It was one of those dull days upon which nothing transformative is meant to happen. Perhaps it should have happened when they were splashing in the sea that past hot, heavy summer when she desired his freedom and he was drunk on her youth. The conversation might have been better suited when they were cuddling on his couch, blanket shielding them from the winter frost that was due any day. But there was never really a right time for these things- there’s always a wedding or a funeral around that time which would have been so much better if she had known or she hadn’t- and Ted wasn’t known for his tact.
She’s talking to him now, smudged lipstick twisting her lips and ring catching in the light as she uses hand gestures liberally. That ring was a promise he had made to her, her family and himself to stay with her forever. It seemed so insignificant now.
“So anyway, Nicky immediately throws a fit about it and mama takes her side because it’s Nicky-” She rolls her eyes familiarly, like Nicky’s attitude is an old joke between Ted and her. And it is, but there are only so many times that you can tell a joke before you’re bored of the punchline. Irritation knots his forehead, as it suddenly seems unfair to moan about her sister when he loves her like his own. “-but she’s making it so hard for me to live at home.”
He’s robbed of a response by the waitress setting down an espresso for him and a latte for her. He murmurs his gratitude, returning her warm smile and forcing his gaze away from the swaying hips of her withdrawal. Victoire’s blue eyes are trained on him as he sips his espresso.
“Anyway,” She clears her expression, leaning back in her seat. “What’s going on with you?”
“Yeah, fine. Listen, I-”
“Bullshit.” She says, crossing her arms and face pinkening by the second. It was typical of Victoire to put herself on the offense- because if she was shouting then no one would see the fear flickering across her face-so that she was ensured a victory.
“Yeah.” Ted sighed and she smiled sadly, relenting slightly. They’d grown so distant that he’d forgotten how well she really did know him. So why did her shiny hair and soft skin suddenly look so alien to him? The things which had caught his eye across rooms and raced round his head late at night were now trivial features that he could no longer express the beauty of without using the same old lines from Ron’s How to Charm a Witch. “We’ve grown distant.”
“You have.” She spits back. “You don’t make an effort with me. If you’re not careful, you’ll-” She breaks off abruptly, blinking back tears.
“I’m sorry.” Ted says and means it. The gravity of the situation- the thought of walking away from her- had suddenly dropped on his shoulders, and he choked against the weight of his words. “I love you. We just don’t…”
“You evidently don’t.” Her back’s arched, jaw set and hands’ shaky. “I’ve given you so much. I’ve loved you through everything, and you think you can just turn around and tell me that we wasted four years of our lives? That’s a lie.”
“I haven’t said that all.” His voice is raised and outsiders’ eyes latch onto the young couple, claws separated from throats by a stained white tablecloth. He closes his eyes, exhales and starts again. “Life has got in the way. We’ve been together for a long time- and I’ve loved you every minute of it- but now I need space. I don’t know who I am without you.”
He expects a slap, a verbal onslaught, a hasty exit. Not this heavy, heart-wrenching silence.
Victoire- his lovely Victoire-sits herself up straight and sets her jaw.
“Your hair’s been brown for weeks.” She acknowledges and cracks a wry, shaky smile. “I knew it was coming.”
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