I climbed the stairs, trying to ignore the sight of Victoire on the front porch swing with Brandon’s arms around her.

Just go find James, Ted, ignore her for right now. If everything goes well, that’ll be you on the swing with her in less than an hour.

I found James in the attic playing Exploding Snap with Louis. His brown eyes grew apprehensive as I stalked across the room towards them.

“Got any more shocking news for me?” he asked, setting down his cards.

“Actually, I do.”

“Oh no.” He sighed. “Lay it on me.”

“I need your help,” I managed to spit out.

“Now that isn’t a shock at all,” he replied with a grin. “What can I do for you? And I warn you, there will undoubtedly be a price.”

“Trust me, I’ve already paid. It’s about the bet.”

He leaned back against the foot of the bed, and Louis eyed us both warily. “The bet?” they said at the same time.


Louis looked tired. “Do I want to know?”

“Probably not,” I answered.

“Right. I’ll just go make sure that brute isn’t snogging my sister then,” he said with a heavy sigh, and I resisted the urge to hug him.

When he had gone, James leaned towards me eagerly. “What exactly is the trouble?”

“The truth is-”

But he cut me off. “You aren’t really dating Dom, are you?”

“Er, no.”

“Just as I thought. You honestly thought you could pull the wool over my eyes?” he scoffed. “I am the master of wool-pulling, Ted.”


“I should’ve mentioned that in the conditions. No bribery, blackmail, or pity invocations.”

“I guess so. I found the loophole.” I allowed myself a triumphant grin.

“It appears you didn’t, since you need my help,” he retorted with raised eyebrows.

“So I lost the bet. I haven’t got a girlfriend.”

“What’s to help then? You go tell Victoire you love her. Simple as that.” He spread his hands apart, as if to say ‘nothing more can be said.’

“That’s the part I need help with.”

He nodded understandingly. “I see. I guess you’re feeling a little daunted by that meaty boyfriend, huh?”

“No, I’m not,” I growled. “I could pound him into the ground if I really wanted to. But that’s not gonna solve anything. I mean, it will. But first I’ve got to show Vic how much I love her. I can’t just go up to her and say ‘oh, yeah, Vic, something I forgot to mention, I happen to still love you.’ I’ve gotta have a little more flare than that!”

“Well then, you’re in luck, Teddy, my boy. Because I am not only the master of wool-pulling. I am also the master of flare.”


It turns out James isn’t really the master of flare. His idea of flare is apparently me turning my hair Vic’s favorite color and writing her a song to be played on Aunt Audrey’s ukulele – which, by the way, is brought to every family gathering, without fail.

When he suggested this brilliant idea, I just stared at him. “Are you crazy? We’re trying to remind her that she loves me, not remind her that I can’t sing and look awful with pink hair.”

“Fine, you’re the one who asked for my help. But you’ve got to tell her, somehow or other. You made the bet and you lost.” He smirked at me.

“Okay, okay!” I held my hands up in defense. “I will. Thanks for nothing,” I said sarcastically, stomping out of the attic and back downstairs.

I was met in the front room by Dom, who looked at me expectantly.


“Well what?” I said bitterly.

“What did he say?” she asked, giving me a ‘duh’ look.

“Nothing,” I grumbled, shoving past her and into the living room.

I heard her sigh heavily from behind me, and I plopped onto the couch once more, watching her trudge through the open doorway.

“So that’s it then?”

“So what’s it then?” I inquired, raising an eyebrow, as if surprised she was addressing me.

“You’re giving up, just like that.”

“Pretty much.”

“Theodore Remus Lupin! You cannot give up on love so easily!” she exclaimed, green eyes bright.

“I don’t like it when you use my full name,” I groused.

“And I don’t like it when you abandon my sister when you both clearly still love each other!” Her voice raised to a shriek.

I leapt back to my feet. “Alright, calm yourself, will you? There’s no need for the entire extended family to hear about it.”

“Oh, but there is! And don’t flatter yourself that they don’t already know. I told you, Ted, everyone in the bloody wizarding world knows you two love each other! If you weren’t so bloody stubborn, you’d know it too!”

Rose’s eyes flicked up from her chess match with Al. “Are you talking about Teddy and Vic?” she queried, one brow arching up, making her look immensely like Hermione.

“Why, yes, yes I am,” Dom said, calming down when she realized she had backup.

“Well, duh, it’s so obvious!” Rose exclaimed, as her gaze fixed back on the game.

Al nodded thoughtfully, considering his next move. “I agree.”

“I’m going to wring your necks, both of you,” I growled.

“Teddy, everyone can see it. Why can’t you?”

I lowered my eyes. “Leave it, Dom.”

I could feel her penetrating gaze on me.


And I was left, standing in the middle of the living room, the lights on the tree blinking cheerily in my face. This was turning out to be the worst Christmas ever.


Two minutes later found me wallowing on the couch, absorbed in my own failure. Christmas was supposed to be a time of good will and good cheer! Well, somehow both had escaped me, just like Vic had.

“Teddy, Teddy!” came a squeal, startling me from my dismal thoughts.

“What is it, Lil?” I tried to keep the edge from my voice as she dropped onto my lap.

“Me and Hugo have something to tell you.” Her voice was solemn.

Hugo shuffled up and stood in front of me. “We need your help.”

“With what? What’s wrong?” I sat up straighter, forgetting my troubles.

“It’s Victoire.”

Oh Merlin. Don’t tell me my two little cousins are going to pester me too.

“What about her,” I gulped out.

They exchanged a nervous glance. Hugo leaned towards me. “We saw her outside. It looks like Brandon is eating her face,” he whispered in my ear.

A hard fist knotted in my stomach. “What?”

Lily nodded emphatically. “And she doesn’t even look happy about it!”

“I wouldn’t either,” Hugo said, wrinkling his nose.

“Get up, Lilykins, I’ll be back in a minute.” I lifted her off my lap. “I’m gonna go take care of that-” I eyed the two kids for a moment- “jerk,” I finished lamely.

They nodded somberly, in unison. “We knew you’d take care of it,” Hugo told me.

I stalked to the front door and flung it open, my eyes alighting on the porch swing, where the two sat, intertwined. But Vic didn’t look too happy about it, her hands pushing weakly against his broad chest.

I know she thinks she can take care of herself, but I’m not gonna stand for this another second, I growled to myself.

I launched myself at Brandon, grabbing hold of him and ripping him off her.

“What the bloody hell are you doing?” he yelled, looking dazed, cocking a fist at me.

“Rescuing my best friend, that’s what,” I told him, catching his fist in one hand and hitting his jaw with a solid punch from the other.

“What do you have to say about it? She’s my girlfriend, isn’t she?” he shouted, aiming a punch at my gut, which connected with brutal force.

When I caught my breath, I backed away a step and said, “Sure, call her what you want. But do you even know her middle name? Or what dress was her favorite when she was eight? Or how to make her laugh? Or how she only stops being so bloody stubborn when you kiss her?”

He was so surprised, he dropped his arms to his sides, giving me just enough time to lodge a strong knock to his stomach, and a quick left hook to his jaw.

“No?” I watched him sink to the floor of the porch. “I didn’t think so.”

I glanced at Vic. “You okay?”

She nodded, blue eyes watery. It was so rare to see tears in her eyes. I ached to take her into my arms and kiss them away, but that was not to be. Brandon was staggering to his feet, and coming towards me.

He loomed closer, connecting a rough punch with the side of my face, and another with the upside of my jaw.

And then I remembered my wand. Excellent idea, Ted, my boy. How in Merlin’s name did you not think of it before? I whipped it from my pocket. “Stupefy!” I shouted, pointing it straight as his chest. That did it.

I strode across the porch to where he lay slumped against the white railing. Leaning over his prone form, I whispered threateningly, “And if you ever, ever touch Victoire again, I will personally make sure you’re permanently incapacitated. If you even know what that means.” His narrow eyes flicked open and I gave him a menacing glare. “Understood?”

He nodded weakly and, in a second, Apparated away.

“Well. That takes care of that, huh?”

Vic’s eyes were wide as she stared up at me. Before either of us could speak though, the front door flew open and Bill rushed outside, followed by James and Hugo.

“What’s going on out here?” he asked, sounding a tad panicked.

Vic and I exchanged a glance.

“I was just making sure Vic’s behemoth of a boyfriend doesn’t trouble us anymore,” I said calmly, dusting off my hands.

From the twinkle in his blue eyes, I could tell Uncle Bill was trying not to smile. “Excellent. Thank you, Teddy.”

“No trouble. I’ve been itching to beat him up all evening.”

Bill ruffled Hugo’s hair. “Thanks for the alert, buddy. Now let’s head inside and get you some of those sugared plums, eh?”

James caught my eye and raised his brow pointedly, glancing from me to Victoire and back. “Pay up, mate,” he whispered, before turning and heading into the house.

“What did he mean, pay up?” Vic asked, as I sat down on the swing beside her.

“Dunno,” I said with a shrug. “You okay?”

She smiled. “Yeah, thanks to you.”

I turned to face her, surprised when she gasped.

“What’s the matter?”

“Oh, Teddy! Your face!”

“Well, I didn’t think I was all that bad looking,” I muttered, knowing before she did that it would make her laugh.

“It’s not that! It’s…well…” She reached up a tentative hand and brushed my jaw. “You’re bleeding.”

My heart sped up at her touch, but I forced myself to try and ignore it. “Aw, it’s nothing. Don’t worry.”

Her blue eyes flicked down and back up. “I’m sorry.”

“For what?”

“Tonight. Brandon. Everything.”

And suddenly her head was on my shoulder. It felt perfect, just like it always had.

“It’s okay.” And I really meant it.

“Did you really mean what you said to him?”

“About what? That I’ll kill him if he touches you again? Yeah.”

She laughed again. “No, I mean about knowing me. Do you know what my favorite dress was when I was eight?”

“Sure, it's a trick question. When you were eight, you wouldn’t wear a dress if someone paid you. You thought you were a boy, and we climbed trees together every afternoon, and you stole my trousers because your mother wouldn’t buy you any. But eight years after that? It would be the bright blue dress, the one you wore to the Christmas dance, the one that made your eyes look like sapphires.”

Those eyes sparkled as brightly as the lights circling the porch railing. “Oh, Teddy. You know me better than anyone in the world.”

I smiled down at her, putting my arm around her shoulders. “I’d like to think so, yeah.” But my smile faded quickly. I had to tell her. It was now or never. “Vic.”

“Mhm.” She lay her head down against my chest and it was all I could do not to kiss her.

“I love you.” I closed my eyes. There. It was done.

She jerked her head up. “What did you say?”

“You heard me,” I whispered.

A tiny smile played across her lips. “Yeah. I did.”

There was soft silence, and I felt my cheeks growing hot as she stared up at me.

“I love you, too, Teddy. I never stopped.”

My heart leapt in my chest. It couldn’t be. She really did love me. Dom had been right all along. Suddenly, there was a crackling from the ceiling of the porch.

“Merlin, if that’s James playing some sort of prank, I’m gonna kill him!” I growled, glancing up and expecting to see some sort of creature ready to eat us. Instead, a tiny piece of mistletoe sprouted from between the boards of the porch roof.

I glanced through the window and spotted James and Dom sitting on the stairs smiling at me. Dom gave me a thumbs up, James gave me a grin, and they disappeared from view.

And then? Well, there was nothing else to do. I simply had to kiss her.

Author's Note: In honor of the Christmas season I edited this chapter for grammar, etc. Please leave a review, I'd love to hear what you thought!

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