Time passes. He comes and goes with the strips of sun that fall and flee. Autumn is at its peak now – birdsongs string through the woods. They are light on water, breath on fog, footprints on sand and all the things that could have been their own. There is something about the songbirds; their birdsongs elicit something visceral from her in the morning. They seem as though they force even time to stop and admire their simplicity.
The early mornings and the songbirds have been making her think. Lately, Teddy has been flitting in and out of her thoughts -- and more so than usual. She remembers their times together in Hogwarts and them together just a few weeks ago and wonders if that much has changed at all. She's heard from her mother who heard from Aunt Fleur that Teddy's left Victoire and feels like she's been holding her breath for ten years without realizing it. And she thinks tentatively perhaps now, she can learn to exhale.
She isn’t in love with him. But she could be and secretly, she wants the chance to know.
She sees him sometimes – here and there. Laughing with Lucy. Dancing with Dominique. Talking loudly to Albus. He is always full of life. Barely a few weeks have passed since Victoire and he is again brimming with new vigour. She knows he sees his life as before Victoire and after Victoire, but one day, she will change him.
Teddy and Molly. To her, it sounds like all the things that make up someday.
On misty mornings, a bird outside her window sings against her window. She can hear it every day. A sweet song like dusk and rose petals. Molly wonders why it is alone so much. Molly knows how that feels. A life by the windowpane is not an easy one to live.
She tells herself to forget slowly.
But she can’t. Life is beautiful like that. It is winter mornings alone and swallows and being halfway there.
And then, him.
He comes and goes and they are waves by the beachside, push and pull. He makes her laugh and she makes him forget. It is slow and simple. She has small, niggling doubts here and there when she laughs with him and feels fifteen; what would her mother say? What would her aunt think?
But it is happening. It is happening anyway.
She wants him to look at her more. She wants to make him laugh just once more.
Molly hopes that he will notice. They start to spend more Sunday evenings together. He rants about working in Magical Equipment to a table full of her cousins; after fifteen minutes, neither of them realize that she is the only one left, still rapturously listening. He tells her about his plans for this and that -- he wants to transfer to the Magical Law Department, wants to someday go to countries like Angorra and Belize. It is the kind of wishfulness that she thinks frustrated Victoire to no end. Victoire who is practical and down-to-earth. But Molly, after three long years of being trodden on the ground thinks taking off on a whimsical dream sounds beautiful. Teddy makes her feel new again.
One Sunday, they argue at her grandmother’s house. Dinnertime and outside and wet grounds and leaves everywhere. It’s something silly and stupid and they argue and he sweeps her off her feet. He’s always been good at that, but only this time, he does it literally.
“Teddy! Put me down – put me down!”
He laughs it off. “Scared, are we?”
“You’re going to drop me! Put me down!”
Molly squeals in terror. By now, her cousins have assembled around and most of them are grinning. They’ve all been in Molly’s position before as children, but laugh. Victoire wears a nonchalant expression on her placid features, but her eyes look murderous.
“Say sorry or I might just drop you.”
He pretends to fall over and swings Molly dangerously close to the ground. She screams when she nears the ground and he pulls her away.
“Teddy Lupin, you absolute – “
“Wouldn’t want that happening again, would we, Molly? Now say it – “
She does. Reluctantly and biting her tongue. “Sorry.”
“I said sorry! Now put me down!”
He does and the moment ends. Some part of her wishes he had never let go. But in front of him, she is loud and herself and Molly-the-friend and she thinks perhaps another ten years may go before he ever notices.
The nights fade into the air. Stars appear and disappear and Molly finds and loses. She is contented, she tells herself. But that does not mean she does not want more. They are sea breeze and foam and all the beautiful things that the world does not need. Her days feel emptier by the minute. She talks to her family and is grateful that at least they can see her for what she is. She serenades the woods outside her home with her violin, watching the melancholic echoes stain the silence.
The next time she sees him, it is in her Aunt Angelina’s rose garden. Dominique has walked with her and the two of them stay in a warm silence. There are more words to be wished for than said between them. Sundays are now her favorite day of the week. He stands among the dead and dying flowers, which have been stripped of their vibrancy by the coming cold.
Molly bites back the urge to approach him. Within a few seconds, Victoire appears from the other side. A thorn has scraped her cheek and she holds her hands to it, grimacing. They stop and stare at each other. They have seemed to have reached an understanding. Victoire looks beautiful. Her blonde hair is slightly curled and furls beyond her shoulders.
A few vibrant orange leaves fall off from the tree above them and float to the ground. Looking like something out of a photograph, Victoire holds a hand out and catches a leaf, a small smile flitting on her face. Then she looks up and catches his eyes.
“Teddy,” Victoire breathes and it is hope and the past, present and future.
Molly fades back and Victoire seems to rise forth, like the dawn rays by the ocean. She walks to him, with a small, knowing smile on her face. A breeze passes between them all, looping through the bare stumps and deadened leaves on the ground to the roses before Molly.
She pulls him closer.
“I need to talk to you,” she whispers. “I – I’ve missed you.”
“I don’t know about this, Vic - “
“You know how I feel. Give us another – “
Molly hopes for it and he says it and he ends all things. “No.”
And Victoire who is and has always been victory and winning and conquest is finally defeated.
Dominique frowns in disgust and a small, burning glaze of happiness spreads throughout Molly.
“Come on,” she tells Dominique, “let’s go. We shouldn’t interrupt them.”
It is insignificant. It is fireflies to stars, but it is resoundingly, unforgettably, a small step. Molly knows it is wrong to feel happy when her own cousin lies fallen only a few feet away, struck dumb. She thinks it is wrong for her to want Teddy to be hers.
But is it? She wants to be happy. And she thinks he might be her first step towards it. When she and Victoire were fifteen and Teddy seventeen and Teddy had fancied Victoire and she had fancied Teddy, she had always encouraged him to face Victoire. She had egged on Victoire, helped convince her to see that Teddy - then loudmouthed and rash and perpetually in detention - could be the solid, responsible type that Victoire liked. She had helped set them up, so was it wrong to be so happy to see them fall apart?
Dominique walks before her, as placid as ever. Molly keeps her eyes on her feet as she walks, feeling her heartbeat rise with the rustling trees.
It is some kind of beginning.
Author's Note: The lovely chapter image above is by visenya @ The Dark Arts!
This chapter's for Rachel - for the unyielding support and kindness. :)
We're almost done! There's only about one or two more chapters to go! For those of you who have constantly been supporting this story, I cannot thank you enough.
Thanks so much for reading! Please don't forget to review! :D
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