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Teddy Lupin and the Needle's Eye, Chapter Twenty-Four: Settling Accounts, pt. 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Teddy Lupin and the Needle's Eye, Chapter Twenty-Four: Settling Accounts, pt. 1
Teddy, Harry, and Andromeda have all come up to Mary McAllister's island, Mary insisting that Remus died owing her a year's rent, since he never evicted the Hogboon. Harry and Andromeda try to step in, but Teddy insists that they step back and let him settle his own business. Since Mary says there were also damages to the property, he asks her to take them around to see them.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




"As you like," Mary McAllister said, looking displeased. "Shall we begin here, in the house?"

"Sure."

She pointed toward a splintery door, which blew open into a dismal looking bedroom. "Go on, then. Look at the wardrobe. Claw marks on the side. Will you suggest there's something else that caused them?"

Teddy got up and went to the room; Uncle Harry and Granny followed. There was a cheap old wardrobe with a thin layer of wood veneer on it. Across the side that faced a window were four very distinctive claw marks.

"That is werewolf damage," Granny said softly. "Remus got the garden wall a few times while he lived with us."

Teddy put his fingers on the long, splintery grooves.

Uncle Harry touched them as well, then said, "This thing was ready for the rubbish bin before he clawed it."

"I know," Teddy said.

"And the floor! Look at my floor!" Mary called. "The edge was dredged up."

Teddy glanced at the cheap flooring, which was curling up where it joined the wall. "That's normal aging!" he called back.

"The bed frame wasn't broken when he moved in," she countered.

Teddy looked at the bed. There was certainly a crack in the frame, but there was no way to tell where it had come from--though he suspected that, had Dad or Sirius done it, it would be fixed. Then again, Dad would normally have fixed the wolf scratches; they weren't cursed when they'd been inflicted on wood veneer, as far as he knew. Leaving it could well have been nothing but petulance. Dad hadn't been in the best frame of mind after losing his job at Hogwarts.

Or he might have forgotten about it.

There was no way to know, short of using the Resurrection Stone, and Teddy didn't think Uncle Harry would allow a second use just to settle the affair of the wardrobe scratch. The portrait almost certainly wouldn't have such a memory stored, and Teddy had been through nearly everything on the ring.

Uncle Harry cast a Muffling Charm and said, "Teddy, this is absurd. You know it is. She has no legal right to any gold from you, and what she's doing is vile."

"I know," Teddy said. "Granny, what do you think Dad would have done?"

She shook her head. "I don't know, Teddy. He certainly couldn't have paid it."

"Would he have, if he could?"

She considered this more carefully, then said, "Teddy, your father hated being in anyone's debt. I think he'd have beaten himself up and tried to find a way to pay, had she found him. And I'd have told him he was mad, and shouldn't even consider it, which is exactly what I'll tell you."

"And Mum? What would she have told him?"

"She'd have talked about what an utterly wretched woman this is, and..." Granny ground her teeth. "Then she'd have offered to help, because she was Ted's girl that way more than she was mine, and I'm still not going to suggest you do anything of the sort."

"He really didn't do what he was supposed to," Teddy said uncertainly.

"And if Mary McAllister cared about that," Uncle Harry said, "then she could have contacted Albus Dumbledore at any point during the next two years. He was only difficult to find for about two months of them, and he did co-sign."

"That makes sense," Teddy said. He touched the scratches again, then went back into the main room. "What else?" he asked Mary. "Because I think I can pay what that wardrobe is worth from what I happen to have in my pocket just now."

"Hmph. The pantry. It's entirely covered in paw prints, and there's a stack of mysteriously yellowed Daily Prophets that was left gathering insects. All of them are from the time he stayed here."

"A stack of newspapers? Really?" Granny asked, her voice dry. "You couldn't have just vanished them?"

"I'd've done, but for the other things. There's also an umbrella stand that I'm sure was magically repaired, and the spell was done none too carefully. It was put together wrong, and it broke as soon as... well, we'll not dwell on that."

"As soon as they died?" Teddy asked, with some disbelief. "You're complaining that their dying broke your umbrella stand?"

To her credit, Mary didn't pursue this line, though she looked dolefully at a pile of heavy ceramic shards in one corner. Granny closed her eyes and put her hand to her throat.

Teddy ground his teeth. "Why didn't you just take care of it and clean up?"

"I wanted to ask him about it and ask for restitution, but I couldn't find him for the next three years, you'll recall."

"Because he was fighting a war," Uncle Harry reminded her.

Mary looked less than impressed by this flimsy excuse. "I let it be then, didn't I? Didn't come back until I knew his heir had the means to pay me back."

"How kind of you," Teddy said. "What else?"

"I mentioned the rock pile in back, which you already saw--quite a mess."

"It was a paddock. It's come apart over the years."

"And that business up front. I gave him no permission to add to the house, and it's been carved in ways it won't do for any buyer to see."

"Carved?"

"Aye. We'll go have a look, as you want one."

They all bundled up again, and went out into the rain. Mary stepped off the platform and went around to its north-facing side. "The whole thing is just earth built up and sealed with stones," she said. "Not what I'd call a professional job of building, even if I had given him permission. And this is the top of it."

Teddy went around behind her. There, in the flat stone that formed this side of the box, Dad had made a carving of Padfoot. Mum sat beside him, with her arm over his neck.

"Sirius said he hadn't drawn for years!" Uncle Harry said.

"It's not drawing," Granny said. "And Remus did tell me once that Sirius wanted to get him working on art again because he'd done a bit of art on the island, which wasn't any good--according to Remus--and Sirius thought he ought to get back in practice."

"Charming," Mary said. "But a carving of a werewolf cavorting with a young girl isn't likely to appeal to a buyer."

"It's not a werewolf, it's a dog," Teddy explained. "It's... never mind. I'd like to buy the stone from you."

"What?"

"The stone, I'd like to buy it."

"You can have it when you pay the debt. Something to seal the payment, we'll say." Mary pointed at the Hogboon's mound. "The mound is collapsed in five or six places as well. And can you see that rusty cauldron at the base?"

Teddy squinted. "Yes."

"It had rotten food in it when I came. He was feeding the beast, not trying to evict it at all."

"How shocking," Granny said. "With a bonus like you offered--being kicked out of the only place he had to stay--I'm surprised he didn't expel it the first day."

"Then you admit he was malingering!"

Granny rolled her eyes.

Uncle Harry crouched down by the stone, smiling. "I believe Teddy offered to buy this from you."

"It's not for sale until the debt is squared away."

"What do you need it for?"

Teddy sighed, and let Mary argue with Uncle Harry. He looked up the hill at the crest of the island, at the four standing stones that marked it, where he'd first landed. He looked across the stormy sea. He could remember one of Mum's memories in the ring--Sirius trying to teach her to dance here, failing, laughing at her clumsiness. He could hear their laughter in the wind, almost see Dad coming up from the ocean with fish for supper.

From the stone carving, Padfoot looked up at him, grinning his dog-grin, and Mum's eyes seemed to twinkle, even though the carving wasn't magical, and nothing moved or reacted.

Out of nowhere, he thought of sitting at Shell Cottage last summer, looking at the staggering amounts of gold that had flowed into his bank account, the tangible love of the shades who had always watched over him. And he heard Père Alderman say, Something like that held in reserve--I can't explain it, but I think there's a reason it's come to you. I think there may be a need for it someday.

He blinked and turned around, interrupting Uncle Harry and Granny, and said, "Where is this island listed?"

Mary frowned. "What?"

"You said you've been trying to sell it. Who have you listed it with?"

She seemed confused, but said, "It's been listed for nearly thirty years with Oakroot Magical Properties. I believe Marcus Flint is handling it now. But no one will look, due to the Hogboon--there aren't enough members of the family left who can come and go as they please and--"

"Call him," Teddy said.

"I beg your pardon!"

"Call him. Tell him you have a buyer."
16 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
amamama From: amamama Date: October 18th, 2010 09:04 am (UTC) (Link)
Heh. That's our boy! Good thing Andy and Harry are there with him, and good thing that he knows how to listen. Miss McAllister will get the sale - and a lot less gold. :-)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 18th, 2010 05:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yup. Especially since she's made the mistake of saying she's been trying to sell it for thirty years and there's a very small group of people who even could buy it.
malinbe From: malinbe Date: October 18th, 2010 01:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
That woman was getting on my nerves. The umbrella stand! Gosh!

Pretty stone, though.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 18th, 2010 05:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
I suspect she didn't quite think through what she was saying there, about the stand.
willowbough From: willowbough Date: October 18th, 2010 01:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
McAllister is taking the parsimonious Scot thing to extremes--I understand why she's getting on Harry and Andromeda's last nerves. Good on Teddy for not losing his temper with her. The Lupin patience is standing him in good stead. Dare I hope the island in total costs a bit less in the long run than the Remus-related expenses Mary is hoping to collect? Serve her right to get what she wants and yet...not.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 18th, 2010 05:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
McAllister is taking the parsimonious Scot thing to extremes
Ack, I wasn't even thinking of that! Yeah, she has to be a certain way for the whole interaction to work, and the island is at the edge of the Orkneys, so...
a_blue_jay From: a_blue_jay Date: October 18th, 2010 03:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
I imagine Harry and Andromeda will be overjoyed. Not. :P

"What the HELL do you think you're doing, Teddy?!"

Harry should take a look at the Prophets. They're all about him and the tournament, right?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 18th, 2010 05:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
They are. Sirius's little stash.
starnightmuse From: starnightmuse Date: October 18th, 2010 04:44 pm (UTC) (Link)

oh Good God! is she really that shrew as to..... teddy's little silver lighting is promising...

I am ever so amazed you are capable of presenting characters that give readers such a desire to kick them, and kick them HARD for sheer umbelivable level of "grating on one's nerves"

biggest example of MacAlister's level of annoyance- the umbrella stand- I mean REALLY? Really??? you havethat little level of common decency???

*URGH*

I feel so much pity for Scotts Everywhere for having This...This... SHREW as a TERRIBLE representative in the story.

on somewhat more pleasant reactions:

the carving made me tear up, it really did. (well Before that SHREW went and RUINED the moment).

I'm really looking forward to see Teddy try to buy the island!
1. because it would mean having something else of his dad.
2. So that MacAlister harpy goes away for good and doesn't bother them ever again; since she would have no island to bargain/make demands with.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 18th, 2010 05:39 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: oh Good God! is she really that shrew as to..... teddy's little silver lighting is promising...

I feel so much pity for Scotts Everywhere for having This...This... SHREW as a TERRIBLE representative in the story.

Hopefully, she's balanced by McGonagall, Ruthless, and Teddy's Grandmother Lupin!
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 18th, 2010 05:22 pm (UTC) (Link)

something smells fishy in here....

other than MacAllister lack of tact and... respect for the dead.
not to mention cartoony level of pickiness

i'm beginning to suspect she is manipulating Teddy into trying to buy the island... and maybe blow it up later.

i hope not.

~A
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 18th, 2010 05:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: something smells fishy in here....

Well, in the original story with the island, I'd had someone comment that she'd probably try to cheat Remus out of whatever she could. It seemed like she'd have to be like that to walk in after twenty-odd years and demand payment, which was what I needed her to do, so...
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 19th, 2010 02:11 am (UTC) (Link)
I am gritting my teeth and reminding myself that she is, no doubt, financially hard up and alone in the world, not to mention her own worst enemy. I'm also feeling a bit guilty that I find Lucius more tolerable. True, I doubt he'd say that about the umbrella stand, but I suspect it might have more to do with having certain manners hammered into him as a kid rather than respect for the dead, especially dead he might have wanted dead.

Either way, I wanted to say something to Miss McAllister like, "Oh? Had a really critical need for umbrella stands, have you?"

Ellen
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 19th, 2010 02:49 am (UTC) (Link)
I really think that was just a case of a faux pas more than an intentional cruelty. She meant to just explain that her property had been broken and shoddily repaired... only her proof of this was that it fell apart when they died. Which led to it sounding like, "Waah, waah, I lost my umbrella stand just because they died." Which even she didn't mean it to be.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 19th, 2010 05:11 am (UTC) (Link)
I got that. And I sort of am feeling guilty for disliking her so much (funny thing about your characters, I have these little lapses where I forget they're fictional, get peeved at them, then feel guilty for getting peeved at someone who may be tactless but isn't really evil - maybe not even malicious).

I especially feel guilty because she strikes me as one of those people who may be overly focused on her own problems but who certainly HAS enough problems to make you understand how she got there. I'm betting she's hard up for money and that she doesn't really have any family or social network.

And I like the way you brought in what Pere Alderman said and the island and the way you did it. It's almost as if Teddy is hearing, "Who knoweth whether thou art come into the kingdom for such a time as this?" and having the faith to recognize it and act on it.

Ellen
sidealong From: sidealong Date: October 19th, 2010 01:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Oh? Had a really critical need for umbrella stands, have you?"

With an appropriate wave of the hand, indicating her umbrella charm, of course!
16 comments or Leave a comment