It's stand-alone in that the story--such as it is--exists in its own little pocket and isn't "to be continued" or anything, but it references a lot of characters from Forest Guard, and is, weirdly, tied to Stray.
ETA: No, I'm not going nuts with the writing today; I've just been working on this one a few paras at a time for a week or so, and decided to finish it up today.
Teddy circled the island, a habit he'd got into not long after he bought it three months ago--skimming the high grass on the north side, rising into the sky on the thermals in the east, diving for the sea at the south, working his way back up along the rocky western shore, marking where the magical concealments ended and the North Sea began. He still couldn't quite comprehend that he owned it, and sometimes (mostly when his hands were bleeding from spending all day excavating the site for the new house) the burning desire he'd felt to own it seemed very distant. Dad had once leased the little shack by Hogboon's Mound, and he was meant to expel the hogboon as part of his rent, but he'd never got it done, and when Teddy's apprenticeship had made the Daily Prophet, his old landlady had decided it was time to collect a twenty-three year-old debt. Teddy was fully prepared to be annoyed with her, then she'd said, "I've been trying to sell it for twenty-five years, and I can't get anyone to even look!" From that point on, he'd been gone. He'd needed the island somehow, and on the day that he signed the final papers, he remembered feeling somehow vindicated, then utterly bewildered. What was he meant to do with an island? In the Orkneys, no less--far from his work, treeless and remote, a stone's throw from Azkaban.
He rose up the western cliff and followed the swirling air into the cove where an ancient, rotting boat was tied to a standing stone. In the water, he could see his rippled reflection, his hawk's body making a cruciform shape as he glided along toward the shack. It was the only place to live for now, but Teddy had decided, in an unformed way, that he would build a grand house up on the high ground. By the time he was finished, he thought he might have even made a sizable dent in the Black family vault, though the rest would earn enough interest to fill it up soon enough. He'd felt guilty the first time he used that gold--Uncle Harry had given him the key to the vault when he was an infant, long before Uncle Harry's own children were born, and Teddy was quite sure that he had no real right to it, but Uncle Harry assured him that the Potter family was well taken care of, and he was sure that Sirius would want to see to it that Dad's son never wanted for anything. Mum's death benefit from the Auror Division alone would have seen to that, and Granddad had left an account in a Muggle bank ("Just in case Gringotts got shirty about the Muggle-born issue, which is exactly what happened," Granny had explained) that had rolled into a modest fortune while everyone ignored it, but Uncle Harry still wouldn't hear of taking back the Black vault, as he thought Teddy a closer family connection. At nineteen, Teddy was uncomfortably rich, based on nothing but the efforts of the dead. That was why he broke his back and flayed the skin on his hands laying the foundation for the house by himself, using only the simplest of magic to replace Muggle machinery he'd have needed. He thought, perhaps, if he could pour enough sweat into the ground here, it would be something like really paying for it.
The call was caught on the wind as he flew by, and he circled back. The cliff-top had been empty a moment before, but now Victoire Weasley was there, her long blond hair tossed in the sea breeze. She was wearing a light blue robe with no sleeves, and a silver circlet above her elbow. She was simply and painfully beautiful. She raised her arm, then pointed her wand at it and covered it with a leather gauntlet. Teddy circled more tightly and came down to land on the perch she'd created. She smoothed down his feathers then and set him on the ground.
He transformed. A few feathers that had molted while he flew fell out of his hair and landed on his shoulder, and she stood on tiptoe to brush them away. "Hi, Vicky," he said, ignoring her long-suffering expression at the name. "I see you passed the Apparation test."
"Just this morning. Thank God, too, if I hadn't passed it this time, I'd've had to wait for Christmas hols."
"You know, you still won't be able to Apparate in and out of Hogwarts."
"I know. Most unfair." Her eyes twinkled. "I'm sure if I were in France, they'd allow me to go wherever I pleased."
"At any time of day," Teddy agreed. "Probably without so much as telling anyone."
"But of course," she murmured, mimicking her mother's accent. She frowned. "Turn around, you have feathers caught under your collar."
Teddy turned and let her brush them away, enjoying (somewhat against his will) the little jolts of energy that had followed her fingertips when she touched him for the last few years. "It's a good thing you're here, Victoire. I wouldn't be able to go out the door without help."
"Yes, you've always been hopeless. At least you're registered now, so you don't have to worry about anything other than looking slovenly." She stood back and inspected his shoulders--he could see her from the corner of his eye--and nodded. "All right, you're clean."
"Thanks." Teddy thought about reaching back to take her hand, but decided against it. The thought of going out had occurred to both of them more than once, but the only time they'd tried it, when he was in his seventh year at Hogwarts and she was in her fifth, it had been a complete disaster, a perfect monsoon of awkwardness crashing violently onto the shore of their usually comfortable friendship. After two weeks of stilted conversations, they'd both agreed that it was a bad idea and moved on, and if he still sometimes thought about how nice her body looked when the wind blew her thin robes tight against it, he did his best to ignore it. "So, what are you doing here?"
"Well, you said I could come up and see your island when I passed," she said. "I'm just taking you up on it."
"Oh. Well... this is the west face. It doesn't have a name or anything." Teddy started leading her along the edge of the cliff, toward the path that led up to the construction site.
"Does the island have a name?"
"It's registered as McManus Island."
"You're not going to name it anything more interesting?"
She thought about it as they turned up the path, then shrugged and said, "I've no idea. But you'll need a name for the house when you finish it." She paused and looked around. "It seems nice here. I like it."
"I wouldn't think you would. I thought you preferred civilization."
"No you didn't. You know me better than that." She headed up, climbing easily among the boulders.
Teddy smiled. He supposed he did. Victoire put on a great show of being a sophisticated urbanite when she chose to, and most people were fooled by it, but her roots--and her home--were in the countryside, and she never stayed in crowded towns too long. She always said it was her earthy Weasley side, but Teddy didn't think so. He thought that there was still half-wild Veela blood in her, and it cried out for the wilderness. He'd come to this conclusion after watching her slash half of Fenrir Greyback's face away with a handful of kitchen knives, of course, which was an advantage most people didn't have when it came to understanding her.
He shook his head and caught up with her, thinking that she looked considerably more natural here than he did in human form, stepping lightly along the uneven path, her hair fading into the wind.
"I can't believe how good it smells," she said when she reached the top of the crest and paused at the edge of the cellar hole. She took a deep breath. "It smells like home--" She blushed. "Like Shell Cottage, I mean. But it must be even further from any of the Muggle nonsense that makes the air reek. I can't smell any of that."
"It is cleaner," Teddy said. "When I fly, I can see the bits of dirt in the air, and there aren't as many up here."
"So this is where the house is going to be?" she asked, looking at the excavation.
Teddy nodded. "There'll be ocean views on every side."
"I'll bet we're far enough north for auroras in the winter."
"I think so, too. I'm going to put big windows in the bedroom ceiling so we--" He stopped. "So I can look at them. Sorry, I don't know where that 'we' almost came from. I think we've learnt better."
"Right," Victoire said. "That was a traumatizing half a month. We definitely know better now." She smiled slyly. "Though I think I'd look smashing by the light of auroras."
The image came too vividly and quickly for Teddy to mute it, so he just smiled tightly as it wound itself down through his nervous system and turned away from her so she wouldn't notice. "So... how are things at home?"
"As you've had dinner at Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny's four times this week, I think you have more family gossip than I do. You know James is turning into a right little hellion at school. You gave him the Map before he came last year, didn't you?"
"Well... I may have left it in Uncle Harry's desk. Then told him to go fetch something for me."
"And it may have had a note on it saying, 'Dear James, here's the Marauder's Map, enjoy it'?"
"Actually, it said, 'Dear Uncle Harry, I'm sure James would get into a lot of trouble if he had this--especially if he has Dad's wand with it, which I've Tethered to it and which will let him into everything--so I'm sure you'll want to be certain that he doesn't just happen across it and think it's a gift from his Teddy.' Of course, I bound him to it before I left it."
"I miss having it handy," Victoire said. "It apparently hasn't occurred to James that I know about it, and it's a lot more difficult to sneak out without it."
"And who are you sneaking out with?" Teddy asked.
"Well, Alastor Shacklebolt's been sniffing around..." She waited for a response; Teddy refused to give one, though he found himself wishing Story would keep his nose to himself. After a moment's silence, Victoire shrugged and went on. "A lot of the boys still seem afraid of me, honestly."
Teddy sat on a boulder. "Must've had letters from beyond from Greyback."
"Telling them to watch out for your temper?"
Teddy laughed. There weren't many people with whom he could laugh about that nightmare year, let alone the night when it had all ended, but Victoire had been as deeply in the mess as he had, and if she could talk about it lightly, he supposed he could. "Yes, I'm sure all of them are terrified of your ex-boyfriend-of-two-weeks."
"It's the name," Victoire said. "I mean, 'Teddy'... it just strikes fear into the hearts of even the stoutest Gryffindors. Who could blame them?"
"Well, I'd try switching to 'Ted' again, but it's embarrassing when I forget to answer."
Victoire sat down on the grass at the base of the rock, and some of her hair settled on Teddy's knee. He smoothed it as she'd smoothed his feathers. "Anyway," she said, "James and his little mates snuck out during exams and charmed half the desks in the castle to start singing when people finished up. It was driving Robards quite mad."
"It sounds like fun. I miss school. I miss the Marauder's Map."
She smiled and leaned her head against his knee. "If you feel a need to make someone insult you, I'll be happy to fill in."
"It's not quite the same," Teddy said. He sighed, feeling oddly low. "I miss them. How's that for crazy? I never met them, and I miss them all. Even Wormtail. I miss running across them every other minute."
"Why don't you build them something here?" Victoire said. "Name the house for them. Put up their totems, call it Marauder's Roost or whatnot?"
As soon as she said it, it seemed to settle in as a pre-ordained fact, like a thousand conversations about it had already happened--"Do you think you can make it up to the Roost this summer?" "Have you got things buttoned up at the Roost with the storm coming?" "Down to Majorca? No, no--we're going up to the Roost to visit Mum and Dad." He supposed he'd have to find someone to marry who would put up with his devotion to four long-dead schoolboys, but that was a given anyway. They'd kept him company through a lot of lonely times, and he'd always felt like he was meant to carry them forward. Besides, he was Dad's son, and he'd bought the island with Sirius's money, given to him by James's son. It seemed fair to pay them a bit of tribute.
"It's brilliant," he said. "I think I'm going to file papers to change the island's registry. Marauder's Roost."
"Ah, a name. Good, it'll be a real home." She stretched and looked out over the horizon. "Are you really going to build the whole thing yourself?"
Teddy shook his head. "I'm just doing the foundation myself. Nate Blondin's got a werewolf crew down in France and they're always looking for work; I'm going to have them do the house. They're actually very good."
"I know. Dad got them some work in Tinworth. There's a new inn. I was just going to recommend them, rather than you being so deeply manly that you have to carry every rock yourself."
"I almost did," Teddy admitted. "But Père Alderman said that I'd be doing more good in the world if I gave honest work to people who needed it."
"Mmm. So, what's it going to look like?"
Teddy drew his wand and Summoned the plans, which he kept in a large sketchbook. He hadn't inherited Dad's talent for drawing, but he'd managed to get at least the general idea down, and Donzo had introduced him to a man who did the artwork for the Weird Sisters' covers, and he now had a very nice collection of pictures of the house that didn't exist yet. The book swooped up from the shack where he was living now and landed heavily in his lap. He slid down and sat beside Victoire, opening to the main page, which showed the house from three views.
"We're sitting behind where it will be," he said. "There'll be a terrace or whatever it's called here. Flagstones, see?" He pointed to it, and she nodded. "This side of the house will have the kitchen and a big dining room. The dining room will look north. There are two wings coming off on the sides. Don't laugh--I'm putting in a ballroom in the west."
She laughed. "Sorry. Couldn't help it. Why are you putting in a ballroom?"
"Granny once said that Mum always wanted one, ever since she saw a film that had one. She reckoned it would be a fine place for parties with her mates from school. And, well... I remembered you saying it once. When you were talking to Marie about... well, it sounded like a good idea."
"It is. What'll it be like?"
"Well, like the Great Hall. I'll do the Charms myself, and the walls will show the outside, even where there aren't windows--Blondin said that the windows I was talking about would rattle too much in the wind here, and it would be hard to keep it warm. I'm going to decorate it with stone from the island."
"I'll bring some shells, too." She smiled. "If you want them."
"Shells would be good." He stroked her hair, then remembered that he was flirting with disaster and moved his hand to turn the page. "The east wing will be for living in. I'll have a parlor facing directly east, with a fireplace--that's where people can Floo into, and I'll put lots of room in front of it. It'll be homey, lots of room for games, lots of bookshelves. Granny said I should have a better sitting room for business visitors, so we don't have to worry about keeping the parlor too neat. That'll be on the other side of the entrance hall, off the ballroom."
"That's a good idea."
"Yes." Victoire turned the next page. "What are these?"
"Well, that one's for work," Teddy said, pointing at a room on the north side of the wing. It was fully securable, which was the important part of any room he might bring work home to, and was roomy enough to bring home anything he needed, but other than that, it was just going to be functional. He didn't intend to bring a lot of work here if he could help it. He pointed to the one beside it. "The other one is just a den, like Uncle Harry's, except that I won't do work from work there. Maybe I'll sit down and write my memoirs someday, you know. Or write adventure stories in my spare time. I think that would be a good hobby."
"I'm surprised that's not what you do for a living, honestly," Victoire said. "I'd think it would make you happier than the Ministry."
"I like my job," Teddy said. "All the questions I can think to ask."
She shrugged and pointed at an empty room on the first floor. "What about this one?"
"Well, hopefully, I'll get married someday. I'd guess my hypothetical wife might like a place for whatever her hobbies will be. It'll have nice northern exposure if she wants to raise plants." He caught Victoire grinning at this, and remembered that her N.E.W.T. project, currently installed in Neville's greenhouses, was a garden full of fragile magical plants that hadn't been successfully grown in Britain before. "Or," he said, "if she just wants good light for her sewing."
"Are you seeing a seamstress without telling me about it?"
"No. Just thoughts. Do you like my imaginary house?"
"I love your imaginary house. Are those just bedrooms on the second floor?"
"I don't know. Just rooms, to be used for whatever they're needed for." There were eight rooms, four on each side of a corridor--Teddy imagined that they'd mainly be empty guest rooms, which was a bit depressing, but he'd had to do something with that floor, and he did want space for visitors.
"And this is the master bedroom," she confirmed, turning the page to a picture of a room with windows on the vaulted ceiling. It the only room on the third floor, rising above the house like a wedge-shaped turret. The sea would be visible in every direction.
"Yes. It has a door out onto a flat roof over the parlor. I reckon I can just roll out of bed and have a nice flight around the island without bothering anyone."
"A good plan. Might bother Hypothetical, though. Is she called Hyppie for short, or Callie?"
"Oh, neither. She can't abide nicknames."
"And you care? You must really love her. Is she right handed or left?" She gave him a wicked, beautiful sort of grin.
"Ambidextrous," Teddy said, and reminded himself of sitting at Madam Puddifoot's, picking at the tatting on one of the doilies and checking his watch to see how much longer it would be before they could mercifully end the date. Victoire had been turning her teacup in small circles, and then--looking like she'd been released from Azkaban on a technicality--remembered that she had a positively huge Potions essay to write and couldn't spend any more time in Hogsmeade if she meant to get it done. Teddy had made a noise of regret, but both of them had been completely relieved to be done with it, and had finally admitted it after two weeks of being too furiously busy to so much as sit together at the Gryffindor table for dinner. Once they'd broken up, everything had been fine again. That was what he needed to keep in mind. He was much more comfortable with Victoire as a friend, as someone who would make off-color jokes about what a bloke might do about his hypothetical wife, which a girlfriend couldn't very well do.
He stood up. "Come on," he said. "Let's get some lunch. I have chicken down at the house that actually exists already."
She got to her feet, brushing grass from the back of her robes (a green stain marred the blue on the left side; she looked at it distastefully and Teddy cleaned it with a wave of his wand). "Lead the way."
Teddy led her around the cellar hole and back down the path, turning away from the western cliffs and going down to the flat land where the old, thin-walled shack stood. This was where Dad had lived, where Sirius had come before returning, at the end, to Grimmauld Place, where Mum had wrestled with her conscience and finally chosen to shield her innocent cousin rather than follow the dictates of her job and arrest him. Teddy didn't want to live here, but he did intend to leave it standing, and leave it furnished as it had been then... though he suspected the decor wouldn't be approved by anyone who knew about such things. He opened the door and let Victoire in.
She looked around the old, shabby room, and Teddy could nearly hear her mind ticking off all the things that needed to be repaired or replaced to make it livable. She restrained herself and took a seat on the comfortably sprung out overstuffed chair, putting her feet up on a mismatched fringed ottoman and crossing her ankles fetchingly.
Teddy sat on the couch opposite her, not at all wishing that she'd chosen it, so he could have sat down beside her, possibly with her feet in his lap instead of on the ottoman. "Aunt Ginny said your family was going over to Ron and Hermione's for dinner last night. I've got to know... what's Ron saying about Ruthless Scrimgeour? I had lunch with her the other day. She was going on at length about how strict he is."
"He says he's going to kick her out of the training program if she keeps taking idiotic chances that are going to get her killed. Which is a bit rich, coming from Uncle Ron."
"I think it's a mentor thing," Teddy said. "I'm meant to start in the Death Division on Monday. Maddie told me that she'll have my balls for earbobs if I step outside the controls. And, may I repeat, Maddie. The woman who defined out-of-control."
"Oh, my, is that inside information from the Department of Mysteries? Will you have to Obliviate me before I leave?"
"No, but I might, just for fun. You can't trust shapeshifting Unspeakables, you know."
"Might be wise. I'm not sure you want me remembering this furniture."
"If you don't like my furniture, Conjure your own."
She raised her wand, and the couch Teddy was sitting on shimmered and became white satin. The chair developed dark wooden wing arms and deep red velvet upholstery, and the ottoman joined to it, making a chaise lounge. "Much better," she said, stretching out luxuriously and turning on her side to face him, her head cradled prettily against her arm. Her robe hitched up above her knees, and Teddy abruptly decided not to lie down on the sofa himself, as it seemed the better part of valor to sit up, quite possibly with a pillow on his lap. She smiled sweetly. "Have you heard from anyone else? How's Frankie?"
Teddy grasped at the straw of gossip and kept his eyes off of her legs, filling her in on all of his friends who had left school with him, or before him. Frank Apcarne had joined his father to start up a new publishing house, and was slowly building up a nest egg. He kept saying he planned to marry Tinny Gudgeon, who was being quite patient with him, but he hadn't asked yet. Tinny had a clerical post at the Ministry. Donzo McCormack had started his own band--using the name Don Duke so he wouldn't be leaning too hard on his father's connections--and Maurice Burke was managing it. Corky Atkinson had finally found a way to shut Honoria Higgs up, though it had required a rather large diamond, and Honoria was now occupying herself with writing exposés on the wedding industry. Ruthless had ended up making her first arrest against Bernice Fletcher, who'd got caught in the middle of one of her cousin's scams. Roger Young had apprenticed himself to Hagrid. When Teddy found himself filling Victoire in on Priya Patil, who had left school more than a year before Victoire herself had arrived, he supposed he was reaching the bottom of his gossip barrel, and his body had relaxed a bit. He chanced a glance at her. Her eyes were closed, and her face slightly flushed.
"Are you asleep?" he asked.
"No." She opened her eyes. Her pupils were quite wide. "I just like listening to you. Why did we break up, Teddy?"
"Because we couldn't come up with an actual conversation when we tried going on dates."
"I think that was the mistake. People go on dates to get to know one another. We already knew one another."
"So what do we do?"
"I don't know. I suppose we could just start kissing. I'm afraid I missed most of the conversation thinking about how much I'd rather be kissing you."
Teddy smiled weakly. "I missed most of it, too. And I was the one talking."
"So, do you plan to kiss me or not?"
"What, just in the middle of a conversation?"
"Well, we could go on another awkward date at Madam Puddifoot's, by the end of which we'd be sitting around wondering why we were considering it at all, just because you think these things have to be done in a certain order."
"It worked with other girls," Teddy said, feeling a bit churlish. He had gone into it with two more years of experience, and had kissed Laura Chapman, Lizzie Richardson, and Jane Hunter before he even thought of kissing Victoire. He'd also kissed Ruthless Scrimgeour (or been kissed by Ruthless) quite a lot when he was in his third year and she was in her fourth, but she had generally been in charge of those, and they had often bruised his lips as neither of them had had the faintest idea what they were doing, so he didn't really count that as a good model. The others had been after proper dates, and it had all worked out quite nicely, right up until Victoire.
"But that's the whole point, Teddy--I'm not some other girl." She sat up and leaned toward him. "Now, are you going to kiss me or am I--"
Teddy didn't let her finish. He pressed his lips to hers, standing up, moving over to her, drawing her to himself...
The spell she'd put on the chair broke, and the chaise broke into the ottoman and the armchair, which pushed apart violently under their weight. They both crashed to the floor between them. Their lips broke apart as they fell, and Victoire's chin slammed painfully into the bridge of Teddy's nose.
Teddy drew away, rubbing his nose, and Victoire pulled herself up to sit, laughing and wiping a bit of spit from the side of her mouth. "That worked well," she said.
"I told you we should have gone out first."
She smiled and plucked his hand up off the floor. "I love you, Teddy," she said, and kissed the cup of his palm, and he loved her, too. This knowledge didn't come to him like a lightning bolt out of the sky or a thundering voice from the depths of the earth, but like something he'd always known, but forgotten, like the name of a favorite story from his childhood, or the answer to a very simple arithmetic problem, or a familiar word stuck on the tip of his tongue.
He ran his thumb over her lips. He wanted to kiss her again, and the wanting was like a small sun between them. He knew that sooner or later, they'd fall into its gravitational pull, but now, it just seemed warm.
They sat on the floor of the shack for a long time that afternoon, talking about things neither of them remembered later, holding hands and finally slipping into a long, languid kiss that seemed to go on forever, but not nearly long enough. The light had taken on a peculiar golden tone when she stood up and said, "If I don't leave now, I'm not going to."
He nodded. "I'll come down to London tomorrow to see you off."
"Are we going to say anything to the family?"
Teddy shrugged, not at all sure he wanted to share this with anyone just yet, but willing to let things take their course. He walked her back to the western cliffs, past the edge of the protections against Apparition, kissed her one more time, and watched her disappear. When she was gone, he went back to the excavation site and began to work on the cellar wall. He worked until dark, then went back to the shack and didn't read a book he had out. He could barely wait until ten-thirty the next morning before Apparating to London. He went through the barrier with only the most cursory check for Muggles.
The platform was buried in steam, much more than he remembered before, but then, he'd always been looking for the huge scarlet train, not a single person in the crowd. A pair of first years chased one another by him, and he waved faintly to Story Shacklebolt, who was dragging his trunk along without a trolley. Keith Scrimgeour, who'd be starting his fourth year if Teddy's math was right, was arguing about Quidditch with a huge fifth year who Teddy had last seen as a scrawny third year. He scanned the tall, distorted shadows for Bill, whose height might give him away, or Marie, who usually wore her hair in two high pigtails for some reason. Neither seemed to be--
He was pulled around suddenly, and Victoire's arms were around him. He sank gratefully into the kiss, letting her push him back to an alcove where the steam was a little less intense.
"Thought you'd forgotten to come," she said.
"Definitely not," Teddy told her, and kissed the corner of her mouth. "Where's the rest of the"--he kissed her nose--"crew?"
"Oh, no. No hellos until you've kissed me properly. And I know you can do it, so don't short-change me."
He laughed and put his hands on the side of her face, caressing her cheeks before leaning in to kiss her as properly as he knew how to do. She was warm and delicious.
Victoire pulled away suddenly, and her eyes narrowed as she looked over Teddy's shoulder. "JAMES! What are you doing here?"
Teddy turned around. James Potter was standing beside a loaded trolley, his jaw hanging down. "Teddy?" he said again, as if unsure.
"It is?" Teddy asked, making his eyes go wider than would have been possible without a morph. "How did that happen?"
"But you're... well... she... It's Victoire."
"Yes, James," Teddy said. "I came to see her off. Would you terribly mind going away now, so that I can finish?"
"James, leave!" Victoire said, waving a small fist in his direction.
James shook his head in wonder, then ran back, leaving his trolley.
"I guess that answers the question of whether or not to tell the family," Teddy said.
"I had the impression last night that anyone who's not James already knew." The whistle on the Hogwarts Express blew. "I have to go."
"I could try to fly in, come right up to your window."
"I have seven dormitory-mates, Teddy. Lots of post-war celebration." She kissed his cheek. "I'll write to you when I know the Hogsmeade weekend dates. I'll come up to the Roost." She opened her purse and took out a rattling box. "Shells," she said. "From Shell Cottage. For the ballroom."
"I'll work them into the mantle." He tried to kiss her again, but she was pulling away, disappearing into the steam as the whistle blew another warning. He ran after her, not caring that several students were running around them, and kissed her. "I love you, Vicky," he said.
She rolled her eyes. "Then try to learn my name, Teddy. Or I'll have to start calling you Theodore." She smiled and was carried away by the crowd.
Teddy stood where he was, letting the crowd move around him, until the train pulled out of the station. Once it was gone, the steam cleared quickly, and he could see parents and siblings starting to move toward the barrier. Uncle Harry was standing at the far end of the platform with Aunt Ginny and Lily. His arm was still raised in farewell to his sons. Teddy sighed, and went to join them.
Aunt Ginny smirked at him. "So, Teddy," she said with exaggerated innocence, "what have you been up to?"
"James had time to tell you?"
"Are you going to marry Victoire?" Lily asked, eyes wide. "It would be just perfect if you did!"
"Let him be, Lily," Aunt Ginny said. "Come on, we still have shopping to do for your lessons..." She led Lily away.
Uncle Harry smiled at Teddy. "So... what is this, Teddy? Is it serious?"
Teddy looked after the fast-receding train, and thought of Victoire standing on the cliff. "Well," he said, "I think I bought an island for her."