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Teddy Lupin and the Needle's Eye, Chapter Fourteen: Thirteen-B Knockturn Alley, part 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Teddy Lupin and the Needle's Eye, Chapter Fourteen: Thirteen-B Knockturn Alley, part 2
Two days after Christmas, Teddy's holiday is cut brutally short whe Maurice's parents, along with Mr. Borgin, are murdered. Rita Skeeter, who escaped by transforming into a beetle, is able to identify the culprit--the Auror Sam Cresswell, who Ruthless had just broken up with earlier that day... and she had been his alibi for the earlier murders. When Teddy is called in to give a statement, he suggests that Sam might have been dosing her with Mallowsweet, which causes false memories, as he experienced earlier in the year. Harry arranges for the Burke boys to stay with Andromeda and Ruthless to stay with Ron and Hermione. He asks Teddy to go along with Williams to Ruthless's flat to get what she might need while Williams starts a search of the place. Meanwhile, Anthony Goldstein comes back from an initial search and reports that Cresswell got his family out of their home and drained their Gringotts vault. He's now in the wind, and knows all the Aurors' tricks to find him.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far






There was nothing more to say. Goldstein went to Sam's work cube and started to inventory its contents (to Teddy's eye, it also looked suspiciously barren), and Teddy followed Williams to Ruthless's flat.

They stopped outside the door, and Williams said, "Look, I'm looking for evidence of either side. I don't think Scrimgeour purposely give a murderer an alibi, but I have to see what there is to see."

"There's nothing to see," Teddy said, and opened the door.

They both stopped.

The living room had been turned upside down, the handful of vases smashed. Even from here, Teddy could see that they'd been magically scoured first. "He beat us here," he hissed. "To get rid of evidence that he was using Mallowsweet on her."

Williams ground his teeth. "Probably. Let's keep looking. He's a bloody lunatic. He has to have missed something. They always do."

Teddy wasn't quite as sure about this, as Sam was an Auror and would think of all the same things Williams would, but he went on looking anyway. Williams took the pathetic little kitchen and living room, and would go over the bedroom as well. Teddy went into the bedroom to pack a bag and see what he could find.

Ruthless's wardrobe didn't open all the way, since the area between it and her bed was too narrow. He reached in and grabbed several robes, then took a handful of underwear from the top drawer of her bureau. He supposed he should feel uncomfortable about it, but the day was weighing too heavily on his mind to worry about something like that. He left the bag open for Williams to inspect, and Summoned her toothbrush from the crawlspace that she called a bathroom, off to one side. He didn't know if she'd need any of her other things, and thought it best to let her make that call later.

He looked around her bedroom. The top of the bureau was empty, though several smashed picture frames lay on the floor beside it. He resisted the temptation to repair them, as Williams would need to catalog the damage. The headboard had been built up to the ceiling with cupboards and shelves for storage, and on one of these, he saw a pile of six shiny Galleons. Looking more closely, he saw a note behind them. It said, "We'll do it again sometime, love. Hope this will cover it. Sam."

"Williams!" Teddy called.

The older Auror came in. "What?"

Teddy pointed to the tableau.

Williams recorded it on a bit of parchment, then Vanished it. "I won't show her the file," he said. "But I'm satisfied she wasn't covering for him. What are we missing?"

Teddy looked around the bedroom. The covers had been kicked to the foot of the bed, and looked like they'd been there a while. They were covered with ginger cat hair--

"Ogden!" Teddy realized. "Where's her cat? Oggie? Moggie-Oggie, come here?"

"Cresswell may have..."

Teddy shook his head. "No. He expected she'd see that note. If he'd killed her cat, he'd left him somewhere visible."

"Then he'll find his way back."

"No, that's not it." Teddy stared at the cat hair. "The best way to dose her--at least to convince her of something that happened at night--would be petal dust on the bedding. If Oggie slept here, and he got away, I want to find him before he cleans himself up."

Williams blinked, then nodded. They started searching under the bed, under the sofa, in the table-crates Sam had overturned in the living room. Teddy was beginning to think Ogden had gone outside, which would have destroyed everything, since a light rain was falling, but just when he was about to give up, he heard something in the bedroom. He ran back in.

A door at the top of the row of cupboards in Ruthless's headboard was being lightly batted.

He ran in and opened it.

Ogden hissed and backed into a corner.

"Come on," Teddy said. "Come on, Moggie-Oggie, it's me, not him. Come on out." He Summoned a cat treat from the kitchen and held it out.

Ogden sniffed and came forward.

Teddy grabbed him by the scruff and pulled him out, catching him before it would hurt him, ignoring the infuriated hiss. The door swung shut when it was jarred.

"Hold onto him," Williams said, and did a non-verbal spell. A faint, muddy light began to show through Oggie's coat. Williams's nostrils flared. "He's covered with it," he said. "I'll document it."

While he did so, Teddy put Ogden into an enchanted sleep and Summoned his basket. Williams checked everything in his bags, said shortly that he had more to find, and sent Teddy off.

Teddy Apparated to the front garden of the Romp and went to the door to ring the bell. Hermione opened the door before he'd even finished reaching.

"I saw you come in," she said, gesturing him inside. "I was going to put her upstairs in the attic room so she could have some privacy, but quite frankly, I don't want her alone just now, so she's still in the parlor."

Teddy nodded. "Do you want me to take her up to the room?"

"I'll get her settled later. You just... get her all right."

Teddy followed her to the parlor. Ruthless was sitting listlessly by the fire. Ron was on the sofa, filling out reports and keeping a wary eye on her. When he saw Teddy, he got up and left.

"I have some of your things," Teddy said.

Ruthless didn't look up. "How's Maurice?"

"He's at my place," Teddy said. "With Granny. He's not good, but he'll be all right. Granny and I will look after him. You, too."

"I can't even look at him."

Teddy sat down beside her, and put Ogden's basket at her feet. She opened it and began stroking the cat absently. Teddy put her suitcase down. "You will, though. He's going to need all of his friends."

She looked over at him. "Teddy... I swear... I remember..."

"It's Mallowsweet. Ogden confirmed it. It's all over him. It makes false memories."

"He was always giving me Mallowsweet. Growing plants was the only thing his brother could do. They had a little greenhouse."

"I found an effect--"

"I even read the warning about that!"

"It only happens in the dried form. No one uses the powdered petals, apparently. Except Cresswell."

Her face twisted painfully, but she didn't cry. "I remember, Teddy. Especially the night before Goyle died."

"What, exactly?"

"Teddy..."

"No, I'm telling you--there'll be something wrong with it. You'll see."

"I don't know. I remember, because... he said we'd be hungry. He said he'd wake me up in the middle of the night and we'd have breakfast in the dark and"--she looked down--"and he'd eat from my stomach."

"And he did."

"Well, he said he would. We both woke up, though, and we went into the kitchen, and we made quite a huge breakfast, then went back to bed and... God, Teddy, you don't need to to know everything do you?"

"No. No, of course not, but... just, what happened after?"

"We went back to sleep, and then got up and had a spot of tea and went to work."

Teddy thought about Ruthless's kitchen. A big breakfast would have left it impossible to navigate the next morning. "Was the mess still there in the morning?"

"What?"

"The dishes, from cooking."

"Er... no."

"Did you stop and do them before you went back to bed?"

"We weren't entirely in a housecleaning frame of mind, Teddy, what...?" Her voice trailed off. "I never got up. And Sam and I went to bed the first time at two. I thought we had breakfast at four, but I was famished at five when we got up to go to the station." She took a few harsh breaths. "The time doesn't work. Sam was complaining all morning that he'd pulled something cooking or... well, or... but the time doesn't work, and the dishes were never washed. Because they were never out." She blinked. "And he talked about how he'd made breakfast, but I remembered that we made it together."

"He suggested it to you," Teddy said. "And you were asleep, so you didn't see the seams when you didn't have a reason to look for them, but they were there."

For a moment, a triumphant flare of light crossed her face, then it twisted into horror. "He did all of this to me on purpose? Everything?" She buried her hands in her hair. "God, I'm such an idiot!"

"No."

"Yes! Yes, I am! I knew he hated all the victims. I'd even heard him talk about how Harry didn't do enough. And he hated my great-uncle as much as he hated Fudge, but I thought, 'At least he doesn't keep up the grudge against me,' and--Agh!" She started scrubbing her dry arms with her nails.

Teddy grabbed her hands before she could break the skin. "So what he did to you was like what he did to Uncle Harry. He hurt you, too. It's not your fault. He set out to do it deliberately. You didn't miss signs, because he was hiding them from you, just so that you'd feel like this when you found out. So don't give it to him, Ruthless. Don't feel the way he wanted you to."

"I can't not feel it," she said softly.

"Ruthless..."

She clenched her jaw. "I can't not feel it, but I can..." She stood up and pounded her fist into her hand. "I can help Ron and Harry find him. And when I find him, I'll... I'll have his balls for earbobs. I'll--" She shuddered. "No. I don't want to turn into him. But I don't think he'll calmly come stand trial, either."

Teddy let her go on talking, building up a steam of anger that was blowing away the deep depression. He guessed the latter would come back later, if they let it, but he didn't plan to give her time. For now, he Conjured small things for her to destroy, and let her keep fuming.

It was nearly midnight when Hermione came downstairs and asked if Ruthless would like to go to her room.

"I should see Maurice," she said.

"You need sleep," Hermione told her.

Ruthless looked at her crossly, but suddenly swayed on her feet. "I... I suppose..."

"Go on," Teddy said. "I'll tell Maurice you're concerned."

Ruthless nodded. She let Hermione lead her upstairs.

Teddy left a few minutes later, and went home. All of the lights were on. He could see Wendell in the living room window, staring listlessly out into the night. Granny was in the kitchen, brewing something at the stove.

"Lupin?"

Teddy stopped. Maurice was standing on the path, his face pale, his lips pressed thinly together. Teddy approached him. "Maurice, are--"

"Did they catch the bastard?"

"Not yet."

Maurice stood silently, blinking into the pale moonlight. Finally, he said, "I need to go back to the shop in the morning. I need you to come with me."
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Comments
insertparagraph From: insertparagraph Date: July 29th, 2010 06:38 am (UTC) (Link)
Nicely unsettling, and well paced. I'm increasingly baffled, as this plays out, about how this will become truly a Teddy story, and am beginning to wonder if it actually will, or if you're aiming wider with this one.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 29th, 2010 06:55 am (UTC) (Link)
Er... me, too? ;p
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 29th, 2010 06:51 am (UTC) (Link)
I can't imagine how hard it will be for Ruthless to cope with being violated in this way. I'm just glad you've given us so many glimpses of future Ruth and James that we know that recovery is coming. Thank goodness Williams is closing the file so that she doesn't see that horrible note. I do wonder how someone as obviously twisted as Sam got through Hogwarts and Auror training without someone seeing a red flag.

Of course, I feel terrible for Maurice and Wendell as well. I really, really hope that Geoff has the decency not to celebrate the murders to openly, but then, Geoffry and decency don't quite go hand in hand.

-Cara
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 29th, 2010 06:56 am (UTC) (Link)
I do wonder how someone as obviously twisted as Sam got through Hogwarts and Auror training without someone seeing a red flag.

They don't seem to be terribly careful about things like that. Draco more or less flatly said that he admired Death Eaters, Snape was disturbed and dabbling in the black arts... there's not really a mechanism in the wizarding world to pick that up!
sophiap From: sophiap Date: July 29th, 2010 10:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, poor Ruthless. This was all very upsetting, but in a good way.

Excellent detective work on Teddy's part!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 30th, 2010 03:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, Harry's not giving idle praise when he wishes Teddy would become an Auror.
i_autumnheart From: i_autumnheart Date: July 29th, 2010 11:55 am (UTC) (Link)
The one redeeming aspect I can see to Ruthless' relationship with Sam is that she ditched him *before* this blew up; she hasn't had this happen while still thinking he was one of the good guys. Though it's still not going to be easy to come to terms with being used like that... she has rather a lot in common with Ginny, really!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 30th, 2010 04:00 am (UTC) (Link)
I think Ruthless has had a suspicion for a while that he's not one of the world's great guys, but she had a lot invested in him. She hasn't exactly been Miss Cheerfully Happy lately.
amamama From: amamama Date: July 29th, 2010 12:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oooh! Nice. Love the details, love Teddy, love Ruth. But poor girl, she's got some tough stuff to get through. Good she's got friends like Teddy, though. And R/H taking care of her. I think going to family whore more likely to say "told you so" then leave it be, would not be a good idea. Good on Teddy to make her angry, it's a great help in coming out of a depressed victim state.

And Sam... While I totally agree with Ruth's not wanting to turn into him, I do want to make him pay in some way. Arse.

And Maurice and Wendell... I look forward to find out what Maurice wants to do at the shop, and see what they find.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 30th, 2010 04:00 am (UTC) (Link)
I think I can safely say, he will, at some point, pay. But it's only late December.
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: July 29th, 2010 12:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
This story is getting very deep and grownup!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 30th, 2010 04:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you. Though it does have some light teen stuff coming as well; it's one of those ages where the two co-exist in an uneasy truce.
willowbough From: willowbough Date: July 29th, 2010 02:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Eww. Sam is even sleazier than I thought--glad he missed Ruthless's cat, and good for Teddy thinking of the petal dust on Ogden's fur. And yeah, smashing inanimate objects is probably just what Ruthless needs to do for a while. Interested in seeing what Maurice means to do in the shop.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 30th, 2010 04:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Smashing inanimate objects is always good, though I recently learned that doing so is considered a potential sign of future violence.
etain_antrim From: etain_antrim Date: July 29th, 2010 04:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
I feel for Ruth, but she's a strong woman who will find her way through it. Of course, that will be much easier with Teddy and her others friends helping. Teddy is firing on all cylinders these past few chapters, letting his intelligence show. Smart man.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 30th, 2010 04:02 am (UTC) (Link)
I <3 smart guys.
malinbe From: malinbe Date: July 29th, 2010 05:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, poor Ruth. That truly is a horrible thing to happen to a girl, just when she's starting out. It's awful.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 30th, 2010 04:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, and he deliberately did it to her, as well, which ups the what-a-bastard factor for me considerably.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 30th, 2010 05:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Before this, while I wasn't going to give Sam major points on the human being scale, I was willing to think he was obsessed enough to think any "right thinking" Auror should agree with what he was doing, even if he or she couldn't come right out and say so.

In that light, he may have convinced himself that Ruthless would/should be on his side. In that context, the more he liked/admired Ruthless, the more he would have grounds to rationalize that he was just sparing her the difficulty of _actively_ supporting him.

His parting "gift" and note blow that small point in his favor right out of the water.

I suppose it says something that my first reaction to Ruthless proposed earrings was, "Eww! You wouldn't wear them where someone could SEE, would you? They CAN'T make decent earrings . . . ."

OK, OK, I'm just thinking of what she said as more cartoonish or unreal violence. With what Sam's done, I feel uncomfortable with not taking it more literally before she did.

Oddly, I can't think of a decent punishment for Sam. I like ironically fitting just desserts of the kind that are so much easier to do once you add magic into the equation. But I like them to be the sort that Teach the Error of Their Ways sort of thing, like Geoffrey being trapped in his own mind and (literally) being the victim of his own animosity with feeling empathy being the only way he can get out (or the only way that he can allow someone going in after him to get him out).

Of course, if Geoffrey's literally incapable of doing that, it just becomes equally pure nastiness on my part to put him through that, so that's a big problem . . . .

But, right now, I don't see any way that Sam could be pushed to seeing what he's done, even with far broader uses of magic than the HP world normally seems to allow. He KNOWS, he just doesn't CARE. I don't think experiencing the pain of his victims and their families would change anything. Something would have to happen to ease up his own pain and his own anger before he could feel that anybody else's pain mattered.

He's got things that could have done that and they haven't. He's got family who, I hope, are going to be properly horrified at what he's done. He _knows_ what he's done to hurt people.

Maurice and Wendell's mom doesn't even seem to have been much involved in the shop - and the whole family had to take steps to stay safe during the war. He's still trying to cover it with a veneer of "justice," but it doesn't even count as revenge anymore. He's a person with a lot of anger and pain who's discovered that hurting other people makes it feel better (at least for a little while). Dead relatives killed by Death Eaters could rise up out of their graves and tell him they don't want him to do this, and I don't think it would change anything because his pain and anger would still be there.

Heck, they could permanently come back to life, and it would still be there. What he went through - and the pain and anger that came out of it - would still have happened, and that's reason enough.

If the dead rose up and told him they didn't want him doing this, he'd only feel they had betrayed him, too.

Hope I'm making some degree of sense, there . . . .

Anyhow, ironic punishments likely to result in a change for the better so far escape me.

Ellen
silvery_wraith From: silvery_wraith Date: July 30th, 2010 07:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Goodness!

You're transitioning this story very well between teen drama and adult issues. It shows Teddy's maturity that he can operate in both types of scenarios while still trying to figure it all out himself.

Also, Teddy was on point in Ruthless' flat. Williams...you really should have been trying harder. =D I thought it incredibly cute when he was calling out for Ogden, such a serious scene and here he's calling the kitty Moggie-Oggie! Perhaps I'm just in a silly mood!


"I'll have his balls for earbobs." Oh Ruthless, I'm sure they'd be entirely too small to make proper earrings; if you could find them at all.

My heart really does go out to Ruthless. I know she's fictional but, damn, you put her through the wringer and I really hope she doesn't do something stupid in her anger/pain.
arien043 From: arien043 Date: August 10th, 2010 02:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Love the story! Absolutely crazily happy to find four whole chapters waiting... And boy were they meaty ones!

A question about the mallowsweet. How did Cresswell use it to fake his alibi? I mean, I understand it has some hallucinogenic purposes, but how does he steer the 'dream' along the lines that he wanted? Why didn't Ruth end up dreaming they were skiing in the Sahara or fishing in the lake by Hogwarts? Or something even weirder and more random, that didn't involve Cresswell at all?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 10th, 2010 10:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
It doesn't create false dreams, but false memories--it follows up a suggestion. When it happened to Teddy, it was right after someone suggested he use the Daedalus Maze to track the killer, so he believed he had gone from class out to Hagrid's paddock, used the crystal ball, and gone back in, and it wasn't until he got there that he realized there had been no chance for him to have done any such thing. (In fact, it pretty much was all remembered as he walked up the stairs.) What it does is magically introduce a memory. Teddy's was clumsy because it was unplanned. Sam rather carefully planned out what he planned to suggest for her to remember the next day.
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