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Teddy Lupin and the Daedalus Maze, Chapter Eighteen: Christmas Under Quarantine, pt. 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Teddy Lupin and the Daedalus Maze, Chapter Eighteen: Christmas Under Quarantine, pt. 3
Though the plague wasn't cured, some sense of the normal is restored when the recovered Maurice discovers a dreadful development--Corky and Honoria are going out! This causes him to call an emergency meeting with Donzo and Teddy, who have no solution to the problem, but once it's talked out, Donzo shifts the focus to keeping Teddy from going back to "brood" over things that aren't his fault. Teddy feels uncomfortable with it, but after an afternoon playing Tarot poker with his friends, he is more rested than he's been for some time.

This section is largely for passing time; not a lot happens in it.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




That night, Teddy went down to Slytherin to collect Neil. Corky and Honoria were with him, and Teddy noticed for the first time--though he thought he might have seen it all along--that they were standing close to each other, oriented in one another's direction.

"Maurice mentioned something?" Corky asked.

Teddy smiled. "It may have come up in passing."

Honoria moved closer to Corky and narrowed her eyes in a threatening sort of way.

Teddy shook his head. "Don't worry. I think we've talked Maurice off the ledge."

Her eyes opened in unfeigned surprise. "Er... thank you. If that means that you and McCormack aren't planning to... I don't know."

"Teddy."

Neil's voice was developing a distinctly hard edge, and Teddy decided to save any potential digs at Corky for later. He put a hand on Neil's shoulder and led him upstairs.

"Now," he said when they reached the seventh floor corridor, "we just need to pass back and forth three times, thinking of what we need--a safe place for you to transform."

"With real dirt on the floor," Neil added. "Nothing to clean up."

"Right."

They passed the mural once, twice, three times (the boggart continued to present itself as a half-formed werewolf, and Teddy guessed that Neil's boggart was the same as his own). The door appeared--worn, rustic wood with iron moldings. Neil opened it.

The Room of Requirement had become a jungle-like greenhouse, with a lot of Professor Longbottom's larger plants a box of loose topsoil that took up half of the floor.

"Will this do?" Teddy asked.

Neil swallowed. "It should. I've never done this alone before."

"I wish I were an Animagus. I could stay then. Professor McGonagall is--"

"No." Neil waved his hands in negation of the idea, and Teddy remembered what he was trying to hide in the first place.

"All right, then. I'll do some charms so that no one accidentally hears you. And I'll be right outside," he added, without thinking about it. Neil looked like he was about to argue, so Teddy said, "I'd appreciate it if you'd go inside, though. It's getting close to moonrise."

Neil backed inside and shut the door. It disappeared from Teddy's view. He sat down on the floor under the mural.

An unearthly scream broke the stillness--pain and desire mixed together--and it became a triumphant howl. Teddy could feel the little prickles of his hair as it stood up along his back. This would have been the bugbear of his childhood, this horrible sound that Neil Overby was making. He'd have heard it every month, unless Dad had chosen to go away, which would have been scary as well.

Above him, the sketched boggart-wolf crouched menacingly and prowled the mural.

After a while, he slept. Professor Longbottom found him there at some indeterminate time and, instead of forcing him back to Gryffindor and docking points, just Conjured a camp bed and said nothing at all. They didn't speak of it in the morning, either, as they walked Neil down to the hospital wing for a quick diagnostic spell from Hannah. Teddy checked on the patients. There was no change. Daniel was buried in library books.

November moved along stodgily, getting stuck in a rainy, muddy week during which students clung to the castle when they weren't forced outside, then jumping into a bright burst of late warmth just before December. In Care of Magical Creatures, the fifth years watched Dapple struggling to fly, and Teddy dreamed of the way his wings worked, the powerful muscles across his back that held him aloft, after a fashion, anyway. Hagrid asked if any of them would like to ride Buckbeak--"Just fer a treat, things bein' so gloomy an' all"--but no one took him up on it. Teddy thought he might try it later.

He met with Donzo and Ruthless as December began, to work with the Animagus books again. Ruthless wavered on her decision not to try it, but when Donzo tried to persuade her by calling her "foxy," she rejected the idea again. Teddy was able to transform and return his eyes at will now, and by the time Ravenclaw beat Hufflepuff on a cold December Saturday at the Quidditch pitch, he could see the details on the Golden Snitch from the spectator stands if he so chose.

The Maze phantasms were appearing less frequently, probably because Teddy was staying well away from it. The power of its initial surge had to be dying down. Now and then, a stranger would appear and disappear, but on the whole, life seemed normal, if claustrophobic. Teddy awoke in a panic that he wouldn't be able to do his Christmas shopping, but then realized that he wouldn't be able to get anything out of the castle, anyway. Teddy spent extra hours with Professor Morse and a pile of advanced Potions books, searching for any substitutes for Pearlescent Poppies, the lack of which, they agreed, had been what had caused the failure of Madam Pomfrey's attempt. (She had used ordinary poppies, and Professor Morse thought that was enough to make it unstable.)

Teddy dreamed of the Maze. In his dreams, Greyback and Bellatrix were nearly always his guides. They took him nowhere, and laughed at him for being lost. He awakened from these dreams thinking of the Maze, thinking that somehow, the answer was in it, but that was absurd. He'd accomplished nothing by going back in except for making things worse. The Maze had loosed the plague into the world, but the plague wasn't of the Maze, and it couldn't solve it.

As Christmas approached, the idea that there would be no trips home this year started to dawn on students. Teddy found a first year girl weeping in the hall. A sixth year Hufflepuff boy threw a perfect tantrum on the subject in the Great Hall, invoking his father, who sat on the Wizengamot and was a scion of an old family (the Dimwittys, of whom Teddy had no knowledge), who would hear of this outrage. Maurice, an encyclopedia of family connections, also drew a blank on the name. The decorations went up, including Hagrid's twelve Christmas trees, but it all seemed dispirited.

Neil transformed again a week before Christmas, and this time, Professor Longbottom appeared before Teddy set up camp and sent him back to Gryffindor.

On the day after tests ended, the Headmistress announced that the Great Hall would be open for anyone wishing to make gifts for their friends at Hogwarts. Dean would help with artistic projects, and a terrified-looking Winky neverthelesss steeled herself to offer baking lessons to "young misses and sirs" who cared to learn. Frankie (who still seemed at something of a loss without Tinny operating as his lieutenant) would help people spruce up their own belongings to give as new gifts. "You might also consider favors as gifts," the Headmistress suggested. "For instance, as my Christmas present to Professor Longbottom, I'll look after Greenhouse Three for a week, so he can finish marking tests."

Most of the students were less than enthusiastic about this, but Victoire and Marie Weasley took to it with gusto, wearing last year's Weasley jumpers and challenging everyone to make at least one gift. Story Shacklebolt, never one to let Victoire take the lead without a fight, got the third year Ravenclaws to make it a contest with the third year Gryffindors, and their year was so big that its mood tended to carry the school. Teddy found himself writing stories for Marie, Victoire, Ruthless, and Frankie (as well as finishing one for James, even though he wouldn't be able to send it), and making small things for everyone else. Judging from the crowds in the Great Hall, he didn't think anyone would be left wanting.

Christmas morning dawned foggy, wet, and cold, but the packages Teddy found by his bed were cheerfully wrapped. Victoire knitted him an uneven pair of socks and a lopsided muffler in Gryffindor colors. Ruthless had carefully duplicated all of the pages of Mum's book that had her handwriting on it, and bound them into a little pamphlet, with her fluttering butterfly on the front. Marie had drawn him a jubilant picture. Frankie had bound another of his Marauder stories. Donzo, Maurice, and Corky had teamed up to make a sort of charmed toy band, which was meant to wake him up whenever he got, in Corky's word, "cranky." Daniel Morse gave him use of the microscope whenever he wanted it, and promised to get him one as soon as the Quarantine lifted.

He made a point of putting on anything he could wear, and wasn't surprised to go down to the Common Room and find other people comparing their own gifts. Ruthless was actually wearing a beaded hair clip that Victoire had made for her, and Victoire was reading Teddy's story and laughing. He peeked over her shoulder to find out what was making her happy (it was a scene where Sirius met a Veela and was claiming to be a Muggle rock star).

They all went down to the Great Hall together. It didn't feel like Christmas morning without Granny's special breakfast cake, or the anticipation of spending the day with the Potters, but everyone was making an effort. The House tables had disappeared, replaced by smaller ones, so people could sit with their brothers, sisters, and friends. Teddy took a seat with most of the Forest Guard, along with Marie, Neil, and Ruthless's brothers. Honoria sat primly beside Corky.

During all of the gift-making frenzy, the teachers had made themselves scarce, and they weren't at breakfast yet. "They're up to something," Maurice said, looking suspiciously at the high table.

"As long as they're not going to spring a Yule Ball on us," Corky said, and all of the boys raised their goblets of pumpkin juice to that.

"I think it might be good for morale," Victoire said.

Honoria nodded. "I think it would be fun."

"I told you she's evil," Maurice grouched.

To Teddy's surprise, Honoria just grinned and threw a lazy sort of curse at him, causing his hair to briefly turn into garter snakes.

The door to the antechamber behind the high table opened, and the teachers filed in, each with a large bag. The Headmistress set hers down and said, "Happy Christmas!"

There were some murmured responses, but most people were just looking curiously at the bags.

"As you can see," she went on, "we've been quite busy. We've enlisted every portrait at Hogwarts with an analog anywhere else we can reach. They've all been gathered at the Ministry for the past week, and I'm happy to tell you that each one of you has a letter from home."
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Comments
daksian From: daksian Date: July 19th, 2008 06:45 am (UTC) (Link)
I would die of laughter and beg shamelessly to see you do a Yule Ball for Teddy. :D

I know you need to move time along in your story, but I love all the scenelets you've made to cover this time. I was vaguely disappointed you cut short Teddy's commentary to Corky and Honoria, but thought it was clever how you did it. Loved the reaction from Neville upon finding Teddy there, and then the follow up for the December moon.

Christmas gifts were awesome, from Victoire's amateurish knitting to Teddy's story to Ruthless copy of Tonks' pages...and Ruthless was wearing Victoire's gift! Awwww...

But the best is your final tease...letters from home. I can't wait. Andromeda and James and of course Harry...please tell me that Phineas is going to be the one delivering to Teddy. Too funny...
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fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 19th, 2008 02:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ha! Now we know why he ended up at the DoM--the lure of Time Turners to solve the "so many girls, so little time" problem! ;p
(Deleted comment)
daksian From: daksian Date: July 20th, 2008 01:41 am (UTC) (Link)
I lol'd in real life. It's funny because it's so, so true. ;)
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fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 19th, 2008 02:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm always tempted to spend more time on Teddy's WTF reactions to his friends doing inexplicable things, like dating Honoria, but it was definitely time to put the pedal to the medal and get moving if that was all that was happening!
daksian From: daksian Date: July 20th, 2008 01:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I agree with your pacing choice. What you sacrifice will undoubtedly come up in your next round of ficlets or 'ask your OCs anything' drabbles. :)
under_crisis From: under_crisis Date: July 19th, 2008 08:03 am (UTC) (Link)
i totally agree with daksian... all of it was really sweet, but i can't wait for the letter! i swear i have tears in my eyes, and i'm not even reading about them yet.

yay on sirius meets a veela!

and honoria being very agreeable! corky is so good for her :D
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 19th, 2008 02:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sirius has been quite the busy boy since he died. I imagine him enjoying his crazy adventures.
kt_tonguetied From: kt_tonguetied Date: July 19th, 2008 07:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh you just know that Sirius is watching from wherever the heck he is, laughing is arse off, hitting Tonks or Remus, and pointing out "That's your kid!" as frequently as possible. And not just for the stories, but all the crazy stuff he does. XP

Third year gift-war for the win!
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 19th, 2008 08:16 am (UTC) (Link)
This got me thinking about some of the basic difficulties in supplying the school during the quarantine (you may have dealt with this earlier and I've just forgotten). Still, from what Rowling has said, the main difficulty would be in food supplies. While transfiguration has its problems in other ways (turtle-teapots with china patterns and steam coming out their mouths) and there are probably reasons for buying parchment and ink rather than just transfiguring more of it or making one sheet ten (energy drain? increasing flaws in the product?), the real problem would be food.

So, going with the (probably unlikely) assumption you didn't deal with this already - Hogwarts isn't self-sustaining enough to produce enough food for several hundred students by Muggle means. However, Rowling has said that magic can be used to increase amounts of food even if you can't actually create it out of nothing. So, one chicken tender can become twenty chicken tenders. I'm guessing, though, that freshness stay at the same level. Old bread just makes more old bread. I'm also guessing that a lot of the homemaking spells aren't heavily emphasized at Hogwarts. You either learn them at home or you don't learn them, which would leave Harry and Hermione with limited skills to preserve their food in year seven (Ron has less excuse, but a low interest in them and five older brothers may have been reason enough for him to manage to avoid them).

That said, Hogwarts has chickens. I'm guessing at least one milk cow or goat. Probably not many animals raised just for meat, although pigs seem likely and maybe some sheep, the UK being wool country. They definitely have fish in the lake.

But, I'm guessing that the diet may be getting a little repititious. Probably a lot of chicken dishes, although meat's probably less common than usual. Fresh veggies may also be becoming a problem, although I imagine magic can deal with the more obvious nutrition problems. But the big one is probably going to be repitition and blandness. Not a huge problem in itself, but one that will be a constant reminder of what's wrong and a drag on moral.

Ellen
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 19th, 2008 02:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
They probably have been using duplication spells on the food since it started, but yes, it has to be getting dull by now! They have greenhouses for fresh veggies and they can probably be prodded to grow faster.
summoner_lenne9 From: summoner_lenne9 Date: July 19th, 2008 11:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmmm, I was always under the impression though the greenhouses were just for variously magical plants, not anything edible, per-say. *Shrugs*
summoner_lenne9 From: summoner_lenne9 Date: July 19th, 2008 08:33 am (UTC) (Link)
That is an absoultely wonderful present :). Wow.

And time DOES move. It's a MIRACLE. Lol.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 19th, 2008 02:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
I know--shocking, right?
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 19th, 2008 12:04 pm (UTC) (Link)

sound and letters

"All right, then. I'll do some charms so that no one accidentally hears you...

Neil backed inside and shut the door. It disappeared from Teddy's view. He sat down on the floor under the mural.

An unearthly scream broke the stillness--pain and desire mixed together--and it became a triumphant howl.

Did Teddy do the sound/ silencing charm or not? I assumed he did them immediately, but then it was poignant when he heard the sounds of Neil transforming.

I love the talked Maurice off the ledge comment. I'm glad the teachers ensured that every student got a letter, because it is very emotional to be away from home at Christmas for the first time. (And my first time away was at 21, with a bunch of others away for the first time also)

HOW did the portraits dictate the letters? Some magical quill taking down the "voice message"?

Always a pleasure to read,
Does anyone have any other highest quality fan fic to REC? It's hard to compare to Fern, obviously.

=SideAlong
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 19th, 2008 02:24 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: sound and letters

Teddy just didn't do the charm right away. I meant to mention him doing it after he heard the sound, but forgot!
willowbough From: willowbough Date: July 19th, 2008 12:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah, time passing chapters! Would they were all as readable as this one! It looks like the Hogwarts student body is doing their best to make lemonade. Although I'm very curious about how the parents and families are managing at this time with their children cut off from them.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 19th, 2008 02:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
They're probably not doing nearly as well as the kids, I think! The kids have an "all in this together" mentality. The parents are most likely completely freaking out.
shortysc22 From: shortysc22 Date: July 19th, 2008 01:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Loved the idea of letters from home. The Christmas spirit, with help from Victoire and Story was a great idea too. I wonder what Teddy's letter will say.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 19th, 2008 02:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Given the Phineas Nigellus filter, it should be interesting...
shortysc22 From: shortysc22 Date: July 19th, 2008 03:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
I even forgot about that! Oh Phineas, what will he have to say about the lack family in it.
mrs_redboots From: mrs_redboots Date: July 19th, 2008 02:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Glorious as always! My only quibble is Teddy missing "Granny's special breakfast cake"; that would be very, very unusual here where Christmas cake is eaten at tea-time, if at all (or kept for the next day when people aren't quite so full!).
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 19th, 2008 02:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, it's not at all usual, just Granny's. I mentioned it in Hunter's Moon--they habitually had it before going to Harry's place.
mrs_redboots From: mrs_redboots Date: July 19th, 2008 06:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I see! Thanks....
malinbe From: malinbe Date: July 19th, 2008 02:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Aww, letters from home!!! And gifts for everyone!! So so so sweet...

Hillarious how time passes! September and October were too eventful, it completely drained November and December's stamina :D

The Christmas gifts were awesome. Ruthless is so considerate. And Victoire and Story's never-ending competition is great- leave it to the baby boomers to bring the Christmas spirit to hundreds of sulky teenagers! So appropiate.
redlily From: redlily Date: July 19th, 2008 07:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Seeing as how I'd bet most kids don't have dress robes for a Yule Ball, I think it would be hilarious to have, say, a Pajama Ball.

On a more serious note, I hope Harry wrote (said?) something to Teddy that will ward away the claustrophobia for a while.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 20th, 2008 01:26 am (UTC) (Link)

m'gowsh I LOVE these stories! SO good to just sit down and read!
this story is AWSOME!!!! :D plzzz write HEAPS more soon!!!
darth_pipes From: darth_pipes Date: July 20th, 2008 04:30 am (UTC) (Link)
Good post, Fern. Nothing beats Christmas at Hogwarts.
gloryforever From: gloryforever Date: July 20th, 2008 04:58 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm thinking Harry's letter to Teddy might mention some of Maddie's reaction to the quarantine ... right?

Fern, your writing is awesome even when it's largely for passing time =)
purple_ladybug1 From: purple_ladybug1 Date: July 20th, 2008 05:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love all the gifts you came up with. Did Ruthless get Victoire anything?
satakieli From: satakieli Date: July 21st, 2008 10:31 am (UTC) (Link)
when Donzo tried to persuade her by calling her "foxy,"

Donzo! Do you know Ruthless at all?


an old family (the Dimwittys[)]...

How in the world that name survived into being an ond family name, goodness knows.


Ruthless had carefully duplicated all of the pages of Mum's book that had her handwriting on it, and bound them into a little pamphlet, with her fluttering butterfly on the front.

Ruthless, as usual, is made of win.

Ruthless was actually wearing a beaded hair clip that Victoire had made for her

*jaw drops*
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