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Teddy Lupin and the Daedalus Maze, Chapter Eighteen: Christmas Under Quarantine, pt. 4 - 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. 4
Time slip-jumped forward, and it's now Christmas. The students, stuck there under the quarantine, made the the best of things by making presents for each other. The staff, meanwhile, has been working double-time on its own present, and has just come into the Great Hall with bags of mail. Sprout announces that they've been working with every portrait that has an analog on the outside, and now there's a message from home for everyone.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




The Heads of House--wearing red and white hats with holly sprigs on them--fanned out to the tables, handing messages out to stunned looking students. Teddy's table was near the back, and he watched his classmates as they got their letters. Most just held them for a minute before settling in to read.

Professor Longbottom was the first of the Heads to make it to Teddy's table, and he drew out four letters. "Scrimgeour," he said to Ruthless, "this is via Everard Galpin's portrait, and it's directly dictated to a BasiQuill, so it ought to be relatively sane. Victoire, Marie, and Teddy... I'm afraid that yours have come through Phineas Nigellus, for obvious reasons. You all, I'm quite sure, will recognize his commentary." He shook his head and handed each of them a letter. Victoire and Marie bent to compare notes. Ruthless read hers quietly, and Teddy saw her looking over at the table where her brothers were, to see if they'd got theirs yet. He opened his own.

The BasiQuill handwriting was anonymous and bland, plain black on white. The letter wasn't even especially long, but Teddy weighed it in his hand and scanned without reading before he started. He took a deep breath, and dove in.

First, I feel it necessary to pass on the information that your godfather is perfectly maudlin about your absence. He passes my Grimmauld Place portrait several times a day, sighs melodramatically, and asks if I have news, as though I have nothing more important to do with my time than run about Hogwarts portraits, seeing if you've had an outbreak of spots. I'm to inform you that he wishes you had been able to come for Christmas, and that he regrets whatever quarrel you may have had, though I personally assume that you are responsible for it. He hopes you will be able to speak directly to him soon, for whatever reason.

Your grandmother is here with that bohemian she's been keeping time with, and both send you holiday greetings. Andromeda is understandably concerned for your safety. She has several presents waiting for you, and expressed the rather obvious idea that a holiday during which you are at Hogwarts is somewhat different in tone for her than a holiday during which you are at home. She hopes you are with your friends and not lonely. The bohemian asks that you pass on his greetings to someone called 'Donzo,' though I told him I was carrying quite enough messages already to qualify as a post owl.

Young James attempted to convey a story, which involved my great-great-grandson, your father, a hippogriff, and an infestation of nonexistent creatures called nargles. I fear I am unable to convey the text, but it involved ridiculous derring-do, and ultimate triumph against the enemy. Young Albus spoke to me at great length, but his message to you apparently boils down to 'Happy Christmas' and something about a card game you promised to teach him, which he somehow anticipates learning in the near future. Lily wishes to send a kiss, but I will not lower myself to making obnoxious noises to simulate one. Your godfather's wife would also like to send her love.

Messages from the absurdly extended Weasley family will undoubtedly come for Miss Victoire Weasley and Miss Marie Weasley, and I do not intend to repeat them ad nauseum. I imagine the young girls in question are not so petty as to refuse to pass on holiday greetings. Hermione Weasley wishes in particular to tell you to mind your studies, even in midst of this, as she believes that O.W.L.s will not be delayed.

You also receive Christmas greetings from Dafydd and Dora Apcarne, as well as their daughter Dorasana, who adds that she ought to be there with you, as she was only a few days too young to join you in Quarantine. The child MacPherson Apcarne had no intelligible comment. Miss Berit Ollivander sends good wishes, and has implied that they may also come from her grandfather, though I find this doubtful. Lavender Brown also says 'Happy Christmas,' and suggests that her employer, one Josephine LaFolle, with whom you are apparently familiar, wishes to say something of a similar nature. My great-granddaughter Walburga's comments are not suitable for transmission.

After all of these guests had finished their requests to my portrait, your godfather returned to add--and insist that I quote him directly--that he loves and misses you. I told him you were somewhat old for such nursery story sentiment, but he pressed the issue, and I am quite unfortunately bound by my agreement with the Headmistress to do as he says.

I remain,
your esteemed ancestor,
Nigellus


Teddy read this over a few times. He didn't mind Grayfur's tone; he'd grown up listening to it, and it was as familiar as Aunt Ginny's raised eyebrow or Granny's habit of cursing under her breath. So many things had happened since Uncle Harry had left that Teddy had nearly forgotten that they were quarreling (though the memory of it came back easily enough). A kiss from Lily. An apparently long conversation with Al that undoubtedly would have made sense if he'd been there to hear it. Granny and Ellsworth (and he hoped she was taking her own advice about not being lonely). He pictured them all at Uncle Harry's house, lined up by Phineas's portrait to send messages, and he ached to be home. Looking around the Great Hall, he didn't think he was the only one.

"Maurice," Donzo whispered across the table. Teddy saw that he was holding his own letter. "Moe?"

Maurice looked up from his note. "What?"

"We're about to quarrel. I'm afraid I'm under strict orders from the Weird Sisters."

Maurice frowned, then shrugged. "It's Christmas. You can do charity."

"Thank you so much for the permission. Accio guitar!" Donzo's guitar came flying into the Great Hall, and he caught it easily as he walked up to the staff table and spoke for a moment to Headmistress Sprout. She smiled and Transfigured a table into a low platform, which Donzo sat on the edge of.

"Do you really think it was an order from his dad?" Corky asked.

Teddy, who'd had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with Kirley Duke, had no doubt at all.

Donzo did a Sonorus Charm on his throat, then said, "I don't know about you lot, but I'm homesick!"

There was a smattering of curious laughter. Most students at Hogwarts did a particularly odd sort of magic concerning Donzo--they knew him and treated him as another student, while at the same time thinking of him as the boy in the magazines and on the Wizarding Wireless. When Teddy had been going out with Lizzie Richardson, who was in Donzo's House, year, and nearly all of his classes, he'd noticed that she had a picture of him from Teen Witch pasted to one of her notebook covers. She seemed to make no connection at all between it and the boy sitting at the next desk.

"Anyway," Donzo said, "in my family, we have a little tradition on Christmas Eve. It's sort of a sing-along. We have friends over." There was more laughter here--"Weird Christmas" had overtaken Celestina Warbeck as the most popular Christmas show in wizarding Britain. "I missed it last night, I'm afraid, so I'm just going to have to do it this morning. Since it's just us, I thought we could do everyone's favorites."

At first, the requests were for the standards--"Joy to the World," "Away In A Manger," "The Three Wizards and the Star," "Father Christmas Broke the Floo"--but once he got going, and people began to forget their homesickness, they started to challenge him with more obscure carols. Donzo's musical memory was prodigious, and he was able to go on without a hitch for twenty songs, but a second year Muggle-born girl finally stumped him with something called "Snoopy's Christmas." Her prize for stumping him was to be dragged up onto the makeshift stage to teach everyone the silly thing. By then, everyone was laughing and comfortable. Donzo switched to recorded music, and they spent the rest of the morning having a perfectly cheerful Christmas party. A few of the bolder elves came upstairs and pressed themselves against the wall, looking terrified, but tapping their long toes. Story asked Winky to dance. She called him "a very naughty boy," but danced with him anyway, very clumsily. Teddy found himself dancing with Victoire, dangerously close to a bit of Charmed mistletoe, and extricated himself as quickly as he could.

He looked around. Corky and Honoria were dancing. Maurice was involved in an animated conversation with Roger Young, and Donzo was, agreeably enough, giving autographs to first years.

Teddy frowned. He couldn't see Frankie anywhere, and Frankie was tall and stocky, hard to miss. It didn't take long to realize where he'd gone.

Teddy set off for the hospital wing.

Frankie was there beside Tinny Gudgeon's bed, her letter in one hand. His other hand brushed her hair from her forehead. It left a thin smear of blood from one of her blisters, but she didn't notice and Frankie didn't seem to care. He looked up. "'Lo, Lupin," he said. "I'm not sure they can hear in stasis, but I thought her parents would at least want her to get her letter."

Teddy sat down across the bed from him. "I'm sorry. I guess we shouldn't..."

"Have a good Christmas?" Frankie gave him a wry smile. "Are you kidding? Tinny would never have left it to McCormack if she were down there instead of me. That's why I helped with the presents."

"Oh."

"Teddy, this isn't your fault."

"What?"

"Mum put it in her letter to me. She said to make sure you know that it isn't your fault. The thing she gave you is doing things it isn't meant to do. She also said to tell you not to go back in without help."

"I'm not going back in at all!"

Frankie raised his eyebrows. "I know we don't spend as much time together as we used to, Teddy, but I do still know you. Just promise that you'll have help."

"There's no one to have help from," Teddy said. "So I can't."

Frankie nodded, and put Tinny's letter away. Teddy sat with him until he decided it was time to go down for Christmas tea, and they left in reasonably good spirits, considering. But the nagging thought of the Maze had returned to his mind, like a persistent cough.

Maddie was right. He needed help with it.

But there was no help.

He put his hand in the pocket of his robe and his hand brushed over the parchment of his letter.

It clicked into place.

Teddy leaned over and told Ruthless that he was going upstairs for a moment to get something he'd forgotten, then slipped out of the Great Hall and took the stairs two at a time to the seventh floor and the Room of Requirement.
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mrs_norris_mous From: mrs_norris_mous Date: July 20th, 2008 08:04 am (UTC) (Link)

Lovely

Great cliff hanger here. Thank you as always.

"in tone for her th an a holiday " should be "in tone for her than a holiday"
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 20th, 2008 04:55 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Lovely

Agh--computer kept freezing on me last night. I thought I caught all of those.

Thanks!
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 20th, 2008 08:40 am (UTC) (Link)
"Father Christmas Broke the Floo" - Now it makes perfect sense, Santa Claus does exist, he just uses time tuners and the floo xD

Wonderful as always, but I don't now if I should feel good or bad about what Teddy's going to do.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 20th, 2008 04:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hee, yes, and he probably spends a year every Christmas Eve doing it!
beceh From: beceh Date: July 20th, 2008 08:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Haha! Loved the letter!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 20th, 2008 04:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! I like Phineas, in the most twisted way.
maz333 From: maz333 Date: July 20th, 2008 09:19 am (UTC) (Link)
WHEE! Took Teddy long enough to realize Grayfur was his savior! Loved the letter, by the way, Phineas just... rocks my socks off. I particularly enjoyed the line about Harry being "perfectly maudlin" about the entire affair. Oh, Grayfur, it's easy not to be worried about a plague when you're a portrait and can't get sick! Am so looking forward to Teddy asking him about the Maze; I can't even tell you how excited I am.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 20th, 2008 05:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm looking forward to him answering! Phineas is the rockin'est character ever made of oil paints. ;p
(Deleted comment)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 20th, 2008 05:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, I toyed with the idea of the teachers trying a Yule Ball, which would undoubtedly have had Donzo chomping at the bit to show off extend charity in the selfless service of school morale.

Yes, Ellsworth with his ascots and his lyre. So wild and bohemian!
(Deleted comment)
renesears From: renesears Date: July 20th, 2008 01:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
The entire letter from Phineas is made of win. I particularly liked "Ridiculous derring-do." Oh, James.

I am so looking forward to this conversation. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 20th, 2008 05:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm looking forward to writing it, which means it should at least be at a reasonable time.
thornyrose42 From: thornyrose42 Date: July 20th, 2008 01:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ugh, I had a review all written out and ready to send but then of course I got called away for something and when I got back I found my little sister looking up Pokemon cards, on the same screen that my review was in. Dratted thing.

Anyway I was mainly squeeing about how brillient your Phineas voice was and how fantastic it was that Teddy has finally conected the dots. Of course saying that it did take me a while to figure out exactly what help Teddy had realised he had, evidently being on holidays sends my brain to sleep.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 20th, 2008 05:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad it didn't throw anyone off for too long.

Ah, Pokemon. It brooks no challenge. ;p
willowbough From: willowbough Date: July 20th, 2008 01:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Phineas's letter is a hoot, supercilious tone and all. But despite the tone, he did oblige by sending messages from everyone. Except, alas, now I want to know what he said in Victoire's and Marie's letters.

And another puzzle piece falls into play for Teddy. I just hope whatever he's about to do is less dangerous than his going into the Maze by himself.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 20th, 2008 05:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
Victoire and Marie's letters were mainly about a thousand "Happy Christmases," along with relief expressed for Marie's recovery, and of course, "Pass along good wishes to Teddy."
allie_meril From: allie_meril Date: July 20th, 2008 01:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ahhhhhh, yay! He's seeking help from Phineas!!

That "letter" was most awesome. Everyone's good wishes through Phineas's voice, ha. Made me snicker.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 20th, 2008 05:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Post-owl!Phineas was fun to write. He is just not thrilled at an eternity of service to Hogwarts. Or at least pretends not to be.
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: July 20th, 2008 03:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, Fern, you're fantastic.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 20th, 2008 05:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks!
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: July 20th, 2008 04:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
LOVE Phineas. SO much.
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: July 20th, 2008 04:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Waitwait. One continuity thing, though - you said in the last section that Ruthless's brothers were at the same table as Teddy?
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 20th, 2008 04:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yay, Phineas!

I'd like to tell him, "You know, for a dead dude, you're all right!"

And yay, Christmas! And wizard Christmas carols! Is "Three Wizards and the Star" their take on "We Three Kings of Orient Are"? There's a much stronger case within the text that they were magi from Persia than kings, although kings fits a lot more rhyme schemes . . . .

It's going to be disorienting for the people in stasis to wake up and find out that most of the school year is gone and there are Christmas letters lying by them.

But did Dudley not show up at the Potters in time to send a Christmas message? I was looking forward to him saying something and Phineas' commentary.

Great story, as always!

Ellen
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 20th, 2008 05:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
And yay, Christmas! And wizard Christmas carols! Is "Three Wizards and the Star" their take on "We Three Kings of Orient Are"? There's a much stronger case within the text that they were magi from Persia than kings, although kings fits a lot more rhyme schemes . . .

It's not the same tune (so different rhythm and rhyme scheme), but definitely the same story.

Ah, Dudley. I forgot about Dudley, I'm afraid. He's in Majorca with his parents, who finally got that house they've been dreaming of.
hungrytiger11 From: hungrytiger11 Date: July 20th, 2008 04:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yay! for the laugh-aloud funny letter and for more Phineas in the near future. I especially loved the line about Phineas' belief that an argument between harry and Teddy would be all Teddy's fault. I don't know why that seems so funny, but it is...

Donzo and Maurice are great and I was so sad for Frankie...

You make just awesome characters.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 20th, 2008 05:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you.

Phineas Nigellus Black--hates teenagers so much that his portrait is spending eternity serving a high school.
daksian From: daksian Date: July 20th, 2008 05:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, excellent job. You managed to quite skillfully combine the sentiment of Teddy's family through the snide and cynical voice of Phineas...keeping the good feelings of the former and the humour of the latter in the process. That was truly an amazing bit of writing there.

I like the bit with Donzo. The impromptu concert/contest, and Teddy's observation about the 'unusual magic' in the students' perception of him.

I'm also glad to see that Maddie understands Teddy and the Maze well enough to again reassure him. That Lupin sense of responsibility (carefully nurtured to an absurd point by a Potter godfather) must be painful to live with.

And while I have no immediate idea what the connection is between the Maze and the RoR, I'm sure you alluded to it quite nicely and I can't wait to see the next installment! Thanks again!
purple_ladybug1 From: purple_ladybug1 Date: July 20th, 2008 05:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love the letters, especially Donzo's dad insisting that he play a concert.
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