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Teddy Lupin and the Needle's Eye, Chapter Nine: Recused, part 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Teddy Lupin and the Needle's Eye, Chapter Nine: Recused, part 1
Teddy has deduced a bit more about Ruthless's new romance than he really wanted to know, but Victoire gets him out of his funk by suggesting that they go clean up Screech Hill, where the Shrieking Shack stood. They spend a pleasant Saturday pruning a rosebush and doing some landscaping to make the cellar hole a little less dangerous, but when they go back, a pleasant conversation with Hagrid and Roger is interrupted when Hagrid spots something wrong in his paddock... and they find the body of Cornelius Fudge, posed there like a scarecrow.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far






Teddy sent his Patronus to the Auror Division before he really processed what he was seeing.

Fudge wasn't, thank God, impaled on the scarecrow pole, but bound to it magically. His ears had been flayed, and his eyes stitched open and round. On first glance, Teddy had thought his hands, like Goyle's, were missing, but they weren't--they'd been broken and bound tightly in bandages, and his sleeves fell down over them.

Within five minutes, Uncle Harry and Ron had Apparated to the gate and run to the paddock. They directed the others to step away while they examined the scene. Ron sent a Patronus, and a few minutes later, Ruthless joined them, all business. The Headmistress and Heads of House--as well as Professor Longbottom, who seemed to frequently forget that he wasn't Gryffindor's Head of House anymore--were told to wait outside the perimeter. Teddy observed from behind the rail until Uncle Harry signaled for him to come over.

"All right," he said. "You said Goyle was about him being a bully--that's why the hands--and Runcorn was a spy, so his eyes and mouth. What do you see here?"

"Opened ears and eyes," Teddy said. "Disabled hands. Fudge denied Voldemort for a year, didn't he? And attacked all the wrong targets?"

Uncle Harry nodded soberly. "Yes, he did. But why here?"

"Well, this is the first place we defied him," Ron said. "With Buckbeak."

"Who alive knows that except for us, Hagrid, and Hermione?"

"Macnair probably has a good idea."

"Macnair's safely in Azkaban."

Ron shrugged. "So what? Harry, half the school figured out that you and Hermione managed to rescue Buckbeak somehow. Who else would have done it? They didn't know how, of course. Hermione was laughing at theories in a few of the books once. If we'd found a"--he made a twisting gesture of his chest that meant nothing to Teddy--"I'd worry."

Uncle Harry shook his head. "Anyway, I didn't mean here, particularly. I meant at Hogwarts. This is worse than the platform."

"It's Hogsmeade weekend," Teddy said. "The gates have been opening and closing all day."

"Only students in and out," Professor Longbottom said.

"Are you sure?" Teddy morphed himself into a third year boy with straw blond hair and oversized teeth.

"You're the only one we need to worry about Metamorphmagery with," Professor Sprout said.

"What about Polyjuice Potion?" Uncle Harry asked as Teddy morphed back. "We've nothing like the Thief's Downfall here, or Crouch never would have been able to get in and out..."

"Crouch was on staff," Professor Sprout said. "We wouldn't have checked him quite as well as we check students coming and going."

"And no one could have been Polyjuiced as a teacher?" Ron pushed.

"Or the killer could be on staff," Ruthless said, then looked up into the silence. "Well... it would explain a few things." She looked at the body and frowned. "Body was brought here from somewhere else, though. There's not enough blood. So, staff or Polyjuice or not, something would have had to be carried in."

"I was seeing to the gate," Professor Longbottom said. "Most of the students aren't back yet--maybe ten. And no adults since this morning. Professor Hagrid's the first staff member back."

Uncle Harry rubbed his head. "All right," he said. "We'll need to start taking statements. Hagrid, could we use the barn?"

"What for? Use my house."

"We could split it three ways," Ruthless suggested. "I can talk to the students out here."

Uncle Harry nodded absently, and then there was a brief period of pointless motion, at the end of which, Teddy found himself sitting quietly on the hillside with Roger while Victoire and Ruthless chatted.

"'I can talk to the students'?" Roger mimicked. "She's been out of here for, what, four months?"

"Feels like forever," Teddy said.

Roger didn't pursue the conversation. She called him next, leaving Teddy alone once Victoire said that they weren't supposed to compare notes, at least until after they'd given their statements. She went up to the castle.

Teddy watched the interview, which was conducted on two stone benches Ruthless had Conjured. Roger obviously tried to joke a bit at first, but Ruthless got him back on the subject. There wasn't much to say, and it didn't take long. Roger came loping back and told Teddy to go on over.

Teddy sat on the stone bench across from Ruthless. It was cold. "Hi."

She bit her lip, looked at him, then looked down. "I just need to know what you saw, from the time you came across Hagrid until we got here."

"Victoire and I were in town," he said, and told the tale she asked for.

She took it down on a scroll, checked it, had him read it over for accuracy and sign it, then filed it away.

"That's it?" Teddy asked.

"Yeah. Pretty painless."

Teddy looked at her feet, then made himself look up at her face. She wasn't looking at him. "Er... I, er... I guess you had to give a statement, too?"

"How much did you hear?"

"Only that all of the Aurors had alibis."

"And since I live alone, you guessed I had to produce an alibi for the middle of the night."

He nodded.

She pressed her lips together. "I'm on duty. It's not a good time to have this particular conversation."

"You're right. I'm sorry."

"It's all right. I haven't been very forthcoming." She looked at the paddock. "I'll be here at least until the end of my shift. I'll, er... I'll drop my fox on you, and we'll talk then."

"You don't have to. I know it's not my business."

"I could stand talking to an actual friend. If... we still are?"

Teddy's mind Conjured an image for him, a path in the Daedalus Maze--in one direction, he raged and walked away; in the other, he swallowed his pride, and it was bitter and choking. He chose the latter. He stood up and kissed her forehead. "I'm always your friend."

The look she gave him told him that she knew exactly what battle he'd just fought. She nodded.

He went back to the castle.

He spent the rest of the afternoon working on Potions homework. Mallowsweet was turning into a rather interesting plant. It enhanced visions, but you had to be very careful with it. Too much, and he thought it likely that you'd lose the ability to differentiate--not merely between solid visions and meaningless dreams, but between vision and reality itself. Of course, some illicit potions did that deliberately, but most of them created absurdities that, once sober, the user would understand as delusions. Mallowsweet's benefit--and danger--was in clear-seeing. If anything, it would remove the extraneous nonsense that tended to accompany other visions. An overdose would be a strange experience at best. Sage might take off a sharp edge, but still--he'd need to be very careful.

Victoire brought him food, explaining that she'd had to make an escape from the Great Hall herself, as everyone was bombarding her with questions about the body. Teddy thanked her.

It was nearly eight o'clock when a flash of white light on the ceiling broke his concentration. Ruthless's Patronus--a small fox--dropped down and opened its mouth. "I'm by the lake, where we talked."

They'd talked in many places during their six years together at Hogwarts, but Teddy knew exactly where she'd meant. Last spring, after the final disaster in their romance--a "birthday gift" that they'd both ended up rejecting--she'd gone down to a rocky point on the shore, and there, balanced on the cold stone, she'd told him that there would be no more trying to make it work. That she was tired of being his "fallback position." He'd argued that she wasn't any such thing, but he hadn't been able to convince her.

The doors were locked and under surveillance, given that a murderer had been on the grounds, but she knew that wasn't particuarly problematic. He transformed into a hawk, dropped out of his window, and soared down along the shore of the lake.

She was sitting now where she'd sat that day, illuminated by the quarter moon and a spill of cold October stars instead of the April morning sun.

He flew to the rock beside her, transformed, and sat down. "If we're still friends?" he chided.

"Don't even pretend that you didn't have to think about it for a minute."

"It wasn't the most pleasant realization I've ever come to," he admitted.

She sighed. "I just realized... if I wasn't waiting for you anymore, then I wasn't waiting for anyone in particular. That I should see what life had to offer. Do you understand?"

"Not really. I still don't understand why you think you and I couldn't work things out--"

"I'm not going over it again, Teddy."

"--but that's all right. I know you believe it."

"You're not going to go mad and start following me around, are you? I had to study a case like that; it didn't end well."

Teddy made a face, then said, "No. I'm just eternally hopeful, and I still love you."

She nodded. "Well, I still love you, too. But it's not going to happen, and I wanted to try being... just Ruth. Just a girl starting out on her own. And Sam's very kind. He takes care of his older brother--he got hurt during the war--and he's very gentle. And he seemed very sure about the whole thing. I wasn't sure about anything, and..." She sighed again. "I'm not saying this right. I don't want you to think he talked me into it. It just happened."

"Do you... I mean, are you... in love with him?"

She shook her head. "Not even a little bit. I keep hoping I will be soon, and he might be with me, but"--she looked up fondly--"it seems somewhere in my head, I'm a bit stubborn."

"You? Never." He smiled at her, and she returned it. "So, now that all of this is out in the open, will I be getting more letters?"

"Not unless you can fix me one of those Time Turners in the Department of Mysteries. This Auror training business is a lot beyond full time."

"Do you like it?"

"I don't think it's something you like or don't like. It's something you are."

"Do you like being it? I mean, are you happy? Stupid question with a killer around, I guess, but are you?"

"I feel like it matters that I'm here," she said, then nodded. "Yeah. I'm happy." She looked toward Hagrid's place. "Though I reckon I'll be a lot happier when our present lunatic is introduced to the pleasures of a North Sea winter as Macnair's neighbor."

"Cheers," Teddy said.

They talked for a while after it, mainly catching up on school gossip, which she hadn't heard, and she left a bit before midnight. Teddy flew back to his room, feeling better.

The next morning, he thought it might be safe to come down to the Great Hall. He could deal with a few questions, and if all else failed, he could legitimately claim homework as an excuse to leave.

"Lupin!"

He looked up as he reached the bottom of the stairs. Corky came out of the Great Hall, and started to physically lead him away.

"What?" Teddy asked.

"Bloody Rita Skeeter. Even Honoria's angry. Skeeter wrote an editorial for the evening edition last night, and this morning..."

"What sort of editorial?"

"The sort that, er..."

A group of fourth years came out of the Great Hall. One of them had the Sunday Prophet open. Teddy plucked it from his hand, ignoring the outraged cry about the crossword puzzle.

On the front page, the headline announced, "HARRY POTTER RECUSES SELF FROM NEEDLE'S EYE CASE: Chief Auror and War Hero Admits He Is 'Too Close Now.'"
29 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
at_upton From: at_upton Date: June 25th, 2010 07:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Still really, really enjoying this-- I especially liked the Ruth and Teddy time in this bit. It's rarer than it should be to see two characters being decent to one another even when it's hard, or working successfully through a realistic end to a relationship. I do love spending time in this story! Thanks for writing.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 25th, 2010 01:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think the fact that they do genuinely love each other helps--and that there was no rancor involved in the split.
From: natzee_xx Date: June 25th, 2010 08:41 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh poor Harry, but it is the right thing to do. You do extremely well at portraying the canon and characters perfectly! Keep it up!

ps. something that was niggling me so i pulled out my Prisoner of Azkaban copy and I do believe that McNair should be Macnair :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 25th, 2010 01:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
:eyeroll:

I have "McNairs" in my family tree somewhere, and for some reason, that's how I always read that character's name. I'll fix it!
i_autumnheart From: i_autumnheart Date: June 25th, 2010 08:44 am (UTC) (Link)
And the plot thickens further...

I think this story is your best yet, and that's *really* saying something. The development in all your characters, and the wonderfully twisty plot are all fabulous.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 25th, 2010 01:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow. Thank you. I feel like I'm flailing a little, but I'm glad the story feels like it's coming together!
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: June 25th, 2010 11:58 am (UTC) (Link)
I know who the murderer is! Snape came back from the dead out of sheer hatred for everything and everyone in his life and went on a rampage.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 25th, 2010 01:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
:desperately tries to figure out how to cover up this huge crime spoiler:

;p
willowbough From: willowbough Date: June 25th, 2010 01:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Glad I didn't miss this one. While it's healthy that Ruthless is trying actively to move on, this period of adjustment is bound to be painful for her and Teddy. At least they're still friends.

And oh, boy--Rita's latest stunt has even Honoria mad? That's saying something, all right!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 25th, 2010 01:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm not sure she's going about it in the healthiest of ways, but however either of them went about it, it was going to be painful.
hungrytiger11 From: hungrytiger11 Date: June 25th, 2010 02:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love Ruth but I do hope that is all we hear about this particular storyline. Ruth really does deserve to be "Just Ruth, a girl starting out." Everyone deserves that after a hard break (and after graduating I think, but I come from a culture where everyone gets married right out of high school seems like...)

Oh! and what a cliff hanger! Poor Harry.

All the close connections to his own life (well, how could it not be seeing how close his life was tied to the rise and end of the war, but still...)

Lovely work.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 25th, 2010 02:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, I'm definitely not going to go into detail about it. Not my particular strong suit. ;p
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 26th, 2010 02:28 pm (UTC) (Link)

what you mean it's not your strong suit?

if you mean Romance.

you did such an amazing job with showing Remus and Tonks love, and the awkard and short lived yet endearing affair of Sirius with fiona...

you are probably better at writing romance than most average fanficers
malinbe From: malinbe Date: June 25th, 2010 02:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
That was a lovely conversation- so sad and sweet.

I'm thinking the Potions teacher, now! Or, still Sam.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 25th, 2010 02:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. They really did need to talk.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 25th, 2010 02:24 pm (UTC) (Link)

oh boy... and questions on next gen ages..

I know he was a really Bad corrupt politician who was only up to protect his own Behind but....
I still feel bad for Fudge...
a little part of me remembers him from when he was kind to harry in Prisoner of Azkaban and that part is shedding a tear for how gruesomely he got killed off.

(another part of me is glad you don't write Horror stories because I'm sure your horror stories would keep me up for months with gruesome deaths like these!)

and oh Poor Harry. GdDamn it Skeeter can't you keep your filthy busybody vicious lies to yourself for once.
now part of me wishes the killer visits Her... and she makes it out alive but can never write again.

more cheerfully, i like how Teddy and Ruth are dealing with the break up. with the awkardness and the "what if" on teddy's part but on Ruth desire to move on, yet want to remain friends.

it's nice to see a break up that doesn't end in resentment and anger and major regrets, where both can still remain friends.

my question is in regard to ages....

since this is Teddy's seventh year, so he probably is 17...
I'm guessing Victoire is fifth year?

the rest I'm not sure the ages...
how old are all the Potter kids right now, in this fic? obviously Rose and Hugo are on the same age scale....

then how old are Bill and Fleur, Percy and Audrey kids?


~A
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 25th, 2010 02:28 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: oh boy... and questions on next gen ages..

Well, Teddy's seventeen, Ruth's eighteen. James is seven years younger than Teddy in school years--per epilogue, where Teddy's nineteen on 9/1 (therefore beginning his second year out of school) and James is twelve (beginning his second year in school) but a little less in real years--he was upset at the beginning of this story that his eleventh birthday was after September 1, so he couldn't start Hogwarts while Teddy was still there; he's actually eleven now. (That's because I goofed in the James story I just did and made Al's birthday in October, leaving very little room between them if I didn't give James an autumn birthday, too.) Al is a year younger, per the epilogue, and Lily's two years younger than that, so ten and eight.

I'd made up Bill's family before JKR gave the names she had, and, after some deliberation, kept my version. In this story, Victoire is 15, Marie is 13, and Aimee is 11. At home, there's Artie (10), Muriel (6), and Lance (4). Like I said in the last chapter, Molly's a second year (12). I forget the name of Percy's other kid, and I have no age for him, I'm afraid! (Bad Fern, bad. ;p)

Edited at 2010-06-25 02:30 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 25th, 2010 02:39 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: oh boy... and questions on next gen ages..

thanks that clears things up.

althought it makes me wonder the Why the longbottom family to be starting now?

I understand them not being the exact age of the potter kids (otherwise we would have seen them in the train station nineteen years later)

but why not say... close Muriel's age? why now when they will be 11 years younger than most of the next gen kids?

Also you mentioned a schedule for posting the story? monday, wednesday, friday, saturday; or something like that?

~A
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 25th, 2010 02:52 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: oh boy... and questions on next gen ages..

Neville just got married in "Daedalus Maze," two years ago. No reason for them all to get married in tandem! ;p

My schedule is vague. Several times a week, but not real schedule.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 25th, 2010 03:00 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: oh boy... and questions on next gen ages..

oh. that makes sense.
hermia7 From: hermia7 Date: June 25th, 2010 11:16 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: oh boy... and questions on next gen ages..

Which has Neville getting married at 33 or so, instead of in his early 20s. Very normal, esp since he didn't have some high school sweetheart and I'd think dating opportunities would be thin on the ground as a young professor!
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 25th, 2010 02:45 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: on percy's other kid....

it's a She and her name was Lucy. he only has two children molly and Lucy.

hope that helps

~A
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 25th, 2010 05:56 pm (UTC) (Link)

Things that make me go hmmm

So I think I have a guess as to who the Killer might be but it could just be a red herring. I noticed a character that you finally brought to light in this story and would have working knowledge of what all of the people did who were killed so far. The thing is that he wasn't a good guy during the war. Oh well, I will keep thinking.
ascot_gavotte From: ascot_gavotte Date: June 25th, 2010 07:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Er what does "Too Close Now" mean? It hits too close for home for him? And I'm guessing that Rita Skeeter was spying on him while he was talking to someone else in private and is spinning it to sound like an official statement. Oh Rita, and just when I was starting to like you...
From: amethystbeloved Date: June 26th, 2010 01:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ruth's first visit to Hogwarts since graduation! It's very natural that some seventh years might try to pal around before understanding that this is her job, and there is a separation between he and them. The Ruth and Teddy conversation was very sweet. It couldn't have been easy for either of them, but I'm glad they did it.

Though Ruth may hope that she would develop deeper feelings for Sam real soon, your fans already know who she ends up with, hahaha.... Hard to believe since he can't even get into Hogwarts yet!
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 26th, 2010 02:07 pm (UTC) (Link)

wait what???

who does she end up with????
From: amethystbeloved Date: June 26th, 2010 07:31 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: wait what???

From: (Anonymous) Date: June 26th, 2010 02:57 pm (UTC) (Link)

creeepy.

and In Hagrid's area too. poor Hagrid.

I hope none of the forbidden forest beasts, like the threstals, started bitting pieces off fudge. the guy doesn't deserve to be someone's food. he also didn't deserved to die.

I hope they catch the killer soon.

als0 Hi! again.

mercuryravenclaw

From: (Anonymous) Date: June 26th, 2010 03:37 pm (UTC) (Link)

i like the characters growing!

you are doing a really great job on showing the characters growth. both your own characters and the cannon characters.

my favorite stand outs in here are teddy, ruth, and Ron.

Yes for Ron showing he remembers things and just doesn't stands there.

Caroline
29 comments or Leave a comment