Anyway, back in the land of the living, Teddy's at his grandmother's for Christmas, along with the whole Weasley-Potter clan... and Dudley Dursley, who has insisted on being brought to see him, even though it means having Harry drag him through the Floo, which he doesn't like one little bit, and swears he will not use to get back.
Table of Contents and Summary So Far
Dudley made a point of saying hello to Teddy, but mainly spent the morning huddled on the sofa, looking warily at the pastry tray until Uncle Harry promised him that there were no Weasley products on it. The pair of them talked awkwardly for a little while, sharing only one actual laugh, when Dudley mentioned his father bellowing about "unnaturalness" when George had come over with a singing poinsettia. Dudley did an imitation of said bellow, and Uncle Harry laughed crazily, though Teddy didn't think it was an especially funny thing. From what Teddy could gather, Dudley had decided to leave with George and Sophie on the spur of the moment, and didn't expect his parents would miss him until four o'clock, when they would serve dinner and expect him there. He'd heard enough commentary about a girl he happened to be going out with, and also wanted to avoid an appearance on his father's "blog."
"Goes on it every day, and talks about drills, except when he's talking about work around the house, and how well his drills do for it. He had designs to put the camera on me and show me putting up a new door."
"He'll catch you tonight, you know," Uncle Harry said.
"With luck, he and Aunt Marge will break out the sherry, and he'll forget about it."
"Aunt Marge is there?"
"Oh, yes. She asked about you. Dad told her you spend your days with a lot of criminals."
"Undoubtedly from my years at St. Brutus's," Uncle Harry said.
Teddy didn't follow most of this. It was their shared secret language. It didn't seem to have much in it, or to be used to say anything pleasant, but it was theirs, just as Aunt Ginny and her brothers had a language from growing up in the Burrow, or the way Victoire and her sisters could finish each other's sentences even while they were fighting. Teddy wondered who he'd talk to at Christmas when he grew up, and amused himself by imagining his friends and enemies, all old, dropping by. Of course, he imagined that a visit from Dudley would be rather like Honoria Higgs happening by his own house, trying to make conversation about the time she'd misquoted Teddy in the Charmer and nearly lost him his best friend.
He cast about for someone else to join, but the little children were all comparing their new toys, and he'd feel out of place with them, while Victoire and Marie had become quite girlish, doing some complex thing with one another's hair that involved braiding in some new things they'd got for Christmas. He drifted over to Professor Longbottom and Vivian, who were talking to Ron and Hermione, but it was too strange to spend time with a teacher outside of school, so he moved on to George, Bill, and Fleur, who were talking about George's plan to trap Greyback. Teddy would have very much liked to stay in this conversation, but Granny, deeply frustrated, broke it up, saying that she didn't care to have Fenrir Greyback in her house for Christmas, and if she'd wanted him, she'd have invited him.
The pastry tray and cut vegetables faded neatly into a huge buffet lunch, and James gave up comparing his toys to Rose and Aimee's in order to sit with Teddy and describe all of them, even though Teddy had been right there as he'd opened them. Teddy was feeling slow and full, and he hoped that Granny was planning a very late supper. He suggested going out to the garden, and James thought it a grand idea.
They walked along the path, deeply inside the security spells, and looked at uninteresting December plant life. James sniffed a rose bush and pretended that it smelled good.
Teddy sat down and glanced at a shallow stone basin that had been built to resemble a birdbath, though the bottom was strewn with moonstones. It had been his grandfather's Scrying dish. He didn't think Firenze would make much of it--purely a fortune-telling device--but Trelawney would probably approve. Granny said that Granddad's attitude toward Divination was rather lackadaisical for a Seer, but that he'd had plenty of good information from the dish. It needed a wand, so Teddy had never tried it himself. He wondered if it would work for him.
"Is that a Seeing Bowl?" James asked eagerly. "Mum found one in the attic, but she won't use it. She says that it belonged to someone bad and might show her bad things. I want to see the future, though. Could I see the future in this one? Could you see yours? What are you going to be when you grow up?"
"I don't know."
"Do you want to be an Auror?"
Teddy shook his head. "No. I don't want to be a teacher, either."
"Why would you want to be a teacher?"
"My dad was a teacher. My mum was an Auror." He'd always felt slightly guilty that neither career appealed to him much.
"What do you want to be?"
"An Auror, like Daddy," James said, and jumped onto a garden bench, grabbing a twig to wave around. "You stop right there... you're not going to get away from me!" He sat down. "Did you want to be an Auror when you were six?"
"No. I never wanted to be an Auror."
"What did you want to be when you were six?"
"A dustbin man," Teddy said. "I thought it would be fun to see what everyone threw away."
This career path had apparently never occurred to James, and he immediately started to spin a story about it, in which he was a heroic dustbin man who found a treasure map in someone's rubbish. He was about to tell the Queen about it when Dudley Dursley opened the back door and took a few tentative steps into the garden. He stopped just short of Teddy and James and said, "Er, I thought I'd... well, that is, I talked to Harry and he reckons it's not a bad idea."
"What's not?" James asked.
"Well--this bloke who's after you, he got out with people using normal ways. Boats and such, not magic."
Teddy frowned, not sure where this was going. "Right."
"If he gets your wand away from you, you might run into trouble getting away. I asked Harry if I could teach you how to win against someone bigger than you without magic." He seemed pleased to have got through the sentence, and smiled. "I was a boxer," he added. "Your mum and dad saw me fight once."
"How did that happen?"
"He was at my school to make sure nothing happened to me. Your mum came along for the ride, I think. They helped a lot. He did something to my memory to make me forget, but he warned me that he wasn't very good at it. It sort of came apart a couple of years later, and I remembered everything. I'm glad he wasn't very good at it."
Teddy shook his head. He knew the story of his Dad going undercover at Smeltings, but somehow, he'd entirely forgotten that it had anything to do with Dudley. He didn't think that learning how to box with Greyback was going to make any difference, but he knew the look on Dudley's face--the "I will give something to Professor Lupin's son" look. He'd once complained to Uncle Harry after a woman named Lavender had insisted on making sure he knew how to do his sums when he was eight, and Uncle Harry had been cross with him. "She's honoring your dad, Teddy," he said. "And she needs to do it. It won't hurt you to spend an hour at your sums, and it will make Lavender happy."
Teddy hadn't been thrilled about it, but after he finished the problems Granny had set for him and Lavender praised him, he saw that she was happy, and he rather liked feeling that he had helped. It didn't happen often, and was nearly always about Dad (Mum's friends didn't seem to feel that the scales were out of balance in the way that Dad's former students tended to, though Berit Ollivander had helped Teddy on Mum's account once), so when it did, Teddy felt that he could take with good grace whatever they felt it necessary to give. If Dudley wanted to teach him how to box, it could even be interesting, though he doubted it would ever be particularly helpful.
He shrugged. "I could do that," he said. "But we'd best keep it back here. I don't think Granny would like bringing Greyback into the house."
Dudley looked delighted. "That's fantastic! We can start, well..." He looked at James.
"Couldn't I stay?" James asked. "Perhaps I could be a boxer." He punched the air with tiny fists.
"If it's all right with Teddy," Dudley said. "But don't start using it on your brother. I don't think Harry would take to me teaching you to do that."
"I never hit Al," James said righteously, though Teddy knew for a fact that the pair of them pummeled each other on a regular basis for some reason.
Dudley didn't look like he believed this for a second, but didn't question it. "You're too small to really try it," he said. "You can stay here on the bench to watch. Teddy, you need to come out here." Teddy did so. Dudley towered over him. "Now," he said, "the first thing you need to remember is that you can't let him get hold of you. If a bigger bloke gets hold, you're sunk before you start. So you need to be fast..."