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Teddy Lupin and the Needle's Eye, Chapter Eight: Family Gossip, part 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Teddy Lupin and the Needle's Eye, Chapter Eight: Family Gossip, part 3
Harry comes, and the family chats about gossip, including the impending arrival of a new generation of Longbottoms. Excited, Victoire determines that from now on, she will plant a tree for every new baby that comes to the family. She has no place for it, and Teddy offers her Screech Hill, the erstwhile home of the Shrieking Shack. He can't figure out why this makes Victoire nervous--and makes adults stifle smiles.

She confronts him on the way back to the castle and asks why they haven't been talking much, and he's only saved from admitting his inappropriate crush on her by the arrival of Marie and Molly, arguing and demanding Victoire's intervention.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far






Teddy wandered the halls for a long time, hoping to give the Weasley situation time to resolve itself. He supposed it couldn't do any harm to tell Victoire that he'd been thinking she was beautiful lately. They might even laugh over the awkwardness of it. It wasn't like the subject had never come up before. She'd conned him into a kiss a couple of years ago, and she'd followed him around a little last year. It was nothing, just a crush--a little odd, as the Weasleys were distinctly in the large circle Teddy considered his family, but nothing new.

Yes, she'd probably laugh.

She was waiting alone in the Common Room when he returned, and she stood up awkwardly. "Teddy?"

He smiled. "Good night, Vicky."

A sofa pillow flew at him over his use of the hated nickname, and he ducked and headed for the boys' staircase. Something yanked the back of his jacket. He turned.

Victoire's wand was still raised. "Do-- Are--" She ground her teeth, then rolled her eyes and headed for the girls' dormitories. "Good night, Teddy."

The conversation didn't come any closer.

The next day, Uncle Harry started his classes, which always caused excitement in the school. Teddy himself had always liked the classes. Uncle Harry brought several scrolls of evidence and depositions to the seventh year Defense Class to discuss the case. He told them about several exhausted leads. Jane raised her hand tentatively.

"Yes?"

"Er... not cast aspersions or anything, but... well, an Auror's badge gets you into a lot of places..."

"Everyone in the Division was questioned, and everyone has an alibi."

"Oh, sorry."

"What kind of alibis?" Teddy asked. "I mean, are they solid? I know some of them live alone."

"None of them happened to be alone at the time of Goyle's murder."

Teddy started to push further, then stopped, something dropping unpleasantly in his stomach. Ruthless lived alone. Goyle's murder had been in the middle of the night. She had an older boyfriend. Who also lived alone and had to have had someone with him.

He didn't have anything else productive to add that day. Victoire sat with him in the Common Room that night and didn't ask what was wrong. After an hour or so, they picked up a chess game, and fell into a more normal way of relating to each other.

Uncle Harry stayed for two days, and refused to answer questions about Ruthless when Teddy asked them directly, which Teddy considered an answer. He started to write her a letter about it, but when he read it over, he was rather horrified at the whining, intrusive tone it took, so he threw it away.

October grew cold and crisp as Halloween approached, and with it, the first Hogsmeade weekend of Teddy's last year. Victoire rushed up to him the day before and asked if they could work at Screech Hill, if he had no other plans. As he hadn't even thought about asking any of the girls to go into town with him, he agreed. They started off with the earliest group the next morning, getting most of the way into Hogsmeade before Victoire finally spoke.

"Is the gate locked?" she asked.

Teddy nodded. "Don't worry. I always have the key."

"I haven't been there since... you know, that night with Greyback."

"I remember." He smiled at her over his shoulder, though he didn't really feel like smiling. "I think that every time someone asks about you, I want to introduce you as the girl who ran at Fenrir Greyback with a handful of kitchen knives."

She looked away, a little embarrassed. "Teddy, I barely remember doing that. I was just so angry."

"Remind me never to make you mad."

"Have you been back?"

"A couple of times. It's a real mess. I couldn't figure out where to start attacking it. Pulled some wood over that I might keep and use in another house--someplace else--sometime, but I just couldn't seem to get a handle on it." They reached the gate at the base of Screech Hill, and Teddy reached out toward the gate post. A set of iron keys appeared. "Uncle Harry charmed them so I'd never lose them," he explained, unlocking it and turning off the protections that the lock cast.

Inside of them, he could see the real extent of the damage, which was masked by several of the protection spells. He'd blown the house apart with a Blasting Curse, and the hill was strewn with broken wood and shattered glass. Parts of the frame had been heavy enough to fall into the cellar hole, but not nearly enough to fill it with. One large, tulip-shaped piece of window glass, mysteriously unbroken, had been planted by the corner, at least a foot into the ground. Dirt and wind had etched mystic patterns on it, and the morning sun glinted on it like a coded message. from the center of the square, the earth fell away into the trench that had once been a tunnel. It wound, snakelike, back to the base of the Whomping Willow at Hogwarts, and filled up with sluggishly flowing water when it rained.

He went in and gave Victoire an exaggerated bow. "Welcome back."

She came inside the circle of the protections. "You did all this?"

He shrugged. "Not my finest hour."

"Mm." She looked around. "Is that the rosebush with plans to take over the world?" she asked, pointing to a rise in what had been the back garden.

"Yeah, Dad planted it right after he and Mum got married. Before they got kicked out of the house. It's got a little wild in the last eighteen years."

Victoire walked over to its closest branches. "I like it," she declared. "It needs some pruning, so that the whole thing can breathe better, but it's healthy. Let's let it be. We'll call it your tree."

"I get a tree?"

"Apparently so." She handed him her wooden Herbology kit, and fished out a pair of pruning shears. "You work on the rosebush, since it's yours. I'll start finding the glass."

"I'll probably kill it."

"No, you won't," she said absently. "Go to it, then."

Thus issued his marching orders, Teddy frowned at the rosebush, then, tentatively, began to trim away at its more extreme growths. An hour later, Victoire came over with a trellis she'd fashioned from the broken wood of the house, and helped him set the roses to climb it. Now, it seemed to be standing up, facing the window pane in some sort of endless silent conversation.

"We should get rid of that," Teddy said, walking toward the glass.

"No, I don't think so," Victoire told him. She gathered up a few other bits of broken house, then guided the glass upward with her wand. Carefully, she fitted a molding around it with the leftover wood, covering the sharp edges, then sank it back into the earth and gave it a good cleaning. "Can you make it Unbreakable?" she asked.

Teddy did so, then asked, "Why did we just plant an Unbreakable piece of garbage?"

"It's the biggest piece of the house that you left, except the a bit of the framework in the cellar hole. I thought I'd mark it." She smiled. "Besides, in hundred years, people may wander through our little forest and wonder why there's a piece of glass in a frame there. They'll puzzle over it, and write books about it. It'll be quite the topic of conversation."

"Ah."

"Also, I like the way the sun hits it. It's pretty."

He laughed. "All right, fine. Our mysterious bit of glass will stand as a monument to the Shrieking Shack. I call on the spirits of Mum and the Marauders to watch over it."

"And the whole forest," Victoire said, more thoughtfully than Teddy expected. Then she squared her shoulders and said, "Let's get this mess cleaned up, shall we? I got most of the wood--except what you were saving--into the cellar hole. We should turn it to earth. Will it stay if we Transfigure it?"

"No. But we could speed up the process of decomposing it."

"Oh! Oh, of course, a Composting Hex. Professor Longbottom uses them sometimes. Here, I'll show you..."

Together, they Conjured an army of little worms that crawled through the half-rotten wood and paper. Teddy blasted apart the metal and plaster fixtures until they were nothing more than a fine dust. By afternoon, the hill had taken on a new shape--a shallow, tipped gravy bowl that spilled out into the ditch. The rosebush and the glass sculpture sat atop it, looking down on the little man-made valley.

"We can plant a lot of trees," Victoire said. "The dip will be prone to flooding, so I'll have to see to drainage before I plant anything down in it, but it'll be good. I think it'll be good."

"Me, too."

She looked at the pile of wood he'd saved. "Are you sure you don't want to mulch that, too?"

He nodded, and she accepted it.

They locked up and started back toward Hogwarts, following the path of the ditch. In autumn, it was lined with dying grasses. A few free-born trees were starting to sprout. Halfway back, they ran across Hagrid and Roger, who'd spent the day observing a family of energetic jarveys who'd taken up residence at the halfway point. They walked together back to the gates, and Hagrid invited everyone for tea. There was no getting away from such an invitation, so the students steeled themselves and followed him down toward his hut, past the Whomping Willow, along the path--

Hagrid stopped dead in his tracks. "Wait 'ere," he said. "Something's wrong."

Teddy, Victoire, and Roger had their wands out already, and he didn't stop them when they followed, though his loping run got him there more quickly.

They stopped outside the little barn where the hippogriffs sheltered in bad weather. Inside, they could hear Buckbeak battering at a stall. Dapple was scratching at the floor, but couldn't get through.

In the paddock, posed on a stick like a scarecrow, was Cornelius Fudge.

At least most of him.
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From: (Anonymous) Date: June 22nd, 2010 05:21 am (UTC) (Link)
You are amazing. You hook me in with the cute Teddy/Vicky and then bam mangled up dead Fudge that I'd completely forgotten about.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 22nd, 2010 06:23 am (UTC) (Link)
I've achieved my goal here. ;p
beceh From: beceh Date: June 22nd, 2010 05:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh my goodness!!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 22nd, 2010 06:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Mm.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 22nd, 2010 06:04 am (UTC) (Link)
Look on the bright side, Teddy. Maybe Ruthless is a psychotic killer who just threatened her boyfriend's life if he didn't back up her alibi.

The sad thing being that might be a little easier for him to deal with.

Then again, they could have just been working late.

That's a bit sad about Cornelius. Sure, he was a spineless twit who let Umbridge loose on Hogwarts, but it seems like he paid for that already.

On to mystery analysis:

The paddock is rather creepy. The others might have been left at sites that were relatively convenient. Goyle had a reason to be in the area he was found and Runcorn's was a fairly public location not too far from places a just released criminal not welcome in many areas might have gravitated towards.

The paddock, however -

1. Is on the fairly well protected Hogwarts grounds (we're seeing a definite movement in the threat level of where the bodies have been found. The first one was a public street late at night, the second was technically heavily protected but was still relatively public in nature if not in entry permits, but Buckbeak's paddock near Hagrid's almost feels like someone's home. It's certainly they're backyard),

2. Would almost certainly be a long distance from where Fudge was likely to have been. Moving him here (whether before or after the murder) took effort and purpose quite appart from the magic required to get in,

3. The paddock is . . . an interesting choice. There are very few people who would think of this first if they had a grudge against Fudge (people in the wizarding world, I mean. Readers of the books don't count).

Also, now that I think of it, the choices in victims are also getting disturbing. Victim one was directly involved in multiple deaths, whether or not he killed anyone himself, the kind of person you could imagine some random person who'd never met him and didn't have a _personal_ grudge against him wanting to kill.

Goyle didn't seem so bad. Still, he seemed to have been an official Death Eater, not just an underage wannabe. He was also the son of a Death Eater who might have been involved in worse. Also, while getting onto the platform early implies something really powerful and/or tricky, the best (Muggle) magic tricks often have the simplest explanations. If someone had a clever - but not powerful - trick for getting there, then Goyle may have been a target because the better ones were too well guarded and out of reach.

But Fudge, whatever his weaknesses, wasn't a Death Eater. I don't remember any references to his working at the ministry during Voldemort's regime. Technically, though he was weak, I would count him as a person who opposed Voldemort and the DEs.

Choosing him is either the act of a very a vicous person . . . or there's something else to the targets being chosen.

And the progression pattern has been victims less connected to Voldemort and less clearly guilty of any crimes, as well as more "personal" sites for the bodies.

Depending on what the aim is, the next person could be harmless or a "good guy" killed in his or her own living room (or the living room of some character we know and like).

Of course, maybe this is like the ABC Murders? Random victims chosen who more or less fit certain criteria so the main murder seems to be just another randomly chosen victim.

Well, maybe not. But I keep feeling like there's a purpose behind these that I just haven't clued into yet.

Ellen
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 22nd, 2010 06:25 am (UTC) (Link)
Then again, they could have just been working late.

Very well could be true, though I suspect what mitigates against it in Teddy's mind is that Harry didn't just say, "Ruth and Sam were both working late at the office that night."

I'm honestly baffled by Fudge. I thought of him as the next victim last night, and I don't know where he fits in.
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: June 22nd, 2010 06:54 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, talk about a thickening plot...
I just started reading this, and I like it a lot.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 22nd, 2010 11:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Glad to see you back!
amamama From: amamama Date: June 22nd, 2010 07:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, ick. First you have a wonderful T/V day on the hill, and then (boom!) Fudge. I love how Teddy and Victoire are unable to really get to the point, but slowly move closer to each other nevertheless. Teddy's musings over the murder at 9 3/4, and the possible implications towards Ruthless, is (another) great example of the saying "you never know the whole story." And trying to figure out the whole story can be rather uncomfortable, especially when you don't have crucial info. And then Fudge. I felt sorry for Goyle, but Fudge... He gets a reaction more like "good riddance." Hagrid is wonderfully aware when it comes to his animals - I guess that's how he picked up that something was wrong? At least Fudge won't send him to jail now, just to bee seen as doing something. But it's a clever way to try to blame Hagrid.

Now, for someone who said she might be going slow, you're running wonderfully fast with this story. I totally love that, so keep it up! *g*
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 22nd, 2010 11:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, I think Hagrid may have just seen something in his paddock that didn't belong there... but probably was also missing the two somethings (Buckbeak and Dapple) that did belong there.
donahermurphy From: donahermurphy Date: June 22nd, 2010 10:38 am (UTC) (Link)
Wow.

...it really DOES remind me of the ABC murders, although I don't think that's really the answer. Still, it would be amusing to see one of the seventh years suggest it.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 22nd, 2010 11:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't know the ABC murders, so I'll have to look up the reference!
sidealong From: sidealong Date: June 22nd, 2010 01:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yuck! The imagery of Fudge as a Scarecrow is disturbing.

Maybe they parachuted in...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 22nd, 2010 11:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'd guess that in a world where people fly, Hogwarts is protected from parachuting.
From: maxzook Date: June 22nd, 2010 05:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
I am very disappointed that the ex-Minister wasn't melted and poured over ice cream.
silvery_wraith From: silvery_wraith Date: June 22nd, 2010 07:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
...so gruesome and yet so lol-worthy. =P
malinbe From: malinbe Date: June 22nd, 2010 05:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, gosh.

The Platform was one thing- protected or not, it was still London. But inside Hogwarts grounds?
(so, it has to be someone who is capable of entering the school...)

And the image is just so disturbing. I never thought I would feel pity for Fudge. And it was so unexpected. Wow. I don't think you are ever going to cease to surprise me.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 22nd, 2010 11:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, that one surprised me, too. I'll have to figure out where it leads.
silvery_wraith From: silvery_wraith Date: June 22nd, 2010 07:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, geez louise you hit me right at the end of such a lovely Teddy/Victoire section!

Slowly but surely T and V are starting to gravitate to each other, I think it's really sweet how they both haven't admitted it to each other and yet still acknowledge their feelings. =3 cute!

Yikes....Fudge. Spineless, useless politician who only ever looked after himself but damn, that is such a gruesome way to go. And this pretty much implicates Harry now, doesn't it? The paddock is where Harry's first defiance of Fudge's ministry happened and he just so happened to be visiting Hogwarts earlier that week. Yikes.

Great job keeping me on tenterhooks, Fern!

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 22nd, 2010 11:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
And this pretty much implicates Harry now, doesn't it?

And, added to Runcorn (who he impersonated) and Goyle (who was part of a trio who made his life difficult)... yeah. Which could put a different spin on motives.
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: June 22nd, 2010 07:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Gruesome. This image has been sticking with me today in a way that is unusual for me... I can't say I like it particularly, but well done! Can't wait to read the next. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 22nd, 2010 11:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm looking forward to writing it, though it will be a day or two.
hungrytiger11 From: hungrytiger11 Date: June 22nd, 2010 10:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I love this so much for so many reasons...

Chronologically:

1) Teddy, quit being such an idiot! Ruthless is not going out with you. You do not get to know or get to be mad about anything she's doing with other guys. At least Teddy's shown growth in not sending the letter. But the whole thing shows off the maturity/immaturity of that age group very well!

2) The Teddy/Victoire moments are so lovely and nice! Both the awkward conversation and day on the hill. I like the subtle ways you make this relationship and its growth a little different from others. Also, your Hogwarts students have so much more they can do at Hogsmeade than Harry's generation it seems (or maybe Harry didn't do much. ) Then it seemed like all they did was shop.

3) Gut-punch of an ending line! This story is so much a mystery story and I love that. Fudge's death seems like an odd choice on so many levels. Not a Death Eater, and in such a strange place. Feels like either there's a copycat or someone who knew something about how Hagrid got sent to Azkaban and that's... an unpleasant implication.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 22nd, 2010 11:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, as a friend, he might be in the "get to know" category, but as an ex-boyfriend, I can see why Ruthless might not be oversharing. ;p

I'm trying to figure out the Fudge thing myself. The five who definitely know would be Harry, Ron, Hagrid, Dumbledore, and Lucius Malfoy... but who knows who else has found out over the years?
From: amethystbeloved Date: June 22nd, 2010 11:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, two postings in one day~ aren't we lucky? The T&V scenes were so sweet. I'm glad that they spent this day together even though it's a total 180 of the next trip to come....

Wow, can't wait to see what's the story behind Fudge!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 23rd, 2010 12:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Me, either...
lollapulizer From: lollapulizer Date: June 22nd, 2010 11:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've been wondering if you were going to have Teddy and Victoire get together in this fic, and thought something might happen in this chapter, so while there was anticipation for a cliffhanger ending, it certainly wasn't for the kind that we got!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 23rd, 2010 12:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, they'll have a date, I promise.

But yeah--not what this chapter was for!
summoner_lenne9 From: summoner_lenne9 Date: June 22nd, 2010 11:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
First off with the usual, "In my obsessive reading I found typos"

"It's the biggest piece of the house that you left, except the a bit of the framework in the cellar hole. I thought I'd mark it." She smiled. "Besides, in hundred years, people may wander through our little forest and wonder why there's a piece of glass in a frame there. They'll puzzle over it, and write books about it. It'll be quite the topic of conversation."

The 'except the a bit' is off. Probably should be either the or a. And then, "Besides, in hundred years" needs an a so it's "in a hundred years".

PAST THE NITPICKETING- which, err, I do out of love? - THAT WAS CREEPY. So creepy. I'm rereading the books currently and just finished 3, and Fudge actually had a few awesome moments in POA so I feel really bad for him. I remember of course that he's a git in 5, to put it lightly, but as I'm not there yet.... And this really does incriminate Harry. All I'm guessing is someone with a grudge against Harry? Or...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 23rd, 2010 12:13 am (UTC) (Link)
Apparently, I have a migrating indefinite article there. ;p
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