A/N: HOLY SHIT, I KNOW, IT'S BEEN A LONG TIME, I APOLOGIZE AND I WILL TALK MORE ABOUT IT AFTER THE CHAPTER, AHHH I'M SORRY!
I didn’t see Albus again until Victoire and Teddy’s wedding, which was five days after Christmas. The morning of the wedding was absolute madness.
“Rose! Get in here already, I need to start your hair!”
“Bloody hell Roxy, you can’t wear that to a wedding!”
“FRED! If you pull one more stunt before the wedding, I’ll make sure you never procreate again!”
“Lily, stop threatening your cousin!”
“WOMEN ARE NUTS!”
“Stuff it, Hugo!”
“Make me, Lucy!”
I chuckled to myself. Rose’s house had been deemed a headquarters of sorts for getting ready, so most of the family was over as everyone shuffled about from room to room. Most of the women were in Rose’s room, the bathroom, and Hermione and Ron’s room, since those were the largest spaces. The men, who needed significantly less time, were downstairs. Victoire had only selected Dom and two Delacour cousins as bridesmaids, but she still insisted on the rest of the family coordinating with colors and specially picked dresses, so the atmosphere was somewhat high strung.
No one wanted to risk upsetting Victoire Weasley on her wedding day, so everything and everyone needed to look perfect.
I myself was hiding in Hugo’s room with him, Ron, and George. I didn’t need long to get ready, and I was a little frightened of the Weasley family in times of chaos.
“They are a bit bonkers, though,” George muttered. He looked rather amusing sitting on one of Hugo’s bean bag chairs, sunken toward the floor.
“They’re not,” I defended, despite mostly agreeing with him. I have to be loyal to my own though, right? “It’s just a big day.”
“And yet,” Ron grinned as he lay on his back on his son’s bed, his head hanging off so that his face was starting to turn purple. “You’re hiding in here with us.”
“That’s because Tara’s scared of them,” Hugo snickered from the other bean bag. I myself was sitting on the floor in front of a mirror, plucking my eyebrows.
“Not true,” I frowned. “There was more room in here, is all.”
“Sure,” Ron snorted.
“Oi!” Fred popped into Hugo’s room. “Is this where we hide from the crazies?”
“Welcome, mate,” Hugo grinned.
“Tara,” Fred said upon seeing me. “What are you doing here?”
“Fixing my eyebrows in the only room of the house that isn’t swarming with noise,” I smiled.
“Ah, I see,” he nodded in understanding, a smirk crossing his features. “You’re scared of my cousins and aunts.”
“You are too,” I snorted. “At least I’m not supposed to be some sort of courageous Gryffindor. I’m all about that self-preservation.”
“Are you calling us cowards?” George demanded. “My missing ear says otherwise!”
“I fought off acromantulas!” Ron cried indignantly.
“Uncle Harry said you cried during that,” Hugo smirked.
“I heard you were saved by a car,” I added.
“I did not cry!”
Harry, James, and Albus were all at Bill and Fleur’s place, getting ready with Teddy as his groomsmen, which was why they weren’t present alongside the other Weasley men. Bill, of course, was at Shell Cottage with Victoire, bless his soul. Percy was downstairs with Arthur, avoiding the chaos upstairs without having to sit in Hugo’s room with us degenerates.
Unfortunately for me, my presence was soon summoned by Ginny and Lily Potter. “Is Tara in here?” came Ginny’s voice as Hugo’s door creaked open.
“Hi Ginny,” I smiled. “What’s up?”
“Lily wants your opinion on her hair,” she explained.
I stared at her. “Lily wants my opinion?” I was rubbish at that sort of thing- I usually just let Rylie do my hair back at Hogwarts.
“You have the longest hair here, the only one with hair longer than Lily’s,” Ginny replied. “And it’s lovely! We’d love your input.”
“Er- I guess,” I said offhandedly, following her out of the room and ignoring the snickers of Hugo, Ron, George and Fred.
Ginny and Lily had monopolized one of the bathrooms. Product and makeup was sprawled out across the counter, Lily seated on a chair they’d brought inside. Like the Potters, Rose lived in a huge house, which meant a lot of bathroom space.
“Hey Lil,” I smiled as I followed Ginny inside.
Lily beamed at me in the mirror. “Tara! I’m glad you’re here.” Her face was coated in some sort of mask, and her fingers and toes were sparkling with fresh coats of paint.
“Not sure why,” I admitted. “I can barely do my own hair.” I sat on the closed toilet beside her, not sure where else to place myself. Ginny stood behind her daughter, looking into the mirror.
“Don’t me stupid,” Lily rolled her eyes. “You always look great. Besides, all we’re asking for is your opinion here.”
“I’m surprised Victoire didn’t give you some specific hairstyling instructions,” I said.
“We have to incorporate braids somehow,” Ginny replied, holding strands of her daughter’s hair and moving them about thoughtfully. “We’re trying to decide if we should do a crown, or some sort of half-up-half-down look, or an updo.”
She playfully maneuvered Lily’s hair into different directions as she described their options, making the younger one giggle lightly.
I couldn’t help feeling a twinge of envy as I watched them any more than I could help the sudden rush of a nearly-forgotten memory.
“Hold still, Taralyn,” the little girl’s mother scolded, though she wore a small smile.
“But Mummy, it hurts,” Taralyn complained. “You’re pulling it!”
“Only because you’re moving,” her mum rolled her eyes. “You said you wanted your hair done like the princess in your book, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” Taralyn pouted.
“Then stop fidgeting, love, and let me finish.”
Taralyn sighed, but did as she was told- inasmuch as a seven-year-old ever does what they’re told. She flinched a couple times as her hair was pulled back into tighter coils.
The Room of Requirement looked similar to its usual state when they were relaxing during the day hours. Taralyn was sitting in a chair by the window, watching the snow fall, while her mother worked on the girl’s hair.
“Mummy?” Taralyn asked after a moment.
“How come you never braid your hair?” Taralyn asked.
Her mother didn’t say anything at first. And then: “I haven’t had a reason to.”
“Because we don’t see anyone else,” her mother explained, pulling another lock of hair into place.
“Oh,” Taralyn said quietly. “Well how come you leave it so long?”
“I like long hair,” her mum shrugged. “My mum wore hers long too.”
“Where’s your mum?” Taralyn asked with wide eyes. “Is she my grandmum?”
“Yes,” the older woman said softly. Taralyn was too fixated on a stuffed bear she’d been holding to catch the watery glisten that had taken in her mother’s eyes. “She is. And she’s far away, love.”
“Oh,” Taralyn said again, a little sadly. “How come she doesn’t visit?”
Her mother said nothing, biting her lip. Quickly, she conjured a mirror and held it for her daughter to take. “Here, Tara, look.”
Taralyn took the mirror and caught her breath at the sight of the braid that sat across the top of her head like a crown- just like the pretty girl had worn in her picture book.
“Wow,” she breathed, looking at her mum with wide eyes. “I love it! Thanks Mummy!”
Her mother smiled down at her with a mix of endearment and relief. “Of course, love. You look beautiful.”
I shut my eyes. “Wear it up,” I said at last.
“You sure?” Lily asked, holding her hands to her hair. “I was sort of leaning toward the crown, myself.”
“Trust me,” I shook my head. “Crowns are overrated.”
The wedding was, of course, beautiful. Victoire had a large setup near her family’s home at Shell Cottage, just along the beach. An arch was set up at the end of the aisle, looking like it was made out of a soft colored driftwood, with a white fabric draping off of it and light blue flowers woven into the corners.
The ocean lay behind it, waves crashing down steadily. Victoire had been lucky that the day was clear. Of course, she’d had the whole area charmed to repel cold and wind, so we would have felt comfortable regardless. But really, it was a nice day out considering it was December.
I sat between Rose and Lily. “Anyone want to start placing their bets on what goes wrong?” Lily whispered to us.
“Lily,” Rose frowned. “We’re her cousins, we shouldn’t-”
“Ten galleons says Teddy says something horribly inappropriate during his vows,” I cut Rose off, smirking.
“I can’t bet against that,” Lily giggled. “It’s inevitable.”
Fred, sitting in the row in front of us, turned around and grinned. “I’ll bet against it. He’s too chicken to pull that during the wedding. Also, I bet you another twenty that Victoire’s already pregnant and that that was why she finally agreed to marry him.”
“You’re on,” I shook his hand. “Although good luck finding that out. Whether you’re right or wrong, she’ll kill you for asking.”
“Fair point,” Fred said thoughtfully. He turned his head and whisper-shouted, “Oi! Hugo! I need you to do me a favor!”
Lily and I snickered, while Rose rolled her eyes, but I still caught a small, amused smile.
Soon, the whispers died down as the procession began. The crowd turned excitedly. A set of wide curtains had been set up behind the rows of chairs, and a moment later, they parted just enough for the first of the party to start through, the mother of the bride, Fleur Weasley. She looked peaceful as she gracefully walked down the aisle, smiling at the guests.
After Fleur took her seat, Teddy came next. He grinned at everyone as he walked down, shooting some of the Weasley cousins finger-guns like a twelve-year-old until he reached the end of the aisle. I heard a camera snap during his walk, and couldn’t wait to hear VIctoire snap at him over it. She wouldn’t mean it- she loved his childishness.
Next came the groomsmen and bridesmaids. Harry, being Teddy’s best man, walked Dom, the maid of honor, down the aisle. Dom beamed at me and waved as she walked by, and I smiled widely back. She looked gorgeous in her soft, burgundy gown (that would apparently match the napkins because they were, in fact, burgundy and not maroon).
Behind them came James, walking one Delacour cousin, and then Albus walking another. I swallowed the instinctive jealousy that came with watching Albus escorting the beautiful, tall, blonde, her arm tucked inside his elbow. I knew it was just part of the wedding.
It did help that as he walked by us, he shot me a subtle wink and a smirk. I bit back a smile and felt myself color. He looked gorgeous in his dress robes.
The flower girl and the ring bearer were an adorable set of twins, the children of the older Delacour cousin. I cooed alongside Rose and Lily as we watched the little four-year-olds children clumsily walk down the aisle. The boy kept trying to hold his sister’s hand, but she kept tugging it free so she could throw petals out of her basket. The guests all laughed at that.
And finally, Victoire made her entrance, with Bill Weasley standing by her side. For the second time that day, I struggled to push aside selfish thoughts about how I’d never have my father to walk me down the aisle at my own wedding.
Assuming, of course, that I would ever actually allow myself to properly fall in love and get married. The likelihood didn’t seem great, admittedly, since the idea of love had always struck me as remarkably fleeting.
I suppose a wedding isn’t the best place to have been thinking about such a thing.
Victoire looked radiant, even more so than usual, which was saying something since she was easily one of the most stunning human beings I had ever known. Her dress clung to her, mostly, until it flared out near the bottom with a long train trailing behind her. But really, it was her own glow that made her so beautiful. She was radiating pure and genuine bliss with every step.
Bill looked like he was already crying. I smiled at that.
And then, I turned toward the front, just for a moment, to catch Teddy’s face as he took in the woman walking down the aisle to pledge herself to him forever. He looked so in awe, so struck with love and disbelief, and happiness, that for a moment, I started to reconsider every hangup I’d ever had about love and marriage.
If love was what brought that look about… well, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.
Soon, she reached the front, and after kissing her father on the cheek, she moved to stand beside Teddy.
Their vows were as expected. Victoire’s were long, mushy, and a little predictable. Teddy’s were silly, yet sweet.
“-and from that day on, I swore you’d be the woman I’d bone for the rest of my life.”
And there was the comment I’d been waiting for. I smirked as Fred turned around and slid me the owed galleons with a grumble. Beside Rose, Hermione shot us a scolding look, while the other Weasleys all either snickered or groaned in exasperation at Teddy’s comment. Poor Victoire looked mortified.
After the ceremony, we were moved to a larger area of tables that were arranged around a dance floor, still outside, but also still charmed to stay warm. The spot was surrounded by tall posts, string lights hanging between them all. Against the sky, which was darkening as dinner was served, the lights almost looked like they were floating, like in the Great Hall at Hogwarts.
“That was a gorgeous ceremony,” Rose sighed, as she sipped at her wine.
“Until Teddy’s ‘boning’ comment,” Lily laughed.
“That was about as romantic as I’d expect from Teddy Lupin,” I snorted from between them, scooping up a large bite of mashed potatoes.
“It was better than almost every word out of George at his wedding,” Ron said from a few seats down, smirking. “Angelina was furious.”
“Your own vows weren’t much better, Ronald,” Hermione said wryly from Rose’s other side as she elbowed her husband. “I think your language was definitely worse than ‘bone’ if I remember correctly.”
“Oh god, don’t talk about it,” Rose said, putting her fork down. “I’ll lose my appetite.”
“You should hear the things my mum has said about herself and my dad,” Lily wrinkled her nose. “Are all parents so disgustingly open?”
“I think we’re just cursed,” Rose shook her head. “Tara? What about yours?”
I froze. I’d nearly forgotten that everyone still thought I had a normal family, after the time I’d spent talking to Albus about the truth. “Oh- er, no. But then again, I don’t talk to them much.”
“I can’t believe I haven’t met them after all this time,” Rose shook her head. “You practically live at my place.”
“You don’t want to,” I mumbled. “They’re- not very personable.”
“Fair enough,” she smiled. I loved Rosie for her politeness. She’d never push me on something I didn’t want to discuss.
After dinner, plates were magically cleared away by waiters, and people began to leave their seats to mingle while others took to the dance floor. Victoire and Teddy had already shared their first dance, and they’d now yet to leave each other’s arms.
I stayed in my seat while Rose and Lily went off to find some of their other cousins. I rested my arms on the back of the chair as I watched Teddy and Victoire sway together. The way they looked at each other really was something. The more I saw of them, the less convinced I remained of my take that love was fleeting and not worth pursuing.
I think one minute of the happiness shone on their faces might have made all potential pain down the road worth it.
“I can’t believe I haven’t had the chance to talk to you yet.”
I shivered slightly, despite the warmth of the reception area. I hadn’t heard his voice in days. Turning around, I found him smiling at me, his hands in his pockets. Blimey, he looked good.
“Hi,” I said softly, smiling at him.
“Hey,” Albus cracked a grin- his lopsided one, my favorite. He held a hand out. “Want to dance?”
My eyes widened as I looked around. One of the Delacours had swept Rose into a dance. James had pulled his sister onto the floor to join him. Other Weasleys were either dancing or refreshing themselves at the bar, but everyone was still in view.
“Come on,” Albus rolled his eyes. “It’s a dance, Tara, not a kiss. Although-”
“Alright, alright,” I cut him off quickly, taking his hand. “Let’s dance.”
He smirked and led me to the floor, pulling me toward him. One of his hands held my own, his other resting on my waist. I was grateful for his lead- I had no bloody clue how to dance. “You look beautiful, by the way,” he said softly.
I smiled as my cheeks heated up. “Thank you, Al. You don’t look half-bad yourself.”
“I know,” he said arrogantly. “Vic and Dom’s cousins told me so.”
My smile slipped as my eyes drifted toward the head table, where the cousin Albus had walked down the aisle was talking animatedly with Dom. I couldn’t help how my expression darkened as I took in her stupidly perfect face. He followed my gaze and chuckled.
“She’s got nothing on you, you know,” he informed me, grinning at my jealous reaction.
I rolled my eyes as he spun me around. “She’s part Veela.”
“All the same,” he tilted his head at me, smiling still. I don’t think he’d stopped smiling since he’d found me.
“I think you’re biased,” I countered.
“You have no idea,” he said in a low voice. Bloody hell, he was really on a mission to make my insides melt, wasn’t he? “Do you know how badly I want to kiss you right now?”
“Please don’t,” I sighed, despite how loudly the rest of me was screaming ‘please do!’ “Your family would go berserk.”
“Dom would probably punch me,” he nodded. Still, he pulled me a little closer, his hand moving from my waist to wrap around me further and rest on the small of my back.
“No she wouldn’t,” I snorted. “She’d demand galleons from Fred, since they have a bet going about us.”
“She bet on us snogging,” I shrugged, not divulging the rest of the details.
“And Fred bet against it?” Albus raised an eyebrow. “He’s been taking the mickey out of me about you for years, that doesn’t sound right.”
“He bet we’d be doing… more than snogging,” I admitted, coloring again. “And wait, what do you mean years?”
Albus’s eyes widened. “Nothing. I said nothing.”
“You did not say nothing,” I narrowed my eyes. “Explain.”
“Please?” I frowned. He’d pulled back slightly, but still held me as the next song started. We’d danced through a couple songs at this point, neither making any moves to stop. If he wasn’t going to stop us, I was hardly going to move away. He smelled good.
“It was nothing,” he said again. “Really, just ignore me.”
But I couldn’t. Fred had been teasing him for years… about me? Had Albus liked me? For years? Where the hell had I been?
“Please,” I tried again, pouting. He was making a deliberate point to avoid my eyes.
“Not going to get me with a cute pout,” he said adamantly, looking away. “I’m far too macho.”
I snorted. “Is that right? That why you slept with a plush corgi until you were twelve?”
His gaze snapped back onto me, his eyebrows drawn together. “Who told you that?”
“I can’t betray my informant like that,” I smiled secretively.
“It was either Lily or Scorpius,” he guessed, eyeing me with a scrutinizing glare.
“Not necessarily,” I smiled innocently. “I could have found out about Sparrow all on my own.”
“Scorpius,” he growled.
“How’d you know?” I demanded.
“Lily didn’t know its name,” he explained. “That bastard. I’m writing Leo tonight and telling him Scor shagged Rylie.”
I giggled, hiding my face against his shoulder to avoid laughing too loudly and ruining the peace of the slow song. “I can’t decide if you should worry more about Scorpius killing you for doing so, or Leo killing you when he finds out you’re full of crap.”
“I can take them both,” Albus boasted. “Bring it on.”
“Ah, right,” I teased. “Because you’re so macho.”
He tugged me a little closer. “Exactly.”
A chill ran down my spine at the proximity, and the way his voice came out as almost a growl. Bloody hell this boy had far too much of an effect on me.
I nearly gasped. That gave me an idea.
“Albus,” I said slowly, lifting my head and leaning so that our cheeks were nearly touching. “I’d still like you to tell me what you were talking about a moment before.”
He snorted. “Not happening.”
I let my cheek brush his, leaning just slightly forward so that my lips were almost against his ear. “You sure?” I asked softly, smiling as I felt his jaw clench. “What if I make it worth your while?”
He swallowed, hard from what I could tell. “Still no.”
I couldn’t very well seduce him with his entire family present- we were already closer than normal- but I’d have to risk it. Biting back a frustrated huff, I instead kept myself smiling and whispered, “I don’t think you understand, Al. I’m only curious- telling me would bring some immense satisfaction that I’d be entirely obliged to return.” His breath hitched at my words, his grip on my hand tightening.
I leaned back to a normal distance, letting him ponder my offer. There was obvious conflict in his expression, but his pupils had grown drastically to my delight. Maybe I’d weasel some answers out of him yet.
Over his shoulder, Dom was dramatically waving her arms at me as she tried to catch my eye. I lifted an eyebrow at her questioningly. She gestured to Albus and me and shot me a what the fuck are you doing type of look. I just bit my lip and shrugged at her.
Great, I thought. There’ll be no getting around explaining myself now.
If I told her even one thing about whatever my relationship was with Albus, it was inevitable that I’d wind up caving and telling her near everything. I was sure I could rely on her discretion- at the very least, she wouldn’t want to lose galleons to Fred- but for some reason I’d just been very hesitant to tell her about Albus and me.
“You make a compelling argument,” Albus said at last, his dark eyes sweeping across my face and down to my neck, before dropping lower.
I smirked. “So you’ll tell me?”
“I’m considering it,” he mumbled, still eyeing me hungrily. It was driving me a little crazy, which was not supposed to happen. I needed to remain in control here to get my answers or I’d wind up letting him ravage me for nothing.
Alright, so maybe it wouldn’t be for nothing. Mutual pleasure was one very valid motive. But still.
“Do I need to sweeten the pot?” I asked with a small smile, trailing my hand that was on his shoulder up to the back of his neck and playing with the ends of his hair.
He let out a long breath, his eyes shutting for a second before he seemingly remembered we were among his entire family and shook himself out of the state. “How so?” he asked.
“Did you see Dom’s gift to me for Christmas?” I whispered, grinning widely.
His mouth fell open slightly, his eyes dropping again, surveying me intensely, as though a strong enough glance would let him see through my dress for confirmation. “Don’t bloody tell me…”
“They matched my dress rather well,” I said lightly..
“Tara,” Albus warned. “I’m very close to dragging you out of here right now.”
“I’d be tempted to let you,” I smirked, “if you were to tell me what you were talking about before.”
He let out another long breath. “I don’t suppose I could call in that third favor now, can I?”
I fought back the urge to thump him on the head. “We’d be inching dangerously close to prostitution at that point, so no, you can’t,” I said adamantly.
“Damn,” he sighed. “It was worth a shot. Well, alright then. I’m still going to need to call it in anyway- the favor is for you to not run away when I tell you, alright?”
I rolled my eyes. “Why would I run? I’m making you tell me.”
“I just don't really trust you not to run on instinct,” he shrugged.
“I won’t run,” I said impatiently, though a large part of me was ecstatic that he’d actually just used up the last of his favors.
“Alright, well, good,” he sighed, releasing his hold on me just long enough to run a hand through his hair. “I suppose I was going to have to tell you how much I fancy you eventually, so might as well do it now I suppose.”
Ok, here goes. I'm so very sorry for disappearing for so long!!! I'm sure this year has been hectic for nearly everyone. It was bad when I last posted, and it's only really gone to more shit, and my mental health was just shot. To be honest, I hadn't felt like posting, writing, reading, or doing much of anything for a while. I'm kind of slowly getting back to some sense of normalcy, but I will definitely say that updates won't be as quick as they once were. Hopefully it doesn't take numerous months again, but it all depends. I for the life of me couldn't guess at what each coming day is going to entail for me mentally, it's all over the place. I'm going to start therapy soon though once I figure out some insurance stuff, I'm looking for a new job that I will hopefully like better, I only have one more accounting class, and my birthday's tomorrow! So today's a good day.
I realize I've probably lost so many readers in taking so long, and I'm so incredibly sorry for making anyone think I'd abandoned the story. Every once in a while I'd go back and read the super kind reviews and they always make me feel so good and so guilty for not being here. I'm going to make more of an effort!
Anyway, if anyone's still reading this, thank you so much. I love and appreciate you and I will do my best to get more updates out. I actually have plans for a new story, too, which is probably a bad idea for my productivity but it comes from my recent head space and I think that it could be very important to me. So we'll see.
Again, sorry for such a long wait. I hope you enjoyed the chapter nonetheless and I look forward to what the future may hold!
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