Table of Contents and Summary So Far
Teddy let out a scream, and so did the small thing on the sofa. Its scream was high-pitched, then broke into a word, "TEDDY!"
"Lumos!" someone said, and the lights came on.
James Potter was on the sofa, wearing bright red pajamas with different kinds of cartoon dragons flying around on them. He flung himself at Teddy and kissed his cheek with a great smacking sound. "Happy Christmas!"
Teddy blinked and said, "Er... happy Christmas, James." He looked up to find Uncle Harry leaning in the kitchen doorway, smiling. "I didn't know you'd be here already."
"James wanted to surprise you. I asked your Granny if we could just come here from Romania."
Granny went over to him and kissed his cheek. "Did you have a nice trip?"
"I saw dragons!" James said. "All sorts of dragons! Uncle Charlie let me feed one of them."
"Giving Al a bath upstairs. Lily's in the nursery. I hope you don't mind."
Teddy shook his head. "No. Does she like the pictures?"
"She loves the pictures."
Teddy's father had decorated the nursery during the months they waited for him to be born, and the walls were covered with beautiful moving drawings. Teddy had left the room when he got too old for them rather than painting over them. His parents--until close to the end--had presumably had their own flat, but it had been hard to secure, and they'd spent almost all of their time at Granny's, especially after Granddad died. Teddy had been born in the very bed he slept in at home now. He was glad that Lily was in his crib. He had no use for it, but it always seemed a little silly to explain why he didn't just get rid of it.
"Sorry we're late," Granny said to Uncle Harry. "They wanted to exchange gifts after the concert."
"We listened on the wireless," James put in. "You were really, truly there?"
"And that was really your friend Donzo, who has karate?"
Teddy laughed. Donzo's Muggles and Minions character was an expert in martial arts, and he'd spent a long afternoon explaining it to James the summer before last. James had listened patiently--a rarity--and come out of it understanding that Donzo had the power to kick a brick wall and make it fall down. Nothing could shake him from this belief, and he thought it a good deal more impressive than a music career. It had even made its way into one of his stories about Martian.
As if Summoned by thought, a ball of brown fuzz leapt over the back of the sofa and started to attack the bright buttons on Teddy's jacket.
"'Lo, Martian," Teddy said, plucking him down and handing him to James.
"Where's Checkmate?" Uncle Harry asked.
"Professor Longbottom said he'd take care of her for a couple of days. Bushy, as well. He'll bring them tomorrow. Victoire thought they might be scared to be in a big new place by themselves with all sorts of strange people."
Uncle Harry nodded soberly. "Very conscientious of her."
Aunt Ginny appeared at the bottom of the stairs, looking flustered, a towel-wrapped Al balanced on one hip. She went to Granny and kissed her cheek. "I'm so sorry to have just taken over your house. We were going to wait as good guests, but the children got quite sleepy, and then Al managed to spill hot chocolate all over himself. I'd have used a spell, but quite honestly, he was getting grimy and I thought he needed a real wash."
"It's quite all right," Granny said. "But oughtn't small boys be in bed by this hour on Christmas Eve? There could be other visitors out there who are waiting for them to be sound asleep!"
James sat up, looking quite alarmed. "Oh! I forgot. Daddy, can Father Christmas get through the security?"
"I cleared him personally," Uncle Harry said. "But now that you've seen Teddy, you really must go to bed."
"Couldn't I have a story?" James asked, looking eagerly at Teddy. "Just a little one."
"Sure," Teddy said. "Where are you sleeping?"
"I set up the twin beds in the big guest room before I left for the Dukes'," Granny said.
James wanted to be carried up. He was getting big for it, but Teddy didn't mind. Aunt Ginny followed along, and got Al into his pajamas while Teddy told the story of the Three Wizards and the Star. Al contributed a sub-plot about earning stars of his own in Mum's lessons, and James helpfully informed him that he'd missed the point. The point, according to James, wasn't the star--"Well, not your star, anyway"--but the presents they were carrying, though he thought the baby might have liked a toy broomstick better than a couple of smelly potions.
"What else do you suppose they should have brought?" Aunt Ginny asked.
"Gingerbread," James suggested after a great deal of thought. "And a kitten."
Aunt Ginny nodded. "What about you, Albus? What do you think they ought to have brought?"
Al frowned in deep concentration, then said, "A little sister, like Lily."
"Other people can't bring you little sisters," James said testily. "Only Mummy and Daddy can do that."
Teddy thought of his parents sitting on the garden wall, making up names for children who would never be born. He forced a smile and gave the boys each a kiss, then helped Aunt Ginny tuck them in.
"They'll never sleep," she said.
Teddy shrugged as they passed the nursery door. "May I go in and kiss Lily?"
"Try not to wake her."
He nodded. Aunt Ginny went downstairs, and he heard her starting to to speak softly to Uncle Harry and Granny. Teddy pushed open the door and slipped inside.
The nursery was full of starlight, and Dad's drawings moved gently around him. A hippogriff swooped down, bending at the right angle by the door, and crouched above the skirting board. He bowed to it, and it bowed back, then he touched its head as if it were as real as Buckbeak. It flew back to the ceiling above where Lily Potter was asleep.
He went to the crib. Lily was a little too big for it--she was three--but Aunt Ginny had expanded it enough for her to fit in. She was sleeping soundly, little bubbles of spit gathering at the lower corner of her mouth. Her red hair had grown since the summer, and someone had put it into a braid tied off with a little green yarn bow. Judging by the sloppiness of the braiding, Teddy was willing to guess it had been Uncle Harry. He leaned down and kissed one chubby cheek. She made a comfortable sort of sound.
The crib itself was made from a desk that Mum had bought for Dad. Her own crib was long-since gone, and it hadn't been safe to shop for baby furniture during the year she was pregnant, so she'd spent her time taking the desk apart, magically re-shaping it, using its pieces to create a wholly new thing. The drawer handles still served as decoration, and one deep drawer left in the base had once held Teddy's nappies.
He tiptoed over to the rocking chair and sat down. People had once watched him sleep from this chair--his parents, Granny, Uncle Harry. Uncle Harry had told him this shortly after James was born, when Teddy had caught him sitting in James's nursery, looking fascinated as he watched the baby do nothing at all. Teddy supposed it must be true--there was no reason to lie about it--but watching Lily, he mostly felt restless. There was a little book shelf behind him, where Granny had kept his story books when he was little. A few of them were still there, gathering dust against a cardboard box that had been there for as long as Teddy could remember. He'd asked what was in it once, and Granny had just said, "Old books that you wouldn't like."
Having discovered The End of the Earth, he suspected what sort of books they were, and why Granny couldn't bring herself to throw them out even though she thought they were rubbish. He got down on the floor and drew the box to himself, careful not to make any noise. It wasn't sealed, and he just lifted the flaps. As he'd expected, it seemed to be filled with Enchanted Encounters novels, all of them showing beautiful witches pining away on seashores and mountaintops. He could imagine his mother sitting in the chair, either pregnant or holding him, restless as he was, picking up her pretty imaginary world and enjoying a little escape into some frivolous world where everything always came out right in the end. Teddy reached in and pulled a few out, then smiled. A few down from the top of the pile, he saw a familiar cloud of curly red hair, tossed in the ever-present breeze, improbably cradling a very large chest, upon which rested a garishly red ruby pendant.
The Treasure of Tirza Malone, the title said. Part One of the Trials of Tirza, by Fifi LaFolle.
Teddy plucked it up out of time and pocketed it. Part Two (Holt's Harriers) was only a little below it, and, to his delight, the final section, The Lost Treasure, was lying along the side of the box. It was shiny and new looking, but there was a bookmark in it, and it was past the end of the story, in a preview for what was to be the next Fifi LaFolle novel. Mum had got to read the whole thing. He pulled out the bookmark. She'd written the names on it at some point. The name "Ted" had been written in large block letters and circled. Then Julia. Orion. Mira. Carina. John. Raymond. She'd put an arcing two-headed arrow between "Orion" and "John," and he wondered if she meant that they were to be mixed as first and middle name somehow. He wondered, particularly, if she'd meant it to be "Orion John" or "John Orion."
Which was a stupid and pointless thing to wonder about.
He put the bookmark back into The Lost Treasure and took all three Tirza books back to his own room, then went downstairs to have hot chocolate and gingerbread with his guardians.