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Hogsmeade-weekends were Teddy and Victoires’ weekends together.

Ever since their third year at Hogwarts the two best friends had visited the little village together on each given opportunity, just the pair of them, testing new sugar quills at Honeydukes, filling their pockets with Zonko’s merchandise and, in case of bad weather, chatting over each their steaming butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks.

Whilst Teddy usually found himself sharing Victoire’s attention with at least ten ardent admirers and a gaggle of giggling girls, he could almost always count on Victoire to reserve a few sunlit hours for him on Hogsmeade weekends, and, tough she would scarcely admit it, the Hogsmeade-weekends usually came as a much-needed break from the everyday popularity in the castle for Victoire. With Teddy there was no pretending, there was no need to; he already knew her through and through and provided her a chance to act on her every impulse, turning her into a seven-year old girl again as she ran from Honeydukes to Zonko’s with a bright smile on her face, or else grasped his hand when she thought she heard a sound from the Shrieking Shack which soon turned out to be the hoot of an owl rather than the wail of a ghoul.

And now this had happened.

Teddy Lupin was taking Dominque Weasley, her sister, to Hogsmeade, on a date, or at least that was what it had sounded like when Dominique had asked him by the breakfast table the the day before yesterday and Teddy had stuttered a blushing yes.

Victoire had pretended to have a bad head cold, faking a throaty voice from beyond the covers while Lindsay, Mary, Heather and the rest of her female flock had gotten dressed for Hogsmeade that morning. She was not exactly sure why, but she had wanted, for once, to be alone. Once she was sure the last stragglers were not returning to reapply lipstick or change into a new outfit, Victoire descended the staircase to find the common room crowded with first and second years, the only students without permission to spend every other weekend in Hogsmeade. This collided catastrophically with her plans for solitude by the fireplace and she wondered how she could forget that not all Hogwarts-students were allowed the privilege of leaving the castle on Hogsmeade-weekends.

“Respect for the elderly!”, Victoire snapped at a diminutive first-year, who responded at once by jumping aside to allow the part-veela her seat in the most comfortable chair in the room. Victoire fell into the preheated cushions, looking sullen.

Teddy was taking Dominique to Hogsmeade.

A feeling unfamiliar to Victoire welled up inside of her like hot lava.

She had always found her little sister to be rather a pest. She remembered vividly how Dominique had dogged her and Teddy before they had started school as though she was Victoire’s imperfect shadow, always one step behind them. Rather than complimenting and fawning over Victoire’s flawlessness, like Victoire’s Hogwarts entourage, Dominique could always be counted upon to pick out her shortcomings, like a painful reminder that nobody‘s perfect. Victoire suspected that this was why she had always, as far as she could remember, disliked her sister. Admittedly Dominique had cut her some slack after starting school. The two were hardly ever seen together at Hogwarts and Victoire thought that only a select few, Teddy amongst them, knew that they were sisters. There were enough Weasleys to go around, Victoire reckoned, and she sincerely hoped that people would assume Dominique was only a distant cousin of the inscrutable Victoire Weasley.

Dominique and Teddy?

What did Dom have that Victorie didn’t? Surely, the answer was nothing, though why, then, had Teddy chosen to spend the day with Dominque rather than her older and much more attractive sister?

As Victoire sat, mulling things over in her head, she noticed that she might not, after all, be the only person above second year left in the common room.

A group of seven red-clad boys of varying shapes and sizes had just come down the staircase leading from the boys’ dormitory. The group’s shepherd caught Victoire’s attention at once, leaving the group in his broad-shouldered shadow unnoticed. Simon Wood, a vision in scarlet Quidditch robes, was captain and keeper of the Gryffindor Quidditch team and, although he had no inkling of it, most definitely a worthy contestant for Victoire’s heart. Victoire admired the muscles that seemed to swell underneath his shirt for a few seconds, wondering if hooking up with him would suffice to make Teddy jealous, when her attention was dragged to one of the boys standing behind Simon.

James Potter, looking unnaturally pale, clutching a broom in his hands and looking up at Simon with apparent awe on his face.

“I thought we would start early this year, whipping you all into shape before the Quidditch match against Ravenclaw in November.”, Simon boomed, as he marched through the common room, making first and second years turn to stare. Victoire noticed a second-year who seized this opportunity to cheat at Wizard Chess, swiftly rearranging the pieces whilst his opponents’ pawns yelled in protest and one of them actually charged forward and bit the dishonest boy’s finger. “It may seem like a long way away now, but Quidditch-season will be here before you know it and I want all of you to be in the best, ruddy shape you’ve ever been in before that time comes. Understood?”

“Yes, sir!”, the rest of the team chanted in unison.

The team lined up before the portrait of the fat lady and began filing out through the portrait hole, James Potter making up the rear. He was the youngest on the team and by far the smallest, his head barely reaching up to the shoulder height of his teammates.

And it was then, as Victoire watched him moving his weight from one foot to the other, looking pleasurably excited and nervous at the same time, that the idea struck her. He looked almost extraordinarily like his father, her uncle, the famous Harry Potter. The only person he looked more alike was quite possibly his grandfather and namesake, James Potter the first, whom shared his hazel-colored eyes.

Silently as a cat Victoire snuck up on her cousin until she was standing half a foot behind him, then she hissed his name softly to make him turn.

James jumped a foot into the air, hit a one of the beaters with the handle of his broom and then spun around to face her.

“Victoire?” James sounded surprised and shot a precautionary glance at the rest of the common room to make sure he was the only James in the vicinity. When he realized that he was, in fact, the person to whom she was speaking, he finally turned his undivided attention upon his older cousin. “What do you want?”, he asked, his tone and expression both mistrustful.

Victoire raised her eyebrows, taking a mental note to remind aunt Ginny to teach the bloke some manners before covering her voice in honey. “I was wondering…”, she caught herself fluttering her eyelashes seductively at him and forced herself to stop, before rumors arose that Victoire Weasley was a pedophile guilty of incest. She coughed dryly, then smiled sweetly down at James in what she hoped was a sisterly fashion. James looked impatient, the last of his teammates having just squeezed out of the portrait hole.

“Listen, I have to go to practice-”, James said, making to follow the rest of the team when Victoire grasped him by the shoulder and looked at him with an expression he had never seen there before. It was not arrogant, bribing or gloating, but pleading, and desperately so.

“I was wondering… whether I could burrow your grandfather’s cloak for the day?”

***


“You look… nice.”, Teddy muttered awkwardly, having no idea how to treat this situation, having no previous dating-experience to boast about.

His feelings for Dominique had up until two days ago been entirely elder-brotherly and up until the day before yesterday he had been certain that she had returned his feelings in a younger-sisterly way.

“Thank you!”, Dominique beamed, taking an extra twirl before him in the entrance hall so that he could admire her attire from all angles.

She really did look nice, Teddy reckoned, once he plucked up the courage to shoot her a second glance. She looked nice in a sort of uncultivated way, very unlike the way her older sister seemed to radiate beauty. Dominique was wearing a pleated skirt together with a tight-fitting cashmere sweater the exact, dark blue color of her eyes. Her thick, honey-colored hair fell loosely down her shoulders and gave her a rather untamed look; a sharp contrast to Victoire’s usually long, sleek and lustrous hairdo .

From Dominique’s ears two silvery hoops dangled disharmoniously as she tilted her head and stared up into his face. “Should we get going?”

“Ehm… Yes.”, Teddy said, coughing to cover up his momentary stream of consciousness. “Yes, we should. Definitely.”

Teddy wondered for a moment whether she expected them to walk down in the village hand in hand or not, though was rather relieved when she started to talk while gesticulating clumsily. “So, it’s a nice day, isn‘t it? I love fall, how about you?” She indicated the cloudless sky, then tucked a few strands of hair behind her ear and glanced over at him expectantly.

“Autumn is nice.”, Teddy agreed, dumbly.

“So…”, Dominique said, obviously struggling for something to say. Small beads of sweat appeared on her forehead repeatedly every time she used her sleeve to wipe them away. Teddy, however, was far too preoccupied with his own thoughts to notice. His attention was a long ways away, with Victoire, whom he had barely seen for the past two days. He wondered where she was, if he and Dominique would bump into her in Hogsmeade or if she had blocked herself in her dormitory, pouting. He could imagine her lush lips, rosy in color, soft and wet and searing against his…

He noticed Dominique looking at him, expectantly, as though she had just asked him a question, and Teddy realized he hadn’t heard a word of what she had been saying. “Umm, what?”, he asked guiltily, shaking his head, shaking away the vision of Victoire and replacing it with Dominique’s rather stern look. He had a feeling of having been busted, as though Dominique could perform leniency and had just read his Victoire-infected mind.

“Nothing.”, Dominique answered, in a voice that had lost some of its shine. “Nothing at all.”

***


Victoire watched the pair from underneath James’ cloak. It was a good day, the sky was blue and cloudless and the sun was warm. September meant that the path students followed from the castle to the village of Hogsmeade was covered by a carpet of crisp, dead leaves. Victoire might not be visible, but to her annoyance she was still audible, which meant that she had to keep at a distance from Teddy and Dominique and found herself unable to eavesdrop on their scarce conversation. She trailed after them at a safe distance, her eyes shooting bolts of lightning at them whenever one turned to talk to the other. She hoped they would feel the stings, though knew they couldn't. She debated on whipping out her wand, playing a few tricks on Dominique such as making her trip or else making her skirt fly upwards, although she could think of both these mishaps leading to unneccesary body-contact between her sister and Teddy, and as she definitely did not want that she decided to leave them be for the time, though ideas kept cropping up as she walked along in their wake.

They reached the main street of Hogsmeade at last. Victoire had never before appreciated just how great the distance between Hogwarts and Hogsmeade actually was: the path had always seemed quick and easy when she had strolled down it with Teddy by her side.

Victoire watched her sister’s profile through narrowed eyes and her fingernails dug into her palms as she saw Teddy turning to debate with Dominique where they should go first. After a minute or so they seemed to land on Honeydukes and Victoire followed suit as the two entered the sweetshop together.

Mercifully the shop was so crowded with students Victoire could throw caution to the wind, sneaking up on Teddy and Dominique until she was breathing down their necks. The air inside Honeydukes was so warm, toasty and sweet-smelling anyway, she rather doubted they would be able to sense her presence a few inches from their privacy.

“I love these!”, Victoire heard Dominique say, rattling a box of every flavor beans.

“Oh, me too!”, Teddy said excitedly. “I remember last year Victoire got one that tasted like vomit. She wouldn’t eat for a week-”

Victoire saw, to her delight, the rippling grimace that very fleetly passed over Dominique’s face. “Weird.”, she said, placing the box back on it’s shelf and turning back to Teddy. “You would have thought she would have gotten accustomed to the taste by now.”

Victoire was on the verge of kicking her sister in the shin, though before she had the time, or Teddy the time to answer, Dominique had taken hold of his sleeve and pointed straight at Victoire. “Look!”, she said excitedly, grinning, jumping up and down.

For one horrible moment Victoire thought her cloak had slipped off her, until she realized that Dominique was pointing straight through her, at a display of fizzing whizzbees in a range of new flavors. Victoire barely had the time to dive out of the way as Dominique lounged forwards and ten minutes later the three of them made their way out of the sweetshop, Teddy and Dominique clutching each their box of fizzing whizzbees and a fresh supply of sugarquills.

“These actually make you hover an entire foot above the ground.”, Dominique said interestedly, studying the box whizbees.

“Where do you want to go now?”, Teddy asked her, and Victoire noticed that he looked slightly more relaxed now than he had done on the way down from the castle. His shoulders were not quite as tense and he was actually smiling now, his cheeks pleasurably tinted with red from the heat in Honeydukes.

“You pick.”, Dominique said, stuffing the whizbees into her bag.

“Ehm…”, Teddy said slowly, regaining some of the nervous twitchiness as he looked around, seemingly for inspiration. “Have you ever been to Madame Puddifoot’s?”

Victoire gaped and actually cleaned out her ears with the tips of her index fingers, sure she had not heard him correctly, though by the time she was done Dominique and Teddy had already set off in the direction in which Victoire knew that the teashop in question lay. She could not believe it. Madame Puddifoot’s had a distinct reputation of being a couple’s place, meaning a place where couples went snog in public without being frowned upon.

Teddy was taking Dominique to Madame Puddifoot’s? Victoire had never been there herself, though she had been dying to go ever since Mary had gotten back from her date with Eric Finch-Fletchley there the previous year. From what Victoire heard there had been pink and white confetti strewn around by live cherubs fluttering a few feet below the ceiling. The walls, Mary had heard from Madame Puddifoot herself, were infused with amortentia, which resulted in the shop smelling accordingly to what attracted every individual in there. Victoire had been hitning heavily that she would like to go, hoping that Teddy would pick up the hint and take her there accordingly, if not to snog her then at least for a spot of tea and an experience to remember, but the most exciting thing he ever suggested when the two of them were in Hogsmeade together was to hang around the Hog’s Head and pet the goats there.

Victoire’s lip curled into a sneer as she watched Teddy holding the door for Dominique before entering after her. Above the door hung a sign which read, in spirally golden letters, ‘Madame Puddifoot’s’. Victoire entered and only narrowly avoided walking into Teddy, who had stopped dead on the threshold and hoisted a skeptic expression upon his pale face.

“Come on.”, Dominique said, catching sight of his expression and laughing. “It was your idea, now come on!” She pulled him by the sleeve as she had done in Honeydukes and dragged him along to a table in a corner.

Victoire breathed in the air. Mary had been right, she reckoned. It was one of the most pleasant scents she had ever inhaled. It smelled like jasmine flowers and hairspray. Like salty sea air on a summer’s day by Shell Cottage. Like Teddy’s aftershave on September the first, when she had kissed him for the first time...

Her throat constricted, the scent suddenly overwhelming her, and yet she held her breath and pushed on through until she reached the table by which sat her best friend with her sister. She positioned herself right beside their table, so close, in fact, she was afraid either of them would hear her breathing. However, the tea-shop was so full of chattering and clattering, babbling and giggling that unless she was within a few inches of their hushed voices she would not be able to overhear their whispered conversation. However, the conversation had yet to begin when Madame Puddifoot came bustling along the aisle, only narrowly avoiding to trample Victoire as in her eagerness to chat up the newcomers.

“Oh, my dears, how lovely of you to stop by!”, she cooed, her twinkling eyes taking them in. “First time here? I don’t think I’ve seen either of you here before.”

Teddy and Dominique grumbled their agreement, Teddy’s hair flaring pink for a moment, though that could easily be a trick of the lights or the horrid, cotton candy-colored walls. Victoire listened as they ordered each their tea and received them within a minute, a fat cherub floating hastily by to shower them in confetti before he fluttered along, leaving them seemingly alone at last.

Teddy swallowed hard and began shoveling spoonfuls of sugar into his pinkish tea, seemingly avoiding Dominique’s gaze. “It smells good in here, doesn’t it?”, he remarked distractedly, without looking at her.

Dominique had yet to touch her tea. She was staring at Teddy, unblinkingly. “Yeah.”, she said, and a slight crease appeared between her eyebrows. “What does it smell like, you think?”

Teddy’s tea threatened to overflow the cup which held it, forcing him to stop the act of sugaring it. “Like… I dunno.”, he said, lifting the cup between his hands and taking a sip of the tea. He smacked his lips together thoughtfully, looking out over the room and ignoring the snogging couples seated by the tables. “It smells like Herbology, kind of. Like plants and wet soil. And it smells like strawberries, and fresh bakeries… Oh, and sea breeze.” He stopped his ramblings and took another hasty sip of tea.

“You love her, don’t you?”

The boldness of this statement earned Dominique a spatter of sugary, pink tea. A few droplets still clung to her eyelashes after she had wiped her face with her napkin, Teddy meanwhile shouting apologies and leaning over the table, attempting to dab at her with his own napkin. A few of the other couples in the shop had turned to look at the comical scene, some of them snorting into their tea cups.

Dominique slapped Teddy’s clumsy hands away. “Don’t.”, she said, her voice sounding oddly hollow, her eyes oddly blank. Whilst she had previously not blinked at all she was now making up for it by blinking continously, her eyes flashing open and shut like a flickering light bulb on the verge of going out. “Answer the question, please.”

“What question?”, said Teddy innocently, and Victoire was sure that it wasn’t a trick of the light this time. His hair had definitely turned pink, the exact same shade of the confetti nestled in the roots of it, courtesy of the fat cherub now bobbing above a snogging couple in the far corner.

Victoire's heart was suddenly beating very fast, dizzyingly fast, in fact, and she leaned on the edge of the table for support as she looked up at Teddy’s face. He had a prominent jaw line from this angle and Victoire noticed a stubbly area which he must have forgotten to shave that morning. She saw his flickering, dark brown eyes, the eyes that had so often admired her. She looked down at his hands upon the table, his fingers thicker and longer than hers, yet nevertheless slender and delicate as they wriggled in apparent unease. His lips, thin, pink, a small cleft in his bottom lip that she had never really noticed until just now…

“You love her, don’t you?”, Dominique demanded and her eyes were sparkling with tears now. “Victoire? You love her.”

Victoire held her breath now, gazing up at Teddy, the world standing silently still for hours on end. Then he opened his lips, closed them again, repeated this gesture for a moment, resembling a fish out of water. Victoire felt a twinge of annoyance, followed by a jolt of panic as she tried to draw breath.

She couldn’t breathe.

She opened and closed her mouth, as Teddy had done a moment before, yet no air filled her lungs. She was left gasping, soundlessly, as the panic took hold of her and she felt herself lose control of her own body. Her arms flailed, one of her hands catching the cloak and ripping it off in one fleeting movement to reveal her sitting crouched on the floor next to Teddy and Dominiques’ table, pink-faced and open-mouthed.

She heard several gasps, Teddy and Dominiques’ prominent amongst them.

“Vicky!”, Teddy shouted, but tears were flowing freely from Victoire’s eyes now and her mouth was an open hole, like an 'O', begging for the air that wouldn’t come though she needed it so badly.

She fell over on the floor, heard a sound of breaking china, soles of shoes squeaking against the wooden floorboard and then… Nothing.

Nothing at all.

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