Late June 2019
It had been a year since her Hogwarts graduation and signing with the Falcons, and though she’d missed the school, her professors, the food, and her dorm, Victoire had to admit that Rory had been right when she’d said that their life after Hogwarts would be just as exciting as their life as students.
The past twelve months had been spent training with her new teammates, playing the sport she loves for a team she adores, and finally living on her own.
Although they had originally planned to live together, she and Rory had found that as Victoire’s Falcon schedule meant she had to be within reasonable distance of their stadium at all times during the season, and with Rory working at her grandparents’ restaurant in Wizarding London – any living quarters they did find often conflicted with one of theirs job requirements. Thus after a month of searching, the two had agreed that for the time being it was probably for the best that they lived separately.
Much to the relief of their various family members, who didn’t trust the two girls to be able to survive while living together.
However, despite not living together and working in different areas, the two girls still managed to see an awful lot of each other. And, just as promised, Victoire managed to get Rory a free ticket to every game she played in.
With the new Quidditch season just around the corner in a couple of months’ time, Victoire found her amount of free time quickly dwindling as her coach, Rhaewyn Port, fought to keep the Falcons in fighting shape by issuing constant all day practices. However, considering that the last season had only just ended two weeks’ prior with the Falmouth Falcons coming in a close third on the League rankings, Vic thought that she and the team deserved just a little time off to celebrate all the hard work they’d put in to move up the table from where they’d started off as tenth.
It was not, by any means, an easy feat. And while Rhaewyn and their Manager, Otto James, commended them for their effort, neither seemed willing to ease up on the training.
It was for that reason that in late June, in the heat of the Summer weather, Victoire found herself grumbling and groaning as she stumbled through her tiny flat towards the bathroom. Dropping her gear as she went, Vic tripped over the strap of her bag and went sailing to the ground in a string of curses.
“Motherfuc-” Sucking her lip in between her teeth, she closed her eyes against the pain of her shin meeting the wooden floorboards rather unpleasantly. “Goddamn,”
Vic rolled over onto her back and stared up at her ceiling in utter misery.
Refusing to get up for quite some time, Victoire watched the peeling paint on her ceiling only choosing to get off the ground when her eyes started blurring and the shapes she’d spotted seemed to be reaching out to her.
She brushed off the back of her pants and gasped when the sudden movement caused a sharp pain to run up her back.
“Looks like I’m having another ice bath tonight, yippee!” Throwing her head back with an irritated groan, Vic stomped down the hallway to her bathroom and slammed the door shut behind her.
Rory had worked her butt off everyday for the last year, only taking a day off when her grandparents forced her to. But after all the long hours, perving patrons, frustrating customers and hair-tearing near-misses, she’d finally saved enough money to purchase the quaint shop in Diagon Alley that had caught her eye one day while she’d been surveying local real estate with Lydia, her mother, and her Aunty Ruby, her mother’s sister.
Standing under the freshly painted sign that hung above the store’s door, Rory felt the pride that had been swelling within her all day lodge itself in her throat. Her father’s hand squeezed her shoulder and she felt his lips brush against her temple as he stood back to appreciate the hard work they and several others had put into renovating the building.
Four full days of work, hundreds of layers of paint, new windows, oiled door hinges, a fresh sign, and multiple hours of back-breaking cleaning and scrubbing later, Pine Tales was about ready for opening.
“You did good, Princess.” Ian Pine stated proudly to his daughter as he watched her take in her shop. “I’m so proud of you.”
“Thanks Dad,” She turned and looked at him. “For everything.”
“You’re welcome,” He held his arm out to her, “Come on, let’s finish stocking those shelves before my brothers put everything in the wrong place.”
She grinned at his knowing look, and following him back inside, Rory laughed when she found her Uncles, Aunts and cousins who weren’t in Hogwarts stuck in the middle of all the boxes she had piled in the room.
“Help!” Lydia cried as she struggled to stop a particular tower stack of boxes from collapsing on her. Jumping to his feet, their mutual cousin – Easton Pine – grabbed the back of the top box and settled it back into place stabilising the tower. “Thanks East,”
He smiled at her, tipping an imaginary hat at her before going back to where he’d been organising his own box of books to the catalogue Rory had spent hours the night before typing up.
“Thanks guys, for doing this – I know you’ve probably got a hundred better things you’d prefer to do on a weekend, but it means a lot to me that you’d be here.”
“Oh, hush up you old sap,” Nadine Pine, Lydia’s older sister, remarked. “You’re family - it’s nothing.”
“Still nothing, honey – you’d do the same for us.” Nadine reminded her, and she smiled. “But you’re welcome all the same,”
“Now then, where do the comics go?” Zach Pine, Ian’s brother and Lydia’s father, asked.
“Muggle or wizarding?” Rory asked as she twisted her way through the maze of boxes.
“Ah well, I was thinking of setting the Wizarding section on this floor.” She drew her imagined layout up in her mind, “And fiction was going to go on the right, Non-fiction the left, so – put them on a shelf opposite the cases where the books will go.” Rory closed her eyes briefly, seeing the layout in her mind and she nodded.
“Yep, here I’ll grab you the shelf.”
While Rory had been working to save up and buy her own store, and Victoire had been playing Quidditch for the Falcons, Teddy had been completing his final year training to become an Auror.
It had been a gruelling year, following orders from overbearing supervisors, waking up at the crack of dawn everyday for training camp, and attempting to prove his worth whenever he and his partner were given the opportunity to do field work.
But now that his three years were up and he’d passed the final exam, Teddy had sat through the graduation ceremony a week ago with a broad, proud grin on his lips thinking of the future that now lay ahead of him because of his hard work.
Every shed of blood, every bruise, every sleepless night, and every scream of frustration had been worth it, because he had made it.
He was a qualified Auror.
It was all so surreal, that for the days that followed his graduation he was certain he was going to wake up back in his dorm room in Hogwarts and it would have all been a dream.
A beautiful, painfully realistic dream that would have only been made better if his parents had been present in it.
“Teddy!” He shook his head of the thoughts that clouded it and was able to pull himself back into reality in time to catch the flying girl that wrapped her arms around his neck.
“Hi!” She squeezed his neck tighter for a moment before letting go and stepped back from him. “Sorry, I’m just really excited!”
“Yeah?” He grinned, her excitement was infectious.
“Hm-hmmn!” She nodded, giggling slightly as she jumped in a circle almost as if she had too much energy and didn’t know what to do with it.
“And why is that?”
“Because we finished the shop today!” She squealed and his face dropped in shock.
“That’s amazing, Rora, I’m really happy for you.”
“Thanks, oh you’ve got to come see it, Ted – it’s… it’s… It’s everything I’ve ever dreamed of.” Teddy smiled at the complete happiness that Rory exuded in that moment, his heart swelling in his chest as he watched the way her pale green eyes glittered under the lighting of the bar they were in.
She was so beautiful to him.
“How about tomorrow?”
“What?” Having gotten caught up in her own daydream about her shop, Rory was confused by the question he’d suddenly posed to her.
“Me coming to see your shop, would tomorrow work? I could come around during my lunch break at work.”
“You really want to?”
“How many times have we been over this Rora?” He shot her a serious look, and she shuffled sheepishly. “This is your shop, something you’ve worked so hard for this last year – of course I want to see it.”
“Ok, tomorrow works.”
“Good, I’ll see you there at 12:30 then.”
“12:30 it is,” She nodded her head promptly, and sat down on the stool next to his. “Right, should we try and find Vic? She was the one who organised this outing after all,”
“She may have organised it, but that doesn’t mean she’ll be here on time.”
“I’m honestly surprised her coach hasn’t suspended her from the team yet – I don’t believe she’s made it to trainings on time like she proclaims she has.”
“Port wouldn’t suspend Vic, she’s the best Keeper the Falcons have seen in decades.”
“Tetchley wasn’t so bad.”
“He wasn’t, but he still let more in than he saved.”
“Well yeah,” Begrudgingly, Rory agreed with Teddy.
“And in comparison to Vic, he’s really not at her level.”
“No one is at Vic’s level.”
“That’s true,” They smirked and laughed. “But seriously, Port wouldn’t suspend Vic, she may be tardy occasionally but she’s a dedicated player and takes the game seriously – not to mention her skills match her talk – the Falcons wouldn’t want to lose a player like that.”
“You’ve got a lot of faith in her, huh?” There was something in her gaze as she looked up at him, something that made him blush and he knew without checking that his blue hair had adopted the same colour his face had.
“She’s a good player, Rora, I don’t know what else to say.”
“She is – oh, speaking of the devil, there she is!” Stepping into the wizarding bar that was obscured from muggle view on the streets of London, Vic earned herself quite the attention from the other patrons both from her recognisable status as a Weasley and a Falcons’ player. Sitting where they were by the bar, Rory waved her arms above her head to get the girl’s attention. Teddy grabbed the back of her shirt when her erratic movement caused her to almost fall sideways off the barstool.
“Oops, thanks Ted.”
He scoffed, shaking his head at her.
“Vic! Icky-Vicky! Vic!” Startling at the use of the childhood nickname she’d banned the both of them from ever using in public, Victoire glared daggers at Rory from across the bar as she finally spotted them.
“You little twat,” Vic half-laughed, half-grumbled once she was in hearing distance of them.
“Oh you love it,” Rory winked leaping up to hug her best friend, “How’re you?”
“Sore, tired but good. So bleeding grateful I’ve got the day off tomorrow,”
“I can imagine,” Rory remarked as she hopped back onto the barstool and Vic greeted Teddy with a hug. “How many days in a row has it been?”
“Nine. Nine days since my last day off.” Vic collapsed on the stool that was vacant on the other side of Rory. “I swear; I am this close to killing Rhaewyn.” Pinching her thumb and forefinger together for emphasis, Vic waved down the bartender for their strongest shot of firewhisky. Throwing it back with only a slight wince at the aftertaste, Vic turned to the two of them with a grin.
“But enough about me, what about you two? How’s life as a qualified Auror, Ted? How’s the store going, Ro?”
“It’s great, I mean it’s taking a bit to get used to, and it’s just a lot of paperwork at the moment, but Terrence, my partner, and I are hoping to get our first case in a couple of weeks.”
“That’s awesome, Ted!” The girls chorused together, and signalled the bartender for a round of shots in celebration. “Here’s to Teddy and his making it in the Auror Department.”
“To Teddy.” They cheered, clinked the shots together and downed them.
Rory coughed as it burned its’ way down her throat and grimaced.
“Man, I forget how much I hate that stuff.” The other two laughed at her pain and she poked her tongue out at them.
“So,” Vic asked excitedly, “How’s the store?”
“It’s all finished – well the renovations and stuff are. I’ve still got a few boxes of stock left to unpack, but that should only take a couple more days. Gah, I’m so excited!” Rory spun around on the bar stool before slapping her hands down on the bar to stop herself. “Dad reckons I should be all settled in for an opening sometime next week; but I don’t want to have one until the kids are back from school. It wouldn’t feel right without them.”
“True, besides can you imagine how upset Brea and Hannah would be with you if they weren’t there?”
All three of them shivered at the thought. Damian’s younger sister, Hannah, and Rory’s younger sister, Brea, were a force to be reckoned with when they felt like they’d missed out on something important. Occasionally, it was down right frightening, and Teddy could still feel the bruise that Brea had given him when he hadn’t told her first that he’d been made Head Boy.
“Well, here’s to you, Miss Pine – and the success of your store!” Cheering to another round of shots, Rory pretending to take her shot before passing it over to Teddy when Vic wasn’t looking.
Rory had always been fussy about her alcohol, very specific about what she liked, but never wanting to draw attention to herself over the fact, she and Ted had formed a solid system to get her out of drinking what she didn’t like. Typically, this involved Teddy distracting those around them while she tipped her shot out or pretended to take a sip, but when situations were dire and there was nowhere for her to empty out the liquor – Teddy willingly sacrificed himself to do the honours.
As quickly as one could recover from slinging back his third shot of firewhisky, Teddy fought the cringe that wanted to take over his features as Victoire turned back to them with a vibrant grin.
“What?” Rory asked, pausing when Vic pointed to her ears. Listening, Teddy only shook his head with his confusion when he didn’t understand what the girl was getting at. “Oh my Merlin!”
Laughing or squealing he wasn’t sure what he could call the sound that emitted from the girls, Rory grabbed Vic’s hand and dragged her over to the minute dance floor the bar provided for the patrons. The entire time screaming how “this was their song.”
Amused at their antics, Teddy rested his elbow on the slightly sticky bar top and watched as two of his oldest and closest friends danced wildly to the Muggle song the bar had surprised everybody by playing.
The lyrics of some old indie song echoed off the walls, Vic and Rory both singing at the top of their lungs as they waved their arms up above their heads. Though those around them were concentrated largely on the way the strawberry blonde Weasley moved, Teddy’s gaze was locked solely on the smile that etched itself on Rory’s lips and the way her hips swayed to the music.
Teddy had known Rory since she was a teeny little eleven-year-old and she’d stumbled into Victoire on the platform whilst they’d both been attempting to board the train. As a third year, he hadn’t paid much attention to the younger girl, only ever regarding her as the best friend of Little Vicky.
But then in the summer of his Seventh Year and of the girls’ Fifth Year, when he’d been stressing over being made Head Boy, Rory had found him near panic attack behind the shed at the Burrow. She’d calmed him down and had held him while he’d shamefully broken down at the constant reminder of the absence of his parents; and when the tears had dried and he’d tried to walk away with some form of dignity left, Rory had kissed his cheek and told him how proud his parents would be of him.
It was in that moment that the short brunette had gone from family friend to girl of his dreams, and ever since then he’d been crushing on her hard.
Though in recent months, now that she was out of Hogwarts and he got to see more of her, Teddy had started to question whether it was still just a crush.
Slipping through the now crowded bar after a trip to the bathroom, Rory struggled to see through the haze of smoke and dim lighting. Tripping over her shoes for the twelfth time, she took a moment to breathe by holding onto the bar and asked the bartender for a glass of water.
With the glass in her hand, she set back out on her journey to the booth she and the other two had scored after hers and Vic’s performance on the dance floor. Several hours had passed since then, and though she was nowhere near the point of no return, Rory could definitely feel the effect of the alcohol she had consumed that evening - Reason two for her drink of water.
“Rorrry, there you are!” Vic giggled at the sight of the brunette appearing quite suddenly in front of their booth after she’d squeezed herself in through the gap between two rather brutish looking men. “We were about to send out a search party, weren’t we Ted.”
“Yep!” He cheered his drink to her, the dark liquor sloshed over the rim and spilt on the table. “Whoops,”
“You two are hammered,” She grinned warmly at the familiar sight, already beginning to sober up now that she’d had something other than alcohol enter her system. “Unfortunately, I’m going to have to slip off now.”
“What?! No! Rory, you can’t leave us!” Pouting, Vic wrapped her arms around Rory’s and hugged her to her side tightly. “Don’t leave me,”
“I’m sorry Vic, you know I wouldn’t if I didn’t have to.” She patted the blonde’s head affectionately, and though she groaned, Victoire reluctantly detangled herself from her side.
“What’s up?” Teddy only slightly slurred.
“Easton, one of my cousin’s on my dad’s side, just rang.” Rory shook her head derisively, “Idiot more hammered than the two of you combined, it took me forever to understand him over the phone, but basically he’s gone and splinched himself.”
“Shit, he alright?”
“Yeah he’s fine, his mate took over the call after I got that out of him. They’re at St. Mungos, getting East’s pinkie toe regrown.”
“Why’d they ring you?” Vic asked, stealing a sip from Rory’s glass of water.
“Because if they’d rung his parents, he’d have gotten an earful about not being responsible and how he’s jeopardising his career in the Ministry by not being able to hold his liquor better. If he’d rung our grandparents, Gramps would have told him he was a disappointment to the Pine Family name for being such a bloody lightweight. Long story short,” She heaved a sigh, “I was the only one he knew, even in his incredibly drunken state, that wouldn’t yell at him for splinching himself. Doesn’t mean I’m not going to give him shit for the rest of his life,”
“Well of course, it’s your duty as a cousin.”
“Exactly,” She clicked her fingers at Teddy before standing up from the booth. “Anyway, I should get going.”
“You’re not going to apparate are you?” The older young man asked her sternly and she chuckled, impressed by his ability to still be so protective even when he was drunk.
“No, Dad, I’m going to catch a cab.”
“Good,” He cheered her again before downing the rest of his drink in one gulp. “I’ll see you tomorrow then,”
“If you’re in any state to,” She marvelled leaning over the table to kiss his cheek. “Make sure she gets home alright?”
“Always, and I will see you tomorrow, Rora. I promise.”
“Alright Mr Auror,” She smiled, “See you Vic, be good for Lupin.”
“Always,” The strawberry blonde mimicked, snorting at her own joke. Rolling their eyes at her, Rory waved her final goodbye before slinking off out of the bar.
More shots, drinks and cocktails passed through Vic’s hands after Rory left her and Teddy at the bar than she could count. After surpassing the point of no return, and after Teddy had decided that he should probably leave before he definitely couldn’t get up for work later that morning, the two finally made their exit from the bar.
With her arm slung around his waist, and his over her shoulder, the two used the other for support as they wandered down the London streets at three o’clock on a Monday morning.
“Yooou really are sssuch a good f-friend, Tedster.” Vic slurred as her head lolled on his shoulder.
“You arrren’t so bad y-yourself, Icky-Vicky.” Only slightly less drunk than she was, Ted found himself able to be a little more eloquent in his speech.
“Fanks,” She grinned up at him before pressing a wet kiss to his cheek.
There was a flash of light from behind them, one that caught both of them off guard and resulted in Vic stumbling over her heels. Grateful to his Auror training for enhancing his reflexes, Teddy was able to tighten his hold on Vic and stop her from falling even in his inebriated state. He pulled her in against his chest, and her hands locked tight on his shirt as she struggled to regain her footing.
“Woah, that was scary.” She whispered before looking up at him in awe. “You’re my hero, Teddy.”
“It was… I mean, yeah.” He felt pretty chuffed at his own quick thinking, and subtly flexed his muscles under his shirt.
“You saved my life.” Vic tipped her head back, her eyes glazed over. “How can I e-ever rrrepay you?” She hiccupped.
“You don’t have to re-re...”
“Yeah, that.” He grinned at her. “It’s all p-part of the job thingy.”
Vic watched him through heavily lidded eyes, all that she had to drink catching up with her. Tiredly she snuggled into his chest and pressed her face into the crook between his head and shoulder.
There was another flash of light, and Teddy blinked as it almost blinded him.
Confusedly, he looked around the two of them to find a blurry figure ducking down an alleyway with a square object in their hands.
“Come on Vic, we should get home.”
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