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you stand there waiting, she turns & walks away; & you discover that timing is everything

on Sat Nov 04, 2017 11:49 pm
October 3

Things were going great.

Even with his many failures (and there were many) Teddy couldn't help but feel his optimism getting ahead of him. He had done what he could make up for the surprise he had sprung on her when he had met her family, going as far as to call out sick (something Keiran could obviously find out was false) and surprise her at work with Sophie (after an hour long lecture from Else on how to properly care for the little girl in the twelve and a half minutes he would be alone with her) for an impromptu trip to the zoo and park. He wasn't sure, but he was getting the hang of this being a partner to someone. After having hung his hat on the fact that he knew how to be good to people, it had been a difficult reality to face that he knew nothing really.

But Avery was teaching him.

They had managed more outings that they had expected, but not nearly as many as they had wanted. He was really beginning to love his work, even with all of his insecurity as an educator, and he knew Avery was working hard to find passion in her own job, so work had not been kind in allowing them time, but their own desires to see each other had allowed for a few triumphs.

As the night began to take over, they apparated off to his home. Jag's dogwalker had taken the week off, forcing him to check in on daily on the dog that had never been the same since Lily had moved away. Avery had graciously agreed to accompany him and Teddy could not help but feel like there was some electric potential in the air. He had been to her flat, to Bridget's, her office, and she had been in his office and living quarters, but they had never been in his home, a place not shared by inquisitive almost-four-year-olds, nosy coworkers, or intimidating best friends or stern sisters. There was something uniquely private about this visit and he felt nervous for no real reason.

They arrived on his street, and he laced his fingers in hers, enjoying the crisp air of October, in no particular rush, drawing his warmth from the kindness of the person next to him. He waved his other hand. "This is it. The home I never see anymore."
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Re: you stand there waiting, she turns & walks away; & you discover that timing is everything

on Sun Nov 05, 2017 12:55 am
This was the thing: Avery had been trying so, so hard not to tell him. She had promised herself that she wouldn't, because it might complicate things. But on the other hand, they were dating now. They were a thing. She really needed to stop using the word 'thing,' so much, but it was hard to really focus on her thoughts when he had said he needed to drop by his house and check on Lily's dog. So now they were walking down his street, their fingers intwined and her spare curled around his arm where it always seemed to land. Before Robin, she had considered what this sort of private walk and evening could mean. But it had never been a reality, and now she found herself breathing a little unsteadily at even the idea that something might happen. After so many months, the pair of them as responsible adults should not have been so anxious about it.

More than that, she wanted him to know first. Maybe she was just far too old-fashioned for this world these days.

So as night continued to fall, the street lights came to life in front of them, almost as if they knew the pair of them had arrived. Avery smiled fondly as he spoke, taking it all in as her boots crunched over a line of fallen leaves. "It's so peaceful," she mused, somehow pleased to know he lived somewhere nice. She turned her head to look at him, and maybe it was that whole 'potential' idea toying with her mind, but she just felt like --

Pulling him to a stop beneath one of the lamps, she released his arm to instead reach for his side, brushing gently over the fabric. Her eyes followed the movement for a second before she looked up at him, a completely content smile on her face. "Today was brilliant," she began, unable to find a better word for it. "Always is, with you." Her fingers squeezed his. For once, she was glad that they weren't headed home to Sophie. In fact, she had arranged for Sophie to stay with Keiran that night, knowing that if she managed to get the words out, she wouldn't be able to sleep anyway, and it would just stress her baby out.

Anxious though she was, she used her discomfort to step closer to him as her hand reached up for his jaw. It never made it there, though. She didn't finish her sentence either. It started with, "For a while now, I've wanted to tell-"

But then someone else spoke up. Just his name. But just enough to pull her hand back and her attention away, surprised and thoroughly disappointed.
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Re: you stand there waiting, she turns & walks away; & you discover that timing is everything

on Sun Nov 05, 2017 3:29 am
He hadn't appreciated his home as much as he knew he should. To him, it was too full of people who were no longer there, their memories packed up in boxes, crowding his basement, their rooms empty and bare or, worse still, preserved as though he still held onto the vague hope that one day they would show up again and all be a happy family. The home was a reminder of all those who had left, but as he walked down the street with Avery, he could not help but think his home may now be a beacon for all those yet to join him inside.

Seeing it through her eyes helped too. She was someone who lived in a place of uncertainty and almost-pessimism, but always erred on the side of hope and always ventured bravely, and so often alone, into the land of optimism. Through her eyes, there was a magic in the falling leaves, a comfort in the welcoming sting of oncoming winter, a familiarity in the cobblestone beneath his feet. It made him want to befriend his neighbors, to take a weekly walk, to invest in a way he never had before.

"It kind of is," he said, only appreciating it as much as he should now. "I wish I had more time to enjoy it."

He turned to her and shook his head at her sentiment. "I don't think it's me. I've spent a lot of days in Hogsmeade with myself and it's only brilliant when you're with me." He knew he had come so far that he could now say something like this and not feel like punching himself in the face or dying of embarrassment.

She drew near him and he felt that bubble of potential swelling in his chest, something about to burst-

"Teddy."

He knew that voice, but that tone was new. His face crumpled into confusion and his arm came out to catch Avery's arm, turning.

There was Bernice, the woman who had become his friend before anyone else, had stuck by his side for so long, had been the first to understand him, so it had seemed. She stood there, clutching a tight brown leather jacket over his slender frame, hair falling over a face marred by tears. "B-Bernice?"

She had been sitting on his stoop, but now she stood up, long legs unfolding beneath her. Teddy looked to Avery and rubbed her shoulder, saying, "Sorry, I don't know- that's my friend Bernice. She's sort of my Keiran, I guess. We've known each other- but we haven't talked lately. I don't know what's going on."

But he didn't want to leave her on the street either. He looked between the women and then took Avery's hand, leading her towards the doorstep and his friend.

"Bernice?" he said as he approached. "What- What's going on? Why are you here?"

Bernice's eyes darted between Teddy and Avery, eyes shining with tears as she reached up and wiped them with the heels of her palm. "I'm sorry. I really am. If I had anywhere else... But I shouldn't have. You're with- I'm sorry."

"No, no," Teddy said, voice heavy with concern. He looked to Avery. "Um, do you want to go inside? There's drinks in the kitchen, and a comfy chair in the living room. It's straight down the hall. I'll be there soon."
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Re: you stand there waiting, she turns & walks away; & you discover that timing is everything

on Sun Nov 05, 2017 6:24 am
Teddy had a Keiran? Avery had never even known. That was a little disappointing, though she honestly wasn't sure why he would've felt he had to keep that from her. But, oh. They hadn't been close lately. So that... made some sense, she supposed. Not as much as she wanted it to, but still. Avery hadn't really noticed how very few people Teddy had introduced her to. She'd just taken it as him being as lonely as her, but even she had Keiran and her family. She was in no rush to meet the Potters or anything, considering what she'd heard from him and others. But Teddy didn't at all seem like he was trying to hide her, and he didn't seem like he would be all that great at deception for such a long period of time. There was no way.

No, definitely not. This was just a misunderstanding. Oddly, and entirely because of her desire to feel correct about how much faith she'd put in him, she just knew that he wasn't being devious in not mentioning this Bernice woman before.

He hadn't let her back away, which was a good sign as well. Except then he was walking her over as if introductions were going to happen with this poor crying woman, and luckily that wasn't true. So when he turned to her, suggesting she wait inside, Avery shook her head fervently. "No, I-- This seems private. If you know I'm waiting in there, you'll just feel uncomfortable the whole time, won't you?" It wasn't really a question. "I'll just go," Avery decided for them, hating the words even though she knew they were the right ones. How long would it be before she saw him again? Too long. And she hadn't even gotten to tell him...

"I'll go," she repeated, more quietly this time in hopes that she wouldn't come off as condescending to this stranger. "And you take care of her. She needs you." So she squeezed his hand once more before pulling away and taking a few steps back, reaching for her wand so she could disapparate.
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Re: you stand there waiting, she turns & walks away; & you discover that timing is everything

on Sun Nov 05, 2017 7:15 am
This compassion and understanding was exactly what made him feel so much better about putting himself out there with Avery, knowing she was always striving to think the best. In that way, he felt less horrible about being awful about things - though no less determined to change that either. Her eyes, though swimming with confusion, had widened with concern for his friend, a friend she (admittedly) knew nothing about because he had mostly forgotten about her. Sawyer, Audrey, Bernice, even Valerie... all ghosts of a life in which he had only felt the edges of comforts. It was amazing how much less lonely and more inspired he felt with just Avery in their place.

His hand fell down to hers as she reached for her wand and he squeezed it, saying, "Thank you. Send me an owl when you get home safe, okay?"

He wanted her to stay. He wanted Bernice to not be here and to hear what she had to say and where they were headed. But he doubted Bernice would have just shown up for nothing. And the fact that she had stepped away and was staring determinedly at her feet was evidence enough that the issue couldn't wait.
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Re: you stand there waiting, she turns & walks away; & you discover that timing is everything

on Sun Nov 05, 2017 7:30 am
Avery looked up at him again when he reached out, likely trying to make sure that she was okay with this. One last chance for her to change her mind or something. One last chance to say what she'd started to. But it wasn't right. She couldn't anymore. Not with his friend waiting for him and looking that devastated. So she just nodded, confirming that she would do so. "Of course. I just have to pick up Sophie first. Now go," she urged him with what was nearly a laugh, but was a smile at the least.

Except she wouldn't end up sending him anything. Because she would arrive at Hogwarts to find Keiran, fuming more than she'd ever seen him in her life. He'd taken Sophie to Grandmummy Bishop's and come back to wait for her. And so she utterly forgot to send an owl after racing home to fret over the outcome of his news. He would find out later that week about how Avery had been approached by Elliot. That she had known all along that there was a chance, but hadn't believed it would matter after he stormed out. But Keiran was devastated and it made her want to hug Sophie to her and try to think of what she could do to help. And so she completely forgot, some part of her subconscious figuring that he would be too busy and wouldn't need to take on this burden as well.
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Re: you stand there waiting, she turns & walks away; & you discover that timing is everything

on Sun Nov 05, 2017 7:30 pm
He left her with a smile and he supposed that was the best he could hope for in this situation. His eyes were warm and fond on her as she drew away, wishing he could follow, wishing the night had gone as planned. But he knew life was messier than that and there was something sort of beautiful about it.

He let out a breath and turned to look at Bernice. "Let's go inside," he said, nodding towards the door as he took a step onto the porch.

"No," she said, shaking her head, moving slightly to bar his path. "No," she repeated, relaxing a bit, offering a small smile. "Sorry. I just think it'd be better if I just... say it and go. If I go inside, I dunno. I dunno." Her face suddenly crumpled with concern. "I'm sorry I interrupted. I didn't mean to- I should have owled, or-or at least been around so seeing me wouldn't be so sudden and weird."

He shook his head, leaning against one of the bannisters. "Communication's a two-way street. It's never wholly on one person."

She shrugged, letting out a sigh. "Maybe." She toed the ground thoughtfully, and then nodded. "Yeah. Yeah."

It was so easy to remember meeting Bernice for the first time, this spunky little muggleborn who had done ballet her entire life and couldn't understand why everyone else found it so hard to just sit and study. She knew nothing of his parents and when she finally understood, she had quietly stood by him and shut down any unwelcome comments with sharp, sharp eyes. She was so disciplined and yet laughed so easily. Social but studious. She had been something of a hero to him growing up, so of course he had grown attached as they got older, as she turned from a cute, gangly girl into a beautiful, graceful woman.

But they had grown up. And she had grown distant. And their friendship has become less of an active force and more of a familiar memory. Besides, she had Valerie.

"Valerie's done."

What. Oh. What?

His face reflected this sentiment exactly, and he blinked in confusion. "Done?"

She nodded, and he could see her getting more breathless. "Yeah. I just... It hit me. It's been there for awhile. We were always so on-off, and I thought that meant because we were meant to be together but if we were, we would have just... been together, y'know? We were supposed to see a show tonight, she was surprising me, and it was..." She let out a sigh. "Oklahoma." Teddy sucked in a breath, and she immediately lit up, gesturing wildly towards him. "See! See? You know. You know better than anyone exactly how much I hate that show. But Valerie bought the tickets and when I reminded her she said whatever but... I know it's stupid. It's probably petty, and unfair. But that meant a lot more than just a misunderstanding. It's this pattern of-of inattention to detail and insensitivity and inflexibility and I was sitting there, trying not scream during the dream ballet and I realized..." Her eyes found his. "You would have known. And if you had forgotten, which you wouldn't have but let's say you did, we would have left. We would have found a hole in the wall restaurant or something like the time we ended up in that film that was way too scary."

She was staring earnestly at him and he felt his heart thudding in a way he might have once found thrilling but was disconcerting. His throat was dry. "Okay."

She rolled her lips inwardly. "I know there has always been something between you and I that we've never nailed down, or even properly explored. And tonight, I wanted to be next to you. So badly. I might have even sat through Oklahoma if I was with you. And it's taken us so long that... I didn't want to wait."

The world was... spinning? Or melting, maybe. Because this wasn't real. This wasn't real and it wasn't fair.

Bernice stepped forward and took one of his hands. They immediately tensed and he withdrew them slightly, her eyes widening as her chin lifted. He dropped his own gaze and one of his hands fell to his hips as the other reached up to pinch the bridge of his nose. He could feel her looking at her with concern and he heaved a sigh. "I haven't seen you in like... three months."

She bit her lip. "I know. I know. And I'm sorry. I am. I have been... rotten. And I should have been at least... half as good as a friend to you as you have been to me. To everyone."

You've spent your life helping people, and I think that means that sometimes your problems go unnoticed. Like I said, people just don't realize they ought to ask.

She stepped closer, and he couldn't quite move away. "I'm not wrong, am I? About how you've felt?"

He couldn't lie, he couldn't fake. He had always been horrible at lying. He quietly shook his head. She wasn't wrong. But as she moved to reach for him, he said, "But for the past year I've been... with someone. Falling for them." He lifted his head, his jaw tightening.

She blinked, surprise capturing her features. "Oh." She offered a faltering smile. "Good. I mean, I'm happy for you. That's... you deserve that. You do."

“I hope so,” he said, dropping his gaze.

“You do,” Bernice said, stepping forward to put a hand on his shoulder. “Teddy, you do. And I hope that she…” She sucked in a breath and closed her eyes. “Look. I don’t… I’m not trying to change your mind. But if things don’t work out, I’ll be waiting.”

Teddy smiled a bitter smile. “Yeah?”

“Yeah,” she said, earnestly, clueless for once. “I will. I’m telling you, I realized-“

“Bernice,” he said, lifting his head. “How long did I wait for you? And every time, every time Bernice, it always came back to Val.”

“It won’t! Not this-“

“Time? History begs to differ.”

Her cheeks sucked in and he could see a sharpness in her eyes, not quite tears, not quite anger, somewhere in between. “So… Okay. That’s fair. I’ll just go.”

Teddy laughed. “Oh, you just come back and tell me we should, what, be together forever and that it’s now or never and then, just, go?”

Bernice flailed in frustration, a gesture that was so familiar to Teddy it was almost home. “Well then what do you want to do?!”

*  *  *

Teddy wasn’t sure he had any right to be on her doorstep. He knew it was way too late to be here, that he should have just sent an owl, but this didn’t feel like a conversation he should have over owl.

But how was he going to even explain why he was here?

It started with knocking on the door.
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Re: you stand there waiting, she turns & walks away; & you discover that timing is everything

on Sun Nov 05, 2017 8:11 pm
Avery dropped her coat on the back of the couch, kicking off her shoes next to the door where she was teaching Sophie to keep them. But then someone knocked and she let out a gasp before staring at it. What? It was already a crazy day, and nobody visited her. Maybe it was Keiran, unable to sit still and looking for someone to drink with. If Avery had been more concerned about Teddy and that Bernice woman, she might have joined him. But of course, it wasn't Keiran. Why would it be?

She opened the door, confusion fading into joy and then back into confusion when she saw how strange he looked. "Teddy?" She questioned slowly, one hand still on the doorknob and the other curling across her stomach. "What's wrong? I'm sorry I didn't write-- I went to see Keiran and he was panicking about something, so I just got home. Are you-- What happened to your friend?"

Just looking at him, she knew her quick rambling wouldn't help anything. He seemed so lost, and she was just anxious because of Keiran and his kids and about failing to tell Teddy how she felt and now he was upset. "I'm sorry," she added quickly, reaching out for his hand and tugging him towards the doorway. "Come in. Tell me what's wrong."
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Re: you stand there waiting, she turns & walks away; & you discover that timing is everything

on Mon Nov 06, 2017 2:19 pm
He had been too distracted to really process the fact that she had not sent an owl, but somewhere his mind registered that she didn't seem to have been home for long. She looked remarkably unchanged from when he had parted with her, just minus coat and shoes, but surely at this time of night she would have been preparing to go to bed.

But this was only a faint observation, as Avery Bishop's face almost always put on a show that was usually a joy for him to take a front row seat to. She was surprised, but happy, and then concern gripped her features and he felt that monster of guilt beginning to claw up the sides of his stomach, desperate to find a foothold. And she was apologizing (Merlin, where was your mercy) and giving explanations (and he knew full well he didn't have a proper one) and she was asking about Bernice (and he almost wished he had never met the brunette).

She invited him in and he stood there, staring at her, her large eyes soft with worry and care and his own lips couldn't help but buckle. But he drew his chin down and reached a shaking hand up towards his face, not sure where to put in, bracing it against his lips, sliding up his nose, wanting to punch himself in the head. Maybe he should have slept on it. Maybe he should have just owled her to make sure she was home safe. But he knew he wasn't going to sleep. And he knew if he came to her with this 'solution' tomorrow, she would have hated herself for thinking everything was okay in the meantime.

He shook his head, trying to speak around tightened vocal chords. "I don't want to wake Sophie," he said, his voice low and directed at the floor as he fingers continued to pinch the bridge of his nose. "And I don't want to keep you up. But I..."

He lifted his head, meeting her gaze. He had to be fucking brave if he was really feeling this way.

He nodded and let her take his hand, incapable of really squeezing back, and let her pull him inside.

The coward.
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Re: you stand there waiting, she turns & walks away; & you discover that timing is everything

on Mon Nov 06, 2017 3:56 pm
The hand at her stomach curled into a fist as Teddy broke and her mouth fell open in surprise. Something dreadful must have happened to his friend, Avery determined, stepping forward right as he started speaking. She'd never seen him so upset, and realized that she didn't know what to do. Was it a good or bad idea to hold onto him? Would he rather have his space to speak, or would he not want to talk at all and instead just want someone to sit with him?

"She isn't here," Avery supplied, tone as frightened as her frazzled nerves. "It's okay, I don't mind."

He let her coax him into the living room, her wand taking care of shutting the door and keeping the chill out. It then lit the fire and set about making tea before Avery really turned to Teddy, both hands taking hold of the one she'd latched onto, trying to rub a bit of warmth into his fingers. It wasn't fair to wish that she already knew what was wrong, since it was obviously very personal for him. But she did. She wanted to help and to really be there, rather than thinking through everything that could be wrong until she knew.

For once, she turned off the fretting in her head, a sort of calm washing over her as she looked at him, determined to be whatever he ended up needing. "Teddy?" She started again, quiet but steady and as warm as her expression. If he had shown up at her door this late, looking like that, it had to be something huge. "Darling, why don't we sit down? Then you can tell me what's going on. Hmm?"

Avery tugged a little, inching towards the couch even as a cup of tea came floating in to hover and then settle on her side table by where she was thinking he'd end up. She wanted to reach up and run her thumb over his jaw, his lips, his shaking chin. But he looked too broken so she decided to be careful and slow about it. Sitting, first.
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