Table of Contents and Summary So Far
"What's going on, Tinny?" Teddy asked across the Flitterbloom he was tending with her on Tuesday morning, after another day of snubs that had now managed to include Bernice, Ken, Roger, and even Zachary, who usually had his head on better.
She bit her lip. "Well... I can't very well... Frankie's a Hufflepuff and..."
"And Hufflepuff loyalty means not trying to help?"
"No, but..." She looked miserably down at the plant and trimmed a few stems. "Frankie started fuming right after you left on Saturday. Said you thought he was stupid and tried to trick him."
"I don't know what... He said you thought you were fooling him, pretending to help, but really just thinking he'd forget about it if you played along. Or something like that. You aren't, are you?"
"Well... I can't tell, it's personal, but there's a reason."
"You were trying to fool him, then?"
"For his own good. He'd have done the same for me. He did do the same for me."
"He pretended to help you with something for a long time, then told you it was stupid?"
Teddy blushed. "No. I just--he... well, he told me when I was doing something mad. And I didn't say he was stupid!"
"No, you just acted like it," Tinny said. She bent back over the Flitterbloom, and didn't say anything more than "Pass the pruning shears" for the rest of class.
"Don't worry about it," Corky said later, as they headed down toward Hagrid's cabin with Maurice and Donzo (Maurice had actually been the one to get the invitation; Hagrid had, against all expectations, taken a shine to him since Christmas). "He'll get over it. And the 'Puffs think he's off his rocker. They just don't tell you that. Loyalty."
"Then you're not angry?"
"Let's see," Maurice said, "you used a sneaky technique to get something done. I wonder which House is least likely to be angry at you."
"I'm not angry, either," Donzo said. "Frankie's getting weird."
"And when a guitarist's son says that," Corky pointed out, "it must be really true."
Teddy would have preferred not to talk about the subject at all, as he couldn't very well tell them that he was worried about Frankie, since that would mean telling them everything, and that wasn't his business. To his relief, they reached Hagrid's before anything else was said. Hagrid was out front with Buckbeak, tossing him ferrets. "Have a go at it?" he asked, offering the basket to Maurice.
"Will he bite me?" Maurice asked.
"Not if yer feedin' 'im. Just give 'im a bow, then, to be safe."
Maurice bowed to Buckbeak, who returned it, then wrinkled his nose and plunged his hand into the dead ferrets and started tossing.
"What year do we study this?" Corky asked, looking at Buckbeak delightedly.
"Oh, I don't cover hippogriffs anymore," Hagrid said. "Too ruddy dangerous the governors say. No, Beaky's just a pet." He winked at the hippogriff. "By which I mean a friend, o' course, Beaky."
Corky circled Buckbeak, looking at him curiously. "What do you mean, too dangerous? What does he do?"
"He nearly took a student's arm off," a strident voice said, and all four boys looked at one another and groaned.
"Yeh're meant to be havin' yer detention, Missy," Hagrid said to Honoria Higgs, who was standing on the path to the paddock. "And yeh'd be wise not to be spreading old rumors around."
"It's not a rumor. I heard it directly from Mr. Malfoy. He can't believe they've let you bring that animal back to Hogwarts. I shall be writing about it in my first issue."
"Issue?" Teddy repeated.
"Don't get her started," Corky said, affecting an exaggerated shudder. "She doesn't shut up about it."
"Nor do I intend to," Honoria said primly. "The school governors, following his"--she wrinkled her nose at Donzo--"little visit from the press during autumn term, decided not to allow any more coverage in Hogwarts from the outside. And the Daily Prophet insists on more than students' words to print anything about Hogwarts these days, so if there's to be any voice, we'll have to write our own paper. We used to have one, you know, back before the first war. It was called The Weekly Charmer, and I've permission to call it that again, right from its first editor. I'm talking to Professor Slughorn about sponsoring it as soon as I get back from detention."
"And yeh'll do it sooner if yeh actually do yer detention," Hagrid said. "Off with yeh, yeh're meant to be feedin' bowtruckles, and mind yeh don't start steppin' on 'em again."
Honoria turned her nose up and disappeared into the paddock.
Maurice made a face at her back. "She couldn't have ended up in Ravenclaw?"
"We don't want her," Donzo said.
"Maybe she and Phillips would have killed each other, and we wouldn't have to deal with either of them," Corky suggested.
"Don't yeh start with that," Hagrid said. "Yer year's small enough without talk o' killin' each other. There's bin enough killin' to be gettin' on with."
"Tell that to Geoffrey," Maurice said. "He said the other day that the pure-bloods were like the Tsars and had to be got rid of. I went and read about that. There was acid. I don't fancy it."
"I don't think he really means it like that," Donzo said, then awkwardly added, "I live in a dormitory with him. He goes off a lot, but he never says anything about killing anyone. I think he just thinks we should leave or whatnot."
"And go where?" Corky asked.
Donzo shrugged and shook his head, bewildered. "I don't think he's really thought it out. Perhaps he means us all to go to Canada."
"We don't want you," Corky said, and winked.
They managed to avoid Hagrid's cooking by occupying themselves with Buckbeak until dinner, when they all expressed shock and regret at how much time had passed. Honoria, apparently finished with her detention, breezed by them on the way back to the castle without looking at them. When they got to the Great Hall, she'd cornered Slughorn at the Staff Table and they seemed to be having a disturbingly productive talk.
Teddy ended up sitting with Chandi for dinner. She'd made a point of being friendly to him since the incident with the redcaps, and Teddy thought her very nearly as pretty as her older sister Parvati, now that he'd had a good look at her. She seemed to spend quite a lot of time talking about clothes, though. Ruthless, who was across the table, made revolted faces every time Chandi turned away.
Just before pudding, Teddy looked over at the Hufflepuff table and saw Frankie get up and duck off in the direction of the library. Teddy excused himself from Chandi's tale about a huge sale at Gladrags and followed him.
By the time he caught up, Frankie had walled himself in behind three stacks of books. Teddy pulled out a chair and sat down, peeling two randomly from the top of the center (Power Lines: Where Muggles Know Magic and something that seemed to be written in Ancient Runes). Frankie snatched them back and returned them to the pile. "You're not really helping, Lupin."
"I'm trying to."
"No, you're not," Frankie sneered. "I should've known when you didn't find anything. You always find something. Clever Teddy Lupin. You just thought you'd stall old Frankie until he stopped thinking he could actually accomplish anything important." He pushed his nose ostentatiously into his book.
"That's mental," Teddy said, and took the books back.
Frankie grabbed them again and slammed them down on the table. "I'm using those. And you already had one of them, though I'm not surprised you don't recognize it. It's not like you were really reading it." He put his hands between two of the book stacks and pushed them apart, looking pugnaciously at Teddy. "What do you think I am, some kind of sidekick who's just been sitting around waiting for you to show up so I can have a mission? You think that being surrounded by war heroes makes you special?"
"What? Frankie, that's--"
"Mental, I know, you already said that."
Teddy stood up. "You kept me out of trouble. I tried to keep you out. What's your problem?" He turned to leave.
"I had a letter from Carny," Frankie said quietly. "She's visiting my Aunt Isolda."
"Oh." Teddy sat back down.
"She says she's riding horses and having fun, but I can't think why she'd be there. No one said anything about it."
"Maybe it's a treat for her," Teddy tried. "With horses and so on."
"Yeah. Sure," Frankie said. "Or maybe Mum and Dad didn't want her there for another go-round about who's being disloyal."
Teddy held out his hand and pointed to Power Lines. "Come on," he said. "Hand it over here. I'll have a real look this time."
After a long time, Frankie handed it over.