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Better late than never

on Sat May 20, 2017 5:23 am
Teddy felt like an idiot.

This wasn't new, of course. But he was feeling it especially today. And on a few different levels. Which was interesting.

Keiran had made a comment that had been offhand in nature, said in passing, but it had wriggled into Teddy's mind and got him thinking. And then, when thinking wasn't helping, it got him digging. And then it got him feeling like the biggest jerk around. So he did something he hadn't done in years.

He took a personal day.

Teddy took a personal day knowing full well that the Headmaster (a man he was still very anxious to get the approval of, by the way) was almost guaranteed to find out the exact reason he had taken the day off, and would have every reason to tease him for it as well. But he did it anyway. Because it'd be worth it. He stopped by his place, first, to pick up the parcel he had wrapped the night before, and then stopped by the store for a few more things, feeling foolish and uncertain but guided by his desire to make it right.

The receptionist eyed him suspiciously as he approached. He cleared his throat and said, "For Avery Bishop. Please."

"You know it's not her-"

"Yeah I know."

"It was back in-"

"Yes, I know," he repeated, failing to keep his teeth from gritting together. "Could I just-"

"I'll get her."

"Oh, Merlin no, please, I'd rather-"

But she was doing bustling off, doing exactly what Teddy had feared she might - turning his gesture into a big scene. At least a bigger one than he meant.

Because of this, there was a small crowd, there was a small crowd peeping out of the hallway when the receptionist returned with Avery in tow. And, almost feeling more idiotic than he ever had before (but knowing it was totally worth it) Teddy held out the balloons, candlelit cupcake, bundle of balloons, and present towards Avery, offering an apologetic smile.

"Happy belated birthday, Avery."
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Re: Better late than never

on Sat May 20, 2017 6:47 am
Avery Candace Bishop was happy. She didn't even offer a mental bleh at the stupid memories that drifted up when she remembered her middle name. But things were going rather well for her this year, surprisingly. Not as well, mind, as those first few months with Robin. She knew that, eventually, something would be able to compare to those days. Something.

Someone.

But for now, she was feeling content enough to call herself Happy.

She hadn't expected, though, to be interrupted in the midst of filling out a form to register a newly rescued Hungarian Horntail. James had done an excellent job of keeping the dragon safe, and was setting up a place for him, but it needed to be documented in case any questions were asked down the line. Soon, she hoped, she wouldn't be sitting in an office but rather would be helping too.

Looking up, she was surprised to find Monique in her doorway. Curious eyebrows lifted, but the answering explanation shocked her even more.

"The man at the desk has balloons."

"I- .. Sorry?"

"Balloons. For you."

Okay, so that was a new one. If this was some attempted prank, she would not be amused. She wasn't any sort of boss to anybody, but she'd find a way to make them feel sorry for making a fool of her.

Yeah, right. Of course she wouldn't. She hadn't the foggiest idea how she might go about doing any such thing, so instead, she just furrowed her brow and stood to walk out with the receptionist.

By the time they turned the corner, Avery had decided to take whatever it was with an air of interest, if not excitement. After all, balloons were unusual and that could be quite fun. Laughing as Monique reached out to surprise Danny on their way down the hall, she was still beaming when she caught sight of Teddy down by the desk.

Avery blinked, coming to a halt almost instantly. It took another step or two, but she stared, amusement still lingering there behind her confusion.

"He knows it isn't your-"

"I figured as much," Avery nodded. But then she broke forward, glancing down at the cupcake. Bemused, she felt her lips quirk upwards at the sides before she met his gaze again. For a woman who knew such loss, her eyes held so much warmth for the man in front of her. So much, in fact, that Monique couldn't keep her mouth shut about it.

"Are you two, like, a thing?"

"Sort of," Avery shrugged, a cheeky smile accompanying a faint blush. Because while she didn't know what, exactly, to say was happening... she didn't care too much. Whatever this was, it was nice and cozy in a fluffy kind of way. Teddy was someone she trusted, already, around Sophie. Who she knew her friends - okay, admittedly, it was just the one friend at the moment - would like.

He was someone her father and Aiden would have wanted for her. Clearly.

So she reached a hand out to his arm, carefully avoiding the lit candle as she lifted up onto her toes to kiss his cheek. "You're too sweet, Teddy. Seriously." But she didn't have any problem with that, as evidenced by the fact that she didn't glance towards his gifts but focused instead on him. Perhaps the Lupin man would start to understand what it was like to be the sole interest of one Avery Bishop. Because Keiran could've told him - it sure was something.

"You truly didn't have to do this. Didn't Keiran tell you when it was? That dinner was more than enough for me."
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Re: Better late than never

on Sat May 20, 2017 10:20 pm
What he was scared of seeing was a fall of an expression, an uncomfortable grimace, a muttered thank you, and the certainty that he had misread the situation and gotten a little weird. The possibility of this didn't strike him, of course, until it was too late to do anything about it. Now he just had to face whatever fate he had signed for himself and trust that, if he were to die of humiliation, death would be swift and almost painless.

He could feel the effect of her eyes, even from so far away. He felt his legs go a little weak, even as he shoulders tightened and lifted, a strange dichotomy of weakness and strength that he knew came with choosing to care about someone.

(As if he had a choice with her.)

The smile had that same effect, sending a fluttering in his stomach and a pulse of electricity through his nervous system, while simultaneously giving him a sense of relief and certainty. Okay. She liked it. She liked it. It wasn't too weird.

He smiled against her sweet kiss and dropped his chin to look down at her, glad for any excuse to avoid the prying and simpering gazes of her coworkers, whose reactions ranged from near-swooning to eye-popping eyerolls. "I just sort of felt like a massive idiot for spending your birthday with you and not actually celebrating," he said. "And Keiran didn't exactly say - but I pieced some other things together so... I hope you like chocolate." He offered her the cupcake. "I also have this," he said, showing her the package. "I dunno if you're busy but maybe I can steal you for lunch or coffee?"
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Re: Better late than never

on Sun May 21, 2017 11:20 pm
When Monique let out a stupidly loud sigh of both approval and jealousy, Avery blushed and offered Teddy a conspiratorial smile. Her hand drifted down his arm to settle above his elbow, and she took a step towards him so she could more properly block out the people around them. Despite wondering what other things he could be referring to, she was more than happy with his suggestion.

"I do like chocolate," she confirmed, her voice low like she was trying to share a secret with him. Avery released his arm to take the proffered treat, but nodded and gestured with one hand for him to follow her. "We should probably leave the balloons in my office."

We. Gosh, that was a nice feeling. A nice word, even. Was that a weird thought to have? Oh well. Avery didn't care.

She gave Monique a chiding shake of her head as they walked past, but only received a thumbs up behind Teddy's back. So they continued on, and Avery led the way into her office, cradling the still-burning cupcake, and didn't even think before shutting the door behind him with her foot.

"Lunch," she told him, "would be fantastic. I just need to send something off to James real quick. You can put those," Avery pointed towards the balloons, "wherever you like."

So she set the cupcake down carefully, rolled up the paperwork for James and tied it to the leg of one of the office owls, watching it hop a couple of times before taking off from the windowsill. Weirdly, the bird's departure pointed out to her that they were alone. It hadn't been too, too long since she'd last seen him, but two dates in two months was a rather spread out period of time, wasn't it? But she couldn't help how busy she was with Sophie and work, and he obviously had students to attend to.

Avery turned back around, an almost shy smile pulling at her lips before she eyed the candle again. "Oh." It was unbelievably charming, this whole surprise. Months late or not. That fuzzy feeling bloomed in her stomach again, and she leaned forward on her desk to try and hide how strongly she was reacting to it. Mind, she wasn't trying to act like it was nothing. It obviously wasn't. But nobody had gone out of their way for her before. Not like this. And she had no idea what to do.

Her elbows found the top of her desk, her chin drifting into her palms as she closed her eyes. Just for a moment. This was the part where she was meant to make a wish. She knew that. But absolutely nothing came to mind. Nothing she could let herself wish for without a bit of guilt or fear creeping in. So she made a little wish for Sophie instead: that her darling little girl would find her courage, so she could someday happen upon someone as wonderful as her father. As Teddy.

And then she opened her eyes to blow it out, smiling fondly at the little plume of smoke and hoping it had heard her. Hoping, however stupidly, that it would help.

That taken care of and the fire hazard doused, she stood up straight again and moved around the desk to return to him. It struck her rather out of nowhere just how handsome he was, and she determined, not for the first time, that is probably had a little something to do with those slipping glasses of his. Merlin, she'd missed him. They'd only met - what, four times? Who cared? It wasn't too little to feel like it wasn't enough.

Invading his space, she brushed her fingers along his sides on their way around his middle. At first, Avery pressed her cheek against his chest, but then she turned her chin to look up at him. "Thank you."
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Re: Better late than never

on Tue May 23, 2017 10:42 pm
He could tell that most of those gathered were approving of his gesture, but he could hardly care about that. His only fear when it came to her coworkers had been accidentally embarrassing Avery in front of them. Now that he could see she was pleased, he was mostly indifferent to them, incapable, as he found himself increasingly moreso, to focus on anyone but the woman before him. He hated that he had so little time for her, and knew they were both just very busy people with a tendency to take on more responsibilities than was healthy for either of them.

But summer was approaching. He'd be free again. He would take the summer to live and be happy and to evaluate whether or not he was in the right place in his life - and he would spend every chance he got with the beautiful woman that had somehow tricked herself into thinking he was worth her time.

He'd sure try to prove her right in that regard.

The gazes of her coworkers were a little unnerving and he found himself relieved as he followed her to the office. He grinned as she agreed to lunch and he carefully released the strings of the balloons in the corner of her office, before turning to watch her work, failing to keep an affectionate smile off of his face as her fingers deftly attached a letter and she focused on getting her things together.

Her eyes fell back on the cupcake and he felt a small swell of pride, finally overcoming his surprise that this had not backfired spectacularly and just enjoying the success of the moment. Her eyes closed and even though she was the one entitled to a wish, Teddy could not help the million little wishes that blossomed in his stomach as he watched her.

She approached him and slipped into a hug and he happily obliged, wrapping his arms around her and leaning his head against hers, a deep breath of contentment filling his chest before releasing. He glanced down at her, smiling back at her -

and he wanted to kiss her, yet again, but it didn't feel right. Not yet.

"So where do you want to go?"
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Re: Better late than never

on Wed May 24, 2017 5:07 am
Her mouth twisted to the side a little bit in consideration. Anywhere, she wanted to say, so long as you're coming with me. But, obviously, that was too cheesy and too much for the little bits of his time that she had taken and shared. It only made matters worse that she was hyperaware of his arms and where his hands settled around her.

He expected a reasonable answer. So she needed to come up with one.

But suddenly, as one might expect, she couldn't think of a single place. Besides the fact that Sophie was staying with Keiran's mum. And obviously, she couldn't expect that to go over particularly well. He was quite good with Sophie, though. Perhaps there was a workaround they could do with that thought.

"Well," she started, inching back a little as she accepted the fact that he might not be comfortable with it, "Sophie is staying with Keiran's mum today, but, I just thought how she's basically been there all week besides right before bed. I'm sure she's fine and all, but if you wanted to we could maybe pick her up and go somewhere? I wouldn't presume you'd want to stay at Bridget's or anything but I think Sophie would actually quite like to see you."

So she offered an uncertain, closed-lipped but hopefully still warm-enough, smile as her fingers drifted back towards his hips. "We could always do lunch at, like, Eli's or something instead, though."

And then, predictable as ever, she shrugged the whole thing off so he wouldn't feel bad about it either way.
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Re: Better late than never

on Sat May 27, 2017 8:00 am
A year ago, Teddy had felt utterly lost. It was right before he had taken the job at Hogwarts, and he had been drowning in guilt and misery at his inability to affect any change with his patients. He hadn't seen Lily in months, had felt Sawyer pull away, and Bernice had more or less finalized her disinterest in him. He had felt uncertain, directionless, and utterly alone.

So much had changed. Though he and Lily had not really reconnected, they saw each other on a regular basis and he could feel a relaxation to the tension that had once been there. His job, while he wasn't yet certain it was his dream job, was a much happier, more comfortable position and he found himself enjoying the exhaustion that stemmed from his work. And though he still had seen almost nothing of Bernice or Sawyer, he had found a much more lovely social circle.

Not so much a circle. A line or so.

A lovely line.

His face lit up at her suggestion. Some part of him would later feel guilty, feel as though he had no right to look forward to seeing Sophie, but she was a charming girl, and there was something strangely comforting seeing Avery with her daughter. Despite the ghost that followed the blondes, there was something wonderful about knowing they would always have each other.

"That's perfect," he said. "Wouldn't be a proper celebration without her. Forget Eli's - we should go to something with a pirate theme, or a ball pit."
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Re: Better late than never

on Sun May 28, 2017 8:39 am
Avery was immediately certain of one thing: Excited Teddy was her new favorite. Her trepidation, obviously, had been for nothing - and she almost couldn't believe it. Who'd designed this guy and why had he bothered to pay attention to her when he could have snagged just about anybody? The fact that she didn't have to worry about him seeing Sophie as some form of baggage was unbelievably relieving.

Looking up at him, she all but beamed as she tried to come up with a place that fit his description. That, and the whole wanting to kiss him thing. Both were quite distracting. But Avery couldn't quite bring herself to do that first.

It didn't nag at her or anything, but after that almost outrageous first kiss with Robin, she didn't want to mess up the next first one. So she was actually quite content to let it happen whenever he wanted it to. Besides, there was a little part of her that wanted to be sure he felt like it on his own.

So she drew back, reaching for his hand, and led him over to the floo. When they stumbled out into Bridget's living room, Avery laughed a little as she brushed the soot off of his sleeve. But then, in came her second mum. And if she hadn't been excited before, Avery was positively overflowing at that. Because one look at Bridget told the blonde that she knew exactly who he was. And Merlin, if Bridget wasn't impressed.

"'Ello, love," Bridget offered, openly surprised at their arrival but affectionate nevertheless. "Everything alright?"

Avery nodded, her smile turning a bit shy. "Yeah, brilliant. We were going to take Sophie to lunch if you two haven't eaten yet, that's all." Her hand drifted up and down his arm. "Mum, this is Teddy. And, Teddy," she glanced up at him with a proud glint in her eye, "this is Bridget."

Stepping out of Bridget's way when the woman stepped forward to hug him - probably a touch too firmly, Avery kept part of her attention on the pair of them while she inched down towards the hall to try and find Sophie. In the library, her little girl was sat playing with a tiny kiddy puzzle. Avery crouched down in the doorway, waiting a moment to see if she'd be noticed. Finally, she just gave a little knock on the doorframe.

"Baby," she greeted gently, thrilled when Sophie dropped her piece and scrambled to her feet to hurry over. "I've missed you! Came home especially to see you, in fact. I have a surprise, darling. You hungry?"

Sophie nodded fervently, so Avery stood and gestured towards the living room. Once the two-year-old got to walking, Avery moved alongside her. "Teddy's come to see you. Isn't that exciting?"

Of course, as she asked the question and stepped back into the room where Bridget was of course being charming as ever, Avery realized that Sophie wasn't next to her anymore.

"Not Daddy."

The entire world stopped. It might have actually ground to a halt beneath her feet.

Avery, unable to so much as think, gasped loudly enough for it to be awkward. One hand went to the molding along the wall and the other to her mouth. But everything was moving in slow motion. Turning over her shoulder, the hand covering her lips fell away as she stared at Sophie. Avery knew - she really did - that reacting like this would not make her daughter more inclined to speak on a regular basis. But her heart felt like it was literally a piece of paper torn into pieces and abandoned on the floor in front of her. She just didn't know how to get ahold of herself.

Sophie was gesturing at Teddy even as she watched her mother, thoroughly confused. Which meant, by the way, that Avery was very wrong about one of her assumptions. She had always feared that Sophie would not be able to remember Robin as time went on. Photo albums were constantly at the ready, and Avery had prepared herself to pull memories out down the line. But Sophie knew, for now.

And she'd talked. A full sentence, technically, which was more of a relief than anything else. It was then that she questioned whether or not her daughter had actually been asleep when she left Keiranís room to talk to Teddy that night, but even if she hadn't -- this was an enormous step forward.

Even if Avery felt like crying.

Sophie left her spot, moving towards her mother very carefully, like she somehow knew she'd broken Avery. "M-Mum?"

Avery dropped into a crouch, drawing Sophie into a hug that might've been a touch too tight as well. But the beginnings of tears started drying up at the word. Leaning back, Avery ran a hand over Sophie's hair, across her cheek. She couldn't help the smile that broke out across her face, but she still withdrew that hand to brush away her tears.

"I know, baby. I know it's not. I should've explained -- This is Teddy," she clarified, heavy on the pronunciation as she pointed towards him. Sophie looked over, nodding slowly as understanding took over. "Remember? When you weren't feeling well?"

Sophie nodded again. And although Avery'd hoped for a bit more by way of response, she couldn't find it in her to complain. "Alright? Come say hi, yeah?"

Perhaps even more shocking than what had already nearly done her in, Sophie wandered towards Teddy before glancing back at her mother for a moment. Then she looked up at him and offered a tiny, whispered, "hi."
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Re: Better late than never

on Tue May 30, 2017 5:27 am
He all too happily took her hand and followed her to the Floo, realizing only once it was too late that he was about to meet Keiran's mum, who was basically Avery's mum. And if meeting his boss's mother wasn't intimidating enough, he was also facing meeting the mother of the woman he'd really like to continue seeing. Thank Merlin that taking the Floo was an activity better done with eyes closed because he could look as frightened as he needed to without Avery worrying, as she
tended to do.

But the moment that the elder woman approached him, he felt some of that anxiety roll away. There was a pinprick of uncertainty, as he wasn't nearly confident enough to feel completely at ease, but the woman had a comforting presence and a pleasant smile. He was introduced and had hardly stepped forward with an offered hand when he was pulled into a hug, his eyebrows shooting upwards in surprise. A moment later, however, and he relaxed and politely returned the embrace. Once he was released and had a chance to step back, he smiled sheepishly and said, "Hi. It's really nice to meet you. I've heard a lot about you from Avery."

Teddy decided, almost immediately, that he liked Bridget. There was a gentle tenacity in her that reminded him a bit of Ginny, though his godmother had been a bit of a wreck in her last few years. But happy Ginny who could be both loving and formidable... He saw a bit of that in Bridget, and found himself grateful that Avery had such a woman in her life.

He heard Avery approach with Sophie and he turned, his eyes falling to the little girl and an enthusiastic smile beginning to stretch across his lips to greet her, when-

Oh no.

Oh Merlin.

The smile slipped right off of his face and the happy feelings attached to it plummeted down his throat and landed heavily into his stomach, sending shockwaves reverberating through his body. Never before had he felt so out of place, so wrong. There had been moments of guilt and shame, where he felt like he was trying to steal someone else's life. And then he reminded himself that Avery truly seemed to like him, and she deserved a life after loss, and that, surely, he was better than nothing.

And Sofie had seemed to like him. But how could he ever compare to Daddy?

He felt Bridget's eyes on him and he took a step back and away from Avery as she turned towards her daughter, a move that was just as apologetic as it was deferential. If he could have melted into the atmosphere, he would have done so right there, as cowardly as it was, as selfish as it was. He wanted nothing more to spend the afternoon with Avery and her daughter but how could he enjoy himself when he knew at what cost it was for the youngest Bishop.

But despite her gasp, despite what looked like a move to wipe away tears, there was a strength in Avery's voice that kept Teddy rooted to the spot. He blinked as the woman gestured his way and then felt his throat constrict as the little girl toddled her way over to him. Her voice was small but it rang so much louder in the face of her usual silence and he found himself lowering to her level, balancing on his ankles as he reached a hand out for her to shake. "Hello, Sophie. I'm Teddy. We met before, but you might not remember me. How do you do?"
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Re: Better late than never

on Tue May 30, 2017 7:55 am
It was so strange. Both Bridget and Avery had watched Sophie's expression go from shocked, to excited, to utterly devastated, and then on over to curious. But as Teddy crouched down to Sophie's level, Avery could no longer see her daughter's face, and Bridget wasn't watching the smaller blonde anymore either. Instead, she watched as the sheer heartache and fear crossed Teddy's face. She looked over at Avery when he sank onto his heels and her surrogate daughter drew in a shuddering breath. As naught but affection swept over her features.

Quietly, and without Avery even noticing, Bridget made her way out of the room to give them a moment.

Sophie clasped her hands behind her back at first, rocking back and forth on her feet. Avery, nervous that he'd be left hanging, stood just enough to make her way over to the pair of them. Then she sank completely onto the floor, tucking her feet underneath her so the bottom of her dress could drape over them. One hand reached out to Sophie's hair, combing through gently.

"We feeling shy, now, Sophia? You're doing so well, love." Avery tilted her head to try and grab her daughter's attention, but Sophie was looking between Teddy and his extended hand. Perhaps she was deciding that if Bridget had hugged him and her mum had invited him over, he was alright. Or she was properly remembering the funny faces he'd made while she sat on Uncle Keiran's floor, coloring away until dinner.

Either way, she unlocked her fingers and dropped her little hand in his. And something about that struck Avery directly in the heart. Her eyes flicked up to his face, unsure what, exactly, she thought she might find there. But Sophie clammed up a bit, pulling away again after just a few moments.

"Darling, why don't you go find your shoes, hmm? We'll go somewhere nice for lunch."

Avery gave Sophie a smile and a firm nod, dropping her hand so the little girl could back away and scuttle off. After looking after her for a moment, Avery spun back around to look at Teddy. And, Merlin help her, but she was proper smitten. Despite the moment of panic, he'd been brave in the face of it, and so gentle with Sophie.

Lifting herself up onto her knees, she stopped once she was eye level with him, and brought a hand up to his cheek. A flicker of apology pulled her eyebrows down. But it was appreciation that settled and remained after the worry passed. She thought about voicing that thanks, but Avery had no doubt he could see it there.

This? This was the sort of man that Robin would have wanted in his daughter's life. Regardless of her heartache and how long it had taken to learn the truth and how desperately she had loved Robin, she felt - deep within her gut - that this was true. That actually, despite an absolute lack of previous belief in any sort of higher power, made her wonder if Robin hadn't somehow wanted this from wherever he'd ended up. It was an almost irrational thought, and a fleeting one because it was such a leap and so not the time.

She had plenty of time to contemplate what any of this could mean, and there were more pressing matters.

For example, the fact that she was feeling more and more unable to keep from kissing him. "I hope you realize how much this means to me," Avery whispered, finally finding her voice. "All of it. I just--"

She looked down, stopping on the way back up when she noticed that her thumb had inched down towards his jaw and the corner of his mouth. Her blue eyes were bright when she glanced up to his darker ones. "You're rather spectacular, Teddy." Brave, kind, clever and handsome -- it was a wonder he hadn't run for the hills already, really. Why hadn't he? Because Avery had prompted Sophie into approaching him? Her stomach twisted uncomfortably as she started to draw her hand away. Just in case.

"I know it's a lot. She's shy, but, I mean.. I do think she likes you. It isn't like she's ever talked to anybody else, y'know? Perhaps she'll warm up after a bit."
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Re: Better late than never

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