that Dominique wouldn’t be there.
They were right. Victoire replayed that memory again and again in her mind, her heart sinking. The echo of the door slamming and her maman’s surprised shriek resounded in her eyes. She felt a few more tears leak out of her eyes and onto Teddy’s shirt. It was then that Victoire realised how soaked Teddy’s shirt actually was, the sopping wet material stuck to her cheek, countering the blood that was rushing to them.
Teddy felt more tears seep through the material of his shirt and wrapped his arms around his fiancé, held her tighter and pulled her closer. Her head rested softly on his shoulder and he slowly started stroking her hair, knowing it would comfort her. He knew the amount of pain she would have felt, looking for her sister all evening on Christmas Eve.
Victoire pulled away from him, rested her back against the door and slid down to the ground, not caring that they were both on her front porch. Teddy sat down next to her, softly placing a hand over her own that was resting on the damp wood of her porch. The same hand that was wrapped around the old photo and her house key. Snatching her hand from under Teddy’s, she held it up to him, her palm facing up.
Once again, Teddy felt his eyes tear up at the sight of the crumpled photograph. He reached out and gingerly plucked it out of her palm, which then tightly closed around the key. Teddy smoothed the photograph that had crumpled in her tight grip. It depicted a glowing Dominique, on her graduation day. It was the same photograph that Victoire kept in her purse, beside the one of Teddy and herself.
Teddy peered at the photo. The look that he directed towards the photo reminded Victoire of the ones the strangers had given her as she walked up to them, begging them to look at the photo and tell her whether they’d seen Dominique. Her beautiful baby sister. None of them had seen her. She had looked everywhere, near the blocks around Dominique’s apartment and around the fashion store for which her sister designed. She had even tried around Hogwarts; she had tried every place she could think of.
Her hair hung in damp strands around her face, due to the snowflakes that had occasionally fallen during her search. Her jeans were wet, even through the thick leather boots, due to the many inches of pure white snow that covered Britain at Christmastime. Victoire had asked everyone, interrupting their holiday festivities with their families, their dancing eyes were smouldered by looks of pity when she held up the old photo. But, her search efforts were in vain.
‘Of course they were in vain!’ She thought, bitterly. Dominique was smart enough to make sure she covered her tracks well. Victoire had known the search was hopeless from the beginning but, her heart had tried to trick her rational brain.
Her tears had stopped, Teddy couldn’t help but feel relieved, maybe she was feeling better. It wasn’t like his fiancé to express heartbreak and shed tears so willingly. Normally, she put up a fight. But Teddy did understand, Dominique and Louis were her whole life. She had done everything for them; went to every single one of Louis’ quidditch matches and made sure to discuss Dominique’s fashion designs with her at least once a month. But, the relief soon disappeared as he saw her eyes- they reflected her sister's from last night; empty and heartbroken.
Victoire tried to imagine what would be happening at that exact moment if her sister hadn’t run away. They would probably be sitting at their maman’s place tonight, listening to the radio; a combination of both muggle and wizarding Christmas carols. They would have their stockings hung up and milk and cookies on a table near the Christmas tree. It was childish, but it was a Delacour-Weasley family tradition that Dominique insisted they keep, even after all the children had long become teenagers. Surprisingly, no tears welled up in her eyes at this thought. She just sat there, wishing with all her heart that Dominique would just turn up.
The silence brought Victoire attention to the weather. Dominique had loved the snow. She would always take her hot chocolate outside, forcing Victoire to join her. Victoire preferred staying inside, watching the golden flames instead of the frigid snowflakes, but her sister was too big a force to be reckoned with. Together, they would sit outside, talking about everything; boys, clothes, people Dominique didn’t like, until the falling snow turned their hot chocolate cold. Right now, it was perfect weather to do so, the snowflakes were falling slowly. The white blanket of snow contrasted heavily with the black quilt that was the night. 'Dominique would have loved it,’ Victoire thought bitterly, ‘if she was just here.'
An ear-splitting crack broke the silence that Victoire's tears had left, breaking her out of the temporary spell that was the weather. Teddy and her immediately rose to their feet, the photograph was still in his hand and the grooves of the house key pressed into hers. They were met with the tear stained face of Victoire’s maman, Fleur. Fleur only had to say two words before Victoire's sobs of joy broke the silence.
A/N: Hey Guys! So, this is a little (lot) different from what I usually write, so feedback's appreciated :)
Like It? Love it? Hate it? Little grey box at the bottom is waiting to be fed ;)
Also, thanks to my super awesome beta- BLONDEbehaviour for being tolerant of my many typos and vocal mishaps!
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