Elation (Worth the Risk #17)

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After having a picnic lunch that Teddy brought with him, Dilwyn allows them a moment of rest to enjoy the view from the hill overlooking the lake. The moment isn’t long enough in Hermione’s opinion, but Hugo’s getting restless by this point, so she doesn’t protest continuing their tour. Dilwyn is an excellent guide, charming and knowledgeable in a way that makes him approachable, and it’s obvious he loves his job.

They finish the tour at sunset and stand in peaceful silence on a mountaintop as the sun fades into the horizon. It’s beautiful and makes her feel calm in a way she rarely experiences. For a brief time, all that the world consists of is nature, and things like work and complicated relationships are forgotten as she marvels at the air, sky, and creatures in this majestic place. When they’re left with a dark sky and more stars than she can count, she shakes her head slightly and focuses back on reality.

Dilwyn invites them to stay for dinner, which Hugo accepts without even asking. It’s obvious that he’s made a new friend, and she imagines she’ll hear about this trip for many days to come. Dinner at the preserve consists of whatever the cook decides to make that day, she learns as they arrive at the dining hall.

There, they meet other employees and Hugo follows Dilwyn around to learn everyone’s names. She sits with Teddy, and they talk quietly until the others join them. Today the cook has made roast with mash and carrots. Her fears of what exactly might be lying around a kitchen somewhere like this are quickly dispelled as she enjoys one of the best meals she’s had in ages.

Finally, it’s much later than she's realized, and it’s time to say their good-byes. Hugo promises to write Dilwyn and assures him they’ll be back with Rose this summer. She receives a book on the preserve accompanied by a cheeky grin from Dilwyn as he makes her promise to not let anyone who hasn’t been there read it. Once Teddy has finished talking with his mate, they take a Portkey back home, leaving Yr Wyddfa behind.

When they arrive home, she pulls her wand out of her pocket and lights the candles so they can see. While the house does have Muggle electricity, she prefers candlelight to the harsh electric lights, so they’re rarely used at all.

“That was smashing,” Hugo says. The large yawn that interrupts his words detracts from the excitement but it’s still obvious that he enjoyed himself.

“It was, wasn’t it?” Teddy grins and ruffles Hugo’s hair.

It’s proof of how tired Hugo is that he doesn’t make the usual face that follows such an action. She doubts it’s long at all before he’s whining and protesting whenever she does it, just like he no longer lets her hug him in public and refuses to be called ‘child’ despite only being eleven. “It was a wonderful day,” she says, smiling at Teddy as she walks over to Hugo. “A very long day, actually.”

“Can I take a bath tomorrow?” Hugo asks hopefully. “I’m so sleepy that I might fall asleep and drown! You wouldn’t want that, would you?”

“Of course I wouldn’t,” she says, watching him smile. “That’s why you can take a quick shower before bed.” The smile fades, and he looks like he’s considering a protest. “The time you spend arguing when you know I won’t change my mind could be spent in the shower getting it done.”

Hugo sighs and rolls his eyes. “I just took a bath last night. Don’t know why I have to be that clean.”

“Because you smell like dragons and a dozen other animals,” she points out. “Besides, daily bathing isn’t a foreign concept to most people. Having this argument with me nearly every night certainly doesn’t persuade me to be lenient on occasion and allow a skip day.”

After a pause in which Hugo frowns in thought, he asks, “So if I don’t argue, you might let me skip sometime?”

“Possibly, though nothing is guaranteed.”

“It’s not fair that you say that, and I don’t know if that means yes or not,” Hugo mutters. “When Grandma says it, it always means yes. Same with Aunt Ginny. You never always mean yes.”

“That’s because it’s better not to be entirely predictable when you have clever children who aren’t afraid to take advantage of their knowledge of your behaviors.”

“She makes my head hurt when she talks with all those big words,” Hugo tells Teddy. “I think she means to do that cause she knows I’ll stop asking questions then.”

“She probably does. Women can be sneaky that way,” Teddy agrees, winking at Hermione when she purses her lips.

"Excuse me, but I do have to point out that it's men who whine and rant in an effort to get their way, which is manipulative as well as obvious and lacking any subtlety at all," she says matter-of-factly.

"I don't whine," both Teddy and Hugo say in unison. Hermione snorts and rolls her eyes.

“I just hope Rose doesn’t get that way, or I might be in lots of trouble,” Hugo declares solemnly. “Living with two girls is tough.”

“I can imagine. Was tough enough for me with Gram,” Teddy says. “And your mum is frowning, so you’d best get upstairs and into the shower before she starts turning pink.”

Hugo sighs and then smiles. “It really was a great day!” He walks over and hugs Hermione, glancing at Teddy, who suddenly finds the shelf of photographs interesting. When he’s not watching, Hugo kisses her cheek and whispers, “I love you, Mum. Night.” He looks at Teddy. “Night, Teddy! Thanks for taking us to see Dil.”

“Night. Sweet dreams,” she says, kissing his forehead before he goes upstairs. Even though it’s been a few years since he’s needed her to prepare the bath and read him a bedtime story, she still feels wistful at bedtime for the time when he was younger. Pretty soon, he’ll be off at school, and she’ll be alone with an empty house that’ll be so silent it drives her crazy. He won’t need her anymore, nor will Rose, and she feels selfish for wishing they could just stay this age for a few more years until she’s ready for them to grow up.

“You okay?” Teddy asks softly.

She smiles wryly and looks at him. “I’m fine. Just having a maternal moment,” she admits. “He’s getting so big and growing so fast that it catches me off-guard sometimes.”

“He’s a great kid,” he says. “You and Ron have done an amazing job with him and Rose.”

“They’re the best things we’ve ever done,” she agrees. “No matter how many promotions we receive or court victories I get, they'll never equal the accomplishment of having those two children.”

He reaches out and brushes her hair back from her face. “Are you tired, too? Or do you feel up to having company for awhile?”

“I am a little tired, but not so much that I need to sleep right now. Would you like a nightcap? I’m still full from that dinner, but I think there’s a bottle of wine somewhere.”

“We don’t need wine. Juice is fine. And, by the way, that’s me saying yes to whatever you want tonight.”


“That’s it? I offer myself up without restriction, and you just smirk?”

She considers it a moment and nods. “Yes, that sounds about right.”

“Evil woman,” he accuses, shaking his head as he smiles. “I’m tired, too, but not that tired. Course, if you insist, we can lie down to rest. On the sofa or, um, well. He’s in the shower, so it looks like it’s sitting on the sofa with enough distance between us to not look suspicious should he come back downstairs.”

“That’s a good plan,” she murmurs, wishing his hair hadn’t gone from turquoise to dark purple when he realized their restrictions. She isn’t exactly sure what that color means, either, but it’s usually a more serious mood, so she’s always a little concerned when she notices it. “I’ll go get drinks if you’d like to turn on the wireless. Or, wait. What time is it? If it’s after nine, Lee will have that ridiculous ‘Late Night Love Songs’ program on his station.”

“It’s after nine, but I don’t mind soppy songs,” Teddy says. “I mean, I am the bloke who reads romance novels. Speaking of, what are your thoughts on 'Pirate's Wench' or have you not had time to start reading yet?”

“Oh, right. You do like those things. And, no, I haven't had time to read it yet. Well, you might not mind, but I’m not a particular fan, especially when he’s in a retro mood while arranging the programming. Most of those songs were awful when I was your age, and time certainly hasn’t improved them.”

“You know, instead of feeling really bloody awkward at being the more girly of this relationship, my manhood isn’t threatened at all because we balance, in an odd twisted way that suits us,” he muses as he walks over to the entertainment area. “How about I just put on a music disc? You have Delphinia Warbeck’s newest, and it’s brilliant.”

“Isn’t it?” She smiles. “I can’t stand her grandmother’s music usually, but Delphinia has such a raw and sultry sound. Reminds me of Muggle artists my grandparents used to listen to when I was younger.”

“That’s settled then. And I’ll be sure to tell George to let Jordan know that the soppy romance songs on Saturday nights should be replaced with new programming.” He laughs and fiddles with the player while she goes down the hall to the kitchen.

She’s reaching for glasses when she feels him come up behind her. The fact that she can sense him, even before she smells him, is something she decides not to think about right now because it’s just not the time. She can distantly hear the sound of Warbeck from the sitting room down the hall, and she isn’t surprised when she feels Teddy’s hand on her ribs.

“The shower stopped after you left,” he whispers, moving his fingers up and down her side as he rubs her shirt against her skin. “Then I heard the door to his bedroom close.”

“It’s too dangerous, Teddy,” she says softly, gripping the shelf without touching the glasses. “It doesn’t take him long to fall asleep, but he could easily decide he wants a drink of milk before bed.”

“After the workout that Dil gave us today, I doubt Hugo will do more than collapse into a well-earned sleep.” He moves his hand higher, his fingers barely brushing against the underside of her breast. “And it’s Ted.”

“Ted, stop,” she moans, not sounding at all threatening when he’s touching her this way. He presses against her back and rests his chin on the top of her head, which she should find annoying. Instead, she focuses on the feel of his hand on her breast and tries to figure out what he intends to do with his other hand.

“I don’t wanna,” he whines before he leans down and kisses her neck. She can feel his chapped lips through her hair and then he finally moves his other hand. She bites her lip when she feels it on her belly, teasing with the hem of her shirt before his fingers touch her bare skin.

“God, you‘re infuriating,” she whispers, pushing back against him so she can turn. She reaches up and moves her fingers into his green hair as she pulls his head down and kisses him. He moves his hand behind her, gripping her bum as he presses closer. He’s not fully erect yet, but she can feel his bulge against her belly as he rolls his hips forward. She parts her lips and nips at his lips, sucking his bottom lip into her mouth as she moves her hand behind him and beneath his shirt. She lightly scratches his back in the spot she’s learned is sensitive, and is rewarded with a low groan before he deepens the kiss.

It’s been too long without kissing him. It’s best not to analyze the fact that it’s only been a couple of days since they last kissed. One kiss becomes another as they lean against the cabinet, touching everywhere they can reach. A loud thump from above startles her, and she accidentally bites down before she can pull back. Teddy pulls back, and she cringes. “It fine,” he says, his tongue obviously bitten despite his best efforts.

“I have to go check on Hugo,” she tells him, straightening her shirt and bra as she hurries out of the kitchen. She feels terrible, and calls over her shoulder, “Sorry.”

When she gets upstairs, she’s breathing hard and her arousal has been replaced with concern. She opens Hugo’s door and finds the lights off. She lights her wand and sees him sitting on his bed, looking guilty. His hair is wet, which means its curlier than usual, and he flashes a sleepy smile. “Hello, Mum.”

“Don’t you ‘hello, mum’ me,” she says. “What was that crash?”

“Nothin’,” he drawls, blue eyes blinking up at her as if butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth.

“Try again.”

He yawns and lies down. “I was trying to fly like the dragons we saw,” he admits. “You angry?”

“You were trying to fly?” she repeats slowly.

“With my blanket like wings, but it didn’t work so well.”

“No, I imagine it didn’t,” she says, shaking her head.

“I’m sleepy,” he murmurs. “Just had to try cause I got the idea and couldn’t sleep until I did. Figured it wouldn't go so well, but I didn't expect the loud crash. Got caught, didn't I?”

"You definitely got caught." She wants to be annoyed with him, but she can’t fault his logic. After all, how many times during her childhood did she have similar thoughts? “Just be careful and keep flying for daylight hours in your room only,” she says.

“Of course,” he says. “I’m not stupid, Mum.”

“No, you aren’t,” she agrees, walking over to tuck him in. When he gives her his increasingly common ‘oh, mum’ look, she arches a brow. "Don't give me that look; I was worried and ran upstairs to look in on you, so I've earned the right to tuck you in."

“Didn’t mean to make you worry,” he mutters, allowing her to tuck him in and kiss his cheek. “Is Teddy still here? If so, tell him sorry for flying so late.”

“Just get some sleep now. You’ve had an active day,” she says, smiling as she leaves his room and closes the door. When she heads downstairs, she prepares herself to find Teddy gone. After all, she bit his tongue and rushed away, probably leaving him bleeding or in pain.

Instead of finding an empty house, she sees him sitting on the sofa with two glasses of juice on the table in front of him. He’s sticking his tongue out and wiggling the end in a way that makes her have to bite her lip to keep from laughing.

“Ou hurt ma tongue,” he tells her, turning to look at her as he tries to glare. “Kiss it bettah?”

She snorts. “Nice try, Lupin,” she says, crossing the room to sit beside him. “Is it really bad?”

He shrugs. “It fine. Huo otay?”

“He was trying to fly like the dragons, using his blanket as wings.” She leans forward and kisses the tip of his tongue as she moves her fingers into his hair. “Better?”

“Yeah,” he murmurs as he reaches for the glasses. He hands her one and then moves his arm around her shoulders.

The juice is refreshing, and she sips it as she leans against him and listens to the sounds of his heartbeat and the music. She doesn’t try talking, knowing from experience it’ll be a few minutes before he’s able to speak normally. When he starts to rub her arm with his hand, she smiles. “Feeling more normal now?”

“A little, though I might need more kisses to make sure it’s better,” he suggests. “So, he was trying to fly?”

“Yes. I swear, he can get these insane ideas sometimes and just won’t calm down until he tries. What’s even worse is that I can’t even scold him too much without being a hypocrite since I was the same way at his age.”

“What do you mean at his age? You still get crazy ideas and have to try them, they’re just much less dangerous and more work focused now.”

“And, sometimes, they’re still risky and complicated,” she murmurs, looking up at him. “I know I’ve said it before, but today was really amazing. It was an excellent idea, and Dilwyn is lovely.”

“Yeah, he’s one of the few blokes from school that I keep in touch with, even if it’s via owl instead of in person. I’m just really glad that the idea occurred to me, because it was a great day. Plus, you got to meet one of my only friends.”

She smiles. “What was he whispering at you about?”


“When we left the hill?”

“Oh, right. Um, well, see, it’s embarrassing, which means I’m not likely to repeat it. Especially when I could remind you where we left off earlier.”

“I had a feeling it might be,” she admits. At his curious look, she moves her fingers through his burnt orange locks. “Your hair was bright red.”

“Bugger,” he mutters. “I’m usually much better at controlling it, but I tend to just relax with you and not bother. You’re going to be all stubborn and refuse more kisses until I tell you, aren’t you?”

“I would never force you to talk about something embarrassing, Teddy,” she says softly. She looks at him seriously. “I respect you too much for that sort of game playing, though it isn‘t something I indulge in anyway.”

“I know. I didn’t mean---” He sighs and kisses her soundly before he says, “He was teasing me about a crush I had on you years ago, complete with singing this ridiculous song he made up at the time regarding you, me, snogging, and a tree. He realized who you were when you introduced yourself, and the bloody git couldn’t let the opportunity pass without telling me that I was behaving like a lovestruck puppy and being too obvious.”

“Did he---”

“No,” he says firmly. “I laughed it off, took the teasing, and he thinks it’s a past crush.”

“How did you know what I was going to ask? Am I that predictable?”

“Not at all, but I know you want it to be secret, so I figured that was what you were worried about. Even if Dilwyn suspected something, he’s not the type to tell anyone. He’s one of those quiet loner types that the girls all seem to find so sexy. Too bad for them that he’s into boys.”

Well, that answers her suspicions about Dilwyn knowing Charlie, since she doubts he’d have ever been able to resist someone as nice looking and likeable as Dilwyn. She doesn’t mention that, of course, because Charlie’s personal life isn’t hers to discuss. Instead, she smiles and kisses Teddy slowly and thoroughly, not in a hurry now that Hugo should be asleep and they have all night. When she pulls back, she asks, “Will you stay over tonight?”

“God, yes,” he says softly, tracing her lips with his thumb. “That’s something you don’t even have to ask, you know?”

“What if I like asking, to make sure?”

“You can ask anytime then.”

“Good.” She kisses him again before she rests her head on his shoulder. It’s been a wonderful day, and the evening is going well, too. She has juice, good music, and Teddy, so she’s happy until it’s time to go upstairs and finish what they started in the kitchen earlier.