‘Lupin, there’s somebody downstairs to see you.’
The healer with the message had already left, dragging his cloud of resentment with him, before Teddy could ask him who it was. At first he was rather bewildered as to who would be visiting him at St. Mungo’s, but once he considered it, it could have been anyone. He hadn’t seen any of the Weasley’s at all in the past week and that occurrence was rare enough to warrant an impromptu visit from any of them.
Teddy brushed aside the admittance forms he had been filling in and made to leave, before quickly sitting back down and pulling the sheaf of half completed papers back towards him.
It could be Dominique there to visit him.
He was still much too mortified to face her even if it was seven days after the incident he now referred to as his reason to swear off alcohol forever. What sort of idiot told a girl they loved them, never mind doing so whilst completely smashed off their face? Teddy was now reasonably convinced that no man had ever told someone they loved them. It was a romantic fantasy dreamt up by a crowd of hormonal females used to trick men into embarrassing themselves. Real men didn’t need to say poncey things like ‘I love you’, they just had women falling at their feet anyway. It was an unnecessary evil.
Nevertheless, he had said it, but this was something he could talk his way out of. His unexplained absence was would be a little harder to talk away, but not impossible. The thought of confronting a possible very angry Dominique had already set Teddy’s muscles into erratic spasms, which he noticed when he caught himself viciously stabbing the desk in front of him with his pen.
He was just going to have to man up and deal with the crappy situation he had found himself in. For the second time, he rose from his chair, scraping it along the floor in an attempt to get out from the desk he was sitting at. He had to edge himself along the wall to make it to the door of the cupboard sized office he had been assigned to do administrating work in, but after squeezing himself past the filing cabinet and out the door, which only opened halfway due to lack of space, he made it out into the corridor.
He resolved to walk as slowly down to the reception area as possible, but that plan didn’t work out quite as well as he had hoped. Even after he walked at a snails pace, took the stairs rather than the lift and decided to talk to as many portraits as he could on the way, it didn’t take him any more than ten minutes to get to the ground floor of the hospital.
He walked straight towards the Medi-Witch’s station in the reception are in order to furtively scan the room before Dominique spotted him. He looked everywhere, but there wasn’t a single blonde in sight who had hair as bright as hers. She wasn’t here. And just as he was beginning to relax he caught the eye of a red-head who was looking directly at him.
Oh Merlin no, he thought. Not her. Anyone but her.
Unfortunately, there was no chance of escape now because she had already bolted towards him from her seat, and so Teddy gave up and let Molly yank him towards a pair of empty chairs.
‘I’ve been looking all over for you!’ Molly declared as she collapsed into one of the chairs, with the feigned exhaustion of a woman who had been on a trek through the desert without water.
Teddy was still rather stunned, but managed to choke out a response, ‘Where were you looking for me?’
‘Your house… Here… Everywhere!’
‘Ah, of course.’
Over exaggeration was something Molly was prone to. Teddy had just enough time to gather his wits and take the chair beside her before she attacked him with a barrage of questions.
‘Where have you been?’
‘About,’ Teddy replied defensively. ‘I’ve been busy volunteering and getting sorted with a flat and stuff for September.’
‘Too busy to come to Dominique’s birthday party, or even apologise for not showing up?’
Teddy ruffled his hair uncomfortably and stared at the ground. It was the height of humiliation to be berated like this by a fifteen year old girl. At this point he would have paid a hundred galleons to have Dominique here instead of Molly.
‘I have no idea what you’re playing at, but you’re a selfish git and you know it, Teddy.’
‘Just hang on a second! It’s not my fault I couldn’t make it to the party. They called me in to volunteer here; there was a big fire and they needed all the help they could get.’
Teddy’s attempt to take the moral high ground may have succeeded if Dom hadn’t told Molly all about the kitchen episode.
‘That is the most barefaced lie I’ve ever heard,’ she said, her voice laced with disdain. ‘I know what happened. I was just giving you a chance to explain for yourself.’
Molly had a way about her that meant she could either make you feel on top of the world or take you down about ten pegs, and being on the receiving end of the latter was not a pleasant feeling. Teddy had been reduced to counting the tiles on the floor as Molly preached about his behaviour when he was saved by some sort of miracle.
‘Is everything okay over here?’
Molly turned to face the attractive looking girl who had posed the question. She was looking at Teddy enquiringly, but Molly flashed her a sweet smile and cut off Teddy’s reply with one of her own. She thought she recognised this girl, but couldn’t quite place her.
‘Oh, yes, thank you. Everything’s perfect… Lovely hospital you have here,’ she added when the girl, who she now realised she had seen in the line up of Teddy’s potential girlfriends in The Quibbler, showed a reluctance to leave.
‘Cassie, this is my cousin Molly.’
Cassie’s face flooded with recognition and a friendly smile graced her lips; she had heard all about Molly Weasley over the summer and had learnt enough to know that the girl in front of her wasn’t one to be messed with.
‘What’s he done then?’ Cassie said, folding her arms and turning her back on Teddy to face Molly.
‘Well,’ said Molly, relishing in the opportunity to share what had happened with someone else, ‘have you noticed that Teddy has been spending rather a lot of time here recently? I mean, more than usual?’
‘Molly! Shut up for once in your life.’
Molly merely raised her eyebrow at Teddy as Cassie walked a few steps to retrieve an empty chair and dragged it over beside Molly, before turning to Teddy to deliver a reprimand of her own.
‘Don’t you try and get yourself out of trouble, Lupin. Molly and I are going to have a chat.’
Teddy groaned loudly and rubbed his hands over his face in defeat. Women were impossible. They never even considered what would happen if they didn’t tell each other everything. To them privacy was completely unnecessary, unless the issue involved them, in which case it was vital. Teddy’s distress had caused him to miss the start of the conversation, which was in mid flow when he tuned back in.
‘He turned up drunk?!’
‘Yes, I know! He’s a complete bloody prat, but that’s not the best of it.’
‘There’s more? He turned up trashed and three hours late and then made a scene?’ Cassie asked, disgusted.
‘I’m still here, you know,’ Teddy murmured to no effect.
The girls had managed to huddle even closer as they talked, although they hadn’t appeared to move at any point. Despite the fact that the conversation was about Teddy it was clear that he was excluded from it.
‘He knocked down a whole plate rack in the kitchen, mentally scarred Louis and thoroughly pissed Dominique off,’ Molly said scandalised. ‘Then, now listen to this! Victoire was told to bring him home, which she did, but turned into a two hour long job.’
‘Nothing happened between them did it?’ Cassie asked flabbergasted.
‘No!’ Teddy exclaimed.
‘I haven’t got a clue,’ Molly said ignoring Teddy’s declaration of innocence. ‘Victoire was awfully quiet on it. Wouldn’t say a word about where she’d been or what had happened.’
‘Personally, I don’t think anything happened,’ Cassie said to Molly, before proceeding to swivel round in her chair and address Teddy. ‘At least I hope it didn’t, because that would be one hell of a cock up, even from you.’
‘Oh sweet Merlin! I’ve already told you, both of you, that nothing happened.’
‘There’s no need to get so snappy with us,’ Molly remarked, scowling.
Teddy had had more than enough. He already knew that he had acted like a prat, but to have these two females feasting over all the gory details as if it was one of those cheesy muggle soaps was too much to bear.
He rose from his seat abruptly and started off down the corridor, however, he didn’t make it very far before he felt a small, but rather determined hand clutching his arm.
‘What in the name of Merlin could you possibly want now, Molly?’
‘I swear I’m not going to wind you up again, but we’ve still got to talk. Is there somewhere we can go?’ she asked, more hesitantly than she had spoken previously.
‘No, here’ll do. I haven’t got much time.’
Teddy propped himself up against the wall, leaning heavily on his left shoulder and waited for Molly, whose hands were fidgeting tirelessly. Suddenly, as if she’d been hit with an idea, she looked up into Teddy’s face, her eyes bright.
“Hypothetically, if she was your girlfriend, what would you rate Cassie out of ten?”
“What? I haven’t got a clue.” Teddy said in exasperation.
“But hypothetically, Teddy! Come on give me a number.”
“Well… Ten I suppose,” he admitted grudgingly.
“Right, that wasn’t so hard, was it? And on what grounds would that be? ” Molly asked, inching closer as if to press Teddy into answering.
“Merlin, what is this, the Spanish Inquisition?”
“No, it’s a friendly chat between friends. You can’t keep secrets when you’re friends like you and me, Ted. Now why are you giving her a perfect score?”
“Because if she was my girlfriend I’d have to like her a lot, wouldn’t I? I’m not going to give her a flipping three.”
“So, you’re saying that if she wasn’t your girlfriend you’d give her a three? Like, right now, you’d give her a three?”
“I never said that!”
“You might as well have. But anyway, if you were going out with Vic would you give her a ten as well?”
“I’m not going out with Vic, Molly,” he sighed.
“I know, but would you give her a ten?”
“Yes, I’d give her a bloody ten, are you happy now?”
“Not really. What about Dom? She’s lovely. Would you give her a ten too?”
“In the spirit of fairness, yes, I’d give her a ten.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“What’s what supposed to mean?”
“In the spirit of fairness,” she mimicked. “Does that mean if we weren’t being fair you’d give her less than a ten or more than a ten?”
“It doesn’t mean anything, it’s just a saying!”
“Do you love her, then?”
“Jesus Christ, who?!”
“So you love someone?”
“When did I say that?”
“Well, if you didn’t love anyone you’d have said no, but you asked who I was talking about. Think about it, Ted.” Teddy watched as Molly bounced off down the corridor, looking as genuinely pleased with herself as someone could look from behind. He had to admit that he’d rather she did that anyway, because she had been confusing him beyond all belief.
“Screw you, Molly Weasley,” he growled.
Teddy Lupin had no idea what he was doing here. The only explanation he could think of was that Molly had managed to possess him or put him under the Imperius Curse, or something along those lines. Why else would he be standing outside Shell Cottage at twenty to seven in the evening intent on seeing the girl he had been avoiding for a week?
He had almost definitely been possessed.
His belief that he had been only increased with each step that brought him closer to the front door. His steps were hesitant and he half turned around on more than one occasion, ready to sprint off towards the apparition barrier. But he didn’t. He just kept getting closer and closer until he stood directly opposite the house. He was just raising his hand to knock on the door when it unexpectedly swung open.
His hand was still suspended in mid-air and his heart seemed to have lurched into his throat the second Dominique threw the door open.
‘D’you want something?’
‘Uh… Umm… Yeah?’
‘Right, we’ll talk out here. You can’t come in, I’m going out soon.’
Dominique stepped out of the doorway, pulling the door shut after her and causing Teddy to take a few faltering steps backwards. She then proceeded to walk straight towards the edge of the cliff that her house was built on, whilst Teddy spluttered after her. As she got closer the cliff edge without showing any signs of slowing down Teddy was able to get enough sense out of his mouth to try and stop the obvious death wish.
‘What are you playing at?!’
‘I’m not playing at anything,’ Dominique said without turning to look at him.
‘For the love of Merlin, just stop! Throwing yourself off a cliff isn’t going to help anyone.’
At this point Teddy was running to catch up with her and was beginning to seriously panic just as Dominique began to slow her pace, lowered herself onto the ground and shimmied over so that her legs were suspended over the edge.
Dom merely looked round at Teddy pointedly and he exhaled loudly before manoeuvring to sit beside Dom on the edge of the cliff, waves battering the rock beneath them.
‘I’m sorry, Dominique. Really, really sorry.’
‘You were a bit of a bastard, you know,’ she said.
Dominique hadn’t looked at Teddy from the moment he had sat down, but had instead kept her face looking forward, gazing out towards the seemingly endless expanse of sea in front of her.
Teddy looked at the portion of her face he could see, ‘I know. A lot more than a bit of a bastard really.’
‘Mmmm,’ Dom murmured her agreement.
‘I’ve been a complete git this past week. I just thought that if I didn’t see you it would somehow mean that none of this had happened because we didn’t have to deal with it.’
‘It’s all water under the bridge now. We can forget all about it.’
She was still gazing out towards the horizon as if it had her under some sort of hypnotic trance, and although Teddy was relieved that she wasn’t as angry as she had appeared at first he was worried by how disconnected she was. He could think of no reason other than that she was uncomfortable being with him after his hasty confessions of love, but he wasn’t quite sure how to fix it.
‘Look, about what I said to you in the kitchen…’
‘Oh, don’t worry about that either, it’s all forgotten,’ she said as she hauled herself back from the edge of the cliff and scrambled to her feet. ‘I’ve got to go back in now, I have stuff to do.’
Teddy watched Dom’s retreating figure with a mixture of confusion and determination. She obviously didn’t even want to think about his behaviour, but he couldn’t let it go. He’d made a fool of himself just to tell her how he felt, and no matter what happened he didn’t want it to go to waste. He mimicked her earlier action of rising from the spot where they were sitting and stood opposite her rapidly escaping figure.
‘Is that what you want to do? Forget about it?’ he called after her.
Dom turned to face him, a small smile forced onto her lips, but lacking somewhat at each corner. Each side of her mouth seemed to be slowly dragging downwards as if they weighed too much for her face to support. Teddy was already walking towards her as she replied.
‘Well, I don’t think rehashing the details will do any good. It’s fine. We’ll just leave it alone and get on with things.’
‘Actually, I think ignoring it will only make things harder,’ Teddy said looking into Dom’s eyes earnestly.
‘For who? I mean, I doubt you want to talk about your drunken confession of love and I certainly don’t want to.’
The pair was now only about ten metres away from Shell Cottage; Teddy appeared to be fighting a losing battle, as Dominique’s hair was expertly whipped by the wind to obscure her face.
‘We’re not children anymore, it’s not a matter of what we want and don’t want to talk about - we’ve got to talk about this.’
‘You want a discussion?’ Dominique said, flyaway strands of hair smacking her face, before she swept them away behind her ear. ‘You got drunk, you told me you loved me and then you pissed off for a week while I had the pleasure of reading articles about how drunk you had been that day. What is there to discuss?’
‘Dom, I was telling the truth.’
‘What on earth are you on about?’
‘This,’ Teddy said, inclining his head tenderly towards hers and stealing a kiss from her shocked mouth.
Dominique had been expecting anything and everything but this and she stood rooted to the spot, completely stunned. It was hard to resist him for long, and although she didn’t know why she soon found herself caught up in the moment and caught up in Teddy Lupin.
They broke apart, Dom breathing more heavily than he. She didn’t quite know what to say, but the gobsmacked look on Teddy’s face as he stared at a point a few inches to her right rendered it unnecessary. Dominique whipped her head over her shoulder to see what he was looking at and the scene couldn’t have been much worse if she’d broken a mirror and gained seven years bad luck.
Adam was standing there bristling. They’d been going out that evening, the likelihood of them doing so now seemed closer to zero than it was to ‘slim’. Dominique turned to look at Teddy once more, observing at him with eyes drowning in turmoil, before sprinting off towards the boy who seemed to be looking at her with new eyes of his own.
Nothing ever went as planned.
A/N: They finally kissed! Took a while =P, but it's not all rosy...
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