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O-Okay

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Re: O-Okay

Post by Keiran Hayes on Wed Feb 08, 2017 5:53 am

Keiran glanced away when Teddy began to process what he'd explained, if only to give them both the privacy that they needed and deserved after a story that blunt. It was hard, though, for him to explain things any other way when they hurt as badly as this one did.

Teddy was right about one thing, though. Avery and her daughter had Keiran to look after them, if nobody else. It was the clause attached to that sentence that scared the headmaster more than anything else as far as the girls were concerned. If nothing else. If nobody else.

"I probably shouldn't have explained it quite like that," Keiran admitted after silence had reigned for a bit too long. "It's just-"  He looked at the other professor again, "-It's just that nobody else is going to do this stuff for her. And I get it. It's a lot, and most people can't deal with it. Or they just don't want to, probably."

One hand lifted to scratch absentmindedly above his right eyebrow. When it fell, Keiran just shrugged. "Look, I don't know what you are, or are not, feeling when it comes to her. I know you've only just met. But you really need to take all of this into consideration before anything kicks off, mate." After that, it was impossible to hide the way his concern gripped him.

"You can't let her become invested without laying down some kind of boundaries. You can't get to know Sophie unless you're not considering boundaries at all. You get me? It's early days, I get that. But for her, it isn't. So I'm going to down to the kitchens to grab a few things, and I think that you should take a couple minutes while she's in there and doesn't know what we've been talking about. I need you to decide which way you're going to take this, Teddy. Because you don't get to leave and come right back, or stick around and disappear on her. You know that. So, if you want to stay for dinner you're welcome to. But you're also welcome to leave without me judging you."

Swallowing back another couple of sentences that he surely could have strung together, Keiran took a few steps backwards before turning and making his way out of the portrait hole, his ward in front of the bedroom disappearing along with him.

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Re: O-Okay

Post by Teddy R. Lupin on Wed Feb 08, 2017 11:25 pm

Teddy didn't like this new ground he was on with Keiran, feeling like he had stumbled into new territory in which Kieran didn't trust him. He had started fancying himself to be one of Kerian's trusted professors, one of the people Hayes could count on to get extra work done. Teddy hadn't done it for the Headmaster's approval, having wanted to do a good job for himself and for his students. But earning the respect of someone he respected had been a definite perk.

(And maybe he had started considering the idea of actually befriending Keiran, too. He felt rather friendless lately, and that had been a tiny inkling of a hope. But whatever. That was obviously a lost cause.)

Because the thing was... Keiran was almost... disapproving. Teddy tried to remind himself that it probably had less to do with him and more to do with his loyalty to Avery, but it all came down to a sense of Teddy not being good enough to spend time with Keiran's best friend. Which was jarring, given what Teddy had begun to assume about his relationship to the Headmaster, but he supposed it was fair. Teddy didn't have a great track record of supporting the people close to him, despite his desire to help. And being a good employee did not necessarily qualify someone as a friend or companion.

"Look, I don't know what you are, or are not, feeling when it comes to her."

Oh, Merlin, he didn't know that he could own up to the beginnings of his feelings now, not that Keiran had made it so clear that he wasn't ready.

That's when it struck him. If he had been wrong about Keiran, it was fair to assume that Keiran could be wrong about him as well.

The Headmaster's concern was sincere, but so was Teddy. His warnings were not lost on Teddy, who was busy reminding himself of who he was. He wasn't wasteful with emotion, and he didn't form connections where there were none. He couldn't remember the last time he had wanted to earn someone's regard, couldn't remember a time where he would gladly take on the burdens of someone else without trepidation. He felt like a better person in just the short time he had spent in Avery's company. And that wasn't something he could ever take for granted.

And Keiran left, before Teddy could say anything. Keiran wanted to see Teddy's decision, not hear it.

So Teddy turned and glanced around. A small smile touched his face and he began to set the table, figuring the small invasion could be forgiven, all things considered.
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Re: O-Okay

Post by Avery Bishop on Thu Feb 09, 2017 12:29 am

It wasn't long, really, before Sophie fell asleep. Avery opened her eyes to find her daughter looking perfectly cozy, tucked amongst the blankets. And, predictably, that gave Avery a serious sense of relief. Carefully, she reached out to check on Sophie's fever, which was unfortunately still there. But it hadn't been more than ten minutes, she thought, since Teddy had advised her what to do. So while she wanted to go see what Keiran was making and if Teddy had already left, she didn't really want to leave Sophie on her own, either.

Particularly since she was uncertain that Sophie would cry out if she needed help.

So Avery sat up, trying not to jostle her little one, and looked around the room for a couple of ideas. Taking a chair, she set it next to the bed, and then she gathered a few spare pillows, spreading them out on the floor. Sophie was far too small to get all the way down, safely, by herself. So she determined that she would check in often until they woke her for dinner, and made her way back into Keiran's living room.

Pulling her hair up into some semblance of a bun, Avery picked up a stray blanket and draped it over the couch, thinking that they both must have stepped out since the place was fairly quiet. Keiran's kids were staying with Bridget for the next week, and from the looks of things, Sophie had shown up after he'd taken them over there. So Avery hoped that the twins and Darcie were alright.

Worry still swallowed her, though, and she took to the kitchen to pick up one of the scraps Keiran kept for letter writing, deciding to send something to Bridget just in case, and to tell her what Teddy had advised. If nothing else, she could know what to look for.

But then she heard it. Someone was in the kitchen, moving things around. "Keiran?" She called, walking through the archway and stopping short. One hand curled around her stomach as she halted, while the other tried to drift towards her hair before she stopped that as well. It doubled over across her other arm.

"Oh."

Merlin, help her, but she was so pleased.

Drawing her lower lip between her teeth and leaning against the counter just inside the entrance, it took her a moment to come up with anything worth saying. Luckily, she managed to say it with a steady voice when she did speak.

"I'm glad you're still here."
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Re: O-Okay

Post by Teddy R. Lupin on Thu Feb 09, 2017 3:53 am

At first, he felt all wrong alone in Keiran's kitchen. He felt like a burglar or a peeping tom or some other type of voyeur, peeking into a life over which he deserved no influence. Especially considering the dark implications Keiran had made over his sentiment towards Teddy. But Keiran had given him a challenge that he wanted to rise to, and if that meant feeling a little awkward while he searched for plates, he could deal.

He didn't want to seem foolish, but he couldn't help but conjure a pale blue tablecloth, something to make the effort known, no matter how subtle or small.

He had no idea what Keiran was planning on serving. Teddy just wanted to make it clear that he was willing to be apart of a solution, rather than contribute to a problem. He set out plates and silverware, started preparing a kettle of tea, filled glasses with water, and had started on the few dishes left in the sink, pausing when he heard the sound of footsteps. He wiped his hands on a dish towel and turned in time to see Avery step through the door.

She looked surprised, and he had not really counted on getting caught alone with her again. "Hi," his throat managed to produce, his face frozen in a look of surprise.

But then she spoke and his face melted into a smile. "I'm glad I am too."
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Re: O-Okay

Post by Avery Bishop on Thu Feb 09, 2017 5:27 am

Avery didn't think, at first, to look around and see everything that Teddy had done. She hadn't forgotten. Couldn't forget. But she wasn't foolish enough to think that whatever his question had been, it was somehow the sort of thing that could just be tossed out. Some things depended upon timing, and bucking up the courage and everything else. But his smile was encouraging. And that brought a similarly shy smile to her own face, her gaze warm after it lowered and managed to find him again.

It was just a bit of a shame, though. She really wished he'd smile fully. Avery couldn't believe it was anything but lovely, yet Teddy refused to be anything but reserved, apparently. Perhaps it was just that he hadn't known her long enough.

Only then did she notice what he was doing. It was terribly charming, that funny domestic streak that had apparently hit him. Her attention drifted to the table, properly taking in the fact that Keiran had gone out for some reason, and a flicker of surprise darted across her face. The shorter hairs at the front of her face tickled at her cheek and she reached up to brush them behind her ear just as she opened her mouth to try and offer an attempt at a proper conversation starter.

But the kettle went off and she jumped a little, crossing to take it off the hob. As soon as her back was too him, she felt almost uncomfortable about it - as though she were purposefully making it harder for them to talk. But she set it down on the tray nearby, turning her back to the counter once it had stopped shrieking at them.

For a moment, she didn't know what to do with herself. But very suddenly, and to the point where she just couldn't help it, Avery started laughing. It just could not have been more awkward, but the kettle had filled that gap for them.

Lifting a hand to her mouth, she forced herself to stop. "Sorry," she offered finally, grinning. "I- The timing was just... too perfect."

Finally, when she was able to button her lips, Avery tilted her head and gave him back one of his closed-lipped smiles. "Y'know... Considering everything we talked about earlier, it's genuinely impressive that fifteen or so minutes can change how easy it is to talk."

Her smile slipped a little, and the amusement behind her eyes turned a bit earnest. "It doesn't have to be like that," she assured him with a shake of her head. "...I- I need to write to Mum- well, Keiran's mum. She has his kids and I want her to check to see if they have what Sophie's got. Could you help me? So I explain it right?"

She picked up a piece of parchment and gestured towards the couch in the next room. "I need to stay nearby to keep an eye on Sophie. She's never really talked, so I think I ought to check in first, but.." Avery trailed off with a shrug, managing to still appear casual despite being unable to find the words. She wasn't sure if she could physically handle the anxiety that came from their apparent inability to have a conversation, and if that became normal, Avery wasn't sure at all what she would do.
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Re: O-Okay

Post by Teddy R. Lupin on Fri Feb 10, 2017 4:40 am

And so there they were.

Knowing they were both glad to be in that kitchen, all awkwardness and vulnerability aside, or perhaps it was because of all the awkwardness and vulnerability that they were especially glad. Teddy could only assume on Avery’s behalf, but today had been significant for him, one of the first days in a long time that he had actually extended himself outside his comfort zone, had volunteered information and not felt like (too much of) a burden. And after divulging such sensitive information, he didn’t feel like hiding from her and avoiding her for the rest of his life.

Quite the contrary, actually.

The silence that gripped them wasn’t awkward, not entirely. But what did somebody say after all they had said to each other? A simple ‘what’s for dinner’ hardly seemed appropriate after all the sensitive information they had exchanged. And what was he to say? He probably should explain why he was still there, where Keiran had gone, or ask after Sophie. Yeah, the more he entertained what should be said, the more he realized there was still plenty to be discussed.

Their mouths opened in unison, and he flinched when the kettle interrupted them. Avery was much more graceful, quickly turning her attention to the task at hand as she went to rescue their tea, causing him to turn and look awkwardly at the sink, as though it would offer up something to be done. But, rudely enough, the sink did not such thing, and he turned back to look at Avery, a hand wandering to the back of his neck.

And then she started laughing. His eyes widened and he froze, suddenly horrified to think he must have done something to warrant laughter. He glanced down at himself, looking for whatever fresh embarrassment had ruined everything this time, but she continued on, explaining her sudden mirth, and a grin stretched across his features, warily at first, and growing until a laugh spilled from his own lips, infected by her smile.

He shook his head, still grinning at her words. “Yeah, I imagine that’s my fault. Hard to talk with so much foot in my mouth.” He offered a lopsided smile, his first attempt at a joke in ages.

If you could call it that.

But she needed help and he straightened up, much more at ease to have a task. “Of course,” he stammered out, as though admonishing himself for not having anticipated her need. He followed her to the couch and settled next to her, but something caught his attention, and before he could stop himself with a reminder that it was none of his business, his medical curiosity got the better of him. “She hasn’t talked? How old is she?”
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Re: O-Okay

Post by Avery Bishop on Sun Feb 12, 2017 1:16 am

Avery had seen all manner of smiles, and could have categorized them if she wished to. Keiran: rare and typically sarcastic. Robin: shockingly frequent, also mostly sarcastic. But Teddy's? Avery hadn't the foggiest idea how she coaxed this one out of him, much less the more subtle ones. But she really, really liked it.

They seemed to be doing well, all things considered. He always seemed happier to be of some use to somebody, which she could have pointed out put him in the same camp as his boss, so she was glad to find that her attempt had worked.

But his reaction was one she had tried to avoid. The need to explain it had drawn the words out of her, while her desperation to keep their exchange positive had made her dance past the issue.

Avery's gaze dropped to the floor, color marring the skin across her cheeks. "She-she's two and a half, nearly."

Shame. This was what shame felt like. Avery was used to guilt but this felt massively different.

"The more we talked about it the worse she got. It just embarrassed her, I guess. And I- I had a phase like this when I was younger. But I don't-" her hands met in front of her stomach, fingers pulling at one another, "I should've figured it out by now, probably. But pushing seemed unhelpful, and she's not even shy, really. Just silent."

She's made him promise. She had told Robin the very day they found out about Sophie - warned him that she couldn't do it. That she wouldn't be good at it. And Sophie had seemed so happy before he left. When she was just Ari, and they lived in a rambunctious household full of laughter and fun. Avery looked over her shoulder towards Keiran's room. What the hell had she done to her own daughter?

My fault. My fault. My fault-

Shame.

Her eyes jumped back to Teddy, as if he could somehow read in her reaction the fact that she had literally only recognized her part in this right then. Her voice was tiny when she spoke again, miraculously managing to keep from crying. "I thought it would fix itself at some point. I should've- I mean, how am I meant to-? Oh, Merlin." Her shoulders sagged. "I have no idea what I'm doing anymore."

Then. Then she turned away and the tears welled up.
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Re: O-Okay

Post by Teddy R. Lupin on Mon Feb 13, 2017 6:58 pm

He realized his mistake the second his question tumbled out of his mouth, but he was powerless to stop the effect. Her cheeks bloomed red and her eyes fell, and he could hear a sense of shame in her voice. His throat was dry, otherwise he would have already backpedaled and assured her that he meant absolutely nothing by it, that there wasn't any judgment or accusation in his question.

But the damage was done.

She kept talking, as though hoping to find something in her explanation that made Sophie's silence less worrisome, but her tone was as unconvinced as she seemed to be. He had truly been just asking after her age, trying to confirm what he had already supposed, a question he probably should have asked before he had even begun examining the little girl. But now it seemed like he was questioning Avery's abilities as a mother.

And nothing could be farther from the truth. A woman that had managed to stay strong for her daughter after her husband died was already a marvel, especially considering Avery's remarkable ability to stand alongside her friends. She had cause to be much weaker than she was, and yet, she smiled, she laughed, she went out of her way to hear his own tragedies. And when word came that her daughter was under the weather, she was there as soon as humanly possible. No, Teddy had no reservations about Avery as a mother.

She turned away and something inside of him kicked him into action, and he sputtered out, "A-Avery, I didn't mean..." But he knew it didn't what what he had meant. She had gotten to this new realization on her own, and he would blame himself for causing her such distress for quite some time.

His eyes softened and he frowned. "Hey," he said softly, stepping over towards her. So far, she had done all of the reaching out. The invitation to talk, the invitation to get coffee, and all the little touches and smiles in between. His arm slipped around her shoulder and, before he could lose heart, he pulled her to him, his other hand reaching up to rub her arm. "I think you're doing a great job," he said, his voice a low murmur, the hints of a smile despite the thudding of his heart. "Kids take their own time. My cousin is fifteen and getting a word out of her is like pulling teeth." He gave her a squeeze. "Sophie's great, and she'll be fine. She has you to look to."
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Re: O-Okay

Post by Avery Bishop on Tue Feb 14, 2017 3:59 pm

Her hand was halfway to her cheek, ready to stop any escapees in their tracks, but suddenly he was there, holding her together before her panic could threaten all of the work she had done on herself in the past year and a half. Thus, her hand didn't make it and they flowed as freely as they wished, those tears. It took her a moment to respond, but as his hand found her arm, Avery looked up at him - just briefly - before letting herself fold into his chest. One arm remained between them, though in some ways she felt oddly reassured by the way his arms could encircle her. Her spare hand reached up, just enough to skim her fingers across his side on their way to his back.

Merlin help them both, she reminded herself, if Keiran returned and saw this.

But she really just didn't care. Keiran had always been good at comforting people, but that had changed since the divorce - as though affection for anyone but his kids was wrong and some kind of betrayal despite his and Millie's mutual decision. So this? Avery couldn't help but want this. She even let her head settle naturally under his chin, even though she knew he probably hadn't been going for that at all.

Avery didn't remember how warm an embrace like this could feel. Or how she would obviously be able to register the sort of scents Teddy preferred in soaps and things. And she only half noticed them now, instead focusing on the way his voice changed when she had one ear resting against him. And on the words themselves, of course.

When he came to his conclusion, she pulled in a shaky breath. She, of course, wanted to argue against his claims, but she didn't. How long had it been since she just accepted help, or praise? Rejecting his attempts, no matter how guilt-driven or uncertain, would get them nowhere. She wanted to be a part of something again. Not apart from it. Surely even a friendship with someone like Teddy would be enough. Avery could admit that it somehow felt like it could never be enough, but they hardly knew each other. This was already so much more than he had ever asked for. Than he probably ever would have.

Lifting her chin, she looked up at him again, more resigned than anything else. But comforted, certainly, in the matter of her daughter. Except-

"I think I'd give up anything in the world just to hear her laugh again."

Bloody hell. Avery immediately recognized how open she had been throughout the day - how blatant she had been and how much she had actually enjoyed it. Enjoyed being that way. "Thank you," she added, her voice still a little small as her hand skimmed forward again to rest at his side.

Sophie. The twins. Darcie. They had things that needed to be done before Keiran came back and it was time to eat. But she almost forgot how to step away at all. The hand curled between them turned over, palm settling on his chest. Her lips thinned into a line for a moment as she tried to make a decision.

"She was asleep when I left. Do you think-? That is, could you maybe try and see if the potion's been helping? I can get the letter started so you don't have to sit there," she glanced at the couch in the next room, "just waiting." A gentle smile curved her lips, once she finished, because it finally hit her that just his hug and his voice had been enough to stop her panic.
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Re: O-Okay

Post by Teddy R. Lupin on Tue Feb 14, 2017 5:41 pm

This would be one of those moments suspended in time, a tableau Teddy would conjure to his mind when he began to feel alone alone and outnumbered, when he would worry that Avery might be getting tired of him, when he would feel despondent over the solitude of life. It was a quiet reminder that every stranger had a story they wanted to tell, had a life of troubles and heart full of intentions, and that if you found that right stranger, you could cross the threshold from strangerhood into something more, something sincere and those once strangers could hold themselves together against the barrage of an unfair life.

She didn't pull away, she didn't grow rigid at his touch, but slowly fell into his embrace. Her head found the space just beneath his chin and he tilted his head, letting his cheek rest against her blonde hair, taking in the scent of her floral shampoo. His hand left her arm and travelled to her shoulders, before drifting to absent mindedly rub her back, hoping to give her any of the comfort he might have inadvertently stolen from her.

Yes, this was a good moment to have frozen in time.

He felt her head move and he tilted his own so he could look at her, and while part of him was reeling from the closeness of them, the intimacy of the moment, he focused instead on her words. He offered her a small smile, one meant more than anything to convince her of his own belief in the statement.

"You will."

Her words travelled back to the letter and Sophie and Teddy nodded, taking her cue and breaking the embrace. He felt emptier without her being so close, but he could feel a lingering sensation, as though the ghost of her touch remained. He nodded at her question, "Of course I can." It seemed strange to turn his back on her after their hug, as though he were embarrassed. And, while he was initially surprised at his sudden tenacity to reach out, he definitely wasn't embarrassed now.

"I'll do my best not to wake her," he said, before turning to slip into the room to check in on the little Bishop girl.
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Re: O-Okay

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