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Teddy Lupin and the Needle's Eye, Chapter Thirteen: Christmas With Clan Scrimgeour, part 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Teddy Lupin and the Needle's Eye, Chapter Thirteen: Christmas With Clan Scrimgeour, part 3
Christmas Day. Teddy spent the morning and supper at Harry's, then managed to annoy Victoire when Ruthless asked if he might come up early to her place, as she was frustrated with her brothers. When Teddy gets there, he discovers that the problem is Ruthless's brothers really hate Sam, and have been on her case about him. Before he came, the twins had broken a vase of flowers Sam had sent, and, in a fit of pique, she'd burned them. Just as they're going back to London, she asks if he'd mind if they stop by her place so she can change, as she still smells of burned mallowsweet, which tells Teddy why the smell had seemed familiar.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far






Teddy had never been to Ruthless's flat. She'd leased it just before he'd left for America over the summer with Donzo, and he hadn't been there to help her move in. She hadn't asked him during the rest of the summer, as they'd seen one another at the Ministry and at Frankie Apcarne's Muggles and Minions get-togethers. He wasn't sure what to expect, and there wasn't a great deal to see. She'd obviously taken a few pieces of furniture from home, added what she could get cheaply at thrift shops, and not done much else. A few photographs had been stuck to the wall in a haphazard way--Teddy could see himself in a few, as well as other school friends, Ruthless and her family, and Quidditch games. The only piece with a frame was an Enlarged copy of her acceptance as an Auror apprentice, and this held pride of place between two unadorned windows over a threadbare sofa. Low shelves held all of her school books and whatever others she'd collected over the years. A few wooden crates had been placed around as tables.

"I know," she said, noticing him looking. "I could Transfigure them. But it just seems to take too much energy."

"I didn't say anything."

"It's ugly. I know it's ugly. I have no sense for this." She opened a door and pointed at a small, dingy room with an unmade bed at the center. "Doesn't get any better behind closed doors, either. Give me a minute?"

He nodded. She disappeared into her bedroom, and he wandered aimlessly around the living area. She had a very old radio. A few non-descript vases had made their way onto one of the crates, and two of them had a vaguely vegetative sludge at the bottom. Her waste baskets were full to overflowing with notes (and a few bunches of dead flowers), and a moth-eaten blanket was balled up at the end of the sofa. Teddy knew better than to do anything about it. If Victoire were here (he winced, thinking that it would be quite a while before Victoire came to visit Ruthless), she would have it put together in an instant, no matter what protests Ruthless made on the subject. Teddy personally thought it would do Ruthless good not to come home to this dismal box every day.

From behind a mustard yellow chair (with tufts of stuffing coming out at several points), Ruthless's cat, Ogden, emerged with a sleepy meow.

"Wotcher, Oggie," Teddy said. He sat on the sofa.

Ogden gave him a disdainful look, then jumped up on the couch and started kneading on his arm.

From Ruthless's room, a man's voice said, "Fine. Go back to the school room."

"Ruthless?" Teddy called.

The door burst open, and she came out, adjusting a clip in her hair. She was wearing blue jeans and a green jumper. "I'm fine," she hissed.

"What was that?"

"Sam sent a Patronus asking me to come over."

"Oh."

"I sent one back saying that my best friend is in town and I wasn't going. So he sent back a louder one." She smiled sheepishly. "He's a little jealous of you, I'm afraid."

Teddy frowned. "Ruthless, whoever you end up with best put up with me, because I'm not going anywhere."

Her smile brightened. "I'll remember to share that with Weasley."

"Well, er... maybe not just now."

She laughed and linked her arm through his. "Come on, let's go."

Jostling one another down the corridor, they made it outside, and Ruthless turned and Disapparated. Teddy looked up at her apartment, thinking he ought to get her some sort of present for it.

"Looking for something?"

He turned.

Sam Cresswell was standing at the entrance to a shop across the street. His eyes were cold and his wand was raised.

Teddy blinked. "No. Just thinking Ruthless needs some draperies."

"If she does, I'll take care of it."

"She has friends who aren't you," Teddy said, then Disapparated before Sam said anything else.

Ruthless was waiting for him in the alley. "Did you get lost?" she asked.

"Sam wanted a word with me."

"Sam...?" She pounded her fist against the wall. "I swear, if he does one more stupid thing--"

"Why would you even give him one more?"

She stopped and blinked. "I don't know." She shook her head sharply and said, "I'll think about that tomorrow. Let's go have drinks with my boss."

Her laughter was more forced as they made their way to Grimmauld Place, and her grip on his arm was more serious, but she seemed determined not to discuss the subject of Sam. Teddy assumed she was turning it over in her head, and thought it was about time to let her do it.

Most of the Weasleys had gone home, including Bill's family. Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny and Ron and Hermione and Professor Longbottom and Hannah and Granny had all retired to the parlor. Teddy and Ruthless joined them, and they spent a perfectly pleasant evening talking about Christmases past, what Teddy intended to do with his money. Sirius had vastly expanded his list of requests, which now included a wing of the Louvre and something called a "droid," which he'd seen in a Muggle film in the seventies, and now wanted to test as a work of art--could it or could it not be possessed by a painting? Hermione explained to him several times (in a voice breezy from a little too much mead) that the droid wasn't real, and would be no better to "possess" than the bust of Medusa above the parlor door. This led to a failed attempt to enter the bust, then a Transfiguration duel between Granny and Hermione that left the bust looking like a bespectacled Rapunzel studying a colony of snakes.

Teddy told her to check her protection spells that night, and she didn't argue.

Nothing happened on Saturday.

On Sunday evening, Teddy bundled James up and went back to Diagon Alley to join Frankie's Muggles and Minions game at the Charmpress offices. James didn't play particularly well or often, but all of Teddy's friends liked him, and he did like being admired. Frankie had also promised to give them a galley of their book, and James was poring over it studiously when the door opened and Ruthless came in with a dramatic bow. She looked lighter, somehow, than she had on Friday.

Frankie put a hand to his heart in mock surprise. "Scrimgeour! Back here with we plebian types?"

"Roll me in, Apcarne," she said. "I just got rid of some deadweight, and I want to get back to my life. Or Brass-Knuckles Bertha's, either one."

"Thank you, God," Zach Templeton said ferociously, raising his folded hadns to heaven.

"Amen," Teddy said.

"The lot of you can have all the I-told-you-sos that you like tomorrow. Tonight, I just want to play."

"Fair enough," Frankie said. "But can I make up a troll that we can all kill?"

"I have a troll," James offered. "He lives in a shack in the mountains and kidnaps girls."

"No trolls in Muggle-world," Ruthless said.

"Fine, a miserable burglar," Teddy offered.

"Can we make him cross-eyed and snaggle-toothed?" she asked.

"Our burglar is your burglar," Tinny said. "What should he steal?"

"Everything," she said, rather morosely, then brightened. "Let's make him hard to kill, so it'll take a while."

"You're on," Frankie said, and scribbled an abrupt change to his game plan.

She sat down beside Teddy and smiled. This close, he could see the dark circles under her eyes, and the redness at the rims. "Thanks," she whispered.

"I didn't do anything."

"You behaved like a normal person and he still treated you like dirt. Kind of hard to rationalize." She looked around. "All right, it's Christmas hols, and I see Lupin and Gudgeon. Where's McCormack?"

"He's trying to get Maurice to come," Teddy said. "Maurice has been moping. His dad signed the papers to take the shop today. He was going to be spending all day over there, and you know how he loves it. Rita Skeeter might even be there, to make his day complete."

They waited ten minutes, but neither Donzo nor Maurice appeared, so Frankie started the game. He put James's character with Teddy's, so they moved about together, keeping James mostly out of trouble. Ruthless put a signal bell on the table beside her, as she was on call if anyone needed an Auror and there weren't enough. Tinny and Frankie led them through what was obviously the original idea--a chase after a diamond thief--and moved on to the real power behind the thief--an ugly, stupid, foolish burglar. They tracked him through the Tube and into Heathrow, and were just moving in on him amidst precariously piled towers of luggage when the bell suddenly rose into the air and started a loud, insistent ringing. Ruthless stood up. "Have to go."

"Where?"

"The office to find out from there," she said, pulling on her cloak. The bell kept getting louder. "It's probably just some--"

With a flash, Donzo's Patronus appeared. It formed in front of Teddy and its jaw dropped.

"Teddy, get to Borgin and Burke's right now."

Teddy looked at Ruthless, whose freckles were suddenly quite prominent on her pale skin. "Borgin and Burke's," she whispered. "The Needle's Eye."
23 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
sophiap From: sophiap Date: July 25th, 2010 11:16 am (UTC) (Link)
I've finally caught up on this over the past week, and WOW. I absolutely adore this. I love the tension with Teddy and Victoire, and the complication that Ruth adds into it.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 25th, 2010 07:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! I do like Teddy and Victoire, and think they're a good match, but one has to give them complications. ;p
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 25th, 2010 11:44 am (UTC) (Link)

last line.... oh gd please let it not be maurice, not maurice.....

I have a reallllllllllllly bad feeling about this.
I hope Maurice and his brother are okay!
and sam is a possesive creep, i hope that was ruthless said meant she dumped him for good,

~A
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 25th, 2010 07:35 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: last line.... oh gd please let it not be maurice, not maurice.....

Well, having seen a few of these possessive things before, I have a horrible feeling that, barring other events, she'll be back that night to, "Well, of course he's jealous, I mean I do make a fuss over Teddy which probably hurts his feelings, he puts up with a lot from me..."
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 25th, 2010 07:43 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: last line.... oh gd please let it not be maurice, not maurice.....

i hope she doesn't

because then, that would give sam the idea what he is doing is okay. when it's not.

i mean I seen jealous boyfriends *not personally but other friends in relationships*

and i can notice the different between healthy jealous= wounded pride, suspicious, doesn't talk about it, says ocassionally mean stuff to girl or friend of girl, but eventually calm down.

as opposed to follow said friend and threaten him, or talk about relationship history in the middle of a public place.

that's two strikes for ugly not good boyfriend for sam.

From: (Anonymous) Date: July 25th, 2010 01:10 pm (UTC) (Link)

Wonderful so far!

I've been too busy to come for a couple of months, and this wonderful story has been moving along in my absence. I spent yesterday reading everything, now desperate for new installments! I love everything else you do, but I ADORE Teddy!

As for the murderer, I think Sam is the obvious choice, but I'm backing the new potions master for this one. He could have been leading Teddy astray on the mallowsweet, and we don't know if he has any personal connections that would make him do this. On top of that, Teddy believes the letter is from the murderer, and it's methodical. Sam just seems...well, not that way.

Thanks for the new story!
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 25th, 2010 01:17 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Wonderful so far!

P.S. I also wanted to mention how much I like the person Teddy has become. To my recollection, this is the first story where he hasn't been in some varying degree of emotional distress over his parents' death. So far the worst he's had to deal with is jealousy over Ruthless. I like the relationships you've put together for him with the adults in his life--always loved them, really, but they're great here. This is the kind of story you couldn't have written first. You needed the other three novels to give this one the proper depth. Kind of like Toy Story 3. Wouldn't have worked as a stand-alone pixar story. [/ramble]
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 25th, 2010 07:37 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Wonderful so far!

I'm glad you noticed that. I wanted the experience with the Resurrection Stone to fundamentally change Teddy's life. It doesn't fix the cheat, of course, but nothing can; I wanted him to learn to live with it better.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 25th, 2010 01:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have my suspicions about Sam's alibi...

(Aeterna)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 25th, 2010 07:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmm.
willowbough From: willowbough Date: July 25th, 2010 01:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Okay, Ruthless's boyfriend is now seriously starting to creep me out. At least he's now her ex-boyfriend, though--unless he's also the latest casualty of the Needle's Eye? Masterful cliffhanger, by the way--I'll be on pins and needles (so to speak) to find out what happens next.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 25th, 2010 07:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm enjoying it. I don't think I'll be writing detective thrillers any time soon, but I do like it.
malinbe From: malinbe Date: July 25th, 2010 03:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Uuuuh, cliffie.

Poor Ruth, her first experience outside of Teddy-world, and it's a creep bastard.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 25th, 2010 07:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah. She jumped in to prove that she could have a life after Teddy, which generally doesn't bode well anyway, and ended up with someone perfectly willing to exploit that.
spellcoats From: spellcoats Date: July 25th, 2010 04:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, no! Maurice! I know you certainly wouldn't do anything to him (and you've written a number of challenge fills with him a few years down the road), but this is going to be distressing for him. Hopefully it's not any of the Burkes, period. Though that would be a good way for a psychotic vigilante killer to lose his popular support really fast: go after a thirteen-year-old boy.

Wow, Sam is a jerk. Good on you, Ruthless. Though something tells me she should probably find somewhere else to stay for the time being.

Teddy told her to check her protection spells that night, and she didn't argue.

Her being Ruthless, I assume?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 25th, 2010 07:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Though something tells me she should probably find somewhere else to stay for the time being.

Probably a good point.

And I'll try to clear that up.
donahermurphy From: donahermurphy Date: July 25th, 2010 04:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Didn't Arthur Weasley make a throwaway coment about how unhappy and vengeance-driven Dirk Cresswell's family would be once he got out of Azkaban? And Runcorn had been the one to turn him in...

My money is on Sam, has been since I heard the alibi and his last name.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 25th, 2010 07:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
That was definitely the scene I found the Cresswell name in.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 25th, 2010 05:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sam has gone to the top of my suspect list.

In which case, being with Ruthless that night was a premeditated act to give himself an alibi, which moves him up several factors of ten on the slime meter. Even in our, rather less old fashioned culture, a guy who decides to move the relationship up to the next level to give himself an alibi is slime. One who does it because he's so completely focused on acting out his own feelings of anger at perceived wrongs that he can't even see how he's doing something similar to a women he supposedly cares about - using her for his own agenda with no regard to how this will hurt her - grr.

Add to this the fact that he's from a culture that sees sexual relationships as carrying heavy obligations. Even under normal circumstances (ones not involving vicious murders), he should have had it drilled into his psyche that sleeping with Ruth gives him a huge list of potential obligations to her (most people in their world would consider it reasonable and right if a woman demanded a guy who slept with her marry her). Not harming her by tricking her into being an unknowing accessory to murder - not to mention risking her career as an Auron - should register as a bare minimum of courtesy.

Instead -

First, Sam has a few hallmarks of a potential abuser. He certainly seems to see the relationship as all about him and his needs and is oblivious to how it impacts Ruth.

If he's not the murderer, this is still worrisome, but it could come down to immaturity - and being an Auror dealing with a really nasty murder case while being beaten up in the press AND having details of your relationship with your girlfriend being made public (certainly known to all his coworkers). His behavior is still a red flag, but maturity and experience may make him into a decent human being.

Second, if he is the murderer, he probably assumes that any "real" Auror would do what he's doing - or support him as accessory after the fact.

Third, this would explain Fudge's death and its implied anger at Harry. He probably became an Auror with the idea that it would let him strike back at the people he's angry with. Not necessarily a bad motive in the beginning, but he's become angry at the limits. He's also probably quite blind to the fact that these limits have to do with building something up - creating a just, humane society with the very characteristics that Voldemort and his Death Eaters were the antithesis of. For him, that lack of revenge represents betrayal.

Getting on to this latest murder (if it's Sam), he was angry at Teddy and Ruth. While he probably continues to rationalize what he's doing as "justice," I'm guessing that was a big part of his reason in going after the family of a friend of Teddy's.

Ellen
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 25th, 2010 07:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, murderer or not, he's sleaze. Can't answer too much of the rest just now.
etain_antrim From: etain_antrim Date: July 25th, 2010 05:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Way to end on a cliffhanger! There's a lot to like in this chapterlet -- Teddy living up to his intelligence and social awareness and Ruthless appreciating it. The ease of friends playing a game. James enjoying being the center of attention (much like the grandfather he's named for!) Sam looks suspicious, but perhaps he's just a young man inclined to jealousy?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 25th, 2010 07:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's good to see intelligent kids being... intelligent. Running off after the guy with a Beater's Bat might have been more fun, but would give him an opportunity, alone with Ruthless, to say, "You see what I have to put up with from your friends? I'm as polite as I can be..."
amamama From: amamama Date: July 26th, 2010 06:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Meh-iaow. As in a sound of feeling not too good but not knowing how to voice it properly. This is brilliant stuff, Fern. I'm back on track after hols, and Sam freaks me out. My only comfort has been the you have Ruthless and James getting together later on, so she's safe. *phew* But really, he's several kinds of slime. And I really, really want there to be a new update now, because "Oh! The Cliffie!" has me in knots.

I totally love and adore the grownups in Teddys world and how Teddy has evolved into a fine young man, who's able to relate to them in a constructive, positive way. Teddy and Victoire are also lovely, and their struggles are strangely fun to read. Feels very much like real life.

So go you! This is awesomely wonderful.
23 comments or Leave a comment