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The Secret of Ville-Sauvage, Chapter Seventeen: The Ghosts of Christmas Present, pt. 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
The Secret of Ville-Sauvage, Chapter Seventeen: The Ghosts of Christmas Present, pt. 3
Boxing Day, James is visiting the Sanctuary. After a pleasant Christmas dinner, the herd is thinned a bit, and James is sitting with Harry, Al, and Teddy by the fire. Teddy and Harry have some tension going on because Teddy agreed to help Amos Diggory talk to Cedric.

We're in Teddy's POV as he tells the story (I guess James is thinking of it as a narrative that he's visualizing, if you want to think of it that way), and, though he's reasonably sure that Cedric is not, as Amos worries, a revenant, having lost part of his soul in the crossing, he agrees to use the veil to put Amos's mind at ease. He's taken Cedric's model dragon as an offering and now kneels before the veil.

Table of Contents So Far

He can hear the whispering voices beyond the Veil. Not everyone can. Most who can settle for merely trying to interpret them, if they want anything to do with them at all. It's a crude form of necromantic fortune telling, not much better than a Ouija board, and prone to giving people the messages they want--oh yes, Aunt Biddy says that you may have the silver teaspoons; no, Daddy is not angry at you for selling the house.

Of the Unspeakables, only Roger Davies engages in this, and he hasn't done so often since Croaker told him that he was not allowed to write a column for
The Quibbler where he would answer questions from beyond. To Teddy, the whispers are as meaningless as the sound of wind in the long grass back at the Roost. Pleasant in their way, and a reminder of unseen powers that move in the world, but meaningless in and of themselves.

It is the ghost Helen who has held the key to speaking at will, though she says most wizards are not able to make the crossing. "The old poems tell of voyages, but those are metaphors," she has said to Teddy. "Lovely metaphors, of course, but the only wine dark sea crossed from Circe's island was the sea of the mind--you note that hers is the only island they actually returned to; that’s because they never left. She fed the sailors a potion to make them susceptible to the spellwork. You'll have no problem with the spells yourself. But it is not free, to you or to them."

Teddy, at first, does not believe her--he has consciously spoken to the dead, after all, since he was eleven, and strongly suspects that they spoke to him before then. Helen raises an eyebrow and says, "Yes, my dear one, but that is what is at issue--they sought to speak to you. You'll find it quite different when you're calling out on the river's edge."

He believes her after he searches for Regulus Black, who his grandmother wants to bury properly. He has become too accustomed to the fragile dreamworld he shares with his loved ones. He sees no river when he crosses over--that seems specific to the Greek understanding--but he finds himself floating in a dense, cold fog, calling out into nothingness. He can feel other cheated spirits moving toward him, reaching for the living. They grab at him formlessly, pulling at his mind. He understands that they are in pain here in this place, feels their garbled, mute desires. He understands that this is not all there is for them--he doesn't fully understand
what else there is, but he understands that they are here only because the door has been forced open, and they are called by their hunger. He does not stay to find Regulus, and leaves with the offering (Regulus's prefect badge) still clasped in his hand. He has never been frightened by the dead before, but their need is overwhelming.

Helen tells him that this is his sacrifice--to feel fear he has not known before, to know that he has to hold them back before they can overwhelm him. The trinkets he brings are merely to call.

He has gone back once since that first time, to search for Florian Fortescue (more successfully--he was able to gather where the body was, and it was buried), but Croaker has... well, not forbidden it, precisely, but made known his opinion that his Unspeakables were not meant to be used as post owls to the dead. It cost Teddy a sick day to recover.

And now, he is here again.

He holds the model of the Swedish Short-Snout in his hand, performs the spells Helen taught him, and finds himself in the void.

They are here already, hungry, nudging him in the cold. A bright flash comes into his mind as one goes by, a vision of a family he does not know, a need to be with them.

"Hush," he whispers. "It's time to go where you need to be. Peace." He holds up the Swedish Short-Snout. "Cedric Diggory! Your father calls you, through me."

For a moment, the only response is an intensifying of the psychic motion of the dead. The fog swirls, and voices which aren't voices seem to be saying,
But I will come, let me come. Teddy holds them at bay.

Finally, the fog in front of him takes on a shadowy boy-shape. Teddy holds out the Short-Snout. "Do you recognize this?" he asks.

The fog forms itself into a hand, and the model walks onto it. The hand solidifies, then the arm behind it. Eyes appear, white in the gray fog, then Cedric Diggory stands before Teddy, holding the model, which as frozen. Teddy can see it starting to melt. When it is gone, this will be over.

He first looks over the spirit, not sure what he will see, but knowing that an injured soul will tell somehow. There is nothing.

"Your father is worried," Teddy says.

"Tell him to be at peace," Cedric answers. His voice does not come from the form, but from the ether around Teddy. "Tell him I am safe."

"Do you know what's happening with the tournament? Why people are saying you might have been--injured?"

Cedric smiles kindly, and says again, "Tell my father I am safe."

"I will," Teddy promises. He looks at the Short-Snout. It is losing its shape quickly. "Is there anything else? He misses you."

Cedric thinks about this (as much as the dead can be said to think). "Blood," he says.

Teddy, with an alarming notion of the Odyssey in his mind, says, "What?"

But Cedric is now frustrated. Teddy can feel it. There is something he wants to express, but he--

The fog darkens, becomes black smoke, and Teddy is helpless as Cedric's fragile form is blown away. He can feel something malicious now, something ravenous in the wind. His first thought is Greyback--he imagines that Greyback would not mind trapping him here--but there is a sense of cunning and intelligence here that is not of a piece with what Teddy knows of his old enemy. It is a wickedly mirthful sort of presence, gloating. Teddy can feel its mouth opening, not to devour, but to laugh. It feels that it has succeeded in a great joke that only it understands.

Teddy lets himself feel the fear, then forces it down. "What do you want?"

It does not answer. Teddy sees shadowy caverns with tables piled with gold, a terrified woman, a little girl with bright eyes, a hellish chamber full of things whose purpose is clearer than Teddy would like it to be.

"Who are you?"

It laughs again.

Teddy gets to his feet, and ends the spell. He is standing beside the dais, leaning against its raised edge. The Swedish Short Snout is gone. The Veil is blowing calmly, its voices going on about their business. He knows, though he is not sure how he knows, that Cedric is back in a place with no pain, and he will tell Amos this part. It will comfort him. But the other presence, the one he doesn't know... that, he will share with Uncle Harry, and no one else, though he knows that sharing it means bringing up all of the old wounds between them. He doesn't know who it is--but he knows that something out there, something more dangerous than Cedric Diggory, is not lying still.

James blinked. "Wow. This is what you do?"

"Sometimes," Teddy said, smiling faintly. "Other times, I just do paperwork on how exactly I managed to break a five hundred year old icon by tripping over my own feet in the Faith room."

Al looked at Dad. "What are you going to do if it turns out to be someone dead?"

"It's no one dead actually doing it," Dad said. "Whatever Teddy felt was completely on the other side of the Veil. Someone on this side let the sirens out."

"Yeah," James said. "It had a footprint. Ghosts usually don't."

"A footprint?" Dad asked.

James told him about the footprint at the base of the wall under the sirens' enclosure. It didn't seem to be much more helpful than it had been two months ago.

Dad seemed to mentally file it away. "Well, I think you're right that it's a kick-off mark for a broomstick--also not known to be a ghostly hobby."

"He's right," Teddy said. "But there's something there. Something that shut Cedric up when he mentioned 'blood.'"

"Have you had any of your dreams?" James asked eagerly. "Your Mum's an Auror, maybe she can work from the other side."

Teddy laughed. "No. It doesn't work that way. Trust me, I asked. I thought it would be great if I could say, 'Yes, Dora Lupin solved this case for us.'"

"You have enough to be proud of your mother for, Teddy," Dad said.

"I know. I just thought she might like something to do. I sometimes get the impression that they're bored. Or I could be projecting."

"That's just possible." Dad sat up. "It does tell me that I want to look into people who have lost loved ones of... less than spotless reputation... to the tournament."

"But what if it's not about the tournament?" Al asked suddenly. "What if it's about Beauxbatons, or sirens, or some other thing that's just part of the tournament?"

"Is that what you lot have been working on?" Dad asked.

"We haven't got anywhere," Al said.

James was about to cut in and ask what they had been doing--which Al would have been forbidden from answering, at the risk of Lily's rage about "spoiling" her diary--but as he turned, his field of vision was suddenly full of feathers and talons.

He jumped back, thinking Teddy might have been playing some sort of Animagus game with him, but instead, he found a brown barn owl looking up at him from gold-rimmed eyes. Tied to its leg was a letter with his name on it, written in Elodie's careful copperplate script.
10 comments or Leave a comment
(Deleted comment)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 6th, 2012 05:40 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Double cliffhanger!

I'm having some fun. ;p
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 6th, 2012 05:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Loved the details incorporating the Odyssey. Also, I liked your use of Helen. I think she got a bit short changed in Deathly Hallows.

My first bet, of course, is Voldemort; but I doubt you're going for anything so obvious (also . . . I have this mental picture of someone trying to sew the pieces of his soul back together and making sort of a crazy quilt out of him . . . . Teddy probably would have caught some hints of that).

No, I'm guessing one of the villains from World War II or perhaps an earlier era. Not Grindelwald, as he died relatively repentant (I don't know if he was _really_ repentant or if he'd always had some things worth dying for. At any rate, I see him content not to mess overmuch with this side).

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 6th, 2012 05:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, my Helen isn't Helena Ravenclaw. She's a Helen who knows a whole lot more about Greek myths. ;p

goldgirl201 From: goldgirl201 Date: August 6th, 2012 09:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh wow, that was fantastic and creepy, I love how you are developing this. The malevolent presence gave me chills, looking forward to finding out more about who or what it is.

barbara_the_w From: barbara_the_w Date: August 7th, 2012 09:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Brief aside...


(sorry. are you as eager for Captain Vorpatril's Alliance as I am?)
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 6th, 2012 01:44 pm (UTC) (Link)

Loving these updates

Someday, someday you'll give us the full Regulus rescue right Fern?

starnightmuse From: starnightmuse Date: August 6th, 2012 09:46 pm (UTC) (Link)

oh no!

Wasn't really worried about it, but i'm glad Cedric really wasn't behind it after.

now we all have to worry about who could it be.

I'm 100% sure it's not Voldemort, but i'm sure that doesn't make it any less dangerous.

and oh, Elodie writting? wonder what That's about.
willowbough From: willowbough Date: August 8th, 2012 05:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Great to see more of this story, and it's always enjoyable to spend time with Teddy and to see how his life is going. What an ominous interlude--I hope some answers are coming soon.
From: erv2 Date: August 8th, 2012 06:50 am (UTC) (Link)
I will admit that the tense of the story "being told" did confuse me until you actually spelled out what was going on, but I see what you were aiming for. Although you now have me thinking about what your James thinks Teddy's first person view of this tale would be like. I know James is older now, but I doubt his hero worship of his big brother figure has diminished all that much.

Great stuff as always Fern.
From: amethystbeloved Date: August 10th, 2012 04:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Great Tonks reference! It would be cool if the good guys could work from the Other Side, but at the same time that would mean that the bad guys could also do the same, thus creating a never-ending war. :-O
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