The Fire Blazes, Burning Bright

The Fire Blazes, Burning Bright

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The Fire Blazes, Burning Bright

Post by Avery Bishop on Wed Dec 14, 2016 11:33 pm

"Some other time, I'd love to take you up on the offer."

"...That would be wonderful."

"Come on, then, Avery. Teddy, I'll see you in a few days."



October had passed, and as the winter months crept ever closer, Keiran was finally starting to feel the people around him move away from the terror of the summer and into the wonder that Christmas could bring. With that in mind, he paused on his way out of the Great Hall after breakfast one day, turning around to look at the students, staff and - importantly - the room itself. Not particularly festive, he'd admit.

After a meeting about the winter holidays in the staff lounge, Keiran approached Teddy, one of the professors he had been making an effort to know better, along with people like Maddie and Selwyn (if the latter was feeling open that day during meals, of course). He wasn't at all sure that he had been succeeding, however, and that led to his question for Lupin:

Would he help with the Christmas decorations, because Keiran just didn't know what to do? He would, brilliant, let's sort it out this weekend while the majority of the students are out at Hogsmeade. Someone else can chaperone this time, it'll be grand. And, oh, wasn't it great that Keiran knew so much about Transfiguration because that meant that they didn't have to go out and find decorations when a flick of the wand could flurry them up as needed? It was, indeed.

And so that was what led to his teasing letter to Avery, saying how he would inevitably do a rather poor job of it and how she would probably make him look the fool if she showed up and did it. Not that Avery often tried to decorate or took much care outside of her own and of Sophie's appearance. Charming little thing that she was, of course, Sophia already wanted to dress up like a princess even though she was only a little over two years old and the dresses looked hilariously oversized on her. But the point was that Avery knew a thing or two about matching colors together, and her Christmas decorations at Bridget's house were bizarrely thoughtful for just a few strings of lights and some tinsel.

He had no idea that she would take it so literally. After all, if he had, perhaps he wouldn't have stepped out when Theodore needed to talk, telling Teddy he would be back later and very apologetically left him on his own. It was sort of spoiling his whole "let's get to know Lupin" plan, and he told Theo as much once he got there, seriously intending to hurry as best as he could.

Avery, it's important to note, had never once stepped foot in the Great Hall before. But Keiran hadn't been in his office like she'd expected, and after asking for a bit of help she found her way there thanks to a young man in a blue-and-bronze striped scarf. Walking up to the doors and peeking in, she had to reign back the shock that bloomed on her face. Merlin, but the place was positively massive. How many students was Keiran in charge of, anyway? Suddenly, his achievement was immensely more impressive. Sure, she would be proud of him no matter how many students or how many obstacles he had to overcome. But this? Wow.

So it was with an awed expression that she stood outside, divesting herself of her heavy winter coat - which had been brought in case Keiran wanted to touch up the outside as well. Of course, she felt foolish, now, for not registering just how massive the place really was. Like he would bother with much beyond the front door! Some part of her must have suspected that he wouldn't think about the outdoors, because she was standing there in a dress and black tights, and even had on shoes with heels. A teasing smile, pointed in at herself, tugged at Avery's lips as the scarf, too, came off and both garments were slung over her arm. Perhaps she could set them on a table. Gryffindor, maybe? She imagined herself as much more of a Hufflepuff, if she really thought about it, but didn't feel strongly enough to move her things. Instead, she dropped her scarf and cloak into her left hand and lifted her toes so she could sway back and forth on her heels and take the place in. Could she go inside?

And that, helpfully, was when she realized she wasn't alone. Someone was up on a ladder within the Great Hall. And, whoops. It wasn't Keiran who she was now looking massively naive in front of. Well, if he was even paying attention, which she was quite sure he wasn't. Still. After failing to find a good enough excuse to get in touch with Teddy since seeing him two months earlier, she felt guilty.

One of her arms wrapped across her back to reach for the opposite elbow in an attempt to keep her fingers from fidgeting. Then her right foot tucked itself behind her left ankle as she looked up at him, swaying a bit as she threw off her balance.

"Hello, Teddy," she called, stepping into the doorway and blinking a little when the lighting changed, dimmer in the entryway than in the hall, somehow. "I-" should have written you. I wanted to. But I was... nervous, I guess? Why? "-came by to help Keiran decorate. Is he...?"

She didn't trail off for lack of an idea of what to say. No. Her gaze had drifted upwards, past the ladder he balanced on, and up, up to the ceiling that was - bizarrely, knowing Avery's life - the most magical thing she had ever seen. Her expression froze, lips parted and eyebrows lifted, and she couldn't help herself. She walked in without the permission she believed she needed, and draped her things over the end of a table. It was, in fact, the Hufflepuff table, though she didn't know it. She didn't notice when her arm fell back to her side to match the other one. She didn't see whether or not Teddy was pleased to see her, or if he thought she looked ridiculous for acting like a first year without meaning to.

She also didn't catch the movement of one poltergeist as he flew in. Not that she would have recognized him for what he was either way.

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Re: The Fire Blazes, Burning Bright

Post by Teddy R. Lupin on Fri Dec 16, 2016 2:10 am

Teddy Lupin was in a rare good mood.

There once was a time where finding Teddy out of good humor would be a surprise. Even now, most would assume him to be a generally happy, if easily worried, man. The truth was that it had been a long time since he had felt like himself, and anxiety and self-doubt had become his new baseline. To find himself freed from those negative feelings, those tragic afflictions... it was like relearning how to breathe. He could practically feel the oxygen working its way into his bloodstream, reaching up into his mind, keeping his body going.

He couldn't place where these feelings came from. Perhaps it was the fact that he had volunteered to stay for the holidays. It meant that, even if he tried, he could not spend Christmas with his family. The past few years had felt empty without them gathered around him, and his failed attempts to bring the Potters together had broken his heart on more than one occasion. Removing the option meant he could not fail. He had people who needed his presence on the holiday. Dinner would certainly be a lonely affair, but he could suffer solitude if it had a purpose.

His morning tea with Maddie had also been pleasant. Her daughter Kathryn was one of his favorite students and he enjoyed discussing her youngest's growth. Maddie was already a great friend to him, but having her so close at hand had done wonders for his attitude. He found her careful warnings to abandon negative thoughts and look for useful tasks to complete had become a daily mantra, and having someone so near who he knew supported him did wonders for the morale.

Completing Keiran's task to decorate was a welcome change of pace from the drudgery of grading. He had managed to conduct the tinsel to do its own thing, and floating lanterns were arranging themselves as he worked. One of the strings of garland had wrapped around a crevice in the stone wall and he had to clamber up a rickety old ladder to set it right. Of course, the string had somehow knotted and now here he was, trying to unknot the darn thing. Not that his mood had changed.

In fact, he was even humming a Christmas ditty. So unsuspecting was he.

And then a voice caught his ear. A voice he was not so familiar with as to place, and he turned, a friendly look upon his face as he meant to discern which professor had tracked him down. But it was no professor.

His expression widened into surprise. "Avery?" Mostly confusion. He glanced about as though some random student might be holding up a cue card to get him back on track. Without outward help, he had to look inward. He had royally embarrassed himself the last time he had seen Avery, but she had been kind and he found himself hoping to redeem himself. Perhaps this could be the occasion?

A warm smile touched his lips. "He just ran off! I doubt he'll be long." He paused, oscillating between recruiting her to help right off, or offering to escort her off to Keiran's office. Perhaps he should assure her there was no reason for the uncertainty, and tell her he was happy to see her, as he was. He cleared his throat. "I-" Nope, had to clear his throat again. "It's good to see-"

A roar of laughter sounded and suddenly Peeves appeared right before him. Teddy flinched, and the ladder was swept beneath his feet. He let out a shout of surprise and reached out to catch a ledge, forearms straining to keep him from crashing to the ground.

"Merlin's sakes, Peeves, this has got to stop!"
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Re: The Fire Blazes, Burning Bright

Post by Avery Bishop on Fri Dec 16, 2016 3:03 pm

He recognized her. That was good! Perhaps it meant she wasn't Forgettable. Or perhaps it meant that the day went so horribly that he had no better option than to remember and dwell on it when he was trying to fall asleep. She had a few of those days that she thought back to, so she wouldn't blame him if that were indeed the case. And she was honestly listening in part, but the place was so perfect already that she couldn't imagine adding more to it than Teddy apparently had. What was Keiran on about, anyway?

But then bizarre laughter met her ears and she spun around when Teddy cried out. "What-- the hell?!" Her shout changed when she saw him hanging there and some sort of entity there with the ladder. "Who are you?" She snapped at the poltergeist. "Get lost!" He seemed unwilling to go without some stupid line or other to make fun of them for not seein him coming, but Avery was already pulling her wand out of her jacket and climbing up onto the table as if that would somehow help.

"Teddy, just hold on, okay?" She told him, trying to sound much more calm than she really felt. In truth, part of her was just impressed that he had held on at all. But she needed to get him down safely. First, she cast a cushioning charm on the floor below him, just in case. Then, it was time to help him get down. "Just... try and trust me."

And so the fact that he had managed to hold on was no longer important, because she lifted him just enough to get him to let go, and then started to bring him down. She got him to a few feet above the ground before Teddy's attacker flew past her face, making her duck and lose focus as a surprised cry split her lips. When she looked up again, Peeves was gone and Teddy had inevitably dropped.

Vaulting over the end of the table, Avery rushed across the hall and to his side, reaching out for his hands. She flipped them over one at a time, palm up, to check for the redness she knew had to be there from hanging on that long. Not to mention if he had tried to brace himself when she dropped him. Her thumb passed over the base of his fingers and then she realized- this was the second time she had ever touched him, and neither time had necessarily had great connotations about them. Not in the end, at least. She didn't want things to get worse.

"Oh, Teddy. I'm so sorry."

Avery didn't know if she was talking about just the fall or not. Maybe failing to write, as well. It didn't matter. She lifted her gaze to his, loosening her hold on him so he had the chance to take his hands back. "I didn't mean to -- I mean, I asked you to trust me and then... Well. I tried. Sorry."
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Re: The Fire Blazes, Burning Bright

Post by Teddy R. Lupin on Sun Dec 18, 2016 11:16 pm

Callouses from his years playing Quidditch and working with his hands were the only things keeping his hands from losing purchase or feeling torn apart by the pressure exerted. Teddy was one of those who every few months decided to begin going to the gym again but could never commit fully to the lifestyle. He was glad to be fresh off of one of these stints, because he wasn't sure he would have held on so long without it.

If he hadn't just set his wand down on the ladder, he could have handled this on his own.

And of course Avery had walked in just in time to witness this. One might consider it lucky she was there to help, but his mortification was so great that it might have been better if he had just been left to chance the freefall on his own.

She was calling out to him, but there was no way he could turn his head to acknowledge her. Heart pounding, he blinked, a beat of sweat beginning to work its way down his temple. He cleared his throat, trying to gather up a sense of calm. "Okay!"

Trust her. Trust her. Trust her. Trust her.

He felt her magic grip him, and a lightness spread throughout his body. He lifted and though his instincts commanded him to not release the ledge, he found himself reasoning his fingers out of their tight grip, repeating his mantra to trust the blonde. And he was approaching the ground, and he found a strange sense of calm. Trust her, trust her, trust her-

A shout from behind him and that sense of weightlessness disappeared immediately. For a moment, it felt like he was hanging in the air, and he told himself he would now have to catch himself. But she had said to trust her. And he did. As he began to fall, he did not move to try and brace his fall, just trusted and closed his eyes-

The cushioning charm worked miraculously well. He landed flat on his back which, while knocking the wind out of him, hurt much less than if he had tried to right himself and land on his legs. Cushioning charm or not, the impact would have travelled right through his legs and probably sprained something at the least.

Avery was there and he didn't bother to move, instead allowing her to pick up his hands while he waited for his body to finish taking stock and allow air to return into his lungs. His hands shivered at her touch, but he found the smoothness of her thumb comforting to the throbbing, burning pain in his palms.

She loosened her grip but he couldn't have pulled his hands away if he had wanted to - he still felt too surprised to be conscious to have much control. The look of failure on her face, however roused him and he dropped one hand to help prop him up. "No, no - you were brilliant. The cushioning charm worked. Saved my legs, probably! Thank you. Really. Thank you."
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Re: The Fire Blazes, Burning Bright

Post by Avery Bishop on Mon Dec 19, 2016 12:59 pm

Whatever that flying thing was, Keiran was going to hear about it from Avery later. What a monster. Some part of her felt like this castle knew she didn't belong and was out to get her. She hoped, though the instinct was odd and surprising and confusing, that Teddy didn't realize she felt so out of place. And she hoped that he didn't think she was, either.

He took back his hand to lean back on it, and she nearly dropped the other one instinctively. But he was talking and her eyes were back on his and she forgot that she meant to do so. Instead, she bent her legs underneath her and sat back on her calves, her skirt flattening against the floor around her.

"No," she said as her now-spare hand met her other one to cover his in some vain attempt to fix it just by willing it so. It took a bit of courage, but her eyes found his and steadied there at first. "No, not just for that." Oh? Alright. May as well, then, Avery. "I meant what I said last time, about wanting to help. And I- I thought about writing you," she admitted, looking down at her dress despite being suddenly very aware of how warm his skin was from his efforts. "But I..."

Her hand curled in on itself, fingers running slowly up his palm before she flattened them out again. "I know what it's like to have people always wanting to fix you. I didn't want it to be like that. So if you've changed your mind, which I realize now you probably did since you didn't write either, I'm glad I didn't bother you with it. And I'm glad you're okay," she added with a sort of topic-changing finality.

Her hand patted his and she scooted back a few inches, preparing to get up before things could get even worse. "I didn't realize Keiran had asked you for help, or I would have left you both to it. But, I mean, since I'm here... Is there anything I can help with?" She lifted her gaze back to his, forcing a bit of humor and merriment into the look. "Maybe not something that needs to be levitated, to be fair, but..."

Avery gave a little shrug and even cracked a smile as she drew her hand back and settled it on her lap, giving him the space he probably wanted in order to organize himself and get ready to move about again. "Whatever you need."
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Re: The Fire Blazes, Burning Bright

Post by Teddy R. Lupin on Wed Dec 21, 2016 1:18 am

She wasn't having his gratitude, it seemed, and had Maddie been there, she would have certainly laughed and informed Teddy he had met his match in that regard. How many times he had overextended himself and then refused the credit, all for that sense of guilt that had moved into his gut years before, settled in, and never uprooted. The therapist in him knew there was some unresolved sense of obligation, a debt he felt he owed, and that until it was settled, he would feel guilty for any recognition of good deeds. It was one thing to know this, though, and another entirely to not let it dominate his personality.

Curious though. He wondered what debt Avery felt she owed.

She was soon to admit it - at least, the debt she felt she owed him.

He blinked. He had foregone glasses today for contacts, a rare choice - a lucky one, considering his fall - and he was once again privy to a special show, of complex and subtle shifts around her lips and eyes, this time accompanied with slight changes in how she gripped his hand. He could have certainly pulled away too, and it wasn't just civility that kept his hand rooted. Whatever strange spell that had gripped her seemed to have seeped over to him, so much so that he wasn't sure he was breathing, even though his breath had long since returned.

He shook his head. "Don't apologize. You're right - I could have written too. It seems we were both struck by a fear of trespassing." He offered a small smile. "Perhaps we can give each other a pass on risking bothering each other so that we can actually get that cup of coffee?"

Right. Decorating. He did a quick metal scan of his body again and found he was good. Avery slipped away and he sat up, rubbing his palms. "I'm basically done here, just need to put some sticking charms up to make sure it all stays. I do need some help charming the suits of armor to sing. They show up in pairs so-" He stumbled to his feet, wishing he had more athleticism but supposing it was too late to worry about that. He held out a hand to help her up. "-if you fancy a stroll..."
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Re: The Fire Blazes, Burning Bright

Post by Avery Bishop on Wed Dec 21, 2016 2:00 am

Coffee. Huh. Avery hadn't really thought about what talking things over with Teddy would entail, but for some reason, that had never suggested itself as an outcome. Was this was normal people did? She suddenly felt old somehow, as though the last two years had been more like decades, or like she had never actually come to understand social cues. But she'd actually been brilliant at them before Robin. She'd been much better at hiding things, too, so although he hadn't commented on the explanation she had given, she just knew that some part of him was squinting at her.

Of course, that would've been more plausible if he'd had glasses on that day to take off and thus squint properly. Not that she wanted him to. But, the fact remained. Either he was being polite and not asking how she knew what that felt like, or he too was so stricken by the oddity of their... acquaintance or whatever it was so far, that he just couldn't find enough available attention to focus on it. She was grateful for whatever the reasoning was, and made a firm, ink-quilled note in her mind to avoid bringing it up again.

His question was almost roundabout in its makeup, but she hardly minded. In fact, she just beamed at him for a moment before she could regain control over her features. It felt like it took longer than it really did, but she nodded as she bit down on her lip and pulled in the sides of her mouth. "Coffee would be great."

And she decided, just as firmly, to make sure she had a time and date from him before she left or Keiran somehow managed to muddle things up again. Because she knew full well that, even without thinking about it, a part of him would try to.

She didn't miss the way his hands came together after hers left, but she had no idea what to take from it. Perhaps nothing. Overthinking had always done her in, so she pushed that way, focusing instead on his face and on the fact that he was standing up while she just watched. Oh. It wasn't what she had expected upon arriving, but none of the pieces of Hogwarts had really matched her speculation. Not even its professors.

Especially not the professors.

"Well," she mused as she took his hand and brushed off her legs with her other one, "I will definitely need an escort around this place. It's somehow bigger than I imagined. Not that that's really sensible, of course. But, honestly, this place.." Avery shook her head, glancing back up at the ceiling. "I guess, after seven years, this must sort of lose its luster, but.. I can't imagine ever getting tired of this. Durmstrang wasn't without its charms but," she turned her attention back on Teddy, "you know. Wasn't anything like this, to say the least. But I imagine you must be used to it by now."
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Re: The Fire Blazes, Burning Bright

Post by Teddy R. Lupin on Wed Dec 21, 2016 4:21 pm

Teddy had thought she might just agree to the condition, to the release of awkwardness so one of them could finally succeed in reaching out to the other. She, instead, accepted it as an invitation. Oh, thank Merlin. There was still the fear that once they went their separate ways, the comfort of silence would outweigh the fear of overstepping their bounds. The relief of some sort of confirmation tempted a smile, still a bit surprised in nature, onto his face once more.

For someone who had just been knocked off a ladder, he sure had found plenty of opportunities to smile.

Once she was stood up, he glanced about the room and cast a few sticking charms where needed. He had been in the Great Hall for the better part of the morning and was excited to get a jumpstart on their proposed walk. He glanced over at Avery, who had tilted her head to take in the whole of the Great Hall, her eyes bright, lips parted, the lights from the decorations illuminating a golden hue on her skin, reflecting from her eyes.

He blinked and turned back to his work, sending off a final charm. "Anyone who claims to be used to it is lying. Albus Dumbledore was still claiming to find new parts of the school in his final years, supposedly. You could live a hundred years at Hogwarts and never really see all of it. It never stops surprising."

He turned to her. "Ready?"
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Re: The Fire Blazes, Burning Bright

Post by Avery Bishop on Thu Dec 22, 2016 11:46 pm

First instinct when walking with someone she didn't know well? It certainly wasn't to make casual conversation. In fact, her first idea was to ask after where Keiran had gone, but that sounded, she thought, like she was ready to be moving on or like she still just wanted to spend time with her friend instead of Teddy. That wasn't strictly true. She just wished she knew him a little bit better; perhaps then she could have come up with something charming or witty to say.

Although, if she really thought about it, she couldn't place why the charming thing had come to mind. What did that matter? She just didn't want him to dislike her. She really could do with a wider circle of friends, and Teddy seemed like a great one. Or like he could be, anyway.

So, rather than asking about Keiran, she made a point of looking at each portrait that they passed as she tried to come up with something worth saying. Finally, a realization struck her. Sophia would end up here someday. Not in the very near future, but still. There was no reason for her to go to Durmstrang as Avery and Claire had done, but that meant that her little girl would be able to explore these halls and write letters home about them. The very idea was wonderful.

"What house were you in?" She asked, looking over at Teddy. In her hands, she held her coat and scarf, bouncing them against the front of her legs as they walked. "Keiran explained them to me pretty early on after I met him, but I never really have an excuse to ask anyone which they're from. Somehow, most of my friends - even here in the UK - are from Durmstrang. So.. you may have to remind me a little about what yours means."
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Re: The Fire Blazes, Burning Bright

Post by Teddy R. Lupin on Fri Dec 30, 2016 1:42 am

They fell into step and Teddy didn't feel too horrible about the silence, having decided on a whim to drape tinsel as they went. So he worked his wand, the never ending garland following his movements and tacking up onto the wall rather tastefully. He wondered if his knack for making things aesthetically pleasing and homey came from that instinct to rise to the occasion as the head of the Potter household. Not only had he felt obligated towards the big stuff, like keeping them all together and healthy and happy (yeah, good job on that one) but he found himself wanting an orderly home for them, nicely wrapped birthday gifts, all of those useless things you don't realize you want until you lose the people who keep them there.

Right. That's enough Tragic Thought. Back to lovelier things, like Hogwarts, and tinsel, and-

Avery spoke and he glanced towards her, managing to use his peripherals to continue hanging the tinsel. "Right. Um, I'm a Hufflepuff. We're generally the bullied and downtrodden." He offered a lopsided grin. "But really, we're known for our honesty, work ethic, and sense of... justice I suppose? That makes it sound much cooler than it is. Basically, we tend to believe in a sense of fairness, and doing the decent thing. Not even bothering with good or bad, per se. Just decent." He shrugged. An undersell if there ever was one. "Of course, all of the houses have a great variety within them, and there's a certain level of choice that goes into it. And people change but-" Rambling. "But yeah. I'm a Hufflepuff."

He took a moment to concentrate on the tinsel before adding, "So... Durmstrang then." Perfect transition. Absolutely seamless. "Do they just lump you all together? Or each pupil for their own?" That lopsided grin must have been proof that he was trying to make a joke. Good thing too, or she might have missed it.
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