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Teddy Lupin and the Needle's Eye, Chapter Twenty-One: Into Action, pt. 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Teddy Lupin and the Needle's Eye, Chapter Twenty-One: Into Action, pt. 1
Hoping to bait Cresswell, Ruthless comes up with the idea of Teddy morphing into Lucius Malfoy, showing his face and trying to tempt Cresswell into taking the bait. On his first outing, he playacts escaping from Narcissa and Draco's care, then goes to Knockturn Alley, pretending to have something to sell Maurice, who tells him to come back in a week. As he turns around, he finds a white feather from one of the Malfoys' peacocks in an alley behind him. The next day, the Prophet arrives, with a large picture of Teddy-as-Lucius and the headline "Look Who's Back."

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




Long thought to be an invalid, the article began, Lucius Malfoy--a Death Eater in whose home the followers of Lord Voldemort made their camp--was seen last night in Diagon and Knockturn Alleys, in London, apparently in good health and attempting business with the venerable Dark Arts shop, Borgin and Burke's. The new proprietor of the shop after the tragic death of his parents earlier this year, Maurice Burke, was able to put him off, but has very quickly become an outspoken skeptic of the idea that Lucius is in any way incapacitated.

"He did business with Borgin for years," Burke says, "and he's probably been doing it all along. He just assumed I'd pick it right up. I'm not Borgin." Of reports that Malfoy used a wand, Burke simply raises an eyebrow and says, "Unless he's learnt to point his finger and create knife-shaped fireworks to threaten me, I should think he's picked one up somewhere."

Whilst popular reports that Malfoy is under house arrest are incorrect--he is free to walk about as he chooses, though his wife and son claim to have kept him at home for unidentified health concerns--he is, in fact, prohibited from carrying a wand, and has been since the end of the war. Reports that this particularly dangerous, and reportedly unrepentant, Death Eater is once again armed are causing alarm among the wizarding populace.

Harry Potter, head of the Auror Division, is clearly spooked by the re-emergence of his old enemy, despite his attempts to advise calm. "Lucius is the responsibility of the Aurors," he says, his well-known face pale and drawn. "Anyone attempting vigilante justice will be dealt with severely. He is not to be harmed in any way. Do I make myself clear?"

When reached for comment, Narcissa (Black) Malfoy is coldly angry. "My husband is ill," she says. "He had a moment of recovery, but I assure you, he is not at all well. And quite frankly, if he did find the means to leave my care for a moment, in the current environment, I do not regret that he did so armed."


The article continued on the inside of the paper, largely quoting those whose lives Lucius had impacted rather negatively. The old paranoid theory that Lucius had been "let off" in a deal with Aunt Narcissa that allowed Uncle Harry to keep Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place--it was based on the idea that Sirius's will couldn't have been legally binding, as he was a convict--resurfaced in several comments. It couldn't have gone better for the plan if Rita had actually been in on it. Teddy, in fact, wasn't convinced that she wasn't; the angle of the photo was from Borgin and Burke's. She'd been attacked by Cresswell as well. Uncle Harry might not have got her involved, but Teddy wasn't entirely convinced that Maurice wouldn't do so and forget to mention it.

It was exactly what they'd anticipated, but Teddy thought of the feather in the alley, of the sense of being watched, and shuddered.

There was a slight thud on the bench next to him, and he turned to find Donzo, a copy of the Prophet in his hands, his face grave. "What's Maurice doing?" he asked.

"Why would I know?"

Donzo didn't bother to answer that. He looked at the article again. "Your godfather seems touchingly worried about Malfoy's safety."

"You know Uncle Harry. He worries about everyone."

"Mm-hmm. Is the damned shop safe? And Maurice in it?"

Teddy nodded. "For no reason whatsoever, I have a lot assurances on that subject."

"I don't understand why he doesn't close it." Donzo sighed. "Wendell could re-open it. They could spend a few years re-inventing it." He shook his head. "Never mind. I do understand."

"You do? Well, I guess, it's for Wendell..."

"It's more than that. He hates that shop, but it's who he is. Maurice Burke-yes-as-in-Borgin-and. I think he'd have kept it open whether Wendell wanted it or not. He wouldn't know who he was, otherwise."

"That's a bit creepy."

Donzo glanced at Dad's wedding ring, on its chain on Teddy's neck, but said nothing.

Classes seemed surreal that week, but oddly easy. There were no missteps. The next Sunday afternoon, he Flooed to Maurice's flat.

Ruthless was there waiting when he got there. "Maurice and I are having a tawdry affair," she informed him. "Ask anyone in the know in Diagon Alley."

"Yeah, sorry, Lupin," Maurice said, coming out of the kitchen with a bowl of grapes. "I couldn't resist."

"Who could?" Ruthless asked dryly.

"Either she seduced me, or I'm looking for someone to cover up my real private life, which presumably exists though I've seen no sign of it," Maurice said. "The gossips haven't decided yet."

Teddy blinked. "Er..."

"It's a joke," Ruthless said. "Well, here, anyway; the gossips really do think so. I'm a loose woman, after all, and he's just short of a Dark Wizard. But it's convenient, as I can come and go as I like, and keep you updated."

"Oh."

She sat down and Summoned a briefcase, from which she pulled out the white peacock feather. It was now protected by a Charmed bubble that glimmered over it. "This," she said, "was picked up outside of the Manor gates. That's the good news--no one has broken the security there."

"I hadn't even thought of that."

"Hmph. Here I was set to dazzle you with my deductive skills, and you weren't even worried." She smiled. "Anyway, they have ivy growing on the outside of the wall, but not the inside, and there was a dead leaf stuck on the back. It was probably caught by the wind and tossed over."

"Good."

"The bad news is that you Disapparated from Wiltshire."

"Yes..."

"You can't follow someone through Disapparition. It's possible that Sam was watching Malfoy Manor and guessed where you'd go, but it's also possible that he's been stalking Knockturn Alley, and someone else saw you go. Someone who then sent him the feather."

"Are you sure it didn't just fall off my cloak?"

"Positive." Maurice took a seat on the sofa and put his feet on a frayed ottoman. "I went back there--"

"You did what?"

"He went back there," Ruthless said. "Very much against Aurors' orders. Harry's livid."

"I saw the feather. I went to check. I didn't go in far, but I saw footprints in the mud. Then whoever it was ran out the back of the alley. Must have been Disillusioned or in a Cloak."

"He was in there with you?" Teddy asked. "Are you mad?"

"Apparently so. I had my wand drawn, and I wasn't planning on observing niceties, and I've already had this conversation with Ruthless, Ron Weasley, Hermione Weasley, Harry Potter, and the Minister for Magic." He gave Teddy a curt smile that indicated he had no plans to have it again.

"Hence, the beginning of the Grand Affair," Ruthless said.

"She's babysitting me," Maurice added.

Teddy absorbed this. He felt quite out of things at school, and quite suddenly wished, not that he was out of it, but that they were back. That this was all some elaborate Hogwarts game, and the Prophet was really the Charmer, and the worst that could happen was expulsion. He rubbed his head. "All right. So they're taking the bait. When I go out tonight..." He stopped. "They'll be suspicious if Aunt Narcissa lets me--him--out again."

"We have a lot of defense, you'll have to slip through it..."

"I should let her stop me this time." Teddy reached up and pulled Dad's ring off from around his neck. "I forgot this last time. It's a sure identifier, and I don't really like the idea of people thinking Uncle Lucius would wear it, anyway." He handed it to Ruthless. "Take care of it?"

She nodded, started to put it around her own neck, then put it in her pocket instead.

Teddy gathered himself, then said, "Maurice really does have school work. I need to get him caught up in Defense."

"Clearly," Ruthless said. She got up, gathered her things, and went to the door. "Burke, I'm going to be lurking in the shop. And don't think I can't watch you from there." With that, she left.

Teddy pushed it all away, got out his school books, and started to walk an unwilling Maurice through the detection spells Robards had been working on this week.

He took the convoluted route to the Malfoys that he'd taken previously, through Uncle Harry's place. The Malfoys had been putting on something of a show all week, with Draco Charming his appearance to float by windows as "Lucius" and Aunt Narcissa telling the various reporters and Aurors around the Manor that they needed to go away, as they were only troubling her husband. She agreed immediately that it would be impossible to "sneak out" this week, so they simply put on a pantomime in which Teddy tried to slip out the back, came face to face with a reporter, and was pulled back in by Draco.

"Would you like to stay for supper?" she asked. "You'd have to stay in costume, naturally, in case they're watching..."

"Oh, no thank you."

Aunt Narcissa, who looked significantly healthier this week than she had last, but still tired, nodded. "I suppose I understand. But after this is all over..." She smiled. "I have a great many regrets, Teddy Lupin, but the greatest is shutting out my family."

Teddy wasn't sure what to make of that; she hadn't simply shut Granny out--she and Bellatrix had actively injured her, making it impossible for her to have any children after Mum had been born. But if Granny had forgiven her, Teddy supposed it wasn't his business not to. Still, he didn't care for the oppressive sense of bad memories at Malfoy Manor, and didn't want to spend more time here than was necessary.

Draco, apparently picking up on some of this, smiled faintly. "Once it's over, Mother," he said, "Teddy will need to be at school on Sundays."

"Right," Teddy said.

He let himself be led to Lucius's bedroom, and from there, Flooed back to Uncle Harry's, where James was waiting for him with a fairly well organized plot for the book he wanted to write. Teddy promised to try the first chapter as soon as he got a chance.

"When you catch the Needle's Eye?" James asked, rather morosely. "That's when Dad says we can do everything."

Teddy shook his head. "When I finish my Potions homework. I'll write something tonight. I can't promise it'll be good."

"I can fix it later," James said, smiling.

He did manage to write a few pages that night, and they weren't terrible--it was largely an introduction to their pseudo-Marauders, taking place, on a whim, in a barn that resembled Great-Grandfather McManus's hawk roost. He also wrote to Uncle Harry, telling the owl to deliver it at work, to gently let him know that James felt he was coming in second to a serial killer. Later that week, he had a note from James saying that Uncle Harry had taken the family out to a Muggle film (the Potters tended to relax in Muggle venues in London, as no one knew who they were)--"and we sat in the parlor talking about it for an hour after!"

As March drew toward April, the weeks began to blur into one another. Hogwarts, London, Wiltshire; his face, Uncle Lucius's face; Ruthless and Maurice; increasingly long bursts of writing for James, who was turning in much better chapters in return than Teddy had expected; a brief renewal of his romance with Laura, which fizzled just as quickly as it started; classes, flying as a hawk in the moonlight, reading Honoria's pieces on the Ravenclaws. Sometimes, after his outings as Lucius (once the reporters got bored, he was able to make a few more forays), he dreamed of Death Eaters. He put his crystal ball out beside his bed, and the dreams went away, replaced by more pleasant images of Mum and Dad and Sirius. Fred Weasley sometimes made an appearance.

Each week, Ruthless told him what was new. Nothing ever seemed promising, though they were tracking some unpleasant ranters who vandalized the Ministry and several Diagon Alley shops.

Two days before his eighteenth birthday, an owl appeared at breakfast. It was carrying a soft pink envelope--something of a surprise, given that his name was on it in Ruthless's handwriting. The paper inside was the same color.

Dear Teddy, she wrote, I borrowed some paper from Lavender Brown, who was in Frankie's office last week (Fifi LaFolle is considering changing publishers, which may signal a crack in the foundation of the universe; you'd best look into it). Anyone who looks over your shoulder will see a mawkish letter fretting about what happened last year--don't worry, nothing too personal, and if you want to read it, just use Revelo. I assure you, it's horrendous and weepy. I got quite drunk before I sat down to write it, because I wanted it to be a convincing cover if anyone happened across it.

The real reason I'm writing is that Maurice has been carefully planting clues for the last two weeks, that Lucius has something of great value to trade. Maurice has gone out of his way to bewail his financial situation, and in the last two days, has made a great fuss about how all will be well Monday morning. I have ears on the ground--Extendable ones, from Weasleys, of course, disguised--and there's been chatter. The message has got through.

Sunday night. We take him down. I will be very close by--don't do anything stupid.

Love (the real sort, not the mawkish pink paper sort),
Ruthless
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Comments
a_blue_jay From: a_blue_jay Date: October 2nd, 2010 08:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Ahh!

I'm not sure what I like best about this chapter. It's just... yeah.

squee list:
1) The article.
2) The Great Affair.
3) Teddy isn't the only one that can do reckless things!
4) the phrase"gently let him know that James felt he was coming in second to a serial killer".
5) 16 word summary of a relationship
6) It's working!! ...cliffhangers... can't you just write the rest already? :P
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 2nd, 2010 09:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Laura and Teddy--it's nearly as grand an affair as Maurice and Ruthless.

This one's starting to warm up, finally!
willowbough From: willowbough Date: October 2nd, 2010 01:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Reading this installment, I'm reminded that one of the hardest aspects of undercover work is said to be the waiting around for something to happen. It's no surprise that Teddy's perception of time is doing strange things. But I'm anticipating the next big break in the case. And also looking forward to reading Honoria's remaining features.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 2nd, 2010 09:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, Teddy has a really prominent role, but he's not particularly in the loop, which puts him in an even weirder position than most undercovers.
izhilzha From: izhilzha Date: October 2nd, 2010 03:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, this is getting very exciting. :)

Also, I love Ruthless. (the real sort, not the mawkish pink paper sort)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 2nd, 2010 09:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! I'm kind of getting into it, and looking forward to catching Sam.
malinbe From: malinbe Date: October 2nd, 2010 03:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, there's a LOT on this chapter.
First thing that caught my attention were the rumours about Maurice- ahh, all those times you start saying "SO PEOPLE THINK I'M GAY ISN'T THAT HILARIOUS?" and wait to see the reactions... This is the first time he says anything about it, isn't it?

Also, poor Narcissa inviting Teddy for dinner- just yesterday I found the illustration and the excerpt when she tells Dora about how Remus ate the Forest Ranger, and she was so nasty. I like how much she's changed.

And Harry being so worried about Lucius it almost gives everything away, and Donzo realizing. Poor Donzo, he's the only one not in the know. He must be so worried now.

Anyway, little thing: I've been procastinating a domestic midterm by reading Hunter's Moon. Just in case you ever plan to go through it and do some edits, Laura Chapman is not included among the Divination students.

Well, I'm excited and can't wait for the final confrontation, although it makes me sad, because this is the last Teddy :(.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 2nd, 2010 09:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is the first time he says anything about it, isn't it?
The first time Teddy's noticed anything remotely odd, anyway. Of course, Teddy will have to have it spelled out--not being attracted to girls does not compute with him. He won't in this story; Maurice doesn't exactly come out until almost a year after school, and then the first person to know is Donzo. But I think Ruthless has a pretty good idea, and so does Kelly.

I think Narcissa is like Regulus--that one thing tipped her over finally, and after, she really had the scales off her eyes.

Edited at 2010-10-02 09:30 pm (UTC)
etain_antrim From: etain_antrim Date: October 2nd, 2010 04:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I do love Ruth! She's a terrific character. Plus, I really like Uncle Harry's pinched, white face and message in the Prophet article.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 2nd, 2010 09:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Harry's got to be climbing walls.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 3rd, 2010 09:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's his whole saving people thing. "I have to take down all evil in the world by myself, and I can't ask anyone for help, because they might get hurt, and I've lost far too many important people in my life in unbelievably tragic circumstances, so it's really fortunate that this hero-complex is the only neurosis I have." Of course, that's why Harry rocks! :)
hungrytiger11 From: hungrytiger11 Date: October 5th, 2010 12:56 am (UTC) (Link)
So much to love in this chapter:

I love Maurice. All of his actions. All of them. Also Donzo's and Teddy's conversation about him which is rather revealing in both parts. I loled at Teddy thinking anyone was having unhealthy thoughts about their idenity when he's the man who uses dead people's wands (not to mention, you know, talks to them through paintings, rings, stones etc. But the wand is so everyday). I also loved the bit about James and Harry- a very real little detail. And Ruthless and things that are "mawkish"
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