Table of Contents and Summary So Far
It was snowing lightly when Teddy woke up the next morning, making everything muffled, even the sounds inside the house. He could tell that Granny was making breakfast again, and he could hear James and Al chasing each other, but he wanted to stay in bed for a few more minutes, to...
He wasn't sure why he didn't want to go down yet. He just wanted to be alone. He stretched his legs, then reached over and picked up The Treasure of Tirza Malone, the first of the Tirza books, and got brainlessly lost in the first chapter, which introduced Tirza as the orphaned daughter of a dispossessed noblewizard, who'd held onto one precious possession, the huge stone known only as The Birthright Ruby. She was trying desperately to regain her family's home, which had been taken over by the villainous Malacquis clan. In the midst of this, she heard rumors of the famous jewel thief, Holt Oakenwand, who had stolen an emerald necklace from a banker's wife who lived nearby. It was all quite stupid, and quite entertaining, and he decided that he ought to learn to transfigure the covers into something about pirates, so he could grab a chapter or two between classes.
There was a soft knock on the door. "Teddy?" Granny called. "Are you awake?"
"I'm up," he said.
She opened the door and leaned in. "I have breakfast out, and--" She stopped and raised an eyebrow. "Is that a Fifi LaFolle novel?"
"I found it in the nursery."
Granny smiled somewhat sadly. "Well, if you have an honestly-come-by quirk, it's Fifi LaFolle. Just tell me that you're not taking romantic advice from her now that you're going out."
Teddy, who was thinking about skipping ahead to see if he could find Holt and Tirza's first kiss to get pointers from, said nothing.
Granny came over, plucked it out of his hands, and winced at the prose. "This is not how it actually works, you know."
"Sure. Tirza never gives rules."
"You know--no kissing in public, no googly eyes, that sort of thing." Teddy looked at her cautiously, wondering if the look on her face was because she didn't want to talk about his going out with anyone, or because Ruthless's rules weren't normal. He cautiously said, "Did you have rules with Granddad?"
"Quite a few. Most dealing with how to stay away from the Blacks."
"Was he allowed to say you were pretty?"
"It was a requirement of sorts. Ruth doesn't like to be called pretty?"
Teddy shook his head. "She thinks it's girly. Granny, do you like Ruthless?"
"Yes. In her own very odd way, I think she's a lovely girl."
"Do you think my parents like her, if they're watching?"
"They are. And I'd wager your dad thinks she's a smashing choice. Your mum might think she needs to be a bit friendlier, but she'd just wish she could be here to try harder to set a friendly example."
"What about Granddad?"
"Your granddad had a notable weakness for girls with a lot of danger attached to them. I'm sure he's quite fond of Ruth. Why the questioning?"
"I just wondered. Ruthless was sure that her brothers would all tease her."
"She has brave brothers." Granny smiled. "And at some point, she's going to have to drop the silly nickname."
Teddy wondered if she knew of any good books on kissing, if she didn't think Fifi LaFolle was a good source, but as he didn't really want diagrams and a list of possible curses that could be passed through the lips--along with detailed stories about having treated those curses--he decided not to ask. "Are the Potters leaving?"
"Harry has to go back to work, and the children want to go back to their rooms to play with their toys, though I don't think they've quite realized that we're not going back with them. Harry actually wondered if you'd like to go with him today. He's going to France, to talk to the cubs from Greyback's pack. I told him I thought you might enjoy it, but I didn't want to speak for you."
"It's all right for me to leave the house?"
"As long as you're physically traveling with Harry Potter, it's all right for you to leave the house. If you decide you want to wander around Knockturn Alley on your own, it's not all right. Are we clear?"
Teddy nodded. He said that he'd very much like to go, and asked if he could possibly get dressed first. By the time he got downstairs, most of breakfast had been polished off, so he just grabbed half a loaf of bread on the way to the Apparition barrier. Uncle Harry was dressed officially again today, with scarlet robes and shiny black shoes. He looked up sheepishly from the muddy, snowy ground and said, "Will you think less of me if I do an Impervius Charm on my feet as well as my glasses?"
"Definitely," Teddy said. "It's all anyone would ever think of Harry Potter--the Man Who's Afraid To Get His Shoes Wet."
Uncle Harry laughed and did the charm, then led the way out into the snow. The world had developed a soft white blanket, and the air seemed cushioned, flattening their voices. "I'm actually going to talk to Père Alderman's mother. She worked in the Werewolf Capture Unit for years--that's why Greyback took her son--and I was hoping to persuade her to come back to work to help us. I thought you might like to meet the others. And you could talk to little Neil Overby, who's settling in fairly well, now that most of his wounds are healed." They reached the Apparition border, and Uncle Harry held out his arm. Teddy took it. The world went dark and pinched, and Teddy felt like all of the air was squeezed out of him, then they were on a sunny mountainside, in an evergreen glade. A woman he at first took for Fleur Weasley was waiting for them, then he realized that she was younger, a bit thinner, and looking at him like she was waiting to be introduced instead of waiting for him to offer help in the kitchen.
"Gabrielle," Uncle Harry said, "I don't know whether or not you remember my godson, Teddy Lupin. Teddy, this is Fleur's sister, Gabrielle Delacour."
She smiled. "'Arry, eet 'as been DuLac for six years now. Teddy, eet is good to see you. My nieces write of you often. Especially Victoire."
"Victoire's my friend at school," Teddy said.
"Ah. Of course." Gabrielle turned down a path, indicating that they should follow. "Mirabelle is waiting beyond the trees," she said. "Zere is enough snow for the sleigh, no? She is in a 'urry. You weel see why."
Curious, Teddy followed. As soon as they cleared the trees, he saw a pure white hippogriff reined to a sleigh. Gabrielle bowed to it casually and it bowed back, then let her--along with Teddy and Uncle Harry, climb into the sleigh. There was a jolt, and then the sleigh was rushing along the ground, then over it. Below, Teddy saw the path winding up to the top. There was a large gap in it that would prevent casual hikers from getting to the sanctuary. He saw a flat area short of the summit, with two bowl-shaped depressions ringed by trees, and a narrow path leading to a collection of cabins arranged loosely around a village square. Gabrielle pulled on the reins, and Mirabelle circled down to it. As soon as the sleigh touched down, Gabrielle unhitched the hippogriff, which ran eagerly across to a paddock.
"Come," Gabrielle said. "You 'ave a moment. Fiona weel be zere anehway."
Teddy let himself be led across the square to the paddock, where he could hear strangely low-pitched chirping. Mirabelle was rooting in a barrel and came up with a dead ferret, which she chewed, but didn't swallow. Teddy was glad he hadn't had much breakfast.
Then he forgot entirely that it was nasty, as Mirabelle leaned over a fence and a tiny golden beak came up to take a bit of ferret from her. A downy head appeared, then ducked back down again.
"When did they hatch?" Uncle Harry asked. "Hagrid said that he'd been bringing Buckbeak down to visit, but I didn't know how well they'd, er... got along."
"Zey 'atched last month," Gabrielle said. "Buckbeak is a proud papa now."
"Can I look?" Teddy asked.
"Be careful," Uncle Harry said. "Hippogriffs are always a bit dangerous, and I imagine a new mother is nervous on top of it."
Gabrielle nodded her agreement. Teddy went carefully to the pen where the babies were, staying to the far side of it, where he wasn't in reach of Mirabelle's talons. He looked down. The bottom of the pen was lined with hay, and their foal-like hindquarters seemed more at home in it than their front talons, though they were quite wobbly regardless. One of them spread his stubby, fuzzy wings.
Teddy thought them both ugly and wonderful.
"Are you new here?" someone said softly.
Teddy turned around to find a small, frightened-looking boy standing in the shadows, holding a bucket of water. He seemed weak, and there were dark circles under his eyes. "I'm just visiting."
The boy nodded. "You don't look like you're one of us."
"Neil! That's rude." A woman came scurrying out of the shadows, brushing hay from her clothes and looking apologetically at Teddy. She was dressed in work clothes, but Teddy could see that she was very beautiful, with a cloud of curly chestnut-colored hair and a tiny, upturned nose. She smiled across the paddock to where Uncle Harry was now talking to an older woman, then looked back down, scanning Teddy's face hungrily. "You must be the Lupins' son. And Andromeda's grandson. I thought she was the most beautiful person I had ever seen. With the most wonderful name." She stuck out her hand. "I'm Evelyn Blondin," she said. "And you've met my foster son, Neil Overby. He came to us this fall. Neil, this is Teddy. His parents were very important in making a safe space for all of us."
"Where are they?" Neil asked.
"They died," Teddy said briefly.
Neil nodded. "Mine, too. Are you a werewolf?"
"No. My dad was."
There didn't seem to be much else to say. Teddy was always coming across the notion that there were worse things than losing his parents cleanly in battle before he was old enough to remember having them, but he rarely ran across a clearer case of than Neil's. He felt absurd even comparing it, and guilty for feeling sorry for himself yesterday. Neil had to have watched Greyback murder his entire family. Teddy had just slept through it while it was happening a country away. He didn't think he had any words of hard-earned orphan wisdom that would help.
Evelyn--Teddy guessed she must be the "Evvy" that Vivian had talked about--waved her arm widely, and a tall blond man came across the square toward them. He stopped to talk to Uncle Harry, then came around. He smiled, and Teddy was quite sure he recognized him from the pictures Dad had drawn, even though he'd been just a boy then. In the pictures, he'd been wearing rags, and had a skull around his neck. Now, he was dressed in perfectly ordinary robes, and was wearing a tool belt.
"I'm Nate Blondin," he said. "While Harry's off saving the world, he said it would be all right--if you'd like it--for us to show you what Lupin and Tonks gave us all."